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Question Number: 34191

Law 18 - Common Sense 4/8/2021

RE: Pro Adult

Crebs Crem of Zagreb , Croatia asks...

Are the referees advised not to play the advantage but to give the free-kick if the player who has been fouled seems to be injured and cannot get up? If the referees aren't advised as such, how would they deal with the following potential scenario?
Red team player is fouled but red team maintains possession for a while and therefore the referee waves play on. Then, blue team gains possession and scores by developing a very fast counter-attack. However, red team player who has been fouled is still on the floor when his/her team concedes the goal. So, should the referee have stopped play at the moment when blue team's counter-attack starts, so that red team won't be like one man down? But this time, it might be unfair against blue team, in my opinion. Then, what should the referee have done in the potential scenario?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Crebs
The key to such decisions is the opinion of the referee and the nature of the injury plus the context.
The advice is that a referee should allows play to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is only slightly injured and that a referee should stop play if a player is seriously injured and ensures that the player is removed from the field of play. An injured player may not be treated on the field of play and may only re-enter after play has restarted.
In the case of a head injury a referee would stop play immediately yet for minor injuries such as a twist, small knock, strain play does not need to be stopped.
What constitutes a slight minor injury and what is a serious injury is left to the opinion of the referee.
So a referee can and should play advantage in minor injury situations when it benefits the fouled against team for play to be allowed to continue.

Unfortunately in my opinion the modern game has become blighted by the game being stopped for minor injuries and teams looking to stop play when a player goes down or stays down for minor problems including cramp, strains, minor knocks etc. Indeed many teams shout for an "injured" player to go down so that play can be halted and a substitution made.
I watched a player once in the EPL strain his hamstring in an attack and he was down on the goal line. Play transitioned upfield and the player walked to the centre circle where he sat down with his team looking for play to be stopped. The team prepared a substitute and by the time the player had left the field of play his team had a substitute warmed up and ready to play!. That delay upset the opponents and when it was repeated some time later the referee asked for the "injured" player to be removed immediately it caused a furore with the injured player's team.
Here is an example of a minor injury which play should not have been stopped for
It points to the malaise that is in the game when it is expected that play should be stopped for this!!

In your particular example the context tells me that as Red had the ball and his team decided to play on as they assumed that the injury was not serious. To expect that when Red lost the ball that play should be stopped is unfair in my opinion. It is in situations like this that referees take the easy option and stop play for injuries of all kinds.
I once recall a defender going down with cramp as he ran to challenge an opponent and shouting for the game to be stopped when he was the last defender on a two v one counter attack. It was simply a ploy to get the game stopped as he knew that a goal scoring opportunity was likely to develop. I did not stop play and the opponents squandered the chance yet he and some of his team mates berated me for not stopping play!
I recall being an AR in a game and an incident involving a clash of heads in the penalty area and the ball fell to an attacker who promptly shot and scored. The conceding team berated the referee for not stopping the game that is disallowing the goal yet the ball in the net stopped the game as fast as the referee could have done so. Yes it was a serious injury situation yet the game was stopped anyway due to the goal. Had play continued the referee would have stopped play.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Crebs ,

safety is key!
If a player is severely injured or if we think he is , we stop play immediately, devil be damned if there was a good chance to score or not.

Referees are not doctors, however, if the foul is SFP or VC involving a send-off & the scoring opportunity is not immediate as in ball is on its way into the goal, we would stop play and bring it back for the free-kick, show the card and send off. To allow play to continue would invite retaliation and if there was to be a send-off, you play advantage, they miss a good opportunity but the ball stays in play, on the counter-attack imagine the dude waiting on the card was the guy to score a goal ?? Simply retaining ball control is NOT good enough to say the advantage is there nor is it wise to let play continue with a player who knows he is being sent off might figure in on greater mischief

I do get what you are on about, if the situation does not require or cry out for immediate medical intervention, we can certainly wait a few moments, to say allow a golden opportunity to unwind or a goal to be scored. If the injury was serious enough the player can no longer participate it can seem unfair he was immobilized by an unlucky result of normal play or a reckless bad tackle deserving of a yellow card. Whilst he lays about moaning the opposition could conceivably score.

The issue for the referee is the player acting, trying to draw a card, use up time, or is he really hurt?

I tend to call out, " Hey # 15 blue, you are in the book!" on a cardable tackle for two reasons (1) inform my ARs to not forget his number at the next stoppage and (2) let the players know I got this! I saw it, he is going to be punished, so just play if the advantage was going to occur. If I am aware the player may have fallen awkwardly I might ask, "You ok? Can you continue?" to the fallen player to immediately assess whether I will allow play to continue.

Sporting behavior gentlemanly conduct in the past, often the opposing team upon regaining ball possession, would be generous & kick the ball out for a throw-in which the grateful defender would honor that act with a throw-in well back in the defensive 3rd so the opposition would get the ball back, if in a crappy position.

Thankfully the LOTG now allows a referee to stop play and award a drop ball to the team with ball possession should the referee determine the injury is serious enough to now stop play or as I learned later even to show a card! This is a very good law adaptation in my opinion, better than the old sketchy indfks or competitive free for all kick fest drops.

On a rare occasion, I applied advantage when a player who fouled the attacker was on his 2nd yellow, thus at the next stoppage would be sent off. It was a very good advantage, developing from a great cross and header only to be thwarted by an equally great save, and thus the ball was kept in play.

So the dilemma was the advantage was realized but the fouled attacker was in fact back up at midfield. If he were down I might have stopped for the injury with a clear conscience. Instead, I allowed play to continue until the soon-to-be cautioned player joined in the attack and nearly scored. Thankfully the ball went out for goal kick and it was then I showed the yellow then the red to that player VERY relieved he had not scored! Thinking later I realized I should have done exactly the same as if our player HAD been badly hurt and after sending off the defending player for his 2nd caution I could have restarted with a drop ball but not to to the defending keeper as the ball was within the penalty area which we can do NOW! BECAUSE this incident occurred prior to that law change & it would be a free for all drop ball inside the penalty area if I did stop play for injury or an INDFK to show the card? !!! I was confused, I had thought 2 bites of the apple advantage seemed wrong to bring it back to midfield for a free-kick after that glorious missed opportunity as to the INDFK being a correct restart, once the double cautioned player kicked the ball wide of the goal, a goal kick out was an easy solution as no harm had befallen the match due to my indecision.

Never said I was perfect, luck plays its part now and then. I do like the drop ball option as it is now applied! 4 yards away all the opposition must stay as only 1 team player participates or a drop to the keeper in his own penalty area!

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