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Question Number: 30497

Law 8 - Start and Restart of Play 6/9/2016

RE: compettitive Under 17

Mike of Philadelphia, PA United States asks...

Team losing scores and then retrieves ball from the goal to get the play started sooner. The team that was just scored on takes exception to this and a fight nearly breaks out. I asked for the ball and then brought it up for the restart. What is he best way to deal with this situation in your opinion?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mike
The best way is to be proactive. It generally only happens in tight games when time is running out so this is a high alert time on any goal. Player positions also have a bearing and that can give the referee dome time to act. The goal from a distance requires the retriever of the ball to travel a distance whereas the ball bundle over the line can be an immediate pick up. The moment the goal is scored and it looks like the scoring team is going to retrieve the ball the referee should move in quickly and prevent any situation from developing by stopping the player, requesting the ball or instructing the scoring team to leave the ball alone. I usually shout at the player to leave the ball as it is not his teams restart and for him to walk away. I also advise that I am adding on time for any delay. I may also have to impose my presence on the situation by stepping in closer to the players involved. Sometimes a strong few blasts of the whistle can help if it kicks off. On many occasions players do not take kindly to the referee imposing himself in the situation and it can be difficult to deal with. The scoring team does not get it that it is not their restart and the ball is not theirs to retrieve. These situations can also go both ways with nothing happening or it ends up as a nasty situation with the need for cautions.
In your situation it reads like you managed it well. It can be difficult to stop the confrontation in the first place. Then the skill is to stop it escalating which I believe you managed to do.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Mike,
For a brief period there was a ruling that touching the ball when it's not your restart was a mandatory caution. This was a fairly unsuccessful experiment and only lasted a season, if memory serves correctly - and that was around 10 years ago.

Instead we use our judgement on each situation. If you can see aggression start to build then use you whistle, get close to the situation and try to stop it escalating. If players are becoming aggressive towards each other then you can certainly use cards, just like you would for any confrontation on the field.

If the player retrieving the ball has been particularly antagonistic - grabbing it out of an opponent's hands or just as he's about to grab it, bumping an opponent out of the way to get the ball, that sort of thing then I'd be seriously considering a caution for that antagonism - it's not his restart so it's not his business - but don't fall into the trap of assuming you need to caution that player just because a confrontation ensued. After all, both teams are in the wrong here.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

As Ref Wright noted, there was a change in the Laws a while back that didn't work out well to prevent this. It was first implemented in a Youth World Cup competition, with cautions handed out all around. However IFAB didn't completely take it out, it was reworded. This is how the new 2016-17 version puts it: 'kicking or carrying the ball away, or provoking a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play'. It would be a caution for delaying the restart of play - rather ironic given that the scoring team's intention was to speed the restart, not delay it.

However, we can still be proactive in preventing this confrontation. The team that wants the quicker kickoff can be mollified by the ref noting that he will add time for delays. And the ref should vehemently encourage the team that was scored upon to speed it up. In one youth game I did, when the team that was ahead dawdled in retrieving a ball for a goal kick, I said, 'Hey, the longer it takes you to get the ball, the longer we have to stay here.' They started moving a little faster, knowing that I was on to them and their time-wasting attempt wasn't working.

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