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: 30296

Law 5 - The Referee 4/15/2016

RE: pro Adult

Haji Hussain Jan of Muscat, Muscat Oman asks...

On a free kick team A kicked ball in the net it touched the line (i thought)and GK punched the ball back to ground(team B start appealing)i was waiting for AR signal but no signal from him. so the ball was in play team B took the ball to team A goal area and team B striker was offside so ball stopped.(it took almost 30 seconds from goal appeal to offside). team A came to AR to appeal 4th official stopped them then me and 4th official asked AR did the ball crossed the line? AR said the ball touched the net but i was confused the whether it came inside bars or outside bars to and touched the net. if it came inside then its a clear goal. i and 4th agreed that it was in goal and AR confirmed it crossed the line so whistled goal. team B appeal that you should have taken your decision in 3 seconds not on ball stop. can you explain our authorities.....plz

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

A similar question was asked in question 30256 I suspect on the same incident.
The answer given in that which is still correct is a late decision is simply that. Late. If play has not restarted or ended then the referee can and should go back and make the original decision.
In this case even if it was 20/30 seconds late as long as the decision was correct that is if the all the ball crossed all the goal line then a goal is awarded.
Obviously it is poor mechanics by the AR yet it does not negate the fact that a goal was scored nor does the time taken to make the decision make it a wrong in Law. It would only be *wrong* if the ball did not cross the goal line or that play had restarted elsewhere or ended.
From this further description it just confirms poor mechanics. There is no time limit on changing / making a decision provided play has not ended nor has a restart already happened. There is no three / few second rule in these instance at that only applies to advantage which is a decision to allow play to continue on a foul. After three seconds or so the opinion is that advantage has been realised or squandered so we do not go back to the original foul. That is an entirely different concept not connected with a decision of fact. The key fact here is whether the ball crossed the goal line or not. As play continued until the next stoppage which took some time the referee can go back to award the goal as play has not restarted here or ended. It is simply poor mechanics as the AR should have raised the flag plus perhaps shouted into the CR and the discussion could have confirmed it there and then not waiting until the ball next went out of play.
Now to give another scenario. Let us say that the AR had in fact raised the flag for the goal or for the ball going out of play and the referee missed the flag with play continuing in the same fashion. The referee must go back to the flag and he has no choice but to accept the flag provided he is satisfied it is the correct decision, even if it takes 20+ seconds.
Now for me the bigger issue is whether the ball crossed the line or not. Unfortunately without technology that will never be proven without doubt and the AR's opinion is what counts. There seems to be more of a focus on the timing of the decision rather than the facts of the matter. If this is appealed there can only be one outcome which is to award the goal. No Law has been incorrectly applied nor has the referee made an error in Law. It is simply poor mechanics and it is why the buzzer flags were introduced so that a missed flag could be dealt with so that poor mechanics do not happen with a long delay before taking the decision.
have a look at this clip
The referee disallows the goal and he signals an IDFK for offside. He then changes his mind which takes 20 seconds to do and he awards the goal. Now he got the decision correct in the end as it could not be offside as White played the ball to the Blue PIOP. As play had not restarted nor was the game ended he was clearly entitled to make the decision to allow the goal. While. I know, it is different the principle of decision making is the same. Lets say that he awarded the goal and it was in fact offside with the offside flag missed, He could change his decision provided the kick off had not been taken. Note how the correct decision is hotly contested by White even though it is correct. It is just again poor mechanics by the ref crew.
Final point. Even if the referee crew made the decision instantly there would still be a furore about whether the ball crossed the line or not. The conceding team if it knows that the ball did in fact cross the line then it should respect that decision.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 30296
Read other Q & A regarding Law 5 - The Referee

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 30310

See Question: 30317

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! <>