Monday, October 25, 2010

Know before you go & the Law 7 fandango

I was first introduced to this particular phrase when I started flying small planes (yet another soccer story unto itself as I was introduced by current Massachusetts SRA, Andy Weiss). It refers to the fact that a pilot needs to know about the destination, and the route in between, before you even set foot on the tarmac. To do otherwise invites disaster. Over this last weekend I experienced such a scenario that illustrates this point, and how it was affected by the Laws Of The Game (LOTG). While it was not a disaster by any means, in another match, at another level, it would have been.

As we have discussed before, the LOTG allow for variation of the Laws themselves only in certain situations, they include:

• Size of the field of play
• Size, weight and material of the ball
• Size of the goal
• Duration of the periods of play
• Substitutions

Further modifications are only allowed with the consent of the International Football Association Board.

In this particular match (U-10), the referee played a 25 minute first half. The modified LOTG call for a 30 minute half. Here's when the interesting stuff happened.

To this referee's great credit, they thought they had made a mistake, and asked how long we typically played. While this had the effect of demonstrating to everyone that the referee was not sure about how much time was to be played, it also had the effect of a referee who genuinely wanted to do the right thing.

At this point the referee after playing 25 minutes, informed us that we were going to play a 30 minute second half.

I had to bite my lip a little.

Why? Because Law 7 requires "two equal periods". An excellent explanation is here at Ask A Soccer Referee.

So what could have the referee done, when they learned about the correct timing of the match to keep with the laws?

Play the rest of the first half.

This may sound weird, but to adhere to the laws and the rules of the competition, you have to march the teams back out from halftime and play the remainder of the first half. Then, and only then, can you begin the second half.

If you just begin the second half, and play equal periods (in this case another 25 minute half), then you breach the rules of competition by not playing the correct length match. This may give rise to a merited protest as well at it has nothing to do with the discretion of the referee. Not good.

If you extend the second half to the right duration (in this case a 30 minute half), then you breach Law 7 regarding "equal periods." As before, this may give rise to a merited protest as well at it has nothing to do with the discretion of the referee. Not good - again.

From this there are (2) things to keep in mind:

  1. Know the rules of the competition BEFORE you take the field for a match.
  2. Understand that Law 7 requires "equal periods", (this does exclude any extra time of course). Half, means half.
When in doubt, do what this referee did ... just ask. Be sure to do so BEFORE the first whistle though.

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