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Question Number: 33642

High School 9/10/2019

RE: Rec/Competitive Under 19

Jason C of La Crosse, WI USA asks...

There was the following sequence of events in a local high school game: a violent collision between an attacking player and the keeper in which there was no foul committed - the ref said it was a 50/50 ball, a rebound after the players went down injured, a shot and a goal, and then a whistle. It all happened very quickly.

The referee ultimately ruled that play stopped due to injury prior to the goal, even though he blew his whistle after the goal. Do you have to allow the goal, since play wasn't whistled dead until after it was scored, or can you go back and say play stopped whenever, upon reflection, you wanted it to stop?

This was a US high school game, so NFHS rules govern, but I'm interested in what the IFAB rules say (or don't say) as well. Thanks

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

As Referee Grove mentions the decision to stop is made by the referee and the whistle is the signal of that. There will be a fraction of a second difference between both yet most times it makes no difference except in the case of a late whistle for whatever reason
In this instance as described the referee in my opinion made the decision fit the circumstances. My take on it was he may not have wanted to award a foul which more than likely was against the goalkeeper with all that entailed or he was not sure who fouled and he also did not want to award a goal. So the get out of jail card was that he had stopped play for an injury? If that really was the reason sure the goal stopped play as well. A whistle for the goal is as easy as a whistle to stop play!
I recall a few seasons ago as an AR a defender heading an opponent in the head, the ball fell to another attacker who dispatched the ball instantly to the net. The defender had dropped to the ground just as the ball was being shot towards goal. The defender had a deep wound above his eye. Physios rushed on to treat him and he was removed from the game and substituted. It was certainly a reason to stop play yet the goal stopped play. After the player was removed the game correctly restarted with a kick off.
Now in your instance had play continued on for a period or had been likely to do so then stopping the game was in order.
In this instance I assume the restart was an IDFK to the attacking team as per NFHS rules?
So the answer is that technically the decision is made by the referee and the whistle is the signal of that. The key part is the decision not the signal of that. I suspect the referee knew that when he ruled out the goal to go with an injury stoppage.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jason,
Play is not considered to be stopped only when the whistle sounds, it is considered to be stopped when the referee has made their mind up to stop it. Consider the scenario that ref Dawson alludes to, where the referee decides to stop play but then fumbles with the whistle and drops it. Just because the whistle did not sound yet, it does not mean everything that happens in the intervening period before the referee recovers the whistle and blows it, is a legal and valid part of play.

Certainly the mechanics are a little unfortunate here - it would have been much better and much less controversial if the referee had managed to blow the whistle before the ball crossed the line but the fact remains that if the referee had already made the decision to stop play before the goal was scored, he is fully justified in ruling it out.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Jason,
time is stopped when we hear the whistle as a general rule of thumb. Way less controversy. This is true in high school and in FIFA . What might be different is the restart, a contested drop ball or a simple drop to the keeper?

HOWEVER, that said,
IF the REFEREE is the sole timekeeper and if he is willing to lay his reputation on the line & to say he had stopped play but had not yet whistled, pea in the whistle stuck, he dropped the whistle , a dry mouthful of crackers, he was stunned by the event or was ran into and given a knock thus late reacting, time had expired but he did not check his watch or he simply did not have time to whistle because it was a bang bang play, he has the authority to declare play dead at the time of his choosing. .

I watched a very similar incident in a shot from right in front of goal. Just hammered the keeper in the head, snapped the neck back, down he went, ball pops out and is blasted into the net as the whistle sounds just behind it. No one questioned the stoppage albeit the goal COULD have stood given the ball had completely crossed the goal line under the crossbar between the posts before the whistle sounded . The referee IMMEDIATELY had sought to stop play recognizing the head injury as potentially serious.

Even if the collision was not deemed a foul, although generally keeper/outfield player collisions are VERY contentious, if the potential for a serious injury was apparent and it was a bang bang play, the injury stoppage is a valid excuse. If the referee had stated or indicated publicly 50 50 play on and a goal resulted., ONLY THEN he realizes, 'Oh Oh I SHOULD have stopped play! THEN to NOT award the goal is actually incorrect even if he CAN sell the injury as a reason for the stoppage to alleviate guilt.

The key here is believability and the quicker the bang bang is the easier the sell. For me if there was no foul and the ball winds up in the goal that in all likely hood no one could have prevented it under any circumstances. I likely award the goal and then tend to the injury before kick off. With perhaps a review with my ARs to ensure we did not miss anything that could or should have nullified that goal like a free kick out.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

In high school games, the safety of participants is a prime consideration. That is the reason for NFHS rule 7-4-1 which states that the clock shall be stopped for an injury which indicates that play shall also be stopped.

In the situation that you described, the injury occurred before the goal, so I believe the referee was correct in stopping the play and not allowing the goal.

Because the whistle was sounded after the ball entered the goal, I can understand why it should seem like the goal should count. However, it does take time for a referee to react. In this case the referee was watching the play, an injury occurring and then blowing the whistle so that it is understandable that the whistle did come after the ball entered the goal.

It is up to the referee to decide if the injury did occur before the goal and make the decision to allow or disallow the goal. In this case, he ruled that the injury occurred first.

I hope that you have a very successful fall season.

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