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Question Number: 34449

Law 9 - The Ball in and out of Play 12/11/2021

RE: 60+ Other

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

In a recent game, we had a corner kick. The kick was taken and delivered to the 18 yard line.

The defence pushed out and the pass to our striker 'appeared' to be offside, so the lone-official whistled it down while the goalie picked up the loose ball.

... Then we pointed out that the keeper and a defender were still on the goal line.

The referee admitted his mistake but where does that leave us for a restart? Play had been stopped by a whistle.

I was 'politely' suggesting a drop ball on the 6 yard line for us but he wasn't listening.

What he did allow was surely wrong, as he simply let the keeper punt the ball up the field.

My colleague today suggested a retake of the corner kick, which would be a good compromise though I doubt it satisfies FIFA laws.

What say you: when the referee stops play and then realizes an error has been made, what is the restart? Last possession is likely a key factor, I imagine.

Merry Christmas to all on the panel!

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Barry,

Your suggestion of a dropped ball is the correct technical solution to this kind of scenario.

Law 8, after listing all the other allowable restarts says that:

"A dropped ball is the restart when the referee stops play and the Law does not require one of the above restarts."

However since the procedure for a dropped ball in the penalty area is that it goes to the defending team's goalkeeper, and that wouldn't seem to be a particularly fair outcome here, I can understand the motivation behind your colleague's suggestion of a retaken corner.

The argument would be that a retake would be seen as being fairer, in the overall context of the game, but as you surmise, it would not be the technically correct restart according to the laws.

In a higher level game I don't think a referee could get away with such a non-standard decision (although of course in such a game, with assistant referees present, the situation would be unlikely to arise in the first place).

In a lower level or recreation type game you might possibly get away with the retake call, I suppose.

I couldn't in all good conscience recommended it however.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
Thanks for the question.
Hindsight is 20-20 vision. In my opinion as play was stopped inside the penalty area by the referee on an erroneous situation the only possible restart in Law is a dropped ball to the goalkeeper. So what the referee did was correct in Law even on an error by the referee. It might seem harsh yet that is the only viable situation available to the referee.

The only other possibility here of something else is a Fair Play decision by the defending team which would be where the defending team gives the ball back to attacking team after the dropped ball to the goalkeeper. I doubt many teams will do that yet it is the only possibility in Law for the attacking team to get the ball back.. A retake of the corner kick is not possible in Law unless the goalkeeper in the fair play option kicked it out for a corner.

I suppose its one of those situations where the team captain can be used to sort it. A suggestion to him that as the referee made an error the ball should be given back may be taken on board by the defending team although there is no requirement for it to do so.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Barry ,
hmm not 100% LOTG material but perhaps the referee thought getting on with play was the best decision for the match , since a drop would go to the keeper anyway?

Still, it sets a bad precedent. I recall TWO separate but related incidents!

One was the where the referee whistling play accidently then saying , "Play On," so the fellow with the ball just continued with no DB

Two was the referee saw a foul but blew accidentally (because he had the whistle in his mouth too quickly as the ball broke beautifully for an advantage so he just waved play on as if no whistle had sounded. While neither whistle resulted in a proper restart this 2nd one was in my opinion far worse . While there was not really a long or loud whistle it DID stop play and confusion resulted because the referee created it! You cannot save time digging holes to fall into!

The LOTG allow for a DB for an inadvertent whistle.

The difficulty those same laws state that if the DB is inside the PA ONLY the keeper in charge of that PA can participate. So, possession of the ball unfortunately goes to the defenders in this case. Unless the keeper decides to counter balance the injustice and kick it away to the opposition. Likely a bit away from the goal he defends! 0)

It will certainly seem unfair and to some extent it is but while the retake of the corner might seem best it actually awards an excellent opportunity to score and does not fit the restart parameters of an accidental stoppage.

One COULD consider a DB for the attackers OUTSIDE the PA if say the originating pass was outside the PA and went to the wide striker accidently called for offside as legal possession before the stoppage.

Cheers & Merry Christmas

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Barry,

Once I was refereeing a junior game as a lone official (where I spent most of my time refereing we did not use Club ARs). I blew the whistle for a clear offside near the halfway line....then parents called out (in a respectful manner) that there was another defender still chatting to the keeper 40 yards away.

As this meant it was an incorrect whistle, it falls under play being stopped for any other reason.

A inuing with the ball in the keeper's hand is indefensible and is a clear breach in the laws (play has definitely stopped so we MUST have a restart).

Of course this would be dropped to the keeper (presuming it was inside the PA), who would then be free to pick the ball up, but that's not really the point.

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