Near the end of the first half, an attacker with the ball is clearly tackled from behind in the penalty area. However the referee is screened at that moment and thinks the attacker merely tripped, so there is no whistle. The AR, who has a good view of the play, pops his flag, but the ball is immediately booted upfield and the CR turns to follow the play and never sees the flag, which continues to be raised.
Seconds later, the CR blows the whistle for half-time. At that point he sees the AR with flag raised and consults with him. He accepts the AR’s view that there was a trip but says that because the whistle has been blown to end the half, there can be no penalty kick.
He does card the defender who tackled from behind however.
Is this ruling correct?
(Note: it might have helped if the second AR had mirrored the flag but unfortunately that did not happen.)
USSF answer (September 2, 2008):
Whenever the assistant referee signals for a foul and the signal is not seen immediately and play continues for several seconds, the restart, when taken, must be in accordance with the Laws (free kick, penalty kick, etc.). In this situation play had not stopped and been restarted since the flag was raised, so, when the referee acknowledges the flag and accepts the assistant referee’s information, the correct thing to do is to send off or caution (as appropriate to the act) the player involved and restart with the penalty kick.
In addition, the assistant referee should maintain a signal if a serious foul or misconduct is committed out of the referee’s sight or when a goal has been scored illegally. This and the original situation (above) should be covered by the referee during the pregame conference with the assistant referees.