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The defender is nutmegged along the touchline, by the wily striker, who briefly exits the FOP to run around the beaten defender. The defender incensed he is losing this challenge also exits the FOP, forcing the attacker to go wider to avoid a collision to the point where the attacker is running in behind the AR who is ran into by the defender seeking to stay with the attacker. This creates a messy confrontation. As referee your match your decision your reputation and your call is?

I can hear you all wondering about the vagueness of what is this messy confrontation? True it does lead to some what ifs but let’s think a moment as to the possible or rather logical OPTIONS available.
The attacker might be upset you DID not let him continue and mouth off!.
The Defender might start a ruckus with the AR, blaming him for getting in the way!
One team might be upset that you DID NOT stop play if their player is hurt ( or pretends to be)

If you surmised that we stopped played at this collision point to award an INDFK for impeding as the free kick restart along the touchline give yourself a pat on the back for knowing that not ALL free kicks for events off the FOP are DFK offences.

However, there is a RARE case to be made for a DFK offence as a non accidental incident against the official which is a leap perhaps for an accidental off the field collision but there is credible basis to think it appropriate given perhaps how the collision might occur. That though would result in serious repercussions against the defender as an assault, hence to think the entanglement is a deliberate event rather than one we let slide as just part of the match the referee MUST be 110% sure!

It is also a reasonable assumption, despite the collision, we might still allow for advantage to be used if the AR and defender are simply knocked over. Obviously, if they appeared to be seriously hurt there would be a stoppage but we are looking to ensure our AR is recovering and the defender is not milking it to get the stoppage. Whether you as referee allow play to continue or stopped play you must still be vigilant for irritation or confrontation created by the defending player's action and if our AR is in any danger or retaliation or abuse.

Should we use advantage and the mix-up/spill is not overtly turned into an ugly moment by a disappointed player there is little need to think we MUST caution and show a yellow card at a later moment! WE can cut some slack as the off field actions are part of momentum and normal play rather than define the exit as a deliberate one to foul the opponent. Still if the AR gets no apology and only flak that card debate could change to most likely.

. Sal chicago IL USA
The defender left the field of play to commit an act of unsporting behavior by deliberately impeding the attacker. The defender did not go for the ball, which is still in the field of play, but opted to leave the FOP to chase the attacker. Restart is an IFK from where the ball was for the attacker and a yellow card for the defender. Now, had the impeding been done by making contact, then a DFK and YC. I would not have allowed play to reach the AR.
Paul Hofmann Smyrna GA USA
"Play On" As written, it sounds like Mr. Defender "incensed that he was losing this challenge" was NOT attempting to make any play on the ball, but rather trying to illegally impede the progress of his opponent, who had legally left the field during normal play. No need for a whistle though, as the striker appears to have achieved a legal advantage from the infraction of the defender, and assuming the A/R was in proper position, the attacker is now past most if not all defenders except the keeper. If any advantage was lost, the whistle would blow and the restart would depend on a bunch of variables not mentioned in the question. Who did the confrontation involve and how messy was it? As written though it appears as if the striker is long gone with a clear advantage. Hold the whistle and see what happens. Come back and card the defender if his confrontation earned him the booking.
Adrian Lee Seattle WA USA
Allow play to continue. Players allowed to leave field of play as a part of play without being cautioned for infringing the LOTG. Referees are considered a part of the field so unless Center deems contact with AR keeps him from applying the LOTG, or that serious injury has not occurred then no need to stop play.
Simon from Palm Island queensland Australia
Quickly assess is this wily striker on a good attacking play? Is there benefit to allow his advance to continue? Is the confrontation too severe to allow continue? The defender has crossed boundaries here (yes pun intended), but I will not reward him by doing his job and stopping play (the attacking move) to deal with him just yet. He will get his just deserts in a moment; and if it is after a goal will just be the cherry on top. If no promising play evident, or if the attacking move breaks down, then stop play to deal with the issue (either the violent conduct against official/or subsequent confrontation) off the field will result in a card of some colour. The re-start, is an IDFK where ball was when play stopped (or kick off – if goal). Any contact with an official is unconscionable, but I would take advice from the AR, as to whether he thought the defender made a deliberate run to collide with him and create the situation to try to pass blame away from himself for not staying with the striker, or if he thought the contact was an accident. If the former then he is dismissed for violent conduct towards an official and he can explain his actions to the judiciary. If it is an accident then a yellow for USB. Any fault is his, as it is outside of the field where the defender should not be anyway and the resulting confrontation was caused by him.
Derek Cary IL USA
Impeding by the defender. Assuming that the ball is not within playing distance of either player, the defender is purposely running into the path of the attacker to force him to slow down or run around. The attacker in this case is running around which is causing a dangerous situation with the AR. If this happened on the FOP and the AR was not an issue, then I would not think about this twice and let play continue. But because the defender's actions caused a dangerous situation for the attacker (and also the AR), I am more inclined to stop play and award the IFK or play on with advantage.
Russell Sydney Australia
Stop play and award a DFK against the defender for impeding the attacking players progress (without contact), and having left the FOP as part of play. Temptation might be there to allow play to continue if there is a promising attack, however, as much as the collision is likely to have been an accident, there appears to be deliberate movement to impede the attacker. The LOTG state... Impeding the progress of an opponent means moving into the opponent’s path to obstruct, block, slow down or force a change of direction... Had this been in the FOP, then an IDFK would be the restart, however, the new rules state... if the player leaves the field of play to commit the offence, play is restarted with an indirect free kick from the position of the ball when play was stopped. HOWEVER, if a player leaves the field of play as part of play and commits an offence against another player, play is restarted with a free kick taken on the boundary line nearest to where the offence occurred; for direct free kick offences a penalty kick is awarded if this is within the offender’s penalty area.
Nate Lloyd USA
The attacker went out of bounds during the normal course of play, which is permitted. The defender went out of bounds in order to confront the attacker, which is not permitted. Stop play, caution the defender for leaving the field of play without permission, and restart with an indirect free kick for the attackers (because play was stopped to issue a caution).

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