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Question Number: 28851

Law 8 - Start and Restart of Play 10/14/2014

RE: Intermediate Under 12

Phil of Tarzana, CA United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 28842

Referee Dawson said that, if you catch the mistake during play, you could stop play, send the player off, & restart with an IFK. I could not find where the LOTG say that you start with an IFK. I would have thought that it would be a dropped ball, since the mistake was by the referee.

e.g. Assume Blue 10 should be sent off after committing a reckless foul & getting a 2nd caution. Red team takes a free kick, caught by Blue GK. It doesn't seem fair that the red team now gets a 2nd free kick (IFK) from inside the blue penalty area.

Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham


The issue is whether play was stopped 'for another reason' under law 8 (restart with a dropped ball) or for any other offense for which play is stopped to show a card under law 12 (restart with an IFK). My view has been that when play is stopped after advantage has been awarded, a dropped ball is appropriate. I am not aware of a definitive answer from FIFA or USSF. I think the majority view is an IFK.

In your example, where the mistake is discovered after the restart of play, I believe we have a definitive answer - dropped ball. This was the restart used after Zedane was sent off for the head butt in a past World Cup match, but the AR did not get the referee's attention until after the restart of play.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Phil
Interesting. The Law is mute on this point as it does expect it to happen. We know from the previous Q&As that even in the case of a referees mistake that if play has been stopped to deal with the mistake situation that the restart can be an IDFK in certain circumstances. That might seem harsh but that was FIFAs precedent decision in the 2006 Q&A decision 3.7.
One can also argue that a player who has received two cautions should be leaving the field of play anyway plus as play has been stopped to send off a player then the restart there would be an IDFK in the goal area
I think in reality that this will probably only be dealt with at a stoppage in which case the restart will not change with the one exception of a goal being scored by the team with the extra player. In that case it may have to be the IDFK from the goal.
I suspect that in a game situation, should it happen with play being stopped, that many referees will go with the dropped ball as that would be the more credible solution and restart.
Best to not let it happen in the first place. Prevention always better than cure.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Phil
First off a great question and astute observation.
You are correct!
I will no longer dispute that a drop ball does serve as an acceptable alternative given as you correctly point out the location of the INDFK could prove to be another scoring opportunity. Admittedly I was basing my decision on the premise that we are stopping play solely to send off an illegal player and play can not continue. Conveniently forgetting there was a restart of play this is not an advantage situation!

In fact if the AR raised the flag to talk to me to tell me there was an illegal player on the field it is the same as me stopping play if I suddenly realized it! The fact the referee witnessed the event and still restarted is worse than unknown knowledge passed on by the AR or 4th but all in all just poor refereeing sigh I have altered my answer in the previous question to acknowledge my mistake. I am a bit red in the face but grateful to be able to make an informed decision

In essence the opposing team is playing with an extra player. Showing the red card is like blowing the whistle, the signal comes 'after' we make a decision it is not the decision itself.
Law 9 defines how play stops: the ball leaves the field or the referee stops it!
Law 12, Indirect Free Kicks:
"- commits any other offense, not previously mentioned in Law 12, for which play is stopped to caution or dismiss a player, but forgetting to do so is not additional misconduct just bad refereeing sigh !
The law is crystal clear if a player receives two cautions he is to be sent off, so although the PLAYER knows it was a second caution, he is cheating by being an extra player on the field. Once a referee allowed the restart but failed to send off he can still stop play to send off as there is still 2 cautions issued but he can no longer award a free kick. Yes the referee had brain freeze but it is far too dangerous to allow play to continue knowing this player is NOT supposed to be there.

Zinedine Zidane was sent off for headbutting Italy's Marco Materazzi, however, this was not the original cause of the stoppage it was for the injury to Materazzi. The misconduct was made aware to the referee at the time of the stoppage this is according to FIFA. At issue there was a quick restart by France for a separate Italy foul after the head butt but before the injury stoppage.
Although play was halted, referee Horacio Elizondo did not appear to have seen the confrontation. According to match officials' reports, fourth official Luis Medina Cantalejo informed Elizondo of the incident through his headset after the stoppage. So the drop ball was correct for the injury . Italy gave the ball back to France
I had maintained an INDFK in favour of Italy could also have been correct as it is NEW information. yet it would seem I am incorrect sigh given there was a restart in-between the event and the discipline. If there was no restart in-between since it IS new information it would be correct to award a DFK at the time of the send off.
The concept of applying advantage and at some later point still awarding an INFK given there has been no restart but the foul is wiped away is still under scrutiny.

Apparently the additional information under the AR duties adds clarity to what was a muddled situation.
Whenever the assistant referee signals for violent conduct and the signal is not seen immediately:
if play has been stopped for disciplinary action to be taken, the restart must be in accordance with the Laws (free kick, penalty kick, etc.)

if play has ALREADY restarted, the referee may still take disciplinary action but not penalise the offence with a free kick or penalty kick

So a drop ball is the only course of action a referee has!
Would not be the first time I was in error ! Again great insight Phil! I agree with you a drop ball is the correct restart ! well spotted Thanks to you I am better informed


Not that it matters Phil but if you go to this internet address you will see why I might have thought otherwise earlier.
in their search parameters type in (natural stoppages) see the questions including the one below come up.

This is a quote from
March 11, 2008

In a very well-tempered match with 4 minutes remaining, an attacker dribbles around a tired and apparently frustrated defender (his team is losing 2-0). The defender, in a violent manner, deliberately kicks at but completely misses the unaware attacker, who has already sped by him with the ball.

The attacker is streaking into the Penalty Area with a perfect opportunity on goal, I holler "Advantage" and also immediately inform the defender that he will be dealt with at the next stoppage.

The attacker is rewarded with an outstanding scoring opportunity that is saved brilliantly by the keeper into the corner of the field.

I am now looking for any reasonable reason to stop play to send off the defender. However, after the ball rolls toward the corner play continues peacefully without even a hint of a foul, retaliation, or other issues. I stop play four minutes later to end the match, quietly remind the player of his earlier misconduct, he reluctantly nods in agreement, and is shown the red card.

The Laws of the Game support my decision, but many referees I have discussed the situation with have suggested I stop play after the advantage plays out (ball into corner of field) and then award an IFK to attackers after sending off the defender. How is the latter supported in Law or sense (it gives attackers two opportunities toward goal)? Are there any further alternatives other than stopping play immediately?

USSF answer (March 10, 2008):
You are, of course, perfectly within your right, under the Law, to send off the defender for attempting to kick his opponent, even after you have invoked the advantage clause. However, if you are going to punish this player off at all, whether with a sending-off or a caution, we would suggest doing it within the statutory 2-3 seconds after deciding to invoke the advantage, rather than waiting four minutes during which time the defender has committed no further acts of misconduct, which may have been a result of your comment that you would deal with him at the next stoppage. There is no need to wait for a so-called "natural stoppage" to do this; if the act must be punished, then stop play and do it.

That brings us to a second decision you must make, whether to stop the game and then reward the attacking team for an act that apparently had no true effect on the game. You should wait long enough to see whether or not the advantage has been properly applied in other words, the attacking team kept control of the ball, continued the attack, etc. Only then would we suggest stopping play, if necessary, and coming back to manage the situation with the defender. The extra benefit to this approach is that you can now bring the ball back and give the attackers an IFK for the misconduct (the foul having been wiped away by the advantage).

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