Dave, a HS and College referee, asks:
In a high school soccer match, a defensive player is hit in the face with the ball 30 yards from their goal. The ball pops over her head towards the goal. An attacker gains possession. Before the injured player sits down, her teammates rush over to her which gives an attacker a 1 v 1 with the goalie. The attacker scores a goal. This happens in the span of 5-10 seconds. Should the referee have stopped play for an injury before the goal was scored? (The play had continued a safe distance from the injured player.)
Do you typically wait a few seconds before stopping play for an injury when the ball is not near the injured player? The AR said the goal should be disallowed because the players were inexperienced and ran over to the injured teammate instead of defending their goal.
With as much emphasis that has been expressed in recent years regarding the importance of dealing quickly with potential concussion injuries, we are surprised that any referee would allow play to continue even seconds following a player being struck in the face with the ball. It doesn’t matter when in the game it occurs, it doesn’t matter where on the field it occurs, it doesn’t matter what is going on in the game when it occurs. it doesn’t matter if the injured player “sits down” – play must be stopped immediately and medical assistance for the player called onto the field without delay. No matter what happens after the decision is made to stop play, play has officially stopped – remember, play stops when the referee makes the decision to stop, not when the signal to stop is given.
Of course the goal should have been disallowed and any player who scored the goal should weigh her happiness at gaining a goal against the possibility that it might easily have been her face that had been struck by the ball. There is no difference whatsoever regarding this issue among the three major sets of rules governing the game because (a) every soccer organization is equally concerned about the issue of concussions and (b) it is a simple common sense emphasis on safety.
We don’t care who might get upset (if anyone actually does, shame on them!), if the referee announces that, Oh by the way, the goal does not count because I stopped play before the ball went into the net … and then glare fiercely at anyone who might want to dispute the decision. It has nothing to do with the experience level of the players – common decency alone would draw the attention of both attackers and defenders alike to the injured player. And there is no weight whatsoever to the idea that “play had continued a safe distance from the injured player,” in fact what constitutes a “safe distance” anyway? Far enough away that you could ignore the condition of the injured player? Let’s get real here.