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Football Myth's Debunked

Apr 18, 2008
As with any human endeavor there are often ideas that take hold and are firmly contended as truth when they are in fact either misunderstood or patently false. Association football is no different. Since some of the regulations are intentionally written in broad terms for a referee to be able to react to a multitude of variables, spectators are often confused or angry with this or that particular call.

Take for instance the hand foul regulations. May a fight has erupted because it seemed a goal was scored and credited even though the ball contacted the hand or arm of an offensive player. The Laws state that the "handball ref" foul is designed to chastise a player who INTENTIONALLY touches an in-play ball with the disallowed limb. The point will still count if the contact, according to the referee's judgment, was of an accidental nature. There are in fact several penalty situations for a player to purposely pass the ball in such a way as to hit an opposing player's arm or hand in hopes of collecting an advantage play.

Another football situation that has gained a vast amount of misunderstanding and rebuke is during the "throw in" segment of returning an out of bounds ball into the pitch to resume play. It is clear that neither foot can leave the ground during the pitch. However many people have an erroneous idea of where and how the feet should be positioned on the ground. Both feet must be either behind the sideline or touching it. If both feet are still contacting the line, even if it is only the heels, it is still a permissible stance and is not by Law an illegal throw in.

The Laws of the Game have stated for centuries that jewelry is not to be worn on the playing pitch. You are not allowed to "tape" it down. There are only two exceptions to this strictly enforced Law. In 2006 the FA decided that a flat band wedding ring could be worn but only if it could not be physically removed due to the size of the finger. Even then it will only be allowed if it had been made known to the referee before the start of the match. In the interest of safety even the referee is included in this ban on jewelry. His only allowable exception is the timepiece he monitors the game time with.

Association football is not like the sport called football in North America and at the beginning of the game the coin toss does not determine who gets first possession of the ball. The coin toss in association football merely allows the winner of the toss to pick which end of the field will be theirs. In many ways this is a far superior option as the team captain can take wind, weather, terrain and angle of the sun into consideration for his team's advantage.

Not a game goes by without someone calling the referee's or his assistants integrity into question. It is fair to say that in any human endeavor the question of ethics can arise. However the football referee and his, usually volunteer, assistants choose this position because of an intense love of the sport and willingness to take such abuse from the inconsiderate in order to see that the game is played properly.

Do not always assume a late call was made because the referee is angling to aid one team over the other. He is most likely only allowing himself enough time and thought to make sure he is calling the play honestly.
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