Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 29220

Law 7 - Match Duration 3/2/2015

RE: Intermediate Under 13

Phil of Tarzana, CA United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 29214

I'm somewhat confused about the answers. Referee Joe McHugh said 'The referee cannot change the facts of the Game or his decisions once the game has been terminated'. Does this include the decision to terminate the match?

i.e. if the referee has ended the match after 40 minutes, and then discovers his mistake, can he then change his decision & add 5 minutes, or is he stuck? (I understand that the referee could say that the blowing of the whistle was inadvertent & he never intended to terminate the match, but that would be dishonest.)

If the referee is stuck, is there an exception for a penalty kick that the referee notices after he intentionally ended the game?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Once the referee terminates the game then the match is over. If the referee is advised usually by an assistant that he made an error in timing then he informs both teams of his error and he can restart the game and play out the remaining minutes. That though can be seen as a timing error not changing a decision after a game has been terminated. The referee though will have to take into account the circumstances of how he ended the game and everything needs to be reported to the competition organisers.
It is a somewhat easier decision for referees in the US in that the ATR advises and I quote
If the referee ends play early, then the teams must be called back onto the field and the remaining time must be played as soon as the error is detected.

The best answer by the way is to ensure it does not happen. A remedy then does not need to be found and it is not readily found in the Laws as it is not expected to happen.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Phil,

It's a valid point - but the decision to terminate the match is one that cannot be changed.

However, you do raise a more complicated scenario. Bear in mind that the LOTG requries that two equal halves be played. So if the referee, for instance, ends the second half early then he has already broken the LOTG. So the choice is - do you stick with breaking that law, or do you break the 'cannot change the facts of the game after the game has been terminated' law? Breaking the latter is the lesser of two evils in that case.

Read other questions answered by Referee Jason Wright

View Referee Jason Wright profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Phil,
The referee manages a match in accordance with the laws of the game. If good communications, crisp mechanics and the CR works well with the ARs/4th and those who are responsible for the match there is NO valid reason to end a match prematurely without cause or overlooking the LOTG by a team of neutral officials dedicated to the safety and commitment to a fair match.
I will state categorically that terminating a match too early or before a PK can be taken are not legal or acceptable for the referee to do!
The DIFFERENCE between terminating a match at the end of full time with no recourse to continue play means that ALL TIME is gone and NO PK is yet to be taken! In these two situations the LOTG are also crystal clear.

What is PRACTICAL and what is REALITY in a recreational youth match in the tiny town of backwater wherever is the LOTG as designed for the pro level with radio and beepers and additional support staff these mistakes are not likely.
The neutrality of the officials is paramount to the accepting of a restart AFTER a whistle is being sounded to end a match incorrectly!

There is only one case to be made for an early whistle which the referee initially thinks time is over! It is when it is not! A fast running watch, a watch alarm going off 5 minutes early, sweat in the eyes blurring his vision, the ROC forgot to post the amended time to his email. The thing is there must be a verifiable way to make amends and a neutral referee can admit to an inadvertent incorrect whistle based on incorrect knowledge of the facts. You see it is the... facts... themselves which the referee cannot change.

Fair play screams at the injustice of anyone thinking that a defender punches an attacker in the head inside his PA area just seconds before a referee inadvertently signals the match as over is null and void just because it occurred in behind play. The laws allow for misconduct to be punished as the match remains under the referee's authority and jurisdiction even after the match has finished
However, a PK is the ONLY restart in the entire game which specifically states we are to EXTEND TIME to allow its completion. In the original case provided the FLAG indicating the AR SAW the PK incident BEFORE the whistle sounded to end the match is a FACT.

If the flag was unraised, if an AR simply came over to the referee as the players were shaking hands and said you missed a PK foul a while back I look that AR in the eye and do not say what I think! I save THAT for later, over a drink, when I cool down! The reason to promote the ideal of appearing neutral, one can not concoct making up a foul AFTER the match has ended even if it actually occurred prior to the match ending. The perception is an insurmountable exercise in flagrant futility and cheating because there is no fact to indicate there was a foul. A raised flag is a sustainable FACT the neutral AR saw ...SOMETHING... in the dying seconds of the match that the referee did not. A referee can accept information on events unseen by him from a neutral AR as that ...FACT... is not yet in evidence! If the referee accepts the PK is a FACT before he signaled the match to end that PK is still to be taken. Because the LOTG allow for time to be extended only for this one restart. In this case the match duration HAS been achieved, there is no more available play time, as there COULD be, if the match was stopped prematurely!

The authority of the referee
Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed.
Powers and duties
The Referee:
• enforces the Laws of the Game
• controls the match in cooperation with the assistant referees and, where applicable, with the fourth official
• acts as timekeeper and keeps a record of the match
• stops, suspends or abandons the match, at his discretion, for any infringements of the Laws
• acts on the advice of the assistant referees regarding incidents that he has not seen
• indicates the restart of the match after it has been stopped
• provides the appropriate authorities with a match report, which includes information on any disciplinary action taken against players and/or team officials and any other incidents that occurred before, during or after the match

Decisions of the referee
The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final.
The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee or the fourth official, provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the match.

Periods of play
The match lasts two equal periods of 45 minutes, unless otherwise mutually agreed between the referee and the two teams. Any agreement to alter the duration of the periods of play (e.g. to reduce each half to 40 minutes because of insufficient light) must be made before the start of play and must comply with competition rules.

Allowance for time lost
• wasting time
• any other cause
The allowance for time lost is at the discretion of the referee.

Penalty kick
If a penalty kick has to be taken or retaken, the duration of either half is extended until the penalty kick is complete

Penalty kick
A penalty kick is awarded if any of the above ten offences is committed by a player inside his own penalty area, irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play.

A penalty kick is awarded against a team that commits one of the ten offences for which a direct free kick is awarded, inside its own penalty area and while the ball is in play.

Additional time is allowed for a penalty kick to be taken at the end of each half or at the end of periods of extra time.

When a penalty kick is taken during the normal course of play,
...or time has been extended at half-time or full time to allow a penalty kick to be taken or retaken...,
a goal is awarded if, before passing between the goalposts and under the crossbar:
• the ball touches either or both of the goalposts and/or the crossbar and/or the goalkeeper
The referee decides when a penalty kick has been completed.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 29220
Read other Q & A regarding Law 7 - Match Duration

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The free opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members. While there is no charge for asking the questions, donation to maintain the site are welcomed! <>