Entries related to Procedure-Ref


July 10, 2008

This subject probably has been beaten into the ground before but in my referee association interpretations are all over the map. In Advice to Referees, Law 13 – Free Kicks, 13.3 says “The referee should move quickly out of the way after indicating the approximate area of the restart and should do nothing to interfere with the kicking team’s right to an immediate free kick .  At competitive levels of play, referee should not automatically “manage the wall”, but should allow the ball to be put back into play as quickly as possile, unless the kicking team requests help in dealing with opponents infringing on the minimum distance .”  13.5  (first paragraph) says “If the referee decides to delay the restart and to enforce the required minimum distance…”  Second paragraph  says “If one or more opponents fail to respect the required distance before the ball is properly put into play, the referee should stop the restart to deal with this infringement.”  The italics are mine.

So here is how I would manage a free kick:  A) Indicate spot where kick is to be taken.  B) Move away to observe kick.  C)  If attacking team asks for ten yards, move defense (wall) ten yards from ball and tell attackers not to play ball until signal is given (I also read Law 13 to say that a whistle is not required, only a “clear signal”).  D)  Give signal for restart. E)  If a defender intrudes upon the required distance on the restart, I could whistle a retake, and give a caution, if the defender’s action interferes with the restart (I would play advantage if not).  F)  If ten yards is not asked for, and a defender purposely interferes with the restart I may whistle a retake and issue a caution depending upon the outcome of the restart.  On any restart I would not call for a retake if the defenders interfered with the play but the attackers maintained advantage.  I know things vary slightly with different levels of soccer, but I am talking about competitive level.

Some referees will always tell defenders to back off and or/manage the entire restart without a “ten yards” request from the attackers.  Am I erring in some way?  Should I back off defenders? Or is the way I now manage a free kick OK?  I would appreciate an answer from an authority, USSF, so I can argue the correct points.

USSF answer (July 10, 2008):
Whatever works for you, //name deleted//, but there are some other things to consider.

The sequence you describe works fairly well with a couple of minor exceptions. First, regarding “step” (C), be aware that not every time the ten yards is asked for does it actually need to be enforced. Make a quick judgment as to whether in fact the opponents are far enough away and, if they are, order the attackers to proceed with the restart. Second, also regarding step (C), you may not have intended it but the actions in this step are reversed — if requested to enforce the minimum distance, the first action you need to take is to state clearly (by word and/or commonly understood gesture) that the restart cannot occur except by your signal and then back the opponents up the necessary distance. Third, in situations where an opponent attempts to interfere from within ten yards but is unsuccessful (and therefore you choose not to caution), don’t ever forget the value of talking to or warning the player about his or her behavior. Finally, vary the procedure as needed so long as you honor the basic underlying principle — namely, the opponents have no rights in a free kick situation, their actions are already suspect and they must generally be on the best behavior, so your job is to intrude as little as possible and let the attackers control the situation. That is, after all, why we call it a FREE kick.


July 9, 2008

a friend of mine is a State 1 from MA, and told me the following scenario that occurred to him in a recent match:

Ball is in attacking third for ‘keeper’s team, so AR is watching play, while maintaining position regarding senond-last defender. As the AR turns his head, he becomes aware of the attacking team’s ‘keeper standing in his own goal, with his back to the play, relieving himself.

When my friend relayed this to me, my initial thought was a caution for leaving w/out permission. However, the AR brought up the viable position of an ejection for Abusive Language and/or Gestures.

What do you think? For what it’s worth, he did not inform the referee of the situation at any time.

USSF answer (July 9, 2008):
A referee of any grade level should know better than to withhold information from the referee in charge of the match. While we appreciate the goalkeeper’s obvious wish to both irrigate and fertilize the grass in the goal, this is unsporting behavior — bringing the game into disrepute — and the goalkeeper must be cautioned and shown the yellow card.


July 1, 2008

During an actual international friendly match at an overseas location, Team A is down by one goal. Player A1 on his own half of the field, takes a long kick which travels long towards the goalkeeper of team D. At the time of the kick, forward player A2 is on off-side position 5 yards passed midfield. Player A2 makes an attempt to run for the ball, but abandons his attempt after taking 2 or 3 steps towards the ball realizing he has no chance of reaching it. Assistant Referee One (AR1) decides not to raise his flag since the ball quickly traveled all the way down the field inside the Penalty area of goalkeeper D. AR1 quickly sprints towards the goalkeeper’s position following the ball. The goalkeeper controls the ball with his feet and starts dribbling it around the Penalty area, but never picks up or touches the ball with his hands. Approximately, 10 seconds later, forward player A2 realizing the goalkeeper D is attempting to consume time, starts running towards goalkeeper D. Player A2 reaches the Penalty area and is able to steal the ball from goalkeeper D. Player A2 scores a goal.

The Center referee (REF) and AR1 signal for a goal.  Team D complains and calls for an Off-side.
Game is resumed with a kick off and ends 15 minutes later.

Was AR1 wrong by not raising his flag for the off-side when it initially took place?
When is an off-side considered over and a new play started, if the game is never stopped for any reason by the referee?
Was AR1 supposed to raise his flag as soon as he realized player A2 is running towards goalkeeper D, 10 seconds later?.
Were the REF and AR1 correct by allowing the goal?
Does the Spirit of the Game, and Spirit of the Law have any weight in this scenario?.

This scenario has created a lot of controversy at the overseas location where I officiate.

USSF answer (July 1, 2008):
This following answer applies to games played in the United States. We cannot be responsible for what might be permitted in “the overseas location” where you officiate.

A player’s offside position must be reevaluated whenever (1) the ball is again touched or played by a teammate; (2) the ball is played (possessed and controlled, not simply deflected) by an opponent, including the opposing goalkeeper, or (3) the ball goes out of play — which is not applicable in this scenario.

The result of this reevaluation, of course, may be that the player remains in an offside position based on still being beyond the second-to-last defender, the ball, and the midfield line. Referees must remember that a player cannot simply run to an onside position and become involved in play. The player’s position with relation to the ball and the opponents must change in accordance with the Law.

If the goalkeeper has clearly established possession and control of the ball, as suggested in your scenario, then player A2 is now relieved of his offside position and may play the ball.

To answer your questions as they occur: AR1 was correct. We have shown how A2 is no longer offside if he stopped his initial play for the ball and then waited the ten seconds to begin running after the ball now clearly in the goalkeeper’s possession and control. No, the AR was not supposed to raise the flag in this case. Yes, the referee was correct in allowing the goal — the AR has no say there. The Spirit of the Laws and of the Game were not injured here.

1) In a recent game, a player was quite disrespectful towards me, and even twice, in the same conversation, used foul language (“F” word), as well as asked “have you ever refereed before?” I was extremely nice, as I only cautioned him, given that it was his first time playing in the league. I simply asked that he act maturely like all other players in the league (who for the most part respect my calls, given that most think I’m a good ref who properly knows/enforces the Laws of the Game). When I asked his name (we’re required to obtain the name in this league–unfortunately, no ID cards are issued), he refused to give it to me (simply laughed and again mocked me). I strongly suggested he provide it unless he wanted to see a red card. After the game, and over the course of the next few days, I’ve become upset with myself for not issuing a red card during the match for his various acts of dissent, as well as for a lack of any signs of contrition (no apology by him, only by his captain). My question to you (I’m sure the answer is ‘no’): I know that one can ‘downgrade’ a card from red to yellow, but is there precedent for one to ‘upgrade’ a card from yellow to red? If so, please point me directly to the source (couldn’t find it on your or FIFA’s website), so that I can show the commissioner, as well as his captain. This guy needs to learn a lesson.

2) If a player like this shouts dissentful remarks while the ball is in play, I just want to make sure of where the restart is (near him or where the ball was when the whistle was blown) supposed to take place. Alternatively, shall I wait next time until play stops (out of bounds) until issuing a card? His words were so egregious that I stopped play immediately.

3) In a recent game, a goalkick was started with the FB passing wide to the GK. The GK became nervous with pressure by the opposing FW, and simply dribbled back to his box, where, once inside, he fell on the ball and used his hands. This incident isn’t your normal passback situation where it leads to an indirect free kick. My question: is such a play permissible, or should it also lead to an indirect free kick for the other team? Thank you.

USSF answer (July 1, 2008):
1) When a player clearly “uses offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures” toward the referee or any other participant in the game, that player is sent off. No cautions, and no ifs, ands, or buts. If the player will not give the referee his/her name, then the referee should get it from the captain. And no, once given, a send-off cannot be downgraded to a caution if the game has been restarted. Nor may a caution normally be changed to a send-off once the game has restarted. The referee must simply include all pertinent details in the match report.

2) If the referee stops play for misconduct while the ball is in play, the restart is an indirect free kick from the place where the offense occurred. In this case, where the player uses offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures.

3) This situation is indeed the classic offense of the goalkeeper playing the ball with his hands after it was kicked deliberately to him by a teammate. The restart is an indirect free kick for the opposing team from the place where the goalkeeper played the ball with his hands (bearing in mind the requirements listed in Law 13 regarding indirect free kicks inside the goal area.

When a goal is scored, do you blow your whistle and point up field running backwards to the center? Or just point up field and run backwards to the center line – no whistle.

This topic comes up by our junior refs as they maintain that the Pro refs on TV never blow the whistle when a goal is scored.

USSF answer (July 1 2008):
Referees on the professional game do this because they are following the instructions in the Laws of the Game (Additional Instructions and Guidelines for Referees in 2007/2008; Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees in 2008/2009).

Use of whistle
The whistle is needed to:
• start play (1st, 2nd half), after a goal
• stop play
– for a free kick or penalty kick
– if match is suspended or terminated [Note: For 2008/2009 “terminated” has been changed to “abandoned”]
– when a period of play has ended due to the expiration of time
• restart play at
– free kicks when the wall is ordered back the appropriate distance
– penalty kicks
• restart play after it has been stopped due to
– the issue of a yellow or red card for misconduct
– injury
– substitution
The whistle is NOT needed
• to stop play for:
– a goal kick, corner kick or throw-in
– a goal
• to restart play from
– a free kick, goal kick, corner kick, throw-in
A whistle which is used too frequently unnecessarily will have less impact when it is needed. When a discretionary whistle is needed to start play, the referee should clearly announce to the players that the
restart may not occur until after that signal.


June 24, 2008

I know that extra signals are something that is frowned upon by the games under the aegis of the USSF. However, would it be appropriate in the pregame discussion as a assistant to let a center know that you are going to put your flag halfway up; that is running with it slightly raised as opposed to down at your side? The biggest trouble I am having with players or fans is when I am waiting to determine if the player in an offside position or the player who was not in an offside postion(at the time the ball was played to them by a teammate) will make the next play on the ball.

USSF answer (June 24, 2008):
We are not certain that this unofficial signal would do much to help you. Our fear is that it might confuse everyone, the busy referee, the players, and those wonderful spectators, by suggesting that the flag was about to be raised the entire way in the next instant. We recommend a wait-and-see posture instead.

The Federation does not necessarily frown on unofficial signals, but the USSF Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees provides a set of standard signals that should not be changed lightly — other signals may be used provided they meet certain criteria (spelled out in the Guide itself).

i saw this school game when the referee given the Blue Team number 9 a yellow in the 1st Half. During the 2nd Half, the Red Team number 9 committed a foul and the referee give him a yellow card, but referee thought that the number was given the 2nd yellow card, he gave him the red card. That direct free kick resulted as a goal. The referee realised the mistake after the coach complaining and ask the Red Team number 9 to continue with the play. The referee restart the ball with a centre kickoff.

I understand that the referee made the mistake for allowing the goal as the goal scoring team has more players on the field due to the referee mistake. In the case, the goal should be disallowed, but the restart will be that direct free kick again?

USSF answer (June 23, 2008):
Under the Laws of the Game, once the referee has restarted the game, he or she cannot change what happened before the restart. Therefore the Red number 9 remains sent off and his team must play short for the rest of the game. j The referee must include full details of the entire incident in the match report.

The goal stands and the restart is a kick-off, at least in the United States of America.

The various scenarios about the Holland-Italy goal put forth on “Referee Week in Review” are very thorough and I hope every referee is aware of each of them. However I do have some questions on Scenario 5. It addresses the hypothetical that “the Italian defender is clearly injured and off the field of play,” and states:

“The referee makes a decision that the defender is seriously injured and cannot return to play by himself. Once the referee has acknowledged the seriousness of the injury, the player may not participate in the play and must not be considered to be in active play (at this point, he would not be considered in determining offside position and should not be considered in the equation as either the first or second last opponent). For purposes of Law 11, the defender is considered to be on the goal line for calculating offside position.

This player, however, may not return to play without the referee’s permission. Remember, the referee is instructed in Law 5 to stop the game only for serious injury.”

Under this scenario, the referee must “acknowledge the seriousness of the injury” and, once this is done, the player cannot participate in the play nor return to play without the referee’s permission. My question is how, in a situation as we had in Holland-Italy, the referee could inform the downed player or anyone else that this player no longer counted for any offside determination and also could not re-enter the field. If play continued upfield, the referee could not possibly get near enough to the downed player to issue any instructions and, even if he could, most players on the field likely would be unaware of the exact situation. How would the attackers know where to line up to stay onside? How would the downed defender, if he got up and was able to continue play, know that he was not allowed to re-enter the field?

Any clarification of what to do in this situation – both for the U15-18 level and for higher level games – would be much appreciated.

My instinct would be to either count the downed player or else decide his injury is severe enough to stop play.

USSF answer (June 23 2008):
In the case under discussion, the goal was scored within three seconds of Panucci leaving the field after being pushed by his teammate, Buffon. That was not enough time for the referee to make any determination as to whether or not an injury existed, much less to judge its seriousness.

Soccer is a contact sport. The referee is required to stop play if, in his or her opinion, a player is seriously injured. He or she does not stop play for a slight injury. Remember that referees will rarely stop play within three seconds. If it’s clearly a severe injury, such as to the head, then yes, there should be an immediate stoppage. However, referees will usually take more than three seconds to make a judgment on the extent of a player’s injury. Panucci was at most slightly injured, if at all. He got up after the goal and did not need any treatment. In addition, it makes little difference whether he fell on or off the field of play. He could have fallen in the goal area. He had been part of the defense and still was part of play, part of the move, part of the game, when the goal was scored.

In regards to Law 12, awarding an Indirect Free Kick to the opposing team when the goal keeper “. . . takes more than six seconds while controlling the ball with his hands before releasing it from his possession”, there was a situation on a recent adult match.

During “active play”, the ball is picked-up by the goal keeper legally within his penalty area, and upon realizing that he was taking a bit long in releasing the ball back into play, I announced “six-seconds, keeper”. The keeper then drops the ball in front of him and begins to move the ball with his feet while still inside his own penalty area. The keeper was still trying to find one of his teammates to pass the ball to, and I announced “six-seconds” once again.

The two announcements of the six-second warning happened in about a four-second window, and then the keeper kicked the ball outside the penalty area.

After the second verbal announcement I made, one of the goal keeper’s teammates told me that the keeper was not in violation of the six-second rule because the keeper had released the ball from his position, thus the ball now being in active-play.

I was not sure if the actions explained here that the keeper took to not be in violation of the six-second time-limit was valid, thus avoided being cautioned for wasting time.

Could you please elaborate if in this situation the goal keeper violated the six-second rule, or not?

USSF answer (June 16, 2008):
Technically the goalkeeper must release the ball within six seconds of having established full control, which would not count rising from the ground or stopping their run (if they had to run) to gain the ball. However, goalkeepers throughout the world routinely violate the six-second rule without punishment if the referee is convinced that the goalkeeper is making a best effort.

Your warning to the goalkeeper was correct, at least on the first offense. However, once the ‘keeper has released the ball from his or her hands, the ball is now available for anyone to play with their feet — including the goalkeeper.


June 4, 2008

A fourth official observes an offense worthy of a send-off during play, but it is not seen by either the referee or ARs. What can the fourth official do?

USSF answer (June 4, 2008):
We know from the Laws of the Game that the fourth official “assists the referee at all times.” The fourth official must also “indicate to the referee when the wrong player is cautioned because of mistaken identity or when a player is not sent off having been seen to be given a second caution or when violent conduct occurs out of the view of the referee and assistant referees” and also “has the authority to inform the referee of irresponsible behavior by any occupant of the technical area.” So it is clear that the fourth official has the authority to advise the referee in matters of game management and player control.

This is reinforced in the Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials, where we learn that the fourth official “Notifies the referee as quickly as possible if a player or substitute has . . . committed violent conduct out of the view of the referee and assistant referees.”

The answer is analogous to the situation of the assistant referee who observes serious misconduct and begins to flag it before the ball next goes out of play; even though the game may have restarted before the referee sees the flag, the AR must keep the flag up (and call out, if necessary) to gain the referee’s attention.

In the situation you cite, the fourth official must do whatever is necessary and possible to gain the referee’s attention as quickly and expediently as possible. Depending on where each of the members of the officiating team is at the moment, it might be best for the fourth official to call to the referee directly, if he or she is nearby, or, if the senior AR is nearby, to use the AR’s means of communication to get the referee’s attention. Allowing too much time to pass while being polite and circumspect in notifying the referee would only worsen the inevitable tension between the players and lead to loss of control by the referee.


June 4, 2008

At a recent tournament in San Francisco, I was working with a State referee. He was the referee of the match. The pre-game went like this. “I am going to make your job very easy. You are not to call any fouls. The only job that you have is to monitor the offside. The new mandate on a professional level and MLS is to have the referee call all the fouls so we don’t have three different types of foul calls on the pitch.” I have a hard time believing this guy. I have not seen any memorandum indicating such suggestions. If this is a new thing that I am not aware of please show or direct me to such mandate. If is pure fabrication on this referee/assessor/instructor part then we have a problem. If his pre-game/assessment/instruction to young referees of such then this horse pucky is being passed on to other poor referees that only going to believe such non-sense.  

To what extent does USSF allow referees to massage laws of the game and make up their own ideas and rules as they go along? Please advise.

USSF answer (June 4, 2008):
The Federation does not do any such thing. Current guidance for referee working games under the aegis of the U. S. Soccer Federation is covered comprehensively in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials.”

This “State referee” would seem to be doing what was common practice throughout the world 30-40 years ago, Things have changed a lot since then, as those of us who were around at that time are happy to testify.

Please go over the following for me kindly..

During the FIFA World Cup matches, it appears the referee and possibly the AR’s the 4th man appears to have had a small head set (like one may use for our cell phones for hand free use) who had access to the this communication link..and was it like a conference line bridge between all the referees and a major FIFA official “upstairs in stands”?

Also Are you aware of any proposals being put forth on the Agenda for the Football Board meeting next year in Early 2009   that would make use of replay for limited situations like in the NFL?

USSF answer (May 19, 2008):
The system is used by the working crew only, with no other people plugged in. We have no idea whether video replay will be on the IFAB agenda for 2009 — but would tend to doubt it. We have heard nothing one way or the other.