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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34322

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 8/29/2021

RE: Lo al junior comp Under 15

Mark J Loftus of Malanda, Qld Australia asks...

The consistant calling of "my ball" or this no longer an offence ?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mark,
Actually, this has never been an offence. It is in fact one of the more persistent myths in football that this is against the law.

It is an offence to verbally distract an opponent but it's not the words used that matter - it's the effect it has on the opponent.

A player can call "my ball" or "mine" and as long as no opponent is affected, it is not an offence.

Now as a coach, I used to tell my players that it's better to use a name when calling for the ball, so as to avoid the impresssion that they might be trying to trick or distract an opponent but as mentioned, just calling for the ball is not, by itself, an offence.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mark
One of the myths that has been in the game for a very long time and perpetuated by some referees getting it incorrect.
There is no offence in communicating with team mates so shouting mine or leave it to a team mate is not an offence and it never has been.

The test for this is whether the shout was done for unsporting reasons by verbally distracting an opponent during play or at a restart. If that is the case the player is cautioned for unsporting behaviour and the restart is an indirect free kick from where the offence took place.

An example would be an attacker shouting KEEPERS and a defender lets the ball go past him thinking it was a shout by his goalkeeper and the attacker runs on to it. Clearly that is unsporting behaviour which is a caution and an IDFK

Now unfortunately this myth still persists in the game and some referees are awarding the IDFK only for no name communication . Interestingly ANY name that is used does not attract the sanction so a player could use any name not his own!
As Referee Grove points out if a name is used it avoids any possibility of an erroneous decision.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Mark,

I'm glad you asked!

Echoing my esteemed colleagues - not putting a name to the ball has never been an offence.
It's a myth that seems to perpetuate around English-speaking countries.

I suspect it might relate to the lessons young players receive about the importance of putting a name to the ball - perhaps at some point, a long time ago that somehow skewed into 'it's a foul if you don't use your name' and that caught on.

And this isn't one of those national variations either - I'm Australian.

What is particularly frustrating is that I know a number of referees also seem to have bought into the myth. I was astounded watching a local first grade match when a referee penalised a player for it - I was even more stunned when nobody argued!

It's a myth that a lot of people believe in. As a teenage ref doing Over 35 games, you can imagine how well these arguments went, against players who figured they had to know the laws better than I did because they had been playing longer than I was alive!

When it can become an offence is if the referee believes it is an unsporting act - that is, if it's a deliberate act to put off or deceive an opponent. For instance, standing behind an opponent and saying 'heel ball', making them think you're a teammate, would be an offence - and would warrant both an indirect free kick and a yellow card (in fact, an indirect for this MUST be accompanied by a card). Similarly, it isn't calling 'mine' that's the issue, but if a player is absolutely screaming it unnecessarily as he's going in for a challenge - completely and obviously over the top, clearly intending to distract, that's also a YC + IFK. But the same can happen just with general shouting going in for a tackle.

Realistically, it's rare for that to occur with any certainty. I think I've booked...maybe 2 players for it, in over 15 years. A few more where I was a bit suspicious, but nothing clearcut.

Putting a name to the ball is good practice - especially as I'm sure there are still some refs around who will incorrectly penalise if you don't.

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