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Question Number: 34379

Other 10/12/2021

RE: Under 19

Jeremy of houston, tx usa asks...

In the MLB playoffs there was a situation where a ball bounced off a fielder and then went over the wall. They umpires had to call the central replay center to get clarification of the rule.

I know IFAB's rule book is much smaller, but would there be any way you could be the center and justify having to stop the match, run over to your bag to get your phone out, access the IFAB app, and get clarification on a rule before the restart?

I am thinking about this with some of the confusing obscure rules, like on a PK if the keeper/player/both/etc. encroach, something that a substitute does and what punishment can be given, a coach or spectator preventing a restart by tossing the ball away, and those types of rare situations.

Or really just any situation if drama results and you want to give direct proof from the rule book to a coach/player

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Jeremy,
I have been in a situation as the coach of a relatively high-level competitive match where I wish the referee did have a local rule book as my men's team and another were embroiled in a shootout that was NOT conducted properly . A protest was placed & a REPLAY was ordered we had won the shootout. So, on our 2nd match, the replay, their keeper comes outside the PA and deliberately handles the ball preventing a DOGSO we get a PK awarded.

I had to strangle myself to be able to quietly talk to the AR and beg him to tell the referee he was mistaken, it is a DFK outside the PA and the keeper should be sent off. The referee chastized me for bothering the AR. I ordered my PK kicker to miss the PK deliberately because if we did score it would be grounds for a protest again, for a replay again!!!

You bet I wish there was a rule book I could point to yet as a referee I would HATE it!

The difficulties arise what if there is no mistake or an argument breaks out, dissent, fight??

Some of us are more approachable than others! lol

Likely because of stubborn pride and ego although if I really was unsure, I hope I use whatever neutral resources there are to assist in making a correct decision. I work hard to know and understand the LOTG so hopefully I would not feel the need but in tournaments I have taken a moment to review certain idiosyncrasies I was unfamiliar with as some weird items can be in effect.

Look no referee enjoys being made to look foolish even if their own actions precipitated it.
At the rec league or grassroots very, few results should be so catastrophic that a protest and replay must be upheld to melt out justice. Yet in any competition, no one likes to lose on a technicality or a wrong decision that could have been easily rectified. I would certainly not carry a LOTG booklet in my back pocket during a match but one in the kit bag is not the worst idea ever. We really do want to get the call correct we just can not debate it all day long.

Again, as a coach in a high school grade 10 to 12 senior ladies match, a tied match, goes to sudden death after 5 shots! They make their 6th shot, Hey they shot 1st! & the referee says that is it? Wait we get a 6th shot too! Referee writes me up and buggers off all peeved because I tried to correct his mistake! The other coach just shrugs rather than say, hey they need their chance to go? Honestly some people are so cognitively demented that no other thought can fit inside their tiny brain to admit a mistake??

I watched a men's tournament there was a decision to award an INDFK for illegal handling by a keeper inside their goal area inside the PA. I thought it a harsh decision but it was an opinion thus it stands as a referee it is right . Yet the ball location was NOT brought back to the goal area line parallel to the goal line! Under the special circumstances within the goal area, it very clearly states no attacking free kick can occur anywhere but on that very narrow 5-inch ribbon located 6 yards from the actual goal line itself as the ball is brought straight back to that 6-yard limit in the goal area from the spot of the offence.

So, we see this ball spotted 3 yards from the goal line about middle left in the goal area. Now the referee tries t0 manage the WALL. Again, under the LOTG defenders must remain 10 yards away from the spot of the offence except if it is an free kick closer than 10 yards out from goal. If this is the case the 11 defenders including the keeper can line up UNDER the crossbar BETWEEN the posts while STANDING on the goal line. It is the only time this is permitted on INDFK close than 10 yds to their goal. Yet the referee having made an opinion decision could be creating a protest able situation by the ball location not being correct and while some players did stand on the goal line, they leaned out with the other foot as other players surround the goal area itself in behind the ball just as close as those under the crossbar so no 10 yards anywhere lol .

I recall those along the touchlines asking me if what was going on was, ok? I shook my head and quietly said, Nothing going on out there is ok. You should say something . I replied, this is not my match to interfere with. Bullshit you know the referee is cocking this up help the guy out! I refused to do so yet I wanted very much to do so so I mentioned to the nearby coach if he was happy about what was going on. He asked is it protest able? Ok so now do I give advice to one team at the expenses of another? I also asked the AR you ok with what's going on? AR just said HE is the referee. So, I just kind of wandered off and went Wow . As it turned out no goal, big rebound and nothing came of it! Sometimes things have a way of just working out!


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jeremy
Thanks for the question. It highlight an important principle of a referee knowing the Laws and the Rules and also the Rules of Competition before the game.

Each competition has Rules of Competition that set out rules that are unique to that particular competition such as number and type of substitutions, how ties are decided, etc. From my perspective failure on a rule of competition is more likely to result in a protest that than a game decision other than a clear misapplication of a law or rule.

In an u19 Women's international game between Norway and England the referee incorrectly awarded an IDFK to Norway for encroachment by the kicking team on a scored penalty which was incorrect. The correct decision was a retake.
England won the protest that was submitted after the gane and the last 4/5 minutes was replayed at a later date starting with a retake of the penalty! Imagine the cost of that replay for 5 minutes of soccer. Had the referee just awarded the goal as the encroachment at worst was trifling none of that would havé happened or had the referee known the law she would not have been talked out of it by Norway and went with a retake. Disappointing that the three other officials on the referee crew did not help out with ensuring the correct decision was made?

Anyway misapplications of the laws / rules are pretty rare and most refereeing errors other than misapplications are just that and highly unlikely to merit a protest that will be upheld unless the referee confirms the error later such as saying that a player made a genuine attempt to play the ball on a DOGSO red card which is a caution.

Some time ago I came across this video
Even if the referee was flawless in his officiating of the game he failed to look up the ROC before the game which would have told him that it was roll on / roll off substitutes plus the game should have gone straight to penalty kicks. His failure to know the ROC resulted in two phone calls during the game which in my opinion made him look unprofessional. He did his best though to get it sorted which looked like he did and I doubt any protest would be upheld as he did allow the substitutions and it went to a penalty shoot out albeit after x minutes of extra time. It could have been avoided and maybe there was a good reason for it such as being asked to officiate at the last moment in a competition that has a unique ROC. Most games would not have roll on / off subs plus there would be extra time rather than straight to penalties. It did make the referee look bad and obviously resulted in this video which is not a good place to be for a match official.

As to your question I would not use the law book during the game in any circumstances . To do that would risk losing control of the match plus credibility. I once was challenged strongly by a player in a game about a decision I made for a retake of a free kick that did not exit the penalty area before it was touched. (The law has since changed). He said to me that I was wrong and it only applied to goal kicks. I said to him * Do you want to bet me €100 that I’m wrong*. He looked at me and muttered that I must be right if your prepared to bet that!. The magic book would have come out of the kit bag at the end of the game if he accepted the wager! lOL

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Jeremy,
Strictly speaking there's probably no rule against doing that....but it's going to be a very, very bad look, and the ref will likely have lost everybody's respect. And you can imagine that everybody will be shouting at him to check the laws again for every decision after that! If I was assessing a referee who did this.....well, it would not reflect favourably on the assessment.

It simply shouldn't be needed.

I personally think that at this professional level - and honestly, a few levels below it, there's absolutely no excuse for these errors, even on the obscure laws. It's simple professionalism - and referees should have the pride in their work to be working hard to ensure their knowledge of the laws is at the required standard.

Unfortunately, we've seen it a few times in the Australian A-League as well - we've even seen VAR award decisions that are incorrect in law! At this level, I find it completely inexcusable. What I always find amazing in those cases is that there are 4 on-field officials, 1 VAR and potentially an aVAR, and somehow nobody says 'hey, that's not the restart....'. Despite what I said earlier, I actually do think VAR should have the laws at hand - they shouldn't need them, but in a room, with time to make decisions....the option should be there.

We don't really talk about HOW to learn the laws enough. Flash cards would be one good technique - yes, there is a lot of information to memorise (and then keep reviewing) - but if you're at a high level in particular, then it's part of your professionalism. I think flash cards are a great technique to cover a lot of material - also, whether it's reading the laws or using flash cards, VERBALISE!!! It will sink in a lot more if you verbalise (there is science behind this!)

When I started refereeing, each night before and morning of a game I'd review one of the laws. In addition, every time I saw or heard about something (either as a player, coach, referee or spectator) that I was a little unsure about, I'd go look it up - but then review that entire law. Can't wrap your head around the various ins and outs of penalty kick encroachment, or the different matters around people coming onto the pitch? Then if you know you struggle with these laws, what have you done about it?

When I was a mentor and assessor, I shared my opinion that referees should almost be able to rattle off Laws 11 and 12 word for word - that they should know these laws like the back of their hand, as the vast majority of what comes up, comes from these laws.

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