After many years of being a very involved parent with rec, select and high school soccer matches and a parent of certified referees I have never encountered what I witnessed on 5/11/2009 at a high school play-off match and I am seeking the law or rule which governs a center referees actions. During the match, the scoreboard clock was halted many times during the match, but predominatly during the 2nd half every time the ball was turned over due to out of bounds play and any other time the center would signal the clock/scorekeeper.

The half ended up being around 55 minutes ending with a tie, there was a 5 minute overtime and still tied, then there was another 5 minute overtime, of which only 4 minutes of play was allowed and the center halted the match and immediately went into a shoot-out. I am concerned that there was an injustice to the outcome of the game. I know there is a lot of discretion given to the center referee during a match regarding how to apply the different laws, but I also know there are parameters of a match that are not meant to be discretionary in nature. Is there any recourse or appeal that can be made to make things right? Looking forward to your response.

USSF answer (May 12, 2009):
We don’t do high school rules here, but we can give you some idea of how timekeeping is handled in that game. It differs considerably from the game of soccer as played throughout the rest of the world.

NFHS rules require that the clock be stopped after a goal (until the kick-off occurs), for an injury (but only if signaled by the referee), whenever a card is given, and at the taking of a penalty kick.  We are not aware of any other clock stoppage events.  The referee is supposed to signal (arms crossed at the wrist above the head) all such events, but the timekeeper is supposed to stop the clock automatically for after goals and for penalty kicks — only the referee knows if/when the injury requires time be stopped or if/when he will give a card, so the referee’s signal is needed in these cases.  The timekeeper restarts the clock only when the ball is legally put back into play (though often an uneducated timekeeper restarts when the referee signals for the restart).  The referee has the authority to order a clock readjusted if it is seriously out of synch with the referee’s time.  A stadium clock MUST be used as the official time if (a) there is a stadium clock and (b) it works.  It is common, however, for there to be some sort of announcement via the public address system (or for the state association to permit) at some point near the end of the half that “official time” is being kept on the field and the clock is stopped, say, with 5 minutes remaining.

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