Case Study: The Spirit of the Game

As is always the case, the scenarios described in Ripped are based on actual experiences shared with iTooTr by the referees involved.  Certain details are changed to protect the anonymity of the referees involved.

In an important match between two boys under 19 teams, there are 16 seconds left in overtime, with the White team up 1-0.  A player on the Blue team is injured, and doesn’t quickly get up, so the White team goalkeeper throws the ball in to touch. The injured player is given medical attention and is safely removed from the field of play.

In the spirit of fair play, the referee asks the Blue team to throw the ball in to the White  side’s goalkeeper. The Blue player taking the throw declines to do so, and takes the throw in to restart the match.  The ball is quickly played near the White penalty area where a White defender makes a tactical move to handle the ball. The referee whistles for the foul, which is just outside the penalty area.  The referee also administers a caution to the offending White team defender for the tactical foul.

With approximately 10 seconds remaining in stoppage time, the Blue team scores directly from the resulting free kick. The referee whistles for full time, and now kicks from the mark will determine the winner of the match.  The Blue team kicks first, and the first kick is saved by the White keeper.  In the process of celebrating the save, the White keeper runs up to the Blue kicker, loudly taunts him, and is subsequently sent off by the referee, consistent with the rules of competition.

In the end, the Blue team prevails during KFTM and is the winner of the match.

What, if anything, could the referee have done differently that might have prevented the  situation at the end of the match?  Could the referee have taken any action that might have prevented the ugly confrontation between the Blue kicker and White goalkeeper during the KFTM phase of the match?

6 responses to “Case Study: The Spirit of the Game”

  1. If the referee would have kept his nose out of whether or not the white team kicked the ball out, the problem would not have occurred. If he believed that the injury was serious enough to warrant immediate attention (that is, it could not have waited 16 seconds until match’s end), then he should have stopped play and administered a drop ball from the spot of the ball when play was stopped. Whereas he did not, I am confident that the injured player did not need immediate attention and could have waited the quarter of a minute to get it. It’s an example of a referee trying to go outside of his responsibility when just staying within it would have solved all the problems.


  2. I’m assuming the taunt was offensive? Or there is a league rule specifying it should result in a dismissal?
    According to the Laws of the Game, I don’t think there was much else that could have been done other than what Ryan mentioned. Football is a game of emotion and the lack of fair play (unfortunately) resulted in the events that transpired.


      • Aha. Was foul/offensive language used out of curiousity?
        I think stories like this is what make football so exciting. There’s no shortage of dramatic endings within reason of course.


      • The referee who shared this story didn’t mention foul/abusive, so I’d guess not. But the rules of competition specifically detail “taunting an opponent” as a sending off offense.


  3. The referee obviously did not deem the injury to be serious enough to warrant stoppage of play. It was the injured player’s keeper’s decision to play the ball into touch… therefore, any resulting advantage gained by the Blue team was fairly gained as a result of the opponents actions.

    The referee’s only error in this scenario was to voice an expectation for the Blue team to relinquish their advantage.

    Remember: a referee’s decision is not effective as-of the moment he blows the whistle (i.e. delayed calls for Advantage). His decision is effective the moment he determines it to be effective.
    In this case; if he has any question as to the seriousness of the injury to the player,he should simply blow the whistle when the ball is thrown out of play… and withhold a signal until he has a moment to inspect the injured player more closely. Remember, he can add time for the stoppage. Therefore, if he determines the injury to be serious… he can re-start with a dropped ball (thus inferring that his decision that the player was seriously injured, was reached before the ball went out of play). His management of the dropped ball could ensure that the keeper regains possession of the ball. IF he deems the player to be not seriously injured, the referee can simply signal for a Blue throw-in… and any decision whether to play the ball back to White (or NOT), is up to them.

    The practice of “fair-play” by opponents who restart play by returning the ball to the team with the injured player, is not mandated by the laws of the game. It is certainly sportsmanlike… but it is not required by the rules. Therefore, referees should refrain from instructing teams to throw a ball back in to an opponent.


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