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Question Number: 32243

League Specific 2/18/2018

RE: Adult

Vik of Exeter, UK asks...

Hypothetical Question.

Team Red is leading Team Blue in the championship by 3 points and a goal difference of plus 7.

They play each other in the final game of the season.

In the game, within the first 20 minutes Team Red is 3-0 down and reduced to 9 men against Team Blue.

Under the forfeit rule, the game is awarded 3-0 to Team Blue thus leading to Team Red winning the championship on goal difference.

With 70 minutes and with 2 fewer men, team Red are likely to concede more goals.

Can Team Red forfeit the match and claim the champioship?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Vik,
a team can do as they wish. There will be consequences as a referee match report will record the reasoning or circumstances. A referee is in charge of THAT match only, a referee has no input into how a league will decided if inappropriate or illegal team conduct results in a disqualification or some sort of tricky win scenario. I can assure you a team that walks off expecting to NOT be penalized heavily is only fooling themselves.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Vik,
As this is a hypothetical, I feel I should point out that there is no standard 'forfeit rule' whereby a forfeited game is awarded as a 3-0 defeat, at least not according to the Laws of the Game.

Secondly, even if the rules of competition (ROC) had such a provision, competition authorities almost universally in my experience, disapprove wholeheartedly of teams that deliberately stop playing a game (absent some kind of overwhelming safety concern). So a team doing as you suggest would more likely find themselves on the end of some serious sanctions, including possibly even a points deduction, rather than being gifted the championship.

Also, the forfeit rules I have come across are usually based on a scenario where a team is unable or unavailable to start a game (or can't continue at some point due to a legitimate reason such as lack of players etc) and would not apply in the situation where a team has deliberately and unilaterally chosen to abandon the game for ulterior motives. In fact I would say most disciplinary bodies would probably go out of their way to make sure a team could not benefit from such actions.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Vik
Leagues take a very dim view of teams that abuse the competition rules to do something unsporting such as the example you describe. You might recall Real Madrid getting two players sent off deliberately for time wasting so as to miss the next game which was irrelevant with Madrid already qualified and to clear up cautions so that the players would have a clean sheet in the first leg of the first knockout game. Players and club were fined almost 200,000 and the two players got an extra game ban each so it really backfired on them.
Now each situation will be different and the referee will simply report what happened. The League disciplinary panel will evaluate the situation based on that report and decide accordingly.
The options open to the League could include a replay with the players suspended or allow the result to stand or declare a forfeit under its rules or some other decision if the rules allow. If the possibility of a significant change in goal difference being unlikely based on previous results then the decision might not be as difficult such as if the goal difference was tight.
I also believe that teams that abusing the rules brings the game into disrepute and every league probably has examples of such unsporting situations. I recall one team not turning up to play the last game of the season as there was nothing at stake for the team yet the team that they were playing had to win to stay in the division. Whether it was genuine or not to not play it left a sour taste in the team that was relegated as it looked like a stitch up to them. The League could do nothing other than award the forfeit and fine the team for the no show. Maybe it was genuine, maybe not and only the team knows for sure. A heavy defeat with a weakened team might also be questioned.

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