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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 23403

Law 8 - Start and Restart of Play 6/1/2010

RE: 1 Adult

Liam Mc Guirk of Dublin, Ireland asks...

I am replying to a question i posed to your panel a couple of days ago concerning the changing of ends at the start of the second half of play and where the ref has realised after ten minutes that the teams have not switched around and are playing in the same direction,as i said this question came up at a recent seminar which was held by the Football Association Of Ireland and conducted by their head referee assessor Mr John Scanlon,one of your panel Mr Joe Mc Hugh (who is a referee in Ireland and i am sure would of attended one of the seminars which are compulsory along with a fitness test if you are to maintain your status as a grade one or two referee)in his reply to my question he stated that it was not covered in the laws of the game, under law 8 it clearly states that 'in the second half of the match,the teams change ends and attack the opposite goal'so while it is in the rule book it does not give you an explanation as to the procedure if this is not carried out at the restart of the second half but the question was originaly put to us because the answer given at the seminar was the offical Fifa directive and where it might never happen it did cause great debate and led to the question i originaly asked about the booking of players and the scoring of goals during the time played before the mistake was noticed, we asked for the point to be clarified
and the our association have contacted FIFA and are awaiting a reply, which if you would like i will pass on to your panel for discussion.I hope you do not feel i am questioning Mr Mc Hugh and his knowledge of the game in fact i applaud him for giving his time to this wonderful site but as we all know football causes some of the best debates and is one of the reasons we love it so much.

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

The Laws direct teams to switch ends at the half. But they do not say what to do about it if you forget to switch ends. This is what Ref McHugh was referencing when he said it was not covered in the Laws.

It's like asking, 'What do you do if you caution a player 3 times in one game?' There is no answer to that, because the Laws do not contemplate it happening. And yet it has ...

The Laws simply do not contemplate the referee making mistakes, so when a mistake is made, there is no pre-defined remedy. The worst cases are when the error is not found until after the game is over; then the protest committee often can only order the game replayed (as happened in the BAH-UZB WC qualifier several years ago). The wise referee will attempt to create a remedy that will satisfy fairness and expediency. The league hates most to have to replay games; if a way can be found to fairly come to a result, that should be done.

Regarding the status of any misconduct that may have happened while playing in the 'wrong direction': If a game is cancelled partway through because of weather, anything that happened in the game (except the score) will be recorded. That same principle should apply to the extra minutes if the ref chooses to fix the error by restarting the half.

If your Association receives an official reply on the situation, we would certainly be interested in hearing it.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

There is also the distinct possibility that the writers of the Laws deliberately did not give every solution to potential problems! In many ways, they left leeway for referees to do what is fair and right, or to come up with solutions within the bounds of common sense which fit the needs of that game, that day.

Think about it. Law 1 says there must be corner flags, but do we not play if there aren't any to be had? Law 12 lists all the reasons we can give DFKs, but are we required to call every single offense that occurs? Of course not.

If, through some strange set of coincidences, NOBODY notices that the teams haven't switched ends until 10 minutes into the second half, then nobody really has any grounds to complain, IMHO, and there is no good reason to turn things topsy turvy.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Referee McGuirk
Thanks for the follow up. When I referred to the fact that it was not covered in the Laws I meant that the remedy for this situation is not outlined in the Laws. Indeed on some interpretations one has to go back to the old Questions and Answers which are no longer part of the Laws since 2006 for an answer. This scenario is not covered anywhere in the Laws and it is a matter of interpretation. Referee Collina arrived at a remedy that was not in the Laws of the Game and the result stood with both team happy. Another referee may have abandoned the game.
In my reply I gave two option which where
1. Change ends and play the remaining 35 minutes with goals, cautions. dismissals etc counting
2. Finish the half without any change of ends.
My panel colleagues gave other solution such as abandon the game, replay the total second half.
Whatever remedy is chosen the matter is reported to the relevant authority.
My personal preference is to change ends and finish out the second half which would happen in say a weather delay, crowd disturbance etc. Could the referee say to a team that had scored at the start of the second half that the goal is cancelled and the half is being restarted after 10 minutes of play? IMO finishing out the half and changing end is the 'best' decision in my opinion. In the more likely scenario where say a team has 12 players on the field of play there is no question of restarting the half!! The Law just makes provision for any goal to be cancelled provided play has not restarted and the facts are reported. As I have said on many other similar questions prevention is better than cure and hopefully it never happens. This is not something that is going to challenge refs if at all. Anyway let us know what FIFA has to say on this.
As an aside I posted the seminar question more likely to happen about the defender deliberately pushing an attacker who then falls into the goalkeeper with the ball who in turn falls into the goal. The answer around the world on that one was not totally uniform either and while its easy on paper its never so easy out on the green stuff.

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