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Question Number: 24432

Law 2 - The Ball 12/18/2010

RE: Compeitive Under 17

Victor Vandenburg of Acampo, California USA asks...

During a recent BU16 game the defense cleared the ball over the touch line, over the park fence and over a road for a throw in. Instead of waiting for the retrieved ball, the offensive grabbed a ball from a non-competing team that was warming up for the next game. They quickly threw the ball in, as the defense was anticipating a delay in play. The offensive made a good throw into the box, as the defense scrambled to their positions and one-touched the ball into the goal. The defending team protested to the referee without success.

I believe the goal should not be allowed to stand because its not 1 of the 3 official game balls, but wanted your thoughts.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Victor
Interesting question. At the very highest level where the colour, make etc of the ball is prescribed by the competition rules the referee could not allow an 'unofficial' ball to be used and he would stop play. Anyway it is unlikely to happen at that level with all the match balls measured before the game and made available through the 4th official or through the use of the multiball system.
In this case my decision would be to allow the goal unless it could be proven that the ball that was used was say the incorrect size or not a legal ball under Law 2. I would assume that the non competing team were of the same age group etc and so there was every chance that the ball was legal. And this does happen quite regularly in the games that I'm involved with when a 'ball' is made available that I had not previously inspected or seen. Players never question that other than they might complain about the quality of the replacement ball which is then changed at the next stoppage with one of the retrieved balls. If a goal was scored it would not be challenged on the technicality of the ball.
Also I don't understand why the team had a focus on the 'missing' ball and to 'switch off' when one of the other balls could/should have been made available probably as easily.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

I've often used a substitute ball when the game ball is kicked off the field, through the pricker bushes, down the hill and into the ditch. But only on being satisfied that the ball is correct for the game - legal size, pressure, etc. If I haven't inspected the ball prior to the game, I will have to inspect it now.

At fields where past experience has shown that a ball may be lost, I will ask the team to have a substitute ball available, even if the rules of the competition state that 'a' ball is provided by the team. When using a previously-inspected substitute ball, we will restart play almost immediately. The only reason I would hold up the restart is if one of the players is off in the bushes trying to find the game ball.

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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy

Victor, the ball should be an approved ball and should be inspected by the referee and it should meet the criteria as in Law 1. That's a lot of 'shoulds' there! The fact is that a ball was needed and the ref got on with the game without precisely adhering to all the technicalities. My thoughts are the goal should be counted. What really happened was that a goal was scored and the team started to look for technicalities.
This reminds me of the drunk, who got off a drinking and driving charge because the cop said that he could smell alcohol on his breath. The defense lawyer argued that it is impossible because alcohol has no odor.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Even at youth level the referee should have stopped the throw-in. Why? Sure the ball wasn't inspected but more importantly, what happened was blatantly unfair. If as you describe, one team was waiting for a retrieval and the other found a ball that didn't even belong to either team and threw it in, how is that fair. If the referee wanted to allow the team to use a different ball than the one kicked out he should have called to the coach; 'Coach got another ball handy so we can get started?' Then everybody would have been on the same page.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

You don't state what the referee was doing all this time. The referee has the responsibility to check any ball used for safety and suitability - before it is used. This should have occurred, and the other team should not have been allowed to restart with an unapproved ball.

Would this stand up on an appeal? Probably not. Contact the referee's assignor, and let the assignor address it with the referee.

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