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Question Number: 30011

Law 7 - Match Duration 1/6/2016

RE: High School Under 17

Scott of Livermore, CA USA asks...

I was watching a high school game with a couple of minutes left in the game and the score at 1-0. In this league there is a score board clock that winds down with a horn at zero.

The losing team plays the ball and it goes out of bounds. A player on the winning team was jogging in the direction of the ball, but when it goes out of bounds she stops and starts to walk. The referee blows his whistle and signals for the clock to stop, then issues a yellow card to the player walking after the ball. I assume the yellow card was for delaying the restart, but it got me wondering. Is the player on the winning team actually delaying the restart? If the losing team wants to get the ball back into play quickly they can always go chase it down themselves.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Scott
The referee no doubt saw the players action as an unnecessary delay which is misconduct and a yellow card. As it is the teams restart the onus is on the kicking team to get on with play in an timely manner without delay. The onus is on the team with the restart to get the ball.
Now it is a matter for the referee to decide what is unnecessary delay. Does the player take an age to restart? Does the player act in a way that it is patently slow or perhaps already asked to speed up which is ignored?
Perhaps the referee wanted to send out a signal that he was not going to tolerate time wasting by players being tardy in getting play restarted in the last few minutes?

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


Several rules come into play here and I will go over each and how each affect what you describe above.

First of all, players on the field should not be chasing balls out of bounds. At least two ball holders are to be provided for each game as is indicated in NFHS Rule 6-1-1 and they are to retrieve the balls that cross the boundary lines as is indicated in Rule 6-1-2.

High school games should not be started or continued without ball holders. Where were the ball holders in this situation?

If the ball holders were far from the ball and it was obvious that a delay would occur, the referee could stop the clock as is allowed by NFHS Rule 7-4-1 and the clock would start when the ball is properly put into play. (Rule 7-4-2)

From what you had indicated, the referee gave a caution for unnecessary delay as per NFHS Rule 12-8-1f2. This is a very unusual call because high school rules do not require a player to chase a ball that goes out-of-bounds. In my opinion, the referee should have just stopped the clock since the ball being out-of-bounds would cause a delay.

Perhaps, the referee heard or saw something different, thus, the reason for the caution.

This is a good training moment for officials. It would be great to have a video of it. Thank you for sharing it.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Scott,
I do not feel good about this type of caution, the ability to stop the clock or have additional balls made available or apparently in this case, ball retrievers as part of the obligations of high school soccer can solve this quite easily.
When a referee says something in a match like 'lets hustle to get the restarts done in a timely manner!' It can set up a bit of a problem as time winds down, to chase a ball pounded out into the field or forest by the opposing team to find the attackers at fault for not getting to it quickly. I do not fault players for resting. For me, it would take some very flagrant foot dragging only AFTER I requested to make a better effort to retrieve the ball to think of it as dissent more than delaying the restart. Once a ball goes way into touch I do not expect the players on the field to chase it down at full sprint. On a hot day or a rain soaked day either could play a part as to the willingness to scoop and run and gun the restarts. If anything it is the substitutes or coaching staff or parents or even spectators that do this. In tournaments where we set up the ball retrieval process or matches where a referee can add time lets not waste cards on such matters if they can be avoided.


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