2004 Part 1

Your question:
Question about procedure for penalty kicks: I recently received complaint from keeper stating that before signalling for kick to be taken, I must ask him if he is ready. I told the keeper that before I signal for the kick to be taken, I observe the keeper to be sure he is on his line, I observe the placement of the ball and the kick-taker, and when I think all is in order, I signal for the kick to be taken.

Is this proper procedure and are other details necessary in respect to confirming that players are ready? In this men’s match, I had to caution the keeper for showing dissent when he repeated confronted me on this issue.

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
The USSF Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials gives us the following procedure for the taking of the penalty kick:
P. Penalty Kick
– Whistles to stop play.
– Points clearly to the penalty mark and, unless needed elsewhere for game control purposes, moves to the edge of the penalty area near the goal line to avoid confrontation and dissent.
– Deals with players who may attempt to protest or dispute the decision.
– Supervises the placement of the ball.
– Identifies the kicker.
– Moves to a position in line with the top of the goal area to supervise the penalty kick, far enough from the penalty mark to see all the players.
– When the ball and all the players are properly in position, signals for the kick to be taken.
– If a goal is scored, backpedals quickly up field keeping all the players under observation.

There is no requirement in the Law or the Guide to Procedures to check on the goalkeeper’s readiness, and a close analysis of the situation might suggest that the goalkeeper is playing for time, hoping to ice the kicker. A quick word to the goalkeeper that the kick is about to be taken is all that is necessary.

Your question:
A couple of weeks ago a member of our team was sent off and we would like some clarification about the proper procedure for sending off a player.

Here is the setting: It was a GU15 game with less than 2 minutes to play. In the attacking half our player (sending off player) was played in to the top of the 18. The defender did well to get back and position herself to take the ball with the back foot. Our player did not see the player until she turned towards goal and then ran into the defender.

The official blew his whistle for the foul and then called our player over. He asked our player for her first name. He then asked her last name and how to spell her last name. After he had written her name he told her to turn around. While she was turned away he pulled out his red card and put it in the air.

When our player reached the sidelines I asked what the red was for. She replied I don’t know, he didn’t tell me anything, he just asked for my name, last name, how to spell it and then told me to turn around. She did not realize it was a red until she got to the sidelines and I told her. I asked the official why he red carded her. He said he did not need to tell me. I then asked him to tell the player that was sent off, he said he did not have to.

Although I question his decision for the sending off, I would like some clarification to the rules and procedures for cautions and sending off of players.

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
You asked for procedure, you get procedure! This answer is straight from the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials.” The referee in your case did several things wrong, particularly not informing the player that she had been sent off — although why else would she leave the field; do we have a disconnect here? — and not telling her why.

4. Misconduct­Play Stopped
A. Referee
– Quickly identifies and begins moving toward offending player and beckons player to approach.
– Attempts to draw offending player away from teammates and opponents.
– Discourages others from approaching, interfering or participating.
– Stops a reasonable distance away from offending player and begins recording necessary information.
– States clearly and concisely that the player is being cautioned or sent from the field and displays the appropriate card by holding it straight overhead.
– If the player is being sent off, delays the restart of play until the player has left the field entirely.
– In situations where the event or conduct being penalized includes the potential for retaliation or further misconduct, immediately moves to the location of the misconduct and displays the appropriate card before recording any information.

Your question:
Attacker A passes a through ball to attacker B, who is offside. You blow the whistle for offside; as you are blowing the whistle, defender A trips attacker B. (not violent enough for a card, but if attacker A were not offside a goal scoring opportunity would have been denied). The play occurred midway between the 18 and midfield. What is the call and restart?

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
We don’t deal in “might-have-beens” on goalscoring opportunities. If there was no obvious goalscoring opportunity, then you cannot punish someone for denying or attempting to deny it. As a matter of fact, you can never punish anyone for attempting to deny a goalscoring opportunity–you punish them for unsporting behavior, if that is applicable, which it is not in this case. You are the referee and may certainly caution the defender if you like, but it had better be for the precise thing he did, not something that might have happened.

Correct action in this case would be to have a quiet word with the defender and then restart with the indirect free kick for offside.

Your question:
Is there a limit to the number of “re-takes” of penalty kicks? The question came up after the keeper moved off his line three straight times by 4-6 ft each time. He stopped the first two kicks and the third hit the post after the shooter tried to kick around the keeper. This was a U14b in a very competitive classic league. Both the middle and AR (me) called the encroachment each time. Due to other unfortunate circumstances the match was abandoned after the third kick. Several older more experienced referees starting discussing the situation and several opinions emerged.
1. Middle should have issued a yellow card after the second kick for persistent infringement and warned the goalkeeper that further violations would result in a red card.
2. Encroachment should not have been called on the third try since the shot hit the post. Play should have been allowed to continue.

Being the AR in the middle of this situation I somewhat agree with the first opinion(if game could have continued I would have issued a yellow card after the third attempt); but I disagree with the second opinion. The second opinion encourages future violations of the law.

The unfortunate circumstances involved the mix of the following:
1. Red card to defending team player for foul and abusive language
2. Defending team coach coming onto field
3. Defending team parents becoming abusive and coming onto the field
4. Defending team coach pulling his team off the field (he says he was merely pulling them aside to calm them down but players left the field and subs entered the field)

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
No, there is no limit on the number of retakes that are permitted or required to satisfy the Law. Only the referee on the game can know for sure what should be done in each case of infringement. Common practice is to warn the first time a player infringes the requirements of Law 14, followed by a caution and yellow card for persistent infringement of the Law on the second and subsequent infringements.

It is unfortunate that the game had to be terminated — note correct terminology; in this case the game was not abandoned, but terminated. Proper vigilance by the fourth official (if there was one) could have prevented the coach and parents from entering the field. All circumstances were, of course, fully documented and reported in the referee’s match report.

Your question:
Is there any published guidance or standard practice for establishing this distance? Once the decision has been made to stop play I have been instructed in annual training that it is not appropriate to “step off” 10 yards; rather, the Referee should quickly indicate where the 10-yard distance is “estimated” to be. It was explained that this prevents unnecessary delay of the restart and that the referee looks much more professional being confident in his judgment of 10 yards. I have recently noticed a number of referees “stepping off” distance and defending this as proper mechanics under certain circumstances (close to goal).

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
It is common practice for the referee to establish the distance of the wall by becoming the “first brick in the wall.” As a referee grows more experienced and confident, the distance can be measured by eye and the wall backed off as necessary. The referee should never allow getting the ten yards to interfere with the kicking team’s right to a quick free kick.

Your question:
Recently, I was center and an injury occurred. I permitted the injured player to sub and asked the opposing bench if they would like 1 substitution also. (1 for 1). After the half, one of my AR’s said the rules permitted unlimited substitution at stoppage for injury. I told him that he was thinking about high school not USSF. He seemed sure that the rules had changed for USSF. I went to confirm in the rules but can not find either the original position which allows 1 for 1 or the revision allowing for unlimited substitution. What is the correct position??

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
You are both wrong. The Laws of the Game permit substitution for either team at any stoppage in play, whether for injury or not–and have done so since substitution was first permitted in the Dark Ages before the1930s. Some sets of youth rules formerly restricted substitution artificially, but those rules have now been changed at the national level. But, just to be safe, check the rules of the competitions in which you referee.

Your question:
A defender fouls near the penalty area (or even in the penalty area itself). You wait a second or two for the advantage, but none seems to develop, so you whistle the foul. Just as you whistle, or during the whistle itself, the attacker gets the ball and scores. Can you allow the goal as the actual kick was taken in the second that you whistled, or perhaps even a split second before? Or must you deny the goal and restart with a free kick to the attacking team?

USSF answer (March 11, 2004):
Too many referees would simply allow the goal and go merrily on their way, avoiding controversy and abdicating their responsibilities. Unfortunately, that is wrong and the coward’s way out. Once the referee has decided to punish an infringement of the Laws, play has effectively stopped, whether or not the referee has already blown the whistle. Deny the goal, restart with the free kick or penalty kick, as appropriate to the site of the foul.

In addition, the referee must remember that it is not usually a good idea to apply the advantage in the penalty area. More properly, we hold our whistle to see the IMMEDIATE result of the play (ball in the net or not) and whistle either the kick-off if it did go into the net (the gods of soccer smiled on us) or for a penalty kick if it did not.

Your question:
I am hearing several instructors stating that a player can not wear metal studs, is this a true statement. I wear them and many other players wear them.

USSF answer (March 8, 2004):
No, there is no specific ban in Law 4 on metal studs or studs of any particular type. The sole requirement is that the player’s shoes not be dangerous to himself or to any other player.

Please study this earlier answer and the USSF position paper mentioned in it, available from this and other sites:
USSF answer (November 11, 2003):
If the studs are safe — no burrs or sharp edges — they are probably legal under the terms of Law 4 and the March 7, 2003, U. S. Soccer memorandum on the safety of player equipment. Many competitions ban the use of metal studs, so please check with your local competition authority (league or whatever), just to be sure.

Your question:
At a recent clinic, we had a disagreement about the reduce to equate principle. My colleague asserted that a team that finished with more players than the other (i. e., 10 v 11) could remove its goalkeeper from the list of eligible kickers, but allow him to remain in goal. I believe that the “reduced” player is treated as a player who is sent-off in that he can not participate in anyway. Could you please clear this up for us?

USSF answer (March 8, 2004):
A goalkeeper must remain among the players who take part in kicks from the penalty mark. That means in all aspects of the procedure, not simply keeping goal.

Your question:
I was wondering if a team is allowed to print the team name on the goalposts or the crossbar.

USSF answer (March 8, 2004):
The International Football Association Board, the people who make the Laws of the Game, has indicated that there should be no advertising on the field of play or on the appurtenances (such as the goal).

Your question:
An attacking player commits misconduct (cautionable offence) — simulation in the defenders’ PA. Within the law the referee may stop play immediately or wait until the ball is out of play to caution the culprit. Should the referee stop play to caution the culprit if no advantage accrues to the defenders? Or wait until the ball is out of play? Should the referee stop play to caution the culprit if an advantage accrues to the attackers (culprit team)?

USSF answer (March 5, 2004):
Let us first consider the reason behind the simulation. Was there an actual foul committed by a member of the defending team, followed by an embellishment of the results of the infringement by an opposing player hoping to get a penalty kick or have one of the defending players cautioned or sent off? If so, then it might be reasonable to invoke the advantage and still deal with both players, as necessary, at the next stoppage.

If there was no prior foul or misconduct by a defending player, then there is no reason to invoke the advantage. The referee must consider whether the team offended against would actually benefit from allowing play to continue. It is very often of greater benefit to award a free kick, rather than risk the use of advantage in front of the gaining team’s goal. Why reward a team whose player has committed misconduct by giving them a chance at the opponents’ goal? In principle advantage should normally only be played when a promising attacking move or an obvious goalscoring opportunity would occur.

A good rule to remember is that, in general, we don’t apply advantage to situations in which the infraction is committed BY a member of the team with the ball at the time.

Your question:
In my opinion, grabbing opponent’s shirt looks very bad in the picture of the newspaper (the sportswriters seem to like it and printed often), and also it is a bad habit. However I was told that since the modern shirts are so flexible that the act of pulling would not cause an adverse effect on the opponent enough to warrant a foul call (for high-level plays).

So, do the referees have to make a judgment on whether the shirt being pulled is flexible enough? Besides, isn’t the act of shirt pulling itself constitutes an unfair advantage of gaining body balance at the expense of the opponent?

USSF answer (March 3, 2004):
It makes no difference whether the shirt is “flexible” or not. The referee makes the judgment whether the shirt was pulled (and the player thus held) or not. Then the referees decides whether this act was trivial. If it was trivial, i. e., didn’t make any difference, then the holding is not called.

If the holding is a blatant attempt to pull an opponent away from the ball or prevent an opponent from getting to the ball, then it becomes unsporting behavior and must be cautioned. (See the pictures on page 3 of the Winter 2003-2004 issue of Fair Play, available only on the web at ussoccer.com.)

Your question:
Who is the best person to direct a question towards about a part of the law that is actually misleading and incorrect? Do I have to go through my SDI, SRA, or SDA?

Law 2: The ball is . . of a pressure equal to 0.6 – 1.1 atmosphere (600 – 1100 g/cm2) at sea level (8.5 lbs/sq in15.6 lbs/sq in).

The law shouldn’t state “Sea Level”. That is misleading. Where ever a ball is tested, it tests relative atmospheric pressure. If you use the thumb test, it will test the ball where you are. If you use a pressure gauge, it will also test the ball where you are.

It is true that if you pump up a ball to 8.5 psi in San Diego, and then transport the ball to Denver, the pressure will be off. Conversely, if you correctly inflate a ball in Denver, and take it to Boston, it will not have the correct pressure. It is also true that it may take a different amount of air to inflate that same ball in San Diego, Denver or Boston.

However, all 3 balls, when pumped up to 8.5 (or any stated pressure) will have the same amount of “hardness.” I carry a pressure gauge in my ref bag. That same gauge will work in Denver, Boston or San Diego. And, I don’t need to make any conversion for the altitude. The pressure on the ball should be 8.5 – 15.6 on my gauge, wherever I go.

USSF answer (March 3, 2004):
It is true that the wording of the Law is scientifically incorrect, since a pressure less than 1 atm is a vacuum. The critical point is that everyone who plays the game or is involved with it knows what this is intended to mean, so the exact wording does not really matter.

In fact, the pressure requirements should state “above ambient atmospheric pressure” and in this regard you are correct. However you are not the first to point this out, nor will you be the last. Many “new” officials, especially here in the United States, seize on this point.

Anyone who wishes to propose a change to the Laws of the Game must start first in his or her state association.

Your question:
Does primary color mean that the Gold jersey is always to be worn unless there is a color conflict with one of the team’s uniform? I have seen professional games where the referee crew wears a color other than gold when neither of the two teams has yellow in their uniform.

USSF answer (March 2, 2004):
“Primary color” means that if you have only one uniform jersey, it must be the gold one. Obviously, if there is no color conflict, especially at the local level, that is the shirt everyone must have. What the referees do in professional games should not be used as the yardstick in this matter; other things come into play there, such as what provides the best color contrast for television.

Your question:
Attacker in the PA goes down. The referee clearly determines in his mind that the attacker took a dive (simulation). As the referee is about to blow the whistle, the ball goes to another attacker whose legs are taken out by a defender. The referee awards a PK to the attacking team but cautions the first attacker for simulation. Is this the correct call and restart?

USSF answer (March 1, 2004):
Once the referee has made the decision that misconduct has been committed, he cannot neglect to punish it at the next restart. That does not prevent him from invoking the advantage clause and then dealing with a second infringement of the Laws, provided that the first infringement was committed by an opponent, rather than the team with the ball. In this case, because the referee had already determined in his mind that the attacker’s action was a simulation and therefore misconduct, play stopped at that moment. Advantage cannot be applied because it was a player on the team with the ball who committed the violation.

The referee has only one choice here: Stop play for the attacker’s misconduct (for which he receives a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior) and then, because the next action occurred during a stoppage, warn the defender, and either caution the defender and show the yellow card unsporting behavior) or send off the defender and show the red card (violent conduct), depending on the severity of “legs are taken out” and restart with an indirect free kick for the defense.

Your question:
A recent quiz in Referee Magazine has started some discussion among the referees in my house. By reference, I am a level 8 ref, normally working U18 and down recreational games and currently up to U14 competitive leage games.

In the quiz, the question was asking for the correct restart when B1 fairly charged player A1, who was already being charged by player B1. The given answer (which I later found backed up by the policies for referees document) was a direct kick. The policies discussed this as being holding. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this called, but may have never known to look for it. Is this something which is routinely called, and how quickly should this be called in a youth match?

USSF answer (March 1, 2004):
We are not familiar with any document about policies for referees, other than the Referee Administrative Handbook. Could you possibly mean the Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game?

Yes, this foul is holding, also called a “sandwich,” as the player is sandwiched between two opponents, both of whom are/may be charging fairly. Restart is a direct free kick for the sandwiched player.

Why is it a foul, even though neither of the players making the “sandwich” commits a foul individually? Because they have worked together, against the spirit of the Law, to hold and thus physically restrict, with their bodies, their opponent’s ability to play the ball.

If it is not called routinely, it should be. There is no need for a caution, but a word of warning and explanation to the two players involved would go a long way toward preventing repetition.

Your question:
What are the mechanics for an AR that observes an incorrect throw-in? Also, is the term, “foul throw – in”, correct for this situation?

USSF answer (February 26, 2004):
There are no prescribed mechanics for indicating an incorrect throw-in. The assistant referee, in accordance with the Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials, does what the referee has instructed during the pregame conference. By extension, the AR signal for a foul (and/or misconduct) could be used to indicate ANY infraction of the Law that is not otherwise covered.

Even though it is technically incorrect, the common terminology is “foul throw-in.”

Your question:
A u12 girls state cup match went to penalty kicks after a 0-0 tie in regulation time and 2 10min overtimes. The 2nd girl took her shot and made it but shot before the ref blew his whistle. The ref talked to her and also made a comment to the rest of the girls to make sure and wait for the whistle. He gave the girl another shot and she made it again but again shot before the whistle. At that point he asked her to sit down and did not allow her shot. We won the game in penalty kicks 3-1 and now the other team is protesting stating the ref did not handle it correctly. The best they could have done is tie us even if the shot was allowed and their last kicker had a chance to shoot(last kicker didn’t shoot because we of 2 goal diff). Was this handled correctly?

USSF answer (February 25, 2004):
Reading the description of the situation, we are not sure which mistake the referee may have made: (1) If he forbade the player from shooting again and cancelled her goal but counted her “place” in the rotation as having been taken, this is one sort of error. (2) If he forbade her personally from shooting again but allowed another player from her team to take the kick from the penalty mark in her place, that is a less venal sin.

In either case, the referee did well on the first shot, taken before he had blown the whistle to notify everyone that the kick would now be taken. He should talk to her and warn her that any further infringement of the Law will result in a caution and yellow card for persistently infringing the Laws of the Game. But he didn’t do that; after she took the second shot early again, he forbade the girl from shooting again. If that occurred in possible case (1), the action was wrong and a misapplication of the Laws of the Game. He should have cautioned her, shown the yellow card, and let her shoot again. Maybe she would have gotten it right this time. If the referee simply suggested, as in possible case (2), that another girl take the kick, hoping that the original girl would cool down and figure it out, then he was still in error, as a referee cannot prevent anyone who is eligible from taking a kick. Despite the fact that it was wrong, this error could be put down to common sense and good management, provided he let the original girl kick later — if required.

And finally, if this were recreational play, rather than a state cup or other competitive-level match, the referee might be more lenient and neither warn nor caution the player the first two or three times.

Your question:
This is my first year as a soccer referee, USSF, Grade 8. I have difficulty with some youth matches where both teams are playing a physically over-aggressive style play. If fact the parents and coaches cheer on this dangerous style of play with comments such as, ³don¹t stop, be more aggressive, what did you stop for, that¹s the way to be aggressive². When there is a lose ball (in these type of games there are many) players will run at the ball full speed and collide at the ball. Kind of like a game of chicken.  One player will usually get knock down and scream for a foul, but both players were exhibiting equally dangerous play. How should a referee handle this type of situation? Should a foul be called and on which player when both are at fault? I watch professional matches on television and do not see this type of play. It seems that some youth coaches teach aggression over ball handling skill and technique.  Thanks for your advice!

USSF answer (February 24, 2004):
Despite what youth coaches may teach their players about aggressive play, it is up to the referee to curb and control that play which goes beyond simply aggressive and becomes violent and very dangerous. This is best done by immediately calling each act of that sort of aggressive play and dealing with it strongly and appropriately. It helps if other referees who work these games make the same calls, so that the message gets across to the players and, hopefully, to the coaches, that overly aggressive play will not be tolerated.

We suggest that you take to heart the words of the USSF 2003 publication “Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players”:
1. Serious Foul Play and Violent Conduct
Soccer is a tough, combative sport. The contest to gain possession of the ball should nonetheless be fair and gentlemanly. Any actions meeting these criteria, even when vigorous, must be allowed by the referee.
Serious Foul Play and Violent Conduct are, however, strictly forbidden and the referee must react to them by stringently applying the Laws of the Game.
These two offenses can be defined as follows:
(a) It is serious foul play when a player uses excessive force, formerly defined as “disproportionate and unnecessary strength,” when challenging for the ball on the field against an opponent. There can be no serious foul play against a teammate, the referee, an assistant referee, a spectator, etc.
(b) It is violent conduct when a player is guilty of aggression (excessive force or deliberate violence) towards an opponent when they are not competing for the ball. It is also violent conduct if the excessive force is used when the ball is not in play or if it is directed at anyone other than an opponent (e. g., teammate, referee, assistant referee, coach, spectator, etc.). If the violent conduct is committed against an opponent on the field during play, the restart is a direct free kick for the opposing team where the foul occurred (or a penalty kick if it was committed by a defender inside his penalty area). If the violent conduct is by a player during play against anyone on the field other than an opponent, the restart is an indirect free kick where the misconduct occurred. If the violent conduct is committed during a stoppage of play, the restart is not changed. A dropped ball where the ball was when play is stopped is the correct restart if the violent conduct is committed during play either off the field or by a substitute.

Your question:
In the EPL, I have noticed that on occasion the ref has added 10 yards, or shortened the distance to the goal by 10 yards, the position of a free kick. This per the announcers is for dissent. Will it happen in the US? Where can I find the FIFA rule changes if they are indeed changes?

USSF answer (February 23, 2004):
You will not find any changes, principally because there has been no change. What you are talking about is an experiment that has been going on in England for several years. It is now proposed for adoption as a change to the Laws of the Game effective for competitions that begin on or after July 1, 2004. That will be discussed at a meeting of the International Football Association Board, the people who make the Law of the Game — no, FIFA does NOT do that on its own — on February 28 and 29 in London. The proposed change may or may not be adopted. The change, if it is made, will include reasons for advancing the ball other than simply dissent.

Even after the changes are made, you will do nothing about them until instructions from USSF are disseminated through your state referee program. That is the way the system works. This gives the Federation the time to prepare clearly-defined guidelines for application of the changes to the Laws. It also allows the states to plan clinics in which to brief all referees.

Your question:
A player has the ball on the goal line and is dribbling towards the opponents goal. The goalkeeper comes out to meet the player to challenge for the ball. The player pushes the ball past the goalkeeper, crosses the goal line (leaves the field of play) and the keeper, instead of playing the ball, decides to exit the field of play and deliberately foul the player. This is likely misconduct; however, would it be a penalty kick since the foul occured outside of the field of play?

USSF answer (February 23, 2004):
A foul is an unfair or unsafe action committed by a player against an opponent or the opposing team, on the field of play, while the ball is in play. (Deliberate handling of the ball, also a foul, is committed against the opposing team, not against a particular opponent.) If any of these three requirements is not met, the action is not a foul; however, the action can still be misconduct. In this case, the action occurred off the field of play and so can only be misconduct. The keeper should be cautioned or sent from the field (yellow or red card, depending on whether the action involved violence). If the referee had stopped play solely for the keeper’s action, play would be restarted with a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the exception in Law 8 if this location was inside the goal area).

Your question:
I have a question spurred by something I saw in a tournament last year.  Here’s the situation. During a youth game a mass substitution occurs with both substitutes and players on the field at the same time. (common occurrence for youth games). A red card offense is committed by one of the switching teammates.
I understand that even though proper procedure has not been followed, the substitute becomes a player the instant he steps onto the field. If he were then found guilty of violent conduct during the substitution process, his team would play a man down. What if, after he stepped on the field and became a player, his teammate/counterpart instead committed the violent conduct prior to leaving the field?   Am I correct that this person is a substitute, and although he is ejected, his team remians at full strength?

As a practical matter, once substitutes enter the field in this manner, it’s can be very difficult to reliably identify who the “players” and substitutes” are.

This brings me to my last questions. Do you know of any leagues or competitions where the youth rules are modified such that a team would play short following a red card infraction committed on the field of play, during a substitution, regardless of whether a player or substitute committed the offense? This is being considered as a tournament rule in my area. Is such a modification acceptable for a local USSF-sanctioned youth tournament?

USSF answer (February 23, 2004):
Your intuition is correct. If the new player commits violent conduct during the substitution process or after he has already entered the field (through referee error, but with the referee’s permission), he will be sent off and shown the red card and his team will play short.

As to the former player, even though the referee did not follow the requirements of Law 3, the substitution was completed correctly. The now former player (the one who was substituted out) must be sent off for violent conduct and shown the red card. His team does not have to play short. The game restarts for the reason it had been stopped prior to the substitution.

We are not aware of any rule such as that being considered for the tournament in your area. We can only comment that such a rule would be counter to the Laws of the Game and should not be adopted.

Your question:
An interesting question has come up. How does the referee interpret the law to get a fair result? Or can he?

SITUATION: A defender has stepped across the goal line to put an attacker in an offside position. Unfortunately the AR misses the misconduct and raises his flag. The referee stops play and discovers the misconduct. The defender must be cautioned.

If the caution were for Leaving, the restart would be an IFK to the attackers from where the ball was when play stopped. If the caution were for USB, the restart would be an IFK to the attackers from the place of infringement, which appears to be off the FOP — and thus the restart would have to be a DB.

My understanding is that IFAB has said that it is USB. However, USSF Advice gives the referee a choice (so it appears). 11.10 says USB while 12.28.7 says Leaving. How could (or should) the referee award an IFK to the attackers? Could the culprit ever be penalized for DOGSO even though it is an officiating error that lead to the stoppage.

USSF answer (February 23, 2004):
There is no call for a dropped ball here. The IFAB/FIFA Q&A instructs the referee to allow play to continue and only punish the unsporting behavior at the next stoppage. In the case you describe, the referee would issue the caution for unsporting behavior and show the yellow card, just as if it had been observed by referee and assistant referee during play and allowed to continue until the ball went out of play. The restart will be for whatever reason the play was stopped; i. e., goal kick, corner kick, throw-in, etc.
NOTE: The offense occurs as the player leaves the field, not once the player is already off the field. See below.

However, if the referee had stopped play solely to deal with the unsporting conduct of leaving the field in an attempt to put an attacker in an offside position, then the restart would be an indirect free kick, taken from the place where the misconduct occurred — which is where the defender left the field. The misconduct is not “off the field” (which would then require a dropped ball), but the act of bringing the game into disrepute by leaving the field to place the opponent in an offside position. The indirect free kick would be taken on the goal line at the place where the player left the field (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).

Your question:
If a coach or assistant coach of a team is not happy with the call that the line ref has made, can the coach or assitant coach request that a certifier or another ref be brought onto the field where the game is in session, who was not scheduled to ref the game to begin with? Also, can they have the certifier or another ref then stop the game and intervene the time of play when the center ref has not called for stoppage of play, so that the certifier or another ref, can train the line ref. Does this not interfere with the game, as well as affect the confidence of the line ref.?

What can I do to bring this to the attention of the right people in authority? Please advise me on this.

USSF answer (February 17, 2004):
If a coach has a problem with an official, the only recourse available is a written report to the appropriate authorities: the State Referee Administrator, the State Youth Referee Administrator, and the assignor. Nor does any other referee or assessor or instructor or assignor have any right to interfere with any game played under the auspices of the U. S. Soccer Federation.

Your recourse is the same as that available to the coach — call and then write to the appropriate authorities.

Your question:
White team is attacking down the right wing in front of AR2. Black player is waiting to substitute, but becomes impatient and enters the field of play during live play. White team player decides that this is not fair and decides to punch the “on the fly” substitute. AR1 and 4th Official get the attention of the Referee. Referee blows the whistle. Ball is now dead on the far side of the field. Referee comes over, gets all the above information from the AR1 and 4th official. Referee issues a Yellow Card to Black Player for Misconduct for entering the field w/o permission and has the Black player return to the bench. Referee issues a Red Card to the White Player for Misconduct for Striking the Black Player. The White Player is “Sent Off” and the White Team now plays with one less man for the rest of the match. What is the correct restart?

USSF answer (February 16, 2004):
The answer will be found in the IFAB Q&A, Law 3, Q&A 13:
13. A substitute enters the field of play without having obtained the permission of the referee. While the ball is in play, an opponent punches him. What action should the referee take? The referee stops play, sends off the player guilty of violent conduct, cautions the substitute for entering the field of play without the permission of the referee and restart the game by an indirect free-kick for the team of the substitute at the place where the infringement occurred.* [The asterisk refers to the special circumstances described in Law 8.]

This is a change from the published edition, made by FIFA after the 2000 Q&A was published. The indirect free kick restart should actually be FOR the team of the substitute (the Black team; because of the violent conduct of the White Player), rather than against the Black team.

Your question:
Recently FIFA changed the offside law and there has apparently been chaos in Europe since then. I’d like to know what kind of changes they actually made and how this rule will change the game.

USSF answer (February 16, 2004):
Whoa! There have been absolutely no changes to Law 11, but simply a restating of how the Law should be interpreted. There will be no change in the way the referee should call the offside in the United States.

Your question:
I want to be sure of the procedure when a Keeper is ejected. Question: A field player must take over the responsibility of goal keeper when the starting keeper is ejected? Now, at the next appropriate sub situation the coach could replace this goal keeper with one from the bench?

USSF answer (February 16, 2004):
When a goalkeeper is sent off and shown the red card, he may not be replaced. A team must have a goalkeeper, so there are several possibilities for what happens next. One of the players already on the field may take over as goalkeeper. Or, provided there are substitutions remaing, the team may substitute a new goalkeeper in for one of the other players. The end result, in either case, is that the team must continue the match with one fewer player on the field.

And, as a clarification of terminology, players are not “ejected” from soccer games. They may be “sent off” or “dismissed” or even “ordered from the field,” but never “ejected.”

Your question:
If a Ref gives a yellow and the player knocks it out of your hand do you give him a red?

USSF answer (February 16, 2004):
If, in the opinion of the referee, the player’s action constitutes dissent, the referee must caution the player and shown him the yellow card, and then send off and show the player a red card for having committed a second cautionable offense. If, on the other hand, the referee believes the act to constitute violent conduct, the referee would send off the player immediately and show him the red card. Full details must be included in the referee’s match report.

Your question:
I have read the advice on allowing player access to water. Is there advise/suggestions to how a Referee or an AR can get water during play? I am thinking about situations when the temp is around 100 and the competition guidelines do not allow for a “water break.”

USSF answer (February 14, 2004):
The referee and assistant referee should exercise common sense and hydrate well before all games during hot weather. They should also find a sheltered place to leave a bottle of water near the field, so that they can get a drink during a natural break in play.

If all else fails, consider this: If the officials are feeling the adverse effects of heat and humidity, it is a sure bet that the players are also and thus a break for them might be in order — something that clearly comes under the referee’s responsibility for player safety.

Your question:
We have more and more situations in which the players are wearing “wooden beads” either tightly against the head or has part of a braided hair style.  We are trying to get the message across that these would be considered “adornment” and thus jewlelry and not allowed because of the dangerous nature of these beads to the player or their opponent.

Is there an official wording or some advise you can give me on how to approach this?  This has become mainly a cultural and age-related issue and we want to handle it in the best way possible.  I am told that these hairdos can cost upwards of $150.  My advice to coaches would be to quickly tell their players (and parents) not to spend the money during soccer season!

What is USSF’s take on this?

USSF answer (February 13, 2004):
Beads and other decorative items are not part of the required equipment for players and cannot be sanctioned for wear in competitive play. Law 4 – Player Equipment – tells us:
The basic compulsory equipment of a player is:
– a jersey or shirt
– shorts — if thermal undershorts are worn, they are of the same main color as the shorts
– stockings
– shinguards
– footwear

The referee must enforce the Laws of the Game, particularly as they apply to the safety of players. Law 4 tells us that players must not wear jewelry of any kind. There is only one permissible exception to the ban on jewelry: medicalert jewelry that can guide emergency medical personnel in treating injured players and certain religious items that are not dangerous and not likely to provide the player with an unfair advantage. Beads, as decorative items, must be considered as jewelry. They can also be dangerous, particularly at the end of braids. For these reasons, they are not permitted

If questioned by players, you simply refer them to Law 4. If they do not wish to remove their beads to conform with the Law, inform them that the only alternative to removing the beads or jewelry (or other unauthorized equipment) is not to play at all.

NOTE: For further information on the requirements of the Law for player safety, see the USSF National Program for Referee Development’s position papers of 7 March 2003 on “Player’s Equipment” and 17 March 2003 on “Player Equipment (Jewelry).”

Your question:
What is the rule on Goal Keeper Safety? For Example, if the the goalie has possession of the ball from a diving save. What constitutes his rights once he has made possession of the ball. And his opponents trying to kick at the supposed ball.
Thank You, from a concerned parent.

USSF answer (February 12, 2004):
The goalkeeper establishes possession with as little as one finger on the ball, provided the ball is under his control (in the opinion of the referee) and the ball has been trapped against the ground or some other surface — the ‘keeper’s other hand, the ground, or even a goalpost.

If a player attempts to kick the ball from the goalkeeper’s hands, then the referee should stop the game for the foul of attempted kicking and caution the player for unsporting behavior (and show the yellow card), restarting with a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team. If the player’s foot makes contact with the goalkeeper during this action, the referee may consider sending the player off for serious foul play and showing him the red card.

The position of goalkeeper carries with it implicit dangers of heavy contact with other players. That is an accepted fact of the game. Other than being privileged to deliberately handle the ball within his own penalty area, the goalkeeper has no more rights than any other player.

Your question:
Where can I find the USSF publications “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials” and “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”?

USSF answer (February 11, 2004):
You can download the 2003 edition of the Guide to Procedures at this URL:

You can download the 2003 edition of the Advice to Referees at this URL:

Your question:
When a coach is red carded and is serving his one game suspension, can he sit in the stadium and watch the game? In addition, is he allowed to coach his keeper during half time?

USSF answer (February 11, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game no coach may be shown the red card. (But check the rules of the particular competition.) The answer to the remainder of your question depends on the rules of the competition in which the coach is active. In a nutshell, please check the rules of the competition.

Your question:
I would like some guidance on interpreting the concept of the “materialization” of an advantage in the Advice to Referees. It is clear in a case, for example, where a player is fouled but continues to advance, or a teammate takes immediate control of the ball and continues an attack.

In one of my games I had a situation where a player made a high, arcing pass from about forty yards out to a teammate at the top of the arc of the penalty area, marked by two opponents, in a counterattack situation and was tackled (with foul) a small fraction of a second later. In this case, if I choose to apply the advantage clause, should I consider the advantage to have materialized a) because of the fact that the pass was made (I judged that the foul did not affect the quality of the pass) whether or not the teammate receives it b) if the pass landed in a place where the teammate had a chance to settle it, or c) if the teammate actually managed to settle the ball?

The players in question are about 18 year old competitive-level players. A professional player would have had a good chance to get a shot off in this situation, but with these players, although definitely possible, I wouldn’t say it was likely. Do I consider ability level?

USSF answer (February 9, 2004):
The referee should consider the skill levels of players in any decisions made during a game, no matter what the level.

In applying advantage, it is important to remember that the advantage is not a “right” and that the referee may have reasons for not giving the advantage even if the fouled team does or could retain control of the ball. For example, violent fouls may demand a stoppage of play where the offense is clearly severe and the advantage is only questionable. It is also important to remember that the referee may invoke the advantage for a foul which includes misconduct (unless it is violent, see the previous sentence), but the referee can come back to punish the misconduct at the next stoppage of play.

In the case you put forward, the simple fact that the player passing the ball was able to get off the pass is immaterial if, based on the specific positions and skill levels of the players, there was a real question in your mind that the fouled team would in fact not recapture control of the ball. The advantage, in the opinion of the referee, must either exist in fact or be considered highly likely. It does not, however, have to be absolute. In the case of a pass down field, the referee can decide in his mind to apply advantage because the conditions are present for the team to keep or quickly regain control of the ball. If, after 2-3 seconds, it does not, then the referee can signal a stoppage of play for the original foul. If more than this amount of time passes and the team does not keep or regain control, both the advantage and the foul have passed. Don’t forget to deal with any misconduct at the proper time.

Your question:
The other day in a HS match, a player was sitting on a ball and was trying to play it. An opponent did not hesitate and tried hard to gain possession of the ball. Not surprisingly she missed and the girl on the ground was kicked hard. She got up angry and started to charge the opponent. My partner blew his whistle and did a good job of separating the players. His call was ‘dangerous play’ and the opponent was awarded an indirect free kick. The opposing coach and the sidelines objected strenuously, but things calmed down after the ruling was explained. My question: right call, considering that the opponent did not hold back? Should the call have have gone the other way and been kicking on the part of the responding player? Thank you for your input.

USSF answer (February 9, 2004):
It would seem nearly impossible to sit “on” the ball and still attempt to play it. Two possibilities come to mind: (1) If you mean that the player was on the ground near the ball and trying to play it from that position, then the answer is clear: The player who kicked her deliberately must be sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card. (2) If you mean that the player was lying on top of the ball and attempting to get up to play it, the answer is the same.

A player who has fallen is allowed to play the ball while on the ground. If a player on the ground cannot play the ball and makes no effort to get out of the way or to play the ball and then get out of the way, then the referee must decide that this player has played dangerously, stop play, and award an indirect free kick to the opposing team.

There can be no decision for “playing dangerously” if contact is made; at the moment of contact the act becomes a direct free kick foul. The call for a simple foul must be either kicking or striking (whichever is appropriate), but if the player who fouled used excessive force, then the referee has no choice but to send off the player.

Your question:
Law 12 states “A player who has been sent off must leave the vicinity of the field of play and the technical area.” We had a situation where 2 players were sent off for violent conduct and the referee told the players to “go to the parking lot.” This was an Open Rec league (players over 18 and above) Sanctioned game. The manager of the team insists that it means the immediate area of the field and technical area..ie the stands. The referee involved wants them out of sight. How do you and US Soccer define ‘vicinity’ Thank you

USSF answer (February 9, 2004):
Law 12 tells us: “A player who has been sent off must leave the vicinity of the field of play and the technical area.” That means that the player must remain out of sight and sound of the field, i. e., they may not stand or sit in the spectator area, including the seats in a stadium. That applies to the players in a league such as you describe.

However, in many circumstances, particularly involving youth players, it may not be possible to apply this requirement strictly. The primary objective of the requirement is to ensure that a player who has been sent off will no longer in any way interfere with, participate in, or otherwise be involved in subsequent play. The failure of a player who has been sent off to meet this objective cannot result in any further disciplinary action against the player by the referee but all details of any incident must be included in the game report. If this is not practical because of the age or condition of the player, the team authorities are responsible for the behavior of the player or substitute.

Your question:
In a HS game on Thursday (I know, HS) a striker was pulled down by the opposing team’s GK. There was no attempt to play the ball the striker was just wrestled to the ground. The ball actually went into the goal. I thought “a goal and a red card for the GK”. Wrong the center ref pulled the ball out of the back of the net and placed it on the penalty spot. I thought that seems a little odd. The assistant ref on the opposite side of the field started yelling at the center but the center ref refused to acknowledge him. The penalty kick was taken and missed. No card was given and the game continued. Could this have been the correct call?

USSF answer (February 9, 2004):
As you acknowledge, we cannot presume to answer questions based on high school rules. If this question were based on the Laws of the Game, the answer would be that the referee committed several grievous errors.

Because the ball entered the goal, the goalkeeper could not be sent off for denying a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity — but the referee should have allowed the goal. Also, as you describe the situation, the ‘keeper should have been sent off and shown the red card for serious foul play or violent conduct, depending on the exact circumstances of the “wrestling.”

It was wrong to deny the attacker’s team the goal; the referee should have invoked the advantage.

In addition, the referee should have at least communicated with the assistant referee.

Your question:
1. What does AR do when there is a goal scored from over 20 yards out and the ball clearly hit the back of the net, does AR still need to run all the way from the 20 some yards’ second-to-the-last-defender position to the end line then run back? Or the AR can just run a little toward the goal then run back toward the centerline?

2. A high kick toward the goal with both sides jumping to head the ball, the goalie jumped up and slap the ball away, then one attacking player tap a bouncing ball toward the goal. At this point, two attacking players were still left there, within 2 yards of the goal, they did not move but the ball was moving toward them, the last defender tried to clear the ball but the ball touched off her leg and went in as an own goal. The 11.5 stated “mere presence anywhere on the field should not be considered distraction to the opponents”, however the last defender in my example clearly “affected” by the two offside opponents that were right in front of her. There was no time for the defender to realize the offside otherwise she can simply let the goalie to take care of the ball.

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
1. While the assistant referee should always run every ball to the goal line, if it is clear that the ball has hit the back (and not the outside) of the net, then the AR may discontinue the run, communicate (check visually) with the referee, and then run toward the halfway line.

2. It is not clear that the two attackers actually affected the play of the defenders. The defender was supposed to play the ball out of danger, not watch the opposing attackers. Goal.

Your question:
If the goalie is looking up, jumping in the air for the ball, is it within the rules of the game for an opponent to run into the goalie in order to block her?

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
If the goalkeeper, standing in her penalty area, does not have possession of the ball, an opponent may charge her fairly in an attempt to gain control. However, if the goalkeeper is in the air and going for the ball, there is no way to charge her fairly, so the referee would call a foul.

Your question:
In [a recent game], the referee stopped the game to have a player remove his leggings, the same color as the uniform, on the basis they were not permitted, but could be permitted if all team members were wearing same item. Also asked all players to remove headbands and gloves. A Rule of those State Cup rules seems to allow under-clothing such as that. Is the issue one of safety, in the ref’s discretion? The Rules say they shall control, and it appears as if leggings, at least, are permitted (with no requirement of the entire team wearing them). Are there any violations here of applicable rules? What might a coach do during the match if/when such a referee’s decision has been made?

Next question: Are the somersault-flip throw-ins definitely permitted?

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
The rules of the competition rule and, if the referee accepts the assignment, he or she must abide by those rules. Leggings? Has anyone but cowboys or loggers worn leggings (chaps) since the 19th Century?

A coach may do nothing during the match about any decision of the referee. If it seems necessary, the coach may submit a report to the appropriate authorities after the match. To do anything else during the match would likely be considered irresponsible behavior, for which offense the coach would be dismissed by the referee.

Yes, the flip throw-in is definitely permitted, as long as the requirements of Law 15 are followed.

Your question:
During a U-17 boys premiere game, I was the AR on the coaches side of the field. The ball was kick out in the defensive side of the field by the attacking team at about half way between the the half and the top of the 18 and at such an angle after it went out, it rolled along the touch line and well behind the defenders goal line before being retrieved. I looked over my right shoulder observing the defender chasing down the ball and once he grabbed the ball, I looked back at the field anticipating the defender coming around to my left side where the ball went out and where the players were congregating for the throw-in. Instead the defender quickly throws the ball in at an area about 6 yards back from the top of the 18 to his goal keeper who punts the ball 3 quarters of the way down the field. I look at the center ref who is a State Referee and wait for an indication that the throw-in was incorrect (much more than 1 yard from the exit point). There was no response from the center, so I didn’t raise my flag. In addition, the coach for the defender was very experienced (English) and I’m certain that he has coached his players to make that kind of play in that particular instance. I asked the center at half time and he said that there was no advantage to him throwing in to his keeper, so he let them play on. I begged to differ (I thought to myself), the keeper had a tremendous kick and had already demonstrated his ability several times in the first half. Plus, the attacking team was also anticipating that the ball was going to be thrown in approximately where it went out, thus losing advantage to play the ball by being so far from the surprise throw-in.  I have asked several referees about this situation and have received several different answers. Please guide me to the correct procedure should this happen again!

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
Heaven spare us from referees who think “it doesn’t matter” if a player does not make an honest effort to put the ball into play from the right place. The referee should have stopped play and had the throw-in taken from the correct spot — within 1 yard/meter from the place where it left the field, in accordance with the requirements of Law 15.

With regard to concepts, please erase the use of “advantage” from situations like this, where it certainly does not apply.

Your question:
A question has been raised about the legality of the following common coaching practice and tactic employed by players: On corner kicks, prior to the kick, defenders on the near and far goal posts are grabbing the goal posts. I believe this tactic is intended to orient the defenders to the goal as well as prevent attackers from slipping in behind the defenders. There is nothing in the rules which addresses this practice. I believe that it is illegal for a kicker to grab or move the corner flag while taking a corner kick. I also believe its unsportsmanlike conduct both for the GK to grab the crossbar to gain leverage to kip up to block a high shot on goal or a crossing pass and for a player to grab the crossbar and swing on it in general or while celebrating a goal specifically. Using this reasoning that a player may not grab or hang onto any piece of field equipment, I believe that a player may not grab the goal post during play as described.

Please advise me as to the USSF position on this tactic.

P. S. I failed to mention an additional reason for defenders holding onto goal posts: preventing attackers from taking up a strategic position next to the goal post and, if the defender is already positioned there, preventing attackers from moving in between the defender and the goal post.

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
Most defenders grab the goal post simply to maintain a feel for where it is as they move. As long as the defender does not use the post to support himself or keep his arm on it to bar an opponent from getting through, there is no offense.

Your question:
Based on some issues that have come up in recent tournaments, I have a question regarding the policy on page 35 of the Referee Administrative Handbook. This policy looks at how the referee team is to be staffed. It considers three kinds of officials who might work a match. They are: (FR) a Federation Referee, (NL) a neutral club linesman who is not registered, and (AL) a club linesman who is affiliated with one of the teams and not registered.

The prioritized list for staffing officials is:
Priority Center AR1 AR2

This policy statement raises a few questions in my mind.

We all know that the set of officials assigned to a match may turn out to be different from the set of officials that actually works the match. So my first question is simple: is this policy directed exclusively toward Assignors, or is it also intended to be also used at the field when one of the assigned officials is not present/able to work the game?

If the policy is to be used when trying to reassemble a full crew at the field, then there are more questions.

Second question. I am a registered Referee. If I take my child to play a match and one of the ARs does not show up, I am often asked to assist. For purposes of that match, what am I? There is no category for a Federation Referee who is affiliated with one of the teams. (I always carry my referee bag along because I typically officiate a match later the same day, so the availability of a uniform should effect the answer here.)

Third question. This list does not allow me to use both a Federation Referee (FR) and an Affiliated Linesman (AL) on the side lines. If I am the Center referee and one of my ARs does not show up, it is rare to find someone in attendance who could be considered an Neutral Linesman (NL). I typically recruit and briefly train a parent or sibling to serve as a club linesman. Another common response at the field is to run with one AR and modify the coverage pattern used by the Center. (Duals are forbidden here.) Is either of these common practices acceptable under the USSF policy? If I were to follow this list religiously, I would have to dismiss my trained partner and use two ALs. Common Sense says to ignore the list and use the skills of the officials at hand; but I have read of matches being protested because the referee team didn’t follow this policy in the Referee Administrative Handbook.

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
Your descriptors for the club linesmen are not quite as we would view them. For the sake of clarity, we will refer in this answer to referees, assistant referees, affiliated officials (who can be either referees or assistant referees), and club linesmen. In addition, page 35 in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) is based on the way games are assigned and not necessarily on the way they are actually worked by crews of officials, whether affiliated with the Federation or not. Use of the dual system of control is not permitted in games played under the aegis of U. S. Soccer.

If three affiliated officials are assigned to the game, but one does not turn up, the referee may fill in with either another affiliated official who happens to be present or with a club linesman from one of the teams. If the affiliated official who happens to be present is tied to one of the teams through friendship or blood, that official must work as a club linesman, rather than as a neutral official.

If there are two affiliated officials present and no one can be found to fill the third position, then the referee will run on one side of the field — inside the field, of course — and the other will function as an AR on the other side of the field — outside the field and with no whistle, only a flag.

Let it be clear that someone affiliated with the team in any way can serve only as a club linesman, no matter how otherwise qualified he or she may be, and may therefore only perform the single function given to the club linesman.

Your question:
I have a quick question regarding the powers of the referee.

SCENARIO: Player is struck in the head and falls to the ground injured. The player has, in my opinion sustained an injury severe enough to incapacitate him (I am also a qualified boxing/kickboxing official, and as such am duly trained in recognition of acute impairment due to head blows). The player leaves the game as the laws require. The player subsequently wants to return to the game (this is a youth match with unlimited substitution allowed)

APPLICABLE LAW: The laws state that a player must receive permission to re-enter the field of play after going off for treatment of an injury.

QUESTION: Would I be within my rights to deny permission to re-enter the match, based on the fact that I deem the player to be incapacitated, and am duly trained to recognize such incapacity?

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
Law 5 gives the referee the sole authority to decide what is or is not a serious injury, but only for the purpose of stopping play. While that judgment may be more or less informed by whatever training the referee may have outside of soccer, this does not change the essential nature of the referee’s responsibility or authority here. The referee has no authority to deny entry back to the field for any reason which is not specifically delineated in the Law (e. g., correction of illegal equipment, cleaning up of blood, etc.) if the proposed re-entry is in all other respects legal.

As stated above, the referee in the circumstances described cannot refuse entry of the player back onto the field. However, once play resumes (if it was stopped) or once the player actually enters the field (if permission was given to return while play was continuing, if no substitution occurred originally), the referee’s decision needs to be based on the player’s subsequent performance, not on a preconceived notion that the injury “probably” continued. If the referee believes that the player continues to be “seriously injured,” the referee may act on this, even if the player disagrees. For example, the referee would be justified in stopping play if a player had gotten a knock on the head and, in his befuddlement, wasn’t able to recognize his impairment, or if a player was in the obvious first stages of heat stroke.

In all events, the judgment depends on the age/experience of the player. The referee should be more prepared to take such action with younger players than with senior amateurs.

And if the referee must continue to stop play because the player keeps insisting that he is okay and keeps asking to return to the field every time he is ordered off, so be it. In the end, one of the two will have to reassess his position — and guess who that will be.

Your question:
Blue team starts a quick counter-attack. So quick that the only defender back is the goalkeeper. The goalie, seeing this picks up a 12 inch tree branch (goalkeeper is in the penalty area). As blue shoots the ball the keeper reaches over his head with the branch extended and knocks the ball down. What’s the decision??

My thought is this… Since the GK is in his own penalty area the use of the tree branch is an extension of his hand. Therefore, I would blow the whistle, caution the GK for USB and restart with an indirect free kick at the spot of the infraction. There is no penalty kick nor should the GK be sent of for DOGSO. Reason being that the GK is allowed to use their hands in the penalty area so how could there be a PK?? There is no penal foul nor is there DOGSO.

Situation changes slightly should the GK throw the branch at the ball. In this case the keeper is sent off for DOGSO because the branch has now left his hand and is no longer an extension of the hand. Restart is still an IFK at the point of the foul. The same scenario would apply if a different player other than the GK threw an outside agent to prevent the ball from entering the goal.

I can’t see how a PK could be given in any of these circumstances. Thoughts??

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
The goalkeeper is indeed guilty of unsporting behavior, for which he should be cautioned and shown the yellow card. If the referee believes that the unsporting behavior — which is punishable by an indirect free kick — denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick, then the goalkeeper must also be sent off and shown the red card for the offense. No penalty kick could be awarded to the offended team.

Your question:
Our SRA has promulgated a policy that grade 9s have to have a minimum of 25 centers of recreational games to be eligible for the bridge class to grade 8. This seems impractical for those clubs who do not have a house/recreational program and exclusively use their grade 9s as A/Rs for competitive travel games. For example, a younger referee whom I know has about 50 ARs of competitive games including the state tournament, but is technically ineligible for the bridge class because our club does not have a recreational program.

It seems to me that if a grade 9 does some minimum number of A/Rs of competitive travel games, that they too should be eligible for the bridge course.

USSF answer (January 30, 2004):
Grade 9 officials may do centers or lines on U-14 RECREATIONAL games. They may also act as assistant referees on U-14 COMPETITIVE games, but may not be the referee on U-14 competitive games.

U. S. Soccer has no restrictions on how long a person must be a grade 9 before taking the bridge course — neither in time in grade nor in game count.

Your question:
I have encountered or seen the following situation several times: An attacker A1 passes the ball towards, but not directly to, his teammate A2 who is in an offside position but also in a position to score or continue the attack with his teammates. From the ref’s viewpoint it is most likely but not certain that the ball can be retrieved by the goalie before A2 can play the ball. Should the ref : (1) call offside immediately and not risk a possible score or continued advantageous play by the offense, or (2) wait to see how the play develops. Should the ref base his decision on which event would likely be more advantageous to the defense – an IFK for offside or allowing the play to continue thereby giving the goalie his options for a counterattack? Also if the ref decides to delay his decision and A2 scores or sets his team up for a score, how much time does he have to then call offside? In this case the AR may or may not have signalled for offside.

USSF answer (January 30, 2004):
We cannot make this decision for the referee, who must balance everything so far observed in the game to reach the correct decision.

First things first: The job of the referee on offside is NOT to make judgments about “what is more advantageous” to a team. Advantage is applied to infringements of Law 12, not Law 11. Infringements of Law 11 either occur or they do not. An infringement of Law 11 MAY be considered trifling and not called for this reason if the ball leaves the field and the restart is the functional equivalent to an indirect free kick (e. g., a goal kick for the defenders).

Assistant referees are taught not to flag for offside position, but to wait until it is clear that there is an offside offense. In other words, as a pure issue of joint decision making by referees and ARs, the referee should take an AR’s signal for offside as a clear indication of offside position and a probable indication of an offside violation (i.e., involvement in active play). It remains the job of the referee to confirm the latter based on his sometimes better view. (This should be reinforced in the pregame discussion among the officials. If the referee does not bring it up, then the AR should ask.) If the AR has flagged for the offense, the referee could wait and see what happens, but this might lead to problems later. If the player who was in the offside position at the moment his teammate played the ball gets to the ball first, the referee will blow the whistle immediately.

Normally, the best option for the referee is to allow the players to play as much as possible without interference, but to “interfere” when there may be a problem brewing. Allowing a goal to be scored by an offside player is certainly asking for trouble from both teams, even if it is immediately corrected.

Your question:
I have a friend who is an excellent coach and also a skilled player. I cannot get him to believe me as to the following question concerning offside. I would appreciate a response from you that I can print out and show him. He is of the belief that if every opponent except the keeper crosses the halfway line his players are now free to cross into the attacking half and there can be no offside because the opponents have given up their right to have his players put into a position of gaining an advantage and they are not in offside position even though,as I explained to him,they are nearer to the opponents goal then both the ball and the next to last defender. Here’s the question.

The defending opponents are playing an offside trap. All 10 of the outfield players cross the halfway line (i.e. into their opponent’s half of the field). A coach claims that once all the outfield opponents cross the halfway line, his players cannot be sanctioned for offside and are now free to cross into the opponent’s half of the field and not be in offside position even though they are still nearer the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent,which is, by definition, offside position. I have said that if they are in that position,and become actively involved in play, they should be sanctioned for offside. He claims that his players cannot gain an advantage once all the outfield players cross the halfway line. I have also said that gaining an advantage has nothing to do with this scenario as it only pertains to balls being deflected from the crossbar,goalposts,or keepers and if one of his players plays the ball to one of these players in the attacking half of the field,they would be interfering with play, and sanctioned for offside. Would greatly appreciate an official response as I don’t want him to be teaching his players wrongly.

USSF answer (January 25, 2004):
Law 11 – Offside – specifically states: “A player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent.” The Law excuses any and all members of the defending team — including the last and second-last players — from being in their own half of the field of play. They may cross into the opposing team’s half without changing or violating any of the requirements of Law 11. The Law also allows any member of the opposing team to position himself anywhere on the field of play — at the risk of being in an offside position if he is in the defending team’s half and nearer to the defending team’s goal line than both the ball and the last two players of the defending team, no matter where they may be on the field of play.

A player of the attacking team who is in the opposing team’s half of the field of play and both ahead of the ball and nearer to the opposing team’s goal line than the second-last opposing player is in an offside position — no matter where on the field the second-last player may be. The player in the offside position is penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by interfering with play or interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage by being in that position. In the situation your friend puts forth, the player in the offside position would be considered to have gained an advantage from his offside position and would be penalized for offside.

NOTA BENE: If this player was not found to be offside at the moment of the pass, he could be determined to be so later, if he remains in an offside position and becomes involved in play later.

Your question:
[NOTE: This question has been greatly abridged.] I need some help on this Q & A from the “When the Assistant Referee is Vulnerable” training module. On reviewing this for the umpteenth time I see this in a number of ways.

Offside Responsibility vs. GK distribution
(GK holding ball while crossing 18 yd Line)
Preventive technique:
When AR covers goalkeeper distribution, referee should assume offside responsibility until AR moves to position with 2nd last defender

[We see the following areas as worthy of consideration:]

First, how good are the field lines? Are they so bad that the AR has to be virtually in line with the 18 to be able to judge or can he see well enough from a distance to be able to judge? [snipped]

Second, what level of competition is the match? At higher levels, the players will retreat farther to await the gk’s punt/throw. The farther they retreat, the farther out of position the AR will possibly be to judge offside. Also, with respect to the level of competition, how important is it to “catch” the gk coming out of the area? [snipped] The question of the referee’s fitness, in this case, may come into play. Can he get there in time on a quick counter? If not, the AR will have to be able to get there to judge.

Finally, the AR’s most important responsibility remains the offside/no offside decision. I think the crew that emphasizes the importance of the gk in/out of the area during his distribution over the AR¹s primary responsibility of offsides is taking a risk. If the gk DOES leave his area and the players, fans, etc. see it, it will not cause as much turmoil nor possible game control problems as a missed or incorrect offside decision. Yes

Obviously, both plays have to be seen and that needs to be stressed; however, if one must be overlooked more than the other, gk in/out is the less serious of the two possible incidents.

Are we thinking too much about this?

USSF answer (January 19, 2004):
The USSF “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials” tells us essentially the same thing as the “When the AR is Vulnerable” training module:
· At the position to observe where the ball is anticipated to drop.
Assistant Referee
· Verifies the goalkeeper does not handle the ball outside of the penalty area.
· Follows the ball up field to cover offside (may begin moving earlier if obvious that the goalkeeper is not in a position to handle the ball outside the penalty area).

There is no single optimal answer to all the variations possible in this situation. The referee and assistant referee must learn to adjust to varying circumstances, no matter what the level of play or the skill of the players.

Yes, you are thinking too much about the problem, rather than simply getting down to the business of managing play.

Your question:
Where does it state in the Laws of the Game or any other official materials what the purpose of the goal area is (other than the place from which goal kicks are taken)? Also, is there any reference to special protection for goal keepers in the goal area?

USSF answer (January 19, 2004):
The goal area has changed shape, size, and role several times during its history. Nowadays its primary roles are to provide a place for the goal kick to be taken and to act as a buffer zone for dropped balls and for opposing indirect free kicks within six yards of the goal. See Law 8 (Special Circumstances) and Law 13 (Free Kick Inside the Penalty Area). That is, of course, in addition, to the information in Law 1 (The Field of Play) and Law 16 (The Goal Kick).

No, there has been no specific “special protection” for the goalkeeper within the goal area since the laws were rewritten in 1997. Now the goalkeeper has no greater protection than any other player within the goal area. (See Law 12.)

Your question:
Situation: PK. Normal mechanics. Nothing unusual until someone other than the identified kicker takes the kick. Ball is saved by the goalie. At a local clinic, answers from the participants ran the gamut. Caution the kicker, caution the kicker and the identified kicker. One said blow the whistle to issue the caution(s) when the goalkeeper held the ball. Ay yi yi!!!, we had it all! I finally got them roped in a bit, but the room ended up being split between 1) caution and retake the kick, and 2) allow advantage and keep play going (possibly cautioning erroneous kicker later)

Do you give the other team another bite at the apple?

USSF answer (January 18, 2004):
The answer to your question will be found in the IFAB/FIFA Q&A, under Law 14, Q&A 12:
12. When a penalty kick is being taken and after the referee has given the necessary signal, a team mate of the player identified to take the kick suddenly rushes forward and takes it instead. What action does the referee take?
a. If the ball leaves the field of play?
b. If the ball is pushed out by the goalkeeper?
c. If the ball is deflected by the goalkeeper, rebounds into play and the player who took the kick scores a goal?

In all three cases the referee orders the penalty kick to be retaken, since the correct procedures for taking a penalty kick have not been followed. The referee may caution the team mate of the identified kicker for unsporting behavior.

Your question:
I received an assessment as an AR as part of a Maintenance assessment for another referee. Just to make sure I did well, I reviewed the AR instructions in the guide to procedures (GTP). On the 5th page, paragraph 1f, one minutes prior to start of play, I am instructed to unfurl my flag, hold it straight down in view of the referee to signal readiness to start. In the next paragraph 1g, the GTP identifies the referee’s responsibility to clear the field. The assessor comments said that I was incorrect to unfurl my flag while the coach for one of the teams was still on the field. As I review the GTP, I did not see any requirement for me to verify that my end of the field was clear of non-players prior to unfurling my flag. Who was right, me or the assessor? If the assessor is right, then the GTP is misleading in that nowhere in the GTP am I given the requirement to verify that my end is ready to start prior to unfurling the flag. The GTP could say, “Assistant referees unfurl flags after verifying that their end of the field is ready for play. Flags are held straight down in view of the referee to signal readiness to start.”

I just completed my requirements to upgrade to 7 and will start upgrading to 6. It is clear to me that if I want to pass the assessments necessary to go from 7 to 6, I need to get this kind of signaling correct.

Finally, I really appreciate the assessor’s other comments and have incorporated them into my performance of AR duties. Please do not take this as criticism of his time, efforts or comments. As of today, I am implementing all his recommendations. My only concern would be to get an assessor who has a different intrepretation of 1f, and would not approve my upgrade to 6 based on a “retention in grade” AR assessment because of this.

USSF answer (January 18, 2004):
“Readiness to start” includes ensuring that the proper number of players is on the field, that there is a properly identified goalkeeper, that the goal and goal net (if there is a net) are properly anchored, and that there are no extraneous persons (or other “outside agents”) on the assistant referee’s end of the field.

While we can understand the possible confusion between 1.f and 1.g, 1.f is clearly the more specific duty and is consistent with USSF’s intention that the referee need only make eye contact with each AR to receive assurance that each end of the field is ready in accordance with the Law. The possible confusion will be taken into account as we move to the next revision of the Guide to Procedures.

Your question:
Last year, we went to an out-of-state tournament and I noticed something that I had never seen before. Players for the opposing team were constantly “tapping” the backs of some of our players. I am sure it was simply a tactic to distract our players.
1. Is this a legal tactic?
2. What can a player do in response to this type of behavior/action or must they simply endure this constant distraction?

USSF answer (January 16, 2004):
While no one has ever said that soccer is a non-contact sport, there are limits to what is and should be allowed.

No, a player may not use his hand or forearm to charge an opponent — or even as a brace. These acts would be considered either pushing or holding and should be punished accordingly. They are the same as the ever-popular hand check, which is also illegal. The “tapping” you describe is a coached action, used because referees have shown they do not have the courage to call foul play. It is just one of many acts that are not properly punished.

The referee should stop play for pushing (or, depending on the circumstances, possibly holding) and restart with a direct free kick for the opponents from the place where the infringement occurred.

Your question:
I am a referee and a coach. Last spring I was an AR in a boy’s U-17 premier division game at a tournament. A player was just hanging out in an offsides position by about 10 yards on the very far side line. The ball and all the other players of both teams were at half field or beyond,attacking the other goal. The defending team won the ball and made a long clearance down the near side line (where I was). One of their forwards ran onto the ball from his own half and took the ball quickly down the sideline. He himself managed to get in deep behind the other teams defense, take the ball to the corner and get off a good cross. Mean while the player on his team, who had been hanging out on the far side in an offsides position, took off angling his run from his sideline towards the center of the goal area. The player with the ball made his cross to this player in the center of the goal area. At the moment this cross was made I raised my flag to signal offsides and indicated towards the player in the center. I was absolutely positive that this player had gained an advantage from being in an offsides position and would not have arrived to receive that cross unless he had that head start. The only defender near the play was trying to catch the fellow in the corner.

A month later at a coaching diploma course a group of very experienced college coaches and most of them instructors and my self got in a very heated discussion about this exact type of situation. They contend that the offsides player was brought back on sides by the play. I contend that he and his team gained and unfair advantage from his offsides position. I was confident of my decision at the time but they were so darn sure I was wrong that I am asking you?

USSF answer (January 16, 2004):
It makes absolutely no difference where the player was when his team gained control of the ball. He could have been chatting with the opposing goalkeeper in the goal and it would make no difference. There is insufficient information in your description to determine whether your flagging for offside was correct or not.

The crucial information lacking in your question is where the player was — in relation to the ball and opposing players — at the moment his teammate played the ball. If a player is no nearer the opponents’ goal than at least two opposing players or the ball when his teammate releases the ball, he cannot be in an offside position and thus cannot be offside. So, no matter where the player in question was prior to the moment of release, if he was behind the ball when it was played to him by his teammate, then he should not have been called offside.

Note: “Gaining an advantage” is relevant only if the determination had already been made as to offside position. Further, historically this phrase is used ONLY in connection with balls being deflected from goal posts, crossbars, goalkeepers, etc. In other respects, what the referee and assistant referee have to look for is interfering with play or with an opponent.

We might add that there is no such term in soccer as “offsides.” The correct term is “offside.”

Your question:
Can a keeper who collects the ball outside the penalty area, dribble the ball into the PA and then pick it up?

USSF answer (January 14, 2004):
[This is a repeat of an answer of March 20, 2003]
You appear to have been confused by the references in Law 12 to the goalkeeper touching with his hands a ball passed to him by his teammates. Under the terms of Law 12, the goalkeeper may dribble the ball back into his own penalty area and pick it up only if it was not last deliberately kicked by a teammate or received directly from a throw-in by a teammate. The goalkeeper may handle (touch with the hands) only those balls that have been played to him legally. That means that if a teammate last played the ball, it must not have been thrown in nor kicked deliberately, but either misplayed in an attempt to clear it away or in some legal manner without resorting to trickery to get around the conditions of Law 12.

If an opponent last played the ball or it was played legally by a teammate (outside the goalkeeper’s penalty area), the goalkeeper may dribble the ball into his own penalty area and then pick it up to put it back into play.

The ‘keeper may not handle the ball, release it, and then kick the ball to himself. That is called a “second touch” or “double touch,” meaning that no other player has played the ball between the moment the goalkeeper released it from his hands and then touched it again.

The goalkeeper may play with his feet any ball passed to him in any manner — unless the referee believes some trickery was involved. In such cases, the other player, not the goalkeeper, would be punished.

Your question:
I’ve heard there’s a new fitness test for upgrades. If so, what is the new test or when will the details be released?

USSF answer (January 14, 2004):
There is no new fitness test for upgrading within the USSF. See the Referee Administrative Handbook for details on existing requirements.

Your question:
I have a restart question. Here is the situation……The ball is in play with no clear possesion by either team. Two player from opposing teams get into an argument and play is stopped by the referee. Both players are called aside, “chewed out” and Cautioned for Desent. Is the ball restarted with a drop ball where the ball was when play was stopped or is it restarted with an indirect kick? If an indirect kick, where from and which team gets the kick, as a player from both teams was booked without knowledge of which player started the disagreement first?

USSF answer (January 14, 2004):
The referee must first decide if there has been a foul or misconduct in such cases. We can see no reason for cautioning either player for dissent in this case. Unless there is information you have not supplied, there would be no reason to caution and show the yellow card to any player.

If there has been neither a foul nor misconduct, then the only possible restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped by the referee (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).

Your question:
What are the captains rights? If any…

USSF answer (January 14, 2004):
The captain has no rights, only duties. Here is an excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
The role of the team captain is not defined in the Laws of the Game. He usually wears an armband. The captain is responsible to the referee for his team, but has no special rights or privileges. By practice and tradition, certain duties fall upon the team captain:
-to see that the referee’s decisions are respected by the captain’s teammates and by team officials;
-to counsel a teammate who may be reluctant to leave the field at a substitution ‹ but neither the captain nor the referee may insist that the player leave;
-to represent his or her team at the coin toss to determine which direction the team will attack to begin the game (and subsequent overtime periods) or which team will take first kick in kicks from the penalty mark;
-to be the team representative to whom the referee must go to obtain the name or names of members of that team who must be withdrawn from participating in kicks from the penalty mark in order to match the size of the opposing team (which has fewer players on the field before or during the kicks from the penalty mark procedure as a result of injury or misconduct).

Your question:
In a High school varsity game a shot was place on goal. After the goalie game contral of the ball then decide to roll it out to a team mate. When he went back with the ball it slip and went backwards towards his on goal. A striker than ran to pressure the goalie, which then panic and picked the ball up. Is the an infraction are not? Being that it was unitionaling release of the ball back into play.

USSF answer (January 11, 2004):
Although there is no difference in this case, we do not answer questions based on high school rules. This answer is based on the Laws of the Game.

After the goalkeeper deliberately drops the ball, he or she may not pick it up again. The ‘keeper may not handle the ball, release it, and then kick the ball to himself. That is called a “second touch” or “double touch,” meaning that no other player has played the ball between the moment the goalkeeper released it from his hands and then touched it again. However, if the referee believes that the release of the ball was entirely accidental and that, in picking the ball up again, the goalkeeper did not gain an unfair advantage, the referee could decide that the violation was trifling and therefore could be ignored (with perhaps only a brief warning to the goalkeeper about the requirements of the Law).

Your question:
A referee issues a red card to a player for a second bookable offense and play then continues. At half time the referee has a chance to review a video recording of the player’s supposed offense and decides that he, the referee, was wrong. May the ejected player return to the game?

USSF answer (January 10, 2004):
If the referee has sent off a player and then restarted the game, the matter is closed for that game. If the referee should happen to look at a video replay of the incident and thus determine that the player should not have been sent off, the player may not return to the game. The referee simply notes the information in his match report — and pays attention to business from now on.

Your question:
I wish to address an issue in regard to [a brand of] soccer balls. The [brand name] game balls have a twist valve pump that airs up the ball without the need of a [separate] pump and needle. Although this may be convenient, it can be very dangerous to the players on the field. Soccer balls take more wear and tear than footballs or basketballs.

My concern is that the first two games I allowed one of these balls to be used the plastic pump slides out of the ball, it can gouge an eye or cut up a player’s face (valve is made of hard plastic). I now do not allow any [brand name] ball to be used in any of my games, even if they are new. One coach said I cannot prohibit them since that is the only kind of balls they have. I was under the impression that the referee can chose what the game will be played with. Can I continue to disallow these balls from being used?

Is there some way USSF can notify [the manufacturer] of this problem?

USSF answer (January 2, 2004):
If a ball is not safe for play, it cannot be used. The decision lies with the referee, not with the coach or other team official.

Your question:
I guess I got myself confused, recently. Not in a game, but during a recert clinic. I now owe the instructor a dinner, but I want to make certain I understand the history of the rule change.

For many years, the offside infraction law (11) stated that a player in an offside position was not called for an infraction if they receive the ball direct from a: corner kick, goal kick, throw-in, or when dropped by the referee.

Then, prior to the major 1997 rewrite of the Laws, FIFA deleted the words : when dropped by the referee.

I must have not been paying attention. I assumed that when FIFA dropped those words, that they intended for a player to be Called for the offside infraction if they were in an offside position and received the ball direct from the drop.

Obviously, I have never called this in a game. Drop balls are rare (in my games) and the idea that the ball would go to someone (directly) who was in an offside position is even rarer….

However, why did FIFA have that wording to begin with, and why did they remove it? While it is a very rare occurrence, why not specifically state “no offside infraction when receiving the ball direct from a drop by the referee”?

FIFA eliminated 5 words, but it did cause me some confusion…..

Any historical (or hysterical) insight would be appreciated.

USSF answer (January 1, 2004):
Thank you for asking us to do a bit of historical research — no hysterics needed here.

From 1888 through 1904, the referee would “throw up” the ball to restart after temporary stoppages (the ball had to hit the ground before being played). In 1905 the dropped ball was introduced in place of the thrown-up ball. No player could be called offside directly from either a ball “thrown up” or dropped.

The provision excepting players from being called offside directly from the dropped ball was added to the offside Law in 1938, when the offside Law was changed from Law 6 to Law 11 in the IFAB’s reorganization (revision and renumbering) of the Laws of the Game. The exception was not mentioned in Law 6 prior to the reorganization.

It would seem to have been superfluous from the moment of its inclusion in the Law and to have been dropped by the IFAB for that reason in 1990 — though the removal of the dropped ball had been formally proposed as early as 1987. It is likely that the words were originally included in response to calls for clarification to remove any doubt.

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