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Question Number: 31962

Law 5 - The Referee 10/30/2017

RE: Competitive Under 14

Phil Routledge of Carlisle, Cumbria United Kingdom asks...

A player is tackled fairly but goes to ground clearly injured. The referee ignores the injured player, thus failing to ascertain the severity of the injury, allowing play to continue around the motionless player on the edge of the penalty area for upwards of 2 minutes before the ball goes out of play claiming that he can only stop the game for a head injury. Under what circumstances can a referee stop the game immediately including floodlight failure, waterlogged pitch etc.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Phil
The referees claim is incorrect. The referee can stop play for any injury that he deems serious which includes head injuries, knocks etc. Sure a wound or a bone break are serious injuries and the game would be definitely stopped for those.
At Underage my advice is to stop play for any player down on the ground for any period. Referees should err on the side of caution and just stop the game rather than waiting for a natural stoppage. If a player passed out due to a heart problem, seizure, asthma attack etc a referee would have difficulty in explaining a lengthy two minute wait before allowing treatment . Safety is paramount and rather than wait a referee should stop the game and deal with it.
Unfortunately many referees bring adult values and expectations to the Underage game. In an open age game a referee might opine that an injury is minor such as cramp, strain etc and allow play continue until the next stoppage which can be a decision by the teams to stop. I do notice though that even the adult game is getting more concerned about stopping games more quickly on injuries.
I suppose the best way that referees should look at it is to ask if he or she was a parent of the player down on the ground what would the parent do? Stop the game every single time and who is going to complain? In all my years I never once had a complaint for stopping on an Underage injury concern.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Pĥil,
2 minutes is too long the referee has failed to understand that safety is his 1st priority. While it is true if he deemed the injury as non serious he can allow play for a bit so the opposite team is perhaps not disadvantaged. However, to allow a player to remain down and who remains UNRESPONSIVE to are you ok? Can you continue? is a serious failure to NOT recognize it COULD be serious or the good acting award could be awarded in the form of a yellow card should it prove a ruse.

I generally will stop play once HIS team has possession. Their failure to not put it out if they do not feel it is serious or if the opposition is feeling benevolent rather than proceed with my ruling of lets wait a bit so you are not disadvantaged, they can also choose to play it out. Then the fair play return the ball thing becomes part of the equation.

I rather err on safety then worry about play continuing uninterrupted although If I sense the opposition has a decent scoring opportunity I really go with my gut as to delay a bit unless my spidery senses are tingling to immediately halt because I feel something is amiss
Sometimes the force, the sound or lack of it, the overall look all indicate immediate WHISTLE stoppage. Youth we often stop just because they are tired or thirsty . The adults might not get such an easy stoppage but they too need water on the hot days, and cramps while perhaps not life threatening do impact on their ability to participate.
I try to get eye contact, thumbs up and voice to answer my query, Are you ok? Can you continue? Silence = stoppage = benefit of doubt at least once!

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