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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 35059

Law 7 - The Duration of the Match 8/8/2023

RE: High School

Karen of Orlando, Florida Orange County asks...

Can a referee in soccer, restart a match 8 minutes after blowing the final whistle (indicating that the match is over) to review and continue the game?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Karen
Thanks for the question.

Obviously something went astray here or the reason for the incident was not plainly obvious.

Let’s say there was an injury situation where a referee has to hold up a game for some reason then there is no issue in restarting the game when the matter has been resolved. That could take time to deal with the incident.

As to a timing issue then clearly there something untoward happened such as perhaps the wrong game time being used.
Generally when the game has been terminated that is the end of play. If it is brought to the referee’s attention of a timing error all a referee can do is report the error and allow the outcome to be determined by the competition organisers.
Now perhaps if both coaches and the referee agreed to say play out a timing error such as playing 30 minutes per half instead of 40 then the outcome would have to be accepted if the error is corrected by agreement.
I was once asked by both teams in a drawn game not to play extra time yet go straight to penalties. By agreement I conceded to the request as it a was very wet, inclement evening and that was the end of the matter. I made sure both team managers were in total agreement so there was no hope of a protest. A spectator might ask why extra time was not played as that would be the normal requirement.
When something untoward happens in a game it can result in a formal protest depending on the circumstances. If both teams are happy with what was done by agreement but maybe not the result then the result stands.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Karen,

Strictly speaking, the answer is no.

But depending on the situation, resuming the match might be the 'least worst' situation.

The Laws of the Game (LOTG) require 2 halves of equal time to be played.

Now, according to the Laws of the Game, once the referee has signalled the end of the half AND left the field, no decisions can be changed - so, the match couldn't continue.

Let's say that the referee did end the second half too early and left the field - and it was a significant time missed in that case, returning to the field to play the remainder of the game (with the agreement of the coaches) might be the best outcome either way he'd need to report the incident. At least doing this, the competition administrators/football authority can decide whether to accept the additional time in the result or not. It's not a good situation, but at least it gives the administrators the option of accepting the full result rather than declaring the result of a partially completed match (and in some cases of an abandoned match, the remaining time is played out anyway)

If the ref hadn't even left the field, then technically he can still chance his decision to end the game.

Not knowing much about the situation, I also wonder if the referee didn't end the game but suspended it for some reason - weather, injury, suspended with the threat of abandonment over a disciplinary issue (though I'd normally argue that in that case, once you've left the field it's all over - though perhaps he was persuaded to return. I've seen that before).

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

High school games are played in two 40-minute halves. The game ends when time expires in the second half (NFHS Rule 7-1-4).

There are two exceptions to the game ending at that time. One is to complete a penalty kick for a penalty that occurred just as time expired (NFHS Rule 7-1-4 - Exception). Another is if the game is tied and your state has procedures for determining a winner (NFHS Rule 7-3-1). However, according to the Florida Soccer Sport manual, tie game procedures are only required for playoff and championship games.

Also, the referee is to verify the score at the end of the game (NFHS Rule 5-4-1a). Perhaps, after verifying the score, the referee found the score was tied and the game was restarted to determine a winner.

It would be interesting to learn on what basis the referee restarted the game. According to the rules, this should only be done if time did not expire or if it was started because the game was tied and a winner had to be determined.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Karen,
hmmm? * minutes is a stretch of time because if you blow for fulltime and the teams accepted the match as ended with no reason to think otherwise they likely disperse as a normal match might. Get changed or possibly start into the lot to leave the grounds

I suspect it might be difficult to get everyone back and apologise gosh guys, I made a mistake for whatever that might be . Regardless the hole is dug, could you get out of it with a minimum of discomfort or just send the match report in with the explanation and cross the fingers!

Our resident high school rules specialist Ref Manjone pretty much said it Match duration was cut short. Maybe a faulty watch or a Match result required to advance . perhaps the Referee was unaware a result was needed after a regulation tie? But if part of one team had left it could make for a very interesting rule or disciplinary committee to sort it all out should the match continue just because they had just enough players still around. lol

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