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Question Number: 32783

High School 10/8/2018

RE: High School High School

K Turner of Las Vegas, NV USA asks...

In our region we dont have an official high school timekeeper so we basically follow IFAB Laws with CR keeping time. Before accounting for any extra time (including an injury stop) the first half could have ended right at 40 minutes as a team was on a decent 3-on-3 attack about 25 yds out. I determined I would let the attack continue 20-30 seconds until they werent in a position to quickly shoot. The team passed the ball towards the corner followed by a long cross that sailed a few feet past the goal. I immediately raised the whistle to my mouth, judging that the time to mount another attack didnt justify prolonging the half. Unfortunately as the ball came down a defender tripped the attacker who was trying to trap the ball, so everyone expected a PK (which I agree had time not expired).
While Im confident I was within the Laws the way I called it, I felt this is not the way the players, coaches and fans (ie "the game of football") would have expected it to go. Some of my colleagues told me I should have simply blown at 40 minutes, but I just cant get myself to that point after all my playing and watching experience. So the real question is, if Im going to allow for a few seconds for the final attack, should I make sure that includes allowing a PK/DFK even though that will certainly push the half/game another minute past time?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI K Turner,
a bit of a head scratcher really, it truly depends on you & what you believe is fair as time is indeed relative and rarely to the micro second but I think I concur with your colleagues in this case.

In a match where the horn is not sounding to end the match & it is your whistle that ends it then keep this in mind it is as UNFAIR to extend the time as it is to shorten it. A team that has defended the duration expected should not be punished just because the ball is on the end of the oppositions foot at match end. .

WE certainly look to not end the match as the ball is entering the goal but if we are adding 30 extra seconds to continue an attack that seems to me a bit much if you had already decided the half was up? Although time is a bit flexible given balls constantly go in & out of play and some playing time is lost as one or the other team drags its feet in restarting or in chasing & recovering the ball. ONLY on a PK CAN you extend time past regulation.

We do look for a spot to end the match in a less controversial way at anytime but sometimes things are what they are. It is true you can decide to end the match as the ball was in the air and that the foul is after the fact . You are 100% correct in law but it leaves that unpleasant taste or aroma of something off. It simply works better for them to hear that whistle ENDING IT, then you saying I was just going to blow my whistle sorry!

My own take if I provide for a scoring opportunity to occur like a cross I wait to see if the ball is headed elsewhere then into or towards the goal. If I award a late PK I add a few seconds for a miss as well as a score for kick off. You need to be careful if you are thin on time before choosing to let play go on rather than just whistle play dead before anything occurs like this. I am more into letting the shot to get off than a series of passes or a development of play but if a series of rebounds seem glued to the attacking foot you just blow it dead if time is up. Remember you are a neutral timekeeper not one dedicated to see we get a goal in the last second if we just wait for outcomes.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

The NFHS rules say that, ''by mutual agreement of opposing coaches or by state high school association adoption, the official time may be kept by the head referee.''

And that, ''The official timer shall: [...] signal when time for a period has expired''

However it also says the official timer (in this case, the referee) should stop their timing device ''for an injury, for a penalty kick, for a caution, for a disqualification, following the scoring of a goal and when an official orders the clock to be stopped.''

If you have been stopping your watch for these reasons, then when it reaches 40 minutes you should already have made the necessary allowances and should signal the end of the half at that point.

So for me, the question is, had the full 40 minutes elapsed before the foul occurred, or not? Only you are the judge of that, so only you can make that call.

On the other point, if you have awarded the penalty kick then you do extend time to allow it to be taken.

NFHS Rule 7 states, ''A period shall end at the expiration of time. EXCEPTION: Play shall be extended beyond the expiration of a period, in regulation time and overtime, to permit a penalty kick to be completed.''

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

K Turner,

Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association high school games are not governed by IFAB laws, they are governed by NFHS High School Rules. As a high school referee, you should be aware of the rules of the games that you are working, and follow those rules.

NFHS Rule 6.2.1 on page 35 of your NFHS Rules Book states: 'The home school timer shall be the official timer. However, by mutual agreement of opposing coaches or by state high school adoption, the official time may be kept by the head referee.' This is the rule that allowed you to keep the time in your high school game.

NFHS Rule 7.1.4 on page 37 states: 'A period shall end at the expiration of time.' Simply put, your action of not sounding the whistle and stopping play when the time expired was contrary to the rules in the high school game that you were working. You are to sound the whistle when time expires no matter the situation or what you believe might happen. When time expires, the game is to end.

Hopefully, you have an NFHS rules book and will study it prior to officiating your next high school game. If you do not have an NFHS Soccer Rules Book, please contact the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association. Go to for their contact information.

I do hope you have a very successful remainder of the fall high school soccer season.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi K
Thanks for the question
One of the great difficulties that many referees struggle with is match timing. In the past I have tried to time games very accurately and all it takes is for one distraction to forget to restart my countdown timer after a stoppage. I am then left with my count up watch (always running) as to the amount of time already elapsed and a rough guess on the amount of time lost to that point.
In the absence of an official timer the referee has to take account of all the times that the timer has to be stopped for. The clock shall be stopped for an injury, for a penalty kick, for cautioning (yellow card), for disqualifications (red card), following the scoring of a goal and when a referee orders the clock be stopped.
In your game here I assume that there had to be time stoppages? The question was who much and in the absence of an exact amount it is then a guesstimate. FIFA allows for a guesstimate whereas NFHS does not.
So here you *found* 30 seconds over the 40 minutes which I assume was a guesstimate. It could have been another amount of time lost? When colleagues say blow up at 40 minutes they mean when the clock gets to 40 minutes taking into account all the times the clock is stopped the game MUST be stopped. That is what would happen if an official timer was present so the referee just acts in the same way.
So my advice is to time the game as expected in the rules. That requires discipline and training. I stopped my countdown for an injury in my game at the weekend and I forgot to restart it when play resumed. I was then left to the method of a rough estimate for injuries, time wasting, substitutions etc rather than an exact amount of time.
In NFHS when the clock gets to zero the game is over whereas in FIFA a few seconds can be found to see out a play.
If a penalty kick happens before the final whistle play is extended in both codes to allow the PK to be taken.

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