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Question Number: 28734

Law 7 - Match Duration 9/15/2014

RE: Select Under 13

Don Treply of Stone Park, IL United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 28697

Thanks for replying. I will say, however, that my feelings are irrelevant to the question at hand. I'm really just looking to learn here.

No. 2 seems clear enough to me from your answers--that the center ref has all the authority required to overrule in this instance.

No. 1 goes to Law VII of FIFA's Laws of the Game in which the phrase 'two equal periods' is used. USSF says the same thing, and the tournament rules didn't address the issue at all. I understand that in tournament play (really, all play), one moves on. I also understand from your answers that there is no concept in soccer of 'correctable errors,' as there is in basketball.

But in theory, what should a referee do when, before the second period begins, he realizes that a mistake was made in the first period? Should the second half be played at 30 minutes, meeting the FIFA statement that two equal periods be played? Or should the second half be at 25 minutes in keeping with the tournament rules? Should he inform the coaches of the timekeeping error and how it will be handled?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Don
Apologies for not being clearer in the original answer when I said that thankfully the referee here did not compound the error by reducing time in the 2nd half.
In the FIFA Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees under Law 7 its is written and I quote
'' The referee must not compensate for a timekeeping error during the first half by increasing or reducing the length of the second half.''
In the former FIFA Questions and Answer last published in 2006 Section 7.4, which BTW was replaced by the current Interpretation and Guidelines section, had the following one word answer
'' Can the referee compensate an error in the timekeeping during the first half, adding or subtracting time in the second half?
So if the halves are 25 minutes and the referee played 30 minutes in the first half in error then all that he can do is play 25 minutes in the 2nd half and inform the competition organisers of his error which is what the referee did in this case. I'm assuming it was reported
Anyway players got to play 55 minutes of soccer instead of 50. When Mums and Dads were calling to us kids to end the game on the street at night we always pleaded for another 5 minutes, winning or losing. LOL

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Don,
Thanks for the feedback it is always good to hear back to reaffirm or explain in greater detail items which remain unclear. I was initially under the impression the referee had claimed to have added the 5 minutes as a result of an injury not a watch or timing error.

To bad there were no ARs who could have drawn attention to the fact the match was running long. Communication, eye contact after EVERY stoppage and a simple point to the watch by the AR mouthing the words 'times up' could keep a mistake from occurring. The referee should always signal to the ARs how much time is left and whether he is adding additional time. As I often state to new ARS, you have offside as Number 1 priority but number 2 priority is DO NOT LET ME SCREW UP!

There is no doubt that if the halves were to be 2 X 25 and the first was 30 by accident. The referee has no option but to play the 2nd as 25 and report to the competition authorities the mistake . If it was apparent it might be best to report the error immediately at the end of the first. While the referee CAN NOT FIX the error, those in charge might very well decide to overrule the goal or increase the 2nd half to 30 as a quick solution to a bad situation.

As I mentioned tournaments are notorious for not being able to go back and rectify errors to any great degree unless it was a state or provincial or national one, drawn over a longer period of time then a fun weekend!

As a further reminder to others who might review this answer!

'' Can the referee compensate an error in the timekeeping during the first half, adding or subtracting time in the second half?

The referee provides the appropriate authorities with a match report, which includes information on any disciplinary action taken against players and/or team officials and ANY OTHER INCIDENTS that occurred before, during or after the match

The assistant referees also assist the referee in controlling the match in accordance with the Laws of the Game

Subject to the agreement of the member association concerned and provided the principles of these Laws are maintained, the LAWS MAY BE MODIFIED in their application for matches for players of under 16 years of age, for women footballers, for veteran footballers (over 35 years of age) and for players with disabilities.

Any or all of the following modifications are permissible: size of the field of play size, weight and material of the ball width between the goalposts and height of the crossbar from the ground DURATION OF THE PERIODS OF PLAY substitutions

Periods of play
The match lasts two EQUAL periods of 45 minutes, unless otherwise mutually agreed between the referee and the two teams. Any agreement to alter the duration of the periods of play (e.g. to reduce each half to 40 minutes because of insufficient light) must be made before the start of play and MUST COMPLY WITH COMPETITION RULE.

Half-time interval
Players are entitled to an interval at half-time. The half-time interval must not exceed 15 minutes. Competition rules must state the duration of the half-time interval. The duration of the half-time interval may be altered only with the consent of the referee.

Allowance for time lost
Allowance is made in either period for all time lost through: substitutions assessment of injury to players removal of injured players from the field of play for treatment wasting time any other cause
The allowance for time lost is at the discretion of the referee'

Allowance for time lost
Many stoppages in play are entirely natural (e.g. throw-ins, goal kicks). An allowance is to be made only when these delays are excessive.

The fourth official indicates the minimum additional time decided by the referee at the end of the final minute of each period of play.

The announcement of the additional time does not indicate the exact amount of time left in the match. The time may be increased if the referee considers it appropriate but never reduced.

The referee must not compensate for a timekeeping error during the first half by increasing or reducing the length of the second half.'


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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

There is a clear fix when the referee stops the first half early. The referee calls the teams back to the field and restarts the first half. The first half is properly completed and a new half time is taken. The second half is then completed.

It isn't as easy when the first half is longer than it should have been. The referee has committed an unfixable error. What is clear, however, is that the second half is played for the correct amount of time; FIFA has explained that cannot be shortened or lengthened because of the error in the first half. The referee must report the error, and the league can address what to do about goals scored in the improperly extended first half.

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