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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33721

Mechanics 10/20/2019

RE: Select Adult

J.martins of Oyo, Oyo Nigeria asks...

The striker receives ball outside 18 yard box of his opponent and he was off,then the AR raised and drop the flag twice,after droping the flag a goal was awarded .my questions are(1)is the AR surpose to keep the flag raised or drop it? (2)the goal awarded is it a goal?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi J.Martins,
ALWAYS Always play the whistle!!
As we mention repeatedly, the flag is ONLY a communication for the referee by the AR indicating a possible need to intervene! If there was no whistle halting play and there was no valid reason the flag was raised the goal would stand! .

I agree it is not great mechanics to see flags being raised and dropped as it does create apprehension or confusion to on-field players yet it is NOT the whistle!
Whether a flag is raised in error then realized as an oops or if raised then waved off by the CR due to something the AR missed or was unaware of.

Yet the mechanics of an AR indicating a need to communicate upon raising the flag is to ensure it IS held aloft until the CR acknowledges it. If the AR sees something and is convinced the CR has not, he must find a way to get the CR the critical information. At the elite level there are radio communications headsets as well as buzzer flags and pads at the recreational level or grassroots we generally have only out flags and on occasions our voice.

In a recreational match I was playing as defender, the ball had exited the FOP very briefly then reentered almost as fast as it had exited . The AR had a perfect view and raised the flag which was unnoticed by the referee who instead followed the cross into the PA and watched as goal was scored.Th CR likely thought the goal was good while I was pointing to his AR up-field yelling, ( the flag is up!} so he turns around and the AR by the mid line is waving the flag shaking his head and waving the CR over. There was no goal awarded, no kick off, no goal kick instead it was a throw in from the touchlines by tmy team where the AR saw the ball had exited the FOP after last being touched by the attacking team. The mechanics were a bit off in the eye contact with the AR was lost just ahead of the ball exiting and the other AR did not mirror the signal . However the correct decision was reached ,albeit a bit messy because the AR kept a correct flag aloft until the CR could judge for themselves the validity of such a flag. Yes players, myself included, are VERY quick to point out flags to the CR that he missed & that WE believe are in our favor! lol

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

When the AR raises the flag, this is simply offering an opinion to the referee that they believe an offside offence has occurred - the referee makes the final decision. The flag is just a tool to communicate with the referee.

So if the AR is raising and dropping the flag, there's nothing wrong there as far as the laws are concerned - the flag means nothing to the players, technically speaking.

It is poor mechanics - a lot of inexperienced ARs do make the mistake of raising a flag too early then dropping it (hopefully before the ref sees) when realising it was incorrect. Raising it again is a little unusual! Perhaps the AR thought he saw the ref wave him down, then doubted himself.

The best advise is for the defenders to play the whistle. I'm sure we've all seen the AR raise a flag early only to have the offside attacker stop and an onside attacker run through and get the ball - in that instance, no offence has been committed so the referee is supposed to overrule the AR. If the defenders had stopped, that would be their own fault. It just sounds like a lack of experience here.

Flag is for the referee, nobody else.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

The final decision on all matters relating to play rests with the referee. A flag by an assistant is an opinion by that official yet it is up to the referee to decide whether to accept that opinion (flag) or not.
So a referee can decide that an assistants flag is not correct in which case the referee waves the flag down and play continues.
So in your example the assistant believed what he saw was an offside and the referee did not agree with that so more than likely the referee waved the flag down and play continued with a goal scored. Any goal scored would be considered good and awarded.
Now if the referee did not see the flag then the assistant must keep the flag up until seen and acknowledged by the referee.
Have a look at this video
The assistant flags for offside, the referee waves the flag down and play continued with a goal being scored.
The replay clearly shows that the ball was played by a Green player to the Blue player in an offside position so it could NOT be offside. The AR did not see that play by Green so the flag was in error yet the referee did see the play by Green hence his decision to wave down the flag and allow play to continue with the goal scored.
Had the referee not seen the flag the assistant should keep the flag up. With technology such as buzzer flags and mikes missed flags are becoming rarer.

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