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Question Number: 31598

Law 5 - The Referee 6/12/2017

RE: Competitive Under 11

John Nagel of Wilmette, IL USA asks...

Yesterday, I was CR at a U10 game. The keeper took a hard shot in the face. She immediately went down, covered her face, and was crying. Before I could assess the situation and respond by blowing my whistle, the attacking team gathered the rebound, shot and scored (right over the fallen keeper). I decided that I would deem the play to have been stopped with the injury and before the goal, and restarted with a dropped ball at the top of the goal area. I explained this to the attacking team's coach who had no objection. I would like feedback on how other referees would have handled such a situation, given my failure to whistle the play dead before the goal was scored. Also, should the situation be handled differently at older age levels (e.g., U13-18)?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi John
I believe you made the *best* decision for the game given the age group and the reaction of the teams. At this age group it is all about fun and safety not about goal count. It was not a failure by you as the play had been stopped instantly with the goal anyway and at this age level it is about managing players, looking after safety, responding to Mum and Dad concern for their child etc
Perhaps put it another way. Had the ball gone out of play over the sideline after hitting the player on the face the restart would be without doubt a throw in with no complaint. The conditions would be exactly the same and your explanation of stopping play for an injury was the rationale to disallow the goal is supported as play has to be stopped for a serious injury. The referee is judge of what constitutes serious. In cases where play is already stopped anyway the need does not arise whatever about any Fair Play consideration which is a team matter not for the referee.
So in Law at older age groups as it is was a instant play with no offence committed there would be nothing that any referee could do other than award the goal. The goal stopped play as quickly as the referee could so there was no delay in treatment or dealing with the player.
I recall a few seasons ago a somewhat similar incident where the centre half in an adult game made head contact with an attacker with the ball dropping to another forward who promptly dispatched the ball to the goal. The centre half fell instantly to the ground with a nasty head wound which required immediate attention by medical staff and he had to be removed from the field of play. As there was no offence, there was no hope of stopping play any quicker than the shot at goal so the only restart was a kick off. The conceding team while not best pleased realised that the referee could not have stopped play any quicker than the goal award and that it was an accident by their own player so while still a head injury there was nothing the referee could do or do any differently other than award the goal. If we have time and play needs to be stopped then that is what we do. Until play is stopped because of the decision of a referee it must continue. As we say the timing of decision is when the referee decides not when he signals although the time difference is minimal.
Have a look at this video.
The referee was correct to allow play to continue and perhaps without the Fair Play intervention he may have been berated had he stopped play. No referee will ever know that reaction other than in an unpleasant match atmosphere where there has been gamesmanship or constant time wasting. The injury did not look serious, it was not a head injury and the referee probably knew that treatment was going to be pretty instant anyway had a goal scoring opportunity been taken. It could be cramp, a minor strain and sometimes referees have to be careful of players that lie down *injured* in attacking situations by opponents.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi John,
compassionate reasoning afforded you an option that no one took exception too. A whistle is our signal to stop play but if you had decided to stop the moment you saw the head injury then play is technically stopped and at youth it is a much easier sell . That said if its bang bang goal we usually go kick off. If the team scoring FEELS badly they can let the other team equalize if they wish. Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi John,
It's a tricky one, to be sure and as the responses from my colleagues indicate, there are arguments to support a decision either way. I would just mention though, that the fact that you did not blow the whistle before the ball entered the net makes no difference. Play is deemed to have stopped at the moment you decided it was stopped, not when the whistle is blown.

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