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Question Number: 30119

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 2/16/2016

RE: N/A Other

Peter Grove of Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire England asks...

This question is a follow up to question 30107

I think possibly the question is to do with the ban on heading for players aged 11 and under that was announced by US Soccer in November 2015.

As I understand it, the sanction for a deliberate header in these age groups is supposed to be an indirect free kick for the opponent.

So I guess the question becomes whether to award the IFK or apply the advantage and allow the goal.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Peter,
as always a great question of interest, it is not an unwise assumption. Although I was thinking u-10 and under, but who is to say which age group WILL be used as the cut off ? I think u-14 to be too high? Also what if young players play up? Seen plenty of kids 2 or 3 years younger have the ability to do so? Will they be barred from doing so? There has been a great deal of rumblings that the USA youth leagues will respond to the legal challenges with new bylaws that will make heading the ball a form of PIADM with an INDFK restart. It is interesting you would make the connection a punt out might create a heading situation thus (PIADM )they ban it as a keeper release, likely an INDFK but then your awareness of the LOTG changes is well known!

The restart is going to be dependent on the way the bylaw will be written into force. The ball will contact the head accidentally and whether ANY contact is whistled as a safety concern or not perhaps as an opinion of how forcefully it does. I think a few face ball plants in trying to chest a higher incoming or bouncing ball will be a result of not using the head appropriately. I also think we must give greater flexibility to deliberate handling in protecting the head from impact.
As in an accidental ball to hand we allow play to continue I expect ball to head to be the same with the possible exception of a hard impact with a safety concern still has to be a drop ball restart.
I award the goal using advantage over the INDFK of a player attempting to clear the ball with the head. Can you imagine now using the head as a tactic to get play stopped?
I will still find it difficult to immediately whistle a astute young player who on a bouncing ball gives it a nod to race by his opponents. Where as any HIGH ball the referee can shout no heading until after it bounces is to me far more sensible than saying an absolute ban is their only protection.
I have an uncomfortable feeling that we are likely to hear the shout outs of, " Head ball ref that a head ball." as often as we hear "Hand ball ref that a hand ball!" lol sigh Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
Good point and one that I did not consider given the newness of this. It does raise a real difficulty as can we contemplate a goal being ruled out because a player chooses to head the ball into the goal which may be the only possible way to play the ball.
If it is a technical offence then advantage cannot be played in the same way as the head height rule is implemented.
From what I read the restriction of no heading will relate to Under 10s and older ages up to U13 will only be able to head the ball in practise. As yet I have not seen any clear directive issued to referees on this. Perhaps the authorities are struggling to come up with a framework that deals adequately with the settlement.
So on the basis that the restriction is in place on a particular age group then the only possible decision is to disallow the goal and restart with an indirect free kick.
We also know that sanction does not eliminate a behaviour. It might restrict but does not eliminate. In last night Champions League a Benefica pulled off his shirt after scoring a late winner. In a competition that has a suspension for two cautions that sanction did not prevent the shirt removal by the player. I can think of plenty of situations in the game where say the ball accidentally bounces off a players head or the nod past an opponent to run on to the ball. Are those going to be an IDFK? What about the player that runs into an opponent or into a post hitting his head. Is that an offence? I can understand restricting repetitive heading in practise but stopping the use of all heading at u13 will be interesting.
I wonder how boxing is going to manage!!

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