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Question Number: 31528

Law 5 - The Referee 5/12/2017

RE: Competitive Under 17

Matthew of Brisbane, Queensland Australia asks...

My sons football team were attacking and were just outside the opposing team penalty area. The opponent made a tackle and the referee deemed this to be a foul and stopped play and awarded a free kick. He then discussed with the AR who indicated that it was a fair tackle. The referee then instructed the player to pass the ball back to the goalkeeper. While the tackle may have been legal the referee deprived the team of an attacking opportunity on the edge of the box. Was his decision correct or should he have awarded a drop ball or should he have stuck with his original decision. In effect he penalised the attacking team for his error

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Matthew
As the referee stopped play inadvertently, based on the new information from the assistant referee, the restart should have been a dropped ball from where the ball was when play was stopped. He cannot award the DFK because he made an error
Now what has happened over the years has been the advent of the so called fair play dropped ball restart where the ball is given back to the team in possession when play has been stopped by the referee for an injury or some other reason for a dropped ball restart.
Laxed officiating can end up sometimes with the referee not dropping the ball as outlined in the laws yet just making the assumption that the ball has been dropped with play restarting in a casual manner. I assume that it was the attacking team that kicked the ball back so it was a dropped ball without the procedure being followed.
In the recent updating of the Laws referees have been advised NOT to decide who may contest the dropped ball or its outcome That confirms that referees should not *manufacture* dropped ball situations. Having said that if a referee decides on a dropped ball restart it is usual for the dropped ball not to be contested so in this case perhaps the ball would have been given back anyway on a DB? Even if the attacking team was still in possession after the whistle the defending team may decide to give the ball back which can be simply kicking the ball back sometimes to midfield for play to start again.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Matthew,
here we have a referee trying hard to apply common sense after he changes his mind or as I like to call it making stuff up.

The referee has the ability to change a decision based on additional NEW information from a neutral official or if he has an epiphany and realizes he was wrong wishing to correct his error. However, he has no right to dictate a restart where one team must do as he says to award the ball to the other team. If the referee felt the whistle was in error then a drop ball restart is his only option for what we call an inadvertent whistle stoppage. The teams can decide on their own as HOW they wish to conduct it!

It is not a good look to those playing or watching when a referee makes a call on something he has seen and then changes that decision based on what the AR thinks. Much easier to sell a decision on something the AR saw that he did not! Still in theory it is best to get the call right then go ahead with what you know to be a wrong decision but that did not truly occur in this case.

I recall a very interesting case where a PK /caution was awarded for a deliberate handling, the far AR noticed the arm that contacted the ball belonged to the player BEHIND the defender who had reached around as the defenders arm was tucked in behind his back in that case the CR was eternally grateful for the extra help since the replay on TV showed it quite clearly. In that case, armed with the correct information the CR changed the PK to a DFK out and rescinded the caution to the defender

Keep in mind referees learn their trade same as players you get better with more experience. Hopefully through training monitoring or assessments the referee will gain further knowledge and not repeat this conduct in the future.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Matthew,
It's not entirely clear to me what precisely happened here but if I read it correctly, the referee did not drop the ball, but just told your son's team's player to kick the ball to the opposing keeper from the free kick.

If so, this is definitely something that is not supported by anything in the Laws. As Ref McHugh says, even if it were a dropped ball, the referee is not supposed to 'manufacture' the outcome although having said that, it is still usually the case that the team that was in possession of the ball at the time play was stopped, gets the ball returned to them.

Not to excuse the referee's actions here but if the tackle was fair and if (although this also isn't clear from your description) the defender was therefore legally in possession of the ball before play was stopped then the expectation would probably be that his team would get the ball back (just not in the way the referee did it).

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