Entries related to Interpretations/IFAB
September 10, 2013
In a U12 game in which the halves are supposed to be 30 minutes long, what is a referee to do if she discovers that after the first half has ended, the first half was played for 35 minutes instead of 30? Advice to Referees discusses what to do if a half is too short, but I don’t see anything about what to do if it’s too long. (Let’s assume there is no need for added time as allowed for by Law 7.)
Matches are supposed to have two equal halves, but does this apply if the first half was incorrectly too long? Should the second half be 30 minutes or 35 minutes?
Answer (September 10, 2013):
There is little in the Laws covering this unfortunate event. However, these words from the Laws (back in the Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees, under Law 7) may be helpful: “The referee must not compensate for a timekeeping error during the first half by increasing or reducing the length of the second half.”
The intelligent referee, i.e., one who is smart and quick on his mental feet, will simply describe the extra time as “taking into account time lost” — not true, of course, but an overly long half is easier to “explain” than a half which is short by any amount.
September 4, 2013
Team A wins a corner on the bench side. I’m positioned at the intersection of near side penalty arc and penalty area (solo ref).
Team A player goes to retrieve the ball. While Team A player retrieves the ball, his teammate exits the field from the near side goal line, jogs around the goal, the re-enters the field from the far side goal-line. I made eye contact with the attacker and let him back on play. Team A then took the corner kick and play resumed as normal.
It seemed as if the attacker did not want to go through the congested goal area. Could this be considered “trickery”?
Should I have cautioned the attacker for leaving the field without permission? And if I was going for a State 5/6 level, would this be an automatic fail in itself?
Answer (September 3, 2013):
A good question and one answered within the Laws themselves. This answer will be considered “wrong” by many purists, but it is founded in fact. What you describe is surely an unusual play, and the correctness of the decision to allow play to restart hinges entirely on the matter of congestion and the referee’s interpretation of the word “accidental.” If the area was indeed so congested as to present a barrier to the player’s becoming involved in the upcoming play, then what he did was fine — and no assessor can say otherwise. See “Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees” (in the back of the Law book):
If a player accidentally crosses one of the boundary lines of the field of play, he is not deemed to have committed an infringement. Going off the field of play may be considered to be part of a playing movement.
This matter was also covered to some extent in the old Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game (2012/2013), though this concerns the ball being in play, rather than a stoppage in play:
3.9 LEAVING THE FIELD IN THE COURSE OF PLAY
Players are normally expected to remain on the field while the ball is in play, leaving only to retrieve a ball or when ordered off by the referee. If a player accidentally passes over one of the boundary lines of the field of play or if a player in possession of or contesting for the ball passes over the touch line or the goal line without the ball to beat an opponent, he or she is not considered to have left the field of play without the permission of the referee. This player does not need the referee’s permission to return to the field.
August 22, 2013
What is legal verbal deception? While a forward was breaking to goal 30 yards out unchallenged, a defending midfielder called, “Here. Back to me.”, and the attacker stopped and passed the ball back to the opponent. Checking with our SDI and USSF I am told this is legal deception today: the attacker is totally responsible for his actions. Evidently this is not ATR 12.28.1 UNSPORTING BEHAVIOR “If a member of the defending team verbally distracts an opponent during play or at a restart”; this addresses shouting or startling the attacker. But how about verbal deception by an attacker – which is not mentioned in ATR 12.28.1? Is attacker verbal deception okay? Is it unsporting for an attacker to call for the ball from a defender, and successfully receive it?
Answer (August 22, 2013):
Interestingly enough, there is a dichotomy here: The team with the ball is allowed to use deceptive methods and language to further its play, but the defending team does not have that benefit. Your SDI is clearly wrong. I do not know with whom you spoke at USSF, but if anyone there said the defender’s tactic is legal, he or she was clearly overindulging in the use of forbidden substances.
Since at least 2000, the Federation has stated numerous times that such tactics by the defending team or interjections of false instructions by coaches are anathema, i.e., forbidden under pain of punishment for misconduct. The correct action for the referee is to stop play (unless the advantage can be applied), caution the player for unsporting behavior (or eject the coach for any such irresponsible behavior) and restart with an indirect free kick from the place where the ball was when the misconduct occurred (see Law 13 – Position of free kick; ). If the evildoer was the coach or other team official, the restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was located when play was stopped, unless play was stopped inside the goal area, in which case the referee drops the ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was located when play was stopped.
While appearing relatively innocuous, using the words “mine” or “Here, to me” can be a deceitful way of calling for the ball. If a player cannot see the player who calls “mine,” there is always the possibility that the calling player is an opponent, seeking to gain an advantage over the player who cannot see him. If there is any opponent nearby, players should say “keeper’s ball” or “Jerry’s ball” or something more specific, just to avoid such problems.
The offense, if there is any, can be determined only in the opinion of the referee. Any player trying to cheat in this way should be penalized. The offense is unsporting behavior, punishable by a caution/yellow card and an indirect free kick for the other team (see above). The player who makes an innocent mistake of calling ‘mine’ can be corrected without cards.
For your (and your SDI’s) further education, here is an update of a paper I wrote in 2002 that was published in the former USSF referee newsmagazine, Fair Play.
Affecting Play (updated August 16, 2013)
USSF National Instructor Staff (Ret.)
Using “devious” means to affect the way play runs can be perfectly legal. The referee must recognize and differentiate between the “right” and “wrong” ways of affecting play, so that he or she does not interfere with the players’ right to use legitimate feints or ruses in their game.
The desire to score a goal and win the game often produces tactical maneuvers, ploys, and feints designed to deceive the opponent. These can occur either while the ball is in play or at restarts. Those tactics used in restarts are just as acceptable as they would be in the normal course of play, provided there is no action that qualifies as unsporting behavior or any other form of misconduct. The team with the ball is allowed more latitude than its opponents because this is accepted practice throughout the world, and referees must respect that latitude when managing the game.
Play can be affected in three ways and each will probably occur in any normal game. In descending order of acceptability under the Laws of the Game, they are: influence, gamesmanship, and misconduct.
To “influence” means to affect or alter the way the opponents play by indirect or intangible means. “Gamesmanship” is the art or practice of winning a game through acts of doubtful propriety, such as distracting an opponent without technically violating the Laws of the Game. However, the referee must be very careful, for while the act may be within the Letter of the Law, it may well fall outside the Spirit of the Law. “Misconduct” is blatant cheating or intentional wrongdoing through a deliberate violation of the Laws of the Game.
Many referees confuse perfectly legitimate methods of affecting play through influence with certain aspects of gamesmanship and misconduct.
Influence can cause problems for some referees at restarts. The ball is in play on free kicks and corner kicks as soon as it has been kicked and moves, and on kick-offs and penalty kicks as soon as it is kicked and moves forward. The key for most referees seems to be the requirement that the ball must “move.” The IFAB has directed that referees interpret this requirement liberally, so that only minimal movement is necessary. This minimal movement was defined in the past as the kicker possibly merely touching the ball with the foot. That has changed. All referees must observe carefully the placing of the ball for the kick and distinguish between moving the ball with the foot to put it in the proper location and actually kicking the ball to restart the game. The ball must be kicked and move a perceptible distance. Please note: Feinting at a penalty kick may be considered by the referee to be unsporting behavior, but verbal or physical feinting by the kicking team at free kicks or in dynamic play is not. (See below.)
Influencing play is perfectly acceptable. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) and the F⁄d⁄ration Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) have consistently ruled in favor of the use of guile by the attacking team to influence play and against the use of timewasting tactics and deceitful acts by the defending team. The IFAB and FIFA are so concerned over the failure of referees to deal with timewasting tactics that for some years they published annual reminders that referees must deal with time wasting in all its forms. The IFAB has also consistently ruled that the practice of forming a defensive wall or any other interference by the defending team at free kicks is counter to the Spirit of the Game, and has issued two associated rulings that the kicking team may influence (through the use of feinting tactics) and confuse the opponents when taking free kicks. The IFAB reinforced its renunciation of defensive tactics by allowing the referee to caution any opposing players who do not maintain the required distance at free kicks as a result of the feinting tactics, which can include members of the kicking team jumping over the ball to confuse and deceive the opponents legally. (See the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, November 1990, Law XIII, Q&A 7 and 8; still recognized as part of the Laws.) The related practice of touching the ball at a free kick or corner kick just enough to put it in play and then attempting to confuse the opponents by telling a teammate to come and take the kick is also accepted practice.
Gamesmanship, by its very name, suggests that the player is bending the rules of the game to his benefit. However, while he is not breaking the letter of the laws that cover play, he may be violating the Spirit of the Laws. Indeed, acts of gamesmanship in soccer can range from being entirely within the letter of the Law to quite illegal. Examples of legal gamesmanship include a team constantly kicking the ball out of play or a player constantly placing himself in an offside position deliberately, looking for the ball from his teammates so that the referee must blow the whistle and stop and restart the game. These acts are not against the Letter of the Laws, and players who commit them cannot be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. Referees can take steps against most aspects of this legal time wasting only by adding time. Remember that only the referee knows how much time has been lost, and he or she is empowered by Law 7 to add as much time as necessary to ensure equality. Acts of illegal gamesmanship fall under misconduct (see below). Examples: a player deliberately taking the ball for a throw-in or free kick to the wrong spot, expecting the referee to redirect him; a coach whose team is leading in the game coming onto the field to “attend” to a downed player; simulating a foul or feigning an injury.
Misconduct is a deliberate and illegal act aimed at preventing the opposing team from accomplishing its goals. Misconduct can be split into two categories of offenses: those which merit a caution (including the illegal forms of time wasting) and those which merit a sending-off. While the attacking team may use verbal feints to confuse the defensive wall or may “call” for the ball without actually wanting it, simply to deceive their opponents, the other team may not use verbal feints to misdirect its opponents and then steal the ball from them; e.g., a defender calling out an opponent’s name to entice him into passing the ball to him. Full details on the categories of misconduct and their punishment can be found in “Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referee” in the back of the Laws of the Game.
Look at these methods of affecting play as escalating in severity from the legal act of influencing to gamesmanship, which can range from legal to illegal, to misconduct, which is entirely illegal. Each of these methods will be used by players in any normal game of soccer to gain an advantage for their team. Referees must know the difference between them, so that they can deal with what should be punished and not interfere in an act that is not truly an infringement of the Laws. Thorough knowledge of the Laws of the Game, the Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referee, and position papers and memoranda from the National Referee Development Program can help the referee make the correct decision in every case.
April 11, 2013
Is it legal for a player to take a throw-in from his knees? Where is this specified in the FIFA Laws of the Game?
Answer (April 11, 2013):
It is not included in the Laws of the Game. Outside the Laws of the Game, we are aware of only one document that FIFA has issued for the IFAB (the people who write the Laws) that covers this situation. It is in Law 15, Q&A 7, of the 2006 edition of Questions and Answers:
LAW 15 (THE THROW-IN)
7. Is a player allowed to take a throw-in kneeling or sitting down?
No. A throw-in is only permitted if the correct procedures in the Laws of the Game are followed.
From the USSF Advice to Referees:
Players are not allowed to take throw-ins while kneeling or sitting down. Squatting is a form of sitting and is therefore not allowed, but players are permitted to take “flip” or “acrobatic” throw-ins, provided the procedures outlined in Law 15 are followed. “Standing” is the normal and traditional posture at any restart; anything other than standing is not permitted. The “acrobatic” or “flip” throw-in is allowed because the thrower actually makes the throw from a standing position.
NOTE: The kneeling answer was also in earlier editions of the Q&A, which is no longer published, having been replaced by “Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees ” Simply because this fact no longer appears in the Laws of the Game does not mean that it is not valid. Many items not written in the Laws are widely known to be valid. The most famous omission is that the player who has been sent off during the game may not be replaced. Why these omissions? Because “everyone knows that!”
April 8, 2013
We encountered a novel (to us) situation in our last weekend of youth games.
In a U-14B league game, about 15′ before the end of the second half, there was a reckless foul by a defender, followed by dissent, resulting in a send off for that player. The foul occurred in the defender’s penalty area, so a PK was to be the restart. The attacking player involved appeared injured following the foul, leading to precautionary treatment and then removal from the field, resulting in a temporary stoppage of 5-10′. During that time, the attacking team coach (visitors) in discussion with the defending team coach (home) and the referee, requested to end the game explaining that he was now down to just 8 players (started with 10, one became ill and then one injured). The home coach offered to play 8 v 8 but the visiting coach wasn’t interested. Without protest or ill will, the home coach agreed to the early game end. The visiting team coach asked to take the awarded PK before ending the game, and again the home team coach agreed without contention. The referee accepted this course of action, and when the field was cleared, conducted the PK as if in extended time – just the kicker and ‘Keeper on field. The kick was good, the score was evened to 1-1 with that goal, and the game declared terminated. A report with all the information (SO, injury, and facts re: early termination) was provided to the game day administrator.
So, my question seems to be, that if the decision to terminate (or abandon) the game was arrived at between the coaches and the referee during the temporary suspension for the injury, should the PK then be taken, and if so, how? Or is there a more correct or preferred manner in which to handle this situation.
Answer (April 8, 2013):
Your reasoning on the crime and the correct punishment seems to be correct.
The final decision on the result of the game can be made only by the competition authority, the people who run the league. The result of a game can never be the referee’s decision; his/her job is only to ensure that the players are safe and the Laws of the Game are followed.
As a matter of practical refereeing, we would suggest two things in the future should you (or other referees in your area who might be aware of the situation) encounter something like this again.
First, you do not have authority to “clear the field” at the taking of a PK, even one in extended time. In fact, it is your duty to ensure that there is at least the minimum number of players from each team on the field because, without this number, a PK cannot be taken. Granted, all players except the kicker and the goalkeeper have nothing to do in a PK in extended time, but the principle remains that it is still part of the game and that in turn requires each team having at least the minimum number of players on the field.
Second (and somewhat related to the first point), neither by decision of the coach nor by your decision can a game be ended early. A termination requires “grave disorder” and/or danger to the players or officials. This didn’t happen. The only other Law-based early end is abandonment — which requires illegal and unsafe field conditions (also not present here) or failing to have the minimum number of players present and available for play. The competition authority is the only one which can settle the status of a terminated match, but the referee must have a recognizable reason for the early end itself, also known as CMA (that should not require expansion). The referee’s best course of action in this situation, following whatever discussion between the coaches they wish to have (and it sounded amicable enough), is to whistle for the players to take to the field to resume play. When one or both teams fail to field the minimum number, then the match is abandoned for having an insufficient (minimum) number of players. This process is designed to protect the referee from any “games” a coach might play (though that does not appear to be the case here) in which most of the players on one team leave in the belief that there had been an agreement to end the match early but the other team now suddenly declares that it is able and willing to play — as evidenced by having ITS players enter the field. Now, the referee has to report that the abandonment was due to one team (not both) failing to be ready to play.
March 31, 2013
Please, could you explain me why this decision was correct? And when the referee have to or haven’t to give a whistle signal to start free
Answer (March 31, 2013):
There is no need for the whistle on a free kick of this sort. You will find this information in the Laws of the Game, Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees. Also note that I have added emphasis (bolding) in several of the points made.
The Laws of the Game tell us:
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 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
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
March 18, 2013
To clarify for future reference can you assist?
A free kick is awarded, however prior to the free kick being taken the defending team have a player who has some dirt/mud in his eye. The player is on his knee whist the players request assistance from the trainer however the trainer does NOT enter the field of play, instead the defending teams goalkeeper assists in removing the mud/dirt and the defender is then able to continue playing, however the referee speaks to the player and insists that the defender leaves the field of play as he has received treatment is this correct?
I have seen players assisting others who have cramp etc and I have never seen the referee send them from the field of play.
Answer (March 10, 2013): BELATED POSTING
According to the Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees (in the back of the Law book), “a player is not allowed to receive treatment on the field of play.” However, “treatment” in this case means that someone has entered the field to administer to the wants and needs of the player. If someone is authorized to enter the field temporarily and quickly for these ministrations, then the player must leave when they are completed and may not return until the match has restarted and he has the referee’s permission to re-enter.
If, as in your situation, the referee has not stopped play for the problem (not exactly an injury) and has not beckoned any other person into the field to treat this problem, and no one is discommoded by the goalkeeper’s kind act, then the player does not have to leave the field. Unless (1) the treatment consumes an inordinate amount of time or (2) there is some local rule or rule of the competition that specifically prescribes an exit from the field, just as in cases of cramp treated by fellow players already on the field; the referee simply adds time lost.
Some referees remember only those parts of the Laws that they may require for their own convenience.
January 19, 2013
During corner kicks, some teams in our league (U14) place one or more players immediately in front of the goalkeeper to block his view of the play. In some situations, those same interfering players on offense deliberately crowd the keeper, making it difficult or impossible for him to make the play.
Is this legal?
Answer (January 19, 2013):
No, it is not legal, and the referees should be dealing with it. Shame on the for allowing it. The particular text covering this offense is in the back of the Laws of the Game, under Law (not “rule”) 12 in the large section on “Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees”:
Holding an opponent
Holding an opponent includes the act of preventing him from moving past or around using the hands, the arms or the body.
Referees are reminded to make an early intervention and to deal firmly with holding offenses especially inside the penalty area at corner kicks and free kicks.
To deal with these situations:
• the referee must warn any player holding an opponent before the ball is in play
• caution the player if the holding continues before the ball is in play
• award a direct free kick or penalty kick and caution the player if it happens once the ball is in play
If a defender starts holding an attacker outside the penalty area and continues holding him inside the penalty area, the referee must award a penalty kick.
• A caution for unsporting behavior must be issued when a player holds an opponent to prevent him gaining possession of the ball or taking up an advantageous position
• A player must be sent off if he denies an obvious goalscoring opportunity by holding an opponent
• No further disciplinary action must be taken in other situations of holding an opponent
Restart of play
• Direct free kick from the position where the offense occurred (see Law 13 – Position of free kick) or a penalty kick if the offense occurred inside the penalty area
December 29, 2012
In the recent Boxing Day match between Newcastle United and Manchester United, a controversial goal was awarded in the 28th minute.
[The questioner included a load of detail of items from Law 11, the Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees, and the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.”
The bottom line is that the ATRs *appear* to offer guidance that is either not backed up by IFAB or FIFA guidance, or the rest of the world is unaware of said guidance.
Any clarification you can provide would be helpful.
Answer (December 28, 2012):
This is a very close call. From the available evidence (two photos and a video clip), it is impossible to decide one way or another. In such cases, we cannot do any better than to rely on the long-time guidance from the IFAB, FIFA, and the U. S. Soccer Federation: The referee must be completely sure that an offense has occurred before calling it. If the referee does not recognize a possible infringement as such and call it (either by whistling for the offense or invoking the advantage clause or making no call at all on a trifling offense), then that offense has not occurred.
We are very concerned, however, with the comment that the Advice to Referees (ATR) appears to offer guidance which is not backed by anything official. Obviously, we disagree. The original question, which I have omitted here, breaks down the decision into its appropriate parts and comes down exactly where it should have: the core question (given the givens) is whether there was interference with an opponent, and THAT is solely a matter of judgment for which the IFAB’s own guidance is quite sufficient — blocking the path, blocking the vision, or acting to distract or deceive. The ATR does not say anything contrary to this. The citation from the ATR is merely a good, concrete example of what exactly is meant by “acting to distract or deceive”: If the actions of the attacker in an offside position “draw” or cause a defender to move in a way he would not likely have moved in the absence of the offside position attacker, that is interfering with an opponent. So it all comes down to the basic issue of determining whether any of the three elements of interfering with an opponent applied. Our opinion is that it is arguable either way. We see the possibility of the goalkeeper’s line of vision being blocked or at least hindered (given where the attacker was). We also see the possibility that the attacker in the offside position blocked a possible movement path by the defender. And there is also the possibility – though we have no information on what was happening in the second or two prior to the first still picture — that the attacker may have drawn the defender to be where he was at the moment the ball deflected off the defender’s knee. However, because these are all only possibilities, that does not negate the guidance from on high that the referee must be absolutely certain of the offense – any offense, not simply offside – before calling it.
December 21, 2012
Many referees, particularly those newly-minted and inexperienced, run into situations in which they are not certain about what to do and where the line should be drawn in dealing with team officials:
* When is it appropriate to ask the coach to leave the field?
* When is enough enough?
* How much abuse must I and my assistant referees (and the players) take?
According to Law 5, the referee “takes action against team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and may, at his discretion, expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds.” By no stretch of the imagination do most, and certainly not many, coaches or other team officials behave irresponsibly. However there are enough of them that referees need to have a plan of action. This article is designed to help referees at all levels do that.
Here are some examples of irresponsible behavior, directed by coaches or other team officials at referees, assistant referees, fourth officials, players of the opposing or their own team, and opposing coaches:
1. Screaming at or verbally or physically abusing the officials or any players or other participants for any reason.
* a youth coach “who begins to scream at his players when the game begins and does not stop until long after the game is over. With every touch of the ball by his team he gives (screams) instructions to the players off the ball as well as the player with the ball. With every touch of the ball by the other team he is giving (screaming) specific instructions to each player on his team as fast as he can get them out of his mouth. Much of what he says is negative and all mistakes are pointed out and players are taken to task. He is a physically intimidating person who loves to argue about anything and most area referees just stay as far away from him as they can.”
* ordering a player who has made a mistake to “drop and give me ten” (pushups) right there on the field.
* Speaking insulting words or making offensive gestures * making unwanted contact with opponents
2. Interfering with the game in any way, such as:
* yelling out instructions to do something illegal or giving deceptive instructions.
* when coaches become actively involved in helping their team deceive the opponents, such as saying that player “x” should do this or that and clearly intending something else to occur (as discovered after the restart).
* clearly instructing the players to line up within the required distance and “have the referee move you.”
* instructing his/her team, both on the field and on the bench, to jump up and down, waving their arms, and scream at the top of their lungs.
* giving tactical instructions to other players when invited to enter the field to see to the injury of a player.
* presuming to give the officials instructions on how to make or signal their calls.
* insisting that an opposing player be cautioned or sent off.
* throwing objects in protest
* kicking chairs
* striking advertising boards
* persistently and flagrantly protesting decisions by an official * interfering with the performance of assistant referee or fourth official duties * refusing to return to the technical area * entering the field of play without the permission of the referee * failing to deal with team spectators who loudly and persistently harass or insult the referee team
There is a widespread trend within the nation and the soccer community toward eliminating abuse of young people by any adults. The referee is certainly empowered to ensure responsible behavior by the team official in that regard. The method chosen would be up to the individual referee. The first action to consider is a quiet word with the coach or other team official to let him or her know that the behavior will not be allowed to continue.
WHAT CAN THE COACH OR OTHER TEAM OFFICIALS DO?
Under the Law, only one person at a time is authorized to convey tactical instructions from the technical area — in most soccer games this term includes the team area, where they have their bags and chairs. The coach and other officials must remain within its confines except in special circumstances, for example, a physiotherapist or doctor entering the field of play, with the referee’s permission, to assess an injured player. The coach and other occupants of the technical area must behave in a responsible manner. Team officials are also encouraged to promote sporting behavior by their players and supporters.
As a practical matter, particularly at the youth level, any POSITIVE coaching is allowed. Whether at the level of the least experienced players (and coaches) or at the highest levels, any case in which the coach behaves irresponsibly will result in the coach being dismissed. (Two examples from among many: ranting at the referee, overt participation in deception of the opposing team.)
Beyond the reasonable expectation that the referee will call a good game, the coach has no “right” to anything in the game of soccer, other than the right to conduct him-/herself responsibly during the game — from within the technical or bench area — while offering advice to his/her team’s players.
A referee who allows coaches or other team officials to parade around the field or shout abuse at players in the guise of instruction, in contravention of the requirements in Law 5 that coaches behave responsibly and that referees not permit anyone other than players to enter the field, should be ashamed.
A coach may do nothing during the match about any decision of the referee.
If it seems necessary, the coach may submit a report to the appropriate authorities after the match. To do anything else during the match would likely be considered irresponsible behavior, for which offense the coach would be dismissed by the referee.
WHAT CAN THE REFEREE DO?
First and foremost, live up to the reasonable expectations of the coaches, team officials, and players that you will call a good game. Do not invent your own rules.
Coaches and other team officials are expected to behave responsibly. (See Law 5, The Technical Area, and Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees, the only three places in the Laws where team officials are mentioned.) The intelligent referee will generally disregard coaching comments, unless they become openly disrespectful of the game and of the refereeing crew. The referee’s first line of defense (unless the behavior is REALLY egregious) is to warn the coach who is behaving irresponsibly. This is the equivalent of a caution, but no card is shown. Then, when the behavior persists (as it usually does, because most coaches who behave this way fail to understand that they must change their errant ways), the coach is expelled from the field for failing to behave in a responsible manner. Please note that under the Laws of the Game, no card may be shown; however, showing the card may be a requirement of the rules of the competition. Let us emphasize: There is no requirement for a warning or a quiet word; that is at the discretion of the referee.
Unless the matter is particularly grave, the referee would usually wait until the next stoppage. However, if the situation is indeed grave — as any case of abuse would be — then stopping the game and drawing attention to the matter is an excellent tool in and of itself. Proactive steps such as the admonition of the coach will usually prevent players who become disgusted with their coach’s behavior from acting out and thus becoming subject to punishment themselves. It sends a clear message that the referee is serious about the matter. In such cases, the referee would stop play with the ball in the possession of the abusive coach’s team (if possible), advise the coach or other team official that this behavior is irresponsible and must stop if the coach or other team official wishes to remain in the vicinity of the field. If this warning is not effective, then another stoppage and the expulsion of the coach must follow. No cards, please, unless the rules of the competition require them. Also, do not engage in extended discussions when doing this in any circumstances: State the message in a calm and firm manner and leave.
In all events you should prepare a supplemental game report or letter to the league on the matter. You might also suggest in the report or letter that they send someone to monitor a couple of games. The letter could be written in such a way that says perhaps the coach was having a bad day, but it should suggest that it might be beneficial to the children involved if someone from the league dropped in for a game or two just to make sure.
November 28, 2012
Question: Sounds stupid but…
Me and my friends were having a debate in the pub about the offside rule. I was a neutral in this debate but would be interested to know what an official referee would do:
If a player is laying injured in an offside position while play is continuing, and a shot that was going in anyway is deflected off his leg or head unintentionally, is it offside? If the player wasn’t there and the shot was going in anyway, surely as the player had no intent the goal should stand?
Answer November 28, 2012):
But his presence DID have an effect on play — “deflected off his leg or head unintentionally” — means by definition that he interfered with play.
We need to remember that it is only a supposition that the shot was going to go in anyway. There is, unfortunately, no way of proving that, without the deflection, the keeper might or would have made the save. In all events, Law 11 does not require or even presume that the attacker in the offside position must INTENTIONALLY become involved in active play; he only needs to BE involved in active play. If he had been standing up in an offside position and a shot from a teammate had bounced off his back into the goal, wouldn’t this be offside position? Suppose the player on the ground were dead and the ball deflected off him into the goal — it’s still an offside violation (though, to be fair, we should probably have stopped play before all this due to the “serious injury”).
This was illustrated in the 2008-2009 Laws of the Game on p. 101, illustration 1 (last time it is shown, but the principle still applies): “An attacker in an offside position (A), not interfering with an opponent, touches the ball.” And the ruling on the same page says “The assistant referee must raise the flag when the player touches the ball.”
November 24, 2012
When defending a free kick, is there a law that forbids a team from erecting a human pyramid on their goal line, i.e. standing on each other’s shoulders to obstruct the goal mouth. If there is no specific law, would it come under ‘bringing the game into disrepute”?
Answer (November 24, 2012):
No, there is no “Law” on this, but there is an old International Board Decision from the International Football Association Board, the people who make and change the Laws. It declares that using a teammate’s shoulders to boost one’s height in order to make a play for the ball was misconduct. It was originally IBD #4 under Law 12 but became IBD #2 in 1995. So, yes, there is at least an interpretation of the Law that remains valid guidance for such situations. In addition, there is tradition, which holds that other than when they are jumping into the air to play the ball, players are expected to remain earthbound, not stacked high like cheerleaders, circus acrobats, synchronized swimmers, or cans of soda. They may kneel (although not when taking throw-ins) or jump into the air, but definitely may not build a pyramid. Doing so would constitute the cautionable act of unsporting behavior and bringing the game into disrepute.