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By ESPN Staff
Aug 25, 2006

Scottish FA act on match controversy

The Scottish Football Association have asked players to stop kicking the ball out of play when team-mates and opponents are injured - and let referees stop the game.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan has aired his concerns on the controversial subject, having found himself in trouble at Inverness last season and sent to the stand at Hearts recently.

Caley threw the ball back to Celtic, after they had put the ball out to enable their player get treatment, and then almost scored after putting their opponents under pressure.

At Tynecastle, Strachan was outraged the referee allowed Hearts to have an attempt on goal, when their player was down, and then gave them the ball back afterwards. Later in the game, play was stopped with Celtic on the ball.

But SFA chief executive David Taylor said: 'It is for the match referee to decide whether a break in play is necessary for treatment to be given to injured players.

'In accordance with the laws of the game, the referee controls the match and allows play to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in his opinion, only slightly injured. The referee will stop the match if, in his opinion, a player may be seriously injured.

'The practice of kicking the ball out has grown in recent years, but rather than aid fair play it has led to problems. Already this season there have been matches in Scotland where sides have disagreed over whether to kick the ball out, leading to arguments on the touchline and on the pitch.'

Strachan, who will serve the second of a two-match touchline ban against Hibernian this weekend, urged the SFA to make the situation clear for all managers and players after English football bosses told clubs that their referees would decide when a game is stopped.

Taylor added: 'Whilst a referee cannot dictate what a player can or cannot do with the ball, the practice of deliberately kicking the ball out of play to secure attention for an injured player is unnecessary.

'Frequent instances of this practice can disrupt the flow of a game and can even be used as a tactical ploy.

'This can create disagreements and tensions, particularly regarding whether, and in what manner, the ball is returned to play.

'The Scottish FA is therefore encouraging clubs to make their coaching and playing staff aware of the role and responsibilities of the match referee in order to remove any possible confusion about where responsibility lies for the treatment of injured players.'