Question:
Please clarify that kicking the ball for a corner kick it is ok to kick with the bottom of your boot.

Answer (March 8, 2014):
Yes, the kicker may use the bottom of the foot as long as he has played the ball in a kicking motion. The referee needs to use common sense and apply practices currently accepted in modern soccer, no matter how much these may differ from what we have learned and applied in the past. On any free kick, whether direct or indirect, the Law is clear: The ball must be moved a minimum distance with the foot, preferably in a kicking motion. In many cases, this means that the ball may be stepped on, although it still must move some minimum distance. If the referee does not see some minimal movement on the initial kick, then the ball is not yet in play and the kick must be taken correctly.

HEADGEAR IN HAND A FOUL?

March 10, 2014

Question:
In a recent match I had, a female player had her head gear off and in her hands while playing the ball and challenged by an opponent. I stopped the game and gave an indirect free kick to the opposing team for stopping the game, but did not give a caution.

Was I correct in the decision or did I misapply the laws? I could not find an answer in the law book or in advice to referees.

My question is, is it permissible for players to play with items in their hands such as head gear, water bottles, shin guards, cleats / boots, or an miscellaneous items while in possession of the ball and being challenged by an opponent? If not, what is the punishment and restart?

Answer March 8, 2014):
If the player did not use her headgear (not yet legal for anyone other than the goalkeeper) to play the ball or to ward off the opponent, then no offense has been committed. However, the referee should ensure that she replaces or legally disposes of the headgear as quickly as possible. If no offense has been committed, play is not stopped. If the player (other than the goalkeeper within her own penalty area) uses the headgear to play the ball, it is deliberate handling. If she uses the headgear to play the opponent, it is either holding or pushing. Deal with such infringements in accordance with the Laws.

Question:
What happens if the ball bursts after being kicked and made contact with during a penalty kick?

Answer (March 6, 2014):
Your answer is contained in Law 2 (THE BALL) of the current Laws of the Game:

Replacement of a defective ball
If the ball bursts or becomes defective during the course of a match:
• the match is stopped
• the match is restarted by dropping the replacement ball at the place where the original ball became defective, unless play was stopped inside the goal area, in which case the referee drops the replacement ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the original ball was located when play was stopped

If the ball bursts or becomes defective during a penalty kick or during kicks from the penalty mark as it moves forward and before it touches any player or the crossbar or goalposts:
• the penalty kick is retaken

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/soccer-insider/wp/2014/02/11/as-mls-season-nears-referee-negotiations-are-some-distance-apart/

Categories: Law 5 - Referee

Question:
I have been trying to get an answer regarding the taking of an indirect free kick. One source has an answer on its site which contradicts the answer I found on the US Soccer site. My thought is if the ball needs to be kicked and move, that this should happen on the initial touch otherwise the ball has not been put into play correctly and should be retaken. This being the case on the any restart not properly put into play. Could you please clarify the answer as the advice to referees does not clearly state what should happen in the event of not putting the ball into play on the 1st touch.

Answer: February 6, 2014
The referee needs to use common sense and apply practices currently accepted in modern soccer, no matter how much these may differ from what we have learned and applied in the past. On any free kick, whether direct or indirect, the Law is clear: The ball must be moved a minimum distance with the foot, preferably in a kicking motion. In many cases, this means that the ball may be stepped on, although it still must move some minimum distance. If the referee does not see some minimal movement on the initial kick, then the ball is not yet in play and the kick must be taken correctly.

NOTE:
Yes, old timers, this is not quite the answer you are used to from me, but we need to move in synch with what the rest of the world does, and this is it. Just remember that the final decision is up to the referee on the spot, not you or me or anyone else.

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

Question:
This question is with regard to Rule 4, player equipment.

There is a growing market for wearable health and fitness monitors in the form of wristbands/bracelets. They monitor activity including heart rate, temp and sweat levels. Jawbone and FitBit are two of the leading manufacturers. And the prices are dropping so coaches and referees will begin to see these devices more frequently. Will these health monitors be classified as jewelry and therefore banned from play? Thank you.

Answer (November 27, 2013):
My personal belief is yes, these devices should be classified as jewelry and treated as such by the referee in any case involving their use in an actual game. However, in practice this question will will have to be answered on a case-by-case basis by the individual referee on the match. Both pieces of equipment involve wristbands that could catch on the player’s equipment or that of an opponent, leading to injury for all involved, thus violating the principle behind Law 4′s requirement that no jewelry be worn.

Either of those pieces of equipment would be fine for training, but not for competition.

And just to be certain, I checked my answer with some folks who are still active. Amazing how we still agree:

It’s a tricky question that [one of my friends] actually posed to USSF back in September when a WPS player attempted to wear such a heart monitor device and was refused by the referee based on a decision that it was jewelry. However, subsequently, it was attempted again (don’t know whether it was by the same player or not) and was allowed by another referee who decided it was “medical” and could be worn if wrapped and was safe. I asked what (if anything) had been said or relayed to WPS referees as a guideline on the issue. The replay was that there was no formal “ruling” but that USSF had communicated to the USWNT in the past that the devices could be worn so long as they are deemed safe by the referee.

One can only assume that what is OK for the USWNT is good for everyone else and that the argument is persuasive that, although jewelry, the devices are medical in nature and should be approached in the same way as is done with medical alert bracelets.

Categories: Law 4 - Equipment

Question:
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

Question:
Reffing a High School match a few weeks ago I was the CR with my assigning secretary one of my AR’s. Our state has adopted FIFA Laws as our Laws of competition this season. During the game I blew my whistle signaling a direct free kick to a team. The foul occurred near the touchline where this player set up to take the free kick. As he backed up to make his approach to put the ball in play he stepped outside the field of play for maybe a couple of seconds. My AR (assigning secretary) began to viciously wave his flag signaling me over because this player needed a yellow card for leaving the field of play without the permission of the referee.

While I know this is a cautionable offense I don’t believe it violates any of the global thumb rules for assessing a caution. I also think it is more the fault of the referee if he ever gives a card for this offense. The player didn’t cheat, didn’t endanger anyone and didn’t take away from the fun of the game. I also told this AR that this player inherently has my permission when making his approach to approach from outside the field of play given the location where the foul occurred. Approaches take place from outside the field of play all the time i.e. a corner kick. Is my interpretation correct?

In hindsight I maybe should have just given the caution because I was chewed out after the game by my assigning secretary and it has cost me future assignments to officiate. I just want to know if I made the right call pertaining to the match so I can be at peace. Thanks for your help.

Answer (November 13, 2013):
Players are normally expected to remain on the field while the ball is in play, leaving only to retrieve a ball and take a restart, 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 (or any other obstacle), 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. Repeat: No referee permission is required for this temporary departure to play the ball, avoid an obstacle, or take a restart.

Please note the phrase: “take a restart.”

So to sum it up: (1) Your assigning secretary was wrong and should be ashamed of him-/herself. (2) The job of the assistant referee, no matter what his/her other duties, is to ASSIST, not INSIST.

Categories: Law 6 - Asst. Referee

NOTE: My sincere apology to the person who asked this question: I forgot to post it. The best part is that it is relted to the one I anssered this morning, q.v.
Question:
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, then 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.

Categories: Law 18 - Common Sense

PLEASE: NO MORE QUESTIONS ON HIGH SCHOOL RULES!!!
Question:

I watched a HS game last night in Wisconsin and Team A won in overtime and a number of the boys celebrated on the field by chasing the goal scorer as he ran towards his fans. A couple of them had removed their jerseys in celebration and the referee singled out one of them and yellow carded him for “unsportsmanlike”. This was his second yellow of the game so he also produced a red card. The ref literally chased him off the field to card him (after the game was over). Does the team have any recourse in terms of an appeal so that this player can play in the next game? What is the rule regarding carding a player after the game is over and the players are no longer on the field of play?

Answer (October 18, 2013):
As I consistently state in my answers (and the “About” section of the site), I do not answer questions regarding high school rules or referees. The rules are from another planet and some high school referees seem to have joined the migration.

Under the Laws of the Game, the rules the world plays by, the referee has no authority to punish players for purely technical offenses such as removing their shirts that occur AFTER the final whistle. (Look at all the international and professional games where this occurs on a regular basis.) Violent behavior or related actions, yes, but not removing the shirt. Please note, however, that if time had not actually run out when the disrobing and chasing occurred, then the referee was correct. On the other hand, if the game was truly over, then you should take this matter to the AD of the school for him or her to resolve.

Categories: Rules of Competition

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