Stuart, a U13 – U19 coach, asks:
During a U13 game, the ref blew for time, after 35mins, the players shook hands, then an opposing spectator came running on claiming he’d blown 6 mins early. I asked the ref and he said he’d blown on 35 mins…….what ensued were angry parents abusing a young referee, threatening to report him to the league. Taking the ref to be right, my team left.
I received a call later that day, saying the ref had admitted he may have blown early. Given he’s a child, who had been shouted at by adults, perhaps not a surprising announcement.
The League are now saying I’ll have to replay the game. Surely, from a Safeguarding point, they can’t support this. Can they demand I replay the full game? Or just the 6 mins he’s admitted to under playing?
The resolution to this problem is solely in the hands of what is technically called “the local competition authority” – the organization under whose auspices the match is held. The Law does not cover everything – a lot of what it doesn’t cover is left to the referee, and the remainder is left to the local competition authority.
In this case, if the referee says that time is over, then it is over and that is that … for that specific game. If this can be corrected while the referee is still there, the referee has the authority to order the teams back onto the field and to restart play at the point where play was ended. The restart is either whatever the restart would be if play was ended at a stoppage of play – e.g., throw-in, corner kick, kick-off, etc. — or a dropped ball in favor of the team that last touched the ball when the whistle to end play was incorrectly sounded.
Once the referee has left the area of the field, he or she has to file a report. If, in this report, the referee acknowledges an incorrect, early stoppage of play, it is up to the local competition authority to decide what to do about it. They have three options. First, they can order the game replayed in its entirety (as though the game in question had not happened), Second, they can order that the game is accepted as played, despite the early stoppage, and the outcome stands with the score as is. Third, they can order the game to be replayed from the moment of the early stoppage to the normal end of play and with all prior player events (e.g., goals, cards) kept in place as valid. By the way, although this has no direct bearing on what the local competition authority decides, the Laws of the Game prescribe the first option for the highest level of games which are played under the authority of FIFA itself (i.e., international matches) if the match ends, for whatever reason, before the completion of scheduled time.