Referee decides goalkeeper has committed the offense of touching ball with hands, after ball was deliberately kicked to her by a teammate. Referee signals for IFK inside GK’s penalty area, approx 10 yards from goal. Before attacking team has time to take IFK, referee tells both teams that restart will be ceremonial (on whistle).

Reason for ref’s decision to make the restart ceremonial is not obvious, and not clearly communicated by referee. Possible reason is that the referee decided to consult with lead AR, to get AR’s input regarding the offense. Attacking team is upset that referee took away quick kick opportunity, protests the game to the competition authority for that reason. Questions: (1) Does the referee need to have a specific reason, for requiring a restart to be ceremonial (taking away quick kick opportunity)? (2) Would consulting with an AR regarding the offense be a sufficient reason? (3) Could the ref’s taking away of the quick kick opportunity be considered a misapplication of the Laws, and a legitimate basis for requiring the game to be replayed?

Note: I’m an experienced referee, quite familiar with the ATR. I’ve looked, haven’t been able to find a source that gives me a clear definitive answer regarding this scenario. Hoping to provide some helpful input and guidance to a protest committee which must decide what to do about the protest. Thanks!

USSF answer (November 16, 2010):
Law 5 is the authority here. See below:

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 or the fourth official, provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the match.

See also Advice to Referees 5.7:

The referee has the power to stop the match for any infringement of the Laws, to apply advantage under the appropriate conditions, or to decide that an infringement is trifling or doubtful and should not be called at all.//rest clipped//

In answer to your questions:
(1) Yes. The referee made a decision to make the free kick ceremonial and announced that to the players. He (or she) need not debate that decision with anyone but himself.
(2) Yes, a conference with the AR would certainly be enough reason to hold up the kick and make it ceremonial.
(3) Absolutely not!