As always, many thanks for the excellent resource you provide.

A question has arisen in another forum regarding how long the referee team has to make a call. Specifically, the scenario was given as:

a. During a play for the ball in the penalty area, there is a collision, with no foul committed at that time; three players simply tangle and go down, and the ball caroms away.

b. While the players are untangling and getting up, and the referee’s attention is on the next play some distance away, a still-sitting defender deliberately cleats an opponent in the thigh.

The referee does not observe this, but the AR does. However, the AR does not immediately recognize this for the foul and misconduct that it is.

c. While play continues, the AR is replaying the scene is his mind, and gradually comes to the realization that the incident deserves a send off, presumably for violent conduct.

d. No more than 15 seconds later, play is stopped for an injury.

The AR now has a moment to completely consider what he saw, gets the referee’s attention, and relates what happened. The referee sends off the defender.

Here is the point of dispute. I believe that, since this referee stopped play for the injury, and the AR made no decision at the time, but only after the fact, that the restart is determined by the reason the referee stopped play: a dropped ball. The other point of view is that, since play has not restarted since the incident occurred, the referee team is still empowered to punish the foul as well as the misconduct, and the restart should be a penalty kick.

I appreciate that making the correct call is always the primary concern, but I believe the referee needs to maintain some personal integrity here. This was not the case of an AR signalling for a foul & misconduct at the time it occurred, and not getting the referee’s attention until after play was stopped. The AR did not make up his mind until (in my opinion) it was too late to call the foul. For the misconduct, of course, it is never too late, at least until the match report is filed.

What do you say: dropped ball or PK?

USSF answer (September 15, 2009):
In this case, the original reason for the stoppage is irrelevant. The assistant referee is reporting serious misconduct in the play prior to the stoppage.

Send off the defender for violent conduct. Restart with a penalty kick for the foul against the attacking player.

Give the AR a magic pill to make him/her observe more closely and think more quickly.

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