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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 35203

Law 9 - The Ball in and out of Play 11/6/2023

Barry of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

Greetings to the panel.

My questions are around Law 9 and the ball hitting the referee during active play.

First: is 'possession' the same as 'controlling' the ball? For example: Team Blue has clear control of the ball when they pass it... but Team White gets a foot on the ball and it deflects and hits the referee. "If the ref is going to award a DB (outside either penalty area), which team should get it?

I suspect that Team White WILL get the ball, because if the ball had hit the referee and gone out of bounds, White would be judged as the last to touch it and Blue would get the restart throw or corner.

Second question: if a Blue pass has been made for a promising attack... but it contacts the ref on the way and then continues on to the intended Blue player: does the ref allow play to continue, or bring it back for a Blue DB? I'm thinking "play on".

Good reference here:

Thanks again for your guidance.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
Law 9 as you says states it is a drópped ball when the ball touches a match official, remains on the field of play and:
# a team starts a promising attack or
# the ball goes directly into the goal or
# the team in possession of the ball changes

My experience of this is that referees have difficulty focussing on change of possession on single touches. In your example White should get the ball.

On your second one many referees will decide that none of the three conditions has been met so play should continue. There are loads of examples of passes being slightly brushed off the referee on the way to the intended player and play is allowed to continue.
Referees should only look for the obvious *unfair* contact on the ball which has an impact on play as set out in Law 9 requiring play to be halted with a drópped ball restart

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Merry Christmas Barry, our stalwart man in the middle of Chilliwack BC!
Too early?? lol
The great thing about the BC coast we played 11 months of the year even if on gravel fields.

Interesting, we had this question situation asked just ahead of yours, similar but different! lol You might has seen this already! Lucky referee!

The key component is did the ball /ref contact adversely affect the outcome for benefit either team, either way? Rather than perception allowed to run rampant, it generally translates to a DB scenario very quickly if indeed there is controversy.

Once we were just a field condition like a goal post or corner flag play continued .
The new LOTG dictate some criteria to stop and restart with the DB.

A DB inside the PA of either keeper becomes keeper's ball.
So any attacking issue they are likely to grumble.
Last possession is likely to figure on who last touched the ball PRIOR to the referee. being involved .

So your first situation (1) Blue kicks ball, (2) White foot deflects ball, (3) Ball rebounds off the referee. (4) Referee stops play for what? If the ball was headed into touch and it continued into touch then blue gets the throw-in or corner or goal kick, (5) Restart is BLUE DB UNLESS inside white PA blue retains possession. If ball was remaining on the FOP then White gets DB unless inside blue PA!

In any situation like your 2nd scenario as long as the ref/ball contact did not provide the attacking team with any extra advantage there is no reason to halt play! If the touch had redirected the flight path past an opponent who had an opportunity to challenge but the redirect was sufficient to prevent such a challenge then a DB to blue , except if inside the white PA!

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