I made a very controversial call this past weekend in a tournament that caused a lot of controversy both on the field, and with some referees. Here is the situation.
Tournament game, 14 year old boys game. The competition rules stated no stoppage time except for the case of an injury. There had been no injuries in the second half, and the score was tied 1-1. An attacker has the ball in the corner close to the flag and I glance at my watch to see that the time has just expired. I begin to blow my whistle as he crosses the ball into the goal area where it slips past the keeper and is tapped in by a teammate, after the first whistle to end the game had been blown. I did not allow the goal, because time had expired. Needless to say, the coach of the team who was on the attack was not happy. I know it was a controversial decision, and I keep running it in my head. Would it have been more fair to extend play for the extra 2-3 seconds needed for the team to score? Or would that have been unfair to the defending team to give up a goal after the time had technically run out? I spoke with a state level referee who said I should have let the play continue for a couple seconds. If the attacking team scores, then end the game, or if the defending team collected the ball, then end it at that point. This seems to be a letter of the laws versus the spirit of the laws issue. What would have been the correct call according to US Soccer?
USSF answer (May 28, 2009):
A point we make consistently is that if the referee accepts an assignment in a competition, the referee also accepts the rules of the competition. Please note that the dynamics change when operating under a rule that gives the referee flexibility (unlike the tournament rule here).