January 23, 2015
NOTE: This Q&A was published back in 2002 with the full approval of the U. S. Soccer Federation. I cannot claim that it still has approval, but it is a good path to explore when prosthetic devices are necessary for a player. I sent it out last week in response to a similar question from a player’s parent. The final decision will always rest with the referee, no matter who else might approve.
May a player wear a titanium leg or other prosthetic device while playing soccer?
Answer (January 18, 2015):
The first concern of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in Law 4 – The Players’ Equipment is for player safety: “Safety: A player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewelry).” The IFAB then lists the basic compulsory equipment of a player: jersey or shirt, shorts, stockings, shinguards, and footwear. Artificial legs and other prosthetic devices are not included in the list.
The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) neither approves nor disapproves the wearing of such artificial legs or prosthetic devices, taking the position that this decision is outside the authority and competence of the USSF.
Custom and usage indicate that the use of artificial legs or other prosthetic devices by players was never contemplated by the International F. A. Board, but the case is analogous to that of a player wearing a cast or leg brace (when properly padded to prevent a danger to others). Injuring or reinjuring a limb is not considered to be a life-threatening situation, and it is commonly accepted according to custom and usage. The individual referee must consider the requirements of Law 4 and the Spirit of the Laws when judging the safety of wearing of an artificial leg or prosthetic device in the game he or she is to referee.
The National State Association may grant permission for players to wear properly padded artificial legs or prosthetic devices if the following requirements are met:
1. The player (or the parents of a player under the age of 21) must sign a release form stating that the player/parents are aware of the hazards involved with the player/child playing soccer under the conditions of his/her health.
2. The player’s doctor must sign a release stating that the player may play a contact sport such as soccer while wearing the device.
3. It is the sole responsibility of the player (and parents, if the player is underage) to ensure that the device is worn as required by medical personnel. It should not fall to a coach, tournament director, referee, nor anyone else to see that this is done, nor should the coach, tournament director, referee, nor anyone else be held responsible if it is not and an injury results.
4. The referee in each case has the final decision as to whether or not to allow the player to participate.
The player’s team must carry copies of the player’s/parents’ and doctor’s releases and a copy of the release from the National State Association (signed by the president, vice president for the appropriate competition, and registrar).
As noted above, the final decision to let the player participate will rest with the individual referee.
January 5, 2015
An interesting question came up the other day about a recent game in Asia and what the referee should do when a substitute, warming up behind his team’s goal, sees that his goalkeeper is down and there are no defenders nearby to stop the ball, which is rolling quickly toward the goal. The substitute enters the field of play without the referee’s permission and prevents a goal from being scored by kicking the ball away.
Any debate as to what the referee should do must center around four issues:
1. What infringements of the Law have occurred?
• The substitute has entered the field without the permission of the referee and then interfered with play by kicking away the ball heading for the goal.
2. Where the infringement involves misconduct, what kind and what card?
• Substitutes entering the field of play without permission have committed unsporting behavior, a cautionable offense. In addition, a substitute can be sent off for denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity, a sending-off offense.
3. What did the referee actually do?
• He whistled play dead, sent off the substitute, and restarted with an indirect free kick from the place where the substitute kicked the ball. While effective in dealing with the greater offense, the referee’s action was not entirely correct. Nor did the referee caution the substitute for unsporting behavior (entering the field of play without his permission).
4. With play stopped, what actions should the referee have taken, and what should have been the restart and from where?
• According to Law 12, “A player [and this includes substitutes and substituted players] who commits a cautionable or sending-off offense, either on or off the field of play, whether directed towards an opponent, a team-mate, the referee, an assistant referee or any other person, is disciplined according to the nature of the offense committed.”
• In this situation, the referee must first caution the substitute for unsporting behavior for entering the field of play without permission; that is the infringement that governs the restart. Second, the referee must send off the substitute for denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity through an act punishable by a free kick; this infringement does not figure in the restart — although it did during the game in question.
• The restart must be an indirect free kick for the initial misconduct, entering the field of play without the referee’s permission. The correct place would have been the position of the ball at the time of the stoppage (see Law 13 – Position of free kick). It would seem that an otherwise well-intentioned referee simply didn’t understand what the Law requires of him.
The place where the ball was when play was stopped would be its location at the moment the referee makes the decision to stop play, not where the ball might have ended up after the whistle was blown.
November 18, 2014
If a player from Team A is injured and is being substituted, can Team B also substitute at that time?
If so,is there a limited number of players that can be substituted?
Answer (November 18, 2014):
Q. 1: Yes.
Q. 2: See below.
Under the Laws of the Game, the following procedures apply:
In all matches, the names of the substitutes must be given to the referee prior to the start of the match. Any substitute whose name is not given to the referee at this time may not take part in the match.
To replace a player with a substitute, the following conditions must be observed:
• the referee must be informed before any proposed substitution is made
• the substitute only enters the field of play after the player being replaced has left and after receiving a signal from the referee
• the substitute only enters the field of play at the halfway line and DURING A STOPPAGE IN THE MATCH
• the substitution is completed when a substitute enters the field of play
• from that moment, the substitute becomes a player and the player he has replaced becomes a substituted player
• the substituted player takes no further part in the match
• all substitutes are subject to the authority and jurisdiction of the referee, whether called upon to play or not
And from the back of the book, under Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees, Law 3:
• A substitution may be made only during a stoppage in play
• The assistant referee signals that a substitution has been requested
• The player being substituted receives the referee’s permission to leave the field of play, unless he is already off the field of play for reasons that comply with the Laws of the Game
• The referee gives the substitute permission to enter the field of play
• Before entering the field of play, the substitute waits for the player he is replacing to leave the field
• The player being substituted is not obliged to leave the field of play on the halfway line
• Permission to proceed with a substitution may be refused under certain circumstances, e.g. if the substitute is not ready to enter the field of play
• A substitute who has not completed the substitution procedure by setting foot on to the field of play cannot restart play by taking a throw-in or corner kick
• If a player who is about to be replaced refuses to leave the field of play, play continues
• If a substitution is made during the half-time interval or before extra time, the procedure is to be completed before the second half or extra time kicks off
As you can see from these quotes, there is no limit on the number of players that may be substituted. However, remember that this particular facet of substitution was not written to consider the system of multiple substitutions that we see in many competitions.
October 28, 2014
Here is an update to Gil Weber’s sample set of pregame instructions.
Gil Weber’s Pregame Instructions
Copyright© 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011
These pregame instructions were originally written in 1999, and then were updated in 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2011 after International Football Association Board decisions and advisories from FIFA and USSF. Here now is the latest revision to include new instructions from FIFA and USSF plus “tweaks” based on my experiences over the past few years.
As I stated in the original preamble, adapt these instructions to your own style and temperament. Don’t try to repeat verbatim what you read here. Instead, think about the points I make, reflect on how I ask my assistant referees to deal with them, and then create your own pre-game spiel to meet the needs of your games and the experience levels of your assistant referees.
This is particularly important when you’re working with very young or inexperienced ARs. In their entirety these pregame instructions will utterly overwhelm a young AR who’s probably still trying to get comfortable switching the flag from hand to hand.
But assuming you’re working with ARs who have some reasonable comfort level on the touchline, this should cover just about everything. And so with that introduction, here goes.
October 20, 2014
Question about awarding an “assist” on a goal. If player A (from midfield, let’s say) makes a nice but short through-pass that sends Player B (a striker, let’s say) on a breakaway, and Player B has to take several touches to dribble close to the goal, and perhaps even has to evade a defender rushing back to tackle him, and Player B dribbles close to the net and scores, does player A get an assist for that?
I guess in a way, my question is, does player B have to immediately strike, volley, or head a ball into the goal for player A to get an assist?
Mind you, we don’t keep these stats. But the kids talk about it a lot, and I’m just curious to know the official answer.
Answer (October 20, 2014):
Assists are a totally unnecessary and worthless statistic, added to the list of other unnecessary statistics developed by sports statisticians (also generally unnecessary) to make their work seem important.
Here are three sources of information:
Definition: The pass or passes which immediately precede a goal; a maximum of two assists can be credited for one goal.
The general rule of thumb seems to be that no more than two players may be credited with assists on a goal and that the person geting the assist has some immediate “input” in the goal. I.e., the situation you posit would not qualify for an assist.
The only statistics that truly matter for a team are wins, losses, draws, goals scored, and goals against. Assists are pure vanity. (Strangely enough, no one seems to keep such statistics for own goals. If they did that, then the team scored against would have more depressing and useless statistics to show off.)
October 19, 2014
Law- 14 penalty kicks.
The Defending Goalkeeper
As stated by the rules of Fifa
The defending goalkeeper:
• must remain on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked.
My question is does the keeper have to keep a part of their body on the line until the ball is kicked? Or does the keeper have to keep both feet on the line until the ball is kicked? It is allowed for keepers to move side to side so the feet obviously do not have to be on the goal line. I would guess this question relates to the plane being broken. When watching any professional games it seems that the keeper is allowed to move forward as long as a part of the body is on the goal line in the plane between the goalposts. I am looking for some clarification on this rule because as I have gray areas of rules.
Answer (October 15, 2014):
As you note, the Law tells us that the defending goalkeeper must remain on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked. A later portion on Law 14, in the back of the Law book under Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees, reiterates that the referee must confirm, before the penalty kick is taken, that the goalkeeper is on the goal line between the goalposts and facing the kicker. If the goalkeeper violates these instructions, the kick may be taken; however, if the ball enters the goal, the goal is awarded. If the ball does not enter the goal, the kick is retaken.
To answer your question specifically, the goalkeeper must remain on the line. No specific body part is mentioned, because it is traditional that the goalkeeper be upright, both feet on the line. He or she may move along the line, but must not move forward or backward.
Not sure where any grayness might enter the picture, unless you take into account poor work by lazy referees at all levels of the game, those who allow the ‘keeper to move forward (or sometimes backward), which is not permitted until AFTER the ball has been kicked.
And one correction: The Laws of the Game are not written by FIFA. They are written by the International Football Association Board, of which FIFA is a member. FIFA publishes the Laws for all.
October 14, 2014
I am confused about the rules of your feet for throw-ins. Do you have to have 2 in completely or what? Thank you!
Answer (October 14, 2014):
Here are some illustrations of foot positioning that is allowed or not allowed. The shaded areas indicate where the thrower’s foot touches the ground.
October 13, 2014
Hello, I am a U10 coach in CA. And recently had a game where our goalie was kicked four seperate times while picking up the ball,twice in the hand, leg and chest. I got a little verble by saying how many time are they going to kick our goalie before the Ref does something. The Fef came over to me and said our goalie did not have “possession” of the ball. I replied what does that have to do with kicking the goalie.
I was under the impression and have been teaching our team that if a goalie had even a finger on the ball not to kick the ball because that is putting the goalie in danger and would draw a red card.
So my questions are,
1- in u10 what is the rule on kicking the ball if a goalie is touching the ball .
2- if while attempting to kick a ball that the goalie is touching but kicks the goalie instead, Is there a foul or at least a warning to that player or coach?
3- if there are multiple players directly in front of the goal from both teams all scambling and kicking the ball, during the chaos can the goalie pick the ball up if the last foot on the ball was one from his own team, Not an attentional pass.
Could you give me a clear answer and give me a link in the rule book were I can reference.
Answer (October 13, 2014):
Coach, Answers here depend on what rules your team is playing, i.e., USYSA U10 small-sided rules, normal Laws of the Game (the rules the world plays by), or something else. For US Youth Soccer Rules (and links to the Laws of the Game and other interesting items, see http://www.usyouthsoccer.org/coaches/PolicyonPlayersandPlayingRules/ .
Yes, the Laws of the Game (again, I cannot speak for any local rules) suggest that a player be sent off for kicking or attempting to kick any other player, if the act is seen as either serious foul play or violent conduct:
A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits any of the following seven offences:
• serious foul play
• violent conduct
Clearly your referee needs to see his or her optometrist very soon. Why? Because the goalkeeper is considered to be in possession of the ball if he has as few as one finger on the ball and is pinning it to any surface (ground, body, whatever). And, as you state, it makes no difference if the goalie actually has possession of the ball when he is kicked; it’s still a foul (and possible misconduct).
On to your questions:
1. As above, either a direct free kick and no disciplinary action or a direct free kick and either a caution (yellow card) or send-off (red card). This is no different in U10 rules than in the Laws of the Game.
2. Usually immediate dismissal for serious foul play, followed by the direct free kick. Coaches do not receive any warnings; they either behave responsibly or are expelled for irresponsible behavior.
3. Yes. It would be a very poor referee who called this an infringement of the Laws.
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.
October 2, 2014
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?
September 29, 2014
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.
September 17, 2014
Player takes a throw-in, throws ball at opponent (not hard or violent) bounces off opponent, throw takes possession of ball.
This was happening all game and I think thrower was intentionally doing hit.
Can you help me?
Answer (September17, 2014):
This tactic, if performed as you describe it, is perfectly legal. U. S. Soccer’s guidance to referees is that if a throw-in taken in such a way that the ball strikes an opponent is not by itself a violation of the Law. The act must be evaluated separately as a form of striking and dealt with appropriately if judged to be unsporting behavior (caution) or violent conduct (send off from the field). In either event, if deemed a violation, the restart is located at the place where the throw-in struck the opponent. If the throw-in is deemed to have been taken incorrectly, the correct restart is a throw-in.