I am a fully qualified referee in [another country] and was recently spectating an U17 girl’s national championship match. At a guess, first-half time was almost expired. A player was hurt and had been receiving on-field medical attention for a couple of minutes while the ball was out of play (went out over the touchline). On resolving the player’s injury the referee blew her whistle for half-time. It was my understanding a referee can only blow their whistle for end of a half when the ball is in play? Am I right on this issue, or can a referee in fact signal the end of a half when the ball is out of play?
I’ve been researching this for a while because it would be helpful
to know the real ruling.

USSF answer (July 14, 2009):
While we cannot necessarily condone the referee’s allowing treatment on the field for a non-serious injury nor her not allowing additional time in the half (if there was still time left until the half truly ended), the whistle to signal the halftime break was probably okay.  It is a practical way to let everyone involved in the game know that the half is indeed over.

Except for time running out before a penalty kick can be taken, there is no requirement in the Law that a period of play cannot be ended with the ball not in play. Although many referees will attempt to discover “added time” for such restarts as a corner kick, the fundamental point is that, when time is up (including allowances for time lost due to excessively delayed restarts), it’s up. End it.

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