Entries related to Law 5 – Referee

Unusual incident occurred in my game yesterday.
My team were awarded a penalty kick when my player was tripped inside
the box.
The ball was on the spot and all the players were ready when the
linesman flagged to get the referee’s attention.
The ref goes over to talk and the linesman explains that my player was
offside before being fouled.

The ref accepts this and reverses his decision and awards our
opponents a free kick.

However, the ref still gives the defender a red card for tripping my

everyone was confused and everyone started to laugh…
what on earth is the rule on this?

Answer (April 28, 2014):
If the trip was done with excessive force—the only reason I can think of—then the referee was correct to send off the defender, no matter that your player had already violated Law 11. Old referee aphorism: The Laws of the Game were not meant to compensate for the mistakes of the players.

Goal is scored in the closing seconds of the game. Referee sets up with a restart and blows the whistle for the match ending. As a referee exits the field the losing coach complains that that goal was scored after time had run out. The referee confers with this ARs and decide that he did play more than the allotted time.

Question is once a referee signals the end of the game, can he change facts.

Answer (March 30, 2014)
No, the referee cannot change the facts of the Game or his decisions once the game has been terminated (declared over). Law 5 is quite clear on this matter. Under Decisions of the Referee, the Law states:
The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee or the fourth official, provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the match.

I have been saying for years that Jack Warner was a crook. Now it would appear that I was right. See this article:


Categories: Law 5 - Referee


Categories: Law 5 - Referee

As announced two weeks ago, the site will be closing down as an interactive entity as of close of business today (9 PM U.S. Eastern Standard Time).It has been a great ride, but now it is time to shut it down, at least in the interactive sense. We will likely post some updates and some other items. The webmaster has agreed to leave the site up for people to do research.

Thank you to all of you for helping make the site a success.

Jim Allen

Categories: Law 5 - Referee

About 10 minutes into a game, it was noticed that one of the players was not wearing shin guards. The laws state that the ref can either wait for the next stoppage or go ahead and make a stoppage and order the player off the field to fix the problem and that player cannot return without the ref’s permission.

The laws do not talk about subs in this situation so I interpreted that to mean that a substitution could not happen. Is that right?

Does the team remain down one player until the next stoppage and the ref calls on the sub or can the team immediately send in a sub while the one without the proper equipment is being sent off? It seems as though if the team is allowed an immdiate replacement on the fly, it would give them a tactical advantage if allowed since the other team would not be able to piggy back on it or sub in a one for one sub like with injuries.
Lastly, if the ref stops the game for the equipment infraction, is the restart a dropped ball or an indirect for the opposing team at the spot of where the sent off player was seen with the missing gear?

My decision at the time was to stop the game, I sent off the player (I cautioned the player but did not show the yellow), the coach tried to send another on in the meantime and I denied it, restarted with a dropped ball where it was when I stopped the game, and the team played down one until the next stoppage.

Thanks in advance for any advice on such a situation.

Answer (November 17, 2013):
I cannot guarantee what your local rules may say, as some local rules are—like high school rules—from another planet. However, under the Laws of the Game a team may substitute at ANY stoppage of play with the referee’s permission. It cannot be done on the fly, as that is not the way substitutions are handled—again unless your local rules are from another planet. To caution the player, you must believe that he willfully broke the Law. See this quote from the back of the book, Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees (Law 4):

Disciplinary sanctions
The players are to be inspected before the match begins and substitutes before they enter the field of play. If a player is discovered to be wearing unauthorized clothing or jewelry during play, the referee must:
• inform the player that the item in question must be removed
• order the player to leave the field of play at the next stoppage if he is unable or unwilling to comply
• caution the player if he willfully refuses to comply or, having been told to remove the item, is discovered to be wearing the item again
If play is stopped to caution the player, an indirect free kick must be awarded to the opposing team from the position of the ball when play was stopped (see Law 13 – Position of free kick).

Categories: Law 5 - Referee

Ladies and Gentlemen,
As stated in the About section of this site, we do NOT answer questions on high school rules, which are from another planet. Please do not ask any more questions on games played under HS rules.

Categories: Law 5 - Referee

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.

Categories: Law 5 - Referee

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):

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:

The Referee
- 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):

Injured players
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.