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Question Number: 32345

Law 15 - The Throw In 4/1/2018

RE: Adult

Pete of Birmingham, United Kingdom asks...

This question is a follow up to question 28262

If ball boys are not being used for retrieval of the ball, are they allowed to provide towels for players taking throw ins?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Pete
The referee must make a decision on it before kick off. If towels are being provided then the towels must be provided to both teams.
I recall it becoming an issue at one time at Stoke and the opponents began to take an inordinate length of time on throw ins while in the lead which began to cause problems for the game. I believe the delays ended up with the towels process being abandoned by Stoke. There was a suggestion of toweling being attached to the inside of jerseys yet that is questionable under the Laws and Law 4
It seems to have returned now to Stoke which may be fine until it gets abused by delaying the restart.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Pete,
This is one of those times when we consider the good of the game. If the laws are mute on something, we think about the spirit of the laws and the experience of the players. If, say, it's a slightly wet field than being able to quickly dry off the ball may well be beneficial for all concerned. Otherwise players are likely to try to wipe it with their shirt anyway.

As Ref McHugh said though, they need to be there for both teams if ball boys are providing them. Ball boys are there to be neutral, after all.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Pete,
This became a slightly controversial process a few years ago when, as ref McHugh mentions, Stoke were providing towels to their players to dry the ball on wet days. I'm not sure if there was an 'official' ruling on this but as I recall, the general opinion was that there is nothing specific that would preclude this so it should be allowable but if towels were provided, they should be available to both teams and should not be used to excessively delay the restart of play.

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