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Question Number: 28948

Law 7 - Match Duration 11/6/2014

RE: High School

Ramon Janeiro of wilmington, delaware usa asks...

Why are referees taking over games and why do they have so much power to stop a game over and over? (high school and college) Some referees are making games very hard to watch by stopping the game on every play and giving the loosing team a huge advantage in the last minutes of a match? Referees need to have an understanding of what is happening in a game, an not stop the clock every time the ball goes out of bounds, justifying that the winning team is wasting time (it is the job of the loosing team to try to keep the ball in play); when a player goes down and stays down, justifying that he is trying to protect the player that is down (his team is loosing so he needs to get up and try to help his team score); stopping to give a caution to a player on the loosing team for protesting, justifying that he has to write it down, giving the loosing team a huge advantage by stopping the clock and not restarting until the ball gets played. This is something that is happening over and over in very competitive games and playoffs and the referees are stating that they are just applying the rules of the game. Where in the rules of the game does it say that it is the referees job to make the last ten minutes of a game into twenty five minutes? Who has change the rules of the game and giving so much power to referees that can benefit the loosing team over and over? Why have some referees chosen to misinterpret the rules? If players are ask for fair play, why aren't referees instructed in fair referring?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ramon
Games are played according to the rules and the laws. Now we all know that there are games where players stretch the rules / laws to the limit through using up time. Referees do their best to ensure fair play on timing and to enforce the rules / laws as written. There are times when the ball goes out of play that are just part of the game and time is not added on or stopped for such incidents. There are other times when the game clock is stopped such as for an injury, for a penalty kick, for cautioning (yellow card), for disqualifications (red card), following the scoring of a goal and when a referee orders the clock be stopped. There can be times as well that the winning team is not playing the game in the spirit in which it is intended through kicking the ball away aimlessly in that it uses up time to recover the ball. Teams should not benefit from that behaviour either and the time can and should be accounted for.
A point I always make is that the game continues until the referee sounds the final whistle. However long that may take depends on the rules / laws and the application of same plus the playing behaviour of the teams. If the winning team wants to run down the clock with certainty then it should do so in a way that it is under their control by keeping the ball in play. The clock then cannot be stopped.
I can assure you that whatever side of the score you are on will decide your attitude to timing. Losing sides want every second added on while winning sides do not.
There are more questions asked on the site from losing sides complaining about the game being ended without the time being added on than the other way round.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The clock is treated differently under high school (NFHS) rules than under the laws of the game. The high school rules require the clock be stopped at specific times, including injuries and cautions. The rules also give the referee the power to stop the clock for other reasons, such as deliberate tactics to waste time by a team in the lead. But, the referee has no discretionary power to add time as under the laws of the game.

College rules (NCAA) recently were changed to deal with one issue you raise: where a player on the team that is behind deliberately gets a caution in the last five minutes of the match in order to stop the clock. Under the NCAA rules, the referee has discretion not to stop the clock in that situation. If the college experience proves useful, that is a rule change that may migrate to NFHS.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

The referees should not be doing what you describe.

There are two rules that cover the delays that you are describing. One is Rule 4-1-6 which indicates that when a team repeatedly substitutes to consume time, a referee shall order the timer to stop the clock during the substitution. The coach of the offending team is to be warned and cautioned upon repetition.

The other rule is Rule 12-8-1f- which indicates that it is a misconduct (caution) for unnecessary delays (kicking or throwing the ball away on a free kick, etc.). Thus, if the clock is being stopped in the last minutes, the referee should be cautioning or warning a player or coach. However, what you are describing seems to be the acts of referees who do not want the winning team to get a advantage by having the clock run during a stoppage, which, of course, should not be occurring, because the clock is to be running during a high school game. Unfortunately, Rule 7-4-1 gives the referee the authority to stop the clock when he/she deem it necessary. In your situations, the referees apparently feel that it is necessary, even though the rules of the game do not mandate or encourage it.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hey Ramon,
we sound a tad frustrated here!

Those winning want the clock to run non stop, those losing want every second to last a minute in hope of catching an equalizer. It is as unfair to defend longer as it is to cut short an attack yet when the horn sounds the match is over for all to hear!

Given your astute observations, you should include a detailed letter to your local league representatives pointing out the issues as you see them. Be tactful and use emotion to set a stage of reasoned passion not yell at them they are wrong! As my colleague Ref Wickham sagely advises, the recent caution/stoppage situation you dislike is indeed under review.

Soccer as a game of fun with no competitive outcome might indeed not require a referee to mediate the play.

In competition, be it at the grassroots, school versus school, house league or town versus town travel, or as it escalates into upper tier and professional status someone is required to officiate and settle the differences likely to arise in even a friendly completion. The LOTG are standard across the world to some degree. In the USA (NFHS) (NCAA)the educational aspect of sports looks at youth and their participation far differently than FIFA! There is much overlap in terms of the concepts of fair play and respect but a far greater degree of safety and accountability lies within the mandate of school soccer where the field is basically an extension of the classroom!

The referee does not make up the LOTG or ROC (rules of competition) A referee is obligated to apply effort and study these Laws and Rules so that he understands and applies them legally and impartially. Each official is a match condition much like the weather, (sun or rain) or the pitch condition,( dry or slippery) in who knows how good his angle of view will be and his ability to select the correct restart for any given situation? What level of foul recognition, his situational awareness, his fitness? His journey as a referee is a learning cure of experience and where he might be on that curve, reflects many things, The best you can hope for is the referee with integrity, sees what he sees and applies what he knows, equally so the two teams can have consistency above helter skelter random decisions. No reason to stop play at every outage? It maybe the official is trying to make up for the fact he has no authority to add time given the clock overrides that FIFA only aspect! Placing undue emphasis on continuing time rather than continuing normal play! o

Referees are no different than players in whether they have a good game or bad game! A player misses a sitter for goal, a referee misses a shirt pull on the left because he was looking right and the shot for goal misses. In both cases no goal but only the referee gets faulted and abused for the miss as having an outcome on the game!.

A wise referee can bend the LOTG using the spirit of the law but unfortunately must stay within the guidelines those in authority hold him accountable for! High school uses a clock which is on display and as such it stops and starts according to the ROC not just at referees' whim. A referee with situational awareness and armed with the LOTG knowledge must manage crisis situations effectively to promote fair play and allow the players to play soccer not waste time or stop the clock


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