2

I know that traditionally if a player is injured someone will kick the ball out of bounds in order to stop play. My question is whether the referee has any discretion to stop play for an injury or other reason, for example, pitch invasions.

If the referee is able to, how does the game restart and who is in possession of the ball when the game restarts?

2

The referee is only permitted to stop play for an injury if it is deemed serious. Head injuries, suspected fractures, loss of consciousness, open wounds and heavy collisions would usually be deemed serious; rolled ankles, cramps and minor knocks would generally not be deemed serious.

From p. 45 - 46 of the 2016/17 FIFA Laws of the Game:

The Referee:

...

Injuries

  • allows play to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is only slightly injured
  • stops play if a player is seriously injured and ensures that the player is removed from the field of play.

It goes on further to state that the restart of play is a dropped ball.

  • if play has not been stopped for another reason, or if an injury suffered by a player is not the result of an infringement of the Laws of the Game, play is restarted with a dropped ball

By playing the ball out when an opponent is only slightly injured, teams are waiving their right to continue playing as an act of respect for their opponents.

Teams will generally play the ball out immediately if one of their teammates is injured, in order to restore their side to full strength. However, they will usually not play the ball out in the middle of a promising attack, since the attack is more important than having a full complement of players.

In previous editions of the Laws, it vaguely stated that the referee could stop, suspend or abandon the match for any outside interference. In the new 2016/17 edition of the Laws, some examples of what may constitute outside interference are provided on p. 47 - 48:

The Referee:

...

Outside interference

  • stops, suspends or abandons the match for any infringements of the Laws or because of outside interference e.g. if:
    • the floodlights are inadequate
    • an object thrown by a spectator hits a match official, a player or team official, the referee may allow the match to continue, or stop, suspend or abandon it depending on the severity of the incident
    • a spectator blows a whistle which interferes with play - play is stopped and restarted with a dropped ball
    • an extra ball, other object or animal enters the field of play during the match, the referee must:
      • stop play (and restart with a dropped ball) only if it interferes with play unless the ball is going into the goal and the interference does not prevent a defending player playing the ball, the goal is awarded if the ball enters the goal (even if contact was made with the ball) unless the ball enters the opponents’ goal.
      • allow play to continue if it does not interfere with play and have it removed at the earliest possible opportunity.

On p. 36, the procedure for handling persons other than players entering the field of play is outlined:

The coach and other officials named on the team list (with the exception of players or substitutes) are team officials. Anyone not named on the team list as a player, substitute or team official is an outside agent.

If a team official, substitute, substituted or sent off player or outside agent enters the field of play the referee must:

  • only stop play if there is interference with play
  • have the person removed when play stops
  • take appropriate disciplinary action

If play is stopped and the interference was by:

  • a team official, substitute, substituted or sent off player, play restarts with a direct free kick or penalty kick
  • an outside agent, play restarts with a dropped ball

If a ball is going into the goal and the interference does not prevent a defending player playing the ball, the goal is awarded if the ball enters the goal (even if contact was made with the ball) unless the ball enters the opponents’ goal.

5

If the referee stops play while the ball is still in play (for an injury or a pitch invasion or any other reason), play is restarted with a dropped ball.

FIFA Laws of the Game 2015/16 Law 8: Start and Restart of Play

Definition of dropped ball
A dropped ball is a method of restarting play when, while the ball is still in play, the referee is required to stop play temporarily for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game.

Procedure
The referee drops the ball at the place where it was located when play was stopped, unless play was stopped inside the goal area, in which case the referee drops the ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was located when play was stopped. Play restarts when the ball touches the ground.

Infringements and sanctions
The ball is dropped again:
• if it is touched by a player before it makes contact with the ground
• if the ball leaves the field of play after it makes contact with the ground,without a player touching it
If the ball enters the goal:
• if a dropped ball is kicked directly into the opponents’ goal, a goal kick is awarded
• if a dropped ball is kicked directly into the team’s own goal, a corner kick is awarded to the opposing team

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