Entries related to Law 5 – Referee
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 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.
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.
October 10, 2012
To what degree should a referee protect players on the field from harassment from their own parents? Or is this a coaches job as well as a referees job?
Example: This past Saturday, a 9 year old keeper missed a ball on the ground, resulting in a goal. Her father berated her from the sidelines. She was upset…I told my wife that she would miss the next ball that came to her. Sure enough she did, likely as a result from her tears blurring her vision. Her mother then berated her from the sidelines.
I played keeper growing up and realize the physical and psychological components of the position and part of my concern is one of empathy with the player. Is such an incident in the realm of the local youth club jurisdiction in so far as a parent conduct issue only or have the laws of the game been violated by a spectator interfering with the the game by harassing a player on the field?
Answer (October 10, 2012):
Unfortunately some soccer parents just do not know when enough is enough. In theory such people as this exemplary mother should be controlled by the coach and other team officials, as the referee has no jurisdiction or specific authority to deal with spectators’ behavior — unless it brings the game into disrepute or puts participants in danger. Unless leagues set rules of behavior for their spectators, such as making the coach and other team officials responsible, there is little that can be done other than to warn the coach about his spectators’ behavior. Most coaches are good about this, but some, eminently regrettably, are even worse than the mothers and fathers.
The Laws of the Game do do cover spectators to any particular extent. In fact, the referee cannot be faulted for a decision to stop or not to stop a match due to spectator interference or any problem in spectator areas — this is not defined to any degree whatsoever, but left to the referee’s discretion — or for a decision to abandon a match for whatever reason — again discretionary.
If the actions of the spectator(s) or team officials do bring the game into disrepute (a wonderful collective term for all sorts of irresponsible behavior), the referee can warn the team(s) that he or she will abandon the game if the actions continue, or may directly abandon the game. (The referee can also expel team officials for any act he or she deems to be irresponsible behavior.) If the actions do continue, the referee must then follow through.
I would recommend that you speak to the league regarding its rules of competition and how they may affect the behavior of the spectators.
July 9, 2012
During the game where should the ref observe the game without getting in the way of play?
Answer (July 9, 2012):
You might try something I call The Magic Formula, which works for all situations, in both dynamic play and at restarts. You will have to modify it a bit if you do not have an AR to work with, but it still works.
x = a + b + c
Where x is the proper position in either dynamic play or at a restart and a, b, and c are conditions that must be met (or questions that must be answered by a “yes”).
a = I can see the possible problem area; i.e., where play will go next
b = I can see my assistant referee; i.e., I have play bracketed between me and my AR
c = I am not using space the players need; i.e., I am not blocking the passing lanes or in the way of either runners or players with the ball
That means that you may have to get outside the touchlines (and sometimes the goal lines) to be in the best position. You should also stay slightly behind play, rather than get too far ahead.
“The Magic Formula” was ibtroduced into USSF training materials in the mid-1990s, but even the folks at the English FA love and have “borrowed” it, just as we have borrowed a few things of theirs. However, because fads in training change, you and your colleagues may never have seen this information.
Team A gets a penalty in their favour and allows their keeper to take it. Team B now gets the ball to the centre, everyone in their respected halves, touches the ball, shoots immediately and scores before the Team A’s keeper reaches back in his post.
My question is, does the referee have to check with both goalies before blowing the whistle to resume play?
My answer: (May 5, 2012):
No, the referee need not check with either goalkeeper at ANY restart.
Interestingly, nothing is said in the scenario about the referee whistling to signal that the kick-off could be taken. There is no requirement in the Laws of the Game that the referee check with the goalkeepers to see if they are ready. Failing that, and given that the kick-off is always ceremonial, it falls entirely to the referee to determine when the kick-off can occur, subject only to the requirements of the Law that each team must be in its respective half of the field. The referee is empowered to allow a corner kick (or a throw-in) to be taken even though the ‘keeper has not returned to the field of play, so there is no reason to assume that the goalkeeper, in his joy at scoring, should not return to his normal kick-off position for the KO to take place.
However, in a different situation, it is customary (but not required by the Laws) to allow players who have been substituted in for other players to reach their normal positions before any restart. This would be especially true of the goalkeeper.
To illustrate the first point, observe this videoclip (http://www.askasoccerreferee.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Celebration-Too-Soon1.wmv):
March 28, 2012
I was the Center referee for an A division Co-ed match. There was a through ball for the attacking team, the forward run through to dribble into the penalty area. The keeper runs out to stop the ball, and missing it completely, and collided with the attacking player and took him out of play. I was near the top of the 18 yard, and had a clear view of the contact. I signalled a penalty kick, and issued a caution to the keeper. Since, it was his 2nd caution in this match, then I proceeded to show him the red card.
The defending team started screaming and said look at your assistant referee. He is standing firm around the 25 yard line, signalling an offside.
I reversed my call to an indirect free kick for the defending team, and took back the cards.
My reasoning is that I should have looked at my assistant referee first, and blown my whistle for the offside. If I had done that, it would have avoided the contact by the keeper and the forward.
Did I make the right call ?
USSF answer (March 28, 2012):
Your decision to use the information supplied by the AR was correct. Award the indirect free kick for the goalkeeper’s team. It is possible that the goalkeeper still engaged in certain behavior, whether it was during play against an opponent or during a stoppage resulting from the offside offense, so pleases consider the following:
Misconduct is separate from the foul (unless the foul was for serious foul play or denying a goalscoring opportunity through an act punishable by a free kick). Accordingly, the second caution which resulted in a red card should not have been withdrawn SOLELY because the referee accepted the advice from the AR and declared that the stoppage was for the offside. The ‘keeper’s act itself might warrant the caution (and red) or a straight red regardless of the change in the decision. If the goalkeeper’s act was purely careless, rather than reckless (caution) or done with excessive force (send-off), then there is no need to caution the ‘keeper.
March 13, 2012
When a player is injured and the referee stops play for the injury, is it acceptable for a referee to touch and handle the player? This referee (adult) is not a medical proffesional, I asked him. He seems to want to do a full medical exam on both youth boys and girls as well as adults. This referee will grab the players knee or ankles which ever is injured and pull, twist and poke the injury. This referee does not allow the coach on the field until he has done this with the injured player. Many coaches and parents are becoming extremely concerned over this practice. This has happened at least 10 times in 2012.
To sum it up, I guess my question is: Are referees taught to do a medical exam of the injured player by touching/twisting of the injury? And are they allowed to do this?
USSF answer (March 13, 2012):
We are pleased once again to emphasize the following principles regarding referees and players (most particularly youth players).
First, unless specifically certified by a public authority to provide medical care (i.e., doctor, paramedic, nurse, EMT, etc. — a Boy Scout First Aid badge does not count), no referee should be rendering any medical care to anyone, under any circumstances, at any time. This is a matter of law, the details of which can differ from state to state and we cannot therefore be more specific than simply … don’t do it. If a referee is medically certified, then the laws of the state where the injury has occurred are usually clear as to the duties to render assistance of certified medical personnel and, if such assistance is provided, the provider ceases to be a referee and becomes at least momentarily a doctor, paramedic, nurse, EMT, etc. until that responsibility for care is handed over to someone who is medically more qualified.
Second, USSF does not and has never provided training regarding the care of player injuries beyond what The Laws of the Game require. That care is defined solely in terms of deciding if an injury has occurred and then whether it is not serious, is serious, or is severe, and then recognizing what actions are proper depending on the answer to that question. These decisions and actions are summarized by the following quotes from the Laws of the Game and their Interpretations:
Law 5, bullet point 8 under Powers and Duties:
- stops the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured and ensures that he is removed from the field of play. An injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted.
Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidance for Referees (pp. 69-70):
The referee must adhere to the following procedure when dealing with injured players:
• play is allowed to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in the opinion of the referee, only slightly injured
• play is stopped if, in the opinion of the referee, a player is seriously injured
• after questioning the injured player, the referee may authorise one, or at most two doctors, to enter the field of play to assess the injury and arrange the player’s safe and swift removal from the field of play
• stretcher-bearers should only enter the field of play with a stretcher following a signal from the referee
• the referee must ensure an injured player is safely removed from the field of play
• a player is not allowed to receive treatment on the field of play
• any player bleeding from a wound must leave the field of play. He may not return until the referee is satisfied that the bleeding has stopped. A player is not permitted to wear clothing with blood on it
• as soon as the referee has authorised the doctors to enter the field of play, the player must leave the field of play, either on a stretcher or on foot. If a player does not comply, he must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour
• an injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted
• when the ball is in play, an injured player must re-enter the field of play from the touch line. When the ball is out of play, the injured player may re-enter from any of the boundary lines
• irrespective of whether the ball is in play or not, only the referee is authorised to allow an injured player to re-enter the field of play
• the referee may give permission for an injured player to return to the field of play if an assistant referee or the fourth official verifies that the player is ready
• if play has not otherwise been stopped for another reason, or if an injury suffered by a player is not the result of a breach of the Laws of the Game, the referee must restart play with a dropped ball from the position of the ball 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
• the referee must allow for the full amount of time lost through injury to be played at the end of each period of play
• once the referee has decided to issue a card to a player who is injured and has to leave the field of play for treatment, the referee must issue the card before the player leaves the field of play
Exceptions to this ruling are to be made only when:
• a goalkeeper is injured
• a goalkeeper and an outfield player have collided and need immediate attention
• players from the same team have collided and need immediate attention
• a severe injury has occurred, e.g. swallowed tongue, concussion, broken leg
It seems pretty clear to me: If the referee considers an injury serious enough that someone is called into the field to treat it or see to the player, then the player must leave until the game has restarted, just as it says in the law.
March 5, 2012
In a U-19 game today, a fight broke after the game was over. It was at least 8 players from each team. Is it ok for an AR to grab a kid in a head lock and drag him away from the fight?
USSF answer (March 5, 2012):
Under normal circumstances match officials should not touch any player for any reason other than to shake hands before the coin toss or after the game is over. Breaking up fights should normally be left to the teams themselves. In most cases the only justification for an official to “step in” (particularly if that term is meant to include touching or holding a player) is for self-protection … and only to the extent needed for self-protection and only for as long as self-protection is needed.
February 28, 2012
I was out doing a club tournament and had a medical issue on the field not to the point where I couldn’t finish the match,but was having trouble breathing.It was u-11. I had hands on my hips and was bending over a little. I am in really good shape for my age.I have done a bunch of 45 minute matches in one weekend.I didn’t know that the assignor was having me assets.I don’t know why he was having me assessed on u-11 game.I have about a 5,000 soccer games under my belt with a variety of age groups.
Is there some procedure that he has to follow and shouldn’t he have said something to me?Shouldn’t he have asked for explanation? This assigner ultimate refused to give me anymore games.
This happen again this time I knew I was being asset at a referee academy.I was putting my hands on my hips and bending over a little bit.They asked me and we got into a bit of discussion.I said I am having trouble breathe.I went and drank diet coke or something and was able to breathe better.I was told do not put my hands on my hips and bend over.Is this really that critical of a problem me putting hands on hips and the other things and should I tell the tournament assignors and assessors?Should Assignors and assessors ask? This is the second incident of any kind that I have ever had.It would suck have an incident where I actually stopped breathing on the field.I know the chemical involved that set off the incident.They are Mold and corn.I usually just avoid them.Both times I was able to finish out my day and work the next day.I paid for it on Monday my lungs were on fire on Monday .Soccer people I talked to weren’t sure how to handle it.
USSF answer (February 28, 2012):
Yes, an administrator or assignor can request an assessment of any referee on any game under his or her jurisdiction. That is well within the duties of such a person. And assessors can ask if there is some problem they should know about, but only after the game is over; they are not allowed to interfere with the game before it is completed.
You don’t tell us how old you are — and we don’t really need to know — but the sight of a referee having trouble breathing, hands on hips and puffing, is not one that inspires confidence in players, whether young or old. in spectators and coaches, or in referee administrators of one sort or another who see it. If observers and players detect a weakness in the referee, they will exploit it to the detriment of the game. We can only suggest that you seek the advice of your physician on how to resolve this problem with mold and corn (and possibly other causes).
February 28, 2012
If a player is sent off (red card), he/she cannot play in their next game.
Question 1: if the referee does not include the send-off in the game report, or does not submit a game report, is the player still required to not play in their next game?
Question 2: It is VERY common for referees NOT to tell a youth player why (unsporting behavior, dissent, serious foul play, etc) a card is being displayed. When asked by the player or coach, the VERY common response is ‘I don’t have to tell you’. How are youth players to learn from a mistake when there is absolutely no reason given by the ‘professional offical’ as to what the mistake was? Are game reports accessible to coaches, players, and/or parents?
USSF answer (February 28, 2012):
1. Referees are expected to submit their match reports as quickly as possible, usually within 2-3 days of the game. If they do not do so, then technically the events described (or NOT described) therein did not occur — but see below.
Technicalities aside, realistically the game occurred: people were there; witnesses can be subpoenaed; the referee could be reminded of his report; the player who was red carded should, on his own initiative or by direction of his coach, sit out his team’s next regularly-scheduled match. All this should occur even without the actual filing of the referee’s report. An opposing coach could certainly note at the team’s next regularly-scheduled game that Player X should be sitting out and, if this is disputed on any basis (including the lack of a report from the referee), a complaint could be filed which would eventually trigger a demand upon the referee to get the requiredreport in. In real life, there are literally thousands of games that occur with no formal referee report going into a league or association office — of course, in most of these, nothing untoward has occurred, but no one has any problem accepting that there was a game, there was a score, and Team B won.
2. The referee is REQUIRED to tell a player that he or he has been cautioned or sent off for one of the seven reasons for either sort of misconduct.
They cannot refuse to tell this to the player and should be reported to refereeing authorities if they do so refuse. They are NOT required to tell the coach anything. In most states (we cannot speak for all of them) the reports are not available to non-refereeing or competition officials, but appropriate parties can be told of the contents regarding a specific person or incident.
February 27, 2012
What are requirements for shoes? Are cleats allowed and what colors? I imagine multi colored boots aren’t allowed. But what about a cleat that is predominantly black but has yellow on it. I know I will be wearing my yellow shirt most of the time anyway.
USSF answer (February 27, 2012:
This answer from November 29, 2001 is still valid, although we have updated the content of Advice 5.1:
5.1 REFEREE UNIFORM
Referees may wear only the gold primary jersey or the black, blue, red, or green alternate jerseys, and may wear only the approved socks. (The term “primary jersey” means only that this is the color all referees must have. It does not mean that the gold jersey must be worn in preference to other colors.) No other colors will be worn without express permission of the USSF. If the uniform colors worn by a goalkeeper and the referee or by a team (or both teams) and the referee are similar enough to invite confusion, the goalkeeper or the team(s) must change to different colors. Only if there is no way to resolve the color similarity must the referee (and the assistant referees) wear the colors that conflict least with the players. Referees and assistant referees must wear the same color jerseys and the same style of socks, and all should wear the same length sleeves. The referee uniform does not include a hat, cap, or other head covering, with the sole exception of required religious head covering. Referees must wear the badge of the current registration year. In general, referees, assistant referees, fourth officials, and reserve referees may not wear any item of equipment, clothing, or jewelry (with the exception of a watch) which the Law does not permit a player to wear.
Referee shorts must be black.
Referees should select their shoes with an eye for both utility and appearance. Referees have to run on the field with at least as much speed and agility as do the players, so the shoes should enable them to do this under all field conditions. Players, team officials, and spectators often make initial judgments about the skills and knowledge of the referee based on appearance, and shoes can contribute significantly toward building that reserve of confidence. It is also occasionally important that players, who are frequently looking down at the ground, be able to identify the referee quickly by differences in the shoes. Accordingly, the referee’s shoes should be predominantly black, clean, polished, and neatly tied.
Under normal circumstances, it is not acceptable for a game official to wear headgear, and it would never be seen on a high-level regional, national or international competition. However, there may be rare circumstances in local competitions where head protection or sun visors might sensibly be tolerated for the good of the game, e.g., early morning or late afternoon games with sun in the officials’ line of sight causing vision difficulties; understaffed situations where an official with sensitive skin might be pressed into service for multiple games under strong sunlight, or a referee who wears glasses needing shielding from rain. Sunglasses would be subject to the same considerations. In addition, we ask referees to remember that sunglasses have the unfortunate side effect of suggesting that the referee or assistant referee is severely visually impaired and should not be working the game. They also limit communication between the officials and the players by providing a barrier against eye-to-eye contact. Sunglasses, if worn, should be removed prior to any verbal communication with players.
The Advice does not cover shorts, socks or shoes, but referees who want to get ahead will make every effort to present themselves neatly and professionally. Shorts should be made of the same materials as the jerseys. Shoes must be black and bear as little ornamentation as possible. Referees should dress as conservatively as possible to avoid drawing undue attention to themselves.
The policy on hats was published in the October 1999 issue of Fair Play:
Q. May referees wear caps and sunglasses?
A. With regard to caps, the policy of the United States Soccer Federation was stated in the Spring 1994 issue of Fair Play magazine: “Under normal circumstances, it is not acceptable for a game official to wear headgear, and it would never be seen on a high level regional, national or international competition. However, there may be rare circumstances in local competitions where head protection or sun visors might sensibly be tolerated for the good of the game, e.g. early morning or late afternoon games with sun in the officials’ line of sight causing vision difficulties; understaffed situations where an official with sensitive skin might be pressed into service for multiple games under strong sunlight or a referee who wears glasses needing shielding from rain.” Sunglasses would be subject to the same considerations. In addition, we ask referees to remember that sunglasses have the unfortunate side effect of suggesting that the referee or assistant referee is severely visually impaired and should not be working the game. They also limit communication between the officials and the players by providing a barrier against eye-to-eye contact. Sunglasses, if worn, should be removed prior to any verbal communication with players.