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Question Number: 31502

Law 5 - The Referee 5/1/2017

RE: Competitive Adult

Gregory Fischer of Canoga park, Ca United States asks...

Can a referee add more time after the final whistle to a match had been blown?

We recently had a key match against a rival that ended in a 0-0 draw. Moments after the final whistle was blown, the opposing coach ran onto the field complaining to the referee that he ended the game 5-minutes early (which was true).

Several minutes later, after which point both teams had already gone to the sidelines, the referee decided to reverse his call to end the game, and brought us back onto the pitch to play an extra 4 minutes.

During this time the opposing team scored a goal, and therefore this referees decision had a dramatic impact.

I should note, that our league plays with Fifa rules.

Is this reversal of a final whistle allowed?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Gregory
The fact is that the game was ended prematurely and therefore incorrectly. If the referee and players are still on the field of play or close there to the referee should restart the game and play out the remaining minutes. The reason for this is that Law 5 tells us that the referee may not change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or on the advice of another match official if play has restarted or the referee has signalled the end of the first or second half (including extra time) and left the field of play or terminated the match.
So in this case the referee is still on the field of play and therefore entitled to put right the timing error.
If the ball was out of play when the period was ended incorrectly, then play should be resumed with the appropriate restart (throw-in, goal kick, etc.). If the ball was in play, then the correct restart is a dropped ball where the ball was when the referee incorrectly ended play.
Had the referee found out the error in the changing room he could not restart the game and he must report the timing error in match report. That could result in the game bring replayed, the remaining minutes played out or the result to stand depending on the competition rules and the decision of the league.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

If the referee realizes his mistake of ending early before he has left the field, he can and should resume play to complete the correct number of minutes. If the ball was out of play when the ref mistakenly whistled for time, the restart would be whatever reason associated with that - goal kick, throw in, corner kick, etc. If the ref stopped play, then it is a mistaken whistle and the restart is a dropped ball from where the ball was when play was stopped.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Gregory,
The decision of the referee to blow the final whistle is just one of the many, many decisions that a referee makes during a match. As my colleagues have stated, a referee can change any decision that is made, on realising that it is incorrect, provided that play has not restarted or he has not left the field after the match ends.

There is wording about not changing a decision if the match has been terminated but in that phrase, I think we have to take it that the word 'correctly' is understood. If the whistle to end the game was in and of itself, an incorrect decision then it logically becomes invalid and the referee must correct that error on realising that it has been made, so long as he is still on the pitch.

Sometimes the Laws themselves have ambiguous or even, seemingly contradictory provisions and this is perhaps, one such example. When that happens, as stated in the Laws document itself, ''Referees are expected to use common sense and to apply the 'spirit of the game' when applying the Laws of the Game ...''

I believe that an incorrect decision to end a match prematurely has to be corrected if at all possible, not least because an error in the timing of the match would render the game result protestable and the match might have to be replayed. In fact, I was once involved (as a coach) in a game that had to be replayed after the referee had made the mistake of playing insufficient time.

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