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Question Number: 33684

Law 8 - The Start and Restart of Play 10/1/2019

RE: AYSO Under 13

Stewart Hamasu of Honolulu, Haswaii USA asks...

AYSO refs are volunteers, usually parents. I was 'trained' by AYSO certified referee trainer, but never played the game growing up. Therefore, learning as we ref, is difficult. I recently had a situation where my AR called an offside. I blew the whistle, but in checking with the AR found that the offside player was not involved nor obstructed the goalie. I read that the correct restart would have been a dropped ball. But not knowing the game enough, I awarded them an indirect kick since the person was on a breakaway and likely to score. So I felt out of fairness, they should have possession of the ball. Although with the new rule change, since they had possession of the ball, on the dropped ball situation, they would still be awarded the ball on the restart, correct?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Stewart
Three points here from me.
On the offside decision the question is whether the PIOP interfered with play or an opponent or not. From your description it reads like perhaps there was no offside offence. That should have been talked about in the pre match discussion with the ARs that the flag should not be raised until the PIOP clearly interferes by touching the ball or interferes with an opponent. The CR has the final ultimate decision and if it was clear to the referee that the player who played the ball was not offside the flag should have been waved down.
For me if I take the offside flag then that is the decision. I do not think it is a good idea on offside to be revisiting a decision already made when play has been stopped and there is an offside possibility. Different if it was an obvious clear error with say a complete miscalculation. It over complicates the situation by going with a DB.
Now once the game was stopped there was only two options. One is an IDFK for offside or a dropped ball for an *inadvertent* whistle. It could not be an IDFK to the attacking team. As mentioned earlier I would not be second guessing the flag unless it was plainly in error. The AR flagged for offside and I assume there was a player in an offside position close to active play so offside was a possibility maybe even acknowledged by the team and the PIOP.
As to the dropped ball my colleagues have outlined the new mechanism for that restart. My opinion is that unless it is a game changing decision such as an incorrect penalty kick award or ruling out a goal or an obvious clear error agreed by all I would take the flag decision. Going with dropped balls such as on uncertainty as to who fouled in a challenge or who touched the ball last before going out of play is seen as indecision and weak officiating. I can assure you that plenty of questionable offside flags have been taken by countless referees over the years and that will continue.
I recall recently an AR flagging for an offside on a lone attacker who then decided to stop the chase when he saw the flag. An onside player some ten yards behind play noticed this and he decided to give chase while the defending team stopped for the flag. I took the flag and there was a bit of a moan that it could not be offside due to the onside player getting involved and maybe technically correct yet had the AR delayed the flag 2/3 seconds the PIOP would have certainly played the ball. The game restarted with an IDFK to the defending team.
Similarly in another game an AR flagged for offside where there was a PIOP some 2 yards behind the defender in a clear offside position. To the AR it looked like the PIOP was close enough to interfere with an opponent yet there was also a question mark about it as she was behind the defender not really challenging. The defender was challenged immediately by another onside player from the front and the option to turn was not really available due to the PIOP. Again I took the flag with no complaint. Was it offside? Maybe not yet there was a doubt hence the offside flag.
In both instances there was a technical argument about no offside yet also maybe sufficient to call. Once taken that was the end of the matter. Both instances were discussed with the ARs after the game.
To round this off I recall an offside flag in a recent game that I did not take as I knew it could not be offside due to the way play unfolded and a goal was scored. I spoke with the AR who confirmed my thinking that his flag was incorrect. Many times we just have to accept the way the decision gets made unless it is blatantly wrong. Indeed on some offside calls I have seen flags waved down that were good calls by the AR.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Stewart,
You are correct that under the current (2019/20) Laws of the Game, a dropped ball should go to the team that last touched the ball, unless the ball was in the penalty area, in which case it goes to the defending team goalkeeper.

Ref Dawson has quoted the exact wording of the law for your reference.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Stewart
welcome to the rank of the B#@&$%!s in Black, though we wear all sorts of colors nowadays!
It is good to see involvement by the parents but yes, it is difficult to referee a game you might never have played, so your learning curve will be steep . That said, your INDFK was incorrect and your reflection about the drop ball is correct but with provisions. The drop ball for the incorrect whistle under FIFA LOTG, you now have it right although one might hope the breakaway had not yet reached the opposing penalty area because then the attacker lose out just as if the INDFK for offside HAD been awarded

Although the drop ball was technically correct our colleague Ref McHugh points out how much a weak decision could affect a match. For instances you WANTED to award the INDFK to the attackers but under the LOTG you COULD not as it is not the correct restart for an inadvertent whistle. It MUST be a drop! And more importantly, if you DiD award the attackers a drop ball inside the PA not knowing you CAN NOT, it could be grounds for an appeal, because it is an incorrect restart same for an attacking INDFK. So while a drop to the keeper is going to seem weird and a drop to the attackers in not allowed in the PA where as an INDFK for an offside that maybe incorrect, in there was iffy involvement, it is likely accepted easier because that is the expected restart and as an opinion it can not undone whereas the wrong drop location or attacking free kick might!

FIFA Quote
The ball is dropped for the defending team goalkeeper in their penalty area if, when play was stopped:

the ball was in the penalty area or the last touch of the ball was in the penalty area

In all other cases,
the referee drops the ball for one player of the team that last touched the ball at the position where it last touched a player, an outside agent or, as outlined in Law 9.1, a match official

All other players (of both teams) must remain at least 4 m (4.5 yds) from the ball until it is in play.
End quote

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