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When to blow the final whistle

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A game ends when the referee calls time, although you may not please all players on the pitch Picture: Stanislav Remnev on Unsplash

From the middle with Dick Sawdon-Smith

Recently I wrote about the very minor change to the Law on Allowance for Lost Time.

This reminded me of the complaint by the Spanish team manager after their Euro 2020 semi-final with Italy.

“The referee,” he said, “blew his whistle for full-time exactly at the end of 45 minutes”.

He wasn’t complaining that he allowed no added time but because he blew when they were attacking.

I have had this complaint on occasions over the years.

One I remember well was a university game. The away team was losing by one goal when they had a throw in well into their opponents half.

I looked at my watch, 15 seconds to go.

The ball came into the penalty area and after much scrambling a shot was deflected for a corner.

Another watch check, 10 seconds over the 45 minutes.

I blew for full-time.

They protested loudly that they should have been allowed to take the corner.

My answer was the one I always give: “How many chances to score would I have to give you before you agree that I could end the game?”

One reader wrote to me to suggest that football should adopt the same rule as rugby where although the watch shows time is up, the game can’t end until the ball goes out of play, I put this to the IFAB who told me they had considered it but didn’t think is as suitable.

Sir Alex Ferguson has suggested that there should be an independent time keeper.

This already happens in futsal, of course. where every game has three referees and, in the senior matches, four.

One of the referees is the timekeeper who will blow for time.

However, even that is not always foolproof. I was timekeeper at a regional tournament and with my eye on the watch, I blew up exactly on time, only to look up to see the ball on its way to the back of the net.

The organisers were not pleased as it meant there had to be a play off.

In local football anyway, it’s going to remain the referee’s whistle.

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