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Question Number: 35005

Law 3 - The Players 6/12/2023

RE: Rec Under 17

Greg S of SLO, CA USA asks...

Red B16 team attacking in defender Blue’s penalty area. Red takes a shot on goal and it goes off a Blue player and over the goal line for a corner kick. The ball rolls quite some distance with Red #5 chasing it and, this being a city park, ends up under some playground equipment. R#5 should’ve just used the spare ball by the goal, but it rolled much farther then he expected. While Red #5 is off getting the ball, the Red team gets a spare ball next to the gol and takes the corner kick. Momentarily later Red #5 returns with the “lost” ball, rolls it over by the goal, and enters the field of play. He immediately gets involved with play, which is the ball pin-balling around near the Blue goal. A second or two later Red (NOT R#5) scores a goal.

What to do?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Greg,
Just to clarify!
The referee or it is league policy permitting additional game balls to be available around the pitch, correct? At designated places?

Given there is no field personal designated as ball retrievers, as there should be in high school or most regulated matches, once the ball is into touch, the players' themselves usually chase it down and bring it back correct?

Let us be honest here, the sensible referee would have permitted RED #5 to retrieve the ball and bring it back to the corner arc to restart. His Match His decision His Reputation

My colleagues & I consider it a poor choice by the referee, if the red team is permitted to restart with the OTHER ball while their #5 teammate is still reaching under the monkey bars to retrieve the first one. At first glance it could seem their right to restart quickly is being upheld but Red is choosing to play 10 versus 11 thus short a player for the moment. Now it could be a ploy to be sneaky as it is likely blue thought the #5 red player would retrieve the 1st ball and no corner would occur as of yet thus be confused by the tactic.

My concern might be if Red #5 only comes into view by subterfuge?

If the referee permits the corner kick restart with red #5 off the FOP I personally would have concerns as to the entry point of red 5 returning, not that he is no longer a player, because he is in fact, STILL a player!

Plus Red #5 might be as surprised as the blue players, his Red teammates took the corner with the 2nd ball while he was not on the FOP still retrieving the 1st one. .

Red #5 running back with the 1st ball and then rolling it in BEHIND the goal or goal line or near the corner arc but not allowing it to roll onto the field as a second interfering ball .

I am gleaning you are talking about his personal entry point? It was over the goal line NOT touchline? In fact over the goal line into the PA itself or even goal area??? That would bother me as an official as an unfair return onto the pitch even if that was the direct route he took off the FOP to retrieve said ball? Which is probably why I would not allow the early restart lol. I personally would consider a touchline entrance near the arc as more reasonable.

Allowing players leeway to exit off and come on as part of normal play but this seems contrived? If I had doubts that RED #5 entered unfairly and got a touch on the ball I could have stopped play and awarded an INDFK to blue after cautioning Red #5.

Mind you if the referee accepted the premise that Red #5 simply realized, I got to get back into the FOP as quickly a possible, as was his duty, then his subsequent touches and the eventual resulting goal could stand! Not that the blue team would be happy about it!
We try to teach younger referees, do not look for trouble unnecessarily. Stick with expectations more than weird allowances.


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Greg
Thanks for the question.
Poor mechanics has caused this problem. The game should have been held up until Red#5 had returned to the field of play with the match ball. In many ways Red #5 has caused a distraction for the Blue team as they can be watching him plus his marker may not know what to do or who to pick up. With the focus on the match ball retrieval and an unexpected restart can be unsettling. Plus coming back on after play has restarted places the Red player perhaps in an unmarked position and not factored in to the defensive set up.

Now as to the Law part Red#5 is entitled to leave the field of play to retrieve a ball so no offence has been committed there. Red#5 would also be entitled to return without the need for permission provided he does so without delay so in Law the goal would have to stand.

As to the fairness of that it is highly questionable with Red#5 getting involved in play and one where good mechanics would have easily sorted without any complaints from Blue about the restart. It is for reasons like this that referees insist that every player is on the field of play at a restart so there is no standing off the field of play in the goal area or to the side of the posts. Play should be held up for that to be dealt with.
I have also seen situations where teams place two kickers at the ball one left footed and one right footed and then at the last moment decide which would take the corner kick or if the defenders did not bring out two players to cover the restart it might go short. That though is in plain view of the defenders with no concern about either player getting involved in play by both coming on to the field after the kick. All perfectly okay.

I have also seen this type of problem where the use of multiple balls distracts opponents at throw ins. I saw one recently where a throw in was taken with a 2nd ball while the match ball was kicked back to the throw in location and it bounced back on to the field of play off the perimeter fence and then a few seconds later kicked off again. Some of the opponents’ focus was on the match ball not the 2nd ball used for the quick throw in and that distraction placed some players slightly out of position, focussed on the match ball and caught unawares with the 2nd ball restart. Here play should have been held up and restarted again with no possible distraction.
It is why in years gone by the entry of a 2nd ball was always a reason to stop the game yet that became abused hence the current position is that play is only stopped if the 2nd ball interferes with play.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Greg,

It's a good question because this situation does come up fairly often at grassroots. Well, sort of - 99% of the time if it's a corner, the kicker is aware enough to wait.

It does tend to come up a bit more with throw-ins, I think, but it's rarely an issue even if the TI is taken when the player is still off the field. It's rarely a critical moment when they're running back on - although if it's the GK who has left the field and the opposition have the restart, I'd be holding that one up.

Anyway, back to your question - I'd recommend being proactive here, moreso than when it happens for other times - and you've already identified why that the player is running in at a critical moment, at a critical location, and because of everything else happening the defence probably aren't paying attention to him.

So, that means the player running on can certainly gain an unfair advantage here. But, I'm assuming that's not their intent - as you describe, he comes straight back on. If they were lingering and trying to capitalise on confusion, that's an easy YC and IFK.

Here though? Players are allowed to be off the field to get the ball - there's implied permission for that, and permission is implied that they can come straight back on. Therefore, I don't think we can make an argument that he enters the FOP without permission. So the fact that his team might benefit is, for me, just an unfortunate situation. I wouldn't see any justification for a card here. The beneficial outcome doesn't make his re-entry unauthorised, nor does it make his action unsporting - though it does make it poorly managed by the referee.

So in this case, a quick 'double toot' (I'll allow a quick triple toot at most) to hold up the corner, wait for him to come back on, and use the whistle again to permit the restart. If you've missed this, then you can use your voice to keep him off the field IF you see it (but you probably won't) - though be careful of what you say simply shouting out "no! stop!" might result in the goalkeeper doing just that! "Stay off the field thanks red!" would do it. If they then come on, NOW we have a YC + IFK.

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