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Question Number: 32346

Law 5 - The Referee 4/1/2018

RE: Semi pro Adult

Steven watson of Aberdeen, United kingdom asks...

Referee blows HT whistle, as we are walking off the pitch the referee books our player for a foul made just before the whistle. The ref didnt give the foul or indicate an advantage at the time he just blew for half time. Is this allowed

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steven
As described this does not read correct and it is poor mechanics. I could see other reasons for a caution here including dissent which can be dealt with after the half or the game has been ended. Ending a half or the game on a foul is rarely if ever seen and with a caution to boot? I believe the referee should have dealt with the foul and caution before ending the half if that is what transpired. The referee does not have to go with a restart after the caution although I think that if play restarts it takes away the need for any question and any doubt about the decision.
The Laws on tells us that a decision cannot be changed after the half or the games has been ended. To quote the relevant law.
The referee may not change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or on the advice of another match official if play has restarted or the referee has signalled the end of the first or second half (including extra time) and left the field of play or terminated the match.
So it would not be expected by the law makers that play would end with a caution for a foul issued after ending the half so the law is mute on this. I could perhaps envisage an unusual situation of a late challenge just as the half time whistle sounds. Referee Grove makes a good point in that the player should not benefit from not receiving a caution on a reckless foul just because a half ends. Technicalities while important should not override match control by allowing reckless challenges to go unsanctioned.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Steven,

RefMcHugh makes an important point here. If the player committed a foul, the referee needs to identify that - either by stopping play and signalling a foul, or applying advantage.

Now, it may be that the foul occurred around the time when the referee wanted to blow for halftime, so he's just decided to forego the process of a foul and a free kick and gone to halftime. If so, then I'd argue he shouldn't be cautioning for that foul as he's effectively claimed that there is no foul - that it's just halftime. If it was serious enough for a card, it was serious enough to be addressed properly.

However, the laws also permit the referee to change their mind prior to the restart of play. So I think the referee's actions are still legal - for instance, if the AR told the referee about something serious that occurred, the referee could card for that despite not awarding a foul during play. I'd say it's more that the referee just hasn't gone around it in the best manner. At the end of the day, had he blown for a foul, cautioned the player then blown for halftime it doesn't make any practical difference, though that would have been the more correct process and makes it clearer what's happening.

Unless of course there was dissent or something occurring as the player was walking off.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Steven,
I agree that it would probably have been better for the referee to indicate the foul in some way before cautioning the player and ending the half. Having said that, if your player has committed a foul that merits a caution, they should still receive that caution, even though the foul was committed right as the half was ending. Technically, the caution is still valid as far as I'm aware, even if the referee's mechanics were not the best.

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