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Question Number: 32048

Law 7 - The Duration of the Match 11/24/2017

RE: School Under 16

Chris Greene of Kathu, Phuket Thailand asks...

During a match we scored a goal while the referee was blowing for full-time. He disallowed the goal. Should it have counted? Does the game finish when the ref STARTS blowing the whistle or when he FINISHES blowing it??

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Chris,
The correct answer is neither! Play stops when the referee decides it stops.
What I mean by that is: Say the referee realises time has ended. He brings his whistle to his mouth, but when he tries to blow he drops it in the mud (yes, this does happen!). In the 5 seconds it takes the referee to pick up the whistle, a goal is scored - strictly speaking the referee should disallow that goal.
In terms of what usually happens, though, it would usually end when the whistle starts, not ends. And if that's blown while the ball is in midair towards an open goal, then that means there's no goal.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Chris,
Any decision by the referee, whether for a foul, goal, the end of the match or whatever, is effective from when the referee makes the decision, not when the whistle sounds. Referee Wright has given an example of why this is so. Another would be if the referee tries to blow the whistle but the whistle for whatever reason, malfunctions and does not produce a sound. This was more common in the old whistles with a 'pea' inside which could occasionally get stuck - nowadays most referees use whistles that do not have a pea inside so that particular problem rarely occurs but the principle still applies that the decision is made in the mind of the referee first and the whistle is only the outward signal of the decision, which must necessarily come after the moment of the decision itself.

So if the referee had decided that time was up before the ball crossed the line, he is entitled in law to disallow the goal, no matter when the whistle was actually sounded.

Having said that, many referees seem to feel that blowing the whistle while the ball is in the air on the way into the goal is not the best course of action and probably even fewer would disallow a goal where the ball was already in the net before they started to sound the whistle. Nevertheless, a referee has not committed an error in law if he disallows a goal in these circumstances.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Chris
The game ends when the referee decides so and the goal does not count. The whistle is the signal of the decision. So the technical answer is the moment the referee makes his decision. Making the decision and the first sound of the whistle should rarely differ in timing, probably milliseconds. If we get the three whistle sound by referees the first sound of the whistle is the accepted end.
Now for me in soccer, unlike other sports that have split second timing such as basketball, football etc, the game should not have a timing issue of blowing to end the game with the ball in the air about to enter the goal. Some refs I know use an exacting system of stopping the watch for every stoppage and ending the game when the watch reaches zero no matter what is happening in the game.
The most infamous one of these was Brazil v Sweden in the 1978 WC when Referee Clive Thomas ended the game on a ball flighted into the goal area from a corner kick. Technically he was correct and I believe that he took exception to some shenanigans by Brazil players just before the kick which prompted him to end the game with the ball in the air. The ball was kicked at 45.06 so he could have ended some 5/6 seconds earlier which is my opinion he should have done.
For me the kick, if he was ending the game, should not have been allowed and there would have been little fuss about the decision had that happened. Once he allowed the kick he should have waited for the outcome which is a second or so. While he was 100% correct in law to disallow the goal the mechanics did not help the game and its outcome. I believe FIFA at the time did not take too kindly to the decision yet nothing could be done so the game ended 1-1.

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