An AR raises his flag to signal that team A’s goalkeeper has stepped out of the area with the ball in his hands before punting it. The center referee doesn’t see the signal for approximately 15-20 seconds. The ball has traveled all the way to the opposite end of the field before the referee notices the flag and blows his whistle. He does not give any indication to the teams that the infraction occurred at the other end of the field. Team B’s players think an infraction has been called in their end of the field and do a quick restart where the ball was stopped. Several seconds later the referee stops play.

He then restarts play with a dropped ball in Team B’s end of the field saying Team B did a quick restart. Obviously if the players knew the infraction occurred 70 yards down the field just outside the area, they would have taken a direct kick on goal from there. Did the referee act correctly in allowing the quick restart point which was 70 yards from where the infraction occurred?

USSF answer (December 2, 2009):
Your information (not included here) suggests that you were at a high school game, for which we cannot provide an official response. If we assume that the game was played under the Laws of the Game, then here is your answer. Be prepared, as mistake after mistake seems to have turned this game into a fiasco.

1. First we have to ask if the flag by the AR was REALLY necessary? Generally this infringement is trifling, particularly if no one but the AR noticed it. And because it was likely trifling and the referee took so long to notice it, the flag should have been dropped almost immediately. (And if it was the first occasion, it would likely have required only a brief and professional warning to watch the line, which the AR could have done him- or herself.)

2. Are we certain that the referee stopped play for the flag or only noticed it after he stopped the game (and decided to disregard it)? That would explain the restart at the far end of the field.

3. General lack of professional conduct by the referee in not making clear what was happening.

4. Tough luck for the Team B players, who drew a conclusion not supported by the actions of the referee. (Clearly ambiguous, or were they not? See 2.)

Without knowing what the referee was actually thinking, we cannot answer your final question with certainty and authority.

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