We all know that Law 1 states that “The field of play must be rectangular and marked with lines. These lines belong to the areas of which they are boundaries.” With that in mind, consider the following:
Blue player #12 is attacking and running near the touch line. Red player #8 approaches to tackle for the ball. In order to maneuver and get around his opponent, Blue #12 pushes the ball past Red #8 and runs around the other side of him. In doing so, he steps off the FOP in order to go around his opponent. This is when Red #8 moves in front of Blue #12 and punches him in the face. We can all agree that Red #8 is dismissed for violent conduct and shown a red card however, the question is…What and where is the restart?
As with any match situation, we always try and use the LOTG to explain and support our answers. This situation is no different. As a gut reaction, my decision would be to stop play, dismiss Red #8 for VC and show him a red card. My restart would be a direct free kick to the Blue team. Why? It’s quite simple – the ball was in play and although the offense occurred outside the FOP, the circumstance that led the players to leave the FOP was because of momentum and through the course of play. They did not intentionally leave the FOP without the referee’s permission.
But…is there anything in the LOTG that would support my decision?
The only reference I could find regarding fouls occurring outside the FOP was in the Interpretations and Guidelines – pp. 117:
“Basic Requirements for a foul
The following conditions must be met for an offence to be considered a foul:
• it must be committed by a player
• it must occur on the field of play
• it must occur while the ball is in play”
Was the foul committed by a player? YES
Was the ball in play? YES
Did it occur on the field of play? NOOOO!
So, then does this mean that our situation cannot be considered a foul because it did not technically occur on the FOP?
The LOTG further go on to say
“If the referee stops play due to an offence committed outside the field of play
(when the ball is in play), play must be restarted with a dropped ball from the
position of the ball 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
Taking all of this into consideration, and using only the LOTG to formulate out answer, it is my conclusion that play must be restarted with a dropped ball from the position of where the ball was when play was stopped. However, this does not take into account the Spirit of the game nor does it take into consideration Law 18 – common sense. For this blind mouse, my common sense, and my gut reaction would be to restart play with a direct free kick (it is violent conduct after all). At the very least, an indirect free kick should be awarded as a dropped ball, in my opinion is just a slap in the face to the opposing team, and the offending team is getting away with a proverbial slap on the wrist. In my opinion, I would put this situation in the same basket as an offside situation where a defender moves outside the FOP because of momentum, and is then deemed to be on the goal line (hence, on the FOP).
Does anyone have any other opinions? Anyone know that actual correct answer?
Drop me a line and leave a comment.
The Third Blind Mouse