I was an AR during a O30 match when the ball went in-touch on the far end of the field from me (in front of the attacker’s bench area). A defender went to retrieve the ball (perhaps thinking it was his team’s throw-in).
While the defender was retrieving the ball, an attacker picked up a free ball from his bench-area and quickly restarted with a throw-in. The ball was then played forward by an attacker to a teammate who would have been offside EXCEPT for the defender now returning from having retrieved the previous in-touch ball. The defender was still off the field of play and the attacker proceeded with a clear run at the goal.
Offside or not? [I did not call offside considering him as still the second-to-last defender: “11.11 Defender legally off the field of play” within “Advice To Referees on the Laws of the Game”]
To complicate matters a little more, the ball that the attacker picked up from his bench area was not one of the game balls given the referees prior the game. The center ref obviously let play restart (probably not even aware that the other ball was being retrieved by a defender). As an AR, what is my responsibility in this situation?
Answer (May 29, 2007):
The Laws of the Game were not written to compensate for the mistakes of players. The defender, obviously a splendid and generous person, committed the error of not watching what was happening. Life is hard, no offside.
However, the fact that the ball put into play by the opposing team was not an approved ball is a more serious matter. A goal may not be scored if the ball is not one approved by the referee prior to the game. If the referee did not recognize the switch and stop play, then you, the AR, who did recognize that fact, should have signalled to the referee.
You have actually given us a two-part problem. First, what SHOULD have been done? Second, given that what SHOULD have been done wasn’t, how do we make things right (if possible)? It is possible that the above two paragraphs do not provide the full practical answer. Given that the AR should have made the referee aware of the illegal ball, does it follow that, if he eventually did do so but this occurred after the goal was scored, must the goal be disallowed and, in effect, the match rewound back to the throw-in to be done with a correct ball? What if play had restarted with a kick-off after the goal and THEN the referee was finally made aware that the ball was illegal? What if no one made the referee aware of the illegal ball until the match ended? Does this have to be included in the match report? Suppose the losing team became aware of the illegal ball — does this make the match protestable (did the referee “set aside a law of the game”)? We leave this for you and other readers to ponder.