The ball kicked by the attacking team over the defending team goal line for a goal kick the referee thought went of the defending team and award CK for the attacking team and they score of the CK than the referee saw the AR standing behind the Corner flag went to talk to him the AR advice the referee he gave the wrong restart, at this point can the referee disallowed the goal and award GK to the defending team?

thank you

USSF answer (January 18, 2011):
Rather than answering your question directly, let us consider some alternatives.

Ordinarily, the referee can correct a mistake in giving the restart to the wrong team (as, for example, might be the case if the referee announced a free kick for the Blue team but then realized, just as the Blue team is kicking the ball, that the free kick should really have been given to the Red team). The argument in favor of this correction even though someone had already taken the kick is that (a) the language in Law 5 that a decision cannot be changed once play has been restarted was historically intended to apply specifically to goals and cards becoming official and unchangeable, (b) the restart was actually illegal because (although the referee announced “Blue”) the referee’s intention was that Red be given the restart and it is the referee’s intention that counts, and (c) making the correction is clearly fair.

However, in this regard there are several additional factors that must be considered.

One is that considerably more time passed before the mistake was realized.

If the referee in this case had seen the AR’s signal and realized his error just before or as the corner kick was being taken and had whistled a stoppage, the decision to correct the corner kick to a goal kick would have been much easier to “sell” (it would not have mattered whether the ball went into the net or not). Furthermore, in this case (as described), it was not the referee who initially realized his mistake in awarding the wrong restart, it was the AR and it took a discussion between the referee and the AR to sort the matter out.

In order to “sell” a decision to recall, cancel, and retake a restart because the referee made a mistake in giving it to the wrong team, the action must have been taken quickly and it must have been on the referee’s own initiative. With so much time having elapsed and with the resolution having required consultations with one or both ARs (or fourth official), the correction to a goal kick might in fact raise more of a controversy than simply letting the corner kick stand. You would have to “take the temperature” of the match in order to decide to make the correction. The apparent scoring of a goal on that apparently incorrect corner kick adds complexity to the issue — allowing the corner kick to stand means necessarily allowing the goal to stand and that might be too significant a punishment for a team to suffer for the referee’s error.

All of this, of course, would have been avoided if the referee had been vigilant in maintaining eye contact with the AR in the first place. The error would have been corrected before the incorrect restart had even occurred or, at worst, the intention to correct would have been announced before the ball went into the net.