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Question Number: 31601

League Specific 6/13/2017

RE: Competitive Under 19

Dave Bermingham of Herndon, Virginia United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 31598

In addition to the answers provided by the panel, referees in the USA like John, may have no choice but to stop play and restart with a dropped ball. USSF and US Youth Soccer have implemented a rule to prohibit heading at the U11 level and below (USYS Rule 305).
'All Players age 10 and younger shall not head the ball directly from the air in any match or competition, nor shall these players practice heading the ball in any organized team setting. If a player age 10 or younger deliberately heads the ball in a match, the referee shall award an indirect free kick to the opposing team at the spot of the infraction. If the heading occurs within the penalty area, the referee shall move the ball outside the penalty area and award an indirect free kick to the opposing team.'
Although not mandatory for US Youth Soccer State Associations, State Associations are strongly encouraged to adopt this Rule for state and local play.
The Virginia State Association enforces this rule in all sanctioned competitions stating: 'Whenever the ball strikes a player in the head, play is stopped. The proper restart depends upon whether the player deliberately played the ball with his or her head. If deliberate, the proper restart is an indirect free kick to the opposing team. If this occurs within the goal area, the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred. If the play by the head is deemed inadvertent, then the proper restart is a dropped ball.'

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Dave,
Thanks for the confirmation for the u littles . If we are to consider it as non threatening and accidental then we are back to where we began. I think ball to head or head to ball contact STOP PLAY award INDFK or drop ball, alleviates the tension off a subsequent play might be the best solution to a problem created by altering the LOTG .

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Dave
Thanks for this input which is valuable along with the quotes from the relevant competition rule.
I had overlooked the USSF heading policy directive in my answer as my focus was on potential injury not heading. For completedness it would have been helpful to have done so and I appreciate your contribution.
Some States have added in an additional ruling in respect of the inadvertent contact. Virginia as per your quote is one. I believe the general rule is that* If, in the opinion of the referee, a player does not deliberately head or attempt to head the ball, then play shall continue*
As to the choices that a referee has in the situation of the question as I said that if play is already stopped then the issue in many ways does not arise. The player still gets attention and treated as quickly as required. It does help the referee though in that if his State mandates a stoppage then that is what it is
It does raises the further question of whether the player should then be removed for *treatment* and only allowed to return when play has resumed and at the request of the players technical staff?
It shows that by introducing new mandates how it can raise other questions.

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