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Question Number: 29393

Law 6 - Assistant Referee 5/10/2015

RE: competitive College

nj of dhaka, bangladesh asks...

I noticed a hand ball but deemed it to be unintentional. i did not blow for stop off play, but was confronted by 3-4 players of the team demanding hand ball due to my assistant flagging for a hand ball, which i had overruled. during the confrontation I allowed play to continue and the team demanding hand ball conceded a goal. they subsequently walked off demanding a wrong decision based on the assistants call as i allowed the goal to stand.
my question is was my decision ok? was overruling the assistant within the laws? what do the laws state in such a situation?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

There are a number of points here that are important.
1. The instructions to the ARs should be clear. If the referee is looking straight at a situation with the same view as the assistant referee the assistant should not be flagging for an offence. From your description it reads like you had a good view of the incident and as such a flag was not required nor helpful. It is always unhelpful for the game when the referee and assistant make conflicting decision on matters such as this. It is rarely an issue when it is clear that say one missed say a touch or made an error in law
2. Schoolboys know that the game continues until the whistle is sounded. A raised flag is just that and it is the referees decision whether to accept the flag or not. If the flag is not accepted it is waved down and play continues. From your description the 3/4 players were totally wrong to stop playing and as such suffer the consequences. Play to the whistle is an age old motto.
3 Ultimately it is the referees decision to make if it was deliberate handling or not. As you as referee decided that it was not then play continues with the assistant dropping the flag. So your decision was supported in Law.
Here is an example where an AR raises His flag in error for offside. Reds stop play yet it is clear that there is no offside and the referee correctly allows play to continue.
Correct decision was to allow play to continue and Reds should have played to the whistle.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi NJ,
hmmm not liking the mechanics of this. If there is not a good understanding between the ARs and the CR, such attitudes of resentment and the perceptions of looking foolish or being ignored can wreck the match be it a domineering CR who undervalues his/her ARs as much as the AR could overvalue their own importance!

The AR is there to assist the referee, it is an unwise CR who does not communicate effectively the foundation on how the ARs are to do so! ARs do not want to be ignored but they must grasp that as the CR this is YOUR MATCH, YOUR DECISION, YOUR REPUTATION! Many a poor attitude AR can generate loads of hostility if the players/coaches/spectators/ parents can grasp the AR is unhappy with the CRs call.

Was play trapped between you two and did you make eye contact? Eye contact sounds simple but remembering to do so all match long takes time to form as a habit. How quickly was the flagged waved off and DID the AR do so immediately without resentment or comment? The players of course are FOOLISH to stop play on a raised AR flag. It is a poorly coached team where players think it is ok to stop playing, forgetting the match is ALWAYS ON! The flag is a communication device for you, the ONLY communication devices a player needs to heed are the referee's command or whistle!

The fact you imply you had a good look makes me wonder, did the AR notice? Was there eye contact? Did you immediately call out verbally to kind of quash the outcry's? NO! Nothing there! Not Deliberate! PLAY! There is no whistle! Play the whistle! play, Play! PLAY!!!!
I always indicate foul... on these incidents, just to make all aware YES I saw and NO it is NOT! They will still disagree but at least they know I did see it. lol This will also help sell the flag wave off if it is now needed.

Still no matter how the situation develops as the referee it was always your call, it was correct as a fact of play and while one can debate the merits of why you and the AR disagreed the players had no reason to stop play, no right to surround you or engage in unreasonable dissent for failing to remember that it is you in charge not the AR.

Lessons learned and experience gained occur throughout your career.
As an AR towards the end of the 1st half I raised my flag for a deliberate handling foul! It was CLEARLY a deliberate handling foul. I CLEARLY raised then waved the flag indicating a FOUL and I CLEARLY tapped my free hand over my shirt pocket indicating I thought a caution should be shown, yet the referee waved me off. I was flabbergasted but I dropped the flag immediately seriously wondering , what in thunderation was he thinking? As luck would have it the ball was passed into the middle and the shot saved, but if there was a goal as a result, I was very ready to stand on the touchline indicating something is wrong with the goal and force a conversation (in private) to find out why my flag was waved off. I was NOT the only person to have seen this deliberate handling, those along the touchlines had a good a view as I and the fact the referee was screened by how this DH foul occurred was being commented in and around me. Now as AR I have no right to insist but I was totally bewildered at the referees actions and needed some input to find out what I was missing. At the half when we gathered I calmly, if with some trepidation approached the CR and asked him why did you wave the flag off? He claimed it was not offside! Although I am sure my eyes bugged out at that comment I dryly I asked how is a raised waving flag with me tapping my free hand against my pocket indicate offside? It was a deliberate handling, the attacking player used his fist to punch the ball by the defender. I was indicating the foul and that a caution should be applied.He apologised said he was sorry. In retrospect I wondered if I had shouted out what I saw but as it was, we learned a lesson, that eye contact and communication is not a habit formed by saying, but by doing!

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