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Question Number: 31031

Law 8 - The Start and Restart of Play 11/17/2016

RE: AYSO Under 11

Rolando J Morales of Los Angeles, CA USA asks...

I am a bit confused on the LOFTG regarding the use of the whistle. Do the laws mandate that a whistle must be used in certain situations? I know that it is a control tool and that it should be used to convey a message to the players, coaches and spectators, but can a referee technically go the entire game without blowing a whistle and just use his/her voice and hand gestures? I ask because there was a situation where a player was being tended to by his coach (on the field). as the coach was exiting the field, the referee motioned for the opposing team to restart (throw-in) the game, resulting in a goal for that team. The coach (who's team was scored on)complained that a whistle was not blown and his team was not ready. He states that there is a passage in the LOFTG stating that a whistle is mandatory after there is an injury on the field. I saw this passage in the book, but it is not technically one of the laws. Your response is greatly appreciated

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Rolando
According to the Practical Guidelines for Match Officials the whistle is needed to:

*** # start play (1st and 2nd half of normal play and extra time), after a goal
# stop play:  
# for a free kick or penalty kick  
# if the match is suspended or abandoned  
# at the end of each half 
# restart play for:  free kicks when the appropriate distance is required  penalty kicks  restart play after it has been stopped for a:  caution or sending-off, injury, substitution.***

As you state it is not part of the Laws per se which only refers to the referee signalling which can include the use of a whistle then it is not an error in Law if a whistle is not used just poor mechanics.
So in one way the coach is *right* in that his team deserves to be alerted that the throw in is going to be taken yet on the other side there is nothing in Law to say that a whistle must be used just that it recommended through the guidelines.
Have a look at this video
There is a substitution and a ceremonial free kick. The referee did not sound the whistle just before the kick and the goal from the free kick was allowed. It resulted in a Blue player no 4 getting sent off for a second caution and much ill feeling and rancor.
Now the referee did not err in Law just poor mechanics IMHO. Had he peeped the whistle as he stepped back there would not have been a word about the incident. One can ask whether the lack of a whistle affected play or not?
Now referees should do all in their power to ensure there is no controversy or difficulty attributed to their actions so good mechanics prevents this type of incident from occurring. In the throw in situation a peep on the whistle solves the matter before it arises.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Rolando,
the discretionary power of a referee when he fails to follow normal protocols can create the exact situation you describe which is confusion by the teams playing as to what was being allowed to happen. For my part as a coach, I tell my players that UNLESS the referee has specifically pointed to his whistle and stated publically, 'We are to WAIT for the whistle!' the game is always ALWAYS on! Whistle stoppages can create a loss of concentration = mistakes as far too many players tune out rather then focus and get dialed in!

I agree with the coach it is certainly better to use the whistle where the LOTG have indicated it appropriate. The thing is it is not a protestable occurrence to state that no whistle was used given the referee signals are not a mandatory portion of the LOTG but a suggested one of practical use! Poor mechanics and the idea of his match, his decision his reputation suffers accordingly! In the not needed column it mentions corner kicks. Thanks in a large part to the sideshows in the PA of players trying to undress the other and the unwise suggestion we are to manage these idiotic shenanigans almost all corners are better suited to a whistled restart. The SOUND of the whistle as you aptly point out is an indicator to the seriousness of the event a simple tweet likely means stop or to go. Whereas a series of hard tweets or loud long lingering blasts as we run into the middle of whatever is occurring sends a much different message.

Practical Guidelines for Match Officials

Decisions will be made to the best of the referee's ability according to the
Laws of the Game and the 'spirit of the game' and will be based on the opinion
of the referee who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the
framework of the Laws of the Game.

Body Language, Communication and Whistle
1. Referees
Body language
Body language is a tool that the referee uses to:
• help control the match
• show authority and self-control

Body language is not an explanation of a decision.

See Law 5 for diagrams of signals

The whistle is needed to:
• start play (1st and 2nd half of normal play and extra time), after a goal

• stop play:
••for a free kick or penalty kick
••if the match is suspended or abandoned
••at the end of each half

• restart play for:
••free kicks when the appropriate distance is required
••penalty kicks

• restart play after it has been stopped for a:
••caution or sending-off

The whistle is NOT needed to:
• stop play for a clear:
••goal kick, corner kick, throw-in or goal

• restart play from:
••most free kicks, and a goal kick, corner kick, throw-in or dropped ball

A whistle which is used too frequently/unnecessarily will have less impact
when it is needed.

If the referee wants the player(s) to wait for the whistle before restarting play
(e.g. when ensuring that defending players are 9.15m at a free kick) the referee
must clearly inform the attacking player(s) to wait for the whistle.

If the referee blows the whistle in error and play stops, play is restarted with a
dropped ball.

For example a team has the RIGHT To take a quick kick and if they indicate they WISH to do so the referee technically is supposed to accommodate that desire UNLESS there is exceptional actions or attitude that require him NOT to allow but do something else of greater importance. Lets take a foul at the edge of the PA the referee blows the whistle awards a dfk for a trip , the player has fallen on/near the ball.
Consider these 2 scenarios!

(1)There is no action by the attackers indicating they are ready to go or are upset at the fact defenders are milling about trying to set a wall oblivious to fact the referee HAS only blown the whistle to stop play, then indicated free kick. The referee is fairly close by and the attacker over the ball says, Can I go? referee says ok and begins to back away. Boom, goal is scored defenders are mind-blowingly upset that the referee gave no whistled restart. Seen near riots at the elite level.

(2)The referee wants to caution the opposing defender responsible but the aggrieved player places the ball makes a quick pass and boom the ball is in the back of the net. Now how badly did you the referee want/NEED to caution?

Had you as referee begun ANY action that created the idea you were going to make this a ceremonial free kick? At the other end had a similar situation occurred where both parties waited until a wall was set and you blew the whistle to restart? Were you close to the play, no one asked to go then you backed away then blew the whistle? If so you set precedent for how you manage a free kick restart as the request to go is likely only within your earshot and the kickers!
Here is a video that shows the NON use of what SHOULD be a mandatory whistle creates all kinds of confusion


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