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Question Number: 34311

Law 9 - The Ball in and out of Play 8/20/2021

RE: rec Adult

sal of Chicago, Illinois United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 34307

On reference to the last question about the ball hitting the ref and bouncing back to the same player or area. Here's a clip from this summer's Copa America mistake by one of the best referees in the world. the referee's rebound went back to another Brazilian player standing next to the original Brazilian kicker, the ref allowed play to continue, which resulted in a goal for Brazil and a whole world of hurt for the referee.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Sal,
The attack was ongoing, a team with possession retained ball possession, technically there is nothing incorrect about allowing play to continue. The Columbian players stopped playing because they assumed the referee would halt play but in actuality, he was permitting play to continue while kind of reacting to being struck and getting a handle on whether he SHOULD or NEEDED to whistle.

The referee was trying to allow the match to flow WITHOUT interruption. I do not fault him for that He is not a magician he cannot see into the future. The fact the cross and header were beautifully performed and executed does not make the rebound off of him that resulted in an outlet pass an unfair action on his part.

He could not get out of the way from being struck saw the ball being returned/rebounded to the team that had ball possession realized there was no immediate goal and the attack could continue.

The issue for me is PLAYERS should NOT stop playing until a referee's whistle sounds!.

I coach and explain this fundamental to every player, the game is NOT paused on any restart on any incident UNLESS the referee has whistled the play dead and verbally said We will not go until such and such occurs.
This goes for AR flags & offside just as it does for any free kick or throw-in or any incident on the FOP where the referee has NOT yet whistle reacted to an injury or incident such as this.

The rule is, we have the ball we attack, we do not have the ball we defend. the only safety issue is if you KNOW the injury is TRULY serious do we pick the ball up to stop play ourselves.

While I dislike the referee was using a raised arm to say go ahead keep playing. A whistle put up and into the mouth is indicating it is about to be blown will certainly cause some onlookers to draw or jump to conclusions but the fact is no whistle occurs! The fact players turn their concentration switch into the off position is NOT the referee's fault.

LOTG changed where we NO longer treat any referee ball rebound as a fact of play but a decision to go or stop, the same as in the accidental handling being a stoppage should it benefit the team. Players now expect the stoppage especially if the result is not what they want.


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Sal
Thanks for the video
Hindsight is 20/20 vision and it may have saved the referee a lot of grief if he went with a DB restart from where it hit him. It would have denied the team in possession getting on with play and allowing the defenders the chance to regroup. It would have denied the game a goal that in the past would have allowed and been *accepted* as luck with no unfairness to the conceding team. There was nothing unfair in what happened.

Was it a mistake not to do so?
The LotG offers the three options and two were not met so we are left to considered whether it started a promising attack or not. One could argue that it was a promising attack anyway with the ball going backwards after it struck the referee. It certainly changed the direction of the attack yet not directly.

I believe it can be argued as a matter of opinion and in days past it would not even be discussed with play continuing.

For what’s its worth had the referee stopped play instantly it may have tidied it all up. Its why most referees are now stopping play every single time as it takes away any objection from either team.
That though happens too many times in the game now with many decision made on rote such as not allowing quick free kicks in attacking areas etc.

It would be interesting to have heard the FIFA match observer’s opinion on this and any subsequent advice given to match officials in that part of the world on the decision. It is reported that CONMEBOL the organising confederation took the unusual step of saying that the incident "did not lead to a promising attack" and so play should not have been stopped. It is also understood that they published the exchange between the VAR and the referee which suggested that the ball was going in tne direction of a Columbian defender. Perhaps Referee Pitana was implementing advice rather than his own opinion?
In this one the attacking team did not even get the ball back!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Sal,
I'm not sure we can characterise this as a mistake. After the ball hit the referee it did not go into the goal, the team in possession did not change and at least in my opinion, a promising attack was not started. So on the face of it, none of the conditions for a dropped ball were met.

Yes, the Colombian players were upset but then players are always upset when their team concedes a goal and as often as not will try to blame it on a referee's decision if possible. I think it would be a dangerous trend for referees to start giving decisions that are not supported by the laws of the game just because the players whose team has just conceded a goal are upset about it.

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