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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34324

Other 8/31/2021

RE: All Other

Derek of Cary, IL USA asks...

Do you think that IFAB should allow the referee to award a goal if it was illegally defended, i.e. the Suarez handball?

Other sports allow the officials to do this in similar situations.
American football allows referees to decide the outcome on a play that involved a "palpably unfair act," which could include a touchdown.
Hockey awards a goal if a penalty shot would be awarded when the goalie was off the ice.
Basketball awards the field goal if there is goaltending.
Baseball awards the runner the next base if obstruction is called, which could result in a run scored.

I feel like a similar situation to the Suarez incident could easily happen and destroy the integrity of the game. Yes, you risk going down 1 player and a penalty kick, but if the opponent misses (which he did), you've basically rewarded the illegal behavior. Not to mention anybody outside the 22 players could realistically run onto the pitch and prevent a goal, leaving the team offended potentially losing control, as a dropped ball goes to the GK when in the PA, when they should've had a goal.

The degree of the competition usually determines the likeliness and how egregious an act like this will be. You likely won't see this at friendlies or the early stages of a tournament. But come elimination time, there are some people that will do anything to win for their team(i.e. Suarez).

Therefore, the referee should be allowed to fairly award a goal on a DOGSO-H or other illegal action by a person other than the 22 players. This would deter people from committing the action, and VAR could easily review the play and determine if the ball would've entered the goal without the illegal act.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Derek
Thanks for your contribution which is well made.
Personally I cannot see it happening as it may be a bridge too far for IFAB who see themselves as custodians of the law and the history of the game. The ball has to cross the goal line for a goal to be awarded.

I also think that outlier events do not make for good law changes. The penalty conversion rate is in the high 80% so for the vast majority of situations the penalty award and red card deals adequately with it. I think there would also be situations where the ball may not be in fact destined for the goal and the referee may be forced into an award that may be questionable.

As to the outside agent situation I think that it is such a a rare event that no law is going to be introduced to deal with such an outlier event. The onus should be on the team benefiting from such a egregious act to put it right. I know that for many teams it is unlikely that it would be addressed yet fair play on a certain goal stopped by an outside agent should suggest that a team concedes at the restart. There are many examples of teams putting unfair event to right at the restart

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Derek,
I actually have slightly mixed feelings about this. On the one hand I am a traditionalist and don't like to see a lot of major changes to the fundamental laws of the game.

On the other hand, I used to play quite a lot of rugby back in the day, and in that form of football penalty tries are an accepted part of the laws, that is seen as redressing what would otherwise be a fundamentally unfair outcome.

The relevant section of the Rugby Union code says that:

"the Referee may award a penalty try if, in his opinion, a try would have been scored but for the unfair play of the defending team."

I'm not so sure about awarding a goal for any foul that prevents a goal (we already have DOGSO for that) but I wouldn't have too much of a problem with awarding a goal for a handling offence that clearly stops the ball from crossing the line, such as the Suarez example you mention.

It is interesting to note that the IFAB was considering this a couple of years back and it was widely reported as one of the changes that was likely to be adopted as part of the review of the handling law.

At the time, David Elleray, Technical Director of the IFAB was quoted as saying:

"One of those areas we are discussing is incidents similar to the handball by Luis Suarez in the 2010 World Cup.

"A lot of people have said in those kind of incidents, why can't you give that as a goal if it is clearly going in."

They didn't introduce it yet but I actually wouldn't be too massively surprised if they did eventually.

I agree with ref McHugh that it's unlikely that there will be a change in the law regarding outside interference - it is vanishingly rare and has never even been discussed as far as I'm aware.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Dereck,
It has been suggested but the traditionalists tend to hold sway for the time being, that said, it could be introduced into law to allowing a referee t0 award a goal in these extreme very very clear cases where in actuality the ball has not fully crossed the goal line under the crossbar and between the posts.

I can recall a goal being scored but the ball was defective and was deflating on its way into the goal which USUALLY meant the goal could not count but it was ahem ignored that day. lol It's the very first piece in the video TEN rules in soccer you might not know! lol

Personally, I think the red card send-off reducing the team and allowing a PK to be decent enough punishment but ??

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