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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 29740

Law 7 - Match Duration 9/27/2015

RE: retired Other

tom of melbourne, vic australia asks...

can a referee alter playing time from 45minutes per half to 40 minutes per half under any conditions

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Tom,
actually no, the LOTG are fairly strict as fair play requires a conditional set of laws that apply equally.
LAW 7 The Duration of the Match
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.
end quote
When blow outs occur and poor weather conditions abound I have seen no added time or a very relaxed version of fulltime utilized. This is easier at the recreational level than it would be at the levels where results are recorded and monitored by others.

WE do not condone or suggest a referee alter match times but record the reasoning IF it was done, in the match report, to allow the league to sort out the results.
I had a match for u-14 mixed where freezing rain in June surprised everyone, the misery on their faces, and both coaches insistent on ending the regulation play time. Given in my opinion I felt the players were at risk I did end the match early. League simply accepted the reasoning and that was that.

In another match I pulled the teams at a u-18 venue for lightening, 3 minutes before the 1st half ended. I sent them into the lockers , we waited 40 minutes to resume the 1st half to play out the remaining 3 minutes. And started in on the 2nd half, got about 20 minutes in when I again abandoned for weather and this time we all went home. The league replayed the entire match two weeks later

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tom
That is not possible. The referee can, before the game starts, agree to play two 40 minutes equal halves and that is allowed in the laws. Once however the game begins with 45 minutes played in the first half then the second half has to be 45 minutes also. If for any reason only 40 minutes can be played in the 2nd half the game is abandoned and the facts reported to the competition organisers. The organisers may decide to allow the result to stand or order a replay or in some instances agree for the last 5 minutes to be played.
In certain games where it is one sided the losing team may be happy for the game to finish, unconcerned about the remaining 5 minutes and suggest to the referee to report the game as finished. Not recommended nor advised yet it does happen.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Tom,

The game must be played in 2 equal halves. So as long as both halves are reduced to 40 minutes, then it's possible. I myself have had to reduce match length, usually due to a late start (so the match wouldn't push later games back, or because it was the last match of the day and there wouldn't be enough light).

Strictly speaking the Laws only allow modifications to the length of the match for women, youth, over 35 of disabled players, though I know many associations alter the length of other matches anyway. Practical concerns need to weigh in sometimes though - if the referee knows there won't be enough light, or if the match after must start on time, then the match length will have to be reduced. The competition rules will often stipulate what the maximum reduction is, or what the latest a match is allowed to start, or under what circumstances a match may be reduced, or similar information.

It may be that the referee has breached the competition rules (these are available on the FFV website, if it's a FFV competition); if so there may be scope to appeal against the match result and the football authority will consider their decision.

When reducing the match, the referee should make sure both teams are aware, though this is just good practice rather than a requirement.

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