A hypothetical question arose at our USYSA State Cup this weekend. Suppose two teams from the same club have advanced through their brackets to the state championship game, and are scheduled to play each other in the final. One team (the ‘A’ team from the club) has already qualified for Regionals via a regional league play-in, but the other team (the ‘B’ team) has not. If the club’s coaches want the ‘B’ team to advance to Regionals as well, is instructing the ‘A’ team to allow the other team to score on them for an easy win something the referee has the authority to act upon (presumably, by warning and/or dismissing the coach(es) of the ‘A’ team for bringing the game into disrepute)? Your answer of September 7, 2006 indicates that deliberately kicking the ball into one’s own goal is an example of bringing the game into disrepute (for which a player should be cautioned), yet your answer of October 2, 2008 makes reference to the rules of competition (as far as tournament standings and advancement) not being the referee’s problem.

Obviously, the club could just “forfeit” their better team by not showing up, thereby advancing the lesser team. But if the coaching staff decides to play the match as a farce, is it the referee’s issue to deal with? Or the competition authority?

As always, your guidance and direction is greatly appreciated!

USSF answer (June 21, 2010):
You would seem to have missed an answer from 2002 that states exactly what was in the IFAB Q&A of 1996 and 2000, as well as 2004, 2005, and 2006. Although it is no longer included in the Laws of the Game, the following answer from the IFAB Q&A 2006 remains valid:

Law 5:
13. How should a referee react if, during the course of a match, he realizes that one of the teams is deliberately trying to lose? Should he draw the attention of the team in question to the fact that if they continue to play in that way, he will terminate the game in accordance with the provisions of Law 5?

The referee has no right to stop the match in this case.

That, of course, does not prevent the referee from including in the game report any information he (or she) hears or learns of before, during, or after the game that substantiates collusion to “fix” a game.

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