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Question Number: 32651

Mechanics 8/16/2018

RE: rec Under 19

gary of nashua, nh usa asks...

If I put the whistle to my mouth (for instance, because someone took a quick dive)-am I obliged to blow it?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Gary
No the referee is not obliged to blow the whistle just because he raises it to his mouth. A lot can happen in the seconds between something happening and the decision to whistle.
It is however likely to be noticed by one or both of the teams who may feel that the referee was going to make a decision yet for whatever reason changed his mind.
I have on occasion thought about making a call, raised the whistle and then at the last moment decided that there was no need to make a decision so I did not whistle. Sometimes that was picked up by a player who then complained about the no call citing the fact I was going to whistle but chose otherwise.
Sometimes it worked out advantageously. I recall an incident where I was about to blow for a foul and I raised the whistle to blow just to see the fouled player move forward to take a shot and score. I was praised by a player for the great advantage after not blowing the whistle I had raised. More good fortune than an advantage decision!

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Gary,
players call them halfers.
It looks like you were going to blow then changed your mind.
To the aggrieved team or player who was maybe inconvenient or slightly fouled they will choose to believe you lack guts.
To the other team it will look indecisive but they will be glad you did not stop play especially because they may feel they got away with one.
In most cases it causes a lack of respect if it causes anything at all . I work very hard at keeping the whistle away from my mouth as if velcro along my side so I have to break it free before I can blow it. The delay is always a good idea to evaluate possibilities of advantage or outcome, just not so long that it appears the team screaming for the foul is not having the other believing it was their whining that got them the call.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Gary,
You are not obliged to blow the whistle in this situation. However as my colleagues have said, it can easily make the referee look indecisive and possibly even lacking in gumption. The team that would have got the foul if you had blown will feel aggrieved and will often complain. For these reasons it is preferable to avoid doing this if possible, though this is difficult.

I think virtually all referees have been guilty of doing this at times (I certainly have) and I have seen even top-level referees do it in televised matches. So I wouldn't feel too bad about it if it does happen. Perhaps a slight hesitation before blowing can be helpful but of course you don't want to leave it too late either so it's a fine line to tread.

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