When playing at a site where there are adjacent fields, could a whistle from a neighboring field be considered outside interference, especially if players on the field where it wasn’t blown react to it? If so, what criteria should be applied by the referee to determine whether it is outside interference? For example, a defender lets up on a play because he hears a whistle, thinking it is from his field, resulting in an attack and maybe a scoring chance for the other team.
USSF answer (May 23, 2009):
Follow the excellent guidelines given in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
9.2 PLAY THE REFEREE’S WHISTLE
If a whistle is heard as a result of spectator action or of activity on a nearby field and if a player, thinking that play had been stopped by the referee, then illegally handles the ball, the referee should treat this as outside interference and restart with a dropped ball*. The referee must nonetheless be aware of the possibility that a player has committed unsporting behavior (pretending unawareness that it was not the referee’s whistle) and must be prepared to deal properly with this misconduct.