2006 Part 1

Your question:
It is my understanding the the center referee must be two years older than the team playing? Correct?

Does this also hold true to the asst. referee (lines)? Or as long as they are Grade 8 it doesn’t matter?

USSF answer (March 20, 2006):
While it is normal for young referees to be assigned to work games with players who are at least one or two years younger than they are, there is no hard and fast rule for all states; each is different. Ask your state referee administrator for the rules in your state on this matter.

Your question:
A local rec league made a change in the league schedule without informing the USSF Assignor and therefore, incorrect information was provided to the referees. When the referees arrived at the field expecting a U12B match, they discovered a U12B team scheduled to play a U10B team. The U10B team included some players as young as eight years old “playing up” in age. Some anxious parents approached the referees with their concern for their 8-9 year olds playing against the much bigger kids. The referees, including two adults, honestly believed that allowing for the disparity in size, skill, and experience that it would be unsafe to permit this match to occur. They refused to officiate.

Normally refusing to officiate a match due to safety concerns seems to refer to field conditions that cannot be corrected or severe weather. It doesn’t seem that a referee can look at two teams and decide that by itself, it would be unsafe to play. But normally one doesn’t schedule 8 year olds against 12 year olds either. Question: I’m not asking if the referees were right to refuse to play the match but simply were they within their rights.

USSF answer (March 20, 2006):
Although the referee’s primary concern is the safety of the players, that has no bearing on the present question.

The match-up is the concern of the league, not the referees. However this match of mismatched teams came to be, the referee’s main concern has to be what actually happens in a match, not what might happen. If referees starts making such decisions on what might be, he or she would find him- or herself at the top of the proverbial slippery slope. Where would it end?

Unless the team officials suggest that the match-up itself is contrary to the league’s rules, the officials have no choice but to officiate and, if individual players commit dangerous acts vis-a-vis individual opponents, they have the Law itself available to handle it.

Your question:
Can you give a defender a caution with the penelty box without giving a penelty kick?

USSF answer (March 20, 2006):
If the referee stops play for a case of misconduct, such as dissent or unsporting behavior, that does not involve a foul, the game is restarted with an indirect free kick. The referee could also send a player off for violent conduct (brutal threats, etc.) and restart with an indirect free kick if that serious misconduct was why the game had been stopped.

Your question:
Assume a referee properly calls a technical foul against the keeper for using his hands after a pass back to him from the foot of a teammate and awards an IFK. An attacker quickly spots the ball JUST OUTSIDE OF THE PENALTY AREA and takes a quick kick to a teammate who scores. In the opinion of the USSF, is this a valid goal? Must this IFK be spotted within the penalty area or is the placement outside the penalty area a trifling inconsequence to be ignored by the referee?

USSF answer (March 16, 2006):
A specific answer is difficult in this case, as you have not given us enough information. Therefore, our answer must be general in nature.

According to Law 12, a direct or indirect free kick is taken from the place where the offense occurred (keeping in mind the special circumstances for kicks involving the goal area). While the referee should not be overly fussy about having the offended team restart from the specific and particular blade of grass on which an offense occurred, neither should the referee allow the kicking team to put the ball into play from any point that suits them best. The closer to goal the offense occurred, the less latitude the referee will give the kicking team for placement.

In this case, because the offense occurred inside the penalty area, the kick must be taken from within the penalty area, not “just outside.”

Your question:
Laws of the Game, Advice to Referees, USYS Memorandums (cannot find specific one), The Referee Magazine articles, and USSF Entry Level course material; all emphasize “the goalposts must be anchored.” Some further state/suggest “the game will not be played on that field for safety.” I’ve always been taught, instructed others, and believed those guidelines……until recently!

I’ve refereed in 37 states and to my surprise not all states abide by this direction. While in one state, I asked an assignor state policy. Additionally, I asked a state referee committee member (another state) for an interpretation.  The answers were startling.

One person consulted someone on the national (USYS) level and was supposedly told, “it’s up to each SRA.” The other person referred me to IFA Board decisions in Law 5. It was suggested by another person that I Ask A Referee. So….. 1) What is the official USYS position on goalposts being anchored? 2) What is the referee to do if they aren’t? 3) What is the referee’s liability if he/she referees without anchored goalposts?

USSF answer (March 15, 2006):
This is a matter of player safety. There is no reason to look at Law 5. In describing the field and its appurtenances, Law 1 tells us, under “Goals”: “Goals must be anchored securely to the ground. Portable goals may only be used if they satisfy this requirement.”

Your question:
(1) A fellow referee informed me that he observed the following at a soccer game this weekend:
– A defender takes the Goal Kicks, the goalie goes outside the area, receives the kick, then dribbles into the area, picks it up, and punts it back into play.

My friend thinks it is a passback violation. I think it is using trickery to circumvent the rules, what is your take?

(2) At a game us old timers were participating in, a forward plays a through ball to another forward, our goalie comes almost to the edge of the Penalty Box to intercept the pass. As our goalie collects, the forward in trying to get the ball, collides with our goalie, who fell, still clutching the ball. The ref did not whistle a foul, as he says it was a 50/50 ball. Do you think it was the correct call?

USSF answer (March 15, 2006):
1. This could be regarded as an infringement of the Laws: A player deliberately kicks the ball and it is handled directly (no intervening play) by the player’s goalkeeper. Whether it should be called is an entirely different matter and would depend on such things as the competitive level of the teams, whether the goalkeeper handled the ball to unfairly remove the possibility of an opponent’s challenge, etc. If there were no opponents nearby, the referee would likely simply classify it as a trifling infringement and warn the players about their actions. If the goalkeeper was clearly handling to foil an active, immediate challenge, the referee should be inclined to blow the whistle. Restart with an indirect free kick at the place where the goalkeeper touched the ball with the hands.

2. No. If the conditions were precisely as you describe them, the correct call should be (carelessly) charging an opponent. The goalkeeper’s team should be given a direct free kick from the spot where the infringement took place. If there was more to the challenge than you described, the referee could consider either a caution for unsporting behavior for a reckless challenge or a dismissal for violent conduct if excessive force was used.

Your question:
I recently saw an EPL game on TV and was surprised to see the referee stop play and penalize the attacking forward for diving by awarding a free kick to the defending team. Was this the correct way to penalize the offence as no foul was committed or maybe I am incorrectly analyzing the situation.

USSF answer (March 14, 2006):
It is perfectly acceptable (and within the letter and intent of the Law) for the referee to stop play for misconduct. Diving, also known as “simulating action,” which is intended to deceive the referee, is unsporting behavior.

Your question:
I have two questions regarding USSF policy and the assignment of USSF Grade 9 referees.

At our recent assignor recertification meeting a rather healthy debate took place with regard to the use of Grade 9 referees in matches that are considered “recreational” at the U12 and U14 level. The sticking point in the definition of recreational in this context is that these “recreational” teams travel, compete for a league championship, and compete for a berth in end-of-season league tournaments.

The term recreational in this context refers to division 3 and 4 teams within our state’s leagues. Division 1 and 2 teams are registered as “competitive” while division 3 and 4 are registered as “recreational”. All teams, however, travel and compete as I mention above. Teams that play within their towns are also considered to be recreational.

My question is this:
What is the USSF’s official position on the assignment of Grade 9 referees in this context?

I realize that our state’s definition of competitive and recreational probably are not relevant to all of you at the national level, but the distinction is causing a considerable amount of confusion among assignors here.

I am unable to find a definitive statement anywhere that lays out the type of games that Grade 9 referees are allowed to do. There are some assignors putting Grade 9 referees into the middle of U12 and U14 matches that I would consider to be competitive (teams travel, compete for season ending rewards). My own policy on the matter (which is an interpretation of the USSF Admin handbook) is that Grade 9’s may only work as referees in small sided games (regardless of their competitive designation…I believe they are regarded as non-competitive anyway) and NON-travel games at the U12 and U14 level.

Second question:
Are U12 8v8 games considered to be small sided for the purpose of assignment?

U12 matches in our state are about to go to an 8v8 model. I have significant concerns about Grade 9 referees officiating U12 8v8 matches because of the relative experience for most referees at the Grade 9 level and the lack of emphasis regarding offside in most games that Grade 9 referees do. Is there any guidance from the USSF forthcoming on this matter?

Any information you can provide will be most helpful and my apologies for the length of this message.

USSF answer (March 8, 2006):
1. Grade 9 is characterized in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) as:
Recreational Youth Referee (grade 9). The RAH states farther:
9 – United States Soccer Federation Recreational Referee
A. Minimum Age:None
B. Badge: USSF Recreational Referee, with current year
C. Authorized Assignment Level: Referee on recreational youth games under-14 and younger only and assistant referee on any game U-14 or below.

As we have responded several times in this forum: “Grade 9 officials may do centers or lines on U-14 RECREATIONAL games. They may also act as assistant referees on U-14 COMPETITIVE games, but may not be the referee on U-14 competitive games.” That does not include travel (even “developmental travel”) or select team games.

Another factor for determining whether a team is competitive or recreational is whether or not there are try-outs for a team. Try-outs means that a team is definitely competitive. Travel has proven to be a bit difficult as a determining factor, especially in rural locations where many teams travel town to town and league to league just to find regular competition, but they are definitely recreational teams.

If you believe that assignors in your state are abusing the Grade 9 referees by assigning them beyond their training and skills, it is your duty to ask the state referee committee and the state youth association to take firm action to ensure that these referees are assigned only at the level for which they have been trained.

2. Yes, U12 8 v 8 games would be considered to be small-sided games. However, the training and grade level of Grade 9 referees is likely not suitable for calling such games.

Your question:
One of the fields we play on has painted boundary lines that do not comply with Law 1. For instance the goal area dimensions are smaller than 6×20 and the penalty area dimensions are smaller than 18×44. As a result the penalty mark is closer to the goal line than 12 yards. What would be the proper way to conduct a penalty kick: accept the markings on the field or take the kick from 12 yards away? It should be noted that these fields are not intended to be a reduced size. Law 14 seems to indicate the existing penalty mark should be used but that presents quite the disadvantage for the defending team as the mark is only 9 yards away.

USSF answer (March 7, 2006):
First a bit of philosophy: There is a big difference between a penalty mark located inside the goal area and one located halfway between the top of the goal area line and the penalty area line yet still only 11 (or, as in this case, even 9) yards rather than 12 yards from the goal line. We referees tend let a lot go by on field markings when the game is a simple recreational match involving kids.

If the field is not marked properly, the referee should try to have proper markings put down by the home team before starting the game, time permitting. If this is impossible, the referee must decide whether playing the game on this improperly marked field would be merely wrong, inconvenient, or simply irritating, or whether it would make a mockery of the game. If it is the last, then the referee should ask the home team to find a better marked field quickly. If that is impossible, the referee should abandon the game and submit full details to the competition authority.

As to a penalty kick from nine yards–no. The referee should mark off the proper 12 yards and indicate that this is where the kicker will place the ball. The remainder of the players, other than the defending goalkeeper, must remain a proper distance away from the kick.

Your question:
I was recently an assistant referee in an U19 boys game. Both teams were very skilled and fast but lacked common sense. A lot of fouls were committed and the center ref ended up giving 10 yellow cards. Of those yellow cards two players were sent off for accumulaton of cards. 8 players were given a card for some type of misconduct. The game was very rough and it seemed that a lot more cards could have been issued, but the center ref was just tired. It was also apparent that the two send offs and yellow cards were not effective to keep control of the game. How can this type of game be handled effectively?

I had a game like this with U15 boys and before the beginning of the 2nd half I handed my yellow card to the assistant referee, I made it public of course, and told everybody that the only card left was a red card and if I had to sanction a foul, it would had been an automatic send off. It seemed to work for I enjoyed the rest of the game. Was that a right move? I know it worked but I think I was a little extreme.

USSF answer (March 6, 2006):
The tactic of making a show of using only the red card will work once, maybe twice, but it is not a long-term solution. The solution is simply to be on top of the game from the git-go. Presence near play, talking to the players constantly about what they are doing, slowing (cooling) the game down when player temperatures and referee anxiety start to rise, and, yes, handing out cards when absolutely necessary.

There is no one-size-fits-all formula. It has to be worked out by each referee for each game, depending on how the players come into the match.

A comment on publicly announcing that you have only one card, the red one: The problem with not having a yellow card is that you have thus lost a significant option. In other words, you have done this for whatever reason and now a player commits what is clearly and simply a cautionable offense. You now either have to look foolish by running back to your bag (or the AR, or wherever you stashed it) and retrieving the card or you have the unpalatable decision either to ignore clearly cautionable conduct or sending players off for clearly cautionable misconduct. It may seem like great theatrics but it is a really bad idea.

Your question:
Here is a hypothetical situation I am involved in a discussion on. A player jumps up and grabs hold of the top bar of the goal and is hanging there. An attacker takes a shot that hits this player hanging from the goal and deflects away from the goal.

The question is what action should the referee take. We all agree that this is USB for hanging on the goal. Where our differences lie is does this meet the criteria of DOGSO? and therefore should result in a send off instead of just a yellow card.

Some say no becuase there was no foul others no becuase the criteria for DOGSO is not met becuase the IFK resulting from the USB is not the punishment just a way of restarting play after stopping to issue a YC.

IMHO (and I seem to be in the vast minority) the criteria of DOGSO have been met in that the law states – ” 5. denies an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the players’ goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or penalty kick ”

The USB of hanging on the goal would result in an IFK and it meets the 4 D’s (Denies, # of Defenders, Direction, Distance)

Any guidance from you would be greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (March 3, 2006):
Simply by jumping up and hanging on the crossbar, the defender is guilty of unsporting behavior. By using that position to deflect the ball away from the goal while committing unsporting behavior, the defender has denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity through an act punishable by a free kick. Send off the player and show the red card. Restart with an indirect free kick–the punishment for misconduct that does not involve a foul–for the opposing team.

The same could be said of a situation in which a goalkeeper pulled the bar downward and the ball hit the bar and deflected away–same punishment and restart.

Your question:
A fellow official an I are having a debate as to the 4D’s having to be met for DGH the same as DGF. My point is no, that the 4 D’s are in fact for DGF and do not have the same impact for DGH. Point being, if a shot is taken with a defender 15 yards from the attacker who handles the ball preventing it going into the goal, (he has not met all 4 of the d”s-the attacker is certainly not within playing distance of the ball when the foul (handling) occurred,  he should be sent off for DGH and the proper restart be taken. Please help me with this situation.

USSF answer (March 3, 2006):
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.

Your question:
Last night during a Match I was with 4 seasoned referees in the stands. When a player on team X had handled the ball, but the ball when to the foot of a player on team Y who took 2 touches and then shot the ball past the keeper for an apparent goal. The referee had stopped play however to call the handball.

The question I have, can a referee allow the play to continue if the opposing team has a clear advantage after the handball?

The referees in the stands were split on this issue last night.

USSF answer (March 1, 2006):
Your question implies that the act of deliberate handling occurred inside the penalty area. Yes, a referee may apply the advantage clause to fouls or misconduct in the penalty area, but both the mechanics and the standards for judgment are different. The distinction is fairly clear and well accepted: In the case of mechanics, the referee should not use the advantage signal if the offense has occurred inside the penalty area–keep your mouth shut and your whistle down. In the case of decision standards, advantage inside the penalty area is based on what happens almost immediately after the offense (rather than the more relaxed standard of 2-3 seconds) and on whether a goal is scored (instead of the more relaxed standard of the fouled team being able to maintain possess and attacking capability).

In addition, the referee must remember to consider the possibility that this player has denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball. If so, then the referee must act accordingly, sending off the culprit if no goal is scored or cautioning for unsporting behavior if the goal is scored.

And, finally, referees should not use the word “handball.” Instead, we refer to the act of deliberately handling the ball or to a handling offense. “Handball” is a term used to describe at least two separate sports that have nothing to do with soccer.

Your question:
I recently heard about a game where the attacking team was awarded a Penalty Kick (PK) for a trip in the penalty area. During the taking of the PK, the player taking the kick performed a feint, by stopping his kick after his planting foot hit the ground, waited to see which way the goalie went and then proceeded to kick the ball in the opposite corner of the net. Before the ball crossed the line the referee blew his whisle, declared a no goal and gave the kicker a yellow card for the feint move. He then awarded the defending team a goal kick. Was this the right call?

Two other questions along the same lines: Are these moves considered feints? During a PK, can the kicker plant his left foot to the right of the ball and swing his right leg behind his left leg to “Toe Poke” the ball into the net? During a PK can the player plant his left foot (turning) to the right of the ball and spin around backwards to use his right heel to strike the ball towards the net? I have seen both of these moves in youth soccer in U-13 and U-14 age groups and the referee allowed the goals. I would have thought this would also be considered feints?

USSF answer (March 1, 2006):
The issue of “feinting” underwent a significant change in 2000. Prior to that time, the kicker was expected to make one continuous, uninterrupted move to the ball; in and after 2000 (based on the FIFA Q&A), certain forms of deception were allowed. The principle behind the prohibition on some forms of feinting is that of wasting time.  Referees should watch for the sorts of feinting described in the position paper of October 14, 2004 (available on the USSF referee webpage), but should not consider all deceptive maneuvers to be a violation of Law 14 or of the guidelines on kicks from the penalty mark in the Additional Instructions. They should ensure that the run to the ball is initiated from behind the ball and the kicker is not using deception to delay unnecessarily the taking of the kick.  The kicker’s behavior must not, in the opinion of the referee, unduly delay the taking of the kick in any feinting tactic. Others would include changing direction or running such an an excessive distance such that, in the opinion of the referee, the restart was delayed; or making hand or arm gestures with the intent to deceive the kicker (e .g., pointing in a direction).

The referee should allow the kick to proceed. If the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken.  If the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts the match with an indirect free kick to the defending team.

As to the various ways of kicking the ball, the offense (or lack thereof) is in the eye of the referee on the game.

Your question:
This question deals with the u-13 to u-15 player who has not yet mastered the proper slide tackling technique. I see a lot of players come in with the cleats up to tackle the ball away from the attacker and simply miss due to lack of skill or the fact that the attacker hurdles the defender and continues on his way. Should this be a foul under law 12 “trip or attempt to trip”? Clearly, if the player had succeeded with the foul tackle it could have been considered USB and sanctioned as such. What is the proper way to deal with these unsuccessful but possibly injury causing tackles?

USSF answer (March 1, 2006):
There are many ways to deal with such acts: calling the foul (or misconduct), giving the player a quiet word or a stern talking-to, cautioning or even sending off the player for serious foul play or violent conduct. Only the referee on this particular game at this particular moment can judge whether or not the acts you describe are fouls (or misconduct) or not. The referee must judge whether the player’s acts are the result of poor skill, simple carelessness, recklessness or worse.

Your question:
I have noticed lately a fashion trend in Girls Soccer using two different colored socks by the team ( i.e. orange and black; or white and orange etc.) I have researched all kind of information’s available to referees, but no answer found on rules identifying the used of matching sock only. High School Association identifies the situation as illegal equipment. NCAA only refers to matching uniforms and in contrast to the other team. FIFA only identifies socks.

For the referee sometimes the color of the sock is helpful in identifying a player submitting a rule violation in tackles or the like. Your advice is appreciated.

USSF answer (February 27, 2006):
There is indeed a requirement for uniformity of socks. While nothing is specifically written in Law 4 regarding the color of socks, tradition and common practice dictate that all members of a team (with the possible exception of the goalkeeper) wear socks of the same color, rather than each wearing his or her own choice or wearing socks of one color on one foot and socks of a different color on the other foot.

The ruling will be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” which is based on the Laws, memoranda from FIFA and the International F. A. Board, and in memoranda and policy papers published by the United States Soccer Federation.

It is implicit in the Law that each side wear a distinctively colored jersey, that shorts and socks be uniform for each team, and that the uniforms be distinguishable from the uniforms worn by the other team. However, the details of the uniform are governed by the competition authority and can vary widely from one match to another. The referee must know and enforce the rules of each competition worked. Players’ jerseys must remain tucked inside their shorts, socks must remain pulled up, and each player must wear shinguards under the socks. Slide pants or similar undergarments must be as close as possible to the main color of the shorts.

Your question:
It is my understanding that when a penal foul is committed “off the ball” and the play is stopped for the foul, the DFK is taken at the spot of the foul. As such, the position of the ball at the restart can be far from where it was at the stoppage of play. According to Law 12, if the foul occurred in the opponents penalty area, the result is a PK “irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play.”

This not only seems odd to me, but I don’t believe I have ever seen a referee move the ball in such a way. Is that because any such foul is usually sanctioned as misconduct at the next stoppage of play?

This is bothering me because I have missed the same @%&# question on the USSF exam for three years now! I usually score around 96% on the test, so maybe if I can just get this silly point down, I can improve my score by one more percent?

USSF answer (February 24, 2006):
The foul has ALWAYS been punished at the point of the foul, not where the ball was, with the exception of the penalty kick.

In fact, the following question and answer from the IFAB (the people who make the Laws) may prove instructive. It is about as extreme as you can get on this point:

Law 12
37. After a goal is scored, the referee notices a signal from his assistant referee. The assistant referee tells the referee that before the ball entered the goal, the goalkeeper of the team that scored the goal punched an opponent inside his own penalty area. What action does the referee take? The goal is disallowed, the goalkeeper is sent off for violent conduct and a penalty kick is awarded to the opposing team.

Your question:
I have a question that I can’t seem to find a definitive answer for…

A Sunday travel league that I ref for recently switched from the state association to US Club Soccer, a USSF affiliated organization. The league administrators & referee assignor are under the impression that with this switch they can now use the two man (dual) system of control for officiating matches (that the state association did not allow). I told them that we are still under the auspices of the Federation and that I did not believe that was permissible. The league said it was up to them to decide.

I don’t feel comfortable being part of a dual system because I have seen its failings at the high school level. I also have heard that if we use the dual system as USSF referees that we are not covered by the Federation and that is a liability I am absolutely not willing to accept. What is the official stance on this issue?

USSF answer (February 23, 2006):
The United States Soccer Federation does not recognize the two-man or dual system of control. Games played under the auspices of US Youth Soccer or US Soccer may be officiated only under the diagonal system of control, as provided for in the Laws of the Game.

Here is the appropriate extract from page 36 of the Referee Administrative Handbook (2005 edition):
Systems of Officiating Outdoor Soccer Games
The Laws of the Game recognize only one system for officiating soccer games, namely the diagonal system of control (DSC),consisting of three officials – one referee and two assistant referees. All competitions sanctioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation require the use of this officiating system. (Certain competitions will use a 4th Official.) In order to comply with the Laws of the Game which have been adopted by the National Council of US Soccer, all soccer games sanctioned directly or indirectly by member organizations of the U. S. Soccer Federation must employ the diagonal system. As a matter of policy, the US Soccer Referee Committee prefers the following alternatives in order of preference:
1. One Federation referee and two Federation referees as assistant referees (the standard ALL organizations should strive to meet).
2. One Federation referee, one Federation referee as an assistant referee and one club linesman *who is unrelated to either team and not registered as a referee. (Only if there are not enough Federation referees as stated in 1, above).
3. One Federation referee, and two club linesmen* who are unrelated to either team and not registered as referees, acting as club linesmen, (only if there are not enough Federation referees as stated in 1 or 2, above).
4. One Federation referee and two club linesmen* who are not registered Federation referees and who are affiliated with the participating teams, (only if there are not enough Federation referees as stated in 1, 2 or 3, above). Member organizations and their affiliates should make every effort to assist in recruiting officials so that enough Federation referees will be available to permit use of the diagonal officiating system for ALL their competitions.
In all cases, the Assistant Referee may be Grade 12 if the game level is appropriate for that assignment.
* Club linesmen (not registered as Federation Referees) are limited to calling in and out of bounds only.

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

Law 5 clearly prohibits the use of the dual system (two referees) and referees need to understand the consequences of participating in it (lack of insurance coverage, inability to provide support if problems develop, can’t count games for upgrade requirements, eventual hair loss, etc.).

Your question:
How is Stoppage Time determined by the Referee? I have seen many games where in the first half of the game there is quite a bit of actual stoppage time in the game, ie. player injury, goal celebrations, etc. and there is maybe only a minute or two stoppage time added to the first half. Then on the other hand in the second half, there maybe some stoppage of play for player injury, goal celebrations, etc. and the Referee adds four or five minutes (some times if there is not as much actual stoppage of the game as in the first half). Additionally, it just appear to me that when a game is tied, there appears to be more stoppage time added to the second half.

USSF answer (February 22, 2006):
There is no set or particular moment to end a game. Law 5 empowers the referee to act as timekeeper and to keep a record of the match. Law 7 instructs the referee to add time (at his discretion) for time lost in either half of a game or in any overtime period for the reasons listed in Law 7 (Allowance for Time Lost). Referees allow additional time in all periods for all time lost through substitution(s), assessment of injury to players,removal of injured players from the field of play for treatment,wasting time, as well as ³other causes² that consume time, such as kick-offs, throw-ins, dropped balls, free kicks, and replacement of lost or defective balls. Many of the reasons for stoppages in play and thus ³lost time² are entirely normal elements of the game. The referee takes this into account in applying discretion regarding the time to be added. The main objective should be to restore playing time to the match which is lost due to excessively prolonged or unusual stoppages. Law 5 tells us that the referee’s decisions regarding facts connected with play are final.

Some referees will end the playing period while the ball is in play and there is no threat to either goal, such as allowing a team to take a goal kick and then ending the period. Others will end the playing period at a stoppage. Our advice is to do what is comfortable for the referee and fair to the players.

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.

Your question:
At what point should a referee caution a player for interfering with the goalkeeper’s release of the ball and/or delaying the restart (by, for example, picking up the ball when a DFK was awarded to the other team)? In several professional level matches recently, such as the Chelsea-Colchester United match in the FA cup this evening, I’ve seen high level referees consistently do nothing with this sort of behavior. In this particular match, Drogba was practically jumping in front of the keeper on three or four punts, and I counted him picking up the ball on DFK’s awarded the other direction at least five times in the match.

I’ve seen similar behavior fail to be punished in MLS matches (Carlos Ruiz seems particularly bad about this sort of thing). Is there some reason I’m missing why the first such shouldn’t be a stern word and the second a caution for delaying the restart?

USSF answer (February 22, 2006):
You have missed nothing. In point of fact, the IFAB authorized for 2005 an experiment that players who delay play or provoke a confrontation with an opponent should be cautioned for delaying the restart of play.

Referees currently have the right to punish both acts by whatever means meet the need for good game management: speaking to or cautioning the guilty player.

We cannot provide firm guidance on “when” to take action, as this is the prerogative of the referee on the game. However, the intelligent referee should step in as soon as it is clear that the player performing the act is indeed attempting to delay play or hinder release of the ball.

Your question:
A player that is being substituted is running out of the field, when for no reason he runs by an apposing team player and hits him in the face for no reason at all. As a ref. I immediately red card the player. My question is, since play was stopped and he was in the process of being substituted do I allow the sub to enter the field or does his team play a man short. Second where does the ball go on the restart. At the spot of the aggression or the original spot where play was stopped. (A goal kick)

USSF answer (February 22, 2006):
No, you may not allow the substitution. A player being sent off for violent conduct is still a player until the referee beckons the substitute on; as soon as the substitute enters the field, he then becomes the player. The team must play short; however, if the team wants another substitute in the game, they must substitute for another player on the field. The restart remains the same as it would have been originally, because the violent conduct occurred when the ball was out of play.

Although not brought up in your question, this emphasizes the importance of not allowing substitutes to enter before the player has left the field.

Your question:
Reading the SYL manual for 2006, it seems that they are again utilizing the golden goal to settle ties. Is this permissible, especially from a reaonably high profile national league?

USSF answer (February 20, 2006):
The rule has been changed. There is no longer any “golden goal” in the Y League. The 2006 League Handbook is being updated to provide the new rules. This will be out by March 15 to all of the clubs, referees, and assignors.

Your question:
Could you please clarify… I know if a player kicks the ball back to his own goalie, the goalie cannot pick up the ball. However, what if the player pushes the ball off his thigh above the knee back to his goalie, would that be an infraction? Especially if they juggle the ball up to their thigh, then onto the goalie? Or if he/she intentionally hip checks the ball to his or her goalie off a deflection that should be OK?

Someone told me that the above were OK and that the illegal kick back occurs when the player kicks the ball back using their leg below his/her knee.

USSF answer (February 20, 2006):
The question you should be asking is whether or not the player actually kicked at the ball, not what part of the foot/leg ended up making contact. Juggling the ball and then hitting it to the goalkeeper with the thigh is not kicking the ball. Hitting the ball with the hip is not kicking the ball.

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 nature of the kick. If there is any doubt in the referee’s mind as to the nature of the pass, then common sense should prevail.  Unless the referee believes plays like this to be trickery, then there is no need to make a call.

Your question:
I was centering a U-13 Boys Flight 1 soccer game. Nearing the end of the game a player on team A was dribbling on a breakaway towards team B’s goal. A player on team B slid in from the left of the player taking the player on team A completely down without the player who made the tackle touching the ball. This happened inside the 18 and I awarded a penalty kick, along with a red card to the player who made the tackle. After the game, a referee report was filed saying that a red card was not necessary. I would like to know if my decision was correct.

USSF answer (February 20, 2006):
This is quite interesting–and somewhat puzzling. Only the referee on the game is permitted to file a match report on that game. Could you possibly have meant a report filed by a coach on the referee?

Without knowing full details on the tackle, we can only say that if you (as the referee on the game) saw a tackle which endangered the safety of an opponent, then you were perfectly within your right (and duty) to sanction that act as serious foul play. That is fully in accord with International F. A. Board Decision 4 to Law 12. Of course, it is also possible that the referee could judge that the foul interfered with an obvious goalscoring opportunity, which is also a sending-off offense.

Your question:
If a keeper is about to take a goal-kick, with an opposing player in the offside position, the ball bounces off a defender and drops to the player that is in offside position and he scores; is he called for offside or does the goal stand because he was put back onside when the ball hit the defender?

USSF answer (February 19, 2006):
If by “an opposing player in the offside position” you mean that an opponent of the goalkeeper was nearer to the goalkeeper’s goal than all members of the goalkeeper’s team other than the goalkeeper when the ball bounced off a member of the goalkeeper’s team and back toward the goalkeeper who had kicked the ball, then the answer is that in this case (where the goalkeeper played the ball and that ball bounced off the goalkeeper’s teammate) that opposing player is not considered to be offside. The ball was last played by two opponents and not by any of his teammates.

Your question:
I know that the Law and the Advice to Referees both state that the throw-in must be taken within one meter (or yard) from where it went out. While I follow this, some referees have told me that if a player moves farther than 1 meter away from the goal they are attacking that I should just let play continue because the player is disadvantaging his own team. Is this true, or is there some hidden advantage in moving downfield?

USSF answer (February 8, 2006):
No, this is not true. Referees should enforce the Laws with common sense. Even though the purpose of the throw-in is simply to get the ball back into play, yes, there may be a hidden benefit in moving farther away from the required spot to take the throw-in. The issue is whether the violation is trifling or doubtful, but you must be aware of what the basic requirement of the Law is before you can decide if a violation is significant enough to be penalized. In moving away from the required spot, the player may be gaining playing room for the team by throwing the ball to a teammate who is able to begin a better attack.

Any deviation from the correct location could benefit a team and so the referee must be prepared to enforce the requirement regardless of whether the thrower is farther up or down the touchline or farther back from the touchline.  This is entirely separate from the practical issue of whether, at any given location, the deviation is trifling and thus, even though contrary to the requirement in Law 15, the referee should penalize the violation.

Your question:
During the first half of the game, one of the Red team’s players commits a cautionable foul on a player from team Green. Everyone including the coach of the team that committed the foul knew there was going to be a card issued. The referee from about 15 yards asked the AR1 if it was #5 that should be cautioned, and the AR says yes. The referee issues the card to #5.

At half time when the crew tried to compare notes, it turns out that the #5 who was cautioned was from the team that was fouled and the team Red that commited the foul (the team that should have been cautioned) did not have a player with #5.

The referee informed the Green team’s coach that he had mistakenly cautioned Green #5. He then told the Red team’s coach that the caution issued to Green #5 was actually for one of the Red players and showed the card to Red #20. The coach agreed with the decision, but made the referee understand that the card should have been issued at the time the offense was committed and not after the game had restard and not during the half.

The referee did write this in the game report.

What is the correct decision, given the fact that game had already started.

USSF answer (February 6, 2006):
Once the referee has restarted the game after issuing a caution or a sending-off, the decision may not be changed in that game. Even though the error was discovered at halftime, the referee cannot change it. Although it may not seem fair, the best that the referee can do is to inform the teams that he or she recognizes the error and will address it in the match report.

Upon recognizing that a mistake has been made, the referee should advise both team coaches of the error and that he or she will be reporting the facts to the appropriate authorities. The referee should remind the Red coach that Red 20 remains on a caution and the Green coach that any subsequent disciplinary action taken against Green 5 during the game will also be reported and the original offense–that should have been cautioned at the time–may be taken into consideration by the authorities. The referee should report all the relevant facts, together with reports from the assistant referees (assuming that they were appointed officials and not club linesmen) and the fourth official, if there was one.

It is clear that there was a lack of awareness by all three/four match officials and someone should have taken responsibility before the game recommenced. Situations like this emphasize the importance of correct bookkeeping and communication among the officials. If an AR recognizes that the referee is cautioning or sending-off the wrong player, the AR must do whatever is necessary to inform the referee before the game is restarted.

Your question:
While reffing youth games, I often talk to players to “calm down” or “stop pushing” as a way of educating young players. However, there is a difference between giving advice and coaching.

In a recent game, an attacking player was injured and his teammate kicked the ball out of bound. When the game restarted, I advised the opposing player to throw the ball back to the other team. He ignored me, threw the ball to one of his own player who kicked the ball into the net and scored.

This was shocking to the other team as they heard my “advice” to their opponent and were expecting to get the ball back. The coach also accused me for giving illegal advice or coaching the players.

I let the goal stand because there is nothing in the rule book that tells me otherwise. However, can I caution the player who did the throw-in for “un-sporting conduct”?

USSF answer (February 3, 2006):
While it is traditional for the team taking the throw-in in such a situation to throw the ball to a place where the team that kicked the ball out may play it, there is no requirement under the Laws of the Game. The player was certainly unsporting, but not within the meaning of the Law. Let it go.

And you might learn a lesson: No matter how well intentioned you may be, you will never please everyone. Stop giving advice in such cases.

Your question:
I have been reading your collumn for years and it is a great teaching forum. I have not seen the following question addressed (maybe I missed it). I maintain the following scenario constitutes an illegal use of the hands. Some referee colleagues disagree. A player deliberately retracts and then propels forward the front of his shoulder to stike the ball, for example, in an attempt to pass it to a teammate. Contact with the ball occurs just under the collar bone. The motion used is mostly the shoulder coming forward rather than bending at the waist and using the chest. I have previoulsy not permitted this as it is clearly deliberate and has constituted, in my opinion, illegal use of the arm, even though the ball has not really come in contact with the upper arm. In support of my position, I site to them that in all my years of watching professional soccer, I have never seen this type of action at this level of play. I have seen players redirect the ball by letting it deflect off their chest but never have I seen the motion described above. What is your opinion, illegal or not?

USSF answer (January 25, 2006):
As long as the player does not use any part of the arm itself, there is no deliberate handling in this situation.

And thank you for the compliment. We try our best.

Your question:
The Laws of the Game state that Extra Time may be used as a procedure to determine the winner of a match. The Laws also state that competition rules may provide for two further equal periods, not exceeding 15 minutes each, to be played.

Can rules of competition (as in a youth tournament) still allow for a single period of extra time or “golden goal” period to determine the winner of a match?

USSF answer (January 25, 2006):
Competitions may not make rules counter to the Laws of the Game, which specify:
Away goals, extra time and taking kicks from the penalty mark are methods of determining the winning team where competition rules require there to be a winning team after a match has been drawn.

The Laws then go on to lay out the guidelines for away goals, extra time, and kicks from the penalty mark. There is no provision for a single period of extra time or a period in which a “golden goal” may be scored.

Your question:
A player claims he can wear his turban as it is his religious right. The opposing coach and player’s say that the player gets an unfair advantage when going to head the ball, should this be allowed?

USSF answer (January 23, 2006):
This position paper of 15 April 1999 should answer your question:
//Addressees deleted//
Subject: Player Dress

According to Law 4, The Players¹ Equipment, a player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player. The basic compulsory equipment of a player is a jersey or shirt, shorts, stockings, shinguards, and footwear. There is no provision for a player to wear a skirt or similar clothing.

However, in an analogous situation, in respect of certain religions that require members to wear headcoverings, the Secretary General of the United States Soccer Federation has given permission to those bound by religious law to wear those headcoverings, usually a turban or yarmulke, provided the referee finds that the headgear does not pose a danger to the player wearing it, or to the other players. This principle could be extended to other clothing required of members by their religion.

Since the referee may not know all the various religious rules, players must request the variance well enough ahead of game time by notifying the league. The league will notify the state association, which will pass the information on to the state referee committee. The state referee committee will make sure that the referees working that league¹s matches are informed.

The referee is still bound by the requirements of Law 4 that no player use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player, or use this equipment or clothing to circumvent the Laws of the Game. An example would be the use of the equipment or garment to trap the ball or to distract an opponent.

April 5, 1999

Your question:
The 2005 Questions and answers to the LOTG prescribes an indirect kick for the following action.

13. While the ball is in play, a substitute throws an object e.g. footwear at a player of the opposing team. What action does the referee take?
Play is stopped and the substitute is sent off for violent conduct. Play is restarted with an indirect free kick to the opposing team at the place where the ball was located when play was stopped *.

However, the USSF Advice to Referees has a table under the heading of violent conduct that indicates the result would be a dropped ball, due to the fact that a substitute was guilty of misconduct.  Am I reading this incorrectly?

USSF answer (January 23, 2006):
Brief and simple answer first: There are several Q&As where the reader must presume that the evildoer either entered the field or left the field to perform the deed. In this case, the Q&A item PRESUMES that the substitute entered the field of play.  Accordingly, the restart (indirect free kick where the ball was) was for this rather than for the violent conduct.

Long-winded answer with rationale second:
– If the sub remained off the field and threw the shoe, this would be misconduct committed off the field by a nonplayer–restart is dropped ball where the ball was.
– The ONLY indirect free kick restart performed where the ball was rather than where the violation occurred is the illegal entry of a substitute.
– If the Q&A answer had been based on the theory that the restart was based on misconduct and that this misconduct was ON the field because that is where the target was, the location of the indirect free kick restart would have been where the target was.
– The only factual situation that fits “indirect free kick where the ball was” is that the stoppage was for the illegal entry of the substitute–who then committed violent conduct by throwing the shoe.  Unfortunately, the FIFA Q&A forget to mention this little piece of information.

Your question:
In todays state cup our assignor, who also happened to be our district’s referee coordinator, instructed all the referees before the match to remove their jeweleries. I really have a problem with this. I do not wear any type of jewelry so it is not an issue with me on that aspect but it is a problem for me as to the reasoning for such act. I would like a ruling from USSF on this issue. Does USSF support such instructions? If so then we all need to know about it. If not does USSF support me in respect of informing my boss that he made a mistake?

USSF answer (January 21, 2006):
Sorry, but the Federation agrees with your referee coordinator. Here are two answers that make the point quite clearly:
USSF answer (April 5, 2001):
Referees are expected to look and be professional in every aspect of their work. The wearing of excessive or outlandish jewelry, no matter how it is attached to the body, would neither be nor appear professional. With the single exception of a watch, referees should not wear onto the field anything which is forbidden to players.
USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
The standards that apply to referees should not be any different than those that apply to players, with the exception of items which are required equipment, such as watches and whistles.

Your question:
Our club wants to start a program developing referees. To do that, we want to have some clinics for club members, both kids and parents, and then have them do in-house games, which means U-10 and the like.

To have a USSF licensed referee assigned to these games, do we need a licensed in-house assignor? We were hoping to have one of the coaching staff do this. Would there be any potential problems with insurance, etc.?

USSF answer (January 17, 2006):
Assignors do not have to be registered if they are assigning only youth recreational-level games. If they begin assigning for travel teams, or teams for which there are tryouts, then the must be registered.

Your question:
Can a referee put down (include) in his game report that he cautioned or sent off a player during a game when he did not SHOW or told the player that he was being cautioned or sent off?

This is what happened in this particular case:
Player A, who was a substitute at the time, recovered a ball out of touch and threw it at Player B, who was on the field, striking him in the head.Player B ran over to the side and punched Player A. At this point, players from both sides congregated around the site of the incident and refused to move apart. After a few minutes, the referee terminated the game at this point and announced this to the teams and left. No cards were SHOWN to any players. However, on his game report the referee wrote this:
In the 86th minute, Player A was booked for a Send off for violent conduct for striking an opponent with the ball and Player B was booked for a send off for violent conduct for striking an opponent.

Is this the way the incident should have been reported in the official game report?

What should have been the proper mechanic and process used to deal with the incident at the field and how, it should have been reported in the game report?

USSF answer (January 13, 2006):
If the players will not cooperate, then the referee must do what he or she can to deal with the situation. In this case, both players clearly deserved to be sent off and shown the red card for violent conduct. It is clear from your scenario that the players did not cooperate, but what the referee did would be acceptable only if (as may have been the case here) the referee was concerned about his or her own safety or that of the officiating team.  We find it difficult to believe that the referee could not have found SOME opportunity to announce in SOME way before leaving the field that the player and substitute in question had been sent off.  Many problems could be prevented by NOT letting the game report be the first and/or only occasion when the send-offs became public.

Your question:
What is the six yard box used for beside taking goal kicks and indirect kicks from pass backs on the defensive team?

USSF answer (January 5, 2006):
Here is a portion of an answer from January 19, 2004, that should answer your question:
The goal area has changed shape, size, and role several times during its history. Nowadays its primary roles are to provide a place for the goal kick to be taken and to act as a buffer zone for dropped balls and for opposing indirect free kicks within six yards of the goal. See Law 8 (Special Circumstances) and Law 13 (Free Kick Inside the Penalty Area). That is, of course, in addition, to the information in Law 1 (The Field of Play) and Law 16 (The Goal Kick).

Beyond what is stated in Laws 8 and 13, the goal area has no special significance with regard to indirect free kicks awarded when the goalkeeper deliberately handles a ball deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate.

Your question:
What’s the correct way for a female to chest the ball?

USSF answer (January 4, 2006):
With her chest.

This excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” is what we instruct our referees to do:
The offense known as “handling the ball” involves deliberate contact with the ball by a player’s hand or arm (including fingertips, upper arm, or outer shoulder). “Deliberate contact” means that the player could have avoided the touch but chose not to, that the player’s arms were not in a normal playing position at the time, or that the player deliberately continued an initially accidental contact for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage. Moving hands or arms instinctively to protect the body when suddenly faced with a fast approaching ball does not constitute deliberate contact unless there is subsequent action to direct the ball once contact is made. Likewise, placing hands or arms to protect the body at a free kick or similar restart is not likely to produce an infringement unless there is subsequent action to direct or control the ball. The fact that a player may benefit from the ball contacting the hand does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement. A player infringes the Law regarding handling the ball even if direct contact is avoided by holding something in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.).

The rule of thumb for referees is that it is handling if the player plays the ball, but not handling if the ball plays the player. The referee should punish only deliberate handling of the ball, meaning only those actions when the player (and not the goalkeeper within the ‘keeper’s own penalty area) strikes or propels the ball with the hand or arm (shoulder to tip of fingers).

Your question:
Situation: Attacking player (A) crosses the half-way line with possession of ball. Attacking player (A) crosses a ball simultaneous to being taken down on a hard slide tackle from a defender (which would warrant a caution). The referee allows advantage to take place as the pass is to space to an attacking teammate (B) who is making a run (and will be in a good scoring position).

Attacking player (B) takes a shot on goal and the goal keeper makes a save. The referee, who has allowed advantage, now blows his whistle to address the caution (to the defender around the half-way line).

Question- How and where is the re-start taken?

USSF answer (January 3, 2006):
You neglected to give us a most valuable item of information–how much time had elapsed from the moment of the original foul and misconduct to the moment when the referee finally stopped play. If the amount of time was more than 2-3 seconds, then the restart (after the caution has been issued), cannot be for the foul, but must be for the misconduct–an indirect free kick from the place where the misconduct occurred.

This situation begs the question as to why the referee would apply the advantage, rather than stop play to deal with the foul and misconduct for an event that occurred very near to the halfway line. A cautionable offense of this nature cries out to be punished sooner, rather than later, to prevent any escalation of misconduct.

Your question:
I find experienced refs all over the spectum addressing this query. And I find nothing in the rule book on it:
A team has a FK near the penalty area. Among the defenders in the wall, one player hoists himself up over a teammate using his hands, so as to head any goalbound ball going above the wall.

What’s the ruling if a) he misses the ball, and b) he heads the ball, clearing it?

USSF answer (January 3, 2006):
The offense is unsporting behavior, punishable with a caution and yellow card. The subsequent restart is an indirect free kick for the opposing team, taken from the place where the misconduct occurred, keeping in mind the special conditions described in Law 8 regarding restarts in the goal area. If the player prevented a goal or a goalscoring opportunity through this misconduct, then the player must be sent off and shown the red card before the indirect free kick.

The caution, of course, would more likely be given when the offense is not trifling (e. g., if the player actually makes contact with the ball). Simply trying unsuccessfully to get the ball using such unsporting behavior might warrant only a stern talking-to. Most players are unaware that this behavior is misconduct. As for finding something in the “rule book” (known preferably as The Laws of the Game), this misconduct was described in the Law before the general rewrite which occurred in 1996-1997, but referees are expected to officiate as though it is still there. More currently, you should review the USSF position paper on “Cautions and Cautionable Offenses (2004)” available on the USSF website.

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