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Question Number: 31625

Law 3 - The Players 6/30/2017

RE: Rec Under 13

George of Parangarecutirimicuaro, CA Sacratomato asks...

I was recently an AR in a tough semifinal. Blue team is being dominated by green team in just about every aspect of the game. The coaches for the blue team kept challenging every other call that went against their team. Near the beginning of the second half and with the score 6-1 in favor of green, the assistant coach starts yelling at the CR to stop the game. CR ignores assistant's pleas. Coach continues to demand the game be stopped. Since CR won't stop/end the game, the assistant coach begins commanding his players to step off the field. Initially, blue team refuses to abandon match and continue playing. The assistant coach gets louder and bolder demanding the game be stopped. Right in the middle of a green counter attack, blue players start walking off the field. With no blue team on the field, green scores and CR ends game as green team lines up for kickoff.

Looking into the future and hoping to be better prepared, can an assistant end the match? Granted, by now, the head coach acted like the assistant and vice versa with the assistant coach. Should the game have been called before the last goal was scored? Does the last goal count even though goalie was on his way off the pitch?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi George
Very disconcerting with a coach trying to end a game for no reason other than losing the game. I find it totally unacceptable in a GAME which is about playing that an adult ends the playing by bringing adult values to an underage game. What ever happened to just playing for the sake of playing. I have coached teams that were badly beaten yet the game demanded to keep playing until the end. The life lesson was also to keep playing and to accept defeat gracefully and with dignity. Players learn as much if not more from defeat than they do from winning
Anyway under the laws a coach has no powers to end the game. That is a matter for the referee. The game stops / ends when the number of players reduces below seven. Play can continue until the next stoppage if a team has seven or more during play as a referee would not be expected to keep a count of reduction during play plus the referee can and should invoke the advantage rule by continuing until the next stoppage. If there is no goalkeeper play must end.
So in some ways it is irrelevant whether the game ends with the players walking off during play or at the kick off. The only exception might be in the case of goal difference which I doubt applies in underage anyway.
If I was in this situation with a coach clearly interfering in the game by loudly shouting in to end the game in the manner you describe then I would stop the game and deal with the interference. If as Referee Grove points out that there may be some mercy rule then that would have to be dealt with. In games involving such a rule the opponents would know this and amend its play accordingly. I recall an underage competition rule whereby a lead of 5 required the team to reduce its team by two. Most teams took off better players when it was apparent that was going to happen.
If the coach pulls his team off then so be it and we all go home. The facts of the situation are reported to the League.
As described here the referee was entitled in Law to continue until the next stoppage and then deal with the situation which is what happened.
If I was a league disciplinary panel member here this team would be heavily censured. What is the point of entering to play in a competition and then walking away because the team is losing. No one needs that not least the players on both sides.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi George,
There is most definitely nothing in the Laws of the Game that entitles either a coach or an assistant coach to unilaterally end a match in the circumstances you describe and I would be very surprised if any competition rules would allow it either (except perhaps in the second of the two scenarios I mention below).

As Ref McHugh says, any disciplinary committee that received a referee's report detailing such behaviour is likely to hand down stiff sanctions to the coach(es) and/or club involved. This kind of action totally undermines the integrity of any competition in which it occurs.

There are only a couple of circumstances where I could see any kind of potential mitigating circumstances. Firstly, if the competition had a 'mercy rule' which said a game could be abandoned when one team was 5 goals ahead (although even then, it should be done by informing the match officials and getting them to take the action) or if there was some kind of clear safety concern where the players' well-being was being put at risk, that the match officials were ignoring. However there is no indication in your question, that either of these would apply.

I can't think of any particular way that match officials could be prepared for this situation other than to be aware that it can occur, to deal with it correctly if it arises and to make sure all the relevant details are included in the match report.

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