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Question Number: 29074

Law 18 - Common Sense 12/27/2014

RE: Any Other

Daniel of Jupiter, Florida USA asks...

What is the difference between drop ball, and FairPlay. when is which used and why?


Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

The difference, as far as the Laws of the Game are concerned, is that one exists and one doesn't.

A drop ball is how play is restarted when play is stopped for reasons not elsewhere mentioned in the laws. Most commonly, it's when play is stopped due to a serious injury. The laws of the game make no restrictions on how many players can attend the drop ball. It can occur with no players around, it can occur with 22. The referee has no power to control the number of players involved.

Once the ball touches the ground, it's in play. What the players then do with the ball is completely up to them. There is nothing in the laws that every requires a referee to enforce a 'sporting' restart (ie a Fair Play restart).

However, often players will say to the referee and opponent 'I'll just kick it back to them' and the opponent stands back so he can return the ball. This is a decision a team makes in the interest of sportsmanship - usually if the play is stopped when clearly in possession of one team. If the players don't decide to do this of their own accord, the referee can't enforce it. If the players promise to deliver a sporting restart but then don't (ie say they'll pass it back, but build an attack instead), this is misconduct and is a yellow card offence. Not because they didn't do a Fair Play restart, but because of the verbal deception.

Same when the ball has gone out and the team throws it straight to the other team. If they don't do it, it's not the referee's concern - unless they've acted in a misleading fashion but promising they would, then not doing so.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi David
If, while the ball is still in play, the referee is required to stop play temporarily for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game, the match is restarted with a dropped ball. There is a procedure set down in the Laws for that restart. Now what has developed over the years is that a team in the interest of Fair Play decides not to contest the dropped ball restart or it decides that it will give the ball back to the opponents from the dropped ball. It is of no concern to the referee if the DB is contested or not and he should only be concerned that it is done in a sporting manner without the opponents being misled. Other types of Fair Play restarts include the ball being thrown back to the opponents from a throw in when the ball has kicked out of play to stop the game or in some very rare situations where a free kick or penalty kick is given up.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Dan,
A simple explanation a drop ball is a restart Fair Play is the way the teams could choose to take it !
A drop ball is simply a restart method for various contingencies on the field of play where indfk or dfk or a throw in is not possible.

Fair Play is an ideal where those playing do the right thing for the right reasons as a matter of conscience, honour and integrity.

Now often on a drop ball restart one team or the other has a choice in what they might do upon the restart. The same holds true on throw ins where one team might chose to knock it out of respect for an injured opponent or offer to return it given the one team had or DESERVES possession prior to the fair play stoppage.

As mentioned a drop ball has few conditions other than it hit the ground so it can be the players decision to choose a way to reconvene play in a fair manner.

It was only recently that a GOAL can no longer be scored on a direct kick off a drop ball restart! BECAUSE believe it or not teams that were ACTUALLY trying to give the ball back to the opposition as a choice to play fair scored goals that were in fact accidental but by the LOTG legal. This lead to some weird compensation attempts such as not choosing to defend on the kick off restart so the team scored upon could dribble the ball into the opposing goal to make up for the accidentally scored goal moments earlier. It also lead to some fights replays and general confusion at times.

FIFA offers up some well meaning programs! Respect! Fair Play Stamp out Racism. Actions that are contrary to the FIFA's fair play code which states: 'Winning is without value if victory has been achieved unfairly or dishonestly. A general sentiment of gentlemanly conduct from knights of old when doing battle!

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