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Question Number: 31305

Law 8 - The Start and Restart of Play 3/1/2017

RE: Competitive Under 15

Allen of Pensacola, FL United States asks...

TL;DR I whistled a foul and signaled for the free kick, realized it was not a foul, and restarted with dropped ball. Correct?

I was center ref for a U14 boys league play game that was getting chippy. After seeing what appeared to be a foul (slide tackle that brought down the attacking player after coming from behind--although the defender was not necessarily in a dangerous position when initiating the slide--and not causing an obvious deflection of the ball) I reactively blew the whistle for a foul, even though my view was obscured by other players and the event was in the clear view of my experienced AR. After realizing that the AR did not flag a foul and heading the incredulity of players and coaches, I went over to him and asked. He advised that there was no foul, and I reversed my decision and played a dropped ball. The same AR advised me that at this point I should award the free kick because I had already whistled the foul and signaled the free kick. However, I went through with the dropped ball, believing that the LOTG prescribed a dropped ball after realizing his call was incorrect. After I researched it, I realized that no such prescription was made (except for an award goal), but it still seems like a logical conclusion drawn from Law 5 'Decisions of the Referee' and Law 8 'Definition of Dropped Ball.' The only thing hanging me up is the word 'change' in Law 5 'DotR,' which could argued as different from nullify, i.e., a referee can change the direction of the free kick but not nullify it altogether.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Allen
The Laws state that * A dropped ball is the restart when the referee stops play and the Law does not require one of the above restarts.* Above restarts are the regular restarts of a free kick, throw in, goal kick etc.
So in your situation you stopped play incorrectly or inadvertently so the only correct restart in Law was a dropped ball from where the ball was when play was stopped.
Have a look at this video
The referee awards a penalty kick and then decides that he might have got it wrong. He speaks with the AR and he overturns the decision with a dropped ball. There is another story in there yet for the purposes of your question it shows the restart procedure. The referee clearly motions DB and lip readers will see his words to players. DB from where the ball was when the whistle sounded.
Now as to your more experienced colleague I suspect that he knew the Law yet he may have been trying to assist you and the game. Had you not consulted him on the decision it would have been highly unlikely that he would have intervened. Also the dropped ball can sometimes point to lack of judgement on behalf of the referee which can be unhelpful in match control. So a decision given for the right reasons and opinion based may be the best call. Perhaps the call was not so incorrect as it is in the opinion of the referee. I have signalled fouls as an AR to be overruled by the CR and vice versa. Tackling an opponent in a careless manner is a foul. Coming from behind on a slide tackle can certainly be careless.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Allen,
we try to do what is best for the match .
When we err it is certainly not wrong to correct it.
However we must learn from it to avoid it in future matches.
I question this reactive whistle for something you did not see?
Why did you not get eye contact with the AR if he had a better look at it?

When something occurs and I hear the groan, or see,hear responses knowing I am blocked I will outright ask my AR. 'Did I miss something?' Although I 1st look to see if he is indicating anything and might even raise my hand over my eyes to indicate I was blocked.

The drop ball is the correct restart for an inadvertent whistle where no infringement has occurred. From the point of the where the ball was at the time of the stoppage.

If an AR thinks the CR is making the call based on his view he should not jump up and down saying the CR is wrong even if 100% convinced the CR has erred. The AR COULD signal discretely Can we talk in private! Relay his view and the CR will decide to stay with or change the decision. I think in recreational soccer the teamwork of officials is at various levels of compatibility and knowledgeability so it is not unusual for there to be gaps in communication which as my colleague points out is not beneficial to match control but you gain a certain amount of respect for having the courage to do what is right. Just do not do these things too often or your credibility gets hazy!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

It is interesting that you ask this, as just yesterday, I reviewed the same question for the May issue of Referee Magazine. I do recommend that you read the Soccer section of Referee every month as there are numerous situations covered where the answers are given for various levels of competition including FIFA, College and High School. To answer your question, in high school play, the restart can be either a drop ball or indirect kick. If there is no clear team possession, play is started with a drop ball between two opposing players (NFHS Rule 9-2). If there is clear team possession, the team in possession is awarded an indirect kick from where the ball was when you sounded the whistle (NFHS Rule 13-2-3b). When you do blow the whistle inadvertently, do not be afraid to admit it. I have seen officials who have denied blowing the whistle although the players and fans heard it. This leads to a very poor opinion of the official. It looks like a great weather weekend for soccer in Pensacola. I hope the weekend and the rest of the season are very successful.

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