Entries related to Law 5 – Referee


October 5, 2014

NOTE: I do not remember where I got this item — and for that I apologize to the source — but it seems worth publishing again to remind referees that they need to ensure that everyone on the field knows who is in charge of the game.

Recently I lined an U15B game in a neighborhood complex. A visiting team player whacked the ball. It went out of play, over the fans, along the touchline, over the short chain-link fence behind the fans, over a driveway into the complex, over another short chain-link fence, and into a neighbor’s backyard.

A home team player knew the drill. He ran off the field, jumped the first fence, crossed the road, and arrived at the backyard fence.

The player saw a “Beware of Dogs” sign. He looked around but didn’t see any dogs. To be sure he banged on the fence just as he started to jump. Lucky for him.

Lying against the back of the house in the shade was THE DOG. THE DOG was not happy. THE DOG obviously had dealt with this situation before and knew how to handle it.

THE DOG growled menacingly, stood up, and stared at the player. THE DOG then walked very deliberately to the ball as he maintained eye contact. He continued growling and staring at the player. When THE DOG got to the ball, he looked down, sniffed it disgustedly, looked up, and again growled at the player.

THE DOG then looked at the ball one last time, raised his hind leg, and relieved himself on the ball. He gave the player a final stare with a final contemptuous growl (looking something like a sly, cynical grin), turned around, and casually jogged back to his favorite spot in the shade.

The player was momentarily stunned. With both arms raised he finally shouted to the sidelines, “I’M NOT PLAYING WITH THAT BALL!!!”.

I remember THE DOG whenever I referee an older youth game. He’s even become one of my role models for player management.

THE DOG stayed in the background until it was time to make his presence known. He commanded the player’s attention while he took forceful action. He used crisp mechanics to clearly communicate his decision. He received the player’s unquestioning acceptance of his decision. And he felt much better when he was finished.

No question here, only a clear statement of Law, tradition, and common practice for referees, players, and coaches alike.

1. Players and technical staff are not allowed to communicate via any communication devices:
“The use of electronic communication systems between players and/or technical staff is not permitted.”

2. Other than watches, notecards/pens, and whistles, referees are not permitted to wear or carry any equipment other than what has been approved by the IFAB and the U. S. Soccer Federation. Cell or mobile phones are not among those approved items.

3. Why then would this referee, while play is going on, stop to use his cell phone?

Click to open the attachment: Naughty Ref

Categories: Law 5 - Referee

I would like to know, if a player refused to walk back to the referee after being called several times is an expulsion for dissent?

Answer (September 29, 2014):
While it is common practice and tradition that the player do so, I can find no written requirement in the Laws that the player must come to the referee when called or beckoned. However, at least in my opinion, a player who refuses to walk back to the referee is only asking for more trouble than he already has. On the other hand, unless there is a body on the ground or some other good reason for the referee to stand fixed in one spot, there is no excuse for him to remain standing and not walking a few yards himself. Too many referees have a “dictator” complex, rather than understanding that a bit of give and take never hurts in maintaining professional relations during a game.

Dissent is punished for either word or action, and refusing to do what the referee asks could surely be considered as possible dissent. However, unless the player has already been (or is about to be) cautioned, there is no such thing as expulsion for dissent. If the referee has already decided to caution the player for an earlier offense, then a dismissal for the current offense of dissent would he legitimate — and truly caused by the player himself.

Categories: Law 5 - Referee

In USSF if a second AR is not present for the game how should we proceed with the game and should we collect all the money or only the money for the center and AR1?

Answer (September 6, 2014):
This answer is based on USSF historical documents and the Laws of the Game. The Federation, in its infinite wisdom, appears to have ceased publishing this information, possibly using the same reasoning used by the International Football Association Board, the folks who bring us the Laws of the Game:” Everyone knows that!”

Here is the appropriate extract from page 39 of the Referee Administrative Handbook (2010-11 edition):

Systems of Officiating Outdoor Soccer Games
The Laws of the Game recognize only one system for officiating soccer games, namely the diagonal system of control (DSC), consisting of three officials – one referee and two assistant referees. All competitions sanctioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation require the use of this officiating system. (Certain competitions will use a 4th Official.)In order to comply with the Laws of the Game which have been adopted by the National Council of U.S. Soccer, all soccer games sanctioned directly or indirectly by member organizations of the U.S. Soccer Federation must employ the diagonal system. As a matter of policy, the U.S. Soccer Referee Committee prefers the following alternatives in order of preference:
1.One Federation referee and two Federation referees1 as assistant referees (the standard ALL organizations should strive to meet).
2.One Federation referee, one Federation referee as an assistant referee and one club linesman*who is unrelated to either team and not registered as a referee. (Only if there are not enough Federation referees as stated in 1, above).
3.One Federation referee, and two club linesmen* who are unrelated to either team and not registered as referees, acting as club linesmen, (only if there are not enough Federation referees as stated in 1 or 2, above).
4.One Federation referee and two club linesmen* who are not registered Federation referees and who are affiliated with the participating teams, (only if there are not enough Federation referees as stated in 1, 2 or 3, above).
5.One Federation referee, only if there are not enough federation referees or if the club linesmen are unavailable as stated in 1, 2, 3, or 4 above and one referee is appropriate for the level of competition.

Member organizations and their affiliates should make every effort to assist in recruiting officials so that enough Federation referees will be available to permit use of the diagonal officiating system for ALL of their competitions.

1 In all cases, the Assistant Referee may be Grade 12 if the game level is appropriate for that assignment* Club linesmen (not registered as Federation Referees) are limited to calling in and out of bounds only

* If only two officials turn up at the field, one must be the referee (with the whistle), while the other becomes an assistant referee (outside the field with the flag). They split the field between them, but only one may make the final decisions and blow the whistle.

The upshot of all this is that you must try to find at least a club linesman to work one line, who must be provided by the home team. As to pay, you should collect only the pay for the two assigned officials. The home team MUST provide the club linesman.

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