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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 35090

Law 10 - Determining the Outcome of a Match 9/4/2023

RE: Competitive Adult

Mike of Lachine, QC Canada asks...

Attacking player on a breakaway dekes the keeper and is clear on goal, removes his shirt before kicking the ball into the open net. What is the sanction and restart?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mike
Hah an interesting one and I have never seen or heard of it. Some suggestion of it being discussed online.
Law 4 says that play need not be halted for an offence of this law. The Laws cannot deal with every possible situation, so where there is no direct provision in the Laws, The IFAB expects the referee to make a decision within the ‘spirit’ of the game and the Laws – this often involves asking the question, ‘what would football want/expect?’
A referee could halt play to caution the player for showing a lack of respect for the game and restart with an IDFK. In that case a goal cannot be scored.
A referee might simply though allow the goal and caution the player for removing his shirt albeit prematurely in the celebration of the goal. That is a bit of a stretch yet it could happen in what is a truly outlier situation
Its one of those questions that most referees will never face and only likely to ever be asked on paper.

My feeling is that if this was to happen the player is having a laugh in what is likely to be a blow out game or trying to circumvent Law 12. I have in the past seen the odd bit of silliness by some players in these type of games which I always dealt with sternly. I recall a team setting up a “flying wedge” aka Mighty Ducks in a blow out game which caused me to halt play and award an IDFK for impeding. That ended that silliness.
So one way or another the player is getting cautioned and the goal is probably not a factor anyway. That final decision will rest with the referee on the day whether he goes caution and IDFK or caution and a goal. I have no problem with either call and both can be supported in Law.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi mike,
it reminds me of some old incidents where players home free after rounding the keeper
(1) goes to his to his knees and head rolls, crawls or nods the ball over the goal line
(2) he juggles it up into the air then walks it over the goal line while balancing the ball on his head
As my colleague noted the necessity to do anything is somewhat related to what the intentions were. Unfortunately the shirt removal is now listed as a mandatory caution whether or not you think it is a USB action not just a joyous celebration.

I recall the debate of the other two incidents where some wanted to take away their goals and restart with an INDFK out as an act of USB misconduct of disrespect. The difficulty of the LOTG in managing these weird situations is most of this at grass roots is all about fun.

The LOTG do reiterate that the team benefiting from scoring must not be guilty of a foul or misconduct ahead of scoring the goal. So my dilemma was if we are to show a yellow card for a caution for something occurring prior to the goal can we legally allow the goal?

In situations one or two I would of allowed the goals and chastised the behaviour as opposed to cautioning it. It was done in fun and in the first one the kids were told if they scored via a header the team all get milkshakes, the reward was an incentive by adults watching & coaching. The 2nd was just clowning about. Both matches were indeed fairly lopsided/ mismatched.

In your case with the shirt removal REQUIRING a mandatory caution, you could make the case for no goal INDFK out as you are using the misconduct prior to the goal as a reason to caution and thus a stoppage is occurring ahead of that goal. This is different in my two examples where the act is a opinion of the referee whether it did meet USB criteria and could be cautioned.

If the shot into the goal was in the process of entering the goal and the shirt was not fully off but in the process of comming off, it could be a matter of timing . I wonder as referee would we whistle the shirt removal before the goal or simply wait to watch the goal and then sadly disallow it and caution?


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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Mike,

I'm going to be a dissenting voice here - I actually think the LOTG do explicitly cover this.

Law 10.1 (Determining the Outcome of a Match - Goal Scored) states that 'a goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no offence has been committed by the team scoring the goal'.

Note that it doesn't so 'no foul'. It says, 'no OFFENCE'. A yellow card that isn't attached to a foul - say, for dissent, or removing the shirt to prematurely celebrate the goal - is an offence.

If the referee is cautioning a player for anything they've done in the leadup to the goal, the referee is stating an offence has been committed. Therefore, the goal cannot be allowed and doing so is a serious error in law. And unfortunately, a caution for shirt removal is mandatory so the referee has no choice (it done before the goal is actually scored doesn't change that). Even if you want to argue whether or not it counts as a goal celebration, i think that blatantly removing the shirt while playing would typically warrant a caution anyway.

While Law 4 states that play need not be stopped for having improper equipment, it's referring to situations where we're not cautioning. For instance, a shinpad flies out or a shoe comes off. So, that part of the law doesn't apply here.

For any misconduct (eg, dissent), we always stop play immediately unless it's more beneficial to the opposing team to allow play to continue.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mike,
This is a tricky one and I think it could go either way. I would agree with ref Wright that you can't just dismiss this as an equipment problem like a shin pad or boot coming off accidentally.

Also in my opinion this does not necessarily fall under the category of celebrating a goal, it could equally be a way of getting a rise out of the opposition.

Anyway for me it's up to the referee (as it so often is) to decide. If the referee decides it's not a celebration and even if somewhat unsavoury, doesn't rise to the level of USB. for "showing a lack of respect for the game," the goal can be allowed.

But if the referee does decide a caution is necessary, either for USB or a premature celebration then the goal must be disallowed, again for the reasons given by ref Wright.

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Answer provided by Referee MrRef

Hi Mike,
the basis for the LOTG are to ensure a fun, fair match. The concept of LAW 10 suggests the team scoring cannot benefit from foul play prior to scoring a goal. Yet given they use the word offence which does imply misconduct. Play can be halted solely to show a card! Shirt removal as a celebration is indeed covered by a specific mandatory caution for USB after scoring a goal. However, since it occurs after a legal goal, there is no reason to take away the goal. Is the timing the rub here?

Let us say the match is tied and we are into the final seconds on a breakaway and the keeper on the ground watching dismally as the striker all alone in front of the goal whips off the shirt and proceeds to kick the ball over the line under the crossbar and between the posts as his entire team is also stripping off their jerseys at the same time and waves them madly running about having just won the state championship knowing the shirt removal act was cautionable for all but unaware that doing just before a goal is actually scored or in the process that goal might not count? Would you caution everyone and allow the goal or are we still tied and into overtime? Say two player were on the FOP as players already on a caution?

We can look for reasons to or thread the needle of logistics to say INDFK out and caution the striker but would we? Is having a shirt in your hand, like carrying a shoe you lost or a shin guard that fell out reason enough to deny a goal when no one from the other team is in play?

When we make up almost implausible situations it is likely at some point somewhere it coulda, might of, woulda happened. Just go with your gut!

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