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Question Number: 23179

Law 5 - The Referee 4/25/2010

RE: Select Under 18

Bob Loehr of Mason, OH USA asks...

Would like to get a further interpretation of this situation below:

Please note: We played in a tourney this weekend in Columbus OH. Tourney info said we would play under FIFA/USSF rules. Also, because of a rain situation and game delays AND a shortage of ref's for our game, the game was ref'd by a 2-man system (NOT center ref and 2 AR's).


My defender cleared the ball over the touch line with 30 seconds to go in our recent tourney game. Just as the ball went out of bounds or a second or 2 later, the opposing player slide into my player after he had already released / cleared the ball. The ref immediately blew the whistle and gave a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. As he was writing the players name/# on the card the opposing team took a throw in (again, we had kicked it out) catching us off guard since we did not think play was resumed yet. Their player basically walked into the goal box all alone and scored. The ref did not blow his whistle to resume play and also did not 'say' let's play.

Anyway the ref allowed the thrown in and we lost the game.

I did protest after the game. The Director of ref's for the tourney stated that since the ball was kicked out by us and the foul occurred after the ball was out of play, that play could be restarted by the action of the thrown-in and that the ref did not have to signal the start of play by blowing his whistle again. While he said that the ref 'in fairness' should have been more clear as to when play was restarted, he was not obligated to blow his whistle since under the rules of the tourney (FIFA/USSF) he does not have to use his whistle to since this was a dead ball situation. I thought since he blew his whistle to call the foul, he should have blew his whistle or at least indicated that play was resuming by a 'lets play' command. Neither of those happened.

What is your take??

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

A 2-man system definitely isn't permissible under FIFA rules - USSF rules differ to FIFA rules on several instances.

My response is based on the FIFA laws of the game.

Page 76 of the laws of the game - - states that while a whistle is needed to restart play when it has been stopped by the referee to issue a card, that technically isn't what happened here. As the ball was already out of play, the referee has not stopped play; play was already stopped.

Shortly after that, the laws state that a whistle is not needed for a restart from a throw in.

Technically, the referee was correct - although this was poor practice by the official for the simple reason that he has delayed the restart to take control of the situation, thus most players will assume the referee will remain in control at the restart.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Bob
First off FIFA/USSF does not allow the two referee situation. I can understand why but if there is a shortage of officials I believe one referee in this game should have been used .
Anyway in relation to the situation you describe, the referee has done nothing wrong in law. His mechanics may have been poor as it is recommended that he use the whistle to restart the game after a caution.
Having said that the only player that should have been 'disadvantaged' was the player that was cautioned and the rest of the team should have been 'switched on' ready for the throw in. I would ask the question why players seeing an opponent with the ball in his hands in the TI position were not tuned in enough to get in position, pick up their opponents and be prepared for the restart. Even if the referee had blown the whistle just before the TI would it it have made any difference. I suspect it would not.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The interpretation in the United States is that the referee should have held up the restart after cautioning the player and restart play with a whistle.

USSF in 2009 addressed a similar situation in its Lessons Learned from MLS (Week 35). There the referee allowed advantage and went back to caution a player after the ball went out of play. USSF opined:

'Once the ball is out of play and before play is restarted, the referee returns to the player who committed the foul and cautions him. Since the referee must issue the caution before play restarts, he holds up play and does not allow the team to take the throw-in until the yellow card is issued and the information recorded. Finally, since a caution was given, the referee (as is the case in this clip) must whistle for play to restart.'

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Answer provided by Referee Steve Montanino

Recent change to FIFA's interpretation and guidance suggests that the referee shall blow a whistle to restart play after a cautioning a player.

The issue is a tricky one though. Interpretations are how the laws shall be applied, but not specifically the laws themselves. Further, it's up to the tournament to decide how to handle these sorts of protests.

Finally, sloppy as the referee may have been, and probably incorrect to allow the restart, let this be a lesson to your team. Never let your guard down in this game, the minute you do, the ball will be found in the back of your net.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

It is sad when a tournament hides behind the USSF/FIFA playing laws, but then violates them completely by using the two man system! For shame!! I would report them to the State Referee Administrator in Ohio and if you have one, the State Youth Referee Administrator. That is grounds for the assignor to lose his certification or be suspended.

The referee crew did a poor job here. Blowing his whistle for the misconduct (no foul, since according to your time line, the ball was already out of play) and issuing the caution for the reckless tackle, taking the time to write it down, and allowing play to restart while he was in the process of doing this is unfair. Not illegal, but certainly not best practice. By blowing his whistle, he brings everything to a full stop, and it is a reasonable expectation in such circumstances that he will restart it the same way, or with at least some indication that play may resume. The director of referees was doing a CYA , which I understand, but nonetheless you need to kick this upstairs.

A referee who is issuing a caution cannot allow play to restart while he is taking care of business. If the play restarts before he can get the card out, he cannot issue the caution without blowing the whistle to stop the restart/play. It is simple logic. And once he is through with the business of issuing the caution, he should indicate, hopefully with the whistle, but at a minimum with a voice or body language indication, that play may restart.

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