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Question Number: 27976

Law 5 - The Referee 11/5/2013

RE: Competitive Under 17

Jay Ramey of El Dorado Hills, CA USA asks...

I recently 'Centered' a highly competitive match. In all the years I have been ref, I have been fortunate to never have to experience a major injury on the field.

In my recent match, two defenders (two of the last three in the line of defense not including the goalie) collided very hard, and one immediately started to scream. She was obviously injured, and later had to be carried off the field. I later discovered she broke a rib.

Here is my quandary...What do I do? I let play continue. The opposing forward easily picked up the ball (it happened around the 35ish area) and beat the second to last defender and scored a goal -- this took about 5-10 seconds. It was clear there was going to be a goal scoring opportunity. I signaled for the goal then sprinted back to the girl and waived for the coach. As the player was holding her side right after the collision, I did not fear for a head or neck injury and there was no blood.

At what point should we stop play to check on an injury. I realize there are many cases where we should let play continue. How long should we give the opponents a chance to score when there is an injury " how about an obvious "real" injury? I will admit, if there was no goal scoring opportunity that developed rapidly and/or the defense put a stop or was able to defend their goal even with the ball around the 18, I would have blown the whistle to stop the game.

I look forward to your advice.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jay
Always a difficult quandry particularly when an immediate goal scoring opportunity is part of the mix.
Now my take on this is that 'screaming' makes me stop the game immediately and certainly within a second or two. I also take into account the manner of the injury and whether it was say a twist or heavy contact on the player's leg, body as part of a challenge etc.
I had one at the weekend in a crowded penalty area when two player knocked heads yet both were still standing. In a very tense, tight game in the last minute or so the losing team were none too pleased at my decision to stop the game. I immediately berated them on the fact that there were possible serious injuries and deserved treatment. The same can be said for any bone break including a rib injury.
I also witnessed a serious head injury in a game a few seasons ago when the ball fell immediately to a forward who scored instantly within a second. As play was stopped with the goal scored the player got immediate treatment.
So for me safety is the single most important part of the referee's duties. I make no apology to any team for stopping on an injury when I'm concerned about the well being of a player.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Your number one concern is player safety not allowing scoring opportunities. Don't mean to be overly critical or harsh but a player hurt badly enough to be screaming is more than ample reason to stop the game immediately.

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