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Question Number: 28921

Law 2 - The Ball 10/29/2014

RE: rec

Ramon Janeiro of wilmington, de usa asks...

Can a coach challenge the referee or should the referee had not allowed, before a free kick, to change the ball for the taking of the free kick, that had been in play for at least five to ten minutes? (the player taking the free kick asked the bench for a harder ball and used it, giving that team an advantage, and scored a goal)

Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

A coach has no right to challenge the referee's decision as to the fitness of the ball. It would be appropriate for a team to ask the referee to check the ball, and if the ball had inadequate air pressure, for the referee to have it replaced.

But, the ball should not be changed simply because one team wants a ball that is harder.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Ramon,
A coach has the right to act responsibly within his technical area. A competent referee should be aware the ball in use was initially correct in law to be used as a match ball. To switch the ball at the taking of a free kick, that ball can no longer be considered as a match ball, because something has occurred to damage it! A leak or a skin patch bulge developed and it was only NOW it is being noticed. To ask for a harder ball is NOT a reason to switch. Often if a ball is HARD it is overinflated, which causes the ball to be very dangerous to head and hurt like blazes to be hit by it or strike it incorrectly. ALL match balls should be identified prior to kick off if more than one is going to be allowed to facilitate quick restarts I know at the pro level the balls are all the same type, inflated to the same pressure, prior to kick off! If the referee switches balls because the ball IS defective then he should check the new ball is recognized as one complying with LAW 2 and inflated correctly. Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ramon
Match balls have a recommended inflation pressure. Generally it is written near where the inflation needle is inserted.
Now most times referees use the thumb squeeze test to determine that the ball is inflated properly. It is a guesstimate yet it does work. I have a pressure gauge which I use, not all of the time, yet I find that my guess of the pressure is pretty close when checked using the gauge.
Now if a player comes to me during the game and complains that the ball is soft I will make a determination of that at the next stoppage using the thumb pressure method. If I find that the ball is soft I will ask for a replacement.
Some times the match ball can be replaced during the game without the referee checking the ball and if there are no complaints about the ball the referee allows play to continue. The perfect scenario is for the referee to check every ball before kick off. That rarely happens at the recreational level and lower levels of the game.
I would also point out that it has been shown scientifically that the increased pressure of a soccer ball has not been shown to greatly affect its performance. It is unlikely that changing the ball created any real advantage.

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