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Question Number: 28119

Law 7 - Match Duration 1/19/2014

RE: Under 16

Gary of Solihull, England asks...


Please could you shed some light on an incident that happened at our game today. The game has gone and I realise this .. but intrigue has gotten the better of me. This question I'm sure will be hard for you to answer as its clarity is shaded .
We are 3-2 down with the last kick of the game, a freekick in opps half .. the freekick is delivered into the 18 yard area. There's a meleE and the ball ends up in the back of the net. Ok the tricky bit. As the ball is crossing the line, the ref blows a short whistle to indicate the goal turns and points to the centre spot. (As the ball is still moving and crossing the line.) Our players turn and retreat to their half. Their side surround and confront the ref with their managers absolutely jumping down his throat. There is a 3 min debate, we kept our distance and non involvement. Their side starts celebrating. He disallowed the goal. He then claimed the short whistle was in fact to indicate the end of the game and not a goal at all. My overall question is, isn't the standard 3 long blasts of the whistle the signal for match end? Not a short whistle to indicate a goal, foul, offside, etc.? Very confusing and frustrating more so,

If you could shed some light it would be much appreciated.

Many many thanks.

Gary Jones

Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

There is no 'official' way to whistle the end of the match. You are correct, however, that three pips of the whistle is traditional. Most referees, however, also do not blow the whistle to indicate that a goal has been scored. So, it is not clear why the referee blew the whistle.

Only the referee can decide when time expired because the referee can add time for injuries, excessive substitutions, lost balls, etc.

But, the real question is whether the ball had already crossed the entire goal line when the referee blew the whistle (for any reason). Blowing the whistle stops play. If the ball has not already crossed the entire goal line, no goal can be scored even if the whistle was an accident. But, if the ball had already crossed the goal line before the whistle, it would be a valid goal regardless of the reason for the whistle.

Only the referee can tell you what happened and what was the final decision.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Gary
By custom a number of whistle pips is used to signal the end of the game. The Law only says that a whistle is used. The series of whistle blasts is done for the very reason that the question raises which is to leave players and team officials in no doubt that the game has ended, rather than a whistle for a foul, ball out of play, offside, etc.
Now the other part which is questionable here was whether the ball crossed the goal line before the whistle sounded. Again good practise is to either allow the flight of the ball to its conclusion on a corner kick or free kick rather than whistling the game dead with the ball in mid flight. It is better to end the game before the kick has been taken if time has fully expired rather than to allow the kick to proceed which creates a situation like this to develop.
Ultimately it is up to the referee to outline what happened. If he in fact ended the game with one blow of the whistle while the ball is in flight then the game is over and a goal cannot be scored. If he had been using the whistle on the 5 previous goals then he has created confusion by his action.
So what you describe here is poor mechanics by the referee and that led to this uncertainty. If it was handled better the referee could have saved himself the 3 minutes of debate and unpleasantness plus there would have been no doubt of what his decision was. The only debate then might be whether or not he allowed sufficient added time as the case may be and he can say that time was fully expired or not as the case may be.

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