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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 29005

Law 8 - Start and Restart of Play 11/24/2014

RE: Under 13

Scott of Livermore, CA USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 28998

I don't understand the problem some of you had with the referee who allowed play to continue when the attacking team with the injured player had the ball, but stopped play when the defending team gained control. I agree that we should stop play early and err on the side of caution for youth games. I will always stop a youth game if a player is down and not getting back up. However, if the injured player is on the attacking team and I don't think the injury is that serious I might allow play to continue until the ball goes out of bounds, or until a potential attack is ended. My logic is that it doesn't seem fair to the attacking team to be overly cautious. They surely won't want me to be. You might argue I'm being unfair to the defending team that gains control and wants to make a quick counter attack. Perhaps I am, but in youth games counter attacks are typically not that quick, and most players, coaches, and fans, see it as being unfair to the injured player's team to allow play to continue when they are down a player. I've never had a problem with this approach.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Scott
There is an element here of fairness and what's good for one team is good for the other. The attacking team may have little regard for its player and it then should not expect the opponents to stop playing?
I think in equity asking one team to stop only is unreasonable. If its not a serious injury then play should continue. The situations that referees have most difficulty with are those where there is abuse through staying down to gain an advantage.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hey Scott,
You are correct we often stop play at the youth level to attend sniffles as much as any real injury, particularly U-little before 11 aside play. And we often apply advantage to a foul where if the player fouled was injured his team is still attacking! Or if the player guilty of the foul is injured we might ignore his suffering temporarily until his team got the ball before we stop play or decide to wait for a natural stoppage!

Each situation should be decided on its own merits.

In this situation it was a fall by the player, not a foul. The team with the ball had every opportunity to stop play if they felt their player was hurt. If THEY continue I would think it UNFAIR to stop play when the opposition won the ball back.

Sometimes the concept of injury stoppage and fair play have issues.

The referee is supposed to judge and decide if an injury is serious or not to warrant an immediate stoppage or let play continue! Yet teams can on their own choose to kick the ball out of play to allow trainers to attend to injury. If it was done for an injured opponent, the standing protocol is an acceptance of the belief, if the situation is reversed you do the same!

Sometimes leagues have the take a knee philosophy meant as a gesture of respect and to promote safe soccer when a player from either team goes down be it a serious injury or a crying spell . It sounds great as an ideal, however, in tough rainy windy conditions young players are stopping to kneel on the wet cold ground shivering away, hoping the referee sees the domino effect as the players are not all doing this at the same time. It may well be a inattentive referee fails to see what is occurring quick enough or even if he is not aware of the need to see almost any youth accident as a reason to stop play. A goal is scored or ball advances into a PA! The referee was letting play go but now feels forced to stop play and the drop ball occurs from where the ball is at that moment in time.

Again be proactive ASK. 'You ok ? Can you continue? If it is a bump or knock and a few tears he can get to the touchline or end line for treatment. You do not get a response you like or feel something amiss you stop play! Even young players on an 11 aside match are aware or have indeed the treachery to milk certain situations to achieve an advantage.


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Answer provided by Referee James Sowa


Keep in mind that this is not the Premier league, NCAA finals, World Cup, State Finals, etc.... This is a player in a youth game who is injured. Unless a goal or goal scoring opportunity is imminent, what do you really gain by allowing play to continue. Rarely at U13 are the players skilled enough to take advantage of this situation. Now, this is not a cookie-cutter solution to every potential 'injury' but use it as a good reference.

As Referee Dawson pointed out, if the team seems apt to keep playing (knowing full well that the player is down) you can let them. You should not however punish the defense by immediately stopping play when the attack is over. You must be fair to both teams. If you thought the injury was significant enough to stop once the defense got the ball; then it was significant enough to stop while the attacking team had the ball.

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