I was wondering if you knew the official definitions of the refereeing notions: “referee’s factual decision” and “referee’s technical error” as per the examples below:
“the factual decision taken by the referee has to be accepted, even if it is wrong.” http://www.uefa.com/uefa/news/kind=2/newsid=151.html
“taking into consideration that the referee in the match in question had indeed committed a technical error.” http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/archive/germany2006/news/newsid=27212.html
USSF answer (July 1, 2009):
The Laws of the Game define “the factual decision” in this way (Law 5):
Decisions of the Referee
The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final.
The referee may only change a decision on realizing that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee, provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the match.
END OF QUOTE
“Facts connected with play shall include whether a goal is scored or not and the result of the match.”
As pointed out in the UEFA decision, it makes no difference if the decision was correct or wrong, it was the decision and must therefore be respected as such.
A technical error occurs when the referee recognizes an infringement of the Laws but restarts the game in the wrong way (as in your example of the penalty kick in World Cup qualifying game). Such a decision is correctable by the competition authority.