Entries related to Law 9 – Ball In Play

Question:
When is the referee authority end? Does it end as soon as he whistles the end of the game? We had a game when the referee blew his whistle 3 times to signify the end of the game while a ball was still in the air. After the whistle was blown, the girls stop playing and the ball continued into the net. The referee then signified no goal and then changed it to a goal. The tournament head referee said it was a bad call, but upheld the goal. So how can that be if the referee duties and authority are over as soon as he blows the whistle.

Can he then change his mind, but he doesn’t have any authority at that point. Nonetheless that the call shouldn’t have been a goal since he indicated the game was over. His excuse was he accidently blew his whistle. You don’t accidently blow your whistle three times. Just looking for some clarification.

USSF answer (January 16, 2012):
This is not a case of the referee’s authority — which ends when he has left the environs of the field, not as soon as the final whistle is blown. Rather , it is a case of poor refereeing and a particularly uninformed decision by the “tournament head referee.”

By tradition, custom, and practice, the referee’s whistle brings the game to a complete and immediate halt, whether the period of play is over or not. If the ball is in the air at that moment, life is hard, but no goal can be scored, no matter that the whistle was blown “accidentally.”

Question:
Does the ball have to leave the area on every free kick? For example: Offside is called and the ball is in the area coming out. I play the ball to a teammate who is also in the area. Is this legal? Or, my keeper makes a save and he rolls the ball to me and I am in the area, can I collect it or does it have to leave the area.

USSF answer (November 2, 2009):
You have actually asked two completely different questions. We will rephrase them and answer each separately.

1. Must a free kick taken by the kicking team from within its own penalty area leave the penalty area to be in play? The answer is yes. If the ball does not leave the penalty area and enter the remainder of the playing field directly, the kick must be retaken.

2. If the goalkeeper makes a save in his/her own penalty area and then releases (rolls, throws, or kicks) the ball to a teammate who is inside the penalty area, may the teammate play the ball? The answer is yes.

Question:
After many years of being a very involved parent with rec, select and high school soccer matches and a parent of certified referees I have never encountered what I witnessed on 5/11/2009 at a high school play-off match and I am seeking the law or rule which governs a center referees actions. During the match, the scoreboard clock was halted many times during the match, but predominatly during the 2nd half every time the ball was turned over due to out of bounds play and any other time the center would signal the clock/scorekeeper.

The half ended up being around 55 minutes ending with a tie, there was a 5 minute overtime and still tied, then there was another 5 minute overtime, of which only 4 minutes of play was allowed and the center halted the match and immediately went into a shoot-out. I am concerned that there was an injustice to the outcome of the game. I know there is a lot of discretion given to the center referee during a match regarding how to apply the different laws, but I also know there are parameters of a match that are not meant to be discretionary in nature. Is there any recourse or appeal that can be made to make things right? Looking forward to your response.

USSF answer (May 12, 2009):
We don’t do high school rules here, but we can give you some idea of how timekeeping is handled in that game. It differs considerably from the game of soccer as played throughout the rest of the world.

NFHS rules require that the clock be stopped after a goal (until the kick-off occurs), for an injury (but only if signaled by the referee), whenever a card is given, and at the taking of a penalty kick.  We are not aware of any other clock stoppage events.  The referee is supposed to signal (arms crossed at the wrist above the head) all such events, but the timekeeper is supposed to stop the clock automatically for after goals and for penalty kicks — only the referee knows if/when the injury requires time be stopped or if/when he will give a card, so the referee’s signal is needed in these cases.  The timekeeper restarts the clock only when the ball is legally put back into play (though often an uneducated timekeeper restarts when the referee signals for the restart).  The referee has the authority to order a clock readjusted if it is seriously out of synch with the referee’s time.  A stadium clock MUST be used as the official time if (a) there is a stadium clock and (b) it works.  It is common, however, for there to be some sort of announcement via the public address system (or for the state association to permit) at some point near the end of the half that “official time” is being kept on the field and the clock is stopped, say, with 5 minutes remaining.

REFEREE AND PLAYER EQUIPMENT

November 17, 2008

Question:
I was watching a game on TV from England’s premier league and was surprised to see a player with a diamond on each ear lobe during the whole game. I’m concluding the center referee didn’t care about this infraction because it was obvious that four officials couldn’t possible have missed this glaring jewelry. I suppose he thought it was not hazardous.

It was demeaning to the game to see a player in repeated closeups flashing his elegance right at the referee team. Then I thought assisting the assigned referee does not mean capitulation to his peculiar whims. So, what course is available to the assistant referees and fourth official? Can they refuse the assignment until the center referee gives way or should they just take it in stride and report it in their game report?

USSF answer (November 17, 2008):
The longer we live, the more we see — and the more we notice that both players and referees sometimes flout the Laws of the Game, or at least fail to follow them clearly and logically.

No, the assistant referee and the fourth official may not boycott the game for referee failures of this sort. They can certainly make their observations known and must then cooperate with all instructions from the referee that do not cause the assistants or fourth official themselves to violate the Laws. If the failure by the referee is an egregious one, then the assistant(s) or fourth official should report it to the appropriate authorities.

Question:
This is a field equipment and out-of-play question. The field where I was AR at had portable goals with retractable wheels attached outside bottom side bar. During the course of the game, an on-the-ground shot was taken that hit the front of the wheel and rebounded back into play. I was well positioned to observe that the entire ball did not pass over the goal line, so I not raise my flag.

At half time, the center and I, both agreed that the wheel had prevented the ball from going out of play but neither of us were sure if the correct decision was for play to have continued. Comments?

USSF answer (July 17, 2008):
The answer is that the referee should not have allowed the goal to be used in the first place. However, once accepted by the referee, the wheel becomes part of the goal post and thus is part of the field, a pre-existing condition that does not benefit one team over the other. This makes it different from the football crossbar, which is easily seen as not part of the soccer goal structure. Therefore, because the wheel was part of the goal structure and the referee and the players were all aware that the wheel was there (and thus aware of the possible problems that might occur), then it was correct to allow play to continue.

PENALTY KICK OR ?

June 16, 2008

Question:
I was the center ref in a boys under-12 match. An orange defender and a white attacker were side by side chasing the ball and entered the PA at full speed. I was trailing the play and observed the white attacker take a shot. I followed the flight of the ball and seemingly at the moment it passed over the goal line, the orange defender took down the attacker with a hip. It did not appear intentional but more a consequence of the pair’s momentum. I called a PK, but later I considered the position of the ball at the time of the foul. If it had already passed the goal line, and was therefore out of play, would the correct procedure have been a misconduct on orange (yellow, not red since I didn’t consider it serious foul play) and restart with a goal kick?

USSF answer (June 16, 2008):
If the ball had left the field — only you can judge that, not us — then it was out of play. If the ball was out of play, then no penalty kick could be awarded. If the act was not deliberate, then nothing should have been done to punish the orange attacker or his team; no caution, no send-off, nothing. Restart with a goal kick. And if the ball had been out of play, it could not have been serious foul play, because players cannot contest a ball that is out of play.

Question:
I was recently refereeing a recreational U14 Coed game as an AR. A player during the course of play stepped completely over the touch line and kicked a ball that was still in play. The center referee blew his whistle and called for a throw in, not because the ball had passed completely over the touch line but because the player had left the field of play to prevent the ball from crossing the touch line. I had a discussion with the center referee in which I contended that a player was allowed to step completely beyond the touch line in the course of play. The laws of the game seem pretty clear that a throw in is only called when the ball completely passes the plane of the outside of the touch line.

Who is correct? Are there any rules that prohibits a player from temporarily leaving the field during the course of play?

Answer (October 9, 2007):
The referee may not stop the game to award a throw-in until the ball has left the field completely. If the ball had not left the field when the player touched it, then this was a referee error.

As to the act of leaving the field to play the ball, we answered that question as far back as 2001, but it is worth answering it again, just so everyone is aware of it. See the just-published 2007 edition of the USSF publication “Advise to Referees on the Laws of the Game, section 3.9, which says:
QUOTE
3.9 LEAVING THE FIELD IN THE COURSE OF PLAY
If a player accidentally passes over one of the boundary lines of the field of play or if a player in possession of or contesting for the ball passes over the touch line or the goal line without the ball to beat an opponent, he or she is not considered to have left the field of play without the permission of the referee. This player does not need the referee’s permission to return to the field.
END OF QUOTE

Those are the only cases in which a player would normally leave the field without the referee’s permission and live to play again. There might be others, but those would be at the discretion of the referee.

Your referee would seem not to have read any edition of the Advice (1998, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2006), much less the new one.

Categories: Law 9 - Ball In Play

BALL IN OR OUT OF PLAY

September 12, 2007

Question:
This may seem like an obvious question. I have been a referee for many years and I always believed that a ball is not out on the touch line unless no part of the ball is touching the line.

At a recent “A” division soccer tournament game that I was coaching, a veteran AR strongly insisted that the correct interpretation of the rule was that a ball is out if 3/4 of the ball is outside the touch line. He then proceeded to call approximately 20 balls out of which about half were still touching the line. Being a fellow referee, I did not make much of an issue of it at the game, other than to ask that he confirm the rule with the CR, which he did not.

Has FIFA recently altered the interpretation of when a ball is considered out?

Answer (September 12, 2007):
No, there has been no change. As long as any part of the ball breaks the vertical plane (we are talking outer side here) of the touchline, the ball is in play. Unfortunately, many “veteran” referees start coming up with their own rules. It beats reading the Laws each year.

Categories: Law 9 - Ball In Play