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Question Number: 34361

Mechanics 9/29/2021

RE: Rec - Middle School Under 14

Trent Futrell of Knoxville, TN USA asks...

U14 Middle School Girls soccer game

Two incidents I want to ask about.

First, blue team gets a DFK on red half of the field. Most of the red team heads back to protect their goal. However one red player is lurking off to the side and starts moving towards the ball from the side once the blue player starts their motion to kick the ball. It doesn’t interfere with play and I let it go. The coaches for blue team were livid saying that I needed to blow the whistle to keep someone from getting hurt. Should I have stopped play, warned the offending red player and redone the DFK for blue?

Second, red player gets injured on blue half of the field. Red maintains possession but there are blue defenders all around, so it’s not a goal scoring opportunity. Once this is determined, I blow the whistle to check on the injured player since she stays down and is in distress (not howling in pain, but obviously hurting, appears to be something with her leg). I check on the red player and make sure the game is ready to continue. For the restart, since red had possession when I blew the whistle, I did a drop kick to red at the point where I stopped play (again this was on blue half of the field). The blue coach again said this was the wrong call. The coach told me that I should’ve let advantage play out since it wasn’t a head injury, but since I blew the whistle to check on her, it should’ve been a drop kick to blue. He said since it was a red player and red had the ball, if they were that concerned they could’ve kicked the ball out of bounds. So should I have done a drop kick to blue (defending team). Does it matter where on the field if checking on an injured player?

Preciate the help as always.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Trent
Thanks for the questions. I will answer as a FIFA game.
Clearly the coaches were trying to influence you to their teams advantage and they were incorrect in both scenario.

On incident 1 you determined that the encroachment by the Red player had no impact on the play and that is your call. What it has to do with Blues’ notion of *getting hurt* is beyond me? Maybe Red got so close after the ball had left that there was a late contact on the kicker? Once you opined that there was no possible interfering on the kick then Blue is clutching at straws in perhaps what was a play that came to nothing and the Blue coaches were looking for a retake?
As to what you did that is a judgement call and perhaps as a learning point it can be worthwhile to prevent objections to the mechanics by being proactive in managing opponents to ensure they are 10 yards away even to the side . If the opponents are 10 yards away at the start of the motion to kick it rarely attracts any attention unless it is so blatant which is probably a caution and a retake anyway. In this instance it does not read that there was any negative impact on the play just a cheap moan.

On the 2nd one the Blue coach was totally incorrect and it is entirely your decision to stop play for any injury that you deem it necessary to do so for.
As the Red team had possession of the ball it was 100% correct that Red get the ball back uncontested from where the ball was when the whistle sounded to stop play. The team that was in possession resumes play from that point.
The game is trying to eliminate the need for teams to kick the ball out of play on injuries so the advice now is that it is left for the referee to decide and then there is no need for the so called Fair Play restart which has caused many problems for the game.

I will recount a story I am familiar with. In an U14 game a defender collided innocuously on the ground with a team mate and stayed down hurt. The referee allowed play to continue as he felt the player was not seriously injured. At the next stoppage he allowed on the physio yet would not allow the player’s parent, who was present, on to assist. The parent identified herself as such to the referee and in the presence of the team’s physio. It turned out that the player had a broken wrist. Anyway the parents sent a formal complaint about the referee and the referee while technically correct in all that he did including the misjudgment of the injury had to go through the full rigour of a complaint procedure and all that entailed. Had he stopped the game and allowed the player to be treated in a way that the players team was comfortable with none of that would have transpired and saved himself a lot of grief.
The take away of that is that at Underage it is best to stop the game as safety is key and get the injury dealt with immediately. Plus would it cause a problem for the game if a parent / spectator assisted the treatment and removal of a player at the behest / agreement of the team’s coaches. That person could be a doctor, medic or in the recounted case the player’s parent who was best placed to deal with it including bringing the player for medical treatment. It can be included in the match report that in the x minute player #x was injured, that play was stopped and the team physio plus another who was identified as the players parent, doctor, medic was allowed at the request of the team to assist in the treatment and removal of the player.

So well done on both counts. I’m sure it is good you to know that you handled these situations correctly. Maybe tidying up the mechanics on the free kicks to make it more transparent that you have enforced the 10 yards might help plus you know for the next time to be able to confidently rebut any *gripes* from coaches on injuries and that the restart DB is as you correctly went with. In this game Blue coaches seemed to have a lot to say so I would politely advise them to do what they have to which is to coach and to leave the refereeing to the referee. If they persist sanction can and should be taken.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


To respond to your questions, I see that Tennessee Middle School games are governed by NFHS rules.

In your first situation, NFHS Rule 13-3-3 states that players opposing the kickers shall be at least 10 yards from the ball until it is kicked. The penalty for failing to move the required distance until the ball is kicked is a caution. I do not understand why stopping play would prevent someone from getting hurt. However, the coaches may had a similar violation called against their team in a past game and became upset that you were not making the call. As to a call of this nature in a Middle School game, I would recommend calling this violation and issuing a caution as a learning experience for the player, the team and coaches involved. The education of soccer including the rules of soccer is a major goal for Middle and High School soccer players, and it makes it more difficult for high school players to abide by the rules if the rules are not learned in Middle School.

As to your second situation, your stopping play for the injury and starting with the . Please note that in Middle School and High School competition under NFHS rules, the referee can stop play for an injury when she/he believe that that an injury has occurred and immediate assistance is needed. There is no NFHS rule that requires or recommends the referee not stop play because a team is advancing the ball towards their opponents goal. Please remember, the top priority in Middle School and High School soccer competition is player safety.

I hope that you have a very successful fall season and get to work in the TSSAA girls soccer tournament and championship.

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