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Question Number: 34189

Mechanics 4/6/2021

RE: Other Other

Derek of Cary, IL USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 34187

I don't feel like my question was answered I seems like it was lost in the background information. I'll post it here again:

If a mass walk-off occurs (reducing a team's players to below 7) and the referee either "stops play" or "suspends play," who determines if and when the match can be restarted (referee, league officials, or other)?
Does the wording that the referee uses matter, or am I just quibbling over semantics?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Derek
There is no clear answer to this but in all instances the final decision rests with the referee. Some situations will be covered in the Rules of Competition while others will be a matter for the referee and in some instances the team/s.
The factors that can determine if a match can be restarted after a stoppage in play depends entirely on the circumstances. In a weather stoppage it is a matter entirely for the referee to decide based on his opinion whether it is safe to do so, likelihood of further inclement weather and other factors like available light or indeed if the teams have not already left or don't want to resume.
At the highest level I have seen games continue in atrocious pitch conditions because the game organisers needed the game to reach a conclusion on that day. Some were just farcical yet the referee was under pressure to see the game out by the organisers I assume through the match delegate.
On injuries I have seen situations where the teams did not want to move an injured player and based on the location of the ground it would take some time for the ambulance to attend so the delay would be lengthy with perhaps not enough time to finish the game. In other situations I heard of players who were distressed at the injury situation and that they did not want to continue which was perfectly understandable and as such the games were abandoned by the referee who had limited if any choice in the matter. If teams do not want to play a referee cannot really force them and indeed it probably would be unwise anyway.
In the game you referenced the match was suspended by the referee and both teams left the field of play. It was the two teams that wanted to resume play so the referee facilitated that.
I remember a particular game that involved a mass brawl and some spectators got involved as well. I decided to abandon the game and I left the field of play. It immediately prompted the teams to stop the brawl and they came to me in the changing room asking to resume the game. I decided that it was unwise to do so as emotions were running high with the likelihood of retribution occurring in the remaining minutes so I told them the game was over and I went home and reported the situation to the League.
As to wording the report it is a matter for the referee to simply report in simple terms what happened and that the game was abandoned. The referee in the Valencia game gave a short description of what happened in his report. In the case of a suspension of the game for a period the referee would give the reason for that in his match report if it was something out of the ordinary. A lengthy injury stoppage would not be unusual while a player is treated so that would not need to be reported.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Derek,
who is to say if it was not made clear so use this,
Question is a long stoppage just another word for suspension?
Sometimes! They can be both or two separate acts. A stoppage does not always stop time at the exact second and adds all of it after a restart. I do feel a suspension is more of a guarantee that the watch has stopped at a precise moment until it is restarted later.

In the match report the details will make the case:

I stopped play at TIME ???? for WHY ????
We suspended play until we figured out what in the blue blazes was going on and if it was safe to continue?

I stopped play for an unknown altercation
We suspended the match to find out why.
Players from one team refused to take to the FOP due to an unseen altercation.
Given we can not restart without 7 players on the pitch, we investigated the details as to what had occurred (Match report, racist contents, he said she said, agreed to sub etc... ) sorted it out, eventually, a full 11 players took to the FOP & we restarted with an appropriate restart commentary to follow.

We suspended the 1 pm kick-off as one team was not on the FOP to start with a minimum of 7 players.
We waited for 15 minutes as per the bylaws, stating if a team fails to take the FOP with less than 7 players 15 minutes after a stated kick-off time, the match is forfeit and thus over!
We reluctantly abandoned the match as less than 7 players were in attendance on the FOP.

I stopped play for SFP by # player so and so at ??? time.
We suspended play as a fight broke out and spectators threw debris onto the pitch.
Although the fight was broken up and some of the spectators responsible were cleared from the stands I felt it too unsafe to restart and decided to abandon the match.
I felt the players' safety was now ok and we restarted with the DFK

I stopped play for weather, lightning, thunder, snow, rain, no visibility, pitch too slippery
We suspended play until it was safe to resume!
I felt it too unsafe to restart and decided to abandon the match

I stopped play to dismiss the coach for abuse.
We suspended the restart until the coach vacated the FOP
I felt it too unsafe to restart and decided to abandon the match.

(a) Although the referee could be influenced by competition or league bylaws and he might consider neutral input, it is ITOOTR.
The referee decides to restart after a stoppage which manufactured into a suspension or abandons based on their duties of ensuring safety. the LOTG are not compromised & neutrally applied!
As to HOW much time, a referee might let them stomp about could depend on his or her patience or possible ROTC (rules of the competition) recommendations/bylaws.
As to whether the referee CAN restart, the players would be forced to do it under whatever sanctions the referee sought to place( if any) the players/teams acquiesce and restart per referee's instructions or he abandons and the match report details the event.

I have on one occasion approached the team delaying the restart, they had 2 minutes (this was after AMPLE warnings as this obtuse coach was a grade a putz)) to take to the FOP with a minimum of 7 players or I would abandon the match and they could explain to the league why they choose to do so!

On a few other occasions due to sent-off players, dismissed coach being obtuse, time regulation, BYLAWS, Field Conditions, weather circumstances, darkness closing in with headlight from vehicles our source for light at the PK finish? You act within a reasonable manner, in a suspension, you gauge the reality, will the weather clear no lightening? Is it getting too dark? Do we stop and put on the lights Is the dude we just removed to the parking lot going to bring a safety issue or will things calm down once he is gone??
Once you decide to abandon no longer suspending & waiting but a finished decision & announce it as such it would be very difficult to change your mind & the chances of restarting given players may take off or leave is in my opinion nil.

I recall we waited for past the bylaw kick-off times before a forfeit was to be issued. The travel team only had 6 players present. They decided to play a scrub game with a mix of players only to have the missing players show up at halftime. They wanted to restart and play the match but there was no way to do so, no field was available and the forfeit bylaw time had come and gone.

In another situation, I effectively suspended a match for 5 hours! The visiting team was delayed due to a ferry accident but they phoned in and talked to the coach, who talked to me and asked if they could reschedule later in the day. I agreed and asked if my ARs would oblige, one could, the other could not so I sought out a replacement, assuring the missing AR he would be paid anyway. A field was available and hours later we played at 4 in the afternoon instead of 11 in the morning! I could have said no, we all still would be paid officials as if the match had occurred as the venue was zero hours and sanctioned. The match would have been rescheduled but likely on a different date.

(B)The league decides who to punish and just how severely based on the details in the match report. Let's also be clear, there is every likelihood at the highest levels, information, threats, and ramifications are being tossed about in the background given these events are televised with many assessor's mentors,' trainers, League officials, FIFA officials, IFAB officials, Government officials in attendance! FIND A SOLUTION! money and prestige

You certainly would as a referee work to seek a solution and restart as long as you felt it safe to do so. The CR and AR 4th officials would track what the teams do and say, possibly the CR would relay information directly to both benches about what would be required to get on with play or restart. The referee would not THREATEN the teams with forfeit or suspensions as that is not the duty of the referee. The referee could point out the fact there would be ramifications ask them to consider possible appropriate bylaws governing conduct and that those upset should document what they think and put it to the league for their response but as to whether THIS match goes or not? You as a referee, it's YOUR match. YOUR decision. YOUR reputation.

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