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Question Number: 34568

League Specific 4/19/2022

RE: rec and select and competitive Under 11

mary Ramirez-de-Arellano of Damascus, MD United States asks...

What is the proper restart when the ball hits the head of a player, 10 or younger, both 1)when the contact is inadvertent and 2)
when the player deliberately heads the ball?

Thank you.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mary
In Under 11 games where no heading applies, competition rules are amended to deal with heading which will include whenever the ball strikes a player on the head that play is stopped. The proper restart depends upon whether the player deliberately played the ball with the head or not.

If deliberate, the proper restart is an indirect free kick to the opposing team. If this occurs within the penalty area some ROCs state that the IDFK is taken from the location of the offence as per the Laws. Other ROCs advise that the referee shall move the ball outside the penalty area and award an indirect free kick from that location. Some ROCs suggest that if the ball leaves the field, play has been stopped so the restart is in accordance with how the ball left the field of play.. Referees should familiarise themselves with the particular restart rule in their area and under whose auspices the games are being played. Assignors are always good advisors on who best to speak to in an area.

If the play by the head is deemed inadvertent, then the proper restart is a dropped ball. There is no disciplinary sanction for a deliberate header. Regular DB restart rules will apply.

I would say that in the absence of a ROC that the correct restart is a regular IDFK from the location of the offence or a dropped ball if it was inadvertent.

I suspect that referees will exercise a great deal of common sense to ensure that the rule is implemented as envisaged. I watch many under 11 games and heading is not a common occurrence in games. I’m sure it is the same in the US so its not something that is going to exercise many referees in decision making. The bigger concern is the ball that hits a player on the head and the impact that it can have. At these age groups it is more likely not to be deliberate and therefore the dropped ball is the likely restart.

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