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Question Number: 33257

Mechanics 4/17/2019

RE: Under 18

don of houston, tx usa asks...

this is causing some debate on another refereeing discussion forum (this is fake name and location btw), would like your take

i tell ARs in my pregame and make every attempt to not contact the ball if it goes out near them. dont stick a leg out to stop it, dont try to catch it, even if its rolling to your feet, open your legs and let the ball go.

yeah if its a tournament with a lot of fields the ball can interfere with and a limited half length with no stoppage, ill have them stop the ball. but any other time, the risk of having a fast restart occur and the AR being caught out of position or getting claims of bias for stopping the ball, or stopping some balls but not others, i want to avoid that headache (as ive actually had fast restart goals occur which led me to doing this) and just tell my ARs to never stop any balls... its much better to be universally one way than doing some stuff sometimes in my opinion

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Don
It is not covered in the advice in the Laws of the Game and for me there are two answers here. At the highest level it does not happen. ARs do not get involved with the ball and avoid it as best they can.There no need to with multi ball systems, ball retrieval etc. At lower levels context is everything. Your pre match instructions are your prerogative alone and if your advice is to ARs to not touch or stop the ball so be it. I personally do not have a problem with that.
For me common sense has to also prevail at lower levels of the game . I see little benefit in an AR dummying a ball that has already gone out of play and not allowing the ball to hit him. Yes I get the part of not being accused of assisting a quick restart through recovering the ball yet if it looks like it hits the AR and there is no seen assistance so be it. As long as the AR does not go out of their way to stop / retrieve it is not a big issue.
I have seen ARs leave / enter the FOP to recover balls for throw ins, goal kicks etc. It does not look good yet I am not sure anyone was too bothered about it in those instances Yes if it led to a quick restart yet the times I have seen it happen where in the interest of courtesy and helping to restart play it was done with no one bothered or remarking on it other than maybe the ref crew.
I myself have in past kicked a ball that ended beside me back to a GK who is slowly walking out to retrieve it. I have seen *old hand* players speak unkindly to ARs who allowed a ball to go past them resulting in a lengthy retrieval and delay.
So being in the way of a ball is no big deal and it can be just common courtesy done in way that helped the game not done to advantage any team. If it is a regular occurrence it may mean though that the AR may not be focussed on his task which is watching what is going on around him which is the more important part.
Now I believe an AR can make it look innocuous rather than it being perceived as an AR deliberately helping one team to get a fast restart.
We have all been in situations where the ball goes on forever after leaving the FOP. In one ground there is a running track on the perimeter and both teams are always glad when the ball is *stopped* by whatever means which prevents a lengthy ball retrieval exercise.
So context is everything. By all means an AR should not assist a quick restart and at the same time not be oblivious to what is going on that it makes little difference if the ball is stopped. If the ball is kicked 50 yards and the AR is on his own with no quick restart possible is anyone bothered if the AR stopped it to prevent a lengthy ball retrieval exercise. If it looks like the AR ran after a ball to pass it to a thrower which advantages that team then yes it does matter.
For what it is worth I have never seen this being raised as an issue in all the games I have been involved in both as referee and assistant nor games that I viewed other than the thrower getting miffed about a lengthy retrieval that could have been averted. That was more about laziness on behalf of the player rather than gaining an advantage.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Don ,
my colleague has given such an informative answer there is little to add. ARs should indeed not be exerting themselves to stop the ball as it exits the FOP. Common sense is not always common. Justification to lend a leg is easier if the competition demands are less just as multiple balls its not a consideration . Although I doubt you get too much flack if the one & only game ball ball was headed into the nearby creek, or the forest or the rolling ball down the long hill into the highway. That said your point is as to why you should not, are well founded You are correct in thinking it CAN be a distraction , inferred as favoritism & lead to an unexpected advantage. I certainly am on board in not running to retrieve it, but opening your leg to avoid an unchallenged ball that no one was going to get to for a while might seem like a putz move. Best position yourself as AR to avoid being where the ball exits if you can, but if it hits you or bounces into your face be sure you are NOT keeping it in play by being too near the touchline, THAT, can really tick the other team off . lol

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