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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 35268

Other 12/5/2023

RE: Senior 5 Adult

Colin Davies of Brighton , Sussex England asks...

On Liability, sorry, Referee inspects the ground ! All good to go, match starts, during the game a goal mouth meelle occurs ! Players end up in the goal causing it to tilt. When it comes back down a player gets his leg under the stantchon and breaks a leg ? Being a portable goal and not secured as IFAB requirements, but passed by the Referee is this negligence ? Could civic action be taken ?

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Colin,

Thank you for your question. I would point out that as we are not lawyers it would be inappropriate to advise on this potential situation. I would hate for something to unintentionally be taken as legal advise, which this is not.

However, there have been cases, even in the UK, where referees have been sued for injuries. I've found some articles about Rugby Union cases. I don't know if any soccer referees have been sued or what the different considerations would be.

I will also point out that the laws of the land take precedence over the rules (laws) of a sport. Just because Law 5 states that a referee cannot be held liable for certain things does not necessarily make it so. As to exactly how the intersect and what needs to be argued to override the LOTG, I can't say.

Incidentally, I know of at least 1 case in the USA where a school district was sued and the district settled over serious repercussions from an unsecured goal post injury, and deaths have also occurred.

I certainly wouldn't want to be trying to explain to a lawyer - or a court - why I didn't check to ensure the goals complied with the Laws of the Game. I wouldn't want to test whether I, or my Association, could be sued. Don't let your actions become indefensible.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Colin
Like Referee Wright’s comment we are not in a position make a comment on a legal matter.
Now some general comments

A civil action can be taken by any injured party on the basis of alleged negligence. It can be up to a court to decide if there was negligence or not, should it get that far.
I have seen negligence claims being made where the ground owners, the club using the facility and the referee are all sued collectively for the one incident. The relevant insurers may decide to settle any claim based on what happened or it can decide to go to court to contest the claim or the amount claimed.
It is compulsory for all affiliated clubs to have Public (General) Liability Insurance cover with a £10m limit and that is detailed within The FA Standard Code of Rules.

The cover applies to affiliated Clubs, registered referees, ‘stand-in’ Referees and league competitions.

So official games played under the auspices of an association will generally be covered by public liability insurance. In general official referees are covered by that public liability insurance in carrying out their refereeing duties.

Now what I say to referees is to ensure everything connected to the game are checked and satisfy all safety considerations.
IFAB does state that goalposts must be secured firmly to the ground. However that is not always possible and some goalposts are weighted in a way with a weighted backbar when that they cannot be anchored. Those goalposts must be managed in line with the manufacturers instructions

Now there will be times when all the checks have been made and something unforeseen still happens such as a crossbar being broken because a player hung on it. Even at that a negligence claim could still be made on the fact that it should not have broken!

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Answer provided by Referee MrRef

Hi Colin
Asktheref can not comment on legal matters or offer advice on any civil action on the basis of alleged negligence
We can pray the player recovers and that there was relevant Liability Insurance Policy coverage attributable to that league or association that would not only assist the player in his recovery and hopefully protect the referee from persecution . Hopefully the safety concerns of that particular incident are brought forth to not reoccur!

From our pitch to your pitch in the spirit of Fair play

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