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Question Number: 31284

League Specific 2/20/2017

RE: Rec Under 19

Mark of South Bay, CA USA asks...

Your "missed ferry" scenario (& question 30183) and references to the Rules of Competition (ROC) got some of us thinking that our youth recreational league rules need to be updated to provide guidance in potential messy situations.

Our regular season rules basically say 2 things: No protests can be filed for referee judgement calls, and if a referee makes an error in law " like an incorrect restart " you can write up a report that we will use to educate the ref so it doesnt happen again. This doesnt seem very satisfying to a usual American fan that demands justice and fair play.

Our tournament rules say that protests will only be accepted if an ineligible player has played or a player does not play the requisite number of minutes.

Often at tournaments experienced refs will watch a ref and upon seeing an incorrect restart or a misapplication of the law like awarding a goal when the ball sailed untouched from a throw-in into the net and will knowingly say, "Oh, now the match is protestable!"

Could I indulge you to comment on what you have seen in ROCs that works well in general, and what would you suggest be written into the ROC for these circumstances?

(1) For a game that is suspended or abandoned: how much of the game must be completed for it to be determined that enough has been played and therefore the score at the time of suspension will stand?

(2) If it is determined that a law was misapplied, should the game be replayed in its entirety, or only from that exact moment onwards? This news report highlights that both have been used in the past:

I know that this is youth soccer and not FIFA-level competitions, but we want to have guidance that we can point to that is fair to all, without opening up the floodgates of trivial protests. Any other guidance will be appreciated.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Mark,
the REALITY aspect of providing an opportunity for kids to have fun and the merits of competitive play we can not expect that every wrong can be corrected in a timely, fair or reasoned fashion in the city or township of youth opportunities given the number of volunteers, and circumstances surrounding youth soccer is driven by FUN not tabulated results!.

The reason tournaments and certain leagues or competitions must wash their hands of certain discrepancies it is just not practical to correct them. The more fundamental matches where regional, provincial or national organizations: in essence, WHEN the political aspects weigh in, THEN the LOTG and their adherence has deeper repercussions!

No matter what sport you play or regulations you put in place it is extremely difficult to wave negligence. In youth soccer, although some good intentions play their part, we have background and criminal checks , codes of conduct and the bylaws to regulate, screen and create accountability for those who volunteer or paid to be involved in youth sports.

You made an astute statement in the phrase, 'floodgates of trivial protests!' Those that form review or disciplinary committees are empowered to act as judge, jury and executioner as it were to render the final arbitration. Like any court of law you sentence with impartiality and by following the rules as you understand them to be.
We empower a referee to act as the arbitrator of justice on the pitch simply as a matter of expediency . The match requires it be concluded. If there are procedures where a review of a concluded match that was PERCIEVED to be arrived at unfairly then we examine the TRUE extent of what occurred and whether it DOES really matter to correct it?

Usually there is a fee associated with a protest and a time limit to get it in place . I have seen protest decision get protested that again costs a fee as well as a time to respond factor. The fee is quite substantial and generally NOT refundable! Likely to discourage the trivial or trifling whining protests !

Practical application . A referee can not be disputed on facts EVEN if a video turned in shows a ball not crossing the goal line or crossing the goal line if the referee claimed it was the reverse based on his opinion. What referees can not do is alter the LOTG to fit a FACT of play! The keeper came outside the PA and picked up the ball I awarded a PK because although the keeper cannot be guilty of a PK inside his own area for handling but he is guilty of it outside his PA. Now we have a legitimate clear cut protestable situation in the handling offence outside the PA is a DFK outside as the keeper was simply 0ne of eleven players.

WE do NOT move a DFK from outside the PA to inside the PA under ANY circumstances.

If the keeper was outside his PA trying to clear a ball but it sneaks by he turns and falls on it grabbing the ball with his hands but caught the ball inside his PA right on the boundary line!

The referee though decides he handled the ball outside the PA and awarded a DF, even though he is wrong, the decision would stand because in his opinion the handling occurred. outside the PA.

He could be retrained and set straight that it does not matter the keeper was outside the PA ONLY the ball location when his hands touched it is important!

But lets say a clear video showed the ball location WAS on the PA boundary and lets say the referee allowed the free kick from the ball on top of the boundary line for a keeper handling the ball outside his penalty area.

Lets say a goal was scored!

Now they lose 1 to 0 .

So they turn in the video and state WHY is this DFK against our keeper inside the PA if it WAS a handling infraction?

Ah what matters a blade of grass, it was close enough!

If we try to overturn do we get flood of videos?
Will our referees feel we do not have their backs?
DO we have time to replay?
Should we declare it a tie and reset the statistics in the standings?
Are there fields available, new referees to be assigned?
Do we restart at the free kick spot?
Do we replay it entirely?

No! you live with it and move on! It simply is not practical to sort through these types of messes at the youth level where fun and participation are the vital components!

If it is an easy decision, they played with two visiting Italian players not on their roster and this resulted in a win. Easy to disallow the result, declare it a forfeit, award points to the other team., perhaps fine the team for playing illegal players not on the roster but move on.

In suspension or abandonment again we go to practical, was one team being unreasonable? If clear blame is in evidence forfeit and move on! If it was a lightening storm or pitch condition if it is practical find a new field, a new time. If the match was 3/4 played or 1 team was leading by 3 goals go with the result if that is going to be in your bylaws as a reasonable solution to a tough situation where getting matches replayed is just not an easy solution.

If it is a clear misapplication of the LOTG you can use the time aspect of say a PK moment restart as a restarting point. Seen it done a time or too or you can simply replay the match in its entirety. It boils down to practicality and resources as well as political will and legal repercussions.

Youth soccer through aims of fun and participation really do not require massive alteration into what should be some easy clearly defined bylaws. Codes of conduct that clearly state responsibilities and accountability! I cannot stress enough seek out the practical guidelines to not overstretch your time or resources even as your concern for integrity and compassion fuel your character to do what is right by the players. You can not always solve things to personal satisfaction you do the right things for the best of all involved!

A good organization has communication, mentoring, training and feedback at ALL Levels. Do not let things deteriorate into adversarial positions where it is referees against coaches and players or parents. Seek to bring them together to discuss, exchange information, express concerns, the beautiful game is only as pretty as those who make up its numbers!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mark
There are very few referee decisions that are truly protestable. Over the past say 20 years I can only think of a few and they relate to the wrong restart at a retaken penalty kick. Those deserved to be dealt with as it deprived a team of perhaps a goal.
Now there are plenty other protests and disciplinary panels have multiple appeals every season on player eligibility, incorrect transfer, unregistered players etc.
In respect of your question I would say that when a game gets beyond 80 minutes there is reason that the result should stand unless some other factor presents and for me if a game needs to be set up again that a full replay is best. I can imagine certain situations where recreating the last few minutes makes sense yet when the game is just about playing then it makes sense to play a full game. I saw recently where an error by a referee on a penalty kick resulted in the game being being recommended for 18 seconds Both teams, officials had to travel, tog out, go through a total game preparation for a penalty kick, a kick off and 15 seconds of open play!
FIFA ordered a full replay in a 2005 game where a similar incident happened in the 38th minute. One team wanted the game to restart in the 38th minute.
The final point is that once the ROC spells out the remedy then that is fair to all. We might not agree with the remedy yet the unfairness happens when there has to be a made up decision due to the lack of a ROC to cover it. In the absence of an appropriate rule in the ROC my principle is that it should be sorted on the field of play in a full game not in a meeting room.

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