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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 30572

Law 7 - Match Duration 7/5/2016

RE: Rec Adult

russell of Sydney, Australia asks...

This question is a follow up to question 30559

A follow up to the scenario from Jack of Sydney regarding when to end a match.

First up - I feel this could almost have been a match that I was the CR on as I had a very similar scenario just last week here in Sydney.

I my match, the attacking team were setting up to take a TI level with the top of the PA (trailing 2-3 at the time).

As they were retrieving the ball, I noted to myself that time was only 10 sec away. By the time they began the TI, it was now down to 2 seconds.

Knowing this was going to be close, I had mentally decided not take the easy out and call time before the TI, but to let play continue for as long as they had control of the ball, and, if the defending team cleared the ball, then I would call time.

The attacking team took the TI and it was headed on by an attacker, whereby it made it's way to another attacker to head on once again. From then the ball went to a defender who headed clear towards the top corner of the PA where then another defender attempted to clear the ball via a kick.

He screwed the kick, and it rolled to a neutral spot where an attacker was first to get to and he took a shot.

At this point I had decided that as both teams had played at the ball twice (with the last two touches being by the defending team), that time was up, and began to blow the whistle.

Of course the shot taken (as the whistle was blown) somehow found a way through the very crowed PA and into the goal.

I signalled no goal as time was up. Naturally, the attacking team were less than impressed, however, I sold the decision on the point that I had let play continue passed 'time' for as long as the attacking team had the ball in their control, and that as soon as that passed, then time was up.

While obviously disappointed, they accepted the reasoning.

While I feel content with how I handled this, I will be honest to say that it has had me think would I do the same again, or, take the easy way out and call time before the TI. My gut is saying take the hard road and just play it as I see it.

This is a bit different to when a goal is scored with only a few seconds still on the clock. I have had that a number of times, and have learnt to go through the process of a kick off restart so as to make it seem that the goal was scored well inside time.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
For me with 2 seconds on the clock I am ending the game at the throw in particularly if it is added time. If I let it restart in an attacking area then I am going to see play out fully with no hope of a goal. I would not create this hassle for the game by ending on a shot or potential of one. If a goal is scored I am restarting with a kick off. I watched a referee in the a Euros allow a corner kick 10 /15 seconds at the red of added time. As soon as the ball was headed away by a defender he blew the whistle to end the fame. Had the attacking team scored directly he would have allowed it. No complaint from either side. That convention as regards blowing up in a possible goal scoring position is premised on players knowing that the timing is not so exact that a few seconds could be found which for instance could have been the time taken to retrieve the ball.
I personally like the concept that is in rugby where play continues until the next natural stoppage and team in the lead can make that stoppage by kicking the ball out of play.
Final point us that it is the referees game to call. If he feel content to call the time as he sees it and deal with the consequences so be it. My approach has been to avoid such situations by stopping before it gets there or seeing the goal scoring opportunity out and then ending it.

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Answer provided by Referee James Sowa


I have no issue with you playing the additional time to give the attacking team a chance. I have used similar reasoning as you many times that as soon as the 'attack' is expired I will blow for time. The only suggestion I would make in this scenario is to blow the whistle as soon as the defender heads it away from goal. At this point, the attacking team no longer has possession and if there are any issues with the attacking team, you can use a similar line of reasoning as you used above to diffuse it.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

I always find it interesting how a team feels 'robbed' because they couldn't score in 90 minutes - isn't extending time purely to allow them to continue an attack 'robbing' the defence?

All that aside, it does seem to have become a convention to allow that last attack. An infamous decision was when referee Clive Thomas ended time on an inbound corner kick, moments before a goal was scored, in the 1978 World Cup Brazil v Sweden match.

Despite Clive's actions being within the LOTG (as you may recall, only a penalty kick requires the extension of time), FIFA were very unhappy with his decision. Thus, a convention is born, leaving us all in some difficult positions! fortunately, stoppage time tends to be an approximation at best, so you can typically justify finding a few extra seconds without being unfair to either team. It does get difficult when you're trying to play out the last attack, and it doesn't reach a fast resolution with the ball just hanging around the PA. I don't have an issue with you ending time there.

Often in these 'goal a moment after the whistle is blown' actually only occurs because the defenders have stopped due to the whistle - funny how this little fact is ignored!

When I refereed on the Central Coast in NSW, our scheduling was so tight that all matches were played under the strict instruction of no stoppage time. Given that was the consistent ruling, I firmly believed that any extension for the final attack would be extremely unfair to the defending team. If the ball is in flight towards an open goal and time is up then I would sleep much better ending time there and dealing with the fallout, than pretending the match went a second or two longer and allowing that to affect the outcome of the match.

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