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Question Number: 29030

Character, Attitude and Control 12/5/2014

RE: rec Under 12

pete of floral park, ny usa asks...

hi refs,
when play is stopped by the ref for an injured player on the field while play is going on, i know a dropped ball is normally how play is restarted but sometimes i see one team kick it back to the other teams goalkeeper is this a decision by the ref or is there another reason for this.

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

It's known as a 'Fair Play' restart. The team decides that the fair thing to do is give the ball back to the team that had it so they can restart their attack.

The referee can influence that decision, but cannot force it.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Pete,

The Laws of the Game only state that play is restarted with a drop ball (unless the ball went out of play for another reason).

Often players will decide to take a 'sporting' action. If, for instance, the Blue team is in clear possession when play is stopped, then often the Red team will tell the Blue team they'll kick it back. So the Blue team won't contest the drop ball, and the Red team kicks it back. The referee has nothing to do with this, as he cannot control whether a drop ball is contested or not (though it the Red team clearly and deliberately deceive the blue team by promising to return it at the drop ball and they attack instead, this would be a cautionable offence due to the deception - although there have been cases where players haven't realised what their own teammates intended, which can cause problems and may not be cautionable if it's an innocent mixup).

Similarly, if the referee doesn't stop play but the Blue team is in possession then makes a clear and deliberate decision to kick it out so a Red player can receive attention, the Red team will often return the ball straight to the Blue team at the restart. Again, the referee has nothing to do with this, and cannot penalise the players if they don't do that (again, unless there's some sort of verbal deception involved).

Often spectators expect referees to enforce these 'sporting' restarts, but the referee cannot.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Pete,
If the injury is determined as 'serious' by the referee, and play is stopped solely to restart for the injury, it is a drop ball. I understand that when there is hard contact even a nip of the ankle, given the speed and weight in behind challenges, contact can hurt and can cause serious injury . I do not dispute that, having been on the giving and receiving end of bad tackles!

What creates controversy given the amount of diving, simulation and exaggerated rolling around, at times it seems ludicrous that a can of magic spray and the downed player is back in action no sign of a limp. The referee is at times loath to stop play believing the player is in fact not seriously hurt but milking the situation for a stoppage or just to slow up the match!

However, the teams themselves could take it upon themselves to kick the ball out of play! Possibly as a matter of respect and fair play to allow the downed player time to recover. Yet even that can be taken as a slight to the referee for him choosing not to stop play!
If the team with possession kicks the ball out of play, with their player being the one injured, it can be to use up time! Now the opposing team has the restart and it becomes a matter of concern whether they would return the ball (rather expected )or try to take the restart for themselves.
This is slightly different, if the team with ball possession kicked the ball out so an opponent can receive treatment then it is EXPECTED the team with the restart WILL return ball possession and some ugliness could follow if it is not!

The difference here is the restart is usually a throw in which is either tossed directly to the opponent's keeper or is tossed into a team mate who then kicks the ball down field to the opponents keeper. What HAS happened is in this FAIRPLAY ideal is that kick down field eludes the keeper into the goal then we have that same ideal where one team must let the other score uncontested to even things up!

Until a few years ago it was possible to score directly from a drop ball! Throughout the years there were a number of accidental goals that were scored from "uncontested" dropped balls, whereby the team was in fact trying to return the ball in the spirit of FAIR PLAY! This caused all kinds of conundrums for the referee as he has to allow the goal to stand for it was legally scored according to the LOTG. To set this transgression right the opposition COULD choose to allow the team taking the kick off to score uncontested to rebalance the game.

A drop ball restart is NOT a free kick!
The portion of the drop ball laws that prohibit a direct goal on the 1st touch does not prevent a player who upon gaining control of a drop ball, dribbles it, then scores! There is NO SECOND TOUCH violation on a drop ball unlike a free kick.

The ideal of FAIR PLAY and tradition being outside the LOTG but fully ingrained in the spirit of the match do at times present conundrums for referees.
The referee cannot decide who may or may not contest a dropped ball. It is not against the LOTG nor is it a foul or infringement for a player NOT to play the ball to the other team.

Now. there are creative solutions (a mental tool of sorts to arrive at a fair restart when the players themselves create issues). In a situation involving a drop ball the referee can drop the ball to whomever is at the drop site without having to wait until both teams are present. A singular drop to the keeper or a walkaway and drop if those near are wind milling away trying to kick in a group. A very clear tough stand on early participation if the ball is NOT permitted to hit the ground. We can apply a strict letter of law to the restart to maintain integrity if those involved have forsaken it!

It is remotely possible a referee could caution those who use verbal deception of words spoken before the restart that could create trouble, given a referee is empowered to caution a player who acts in a manner which shows a lack of respect for the game or verbally distracts an opponent during play or at a restart. But a failure to do what others think should be done here is not cautionable

Referees should not make "gentleman's agreements" with players. This is not labour relations, we do not bargain with players. Nor should we be deceived by anything they say or expect them to tell us what they want to do! Although it is not the referee's job to instruct players or coaches on tactics, we can make a strong suggestions and still be neutral in calling the match in accordance with the letter and spirit of the LOTG. If the team foolish enough to transgress an established barometer of fair play and try to sneak a fast one the dishonourable actions, disgust and reputation will be made known far and wide! Whether or not intervention by the referee for some made up stoppage could be used as a reason for a retake of the drop ball restart. I would think the new drop ball restart is likely to be angrily contested and fair play issues might be popping up throughout this match!

Although the keeper was not on board lol

good thing the ball did not go out of play first lol

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Answer provided by Referee MrRef

Hi Pete,
another aspect of how respect and integrity are part of the game! Here at the our panel members try to embody the ideals we speak of on and off the field. Now a referee may not be able to effectively deal with certain conduct given how the situations arise. The FA League itself and the management do at times get the importance of at least appearing to take a stand of ideals and offer more than lip service. My point here is the referee was unable to punish this action under the LOTG but the league itself undertook additional punishment because of the offensive nature of the u8njust action!

Here is the infamous Adriano incident which UEFA retrospectively punished the player with a ban for one game and one full day of community football service. This is what SD said
** We apologised and expressed deep disappointment over the incident, which occurred during a Champions League match with Nordsjaelland on 20 November 2012.
Shakhtar Donetsk strongly believe that fair play is a fundamental part of football. Our players fully understand that they are role models for Shakhtar's young fans and the entire football community as a whole, and such actions on their part are not acceptable**

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