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Question Number: 29019

Law 7 - Match Duration 11/30/2014

RE: Club Under 16

Roy Gomes of Woburn , Mads USA asks...

Tournament game - ref calls a free kick about 20 yes out - my player asks for 10 yes the ref paces off the 10 and the steps to the side and calls the game over before we can shoot. He didn't even blow the whistle to resume play just to end it?? Shouldn't he gave allowed the free kick to be taken. Especially since he stopped play to give 10?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Roy,
If the match is over it is over! It is as unfair to extend as it is to shorten. Perhaps he was unaware of time being over, then goes oh crap time is up and chose to react in an obtuse manner? A referee must signal the end of the match? That said, why a referee would intervene in such a way is a mystery to me!

Play was stopped to award the free kick. Having to ask the referee to intercede and set a wall takes it out of a quick kick mode, to a ceremonial restart. Now the LOTG allow the referee to be a bit flexible with adding time for certain things, however, the LOTG only allow for a PK to be completed if time concludes, not a free kick. The opponents by law must withdraw ten.

I hold if the referee is allowing the free kick and then by getting involved turns it into a ceremonial ! Now in my opinion, as long as the team taking the free kick did not dawdle, I blow to restart and would expect an immediate kick if time is on the last few ticks. I doubt I would bother to set a wall then end the match. I either end it right there or allow the kick to be taken with a eye on the time divergence of a one time scoring opportunity or if the ball came to be to be glued on the attacking foot until a score resulted. As I said it is as unfair to extend beyond as it is to cut short match time! Sometimes though a match ends in creative circumstances. A wise referee, however,tries not to get caught as a deer in the head lights.

Generally I make the team aware we are close to match end as a courtesy! To facilitate subs etc.. so those teams on a free kick in the last few seconds know they better hurry to get it away. I have ended matches on a foul and on a corner kick due to time running out ! If the team with the FK is simply dragging its feet not making a concerted effort to get the ball into play quickly, then it leads me not to go past the final tick at all! I also suggest if you allow a goal at the buzzer, assuming you are not on a clock/signal horn match as in USA high school, you allow a kick off to facilitate the idea there was still a bit of time before ending the match.


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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Roy,

The Laws don't make any requirement to extend the match for a free kick. The only thing time is extended for is a penalty kick. However, the referee does have discretion to determine what stoppages are included in stoppage time. Generally free kicks aren't.

What that means is that there is generally a bit of imprecision in determining how much stoppage time is added onto a match - which is how referees get away with the 'typical' practice of letting the last kick/attack play out. But the laws don't require the kick to take place.

I've refereed in leagues with strict instructions to play zero stoppage time (due to tight scheduling). That's pretty black and white - no matter what's happening, no stoppage time (unless the laws require the Penalty Kick to be taken). If I find myself in a similar situation to above, I'll do everything I can to get the kick moving quickly.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Roy
It depends on the timing method used by the referee and perhaps the competition rules. Some referees use a countdown timer with a buzzer and then when the time expires the referee stops the game no matter where the ball is or what is happening in the game. I think this also tends to be a US thing with other sports or codes have a strict timing countdown regime at the end of games which can creep across into soccer. Also some competition rules have a strict timing rule which states that when the time is reached there is no discretion for adding on any time. If its 40 minutes its 40 minutes and that question was asked recently also where the strict rule was not enforced.
If I was doing the game I would find the few seconds needed to see out the kick. That is due to the fact that I like many referees do not use a timing method that does not offer some discretion such as adding on the few seconds in setting up a wall in a ceremonial free kick.
Now having said all that the referee is the sole timekeeper and if he indicates that time had fully expired then that is that. So there was no onus on the referee to see the kick out in this situation. I tell team not to rely on the referee at the end of the game to find time. The team has 80/90 minutes or whatever to use so why focus on the last seconds which is at someone elses discretion .

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Answer provided by Referee James Sowa


As my colleagues above have pointed out, there are several things to consider including the method of timing. Since you indicate that this was a club game, I don't believe it falls under the hard finish on college and high school games. Saying that, I feel your scenario is a good candidate for Law 18 (Common Sense). If the referee is blowing time right at 40 minutes, then he or she is taking a very literal interpretation to the length of halfs. If one looks hard enough, there is always a few seconds floating around that the referee can add on. That said, in your scenario, technically the referee did nothing wrong and as Referee McHugh points out, the players had 80+ minutes to already score.

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