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Question Number: 32087

Other 12/10/2017

RE: Competive High School

Aadrian of Conway, AR United States asks...

At the high school football state championship game a fan from the opposing team ran out on the field with 3 seconds left in the game and the refs gave them a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty! They also added 9 seconds to the clock as well; is this the correct call?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Adrian
If your question relates to Football then I am afraid you are on a soccer only site
In a soccer game one of the challenges facing official is determining what happened in outlier events and the timing. In such a situation in a soccer game while there might be three seconds left on the clock the actual interference may have happened some time previously and brought to the referees attention. By the time the clock was stopped some 9 seconds could easily have elapsed. The referee would be entitled to go back to the time of the original interference and correct the game clock if it was not stopped.
As to the restart if one player was in control of the ball at the time of the temporary suspension the game is restarted with an indirect free kick for the team in clear possession of the ball at the location the ball was at the time of the temporary suspension.
In a FIFA game the restart would be a dropped ball from where the ball was when play was stopped and any lost time would be added on.
As a general comment match officials in high levels games generally get calls correct from a rule book perspective.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Aadarian,
15 yard penalty? Hmm sounds like a pointy ball question not a soccer question? We deal with football aka soccer not NFL or CFL situations. That said a referee who reverses time does it on the fact the event creating the penalty occurs earlier than before play could be stopped so in fairness perhaps they play the time wasted, over. I do know a fan is a bit different than a player or team member so I can not quite grasp why the team they supported gets penalized unless that is something stated in the bylaws of the game. In soccer we have an outside agent affecting play as a drop ball neutral restart.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


Although this is a soccer and not a football site, I can answer your question since I also have officiated football.

A spectator running onto the field is unsportsmanlike conduct and a 15 yard penalty against the spectator's team. Sometime it is difficult to tell what team the spectator is supporting so that no penalty can be given. However, often the spectator comes from the sideline of their team, which most likely occurred at your game, so that the 15 yard penalty was correct. The spectator should also have been ejected from the stadium, and, most likely, will face action from the school. I know parents that have been banned from attending future games, even in future years, for running onto a field or court, or causing some other type of disturbance.

As for putting time on the clock, the parent may have actually entered the team area (not the field) with 9 seconds remaining. Please note that the actual unsportsmanlike foul occurred when the parent entered the team area prior to moving onto the field. Whatever the call, the actual foul, according to the officiating crew, must have occurred with 9 seconds on the clock.

I hope that helps and that your team won.

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