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Question Number: 20963

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/11/2009

RE: Adult

Bo of Greensboro, NC USA asks...

Is there a new rule that makes it a cautionable offense to retrieve the ball from the opposing team's goal after scoring? We had a young referee caution one of my son's teammates in a Region III game this past weekend. I would make sense if it were a case of keeping the two teams from fighting over the ball that sometimes happens after a goal. However, I think if it is something, the young ref had been instructed to enforce maybe to discuss with the teams in his pregame talk. In this particular case, the player was unopposed in retrieving the ball and at the time we thought the player may had said something unsporting.

Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Perhaps there was a reason unknown to you for the caution, unless you heard it from the referee.

USSF/FIFA have made a point in recent times that a ball in the goal belongs to the team who will take the kickoff. The team that just scored the goal should stay out of the net as there is no good reason for them to be there. The reason for the emphasis is too many tussles have taken place over the ball in such instances, requiring referee intervention and misconduct consequences. This spoils the game.

Teams always say they are just trying to get the game started again quickly - for instance, if they are behind. But that excuse holds no water. Time is the referee's job, and if one team, generally the team that is ahead, is wasting time, the referee will add it back in, and the best referees will make it known that they are doing that very thing.

So, word to the wise: If your team scores, leave the ball alone and hurry back to your end to prepare for the kickoff and to give the referee NO excuses for not adding time if the other team is dawdling. The captain may politely inquire about the time, but that is all.

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Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

FIFA mention, in their Laws, two methods of delaying the restart of play:

kicking the ball away or carrying it away with the hands after the referee has stopped play

provoking a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play

It is worthy of noting we are not privy to the referee's opinions regarding the nature of your son's act of collecting the ball from another side's goal net or the instructions he received from the competition authority prior to the match about dealing with those actions.

What we usually try to do is anticipate this happening then get the ball into our hands before two players square off for handbags at 15 paces. The referee blowing his whistle and reaching for the ball usually carries with it the threat of disciplinary measures should he not get his way.


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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Sounds like somebody only got half the message in the cautionable offense, 'provoking a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play.'

When this provision was first tested in a FIFA youth tournament a few years ago, the key words 'provoking a confrontation' were not included in the directive, with disastrous consequences. Referees were cautioning innocent players, following the directions they had been given. When it got put into the Laws the next year, those key words were included.

Perhaps the referee decided that in the mood of that match, any touching was 'provocative' rather than 'helpful'. Or perhaps spectators couldn't see the provocation from their positions. We'll never know.

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