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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34691

Law 7 - The Duration of the Match 9/4/2022

RE: Adult

Martin WAIN of Bradford, West Yorkshire United Kingdom asks...

Why is time wasting seemingly only deemed to be an offence in the latter stages of a game? If an away team takes too long over corners,throw ins,free kicks during the 1st half nothing ever seems to happen. Yet the same actions taken by a team in latter stages of the 2nd half often merit a yellow card. Lost count of the number of goalkeepers who have wasted time throughout an entire match yet only seem to get booked 5 minutes from the end.Surely its the same offence at any stage of the game? Yesterday I went to a game where the away team were clearly intent from the kick off to take an eternity. They then went behind but in the 2nd half the ref was constantly berating the winning home team over taking too long?!

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Martin
sometimes we look for what we expect and find it all too often when in fact the concept of time usage versus time wasting is not always as clear as it might be.

As a neutral official no referee wants or should want to be center stage. We are supposed to let the players play and intervene ONLY when their safety is truly compromised by rash behavior.

The LOTG do allow a great deal of discretion by the referee to decide just how far a law can be bent IF the players are seemingly tolerating it when it comes to, what I refer too as ,pushing the envelope . That is, taking something fairly straightforward and driving up the stakes to where it becomes much more than it needed to be.

I recall the USA Canada Women's match where a 6 second violation at the London Olympics became a HUGE controversial story and the referee in that match was put through a very difficult time. The issue highlighted that keepers in the entire tournament were not being taken to task for this and when it WAS in this crucial match at the crucial moment it went critical & exploded into a firestorm of controversy. The Canadian keeper had through the entire match certainly lingered over releasing the ball with no calls being made until the 80th or so minute and it lead to an INDFK which lead to a foul of deliberate handling ( that call, in my opinion was possibly more controversial than the INDFK for 6 second violation)

My colleague Ref McHugh touched on this condition in an earlier answer where teams hang on too long, move too slowly , shield the ball unfairly, linger in front of free kicks, keeper fails to release quickly during play and in the set up after a stoppage, players exaggerate injury or a foul to draw cards, substitution irregularities, all in an effort to use up the time .

It seems odd that if the referee allowed the one team to drag their feet but decided to rag on the other once that dragging style team got behind?.
The fact that a referee can add wasted time or stop time to allow for injuries makes the need to caution not essential until it becomes a nuisance or down right untenable.
I recall watching the Canada Brazil semi final U 19 world championship some years ago 2002 I think and the referee permitted Soooo much timewasting with no cautions, even balls kicked away or standing arguing with players telling them to back up it was utterly & completely ridiculous.

I KNOW it was seen with slack jawed amazement for not being called and the powers that be had more than a word in post match because the very next match saw Brazil and Germany play for 3rd and the first foul where the ball was kicked away that smart referee went BOOM caution yellow card immediately ! Guess what? A magic 10 yard circle opened up after every foul. Only caution for that type of behavior the rest of the tournament as THAT behavior disappeared! Now I guarantee the teams watched the replay and each other so EVERYONE took the cue that the silliness of the Canada Brazil match was simply NOT going to be allowed to repeat!

That is what should happen in EVERY tournament The very first BLATANT action of delaying a restart, failure to respect the distance, holding it past the 6 seconds your match your decision your reputation reverberates now and for future matches!

Notice I said blatant. I am very strict even pregame I mention I dislike delays and expect players to hustle but I am also cognizant of recovery and circumstances. A verbal warning, "Lets get it in play gentlemen or ladies or keeper 'is still a useful tool to manage situations. But put some teeth in your bark so it is not a whiney request the entire match! You do not want to gotcha a 6 second violation at 7.1 seconds or offer up a PK or scoring opportunity on something benign especially as the opposition has done nothing to deserve it. I give keepers a great deal of latitude to recover fully after a save before instigating 6 seconds of time. I also apply the leeway equally at both ends! We can let 6 be 8 seconds easily even more by seeing if opposition are interfering or recovery after a hard fall or save but at the elite level heck even grassroots player know enough to get the ball in play when they have possession and move away when they do not have possession.

There is a lot of emphasis on managing players to NOT show needless or match impacting soft cards. It also balances on the fact both teams are guilty of it and thus to some degree consider transgressions such as we are talking about as acceptable if the referee can at least find it tolerable?

For example the corner kick and free kick scrums inside the PA often have referee darting about sorting out he jockeying for position as opposed to just letting the bloody ball be kicked and calling the foul. I will almost guarantee on EVERY single free kick or corner kick into the PA somebody is fouling somebody 99% of the time. It is good to limit the easy stuff from being called if both are doing it. The new keeper designation on KFTPM with 1 foot on or behind the goal line was included to allow less chance of a keeper being guilty of too early moment as reactionary times and step out were almost always there to be called but were rarely called at all.
It is why they decided to not allow goals off an attackers arm because of the perception of unfairness not deliberate intent
We still get controversy on keeper movement and controlling a ball off a handling but not as much as before given its allowed for greater reliability of what to expect!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Martin
You are not alone in your observations. As to why time wasting is not dealt with in the first half is that teams rarely bother the referee about it early on. Human nature being what it is players only get animated about this in the later stages of the game when time is running out.

The reason these time wasting tactics have happened is that teams have learned to game the system in terms of time and how to use up time, many times in a way that is pushing the boundary of unsporting.
The tools that a referee has to deal with this is by adding on time and by cautions.
On adding on time I watched the Man Utd v Arsenal game and there was 4 minutes of added time. De Gea of Man Utd was cautioned on a tardy goal kick and Martinez took an age for cramp treatment and then a substitution. The only positive point was that the referee was able to remove him to behind the goal line under the substitution law change whereas in the past he would have trudged slowly off to half way, using up more time.

My good colleague Referee Dawson mentions the infamous IDFK in the Canada v USA Olympic game . Referees seen that debacle and decide that such calls may not be supported so they don't make them and teams play on that. When was the last IDFK that you seen for this infringement? When was the last player you seen to be sent off for time wasting?
The game knows that the team that is wasting time this week may be on the receiving end next week. Arsenal were on the wrong side this weekend while if they are in the same position they will do the exact same when placed in that situation.

I watched Barcelona in a 2nd leg ECL game where they were behind from the first leg. The multiple ball situation was in play and the balls were coming in quickly on every single restart for both sides. I would say that a ball was available instantly almost before it left the field. When Barca went in front suddenly the speed of ball being made available dried up for both sides. Obviously it was a decision to favour Barca who now did not need to get on with play.

So as it stands these tactics are going to be with us until the law is changed. Referees are slow to use the yellow card option or for that matter the ultimate sanction of a red card. I have thought about this and I thinks the simple solution would be to introduce the use it or lose it concept. If a team is tardy taking a restart just give it the other way. If a team does not want to take a throw, in a timely fashion then give it to the opponents. Same for a goal kick or corner kick.
I also think that match timing needs to be changed perhaps to something akin to rugby. Referees in rugby stop the game clock for all delays including substitutions, injuries etc. Teams know that the ball has to be in play for time to be used up.
So teams only respond to law changes and enforcement. If you notice what happens now on encroachment at penalty kicks under VAR it has been almost eliminated as teams know that encroachment that interferes on a rebound will be called. There is a message in there!

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