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Question Number: 33203

High School 4/2/2019

RE: Varsity High School

Andreas Miller of Indianola, Iowa United States asks...

I need some help with NFHS rules referring to a disputed goal. I also know that some high school rules vary according to state, so I figured I'd tell you that this occurred in Iowa.

Here's the scenario: It was a high school game and we were about 2 minutes into overtime. The opposing team took a shot, which hit the crossbar and went straight down and bounced in front of the goal line (at least in my teams opinion). Our keeper picked it up and the center ref, after looking at the corresponding side ref, verbally shouted 'no goal' and continued play. Approximately a minute and a half later, the ref took the opportunity of a dead ball and went back to consult with the side ref and reversed his decision; the goal was given and the game was ended (due to sudden victory rule).

It is my understanding that a ref cannot reverse a decision that has been made unless it is done so immediately. The fact that we played on and he went back to change the decision is my main point of concern. Is that allowed? If not, can we challenge that team for a rematch?

Thank you for your time.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Andreas,
side ref??
Is this a match with two centers or a 3 person diagonal or is there more including goal line AARs? Whether or not there was 2 or 4 or more officials offering neutral input the issue here is one of very poor mechanics with an astoundingly bad reversal of opinion after a public outcry that will lead to thoughts such as yours. .

Play was not stopped or restarted, it simply continued unabated , after the shout from the CR until it was stopped for whatever reason. There was consultation and the goal awarded as the other referee or neutral officials MUST have CLEARLY seen the ball had in fact completely crossed the goal line and that the CR perhaps misread the communication signal? A referee can use neutral information to change a decision as long as play had NOT restarted . Key point, although the CR credibility is certainly going to be under scrutiny given he already decided to let play continue when he was looking at it, play was NEVER stopped or restarted . . .

A referee is certainly not permitted to change his decision after a restart but given there was only a delay, not a stoppage until a minute late but no restart, the rules allow the goal to stand.

We have NO idea what signal or reasoning the CR used to state NO goal! out loud. I have pointed the wrong way or shouted out a restart to the wrong color a time or too and have reversed an immediate decision to award or not award a goal based on additional neutral info from colleagues ARs or AARs or 4th offical.

Given he PUBLICLY announced NO GOAL his decision to eventually award the goal later must be based on the information from the other referees he accepts as correct. It is certainly important to get the decision correct! No matter why he said what he did it was only the talk at that next stoppage that convinced him he was incorrect and he will have to live with the flack he created.

A CR who is unsure if the ball did cross should have CONFIRMED 100% with colleagues a good goal or not before stating ANYTHING if unsure!

I might protest on general principle but only if the decision was reversed on the say of non neutral input. I have a feeling it is a done deal, in as much as it might hurt.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Andreas
The mechanics of this decision is the only problem that I have with the call. Had the decision been made instantly, which it should have been, then the debate would have been whether the ball crossed the goal line or not which is a judgement call. In this situation the side referee should have signalled for the clock to stop immediately and moved towards half way to the kick off position to confirm a goal.
In a recent game that I officiated there was also a disputed hair-line goal decision. I looked across at the lead AR and he gave the goal signal immediately including the correct movement up the touchline which caused me to whistle for the goal to be awarded instantly. It did cause a furore with the conceding team with a few cautions yet I dread to think what would have happened had I allowed play to continue for a lengthy period and then go back to award the goal sometime *later*, even if correct in Law.
Now I suspect what happened here was that the centre referee decided to NOT award the goal without looking at the lead assistant or that if he did look the assistant did not give or know the goal signal which then caused play to continue until the next stoppage. At that stoppage the referee was informed by his assistant that the ball had in fact crossed the line in which case the referee was entitled / obliged to award the goal. Had play restarted in the intervening period such as a free kick, throw in, goal kick etc the referee could not go back to that goal decision,
Now I suspect as well in the discussion between the two match officials when the ball was dead that the assistant was probably adamant that the ball crossed the goal line in which case the referee had only two choices which was to overrule his assistant to say he was wrong or accept the information. Given the relative positions on the FOP the referee may not have been better placed to tell his colleague he was wrong so he awarded the goal.
Ultimately the referee and his assistant did what was *correct* once it was opined that a goal was scored.
In the English Premier League official use goal line technology for these situations. In the highly unlikely event that the technology failed with play continuing to the next stoppage and then it was shown that the ball in fact crossed the line the only possible decision would be to award a goal.
There should be no reason to doubt the integrity of the match officials here to award the goal based on what the side referee saw. Poor mechanics caused the issue. Had the mechanics been better here the opinion of whether the ball crossed the line would have been the only question.
In summary I doubt if there if there was a misapplication of the rules based on the description of what happened.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


I have refereed in Iowa and know that Iowa does follow NFHS rules.

The referee can change a decision prior to starting play after the first stoppage. It appears that this is exactly what the referee did in your game.

The NFHS rule reference that indicates this is: Rule 5-2 on page 31 of the current NSHS Rule Book.

I hope the remainder of your season is successful

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