2004 Part 2

Your question:
Is hip checking legal while two players are running down the field, competing for the ball?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
“Hip checking” in any form is never legal. There are not two sets of rules, one for men and one for women. A fair charge is shoulder to shoulder, not hip to hip. Laying hands on the other player’s hips, as in basketball, is considered to be either pushing or holding and is also not legal.

Your question:
I was reffing a U-19 boys game. Team A had a full roster of players but Team B played with 8 field players plus a Goalkeeper. With about 15 minutes remaining in the second half Team B was down 8-1. By the way they were playing you could tell that they did not care about the match anymore.  A good amount players and coach asked me to stop the match. As a referee is it my decision to stop a match for the respect of the game? Should I talk to the coaches and see if they have a problem? What should I do in this situation?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
If this were a match in competitive play (but not recreational), the answer is no, the referee may not stop play, shorten the half, or shorten the game length overall under these circumstances.

However, if the match were recreational and it was clear that one or both teams were no longer interested in competing, the referee could inform the coaches that play would have to be stopped if either team failed to field the minimum number of players (7 in most cases). The referee would have to provide details in the game report and the competition authority would have to decide the outcome, but at least the teams would have found a way out of their difficulties.

The difference between these two situations is that, in competitive play, it would be entirely inappropriate and unprofessional for the referee to offer such information (unless specifically asked).

Your question:
In a Latino match, a player in the second half Struck the referee after being sent off for violent conduct. The referee was not badly injured and was able to finish out the game. In this event, would you just abandon the game at that point? Or would you continue the match to the end?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
The primary concern for the referee under such conditions is to determine if the match could continue without endangering the safety of all participants, including the officials. In all events, the referee must submit full details in the match report. The type of competition and the ethnicity of the players make absolutely no difference.

Your question:
Due to limited funds (we are told), our local Comp. Soccer group will only pay for one center and one AR per game. I have been told that we may not use a dual center system due to 1) Not USSF sanctioned and 2) Against USSF insurance. We have used Dual Centers in our High School games and really enjoy having the chance to work ARs in center position for experience plus having the extra eyes and control on field.

So what can be done to help move such a limited funded Comp. league or the USSF to sanction dual centers? Or what is the real story?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
This answer of May 2003 may provide some guidance. Because your competition is “competitive,” it must assign three officials to the game if it is affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation through any member organization (USASA, USYS, AYSO, SAY). One possibility not mentioned here is assigning one referee, one assistant referee, and having a volunteer club linesman (who is permitted to indicate only that the ball is out of play and can offer no other assistance to the referee).

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
The United States Soccer Federation does not recognize the two-man or dual system of control. Games played under the auspices of US Youth Soccer or US Soccer may be officiated only under the diagonal system of control, as provided for in the Laws of the Game. You can find the information you need in the Referee Administrative Handbook:

Systems of Officiating Soccer Games

The Laws of the Game recognize only one system for officiating soccer games, namely the diagonal system of control (DSC), consisting of three officials – one referee and two assistant referees. All national competitions sponsored by the U.S. Soccer Federation. require the use of this officiating system.

In order to comply with the Laws of the Game which have been adopted by the National Council, all soccer games sanctioned directly or indirectly by member organizations of the U. S. Soccer Federation must employ the diagonal system (three officials). As a matter of policy, the National Referee Committee prefers the following alternatives in order of preference:

1. One Federation referee and two Federation referees as assistant referees (the standard ALL organizations should strive to meet).

2. One Federation referee and two assistant referees, one of whom is a Federation referee and one of whom is a trainee of the local referee program.

3. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are both unrelated to either team participating in the game but are not Federation referees, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).

4. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are not both Federation referees and who are affiliated with the participating teams, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).

Member organizations and their affiliates should make every effort to assist in recruiting officials so that enough Federation referees will be available to permit use of the diagonal officiating system for ALL their competitions.

If only two officials turn up at the field, one must be the referee (with the whistle), while the other becomes an assistant referee (outside the field with the flag). They split the field between them, but only one may make the final decisions and blow the whistle.

Your question:
From “Questions and Answers to the Laws of the Game”:
Law 11 – Offside
5. A player moving quickly toward his opponent’s goal is penalized for an offside offense. From what position is the resulting indirect kick taken?
The kick is taken from his position when the ball was last played to him by one of his teammates.

My question: The correction position for an AR while the ball is in play is even with the second-to-last defender or the ball, whichever is closer to the goals line. What are the proper mechanics to indicate the offside infraction and then to indicate the proper position of the resulting indirect kick when the distance between the original AR’s position and the offending attacker is significant?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
After giving the proper flag signal to the referee to indicate the area of the field, the assistant referee (AR) may then indicate to the kicking team approximately where the offending player was when the player’s teammate last played the ball.

Indicating the location of the restart is not among the AR’s responsibilities under Law 6. Whether the AR supplies such information and how such information is supplied should be determined by the referee and discussed in the pregame. In general, however, indicating the location of the restart after an offside decision should not detract from the AR’s other duties–particularly the need to be in the proper position for the restart itself.

Your question:
My question deals with when an AR makes the signal for a goal kick or corner kick. Is it when they know who last touched the ball or must they run to the corner before they can signal? I was told this weekend by a referee who has been to several national referee camps that she was told that the AR cannot signal until they reach the corner flag. Thus, when the AR is positioned correctly, even with the second to last defender, at the 25 yard line and a hard shot is taken, the referee if not sure who touched it last, must wait until the AR reaches the corner and signals. This can take a couple of seconds and the players look to the referee to make the call. Having to wait the second or two results in the referee looking indecisive — not being able to make up his mind.

The referee insisted that this is the correct procedure even though she couldn’t show it to me in the procedures handbook. I contacted my SRA and he said that there is no reason for the AR to wait until they reach the corner to make the signal. She still insisted that the AR has to continue to the corner flag and then make the signal, because that is what they were taught at the national camp.

I’m also an USSF instructor and have seen nothing concerning a change in the procedures that we are to teach. Could you please clarify this for me? This is the second referee this spring that has mentioned this new (?) procedure.

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
Theoretically, the assistant referee (AR) is expected to run each and every ball all the way to the goal line. Why? To ensure that it is not touched by the goalkeeper before it leaves the field or that it does not stop on the way, becoming playable by others. However, practicality is a different matter: the AR stops on the line as soon as it becomes obvious that the ball has left the field and that a goal kick is the restart, signals the restart at the location (maybe several yards up from the goal line), and then, once the referee has responded appropriately, begins to take the position set forth in the Guide to Procedures for a goal kick restart.

Your question:
With the advent of the new FIFA guidance on removing of shirts (and I was pleased to see MLS enforcement in the 6/5 Dallas-Metrostars game) led me to question some of the actions we do see, at all levels. I have also seen and admit doing some of my own interpretation relative to taunting [or] unsporting behavior. At different levels of play we judge the actions accordingly. However, rather than doing my own interpretation, does USSF have published guidance beyond time wasting? I’ll provide some examples below and other than “inappropriate behavior” (I recall the leg-lift example at a corner flag), any other guidance would be welcomed.

a) Recognizing the joy of scoring, it is easy to excuse some celebration but where do we draw line? Personally, I don’t like the demonstrations where a player runs to a corner and points to the stands, but seems to be acceptable. b) Team celebration — congratulations directed to the goal scorer and the assistance definitely is in order. Team “staged” celebrations is a bit much and again what is appropriate. I have witnessed a very respected center official issue a USB Yellow to the team captain for a staged event and NFHS has indicated that this is a form of taunting. c) Individual “staged” celebration — this comes very close to a team staged event, but I have seen defenders do cartwheels as part of goal celebration. Again, another official decided to give the coach a warning (not a caution) about the team taunting their opponent. Later, in the same game, the defenders apparently didn’t get the word and the captain was given a card. I later learned that the coach was also written up for USB.

Naturally, we all have seen behavior that simply is ignored. If the celebration tends to be directed toward the goal scorer and is not consuming an inordinate amount time, I am quite comfortable with back-pedaling to my center position and simply observe. I am also quite comfortable of quietly suggesting we continue and believe I can rightly judge taunting from the celebration. However, the staged events seem to cross the line and hope to find some guidance to share with my local association as well as use for myself. Thanks.

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
As of July 1, 2004, a player must be cautioned for unsporting behavior when he completely removes his shirt over his head. Celebrating a goal is an accepted part of soccer. A caution is only warranted if a player gives an excessive demonstration of jubilation: by removing his shirt (as of July 1, 2004), jumping over the boundary fence, gesticulating at his opponents or spectators, ridiculing them by pointing to his shirt, or similar provocative action.

Nowhere in the Laws of the Game do we find anything about team cautions or cautioning the captain for the team’s misdoings. There is certainly nothing about cautioning the coach, who is either dismissed for irresponsible behavior or warned or ignored. Those are concepts from high school soccer, which is not played according to the Laws of the Game.

Your question:
Now the question I am asking happened in a u-10 rec game but it never the less made me think what would I call if it happened in a adult game or u-15 game. I have been looking in the advice to referees book and found the examples of obvious goal scoring opportunities but not if it isn’t a obvious opportunity i the box. The situation was: The player was going sideways in the box with the intentions of getting by the traffic then being able to turn and shoot to the goal, about twenty feet out, with lots of players in between. Now I have learned that because their is more than one defender between the person with the ball and the goal so I know that it’s not a send off. The defender reaches out from behind the offensive player with the ball and pulls on the back of his shirt to slow him down, so he can’t get around to get a shot off. I didn’t give a caution because it wasn’t a goal scoring opportunity, in my opinion, allthough if he hadn’t been slowed down he would have made the turn and got a nice shot off without any players except the keeper in the way. Should I have given a Penalty kick for the holding because it happened in the box?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
First things first: Please remember that there is no such thing as a caution for attempting to deny an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

Without getting fully into the 4Ds and the other details of dealing with obvious goalscoring opportunities, it is clear that because of the presence of another defender, there was no obvious opportunity. However, despite the lack of an obvious goalscoring opportunity, the referee may still deal with player misconduct. Blatant holding, such as you describe, is unsporting behavior and requires a caution and yellow card. The referee should caution the player and then award the penalty kick for the holding in the penalty area.

Your question:
In a recent local Under 12 match, a Grade 8 referee pressed into service as a last hour fill-in did not check the position of the goals prior to the match. They were placed several feet back of the end line. During the match, a shot from outside the penalty area entered the net. The defending team complained that the ball was out of bounds. Upon closer inspection, the referee realized that the goal was not at the goal line, and for the ball to cross in front of the uprights it had to be out of bounds. The referee disallowed the goal based on the perceived angle from which the shot was taken and restarted with a goal kick after moving the goal to the correct position. Correct call or no?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
Call correct. The ball had left the field and was thus out of play before it was shot. No goal; restart with goal kick–provided the attacking team had last played the ball before it went over the goal line. However, that does not excuse the referee’s major error in not doing his or her duties before the game. No matter when called into service, the referee must conduct a full inspection of the field and its appurtenances.

Your question:
Why are there not different badges for the intermediate grade levels such as Grade 7 and Grade 5?

USSF answer (June 14, 2004):
There are not different badges because the various titles are set up as two different grades of the same classification. For example, 8 and 7 are both referee classifications (Referee Class 2 and Referee Class 1 are both “referees”), 6 and 5 (State Referee Class 2 and State Referee Class 1) are both state referee classifications and for that matter, 4 and 3 are both national referee classifications. The referee committee has reviewed this suggestion in the past and it has been decided that we already order enough different badges. The more sorts of badges increases the possibility that someone is going to get the wrong one. The important thing here is the role the grades play in the upgrade process–being better able to identify what referees are where–not what kind of badge they have.

Your question:
As I understand it, a free kick awarded to a team is a kick to be taken “free of interference” hence the mandatory minimum 10 yards distance. Teams rarely give the required distance sometime until the offended teams demanded it. Whenever I am required to enforce the minimum distance, I usually give 12 to 13 yards from the spot of the ball. I based my rationale on the fact that the requirement calls for “at least” 10 yards (it can be any distance but not less that 10yards), and also that the teams should further be penalized for not giving the automatic 10 yards minimum required distance.

My question here is am I correct to give 12 to 13 yards?

USSF answer (June 9, 2004):
You can ask for 12-13 yards, but all the Law allows you to enforce is 10 yards. In any event, the Law already provides “further penalties” for failing to give the minimum distance: it’s called a caution for failing to give the minimum distance.

Your question:
Is there an order of precedence in the wearing of the four colors of referee jersey? I have been told that because gold was mentioned first in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH), and also named as the “primary” color, it MUST be worn before any other colors unless there is a color conflict with the teams. If an alternate was to be worn, the order must be black, then red, and finally blue. In other words, the color order is 1) gold, 2) black, 3) red, and 4) blue.

Is there a new protocol which gives an order in which the shirts must be used?

USSF answer (June 9, 2004):
Referees are free to wear whichever shirt they like, provided it does not cause a color conflict with one of the teams and also provided each member of the crew wears the same color.

The order given in the RAH is solely one of convenience; it reflects the order in which the new jerseys were introduced and has no other, more significant meaning. “Primary” in the RAH means only that the gold jersey is the one that every referee must have, as it is least likely to conflict with player jerseys. It does not mean that referees must wear it in preference to the other colors.

Your question:
Law 4 states: ³each goalkeeper wears colors which distinguish him from the other players, the referee and the assistant referees.²

My question; how much difference is required? If the referee will admit to perceiving and distinguishing a difference through observation, isn¹t the goalkeeper¹s jersey within regulation and therefore perfectly legal? In that situation, wouldn¹t the referee be forced to allow the goalkeeper to wear the jersey?

My situation is that when the team wears jerseys that are completely white (except for the number and club logo), my Keeper wants to wear a jersey that is white with very wide black vertical stripes. Not only has the keeper been forced to wear a different jersey, but the referee actually told me that the opposing coach had asked the referee to enforce the change!  My belief is that the goalkeeper should not have been forced to change, what do you think?

Also, I believe that goalkeepers should have a number, just like every other player is required to do. Are goalkeepers allowed to play without numbers?

USSF answer (June 9, 2004):
It is not only the referee, but also the other team that needs to be able to distinguish between the two teams and their goalkeepers. As to demands that the referee “do” something, let us lay out the ground rules clearly: The coach has only one right, and that is to remain in his or her team’s area unless his or her behavior becomes irresponsible, in which case the coach will be ordered to leave.

Given that limitation on rights, no coach has any right to demand anything in a game. A coach may point out that an opposing player’s clothing might cause confusion, but, unless the referee believes there is a rational basis for the request, there is no reason to implement it. Only the referee on the game will know whether or not the colors of the two teams and of the two goalkeepers are distinguishable from one another. There is no color scale for referees; only their common sense.

The Laws of the Game do not require numbers for any player. Numbers are a requirement of the competition in which the player plays. Check the local rules.

Your question:
In the UEFA Cup (Valencia vs Marseilles) a few weeks back, an attacker was on a full break away.  The keeper approached the attacker.  The attacker chipped the ball over the keeper, who was diving to stop the play.  The keeper up-ended the attacker.  A foul was called, an the keeper was sent-off, presumably for preventing a goal-scoring opportunity.

In an MLS game (DC vs NE, May 29th), a very similar situation occurred, with the attacker going down due to contact with the keeper, after the ball had been chipped over the keeper.  No foul or card was indicated.

I could not see any significant difference in the plays to explain the extreme difference in the outcome.  Given the respect due the center for the UEFA game, I believe his call was correct.  Any insight?

Also, in your May 20 response about Dangerous Play vs Kicking, you wrote that kicking “overrules” dangerous play – and I agree.  However, Referee Magazine (June 2004 page 50) wrote that FIFA, NFHS, and NCAA agree that the Dangerous Play takes precedence, as it “occurs first”.  Comments?

I always find your responses enlightening, and often amusing.

USSF answer (June 3, 2004):
1. It is always dangerous to compare situations in one country or competition with those of another. No way that we can give an opinion on this. In fact, it is possible, at least in theory, that the UEFA situation was a foul and the MLS situation was not. That is certainly so in the opinion of the respective referees. After all, just because the attackers hit the ground in both events doesn’t mean that the upending was caused in both cases by a foul.

2. Courtesy of Jamey Walter of “Referee” magazine, here is the question that troubles our interlocutor: A7 attempts a diving header in Team B’s penalty area on a ball that is near the ground. B6, attempting to clear the ball, kicks A7. If the referee determines that A7 was playing in a dangerous manner, what is the restart?

The correct answer, based on the question, is that the restart is precisely as “Referee” states, an indirect free kick for B6’s team.

It is incorrect to say that a direct free kick foul “overrules” the indirect free kick foul of “playing dangerously. In normal situations of this sort, the referee’s only choice is to punish the player who created and/or carried out the illegal play. For example: A player kicking at a high ball that another player is trying to head thus puts the heading player in a dangerous position. If the kicking player then makes contact with the opponent, there can be no call of “playing dangerously.” The kicking player should be called for kicking an opponent and the restart would be a direct free kick.

Your question:
Team A is attacking and Team B is defending.  Team A has a shot that rebounds off of Team B’s Keeper to a defender on Team B.  The defender kicks it back at the goalie who grabs the ball before it goes into the net.  The pass from the defender was intentional.  There was an attacker from Team A standing next to the keeper in an onsides position because another defender was on the far post.  The keeper was a foot of his line and all of the action happened inside the goal area.  I determined that it was an obvious goal scoring opportunity, but did not feel it warranted a send off so I only cautioned the keeper.  I also awarded a PK because of the obvious goal scoring opportunity and the handling by the keeper after an intentional pass by his teammate.  After looking over the Law Book and thinking about it I am leaning toward a send off and an IFK.  Team A did not score on the PK.  So I do not feel bad if I made the wrong call, but I would like to know what the correct call is.

USSF answer (June 3, 2004):
While you did make the mistake of cautioning the goalkeeper undeservedly, thank goodness you did not send him off. A goalkeeper may not be sent off for using his hands to deny the opposing team a goal within his own penalty area. (Such punishment is specifically excluded in Law 12‹”this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area.”) The only possible punishment the referee can mete out in this situation is to award an indirect free kick to the opponents, to be taken from the place where the goalkeeper touched the ball. As this happened within the goal area, the kick would be taken at the nearest spot on the goal area line parallel to the goal line.

And the intelligent referee might not punish the deed at all, provided there were opponents nearby to challenge for the ball and, in the opinion of the referee, the defender kicked the ball to the goalkeeper out of panic, rather than in an effort to waste time. (Preventing time wasting is why the rule was introduced in the first place.)

Your question:
what is the USSF position on field players (not goalies) who want to wear ‘thermal’ pants, skin tight, under their shorts and socks? They usually are the same color as the shorts. My second question is the USSF position on what the AR’s should be doing during a substitution with their flags? Some people say that the common practice of holding the flag up, unraveled toward the ground, is being discouraged, but I haven’t found anything on this matter.

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
1. Players are permitted to wear visible undergarments such as thermopants. They must, however, be the same color as the shorts of the team of the player wearing them and not extend beyond the top of the knee. Thus, thermal undergarments that run continuously from waist to foot are not allowed.

2. Once the referee has recognized the assistant referee’s signal, the AR should lower the flag to the side closer to the halfway line and await the restart. You will find this information in the new USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees.” There is no change here from previous editions.

Your question:
I play in an amateur league and in our game tonight one of our players was involved in a tackle going for the ball, the other player kicked him in the head as they were falling. Our player got up grabbed the ball and acted as if he was going to hit the player with it, he went through the motion but never threw the ball. I believe the ref didn’t see the fact that he didn’t actually throw the ball and gave him a red. Our coach asked him to consult with his linesman. When he did he changed his call and gave him a yellow instead, the opposing team was furious and one of their players bumped the ref, he then showed him a red card. This made matters worse and one of the players tried to kick the ball at the ref but it hit the linesman’s face, at this point the ref called the game off so one of the opposing players kicked him above the knee with his cleats causing a wound to develop and the ref’s leg to be bleeding.
1. Can the referee take back his decision to give a red upon consulting with his linesman?
2. What type of action should be taken when you “act” like you are going to throw the ball at a player?
3. At what point does a ref fell he/she should call the game off?

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
Given that the circumstances are as you describe them, here are some answers.
1. Provided that the referee has not allowed the game to be restarted, a decision to send off a player may be changed.
2. The overt threat of throwing the ball at another player amounts to attempted striking and is a direct free kick and at least a caution for unsporting behavior. Depending on circumstances, it could be considered as a threat of physical violence and would then be punishable by a dismissal and red card; in that case the referee should act immediately to isolate the guilty party and remove him or her from the game.
3. There is no black-or-white answer to this question. Only the referee on the spot can make that judgment. We might suggest that if the referee cannot stop the jostling and other abuse by players, the game should be terminated.

Your question:
Situation: The ref has awarded a direct free kick to the attacking team two yards outside the box near the ³D². The attacking team has requested the ref move the defenders back the requisite ten yards and the ref has done so. The ref has just blown the whistle for the kick to be taken. One of the defenders in the wall rushes the kicker prior to the kick being taken. The ref allows the kick to be taken (in fact, the misconduct and the kick occurred within split-seconds). The kick goes directly to the keeper, at which time the ref stops play, shows the yellow for Failure to Respect the Required Distance, and has the kick re-taken from the same spot.
The ref explained that he allowed the play to proceed (i. e., purposely did not stop play while the ball was in midflight) to determine whether the kick was successful. Had it been, he was have cautioned the misconduct at the stoppage following the goal. Since it was not successful, he stopped play once the keeper had gathered in the shot, showed the yellow and had the free kick retaken.

Was this the correct resolution?

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
Because the two incidents occurred so closely in time, the issue would be whether the rush forward (which seems much more cynical that simply being too close) made a difference in the outcome of the kick. And this, under the Law, would require the referee to allow the kick to proceed. If the rush forward made no difference in the outcome of the kick, caution at the next stoppage; if it made a difference, stop play immediately, caution, and restart with a retake.

Your question:
We played a tournament game today and were leading 2-1 near the end of the game. With about 15 seconds to go, a ball was played into our penalty area and the AR raised his flag for a handling of the ball violation. The referee did not see the AR’s flag and blew his whistles two times and signaled the end of the game. The opposing team argued with the referee. After talking with the AR, the referee called for a PK. The PK was taken and the opposing team scored. The game ended tied 2-2.  Is it correct to extend time for a PK after the referee already whistled an end to the game?

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
Because the infringement occurred before the referee had ended the game, the referee was correct in accepting the assistant referee’s information. If a penalty kick is awarded before the game has ended, time must be extended to complete the penalty kick.

Your question:
I am the parent of a challenge player that won the State Cups this past weekend. I’m letting you know we won the State Cups so that you realize I’m not a disgruntled parent whose child lost a game.

Rest assured that my son is a tough and aggressive player that can handle the physical play involved in Challenge and Classic soccer.  He got up from the tackle (this time) and stayed in the game.  Slide tackling is a good and fair part of the game when it’s done legally.  My concern is the tolerance for slide tackling by a defensive player that is clearly trailing the play.  On one occasion during the season, one situation in the [name removed] Cup and one in the State Finals he was blatantly slide tackled from behind (by the way, we won all three games).  This leads me to believe that it needs to be addressed with ALL officials not just an individual.  I know there are some close calls (and we had many of these during the season) where the officials must make a judgement call.  None of these three situations fits that description.  These were all desperate attempts by a defender to prevent a goal.  Only in one situation was the defender even talked to by the official.  There was not a yellow or red card issued in any of these three instances.  Unless the officials take a tougher stance on this type of play it will only continue.  The teams/coaches/parents and players must get the message that the penalty will be more severe than a PK.  My son and other kids risk severe injuries from the abusive tripping/slide tackling that shouldn’t be tolerated.

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
What follows this paragraph is what we teach our referees. Unfortunately, that does not always mean that they put it into practice correctly. This response will be copied to the State Director of Referee Instruction of your state, so that the message comes through that the Federation is also concerned about this matter.

A slide tackle is legal, provided it is performed legally. There is nothing illegal about a slide tackle by itself‹no matter where it is done and no matter the direction from which it comes. In other words, it is not an infringement to tackle fairly from behind‹if there was no foul committed.

There is nothing illegal, by itself, about sliding tackles or playing the ball while on the ground. These acts become the indirect free kick foul known as playing dangerously (“dangerous play”) only if the action unfairly takes away an opponent’s otherwise legal play of the ball (for players at the youth level, this definition is simplified even more as “playing in a manner considered to be dangerous to an opponent”). At minimum, this means that an opponent must be within the area of danger which the player has created. These same acts can become the direct free kick fouls known as kicking or attempting to kick an opponent or tripping or attempting to trip or tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball only if there was contact with the opponent or, in the opinion of the referee, the opponent was forced to react to avoid the kick or the trip. The referee may warn players about questionable acts of play on the ground, but would rarely caution a player unless the act was reckless.

How can tackles become illegal? There are many ways but two of the most common are by making contact with the opponent first (before contacting the ball) and by striking the opponent with a raised upper leg before, during, or after contacting the ball with the lower leg. Referees must be vigilant and firm in assessing any tackle, because the likely point of contact is the lower legs of the opponent and this is a particularly vulnerable area. We must not be swayed by protests of “But I got the ball, ref” and we must be prepared to assess the proper penalty for misconduct where that is warranted.

FIFA has emphasized the great danger in slide tackles from behind because, if this tackle is not done perfectly, the potential for injury is so much greater. Accordingly, referees are advised that, when a player does commit a foul while tackling from behind, it should not be just a simple foul (e.g., tripping) but a foul and misconduct. The likelihood of danger is greater when the tackle is committed from behind and the probability of a foul having been committed is greater solely for this reason — due in large part to the “can’t prepare for the tackle” element when it comes from an unseen direction. In fact, if the referee decides that the foul while tackling from behind was done in such a way as to endanger the safety of the opponent, the proper action is to send the violator off the field with a red card.

The referee must judge each situation of a tackle from behind individually, weighing the guidelines published by FIFA and the U. S. Soccer Federation, the positions of the players, the way the tackler uses his/her foot or feet, the “temperature” of the game, the age/skill of the players, and the attitude of the players. What might be a caution (yellow card) in this game might be trifling in another game or a send-off (red card) in a third game. To make the proper judgment on such plays, the referee must establish early on a feel for the game being played on this day at this moment and must be alert to sudden changes in the “temperature” of this game. Much depends on the level of play, whether recreational or competitive, skilled or less developed, very young or adult. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.

Your question:
Working a question from a league regarding the length of players shorts. Some believe the top of the knee is the limit. Law four does not address this. I thought there was a directive some time back regarding thisŠ I can’t find it.

The following was taken from USSF Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players regarding undergarments:
24. Players’ equipment Š
(b) Players are permitted to wear visible undergarments such as thermopants. They must, however, be the same color as the shorts of the team of the player wearing them and not extend beyond the top of the knee. If a team wears multicolored shorts, the undergarment must be the same color as the predominant color.

It would seem that if the undergarment must be above the top of the knee, then the same logic would apply to the shorts.

Bottom line, is there any restriction on the length of a players shorts.

USSF answer (May 28, 2004):
There is no specific guidance on the length of player shorts. In the past, the International F. A. Board (the people who make the Laws of the Game) included a statement in its “Additional Instructions to Referees” that is now also contained in the annual USSF Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players. That statement deals with the undergarments worn by players, rather than the shorts themselves:
“24. Players’ equipment Š
“(b) Players are permitted to wear visible undergarments such as thermopants. They must, however, be the same color as the shorts of the team of the player wearing them and not extend beyond the top of the knee. If a team wears multicolored shorts, the undergarment must be the same color as the predominant color.”

Historically, player shorts have extended from as low as the top of the calf to not far below the crotch, provided that the waistband is worn at the natural place on the torso. We recommend that player shorts meet the requirement set for thermal undershorts and not go beyond the top of the knee.

There remains the problem of religious concerns. In addition to the player equipment required under Law 4–a jersey or shirt, shorts (if thermal undershorts are worn, they are of the same main color as the shorts), stockings, shinguards, and footwear–the International F. A. Board has recognized that other equipment may also be worn, as long as it is safe for all participants. The most recent USSF memoranda on player equipment were published on September 3, 2003, and March 7, 2003. They can be downloaded from the USSF website. Another memorandum, dated December 22, 2002, states quite clearly that religious clothing (including skirts) may be worn, provided that it is not dangerous to any participants and is not used to distract opponents or to trap or otherwise manipulate the ball.

Your question:
Here’s the situation…basic direct kick after a trip. The offense lines up behind the ball – and one after the other jump over the ball…and get back in line. Finally, the second time the fourth kicker comes to the ball – it is kicked.

Question…unsportsmanlike behavior – or just an interesting way to control the time.

USSF answer (May 27, 2004):
While referees should always allow the team with the ball leeway on deceptive tactics, this seems a bit much. After the first four or five players have jumped over the ball, the referee should call a halt to the parade‹charade?‹and warn the players that any further repetition of this tactic will be regarded as delaying the restart of play‹the official reason for the caution if they failed to heed the referee’s advice.

Your question:
A Penalty Kick was awarded. The kicker runs to take the kick and faked the keeper by kicking over the ball without touching it. When the keeper dove to one side, the kicker kicked the ball to the other side scoring the goal.

The Referee blows the Whistle, may caution the kicker for UB or give him a stern warning and:
1. Award a goal to the attacking team
2. Award a goal kick to the opposing team
3. Re-take the kick
If these are the only choices, which choice is correct? Are there any other choices?

P.S. Yes, if the whistle was sounded before the kick was taken to put the ball into the net, re-take will be in order.

USSF answer (May 27, 2004):
Guidance from the International F. A. Board says that referees should not consider various deceptive maneuvers to be a violation of Law 14 or of the guidelines on kicks from the penalty mark in the Additional Instructions. They should ensure that the run to the ball is initiated from behind the ball and the kicker is not using deception to delay unnecessarily the taking of the kick.

The example you cite, of stepping over the ball, hesitating, and then bringing the foot back again to kick the ball, is a good one. The kicker’s behavior must not, in the opinion of the referee, unduly delay the taking of the kick in any feinting tactic. Others would include changing direction or running such an an excessive distance such that, in the opinion of the referee, the restart was delayed; or making hand or arm gestures with the intent to deceive the kicker (e .g., pointing in a direction).

The referee should allow the kick to proceed. If the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken. If the ball does not enter the goal and remains on the field, the kick is not retaken and play continues. If the ball does not enter the goal and leaves the field, the restart is appropriate to the reason the ball left the field.

Finally, kicker violations of Law 14 are not treated any differently from other violations of Law 14 — no caution on first occurrence, caution for persistent infringement only on repetition after a warning.

Your question:
The answer of May 20, 2004, on when players may leave the field of play during the course of play without the referee’s opinion, seems incomplete. Surely there are more reasons than those given?

USSF answer (May 27, 2004):
Yes, the answer was indeed incomplete. Here are some occasions on which the player may leave the field of play without the referee’s permission during the course of play without fear of punishment. Referees and players will be able to think of others, we are sure.
1. To play the ball if there is an obstacle (any players or officials) that prevents normal play.
2. To retrieve the ball and/or put it back into play at a stoppage‹goal kick, corner kick, throw-in, free kick.
3. A player overruns the ball and temporarily leaves the field to get a better angle for kicking the ball.
4. A player steps over the line after playing the ball.
5. A player slips or slides on a wet playing surface.
6. A player steps off the field to stop the ball from going out of play.

7. A player steps off the field to show non-involvement in offside.

The point of emphasis here is that referees should not unnecessarily restrict players. The lines on the field are to show where the ball is in play and where most play should occur. Players are allowed to show their creativity and resiliency both within and without the boundaries. It is when they cross the boundaries for illegal purposes‹something other than to play the ball‹that the referee should become concerned.

What is the difference between an indirect and a direct free kick?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
The USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” tells us:
This restart is called a “free kick” because it may be taken “freely” by the team to which it has been awarded — without interference, hindrance, or delay. Free kicks are awarded for fouls, misconduct, a combination of the two, or offside. A direct free kick is given if play is stopped for a direct free kick foul committed by a player against an opponent on the field of play (except when it is committed by a defender within his own penalty area — see Law 14, Penalty Kick). An indirect free kick is given if play is stopped for any other foul or if play is stopped solely to deal with misconduct committed on the field by a player, or for offside. A free kick may be taken in any direction.

A penalty kick is a direct free kick awarded to the attacking team when an opponent commits a direct free kick foul against one of their players in the opponent’s penalty area.

Corner kicks, kick-offs, and corner kicks are akin to direct free kicks, in that a goal may be scored directly from a corner kick or goal kick or kick-off, but only against the opposing team.

Your question:
My questions are regarding the actions taken by an AR. In this one scenario, the AR was arguing with a head coach about minor dissent being shown by the coach. While the game was in progress and ball was in play, the AR does not pay attention to his duties and continues arguing with the one coach. The coach decides it is best not to argue and after the game he would talk to the AR about it. At the end of the game, the AR does not like the tone of voice by the coach and displays the red card. The coaches actions were not deserving of a red card, as stated in the 7 “Send-Off” criterion. Everyone has already left the field, but still the red card is displayed by the AR. Is this a valid move by the AR? Does the suspension still apply though it was given in by an invalid official?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
The assistant referee (AR) should never take time away from duties to argue with players, spectators, or team officials, whether the ball is in play or not. Nor may or can an AR show a card to anyone at any time. That is clearly reserved for the referee. And, unless the rules of the competition specify it, no official may show a card to any non-player or substitute.

There can be no suspension without a report from the referee to the appropriate authorities.

Your question:
Two incidents with the same referee. During a game last fall (U14 girls), an opponent’s player was injured. The ref stopped the game and the restart was a drop ball. He ordered our player not to kick at all, just to stand there. In a recent game, one of our players was injured. He allowed play to continue and we kicked the ball out of play. On the restart he ordered our opponents to throw the ball directly to one of our players. I understand that soccer tradition dictates that a team not lose possession due to injury and that in such situations, teams generally play the ball to their opponents. However, I believe that such actions are the decisions of the players and coaches and that officials should never order players to give up possession of the ball and that doing so reflects poorly on the neutrality of the referee. What is your opinion?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
No referee may instruct any player to play the ball in any particular way. While the referee may suggest that it might be sporting to play in a particular way, the referee cannot and must not play the role of “vigilante for fair play.”

Your question:
I have read a number of discussions regarding religious jewelry. The topic of a young girl that had small stud earrings that could not be removed for religious reasons was brought up. Normally no earrings are allowed even if they are taped up. The reasoning is that if struck on the side of the head the stud could be driven into the side of her neck. What is the official stance on this subject. Should she be allowed to play or not?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
We are not aware of any sort of earrings that may not be removed for “religious reasons.” The position of the U. S. Soccer Federation on earrings and other jewelry has been clearly stated in position papers and responses to questions. (It is also the position taken by the International F. A. Board, FIFA, and CONCACAF.) Here is one of the responses from earlier this year:

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).”

We might add that simply because an item looks religious in nature, such as an earring in the shape of a cross, does not put the item into the religious jewelry/clothing category. The critical criterion is whether the player’s religion requires that the item be worn. If that is the case, the player must get permission from the state association to wear such an item and the state association must inform any competition in which the player plays of this permission well in advance of the game. Even with this permission, the final decision in this process is made by the referee, who must decide whether item is dangerous to any of the participants.

Your question:
This came up in a discussion at our weekly referee meeting. It involves a player that has legally gone off the field of play during the flow of play. We were talking about a player in the goal (between the goal posts and into the netting area). Now if a player running off the field to get around a defender or the AR are struck by the ball while they are off the field, but all of the ball has not crossed over the touchline, and the ball bounces back into play, then the ball is still in play and no violation has occurred, right?. But what if this happens to a player standing in the goal? The whole of the ball has not passed under the cross bar, between the goal posts and over the goal line so it can not be a goal. If it is a playable ball, is that player (a member of the attacking team) considered off side? Restart IDK for defending team anywhere in the goal area. If it is a defender, then the ball in play?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
The player who has left the field entirely during the course of play and, while in the goal, prevents his own team’s shot from crossing the goal line completely, has committed no sin. The player would only be considered to be offside if he had been in an offside position and actively involved in play when his teammate shot the ball. That was not the case, so there is no reason to stop play.

Your question:
Two real game situations:
1. Drop ball (play stopped because of injured player on team A) – Team A wants to put two – three players up around the referee for the drop ball. to my mind this could result in a rugby game breaking out. Although the illustration in the Laws of the Game shows each team represented at a drop ball and the Advice to Referees says that there is no requirement for both or either team to be present at the spot of a drop ball neither the laws nor the Advice to Referees address the issue of multiple players pressing in. My inclination was to tell the additional players to back off. This did not please the coach. Comments please.

2. Defender attempts to head ball away from goal but flicks it toward the goal. Keep leaps for it and catches it. While still in the air, keeper realizes his momentum will carry him and the ball over the goal line so he releases the ball onto the field about 12 inches in front of the goal line. Landing he steps back onto the field of play and picks up the ball to punt. Should this have been called as a “second touch” and an indirect free kick awarded at the 6 yard line?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
1. The referee may not order any players away from a dropped ball–but the intelligent referee will _suggest_ to the players that the ball will not be dropped until most of them back away. If they ask why, the intelligent referee will say that it is an issue of player safety, because the referee is required by the Laws of the Game to protect players. Surely they will understand.

2. Yes, this is a “second touch” situation and the referee should stop play and award an indirect free kick to the opposing team at the nearest spot on the goal area line parallel to the goal line.

Your question:
A player kicks a ball that is approximately even with her shoulder. In doing so, on the follow through, she kicks in the side of the head an opponent who was attempting to play the ball with her head. Is this a kicking offense, resulting in a direct free kick, or is it playing in a dangerous manner, resulting in an indirect free kick? Thanks.

USSF answer (May 20, 2004):
There can be no call of playing dangerously if there is contact. The player should be called for kicking and the restart would be a direct free kick.

Your question:
On a corner kick, 2 players from the kicking team leave the field at the corner, this seemed to be done to confuse the other team. They did this at every corner kick, sometimes one player would actually kick the ball and other times the first player to approach the ball would fake the kick and the next player would kick it. I know that one player is allowed to leave the field to take the kick…but if we let 2 leave for a “trick” play then why not let 3 or 10.

USSF answer (May 20, 2004):
Players are allowed to leave the field without the referee’s permission on two occasions: (1) during the course of play to play the ball if there is an obstacle that prevents normal play and (2) to retrieve the ball and put it back into play at a stoppage.

In the case of putting the ball back into play, it is common practice and tradition for only one player to do this. If, in the opinion of the referee, activity off the field constitutes unsporting behavior, the referee should warn the player(s) on the first instance and then caution and show the yellow card for either unsporting behavior or leaving the field of play without the permission of the referee.

Your question:
What would be the correct mechanical signal by an AR to the Referee, if an Indirect Free Kick foul was comitted. (Example: the referee was out of position, blocked from view, and the AR waved flag.) Heard this one at the refs’ tent at a tournament.

USSF answer (May 18, 2004):
There is only one standard signal for the assistant referee to use to indicate a foul not seen by the referee — flag straight up in the air, brief waggle after making eye contact, and then 45 degrees upward up or down field indicating the direction of the restart if the referee stops play. It doesn’t make any difference if the foul itself requires a direct or an indirect free kick. The referee may, in the pre-game conference, request some additional signal to indicate an indirect free kick if this is felt necessary.

However, careful thought on the matter would suggest that an indirect free kick foul would be rare. The basic charge given to the assistant referee, in addition to the fact that the offense occurred out of the view of the referee, is that the referee would have stopped play for the foul if he had seen it (i.e., not trifling, not doubtful, and no advantage). It is highly unlikely that an indirect free kick foul would meet all these criteria — only a dangerous play or impeding the progress of an opponent come to mind as even possible.

The referee can usually be confident that such a signal by an experienced, knowledgeable assistant referee is almost certainly an indication of a direct free kick foul.

Your question:
What should the referee do, if anything, when a coach and a substitute on the bench start arguing and start calling each other unpleasant names? This would be in U19 youth soccer.

USSF answer (May 18, 2004):
The referee may dismiss both persons (coach/other team official and substitute). The referee may show the red card only to the substitute, not the coach/other team official, unless the rules of the competition permit it.

The coach will be dismissed for irresponsible behavior, the substitute for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures.

Your question:
A tournament director writes: I would appreciate your response to the following situation that occurred recently during a youth recreational tournament.

The referee assignor, who was also the coach of the team scheduled to play, assigned her husband as center referee on her U14G semi-final game and her daughter was a player on that team. Should this have taken place? By the way, a complaint was made by the opposing coach after the game started because of this situation.

USSF answer (May 18, 2004):
In the Referee Administrative Handbook, p. 33, it suggests that assistant referees should not be related in any way to either team participating in the game unless it is impossible to get other affiliated officials assigned. Unfortunately, sometimes the referee game assignors do not have enough bodies to go around and ask parents or siblings to referee games in which their kin will be playing.

In this situation a complaint should be filed against the assignor/coach and her husband, the referee, who surely knew his daughter was on that team, under Policy 531-10, which expressly addresses conflict of interest. It then should be sorted out within the state through a hearing process.

You can download a PDF copy of the USSF Policy Manual at this URL: http://www.ussoccer.com/services/content.sps?iType=230&icustompageid=9277

NOTE: The remainder of the response was a direct quote of Policy 531-10 and has been deleted.

Your question:
A ball goes out of touch last contacted by a white player. Just inside their half of the field, the Green team attempts a quick throw to catch the white defense out of position and would have had a good chance to run on goal. As the legal throw crosses the half line a member of the white team that is waiting his turn to be substituted into game, reaches out, (without entering the field) catches the ball, and then drops the ball into the field of play stopping the quick attack. What is the call? What is the correct restart?

I felt the answer is; caution the sub for unsporting behavior and restart with a drop ball near the touchline where the interference occurred. I used ATR 1.8 (d) and ATR 12.25 for my rationale.

USSF answer (May 15, 2004):
If the substitute handled the ball, he must have entered the field of play, at least with his hand. The referee should caution and show the yellow card to the substitute for entering the field without the referee’s permission. The substitute could also be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior. The correct restart is a dropped ball from the place where the ball was when play was stopped.

Your question:
Recently I was scanning through the USSF publication, “Advice to referees on the laws of the game.” I was surprised when I read the section 5.6 on Advantage. It reads… “The advantage applies only to infringements of Law 12 (fouls and/or misconduct) and not to infringements of other Laws. For example, there can be no advantage during an offside situation, nor may advantage be applied in the case of an illegal throw-in that goes to an opponent.” This makes perfect sense to me except for the part about offside. I, myself, referee and watch a lot of high level soccer, and have worked with some of the world’s best referees. In my experience, I have seen countless situations where an offside is signaled by the assistant referee, and the referee signals advantage if a quick counterattack begins for the other team or if the ball goes straight into the hands of the keeper. In most other countries (and all of UEFA I know) the advantage signal is suggested in this situation rather than the “lower the flag” signal that USSF encourages, but in any case, even with the USSF “lower the flag” signal, what we are doing in essence is applying advantage to the situation. If the AR signals the offside and the ball goes straight into the keeper’s hands, we are not telling the AR there is not an offside by asking him to lower his flag, we are giving advantage. If an attacker is involved in play and the AR signals offside, but the defense intercepts the pass and starts a quick counterattack, we are not telling the AR he or she is wrong, we are simply applying advantage. Since this happens all the time with soccer even at the highest levels, I would like to know why the “Advice to referees on the Laws of the Game” makes this statement. I appreciate your attention to my question and look forward to hearing back from you.

USSF answer (May 13, 2004):
There is no advantage applicable to any Law beyond Law 12, although one could make a small (but not totally convincing) case in several instances in Laws 13 and 14, but it is easier to do what is done with Law 11‹there is no advantage there, but the referee may choose to call the offside (whether signaled by the AR or not) or ignore it, depending on the circumstances.

When you agree to work games under the aegis of the United States Soccer Federation, you also commit yourself to following the procedures used by the Federation. We do not use the advantage signal for a case where offside will not be called, because it is not an advantage–it is a case of no infringement of the Law.

The “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” is, as its introduction states, ” a reliable compilation of those international and national guidelines [currently] in force, as modified or updated. It is not a replacement for the Laws of the Game, nor is it a ‘how to’ book on refereeing.” All that remains to be said here is another quote: [The] “Advice to Referees presents official USSF interpretations of the Laws of the Game.” Fail to follow it at your own peril.

Your question:
1. If a one-on-one player on player fight breaks out on the soccer field, how is the stopping of it to be handled? Where does the referee’s responsibility end and the coach’s begin? 2. What are the responsibilities of the assistant referees in the situation where the fight expands beyond the original two players and the referee fails to signal for assistance from the coaches. Who is responsible to do what?

USSF answer (May 13, 2004):
1. The referee has no responsibility to stop a fight, no matter what the age of the players. But a VERY LOUD whistle, to signal that the referee wishes the activity to stop immediately, could be blown VERY NEAR to the players. That is usually quite effective. And coaches have no authority or responsibility whatsoever on the soccer field, other than to keep themselves and their substitutes under control. However, if the referee chooses to stop play and wave the coaches on to the field to help break up a fight, that is permitted. 2. In the case of a fight on the field, the assistant referees have no responsibilities‹on the field‹unless the referee has assigned them something other than what they would do in the case of a mass confrontation of the referee by players on the field:

Assistant Referees
– Both assistants move along the touchline to a point as near as possible to the confrontation and, if necessary, prepare to enter the field for a better viewing position.
– The nearer assistant should concentrate fully on the confrontation and attempt to identify the instigator(s) while the farther assistant concentrates on players who join the confrontation from a distance.
– The senior assistant (on the bench side of the field) should additionally monitor persons coming from the bench into the field to participate in the confrontation, but this assistant¹s primary objective remains monitoring the confrontation itself.
– After the confrontation has ended, both assistants should be ready to provide information to the referee regarding the identities of persons they observed and the role each such person played in the confrontation.

Your question:
What is the advice of the USSF about officiating a game with a ref that has not completed the necessary officiiting recert process? Is the host association at risk if there is an injury or a problem during a game officiated by such? Would there be repercussions from the USSF? I only ask because my local association is using refs that have not completed the program for this year..

USSF answer (May 11, 2004):
This will not be the direct answer you were looking for. The only answer we can give is to state US Soccer policy.

The insurance policy only covers registered referees doing affiliated games. The US Soccer Policies say that all games directly or indirectly under the jurisdiction of US Soccer shall be officiated by a currently registered USSF referee. We cannot say what the outcome would be for not following the policies of membership. That would be up to US Soccer Board of Directors. We do know that the insurance company will not defend a case unless the referee is registered and working affiliated games.

Your question:
Could you tell me if there is something that I can do about this situation that happened, during a u-16 premier game. The game started with a ref. and two linesmen. At halftime one of the linesman leaves, and the opposing team gets someone to line. I asked the other linesman who that person was, he said that he was a certified ref. as he gets on the field he has a red ref. shirt different from the other two. He has no socks, no shoes, and a pair of brown pants. Needless to say he did not call offside and they scored twice. At about 20 minutes left, someone else takes his place in full ref. uniform. Can I file a protest, or not?

USSF answer (May 11, 2004):
Usually a protest must be filed at the field. You should check with your local governing body to see what is protestable and when protests must be filed and go from there. There is nothing in the Laws of the Game regarding what constitutes protestable issues‹that is strictly a local thing and that’s where you need to start.

Your question:
What is the USSF advice to match officials with regard to officials of the technical area entering the FOP at the end of extra time and PRIOR to the taking of KFTPM. It is clear in Law that only the eligible players are permitted to remain on the FOP during the taking of the kicks and that AUTHORISED persons may only enter the FOP this authorisation can of course only be given by the referee, but it is the period directly before the Kicks that is causing a problem. Is it permitted for the referee to give such AUTHORISATION prior to the kicks commencing??

USSF answer (May 11, 2004):
The process of kicks from the penalty mark begins immediately upon the conclusion of full time (including any required extra periods of play). While there is a break of sorts following the conclusion of full time and the first actual kick, the kicks from the penalty mark process has already begun, and in fact there are things that may be going on during that “down time”; for example, the coin toss.

Normally only eligible players and the match officials are allowed on the field once kicks from the penalty mark begin, and the process begins the moment full time is over. However, if the rules of the competition provide for a break between the end of full time and the actual kicks themselves, the referee may permit persons (team officials) other than players to be on the field of play during that break period between the end of regulation play and the actual kicks from the penalty mark. If the referee permits it, they may do this in their team’s half of the center circle. When the kicks are ready to commence, the team officials must return to the technical area (their team’s area).

Your question:
During my last game a coach didn’t like one of my calls, and he ordered his entire team to get off the field saying that they were done. I ended the game and later reported the situation to the league coordinator. Was I supposed to do anything else? Maybe caution the players that left the field without my permission? I just thought it would look ridiculous to show yellow/red cards to every player from the team that left the field before the end of the game.

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
While we have no knowledge of your actions prior to this incident, you acted perfectly correctly in abandoning the game and reporting the situation in your match report. Cautioning and showing cards to the players would have accomplished nothing. By acting in accordance with correct procedure, you maintained your dignity and did not allow the coach to drag the game even farther into disrepute.

Your question:
At a u7 game how long are their quarters and breaks? Thanks!

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
There is no set time period. U6 plays 4 equal 8-minute quarters, with a 2-minute break between quarters one and two and another 2-minute break between quarters three and four and a half-time interval of 5 minutes. U8 plays 4 equa 8-minute quarters, with a 2-minute break between quarters one and two and another 2-minute break between quarters three and four and a half-time interval of 5 minutes.

These are recommendations from the nationally-approved youth competition rules.  Your competition may choose to use whatever length of periods it requires.

Your question:
I worked a game as a AR in a U17 boys game and the CR gave a penalty kick on the keeper for taking down attacking player and holding him from going after the ball. The play was now stop and the keeper said something to the referee and he red carded the keeper. The center did not make them play down since the send-off was done when the play had stopped. His thought was it was not a foul and it happened after the play had stopped. Should they have played down one man? I say yes.

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
Yes, after the referee sent off the goalkeeper, the goalkeeper’s team should have played with one fewer player for the rest of the game. Once the game starts, it makes no difference when a player is sent off or when the misconduct for which the player is being punished occurred, whether during play or a break in the game (halftime or other official break) or at a stoppage–ALL misconduct is dealt with during stoppage.

As a sidebar, your question suggests that the goalkeeper might have been sent off in the first place for denying the opponent a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by preventing the opponent from getting to the ball.

Your question:
1, A foul is committed and a free kick is awarded. Is the offending team required to immediately back off 10 yards? Or can the offending team delay moving away unless the opposing player asks the referee to provide the 10-yard distance? If 10 yards is immediately required, why don’t refs show more yellow cards? Delay of game and poor sportsmanship are cautionable. 2. A player takes a throw in and the ball never crosses into play. Rethrow? Or does the other team take possession?

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
1. As you point out, some referees are apparently afraid to give the kicking team the space they need and to punish the team that continues to break the Laws after having been caught once. Under the Law, the offending team is required to back off at least 10 yards from the spot of the ball immediately. Most do not. The referee should stop the restart process only if it is clear that the kicking team either does not want or cannot take a quick kick.

2. In the case of the throw-in that never enters the field, it is retaken.

Your question:
The R&D committee of our league is debating the answer to the following scenario, and the application of the appropriate Laws of the Game. As background, the league plays with limited size, official state rosters, and with unlimited substitutions on goal kicks, throw-ins by own team, kickoffs, and on injuries for the injured player. Therefore, players may leave and re-enter the match, with the referees permission, on multiple occasions. The scenario:
1. Player #x from Team A, receives a yellow card, for a foul while on the playing field.
2. Sometime thereafter, the same Player #x from Team A receives a second yellow card, during the match, while NOT on the field – he was now a substitute – on the sideline. The second yellow card was issued for a MISCONDUCT, because a FOUL can not be committed by a substitute.
3. The referee, using his authority under Law 5, and applicable sections of Law 12 – shows Player #x from Team A a red card for a second caution (2CT). The player is sent off.

The question – does Team A now play short?

USSF answer (May 5, 2004):
If the player/substitute received the second card while in his role as substitute, in other words, while on the bench, then he was not a player at that time and the team need not play short. If he had been a player at the time, then the team would have to play short.

Your question:
I have a question, we have a U8 player that has been Red Card at least once for sure possible twice this season along with a yellow card in between. This is just rec soccer and it’s been told this child has played on Top Soccer and the parents wanted to try Rec. He also has an anger issue. The reasoning for the red card was he was pushing players on purpose. I guess what I would like to know is how do we handle this? Can U8’s get cards? If so how long to you keep them out of games and so on? They have 2 more games for the season and a post season tournament. I don’t know what really happened since I wasn’t present but I would like to know what is the best way to go about fixing this issue and not having anyone get hurt. I don’t believe the child has been put on the bench for his actions like a time out. I also don’t know if U8 are even allowed cards?  We are talking 6 and 7 years. Do they really understand it?

USSF answer (April 29, 2004):
There is no age limit on learning. If a player cannot adapt readily to the standards of the game, then he or she must be educated. Being sent off (given a red card) usually means having to sit at least one game for each time sent off. The one-game suspension is a minimum standard imposed by FIFA, but local rules of competition can increase this and apply other penalties as well, depending on the severity and/or frequency of the behavior for which the red cards were received.

It makes no difference what age the player is. If this player does not learn acceptable behavior early on, what will he be like when he hits the middle teens?

Your question:
I know that a player can not play with a hard cast on their arm. Can a referee have a hard cast for a recreational league?

USSF answer (April 29, 2004):
In fact, you are starting from an incorrect presumption‹that “a player cannot play with a hard cast on their arm.” A player may play with a cast under two conditions: if it is not prohibited by the local rules of competition and if the referee believes that the cast will not present a danger to anyone else. The referee would be bound by the same strictures‹if the player can not have a cast, then neither could the referee.

Your question:
I was at a youth league game and the ball slowly rolled to the corner, hit the flag, and bounced a few inches back onto the field. The ref did not call it out and play continued. Should he have stopped play? Should it have been called a corner or goal kick (depending on who touch it last) or a throw-in? Is this correct because the ball never left the field of play much like a ball hitting the goal post? It was so goofy that no parents complained as commented on the improbability of it and they questioned each other on what should have been done.

BTW, is a tree always out of bounds? If a corner kick hits an overhanging tree, does it depend on where it is hit or is it automatically out of bounds? Same field different match.

USSF answer (April 29, 2004):
1. The corner flag is considered to be part of the field, just like the referee. In the situation you present, the ball never left the field.

2. A tree is considered to be a pre-existing condition, something on or above the field that is not described in Law 1 but is deemed safe and not generally subject to movement. This category includes trees overhanging the field, wires running above the field, and covers on sprinkling or draining systems. These things do not affect one team more adversely than the other and are considered to be a part of the field. If the ball leaves the field after contact with any item considered under the local ground rules of the field to be a pre-existing condition, the restart is in accordance with the Law, based on which team last played the ball. (Check with the competition for any local ground rules.)

Your question:
If a player is ejected during their last game in a USYSA-sponsored tournament, are they then required to sit out their next USYSA event, for example, a league game? Or does the suspension disappear when the event for which it was awarded ends?

According to the FDC, it would appear that they would sit out their next USYSA match, but some of our state associations claim that the FDC does not apply to USYSA. Can you advise?

USSF answer (April 26, 2004):
This policy statement from U. S. Soccer is the most up-to-date information available:
From the U.S. Soccer Communications Center ‹ Nov. 14, 2003
To: State Referee Administrators
State Youth Referee Administrators
State Directors of Referee Instruction
State Directors of Referee Assessment
National Referee Instructors and Trainers
National Assessors
National Referees
From: Alfred Kleinaitis
Manager of Referee Development and Education
Subject: Automatic Suspension Following an Expulsion from a Match
Date: November 14, 2003

FIFA recently distributed Circular 866 to clarify and confirm any doubts remaining from its earlier Circular (821, dated October 1, 2002) regarding the issue of mandatory suspensions for a player who has been expelled from a match. The clarifications took the form of unambiguous answers to certain frequently asked questions.

1. Any player sent off during a football match shall automatically be suspended for the following match (Art. 19, para. 4; Art. 39 FDC)

2. Any appeal against an automatic suspension shall not have a suspensive effect. Under no circumstances may a player take part in the following match while awaiting a decision on his appeal, regardless of the reasons for his appeal.

3. Any appeals against an automatic suspension as a result of an obvious error made by the referee under the terms of Art. 83 FDC (principally an error regarding the identify of a player involved in an incident leading to a sending off) can and must be accepted or rejected immediately in order to allow any players who have been erroneously suspended to play in the next match.

4. The disciplinary body is able to reach an immediate decision with regard to such an appeal as obvious errors, by their very nature, can also be confirmed without delay. If any doubts remain, the referee has clearly not made an obvious error and the appeal will also be rejected immediately.
We therefore ask the national associations of FIFA to make use of the judicial instruments referred to in the FIFA Disciplinary Code (Art. 134 and 140) in order to be able to make an immediate decision regarding appeals: either allow the disciplinary body to hold an immediate conference or permit a single judge to pronounce a decision.

5. If a player is unable to serve the automatic suspension in a domestic or continental club competition, the relevant bodies shall decide on how the suspension shall be carried over to another competition.

6. The principle of automatic suspension shall be applied in the same way, irrespective of the offence committed by the player.
However, in the case of particularly serious offences, the relevant body may extend the sanction imposed to apply to all competitions organized under its jurisdiction in order to prevent a player, after having committed such an offence, from playing in any other competition.

All competition authorities under USSF must ensure that their disciplinary procedures take these clarifications into consideration.

A one game suspension is mandatory following a send-off (red card).
The suspension may be extended for more serious offenses but it cannot be reduced, no matter what the reason was for the send-off.
The suspension must be served even if it is being appealed. Under no circumstances can the fact of an appeal be used to suspend or delay the suspension.
All appeals must be decided quickly, before the match is played for which the affected player would be suspended. If the send-off was erroneous due to an obvious error in identifying the player, this appeal can be resolved quickly because the error was obvious; if the error was not obvious, the appeal will be quickly resolved by rejecting it.

In our experience, if the player or team official continues into the _same_ competition (league or tournament) the next year, then the player or team official may not participate in the team’s first match in that competition. Your best bet would be to check with the competition authority.

The bottom line is that the red card does not disappear‹whatever the state association or the competition rules call for is what should be enforced. Just because someone gets a send off in the last game of an event or tournament, to have no carry over would create mayhem. It would be best if you would take your question to [your] State Association as we are sure they have rules in place to deal with a send-off.

Your question:
One attacker and two defenders are chasing a long ball towards the goal line. Just as they approach the goal line, one of the players saves the ball and kicks it back to the 18 where an attacker is standing. The three players’ momentum causes them to leave the field, as a part of normal play. The one attacker turns back toward the field and is passed the ball by his teammate standing at the 18. The attacker enters the field and collects the ball. Is he guilty of being offside?

What if he never left the field, and the two defenders did go over the end line? Are they to be taken into consideration when determining offside?

This has been asked of 9 National or State level referees and the votes are split 5 to 4. Before this happens to me, I want to make sure I know.

USSF answer (April 25, 2004):
The answer to your questions will be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.” If any of the National or State referees answered differently than what is in the Advice and what you will read here, then there is a major cause for concern about the knowledge of those whose answers differ from this response.

Situation 1: One attacker and two opponents leave the field during the course of play, just after one of the players (unspecified team) kicks the ball back to the 18, where an attacker is standing. The attacker who left the field returns and receives the ball from his teammate on the 18.

Decision: There can be no offside here. Players of either team who leave the field during the course of play are still considered in determining offside‹defenders if they do not immediately return to the field and members of the opposing team if they become involved in play. They are considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to the off-field position. (A player who has left with the referee’s permission is not included in determining offside position. See ATR 11.11.)

Situation 2: The attacker did not leave the field but the opponents did. Are they considered in determining offside?

Decision: No offside. See above and ATR 11.11, quoted below for ease of reference.

11.11 DEFENDER LEGALLY OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY A defender who leaves the field during the course of play and does not immediately return must still be considered in determining where the second to last defender is for the purpose of judging which attackers are in an offside position. Such a defender is considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to his off-field position. A defender who leaves the field with the referee’s permission (and who thus requires the referee’s permission to return) is not included in determining offside position.

Your question:
I am curious to know your reaction to the following based on the Laws of the Game. Perhaps I misunderstand the article, but I would have thought that having decided a goal was not scored, and having apparently restarted play after the delay (no mention is made of the match being abandoned), the referee could not thereafter change his mind.

Referee u-turn over riot-provoking goal

LAGOS (Reuters) – A Nigerian referee who ruled out a late goal at the weekend to prevent a riot has changed his mind and awarded victory to league leaders Dolphin FC.

Dolphin, playing at Plateau United, scored a goal in the 87th minute. After a pitch invasion which the police took 10 minutes to clear, the referee decided to cancel the goal and the game ended 0-0.

In his match report to the Nigerian Football Association (NFA), however, the referee said the goal was genuine and gave Dolphin a 1-0 win.

“He said he had to reverse the decision at the time to prevent a breakdown of law and order in view of the volatile situation in the stadium,” NFA league spokesman Salisu Abubakar told reporters.

“Based on his report, the three points go to Dolphin.”

USSF answer (April 25, 2004):
We cannot criticize referees from other countries for the way in which they manage their games. The following answer applies to games played under the auspices of the United States Soccer Federation.

No, the referee may not change his decision once the game has restarted. If the referee cancelled the goal at the 87th minute and then, after the pitch invasion, restarted play based on whatever pretext he used for the cancellation, and then said in his game report that the goal was in fact scored, he was wrong. Prudent, perhaps, but wrong. The referee must simply report the facts and allow the competition authority to make the decision.

If the referee was in such fear of his well-being or the general health of his fellow officials or the teams that he felt he had to take such an action, then he probably should not have restarted play in the first place and terminated the match right then and there.

Your question:
Tricky referee question: The match has not started yet.  The white team wins the referee toss of the coin and elects to defend the south goal. Both teams are now on the field ready to go but the blue team refuses to kick the ball to begin play. How do you proceed? I don’t think a caution or dismissal can be issued because the match has not started. Do you wait the maximum allotted time to start the match and then decide to abandon the match? That was the best I had. The match ends in a draw?

USSF answer (April 23, 2004):
Actually, the team that wins the toss of the coin, which does not have to be taken by the referee, can elect only to attack a particular goal, not defend a particular goal. It all ends up the same, but the Law reads as stated here.

If the blue team refuses to begin play, the referee must exercise tact and imagination to encourage them to take the kick. If they will not, the referee notifies both teams that the game is abandoned and submits a full report on the matter to the appropriate authorities.

Another, more hard-nosed solution would be to pick out a player and caution for unsporting behavior. The referee’s authority begins upon arrival at the field, so this is perfectly legal. If the coach is smart (this is already questionable given the scenario you experienced), he or she would forestall the possibility of misconduct by simply refusing to field the minimum number of players.

Your question:
Player A1 receives a yellow card during the first half. Toward the middle of the second half, the referee again gives player A1 a yellow card, but the ref does not recognize that this was the same player and that A1 should be disqualified and the team play short. So play goes on with both teams at full strength. Ten minutes later, Team A scores a goal, whereupon, before play is resumed, the captain of Team B points out to the referee that Team A should have been playing short. Player A1 did not participate in the scoring of the goal. How does the ref handle the situation? Does the goal count or not? What is the restart? Are players sent off? Are additional cards administered? In a second case, Player A1 was the one who scored the goal. What are the correct calls in this case?

USSF answer (April 22, 2004):
You may have missed one of our answers of April 10, 2004. It should answer your question about what the referee should do regarding a missed send-off for second caution:
The referee’s right to display a red card and send off a player who should have been sent off for a second caution in a game is sacrosanct. In this case ATR 5.14 would apply (see below) and the red card may be shown and the player sent from the field even if play has been (incorrectly) restarted.

As we responded to a question just about a year ago (April 3, 2003), if the refereeing crew recognizes, even after a substantial amount of time has passed‹in that case 20 minutes, at the halftime break‹that a player received a second caution and should have been sent off, the referee may then administer the send-off and red card as soon as is feasible.

As to the remaining questions:
A player who has not been sent off at the proper time is functionally equivalent to an “extra” player. The referee should apply the same principles used when a team is discovered to have a twelfth player on the field immediately after it scored a goal. If discovered prior to the kick-off, the goal is cancelled, the “extra” player is removed, cards shown as needed, and play resumes with a goal kick. If not discovered until after the kick-off restart, the goal stands and the player is removed in accordance with the Laws of the Game.

In any event, the referee must send a detailed report of the matter to the appropriate authorities.

Your question:
Law 14 states that “the defending goalkeeper remains on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked”.

My question is: More experienced goalkeepers will often be perched on the front part of their feet and they may not have contact with the goal line on the ground, but have the back part of their feet hovering above the line. Would it be improper to allow the GK to defend from this position if in the opinion of the referee, (s)he did not gain an advantage from being in this position?

This is obviously irrelevant if the PK is successfully made, but if the GK jumps to the right directly along the line and stops the kick, then there is no advantage gained by having feet above the line as opposed to on the line. If the GK goes forward towards the kicker and successfully defends the ball, than they may have gained an advantage and would need to re-take the kick.

USSF answer (April 22, 2004):
It is not the job of the referee to allow the goalkeeper any advantage at a penalty kick. The obvious intent of the Law is that the goalkeeper remain ON the goal line, not poised on his toes ahead of the line. As you state, it makes no difference if the ball goes into the goal, but it does indeed make a difference if the goalkeeper is able to defend against it. Let’s remember why the penalty kick was awarded: A member of the goalkeeper’s team committed a foul against an opponent within the penalty area.

Your question:
In a recent game I saw the following occur and was wondering what the proper procedure would be. The Home team had to wear pennies because of a color conflict, during the course of the game, the ball bounced up into the pennie and became trapped between the pennie & Jersey. The player was on the run when this occurred and carried the ball for at least ten yards before it became free.

USSF answer (April 22, 2004):
It’s nice that someone has actually seen one of the oldest “chestnuts” (if you will pardon the expression) in the world of soccer. The correct answer is exactly as it would be for jerseys, turbans, or skirts. Before blowing the whistle immediately to stop play, the referee should hesitate a moment or two to see if the player decides to halt and take care of the situation. If that happens, then the referee will simply stop play, get the ball removed, and restart with a dropped ball. This applies to an accidental situation, analogous to an accidental case of handling.

The fact that a player may benefit from the ball becoming trapped in his or her clothing does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement unless the player takes subsequent action to retain the ball once it is lodged in the uniform. However, in that case, if the player continues his progress down the field with the ball inside the pennie and jersey (or on his turban or in his jersey or in her skirt), the occurrence is clearly no longer an accident; the referee stops play; cautions the player for unsporting behavior, and restarts with an indirect free kick for the opposing team.

Still thinking along those lines, we wonder how the player could have moved at least 30 feet, even on the run, without being aware of what was happening or stopping to take care of it.

Your question:
We had a situation where a player moved the flag before taking the corner kick. All of our referees know this is an infringment of law 17, but what is the sanction?

USSF answer (April 20, 2004):
Actually, it is an infringement of Law 1, The Field of Play, as well as of Law 17, The Corner Kick. You will find the reference in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”: “1.6 NO PLAYER MODIFICATIONS TO THE FIELD “Goalkeepers or other players may not make unauthorized marks on the field of play. The player who makes such marks or alterations on the field to gain an unfair advantage may be cautioned for unsporting behavior. Players may return bent or leaning corner flags to the upright position, but they may not bend or lean them away from the upright position to take a corner kick, nor may the corner flag be removed for any reason.”

The punishment is a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior. The kick may still be taken.

Your question:
I was refereeing a match this weekend, before the game there was severe lightning and thunder which delayed the start of the match. While we were waiting in the field house one of the parents sought us out and asked us a question, that I wasn’t quite sure how to answer. She said that the day before her daughters team played in a match and their opponents went ahead 2-1 with 3 minutes remaining in the game. At that point everytime the leading team got a throw in, they would send 7 players over to the touch line and would create a semi-circle sourrounding the player taking the throw. The thrower would send the ball to the feet of her teammates in the semi circle and they would all stand there with the ball in the middle of them so as to not allow the opponents to play the ball. She asked me if this was legal or if it was obstruction.

I told her I wasn’t sure. I explained to her that impedeing the progress of an opponent can only occur if the player who’s impedeing is not within playing distance of the ball. In my mind I could envision a circle of players tight enough that they could all possible play or kick the ball, so I didn’t know if that tactic was Illegal or not under the LOTG. Perhaps this would be a form of dangerous play, as the only real or fair way the opponents could challenge for the ball would be to basically kick at the opponents heals which would also be a foul on the losing side. Given the very vague description of the tactic used here, would do you think is the correct action for the referee to take, if any?

USSF answer (April 20, 2004):
We are not sure what kind of coach would teach a tactic like this, as it seems totally counterproductive to have so many players in one spot. The referee can and should do nothing. However, there is a remedy: There is nothing to prohibit a player from leaving the field of play during the course of play if the presence of an opponent prevents her from getting to the ball to play it. (We have published this several times before; e. g., the item of April 25, above.)

Your question:
Is it legal to yell, literaly, yell unprofessionaly to a soccer player. I admit I pushed a girl, but she pushed me first. I let the first one go without pushing, but the second I had to defind for myself. He gave me a warning politely at first. Than the girl pushed me down, again. Once agian she pushed me. I was trying to protect myself from getting hurt this time and we colided. The ref than yelled at me that this is the second retaliate you have done! We will not tolerate this kind of behavior!

I apologized and he said don’t take that kind of tone with me! Than some of the fans started to stick up for me than he sent a fan out of the stands. He supposidley did this because the fan was being too rowdy. The reason the fan was rowdy was because the ref told a player that was really hurt to get up and not pretend that she was hurt. Than the fan told him that he had gone too far, by letting a player get hurt badly. Than he also gave the hurt player a yellow card for nothing. I know for a fact that some of the things he did must have been illigal. It is unfair to do this to the players.

USSF answer (April 16, 2004):
We agree that the behavior and player-management style of the referee seem to be poor, but it also seems as if you may have contributed to the problem by your repeated retaliation. One of the first lessons the good soccer player learns is to take the lumps dished out by the opponents and get on with the game‹the best revenge comes from winning the game through skill and determination.

Fans have every right to express their opinion. Sometimes it helps, but not very often. Of course it is not proper to yell at players. Referees have bad days, just like players. We all have to work through them as best we can.

Your question:
I was center for a U-16 girls match. Team A had just scored and was now ahead by two goals with about ten minutes left to play. Team B had placed the ball in the center and was ready to restart the game. A player from team A was walking back through the center circle. The player from team B who was waiting to restart the game had her back toward me. I am sure that she wanted to restart as quickly as possible, but I was just going to allow for the stoppage and add time and did not foresee what the future would bring. I had more outside the center circle and was also waiting for the player from team A to get into position. The two players must have exchanged some words that I could not hear and then the player from team B cursed the player from team A. I heard the cursing and sent the player from team B off. I had not heard or seen a taunt, but I was sure that one must have occurred. Should I have given a yellow card to the team A player for unsporting behavior?

USSF answer (April 16, 2004):
In actual fact, the only thing the referee can punish is something personally seen or heard by the referee or one of the assistant referees or the fourth official. However, given the circumstances of the game, it would have been a reasonable inference that the opposing player had caused the player on team B to curse at her. Considering your own feeling that the team A player had caused the outburst, why did you not practice selective hearing, an excellent tool for referees in every situation?

In addition, given what you inferred from the circumstances, a caution to the team A player for delaying the restart of play might have been worth considering. In general, we need to remember as referees that, when punishing “retaliation,” it is desirable whenever possible to also deal with what was being retaliated against‹and usually to card the first behavior before carding the retaliation.

Your question:
I have noticed some boys wearing their shorts pulled so far down that if they didnt have shirts, 60% of their underwear would be showing. They continually pull their shorts down. It may be the style in school but on the field it appears disrepectful! Your thoughts on this during pregame inspections?

USSF answer (April 15, 2004):
Custom, tradition, and safety require that players keep their shirts tucked in and their socks pulled up and generally maintain a professional appearance. The intelligent referee will allow players to wear their shorts as they like, as long as they do not present an insult to common decency or a danger to any player.

Your question:
U14 boys game. Before game coach of one team tells ref he plans on having his team change uniforms at half time.No problem with conflicting colors. Ref says NO. You have to play with the uniform you start with. Coach says – ref last week let us do it, and, where in the rules does it say we can’t. Ref did not allow it, coach filed protest and I was asked for my input.

My first response was – I see no reason why it should not be allowed. After some discussion with protest committee we considered it might be unsporting. Opponents have played a half looking at a “blue” team now have a “gold” team to watch out for.

Is this a tactical move? Is it allowed?

USSF answer (April 12, 2004):
This would seem to be a tactical move, designed to confuse the opponents. Traditionally–and a lot of the Law is strictly tradition–the team must wear its uniform for the entire game, without making any changes. This is the sort of thing that would be regarded as “bringing the game into disrepute” by turning it into a spectacle. This sort of infringement will fall under “Law 18,” common sense. It is obviously a move to confuse, demoralize, and take advantage of the opponents and serves no useful purpose for the good of the game.

The old excuse that “the referee last week let us do it” means nothing. It means simply that the referee last week didn’t want to rock the boat–and that this week’s referee had a firm grasp on reality. He simply followed the road of soccer tradition, which is always the correct one.

Your question:
An attacker was in an offside position but never participated in the play. He was not interfering with the keeper. A shot was taken from near the top of the penalty box and went in. The problem was that the R blew his whistle after the shot but just before the ball went in. The AR did not signal offside. The keeper appeared unaffected by the whistle. The coach of the defense wasn’t! We allowed the goal. The R later admitted that he anticipated that the offside player was about to participate, but quickly realized he did not so there should be no offside call. Please comment on whether there is such a thing as an ‘inadvertant whistle’ or if the whistle should have ‘killed’ the action so that the goal should have been desallowed?

USSF answer (April 10, 2004):
Whistle blows, game is stopped. No goal. Restart with indirect free kick for the defending team because of the “offside.”

In fact, the game stops when the referee DECIDES to blow the whistle. The referee must then eat the whistle and the error in judgment. Ketchup or other condiments allowed.

Your question:
In a recent U16 Classic Division One club match the center referee carded (yellow) a midfielder for a violation in the early part of the first half. It was clear he carded No. 7. In the 30th minute, the referee card again stopped play and card a midfielder (yellow) it appear to be the same midfielder but it was not clear to whom he assigned the yellow card. It appeared to me he had carded No. 9. The first half ended without further incidence. Play continued for another ten minutes until the half concluded. At the beginning of the second half, the referee calls No. 7 to the center of the field prior to the restart of the match and shows No. 7 a red card. Did the referee act according the rules? Can he correct his apparent mistake later in the match? Is there any legal recourse to challenge the red card? The player must obviously forgo the next match!

USSF answer (April 10, 2004):
The referee’s right to display a red card and send off a player who should have been sent off for a second caution in a game is sacrosanct. In this case ATR 5.14 would apply and the red card may be shown and the player sent from the field even if play has been (incorrectly) restarted.

As we responded to a question just about a year ago (April 3, 2003), if the refereeing crew recognizes, even after a substantial amount of time has passed–in that case 20 minutes, at the halftime break–that a player received a second caution and should have been sent off, the referee may then administer the send-off and red card as soon as is feasible.

Your question:
Over the years, I have been taught to position myself behind the Corner Flag, looking down the Goal Line, rather than the prescribed position at the intersection of the Penalty Area Line and the Goal Line. The rationale was this position gave the appropriate view of ball over goal line, goalkeeper movement and did not place the Assistant Referee on the field of play and, potentially in the midst of active play, while attempting to return to the appropriate offside position.

What is the advantage of the position at the intersection of the Penalty Area Line and the Goal Line, and is there any discussion about changing to the position at the corner flag?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
The correct position for assistant referees (ARs) on penalty kicks is delineated in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials,” which can be downloaded from this URL: http://www.ussoccer.com/templates/includes/services/referees/pdfs/GuidetoProcedures.pdf

The AR is encouraged to enter the field, when necessary, and upon direction of the referee. See Law 6:
The ARs also assist the referee to control the match in accordance with the Laws of the Game. In particular, they may enter the field of play to help control the 9.15m distance.

Being nearer to the penalty kick allows the AR to help control the match, observe the goalkeeper, and other duties as assigned by the referee. Being nearer to the goal than the corner flag at a penalty kick increases the ability of the AR to provide critical information to the referee regarding whether a goal was scored– given the circumstances of the penalty kick, the chances are greater that a cunning goalkeeper might attempt to hide the scoring of a goal by quickly and surreptitiously pulling the ball back onto the field.

There is absolutely no discussion about changing the AR’s position at the penalty kick to the area of the corner flag. Please bring this information to the attention of those who have taught you incorrectly over the years.

Your question:
I ran across a player last Sat that had purchased headgear that was designed to make heading the ball more comfortable. It was soft and had extra padding in the forehead area.

Is this kind of gear to be allowed? If yes. Then what about a player that wants to wear a skullcap for the same purpose?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
Here is an answer from last year. Nothing has changed since that time.
USSF answer (July 16, 2003):
The United States Soccer Federation does not take a position one way or another on padded headgear. Such headgear is not part of the player’s required uniform and equipment. The referee is the sole judge of the permissibility of these items, which must meet the requirement in Law 3 that it not be dangerous to any player.

You can find most recent the position paper regarding the issue of equipment on this and other USSF-affiliated websites. You may also have noticed the face masks — not helmets — worn by one or two Korean and Japanese players during World Cup 2002. The use of those face masks was not questioned at any time by the referees or the administration.

Your question:
[NOTE: See item of 6 April 2004, in the archives.]
In a match USYSA U14 girls. Team A attacker dribbles ball into attacking 1/3 of Team B field. Team A striker loses possession of the ball to Team B defender. Team B defender starts the attack up the field by dribbling the ball towards Team A defending 1/2 of the field. Team A striker turns and watches Team B attack. Team A striker comes back to her defending 1/3 of the field and foot tackles the ball and clears it free from Team B and Team A recovers possession in defending 1/3 of Team A field. Center Referee calls offside on Team A striker and award a direct kick in Team A defending 1/3 of the field. I agree Team A striker was in offside position when she lost possession of the ball and Team B defenders pushed up into Team A defending 1/2 of the field putting Team A striker in the offside position. But I never heard of a offside called in the defending 1/2 of the field.

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
Nor has anyone else but this referee. Not only may a player not be considered in an offside position in her own half of the field, she may not be called offside there–unless she was in the opposing team’s half of the field when one of her teammates played the ball and she was able to become involved in play there. Now we only have to figure out why the referee gave a direct free kick against her for this mythical offside; the correct restart if she had been offside would have been an indirect free kick.

Your question:
After a White player in a youth match has legally restarted play, he plays the ball with his foot before anyone else touches the ball. The referee stops play for second touch and then sees an AR signaling. After the restart, but before the whistle, the opponents performed an illegal substitution (player off, sub on). The referee cautions the two opponents. What is the correct restart? IFK to the Whites (player leaving FOP w/o permission)? Or IFK to the opponents (second touch)?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
The entire scenario is a bit unclear, as there are not enough details as to who did what when.

Given the lack of details to make a case for sequential infringements, we must rely on what we have: Why did the referee stop play? For the illegal second touch. As both infringements by the opposing team are cautionable offenses and did not involve a foul, the referee is not obliged to stop play for either of them and can wait until the next opportunity–which he did–namely, the second-touch violation by White.

Referee action: Caution Black player, caution Black sub; indirect free kick restart for Black where White committed the second-touch violation.

Your question:
Whereas Law 15 does not state that excessive spin is wrong, traditionally it has been interpreted that excessive spin is an indication an improper advantage is trying to be gained with the throw. The understanding was that a throw in was merely for restarting play and was not intended to become an attacking capability. However, I rarely see the law interpreted this way and it is being stretched to where throw ins have come to resemble a forward pass in American footbal. Is there an offical guidance on this?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
Yes, there is official guidance. You will find it in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.” You can download it from the referee page on the ussoccer.com web site. Here is the guidance from the Advice to Referees:

A throw-in must be performed while the thrower is facing the field, but the ball may be thrown into the field in any direction. Law 15 states that the thrower “delivers the ball from behind and over his head.” This phrase does not mean that the ball must leave the hands from an overhead position. A natural throwing movement starting from behind and over the head will usually result in the ball leaving the hands when they are in front of the vertical plane of the body. The throwing movement must be continued to the point of release. A throw-in directed straight downward (often referred to as a “spike”) has traditionally been regarded as not correctly performed; if, in the opinion of the referee such a throw-in was incorrectly performed, the restart should be awarded to the opposing team. There is no requirement in Law 15 prohibiting spin or rotational movement. Referees must judge the correctness of the throw-in solely on the basis of Law 15.

The acrobatic or “flip” throw-in is not by itself an infringement so long as it is performed in a manner which meets the requirements of Law 15.

A player who lacks the normal use of one or both hands may nevertheless perform a legal throw-in provided the ball is delivered over the head and provided all other requirements of Law 15 are observed.

Please read also Advice 15.5:
Referees are reminded that the primary function of the throw-in is to put the ball back into play as quickly as possible. At competitive levels of play, therefore, apparent technical infringements of Law 15 should often be deemed trifling or doubtful so long as an advantage is not obtained by the team performing the throw-in and the restart occurs with little or no delay.

Your question:
An attacking player with control of the ball makes a move to the right with the ball. At the same moment, the defended attempts to stop to adjust to the move of the attacker and slips, going feet first to the ground. The attacker attempts to quickly shoot the ball. The ball hits the defender (now lying on his side after falling) in the stomach area and rebounds 6 – 12 inches from his stomach. the attacker then straddles the defender on the ground to make contact or control of the ball. The defender attempting to stand is unable due to the attacking player still straddling the defender on the ground. After several whacks at the ball the ball is lodged closer to the defenders body. A whistle blows and a delay of game is called on the defender lying on the ground. a free kick is awarded the attacking team.

Is this the right call? does not the defender have the right to attempt to stand although he is essentially being held down by the attacking player stradding him.
Is the attempt to stand along with the inability to stand due to the attacking player standing over him taken into account.
Is the attacking player(s) whacking at the ball exhibiting dangerous play?

Which is the right call?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
If the defender on the ground has been prevented from rising by an opponent, it would not be correct to call a foul on the “grounded” player for playing dangerously. If the player who is straddling the player on the ground is simultaneously “whacking at the ball,” then that player is the one who should be called for playing dangerously–unless you decide the player is holding the opponent on the ground, which would be a direct free kick for the team of the player on the ground. (We won’t mention the possibility of a caution for unsporting behavior for the “whacking.”)

Your question:
If someone gets punched in the face during a game and the punched person grabs the arm of the puncher, should a penalty kick be awarded to the team of the puncher?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
A penalty kick would be awarded to the team of the puncher only if the punch occurs in the opposing team’s penalty area.

That, of course, does not address the subsequent “grabbing” by the player who was punched. Depending on game circumstances, that might merit a caution to the player who did the grabbing. The grabbing cannot be a foul because what is described is a sequential series of infringements and the striking occurred first, so that is when play stopped. Because play was stopped, even if the whistle had not been blown, the grabbing can be only misconduct.

Your question:
I am a house league soccer coach for a 7th and 8th grade girls team. I have been coaching soccer for over ten seasons. During that time I have consistently helped the players understand where their correct position should be on the field during games. The insructions I give are to “Drop Back” or “defenders to midfield” things like that. I will occasionally say “Shelby cover number 6” or “somebody cover number 6” or “everybody cover a player”. Last week I was warned by a sideline refereee that I was violating FIFA rules in saying these things. When I pursued the matter with our league referee director he told me that coaches are to be essentially spectators with the exception of calling for substitutions. Please help me clarify what level of direction I am permitted to give my players within the rules for a team of this age and level.

USSF answer (April 7, 2004):
Coaches are allowed and encouraged to provide their players with helpful information.

Coaches are not permitted to badger the referee or assistant referees (or club linesmen) and are not permitted to indulge in misconduct of any sort by passing out misleading information that will lead the opposing team astray. In general, occasional helpful and positive information to one’s own players is acceptable. Comments which are directed at opponents; are negative, disparaging, or distracting; undermine the authority of the officials; or are so frequent as to constitute choreographing every move of the players are not acceptable and may result in the coach being warned about his behavior or even ordered from the field for behaving irresponsibly. In general, less and less needs to be said by coaches as the experience and skill level of the teams increase.

The league should take this into account in training its coaches so that they understand clearly the difference between tactical instruction and irresponsible behavior.

Your question:
Can you please give me a concise definition of “Misinterpretation of the Laws of the Game”?

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
“Misinterpretation of the Laws” means that a referee has totally misread and misapplied the Law, the Q&A, and the Additional Instructions, as well as the USSF Advice to Referees.

Example: Giving an offside for a player who has not left his own half of the field of play, simply because there was only one opponent between him and the opposing goal.

Example: Giving a direct free kick for the offense described above.

Both of these were in a question that came in this week–from the assistant referee on the game.

Your question:
It’s soccer time again, and I have questions…
1) Quite often, and at all levels, the player taking the corner kick raises his hand upright just before executing the kick. What is the significance of this action and is it required?
2) A Team A attacker receives an on-side pass in the penalty area just above the PK marker, while surrounded by 3 Team B defenders. As the same attacker (from Team A) is about to shoot on goal he is held at the waist from behind by one of the Team B attackers. The attacker still manages to get a shot off and the ball enters the net. Is this an Advantage goal or a PK? What if the ball went straight out of touch, would that change anything?

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
1) The raised hand is a signal to the kicker’s team that he is about to kick. You will have to check with the player himself to determine the signal’s true significance and whether or not it is required.

2) Why would a referee take away a goal scored from a trifling foul and award a penalty kick? Award the advantage, if truly necessary, and score the goal.

If, following the holding, the kicker’s shot goes awry and over the goal line, the referee will have to judge whether or not the holding was significant enough to be called a foul. If it was, then the correct restart is a penalty kick.

Your question:
I would like to get your comments concerning a situation that occurred during a U16 girls game in which I was the referee. During the pace of the game the ball was volleyed from near midfield toward one of the goals. The attacking team’s forward and opponent’s defender bolted side by side toward the bouncing ball. As they raced past the the top of the 18 the attacker gained a stride and was able to get a partial foot on the bounding ball which the keeper caught. A split second afterwards the defender’s extended leg and the offensive player’s feet got tangled and the players went down. To the dismay of the attacking team’s coach I did not call for a PK, his protest was that a foul in the PA area is a foul and a PK should be awarded. My position is this: both players are fairly and cleanly challenging for the ball. The attacker gained a stride which allowed her to get the shot off. The defender’s action precipitated the tangle up and causing both players to go down however the action was not reckless or use of excessive force. To some it may be considered careless however the total situation needs to be ascertained. Would the outcome (attacker getting the shot off and keeper catching the ball) have been the same if the tangle up (trip according to the coach) not occurred? In my opinion the answer is yes, and along with the defender’s trip being more unintentional than purposeful and occurring after the shot was taken I decided to not call the foul. A chat with the defender about being more careful sufficed.

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
An interesting question and one that we have answered before. It is, of course, your opinion as referee that determines whether or not a foul has occurred. Without wishing to seem to be insulting you–particularly as your decision may well have been correct in the end–your opinion would seem to have been based on erroneous reasoning.

We referees are no longer required to judge “intent” in an act by one player against another, but to judge the result of the act instead. However, we are allowed to distinguish between an act that is accidental and one that is deliberate.

All referees need to remember that “intent” is not an issue in deciding what is or is not a foul, regardless of age, and that something at the youngest age levels might nonetheless be considered a foul if it is determined to be careless. No age is too young to begin learning not to be careless.

For example, in the case of a player stumbling and colliding with an opponent, we would judge the act to be careless, reckless, or involving the use of excessive force–and thus a foul–only if the player had already begun to trip (or attempt to trip), push, kick (or attempt to kick), strike (or attempt to strike), jump at or charge his opponent. If the player was still merely pursuing the opponent and happened to stumble and fall, colliding with the opponent on the way down, there has been no foul, as the act was simply accidental or inadvertent.

Only you, as the referee on the spot, can tell us whether this is in fact what happened.

Your question:
I had a discussion with the referees at my last game (FIFA/US Soccer Laws). I was standing at the 6 yard line as a defender trying to clear the ball out. It was extremely windy and I miskicked the ball. It glanced off my shin into the air and the wind picked it up and pushed it back towards our goalkeeper. He then picked it up and threw the ball about 30 yards up the field towards the left touchline. The AR on that side of the field then signaled the center referee. The center referee stopped play (while the ball was in play by the touchline). He consulted with the AR, told him that he did not think the pass was intentional and there was no penalty/indirect kick to be awarded. The center referee then restarted the game with a drop ball at the 6-yard line (where the goalie had handled the ball). I think the center referee made the correct call, but restarted the ball improperly. I have 3 questions.

1) The law states it is unlawful for the goalkeeper in his own penalty area to handle the ball after being deliberately kicked by a teammate. Does this mean that even on a miskick, where a player meant to kick the ball (i.e. a bad clear), just not to the goalie, would count here? Could the goalie pick this ball up on a miskick.

2) I agree that the game should have been restarted with a drop ball, but shouldn’t it have been restarted where the ball was when the referee stopped play?

3) How do the words intentionally and deliberately play out here?

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
1. The goalkeeper may certainly handle the ball when it has been clearly misdirected by a teammate. (An example might be a player trying to clear the ball and slicing it or having it caught and carried back by the wind, so that it goes back to the goalkeeper.) Referees should punish such handling only when, in the opinion of the referee, the pass was deliberate.

2. The ball should have been dropped at the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.

3. The word “intentionally” does not occur in the Laws of the Game. (However, the word “intent” does occur once, in the Additional Instructions at the end of the book, where referees are instructed to caution players who delay the restart of play by certain tactics.) The word “deliberately” means that the player did what he or she planned to do.

Your question:
One of my players left the field when I sent in substitutes, 5 went in 6 came off. I notified the AR and wanted to send him in, I was told that I had to wait until a normal substitution situation , I thought I needed to get the Refs. Ok and he could enter at any time after the ref waved him in. I waited 6 minutes till he went in playing a man down. Please advise the proper procedure for me.

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
In this case, your player should be allowed to enter at any time, whether play is stopped or not, but only with the referee’s permission. Because this is not a substitution, this would apply even under the rules of a competition that specifies that a substitute may enter only at particular times.

Your question:
Play is on when you see, off to the right, a player go down and writhing in pain. You didn’t see any foul but due to concern of player appearing to be seriously injured you stop play. Once you stop play, he amazingly jumps up and runs to where you are. He earns himself a caution for exaggerating the injury. Do you restart with dropped ball from place ball was when you stopped play for the injury? Or do you view the misconduct as occurring simultaneously and punish this with a restart of an IFK from where the player was?

USSF answer (April 5, 2004):
When play is stopped for a player who is seriously injured, the normal restart would be a dropped ball from the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play (taking into consideration the special circumstances described in Law 8). However, if the “serious injury” turns out to be simulation, the referee cautions the player for unsporting behavior and shows the yellow card. The restart in this case is indirect free kick from the place where the infringement occurred (taking into consideration the special circumstances described in Law 8).

Your question:
Please forgive me if I’m only supposed to send questions about the laws of the game to askareferee@ussoccer.org but I did not know who else to ask.

Where could I find a bylaw or rule on the USSF web site which says use of tobacco by USSF referees is not allowed?

Someone has asked me for documentation and while I remember my referee instructor mentioning this, I do not remember where he said the rule could be found.

USSF answer (April 5, 2004):
You will not find this restriction in the Laws of the Game, nor anywhere else. However, you will find in the International Football Association’s (IFAB) Questions and Answers to the Laws of the Game that a player may not use tobacco during a match. (Law 12, Q&A 3) The Q&A does not say tobacco, but does say “lights a cigarette.” The connection is clear and definite.

As defined in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” “during a match” includes:
(a) the period of time immediately prior to the start of play during which players and substitutes are physically on the field warming up, stretching, or otherwise preparing for the match;
(b) any periods in which play is temporarily stopped;
(c) half time or similar breaks in play;
(d) required overtime periods;
(e) kicks from the penalty mark if this procedure is used in case a winner must be determined; and
(f) the period of time immediately following the end of play during which the players and substitutes are physically on the field but in the process of exiting.

It is a tenet of the National Program for Referee Development that a referee should do nothing in the vicinity of the field that he or she would not allow a player to do. Thus the use of tobacco in any form would be a violation of the referee’s compact with the United States Soccer Federation.

Your question:
I have a question about physical contact between a referee and a youth player that is initiated by the referee. There are obviously extremes on both ends; the acceptable being a handshake after a game, the unacceptable being a referee striking a player. The physical contact I am not sure about is that in between. At a recent game I witnessed the referee pull a player aside by grabbing the player’s wrist. Another incident occurred shortly after in the game where the ref put his hands on another players shoulders while talking to the boy. The ref said that the player claimed to have something in his eye and he was checking, but the appearance at the time was more confrontational. The age of the players in this game was 12/13.

I am personally a referee myself and a parent of two boys who play competitive soccer. When I ref a game I make a conscious decision not to make any type of intentional contact with the players other than to shake hands after a game and then only when initiated by the player. As a parent I do not want a referee to use physical force, threats of force, or even any unnecessary physical contact with my boys. At the same time, I have never seen any type of real guidelines on what could be considered appropriate or inappropriate contact initiated by a referee with a player and only go by my own feelings on the issue. I do understand that this is a very complicated issue with different answers based on the situation, the age and sex of the referee, the players, and even the level of the match, so I am trying to find out what is considered acceptable.

USSF answer (April 5, 2004):
No referee should ever lay hands on any player for any reason other than to help a player in need of assistance to rise from the ground. Some referees will attempt to break up fights, but that is not recommended.

Your question:
Further to your goalkeeper safety answer on 12-Feb-04, in a match on 27-Mar-04 the opponents goalkeeper in his penalty area tried to tackle the ball (fairly) from an attacker with both feet. The keeper wound up on the ground with the ball under and between his legs. When the attacker tried to kick it out, the referee awarded a DFK to the defenders and called it “in the keeper’s possession.” The attacker’s foot made contact with the ball but not the keeper. The keeper was not touching the ball with his hands or arms.

The attacker’s coach objected to this call because keeper possession is defined as “contact with hands or arms.” I told the coach the correct call should be dangerous play on the attacker and the ball (IFK) should still be awarded to the defenders. It still didn’t seem fair play by the keeper. Could the call have been anything else – to award the ball to the attackers?

USSF answer (April 2, 2004):
What is fair to one may not seem fair to another. Was the goalkeeper given a chance to get up and play the ball properly? If so, but the ‘keeper chose not to do so, then the ‘keeper should be called for playing in a dangerous manner and the ‘keeper’s team should be penalized by the indirect free kick for the opponents. If the goalkeeper had no clear chance to stand and play the ball properly, then the correct call, if not the correct words by the referee, would be kicking (or attempting to kick) by the player on the opposing team, and the goalkeeper’s team would be awarded a direct free kick. (Under some circumstances, the referee might consider a send-off for serious foul play.)

Your question:
1. During a “drop ball” restart, one team elected not to participate. The player on the team that did, kicked the ball twice when the ball was dropped. There is nothing in the rules stating that this is ok or not so what’s the call? Is the player entitled to kick the ball twice? 2. During a penalty kick the defending players all yelled in an un sports man like manner just as the opposing player was about to kick the ball and thereby distracting that player. The ball did not go in. What should be the call? If it is un sports man like and every player was involved, who should be cautioned and what should the restart be? Should the player attempting the kick be allowed another chance?

These were youth games- U14. I was the ref so I wanted to see if I made the correct call. I’ve check the various ref manuals and could not find a reference for these events.

USSF answer (April 2, 2004):
1. At a dropped ball, the ball is in play the moment it hits the ground. Because he or she did not put it into play, there is no reason to punish a player for playing the ball twice. The two-touch limitation applies only to restarts performed by a player.

2. Follow the instructions in Law 14: Allow the kick to be taken. If it enters the goal, score the goal. If the ball does not enter the goal, retake the penalty kick. For game management purposes, this is not a situation in which you would simply warn the opposing player(s). Therefore, do not retake the kick until you have cautioned at least one of the players on the opposing team for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. Your choice as to which player(s) to caution, but it might be wise to select a player who has not previously been cautioned.

Your question:
An offensive player receives the ball near the penalty spot, he has 2 defenders and the goalie in front of him, he dribbles past the first defender, cuts right and dribbles past the second defender, he then nears the post, changes the ball from one foot to the other as the goalie dives to block the shot, the keeper knocks the off ball foot with his reach,disbalancing the shot, the shot goes wide, penalty kick is awarded. QUESTION. Is this a red cardable, last man situation?

USSF answer (March 23, 2004):
That is a problem that can be resolved only by the referee on the spot, the only person who has seen what has gone on and the only person qualified to judge. Any and all situations regarding the possible denial of a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity are, in the final analysis, decided by the referee on this basis. No one can make this decision from the comfort of a computer, standing on the sidelines as a spectator, or from a seat in the stands or in front of the television set. As a matter of fact, the same could be said of any decision for a foul or misconduct.

Your question:
I had a concern about a play. The play is: The goalie comes out of his box playing it on the ground with two defenders behind him, one to his right and the other to his left. The goalie accidentally kicks it to the opposing player. The forward gets the ball and deliberately shoots towards the goal and the goalie purposely blocks it with his hands outside of the penalty area. The referee whistles for the foul,the opposing team quickly puts the ball down and shoots it towards goal and it goes in. The referee counts it as a goal and after gives the keeper a yellow card. We’ve been having this confusion for awhile now because it happened to one of our fellow refs. Is this correct? Thank You for your time; it is greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (March 21, 2004):
Unfortunately, the referee acted incorrectly in this case. If the referee believes that the goalkeeper denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball outside his penalty area, the correct punishment is to send off the goalkeeper and show him the red card. In this particular case, it is unlikely that the referee would send off the goalkeeper, as there were two defenders behind the ‘keeper when he committed his handling offense.

In any case of misconduct, if the referee fails to caution (yellow card) or send off (red card) the player immediately and the opposing team takes its free kick quickly–which it is allowed to do unless the referee stops it–then the referee may neither send off nor caution that player after play has restarted. This shows just how important it is for the referee to manage restarts effectively.

Your question:
The following hypothetical question was asked during a recent entry-level clinic I taught.  The more I think about it, the more my brain falls victim to paralysis of analysis.

The ball is in play under the control of the red team at the edge of the blue team’s penalty area. The Referee is well positioned on the left wing, trailing play by about 5 yards, where he can observe play and maintain eye contact with his lead AR. When the Referee sees his lead AR’s flag go up, he whistles a stoppage in play. The lead AR then points in the direction of the trail AR.

The Referee looks back to his trail AR, who has his flag raised and gives it a wave.  The referee back pedals to the trail AR to ask him what he observed. The trail AR tells the Referee that he observed the red sweeper and a blue forward exchange blows while standing near the half-way line in the center of the field. Unfortunately, the trail AR confessed that he was mostly watching the ball and did not observe who struck the first blow.

After deciding to send-off the two pugilists for violent misconduct, the Referee must now restart play. Since play was stopped for what turned out to be a penal foul (striking) he decides the restart must be a direct free kick from the point of the infraction. But, he wonders, in which direction should this free kick be taken?

The class had fun coming up with alternatives, including (1) give the free kick to the attacking team, since they had possession when play was stopped; (2) just guess which direction to call and hope you’re correct;  (3) restart with a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped; and (4) restart with a dropped ball at the point where the violent misconduct took place.

My immediate response to the class was that the Referee needed to earn his money and decide which direction play should go with a direct free kick, and that after the game he should have a very long, heart to heart talk with the trail AR.

So tell me, what is the officially correct answer?

USSF answer (March 19, 2004):
The “officially correct answer” is precisely as you stated–the referee must make a decision and stick with it under any circumstances. Restarting with a dropped ball is not an option.

In addition, it might be useful to note that there was a referee error embedded in the question: “When the Referee sees his lead AR’s flag go up, he whistles a stoppage in play.” At the point of seeing the assistant referee’s flag go up, the referee has no idea what the AR is trying to do other than gain the referee’s attention and, accordingly, stopping play THEN is incorrect. The flag straight up in the air is nothing more than a “Hey, ref!” call. The subsequent eye contact is the referee’s reply of “Yeah, what is it?” and this must then be followed by some AR action that tells the referee why the referee’s attention was wanted. In this case, the lead AR, who has mirrored the other AR’s flag, points to the trail AR, who then informs the referee that an event has occurred out of the view of the referee for which the referee would have stopped play if he had seen it. This is the correct point at which to stop play.

Your question:
What should the referee do if a player who is outside the penalty area intentionally stops the goalkeeper from releasing the ball?

I told one of our referees here that play should be stopped, the player should be cautioned and play restarted with an indirect kick to the goalkeeper’s team. He said no because the player is outside of the penalty area. It is only when the offence occurs in the penalty area that the referee should take such action.

USSF answer (March 19, 2004):
The makers of the Laws of the Game changed the Law some years ago to prevent time wasting by the team with the ball, such as the goalkeeper standing around holding the ball. Now that a limit has been set on the time during which the goalkeeper may hold the ball, the Law expects all players to refrain from delaying or otherwise interfering with the goalkeeper’s right to release the ball into play for all players. Any interference with the movement of the goalkeeper who is trying to release the ball into play is illegal, particularly any movement to block the goalkeeper’s line of sight or motion. Interference with the release of the ball is purely a positional thing, regardless of whether the goalkeeper is moving at the time.

It makes no difference where the interfering player stands, whether inside or outside the penalty area.

Your question:
At a recent game, a player chasing a ball across the touch line, twisted his knee. The Center Referee made a comment that the player injured himself while playing the ball into touch. I asked him isn¹t this out of touch, as the ball was leaving the field?

So my question is when a ball leaves the field over the touch line does it go out of or into touch?

USSF answer (March 19, 2004):
The term “touch” in describing the area surrounding the actual field is an old one in soccer. It goes back to the nineteenth century, when the first player getting to the ball after it left the bounds of the field could “touch” it and the ball became his to put back into play. Although that no longer applies and there are strict rules about who puts the ball back into play, depending on who last touched, played, or made contact with the ball before it left the field, the term “touch” is still used to describe the area outside the “touch lines.”

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