I had this in a game I did the other night. The keeper stops a shot and gets ready to release it but I told her to hold on for one second because a player on the other team seemed to be injured. The player said she was fine so I told the goalie to play on without blowing my whistle. The goalie ran to the line and carried the ball past the penalty area before she released the ball. I then blew my whistle for the first time and awarded the other team an Indirect Free Kick for improper clearing of the ball by the keeper. I was in a two-man system and the other official (who is my father) felt the call should have been a hand ball and a direct free kick to restart. We settled on my interpretation of the rules and the kick taken was an IFK. The kick actually went off the goalie’s fingertips and went in the goal. Since it went off the goalie’s fingers the indirect free kick was satisfied, so I got lucky with the call since both direct and indirect kicks were satisfied. However, what would the correct call be so I can make the right call next time? Thanks

USSF answer (September 22, 2008):
Our opinion is that your father was technically correct: The restart, if you stopped the game for this extremely trifling infringement, should have been a direct free kick. (There is, by the way, no such infringement as “improperly clearing the ball.”) You can already see where this answer is going. You interfered with the goalkeeper’s release of the ball and then, when she committed a TRIFLING infringement of the Law, you punished her and even allowed a goal to be scored against her team.

Lesson to be learned from this: If you cannot tell immediately that a player is truly injured, there is no need to delay play. Instead, you should let the goalkeeper clear the ball from the penalty area and only then stop play, if you must, to check the possibly injured player. If you do otherwise, you have then already determined that the player is injured and should stop play immediately. And that means that the restart will be inside the penalty area through no fault of the defending team. It’s a matter of good management and common sense for referees to try not to disadvantage unfairly the team that has not committed any infringement.

Then, of course, there is always the fact that you were officiating in a two-referee game, something to be avoided by referees registered with the U. S. Soccer Federation, as the dual system of control is not in accordance with the Laws of the Game or the policies of the Federation.

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