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Question Number: 22980

Law 5 - The Referee 3/22/2010

RE: D1 Boys Under 15

Rob of Houston, TX USA asks...

In a game yesterday the ball rolled out of bounds on the sideline near the white team's goal. The Ref initially ruled that the white team would do the throw in and all the boys from both teams immediately moved down field expecting the white team to throw in and move down the field toward the blue goal. Giving the ball to the white team was clearly the wrong call and the Ref immediately noticed, blew his whistle before the throw-in, reversed his decision. He loudly shouted 'my mistake, blue's ball'. All the players knew this was the correct call. The white player who was about to throw the ball in, handed the ball to a blue player who was stepping out of bounds to do the throw in. The blue player immediately threw the ball toward the goal where a teammate kicked to the goal. The shot was blocked by the keeper without scoring, but the parents erupted on the side line as this was blatantly unfair. All the white players, because of the Refs initial mistake, had moved to offensive mode and were caught off guard by the sudden reversal by the Ref.

It all happened VERY fast. If the Ref had chosen to do so, if a goal had been scored, can the REF nullify it and make the blue player throw in again. Is that what should have happened?

Refs are human, they can make mistakes. But in this case, the way the correction was done, an unfair advantage was given to the blue team.

Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

The wise referee who has made an error in which team gets a restart NEVER allows the restart to occur until both teams are recovered and ready to play. This is one of those restarts which should begin with the referee's whistle, which that wise referee will have immediately indicated to both teams upon discovery of the error.

Allowing a quick restart here compounds the original error. The referee gets points for announcing his mistake, but points subtracted for failing to manage the restart. If the blue team had scored on the quick restart, the referee should have called it back, noting the restart required his whistle.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Rob
If a goal had been scored then there was nothing in the Laws that the referee could have done do to change that situation.
Now whether it is 'unfair advantage' is a different matter. Yes the referee should have managed the turnover of the TI in a different manner. I personally don't think it was unfair and it is more lack of experience on behalf of the referee and poor defending on behalf of the Whites by allowing Blues to take the TI. Defenders have to concentrate and to use the term 'switch on' to what is happening, expect the unexpected in the same way as the Blue players reacted quickly to the possibilities. I recently watched a game where the goalkeeper miskicked a goal kick and the ball went directly to a forward who was unmarked with no defender within 10 yards and he scored!!. That is poor defending.
In a recent ECL game the Arsenal goalkeeper touched a ball that was deliberately kicked to him by a team mate. The referee awarded an IDFK and he asked for the ball which was given to a forward who promptly put the ball down, passed it to an unmarked team mate who scored. Was it unfair for the referee to hand the forward the ball? No it wasn't and it was simply poor defending and there is nothing in the Law to prevent it. One can argue about poor mechanics by the referee but there is nothing in the Laws of the Game to allow him to disallow the goal.

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Answer provided by Referee Debbie Hoelscher

As Ref Maloney points out, when the referee involves themselves in a situation which has either confused, or added to an already confused event, then the appropriate thing to do is a 'ceremonial' restart. In this case, the restart is the throw in, and the 'ceremonial' part is the referee blowing their whistle to signal to put the ball in play. While the LOTG have not been broken, the spirit of fair play has been besmirched.

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