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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 31925

Law 7 - The Duration of the Match 10/22/2017

RE: Under 19

Joseph of Concord, CA USA asks...

Thoughts on telling players how much time is left in a game if they ask? I have players ask probably 3-4 times a game near the end of each half how much time is left. I would prefer to not tell them or have to look down at my watch and possibly miss something, etc, but at the same time I feel like not telling them something simple would make me seem like a jerk.

Of course telling them time left if it's a close game could create more aggression to score which could lead to more issues. Maybe just say in the pre-game check that I will not let them know how much time is left if they ask and will make an announcement with 2 minutes left or something similar?

Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

If your working a high school game, there most likely is a clock that has the official time. If there is a clock, then there is no need to tell the players the amount of time remaining. Please remember if there is a visible clock, the time showing on the clock must be the official time. If there is a problem with the time that is showing on the clock, you as the referee should correct the time to make it official.

If there is no clock and the time is being kept by a timekeeper who is designated as the official timer, the timekeeper should, but is not required, to announce the time remaining. I recommend to my timekeepers, that they announce the time every minute during the last three minutes of each period. Also, the official timekeeper must verbally count down the last 10 seconds of each period. As the referee, I find this countdown very helpful in determining if and when time for a period has expired.

If there is no visible clock, the referee can be designated the official timer. Although, I find it helpful, if possible, as a referee, to verbally announce each minute of the last three minutes of each period, it is not necessary. However, as the official timer, the referee is required to verbally count down the last 10 seconds of each period.

As to players, constantly asking how much time is remaining when no visible clock is available, if there is a dead ball and a delay in getting restarted, I almost always will tell them but I will speak loud enough for both teams to hear. If the question comes when there is not a delayed start, I will usually say, 'plenty of time.'

Please remember that the above is for high school play only.

I hope that your season is going well.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Joseph,
In a game played under the IFAB's Laws of the Game there is no official match clock or official timekeeper separate from the referee.

I understand what you mean about not wanting to seem like a jerk by not answering a simple question but at the same time, getting a tad annoyed by constant, repeated requests - I have had exactly the same feelings myself.

I would say you have to play it a little by ear - if there aren't too many requests you can answer the occasional one but you don't have to give an exact answer every time (as you say, constantly looking at your watch could make you lose focus on the game) so you can just give them an estimate, which is all it is really, since you can always adjust the remaining time based on stoppages, time wasting etc.

I used to find, especially in youth games that it would often be the same player who would ask so if the player had just asked me say, two minutes earlier, I would sometimes just say, 'Two minutes less than the last time you asked me.' A bit smart-alecky, I know and I used to feel a little bad about being so sarcastic but I would agree with you that it's not truly necessary to have to tell the players the exact time left at every single instant of the game.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Joseph
A senior assessor once told me to not tell players how much time is left. I suspect that he was in too many spats on time or that it was passed on instruction.
Referees have to make an opinion on when it is okay and when it is not. In a one sided game it is not going to make any difference. However in a tight game where the lead is perhaps one or two goals it can cause all sorts of problems for the referee. For example a few seasons ago I remember telling a a player that there was three minutes left. In the three minutes there was a substitution and some time wasting so I added on more time. The player was none too pleased at the end of the game, despite winning, that in his opinion I strung the game out to the benefit of the opponents which was not the case. Had I said nothing then no such comment could be made. It sort of worked the other way as the opponents believed that I acted fairly on the time wasting from the *complaint* although had a goal been scored it would have been very difficult
So I give the time of how much time has been played early on to players when it does not matter and then I will only says thing like *nearly there now* or *getting to added time* or *keep playing* etc (nearing the end of the game).
The only other real timing information problem I had was many years ago in a league decider a player got injured in the second half and he did not want to be moved. I waited for some 8 minutes before he agreed to be stretchered off. I added on the lost time and a goal was scored in the 10th minute of added time. In hindsight I should have informed both benches publically that I was playing 12 minutes of added time that was the 8 for the injury plus 4 for subs and other stoppages. I was wrongly accused of playing until the home team scored in very heated and nasty exchanges. Very few record time taken in a lengthy stoppage.
In higher level games the showing of a fourth official board is required so teams do know how much time is being added on and the board is shown at the end of regulation time. However that can be amended by the referee for further lost time in added time. The board was an attempt to deal with what teams felt was *unfairness* or uncertainty as to how much time was left in games.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

'When I have time to look.' Solves it.

I've also been tempted to say, 'About 2 minutes less than when you last asked me.' Or, 'Why, do you have a hot date?'

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Joseph,
time is relative but rarely to the micro second and what you impart as information can rally or create pressure I the minds of those asking.

In matches without 4ths with their the time allotted signs and no technical score boards on display as a CR I think it is fine to announce to the teams out loud approximately how much time you are adding. I try to check in with my ARS when we are at about 5 minutes to play to be sure our watches are in sync and to indicate the time I want to add as the MINIMUM time to the actual match time left. I then will VERBALLY out loud inform the two teams that I will be adding a minimum of SAY 4 minutes of additional time and that we are in the final five minutes of regulation time as well as announcing if there is a shootout or additional overtime should it be tied. I do this to stave off how much time ref questions but really as a courtesy to provide the respective teams with substitution options and tactical decisions given we might be going into extra time or PK shoot outs once time is completed. The two teams will be aware the match is ending soon & they are aware I will be playing LONGER . I also reassure the team losing by indicating if there is any attempt to miss use the remaining time I will add even more time to the minimum promised. I have warned teams by saying such things as ' I already added some time I can add more if you wish lets get on with it please! A simple point at my watch and gesture.

I generally do not tell teams exact times, only reference lots, plenty, winding down. play to the whistle, concentrate etc..

Some matches time is really not terribly pressing so to say about 5 or a couple of minutes to a dejected defender down 6 to 1 is likely not going to alter the outcome.

Yet in a highly contested match EVERY second means something and to think it does not then the referee makes a grave mistake to give exact data or allow his watch to go a beeping as he will be held accountable should something occur that questions the response he gave earlier.


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