ast weekend I was the CR for a U12G game at a local tournament and had a situation that I had never seen before. Early in the first half. Red player has the ball and is attacking. Blue defender is trying to stay between the red attacker and the goal.

The odd thing was that both the attacker and the defender had interlaced their fingers to get a grip on the other player. The attacker appeared to be trying to hold off the defender and the defender appeared to trying to move the attacker away from the goal.

I stopped play, warned both girls, and restarted with a dropped ball (closer to the red player that had had possession). My theory was that both girls were equally guilty of holding.

What should the call and the restart have been? Would your answer change if this happened in the blue defenders penalty area?

USSF answer (June 28, 2009):
Unless there is some way of determining which of these “lovebirds” started holding first, then your decision might be correct. However, a viable alternative to the dropped ball would be to wait until the outcome of the “mutual holding” becomes clear. ┬áThe dropped ball is rarely a good solution for offsetting fouls.

Most important of all, please remember that in no case should the referee make a different call if this were to occur in the penalty area. We call a foul the same in all situations, no matter where it occurs on the field.

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