2006 Part 3

Your question:
What is the “official” policy on medi-alert bracelets and knecklaces? Further, what is the policy on the rubber message bracelets (i.e. Livestrong, Breast Cancer, MIA, etc.)?USSF answer (September 29, 2006):
These answers from the past should cover your questions:
1. September 29, 2005, with reference to medicalert and other sorts of bracelets
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 are 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).”

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?

2. November 19, 2004, with reference to any “message” bracelets. No jewelry, no adornments. These bands are loose and could be very dangerous.

Your question:
You may have answered this one already but I¹m not totally sure.

I¹d like to distill this question down to its simplest form, without reading a whole let extra into it. It¹s been the source of a long debate in some different discussion forums, and we have at least one official who is holding fast to his personal interpretation in the face of an overwhelming number of officials who think differently.

In looking at ATR 12.20 as it is worded in the August, 2006 edition, a debate has arisen over this issue.

I contend, along with a large number of my colleagues, that if a ball is deliberately passed back to a teammates goalkeeper he/she may not pick it up with their hands. This applies whether the ball is passed back to the keeper while he/she is already in the penalty area, or if the keeper receives the deliberate pass back outside the penalty area and then proceeds to dribble the ball back into the penalty area and pick it up once it is in the PA. In either case, I believe that the ATR is telling us that ³by the book² this infraction should be treated as a technical foul for which the attacking team would be awarded an indirect free kick at the spot where the keeper picked up the ball (subject, of course, to the rules regarding restarts for IFK infractions that occur inside the goal area).

Others say that it has to be passed back to where the keeper can play it with their hands in order to result in the IFK, so receiving a pass back from a teammate outside the PA and dribbling it back into the penalty area to pick it us is not a technical foul. Unfortunately, the way that ATR 12.20 is written, a case could be made for either conclusion.

Can you set the record straight on this one?

USSF answer (September 29, 2006):
There are always soccer lawyers who will try to twist the written word to fit the meaning they want.

Advice 12.20 says:
A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he or she touches the ball with the hands directly after it has been deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate. The requirement that the ball be kicked means only that it has been played with the foot. The requirement that the ball be “kicked to” the goalkeeper means only that the play is to or toward a place where the keeper can legally handle the ball. The requirement that the ball be “deliberately kicked” means that the play on the ball is deliberate and does not include situations in which the ball has been, in the opinion of the referee, accidentally deflected or misdirected. The goalkeeper has infringed the Law by handling the ball after initially playing the ball in some other way (e.g., with the feet). This offense, like any other, may be ignored for the moment if it is trifling or doubtful (see Advice 5.6).

NOTE: (a) The goalkeeper is permitted to dribble into the penalty area and then pick up any ball played legally (not kicked deliberately to the goalkeeper or to a place where the goalkeeper can easily play it) by a teammate or played in any manner by an opponent. (b) This portion of the Law was written to help referees cope with timewasting tactics by teams, not to punish players who are playing within the Spirit of the Game.

A place where the goalkeeper may “play” the ball does not mean where the goalkeeper may play it with the hands. It should be clear from 12.20 that the goalkeeper is not permitted to dribble into the penalty area a ball deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate and then pick it up. That is not permitted under any circumstances. Of course, the goalkeeper may dribble (“play”) any ball played toward him or her with the feet. The infringement does not occur until the ‘keeper plays the ball with the hands.

Tell your dissenting colleagues to get a life.

Your question:
Player A collides with Player B, and in the process Player A is inadvertently hit in the head by Player B. Player A falls to the ground but never loses consciousness. Play is stopped and the trainer is called. Player A is taken off the field. The referee then informs the coach for Player A that she cannot re-enter the game at all based on their assessment of her health, even though a certified trainer for the school says that she is clear to play (without symptoms). Is this allowed? According to what I’ve read about Rule 5, the referee is not liable for any injury suffered by a player, spectator or official during the course of the game, but is obvsiouly looking out for the health of any player.

USSF answer (September 27, 2006):
[NOTE: This answer is a revision of an answer dated September 19, 2006]
In reading this answer, please remember that the U. S. Soccer Federation has no authority over games not played under its aegis, nor over the referees who officiate them.

Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has no direct authority to prevent a player from participating for unspecified reasons. While the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players, it does not give the referee the right to prevent the further participation of a player who has been treated for injury and cleared to play by a trainer or medical doctor. The only possible reason would be that player was still bleeding or had blood on his or her uniform.

If there is a trainer and/or medically trained person officially affiliated with the team or the competition authority (including, where relevant, the tournament), the referee should defer to that person’s decision as to whether a player’s return to the field following a serious injury would be safe. In the absence of such a person, the referee retains the authority under the Law to determine if a player is still seriously injured and, if necessary, to stop play and to require that player to again leave the field.  The Law does not allow the referee to prevent the return of the player to the field, but once play resumes with that player on the field, the referee reverts to his or her original duty to stop play if, in the referee’s opinion, the player is seriously injured.  As always, the referee must use common sense in making such a potentially controversial decision and must include full details in the match report.

Caveat: The referee should exercise intelligence and common sense when dealing with someone who claims medical expertise but who does not meet the requirement of being officially approved (for example, comes down from the stands or from among the spectators).

Your question:
Your question: A substitute for the defending team enters the field and handles the ball just as it is struck by an opposing player. What does the referee do if, in his or her opinion, the ball would have gone into the goal if it had not been handled by the substitute?

USSF answer (September 25, 2006):
No matter how unsporting his act, the substitute has not committed an offense which meets the requirements for a direct sending off under Law 12. Thus the restart in this case may only be an indirect free kick, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8. Why? Because when a substitute has entered the field without permission, the only possible restart is an indirect free kick for the illegal entry, and this is the offense which interfered with a goal or goal-scoring opportunity. No other restart may be considered. The substitute would be cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without permission. The referee might also caution the substitute for unsporting behavior (showing a lack of respect for the game by bringing the game into disrepute through his cynical interference with play). Because the substitute had just been cautioned for illegally entering the field, this would be the substitute’s second caution of the game and he would therefore also be sent off and shown the red card. The substitute could NOT be sent off for preventing a goal or a goalscoring opportunity, because he was not a player.

The International F. A. Board has made it very clear that, regardless of what a substitute does after illegally entering the field, the restart is controlled by the illegal entry, not by whatever the substitute did after illegally entering the field. This applies whether the substitute simply tackles the ball away, handles the ball, or acts in any violent way against an opponent with or without the ball. In the case of (a) an additional cautionable offense committed after the illegal entry, the referee should caution the substitute and show the yellow card, immediately following the yellow card with a red card to signal dismissal; or in the case of (b) violent conduct, the referee should send off the substitute and show the red card without the necessity of first showing a yellow card for the illegal entry (but full details must be included in the game report).

This situation illustrates the need for referees and assistant referees and fourth officials of youth and adult games to maintain very close vigilance over where substitutes are. They must be restricted to the team area and not allowed to warm up anywhere but behind their teams.

Your question:
Two blue attacking players are standing in an offside position. A blue teammate passes a ball over the second to last red defender towards the goal. The two blue players run in the direction of the ball. A fourth blue player, who was onside at the moment the ball was passed, runs past the two teammates, plays the ball, and fires it into the goal. As the assistant referee, at what point do you signal offside?
A. When the ball was kicked over the second to last red defender
B. When the ball was touched by the fourth blue attacker
C. When you saw the two blue players running in the direction of the ball
D. There is no offside infringement

USSF answer (September 25, 2006):
This quote from an August 2006 USSF memorandum should be helpful:
The proper interpretation and application of Law 11 have been evolving in recent years. To this end, the International Board has provided detailed definitions of the ways in which a player may become involved in active play (Law 11, International Board Decision 2). On August 17, 2005, a Circular from the FIFA further clarified some of the confusion regarding whether “touching the ball” was a requirement for “interfering with play” (emphasis added):
– A player in an offside position may be penalized before playing or touching the ball if, in the opinion of the referee, no other teammate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball.
– If an opponent becomes involved in the play and if, in the opinion of the referee, there is potential for physical contact, the player in the offside position shall be penalized for interfering with an opponent.

If the player who had been in the onside position when the ball was played gets there first, then there is no offside.

Your question:
[Note: This question has been abridged to be more readily understandable.]
The Law states the ball has to be within the corner arc, this is ambiguous. What does this mean?

Does it mean that a portion of the ball can be outside the corner arc as long as the circumference of the ball is over the top of the line or touching the plane of the line? Is this still considered to be inside the corner arc, even though the ball is not in physical contact with the line? Or does it mean that the ball has be physically touching a blade of white grass to be considered in the corner arc?

I have read the LAWs of the GAME and advice to the referees 2005 and 2006 several times and discussed it with highly experienced refs and it is not clear, at least not to me.

I have looked at the illustrations in the FIFA LAWS and the ADVICE booklets. The illustrations for corner arc appear to match the illustrations for ball out of play (touchline and goal line), goal area for goal kicks and illustration for a goal scored and the foot over the WHOLE line for illegal throw in. Each of these illustrations and all the situations I know of in soccer always consider the WHOLE ball and the WHOLE LINE.

If the corner arc is different, please explain why this different ruling is logical or makes sense in the game?

If I said a corner kick must be inside the corner arc area would I be correct? If so does that mean it has to touch the line of the corner arc or the touchline or goal line or just the corner arc?

USSF answer (September 20, 2006):
Short answer: At a corner kick the ball must be inside the arc, which means it may not rest outside the arc and thus simply break the plane of the line(s).

Long answer: Putting the ball into play from a corner kick is quite different from judging the ball to be either in or out of play over a boundary line. These are two different concepts and are covered in several different Laws. There is absolutely no ambiguity in Law 17.

Law 9 tells us that the ball is out of play when it has wholly crossed the goal line or touch line whether on the ground or in the air or when play has been stopped by the referee, and that the ball is in play at all other times. That obviously has nothing to do with restarts.

Law 17 requires the ball to be “placed inside the corner arc.” If it is on the ground outside the arc, it is not inside the arc, no matter that it may break the plane of that arc.

The requirement is not quite the same for goal kicks, at which the ball may simply break the plane of the line to be ready to put into play. Why? Because Law 16 requires only that the ball be kicked from any point within the goal area. Law 15 does not deal with the line and when the ball is in play with regard to the line, as the ball may still be in the hands of the thrower as it crosses the line and enters the field before it has been released into play.

As to enforcing the placement, although we have now made clear what the Law technically says about ball placement on a corner kick, the practical referee question must always be, “so what?”  Consider an incorrect placement of the ball as a trifling offense unless it REALLY made a difference.

Your question:
This has been discussed on SOCREF-L twice in the last few weeks. I was quite surprised when several of the experienced referees stated that they would retake the kick if the ball was not properly put in play. I have always thought that if player #1 takes some action with the ball that does not put it in play, then player #2 puts the ball in play when he kicks it directly into the goal. It never occurred to me that player #2 was not allowed to put the ball in play in this situation. If the original restart was an IFK, I would award a goal kick to the defending team. Since others seemed to disagree, I wondered if I was missing something in my reasoning.

USSF answer (September 20, 2006):
If, at an indirect free kick, one player simply touches the ball without moving it and the second player then kicks it straight into the goal, the correct restart is a goal kick. However, if the ball touched any other player on the way into the goal, the goal would be scored.

Your question:
Please clarify when fouls should be called, or not, when the goalie is scrambling for the ball and attacker(s) are trying to kick it into the goal. e.g. sliding into the goalie when trying to get the goal, etc.

USSF answer (September 20, 2006):
If an opponent is challenging the goalkeeper for a ball on the ground, both are allowed to play it fairly. If the goalkeeper has the ball under control, meaning that it is within his or her grasp (which can be nothing more than a finger pinning the ball to the ground or to the body), then the opponent must stop the challenge. Accidents may happen, but they will still be called as a foul against the opponent. If the goalkeeper does not have the ball under control, then the opponent may continue to try to win the ball fairly. In addition, the referee must take full consideration of the age and skill levels of the players.


Your question:
Player A collides with Player B, and in the process Player A is inadvertently hit in the head by Player B. Player A falls to the ground but never loses consciousness. Play is stopped and the trainer is called. Player A is taken off the field. The referee then informs the coach for Player A that she cannot re-enter the game at all based on their assessment of her health, even though a certified trainer for the school says that she is clear to play (without symptoms). Is this allowed? According to what I’ve read about Rule 5, the referee is not liable for any injury suffered by a player, spectator or official during the course of the game, but is obviously looking out for the health of any player.

Answer (September 19, 2006):
In reading this answer, please remember that the U. S. Soccer Federation has no authority over games not played under its aegis, nor over the referees who officiate them.

Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has no direct authority to prevent a player from participating for unspecified reasons. While the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players, it does not give the referee the right to prevent the further participation of a player who has been treated for injury and cleared to play by a trainer or medical doctor. The only possible reason would be that player was still bleeding or had blood on his or her uniform.


Your question:
Last week, I was an AR for a U12 Boy’s Soccer Game. In the 2nd half, after a goal was scored, the keeper took the ball out of the goal and went to toss it to his teammate to kick it off.

In the process, the players that scored the goal took the ball away from the keeper and then bounced it in front of him and celebrated. It was a rude act and went beyond celebrating. They then tossed it for the kick off.

Is this a caution for both players? Does the player who bounced the ball in front of the keeper to be rude deserve more punishment that the other player?

Also, the referee (center) saw this, but did nothing. As an AR, should I raise the flag and say that I believe the players deserve cautions?

Answer (September 13, 2006):
The IFAB, the people who make and amend the Laws of the Game, anticipated your question and made a change in the Laws this year. If you look in the back of the book, you will find the section on “Additional Instructions.” In that section, you will see, under 2. ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR REFEREES, ASSISTANT REFEREES AND FOURTH OFFICIALS
Delaying the restart of play
a new bullet point 6:
Referees must caution players who delay the restart of play by tactics such as:
[followed by a list of five bullet points unchanged from the present text and then]
– provoking a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play

In the Memorandum 2006, the Federation gave the following “USSF Advice to Referees: This new bullet point reflects the results of an experiment approved by the IFAB for certain competitions in 2005. The behavior which is the focus of this instruction includes attempts by a scoring team to take possession of the ball from the opponent’s goal and players who attempt to gain control of the ball at a stoppage, in either case in a manner which, in the opinion of the referee, would provoke the opposing team. Referees should attempt to anticipate and forestall such offenses, saving the caution for the most flagrant cases where the offending player is unwilling to desist in the provocation. If the caution is unavoidable, it must be reported for delaying the restart of play.”

The acts you describe in your question would be covered by this new bullet point. You were correct and the referee was incorrect.


Your question:
At the taking of a corner kick, an attacker runs from the far post to the near post. To get around the keeper, who is standing on the goal line, he goes inside the goal. Is this permissible:
1. If the action takes place prior to the kick?
2. If the action takes places after the ball is in play (i.e. in the air)?
3. If a defender marking the attacker runs into his own keeper as a result of the run by the defender?

I know a player may temporarily cross the boundary lines to get around another player without having been considered off the FOP in terms of Leaving Without Permission, but going in the goal and returning to gain an advantage seems a special case. My inclination is to stop play, caution for UB, and either take the kick (if not taken) or IFK out from the 6 (where attacker left the FOP + special circumstances). Can you give any guidance for this situation?

Re: #3, ignoring the FOP departure, if two teammates run into each other that seems to me to be their own problem.

Answer (September 12, 2006):
It would not be a very clever play, as the possibility for interference with or impeding of the goalkeeper is always there, but the ploy is legal, as long as it is during the course of play and the player who enters the goal does not interfere in ANY way with the goalkeeper. In addition, let us emphasize that in general the player is expected to stay on the field.

And yes, the matter of two teammates running into one another would be their own problem, not the referee’s.


I’m a USSF ref and have a question about when handling the ball by an offensive player in the penalty area rises to the level of a caution being issued.

I was watching a college game. Team A had a throw-in deep in its offensive zone. The throw went into the box and several players from both teams jumped in a attempt to head the all. One of the Team A players while jumping raised his arms over his head and the ball struck one of his arms and then he swatted the ball to the ground. The referee correctly stopped play and awarded a DFK to Team B but he also gave the Team A player a caution. >From my vantage point on the sidelines it didn’t appear that the Team A players was attempting to score by using his hand.

Answer (September 12, 2006):
This applies to games played under the Laws of the Game. Your answer lies in the Additional Instructions for Referees at the end of your book of the Laws:
Cautions for unsporting behavior by deliberately handling the ball
There are circumstances when, in addition to a free kick being awarded, a player must also be cautioned for unsporting behavior, e.g. when a player:
– deliberately and blatantly handles the ball to prevent an opponent gaining possession
– attempts to score a goal by deliberately handling the ball


A fellow referee & I were discussing a call he made during a girls high school game. A defender deliberately kicked the ball with her foot back to the keeper who attempted to play the ball with her foot. The ball glanced off her foot and headed toward the goal line. The keeper ran back and picked up the ball with her hands. The referee allowed play to continue. He and his partner reasoned after the game that because the keeper intended to play the ball with her foot and had actually made contact with the ball that she could then be allowed to pick the ball up with her hands. I disagreed with him and said he should have awarded an IFK to the attacking team.. Your thoughts please.

Answer (September 12, 2006):
The fact that the goalkeeper attempted to play the ball with her foot does not override the fact that the ball was deliberately kicked by a teammate. However, the principle behind the change in the Laws was to prevent time wasting. It appears clear from the situation you describe that there were no timewasting tactics here, so the intelligent referee might decide to overlook this trifling infringement and continue on with the game.


I have received a number of questionsregarding placement of the ball for a corner kick. Something so simple as this has been confounded by me and I have made a probably incorrect assumption. Where this came from I don’t know but it’s stuck in my mind. The Law states inside the corner arc. Q&A and Advice both show diagrams of what is correct and incorrect. I checked the grade 8 slides on the website and found them in agreement with the aforementioned diagrams.

Is the corner arc “different” than any other field marking? Is the ball in contact with the extended plane of the corner arc sufficient to place it in the corner area or is this different? Is this like the ball in or out of play, a goal scored or not, in or out of the penalty area, etc. It’s a matter of inches and semantics and consistency and I may have answered incorrectly so I feel compelled to ask ‘the burning bush” again. If I have made an error I need to get the proper word out to the referees I misinformed.

Answer (September 11, 2006):
This answer of October 21, 2004, has not changed:
It has been clearly stated by the International F. A. Board, the makers of the Laws of the Game, that the ball must be within or physically touch the lines demarcating the corner arc.

The rule the player in your incident refers to applies only to balls being either in play or out of play. In those situations, the ball must simply break the vertical plane of the line to be in play and need not touch the line physically. This does not apply to the corner kick. You will find a diagram on corner kick placement in the IFAB/FIFA publication “Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, which can be downloaded from www.fifa.com.


Another interesting question: In a recent U18 match, I had a shot that went wide of the goal. The keeper went after the ball, as did a player from the offense as the ball was headed towards the goal line. The goalkeeper subsequently dove to knock the ball over the goal line with his hands while within the penalty area, and in the process, the attacking player tripped over his outstretched arms (since he was in close proximity to play the ball).

It did not appear that the attacking player was “playing” the goalkeepers arms, and the fall was not a violent tackle. Neither player was hurt in the tackle.

Since the ball was driven over the goal line by a member of the defensive team, I awarded a corner kick. I have checked with a few officials, and the results have been mixed. One stated that since the keeper had posession when he touched the ball, I should have issued a DFK for fouling the keeper. Another said that the keeper and the player from the offense both had a fair shot at the ball, and since the offense player did not deliberately kick the keepers arms (in fact, he tripped over them), that it was a “no foul” situation.

I’m looking for some guidance here. From what I have written, what would you suggest is the right restart?

Answer (September 9, 2006):
The goalkeeper establishes possession by controlling the ball with his (or her) hand(s), but deflecting the ball does not establish either control or possession. Merely touching the ball is not enough (keeping in mind the need to judge possession by the age and skill of the players). The ball needs to be held by both hands or trapped between one hand and a surface or held in the outstretched hand.

No foul by either player. The correct decision was the corner kick.


Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions ….. this is an informative and useful website.

My question is: What are the rules and guidelines for regulating referee behavior on and off the field? I know that the rules published by FIFA list the actions that a referee needs to take to govern the game within the rules, but I would assume that there must be some rules that outline acceptable and unacceptable behavior by a referee and referee conduct.

Specifically, is a referee allowed to make comments like ‘this is going to cost you $2 for my time’ when the game is stopped to allow a player to do up their shoe laces? At the time of a player substitution comments are made like ‘I will take onions and tomatoes with this sub’. ‘Your presence at this game is purely optional and you are not allowed to yell from the side lines’ a comment made to a parent. This comments are just a few examples of the repertoire that this official carried on on the field.

What is the correct disciplinary procedure when a referee is blatantly biased and through his comments and behavior controls the outcome of a game. How is this controlled and corrected. These referees have a huge influence on fair play, morals and conduct of players when they are not professional. This behavior brings the game of soccer into dispute!

The particular situation was a high school soccer tournament.

Answer (September 8, 2006):
While referees are expected to enjoy themselves while they are working on the field, even to the extent of making small jokes, their commentary should be appropriate to the circumstances of the game.

The U. S. Soccer Federation’s National Program for Referee Development has a Code of Ethics:
Code of Ethics for Referees
(1) I will always maintain the utmost respect for the game of soccer.
(2) I will conduct myself honorably at all times and maintain the dignity of my position.
(3) I will always honor an assignment or any other contractual obligation.
(4) I will attend training meetings and clinics so as to know the Laws of the Game, their proper interpretation and their application.
(5) I will always strive to achieve maximum team work with my fellow officials.
(6) I will be loyal to my fellow officials and never knowingly promote criticism of them.
(7) I will be in good physical condition.
(8) I will control the players effectively by being courteous and considerate without sacrificing fairness.
(9) I will do my utmost to assist my fellow officials to better themselves and their work.
(10) I will not make statements about any games except to clarify an interpretation of the Laws of the Game.
(11) I will not discriminate against nor take undue advantage of any individual group on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
(12) I consider it a privilege to be a part of the United States Soccer Federation and my actions will reflect credit upon that organization and its affiliates.

In addition, the initial statement in the USSF’s Referee Administrative Handbook says:
I, as a referee, am committed to:
1. Officiating matches in a fair and safe manner that ensures player and spectator enjoyment.
2. Maintaining my physical fitness for peak performance.
3. Faithfully keeping all appointments assigned to and accepted by me.
4. Supporting my fellow officials with loyalty, pride and dignity.
5. Conducting myself in a way to be ethically and morally beyond reproach.
6. Granting players and coaches dignity and self-respect.
7. Contributing to the overall development of the National Program for Referee Development.
8. Remaining committed to continuous learning and an improvement process that enables me to perform to my full potential.

We would point out that this was a high-school tournament and likely not played under the Laws of the Game or affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation. In that case, if you want to file a complaint about the referee, you should work through the athletic director at the school through which your child participated in the tournament. You will need full details of date, place, teams, time day, and precisely what happened.

If you believe it was affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation and you wish to file a complaint against the referee, you should do so 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 your state youth soccer association. Once again, you will need to supply full details of the incident(s).


My son plays on a team Š in our community. It is all volunteer positions. It is a boys U8 level. I will attempt to help referee as we don’t need to be certified, can you send (email) me some game rules?

Answer (September 7, 2006):
You can download the rules for all U. S. Youth Soccer small-sided games at the following URL:

Full-sided games generally use the same unmodified Laws of the Game (also known as the “FIFA Rules”) as adult soccer.

Some competitions modify the rules for their particular needs. Check with your state youth soccer association to see what they recommend.


I noticed on the game reports for the MLS games the players are issued yellow cards for bringing the game in disrepute. What does this mean? What is it replacing or adding to?

Answer (September 7, 2006):
“Bringing the game into disrepute” means doing something that is totally counter the spirit of the game, which is meant to be played fairly and in a sporting manner. Such acts show a lack of respect for the game, e. g., aggressive attitude, inflammatory behavior, deliberately kicking the ball into one’s own goal or taunting.


A couple of Grade 8 referees were discussing upgrading to Grade 7 and there was some confusion on what games count toward the 75 Referee and 25 AR requirements. We tend to referee the following types of games and could not come to an agreement on what games count.

1. U-14 to U-19 games using a three man (DSC) system, with age appropriate durations
2. Tournament games involving only USSF affiliated teams using DSC and shortened halves
3. U-9 to U14 games using club linesmen, with age appropriate game durations

Page 20 of the Referee Administrative Handbook requires games to be “US Federation Games” in order for them to be counted towards an upgrade to Grade 7. The argument given for all three types of games to count seems logical, but some confirmation is requested. The argument was as follows:
1. The only question for this would be the game durations, but page 3 of the USSF/FIFA LOTG states that for any games involving players under 16 years the duration of the games may be altered. So these games should count.
2. These should count for the same reason as part 1 as long as the tournament and all teams involved are affiliated with USSF.
3. The use of club linesmen, although not desired, still constitutes a USSF affiliated game due to item 4 of the preferred alternatives to the DSC listed on page 36 of the Referee Administrative Handbook. It doesn’t seem fair to penalize the center referee just because there are not enough referees available to have 3 at every game.

Please lend some insight into this issue as it has a large impact on those of us who are looking to progress through the ladder as referees.

Answer (September 6, 2006):
Any games specified in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) can be counted for advancement. Games played with shortened halves do not count; the periods must be age appropriate, as specified by the Laws of the Game, USSF and USYS. USYS has specified times for the halves of all age groups. As noted in the RAH, games with club linesmen may be counted.

For further information, check with your state referee administrator(s). It is they who apply the policies of the U. S. Soccer Federation.


For proper kick off, do we start the watch first than signal for KO or start the watch after proper KO.

We have the first version in the Procedure and second version from AYSO.

Answer (August 29, 2006):
How about a compromise? When working USSF games, start your watch before kick-off–and remember to add a few seconds in addition to everything else. When working AYSO and less-competitive USYS games, start your watch after kick-off–but remember the perils of possibly forgetting to push the button, quick attacks, lots of action, etc.

The referee needs to remember that the modern competitive game is very fast, right from the very start. There are often many things going on at once. Because a goal can be scored directly from a kick-off, it is vital that the referee be able to observe everything that is happening from the moment of the kick. There simply is no leeway in a high-level game for the referee to be looking down at his watch, possibly fumbling with its controls, while the players are playing! For those reasons, it is better in competitive games to start the watch before the kick-off than to have the kick-off and then forget to start the watch. The referee can always add time later.

This answer was coordinated with AYSO.


I’m [an instructor]. [We] have a question about the 2006/2007 State Referee Exam, which we administered today at our Fall re-certification run and refresher exam clinic.

Question 23 paints a scenario where a substitute enters the field of play and violently tackles an opponent about to take a shot from 2 yards inside the goal area. The question asks whether it is true or false that the Referee should restart with a dropped ball at the edge of the goal area. The answer on the USSF answer key is FALSE.

What are we missing??? If the referee stops play due to the actions of an outside agent, the restart should be a dropped ball, and the special circumstances of Law 8 specify the location of the drop.

We considered that perhaps the reasoning was that the referee stopped play to issue a Send-Off, and the restart would be an Indirect Free Kick, but that should apply only to players who are being cautioned or sent-off for misconduct.

Answer (August 29, 2006):
You seem to have missed the changes in the 2005 Laws of the Game, which include making the restart for illegal entry by a substitute an indirect free kick. Here is the quote, direct from Law 3:
If a substitute enters the field of play without the referee¹s permission:
– play is stopped
– the substitute is cautioned, shown the yellow card and required to leave the field of play
– play is restarted with an indirect free kick at the place the ball was located when play was stopped * (see page 3)

This was also recognized in the IFAB/FIFA Q&A 2006, Law 3, Q&A 5. The Board has, in effect, laid out the general proposition that, if a substitute enters the field illegally, no matter what the substitute subsequently does or has done to him, the restart is ALWAYS determined by the offense that occurred first–the illegal entry onto the field.


A player from our team was in the process of taking a penalty kick when the entire opposing team, both on the field and on the bench started jumping up and down, waving their arms, and screaming at the top of their lungs. Our player shot the ball wide and the referee awarded a goal kick to the opposing team. Was this the correct call? My opinion (as a new grade 8 referee) was that the referee should have yellow carded one of the screaming players for unsporting behavior, warned the coach that a repeat performance would not be tolerated and allowed the PK to be retaken.

Answer (August 29, 2006):
While opposing players are allowed to jump up and down at the taking of a free kick, and a penalty kick would be included within this concept, they are traditionally not allowed to exhibit unsporting behavior. Shouting at an opponent is unsporting behavior. Before having the kick retaken, the referee should notify the captain that if this shouting and screaming is repeated at the retake, all players and substitutes will be cautioned and shown the yellow card and at least one of the coaches will be expelled for failing to behave responsibly–and the kick will be retaken once again. Then, if the shouting and screaming is repeated, the referee must follow through. If the unsporting behavior is repeated yet again, the referee will declare the match abandoned and submit a full report to the competition authority.


Recently I officiated at a youth tournament as both a Center and as an AR. The assignor for this particular tournament requires each Center to submit a game report that in addition to covering the game itself, also contains the Center’s personal assessment of his assigned assistants Š everything from timeliness, uniform, foul recognition, field mechanics. The assignor uses this feedback to assist the development of the referees she assigns. Certainly a very commendable requirement and a great way to help all of our refs improve, particularly our younger refs.

However, one issue surfaced that I am unclear on. I Centered the first game and did a report on my assistants (one an adult, the other a Grade 8 teen). One of the questions I had to answer dealt with if the assistants were wearing the proper referee uniform. I reported that all was OK. But then my adult assistant in game 1 centered the second game of a 3 game set and marked this same teen down for wearing a pair of black shorts on which the Nike swoosh could be seen. I learned of this when the assignor asked me if I had seen the same uniform violation in the game I centered. I saw the swoosh but did not consider it a violation as the rest of the shorts were completely black and of the appropriate length, etc. So I did not report it as a violation. However, both the Assignor and the Center insist that the only proper referee shorts are those that are completely black period. I am not sure this is correct. See below.

The Administrative Handbook for Referees clearly indicates that black shorts are part of the approved referee uniform.

However, the handbook also states in part that “only manufacturer’s logos and U.S. Soccer approved badges and/or emblems may be visible on the referee uniform.”

The quoted portion above would appear to imply that it’s okay for a manufacturer’s emblem to appear on shorts so long as the rest of the garment is black. Thus no white stripes down the seam or anything like that.

I realize that this is hardly a question of monumental importance but the young teen is upset at being marked down for this on the Center’s evaluation of her.

Once again, I applaud the assignor’s desire to improve her stable of refs but believe the admin handbook could be interpreted as allowing the swoosh (or other manufacturer logo such as Law 5 brand name to be visible) on the shorts.

Would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Answer (August 22, 2006):
While the basic color of referee shorts is black, there is no statute compelling referees to wear any particular manufacturer’s uniform. As you point out, the Referee Administrative Handbook does state, regarding Logos, Emblems and Badges: ” Only manufacturer’s logos and U.S. Soccer approved badges and/or emblems may be visible on the referee uniform.” Even clothing supplied by the Federation’s sponsor, Official Sports International, carries a logo.

A competition authority might certainly wish to regulate the uniform of its officials (just as it might the balls or nets used) if, for example, a major sponsor of the tournament or league were a manufacturer with a recognizable logo; however, if a tournament did that, it would be obliged to supply the required uniform, properly logo-ed, to all participating officials.

Apart from any competition authority regulation, evaluators should be more focused on providing feedback on matters that are of far more moment, those that relate to how well the official did the job, rather than on the wearing of a particular type of shorts.


In a B-14 match, after a goal had been scored and prior to the kick off, it was brought to the attention of the referee that the wrong size ball was being used. Apparantly, a size 4 had been thrown in from the bench area, after the size 5 The game had started with had gone over a fence behind the goal, and the referee had not inspected it. To compound the issue, the ball had last touched a defender before crossing the goal line.

In this instance the referee disallowed the goal, replaced the ball with a size 5, and restarted with a dropped ball at the six. Was this correct?

Answer (August 21, 2006):
Let’s look at it from another angle: Nothing occurred in this situation of using a “wrong” sized ball that would have increased the likelihood of scoring. There was no illegal condition that could even possibly be related to the scoring itself. Score the goal and restart with a kick-off. Report full details to the competition authority.

The referee’s failure to inspect the ball cannot be held against the team that scored the goal. After the game the referee should have begun memorizing Laws 2 and 5 verbatim, so as to remember the next time to always inspect all balls that are used in the game


I am getting sick of coaches that instruct their goal keepers’ that it is Ok for them to raise their knees as protection, after catching the ball in traffic. I have maintained that this practice is unacceptable, citing the act as dangerous and unsporting behavior, punishable by a caution (verbal or with the show of a card). What is your take on this issue?

Another issue of contention involve a goalkeeper attempting to pick up a ball, arms stretched, fingers out, and someone (opponent) sliding or attempting to kick the ball. Some coaches’ always screamed “oh,ref….he didn’t have possession). I have always called it and cautioned the offending player. That has not made me very popular. Please advise. A lot is riding on this.

Answer (August 22, 2006):
We provided information on how and when goalkeepers may protect themselves and what they may not do back on January 31, 2005:
May a goalkeeper be called for playing dangerously or fouling an opponent? Surely, but it is a matter for the referee to decide on a case-by-case basis. There is no clear, black-and-white answer. Clearly, the referee’s decision would have to be based on the specific level of risk involved and that, in turn, is a function of the age, experience, and skill of the players.

That does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that goalkeepers are allowed to use their protection under the Spirit of the Laws to harm other players. When leaping for the ball, all players, including goalkeepers, should aim to play the ball at the highest point possible. The striker jumps as high as he can to get his head on the ball, but the goalkeeper has the advantage of needing only to have his hands high enough to play the ball.

If the goalkeeper’s jump appears to be natural, with the knee lifted as part of achieving balance or additional height, then there is probably no foul on the part of the goalkeeper. However, if the lifting of the knee appears to be unnatural or contrived, or if the goalkeeper raises the knee only when the attacker comes near to the ball‹this is a common goalkeeper maneuver to intimidate opponents rather than “self protection” or the equally facile argument that it is used to achieve greater height — the referee may reach the conclusion that the goalkeeper is no longer protecting himself or attempting to gain greater altitude, but is attempting to send a message to the opponent. That sort of play must be punished.

As to goalkeeper possession, we have also defined that many times, probably most clearly on February 12, 2004:
The goalkeeper establishes possession with as little as one finger on the ball, provided the ball is under his control (in the opinion of the referee) and the ball has been trapped against the ground or some other surface — the ‘keeper’s other hand, the ground, or even a goalpost.

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

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

It is not clear from your question/statement just what the circumstances are when you caution players, but the goalkeeper should never be given more protection than he or she is allowed under the Laws of the Game.


I have a question prompted by the recent USSF Memorandum on “Fouls, Misconduct and the Restart of Play” combined with an actual incident that happened in a game yesterday.

In yesterday’s game, Red had possession on the ball near midfield moving towards Blue’s goal. A Blue player fouled a Red attacker in a manner that deserved a caution, but other attackers continued and advantage was applied (and realized). About 10 seconds later the Blue GK cleared the ball and the attack was over (although the ball was still in play).

As the referee, I then immediately stopped play due to two concerns: (1) the two players involved in the foul were still together and I was concerned about retaliation or further escalation of the incident; and (2) the Blue player had a number only on his back (which I could not see during the incident), and I was concerned I would lose track of the guilty party if play continued.

After cautioning the player, we were a little uncertain about the correct restart. Did we stop play to issue a caution (in which case the misconduct should be an IFK from the spot of the misconduct) or did we stop play for another reason (in which case the restart might be a drop ball at the location of the ball)?

It’s been pointed put to me that the far easier solution would have been to allow play to continue until the ball went out of play, but the two factors cited above seemed of greater concern at the time and that stopping play was the better course of action.

Answer (August 22, 2006):
Many referees seem to believe that, when advantage is applied to misconduct, they must wait for a “natural stoppage.” However, we need to remember that Law 9 defines how play stops: the ball leaves the field or the referee stops. Period. Neither is more “natural” than the other. The referee could stop play for an injury, another foul, because it is Tuesday, or because the advantage already applied no longer exists.

Yes, the far easier solution would have been to wait until the ball went out of play, but, as you point out, you had good reason to stop it when you did. Therefore, you must follow the instructions under Law 12, Indirect Free Kicks:
“- commits any other offense, not previously mentioned in Law 12, for which play is stopped to caution or dismiss a player
“The indirect free kick is taken from where the offense occurred.* (see page 3)”


In the July Ask the Referee it was stated: ³Persistent infringement of the Laws refers to violations of Law 12–and not for offside, second touch, illegal throw-in, etc.²

Also, in Advice to Referees it states in 12.28.3: ³It 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.

Both statements seem to make clear the scope for which persistent infringement of the laws can be applied. However, later in 12.28.3 Advice states: ³Examples of persistent infringement include a player whoŠFails to start or restart play properly or promptly, having previously been warned². This seems to contradict the two previous statements, as most restarts are not found under Laws 12 or 14.

The reason I ask this is that I refereed a game last year in which a team consistently on throw-ins ran five to ten yards beyond the point where the ball went out of touch. I pointed to where the throw-ins should be taken and warned players of what was required. I was generally ignored on most first throw-in and I spent a large amount of time stopping play and asking the throw-in be retaken at the appropriate spot.

As throw-ins (Law 15) do not fall under Law 12 or 14, I felt I could not give a misconduct for persistent infringement. Later a fellow referee showed me the example from Advice and said I should have used persistent infringement as the basis for a yellow card.

Could I have used persistent infringement as a basis for misconduct in this situation or is another area of the law applicable?

Answer (August 18, 2006):
The reference to cautioning for persistent infringement if a player delays the restart of play is an error which will be corrected in the next version. In this case you and other referees should take your cue from what is in the 7+7 Memorandum. The other two (persistent commission of Law 12 fouls and a repeated violation of Law 14 after a warning) are consistent with the Advice.


In a men’s open game as center referee I was repeatedly asked, “What’s the call ref?”. It was a type of gamesmanship. I was warned before the game by my AR that this team was a bunch of whiners, I wish he would have elaborated. How is best to handle this situation? It can start to throw you off your game.

Answer (August 14, 2006):
One of the referee’s best management tools is selective hearing.


Recently, at a USSF clinic, a questioned was asked about a scenario in which a 12th player on the field is being cautioned and he has already been cautioned earlier in the game for another offense. The response from the instructors was that the player now had two cautions so he would be shown the red card and expelled from the game. However, they added that since he was an extra player on the field, an additional player now had to be removed because the team would have to play short a man. This didn’t make sense to me but they assured the class that this was the proper procedure. Is this really correct?

Thank you for your time and the great service you provide.

Answer (August 3, 2006):
No, that is not correct. If this player was truly the “extra” player, then his second caution and expulsion were all that was necessary.


Could you tell me if the FIFA disciplinary code, or something similar, applies to games/tournaments that operate under USSF rules. I am specifically talking about the code relative to intentionally losing a game so as to gave some benefit in future opponents or seeding. The FIFA code says:
“Anyone who conspires to distort the result of a match in a manner incompatible with sporting ethics will be sanctioned with a match suspension and a minimum fine of CHF 15,000. The body will also pronounce a ban on performing any football related activity; in serious cases this sanction will apply for life.”

Would this or something similar apply to a USSF competition if it can be shown that a team deliberately loses a game?

Answer (August 3, 2006):
The United States Soccer Federation embraces all elements of the FIFA Disciplinary Code. However, the enforcement of such a provision would be the responsibility of the competition authority (i. e., the organization under which the match in question was played).


This week I was CR at a U14 girl¹s game ­ travel teams with a fair degree of experience and skill. As they game began, I tried to set the tone by some verbal statements, ³Ladies, watch your arms please² perhaps two other remarks. It did set the tone and the ladies responded with respect and paid more attention to the game.

Near the end of the first half, two players were contesting for the ball in front of one AR. One fell to the ground and was beginning to place herself in a position of being involved in dangerous play. She was preparing to play the ball ­ and place herself at some risk. At that point, the AR said with some force, ³Get up. Get up. Get up.² The player jumped to her feet and the game continued.

At the interval, I asked the AR to be careful that his comments not be heard, perhaps as coaching by either teams or coaches. He replied that I had done the same with my ³arms² comments ­ I had given comments that could be understood as coaching. We discussed more at the post game review. He stated his role was to maintain safety for players, and his call to get up was to put them in a safe position. I replied that there were times to be teacher and policeman on the field. That was not a time to teach, but a time to allow the play to develop and enforce the rules. I was concerned that his instruction created an advantage for the non near fouling team as they did not get the ball when play continued.

I know a player can play the ball while on the ground. My question is one of the propriety of instructing a player of an action to take to, essentially, get them away from a fouling situation. Was I right in questioning this action or I am being my all too typical legalistic self? My verbal comments seem different ­ they are aimed at the field, at all players, and not at one.

I¹d appreciate your help. AlsoŠthe AR wanted to discuss this at the interval, and I asked that we delay it until the review. I was afraid of any tension that might get created. Does that make sense?

Answer (August 1, 2006):
Neither one of you was doing any coaching as such, nor were you violating any laws or covenants, written or unwritten. However, and there is always a “however,” this is the sort of issue that needs to be discussed in the pregame meeting of the officials. There should be a clear understanding of the extent to which the referee expects and relies upon the AR to talk with players (about anything), and it must be consistent with what the referee is doing.

There does seem to be a fairly clear distinction between the two comments (assuming they were said as described). The referee’s remark is a general cautionary comment, applied broadly, and rather equivalent to ET’s “Be good.” The AR’s comment, was a command, directed to a specific player, which carried the implication that the player’s behavior was concretely wrong and might potentially subject her to punishment if the AR’s command were not heeded. Nevertheless, you were both supplying valuable information to the players, suggesting that they play the game properly and within the Spirit of the Laws and of the Game.


My question for you involves an issue that came up at an advanced referee clinic recently. The situation involves the interpretation of law 14 in the case where a teammate of the kicker enters within 10 yards of the ball before it is kicked. Our clinic director told us that according to the latest modifications to the laws of the game for this year, that if the ball goes directly into the goalkeepers’ hands after the kick where he could easily play it out, play must be stopped and restarted with an indirect free kick from the place where the infraction occurred. Someone asked if it is possible to apply advantage in this situation and the instructor said that based on changes to the laws of the game last year that it was not.  I know that in France, their version of “Advice to referees on the laws of the game” for 2006 says that this scenario should result in in the referee allowing play to continue under the application of advantage. Since I didn’t want to publicly argue issue at the clinic before doing my homework, I decided to write the director of instruction in the Ligue Rhone-Alpes in France to ask if the French federation still maintained that position. He emailed me back and said that nothing has changed other than the location of the restart (at the location of the infraction) but that advantage is still to be applied in the case where the goalkeeper easily collects the ball after the kick. In the end, I think there is a misinterpretation of law 14 in this case by someone, either by the Federation Francaise de Football (FFF), US Soccer Federation (USSF), or the clinic’s instructor. I don’t want to cause any problems and just want to make sure that I know what the correct answer is since it involves either stopping play or not stopping play.

Answer (July 29, 2006):
Without going into whether or not the application of the advantage clause would apply or not, we can say that the infringement by the teammate was trifling, because the ball wound up in the hands of the ‘keeper. In other words, the intrusion had no impact on the play and thus should be ignored.


At kickoff is it legal for a player to rake the ball forward then rake it back to a teammate having his foot never leave the ball during the maneuver. Was the ball put into play because it was moved forward? If it is not a legal play what would the call be?

Answer (July 27, 2006):
We all need to remember that the kick-off is simply a way to get the game restarted after one team has scored a goal. While the requirement is indeed to kick, not “rake,” the ball so that it moves from “here” to “there,” referees over the years have been so lax in enforcing the Law that players have taken advantage of this laziness and invented their own methods of kicking off, including the “raking” and having the kicker’s teammate clearly in the opponent’s end of the field at the time of the restart. The intelligent referee will catch this foolishness the first time it occurs (for each team, of course) and have the players take the kick correctly. As the ball is not in play, the kick-off cannot be given to the other team instead.


This may be a fallacy, but I heard a rumor that USSF and OSI are trying to introduce a green uniform to be worn along with the other four. Now this is probably just a false rumor, but have there been talks about having a green uniform?

Answer (July 24, 2006):
We are not aware of any plans or decisions to add another color to the accepted list for referee shirts. Anything to do with the color of the referee uniform is the responsibility of the USSF Board of Directors, not the Referee Committee.


I recently viewed a replay of an EPL game from last season. As a referee runs up the field, the assistant referees are normally in front to the right and behind to the left. That is, the referee would be running a diagonal to the left. (If you see the game on TV, the assistants would appear on the lower right and upper left of the screen.) However, in this game the assistant referees were on the opposite sides (meaning in front to the left and behind to the right of the referee) and the referee was running a diagonal to the right.

Other than poor field conditions, what would cause a referee crew to use this type of coverage?

Answer (July 22, 2006):
The left diagonal (from lower right to upper left of the field) is fairly traditional here in the United States, no matter what the level of play, unless the field conditions call for using the right diagonal.

Although it is no longer much taught or used, at least in the United States, the rationale for running both the right and left diagonals (one in the first half, the other in the second half) was to provide a different view of the players. The referee who viewed the players while running the left diagonal in the first half might decide that it would better serve game management to run the other diagonal in the second half. It is, of course, possible to switch during a period; this would not violate any regulations or time-honored principles and might be the best solution for dealing with misconduct or unusual team tactics. One other reason to switch at the half might be to get the other AR to take responsibility of a “difficult” bench.

Here is a fact about switching diagonals that many people will not remember: During the days of the NASL, when many teams shared fields with Major League Baseball, the referees always ran both diagonals, switching at the half. Stadium owners demanded that this be done to protect their fields. If they did not switch, the linesmen, now called assistant referees, would wear paths into the surface of the field through their constant movement along the lines and spoil the field for baseball.

Finally, we would be remiss if we did not remind readers that the “diagonal” is no longer strictly a diagonal line, running from one corner of the field to the other. It is simply an old term for a now outmoded form of sharing the burden of game management between the on-field “chief,” the referee, and the assistant referees. Referees should be flexible and they and the ARs should follow the GUIDELINES given in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Official.”


In a championship game yesterday, a coach decided not to continue after 15 minutes into the game. His reasoning was that he did not have any substitute and he was afraid that some of his players were going to get hurt. I obviously ended the game and simply reported the incidence on the game card. I was told by the assignor and the District Referee Coordinator that I should have red carded the coach!! This was a USSF sanctioned game. I do not recall seeing anything in regards to red carding a coach for refusing to continue with the game. Could you please direct me to a proper position paper or article that covers such directive?

Answer (July 19, 2006):
Unless the rules of the competition specify it, no coach or other team official may be shown a card of any color in this or any other case. In any event, the referee has no authority to force a team to play if they do not wish to continue a game nor to terminate the match in such a case. The referee must simply do as you did: abandon the game and include all pertinent details in the match report.


If a player leaves the field to correct equipment, re-enters the field without permission of any official, and subsequently scores a goal before anyone notices that he has re-entered illegally, does the goal stand?

I would think the goal would stand, since he/she is a player, but a caution would be issued.

Answer (July 19, 2006):
A player who has been given permission or was ordered to leave the field to repair equipment or for medical treatment or clean-up of blood must have the referee’s permission to return. If this player returns to the field illegally, he or she must be removed and be cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without the referee’s permission. The goal cannot be allowed. As the game was stopped only at the scoring of the goal, the correct restart is a goal kick.


I read your [July 11, 2006] response to the Zidane head butt incident which got me to wondering. I, like the previous writer, thought that there was no going back to an incident after a restart. So then by following your logic, please discuss this situation:

AR signals (with a flag wag) a foul which the referee misses. Ball goes over goal line and referee restarts the game with a corner that goes in the net for a goal. AR makes the referee aware that there was a foul that was signaled and missed by referee prior to the corner restart. Goal or no goal? What is the restart? Why did the referee in the world Cup final restart after the Zidane incident with a dropped ball? And practically speaking, how far back in time (after how many restarts) can the referee go to correct a missed foul in the past?

You are a fantastic resource out there for us struggling in the trenches. You responses are thoughtful, consistent and humorous. I enjoy your forum tremendously.

Answer (July 17, 2006):
Aw, shucks!

If the foul prior to the corner kick restart was committed by the kicking team, the referee may decide to cancel the goal scored from the corner kick and go back to the foul. If the foul was committed by the defending team, the intelligent referee will simply allow the goal and restart with a kick-off.

The referee in the France-Italy game stopped play because of an apparent injury to Materazzi and to consult with his assistant referees and fourth official. Thus he was forced to restart with a dropped ball because, according to Law 8, a “dropped ball is a way of restarting the match after a temporary stoppage that becomes necessary, while the ball is in play, for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game.” If the referee had had credible evidence of the serious misconduct before he stopped play, then the correct restart would have been an indirect free kick.

As to how many restarts the referee could overturn in punishing a foul or misconduct, the answer is not firm, but common sense dictates that it not be more than one. Otherwise too much time will have elapsed. If it was misconduct, the referee will simply note the fact in the match report. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for an assistant referee to fail to communicate serious misconduct to the referee in any way possible before a first restart, much less a second.


I am currently in a soccer class and my teacher posed a question on what the infraction would be in this situation: The red team takes a shot on goal from outside the blue team’s penalty area. The blue goalkeeper knows that he can not make the save and will be scored on. However, the blue goalkeeper rather than trying to make the save, decides that he will physically pull the cross bar down and flip over the entire goal so that the ball can not enter the goal. The ball does not enter the goal (because of the goalkeeper’s unfair action). By doing this the goal keeper has denied an obvious goal.

What is the restart? Where is the restart? Why is restart at that location? What is the misconduct (card given) if any given for?

Answer (July 12, 2006):
The goalkeeper has committed at least one misconduct offense: Bringing the game into disrepute through his unsporting behavior (for which he could be cautioned) of moving the goal. Although it might appear that the ‘keeper was denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards his goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick (for which he could be sent off), there is not enough information to support that.  Your instructor has not told us how many defenders were between the kicker and the goal. If there was more than one defender, not counting the defender/player (in this case the goalkeeper) who committed the infringement), then there was no obvious goal scoring opportunity.

The restart is an indirect free kick for the opposing team. The indirect free kick is taken from where the offense occurred. In this case, the free kick would be taken from the spot on the goal area line that runs parallel to the goal line that is nearest to the place where the goalkeeper pulled down the goal.

If this extremely unlikely scenario actually occurs somewhere, the people responsible for the field have not done their job before the game. They have not ensured that the goal is properly secured to the ground, as required in Law 1: “Goals must be anchored securely to the ground. Portable goals may only be used if they satisfy this requirement.” If the goal was properly secured, no goalkeeper would have the time the scenario requires to have pulled down the goal. He would have had time only to begin bawling out his teammates for allowing the shot in the first place.


Does an assessor, working a game, have any responsibility similar to a 4th official to report to the referee an incident he saw but that the referee team did not observe (one player striking and seriously injuring an opponent)?

Answer (July 11, 2006):
Absolutely not! The assessor should have been taught in assessment training courses to keep his or her opinions to him- or herself until the postgame conference. An assessor should never interfere in any way in a game.


It is my understanding that if the referee wants to caution or eject player he/she must do so before the restart of play. If team restarts play quickly, referee must whistle right away to stop action and give appropriate card. In Sunday’s world cup final why was a card given to Zidane after play had restarted for a while after a handball by Del Pierro. Not trying to write that Zidane’s action didn’t merit an ejection but in my opinion the game had been restarted for too long for the referee to stop the game because of “injury” to Italian player and . Then Italian goalkeeper runs for 40 yds to referee to bring to his attention Zidane’s action, then referee consults all his assistants then give card to Zidane. This appears to be a violation of the laws of the game, same as issuing three yellow cards in one game.

Here is the chain of events:
– he blows the whistle at 17:57 of the OT and points for a French free kick (del Piero had just gone down on the ball and touched it with his arm). you can hear the whistle and there really is no other interpretation of what he called or signaled. at this point, the ball is probably 16 yards from midfield, slightly closer to the side of the field where the main camera is.

– at 18:00, he again signals in the direction of a French free kick and the ball is placed down by the French player with his hands and kicked to another French player standing right at midfield on the edge of the center circle furthest away from the side of the field where the main camera is.
– at 18:04, he blows the whistle to stop play for the injury and heads downfield to tend to the injured player.
– at 21:18, after giving the card, he returns to the edge of the center circle just on the Italian side of midfield and gives a drop ball. and, to the extent there was any doubt, the ball is dropped to Italy, who then play it back to France since they were in possession when play was stopped.

Answer (July 12, 2006):
While it may have seemed slightly irregular to send off Zidane after play had restarted following his violent conduct, it was perfectly correct. The referee is bound to caution or send off a player prior to the restart only if he or she has seen or been made aware of the incident prior to that restart. If the referee chooses to allow the restart after having seen the infringement, then nothing further can be done about it other than noting it in the match report. If, as in the case of Zidane’s violent conduct, the referee does not learn of it from one of the ARs or the fourth official until after the restart, then the referee may punish the misconduct as soon as he or she learns of it. There is no referee error here.


An assessor asks: The other day I assessed a PDL match. The visiting team went up 2-0 in the second half. Frustration popped here and there but nothing serious. My concern was drawn by the activity of the visiting team taking advantage of the situation with several dives by different players. These guys were good and the referee was talking to them however it continued with different team members.

Is there anything in the Federation’s teachings to deal with continual dives taking by different players on the same team? I am thinking of something like persistent fouls by different members on the same team against a member of the other team.

If I were the referee, I would start issuing yellow cards until the cows came home or they stopped. But that’s really not the answering I am looking for.

Let me know the proper way to deal with this issue if there is one.

Answer (July 5, 2006):
If players are diving, then they should be punished. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be cautioned immediately for unsporting behavior for their simulation; they can be left there, flopping around, until the referee has the opportunity to deal with it. If they are out of the game temporarily then their team suffers from one fewer player and will find it more difficult to play.

Persistent infringement of the Laws refers to violations of Law 12–and not for offside, second touch, illegal throw-in, etc. Certainly these players can be punished for persistent infringement for their serial misconduct, because the Law doesn’t specify that the infringement be a foul. The question is “why” the referee would apply the persistent infringement model to a continued pattern of simulation/dives without already having given the specified caution for unsporting behavior.


I’ve noticed that the referees at the World Cup during the taking of kicks from the penalty mark used to break a tie don’t seem to be enforcing the rule “the defending goalkeeper: remains on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goal posts until the kick has been taken.”

In almost every instance of this at the World Cup the goal keepers have been moving forward just prior to the ball being struck. Why is this being allowed? Why aren’t the teams affected protesting?

Answer (July 5, 2006):
In point of fact, the goalkeepers at World Cup 2006 have been much better about staying on their goal lines and any infringements have been exceedingly minor.

Referees are expected to enforce this aspect of the Law the same way they are supposed to enforce ALL the Laws of the Game–with a minimum of stoppages and only when the violation clearly made a difference. The World Cup is not, after all, schoolboy soccer.


Does US Soccer mandate the usage of cards for players in order to sanction a player? In other words….let’s say the entire referee team does not have any cards with them at that particular game and the referee wants to either caution or send off a player . Can this only be done is using cards, or can they send the player by simply telling them to leave the field?

I realize that the LOTG are pretty clear….. caution and show the yellow card/send off and show the red card. But what happens if you don’t have any cards (for whatever reason) with you? Does this negate the ability to sanction a player? Granted, this shouldn’t happen. Someone on the ref team should have cards….but…..

Answer (June 30, 2006):
While the Law may require cards, if the referee was so forgetful (and the ARs, too) as to bring cards, they should make do with a simple verbal notification. It would be best to then pass the information on to both captains–who may or may not remember to tell their coaches.

An alternative might be to create “cards” when it is discovered that no one brought any–two pieces of paper with “YELLOW” handwritten on one and “RED” written on the other.

Of course, if no one brought cards, perhaps no one brought paper, pens, pencils, whistles, etc. (Perhaps they had better check to see if they are wearing shorts.)


We have been instructed to adhere to the procedure
Issue Card

I have noticed that in the world cup, the referees have followed Isolate, Issue Card, Book. Is the USSF still asking/requiring referees to follow the former?

Players usually know the card is coming. By asking them to remain in close proximity while you book seems to only frustrate them further. Then, you run the risk of losing your composure and would be tempted to issue a second for dissent when the player walks away (I have never done this , but have seen refs carry that chip on their shoulder for the rest of the game.)

Not a major part of the game, but any clarification would be appreciated.

Answer (June 29, 2006):
The correct procedure for giving cards is found in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials”:
The referee does the following things:
– Makes clear verbally and/or by pointing to the whistle that play may not be restarted except by the referee¹s signal
– Quickly identifies and begins moving toward offending player while beckoning the player to approach
– Attempts to draw offending player away from teammates and opponents
– Discourages others from approaching, interfering or participating
– Stops a reasonable distance away from offending player and begins recording necessary information
– States clearly and concisely that the player is being cautioned or sent from the field and displays the appropriate card by holding it straight overhead
– If the player is being sent off, delays the restart of play until the player has left the field entirely
– In situations where the event or conduct being penalized includes the potential for retaliation or further misconduct, immediately moves to the location of the misconduct and displays the appropriate card before recording any information

A benefit of following this guidance is to help the referee ensure that no mistake has been made in the procedure, such as forgetting that a player has already been cautioned.


LAW 12 states: A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following six offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:
– kicks or attempts to kick an opponent

Two players are attempting to win a 50/50 ball ( no player has control of the ball ). Player A reaches the ball just in time to clear the ball, however kicks Player B in the knee cap with his followthrough swing. Is this a violation of LAW 12?

Answer (June 26, 2006):
Was the act careless on the part of the “kicker”? If so, then it is a foul. If it was simply a case of follow through after making contact with the ball and clearly NOT meant to harm the opponent, then there is no foul. In short, you had to be there.


I am a young referee, but have been doing it for about 5 years now and just finished a center for a U-13 boys state championship. In the half time discussion I had some experienced ARs and we had a small situation about corner kicks that lead to another question.
Situation 1: The attacking team decides to take a short corner, placing two people over the ball. Both posts have defenders right on the goal line including the keeper who is in the net. The ball is played from offensive player A to player B at which point no one pulls off the line. Before Player A enters the field after taking the kick the ball is played back to him. He is clearly over the goal line, but he keeps the ball in play. Is he offsides seeing as how he is clearly behind the second to last defender, but it is on the goal line. I came to the conclusion to let it play with no offsides. Was this the proper decision?
Situation 2: The attacking team looks like they are going to do a short corner, but Player A leaves the area and enters the box, however, when he leaves he gives the ball a slight nudge on the way by without anyone else noticing. Player B waits until the defenders have left him and follow Player A into the box then proceeds to dribble into the box unguarded. Is this a caution do to the play not being in “the spirit of the game” or is this something I should allow?

I am very interested to hear your response and I greatly appreciate your services, it is a big help to referees trying to improve and learn like myself. Thanks

Answer (June 26, 2006):
1. While no player can be offside directly from a corner kick, the same is not true as soon as any other player on the kicker’s team plays the ball. Although the kicker had been off the field and the defenders did not leave the posts, the kicker should be declared offside when his teammate plays the ball back to him and he enters the field to play it.

2. If the ball has been moved even a short distance from “here” to “there,” it is now in play. If there was a kicking motion this play is legal. It would not have been legal if the player simply tapped the top of the ball or brushed it with his foot–and did not move it from “here” to “there.”

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