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Question Number: 28282

Law 7 - Match Duration 3/24/2014

RE: Varsity High School

Robert of Shelby, North Carolina USA asks...

At a game tonight was down 1-0 with 7 sec on the clock where the ref stop the clock due to a foul and injured player. Ref check player called for penalty kick . Ref started clock back our player kicked the ball with 4 sec on clock the kick scored goal with 2 sec on clock but clock ticked to 0:00 . No whistle was blown , the refs got together and took the goal back and we lost .It was very bad for our kids . Refs excuse was time had ran out before ball crossed into goal . Now remember , no whistle . What can be done about this ??

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Robert
I hate these last second type timings and it is unique to NFHS Games.
I am unsure from the question whether it was a penalty kick or a free kick? Now in the case of a penalty kick play shall be extended beyond the expiration of a period, in regulation time and overtime, to permit a penalty kick to be completed. So if the ball goes into the goal directly from a penalty kick the goal must stand even if time has expired.
Now if it was a free kick with 7 seconds on the time clock the clock starts again when the ball is kicked. Seven seconds is a 'lifetime' on one kick of the ball from 18/20 yards. The clock starts when the ball is kicked not when the whistle sounds so I don't really understand 4 secs and the 2 secs unless the ball was put into play which then runs the clock down.
As regards what can be done I would believe very little if anything positive. It is in the opinion of the referee that time had expired before the ball crossed the goal line in which case no goal can be awarded.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

It's not clear what happened or why.

Under NFHS rules, the clock does not automatically stop on a foul but only stops when the referee stops the clock for an injury. So, there can be a delay between foul and signal, and the clock might continue to run down after the foul. On a penalty kick, the clock stop automatically.

Moreover, the clock doesn't start again until the ball is put into play. The whistle to restart play does not start the clock. So, it isn't clear why the clock went from 7 seconds to four seconds.

Moreover, if this is a penalty kick (rather than a regular free kick), there is one additional rule. The match is extended on a penalty kick until the kick is 'completed' - - meaning that the original momentum of the kick has been completed. So, it the penalty kick went directly into the goal, it doesn't matter how long it took. (If a penalty kick rebounds off the keeper, and is touched again by the kicker, the kick is 'completed.' )

NFHS rules also provide that the match ends when time expires. The rules contemplate a stadium clock and horn, and for the offical timer to count down the last ten seconds to the nearest official. But, in many locations (including my own), official time is kept by one of the referees on the field. The referee does NOT count down time.

Time expires when the referee makes the decision that time has ended, not when the final whistle blows. But, the better practice is to decide and whistle simultaneously. That avoids the frustration described in your case.

If the referee 'started the clock' before the ball was put into play or ruled that time expried before a penalty kick was completed, the referee erred. Whether and how a protest can be lodged is something that is league dependent and usually left to the school's athletic director.

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