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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34367

Law 8 - The Start and Restart of Play 10/2/2021

RE: rec Adult

Sal of CHICAGO, IL USA asks...

Yellow team has ball possession, Yellow A passes to Yellow B, but the ball hits the referee and completely changes direction. The referee awards a drop ball for yellow and keeps all the Blue players 4 yards apart, ball hits the ground dropped by the referee next to Yellow player whom freezes for a few seconds and does not touch the ball. Blue player advances on Yellow and touches the ball before Yellow has a chance to do so and starts a break away for Blue. As a referee, what would you do?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Sal,
lol we just had a go at this one recently.

Question 34347

The spirit of this restart was to return ball possession to the team that had it. Now we are tasked as a referee to stay with play so there will be occasions where we are just in the way. Previously we were considered as part of the FOP & like any rebound off a post or crossbar play simply continued.

However, just as they did with deliberate handling, they made an event that was not a foul into a DFK out because goals scored or advantages gained just seemed unethical if it was accidentally handled. They have decided in their infinite wisdom to apply the same ethical considerations to a referee whereby an accidental goal or an accidental advantage gained is no longer tolerated.

Now the mechanics are relatively simple, the referee drops the ball at the feet of a team player who is entitled to participate while the opponents must be 4 yards away.

The opposition are ALLOWED to challenge for ball possession at that moment it contacts the ground. In cases where a keeper in their PA is receiving the ball the fact it usually bounces up into their hands leaves no time to challenge legally.

Recently though I have seen some time wasting and poor mechanics by the referee entice challanges by the opposition. Given the fact the LOTG allow this challange it seemingly conflicts with the spirit of why this drop restart is done to return possession of the ball. When the recieving player makes no effort to play the ball when it does hit he ground he is either wasting time or the referee caught then unaware.

I suggest a referee ensure 2 very specific protocals.
ONE: let the player recieving know you are about to drop it and then.
TWO: drop it right in front of him not 2 yards away.
This is because currently the LOTG state that a drop ball is IN play when it hits the ground, NOT when the player supposed to be receiving it touches the ball, which, in my opinion is what it should be.

So tecnically by the LOTG the opponent is entitled to challange as long as he STAYS 4 yards away UNTIL the ball hits the ground not when the referee lets the ball go as that would not be respecting the distance. BUT what he can not do is score directly by himself, that ball MUST contact a 2nd player before it can be a legally scored goal.


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Sal
I believe the *best* decision may be a retake if the referee believes that should happen for whatever reason. The question #34347 showed Referee Jon Moss going with a retake.

The Law states that ** In all other cases, the referee drops the ball for one player of the team that last touched the ball at the position where it last touched a player, an outside agent or, as outlined in Law 9.1, a match official**

Our colleague Referee Grove researched this further following up on that recent question and he discovered a written answer from IFAB on the matter which he has quoted. I doubt very many referees including myself would have seen that Q&A from IFAB.

It takes into account the principle that the ball is in play when it touches the ground and if the opponents are 4.5 yards away that allows the player who is getting the ball to get on with play. Why that does not happen is a question for individual referees to opine on and decide accordingly.

Many years ago, before the changes to the goal scored directly from a DB, I was involved in a game where a goal was scored in such a way. At the time I had a sense that the goalkeeper made a lame effort to gather the kick back to him and perhaps he was trying to make mischief for me as it was type of game. I don’t know yet I decided to say that I had made a mistake and that I did the DB restart from the wrong place so I was going to redo it correctly. There was little if any debate about it. Had I went with the goal which the law would have allowed it would have caused an issue for the game and perhaps a loss of match control. I did what was best for the game.

So the IFAB says that the game can continue when the ball is in play at a DB according to the law yet a referee can opine by his reasoning why it should be a retake. Referee Dawson makes a good point in that if the referee manages the mechanism in such a way that only play can continue as expected then it should not arise.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Sal,
Subsequent to providing my opinion on this issue when it was previously posed and where I said that I thought that allowing the player from the opposing team to play the ball first here would be against the spirit of the law, I discovered that the IFAB had already issued guidance on this. The full Q&A went as follows:

"Play is restarted with a dropped ball for Team A. After the ball has touched the ground, an opposing player (Team B) who remained more than 4 m away comes up and plays the ball first. What is the correct decision?

The referee allows play to continue. This is permitted as Law 8 only requires that all players (except the player for whom the ball is the ball until it is in play (i.e. until it touches the ground)."

So while I still think that the intent of the law is for the ball to be dropped to a player of the team who had lost possession and that this should be a way of restoring possession to the team that had lost it, in so far as the IFAB is the established authority on interpreting the law I feel it's important that referees (and the football community) be aware of their official guidance on this scenario.

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