On two occurrences I have stopped play because of an injury to the head of a player, both times players and coaches were yelling to “kick the ball out” however no one did. With play stopped and the ball still in play and in the possession of one team, is the correct restart a drop ball with both teams participating or only the team that was in possession? Where does possession come into play when the match has been stopped for injuries? I have had a coach complain that the drop ball should be one sided in the “spirit of the game” and another coach argue that his team had possession and that his team should have the ball.
Answer (October 29, 2007):
Many major competitions throughout the world have instructed their players not to follow the traditional “kick the ball out of play” procedure when a player appears to be seriously injured. And the Law instructs the referee to stop play only when he or she believes the player is indeed seriously injured.
The only possible way to restart play after stopping for an injury is a dropped ball. There is no alternative under the Laws of the Game.
With regard to your question of possession, there is no such thing in the Laws of the Game once the referee has stopped play. Possession by one team or the other does not enter into the picture at all. (Maybe you are thinking of high school soccer?) The referee must make his or her own decision as to how to manage the dropped ball after having stopped play for the injury. The intelligent referee will remember that there is no requirement that players from both teams – or that any player at all – must take part at a dropped ball.