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Question Number: 25110

Law 9 - The Ball in and out of Play 6/19/2011

RE: Competitive tournament Under 18

Steve M. Marquez of La Mirada, CA USA asks...

In a pool play match, both teams are advancing to the next round. It is a tie match so far and both teams are comfortable if it should end with that outcome. GK has possession (with her feet) of live ball, dribbles to top of PA and stands there. Doing nothing with the ball at her feet. Attackers also just stand 20 yards away and do nothing. As mentioned before both teams are OK with tie.
Match remained this way for several minutes before referee yelled to all players to play.

What actions, if any, does a referee have in a live ball situation like this ?

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

The ref has absolutely no authority to make players play in any particular manner, as long as the ball is in play.

There was a game in a girls tournament, perhaps a state cup, a couple years ago. Both teams would advance with a one-goal win by one of the teams, and they were content to let the game score be that. They simply stopped playing, listlessly kicking the ball about, much to the disapproval of the 3rd place team watching from the sidelines (who would advance with a different result). The teams themselves claimed they were merely conserving their energy in the hot weather, for the upcoming finals games.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steve
This is of no concern to the referee and he simply allows play to continue. He should not be intervening in the matter. Clearly both teams did not respect the FIFA Fair Play Code of which the 2nd article states ''Play to win but accept defeat with dignity''
It is alleged that this happened in the Ireland V Holland game in the World Cup in 1990. The players on the pitch were made aware that England also in the group were leading in their match against Egypt. If both matches ended as they were the three European teams would go through at the expense of Egypt. If either Ireland or Holland lost then the loser would be heading home from Italia 90. It was in both team's interest not to risk losing. While there has never been any hard evidence to prove it, it appeared at the time that both teams colluded not to threaten each other's goal with the teams taking turns to play passing non-attacking passages of play until the final whistle. The referee, correctly, did nothing other than watch play.
So it happens yet the purpose behind the decision is a matter for the teams which can be conserving energy, seeking the result that it desires for advancement without risking a loss by trying to win, both of which is of no concern to the referee.
We see countless teams play for a draw by 'parking the bus' in front of goal. Indeed Egypt in that Italia 90 tournament played 11 defenders against Ireland and it ended 0-0 much to the frustration of everyone watching except the Egyptians.

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