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Question Number: 32869

High School 11/7/2018

RE: High School

Ryan of Elizabeth, Pennsylvania United States asks...

Last night in Erie, it was a very windy night during the PIAA first round playoff games. So windy that if the ball was placed on the turf for any type of free kick, it would begin to blow and roll. The boys figured it out to kick quickly and dealt with it all night long. UNTIL, late in the game when I watched a free kick take place in which another player, other than the kicker, held the ball like a field goal with this finger until the player was able to put a good strike on the ball. I say this is completely illegal and the subsequent goal that was scored due to the high winds should not have counted. What say you? And what rule backs this up either way?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ryan
Rules and Laws do not make provision for outlier situations.
In many ways though I would say that there was no rule that was infringed in a sense that the hand was more than likely removed from the ball before it was kicked and put into play. That was in my opinion the only possible rule infraction yet as the ball was not in play until the ball was kicked that was not a possibility.
Now that highlights for me timing of the kick. It is not unusual for a player say to place the ball with the hand and immediately kick the ball at a free kick. I have seen this done in a flash where the hand is no sooner off the ball and it is kicked. It never gets a mention. I have seen goalkeepers use one hand to spot the ball at a quick goal kick and to have the ball away with a kick almost in the same motion.
So I doubt if any benefit or playing advantage was gained by doing this and in fact it took an opponent out of play until after the kick.
I think that had a foot been used it would not have raised the same question. On balance I would say that there was nothing to prevent the goal being awarded. It does point though as Referee Grove opines as to whether the wind was so strong that the game could be played properly? That is a question for the referee on the night.
It somewhat reminds me of rugby kicks before the use of ball tees were introduced. It was not unusual to see a player finger hold the ball to allow the kick to be taken.
Here is one where it was so windy that the ball would not even sit on the tee
There is no kicking advantage here and the player holding the ball has not done anything other than assist in getting the kick taken with the game continuing.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Ryan,
we used to use a small circular pony tail ring out of nylon you could place the ball on it in generally stayed long enough to kick even in harsh winds. It the CR accepted it then what is to be done? I would prefer the foot to be used as it could be said the kick and the finger as deliberate handling of putting the ball in play but. your match your decision Your Reputation.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Ryan,
If it was so windy that dead ball kicks could not be taken properly then I would say there is an argument for the game to be abandoned. When it comes to free kicks for instance, NFHS Rule 13, Section 3 specifies that, ''The ball shall be kicked while it is stationary on the ground ...'' If it was impossible to comply with this requirement, it could be said that the game would have to be terminated at that point.

However, that would be a big step to take and if the wind was not making normal play completely impossible, most referees would probably try to find some way to let the game continue. However, in order to do this, some sort of solution has to be found for the dead ball situation problem.

Although as my colleagues have said, it would probably be less problematic to have a player use their foot to hold the ball in place, that would bring its own logistical problems and I'm not sure I'd agree that keeping the ball stationary (as the rules require) by using the finger is completely illegal.

Depending on which restart we're taking about, the rules say that the ball is in play when it ''move[s] in any direction'' or ''when it is kicked and moves.'' Now we all know that it is not an offence to handle the ball while it is not in play, so if the finger is only in contact with the ball up to the point at which it moves (and so only while it is not in play) then no rule has been broken.

There would only be a problem if the finger was still in contact with the ball after it had already moved, so if the player holding it were careful to avoid this, such a manoeuvre would be legal. Of course it doesn't look particularly good - and it would be difficult for the referee to judge the exact instant at which the ball moves and at which the finger is no longer touching the ball.

However, the alternative to not finding a way to permit the kicks to be taken, would be to abandon the game, which as I say, would be a drastic measure to take and probably best avoided if the game can go on without it becoming too much of a farce.

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