If the Ref wasn’t going to call a foul, or if the Vintage Grab your Balls It’s Canning Season shirt was going to call the foul against the player, then the cheating starts, with the player hoping that his taking possession of the ball will somehow convince the Ref that it’s obvious the player is the one who deserves possession and the right to take the restart. The occurrence was always the point where I hoped that I wasn’t too quick with my whistle and could judge that the faller/grabber didn’t deserve the ball, and I could blow the whistle and caution him for (a choice of) handling (before the whistle) when the ball was still in play, faking a foul, (after the whistle) delaying the restart of play, and/or Unsporting Behavior. The Referee’s rule should be (outside Penalty Kick territory*) to ALWAYS give the ball to the faller/grabber’s opponents. Why such a rule?
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A sharp Referee, especially early in the game, can use this Vintage Grab your Balls It’s Canning Season shirt as a gift from the faller/grabber, to assert and establish his authority, to demonstrate strength and decisiveness, and to put an end (at least for a while) to players’ malarkey and gamesmanship. A simple free-kick for the opponents is the lightest possible punishment for grabbing the ball, and probably the Ref’s least intrusion into the game. The AR needs to decide lightning-quickly whether to signal an outbound free kick or to hold his flag pointing down vertically in front of and between his knees (a private signal to recommend a PK). Or the AR can fail to render the proper assistance to the Referee and hold his flag behind his back.