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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 27082

Law 2 - The Ball 12/24/2012

RE: rec Adult

alex of richmond hill, ontario canada asks...

Indoor game. I set the ball to the lower limit of 9 psi pressure and one team is complaining that the ball is too hard. During half time the team says the ball is not suitable for playing as the high pressure will cause injury and proceed to take 2 of their balls and talked to the other team who agrees to use one of the ball.
I checked the ball and it read lower than 5 psi on the gauge. I told them they can play with that ball if they pumped it up to the correct pressure. The team says no and they will play with the 5 psi ball. I told them that I cannot let the game proceed and abandoned the game. Strange incidence but I have 2 questions here.
1. Does the LOTR applies to indoor game or there are different guidelines to the pressure of indoor game balls?
2. The team says they do not need a referee if I abandon the game and they will play by themselves. Now is it a referee's duty to make sure everybody leave the field or facility after abandoning the game?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Alex
1. The only indoor game covered by FIFA Laws is Futsal which has its own unique set of Laws and low bounce ball. All other games have their own competition rules which can include the ball. However where written rules exist they normally only refer to ball size not type or inflation. Some balls that I see used are specially for indoor and there would be a manufacturer's recommendation for inflation.
If this is not an affiliated competition covered by a set of rules with all teams playing to those same rules then personally I would not bother about the ball or its pressure and I would just use what is provided to me. If you felt that the ball was a danger or that your authority was being undermined then you were correct to walk off
2. Once the referee abandons the game and walks off his responsibility ends the moment he leaves the field of play and its surrounds. It is then a matter for the players themselves to do whatever they want. If they want to continue playing that is their decision. It is also a matter for the facility owners to decide whether to allow play to continue without a referee. I recall a referee in a 11 a side rec games getting abuse from players about decisions. He then decided that he had enough and walked off. A spectator was cajoled into continuing to 'referee' the game. As far as the referee was concerned his 'involvement' ended when he walked off and what happened after that was not his concern.
The referee can still take disciplinary action as he leaves the field of play and he can report misconduct which happens after the game has ended. However if it is not an affiliated competition little if anything is usually done which is the reason that many officials chose not to referee these non affiliated competitions. If it is an affiliated game there is little point in play continuing as the referee will be reporting the game as abandoned. If the game has been abandoned and the atmosphere is unpleasant then my advice is to leave promptly to the 'safety' of the referee's changing room. Waiting around poses all sorts of risks of misconduct towards the referee.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

I find it really surprising that the team would prefer abandonment to continuing play (actually, after some of the Futsal teams I've refereed, perhaps that isn't so surprising!). I know even with outdoor the minimum pressure can be surprisingly hard, especially if you're used to doing the 'thumb test'.

An underinflated ball not only affects play, but can also be dangerous as it seems heavier and doesn't bounce off the foot as much as it should.

Futsal has its own set of the laws of the game. If it's a futsal match, then follow those laws. If it's just 'indoor soccer', where the centre sets their own rules, then I wouldn't worry about applying rules that don't exist - unless of course the centre has specified the pressure. If they haven't, then I think it's acceptable to work with the players.

If the players continue to play after you abandon then that's their choice - however, you report the abandonment. While what the competition/centre does after that is not your concern, I'd imagine that any 'result' of the unofficial remainder of the match is ignored.

The administration of the centre is not the referee's concern, and unless it's part of a match it is not your responsibility to ensure that people are on or off the pitch. After the game the players can do what they like (in terms of continuing to play) - it doesn't concern you; if they shouldn't be there then it's completely the responsibility of those running the centre to have them removed.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The referee's first duty is the safety of the players! Was there anything dangerous about the ball the players wanted to use. I don't think so. The referee's second duty is the enjoyment of the players! They weren't having fun with the harder ball. No one has fun if the match is abandoned. Indeed, unless your local facility has a rule on abandoned matches, why would anyone refuse to let the players scrimmage.

Sometimes the referee is so concerned about enforcing the rules (the third duty) that they forget about the first two duties. The laws are flexible enough to allow for the safe enjoyment of the game. Frankly, I don't expect that most leagues would support a decision that prevents the players from playing.

Now, to the rules. Most facilities adopt their own rules for indoor, and there are lots of variances. In general, however, the ball can be smaller and with less pressure than used outdoors. FIFA has only adopted laws for futsal (which does not use walls and has a hard surface). Note: even under TLOG, the minimum pressure at sea level is 8.5 psi.

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