I have often been asked whether refs can score goals, and the answer is yes.
I suppose it’s a bit of a trick question and one you might be asked during a trivia quiz.
I’m going to quote you the law as it stands.
Remember, the new law changes are usually discussed in March each year and, when ratified, come into effect only from July 1 of that year.
However, some leagues don’t start in August/September as here in my country, Ireland – they start in March and finish around November, which used to be the case in South Africa.
In that instance, the new changes would come into effect only at the start of the league. In other words, not in the middle of the league, but the following year.
South Africa now also starts in August and runs until May.
Getting back to the question ...
Law 9 of Fifa’s laws of the game (2017/18) states:
Ball out of play:
The ball is out of play when:
- It has wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the air; and
- Play has been stopped by the referee.
Ball in play:
The ball is in play at all other times, including when it rebounds off a match official, goalpost, crossbar or corner flag post, and remains in the field of play.
The interpretation is that, if the ball hits the referee and goes into the net, then it’s a goal.
I’m waiting for the howls of protest and argument as to why this is not correct.
What I’ve given you is directly from the latest laws of the game. You can argue and shout from the rooftops if you like, but there it is in black and white.
In other words, the ref is just the same as the corner flag, goalpost or upright.
Most refs will do their level best to avoid being in the way or too close to the action, but it’s not always possible and it’s most unfortunate when it happens.
But that’s the law.
On another issue, I was watching Premier League (PL) game and was disappointed but not surprised to hear former EPL ref Peter Walton trying to justify why the ref had not awarded a penalty when it clearly called for one.
Walton was, in my opinion, one of the weakest referees when he was active.
He went to the US and got a job heading the referees’ department with Major League Soccer.
How he got that job is somewhat surprising, but that’s an argument for another day.
What’s happening in England at the moment is that the major television companies such as Sky and BT have referees at the sports ground or stadium who are available to make comments on so-called controversial decisions made by the match officials.
It was quite clear the issue that was being discussed was being defended by Walton, and he did himself no favours with his comments and came in for some subtle ridicule by the pundits – and rightly so, in my opinion.
Look, I know what it’s like to be a referee when there are huge crowds and heavy pressure, but you cannot justify the unjustifiable.
People are not stupid.
In fact, fans today are much more “up with play” when it comes to the laws of the game and trying to explain the inexplicable doesn’t do anyone any good.
* Follow me on Twitter @dr_errol