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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33146

League Specific 3/13/2019

RE: Select Under 15

Matt of Bristow, VA USA asks...

Can a water break be used for game management purposes? I had a fairly chippy game and stopped the match for a player who had been 'kicked' in the nether regions. Neither myself nor my ARs saw a foul (as discussed post-match). Coach enters field prior to me beckoning him and loudly and publicly curses at the lack of a call. I wave him on and explain that I did not see a foul and that he is receiving a caution for his language. He is mollified, but I still sense a rising tension on both sides and note that there is another white player down at the same time. With two simultaneous injuries, I call for a one minute drink break to allow the teams to cool down slightly literally and figuratively. My logic is that with the two injuries, it was going to take a minute or two to start play regardless and giving the players something to do (get water) helps prevent dissent and gives them time to simmer down.

It worked, so that's one thing, but was it acceptable? This might be a tool that would be rarely used, but should it even be in the toolbox?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Matt
It is in the referees toolbox provided it is included in the competition rules.
The rules may specify if water break can be used and when yet there is probably discretion on timing the of the breaks.
In your case you used a break to diffuse a situation which worked well so that was a good result. Perhaps on a game observation a referee observer might take a negative view of same if it was not allowed for in the rules.
I recall ending a half just under two minutes early because of a serious injury. It was not even mentioned / questioned as I doubt they even knew and it allowed the team time to deal with the injury in a way that did not affect the flow of the game. When the second half started it was business as usual. The alternative was to hold the game up for however long it required maybe 8/19 minutes, restart for less than two minutes and stop again for 15. At grassroots it is all about common sense and what is right for the game. At higher levels that is highly unlikely.
Having said that Pierluigi Colina in his book tells of incidents where he stepped outside the Laws to deal with certain situations. In one he tells the story of fans abuse towards the goalkeepers at both ends after half time, when the teams changed ends having had no bother in the first half. With agreement he reversed sides after a brief stoppage which got the game finished with no further unrest. Not sure what the authorities thought of that at the time yet he did it and got the game finished with no complaints from either team. Probably an abandonment would have meant serious consequences for both teams.
So there are outlier examples and it is up to each referee to deal with what is presented in the best way possible. Hopefully most are within the Laws and the rules.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Matt,
The laws talk about drinks breaks or 'cooling' breaks for medical purposes and mentions that competition rules may also be involved so assuming the the criteria for having breaks are met, there is no fixed time at which those breaks should be taken, so that means it's up to the referee to say when the breaks should occur. That being the case, I don't see that there's too much wrong with calling a drinks or medical cooling break with a 'dual' purpose, to allow the players to cool off (as you say) both literally and figuratively.

Now if the competition rules say (for example) that breaks can only be taken if a certain temperature is exceeded and that temperature had not been reached, then there might be a problem in calling a break but otherwise I personally don't see that much of a problem with it.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Matt,
your match, you decision, your reputation is always on display and for consideration each time you step onto the FOP. The ROC defines what sort of time constraints or bylaws are included. The parameters are somewhat vague but consider this! A referee has the discretion to do what he must to keep the players safe & the game manageable. Be it to stay hydrated or keep them from tearing each other throats out!

In chippy matches, it is a lot of back over the shoulder glances at the hot spots to diffuse tensions as well as instructing the ARs to be alert for the after stuff when play moves off.

If you miss CI moments or if a foul goes by unacknowledged or if simply the players are having a bad day and bad luck you still need to deal with the direct challenges to your authority. In youth we can forgive an impetuous coach for running to the aid of a downed player in REAL distress and a certain leeway in their responses. . But do not tolerate the unreasonable attitudes, while the coaches complains that as a referee we appear unconcerned or indifferent or unaware. The coach is probably fortunate he was not ejected for offensive & abusive rather than cautioned as USB but if your actions were sufficient and things evened out then give you and your team a pat on the back for sifting through the options and getting it done .

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