It Is All About Time by Pat Ferre: Are you stealing time from the losing teams when you referee games?
With few exceptions, all rules require that referees allow for time lost during a match due to injuries and deliberate time-wasting. Some rules include time lost due to substitutions, goals, and cards issued.
If you let your watch run for the exact prescribed time, blow your whistle and leave the field, you are stealing some time. It is stealing if, in the time you have stolen, the team that is tied or behind may have instead won or tied the game.
By not allowing the deserved time, you have not served the game well. The Laws of The Game require that the players play a certain amount of time. Even adding 1 minute when 4 minutes were wasted during a close match is larceny on the part of the referee.
The most unfair way that time is lost is through time-wasting. Players, some as young as 12, know to waste time when their team is ahead. Some of the most often used methods are: kicking the ball over a fence, kicking the ball far away and taking time to retrieve it, finding the right blade of grass to position the ball, and substituting players from the far side of the field. If the players know it, their opponents know what is being done as well.
Wasting time is a cautionable offense. Have you ever given a card for that? While the card should be a last resort, warning and adding time should begin as soon as the leading team starts using stalling tactics.
When time is being added, it is a good idea to let the teams and spectators know that you are doing so by raising your arm with the watch and point to the watch with the other hand. If that does not stop the time-wasting, a caution is on order.
Other tactics used to deliberately waste time are: moving the ball multiple times before kicking it, 2-3 players keep handing the ball to each other prior to a throw-in, kicking the ball way over the crossbar just after a whistle blows for offside, picking up the ball and walking away after a foul has been called against his/her team, a player bringing the ball to the referee is wasting time because he/she knows you cannot kick it. Those actions are forms of time-wasting done with malicious forethought for which time must be added and either a stern talk or a caution given.
Free substitution is the more sophisticated method used to take time off of the clock. Teams that abuse that privilege should be penalized. Once a winning team starts to use this method, make a big show of adding time. Caution the coach if the rules allow and file a report.
Fake or real injuries can be difficult to deal with but the Laws require that referees take into account time lost to deal with and assess injuries. If the player is faking the injury in order to gain a favorable call from the referee, that is a caution able offense.
No one suggests that referees prolong the agony of a 12-0 and even a 4-0 game but if the score is 2-1 or tied, the teams deserved the entire allotted time to fairly decide the result. Anything less would be cheating.
Pat Ferre, USSF Referee Grade 15 Emeritus, USSF Referee Instructor, USSF Referee Assessor, USSF Referee Assignor, District-7 Youth Referee Administrator (DYRA)
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