2005 Part 3

Your question:
I am the mother of an 8 year old boy who has been playing in our local soccer organization, now starting his 3rd year.

My son wears a medic alert bracelet for asthma and life threatening food allergy. Last Saturday (3rd game into our 3rd season) we were told by a referee that he could not play with the medic alert bracelet. He could either take it off or tape it down. I see in the NCAA rules and US Soccer rules that it is recommended to tape medic alert necklaces or bracelets to the body.

I have some concerns with this answer. One concern is general and one is specific to my situation.

General: when I spoke with the medic alert people about this they were aghast that a medic alert bracelet would be taped to a body. EMTs are taught to turn over the emblem immediately to ascertain medical conditions. Having to fumble with tape is not a good thing. Has the US Soccer organization run this option by the Medic Alert people????? Also, interestingly, FIFA rules specifically forbid the use of tape to tape jewelry down.

Specific: another of my son¹s conditions (not listed on the bracelet because it is not life-threatening) is chronic, severe eczema. We work very hard to keep my son¹s eczema under control. Applying tape to his skin for an hour of sweaty exercise would probably cause a rash that would take weeks to clear up; playing that way week after week would be a disaster, possibly leading to a staph infection of his skin.

Having surfed the web on this I find that some soccer organizations say that the medical emblems be inspected and tape applied to any portion that could be harmful. This I can see as a reasonable solution in the case of a bracelet.

The solution I am proposing, but haven¹t heard back yet from my local organization, is to have my son wear a tennis wrist band over the bracelet, with the words ³MEDIC ALERT² written on it in red letters.

Comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

USSF answer (September 29, 2005):
As we responded to a query in May 2003, no referee should refuse to allow a medicalert bracelet to be worn if it is properly taped. Under the provisions of Law 4 (Players Equipment), referees are required to ensure that no player wears equipment that is dangerous to him-/herself or to any other participant. This means that sometimes we have to sacrifice the good of one player for the good of all other players.

We have responded to questions about jewelry and other non-standard equipment many times. We always state that while jewelry is not allowed, there is two permissible exceptions 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. Anything that is decorative or possibly dangerous to the player or to others is not permitted.

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).” If you would like to see them, we can send along the two memoranda.

We agree that there would seem to be only one solution to your dilemma, the tennis wristband you suggested yourself, with the words MEDIC ALERT on it. The U. S. Soccer Federation cannot give blanket permission for any item of non-standard equipment. This band would still have to be inspected and approved by the referee on each game in which your son plans to participate. If the referee does not approve the band, because it does not appear to be safe for all participants, then your son will not be able to play. As stated in Law 4, the decision of the referee is final.

Explain the facts of your son’s problems to the league and show them this note. We would hope that the league will show common sense and approve the wrist band being worn. A referee would not make anyone take a wrist band off because it was dangerous so – what difference does it make in this case if it is tape or a wrist band?

Your question:
I am a coach for a girls U11 team and we have another team in our league who has the step-dad refereeing many of their matches. This is not a last minute deal either – he self-assigns himself to the matches. I am just wondering at what level does this become unethical? It is not as if there is a need – we have many wonderful youth referees in our league – however he is the referee coordinator – so he puts himself in those games many weeks out. We play for standings, so does this seem unfair to you? Or am I just being a big wuss?

USSF answer (September 29, 2005):
Your first move should be to contact the league and have the league direct all assignors that they are not to referee their own child’s (or step-child’s) game, and are not to assign any parents to referee their own children’s games, especially once the team is older than U8. If it continues, then other steps should be taken. You should file a complaint against the referee/assignor, as is allowed in U. S. Soccer Federation Policy 531-10, Misconduct at a Match. You can find this policy at , select Services from the left hand menu, then Bylaws and Policies, click on the Policy Manual and it will come up. Then should scroll down to the appropriate policy. The complaint is filed with the state youth soccer association. The league may not realize this is going on, but surely they are paying the assignor and should have some say in the matter.

Your question:
a question on the LOTG ­ this came from an assignor relating to a youth game last weekend: Referee issues a second yellow card to same player in first half, but does not realize it is the same player and allows the player to remain in the game (apparently wrote the first number down incorrectly). Is approached at the half by the team manager of the opposing team who politely inquires why the player was not sent off ? In discussion with the ARs the referee now understands he has made an error, but believes he cannot fix it as the game has been restarted.

I was asked what the correct procedure should be. I could not find this written up in the ATR, Q & A etc., but believe the solution should be to have the player removed when the problem is identified; the team plays short for the remainder of the game; a detailed report sent to the League explaining exactly what occurred.

Would you concur with that ? Or does the match have to be abandoned ?

USSF answer (September 28, 2005):
This question was answered back on June 12, 2002. We repeat the pertinent portions of that answer here.

The referee may correct the error in not sending off the player following the second caution/yellow card, but may not change any events that have occurred since he committed that error. Š The referee will have to bear the responsibility for his or her own error and its subsequent effect on the game.

This emphasizes the need for the closest cooperation among the crew of officials. Such a situation could have been avoided if all officials were aware of who was cautioned. The referee must ensure that his or her method of isolating the guilty player and administering the caution/yellow card allows the rest of the officiating team to know what is going on.

Your question:
In a GU11 club game, a player went down hard and the referee waved the coach on to the field to attend to the player. On the way out onto the field the coach gave tactical instructions to some of his team as he approached the injured player. The referee threatened the coach with a Yellow card. My take was that a) the coach can¹t be shown a card, b) I can¹t find a provision in the laws which prohibits this, c) since any players on the field can come to the touchline for water during a stoppage and they are free to talk to their coach, no advantage could exist for the team with the coach on the field.

Another referee argued that since the coach was on the field, it could be argued that he was not acting ³in a responsible manner² but was at a loss for what to do about it

USSF answer (September 28, 2005):
Unless the rules of the particular competition provide for it, no team official may be shown a card and certainly not cautioned. Under the Laws of the Game, only players and substitutes may be cautioned or sent off and shown the appropriate card by the referee. Coaches are simply expelled for irresponsible behavior.

When a team official is invited to enter the field to assess injury or treat it, that team official is expected to do only that and nothing more. However, unlike games played under high school rules, if a bit of coaching does happen, there is little that can be done about it under most scenarios. A referee should not contemplate charging a team official with irresponsible behavior under these circumstances unless that team official (and only that team official) is giving tactical instructions INSTEAD of taking care of the injury or if the instructions were unduly delaying the restart of play.  And, having made that decision, the referee should certainly talk with the team official first before taking any concrete action to punish the behavior.

Your question:
During a recent U-17 boys match, a confrontation occurred between two players from opposing teams. One player dragged the other to the ground, at which point the player dragged to the ground sat on the other and raised a fist as if he was going to hit the other.

When this occurred, a player on the bench entered the field and inserted himself into the confrontation and began challenging players from the opposite team.

While entering the field without permission is a cautionable offense, the fact that the player entered from the bench area, a considerable distance from the confrontation, then actively inserted himself into the confrontation seems to warrant a send off.

This did not occur because according to the referee his actions did not fall under any of the offenses for a send off; however, in previous refereeing classes it has been discussed that entering the field to take part in a confrontation constitutes violent conduct, whether or not the player guilty of entering actually throws a punch, pushes, etc. Can you provide some clarification and point me to any Memoranda on this subject?

USSF answer (September 27, 2005):
The fact that the person who entered from the bench area “inserted himself into the confrontation and began challenging players” from the opposing team constitutes violent conduct in and of itself. There is no need for further action by this person. Referee decision: Send-off for violent conduct, show red card, restart in accordance with the reason for the stoppage, which we assume to be the foul and serious misconduct by the other two players, both of whom should also be sent off for violent conduct.

You may have been thinking about NF and NCAA rules, which specify entering the field to participate in a fight as a send-off offense (even if no blow was struck). The trick is always to distinguish between the abettor versus the peacemaker (particularly the peacemaker who believes force is the best defense!).

Your question:
1. In a U16G game yesterday, one team had only 11 players. The coach called players off the pitch periodically (sometimes a slight injury was apparent, other times it seemed for instruction, or a personal issue). That team then (obviously) only had 10 players o nthe pitch. The other coach felt that was wrong, and the team with only 11 should keep all 11 on the field unless there was an obvious injury.

One incident, especially, caused the coach ennough distress to yell at the CR that a caution was warranted on a player leaving the pitch ‘without permission’. That incident unfolded like this:
After a play in the corner, the coach calls his defender over to the center line (where he was standing). As they were talking (he off the field, she on the field), the ball rolled towards them. He said ‘come here’, indicating to come off the field, and she did. The ball rolled out where she stood, resulting in throw in for the other team. Rather sporting in my opinion.  At this point the other coach demanded a card for ‘leaving the field without permission’. I personally didn’t understand that, and neither did the CR.

What is the rationale behind that caution – leaving without permission – and when should it be applied?

If we were to apply that same rationale to all ‘cautions’ we’d be carding players for retreating 8 yards on a FK (rather than the 10), and other things that the intelligent referee would rarely consider.

2. While playing short (for one of the reasons mentioned above) when can the player return? The state governing body (CSYSA) has no provision in their modifications to LOTG, and I can’t find a clear definition documented somewhere ‘official’.

I’ve been taught that a player may ‘re-enter’ the game at a stoppage of play if approved by the referee, but does not have to wait for a substituion opportunity for his/her team.

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
Philosophy first, answers later: (a) We need to remember that it is the referee who manages the game, not the coach of either team. (b) There is nothing in the Laws of the Game that requires a team to have the maximum number of players on the field at all times. They must have the minimum number (usually seven) of players on the field, but not the maximum. However, there is that sticky bit about requiring the permission of the referee to enter or leave the field of play. (c) In addition, there is another problem here, in that coaches are expected to behave responsibly, including making brief comments and then retreating from the line and back to their “technical area,” wherever that may be in a youth game. (d) As to cautioning players for retreating only 8 yards instead of the statutory 10, that is a good idea. Why don’t more referees enforce this portion of the Laws? There would be less worry if players did withdraw immediately and not try to game the referee and the other team.

1. While the player did leave the field without the permission of the referee, a cautionable offense, the offense was certainly trifling in this case and was done by both player and coach in the spirit of the game. A warning to both coach and player in the first instance should be enough.

Please note: Players who have left the field “in the normal course of play” and who, therefore, do not need the permission of the referee to leave the field, do not need any permission to return (and may return at any time, including during the course of play).

2. Players who have left the field of play with the permission of the referee may reenter the game at any stoppage with the permission of the referee.

Your question:
I had a ref in our league send me an interesting issue. He was reffing a U12 rec game and issued a yellow card for use of profanity. At half time, he referred to the Laws of the Game. After reading the description of one of the send-off offenses (uses offensive, or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures), he decided that the offense was worthy of a red card. He then went to the team and issued a red card to the player prior to the second half starting.

While my advice to him was that he should have left it as a yellow card and kept it in mind for the next time such a situation arose, I couldn’t find anything that said it was not allowed to “promote” a yellow card to a red card. My feeling is that it’s not allowed. Your thoughts?

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
A referee may not change a decision once the game has been restarted. However, if the referee, in reviewing the information later, decides that the earlier decision was too lenient, that should be included in the match report. The referee should include full details of the incident, in this case specific “offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures” used, in the report.

We can only wonder why a referee would want to caution, rather than send off a player for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures in the first place.

Your question:
This particular play came up at our meeting last night: GK for Team A has the ball at the top of the 18 and punts the ball. However, the ball promptly hits the back of the head of player A on team B who has aleady turned away in order to head upfield. The ball rebounds back toward the GKs net to a teammate of player A (on team B) who receives the ball while in the offisde position (judged at the moment of the rebound) and scores…why should that not be a good goal? Yeah, player B received an advantage off that unintended deflection, but was it really the intent of player A to play the ball there??? Yeah, it touched player A, but so what? Why not try and judge the intent of the play instead and rule it a good goal???

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
There is one very good reason for not judging intent on offside: We do not judge intent on any other infringement of the Laws. The only place we even come close is when judging “attempting” in three of the direct free kick fouls, kicking, striking, and tripping, and in those cases the Law specifically orders us to judge the attempt to be the same as the actual contact.

Instead of intent, we judge results. This works in both fouls and offside and is what the International Football Association Board has made clear that it wants done.

Your question:
I had a quick question. I was reffing a U12 Boysgame where the center referee wasn’t calling too many calls. He was, however, being consistant. At the end of the game the away team’s coach, after yelling the whole game, came and started yelling at the ref. He said the “f” word a few times while me and the other AR where standing next to the coach. The coach wanted to write comments on the game card so we waited. I then asked the referee why he hadn’t carded the coach since he already had warned the coach to stop. The ref said that I should do it if I felt I needed to. I said that I don’t think an AR can.

My question comes to, if some of the comments where directed towards the AR and the center ref wasn’t doing anything, can ARs card coaches, as long as the league allows coaches to be carded?

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
No, assistant referees are not allowed to caution or send off players or to expel coaches. However, they can and are encouraged to submit reports of all serious misconduct to the competition authority (league, cup, tournament, etc.) and to the state soccer association.

There is little wonder that the coach was using foul and abusive language against this referee, who seems to have no courage and little common sense. For the benefit of all the rest of us, please contact your assignor and/or local referee association regarding the apparent failure of the referee to handle dissent/abusive language directed at the team of officials (and for offering you wholly inappropriate advice).

Your question:
Don’t know if there is a U S Soccer position on tattoos for referees. Had a ref at a youth game wearing a short sleeve shirt. Both of his arms were completely tattooed. Would imagine from the viewpoint of a U 10 kid, it looked kind of strange. I thought that he should at least have worn a long sleeve shirt to look professional. Same ref wore a belly pouch to keep passes in.

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
Referees are expected to appear professional at all times. “Belly pouches” are not acceptable wear. There is no restriction on tattoos except personal taste.

Your question:
Here¹s one we can¹t find in our rule books. Does the ball have to be placed and stopped before the goal kick is taken, or can a player drop or roll the ball in the goal area as another player is running up to strike it?

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):

Law 8
* the ball is stationary on the center mark
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward

Law 13
Types of Free Kicks
For both direct and indirect free kicks, the ball must be stationary when the kick is taken and the kicker does not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player.

Law 14
Position of the Ball and the Players
The ball:
* is placed on the penalty mark

Law 16
* the ball is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team
[the inference here being that if the ball was at “any point” it was stationary, but you could probably argue that one either way]

Law 17
* the ball is placed inside the corner arc at the nearest corner flagpost
[the inference here (as in Law 14) is that if the ball is “placed,” it is stationary]
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves

In all cases of a kick restart, the ball must be stationary before being kicked. It is not in play until it has been kicked and moves (forward in the case of kick-off and penalty kick).

Your question:
Must a Center Referee wait to signal “goal kick” (and allow youth teams to substitute and keep the match flowing) or “corner” (and allow the teams to set up) until the AR completes his run, if the AR, for example, is 35 yards away from the end line when the 40 yard shot is taken? It is the Center’s call in any case.

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
It is both tradition and common courtesy for the referee to wait until the substitute has reached his or her position for the restart. The same would certainly apply to waiting for the assistant referee–who is part of the officiating team

Your question:
Team A takes a weak rolling shot on goal against Team B keeper. Team B keeper picks up the ball with 16 seconds on game clock. Keeper punts ball from top of 18 at 12 seconds. Ref calls delay of game and stops the clock with 12 seconds left. Allows team A to set up on top of 18 for 25 seconds before blowing play live and they finally play the ball. Is this a correct time to stop the clock?

(I realize it was only 4 secs before the punt – but he called delay).

USSF answer (September 23, 2005):
We don’t have the authority to answer high school rules questions here.

If this were a game played under the Laws of the Game, the referee would have been totally wrong in two things: stopping play for time wasting by the goalkeeper, who still had at least two seconds to spare, and for adding time (as there is no clock stoppage under the LOTG).

As for stopping the clock, high school rules allow for it (assuming the time wasting itself were valid) ONLY if the goalkeeper were being cautioned for the alleged time wasting. The clock stops for, among other things, the giving of a card regardless of the reason. Without a caution, there was no reason under high school rules to stop the clock–at least not based on what was presented in the scenario.

Your question:
High school soccer—- Kid got a “soft” red card during a game. Team played down 1 player. Game went into overtime. Does the team continue to have to play down 1 during overtime?

USSF answer (September 23, 2005):
We don’t have the authority to answer high school questions here, as no games played under the aegis of the U. S. Soccer Federation play those rules. There no such thing as a “soft” red card in the Laws of the Game. A player is either sent off or not.

If we were able to answer the question, we might say that since there was no requirement under high school rules to “play down” after the soft red, there is no reason why this self-imposed limitation has to last any longer than the team wants. In short, no.

Your question:
What is the correction way to apply the call of Persistent Infringement? Is it two fouls by a player a short time apart or is it a series of fouls over a prolonged period? Does game control figure into the equation? I was doing a U12 game the other day and a player from Team A was very aggressive — on the border between fair play and fouling. He eventually committed an obvious foul and then a minute later committed another. I cautioned him for PI and his coach got all over me for it. I felt this player needed to be controlled before his play escalated into a more serious situation. Advice?

USSF answer (September 23, 2005):
Persistent infringement is a relative thing. A player may commit 3 or 4 fouls during a game and not be found guilty of persistent infringement. However, if that same player commits 2-3 fouls within a brief amount of time, that may well qualify. This would certainly apply to an aggressive player who commits two fouls within a minute’s time.

Players may also be found guilty of persistent if they participate with their teammates in a pattern of fouls against an opponent.

Here is what the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” has to say:
Persistent infringement occurs either when a player repeatedly commits fouls or infringements or participates in a pattern of fouls directed against the same opponent. Persistent infringement also occurs if a player repeatedly fouls multiple opponents. It is not necessary for the multiple fouls to be of the same type or all to be direct free kick fouls, but infringements must be among those covered in Law 12 or involve repeated violations of Law 14. In most cases, the referee should warn the player that the pattern has been observed and, upon a subsequent violation, must then issue the caution. Where the referee sees a pattern of fouls directed against a single opponent, it is proper to warn the team that the pattern has been seen and then to caution the next player who continues the pattern, even if this specific player may not have previously committed a foul against this single opponent. If the pattern is quickly and blatantly established, then the warning should be omitted and the referee should take immediate action. In determining whether there is persistent infringement, all fouls are considered, including those to which advantage has been applied.

Examples of persistent infringement include a player who:

€ Violates Law 14 again, having previously been warned

€ Fails to start or restart play properly or promptly, having previously been warned

€ If playing as a goalkeeper, wastes time, having previously been warned or penalized for this behavior

We would suggest that the system of warning the players that a pattern has been observed be followed. Also, please remember that the concept of a “team caution” does not exist under the Laws of the Game, so you could not caution (yellow card) and then send off (red card) one player for doing the same thing for which you had just cautioned one of his teammates.

The caution for persistent infringement, if rightly understood and used, is a powerful tool.  It says to the cautioned player, don’t foul again because you run the risk (if it happens soon enough) of it being considered a continuation of the same pattern that got you the caution in the first place and, being a second caution, will result in your being sent off.  In the case of the pattern directed against the star opponent, it says to EVERY player on the offending team that they, individually, had better not foul that opponent again because each individual player runs the risk of it being considered a continuation of the same pattern that got their teammate cautioned in the first place and they may well receive a caution for what they think is simply their first foul.

And a final word of advice: Referees should use common sense in applying any of the discretionary cautions. Do not make trouble for yourself by carding unnecessarily and just because you feel the player is acting incorrectly. Your decisions must be based in Law, not some gut feeling.

Your question:
I have a little confusion on the correct restart if a goal is scored by a team that is determined to have too many players on the field, after the goal is scored but before the kick-off is taken. I’m interested in knowing what the correct restarts are, and if there are in fact different restarts, if you can suggest a simple way to remember them. Afterall, this situation does not occur often, but the impact on a game is significant.

After cautioning and removing the extra player, the “correct” restarts I’ve read in various sources, (Q&A, ATR, your website, etc.) range from . . .
1) Retake PK
2) Dropped Ball at top of Goal Area
3) Goal Kick

Option #1 at least appears inconsistent. If goal is scored directly from a PK, AND it’s determined there are too many players on the field prior to kick-off, AND the correct restart would be retake of PK; wouldn’t it follow that the correct restart would be retake of a FK, if a goal resulted directly from that FK?

Option #2 appears consistent IF a dropped ball restart is limited to situations where the goal was actually scored by the “extra” player, (ie extra player = outside agent). However, in most amatuer and youth matches with free substitutions (ie substitutes do not submit a substitute’s card to officials), it would often be difficult to identify the “extra” player. As a practical matter, one of the most recently substituted players essentially “becomes” the perpetrator. A little arbitrary in most real life cases.

Option #3 at least appears the most consistent and most practical to sell. Ball kicked over the goal line by attacking team, and since goal is dissallowed, simply restart with goal kick. (i.e. Same as if “goal” were scored directly from an IFK.)

Any guidance to what the correct restart is and under which situations, would be very helpful.

USSF answer (September 23, 2005):
First things first. Do not get too wrapped up in the Advice to Referees as a source–at least not this year. There were too many changes in interpretations both last year and this year (when last year’s changes were changed back or changed altogether). Once the Advice hits the street it is already obsolete and any changes in the Laws for the current year likely will not be there. The Advice is an excellent source for historical precedent and for continuing matters. When there are wholesale changes made in the Laws or in the Q&A (as in 2004 and 2005), much of what is in the Advice is affected. Always go with what is in the Laws and the Q&A, unless you hear otherwise from a reliable source. The only reliable source in the United States is the U. S. Soccer Federation.

Not sure where you are getting your information, but, as of July 1, 2005, there is only one correct restart for too many players on the field of play if play has been stopped for that reason. If a player or a substitute has entered the field without the referee’s permission and the referee stops play to caution that player, the correct restart is an indirect free kick, to be taken from the place where the ball was when play was stopped, keeping in mind the Special Circumstances under Law 8 for infringements within the goal area. (See Law 12, final bullet point under Indirect Free Kicks, and Law 3, Infringements/Sanctions.)

Your question:
In tonight’s game, a defender passed the ball to his goalkeeper. It was very clear that was his intent on the play. What made the play difficult was he took advantage of an attacker who was returning to an onside position. He defender banked the pass off the back of the attacker’s leg and the goal keeper then picked it up before the attacker could turn and make a play.

I allowed play to go on, over the protests of the opposing coach; my line of thinking was that the touch negated a the call on the pass to the keeper. I consulted the rules after the game and began to question whether the call I made was correct.

The facts of the play as I saw it were:
– The defender meant for the ball to go to the keeper
– the touch by the attacking player was completely unintentional
– the keeper picked up the ball

What should have the call been?
-Play on, no call
-IFK to the attacking team for intentionally handling a pass from a team mate

If the call is that the play was illegal, should the defender have been carded for trickery?

USSF answer (September 23, 2005):
As we have stated in the past, a touch by any other player of the ball deliberately kicked by a teammate to the goalkeeper removes any and all restrictions from the goalkeeper on handling the ball. It makes no difference if the ball was played afterwards either deliberately or inadvertently by any other player–who may be a teammate or an opponent.

While we are here, let’s straighten out a bit of terminology. The ball deliberately kicked to one’s own goalkeeper is not an illegal pass. The kicker has played according to the rules. The only “sinner,” if there has to be one, is the goalkeeper who then touches the ball with the hands.

Your question:
This past weekend in a U13 girls game a team was awarded a penalty kick for a hand bal. The call was correct. The referee set the ball at the spot, did not ask the goal keeper if she was set and blew the whistle. The kick was taken and missed badly. The lines man however called the goalkeeper for not having their heels on the line. The kick was retaken and was good. I have two questions: if a penalty kick is missed is it retaken even if the goalie is not set or moves? Isn¹t the ref supposed to ask the goalie if they are set? Thanks for the input.

USSF answer (September 19, 2005):
: Law 14 (The Penalty Kick) tells us that before the penalty kick is taken, the referee should ensure that all players are in the proper position:
Position of the Ball and the Players
The ball:
– is placed on the penalty mark
The player taking the penalty kick:
– is properly identified
The defending goalkeeper:
– remains on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked
The players other than the kicker are located:
– inside the field of play
– outside the penalty area
– behind the penalty mark
– at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the penalty mark
The Referee
– does not signal for a penalty kick to be taken until the players have taken up position in accordance with the Law
– decides when a penalty kick has been completed
There is absolutely NO REQUIREMENT that the referee _ask_ the goalkeeper if she is ready. She should know that her position for the penalty kick is on the goal line–not in front and not in back. However, in the end, despite the original error in not checking player positions carefully, the referee’s decision was correct. Retake the kick.

Your question:
I have two question for you. 1. A field is using corner flags that are similar to bike flags. These are the corner flags that have the flimsy pole and usually bend instead of stand straight up. These types of flags get in the way of the player taking the corner kick. Is it legal for a player to move the flag out of the way? Is it legal for the player to hold the flag while he takes the kick so that flag is not in his way?

2. A goal kick has been taken by the team that holds a one goal lead. It is played to a teammate that is in the penalty area with the intent that the player will first touch it outside the penalty area. When the kick is taken, the opponent closes the receiver fast enough that if the receiver waits until the ball clears the box the opponent will put the receiver in a very dangerous situation at the top of the penalty area. So, he touches the ball before it leaves the penalty area so that his team can retake the goal kick. Should that player receive a caution for delay of game or unsporting behavior?

USSF answer (September 19, 2005):
1. One of life’s little lessons is that when there is no recourse–as in this situation–we have to make do with what we have. No, the player may not move the flag out of the way. It is possible that it would be legal for the player to hold the flag while he takes the kick, as long as it is not removed from the place where it has been planted. And, depending on the actual nature of the flag posts, if they bend to such a degree that they routinely become lower than the mandatory five-foot height required by Law 1, they constitute a safety hazard for all players who are near them. The referee should not allow anything that is dangerous to the players to be part of the field.

2. If a player touches the ball before it has left the penalty area on a goal kick, the kick must be retaken. There would be no caution for any player, unless this particular ploy was repeated as part of an obvious ploy to waste time.

Your question:
In a recent game, Blue team had the second half kick off. Prior to the kick, I counted the players on the field and Blue had only ten on the field. As all the players on the field were ready and no one appeared to be coming from Blue’s bench, I blew the whistle and allowed play to begin. As Blue maintained possession and neared the penalty area, a Blue player left their bench and took a defender position in Blue’s half of the field. Shortly thereafter, Blue scored a goal.

Blue player should have been cautioned for entering the field of play without the referee’s permission. However, should play have been stopped in order to issue the card? (There was not a stoppage in play until the goal was scored.) Should the goal have been disallowed? Would the answer be different if Blue had 12 on the field and a player left the field without permission? Would the answer be different if the defending team had been shorthanded? Would the answer be different if the entering player was involved in the scoring play? Was I wrong to allow the kick off, knowing that Blue was shorthanded?

USSF answer (September 19, 2005):
Technically, the team was not shorthanded, as their “missing” player had simply neglected to enter the field prior to the beginning of the second half. Nevertheless the player required your permission to enter once the half had begun.

Your first mistake was a failure to be proactive by not asking why there were only ten players present for the kick-off. Referees should prevent or solve problems, not create them. Your second mistake was not acknowledging the player’s presence when you saw that he/she had entered the field, remarking that you would speak to him/her at the next stoppage–meaning that you would be issuing a caution for entering the field without your permission. There is no need to stop play to issue a caution in this situation; simply apply the advantage and deal with the matter at the next stoppage.. Again, we seek to prevent problems before they occur. Because you did not prevent the problem, you are stuck with it.

Nor is there any need to cancel the goal. Simply score the goal and restart with a kick-off. It might be a different story if the Blue player had contributed to the goal, but this was apparently not the case. But since the Blue player did not contribute to the goal, there is no real need to caution that player–why create unnecessary problems!

As to your further questions: (1) If the Blue team had 12 players on the field and 1 left before the goal, you would likely take no action–create no unnecessary problems! At worst, you might caution the player, but you would be unlikely to gain anything from this. (2) If the defending team had been shorthanded, you would likely take no action. What would it gain you? (3) if the entering player had been involved in the goal, the answer would be the same as for the original scenario. (4) This was already answered with an emphatic YES. It is not against the Laws for a team to start the half shorthanded, but the proactive referee will ensure that the team is aware of its mistake before anything else needs to be done.

Your question:
The last line of section 13.6 of the new Advice to Referees reads:
“Stepping on top of the ball or merely tapping the ball with the foot does not constitute kicking.”

I’ve been told that this is a misprint, but other sources claim that it is correct and it is being implemented elsewhere. Could you please advise whether this is correct or a typographical error?

USSF answer (September 15, 2005):
In an answer dated August 31, 2005, we stated:
The information in Advice to Referees 13.6 is correct. The portion you cite was changed in the 2005 edition. It should be implemented throughout the United States.

The ball is in play (able to be played by an attacker other than the kicker or by an opponent) when it has been kicked and moved. The distance to be moved is minimal and the “kick” need only be a touch of the ball with the foot in a kicking motion. Simply tapping the top of the ball with the foot or stepping on the ball are not sufficient. The referee must judge carefully whether any particular kick of the ball and subsequent movement was indeed reasonably taken with the intention of putting the ball into play rather than with the intention merely to position the ball for the restart. Referees should not penalize a kicker unfairly by calling as a restart a touch and movement of the ball which, either at the time or based on the kicker’s immediately subsequent actions, was clearly not intended as such. Likewise, referees should not unfairly punish “failing to respect the required distance” when an opponent was clearly confused by a touch and movement of the ball which was not a restart.

Stepping on top of the ball or merely tapping the ball with the foot does not constitute kicking.

What we are saying is that simply tapping the ball with the bottom of the foot or stepping on top of the ball does not constitute “kicking.” For there to be “kicking,” the player’s foot must move in a kicking motion. If this results in only a slight movement, one that could be considered as making the ball “move,” so be it. That is a kick.

While the kicking team is allowed to practice guile and attempt to fool their opponents, they must still observe the requirements of the Law and “kick” that ball.

To that answer we must add:
What may yet be unclear is what a “kicking motion” is. It would be the same motion as used in any normal free kick, not a dainty foot placed on top of the ball. It doesn’t have to be forceful, but it must look as if the player is kicking the ball, not resting his or her foot on top of it.

Your question:
I have two separate questions.
1. GK and attacker come together as a result of both making a fair effort for the ball. While the GK is down he elbows the attacker who then knees the GK in the back. Both players are sent off as a result of their actions. My question is what is the proper restart procedure. I say a PK since the first foul was commited by the GK in the box, others have disagreed saying the attackers foul cancels out the other foul and an indireck kick is awarded to the GK’s team.

2. If a GK intentionally plays a ball played back to him by a team mate( foot pass). Where is the indireck FK taken from? The spot where the ball was played from or the spot where the GK picks it up? Thanks.

USSF answer (September 15, 2005):
1. After sending off both players for violent conduct (not serious foul play, as they were no longer competing for the ball), the referee should restart with a penalty kick for the attacker’s team.

2. The indirect free kick would be taken from the place where the goalkeeper handles the ball, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8 regarding the goal area.

Your question:
Delay of Game. I was the C on a local adult Mexican game. One of the teams began from the middle of the first half, after taking the lead, resorted to when they kicked the ball out, to blasting it out, far from the field of play. The spare game balls, sometimes were far from the goal as well..no ball holders etc.

I verbally warned the team..added time for half time,spoke to the captain of the team at half time.I told him I was aware of what was happening, and I would caution and or add on time if this continues in a excessive way. As the 2cnd half continued, and they maintained there lead, this began to begin again , and they started to take the time at the goal kicks. Three quarters of the way through, I warned one playe who was blasting the ball, kickin git out repeatedly..after twice doing this, I carded him.Yellow. I added on time at the end of the game.

Question…delays the restart of the game is not appropriate as it was a a live ball when the ball was repeatedly kickedout. Unsportsmanlike conduct Š appropriate Š yes in my opinion as he was warned Š it was excessive, and against the spirit of the game,

So advice on this situation would be appropriate.

What Yellow caution did I give him??? yes I made a error in calling it a delay of restart…I believe it can be under a yellow UC.

USSF answer (September 14, 2005):
Kicking the ball out of play is not an infringement of the Laws of the Game. The only provision under the Laws regarding that sort of time wasting is that the time lost shall be added to the period of play. Unfortunately, adding time for kicking the ball out of play may not be an available alternative in some tournament situations and, at other times, simply results in more time being available to kick the ball hard off the field.

Timewasting tactics at restarts are another matter. These acts can be dealt with through a caution for delaying the restart or for unsporting behavior, whichever is applicable.

Your question:
This happened at a recent game: At the half, Coach A took his team away from the field to “discuss” their play in the first period. He was not happy with his team’s performance and started to berate them. During his tirade, he dropped the F-bomb several times. As an AR, I looked to the CR for direction and he said that the coach was only trying to motivate his team and that he would not intervene. I know that the coach was heard by spectators and the other team — even though he removed himself from the proximity of the field. I thought the coach needed to be approached and asked to control his language. How should this situation have been handled?

USSF answer (September 14, 2005):
The Laws of the Game require that the team officials behave responsibly. If they do not, they may be expelled from the field of play and its environs. Your act as assistant referee was a good one. The referee should approach the coach and ask that all language be kept within normal bounds and not cross the line into words that are offensive or insulting or abusive. If this does not work, then the referee should expel the coach for irresponsible behavior and include full details of the entire incident in the match report.

A further option for you is to indicate to the assignor your wish not to be part of that referee’s officiating team in the future.

Your question:
My state has changed their youth soccer rules to allow subs at any stoppage in play. This change, when coupled with unlimited subsitutions, has produced some issues for referees, especially when a sharp coach is trying to hold onto a lead in the final minutes of a game. For example, one team in the final minutes this past weekend had a sub ready at midfield to enter the game at every stoppage and then his team repeatedly kicked the ball out of bounds, obviously to waste time while the substitution process repeatedly took place. A few questions that have come up in discussions among referees:
1. One referee has stated that he will just ignore the requests for substitution, even if the player is ready to enter, if he feels it is for the purpose of wasting time. I say that he cannot due this since ATR specifically says: “Even if it seems that the purpose is to waste time, the referee cannot deny the request (for substitution)”. Am I correct that the referee can never refuse to allow a sub to enter if that sub is ready to enter before the stoppage and the request is properly made?
2. ATR also state the following: “Referees should prevent unnecessary delays due to the substitution process. One source of delay is a request for a substitution that occurs just as a player starts to put the ball back into play. This often (incorrectly) results in the restart being called back and retaken. One referee says that this means if Team A is trying for a quick restart (either a quick throw-in or a quick direct kick), then the sub should not be allowed in EVEN IF that sub is already waiting to enter at midfield before the stoppage takes place. Based on the item quoted in Question1 I do not believe this is correct. The question: Does a referee have the discretion to refuse to allow a sub to enter, if that sub is already waiting to enter before the stoppage occurs, if the other team is trying for a quick restart?
3. I know ATR states: “Even if it seems that the purpose is to waste time, the referee cannot deny the request, but should exercise the power granted in Law 7 to add time lost through “any other cause.” Does this mean, if the referee believes that the primary purpose of multiple substitutions is to waste time, that he can add the full time used for each substitution? Or can he only add time for the amount of time wasted if the substitution process is slower than ideal? (e.g. the sub delays entering or the player on the field is slow to exit, etc.)
4. In the final 10 minutes of another game, one coach had a sub always waiting at midfield, but, when the referee asked her to enter, he often said she was not ready. He would have the prospective sub wait at midfield until it looked like the other team might gain an advantage from a quick restart and then yell out for a “sub!”. My inclination would be to instruct her to get back to the bench unless she is ready to enter and to warn the coach not to send her to midfield until she is ready to enter. Then future violations might lead to a caution. However, the referee in this particular game allowed the coach to selectively decide when to have the waiting sub enter the game. Your comments?

This rule change has stirred up a lot of discussion and inconsistencies so your answers to the `four questions above would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

USSF answer (September 14, 2005):
Let several things be clear from the beginning: (1) Your state is to be congratulated for making its rules of substitution conform–at least in part–to the Laws of the Game. (2) Team officials and players will always try to manipulate the rules. (3) The referee must be extremely careful in games whose rules of competition allow multiple substitutions and players/substitutes constantly running in and out of the game. Referees would not have any of the problems described in your questions if the requirements of Law 3 were followed. (4) Referees must exercise common sense in managing such situations.

Directly to your questions:
1. The referee can and may not ignore requests for substitutions. As you pointed out, the Advice tells us “that the referee can[not] deny permission for any reason other than to ensure that the substitution conforms to the Law. Even if it seems that the purpose is to waste time, the referee cannot deny the request, but should exercise the power granted in Law 7 to add time lost through ‘any other cause.'”
2. If the substitute has reported correctly to the match official (fourth official or the assistant referee on that side of the field) before the stoppage, the referee, upon recognizing that fact, should allow the player to leave the field and the new player (substitute) to enter the field.  If the immediacy of the restart (which is the right of the team with the restart) naturally draws the referee’s attention away from any pending substitution requests, then the substitution will have to wait. A substitution, if properly requested, is a right not to be lightly denied. There are only two reasons to do it: Either the substitute is not ready or the team with the restart wants to restart immediately.
3. The referee must always add time lost, however, as Law 7 tells us: “The allowance for time lost is at the discretion of the referee.” In other words, the amount of time added is up to the referee.
4. This is an excellent example of how team officials will try to work the system. We need to remember that technically it is the player who requests the substitution, not the coach or any other team official. Your inclination is correct: Send the player back to the bench and instruct both the player and the coach that the player will have to report in again when he is ready for her to enter. When the referee recognizes the subsequent substitution opportunity, then and only then may the player enter. The failure of the substitute to enter the game when the referee has given permission could be regarded as delaying the restart of play, a cautionable offense.

Your question:
I am in my 5th year of refereeing and have been able to get loads of good information from your site. Thanks much for a superb job on clarifying potentially obtuse, or ambiguous situations that are brought up by fellow referees.

My question is this….
Can you confirm for me, if a defender is allowed, or if it’s legal for a defender, to play the ball when the goalkeeper has the ball in either hand, one-handed, with the palm facing up and the ball away from their body? I thought that I had seen a law change that made this legal but cannot seem to locate that text. I would really appreciate any clarification you could provide.

I am under the impression that for the goalkeeper to be considered to have possession, or control, of the ball they must hold it with either two hands or have it close to their body if holding it with one hand.

USSF answer (September 12, 2005):
No, no one is allowed to play the ball once the goalkeeper has established possession and while it is still in the ‘keeper’s hand in preparation for release to general play.

What you saw was from the International F. A. Board’s Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, commonly known as the FIFA Q&A. The 2004 edition allowed players to head the ball from the goalkeeper’s open hand, provided it was not done in a dangerous manner. That was changed in the 2005 edition and is no longer allowed.

Your question:
A standard defense in response to a dfk is to have the defense line up in a line and then, at the last moment, take a step up thereby putting many of their opponents in an offside position.  As such, when this occurs, AR¹s will proceed to signal offside. My question ­ in this situation, should no opponent, realizing that they were placed in an offside position, proceed to go after the ball (simply stand still or attempt to return to an onsides position) is it appropriate for the AR to still call offside?

USSF answer (September 9, 2005):
If a player in an offside position does not become actively involved in play when a teammate plays the ball, then no offside has occurred.

There is, of course, the opposite side of the equation: If the defenders step too far up, they may be encroaching on the kicking team’s free kick.

Your question:
With the changes to Law 14, is it now the case that an IFK is awarded to the defending team for encroachment by the attacking team, even when the ball goes out of play? That is, if the kick is missed wide or deflected by the GK, the restart is an IFK instead of a GK or CK.

This is causing some discussion in our area here. Clarification would be helpful.

USSF answer (September 7, 2005):
The correct restart in this case is indirect free kick for the opposing team.

A chart in the June 13, 2005, USSF position paper on penalty kicks may be of help. We have put it into normal form here for ease of posting:
Consequences of an Infringement of Law 14
We look first to see who infringed the Law. Then we consider what the outcome of the kick was, in other words, whether the ball entered the goal or did not enter the goal.

If an attacker (including the kicker) infringed the Law and the ball entered the goal, the penalty kick is retaken. If the ball did not enter the goal, the referee awards an indirect free kick (from the place where the infringement occurred). Please that this is the ONLY change in Law 14 this year.

If a defender (including the goalkeeper) infringed the Law and the ball entered the goal, the goal is awarded and the restart is a kick-off. If the ball did not enter the goal, the penalty kick is retaken.

If both an attacker and a defender infringed the Law, the penalty kick is retaken.

Your question:
This happened in a college game last week:
Throw in. Team A allowed to substitute. As player from Team A is leaving the field, referee turns and blows whistle for play to continue. Substituted Team A player suddenly falls to the ground with a cramp, some 10 yards from technical area, not making it to bench. Both AR and 4th ref see the situation but assume the player will leave the field soon. Play goes on and a teammate of Team A player kicks ball far downfield in attack mode. Injured player, still on the field on other side of halfline, is clearly in offside position but away from the action. Team B coach screams for offside call. Play continues as injured player crawls to her bench. AR does not raise flag and indicates with a small hand gesture that he recognizes the player is not a part of the action. She makes it to the bench and everything turned out OK. BUT…

The player is still a “player” until she reaches the tech area, right? Or is it a no harm no foul situation?

What if the ball touched the injured substituted player? Outside interference, offside, illegal substitution or what?

USSF answer (September 6, 2005):
We cannot speak with authority on NCAA rules here, so your question will be answered as if this had been a game played under the Laws of the Game. This is a situation that can cause problems, but is easily resolved through following the Laws of the Game and proper refereeing procedure. (As luck would have it, NCAA rules are the same in this case.)

Law 3 tells us that “from [the] moment [the substitute has been waved on by the referee and enters the field], the substitute becomes a player and the player he has replaced ceases to be a player.” Nevertheless, as a matter of good game management, the referee should never restart a game with a player leaving the field but not yet off. In fact, the intelligent referee should never allow any substitute to enter until the player who is leaving has completely left the field. That referee will recognize that this “extra” person, even though no longer a player, could present many problems, particularly in the area of misconduct.

As to the “offside,” it is a non-issue in the scenario you present. The now former player is treated as an outside agent and thus cannot be declared offside. If the ball hits that former player or the former player otherwise interferes with play or with an opponent, the correct restart is a dropped ball from the point of impact.

Your question:
At what point is a player determined to be involved in the play for an off sides call? The scenario both teams are in team B¹s zone except team A goalie and 1 player from team B. The ball is cleared by team B and is going directly to the goalie, it is clear that the goalie will get the ball before the player from team B but it will be close, And this is actually what happened. Because at the time of receipt of the ball by the team A goalie the player from team B would be interfering with the play because of his proximity to the play but not before hand, should off sides be called? Team A goalie cleared the ball back in to team B area and no call was made. Was this correct?

USSF answer (September 1, 2005):
Given the circumstances you describe, IF the player from team B causes the goalkeeper from team A to move toward either him or the ball in order to gain possession, the player from team B has interfered with an opponent and must be declared offside. The restart will be an indirect free kick at the place where the player from team B was when his teammate played the ball. This is true even if the player from team B was just over the halfway line and did not near the goalkeeper of team A until he reached team A’s penalty area.

Referees need to remember that if it is going to be close–or even close to close–the offside must be called to prevent any collision between the two players no matter who gets to the ball first.

Strictly as a matter of information, the term used in soccer is “offside,” not “offsides.”

Your question:
The last line of section 13.6 of the new Advice to Referees reads:
“Stepping on top of the ball or merely tapping the ball with the foot does not consitute kicking.”

I’ve been told that this is a misprint, but other sources claim that it is correct and it is being implemented elsewhere.

Could you please advise whether this is correct or a typographical error?

USSF answer (August 31, 2005):
The information in Advice to Referees 13.6 is correct. The portion you cite was changed in the 2005 edition. It should be implemented throughout the United States.
The ball is in play (able to be played by an attacker other than the kicker or by an opponent) when it has been kicked and moved. The distance to be moved is minimal and the “kick” need only be a touch of the ball with the foot in a kicking motion. Simply tapping the top of the ball with the foot or stepping on the ball are not sufficient. The referee must judge carefully whether any particular kick of the ball and subsequent movement was indeed reasonably taken with the intention of putting the ball into play rather than with the intention merely to position the ball for the restart. Referees should not penalize a kicker unfairly by calling as a restart a touch and movement of the ball which, either at the time or based on the kicker’s immediately subsequent actions, was clearly not intended as such. Likewise, referees should not unfairly punish “failing to respect the required distance” when an opponent was clearly confused by a touch and movement of the ball which was not a restart.

Stepping on top of the ball or merely tapping the ball with the foot does not constitute kicking.

What we are saying is that simply tapping the ball with the bottom of the foot or stepping on top of the ball does not constitute “kicking.” For there to be “kicking,” the player’s foot must move in a kicking motion. If this results in only a slight movement, one that could be considered as making the ball “move,” so be it. That is a kick.

While the kicking team is allowed to practice guile and attempt to fool their opponents, they must still observe the requirements of the Law and “kick” that ball.

Your question:
During a local Men’s league playoff game, I issued a sendoff to a player for the following situation:
The location was about 1 yard outside the corner of the goal area. The defensive player had just fallen to the ground on a sweet move by the offensive player. The offensive player was just about to cut the ball back or perhaps shoot from there. In my opinion, he was 1 or 2 touches from an uncontested shot on goal. He was not facing direct to the goal, and facing somewhat to the end line, more facing the near post and end line junction rather than direct to the goal. This was the only one of the 4D’s that may not have been met. The goalie was in the center of the goal on line because there was another unmarked, onside offensive player at the opposite corner of the goal area. The defensive player while on the ground deliberately punched the ball with his hand past the end line directly away from the offensive player. I called the PK and after discussion with the AR sent off the defensive player.

During the post games discussion and after review of the Advice to Referees LOTG at one of our esteemed local drinking establishments, the following issues arose:
1 The situation did not meet the 4Ds because the “presence of each of the elements must be ‘obvious'”.
2 One official and former player disagreed saying he could score from that position and location ‘all day’
3 It would seem there are other situations where the 4Ds are not met but still warrant a send off, within the spirit of the game. E.G., One could reasonably imagine a deliberate handle of the ball to deny a goal on a direct shot corner kick that does not meet all the ‘obvious’ 4D.

I don’t know if I would make the same judgement due to the ‘all elements must be obvious’ clause.

Your input please to my situation and situation to #3

USSF answer (August 29, 2005):
There is already a send-off offense for deliberate handling, number 4 under the seven send-off offenses: denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area). It does not require any particular alignment of players for either team, but simply the occurrence of the offense.

We are not aware of any offenses that might occur under send-off reason number 5 (“denies an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player¹s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick”) that would not require that all of the 4 Ds be included.

However, in the final analysis, it is all in the opinion of the referee.

Your question:
A player is standing in an offside position (just behind the second to the last defender). The instant the ball is is played forward, the player in the offside position steps to collect the pass and become actively involved in play, BUT can not become actively involved in play because the defender reaches out and holds the player’s jersey and prevents him from collecting the pass, and advancing the ball..

The question.. is this a simultaneous foul situation in which the more serious foul (the holding) would be enforced, OR is the player who is in an offside position and would normally have been penalized the moment he became actively involved attempting to play for the ball the foul that is enforced?

USSF answer (August 29, 2005):
The old maxim remains true: a player may not be rewarded for an infringement of the Laws. Punish the offside with an indirect free kick for the opposing team and caution the defender for blatant holding (unsporting behavior).

And no, this is is NOT an example of a simultaneous foul (if you are thinking of Law 5). That reference in Law 5 is to a situation in which the SAME PLAYER commits two offenses simultaneously (i. e, the same act constitutes two different infractions of the Law — e. g., the player who just did a throw-in rushing onto the field and directly handling the ball (second touch plus handling) or a player who dissents using abusive language (caution plus red card language).

Your question:
At a recent tournament game, I was on the line with an experienced referee and an inexperienced ar on the other line. A shot was taken from about 30 yards out. It hit the crossbar and rebounded downwards. The keeper caught it on the bounce. Everybody froze to see whether the referee was going to signal a goal. He waived off the goal and directed play to continue. The ball was played up to midfield, where a girl on the keeper’s team picked it up because she mistakenly believed that a goal had been scored. The referee called the handball, and set up for the kick. Then he went over to the inexperienced ar, and after a discussion, signaled that the previously disallowed goal would now be counted. The ar had not followed the shot down the line, and was a mile out of position to make the call as to whether the ball had crossed the line. It was clear to me from my location at midfield that the ball had rebounded forward off of the crossbar back into play, and that the entire ball had not crossed the line. The ar had not originally signaled a goal by running up the line. He was apparently subsequently talked into believing that a goal had been scored by the parents. First, after ordering play to continue all the way back to midfield, was it too late to “correct” the previous decision to play on? Second, what, if anything, could I do as the other, unconsulted member of the crew, certain that the original call was correct. Obviously, I cannot run out on the field uninvited to discuss it with the referee, and re-reversing the reversal would bring its own set of problems. Of course, the disputed goal was the margin of victory. Your thoughts?

USSF answer (August 23, 2005):
As play had not been restarted following the stoppage for the deliberate handling, the referee was certainly within his right to allow the goal. However, the evidence as you present it would suggest that at least three grievous errors were made: (1) The other assistant referee did not follow the ball to the goal line as is required in correct procedure. (2) The other assistant referee accepted the word of spectators (biased spectators at that) that a goal he or she cold not verify had been scored. (3) And, worst of all, the referee accepted this hearsay evidence and awarded the goal.

As you were at the other end of the field and clearly even more unable to verify the goal or lack thereof, there is nothing you could do in this situation. Any advice you offered would be worthless–though not as worthless as that offered by the other assistant referee.

Your question:
I as an instructor was administering the State Referee Exam at our annual clinic. The question on the exam talked about a player taking a penalty passing the ball backward to a teammate to then shoot on goal. The correct answer was to retake the penalty kick as the ball was not properly put into play as it is required to be kicked forward. One of the referees in the class said that the FIFA Q&A stated that the ball would be turned over to the defending team and that they would be given a IFK at the penalty mark. That information was then verified by reading it in the FIFA Q&A. Is the FIFA Q&A answer correct? All starts and restarts in the Laws of the game require the ball to be put into play correctly or to be retaken, not given to the other team. This answer in the Q&A would not be consistent with al the other restarts.

USSF answer (August 23, 2005):
The U. S. Soccer Federation is inquiring further into the intent and meaning of certain of the newest Q&As (of which this issue is one). Until USSF issues a memo clarifying the matter, referees are to continue applying the Law based on our current understanding.  The “current understanding” in this case is that the ball is not in play and therefore the correct restart is to have the PK taken properly.  In practical terms for instructors, this means that the given answer in the Key for this question on both the entry and state exams continues to be correct.

Your question:
I have a question on Law 14. Suppose the referee gives the signal for a PK to be taken and, before the ball is in play, the laws are infringed by someone on the kicking team (either the kicker or one of his teammates). The referee allows the kick to proceed, and the ball does not enter the goal directly. Instead, it goes out of bounds for one of the following reasons:
1. it is kicked directly over the goal line (NOT between the goalposts and under the crossbar) OR
2. it deflects off the goalkeeper and goes
a. over the goal line (but not in the goal),
b. over the goal line (and into the goal), or
c. over a touchline.

How does the referee restart play in these four situations?

USSF answer (August 23, 2005):
If the infringement was of Law 14, then the correct action by the referee is to award an indirect free kick to the defending team from the place where the infringement occurred.

However, if the violation was of some other Law, the referee should prevent the penalty kick from occurring (or cancel whatever the result was if momentum caused the kick to occur before the referee could signal), deal with the violation, and then order the PK taken.  For example, suppose the “infringement” fell under Law 12–A14 struck B29–misconduct (because the ball is not in play yet) — so we send off A14 and then order the penalty kick taken.

Your question:
Team “A” scores a goal and the AR signals with her flag. Although the entire sideline is calling to the center referee to check the AR he lets play continue and team “B” takes the ball down field and scores with no stoppage of play. The AR continues to signal that team “A” had already scored and now the coach has gotten the attention of the center referee to speak with the AR. After a brief conversation the center referee admits that he has made a mistake but refuses to allow team “A’s” goal and does allow team “B’s” goal to stand. I understand that if there was a stoppage of play and then play continues without consultation that team “A’s” goal would not be counted. However, with no stoppage of play is that the correct call?

USSF answer (August 22, 2005):
Yes, this was the “correct” call, but certainly not the “right” call. Because the referee did not see the goal or watch for the assistant referee’s flag, and thus did not realize that the ball had gone out of play (into Team B’s goal), the goal for Team B must stand.

As to the referee’s observation skills (or lack thereof), several things are at issue here. What was the other AR doing? The trail AR should immediately have mirrored the lead AR’s flag and thus increased the likelihood of the referee recognizing that an error had been committed. Why did the lead AR not do something a bit more active than merely standing (correctly, certainly, but not EFFECTIVE) with the flag up in the air? Although it would not happen at higher competitive levels, there is nothing wrong with the AR calling out to the referee.

Your question:
I was center referee on very competitive Girls U18 match. Defender fouls attacker A1 near the attackers left touch line.  Foul is called but the ball continues to roll 8-10 yards laterally across field. Player A2 quickly stops the balls motion, restarts play by performing a short, quick pass to A3 who takes a shot on goal. Shot is unsuccessful, restart with Goal Kick.

Before A3’s shot was taken, the sideline for opposing team immediately howled in protest that the ball was not placed where the foul was called and that the ball should be moved back and restarted. I chose to let play continue rather then penalize the attacking team for being fouled and rather encourage them to restart quickly.

My question: In what circumstances would you stop play and bring the ball back to original foul location?

USSF answer (August 16, 2005):
Howls of protest should roll off the referee’s mind like water from a duck’s back–but the referee should think about the reason for the howls and adjust his or her calls accordingly.

You don’t say how close to the opponents’ goal line the attackers were at the moment of the foul and subsequent restart, but distance to the goal line (and particularly the goal) should be a consideration in correct placement of the restart. While it is very rare and usually totally unnecessary that the restart take place on the precise blade of grass on which the incident occurred, the amount of latitude the referee allows the kicking team decreases greatly the closer the incident is to the goal. And, as to this particular situation, if a goal HAD been scored, the referee should have called the ball back for a retake of the kick from the correct location (using the guidance above). In this case, no harm, no foul — the infringement of Law 13 was likely trifling. To call it back after an unsuccessful attack would be to give the team an unfair second chance. Let your conscience be your guide, not the howls of the fans or players, but remember the spirit of fair play.

Your question:
I just attended a level 8 recertification course. The training video clips were of international matches. The instructor said several times, ³If that foul was committed in a youth soccer game, the player would have been given a red card.² Here is my question. Why in the courses to they use international match video clips and not video of youth soccer games?

The reason for the question: How is a youth referee to know how to apply the rules to their games when at training we see (and hear) a different judgement applied to games which most referees will only see on television? Wouldn¹t it be more appropriate to show video from games which are more closely related to the type and style of refereeing that most referees encounter?

USSF answer (August 10, 2005):
Instructors say a lot of things, but the Law is clear: A foul at the lowest level of play is a foul at the highest level of play. (Although the referee at the top level may choose to apply common sense and tactical understanding of the game to any situation.)

As to videos, it is difÞcult to get usable videos of youth play. The Federation has produced a number of instructional videos based on youth play. Check with your State Director of Referee Instruction for their availability.

Your question:
In a tournament last year I was refereeing the Þnal match between a team from california and texas. We Þnished all of regulation including extra time. At this time one player from the california team took her bag and left because she was worried she would miss her flight. Now she Þnished the game so there were 11 on both sides but they did not now have 11 for the penalty kicks. We reduced to equate that game but after reading the position papers from 2002 and 2004, i am not sure if i was to reduce since they were not down players do to injury, misconduct or just having fewer players.

Question: were we correct to reduce or not in this case???

USSF answer (August 9, 2005):
The reduce to equate principle applies only to the number of players actually on the Þeld at the end of the game (including any who may be off temporarily with permission of the referee). The ³reduce to equate² principle does not apply in this case. However, the referee need not take any special note of the player¹s absence unless the kicks from the penalty mark proceed to the point where it is time for the eleventh player (now missing) to take a kick. If the procedure never reaches this point because the outcome is decided as a result of 10 or fewer pairs of kicks, the player¹s absence made no difference and nothing further needs to draw the referee¹s attention. If the teams remain tied through 10 pairs of kicks and it now comes time for the still missing eleventh player to take her turn, the referee must abandon the match with no result and report all details to the competition authority. No eligible player can avoid taking a kick if it becomes necessary.

Your question:
Taught a grade 8 class this weekend, and got a great question about the new ³any part² offside interpretation.

If the attacker is to be considered offside if ³any part² of his head, body or legs is nearerŠ, then does the same apply to the defender? Put differently, is the part of the defender that is nearest the goal line the determining point?

Example: Defender¹s leg is sticking perpendicular from his body, pointing toward his own goal line. If the attacker¹s head is past the torso, but not past the defender¹s foot, does that qualify for offside position?

USSF answer (August 9, 2005):
The arms are not considered for either player when determining offside position.

Your question:
I wasrefereeing a U23 semifinal game. In the second half the defensive player takes a throw in a kneeling position. I called it for illegal throw ( law 15) and awarded the throw to the other team. The defensive player made a comment that I have done this before and other referees allowed it and it is legal. My response to defenseman was²it is an illegal throw ³ and continued with the game. At the end of the game, the assessor told me that I should have prevented the illegal throw by correcting the defensive player when he was in the kneeling position. I believe that at U23 level they should no the correct procedures of throw-in and the team coach should have instructed the correct procedures.

USSF answer (August 9, 2005):
Players will always use the excuse that the referee in the last game allowed them to do whatever it happened to be. It is indeed an infringement of Law 15 to take a throw-in from a kneeling position.

As to the assessor¹s comment, let us say this: While preventive refereeing is a good thing in many cases, this usually applies only to infringements of Law 12. There is an old saying among referees: “The Laws of the Game were not written to compensate for the mistakes of players.”

Your question:
An AR gets spit at by someone on the bench. The AR clearly heard the spit and could clearly see the spit go flying past him/her, but since the AR right had his/her back to the bench, the AR has no idea who actually did the spitting. At the next stoppage, the AR raises the flag to the referee and informs them of the incident. The AR suspects who it is because a player has just been shown a caution which was initiated by the AR. The referee asks the coach who did it, but no name is forthcoming.

What can / should the referee do in this situation under the USSF Laws? Should they red card/eject with the player they suspect? Ask the coach to leave (of course, without showing the card) since he is ³responsible² for his bench? Or do nothing because they cannot specify an individual.

I know that in NFHS (high school) rules, the coach would get ejected, but I don¹t think you can do that in USSF. I am just curious what the referee CAN do in that situation.

USSF answer (August 9, 2005):
If the officials are not able to identify a culprit deÞnitely, then no individual player may be punished. The coach may certainly be expelled for not maintaining order on the bench. In any event, the referee and assistant referee must submit a full and detailed report on the incident to the competition authority.

Your question:
This situation happened during a high level amateur game. Following a shot on goal, the goalkeeper gained possession of the ball in the penalty area. He proceeded to dribble the ball in the air toward the boundary of the penalty area.while dribbling the ball completely crossed over the plane of the penalty area (line). Thru an additional dribble in the air (at this point the ball still hasn’t hit the ground), the goalkeeper brought back the ball inside the penalty area and grabbed it as he was being challenged at this point by an opponent.

* Did the goalkeeper committed an infraction by ultimately handling the ball at the end?
* Is the goalkeeper allow to carry the ball out of the penalty area, bring it back inside the penalty area and handle it (grab it) without the ball ever being touch by an opposing player?
* If there was an infraction :- What’s the infraction ?
– What’s the proper restart?

USSF answer (August 9, 2005):
The goalkeeper is not permitted to retain possession of the ball for more than about six seconds, nor is the goalkeeper permitted to handle the ball outside the penalty area. If either of these infringements occurred, then they must be punished. The correct decision in the case of possession is an indirect free kick for the opponents at the place where the infringement occurred. The correct decision in the case of handling the ball outside the penalty area is a direct free kick for the opposing team at the place where the goalkeeper handled the ball.

Your question:
Player was sent-off for a 2nd caution. Later in the match a PK for the same team was awarded and converted and team goes up 2-1. At the kick-off the referee notices that the team had been playing with 11 players.

What is the proper way to handle this?

USSF answer (August 9, 2005):
Deny the goal. Remove the eleventh player and caution him/her for entering the field without permission. Retake the penalty kick. All of this presupposes that “at the kick-off” means BEFORE the kick-off and not after.

Your question:
In the 2005 Memorandum, in connection with the new IFAB Decision 1 for Law 11, there is the following advice to referees: Although it is not specifically stated, this same concept of “nearer to” should be used in determining if an attacker is in his opponents’ end of the field (i.e., if any part of his head, body, or feet is past the midfield line).

The Law says that a player is not in an offside position if he is in his own half of the field of play. Is the above advice saying that, to be in your “own half of the field,” your head, body, and feet need to be TOTALLY in your own half? That is, is the advice saying that someone could be in an offside position if part of his “head, body, or feet” were “past the midfield line” while some other part of his “head, body, or feet” were in his own half of the field of play?

If that’s the case (and I feel it is, owing to the wording of the advice), then I’m embarrassed to admit that this teaching has eluded me all these years. Nonetheless, I’d like to hear it from you directly.

USSF answer (July 25, 2005):
As you note, this is a change in interpretation by the IFAB. It makes some things easier, some things harder for referees. We would expect the referee to exercise common sense and call the offside in such a case only if it is blatant.

Your question:
What is the referee dress code in respect of officials who wish to officiate while wearing rings in their pierced lips and other such metal ornamentation?

Are there any existing published bye-laws or other communications that state referees are to follow the player dress code (except for permission to wear a wrist watch)?

Even so, I rather expect that youth referees will ask why so many adult referees are allowed to wear gold necklaces while officiating (should we also stop this practice?).   And some may observe that the USSF definitely allows referees (at lower level games) to wear peaked hats – which seems to contravene the player dress code.

Again, any help you may be able to give will really be appreciated.

USSF answer (July 22, 2005):
There should be no need for a written statement regarding referee garb. Referees are expected to look professional for every game they do, regardless of the level of play. Referees should exercise good sense in choosing what to wear–and what not to wear. Law 4 tells us that the players are not permitted to wear jewelry or any other item of equipment or dress that might be dangerous to either themselves or to any other participant.

Law 18 (common sense) tells us that if players are not permitted to wear jewelry, neither should referees or assistant referees or fourth officials wear unnecessary jewelry, including gold chains, lip rings, or any other items that could prove dangerous to either themselves or to other participants. The only exceptions would be wristwatches, a very necessary item of officiating equipment, and plain wedding bands (no stones or other protrusions). As with players, referees may also wear medicalert bracelets that provide necessary information in case of sickness or accident.

As to caps or other hats, other than Harry Potter, no referee is permitted to wear a peaked hat. Federation policy on hats was published in the October 1999 issue of Fair Play and has been reiterated several times in this venue:
Q. May referees wear caps and sunglasses?
A. With regard to caps, the policy of the United States Soccer Federation was stated in the Spring 1994 issue of Fair Play magazine: “Under normal circumstances, it is not acceptable for a game official to wear headgear, and it would never be seen on a high level regional, national or international competition. However, there may be rare circumstances in local competitions where head protection or sun visors might sensibly be tolerated for the good of the game, e.g. early morning or late afternoon games with sun in the officials’ line of sight causing vision difficulties; understaffed situations where an official with sensitive skin might be pressed into service for multiple games under strong sunlight or a referee who wears glasses needing shielding from rain.”
Sunglasses would be subject to the same considerations. In addition, we ask referees to remember that sunglasses have the unfortunate side effect of suggesting that the referee or assistant referee is severely visually impaired and should not be working the game. They also limit communication between the officials and the players by providing a barrier against eye-to-eye contact. Sunglasses, if worn, should be removed prior to any verbal communication with players.

Your question:
I have two questions I believe should be fairly simple to answer. I have been in discussions with other referees at a recent tournament and have found differing opinions on both of these items.

First. in regards to Law 12, “An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper,inside his own penalty area…..
€ touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate”

Does the deliberately refer to the kick itself, simply meaning if the player means kick the ball regardless of the direction they intended the ball to go. An example of this would be where a player intends to kick the ball up field away from the goal but “mis-kicks” and the ball goes off the side of their foot into the penalty area and the keeper picks it up the ball off the mis-kick.

Or does the deliberately part mean the kick had to be deliberately made to a place where the keeper can pick up the ball, which would exclude the above scenario of a mis kicked ball.

The wording of the law seems to indicate that the kick only need to be deliberate and not the direction, but that contradicts what I was taught during my certification / re-certification classes. Your guidance here would be much appreciated.

Second question, in regards to Law 12 IFAB Decision 6
“A player who removes his jersey when celebrating a goal must be cautioned for unsporting behavior.”

Does this also apply to a player removing their jersey after the whistle had blown indicating the the end of the half (first or second) before exiting the field of play? I can not find that instance mentioned in the FIFA laws or the FIFA Guidelines. In fact I only see where is expressly state removing the jersey in celebration after a goal. I don’t believe it applies to this situation. This past weekend at a local tournament, I had another referee who was watching the game chastise me afterwards (which I believe was very unprofessional of them, even if I was wrong, which I don’t think I was) for not issuing a yellow card to a player who did remove his jersey on the field of play but only after the final whistle had blown ending the game. I talked with some other referees later and again found differing opinions on this subject.

USSF answer (July 21, 2005):
1. The rule against the goalkeeper picking up or touching a ball deliberately kicked to him or her comes into effect when certain technical requirements are met: the ball must have been kicked (i. e., played with the foot); the kick must have been deliberate, rather than a miskick, an attempt to clear, an accidental deflection or a misdirection; the ball must have been directed (i. e., clearly played deliberately) to a place where the goalkeeper could pick it up; and the goalkeeper must play the ball with the hands before an infringement has occurred.

Referees should punish such handling only when, in the opinion of the referee, the play by the teammate was deliberate. If the teammate deliberately kicked the ball to a place where the goalkeeper could play it, then the goalkeeper will infringe the Law by playing it with the hands. However, the ‘keeper may play the ball in any way that does not involve handling (e.g., show could kick it, head it, etc.).

If the teammate has played the ball with the foot, trapping the ball and leaving it for the goalkeeper to pick up, that is the same as kicking the ball deliberately to the goalkeeper.

The rule against the ‘keeper picking up the deliberately kicked ball is intended to prevent time wasting and thus, fairly obviously, to increase the time the ball is available for either team to use in an attack on the opponents’ goal.

The call is always in the opinion and at the discretion of the referee, who is the only person capable of making the judgment as to the deliberateness of the kick. If there is any doubt in the referee’s mind as to the deliberateness of the pass, then common sense should prevail and the supposed infringement should not be called.

2. The intent of the rule against removing the jersey after the scoring of a goal is to rid the game of actions that are aimed at taunting the other team. It would seem to have nothing to do with the act of a player removing the jersey after the game is over. Let your colleague worry about refereeing his or her game, rather than trying to tell you how to referee your game. As to any misconduct, that is a separate issue from removing the jersey in celebration of a goal.

Your question:
It is quite the vogue nowadays for teenage girls to wear long fingernails (natural and fake). Our local referee association makes it a point every year to remind its referees to make the youth players remove such items as jewelry, all bracelets, metal hair pins, etc. because they may cause injury to the players. However, when the subject of long fingernails comes up in the discussion, there seems to be no agreement that they are dangerous.

Recently I witnessed a GU-16 match in which a player sustained a painful injury caused by an opponent’s fingernail. The victim sustained a wound around her neck, from just below her ear to the center of her collarbone, that measured about 0.5 in. X 6 in.

Should referees be inspecting the players’ fingernails and prevent players from wearing long fingernails? Some youth leagues ban long fingernails, or require them to wear gloves or tape. Is this an acceptable technique to prevent injury?

As a referee I would be hesitant to enforce such actions unless other referees are also on board with it and the enforcement is uniformly administered.

How does USSF feel about this issue?

USSF answer (July 19, 2005):
There are a number of position papers and memoranda on player equipment and safety. You will find them on the ussoccer.com website. They include the position paper of September 3, 2003, “Players Wearing Non-Compulsory Equipment”; the position paper of March 17, 2003 on “Players’ Equipment (Jewelry)”; and the position paper of March 7, 2003 on “Player’s Equipment.”

However, in this case a referee need simply remember the concrete guidance given in Law 4:  “A player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player.” Fingernails are classified as something that is worn. If, in the opinion of the referee, fingernails or any other thing the player wears are dangerous, then they may not be worn. Taping fingernails or earrings is not an acceptable alternative. Long fingernails must be removed (made an acceptable length) or the player does not play.

NOTE: This does not require anyone to be “on board,” it simply means that referees should enforce the Law.

Your question:
I hope you may be able to help me out. Let’s assume that a player receives a red card for a serious infraction. IN our region, the referees, using a matrix, provides a recommendation regarding the number of games that the player is suspended. The Commissioner will then make a determination on the suspension based upon the referees recommendation and other items. Let’s also assume that the Commissioner agrees with the referee’s recommendation of a 2-game suspension.

Is there anywhere in the USSF rules that state that the 2-game suspension needs to be two CONSECUTIVE games. I know that this may sound a little ridiculous, but this situation has recently happened to me and I am just trying to understand why we would let a player decide “when to serve his/her suspensions.”

USSF answer (July 18, 2005):
All games for which a player is suspended are served consecutively before the player may play again. That is soccer tradition and in full accordance with a directive from FIFA.

However, we are more concerned about the way suspensions are determined in your area. The competition authority has the responsibility of deciding how many games a player must be suspended. To preserve their neutrality and objectivity, referees should and must have no part in the suspension process.

Your question:
If a defender slides at high speed with cleats up towards an attacker dribbling the ball and manages to make contact with only the ball but the momentum of the ball with the defender behind it takes the attacker down in a manner that could cause serious injury, is it consistent with the LOTG to consider the defender guilty of reckless or serious foul play, even if there is no player-to-player contact? Would a caution for dangerous play or unsporting behavior be more appropriate for this situation?

This discussion came up at our referee meeting this evening when we were discussing the new directive that reckless and serious foul play should be determined regardless of the direction of a slide tackle, but the consensus seemed to be that there had to be contact between the players to call it a foul.

USSF answer (July 15, 2005):
You are confusing “reckless” and “with excessive force.” Here is the information you need, straight from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

“Careless” indicates that the player has not exercised due caution in making a play.
“Reckless” means that the player has made unnatural movements designed to intimidate an opponent or to gain an unfair advantage.
“Involving excessive force” means that the player has far exceeded the use of force necessary to make a fair play for the ball and has placed the opponent in considerable danger of bodily harm.
If the foul was careless, simply a miscalculation of strength or a stretch of judgment by the player who committed it, then it is a normal foul, requiring only a direct free kick (and possibly a stern talking-to). If the foul was reckless, clearly outside the norm for fair play, then the referee must award the direct free kick and also caution the player for unsporting behavior, showing the yellow card. If the foul involved the use of excessive force, totally beyond the bounds of normal play, then the referee must send off the player for serious foul play or violent conduct, show the red card, and award the direct free kick to the opposing team.

As to the tackle itself, if, in the opinion of the referee, the tackle endangers the safety of the opponent, it makes no difference if there is contact or not. Referees (and spectators) should not get hung up on slide tackling.  There is nothing in the directive about endangering the safety of the opponent which limits this to a slide tackle.

THROW-IN 2005-2006
Your question:
1) A defender must now be 2 yards/meters from an attacker taking a throw in. What if the attacker advances down the line (the law allows a yard, and in fact they often take more) in such a a manner that the attacker’s distance from the defender is less than two yards prior to throwing the ball. Must the defender continue to back up from his original legal spot to maintain the 2 yard distance, or is the thrower having moved “at his own risk.”

2) A defender is 2 yards form a thrower.  Literally at the taking of the (but not after) the throw, the defender encroaches and this action affects the throw/or thrower. I realize the encroachment is dealt with via a caution. What is the restart?

USSF answer (July 6, 2005):
1) The opponent must obey the requirements of Law 15.
2) If this occurs during the throw, the throw-in is retaken after the caution for unsporting behavior.

Your question:
I have a question regarding the Code of Ethics. In particular, the question is regarding a referee who also plays for an organized club team.

When a referee plays for a club team, is that person still bound by their status as a referee to adhere to the code of ethics? If so and the individual violates one or more of the components of the Code of Ethics, what recourse should be taken toward that individual?

USSF answer (July 5, 2005):
A referee is bound by the Code of Ethics in all soccer-related activities.

If you have a complaint regarding a referee, you may follow the procedure outlined in Policy 531-10, Misconduct at a Match. You can find this policy at , select Services from the left hand menu, then Bylaws and Policies, click on the Policy Manual and it will come up. Then you should scroll down to the appropriate policy. The complaint is filed with your state soccer association or youth soccer association, whichever is appropriate to your state.

Your question:
I am helping our local amateur league with a situation and I was hoping I could lend your expertise whether this situation was handled correctly or not. I have tried to reseach this, but could not come up with anything in writing or of any precident that I know of.

A game was played between a team in white and a team in yellow. Proper procedure for players is to present a player pass to the referee crew and must be noted down by name and number before entry into the game (usually done during pregame inspection) White #7 was cautioned for dissent in the 40th minute.

Just after the whistle to start the second half, the referee notices that white #7 is on the field, but is a different player. The referee notices by remembering the face of the original #7. After some searching, it is noticed in the 50th minute that the original #7 is now a substitute (reentry is allowed in this game), and is now wearing #8. None of the referee crew was notified of the change. The referee allowed play to continue and would have dealt with the situation accordingly by if the new white #7 committed a cautionable offense, that he would not be shown a red card for 2 yellows, and if the new #8 committed a cautionable offense, he would have been shown a red card for 2 yellow cards. In both situations, both teams would have then been informed of the jersey switch at the appropriate time.

Fortunately, neither of these things occurred. But the referee did note the number change without notifying the referee in the game report to the league. As of the game, there is no separate league rule regarding players changing numbers during a game but the league is imposing a game suspension to any offending player if it ever occurs again in any league game. I had also explained to league administrators that for many, many years, players were asked for their names by the referee when booked or sent off, not just numbers being recorded, so numbers were not always relied upon for player identification. Do you think the referee did the right actions?

Should have the referee informed both teams at the next immediate stoppage after noticing the change?

Some people suggested that both players should have been cautioned for unsporting behavior once the referee noticed the change because they are trying to decieve the referee. Would this have been correct? I could only find for players changing with the goalkeeper without the referees permission (mandatory), but not with other field players. Also, in this case, many problems would occur as would white play with 10 or 11 players and do you restart the 2nd half over again or continue from that point on?

USSF answer (July 4, 2005):
Whether it is in the rules of the competition or not, tradition dictates that players wear the same number throughout the match unless forced to change by circumstance (e. g., blood on the jersey or a torn jersey). Any other change of numbers would be regarded as an attempt to deceive the referee and would be treated as unsporting behavior. The referee should caution and show the yellow card to both players for unsporting behavior. The original White #7 would then be expelled and shown the red card for receiving a second caution in the same match. Because the original White #7 was not a player at the time of the second caution, White would continue to play with eleven players. The referee should report full details in the match report.

Your question:
It has always been my understanding that a player taking a penalty kick cannot stop and restart his approach to the ball. I’ve seen MLS games recently and a penalty has been scored and counted twice after the kicker came to a complete stop before finishing his run up to the ball and then scoring. Not only was it counted, but the question about the approach wasn’t even brought up in the analysis of the kick. I researched the FIFA Laws of the Game from the link provided on FIFA’s website and couldn’t find anything that detailed the rules that govern a players run toward the ball on a penalty kick. Has that rule been changed recently or is it one of those rules that is written in the book but just not enforced very rigorously much like the goalie moving off the goal line on a penalty?

USSF answer (July 4, 2005):
FIFA clarified in 2002 that the kicker may seek to misdirect (or feint) at the taking of a penalty kick. USSF, in a memo of October 14, 2004 on this subject, identified four specific actions by the kicker that could constitute misconduct:
– he delays unnecessarily after being signaled by the referee to proceed,
– he runs past the ball and then backs up to take the kick,
– he excessively changes direction during the run to the ball, or
– he makes any motion of the hand or arm which is clearly intended to misdirect the attention of the goalkeeper.

In such cases, the referee should suspend the procedure, caution the player involved, and then signal once again for the kick to be taken. If the kick has already been taken, the referee should order it retaken only if the ball enters the goal. The player must still be cautioned for his misconduct regardless of the outcome. If the kick is not to be retaken (see above), the game is restarted with an indirect free kick for the defending team where Law 14 was violated.

As to the goalkeeper leaving the line early, all referees are expected to order a retake of a penalty kick or a kick from the penalty mark if the ‘keeper’s movement off the line has interfered with the kicker’s ability to score the goal.

NOTE: This answer corrects an answer sent out on March 30, 2005.

Your question:
This weekend we had some Š teenage boys matches in our area, with the heat index up to 102 degrees Farenheit, no wind, and high humidity. At the mutual agreement of the coaches and players, we elected to hold up play about half-way through each half in order to let the boys (and officials) take a short break for water. We felt that in the interest of safety, it was the right thing to do since the rules of the league require limited substitutions.

We are now being chastised for this by the league officials ­ note the comments below by the league commissioner.

Correct me if I¹m wrong, but going ³by the book² also means the referee can use his (her) discretion to allow such breaks when they make sense ­ Law 18.

Here¹s the note from the commissioner: ³[Name deleted], I have to also state though I am not happy with hearing about these breaks. I understand how hot it was, but I just sent out something last week to all clubs and assignors about the use of substitutions, and now I have you taking it under your own jurisdiction to allow breaks.

We need these games played by the book. Please reply to confirm.²

Your quick response to my question would be greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (July 1, 2005):
The referee has no direct authority to vary the rules of the competition or to stop the game for unspecified reasons. However, the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players. Preventing injury from heat exhaustion would fall into that aspect of the referee’s duties. The following answer may be summed up in two words: common sense.

In such situations, both the referee and the team officials share in the responsibility to protect player safety. The referee could, at a stoppage called for any reason, “suggest” the taking of water by any players interested in doing so. The timing of such a break and its length would be at the discretion of the referee. Obviously, the referee could decide to take this approach on his own initiative, with or without prior consultation with the coaches. However, either or both coaches could approach the referee prior to the match and suggest the need for extra hydration, in which case the intelligent referee would be well advised to listen and act accordingly. Of course, the Law also permits players to take water during the match so long as they do not leave the field, water containers are not thrown to them while on the field, and the water itself is not placed along the outside of the field so as to interfere with the responsibilities of the assistant referee. (See the guidance on water and hydration provided in the USSF memorandum of April 26, 2002, available on the USSF website.)

As to the officials, the referee and assistant referee should exercise common sense and hydrate well before all games during hot weather. They should also find a sheltered place to leave a bottle of water near the field, so that they can get a drink during a natural break in play.

Your question:
1 Player A1 is in the offsides pos. between the next to the last def.and the goalie. The next to the last def.goes to clear the ball it hits a player on her team and bounces back to the offside player.is this offsides.
2 Same things except it hits a player on the a team than bounces back.
3 Player in offsides pos. Intercepts ball passed back to goalie from next to last def.

USSF answer (June 30, 2005):
1. If the Team B defender had established possession of the ball when she tried to clear it, then there is no offside on this play. If there was clearly no possession, then player A1 is offside.

2. Offside in any case.

3. No offside.

Your question:
I hear that there was a new Offside rule announced in the Concacaf Cup, which states, a player is offside only if he touches the ball. Is this rule going to be enforced for youth and FIFA soccer?

USSF answer (June 30, 2005):
No new rule was announced at the CONCACAF Cup. The interpretation of when offside should be called has been altered by the International F. A. Baord, the people who write and change the Laws of the Game published by FIFA; this goes into effect for all competitions that begin on or after 1 July 2005. Do not implement this change until you have received written confirmation from your State Director of Instruction or from the U. S. Soccer Federation. Look for a position paper in the near future.

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