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Question Number: 24333

Law 7 - Match Duration 11/15/2010

RE: Select Under 12

Petra of Chilliwack, Canada asks...

Is it true that when one team has a breakaway in the last second of the game, the referee has to let that player try and score a goal, thus giving the game a few extra seconds? I have never heard of that rule before and have played soccer most of my life but a couple of parents of my child's soccer team insisted our player should have been given the chance to score a goal before the ref blew the whistle to end the game.

Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The short answer is no: there is no such rule.

The longer answer involves two competing notions, which can be confusing to players and spectators: The first is that the referee must add for time lost due to injuries, unusual delays, etc. This often results in a match that is longer than the time stated in the schedules. The second is that the referee is the sole judge of how much time to add. The laws of the game are simple: when the referee decides that time has expired, the match is over. .

Many referees will not blow the final whistle when there is an imminent chance of a goal. Few things are as controversial as disallowing a goal because the ball entered the goal 1/2 second after the final whistle blew. They wait and see. Conversely, some referees decide shortly before the end of regulation time to add a precise increments of time (e.g., 90 seconds) and then blow the whistle when the clock strikes without regard to what is happening. Both approaches to time are permitted under the laws, but each reflect a different notion of time and the role of the referee.

I prefer to add 'at least' a minute, looking for a moment somewhere after one minute to end the match when neither side has an imminent chance of attack. For me, the referee is not a chronometer. I watch the players, not the watch. I don't care which team has a chance to score, and that IMO is neutral. Added time is flexible.

For other referees, whose view I also respect, neutrality means the referee ignores the circumstances of the match and blows the final whistle when the predetermined increment of added time elapses. Added time is rigid.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petra
No there is no such rule or Law.
The referee is the sole timekeeper in the game and he/she can add on time for injuries, stoppages etc. which then leaves some discretion of a number of seconds at the end of a game.
Over the last number of years I have noticed three types of timekeeping. One is where the referee has a 'referee' watch and he/she stops the watch for stoppages that are not part of the normal play. These stoppages include injuries, substitutions, time wastage etc. When the watch reaches zero the referee ends the game no matter where play is or what is happening in the game.
The other time keeping method is where the referee plays regulation times and then adds on his guesstimate based on the numbers of subs, injuries, time wasting by using a rough formula of so many seconds for each. That referee knows that his calculations can find/lose say 10 seconds and end the game in a appropiate location rather in the middle of a goal scoring opportunity. The third referee uses a combination of both with the watch being stopped for injuries only.
The important point is that play ends when the referee says so and teams have to accept that decision. I would tell the teams that they have 30 minutes to score/win the game. They should not be depending on the discretion of the referee after 30 minutes has elapsed.

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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy

Petra, it is NOT true. Here is what I do and this is as precise as it gets. I start the game by pressing TIMER which is set for the duration of the half. So if it is a 45 in half, it starts counting down from 45:00. I also press chrono on my other watch. Now if there is anything that I have to stop time for, I stop the TIMER and I start it when appropriate. This way my TIMER has the exact PLAYING time left in the match. Now the chrono keeps on ticking and it tells me how much time has elapsed from the start of the game. When the chrono reaches 45 minutes I look at my TIMER and quickly see how much 'added' or 'injury' time is remaining.
In my games, when the TIMER goes off, which actually vibrates against my wrist, an unmistakable sensation and it is conveyed to me in total privacy, I end the game. This could happen while a corner kick is being set up, an attack is being mounted or a free kick is being set up on the edge of the penalty area. Game over!
Now Petra, let's use a bit of common sense. Let's say a ball is on its way to the goal and I feel the vibrator against my wrist. Obviously I am going to see where the ball is going to end up at. Then I blow my whistle. We are talking a second or two.
But no matter how the ref does it, it is the referee's decision when the game is over.

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