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Question Number: 29020

Law 7 - Match Duration 12/1/2014

RE: rec Under 13

pete of floral park, ny usa asks...

Hi refs,
I was at a u13 girls tournament the weekend watching a game red team were winning 2-1 with 4 minutes remaining whenever they got possesion the player
ran to the corner flag to waste time
encouraged by their coach,this happened
3 times in those last 4 minutes to be
honest i was disgusted by this due to
the chances of a player getting injured
are very high,and the fact that it just took the spirit out of the game even the
ref was shaking his head, i know this
behavior is within the laws of the game
at all levels but i think something needs
to be changed to stop this time wasting
maneuver, if a goalkeeper holds the ball
for more than 6 seconds he can get a yellow card why is this any different after all it is time wasting, would like your input on this, thanks.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Pete
I agree with your sentiments and unfortunately it has been copied from the Pro game where winning is so very important and at all costs.
Personally I adopt zero tolerance on any contact in these types of situations. If the player uses an arm it is an immediate free kick. I have also seen situations where a second player impedes an opponents progress towards the ball which is also a free kick.
As regards the behaviour itself it is nigh impossible to rule against it as the ball is on the field of play, it is in play to be challenged for and shielding is part of the game. I believe many referees try their upmost to ensure that there is no risk posed and call the free kick at the slightest hint of a foul. Referees also ensure that if there is a build up of frustration that they do their best to head that off before it ends in violent conduct or serious foul play.
I would also point out that players can go around the opponent off the field of play to challenge for the ball but many chose not to but instead add to the problem by either only challenging from one side or not committing enough players in the first place.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Pete,
unfortunately the legal use of USING up time is viewed differently than wasting time. As the ball is in play and can be legally shielded all the referee can do is watch for the charging, pushing, holding etc.. that accompanies these forays in to the corner.

Tactically it is done to use up time and often draws a foul for as often as against or a corner or a throw in, all which eat up time. As a coach to defend against it, you commit more players into the corner to win it back, sort of surrounding the lone guy and cutting off any chance of a pass. Try to win the ball by crowding the player out from different directions without fouling him as the player wants a foul or a corner kick or a throw in in their favour but even if they give it up, a few more USED UP seconds will tick away!

The keepers' 6 seconds of possession, the ball is not accessible to the opposition, so there is no real comparison here. He gives up an indfk should he choose to hang on to it for too long. Thus punished for not making the ball available for play by WASTING time! Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

I had a conversation on this very topic this weekend with two very well regarded assessors. Even at the highest levels, the likely response to a player who is lawfully using up time is violence and the likely response of the player who gets kicked or pushed is more violence.

Moreover, if the first use of this tactic results in a corner kick, the likelihood of using violence on the second try is even higher. Simply waiting for the violence is less than an optimal response by the proactive referee. But, this presents a difficult challenge, even at the highest levels of the game.

At what point does keeping the players 'safe' outweigh keeping the game 'fair' by allowing a lawful tactic which everyone can escalate into a foul and possible injury to the player who is using this tactic.

Some referees call an early foul against the ATTACKING team player when the ball is tucked in the corner and three or more gather. To protect himself or herself, the attacker usually starts extending the arms (sometimes in a threatening manner), and this can justify a 'holding' or 'attempting to strike foul.' But, it really is the equivalent of a boxing referee ordering the players to 'break.' The parties separate, and the defense wins a free kick deep in their own defense.

Is it fair? Perhaps not. Is it better than a bloody nose? Probably is.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Pete,

I understand your frustration, particularly when 'play to win' tactics are incorporated to the detriment of the game at such a young age.

The reason this is viewed differently to the keeper is that while the keeper is holding the ball he cannot be challenged. But while the ball is in the corner, the player can be challenged. He's making it difficult to be challenged, but he can be challenged.

Of course, the danger is that the player trying to get the ball risks committing a foul by pushing in the back as he tries to reach the ball, or kicking in the back of the leg.

As no laws are being broken there's not much the referee can do, except keep a very close eye on fouls (and he should be getting pretty close to the action).

One thing a lot of people don't realise - the Laws of the Game permit players to briefly leave the field as part of play. It's perfectly legal for a player to briefly leave the field to run around the player and approach him from the front (though I can almost guarantee the players and parents will all be shouting 'he can't do that!').

The reason you don't see this happen at older levels to the extent you described is that players gain the experience to learn how to win the ball in these situations. Lacking that experience, if a player approaches from each side, at right angles to the player, there's almost no way he could keep the ball without illegally using his arms. So there are a few ways to ensure this sort of tactic doesn't see much benefit. Then your team has won the ball in the attacking part of the field.

So I actually think it's a really poor tactic - not because it makes for a bad game, but because it's too risky. Lose the ball, and you've lost it close to your own goal. The opponents could also reach around to kick it into that player's legs to try to win a corner.

This is why older players rarely use this tactic in the corner unless they have another immediate plan - usually to backheel it so the ball bounces off the opponent's shin and goes out, or try try and tap the ball past and run.

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