Can A Soccer Referee Change A Decision?

So many times, during a soccer match we see the main referee give a decision one way or another and players jump up and down to remonstrate with the referee.

Ultimately whether a decision is to be made or not is down to the main referee at the time.

However, during certain times within a match, the main referee’s assistants will often play a pivotal role in getting to the right conclusion.

So, can a referee change the decision?

In short yes. The referee may only be able to change their decision if they realize that the original decision was incorrect or on the advice of his assistant’s referees during the game.

Another way that the referee can change a decision is via the assistant referee or through the controlling VAR referee.

If the referee has made a decision for a penalty, however, once VAR intervenes and sees no foul, then the referee can change his/her decision.

In this article, we will discuss whether a referee can change his decision and when other referees can influence the decision, and what role VAR can play in it all.

○ Can A Soccer Referee Change A Decision? ○ Soccer Referee and Assistants on The Field e1630091228140
KYIV, UKRAINE – SEPTEMBER 8, 2014: Referee Craig Thomson of Scotland (2nd from the Right) and his assistants go to the pitch before UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifying game between Ukraine and Slovakia

When a referee change decisions

A referee can change his decision in a number of ways during a match. First is the classic “did the ball go over the line”.

Since the introduction of VAR, we see this happen more often during games.

When a player shoots at goal and the ball cannons off the post and the defender slides in to clear the ball way but it looks like it has crossed the line.

The referee who is unsure if the ball crossed the line waves play on, only for his assistant to notify him or his watchband to let them know that the ball has in fact crossed the line.

So therefore the referee will change his original decision which was no goal. They will then signal a goal has been given and the original decision will be reversed.

Can an assistant referee change the main referee’s decision?

Sure, assistant referees can change the main referee’s decision.

A classic example of this is during the course of a game, an attacking team has the ball and is driving forward.

A central midfielder is running towards a goal and plays the ball out wide to a winger.

The winger picks up the ball and drives into the penalty box before producing a low cross which finds the striker who slots home the ball. Players celebrate and the referee signals a goal.

However, the assistant referee has his flag up for offside and notifies the main referee that the winger was offside during the build-up to the goal.

After initially signaling that the goal will stand after the assistant intervenes, the original decision will be reversed, and no goal is given.

Another way that an assistant can change a decision is if there is a handball by any player which the referee does not see, so they call to play on, only for the assistant to signal with their flag that a foul has been committed.

Can VAR change the referee’s decision?

As stated above with the assistant referee, yes the VAR can in fact change the referee’s original decision.

Unlike the assistant referee, VAR is only used for goals that are scored and possible red cards, not everything else like an assistant.

VAR is mainly used to check to see if any player is offside in the build-up or if there is a possible handball by any player before the goal is scored.

As we saw last season, VAR produced some horrible decisions that many fans felt were “against” the way soccer is supposed to be played. Often saying a player is offside because a strand of hair was in front of the defender.

However, now the rules are less strict and give the benefit of the doubt to the attacking team. VAR will always check for any fouls or potential offside when a goal is scored.

If the controlling referee signals a goal, VAR will immediately check to see for any possible fouls.

If there is a foul in the build-up to the goal, then the VAR referee will notify the controlling referee that there has been a foul (handball) or offside before the goal was scored.

The original decision which was a goal is then overturned and no goal is given.

Can a referee Reverse a red card?

Yes, they can as long as the ball has not been played after the decision.

Normally the only way this can happen is either the wrong player was shown the red card, or VAR intervenes and states that the foul was not red card worthy.

Can a referee overturn Their decision after the match has restarted?

No, he or she cannot change a restart decision. Even if the referee does realize that the decision is incorrect or if another official notifies them it is incorrect if the match has restarted.

Or the controlling referee has signaled that the half or match has ended at which includes extra time and has left the field.

How long does a referee how do you reverse an advantage decision?

Yes, a referee can reverse a decision. However only if the play has not been restarted.

If the referee has played advantage and it was anticipated that the team taking the advantage is not gaining an advantage, the referee will stop, call it back and then issue a card if the offense is deemed serious enough.

Can a referee cancel a match?

The referee can cancel a match for several reasons. One is darkness or bad weather, for a serious breach of the Laws or if the crowd has interfered in the match.

If this happens only the competition authority has the power to declare a winner, loser or if the match should be replayed.

What happens if the ball hits the referee in soccer 2021?

The laws of the game state that the ball is out of play if it touches a match referee and stays in the field of play and teams have an advantage in attack or the ball hits the referee and goes into the goal.

What happens if a referee scores a goal?

Should a ball strike a referee and result in a turnover, goal, or another opportunity, the play is to be stopped and the restart will be a dropped ball (to the team who last touched the ball).

This happens at the spot where the referee was struck. (The exception is if this happened in the penalty area, in which case the dropped ball will go to the goalkeeper).


So now you know what a referee can do during a game when it comes to changing a decision. Hopefully, you have gained some knowledge that you previously did not have. We hope you enjoyed the read!


Change decision as football referee – Ravshan Irmatov at Confed Cup (

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