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Question Number: 32020

Character, Attitude and Control 11/13/2017

RE: All youth levels High School

Kristine Marohl of East Wenatchee, WA USA asks...

I am seeing this more and more where play is stopped due to; an injured player down, or a player was struck in the head, or a keeper might be injured after a rough play. After blowing the whistle, the center ref checks on the player and then to restart tells a player from the team that needed the stoppage to kick the ball back to the other teams keeper after he he drops it. Shouldn't this be a drop ball at the point where the ball was when play was stopped? (or in case for high school if one team clearly had possession an IDK where the ball was when the play was stopped?) I thought the center ref was not allowed to direct what happens for a drop ball.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Kristine,
The referee has exceeded his authority in trying to do what he thinks is the right thing. A noble thought does not a noble deed make.
I believe you are correct the USA high school rules differs slightly than FIFA drop ball in this regard the team with possession is supposed to get the INDFK restart. A referee can not mandate fair play although he could suggest it as course of action. Teams must choose their own course of action and should realize if you contest everything that you should not, the other guy is likely to do the same! While the CR cannot force who participates or who does not he can infer certain actions by teams and there is no portion of law that states he must not drop only if one side is ready or present. I have dropped the ball plenty of times to a keeper in the PA uncontested as well as had teams state they would return the ball or knock it out into touch to reward a fair play effort on the part of the opposition.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Kristine,
It is indeed true that the IFAB's Laws of the Game say, ''the referee cannot decide who may contest a dropped ball or its outcome.''

From your description, the referees in these instances are giving a dropped ball but your perception is that they are then instructing the players on what they must do with it. You say you are seeing this and I would agree that it does happen with great regularity but I'm not sure that the referees in all cases are actually dictating to the players exactly what they must do. It may be that in some cases, referees are overstepping the bounds in this regard but in other cases the referee is probably doing no more that offering a suggestion and for me, "deciding" the outcome and suggesting to players what would be the fairer thing to do are subtly but clearly different things.

Also, I would say that most players with sufficient experience of the game know what is expected of them in this situation and will do it without being prompted. In fact you can often see the players themselves gesturing to the referee that they will kick the ball back to the opposing keeper.

The principle behind this is long-established - if one team has possession of the ball and play is stopped so an injured player can receive attention, it is only equitable that they should get possession of the ball back again when play restarts - which is no doubt the reasoning behind the NFHS rule which as you state, is that the restart is an IFK for the team that was in possession when play was stopped.

There was actually an item on the agenda of the 2008 IFAB AGM to make the so-called 'fair play restart' official policy. The proposal from the (English) FA went as follows:

'Player 'injured' whilst ball in play:
#    PLAY ON unless the referee stops play
#    Player receives attention
#    Player then leaves the field of play
#    Play is re-started by a dropped ball
#    The ball is then returned to the goalkeeper of the team in possession at the time the referee stopped play''

Unltimately, this proposal was not adopted but you can see from the fact that it made it onto the IFAB's agenda that the principle has been known for some time now and was considered worthy of serious debate.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

In high school play, if a player is injured, the clock is to be stopped and the player must be removed from the game. A substitute is permitted to come from the bench.

If a team had possession of the ball, the restart would be an indirect kick for the team in possession from the spot of the ball at the time the game was stopped.

If neither team had possession, there would be a drop ball from the spot of the ball at stoppage.

At no time in high school play should the referee tell the players of either team who they should kick the ball to. Hopefully, this will become a learning experience for the referee.

I hope that your team is having a successful season.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Kristine
For those of us that have been in the game a long time we remember when the game was rarely stopped for players that are down on the ground and if it was stopped the dropped ball was always hotly contested.
The Pro game decided I believe at one World Cup many years ago to give the ball back after an injury stoppage and the Fair Play restart was born. Suddenly it became the norm for players not to contest dropped balls and to give the ball back to those in possession or kick it out for a throw in or whatever. Players now abuse this in many ways and also abuse the lying down *injured* so that the game gets stopped and perhaps a substitution to be made without the team playing short.
We have also seen Fair Play restarts going pear shaped with goals being scored and causing all sorts of furore. The Law has had to be changed twice to deal with such situations.
I also recall the infamous Battle of Nuremberg between Netherlands vs Portugal with 16 yellow cards and 4 red cards. In one situation at an injury stoppage Netherlands did not give the ball back at a stoppage and a Portuguese player took retribution resulting in a caution. So the Laws expressly state that referees cannot decide the outcome of a dropped ball. That does not stop referees though acting in a manner that controls the game in the best way possible. Some go beyond what they can do by instructions. I simply say to players that I am dropping the ball and it is up to the players to decide. Most agree a *solution* which I know before the ball is dropped. What I will not allow is a player to say that he is going to do one thing and do the complete opposite such as saying he will give it back, which is then uncontested and then dribbling off with the ball. Thankfully it has never happened as I always ensure I get the understanding from the players what is going to happen. I involve both teams in that process so there is no doubt about what is decided BY THE TEAMS. I have had a few situation of no decision so I ensure the DB is contested.

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