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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34878

Law 8 - The Start and Restart of Play 2/14/2023

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

Can a DB be used when a wrong call has been made, to possession to the wrongly-accused team?

Recently we had a first-time AR in the AR-2 position. She was doing a reasonably good job, but on one offside call, she put up the flag even though the defender had made a deliberate attempt (with contact) to stop a pass. (No knock on the new AR, as this is an advanced situation to consider.)

The CR, who also is fairly new, blew it down when he should have allowed play to continue. He realized it after he blew the whistle.

From my AR-1 side of the pitch, it was hard to tell what was going on. The CR ended up giving the wrongly-accused team a free kick. Nothing came of it, but it 'looked' bad.

Getting the call correct is always the best practice... but when you KNOW you've bungled a call, is a dropped ball to the wrongly-accused team an option? Anything else gives the ball to the opposition, who were not actually aggrieved.

Thanks again for your continued service to the reffing world!

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Barry,
the DB restart wording was altered to try and provide greater fairness rather than a contentious kick the crap out one another or scoring a goal by accident.

You already know the correct action by the CR is to wave off the incorrect flag by an AR if the CR is fully aware it is in error but since they stopped play, while the ball was in play and there was no offside call, you need a restart.

Mistakes are part of the learning curve.

The DB is the correct restart for an inadvertent whistle if the ball was in play, not out into touch. In cases where inexperience by officials demonstrates situational unawareness the DB is generally your best option. You could possibly sell an INDFK out as the offside call to avoid dissent or repercussions and support your AR with a quiet word to remind them of offside criteria. You mentioned a free kick for the wrongly accused? That confused me ? So it was not an INDFK out for the defense ? Instead an INDFK or DFK to the attackers? If a goal resulted from such a restart there could be grounds for a protest if it was a demonstratable incorrect restart. . . Which is why getting it right is indeed a good thing! lol

There is opportunity for any team to DECIDE on their OWN merit whether they should return the ball to the other team if circumstances warrant such an action. Be it a DB restart or a gifted throw in for example or even an INDFK or DFK or PK. Nothing prevents an act of fair play to return the ball to the opposing team should the other team feel it was the right thing to do. .. You as referee can not DEMAND they do so, it must be a free will choice.

The new DB guidelines allow for the keeper at either end to retain ball possession or the team with ball possession outside the PA to benefit from an accidental or unnecessary stoppage.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Barry,
When a dropped ball is awarded for whatever reason (including when play is stopped incorrectly) the same rules apply, as follows:

"The ball is dropped for the defending team goalkeeper in their penalty area if, when play was stopped:

the ball was in the penalty area or

the last touch of the ball was in the penalty area

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"

You don't say exactly what happened here but if, after the deliberate play by a defender the ball had already been played by an attacker, the dropped ball goes to the attacking team. If not, it goes to the defending team which if you think about it, is probably the fairest decision in either case.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
Thanks for the question
Yes a dropped ball can be used in this situation and it is the correct decision in Law . It could not be a free kick to the attacking team,
For me the better decision would have been to accept the offside decision and restart with an IDFK to the defending team. It actually looks "bad" when an assistant flags for offside and the referee accepts its with a whistle and then goes with a DB restart. It raises questions about the competence of the officials.
I personally think that as it was an advanced situation that the offside restart was the easier decision for the game and maybe an apology if challenged to say Yeah maybe we got that one wrong.
I was at two games at the weekend. In the first game there was one of these through ball situations off a defender. Was it or wasn't it a deliberate play? The referee gave the offside with a bit of moaning from the attacking team about the touch yet within 20 seconds it is over and done with.
The other one was an obviously incorrect offside call which the referee gave and restarted with the IDFK. I spoke to him afterwards and he knew that he stuffed up big time when it happened and he apologised to an attacking player for getting it wrong who had a go at him. That was the end of the matter.

I recall many seasons ago and I was refereeing a fairly important underage national cup game and I had a rookie AR2. He gave an offside flag in the first half and I knew straightaway that he stuffed up on what was a straightforward no offside situation. Everyone stopped for the flag and a defender picked the ball up. I took the flag feeling that it was going to cause bigger problems for the game by waving it down. We talked about it at half time and he knew straightaway that he stuffed up and he was appreciative that I did not throw him under the bus. The players had no problem with the decision and where AR2 was positioned there was few spectators, limited coach's view etc. Was it the best decision for the game? I felt it was as to allow play to continue with the award of a direct free kick to the attacking team when every single player had stopped for the raised flag would have raised questions over the competence of an AR and myself for not taking a flag. . It wasn't a game for a learning moment for underage players. To me at the time it was easier and tidier to go with the IDFK and it got forgot about fairly quickly except for me and maybe the AR!

Purists will say wave the flag down and restart with the direct free kick and I get that. However sometimes a game needs the best decision not the technically correct decision. Had I awarded the DFK and a goal was scored from it and the game was won 0-1 what would be the memory of that game be? A referee did not give an offside yet instead gave a DFK which won the game. What I made was seen as a run of the mill decision in the context of the overall game that was quickly forgot about. I recall it as a memory of making what I felt was the best decision in the circumstances.
Yes there will be times when a decision is blatantly and obviously wrong and if play has been stopped erroneously then the only restart is a dropped ball. Most decisions are in the opinion of the referee yet when its a fact then it not debateable so an error has to be corrected with a dropped ball.

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