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Question Number: 23183

Law 7 - Match Duration 4/26/2010

RE: Friendly league Under 11

Tim Weare of hurst green, England asks...

The game is at 3 all, a corner is given and taken, a player kicks the ball over the goalkeepers head but the ref blows the whistle before it hits the back of the net Is this OK ?
(Ps we were all very well behaved if a little disappointed)

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Tim - Glad to hear you all behaved yourselves! I had to chuckle at you throwing that bit in.

The game is over when the referee decides it is over. The laws of the game say that the match is played of two equal periods of a certain amount of time - they do not say anything about not ending play when there's a promising attack. In fact, FIFA have clearly stated that referees are not to wait for the ball to reach 'neutral territory' (ie wait until an attack or kick is complete) before ending the half; however many referees still do this.

I'm not sure what the case is in England, but I know in Australia many of the junior matches are played on such a tight schedule that we are under strict instructions not to add any stoppage time to a match. As such, it would be extremely unfair to the defending team to allow the attacking team an extra few seconds. If they couldn't score within the allotted time, why should they be allowed an extra few seconds just because they still have attack?

I hope you understand that the referee has not taken anything away from your players here and that he has not disadvantaged them; had he in fact allowed the goal then he would have illegally disadvantaged the defending team.

Of course, it gets a little more complicated when you're playing a game with stoppage time as the referee can never be completely accurate in determining stoppage time, which is why referees usually show a little bit of flexibility when a team has an imminent attack.

The referee is correct under the laws of the game. Whether it was good practice - well, in my opinion that depends if the match was being played with stoppage time or not (this exact issue is something I have had numerous debates with my local colleagues about).

Additionally, the ball does not need to hit the back of the net; it only needs to wholly cross the line.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tim
Thanks for the question. Play ends when the referee says so and he /she is the sole judge of time. Many younger referees I know use new technology watches and they stop the watch for each stoppage etc and then when the countdown reaches zero they blow the whistle no matter where the ball is or the circumstances. The most famous one of these was Clive Thomas in the 1978 WC in a game between Brazil and Sweden when he blew for full time in the exact same circumstances as the ball flew into the Swedish net from a corner kick. FIFA were none too happy about that.
IMO while it is correct in law it is not good mechanics. it would have been better to blow for full time before the kick was taken. It is always easier for the referee to deal with the 'what might have been' gripe about not allowing the corner rather than dealing with the disallowing of a goal because of expired time. I suppose as well that if it was defended properly and the ball cleared there would not have been a word about it.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

I'm sorry whenever this happens. It usually means the referee was looking at the watch rather than at the play. Under the laws, no goal can be scored unless the ball has already fully entered the goal when the referee indicates the final whistle. The laws give the referee discretion to decide when time expires, but the referee's decision is absolute.

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

During an A-League match a while ago (what is now USL Div-1, I believe) I had awarded a CK just prior to half-time. The kicking team was taking their jolly good time about taking the kick even though I was attempting to get them to 'move it along'. This delay became so aggregious that I finally thought to myself, 'Well, if you're going to screw with me I'm going to screw with you'. I waited for them to take the kick and with the ball in mid-flight blew my whistle for half and, as I'm sure you can guess, the ball went to the far post and got blasted into the back of the net. To say the attacking team was livid is probably an understatement and I won't belabor the dynamics of the subsequent 'discussion' they wished to have with me. In the locker room a fellow referee and friend came in and with a smile on his face said 'Well, I have to say that I think you had more guts than brains on that one'. We all had a good laugh but also learned a very good lesson. In accordance with the LOTG? Sure. But is it really very wise? Probably not. As mentioned above by my colleague, either kill the play before the kick or allow it to resolve itself. Ending the game or the half with the ball in the air is within the LOTG but it's actually not good game management at all. Food for thought. All the best,

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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy

Tim, I have a vibrator on my watch. When time expires I blow my whistle. But I use a bit of common sense. I would wait till the end of the flight of the ball. Your referee did exactly what the law says but he failed to use common sense. In the 1978 World Cup Clive Thomas did what you describe and he was theoretically right but he never got another World Cup game. FIFA said, yep, you were right but you did not use common sense.

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