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Question Number: 29143

Law 18 - Common Sense 1/28/2015

RE: Competitive Under 19

Amy Lloyd of Santa Cruz, California USofA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 25639

In one of a recent showcase tourney, during a full-pelt run down the left wing midfield in own half a player is challenged legally for the ball by opponents tracking at sprint speeds when a ball from an adjacent field arrives between these players. At no time, did any of these players get distracted in any way and they kept playing the correct ball. The referee had a clear side on view of the 'errant ball' arriving and decided to let play develop, when the assistant flagged vehemently, which was waved down after the sprinting trio kept going with the ball all the way down the wing that resulted in a cross into the opponent goal area. Was the referee correct to over-rule the assistant's flag? Should this have been a dropped ball instead? If so, why?

My ruling was based on: since it did not interfere with any players, there was no reason to interrupt game flow. One of the assessors/mentors at the field inquired, what if the situation had developed inside the attacking half and that resulted in a goal? My reasoning was if no one is distracted ***and*** the correct ball is played, then I will not stop play. It was a players showcase after all. Am I risking leniency in promoting game-flow at the expense of applying the laws?

Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy


At the end of Laws of the Game, there is advice to referees under the heading Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees. Under Powers and dutiesyour situation is covered. The referee should stop the game only if it interferes with play.
Here, the correct decision was made. The mentor should have complimented you on it and not make you feel bad.
My instructions to A/Rs is that if I am clearly looking at a play I do not want you to signal. Well, the A/R missed that part here. Waving madly is not wise either.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

I both enjoy and approve of your assessment, style and explanation. The referee waving off an exuberant AR that failed to realize interference is not the ball entering the FOP but how the incident affected play? If the referee concludes there was no interruption then it was correct to allow play to continue. If there WAS interference and it caused players confusion and panic I am sure the referee would shut them down to deal with it. It sounds as if the AR was only one interfered with and in fact created additional interference by, giving to much attention to the errant ball, waving flags like in a wind storm, instead of watching the game ball , the players and the continuation of developing play. This needs a talk about in post game!

Spot on Amy!

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Amy,

Thanks for your question.

The short answer is - your decision was correct, and your reasoning was spot on!

The LOTG says:

If an extra ball, other object or animal enters the fi eld of play during the match, the referee must stop the match only if it interferes with play (p71, The Referee, Additional Instructions)

So that's the referee's judgement over whether play is stopped. If you, the referee, believe there's no interference, then don't stop play!

Your AR seems to have conducted the mistake of 'insisting, not assisting'. If the referee can clearly see what's happened, then the AR shouldn't be waving the flag - the AR is there to assist if the referee has missed something. The AR needs to respect the referee's authority here. Waving the flag down is the correct decision.

The assessor's question is bizarre; the correct answer to the question is 'it would be a goal!' - his question seems to be based on a lack of knowledge of the laws, unfortunately. It doesn't matter if it's in the attacking half, if a goal develops, or anything like that. Was play interfered with? That's the only thing that matters here.

Your approach was 100% correct! Well done!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

The main issue I have here is the ARs involvement with the flag. The AR should NOT be flagging for this as the referee can quite clearly see that a ball has entered the field of play close to play and the referee can decide not the AR. No need for a flag. ARs should only be raising a flag for the unseen and that should be outlined the pre match discussion. If the two players were closer together would the CR think that the AR flagging for a foul?
Now the next part is whether the ball interfered with play. Older referees will recall that this was at one time a stop the game incident and a dropped ball restart from where play was stopped. And at that time it was used illegally by teams in an unsporting manner. Not possible any longer. So the referee now decides * the referee must stop the match only if it interferes with play*
No interference so there is no need to stop play. The flagging AR has interfered more IMO than the ball as if a player stopped then it places the CR in a very difficult position.

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