2006 Part 3

Your question:
What is the “official” policy on medi-alert bracelets and knecklaces? Further, what is the policy on the rubber message bracelets (i.e. Livestrong, Breast Cancer, MIA, etc.)?USSF answer (September 29, 2006):
These answers from the past should cover your questions:
1. September 29, 2005, with reference to medicalert and other sorts of bracelets
As we responded to a query in May 2003, no referee should refuse to allow a medicalert bracelet to be worn if it is properly taped. Under the provisions of Law 4 (Players Equipment), referees are required to ensure that no player wears equipment that is dangerous to him-/herself or to any other participant. This means that sometimes we have to sacrifice the good of one player for the good of all other players.

We have responded to questions about jewelry and other non-standard equipment many times. We always state that while jewelry is not allowed, there are two permissible exceptions to the ban on jewelry: medicalert jewelry that can guide emergency medical personnel in treating injured players and certain religious items that are not dangerous and not likely to provide the player with an unfair advantage. Anything that is decorative or possibly dangerous to the player or to others is not permitted.

For further information on the requirements of the Law for player safety, see the USSF National Program for Referee Development’s position papers of 7 March 2003 on “Player’s Equipment” and 17 March 2003 on “Player Equipment (Jewelry).”

We agree that there would seem to be only one solution to your dilemma, the tennis wristband you suggested yourself, with the words MEDIC ALERT on it. The U. S. Soccer Federation cannot give blanket permission for any item of non-standard equipment. This band would still have to be inspected and approved by the referee on each game in which your son plans to participate. If the referee does not approve the band, because it does not appear to be safe for all participants, then your son will not be able to play. As stated in Law 4, the decision of the referee is final.

Explain the facts of your son’s problems to the league and show them this note. We would hope that the league will show common sense and approve the wrist band being worn. A referee would not make anyone take a wrist band off because it was dangerous so–what difference does it make in this case if it is tape or a wrist band?

2. November 19, 2004, with reference to any “message” bracelets. No jewelry, no adornments. These bands are loose and could be very dangerous.


GOALKEEPER HANDLING AND PENALTY AREA LINES
Your question:
You may have answered this one already but I¹m not totally sure.

I¹d like to distill this question down to its simplest form, without reading a whole let extra into it. It¹s been the source of a long debate in some different discussion forums, and we have at least one official who is holding fast to his personal interpretation in the face of an overwhelming number of officials who think differently.

In looking at ATR 12.20 as it is worded in the August, 2006 edition, a debate has arisen over this issue.

I contend, along with a large number of my colleagues, that if a ball is deliberately passed back to a teammates goalkeeper he/she may not pick it up with their hands. This applies whether the ball is passed back to the keeper while he/she is already in the penalty area, or if the keeper receives the deliberate pass back outside the penalty area and then proceeds to dribble the ball back into the penalty area and pick it up once it is in the PA. In either case, I believe that the ATR is telling us that ³by the book² this infraction should be treated as a technical foul for which the attacking team would be awarded an indirect free kick at the spot where the keeper picked up the ball (subject, of course, to the rules regarding restarts for IFK infractions that occur inside the goal area).

Others say that it has to be passed back to where the keeper can play it with their hands in order to result in the IFK, so receiving a pass back from a teammate outside the PA and dribbling it back into the penalty area to pick it us is not a technical foul. Unfortunately, the way that ATR 12.20 is written, a case could be made for either conclusion.

Can you set the record straight on this one?

USSF answer (September 29, 2006):
There are always soccer lawyers who will try to twist the written word to fit the meaning they want.

Advice 12.20 says:
QUOTE
12.20 BALL KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER
A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he or she touches the ball with the hands directly after it has been deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate. The requirement that the ball be kicked means only that it has been played with the foot. The requirement that the ball be “kicked to” the goalkeeper means only that the play is to or toward a place where the keeper can legally handle the ball. The requirement that the ball be “deliberately kicked” means that the play on the ball is deliberate and does not include situations in which the ball has been, in the opinion of the referee, accidentally deflected or misdirected. The goalkeeper has infringed the Law by handling the ball after initially playing the ball in some other way (e.g., with the feet). This offense, like any other, may be ignored for the moment if it is trifling or doubtful (see Advice 5.6).

NOTE: (a) The goalkeeper is permitted to dribble into the penalty area and then pick up any ball played legally (not kicked deliberately to the goalkeeper or to a place where the goalkeeper can easily play it) by a teammate or played in any manner by an opponent. (b) This portion of the Law was written to help referees cope with timewasting tactics by teams, not to punish players who are playing within the Spirit of the Game.
END OF QUOTE

A place where the goalkeeper may “play” the ball does not mean where the goalkeeper may play it with the hands. It should be clear from 12.20 that the goalkeeper is not permitted to dribble into the penalty area a ball deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate and then pick it up. That is not permitted under any circumstances. Of course, the goalkeeper may dribble (“play”) any ball played toward him or her with the feet. The infringement does not occur until the ‘keeper plays the ball with the hands.

Tell your dissenting colleagues to get a life.


ENSURE SAFETY, BUT DO NOT DICTATE WHO CAN OR CANNOT PLAY [REVISED]
Your question:
Player A collides with Player B, and in the process Player A is inadvertently hit in the head by Player B. Player A falls to the ground but never loses consciousness. Play is stopped and the trainer is called. Player A is taken off the field. The referee then informs the coach for Player A that she cannot re-enter the game at all based on their assessment of her health, even though a certified trainer for the school says that she is clear to play (without symptoms). Is this allowed? According to what I’ve read about Rule 5, the referee is not liable for any injury suffered by a player, spectator or official during the course of the game, but is obvsiouly looking out for the health of any player.

USSF answer (September 27, 2006):
[NOTE: This answer is a revision of an answer dated September 19, 2006]
In reading this answer, please remember that the U. S. Soccer Federation has no authority over games not played under its aegis, nor over the referees who officiate them.

Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has no direct authority to prevent a player from participating for unspecified reasons. While the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players, it does not give the referee the right to prevent the further participation of a player who has been treated for injury and cleared to play by a trainer or medical doctor. The only possible reason would be that player was still bleeding or had blood on his or her uniform.

If there is a trainer and/or medically trained person officially affiliated with the team or the competition authority (including, where relevant, the tournament), the referee should defer to that person’s decision as to whether a player’s return to the field following a serious injury would be safe. In the absence of such a person, the referee retains the authority under the Law to determine if a player is still seriously injured and, if necessary, to stop play and to require that player to again leave the field.  The Law does not allow the referee to prevent the return of the player to the field, but once play resumes with that player on the field, the referee reverts to his or her original duty to stop play if, in the referee’s opinion, the player is seriously injured.  As always, the referee must use common sense in making such a potentially controversial decision and must include full details in the match report.

Caveat: The referee should exercise intelligence and common sense when dealing with someone who claims medical expertise but who does not meet the requirement of being officially approved (for example, comes down from the stands or from among the spectators).


SUBSTITUTES AND GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITIES
Your question:
Your question: A substitute for the defending team enters the field and handles the ball just as it is struck by an opposing player. What does the referee do if, in his or her opinion, the ball would have gone into the goal if it had not been handled by the substitute?

USSF answer (September 25, 2006):
No matter how unsporting his act, the substitute has not committed an offense which meets the requirements for a direct sending off under Law 12. Thus the restart in this case may only be an indirect free kick, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8. Why? Because when a substitute has entered the field without permission, the only possible restart is an indirect free kick for the illegal entry, and this is the offense which interfered with a goal or goal-scoring opportunity. No other restart may be considered. The substitute would be cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without permission. The referee might also caution the substitute for unsporting behavior (showing a lack of respect for the game by bringing the game into disrepute through his cynical interference with play). Because the substitute had just been cautioned for illegally entering the field, this would be the substitute’s second caution of the game and he would therefore also be sent off and shown the red card. The substitute could NOT be sent off for preventing a goal or a goalscoring opportunity, because he was not a player.

The International F. A. Board has made it very clear that, regardless of what a substitute does after illegally entering the field, the restart is controlled by the illegal entry, not by whatever the substitute did after illegally entering the field. This applies whether the substitute simply tackles the ball away, handles the ball, or acts in any violent way against an opponent with or without the ball. In the case of (a) an additional cautionable offense committed after the illegal entry, the referee should caution the substitute and show the yellow card, immediately following the yellow card with a red card to signal dismissal; or in the case of (b) violent conduct, the referee should send off the substitute and show the red card without the necessity of first showing a yellow card for the illegal entry (but full details must be included in the game report).

This situation illustrates the need for referees and assistant referees and fourth officials of youth and adult games to maintain very close vigilance over where substitutes are. They must be restricted to the team area and not allowed to warm up anywhere but behind their teams.


OFFSIDE–OR NOT?
Your question:
Two blue attacking players are standing in an offside position. A blue teammate passes a ball over the second to last red defender towards the goal. The two blue players run in the direction of the ball. A fourth blue player, who was onside at the moment the ball was passed, runs past the two teammates, plays the ball, and fires it into the goal. As the assistant referee, at what point do you signal offside?
A. When the ball was kicked over the second to last red defender
B. When the ball was touched by the fourth blue attacker
C. When you saw the two blue players running in the direction of the ball
D. There is no offside infringement

USSF answer (September 25, 2006):
This quote from an August 2006 USSF memorandum should be helpful:
QUOTE
The proper interpretation and application of Law 11 have been evolving in recent years. To this end, the International Board has provided detailed definitions of the ways in which a player may become involved in active play (Law 11, International Board Decision 2). On August 17, 2005, a Circular from the FIFA further clarified some of the confusion regarding whether “touching the ball” was a requirement for “interfering with play” (emphasis added):
– A player in an offside position may be penalized before playing or touching the ball if, in the opinion of the referee, no other teammate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball.
– If an opponent becomes involved in the play and if, in the opinion of the referee, there is potential for physical contact, the player in the offside position shall be penalized for interfering with an opponent.
END OF QUOTE

If the player who had been in the onside position when the ball was played gets there first, then there is no offside.


PLACEMENT OF THE BALL ON CORNER KICKS
Your question:
[Note: This question has been abridged to be more readily understandable.]
The Law states the ball has to be within the corner arc, this is ambiguous. What does this mean?

Does it mean that a portion of the ball can be outside the corner arc as long as the circumference of the ball is over the top of the line or touching the plane of the line? Is this still considered to be inside the corner arc, even though the ball is not in physical contact with the line? Or does it mean that the ball has be physically touching a blade of white grass to be considered in the corner arc?

I have read the LAWs of the GAME and advice to the referees 2005 and 2006 several times and discussed it with highly experienced refs and it is not clear, at least not to me.

I have looked at the illustrations in the FIFA LAWS and the ADVICE booklets. The illustrations for corner arc appear to match the illustrations for ball out of play (touchline and goal line), goal area for goal kicks and illustration for a goal scored and the foot over the WHOLE line for illegal throw in. Each of these illustrations and all the situations I know of in soccer always consider the WHOLE ball and the WHOLE LINE.

If the corner arc is different, please explain why this different ruling is logical or makes sense in the game?

If I said a corner kick must be inside the corner arc area would I be correct? If so does that mean it has to touch the line of the corner arc or the touchline or goal line or just the corner arc?

USSF answer (September 20, 2006):
Short answer: At a corner kick the ball must be inside the arc, which means it may not rest outside the arc and thus simply break the plane of the line(s).

Long answer: Putting the ball into play from a corner kick is quite different from judging the ball to be either in or out of play over a boundary line. These are two different concepts and are covered in several different Laws. There is absolutely no ambiguity in Law 17.

Law 9 tells us that the ball is out of play when it has wholly crossed the goal line or touch line whether on the ground or in the air or when play has been stopped by the referee, and that the ball is in play at all other times. That obviously has nothing to do with restarts.

Law 17 requires the ball to be “placed inside the corner arc.” If it is on the ground outside the arc, it is not inside the arc, no matter that it may break the plane of that arc.

The requirement is not quite the same for goal kicks, at which the ball may simply break the plane of the line to be ready to put into play. Why? Because Law 16 requires only that the ball be kicked from any point within the goal area. Law 15 does not deal with the line and when the ball is in play with regard to the line, as the ball may still be in the hands of the thrower as it crosses the line and enters the field before it has been released into play.

As to enforcing the placement, although we have now made clear what the Law technically says about ball placement on a corner kick, the practical referee question must always be, “so what?”  Consider an incorrect placement of the ball as a trifling offense unless it REALLY made a difference.


PUTTING THE BALL INTO PLAY AT A FREE KICK
Your question:
This has been discussed on SOCREF-L twice in the last few weeks. I was quite surprised when several of the experienced referees stated that they would retake the kick if the ball was not properly put in play. I have always thought that if player #1 takes some action with the ball that does not put it in play, then player #2 puts the ball in play when he kicks it directly into the goal. It never occurred to me that player #2 was not allowed to put the ball in play in this situation. If the original restart was an IFK, I would award a goal kick to the defending team. Since others seemed to disagree, I wondered if I was missing something in my reasoning.

USSF answer (September 20, 2006):
If, at an indirect free kick, one player simply touches the ball without moving it and the second player then kicks it straight into the goal, the correct restart is a goal kick. However, if the ball touched any other player on the way into the goal, the goal would be scored.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION AND CHALLENGES
Your question:
Please clarify when fouls should be called, or not, when the goalie is scrambling for the ball and attacker(s) are trying to kick it into the goal. e.g. sliding into the goalie when trying to get the goal, etc.

USSF answer (September 20, 2006):
If an opponent is challenging the goalkeeper for a ball on the ground, both are allowed to play it fairly. If the goalkeeper has the ball under control, meaning that it is within his or her grasp (which can be nothing more than a finger pinning the ball to the ground or to the body), then the opponent must stop the challenge. Accidents may happen, but they will still be called as a foul against the opponent. If the goalkeeper does not have the ball under control, then the opponent may continue to try to win the ball fairly. In addition, the referee must take full consideration of the age and skill levels of the players.

ENSURE SAFETY, BUT DO NOT DICTATE WHO CAN OR CANNOT PLAY

Your question:
Player A collides with Player B, and in the process Player A is inadvertently hit in the head by Player B. Player A falls to the ground but never loses consciousness. Play is stopped and the trainer is called. Player A is taken off the field. The referee then informs the coach for Player A that she cannot re-enter the game at all based on their assessment of her health, even though a certified trainer for the school says that she is clear to play (without symptoms). Is this allowed? According to what I’ve read about Rule 5, the referee is not liable for any injury suffered by a player, spectator or official during the course of the game, but is obviously looking out for the health of any player.

Answer (September 19, 2006):
In reading this answer, please remember that the U. S. Soccer Federation has no authority over games not played under its aegis, nor over the referees who officiate them.

Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has no direct authority to prevent a player from participating for unspecified reasons. While the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players, it does not give the referee the right to prevent the further participation of a player who has been treated for injury and cleared to play by a trainer or medical doctor. The only possible reason would be that player was still bleeding or had blood on his or her uniform.

DELAYING THE RESTART OF PLAY

Your question:
Last week, I was an AR for a U12 Boy’s Soccer Game. In the 2nd half, after a goal was scored, the keeper took the ball out of the goal and went to toss it to his teammate to kick it off.

In the process, the players that scored the goal took the ball away from the keeper and then bounced it in front of him and celebrated. It was a rude act and went beyond celebrating. They then tossed it for the kick off.

Is this a caution for both players? Does the player who bounced the ball in front of the keeper to be rude deserve more punishment that the other player?

Also, the referee (center) saw this, but did nothing. As an AR, should I raise the flag and say that I believe the players deserve cautions?

Answer (September 13, 2006):
The IFAB, the people who make and amend the Laws of the Game, anticipated your question and made a change in the Laws this year. If you look in the back of the book, you will find the section on “Additional Instructions.” In that section, you will see, under 2. ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR REFEREES, ASSISTANT REFEREES AND FOURTH OFFICIALS
Delaying the restart of play
a new bullet point 6:
Referees must caution players who delay the restart of play by tactics such as:
[followed by a list of five bullet points unchanged from the present text and then]
– provoking a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play

In the Memorandum 2006, the Federation gave the following “USSF Advice to Referees: This new bullet point reflects the results of an experiment approved by the IFAB for certain competitions in 2005. The behavior which is the focus of this instruction includes attempts by a scoring team to take possession of the ball from the opponent’s goal and players who attempt to gain control of the ball at a stoppage, in either case in a manner which, in the opinion of the referee, would provoke the opposing team. Referees should attempt to anticipate and forestall such offenses, saving the caution for the most flagrant cases where the offending player is unwilling to desist in the provocation. If the caution is unavoidable, it must be reported for delaying the restart of play.”

The acts you describe in your question would be covered by this new bullet point. You were correct and the referee was incorrect.

LEAVING THE FIELD OF PLAY

Your question:
At the taking of a corner kick, an attacker runs from the far post to the near post. To get around the keeper, who is standing on the goal line, he goes inside the goal. Is this permissible:
1. If the action takes place prior to the kick?
2. If the action takes places after the ball is in play (i.e. in the air)?
3. If a defender marking the attacker runs into his own keeper as a result of the run by the defender?

I know a player may temporarily cross the boundary lines to get around another player without having been considered off the FOP in terms of Leaving Without Permission, but going in the goal and returning to gain an advantage seems a special case. My inclination is to stop play, caution for UB, and either take the kick (if not taken) or IFK out from the 6 (where attacker left the FOP + special circumstances). Can you give any guidance for this situation?

Re: #3, ignoring the FOP departure, if two teammates run into each other that seems to me to be their own problem.

Answer (September 12, 2006):
It would not be a very clever play, as the possibility for interference with or impeding of the goalkeeper is always there, but the ploy is legal, as long as it is during the course of play and the player who enters the goal does not interfere in ANY way with the goalkeeper. In addition, let us emphasize that in general the player is expected to stay on the field.

And yes, the matter of two teammates running into one another would be their own problem, not the referee’s.

CAUTIONS FOR DELIBERATELY HANDLING THE BALL

Question:
I’m a USSF ref and have a question about when handling the ball by an offensive player in the penalty area rises to the level of a caution being issued.

I was watching a college game. Team A had a throw-in deep in its offensive zone. The throw went into the box and several players from both teams jumped in a attempt to head the all. One of the Team A players while jumping raised his arms over his head and the ball struck one of his arms and then he swatted the ball to the ground. The referee correctly stopped play and awarded a DFK to Team B but he also gave the Team A player a caution. >From my vantage point on the sidelines it didn’t appear that the Team A players was attempting to score by using his hand.

Answer (September 12, 2006):
This applies to games played under the Laws of the Game. Your answer lies in the Additional Instructions for Referees at the end of your book of the Laws:
Cautions for unsporting behavior by deliberately handling the ball
There are circumstances when, in addition to a free kick being awarded, a player must also be cautioned for unsporting behavior, e.g. when a player:
– deliberately and blatantly handles the ball to prevent an opponent gaining possession
– attempts to score a goal by deliberately handling the ball

BALL KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER

Question:
A fellow referee & I were discussing a call he made during a girls high school game. A defender deliberately kicked the ball with her foot back to the keeper who attempted to play the ball with her foot. The ball glanced off her foot and headed toward the goal line. The keeper ran back and picked up the ball with her hands. The referee allowed play to continue. He and his partner reasoned after the game that because the keeper intended to play the ball with her foot and had actually made contact with the ball that she could then be allowed to pick the ball up with her hands. I disagreed with him and said he should have awarded an IFK to the attacking team.. Your thoughts please.

Answer (September 12, 2006):
The fact that the goalkeeper attempted to play the ball with her foot does not override the fact that the ball was deliberately kicked by a teammate. However, the principle behind the change in the Laws was to prevent time wasting. It appears clear from the situation you describe that there were no timewasting tactics here, so the intelligent referee might decide to overlook this trifling infringement and continue on with the game.

BALL PLACEMENT FOR CORNER KICK

Question:
I have received a number of questionsregarding placement of the ball for a corner kick. Something so simple as this has been confounded by me and I have made a probably incorrect assumption. Where this came from I don’t know but it’s stuck in my mind. The Law states inside the corner arc. Q&A and Advice both show diagrams of what is correct and incorrect. I checked the grade 8 slides on the website and found them in agreement with the aforementioned diagrams.

Is the corner arc “different” than any other field marking? Is the ball in contact with the extended plane of the corner arc sufficient to place it in the corner area or is this different? Is this like the ball in or out of play, a goal scored or not, in or out of the penalty area, etc. It’s a matter of inches and semantics and consistency and I may have answered incorrectly so I feel compelled to ask ‘the burning bush” again. If I have made an error I need to get the proper word out to the referees I misinformed.

Answer (September 11, 2006):
This answer of October 21, 2004, has not changed:
It has been clearly stated by the International F. A. Board, the makers of the Laws of the Game, that the ball must be within or physically touch the lines demarcating the corner arc.

The rule the player in your incident refers to applies only to balls being either in play or out of play. In those situations, the ball must simply break the vertical plane of the line to be in play and need not touch the line physically. This does not apply to the corner kick. You will find a diagram on corner kick placement in the IFAB/FIFA publication “Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, which can be downloaded from www.fifa.com.

GOALKEEPER POSSESSION

Question:
Another interesting question: In a recent U18 match, I had a shot that went wide of the goal. The keeper went after the ball, as did a player from the offense as the ball was headed towards the goal line. The goalkeeper subsequently dove to knock the ball over the goal line with his hands while within the penalty area, and in the process, the attacking player tripped over his outstretched arms (since he was in close proximity to play the ball).

It did not appear that the attacking player was “playing” the goalkeepers arms, and the fall was not a violent tackle. Neither player was hurt in the tackle.

Since the ball was driven over the goal line by a member of the defensive team, I awarded a corner kick. I have checked with a few officials, and the results have been mixed. One stated that since the keeper had posession when he touched the ball, I should have issued a DFK for fouling the keeper. Another said that the keeper and the player from the offense both had a fair shot at the ball, and since the offense player did not deliberately kick the keepers arms (in fact, he tripped over them), that it was a “no foul” situation.

I’m looking for some guidance here. From what I have written, what would you suggest is the right restart?

Answer (September 9, 2006):
The goalkeeper establishes possession by controlling the ball with his (or her) hand(s), but deflecting the ball does not establish either control or possession. Merely touching the ball is not enough (keeping in mind the need to judge possession by the age and skill of the players). The ball needs to be held by both hands or trapped between one hand and a surface or held in the outstretched hand.

No foul by either player. The correct decision was the corner kick.

REFEREE BEHAVIOR AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Question:
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions ….. this is an informative and useful website.

My question is: What are the rules and guidelines for regulating referee behavior on and off the field? I know that the rules published by FIFA list the actions that a referee needs to take to govern the game within the rules, but I would assume that there must be some rules that outline acceptable and unacceptable behavior by a referee and referee conduct.

Specifically, is a referee allowed to make comments like ‘this is going to cost you $2 for my time’ when the game is stopped to allow a player to do up their shoe laces? At the time of a player substitution comments are made like ‘I will take onions and tomatoes with this sub’. ‘Your presence at this game is purely optional and you are not allowed to yell from the side lines’ a comment made to a parent. This comments are just a few examples of the repertoire that this official carried on on the field.

What is the correct disciplinary procedure when a referee is blatantly biased and through his comments and behavior controls the outcome of a game. How is this controlled and corrected. These referees have a huge influence on fair play, morals and conduct of players when they are not professional. This behavior brings the game of soccer into dispute!

The particular situation was a high school soccer tournament.

Answer (September 8, 2006):
While referees are expected to enjoy themselves while they are working on the field, even to the extent of making small jokes, their commentary should be appropriate to the circumstances of the game.

The U. S. Soccer Federation’s National Program for Referee Development has a Code of Ethics:
Code of Ethics for Referees
(1) I will always maintain the utmost respect for the game of soccer.
(2) I will conduct myself honorably at all times and maintain the dignity of my position.
(3) I will always honor an assignment or any other contractual obligation.
(4) I will attend training meetings and clinics so as to know the Laws of the Game, their proper interpretation and their application.
(5) I will always strive to achieve maximum team work with my fellow officials.
(6) I will be loyal to my fellow officials and never knowingly promote criticism of them.
(7) I will be in good physical condition.
(8) I will control the players effectively by being courteous and considerate without sacrificing fairness.
(9) I will do my utmost to assist my fellow officials to better themselves and their work.
(10) I will not make statements about any games except to clarify an interpretation of the Laws of the Game.
(11) I will not discriminate against nor take undue advantage of any individual group on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
(12) I consider it a privilege to be a part of the United States Soccer Federation and my actions will reflect credit upon that organization and its affiliates.

In addition, the initial statement in the USSF’s Referee Administrative Handbook says:
I, as a referee, am committed to:
1. Officiating matches in a fair and safe manner that ensures player and spectator enjoyment.
2. Maintaining my physical fitness for peak performance.
3. Faithfully keeping all appointments assigned to and accepted by me.
4. Supporting my fellow officials with loyalty, pride and dignity.
5. Conducting myself in a way to be ethically and morally beyond reproach.
6. Granting players and coaches dignity and self-respect.
7. Contributing to the overall development of the National Program for Referee Development.
8. Remaining committed to continuous learning and an improvement process that enables me to perform to my full potential.

We would point out that this was a high-school tournament and likely not played under the Laws of the Game or affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation. In that case, if you want to file a complaint about the referee, you should work through the athletic director at the school through which your child participated in the tournament. You will need full details of date, place, teams, time day, and precisely what happened.

If you believe it was affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation and you wish to file a complaint against the referee, you should do so as is allowed in U. S. Soccer Federation Policy 531-10, Misconduct at a Match. You can find this policy at , select Services from the left hand menu, then Bylaws and Policies, click on the Policy Manual and it will come up. Then should scroll down to the appropriate policy. The complaint is filed with your state youth soccer association. Once again, you will need to supply full details of the incident(s).

YOUTH RULES

Question:
My son plays on a team Š in our community. It is all volunteer positions. It is a boys U8 level. I will attempt to help referee as we don’t need to be certified, can you send (email) me some game rules?

Answer (September 7, 2006):
You can download the rules for all U. S. Youth Soccer small-sided games at the following URL:
http://www.usyouthsoccer.org/index.php?s=&url_channel_id=5&url_article_id=1217&url_subchannel_id=&change_well_id=2

Full-sided games generally use the same unmodified Laws of the Game (also known as the “FIFA Rules”) as adult soccer.

Some competitions modify the rules for their particular needs. Check with your state youth soccer association to see what they recommend.

BRINGING THE GAME INTO DISREPUTE

Question:
I noticed on the game reports for the MLS games the players are issued yellow cards for bringing the game in disrepute. What does this mean? What is it replacing or adding to?

Answer (September 7, 2006):
“Bringing the game into disrepute” means doing something that is totally counter the spirit of the game, which is meant to be played fairly and in a sporting manner. Such acts show a lack of respect for the game, e. g., aggressive attitude, inflammatory behavior, deliberately kicking the ball into one’s own goal or taunting.

REFEREE UPGRADE GAME REQUIREMENTS

Question:
A couple of Grade 8 referees were discussing upgrading to Grade 7 and there was some confusion on what games count toward the 75 Referee and 25 AR requirements. We tend to referee the following types of games and could not come to an agreement on what games count.

1. U-14 to U-19 games using a three man (DSC) system, with age appropriate durations
2. Tournament games involving only USSF affiliated teams using DSC and shortened halves
3. U-9 to U14 games using club linesmen, with age appropriate game durations

Page 20 of the Referee Administrative Handbook requires games to be “US Federation Games” in order for them to be counted towards an upgrade to Grade 7. The argument given for all three types of games to count seems logical, but some confirmation is requested. The argument was as follows:
1. The only question for this would be the game durations, but page 3 of the USSF/FIFA LOTG states that for any games involving players under 16 years the duration of the games may be altered. So these games should count.
2. These should count for the same reason as part 1 as long as the tournament and all teams involved are affiliated with USSF.
3. The use of club linesmen, although not desired, still constitutes a USSF affiliated game due to item 4 of the preferred alternatives to the DSC listed on page 36 of the Referee Administrative Handbook. It doesn’t seem fair to penalize the center referee just because there are not enough referees available to have 3 at every game.

Please lend some insight into this issue as it has a large impact on those of us who are looking to progress through the ladder as referees.

Answer (September 6, 2006):
Any games specified in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) can be counted for advancement. Games played with shortened halves do not count; the periods must be age appropriate, as specified by the Laws of the Game, USSF and USYS. USYS has specified times for the halves of all age groups. As noted in the RAH, games with club linesmen may be counted.

For further information, check with your state referee administrator(s). It is they who apply the policies of the U. S. Soccer Federation.

WHEN TO START THE CLOCK

Question:
For proper kick off, do we start the watch first than signal for KO or start the watch after proper KO.

We have the first version in the Procedure and second version from AYSO.

Answer (August 29, 2006):
How about a compromise? When working USSF games, start your watch before kick-off–and remember to add a few seconds in addition to everything else. When working AYSO and less-competitive USYS games, start your watch after kick-off–but remember the perils of possibly forgetting to push the button, quick attacks, lots of action, etc.

The referee needs to remember that the modern competitive game is very fast, right from the very start. There are often many things going on at once. Because a goal can be scored directly from a kick-off, it is vital that the referee be able to observe everything that is happening from the moment of the kick. There simply is no leeway in a high-level game for the referee to be looking down at his watch, possibly fumbling with its controls, while the players are playing! For those reasons, it is better in competitive games to start the watch before the kick-off than to have the kick-off and then forget to start the watch. The referee can always add time later.

This answer was coordinated with AYSO.

INSTRUCTORS: PLEASE GET IT RIGHT!

Question:
I’m [an instructor]. [We] have a question about the 2006/2007 State Referee Exam, which we administered today at our Fall re-certification run and refresher exam clinic.

Question 23 paints a scenario where a substitute enters the field of play and violently tackles an opponent about to take a shot from 2 yards inside the goal area. The question asks whether it is true or false that the Referee should restart with a dropped ball at the edge of the goal area. The answer on the USSF answer key is FALSE.

What are we missing??? If the referee stops play due to the actions of an outside agent, the restart should be a dropped ball, and the special circumstances of Law 8 specify the location of the drop.

We considered that perhaps the reasoning was that the referee stopped play to issue a Send-Off, and the restart would be an Indirect Free Kick, but that should apply only to players who are being cautioned or sent-off for misconduct.

Answer (August 29, 2006):
You seem to have missed the changes in the 2005 Laws of the Game, which include making the restart for illegal entry by a substitute an indirect free kick. Here is the quote, direct from Law 3:
Infringements/Sanctions
If a substitute enters the field of play without the referee¹s permission:
– play is stopped
– the substitute is cautioned, shown the yellow card and required to leave the field of play
– play is restarted with an indirect free kick at the place the ball was located when play was stopped * (see page 3)

This was also recognized in the IFAB/FIFA Q&A 2006, Law 3, Q&A 5. The Board has, in effect, laid out the general proposition that, if a substitute enters the field illegally, no matter what the substitute subsequently does or has done to him, the restart is ALWAYS determined by the offense that occurred first–the illegal entry onto the field.

UNSPORTING BEHAVIOR BY ENTIRE TEAM

Question:
A player from our team was in the process of taking a penalty kick when the entire opposing team, both on the field and on the bench started jumping up and down, waving their arms, and screaming at the top of their lungs. Our player shot the ball wide and the referee awarded a goal kick to the opposing team. Was this the correct call? My opinion (as a new grade 8 referee) was that the referee should have yellow carded one of the screaming players for unsporting behavior, warned the coach that a repeat performance would not be tolerated and allowed the PK to be retaken.

Answer (August 29, 2006):
While opposing players are allowed to jump up and down at the taking of a free kick, and a penalty kick would be included within this concept, they are traditionally not allowed to exhibit unsporting behavior. Shouting at an opponent is unsporting behavior. Before having the kick retaken, the referee should notify the captain that if this shouting and screaming is repeated at the retake, all players and substitutes will be cautioned and shown the yellow card and at least one of the coaches will be expelled for failing to behave responsibly–and the kick will be retaken once again. Then, if the shouting and screaming is repeated, the referee must follow through. If the unsporting behavior is repeated yet again, the referee will declare the match abandoned and submit a full report to the competition authority.

LET’S GET OUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT, FOLKS!

Question:
Recently I officiated at a youth tournament as both a Center and as an AR. The assignor for this particular tournament requires each Center to submit a game report that in addition to covering the game itself, also contains the Center’s personal assessment of his assigned assistants Š everything from timeliness, uniform, foul recognition, field mechanics. The assignor uses this feedback to assist the development of the referees she assigns. Certainly a very commendable requirement and a great way to help all of our refs improve, particularly our younger refs.

However, one issue surfaced that I am unclear on. I Centered the first game and did a report on my assistants (one an adult, the other a Grade 8 teen). One of the questions I had to answer dealt with if the assistants were wearing the proper referee uniform. I reported that all was OK. But then my adult assistant in game 1 centered the second game of a 3 game set and marked this same teen down for wearing a pair of black shorts on which the Nike swoosh could be seen. I learned of this when the assignor asked me if I had seen the same uniform violation in the game I centered. I saw the swoosh but did not consider it a violation as the rest of the shorts were completely black and of the appropriate length, etc. So I did not report it as a violation. However, both the Assignor and the Center insist that the only proper referee shorts are those that are completely black period. I am not sure this is correct. See below.

The Administrative Handbook for Referees clearly indicates that black shorts are part of the approved referee uniform.

However, the handbook also states in part that “only manufacturer’s logos and U.S. Soccer approved badges and/or emblems may be visible on the referee uniform.”

The quoted portion above would appear to imply that it’s okay for a manufacturer’s emblem to appear on shorts so long as the rest of the garment is black. Thus no white stripes down the seam or anything like that.

I realize that this is hardly a question of monumental importance but the young teen is upset at being marked down for this on the Center’s evaluation of her.

Once again, I applaud the assignor’s desire to improve her stable of refs but believe the admin handbook could be interpreted as allowing the swoosh (or other manufacturer logo such as Law 5 brand name to be visible) on the shorts.

Would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Answer (August 22, 2006):
While the basic color of referee shorts is black, there is no statute compelling referees to wear any particular manufacturer’s uniform. As you point out, the Referee Administrative Handbook does state, regarding Logos, Emblems and Badges: ” Only manufacturer’s logos and U.S. Soccer approved badges and/or emblems may be visible on the referee uniform.” Even clothing supplied by the Federation’s sponsor, Official Sports International, carries a logo.

A competition authority might certainly wish to regulate the uniform of its officials (just as it might the balls or nets used) if, for example, a major sponsor of the tournament or league were a manufacturer with a recognizable logo; however, if a tournament did that, it would be obliged to supply the required uniform, properly logo-ed, to all participating officials.

Apart from any competition authority regulation, evaluators should be more focused on providing feedback on matters that are of far more moment, those that relate to how well the official did the job, rather than on the wearing of a particular type of shorts.

BALL OF INCORRECT SIZE

Question:
In a B-14 match, after a goal had been scored and prior to the kick off, it was brought to the attention of the referee that the wrong size ball was being used. Apparantly, a size 4 had been thrown in from the bench area, after the size 5 The game had started with had gone over a fence behind the goal, and the referee had not inspected it. To compound the issue, the ball had last touched a defender before crossing the goal line.

In this instance the referee disallowed the goal, replaced the ball with a size 5, and restarted with a dropped ball at the six. Was this correct?

Answer (August 21, 2006):
Let’s look at it from another angle: Nothing occurred in this situation of using a “wrong” sized ball that would have increased the likelihood of scoring. There was no illegal condition that could even possibly be related to the scoring itself. Score the goal and restart with a kick-off. Report full details to the competition authority.

The referee’s failure to inspect the ball cannot be held against the team that scored the goal. After the game the referee should have begun memorizing Laws 2 and 5 verbatim, so as to remember the next time to always inspect all balls that are used in the game

GOALKEEPER “PROTECTION”

Question:
I am getting sick of coaches that instruct their goal keepers’ that it is Ok for them to raise their knees as protection, after catching the ball in traffic. I have maintained that this practice is unacceptable, citing the act as dangerous and unsporting behavior, punishable by a caution (verbal or with the show of a card). What is your take on this issue?

Another issue of contention involve a goalkeeper attempting to pick up a ball, arms stretched, fingers out, and someone (opponent) sliding or attempting to kick the ball. Some coaches’ always screamed “oh,ref….he didn’t have possession). I have always called it and cautioned the offending player. That has not made me very popular. Please advise. A lot is riding on this.

Answer (August 22, 2006):
We provided information on how and when goalkeepers may protect themselves and what they may not do back on January 31, 2005:
QUOTE
May a goalkeeper be called for playing dangerously or fouling an opponent? Surely, but it is a matter for the referee to decide on a case-by-case basis. There is no clear, black-and-white answer. Clearly, the referee’s decision would have to be based on the specific level of risk involved and that, in turn, is a function of the age, experience, and skill of the players.

That does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that goalkeepers are allowed to use their protection under the Spirit of the Laws to harm other players. When leaping for the ball, all players, including goalkeepers, should aim to play the ball at the highest point possible. The striker jumps as high as he can to get his head on the ball, but the goalkeeper has the advantage of needing only to have his hands high enough to play the ball.

If the goalkeeper’s jump appears to be natural, with the knee lifted as part of achieving balance or additional height, then there is probably no foul on the part of the goalkeeper. However, if the lifting of the knee appears to be unnatural or contrived, or if the goalkeeper raises the knee only when the attacker comes near to the ball‹this is a common goalkeeper maneuver to intimidate opponents rather than “self protection” or the equally facile argument that it is used to achieve greater height — the referee may reach the conclusion that the goalkeeper is no longer protecting himself or attempting to gain greater altitude, but is attempting to send a message to the opponent. That sort of play must be punished.
END OF QUOTE

As to goalkeeper possession, we have also defined that many times, probably most clearly on February 12, 2004:
QUOTE
The goalkeeper establishes possession with as little as one finger on the ball, provided the ball is under his control (in the opinion of the referee) and the ball has been trapped against the ground or some other surface — the ‘keeper’s other hand, the ground, or even a goalpost.

If a player attempts to kick the ball from the goalkeeper’s hands, then the referee should stop the game for the foul of attempted kicking and caution the player for unsporting behavior (and show the yellow card), restarting with a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team. If the player’s foot makes contact with the goalkeeper during this action, the referee may consider sending the player off for serious foul play and showing him the red card.

The position of goalkeeper carries with it implicit dangers of heavy contact with other players. That is an accepted fact of the game. Other than being privileged to deliberately handle the ball within his own penalty area, the goalkeeper has no more rights than any other player.
END OF QUOTE

It is not clear from your question/statement just what the circumstances are when you caution players, but the goalkeeper should never be given more protection than he or she is allowed under the Laws of the Game.

“NATURAL” STOPPAGES

Question:
I have a question prompted by the recent USSF Memorandum on “Fouls, Misconduct and the Restart of Play” combined with an actual incident that happened in a game yesterday.

In yesterday’s game, Red had possession on the ball near midfield moving towards Blue’s goal. A Blue player fouled a Red attacker in a manner that deserved a caution, but other attackers continued and advantage was applied (and realized). About 10 seconds later the Blue GK cleared the ball and the attack was over (although the ball was still in play).

As the referee, I then immediately stopped play due to two concerns: (1) the two players involved in the foul were still together and I was concerned about retaliation or further escalation of the incident; and (2) the Blue player had a number only on his back (which I could not see during the incident), and I was concerned I would lose track of the guilty party if play continued.

After cautioning the player, we were a little uncertain about the correct restart. Did we stop play to issue a caution (in which case the misconduct should be an IFK from the spot of the misconduct) or did we stop play for another reason (in which case the restart might be a drop ball at the location of the ball)?

It’s been pointed put to me that the far easier solution would have been to allow play to continue until the ball went out of play, but the two factors cited above seemed of greater concern at the time and that stopping play was the better course of action.

Answer (August 22, 2006):
Many referees seem to believe that, when advantage is applied to misconduct, they must wait for a “natural stoppage.” However, we need to remember that Law 9 defines how play stops: the ball leaves the field or the referee stops. Period. Neither is more “natural” than the other. The referee could stop play for an injury, another foul, because it is Tuesday, or because the advantage already applied no longer exists.

Yes, the far easier solution would have been to wait until the ball went out of play, but, as you point out, you had good reason to stop it when you did. Therefore, you must follow the instructions under Law 12, Indirect Free Kicks:
“- commits any other offense, not previously mentioned in Law 12, for which play is stopped to caution or dismiss a player
“The indirect free kick is taken from where the offense occurred.* (see page 3)”

CORRECTION TO “ADVICE TO REFEREES” 2006 EDITION

Question:
In the July Ask the Referee it was stated: ³Persistent infringement of the Laws refers to violations of Law 12–and not for offside, second touch, illegal throw-in, etc.²

Also, in Advice to Referees it states in 12.28.3: ³It is not necessary for the multiple fouls to be of the same type or all to be direct free kick fouls, but infringements must be among those covered in Law 12 or involve repeated violations of Law 14.

Both statements seem to make clear the scope for which persistent infringement of the laws can be applied. However, later in 12.28.3 Advice states: ³Examples of persistent infringement include a player whoŠFails to start or restart play properly or promptly, having previously been warned². This seems to contradict the two previous statements, as most restarts are not found under Laws 12 or 14.

The reason I ask this is that I refereed a game last year in which a team consistently on throw-ins ran five to ten yards beyond the point where the ball went out of touch. I pointed to where the throw-ins should be taken and warned players of what was required. I was generally ignored on most first throw-in and I spent a large amount of time stopping play and asking the throw-in be retaken at the appropriate spot.

As throw-ins (Law 15) do not fall under Law 12 or 14, I felt I could not give a misconduct for persistent infringement. Later a fellow referee showed me the example from Advice and said I should have used persistent infringement as the basis for a yellow card.

Could I have used persistent infringement as a basis for misconduct in this situation or is another area of the law applicable?

Answer (August 18, 2006):
The reference to cautioning for persistent infringement if a player delays the restart of play is an error which will be corrected in the next version. In this case you and other referees should take your cue from what is in the 7+7 Memorandum. The other two (persistent commission of Law 12 fouls and a repeated violation of Law 14 after a warning) are consistent with the Advice.

GAME MANAGEMENT TOOLBOX

Question:
In a men’s open game as center referee I was repeatedly asked, “What’s the call ref?”. It was a type of gamesmanship. I was warned before the game by my AR that this team was a bunch of whiners, I wish he would have elaborated. How is best to handle this situation? It can start to throw you off your game.

Answer (August 14, 2006):
One of the referee’s best management tools is selective hearing.

INSTRUCTORS: PLEASE GET IT RIGHT!

Question:
Recently, at a USSF clinic, a questioned was asked about a scenario in which a 12th player on the field is being cautioned and he has already been cautioned earlier in the game for another offense. The response from the instructors was that the player now had two cautions so he would be shown the red card and expelled from the game. However, they added that since he was an extra player on the field, an additional player now had to be removed because the team would have to play short a man. This didn’t make sense to me but they assured the class that this was the proper procedure. Is this really correct?

Thank you for your time and the great service you provide.

Answer (August 3, 2006):
No, that is not correct. If this player was truly the “extra” player, then his second caution and expulsion were all that was necessary.


PUNISHING TEAM FOR “THROWING” A GAME

Question:
Could you tell me if the FIFA disciplinary code, or something similar, applies to games/tournaments that operate under USSF rules. I am specifically talking about the code relative to intentionally losing a game so as to gave some benefit in future opponents or seeding. The FIFA code says:
“Anyone who conspires to distort the result of a match in a manner incompatible with sporting ethics will be sanctioned with a match suspension and a minimum fine of CHF 15,000. The body will also pronounce a ban on performing any football related activity; in serious cases this sanction will apply for life.”

Would this or something similar apply to a USSF competition if it can be shown that a team deliberately loses a game?

Answer (August 3, 2006):
The United States Soccer Federation embraces all elements of the FIFA Disciplinary Code. However, the enforcement of such a provision would be the responsibility of the competition authority (i. e., the organization under which the match in question was played).

THE NEED FOR A COMPLETE PREGAME CONFERENCE EMPHASIZED

Question:
This week I was CR at a U14 girl¹s game ­ travel teams with a fair degree of experience and skill. As they game began, I tried to set the tone by some verbal statements, ³Ladies, watch your arms please² perhaps two other remarks. It did set the tone and the ladies responded with respect and paid more attention to the game.

Near the end of the first half, two players were contesting for the ball in front of one AR. One fell to the ground and was beginning to place herself in a position of being involved in dangerous play. She was preparing to play the ball ­ and place herself at some risk. At that point, the AR said with some force, ³Get up. Get up. Get up.² The player jumped to her feet and the game continued.

At the interval, I asked the AR to be careful that his comments not be heard, perhaps as coaching by either teams or coaches. He replied that I had done the same with my ³arms² comments ­ I had given comments that could be understood as coaching. We discussed more at the post game review. He stated his role was to maintain safety for players, and his call to get up was to put them in a safe position. I replied that there were times to be teacher and policeman on the field. That was not a time to teach, but a time to allow the play to develop and enforce the rules. I was concerned that his instruction created an advantage for the non near fouling team as they did not get the ball when play continued.

I know a player can play the ball while on the ground. My question is one of the propriety of instructing a player of an action to take to, essentially, get them away from a fouling situation. Was I right in questioning this action or I am being my all too typical legalistic self? My verbal comments seem different ­ they are aimed at the field, at all players, and not at one.

I¹d appreciate your help. AlsoŠthe AR wanted to discuss this at the interval, and I asked that we delay it until the review. I was afraid of any tension that might get created. Does that make sense?

Answer (August 1, 2006):
Neither one of you was doing any coaching as such, nor were you violating any laws or covenants, written or unwritten. However, and there is always a “however,” this is the sort of issue that needs to be discussed in the pregame meeting of the officials. There should be a clear understanding of the extent to which the referee expects and relies upon the AR to talk with players (about anything), and it must be consistent with what the referee is doing.

There does seem to be a fairly clear distinction between the two comments (assuming they were said as described). The referee’s remark is a general cautionary comment, applied broadly, and rather equivalent to ET’s “Be good.” The AR’s comment, was a command, directed to a specific player, which carried the implication that the player’s behavior was concretely wrong and might potentially subject her to punishment if the AR’s command were not heeded. Nevertheless, you were both supplying valuable information to the players, suggesting that they play the game properly and within the Spirit of the Laws and of the Game.

WHAT’S THE CALL?

Question:
My question for you involves an issue that came up at an advanced referee clinic recently. The situation involves the interpretation of law 14 in the case where a teammate of the kicker enters within 10 yards of the ball before it is kicked. Our clinic director told us that according to the latest modifications to the laws of the game for this year, that if the ball goes directly into the goalkeepers’ hands after the kick where he could easily play it out, play must be stopped and restarted with an indirect free kick from the place where the infraction occurred. Someone asked if it is possible to apply advantage in this situation and the instructor said that based on changes to the laws of the game last year that it was not.  I know that in France, their version of “Advice to referees on the laws of the game” for 2006 says that this scenario should result in in the referee allowing play to continue under the application of advantage. Since I didn’t want to publicly argue issue at the clinic before doing my homework, I decided to write the director of instruction in the Ligue Rhone-Alpes in France to ask if the French federation still maintained that position. He emailed me back and said that nothing has changed other than the location of the restart (at the location of the infraction) but that advantage is still to be applied in the case where the goalkeeper easily collects the ball after the kick. In the end, I think there is a misinterpretation of law 14 in this case by someone, either by the Federation Francaise de Football (FFF), US Soccer Federation (USSF), or the clinic’s instructor. I don’t want to cause any problems and just want to make sure that I know what the correct answer is since it involves either stopping play or not stopping play.

Answer (July 29, 2006):
Without going into whether or not the application of the advantage clause would apply or not, we can say that the infringement by the teammate was trifling, because the ball wound up in the hands of the ‘keeper. In other words, the intrusion had no impact on the play and thus should be ignored.

A PROPER KICK-OFF

Question:
At kickoff is it legal for a player to rake the ball forward then rake it back to a teammate having his foot never leave the ball during the maneuver. Was the ball put into play because it was moved forward? If it is not a legal play what would the call be?

Answer (July 27, 2006):
We all need to remember that the kick-off is simply a way to get the game restarted after one team has scored a goal. While the requirement is indeed to kick, not “rake,” the ball so that it moves from “here” to “there,” referees over the years have been so lax in enforcing the Law that players have taken advantage of this laziness and invented their own methods of kicking off, including the “raking” and having the kicker’s teammate clearly in the opponent’s end of the field at the time of the restart. The intelligent referee will catch this foolishness the first time it occurs (for each team, of course) and have the players take the kick correctly. As the ball is not in play, the kick-off cannot be given to the other team instead.

GREEN REFEREE UNIFORMS?

Question:
This may be a fallacy, but I heard a rumor that USSF and OSI are trying to introduce a green uniform to be worn along with the other four. Now this is probably just a false rumor, but have there been talks about having a green uniform?

Answer (July 24, 2006):
We are not aware of any plans or decisions to add another color to the accepted list for referee shirts. Anything to do with the color of the referee uniform is the responsibility of the USSF Board of Directors, not the Referee Committee.

THE “DIAGONAL”

Question:
I recently viewed a replay of an EPL game from last season. As a referee runs up the field, the assistant referees are normally in front to the right and behind to the left. That is, the referee would be running a diagonal to the left. (If you see the game on TV, the assistants would appear on the lower right and upper left of the screen.) However, in this game the assistant referees were on the opposite sides (meaning in front to the left and behind to the right of the referee) and the referee was running a diagonal to the right.

Other than poor field conditions, what would cause a referee crew to use this type of coverage?

Answer (July 22, 2006):
The left diagonal (from lower right to upper left of the field) is fairly traditional here in the United States, no matter what the level of play, unless the field conditions call for using the right diagonal.

Although it is no longer much taught or used, at least in the United States, the rationale for running both the right and left diagonals (one in the first half, the other in the second half) was to provide a different view of the players. The referee who viewed the players while running the left diagonal in the first half might decide that it would better serve game management to run the other diagonal in the second half. It is, of course, possible to switch during a period; this would not violate any regulations or time-honored principles and might be the best solution for dealing with misconduct or unusual team tactics. One other reason to switch at the half might be to get the other AR to take responsibility of a “difficult” bench.

Here is a fact about switching diagonals that many people will not remember: During the days of the NASL, when many teams shared fields with Major League Baseball, the referees always ran both diagonals, switching at the half. Stadium owners demanded that this be done to protect their fields. If they did not switch, the linesmen, now called assistant referees, would wear paths into the surface of the field through their constant movement along the lines and spoil the field for baseball.

Finally, we would be remiss if we did not remind readers that the “diagonal” is no longer strictly a diagonal line, running from one corner of the field to the other. It is simply an old term for a now outmoded form of sharing the burden of game management between the on-field “chief,” the referee, and the assistant referees. Referees should be flexible and they and the ARs should follow the GUIDELINES given in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Official.”

TEAM REFUSES TO CONTINUE WITH THE MATCH

Question:
In a championship game yesterday, a coach decided not to continue after 15 minutes into the game. His reasoning was that he did not have any substitute and he was afraid that some of his players were going to get hurt. I obviously ended the game and simply reported the incidence on the game card. I was told by the assignor and the District Referee Coordinator that I should have red carded the coach!! This was a USSF sanctioned game. I do not recall seeing anything in regards to red carding a coach for refusing to continue with the game. Could you please direct me to a proper position paper or article that covers such directive?

Answer (July 19, 2006):
Unless the rules of the competition specify it, no coach or other team official may be shown a card of any color in this or any other case. In any event, the referee has no authority to force a team to play if they do not wish to continue a game nor to terminate the match in such a case. The referee must simply do as you did: abandon the game and include all pertinent details in the match report.

RE-ENTRY WITHOUT PERMISSION AND SCORING A GOAL

Question:
If a player leaves the field to correct equipment, re-enters the field without permission of any official, and subsequently scores a goal before anyone notices that he has re-entered illegally, does the goal stand?

I would think the goal would stand, since he/she is a player, but a caution would be issued.

Answer (July 19, 2006):
A player who has been given permission or was ordered to leave the field to repair equipment or for medical treatment or clean-up of blood must have the referee’s permission to return. If this player returns to the field illegally, he or she must be removed and be cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without the referee’s permission. The goal cannot be allowed. As the game was stopped only at the scoring of the goal, the correct restart is a goal kick.

WHAT’S THE RESTART–AND WHY?

Question:
I read your [July 11, 2006] response to the Zidane head butt incident which got me to wondering. I, like the previous writer, thought that there was no going back to an incident after a restart. So then by following your logic, please discuss this situation:

AR signals (with a flag wag) a foul which the referee misses. Ball goes over goal line and referee restarts the game with a corner that goes in the net for a goal. AR makes the referee aware that there was a foul that was signaled and missed by referee prior to the corner restart. Goal or no goal? What is the restart? Why did the referee in the world Cup final restart after the Zidane incident with a dropped ball? And practically speaking, how far back in time (after how many restarts) can the referee go to correct a missed foul in the past?

You are a fantastic resource out there for us struggling in the trenches. You responses are thoughtful, consistent and humorous. I enjoy your forum tremendously.

Answer (July 17, 2006):
Aw, shucks!

If the foul prior to the corner kick restart was committed by the kicking team, the referee may decide to cancel the goal scored from the corner kick and go back to the foul. If the foul was committed by the defending team, the intelligent referee will simply allow the goal and restart with a kick-off.

The referee in the France-Italy game stopped play because of an apparent injury to Materazzi and to consult with his assistant referees and fourth official. Thus he was forced to restart with a dropped ball because, according to Law 8, a “dropped ball is a way of restarting the match after a temporary stoppage that becomes necessary, while the ball is in play, for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game.” If the referee had had credible evidence of the serious misconduct before he stopped play, then the correct restart would have been an indirect free kick.

As to how many restarts the referee could overturn in punishing a foul or misconduct, the answer is not firm, but common sense dictates that it not be more than one. Otherwise too much time will have elapsed. If it was misconduct, the referee will simply note the fact in the match report. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for an assistant referee to fail to communicate serious misconduct to the referee in any way possible before a first restart, much less a second.

UNLIKELY SCENARIO

Question:
I am currently in a soccer class and my teacher posed a question on what the infraction would be in this situation: The red team takes a shot on goal from outside the blue team’s penalty area. The blue goalkeeper knows that he can not make the save and will be scored on. However, the blue goalkeeper rather than trying to make the save, decides that he will physically pull the cross bar down and flip over the entire goal so that the ball can not enter the goal. The ball does not enter the goal (because of the goalkeeper’s unfair action). By doing this the goal keeper has denied an obvious goal.

What is the restart? Where is the restart? Why is restart at that location? What is the misconduct (card given) if any given for?

Answer (July 12, 2006):
The goalkeeper has committed at least one misconduct offense: Bringing the game into disrepute through his unsporting behavior (for which he could be cautioned) of moving the goal. Although it might appear that the ‘keeper was denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards his goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick (for which he could be sent off), there is not enough information to support that.  Your instructor has not told us how many defenders were between the kicker and the goal. If there was more than one defender, not counting the defender/player (in this case the goalkeeper) who committed the infringement), then there was no obvious goal scoring opportunity.

The restart is an indirect free kick for the opposing team. The indirect free kick is taken from where the offense occurred. In this case, the free kick would be taken from the spot on the goal area line that runs parallel to the goal line that is nearest to the place where the goalkeeper pulled down the goal.

If this extremely unlikely scenario actually occurs somewhere, the people responsible for the field have not done their job before the game. They have not ensured that the goal is properly secured to the ground, as required in Law 1: “Goals must be anchored securely to the ground. Portable goals may only be used if they satisfy this requirement.” If the goal was properly secured, no goalkeeper would have the time the scenario requires to have pulled down the goal. He would have had time only to begin bawling out his teammates for allowing the shot in the first place.

NO ASSESSOR INTERFERENCE, PLEASE!

Question:
Does an assessor, working a game, have any responsibility similar to a 4th official to report to the referee an incident he saw but that the referee team did not observe (one player striking and seriously injuring an opponent)?

Answer (July 11, 2006):
Absolutely not! The assessor should have been taught in assessment training courses to keep his or her opinions to him- or herself until the postgame conference. An assessor should never interfere in any way in a game.

SEND-OFF AFTER THE GAME HAS BEEN RESTARTED?

Question:
It is my understanding that if the referee wants to caution or eject player he/she must do so before the restart of play. If team restarts play quickly, referee must whistle right away to stop action and give appropriate card. In Sunday’s world cup final why was a card given to Zidane after play had restarted for a while after a handball by Del Pierro. Not trying to write that Zidane’s action didn’t merit an ejection but in my opinion the game had been restarted for too long for the referee to stop the game because of “injury” to Italian player and . Then Italian goalkeeper runs for 40 yds to referee to bring to his attention Zidane’s action, then referee consults all his assistants then give card to Zidane. This appears to be a violation of the laws of the game, same as issuing three yellow cards in one game.

Here is the chain of events:
– he blows the whistle at 17:57 of the OT and points for a French free kick (del Piero had just gone down on the ball and touched it with his arm). you can hear the whistle and there really is no other interpretation of what he called or signaled. at this point, the ball is probably 16 yards from midfield, slightly closer to the side of the field where the main camera is.

– at 18:00, he again signals in the direction of a French free kick and the ball is placed down by the French player with his hands and kicked to another French player standing right at midfield on the edge of the center circle furthest away from the side of the field where the main camera is.
– at 18:04, he blows the whistle to stop play for the injury and heads downfield to tend to the injured player.
– at 21:18, after giving the card, he returns to the edge of the center circle just on the Italian side of midfield and gives a drop ball. and, to the extent there was any doubt, the ball is dropped to Italy, who then play it back to France since they were in possession when play was stopped.

Answer (July 12, 2006):
While it may have seemed slightly irregular to send off Zidane after play had restarted following his violent conduct, it was perfectly correct. The referee is bound to caution or send off a player prior to the restart only if he or she has seen or been made aware of the incident prior to that restart. If the referee chooses to allow the restart after having seen the infringement, then nothing further can be done about it other than noting it in the match report. If, as in the case of Zidane’s violent conduct, the referee does not learn of it from one of the ARs or the fourth official until after the restart, then the referee may punish the misconduct as soon as he or she learns of it. There is no referee error here.

“DIVING” AND PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT

Question:
An assessor asks: The other day I assessed a PDL match. The visiting team went up 2-0 in the second half. Frustration popped here and there but nothing serious. My concern was drawn by the activity of the visiting team taking advantage of the situation with several dives by different players. These guys were good and the referee was talking to them however it continued with different team members.

Is there anything in the Federation’s teachings to deal with continual dives taking by different players on the same team? I am thinking of something like persistent fouls by different members on the same team against a member of the other team.

If I were the referee, I would start issuing yellow cards until the cows came home or they stopped. But that’s really not the answering I am looking for.

Let me know the proper way to deal with this issue if there is one.

Answer (July 5, 2006):
If players are diving, then they should be punished. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be cautioned immediately for unsporting behavior for their simulation; they can be left there, flopping around, until the referee has the opportunity to deal with it. If they are out of the game temporarily then their team suffers from one fewer player and will find it more difficult to play.

Persistent infringement of the Laws refers to violations of Law 12–and not for offside, second touch, illegal throw-in, etc. Certainly these players can be punished for persistent infringement for their serial misconduct, because the Law doesn’t specify that the infringement be a foul. The question is “why” the referee would apply the persistent infringement model to a continued pattern of simulation/dives without already having given the specified caution for unsporting behavior.

GOALKEEPER FORWARD MOVEMENT AT PENALTY KICK

Question:
I’ve noticed that the referees at the World Cup during the taking of kicks from the penalty mark used to break a tie don’t seem to be enforcing the rule “the defending goalkeeper: remains on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goal posts until the kick has been taken.”

In almost every instance of this at the World Cup the goal keepers have been moving forward just prior to the ball being struck. Why is this being allowed? Why aren’t the teams affected protesting?

Answer (July 5, 2006):
In point of fact, the goalkeepers at World Cup 2006 have been much better about staying on their goal lines and any infringements have been exceedingly minor.

Referees are expected to enforce this aspect of the Law the same way they are supposed to enforce ALL the Laws of the Game–with a minimum of stoppages and only when the violation clearly made a difference. The World Cup is not, after all, schoolboy soccer.

REFEREE FORGETS CARDS

Question:
Does US Soccer mandate the usage of cards for players in order to sanction a player? In other words….let’s say the entire referee team does not have any cards with them at that particular game and the referee wants to either caution or send off a player . Can this only be done is using cards, or can they send the player by simply telling them to leave the field?

I realize that the LOTG are pretty clear….. caution and show the yellow card/send off and show the red card. But what happens if you don’t have any cards (for whatever reason) with you? Does this negate the ability to sanction a player? Granted, this shouldn’t happen. Someone on the ref team should have cards….but…..

Answer (June 30, 2006):
While the Law may require cards, if the referee was so forgetful (and the ARs, too) as to bring cards, they should make do with a simple verbal notification. It would be best to then pass the information on to both captains–who may or may not remember to tell their coaches.

An alternative might be to create “cards” when it is discovered that no one brought any–two pieces of paper with “YELLOW” handwritten on one and “RED” written on the other.

Of course, if no one brought cards, perhaps no one brought paper, pens, pencils, whistles, etc. (Perhaps they had better check to see if they are wearing shorts.)

PROCEDURE FOR ISSUING CARDS

Question:
We have been instructed to adhere to the procedure
Isolate
Book
Issue Card

I have noticed that in the world cup, the referees have followed Isolate, Issue Card, Book. Is the USSF still asking/requiring referees to follow the former?

Players usually know the card is coming. By asking them to remain in close proximity while you book seems to only frustrate them further. Then, you run the risk of losing your composure and would be tempted to issue a second for dissent when the player walks away (I have never done this , but have seen refs carry that chip on their shoulder for the rest of the game.)

Not a major part of the game, but any clarification would be appreciated.

Answer (June 29, 2006):
The correct procedure for giving cards is found in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials”:
The referee does the following things:
– Makes clear verbally and/or by pointing to the whistle that play may not be restarted except by the referee¹s signal
– Quickly identifies and begins moving toward offending player while beckoning the player to approach
– Attempts to draw offending player away from teammates and opponents
– Discourages others from approaching, interfering or participating
– Stops a reasonable distance away from offending player and begins recording necessary information
– States clearly and concisely that the player is being cautioned or sent from the field and displays the appropriate card by holding it straight overhead
– If the player is being sent off, delays the restart of play until the player has left the field entirely
– In situations where the event or conduct being penalized includes the potential for retaliation or further misconduct, immediately moves to the location of the misconduct and displays the appropriate card before recording any information

A benefit of following this guidance is to help the referee ensure that no mistake has been made in the procedure, such as forgetting that a player has already been cautioned.

FOUL OR NOT?

Question:
LAW 12 states: A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following six offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:
– kicks or attempts to kick an opponent

Two players are attempting to win a 50/50 ball ( no player has control of the ball ). Player A reaches the ball just in time to clear the ball, however kicks Player B in the knee cap with his followthrough swing. Is this a violation of LAW 12?

Answer (June 26, 2006):
Was the act careless on the part of the “kicker”? If so, then it is a foul. If it was simply a case of follow through after making contact with the ball and clearly NOT meant to harm the opponent, then there is no foul. In short, you had to be there.

OFFSIDE AT/AFTER CORNER KICKS

Question:
I am a young referee, but have been doing it for about 5 years now and just finished a center for a U-13 boys state championship. In the half time discussion I had some experienced ARs and we had a small situation about corner kicks that lead to another question.
Situation 1: The attacking team decides to take a short corner, placing two people over the ball. Both posts have defenders right on the goal line including the keeper who is in the net. The ball is played from offensive player A to player B at which point no one pulls off the line. Before Player A enters the field after taking the kick the ball is played back to him. He is clearly over the goal line, but he keeps the ball in play. Is he offsides seeing as how he is clearly behind the second to last defender, but it is on the goal line. I came to the conclusion to let it play with no offsides. Was this the proper decision?
Situation 2: The attacking team looks like they are going to do a short corner, but Player A leaves the area and enters the box, however, when he leaves he gives the ball a slight nudge on the way by without anyone else noticing. Player B waits until the defenders have left him and follow Player A into the box then proceeds to dribble into the box unguarded. Is this a caution do to the play not being in “the spirit of the game” or is this something I should allow?

I am very interested to hear your response and I greatly appreciate your services, it is a big help to referees trying to improve and learn like myself. Thanks

Answer (June 26, 2006):
1. While no player can be offside directly from a corner kick, the same is not true as soon as any other player on the kicker’s team plays the ball. Although the kicker had been off the field and the defenders did not leave the posts, the kicker should be declared offside when his teammate plays the ball back to him and he enters the field to play it.

2. If the ball has been moved even a short distance from “here” to “there,” it is now in play. If there was a kicking motion this play is legal. It would not have been legal if the player simply tapped the top of the ball or brushed it with his foot–and did not move it from “here” to “there.”

2006 Part 2

REFEREE UNIFORM/FIFA FAIR PLAY PATCH
Your question:
1. I have been lucky enough to get my hands on one of the 2006 World Cup referee jerseys. I know I cannot wear it in a match (correct me if I am allowed to do so!) under normal circumstances, but could I wear it in the following (unlikely) situation?

One team is in yellow, with their goalkeeper wearing black, and the other team is in blue, with their goalkeeper in red.

This obviously puts me out of choices as far as USSF-approved goes. I would plead exceptional circumstances (even if being assessed) in this situation and use the World Cup jersey if it’s the only thing that doesn’t result in a color conflict.

2. I am aware that USSF allows referees to wear the FIFA Fair Play patch on their uniforms. I would like to wear them, but cannot seem to get hold of any. Is their any way you might be able to assist me in this matter (I would like nine of them if possible please, one for each of my USSF jerseys and one for my World Cup jersey mentioned in the previous question)

USSF answer (June 25, 2006):
1. No, referees are not allowed to wear the 2006 WC jersey for any game affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation. The 2006 WC jersey does not follow the uniform guidelines. As to goalkeeper and team uniforms, the Law was changed in 2005: field players and goalkeepers must change, not the referee. (But use common sense in such cases.)

2. We have no idea where you will find the FIFA Fair Play patch, but its wear is permitted, following the guidelines in the answer of June 2, 2006.


CAUTION OR WARN?
Your question:
OK…I am a third year referee in need of some advice. In a boys recreation match (would be U-14 in travel) I did a while back, physical play was the dominating factor used when reffing the match. You could tell that these boys wanted to play scrappy. I even had to use the red card for a player who recieved two yellow cards. In the first instance where I issued a yellow, should I have given another warning in addition to the ones I had already given him? Or, would you call the yellow card to ensure that you have control of the match and to let players know where you stand on physical play?

USSF answer (June 25, 2006):
By the time players are 13 years old they should understand what a caution and a warning are. If you have given a clear warning that this sort of play or misconduct must stop, then no further warning is necessary. We are not on the field to be nice guys, but to maintain order in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the Laws. If a player is not following those, then the referee must step in with whatever measures are just and right for the safety of the players and the integrity of the game.

In this regard, there are two things to remember: First, all decisions about what action to take (i. e., the severity level of the response) regarding misconduct are at the core of the referee’s responsibility to manage the match and are specific to the match–in other words, no easy formulas. Second, USSF has provided some assistance to referees in this area (see the position paper on cautions and the memorandum on second cautions, both downloadable from the US Soccer website).


SUSPENSION AFTER EXPULSIONS OR ACCUMULATED CAUTIONS
Your question:
It has been many years since I last played international soccer for my high school. At that time there were no yellow or red cards ever issued. I do not ever remember a player ordered off the field.

The last game the U.S.A played Italy June 17, 2006, the referee issued three red cards. The first to an Italian player then two more red cards to the American team.  The Italian player deserved to get the Red Card and ordered off the field, but the two American players did not deserve Red Cards and ordered off the field. The referee took offence to a gesture by the player and was given a Red Card, and not allowed to play the next game for the U.S.A. Where can I read more information on those cards?

Next, I did not know that yellow cards, or Red Cards carried over to the next game. How long will they be carried on for. The U.S.A Team was playing with four yellow cards. At that rate we will no longer have a U.S. A. World Cup Team.

USSF answer (June 19, 2006):
You would seem to have grown up in an idyllic place, where no one ever committed a cautionable offense or used violence as a playing tactic. If only we could all be so blessed.

We could not possibly comment on the cards issued to the players in the Italy-USA game.

What happens to players after cautions and send-offs is a matter for the particular competition (league, cup, tournament, whatever), each of which sets its own standards.  It is normal for a player who has been sent off to be suspended for the next game, and possible for more, depending on the offense.  FIFA has mandated the minimum one-game suspension for all games played under its authority and, several years ago, extended that mandate to all affiliated national associations. Many competitions, but most certainly FIFA, call for a player who has been cautioned twice in a segment of the competition (such as the first round in the World Cup) to be suspended from the game following the second caution. Some competitions allow the cards to be carried over into the next segment, others do not. You will have to check the rules for each competition to know for sure.


WATER BREAKS?
Your question:
Assume a full-length U-15 game is being played on a sunny, humid 95 degree day. It is a state league game and there is nothing in the rules about water breaks. In this situation:
1. Can the referee mandate a water break at the approximate midpoint of each half, if he deems it is in the best interest of the players’ safety?
2. If he cannot mandate it, can he suggest it to the two coaches and, with the agreement of both of them, then implement the water breaks?
3. If #’s 1 and 2 are not permitted, can he allow it if both coaches approach him and request it on their own?

Your advice on this situation would be very much appreciated.

USSF answer (June 16, 2006):
A good question and one that is somewhat complicated to answer.

Despite adjuring the referee to protect the safety of the players, the Laws of the Game do not permit the referee to stop the game for water breaks. However, some competitions (leagues or tournaments) have seen fit to include water breaks in their rules of competition. If the referee accepts an assignment in such a competition, he or she has no direct authority to vary the rules of the competition.

In those competitions that do not provide for water breaks, the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players. Preventing injury from heat exhaustion would fall into that aspect of the referee’s duties. The answer may be summed up in two words: common sense.

In fact, both the referee and the team officials share in the responsibility to protect player safety. The referee could, at a stoppage called for any reason, “suggest” the taking of water by any players interested in doing so. The timing of such a break and its length would be at the discretion of the referee. Obviously, the referee could decide to take this approach on his or her own initiative, with or without prior consultation with the coaches. However, either or both coaches could approach the referee prior to the match and suggest the need for extra hydration, in which case the intelligent referee would be well advised to listen and act accordingly. Of course, the Law also permits players to take water during the match so long as they do not leave the field, water containers are not thrown to them while on the field, and the water itself is not placed along the outside of the field so as to interfere with the responsibilities of the assistant referee. (See the guidance on water and hydration provided in the USSF memorandum of April 26, 2002, available on the USSF website.)

The USSF publication “Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players” for 2006 states:
24. Liquid refreshments during the match
Players shall be entitled to take liquid refreshments during a stoppage in the match but only on the touchline. Players may not leave the field during play to take liquids. It is forbidden to throw plastic water bags or any other water containers onto or from the field.


DROPPED BALL
Your question:
In case of a legal dropped ball due to a stoppage of play for an injury, the players from BOTH teams huddled around the place where the ref was about to drop the ball in order to restart play. The coach said that there is no legal distance that is required for his players to stand and that the ref does not need to know who will be kicking the dropped ball from his team. About 6 players from each team were all huddled within 5 inches of the potential dropped ball area. Therefore, the ref [me] said that I need to know who will be kicking the ball once it touches the ground and that other players need to stand back to a distance that I [the ref] say is sufficient.

1] Is there a legal ruling about the distance allowable for the players from the spot that the ref will drop the ball?
2] Must each team select one player who will be kicking the ball once it is dropped?
3] How would YOU handle this situation if it occurs again?

This is what my response would be, so let me know how good or bad it is:
The coach is correct, there is no distance that players are required to be from the ball. Nor is there any specification as to how many players may participate, or therefore, who would be trying to gain control of the ball. Drop the ball, and hope it touches the ground before a player touches it. If it does not touch the ground before a player touches it, warn the player(s), and drop it again. If it does not touch the ground before a player touches it again, you could caution the player(s) involved in the touch( be careful of the age level).

What I would like to add, but I don’t think I should, is “There is also no specification as to when the ball is dropped.”

Let me know the official response please.

USSF answer (June 15, 2006):
We know for certain that there is no requirement that players from both teams‹or that any player‹must take part at a dropped ball. However, the IFAB/FIFA Q&A tells us, under Law 8 (Q&A 2), that “any player may take part.” This means that there is no requirement for a “nominated dropped ball taker.”

We also know that it is the referee who decides where the ball is to be dropped. One reasonable solution would be to walk briskly to a point several yards away from this cluster of players (hiding any irritation at the need to take such a step and not hinting at what you are about to do) and then drop the ball.

The referee’s job is simply to drop the ball and, if someone touches or plays it before it hits the ground and goes into play, to stop play and restart with another dropped ball. It is not the referee’s job to instruct players or coaches on tactics, but to call the game in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Law.


COPING WITH THE WALL/INJURED PLAYER
Your question:
My daughter was playing in a U12 game and 2 situations occurred. A free kick was awarded to the opposing near our goal, not in the penalty box. The player kicking the ball on the opposing team did not ask for 10 yards for spacing between her and the wall. The referee proceeded though in getting the 10 yards distance. The referee did not like where the wall was and wanted them to move back. He threatened The wall by telling them if they do not move a red card will be issued to one of the girls.
Question: Is this the way the above situation should have been handled as correct? If not can you provide the correct manner in what should have happened or any other details?

Situation 2: Towards the end of the game 2 players were battling for the ball near the opposing team’s goal. The red team¹s player went down in what probably should have been a foul on the yellow player but none was called. The ball went out of play and the red played lay motionless for at least 30 secs. The referee never went over to the downed player to check on the status. The whistle was then blown to signal the end of the game. The referee never went to check on the status of the downed player.
Is this the correct procedure of a referee when a player becomes injured?

Any info would be appreciated.

USSF answer (June 13, 2006):
1. Normally, we do instruct referees to allow the kicking team to take the kick quickly, if they wish, without interfering with it.  However, if, in the opinion of the referee, the defenders are too close to the kick, he or she may move the wall back, no matter whether or not the kicking team asks for it.  This would particularly be the case with younger players who appeared to have neither the knowledge of their rights nor the skill to take advantage of them.

Something more disturbing than that occurred in this situation when the referee threatened to send off and show the red card to the defenders who were reluctant to move back.  Unless they already had been cautioned, the worst the referee could do would be to caution them for failing to respect the required distance and show the yellow card.

2. The referee is not required to stop play when a player is down unless he or she believes that player to be seriously injured.  Nor, unless trained and certified to provide medical assistance, would there ordinarily be a need for the referee to attend to the player beyond a cursory determination that the injury was, indeed, serious enough to stop play. As above, this would be interpreted generously in the case of younger players.


BRINGING THE GAME INTO DISREPUTE
Your question:
At what point do we as referees have the ability to enforce the laws of the game?

This is not a joke. It actually happened to me prior to a boys U18 game.

I arrived at the field during a downpour and lightening and was informed that the teams would wait in their cars until the prescribed time after the last lightening strike. While waiting, I noticed an individual, whom later I discovered was a player, dribbling a soccer ball onto the field naked. After about three minutes, he left the field. The rain subsided about 15 minutes later and we all took the field to warmup and start the game.

Would it have been appropriate at that time, since I knew who the player was, to have issued a caution for unsporting behaviour? A send-off for offensive/abusive language (non-verbal)?

USSF answer (June 5, 2006):
Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has the authority to take disciplinary sanctions from the moment he or she enters the field of play until he or she leaves the area of the field of play after the final whistle.  This includes the period of time immediately prior to the start of play during which players and substitutes are physically on the field warming up, stretching, or otherwise preparing for the match.

The behavior you describe would fall most nearly into the catch-all category called bringing the game into disrepute. The problem is that it didn’t occur during the game itself, nor even truly during the warming up period. It appears to have been something done as the result of a dare. Once you determined who the player was, the most appropriate thing to do would be to call the player and the team captain to you and tell them that the player was being cautioned for unsporting behavior. Then show the yellow card and include full details in the match report.


TEAMS WITH NEARLY IDENTICAL UNIFORMS
Your question:
Real Situation:
Two teams showed up wearing almost identicle shirt colors, one is solid blue the other had a little white on the sleeves. The two coaches argued over who had to change their shirts. They didn’t compromise and the referee didnt ask them to change shirts. If I had been referee which team should I have made change shirts?

USSF answer (June 5, 2006):
It is safest to check the league rules to see what they specify. If that is either impossible or the rules do not cover the matter, then remember that it is traditional for the visiting team to change if there is a conflict in colors.


SHIELDING VS. IMPEDING; PUSHING/SHOVING AT CORNER KICK
Your question:
I have two questions about play that really bother me and I don’t know how to makes these calls correctly:
1. the ball is going out of play, the defender gets to the ball and shields the ball and moves with the ball towards the line, using a shielding technique, the offensive player follows the defender pushing from behind and at the line as the ball goes out of play pushes the defender in the back to the ground. what is the call? the other day in a tournament I warned the offensive player once and the second time I cautioned the player and heard from a host of people including some referees that was allowable play.

2. on a corner kick, the offensive and defensive players prior to the ball being in play, push and grab, and shove for position to the point that a defensive player is moved out of position and turns to face the offensive player who had pushed him from behind. what is the call?

USSF answer (June 5, 2006):
1. If the defender who is shielding is within playing distance of the ball, then he or she is not infringing the Law. The opposing player is not allowed to use the hands to get at the defender. In short, the shielding is permitted, the pushing is not. The correct call is either pushing or holding, as appropriate to the action. Direct free kick for the offender’s team.

2. The intelligent referee will be proactive and speak to the players concerned before there is any confrontation. Let them know that you see what is going on and warn them not to continue. If they do continue before the ball is in play, treat it as unsporting behavior and caution accordingly. And if they continue it after the ball is kicked, treat it as a foul (plus, perhaps, misconduct) and restart accordingly.


PLEASE FOLLOW THE LAWS OF THE GAME
Your question:
My question is regarding the World Cup Friendly between Iran and Croatia. In the 97th minute, the referee awarded Croatia a penalty kick. While the Croatian player was in the process of shooting, a teammate of his entered the Penalty area. Law 14 clearly states that if a teammate is to enter the area and the ball enters the goal, the kick is to be retaken. However, the referee allowed the play to continue and the score became tied at 2-2, he then ended the match. Is that correct? Here is the link to the video; the PK is awarded at 3:45 in the video:

USSF answer (June 4, 2006):
It isn’t necessary to view the clip to answer your question because the clip shows exactly what you described.

The action of the teammate of the kicker had no impact on the play (the penalty kick was a direct shot on goal in which the ball had no trouble entering the net entirely on its own). Accordingly, the only answer possible is that your statement of the Law is correct.


REF-AR COMMUNICATION
Your question:
I was an AR involved in a recent tournament match and had a scenario develop that I¹m not quite sure was the proper decision. Here¹s the scenario:
An attacker was fouled by a defender in the penalty area close to me and directly in my line of sight but partially screened from the referee¹s view. The foul caused the attacker to go down injured. I signalled to get the referee¹s attention just as the defensive team started a counter attack. The referee, not seeing the foul, waved me off, apparently thinking I was signalling the injured player Play continued for a few touches before a team mate put the ball out for an injury stoppage. After the referee checked on the player, he backed up to me to inquire about what happened. That¹s when I informed him that the injury was the result of a foul that he was screened on and that I was trying to signal a PK. The referee decided that even though play had continued for a few touches, that the injury was a continuation of the original foul I was trying to indicate and since there hadn¹t been a restart, in the spirit of the game, that a PK could still be awarded. That PK turned out to be the difference in the match.

My questions are: should the PK have been awarded in this circumstance or is the only recourse after play continues the ability to issue a card at the next stoppage?

This became a hot topic in the ref tent, I¹d like to get a qualified opinion to let everyone know the correct decision.

USSF answer (June 2, 2006):
An assistant referee will never signal to the referee that a player is injured, as only the referee can make that determination. Your flag was correct and, if the referee gave proper instructions in the pregame conference–i. e., signal an infringement only when the referee cannot see it, he should have known what was going on. However, let us emphasize that there would have been no mistaking the signal if, after raising the flag straight up and making eye contact with the referee, you would have given the flag 2-3 waggles (not semaphores). The referee would have known exactly that it was a foul being signaled.  If he stopped play and you had then dropped the flag and begun moving toward the goal line, the referee would have known that the foul had been committed by a defender inside the penalty area and you were recommending a penalty kick.  The system works, if only officials would use it!

And yes, despite the time lost, the game had not otherwise stopped and restarted, so the penalty kick restart was correct.


FIFA FAIR PLAY BADGE
Your question:
I am a grade 8 referee and was wondering does the United States Soccer Federation permit referees to wear the FIFA Fair Play Badge on their uniform or is it prohibited. Or is it up to the state federation. The basic question here is “can I wear the FIFA Fair Play Badge even though I’m not an international official.” I would appreciate any response.

USSF answer (June 2, 2006):
Yes, you may wear the FIFA Fair Play badge without being a member of the International Panel. It may be worn on the right sleeve, centered between shoulder and elbow on a long-sleeved shirt and between shoulder and cuff on a short-sleeved shirt.


GAINING AN ADVANTAGE
Your question:
I was the AR1 in a U12 Competitive state championship match, with an experienced referee in the center and youth referee as the AR2. A player from Team A was tripped, and the referee gave a DFK ~25 yards from the goal. Team B set up a wall, and had no defenders (other than the goal keeper) closer to the goal line than the members of the wall. Team A had one player past the wall and within the penalty area, clearly in an offside position. When the kick was taken, it was drilled into the upper left corner of the goal – untouched by any other player. To my surprise, and to the dismay of the coaches behind me, the AR raised his flag indicating offside. The referee went over to the AR, discussed the call with him, and then upheld the offside call and prepared to restart with an IFK for Team B. The coaches for Team A succeeded in getting the referee’s attention, and he came over to explain that the player in the offside position had become part of active play by “seeking to gain advantage” by being in that position. This did not go over very well with the coaches (or me for that matter), but I did not feel that in my position as AR that I could openly contest a judgment call. The goal was disallowed and play was restarted with the IFK.

At the half I discussed the offside call with both the referee and the other AR, said that I did not believe that the word “seeking” appeared in Law 11, and that the player had to actually gain an advantage. If the referee had said that the player in an offside position had obstructed the vision of the keeper (preventing him from reacting in time to make a play on the ball) I would have been more comfortable with the call, but the referee insisted that by being in the penalty area the player was “seeking to gain and advantage” and was therefore offside.

Two questions:
1. Does the word “seeking” occur in conjunction with “gaining an advantage” in any memoranda or advice on Law 11?
2. If not, should I have made an effort to convince the referee that his call was incorrect, possibly within the vicinity of the upset coaches? This might have crossed the line from assist to insist, and the referee was clearly unlikely to change his call.

USSF answer (June 2, 2006):
Lesson the first: Experience does not always equal advanced knowledge. It is often the case that it actually equates to using the same old (erroneous) information over and over again.

Lesson the second: The word “seeking” does not occur in the Laws of the Game, and has not since it was removed from Law 11 effective 1 July 1995. The word “seeking” has since been used by the IFAB (the folks who write the Laws of the Game) in a totally different context in 2002, in a statement regarding simulation (faking an injury or a foul): “players seeking an unfair advantage by pretending to be fouled.” And even that was not in the Laws themselves, but in a memorandum on the amendments in the Laws for that year.

Your answers:
1. See above.

2. While the assistant referee should never insist, he or she should assist the referee in all things. In your example that would be best accomplished by not embarrassing the referee when trying to convince that official that he or she might wish to look at a situation in another light. Keep out of hearing of the coaches and players. Lay out the facts as you see them and can support them. If the referee declines to use your information, do not insist–no matter how right you are. However, if you believe the referee’s decision is to the detriment of the game and of other referees, you can also inform the referee that you will prepare a report of your own on the game and submit it to the appropriate refereeing authorities.


DELAYING THE RESTART OF PLAY
Your question:
With the new “additional instruction” on cautioning players who delay the restart of play, another question arose.

It’s the situation where the Referee stops play on an attack (usually for “offside”) and the attacking player (might take a couple of touches and) takes a shot.

I’ve tried to “anticipate and forestall such offenses” and have made sure that I FIRMLY talk with that player in such a way that everyone else understands that I’m “dealing” with that situation.

However, when the inevitable second occurrence or “flagrant” scenario occurs, what is the “reported” caution? Unsporting Behavior or Dissent or Delaying the Restart?

Usually, I chose unsporting. Sometimes, dissent. Now it appears you could a case for “delaying the restart” IF in your opinion it was done to “provoke a confrontation”.

USSF answer (June 2, 2006):
The correct decision would be to caution the player for delaying the restart of play.


REASONS TO CAUTION SUBSTITUTES AND SUBSTITUTED PLAYERS
Your question:
After reviewing the new 2006 Memorandum, I had the same question that appears on the USSF “Ask A Referee” website concerning the 3 reasons to caution a substitute/substituted player (doesn’t appear to cover infringement on Law 3).

Can you explain the “Answer (May 22, 2006): xxxxx”?

USSF answer (June 2, 2006):
Law 3 clearly establishes that when a substitute or substituted player enters the field without permission it is misconduct. Law 12 mandates only three reasons that substitutes and substituted players can be cautioned and this is the most likely of the three. Whether that was the IFAB’s intention is unknown–but until and unless they say otherwise, that’s what we need to do.

NOTE: See also the IFAB/FIFA Q&A 2006, which mandates a caution for unsporting behavior for this offense. The Q&A was issued June 2, after this answer was posted.


SUBSTITUTION
Your question:
I have two questions regarding Law 3 from games I observed this weekend.

(1) In a youth tournament, competition rules specify there will be no stoppage time; competition rules permit unlimited substitutions (before a goal kick, a kick-off, or a team’s own throw-in). As the match is nearing completion, one team is ahead by one goal. The team that is ahead begins to repeatedly substitute players one at a time, in what appears to be an attempt to waste time. What actions are appropriate to prevent/penalize this unsporting behaviour by the coach? I would not want to punish the players by not permitting the substitution (it is hot in Virginia in May), but “excessive substitutions” is not a cautionable offense.

USSF answer (May 20, 2006):
One of the hardest rules in refereeing is that once you accept the assignment, you have to follow the rules of the competition, no matter how much they may differ from the Laws of the Game. A good rule is to know what the rules are before accepting the assignment. QUOTE
3.5 PREVENTING DELAY DURING SUBSTITUTION
Referees should prevent unnecessary delays due to the substitution process. One source of delay is a request for a substitution that occurs just as a player starts to put the ball back into play. This often (incorrectly) results in the restart being called back and retaken. Another common source of delay is a substitute player who is not prepared to take the field when the request to substitute is made. In each case, the referee should order play to be restarted despite the request and inform the coach that the substitution can be made at the next opportunity.

The referee shall not prevent a team from restarting play if the substitute had not reported to the appropriate official before play stopped.
END OF QUOTE

The referee should exercise common sense in choosing whether or not to recognize the substitution request–and, as soon as delaying tactics become obvious, should communicate this to the assistant referee and to the teams.


SIMULATION
Your question:
I was asked this question and was not sure how to answer. Would a goal that was scored count if a injury is faked beforehand? Attacking player faked an injury while team mate scored a goal. Does the goal stand?

The player faking the injury was cautioned.

USSF answer (May 30, 2006):
The Laws are quite clear on what to do when a player “simulates” or fakes an injury. That player is guilty of misconduct and must be cautioned for unsporting behavior. If a player commits misconduct and his or her team subsequently shoots the ball into the goal, the goal must be denied and the player cautioned and shown the yellow card. The restart is an indirect free kick to the opposing team from the place where the misconduct occurred.


PLAYERS LEAVING THE FIELD OF PLAY “WITHOUT PERMISSION”
Your question:
In a recent U-19 Boys game, following a goal scored on keeper A, keeper A removed his jersey and left the field. Another player then put on the jersey and assumed the keeper’s position. Although this is a bigger issue for the coach, are the potential cautions to be issued 1) unsporting behavior for removing the jersey; 2) unsporting behavior for changing keepers without notifying the referee (both Keeper A and the player that assumed the position); and 3) leaving the field without permission? Would the answer be different if the keeper left the field before the player assumed his position (the issue being when does a player that voluntarily leaves the pitch become a non-player if the substitution procedure is not completed?). Or, in another view, would these be considered a single offense for which only one card should be issued?

USSF answer (May 27, 2006):
By the age of 18, players (and their coaches) should know enough of the Laws of the Game to understand that the goalkeeper cannot simply leave the field and have a teammate assume the role of goalkeeper without the permission of the referee. Of course there are potential cautions to be given, but that action requires a bit of common sense on the referee’s part.

There are two reasons why there should be no caution here. You didn’t mention it at all, but it seems odd that the referee could possibly miss this action. If in fact the referee saw it and took no action, he or she de facto recognized the substitution–or exchange, it is not clear from the question–for the goalkeeper and thus there is no basis for a caution for that offense. Neither is there any basis for cautioning the goalkeeper for removing the shirt. The caution for this offense is normally given to players or other team personnel who taunt their opponents or disagree with a decision or delay the restart of play by prolonging their celebration of a goal, but none of those would seem to be the case here.

As to administering any caution at all in this instance, the referee’s decision will depend on two things: (1) how much common sense he or she has and (2) what his or her needs are for player management and discipline in this particular game. There is nothing that can be done to repair a lack of common sense, but if it is a discipline or player management problem, the referee must look first at him- or herself to see why and where the faulty player behavior may have arisen. That accomplished, the referee will then deal accordingly, exercising the intelligence and common sense he or she must have. It is a poor referee who punishes simply for the sake of punishment; there must be something to be gained from the action. It is self-defeating to incur more player wrath over a small matter. Or, as in this case, an apparently nonexistent offense.


INCLUDE THE GOALKEEPER, PEOPLE! HE OR SHE IS A PLAYER
Your question:
During a conversation with another referee he mentioned that if the goalie moves in front of his last defender, which now makes the goalie the second last defender. The opponent would be off sides if he receives the ball and was positioned behind the goalie. I’m not sure if I agree with that. This can occur during corner kicks, close shots and numerous other circumstances. I have always used the last defender as my reference point, which, in my opinion excludes the goalie. This could be a “hard sell” to the attacking team. Please advise.

USSF answer (May 24, 2006):
Calling anything other than offside would be wrong. The Law tells us that a player is not in an offside position if he or she is in his/her own half of the field of play or is level with the second last opponent or is level with the last two opponents. It does not say anything about “defenders” or “goalkeeper”; it talks about “opponents.” The goalkeeper is a player and is an opponent of the team attacking the ‘keeper’s goal. Under the Laws of the Game, the goalkeeper is a different sort of player, with some special privileges, but her or she is still a “player,” clear and simple.

If a goalkeeper has only one teammate nearer to his/her goal, that makes the goalkeeper the second last opponent. In this situation, any attacking player who is nearer to the goalkeeper’s goal than the goalkeeper is in an offside position. If that player was in that position when the ball was last played by a teammate and becomes actively involved in play, that player is offside.

And on corner kicks no player can be directly offside, no matter who is positioned where.


POOR SPORTSMANSHIP IS NOT ALWAYS CAUTIONABLE, DARN IT!
Your question:
I have a U10 team. I recently had a game where the opposing coach, after getting up a couple of goals, had his players kick the ball out as far as they could every time they came in contact with the ball. This included all players, forwards or defense or whether there was an opposing player close by or not. This type of play went on for 20 minutes until the end of the game. The young ref was of no help and the other coach was from England and told me that there was no delay of game do to this type of play anywhere in the world. Now I understand kicking the ball out on a breakaway, injury or to prevent advancement to the goal, but this was simply to keep the time going with no chance to have a soccer game. Is there any ruling to prevent this type of play. By the way his type of play worked we were unable to score except for a midfield luck shot.

USSF answer (May 23, 2006):
Kicking the ball out of play is not against the letter of the Laws of the Game, even if it continues throughout the match. It is, however, against the Spirit of the Game. For the first several such plays, the referee will simply add time. If it continues and is obviously designed to waste time, the referee still has no authority to punish the team that practices the tactic. However, the intelligent referee will make it abundantly clear to the team captains (and have them instruct both their players and their team officials) that full time will be added for every kick that is obviously designed to waste time. The referee will also include full details in the match report, noting clearly why a game that should have taken x minutes of time ended up taking x-plus y minutes of time.


REASONS TO CAUTION SUBSTITUTES AND SUBSTITUTED PLAYERS
Your question:
In the new 2006 Law changes, cautions and sendoff sections have now been divided into portions for players, and separate section for substitutes and substituted players. However, the substitutes/substituted players section seems to omit the obvious offense of ³Entering the field without permission². This is an offense which generally occurs more often in fact with substitutes and substituted players than with players (though it can occur with players as well).

Q. Is this omission purposeful (e.g. is it now not possible to caution for illegally entering the field of play (seems unlikely in intent)), or was it simply an error on the part of IFAB that will hopefully some day be fixed in a future version of the Laws?

USSF answer (May 22, 2006):
That is likely because the offense is already covered under Law 3, although the caution is for unsporting behavior, not for entering without permission. (This was covered in the amendments to the Laws for 2006, but went into effect immediately after the IFAB meeting of March 4, 2006.) NOTE: See also the IFAB/FIFA Q&A 2006, which mandates a caution for unsporting behavior for this offense. The Q&A was issued June 2, after this answer was posted.


REFEREE POSITION AT THE CORNER KICK
Your question:
I ‘ve got a question regarding Center Referee position during a Corner Kick. Specifically, a Corner Kick taken on the Referee’s side of the field as opposed to the AR’s side of the field. I generally find that I have a good field of view while standing on the Penatly Box/Arc intersection furthes from the kicker. In that position, I can watch the players in the box while the AR watches along the goal line. However, I’ve recently been told that I should be nearer to the kick…in the vicinity of the Penalty Box/Arc intersection nearest the kicker. What say you?

USSF answer (May 22, 2006):
The referee should always take up a position that is both intelligent and flexible. If you were to look at the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials,” you would find an illustration of the appropriate position–in the form of a suggested “zone,” in which the referee moves to suit the way the players are setting up, and from which the referee may move as necessary to have the best view of where play will go and of the assistant referee, as well as staying out of space the players need.

If you don’t already have a copy, it may be downloaded from the referee webpage at the US Soccer website.


KNOW THE RULES OF THE COMPETITION
Your question:
i centered a game in which none of the players wore jerseys with numbers or any other form of identification.it was (fortunately) an uneventful match in terms of player conduct, but it left me wondering how the intelligent refereee would go about identifying players if misconduct such as persistent infringement occured.

USSF answer (May 22, 2006):
We would recommend never refereeing or running the line in a game in which the players do not wear numbers. That sort of proactive refereeing would do away with the problem altogether.

The matter of numbers is governed by the local rules of competition.  If the local rules are totally silent on this matter–or if this is a “pick-up game,” in which case it is an unsanctioned match–then there isn’t much the referee can do if he or she has accepted the assignment.  If the local rules do require numbers, then the referee has a basis for requiring something be done (yet another use for the versatile duct tape roll!) before play begins.


ATTACKING TEAM MAY DECEIVE, BUT NOT CHEAT (PART 2)
Your question:
The denial of letting players block the defensive “wall” by attackers getting in front of the “wall” on hands and knees that was in the May 8 edition of Ask A Soccer Referee leads me to contemplate variations of blocking the “wall” that would be acceptable.

It is common for attackers to squeeze into the defensive “wall” and to stand in front of it. Why not kneel in front of the “wall” instead of standing? Why not squat partially or completely with bended knees? Why not stand with interlocked arms or with arms over the shoulders or with outstretched arms held about face height? Why not stand facing the defenders keeping one’s face in front of the defender’s, even as the defenders try to see beyond?

I’m unsure what the protocol should be in judging what foolishness should be overlooked by the referee and when that behavior becomes an infraction. Kneeling, sitting or lying in front of a “wall” seems a non-beneficial tactic at best and more likely plain stupid.

Since the defenders have no right to form a wall, should not inch forward, can be impeded to the extent that attackers may post themselves in front of the wall (especially in front of that defender who is designated to rush to the ball a trivial moment before it is kicked) it seems to be a situation where the referee should just wait and see what infraction develops, if any.

I need some elaboration beyond the advice that getting on hands and knees in front of the “wall” is unsporting behavior. Thank you.

USSF answer (May 22, 2006):
Kneeling, squatting or standing with arms linked or outstretched are unnatural positions for players. While the defending team has no right to form a wall–surprise, surprise, coaches!–neither may the defenders be hindered physically from attempting to play the ball legally. Such methods as you describe go beyond the deceptive tactics mentioned in the May 8 answer and, in addition to constituting either holding or impeding, might be considered unsporting behavior.


GOALKEEPER HANDLING OF OWN TEAM FREE KICK
Your question:
Since this is not addressed with similar language in the ATR regarding Law 13: I am wondering if all that is stated in ATR 16.3 would also be true if the restart being performed was a free kick (under law 13) instead of a goal kick (including the statement regarding not applying advantage since the second touch is not a violation of law 12).

USSF answer (May 18, 2006):
Even if the goalkeeper was outside the penalty area, the posited scenario would not constitute an obvious goalscoring opportunity (OGSO), because the Law does not allow a goal to count if it comes directly from the team’s own free kick.  Accordingly, up to the moment of touching the ball, it could never be considered an OGSO.  If the ‘keeper handles the ball inside his or her own penalty area, indirect free kick restart; if outside the penalty area, direct free kick for deliberate handling; if the ball makes contact with the ‘keeper’s hand and then goes into the net, the goal is counted no matter where the goalkeeper is–because this is now an infringement of Law 12. The correct decision, as in the case of the goal kick, is to award the opposing team an indirect free kick at the place where the goalkeeper touched the ball with his or her hands, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8.


SPITTING _AT_
Your question:
Is the rule for spitting based on disrespect or is there intention to eliminate the passing of germs? I have seen players spit on their palms for getting a better grip on the ball. Is that acceptable or ?

USSF answer (May 11, 2006):
Spitting at another person is an extremely disrespectful and disgusting act, universally held in contempt.

Spitting on one’s hands to get a better grip on the ball, on the other hand, is an accepted means of increasing grip. The amount of spittle remaining when the ball is next played by another player is negligible.


“PROTECTIVE” HEADGEAR
Your question:
In attending a recent recertification clinic, It was mentioned that Soccer Docs will be allowed in Youth games U9-U19.  In researching this, I have found no written policy by USSF or referee position papers on this.  I do understand about religious head apparel that is acceptable as long as it is not a danger to anyone.

Are the Soccer Docs acceptable(in the opinion of the referee) or not.  Is there any written statement either way. I just want to make sure that we are consistent with the laws of the game and that our referees in our soccer club are consistent as well.

USSF answer (May 11, 2006):
Players may wear any equipment that is not dangerous to themselves or other participants. This was clearly outlined in a USSF position paper of 3 September 2003, which is still valid:
QUOTE
From the U.S. Soccer Communications Center — Sept. 4, 2003
Subject: Players Wearing Non-Compulsory Equipment
Date: September 3, 2003

On August 25, 2003, FIFA issued Circular #863, regarding the legality of players wearing non-compulsory equipment.

FIFA notes that, under the “Powers and Duties” of the referee in Law 5 — The Referee, he or she has the authority to ensure that the players’ equipment meets the requirements of Law 4, which states that a player must not wear anything that is dangerous.

Modern protective equipment such as headgear, facemasks, knee and arm protectors made of soft, lightweight, padded material are not considered dangerous and are therefore permitted.

FIFA also wishes to strongly endorse the statement on the use of sports spectacles made by the International F.A. Board on March 10, 2001, and subsequently in FIFA Circular #750, dated April 10, 2001. New technology has made sports spectacles much safer, both for the player himself or herself and for other players. This applies particularly to younger players.

Referees are expected to take full account of this fact and it would be considered extremely unusual for a referee to prevent a player taking part in a match because he or she was wearing modern sports spectacles.

Referees are reminded of the following points which can assist in guiding their decisions on this matter:
Look to the applicable rules of the competition authority.
Inspect the equipment.
Focus on the equipment itself ­ not how it might be improperly used, or whether it actually protects the player.
Remember that the referee is the final word on whether equipment is dangerous.
END OF QUOTE

The Federation cannot and does not either approve or disapprove of any headgear.


REFEREES, DON’T BE PETTY!
Your question:
A tie game is to be decided by penalty kicks.The teams are told to not leave the field. A minute is spent organizing the taking of the kicks. We pick the goal,etc. During this time the adults are allowed to get a drink on the field. As we get started, a player announces: so and so left the field to get a drink. The league coordinator and the other ref tell the player he can’t kick since he left the field. After much ado, he is sent off. Was this decision proper?

USSF answer (May 10, 2006):
Common sense tells us, even though a player is not supposed to leave the field once the process of kicks from the penalty mark has begun, that going off the field for a drink and then returning for the kicks is a VERY minor infringement of the Laws, one that should be considered trifling. Unless the player leaving the field was deemed to be part of a stratagem to confuse the officials and thus an effort to result in someone participating who was NOT eligible, then let it go.


KNOW WHAT TO ENFORCE
Your question:
During a game today (and in most youth games), the referee automatically asked my players to step back and give the other team a mandatory 10 yards.

I have 2 problems with this assuming “Persistent Encroachment” is not occurring (6-8 yards off the ball is fair unless asked for by the opposing team):
1. The player on the ball, not a sideline parent or coach must ask for the 10 yards. It is should not be assumed that the team with the free kick wants 10 yards.
2. What if the team on the ball wants to play quick and does not want or need the 10 yards?

The referee came up to me after the game and told me I need to tell my girls that they needed to give 10 yards, regardless if the player asks for it or not. At first I responded, that is not what the Laws of Games state, he continued to argue with me in front of the players and said he has been doing this for 20 years and has read the RULES 500 times.

Can you please clarify? I live with two referees who hear this all the time from me.

USSF answer (May 9, 2006):
Your contention that the players do not have to move back 10 yards immediately at a free kick is a false one. Law 13 (Free Kicks) tells us quite clearly: all opponents are at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball until it is in play (except at an indirect free kick within their own penalty area, when they may remain on their goal line and between the goalposts). There is no requirement that players must ask for the ten yards.

You are failing to distinguish what the Law requires versus what the referee needs to enforce. While the players must retire the obligatory distance from free kicks and corner kicks and now from throw-ins as well, the referee’s job is to keep his mouth shut and let the attackers (the ones in control of the restart) decide whether, how, and to what extent they want this requirement enforced. Otherwise, the referee should treat the offense as trifling unless the opponent ACTUALLY interferes with play from within 10 yards (usually meaning makes contact with the ball through some deliberate action as opposed to receiving a ball kicked directly to him/her).

In significantly more words, here is what we advise referees, taken from the upcoming 2006 edition of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
13.4 ENFORCING THE REQUIRED DISTANCE
If the referee decides to delay the restart and to enforce the required minimum distance, the referee must quickly and emphatically indicate to the attackers that they may not now restart play until given a clear signal to do so. Under these circumstances, an attacker who restarts play without a signal should be verbally warned and, upon repetition, be cautioned for unsporting behavior. The free kick in such cases must be retaken, regardless of the result of the original kick. An opponent who moves closer to the spot of the kick (from any direction) before it is taken must be cautioned and shown the yellow card if the referee has delayed the restart to ensure that the opponents are at the minimum distance.

If one or more opponents fail to respect the required distance before the ball is properly put into play, the referee should stop the restart to deal with this infringement. The free kick must be retaken even if the momentum of play causes the ball to be kicked before the referee signals. The infringement plus the referee’s decision to deal with it cancel any apparent restart regardless of a delay in announcing the decision. However, referees are also expected to consider whether the infringement on the minimum distance was trifling (had no effect on the freedom of the attackers to restart) and, if so, to refrain from issuing a caution and to allow play to proceed.

The referee is expected to deal with opponents who fail to respect the required distance, even in situations in which they were induced to do so by attackers appearing to put the ball into play, but where the ball was not kicked (touched with the foot and moved).

An attacking team which chooses to take a free kick with an opponent closer than the minimum distance may not thereafter claim infringement of the distance requirement, even if the ball is kicked to the infringing opponent, who thereby is able to control the ball without moving toward it. In such a case, the referee cannot caution the opponent who has not remained the required distance from the ball.


ATTACKERS MAY DECEIVE, BUT NOT CHEAT
Your question:
“U-16 game in [deleted] Cup this weekend… there is an IFK against us near the edge of our 18 yard line. We set up our wall and then 2 opposing players go right up to the wall on either side, get down on their hands and knees right in front of our players, and then start leaning into the knees of the players that were part of the wall and trying to push them back/prevent them from stepping up without tripping over them. Referee saw nothing wrong with it. I have a feeling it has to be illegal somehow. As one ref friend of mine said, maybe call dangerous play if they do trip one of the players trying to come forward after the 1st touch, but the issue there is, they may not move and thus not trip…so hopefully it’s covered under something else. It may or may not have technically been legal, but I definitely think it was dirty and unnecessary. For the record, they didn’t score on the play anyway.”

I and other refs on the board have advised that the referee should stop the kick from proceeding and tell the players to get up. If they don’t get up, they should be cautioned for dissent or USB. If the kick takes place prior to the referee being able to stop it, the kneeling players should be immediately whistled for tripping or holding, and the kneeling attackers most likely cautioned for USB. Of course, if the ref is not quick enough with the whistle then the ball may be in the back of the net, and he would have to decide whether the actions of the kneeling attackers would be trifling, and the goal should be allowed, or whether the goal should be disallowed due to the foul/misconduct. I would especially appreciate your input in this case.

USSF answer (May 8, 2006):
While the referee would normally allow the kicking team a certain amount of leeway in deceiving its opponents, the tactic you describe goes well beyond mere deception. This situation is analogous to the players who line up in front of the goalkeeper at a corner kick to impede and prevent the ‘keeper from playing the ball when it is kicked. Although the players kneeling in front of the wall are “holding” their opponents with their bodies, they have not yet committed a foul because the ball is not in play. While the defending team has no “right” to set up a wall, neither has the kicking team a “right” to “hold” or physically impede its opponents away from the ball. They are setting up to impede the players in the wall from playing the ball when it is put into play and are likely committing unsporting behavior.

The referee may either (1) act before the kick and warn the players not to hold or impede the opponents in the wall or (2) wait until the kick has been taken and then stop play. If the referee stops play, the impeding player should be at least warned before the referee gives the restart, which is an indirect free kick for the opposing team from the place where the opponents were impeded.


ROLE OF THE FOURTH OFFICIAL
Your question:
Do the duties of the fourth official include stopping play and informing the central referee of infractions occuring on the field of play? In a recent international game between belize and panama (u20) the fourth official informed the central referee of an alleged infraction that occured which neither the central referee nor his assistant saw. This resulted in a red card being issued to a top Belizean forward three minutes into the first half. We lost the game 1-0.

USSF answer (May 8, 2006):
The United States Soccer Federation cannot presume to tell referees from other countries how to officiate a game, but this answer should be the same throughout the world.

Although the fourth official may delay the restart to give information to the referee, he or she may not stop play to do so. The fourth official either signals the referee in a manner they have agreed upon before the game or works through the assistant referee on the bench side of the field to get the information to the referee.


“PUSHING”?
Your question:
In a variety of the upper level U12, U14, U19 recreational matches, we are seeing players “push” other stationary players who have posession of the ball with their hips or pelvis. While it sounds innocuous, I have seen players who were pushed in this manner stumble forward, and in doing so, move the ball out of bounds as a result of these “pushes”.

Given that the player who used this tactic gained an unfair advantage, and played the player rather than the ball, we have been calling this as a Push under the LOTG, and awarding a DFK. In severe cases where it is persistant, a card is applied for PI.

The LOTG are silent on the manner or method of the push.

In your view of the LOTG, are we addressing this infraction correctly?

USSF answer (May 8, 2006):
The move you describe is charging unfairly, punishable through a direct free kick. Pushing is done with the hands and arms.


CHANGING A DECISION (2)
Your question:
A winger crosses the ball, the keeper catches it while backing into his goal, and shortly thereafter an attacker runs into him and the keeper falls down between the goal posts and over the goal line. I believed that the ball had crossed the goal line before the contact, and my (youth) AR gave me no indication otherwise. I then awarded the goal. Time expired before the kickoff, so signalled the end of the first half.

When my AR joined me, he told me that the keeper was clearly pushed into the goal, and in his opinion the goal should not have been awarded (he clearly did not follow procedures while this was happening.)

My question is, can the goal be disallowed once the half (or game) was ended? [This particular variation is not covered in “Advice to Referees”, 5.14 CHANGING A DECISION ON AN INCORRECT RESTART.]

USSF answer (May 8, 2006):
The referee may change any decision if the game has not restarted. However, in a strange twist of the Laws, as of July 1, 2005, this would not apply to the end of the second half.

Referees should remind assistant referees of their duties in such situations (to signal for either negation or scoring of a goal) during the pregame conference.


LESS THAN TEN YARDS
Your question:
We all know that in instances where defenders are less than ten yards from an IFK but standing on the goal line between the posts, this is allowed.

In a scenario where team A is awarded an IFK from the six toward their opponents goal. Before the defending team takes up positions to form a wall on the goal line, a number of team A players take up those positions first.  The plan to have a set play whereby they fall to the ground or in some other way move aside to create space for their teammate/kicker to take a shot rebounding off them into the goal, what can the defenders do?

Can they stand off the field, in the goal behind this wall with the refs permission and rush forward at the taking of the kick to prevent the score (I don’t think so)? Can they stand in front of the wall (I don’t think so). Can they stand idly by and watch the clever attackers score a goal?

USSF answer (May 8, 2006):
While the tactic may not be particular sporting, it is not an infringement of the Laws of the Game. By the same token, the defending team may stand behind the players on the goal line (without interfering with their ability to move, of course).


INTERFERING WITH THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
I have been ref for several years. I have traveled to various states and always like to learn the variations of the interpretations of the laws of the game. One that recently affected my 16 year old son who has been a ref for several years him self also.

If the Keeper collected the ball and moved to punt the ball. The player (My son) standing at his side Jumped up as the keeper punted the ball. Note this was not at the keeper just straight up. At the next stoppage of play the ref awarded a Yellow card for Unsporting behavior “interfering with the keeper.” Is this correct interpretation? The assignor said it would be for delaying the restart of the game. Note that the ref did not give any warning as to how close he would allow a player to be to the keeper. The player also never touched the keeper or the ball. I asked the league coordinator this to understand this call.

USSF answer (May 4, 2006):
The USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” provides this information on your question:
QUOTE
12.17 PREVENTING THE GOALKEEPER FROM RELEASING THE BALL INTO PLAY
An opponent may not interfere with or block the goalkeeper’s release of the ball into play. While players have a right to maintain a position achieved during the normal course of play, they may not try to block the goalkeeper’s movement while he or she is holding the ball or do anything which hinders, interferes with, or blocks the goalkeeper who is throwing or punting the ball back into play. An opponent does not violate the Law, however, if the player takes advantage of a ball released by the goalkeeper directly to him or her, in his or her direction, or deflecting off him or her nonviolently.
END OF QUOTE

The parts of your question that the Advice does not address are these: First, the referee should not have to give the player any “warning” about distance. The Law is clear: a player may not prevent (or interfere with) the goalkeeper’s release of the ball. Jumping up, even at the ‘keeper’s side, is interfering with the release of the ball. Second, this interference is not delaying the restart of play. Why? Because play had not been stopped; if not stopped, it cannot be restarted. Third, the referee should not have cautioned the player (your son) for this act, unless it was a repeated offense or truly was unsporting behavior.


CHANGING A DECISION (1)
Your question:
A shot gets behind the goal keeper who turns and pounces on the ball. The referee, who is within the penalty area, uses a “non-standard” signal indicating no goal, (a baseball umpire’s safe signal): the assistant referee gives no signal of any kind. The goal keeper eventually gets up, 5 to 10 seconds, and punts the ball towards the left wing, where it goes into touch. Before the throw-in has been taken, the crowd and coaches are yelling at the referee that it was a goal and he should check with his AR. The referee decides to approach his young AR who is a first season assistant referee.  The outcome of that conversation was that the referee awarded a goal and restarted with a kick-off.

The opposing coach protests that the referee cannot change his decision once play has been restarted, and he is correct, but play had actually never been stopped…the goal keeper had the ball under his control and play RESUMED, but it was not a restart. Approximately 20 to 30 seconds pass between when the goal keeper was laying on the ball in proximity to the goal line and when the ball finally went into touch.

Was what the referee did within the LOTG?

USSF answer (May 3, 2006):
Yes, the referee’s act was within the Laws of the Game. The referee has the power to change a decision before play has restarted. In this case, as play never stopped after the ball entered the goal, the decision was a correct one.

There are several slightly bothering aspects about your question. First is a matter of terminology: The referee did make a decision about the play, indicating there was no goal and allowing play to continue. Decisions are made every second or so and the vast majority do not require stoppages of play. Second is the lack of a signal from the assistant referee. It makes no difference that this is his first season. New referees are taught in the entry-level refereeing course (no matter whether for 08 or 09) that the AR makes eye contact with the referee to confirm a goal or to indicate that there was no goal. Even if the AR did not remember that, the referee should have covered this in the pregame conference among the officials. The correct steps to take are covered in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials.”


COACHING BY PARENTS
Your question:
I was wondering if there is a ruling for parents giving occasional coaching type remarks from the parents sideline during a game. In other words, parents coaching from the sidelines. Is there a rule against a parent from doing that, and if there is what is the penalty.

USSF answer (May 2, 2006):
Under the Laws of the Game (the rules the world plays by) there is no prohibition on spectators contributing their “wisdom” to the players. However, there may be such a rule in one or more of the competitions (leagues or cups or tournaments, etc.) in which the team participates. Check the rules of the competition.


PLAY THE FULL PERIOD OF TIME
Your question:
A state referee committee forwarded the following protest for guidance:
The [state youth] D&P Committee recently heard a game protest filed by Š coach [removed]. The protest was upheld and we have been advised that the game must be replayed in its entirety because the D&P Committee has determined that there was a misapplication of the rules/LOG. It is my belief that the Committee has made an incorrect decision but wish to have this confirmed by you prior to filing any type of appeal.

The circumstances in question are as follows:
The referee blew the whistle signaling the end of the game at approximately 31 minutes of play in the second half of the game. The [team x] coach advised the linesman that [state youth] rules stipulate 2 35-minute halves for the age group in question. The referee acknowledged his mistake and immediately called both teams back to the field of play and re-started the game via a drop-ball and continued play for the remaining 4 minutes.

It is my belief that the referee’s actions were correct and that the [state youth] D&P Committee erred in its decision that a misapplication of the rules/LOG occurred.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible so that if warranted we can file an appeal within the 72-hour deadline.

USSF answer (May 1, 2006):
If, prior to leaving the vicinity of the field of play, the referee learns that the amount of time played in any period of play was too little to meet the requirement of the rules of competition, that remaining amount of required time not yet played must be played. This is required by Law 7, which states clearly that the game must consist of two equal halves. The answer comes with the proviso that the dropped ball restart was correct only if the period of play was ended by the referee’s whistle solely for what he thought was the expiration of time rather than for some other reason (e. g., a foul) or for the ball leaving the field.


NO TEMPORARY SUSPENSION/”HOT-HEAD RULE” ALLOWED
Your question:
While this situation hasn’t come up yet, I’m not sure what i would do if it did. If the goalkeeper must be cautioned by a yellow card, is he allowed to stay on the field and someone else serve the penalty?

USSF answer (April 27, 2006):
Yes, the goalkeeper is allowed to stay on the field–unless this was his second caution and he was then dismissed and shown the red card as well.  Leagues are not permitted to use the “hot head” rule and make players leave the field when they have been cautioned.


RESOLVING CONFLICTS BETWEEN THE LAWS OF THE GAME AND THE IFAB /FIFA Q&A
Your question:
During a youth tournament this past weekend I witnessed a situation during a PK that has caused a lot of conversation among us referees. I have looked at the FIFA and US Soccer website for clarification, but I am finding apparently conflicting responses.

Team A was awarded a PK. Player 1 was identified to take the PK. When the referee signaled for the PK to be taken, Player 1 stepped out of the penalty box and Player 2 ran in and took the shot which went into the goal.

The question is: What is the correct restart for this situation? In the June 2005 position paper on penalty kicks, it would appear that the kick should be retaken, i.e. attacker infringed Law 14 and the ball went into the goal (doc_6_364.pdf). Although this does not address the exact situation that occurred. On the FIFA website there is a Question and Answer document (http://www.fifa.com/documents/static/regulations/Q&A2005_E.pdf) that does address the wrong player taking the kick. It states that the restart is an indirect kick for the defending team at the point where the attacking player advanced closer than 10 yards.

The first scenario where the kick is retaken seems more in line with other restarts, i.e. an offense occurs during a dead ball situation, such as a throw-in or free kick, the player may be carded, but the restart does not change. In the second situation the initial foul is completely ignored after the attacking team commits a foul.

USSF answer (April 21, 2006):
In such matters of conflict, the IFAB Q&A is the final authority.


SUBSTITUTING THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
HI – I am a coach of a U13G soccer team. I have a question concerning substituting goalies during the game.

Can 1 goalie play in the 1st 15 minutes, 2nd goalie next 15 minutes, and the 1st goalie go back in goal for the next 15 minutes, then a 3rd goalie come in for the remainder of the game?

USSF answer (April 21, 2006):
If your competition plays unlimited substitution, in other words, if players are allowed to enter and leave and re-enter the field (with the permission of the referee), that will work fine. However, if your competition plays according to the strict interpretation of Law 3, in which a player who has been substituted out of the game may not return, then you are out of luck.

Your best bet would be to check with the competition authority (league, cup, tournament, whatever) to find out what the competition rules permit.


CORRECT RESTART WHEN ‘KEEPER HOLDING BALL
Your question:
My question is what is the appropriate restart when the whistle is blown, while the goalie has the ball in his hand. In my 6 years of ref’ing, i have seen 3 different restarts. One, the ball is handed to the goalie, and he can play it as if he blocked a goal, two: goalie gets a goal kick. three: drop ball right at the stoppage of play. I’m lucky enough to not encounter this situation, but it always bothered me.

USSF answer (April 21, 2006):
Your question is not clear as to why the whistle was blown to stop the game. Was it a mistake by the referee? Was there a foul? Was there misconduct? Even if the goalkeeper was holding the ball at the moment, the restarts would be different in these cases.

If the whistle was inadvertent or for a reason not covered elsewhere in the Laws of the Game, the only correct restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was at the moment of the stoppage. Some rules of competition (non-affiliated leagues or high school, for example) allow an indirect free kick. We are not aware of any rules that allow the ball to be handed to the goalkeeper so that it may be punted or for a goal kick.

If the whistle was for misconduct by either team, the correct restart would be an indirect free kick at the place where the misconduct occurred.

Another possible restart is a direct free kick if the whistle was for a DFK foul.


‘KEEPER HANDLES DELIBERATELY ON BALL KICKED DELIBERATELY BY TEAMMATE
Your question:
A group of referees has had a discussion on a real game event, for which there is definitely not agreement.

The real-life situation was that of a “passback”, to the Goalkeeper, but the disagreement appears it could also apply GK “double touch”, or to a GK directly picking up a thrown-in ball.

CASE: A ball is kicked back to the goalkeeper, poorly by a teammate. As a result the ball comes to rest just inside the penalty area, aligned with the goal. The GK comes out, but realizes that an attacker is making a run for this ball. There are no other defenders between the ball and the goal. The GK apparently decides he won’t be first to the ball with feet, and dives in hands first to grab it, which he does. For this discussion, the Referee was also of the opinion that the GK would not have arrived at the ball first had he played it otherwise than with his hands. The GK’s possession by hands occurs inches before the attacker would have kicked the ball, but the attacker only mildly touches the ball (best he could do not to injure the GK).

Q1. Is this a simple IFK for passback. E.g. it is not DOGSO-H, because the GK is not subject to DOGSO-H in his own penalty area per clause 4 of the Send-Off procedures. The restart would simply be an IFK for the passback violation.

Or is this an actual case of “DOGSO-F”, wherein the act of the GK was not simple “handling of the ball” in the penalty area (which is not an offense for the GK, and hence the reason why I would understand clause 4 excludes it in the Send-Offs), but in fact an IFK free-kick offense of “touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate”. And then the DOGSO-F (clause 5) kicks in with DOGSO by offense punishable by a freekick.

The greater question seems to turn on narrow interpretation of what is really meant in clause 4 Send-offs by the term “deliberately handling the ball” as it applies to GK in there penalty area’s. e.g. Does this mean to talk to only the DFK offense of deliberate handling (for non-GK players), and then the GK is immune in his own penalty area, or does this mean to exclude the GK from any of the offenses which he commits by handling the ball in the penalty (there are three IFK’s) that involve the GK handling the ball in the penalty area, in specific circumstances.

When it comes down to it, the two camps of referee sentiment are divided by their interpretation of the phrase in Sendoffs Clause 4 that reads “deliberate handling the ball” when applied to the GK in Clause 4 of the send-offs. One literal meaning is any handling of the ball. The other literal meaning would be the DFK offense for non-GK players, in which the GK is immune, and hence the Laws spelled this out, as a reminderS.

Q2. Does USSF have a position on what the intended interpretation of Clause-4 of Send-offs is with regard to what “deliberately handles the ball” means when applied to the GK in his penalty area?

USSF answer (April 21, 2006):
No, this is not a matter of denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity. The goalkeeper is permitted to handle the ball within his or her own penalty area and is explicitly excluded in the Law from being sent off for denying a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball. (See send-off offense 4 in Law 12.) If the goalkeeper does handle the ball directly from a ball deliberately kicked by a teammate or thrown in by a teammate, then he or she must pay the price–but that price is simply an indirect free kick taken from the place where the offense occurred.


OWN GOAL ON PENALTY KICK (OR CORNER KICK)
Your question
I think the following question may not be answered by LOTG: Can a team score a goal against itself directly on a PK?

It is a highly unlikely scenario, and so let me create a more likely situation. Youth match, small-sided field (U-10 or U-11). PK is awarded and the kicking team’s goalkeeper takes the PK. The wind is blowing strongly against the kicking ‘keeper, but he’s an oversized strong kid and he puts a powerful blast into the crossbar. The ball rebounds over the heads of all the players and the wind takes it into the kicker’s goal. Should the goal be allowed?

One answer is that it should be treated as if it were a free kick and disallowed, as under Law 13. However, the penalty kick is not defined as a subcategory of a direct free kick. It has its own separate law, Law 14.

In two places, it is made clear that a goal cannot be scored directly against the team taking a direct free kick, Law 13 and ATR 8.6, the table entitled “Common Elements of the Eight Methods of Restarting Play.” In two corresponding places, it is silent about whether a goal can be scored directly against the team taking a PK, Law 14 and ATR 8.6.

In ATR 8.6, in answer to the question, “Can a goal be scored directly?”: – Under DFK, the answer reads, “Yes, but only against opponent.” – Under PK, the answer reads, “Yes.” The logical implication is that a goal can be scored directly against the team taking a PK.

I believe that the LOTG and ATR are silent on the question because the scenario is so unlikely. Does USSF have an official answer, or will we just sit tight and hope this unlikely scenario never happens?

Answer (April 21, 2005):
If this extremely unlikely event were to occur, the correct restart would be a corner kick for the opposing team.

Although direct free kicks and penalty kicks are dealt with under separate Laws, the only real difference between them–from the point of view of their name–is that the penalty kick has been committed by the defending team within its own penalty area. The immediate reason is the same for both, a direct free kick foul. If a direct free kick goes directly (without being played or touched by an opponent) into the team’s own goal, the correct restart is a corner kick. So it is in this situation.

It is clear that the question arises solely because the Law is entirely silent on the matter. The answer is acceptable only because (a) the situation is so unlikely and (b) it is consistent with what we do know about all other restarts.


SUSPENDED COACH USING ELECTRONIC DEVICES TO COMMUNICATE WITH TEAM
Your question:
I have a question regarding the usage of electronic devices (ie: two way radios, cell phones, etc) by the coaches during a match. Is there a FIFA or USSF Rule that forbids such usage?

My concern comes because our League MISO (Men’s Island Soccer Organization) has a coach that has been suspended for a 5 year minimum term. However, I’ve received reports from some referees that although he’s suspended from any activity with the League, he’s coaching the team via a two way radio with which he communicates with either the new coach or the team manager.

Is this permissible? If not, could you provide me with the Rules that state that this is not allowed?

USSF answer (April 19, 2006):
Under FIFA rules of competition, suspended coaches are neither forbidden nor allowed to communicate with their teams via mobile phones during FIFA matches. FIFA will not take any action. Nor is there anything in the Laws of the Game or Q&A to cover this.

To ensure better compliance from its teams, perhaps the league should provide more complete rules and guidance as to what constitutes “suspension” and what a coach or other team official who is under suspension may and may not do. It is not up to referees to police disciplinary rules of a competition.


WHERE TO PUNISH DISSENT BY GOALKEEPER IN OWN PENALTY AREA
Your question:
The ball is in play at midfield, what would the restart be for dissent by the goalkeeper who is in his own penalty area?

USSF answer (April 18, 2006):
If the referee stops play to punish misconduct, the restart is taken from the place where the misconduct occurred. In this case it would be the spot where the goalkeeper dissented. Do not forget that if the misconduct is by a defending team player in his or her goal area, the restart is taken from the goal area line that runs parallel to the goal line.


CORRECT RESTART WHEN ‘KEEPER HOLDING BALL
Your question:
My question is what is the appropriate restart when the whistle is blown, while the goalie has the ball in his hand. In my 6 years of ref’ing, i have seen 3 different restarts. One, the ball is handed to the goalie, and he can play it as if he blocked a goal, two: goalie gets a goal kick. three: drop ball right at the stoppage of play. I’m lucky enough to not encounter this situation, but it always bothered me.

USSF answer (April 21, 2006):
Your question is not clear as to why the whistle was blown to stop the game. Was it a mistake by the referee? Was there a foul? Was there misconduct? Even if the goalkeeper was holding the ball at the moment, the restarts would be different in these cases.

If the whistle was inadvertent or for a reason not covered elsewhere in the Laws of the Game, the only correct restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was at the moment of the stoppage. Some rules of competition (non-affiliated leagues or high school, for example) allow an indirect free kick. We are not aware of any rules that allow the ball to be handed to the goalkeeper so that it may be punted or for a goal kick.

If the whistle was for misconduct by either team, the correct restart would be an indirect free kick at the place where the misconduct occurred.

Another possible restart is a direct free kick if the whistle was for a DFK foul.


KNOW WHEN AND HOW YOU WILL BE PAID
Your question:
what is the proper protocol for collection of fees?
– pregame, after game ?
– mention it if it “forgotten” ?

did a game last week, one coach did not pay me, hung around his sideline after game, finally caught his attention, he claimed he was not aware he was to pay me or not aware how much, started searching thru his pockets , … etc.

he also had no card for himself, no lineup sheet for me or opposition, etc.

is this common?

USSF answer (April 18, 2006):
All competitions must make it clear to their clubs and teams what the appropriate timing is for paying the officials. Some do it at the game, others at the end of the season, etc. You should check the method of payment with your assignor before accepting any games in a competition you are not familiar with.

And, yes, it is all too common (in all senses of the word), for people to attempt to avoid paying their legitimate debts. But no referee should ever allow a game that requires line-up sheet and cards to begin without them.


STOP EXCESSIVE CONTACT EARLY
Your question:
In a U17B D1 travel game I did yesterday, one of the coaches complained that I allowed too much contact around the ankle and lower leg. Not during slide tackles but when the boys were on their feet and challenging for the ball. How do you decide when to blow the whistle on contact like this?

USSF answer (April 12, 2006):
You stop this sort of play the first time it occurs. If you make it clear that it is not allowed, it won’t happen again–at least in this particular game.


COUNTING CARDS
Your question:
I recently played a match with the league following FIFA rules. A player received two yellow cards and was shown the red.

The league claims they can count the yellows for disciplinary reasons however I’ve read FIFA [Disciplinary Code] Article 18 which says the 2 yellow cards should be rescinded once an indirect red is given.

Can a league count yellow cards in that situtation?

USSF answer (April 6, 2006):
A memorandum of October 22, 2002, forbids the practice you describe. We are not certain just what “an indirect red” is, but the league or other competition authority may not discount or dismiss any cards given by the referee.

MEMORANDUM
To: State Associations
Professional Leagues

From: Alfred Kleinaitis
Manager of Referee Development and Education

Subject: Mandatory Suspension Following Dismissal
Date: October 22, 2002

FIFA Circular 821, dated October 1, 2002, reminds all national associations that any player dismissed from the field is to be automatically suspended from the next match of the competition in which the player was dismissed.

This mandatory suspension is to be enforced for all dismissals (red cards) regardless of the reason and will include send-offs for receiving a second yellow card as well as for actions leading directly to the dismissal. The duration of the suspension can be extended beyond one match by the competition authority.

All national associations are reminded in particular that they may not seek to avoid this binding instruction by passing “exceptional rules,” i.e., a provision which creates any sort of exception.

The automatic one-match suspension may only be waived if it is proven that the referee dismissed the wrong player in a case of mistaken identity.

In no case may the decision of the referee be modified after the game, as is clearly stated in Law 5 of The Laws of the Game.


FOLLOW-ON QUESTION AND RESPONSE RE COUNTING CARDS
Your question:
Question:
In this case the player was red-carded and sent from the field after the second caution. The league allowed him to play the following game.

Later in the season he was banned for receiving 4 yellow cards in the same season.

The league rules state that 2 yellows in the same game count as a red. However in this situation they counted the 2 yellows to the ban in addition to the red.

Should the league count all the cards, just the yellows or just the red?

Thanks again for your help. I’m confused as I always assumed once a red card was given the player is ejected and misses at least the following game. All displinary action thus would relate to the red card and not the prior cautions.

USSF answer (April 10, 2006):
It is up to the league to enforce the rules they have on the books, to change the ones that don’t belong there, and to clarify those that need clarification. Should a player sit out a game for a second caution in a single game? Absolutely; that is a policy of both U.S. Soccer and FIFA. If the league rules don’t say that, they should be changed to do so, but other than that–whether they count as 2 yellows or a red or both–that is league business. The league is the authority that sets the disciplinary standards. Neither U.S. Soccer nor FIFA determine that if you have 4 yellows in a season you must sit out a game. That is something the league puts into its rules of competition, just as FIFA says that if a player receives two cautions in a round of the World Cup that player must sit a game. It is not part of the Laws of the Game, but of the rules of the competition.

In no case is it the responsibility of the referee on a game to be concerned about who can play and who cannot. The body that sets the rules of competition must see that they are properly enforced through its own agents.


REPLACING THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
In some tournaments that I have ref it was said that the same goal keeper must stay as Goal Keeper during the kick offs.

My questions is What are the restrictions (if any) of replacing the goal keeper at any stoppage of the game?

USSF answer (March 31, 2006):
According to Law 3 (The Players), an exchange of positions between the goalkeeper and any field player is permitted at any stoppage, as long as the referee is informed. This exchange is not a substitution and is not subject to be changed by any rules of competition (league, cup, tournament). It would be perfectly permissible for an exchange during kicks from the penalty mark to decide a winner of the game.

If you are talking about a substitution for the goalkeeper–meaning that someone other than a player already on the field to take the kicks from the penalty mark would take the goalkeeper’s place–that is possible only if the goalkeeper is injured and the team still has an unused substitution remaining.


DELIBERATE HANDLING AND THE 4 Ds
Your question:
I had a question about DOGSO-H. In reading a past question from Aug 29, 2005, you state: “There is already a send-off offense for deliberate handling, number 4 under the seven send-off offenses: denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area). It does not require any particular alignment of players for either team, but simply the occurrence of the offense.”

To me, this implies that the four Ds don’t apply to DOGSO-H. For example, there could be several defenders between where the handling occured and the goal.

But when I read the Advice To Referees (2003), Section 12.40 says “In Diagram 8, an attacker, No. 10, plays the ball and a defender inside the penalty area deliberately handles it. A penalty kick is awarded. The defender would not be sent off, as there were too many defenders between the offense and the goal.”

Maybe this statement isn’t in the latest ATR document, but I don’t have that. I am confused as to whether the four Ds apply to DOGSO-H or not. Could you clear this up for me.

USSF answer (March 29, 2006):
In fact, the 4Ds do NOT apply to DGH. They are used only for DGF. In the case of DGH the primary criterion is whether, if there had been no deliberate handling, the ball would have gone into the net–in the opinion of the referee, of course. Now it may be that one or more of the 4D criteria might be used in making that decision–for example, if there are multiple defenders between the shot on goal and the goal, the referee could well argue that, in his opinion, any of them could have made a legal save and so it would not be possible to say that, but for the handling, the ball would have gone into the net. Likewise for distance from the goal and, even more significantly, whether the shot on goal was not in fact in line with the goal.

Wow! Someone actually reads the Advice! We will be making an appropriate change in the 2006 update of Advice 12.40.


RUN THE BALL TO THE LINE!
Your question:
SCENARIO: General run of play at midfield. CR is at midfield in area of center circle. AR#1 is in defending third even with top of penalty area. AR#2 is even with 2nd to last defender in area of penalty circle. From the penalty circle in the attacking end, attacking player unleashes a shot that hits the underside of the crossbar, bounces down at an angle toward the net with backspin so that when it hits the ground it bounces back toward the field of play. The goalie collects the ball off the initial bounce when standing in the goal area. AR#2 starts a sprint to mid-field indicating he believes the ball crossed the goal line and a goal should be awarded. CR blows a whistle, stops play, confers with AR#2 and awards a goal.

After the game the crew conferred and the CR advised that in that case the AR should have given the “benefit of the doubt” to the goalie and allowed play to continue. He suggested that unless an AR is in position to positively confirm a ball has crossed the goal line a goal should not be awarded.

So my question is, “Should a goal only be awarded when an official can positively confirm the ball has crossed the goal line?” On most goals when the ball clearly crosses the line on route to hitting the net, the issue is clear. But in quick counterattacks or long range shots, it seems that approach gives clear advantage to the goalie over the attacker. If the AR has a sufficiently clear view of the play to gather information to signal the goal and then confidently “sells” the call, shouldn’t that be sufficient? Granted, at some time in the future, electric line monitors will eliminate the situation; but in the meantime, who gets the benefit of the call?

USSF answer (March 28, 2006):
No an assistant referee should make a recommendation unless he or she is positive that whatever is to be signalled actually happened. In other words, the entire ball was wholly across the entire goal line (or, in the case of a throw-in, the touch line), a player in an offside position was definitely actively involved in play, a player committed a foul or misconduct that was not visible to the referee, etc.

Nor should a referee announce a decision unless he or she is certain that what is being announced actually happened.

Unfortunately, your question shows that your hypothetical referee and ARs have not read the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials,” where all the correct procedures for situations like this are covered in detail. There is not enough room to spell it all out in this response.

Almost as worrying as not applying the guidance in the Guide to Procedures is the fact that the referee was in the center circle when a shot was taken from the penalty arc.


REFEREE SIGNAL AT THE PENALTY KICK
Your question:
What is the signal that a ref MUST use to signal that the shooting of a PK can commence, or kicks taken from the penalty mark after the game..

Does is have to be a whistle or a visual signal to the shooter?

Does he have to get a signal from the keeper that he is ready?

I’ve watched many matches and never see the referee whistle for the kick to commence, and can’t tell if he has to get confirmation from the keeper that he is ready before the shot gets taken.

What is the common practice that referees in FIFA matches follow to signal the kick can be taken.

USSF answer (March 23, 2006):
With regard to taking the penalty kick, the USSF Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials tells us:
Referee
– Supervises the placement of the ball
– Identifies the kicker
– Moves to the recommended position
– When the ball and all the players are properly in position, signals for the kick to be taken

There is no standard signal for the kick to be taken. It can be a whistle, a wave, a nod, a brief word, etc.

Nor is there any need to get the “permission” of the goalkeeper for the kick to be taken. The goalkeeper should always be ready for the kick.


SHIELDING/SCREENING THE BALL–REVISED ANSWER
The Laws of the Game and the way they are officially interpreted are constantly changing. Back in 2002 and 2005 we answered a question about shielding the ball according to the interpretation of the time. Now, with the latest input, we have revised and refined our answer. This is to make everyone aware of the change in interpretation.

Original question
IMPEDING?
Question:A free kick has been given. The kicking player (A) kicks the ball only a couple of feet by mistake. He then goes to the ball and, while facing the ball, he shields an incoming opponent (B) from gaining possession. If the ball is at the feet of this player A, can he use his body to shield/impede his opponent from getting the ball? Player A cannot play the ball a 2nd time till it is touched by someone else. So can he really claim ³possession² with the ball at his feet when he isn¹t able to touch it? Or does the rule only require that the ball merely has to be within playing distance of player A while he is shielding ­ even though he cannot play it?

Answer (February 16, 2005):Despite the fact that A cannot play the ball legally without playing it a second time before someone else has somehow played the ball, as long as A is within playing distance of the ball (i. e., meaning capable of playing the ball according to the Law), then A cannot be impeding. Playing distance is exactly that, a distance, which is determined in practice only by the playability of the ball.

The fact that in this particular case A could not LEGALLY play the ball without infringing the Law does not change the fact that, distance-wise, the ball is still within a physically playable distance. The ball is legally playable‹in every way open to any field player‹by anyone other than the player who kicked the ball. If A’s movement includes holding the arms out and making contact with the opponent as a means of keeping the opponent away, then the player is guilty of holding.
[Note: This answer repeats information given in November 2002.]

SITUATION REVISITED/REVISED ANSWER (March 23, 2006)
Questions have been raised concerning a narrow and rare situation in which the player performing a restart (for example, a free kick or throw-in) moves to shield the ball despite the fact that this player could not make contact with the ball directly without violating the Law (the “two touch” rule).  In the past, the answer has been that the player may legally shield the ball as long as it remains within playing distance.  This situation is now interpreted differently.  Being within “playing distance” should not be considered sufficient to allow the kicker to shield the ball–the ball in fact must also be playable by that player. In other words, the concept of “playing distance” must include being able to play the ball legally.

If the player can legally play the ball and the ball is within playing distance, the player may shield as a tactic to prevent an opponent from getting to the ball (provided, of course, that the shielding does not involve holding).  If the player cannot legally play the ball or if the ball is not within playing distance, such shielding becomes “impeding the progress of an opponent” and should be penalized by an indirect free kick.


AGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REFEREE/AR AND PLAYERS?
Your question:
It is my understanding the the center referee must be two years older than the team playing? Correct?

Does this also hold true to the asst. referee (lines)? Or as long as they are Grade 8 it doesn’t matter?

USSF answer (March 20, 2006):
While it is normal for young referees to be assigned to work games with players who are at least one or two years younger than they are, there is no hard and fast rule for all states; each is different. Ask your state referee administrator for the rules in your state on this matter.


IS AGE DIFFERENCE AMONG PLAYERS A “SAFETY” THING?
Your question:
A local rec league made a change in the league schedule without informing the USSF Assignor and therefore, incorrect information was provided to the referees. When the referees arrived at the field expecting a U12B match, they discovered a U12B team scheduled to play a U10B team. The U10B team included some players as young as eight years old “playing up” in age. Some anxious parents approached the referees with their concern for their 8-9 year olds playing against the much bigger kids. The referees, including two adults, honestly believed that allowing for the disparity in size, skill, and experience that it would be unsafe to permit this match to occur. They refused to officiate.

Normally refusing to officiate a match due to safety concerns seems to refer to field conditions that cannot be corrected or severe weather. It doesn’t seem that a referee can look at two teams and decide that by itself, it would be unsafe to play. But normally one doesn’t schedule 8 year olds against 12 year olds either. Question: I’m not asking if the referees were right to refuse to play the match but simply were they within their rights.

USSF answer (March 20, 2006):
Although the referee’s primary concern is the safety of the players, that has no bearing on the present question.

The match-up is the concern of the league, not the referees. However this match of mismatched teams came to be, the referee’s main concern has to be what actually happens in a match, not what might happen. If referees starts making such decisions on what might be, he or she would find him- or herself at the top of the proverbial slippery slope. Where would it end?

Unless the team officials suggest that the match-up itself is contrary to the league’s rules, the officials have no choice but to officiate and, if individual players commit dangerous acts vis-a-vis individual opponents, they have the Law itself available to handle it.


CAUTION IN THE PENALTY AREA
Your question:
Can you give a defender a caution with the penelty box without giving a penelty kick?

USSF answer (March 20, 2006):
If the referee stops play for a case of misconduct, such as dissent or unsporting behavior, that does not involve a foul, the game is restarted with an indirect free kick. The referee could also send a player off for violent conduct (brutal threats, etc.) and restart with an indirect free kick if that serious misconduct was why the game had been stopped.


LOCATION OF RESTART
Your question:
Assume a referee properly calls a technical foul against the keeper for using his hands after a pass back to him from the foot of a teammate and awards an IFK. An attacker quickly spots the ball JUST OUTSIDE OF THE PENALTY AREA and takes a quick kick to a teammate who scores. In the opinion of the USSF, is this a valid goal? Must this IFK be spotted within the penalty area or is the placement outside the penalty area a trifling inconsequence to be ignored by the referee?

USSF answer (March 16, 2006):
A specific answer is difficult in this case, as you have not given us enough information. Therefore, our answer must be general in nature.

According to Law 12, a direct or indirect free kick is taken from the place where the offense occurred (keeping in mind the special circumstances for kicks involving the goal area). While the referee should not be overly fussy about having the offended team restart from the specific and particular blade of grass on which an offense occurred, neither should the referee allow the kicking team to put the ball into play from any point that suits them best. The closer to goal the offense occurred, the less latitude the referee will give the kicking team for placement.

In this case, because the offense occurred inside the penalty area, the kick must be taken from within the penalty area, not “just outside.”


ALL GOALS MUST BE ANCHORED!!
Your question:
Laws of the Game, Advice to Referees, USYS Memorandums (cannot find specific one), The Referee Magazine articles, and USSF Entry Level course material; all emphasize “the goalposts must be anchored.” Some further state/suggest “the game will not be played on that field for safety.” I’ve always been taught, instructed others, and believed those guidelines……until recently!

I’ve refereed in 37 states and to my surprise not all states abide by this direction. While in one state, I asked an assignor state policy. Additionally, I asked a state referee committee member (another state) for an interpretation.  The answers were startling.

One person consulted someone on the national (USYS) level and was supposedly told, “it’s up to each SRA.” The other person referred me to IFA Board decisions in Law 5. It was suggested by another person that I Ask A Referee. So….. 1) What is the official USYS position on goalposts being anchored? 2) What is the referee to do if they aren’t? 3) What is the referee’s liability if he/she referees without anchored goalposts?

USSF answer (March 15, 2006):
This is a matter of player safety. There is no reason to look at Law 5. In describing the field and its appurtenances, Law 1 tells us, under “Goals”: “Goals must be anchored securely to the ground. Portable goals may only be used if they satisfy this requirement.”


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER;CHARGING ON A 50/50 BALL
Your question:
(1) A fellow referee informed me that he observed the following at a soccer game this weekend:
– A defender takes the Goal Kicks, the goalie goes outside the area, receives the kick, then dribbles into the area, picks it up, and punts it back into play.

My friend thinks it is a passback violation. I think it is using trickery to circumvent the rules, what is your take?

(2) At a game us old timers were participating in, a forward plays a through ball to another forward, our goalie comes almost to the edge of the Penalty Box to intercept the pass. As our goalie collects, the forward in trying to get the ball, collides with our goalie, who fell, still clutching the ball. The ref did not whistle a foul, as he says it was a 50/50 ball. Do you think it was the correct call?

USSF answer (March 15, 2006):
1. This could be regarded as an infringement of the Laws: A player deliberately kicks the ball and it is handled directly (no intervening play) by the player’s goalkeeper. Whether it should be called is an entirely different matter and would depend on such things as the competitive level of the teams, whether the goalkeeper handled the ball to unfairly remove the possibility of an opponent’s challenge, etc. If there were no opponents nearby, the referee would likely simply classify it as a trifling infringement and warn the players about their actions. If the goalkeeper was clearly handling to foil an active, immediate challenge, the referee should be inclined to blow the whistle. Restart with an indirect free kick at the place where the goalkeeper touched the ball with the hands.

2. No. If the conditions were precisely as you describe them, the correct call should be (carelessly) charging an opponent. The goalkeeper’s team should be given a direct free kick from the spot where the infringement took place. If there was more to the challenge than you described, the referee could consider either a caution for unsporting behavior for a reckless challenge or a dismissal for violent conduct if excessive force was used.


SIMULATION, AKA “DIVING”
Your question:
I recently saw an EPL game on TV and was surprised to see the referee stop play and penalize the attacking forward for diving by awarding a free kick to the defending team. Was this the correct way to penalize the offence as no foul was committed or maybe I am incorrectly analyzing the situation.

USSF answer (March 14, 2006):
It is perfectly acceptable (and within the letter and intent of the Law) for the referee to stop play for misconduct. Diving, also known as “simulating action,” which is intended to deceive the referee, is unsporting behavior.


ASSIGNING GRADE 9 REFEREES
Your question:
I have two questions regarding USSF policy and the assignment of USSF Grade 9 referees.

At our recent assignor recertification meeting a rather healthy debate took place with regard to the use of Grade 9 referees in matches that are considered “recreational” at the U12 and U14 level. The sticking point in the definition of recreational in this context is that these “recreational” teams travel, compete for a league championship, and compete for a berth in end-of-season league tournaments.

The term recreational in this context refers to division 3 and 4 teams within our state’s leagues. Division 1 and 2 teams are registered as “competitive” while division 3 and 4 are registered as “recreational”. All teams, however, travel and compete as I mention above. Teams that play within their towns are also considered to be recreational.

My question is this:
What is the USSF’s official position on the assignment of Grade 9 referees in this context?

I realize that our state’s definition of competitive and recreational probably are not relevant to all of you at the national level, but the distinction is causing a considerable amount of confusion among assignors here.

I am unable to find a definitive statement anywhere that lays out the type of games that Grade 9 referees are allowed to do. There are some assignors putting Grade 9 referees into the middle of U12 and U14 matches that I would consider to be competitive (teams travel, compete for season ending rewards). My own policy on the matter (which is an interpretation of the USSF Admin handbook) is that Grade 9’s may only work as referees in small sided games (regardless of their competitive designation…I believe they are regarded as non-competitive anyway) and NON-travel games at the U12 and U14 level.

Second question:
Are U12 8v8 games considered to be small sided for the purpose of assignment?

U12 matches in our state are about to go to an 8v8 model. I have significant concerns about Grade 9 referees officiating U12 8v8 matches because of the relative experience for most referees at the Grade 9 level and the lack of emphasis regarding offside in most games that Grade 9 referees do. Is there any guidance from the USSF forthcoming on this matter?

Any information you can provide will be most helpful and my apologies for the length of this message.

USSF answer (March 8, 2006):
1. Grade 9 is characterized in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) as:
Recreational Youth Referee (grade 9). The RAH states farther:
9 – United States Soccer Federation Recreational Referee
A. Minimum Age:None
B. Badge: USSF Recreational Referee, with current year
C. Authorized Assignment Level: Referee on recreational youth games under-14 and younger only and assistant referee on any game U-14 or below.

As we have responded several times in this forum: “Grade 9 officials may do centers or lines on U-14 RECREATIONAL games. They may also act as assistant referees on U-14 COMPETITIVE games, but may not be the referee on U-14 competitive games.” That does not include travel (even “developmental travel”) or select team games.

Another factor for determining whether a team is competitive or recreational is whether or not there are try-outs for a team. Try-outs means that a team is definitely competitive. Travel has proven to be a bit difficult as a determining factor, especially in rural locations where many teams travel town to town and league to league just to find regular competition, but they are definitely recreational teams.

If you believe that assignors in your state are abusing the Grade 9 referees by assigning them beyond their training and skills, it is your duty to ask the state referee committee and the state youth association to take firm action to ensure that these referees are assigned only at the level for which they have been trained.

2. Yes, U12 8 v 8 games would be considered to be small-sided games. However, the training and grade level of Grade 9 referees is likely not suitable for calling such games.


FIELD IMPROPERLY MARKED
Your question:
One of the fields we play on has painted boundary lines that do not comply with Law 1. For instance the goal area dimensions are smaller than 6×20 and the penalty area dimensions are smaller than 18×44. As a result the penalty mark is closer to the goal line than 12 yards. What would be the proper way to conduct a penalty kick: accept the markings on the field or take the kick from 12 yards away? It should be noted that these fields are not intended to be a reduced size. Law 14 seems to indicate the existing penalty mark should be used but that presents quite the disadvantage for the defending team as the mark is only 9 yards away.

USSF answer (March 7, 2006):
First a bit of philosophy: There is a big difference between a penalty mark located inside the goal area and one located halfway between the top of the goal area line and the penalty area line yet still only 11 (or, as in this case, even 9) yards rather than 12 yards from the goal line. We referees tend let a lot go by on field markings when the game is a simple recreational match involving kids.

If the field is not marked properly, the referee should try to have proper markings put down by the home team before starting the game, time permitting. If this is impossible, the referee must decide whether playing the game on this improperly marked field would be merely wrong, inconvenient, or simply irritating, or whether it would make a mockery of the game. If it is the last, then the referee should ask the home team to find a better marked field quickly. If that is impossible, the referee should abandon the game and submit full details to the competition authority.

As to a penalty kick from nine yards–no. The referee should mark off the proper 12 yards and indicate that this is where the kicker will place the ball. The remainder of the players, other than the defending goalkeeper, must remain a proper distance away from the kick.


AVOID THEATRICS
Your question:
I was recently an assistant referee in an U19 boys game. Both teams were very skilled and fast but lacked common sense. A lot of fouls were committed and the center ref ended up giving 10 yellow cards. Of those yellow cards two players were sent off for accumulaton of cards. 8 players were given a card for some type of misconduct. The game was very rough and it seemed that a lot more cards could have been issued, but the center ref was just tired. It was also apparent that the two send offs and yellow cards were not effective to keep control of the game. How can this type of game be handled effectively?

I had a game like this with U15 boys and before the beginning of the 2nd half I handed my yellow card to the assistant referee, I made it public of course, and told everybody that the only card left was a red card and if I had to sanction a foul, it would had been an automatic send off. It seemed to work for I enjoyed the rest of the game. Was that a right move? I know it worked but I think I was a little extreme.

USSF answer (March 6, 2006):
The tactic of making a show of using only the red card will work once, maybe twice, but it is not a long-term solution. The solution is simply to be on top of the game from the git-go. Presence near play, talking to the players constantly about what they are doing, slowing (cooling) the game down when player temperatures and referee anxiety start to rise, and, yes, handing out cards when absolutely necessary.

There is no one-size-fits-all formula. It has to be worked out by each referee for each game, depending on how the players come into the match.

A comment on publicly announcing that you have only one card, the red one: The problem with not having a yellow card is that you have thus lost a significant option. In other words, you have done this for whatever reason and now a player commits what is clearly and simply a cautionable offense. You now either have to look foolish by running back to your bag (or the AR, or wherever you stashed it) and retrieving the card or you have the unpalatable decision either to ignore clearly cautionable conduct or sending players off for clearly cautionable misconduct. It may seem like great theatrics but it is a really bad idea.


DENYING A GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY THROUGH MISCONDUCT
Your question:
Here is a hypothetical situation I am involved in a discussion on. A player jumps up and grabs hold of the top bar of the goal and is hanging there. An attacker takes a shot that hits this player hanging from the goal and deflects away from the goal.

The question is what action should the referee take. We all agree that this is USB for hanging on the goal. Where our differences lie is does this meet the criteria of DOGSO? and therefore should result in a send off instead of just a yellow card.

Some say no becuase there was no foul others no becuase the criteria for DOGSO is not met becuase the IFK resulting from the USB is not the punishment just a way of restarting play after stopping to issue a YC.

IMHO (and I seem to be in the vast minority) the criteria of DOGSO have been met in that the law states – ” 5. denies an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the players’ goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or penalty kick ”

The USB of hanging on the goal would result in an IFK and it meets the 4 D’s (Denies, # of Defenders, Direction, Distance)

Any guidance from you would be greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (March 3, 2006):
Simply by jumping up and hanging on the crossbar, the defender is guilty of unsporting behavior. By using that position to deflect the ball away from the goal while committing unsporting behavior, the defender has denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity through an act punishable by a free kick. Send off the player and show the red card. Restart with an indirect free kick–the punishment for misconduct that does not involve a foul–for the opposing team.

The same could be said of a situation in which a goalkeeper pulled the bar downward and the ball hit the bar and deflected away–same punishment and restart.


DENYING A GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY THROUGH HANDLING
Your question:
A fellow official an I are having a debate as to the 4D’s having to be met for DGH the same as DGF. My point is no, that the 4 D’s are in fact for DGF and do not have the same impact for DGH. Point being, if a shot is taken with a defender 15 yards from the attacker who handles the ball preventing it going into the goal, (he has not met all 4 of the d”s-the attacker is certainly not within playing distance of the ball when the foul (handling) occurred,  he should be sent off for DGH and the proper restart be taken. Please help me with this situation.

USSF answer (March 3, 2006):
There is already a send-off offense for deliberate handling, number 4 under the seven send-off offenses: denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area). It does not require any particular alignment of players for either team, but simply the occurrence of the offense.


DELIBERATE HANDLING AND ADVANTAGE
Your question:
Last night during a Match I was with 4 seasoned referees in the stands. When a player on team X had handled the ball, but the ball when to the foot of a player on team Y who took 2 touches and then shot the ball past the keeper for an apparent goal. The referee had stopped play however to call the handball.

The question I have, can a referee allow the play to continue if the opposing team has a clear advantage after the handball?

The referees in the stands were split on this issue last night.

USSF answer (March 1, 2006):
Your question implies that the act of deliberate handling occurred inside the penalty area. Yes, a referee may apply the advantage clause to fouls or misconduct in the penalty area, but both the mechanics and the standards for judgment are different. The distinction is fairly clear and well accepted: In the case of mechanics, the referee should not use the advantage signal if the offense has occurred inside the penalty area–keep your mouth shut and your whistle down. In the case of decision standards, advantage inside the penalty area is based on what happens almost immediately after the offense (rather than the more relaxed standard of 2-3 seconds) and on whether a goal is scored (instead of the more relaxed standard of the fouled team being able to maintain possess and attacking capability).

In addition, the referee must remember to consider the possibility that this player has denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball. If so, then the referee must act accordingly, sending off the culprit if no goal is scored or cautioning for unsporting behavior if the goal is scored.

And, finally, referees should not use the word “handball.” Instead, we refer to the act of deliberately handling the ball or to a handling offense. “Handball” is a term used to describe at least two separate sports that have nothing to do with soccer.


FEINTING AT A PENALTY KICK
Your question:
I recently heard about a game where the attacking team was awarded a Penalty Kick (PK) for a trip in the penalty area. During the taking of the PK, the player taking the kick performed a feint, by stopping his kick after his planting foot hit the ground, waited to see which way the goalie went and then proceeded to kick the ball in the opposite corner of the net. Before the ball crossed the line the referee blew his whisle, declared a no goal and gave the kicker a yellow card for the feint move. He then awarded the defending team a goal kick. Was this the right call?

Two other questions along the same lines: Are these moves considered feints? During a PK, can the kicker plant his left foot to the right of the ball and swing his right leg behind his left leg to “Toe Poke” the ball into the net? During a PK can the player plant his left foot (turning) to the right of the ball and spin around backwards to use his right heel to strike the ball towards the net? I have seen both of these moves in youth soccer in U-13 and U-14 age groups and the referee allowed the goals. I would have thought this would also be considered feints?

USSF answer (March 1, 2006):
The issue of “feinting” underwent a significant change in 2000. Prior to that time, the kicker was expected to make one continuous, uninterrupted move to the ball; in and after 2000 (based on the FIFA Q&A), certain forms of deception were allowed. The principle behind the prohibition on some forms of feinting is that of wasting time.  Referees should watch for the sorts of feinting described in the position paper of October 14, 2004 (available on the USSF referee webpage), but should not consider all deceptive maneuvers to be a violation of Law 14 or of the guidelines on kicks from the penalty mark in the Additional Instructions. They should ensure that the run to the ball is initiated from behind the ball and the kicker is not using deception to delay unnecessarily the taking of the kick.  The kicker’s behavior must not, in the opinion of the referee, unduly delay the taking of the kick in any feinting tactic. Others would include changing direction or running such an an excessive distance such that, in the opinion of the referee, the restart was delayed; or making hand or arm gestures with the intent to deceive the kicker (e .g., pointing in a direction).

The referee should allow the kick to proceed. If the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken.  If the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts the match with an indirect free kick to the defending team.

As to the various ways of kicking the ball, the offense (or lack thereof) is in the eye of the referee on the game.


DEALING WITH IMPROPER PLAY
Your question:
This question deals with the u-13 to u-15 player who has not yet mastered the proper slide tackling technique. I see a lot of players come in with the cleats up to tackle the ball away from the attacker and simply miss due to lack of skill or the fact that the attacker hurdles the defender and continues on his way. Should this be a foul under law 12 “trip or attempt to trip”? Clearly, if the player had succeeded with the foul tackle it could have been considered USB and sanctioned as such. What is the proper way to deal with these unsuccessful but possibly injury causing tackles?

USSF answer (March 1, 2006):
There are many ways to deal with such acts: calling the foul (or misconduct), giving the player a quiet word or a stern talking-to, cautioning or even sending off the player for serious foul play or violent conduct. Only the referee on this particular game at this particular moment can judge whether or not the acts you describe are fouls (or misconduct) or not. The referee must judge whether the player’s acts are the result of poor skill, simple carelessness, recklessness or worse.


TEAM SOCKS MUST BE ALIKE AND BOTH OF THE SAME COLOR
Your question:
I have noticed lately a fashion trend in Girls Soccer using two different colored socks by the team ( i.e. orange and black; or white and orange etc.) I have researched all kind of information’s available to referees, but no answer found on rules identifying the used of matching sock only. High School Association identifies the situation as illegal equipment. NCAA only refers to matching uniforms and in contrast to the other team. FIFA only identifies socks.

For the referee sometimes the color of the sock is helpful in identifying a player submitting a rule violation in tackles or the like. Your advice is appreciated.

USSF answer (February 27, 2006):
There is indeed a requirement for uniformity of socks. While nothing is specifically written in Law 4 regarding the color of socks, tradition and common practice dictate that all members of a team (with the possible exception of the goalkeeper) wear socks of the same color, rather than each wearing his or her own choice or wearing socks of one color on one foot and socks of a different color on the other foot.

The ruling will be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” which is based on the Laws, memoranda from FIFA and the International F. A. Board, and in memoranda and policy papers published by the United States Soccer Federation.

QUOTE
4.1 WEARING UNIFORMS
It is implicit in the Law that each side wear a distinctively colored jersey, that shorts and socks be uniform for each team, and that the uniforms be distinguishable from the uniforms worn by the other team. However, the details of the uniform are governed by the competition authority and can vary widely from one match to another. The referee must know and enforce the rules of each competition worked. Players’ jerseys must remain tucked inside their shorts, socks must remain pulled up, and each player must wear shinguards under the socks. Slide pants or similar undergarments must be as close as possible to the main color of the shorts.
END OF QUOTE


WHERE TO PUNISH FOULS
Your question:
It is my understanding that when a penal foul is committed “off the ball” and the play is stopped for the foul, the DFK is taken at the spot of the foul. As such, the position of the ball at the restart can be far from where it was at the stoppage of play. According to Law 12, if the foul occurred in the opponents penalty area, the result is a PK “irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play.”

This not only seems odd to me, but I don’t believe I have ever seen a referee move the ball in such a way. Is that because any such foul is usually sanctioned as misconduct at the next stoppage of play?

This is bothering me because I have missed the same @%&# question on the USSF exam for three years now! I usually score around 96% on the test, so maybe if I can just get this silly point down, I can improve my score by one more percent?

USSF answer (February 24, 2006):
The foul has ALWAYS been punished at the point of the foul, not where the ball was, with the exception of the penalty kick.

In fact, the following question and answer from the IFAB (the people who make the Laws) may prove instructive. It is about as extreme as you can get on this point:

Law 12
37. After a goal is scored, the referee notices a signal from his assistant referee. The assistant referee tells the referee that before the ball entered the goal, the goalkeeper of the team that scored the goal punched an opponent inside his own penalty area. What action does the referee take? The goal is disallowed, the goalkeeper is sent off for violent conduct and a penalty kick is awarded to the opposing team.


TWO-REFEREE (DUAL) SYSTEM OF CONTROL
Your question:
I have a question that I can’t seem to find a definitive answer for…

A Sunday travel league that I ref for recently switched from the state association to US Club Soccer, a USSF affiliated organization. The league administrators & referee assignor are under the impression that with this switch they can now use the two man (dual) system of control for officiating matches (that the state association did not allow). I told them that we are still under the auspices of the Federation and that I did not believe that was permissible. The league said it was up to them to decide.

I don’t feel comfortable being part of a dual system because I have seen its failings at the high school level. I also have heard that if we use the dual system as USSF referees that we are not covered by the Federation and that is a liability I am absolutely not willing to accept. What is the official stance on this issue?

USSF answer (February 23, 2006):
The United States Soccer Federation does not recognize the two-man or dual system of control. Games played under the auspices of US Youth Soccer or US Soccer may be officiated only under the diagonal system of control, as provided for in the Laws of the Game.

Here is the appropriate extract from page 36 of the Referee Administrative Handbook (2005 edition):
QUOTE
Policy:
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 US 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 US Soccer Referee Committee prefers the following alternatives in order of preference:
1. One Federation referee and two Federation referees 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). 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 their competitions.
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.
END OF QUOTE

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.

Law 5 clearly prohibits the use of the dual system (two referees) and referees need to understand the consequences of participating in it (lack of insurance coverage, inability to provide support if problems develop, can’t count games for upgrade requirements, eventual hair loss, etc.).


HOW MUCH STOPPAGE TIME?
Your question:
How is Stoppage Time determined by the Referee? I have seen many games where in the first half of the game there is quite a bit of actual stoppage time in the game, ie. player injury, goal celebrations, etc. and there is maybe only a minute or two stoppage time added to the first half. Then on the other hand in the second half, there maybe some stoppage of play for player injury, goal celebrations, etc. and the Referee adds four or five minutes (some times if there is not as much actual stoppage of the game as in the first half). Additionally, it just appear to me that when a game is tied, there appears to be more stoppage time added to the second half.

USSF answer (February 22, 2006):
There is no set or particular moment to end a game. Law 5 empowers the referee to act as timekeeper and to keep a record of the match. Law 7 instructs the referee to add time (at his discretion) for time lost in either half of a game or in any overtime period for the reasons listed in Law 7 (Allowance for Time Lost). Referees allow additional time in all periods for all time lost through substitution(s), assessment of injury to players,removal of injured players from the field of play for treatment,wasting time, as well as ³other causes² that consume time, such as kick-offs, throw-ins, dropped balls, free kicks, and replacement of lost or defective balls. Many of the reasons for stoppages in play and thus ³lost time² are entirely normal elements of the game. The referee takes this into account in applying discretion regarding the time to be added. The main objective should be to restore playing time to the match which is lost due to excessively prolonged or unusual stoppages. Law 5 tells us that the referee’s decisions regarding facts connected with play are final.

Some referees will end the playing period while the ball is in play and there is no threat to either goal, such as allowing a team to take a goal kick and then ending the period. Others will end the playing period at a stoppage. Our advice is to do what is comfortable for the referee and fair to the players.

The referee must always add time lost; however, as Law 7 tells us: “The allowance for time lost is at the discretion of the referee.” In other words, the amount of time added is up to the referee.


DELAYING THE RESTART, INTERFERING WITH THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
At what point should a referee caution a player for interfering with the goalkeeper’s release of the ball and/or delaying the restart (by, for example, picking up the ball when a DFK was awarded to the other team)? In several professional level matches recently, such as the Chelsea-Colchester United match in the FA cup this evening, I’ve seen high level referees consistently do nothing with this sort of behavior. In this particular match, Drogba was practically jumping in front of the keeper on three or four punts, and I counted him picking up the ball on DFK’s awarded the other direction at least five times in the match.

I’ve seen similar behavior fail to be punished in MLS matches (Carlos Ruiz seems particularly bad about this sort of thing). Is there some reason I’m missing why the first such shouldn’t be a stern word and the second a caution for delaying the restart?

USSF answer (February 22, 2006):
You have missed nothing. In point of fact, the IFAB authorized for 2005 an experiment that players who delay play or provoke a confrontation with an opponent should be cautioned for delaying the restart of play.

Referees currently have the right to punish both acts by whatever means meet the need for good game management: speaking to or cautioning the guilty player.

We cannot provide firm guidance on “when” to take action, as this is the prerogative of the referee on the game. However, the intelligent referee should step in as soon as it is clear that the player performing the act is indeed attempting to delay play or hinder release of the ball.


PLAYER BEING SUBBED OUT COMMITS VIOLENT CONDUCT
Your question:
A player that is being substituted is running out of the field, when for no reason he runs by an apposing team player and hits him in the face for no reason at all. As a ref. I immediately red card the player. My question is, since play was stopped and he was in the process of being substituted do I allow the sub to enter the field or does his team play a man short. Second where does the ball go on the restart. At the spot of the aggression or the original spot where play was stopped. (A goal kick)

USSF answer (February 22, 2006):
No, you may not allow the substitution. A player being sent off for violent conduct is still a player until the referee beckons the substitute on; as soon as the substitute enters the field, he then becomes the player. The team must play short; however, if the team wants another substitute in the game, they must substitute for another player on the field. The restart remains the same as it would have been originally, because the violent conduct occurred when the ball was out of play.

Although not brought up in your question, this emphasizes the importance of not allowing substitutes to enter before the player has left the field.


SUPER Y LEAGUE RULES
Your question:
Reading the SYL manual for 2006, it seems that they are again utilizing the golden goal to settle ties. Is this permissible, especially from a reaonably high profile national league?

USSF answer (February 20, 2006):
The rule has been changed. There is no longer any “golden goal” in the Y League. The 2006 League Handbook is being updated to provide the new rules. This will be out by March 15 to all of the clubs, referees, and assignors.


PASS TO GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Could you please clarify… I know if a player kicks the ball back to his own goalie, the goalie cannot pick up the ball. However, what if the player pushes the ball off his thigh above the knee back to his goalie, would that be an infraction? Especially if they juggle the ball up to their thigh, then onto the goalie? Or if he/she intentionally hip checks the ball to his or her goalie off a deflection that should be OK?

Someone told me that the above were OK and that the illegal kick back occurs when the player kicks the ball back using their leg below his/her knee.

USSF answer (February 20, 2006):
The question you should be asking is whether or not the player actually kicked at the ball, not what part of the foot/leg ended up making contact. Juggling the ball and then hitting it to the goalkeeper with the thigh is not kicking the ball. Hitting the ball with the hip is not kicking the ball.

The call is always in the opinion and at the discretion of the referee, who is the only person capable of making the judgment as to the nature of the kick. If there is any doubt in the referee’s mind as to the nature of the pass, then common sense should prevail.  Unless the referee believes plays like this to be trickery, then there is no need to make a call.


WHO’S REFEREEING THE GAME? NOT THE COACH!!
Your question:
I was centering a U-13 Boys Flight 1 soccer game. Nearing the end of the game a player on team A was dribbling on a breakaway towards team B’s goal. A player on team B slid in from the left of the player taking the player on team A completely down without the player who made the tackle touching the ball. This happened inside the 18 and I awarded a penalty kick, along with a red card to the player who made the tackle. After the game, a referee report was filed saying that a red card was not necessary. I would like to know if my decision was correct.

USSF answer (February 20, 2006):
This is quite interesting–and somewhat puzzling. Only the referee on the game is permitted to file a match report on that game. Could you possibly have meant a report filed by a coach on the referee?

Without knowing full details on the tackle, we can only say that if you (as the referee on the game) saw a tackle which endangered the safety of an opponent, then you were perfectly within your right (and duty) to sanction that act as serious foul play. That is fully in accord with International F. A. Board Decision 4 to Law 12. Of course, it is also possible that the referee could judge that the foul interfered with an obvious goalscoring opportunity, which is also a sending-off offense.


NO OFFSIDE IF THE BALL IS PLAYED BY THE OPPONENT
Your question:
If a keeper is about to take a goal-kick, with an opposing player in the offside position, the ball bounces off a defender and drops to the player that is in offside position and he scores; is he called for offside or does the goal stand because he was put back onside when the ball hit the defender?

USSF answer (February 19, 2006):
If by “an opposing player in the offside position” you mean that an opponent of the goalkeeper was nearer to the goalkeeper’s goal than all members of the goalkeeper’s team other than the goalkeeper when the ball bounced off a member of the goalkeeper’s team and back toward the goalkeeper who had kicked the ball, then the answer is that in this case (where the goalkeeper played the ball and that ball bounced off the goalkeeper’s teammate) that opposing player is not considered to be offside. The ball was last played by two opponents and not by any of his teammates.


LOCATION OF THE THROW-IN
Your question:
I know that the Law and the Advice to Referees both state that the throw-in must be taken within one meter (or yard) from where it went out. While I follow this, some referees have told me that if a player moves farther than 1 meter away from the goal they are attacking that I should just let play continue because the player is disadvantaging his own team. Is this true, or is there some hidden advantage in moving downfield?

USSF answer (February 8, 2006):
No, this is not true. Referees should enforce the Laws with common sense. Even though the purpose of the throw-in is simply to get the ball back into play, yes, there may be a hidden benefit in moving farther away from the required spot to take the throw-in. The issue is whether the violation is trifling or doubtful, but you must be aware of what the basic requirement of the Law is before you can decide if a violation is significant enough to be penalized. In moving away from the required spot, the player may be gaining playing room for the team by throwing the ball to a teammate who is able to begin a better attack.

Any deviation from the correct location could benefit a team and so the referee must be prepared to enforce the requirement regardless of whether the thrower is farther up or down the touchline or farther back from the touchline.  This is entirely separate from the practical issue of whether, at any given location, the deviation is trifling and thus, even though contrary to the requirement in Law 15, the referee should penalize the violation.


TOO LATE TO CORRECT CAUTION TO WRONG PERSON AFTER RESTART
Your question:
During the first half of the game, one of the Red team’s players commits a cautionable foul on a player from team Green. Everyone including the coach of the team that committed the foul knew there was going to be a card issued. The referee from about 15 yards asked the AR1 if it was #5 that should be cautioned, and the AR says yes. The referee issues the card to #5.

At half time when the crew tried to compare notes, it turns out that the #5 who was cautioned was from the team that was fouled and the team Red that commited the foul (the team that should have been cautioned) did not have a player with #5.

The referee informed the Green team’s coach that he had mistakenly cautioned Green #5. He then told the Red team’s coach that the caution issued to Green #5 was actually for one of the Red players and showed the card to Red #20. The coach agreed with the decision, but made the referee understand that the card should have been issued at the time the offense was committed and not after the game had restard and not during the half.

The referee did write this in the game report.

What is the correct decision, given the fact that game had already started.

USSF answer (February 6, 2006):
Once the referee has restarted the game after issuing a caution or a sending-off, the decision may not be changed in that game. Even though the error was discovered at halftime, the referee cannot change it. Although it may not seem fair, the best that the referee can do is to inform the teams that he or she recognizes the error and will address it in the match report.

Upon recognizing that a mistake has been made, the referee should advise both team coaches of the error and that he or she will be reporting the facts to the appropriate authorities. The referee should remind the Red coach that Red 20 remains on a caution and the Green coach that any subsequent disciplinary action taken against Green 5 during the game will also be reported and the original offense–that should have been cautioned at the time–may be taken into consideration by the authorities. The referee should report all the relevant facts, together with reports from the assistant referees (assuming that they were appointed officials and not club linesmen) and the fourth official, if there was one.

It is clear that there was a lack of awareness by all three/four match officials and someone should have taken responsibility before the game recommenced. Situations like this emphasize the importance of correct bookkeeping and communication among the officials. If an AR recognizes that the referee is cautioning or sending-off the wrong player, the AR must do whatever is necessary to inform the referee before the game is restarted.


DO NOT ADVISE PLAYERS ON TACTICS OR SPORTSMANSHIP
Your question:
While reffing youth games, I often talk to players to “calm down” or “stop pushing” as a way of educating young players. However, there is a difference between giving advice and coaching.

In a recent game, an attacking player was injured and his teammate kicked the ball out of bound. When the game restarted, I advised the opposing player to throw the ball back to the other team. He ignored me, threw the ball to one of his own player who kicked the ball into the net and scored.

This was shocking to the other team as they heard my “advice” to their opponent and were expecting to get the ball back. The coach also accused me for giving illegal advice or coaching the players.

I let the goal stand because there is nothing in the rule book that tells me otherwise. However, can I caution the player who did the throw-in for “un-sporting conduct”?

USSF answer (February 3, 2006):
While it is traditional for the team taking the throw-in in such a situation to throw the ball to a place where the team that kicked the ball out may play it, there is no requirement under the Laws of the Game. The player was certainly unsporting, but not within the meaning of the Law. Let it go.

And you might learn a lesson: No matter how well intentioned you may be, you will never please everyone. Stop giving advice in such cases.


“SHOULDERING” THE BALL
Your question:
I have been reading your collumn for years and it is a great teaching forum. I have not seen the following question addressed (maybe I missed it). I maintain the following scenario constitutes an illegal use of the hands. Some referee colleagues disagree. A player deliberately retracts and then propels forward the front of his shoulder to stike the ball, for example, in an attempt to pass it to a teammate. Contact with the ball occurs just under the collar bone. The motion used is mostly the shoulder coming forward rather than bending at the waist and using the chest. I have previoulsy not permitted this as it is clearly deliberate and has constituted, in my opinion, illegal use of the arm, even though the ball has not really come in contact with the upper arm. In support of my position, I site to them that in all my years of watching professional soccer, I have never seen this type of action at this level of play. I have seen players redirect the ball by letting it deflect off their chest but never have I seen the motion described above. What is your opinion, illegal or not?

USSF answer (January 25, 2006):
As long as the player does not use any part of the arm itself, there is no deliberate handling in this situation.

And thank you for the compliment. We try our best.


“GOLDEN GOAL” _NOT_ AN OPTION FOR DETERMINING THE WINNER OF A MATCH
Your question:
The Laws of the Game state that Extra Time may be used as a procedure to determine the winner of a match. The Laws also state that competition rules may provide for two further equal periods, not exceeding 15 minutes each, to be played.

Can rules of competition (as in a youth tournament) still allow for a single period of extra time or “golden goal” period to determine the winner of a match?

USSF answer (January 25, 2006):
Competitions may not make rules counter to the Laws of the Game, which specify:
QUOTE
PROCEDURES TO DETERMINE THE WINNER OF A MATCH
Away goals, extra time and taking kicks from the penalty mark are methods of determining the winning team where competition rules require there to be a winning team after a match has been drawn.
UNQUOTE

The Laws then go on to lay out the guidelines for away goals, extra time, and kicks from the penalty mark. There is no provision for a single period of extra time or a period in which a “golden goal” may be scored.


TURBANS, ETC., ARE PERMITTED, PROVIDED Š
Your question:
A player claims he can wear his turban as it is his religious right. The opposing coach and player’s say that the player gets an unfair advantage when going to head the ball, should this be allowed?

USSF answer (January 23, 2006):
This position paper of 15 April 1999 should answer your question:
//Addressees deleted//
Subject: Player Dress

According to Law 4, The Players¹ Equipment, a player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player. The basic compulsory equipment of a player is a jersey or shirt, shorts, stockings, shinguards, and footwear. There is no provision for a player to wear a skirt or similar clothing.

However, in an analogous situation, in respect of certain religions that require members to wear headcoverings, the Secretary General of the United States Soccer Federation has given permission to those bound by religious law to wear those headcoverings, usually a turban or yarmulke, provided the referee finds that the headgear does not pose a danger to the player wearing it, or to the other players. This principle could be extended to other clothing required of members by their religion.

Since the referee may not know all the various religious rules, players must request the variance well enough ahead of game time by notifying the league. The league will notify the state association, which will pass the information on to the state referee committee. The state referee committee will make sure that the referees working that league¹s matches are informed.

The referee is still bound by the requirements of Law 4 that no player use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player, or use this equipment or clothing to circumvent the Laws of the Game. An example would be the use of the equipment or garment to trap the ball or to distract an opponent.

April 5, 1999


THROWING AN OBJECT
Your question:
The 2005 Questions and answers to the LOTG prescribes an indirect kick for the following action.

13. While the ball is in play, a substitute throws an object e.g. footwear at a player of the opposing team. What action does the referee take?
Play is stopped and the substitute is sent off for violent conduct. Play is restarted with an indirect free kick to the opposing team at the place where the ball was located when play was stopped *.

However, the USSF Advice to Referees has a table under the heading of violent conduct that indicates the result would be a dropped ball, due to the fact that a substitute was guilty of misconduct.  Am I reading this incorrectly?

USSF answer (January 23, 2006):
Brief and simple answer first: There are several Q&As where the reader must presume that the evildoer either entered the field or left the field to perform the deed. In this case, the Q&A item PRESUMES that the substitute entered the field of play.  Accordingly, the restart (indirect free kick where the ball was) was for this rather than for the violent conduct.

Long-winded answer with rationale second:
– If the sub remained off the field and threw the shoe, this would be misconduct committed off the field by a nonplayer–restart is dropped ball where the ball was.
– The ONLY indirect free kick restart performed where the ball was rather than where the violation occurred is the illegal entry of a substitute.
– If the Q&A answer had been based on the theory that the restart was based on misconduct and that this misconduct was ON the field because that is where the target was, the location of the indirect free kick restart would have been where the target was.
– The only factual situation that fits “indirect free kick where the ball was” is that the stoppage was for the illegal entry of the substitute–who then committed violent conduct by throwing the shoe.  Unfortunately, the FIFA Q&A forget to mention this little piece of information.


JEWELRY FOR REFEREES
Your question:
In todays state cup our assignor, who also happened to be our district’s referee coordinator, instructed all the referees before the match to remove their jeweleries. I really have a problem with this. I do not wear any type of jewelry so it is not an issue with me on that aspect but it is a problem for me as to the reasoning for such act. I would like a ruling from USSF on this issue. Does USSF support such instructions? If so then we all need to know about it. If not does USSF support me in respect of informing my boss that he made a mistake?

USSF answer (January 21, 2006):
Sorry, but the Federation agrees with your referee coordinator. Here are two answers that make the point quite clearly:
USSF answer (April 5, 2001):
Referees are expected to look and be professional in every aspect of their work. The wearing of excessive or outlandish jewelry, no matter how it is attached to the body, would neither be nor appear professional. With the single exception of a watch, referees should not wear onto the field anything which is forbidden to players.
USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
The standards that apply to referees should not be any different than those that apply to players, with the exception of items which are required equipment, such as watches and whistles.


REGISTERED ASSIGNORS
Your question:
Our club wants to start a program developing referees. To do that, we want to have some clinics for club members, both kids and parents, and then have them do in-house games, which means U-10 and the like.

To have a USSF licensed referee assigned to these games, do we need a licensed in-house assignor? We were hoping to have one of the coaching staff do this. Would there be any potential problems with insurance, etc.?

USSF answer (January 17, 2006):
Assignors do not have to be registered if they are assigning only youth recreational-level games. If they begin assigning for travel teams, or teams for which there are tryouts, then the must be registered.


KEEP THE PLAYERS INFORMED, NOT IN THE DARK
Your question:
Can a referee put down (include) in his game report that he cautioned or sent off a player during a game when he did not SHOW or told the player that he was being cautioned or sent off?

This is what happened in this particular case:
Player A, who was a substitute at the time, recovered a ball out of touch and threw it at Player B, who was on the field, striking him in the head.Player B ran over to the side and punched Player A. At this point, players from both sides congregated around the site of the incident and refused to move apart. After a few minutes, the referee terminated the game at this point and announced this to the teams and left. No cards were SHOWN to any players. However, on his game report the referee wrote this:
In the 86th minute, Player A was booked for a Send off for violent conduct for striking an opponent with the ball and Player B was booked for a send off for violent conduct for striking an opponent.

Is this the way the incident should have been reported in the official game report?

What should have been the proper mechanic and process used to deal with the incident at the field and how, it should have been reported in the game report?

USSF answer (January 13, 2006):
If the players will not cooperate, then the referee must do what he or she can to deal with the situation. In this case, both players clearly deserved to be sent off and shown the red card for violent conduct. It is clear from your scenario that the players did not cooperate, but what the referee did would be acceptable only if (as may have been the case here) the referee was concerned about his or her own safety or that of the officiating team.  We find it difficult to believe that the referee could not have found SOME opportunity to announce in SOME way before leaving the field that the player and substitute in question had been sent off.  Many problems could be prevented by NOT letting the game report be the first and/or only occasion when the send-offs became public.


PURPOSE OF THE GOAL AREA
Your question:
What is the six yard box used for beside taking goal kicks and indirect kicks from pass backs on the defensive team?

USSF answer (January 5, 2006):
Here is a portion of an answer from January 19, 2004, that should answer your question:
The goal area has changed shape, size, and role several times during its history. Nowadays its primary roles are to provide a place for the goal kick to be taken and to act as a buffer zone for dropped balls and for opposing indirect free kicks within six yards of the goal. See Law 8 (Special Circumstances) and Law 13 (Free Kick Inside the Penalty Area). That is, of course, in addition, to the information in Law 1 (The Field of Play) and Law 16 (The Goal Kick).

Beyond what is stated in Laws 8 and 13, the goal area has no special significance with regard to indirect free kicks awarded when the goalkeeper deliberately handles a ball deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate.


FEMALES CHESTING THE BALL
Your question:
What’s the correct way for a female to chest the ball?

USSF answer (January 4, 2006):
With her chest.

This excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” is what we instruct our referees to do:
12.9 DELIBERATE HANDLING
The offense known as “handling the ball” involves deliberate contact with the ball by a player’s hand or arm (including fingertips, upper arm, or outer shoulder). “Deliberate contact” means that the player could have avoided the touch but chose not to, that the player’s arms were not in a normal playing position at the time, or that the player deliberately continued an initially accidental contact for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage. Moving hands or arms instinctively to protect the body when suddenly faced with a fast approaching ball does not constitute deliberate contact unless there is subsequent action to direct the ball once contact is made. Likewise, placing hands or arms to protect the body at a free kick or similar restart is not likely to produce an infringement unless there is subsequent action to direct or control the ball. The fact that a player may benefit from the ball contacting the hand does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement. A player infringes the Law regarding handling the ball even if direct contact is avoided by holding something in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.).

12.10 RULE OF THUMB FOR “HANDLING”
The rule of thumb for referees is that it is handling if the player plays the ball, but not handling if the ball plays the player. The referee should punish only deliberate handling of the ball, meaning only those actions when the player (and not the goalkeeper within the ‘keeper’s own penalty area) strikes or propels the ball with the hand or arm (shoulder to tip of fingers).


CORRECT RESTART
Your question:
Situation: Attacking player (A) crosses the half-way line with possession of ball. Attacking player (A) crosses a ball simultaneous to being taken down on a hard slide tackle from a defender (which would warrant a caution). The referee allows advantage to take place as the pass is to space to an attacking teammate (B) who is making a run (and will be in a good scoring position).

Attacking player (B) takes a shot on goal and the goal keeper makes a save. The referee, who has allowed advantage, now blows his whistle to address the caution (to the defender around the half-way line).

Question- How and where is the re-start taken?

USSF answer (January 3, 2006):
You neglected to give us a most valuable item of information–how much time had elapsed from the moment of the original foul and misconduct to the moment when the referee finally stopped play. If the amount of time was more than 2-3 seconds, then the restart (after the caution has been issued), cannot be for the foul, but must be for the misconduct–an indirect free kick from the place where the misconduct occurred.

This situation begs the question as to why the referee would apply the advantage, rather than stop play to deal with the foul and misconduct for an event that occurred very near to the halfway line. A cautionable offense of this nature cries out to be punished sooner, rather than later, to prevent any escalation of misconduct.


UNSPORTING BEHAVIOR
Your question:
I find experienced refs all over the spectum addressing this query. And I find nothing in the rule book on it:
A team has a FK near the penalty area. Among the defenders in the wall, one player hoists himself up over a teammate using his hands, so as to head any goalbound ball going above the wall.

What’s the ruling if a) he misses the ball, and b) he heads the ball, clearing it?

USSF answer (January 3, 2006):
The offense is unsporting behavior, punishable with a caution and yellow card. The subsequent restart is an indirect free kick for the opposing team, taken from the place where the misconduct occurred, keeping in mind the special conditions described in Law 8 regarding restarts in the goal area. If the player prevented a goal or a goalscoring opportunity through this misconduct, then the player must be sent off and shown the red card before the indirect free kick.

The caution, of course, would more likely be given when the offense is not trifling (e. g., if the player actually makes contact with the ball). Simply trying unsuccessfully to get the ball using such unsporting behavior might warrant only a stern talking-to. Most players are unaware that this behavior is misconduct. As for finding something in the “rule book” (known preferably as The Laws of the Game), this misconduct was described in the Law before the general rewrite which occurred in 1996-1997, but referees are expected to officiate as though it is still there. More currently, you should review the USSF position paper on “Cautions and Cautionable Offenses (2004)” available on the USSF website.

2005 Part 2

GOAL? RESTART?
Your question:
The goalkeeper is drawn away from the goal area and an offensive player finds himself with a wide open net. Prior to kicking the ball into the net, the offensive player taunts the keeper in an unsporting manner. A caution is clearly warranted for the unsporting behavior.  Do you allow the goal to stand and caution the offensive player after play has stopped? Or do you disallow the goal and restart from the point of the violation? Most cautions are administered after play has stopped, but does that make sense in this case?

USSF answer (June 29, 2005):
If the misconduct occurs before the goal is scored, then there is no goal. The player is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. The game is restarted with an indirect free kick for the opposing team from the place where the misconduct occurred, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8.


AR’S MUST “BE THERE”!
Your question:
At our tournament this past weekend ­ this discussion came up. Where should the AR be when making the signal for a goal kick? What if a shot is taken around 20 yards from the goal line and misses wide and the whole world knows that it is a goal kick; does the AR have to make the sprint down to the corner flag before making the goal kick signal? On page 12 of the current Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees, this question is silent.

USSF answer (June 27, 2005):
Page 12 is silent because page 7 provides the answer. We cannot be any more specific than this: Be there at the goal line when the ball crosses it, no matter whether the subsequent restart is a goal kick, corner kick, or kick-off. The REAL question is, what do you do when that turns out not to be humanly possible? The ball can move through the air (and sometimes also on the ground) faster than the most fit AR and so it is possible for the ball to get to the goal line sooner than can the AR. Nevertheless, the AR must try and, when reality clashes with theory, the AR continues the few short feet (or yards) down to the goal line before signaling. The AR should never be so far behind the movement of the ball that the distance is great enough for there to be an appreciable delay in getting to the goal line to make the signal.


KNOW THE RULES OF THE COMPETITION!!!
Your question:
During a tournament play for a U13G game, the Center misunderstood the time was set at 25 minutes per half and he ran a 30 minute first half. During the first half, in the 28th minute, a 2nd caution was issued to a player, she was shown the red card and ejected. The coach protested saying the half should have ended at 25 minutes (according to the tournament rules).

After discussion with tournament officials, the 2nd yellow was rescinded and the ejection nullified because it occurred during the improperly added 5 minutes of time. The 2nd half was 25 minutes in duration. The Center acknowledged he should have known the tournament rules prior to play, but given the situation, was rescinding the 2nd caution proper? Thanks

USSF answer (June 27, 2005):
Under the Laws of the Game, the referee is authorized to take into account excessive amounts of time lost. This does not, however, increase the length of the second half because all the referee is doing is restoring to the teams the full amount of playing time to which they are entitled. Furthermore, in general, the referee is the sole judge of when time ends.

That is not the case here. The referee has made a mistake in timing the first half. Unfortunately, an error in timing which causes a half to be ended too early can be corrected fairly easily but causing a half to go too long (other than to make up for excessive time lost) cannot. Still, the half cannot be said to be “over” until signaled by the referee. If, during the “added” time, a card is given, regardless of the reason or the consequences, and the mistake is not discovered until after the restart (or, as here, and in accordance with the 2005-2006 change in Law 12, until after the end of the half), the card must stand–as far as the rest of that game is concerned.

The referee’s only recourse is to provide the necessary details in the game report and the competition authority (in this case, the tournament management) can sort it out. If they decide to cancel the second yellow card, the subsequent red card, and the required next game suspension, that is their business.


“MESSAGES” ON TEAM JERSEYS
Your question:
Our local soccer club has a team that calls itself Football Club United Kingdom. On their jersey they have “FCUK”.

I was told USSF was not taking this as the shock value it is intended because if they were to “outlaw” “FCUK”, then clubs would not be allowed to have “GAP”, Coco Cola, etc on their uniforms. Please tell me this is not so.

I’m sure the forefathers of the game did not intend FCUK to be construed as “GENTLEMANLY”. Will USSF become another “tolerant” organization? What if a referee cards a whole team for having such a jersey?

USSF answer (June 23, 2005):
Such matters come under the state association’s jurisdiction since they are responsible for the games in their state. That would be either the youth state association if it is a youth game or the adult state association if it is an adult game. The U. S. Soccer Federation has no rules that would prevent a state association from stepping in and making a decision as to what goes on the uniforms in this case. .


WHERE DOES IT SAY THAT?
Your question:
Are you aware of any written requirement for players to keep their jerseys tucked in? I know it is tradition–sometimes not enforced–but I have never seen anything in writing other than in the annual publication by USSF for referees and teams playing in tournaments.

USSF answer (June 22, 2005):
This requirement was originally carried in the “Additional Instructions regarding the Laws of the Game” for the 1994 World Cup in the United States and in subsequent editions of the Laws of the Game (until the revision of the Laws in 1997):
23. Players’ outfits
(a) The referee shall ensure that each player wears his clothes properly and check that they conform with the requirements of Law IV. Players shall be made aware that their jersey remains tucked inside their shorts and that their socks remain pulled up.The referee shall also make sure that each player is wearing shinguards and that none of them is wearing potentially dangerous objects (such as watches, metal bracelets etc. ).


OFFSIDE
Your question:
I am a lowly grade 8 (since 2001) Š and was at the DC United-NE Rev match last Saturday night. One offside call has me confused. Can you help?

Believe DCU defending when ball played overhead toward NER player in clear offside position running toward the sideline away from team benches; offside player outside PA. But ball so high the player had to be 7′ to get to it. Flag is up for offside. Defender covers ball into corner. Brian Hall stops play for the offside, which leads to an IFK about 20-25 yards from the goalline. I wonder why. Since the defender secured position, albeit in the corner, but was not shadowed, shouldn’t play be allowed to carry on for a “trifling” offisde? Or was the offside called because the defender was disadvantaged by having to play the ball from his corner, whereas with an IFK it is moved upfield for kick that will send it 50-60 yards (or more) on attack?

This was borne in on me Sat night because 8 hours earlier in a tournament U12 game I waved down an offside flag when the defender got possession at the top of the PA and despite screams from the sideline “cognoscenti” of “offside, offside” I let play go on, which led to the team in possession moving the ball upfield and scoring the game tying goal. I felt so smart–sometimes you get lucky. Then went to DCU game and became confused.

Can you help me understand this? I know there is a good reason for Hall’s decision but would like to find out what I’m missing.

USSF answer (June 20, 2005):
There is no such thing as a “trifling” offside. A player either IS or IS NOT offside.

If, in the opinion of the referee, the player in the offside position is involved in active play by interfering with play or interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage by being in that position when a teammate plays the ball, that player must be declared offside. That decision is up to the referee on the game, not outside observers.


EITHER FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE COMPETITION OR DON’T REFEREE THERE
Your question:
Can leagues still require referees to officiate official USSF-sanctioned (or their affiliates, USYSA, US Club, etc.) matches where a game can use golden goal to determine a winner? What must the referee do in the case where he is asked to officiate such a match? As a league administrator we have had several national referees inform us that their recent training classes have asserted they are not to officiate such a match.

Can you please provide an official position?

USSF answer (June 20, 2005):
If a referee accepts a game, he or she must know and follow the rules of the competition. If the referee does not approve of the rules of the competition, he or she is free to turn down the assignment.


YOU DON’T KNOW SQUAT!
Your question:
During a recent coed rec adult match, a player took a throw-in with everything (feet, hands, facing field, ball) clearly IAW the Laws of the Game except for his body “positioning”. He performed the throw-in from an extremely deep squat. His butt was at or below his knees. Not to be offensive, but he looked like he was out in the woods taking a bowel movement.

I decided that the throw-in was illegal and awarded a throw-in to the opponents. My rational and explanation to the player was that his extreme body “positioning” was inappropriate (i.e. disrespectful to the game).

I checked the usually references (The Laws of the Game, FIFA’s Q&A, and USSF’s Advice to Referees) but couldn’t find anything specifically addressing a “deep squat”. The closest reference was “sitting down” from the Q&A:
8. Is a player allowed to take a throw-in kneeling or sitting down?
No. A throw-in is only permitted if the correct procedures in the Laws of the Game are followed.

I remember that the question of the “kneeling” and “acrobatic” throw-ins was raised and answered in either the 1985 or 1986 memorandum. As I remember the Board’s response, they basically said that the “acrobatic” throw-in was legal if all of the other requirements were met and that the “kneeling” throw-in was illegal with no further explanation or rational.

Is there any “official” guidance for this extreme deep squat body positioning? What are your “personnel” thoughts?

Another tangent regarding body “positioning.” I’ve never seen this happen, but I also don’t remember any “official” advice/guidance that would cover such a case. What should a referee do if a player were to take a kick (corner, kickoff, etc.) with his foot while sitting on the ground? What if he were lying on the ground?

My answer: Caution (Unsporting Behaviour) and Retake the respective restart.

USSF answer (June 17, 2005):
Squatting and kneeling are a form of sitting and as such are not permitted when taking a throw-in.

Kicking is traditionally done from a standing position, not on the ground–although it is certainly permissible to play the ball while on the ground if it is done without endangering any participant. Any free kick restart must be performed from a standing position.


SERIOUS MISCONDUCT AND THE ASSISTANT REFEREE
Your question:
This happened to me: offensive team driving toward goal about the top of the penalty box, I’m the A/R tracking the play, defense steals the ball, and the play heads back the other way down the field, with the Referee now having his back to me and tracking the players as the play moves toward the other end.

Now, on my end, things are getting messy. Out in the of the field (and, again, after the play has turned back down the field), the original offensive dribbler who lost the ball walks up and decks an opponent. Questions are this: As an A/R, do I let this slide? How do I get the attention of the Referee – especially since his back is to me and the play is now on the other end? In posing this question to some colleagues, they suggested waiting until the Referee found his way to my end of the field, then wave my flag to indicate a foul, then discuss with him what happened. Yuck, pretty ugly way to handle this – but I am looking for ideas.

Trying to be a better referee,

USSF answer (June 15, 2005):
The assistant referee should NEVER allow violent conduct or any other serious misconduct unseen by the referee to go unpunished. The AR should begin signaling immediately after the incident takes place, meanwhile remembering who, what, where, when, and how. If the other AR does not see the signal, the AR should get the referee’s attention in any way possible, including shouting his or her name. Once the referee gets the word that something is terribly wrong, the AR gives a full report.

If getting the notice to them takes a long time and play continues for what seems like an eternity, then the referee and the other AR should consider giving up their badges. Whether or not that happens, all details must go into the match report.

It should go without saying that the principles of this are clearly covered in the “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees.”


HOLDING THE FLAG IN THE “RIGHT” HAND
Your question:
An assessor last evening suggested that when signaling for a goal kick, I should hold the flag in the hand away from the referee, the hand closer to the goal line, rather than the hand closer to and most visible to the referee. I was taught, admittedly a LONG time ago, the other way. The flag is always in the hand closer to the referee. Where does one go about finding out the current policy/position on these details?

USSF answer (June 13, 2005):
The Federation recommends carrying the flag in the hand nearer to the referee while running the line, but for signaling there is no policy other than common sense. Shame on the assessor for making a big deal out of it.

If holding the flag in the “wrong” hand to give the signal means better visibility (to aid you in further assisting the referee), then do it that way. There is no “official” policy on which hand to use for signaling.


WHAT’S THE RESTART?
Your question:
If a player is cautioned for Impeding a Thrower during a throw-in, is the restart still a throw-in or is it at Direct Free Kick?

USSF answer (June 13, 2005):
Throw-in.


BELATED SEND-OFF
Your question:
This question was raised at our last meeting. A player was not sent off after being given a second caution. Player then scores! Referee team sees their error.

We all agree that the player is now sent off, but….
Does the goal stand? what is the restart? When did the player stop being a player? become an outside agent? In addition to getting to your car quickly; what actions does the Referee take?

USSF answer (June 13, 2005):
As long as the situation was brought to the referee’s attention during the game, the decision to send off and issue the red card to the player is correct. The player stops being a player only after he or she is sent off, so does not become an outside agent at all. Fortunately in this case (because play had not restarted after the goal), the referee’s error has not cost the opposing team a goal.  The goal should not be counted scored.  The referee should restart with a goal kick for the opposing team.

If the mistake is not discovered until some time after the restart, the goal will still count and the player who should have been removed must now be sent off.

If it was not the player who should have been sent off who scored, the goal still counts, but the player who should have been removed must now be sent off.

If the player who should have been sent off is not discovered until after he has been substituted, then that now-former player is shown the red card and the team must play down by removing the player who had come in as the substitute.

The referee must include full details of this serious error in the match report.


NO PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE ALLOWED
Your question:
I was AR in a competitive U-14 game in a tournament this weekend. During the halftime interval, one of the teams changed shirts ‹ they wore blue in the first half and white in the second. Weather and wet jerseys was not an issue. Neither the referee nor the opposing team was informed of the change. We were puzzled by it and speculated that gamesmanship was probably involved (the team concerned had played poorly in the first half but was still tied 0-0 with the other team), but nobody seemed unduly concerned.

Should we have prevented the team changing the color of their shirts at half-time? Would the views of the opposing coach have carried weight in our decision if she had objected?

USSF answer (June 6, 2005):
A team may not change uniforms at halftime without good cause, such as severe wetness and cold weather. In this case, the change is a form of gamesmanship and is not allowed.

There is no need to caution the players, as this is a matter of coaching, not play on the field. The referee should include full details in the match report. In no event should the views of the opposing coach have a bearing on any decisions made by the referee.


DO NOT “DOWNGRADE” SERIOUS MISCONDUCT INTO A SIMPLE FOUL!
Your question:
I was ref on a game between two teams with an intense rivalry. The out of town team was playing at a higher level, and had managed to run up 6 goals against the home team, who gave the impression they were very frustrated.

I would like a review of one call I made. In this case, a player from the home team had entered the opponents Penalty Area and was driving an attack on the goal. He was in position clearly to score a goal, when two defenders came in and basically smashed him between themselves, taking him off the ball. The attack seemed coordinated (i.e., the defenders intended to do this.)

I whistled the foul, and called it as a push under Law 12, since it pushed the attacker off the ball, and awarded a PK under Law 14. Apart from sending off the two offenders for DGF, did I call this right? If not, what should the call have been?

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
Taking your question at face value and the words literally (such as “smashed”), there is only one answer: The foul goes beyond denying the opponent a goal or a goalscoring opportunity. Send off both defending opponents for serious foul play and restart with a penalty kick.


INCIDENT ANALYSIS
Your question:
Here’s the scenario: ADVANCED level of play. Player going straight at goal. Player has beaten the defense by a couple of steps and is going at goal, keeper gets position and forces player to change angle of attack and ball is now NOT within playing distance (close) and not going at goal. Keeper collides with player, they both go down and the defense is on the ball instantly. PK? PK and SO? Cold beverage and think about it?

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
There are several very important factors here: The 4 Ds must be present and obvious:
– Number of Defenders — not more than one defender between the foul and the goal, not counting the defender who committed the foul
– Distance to goal — the closer the foul is to the goal, the more likely it is an obvious goalscoring opportunity
– Distance to ball — the attacker must have been close enough to the ball at the time of the foul to have continued playing the ball
– Direction of play — the attacker must have been moving toward the goal at the time the foul was committed
If any element is missing, there can be no send off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.

The final factor is whether the referee deemed the collision to be a foul, rather than fair play. If a foul, then the goalkeeper has denied the opponent a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity. Send off the goalkeeper, showing the red card, and restart with a penalty kick.

It makes no difference which direction the ball is going, the fact remains that the attacking opponent was moving toward goal.

Afterwards you may rest and reflect while partaking of a cold beverage.


APPLYING THE ADVANTAGE
Your question:
I’m a little confused when it comes to applying advantage in certain situations. Attacker #1 dribbles into the penalty box, where he is tripped by a defender…a clear penalty kick. The ball rolls straight to Attacker #2 though, who is all alone and takes a shot. Obviously, if he makes the shot, I’d apply advantage and score the goal. But what if the shot is saved by the goalie? Do I rule that advantage never materialized, and call for the PK? Would that answer change if A2 shanked the kick badly and it went out of bounds?

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
Advantage on fouls committed by defenders inside their own penalty areas is treated slightly differently than for fouls outside the penalty area. Remember, if play is stopped, the restart is a penalty kick, which, while not a sure thing, is a frequent producer of goals. As referee, you should avoid signaling advantage inside the penalty area–if as an immediate next event after the foul a goal is scored, the soccer gods have been just. Count the goal, deal with any misconduct that might have been related to the foul, and restart with a kick-off. If a goal is NOT the immediate next event, stop play for the foul, deal with misconduct (if any), and restart with the penalty kick.

Do NOT wait to see if the ball is going to a teammate of the player who was fouled before deciding on advantage. Your only wait is to see if the ball is going into the net. If you wait to see what might happen other than the ball going into the net, there is no good point at which to stop waiting. The ultimate advantage following a foul by the defense inside its own penalty area is a goal being scored right away. The next most advantageous outcome is having the penalty kick called.

If you choose to apply the advantage, even without giving the signal, you have only 2-3 seconds to change your mind. Use them wisely.


TURNING THE BACK TO AN OPPONENT
Your question:
Recently in a tournament out of state, at the Under 16 age group, an opponent was dribbling the ball in a fast breakaway towards my next to last defender. He knocked the ball out several yards in front of him allowing my defender to have a fair attempt at this 50/50 ball. Just before the opponent player was to make contact (foot to foot) with my defender he turns his back to my defender. The opponent player slammed his back into my player and fell into the penalty are. The referee awarded a penalty kick to the opposition.

I remember a Board clarification from the last couple of years that states is a player intentionally turns his back towards an oncoming opponent, than that player turning his back should be charges with committing a dangerous play and the other team should be awarded an indirect free kick.

I felt that this rule should have resulted in my team getting an indirect kick going the other way, not the other team getting a penalty kick.

The referee official at the tourney headquarters said he had never heard of this clarification and I cannot find it in the Laws of the Game

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
We are not aware of any “clarification” from the IFAB regarding turning one’s back on an opponent. Are you sure you are not thinking of high school or some local rules of competition?

As you describe the situation, the foul would appear to have been committed by the player with the ball, not the defender. That would be punished with a direct free kick for the defender’s team. This sort of foul is common in youth soccer, where some players jump into an opponent and, while doing so, turn their back. Since this essentially makes them an unguided missile, it highlights the danger of jumping at an opponent with the back turned.


INTIMIDATION?
Your question:
I am curious to know what options are available given the following situation:
The offensive player makes a run to the opposing goal and kicks the ball to the goalie. The goalie gathers the ball and after two full steps intentionally runs into the player potentially an intimidation move. The player clearly wasn’t at fault, but was just continuing his run at the goal. My first interpretation is that the goalie has control over his area, but in this case exceeded his personal space and took a little ‘shot’ at the offensive player. This could be a good case of talking to the keeper and giving a verbal warning. Let’s say the keeper has done this a second time. Is this is a good case of a caution given with an indirect kick taken by the defensive team? I am not sure at what point, if any, that a penalty kick should be awarded to the offensive team if the goalie after maintaining possession of the ball commits a foul. Can you elaborate on this scenario.

I have discussed this situation with some other referees and received varying opinions.

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
Intimidation is frequently only in the eye of the beholder. If the goalkeeper’s actions take out the opposing player, the referee must distinguish between an unavoidable collision of two players attempting to play the ball and the possibility that one of them is actually “taking a shot” at the other. While there may be doubt on the first occasion, if it occurs again the referee’s course is clear. Whether a caution is given or not, if the foul is called then the restart has to be a penalty kick.


KICKING TOO EARLY AT KICK FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
My daughter recently attended an out of state tournament. The game went into kicks from the penalty mark. Here¹s my question: The goalies had just switched positions. The ball was placed on the mark. The players were in position but before the referee could blow the whistle, the player kicked the ball and the goalie made the save. Should the player be given another opportunity to kick the ball since the whistle was not blown or should that kick be recorded as is?

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
The ball may not be put into play until the referee is satisfied that every player is in proper position and blows the whistle. The correct decision would have been to retake the kick from the penalty mark.


MARKING THE ‘KEEPER OUT OF THE PLAY
Your question:
Corner kick situation. Attacking player shadows GK before kick is taken. Do I: (a) stop play, caution the attacker & proceed with the corner kick; or (b) allow the corner to be taken & caution the attacker at the 1st subsequent stoppage; or (c) negate the corner, issue no card & give an IFK to the defense. Any help would be appreciated.

USSF answer (May 30, 2005):
It is an offense if a player who is standing in front of a goalkeeper when a corner kick is being taken, takes advantage of the position to impede the goalkeeper before the kick is taken and before the ball is in play. The referee may either (1) act before the kick and warn the player not to impede the goalkeeper or (2) wait until the kick has been taken and then stop play. If the referee stops play, the impeding player should be at least warned before the referee gives the restart, which is an indirect free kick for the goalkeeper’s team from the place where the ‘keeper was impeded.


INCIDENT OFF THE FIELD
Your question:
A player on Team A (offense) and a player on Team B (defense) are going for the ball that is about to leave the FOP from the Penalty Area over the goal line. Before the ball goes out of play, the offensive player stops it on the goal line. Both players leave the FOP due to momentum. As the offensive player is returning to the field, but before he does so, the defensive player pulls him down from the shoulder. During the whole incident, the ball was still in play where the offensive player stopped it. What is the call? What is the restart if play is stopped?

USSF answer (May 26, 2005):
The offense is violent conduct or unsporting behavior by the player from Team B, depending on the amount of force the referee sees. The restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped (keeping in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).


SITTING OUT SUSPENSION
Your question:
I was watching a high school game where a young lady received a red card in a high school game. She was sent off and removed from the field. However, at the next game she was not even allowed to sit on the bench with her teammates, even though she was not suited out. Is this right? Should she have been allowed on the bench with her teammates?

USSF answer (May 26, 2005):
Sorry, we do not answer questions based on high school rules. However, tradition dictates that the player not be on the bench while sitting out a suspension.


NO SIZE DISCRIMINATION, PLEASE!
Your question:
I am a 10 year old and taller and bigger than my team mates. I try to play clean but the smaller kids constanly push me in the back and put their forearm out when I have the ball. They do not get called for a foul, but if they run into me, I get called and they get a free kick. The other coaches, parents, and even refs have said that is the only way it is fair for them to play against me.  Should my league have a rule like this for taller players?

USSF answer (May 23, 2005):
It is against the Spirit of the Game to punish players solely for their size, whether great or small. The aim of the game has always been that the better or faster or stronger players win. There is nothing in the Laws of the Game about handicapping taller or stronger or faster players to make things “even.” The practice you describe should not be allowed.


SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER CHARGE
Your question:
Got into a discussion with other refs on these scenarios, during a rain delay… All the “shoulder-to-shoulder” contact described is clean, i.e. not shoulder to the back, or elbowing or open arm shoves.

(a) Attacking player has the ball under his control and is moving toward the goal. A defender forces him off the ball with clean but powerful, shoulder-to-shoulder contact that sends the attacker to the ground, and defender wins the ball. Foul or fair charge? Would it be a “fair charge” if the attacker had not hit the ground?

(b) Attacking player and defending player are running after a loose ball, beyond either one’s control. Defender hits attacker with a shoulder-to-shoulder charge, forcing him off his path and defender gets to the ball. Neither player had possession and neither player was playing the ball, but the ball was clearly a “50-50” ball, up for grabs. Foul or fair charge?

(c) Attacker has the ball under his control driving down the sideline, with attacker on his heels. Attacker puts the ball forward into open space, 12-15 feet ahead of him, beyond his control. The defender takes this opportunity to charge the attacker with a shoulder-to-shoulder move, forcing him to the side and defender gets to the ball. Attacker had control of the ball, but then by putting it into open space, did he turn it into a 50-50 ball? Foul or fair charge?

USSF answer (May 23, 2005):
Given your description of the shoulder-to-shoulder contact as “clean” or “clean but powerful,” the only other factor missing is whether or not the contact was done when the players were within playing distance of the ball. Only the referee on the spot can make the correct decision. Let these two paragraphs from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” be your guide:

12.5 CHARGING
The act of charging an opponent can be performed without it being called as a foul. Although the fair charge is commonly defined as “shoulder to shoulder,” this is not a requirement and, at certain age levels where heights may vary greatly, may not even be possible. Furthermore, under many circumstances, a charge may often result in the player against whom it is placed falling to the ground (a consequence, as before, of players differing in weight or strength). The Law does require that the charge be directed toward the area of the shoulder and not toward the center of the opponent’s back (the spinal area): in such a case, the referee should recognize that such a charge is at minimum reckless and potentially even violent. (See also Advice 12.14.)

12.22 CHARGING AN OPPONENT AWAY FROM THE BALL
A player who charges an opponent in an otherwise legal manner (i.e., not carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force) but with the ball not within playing distance has infringed the Law. Such an “off the ball” charge is considered a form of impeding the progress of an opponent (even though contact has occurred) and is thus penalized with an indirect free kick restart for the opposing team. If the referee considers the charge to be careless, reckless, or involving excessive force, the restart is a direct free kick.


KNOW YOUR RULES OF COMPETITION
Your question:
In a recent U10 level game where there are no PKs, an intentional hand ball occurred within the penalty box during the second half but it was not a ³Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity² but more of the defender forgetting he¹s not in goal anymore. The referee setup up a DK on the 14-yd line (since this was small-sided soccer) closest where the infraction occurred and the defenders formed a wall 8 yds away, per county rules. The referee signaled for the kick and again another different defender in the wall touched the ball as it went into the goal. The referee allowed the goal.

In my opinion, this was the correct action for the referee except maybe he should have yellowed carded both instances of hand ball in the penalty area. Understanding that this is still instructional soccer, should that be the case or would it be better to explain to the two defenders what could have happened (carding)?

USSF answer (May 18, 2005):
These must be local rules of competition, as the US Youth Soccer approved rules for Under-10 small-sided games have penalty kicks and all the items under Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct) apply. (You can download the USYS rules from their site.)

While the referee should certainly make allowances for instructional-level soccer, under Law 12, the player who denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball should have been sent off and shown the red card. The player who deliberately handled the ball but did not succeed in stopping the goal might have been cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card.

As your rules of competition appear to differ from the Laws of the Game, we would suggest asking the league (the competition authority) what they want in such cases. And you might suggest that they consider instructing all referees who work these games to follow some specific guidance.


DON’T TAKE AWAY A LEGITIMATE GOAL!
Your question:
Yesterday, I was asked about the following situation which had occurred in a U-19 girls classic game prior to my daughters game: a player on team A who was slightly in the goal area stops team B from scoring by using her hands; the center referee blew his whistle but play continued for approximately two seconds with team B putting the ball in goal. The center referee and the AR lost track of who the player who committed the foul and simply ordered a PK.

The PK missed and later the player, reportedly the offender in stopping the goal, scored the only goal of the game.

Team B coach (for whom I had been an instructor in his grade 8 class) asked me if the referee should have just picked a player to send off or asked the team captain to pick a player. And the center and the AR asked what they should have done (besides the obvious ³don¹t lose track of the offending player² and now write a full report). What should they have done?

USSF answer (May 18, 2005):
The referee should have waited a moment or two after the handling, just as he did, to see whether or not the ball entered the goal. If it did, then the goal should have been scored. As it was, the referee made a large number of mistakes:
First, you do not take away a legitimately scored goal, no matter what went before it (provided no infringement had been committed by the scoring team).
Second, if the referee has blown the whistle (by rushing too quickly to judgment, see below), the goal cannot be scored in any event.
Third, the referee AND the assistant referee should have kept track of which player deliberately handled the ball and attempted to stop the obvious goal or goalscoring opportunity. Even thought the goal was scored despite that player’s efforts, the referee should have sent off the player for denying the original goal/goalscoring opportunity and shown the red card before the ensuing kick-off.
Fourth, if the referee was not intelligent enough to wait for a moment or so–which was the case–then the player who deliberately handled the ball should have been sent off for deliberately handling the ball to deny the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity.
Fifth, if the referee and the assistant referee were not quick enough to remember which player had deliberately handled the ball, the referee should have asked the team whose goal or goalscoring opportunity was denied which of their opponents handled the ball. In addition, the referee should also ask the captain of the opposing team which of the players handled the ball. This doesn’t always work, but it is worth a try.

In any event, the referee must submit a full report on the entire situation to the appropriate authorities


RACIST REMARKS ARE PUNISHED AS OFFENSIVE OR INSULTING OR ABUSIVE LANGUAGE AND/OR GESTURES
Your question:
This past weekend I was attending my son’s u-15 soccer club tournament in [our state]. During the game a player that he was covering called him by a racially unacceptable name. I don’t think the referee heard it, at least I hope not, because he did nothing about it. My son brought it to his attention and nothing happened. What is the rule about this kind of behavior? As a parent, is there anything I can do?

USSF answer (May 18, 2005):
It is a sending-off offense to use offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures toward anyone involved in the game. We, too, hope that the referee failed to punish the act only because he did not hear the remark. Unfortunately, if the referee or one of the assistant referees did not hear the remark, the referee cannot punish it. There is nothing you as a parent can do about it at the field other than what you did.


DECISIONS MAY NOT BE REVERSED AFTER THE RESTART
Your question:
The referee fails to see an assistant referee signal for violent conduct on the opponent and the ball enters the goal. play is restarted with a kick-off and then does the referee see the assistant referee signal. Does the referee any times notices enpower after the kick-off punishment (caution & sendoff)?

USSF answer (May 18, 2005):
If the referee has already restarted the game with the kick-off, the goal may not be taken away. Nor may the referee caution or send-off the player for his misconduct. The referee must include full details in the match report.


AGE OF REFEREES FOR YOUTH GAMES
Your question:
Is there a restriction on the age of Gr. 8 referees. For example can a 14-year-old referee be the CR for a U14 travel game. We have having lots of problems with young referees officiating important travel games.

USSF answer (May 17, 2005):
First you need to check with your state association to see if there are any restrictions on the age of a referee working games in his or her own age group. Young referees typically work only games with players at least two years younger than the referee. It is possible that your assignor has no other referees. And, on the other hand, every state can use older referees.


GOALKEEPER MOVEMENT AT PENALTY KICK
Your question:
The State of Iowa conducted a referee clinic in Cedar Rapids this year with some top notch referees. I was really surprised by one comment which I asked them to clarify twice. They said that in FIFA matches, a goalie may step off the goal line by up to 3 meters as the kicker approaches the ball to kick it.

I thought you had to have your feet on the line until the ball was struck ?

USSF answer (May 16, 2005):
The game is played and refereed a bit differently at the highest level. Work at that highest level is what this FIFA AR was referring to. FIFA has instructed referees to call and assistant referees working at the highest level to flag only SIGNIFICANT movement called. At this time FIFA defines “significant movement” as 1-2 meters, not 3 meters.


GOALKEEPER “SECOND TOUCH”
Your question:
A goalkeeper has possession on the ball inside her penalty area. She is holding it in her hands. She punts the ball but kicks it over her head back towards her own goal. If she runs back to the goal, dives, and slaps the ball away with her hand over the goal line to keep it from scoring, what is the call? I understand no misconduct can be called, but there seems to be a disparity between Advice To Referees and Law 12. Law 12 states she may not TOUCH the ball again once it has been released from her possession until another player touches it. Advice in 12.19 states she may not “handle” the ball again and instructs us to be aware of Law 12, Decision 2 which deals with control of the ball. This may indicate that as long as she doesn’t “control” the ball a second time she may “touch” it. Decision 2 goes on to explain that if the keeper parries it, i. e., she chooses to not pick it up, she is in control of the ball but this implies if she slaps it but is unable tp pick it up, no control. So, am I to understand that in the original scenario, as per Advice, the restart would be a corner kick but per Law 12 an IFK for the opponents?

USSF answer (May 16, 2005):
The Law is clear: an indirect free kick must be awarded if the goalkeeper “touches the ball again with his hands after it has been released from his possession and has not touched any other player.” This point of Law is reinforced in Advioce 12.19:
12.19 SECOND TOUCH BY THE GOALKEEPER
A goalkeeper who has taken hand control of the ball and then released it back into play may not handle the ball again until it has been played by an opponent anywhere on the field or by a teammate who is outside of the penalty area.  This includes parrying the ball. Referees should note carefully Decision 2, which defines “control” and distinguishes this from an accidental rebound or a save.

This issue has nothing to do with either “control” or “possession” (as defined in Law 12, IFAB Decision 2):
“The goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball by touching it with any part of his hand or arms. Possession of the ball includes the goalkeeper deliberately parrying the ball, but does not include the circumstances where, in the opinion of the referee, the ball rebounds accidentally from the goalkeeper, for example after he has made a save.”

To sum it up: Use the Decision and Advice 12.19 to determine whether there was initial possession/control. Then look only for any TOUCH afterward.


ADVERTISING ON JERSEYS; EXCESSIVE CELEBRATION
Your question:
1. why commercial advertisings permitted only in front of jersey not on the short and stocking?

2. a player goal scored and goes toward flag post and moved at place . what action does the referee take?

USSF answer (May 16, 2005):
1. The rules permitting commercial advertising on uniforms are made by the competition authority (league, tournament, national association, etc.). Each competition has different rules.

2. We are uncertain just what you mean in this question. If you mean that a player removes a flag post for purposes of celebrating a goal, that would be considered to be excessive celebration and the player would be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card.


OFFSIDE–ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT OR NOT?
Your question:
Yesterday I lined a match in which the following occurred. An attacker was moving the ball downfield. A defender obtained the ball and kicked it up field. The attacker who is now in an offside position and has indicated by his body language that he is no longer involved in the play, turns around and walks upfield toward his end of the field. A team mate of the attacker who is in the offside position kicks the ball and it hits the attacker in the offside position who is not involved in the play. Does the AR signal for offside even though the attacker was not involved in the play? I did, the CR whistled offside and the match went on. Were we correct?

USSF answer (May 2, 2005):
Despite his best efforts to stay out of the fray, the player’s own teammate dragged him back into the play. Offside, because the player became actively involved through contact with the ball.


GOALKEEPER, FIELD PLAYER EXCHANGE POSITIONS
Your question:
Team A decides to change goal keepers as the game is being played, a field player takes the goalies shirt and plays keeper and the goalie plays the field. They are switching as the game is being played. There is no stoppage. The opposing team B comes down the field and takes a shot on goal, the new goalie makes the save with his hands and punts the ball out of bounds.

What is the call?

If team B scores a goal, what is the call?

If team B scores a goal that is deflected off the new goalies hands, what is the call?

USSF answer (May 2, 2005):
Law 4 tells us that any of the other players may change places with the goalkeeper, provided that the referee is informed before the change is made and that the change is made during a stoppage in the match. If they do it without either of those conditions being met, the referee allows play to continue and both players are cautioned for unsporting behavior at the next stoppage in play. The referee should not stop play merely to administer the cautions.

You need to remember that the person with the goalkeeper’s jersey IS the ‘keeper, even if he became the ‘keeper illegally. In other words, there can be no handling infringement by this person. Why? Because the fundamental signal that a person is a goalkeeper is the possession of the distinctive shirt, not how they got it.


EXTEND TIME FOR PENALTY KICK AT END OF PERIOD!!
Your question:
In the dying seconds of the game, there was a lot of action in front of the orange goal. The orange keeper was gathering himself up from a dive to the left. The ball came to a blue striker, about 6 yards in front of the goal, a little to the right. The orange keeper, still not quite on his feet, could perhaps cover half the height of the left third of the goal. The blue striker, with essentially 5/6 of the goal open, drilled a perfect high shot toward the right side of the goal mouth. Easy score… except for the lone orange fullback between the striker and the goal. The defender jumped high and, with both hands, deflected the ball over the crossbar. The referee immediately signalled that time had expired. What should have happened next?

USSF answer (May 2, 2005):
The referee should have awarded a penalty kick and extended the half until the penalty kick has been completed. Before allowing the penalty kick to be taken, the referee should also have sent off lone orange fullback for denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball.


STAY OUT OF SPACE THE PLAYERS NEED!!
Your question:
I was at a youth soccer game this past weekend where one of the teams were issued a corner kick. The player kicked in the ball and it hit the referee on the field – the referee made no attempt to avoid contact with the ball and actually was standing in the direct line between the corner and the goal. The referee picked up the ball and gave possession to the opposing team. I thought that the referee’s job was to avoid contact with the ball when possible. What is the opinion.

USSF answer (May 3, 2005):
This was obviously a case of poor referee positioning. The referee should have moved to allow the ball to pass, if at all possible. The referee is considered to be part of the field and the ball hitting the referee does not affect play in any way, other than redirecting the ball to an unwanted place. In no event may the referee give the opposing team a free kick for this.


CHANGING THE DECISION
Your question:
The situation: A defender on team A, leading 1-0, clears the ball up and out of the stadium, about 35 yards up the touch line with less than 2 minutes left in a U-19 game. As AR I watched the ball’s flight and directed a bench player for team B where it was. I turned back when I heard the Center tell another player on Team B to grab the extra ball behind the goal, and took my position with the next-to-last defender. To my astonishment, the Center gave team B a free kick. As time was running out they took it quickly, and it was headed in for a goal. After the goal team A asked why it wasn’t a throw-in, and the Center admitted he made a mistake. The question: Law 5 says a decision can be changed if play has not been restarted. Was it too late to disallow the goal, and what would the restart be?

USSF answer (May 4, 2005):
The USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” tells us: “5.14 CHANGING A DECISION ON AN INCORRECT RESTART “If the referee awards a restart for the wrong team and realizes his mistake before the restart is taken, then the restart may be corrected even though the decision was announced after the restart took place. This is based on the established principle that the referee¹s initial decision takes precedence over subsequent action. The visual and verbal announcement of the decision after the restart has already occurred is well within the Spirit of the Law, provided the decision was made before the restart took place.”

The referee should have been paying closer attention to what was going on and you, as AR, should have brought the erroneous restart to his attention immediately. Unfortunately, it would appear that too much time elapsed, so the goal must be scored.

The referee must include full details of the error in the match report.


PLAYER UNIFORMS MUST BE COMPLETE AND TIDY FOR KICKS FROM THE MARK
Your question:
Must players participating in kicks to determine outcome wear shinguards. If kicks are not technically part of the match, I cannot see that they are needed but I cannot find anything to either validate this thought or mandate that they are worn. Secondly, if one player asks to remove them … would you consider it “Fair Play” to announce to all that they are not needed. I would hate to delay an already drawn-out affair, but would not want to be questioned about that decision later either way

USSF answer (May 8, 2005):
In the back of the Law book, under PROCEDURES TO DETERMINE THE WINNER OF A MATCH, you will find this entry regarding kicks from the penalty mark:
“Unless otherwise stated, the relevant Laws of the Game and International F.A. Board Decisions apply when kicks from the penalty mark are being taken.”


SIGNALING FOR THE RESTART
Your question:
According to 13.5 “Enforcing the Required Distance” on a direct kick, the referee “must quickly and emphatically indicate to the attackers that they may not now restart play until given a clear signal to do so.” Here then, is my question: If the referee says to the attacker “go ahead” and doesn’t blow a whistle, is that considered a “clear signal”? And if so, is any consequent goal valid since the defending team was waiting for a whistle?

USSF answer (May 8, 2005):
Advice 13.5 refers to what is called the “ceremonial free kick,” which is what must be conducted when the referee has already held up the kick because it is impossible for the kicking team–the team against whom the foul was committed–to take a free kick. The Law does not require that the referee blow a whistle. It requires only a signal, which might be a nod, a wave, a brief word, or a whistle. And the Law makes no requirement at all for notifying the defending team that a kick is about to be taken. Why should the referee give an advantage to the team that committed the foul?


BE POLITE AND PROFESSIONAL IN DEALING WITH ALL PARTICIPANTS!
Your question:
Is it permissible, after a game, for a coach to approach a referee for an explanation of a call during the game?

USSF answer (May 8, 2005):
It is certainly permissible, but the referee is not required to give the coach any explanation. A perceived “wrong” answer can only exacerbate some situations.

Some referees, while normally very nice people–just like most coaches–tend to get a little edgy when questioned about calls by someone not a referee or an assessor. Surely coaches would not appreciate it if the referee were to come up after the game and ask why the coach had instructed the players to do something that allowed the opponents to score the winning goal.


“MANDATORY” CAUTIONS
Your question:
I have been a Grade 8 Referee for 11 years and I work mostly youth games. Each year I print out the current text of the 7 Cautionable and 7 Sending Off offenses. I am curious as to the logic of making few cautionable offenses mandatory and most discretionary. Can you explain why ŒUnsporting Behavior/j.Unfairly distracts or impedes and opponent performing a throw-in¹ is a mandatory caution yet similar offenses such as ŒUnsporting Behavior/h. Interferes with or prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from the hands into play¹, Delays Restart of Play/all items, and Failure to Respect Distance/all items only warrant a discretionary caution? Isn¹t the issue with all of these offenses the delay of the game? The latter two, Delay Restart and Failure to Respect Distance are far more common and disruptive to the game in my experience. Just last week I centered a Cup game and it was obvious that one team was coached to send three players to stand less than one foot in front of the ball after their opponent had been awarded a free kick. I see this all too often and it is an obvious delaying tactic. Why isn¹t this offense dealt with more seriously, at least on par with getting in the way of a throw-in attempt? Delaying the restart of a free kick in the offensive zone is surely more serious than impeding a throw-in. Free kicks are often goal scoring opportunities whereas throw-ins are usually not. And while correcting equipment is one of my pet peeves, how does re-entry without permission warrant harsher treatment than the delaying tactics previously mentioned?

USSF answer (May 8, 2005):
The “mandatory” cautions are those that are specifically described and required by an individual Law. There are 3 in Law 3, 1 in Law 4, 4 in Law 12, and 1 in Law 15. All other cautions are discretionary.


TRICKERY?
Your question:
What is trickery? Under Restrictions on the goalkeeper page 53 Rule 12-7 Note: Players may not use trickery to circumvent Article 3 and 4. Examples: Players may not flick the ball with their feet to their own head, chest, and knee and then pass it to their own goalkeeper who touches it with the hand. This also applies to flicking the ball to a teammate who then plays the ball back to the keeper. Remember, this same principle is to be used on throw-ins.

The reason for this email is that a COACH CLAIMS THAT THEY HAVE BEEN USING THIS PRACTICE all season, OF THROWING the ball to a teammate, who then DELIBERATELY plays the ball back to the keeper. This is NOT a violation until the keeper uses his or her hands. This act was viewed as a violation and the opposing team was awarded an INDIRECT KICK.

IS THIS STATEMENT ENTIRELY TRUE?? Can an player not pass the ball to a team mate to head/chest etc to the GK?

USSF answer (May 12, 2005):
Sorry, we do not deal with high school rules, which are often not applicable to the world game of soccer.

When considering the possibility of trickery, the referee must decide if the action was natural (a normal sort of play, the sort of thing you would see in any sequence of play) or contrived (an artificial, unnatural play, which, in the referee’s opinion, is intended solely for the purpose of circumventing the Law and preventing the opponents from challenging for the ball).

In a match played under the Laws of the Game, the throw you describe is entirely legal but the subsequent play by the teammate (all other things equal) is not. However, this is not trickery, just a simple violation of Law 12, which does not arise until and unless the ‘keeper actually touches the ball with his hands. But definitely not trickery.


NO INTERFERENCE ALLOWED WITH ‘KEEPER’S PUNT
Your question:
Some refs are questioning whether or not it is legal for a player to play the ball after the goal keeper has punted the ball and the ball is only inches from leaving his foot. They are saying this is fair since the law says “it is an offense for a player to prevent a goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands”. In this case the ball has left his foot but only by inches. I say the player is guilty of unsporting behavior because he is interfering with putting the ball back into play. What do you say? Where is this written?

USSF answer (May 12, 2005):
Caution for unsporting behavior. The intent of the Law is to give the goalkeeper room to put the ball into play for everyone. There can be no interference during the entire act of distribution.


NO-SHOW ASSISTANT REFEREE
Your question:
In a recent competitive U-17 match, the assigned ARs did not arrive by game time. By mutual consent, play began with parent volunteers running the sides. Midway through the first half, one assigned AR arrived and replaced the parent volunteer as on Team A¹s attacking side. At the half, the Referee and AR discussed concerns about Team A¹s attacking players and Team B¹s defenders ³getting chippy² with each other. Believing that the remaining parent volunteer could not handle the situation (in fact, it would seem the parent volunteer had no authority to handle the situation), the Referee switched the AR to the other side of the field. As a result, for most of the game, Team A was subject to the AR¹s authority to call offside violations, while offside violations by Team B could only be called by the Referee from a position behind the play. In that second half, two breakaway attacks by Team A were stopped by the AR¹s offside calls. Team B scored one goal on a breakaway by a player who appeared to be in an offside position when the ball was played to him. The question is whether the AR switch was permissible. Should not the Referee have monitored the player situation himself from his central field position?

USSF answer (May 12, 2005):
The referee is allowed to place the assistant referee where that official is necessary for match control. This is particularly true when one of the ARs has not appeared. In such cases the AR runs one half of the field, using the flag, while the referee covers the other side of the field as well as the center of the field. Only the referee is allowed to use a whistle.


REFEREE, REMEMBER WHOSE GAME IT IS
Your question:
Had an atypical situation in last weekend’s U-Girls 16 recreational game. Four players were absent, including three of our four referees. Two of the four are the sole keepers on their school teams, and parents have told me that they are playing rec soccer to have field time. So, when we were down 5-0 at the half and no one else was willing to go in goal for the second half  (one girl has played in the past, but three weeks ago gave up 3 goals in the first half visiting this same field–she refused to do it again) I put the keeper shirt (yellow with striped black “bat wing” design) on one of the midfielders and put an extra sweeper in the defense. It actually worked-we played much better and it was more than 20 minutes before they scored their 6th.

After the goal, I pulled out that midfielder and put in a forward who was too large for the keeper’s jersey. She wore our gold t-shirt alternate jersey over her royal blue jersey (opponents in black and white). This was the situation for several minutes, during which the opposing coach brought me a green pinny from his bag and asked me to put in on his keeper.  I told him no thanks-I don’t consider them safe in game play.

Three minutes later an opponent threw an elbow into the gut of the girl who didn’t want to go in goal and she went down. Center allowed play to continue (the girl screened the foul-he never saw it) until he saw she wasn’t getting up and stopped play. As he signaled me to come out, the opposing coach walked up to the AR with the pinny, spoke to him, and handed him the pinny. The AR and I were walking onto the field about 10 yds apart and I said to him “She’s not going to wear that-I don’t consider it safe.”

My question for Ask a Referee is: Would “She’ll wear it if we tell her to,” spoken with a challenging tone, be considered an appropriate use of the Assistant Referee’s authority?

After I checked on my player, the Center and AR told me my player was going to put on the pinny. I reiterated that she was not going to wear it because it wasn’t safe. The center said that his AR needed to be able to distinguish between himself and my player so that he could do his job. Before I could offer to find something else, my first half keeper walked up and said she’d go back in goal. We were given enough time for her to get her gear, and the situation resolved itself.

Since we started the game with a gold and black keeper shirt, I would have expected the crew to wear red. But since they didn’t certainly the problem had to be resolved, no argument there. But I was offended by his tone and his position that a officiating crew felt it could require a player to put on an additional piece of equipment provided by an opposing coach without even speaking to me first as the coach of that player.

Did they overstep their authority. Is it not limited to “She can’t remain on the field in that shirt” and leave it to me to pull her off and come up with an alternative?

USSF answer (May 12, 2005):
No official, whether referee, assistant referee, or fourth official, should ever speak to anyone in a “challenging” tone. Referees should be firm and professional, but not aggressive.

As to the goalkeeper jersey, no official has the authority to declare that a player must wear any particular item of equipment. The referee’s authority extends only to enforcing the requirements of Law 3 and 4 as regards the keeper’s jersey. If, despite having accepted the gold color earlier in the match, the referee decides that the gold color cannot be worn by the keeper, the most that can be done is to require a change in color but not to force the wearing of a specific jersey. If the referees chose to wear gold despite the original partial conflict with the goalkeeper, they should not quibble over the tee shirt. Nor should referees accept information of any sort on the other team’s colors from the opposing team’s coach.

Referees need to remember that they are there for the players and the good of the game, not vice versa.


CORRECT RESTART?
Your question:
My question is from the recent BOLTON WANDERERS v CHELSEA match. The Referee correctly cautioned a Chelsea defender (Claude Makelele ) for “unsporting behaviour” because he impeded a throw-in. The Referee awarded an indirect kick.

Shouldn’t the throw be retaken? Doesn’t the misconduct occur PRIOR to the ball going into play? After the ball is in play, isn’t the defender allowed to attempt to play the ball?

FIFA’ 2004 Q&A page 44:
5. An opponent stands in front of a player at a throw-in to impede him. What action does the referee take?
He allows the throw-in to be taken if the opponent remains stationary and inside the field of play. If he moves or gesticulates to distract the thrower, he is cautioned for unsporting behaviour.

USSF answer (May 14, 2005):
As the IFAB Q&A suggests, the throw-in should be retaken if there has been interference. Something else may have occurred that we are unaware of to cause the referee to restart with an indirect free kick following the caution.


STEPPING ON PEOPLE’S TOES
Your question:
We were in a game last Saturday where the girls on my team were complaining that the girls on the other team were going out of their way to step on their toes. They said that they were looking down at our girls feet to make sure that they landed on top of their feet. One of our girls had to come out because her feet were so bruised from this. Whether or not this is true. . .Is this illegal? If so what should a referee call?

USSF answer (April 28, 2005):
No, this is not legal. The referee should call kicking and award a direct free kick (or penalty kick, if appropriate).


IMPEDING THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
High school soccer match (Varsity girls), Corner kick situation. Team B taking corner kick and places a player right next to the keeper. Team A Keeper, after the ball has been struck, trying to get to the ball or position herself in a better position, is screened (not touched) by the Team B player. During this time the Keeper hooks her arm around the player to “get her out of the way” and proceeds to get to the ball. Can you clarify the ruling on this particular situation. From what I was told the keeper cannot be touched inside the 6 yard box, But in this situation the keeper did the touching.

And if Team B player is called for obstruction what is the ruling?

USSF answer (April 28, 2005):
We are not authorized to speak on the rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations, but we can say with some confidence that this answer pertains under the Laws of the Game: If, prior to a corner kick, a player deliberately positions herself so as to obstruct the view and limit the ability of the goalkeeper to play the ball–and does not make any attempt to play the ball herself–then she is guilty of impeding the progress of the goalkeeper. As this offense occurred before the pushing by the goalkeeper, the team of the player who impeded the goalkeeper is punished by the award of an indirect free kick to the goalkeeper’s team.


ENTERING THE PENALTY AREA EARLY
Your question:
I have been watching clips of MLS games online. Several of them have featured penalty kicks. What I noticed is before the kick is taken, a player or players run within the penalty area. I have taken note that none of the kicks have been ordered retaken, even when it has been a player of the same team taking the kick. Why is it that the kicks are not being retaken? One example has a player of the same team standing almost next to the kicker right after the kick was taken. It is my understanding of the Laws of the Game that when an offensive player incroaches into the penalty area before the kick is taken, the kick must be retaken if it enters the goal.

USSF answer (April 28, 2005):
If a player of the opposing team enters early and the goal is scored, there is no need to retake the penalty kick. If, in this case, the goal is not scored, play continues. If a member of the kicking team enters early and a goal is scored, the kick must be retaken. If the goal is not scored, play continues.

The only other conceivable reason for this (aside from possible referee error) is that the referee has deemed the infringement trifling or doubtful.


NO TWO-REFEREE GAMES, PLEASE!
Your question:
Recently I reffed a U10 match with another referee in a 2 man system. During a throw in for the red team, the black team(thinking it was their throw in) decided to sub 3 players without being called onto the field. The red team threw the ball in, dribbled down and scored as the black team was illegally subsituting their 3 defenders. After I signaled the goal, the other referee said that the black team had illegally substituted and that the ball must be called back to the touchline for a re-throw. Of course the red team coach was livid for being denied a goal. What should have been the proper call?

USSF answer (April 27, 2005):
This case clearly demonstrates one of the problems with the dual system of control: things happen that go unobserved and uncorrected for too long. Of course, it would be easier if the referees communicated a bit better with one another. It also illustrates the problems with playing under rules of competition that run counter to Law 3 and Law 5. It’s not simply an issue of efficiency or effectiveness: Law 5 clearly prohibits the use of the dual system (two referees) and referees need to understand the consequences of participating in it (lack of insurance coverage, inability to provide support if problems develop, can’t count games for upgrade requirements, eventual hair loss, etc.).

After cautioning the three black team players for entering the field without permission and the three other black team players for leaving the field without permission, the referee will award the goal and restart with a place kick, aka kick-off, for the black team.


“TOUCHED” EQUALS “PLAYED BY” EQUALS “MADE CONTACT WITH”
Your question:
A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of The Referee, involved in active play by:
* interfering with play; or
* interfering with an opponent; or
* gaining an advantage by being in that position.

My question is what is the definition of “touches” in this context? It’s always been my impression that a player should be playing the ball intentionally. But this implies that if one offensive player plays the ball forward and it deflects off of another offensive player, the last “touch” is what determines when the ball was played toward determining if someone is to be penalized for being offside.

The scenario that brings this up is as follows:
Offensive player A plays the ball toward the goal in an attempt to lead one of her strikers, Player B. At the time A plays the ball, player B is onside. The ball played by player A goes into a mix of players while Player B is outside that group. The ball hits someone in the group but the AR is unable to determine whether it “touches” an offensive player or defensive player. But because of the deflection, when player B receives the ball, she is two yards past the group of players all alone collecting the ball and in on the goalie solo where she scores. Since the AR could not determine whether it had touched an offensive or defensive player, the AR allows the play to be onside. Before awarding the goal, in consultation with the Center, the Center was also unable to determine who touched the ball in the “mixer”. Therefore the goal was awarded.

A. Was this the proper procedure? (I hope so as I was the AR).
B. If it was determined that the ball deflected off of an offensive player within the mix and was noted by either the AR or the Center, should player B be penalized for offside since the law says “at the moment the ball was touched” which in the case would imply that B should be penalized for being offside.
C. If it was touched by a defender, should player B be penalized? (I would think this is clearly NO but just to be sure.

USSF answer (April 26, 2005):
Under the Laws of the Game, “touched” equals “played by” equals “made contact with.”

To your questions:
A. If the assistant referee cannot be absolutely clear that the player (in this case, B) was in an offside position and actively involved in play at the moment the ball was played by a TEAMMATE, then there is no offside.
B. Yes, offside.
C. No, not offside. The ball must have been played or touched by or have made contact with a teammate.


IF YOU COACH, COACH, BUT DON’T TELL THE REFEREES HOW TO DO THEIR JOB!
Your question:
I have a question for you that has happened to me for a couple of games now. A coach/referee grade 8 has at half time has gone over to assistant referee’s refing a game with me speaking to them and instructing them in how to make calls and when to. What can or should I do when this happens? I know the man is a good referee but I find this set of actions very unprofessional.

USSF answer (April 26, 2005):
This is gamesmanship of the worst sort. Firmly and politely remind such coaches that today they are coaches, not referees, and that their behavior is irresponsible. If such behavior continues, they will be expelled.


GOALKEEPER MOVES FORWARD EARLY ON PENALTY KICK
Your question:
As AR in a state cup match earlier today, I had the dubious pleasure of calling encroachment on the goalkeeper when she made a save. Because she made the save and immediately distributed the ball, I raised my flag and stood at my position until the center saw me and blew the whistle. Later, after the match, a criticism offered by a parent spectator who also refs was that I should have been more subtle with my signal. I had raised the flag because it was part of the pregame, and if I had been “subtle” the center may have missed my statuesque pose and proceded with the game. What were the correct mechanics?

USSF answer (April 21, 2005):
We are not precisely certain what you mean by “encroachment” by the goalkeeper. The only reasonable assumption to make is that you mean that the goalkeeper moved forward from the goal line before a penalty kick was in play. If that is so, then here is the answer.

There are no “correct” mechanics for what you did. You followed the instructions given by the referee during the pregame conference, which is precisely what assistant referees are told to do in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees”: “Waits for the referee to begin supervising the restart and then moves quickly to the intersection of the goal line and the penalty area line to prepare for the duties assigned by the referee in the pregame conference.”


NO FOOTBALL CLEATS!
Your question:
Is it illegal to play soccer in football cleats and if so what is the documented danger of such a practice?

USSF answer (April 21, 2005):
It is illegal to play soccer in football cleats of the traditional sort with toe cleats, even if the toe cleats are cut off. Nor is it legal to play in baseball cleats. There is no documentation on this, other than the requirement that players’ equipment must be safe for them and all participants. Traditional football cleats are unsafe and not permitted in soccer games.


SHOWING CARDS AFTER A MATCH HAS BEEN COMPLETED
Your question:
May a referee show cards to players after the game is over?

USSF answer (April 20, 2005):
Yes, the referee may display the cards after the game is over but the referee is still in the immediate vicinity of the field. However, that is not a matter of any moment for this particular question. Even if no cards are to be shown after the game, the referee must still submit a full report of such events to the proper authorities. That is all a disciplinary panel needs to make a decision.

What counts in punishment for players is what the referee says in the report, not whether the referee showed a card.


GOALKEEPER AND FIELD PLAYER EXCHANGE POSITIONS
Your question:
I witnessed a game this week where one team, due to school vacations, only had 11 players, two of whom were normally goalies. Thus this team was forced to play one on the field. Neither one, however, was in great shape to play a full game on a warm day, so every 10-15 minutes their coach switched the two of them. Since both were on the field (and had to be, since no subs were available), this obviously delayed play for a few moments while the goalie jersey was exchanged. The referee allowed the first switch but refused to allow the next one. He told the team that they would have to play with 10 on the field while the goalie-to-be went to the sideline and put on another goalie jersey. Then they could sub and continue to play with 10 until the goalie who left the field had her jersey/gloves off and was ready to sub in as a field player.

My questions. How often can a team switch goalies in a situation like this, where it does not appear to be just a time-wasting maneuver? Even if some time is lost, can’t that just be added in as stoppage time? (Note: this was not in a tournament or any situation where adding time is not allowed.)

USSF answer (April 20, 2005):
The team may make the switch as often as it wishes, following the guidelines outlined by the referee in your situation. Any time lost is simply added to the time in the period of play.


PLEASE DON’T INVENT FOULS
Your question:
The opposing team had the ball right in front of our goal and it seemed like every player on the field was within the penalty box, kicking the ball every which way. (This was a U-10 match before you wonder what the heck they thought they were doing – lol!)

One of the opposing players kicked the ball toward the goal, our goalie dove on it. As he dove, another one of their players jumped between him and the ball so that when he hit the ground, cradling the ball, the opposing player’s leg was trapped between him and the ball.

The referee called a foul on the goalie for “tackling”. The coach felt if anything should have been called, it should have been on the opposing player for “interference with the goalie”.

Your take??

USSF answer (April 20, 2005):
Our call? No foul either way. Both seem to have been playing the ball. As long as the goalkeeper retained control, the referee should have let it go.


REPORTING PLAYER INJURY IS IMPORTANT!
Your question:
At a recent tournament in Missouri, a player in a U15 final was struck in the face by a hard shot. The referee stopped play to evaluate the injury. The match was over within five minutes after play was restarted.

After the game, one of the coaches of that team asked the referee to make a note of the injury on the game card and/or to complete a game report in order to record the event for insurance purposes. The referee refused.

The player had surgery for a torn retina and will miss 2 weeks of school and 6 weeks of sports.

Is there an official ussf policy regarding any suggestion/requirement for referee responsibilities in situations like this?

USSF answer (April 20, 2005):
The referee must note any serious injuries on the match report, no matter what the level of play.


STOPPING PLAY TO CAUTION A PLAYER
Your question:
[A referee from another country asks] During the game, there is a penalty. The player of team ‘A’ going to shoot, he ran ans shoot and….
a) The player of team ‘B’ take his shoes and throw it to ball and crash with ball.
b) The player of team ‘A’ take his shoes and throw it to ball and crash with ball.
c)The player of team ‘A’ and team ‘b’ take his shoes and throw it to ball and crash with ball

opinion?

USSF answer (April 20, 2005):
Can it be true that a player of the team taking the penalty kick would sabotage his own team’s effort to score a goal?

Your question suggests that the ball was already kicked by the identified kicker (and thus in play). If that is true, then these are the correct answers:
a) If the goal is scored, the player from team B is cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior. The correct restart is a kick-off. If the goal is not scored, the player is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. The correct restart is a retake of the penalty kick.
b) If the goal is scored, the player from team A is cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior. The correct restart is a retake of the penalty kick. If the goal is not scored, the player of team A is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. If the ball left the field, then the correct restart is a corner kick or a goal kick. If the ball remained in play, the referee stops play and, after cautioning the player of team A, restarts with a direct free kick for team B.
c) Because the kick was not properly completed, it must be retaken. But first the referee must caution both players for unsporting behavior and show the yellow card.


STOPPING PLAY TO CAUTION A PLAYER
Your question:
During a match, near midfield there is a play on the ball by White 9 and Blue 8. During the challenge white 9 simulates a dive in attempt to draw a foul. Blue 8 wins the ball and proceeds to goal. The referee applies the advantage clause. Blue 8 shoots on goal and the goalie collects the ball. The referee now stops play and proceeds to move back up field to issue a caution to white 9 for diving. While he is issuing the caution, the keeper, who is still holding the ball, kicks out at blue 8 (this is a deliberate kick but not a malicious kick). This is noticed by the AR who raises his flag. There is a conference between referee and AR.  The referee then . . .

What should the restart be? Where should the restart be? Should there be a sanction for the goalkeeper, if so what is it?

USSF answer (April 14, 2005):
The restart should be an indirect free kick from the place where the original infringement occurred. Why on earth would the referee have stopped the game to run back up field to punish non-dangerous misconduct? It would have been better to wait until the ball went out of play (for whatever reason) and then punish the misconduct.

The goalkeeper must be sent off for violent conduct and shown the red card. This could have been prevented by not stopping play to run back up the field. The intelligent referee will keep play moving along whenever possible. A busy player doesn’t have as much time to get into trouble as an idle player.


“KICKING” IN KICK RESTARTS
Your question:
Since the change to Law 13, “the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves”, an occasional team has resorted to trickery to circumvent the following: ” … the kicker does not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player”. It happens more often on corner kicks when the defending team is usually more than ten yards from the ball.

The first player sets the ball for a corner kick, taps it lightly so that it moves indiscernibly to opponents. The player then pretends to move away, leaving the ball for another teammate to take the kick. The second teammate approaches the ball and then starts to dribble it. All of this is legal, however it appears like trickery to circumvent the rules.

More often than not this causes one of the officials to think there has been an infraction. The ensuing interaction between official(s) and the team often results in more serious problems. Another problem occurs when the defending team is aware of this and treats every situation like this, then there can be failure to be ten yards away when an attacking team’s second player thinks he really is the first player and was not trying to play this trick.

What opinion does USSF or FIFA have on this?

USSF answer (April 13, 2005):
The Law should be enforced as written–if, in the opinion of the referee, the player actually “kicked” the ball within the meaning of the Law, then the kick should be allowed. If not, then punish the kicking team by making them retake the kick. Under no circumstances should the referee caution any kicking team member for this, as has happened elsewhere than in your state.

As to kicking the ball within the meaning of the Law, your best reference is the Addendum to the Memorandum 1997 on the changes in the Laws:
QUOTE
General Note Regarding Restarts
“Memorandum 1997” discussed amendments to the Laws of the Game affecting all free kick, corner kick, penalty kick, and kick-off restarts. These amendments centered on the elimination of the ball moving the “distance of its circumference” before being considered in play. In all such cases, the ball is now in play when it is “kicked and moves” (free kicks and corner kicks) or when it is “kicked and moves forward” (kick-offs and penalty kicks). IFAB has emphasized that only minimal movement is needed to meet this requirement.
USSF Advice to Referees: further clarification from IFAB suggests that, particularly in the case of free kicks and corner kicks, such minimal movement might include merely touching the ball with the foot. Referees are reminded that they must observe carefully the placing of the ball and, when it is properly located, any subsequent touch of the ball with the foot is sufficient to put the ball into play. Referees must distinguish between such touching of the ball to direct it to the proper location for the restart and kicking the ball to perform the restart itself. In situations where the ball must move forward before it is in play (kick-offs and penalty kicks), there should be less difficulty in applying the new language since such kicks have a specific location which is easily identified.
END OF QUOTE

This “touch” of the ball must be in a kicking movement, not simply a tap on the top of the ball.


TIME WASTING?
Your question:
During a top-level men’s amateur game, Team A is leading 5:3 with about 15 minutes from time. With the ball on AR2’s side of the field, and the ball being on the touch-line (half the ball was in-play and half was out-of-bounds), Team A’s defender casually kicks the ball 30 yards out of bounds. The nearest Team B attacker 10 yards away and nobody pressuring him to play the ball.

I felt Team A’s defender was trying to waste time in order to preserve his team’s 2-goal lead and cautioned him for Delaying a Restart since it obviously took a few minutes to re-start play. This player also had an earlier caution for dissent and this was his second booking. Was I correct in cautioning for Delaying a Restart or, if a caution was to be given, should I have booked him for Unsporting Behavior for an act which shows lack of respect of the game (Citation: 7+7 Cautionable and Sending-Off Offenses: Professional Division Points System)

USSF answer (April 13, 2005):
No, you were not correct to caution him at all. He could not be cautioned for delaying the restart, as he was the one who caused the restart, not prevented its being taken. And his action was not disrespectful of the game, it is a traditional part of the game.

What you should have done was to speak loudly enough to him so that others on his team could hear you say, “I am adding time for that.” And you could, of course, have reminded him that he was sitting on a previous caution. Somehow that helps keep players straight. Actually giving a second caution for this offense could be dangerous to your health, not to mention your control of the match.


PUSHY ARs
Your question:
My question concerns the proper procedure for the center ref to take if he/she feels that one of the ARs is calling too many offsides, that is, they are seeing offside infractions that the center does not feel are taking place, possibly from being overzealous to the point of trying to detect offside when the determining factor is a matter of inches and not feet. This question arose from a U14 girls match wherein play was dominant in one half of the field throughout the whole game. In the first half 2-3 offside calls were made against the red team by AR-2. Then within about 10-15 minutes into the second half, AR-1, who now had most of the play in their portion of the field, had signalled for offside approximately 5 times, with perhaps two or three of those calls being seen and seeming valid to the center ref. Some of these calls took the center ref completely by surprise, as he let play continue, unaware of the offside call further back toward the midfield, until other players spoke up about it. The center ref began to feel that the AR was sort of “splitting hairs” that in soccer terms might be considered trifling. The center ref, in themselves not seeing some of these offside infractions, began to feel that the flow of the game was being squelched by the AR’s continual offside calls every few minutes. I would appreciate learning what would be considered the proper procedure for both the center ref and also for the AR in this situation.

Eventually the center ref asked the AR to hold back a little bit, and subsequently waved off two or three later offside calls, when it appeared that the AR had not changed their hairline standard of determining offside. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this question.

USSF answer (April 12, 2005):
Without going into a full review of what does or does not constitute offside and the job of the assistant referee, both of which are fully covered in the USSF publications “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” and “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees,” we might comment that this entire subject is best covered in the pregame conference among the officials. In the pregame conference, the referee can outline what he or she wants the ARs to signal and NOT to signal, keeping in mind the information in the Advice and Guide. In turn, the ARs can ask the referee for clarification on matters related to good game management. In no case should the AR insist on a decision by the referee or go against the instructions of the referee. Such an AR might well be relieved of his or her duties and reported to the appropriate authorities, as suggested in Law 6.


THREE QUESTIONS
Your question:
Situation 1: A parent on the sideline sounds a very loud foghorn after each time her son’s team scores a goal. After the fourth goal, a player on the opposing team immediately shouts an obscenity in anger/frustration at the parent before the kick-off. The Referee immediately runs over to the player and issues a yellow card for unsporting behavior. Was this the correct action as the parent was not a player or substitute? Also as a referee, do we have the right to send off a parent if we feel her language/action is disruptive to the game, but it is not dissenting or abusive?

Situation 2: A player on the white team is dribbling up the touch line in front of his bench. A player from the blue team cleanly tackles the ball and takes out the white player while kicking the ball out of bounds. A substitute out of revenge picks up the ball and violently throws it at the blue player. The obvious call would be to send off the substitute, but would white have to play short a man since it was not a player on the field?

Situation 3: This is a question about referee procedure. I recently worked a game as an AR. I saw a player on the Red team legally shielding the ball with her body. A player from the Green team came up from behind to play the ball. The red team player then threw her elbow backwards in an obvious attempt to strike the green player. I waved my flag, but the referee’s back was to me. I continued to wave until the ball went out of bounds and play was restarted at which point I understood it was too late to make a call. So, 1) was it right that the center referee did not speak to me when the play was stopped to see why I waved my flag. 2)How is an AR supposed to get the referee’s attention if the referee’s back is to the AR, should I have yelled, or run onto the field before the restart of play? 3)Should I have just waved my flag once then put it down when I didn’t get the referee’s attention? I understand it is the AR’s job to “assist” not “insist,” but I thought the play deserved a card.

USSF answer (April 12, 2005):
1. The correct punishment for the use of obscenity by a player is immediate dismissal and red card for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures. However, some proactive work by the referee could have prevented the act in question.

The referee has no actual authority over the spectators at a game unless they invade the pitch or interfere with the game in any way. If those spectators are disrupting the game and bringing it into disrepute through the use of tactics that are counter to the spirit of the game, such as actions clearly intended to taunt the opposition, the referee may inform that team’s coach that the game will be suspended until the nuisance is removed and terminated if it is not removed. Full details will be included in the referee’s match report.

2. The white team’s substitute is sent off for violent conduct and shown the red card. The white team does not have to play short, as the substitute was not part of the team on the field.

3. If the red team’s player attempted to strike the green player that is serious foul play, for which the red team’s player must be sent off and shown the red card. If it is clear that the referee would have punished the act if he or she had been able to see it, the assistant referee should raise the flag and then wave it when the referee is looking toward him or her and, if the referee does not notice the flag within a reasonable amount of time, attempt in other ways to attract the referee’s attention. The referee should cover this situation during the pregame conference with the assistant referees. While the AR might lower the flag in those instances where too much play has gone on after the flag was raised, this is not the case when serious misconduct is involved. While this particular case may have been only “attempted violence,” it is still serious enough to bring to the referee’s attention at the next stoppage.

What is likely more important is what the referee and the other AR were doing all this time. The TEAM of officials should be in CONSTANT COMMUNICATION with one another during the match. The referee should look at ARs for information, ARs should look at one another and at the referee.


GRADE 12 = ASSISTANT REFEREE ONLY
Your question:
At what level of play or age group can a Grade 12 referee ref up to.

USSF answer (April 11, 2005):
A Grade 12 is an Assistant Referee and can work only as an AR on any level game their experience prepares them for. Please note that a Grade 12 CANNOT be a REFEREE on any game–only an AR on those games they are competent to be an AR on.


WHEELCHAIR-BOUND PLAYER
Your question:
We have a seven-year-old girl who is wheelchair bound, no use of the legs and partial use of one arm and full use of the other arm. She wants to play in the match.

We believe the wheelchair presents a significant hazard to all players and the referee. The girl cannot kick the ball, she can only hit it with the chair.

This wheelchair is capable of turning on a dime and moving in a straight line faster than any player that age can run. So far there have been no injuries but there have been some near misses.

USSF answer (April 11, 2005):
Safety of the players should always be the primary concern of referees, coaches, and administrators. The Federation firmly believes that all who wish to play should be given the opportunity, as long as there is no danger to themselves or to others. However, a wheelchair on the field is inherently dangerous to both the user and to other players. In addition, a wheelchair-bound player who cannot use her legs and must rely completely on mechanical means to play the ball cannot fulfill the requirements of the Laws of the Game.

This answer applies to matches which involve players who are not comparably handicapped. In short, the primary danger this player presents is to other players not similarly handicapped. A match in which all players were in wheelchairs might provide a reasonably acceptable level of safety.

NOTE: This answer was also sent to the asker’s State Referee Administrator for further distribution.


“REDUCE TO EQUATE”
Your question:
I hope you can understand me, i dont speak english very good. 🙁

Question: when the match was finished,
Team A->8 players;
team B ->7 players.
They have to shoot 5 penalties in order to know what team win.

The referee say to Team A that they can be 7 players. Now, team A and team B have the same players. The captain of Team B, tells us that 3 players cannot shoot because they are injured.

Team A have to quit 3 players too?

USSF answer (April 10, 2005):
The principle you are asking about is called in English ‘reduce to equate’. Introduced into The Laws of the Game in 2001, the principle ensures that teams begin the kicks with the same number of players.

You asked whether team A must reduce its numbers by 3, so that both teams would then begin the kicks with only 4 players. That is certainly legal, as the requirement for a minimum of 7 players does not apply to kicks from the penalty mark, because kicks from the penalty mark are not part of the game itself.

If, in the opinion of the referee, the team B players were truly injured before the game ended and they cannot participate in kicks from the penalty mark, then the referee will ask team A to reduce to 4 players. However, if the referee believes that the players on team B were not truly injured and that this is an attempt by team B to remove those players who are not good at penalty kicks, then the referee will instruct team B to continue with the seven players. (And, if the referee believes the ‘injury’ is feigned, misconduct would be considered. This would also require a report to the competition authority–i. e., league.) Once the kicks begin, players on either team who must leave because of injury will not cause a reduction in the other team.


FOUL AT TAKING OF PENALTY KICK
Your question:
Both teams are properly set for a penalty kick in regular time. (Not during time extended at the end of a half to complete the kick, and not during kicks from the mark tiebreaker.)  The referee gives the signal to proceed, and the kick is taken.  While the kick is moving forward, a defender violently strikes an attacker.  What should be done?  Obviously the defender should be sent off.

There has been debate over whether the PK must be retaken, under the provision that it was “not complete”.  Some have understood that “completeness” of a PK refers to extraordinary happenings which occur while the ball is still in the initial forward movement – outside interference or the ball bursting.  Others say it applies to any aspect of play immediately after the kick is taken – including Law 12 violations – and that Law 14 says the kick must be retaken.

Can the wise referee allow play to continue for a short moment to see the outcome of the kick, and apply advantage and allow the goal if the ball scores? Or must the kick be retaken?

USSF answer (April 10, 2005):
Having been awarded a penalty kick, the team MUST be allowed a fair chance of the kick being completed–whether it results in a goal or not. Anything that interferes with completion of the penalty kick (fan running onto the field, dog playing with the ball, the ball bursting on its way in, a goalkeeper committing misconduct by throwing a shoe/rock/jersey/etc. at the ball and deflecting it, or a member of the defending team violently striking a member of the kicking team) means that the penalty kick was not “completed.” Therefore, the penalty kick must be retaken after the referee sends off the defender who committed violent conduct.

In this situation, the intelligent referee will hesitate a moment before stopping play to see if the goal is scored. This ensures that the “injured” team is not unjustly deprived of the opportunity to score a goal. After all, even second bites at the cherry are not always successful.


GOALKEEPER PRIVILEGES
Your question:
U-19 Boys competitive match: During dynamic play, a ball is floated into the penalty area from the right wing. Team A striker establishes his position at the penalty spot as this is where he has determined the ball will land. From his established position, he jumps straight up in an attempt to head the ball goal ward. At the same time, Team B goalkeeper, tracking the flight of the cross, comes off his line aggressively (i.e.. like a bat out of hell) with the intent of either catching or punching clear the cross. Goalkeeper, while moving forward at speed, jumps and manages to punch the ball clear a fraction of a second before his momentum virtually obliterates Team A striker, who had previously established his position and had jumped straight up in his attempt to head the ball. Has the goalkeeper infringed the Law or is this similar to a field player making contact with the ball first during a slide tackle and his momentum then upends the opponent? Or would this be a case, as the Additional Instructions tell us, “…the fact that contact with the ball was made first does not automatically mean that the tackle is fair…” and that one of the prohibited acts was committed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force? I’m struggling with this because this is not a “tackle”.

The center referee in this case waved play on (no foul was called), only to stop shortly thereafter to allow the striker to receive treatment.

I have seen similar scenarios played out many times, and the only time the center (me) called a foul and awarded a penalty kick, he was met with a firestorm of criticism.

I know this is probably a case of …”in the opinion of the referee…”, but could you provide a little guidance. Is the goalkeeper, unfairly, getting the benefit of the doubt here?

USSF answer (April 8, 2005):
While the goalkeeper has certain privileges specified in the Laws of the Game, he or she certainly should not be given privileges that do not exist. The goalkeeper is expected to play as fairly as any other player, and this includes challenging for the ball.

If the Team A striker had already established position at the penalty mark and was already jumping up to play the ball when the goalkeeper took off, then the goalkeeper may well have committed a foul and might be punished by the award of a penalty kick–and possibly further punishment for misconduct, depending on what the referee saw happening. This will have to remain an item covered under the wide umbrella of “if, in the opinion of the referee.”


USING THE WHISTLE/MANAGING THE ADVANTAGE
Your question:
When a goal is scored should I blow the whistle? I notice some refs do and some refs don’t?

Also, If a player commits a foul worth a yellow card but I notice that the ball has gone to a team-mate that has a good scoring chance. Should I call play on or not call play on? Then blow the whistle if the play doesn’t end in a goal and card the player that was deserved the card?

If so, what would the proper restart be? A goal kick if the ball goes out? An indirect kick if the goalie saves it? Is this correct?

USSF answer (April 8, 2005):
We cannot make the decisions for you, but we can offer some advice.

When goals are scored, it is normal to blow the whistle, but certainly not required. It is individual preference to blow the whistle or not. The top officials now simply point to the center spot. However, blowing the whistle ensures that players recognize that play has been stopped and often prevents acts that might occur through hard play near the goal.

You may invoke the advantage clause in such a case and then stop play if the advantage does not materialize within 2-3 seconds, as described in the Law. (This does not mean that you would stop play and return to the spot of the infringement only if a goal is not scored.) The restart would be for the foul, and it would be taken after you have administered the caution and the yellow card for the misconduct.


GET IT RIGHT, REF! (1)
Your question:
On a breakaway the goalie comes out hard, sliding horizontally into the offensive player and simultaneously getting both hands on the ball. The goalie’s momentum carries her feet past the 18 with her hands inside and on the ball. The ball squirts out,slightly past the 18 and the goalie gathers it . The lead referee signals illegal use of the hands. The trail ref. whistles and comes to confer. He issues a yellow to the keeper, sends her off and with a replacement on, awards a P.K.. Is this an “in the opinion of the referees” situation? Wrong? Right?

USSF answer (April 7, 2005):
Please remember that we are not authorized to answer questions based on games played under high school rules. While we do not have all the facts necessary (where were the other players comes to mind), we will nevertheless attempt to answer the question based on what is available.

If this game had been played under the Laws of the Game, using a proper number of officials (one referee and two assistant referees), the correct decision would have been to award a direct free kick for the attacking team at the place where the goalkeeper handled the ball outside the penalty area. No penalty kick could be awarded, as the foul occurred outside the penalty area. It is impossible to tell if the requirements for an obvious goalscoring opportunity existed, but the description of the incident suggests that calling that would not have been a good decision. And the reason for the caution/yellow card escapes us altogether.


POWERS OF THE REFEREE VS. THOSE OF MOTHER NATURE
Your question:
This game (Real Salt Lake at Metrostars) was almost as windy as my 1st time at the Tampa Sun Bowl, in 1997, just after the tornado passed through on the 1st day of competition.

Anyway to my question: Many times, during the game, during a FREE kick, the ball began to roll (blow) away. In many cases the players used another player to hold the ball, with their foot, to keep it stationary and allow them to put it into play, properly.

Both teams, when they were defending against this process, complained that this initiated the kick. I can understand BOTH positions? But, which is correct. Wouldn’t this have been better handled (no pun intended) by having the ball held stationary by using a team mates hand/finger, instead of their foot?

Not knowing what, if anything, the referee said to the teams. What could the referee have done differently to prevent all the problems that the wind caused. I’m not saying that what he did was wrong, but you know what I mean.

USSF answer (April 7, 2005):
When such winds are blowing, using either the foot or the hand to keep the ball steady for the restart is permissible. Holding the ball still with the foot or the hand does not constitute either “kicking” the ball or deliberately handling it, and both provide the proper amount of stability.

As to what the referee could have done, we all know that the powers granted to the referee are many and far reaching, but none of them is enough to top the powers of Mother Nature. We need to remember that players and coaches will always whine when they imagine that the other team is gaining some sort of “advantage,” even if they are gaining the same advantage. The referee needs only to remind the players of that.


CORRRECT RESTARTS
Your question:
The instructor for a Grade 8 USSF recertification clinic presented the following scenarios
While the ball was in play, an angry goalkeeper handles the ball and, while standing in his penalty area but not the goal area, throws the ball in a reckless manner at an opponent
1) who is in the field of play.
2) who is standing in the back of the goalkeeper’s net.
3) who temporarily steps over the touchline while running up the touchline to avoid a teammate.

At the clinic, we argued 1) Penal foul for striking. Direct free kick from where the striking (would have) occurred. Send off and red card for the goalkeeper.
2) (a) Misconduct occurred off the field by a player on the field. Indirect free kick from where the striking originated. Send off and red card the keeper.
OR
(b) A goal should be awarded instead of an IFK. Misconduct occurred off the field by a player on the field. Send off and red card the goalkeeper.
3) (a) Misconduct occurred off the field by a player on the field. Indirect free kick from where the striking originated. Send off and red card the keeper.
OR
(b) A throw-in is awarded to the opponents instead of an IFK. Misconduct occurred off the field by a player on the field. Send off and red card the goalkeeper.

What is the correct call and restart for each scenario?

USSF answer (April 7, 2005):
1) Award the direct free kick. Send off the goalkeeper for violent conduct and show the red card.
2) Award the goal, send off the goalkeeper for violent conduct and show the red card.
3) Indirect free kick from the place where the goalkeeper threw the ball. Send off the goalkeeper for violent conduct and show the red card.


“EXPLAINING” CAUTIONS OR SEND-OFFS
Your question:
We recently played a game where the Referee and one of the two linesmen did not speak the same language as the players or coaches. The other linesman spoke only broken English served as an interpreter. When a card was given to a player, he could not communicate what the offense was. This is in a State Qualification game.

Does the Referee have a duty to be able to communicate with the Kids and Coach to explain calls, etc.

USSF answer (April 5, 2005):
The proactive referee may explain VERY BRIEFLY why a player is being cautioned or sent off, but the Laws of the Game do not require it. All the player needs to know is that he or she has committed misconduct. There is no rational reason for any explanation other than that the player is being cautioned (or sent off) for one of the seven reasons for each punishment. The yellow and red cards were invented for just that reason–when referees and teams do not share a common language. The fact that the player has been cautioned is indicated by the yellow card, just as the send-off is indicated by the red card.


DELIBERATE HANDLING/CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Your question:
I was coaching a U14 girls game in [a local] league. There were two AR’s and one center ref. There was a scramble in the top of the 18 area. The center ref was within 30 feet of the ball. The AR (who was behind the center on the sideline) called a hand ball. He raised his flag and told the center he saw a hand ball. When our captain on the field inquired as to who and what happened, the center ref told her “he didn’t see it but he believes his AR”. He awarded a PK. The AR was a father of a player on the team which was awarded the PK. After the game, the coaches asked the AR what happened. He said the ball came off the ground and bounced straight up and hit our girl in the forearm.

My question is this: Doesn’t the handling of the ball need to be intentional and doesn’t the law imply the hand must hit the ball and not the ball hitting the hand?? Also, is it common to award a PK when the center was within 30 feet of the alleged infraction and admittedly didn’t see anything. It seems a PK should be something only awarded when the AR or center is 100% sure of the infraction.

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
The fact that the ball “played” the hand, rather than the hand playing the ball, is a significant one. If this is true, the “foul” should not have been called.

But even more significant to us is the conflict of interest exhibited by the assistant referee. In the Referee Administrative Handbook, p. 33, it suggests that assistant referees should not be related in any way to either team participating in the game unless it is impossible to get other affiliated officials assigned. Unfortunately, sometimes the referee game assignors do not have enough bodies to go around and ask parents or siblings to referee games in which their kin will be playing.

You can download a PDF copy of the USSF Policy Manual at this URL:
http://www.ussoccer.com/services/content.sps?iType=230&icustompageid=9277

When you get it, look for Policy 531-10, which expressly addresses conflict of interest.


NO BENEFIT FROM OWN INFRINGEMENT OF THE LAW
Your question:
Here is the situation: Attacker fouled near the top of the penalty area, referee awards an advantage. Within the 2-3 second window the referee has to determine the advantage has not materialized, the attacker who was originally fouled passes to a teammate in an offside position. This teammate is then confronted and referee realizes that no advantage is present, so he awards the free kick. However, the AR has the flag up for offside. What is the correct restart to the match, a free kick for the attacking team for the original foul, or an indirect free kick to the defending team for the offside infraction? Thank you in advance.

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
The intelligent referee will recognize the situation immediately as the AR’s flag goes up and wave down the flag just before blowing the whistle, thus negating the advantage decision. The restart should be a direct free kick for the attacking team from the spot where the foul (for which the advantage clause was applied) occurred. If the original foul occurred within the penalty area (you stated “near the top of the penalty area”), the appropriate restart is a penalty kick.


THE STRANGE CASE OF MR. BECKHAM’S BOOT
Your question:
In the Eng vs Aze, at the 43rd min Beckham lost a boot. He remained on the field with the boot off, and eventually played the ball. The game was stopped and he was issued a yellow card. Was this because he didn’t step off the field to get his equipment in order, or because he played the ball with one boot off? I officiate youth, non-USSF, when a boot comes off during the match, I let the player stay on, because they usually get the boot back on immediately. Should I have them step off till they get the boot on, or is it acceptable to leave them on while they get their boot as long as they don’t play the ball?

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
We cannot give you a definitive answer on the incident with Mr. Beckham. It appears he left the field to correct his equipment, but then came back with shoe still in hand and then played the ball. The referee allowed play to continue and then the assistant referee got involved.

It is true that when players lose their footwear they are expected to replace it as quickly as possible. This can occur either on or off the field. Not doing so might conceivably be considered unsporting behavior, for which the player would be cautioned and shown the yellow card, but that sounds a bit harsh to us. It is all unclear in Mr. Beckham’s case.


THE SHAPE OF THE CORNER FLAG
Your question:
Could you please tell me whether there is an official recognised reason for using either a Triangular corner flag or a square one. Is there a reason for the different shapes?

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
Flags on the corner posts are intended solely to make the post stand out for the safety of the players. There is no required shape for corner post flags. They may be rectangular, triangular, or pennon-shaped.


MORE ON BOOTS
Your question:
Question: An attacker kicks the ball towards the goal unfortunately the boot of the kicker also flies simultaneously towards the goal. The GK is in confusion. The Referee stops the match and restarted with an Indirect free kick. Is the Referee justified? Since the boot is an outside agent is the correct restart – drop in? Pl. clarify, Sir.

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
The goalkeeper’s job is to keep the ball out of the goal, not worry about flying boots. As we responded to your earlier question on March 8, 2005:
QUOTE
There is no need for the referee to stop the match if the boot was lost accidentally and did not disturb any other players. The player is expected to replace the boot as quickly as possible and get on with play.

However, if the referee does stop play for this incident, the only possible restart is a dropped ball, taken from the place where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the special circumstances of Law 8).
END OF QUOTE

A final point: The boot could not be considered an outside agent.


GET IT RIGHT, REF! (2)
Your question:
I was an AR for a varsity high school boys game recently. A diagonal through ball is rolling away from the keeper in the penalty box, with an attacking player in pursuit. He has a defender on his back. The ball is headed for the goal line and it is clear that the forward will reach it before the keeper. At about 10 yards from the goal, maybe 5 yards off the near post, the defender pushes the forward with his hand in the flat of the back and he falls. There is no way the Center could have seen it. I wiggled my flag. He confirmed the foul and called a PK. At the half he made it clear that he wasn’t happy with the call; that because the attacker was moving away from the goal, and even if he had gotten it was still 2 people away from a goal, “the punishment didn’t fit the crime”. I understand his point, and he is a respected referee in this area, but I’m still struggling with it. When is a foul “PK worthy”?

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
The rule is the same for all competitions, whether World Cup or Under Eight soccer: If a direct free kick foul should be called outside the penalty area, that same foul should be a penalty kick if it occurs within the penalty area.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION
Your question:
What, exactly, is the definition of “possession” by the keeper and what is the preferred call if an attacker violates it? Thanks.

USSF answer (March 31, 2005):
The goalkeeper establishes possession with as little as one finger on the ball, provided the ball is under his control (in the opinion of the referee) and the ball has been trapped against the ground or some other surface — the keeper’s other hand or a goalpost. An expanded definition of goalkeeper possession may be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” downloadable from the referee page at ussoccer.com:
12.16 GOALKEEPER POSSESSION OF THE BALL
The goalkeeper is considered to be in possession of the ball while bouncing it on the ground or while throwing it into the air. Possession is given up if, while throwing the ball into the air, it is allowed to strike the ground. As noted in Advice 12.10, handling extends from shoulder to tip of fingers. While the ball is in the possession of the keeper, it cannot be lawfully played by an opponent, and any attempt to do so may be punished by a direct free kick.

At very young ages, possession of the ball by the goalkeeper should be defined broadly to include having a hand on the ball (other than purely incidental contact). Once the goalkeeper is in possession of the ball, opponents must cease challenging or otherwise attempting to play the ball. Where the ball is being “bobbled” by the goalkeeper, and depending on the age/experience of the players, it can be played by opponents.

If the goalkeeper has control by means other than his hands (e.g., dribbling with the feet or holding the ball against the ground with his body or feet), an opponent is not only free to but is expected to challenge the goalkeeper in any permissible way. As there are very few permissible ways to play a ball trapped by the goalkeeper’s body or legs, the goalkeeper is expected to either release the ball immediately or to rise and play the ball immediately. Failure to do so could result in the awarding of an indirect free kick against the goalkeeper for playing dangerously–and, if this illegal control persists, possibly a caution/yellow card for unsporting behavior.


IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE
Your question:
45 sec left, 0-0 game, linesman signals keeper crossed 18yd line while punting. Ref awards direct kick. Keeper thinks it is indirect because of ref lack of signals. ball goes in. game ends without restart. Score 1-0 favor home team. Ref never warned keeper about crossing line in 79 min. Other factors – field – no grass-dirt- old lines- not visible. Should it be direct or indirect? Should ref over-rule linesman? What is correct way to handle this?

USSF answer (March 31, 2005):
The referee need only indicate the direction on a direct free kick; there is no need to tell the goalkeeper that a kick may be coming toward the goal. Although it is certainly proactive‹and therefore intelligent‹refereeing, there is no need for the referee to warn the goalkeeper before calling an infringement of Law 12. As to the “lack of signals,” as a matter of self-preservation the goalkeeper should know that the signal for an indirect free kick is a raised arm. No raised arm equals direct free kick, not indirect free kick.

We have a number of factors that might have gone into another decision (field condition, lines, etc.), but not the full story of the game here. Therefore any other response would be simply guesswork, not anything useful.


COMBINATION SOCKS/SHINGUARDS
Your question:
We have children in our league who wear the all-in-one socks and shinguards. In some cases, the shinguard can be removed from a pocket in the socks for washing. Why are these children being required to wear a second pair of socks over the all-in-one socks?

If you look at the item in question it really is two separate items, one item just resides within a pocket of the other. The safety of the children not forsaking, it seems that if the shinguards were separated from the socks and not placed in the pocket then everything would be fine, since it would then become the two separate pieces on the list of compulsory equipment.

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
There is no directive from the Federation requiring an extra sock over the combination stocking/shinguard. If it is clear that the stocking bearing the shinguard is actually a stocking, then there should be no problem. This may be purely a local problem, so you should check with your local referee authorities to see what instructions they have given to the referees.

Referees are taught that the players¹ safety comes before all else in soccer.


OFFSIDE 1
Your question:
A forward and defender are streaking down the field in an attempt to latch onto/defend a cross they believed was forthcoming. The pass did not come, and both players were running so hard that they ran off the end line before they could stop. The cross then came; the forward had found his way back on the field and was in position to receive the cross, and the defender was still in front of him but off the field. No other defenders were between the forward receiving the cross and the endline. Was the forward offside?

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
We are normally concerned about the player who leaves the field to avoid an offside and then re-enters to play the ball, for which that player should be penalized for offside. We are also concerned about the player who leaves the field to put an opponent in an offside position, for which that player is cautioned at the next stoppage of play for unsporting behavior.

If both players have left the field during the course of play‹as players are allowed to do for various reasons‹and the referee has no reason to suspect subterfuge or deceit on the part of either of them, then there punishment is necessary if one or both return to the field to play the ball.

What is unclear from your question is the number of defenders. As many people forget to include the goalkeeper as an opposing ³defender² when they count who stands between the player who is possibly in the offside position and the goal line, this is critical in answering your question.

If the goalkeeper was on the field and in a normal position, then there is no offside, as the defender who left the field during the course of play is still counted, despite being absent from the field. Goalkeeper plus defender off the field equals two opponents between the player in the ³offside position² and the goal.

If the goalkeeper was on the field, yet for some inexplicable reason not covered in your question, was well away from the goal line, then the player who returns to the field should indeed be considered to be offside.


OFFSIDE 2
Your question:
A thrower to the AR¹s immediate left puts the ball in play to a teammate. The teammate plays the ball forward before the thrower has crossed the touchline to reenter the field of play. Upon reentry the thrower is behind the second to last defender, ahead of the ball and in the opponents half and is now interfering with play. Offside or not?

The referee calls a PK. Before the kick is taken the defending coach requests a player swap between the GK and a field player. The referee honors the request and the field player dons the keepers jersey and gloves. In some apparent gamesmanship, the opposing coach immediately claims that the players are no longer uniquely numbered. The defending coach offers to take a player off. Run me through the proper way to handle this situation for future reference.

Do you answer questions about NFHS rules of competition? If so, here goes. A player receives a hard tackle and is booked for his reckless tackle. After receiving the yellow card he calls the ref a ³F___in¹ Idiot² and is disqualified. Must the team play short? Our rules interpreter says, ³No². His reasoning is that under the rules of competition, a player must leave upon the receipt of a yellow card and may not return until the team¹s next substitution opportunity. The team may elect to play short. He thinks that the recipient of a caution, immediately becomes a named substitute as soon as the card is received. His status as a field player ends even before the substitute player is beckoned on to the field. Your thoughts?

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
Question 1: For offside purposes the referee cares only where the thrower was in relation to the ball and opposing players at the time the ball was kicked by the teammate (whether on or off the field). If that position was behind the ball or not nearer to the opponents¹ goal line than the last two defenders (which may or may not include the goalkeeper), then the player cannot be called offside.

Question 2: Pay no attention to the opposing coach, who knows not what he or she is talking about. Worry about the numbers at the next stoppage.

Question 3: Whatever we say regarding high school rules cannot be considered official, but common sense and traditional practice argue for this answer: If the player was cautioned and then sent off as part of a continuing sequence, that player¹s team must play short.

Your rules interpreter would give the Jesuits a run for their money but ultimately has to be faulted for (a) not taking into account the ³Spirit of the Game² and (b) not taking into account an equally Jesuitical response that the giving of a caution under high school rules does not automatically and immediately result in the cautioned player being no longer considered a player because (1) until play restarts the referee could always change his mind and therefore the requirement to leave the field is not fully implemented until play is restarted and (2) the cautioned player does not cease to be a player until the substitute is actually beckoned onto the field by the referee.


OFFSIDE 3
Your question:
I have 2 questions related to offside. My first question relates to what should be considered involvement by a player in an offside position. The blue team has a player in an offside position inside the penalty area. Between the two teams, probably 8-10 players are inside the penalty area or just outside it. The ball comes loose to a blue player about 10 yards outside the penalty area who drills the ball into the back of the net. Immediately the assistant referee¹s flag goes up for an offside. The center referee runs to the assistant referee and asks what he saw. He said there was a player in an offside position and the red team¹s goalkeeper was directing his defenders to cover the player in the offside position. I was the center referee and decided with this information that the red team¹s goalkeeper had made a bad decision letting himself be distracted by the blue player and let the goal stand. At half-time, the assistant referee added more information, specifically that the player in the offside postion had been yelling instructions (in a language that I don¹t speak) to his teammates. As near as the assistant referee could tell, the instructions were being ignored. The question I have is, would you consider the player in the offside position to have been involved? Or is this one of those ³you would have to have been there² in order to make the call situations? I am having second thoughts about this and would like your insights.

The second question relates to some terminology that I saw recently in a discussion of offside. The terminology was ³passive offside². I¹ve only seen this once. It wasn¹t defined. And it did not have any accompanying guidance like ³in the case of passive offside, this is what the referees should do.² If this is a concept that we should be aware of, please point me to an appropriate reference.

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
The answer to your first question is the one you expected: You had to be there to be certain. The goalkeeper¹s job is to keep the ball out of the goal, not to direct his defenders to cover someone in an offside position who had absolutely nothing to do with the goal itself. Our opinion: Goal. There was clearly no involvement by the player in the offside position and the assistant referee¹s reasoning on the ³involvement² has no relationship to any of the given definitions for involvement.

²Passive offside² means that a player is in an offside position but is not involved in play. Referees and assistant referees are trained to disregard the presence of any player who is ³passively² offside when making decisions, because that player does not meet any of the requirements for active involvement.


MISCONDUCT BY A SUBSTITUTE
Your question:
1) Substitutes are sitting on the bench and one of them was unhappy about some contact between the opposing players on a few 50-50 balls. The substitute then tells the other substitutes next to him, ³Next time we should hit him in the face². I, as the referee, heard it and waited until the next dead-ball and asked ³Who said it?². The substitute identified himself and I sent-off the substitute for violent conduct (for his comment). Is what I did correct?

2) At half-time during a youth game, a coach substitutes goal-keepers, then takes his starting GK and put him as a field player for the second half. About 1 minute into the 2nd half, I realize I wasn¹t informed of theGK substitution. On the next dead-ball I asked the coach if he switched GK¹s; he admitted he did so and he added that he didn¹t need to inform me for GK substitutions at half-time because of a FIFA memo which was released in Summer 2004 stating that the ref doesn¹t need to be informed of it anymore if the switch is at half-time. The tournament director was summoned over to the field and she confirmed that FIFA did send out a memo in Summer 2004 and I do not caution both GK¹s for Unsporting Behavior. Is this correct about the FIFA memo?

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
1) Your punishment of the substitute might be regarded as a bit harsh. It is one thing to mutter something to one¹s teammates about harming an opponent and quite a different thing to actually make a direct threat or initiate action against that opponent. A caution for unsporting behavior might have been more in order.

2) We are not aware of any FIFA memorandum of 2004 suggesting that goalkeepers who switch places with field players at halftime not be cautioned. The International Football Association¹s Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (Q&A), published by FIFA in June 2004, say quite the reverse under Law 3, Q&A 10:
10. A player changes places with the goalkeeper during half-time without informing the referee. The new goalkeeper then touches the ball with his hand in his own penalty area during the second half. What action does the referee take? He allows play to continue and cautions both players for unsporting behavior when the ball next goes out of play.

In addition, the intelligent referee (and assistant referee) had every opportunity before the new period began to notice that there had been a change in goalkeepers.


²LET ŒEM PLAY, REF!²
Your question:
[A coach/referee writes] My problem comes when I started refereeing select level matches. I see fouls and I call them. What I hear from the coaches and parents (the fouling team) is ³You gotta let them play!² It is amazing to me that coaches who are getting paid think that the rules don¹t apply any more when they play select. I see a player getting an advantage by pulling a shirt and I call the foul. You would think I was making up the rules on the spot the way some coaches react. I have seen flagrant fouls not called in select matches (I was an AR) and asked the referee after the game why they did not call them and the answer was they play a different game at this level.

I guess my question is why is there an apparent change in the way a referee calls the ³Laws of the Game² when the competitive level goes up. I have had may referees that do High School and College tell me that it is ³just different².

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
Experience has shown that as players progress to higher levels of play they expect the referee to allow a bit more contact at each progressive level. That is a good working philosophy for calling the game, provided it is kept in perspective. That does not mean that blatant or vicious fouls of any sort should be allowed simply because the game is being played at the U-14 select level, rather than the U-14 recreational level, or at the U-19 level or the adult level or the professional and international level, rather than at the U-tiny level.

As skills and playing experience increase, players expect the referee to understand the increased likelihood that some violations have become trifling or call for the use of advantage. In either case, while there is no disputing that a foul occurred, the players now have enough expertise, strength, and skill to ³play through² the violation. Remember that applying advantage IS ³calling the foul² and that deciding something is trifling doesn¹t mean that the referee can¹t talk to or warn the player about his behavior. Simply put, all fouls have to be recognized but not all fouls have to be whistled.


COACHING INTERFERENCE/KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
Class 1, Boys U14, one team visiting from one state association, the other from the home state association. In the 61st minute of a 60-minute game, (WE were in stoppage time!) one of our players was fouled just outside the penalty box. We lined up to take the direct kick. Our player then kicked the ball which bounced off one of the defenders in the ³wall² and went out of bounds over the end line. As we set up to take the corner kick, the referee blew the whistle and signaled that the game was over because time had expired. We asked him how he could possibly end the game without giving us the opportunity to take the corner kick, and his response was simply that ³time expired.² (In my opinion, mistake #1) Also note that the tournament rules stated 30-minute halves, but nothing regarding stoppage time, injury time, delays, etc. As in other tournaments, unless specifically stated, the referee has the discretion to add time for injuries, delays, etc.

The game ended in a 0-0 tie, and because of the tournament format, we proceeded directly to PKs. After 6 players for each team had shot penalty kicks, the score remained 4-4. The opposing teams 7th player took his shot and was blocked by our keeper. With our 7th player about to take his kick, we had a chance to now win the game. As our 7th player walked up to take his shot, the opposing teams coach walked onto the middle of the field and started saying something to the referee. (Mistake #2) The coach was accusing our player of having switched jerseys and, thus, taking a second penalty kick. There was about a 5 minute delay as referee and assistant referees got together to sort things out. (Our coach said that the opposing teams coach brought on the accusation in order to ³ice² our player, much like in the NFL when a time out is called right before the field goal kicker is about to kick a field goal.) The referee then allowed our player to take the kick, which hit off the post and missed. Their mission accomplished. Score remained 4-4.

Their 8th player made his PK, and our 8th player made his (Or so we thought!) After our player made his PK, the opposing coach, once again, said something to the referee. The referee then proceeded to disallow our goal claiming that our player had ³stutter stepped² while taking his PK, and did not move in a ³one continuous motion² as he went to kick the ball. (Mistake 3) After a heated debate between our coach, the referee, the assistant referee, and a new referee that had been summoned for additional support in the ruling, our player was forced into taking his penalty kick, once again, but, unfortunately, this time he missed. Game over. We lose. As you can imagine, we had spectators yelling at the referees for what the majority thought was a bogus call.

So here are my three questions:
1) Can a referee truly end the game and not allow a team to take a corner kick? .. or how about a penalty kick? ..or a direct free kick?

2) During penalty kicks, can a coach stop the fluid rhythm of the game by making a bogus accusation so as to force the referees to delay the game while they sort things out? Can the coach be ejected? Can a point be taken away? Did we have any recourse?

3) What is the rule on taking a penalty kick in terms of the kickers motion? I¹ve seen professional games where a player hesitates as he¹s starting his motion to kick the ball. Is this allowed? In the true spirit of the game, should this referee have allowed our goal? If it truly was an infraction, was the referee correct in allowing us to re-take the kick, or should we have lost our opportunity because of the infraction and declared the other team the winners? Hmmmmmmmmmm.

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
1) There is no requirement in the Laws that a half (first, second, or any overtime period) must end only while play is continuing. The only restart which must be completed regardless of time elapsing is a penalty kick. The referee is the sole judge of the amount of time remaining in a game. If the referee has added extra minutes to compensate for time lost during the period of play, then he is also the sole judge of when that extra time is completed.

Let it be simply stated: the referee with common sense understands that time will not likely expire when there is an imminent chance of scoring.

2) Coaches are not allowed to interfere in the match at any time. Such activity is irresponsible behavior, for which the coach may be dismissed and removed from the environs of the field. But if the referee did nothing about it, you have no recourse. The referee is the one charged with managing the match.

3) FIFA clarified in 2002 that the kicker may seek to misdirect (or feint) at the taking of a penalty kick. USSF, in a memo of October 14, 2004 on this subject, identified four specific actions by the kicker that could constitute misconduct:
– he delays unnecessarily after being signaled by the referee to proceed,
– he runs past the ball and then backs up to take the kick,
– he excessively changes direction during the run to the ball, or
– he makes any motion of the hand or arm which is clearly intended to misdirect the attention of the goalkeeper.

To this list the IFAB (the people who make the Laws of the Game) has added that a player who clearly stops in his run up, as opposed to feinting but not stopping, has infringed the Law.

In such cases, the referee should suspend the procedure, caution the player involved, and then signal once again for the kick to be taken. If the kick has already been taken, the referee should order it retaken only if the ball enters the goal. The player must still be cautioned for his misconduct regardless of the outcome.


FIELD EQUIPMENT
Your question:
I was reading this recent memorandum: http://www.ussoccer-data.com/docfile/2005fieldeqpt.htm and it seems to run counter to what we’ve been taught about overhead obstructions. I had always believed that when the ball hit something like a tree or overhead wires, it was still in play. However, this memorandum would indicate that play should be stopped and restarted with a dropped ball. Could you please clarify?

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
The position paper applies to transient, nonpermanent equipment, such as the skycam, but not to permanent, pre-existing conditions (see Advice to Referees, 1.8), such as overhanging branches, where park districts or schools do not give permission to cut branches, or power lines, which cannot be moved in any way.


GET THE RESTART RIGHT, PLEASE
Your question:
I was the AR on a game this last weekend. White is playing Blue. An offside call was blown on Blue while attacking Whites goal. This occurred about 15-20 yards from the top of the goal box. Referee puts his hand up and announces play. The ball was not in the position of the call or in line with the AR on that side of the field (it rolled to the keeper who was back another 10 yards) and the keeper kicks the ball forward (here is where it gets, iffy) to what she believed to place the ball in the correct position. Blue runs and kicks the ball into the goal. Goal was allowed. Was this correct? or should the goal be disallowed?

USSF answer (March 22, 2005):
The referee should not have allowed play to be restarted until the ball was in the correct position. Disallow the goal. Have the ball put at the correct spot.


ENFORCING SUSPENSION IN INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES
Your question:
In the US vs Columbia game on 3/9/05 Taylor Twellman received a red card for a tackle from behind. Now, if the foul occurred in a formal competition like world cup qualifying or league play then he would have to miss the his next match within that competition. However, the foul occurred in an international “friendly”. Is he required to serve a suspension? If so, would it be during the next international “friendly”, next international game, or his next game period?

USSF answer (March 17, 2005):
It is very difficult to supervise the administration of suspensions following international friendly matches. The national association of the dismissed player or team official generally imposes the correct suspension. In severe cases, the confederation or even FIFA may step in.


SAFETY OF THE PLAYERS
Your question:
I have noticed in Europe on cold weather days that professional players have been wearing sliding pants or leggings that cover the whole leg and go under the socks. I was under the impression that sliding pants had to be similar or same in color as the shorts and could not extend beyond the top of the knee. Has this changed?

USSF answer (March 17, 2005):
The garb you describe is for the safety of the players. The “panty hose”–probably Lycra tights–under the shorts and socks are allowed because of the extreme weather.


INFRINGEMENT OF LAW 14
Your question:
The situation is the semifinal in a U-10 select tournament, with a full referee team (center and two certified assistants). A penalty kick is awarded. The referee gets everyone lined up properly, instructs the keeper appropriately, and blows his whistle. Before the kick, one of the teammates of the player taking the shot moves into the arc at the top of the penalty area. The shot is taken and scored, as the spectators (me first I admit with some shame) complain loudly.

Between halfs the referee tells the coach that he didn’t require the kick to be retaken because the incursion(5 yards) was “trifling.” The assistant tells the coach later that she saw it but it wasn’t her place to inform the referee. I think there were two errors here. First, the assistant should always be prepared to catch something the center missed. Second, if this is “trifling” then there is no point in having the rule, because then any incursion is “trifling.” (I also think there was a third error: I should have kept my mouth shut; the refs have a hard enough job without a bunch of self-proclaimed experts on the sideline.)

USSF answer (March 17, 2005):
According to Law 14 the penalty kick must be retaken if a member of the kicker’s team enters the penalty area early and a goal is scored.

As to the responsibility of the assistant referee, that is something that is determined in the pregame conference between referee and assistants (and fourth official, if there is one).

As to the third error, referees should know going in that there will be commentary on their perceived performance. Life is hard; we must learn to live with it.

2005 Part 1

MEDICAL ATTENTION
Your question:
Here’s a question from a recent recert class that seemed to stump the instructor as much as the students: A player, #9 from team A, was fouled near team B’s penalty area by #3 from team B. The referee awards a direct free kick to team A. Due to the foul, #9 needed medical attention and, after three minutes, was finally removed from the field of play. Given the sequence of events, the referee:
a)should make sure he/she is informed of the seriousness of the injury and, after the injured player has been removed from the field, issue a caution to player #3 from team B.
b) can not issue a caution anymore as it is too late now that the injured player is removed.
c) has to provide the complete details concerning the medical status of the injury on the game report.
d) has the discretion to determine how much time was lost due to the injury.

Many of us leaned toward A, yet some of the more experienced refs said B. certainly D is true and likely C as well.

USSF answer (March 10, 2005):
a) The referee needs to know only that the player has been seriously injured; that information is included in the match report. The full nature of the injuries is irrelevant. There is absolutely no reason to base a caution on whether or not an injury was inflicted; the referee bases that decision solely upon whether the foul was committed recklessly (caution/yellow card) or with excessive force (send-off/red card). It is possible to inflict an injury, even a serious injury, simply by making normal contact with another player. b) Immediately exclude option b from any consideration. A caution may be issued at any time prior to the restart of play. c) See a. d) Correct.


SELECTING OFFICIALS FOR INTERNATIONAL MATCHES
Your question:
All of the following assumes that a FIFA Ref/or AR may not be from the same country of the teams that are playing that match.)

Key Issue: What say, if any, does each Intl team or club teams have when playing international matches as to who refs the games?

If Germany plays England in the friendly match the Ref and AR’s are not really an issue to the teams.

Now, if Germany plays the UK in an European Cup match be it at International level, or a UEFA match… for the INTL match does FIFA or UEFA present a list of ref’s and AR’s from to each Intl association and they agree upon at least the Referee that will officiate.

Also, how are the Ref’s selected by FIFA for the World Cup matches..(outside of the highest rated ones) do they give a list to pick from to the teams? Or, FIFA assigns and that is it?

USSF answer (March 8, 2005):
We are not aware that referees for international matches must be approved by the competing countries. As far as we know, FIFA selects the refereeing crew and that is it.


PLAYER LOSES SHOE
Your question:
While kicking the ball the boot also flies in the other direction without giving disturbances to the opponent. But the referees stops the play.  How will the referee restart the match?

USSF answer (March 8, 2005):
There is no need for the referee to stop the match if the boot was lost accidentally and did not disturb any other players. The player is expected to replace the boot as quickly as possible and get on with play.

However, if the referee does stop play for this incident, the only possible restart is a dropped ball, taken from the place where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the special circumstances of Law 8).


INTERFERING WITH A THROW-IN
Your question:
Can an opponent be cautioned for merely standing on the touch line in front of the player taking the throw-in? The laws and the ATR are clear that the opponent is not allowed to jump or follow the thrower to attempt to affect the throw, but our referee group is divided on what to do when the defender stands so close on the throw. Most believe that the player has a right to stand there, but my thinking is that the defender does not take his position on the touch line until he sees where the thrower is setting up. This could be considered to be interfering with the throw, in my opinion.

We had a situation where the thrower, annoyed by the defender standing on the line, followed through and clocked the defender, with the injured player needing several stitches to close the wound.

We also discussed what proactive action the referee could take. Inthat vein, is it appropriate for the referee to tell the players what their respective rights are (i.e., defender, you must remain still during the throw, and thrower, you may move down the line to avoid the defender)?

USSF answer (March 7, 2005):
The player may not be cautioned for simply standing there when the thrower moves up to the line; nor should the player be spoken to. This, of course, only provided that the player did not move into that position just as the thrower was about to take the throw. If that is the case, then at least a warning should be given (if the throw was still successful) or certainly a caution (if the thrower was thus prevented from doing the job properly).

We need to remember that the thrower is given a yard in either direction from the point of the throw-in, so an opponent merely standing in a particular location should not be an obstacle to the thrower. Furthermore, even if irritated by perceived interference, this hardly gives the thrower a right to “clock” the opponent.

There will be further changes after July 1.


PLAYING THE BALL FROM THE ‘KEEPER’S HAND
Your question:
Where is official word that you can’t play the ball out of the ‘keeper’s hands? Are there any more situations when it is legal to play the ball when the keeper has possesion besides header out of outstretched palm or kicking it as it hits the ground when the GK’s bouncing it?

USSF answer (March 3, 2005):
There is nothing in the Law to say that the ball may not be played from the goalkeeper’s hand, but neither is there anything that would allow it, except under the conditions you have already outlined: heading the ball from the goalkeeper’s open palm (a most unlikely situation) or playing the ball as it hits the ground when clearly released by the goalkeeper. However, there is that provision in Law 12 under Indirect Free Kicks that calls for punishment of the player who “prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands.” In addition, there is tradition, which also forbids interfering with the goalkeeper who is attempting to put the ball back into play.

And, finally, there is the reminder in the Additional Instructions at the back of your book of the Laws of the Game that it is an offense for a player to prevent a goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands and that a player must be penalized for playing in a dangerous manner if he kicks or attempts to kick the ball when the goalkeeper is in the process of releasing it.


‘KEEPER MOVING FORWARD FROM GOAL LINE AT PK
Your question:
I have a query about my role during PKs when assigned as A/R. Can you help ?

I have reffed for 4 years (seniors, U19 Premier, etc). In 3 recent games which went to PKs the result was altered, in my view, by an illegal save – i.e. the GK was well forward of the goalline before the ball was in play.   In one game I was assigned as A/R and was instructed not to indicate a forward G/K move. Also at a subsequent ref training it was made quite clear that A/Rs should *not* “indicate….whether at a PK the goalkeeper has moved forwards before the ball has been kicked” even though Law 6 seems to require otherwise, independent of the ref’s subsequent decision.

Question: Why cannot I, when assigned as A/R, indicate (clearly, to everyone) that, in my view, a GK has moved forwards before the Ball was in play at at PK? Or can this key duty be “subject to the decision of the refereee” (Law 6).

USSF answer (March 3, 2005):
At penalty kicks (or kicks from the penalty mark), the job of the assistant referee, according to Law 6, is to indicate “whether . . . the goalkeeper has moved forward before the ball has been kicked and if the ball has crossed the line.” That is clear. What is not clear is when that is done and how it is done. The timing and the signal are up to the referee to determine and should be clarified during the pregame conference among the officials. If the referee does not bring up the matter, the AR must do so.


DEFENDER OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY
Your question:
This happened in a U17 Boys game recently: Defender, running parallel to the goal line near the top of the PA, is chasing the ball about to go into touch. Attacker does the same, running parallel to the touch line. Ball goes out – throw in for attackers. No foul/collision by players. Defender slides into stands and, clearly,  injures himself. He slid into the stands…..

Very quickly, the attacker throws ball in, legally, and ball is cleared. However, the ball is intercepted and passed right down the middle to an attacker who has only the goalie in front of him. He is clearly in an offside position, IF YOU DON’T COUNT THE PLAYER WHO IS STILL NEAR THE STANDS (clearly off the field by at least 5 yards) AND RUBBING HIS INJURED LEG, FACING THE STANDS. If you count the injured player, the attacker is on side. AR2 raises the flag for offside. Referee waves him down, as attacker continues toward goal. No other players involved, except the forward and goalie on the field … and the injured player off the field. All other defenders are way up field….

Who’s correct here?

USSF answer (March 2, 2005):
This quote from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” (Advice 11.11) should be of help: “A defender who leaves the field during the course of play and does not immediately return must still be considered in determining where the second to last defender is for the purpose of judging which attackers are in an offside position. Such a defender is considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to his or her off-field position. A defender who leaves the field with the referee’s permission (and who thus requires the referee’s permission to return) is not included in determining offside position.”

This defender left the field legally, during the course of play. Unless the referee decides that this defender is seriously injured‹in which case play must be stopped for treatment‹the defender must be counted as being on the field.

The referee was correct.


AN INTERESTING SITUATION
Your question:
Two players are involved – an attacker and a defender. The attacker has the ball at his feet, inside the penalty area. He is very close to the back line, but outside the six yard box. He nutmegs the defender and then attempts to run past him, to catch up with the ball, but chooses to pass the defender by leaving the field of play. The defender sticks out his foot and trips the attacker up, but the trip takes place off the playing area. There are no other defenders between this incident and the goal and the attacker would have regained control of the ball if he hadn’t been tripped up.

Has the defender committed a foul? Should a penalty be awarded? Should the defender be sent off?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
The attacking player is permitted to leave the field to avoid an obstacle while playing the ball. By sticking his foot out with the clear intent to trip the attacker, the defender has committed the foul of “attempting to trip,” which is punishable by a direct free kick‹and, therefore, as it was committed by a defender inside his own penalty area, the restart must be a penalty kick.

Although the eventual result of the attempt was an actual trip of the attacker, the attempt occurred inside the field. Because the successful result of the attempt occurred off the field, the restart would have to be a dropped ball (misconduct occurring off the field) and no red card could be given even if there were an obvious goal scoring situation because such a card cannot be given if the restart is not a free kick.

Fairness and common sense would suggest that the player should be punished in the most severe way and that could be done only if the referee decided to stop play for the foul of “attempting to trip.”


SECOND “FOUL” FOLLOWING ORIGINAL FOUL
Your question:
During a co-ed match, I had a situation where an attacker just outside their eighteen was fouled, went down and lost possession of the ball. There upon another attacker who was not in the offside position was given advantage. But time had elapsed and no control was established so I blew the ball dead. Simultaneously the keeper who was also approaching the ball took down the 2nd attacker who got injured and was the 2nd foul of that series of play.

I discussed this series of fouls with the AR and we decided since I blew the ball dead for the first foul, that I may not be able to punish for the second foul even though it could have warranted a caution or a send-off. Even though the 2nd foul occurred in the penalty area, I did not award the PK. I went back to the original foul which ended up being a DFK from about the arc. Was that the right call?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
If you have already stopped play for the original foul, you may not punish the second “foul” as a foul. However, if it is appropriate, you may punish the “foul” as misconduct, either a caution or a send-off, depending on the degree of force employed by the second “fouler,” in this case the goalkeeper.


NO RIGHT TO NOT ALLOW SUBSTITUTIONS
Your question:
At half time the score was 3 to 1 our favorite at the start of the second half we scored again- putting the score 4 to 1. So our coach put in his bench players and was going to leave them in the last ten minutes of the game. Well, the other team scored 2 goals, so our coach put his starters on line to sub after the second goal was scored (score now 4 to 3). When are coach called to sub the and the sideline judge put his flag up to single the center ref – he told our coach “No more subing – there’s only two minutes left in the game and there’s not enough time.” Our coach then told him to “You can tie or win in two minutes.” The other team in fact did score again – tieing the game 4 to 4. Our coach tried once more to sub and again was told “No there’s only 1 minute left.” The sideline judge told our asst coach “I don’t know why he won’t let you sub.”

Is this a judgement call, not to allowing a team to sub with only two minutes left? Is this a rule? I mean what if it this was a tournament game and we need to get our best players in incase of PKs?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
The referee has no authority to refuse a team the right to substitute players.


GIVE ME TEN!
Your question:
During a U11G competitive game a player on the field was called for handling the ball, “hand ball” as parents know it. That player’s coach yelled at the player who handled the ball and ordered her to drop and do 10 push ups right there.

Nothing was done by the ref calling the game, and lucky for the girl doing the pushups her safety was not endangered because the opposing team waited for her to complete them before putting the ball in play.

I think the caoch should be cautioned for placing his player into a potentially dangerous situation if the opposing team continued to play without waiting for her to finish.

What do you suggest is the best way to address this with a coach who may do this on the field of play during the game?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
If it weren’t so ridiculously silly, we might say that the coach’s action was irresponsible and the referee should have dealt with it immediately: dismiss the coach for behaving irresponsibly and restart with the direct free kick for the deliberate handling foul.

The coach’s job is supposed to be done in practice and in talking the players and substitutes on the sidelines during the game. It does not extend to disciplining a player on the field. If the coach wanted to discipline the player, he should have substituted her out of the game.

If the referee can stop laughing, he or she would be wise to remind the coach of when and where such tactics should be employed. The referee would then submit a complete report to the appropriate authorities.


MAY SUBSTITUTES BE CARDED?
Your question:
I have a question regarding carding and who can be carded. Of course, players on the pitch can be carded. What about substitutes watching the game from the touchline or on the bench? If their behavior is unsporting, or there is a lot of dissent, can they be carded as well? If so, how is a restart handled? Which Law covers this situation?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
Yes, substitutes may be cautioned and shown the yellow card or sent off and shown the red card. The authority is contained in Laws 3 and 5. The restart will depend on the reason for which the game was stopped. If it was solely for the misconduct of the substitutes on the sidelines, then the correct restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the special circumstances of Law 8).


STOP MAKING UP RULES, REF!
Your question:
During a tournament recently the diameter and height of the corner flags became an issue. The Center ref claimed that the flags stick had to be an inch in diameter and a certain height, and disallowed the small diameter flag sticks. Is there any rule/law that dictates the size and diameter the corner flags must be?

USSF answer (February 28, 2005):
Law 1 requires only that “[a] flagpost, not less than 1.5 m (5 ft) high, with a non-pointed top and a flag is placed at each corner.” There is no indication of any particular diameter.


TOO MANY PLAYERS
Your question:
Recently following a goal being scored, the team that was kicking-off was observed to have 12 players on the field. The sideline official (AR) observed this and tried to signal to the referee. Play continued for about 1 minute and the attacking team (the team with 12 players) was awarded a corner-kick. At this point the AR finally got the referees attention. The referee and AR discussed the situation and the corner-kick was allowed and the winning goal was scored.  Was this proper?

I thought that the since the AR had observed 12 players, that either the coach or the 12th player should have been “cautioned”.

Should the corner-kick be allowed, since the corner -kick had been ‘earned’ with the advantage of the 12th player on the field?

USSF answer (February 22, 2005):
If play has already been stopped, then the referee has no choice but to restart according to the reason the game was stopped. Caution and remove the twelfth player for entering the field of play without the permission of the referee and, in this case, restart with a corner kick.

Unless the rules of the competition specifically allow it, coaches are never to be cautioned. In this case, even if the rules did allow it, there is no reason to caution the coach.


PLAYER RE-ENTERS WITHOUT PERMISSION
Your question:
Player A1 gets permission from the referee to leave the field (say, to change shoes). A1 then re-enters the field without the referee’s permission. A1’s team scores a goal. Before play is restarted, the referee realizes that A1 came onto the field without permission. What action does the referee take? Does he allow the goal, and if not, how does he restart play?

USSF answer (February 21, 2005):
The player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field without the referee’s permission. The goal is disallowed and the game restarts with a goal kick.


FOUR MATCH SCENARIOS
Your question:
I have four questions regarding match scenarios. Although some of them are a true stretch, we are looking forward to your responses. We definitely appreciate and respect the time and effort you have taken to do this job.

Scenario 1) The referee motions for a substitute to enter the field, who is clearly ready to enter (i.e. Equipment checked, name and number matches the roster as a named substitute, has presented his player pass and substitution pass to the forth official) for a player who has left the field with the permission of the referee during play due to an injury (due to this, his team is now playing with one man less). (The substitute who is about to enter, formerly played for the opposing team and is upset with his former coach for trading him.) The player, clearly acting out of built-up anger, does not step onto the field, walks over to his former coach (opposing bench) and strikes his former coach with a water bottle. Next, he steps onto the field and takes his position.
1) How many do you restart with? (11 – not a completed sub until player enters the field?)

Scenario 2) A player has left the field during play with the permission of the referee, due to an injury (due to this, his team is now playing with one man less). While off the field, during play, the same player strikes an opponent on the field with a water bottle.
1) What’s the restart? (Does this fall under the theory as in the situation with a goalkeeper attempting to strike a player with the ball outside of the penalty area with the ball; and the foul or attempted foul being restarted from the place where the contact or attempted contact would have occurred? If so would it be a direct free kick against his team because he is actually a “player”? OR Would it be a dropped ball because he is now considered an outside agent?)
2) How many players do you restart with? (10 – because he is still really a player?)

Scenario 3) A player has left the field during play with the permission of the referee, due to an injury (due to this, his team is now playing with one man less). While off the field, during play, the same player strikes a teammate on the field with a water bottle.
1) What’s the restart? (Once again, does this fall under the theory as in the situation with a goalkeeper attempting to strike a player with the ball outside of the penalty area with the ball; and the foul or attempted foul being restarted from the place where the contact or attempted contact would have occurred? If so would it be an indirect free kick against his team because he is actually a “player”? OR Would it be a dropped ball because he is now considered an outside agent?)
2) How many players do you restart with? (10 – because he is still really a player?)

Scenario 4) Is it technically possible to have a direct free kick against the defending team, and also have the ball be placed so that its sphere overlaps the line on the edge of penalty area? (The foul occurs within 9 inches of the edge of the penalty area and the bottom of the ball is placed on the exact spot where the foul occurred; thus to an onlooker it would appear as though the direct free kick against the defending team was being taken inside the penalty area, (as the lines obviously belong to the areas in which they bounder.).)

USSF answer (February 20, 2005):
Scenario 1:
The substitution is not completed until the new player enters the field. By committing violent conduct in striking the coach, the substitute must be dismissed and shown the red card. Provided that the substitute has not entered the field after being beckoned on by the referee and before striking the coach, then his team may use another substitute and the team need not play with fewer players.

Scenario 2:
1) Restart with a direct free kick for the opposing team. The player re-entered the field to strike the opponent. 2) Restart with one fewer player on the bottle-striker’s team, as he must be dismissed and shown the red card for violent conduct.

Scenario 3:
1) Indirect free kick for the opposing team from the place where the bottle struck the teammate. Send off the player and show the red card for violent conduct.
2) Restart with one fewer player on the bottle thrower’s team.

Scenario 4:
If a foul is deemed to have occurred outside the area, then the ball may not be placed on the line. Set the ball outside the line.


IMPEDING?
Your question:
A free kick has been given. The kicking player (A) kicks the ball only a couple of feet by mistake. He then goes to the ball and, while facing the ball, he shields an incoming opponent (B) from gaining possession. If the ball is at the feet of this player A, can he use his body to shield/impede his opponent from getting the ball? Player A cannot play the ball a 2nd time till it is touched by someone else. So can he really claim ³possession² with the ball at his feet when he isn¹t able to touch it? Or does the rule only require that the ball merely has to be within playing distance of player A while he is shielding ­ even though he cannot play it?

USSF answer (February 16, 2005):
Despite the fact that A cannot play the ball legally without playing it a second time before someone else has somehow played the ball, as long as A is within playing distance of the ball (i. e., meaning capable of playing the ball according to the Law), then A cannot be impeding. Playing distance is exactly that, a distance, which is determined in practice only by the playability of the ball.

The fact that in this particular case A could not LEGALLY play the ball without infringing the Law does not change the fact that, distance-wise, the ball is still within a physically playable distance. The ball is legally playable‹in every way open to any field player‹by anyone other than the player who kicked the ball. If A’s movement includes holding the arms out and making contact with the opponent as a means of keeping the opponent away, then the player is guilty of holding.
[Note: This answer repeats information given in November 2002.]


DOUBLE POSSESSION BY THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Can you provide the definition for double possession?
If the keeper has the ball in their hands, plays it to the ground, then decides to pick the ball up again, do we have a double touch issue?
How about the keeper tosses the ball to the ground and kicks it?

USSF answer (February 16, 2005):
For a goalkeeper to be “convicted” of double possession, the referee must recognize that the goalkeeper has clearly released the ball for others to play and then picked it up again. However, if the ‘keeper inadvertently drops the ball and then picks it up again, that does not count as double possession. Dropping the ball to the ground and kicking it is a legal play.


GOALKEEPER SCORES A GOAL OFF A PUNT
Your question:
I have heard throughout my soccer career that a keeper cannot score a goal directly off a punt.  In order for the goal to be valid he must drop-kick the ball.  In a recent intramural match, a referee told a goalkeeper that if he could throw the ball from one end to the other, he could score directly on a thrown ball. While I realize that in a normal game this kind of scenario is next to impossible, I would like to know if there are any official rulings on the matter as it could potentially come up in a youth game on an undersized field.  Not likely, but possible. In the event a keeper could throw, or punt the ball directly into his opponent¹s goal, I would think that a goal kick should be awarded instead of a goal, but again, I haven¹t been a referee that long and the information I¹m using as a basis for this decision is mostly hearsay. I tried to look up information on this topic in the Laws of the Game, Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, and Advice to Referees handbooks, but didn¹t find anything relevant. Any advice you could give would be most welcome.

USSF answer (February 16, 2005):
When in doubt, go to the beginning of all soccer knowledge, the Laws of the Game. Law 10, Method of Scoring, tells us: “A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no infringement of the Laws of the Game has been committed previously by the team scoring the goal.”

Note that there is no reference there to whether or not the scorer is a goalkeeper or a field player. Nowhere in the Laws of the Game does it say that a goalkeeper may not score a goal directly by any legal means‹and punting is a legal means.


“FOUL” OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY
Your question:
A player is dribbling the ball along the end line, he steps off the field by a foot or two to avoid a defender. While he/she is off the pitch the defender fouls him.

What is the restart? Direct kick or indirect kick? Obviously if he is several feet off the pitch a yellow card could be issued too. The high school rule book calls for an indirect kick. That got me to thinking what would the FIFA rule be. You can’t really call fouls off the pitch so that seems to apply here too.

USSF answer (February 15, 2005):
Such an act would be regarded as misconduct, rather than a foul, because it occurred off the field of play. The player is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. The restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped.


DROPPED BALL
Your question:
My question pertains to drop balls. In a drop ball situation, a player verbally acknowledges to the opposing team that he will kick the ball back to the team’s goalkeeper. The opposing team leaves him alone at the drop ball, believing that he will be true to his word and kick it back. Instead, the player who told the team he’d kick it back smashes the drop ball into the back of the net. My position is that the goal should not be counted, because the player used trickery to make the opposing players think he would be returning the ball to them. The player should be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior (because of the trickery) and play is restarted with an IFK to the opposing team from the spot of the drop ball. Others maintain that the goal should be counted as players are not obliged to return drop balls. Please help us clear this situation up.

USSF answer (February 14, 2005):
After a stoppage for an injury or a similar situation caused by one team, a player of that team usually plays a dropped ball (or a throw-in) to a position where the opposing team may regain possession. Despite the fact that it is traditional that a player do this, there is no requirement for it under the Laws of the Game. Nor does the referee have any authority to deal with this situation. Indeed, over the past several years, we have seen instances in very high-level competitions where players have refused to do this. This is not the forum in which to discuss the reasons for evil or ignorance.

The referee has a preventive remedy for situations at a dropped ball where the only fair thing (within the Spirit of the Game) is for one team to get the ball. There is no requirement that players from both teams take part in a dropped ball. This gives the referee the implied authority to drop the ball only for a member of one team to ensure fairness.


OWN GOALS?
Your question:
In a U14 Competitive game player for team A is throwing the ball into play. A player for team B stands about a yard away from the thrower. Player A is irritated and throws the ball off of Player B expecting the ball to go out of bounds. However, Player A picks up the ball on the touchline prior to it going out of bounds thinking that it was going to go out of bounds anyway.

What would you do?

USSF answer (February 13, 2005):
The answer to your question is twofold. First, it depends on what the referee perceives in the initial throw-in. That is covered in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
15.8 THROW-IN STRIKES AN OPPONENT
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.

The second part of the answer deals with the deliberate handling of the ball after it has touched the opposing player. That could be punished as deliberate handling unless the referee has already decided to deal with the throw-in hitting the opponent.


GOALKEEPER HANDLING THE BALL
Your question:
If a goalkeeper reaches outside his/her own penalty area and touches the ball, but his/her feet are completely inside the penalty area, is it considered a handball ? Likewise, the goalie is outside the penalty area and reaches over the line into the penalty area to grab the ball. Is this a handball? I guess the question boils down to is is ball location or goalkeeper’s feet/body position?

USSF answer (February 10, 2005):
It makes no difference where the goalkeeper’s body or feet are. The only significant factors are the position of the goalkeeper’s hands and the position of the ball. If they are in contact simultaneously (and deliberately on the part of the goalkeeper) outside the penalty area, then the goalkeeper has deliberately handled the ball counter to the Law.

However, under other circumstances, such as the goalkeeper accidentally carrying the ball over the line marking the penalty area while releasing it so that others may play it, this could be a trifling infringement and the intelligent referee might overlook the matter.


PLAYING THE BALL IN THE HANDS OF THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Recently while on the pitch, I overheard a referee speaking with another referee about a recent FIFA rule change allowing an opponent to head a ball being held by the goal keeper. Has there been such a rule change?

USSF answer (February 13, 2005):
Yes, an opposing player may play the ball from the open palm of the goalkeeper. However, if the goalkeeper holds the ball so that the palm is not open or is holding the ball against his or her body, the opponent may not play the ball.


ILLEGAL SUBSTITUTES
Your question:
In the latest FIFA Q&A, there are a number of questions that deal with illegal substitutes on the field of play. Several of the questions refer to an illegal substitute having to leave the field to complete the substitution procedure. My question is, “When is that ‘substitute/player’ allowed into the game? Is it as simple as having them step of the field and then back on after the referee signals or is the person required to wait until the next stoppage of play?”

USSF answer (February 10, 2005):
Provided that the referee has completed all bookkeeping and disciplinary measures appropriate to this offense, and that the “substitute/player” has been removed from the field, then the same “substitute/player” may then return to the game (without waiting for any further stoppage).


OWN GOALS?
Your question:
The Laws of the Game state that a goal cannot be scored directly from an indirect free kick (Law 13), a throw-in (Law 15) or a dropped ball (Law 8), and that a goal can only be scored against the opposing team (NO OWN GOAL) on a direct free kick (Law 13), a goal kick (Law 16) and a corner kick (Law 17). My question: for the remaining two restarts, the penalty kick (Law 14) and the kick off (Law 8), would an own goal be allowed if the requirements for the restart as stated in the respective Law were satisfied (players in the correct positions, ball kicked in a forward direction, etc.)? Neither Law specifically bans an own goal being awarded. While the probability of either event ever occuring (especially from a penalty kick) is extremely slight, an “unusual” weather condition – e.g. a strong, sudden wind gust – could make it “possible”. I believe that the goal would stand, but have heard conflicting opinions.

USSF answer (February 10, 2005):
The Spirit of the Game would cry out in anguish if an own goal were awarded directly from either a kick-off or a penalty kick. In addition, it would be nigh impossible for such a thing to occur.


DISRESPECT/TAUNTING AFTER A GOAL
Your question:
I’m little concerned about player behavior, especially at the high level of competitions. Last week I watched the Ecuador vs. Panama game. One of the players, after he scored a goal, pulled a mask from his shorts and put it on his head. As a matter of fact, he did it on two occasions. I didn’t see any display of yellow cards for his behavior. In my opinion that action was a disrespect for the other player’s team and in general for the soccer game. I ask myself, when will FIFA or other authorities do something to stop that kind of behavior?

USSF answer (February 10, 2005):
There had to be some countermeasure from the players to the change in the Laws that forbids removing shirts after scoring a goal. If the referee believes that any action following a goal is disrespectful to the game or a form of taunting the opponents after the goal has been scored, the player should be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior.


MODIFYING THE LAWS OF THE GAME
Your question:
Large tournament, multi-state and country participants, approved by USYS. The tournament rules state, “all rules are governed by the FIFA laws of soccer” AND  Home Team: “will select the side from which they wish to play”.

There was understandable confusion because tournament officials gave instructions that “Home Team selects the side they wish to play from” meant, the side they wish to defend and the visiting teams always kick off. I contended that, although poorly worded, the rule was intended to give the Home Team, the choice of which sideline to occupy. There were no additional rules covering sideline occupancy.

(To be consistent with Law 8, the word “end” should have been used and not “side”.) Question: Can the tournament rules committee dictate that a coin flip not be used to determine the end (side) to defend (play from) without violating FIFA and USYS laws?

USSF answer (February 9, 2005):
Law 8 is not among the Laws that may be modified, even slightly, without the permission of the International Football Association Board‹the body that writes the Laws of the Game.


COACHES MUST BEHAVE RESPONSIBLY
Your question:
For any match, adult, pro, or youth, if a coach is abusively screaming and/or swearing at his players but not at anyone else, can he/she be dismissed?

USSF answer (February 7, 2005):
Law 5 tells us that the referee may take “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.” Abusive screaming and/or swearing at anyone would not seem to be responsible behavior.


GET OUT OF MY SPACE!
Your question:
Reported as one of the toughest calls for a basketball official is the charge-block decision when a defensive player steps in front of an offensive player impeding his progress to the basket. If the defender gets there early enough to be stationary at the time of collision, there is a foul charged to the offensive player.

Perhaps because they watch basketball, I see American youth players, even at the high school level, imitating this sort of defensive strategy. In addition to officiating, I watch a lot of soccer, and I don’t see the tactic employed outside the U.S.

My question is this — if a soccer defender steps in front of an attacker, denying the attacker his/her intended path toward goal, is getting there the split second to become stationary sufficient to merit a foul call against the attacker? Can you comment on points the smart official should look for in this play to determine if a defender is guilty of the foul of holding or the attacker is guilty of the foul of charging?

USSF answer (January 31, 2005):
In general, each player on the field is entitled to the area he or she occupies at any particular moment. However, it is also a fact that a player may not occupy space needed by an opponent if the occupying player is not playing the ball but instead preventing the opponent from getting into that space. If there is contact by the opponent, but initiated by the player who has jumped into a space to impede the opponent’s way or ability to play the ball, that is considered to be holding by the player. The opponent’s team would receive a direct free kick from the point of the foul.


GOALKEEPERS’ KNEES
Your question:
I was watching keepers get training from a MLS trainer at a camp. I was a bit surprised to see so many put their knee up when catch a ball (I was told they were not being taught this – they just did it). I told my daughter that I thought if she hit an opponent with her knee don’t be surprised if a PK was awarded and if I saw a keeper flying through the air – knee first and an attacker ducking because of it I’d likely award an IFK for dangerous play.

USSF answer (January 31, 2005):
May a goalkeeper be called for playing dangerously or fouling an opponent? Surely, but it is a matter for the referee to decide on a case-by-case basis. There is no clear, black-and-white answer. The referee’s decision would have to be based on the specific level of risk involved and that, in turn, is a function of the age, experience, and skill of the players.

That does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that goalkeepers are allowed to use their protection under the Spirit of the Laws to harm other players. When leaping for the ball, all players, including goalkeepers, should aim to play the ball at the highest point possible. The striker jumps as high as he can to get his head on the ball, but the goalkeeper has the advantage of needing only to have his hands high enough to play the ball.

If the goalkeeper’s jump appears to be natural, with the knee lifted as part of achieving balance or additional height, then there is probably no foul on the part of the goalkeeper. However, if the lifting of the knee appears to be unnatural or contrived, or if the goalkeeper raises the knee only when the attacker comes near to the ball‹this is a common goalkeeper maneuver to intimidate opponents rather than “self protection” or the equally facile argument that it is used to achieve greater height — the referee may reach the conclusion that the goalkeeper is no longer protecting himself or attempting to gain greater altitude, but is attempting to send a message to the opponent. That sort of play must be punished.


PLAYERS AND FLYING SHOES
Your question:
Would you allow the goal if, while taking the shot, the attacker’s shoe came off, forcing the goalkeeper to dodge the flying shoe and also fail in his attempt to block the shot (the ball went totally over the goal line under the upright and between the goal posts).

USSF answer (January 27, 2005):
We answered a similar question over a year ago, on September 23, 2003:
QUOTE
As defined in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” (Advice) and clear from the perspective of the Spirit of the Game, a foul is an unfair or unsafe action committed by a player against an opponent or the opposing team, on the field of play, while the ball is in play. (Advice 12.1) Although the loss of the shoe was inadvertent and accidental, it was also careless. A careless act of striking toward an opponent is punishable by a direct free kick for the opponent’s team, taken from the spot where the object (or fist) hit (or would have hit) its target (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).

Although the shooter wanted to play the ball when he kicked it and did not hit the goalkeeper with his shoe deliberately, he has still committed a foul. Direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team from the place where the shoe struck the goalkeeper (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).
END OF QUOTE

The only difference would be that in your case the shoe did not hit the goalkeeper; however the effect and the decision are be the same. The goal is not scored; restart with a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team from the place where the shoe would have hit the goalkeeper.


FOUL WEATHER GEAR
Your question:
I was looking through the “Official Sports” catalogue and was wondering what the policy is on Referee attire during rain and snow storms.

What about when it is not storming but it is really cold?

USSF answer (January 27, 2005):
Referees should exercise good sense in choosing what to wear during foul weather. If the weather is exceptionally cold or wet, the referee and assistant referees should dress appropriately, in accordance with the level of the game they are refereeing. However, on a high-level game, whether professional or amateur, the refereeing crew should not wear any garb that is not appropriate to a professional appearance. For other, lower-level games, track suits that clearly identify the officials as referees are suitable, together with caps and gloves.

You should remember that the players might not take kindly to a referee whose garb is warmer and/or dryer than what they have to wear on the field (despite our good intentions) so this factor should be taken into account as well.


CAUTION OR SEND OFF?
Your question:
Well after half-time, the Red sweeper is cited for his third foul, raising cries of “All day, Ref!” and “How many times, Sir?” from his Blue opponents. The Referee, knowing the “count”, has a brief, but pointed word with the offender, to the effect of “That’s it, no more!” with the unspoken but understood pledge of a PI Caution for any more inappropriate play. While not overheard, the Referee’s body language and demeanor let everyone know what was conveyed.

Ten minutes later, the player commits another foul, but this time, it is done with sufficient recklessness and force to deserve a Caution on its own.

The question is, therefore, can the Referee conjoin the facts of the anticipated Caution for PI, with a concurrent judgement of USB for the foul itself, and send of the sweeper for earning two Cautions? If so, what would be the correct mechanics for the display of cards?

(Personally, I used the principle of “a player, having earned a Caution, and before being issued the Caution, commits another act of misconduct, shall be sent off” to decide on a send off. My reasoning was that his fourth foul earned the first Caution (which he was aware was coming), and the presence of recklessness was itself the cause of the second caution.)

USSF answer (January 26, 2005):
Rather than having a hard and fast rule, the intelligent referee will base this decision on exactly what went on during the previous portion of the game and in this particular instance. If the card is warranted, the reasoning you suggested works fine. As for mechanics, display the yellow, display the yellow again, and then display the red card ‹all with consummate composure.


PLAY THE ADVANTAGE?
Your question:
I have a question about encroachment at a free kick, and whether Advantage applies.

Red is awarded a Free Kick at the top of the penalty arc, near the goal defended by Blue. Blue #8 stands ten yards away from the ball, on the penalty mark, as part of a defensive wall. As Red #3 is starting to take the kick, Blue #8 runs a few yards forward toward the ball. When Red #3 actually kicks the ball, Blue #8 is still inside the Penalty Area, six or eight yards from the ball.

As the Referee moves the whistle to his mouth, the ball caroms off the head of Blue #8, then flies directly into the goal.

Blue #8 has failed to respect the distance at the free kick, a Law 12 violation, and his action was not trifling. Can the Referee apply advantage, and award the goal to Red? Or must the Referee consider that the restart was not properly taken, likely caution Blue #8, and order the kick retaken (ATR 13.5)?

I know that we have a decision matrix for resolving violations by attackers and/or defenders at a Penalty Kick, but I wasn’t certain whether similar principles could be applied to Free Kicks.

USSF answer (January 25, 2005):
Of course the referee may apply the advantage clause in this situation. The referee may award the goal and then take any appropriate disciplinary action against the player who failed to remain the required distance from the ball.


CAUTIONABLE OR NOT?
Your question:
Let me say that I’ve been enjoying the Extra Player (a rostered but virtual Outside Agent) situation because it is so confusingly intriguing. You’ve introduced me to a very slippery slope.

The referee whistles a stoppage and discovers an Extra Player. The Extra Player is normally cautioned, removed from field and game restarted with Drop Ball —
BUT what if the Extra Player is involved in the stoppage by:
1)Encroaching a Free Kick, Penalty Kick, Goal Kick, Corner Kick, Kickoff or impedes a Throw-in
= the restart will be a re-do Yes No

2)Is Encroached/Impeded while executing any of the above
= the restart will be a re-do Yes No

3)Dissents from referee’s ruling
= Cautioned again Yes No

4)Persists in unsporting play
= Caution is suspended Yes No

5)Commits a reckless act
= Cautioned again Yes No

6)Commits Violence, Spits, Uses language (or body language) that is Offensive, Abusive, Insulting
= Red Card

I’m betting these are all YES answers. How’d I do?

USSF answer (January 20, 2005):
Your first statement: “The referee whistles a stoppage and discovers an Extra Player. The extra player is normally cautioned, removed from field and game restarted with Drop Ball,” is incorrect. It would be correct only if the extra player was the reason for the stoppage. But, because the “extraness” of the player wasn’t discovered until after play had been stopped, the stoppage must have occurred for some other reason. The general principle here is that the extra player, despite being extra, is always fully responsible for all his or her acts performed prior to being discovered (the only logical exception is scoring a goal unless the “extraness” is discovered before play is restarted). If the extra player is discovered only during a stoppage, play is restarted by whatever caused the stoppage (except kick-off for a goal) after the extra player is dealt with.

Provided that the “extra player” is either a named substitute or a player who had left the field with the referee’s permission, the answers to your questions are:
1) Yes.
2) Yes.
3) Yes.
4) No; why would the caution be “suspended”?
5) Yes; and then sent off for having received a second caution in the game.
6) Yes.

2004 Part 3

SLIDE TACKLING
Your question:
Is there an official US Soccer position regarding slide tackling in youth play? It seems many players are not trained to do it, increasing the potential for an injury.

How does position affect whether a foul occurred ­ is it a foul if from behind where the player cannot see it coming? If the sliding player hits the player with the ball regardless of position (from front or behind) ­ is it a foul? Does hitting ball matter as to whether a foul occurred? Does hitting the ball first and then the player lessen any foul? If the cleats are pointing forward towards the player with the ball as the tackle is made – is that automatically a foul?

I look forward to your reply. USSF answer (September 29, 2004): What follows is what we teach our referees. Unfortunately, that does not always mean that they put it into practice correctly. Cleats exposed and pointing at someone should be considered dangerous play where younger, less skilled players are involved. At higher competitive levels, the referee should determine if the player is exposing the cleats to intimidate or cause injury to an opponent.

A slide tackle is legal, provided it is performed legally. There is nothing illegal about a slide tackle by itself‹no matter where it is done and no matter the direction from which it comes. In other words, it is not an infringement to tackle fairly from behind‹if there was no foul committed.

There is nothing illegal, by itself, about sliding tackles or playing the ball while on the ground. These acts become the indirect free kick foul known as playing dangerously (“dangerous play”) only if the action unfairly takes away an opponent’s otherwise legal play of the ball (for players at the youth level, this definition is simplified even more as “playing in a manner considered to be dangerous to an opponent”). At minimum, this means that an opponent must be within the area of danger which the player has created. These same acts can become the direct free kick fouls known as kicking or attempting to kick an opponent or tripping or attempting to trip or tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball only if there was contact with the opponent or, in the opinion of the referee, the opponent was forced to react to avoid the kick or the trip. The referee may warn players about questionable acts of play on the ground, but would rarely caution a player unless the act was reckless.

How can tackles become illegal? There are many ways but two of the most common are by making contact with the opponent first (before contacting the ball) and by striking the opponent with a raised upper leg before, during, or after contacting the ball with the lower leg. Referees must be vigilant and firm in assessing any tackle, because the likely point of contact is the lower legs of the opponent and this is a particularly vulnerable area. We must not be swayed by protests of “But I got the ball, ref” and we must be prepared to assess the proper penalty for misconduct where that is warranted.

FIFA has emphasized the great danger in slide tackles from behind because, if this tackle is not done perfectly, the potential for injury is so much greater. Accordingly, referees are advised that, when a player does commit a foul while tackling from behind, it should not be just a simple foul (e.g., tripping) but a foul and misconduct. The likelihood of danger is greater when the tackle is committed from behind and the probability of a foul having been committed is greater solely for this reason — due in large part to the “can’t prepare for the tackle” element when it comes from an unseen direction. In fact, if the referee decides that the foul while tackling from behind was done in such a way as to endanger the safety of the opponent, the proper action is to send the violator off the field with a red card.

The referee must judge each situation of a tackle from behind individually, weighing the guidelines published by FIFA and the U. S. Soccer Federation, the positions of the players, the way the tackler uses his/her foot or feet, the “temperature” of the game, the age/skill of the players, and the attitude of the players. What might be a caution (yellow card) in this game might be trifling in another game or a send-off (red card) in a third game. To make the proper judgment on such plays, the referee must establish early on a feel for the game being played on this day at this moment and must be alert to sudden changes in the “temperature” of this game. Much depends on the level of play, whether recreational or competitive, skilled or less developed, very young or adult. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.


IS THIS TOUCH LEGAL?
Your question:
Player A makes a throw in. Player B passes the ball back to player A. Player A is still outside the touchline and he plays the ball to keep it from crossing the line. Did player A illegally touch the ball the second time? If so, would it have been legal for Player A to touch the ball if he was standing on the touch line instead of outside the touch line?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
This play is legal because, having thrown the ball in, A has not touched it again directly (B’s touch intervened) and it is also legal because A’s play of the ball was on the field even if most of the rest of him was not. Player A is then expected to return fully to the field as quickly as possible.


NO “COUNTDOWN” ALLOWED!
Your question:
My son plays in a youth league. The ref in the game, as a courtesy, counts down the final ten seconds of the game. A player on my son’s team, on a breakaway, launches a powerful kick from 40 yards out while the ref’s countdown is between 1 and 2. The ball goes in, over the out stretched hands of the goalie. However, the goal was disallowed because the ref said the ball crossed the goal line after the clock ended. If this is true, what would have happened if there was a penalty on the play? I guess that I am used to basketball (where as long as the shot left the player’s hands before the buzzer) or if the quarterback throws a pass that is caught in the end zone after time is expired, it stills counts as being good. I realize that if a defender stopped it and we kicked in the rebound, it should not count. But if the ball is in the air (untouched) why are we being penalized for 1 or two seconds on the clock? In addition, this was the head referee who either had to be watching his watch to count down correctly, therefore not seeing the play, or not watching his watch and just counting down. What is the correct ruling? I have been a coach for 10 years now, and I have never seen this play. It occurs to me that in most major games with injury time (not the case in this youth league); the referees tend to end the game when there is still some threat to score. Once that threat ends, THEN they end the game. I’ve never seen a major soccer game that ends as one player has a clear breakaway with no one between him and the goalie, because time ran out.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Courtesy has nothing to do with it; the referee should not be counting aloud the time remaining in a match. There is too much chance that something will occur, even in the “final” second, that could extend the game. (Now, if the game were being played under high school rules, with an official timekeeper and a field clock visible to all, the answer would be different.)

Under the Laws of the Game, the game ends when the referee deems it to have ended, whether the ball is in the air or on the ground. However, the wise referee will recognize that ending the game when a shot is being taken is a sure way to create trouble for oneself. We have only to think of the FIFA Referee who, during a 1978 World Cup match, blew the whistle just before the ball entered the goal totally uncontested from a corner kick by Brazil. The referee, widely experienced and not near the mandatory retirement age, never received another assignment from FIFA.


GOALKEEPER DOWN
Your question:
Situation: A competitive Youth match — A forward is approaching the goal and defender is at their side. The keeper approaches to make a play. The keeper makes a good play on the ball but the keeper and forward collide. The ball rebounds and stays in play. While the ball rebounds and during the keeper/forward collision, the keeper is shaken up (not faking it) and lies still on the ground. The keeper is not obviously hurt — no blood showing, no obvious broken bones, so no immediate need to stop the match for a serious injury. The ball rebounds off several players and within a few seconds (say < 5 seconds) another attacker kicks the ball into the goal.

What is the letter and then also the spirit of the law in this situation? Should the referee allow play to continue, as they would most likely do if a field player was shaken up? Or is the letter and spirit of the law such that it says a team must have a keeper and since the keeper is shaken up, lying on the ground and not trying to get up to make another save or trying to keep the rebounding ball from entering the goal, the team really does not have a keeper. In the later, the should the referee really stop the match — due to the fact the team, in essence, does not have a keeper?

Appreciate your perspective. The question is, when a keeper is shaken up and not playing as a keeper because they are lying on the ground, what is the advice for referees — to stop play or to keep play going (as we would do with a field player shaken up) until the play is neutralized and then stop the match.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Law 3 requires that each team must have a goalkeeper, but there is no requirement that the goalkeeper always be on the field of play or in an upright position. While we generally give goalkeepers the benefit of the doubt in case of injury–to wit, they do not have to leave the field when being treated for injury–neither are referees required to stop the game for anything other than serious injury. However, some consideration must be given for the age and skill level of the players. The intelligent referee will apply common sense to each individual situation.


PLAYER ON THE GROUND
Your question:
A player accedentially falls to the ground with the ball next to them. An opponent attempts to play the ball, while the player on the ground is attempting (unsuccessfully) to get up (still on ground). The player on the ground is kicked by the opponent. Is the call dangerous play on the player on the ground, or is it a penal foul for the opponent that kicked him?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
If the player on the ground is truly attempting to get up and out of the way of other players, and is not deliberately interfering with the opponent who is trying to kick the ball, then the referee should call kicking on the opponent; the restart is a direct free kick for the team of the player on the ground. However, if, in the opinion of the referee, the player on the ground is deliberately interfering with the opponent’s ability to play the ball, that player should be cautioned for unsporting behavior and the restart will be an indirect free kick for the opponent’s team.

And please note that it is perfectly legal to play the ball while on the ground, as long as no player is put in danger.


PLAYERS OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY
Your question:
Two relatively similar situations. In the first, two players from the team taking the kick are both completely off the field. One of the players taps the ball, the other player starts dribbling toward the goal. Is this a legal play. Should the second player be cautioned for illegally entering the field of play, since his leaving the field is not in the normal course? The second situation is similar, except that one of the players is on the field and taps the ball. The other one who was off the field dribbles toward the goal. I’m guessing that the answer is the same.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
While there are a number of occasions during which a player may be off the field of play without the permission of the referee, there is no need in the cases you describe for more than one player to be off the field to put the ball back into play. Neither is there any need for either of the players to be cautioned, provided the referee exercises common sense and suggests that the player return to the field NOW if he or she wishes to avoid the consequences.

Yes, it is perfectly legitimate for one player to simply tap the ball and for the other to begin dribbling toward the goal. In the second instance, there was no need for the second player to have been off the field. The referee should have acted to prevent this.


SUB REMOVED BY REFEREE MAY BE USED LATER
Your question:
An answer posted in July (see “PLAYER ALLOWED TO STAY ON AFTER SECOND CAUTION; WHAT TO DO?,” dated 28 July 2004) asks whether the substitute removed from the game after it was discovered that the player for whom he had been substituted should have been sent off because of a second caution may enter the game at a later substitution opportunity.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Yes, the substitute who was removed may be used as a substitute later in the game.


LEAVING THE GAME WITHOUT PERMISSION
Your question:
Quick Question … U13 Rec, 11v11, full field, 35 minute halves … gold vs green … about 20 minutes into the first half … play was stopped for a throw-in for gold … as I [cr] was moving into position for the throw-in I noticed a gold player at the line and ar1 signaling for a substitution … so far so good .. then, ar1 pointed across the field toward ar2 … he was standing at attention with his flag straight up … I asked the sub to stand @ the line and the thrower to hold the ball … ar2 informed me that a gold player had left the field .. where? … there! … and he pointed to the parking lot at the far end of the field where a player with a gold jersey was leaving the park … the player did not return … how should I have handled this? .. leaving the field w/o the referee’s permission is a yellow card offense, but there was no one to card.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Not a problem! Technically the referee should imply write up the infringement and include it in the match report, and let the team officials know this is being done. However, with youth players there is always the possibility that “Mom” has come and taken “Sonny” or “Sis” away for another family event, so the referee should inquire before taking drastic action.


MISCONDUCT AFTER THE GAME IS OVER
Your question:
In regards to the new prohibition on the display of cards after a match, what is the proper procedure by which to deal with post-game misconduct? Specifically, what are you to do when a player commits a sending-off offense? Are we to withold his player pass, as we would for a send-off during the game?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
The referee may no longer show the card after the game has ended, but the rest of the procedure remains the same: Note the player’s name, team, number, time, offense, etc., and write it up for the match report. Whatever other things are required by the competition for a send-off or caution should also be done. Just don’t show the card.


FOOLISH REFEREES AND BOORISH COACHES
Your question:
What is the appropriate way to question the legitimacy of a goal during a game? We were involved in a game where the winning goal was scored on a handball which the referee did not see but the linesmand called it. The referee called goal…then no goal after the linesman called the hand ball…. then goal again after the opposing coach ran out onto the field and told the ref that he could not change his initial call of goal no matter what. We stayed on our line and did not know what to do.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
There is no appropriate way to question the legitimacy of any call by the referee during the game. The referee should have consulted with his assistant referee (aka “linesman”) and based the final decision on that information. The fact that the referee then once again changed the decision because the other coach said that a decision once made cannot be changed was a deplorable error and mistake. Unfortunately, once the game was restarted with a kick-off, no further change was possible.

We apologize to you for this foolish behavior by the referee. There’s not much we can do about the boorishness of the opposing coach.


INADVERTENT WHISTLE–USE YOUR HEAD, REF!
Your question:
U9 boys travel game: The whistle was blown inadvertently while a player is dribbling the ball unchallenged down the field. The ref immediately says “my mistake play.” (The ball was still in the field of play.) Play continues for about 1 minute and a goal is scored. The coach who had the goal scored against him argues that the goal should not be allowed because the referee didn’t “drop the ball” after the inadvertent whistle. The referee reversed the goal.
1. Since the referee would have the option of returning a drop ball to the sole possession of the team the whistle effected, and then let play continue for the amount of time it continued one could argue the goal should be allowed.
2. The other coach argued that in wasn’t a drop ball so the later goal should not be allowed.

What would your advice be in this situation.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Whether or not a goal was “scored” and then taken away makes no difference. (No goal is possible under these circumstances unless the referee has compounded the error by allowing the game to be restarted with a kick-off.) The only possible thing for the referee to do once he or she has blown the whistle inadvertently is to restart with a dropped ball. The drop would be taken at the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.


PROPER KICK-OFF
Your question:
I got a question regarding the execution of a Kick-off. This happenend in a High School game. The Referee starts the game and blows the whistle. The player who takes the Kick Off has one foot on the ball. She pushes the ball forward but still keeps the foot on the ball. So the ball is kicked and moves forward which normally constitutes a legal Kick-Off. But now she passes the ball back to a teammate who is standing on her side of the field. She never took her foot of the ball until she played it to her teammate. The referee let this happen because he didn’t know what to do about it but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong. We were talking about that situation in one of our referee meetings and I heard all different answers like “two-touch” or “Illegal Kick-off”. In my opinion this is trickery which should be penalized with a caution and an IDF. Mabe you can give a answer to that matter.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game, the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward. In addition, the kicker may not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player. “Kick” means to impel the ball with the foot and then release it; it does not mean to roll the ball with the foot on top of the ball. The “kick-off” you describe was not properly taken and should have been called back and retaken. There is no requirement for a caution.


AGE DATES FOR YOUTH COMPETITION
Your question:
Who decides the age/ birth date cutoff dates? National or State or Local Associations? Where can I go to find the ages for the age brackets?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
All of the above, depending on the particular competition. For national data, check with USYS at usyouthsoccer.org. For state data, check with your state association (whose Internet data you can find at the USYS site). For local data, check with your local association or club.


BLAZING CARDS!
Your question:
In a youth league, can a referee give a yellow card to a coach because the coach and substitue players are closer then 1 yard from the side lines ?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game the referee may not show a card to any coach. On the other hand, the rules of some competition do permit this, just as some competitions limit how close the non-playing personnel and team officials may be to the touch line. The referee should always seek to avoid giving cards to anyone if there is another way to solve the problem without sacrificing good game management. One good way to do that is to advise the team officials of the rule of the competition, rather than rushing in with cards ablaze.


RULES FOR UNDER 8S
Your question:
Are all fouls committed in the penalty box by the defense taking from the spot of the foul as indirect kicks?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
According to the rules adopted by the USYS for 2004, Law 12, “all fouls shall result in a direct free kick.” In addition, Law 13, “all kicks are direct and all opponents are at least four (4) yards from the ball until it is in play.” There is no penalty kick in Under 8 soccer.

Local rules might be different. You will have to check with your local competition.


USING THE ADVANTAGE CLAUSE
Your question:
Last night while calling a highschool game, an attacking player beat the defending team’s sweeper (3 feet outside the penalty box), the sweeper seeing that he is beaten throws his hip into the attacking player taking the attacking player off his feet. At the same moment the Attacking player’s teammate (Outside midfielder) runs onto the ball in the “box” and regains the advantage and subsequently miss handles the ball out of play. What is the right decision for the referee?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
The “right decision” is to make a decision. Award the advantage for the “hip throw”–advantage sustained long enough (2-3 seconds)–teammate with the ball subsequently doesn’t score, but not as a result of the original foul. The only remaining question would be whether the “hip throw” was reckless or performed with excessive force and therefore cardable at the next stoppage.


PROPER MECHANICS ON A GOAL SCORED
Your question:
There was a shot on goal, it bounced off goalie’s arms and slowly heading into the goal net, the goalie turned and dive toward the ball at about waist height and grabbed the ball, threw the ball back into field of play, the goalie’s teammate kicked the ball upfield right away.

The center ref was not sure the ball had passed the plane of goalie line, so he looked at the AR, and the AR was running toward the upfield, the center ref thought the AR’s running was just keeping up with the ball movement and hence no call was made. Later the AR told the center ref the ball did break the plane and his run toward upfield was to indicate a goal.

So my question is, should the center ref stopped the play to ask the AR and resume the play with an drop kick if it was not a goal, or the AR shall flag the center ref to verbally communicate the call for goal?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Correct procedure for the lead assistant referee when a goal is scored and the ball returns to the field is to raise the flag vertically to get the referee¹s attention. When the referee stops play, the lead AR puts flag straight down, runs a short distance up the touch line toward the halfway line to affirm that a goal has been scored. The lead AR then takes up the position for a kick-off and then records the goal after the trail assistant referee has recorded it.

If this procedure (from the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees” 2004) had been followed, there would not have been any problem.


AR POSITIONING AND MECHANICS
Your question:
A team took a shot on the opposing teams goalie and the goalie stopped it near the line. The center looked at the AR to see if it was a goal but there was no signal at that time mainly due to the fact that the AR was 25-30 yards from the end line. The goalie then played the ball out to a team mate which then passed it to another team mate. After 25-30 seconds after the goalie “saved” the ball the AR then raised his flag and signaled that it was a goal. I know if the ball had been kicked out of bounds and a stoppage of play took place and then a restart occurred then the goal would not have counted. So my question then becomes what is the correct course of action or was that the correct course?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
According to the information you supplied, the assistant referee was in no position to make the call. Therefore no decision other than whether or not to “score the goal” should or could have been made. The answer is no goal. We are prepared to join the party to tar and feather the AR.


NO OFFSIDE, BUT POSSIBLE IMPEDING
Your question:
Corner kick, player in offside position in front of GK (player on goal line and corner kick with ball 1 yd off goal line). Ball kicked directly into goal. However, player in offside position interfered with play by screening keeper. A clear offside violation if restart was DFK near corner.

Exception in Law 11 is when “player receives ball directly from” Goal Kick, Throw In or Corner Kick. Here player never received ball but violated another aspect of the offside law. My first thought is guilty – but ???????

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
The player in this situation may not be punished for infringing any aspect of Law 11, as it is impossible to be offside directly from a corner kick. However, it is an offense if the player who is standing in front of a goalkeeper when a corner kick is being taken takes advantage of the position to impede the goalkeeper before the kick is taken and before the ball is in play. And, even if the referee is so naive as to fail to deal with that offense, a player who impedes the goalkeeper’s ability to play the ball, without attempting to play the ball himself, must be punished by the award of an indirect free kick for the goalkeeper’s team.


SLIDE TACKLING
Your question:
Is there an official US Soccer position regarding slide tackling in youth play? It seems many players are not trained to do it, increasing the potential for an injury.

How does position affect whether a foul occurred ­ is it a foul if from behind where the player cannot see it coming? If the sliding player hits the player with the ball regardless of position (from front or behind) ­ is it a foul? Does hitting ball matter as to whether a foul occurred? Does hitting the ball first and then the player lessen any foul? If the cleats are pointing forward towards the player with the ball as the tackle is made – is that automatically a foul?

I look forward to your reply. USSF answer (September 29, 2004): What follows is what we teach our referees. Unfortunately, that does not always mean that they put it into practice correctly. Cleats exposed and pointing at someone should be considered dangerous play where younger, less skilled players are involved. At higher competitive levels, the referee should determine if the player is exposing the cleats to intimidate or cause injury to an opponent.

A slide tackle is legal, provided it is performed legally. There is nothing illegal about a slide tackle by itself‹no matter where it is done and no matter the direction from which it comes. In other words, it is not an infringement to tackle fairly from behind‹if there was no foul committed.

There is nothing illegal, by itself, about sliding tackles or playing the ball while on the ground. These acts become the indirect free kick foul known as playing dangerously (“dangerous play”) only if the action unfairly takes away an opponent’s otherwise legal play of the ball (for players at the youth level, this definition is simplified even more as “playing in a manner considered to be dangerous to an opponent”). At minimum, this means that an opponent must be within the area of danger which the player has created. These same acts can become the direct free kick fouls known as kicking or attempting to kick an opponent or tripping or attempting to trip or tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball only if there was contact with the opponent or, in the opinion of the referee, the opponent was forced to react to avoid the kick or the trip. The referee may warn players about questionable acts of play on the ground, but would rarely caution a player unless the act was reckless.

How can tackles become illegal? There are many ways but two of the most common are by making contact with the opponent first (before contacting the ball) and by striking the opponent with a raised upper leg before, during, or after contacting the ball with the lower leg. Referees must be vigilant and firm in assessing any tackle, because the likely point of contact is the lower legs of the opponent and this is a particularly vulnerable area. We must not be swayed by protests of “But I got the ball, ref” and we must be prepared to assess the proper penalty for misconduct where that is warranted.

FIFA has emphasized the great danger in slide tackles from behind because, if this tackle is not done perfectly, the potential for injury is so much greater. Accordingly, referees are advised that, when a player does commit a foul while tackling from behind, it should not be just a simple foul (e.g., tripping) but a foul and misconduct. The likelihood of danger is greater when the tackle is committed from behind and the probability of a foul having been committed is greater solely for this reason — due in large part to the “can’t prepare for the tackle” element when it comes from an unseen direction. In fact, if the referee decides that the foul while tackling from behind was done in such a way as to endanger the safety of the opponent, the proper action is to send the violator off the field with a red card.

The referee must judge each situation of a tackle from behind individually, weighing the guidelines published by FIFA and the U. S. Soccer Federation, the positions of the players, the way the tackler uses his/her foot or feet, the “temperature” of the game, the age/skill of the players, and the attitude of the players. What might be a caution (yellow card) in this game might be trifling in another game or a send-off (red card) in a third game. To make the proper judgment on such plays, the referee must establish early on a feel for the game being played on this day at this moment and must be alert to sudden changes in the “temperature” of this game. Much depends on the level of play, whether recreational or competitive, skilled or less developed, very young or adult. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.


NEW GOLD SHIRT?
Your question:
I have seen new gold referee shirts with checks available. Are they authorized for use?

USSF answer (September 20, 2004):
No, those shirts are not approved.


GOALKEEPER’S WATER BOTTLE IS AN OUTSIDE AGENT
Your question:
This situation occurred in a recent U-13  Boys competitive tournament game: The attacking team, one goal down, brought the ball into the opponent¹s penalty and put a shot on goal that appeared to be headed into the goal.  The ball struck the goalkeeper¹s water cooler (about 12 inches in diameter) which was setting just inside the left goalpost with its front edge just beyond the goal line.  The ball rebounded into the field of play having never completely crossed the goal line and the referee allowed play to continue. Several of the attacking players complained to the point where the referee stopped play, yelled at one of the attacking players and eventually dismissed an angry parent who had come out onto the field. He awarded an IFK for the defending team at the spot where he stopped play.

Was the referee correct to allow play to continue after the water cooler prevented a goal from being scored? What would be the correct restart if he was not correct? Should the goalkeeper be cautioned for setting his cooler where he did?

It seems this could all have been avoided if the AR had properly checked the nets and goal area prior to the start of the second half.

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
Don’t put all the blame on the assistant referee. The referee should have been closer to the scene than any AR and should have told the goalkeeper to move the water cooler well away from the goal immediately, long before the ball struck it.

As to the goal, the referee should have stopped play immediately when the ball rebounded from the cooler and restarted with a dropped ball at the place on the goal area line (the “six-yard line”) nearest to where the outside agent (the water cooler) interfered with the ball. No caution is necessary for anyone in this case.


IN A FOG?
Your question:
At a tournament with games scheduled on the hour all day long; the first game at 8:00AM was delayed by fog. The fog was very thick, but the ref, standing in the center circle could see both goals and all four corner flags; wanted to start the game. Standing at one goal you could not see the opposite goal and the assistant refs could not see each other. The coaches could not see the full pitch and did not want to start play until the fog cleared. Is there a USSF “fog” guide line to follow?

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
There are no fixed rules for determining when to call a game for poor visibility, whether it be fog or darkness. Once the game starts, the referee is the sole judge of whether or not the light is insufficient to see. Some referees have common sense; others do not. One common sense decision might be that if the assistant referees cannot see one another, there is not enough light for the players to see.

If all else fails, the referee should follow the Spirit of the Game and ensure that the players are afforded safety, equal treatment, and are able to enjoy the game. That would not happen if they could not see what they were doing.


GOALKEEPER RELEASE OF BALL AT PENALTY AREA LINE; CORNER KICK PLACEMENT
Your question:
It must be my imagination, but in professional play, keepers consistently run up to the end of the penalty area and kick the ball outside of the penalty area (sometimes using the mid circle at the top of the box), has the law changed to allow this?

Has the law ever determined where the ball can be placed at the corner? Half-in & half-out.

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
As long as the goalkeeper releases the ball before leaving the penalty area‹and does it within six seconds of having taken possession‹he or she may kick the ball wherever and whenever it seems best. Marginal offenses of this nature are either trifling or doubtful and hence, even though an actual infringement of the Law, should be ignored (or, at most, noted with a warning).

The lawmakers have established that at least a portion of the ball must be in contact with either the corner arc or that portion of the goal line or touch line that is within the corner area.


ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE LAWS OF THE GAME; PLACEMENT FOR OFFSIDE RESTART; REFEREES NOT FOLLOWING GUIDELINES
Your question:
The AR in the picture is always standing even with the offending attacking player, not the second last defender. Do they/did they used to do it this way, or is this an artist assuming something that did not get caught?

Part II
Seems if an attacker was WAY offside – like near the goal area and the 2nd last defender was near the halfway line, then restarting with an IFK where the attacker was would be unfair. In practice I generally see the kick taken from where both the AR usually is – the 2nd last defender.

I know what the ATR says – but it does not match what I see (no big deal).

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
If the attacker has advanced beyond the second-last defender, then the assistant referee is expected to move with that attacker. Although the AR may appear to be with the attacker in some situations, in reality, the AR has followed the ball when it was played past the second to last defender (as he should) and then stopped, squared, and signaled when it became evident that the attacker in the offside position had become involved in active play.

The restart for offside is where the offside player was when he or she became offside, not where the second-last defender was.

As for Part II, what can anyone say when confronted with the suggestion that, perhaps, just maybe, some referees are not performing their duties as prescribed in Advice to Referees or Guide to Procedures? All referees should resolve not to make the same mistake that apparently a number of our colleagues are apparently making. In any event, fairness is not the issue. An attacker has violated the Law and the Law prescribes the how, when, and where of the punishment. It doesn’t need to be “fair,” only just.


NEPOTISM
Your question:
Is there any statement by us soccer or an appropriate youth soccer organization that addresses nepotism and refereeing? We have two teen brothers, one who refs games in which a team is coached by his brother and mother. The mother (the youth soccer president) claims no one else is qualified, and refuses to recognize that this might be a conflict of interest. What do you think? Thanks for your time!

USSF answer (September 9, 2004):
In the 2004 edition of the Referee Administrative Handbook, p. 38, it suggests that assistant referees should not be related in any way to either team participating in the game unless it is impossible to get other affiliated officials assigned. Unfortunately, sometimes the referee game assignors do not have enough bodies to go around and ask parents or siblings to referee games in which their kin will be playing. The pertinent text says that referees “should not referee in any match in which they have a vested interest.” If a family member is playing and/or coaching, the referee has a vested interest. A complaint should be sent to the league and the state association.


SECOND TOUCH BY ‘KEEPER?
Your question:
I was watching a Mexican League match on T.V. and saw a play where the G.K. had the ball in the palm of his right hand (not extended) and was slowly walking the ball toward the edge of the penalty area. Everyone except for one attacker had cleared the penalty area and was in front of keeper. The lone attacker then came in from behind the keeper and knocked the ball from his hand using only his head. There did not seem to be any other contact other than the ball being “headed” out of the keepers hand. The attacker then collected the ball, pivoted and shot the ball into the net. The center referee then blew his whistle and disallowed the goal. Obviously, there was no clear explanation from the official as to what he had sanctioned. On the replay (and it was replayed quite a few times!) you could see AR2 raising his flag. There was no way to know if the center blew his whistle as a result of the flag or if he saw something on his own. Unfortunately the replay stopped short of showing if the AR “wiggled” his flag or simply raised it (I was thinking that the AR was signaling that the attacker was offside since he was not behind the ball).

To make matters worse, in the second half of the same match, the same thing occurred again! A different attacker “headed” the ball out of the keepers hand. As the attacker attempted to pass the keeper in order to collect the ball, the keeper basically grabbed the attacker and pulled him down! This time the referee swallowed his whistle and did not sanction either the “heading” of the ball or the fact that the keeper committed a major foul. The referee should have awarded a PK and the keeper should have been sent off!

I am not making this up! This was the opening match for Pumas of Mexico against the University of Guadalajara (Tecos). You have got to get a copy of this to review.

So, what is the correct ruling?

USSF answer (September 9, 2004):
The referee’s decision on the ball headed from the goalkeeper’s hand non-dangerously should be “no infringement.” This is the result of a new question and answer in the IFAB’s Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game for 2004.

As to the possible penalty kick, there isn’t much we can say about that, as we haven’t yet seen it.

NOTE: If anyone has a spare copy of the Pumas-Tecos game, I would like a copy of it, please.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION
AMENDED ANSWER DATED SEPTEMBER 8, 2004
Your question:
Question:I was just reading through the FIFA Q& A for 2004 and I have come upon 2 points which interest me and also confuse me to some degree. According the the document:
Law 12 21. If a goalkeeper is bouncing the ball, may an opponent play the ball as it touches the ground, provided he is not guilty of dangerous play?
Yes
22. After taking possession of the ball, a goalkeeper allows it to lie on his open hand. An opponent comes from behind him and heads the ball from his hand. Is this permitted?
This is permitted since the goalkeeper does not have full possession of the ball and the action of the opponent is not dangerous.

When I read ATR 12.16 and 12.17 I would have to interpret different things regarding such challenges for possession with the GK. I’m slightly surprised that FIFA would interpret the law in this way, but I can see it coming as part of their emphasis on supporting attacking soccer. My question is, what should we referees in the USA do regarding this tweak in interpretation. I’m assuming the USSF will be coming out with a revision to ATR or a position paper eventually) Until, something does come out, should we be enforcing the law in the way the ATR notes, or the way the Q&A notes? Thank you for any advice you can offer.

USSF AMENDED answer (September 8, 2004)(was August 4, 2004):
We are pleased to see that you are keeping up with more than just The Laws of The Game. FIFA’s Questions and Answers is an important document which has been used in the past to announce important changes in how to interpret various aspects of the Law. You have pointed to two of them (and there are others in the new version of the Q&A. Since FIFA officially published this on July 1, it becomes effective immediately world-wide and we are all obliged to officiate in accordance with our understanding of its guidelines. USSF is in the process of seeking clarification from FIFA regarding several of the new interpretations and, when we are clear about them, it is likely that there will be an announcement to assist referees in understanding what is new in the 2004 version. Where this means changes in Advice to Referees, we will include that information as well.

Meanwhile, our understanding of the provisions you have identified is that the ball is playable by an opponent at the moment the ball hits the ground when the goalkeeper has obviously released it‹but not if the goalkeeper is in the process of actively distributing the ball. The ball is playable by an opponent attempting to head it if the ball is being held in the open hand of the goalkeeper‹but not if the goalkeeper is in the process of distributing the ball. However, in either case, the opponent’s action must not be dangerous.


ALERTING THE GOALKEEPER NOT NECESSARY
Your question:
In an adult amateur game, I the center referee called a DFK at 20 yds. from goal for the attacking team. After showing the ‘no restart until the whistle sounds’, moving the defense 10 yds. from the ball and positioning myself; I blew the whistle, shot and goal occurred. I was then surrounded by the defense and approached on the field by the manager telling me I should have made sure the goalie was ready for play to restart. He claims that he was still positioning his wall. I said that was his problem, a wall is not a right, I told him to leave the field which he did. We restarted with a kickoff, the goal stands. It took about 2 to 4 seconds after moving the wall back that I was in position and blew the whistle. Does all look well to you?

USSF answer (September 1, 2004):
The goalkeeper should be ready at all times. There is no need to alert the goalkeeper at kick-offs, at penalty kicks, or at free kicks or corner kicks. In fact, the defending team has no “right” under the Laws of the Game to form a wall, as this is simply a way to waste time. The kicking team has the right to be able to take the kick quickly and without interference.


THERE HAVE BEEN NO/ZERO/RIEN/NIL/KEINE CHANGES IN OFFSIDE!
Your question:
Your recent response to the offside query about the Olympic Women’s USA-Japan game was done while I was composing the same question about those 3 USA players trapped offside while another USA player dashed forward and scored the winning goal. This situation also occurred in an Olympic Men’s game (I forget the teams) where a 15 foot pass was made to a player who was way offside. He nonchalantly let the ball slip in front of him while an onside player (you now use the term ‘onside’ I see) ran behind him, got the ball and scored the winning goal. In prior times these were automatic calls of offside. A sleepy referee could feel comfortable where a player was offside knowing that any pass forward would get a whistle toot.

So, without any re-wording of the laws we have a dramatically changed game. We now have a ‘tactical offside’ in the game. The offside traps that teams practice so much are questionable practices now. This new emphasis on application of the laws should have been preceded with drum rolls, fanfare and sky rockets because that much of an impact has been made.

Three well-schooled referees can administer a re-emphasized offside call, but it will be an extreme problem for all those many, many games controlled by a single referee. Spotting the offside positioned player was previously enough, and that’s not so easy a feat for a lone ref. Now the other attacking players will also have to be monitored with precision. I foresee great problems at all amateur levels. What we need now is advice to referees – and to coaches, and to fans by multiple publications.

We have three levels of rules for soccer. Those drawn up by FIFA, those devised by competitions, those applied by referees. I can see lone referees announcing before the game that they will not apply the New Offside Call (NOC) – they won’t NOC the game.

What advice is pertinent now?

USSF answer (September 1, 2004):
There has been NO major change in any portion of Law 11 nor in the Federation’s interpretation of the Law. We have used the term “onside” for many years and even issued a list of correctly-spelled terms a few years ago that removed the Anglicized hyphen from on-side, just as it is removed from off-side. The information in the Advice to Referees continues to apply.

The player in the offside situation in the men’s game in the Olympics clearly indicated his noninvolvement in play, as is required by the Law, by standing at attention. This is a legal tactic approved at the highest levels and perfectly permissible to play at any level. In fact, it was used to good effect by Brazil at the 1994 World Cup held here in the United States.

As to the three sorts of rules for soccer, they do exist: the Laws of the Game, the rules of the competition, and the way the referee chooses to call the game on any given day. And there is nothing that can be done about it, as long as state or national administrators are lax in ensuring that competitions follow the Laws of the Game, rather than going off on their own; as long as assessors and administrators are lax in failing to reprimand and punish referees for not following the Laws of the Game and the directives of the Federation; and as long as instructors fail to provide the proper path to enlightenment.


REVIEWING THE “4 D’s”
Your question:
A ball is played forward towards the goal from approximately mid field. The ball lands approximately equal distance between the Defending GK and the attacker. A 50-50 ball; both players charge towards the ball (the attacker is not offside), The defending GK leaves her PA to play the ball. Both players arrive at the ball nearly at the same time and the defending GK fouls the attacker in the process of playing the ball. Does this foul warrant a caution or an ejection?

USSF answer (August 31, 2004):
If the goalkeeper fouls the opposing player while “in the process of playing the ball,” the referee would call the foul. The referee would then apply the Four D’s (see below) in determining whether or not to send off the goalkeeper for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player¹s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick.

A position paper of late 2002 from the Manager of Referee Development and Education on obvious goalscoring opportunities (affectionately known as “The 4Ds”), which applies to Reason 5 under Law 12, and states:
QUOTE
In order for a player to be sent off for denying an “obvious goal-scoring opportunity,” four elements must be present:
– Number of Defenders ‹ not more than one defender between the foul and the goal, not counting the defender who committed the foul
– Distance to goal ‹ the closer the foul is to the goal, the more likely it is an obvious goalscoring opportunity
– Distance to ball ‹ the attacker must have been close enough to the ball at the time of the foul to have continued playing the ball
– Direction of play ‹ the attacker must have been moving toward the goal at the time the foul was committed
If any element is missing, there can be no send off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Further, the presence of each of these elements must be “obvious” in order for the send off to be appropriate under this provision of Law 12.
END OF QUOTE

And there is always the possibility that the foul itself might have warranted a send-off and red card, whether there was an obvious goalscoring opportunity or not.

In all cases, the final decision is based on the opinion of the referee.


NO PERMISSION TO SUBSTITUTE
Your question:
Team A lines up for a goal kick. Team A’s coach indicates to the youth linesmen that he wants to substitute a player. The youth linesmen raises his flag momentarily, but the youth ref does not see it. At this time, one player for Team A begins to leave the field. Team A proceeds to make the goal kick, and the linesmen puts his flag down and runs to get in position with the last defender. Another 3 -5 seconds go by and Team A’s extra player runs on the field, while the exiting player is still on the field by about 10 yards or so.

The goal kick is short and goes to Team B. Team B gets the ball dribbles to the goal and scores.

The coach for Team A is upset and wants the goal called back. However, the center Ref never gave him permission to substitute even though the linesmen tried for a moment to get his attention.

The center ref let the goal stand. He did not card the subs. He could have cared them for entering and leaving the field, but since it was a youth game and they just got scored on he let that go. Should he have disallowed the goal since the team was substituting in the middle of the goal kick being taken?

USSF answer (August 31, 2004):
The referee took the correct action by doing nothing. Score the goal and get on with the game, after admonishing the two players for their illegal actions. The referee could caution both players for leaving (the player going out) and entering (the new player coming in) the field without permission, but if no harm was done the offense seems trifling in this particular situation.

The coach of Team A has no authority and no reason to complain. Substitutes may not enter the field until the player they are replacing has left, and no player may leave or enter the field for any reason without the permission of the referee. If the coach protests too much, he or she is behaving irresponsibly and should be asked to leave the vicinity of the field. The referee should give a complete summary of the incident in the match report.


TRIFLING INFRINGEMENT
Your question:
In a recent tournament championship match a player from the opposing team was admittedly fouled (though not hard, he never left his feet). Before the referee blew the whistle, the player picked up the ball and began positioning it for his indirect kick. Since the ball was still in play until the whistle sounded, was this not a hand ball? The officials response when I questioned him was, “I was getting ready to blow the whistle.” What was the proper procedure in this situation?

USSF answer (August 30, 2004):
While the player’s act was a bit premature, there is no need for punishment in this case. Once the referee has decided that an infringement has taken place, play has been stopped, whether or not the referee has announced the decision by blowing the whistle. The referee should allow the free kick to proceed, but should also warn the player to wait for the whistle the next time, as not all referees are as quick witted or understanding as in this instance.


BEHAVIOR OF THE “WALL”
Your question:
Late in a tied game, a free kick is awarded to the Red team, three yards beyond the penalty area, within the penalty arc, obviously a very dangerous opportunity. After the usual delay, the Blue team is moved back the specified ten yards and all seems ready.  The referee blows the whistle to indicate the kick is to be taken.  As the Red player runs to the ball, in an obviously well-choreographed maneuver the players in the “wall” all spin around, now facing their goal, and put their arms straight up from their shoulders.  The kick is taken and the ball hits one of those extended arms, deflecting in such a way as to be easily recovered by the Blue GK.

I couldn’t justify a handling call, at least not to myself, although certainly many Red players were of that opinion.  I decided that the “spinning and stretching” constituted Unsporting Behaviour, and taking place before the kick, I could rule that the kick never officially happened. I Cautioned the Blue Captain (he was in the wall), reset the ceremonial free kick and saw it converted for the winning goal.

Was I correct in my decision?

USSF answer (August 30, 2004):
The referee must recognize that while members of the wall are allowed to jump about when opponents are taking a kick, choreographed actions that are unnatural and designed to both intimidate and to shock and distract their opponents constitute bringing the game into disrepute. As this occurred before the ball was in play, the correct call could be unsporting behavior on the part of the player who played the ball with the hand. Caution and show the yellow card; restart with the free kick.

However, it would be more reasonable‹and more just‹to decide that a handling offense occurred. After all, the hands/arms were not being carried in a “natural position” and the action was taken deliberately to increase unfairly the “size” of the wall. Even a defender at the end of the wall putting his hand on his hip with his elbow out is considered to have handled the ball if it strikes the elbow‹and this action is far less extreme than the example given. That would make the restart a penalty kick (based on your description of the location of the kick), rather than a retake of the original free kick.


YOUTH RULES ON HOT WEATHER?
Your question:
I am becoming more concerned about the safety of 12 year old soccer players for the following reasons. In recent tournaments over HOT & HUMID August weekends, these 12 year old children, playing in u13 tournament competition, played 2 games of 70 min each (starting at 8am) on Saturday and finished (by 5pm) on Sunday with two additional games of 70 min each plus two overtimes of 10 min each.

By my calculations these children played 300 min of soccer in less than 34 hours! Are the USSF youth tournament directors trying to teach these kids about soccer or trying to “burn them out” (literally) in the August heat? We would certainly never ask our adult professionals to compete in three full games in a day and a half, so why the children?

What are the USSF rules and regulations for children’s games over a weekend?

USSF answer (August 27, 2004):
You should send your concerns to your state association and then to US Youth Soccer, . We don’t set the tournament rules of play.


SECOND TOUCH BY ‘KEEPER?
Your question:
This situation happened in a game I was working last week and lead to some discussion after the game.

The attacking team takes a shot on goal. The defending keeper moves across his goal and has to stretch his arms out to his side to attempt to catch the ball. The ball deflects off of his hands and falls to the ground. The keeper takes a quick look around and seeing that there are no attackers near him decides to dribble the ball up to the top of the penalty box and then picks up the ball and punts it. The referee stopped play and awarded an indirect free kick for a second touch. The discussion after the game centered around whether the referee considered this a save and then an accidental rebound. The referee said that he considered it a save but at the time the keeper started to dribble the ball with his feet the keeper gave up his opportunity to pick up the rebound with his hands. The referee said that if the keeper had picked up the ball before dribbling it, that he would not have considered it a second touch but would have considered it a continuation of the save. The majority of the other referees who were at this game said that since the keeper had made a save and the rebound was accidental that the keeper can now dribble the ball with his feet and pick it up and this is not a second touch.

Can you shed some light on which is the correct call to make for these type of rebound situations.

USSF answer (August 27, 2004):
Where do people get the notion that dribbling the ball with the feet somehow changes the situation? The referee was wrong on both counts‹saving (deflecting) the ball and then dribbling it didn’t change the fact that, not having gained possession in the first place, the ‘keeper could handle the ball‹and picking up the ball and then dribbling it didn’t change the fact that, having controlled it with his hands, the ball could not directly be touched again by the ‘keeper.


“NEGATIVE” OR NON-STANDARD SIGNALS
Your question:
3-4 years ago I was instructed that negative signals were not in the procedures and should never be used.

A couple of years ago I was informed that there was a shift in the wind and negative signals were an effective tool and could be used when appropriate.

What is the USSF position on negative signals?

USSF answer (August 27, 2004):
There was a time (longer ago than 3-4 years, however) when negative signals or, more generally, any signals not specifically approved by FIFA or USSF and not described in the Guide to Procedures were discouraged. With the publication of the 1998 Guide to Procedures, that emphasis began to change. The 1998 Guide stated:
Other signals or methods of communication intended to supplement those described here are permitted only if they do not conflict with established procedures and only if they do not intrude on the game, are not distracting, are limited in number and purpose, and are carefully described by the referee prior to the commencement of a match.

This included so-called “negative signals” (for example, the assistant referee indicating “no offside”). If the officiating team discussed such a signal ahead of time and it met the criteria, using it is okay so long as it is kept within reasonable limits. Remember, the purpose of any signal is to communicate so it must do that much at least.

USSF’s approach continues to follow this guideline. Even the occasional use of some gesture by the referee to indicate a handling offense or tripping is acceptable if, in the opinion of the referee, it is NEEDED FOR THIS PARTICULAR GAME to communicate essential information in a critical situation. “Negative” or non-standard signals should not become standard practice for every game.


OUT-OF-SHAPE REFEREES
Your question:
In the past few years of my refereeing, I’ve seen too much of youth referees that are out of shape (way overweight, unfit…), especially in a recent tournament one of those refs who is also an assignor for high school games kept using foul language and making fun of the younger referees. I kept my mouth shut since any conversation would’ve ended my game assignment. The local referee coordinator of the tournament had nothing to say either, since his game plans would’ve been affected. Is there a better way to enlighten this referee of his behavior?

USSF answer (August 24, 2004):
You should submit a full report to the State Referee Administrator or State Youth Referee Administrator in your state. Before writing, you should consider first making a phone call to let the SRA know what is going on. The SRA might then consider sending someone to take a look at the referee(s). Once you have reported it you have done your duty.


DECEPTION AND THE “RIGHT” TO SET UP A WALL
Your question:
Two interesting sequence of events in recent youth games I was observing instead of refereeing that I would like your comments on:

1. A direct kick was awarded just outside the penalty area near the penalty arc. The attacking team quickly positioned 3 players 10 yards from the ball on the most direct line for the ball to travel to the near post and then hunched down. The defensive team was slow to set up their wall and complained to the referee that the attacking team was interfering with them. The referee to his credit ignored them and backed up to watch the kick. The defending team set up their ball next to the three attacking players, which left the both the near and far post as attack points. The ball was struck toward the near post with sufficient bend to thwart the goalie’s save attempt. Needless to the say the coach complained after the game to the referee that A) the attacking team interfered with his team’s ability to set up the wall and B) the attacking players kneeling was unsporting behavior. Was the fact that the defending team could have set up the wall directly behind the kneeling players something the referee should point out to the coach, which would have nullified the both the attackers being where the defenders wanted to be and the kneeling? Or does the referee simply state the defending team has no more right to any particular spot on the field while waiting for the restart than the attacking team? How about the kneeling?

2. An indirect kick was awarded just inside the penalty area where the penalty arc met the top of the penalty area (the spot is just for reference, this situation could apply anywhere). One boy from the attacking team placed the ball where the referee indicated, then was joined by two teammates who stood between the defending players and the ball, conferring with the third attacker, particularly shielding the defending team’s view of the ball. While the defense is setting up the wall under the goalie’s direction, one boy casually begins to tap his toe into the ground just next to the ball, appearing to listen intently to the strategy for the free kick. He taps the ball lightly, moving it backwards slightly from its resting position. Then two boys turn and wall toward the wall as if moving to a pre-planned position. The remaining attacker then exploded forward, dribbling the ball to a better shooting position and scoring, surprising the defenders. The defenders then expect the referee to award them an indirect kick, but he signals for kick off, indicating good goal. Is this type of concealment UB? Obviously, the referee was watching the entire time and saw that technically the ball was played by two separate players before entering the goal. How much explanation should the ref give to the confused defending team in order to show he was paying attention? Does he explain how the one boy slightly touched the ball, or just state that the ball was correctly played for an indirect kick?

USSF answer (August 24, 2004):
1. The defending team has no “right” to set up a wall anywhere on the field. Their only “right” at free kicks is to give the kicking team a minimum of ten yards from the place where the ball will go into play. And the coach has no “right” to complain about anything; the coach’s only right is to behave responsibly. There is no requirement that players on either team be standing at a free kick. Thus, kneeling is permitted. And yes, the defending team could have placed players for its wall behind the kneeling players on the kicking team.

2. The kicking team is permitted to practice deception of this sort at any free kick or corner kick, where the only requirement is that the ball be kicked and moves. Kicked in this case extends to toe tapping the ball even the slightest amount, but not to stepping on the top of the ball. (This ploy would not be permitted at a penalty kick or kick-off, in which the ball must also move forward.) The play you describe is perfectly legal, provided that the player who dribbles the ball away and shoots on goal is not the same player who tapped the ball to move it from its original location.

In both cases, the defending team did not pay attention to what was happening. The coaches should take plenty of notes and practice defense against such things during the week. There is no requirement in the Laws of the Game that the referee coddle players for their own ignorance.


KEEPING THE FLAG UP
Your question:
I am a grade 8 youth referee. Recently I was a spectator at an U-13 boys Class I tournament game where a goal was scored by the Blue team while the AR was holding up his flag to indicate a touch line throw in for the Red team. Apparently the AR raised the flag to indicate that the ball had passed over the touch line off of blue, but neither the players nor the center noticed the flag and play continued for more than a minute with a series of 15 or more touches on the ball by both teams, before the Blue team put the ball in the net. At that point the referee observed the AR signaling that the ball had earlier been out of play. The referee consulted with the AR, disallowed the goal and gave the throw in to the Red team.

Did the referee make the right call in disallowing the goal after the passage of so much time and play?

Does the AR have a responsibility/obligation to hold the flag until the referee acknowledges the signal, or should he/she drop the flag after some reasonable passage of time in the event that play has continued and the referee has not seen or acknowledged the flag?

Can a referee wave off an AR’s out of bounds signal if none of the players perceived that the ball had gone out of bounds and play continued? Law 9 does not appear to leave a lot of room for discretion about when play has stopped, but I am aware of many referees who encourage ARs that work their games to allow play to continue unless the ball is clearly out of bounds; the idea being that it is better to allow the game to continue than to stop play for close out of bounds calls. The fact that none of the players were aware that the ball was out of bounds and both teams continued to play without hesitation suggests that this particular call by the AR was of the close variety.

USSF answer (August 24, 2004):
The 2004 edition of the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees” tells us that if the referee does not see it, the assistant referee maintains the signal in accordance with the pregame conference. This is a matter that must be discussed and agreed upon among the officials before the game.


OFFSIDE SITUATION AT THE OLYMPICS
Your question:
The US Women’s match against Japan had what seemed to me to be a great example for offside discussion. The camera angle showed Hamm’s kick and was looking across from the offside line. Just before the ball was kicked, Japan ran up to trap three of four US players offside. However the ball went to and was played by Boxx, who controlled it and then passed to Wambaugh, who was behind the ball, for the score.

It seemed obvious on stop frame replay who was in and not in an offside position. The only question in my mind is deciding whether or not any of the three who were in an offside position became involved in the play. Every recert class I’ve taken some always have stories about some situation. While clearly “In the opinion of the referee” applies, it all comes down to what the referee saw. (At a tournament game last season, a fairly clear tripping call wasn’t made-the referee had turned momentarily to deal with some inappropriate comments players were making toward one another and turned back to see the girl on the ground. He didn’t see it, he can’t call it.)  However, with a clear viewing angle on the tape that was probably seen my many of our referees, it seems to be a good teaching tool.

Did you see it? If so, could you discuss why they were not involved in the play and why you would have made the same call, or why in your opinion they were involved in the play and the flag should have been raised.

USSF answer (August 23, 2004):
Wambach and two other USA players were in offside POSITIONS at the moment the ball was played in from near the touch line, but none of them was actively involved in the play. In other words, they had no effect on play and did not interfere with any opponents. Boxx ran in and played the ball laterally to Wambach, who was behind the ball. No offside. Score the goal.


ANNUAL ASSESSMENTS FOR GRADE 7 REFEREES
Your question:
I have recently informed that a Grade 7 now requires an annual maintenance assessment. However, I cannot find the requirement in the Referee Administrative Handbook. If this is a requirement, please provide to me the citation in the Handbook and when the requirement was adopted.

USSF answer (August 23, 2004):
We assume that this is a requirement adopted by your state referee committee, as there is no national requirement that Grade 7 referees be assessed annually. Please check with your State Director of Referee Assessment to be certain.

The new Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) notes that the state may require one developmental assessment “if adopted by the state.” See the bottom of page 19 of the new RAH under annual renewal requirements.


PENALTY KICKS IN EXTENDED TIME
Your question:
GU10 tournament final. The competition rules state “no slide tackling”. The score is Blue 4 and Red 2. Blue is attacking inside the Red penalty area when a Red defender slide tackles for the ball and makes contact with the attacker before making contact with the ball. There is 15 seconds before the end of the second half. I blow my whistle and conduct a penalty kick after time has run out. 5-2. 1) In the USSF advise to referees it states that the referee is to advise the coaches that time has expired. I just pointed to my watch and with palms down made like the safe signal in baseball. Do you blow the whistle 3 times and when? 2) This Penalty kick is treated more like a kick from the mark. Where do you place your AR’s? The Advise to Referees says to keep the players on the field, but keep in mind they are already celebrating the victory while I am conducting a penalty kick. 3) This was a good call but given the circumstances what would you do?

USSF answer (August 12, 2004):
(1) There is no need to advise the coaches of anything in most games, but it is probably a wise idea when dealing with younger players. The Advice to Referees states simply that the referee should announce that time has expired and indicate clearly that the penalty kick is now being taken “in extended time.” The Federation and the Laws of the Game leave the signal used to announce that the half or game is over to the individual referee. Lead Assistant Referee – Waits for the referee to begin supervising the restart and then moves quickly to the intersection of the goal line and the penalty area line to prepare for the duties assigned by the referee in the pre-game conference
– If a goal is scored, keeps players under observation and follows the normal goal procedure
– If play continues, quickly resumes the position to judge offside (cutting the corner of the field if necessary) and keeps play in view

Trail Assistant Referee
– Moves up the touch line to near the midfield line and monitors player activities out of the view of the referee
– If a goal is not scored, quickly takes a position appropriate for the next phase of play


RESTART ON ‘KEEPER INJURY
Your question:
In a recent local tournament there arose a discussion in the referee tent on the proper restart after an injury with the goalkeeper in possession. Several very experienced referees had opposing view points. We were all pretty much in agreement that it would be best handled by allowing the keeper to send the ball out of touch and allowing the opponents to throw it back into the keeper but in youth matches this is not always feasible. What do the Laws allow?

USSF answer (August 11, 2004):
The only restart provided for by the Laws of the Game is a dropped ball. The referee cannot instruct or force any player to play the ball to anyone or any place.


TOO MANY PLAYERS
Your question:
After a substitution, the referee allowed play to restart with one team having 12 players on the field.  The AR on the fans side of the field noticed but could not get the attention of the Ref.  The team with 12 players attacks quickly and scores to go up 1-0. Prior to the kick-off, the Ref sees the AR, conferences, counts the players and disallows the goal.  Restart is a goal kick.  The team that has a goal disallowed ends up losing 1-0.

At halftime, the other AR states that the goal should have stood and only a caution issued to a player on the team with 12. The Ref admits this AR was probably correct.

To allow a goal to stand does not seem fair.  In addition, to caution a player when the ref allowed the play to restart does not seem the same as entering the field without permission.

What is the correct call?

USSF answer (August 5, 2004):
The answer in all such cases has been established in the newly-revised Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game for 2004. The restart for all situations in which an outside agent (and that is what the extra player is) takes part is a dropped ball.

The extra player must be removed and cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without the permission of the referee. The referee will apply the advantage or stop play. If play is stopped to administer a caution, it will be restarted with a dropped ball at the place where the ball was located when play was stopped (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8). If the extra player is not discovered until after play has been stopped, the ball is dropped at the place where the player likely entered the field.

In the case of a goal being scored, If the referee realizes the mistake before the match is restarted, the goal is not awarded. The referee should instruct the player to leave the field of play. Play will be restarted with a dropped ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball passed into the goal. If the referee learns of the extra player only later, the extra player is removed but the goal must stand. In all events, the referee must include full details in the match report.


SCORING A GOAL DIRECTLY FROM A KICK-OFF
Your question:
At the fifa.com website there are a list of questions and answers (as you know). Check out the answer to question 3 in law Vlll.
http://www.fifa.com/fifa/handbook/Q&A/q&a.8.frame.html

What am I missing?

USSF answer (August 9, 2004):
We are not sure why you believe that something is missing in Question 3 under Law 8 in FIFA’s new Q&A. The question simply states a fact‹that a goal can validly be scored directly from a kick-off‹and is likely included because this is a change in the Law from several years back. Before, the Law stated that a goal could NOT be scored directly from a kick-off; now it can. In fact, Question 3 in the original Q&A (published in 1990 and often called just “the green book”) stated that, if the ball went into the opponent’s goal directly from a kick-off, the restart was a goal kick! The currently correct answer (a goal!) was enshrined in the 2000 version of the Q&A.


REMOVING THE JERSEY
Your question:
In this article
http://www.ussoccer.com/referees/fullstory.sps?iNewsid=77181&itype=4042&icategoryid=83
it states that “The restriction applies to ANY player celebrating a goal, not just the player who scored the goal.” (referring to the removal of a jersey during the celebration of a goal). Does the restriction also apply to members of the opposing team (the team scored against) who may remove their jerseys?

USSF answer (August 9, 2004):
Until further instructions are received, the caution would apply to any player who removed his or her jersey after a goal was scored.


NO CARDS FOLLOWING THE END OF THE GAME
Your question:
I was wondering if a player can get red carded after the game was over and if it is a foul to yell out, “mine”, when going for the ball?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
Up until the end of June, a player could be shown the red card after the conclusion of the game, provided that the players were in the act of leaving the field. Now the International F. A. Board and FIFA have made it clear that no one may be shown the card after the final whistle. However, the referee is still expected to provide full details on the incident in the match report.

No, it has never been a “foul” to call out “mine” when going for the ball, but it is misconduct and subject to a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior if, in the opinion of the referee, the player’s action was intended to deceive an opponent unfairly. Just calling out “mine” is not misconduct.


SLEEVELESS JERSEYS [LAW 4]
I had read in Referee Magazine that sleeveless jerseys were to be allowed. I am now hearing from our local league referee that they have been told that sleeveless jerseys were not legal. Law IV does state that jerseys must have sleeves. Can you clarify this?

USSF answer (August 9, 2004):
The official answer may be found in USSF’s memorandum on this subject November 1, 2002:
USSF has been informed by FIFA that it has decided to set aside temporarily the new provision regarding jersey sleeves found in International Board Decision 1 of Law 4. Accordingly, effective immediately and until further notice, Referees will have no responsibility for determining the legality of jersey sleeves or for enforcing the provision in Law 4 related to jersey sleeves.

Referees are directed not to include in their game reports any information regarding the presence, absence, or altered status of jersey sleeves.

The only concern a referee has with respect to the condition of a player¹s jersey is safety.

Referees are, however, expected to enforce all relevant provisions in the Rules of Competition governing a match,

This approach was confirmed again in the 2003 Memorandum which made the point that no player or team should be prevented from playing due to any issue involving jersey sleeves.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
The following happened recently in a tournament playoff match. Team A and Team B were tied at the end of overtime and so the match went to a shootout. It went all the way to the 8th kickers for each team. Team A’s 8th kicker scored, Team B’s kicker missed. It was then discovered that Team A’s 8th kicker was not one of the 11 players for Team A on the field at the end of overtime. The referee allowed the kick by the 8th kicker to stand, thus allowing Team A to win and advance in the playoffs, but also gave Team A’s 8th kicker a yellow card.

Of course, the referee should have been keeping better track of the players, but since he wasn’t, was his way of handling it correct? Is there any way that the kick by Team A’s 8th kicker could be disallowed? Would it matter if the ineligibility of the player was discovered immediately after his successful kick rather than not until after Team B’s 8th kicker missed?

USSF answer (August 7, 2004):
The rules governing kicks from the penalty mark to decide a tied match specifically state that, except as modified for this procedure, all other applicable Laws of the Game apply. So, the question becomes, what would the referee do if something comparable had happened during play in the match? If a goal were scored and the problem with the team that scored the goal (e.g., extra player) were not discovered until after play had restarted, the goal would stand. If it were discovered before play restarted, the goal would not stand.

Here, the equivalent of play restarting is the taking of the next kick from the penalty mark. Since the next kick occurred and then the problem was discovered, the result of the kick would stand. If the player’s ineligibility had been discovered before Team B took its kick, the result would not stand and the kick by Team A would have to be retaken by an eligible player.


GUEST PLAYERS [LAW 3]
Your question:
Can a guest player in a youth league play down or must she be of the same age or younger?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
We cannot answer the question because all such matters are regulated by the local rules of competition. You would need to check with the league, club, or tournament which is authorizing the match.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
I have a FIFA and high school patch. At a recent FIFA meeting for referees, we were told that a push is being made at the national level to loosen up on offside. I.E. a torso ahead is OK at the national level and soon will be OK for us locally, with the prediction that in a few years daylight between the offensive player (ahead) and defensive player (behind) will be the rule. However, for now, we were told not to change how we apply the law.

At at more recent high school meeting, we were told the same thing by a state referee official who administers both patches (21 years FIFA, 7 years high school). He stopped short of telling us to use the looser application of the law, but urged us to only call offside when we are 100 percent sure.

I sense an unwillingness to implement the full-torso rule. Has there been any definitive interpretation that changes current practice which, I believe, is based on the vertical plain of the bodies in question?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
A new entry in the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (officially released by FIFA on July 1, 2004) makes the point that, in the case of two attackers making a play for the ball, one coming from an onside position and the other coming from an offside position, the assistant referee and referee must hold the offside decision until it is clear that the offside position attacker will prevail. Except for this, however, there has been no change in definition, interpretation, or guidance on offside (Law 11). Referees should continue to apply Law 11 as it has been taught in USSF clinics until and unless they are officially directed otherwise.


“GOLDEN GOAL” [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
I know that a decision was made about “golden goal” situations but have not seen it in writing yet. Officially no more golden goal right?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
FIFA has taken complete control over specifying the proper ways by which a drawn match can be resolved. In the annual Circular regarding Law changes (as reported by USSF in its Memorandum 2004 ‹on the USSF website), the International FA Board announced several changes in the Laws of the Game and in the section of the Laws pertaining to methods for breaking ties. The net result of these changes is that there are now only three permissible options (individually or in combination) for a tied affiliated match to be resolved‹home/away goals, extra time, and kicks from the penalty mark

USSF’s Advice to Referees, however, notes that some local competition authorities may not have gotten the necessary information in time to modify any established procedures so, if you have accepted a game assignment in which the “golden goal” is used, you should go along with it.


PLAYERS AND HYDRATION [ADMIN]
Your question:
What is the current USSF policy on players keeping drinking water bottles near the touchline during a match? Are players allowed to leave the field during stoppage of play to drink water without first asking permission from the referee?

USSF answer (August 7, 2004):
Your questions can be answered by reference to the guidance in the following memorandum (distributed by USSF on April 26, 2002, and available on the USSF website):

The FIFA Medical Committee recently emphasized the importance of proper hydration during a match and the need for water (or other appropriate liquids) to be available to the players. Referees are advised to use the following common sense guidelines in determining the correct ways in which this concern can be implemented. Although the term “water” is used below, the guidelines apply to all liquids that may be provided for player hydration in the immediate area of the field.

Players may drink water during play or at a stoppage but only by going to a touch line or goal line.

While drinking water, players may not leave the field nor may they carry water containers onto the field. The players should stand at the touch line or goal line while drinking water.

Water containers may not be held in readiness where they will interfere with the movement of the assistant referees. After water containers are used, they must be removed so as not to interfere with the movement of the assistant referees.

Under no circumstances may water containers of any sort (regardless of material, size, or construction) be thrown onto the field or to players even during stoppages of play.


WEARING THE BADGE FOR WHAT YEAR? [ADMIN]
Your question:
Your question:
When may a referee who has recertified and received his/her 2005 badge begin wearing it?

For example, a referee upgrades from 7 to 6, meeting all of the requirements for upgrade on September 1, 2004. Should the referee continue to wear his Referee 2004 badge or begin wearing his State Referee 2005 badge or should the referee attempt to get a State Referee 2004 badge for the remainder of the year?

USSF answer (August 6, 2004):
Under normal circumstances, referees are expected to wear the dated USSF badge appropriate for the year (i.e., 2004 in 2004 and 2005 in 2005). However, there may be circumstances in which a badge can be worn prior to the start of the year‹Under normal circumstances, referees are expected to wear the dated USSF badge appropriate for the year (i.e., 2004 in 2004 and 2005 in 2005). However, there may be circumstances in which a badge can be worn prior to the start of the year‹remember, the USSF registration year begins September 1. Accordingly, although a referee might complete all recertification requirements for being a referee in 2005 by, say, October of 2004, he or she would continue to wear their 2004 badge until the end of the year. Suppose this person just became a referee, however, by attending an entry level clinic in October‹they would receive a 2005 badge (because no more 2004 badges can be earned that late in the year) but that doesn’t mean they have to wait until January 1, 2005, before they can officiate.. Accordingly, they could wear a 2005 badge from the time they met all certification requirements through the remainder of 2004, and then through 2005. Remember, the USSF registration year begins September 1. Accordingly, although a referee might complete all recertification requirements for being a referee in 2005 by, say, October of 2004, he or she would continue to wear their 2004 badge until the end of the year. Suppose this person just became a referee, however, by attending an entry level clinic in October‹they would receive a 2005 badge (because no more 2004 badges can be earned that late in the year) but that doesn’t mean they have to wait until January 1, 2005, before they can officiate.. Accordingly, they could wear a 2005 badge from the time they met all certification requirements through the remainder of 2004, and then through 2005.

The principle remains the same. If the referee qualifies for a 2005 badge and receives the badge, regardless of the grade, then the badge may be worn beginning immediately, even if it is still 2004. Wear the State Referee 2005 badge proudly.


SCREENING THE BALL [LAW 12]
Your question:
A couple of referee friends seem to be getting themselves all agitated and confused by a section of the Additional Instructions covering “Screening the Ball” (page 73 of 84 in LOTG. Although I know it was in the 2003-04 book, I can’t remember seeing it before.

The writers introduce the term “screening” to describe what I would normally refer to a shielding (in either coach-or referee-speak). I found it interesting that we now appear to have the 11th reason to award a Direct Free Kick‹the first ten being detailed in Law 12. This section seems to imply that the “illegal use of the hand, arm, legs or body”; is similar to contact with the opponent‹or the recommended restart would not have to be a direct free kick. I assume that the action must be on the field, while the ball is in play, and directed against an opponent‹the standard requirements for a direct free kick.

I view impeding as “not normally involving contact.” When the offense begins to involve contact, it transitions from “impeding” to “holding.” Is that what they’re trying to say?

I think I had a better understanding of this BEFORE the introduction of this section. Do you know why this “clarification” (?) was introduced. Your opinion please. THANKS!

USSF answer (August 5, 2004):
Although we would not care to speculate as to FIFA’s intentions in the absence of some specific statement from that organization explaining the why and wherefore of their actions, you likely have penetrated the mystery. The purpose of this section of Additional Instructions appears to be to say that screening (shielding) is legal so long as certain conditions are met, one of which is that the screener cannot accomplish the screening by extending his arms (and presumably, by inference, his leg as well) to prevent the screenee from going around. If the screener does so, a direct free kick foul has been committed (or a PK if inside the screener’s penalty area) for holding.

The exact same provision can be found in the 2003-2004 and 2002-2003 Laws of the Game. The reason you can’t find it in earlier versions of the Laws is that FIFA stopped publishing the Additional Instructions section after the 1997 version of the Laws and only reinstituted it in 2002-2003. By the way, the same principle (using somewhat different language) can also be found in the 1997 version.


QUIZZES ON THE LAWS
Your question:
I have been searching for quizzes on the Laws of the Game, but cannot find any at all. Do you know if there is a place where I could get some referee quiz information, so that I can test my knowledge? Also, is there any technical quizzes at the Advance Level that are available too? Please send me the links because I would like to test my knowledge on a more flexible level.

USSF answer (August 5, 2004): Most instructors, referee associations, and related groups make up their own quizzes, depending on the training needs of the moment. You might also want to check out REFEREE magazine. Each month’s issue has soccer case plays plus a Laws quiz of 5-6 questions (answers are also provided based on the three major sets of rules‹FIFA, high school, and college). The magazine also has a longer quiz available on its website (http://www.referee.com)‹you have to supply some information so they can try to convince you to subscribe‹but the site allows you to download a PDF of a soccer quiz, plus you can research back issues for the shorter quizzes.

Finally, you can go to the USSF website, Referee page, and download Advice to Referees because, at the back of this publication, there is a sort of quiz‹it’s called a syllabus and it features questions which are answered by reading the material in Advice.

Aside from this, however, you might try creating your own quizzes. Sometimes that is an excellent way to teach yourself something.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION [LAW 12]
Your question:
I was just reading through the FIFA Q& A for 2004 and I have come upon 2 points which interest me and also confuse me to some degree.

According the the document: Law 12 21. If a goalkeeper is bouncing the ball, may an opponent play the ball as it touches the ground, provided he is not guilty of dangerous play?
Yes

22. After taking possession of the ball, a goalkeeper allows it to lie on his open hand. An opponent comes from behind him and heads the ball from his hand. Is this permitted?
This is permitted since the goalkeeper does not have full possession of the ball and the action of the opponent is not dangerous.

When I read ATR 12.16 and 12.17 I would have to interpret different things regarding such challenges for possession with the GK. I’m slightly surprised that FIFA would interpret the law in this way, but I can see it coming as part of their emphasis on supporting attacking soccer. My question is, what should we referee’s in the USA do regarding this tweak in interpretation. I’m assuming the USSF will be coming out with a revision to ATR or a position paper eventually) Until, something does come out, should we be enforcing the law in the way the ATR notes, or the way the Q&A notes? Thank you for any advice you can offer.

USSF answer (August 4, 2004):
We are pleased to see that you are keeping up with more than just The Laws of The Game. FIFA’s Questions and Answers is an important document which has been used in the past to announce important changes in how to interpret various aspects of the Law. You have pointed to two of them (and there are others in the new version of the Q&A. Since FIFA officially published this on July 1, it becomes effective immediately world-wide and we are all obliged to officiate in accordance with our understanding of its guidelines. USSF is in the process of seeking clarification from FIFA regarding several of the new interpretations and, when we are clear about them, it is likely that there will be an announcement to assist referees in understanding what is new in the 2004 version. Where this means changes in Advice to Referees, we will include that information as well.

Meanwhile, our understanding of the provisions you have identified is that the ball is playable by an opponent at the moment the ball hits the ground (but not on the way down or while bouncing back up to the goalkeeper‹in other words, while the goalkeeper is in the process of actively distributing the ball) and it is playable by an opponent attempting to head it if the ball is being held in the open, outstretched hand of the goalkeeper. However, in either case, the opponent’s action must not be dangerous, and this becomes a critical factor for the referee to determine based on the age and skill level of the players.


BALL MEASUREMENTS [LAW 2]
Your question:
What is the correct measurement for a size 4 soccer ball?

USSF answer (August 3, 2004):
A size 4 ball is 25-26 inches in circumference (size 3 is 23-24 inches, size 5 is 27-28 inches.


RESTARTS FOR CAUTIONS AND SEND-OFFS [LAW 12]
Your question:
My son insists that the only remedy for any and all of the7 Cautionable and 7 Sending-off offenses is a Direct Kick (awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the infraction) regardless of where the ball is.

Is he correct?

USSF answer (August 2, 2004):
No. Cautions and send-offs are misconduct and, unless the misconduct also involves a foul, there are only two possible restarts if play is stopped solely for misconduct‹an indirect free kick at the site of the misconduct if the misconduct was committed on the field of play by a player, or a dropped ball where the ball was if the misconduct was committed by a substitute anywhere or by a player off the field. Of course, if the misconduct is committed during a stoppage of play, there is no separate restart; it would be whatever restart is appropriate for what stopped play originally. If the misconduct involves a foul (for example, serious foul play), then the foul determines the restart.


WRITING UP A CAUTION [LAW 12]
Your question:
I’m seeking technical guidance on reporting a caution. I get inconsistent answers from referees and we all know the severity of the described situation has inconsistent treatment among different cultural climates. Here’s the situation. . . . player makes a “high foot” tackle that referee interprets asnot severe enough for a send-off, (i.e. not serious foul play), but is never-the-less dangerous and careless enough to warrant a caution. Therefore, referee calls dangerous play, (IFK restart), and issues caution to player. Under the 7+7 caution/send-off guidelines, what is the correct REASON for the caution, since the referee did not a DFK foul?

Here’s a sampling of the responses I’ve gotten to this question using the “7+7 guidelines”
– Make something up; not very good, but probably the most honest answer. (i.e. don’t write “high foot” as the reason in your report.)
– Do your best to make it a direct free kick foul (e.g. kicking, jumping or tripping)
– IF in a pattern of foul play, sanction a persistent infringement instead of unsporting behavior.

Playing in a manner outside of spirit of laws or in manner bringing disrepute to game (can’t remember the exact wording, but it’s the fourth or fifth reason under unsporting behavior in the 7+7 caution/send-off guidelines.)

USSF answer (August 2, 2004):
When in doubt, report the caution as having been given for unsporting behavior. In this case, unsporting behavior would clearly be the correct choice. Do not, I repeat, do not engage in ANY of the first three options under your P.S. Never make anything up, never give “high kick” as the reason for anything, never “do your best to make it a direct free kick foul” and choose persistent infringement only if in fact the foul was part of a pattern of offenses.

Only the last option under your PS offers any reasonable basis for the caution but, fortunately, game reports do not require you to provide anything more than the official, by the Law, black-and-white reason for a caution (i.e., one of the seven cautionable offenses). By the way, the “bringing the game into disrepute” has been clarified as “demonstrating a lack of respect for the game” but you also could, should you decide to offer a more detailed reason under USB, state that it was a tactical foul intended to break up attacking play.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
Teammates A1 and A2, Teammates B1 and B2. A1 plays the ball to A2, who is onside at the time the ball is kicked and making a diagonal-forward run. As the ball is traveling in the air, it deflects off of defender B1, at which moment A2 is now beyond the second-to-last defender, B2. The assistant referee flagged the offside, which was whistled by the referee. The call was offside, and the commentator explained that it was because of the deflection and the position of A2 at the time of the deflection. However, B1 is the opponent to A2. I would have NOT called the offside.

USSF answer (August 1, 2004):
The call was improper using the facts as supplied. The offside decision is made at the time the ball is last played by an attacker and is based on the positions and actions of all players at that time. If A2 was in an onside position at the time the ball was struck to him by his teammate, then he was onside no matter where anyone moved or the ball moved subsequently, so long as it remained the same play. The deflection by a defender is not only not relevant but, if it had been an actual play of the ball rather than a deflection, A2 would still have not been guilty of offside because then A2 would have received the ball from a defender rather than from his teammate.

One must always beware commentators pontificating on offside.

And a follow-on question:
Oh, I am definitely aware of “omniscient commentators.” You know, I have often thought of becoming one, just so I can be a better educator of football to the “lay audience.” It is a shame the call was made and acknowledged because it probably would have been a goal. Anyway, an afterthought . . . What if the ball incidentally deflected off a TEAMMATE of A2, instead of a defender?

And the follow-on answer: If the ball, in the setup described, had deflected from a teammate, then A2 would have been in an offside position because Law 11 makes no distinction in the case of attackers between touch and play. A2 would be called for offside if he then became involved in active play.


GOALKEEPER “HANDLING” [LAW 12]
Your question:
Question: If a goalkeeper comes to the edge of the penalty area with his feet within the box and reaches outside the box to handle or collect a ball, what is the call? When can the GK handle the ball in terms of the penalty area?:
(1) when his feet are within the penalty area
(2) when the ball is within the penalty area (how is this defined?)
(3) both his feet and the ball are within the penalty area
This does not seem to be defined in the laws of the game.

USSF answer (August 1, 2004):
Handling occurs where handling occurs. In other words, the handling offense doesn’t involve the keeper’s feet so we really don’t care where the keeper’s feet are. The only issue in whether handling occurs is where the keeper’s hands make contact with the ball‹everything else is irrelevant. Of course, the referee must also remember that “constant whistling for doubtful or trifling breaches of the Law” is to be avoided, which means that you need to be sure where the hands and ball make contact. Also remember that the lines surrounding the penalty area are part of the penalty area.

These elements have always been defined clearly in the Laws of the Game.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
Here are two brain teasers, mostly with respect to the referee and assistant referee mechanics.
Situation 1: Player A, in an offside position, runs the ball that has been played forward; runs over the ball without making contact with the ball; Player B, coming from an onside position, immediately kicks the ball into the goal. Is Player A offside? Is the goal disallowed? What are the correct referee and assistant referee mechanics?

Situation 2: Player A, in an offside position, attempts a bicycle kick on a ball that is lofted forward but completely misses the ball. Player B, coming from an onside position immediately kicks the ball into the goal. Is Player A offside? Is the goal disallowed? What are the correct referee and assistant referee mechanics?

USSF answer (August 1, 2004):
If Situation A had arisen in a USSF match (we cannot comment on situations governed by high school rules), it would be affected by the following guidance from FIFA (included under Law 11 in its just published Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game):
A player in offside position but not interfering with any opponent runs towards the ball played by a team-mate. Must the referee wait until he touches the ball to penalise him?
No, the referee may penalise him if there is not other team-mate (in an onside position) who can play the ball.
If there are other team-mates (in an onside position) who can get the ball, the referee must wait and see if the player in offside position finally interferes with play by touching the ball

As for Situation B, the answer seems obvious. The fact that Player A missed connecting with the ball is irrelevant‹his attempt to play the ball in such close proximity clearly constitutes “interfering with play” and, since this was done from an offside position, the player must surely be penalized. Needless to say, it also means that the goal is nullified since it occurred after the decision was made to penalize for offside.

The mechanics in Situation A are indicated by FIFA’s guidance. Both the AR and the referee must wait until it is clear whether the attacker coming from the offside position will prevail over his teammate coming from an onside position. If and when that becomes clear, both officials follow the usual mechanics suggested in the Guide to Procedures. In situation B, the usual mechanics in the Guide to Procedures should be followed‹when Player A performed his attempted kick, the AR’s flag should go up and, upon making eye contact, the referee should stop play.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
I have a FIFA and high school patch. At a recent FIFA meeting for referees, we were told that a push is being made at the national level to loosen up on offside. I.E. a torso ahead is OK at the national level and soon will be OK for us locally, with the prediction that in a few years daylight between the offensive player (ahead) and defensive player will be the rule. However, for now, we were told not to change how we apply the law.

At at more recent high school meeting, we were told the same thing by a state referee official who administers both patches (21 years FIFA, 7 years high school). He stopped short of telling us to use the looser application of the law, but urged us to only call offside when we are 100 percent sure. I sense an unwillingness to implement the full-torso rule. Has there been any definitive interpretation that changes current practice which, I believe, is based on the vertical plane of the bodies in question.

USSF answer (July 31, 2004):
A new entry in the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (officially released by FIFA on July 1, 2004) makes the point that, in the case of two attackers making a play for the ball with one coming from an onside position and one coming from an offside position, the assistant referee and referee must hold the offside decision until it is clear that the offside position attacker will prevail.

With that exception, there has been no change in definition, interpretation, or guidance on offside (Law 11). Referees should continue to apply Law 11 as it has been taught in USSF clinics until and unless they are officially directed otherwise.


MANDATORY CAUTIONS
Your question:
Could you please tell me if there is a list of the eight mandatory cautions?

USSF answer (July 31, 2004):
Yes, there is, and please find attached a copy (it is the “7+7” Memorandum — the mandatory cautions are in bold type). However, as a result of this year’s Law changes, there are now NINE mandatory cautions — the newest one being for unsporting behavior if a player removes his jersey to celebrate a goal.


ABUSING THE LAWS OF THE GAME [LAW 3]
Your question:
In a state cup championship match, one team is leading by one goal with three minutes left in regulation time. The team decides to substitute one of their players off (this player happens to already have one yellow card this game). As the player’s name is called, he starts to jog over from the opposite side of the field. After three or four steps, he starts limping, like he came up lame. He takes over a minute to limp across the field before finally exiting the field (note that I had not waved the other player on yet). The other team notices his actions and were yelling at me about time wasting. Once he leaves the field, the substitute enters (without me beckoning him on) and the substituted player then resumes a jog to his bench and even laughs at the other team, proud of his time wasting efforts. In the game, I added the *FULL* amount of time this player had wasted to the end of the half and informed both teams that I was doing so, but I did not give him a second caution. In retrospect, his actions (faking an injury) brought the game into disrepute, were clearly unsporting and antagonistic, and were completely unjustifiable. I think that I should have given him a second caution which would have forced him to miss the first game at Regionals. I’d like your thoughts on that, but more so I would like a second question to be answered. Throughout the game I had allowed substitutes to enter the field as soon as the player they were replacing was completely off the pitch, without an extra signal to beckon them on. Given that context, if I had cautioned and sent off the player, how many men would the team have played with? The unsporting behavior which would have resulted in the caution occurred while he was a player, but the caution would not have been shown until after he had been replaced (since I couldn’t know for sure he was faking until he left the pitch and jogged to his bench). I could make an argument that I had never beckoned the substitute onto the field and so no legal substitution had occurred (but this contradicts the previous substitutions…as a side note then I’d have to caution the substitute for illegal entry as well) and therefore the team must play with 10 men. If I admit that a substitution did occur, can I still make the team play with 10 men and remove the substitute since the caution was given as soon it possibly could in good faith and was the result of actions taken while he was a player and not a substituted player, or must I let the substitute stay in the game and the team play at full strength?

USSF answer (July 30, 2004):
Your questions illustrate very well why the substitution procedures set forth in the Laws of the Game should not be bypassed or ignored and what kinds of problems can be created when they are. That said, you are raising difficult issues of game management which cannot be resolved by someone who wasn’t there.

The most important issue to keep in mind regarding cards is whether a card is the proper tool at this particular time for this particular player. The issue becomes critical when it is a second caution that is being considered. No referee should ever decide to give or not give a card based on the consequences for some future game by that team (i.e., “miss the first game at Regionals”). Such decisions must be made here and now with the facts at hand.

Consider this. You successfully blunted the impact of the player’s behavior by restoring to the opposing team any time lost to them. What would have been gained, aside from satisfying a sense of outrage over a lack of sportsmanship, by giving the caution and then being forced as a result to give a red card?

And a follow-on question:
Thanks for your answer. The question actually raised a more general question in my mind, so hopefully you can humor me with a follow up question. So, in this match I was using what I consider to be the correct substitution procedure by having the substitute enter at the intersection of the touch and half lines after the player being replaced had completely left the pitch…in my question I merely meant that I hadn’t given an additional signal after the player had completely left the field that the substitute could now enter; I let them automatically enter as soon as the other player had left (is this correct or do I need an additional signal to the substitute that they can now enter). Anyway, the more general question I have is this: assume the player had committed a cautionable or sending-off offense behind my back and the ball immediately went into touch and I noticed his team wanted to substitute, so I initiated the substitution (told the sub to call him off and the player ran off and then the sub ran on after he had completely left). As the player is running off to be subbed, I noticed AR2’s flag is up, I jog over (backpedaling of course!) and ask what he saw. He tells me to issue a second caution or send off to the player who now has made it all the way off and the sub has come on. After administering the send-off, can I force the team to play short since the misconduct occurred while he was a player? My gut tells me no, but my sense of fairness tells me he should. I doubt this will ever happen since I always look for both ARs’ possible signals before looking for a substitution, but you never know in the heat of battle what may happen.

With the follow-on answer:
First, your substitution procedure was not correct. The permission of the referee must be given in order for a substitute to enter the field after the player he is substituting for has left. Whatever other changes you might make to the procedure (and referees routinely make many, often in the interests of “keeping things going”), don’t drop giving permission for the substitute to enter the field. However, your actions established a de facto indication of permission on which the players came to rely and it would be manifestly unfair to surprise some unlucky substitute for doing what you have allowed all game long.

Second, all cards are given for specific acts. If the act was committed while the perpetrator was a player and the card is red, the player sent off cannot be replaced, even if, by the time you actually send him off, he may have left the field.

Third, before allowing substitutions, it is always a good idea (as it would have been in your situation below and as you acknowledged) to make eye contact with your ARs first.

Fourth, we are not sure I understand why your gut is warring with your sense of fairness. Ours are usually in complete agreement.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
The following happened recently in a tournament playoff match. Team A and Team B were tied at the end of overtime and so the match went to a shootout. It went all the way to the eighth kickers for each team. Team A’s eighth kicker scored, Team B’s kicker missed. It was then discovered that Team A’s eighth kicker was not one of the 11 players for Team A on the field at the end of overtime. The referee allowed the kick by the eighth kicker to stand, thus allowing Team A to win and advance in the playoffs, but also gave Team A’s eighth kicker a yellow card.

Of course, the referee should have been keeping better track of the players, but since he wasn’t, was his way of handling it correct? Is there any way that the kick by Team A’s eighth kicker could be disallowed? Would it matter if the ineligibility of the player was discovered immediately after his successful kick rather than not until after Team B’s eighth kicker missed?

USSF answer (July 30, 2004):
The rules governing kicks from the penalty mark to decide a tied match specifically state that, except as modified for this procedures, all other applicable Laws of the Game apply. So, the question becomes, what would the referee do if something comparable had happened during play in the match? If a goal was scored and the problem with team who scored the goal (e.g., extra player) was not discovered until after play had restarted, the goal would stand. If it was discovered before play restarted, the goal would not stand.

Here, the equivalent of play restarting is the taking of the next kick from the penalty mark. Since the next kick occurred and then the problem was discovered, the result of the kick would stand. If the player’s ineligibility had been discovered before Team B took its kick, the result would not stand and the kick by Team A would have to be retaken by an eligible player.


REMOVAL OF THE JERSEY [LAW 4]
Your question:
This is a hypothetical question based on my previous observations and the renewed adoption of the removal of a jersey = mandatory caution rule. Let’s say you are refereeing a semifinal match of a highly competitive tournament such as the Regional Championships (which were golden goal this year). Let’s assume regulation ends as a tie and the game is won either by a golden goal or a kick from the mark. After the winning goal is scored, the kicker (who has already received one caution this game) removes his jersey as part of the celebration. Meanwhile, his team, substitutes, bench personnel, and a hundred spectators have rushed onto the field and surrounded him. Should you consider this act removing the jersey to celebrate a goal, or removing the jersey to celebrate a win (which is not mentioned in the FIFA/IFAB decision), or merely removing the jersey after a match as many players do. Clearly the intent is the celebration of the goal, but it seems like giving him a second caution would create problems after the game is already finished. So, the first question is, would this be a mandatory caution? If it is, the second question is: would the prefered method of giving it be to wade through the crowd and display the yellow and the red cards to the player (and create a situation where you may be in the middle of a throng of people who now hate you), to find the coach or captain and inform him that the player has received a second caution and thus a send-off which will be reported to the competition authority (and get that person extremely angry at you), or merely note in your game report the action by the player and allow the competition authority to deal with it as they see fit?

USSF answer (July 30, 2004):
Whether you consider the player had removed his jersey to celebrate a goal or merely to celebrate a win (and who knows the mind of a player?), the matter now comes under a different rule. Accordingly to FIFA’s new Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (officially released on July 1, 2004), no cards may be given after a match is over — including any required tie-breaking procedures.

Accordingly, no caution would be given in this case. The most the referee might do is include a mention of the incident in the match report. Given this answer to your first question, there is no need to deal with the others because they are all based on the consequences of giving the caution in the first place.


WHEN IS A THROW-IN? [LAW 15]
Your question:
I just finished taking a referee course and am confused why the opposing team is awarded the ball on a “bad” throw-in. In other situations, if a mistake is made on a restart, the restart is redone. For example, for a goal kick, if the ball does not leave the penalty area the kick is retaken (using the reasoning that the ball was never in play). Using the same reasoning for a throw-in‹if a player lifted a foot before releasing the ball, the ball was not in play…

USSF answer (July 29, 2004):
You are on the right track in looking at the problem. In the case of a goal kick which doesn’t leave the penalty area into the field of play, the ball has not been put into play and therefore it must be retaken (the basic principle is, nothing that happens when the ball is not in play changes the restart). However, in the case of a throw-in, the Law defines when the ball is in play solely in terms of one fact‹did the ball break the plane of the touchline? If it did, then it was put into play. However, Law 15 also provides a number of factors which need to be taken into account in determining whether the throw-in was performed legally (for example, both feet on the ground, behind or on the line, at the location where the ball left the field, and so on). So, if a player performs a throw-in from the wrong location but the ball enters the field, the ball was put into play properly but illegally and the throw goes to the other team. However, if the player takes the throw-in legally but the ball never enters the field, then the ball was never put into play and the same team is given the opportunity to do it again.

It’s a bit confusing and only the throw-in restart makes this big a deal between “in play” and “performed legally”‹for most other restarts, there is little difference between the two.


RELIGIOUS CLOTHING [LAW 4]
Your question:
An interesting scenario happened to take place twice for me in the past month, and in [my organization], we feel compelled to defer to more simplistic answers, so I thought this might be a better place to address the issue.

Recently, at [two tournaments] I had the opportunity to both watch and referee a particular GU14 team. This team has one young lady of the Muslim faith whose father requires her to wear a headdress (I don’t know the proper name for it, but it covers her head entirely and drapes over her shoulders), long sleeves, and long pants. Naturally, given the religious nature of her change to the uniform standards, there is no basic qualm with her wearing the additional clothing, and both her parents and coach ensured throughout various matches, in these hotter climates, that she was afforded ample opportunity to stay hydrated.

However, she’s her team’s leading goal-scorer, and the reason why is her inhibition in regards to tackling due to her long pants. Additionally, because female players [in my organization] tend to be a nicer lot in general, her opponents were generally very careful about challenging her directly for fear that they would become encumbered in her additional gear (especially the headdress and long sleeves) and cause a foul in their defending third. During the games I refereed and watched her team, her attire did not result in any additional proclivity for fouls against her. The points being that she gained a very clear advantage due to the additional attire.

So, my question, as you can imagine, is the nefarious beauty of “At what point do religious edicts regarding attire outweight fairness and sportsmanship in our Sport?”

For what it’s worth, [my organization]’s answer to this question was “Always”, despite the organization’s overall deference to safety as prime tenet. I ask the question because [this] decision seems to be counter to the Memorandum dated November 22, 2002, and because the anecdotal reference in the Memorandum doesn’t really cover that much religious “covering”.

However, in a day and age in which the female side of the sport is picking up Internationally, the particular issue of Muslim women’s teams facing Western women’s teams might ought to be addressed sooner rather than later.

USSF answer (July 28, 2004):
The referee needs to distinguish between issues of safety and issues of “unfair advantage.” There cannot be any weakening of the referee’s authority with regard to player safety. As to any “unfair advantage” that might accrue to the player with religious attire, that is strictly a matter of perception, rather than one of fact. For once, perception is not reality.

We can do no more than emphasize that the position paper of November 22, 2002, cited in full below, is still applicable and that no further position can be taken by the U. S. Soccer Federation. If and when an issue arises on the international level regarding a conflict between the dress of teams from Muslim nations and those of the rest of the world, we will receive guidelines from the International Board and from FIFA.

Subject: Player Dress
Date: November 22, 2002

According to Law 4, The Players’ Equipment, a player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player. The basic compulsory equipment of a player is a jersey or shirt, shorts, stockings, shinguards, and footwear. There is no provision for a player to wear a skirt or similar clothing.

However, in an analogous situation, in respect of certain religions that require members to wear head coverings, the Secretary General of the United States Soccer Federation has given permission to those bound by religious law to wear such headcoverings, usually a turban or yarmulke, provided the referee finds that the headgear does not pose a danger to the player wearing it or to the other players. This principle could be extended to other clothing required of members by their religion.

Since the referee may not know all the various religious rules, players must request the variance well enough ahead of game time by notifying the league. The league will notify the state association, which will pass the information on to the state referee committee. The state referee committee will make sure that the referees working that league’s matches are informed.

The referee is still bound by the requirements of Law 4 ‹ the player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player, or use this equipment or clothing to circumvent the Laws of the Game. An example would be the use of equipment or garments to trap the ball or to distract an opponent.


PLAYERS EATING; OFFENSIVE, INSULTING, OR ABUSIVE LANGUAGE [LAW 12]
Your question:
[A visiting referee from another country has] two questions. First question is whether players are allowed to eat during a game. For example, can a player who becomes hungry retreats to the bench (being allowed to do so by the ref just like when they change their shoes), eats, and goes back to the field (with the permission by the ref)? I understand that players are only allowed to drink water along a touch line during out-of-play.

Second question is offensive/insulting.abusive language. Since English is not my native language, I often have hard time being sure what to do. Is caution appropriate when someone says, “It wasn’t a foul”? What about when he says something like “didn’t you see what he did?” I believe f-words are red card. But if you could give me any idea how I can easily distinguish things for a red card from things for a yellow card.

USSF answer (July 28, 2004):
Players are allowed to eat and drink if they leave the field of play with the permission of the referee. As to water, players need not leave the field, but must stand at the touch line and not bring any containers onto the field.

The referee must first decide whether or not language or gestures are offensive, insulting, or abusive. If they are, in the opinion of the referee, offensive, insulting, or abusive, then they must be punished. Referees must exercise common sense and punish any such acts that exceed the limits of acceptable behavior. See the USSF position paper on language, dated March 14, 2003, which may be downloaded from this site and several others.


PLAYER ALLOWED TO STAY ON AFTER SECOND CAUTION; WHAT TO DO? [LAW 5]
Your question:
In a U-19 boys at a youth regional championship game, the referee issues a yellow card to #12. This was the second yellow card to #12 which could have resulted into a send off. The referee does not realize that this was the second caution because he was using a write-on card and due to sweat and rain, the card/#12 has been smeared. Since his write-on card does not show the #12, the player is left to continue. None of the crew (Ref, SAR, JAR and 4th) realized this error. The game continued with #12 still in it and his team still playing full. During a substitution opportunity, #12 was substituted. Eventually, the field marshal for this game spotted the error and immediately drew the attention of the referee. The referee stopped the game, issued a red card to #12 who is now sitting on the bench, removed the substitute for #12 and the game resumed with the one team playing with 10 men. (In this tournament, there is no reentry of substitutes.)

Questions: (1) Is the referee’s decision correction correct? (2) Since #12 is no longer a player at this point, should his team be made to play short.

USSF answer (July 28, 2004):
As long as the situation was brought to the referee’s attention during the game, the decision to issue the red card to #12 was correct. The decision to remove the player who had been substituted in was also correct, despite that player’s innocence. Number 12 was sent off for conduct that occurred when he was a player, so the referee had no choice but to remove the innocent player. However, the referee made a serious error in using a “write-on” card under the conditions you describe.


IT’S CALLED A “KICK-OFF” FOR A REASON [LAW 8]
Your question:
On the kickoff , on the first touch the kicker rolls the ball forward two or three inches and WITHOUT removing his foot flicks the ball backwards. It does go forward and it is not a second touch. I have asked several ref’s in the area and all agree it is wrong but can’t decide exactly why or what to call, if anything.

USSF answer (July 28, 2004):
You have described a “roll”-off, not a “kick”-off. The ball must be KICKED forward, not rolled forward, just as it says in Law 8: “the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward.”


PLAYER LOSES FOOTWEAR [LAW 4]
Your question:
I was recently centering a men’s league game, and a rather odd situation occured. Team A was attacking Team B’s goal inside the 18 yard box. I noticed my AR’s flag begin to wave rapidly, and I blew my whistle and ran over to speak with him. I figured I may have missed a minor jersey tug, or something may have been said that may have deserved a card. However, this wasn’t the case. He told me that a player on Team B had lost a shoe, and that the restart should be an indirect kick from where the shoe first came off. At this point, I assumed that he was saying the play was dangerous. I, however, did not think it was dangerous, but I obeyed him, and issued an indirect kick inside the box. He is a state referee, and I am only 17, so I didn’t protest this (after the game even). Was this the correct ruling?

USSF answer (July 21, 2004):
According to the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, 2004 edition, Law 4, Q&A 10 (no change from the 2000 edition):
10. A player accidentally loses his footwear and immediately scores a goal. Is this permitted?
Yes. The player did not intentionally play barefoot, because he lost his footwear by accident.

There is certainly no issue of “playing dangerously” here. The state referee would appear to be taking advantage of his seniority to show you who is really “the boss.” Law 4 is pretty clear on what must happen if there is an infringement, so let’s go with that: “For any infringement of Law 4 play need not be stopped. The player at fault is instructed by the referee to leave the field of play to correct his equipment. The player leaves the field of play when the ball next ceases to be in play, unless he has already corrected his equipment.”

As to the state referee, we suggest that his mechanics and judgment do not follow the instructions in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees (newly reissued for 2004). Nuff said.


OPEN DISSENT IN MLS MATCHES [LAW 12]
Your question:
Within the past several years, I, as well as many of my associates, have noticed a marked increase of televised incidences of open dissent within the MLS.

My family, along with three other families, have Galaxy tickets within 10 rows of the Touchline, at about the 28 yd line. We have also witnessed a marked increase in the use of abusive language towards the Referee and his Assistants, in the past couple of years. For instance on a recent, what would have been a pleasant summer evening, enjoying our local team playing futball, parents and children, within ear-shot of the field (at least 20 rows, at the magnificent Home Depot Center) were bombarded with players yelling at the Referee and/or AR’s “….what the f…. are you blind?” or ” you ‘re f…ing out of your mind, I was nowhere near him”, and on and on ad nauseum!

1. I am a referee. I am currently awaiting my Final Field Assessment for my National AYSO Badge. I passed my USSF State Badge (88%) and am awaiting assessment. I referee high school.
2. I understand and completely agree with the Foul Language Memorandum.
3. I am a complete supporter of the 1st Amendment of the United States of America, Constitution.

However, what disturbs me about this trend of using abusive language towards referees and their assistants is:
1. The MLS seems to be turning a ‘blind eye’ towards this obvious degradation of The Game.
2. The increased televised coverage of emotional outbursts of vulgarity toward the referees or assistant referees (although naked streakers are ‘blocked-out’ (too vulgar?))
3. Because of this increased media coverage and acceptance by the viewing public……..

My job as a referee is becoming increasingly more difficult, because players, coaches and spectators are now thinking that is acceptable for players and coaches  to constantly argue and challenge any referee decision. I know I can counsel and talk to the players ( as I do.) I know I can show a card for dissent (and according to my local association, I ‘Must Card for Dissent,’ as I do.) But, is there anything you guys at the top of the foodchain can do to enforce the LOTG at the National Level ( please ask Arena to discuss this with his players also), so that our jobs at bottom would be a little easier?

USSF answer (July 20, 2004):
Both the Federation and the MLS share your concern about this situation. Both had been feeling very good about the decrease in the level of dissent over the past several years.

The MLS instituted a mandatory incremental fine schedule for cautions/yellow cards for dissent and game disrespect (formerly called “bringing the game into disrespute) and greater sanctions have been imposed. By increasing the values for most cautions/yellow cards by 1 point, it now takes approximately 4 cautions to earn a suspension, rather than 5 as in the past. The change makes it tougher on the players, rather than easier. Excellent effects had been noticed, despite the fact that MLS has changed its point system to actually decrease the number of cards which lead to suspension.

The bottom line is that the referees must still get it done on the field. They have been given all the tools and the full support of both League and Federation. In fact, dealing with dissent is a topic on almost every conference call and is one of the points of emphasis at every National Camp. Some, but certainly not all, officials have too much tolerance for dissent despite our best efforts. The MLS has promised that this will be a topic of discussion at the referee meeting at the All Star game.


PLAYER EQUIPMENT [LAW 4]
Your question:
I have been questioned concerning the legal way to wear an ankle brace. Typically the lace up type. My stand is that they should be under the sock just as a shinguard. I cannot find any clear directions in the LOTG or the ATR. Can you help me out?

USSF answer (July 20, 2004):
Ankle braces may be worn in any way that is safe for all players, the same requirement that must be met for any equipment. There is no specific or exclusive way, other than one which ensures complete safety for all participants. The final decision rests with the referee for this particular game; not the last game, not the next game, but this game.


‘KEEPER HANDLING IN OWN PENALTY AREA IS _NOT_ DENIAL [LAW 12]
Your question:
Situation: A goalkeeper in his PA realizes the errant backpass from his fullback is about to enter the goal. The GK stops the ball completely with his hand.
1. Is this an intentional pass to the keeper?
2. Is this an offense?
3. If an offense, is it punishable by send off for SFP, denying an OGO? or
4. If an offense, is it punishable by an IFK by the attacking team?

USSF answer (July 20, 2004):
1. Likely yes, but only the referee on the spot will know if the “errant backpass” was a ball deliberately kicked to a place where the goalkeeper could play it.
2. Possibly. See above.
3 and 4. If it is an offense, it would not be serious foul play, which requires that two opposing players be competing for the ball and that a direct-free-kick foul have been committed. That is not what you described. It is also not denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, because the goalkeeper is specifically exempted from being sent off for handling which prevents a goal‹even if the handling is an offense. If the referee finds any infringement of the Law, then it would be simply that the goalkeeper has played a ball deliberately kicked to him by a teammate, for which the correct restart is an indirect free kick.


REFEREE LIABILITY [LAW 5]
Your question:
I referee in an adult league with several referees who are older (over 60) and in poor physical shape. Unfortunately, most of the referees I am assigned to work with cannot keep up with the pace of the game, and seem unable to see many of the obvious fouls that occur right next to them. Several serious injuries have occurred recently, and I am concerned about continuing to referee with these officials who cannot see well enough or are not fit enough to keep the game in control. Do I need to worry about liability when I am officiating, if the other referee’s negligence causes serious injury? Do players have any legal recourse when they are injured due to negligence of the officials not doing their job appropriately?

USSF answer (July 19, 2004):
You need to file your concerns in writing with your State Referee Administrator. You should say that you are concerned about your own liability and want those responsible for the games to know that you are concerned and that the assignments of these officials should be looked at. That puts you on record and should something happen, you should be fine with your liability insurance. Tell the SRA what league you officiate in and the location of the league‹your SRA has many thousands of referees to deal with.


STRANGE SIGNALS [LAW 5]
Your question:
In the Copa America during play I am seeing the Referee wave his hand back and forth over his head. Is this a formal signal for “continue play” or what does this signal mean?

USSF answer (July 16, 2004):
It is not a formal signal that is recognized worldwide.


WHAT’S THE CALL? [LAW 12; LAW 15]
Your question:
This circumstance came up at a meeting. By the referee who failed his up grade assessment off of his call. He didn’t tell us what he called but gave us this scenario.

Attacker loses the ball and the defender gains possession of the ball. Defender looks up and has 2 attackers running at him so he turns around and kicks it as hard as he can across the front of the goal. 2nd Defender hears the keeper telling him to watch out and then sees the ball coming so he throws his hands up to protect his face. The ball glances off of his hands and goes out the touch line.

What would be the correct call?

USSF answer (July 16, 2004):
The correct restart would be a throw-in.


APPLYING THE ADVANTAGE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
The june 29, 2004, response to the situation where the wind blows the ball back towards the goal and the keeper second-touches it, trying, without success, to prevent the ball passing into the goal, does not seem materially different from the q&a’s to the lotg, law 12, item 11. here, the keeper played the ball to a teammate who kicks the ball at the goal and the keeper touches it, but does not prevent the ball passing into the goal. the touch becomes a passback, similar to the second touch situation. in the q&a the goal is scored. would you please explain why this is not an ifk situation with no goal scored like the goalkick/wind example?

USSF answer (July 15, 2004):
This can be explained quite easily. One situation (the goal kick) falls under Law 16, while the other (the pass to the goalkeeper) falls under Law 12. There is no advantage awarded for infringements of Law 16. The advantage is awarded ONLY for infringements of Law 12

TO REPEAT: All referees must remember that the advantage clause is applied ONLY FOR INFRINGEMENTS OF LAW 12 and not for infringements of any other Laws.


KEEPING TIME [LAW 7; LAW 18]
Your question:
Law 7: The match lasts two equal periods of 45 minutes
Law 7: Allowance is made in either period for all time lost

Now comes a young referee who asks the question at a local meeting: if I add time to the first half, then to be certain that the second half is “equal” then the same amount of time must be added to the second half. The logic that the young official applied sure seems to fit so I went to the questions and did not find anything to pass on. So, have I been doing it wrong by keeping time lost separate from the competiion period lengths? I base this on watching upper level matches and rarely does the lost time in the first half match the second half (typically more lost time in the second half because of substitutions.)

USSF answer (July 15, 2004):
The young official’s question is legitimate, but based on a false premise. The first reason the premise is false is that the requirement to give teams the full number of minutes suitable to the competition for each half does NOT mean that the referee should make the second half precisely equal to the first half in gross overall length. The requirement for 45 (or whatever number of) minutes means that the players should be given the full number, with allowance made for adding time for various stoppages and consequent loss of playing time that are not part of normal play.  Many of the reasons for stoppages in play and thus ³lost time² are entirely normal elements of the game. The referee takes this into account in applying discretion regarding the time to be added. The main objective should be to restore playing time to the match which is lost due to excessively prolonged or unusual stoppages. The second part of the false premise is that the amount of time lost in one half will be the same as in the other, which will never happen.


GETTING THE REQUIRED DISTANCE [LAW 13]
Your question:
I coach a U18 girls team. At our last game our team was awarded a free kick just outside our 18 yard box. As our player approached the ball to take the kick, an opponent standing to her right (within 10 yards) moved in front of her and when she kicked the ball it struck the opponent and rebounded to the opponent’s teammate – a shot was taken but narrowly missed. There was no call. I don’t like to say things to the refs from the sideline, but I did say, “what about 10 yards”? The assistant referee said, “have your players ask for 10 yards if they want it”. Later my players told me the ref told them, “you have to ask for ten yards.” This seems to be a trend in our area – to require the team with the kick to ASK FOR 10. This in my opinion is a direct violation of Law 13, interrupts the flow of the game and gives the opponent an advantage not in the spirit of the game. From Law 13, “If when a free kick is taken, an opponent is closer to the ball than the required distance: the kick is retaken.” Also, to fail to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a free kick is a cautionable offence and the offender is shown the yellow card.

I am also a referee and I am increasingly dismayed at players encroaching on 10 yards and being very surprised when I give them a yellow card for not moving the required distance from the ball. Am I missing something? What say you?

USSF answer (July 15, 2004):
The referee is under no obligation to stop the kicker from kicking the ball at a free kick, no matter where the opposing players are positioned, particularly if the kicking player has seen that the opponent is encroaching. Both teams are expected to abide by the requirement to get the ball back in play. All referees should encourage and allow quick free kicks, particularly if that is what the kicking team wants to do. At all free kicks the referee should back away, watch what happens, and intervene in quick free kick situations where an opponent closer than the minimum required distance actively makes a play for the ball (as opposed to, luckily, having the ball misplayed directly to him). The referee must have a feel for the game, how it has been going, how it is going now. That “feel” must be applied to each and every situation individually. There is no black-and-white formula to follow.

Under the Law, the offending team is required to back off at least 10 yards from the spot of the ball immediately. Most do not. The referee should stop the restart process only if it is clear that the kicking team either does not want or cannot take a quick kick. Section 13.3 of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” tells us that “The referee should move quickly out of the way after indicating the approximate area of the restart and should do nothing to interfere with the kicking team’s right to an immediate free kick. At competitive levels of play, referees should not automatically “manage the wall,” but should allow the ball to be put back into play as quickly as possible, unless the kicking team requests help in dealing with opponents infringing on the minimum distance.” However, the referee cannot abdicate the responsibility to ensure that the free kick is indeed “free.”

Finally, this is the way things should be done at competitive levels of play (which one would presume U18 girls coached by a referee would be). Only at a much younger level might the referee step in on his own initiative, unasked, to enforce the required distance and then only if it was clear from the body language that the kicker was perplexed by opponents being too close.


SIGNALS FOR KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK? [PROCEDURES]
Your question:
One official in the middle, one supervising the kick, one on the goal line (line judge).
1) Ball gets kicked over the goal, obvious no goal. No signal?
2) Ball is kicked into the back of the net, obvious to all its a goal. Supervising official points to the center circle?
3) Ball is kicked and apparently saved, but it has crossed the goal line. Line judge raises the flag straight up in the air to signal ball has crossed the goal line. Supervising official points to the center circle then line judge drop the flag?
4) Ball apparently goes into goal, but line judge sees it has not crossed the goal line. AR signals nothing. What signal if any does the supervising official give?

USSF answer (July 14, 2004):
These are kicks from the penalty mark, not part of the game, and therefore the referee need not signal for a goal in the same way that he would signal if the goal occurred during regular play. There is no need for any referee signals for goal/no goal in the case of kicks from the penalty mark.

In potential dispute situations such as described in 3 and 4, the mechanics need be no different than what the officiating team would use in the case of a penalty kick. The officials should follow whatever procedure the referee wants and covers in the pregame.


UNSAFE EQUIPMENT [LAW 4]
Your question:
U-12 Girls Premier level match: forward strikes gk on upper body with her forearm cast (which is padded) after gk takes possession of ball. The referee speaks to offending player and tells her he will return with a card as play continues for another 15 or 20 seconds. When ball goes into touch, referee shows the yellow.

Player remains in the match. What technically correct options were available to the referee? Would a ruling of ineligability have been proper, given that the cast, having been used improperly in the commission of a foul, is now dangerous equipment?

I am very much interested in the law and logic you would apply in this situation.

USSF answer (July 10, 2004):
There is no magic in the logic, and Law 4 is quite clear on the matter: The safety of any item worn by a player is solely in the opinion of the referee, who should inspect all players before the match. However, simply because an item appears safe before the match starts does not mean that it remains safe throughout the match, particularly if it is misused by a player. That would be the case in the situation you provide.

After the player is cautioned‹possibly too light a sentence, given the action you describe‹the player should be removed from the match until she removes the cast whose use has endangered another player. If she is unable or unwilling to do that, then she may be replaced by a substitute, if there are any available. If not, the team will play short.


WHO FOULED WHOM? [LAW 12]
Your question:
In a game I was playing in, this kid had been cheap shotting me all game, on one play he slid fom behind and took me out, I got up and pushed him in retaliation and asked him what his prblem was. The ref appropiately gave me the yellow for retalliation but gave the kick to them. I asked him why it wasn’t our kick and he said it was because my foul was more severe even though he already called the foul on him. Is that correct? Shouldn’t it still be our kick with me deserving a card for retalliation? Thanks for the help!

USSF answer (July 7, 2004):
Yes, the referee should have awarded the free kick to your team, as it was you against whom the foul was committed. The referee should then have cautioned and shown you the yellow card for unsporting behavior and restarted with the direct free kick for your team.

What you did was not a foul, as the foul had already been committed by your opponent. You committed misconduct in retaliation for the foul.


DEALING WITH COACHES [LAW 5]
Your question:
In a recent game where the home team (U15G) was getting frustrated, the coach yelled out toward the center ref (me) “They’re mocking our girls” to which the opposing GK responded back to the coach “Shut up.” I was aware of no chatter going on within the pitch so i stopped play and gave a firm talk to the GK about her response. as i was approaching her, the home coach shouted “Give her a caution” and said it again once i was complete with my conversation with her. the game had run generally smoothly to that point and the GK had displayed no attitude toward me or anyone else. So my question is: While a tad out of line to be yelling back toward the coach, the GK did not use profanity nor say anything else. Was a firm discussion with her within my bounds or should that have been an automatic caution for UB or DT? i should have had a discussion with the coach as well, but didn’t. as always, your wisdom is appreciated.

USSF answer (July 7, 2004):
If you detected no “mocking” or similar activity on the field, then the player is not the one with whom you should have had a talk. Remind the coach that he or she has no authority at the field and is not permitted to do anything but offer encouraging comments to his or her team. If other activity persists beyond this reminder (warning), then you have no choice but to dismiss the coach for irresponsible behavior. No cards to the coach, please, unless the competition requires it.

And having a brief talk with the goalkeeper was not out of order since, though provoked, the goalkeeper should also not have become involved in a shouting match with the opposing coach.


CORRECTING REFEREE MISTAKES AFTER THE GAME [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
If a referee shows two yellow cards to a same player by mistake and only realises after the completion of the match, what will be fate of that particular player?

USSF answer (July 7, 2004):
The referee must include full details of the mistake in the match report. The eventual fate of the player is up to the competition authority.


NON-PARTICIPANT DISTANCE FROM THE FIELD [LAW 18]
Your question:
How far off of the field should non participants be kept ? Is there a standard distance before one is considered off of the field or is it left to the referee to decide?

USSF answer (July 5, 2004):
There is no restriction in the Laws of the Game on the distance that non-participants must remain off the field. That is covered by the rules of the competition.


CHANGING A DECISION [LAW 5]
Your question:
It states in the manual that a decision cannot be changed once play has resumed. My question, and this happened at a tournament recently. At the very end of a match a goal was scored but after a brief discussion with his assistant the referee denied the goal for the scoring player being offside. The defending team put the ball in play possibly without a signal from the referee. The referee then blew the whistle signafying the end of the match.

The team who lost the goal started arguing that the match wasn’t restarted therefore the call could still be reversed based on a legitimate argument about keeper possession. I made the decision that the goal did not count because ending the match with the whistle is equivalent to restarting play anD you can’t reverse the scoring of a goal once play has been restarted.

Was I right?

USSF answer (July 3, 2004):
The team that loses a goal will always want to argue the point. Without going into the merits of the referee’s decision, which was probably entirely accurate, the game was restarted and then the referee blew the whistle to end the game. Game over, no goal.


SLIDE TACKLE ON THE GOALKEEPER [LAW 12]
Your question:
During a pro-level game we see the ball passed back to the keeper as a routine to move the players and the play around, during a recent pro-level match this situation happened. What i would like to know is what i should do at the local level i. e., rec soccer up to adult amateur.

during a pass back to the keeper an attacker was challenging the keeper for the ball, the attacker was close enough to make a normal play for the ball, but the event unfolds like this, as the keeper gets the pass back the attacker charges to play the ball, as the keeper is getting ready to kick the ball away the attacker slide tackles the keeper and collects the ball up and makes a goal. the referee denies the goal and cards the attacker?

after looking at the replay the attackers cleats were up a little, no more than what we may or may not allow on say, someone other than the keeper.

i as a referee watch pro level games to stay ahead of what i belive kids will try to emulate on the fields, this one brought a health dose of reality to what if situation’s because of too much tv.

after reading the laws its obvious the keeper had no possesion, because he couldnt handle the ball, in that situation what protection do we offer the keeper? say if the tackle was 100% clean and if it wasnt clean what should the punishment be? by not clean i am saying it wasnt dangerous but say more trifling none the less a foul.

USSF answer (July 1, 2004):
If the tackle was executed in accordance with the Law, then there was no foul and no reason to stop the game or caution the player. However, this is why Law 12 refers to tackles which are performed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force. It is the referee’s job to sort these concepts out and apply them based on (among other things) the flow of the match and the skill level of the players.


THE REFEREE IS _NOT_ A COACH [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
I was Centering a GU10 tournament the other day and I noticed that a lot of players on both teams were heading the ball using the top of their heads..oh the pain in the faces. I advised 4 different players on correct technique during play directly following their headers. At half time. I asked both coaches to reinforce this technique with their players. The situation got better in the second half. My question is, would you call dangerous play if it continued and award an indirect free kick to the opposing team? The larger question is, what is the status of youth headers and its potential to be dangerous?

USSF answer (June 30, 2004):
Beyond the “Under-Tiny” level, the referee has no reason to lecture players on their skills, nor has the referee any authority to punish them for playing dangerously by heading the ball improperly. If a foul or misconduct occurs, the referee should punish it. If a player is not skillful, the referee can and may do nothing about it. In other words, it is not your responsibility and you should leave it to the coaches. If we don’t want the coach to referee, it would be a good idea if we didn’t coach.


REMOVING AN ASSISTANT REFEREE [LAW 6]
Your question:
In Law 6 it is stated that “In the event of undue intereference or improper conduct, the referee will relieve an assistant referee of his duties and make a report to the proper authorities.” Under what obviously extreme circumstances would constitute relieveing an assistant referee?

At a recent tournament an assistant referee made numerous outrageously derogatory comments to coaches about his collegue with the whistle. Would such (in my opinion) unethical and unprofessional behavior justify relieving an assistant referee? What about very poor performance on the part of an assistant referee? (Interestingly enough, after the match referred to, a heated confrontation arose between coaches, players, and the referee team. Three coaches were expelled and 2 send off’s were issued after the final whistle.)

USSF answer (June 29, 2004):
We would be hard put to define all the possible reasons for dispensing with the services of an assistant referee, but you have done pretty well on your own. Any unethical behavior by the AR would suffice, including making derogatory comments about the referee. The referee might also consider simply consistently poor decisions to be sufficient reason.


GOAL KICKS AND ADVANTAGE? [LAW 16]
Your question:
from the y2k Q&A, Law 16 – The Goal Kick ….    “A goalkeeper takes a goal kick and the ball passes out of the penalty area into play but is blown back by a strong wind without any other player having touched it. The goalkeeper tries to stop the ball entering the goal by touching it with his hands, but is unsuccessful. What decision does the referee give?
He awards an indirect free kick to the opposing team”

I suppose this is because of the ‘second touch’, but why not apply advantage and allow the Goal ?

USSF answer (June 29, 2004):
According to Law 16, when a goalkeeper takes the goal kick, if, after the ball is in play, the goalkeeper deliberately handles the ball before it has touched another player, an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if the infringement occurred inside the goalkeeper¹s penalty area, the kick to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred (keeping in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8). This has consistently been upheld by the IFAB as taking precedence over any subsequent actions, thus negating any application of the advantage clause.


HEARING AIDS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I coach youth soccer at the competitive club level. We have had a boy on our team for 2 seasons now who wears hearing aids. Our team just finished the season with a tournament yesterday, and during play the boy I mentioned made a couple of good offensive headers. It occurred to me then to wonder for the first time, what he (as a player) and/or I (as a coach) should do in the event of his dropping a hearing aid during play. I look forward to your advice. Thanks.

USSF answer (June 29, 2004):
First things first: You are operating under the assumption that the player will have been allowed to wear the hearing aid, which is certainly not a given until the referee has inspected it and found it not dangerous to any player, including the wearer. If the referee has allowed the hearing aid to be worn, then the player may begin looking for it immediately, but the referee is under no obligation to stop play for it. Play continues until the next stoppage in the game. Then, if the player has not yet found the hearing aid, the referee will certainly allow time for the player to look for it.

You and the player should bring the matter of the hearing aid to the attention of the referee before the game. If the hearing aid falls off during the game, you should alert the nearest assistant referee, who will relay the information to the referee at the next stoppage.


ENDING A PERIOD OF PLAY [LAW 7; LAW 18]
Your question:
I was wondering if you would be able to help me with a couple of questions.

1) When a ref calls full time in a game, can the ball be in the air.

2) Could you give me your thoughts on what the outcome of the following play would result in.
Ref is calling out time left to play, 20 secs, 10 secs. Attacking team put ball in play from a throw in. Attacking player kicks ball from just inside penalty area on goal.  A defender (Not goalie) some 7 meters from attacker stops ball with forearms above head height, ref blows whistle as ball impacts with the defender. Ref declares full-time as time is up. Is this the correct action, or should a penalty of been awarded.

I’m just a little confused on how a game is ended. Any help would be appreciated.

USSF answer (June 29, 2004):
1) There is no set or particular moment to end a game. Law 5 empowers the referee to act as timekeeper and to keep a record of the match. Law 7 instructs the referee to add time (at his discretion) for time lost in either half of a game or in any overtime period for the reasons listed in Law 7 (Allowance for Time Lost). Referees allow additional time in all periods for all time lost through substitution(s), assessment of injury to players, removal of injured players from the field of play for treatment,wasting time, as well as ³other causes² that consume time, such as kick-offs, throw-ins, dropped balls, free kicks, and replacement of lost or defective balls. Many of the reasons for stoppages in play and thus ³lost time² are entirely normal elements of the game. The referee takes this into account in applying discretion regarding the time to be added. The main objective should be to restore playing time to the match which is lost due to excessively prolonged or unusual stoppages. Law 5 tells us that the referee’s decisions regarding facts connected with play are final.

Some referees will end the playing period while the ball is in play and there is no threat to either goal, such as allowing a team to take a goal kick and then ending the period. Others will end the playing period at a stoppage. Our advice is to do what is comfortable for the referee and fair to the players.

2) If the referee has determined that there was no foul, then the game is over. If the referee has determined that there was a foul by the player who stopped the ball with his forearms, then a penalty kick must be awarded and the game extended until the kick has been completed. The problem faced by the referee was largely of his own making: referees would never “call out” time remaining in minutes, much less in seconds. All that is needed is communication with the assistant referees 1-2 minutes before the end of regular play which indicates how much additional time (if any) there will be. Only in the highest-level competitions might any public announcement be made of this information, and that would come over the public address system, not from referee to players or team officials.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [LAW 14]
Your question:
Final game ended tied after regulation and overtime so went to penalty kicks to determine a winner. The teams were tied at 3-3 after 5 kicks each, and then the 6th blue player steps up to take her kick, but she shoots before the referee blows his whistle. She puts the shot right down the middle and the keeper saves it easily. However the referee respots the ball saying that the kicker has to wait until he blows his whistle, and the kicker scores on the retake. Blue goes on to win after another couple of kicks each.
Should that kick have been retaken, or should the referee have given the white keeper the benefit of the save since Blue was at fault for kicking too early?

In email discussion, I answered:
Maybe you think I’m out of bounds on this one, but I would not have required the retake.
The reason? Fairness. Here’s why:
The keeper was ready (clearly, since keeper made the save).
The kicker was ready.
The referee wasn’t ready.
If it was only the referee that wasn’t ready, why penalize the keeper? The kicker got “penalized” for shooting early by having the save made. But by retaking, it is the innocent keeper that gets penalized.
I have since been reminded (as I knew before) that the ATR says the kick should be retaken. And, in my opinion, it is the ref that allows himself to get into this mess. But if it happens, wouldn¹t the wise referee wisely proceed to the next kick, not a retake, since he/she obviously gave the kicker a nod or hand signal or wink to start, instead of a whistle, on that particular kick?

USSF answer (June 26, 2004):
The kick from the penalty mark may not be taken until the referee has signaled, just as in a penalty kick. In addition, the referee decides when a penalty kick has been completed. In this case, the kick was not properly taken and thus must be retaken.

Why this sympathy for the goalkeeper? Whose team committed a direct-free-kick in the penalty area, possibly depriving the opposing team of a chance for a goal?  Lex dura sed lex. The law is hard, but it is the law. [And, yes, the same response would apply to normal penalty kicks.]


REFEREE MISAPPLICATION OF THE LAW [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
My u-17 boys team were playing in a USSF-sanctioned tournament and the following occurred. The other team had had a player ejected and were playing with 10 players. They were later awarded a penalty kick and scored. After the goal and before the kickoff, I noticed that they had 11 players on the field. Noone had left or come on after the penalty kick was scored. Should the goal count and what is the re-start. Thanks

USSF answer (June 25, 2004):
If you were going to file a protest, in most competitions you should have done it at the field. Check your local rules on this. You can still complain about the referee’s misapplication of the Laws by filing a letter with the competition authority (the tournament committee) and with the state association.

If the referee detects the extra player before the restart, that player is cautioned for entering the field of play without the permission and then sent from the field. The goal does not count and, at the moment, the correct restart is a goal kick.

If the referee had already restarted with a kick-off, the goal remains scored.


GETTING IT RIGHT! [LAW 18]
Your question:
Am I correct in thinking that everything in this hypothetical case is a legitimate procedure?

QUESTION: A player commits an act of violent conduct behind the referee’s back, but close to an AR. The AR did not get the culprit’s number, but is sure that he could identify the face. The referee consults with the victim and obtains the accused’s number. The referee then calls the accused over to talk to him, profiling him to the AR (eye-witness). The AR then either gives a positive confirming signal or some other signal and the referee acts upon this information. This establishes a legal path for the referee’s action or inaction, right?

If the accused fails to come to the referee having “not heard him” and having “not heard his captain sent to fetch him,” the next action will be for the referee to go to the bench and have his coach call him over, which might be a long way from the eye-witness. The object of the referee is to ascertain the identity of the VC culprit, if possible. So far the referee might not be certain that the accused really heard the referee nor that his captain said anything to him at all. If the referee becomes certain that the accused has deliberately avoided his summons, the accused is guilty of dissent. May the referee also thereby infer that the accused is guilty of VC? Any other suggestions?

USSF answer (June 25, 2004):
The resourceful referee will do everything possible to punish the correct person for serious misconduct. In doing so, the referee is expected to make appropriate use of the assistant referees and the fourth official.


TOUCHED OR PLAYED = MADE CONTACT WITH [LAW 11]
Your question:
In a recent tournament, on two occasions in different games, the ball was headed to a teammate who was clearly in an offside position. On one of the two occasions, the attacker put the ball in the net and a goal was awarded. Neither of the ARs raised the flag for offside, and they were both questioned by spectators/coaches as to why this was not offside. I heard both of them say that although the player was standing in an offside position, the ball was headed by the teammate, and thus it was not an offside infraction. Is this correct? (My question has to do with the words “touched or played” in Law 11—heading the ball to a teammate is not considered touching or playing it to them?)

USSF answer (June 25, 2004):
If a player is in an offside position, it makes no difference how the teammate plays the ball. If the player becomes actively involved after the teammate plays the ball, then the correct decision is offside.


REFEREE MISSES THROW-IN, STOPS PLAY [LAW 15; LAW 18]
Your question:
Here is a strange situation that mystified me, in an otherwise well-called match, advice appreciated:
1) Attack has numbers up in the final 1/3rd but a defender manages to push the ball across touch, in the vicinity of a linesman who made the appropriate signal.
2) Attacker recovers ball and throws in quickly to take advantage of numbers up near goal.
3) Striker approaches penalty area with the ball and a scoring chance is on the line when referee stops play.
4) Referee claims he did not see the throw in and that it should be retaken.
5) Stoppage allows defense to recover in numbers and the ensuing play was of no consequence.

The question is not whether or not the referee saw the throw in, but what the referee should do once he realizes he did not see the throw in.

Would it be best to allowing play to continue to see how a numbers-up chance evolved, then consult with the linesman once a goal has been scored to see if, indeed, the throw had been taken?

An important factor is that the referee knows that he is uncertain about the throw in because he did not watch the ball the whole time due to other distractions, obstructed view, back turned etc. (otherwise the throw in would have been seen). This uncertainty must be taken into account in the referee’s decision.

When questioned, the referee admitted that he might have missed the throw in, but he must stop play anyways because of difficulties in case there was misconduct on the ensuing play. I did not understand this reasoning, as misconduct can be penalized at any time, ball in or out of play (a foul cannot be given if the throw had not occurred, but a caution might, I assume).

My instincts tell me that the referee should only stop play if he actually sees the ball brought across touch illegally. If he was distracted or obstructed from viewing the play, he should allow play to continue, especially in a critical, goal scoring situation, and consult the linesman during play or at a stoppage, rather than guess. A wrong guess to stop play has more consequence than a wrong guess to continue, which can be recovered from, unless I am missing something.

We learn a lot from your advice, especially when it addresses an experience we have been through. Thank you very much.

USSF answer (June 24, 2004):
If the referee was able to see the assistant referee (what you call the “linesman”), the official who actually signaled the throw-in, then there is no excuse for not looking to the AR again for confirmation, rather than making a mistake by stopping play for the wrong reason.

In any event, what should mystify you is why the referee would feel that he had to “see the throw-in” since the main purpose of this restart is to get the ball back on the field and this was apparently accomplished. Trust the AR to indicate if there had been anything seriously wrong with it.


HANGING ON THE CROSSBAR [LAW 12]
Your question:
I noticed in a Euro Cup game a player could have headed the ball from going into the net had he been able to jump up and wrap his hands around the top of the crossbar. Is there some FIFA law I missed that prohibits hanging on the crossbar to head the ball?

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
Players are not allowed to use any portion of the field or its appurtenances (such as the goal or the corner posts) as an aid in playing either the ball or against another player. To do so is to bring the game into disrepute. The penalty for that is a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior. If the ball was still in play, the correct restart is an indirect free kick for the opposing team.


LENGTH OF SUSPENSION [ADMIN]
Your question:
In a co-ed league I am in, I was red carded for dissenting a call made by the ref. Besides the fact that I disagreed with the call, if anything I should have been given a yellow, the league suspended me for two games. I asked why I was being suspended beyond the ‘normal’ one game suspension and the league director answered this is no ‘normal’ one game suspension and that many players assume this. Can you provide some insight on this please?

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
We will not debate the call, as there is not enough information. The length of a normal suspension is one game, but the league may increase this at its pleasure.


SHOW THE CARD, REF!! [LAW 12]
Your question:
Must a player be shown a card to be officially ³cautioned² or yellow-carded during a game? Asked another way, if the referee does not show a card to the player or coaches, can the referee put into his report later that a card was issued?

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
The referee should show the card at any caution or send-off; however, if the referee fails to show the card, the caution or send-off is still valid and must be reported to the competition authority.


POSITION IS EVERYTHING IN LIFE [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Is it legal for let’s say a forward who doesn’t have possession of the ball to block (to stand in the defender’s way and not let him through) a defender who’s trying to get to an opposing team member who does have the ball?

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
The answer depends on what you mean by “stand in the defender’s way Š.” All players have a right to a place on the field. If a player establishes that place first, then the fact that an opponent might want to go somewhere and the player is in the way is just bad luck on the opponent’s part. If a player steps into the path of the opponent who is already moving and the ball is nowhere within playing distance, then the player is impeding (an indirect free kick foul) if his action forces the opponent to stop, swerve, or slow down. If the player actually makes contact with the opponent, this could be a direct free kick foul.

As with many things in soccer, the main issue is who establishes first a course of play.


USING THE WHISTLE [LAW 18]
Your question:
I am a ref and during a recent assessment I had, I was told that the use of whistle is not necessary after a goal is scored. The following is the mechanics I follow after a goal is scored:
1. I look at my AR and confirm the goal
2. Point to the center of the field and whistle
3. Move to center for the kick-off

I did review the USSF ” Guide to Procedures for Referees, AR and Fourth Officials” and it does not mention the use of whistle after a goal. In my opinion it seems that the use of the whistle and the hand signal is a good way of indicating to all players that the goal is legal and the ball should go to the kick-off location for a restart.

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
While the use of a whistle to signal that play is stopped following the scoring of a goal is not required, it is certainly helpful. Your mechanics following a possible goal seem fine to us‹and completely traditional.

The assessor, of course, is technically correct, but is not seeing the forest for the trees. The intent of the Guide’s advice about the use of the whistle is to emphasize that, in general, the less often the whistle is used unnecessarily, the more likely it will have the desired effect of gaining the attention of players when it is necessary.


TRIPPING OR LEGAL TACKLE? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
2. Tackling [for source, see below]
A tackle as such is not an infringement of the Laws of the Game. It becomes an infringement only if the tackler plays carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force, or places his opponent in danger. (a) A sliding tackle from the front or side, made with one or both legs, is permissible if, in the opinion of the referee, it is not dangerous. If, however, the player making the tackle trips his opponent before, during, or after making contact with the ball, the referee shall award a direct free kick to the opposing team. The referee must judge whether an illegal trip occurred or whether the opponent fell over the leg of the player making a legal tackle.

If a player makes a slide tackle from behind and contacts the ball, but then contacts the attackers feet and the attacker trips, would this be considered a foul? We had this discussion at our local referees association meeting, and I commented that I would call a foul because the attacker would not necessarily see the defender coming which may risk the attackers safety, and because of the slide being from behind it is very difficult to not trip the attacker if the defenders leg hooks around to contact the ball first, then the motion continues through to contact the feet even though unintentional. What would you call in this situation??

What is the interpretation/example of an illegal trip in the situation above?

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
The answer you seek is based on the opinion of the referee in each individual case. The only guidance we can give is already included in the text you cite from the USSF publication “Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players”: “The referee must judge whether an illegal trip occurred or whether the opponent fell over the leg of the player making a legal tackle.” The referee would certainly call a foul if the tackling player lifted either foot after making the clean tackle or otherwise deliberately interfered with the opponent.

Let us emphasize that, in making these decisions, the “bar” must be set even higher when the tackle occurs from behind (outside the peripheral vision) of the target. And for this reason, the punishments must be higher when an illegal tackle does occur.


TOO MANY PLAYERS IN KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [LAW 18]
Your question:
What is the procedure if you realize after the kicks have been taken and a winner is determined that one of the players participating in the kicks was not in the game when it ended and the kicks began and that player was on the winning team.

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
Abandon the game and report all the facts to the competition authority.


HOW MANY ANGELS? [LAW 18]
Your question:
I happened to review the 2004 7 + 7 Cautionable and Sending Off Offenses memorandum (both amateur and professional), and the 2004 Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players (Regional and National Cup Competitions and Tournaments) memorandum in the same time frame. There seems to be a discrepancy between the documents regarding a manditory caution for removal of the shirt in celebration of a goal.

The 7 + 7 states that it is mandatory to caution a player who “Removes the jersey after scoring a goal” (1n). there is specific reference to the goal scorer.

The Instructions for Referees…states “If a player removes his shirt to celebrate a goal, he must be cautioned…” (22 (b)) There is no specific reference to the goal scorer.

Therefore, the Instructions for Referees…makes it manditory to caution all players who remove their shirts, not just the goal scorer. The 7 + 7 makes it manditory to caution only the goal scorer, with the possibility of discretionary cautions being issued to players other than the goal scorer.

Please clarify the apparent discrepancy.

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
In the traditions of the sport and embedded in the language of the Law itself is the notion that teams score goals, not individual players. Accordingly, when the Law or the International F. A. Board refers to a player scoring a goal, it does not necessarily intend for only that player to be the focus of concern. Americans might have said “after a goal is scored” and would mean what the Board intended.

Thus, despite the otherwise slight differences in the language used in these sources, what is meant is that any player who takes a shirt off in celebration of a goal is to be cautioned. Remember, the objective is to reduce the wasting of time through excessive celebrations, and this applies to the player who put the ball into the net and any of his or her teammates.


PLAYERS SENT OFF IN OPEN CUP PLAY [ADMIN]
Your question:
Two players were sent off in an open cup game that was abandoned in the first half. May they play in the mandatory replay of the match?

USSF answer (June 18, 2004):
An official USSF question and answer of August 16, 1999, does not allow a player sent off in a game that MUST BE REPLAYED to participate in the replay.
PLAYER SENT OFF IN ABANDONED GAME THAT MUST BE REPLAYED IN FULL
Q. A game has been abandoned because of severe weather conditions. During the game, a player was sent off and received a red card for serious foul play. The rules of the competition specify that the game must be replayed in full on the following day. In other words, it is not to be a continuation of the abandoned game. May the player who was sent off participate in this game? How many players may his team use?

A. Because the game will be replayed in full at a later date, both teams may start with the maximum allowable number of players, plus the number of substitutes prescribed by the rules of the competition. The player who was sent off in the abandoned game may not participate in the game, nor may he be included in the roster of players and nominated substitutes for the game.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
A referee disallowed a goal due to offsides. The situation was similar to the picture on page 49 of the Laws of the Game 2003/2004 book used at the grade 8 course. The difference was that the ball did not rebound off the keeper directly to the player who was in the offside position when the ball was played by his teammate. The offside player had to pursue the ball which stayed near the keeper when it rebounded. During the few seconds that elapsed between the ball being originally played by his teammate and the time it took for the offside player to get to the ball, two defenders had moved closer to their goal and the orginally offside player who scored the goal was no longer in an offside position. The coach of the offending team stated that the goal should be allowed since at the moment the original offside player finally played the ball, the two defenders who arrived eliminated the offsides. I disagree with the coach.

USSF answer (June 17, 2004):
You 1, Coach 0.


GOALKEEPER CAP [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I need some clarification as to what constitutes a legal goalkeeper’s cap. Yesterday the official denied me the use of a baseball cap to shield my eyes from the 107°F Arizona sun at 6pm. He stated that it was a hard-brimmed hat & therefore illegal. I obeyed his wishes, but told him I felt he was wrong. I have lost count how many times I have seen keepers from Kasey Keller to Ray Clemence to Oliver Kahn wearing a ball cap under extreme conditions. The old cabbie hats seen worn by many a past keeper even have some shape to it!

I can understand a hard brim such as a hard hat, pith helmet, officer’s dress hat, batting helmet etc. being considered a hard brim, but just because a baseball cap has cardboard in it does not classify it as “hard-brimmed”. The brim will bend. That is why baseball players wear a batting helmet at bat.

The excuse the official gave that it was considered dangerous because if I came out on a cross & my brim could hit a forward in the nose & break it was pretty far-fetched! Anything is possible, but us goalkeepers tend to use our hands to catch the ball. That striker would have to be seriously impeding the keeper for him to be THAT close! I also pointed out that the keeper’s safety has to be taken into consideration if he cannot see a shot taken right at his head because the sun is in his eyes. You cannot effectively shield your eyes with your hand & be expected to make a catch at the same time. Mind you the ref wore a cap & sunglasses, rightfully earning the fans’ taunts calling him blind in jest!

In my 30 years of playing I have never had this be an issue until yesterday, & I can find nothing in Law 4 that prohibits a ball cap. It says a soft-brimmed HAT or cap. In my opinion, it states the HAT must be soft-brimmed. A cap is a totally different animal & not a hat.

USSF answer (June 16, 2004):
The USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” advises referees:
QUOTE
4.4 GOALKEEPER UNIFORMS AND EQUIPMENT
Under Law 4, goalkeepers must wear a jersey color distinct from the players of both teams. In addition, goalkeepers traditionally wear items of clothing besides those prescribed under Law 4. These items include soft hats or caps, gloves, pants with special hip or thigh pads, jerseys with pads along the elbows and arms, and separate pads for knees or elbows. There is no problem as long as these items of clothing do not present a danger to any players, are of a color distinct from the uniforms of players of either team and are, in the opinion of the referee, clearly related to the goalkeeper’s function. The referee should prevent any player other than the goalkeeper from wearing an item of clothing or equipment that is permitted to the goalkeeper under these criteria.

If the two goalkeepers’ shirts are the same color and neither has another shirt to change into, the referee shall allow the match to proceed.
END OF QUOTE

Traditionally the goalkeeper is allowed to wear a soft-billed cap, but there are few of those around any longer and baseball caps are generally allowed. However, the referee is the sole judge of the permissibility of these items, which must meet the requirement in Law 4 that it not be dangerous to any player. For other guidance, refer to the USSF memorandum of March 7, 2003, on player equipment.

Preventing a goalkeeper from wearing a baseball cap is overworking the principle of safety. Some referees get hung up on this matter by the term “baseball cap” and they fail to recognize the difference between the “baseball cap” worn by batters, which is rigid plastic (and clearly not permissible in a soccer match), and the “baseball cap” which is cloth with a cardboard stiffened brim. Sometime somewhere they have heard from someone that “baseball caps” are not allowed and they now lump all of them together . . . instead of using their head.

2004 Part 2

NO HIP CHECKING ALLOWED [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Is hip checking legal while two players are running down the field, competing for the ball?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
“Hip checking” in any form is never legal. There are not two sets of rules, one for men and one for women. A fair charge is shoulder to shoulder, not hip to hip. Laying hands on the other player’s hips, as in basketball, is considered to be either pushing or holding and is also not legal.


STICK TO THE LAWS OF THE GAME [LAW 18]
Your question:
I was reffing a U-19 boys game. Team A had a full roster of players but Team B played with 8 field players plus a Goalkeeper. With about 15 minutes remaining in the second half Team B was down 8-1. By the way they were playing you could tell that they did not care about the match anymore.  A good amount players and coach asked me to stop the match. As a referee is it my decision to stop a match for the respect of the game? Should I talk to the coaches and see if they have a problem? What should I do in this situation?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
If this were a match in competitive play (but not recreational), the answer is no, the referee may not stop play, shorten the half, or shorten the game length overall under these circumstances.

However, if the match were recreational and it was clear that one or both teams were no longer interested in competing, the referee could inform the coaches that play would have to be stopped if either team failed to field the minimum number of players (7 in most cases). The referee would have to provide details in the game report and the competition authority would have to decide the outcome, but at least the teams would have found a way out of their difficulties.

The difference between these two situations is that, in competitive play, it would be entirely inappropriate and unprofessional for the referee to offer such information (unless specifically asked).


TO TERMINATE OR NOT TO TERMINATE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
In a Latino match, a player in the second half Struck the referee after being sent off for violent conduct. The referee was not badly injured and was able to finish out the game. In this event, would you just abandon the game at that point? Or would you continue the match to the end?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
The primary concern for the referee under such conditions is to determine if the match could continue without endangering the safety of all participants, including the officials. In all events, the referee must submit full details in the match report. The type of competition and the ethnicity of the players make absolutely no difference.


DIAGONAL VS. DUAL SYSTEM [LAW 5; LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
Due to limited funds (we are told), our local Comp. Soccer group will only pay for one center and one AR per game. I have been told that we may not use a dual center system due to 1) Not USSF sanctioned and 2) Against USSF insurance. We have used Dual Centers in our High School games and really enjoy having the chance to work ARs in center position for experience plus having the extra eyes and control on field.

So what can be done to help move such a limited funded Comp. league or the USSF to sanction dual centers? Or what is the real story?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
This answer of May 2003 may provide some guidance. Because your competition is “competitive,” it must assign three officials to the game if it is affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation through any member organization (USASA, USYS, AYSO, SAY). One possibility not mentioned here is assigning one referee, one assistant referee, and having a volunteer club linesman (who is permitted to indicate only that the ball is out of play and can offer no other assistance to the referee).

START LENGTHY QUOTE
USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
The United States Soccer Federation does not recognize the two-man or dual system of control. Games played under the auspices of US Youth Soccer or US Soccer may be officiated only under the diagonal system of control, as provided for in the Laws of the Game. You can find the information you need in the Referee Administrative Handbook:
QUOTE
POLICY:

Systems of Officiating 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 national competitions sponsored by the U.S. Soccer Federation. require the use of this officiating system.

In order to comply with the Laws of the Game which have been adopted by the National Council, all soccer games sanctioned directly or indirectly by member organizations of the U. S. Soccer Federation must employ the diagonal system (three officials). As a matter of policy, the National Referee Committee prefers the following alternatives in order of preference:

1. One Federation referee and two Federation referees as assistant referees (the standard ALL organizations should strive to meet).

2. One Federation referee and two assistant referees, one of whom is a Federation referee and one of whom is a trainee of the local referee program.

3. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are both unrelated to either team participating in the game but are not Federation referees, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).

4. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are not both Federation referees and who are affiliated with the participating teams, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).

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 their competitions.
END OF QUOTE

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.
END LENGTHY QUOTE


DETERMINING POSITION FOR RESTART ON OFFSIDE [LAW 11; LAW 18]
Your question:
From “Questions and Answers to the Laws of the Game”:
Law 11 – Offside
5. A player moving quickly toward his opponent’s goal is penalized for an offside offense. From what position is the resulting indirect kick taken?
The kick is taken from his position when the ball was last played to him by one of his teammates.

My question: The correction position for an AR while the ball is in play is even with the second-to-last defender or the ball, whichever is closer to the goals line. What are the proper mechanics to indicate the offside infraction and then to indicate the proper position of the resulting indirect kick when the distance between the original AR’s position and the offending attacker is significant?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
After giving the proper flag signal to the referee to indicate the area of the field, the assistant referee (AR) may then indicate to the kicking team approximately where the offending player was when the player’s teammate last played the ball.

Indicating the location of the restart is not among the AR’s responsibilities under Law 6. Whether the AR supplies such information and how such information is supplied should be determined by the referee and discussed in the pregame. In general, however, indicating the location of the restart after an offside decision should not detract from the AR’s other duties–particularly the need to be in the proper position for the restart itself.


RUNNING THE BALL TO THE GOAL LINE [LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
My question deals with when an AR makes the signal for a goal kick or corner kick. Is it when they know who last touched the ball or must they run to the corner before they can signal? I was told this weekend by a referee who has been to several national referee camps that she was told that the AR cannot signal until they reach the corner flag. Thus, when the AR is positioned correctly, even with the second to last defender, at the 25 yard line and a hard shot is taken, the referee if not sure who touched it last, must wait until the AR reaches the corner and signals. This can take a couple of seconds and the players look to the referee to make the call. Having to wait the second or two results in the referee looking indecisive — not being able to make up his mind.

The referee insisted that this is the correct procedure even though she couldn’t show it to me in the procedures handbook. I contacted my SRA and he said that there is no reason for the AR to wait until they reach the corner to make the signal. She still insisted that the AR has to continue to the corner flag and then make the signal, because that is what they were taught at the national camp.

I’m also an USSF instructor and have seen nothing concerning a change in the procedures that we are to teach. Could you please clarify this for me? This is the second referee this spring that has mentioned this new (?) procedure.

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
Theoretically, the assistant referee (AR) is expected to run each and every ball all the way to the goal line. Why? To ensure that it is not touched by the goalkeeper before it leaves the field or that it does not stop on the way, becoming playable by others. However, practicality is a different matter: the AR stops on the line as soon as it becomes obvious that the ball has left the field and that a goal kick is the restart, signals the restart at the location (maybe several yards up from the goal line), and then, once the referee has responded appropriately, begins to take the position set forth in the Guide to Procedures for a goal kick restart.


CELEBRATING THE SCORING OF A GOAL [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
With the advent of the new FIFA guidance on removing of shirts (and I was pleased to see MLS enforcement in the 6/5 Dallas-Metrostars game) led me to question some of the actions we do see, at all levels. I have also seen and admit doing some of my own interpretation relative to taunting [or] unsporting behavior. At different levels of play we judge the actions accordingly. However, rather than doing my own interpretation, does USSF have published guidance beyond time wasting? I’ll provide some examples below and other than “inappropriate behavior” (I recall the leg-lift example at a corner flag), any other guidance would be welcomed.

a) Recognizing the joy of scoring, it is easy to excuse some celebration but where do we draw line? Personally, I don’t like the demonstrations where a player runs to a corner and points to the stands, but seems to be acceptable. b) Team celebration — congratulations directed to the goal scorer and the assistance definitely is in order. Team “staged” celebrations is a bit much and again what is appropriate. I have witnessed a very respected center official issue a USB Yellow to the team captain for a staged event and NFHS has indicated that this is a form of taunting. c) Individual “staged” celebration — this comes very close to a team staged event, but I have seen defenders do cartwheels as part of goal celebration. Again, another official decided to give the coach a warning (not a caution) about the team taunting their opponent. Later, in the same game, the defenders apparently didn’t get the word and the captain was given a card. I later learned that the coach was also written up for USB.

Naturally, we all have seen behavior that simply is ignored. If the celebration tends to be directed toward the goal scorer and is not consuming an inordinate amount time, I am quite comfortable with back-pedaling to my center position and simply observe. I am also quite comfortable of quietly suggesting we continue and believe I can rightly judge taunting from the celebration. However, the staged events seem to cross the line and hope to find some guidance to share with my local association as well as use for myself. Thanks.

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
As of July 1, 2004, a player must be cautioned for unsporting behavior when he completely removes his shirt over his head. Celebrating a goal is an accepted part of soccer. A caution is only warranted if a player gives an excessive demonstration of jubilation: by removing his shirt (as of July 1, 2004), jumping over the boundary fence, gesticulating at his opponents or spectators, ridiculing them by pointing to his shirt, or similar provocative action.

Nowhere in the Laws of the Game do we find anything about team cautions or cautioning the captain for the team’s misdoings. There is certainly nothing about cautioning the coach, who is either dismissed for irresponsible behavior or warned or ignored. Those are concepts from high school soccer, which is not played according to the Laws of the Game.


OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Now the question I am asking happened in a u-10 rec game but it never the less made me think what would I call if it happened in a adult game or u-15 game. I have been looking in the advice to referees book and found the examples of obvious goal scoring opportunities but not if it isn’t a obvious opportunity i the box. The situation was: The player was going sideways in the box with the intentions of getting by the traffic then being able to turn and shoot to the goal, about twenty feet out, with lots of players in between. Now I have learned that because their is more than one defender between the person with the ball and the goal so I know that it’s not a send off. The defender reaches out from behind the offensive player with the ball and pulls on the back of his shirt to slow him down, so he can’t get around to get a shot off. I didn’t give a caution because it wasn’t a goal scoring opportunity, in my opinion, allthough if he hadn’t been slowed down he would have made the turn and got a nice shot off without any players except the keeper in the way. Should I have given a Penalty kick for the holding because it happened in the box?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
First things first: Please remember that there is no such thing as a caution for attempting to deny an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

Without getting fully into the 4Ds and the other details of dealing with obvious goalscoring opportunities, it is clear that because of the presence of another defender, there was no obvious opportunity. However, despite the lack of an obvious goalscoring opportunity, the referee may still deal with player misconduct. Blatant holding, such as you describe, is unsporting behavior and requires a caution and yellow card. The referee should caution the player and then award the penalty kick for the holding in the penalty area.


GOAL OR NOT? [LAW 10; LAW 18]
Your question:
In a recent local Under 12 match, a Grade 8 referee pressed into service as a last hour fill-in did not check the position of the goals prior to the match. They were placed several feet back of the end line. During the match, a shot from outside the penalty area entered the net. The defending team complained that the ball was out of bounds. Upon closer inspection, the referee realized that the goal was not at the goal line, and for the ball to cross in front of the uprights it had to be out of bounds. The referee disallowed the goal based on the perceived angle from which the shot was taken and restarted with a goal kick after moving the goal to the correct position. Correct call or no?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
Call correct. The ball had left the field and was thus out of play before it was shot. No goal; restart with goal kick–provided the attacking team had last played the ball before it went over the goal line. However, that does not excuse the referee’s major error in not doing his or her duties before the game. No matter when called into service, the referee must conduct a full inspection of the field and its appurtenances.


REFEREE BADGES [ADMIN]
Your question:
Why are there not different badges for the intermediate grade levels such as Grade 7 and Grade 5?

USSF answer (June 14, 2004):
There are not different badges because the various titles are set up as two different grades of the same classification. For example, 8 and 7 are both referee classifications (Referee Class 2 and Referee Class 1 are both “referees”), 6 and 5 (State Referee Class 2 and State Referee Class 1) are both state referee classifications and for that matter, 4 and 3 are both national referee classifications. The referee committee has reviewed this suggestion in the past and it has been decided that we already order enough different badges. The more sorts of badges increases the possibility that someone is going to get the wrong one. The important thing here is the role the grades play in the upgrade process–being better able to identify what referees are where–not what kind of badge they have.


GETTING THE REQUIRED DISTANCE [LAW 13; LAW 18]
Your question:
As I understand it, a free kick awarded to a team is a kick to be taken “free of interference” hence the mandatory minimum 10 yards distance. Teams rarely give the required distance sometime until the offended teams demanded it. Whenever I am required to enforce the minimum distance, I usually give 12 to 13 yards from the spot of the ball. I based my rationale on the fact that the requirement calls for “at least” 10 yards (it can be any distance but not less that 10yards), and also that the teams should further be penalized for not giving the automatic 10 yards minimum required distance.

My question here is am I correct to give 12 to 13 yards?

USSF answer (June 9, 2004):
You can ask for 12-13 yards, but all the Law allows you to enforce is 10 yards. In any event, the Law already provides “further penalties” for failing to give the minimum distance: it’s called a caution for failing to give the minimum distance.


REFEREE JERSEY COLORS [ADMIN; LAW 18]
Your question:
Is there an order of precedence in the wearing of the four colors of referee jersey? I have been told that because gold was mentioned first in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH), and also named as the “primary” color, it MUST be worn before any other colors unless there is a color conflict with the teams. If an alternate was to be worn, the order must be black, then red, and finally blue. In other words, the color order is 1) gold, 2) black, 3) red, and 4) blue.

Is there a new protocol which gives an order in which the shirts must be used?

USSF answer (June 9, 2004):
Referees are free to wear whichever shirt they like, provided it does not cause a color conflict with one of the teams and also provided each member of the crew wears the same color.

The order given in the RAH is solely one of convenience; it reflects the order in which the new jerseys were introduced and has no other, more significant meaning. “Primary” in the RAH means only that the gold jersey is the one that every referee must have, as it is least likely to conflict with player jerseys. It does not mean that referees must wear it in preference to the other colors.


PLAYER JERSEY COLORS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
Law 4 states: ³each goalkeeper wears colors which distinguish him from the other players, the referee and the assistant referees.²

My question; how much difference is required? If the referee will admit to perceiving and distinguishing a difference through observation, isn¹t the goalkeeper¹s jersey within regulation and therefore perfectly legal? In that situation, wouldn¹t the referee be forced to allow the goalkeeper to wear the jersey?

My situation is that when the team wears jerseys that are completely white (except for the number and club logo), my Keeper wants to wear a jersey that is white with very wide black vertical stripes. Not only has the keeper been forced to wear a different jersey, but the referee actually told me that the opposing coach had asked the referee to enforce the change!  My belief is that the goalkeeper should not have been forced to change, what do you think?

Also, I believe that goalkeepers should have a number, just like every other player is required to do. Are goalkeepers allowed to play without numbers?

USSF answer (June 9, 2004):
It is not only the referee, but also the other team that needs to be able to distinguish between the two teams and their goalkeepers. As to demands that the referee “do” something, let us lay out the ground rules clearly: The coach has only one right, and that is to remain in his or her team’s area unless his or her behavior becomes irresponsible, in which case the coach will be ordered to leave.

Given that limitation on rights, no coach has any right to demand anything in a game. A coach may point out that an opposing player’s clothing might cause confusion, but, unless the referee believes there is a rational basis for the request, there is no reason to implement it. Only the referee on the game will know whether or not the colors of the two teams and of the two goalkeepers are distinguishable from one another. There is no color scale for referees; only their common sense.

The Laws of the Game do not require numbers for any player. Numbers are a requirement of the competition in which the player plays. Check the local rules.


WHEN IS A “FOUL” NOT A FOUL? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In the UEFA Cup (Valencia vs Marseilles) a few weeks back, an attacker was on a full break away.  The keeper approached the attacker.  The attacker chipped the ball over the keeper, who was diving to stop the play.  The keeper up-ended the attacker.  A foul was called, an the keeper was sent-off, presumably for preventing a goal-scoring opportunity.

In an MLS game (DC vs NE, May 29th), a very similar situation occurred, with the attacker going down due to contact with the keeper, after the ball had been chipped over the keeper.  No foul or card was indicated.

I could not see any significant difference in the plays to explain the extreme difference in the outcome.  Given the respect due the center for the UEFA game, I believe his call was correct.  Any insight?

Also, in your May 20 response about Dangerous Play vs Kicking, you wrote that kicking “overrules” dangerous play – and I agree.  However, Referee Magazine (June 2004 page 50) wrote that FIFA, NFHS, and NCAA agree that the Dangerous Play takes precedence, as it “occurs first”.  Comments?

I always find your responses enlightening, and often amusing.

USSF answer (June 3, 2004):
1. It is always dangerous to compare situations in one country or competition with those of another. No way that we can give an opinion on this. In fact, it is possible, at least in theory, that the UEFA situation was a foul and the MLS situation was not. That is certainly so in the opinion of the respective referees. After all, just because the attackers hit the ground in both events doesn’t mean that the upending was caused in both cases by a foul.

2. Courtesy of Jamey Walter of “Referee” magazine, here is the question that troubles our interlocutor: A7 attempts a diving header in Team B’s penalty area on a ball that is near the ground. B6, attempting to clear the ball, kicks A7. If the referee determines that A7 was playing in a dangerous manner, what is the restart?

The correct answer, based on the question, is that the restart is precisely as “Referee” states, an indirect free kick for B6’s team.

It is incorrect to say that a direct free kick foul “overrules” the indirect free kick foul of “playing dangerously. In normal situations of this sort, the referee’s only choice is to punish the player who created and/or carried out the illegal play. For example: A player kicking at a high ball that another player is trying to head thus puts the heading player in a dangerous position. If the kicking player then makes contact with the opponent, there can be no call of “playing dangerously.” The kicking player should be called for kicking an opponent and the restart would be a direct free kick.


DON’T PUNISH THE GOALKEEPER UNDESERVEDLY! [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Team A is attacking and Team B is defending.  Team A has a shot that rebounds off of Team B’s Keeper to a defender on Team B.  The defender kicks it back at the goalie who grabs the ball before it goes into the net.  The pass from the defender was intentional.  There was an attacker from Team A standing next to the keeper in an onsides position because another defender was on the far post.  The keeper was a foot of his line and all of the action happened inside the goal area.  I determined that it was an obvious goal scoring opportunity, but did not feel it warranted a send off so I only cautioned the keeper.  I also awarded a PK because of the obvious goal scoring opportunity and the handling by the keeper after an intentional pass by his teammate.  After looking over the Law Book and thinking about it I am leaning toward a send off and an IFK.  Team A did not score on the PK.  So I do not feel bad if I made the wrong call, but I would like to know what the correct call is.

USSF answer (June 3, 2004):
While you did make the mistake of cautioning the goalkeeper undeservedly, thank goodness you did not send him off. A goalkeeper may not be sent off for using his hands to deny the opposing team a goal within his own penalty area. (Such punishment is specifically excluded in Law 12‹”this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area.”) The only possible punishment the referee can mete out in this situation is to award an indirect free kick to the opponents, to be taken from the place where the goalkeeper touched the ball. As this happened within the goal area, the kick would be taken at the nearest spot on the goal area line parallel to the goal line.

And the intelligent referee might not punish the deed at all, provided there were opponents nearby to challenge for the ball and, in the opinion of the referee, the defender kicked the ball to the goalkeeper out of panic, rather than in an effort to waste time. (Preventing time wasting is why the rule was introduced in the first place.)


THERMAL PANTS [LAW 4]
Your question:
what is the USSF position on field players (not goalies) who want to wear ‘thermal’ pants, skin tight, under their shorts and socks? They usually are the same color as the shorts. My second question is the USSF position on what the AR’s should be doing during a substitution with their flags? Some people say that the common practice of holding the flag up, unraveled toward the ground, is being discouraged, but I haven’t found anything on this matter.

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
1. Players are permitted to wear visible undergarments such as thermopants. They must, however, be the same color as the shorts of the team of the player wearing them and not extend beyond the top of the knee. Thus, thermal undergarments that run continuously from waist to foot are not allowed.

2. Once the referee has recognized the assistant referee’s signal, the AR should lower the flag to the side closer to the halfway line and await the restart. You will find this information in the new USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees.” There is no change here from previous editions.


ATTACKING THE REFEREE [LAW 5; LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I play in an amateur league and in our game tonight one of our players was involved in a tackle going for the ball, the other player kicked him in the head as they were falling. Our player got up grabbed the ball and acted as if he was going to hit the player with it, he went through the motion but never threw the ball. I believe the ref didn’t see the fact that he didn’t actually throw the ball and gave him a red. Our coach asked him to consult with his linesman. When he did he changed his call and gave him a yellow instead, the opposing team was furious and one of their players bumped the ref, he then showed him a red card. This made matters worse and one of the players tried to kick the ball at the ref but it hit the linesman’s face, at this point the ref called the game off so one of the opposing players kicked him above the knee with his cleats causing a wound to develop and the ref’s leg to be bleeding.
Question
1. Can the referee take back his decision to give a red upon consulting with his linesman?
2. What type of action should be taken when you “act” like you are going to throw the ball at a player?
3. At what point does a ref fell he/she should call the game off?

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
Given that the circumstances are as you describe them, here are some answers.
1. Provided that the referee has not allowed the game to be restarted, a decision to send off a player may be changed.
2. The overt threat of throwing the ball at another player amounts to attempted striking and is a direct free kick and at least a caution for unsporting behavior. Depending on circumstances, it could be considered as a threat of physical violence and would then be punishable by a dismissal and red card; in that case the referee should act immediately to isolate the guilty party and remove him or her from the game.
3. There is no black-or-white answer to this question. Only the referee on the spot can make that judgment. We might suggest that if the referee cannot stop the jostling and other abuse by players, the game should be terminated.


FAILURE TO RESPECT . . . [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Situation: The ref has awarded a direct free kick to the attacking team two yards outside the box near the ³D². The attacking team has requested the ref move the defenders back the requisite ten yards and the ref has done so. The ref has just blown the whistle for the kick to be taken. One of the defenders in the wall rushes the kicker prior to the kick being taken. The ref allows the kick to be taken (in fact, the misconduct and the kick occurred within split-seconds). The kick goes directly to the keeper, at which time the ref stops play, shows the yellow for Failure to Respect the Required Distance, and has the kick re-taken from the same spot.
The ref explained that he allowed the play to proceed (i. e., purposely did not stop play while the ball was in midflight) to determine whether the kick was successful. Had it been, he was have cautioned the misconduct at the stoppage following the goal. Since it was not successful, he stopped play once the keeper had gathered in the shot, showed the yellow and had the free kick retaken.

Was this the correct resolution?

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
Because the two incidents occurred so closely in time, the issue would be whether the rush forward (which seems much more cynical that simply being too close) made a difference in the outcome of the kick. And this, under the Law, would require the referee to allow the kick to proceed. If the rush forward made no difference in the outcome of the kick, caution at the next stoppage; if it made a difference, stop play immediately, caution, and restart with a retake.


DURATION OF THE GAME [LAW 7]
Your question:
We played a tournament game today and were leading 2-1 near the end of the game. With about 15 seconds to go, a ball was played into our penalty area and the AR raised his flag for a handling of the ball violation. The referee did not see the AR’s flag and blew his whistles two times and signaled the end of the game. The opposing team argued with the referee. After talking with the AR, the referee called for a PK. The PK was taken and the opposing team scored. The game ended tied 2-2.  Is it correct to extend time for a PK after the referee already whistled an end to the game?

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
Because the infringement occurred before the referee had ended the game, the referee was correct in accepting the assistant referee’s information. If a penalty kick is awarded before the game has ended, time must be extended to complete the penalty kick.


TACKLES FROM BEHIND AND SLIDING TACKLES [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I am the parent of a challenge player that won the State Cups this past weekend. I’m letting you know we won the State Cups so that you realize I’m not a disgruntled parent whose child lost a game.

Rest assured that my son is a tough and aggressive player that can handle the physical play involved in Challenge and Classic soccer.  He got up from the tackle (this time) and stayed in the game.  Slide tackling is a good and fair part of the game when it’s done legally.  My concern is the tolerance for slide tackling by a defensive player that is clearly trailing the play.  On one occasion during the season, one situation in the [name removed] Cup and one in the State Finals he was blatantly slide tackled from behind (by the way, we won all three games).  This leads me to believe that it needs to be addressed with ALL officials not just an individual.  I know there are some close calls (and we had many of these during the season) where the officials must make a judgement call.  None of these three situations fits that description.  These were all desperate attempts by a defender to prevent a goal.  Only in one situation was the defender even talked to by the official.  There was not a yellow or red card issued in any of these three instances.  Unless the officials take a tougher stance on this type of play it will only continue.  The teams/coaches/parents and players must get the message that the penalty will be more severe than a PK.  My son and other kids risk severe injuries from the abusive tripping/slide tackling that shouldn’t be tolerated.

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
What follows this paragraph is what we teach our referees. Unfortunately, that does not always mean that they put it into practice correctly. This response will be copied to the State Director of Referee Instruction of your state, so that the message comes through that the Federation is also concerned about this matter.

A slide tackle is legal, provided it is performed legally. There is nothing illegal about a slide tackle by itself‹no matter where it is done and no matter the direction from which it comes. In other words, it is not an infringement to tackle fairly from behind‹if there was no foul committed.

There is nothing illegal, by itself, about sliding tackles or playing the ball while on the ground. These acts become the indirect free kick foul known as playing dangerously (“dangerous play”) only if the action unfairly takes away an opponent’s otherwise legal play of the ball (for players at the youth level, this definition is simplified even more as “playing in a manner considered to be dangerous to an opponent”). At minimum, this means that an opponent must be within the area of danger which the player has created. These same acts can become the direct free kick fouls known as kicking or attempting to kick an opponent or tripping or attempting to trip or tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball only if there was contact with the opponent or, in the opinion of the referee, the opponent was forced to react to avoid the kick or the trip. The referee may warn players about questionable acts of play on the ground, but would rarely caution a player unless the act was reckless.

How can tackles become illegal? There are many ways but two of the most common are by making contact with the opponent first (before contacting the ball) and by striking the opponent with a raised upper leg before, during, or after contacting the ball with the lower leg. Referees must be vigilant and firm in assessing any tackle, because the likely point of contact is the lower legs of the opponent and this is a particularly vulnerable area. We must not be swayed by protests of “But I got the ball, ref” and we must be prepared to assess the proper penalty for misconduct where that is warranted.

FIFA has emphasized the great danger in slide tackles from behind because, if this tackle is not done perfectly, the potential for injury is so much greater. Accordingly, referees are advised that, when a player does commit a foul while tackling from behind, it should not be just a simple foul (e.g., tripping) but a foul and misconduct. The likelihood of danger is greater when the tackle is committed from behind and the probability of a foul having been committed is greater solely for this reason — due in large part to the “can’t prepare for the tackle” element when it comes from an unseen direction. In fact, if the referee decides that the foul while tackling from behind was done in such a way as to endanger the safety of the opponent, the proper action is to send the violator off the field with a red card.

The referee must judge each situation of a tackle from behind individually, weighing the guidelines published by FIFA and the U. S. Soccer Federation, the positions of the players, the way the tackler uses his/her foot or feet, the “temperature” of the game, the age/skill of the players, and the attitude of the players. What might be a caution (yellow card) in this game might be trifling in another game or a send-off (red card) in a third game. To make the proper judgment on such plays, the referee must establish early on a feel for the game being played on this day at this moment and must be alert to sudden changes in the “temperature” of this game. Much depends on the level of play, whether recreational or competitive, skilled or less developed, very young or adult. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.


SHORTS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
Working a question from a league regarding the length of players shorts. Some believe the top of the knee is the limit. Law four does not address this. I thought there was a directive some time back regarding thisŠ I can’t find it.

The following was taken from USSF Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players regarding undergarments:
24. Players’ equipment Š
(b) Players are permitted to wear visible undergarments such as thermopants. They must, however, be the same color as the shorts of the team of the player wearing them and not extend beyond the top of the knee. If a team wears multicolored shorts, the undergarment must be the same color as the predominant color.

It would seem that if the undergarment must be above the top of the knee, then the same logic would apply to the shorts.

Bottom line, is there any restriction on the length of a players shorts.

USSF answer (May 28, 2004):
There is no specific guidance on the length of player shorts. In the past, the International F. A. Board (the people who make the Laws of the Game) included a statement in its “Additional Instructions to Referees” that is now also contained in the annual USSF Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players. That statement deals with the undergarments worn by players, rather than the shorts themselves:
“24. Players’ equipment Š
“(b) Players are permitted to wear visible undergarments such as thermopants. They must, however, be the same color as the shorts of the team of the player wearing them and not extend beyond the top of the knee. If a team wears multicolored shorts, the undergarment must be the same color as the predominant color.”

Historically, player shorts have extended from as low as the top of the calf to not far below the crotch, provided that the waistband is worn at the natural place on the torso. We recommend that player shorts meet the requirement set for thermal undershorts and not go beyond the top of the knee.

There remains the problem of religious concerns. In addition to the player equipment required under Law 4–a jersey or shirt, shorts (if thermal undershorts are worn, they are of the same main color as the shorts), stockings, shinguards, and footwear–the International F. A. Board has recognized that other equipment may also be worn, as long as it is safe for all participants. The most recent USSF memoranda on player equipment were published on September 3, 2003, and March 7, 2003. They can be downloaded from the USSF website. Another memorandum, dated December 22, 2002, states quite clearly that religious clothing (including skirts) may be worn, provided that it is not dangerous to any participants and is not used to distract opponents or to trap or otherwise manipulate the ball.


DECEPTIVE TACTICS BY THE KICKING TEAM [LAW 2; LAW 13; LAW 18]
Your question:
Here’s the situation…basic direct kick after a trip. The offense lines up behind the ball – and one after the other jump over the ball…and get back in line. Finally, the second time the fourth kicker comes to the ball – it is kicked.

Question…unsportsmanlike behavior – or just an interesting way to control the time.

USSF answer (May 27, 2004):
While referees should always allow the team with the ball leeway on deceptive tactics, this seems a bit much. After the first four or five players have jumped over the ball, the referee should call a halt to the parade‹charade?‹and warn the players that any further repetition of this tactic will be regarded as delaying the restart of play‹the official reason for the caution if they failed to heed the referee’s advice.


FEINTING AT A PENALTY KICK [LAW 14; LAW 18]
Your question:
A Penalty Kick was awarded. The kicker runs to take the kick and faked the keeper by kicking over the ball without touching it. When the keeper dove to one side, the kicker kicked the ball to the other side scoring the goal.

The Referee blows the Whistle, may caution the kicker for UB or give him a stern warning and:
1. Award a goal to the attacking team
2. Award a goal kick to the opposing team
3. Re-take the kick
If these are the only choices, which choice is correct? Are there any other choices?

P.S. Yes, if the whistle was sounded before the kick was taken to put the ball into the net, re-take will be in order.

USSF answer (May 27, 2004):
Guidance from the International F. A. Board says that referees should not consider various deceptive maneuvers to be a violation of Law 14 or of the guidelines on kicks from the penalty mark in the Additional Instructions. They should ensure that the run to the ball is initiated from behind the ball and the kicker is not using deception to delay unnecessarily the taking of the kick.

The example you cite, of stepping over the ball, hesitating, and then bringing the foot back again to kick the ball, is a good one. The kicker’s behavior must not, in the opinion of the referee, unduly delay the taking of the kick in any feinting tactic. Others would include changing direction or running such an an excessive distance such that, in the opinion of the referee, the restart was delayed; or making hand or arm gestures with the intent to deceive the kicker (e .g., pointing in a direction).

The referee should allow the kick to proceed. If the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken. If the ball does not enter the goal and remains on the field, the kick is not retaken and play continues. If the ball does not enter the goal and leaves the field, the restart is appropriate to the reason the ball left the field.

Finally, kicker violations of Law 14 are not treated any differently from other violations of Law 14 — no caution on first occurrence, caution for persistent infringement only on repetition after a warning.


LEAVING THE FIELD DURING THE COURSE OF PLAY [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
The answer of May 20, 2004, on when players may leave the field of play during the course of play without the referee’s opinion, seems incomplete. Surely there are more reasons than those given?

USSF answer (May 27, 2004):
Yes, the answer was indeed incomplete. Here are some occasions on which the player may leave the field of play without the referee’s permission during the course of play without fear of punishment. Referees and players will be able to think of others, we are sure.
1. To play the ball if there is an obstacle (any players or officials) that prevents normal play.
2. To retrieve the ball and/or put it back into play at a stoppage‹goal kick, corner kick, throw-in, free kick.
3. A player overruns the ball and temporarily leaves the field to get a better angle for kicking the ball.
4. A player steps over the line after playing the ball.
5. A player slips or slides on a wet playing surface.
6. A player steps off the field to stop the ball from going out of play.

7. A player steps off the field to show non-involvement in offside.

The point of emphasis here is that referees should not unnecessarily restrict players. The lines on the field are to show where the ball is in play and where most play should occur. Players are allowed to show their creativity and resiliency both within and without the boundaries. It is when they cross the boundaries for illegal purposes‹something other than to play the ball‹that the referee should become concerned.


WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN INDIRECT AND A DIRECT KICK? [LAW 13; LAW 16, LAW 8, LAW 17] Your question:
What is the difference between an indirect and a direct free kick?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
The USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” tells us:
QUOTE
13.1 FREE KICKS
This restart is called a “free kick” because it may be taken “freely” by the team to which it has been awarded — without interference, hindrance, or delay. Free kicks are awarded for fouls, misconduct, a combination of the two, or offside. A direct free kick is given if play is stopped for a direct free kick foul committed by a player against an opponent on the field of play (except when it is committed by a defender within his own penalty area — see Law 14, Penalty Kick). An indirect free kick is given if play is stopped for any other foul or if play is stopped solely to deal with misconduct committed on the field by a player, or for offside. A free kick may be taken in any direction.
END OF QUOTE

A penalty kick is a direct free kick awarded to the attacking team when an opponent commits a direct free kick foul against one of their players in the opponent’s penalty area.

Corner kicks, kick-offs, and corner kicks are akin to direct free kicks, in that a goal may be scored directly from a corner kick or goal kick or kick-off, but only against the opposing team.


DUTIES AND POWERS OF THE ASSISTANT REFEREE DO NOT INCLUDE . . . [LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
My questions are regarding the actions taken by an AR. In this one scenario, the AR was arguing with a head coach about minor dissent being shown by the coach. While the game was in progress and ball was in play, the AR does not pay attention to his duties and continues arguing with the one coach. The coach decides it is best not to argue and after the game he would talk to the AR about it. At the end of the game, the AR does not like the tone of voice by the coach and displays the red card. The coaches actions were not deserving of a red card, as stated in the 7 “Send-Off” criterion. Everyone has already left the field, but still the red card is displayed by the AR. Is this a valid move by the AR? Does the suspension still apply though it was given in by an invalid official?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
The assistant referee (AR) should never take time away from duties to argue with players, spectators, or team officials, whether the ball is in play or not. Nor may or can an AR show a card to anyone at any time. That is clearly reserved for the referee. And, unless the rules of the competition specify it, no official may show a card to any non-player or substitute.

There can be no suspension without a report from the referee to the appropriate authorities.


NEITHER A VIGILANTE NOR A CRUSADER BE [LAW 18]
Your question:
Two incidents with the same referee. During a game last fall (U14 girls), an opponent’s player was injured. The ref stopped the game and the restart was a drop ball. He ordered our player not to kick at all, just to stand there. In a recent game, one of our players was injured. He allowed play to continue and we kicked the ball out of play. On the restart he ordered our opponents to throw the ball directly to one of our players. I understand that soccer tradition dictates that a team not lose possession due to injury and that in such situations, teams generally play the ball to their opponents. However, I believe that such actions are the decisions of the players and coaches and that officials should never order players to give up possession of the ball and that doing so reflects poorly on the neutrality of the referee. What is your opinion?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
No referee may instruct any player to play the ball in any particular way. While the referee may suggest that it might be sporting to play in a particular way, the referee cannot and must not play the role of “vigilante for fair play.”


“RELIGIOUS JEWELRY” VS. RELIGIOUS JEWELRY [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I have read a number of discussions regarding religious jewelry. The topic of a young girl that had small stud earrings that could not be removed for religious reasons was brought up. Normally no earrings are allowed even if they are taped up. The reasoning is that if struck on the side of the head the stud could be driven into the side of her neck. What is the official stance on this subject. Should she be allowed to play or not?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
We are not aware of any sort of earrings that may not be removed for “religious reasons.” The position of the U. S. Soccer Federation on earrings and other jewelry has been clearly stated in position papers and responses to questions. (It is also the position taken by the International F. A. Board, FIFA, and CONCACAF.) Here is one of the responses from earlier this year:

QUOTE
USSF answer (February 13, 2004):
Beads and other decorative items are not part of the required equipment for players and cannot be sanctioned for wear in competitive play. Law 4 – Player Equipment – tells us:
The basic compulsory equipment of a player is:
– a jersey or shirt
– shorts — if thermal undershorts are worn, they are of the same main color as the shorts
– stockings
– shinguards
– footwear

The referee must enforce the Laws of the Game, particularly as they apply to the safety of players. Law 4 tells us that players must not wear jewelry of any kind. There is only one permissible exception to the ban on jewelry: medicalert jewelry that can guide emergency medical personnel in treating injured players and certain religious items that are not dangerous and not likely to provide the player with an unfair advantage. Beads, as decorative items, must be considered as jewelry. They can also be dangerous, particularly at the end of braids. For these reasons, they are not permitted.

If questioned by players, you simply refer them to Law 4. If they do not wish to remove their beads to conform with the Law, inform them that the only alternative to removing the beads or jewelry (or other unauthorized equipment) is not to play at all.

NOTE: For further information on the requirements of the Law for player safety, see the USSF National Program for Referee Development’s position papers of 7 March 2003 on “Player’s Equipment” and 17 March 2003 on “Player Equipment (Jewelry).”
END OF QUOTE

We might add that simply because an item looks religious in nature, such as an earring in the shape of a cross, does not put the item into the religious jewelry/clothing category. The critical criterion is whether the player’s religion requires that the item be worn. If that is the case, the player must get permission from the state association to wear such an item and the state association must inform any competition in which the player plays of this permission well in advance of the game. Even with this permission, the final decision in this process is made by the referee, who must decide whether item is dangerous to any of the participants.


INTERESTING SITUATION [LAW 11]
Your question:
This came up in a discussion at our weekly referee meeting. It involves a player that has legally gone off the field of play during the flow of play. We were talking about a player in the goal (between the goal posts and into the netting area). Now if a player running off the field to get around a defender or the AR are struck by the ball while they are off the field, but all of the ball has not crossed over the touchline, and the ball bounces back into play, then the ball is still in play and no violation has occurred, right?. But what if this happens to a player standing in the goal? The whole of the ball has not passed under the cross bar, between the goal posts and over the goal line so it can not be a goal. If it is a playable ball, is that player (a member of the attacking team) considered off side? Restart IDK for defending team anywhere in the goal area. If it is a defender, then the ball in play?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
The player who has left the field entirely during the course of play and, while in the goal, prevents his own team’s shot from crossing the goal line completely, has committed no sin. The player would only be considered to be offside if he had been in an offside position and actively involved in play when his teammate shot the ball. That was not the case, so there is no reason to stop play.


DROPPED BALL; SECOND TOUCH [LAW 8; LAW 12]
Your question:
Two real game situations:
1. Drop ball (play stopped because of injured player on team A) – Team A wants to put two – three players up around the referee for the drop ball. to my mind this could result in a rugby game breaking out. Although the illustration in the Laws of the Game shows each team represented at a drop ball and the Advice to Referees says that there is no requirement for both or either team to be present at the spot of a drop ball neither the laws nor the Advice to Referees address the issue of multiple players pressing in. My inclination was to tell the additional players to back off. This did not please the coach. Comments please.

2. Defender attempts to head ball away from goal but flicks it toward the goal. Keep leaps for it and catches it. While still in the air, keeper realizes his momentum will carry him and the ball over the goal line so he releases the ball onto the field about 12 inches in front of the goal line. Landing he steps back onto the field of play and picks up the ball to punt. Should this have been called as a “second touch” and an indirect free kick awarded at the 6 yard line?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
1. The referee may not order any players away from a dropped ball–but the intelligent referee will _suggest_ to the players that the ball will not be dropped until most of them back away. If they ask why, the intelligent referee will say that it is an issue of player safety, because the referee is required by the Laws of the Game to protect players. Surely they will understand.

2. Yes, this is a “second touch” situation and the referee should stop play and award an indirect free kick to the opposing team at the nearest spot on the goal area line parallel to the goal line.


DANGEROUS PLAY? [LAW 12]
Your question:
A player kicks a ball that is approximately even with her shoulder. In doing so, on the follow through, she kicks in the side of the head an opponent who was attempting to play the ball with her head. Is this a kicking offense, resulting in a direct free kick, or is it playing in a dangerous manner, resulting in an indirect free kick? Thanks.

USSF answer (May 20, 2004):
There can be no call of playing dangerously if there is contact. The player should be called for kicking and the restart would be a direct free kick.


HOW MANY PLAYERS AT A RESTART? [LAW 18]
Your question:
On a corner kick, 2 players from the kicking team leave the field at the corner, this seemed to be done to confuse the other team. They did this at every corner kick, sometimes one player would actually kick the ball and other times the first player to approach the ball would fake the kick and the next player would kick it. I know that one player is allowed to leave the field to take the kick…but if we let 2 leave for a “trick” play then why not let 3 or 10.

USSF answer (May 20, 2004):
Players are allowed to leave the field without the referee’s permission on two occasions: (1) during the course of play to play the ball if there is an obstacle that prevents normal play and (2) to retrieve the ball and put it back into play at a stoppage.

In the case of putting the ball back into play, it is common practice and tradition for only one player to do this. If, in the opinion of the referee, activity off the field constitutes unsporting behavior, the referee should warn the player(s) on the first instance and then caution and show the yellow card for either unsporting behavior or leaving the field of play without the permission of the referee.


ASSISTANT’S SIGNAL FOR INDIRECT FREE KICK FOUL [LAW 6]
Your question:
What would be the correct mechanical signal by an AR to the Referee, if an Indirect Free Kick foul was comitted. (Example: the referee was out of position, blocked from view, and the AR waved flag.) Heard this one at the refs’ tent at a tournament.

USSF answer (May 18, 2004):
There is only one standard signal for the assistant referee to use to indicate a foul not seen by the referee — flag straight up in the air, brief waggle after making eye contact, and then 45 degrees upward up or down field indicating the direction of the restart if the referee stops play. It doesn’t make any difference if the foul itself requires a direct or an indirect free kick. The referee may, in the pre-game conference, request some additional signal to indicate an indirect free kick if this is felt necessary.

However, careful thought on the matter would suggest that an indirect free kick foul would be rare. The basic charge given to the assistant referee, in addition to the fact that the offense occurred out of the view of the referee, is that the referee would have stopped play for the foul if he had seen it (i.e., not trifling, not doubtful, and no advantage). It is highly unlikely that an indirect free kick foul would meet all these criteria — only a dangerous play or impeding the progress of an opponent come to mind as even possible.

The referee can usually be confident that such a signal by an experienced, knowledgeable assistant referee is almost certainly an indication of a direct free kick foul.


MISCONDUCT IN THE TECHNICAL AREA [LAW 5]
Your question:
What should the referee do, if anything, when a coach and a substitute on the bench start arguing and start calling each other unpleasant names? This would be in U19 youth soccer.

USSF answer (May 18, 2004):
The referee may dismiss both persons (coach/other team official and substitute). The referee may show the red card only to the substitute, not the coach/other team official, unless the rules of the competition permit it.

The coach will be dismissed for irresponsible behavior, the substitute for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures.


A PROBLEM IN ETHICS [LAW 7]
Your question:
A tournament director writes: I would appreciate your response to the following situation that occurred recently during a youth recreational tournament.

The referee assignor, who was also the coach of the team scheduled to play, assigned her husband as center referee on her U14G semi-final game and her daughter was a player on that team. Should this have taken place? By the way, a complaint was made by the opposing coach after the game started because of this situation.

USSF answer (May 18, 2004):
In the Referee Administrative Handbook, p. 33, it suggests that assistant referees should not be related in any way to either team participating in the game unless it is impossible to get other affiliated officials assigned. Unfortunately, sometimes the referee game assignors do not have enough bodies to go around and ask parents or siblings to referee games in which their kin will be playing.

In this situation a complaint should be filed against the assignor/coach and her husband, the referee, who surely knew his daughter was on that team, under Policy 531-10, which expressly addresses conflict of interest. It then should be sorted out within the state through a hearing process.

You can download a PDF copy of the USSF Policy Manual at this URL: http://www.ussoccer.com/services/content.sps?iType=230&icustompageid=9277

NOTE: The remainder of the response was a direct quote of Policy 531-10 and has been deleted.


SUBSTITUTE INTERFERES WITH PLAY [LAW 3]
Your question:
A ball goes out of touch last contacted by a white player. Just inside their half of the field, the Green team attempts a quick throw to catch the white defense out of position and would have had a good chance to run on goal. As the legal throw crosses the half line a member of the white team that is waiting his turn to be substituted into game, reaches out, (without entering the field) catches the ball, and then drops the ball into the field of play stopping the quick attack. What is the call? What is the correct restart?

I felt the answer is; caution the sub for unsporting behavior and restart with a drop ball near the touchline where the interference occurred. I used ATR 1.8 (d) and ATR 12.25 for my rationale.

USSF answer (May 15, 2004):
If the substitute handled the ball, he must have entered the field of play, at least with his hand. The referee should caution and show the yellow card to the substitute for entering the field without the referee’s permission. The substitute could also be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior. The correct restart is a dropped ball from the place where the ball was when play was stopped.


THERE IS _NO_ ADVANTAGE ON OFFSIDE [LAW 11; LAW 18]
Your question:
Recently I was scanning through the USSF publication, “Advice to referees on the laws of the game.” I was surprised when I read the section 5.6 on Advantage. It reads… “The advantage applies only to infringements of Law 12 (fouls and/or misconduct) and not to infringements of other Laws. For example, there can be no advantage during an offside situation, nor may advantage be applied in the case of an illegal throw-in that goes to an opponent.” This makes perfect sense to me except for the part about offside. I, myself, referee and watch a lot of high level soccer, and have worked with some of the world’s best referees. In my experience, I have seen countless situations where an offside is signaled by the assistant referee, and the referee signals advantage if a quick counterattack begins for the other team or if the ball goes straight into the hands of the keeper. In most other countries (and all of UEFA I know) the advantage signal is suggested in this situation rather than the “lower the flag” signal that USSF encourages, but in any case, even with the USSF “lower the flag” signal, what we are doing in essence is applying advantage to the situation. If the AR signals the offside and the ball goes straight into the keeper’s hands, we are not telling the AR there is not an offside by asking him to lower his flag, we are giving advantage. If an attacker is involved in play and the AR signals offside, but the defense intercepts the pass and starts a quick counterattack, we are not telling the AR he or she is wrong, we are simply applying advantage. Since this happens all the time with soccer even at the highest levels, I would like to know why the “Advice to referees on the Laws of the Game” makes this statement. I appreciate your attention to my question and look forward to hearing back from you.

USSF answer (May 13, 2004):
There is no advantage applicable to any Law beyond Law 12, although one could make a small (but not totally convincing) case in several instances in Laws 13 and 14, but it is easier to do what is done with Law 11‹there is no advantage there, but the referee may choose to call the offside (whether signaled by the AR or not) or ignore it, depending on the circumstances.

When you agree to work games under the aegis of the United States Soccer Federation, you also commit yourself to following the procedures used by the Federation. We do not use the advantage signal for a case where offside will not be called, because it is not an advantage–it is a case of no infringement of the Law.

The “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” is, as its introduction states, ” a reliable compilation of those international and national guidelines [currently] in force, as modified or updated. It is not a replacement for the Laws of the Game, nor is it a ‘how to’ book on refereeing.” All that remains to be said here is another quote: [The] “Advice to Referees presents official USSF interpretations of the Laws of the Game.” Fail to follow it at your own peril.


BREAKING UP FIGHTS [LAW 5; LAW 6]
Your question:
1. If a one-on-one player on player fight breaks out on the soccer field, how is the stopping of it to be handled? Where does the referee’s responsibility end and the coach’s begin? 2. What are the responsibilities of the assistant referees in the situation where the fight expands beyond the original two players and the referee fails to signal for assistance from the coaches. Who is responsible to do what?

USSF answer (May 13, 2004):
1. The referee has no responsibility to stop a fight, no matter what the age of the players. But a VERY LOUD whistle, to signal that the referee wishes the activity to stop immediately, could be blown VERY NEAR to the players. That is usually quite effective. And coaches have no authority or responsibility whatsoever on the soccer field, other than to keep themselves and their substitutes under control. However, if the referee chooses to stop play and wave the coaches on to the field to help break up a fight, that is permitted. 2. In the case of a fight on the field, the assistant referees have no responsibilities‹on the field‹unless the referee has assigned them something other than what they would do in the case of a mass confrontation of the referee by players on the field:

Assistant Referees
– Both assistants move along the touchline to a point as near as possible to the confrontation and, if necessary, prepare to enter the field for a better viewing position.
– The nearer assistant should concentrate fully on the confrontation and attempt to identify the instigator(s) while the farther assistant concentrates on players who join the confrontation from a distance.
– The senior assistant (on the bench side of the field) should additionally monitor persons coming from the bench into the field to participate in the confrontation, but this assistant¹s primary objective remains monitoring the confrontation itself.
– After the confrontation has ended, both assistants should be ready to provide information to the referee regarding the identities of persons they observed and the role each such person played in the confrontation.


USING UNREGISTERED REFEREES [ADMIN; LAW 18]
Your question:
What is the advice of the USSF about officiating a game with a ref that has not completed the necessary officiiting recert process? Is the host association at risk if there is an injury or a problem during a game officiated by such? Would there be repercussions from the USSF? I only ask because my local association is using refs that have not completed the program for this year..

USSF answer (May 11, 2004):
This will not be the direct answer you were looking for. The only answer we can give is to state US Soccer policy.

The insurance policy only covers registered referees doing affiliated games. The US Soccer Policies say that all games directly or indirectly under the jurisdiction of US Soccer shall be officiated by a currently registered USSF referee. We cannot say what the outcome would be for not following the policies of membership. That would be up to US Soccer Board of Directors. We do know that the insurance company will not defend a case unless the referee is registered and working affiliated games.


PROTESTING A REFEREE MERRY-GO-ROUND [ADMIN; LAW 18]
Your question:
Could you tell me if there is something that I can do about this situation that happened, during a u-16 premier game. The game started with a ref. and two linesmen. At halftime one of the linesman leaves, and the opposing team gets someone to line. I asked the other linesman who that person was, he said that he was a certified ref. as he gets on the field he has a red ref. shirt different from the other two. He has no socks, no shoes, and a pair of brown pants. Needless to say he did not call offside and they scored twice. At about 20 minutes left, someone else takes his place in full ref. uniform. Can I file a protest, or not?

USSF answer (May 11, 2004):
Usually a protest must be filed at the field. You should check with your local governing body to see what is protestable and when protests must be filed and go from there. There is nothing in the Laws of the Game regarding what constitutes protestable issues‹that is strictly a local thing and that’s where you need to start.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [ADMIN; LAW 18]
Your question:
What is the USSF advice to match officials with regard to officials of the technical area entering the FOP at the end of extra time and PRIOR to the taking of KFTPM. It is clear in Law that only the eligible players are permitted to remain on the FOP during the taking of the kicks and that AUTHORISED persons may only enter the FOP this authorisation can of course only be given by the referee, but it is the period directly before the Kicks that is causing a problem. Is it permitted for the referee to give such AUTHORISATION prior to the kicks commencing??

USSF answer (May 11, 2004):
The process of kicks from the penalty mark begins immediately upon the conclusion of full time (including any required extra periods of play). While there is a break of sorts following the conclusion of full time and the first actual kick, the kicks from the penalty mark process has already begun, and in fact there are things that may be going on during that “down time”; for example, the coin toss.

Normally only eligible players and the match officials are allowed on the field once kicks from the penalty mark begin, and the process begins the moment full time is over. However, if the rules of the competition provide for a break between the end of full time and the actual kicks themselves, the referee may permit persons (team officials) other than players to be on the field of play during that break period between the end of regulation play and the actual kicks from the penalty mark. If the referee permits it, they may do this in their team’s half of the center circle. When the kicks are ready to commence, the team officials must return to the technical area (their team’s area).


TEAM REFUSES TO PLAY [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
During my last game a coach didn’t like one of my calls, and he ordered his entire team to get off the field saying that they were done. I ended the game and later reported the situation to the league coordinator. Was I supposed to do anything else? Maybe caution the players that left the field without my permission? I just thought it would look ridiculous to show yellow/red cards to every player from the team that left the field before the end of the game.

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
While we have no knowledge of your actions prior to this incident, you acted perfectly correctly in abandoning the game and reporting the situation in your match report. Cautioning and showing cards to the players would have accomplished nothing. By acting in accordance with correct procedure, you maintained your dignity and did not allow the coach to drag the game even farther into disrepute.


PLAYING TIME FOR U-TINIES [LAW 7]
Your question:
At a u7 game how long are their quarters and breaks? Thanks!

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
There is no set time period. U6 plays 4 equal 8-minute quarters, with a 2-minute break between quarters one and two and another 2-minute break between quarters three and four and a half-time interval of 5 minutes. U8 plays 4 equa 8-minute quarters, with a 2-minute break between quarters one and two and another 2-minute break between quarters three and four and a half-time interval of 5 minutes.

These are recommendations from the nationally-approved youth competition rules.  Your competition may choose to use whatever length of periods it requires.


PLAYING SHORT [LAW 18]
Your question:
I worked a game as a AR in a U17 boys game and the CR gave a penalty kick on the keeper for taking down attacking player and holding him from going after the ball. The play was now stop and the keeper said something to the referee and he red carded the keeper. The center did not make them play down since the send-off was done when the play had stopped. His thought was it was not a foul and it happened after the play had stopped. Should they have played down one man? I say yes.

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
Yes, after the referee sent off the goalkeeper, the goalkeeper’s team should have played with one fewer player for the rest of the game. Once the game starts, it makes no difference when a player is sent off or when the misconduct for which the player is being punished occurred, whether during play or a break in the game (halftime or other official break) or at a stoppage–ALL misconduct is dealt with during stoppage.

As a sidebar, your question suggests that the goalkeeper might have been sent off in the first place for denying the opponent a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by preventing the opponent from getting to the ball.


ENFORCING THE REQUIRED DISTANCE [LAW 13]
Your question:
1, A foul is committed and a free kick is awarded. Is the offending team required to immediately back off 10 yards? Or can the offending team delay moving away unless the opposing player asks the referee to provide the 10-yard distance? If 10 yards is immediately required, why don’t refs show more yellow cards? Delay of game and poor sportsmanship are cautionable. 2. A player takes a throw in and the ball never crosses into play. Rethrow? Or does the other team take possession?

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
1. As you point out, some referees are apparently afraid to give the kicking team the space they need and to punish the team that continues to break the Laws after having been caught once. Under the Law, the offending team is required to back off at least 10 yards from the spot of the ball immediately. Most do not. The referee should stop the restart process only if it is clear that the kicking team either does not want or cannot take a quick kick.

2. In the case of the throw-in that never enters the field, it is retaken.


PLAY SHORT OR NOT? [LAW 18]
Your question:
The R&D committee of our league is debating the answer to the following scenario, and the application of the appropriate Laws of the Game. As background, the league plays with limited size, official state rosters, and with unlimited substitutions on goal kicks, throw-ins by own team, kickoffs, and on injuries for the injured player. Therefore, players may leave and re-enter the match, with the referees permission, on multiple occasions. The scenario:
1. Player #x from Team A, receives a yellow card, for a foul while on the playing field.
2. Sometime thereafter, the same Player #x from Team A receives a second yellow card, during the match, while NOT on the field – he was now a substitute – on the sideline. The second yellow card was issued for a MISCONDUCT, because a FOUL can not be committed by a substitute.
3. The referee, using his authority under Law 5, and applicable sections of Law 12 – shows Player #x from Team A a red card for a second caution (2CT). The player is sent off.

The question – does Team A now play short?

USSF answer (May 5, 2004):
If the player/substitute received the second card while in his role as substitute, in other words, while on the bench, then he was not a player at that time and the team need not play short. If he had been a player at the time, then the team would have to play short.


PLAYER DISCIPLINE [LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
I have a question, we have a U8 player that has been Red Card at least once for sure possible twice this season along with a yellow card in between. This is just rec soccer and it’s been told this child has played on Top Soccer and the parents wanted to try Rec. He also has an anger issue. The reasoning for the red card was he was pushing players on purpose. I guess what I would like to know is how do we handle this? Can U8’s get cards? If so how long to you keep them out of games and so on? They have 2 more games for the season and a post season tournament. I don’t know what really happened since I wasn’t present but I would like to know what is the best way to go about fixing this issue and not having anyone get hurt. I don’t believe the child has been put on the bench for his actions like a time out. I also don’t know if U8 are even allowed cards?  We are talking 6 and 7 years. Do they really understand it?

USSF answer (April 29, 2004):
There is no age limit on learning. If a player cannot adapt readily to the standards of the game, then he or she must be educated. Being sent off (given a red card) usually means having to sit at least one game for each time sent off. The one-game suspension is a minimum standard imposed by FIFA, but local rules of competition can increase this and apply other penalties as well, depending on the severity and/or frequency of the behavior for which the red cards were received.

It makes no difference what age the player is. If this player does not learn acceptable behavior early on, what will he be like when he hits the middle teens?


CASTS FOR REFEREES [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I know that a player can not play with a hard cast on their arm. Can a referee have a hard cast for a recreational league?

USSF answer (April 29, 2004):
In fact, you are starting from an incorrect presumption‹that “a player cannot play with a hard cast on their arm.” A player may play with a cast under two conditions: if it is not prohibited by the local rules of competition and if the referee believes that the cast will not present a danger to anyone else. The referee would be bound by the same strictures‹if the player can not have a cast, then neither could the referee.


PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS [LAW 1]
Your question:
I was at a youth league game and the ball slowly rolled to the corner, hit the flag, and bounced a few inches back onto the field. The ref did not call it out and play continued. Should he have stopped play? Should it have been called a corner or goal kick (depending on who touch it last) or a throw-in? Is this correct because the ball never left the field of play much like a ball hitting the goal post? It was so goofy that no parents complained as commented on the improbability of it and they questioned each other on what should have been done.

BTW, is a tree always out of bounds? If a corner kick hits an overhanging tree, does it depend on where it is hit or is it automatically out of bounds? Same field different match.

USSF answer (April 29, 2004):
1. The corner flag is considered to be part of the field, just like the referee. In the situation you present, the ball never left the field.

2. A tree is considered to be a pre-existing condition, something on or above the field that is not described in Law 1 but is deemed safe and not generally subject to movement. This category includes trees overhanging the field, wires running above the field, and covers on sprinkling or draining systems. These things do not affect one team more adversely than the other and are considered to be a part of the field. If the ball leaves the field after contact with any item considered under the local ground rules of the field to be a pre-existing condition, the restart is in accordance with the Law, based on which team last played the ball. (Check with the competition for any local ground rules.)


CARRYOVER OF SUSPENSION [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
If a player is ejected during their last game in a USYSA-sponsored tournament, are they then required to sit out their next USYSA event, for example, a league game? Or does the suspension disappear when the event for which it was awarded ends?

According to the FDC, it would appear that they would sit out their next USYSA match, but some of our state associations claim that the FDC does not apply to USYSA. Can you advise?

USSF answer (April 26, 2004):
This policy statement from U. S. Soccer is the most up-to-date information available:
QUOTE
From the U.S. Soccer Communications Center ‹ Nov. 14, 2003
Memorandum
To: State Referee Administrators
State Youth Referee Administrators
State Directors of Referee Instruction
State Directors of Referee Assessment
National Referee Instructors and Trainers
National Assessors
National Referees
From: Alfred Kleinaitis
Manager of Referee Development and Education
Subject: Automatic Suspension Following an Expulsion from a Match
Date: November 14, 2003

FIFA recently distributed Circular 866 to clarify and confirm any doubts remaining from its earlier Circular (821, dated October 1, 2002) regarding the issue of mandatory suspensions for a player who has been expelled from a match. The clarifications took the form of unambiguous answers to certain frequently asked questions.

1. Any player sent off during a football match shall automatically be suspended for the following match (Art. 19, para. 4; Art. 39 FDC)

2. Any appeal against an automatic suspension shall not have a suspensive effect. Under no circumstances may a player take part in the following match while awaiting a decision on his appeal, regardless of the reasons for his appeal.

3. Any appeals against an automatic suspension as a result of an obvious error made by the referee under the terms of Art. 83 FDC (principally an error regarding the identify of a player involved in an incident leading to a sending off) can and must be accepted or rejected immediately in order to allow any players who have been erroneously suspended to play in the next match.

4. The disciplinary body is able to reach an immediate decision with regard to such an appeal as obvious errors, by their very nature, can also be confirmed without delay. If any doubts remain, the referee has clearly not made an obvious error and the appeal will also be rejected immediately.
We therefore ask the national associations of FIFA to make use of the judicial instruments referred to in the FIFA Disciplinary Code (Art. 134 and 140) in order to be able to make an immediate decision regarding appeals: either allow the disciplinary body to hold an immediate conference or permit a single judge to pronounce a decision.

5. If a player is unable to serve the automatic suspension in a domestic or continental club competition, the relevant bodies shall decide on how the suspension shall be carried over to another competition.

6. The principle of automatic suspension shall be applied in the same way, irrespective of the offence committed by the player.
However, in the case of particularly serious offences, the relevant body may extend the sanction imposed to apply to all competitions organized under its jurisdiction in order to prevent a player, after having committed such an offence, from playing in any other competition.

All competition authorities under USSF must ensure that their disciplinary procedures take these clarifications into consideration.

A one game suspension is mandatory following a send-off (red card).
The suspension may be extended for more serious offenses but it cannot be reduced, no matter what the reason was for the send-off.
The suspension must be served even if it is being appealed. Under no circumstances can the fact of an appeal be used to suspend or delay the suspension.
All appeals must be decided quickly, before the match is played for which the affected player would be suspended. If the send-off was erroneous due to an obvious error in identifying the player, this appeal can be resolved quickly because the error was obvious; if the error was not obvious, the appeal will be quickly resolved by rejecting it.
END OF QUOTE

In our experience, if the player or team official continues into the _same_ competition (league or tournament) the next year, then the player or team official may not participate in the team’s first match in that competition. Your best bet would be to check with the competition authority.

The bottom line is that the red card does not disappear‹whatever the state association or the competition rules call for is what should be enforced. Just because someone gets a send off in the last game of an event or tournament, to have no carry over would create mayhem. It would be best if you would take your question to [your] State Association as we are sure they have rules in place to deal with a send-off.


LEAVING THE FIELD DURING THE COURSE OF PLAY [LAW 11]
Your question:
One attacker and two defenders are chasing a long ball towards the goal line. Just as they approach the goal line, one of the players saves the ball and kicks it back to the 18 where an attacker is standing. The three players’ momentum causes them to leave the field, as a part of normal play. The one attacker turns back toward the field and is passed the ball by his teammate standing at the 18. The attacker enters the field and collects the ball. Is he guilty of being offside?

What if he never left the field, and the two defenders did go over the end line? Are they to be taken into consideration when determining offside?

This has been asked of 9 National or State level referees and the votes are split 5 to 4. Before this happens to me, I want to make sure I know.

USSF answer (April 25, 2004):
The answer to your questions will be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.” If any of the National or State referees answered differently than what is in the Advice and what you will read here, then there is a major cause for concern about the knowledge of those whose answers differ from this response.

Situation 1: One attacker and two opponents leave the field during the course of play, just after one of the players (unspecified team) kicks the ball back to the 18, where an attacker is standing. The attacker who left the field returns and receives the ball from his teammate on the 18.

Decision: There can be no offside here. Players of either team who leave the field during the course of play are still considered in determining offside‹defenders if they do not immediately return to the field and members of the opposing team if they become involved in play. They are considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to the off-field position. (A player who has left with the referee’s permission is not included in determining offside position. See ATR 11.11.)

Situation 2: The attacker did not leave the field but the opponents did. Are they considered in determining offside?

Decision: No offside. See above and ATR 11.11, quoted below for ease of reference.

11.11 DEFENDER LEGALLY OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY A defender who leaves the field during the course of play and does not immediately return must still be considered in determining where the second to last defender is for the purpose of judging which attackers are in an offside position. Such a defender is considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to his off-field position. A defender who leaves the field with the referee’s permission (and who thus requires the referee’s permission to return) is not included in determining offside position.


REFEREE CHANGES DECISION IN MATCH REPORT [LAW 5]
Your question:
I am curious to know your reaction to the following based on the Laws of the Game. Perhaps I misunderstand the article, but I would have thought that having decided a goal was not scored, and having apparently restarted play after the delay (no mention is made of the match being abandoned), the referee could not thereafter change his mind.

QUOTE
Referee u-turn over riot-provoking goal

LAGOS (Reuters) – A Nigerian referee who ruled out a late goal at the weekend to prevent a riot has changed his mind and awarded victory to league leaders Dolphin FC.

Dolphin, playing at Plateau United, scored a goal in the 87th minute. After a pitch invasion which the police took 10 minutes to clear, the referee decided to cancel the goal and the game ended 0-0.

In his match report to the Nigerian Football Association (NFA), however, the referee said the goal was genuine and gave Dolphin a 1-0 win.

“He said he had to reverse the decision at the time to prevent a breakdown of law and order in view of the volatile situation in the stadium,” NFA league spokesman Salisu Abubakar told reporters.

“Based on his report, the three points go to Dolphin.”

USSF answer (April 25, 2004):
We cannot criticize referees from other countries for the way in which they manage their games. The following answer applies to games played under the auspices of the United States Soccer Federation.

No, the referee may not change his decision once the game has restarted. If the referee cancelled the goal at the 87th minute and then, after the pitch invasion, restarted play based on whatever pretext he used for the cancellation, and then said in his game report that the goal was in fact scored, he was wrong. Prudent, perhaps, but wrong. The referee must simply report the facts and allow the competition authority to make the decision.

If the referee was in such fear of his well-being or the general health of his fellow officials or the teams that he felt he had to take such an action, then he probably should not have restarted play in the first place and terminated the match right then and there.


MISCONDUCT PRIOR TO THE START OF PLAY [LAW 5; LAW 8; LAW 18]
Your question:
Tricky referee question: The match has not started yet.  The white team wins the referee toss of the coin and elects to defend the south goal. Both teams are now on the field ready to go but the blue team refuses to kick the ball to begin play. How do you proceed? I don’t think a caution or dismissal can be issued because the match has not started. Do you wait the maximum allotted time to start the match and then decide to abandon the match? That was the best I had. The match ends in a draw?

USSF answer (April 23, 2004):
Actually, the team that wins the toss of the coin, which does not have to be taken by the referee, can elect only to attack a particular goal, not defend a particular goal. It all ends up the same, but the Law reads as stated here.

If the blue team refuses to begin play, the referee must exercise tact and imagination to encourage them to take the kick. If they will not, the referee notifies both teams that the game is abandoned and submits a full report on the matter to the appropriate authorities.

Another, more hard-nosed solution would be to pick out a player and caution for unsporting behavior. The referee’s authority begins upon arrival at the field, so this is perfectly legal. If the coach is smart (this is already questionable given the scenario you experienced), he or she would forestall the possibility of misconduct by simply refusing to field the minimum number of players.


LATE SEND-OFF FOR SECOND CAUTION [LAW 5; LAW 12]
Your question:
Player A1 receives a yellow card during the first half. Toward the middle of the second half, the referee again gives player A1 a yellow card, but the ref does not recognize that this was the same player and that A1 should be disqualified and the team play short. So play goes on with both teams at full strength. Ten minutes later, Team A scores a goal, whereupon, before play is resumed, the captain of Team B points out to the referee that Team A should have been playing short. Player A1 did not participate in the scoring of the goal. How does the ref handle the situation? Does the goal count or not? What is the restart? Are players sent off? Are additional cards administered? In a second case, Player A1 was the one who scored the goal. What are the correct calls in this case?

USSF answer (April 22, 2004):
You may have missed one of our answers of April 10, 2004. It should answer your question about what the referee should do regarding a missed send-off for second caution:
QUOTE
The referee’s right to display a red card and send off a player who should have been sent off for a second caution in a game is sacrosanct. In this case ATR 5.14 would apply (see below) and the red card may be shown and the player sent from the field even if play has been (incorrectly) restarted.

As we responded to a question just about a year ago (April 3, 2003), if the refereeing crew recognizes, even after a substantial amount of time has passed‹in that case 20 minutes, at the halftime break‹that a player received a second caution and should have been sent off, the referee may then administer the send-off and red card as soon as is feasible.
END OF QUOTE

As to the remaining questions:
A player who has not been sent off at the proper time is functionally equivalent to an “extra” player. The referee should apply the same principles used when a team is discovered to have a twelfth player on the field immediately after it scored a goal. If discovered prior to the kick-off, the goal is cancelled, the “extra” player is removed, cards shown as needed, and play resumes with a goal kick. If not discovered until after the kick-off restart, the goal stands and the player is removed in accordance with the Laws of the Game.

In any event, the referee must send a detailed report of the matter to the appropriate authorities.


UPHOLD THE LAW [LAW 14; LAW 18]
Your question:
Law 14 states that “the defending goalkeeper remains on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked”.

My question is: More experienced goalkeepers will often be perched on the front part of their feet and they may not have contact with the goal line on the ground, but have the back part of their feet hovering above the line. Would it be improper to allow the GK to defend from this position if in the opinion of the referee, (s)he did not gain an advantage from being in this position?

This is obviously irrelevant if the PK is successfully made, but if the GK jumps to the right directly along the line and stops the kick, then there is no advantage gained by having feet above the line as opposed to on the line. If the GK goes forward towards the kicker and successfully defends the ball, than they may have gained an advantage and would need to re-take the kick.

USSF answer (April 22, 2004):
It is not the job of the referee to allow the goalkeeper any advantage at a penalty kick. The obvious intent of the Law is that the goalkeeper remain ON the goal line, not poised on his toes ahead of the line. As you state, it makes no difference if the ball goes into the goal, but it does indeed make a difference if the goalkeeper is able to defend against it. Let’s remember why the penalty kick was awarded: A member of the goalkeeper’s team committed a foul against an opponent within the penalty area.


CARRYING THE BALL [LAW 12]
Your question:
In a recent game I saw the following occur and was wondering what the proper procedure would be. The Home team had to wear pennies because of a color conflict, during the course of the game, the ball bounced up into the pennie and became trapped between the pennie & Jersey. The player was on the run when this occurred and carried the ball for at least ten yards before it became free.

USSF answer (April 22, 2004):
It’s nice that someone has actually seen one of the oldest “chestnuts” (if you will pardon the expression) in the world of soccer. The correct answer is exactly as it would be for jerseys, turbans, or skirts. Before blowing the whistle immediately to stop play, the referee should hesitate a moment or two to see if the player decides to halt and take care of the situation. If that happens, then the referee will simply stop play, get the ball removed, and restart with a dropped ball. This applies to an accidental situation, analogous to an accidental case of handling.

The fact that a player may benefit from the ball becoming trapped in his or her clothing does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement unless the player takes subsequent action to retain the ball once it is lodged in the uniform. However, in that case, if the player continues his progress down the field with the ball inside the pennie and jersey (or on his turban or in his jersey or in her skirt), the occurrence is clearly no longer an accident; the referee stops play; cautions the player for unsporting behavior, and restarts with an indirect free kick for the opposing team.

Still thinking along those lines, we wonder how the player could have moved at least 30 feet, even on the run, without being aware of what was happening or stopping to take care of it.


MOVING THE CORNER FLAG [LAW 1; LAW 17]
Your question:
We had a situation where a player moved the flag before taking the corner kick. All of our referees know this is an infringment of law 17, but what is the sanction?

USSF answer (April 20, 2004):
Actually, it is an infringement of Law 1, The Field of Play, as well as of Law 17, The Corner Kick. You will find the reference in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”: “1.6 NO PLAYER MODIFICATIONS TO THE FIELD “Goalkeepers or other players may not make unauthorized marks on the field of play. The player who makes such marks or alterations on the field to gain an unfair advantage may be cautioned for unsporting behavior. Players may return bent or leaning corner flags to the upright position, but they may not bend or lean them away from the upright position to take a corner kick, nor may the corner flag be removed for any reason.”

The punishment is a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior. The kick may still be taken.


PREVENTING OPPONENTS FROM GETTING TO THE BALL [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I was refereeing a match this weekend, before the game there was severe lightning and thunder which delayed the start of the match. While we were waiting in the field house one of the parents sought us out and asked us a question, that I wasn’t quite sure how to answer. She said that the day before her daughters team played in a match and their opponents went ahead 2-1 with 3 minutes remaining in the game. At that point everytime the leading team got a throw in, they would send 7 players over to the touch line and would create a semi-circle sourrounding the player taking the throw. The thrower would send the ball to the feet of her teammates in the semi circle and they would all stand there with the ball in the middle of them so as to not allow the opponents to play the ball. She asked me if this was legal or if it was obstruction.

I told her I wasn’t sure. I explained to her that impedeing the progress of an opponent can only occur if the player who’s impedeing is not within playing distance of the ball. In my mind I could envision a circle of players tight enough that they could all possible play or kick the ball, so I didn’t know if that tactic was Illegal or not under the LOTG. Perhaps this would be a form of dangerous play, as the only real or fair way the opponents could challenge for the ball would be to basically kick at the opponents heals which would also be a foul on the losing side. Given the very vague description of the tactic used here, would do you think is the correct action for the referee to take, if any?

USSF answer (April 20, 2004):
We are not sure what kind of coach would teach a tactic like this, as it seems totally counterproductive to have so many players in one spot. The referee can and should do nothing. However, there is a remedy: There is nothing to prohibit a player from leaving the field of play during the course of play if the presence of an opponent prevents her from getting to the ball to play it. (We have published this several times before; e. g., the item of April 25, above.)


INAPPROPRIATE REFEREE BEHAVIOR [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
Is it legal to yell, literaly, yell unprofessionaly to a soccer player. I admit I pushed a girl, but she pushed me first. I let the first one go without pushing, but the second I had to defind for myself. He gave me a warning politely at first. Than the girl pushed me down, again. Once agian she pushed me. I was trying to protect myself from getting hurt this time and we colided. The ref than yelled at me that this is the second retaliate you have done! We will not tolerate this kind of behavior!

I apologized and he said don’t take that kind of tone with me! Than some of the fans started to stick up for me than he sent a fan out of the stands. He supposidley did this because the fan was being too rowdy. The reason the fan was rowdy was because the ref told a player that was really hurt to get up and not pretend that she was hurt. Than the fan told him that he had gone too far, by letting a player get hurt badly. Than he also gave the hurt player a yellow card for nothing. I know for a fact that some of the things he did must have been illigal. It is unfair to do this to the players.

USSF answer (April 16, 2004):
We agree that the behavior and player-management style of the referee seem to be poor, but it also seems as if you may have contributed to the problem by your repeated retaliation. One of the first lessons the good soccer player learns is to take the lumps dished out by the opponents and get on with the game‹the best revenge comes from winning the game through skill and determination.

Fans have every right to express their opinion. Sometimes it helps, but not very often. Of course it is not proper to yell at players. Referees have bad days, just like players. We all have to work through them as best we can.


TAUNTING [LAW 5; LAW 12]
Your question:
I was center for a U-16 girls match. Team A had just scored and was now ahead by two goals with about ten minutes left to play. Team B had placed the ball in the center and was ready to restart the game. A player from team A was walking back through the center circle. The player from team B who was waiting to restart the game had her back toward me. I am sure that she wanted to restart as quickly as possible, but I was just going to allow for the stoppage and add time and did not foresee what the future would bring. I had more outside the center circle and was also waiting for the player from team A to get into position. The two players must have exchanged some words that I could not hear and then the player from team B cursed the player from team A. I heard the cursing and sent the player from team B off. I had not heard or seen a taunt, but I was sure that one must have occurred. Should I have given a yellow card to the team A player for unsporting behavior?

USSF answer (April 16, 2004):
In actual fact, the only thing the referee can punish is something personally seen or heard by the referee or one of the assistant referees or the fourth official. However, given the circumstances of the game, it would have been a reasonable inference that the opposing player had caused the player on team B to curse at her. Considering your own feeling that the team A player had caused the outburst, why did you not practice selective hearing, an excellent tool for referees in every situation?

In addition, given what you inferred from the circumstances, a caution to the team A player for delaying the restart of play might have been worth considering. In general, we need to remember as referees that, when punishing “retaliation,” it is desirable whenever possible to also deal with what was being retaliated against‹and usually to card the first behavior before carding the retaliation.


DROOPY DRAWERS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I have noticed some boys wearing their shorts pulled so far down that if they didnt have shirts, 60% of their underwear would be showing. They continually pull their shorts down. It may be the style in school but on the field it appears disrepectful! Your thoughts on this during pregame inspections?

USSF answer (April 15, 2004):
Custom, tradition, and safety require that players keep their shirts tucked in and their socks pulled up and generally maintain a professional appearance. The intelligent referee will allow players to wear their shorts as they like, as long as they do not present an insult to common decency or a danger to any player.


WHOLESALE CHANGE OF UNIFORMS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
U14 boys game. Before game coach of one team tells ref he plans on having his team change uniforms at half time.No problem with conflicting colors. Ref says NO. You have to play with the uniform you start with. Coach says – ref last week let us do it, and, where in the rules does it say we can’t. Ref did not allow it, coach filed protest and I was asked for my input.

My first response was – I see no reason why it should not be allowed. After some discussion with protest committee we considered it might be unsporting. Opponents have played a half looking at a “blue” team now have a “gold” team to watch out for.

Is this a tactical move? Is it allowed?

USSF answer (April 12, 2004):
This would seem to be a tactical move, designed to confuse the opponents. Traditionally–and a lot of the Law is strictly tradition–the team must wear its uniform for the entire game, without making any changes. This is the sort of thing that would be regarded as “bringing the game into disrepute” by turning it into a spectacle. This sort of infringement will fall under “Law 18,” common sense. It is obviously a move to confuse, demoralize, and take advantage of the opponents and serves no useful purpose for the good of the game.

The old excuse that “the referee last week let us do it” means nothing. It means simply that the referee last week didn’t want to rock the boat–and that this week’s referee had a firm grasp on reality. He simply followed the road of soccer tradition, which is always the correct one.


INADVERTENT WHISTLE? AIN’T NO SUCH THING! [LAW 18]
Your question:
An attacker was in an offside position but never participated in the play. He was not interfering with the keeper. A shot was taken from near the top of the penalty box and went in. The problem was that the R blew his whistle after the shot but just before the ball went in. The AR did not signal offside. The keeper appeared unaffected by the whistle. The coach of the defense wasn’t! We allowed the goal. The R later admitted that he anticipated that the offside player was about to participate, but quickly realized he did not so there should be no offside call. Please comment on whether there is such a thing as an ‘inadvertant whistle’ or if the whistle should have ‘killed’ the action so that the goal should have been desallowed?

USSF answer (April 10, 2004):
Whistle blows, game is stopped. No goal. Restart with indirect free kick for the defending team because of the “offside.”

In fact, the game stops when the referee DECIDES to blow the whistle. The referee must then eat the whistle and the error in judgment. Ketchup or other condiments allowed.


BELATED SEND-OFF OKAY [LAW 12]
Your question:
In a recent U16 Classic Division One club match the center referee carded (yellow) a midfielder for a violation in the early part of the first half. It was clear he carded No. 7. In the 30th minute, the referee card again stopped play and card a midfielder (yellow) it appear to be the same midfielder but it was not clear to whom he assigned the yellow card. It appeared to me he had carded No. 9. The first half ended without further incidence. Play continued for another ten minutes until the half concluded. At the beginning of the second half, the referee calls No. 7 to the center of the field prior to the restart of the match and shows No. 7 a red card. Did the referee act according the rules? Can he correct his apparent mistake later in the match? Is there any legal recourse to challenge the red card? The player must obviously forgo the next match!

USSF answer (April 10, 2004):
The referee’s right to display a red card and send off a player who should have been sent off for a second caution in a game is sacrosanct. In this case ATR 5.14 would apply and the red card may be shown and the player sent from the field even if play has been (incorrectly) restarted.

As we responded to a question just about a year ago (April 3, 2003), if the refereeing crew recognizes, even after a substantial amount of time has passed–in that case 20 minutes, at the halftime break–that a player received a second caution and should have been sent off, the referee may then administer the send-off and red card as soon as is feasible.


POSITIONING OF ASSISTANT REFEREE AT PENALTY KICKS [MECHANICS]
Your question:
Over the years, I have been taught to position myself behind the Corner Flag, looking down the Goal Line, rather than the prescribed position at the intersection of the Penalty Area Line and the Goal Line. The rationale was this position gave the appropriate view of ball over goal line, goalkeeper movement and did not place the Assistant Referee on the field of play and, potentially in the midst of active play, while attempting to return to the appropriate offside position.

What is the advantage of the position at the intersection of the Penalty Area Line and the Goal Line, and is there any discussion about changing to the position at the corner flag?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
The correct position for assistant referees (ARs) on penalty kicks is delineated in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials,” which can be downloaded from this URL: http://www.ussoccer.com/templates/includes/services/referees/pdfs/GuidetoProcedures.pdf

The AR is encouraged to enter the field, when necessary, and upon direction of the referee. See Law 6:
Assistance
The ARs also assist the referee to control the match in accordance with the Laws of the Game. In particular, they may enter the field of play to help control the 9.15m distance.

Being nearer to the penalty kick allows the AR to help control the match, observe the goalkeeper, and other duties as assigned by the referee. Being nearer to the goal than the corner flag at a penalty kick increases the ability of the AR to provide critical information to the referee regarding whether a goal was scored– given the circumstances of the penalty kick, the chances are greater that a cunning goalkeeper might attempt to hide the scoring of a goal by quickly and surreptitiously pulling the ball back onto the field.

There is absolutely no discussion about changing the AR’s position at the penalty kick to the area of the corner flag. Please bring this information to the attention of those who have taught you incorrectly over the years.


HEADGEAR [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I ran across a player last Sat that had purchased headgear that was designed to make heading the ball more comfortable. It was soft and had extra padding in the forehead area.

Is this kind of gear to be allowed? If yes. Then what about a player that wants to wear a skullcap for the same purpose?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
Here is an answer from last year. Nothing has changed since that time.
USSF answer (July 16, 2003):
The United States Soccer Federation does not take a position one way or another on padded headgear. Such headgear is not part of the player’s required uniform and equipment. The referee is the sole judge of the permissibility of these items, which must meet the requirement in Law 3 that it not be dangerous to any player.

You can find most recent the position paper regarding the issue of equipment on this and other USSF-affiliated websites. You may also have noticed the face masks — not helmets — worn by one or two Korean and Japanese players during World Cup 2002. The use of those face masks was not questioned at any time by the referees or the administration.


MISINTERPRETATION OF THE LAWS [LAW 11; LAW 18]
Your question:
[NOTE: See item of 6 April 2004, in the archives.]
In a match USYSA U14 girls. Team A attacker dribbles ball into attacking 1/3 of Team B field. Team A striker loses possession of the ball to Team B defender. Team B defender starts the attack up the field by dribbling the ball towards Team A defending 1/2 of the field. Team A striker turns and watches Team B attack. Team A striker comes back to her defending 1/3 of the field and foot tackles the ball and clears it free from Team B and Team A recovers possession in defending 1/3 of Team A field. Center Referee calls offside on Team A striker and award a direct kick in Team A defending 1/3 of the field. I agree Team A striker was in offside position when she lost possession of the ball and Team B defenders pushed up into Team A defending 1/2 of the field putting Team A striker in the offside position. But I never heard of a offside called in the defending 1/2 of the field.

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
Nor has anyone else but this referee. Not only may a player not be considered in an offside position in her own half of the field, she may not be called offside there–unless she was in the opposing team’s half of the field when one of her teammates played the ball and she was able to become involved in play there. Now we only have to figure out why the referee gave a direct free kick against her for this mythical offside; the correct restart if she had been offside would have been an indirect free kick.


WHAT’S THE CORRECT RESTART? [LAW 18]
Your question:
After a White player in a youth match has legally restarted play, he plays the ball with his foot before anyone else touches the ball. The referee stops play for second touch and then sees an AR signaling. After the restart, but before the whistle, the opponents performed an illegal substitution (player off, sub on). The referee cautions the two opponents. What is the correct restart? IFK to the Whites (player leaving FOP w/o permission)? Or IFK to the opponents (second touch)?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
The entire scenario is a bit unclear, as there are not enough details as to who did what when.

Given the lack of details to make a case for sequential infringements, we must rely on what we have: Why did the referee stop play? For the illegal second touch. As both infringements by the opposing team are cautionable offenses and did not involve a foul, the referee is not obliged to stop play for either of them and can wait until the next opportunity–which he did–namely, the second-touch violation by White.

Referee action: Caution Black player, caution Black sub; indirect free kick restart for Black where White committed the second-touch violation.


PLEASE DO NOT INVENT YOUR OWN LAWS OF THE GAME [LAW 15]
Your question:
Whereas Law 15 does not state that excessive spin is wrong, traditionally it has been interpreted that excessive spin is an indication an improper advantage is trying to be gained with the throw. The understanding was that a throw in was merely for restarting play and was not intended to become an attacking capability. However, I rarely see the law interpreted this way and it is being stretched to where throw ins have come to resemble a forward pass in American footbal. Is there an offical guidance on this?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
Yes, there is official guidance. You will find it in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.” You can download it from the referee page on the ussoccer.com web site. Here is the guidance from the Advice to Referees:

QUOTE
15.3 PROPERLY TAKEN THROW-IN
A throw-in must be performed while the thrower is facing the field, but the ball may be thrown into the field in any direction. Law 15 states that the thrower “delivers the ball from behind and over his head.” This phrase does not mean that the ball must leave the hands from an overhead position. A natural throwing movement starting from behind and over the head will usually result in the ball leaving the hands when they are in front of the vertical plane of the body. The throwing movement must be continued to the point of release. A throw-in directed straight downward (often referred to as a “spike”) has traditionally been regarded as not correctly performed; if, in the opinion of the referee such a throw-in was incorrectly performed, the restart should be awarded to the opposing team. There is no requirement in Law 15 prohibiting spin or rotational movement. Referees must judge the correctness of the throw-in solely on the basis of Law 15.

The acrobatic or “flip” throw-in is not by itself an infringement so long as it is performed in a manner which meets the requirements of Law 15.

A player who lacks the normal use of one or both hands may nevertheless perform a legal throw-in provided the ball is delivered over the head and provided all other requirements of Law 15 are observed.
END OF QUOTE

Please read also Advice 15.5:
15.5 TRIFLING INFRINGEMENTS OF LAW 15
Referees are reminded that the primary function of the throw-in is to put the ball back into play as quickly as possible. At competitive levels of play, therefore, apparent technical infringements of Law 15 should often be deemed trifling or doubtful so long as an advantage is not obtained by the team performing the throw-in and the restart occurs with little or no delay.


WHO’S PLAYING DANGEROUSLY? [LAW 12]
Your question:
An attacking player with control of the ball makes a move to the right with the ball. At the same moment, the defended attempts to stop to adjust to the move of the attacker and slips, going feet first to the ground. The attacker attempts to quickly shoot the ball. The ball hits the defender (now lying on his side after falling) in the stomach area and rebounds 6 – 12 inches from his stomach. the attacker then straddles the defender on the ground to make contact or control of the ball. The defender attempting to stand is unable due to the attacking player still straddling the defender on the ground. After several whacks at the ball the ball is lodged closer to the defenders body. A whistle blows and a delay of game is called on the defender lying on the ground. a free kick is awarded the attacking team.

Is this the right call? does not the defender have the right to attempt to stand although he is essentially being held down by the attacking player stradding him.
Is the attempt to stand along with the inability to stand due to the attacking player standing over him taken into account.
Is the attacking player(s) whacking at the ball exhibiting dangerous play?

Which is the right call?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
If the defender on the ground has been prevented from rising by an opponent, it would not be correct to call a foul on the “grounded” player for playing dangerously. If the player who is straddling the player on the ground is simultaneously “whacking at the ball,” then that player is the one who should be called for playing dangerously–unless you decide the player is holding the opponent on the ground, which would be a direct free kick for the team of the player on the ground. (We won’t mention the possibility of a caution for unsporting behavior for the “whacking.”)


SEQUENTIAL INFRINGEMENTS [LAW 12]
Your question:
If someone gets punched in the face during a game and the punched person grabs the arm of the puncher, should a penalty kick be awarded to the team of the puncher?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
A penalty kick would be awarded to the team of the puncher only if the punch occurs in the opposing team’s penalty area.

That, of course, does not address the subsequent “grabbing” by the player who was punched. Depending on game circumstances, that might merit a caution to the player who did the grabbing. The grabbing cannot be a foul because what is described is a sequential series of infringements and the striking occurred first, so that is when play stopped. Because play was stopped, even if the whistle had not been blown, the grabbing can be only misconduct.


COACHING DURING THE GAME [LAW 5]
Your question:
I am a house league soccer coach for a 7th and 8th grade girls team. I have been coaching soccer for over ten seasons. During that time I have consistently helped the players understand where their correct position should be on the field during games. The insructions I give are to “Drop Back” or “defenders to midfield” things like that. I will occasionally say “Shelby cover number 6” or “somebody cover number 6” or “everybody cover a player”. Last week I was warned by a sideline refereee that I was violating FIFA rules in saying these things. When I pursued the matter with our league referee director he told me that coaches are to be essentially spectators with the exception of calling for substitutions. Please help me clarify what level of direction I am permitted to give my players within the rules for a team of this age and level.

USSF answer (April 7, 2004):
Coaches are allowed and encouraged to provide their players with helpful information.

Coaches are not permitted to badger the referee or assistant referees (or club linesmen) and are not permitted to indulge in misconduct of any sort by passing out misleading information that will lead the opposing team astray. In general, occasional helpful and positive information to one’s own players is acceptable. Comments which are directed at opponents; are negative, disparaging, or distracting; undermine the authority of the officials; or are so frequent as to constitute choreographing every move of the players are not acceptable and may result in the coach being warned about his behavior or even ordered from the field for behaving irresponsibly. In general, less and less needs to be said by coaches as the experience and skill level of the teams increase.

The league should take this into account in training its coaches so that they understand clearly the difference between tactical instruction and irresponsible behavior.


MISINTERPRETATION OF THE LAWS [LAW 18]
Your question:
Can you please give me a concise definition of “Misinterpretation of the Laws of the Game”?

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
“Misinterpretation of the Laws” means that a referee has totally misread and misapplied the Law, the Q&A, and the Additional Instructions, as well as the USSF Advice to Referees.

Example: Giving an offside for a player who has not left his own half of the field of play, simply because there was only one opponent between him and the opposing goal.

Example: Giving a direct free kick for the offense described above.

Both of these were in a question that came in this week–from the assistant referee on the game.


SIGNALS BY PLAYERS; HOLDING [LAW 18; LAW 12]
Your question:
It’s soccer time again, and I have questions…
1) Quite often, and at all levels, the player taking the corner kick raises his hand upright just before executing the kick. What is the significance of this action and is it required?
2) A Team A attacker receives an on-side pass in the penalty area just above the PK marker, while surrounded by 3 Team B defenders. As the same attacker (from Team A) is about to shoot on goal he is held at the waist from behind by one of the Team B attackers. The attacker still manages to get a shot off and the ball enters the net. Is this an Advantage goal or a PK? What if the ball went straight out of touch, would that change anything?

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
1) The raised hand is a signal to the kicker’s team that he is about to kick. You will have to check with the player himself to determine the signal’s true significance and whether or not it is required.

2) Why would a referee take away a goal scored from a trifling foul and award a penalty kick? Award the advantage, if truly necessary, and score the goal.

If, following the holding, the kicker’s shot goes awry and over the goal line, the referee will have to judge whether or not the holding was significant enough to be called a foul. If it was, then the correct restart is a penalty kick.


WAS IT A FOUL? INTENT VS. RESULT [LAW 12]
Your question:
I would like to get your comments concerning a situation that occurred during a U16 girls game in which I was the referee. During the pace of the game the ball was volleyed from near midfield toward one of the goals. The attacking team’s forward and opponent’s defender bolted side by side toward the bouncing ball. As they raced past the the top of the 18 the attacker gained a stride and was able to get a partial foot on the bounding ball which the keeper caught. A split second afterwards the defender’s extended leg and the offensive player’s feet got tangled and the players went down. To the dismay of the attacking team’s coach I did not call for a PK, his protest was that a foul in the PA area is a foul and a PK should be awarded. My position is this: both players are fairly and cleanly challenging for the ball. The attacker gained a stride which allowed her to get the shot off. The defender’s action precipitated the tangle up and causing both players to go down however the action was not reckless or use of excessive force. To some it may be considered careless however the total situation needs to be ascertained. Would the outcome (attacker getting the shot off and keeper catching the ball) have been the same if the tangle up (trip according to the coach) not occurred? In my opinion the answer is yes, and along with the defender’s trip being more unintentional than purposeful and occurring after the shot was taken I decided to not call the foul. A chat with the defender about being more careful sufficed.

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
An interesting question and one that we have answered before. It is, of course, your opinion as referee that determines whether or not a foul has occurred. Without wishing to seem to be insulting you–particularly as your decision may well have been correct in the end–your opinion would seem to have been based on erroneous reasoning.

We referees are no longer required to judge “intent” in an act by one player against another, but to judge the result of the act instead. However, we are allowed to distinguish between an act that is accidental and one that is deliberate.

All referees need to remember that “intent” is not an issue in deciding what is or is not a foul, regardless of age, and that something at the youngest age levels might nonetheless be considered a foul if it is determined to be careless. No age is too young to begin learning not to be careless.

For example, in the case of a player stumbling and colliding with an opponent, we would judge the act to be careless, reckless, or involving the use of excessive force–and thus a foul–only if the player had already begun to trip (or attempt to trip), push, kick (or attempt to kick), strike (or attempt to strike), jump at or charge his opponent. If the player was still merely pursuing the opponent and happened to stumble and fall, colliding with the opponent on the way down, there has been no foul, as the act was simply accidental or inadvertent.

Only you, as the referee on the spot, can tell us whether this is in fact what happened.


DELIBERATE PASS TO THE GOALKEEPER [LAW 12]
Your question:
I had a discussion with the referees at my last game (FIFA/US Soccer Laws). I was standing at the 6 yard line as a defender trying to clear the ball out. It was extremely windy and I miskicked the ball. It glanced off my shin into the air and the wind picked it up and pushed it back towards our goalkeeper. He then picked it up and threw the ball about 30 yards up the field towards the left touchline. The AR on that side of the field then signaled the center referee. The center referee stopped play (while the ball was in play by the touchline). He consulted with the AR, told him that he did not think the pass was intentional and there was no penalty/indirect kick to be awarded. The center referee then restarted the game with a drop ball at the 6-yard line (where the goalie had handled the ball). I think the center referee made the correct call, but restarted the ball improperly. I have 3 questions.

1) The law states it is unlawful for the goalkeeper in his own penalty area to handle the ball after being deliberately kicked by a teammate. Does this mean that even on a miskick, where a player meant to kick the ball (i.e. a bad clear), just not to the goalie, would count here? Could the goalie pick this ball up on a miskick.

2) I agree that the game should have been restarted with a drop ball, but shouldn’t it have been restarted where the ball was when the referee stopped play?

3) How do the words intentionally and deliberately play out here?

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
1. The goalkeeper may certainly handle the ball when it has been clearly misdirected by a teammate. (An example might be a player trying to clear the ball and slicing it or having it caught and carried back by the wind, so that it goes back to the goalkeeper.) Referees should punish such handling only when, in the opinion of the referee, the pass was deliberate.

2. The ball should have been dropped at the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.

3. The word “intentionally” does not occur in the Laws of the Game. (However, the word “intent” does occur once, in the Additional Instructions at the end of the book, where referees are instructed to caution players who delay the restart of play by certain tactics.) The word “deliberately” means that the player did what he or she planned to do.


LET THE PLAYER IN, REFEREE! [LAW 3; LAW 18]
Your question:
One of my players left the field when I sent in substitutes, 5 went in 6 came off. I notified the AR and wanted to send him in, I was told that I had to wait until a normal substitution situation , I thought I needed to get the Refs. Ok and he could enter at any time after the ref waved him in. I waited 6 minutes till he went in playing a man down. Please advise the proper procedure for me.

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
In this case, your player should be allowed to enter at any time, whether play is stopped or not, but only with the referee’s permission. Because this is not a substitution, this would apply even under the rules of a competition that specifies that a substitute may enter only at particular times.


“SERIOUS INJURY” TURNS OUT TO BE SIMULATION [LAW 5; LAW 12]
Your question:
Play is on when you see, off to the right, a player go down and writhing in pain. You didn’t see any foul but due to concern of player appearing to be seriously injured you stop play. Once you stop play, he amazingly jumps up and runs to where you are. He earns himself a caution for exaggerating the injury. Do you restart with dropped ball from place ball was when you stopped play for the injury? Or do you view the misconduct as occurring simultaneously and punish this with a restart of an IFK from where the player was?

USSF answer (April 5, 2004):
When play is stopped for a player who is seriously injured, the normal restart would be a dropped ball from the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play (taking into consideration the special circumstances described in Law 8). However, if the “serious injury” turns out to be simulation, the referee cautions the player for unsporting behavior and shows the yellow card. The restart in this case is indirect free kick from the place where the infringement occurred (taking into consideration the special circumstances described in Law 8).


REFEREES AND TOBACCO [LAW 18; Q&A]
Your question:
Please forgive me if I’m only supposed to send questions about the laws of the game to askareferee@ussoccer.org but I did not know who else to ask.

Where could I find a bylaw or rule on the USSF web site which says use of tobacco by USSF referees is not allowed?

Someone has asked me for documentation and while I remember my referee instructor mentioning this, I do not remember where he said the rule could be found.

USSF answer (April 5, 2004):
You will not find this restriction in the Laws of the Game, nor anywhere else. However, you will find in the International Football Association’s (IFAB) Questions and Answers to the Laws of the Game that a player may not use tobacco during a match. (Law 12, Q&A 3) The Q&A does not say tobacco, but does say “lights a cigarette.” The connection is clear and definite.

As defined in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” “during a match” includes:
(a) the period of time immediately prior to the start of play during which players and substitutes are physically on the field warming up, stretching, or otherwise preparing for the match;
(b) any periods in which play is temporarily stopped;
(c) half time or similar breaks in play;
(d) required overtime periods;
(e) kicks from the penalty mark if this procedure is used in case a winner must be determined; and
(f) the period of time immediately following the end of play during which the players and substitutes are physically on the field but in the process of exiting.

It is a tenet of the National Program for Referee Development that a referee should do nothing in the vicinity of the field that he or she would not allow a player to do. Thus the use of tobacco in any form would be a violation of the referee’s compact with the United States Soccer Federation.


KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF THE PLAYERS! [LAW 18]
Your question:
I have a question about physical contact between a referee and a youth player that is initiated by the referee. There are obviously extremes on both ends; the acceptable being a handshake after a game, the unacceptable being a referee striking a player. The physical contact I am not sure about is that in between. At a recent game I witnessed the referee pull a player aside by grabbing the player’s wrist. Another incident occurred shortly after in the game where the ref put his hands on another players shoulders while talking to the boy. The ref said that the player claimed to have something in his eye and he was checking, but the appearance at the time was more confrontational. The age of the players in this game was 12/13.

I am personally a referee myself and a parent of two boys who play competitive soccer. When I ref a game I make a conscious decision not to make any type of intentional contact with the players other than to shake hands after a game and then only when initiated by the player. As a parent I do not want a referee to use physical force, threats of force, or even any unnecessary physical contact with my boys. At the same time, I have never seen any type of real guidelines on what could be considered appropriate or inappropriate contact initiated by a referee with a player and only go by my own feelings on the issue. I do understand that this is a very complicated issue with different answers based on the situation, the age and sex of the referee, the players, and even the level of the match, so I am trying to find out what is considered acceptable.

USSF answer (April 5, 2004):
No referee should ever lay hands on any player for any reason other than to help a player in need of assistance to rise from the ground. Some referees will attempt to break up fights, but that is not recommended.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION/KICKING THE ‘KEEPER [LAW 12]
Your question:
Further to your goalkeeper safety answer on 12-Feb-04, in a match on 27-Mar-04 the opponents goalkeeper in his penalty area tried to tackle the ball (fairly) from an attacker with both feet. The keeper wound up on the ground with the ball under and between his legs. When the attacker tried to kick it out, the referee awarded a DFK to the defenders and called it “in the keeper’s possession.” The attacker’s foot made contact with the ball but not the keeper. The keeper was not touching the ball with his hands or arms.

The attacker’s coach objected to this call because keeper possession is defined as “contact with hands or arms.” I told the coach the correct call should be dangerous play on the attacker and the ball (IFK) should still be awarded to the defenders. It still didn’t seem fair play by the keeper. Could the call have been anything else – to award the ball to the attackers?

USSF answer (April 2, 2004):
What is fair to one may not seem fair to another. Was the goalkeeper given a chance to get up and play the ball properly? If so, but the ‘keeper chose not to do so, then the ‘keeper should be called for playing in a dangerous manner and the ‘keeper’s team should be penalized by the indirect free kick for the opponents. If the goalkeeper had no clear chance to stand and play the ball properly, then the correct call, if not the correct words by the referee, would be kicking (or attempting to kick) by the player on the opposing team, and the goalkeeper’s team would be awarded a direct free kick. (Under some circumstances, the referee might consider a send-off for serious foul play.)


DROPPED BALL; MISCONDUCT AT A PENALTY KICK [LAW 8; LAW 14]
Your question:
1. During a “drop ball” restart, one team elected not to participate. The player on the team that did, kicked the ball twice when the ball was dropped. There is nothing in the rules stating that this is ok or not so what’s the call? Is the player entitled to kick the ball twice? 2. During a penalty kick the defending players all yelled in an un sports man like manner just as the opposing player was about to kick the ball and thereby distracting that player. The ball did not go in. What should be the call? If it is un sports man like and every player was involved, who should be cautioned and what should the restart be? Should the player attempting the kick be allowed another chance?

These were youth games- U14. I was the ref so I wanted to see if I made the correct call. I’ve check the various ref manuals and could not find a reference for these events.

USSF answer (April 2, 2004):
1. At a dropped ball, the ball is in play the moment it hits the ground. Because he or she did not put it into play, there is no reason to punish a player for playing the ball twice. The two-touch limitation applies only to restarts performed by a player.

2. Follow the instructions in Law 14: Allow the kick to be taken. If it enters the goal, score the goal. If the ball does not enter the goal, retake the penalty kick. For game management purposes, this is not a situation in which you would simply warn the opposing player(s). Therefore, do not retake the kick until you have cautioned at least one of the players on the opposing team for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. Your choice as to which player(s) to caution, but it might be wise to select a player who has not previously been cautioned.


DECISION MAKING [LAW 18]
Your question:
An offensive player receives the ball near the penalty spot, he has 2 defenders and the goalie in front of him, he dribbles past the first defender, cuts right and dribbles past the second defender, he then nears the post, changes the ball from one foot to the other as the goalie dives to block the shot, the keeper knocks the off ball foot with his reach,disbalancing the shot, the shot goes wide, penalty kick is awarded. QUESTION. Is this a red cardable, last man situation?

USSF answer (March 23, 2004):
That is a problem that can be resolved only by the referee on the spot, the only person who has seen what has gone on and the only person qualified to judge. Any and all situations regarding the possible denial of a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity are, in the final analysis, decided by the referee on this basis. No one can make this decision from the comfort of a computer, standing on the sidelines as a spectator, or from a seat in the stands or in front of the television set. As a matter of fact, the same could be said of any decision for a foul or misconduct.


GOALKEEPER HANDLES BALL OUTSIDE OWN PENALTY AREA [LAW 12]
Your question:
I had a concern about a play. The play is: The goalie comes out of his box playing it on the ground with two defenders behind him, one to his right and the other to his left. The goalie accidentally kicks it to the opposing player. The forward gets the ball and deliberately shoots towards the goal and the goalie purposely blocks it with his hands outside of the penalty area. The referee whistles for the foul,the opposing team quickly puts the ball down and shoots it towards goal and it goes in. The referee counts it as a goal and after gives the keeper a yellow card. We’ve been having this confusion for awhile now because it happened to one of our fellow refs. Is this correct? Thank You for your time; it is greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (March 21, 2004):
Unfortunately, the referee acted incorrectly in this case. If the referee believes that the goalkeeper denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball outside his penalty area, the correct punishment is to send off the goalkeeper and show him the red card. In this particular case, it is unlikely that the referee would send off the goalkeeper, as there were two defenders behind the ‘keeper when he committed his handling offense.

In any case of misconduct, if the referee fails to caution (yellow card) or send off (red card) the player immediately and the opposing team takes its free kick quickly–which it is allowed to do unless the referee stops it–then the referee may neither send off nor caution that player after play has restarted. This shows just how important it is for the referee to manage restarts effectively.


STOPPING PLAY [LAW 5; LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
The following hypothetical question was asked during a recent entry-level clinic I taught.  The more I think about it, the more my brain falls victim to paralysis of analysis.

The ball is in play under the control of the red team at the edge of the blue team’s penalty area. The Referee is well positioned on the left wing, trailing play by about 5 yards, where he can observe play and maintain eye contact with his lead AR. When the Referee sees his lead AR’s flag go up, he whistles a stoppage in play. The lead AR then points in the direction of the trail AR.

The Referee looks back to his trail AR, who has his flag raised and gives it a wave.  The referee back pedals to the trail AR to ask him what he observed. The trail AR tells the Referee that he observed the red sweeper and a blue forward exchange blows while standing near the half-way line in the center of the field. Unfortunately, the trail AR confessed that he was mostly watching the ball and did not observe who struck the first blow.

After deciding to send-off the two pugilists for violent misconduct, the Referee must now restart play. Since play was stopped for what turned out to be a penal foul (striking) he decides the restart must be a direct free kick from the point of the infraction. But, he wonders, in which direction should this free kick be taken?

The class had fun coming up with alternatives, including (1) give the free kick to the attacking team, since they had possession when play was stopped; (2) just guess which direction to call and hope you’re correct;  (3) restart with a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped; and (4) restart with a dropped ball at the point where the violent misconduct took place.

My immediate response to the class was that the Referee needed to earn his money and decide which direction play should go with a direct free kick, and that after the game he should have a very long, heart to heart talk with the trail AR.

So tell me, what is the officially correct answer?

USSF answer (March 19, 2004):
The “officially correct answer” is precisely as you stated–the referee must make a decision and stick with it under any circumstances. Restarting with a dropped ball is not an option.

In addition, it might be useful to note that there was a referee error embedded in the question: “When the Referee sees his lead AR’s flag go up, he whistles a stoppage in play.” At the point of seeing the assistant referee’s flag go up, the referee has no idea what the AR is trying to do other than gain the referee’s attention and, accordingly, stopping play THEN is incorrect. The flag straight up in the air is nothing more than a “Hey, ref!” call. The subsequent eye contact is the referee’s reply of “Yeah, what is it?” and this must then be followed by some AR action that tells the referee why the referee’s attention was wanted. In this case, the lead AR, who has mirrored the other AR’s flag, points to the trail AR, who then informs the referee that an event has occurred out of the view of the referee for which the referee would have stopped play if he had seen it. This is the correct point at which to stop play.


PREVENTING THE GOALKEEPER FROM RELEASING THE BALL [LAW 12]
Your question:
What should the referee do if a player who is outside the penalty area intentionally stops the goalkeeper from releasing the ball?

I told one of our referees here that play should be stopped, the player should be cautioned and play restarted with an indirect kick to the goalkeeper’s team. He said no because the player is outside of the penalty area. It is only when the offence occurs in the penalty area that the referee should take such action.

USSF answer (March 19, 2004):
The makers of the Laws of the Game changed the Law some years ago to prevent time wasting by the team with the ball, such as the goalkeeper standing around holding the ball. Now that a limit has been set on the time during which the goalkeeper may hold the ball, the Law expects all players to refrain from delaying or otherwise interfering with the goalkeeper’s right to release the ball into play for all players. Any interference with the movement of the goalkeeper who is trying to release the ball into play is illegal, particularly any movement to block the goalkeeper’s line of sight or motion. Interference with the release of the ball is purely a positional thing, regardless of whether the goalkeeper is moving at the time.

It makes no difference where the interfering player stands, whether inside or outside the penalty area.


TOUCH [LAW 18]
Your question:
At a recent game, a player chasing a ball across the touch line, twisted his knee. The Center Referee made a comment that the player injured himself while playing the ball into touch. I asked him isn¹t this out of touch, as the ball was leaving the field?

So my question is when a ball leaves the field over the touch line does it go out of or into touch?

USSF answer (March 19, 2004):
The term “touch” in describing the area surrounding the actual field is an old one in soccer. It goes back to the nineteenth century, when the first player getting to the ball after it left the bounds of the field could “touch” it and the ball became his to put back into play. Although that no longer applies and there are strict rules about who puts the ball back into play, depending on who last touched, played, or made contact with the ball before it left the field, the term “touch” is still used to describe the area outside the “touch lines.”

2003 Part 2

CLUB LINESMEN/DO NOT CHAT WITH COACHES [LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
thanks for the reply: one more that came up last night at disciplinary meeting: Ref is explaining a certain call he made with head coach at half-time in the center of the field. The coach had been invited onto the field. Discussion escaltes and becomes confrontational. A club linesmen seems to think there may be a problem, and he walks onto the field to see if the center referee needs assistance. The coach starts to scream at the club linesmen that he shouldn’t be on the field unless invited by the center. I should note that this is a U-10 match and the club linesmen is not a certified USSF ref, but a father of one of the players. The coach goes “nuts” because the linesmen refuses to leave until the coach settles down. My question is this: Does a club linesmen have to be invited onto the field by the center? And does it make any difference if this occurs either at half-time, or after the game?

USSF answer (June 30, 2003):
Under Section 6.6 CLUB LINESMEN, in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” we learn that “the relationship of club linesmen to the referee must be one of assistance, without undue interference or any opposition.” In this case, it would appear that the club linesman was attempting to be supportive of the referee and that the coach was out of line in more ways than one. This situation also illustrates the dangers of inviting coaches anywhere for anything unless the match is over — and even then it’s not a good idea.


NUMBER OF REFEREES IN THE U. S. A. [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
A. How many soccer referees are there in the US today? I realize that there are different levels, but in sum how many people are qualified from USSF’s point of view to officiate at some level of soccer?
B. How many referees is this number short of what USSF would like to see?

USSF answer (June 26, 2003):
There are currently 125,000 referees registered with the United States Soccer Federation. The Federation would like to see many more than that.


RESTARTS AND AFFECTING PLAY [LAW 13; LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Our referee association had an interesting debate about a call made after a corner kick. It seems the younger age groups have picked up a tactical “touch and go” play to their repetoire. The player taking the corner kick barely touches the ball forward and a teammate runs in to take possession, then, dribbles the ball to the goal. Not a problem in itself except the center referee missed the slight touch and stopped play thinking the second player had taken the corner. Of course, the call was an indirect for the defending team. This particular referee also stated, we should encourage the teams to let us know when this play was being made to avoid any confusion in the future. I maintain, referees should not be privy to “plays” and if I had been the center and missed the start, I would have looked for my assistant for a foul signal. After all, the AR is right there! The referee claimed he had to concentrate on what was going on in the box. HHHmmmm . . . positioning, maybe? Anyway, my argument was in the the minority . . . what do you think?

USSF answer (June 25, 2003):
The most important things to note here are that (1) THE REFEREE MUST BE ALERT AT ALL TIMES! It is inexcusable for a referee to miss any play that occurs within his or her view, particularly a restart. If the referee is inattentive and misses the restart, then he or she should look to the nearer assistant referee for assistance. (2) THE LAWS OF THE GAME ARE WRITTEN TO ENCOURAGE ATTACKING SOCCER AND THE SCORING OF GOALS. Referees must not take away an advantage LEGALLY GAINED by the team with the ball.

The remainder of this answer comes from a reply written back in September 2002 (and modified slightly to update references). It covers all aspects of deceptive play.

QUOTE
General Note Regarding Restarts
“Memorandum 1997” discussed amendments to the Laws of the Game affecting all free kick, corner kick, penalty kick, and kick-off restarts. These amendments centered on the elimination of the ball moving the “distance of its circumference” before being considered in play. In all such cases, the ball is now in play when it is “kicked and moves” (free kicks and corner kicks) or when it is “kicked and moves forward” (kick-offs and penalty kicks). IFAB has emphasized that only minimal movement is needed to meet this requirement.
USSF Advice to Referees: further clarification from IFAB suggests that, particularly in the case of free kicks and corner kicks, such minimal movement might include merely touching the ball with the foot. Referees are reminded that they must observe carefully the placing of the ball and, when it is properly located, any subsequent touch of the ball with the foot is sufficient to put the ball into play. Referees must distinguish between such touching of the ball to direct it to the proper location for the restart and kicking the ball to perform the restart itself. In situations where the ball must move forward before it is in play (kick-offs and penalty kicks), there should be less difficulty in applying the new language since such kicks have a specific location which is easily identified.
END OF QUOTE

It is not the referee’s responsibility to ensure that the opposing team is prepared for any restart. That is their job. The referee’s job is to ensure that the Laws of the Game are enforced. What you are questioning is not “trickery” by the kicking team; it is deception, which is allowed by the Laws. Here is an article that appeared a short while ago in our USSF referee magazine, Fair Play:

QUOTE
Affecting Play
Jim Allen, National Instructor Trainer

Using “devious” means to affect the way play runs can be perfectly legal. The referee must recognize and differentiate between the “right” and “wrong” ways of affecting play, so that he or she does not interfere with the players’ right to use legitimate feints or ruses in their game. The desire to score a goal and win the game often produces tactical maneuvers, ploys, and feints designed to deceive the opponent. These can occur either while the ball is in play or at restarts. Those tactics used in restarts are just as acceptable as they would be in the normal course of play, provided there is no action that qualifies as unsporting behavior or any other form of misconduct. The team with the ball is allowed more latitude than its opponents because this is accepted practice throughout the world, and referees must respect that latitude when managing the game. Play can be affected in three ways and each will probably occur in any normal game. In descending order of acceptability under the Laws of the Game, they are: influence, gamesmanship, and misconduct.
To “influence” means to affect or alter the way the opponents play by indirect or intangible means. “Gamesmanship” is the art or practice of winning a game through acts of doubtful propriety, such as distracting an opponent without technically violating the Laws of the Game. However, the referee must be very careful, for while the act may be within the Letter of the Law, it may well fall outside the Spirit of the Law. “Misconduct” is blatant cheating or intentional wrongdoing through a deliberate violation of the Laws of the Game.
Many referees confuse perfectly legitimate methods of affecting play through influence with certain aspects of gamesmanship and misconduct. Influence can cause problems for some referees at restarts. The ball is in play on free kicks and corner kicks as soon as it has been kicked and moves, and on kick-offs and penalty kicks as soon as it is kicked and moves forward. The key for most referees seems to be the requirement that the ball must “move.” The IFAB has directed that referees interpret this requirement liberally, so that only minimal movement is necessary. This minimal movement has been defined as the kicker possibly merely touching the ball with the foot. All referees must observe carefully the placing of the ball for the kick and distinguish between moving the ball with the foot to put it in the proper location and actually kicking the ball to restart the game. Please note: Feinting at a penalty kick may be considered by the referee to be unsporting behavior, but verbal or physical feinting by the kicking team at free kicks or in dynamic play is not. (See below.)
Influencing play is perfectly acceptable. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) have consistently ruled in favor of the use of guile by the attacking team to influence play and against the use of timewasting tactics and deceitful acts by the defending team. The IFAB and FIFA are so concerned over the failure of referees to deal with timewasting tactics that they send annual reminders noting that referees must deal with time wasting in all its forms. IFAB has also consistently ruled that the practice of forming a defensive wall or any other interference by the defending team at free kicks is counter to the Spirit of the Game, and has issued two associated rulings that the kicking team may influence (through the use of feinting tactics) and confuse the opponents when taking free kicks. The IFAB reinforced its renunciation of defensive tactics by allowing the referee to caution any opposing players who do not maintain the required distance at free kicks as a result of the feinting tactics, which can include members of the kicking team jumping over the ball to confuse and deceive the opponents legally. (See the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, May 2000, Law 13, Q&A 6.) The related practice of touching the ball at a free kick or corner kick just enough to put it in play and then attempting to confuse the opponents by telling a teammate to come and take the kick is also accepted practice.
Gamesmanship, by its very name, suggests that the player is bending the rules of the game to his benefit. However, while he is not breaking the letter of the laws that cover play, he may be violating the Spirit of the Laws. Indeed, acts of gamesmanship in soccer can range from being entirely within the letter of the Law to quite illegal. Examples of legal gamesmanship are a team constantly kicking the ball out of play or a player constantly placing himself in an offside position deliberately, looking for the ball from his teammates so that the referee must blow the whistle and stop and restart the game. These acts are not against the Letter of the Laws, and players who commit them cannot be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. Referees can take steps against most aspects of this legal time wasting only by adding time. Remember that only the referee knows how much time has been lost, and he is empowered by Law 7 to add as much time as necessary to ensure equality. Acts of illegal gamesmanship fall under misconduct (see below). Examples: a player deliberately taking the ball for a throw-in or free kick to the wrong spot, expecting the referee to redirect him; a coach whose team is leading in the game coming onto the field to “attend” to a downed player; simulating a foul or feigning an injury. Misconduct is a deliberate and illegal act aimed at preventing the opposing team from accomplishing its goals. Misconduct can be split into two categories of offenses: those which merit a caution (including the illegal forms of time wasting) and those which merit a sending-off. While the attacking team may use verbal feints to confuse the defensive wall or may “call” for the ball without actually wanting it, simply to deceive their opponents, the other team may not use verbal feints to its opponents and then steal the ball from them, e.g., a defender calling out an opponent’s name to entice him into passing the ball to him. Full details on the categories of misconduct and their punishment can be found in the U. S. Soccer Federation (USSF) publication “7 + 7,” which can be downloaded from this and other USSF-affiliated pages.
Look at these methods of affecting play as escalating in severity from the legal act of influencing to gamesmanship, which can range from legal to illegal, to misconduct, which is entirely illegal. Each of these methods will be used by players in any normal game of soccer to gain an advantage for their team. Referees must know the difference between them, so that they can deal with what should be punished and not interfere in an act that is not truly an infringement of the Laws. Thorough knowledge of the Laws of the Game, the Additional Instructions on the Laws of the Game, the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, the USSF Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game, and position papers and memoranda from the National Referee Development Program can help the referee make the correct decision in every case.
END OF QUOTE

These principles apply at all levels of the game.


REFEREE COMMUNICATION DEVICES [LAW 5; LAW 6]
Your question:
I noticed the Referees wearing an earpiece and microphone during the Confederations Cup Competition in France. Is this something new FIFA is doing, and do you know who may be communicating with the Referees during these games? If someone is communicating with the referee using modern electronics what is your opinion?

USSF answer (June 25, 2003):
The referees are participating in a FIFA experiment and are wearing communication devices connecting them with the assistant referees. The referee can speak directly to the ARs, but the ARs must signal the referee individually to establish communication from their devices.

We will probably learn more about the communication devices after the competition is over.


HOLDING (INCLUDING “HAND CHECKS”) [LAW 12]
Your question:
Why is it, in the mens’ game, it is allowed for a player chasing an attacker with the ball to grab and hold? Unless the attacker is flagrantly thrown down, a foul is usually not called. This to me is using the “take him out” defense which is used to neutralize superior speed or skill. This does not seem to be allowed in the womens’ game, and they have more exciting field play, with more goals, but not the speed of the mens game. I don’t mind bumping and tackling, but the grabbing of the shirts and shorts to slow them down and sometimes dragging them down seems to be against the spirt of the game. Anyway, it just bothers me.

USSF answer (June 25, 2003):
If it bothers you, do something about it. Players are not allowed to grab and hold other players. That is called “holding” and is punishable by a direct free kick. While it is up to the referee to enforce the Laws, it is also up to the players to play responsibly and within the Laws. Work through your state association to have the Laws enforced more closely and to educate the players.

Do not forget that the International F. A. Board and FIFA have become so concerned about holding that they issued a directive in 2002 reminding referees that, if the holding is blatant and pulls a player away from the ball or prevents a player from getting to the ball, the action is misconduct (yellow card for unsporting behavior) in addition to being a foul.


SUBSTITUTIONS [LAW 3; RULES OF COMPETITION]
Your question:
Perhaps you could clarify the question I have regarding substitutes. If the Ref stops a youth game ( u19 or lower) to allow a injured player to be attended to–are subs allowed for uninjured players on either team? If the ball has been put out of play and the Referee signals for bench personnel to attend to an injured player—are any subs allowed (injured player only, or anyone, or nobody??). Also during the administering of a card–are subs allowed by either team? I have asked different Refs these questions and have received many different answers. I would appreciate having this cleared up.

USSF answer (June 25, 2003):
Under the Laws of the Game, players may be substituted at any stoppage in play. The reason you get different answers from various referees is that the competitions in which they officiate may have established rules different from the Laws of the Game.


GAMESMANSHIP [LAW 12; 7 + 7]
Your question:
I was recently at a Premier Level boys U17 game between a Colorado team and a team from Cal-North. The Cal-North coach was upset at some of the tactics that were being used by the Colorado team and was complaining to the referee in order to try and get some calls. The Colorado coach suggested that the tactics his team were using fell under the category of gamesmanship and did not warrant any action by the referee. Some of the tactics that I noticed looked a lot like delay and harrassment, and really disrupted the flow of the game. Can you help clarify the following items and let me know whether you think they should have been warned or carded.
– Kicking the ball 10 yards out of bounds on the opponents throw-ins to delay. 10-12 times
– Standing on the touchline in front of throwins to eliminate quick restarts. 5-7 times
– Running players between the kicker and the wall on free kicks to distract the kicking team. 3-4 times
– Exaggerated body language on fouls committed in front of attacking goal. Can’t knock a player down in their first 2/3 of the field, fall down at the slightest touch in the attacking third 10-12 times, mostly ignored
USSF answer (June 21, 2003):
One man’s gamesmanship is another man’s misconduct. There are legitimate ways to affect how play runs, but they are reserved for the team with the ball, not the opponents. Most of the tactics you list should be stopped immediately by the referee. Perhaps the first time the referee should simply warn the player, but after that a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior or delaying the restart of play or failing to remain the required distance away at a free kick would be in order.

Deliberately holding the ball or kicking the ball away at a stoppage — no matter the direction or destimation — is considered to be delaying the restart of play.

Standing on the touchline in front of the thrower is legitimate, provided the player doing the standing does not move with the thrower or otherwise attempt to distract or impede the thrower. If he does that, he should be cautioned for unsporting behavior.

If the defending team runs players between the ball and the wall, that is failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a free kick, a cautionable offense. The same is true if the defending team sends a “stroller” past the ball just before the kick.

Faking an injury or exaggerating the seriousness of an injury or faking a foul (diving) or exaggerating the seriousness of a foul are considered to be unsporting behavior.

You can find a very useful document entitled “7 + 7” on various USSF-affiliated websites. It lists the seven cautionable offenses and the seven sending-off offenses, giving a breakdown for each sort of misconduct.


POOR REFEREEING [LAW 10; LAW 5; LAW 6]
Your question:
My team just finished playing a game where I was quite frustrated with the call a center and side ref made. The ball hit the top post on the goal and came straight down to hit the goal line and it spun out of the goal line into the field and not into the goal. The center ref admittedly says that he didn’t see it go in since he was 30 yards away and in the center of the field. The side referee was 25 yes and could not see it either.  We ascertained this fact by going to his line after the game and there was no way to side the line of the goal line from this position let alone the split second of the balls position.

The side referee was approximately 13 yrs old and was obviously a friend of the team as they celebrated the win together after the game with the opposing team. This happened to disillusion our kids who played an away game and saw this display of jubilation and celebratory high fives with the opposing team and the side ref.

By the way the teams are U13 boy’s team.

I’d like to know the ruling when any ref could not possibly see the ball cross the line. I’d also like to know how can I send a complaint through the proper channels to show my frustration.

USSF answer (June 19, 2003):
The answer is simple: If the referee and the assistant referee cannot confirm that a goal has been scored — in other words, that the ball has completely crossed the goal line between the goalposts and beneath the crossbar — then no goal has been scored. This is not a protestable matter; it is a matter of fact. Any comments regarding fitness, less than optimal positioning, or apparent bias on the part of an official should be directed to the competition authority and/or to the referee organization.

We do apologize for the lack of fitness or preparedness of the referee and the assistant referee who were unable to be in the proper spot to see the action. We also apologize for the young assistant referee’s lack of common sense in celebrating with the winning team. That is uncalled for — and has now been dealt with by your state association.


REFEREES: STICK TO YOUR OWN BUSINESS! [LAW 3; LAW 5; LAW 18; ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
In a recent recreational league women’s game, I had a player take the field who had just come out of a leg cast. She had broken two bones in her ankle 6 weeks prior in a game that I also officiated. I was surprised that she was out on the field and asked if she felt she could play without risk of further injury. She said yes and I allowed her to play. Keeping a close eye on her, I noticed three things: she was unable to turn on the ankle; she hobbled badly/she did not run; and her opponents gave her plenty of room fearing that they might cause her further injury. I expressed to her that I was uncomfortable with her playing and that she should consider taking more time to recover from a serious injury. She claimed to be OK.

I mulled it over for a half and at the end of the half came to the conclusion that one; she was a danger to herself, two; she was changing how the game would normally be played, and three; I might be held liable for a secondary injury. I asked influential players on her team to intercede and request that she not return for the second half. They asked but she would not comply. At that point I asked her directly to volunteer not to play in the second half. She again claimed she was OK and would return to play. Feeling that I had emptied my bag of game management options, I had no choice but to inform her that I would not allow her to return. Obviously, this was not a popular statement, but after some guarded conversation, she complied.

Reviewing my laws, I can not come up with anything other than the still not written but often invoked law 18, common sense, to back my authority to stop her from playing. Was I correct in not allowing her to play? Could I be held liable for a secondary injury? Is there a law prohibiting players from playing the game while seriously injured?

USSF answer (June 19, 2003):
You overstepped your authority by telling the player she could not play. If you have some pretty good evidence that she is seriously injured, you may stop play to have a player examined (and then removed from the field of play), but you may not order her off the field of play.

It is not likely that the referee would be held liable if the indicated course of action were followed. You can’t stop someone from suing, and there’s no way to guarantee that a referee would never be found liable under any circumstances, but it seems unlikely that a referee would be liable in such a case.


SHOW THE CARD! DO NOT LECTURE THE PLAYERS! [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
A fight broke out behind my back during the last 5 minutes of a U16 boys semi-final state championship game. The score at the time was 3 to 0. My AR’s told me that an attacker on the losing team ran up from behind and jumped on the back of a defender on the winning team with no apparent provocation. The defender wrestled the attacker to the ground and was on top of him when I turned and saw the two of them. Both benches ran out on the field but did not engage in violent conduct (NO BRAWL). I ran over and got the two players separarted and then with the help of my AR’s and both coaches I got both teams back to their benches. After deliberating with my assistants I decided to eject both of these players. I went over to each bench and told both the players and their respective coaches that I was ejecting the two players involved in the incident but I did not show the red card to either player. The two players immediately removed their jerseys and fully understood that they went being sent off. Both coaches also understood that the two players were being sent off because the losing coach wanted me to abandon the match (he wanted to replay the game and have another chance to win) and the winning coach requested that he sit his player down to cool off but not be given a card (he knows this player would be suspended for the next game and wanted him for the finals next week). I did not change my decision and the final 5 minutes were played without further incident. At the conclusion of the game both teams exhibited good sportsmanship and formed lines and shook hands. The next day the winning coach protested my send off of his player since he claimed his player only got involved to defend himself and that I never showed his player the red card. Is it necessary to show the red card when sending off a player? In this case both players were already off the field at their benches. My report listed the two players involved in the violent conduct as being sent off for violent conduct. Does this coach have a legitimate protest? The competition authority reviewed the protest and upheld my decision and agreed that both players were sent off and therefore suspended for the next game.

USSF answer (June 19, 2003):
The Law requires that the referee who sends off a player also show the red card: “A player is sent off and shown the red card . . ..” This makes everyone involved realize that the player has been dismissed. The competition authority obviously recognized that you had dismissed the player and rejected the specious argument of the coach that the dismissal should be quashed because you did not show the red card. This should be a warning to you and other referees for future games: Do it right!


OFFENSIVE, INSULTING, OR ABUSIVE LANGUAGE OR GESTURES [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Up front: Excellent work you do with your column. Every referee (and I am in this end of the business for a total of over 30 years in Europe and in the US, not meaning that I am anywhere close to perfect)  can learn a lot. I think every Instructor should make his students aware of your part of the webpage.

My question today:
We have in our area a referee, who makes the captains in his pre-game conference aware of the fact that he sees the mentioning of the word “God” -in any way- as a cautionable offense. And he acts accordingly.
I would understand a caution, if “Oh, my God” or similar is used to show dissent with a referees decision, but just for a missed pass or another mishap (and directed towards the player himself) to caution some body does not seem to be backed up by any part of the law, to me.

As I am not an American, am I missing some part of the use of the word of God and “bringing the game into disrepute”?

What are your thoughts about this?

Thank you very much for your answer.

USSF answer (June 17, 2003):
Many thanks for letting us know that you like the Q&As. We strive to make them as useful as possible.

Your concern about the referee who is zealous in his pursuit of The Deity on the field was addressed in a recent position paper, Misconduct Involving Language/Gestures, dated March 14, 2003, which can be found on this and other USSF-affiliated websites. The answer quotes freely from the position paper.

The matter of taking the name of God in vain can usually be considered a momentary emotional outburst. Such an act is deemed by the position paper as “borderline acceptable, perhaps a trifling offense only,” with which the referee should deal through a stern look or verbal admonishment. Although it is unlikely, if the use of the word goes beyond this and becomes dissent (or unsporting behavior), it is deemed unacceptable misconduct, for which the referee must caution the player and display the yellow card. And, again unlikely, if the use of the word is regarded as offensive, insulting or abusive language, this is more serious misconduct, for which the referee would send off the player and display the red card.

The referee must intelligently apply common sense, feel for the spirit of the game, and knowledge of the way in which player language can affect management of the match in order to distinguish effectively among these forms. Regardless of age or competitive level, players become excited as their personal or team fortunes rise or fall, and it is not uncommon for language to be used in the heat of the moment. Such outbursts, while possibly vivid, are typically brief, undirected, and often quickly regretted. The referee must understand the complex emotions of players in relation to the match and discount appropriately language which does no lasting harm to those who might have heard or seen the outburst. Of course, the player might well be warned in various ways (a brief word, direct eye contact, etc.) regarding his behavior.

The referee might well choose to talk to, warn, admonish, or caution players whose undesirable language occurs in a short, emotional outburst and send off a player whose language is a sustained, calculated, and aggressive verbal assault.

REFEREES MUST TAKE CARE NOT TO INJECT PURELY PERSONAL OPINIONS AS TO THE NATURE OF THE LANGUAGE WHEN DETERMINING A COURSE OF ACTION. THE PRIMARY FOCUS OF THE REFEREE MUST BE ON THE EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT OF THE MATCH AND THE PLAYERS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE OVERALL FEEL FOR THE SPIRIT OF THE GAME.

As to the referee’s announcement to the captains, the only comment we can make is that this is a very dangerous practice. Lecturing players tends to cause two things: Either they remember the lecture vividly and then expect the referee to live up to every word — which can be dangerous to the referee’s health — or they go brain dead and fail to listen at all. USSF referees are taught NOT TO LECTURE PLAYERS before the game, as it can only lead to trouble in managing the game and the players.


PADDED GOAL POSTS [LAW 1]
Your question:
Hi. I’m a concerned parent. My 16-year old daughter recently played in a soccer tournament in Macon, GA. She’s a goal keeper. While attempting to block a shot, she hit her knee against the goal post at a full run. The goal post was a square, steel guirder. It split her knee wide open. She ended up with 16 stitches (8 inside, 8 outside), but thankfully, other than the scar, there doesn’t appear to be any permanent damage. We won’t be sure until she goes back to keeper training. I’m on a campaign now to make all goal posts round or padded. If she had hit her head instead of her knee, I’m afraid we would have lost her. It is not at all unusual for goalies and players to hit the goal posts during the excitement of the game. I understand that Law 1, The Field of Play, states that goals are to be made of wood, metal or other approved materials. Their shape may be square, rectangular, round or elliptical and they must not be dangerous to players. I think my daughter’s injury shows how square metal posts can be very dangerous to players. I’d like to find out how to petition to change that law so that goal posts are safer. Any assistance you can offer is greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (June 17, 2003):
You will be fighting an extremely uphill battle to have the Law changed. First, you must have your state put forward a proposal to the Federation (USSF). It must be approved by USSF — unlikely — and then forwarded to the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the people who make the Laws of the Game. (No, it is not FIFA, no matter how many people think so. FIFA simply publishes and administers the Laws for the IFAB.) It is even more unlikely that the IFAB would make this change. The Laws already offer a multiplicity of options for goals, so each step along the way will simply suggest that you lobby for a change locally.

As to padded goals, these are mandated by at least one park system — but not by any soccer programs — here in the United States. I believe it is somewhere in Georgia. Such goals are not popular with the players, because they cause unpredictable bounces of the ball, allowing it to either drop immediately to the ground or deflect away in random directions.


GRADE 9 OFFICIALS [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
This is not an onfield rules question but one regarding responsibilities of grade level. My understanding of Grade 9 officials is that they are qualified to officiate at center or as an assistant on U-14 games or below. This is information I have gathered from my Grade 8 recertification course this year and from the USSF Referee Administrative Handbook. The referee assignor in our area is convinced that Grade 9 officials can only act as AR’s. I have included the text of our recent e-mail’s below for further details regarding this issue. If you could shed some light on this, I would certainly appreciate it.

USSF answer (June 16, 2003):
Grade 9 officials may do centers or lines on U-14 RECREATIONAL games. They may also act as assistant referees on U-14 COMPETITIVE games, but may not be the referee on U-14 competitive games.


FOULS IN THE PENALTY AREA
Your question:
I’ve been a ref for 4 years. Over that time, the books I’ve read and the clinics I’ve been to have put forth the guideline that a foul is a foul, we should call them consistently wherever they occur, including the penalty area. In watching professional and international games it is clear that those refs operate on a different principal. So, what’s the deal? Are the standards different for youth and amateur vs. the pros? This isn’t addressed in either the LOTG or the USSF’s Advice to Referees, that I can find.

USSF answer (June 13, 2003):
The standards are the same for youth and adult soccer as they are for the professionals. About the only thing that might be different is that the referees at the professional level are better at discriminating between what is truly a foul and what less-experienced referees may call in a youth or adult league game.

Yes, a foul is a foul is a foul . . . but what the referee DOES about the foul is greatly dependent on the skill and experience of the players, the “temperature” of the match at that point, and a host of other factors. Ralph Waldo Emerson warned that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” — which is good advice for referees. Consistency is not always a good thing.


PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT
Your question:
Despite the excellent advice and guidance provided in 2002 regarding Persistent Infringement, I am unable to locate a definitive, written reference to the following question. After having issued a caution for four hard fouls against the same opponent, how should the referee regard additional infringement by the same player? Assuming the same behavior continues, would one or two more fouls be enough for a second caution? Does the first yellow card ³cover² the first four fouls, suggesting three more is more appropriate? Your assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (June 13, 2003):
Perhaps you are looking too hard and failing to see what is right in front of you. If a player has been cautioned and shown the yellow card for persistently infringing the Laws of the Game, then if he continues to infringe the Laws he should be cautioned again (second yellow card) and then sent off and shown the red card for receiving a second caution in the same match.

In addition, the referee in this case should look to his man-management skills. If the referee’s only tool in managing players is his cards, then he will have many very long and difficult games.


DANGEROUS FIELDS
Your question:
We are working games for an adult league this summer whose fields raise a question. The touch lines have been placed so that on each field, two American Football goal posts have their centered upright on a touch line. While this requires care by the AR on that side, we “work around” the problem in order to have games. (The league was unable to secure other fields due to drought closures.) While the post holding the goal is on the touch line, the right angle extension and goal assembly (the horizontal and upright portion) extend over the pitch.

These obstuctions do not meet the criteria for an “outside agent” nor are they part of the soccer / American football goals. Is the 2000(?) answer still in effect and should these goal posts be treated as one would the trees or wires overhanging the field? “Trees or wires overhanging the field are pre-existing conditions and do not affect either team more adversely than the other. If a ball hits them, play should continue, unless the ball rebounds into touch or over the goal line, in which case the appropriate restart would be based on which team had played the ball last.”

USSF answer (June 11, 2003):
Before answering the original question, a statement for you and other referees to ponder: While these fields are obviously unsafe, they apparently have been approved for use by the competition. In that case, the officials — who can certainly choose not to work these games — must exercise great care to protect both themselves and the players.

Given that the fields, as they exist, have been approved by the competition, the posts on the lines constitute pre-existing conditions, so any ball that strikes any part of them and rebounds into the field will be considered to be in play.

NOTE: We have seen photos and these fields are scary. The matter has been reported to referee authorities in this state.


EARLY MOVEMENT FROM THE WALL/’KEEPER MOVEMENT
Your question:
Late in a tied, competitive adult co-ed game, an obvious DFK was awarded 25 yards from goal. A defensive player broke from the wall and charged the ball after the whistle but just before the kick. Timing was such that a whistle would have been simultaneous with the kick. I decided to hold off and see what happened. The keeper deflected the shot, which fell to the attackers who eventually somehow scored in the resulting melee. I awarded the goal, started breathing again, and warned the encroacher.

Questions: Should I have whistled the encroachment immediately, regardless of the impending kick, cautioned the encroacher, and allowed a re-kick? Should I have stopped it when the GK deflected the shot, cautioned the encroacher, and allowed a re-kick? Or what? This was a very intense situation – highly emotional. A lot was going on in the wall, etc.  I like it when the game ramps up like that; I just want to get it right. Good fun! Thanks!

Note on your comments re the AC Milan GK coming off his line during the PKs: I understood you to instruct referees to uphold Law 14, which would include penalizing the GK for coming off the line, and awarding a re-kick. I keep hearing this, even at advanced clinics, yet in reality I do not observe this part of Law 14 being enforced in the World Cup, UEFA, MLS, whatever. Any ref who dares to enforce GK encroachment really hears it from players, coaches, etc. They all watch the same games we do. It’s not going to work until we all observe it being enforced consistently at the highest levels. I want to make it through the parking lot alive, too, just like Mr. Markus and his crew.

USSF answer (June 10, 2003):
1. Your decision to wait on enforcing the requirements of Laws 12 and 13 was correct in this case, although you could have cautioned and shown the yellow card to the player who failed to respect the required distance at the free kick. The basis for waiting is that, under Law 5, you can apply advantage to misconduct just as is done with fouls.

2. Enforcement of the requirement that the goalkeeper remain on the goal line until the ball has been kicked has to begin somewhere. The IFAB has amended the Additional Instructions for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials for 2003 to read: “The Penalty Kick. It is an infringement to enter the penalty area before the kick has been taken. The goalkeeper also infringes the Laws if he moves from his goal line before the ball has been kicked. Referees must ensure that when players infringe this Law appropriate action is taken.”

The USSF Advice to Referees regarding this change is as follows:
“The reference to ‘enter the penalty area before the kick has been taken’ includes players moving closer than ten yards to the ball (i. e., entering the penalty arc) and moving closer to the goal line than the ball (i.e., moving closer to the goal line than twelve yards). Referees must also ensure that the goalkeeper does not move off the goal line before the ball is in play. However, although the International Board emphasized the need for referees to take appropriate actions when players violate the requirements of Law 14, referees must continue to differentiate between those violations which clearly had an impact on subsequent play and those trifling violations which clearly had no impact.”

In other words, the referee must have the courage to punish infringements that are not trifling and to order the kick to be retaken.


MORE REFEREES IN NEED OF IMPROVEMENT/DUTIES OF THE CAPTAIN
Your question:
I have always felt that being a referee is a tough job and as a parent and spectator I try not to make the job any more difficult than it already is. Here is my question. As I understand the rules of the game in Wright County Minnesota, the coach and players can discuss rules and/or calls with the referees before or after the game. It is the responsibility of the team captain to present any questions, concerns or disputes to the referees during the game. Of course all discussions need to take place in a timely and respectful manner. Based on the assumption that my understanding of the rules is correct, what other course of action should the player have taken in the following scenario: I have a daughter, in the U-18 level who played goalie in Eden Prairie on tuesday evening June 3rd. During the course of the game Jessica and other players were subjected to verbal abuse by a group of spectators. This verbal abuse took place while the spectators were directly behind the goal and included such comments to the goalie as “they are coming to get you” and “eat it goalie”. Comments to the other players included racial slurs such as “Asians get off the field”. These comments were delivered with enough malice to bring tears to my daughter’s eyes. A true sportsman, Jessica did not acknowledge them or their comments. The team captain requested that the center referee ask the spectators to “quit harassing my goalie”. No action was taken. After the completion of the game, Jessica waited until the teams had wished each other well and approached the nearest referee, who happened to be a side line judge. Jessica said in a respectful voice “Excuse me sir, I believe it is unfair….”. This is as much as the referee allowed Jessica to speak. At this time he interrupted her, pointed to the parking lot and said “Go home” and walked away.  My daugter felt the calls the referees made during the game were correct and fair to both teams. She was obviously unhappy with the negative support shown by her opponent’s fans. The player wished to exercise her right to object to the lack of action taken regarding the spectators. So the question remains what should a player do if they feel there is a problem?

USSF answer (June 9, 2003):
There are good and bad referees all over the place. Your team happened to get two of the bad ones, people who cannot be bothered to protect the Spirit of the Game. The people behind the goal should not have been allowed to bother the goalkeeper (whether your daughter or not ) and the referee should have dealt with these people.

The captain cannot raise any issues with the referee or the assistant referee. The captain’s duties are spelled out in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
19.4 THE ROLE OF THE TEAM CAPTAIN
The role of the team captain is not defined in the Laws of the Game. He usually wears an armband. The captain is responsible to the referee for his team, but has no special rights or privileges. By practice and tradition, certain duties fall upon the team captain:
-to see that the referee’s decisions are respected by the captain’s teammates and by team officials;
-to counsel a teammate who may be reluctant to leave the field at a substitution ‹ but neither the captain nor the referee may insist that the player leave;
-to represent his or her team at the coin toss to determine which direction the team will attack to begin the game (and subsequent overtime periods) or which team will take first kick in kicks from the penalty mark;
-to be the team representative to whom the referee must go to obtain the name or names of members of that team who must be withdrawn from participating in kicks from the penalty mark in order to match the size of the opposing team (which has fewer players on the field before or during the kicks from the penalty mark procedure as a result of injury or misconduct).

However, a captain — or any other player — who has a legitimate concern should be able to speak with the officials politely, as your player did, and expect to get a polite response in return.

Please accept our apologies for these incidents, which should never have been allowed to happen. We have informed the state authorities of the matter, hoping that they will deal with the officials concerned. And you might consider filing a report with your daughter’s team’s league — perhaps not so much regarding the referee’s behavior as the behavior of the spectator’s. This is based on the theory that the competition authority has some responsibility here as well.


JUNIOR AND SENIOR ASSISTANT REFEREES?
Your question:
Lately, I have heard of Junior and Senior Assistant Referees. What is the difference? Is the center referee supposed to assign them these positions? Do they have any special responsibilities? Thank you very much for your response.

USSF answer (June 9, 2003):
At the professional level and perhaps in highly-organized adult soccer, the senior and junior assistant referees are designated as such by the assignor. In other competitions the distinction is either not made or the designation of senior assistant referee is made by the referee.

The significance of the terms varies with the competition. In some competitions, the fourth official official will take over if the referee cannot continue with the game. In other competitions, particularly those that do not assign fourth officials, the senior assistant referee will take over if the referee cannot continue. One feature of the senior AR that is standard for all competitions is that the senior takes the team bench side of the field.


YOUTH SUBSTITUTION RULES
Your question:
There has been a bit of a flap of late . . . about subs in U16-19 boys games. The question came up for me, too, as the assignor in the local state Snicker’s Cup finals, and the tournament’s decision was that subs were unlimited in the Snicker’s Cup competition regardless of the age group or gender.

Under the LOTG, a national association can set the rules for competition, and as such, they can mandate how many subs may be nominated, from 3 to 7. And, in “other matches” subs may be used if the teams reach agreement on how many, and the ref knows this before they start.

In the US, virtually all youth matches at the U16-19 level, whether boys or girls, and most, if not all, recreational adult leagues, use an unlimited sub format, at least they do everywhere I’ve been, and including my home state.  Under Law 3 a maximum of 7 subs are available, which is what USYSA has adopted by mandating in youth games rosters be cut off at 18, or at least that is my argument. But how do they get around the provisions of Law 3 which say a player who is substituted may not take further part in the match? Technically, the U16-19 boys, and all adult male recreational leagues who are not “veteran” footballers” have to do the limited sub routine. One could be a bit cynical and say the U16-19 boys and all adult male players under the age of 35 suffer from the disability of being young and male, which from the many games I’ve done at this level is not entirely preposterous, however, surely that is not what they meant?

It seems the states have adopted the practical view that it is impossible to have two standards of substitution within one sphere of competition, and so they extend the rule for the many to cover the few (the U16’s & up males). It is clearly stated in the [state] Rules of Competition that all age groups have unlimited subs, and the men’s league gets around it by not mentioning it at all, and the common practice has always been that subs are unlimited.  I guess you would tell me the intelligent referee will go with the flow here, as common sense would dictate?

But, if the referee in a U19 boys game allows unlimited subs as per local practice, and an appeal of the game is made by a team who had only 14 players, one of whom was never used, the two who came out never went back in, and assume it is appealed all the way to national, what will be the most likely decision on this issue? Did the referee commit an error of misapplication of the LOTG? If so, does it require the replay of the game? Is the referee in any danger from a litigation standpoint if s/he did not enforce the letter of the Law, both from a liability stand point, and from the view of USSF, who must defend him/her?

The issue is one that comes up over and over in clinics, and it has been difficult to give a definitive answer, given the black and white print in our flexible little book. Can you provide me with some help here?

USSF answer (June 9, 2003):
According to the most recent USYSA policy on players and playing rules,
QUOTE
Rule 301. RULES OF PLAY

Section 1. Except as provided by USYSA or its State Associations, the FIFA ³Laws of the Game² apply to all competitions sponsored by USYSA. Players under 10 years of age may play soccer in accordance with the rules of USYSA¹s Development Player Program‹Modified Playing Rules for Under 10, Under 8, and Under 6.

//snip//

Rule 302. SUBSTITUTIONS

Section 1. Except as provided by USYSA or its State Associations, substitutions shall be unlimited except where specified otherwise in the rules and regulations for a special competition.

Section 2. Substitutions may be made, with the consent of the referee, at any stoppage in play. END OF QUOTE

Some special competitions do run slightly different rules, as provided in the policy manual. For specifics on local competitions, consult with the competition authority. Following the rules of the competition will rarely get the referee in trouble.


FAILURE TO RESPECT THE REQUIRED DISTANCE
Your question:
I have a question regarding free kicks near the penalty box. If a wall is set up 10 yards away from the ball, and then the ball is kicked and the wall jumps forward, is it encroachment??? Some local officials think it is, some don’t. There has been some discrepency in our area. E-mail me back with the answer of if it is encroachment or not; and if it is, is it a yellow card???

USSF answer (June 5, 2003):
There is no such thing as “encroachment” under the Laws of the Game. If an opposing player moves too close to the ball before it has been kicked, he has failed to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick or free kick, a cautionable offense — if the referee believes it to have been such.

In the scenario you present, the opposing players did not move toward the ball until it had been kicked, so they have not infringed on the Law. No offense.


WITH WILD ABANDON
Your question:
Is a rule about abandonment of a game listed in the ‘Laws of the Game’ booklet? What is the rule that applies if one team abandons a game that is underway?

USSF answer (June 5, 2003):
According to Law 5, the Referee may stop, suspend or terminate the match, at his discretion, for any infringements of the Laws or because of outside interference of any kind.

A team has no right or authority to abandon a game. If a team refuses to take the field after a stoppage (e. g., the midgame break) or if enough players apparently deliberately remove themselves from the field that the number of players drops below the minimum (7), the intelligent referee will first attempt to determine and (if possible) correct the cause. If this action is unsuccessful, the referee must declare the match abandoned. Full details of the circumstances must be included in the match report.


JUST WRITE UP THE REPORT — NO EDITORIALIZING
Your question:
Referee report is reporting three send-offs for “violent conduct”. Besides the sanctions imposed for mandatory dismissal for next “same” game, and the only thing written on report is : striking and opponent. All 3 players fists involved. Ball not in play. Striking after foul.

Question …. should here be a separate referee report for each player involved?

Question #2.. should there be anytihng in a report that would indicate that more than one, or two, game suspension be imposed?

USSF answer (June 5, 2003):
There should be a separate write-up for each send-off/red card for violent conduct. There is no call for the referee to make any comments recommending the length of the suspension. The severity of the incident should be made clear in the individual write-ups, rather than through editorial comment.

Any punishment for a caution beyond the game in which it occurs is up to the competition authority to decide. Any punishment for a red card beyond the game in which it occurs and suspension from the team’s next match is up to the competition authority to decide. The referee should stick to the formal reason for the card (yellow or red), plus any additional FACTS which indicate why this particular reason is appropriate.

A referee could, if appropriate, provide supporting facts to indicate that a card was given to the wrong player, but even this must be decided by the competition authority.


OWN GOALS
Your question:
In our Grade 8 training class the instructor said several times that “you can’t score against yourself.” Does this mean that if the defending team, while trying to defend their goal, accidently kicks the ball into their own goal I restart with a corner kick?

USSF answer (June 5, 2003):
Your instructor was referring to those instances in which play is being restarted. The Laws of the Game do not allow a team to score against itself directly from any restart (goal kick, corner kick, throw-in, and so forth). “Directly” means that no one on either team has touched the ball between the restart and the ball entering the goal. A team can score against itself, called an “own goal,” during any time that the ball is in play and from any sequence following the next touch after a throw-in or indirect free kick.


THREE DIFFERENT PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW . . .
Your question:
1. I would like you to tell me what FIFA will do in this game incident: In Our Soccer League ATLETICO is playing COBRAS in a Championship match.

Team atletico scores early in the first half and the score stays 1-0 at the end of the half.

starting the second half COBRAS have 12 players in the field and the Referee and AR’s did not notice it games goes on and COBRAS scores the tying Goal in the 8th min. game restarts and in the 10 min. a Fan notices that Cobras is playing with 12 players and talks to the AR who brings it to the attention of the center referee, he cautions w/ a Yellow card to the extra player and game continues at 83 min. COBRAS scores again making it 2-1 and stays like that until the end of the game. Now ATLETICO Protests to the League in the Basis that the tying goal should have been disallowed because the other team had 12 players at time of scoring. What FIFA would do? take it to the Appeals Board and let them decide about Replaying the whole game with score 1-1?, or replay 10 min with the score 1-1 or 2-1 ? what this League should do?

2. I have a question regarding having too many players on the field. In my game this past weekend, the other team began the second half with 12 players, without the ref or linesmen spotting this infringement. it was about 15 minutes into the half when the other team scored a crucial ting goal. It was at this time that a spectator informed our team that the other team had been playing with 12 players since the beginning of the second half. We then pointed this out to the ref, and as he was counting the players on the other team, one player ran off the field to their bench. The ref then cautioned the coach of the other team for playing with 12 players, but did not take away the goal that was scored.

I looked in the FIFA Laws of the Game, and didn’t see anything really like this situation. It seems clear cut that if a team commits a foul, or some type of infringement such as offsides, and then scores, the goal should be withdrawn. What would you say to this?

3. i have a little inquiry about the officiating of a game i was in this weekend. it happen to be a semifinal game for the ‘copa tecate cup.’ the game was 1-1 at half time and the opposing team had 12 players on the pitch. this wasn’t noticed until after they scored to make it 2-1. when someone brought it to the refs attention he simply gave them a yellow card and the game resumed. my question is what is the official procedure for a ref to my scenario. does my team have a case in pleading for a replay (rematch). please let me know the proper rules and how it should be handled.

USSF answer (June 5, 2003):
If the referee had already restarted the game after the goal was scored, then there is nothing the referee can do about it. If the referee had noticed that there were too many players before restarting, then the goal would have been taken away. Naturally we are concerned that the referees and assistant referees did not notice the extra player, as they are expected to count players all the time, just to be safe.

In any event, the referee’s action in cautioning the coach was incorrect and not in accordance with the Law. The proper action would be to caution the 12th player (assuming this person could be identified). The referee must submit complete details in his match report.

And FIFA would do nothing other than this if they were dealing with the game.


DECEPTION BY THE TEAM WITH THE BALL
Your question:
I was refereeing at a tournament and was a center for an U12 match. I awarded a direct kick about 20-25 yds out to team A. Team A then asks for ten yards, I instruct Team A to wait for my whistle before restarting. I count off the ten yards, take position, and blow my whistle. Team A then has player 1 straddle the ball as if to tie his shoe and says aloud, “Wait, I have to tie my shoe”. While straddling the ball, player 2, who was standing next to the ball, proceeds to tap the ball to player 3 who one times it into the goal. I awarded the goal. My thinking was, I blew the whistle ball, the ball was in play, regardless if player 1 had said anything at all. Team B argued that Team A (player 1) had asked for time to tie his shoe. My reply was, I blew the whistle to initiate play, plus I never acknowledged the player wanting to tie his shoe. Was I right in awarding the goal, or as I overheard (from a coach from the same club) later refereeing another game that I should have awarded a indirect free kick to Team B because of unsportsman like behavior?

USSF answer (June 3, 2003):
Your response to the situation was correct. Just to benefit other referees (and players and coaches, who also read this material), here is some reading material from an answer of April 2002:

BEGIN QUOTES FROM ANSWER OF APRIL 2002

QUOTE
General Note Regarding Restarts
“Memorandum 1997” discussed amendments to the Laws of the Game affecting all free kick, corner kick, penalty kick, and kick-off restarts. These amendments centered on the elimination of the ball moving the “distance of its circumference” before being considered in play. In all such cases, the ball is now in play when it is “kicked and moves” (free kicks and corner kicks) or when it is “kicked and moves forward” (kick-offs and penalty kicks). IFAB has emphasized that only minimal movement is needed to meet this requirement. USSF Advice to Referees: further clarification from IFAB suggests that, particularly in the case of free kicks and corner kicks, such minimal movement might include merely touching the ball with the foot. Referees are reminded that they must observe carefully the placing of the ball and, when it is properly located, any subsequent touch of the ball with the foot is sufficient to put the ball into play. Referees must distinguish between such touching of the ball to direct it to the proper location for the restart and kicking the ball to perform the restart itself. In situations where the ball must move forward before it is in play (kick-offs and penalty kicks), there should be less difficulty in applying the new language since such kicks have a specific location which is easily identified.
END OF QUOTE

It is not the referee’s responsibility to ensure that the opposing team is prepared for any restart. That is their job. The referee’s job is to ensure that the Laws of the Game are enforced. However a cautionary comment is probably in order here: The referee must be wary of being dragged into any otherwise legal deception practiced by the team with the ball. In this situation, the referee (you) may have contributed to the success of the kicking team’s plot by not acknowledging the request and delaying the restart until the player tying his shoe was finished. The defenders were possibly lulled by the direct request and the reasonable expectation that the referee (you) would grant that request.

What you are questioning is not “trickery” by the kicking team; it is deception, which is allowed by the Laws. Here is an article that appeared a short while ago in our USSF referee magazine, Fair Play:

QUOTE
Affecting Play
Jim Allen, National Instructor Trainer

Using “devious” means to affect the way play runs can be perfectly legal. The referee must recognize and differentiate between the “right” and “wrong” ways of affecting play, so that he or she does not interfere with the players¹ right to use legitimate feints or ruses in their game. The desire to score a goal and win the game often produces tactical maneuvers, ploys, and feints designed to deceive the opponent. These can occur either while the ball is in play or at restarts. Those tactics used in restarts are just as acceptable as they would be in the normal course of play, provided there is no action that qualifies as unsporting behavior or any other form of misconduct. The team with the ball is allowed more latitude than its opponents because this is accepted practice throughout the world, and referees must respect that latitude when managing the game. Play can be affected in three ways and each will probably occur in any normal game. In descending order of acceptability under the Laws of the Game, they are: influence, gamesmanship, and misconduct.

To “influence” means to affect or alter the way the opponents play by indirect or intangible means. “Gamesmanship” is the art or practice of winning a game through acts of doubtful propriety, such as distracting an opponent without technically violating the Laws of the Game. However, the referee must be very careful, for while the act may be within the Letter of the Law, it may well fall outside the Spirit of the Law. “Misconduct” is blatant cheating or intentional wrongdoing through a deliberate violation of the Laws of the Game. Many referees confuse perfectly legitimate methods of affecting play through influence with certain aspects of gamesmanship and misconduct. Influence can cause problems for some referees at restarts. The ball is in play on free kicks and corner kicks as soon as it has been kicked and moves, and on kick-offs and penalty kicks as soon as it is kicked and moves forward. The key for most referees seems to be the requirement that the ball must “move.” The IFAB has directed that referees interpret this requirement liberally, so that only minimal movement is necessary. This minimal movement has been defined as the kicker possibly merely touching the ball with the foot. All referees must observe carefully the placing of the ball for the kick and distinguish between moving the ball with the foot to put it in the proper location and actually kicking the ball to restart the game. Please note: Feinting at a penalty kick may be considered by the referee to be unsporting behavior, but verbal or physical feinting by the kicking team at free kicks or in dynamic play is not. (See below.)

Influencing play is perfectly acceptable. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) have consistently ruled in favor of the use of guile by the attacking team to influence play and against the use of timewasting tactics and deceitful acts by the defending team. The IFAB and FIFA are so concerned over the failure of referees to deal with timewasting tactics that they send annual reminders noting that referees must deal with time wasting in all its forms. IFAB has also consistently ruled that the practice of forming a defensive wall or any other interference by the defending team at free kicks is counter to the Spirit of the Game, and has issued two associated rulings that the kicking team may influence (through the use of feinting tactics) and confuse the opponents when taking free kicks. The IFAB reinforced its renunciation of defensive tactics by allowing the referee to caution any opposing players who do not maintain the required distance at free kicks as a result of the feinting tactics, which can include members of the kicking team jumping over the ball to confuse and deceive the opponents legally. (See the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, November 1990, Law XIII, Q&A 7 and 8.) The related practice of touching the ball at a free kick or corner kick just enough to put it in play and then attempting to confuse the opponents by telling a teammate to come and take the kick is also accepted practice.

Gamesmanship, by its very name, suggests that the player is bending the rules of the game to his benefit. However, while he is not breaking the letter of the laws that cover play, he may be violating the Spirit of the Laws. Indeed, acts of gamesmanship in soccer can range from being entirely within the letter of the Law to quite illegal. Examples of legal gamesmanship are a team constantly kicking the ball out of play or a player constantly placing himself in an offside position deliberately, looking for the ball from his teammates so that the referee must blow the whistle and stop and restart the game. These acts are not against the Letter of the Laws, and players who commit them cannot be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. Referees can take steps against most aspects of this legal time wasting only by adding time. Remember that only the referee knows how much time has been lost, and he is empowered by Law 7 to add as much time as necessary to ensure equality. Acts of illegal gamesmanship fall under misconduct (see below). Examples: a player deliberately taking the ball for a throw-in or free kick to the wrong spot, expecting the referee to redirect him; a coach whose team is leading in the game coming onto the field to “attend” to a downed player; simulating a foul or feigning an injury. Misconduct is a deliberate and illegal act aimed at preventing the opposing team from accomplishing its goals. Misconduct can be split into two categories of offenses: those which merit a caution (including the illegal forms of time wasting) and those which merit a sending-off. While the attacking team may use verbal feints to confuse the defensive wall or may “call” for the ball without actually wanting it, simply to deceive their opponents, the other team may not use verbal feints to its opponents and then steal the ball from them, e.g., a defender calling out an opponent¹s name to entice him into passing the ball to him. Full details on the categories of misconduct and their punishment can be found in the U. S. Soccer Federation (USSF) publication “7 + 7” and on the USSF Referee Homepage [at the URL given there].

Look at these methods of affecting play as escalating in severity from the legal act of influencing to gamesmanship, which can range from legal to illegal, to misconduct, which is entirely illegal. Each of these methods will be used by players in any normal game of soccer to gain an advantage for their team. Referees must know the difference between them, so that they can deal with what should be punished and not interfere in an act that is not truly an infringement of the Laws. Thorough knowledge of the Laws of the Game, the Additional Instructions on the Laws of the Game, the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, the USSF Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game, and position papers and memoranda from the National Referee Development Program can help the referee make the correct decision in every case.
END OF QUOTE

These principles apply at all levels of the game.
END QUOTES FROM ANSWER OF APRIL 2002

And, in any event, even were the referee to say that cautionable misconduct occurred, the restart (after the card) would be the original free kick, not an indirect free kick new restart because, by definition, the misconduct occurred during a stoppage of play. The most the referee could do here, under appropriate circumstances, is to decide that the ploy was in fact a delay of the restart of play.


SPIKING THE BALL/OFFENSIVE, INSULTING OR ABUSIVE LANGUAGE OR GESTURES
Your question:
Question #1:
Why is illegal to “spike” the ball on a throwing? A player in a game yesterday threw the ball in, with two hands, over her head, and had two feet on the ground. The ball landed 2 yards in front of her with a fairly high bounce so the AR ruled it a bad throw for “spiking” the ball on a throw in.

Question #2:
Subsequently to being called for the bad throw in this player used foul and abusive language…not directed at the AR but just in general at the call itself. Is this a yellow card or red card offense?

USSF answer (June 3, 2003):
1. Even if a throw-in may have met the literal requirements of Law 15, it is commonly accepted throughout the world that a throw-in “spiked” into the ground is not legal.
2. The use of offensive, insulting, or abusive language (or gestures) is punished by send-off and red card. However, the referee might decide to caution for the language if it doesn’t fit into one of those categories but it is instead unsporting behavior (bringing the game into disrepute) or was committed to express dissent with an official’s decision.


CHARGING FOR THE BALL
Your question:
I recently centered a U-13 Girls game. One of the defenders displayed text book form in her shoulder charges throughout the game. Hands at her side, shoulder to shoulder with other player to drive her off the ball. But, she never made any simultaneous attempt to using her feet to win the ball from the player in possession. Only after she had completely driven the player off did she then collect the ball. The sidelines were screaming for push fouls all game, but there was no violent conduct involved. Perfect form, arms in, constant pressure shoulder to shoulder, but no pushing or hip checking. The only thing that struck me as odd was that she did not go after the ball until the other player was completely driven off. There were one or two occasions where a teammate of the shoulder charging player was able to come in and collect the ball. In all cases, I saw nothing that warranted a foul or impedance call. Did I miss something?

USSF answer (June 3, 2003):
A player charging “for the ball” need not _play_ the ball at all, but she must be challenging for the ball. Please make the distinction necessary to apply the Law correctly.

“Impedance”? Surely you do not mean that you were concerned about electrical charges, rather than soccer charges.


UNUSUAL SUBSTITUTION RULES/TEMPORARY EXPULSION
Your question:
I have a couple of questions regarding the type of allowable (or anticipated) modification to the LOTG regarding youth players and substitutions.

The following rule applies to U7-12 ages in a local (affiliated) league:
1. Substitution shall be limited to a maximum of three players per substitution.
2. Players who have been substituted for may re-enter the game.
3. Substitution is not allowed for players ejected from the game.
4. Substitution can be made without the consent of the referee under the following circumstances:
A. The player being substituted for must have left the field of play at the touchline directly in front of his team’s technical area.
B. Each player must identify whom he or she is substituting for. (High five, hand shake, or hug)

Failure to follow the above procedures could result in referee awarding a five-minute penalty against the offending team. (Play short)

I don’t have any issues with items 1-3, however, number 4 seems to raise some issues (besides the practical effect of turning substitution into the system often seen in indoor soccer).

1. Can such a modification which removes the referee’s authority over the making of substitutions be made under FIFA/IFAB/USSF rules?
2. Can a modification which requires a team to play short for an infraction of a modified rule be made under FIFA/IFAB/USSF rules? USSF answer (June 3, 2003):
1. Subject to the agreement of the national association concerned and provided the principles of the Laws are maintained, the Laws may be modified in their application for matches for players of under 16 years of age, for women footballers, for veteran footballers (over 35 years) and for players with disabilities. Substitution is among the areas of the Laws that may be modified. While the Federation probably would not approve items 1 or 4 of the list, there is little that can be done to police it. Referees do have the option of not working in competitions that use rules contrary to the Laws of the Game.
2. The International F. A. Board has reaffirmed for 2003 its instructions that no rules permitting temporary expulsion (being forced to play short for an infringement of the Laws) may be used. Here is an excerpt from USSF Memorandum 2003:
TEMPORARY EXPULSIONS
The Board re-affirmed the decision taken at its last meeting that the temporary expulsion of players is not permitted at any level of football. USSF Advice to Referees: This instruction, which was first discussed in Memorandum 2002, is not subject to implementation by the referee: it is a matter for the competition authority. ³Temporary expulsion² in this context refers to a rule purporting to require that a player leave the field temporarily under certain conditions (e.g., having received a caution ­ a so-called ³cooling off² period) and does not include situations in which a player must correct illegal equipment or bleeding.


“INTENT” VERSUS RESULT
Your question:
I recently overhead two referees discussing this incident which actually occurred in a game:
During an attack on goal, the ball popped into the air. The defender backpedaled while attempting to play the ball with his head. His legs got tangled with each other and he fell over, banging into the attacker, knocking him down, in the penalty area, while he was attempting a shot on goal. The Center Referee made no call stating that there was no intent on the part of the defender to foul the attacker. I was dumbfounded when I heard this! In interviewing many other experienced referees, I found that at least half of those I spoke to shared this view.

Is this “intent” clause a way for referees to duck out of making tough calls? I thought a foul had to be “careless, reckless…” but not necessarily intentional. Do we have to assess the payer’s intent now before making a call? Please shed some light on this.

USSF answer (June 2, 2003):
Let there be light! Despite the fact that we referees are no longer required to judge “intent” in an act by one player against another, but to judge the result of the act instead, we are allowed to distinguish between an act that is accidental and one that is deliberate.

In the case you cite, of a player stumbling and colliding with an opponent, we would judge the act to be careless, reckless, or involving the use of excessive force — and thus a foul — only if the player had already begun to trip (or attempt to trip), push, kick (or attempt to kick), strike (or attempt to strike), jump at or charge his opponent. If the player was still merely pursuing the opponent and happened to stumble and fall, colliding with the opponent on the way down, there has been no foul, as the act was simply accidental or inadvertent.

Referees who call such acts fouls are doing a disservice to the game and to other referees. These are cases where the referee simply calls out “No foul” — or something similar; anything other than “Play on” or “Advantage” — because there has been no foul.


ODD-SIZED GOAL POSTS
Your question:
If a goal post is smaller in dimension front-to-back than the goal line, does the front of the goal post go to the front edge (field side) of the goal line, outside edge (out-of-touch side) or split the difference and go within the goal line?

Example: Our U-10 size goal posts are 4″ wide but only 2″ deep. Goal line is sprayed 4″ wide. Where is the front edge (or back edge) of the post located?

The USSF 2002-2003 Law Book, Law #1 states: The goal post must be in the center of the goal line.

My Grade 8 USSF referee instructor said the front edge of the goal post must be on the front edge of the goal line.

My association’s three senior referees (over 10-20 years of experience each) states the back edge of the post must be on the outside edge of the goal line. Please give me an “official” answer.

USSF answer (June 2, 2003):
You and your association’s three senior referees may well be astounded to learn that the goalposts used in your example do not conform to the Laws of the Game and should not be used in any competitive match. Law 1 tells us: “Both goalposts and the crossbar have the same width and depth which do not exceed 12 cm (5 ins). The goal lines are the same width as that of the goalposts and the crossbar.” That means that a four-inch wide goal line requires a goalposts that are both four inches wide and four inches thick.

However, if there is no alternative to the goals available for the game, then the goals should be so aligned that the back or outside edge of the goal post is at the outer edge of the goal line, thus allowing the referee and assistant referee to determine more precisely whether or not a goal has been scored.


GOALKEEPER MOVES ON PENALTY KICK OR KICK FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
Isn’t there a rule that says the GK can’t move forward prior to the ball being kicked in PK’s? Both goalie’s, but especially AC Milan’s GK, were jumping way off their line as soon as the whistle was blown, and not only did the ref’s not call it, but no one said anything about it. There was one goal where the keeper took literally four steps off the line before the ball was kicked.  Am I misunderstanding the rule? or is it just not enforced at the higher levels of soccer?

A friend of mine was in a tournament and had three of the five shots called back to retake for this infraction, but professionals can get away with it. What’s the deal?

USSF answer (June 2, 2003):
This is an excellent time to point out a change in the Laws of the Game, specifically the Additional Instructions for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials, effective 1 July 2003. Although the change affects only competitions that begin on or after 1 July 2003, the information is valid at this very moment. The following is a quote from the USSF Memorandum 2003 (which may be downloaded from this site):

The Penalty Kick It is an infringement to enter the penalty area before the kick has been taken. The goalkeeper also infringes the Laws if he moves from his goal-line before the ball has been kicked. Referees must ensure that when players infringe this Law appropriate action is taken.
Reason:
Law 14 was amended in 1997, taking away the necessity for referees to caution when player(s) entered the penalty area prior to the penalty kick being taken. The amendment also allowed the goalkeeper to move along his goal line. Nowadays, infringements often occur at a penalty kick, yet the referee seldom takes action.
USSF Advice to Referees: The reference to ³enter the penalty area before the kick has been taken² includes players moving closer than ten yards to the ball (i.e., entering the penalty arc) and moving closer to the goal line than the ball (i.e., moving closer to the goal line than twelve yards). Referees must also ensure that the goalkeeper does not move off the goal line before the ball is in play. However, although the International Board emphasized the need for referees to take appropriate actions when players violate the requirements of Law 14, referees must continue to differentiate between those violations which clearly had an impact on subsequent play and those trifling violations which clearly had no impact.


LEARN TO COPE!
Your question:
I want to know what to do if a parent keeps bothering you and the ref does nothing about it.

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
Close your ears and get on with the job — and at the next stoppage get the referee’s full attention and remind him or her of the referee’s obligation to protect the entire officiating team. If the referee takes no action at that time, the best you can do is to continue working and then submit a full report to the appropriate authorities after the game.


WHAT AGE FOR PUNISHING OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY DENIED?
Your question:
In your opinion at what age level or skill level should a ref start applying the LOTG pertaining to GSO? I know your always apply the LOTG but you know what I mean.

Example: Two of the games I did during a tourney were U10 and U8. In both games there was an incident where attacker gets around last fullback starting 1 on 1 with goalie when fulback pushes player in the back and they fall.

I was told by a high up ref in our state that at U6 there is no GSO. What about at U10? I did the final game and had a similar situation except IMHO, there were some defenders that could have caught up with the attacker and at least blocked the shot, so no GSO. But what if no one could have caught the player. Is it a GSO or not? I usually do U12 or U14 and I know there are a lot of GSO and a few DGSO’s.

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
If a player denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity, no matter what the age or skill level, the Law must be followed. The intelligent referee will remember that these events occur only if they are, in the referee’s opinion, actual denials of goals or obvious goalscoring opportunities.

There is also the problem that you are mixing several age groups. At the U-6 level, it would be rare for any referee ever to call an obvious goalscoring opportunity, because, at that level, they aren’t generally even supposed to be keeping score (no goal … no OGSO). Soccer below the U-10 level is not what is contemplated by the Laws, so the intelligent referee would do well to think of it as more or less organized exercise. U10 and above, go with the Law.


INJURED PLAYER CHANGE BEFORE THE GAME AT PRO LEVEL
Your question:
In the professional “A League” match, a coach submitted his teams roster for that game. While the teams were warming up before the game a named starter was injured and would not be able to play in that game. The coach approached the referee crew to ask if he could move a sub to the starting 11 and put another name on the roster as a substitute.

The referee crew allowed the coach to remove the starters name from the roster and move a named sub to the starting 11. However we did not allow the coach to add another sub to his roster. Therefore he only had 6 possible subs to choose from instead of 7 for the 5 subs he is allowed during the match.

My question is where can we find the written rule or memorandum that explains this type of situation?

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
The same principle expressed in the MLS handbook for referees, Section 11.2.3 (A) “Pregame Injury, Illness or Dismissal,” should apply to any professional game:
“After the exchange of the Official Game Rosters, Roster changes by either head coach shall be made only in case of injury, illness or dismissal during the warm-up period. A player who is removed from the official starting lineup shall not be eligible for substitution into the Game, with the exception of the Goalkeeper. However, an eligible Active Roster Player may be added to the Official Game Roster to replace an injured or ill Player, not a dismissed player. A starting player’s vacant Roster position may only be filled by a current, named substitute from the Official Game Roster. The replacement player can only be added to the list of eligible substitutions, not as a starting Player. Any Player dismissed prior to the Game is not eligible and may not be replaced on the Roster (a named substitute may fill the roster position of a starting Player who has been dismissed).

“No changes or additions to the Official Game Roster may occur once the Teams exit the locker rooms for Pre-Game introductions when the Game Roster becomes frozen and final.”


NO GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY ON INDIRECT FREE KICK
Your question:
Indirect free kick about 20 yards out. A wall is set up with a defender on both posts. The attacker kicks is directly to the goal knowing it is a IDF, the defender on the near post it’s clearing going in but foolishly knocks tha ball over the cross bar. Since this is a IDF should the restart be… Yellow card corner kick, or penalty kick?

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
There can be no goalscoring opportunity on an indirect free kick, so the correct answer depends on what you mean by “knocks the ball.” If you mean the player “knocked” the ball with his hand, then the correct answer is caution/yellow card for unsporting behavior, with a penalty kick restart. If you mean the player “knocked” the ball with some part of the head, torso, or legs/feet, then the answer is corner kick.


RETAKING A KICK FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
Recently, in a U17 game that came down to a penalty shootout, a player stepped up to take her shot, which was saved by the opposing keeper. However, the referee allowed the shooter to re-take her shot, which resulted in a goal. Under what circumstances can the referee allow the shooter to re-take his/her shot in a penalty shootout?

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
Given your scenario, there are only two reasons to retake the kick from the penalty mark. If the referee gives the signal for a kick to be taken and, before the ball is in play, one of the following situations occurs:
The goalkeeper infringes the Laws of the Game:
– the referee allows the kick to proceed
– if the ball enters the goal, a goal is awarded
– if the ball does not enter the goal, the kick is retaken

A player of both the defending team — including the goalkeeper — and the attacking team — including the kicker — infringe the Laws of the Game: – the kick is retaken

There are other reasons to retake penalty kicks, and these might apply to kicks from the penalty mark, but they do not apply to your scenario.


THE “V8” CLAUSE
Your question:
Law 16 states that the ball must be kicked beyond the penalty area. No dispute. But in a recent adult match, the ball was kicked to a defender, who touched the ball with his foot while the ball was still on the PA line. No attacking player was within 20 yards. The CR whistled it, and ordered the kick to be retaken. While this is technically correct, isn’t it trifling? Since it had no impact on the game, wouldn’t the CR have been wiser to simply ignore it and allow play to continue, since the restart is simply a retake of the kick? If it were a youth match, I might view it differently, but no one gained any advantage, and it was not an attempt to circumvent the LOTG.

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
Trifling is in the eye of the only beholder who counts, the referee.


STEPPING DOWN ON THE BALL DOES NOT COUNT AS KICKING
Your question:
A ball is placed inside a corner arc in preparation for a corner kick. Player A taps the top of ball with the sole of her shoe and then runs away. Player B (on the same team) then runs over to the ball and dribbles it out of the corner arc.

Law 17 (and 13 as well) says that “the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves”. The coach who has taught this play believes the ball is “kicked” (with the sole of the shoe) and that the ball “moves” (it just happens to move downward). Others believes that this type of “kick” violates the spirit of the Law.

FIFA’s Q&A Law 13, Question #5 indicates that a free kick may be taken by lifting the ball. Is a ball that is “tapped” (i. e., pushed down) considered “kicked” and “moves”?

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
While the referee should strive to be as accommodating as possible regarding the “moves” requirement on free kicks, a simple push downward with the sole of the shoe would probably not qualify as a kick at the ball.


INDICATING NON-PARTICIPATION IN AN OFFSIDE SITUATION
Your question:
The situation is as follows: the blue team has pulled all of their defenders up so that they are straddling the halfway line. A red attacker [red-1] is about ten yards closer to the blue goal [in an offside position]. A red player plays the ball toward red-1. Red-1 stands as though he could play the ball but instead allows Red-2 [who was not in offside position] to run onto the ball and play it. The questions: (1) Should the assistant raise his/her flag signalling an offside; and, (2) Should the referee blow his whistle and stop play for an offside offense.

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
This is an old and time-honored (and legal) tactic to beat the offside trap — provided that the player in the offside position clearly signals his non-participation in the play by standing at attention or turning his back to play.

Just to make it clear: No, the assistant referee should not flag and, no, the referee should not blow his whistle. And the player’s action must be clear and definitive to avoid the offside decision.


HANDLING AND THE SHOULDER
Your question:
The scenario: A ball is cleared by the defense into the air and over midfield. The attacking team player is in position to recieve the ball, but instead of heading it, decides instead to hit it with his shoulder, which he clearly “shrugs” in an effort to propel the ball forward and to the side to space so he can play it. I stopped play for deliberate handling in this case. Of course, the player was flabergasted that he used his shoulder and that’s not handling. I assured him shoulder use was, in fact, handling. I know that the rules state that use of the outside of the shoulder constitute handling, but does use of the top of the shoulder constitute likewise (this is the area that was used by this player)? I was pretty confident when I made the call, but as I have mulled it over since, I am not as sure as I thought.

USSF answer (May 29, 2003):
For purposes of determining deliberate handling of the ball, the “hand” is considered to be any part of the arm-hand from fingertip to shoulder. Using the top of the shoulder is not considered as using the hand.

NOTE: This represents a change to the information in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” section 12.11, which will be reworded to reflect this change in the next edition.


SWITCHING THE GOALKEEPER WITH A FIELD PLAYER
Your question:
A referee has called for a penalty kick, can the coach switch the goalie with another player already on the field?

As an example, we were late in a game where we were winning 2-1, and we only had 11 players so our normal goalie had been rotated out onto the field as sweeper, to give the girls a break. Then we had a player commit a foul within the box. The referee correctly called for the penalty kick, then I asked if I could sub the goalie. I was told no. The other team kicked the penalty kick which went over the net, then the referee said the kick had occurred without the proper start signal, so the kick was retaken. Is this also correct? The game was tied on the 2nd penalty kick, the game lasted 1 more minute.

USSF answer (May 29, 2003):
Why doesn’t someone with good experiences with a referee ask questions?

In the first case, the referee did indeed screw up. A field player may exchange places with the goalkeeper at any stoppage in play, provided the referee is informed before the change is made. This does not count as a substitution, so your terminology may have confused the referee.

In the second case, the referee was correct. A penalty kick must be retaken if a player kicks before the referee has given the signal to kick.

Let us add that someone may have been confused by rule differences. Under the Laws of the Game, of course, the goalkeeper could be substituted in accordance with Law 3 because it was a stoppage (assuming the team had a substitution left). In high school rules, this would not be permitted unless the goalkeeper were injured or otherwise required to leave the field (high school rules do not differ from the Laws of the Game on the question of swapping a field player and the goalkeeper).


TWO BALLS ON THE FIELD
Your question:
At a recent youth tournament, with a number of fields side by side, a ball from one game is kicked onto a nearby field in the vicinity of the penalty area, in the midst of active play and near that game’s own ball. A player on this field, mistaking the rogue ball for that game’s ball strikes it and it hits the goal tender knocking him down briefly. While he is down a goal is scored with the legitimate ball. The goal was counted. Was that the proper call, and if not what should have been done, and why?

USSF answer (May 29, 2003):
No goal can be awarded. The intelligent referee will stop the game and restart with a dropped ball at the point where the original ball was when the second ball entered the field.


REFEREE ASSAULT
Your question:
Could you explain referee assault? Give examples? What is NOT referee assault? Is there a place that this is written? It is very controversial and many people – refs. and others – think that just touching the referee accidentally is a red card. Are there red card and yellow card assault differences?

USSF answer (May 29, 2003):
The information given here applies to all games played under the aegis of the United States Federation other than those played within the realm of Professional League Member activities (which are dealt with under a separate policy number). Full details may be found in Policy 531-9, Misconduct Toward Game Officials (amended 7/20/01). This response does not cover either hearings or appeals. For details on those matters, consult Policy 531-9.

Definitions
The term ³referee² includes all currently registered USSF referees, as well as any non-licensed, non-registered person serving in an emergency capacity as a referee (under Rule 3040) and any club assistant referee.

Referee assault is an intentional act of physical violence at or upon a referee. In this response, ³intentional act² means an act intended to bring about a result which will invade the interests of another in a way that is socially unacceptable. Unintended consequences of the act are irrelevant.

Assault includes, but is not limited to the following acts committed upon a referee: hitting, kicking, punching, choking, spitting on, grabbing or bodily running into a referee; head butting; the act of kicking or throwing any object at a referee that could inflict injury; damaging the referee¹s uniform or personal property, i.e. car, equipment, etc.

Referee abuse is a verbal statement or physical act not resulting in bodily contact which implies or threatens physical harm to a referee or the referee¹s property or equipment.

Abuse includes, but is not limited to the following acts committed upon a referee: using foul or abusive language toward a referee; spewing any beverage on a referee¹s personal property; spitting at (but not on) the referee; or verbally threatening a referee.

Verbal threats are remarks that carry the implied or direct threat of physical harm. Such remarks as ³I¹ll get you after the game² or ³You won¹t get out of here in one piece² shall be deemed referee abuse.

Penalties and Suspensions
(A) Assault
(1) The player, coach, manager, or official committing the referee assault is automatically suspended as follows:
(a) for a minor or slight touching of the referee or the referee’s uniform or personal property, at least 3 months from the time of the assault;
(b) except as provided in clause (c) or (d), for any other assault, at least 6 months from the time of the assault;
(c) for an assault committed by an adult and the referee is 17 years of age or younger, at least 3 years; or
(d) for an assault when serious injuries are inflicted, at least 5 years.
(2) A State Association adjudicating the matter may not provide shorter period of suspension but, if circumstances warrant, may provide a longer period of suspension.
(B) Abuse
The minimum suspension period for referee abuse shall be at least three (3) scheduled matches within the rules of that competition. The State Association adjudicating the matter may provide a longer period of suspension when circumstances warrant (e.g., habitual offenders).

Procedure for Reporting Assault and Abuse
(A) Procedures for reporting of referee assault and/or abuse shall be developed and disseminated by the National Referee Committee to all Federation registered referees for use in their National State Association.
(B) Referees shall transmit a written report of the alleged assault or abuse, or both, within 48 hours of the incident (unless there is a valid reason for later reporting) to the designee of the State Association and the State Referee Administrator. For tournaments or special events, the referee shall transmit a written report to the tournament director on the day of the incident and to his home state SRA within 10 days of the incident.

Any instance of referee assault or abuse by a player or substitute is immediate grounds for dismissal/red card — and for a team official it is grounds for dismissal alone, as no card may be shown to a team official. In addition to the report of the assault, the referee must also include full details in the official match report.


MAY KICKING TEAM PLAYERS STAND IN FRONT OF THE WALL?
Your question:
Can you have a member of your team stand in between the kick-taker and the defensive wall. So for example the wall’s 10 yards away from the ball can one of your own players stand 5 yards away from the ball.

USSF answer (May 27, 2003):
Yes, a member of the kicking team may stand between the wall and the kicker. The only restriction on distance from the ball is on the opposing team, not the kicking team. The opposing team must remain ten yards away from the ball until it is in play.


COACH WANTS BETTER REFEREES
Your question:
Through the ten years I have been actively involved in youth soccer U-5 to U-15. I have also been playing for close to thirty years. It is obvious that most officials avoid calling dangerous play. High kicking, boot up tackling, sliding from behind, low heading and playing the ball on the ground are routinely encouraged by officials not controlling the game. I understand FIFA rules that the coaches are to coach teams not officials. However the number of negligent officials greatly outweigh the good and need to be corrected during the game. Until officials are held accountable for game management by the licensing authorities and graded on performance I feel that coaches must still instruct officials when players safety is in question.

An official in a U-9 game I had a few days ago would not leave the midfield line during the game. He was never in a position to align himself up with the last defender since the last defender on his side never approached the mid fields strip. At some point coaches need to assist officials who have a very small grasp on the game. If officials were trained to listen to corrective critisim rather that take “the dont talk to me I am a god mentality” the games would be played and officaited in a better manner. There is no place in youth sports for primadonnas Coach of Official.

USSF answer (May 27, 2003):
The coach who wants to see better officiating can do several things to help:
(1) Report both the good and the poor official to the State Referee Administrator and to the assignor for the competition. If you are consistent in your criticism, win or lose, and others contribute the same sort of consistent reporting, the refereeing should improve. Many assignors are very conscientious in trying to match officials with the most suitable games. Others are not and will assign any warm body to a game. That is something that can be addressed only within your state association — and it must be documented. Ranting without documentation gets nowhere.
(2) Obey the Laws of the Game and behave responsibly. This can prevent the players from becoming more excited about the referee than about playing the game as best they can. It will also help to prevent the parents from going over the top with their abuse of the referee. The coach has the right to speak to the referee only to exchange introductions at the beginning of the game. The coach has no right to offer any criticism to the official, whether directly or obliquely, in any form other than a written report to the appropriate authorities.
(3) Coach the players to play the game, not the referee. And set an example in this, as suggested in (2) above.
(4) Take a refereeing course and do a few games in the middle. Then come back and tell me how easy it is.


THE “V8” CLAUSE
Your question:
Advice to Referees, paragraph 14.10, requires that a penalty kick be retaken for infringement by the attacking or defending team (depending on the specific circumstance). However, it also advises referees to use judgement to disregard trifling or doubtful violations of this requirement.

Can you provide guidance on what constitutes trifling violations? Does the infringement alone, without impacting the shooter or the goalkeeper, constitute a violation?

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
Some very wise words that were once in the Laws of the Game, Law V, International Board Decision 8, familiarly known as the “V8” clause, instructed referees that “The Laws of the Game are intended to provide that games should be played with as little interference as possible, and in this view it is the duty of referees to penalize only deliberate breaches of the Law. Constant whistling for trifling and doubtful breaches produces bad feeling and loss of temper on the part of the players and spoils the pleasure of spectators.” These same words are preserved as an embodiment of the Spirit of the Game in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” section 5.5.

Trifling is trifling when the result of the action makes absolutely no difference to the game. Or, in other words, when the result is to get the ball back into play, the Law has been served and what comes after that is just part of the game.

Doubtful means it probably wasn’t a foul at all, but people reacted and started asking for the doubtful “foul” to be called.

The “severity” of the infringement is not the issue; the issue is what effect did it have. The intelligent referee’s action: If the infringement had no obvious effect on play, consider the infringement to have been trifling and let it go. If it was not trifling, punish it.

We cannot give a list of possible “trifling” violations of the Law. The referee need consider only this: Was there an offense? Could it have been called? Should it be called if, in the opinion of the referee, the infraction was doubtful or trifling? No.


RENDERING (PARA)MEDICAL ASSISTANCE
Your question:
I was wondering if, as a referee I could step in if there was a medical emergency. I thought before that I have heard that you are not supposed to at all, but it wasnt’t very clear. I was wondering if there is an USSF rule about that.

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
In this litigious society of ours, a referee who is not a licensed medical practitioner would be well advised to stay out of any medical emergency that occurs during the game that referee is working.

The situation is generally controlled by state law (sometimes called a “good Samaritan” law, but also laws that cover specific professions). In some states, you are expected to perform whatever emergency services you are trained/certified to do. An EMT who is also a referee must therefore take off his referee hat and put on his EMT hat if faced with a serious injury on the field. Otherwise, stay out of it and remember that there are other important referee things you could be doing while staying out of it.


COUNT THE ‘KEEPER TOO!
Your question:
What role does the keeper play in offsides? Are they considered one of the last two defenders? Or are they in addition to the last two defenders?

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
A good question, as far too many people ask it and it needs answering.

According to Law 11 (Offside), “a player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent.” Notice that the Law does not speak of defenders or goalkeepers, but of opponents. The opposing team is composed of the goalkeeper and ten other players, who may be defenders, midfielders, attackers, or whatever fancy name the coach happens to attach to a particular position — but they are all “opponents.” The goalkeeper is normally one of the last two opponents a player on the other team sees between himself and the opponents’ goal line, but the goalkeeper does not have to be one of the last two opponents. But, when he is one of the last two, he counts!


KEEP YOUR EARS AND YOUR MOUTH SHUT!
Your question:
I answered the desperate call in my community when they asked for referees last fall. I ref’d, and played, years ago but had gotten out of it. I moved to [another state] and thought it would be a great way to get exercise, make money, and help kids learn the game. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to continue to do this week after week, not because of players, but the coaches and spectators. They make it very difficult with the constant badgering, comments, and remarks directed at the referee. (Even the players tell them to be quite). The league that I primarily ref for has instituted a T.S.L. ( Team Sportsmanship Liaison) for each game, and the ref now fills out surveys on how each team, coach, and spectators conduct themselves during the match. But, nothing changes.

Before each game I meet with each coach and team and clearly explain the rules and how the game will be called, what I am looking for, etc.

I have no problem making coaches or spectators leave, but all that does is slow down the game, take away from the players time on the field, and raise my stress level. Do you have any suggestions, or have heard of other ways to control or minimize this action??

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
In most cases, the referee should work actively to tune out comments by the spectators, particularly at youth matches, most of whom know little about the game, but who want to “protect” their children. Why should the referee tune them out? Because the referee can do nothing about comments that do not bring the game into disrepute. If the referee fails to “tune out” the spectators, they will take over (psychological) control of the game and the referee is lost.

However, do not despair. The referee does possess a powerful tool with which to control spectators. The referee may stop, suspend or terminate the match because of outside interference of any kind. If no other recourse remains, the referee may inform the team that the match is suspended and may be terminated unless “that person over there” is removed from the area of field.

And here is some more practical advice: For most referees and particularly for referees who don’t have a lot of experience (we are talking many hundreds of games), it is generally not a good idea to assemble the masses — coach, team, etc. — and “clearly explain the rules and how the game will be called, what I am looking for, etc.” The Guide to Procedures indicates what must be done prior to the match and, aside from identifying oneself and providing a brief professional greeting to the coaches, nothing more is called for . . . and certainly not any extended disquisition on the Laws of the Game. The more the referee opens his mouth, the more hanging rope is provided to the coach (or anyone within hearing distance) that can be used against the referee later on — “But you SAID you were going to do . . .”!


REDUCE TO EQUATE
Your question:
During one of your responses this past posting, you talked about circumstances of unsporting behavior during the taking of a PK. It got me to considering the following scenario which I am baffled on.

What happens if a player taking the PK receives his second caution of the match for his unsporting behavior and is sent off (or commits some other foolish act to receive a straight send off I suppose)? Now, during the course of the match, this answer is simple, another player simply takes a kick since any player on the team may take a penalty kick for a foul during play. But what about the taking of kicks from the mark to determine a winner? In this case there is a previously determined order in the taking of kicks that must be followed. Who should replace the shooter in this case, and what happens to the kick order for the other team? It seems they must then reduce to the matching number of kickers, but in what way is this done?

I know it’s a fairly unlikely scenario, but it’s not often I come up with one that I am truly and completely stumpped on.

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
It’s time for a reminder to all referees about the memorandum put out June 11, 2002 regarding the principle of “reduce to equate.” Your answer lies within. We might also point out that there is no “predetermined order” for taking kicks from the penalty mark. The referee simply notes down the numbers of the players as they take their kicks. If a player is dismissed during the taking of kicks from the penalty mark, a player who has not shot during this round of kicks moves up. The other team does not have to reduce its numbers.

Where you strayed from the true path was in assuming (as, unfortunately, many referees do) that the coach must give the referee a list of five players who will start the procedure and that the players must kick in this order. No, no such list is required or given; no, no order is required (aside from the rule against kicking twice).

To: Chair, State Referee Committee
State Referee Administrators
State Directors of Referee Instruction
State Directors of Referee Assessment
National Referees
National Assessors
National Instructors
From: Alfred Kleinaitis
Manager of Referee Development and Education

Re: Kicks from the Penalty Mark
The “Reduce to Equate” Principle

Date: June 11, 2002

The Laws of the Game provide for the taking of kicks from the penalty mark as one way to decide which team will advance when, after regulation play and any extra periods of play required by the rules of competition are ended, the score remains tied.

The specific rules governing the match (³the rules of competition²) can differ in this regard. For example, FIFA requires up to two fifteen minute periods of play with the first goal ending the match.

The purpose of this position paper is to focus on one particular element of the taking of kicks which has recently been introduced and remains subject to some uncertainty ­ the ³reduce to equate² principle. Introduced into The Laws of the Game in 2001, the principle ensures that teams begin the procedure with the same number of players.

The following guidelines are to be used in implementing ³reduce to equate² in those matches for which the rules of competition mandate the taking of kicks from the penalty mark. ³Regulation play² includes any extra periods of play called for by the rules of competition. ³Kicks² will refer generally to the taking of kicks from the penalty mark.

– The kicks phase of the match begins at the moment regulation play ends (including any overtime periods of play.)

– A team might have fewer than eleven players eligible to participate at the end of regulation play due to injury or misconduct or because the team began the match with fewer players.

– The captain of the team with more players must identify which of its players will not participate if regulation play ends with the team at unequal sizes.

– ³Players eligible to participate² includes those players who are legally on the field at the end of regulation play, plus any other players off the field temporarily (e.g., to correct equipment, bleeding, or having an injury tended).

– Only the goalkeeper may be substituted in the case of injury during the kicks phase and only if the team has a substitution remaining from its permitted maximum.

– Once kicks begin (following any ³reduce to equate² adjustment), a player may become unable to participate due to injury or ineligible to participate due to misconduct.

– Under no circumstances will a team be required to ³reduce to equate² if the opposing team loses one or more players due to injury or misconduct occurring during the kicks phase of the match.

– Until a result is produced, both teams must continue to use their eligible players without duplication until all (including the goalkeeper) have kicked, at which time players who have already kicked may kick again. If one team has fewer players than the other, it will need to begin using again its players who have already kicked sooner than will the opposing team.


NO DUAL SYSTEM!
Your question:
I am an assignor for games U-10 through U-19 and am also a high school referee. In high school we use duals quite a bit and it is a great way to officiate a game when you only have two referees. In my assigning duties, I am often unable to find more than two officials for one of the youth games and I would like to be able to use the dual system, yet I know that FIFA strictly prohibits duals. Why can’t FIFA allow the use of dual referees in youth soccer? We have a chronic shortage of officials and this would one way to help ensure fair play.

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
The United States Soccer Federation does not recognize the two-man or dual system of control. Games played under the auspices of US Youth Soccer or US Soccer may be officiated only under the diagonal system of control, as provided for in the Laws of the Game. You can find the information you need in the Referee Administrative Handbook:

QUOTE
POLICY:

Systems of Officiating 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 national competitions sponsored by the U.S. Soccer Federation. require the use of this officiating system.

In order to comply with the Laws of the Game which have been adopted by the National Council, all soccer games sanctioned directly or indirectly by member organizations of the U. S. Soccer Federation must employ the diagonal system (three officials). As a matter of policy, the National Referee Committee prefers the following alternatives in order of preference:
1. One Federation referee and two Federation referees as assistant referees (the standard ALL organizations should strive to meet).
2. One Federation referee and two assistant referees, one of whom is a Federation referee and one of whom is a trainee of the local referee program.
3. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are both unrelated to either team participating in the game but are not Federation referees, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).
4. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are not both Federation referees and who are affiliated with the participating teams, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).

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 their competitions.
END OF QUOTE

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


OFFSIDE
Your question:
The goalie makes a save from a shot from a forward. He then punts the ball, it lands on the opposing teams side of the field, where there is a teamate in the offside position, he gets the ball and scores. The referee said that the player was not offside, is that the correct call? He is not offside on a goal kick, but not on a kick where the goalie made the save.

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
In this case, the referee was wrong. If a player is in an offside position and is actively involved in play by gaining an advantage from that position when his goalkeeper punts the ball to him, the player must be declared offside.


WHAT IS AN “ASSIST”?
Your question:
Please define an “assist.”

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
Assists are those plays of the ball which contributed to the scoring of a goal. Their type and number are determined by either the competition authority (the people who sponsor the league, cup, tournament, whatever) or statisticians. As such, they are not a matter of concern for referees in any affiliated competition. Real referees don’t care about assists, unless you mean assistant referees, and certainly do not keep track of them nor have any need to know about them.


THE “SPORTING THING”
Your question:
In a recent match in which I played, my team was down by a single goal late in the game. One of the opposing players went down with an “injury” after being barely touched by one of my teammates. I was sure, as was the rest of my team, that this was a delay tactic by the injured player. Just after the injury, the ball came to be in my possession in my own half and I decided to keep playing and dribble the ball upfield. I realize that the sporting thing to do would be to kick the ball out-of-touch to allow the injured player to receive treatment, but I am not aware of any rule that requires me to kick the ball out-of-touch. The referee told me to kick the ball out of play. I initially hesitated as I did not realize that it is within the referee’s powers to force a player to do such a thing. When I did not initially kick the ball over the sideline, the referee threatened to card me if I did not kick the ball out of play. I eventually kicked the ball out and the injured player made a miraculous recovery. I just feel that if I had been the referee and the player was truly injured, I would have blown the whistle to stop play and restarted with a drop ball after the injured player had been attended to. I realize that referees are required to maintain the safety of the players on the field , but are referees allowed to enforce this sporting out-of-touch play, or did the referee overstep his authority?

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
Other than sending a player off the field to make equipment corrections, the referee cannot order a player to make any specific play during the game, and certainly cannot threaten to caution or send that player off for not obeying that order. The only orders a referee can give is for a player to leave the field for repair of equipment or because the player has been dismissed.

If the referee believes that a player is seriously injured, then the referee has the power to stop the game and then restart it with a dropped ball. (If the referee believes that a player is not seriously injured, then the referee must allow play to continue until the ball goes out of play naturally.)


WHAT INFRINGEMENT?
Your question:
What is the call: 1. The goalkeeper released the ball while standing inside the eighteen yard box, the ball traveled outside the box and the goalkeeper kicked the ball. 2. The goal keeper threw the ball outside the eighteen yard box, then the goalkeeper kicked the ball as it bounced outside the box.

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
What is the call? A counter question: Where is the infringement of the Law? The referee cannot make a call without a reason, and there is no reason here. The call is that there has been no infringement of the Law — the referee should keep his mouth shut and his whistle at his side.

Perhaps the nature of your confusion might be clearer if you wrote back to indicate what infringement you think MIGHT have occurred in these two situations.


CHECK THE CARDS!!
Your question:
I reffed a game today, U9 boys, where after the game was over it was brought to my attention that a player on one of the teams was put on the lineup sheet and played but isn’t on that team (not on the official roster). I approached the coach, asked to see their player cards…he said to see the manager, the manager first said that since we played the game it was too late to make a difference….again, I asked him for the cards, he said he didn’t have them….then, I asked him which player was the one not on their team, he wouldn’t tell me…I paused, he started laughing at me, then I gave the manager a red card for not cooperating and for his demeaning attitude…….then, I asked the managers from both teams to wait for me to call the head of refs in our area to help me with whether to have them sign the Official Referee Report(and Team Line Up sheet)……I couldnt reach the person…..so, I didn’t have them sign the report………………..
1. Should the game be allowed to stand? (by the way, the team with the ineligible player won).,
2. Should I still have had them sign the sheet?
3. Did I have the right to Red Card the manager for this type of behavior?
I am not turning in the Ref Reports until I find out these answers……please give me your opinion…..I also have a call into the Ref Liason for our League……thanks so much.

USSF answer (May 19, 2003):
This question was answered here on April 3, 2003: “This is a problem for the competition authority to resolve, not the referee. If the player has a legitimate pass and is listed on the team roster, there is nothing the referee can do.
“Although the referee is not in a position to make any ultimate determination here (the player must be allowed to play), the referee can and should include details of the incident in his game report.”

You should have checked the roster and the player cards thoroughly before the game. As you did not do that, you can only include full details in your match report. The competition authority will have to resolve the matter.

Furthermore, your misuse of the red card should be noted. First, we don’t show cards to coaches unless local rules permit it and, second, a red-card-like action (card shown or not) for this would hardly be appropriate.

NOTE: The questioner has since informed us that the player registration cards in this league are checked before the game by the team managers, not the officiating crew. So why didn’t the opposing manager say something before the match, instead of waiting till the game was over?


ACCIDENTAL HANDLING SHOULD NOT BE PUNISHED!
Your question:
Two questions:
1) In the case of accidental handling, and the player who made contact then plays the ball…….handling or not?

Under 12.9 in the Laws of the game, it states:
“Deliberate contact” means that the player could have avoided the touch but chose not to, that the player’s arms were not in a normal playing position at the time, or that the player DELIBERATELY CONTINUED AN INITIALLY ACCIDENTAL CONTACT FOR THE PURPOSE OF GAINING AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE.

This would seem to indicate that you would call handling in the above situation. But later in the law it states:
The fact that a player may benefit from the ball contacting the hand does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement.

The two parts of the law seem to contradict each other. Is this situation handling or not?

2) The goalkeeper, in the process of releasing the ball, goes well beyond the penalty area (2-3 feet) with the ball in her possession (hand). I called handling and restarted with a DFK for the opposing team. Another referee thought the restart would be a IFK. What’s the restart?

USSF answer (May 18, 2003):
Much as we would like to claim credit — or maybe not — the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” is not the Laws themselves. Those portions of Section 12.9 of the Advice to Referees read exactly as you have cited them. Unfortunately, you have misread the first of them to fit your premise. You then compound the sin by carrying the analogy into a totally different area, that of the goalkeeper carrying the ball outside the area. You did one thing right by awarding the direct free kick for the opposing team.

The first portion refers to a ball that hits the player’s hand accidentally, at which time the light bulb goes on in the player’s head, suggesting that this would be a good time to make use of that accidental contact by embellishing it a bit and moving the ball voluntarily and deliberately a little farther along the path toward the opponent’s goal. That is different from the second portion, which describes a ball accidentally hitting the player’s hand and falling into a favorable position of its own momentum. The first is wrong and should be punished, while the second is fortunate for the player but not illegal — and should not be punished.


SHOW RESPECT TO PLAYERS AND COACHES
Your question:
Can you tell me how a referee can give a coach a red card after the game? When the coach simply and gentelmanly told the referee that he thought he missed a few calls. There was no prior cautions (yellow card) issued during or after the game. Is the referee allowed to over react in situations and players or coaches have no recource. Alot is written about conduct of coaches and players but not much on referees! For example, a referee has an argument with their significant other and still fells irritated at a game later, and hands out yellow and red cards. How can you protest under the laws of the game if you cannot protest the referees judgement calls. Thank you

USSF answer (May 18, 2003):
Some facts of the game:
(1) Referees do not have to explain their calls, and neither players nor coaches should question the referees under any circumstances. Coaches are expected to provide their players with encouragement and helpful suggestions (also known as responsible behavior), players are expected to play, and the referee is expected to manage the game — with full respect for the players and coaches for the work they are doing, as well as with a certain amount of communication directly related to events during the game. The referee is under no obligation to explain anything to the teams, but most referees are willing to say that it was an unfair charge or tripping or whatever it might have been — if approached in a polite manner and not badgered by the player or the team official.

We tend to discourage this, as it has been our experience that providing such explanations seldom serves any purpose other than sparking further debate from those who really don’t want an explanation in the first place. In any event, they often also divert the referee’s attention from what is more important. “Persons who are not players, named substitutes, or substituted players cannot commit misconduct within the meaning of Law 12 and therefore cannot be shown yellow or red cards nor will their behavior be described in match reports as misconduct. Law 5 is very clear that “team officials” (coaches, trainers, etc.) must behave responsibly and, if they fail to do so, the referee has two primary courses of action. First, the referee may warn the team official that the irresponsible behavior puts him or her at risk. Second, the referee may expel the team official from the field and its immediate area. It is not necessary for a warning to be given in cases of extreme provocation.”

According to the same memorandum, such action may be taken not only before and during the game, but also in that period of time immediately following a match during which the players and substitutes are physically on the field but in the process of exiting.


A CONCERNED FATHER ASKS
Your question:
I have four questions regarding USSF Rules for U-13 to U-15 Soccer:
1) I would like to know the proper positioning of the referee and the assistance’s in a three man system, i.e. should the AR be on the field of play during the game or when the ball is in play?
2) This questions deals with the ethics of the game and/or team officials and referees. Do team officials and/or players have any right to have referee calls explained to them or do referees have any obligation to explain what they saw to make their particular call? If “no”, explain to me how kids at this age are going to learn the rules and the proper way to play the game or on a “shortsighted view” what the ref considers a penalty for their particular game since there are inconsistencies between refs?
3) If a coach or manager is expelled from the game due to the failure of conducting themselves in a responsible manner (nothing abusive), can they be present on the opposite sideline with the parents if they are no longer instructing their team or being disruptive?
4) Please explain what is “failure to conduct themselves in a responsible manner”?

I will anxiously be awaiting your comments to improve my knowledge of the game and to pass that on to my sons. Thank you for this opportunity to have the rules of the game clarified.

USSF answer (May 15, 2003):
There are no “USSF Rules for U-13 to U-15 Soccer.” These players play according to the Laws of the Game, possibly as modified by the competition within which they play.

On to your questions: 1) The assistant referee may enter the field to aid the referee, if so instructed or requested by the referee. However, in general, the assistant referee’s primary responsibilities would place him or her just outside the field along the touch line.

2) Let us examine this question carefully. What does explaining calls to players or team officials have to do with referee ethics? Nothing. The referee is under no obligation to explain anything to the teams, but most referees are willing to say that it was an unfair charge or tripping or whatever it might have been — if approached in a polite manner and not badgered by the player or the team official.

We tend to discourage this, as it has been our experience that providing such explanations seldom serves any purpose other than sparking further debate from those who really don’t want an explanation in the first place. In any event, they often also divert the referee’s attention from what is more important.

You also ask “how kids at this age are going to learn the rules and the proper way to play the game.” We can only respond with another question: What has the coach been doing all this time? Is the coach teaching the players how the game is played, or simply teaching them a way to win — or at least not lose? As to how to fix this, have the players take a refereeing course or do some reading on the matter. They do not have to become referees, but simply attending the course and LISTENING AND LEARNING would certainly make them better players — just as it makes referees better referees by becoming referee mentors or instructors or assessors.

Inconsistency? Most referees are more consistent during the game than are the players whom they referee. Otherwise the games would be either 0-0 or 100-100.

3) No. A team official who has been dismissed from the game must leave the entire environs of the field.

4) You also ask what is “failure to conduct themselves in a responsible manner”? It means that the coach or other team official has not stuck to what their part of the game is, issuing tactical instructions or praise to their players. If they go beyond those bounds, then their behavior is irresponsible.


AUTHORITY OF THE REFEREE
Your question:
Exactly where does a referee’s authority begin and end? I had an incident where a coach was bad-mouthing the officiating of a game to his team. Unfortunately, I was already in the parking lot and heading toward my car. I feel that he should have been dismissed and shown the red card. ([my high school association] rules allow the coaches to be shown the yellow or red cards.) Also, how far does the authority of the referee extend? For example a player/coach/spectator/referee on a nearby soccer field begins directing negative comments to a player/coach/spectator/referee on my soccer field. My I take action aganst that person? If not, how close to my field do they have to be before I may reprimand them?

USSF answer (May 15, 2003):
We cannot presume to answer questions dealing with the rules used by other organizations. This answer would apply to games played under the auspices of the U. S. Soccer Federation.

According to section 5.2 of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”: The referee’s authority begins when he arrives at the area of the field of play and continues until he has left the area of the field after the game has been completed. The referee’s authority extends to time when the ball is not in play, to temporary suspensions, to the half-time break, and to additional periods of play or kicks from the penalty mark required by the rules of the competition. While the referee has no direct authority over players, coaches, or spectators from neighboring fields, nor over spectators at his own field, there are things that can be done.

One of the things the referee can do is include a full description of the matter in the game report. In addition, if the referee decides that the activity by the spectator constitutes “grave disorder” (which could be defined to include anything which adversely affects the referee’s control of the game and/or undermines his authority), the referee can suspend the match while others handle the problem. The referee can also terminate the match if appropriate action (e. g., the person is forced by someone to leave the area of the field) is not taken.

The authority of the referee over persons other than players and team officials is limited by the Law, because the Law assumes that the game is played in a facility with security staff in attendance. Those referees whose matches are watched by parents, etc., right at the touch lines, need to understand that they are not totally at the mercy of the spectators and other non-playing or coaching personnel.


OFFENSIVE, INSULTING, OR ABUSE LANGUAGE
Your question:
1) If a player directs unsporting, foul, or abusive comments towards the AR and the AR cannot get the referee’s attention at the next stoppage, is it still within the laws of the game to try and signal the referee at the next possible stoppage, even though play has been restarted since the comments were made? //example of language deleted//

2) While the ball and referee’s attention are directed away from the trail assistant referee, a player, wearing a jacket shielding his number, walks side-by-side with the trail assistant referee using profanities and complaining about an offside call that went against his team. After the trail AR asks the player to return to his bench, the player continues the rude comments and abusive language. When the AR raises his flag to get the referee’s attention, the player runs for a dark parking lot. By the time, the referee sees the mirrored signal from the lead AR, the player is nowhere to be found. About 10 minutes later, the player reappears on his team’s bench.

My question is, is it still within the laws of the game to bring this player’s attention to the referee and the referee either caution or send off the player (note, the player reference in this question actually refers to a substitute).

USSF answer (May 15, 2003):
These situations should drive home to even the dullest of minds that the referee and the assistant referees (and fourth official, if available) must maintain constant communication throughout the game. At a minimum, the referee should look to the lead AR at every stoppage and every through ball. The ARs should be checking with one another at least at every stoppage and mirroring signals. There is no excuse for missing signals.

The actions you cite in both cases may be punished whenever the AR can finally get the referee’s attention. The referee must protect his officiating teammates from such attacks and abuse.

Yes, the example of language you cited — deleted in the posted answer — would be punished as offensive or insulting or abusive language.


SMOKE OUT THOSE SPECTATORS!
Your question:
I attended a soccer game recently in [my state’s] Youth Soccer Association area and a referee stopped play and had some of the fans leave the park for smoking. Is this a rule? I have never heard of it and also should the referee direct his questions to the fans or to the coach for the coach to handle the problem if there is one?

USSF answer (May 15, 2003):
A check with authorities in [your association] reveals that there is no league or other competition rule that forbids spectators from smoking. It may be a local park rule, but that is not something the referee should have to enforce, as the referee has no authority over spectators. Such a rule can be enforced only by the park authority.

No, the referee should not speak with anyone about smoking among the spectators. That is NOT the business of the referee.


_NO CAUTION_ FOR PLAYERS OFF THE FIELD TO FETCH THE BALL
Your question:
I was observing the referees at a competitive U14G match on behalf of my referee association (not as a USSF Assessor but in an observation capacity only). The goalkeeper was late getting off her line and arrived at the ball later than the attacker, the result being an injured keeper. The referee stopped play and beckoned assistance from the bench. The coach came onto the field and spent three minutes with the keeper before deciding she could continue. The referee had gone over to the touchline and continued to observe all the players while discussing the situation with his AR. During the break in play, one player left the field of play and grabbed and put on a keeper jersey, anticipating that she would take the keeper’s place. When she saw that the keeper would continue, she removed the jersey, threw it back on the bench and stepped back onto the field. The coach exited the field and play was ready to resume when the referee approached this young lady and showed her a yellow card for leaving the field without permission. Or entering the filed without permission. He and the AR informed me it was one of those and they thought they needed to get her for at least one of them. I realize that you had to be there and that the final decision is in the opinion of the referee. But they asked me what I thought. I thought technically correct — yes. Perhaps a bit anal retentive too.

Arriving home I checked ATR 12.29.6 “Players who leave the field with the referee’s permission require the referee’s permission to return to the field. Examples of this include a player who attempts to come onto the field:
After being instructed to leave the field to correct equipment (mandatory caution)
After leaving to receive treatment for an injury
After leaving to receive treatment for bleeding or to replace a blood-soaked uniform
After being substituted (except under youth substitution rules)
Before receiving permission to enter as a substitute

and 12.29.7 “This category of misconduct normally refers to a situation in which an opponent leaves the field in an attempt, in the opinion of the referee, to place an attacker in an apparent offside position.

I didn’t see that either category fit. In an otherwise “easy” game in which cards were not needed to manage the game, I thought this was one where a card COULD have been issued but SHOULD have it? I didn’t think so. What say you?

USSF answer (May 14, 2003):
The longer you live, the more foolish things you will see. The referee’s action in cautioning this player was incorrect, as well as ridiculous in the extreme. The cautionable offense of leaving the field without the referee’s permission does NOT include actions in the normal course of play. No referee should declare that the player’s action in this case was not in the normal course of play — someone has to fetch ball, for goodness’ sake! We have said it before and will surely say it again: Referees should not go out of their way to aggravate players who have done nothing wrong. It will only harm their game management in the long run by revealing how petty they are.


ACCIDENTAL HANDLING IS NOT A FOUL — UNDERSTOOD???
Your question:
The rule describing a” hand ball”foul states that the player “handles the ball deliberately”. However I have seen numerous games where a referee has called a foul for an unintentional hand ball. After the game, the referee will explain that even though he knew that the offending player did not intentionally handle the ball, the fact that the ball rebounded off the hand in such a way to give advantage to the offending player’s team, he was obligated to call an offense. My way of thinking is that once you decide that a player did not handle the ball deliberately, then it does not matter how the ball bounced afterwards.

An example: my player was marking opponent #2 inside the penalty area. Opponent #1 takes a shot on goal but hits my player in the hand. My player is turned sideways and did not see the shot taken, did not move her hand in any way. The ball stops in front of my player and she clears it away. The referee calls for a penalty kick. After the game he told me that my player did not deliberately handle the ball, but since it affected the play to our team’s advantage,then he was obligated to call for a direct free kick.

USSF answer (May 14, 2003):
This is the sort of cowardly and ill-informed referee who gives the rest of us a bad name. He has obviously either not read or decided to pay no attention to this information from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
QUOTE
12.9 DELIBERATE HANDLING
The offense known as “handling the ball” involves deliberate contact with the ball by a player’s hand or arm (including fingertips, upper arm, or outer shoulder). “Deliberate contact” means that the player could have avoided the touch but chose not to, that the player’s arms were not in a normal playing position at the time, or that the player deliberately continued an initially accidental contact for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage. Moving hands or arms instinctively to protect the body when suddenly faced with a fast approaching ball does not constitute deliberate contact unless there is subsequent action to direct the ball once contact is made. Likewise, placing hands or arms to protect the body at a free kick or similar restart is not likely to produce an infringement unless there is subsequent action to direct or control the ball. The fact that a player may benefit from the ball contacting the hand does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement. A player infringes the Law regarding handling the ball even if direct contact is avoided by holding something in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.).
END OF QUOTE

To put it slightly differently, if the handling is unintentional, it makes no difference if the ball drops in a fortunate position for the player whose hand it hit. That is NOT A FOUL and should NOT BE PUNISHED!


JUMPING WALL?
Your question:
When doing a ceremonial free kick, the “Wall” was moved the required 10 yards. The players in the “Wall” then began to jump up and down. Is this allowed or would it be considered unsporting behavior?

USSF answer (May 14, 2003):
Prior to 1997, the Law required that if “any of the players dance about or gesticulate in a way calculated to distract their opponents” at a free kick they should be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior (then called “ungentlemanly conduct).” This is no longer true. Jumping by members of the wall is common practice throughout the world. The referee should allow this activity unless it goes to extremes. Examples of extremes would be members of the wall jumping forward and back — and thus failing to respect the required distance from the ball — or doing handstands or other acts designed to bring the game into disrepute.


TELEPHONE 1
Your question:
In any league, and especially MLS, WUSA, and A-League, are the Technical Personnel allowed to use cell phones, headsets, or any such devices to communicate with people around the pitch to exchange information during the game and thus gain advantage over an opponent? Something similar to what an American Football Coach is allowed to do…

If not, is there a Memorandum, International Board Decision, or is it in the Laws of the Game?

USSF answer (May 13, 2003):
While players may be cautioned for unsporting behavior for using a cell phone or similar devices during a game, there is no prohibition in the Laws of the Game against team technical personnel using phones. However, such use may be prohibited by the rules of the competition, e. g., NCAA and high school.


TELEPHONE 2
Your question:
What if the player is on the bench? Does he/she get cautioned for UC if using a phone to communicate with technical personnel? What stops a coach that has been Ejected from the game to keep contact with the team then?

USSF answer (May 14, 2003):
It makes no difference where the player is. He will be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior, no matter whom he is calling. And the only thing that would stop a disqualified coach from communicating with the team would be the rules of the competition — or a sense of honor.


OH, THAT NASTY REFEREE!
Your question:
I am a coach in a minor league in [my state]. Last week-end I ran into a small problem. The referee decided to ref the game without the help of linesmen (he had them from the stands “only to call ball out of bounds” – off sides galore as you can imagine, and, it being an U-18 game with the kids running a little too much for the referee to follow from closer distances, ten minutes from the end of the game a play develops …

An apparent off side of four attacking players, not called but acceptable error since there were a lot of players bunched; a defender runs from behind to catch up on the edge of the box, slides and touches the ball back towards the goal keeper; the attacking player that was conducting the ball when trying to kick the ball into the net kicked instead the defender that slid by; both players fell and got up, the attacking player looking for a foul; the ball would go in if the goal keeper did not parry it, so he did, he dove, he grabed it, got up and put it in play; when the ball was already back in play, the referee who had been at about midfield, stopped the game and called for a penalty shot for “tripping”.

My problem? The score was 1-2 and we were the away team.

The ref (home refs are the norm in these parts of the woods) appeared to try to appease everybody and most of the second half appeared to look for a “draw” to make things happy !!!

How can these situations be corrected?

USSF answer (May 14, 2003):
It is, unfortunately, sometimes the case that referee assignors cannot always get the requisite number of registered officials for the games they must cover. Regarding the number and kind of officials, the USSF Referee Administrative Handbook says this:
QUOTE
POLICY:

Systems of Officiating 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 national competitions sponsored by the U.S. Soccer Federation. require the use of this officiating system.

In order to comply with the Laws of the Game which have been adopted by the National Council, all soccer games sanctioned directly or indirectly by member organizations of the U. S. Soccer Federation must employ the diagonal system (three officials). As a matter of policy, the National Referee Committee prefers the following alternatives in order of preference:
1. One Federation referee and two Federation referees as assistant referees (the standard ALL organizations should strive to meet).
2. One Federation referee and two assistant referees, one of whom is a Federation referee and one of whom is a trainee of the local referee program.
3. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are both unrelated to either team participating in the game but are not Federation referees, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).
4. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are not both Federation referees and who are affiliated with the participating teams, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).

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 their competitions.
END OF QUOTE

The officials in your game appear to fit the description under number 4. The “assistant referees” described in number 4 are actually called “club linesmen,” who may not be asked to indicate anything other than when the ball is entirely over the goal line or touch-line. Thus, in this sort of game the referee must make all the decisions on fouls and misconduct without any help from anyone else.

How to solve the problem? Encourage more people to go into refereeing, so that more officials are available.


I FEEL FEINT
Your question:
USSF has officially stated that feints at PKs are allowed, as long as they do not constitute unsporting behavior. The reason given is that PKs are punitive, and therefore some allowance for creativity should be made for the attacking team, much like at a direct free kick outside the penalty area. However, this logic doesn’t seem to hold up for kicks taken from the penalty mark to decide the game. They are not punitive.

Is feinting during kicks from the penalty mark to decide the game allowed? If yes, why, since they are not punitive?

USSF answer (May 13, 2003):
Let us first point out that the position on feinting is not based on the fact that penalty kicks are punitive. That is simply one aspect of the matter that the referee should consider — and we have not said anything different.  Guidance from the International Board notes that referees should not consider various deceptive maneuvers to be a violation of Law 14 or of the guidelines on kicks from the penalty mark in the Additional Instructions. They should ensure that the run to the ball is initiated from behind the ball and the kicker is not using deception to delay unnecessarily the taking of the kick.

Yes, feinting at kicks from the penalty mark is permitted, provided the same guideline is followed as for feinting at the penalty kick: no unsporting behavior. The judgment of unsporting behavior is at the discretion of the referee.

One example of unsporting behavior would be to step over the ball, hesitate, and then bring the foot back again to kick the ball. The kicker’s behavior must not, in the opinion of the referee, unduly delay the taking of the kick.

While the referee might allow a player to get away with a trick once, such as deliberately missing the ball, it would be very unprofessional to allow a kicker or a series of kickers to pull the same trick again. If the referee believed the player deliberately missed the ball early to shake the ‘keeper’s concentration, then a caution/yellow card for unsporting behavior would be in order. If the referee believed that it had been merely the kicker’s enthusiasm or an honest mistake, the referee would warn the first kicker to await his signal for the retake and make certain that all other potential kickers are aware of the warning. If the player then took his kick early, he would be cautioned. Given the “shoot-out” situation of kicks from the penalty mark, all other kickers would have received the warning and would also be liable for caution if they kicked early.

Any instance of unsporting behavior must be in the opinion of the referee, based on that particular act in that particular game at that particular moment of the game. Although there are certain actions that will always be unsporting behavior, we cannot arbitrarily set a list of actions that must be called as unsporting behavior in the case of feinting at a penalty kick. The referee has to take responsibility for some of his own decisions.


O, THOSE CRAFTY COACHES!
Your question:
In a U-14 boys game, one team was playing an offside trap while the other was positioning 2-3 players along the halfway line to look for break-out possibilities. I have done the center in about 80 youth games and feel comfortable with my position on the field and reliance on my AR’s, both teen-agers with extensive soccer travel experience. However, one situation arose late in the game which caused some confusion:
Team A intercepted a cross from Team B close to A’s goal. A Team A defender then send a long ball toward the halfway line. A’s own striker, on his own side of the field, received the ball, beat the Team B sweeper (who had moved all the way up), then proceeded to dribble over the halfway line toward Team B’s goal. As he dribbled, he noticed one of his teammates sprinting ahead and to his right. Remember that both of these Team A players are now behind Team B’s defense with only the goal-keeper ahead of them. The player dribbling the ball then unselfishly played the ball FORWARD and to his right, where his teammate received the ball. My AR put up his flag, judging that the ball was played forward, and not flat, with 1, not 2, defenders between the last offensive player and the goal. I accepted the flag and whistled for offside. The opposing coaches at game’s end challenged the call on the following basis: their center forward had already beaten the last defender and as a result, no offside could take place even if the ball was played to another one of their players located ahead of the dribbler.

Offside or not? And if so, why — or why not?

USSF answer (May 13, 2003):
Ah, those crafty coaches, at it again! Well, this time, as usual, they are wrong.

A player is in an offside position if he is ahead of the ball and nearer to the opposing goal than at least two opponents. Even if all opponents have been beaten, he must still remain behind the ball. So, if the player “sprinting ahead and to his right” was ahead of the passer and the ball when the ball was played, then he was offside. If he was level with or behind the ball, then he was not offside, no matter where he receives the ball.


HOW ABOUT THEM LOGO’D SOCKS?
Your question:
It has been noticed that the referee socks for the Professional Soccer matches (MLS/WUSA) have changed from the 3 strips to the USSF logo. Is this going to trickle down to all referees eventually will have to wear this style?

USSF answer (May 13, 2003):
The referee socks worn in the professional matches are an alternative sock, suitable for wear by any referee. Either the black socks with three-stripe white top or the new logo¹d sock may be worn. Just remember that all members of an officiating team should strive to wear the same uniform color and sock style.

The officiating team may wear the official uniform jersey, gold with black pin stripes, black collar, black cuffs (long sleeve), or no cuff (short sleeve); or any of the three alternative jerseys, black with white pin stripes, black collar, black cuffs (long sleeve) or no cuffs (short sleeve); red with black pin stripes, black collar, black cuffs (long sleeve), or no cuffs (short sleeve); or blue with black pin stripes, black collar, black cuffs (long sleeve), or no cuffs (short sleeve). All should be worn with the black shorts, and black socks with three-stripe white top or the new logo¹d sock, and black shoes.

NOTE: See the full article on new uniform items in the upcoming issue of Fair Play.


GET THE LOCATION RIGHT, PLEASE!
Your question:
We had a player in the process of going for a goal, a defending player fouled him on the penalty box line deliberately to prevent the goal. The player tripped on the ball falling into the penalty box. The referee red carded the defender saying it was deliberate to prevent the goal. The players started to line up for a penalty kick, but the ref said it was going to be a direct kick. The player started to line up for that and then the ref said the game had ended, time had run out and he wasn’t allowed to take the kick. Should he have been able to take the kick? How can the game end on a penalty? When someone is red carded, isn’t time added on for whatever time it took to do that? And even if time had ended at that moment, shouldn’t the kick still be allowed? I asked the ref, he said only if it was a penalty kick would he be allowed to take the kick. In reading the laws of the game, we couldn’t find a definitive answer, especially if it was a direct kick.

Is this one of those “at the discretion of the ref calls”? We actually thought it really should have been a penalty kick, the player upon falling was quite a ways into the box. The ref said he was tripped right on the line of the box though, and that’s why just a direct kick was awarded. Shouldn’t he still have been given the chance to take it?

USSF answer (May 13, 2003):
There are actually two questions to answer here: (1) Did the referee end the game correctly and (2) How about the free kick/penalty kick?

(1) There is no set or particular moment or method to end a game. Law 5 empowers the referee to act as timekeeper and to keep a record of the match. Law 7 instructs the referee to add time (at his discretion) for time lost in either half of a game or in any overtime period for the reasons listed in Law 7 (Allowance for Time Lost). Referees allow additional time in all periods for all time lost through substitution(s), assessment of injury to players, removal of injured players from the field of play for treatment,wasting time, as well as ³other causes² that consume time, such as kick-offs, throw-ins, dropped balls, free kicks, and replacement of lost or defective balls.  Some referees will end the playing period while the ball is in play and there is no threat to either goal, such as allowing a team to take a goal kick and then ending the period. Others will end the playing period at a stoppage. Our advice is to do what is both comfortable for the referee and fair to the players. There is no need to extend time for any free kick other than a penalty kick. And that brings us to your second question.

(2) Only the referee is able to judge where the foul occurred. If the referee did indeed state that the foul occurred “right on the line of the box,” then he should have awarded a penalty kick, as the lines belong to the areas they demarcate. If you have stated his words correctly, this was a major error for the referee. Our apologies to your team.


NO DUPLICATE NUMBERS
Your question:
I recently had an onfield discussion about the legality of two field players wearing the same number, while on the field at the same time. I am a USSF referee, but I also coach a U-12 team. The head coach of the opposing team declared that it was totally legal. I believe that he was in the wrong. To me as a referee, I would consider this to be unsporting behavior. Could I get your opinion in this matter?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
This April 2, 2003, answer from the archives should take care of most of your question:
“The Laws of the Game neither require numbers nor set standards for them. Numbers are governed by the rules of the competition in which the player’s team is participating, i. e., the league, cup, or tournament in which the team competes. The referee should worry only about any requirements regarding numbers in the rules of the competition in which he or she is officiating.”

The only addition might be that most rules of competition forbid duplication of numbers by players of the same team. In other words, two players on the same team may not wear the same number.


RESTART AFTER OFFSIDE
Your question:
After an offside where is the the free kick taken from, where the person was offside, or where a player last touched the ball?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
Offside is punished where the infringement occurred. In other words, the indirect free kick should be taken from the place where the offside player was when his teammate played the ball. The kick should NOT be taken from the place where the second-to-last defender was NOR where the player was at the moment the offside was called NOR where the ball was NOR where the referee was standing NOR where the teammate was when he touched the ball NOR anywhere other than where the infringement occurred.


SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES
Your question:
I am a coach for a 3rd grade youth soccer team. Can you please help me as I have tried to find the answer to my question in the FIFA Rule book but I haven’t had any luck.

Towards the end of the half the opposition takes a shot at our goalie. Our goalie gets into position to catch it and the referee blows the whistle while to ball is travelling towards the goalie. The goalie hesitate or gets distracted by the whistle and the ball hits him and trickles into the goal. Is this a Goal? The Referee said it was a Goal and I questioned it and he insisted this was the rule and that he had this incident on a previous occation. I told him I have never heard about this rule and if he is so sure then I do accept the goal been scored. I when on to tell him why he didn’t let the ball be played by the goalie and then whistle the play. He said the kids (8 year olds) should know the rule and should not stop playing. I went on to tell him this is a contradition to what we tell thekids to do, keepplaying at all times UNTIL THEY HEAR THE WHISLTE BLOW.

Is there such a rule?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
Your referee was not only blowing the whistle, he was also blowing smoke. Once the referee blows the whistle, play has stopped. In fact, play has actually stopped when the referee makes the decision to stop play. Final answer? No such rule and no goal in this case.


REFEREE MISTAKES
Your question:
If a referee makes a mistake and he stops play. should play be restarted with a dropped ball?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
It depends. Specifically, it depends on what kind of mistake the referee has made.

If the mistake was in stopping play in the first place (what is sometimes called an “inadvertent whistle” — and one of the reasons we recommend that referees in this country not run around the field with the whistle in their mouth), then you are correct, play restarts with a dropped ball.

If the mistake was in announcing the restart, then the referee can simply correct the error by quickly calling the ball back and letting everyone know what the correct restart is supposed to be. For example, the referee might mistakenly announce a throw-in for Blue when he meant to say (and/or meant to point in favor of) Red. There is no problem with calling the throw-in back and giving the ball to Red (consider also a simple admission of having goofed and vow to do better next time).

If the mistake is in awarding a goal which was invalid, the kick-off restart sets the goal into the record books and nothing more can be done except explain the error in the game report. Likewise, if a card is mistakenly shown to the wrong player and play has restarted, the card must stand and the referee must explain the circumstances in his game report.

In short, not always.


OFFSIDE
Your question:
I have a queston about offsides. I understand the offsides rule but say a player of an attacking team is even with the last defender. An a defensive player lobs the ball back to the last defender who heads the ball in favor of the attacking player which puts him in an offsides postion. Is this still offsides even though it was headed toward the attaking teams goal which put the attaker in that postion?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
It would seem that perhaps you do not understand offside quite as well as you thought. If the ball is last played to a player in an offside position by an opponent who was fully in control of the ball (as in this case), there can be NO OFFSIDE. For offside to be called, the player in the offside position must be actively involved in play and must receive the ball from a teammate (with the exception of a ball played by a teammate deflecting off an opponent, which does not apply here).

If the attacking player was even with the last defender he would be in an offside position anyway — unless you meant to include the goalkeeper. A player must be no nearer the opposing goal than the last two opposing players to avoid being in an offside position.


COACHES ARE _NOT_ ALLOWED TO COACH THE REFEREE
Your question:
I centered a U14B game during which one of the coaches continually called out comments and instructions to me. None were abusive but ranged from telling me which way a throw in should go to whether I should have called a foul to informing me I shouldn’t add time for an injured player. While this problem is not directly addressed in the Laws of the Game, the Advice to Referees says that coaches are limited to technical coaching of their team.

While I don’t think my calling of the game or my ability to control the game, it did become clear that the coach was getting “into the heads” of the other team’s coach, its players and fans – if my call was in line with what this coach was yelling they thought I had been influenced.

This experience has led me to believe that, while I can sympathize with a coach being emotional and wanting to comment on the referee’s calls (much as is done in basketball, American football, and baseball) I will have to clamp down on coaches like this for the good of the game.

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
You have given your own answer to the question: “. . . coaches are limited to technical coaching of their team.” They are not allowed to coach the referee as well. That is irresponsible behavior and, unless the referee stamps it out immediately with a firm warning, can lead to major problems. And because it is irresponsible behavior, the referee could exercise the rights granted in Law 5 to dismiss the coach for such behavior.


PASSING THE BALL TO THE ‘KEEPER
Your question:
Could you please clarify the pass back rule to the keeper. I thought a pass back could only come from the head of a defender.

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he touches the ball with his hands directly after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a teammate. The requirement that the ball be kicked means only that it has been played with the foot. The requirement that the ball be “kicked to” the goalkeeper means only that the play is to or toward a place where the keeper can legally handle the ball. The requirement that the ball be “deliberately kicked” means that the play on the ball is deliberate and does not include situations in which the ball has been, in the opinion of the referee, accidentally deflected or misdirected. The goalkeeper has infringed the Law if he handles the ball after initially playing the ball in some other way (e.g., with his feet).

You are incorrect in suggesting that “a pass back could only come from the head of a defender.” As the above description of the infringement indicates, the only limitation is that the “pass back” can’t come from the foot of the defender. Furthermore, it is incorrect to focus on the “pass back” element of this violation because the “pass back” by itself is not illegal, no matter how it is done. What is illegal is the goalkeeper handling the ball under certain conditions.


PLAYER EQUIPMENT
Your question:
I recently saw a 15 year old girl playing goalie get kicked in the face by another player. Neither player was out of line or playing dirty, etc. I have since heard stories of cleats being literally buried in a goalie’s skull, noses broken, throat kicks and all of this is because the goalie is doing what they are coached to do and the players are doing what they are coached to do. Has anyone ever proposed a face mask for the goalie? It used to be that you never saw anyone where a helmet on a bike, now, you rarely see anyone without. Skiing is definitely going he same way. The helmet material would have to be designed to minimize risk to the striker’s foot, etc. I cannot see how it would interfere with play, or alter the game, just save some young person’s face some day.

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
Yes, face masks have been proposed and they have been rejected by the world governing body of soccer. For further information, please read this memorandum from the U. S. Soccer Federation:
From the U.S. Soccer Communications Center — March 12, 2003

Memorandum

To: State Referee Administrators cc: State Presidents
State Youth Referee Administrators Affiliated Members
State Directors of Referee Instruction
State Directors of Referee Assessment
National Assessors
National Instructors
National Referees

From: Julie Ilacqua
Managing Director of Federation Services

Re: Player’s Equipment

Date: March 7, 2003

_________________________________________________________

USSF has received a number of inquiries recently about how officials should handle situations where players wish to wear equipment that is not included in the list of basic compulsory equipment in FIFA Laws of the Game. Referees are facing increased requests from players for permission to wear kneepads, elbowpads, headbands, soft casts, goggles, etc.

The only concrete guidance in the Laws of the Game is found in Law 4:

This is followed by a list of required uniform items: jersey, shorts, socks, shoes, and shinguards. Obviously, this language is quite general. USSF suggests the following approach to issues involving player equipment and uniforms:

1. Look to the applicable rules of the competition authority.
Some leagues, tournaments, and soccer organizations have specific local rules covering player uniforms and what other items may or may not be worn on the field during play. Referees who accept match assignments governed by these rules are obligated to enforce them. Note, however, that local rules cannot restrict the referee’s fundamental duty to ensure the safety of players.

2. Inspect the equipment.
All items of player equipment and uniforms must be inspected. However, anything outside the basic compulsory items must draw the particular attention of the referee and be inspected with special regard to safety. USSF does not “pre-approve” any item of player equipment by type or brand — each item must be evaluated individually.

3. Focus on the equipment itself — not how it might be improperly used, or whether it actually protects the player.
Generally, the referee’s safety inspection should focus on whether the equipment has such dangerous characteristics as: sharp edges, hard surfaces, pointed corners, dangling straps or loops, or dangerous protrusions. The referee should determine whether the equipment, by its nature, presents a safety risk to the player wearing it or to other players. If the equipment does not present such a safety risk, the referee should permit the player to wear it.

The referee should not forbid the equipment simply because it creates a possibility that a player could use it to foul another player or otherwise violate the Laws of the Game. However, as the game progresses, an item that the referee allowed may become dangerous, depending on changes in its condition (wear and tear) or on how the player uses it. Referees must be particularly sensitive to unfair or dangerous uses of player equipment and must be prepared to order a correction of the problem whenever they become aware of it.

The referee also should not forbid the equipment because of doubts about whether it actually protects the player. There are many new types of equipment on the market that claim to protect players. A referee’s decision to allow a player to use equipment is not an endorsement of the equipment and does not signify that the referee believes the player will be safer while wearing the equipment.

4. Remember that the referee is the final word on whether equipment is dangerous.
Players, coaches, and others may argue that certain equipment is safe. They may contend that the equipment has been permitted in previous matches, or that the equipment actually increases the player’s safety. These arguments may be accompanied by manufacturer’s information, doctor’s notes, etc. However, as with all referee decisions, determining what players may wear within the framework of the Laws of the Game and applicable local rules depends on the judgment of the referee. The referee must strive to be fair, objective, and consistent – but the final decision belongs to the referee.


REVIEW OF SEND-OFFS/DISMISSALS
Your question:
I am new to soccer refereeing. I recently visited a home page for a local (AYSO) tournament and I read: “Tournament director may review all send-offs and ejections!”

Is this customary? I was under the impression that the referee was the final arbiter and his decision is final, at least under AYSO policies….. Am I (again) confused?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
What is probably meant here is nothing more than that the tournament director will review all send-offs to determine what additional penalties might be imposed. We cannot speak for AYSO, but a full review of send-offs or dismissals with the result of changing them to allow a player (or team official) back in the next game would not be allowed for games played under the auspices of the U. S. Soccer Federation, where the referee’s decision is indeed final. FIFA has recently reiterated its position that no such review can change what must now be considered the equivalent of a new international regulation mandating the one subsequent match suspension for any send-off or dismissal.


GOALKEEPER OUT OF THE PLAY
Your question:
Situation: During an attack the goalkeeper is incapacitated. This occurred because of a collision with his teammate. At our last referee meeting a referee presented the following thought to the group – if the goalkeeper is incapacitated as noted above (not a foul) play should be stopped because the team no longer has a goalkeeper. The stoppage of play would not be because of a foul, or because of injury, but because the team no longer has a participating goalkeeper. Safety issue aside, I am wondering about the fairness of stopping an attack for this reason.

In October 1999 you gave a detailed answer that said play continues, the goalkeeper is still the goalkeeper, assuming no foul, and not, in the opinion of the referee, a serious injury. Question? Has there been a change in thinking regarding this issue?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
No, there has been no change in the thinking regarding this issue. The earlier answer is still valid. It is restated in slightly different words below:

Question:
A goalkeeper appears incapacitated without any infringement of the law and play continues near him. What criterion should the referee use to stop play and attend to the goalkeeper’s injury? How is this criterion fair when the goalkeeper is faking? When he is seriously injured? When he is unconscious? If a goal is scored and the referee decides that he should have stopped play sooner, can he reverse the goal? If he does reverse the goal, what/where would be the restart?

Answer:
The only criterion to use is common sense. Law 3 tells us that a match is played by two teams, each consisting of not more than eleven players, one of whom is the goalkeeper. It does not say that the goalkeeper must always be on his feet and moving, nor even on the field if his momentum has carried him off. Law 5 tells us that 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, allows play to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in his opinion, only slightly injured, and ensures that any player bleeding from a wound leaves the field of play. The referee also acts on the advice of assistant referees regarding incidents which he has not seen. If the goalkeeper is faking and the referee falls for it, then the goalkeeper must be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior (and, upon repetition, etc., etc.).

If a goal is scored while the goalkeeper is on the ground, a goal is scored. Full stop. The referee is not obliged to hold the players’ hands in the game. He can only act when he is aware that something is amiss. Neither can the referee change the Law to suit his purpose, i. e., taking away a legitimate goal because the goalkeeper was out of the play. The Latin phrase has it correctly: Lex dura, sed lex. (The law is hard, but it is the law.)

If the goalkeeper was taken out by one of the opponents, the referee does have cause to revoke the goal, but he cannot do it without just cause — and sympathy is not just cause. If the referee does revoke the goal for a legitimate foul, the restart would be for whatever the foul was. The lack of consciousness is not a foul and not a ground for revocation.

In the question asked earlier, there was no foul. Life is hard, just like the law, but both are immutable by mere humans.


A CHORUS LINE?
Your question:
At a recent match we had some girls that when they kicked their leg went up past their head. i thought this would be considered dangerous play, due to the fact they were kicking at the heads of the other kids. luckly no one was hit but there was several very close calls. i asked the ref. and he didn’t even acknowage me.

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
It is too bad that the referee didn’t acknowledge you, but players and coaches are not supposed to question the referee at all, so you will have to forgive him.

This is what we teach referees about “playing dangerously,” as written in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” section 12.13:
QUOTE
12.13 PLAYING IN A DANGEROUS MANNER
Playing “in a dangerous manner” can be called only if the act, in the opinion of the referee, meets three criteria: the action must be dangerous to someone (including the player himself), it was committed with an opponent close by, and the dangerous nature of the action caused this opponent to cease his active play for the ball or to be otherwise disadvantaged by his attempt not to participate in the dangerous play. Merely committing a dangerous act is not, by itself, an offense (e.g., kicking high enough that the cleats show or attempting to play the ball while on the ground). Committing a dangerous act while an opponent is near by is not, by itself, an offense. The act becomes an offense only when an opponent is adversely and unfairly affected, usually by the opponent ceasing to challenge for the ball in order to avoid receiving or causing injury as a direct result of the player’s act. Playing in a manner considered to be dangerous when only a teammate is nearby is not a foul. Remember that fouls may be committed only against opponents or the opposing team.

In judging a dangerous play offense, the referee must take into account the experience and skill level of the players. Opponents who are experienced and skilled may be more likely to accept the danger and play through. Younger players have neither the experience nor skill to judge the danger adequately and, in such cases, the referee should intervene on behalf of their safety. For example, playing with cleats up in a threatening or intimidating manner is more likely to be judged a dangerous play offense in youth matches, without regard to the reaction of opponents.
END OF QUOTE


DELIBERATE HANDLING
Your question:
Isn’t a hand ball a hand ball when was this unintentional law incorporated

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct) tells us: “A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player . . . handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area).” Please note the word “deliberately.”

Two sections from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” follow. They should give you all the information you need to understand deliberate handling.

QUOTE
12.9 DELIBERATE HANDLING
The offense known as “handling the ball” involves deliberate contact with the ball by a player’s hand or arm (including fingertips, upper arm, or outer shoulder). “Deliberate contact” means that the player could have avoided the touch but chose not to, that the player’s arms were not in a normal playing position at the time, or that the player deliberately continued an initially accidental contact for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage. Moving hands or arms instinctively to protect the body when suddenly faced with a fast approaching ball does not constitute deliberate contact unless there is subsequent action to direct the ball once contact is made. Likewise, placing hands or arms to protect the body at a free kick or similar restart is not likely to produce an infringement unless there is subsequent action to direct or control the ball. The fact that a player may benefit from the ball contacting the hand does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement. A player infringes the Law regarding handling the ball even if direct contact is avoided by holding something in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.).

12.10 RULE OF THUMB FOR “HANDLING”
The rule of thumb for referees is that it is handling if the player plays the ball, but not handling if the ball plays the player. The referee should punish only deliberate handling of the ball, meaning only those actions when the player (and not the goalkeeper within his own penalty area) strikes or propels the ball with his hand or arm (shoulder to tip of fingers).
END OF QUOTE


PLAYER CAPS
Your question:
What does CAPS stand for and what does it mean?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
“Player caps” refers to a tradition established in England many years ago.  Wearing caps as part of soccer uniform, to distinguish teams by cap colors, goes back to 1654. The custom continued, as shown in many photos of famous mid-19th century amateur teams with all-capped players. Pro clubs also wore caps. A special England “cap” was introduced by FA in 1886 with the citation “For players who have gained full international honours for England.”

Today, recognized categories are decided by FIFA.  In addition to the usual categories of games at A, B, Under-23, Amateur, Youth and other levels, the list is growing with the introduction of Women’s Under-19, handicapped players etc.

Nowadays caps are usually awarded only for matches against full international teams in the same category.


RESTART FOR DELIBERATE HANDLING
Your question:
Are all hand balls direct kicks ?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
IF the handling is deemed by the referee to be deliberate, then, yes, all cases of deliberate handling are punished by direct free kicks (or penalty kicks, depending on where the handling was committed and by whom). If the referee deems the handling to be not deliberate, then there is no foul at all and thus no free kick.

In addition, a handling offense could also merit a caution or a send-off as misconduct.


THE ‘KEEPER _CANNOT_ BE SENT OFF FOR HANDING THE BALL IN HIS OWN PENALTY AREA!!!!
Your question:
I have been reading the questions and answers to the obvious goal scoring opportunity denied and I need some clarification about the answers given with respect to a passback to the keeper.

Here is a typical example seen in a game: A defender with the ball passes the ball to his keeper. The keeper tries to trap the ball and misses. The keeper then turns and runs after the ball and stops it with their hands. From the referees position, he determines that the ball would have continued into the goal if the keeper did not stop it.

Now let’s put two common situations onto the above.

#1 There are no opposing team players pressuring the ball (let’s say for argument’s sake, no attackers within twenty yards of the ball) when the keeper misses the ball and chases it down and handles the ball.

#2 An opposing team player is pressureing the defender and chases after the ball. The attacker is five yards from the ball when the keeper misses the ball. The attacker continues to chase the ball and would have reached the ball first if not for the keeper diving to handle the ball.

If we read the position paper on the Obvious goal-scoring opportunity denied (the 4 Ds), it states that all four elements MUST be present and must be obvious for a send off to happen. In both #1 & #2 above we can say that element #1 (number of defenders) & element #2 (distance to goal) have been met. Now we get to element #3 (distance to ball) & element #4 (direction of play). If we look at element #3, it states that “the attacker must have been close enough to the ball at the time of the foul to have continued playing the ball.” This statement leads me to believe that an attacker must be making a play for the ball and if an attacker is not within twenty yards of the ball (as in #1 above) then the attacker is not “close enough to the ball to have continued playing the ball”. Therefore, it seems that the correct call for the referee to make for #1 above is a simple handling by the keeper from a pass back.

If we now look at #2 above and element #3 of the 4 Ds, we have an attacker chasing the ball to within five yards of the keeper and then chasing the ball after the keeper misses the ball. This seems to meet element #3 of the 4 Ds. Element #4 of the 4 Ds is also meet due to the referee determining that the ball would have gone into the goal if not touched by the keeper and the attacking player chasing the ball would be moving toward the goal. In this situation, it seems that the correct call would be a send off for the keeper.

Do you agree with this interpretation of the 4 Ds or has the referee community changed their thinking to, any ball kicked to the keeper from his teammates and the keeper handles the ball, and from the keepers position when he handles the ball, the ball would have ended up in the goal that this is now a send off?

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
There has been no change of thinking anywhere. The reason the goalkeeper cannot be punished for using his hands in the penalty area is because he is specifically exempted from punishment under Send-Off reason 4: “this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area.” That applies not only to reason 4, but to reason 5 as well.

Higher up in Law 12 it also states: A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following four offenses: – tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball
– holds an opponent
– spits at an opponent
– handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)

The goalkeeper’s JOB is to handle the ball. Why would we punish him/her for doing what is supposed to be done?

And, finally, this answer is clearly grounded in the “4 Ds” memorandum. Indeed, the “4 Ds” memorandum requires this answer.


CALL SORTING: THE WAY TO GO
Your question:
I am a grade 8 referee upgrading to 7, and hopefully to 6 next year. I am looking for helpful ideas on applying the rule that says a foul is committed if when tackling for the ball the player makes contact with the opposing player before making contact with the ball. What are the playing conditions when this constitutes a foul?

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
This foul occurs when a player attempts to tackle for the ball but, instead of taking the ball directly, makes contact first with the opponent’s foot or leg and then takes the ball. This often occurs when the tackler has not settled him- or herself before attempting the tackle. The International F. A. Board’s intent with this foul is part of their general campaign against fouls committed while tackling from behind and/or which endanger the safety of an opponent.

Both referees and players must remember that stating the rule this way doesn’t mean that contact with the opponent AFTER making contact with the ball is therefore legal. It all depends on how the player does it.


“SWEARING”
Your question:
In soccer can you get a yellow card for swearing in the game?

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
“Swearing” unconnected with completing an affidavit is red card misconduct if the referee determines that the language or gestures are offensive, insulting, or abusive. The referee might decide to caution for the language if he decides that it doesn’t fit into one of these categories but it is instead unsporting behavior (bringing the game into disrepute) or was committed to express dissent with an official’s decision.


KICKING THE BALL IN THE ‘KEEPER’S POSSESSION
Your question:
In a recent U-10 game, there was a scramble for the ball in front of the goal. The keeper, while lying on the ground, reached out to the side and put one hand on top of the ball so that the ball was sandwiched between the ground and the keepers hand. A split second later, an opposing player arrived and kicked the ball from this position into the net. Is this a goal?

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
The goalkeeper establishes possession of the ball if he holds it down with only one finger. From that moment he has approximately six seconds to release the ball into play. Any player who attempts to play the ball while it is in the goalkeeper’s decision is preventing the ‘keeper from releasing the ball and thus infringes Law 12. If the player kicks at the goalkeeper’s hand to gain the ball, the player has committed a direct free kick foul and could possibly be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. It the kicker makes contact with the goalkeeper’s hand, he could be sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card.


UNUSUAL INFRINGEMENT OF LAW 14
Your question:
At the taking of a penalty kick, a teammate of the kicker encroaches and the kicker plays the ball forward to that teammate. Does this result in an indirect free kick to the defense?

The LOTG and the advice to referees only reference an indirect free kick for the defense if the ball rebounds from the goalposts or the GK and goes to a encroaching teammate of the kicker.

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
There is no concrete direction on this from the International F. A. Board or FIFA. Nevertheless, it seems clear that their intent is that play be stopped, the teammate of the kicker admonished or cautioned as appropriate, and play restarted with an indirect free kick.


GOALKEEPER “HANDLING”; PLAYER RE-ENTERS WITHOUT PERMISSION
Your question:
1. The Player intentional passes the ball back to his own goalkeeper who fumbles the ball with his feet and to prevent a goal the goalkeeper uses his hands to stop the ball from entering his own goal. What do you do? (Is it unsporting behaviour…caution….re-start with IDK?)

2. The Player (#12) is sent off to adjust his equipment. #12 then returns WITHOUT THE REFEREE’S PREMISSION, and is immediately given a goal scoring opportunity. #12 is then violently tackled from behind by his opponent while in the penalty area. WHAT DO YOU DO??

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
1. Indirect free kick. Why would one look for misconduct here? It is a simple violation of Law 12.

2. Caution #12 for re-entering the field without the referee’s permission and show him the yellow card. As the referee was unable to stop play for the caution before the violent tackle from behind, the opponent who tackled #12 violently, and thus endangered #12’s safety, must be sent off for serious foul play (if they were competing for the ball) or violent conduct (if they were not) and shown the red card.


OFFSIDE
Your question:
The attacking team is advancing towards the goal and have crossed the midfield line. Attacking Midfielder has the ball and passes to a forward clearly in an off sides position just forward of the sweeper. The sweeper intercepts the ball and in doing so kicks the ball out of bounds. The referee awarded the ball to the attacking team ruling that there was no offsides. The defending team believed that as the attacking team benefited from the off sides position should of been awarded the ball.

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
And just how did the attacking team benefit? Did they score a goal?

The referee must weigh a number of things in deciding to call offside. First is offside position. Then comes who last played the ball, whether teammate or opponent. Then comes involvement in play, meaning whether or not the player was interfering with play, interfering with an opponent, or gained an advantage by being in the offside position. The opinion of the defending team does not appear anywhere in the equation. In this situation, the referee clearly decided there was no involvement in play by the attacking midfielder. Therefore, there was no offside.

On the other hand, the referee (despite what he actually did) COULD also have decided that the attacker in question was involved in active play and given offside. What we need to avoid here is the assumption on the part of anyone that, just because a defender happened to kick the ball, offside cannot be given in a situation like this (i.e., attacker clearly in offside position, ball clearly played to him but intercepted and then possession lost immediately thereafter).


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
In this procedure, the goalkeeper being an eligible player, must he take a penalty kick before any player can take a second kick. I suggest that he does but I am confused with the last paragraph in the Laws of The Game.

Before the start of kicks from the penalty mark the referee shall ensure that only an equal number of players from each team remain within the centre circle and they shall take the kicks.

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
Yes, all players eligible for kicks from the penalty mark must kick before any member of this group kicks a second time.


‘KEEPER DOWN