Situation: USSF sanctioned match. In the second half, the referee allows the match to continue past the standard (sanctioned) length of the half as adjusted for time lost based on his error as to the proper duration of the half for a particular age group (eg., in a U12 match, the referee runs a 35 minute half instead of the standard 30 minute half). During this unauthorized extension, one team scores a goals which proves to be the winning goal. Aditionally, the referee adminsters a card (caution or send off). This fact situation presents the following two questions/problems:
Question # 1: Does the goal stand?
This question presents two subquestions depending on the timing of the referee’s recognition of his error:
Subquestion # 1a: After the goal is scored, but before the restart, the referee realizes that he has improperly extended the match. Can the referee disallow the goal and end the match as a tie immdiately (and describe these circumstances in his match report)?
Scenarioi # 1b: The referee allows the goal and restarts the match but, at a later point (but prior to blowing the whistle to end the match), the referee realizes his error. Must the referee allow the goal to stand, end the match immediately, and describe his error and the consequences in his match report to the competition authority?
Question # 2: Does the card stand?
This question also raises two subquestions depending on the timing of the referee’s recognition of his error:
Subquestion # 2a: The referee administers a card, but, prior to the restart, he discovers his timing error. May he rescind the card and end the match immediately as a tie (and describe these circumstances in his game report)?
Subquestion # 2b: The referee administers a card, restarts play, but at a later point (but prior to blowing the whistle to end the match) realizes his error. Must the referee let the card stand, end the match immediately, and report the circumstances in his match report to the competition authority?
Law 5 Denotes that the referee is the official timekeeper for the match
Law 7: The referee may add time for time lost
The referee may not arbitrarily shorten or lengthen the duration of the halves where the competition authority has specified the duration of the halves
Asked for further information, the questioner stated that he “should have said something to the effect of ‘mistakenly extended’ time. In the case which prompted my questions, the referee simply made a mental error and ran a 35 minute second half having run a 30 minute first half. However, . . . in this case, both AR’s were inattentive and of no help to the referee and both coaches (including the coach whose team was ahead) did not question the referee about the time during the running of ‘extended time’.”
USSF answer (February 24, 2009):
1. Does the goal stand?
1a. The goal may be disallowed once the referee realizes his error.
1b. The goal must stand.
In both of these situations the referee must provide full details in the match report.
2. May the referee rescind a card? The card stands and the referee must provide full details in the match report.
2a. The referee COULD rescind the card, but SHOULD the referee do it? Probably not in this case, since the player’s misconduct is cautionable whether committed during play or (if time has run out) during the period immediately following the end of play.
2b. No, in this case the he card stands and the referee must provide full details in the match report.
To sum it up: The referee ran an overly long second half. If he had been smart and quick on his mental feet, he would have simply described the extra time as “taking into account time lost” — not true, of course, but an overly long half is easier to “explain” than a half which is short by any amount.
In a different situation, it might have been that the referee hit the 35th minute in the second half and said “Oh my God! I forgot that the half for this age group is 30 minutes long. I got it right on the first half but was so absorbed in the game and the players were playing so much above their age level that I let the half go too long.”
The match is not over until the referee says it is over. If the error is realized during a stoppage (e. g., for a goal), the goal can be cancelled and the match ended. If it is not realized until after play restarts after the goal, it stands and the match ends when the referee stops play. The same principle applies for the card shown at a stoppage — it can be cancelled if play has not resumed, it stands if play has resumed.