Frijol, a U13 – U19 referee, asks:
If during play a player remains on the ground while play continues, possibly injured with no obvious foul being committed, play is stopped, however I’m a little fuzzy about the restart. I have witnessed other refs passing the ball back to the injured players team to restart! What is the correct restart?
First, your responsibility is greatly affected by the age and experience level of the players. If Johnny is young (say, under 14-15), it is quite likely there is a “Johnny’s mom” on the sidelines who is fighting the urge to run onto the field. This is definitely something you don’t want to happen. Equally likely, if Johnny’s mom isn’t champing at the bit to run onto the field, then she is likely to be hopping about on the touchline screaming at you to stop play. Since you are the sole judge of what a “serious” injury is, the younger the players the more likely you should be ready to stop play even if it might seem to you that it is not truly serious – the probability that you should take this approach increases if Johnny is not moving at all and/or if play looks like it might be moving toward Johnny-on-the-ground.
Second, if the reason why Johnny is on the ground is that he had been fouled and you had initially judged it as not serious and Johnny’s team had the ball and was making a promising attack on goal and you have applied advantage and the advantage had not been maintained for very long (2-3 seconds), then you simply whistle for the original foul, wave the coach onto the field (and/or Johnny’s mom!), and then restart based on the foul.
Third, if there was no foul and, depending on the age factor, you decide to stop play solely for the serious injury (it officially became “serious” the moment you stopped play for no other reason), then the Law requires that the restart be a dropped ball.
However, as of June 1, the dropped ball restart has been significantly revised as to how it is done. You must know two things – one, which team last touched/played/contacted the ball before you stopped play and, two, where did that touch/play/contact occur? If the touch/play/contact was inside the penalty area of the team which last touched/played/contacted the ball, the restart is from that location and only the goalkeeper of that team is permitted to participate in the drop. If the location of contact was not in the penalty area of the team whose player made this contact, then any player on the team that last made contact with the ball (one and only one!) can participate but the drop is still taken where that last contact occurred. All other players of both teams cannot be closer than 4 ½ yards from the location of the restart. Since you are the one doing the drop, do not do it until you have made sure the other players are no closer than this minimum distance … and it could be a cautionable offense if any of these other players moved in closer just as the ball is dropped but before it hits the ground (it’s a judgment call only you can make).
Any referee who doesn’t follow the procedure in the paragraph immediately above is making a mistake. Technically, doing anything different would be what is called “setting aside a Law of the Game” and could lead to a valid protest.