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Question Number: 29362

Law 3 - Number of Players 4/26/2015

RE: Competitive Under 14

Amber of Centennial, CO Usa asks...

A goalie kicks a goal kick and injured her toe in the process. Simultaneously the ball travels outside 18 td box to opposing team and goalie falls down. Opposing team member dribbles and passes to team mate in front of open goal. The referee blows the whistle, taking away the advantage and giving goalie another goal kick.
Is this the right call?

Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The referee should stop play if there has been a serious injury. In youth play, safety of the children is more important than winning.

But, an injured toe does not sound like a serious injury. If there had been a blow to the head or chest, the referee would have my full support for a decision to stop play regardless of the effect on the opponent's ability to score. But, your description does not sound like a serious injury. If the reason the referee stopped play was because the referee thought it unfair because the keeper had fallen down, I believe that decision would be unwise.

That said, only the referee on the field can determine what injury is serious enough to warrant stopping play. The laws of the game grant wide discretion to the referee in the belief that the referee will use the discretion wisely.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Amber,

As Ref Wickham states, the referee should only stop play immediately for a serious injury - and in youth football, the referee should generally be more likely to stop play than at older ages. 'Serious' is subjective; even a severe cramp can lead to a player screaming in pain, and if it looks like the player is in a lot of pain then again, the referee will take the age into consideration in deciding whether it warrants stopping play.
Some referee will stop play immediately virtually every time at this age; I don't believe that's the correct approach.
Some referee argue that because the laws state the team must have a keeper, that the moment the keeper goes down apparently injured, play should be stopped. I believe this is a misinterpretation; the team still has a keeper, and if the law were applied this way then keepers will abuse it. Fortunately, very few referees I know of support that incorrect interpretation.

In short, unless the keeper appeared seriously injured and/or in severe pain, play should continue. It's unfair to the attacking team to lose their opportunity just because the keeper has gone down. I appreciate the argument that it may seem unfair that the keeper is unable to stop the goal, but the unpleasant truth is that sometimes unfortunate things happen.

Having said all that, if play is to be stopped, a drop ball must be awarded. The retaken goal kick is incorrect in law, by your description. The referee could only justify this if, say, the ball was moving/out of the Goal Area when it was kicked, if he thought it was touched before it left the area, or if an attacker was inside the PA when the kick was taken.

The final possibility is that the referee thought the attacker receiving the pass was offside - if this offence occurred inside the Goal Area (6 yard box), then it may look like a goal kick.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Amber
There is a lot for the referee to deal with here. Mixed into all this is an injury, whether the ball was in play or not and a possible offside.
Now on an injury the Laws allow the referee discretion to stop play for a serious injury. Serious is not defined and it is left to the discretion of the referee. At underage Refs will err on the side of caution and miskicking the ball can at times cause a serious injury. I recently had a senior player damage his ankle by miskicking the ground on a free kick and he had to be substituted.
On the goal kick the ball must leave the penalty area for the ball to be in play. If the ball is touched before it leave the penalty area it is a retake.
Offside will apply and if the pass by the attacker was to a team mate who is ahead of the ball offside will be called.If the referee stops for the injury the restart is a dropped ball from where the ball was when play was stopped.
Now the final point on the incident I would make is that perhaps the referee decided that in the spirit of Fair Play with the goalkeeper down that the *best* decision was to stop play. If it was only a kicking error then the teams accept that free pass and play will continue. However put in an injured goalkeeper and many teams will stop for that. Have a look at this video for which the player receved a Fair Play award from FIFA
Here is another one where Yellow probably could have scored yet decided to kick the ball out of play.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Amber,
You ask was it the right call? In your match yes!
A referee's opinion or judgement where he makes a decision, is a fact of play thus final ! A referee with integrity sees what he sees. His Match, His Decision, His Reputation! We are loath to criticise a referee on a fact of play we have not witnessed. On another day another referee might not have stopped play although the safety of youth players creates a pressure to do so! I can tell you though I do not think he stopped for an injury which is a drop ball restart

The urge to stop play for every cry of pain is strong within the mindsets of those who officiate the younger matches particularly the ladies. It is possible the official felt compelled to stop if he thought the young keeper was hurt. I have seen players break an ankle or toe, pop a tendon, pull a hamstring by miss kicking the ground or ball

The LOTG suggest we stop only for serious injury but we often give what I call, ...comfort stoppages... to those in need of some attention that are not truly in any real danger . Generally we try not to take away any real advantage from their opponents but on the odd rush there will be some grumblings if the stoppage appears to be for a non serious injury. This is usually in the lower age or skill bracket and these are drop ball restarts from where the ball is.

I generally dislike not signalling a stoppage sooner if one was concerned for the keeper. Saying a goal is no good or denying a clear opportunity to score rarely ends good!

In reading over your scenario it appears likely the ball completely exited the PA so the play was live. If this was not the case THEN the goal kick is retaken.
I concur with the theory outlined by my colleague Ref Wright that the player receiving the pass MAY have been offside and an INDFK out could look very much like a goal kick!

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

The referee should stop play only if the injury is serious. For a toe injury...that does not sound serious. As long as the ball traveled beyond the penalty area, the attackers can touch the ball and play on. Age level may make a difference in how this is all applied.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Are you sure another goal kick was awarded? Because that would be the wrong restart for stopping play due to an injury. It should have been a dropped ball. My colleagues have discussed the reasons for stopping for an injury and I have nothing to add there.

But I'm wondering if the 'team mate in front of open goal' might have been offside. The restart could look very much like a goal kick, because if the player was in the goal area the resulting free kick could be taken from anywhere inside the goal area - just like a goal kick. The difference is that the kick for an offside offense is indirect and the ref should have had an arm raised in the air to indicate it.

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