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Question Number: 31914

Law 5 - The Referee 10/16/2017

RE: Under 19

Fred of Salt lake City, UT USA asks...

When it comes to stopping a team doing time-wasting tactics, what are your thoughts on the referee counting down out loud to the player before giving a caution?

When I am in the situation of a winning team trying to take a restart slowly, I will call out 'You have 5/10 seconds to restart or will receive a caution' and then count down out loud and it gets them moving quickly, rather than veiled 'come on let's go' comments

I know these are not proper mechanics and I would not do on an assessed match, but just curious.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Fred
I had a game at the weekend where I had three cautions for delaying the restart of play. I also turned over two throw ins for being taken from the wrong place by players who were using up all the time that they could possibly extract so they did not get trifling or doubtful on the restart location.
Now I did have to shout quite a bit to hurry players up and that just goes with the territory. The counting down places the referee in the position of none or limited discretion as to the sanction taken. What happens when the referee gets to zero. Caution every time?
The actual restart is never the problem yet it is the lead up to it and the time taken in that. So once the referee gets to say giving a 5/10 seconds warning the time is already gone and the restart can proceed.
Case in point is the goalkeeper who walks out to collect the ball to take a goal kick. By the time he places the ball most times the placed ball will be kicked within 10 seconds without a countdown. The time wasting part has most times already happened with the exception of moving the ball again. Now for me the goalkeeper gets a hurry up instruction and perhaps a whistle with a clear message to everyone including the opponents that the matter is being looked at. If he does not change to a get a move on he gets spoken to and a repeat is a caution.
Also my experience is that I have only once (I can recall) cautioned for not taking a restart in a timely manner once it had been set up. I have cautioned countless times for the tardy time taken to get to that point.
So for me the communication is clear instructions to get on with the play and if that is not headed the cards come out.
In addition the time gets added on to the point that had the team got on with play in a timely manner the amount of added time would be greatly reduced. I always tell players that the time is going to be added on in these games where a team is trying to run the clock down with slow restarts. The opponents feel that when that is done that they have been fairly treated. In my game at the weekend I had 4 substitutions and no injuries with 4.30 of time added on. The opponents had no complaints that the timing was properly handled and the time wasters were none too happy including shouts from the technical area of how long more the game was going to go on.
Having said all that a tactic that is working for a referee in games without any hassle or repercussions then no issue. It is the referees game to manage, control and call. I also think that it is a feature of other codes and sports in the US to have countdowns, shot clocks etc so it is somewhat cultural and may be accepted at Underage. It may not work all of the time and once might be too often.
A senior observer once told me not to tell players how long is left at the end of the game. I generally do give the time yet on occasions it has caused problems. The observers advice was to prevent the players complaint after the game of the perception of playing over the time in tight games. His answer was not to do it period whereas the trick is to know when not to.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Fred,
this might be a consideration if you can not actually add the extra time allotted by the LOTG as part of your referee duties due to field constraints overuse multiple matches one after another, league policy, tournaments, horn to end matches where by not doing so you might deprive a team of playing time!

I recall the count down of the keeper releases during active being a fad for awhile but generally we should not be counting out loud or insisting what we will d0 because that bar once tested best hold !
Restarts I have similar views. They (the players) know the score and if they play the game of drag the feet you caution as required! 'Sometime TODAY Gentlemen or Ladies! I have a very loud voice and when I use it for dramatic effect to set a tone or bar there is little doubt as to what my next actions COULD likely to be . I make it very obvious I am adding time for the benefit of the opposition so they do not get overly agitated! WE know it takes a few seconds to retrieve a few seconds to set up a few seconds to decide . Referees are not unreasonable just when our patience is NEEDLESSLY tested I rather the players feel our pain in the way it stops, cautions tend to do that.
Once you start finger counting out loud or using a hand gesture using the fingers you best caution every time if not delivered best be the same for both teams !

Once you indicate the restart is a go or simply stated Today! Then make it ABUNDANTLY clear looking at wrist raised to pocket level on the shirt as if stopping the watch method while using the other hand as if to reset it while peeking out the yellow card prequel tends to push the ball on its way. I rarely award more than a single caution for time wasting or delaying restarts or failure to respect tend yards but in leagues where I refereed it became know not to dilly dally I rarely gave even 1.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

At one time we were specifically told NOT to count out loud or make any counting gestures, like swinging an arm. I don't remember if that was a FIFA/IFAB directive or if it came from USSF.

Rather than give a strict timeframe, I preferred to encourage them along. 'C'mon, put the ball into play. Don't waste time.' And on at least one occasion, 'The longer you take, the longer we're going to be here. I'm adding on time.'

And if none of that works, a caution for delaying the restart of play will probably get their attention. Just remember that after the caution, the restart remains the same.

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