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2005 Part 2

June 25, 2005

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.

Categories: Website

2005 Part 1

March 25, 2005

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.

Categories: Website

2004 Part 3

September 25, 2004

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.

Categories: Website

2004 Part 2

June 25, 2004

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.”

Categories: Website

2003 Part 2

June 25, 2003

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, TOO BAD; INTERFERING WITH AN OPPONENT OR PLAY
Your question:
Situation 1: A blue team player attempts to kick the ball into the goal, and kicks the ball directly to the goal keeper. As the keeper attempts to catch the ball, another blue team player jumps up and attempts to head the ball into the goal (missing the ball completely) knocking the keeper to ground. The keeper manages to deflect the ball, but while on the ground, a goal is scored by another blue player. Is this a goal?

Situation 2: Can a player in an offside position interfere with play if he is just standing still on the weak side of the goal keeper? For example, the keeper is trying to maintain a defensive position to defend the goal from the strong side of the field. However, an opponent, in an offside position, is standing within 10 yards on the opposite side of the keeper. The keeper is well aware of the opponent, is distracted by the offside player, and moves out of position to defend against the offside opponent. Is this an offside offense?

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
The goalkeeper has no more rights than any other player — other than to be able to play the ball with his hands within his own penalty area.

1. If, in the opinion of the referee, the goalkeeper was knocked down in the course of play through no fault of an opponent, then no foul has been committed. That would appear to be the case in the situation you describe. Yes, this is a goal.

2. Goalkeepers should know better than to mark any player. The important element in scoring is the opponent with the ball, not an opponent without the ball in an offside position. The referee should only decide that a player is interfering with play or with an opponent if that player ‹ in the opinion of the referee, not in the opinion of the opponents ‹ truly interferes with play or with an opponent in the area of active play. If so, then he should be called offside. Mere presence anywhere on the field should not be considered a distraction for the opponents.


REFEREE CODE OF ETHICS
Your question:
I may be totally imagining a rule, but isn’t there a rule about not being the Center or the A/R at your own child’s game or is it just an unwritten code of ethics?

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
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.


PUSHING/HOLDING; IMPEDING; URL FOR “ADVICE”
Your question:
1. Player A has possession of the ball and Player B is attempting to regain possession. Player A keeps the ball on the far side of player B and has an extended locked arm towards Player B so as to maximize space and maintain possession. Can this be considered a foul as long as the arm is fully extended and no pushing (a little leaning but no bending of the arm as in a push) on Player A’s part is observed?

2. In my many years coaching I have seen obstruction calls for some questionable scenarios. Can you please describe the proper use of an obstruction call. My concern is that I have seen referees call a player whom I would term “shielding the ball” as obstructing play. So I’m a bit confused as to what is and is not acceptable.

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
1. If we were playing the football with the pointy-ended ball, this would be fine. Unfortunately for player A, we are dealing with soccer, and his action in this situation is not permitted. The referee should stop play for pushing (or, depending on the circumstances, possibly holding) by player A and restart with a direct free kick for the opponents from the place where the infringement occurred.

2. “Obstruction” is now known as “impeding.” An excellent answer to your question will be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” section 12.14, IMPEDING AN OPPONENT:
QUOTE
“Impeding the progress of an opponent” means moving on the field so as to obstruct, interfere with, or block the path of an opponent. Impeding can include crossing directly in front of the opponent or running between him and the ball so as to form an obstacle with the aim of delaying his advance. There will be many occasions during a game when a player will come between an opponent and the ball, but in the majority of such instances, this is quite natural and fair. It is often possible for a player not playing the ball to be in the path of an opponent and still not be guilty of impeding.

The offense requires that the ball not be within playing distance or not capable of being played, and physical contact between the player and the opponent is normally absent. If physical contact occurs, the referee should, depending on the circumstances, consider instead the possibility that a charging infringement has been committed (direct free kick) or that the opponent has been fairly charged off the ball (indirect free kick). However, nonviolent physical contact may occur while impeding the progress of an opponent if, in the opinion of the referee, this contact was an unavoidable consequence of the impeding (due, for example, to momentum).
END OF QUOTE

The Advice to Referees may be downloaded from this URL:

http://www.ussoccer.com/referees/default.sps?iType=220&icustompageid=122.

It’s the Laws of the Game page with a link to the following page:

http://www.ussoccer.com/templates/includes/services/referees/pdfs/Advice2001.pdf


BALL PRESSURE
Your question:
What is the correct pressure for Size 5, 4 & 3 Soccer balls?

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
All balls used in games played under the Laws of the Game must be of a pressure equal to 0.6 – 1.1 atmosphere (600 – 1100 g/cm 2 ) at sea level (8.5 lbs/sq in 15.6 lbs/sq in).

For those who have forgotten, U-13s and older play with a number 5 ball, which has a circumference of 27-28 inches and must weigh 14-16 ounces at the beginning of the game. U-10s-12s play with a number 4 ball, which has a circumference of 25-26 inches and must weigh between 11 and 13 ounces at the beginning of the game. U-9s and younger play with a number 3 ball, which has a circumference of 23-24 inches and must weigh between 11 and 12 ounces at the beginning of the game.


JUGGLING ‘KEEPER ASKS . . .
Your question:
In a recent adult game, I, the keeper, came out on an on rushing opponent as the ball was bouncing above our heads. I reached up and knocked the ball away from my opponent, without touching him, and then caught the ball on the next touch. Is this legal by FIFA standards and if not what type of foul is awarded to my opponent??? Please help—-Juggling Keeper!!!!!

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
The answer is clearly and specifically stated in the Laws of the Game. Law 12, International F. A. Board Decision 2 tells us: “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.”

So, if you did not deliberately play the ball to this particular place — and the referee agrees that this was not deliberate — you should not be punished. If the referee believes that you deliberately played the ball to a particular spot, then you have “sinned” and the referee will award an indirect free kick to your opponents.


WHY DO WE CAUTION UNANNOUNCED ‘KEEPER CHANGE?
Your question:
My question is regarding the need to caution players involved in a goalie change where the referee is not notified (especially when this takes place at half time). I don’t understand the severity of this and have a difficult time explaining to the players “why” they are being carded.

Although I do my best to officiate games in accordance with not only the rules of the game, but also the spirit in which they are written, this is one ruling that I “disagree with.”

Can you offer me some further guidance as to why this rule is in place? I want to be able to pass this on to the players and coaches, should the need arise again. I am a veteran referee of 18 years and have been playing soccer since 1972. Thank you for your assistance!

USSF answer (May 7, 2003):
This is a complex question. The rationale for the rule is based in part on the fact that the goalkeeper is the only player allowed to play the ball with his hands. The referee needs to know who this player is to manage the game properly.

The authority for the caution of both the former and current goalkeepers is Law 3: Anytime the goalkeeper is replaced without the required conditions being met (stoppage of play AND notification to referee), the Law demands that the players involved be cautioned, but only after waiting for the next stoppage. This establishes that whoever wears the funny shirt IS the goalkeeper, even if they got that way illegally and getting that way illegally is cautionable.

This authority is further emphasized in the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, written by the International Football Association Board (FIFA) and published for the IFAB by FIFA. it can be found under Law 3, Q&A 17:
“17. A player changes places with the goalkeeper during half-time without informing the referee. The new goalkeeper then touches the ball with his hand 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 goes next out of play.”

The Q&A emphasizes that, even when this occurs during an obvious stoppage, notification of the referee remains a critical element.

See also the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” section 8.3 PLAYER COUNT:
“Count the number of players in both teams before the beginning of each half and after any substitution. The intelligent referee’s signal to start the second half is a tacit acknowledgment that the persons on the field are players and the persons wearing a goalkeeper jersey are the goalkeepers — so long as the persons themselves are not illegal and the team is fielding the proper number of players. This may not be possible during a match played strictly in accordance with the requirements of Law 3 ‹ in other words, most matches other than youth games. During such a match, if the referee discovers that a player has changed places with the goalkeeper during the halftime break without informing the referee, under the letter of the Law the referee should allow play to continue and then caution both players for unsporting behavior when the ball next goes out of play.”

We might add that the referee, by accepting the game assignment and coming to the field, also accepts the rules under which the game is played. There can be no selection of which rule will be enforced and which will not.


PLEASE KEEP UP WITH THE LAWS . . . PLEASE!
Your question:
I am a referee, player, ands coach. My questions involve refereeing, however. First of all, I would like to know what are the new responsibilities of the Assistant referees that were just added for this year. Also, I would like to know why a specific reference to time was removed from the six-second rule for keepers.

USSF answer (May 7, 2003):
There has been no change in the duties of the assistant referee for several years now, nor has there been any change in the six-second rule. The goalkeeper is still punished if he takes more than six seconds while controlling the ball with his hands before releasing it from his possession. Is it possible that you are thinking of the rules for another competition?


WHEN MAY THE ‘KEEPER NOT HANDLE THE BALL?
Your question:
When can a goalie not use his/her hands in the keeper’s box?

USSF answer (May 7, 2003):
The goalkeeper may not use his/her hands in the penalty area — is that what you mean by “keeper’s box”? — when the ball has been deliberately kicked to him/her or thrown in by a teammate, or directly after releasing the ball into play from his/her hands.


TEAMMATE KICKS THE BALL TOWARD ‘KEEPER
Your question:
If a Defender Kicks the Ball away from the attacker over to the Keeper that is in front of the Goal, can the Keeper pick it up or does she have to Kick it. and is that considered a off sides ? U12

USSF answer (May 7, 2003):
If the teammate deliberately kicked the ball to a place where the goalkeeper could play it, then the goalkeeper will infringe the Law by playing it with her hands. However, she may play the ball in any way that does not involve handling (e.g., show could kick it, head it, etc.). If the teammate miskicks the ball and it goes to the ‘keeper, she may play it in any way she wishes.

I am a bit befuddled that you think to connect this with offside. There is no way in which a teammate deliberately kicking the ball to her goalkeeper can make another teammate — and certainly not an opponent — offside.


GAME REPORT FORMS
Your question:
The current Referee Report form provided at ussoccer.com is a piece of garbage. It is intended to be completed on a computer and then printed. How many referees carry a laptop to games? A printer?

I run a youth soccer tournament for 300 teams who play 600 games in 4 days. When is a form, suitable for completion by hand at the game site, going to be provided?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
You can order referee report forms from the National Program for Referee Development office and pay for them. Either that or print out the form on the website and copy it. Using either of those ways, the referees will be able to meet your needs.


REFEREES MUST ALLOW MEDICALERT BRACELETS!!!
Your question:
My son was made to take off his medic alert necklace during a soccer game, can they do that?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
No referee should refuse to allow a medicalert bracelet to be worn if it is properly taped.

Please accept the apology of the National Program for Referee Development. This is something that should not have happened. I have cc’ed the State Referee Administrator for [your state], who will take steps to ensure that it does not happen again.


HOW MUCH WIND IS TOO MUCH WIND?
Your question:
Is there a guideline as to what constitutes sufficient wind to warrant the postponement of a game?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
Use the old stand-by, referee common sense.


WHEN IS IT DISSENT?
Your question:
I maintain if I hear a negative comment, it is dissent, whether it was spoken directly to me or not,and the fact that “I was talking to him!!” doesn’t matter. What is your opinion? Thanks for the great service you provide. Chris Radus

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
The intelligent referee will hear only what he or she needs to hear, not everything that is said on the field. If the referee “hears” a comment that could affect game control, then it must be dealt with. If it is not a matter for game control, then it didn’t happen.

You might wish to read through the recent memorandum on Misconduct Involving Language/Gestures, dated March 14, 2003. Although it is focused on abusive, insulting, and offensive language rather than dissent, many of the principles are the same. You will find the memo on this site.


SPECTATING AND REFEREE CODE OF ETHICS
Your question:
I am a referee, and a member of Sam’s Army. Is it permissible under the code of ethics to join in on some of the more colorful cheers that are directed at the referee when a call does not go ‘our way’? I stay quiet…. and just smile…. during them.

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
There is no way we can give you a good answer on this question.


CALL SORTING: THE WAY TO GO
Your question:
The culprit involved in the question entitled “WORLD’S OLDEST SOCCER TRICK REVISITED” of April 30, 2003 was a goalkeeper who caught the ball in his jersey in his own PA. As such he cannot be guilty of handling the ball illegally. But how about a field player? Would this action be a handling foul (simultaneous with the misconduct) if the culprit could be culpable of a handling foul at the location of the incident? If not, how does this case differ from a player who uses his shinguard to play the ball? IFAB says that the shinguard is considered an extension of the hand and using that extension is handling the ball. Why wouldn’t the jersey likewise be considered an extension of the hand?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
The player could be considered to have used his hands to control the ball and thus the referee could choose to punish him for the foul as well as for the misconduct. But the intelligent referee would observe all the spectators and other players laughing their heads off and ponder the wisdom of punishing anything more than the unsporting behavior. The intelligent referee does not look for ways to put his neck into the noose.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION
Your question:
I am confused about the rule covering the GK and bouncing the ball to himself (like dribbling a basketball). My interpretation of Law 12 leads me to believe that this is a violation of the law, and there should be an IDK for the opposing team. However, I have had coaches and other referees tell me this is called “parrying” the ball, and it is legal, according to decision 2 of the FIFA board. I believe the GKs in the MLS do bounce the ball while they are moving to the top of the PA.

I looked up “parrying” in the dictionary and it means “to ward off, evade or turn aside”, which to me clearly refers to the GK blocking or punching shots. Please advise. Thanks.

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
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.

Parrying the ball — another form of possession — is what happens when the goalkeeper plays the ball with his hands to a place where he can safely play it again with his feet, 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. [NOTE: See another answer below.]


TRIFLING OR NOT?
Your question:
I recently did U12 boys game. It was a well played game with little to no need for me to stop play for any reason. The following day, I received an Email from one of the coaches informing me that he thought I had done a good job. However, he felt that I was a bit lax when calling “bad throw-ins.” He thought that both teams were guilty of clearly lifting their back foot off of the ground when executing a throw-in. Actually, I made no calls for technical infringements on throw-ins. I wrote back to him enclosing the copied words from 15.5 Trifling Infringements of Law 15. Along with my own words shown here: “I feel that lax is an incorrect assessment of my performance. It is constantly impressed upon referees not to disrupt the flow of the game by making trifling or doubtful calls. None of the throw-ins were that poorly done to warrant being addressed nor was there any advantage gained by either team through lifting of the back foot. In the opinion of the referee, it was a well played and exciting game from the opening kick-off. Whistling for imperceptible trifling infractions would have detracted from the flow of this game.”

As far as the game goes, I feel as though I had done what was expected of me as a referee. But after sending the Email, I began thinking of how my reply might be interpreted. I began to wonder about not having made the calls. Suppose one on those “bad throw-ins” resulted in a clean break away and a subsequent goal then the technical infringement most certainly would not be trifling. Especially to the defensive team. In this made up scenario, had the lifting of the back foot been called then there would not have been a resulting goal. When is trifling truly trifling? It seems as though true judgment of trifling can only be made in hindsight.

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
You would seem to have called the throw-ins correctly. 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. That said, please talk to the players about proper procedure. They are not permitted to lift their feet during the throw-in.

A word of advice: Never let coaches influence your decisions, before, during, or well after the game has concluded.


Law 13
Your question:
I just need a few clarifications about Law 13 since the books we get are the same ones posted on fifa.com, which are an abridged version. In the taking of a free kick inside the penalty area (such as a goal kick) the team taking the kick may stand in the penalty area, but the opposing team may not go in until the ball is in play. Now, let’s say that only the GK is in the penalty area to take the kick, but the kick is played softly and a player from both teams are running in to get the ball that is still in the penalty area. If player from the team that is taking the kick touches it, the kick is re-taken, but if the opposing team player touches it, is it an indirect kick from where the infringement occurred? Now let’s say that the GK miss-hit and ran after the ball to stop it before it went out of the PA, would he receive a yellow card for unsporting behavior since he is using trickery with an IFK restart, or would the goal kick just be re-taken? And finally, is there a more formal law book besides the basic laws of the game found at FIFA’s website?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
The Laws of the Game posted on the FIFA website are not abridged, nor are they different from the Laws of the Game anywhere else. You may be thinking of the rules for various competitions unaffiliated with the world game of soccer, such as those for games played in high school or college, which are crammed with superfluous information.

As to your other questions, you will find the answers within Law 13. Please try reading it again. It is appended here for ease of access.
LAW 13 – Free Kicks
//The Law was quoted in full in the response to the questioner. No need for repetition here.//


OFFSIDE
Your question:
I have only been refereeing for a few years and have not come across this situation until yesterday. I was the AR at a U16 flight 1 match. The attacking team (white) had a player clearly in the offside position in front of the goal. The defending team (blue) had gotten possession of the ball and attempted to clear it out of the PA. The ball struck another defending player on the blue team and then went to the white player in the offside position. He then turned and put the ball in the goal. I thought the player was offside and raised the flag, as I had been taught that any time a player gains an unfair advantage by being in an offside position, it should called. The center ref explained to me that basically if a defending player initiates the play and the ball is either deflected off another defender, or accidentally played to the offside player, that they are not offside.

So, not that anyone would intentionally give the ball to the opposing team on purpose, but if a defender at any time passes the ball to a player on the attacking team in an offside position, they will never be offside?

Is this correct and how do you find this in the rule book? I was not the only person, or ref who did not know or understand this ruling. If this is indeed the correct ruling, it should be clearly written in the rule book and maybe even have an example or two for those of us who do not understand it. The center ref and both of the AR’s looked in the “Laws of the game” book after the match and there was nothing stating this kind of a situation.

Please help me better understand the law, so I can in turn be a better ref.

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
You need look no further than Law 11, Offside, which tells us that a player in an offside position is only penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by ONE OF HIS TEAM, he is involved in play. If the ball is played by one or two opponents (who had full possession of the ball), then a player in an offside position can never be called offside.


CAN THE SUBBED IN PLAYER TAKE A PENALTY KICK?
Your question:
A player and a new referee who played in a State Cup (U13B?) game this past weekend asked me the following question? He was fouled and injured in the penalty area by a slide tackle. He left the field due to his injury and was replaced. His coach wanted the new player to take the penalty kick and the coach from the other team argued against it, stating that only players on the field at the time could take it. The CR did not allow the new player to take the kick. Another player took the kick and the ball hit the post and was cleared by the other team. I did not see anything in the LOTG other than rules about going to PKs after the game has ended to determine a winner. In which case only those on the field at that time can participate. It appears that the CR was incorrect in this ruling. If there anything in the LOTG or ATR that would clarify this?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
The referee erred in two ways: First, he did not know the proper application of the Law. Second, he took the advice of a coach on the proper application of the Law. Any player on the kicking team may take the penalty kick.

It is likely that the coach was thinking of a high school game. High school rules state that a player entering the field due to an injury substitution at a penalty kick cannot take the kick.


STRIKING OR KICKING?
Your question:
What differentiates a kicking foul from a striking foul? In the thread entitled “KICKING THE BALL AT AN OPPONENT” of April 22, 2003, presuming that the referee decided that the offense was deliberate, is the foul a striking foul or a kicking foul? Where would the restart occur — at the location of the victim or culprit?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
Striking is the use of the hand or an object, such as the ball, to smite another player. Kicking is the use of the foot, and the foot alone, to kick another player. The offense in the item you cite is, as suggested there, striking. If such a foul is called, the restart would be a direct free kick (or penalty kick) from the point of contact or where the contact would have been had the aim been better or the victim less agile.


SHINGUARDS
Your question:
What is the interpretation of, or the USSF stance on shinguards. The Laws of the Game only state that they provide a “Reasonable amount of protection”. What does that mean? Some of the more skilled players always try to wear as little as possible. Is there any “official” standard to follow?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
The first and only standard available to referees is the admonition in Law 5 that the referee must ensure player safety. As both the IFAB and FIFA have stated, soccer is a tough, competitive, contact sport in which people can be hurt. The referee’s duty to ensure player safety safety cannot extend to making the sport harmless.

With regard to shinguards, the concept of safety suggests that the greatest portion possible of the player’s shin should be covered by the shinguard. In fact the shinguard is intended to be worn under the sock and there are various reasons for this — it ensures that the shinguard stays covered, cushions any contact between the leg and other players (where the hard material in the shinguard could scrape or abrade), and helps in keeping the shinguard on the leg. A sensible guideline for shinguards is that they must be worn properly, they must not have been altered, and they must be recognizably manufactured as shinguards. Alterations of the shinguard to make it more protective are acceptable, while alterations to make the shinguard less protective are not acceptable.

The U. S. Soccer Federation guideline on shinguards is precisely the same as that given by FIFA, who polices the enforcement of the Laws promulgated by the International F. A. Board (IFAB), the folks who write them: Law 5 instructs the referee to ensure that the players’ equipment meets the requirements of Law 4. Law 4 prescribes that a player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewelry). In other words, it is up to the referee to ensure that the equipment used in the game he officiates meets these requirements. As soon as the IFAB and FIFA provide firmer guidelines, the U. S. Soccer Federation will ensure that they are implemented in the United States. There will most likely never be a black-and-white table of measurements and specifications for shinguards.


NO CHANGE DUE IN THE OFFSIDE LAW
Your question:
I have been hearing a lot about an anticipated adjustment in the definition of offside. Is it true, and if yes, when? My understanding is that the contemplated new requirement will include the definition that the second to last player must be clearly offside by at least one full body width with daylight showing between the attacker and the last defender. Please let me know if any of this is factual.

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
The information is incorrect. You need to caution your informants about the possible psychological and physiological consequences of the illegal substances they have been using — or you need to acquire a better class of informants.


LOST SHOE/SUB AT HALF-TIME
Your question:
I had a referee tell my team that if they were playing and their shoe came off they had to immediately leave the field and not touch the ball again or they would recieve a yellow card???? Also the same referee gave our coach a yellow card for changing keepers at half-time and not telling her… what is the law on goalkeeper changes, I know you must inform the ref of a change in the flow of the game but….? Any clarification would be greatly appreciated (our team is a U11 boys team).

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
Lost shoe: Normally the act of losing a shoe on the field of play is neither an unsafe nor an unfair action by the player who does this. The player need not leave the field to replace the shoe and should certainly not be punished by the referee unless he or she does not replace the shoe as quickly as possible.

Caution for not informing the referee of a substitution at half-time: First and most importantly, if the referee knew that there had been a substitution for the goalkeeper, then the intent of the Law has been satisfied. Should the referee have been “informed” ahead of time? Sure, but so what? Refereeing is not a game of “gotcha”! Second, even if the Law were to be applied strictly in this case, the referee’s only recourse for an illegal substitution of any sort (not just the goalkeeper) is to caution the players involved, not the coach (even though, ultimately, it was probably the fault of the coach that this happened). The Laws of the Game do not permit the showing of cards to coaches.


REFEREES ARE INFALLIBLE — NOT!
Your question:
I was at a game recently where a player on our team was attacking the opposition with the ball…..made his run into the penalty box…..but was fouled by the defender. The ref blew his whistle…..then signalled offside at first….how our kid could be offside and he is the one with the ball I have no idea. Then the ref gave us an indirect freekick inside the box….because he said our kid was fouled by the defender who charged him.

We scored….but correct me if I am wrong………if a player with the ball is fouled by the defender…in the penalty area…is that not a penalty or did the rules of the game changed during that moment.

The ref was not great…..but that call puzzled the heck out of me……care to explain that one.

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
As we have admitted here in the past, not all referees are perfect. Indeed, as the old English saying has it, the perfect referee’s grandfather has not yet been born.

As you gave no clear indication of what happened we can only assume — always the possibility for error in such cases — that the players with the ball were attacking the opponents’ goal. In any case, the only answer possible is that the restart depends on what type of foul was committed. If the foul was one punishable by a direct free kick, then the restart is a direct free kick (penalty kick if committed by the defending team within their own penalty area). If the foul was one punishable by an indirect free kick, then the restart is an indirect free kick.

And, yes, it is possible for the player with the ball to be offside — if the player was in an offside position when the ball was played to him by a teammate. [NOTE: The questioner later stated that the player had dribbled the ball all the way from his team's side of the halfway line.]


PLAYER RETURN TO FIELD
Your question:
I play for a youth team in a local league. Our team barely has enough players on its roster to put 11 players on the field. At one game, we only had 10 people show up so we played with all 10 on the field (the other team had more than enough players and they played with 11). My coach and I asked the referee what the procedures are if one of our players became too winded during the game and had to go off the field of play in order to catch his breath. The referee told us that the player is allowed to leave the field at any time during play provided that he received the referee’s permission. However, the referee then said that the player must wait until a stoppage of play to come back on the field.

I am also a referee. It has always been my understanding that if a player is simply requesting to come back on the field after temporarily leaving the field, then he can be allowed back on in the middle of play provided he has the referee’s permission. This referee said that the player must wait until a stoppage in order to come back on. I don’t believe this is true because it is not a substitution and there is no equipment correction or blood to inspect. Please let me know if I am correct in thinking that players who are temporarily off the field in these circumstances can come back on the field in the middle of play with the referee’s permission. Thanks

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
Your understanding would appear to be without imperfection, young referee. And you described the options very nicely, too.


PLAYING THE BALL WHILE ON THE GROUND; INJURED PLAYER
Your question:
In my opinion the #1 job of the ref on the field during play is to prevent injury. These are kids playing a game.

Question #1
In the past it seemed that ANY play of the ball while a player was on the ground was called and a free kick was awarded. Now we are seeing it ignored. What should be the call?

Very often there are players in close enough proximity (1-3ft max) that the down player might trip or kick another player or get THEIR hands stepped on and possibly broken as players converge on the losse ball.

Dangerous play is a judgement call but…(remember the old saying that if a foul wasn’t called….it wasn’t a foul)…..a dangerous play might only be dangerous AFTER someone is seriously injured! If there is no injury it was’t dangerous….WRONG! If the referee lets the play go….the injured player pays for his/her error in judgement.

Question #2
Can you clearly describe the action that should/must be taken by a ref during play when a player is injured and down on the field. I’ve seen OBVIOUSLY, seriously injured players (you could hear bones crack) go down while a ref lets play continue waiting for a change of ball control. That is nuts!

Parents scream at them to stop play (when the injury is obvious to everyone and it could be for either team) and they frequently let play continue until change of control.

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
1. Your first question was answered in March 2003 (and in 2001)
USSF answer (March 21, 2003):
[This answer is a repeat of an answer of October 10, 2001.]
There is nothing illegal, by itself, about playing the ball while on the ground. It becomes the technical 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.

If this is not the case (for example, the player had no opponent nearby), then there is no violation of the Law. If the referee decides that a dangerous play violation has occurred, the restart must be an indirect free kick where the play occurred (subject to the special rules that apply to restarts in the goal area).

By the way, even if a dangerous play violation has been called, the referee should never verbalize it as “playing on the ground” since there is no such foul in the Laws of the Game.

2. And your second question was answered back in November 2002.
USSF answer (November 13, 2002):
The referee’s first concern in any game must be the safety of the players. This is especially important at the younger ages, as players must be taught to respect not only the Laws, but also their fellow players. There is no particular amount of time to be observed before stopping the game for a truly serious injury. The referee must exercise common sense in this, as in all other aspects of refereeing.

Stopping the game too quickly, especially at the urging of players, parents, and coaches, is a major problem in youth soccer — in trying to “play it safe” in the case of injuries (i.e., stopping play despite the likelihood that the injury is not serious), referees attempt to avoid the consequences of Law 5. Players and parents and coaches may yell as much as they like, but if they enter the field without the referee’s permission, they risk disciplinary proceedings and abandonment of the match. If the coach has already entered the field, the intelligent referee will take no immediate action on a first occurrence, but will simply remind the coach that he must have the referee’s permission to enter the field. Neither parents nor coaches are normally permitted on the field at any time, but the intelligent referee will often let such things go in youth games by understanding the motives which impel the coach or parent to rush onto the field if they think Johnny or Susie is hurt.)

If the referee believes that the goalkeeper is seriously injured, it is common practice to allow the examination and subsequent treatment of the goalkeeper to take place on the field of play. In other words, the goalkeeper does not have to leave the game. If play was stopped solely for the injury, it must be restarted by a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped — keeping in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8.

Under the strict interpretation of the Law and at higher levels of the game, when play is stopped for a serious injury, the referee authorizes only qualified persons (no more than one or two doctors or trainers, plus the stretcher crew, if available — but NO coaches) to enter the field to ascertain the type of injury and to arrange the player¹s safe and swift removal from the field. No one else is allowed on the field of play, but there is no restriction against players going to the touchline to discuss various matters with team officials, as long as the players do not leave the field. The players must be prepared to resume immediately when the referee has ensured that the injured player is safely off the field of play.

The only player who is normally not removed from the field for treatment of injury is the goalkeeper.

This is an excellent opportunity to mention one of the recent changes in the Law: a seriously injured player required to leave the field cannot return until after play resumes (if the player was not substituted in accordance with youth rules).

NOTE: For further information on dealing with serious injury, see the Additional Instructions for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials that follow Law 17 in the Laws of the Game.


FAILURE TO RETIRE
Your question:
If a team decides takes a free kick while the defenders are within 10 yards of the ball and the kick is intercepted by a defender, is it correct that no action is required by the referee, as it was the team’s decision to take the kick? This would differ if the referee had signaled the defenders to remain 10 yards from the ball but they subsequently encroached before the kick was taken. The restart would then be to retake the free kick after cautioning the defenders for failure to maintain the required distance from the free kick.

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
Much depends on what you mean by “intercepted” — if it means that the defender moved to take control of the ball from within 10 yards, then the defender did violate the Law and should be cautioned and shown the yellow card. If it means that the ball was kicked directly to the defender within 10 yards, then, “oh, well.”


EARLY SEND-OFF
Your question:
What adviCe do you give a referee who is put in a situation early in the match where his decision will mostly likely decide the eventual winner of the game. In a high school soccer match involving two of the top teams, one team’s star GK struck an opponent in his own penalty area in the games 5th minute. This is what happened again the games 5th minute. A shot was taken on goal, and a forward ran following the shot in the hopes the play would lead to a loose ball in front of goal. The GK cleanly caught the ball and quickly ran out from goal toward the onrushing forward.   As the forward and the GK ran past each other the GK allowed his elbow to hit the forward in the ribs and due to the momentum it was a very hard blow. The forward appeared stunned but took the blow well and needed no stoppage in play. There was no doubt the GK purposely struck the forward and tried make it look like an accidental collision during hard fast play.

The way I see this play the Referee has about one or two seconds to decide to:
1. Send off the GK for serious foul play and award a PK
2. Award a PK and caution the GK for unsportsmanlike conduct.
3. Award a PK
4. Let play continue

No matter what the referee decides it’s a huge decision for the 5th minute and I would really appreciate any input.

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
Well, Jack Taylor, the former English FIFA Referee, had no problem sending off a player in the first minute of the 1974 World Cup final match. If only the rest of us had that kind of courage, the soccer world would be a better place.

The referee’s thought must not be what the effect of his or her decision will be, but what the effect of not dealing with violent conduct or serious foul play so early in the game will be. In most cases, it would be disastrous not to do something decisive.

The correct restart in this case would likely be a penalty kick, awarded before the other team even touched the ball.


PARRYING THE BALL — NO MORE QUESTIONS ON THIS, PLEASE
Your question:
The ball is sailing easily toward the goal where the goalkeeper is standing ready and waiting. An opponent is giving a half-hearted chase while a defender is off to one side in the clear. Instead of catching the ball, that’s just inches above his head, the goalkeeper shouts something and tries to push the ball over to his defender. The attempted push fails badly and merely pops the ball up and over the oncoming opponent’s head. The opponent turns to face the falling ball and shields the goalkeeper from getting to the descending ball – which seems to be playable again by the goalkeeper if it weren’t for the action of the opponent.

Question 1: Does the goalkeeper have the right to play the ball without interference because he parried the ball and thereby set the six-second count of possession – or is it deemed a released ball that’s open for all to play?

Question 2: The parry is successful and the ball is directed toward the defender (a distance that might or might not be beyond a second play by the goalkeeper before the ball would touch the teammate or the ground) but it’s intercepted by the opponent while still in the air. The six-second rule of possession applies or does not apply here?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
By parrying the ball, the goalkeeper has done two things: (1) established possession and (2) given up possession. The ball is now free for all to play. The six-second rule has no further application in this situation.


PLAYING DISTANCE
Your question:
My understanding: A player is not guilty of obstructing an opponent from getting to a loose ball when he cuts off the opponent’s path to the ball by going after the ball himself. As long as the ball is in ‘playing distance’ and the opponent is only shielded from reaching the ball first in a fair chase – even where the opponent is clearly a faster runner.

The issue: Playing Distance is generally considered to be an inexact short distance, often regarded to be about six feet. An advancing referee tells me that the 6 foot distance has been defined at clinics as the limit. I say this is because it naturally and most frequently occurs within that distance but ‘playing distance’ also applies to longer stretches as well. For example; the ball is 20 yards away and two opponents run for it, the player who leads the race may veer off a direct line to the ball to keep the opponent from passing as long this ‘shielding’ is not an unfair obstruction. The advancing referee disagrees and calls it obstruction because the ball is not in playing distance, not six feet or thereabouts.

The question: What is right?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
You and the “advancing referee” will find the answer in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
QUOTE
12.15 PLAYING DISTANCE
The referee¹s judgment of ³playing distance² should be based on the player¹s ability to play the ball, not upon any arbitrary standard.
END OF QUOTE

Distances such as those you propose would not fit the definition.


COURAGE
Your question:
I’m confused about an apparent contradiction in how many referees in my area interpret a foul after the play. If I am at midfield and deliver a ball, then a defender clatters me from behind, there is a foul called almost without exception. However, in my experience refs are very hesitant to call it if the same foul is committed in the penalty area after a forward shoots the ball. How are these different? If I shoot and miss, and a second later a defender bowls me over, isn’t that just as much of a foul as if it took place after a pass at midfield?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
There should be no difference in the calls. Unfortunately, many referees lose courage in direct proportion to how close they are to the goal line.


DELIBERATE HANDLING; PENALTY KICK
Your question:
My son plays soccer and while inside the penalty box he had inadvertantly touched the ball with his fore arm (upright and against his chest). the referee called “hand ball” a penalty was awarded to the opposing team…

When a hand ball is called on the defending team within the penalty box. does that result in a penalty kick? are defenders allowed to defend the goal? or is it kicker vs. goalkeeper?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
If the contact between the hand and the ball had been truly inadvertent and your son made no effort to take advantage of this contact, then the “hand ball” (which is more properly termed “a handling offense”) should not be called. However, if it was a true handling offense, then the penalty kick decision was correct. A defender committed a direct free kick foul inside his own penalty area — that is the recipe for a penalty kick restart.

At the penalty kick the defending goalkeeper remains on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked. The players other than the kicker are located inside the field of play, outside the penalty area, behind the penalty mark, and at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the penalty mark. So the only defender allowed to defend the goal is the goalkeeper.


GOALKEEPER POSITION AT PENALTY KICK
Your question:
If a goalkeeper lines up behind the goalline, in the goal, on a Penalty Kick can he move forward to the goalline before the ball is kicked?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
No. The defending goalkeeper remains on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked.

In actual practice, however, the referee should not signal for the penalty kick to be taken if the GK is not on the line … so the issue of moving forward should never arise.


TWO OFFSIDE QUESTIONS
Your question:
1. Can a player be offsides if he receives the ball from a throw-in?

2. Can a player be offsides if the ball is delivered from the other half of the pitch (ie, from a goal kick or delivered from one of his defender teammates)?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
1. According to Law 11, Offside, no player should be called offside it he receives the ball directly from a throw-in.

2. Again according to Law 11, no player can be called offside if he receives the ball directly from a goal kick. However, if the player is in an offside position and receives the ball directly from one of his teammates AND he is involved in play, he should be called offside. It doesn’t make any difference where the ball was delivered from, only where the attacker was when the ball was delivered.


REFEREE GARB
Your question:
May a soccer referee wear a black ball cap when it is a sunny day and he is lining(ar) into the sun? It reduces eye strain and makes it easier to watch offsides. It is hard to hold a flag, and run with your off-hand held up like a visor. I have been told “no,” yet all of the companies seem to sell black referee caps. I have also been told “yes.” what’s the official answer?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
[originally published in February 2003]
THE REFEREE UNIFORM
Referees may wear only the gold primary jersey or the black/white-, red/black- or blue-striped alternate jerseys. No other colors will be worn without express permission of the USSF. If the uniform colors worn by a goalkeeper and the referee or by a team (or both teams) and the referee are similar enough to invite confusion, the referee must attempt to have the goalkeeper or the team(s) change to different colors. If there is no way to resolve the color similarity, then the referee (and the assistant referees) must wear the colors that conflict least with the players. Referees and assistant referees must wear the same color jerseys, and all must wear the same length sleeves. The referee uniform does not include a hat, cap, or other head covering, with the exception of religious head covering. Referees must wear the badge of the current registration year.

The paragraph above does not cover shorts, socks or shoes, but referees who want to get ahead will make every effort to present themselves neatly and professionally. Shorts should be made of the same materials as the jerseys. Shoes must be black and bear as little ornamentation as possible. Referees should dress as conservatively as possible, to avoid drawing undue attention to themselves.

The policy on hats was also published in the October 1999 issue of Fair Play:
Q. May referees wear caps and sunglasses?
A. With regard to caps, the policy of the United States Soccer Federation was stated in the Spring 1994 issue of Fair Play magazine: “Under normal circumstances, it is not acceptable for a game official to wear headgear, and it would never be seen on a high level regional, national or international competition. However, there may be rare circumstances in local competitions where head protection or sun visors might sensibly be tolerated for the good of the game, e.g. early morning or late afternoon games with sun in the officials’ line of sight causing vision difficulties; understaffed situations where an official with sensitive skin might be pressed into service for multiple games under strong sunlight or a referee who wears glasses needing shielding from rain.” Sunglasses would be subject to the same considerations. In addition, we ask referees to remember that sunglasses have the unfortunate side effect of suggesting that the referee or assistant referee is severely visually impaired and should not be working the game. They also limit communication between the officials and the players by providing a barrier against eye-to-eye contact. Sunglasses, if worn, should be removed prior to any verbal communication with players.


LYING DOWN TO HEAD THE BALL TO THE ‘KEEPER
Your question:
More proof that Murphy’s law rings oh so true and that high school aged boys will do anything imaginable to bend the rules to their liking, I present you a situation I encountered in a U-19 Boys game a few weeks ago:

Indirect kick is given to the defending team 5 yards outside their own penalty area. In a moment of sheer wisdom, the defender gets on the ground, stomach down, and heads the ball to the keeper, (think a worm slithering on the ground and you get the idea) who of course picks it up within his own penalty area and continues play. My question is, should this be seen as just another way to circumvent the laws of the game and the “inch-worm” cautioned…or was the kick ever properly taken? While Law 12 specifies what kind of free kick is to be given for a foul, and Law 13 defines and gives specifics as to the types of free kicks, nowhere in the laws does it specify HOW a kick must be taken.

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
Kicking implies that the ball is played with the foot, not the head or any other portion of the body.

This bit of trickery is unsporting behavior, for which the player should be cautioned and shown the yellow card. The restart remains the same.

If the ball had been in play, the caution/yellow card would be the same, but the restart would be an indirect free kick for the opposing team from the place where the infringement occurred.


DEFERENCE TO GOALKEEPERS?
Your question:
In all level play the goal keeper receives special treatment in regards to fouls. In upper level play why is it that goal keepers are allowed to climb the backs of attackers to receive the ball or hit it away? I seen a perfect example of this yesterday 5/3 in a state cup match at [a local] Park #1 U17B. The ball was played into the area with a attacker standing flat footed around the penalty spot, when the keeper climbed his back with a hand on his shoulder using it to elevate himself to fist the ball away. Why wouldn’t this type of call be made. I’ve seen it before and I’m sure I’ll see it again. I just don’t understand why officials don’t make that call. I believe this is probably one of the most miscalled situations in the game today, outside of the offside call.

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
One person’s foul one way is often another person’s foul the other way. Many factors go into the decision to call a foul, including what both players are doing at the time.

Your view was not the same as that of the referee, who may have seen it this way: The goalkeeper was (apparently) trying to play the ball, while the attacker was simply standing there, (possibly) attempting to prevent the goalkeeper from getting to the ball. Because the goalkeeper was able to get to the ball and play it, the referee (probably) decided not to call the foul against the attacker.


OFFSIDE?
Your question:
If an attacking player gets the ball taken away in the attacking third of the field and the defending team all pushes up which leaves the attacking player in the offside position and the ball bounces off a teammate of the defending player back to the attacking player who is in the offside position (player was walking upfield) is this offsides?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
Your scenario is unclear in one important aspect: Who played the ball that bounced off a player of the defending team? If it was one of his own team, then the attacking opponent in the offside position is not offside. If it was a teammate of the attacking opponent — and the attacking opponent is involved in play — then that opponent is offside.


DELIBERATE HANDLING
Your question:
In a recent match between my own [name removed] High Girls team and another local high school, there were several instances that appeard to me to be handballs and were not called. Our opponents were not quite a top-class team and was made up of many girls who had obviously had very little soccer experience. On many occasions, a player would go up for a head ball with her arms outspread. Not judging the ball properly, she would make contact with her hand or arm. After my constant questioning of the non-calls, I was given a yellow card and told to read my rule book. So, I did. The rule regarding handling of the ball states that to be called, a player must intentionally make contact with the ball with his/her arm or hand. However, handling is defined as playing the ball with the arm or hand or making any contact with the ball with your arm in an “unnatural” postion. Is the above described situation not an “unnatural” position. Also, I’ve been informed by some officials that covering the chest is legal for girls in any situation and by others that it is only legal while in the wall. Can you explain?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
One gentle reminder before we begin the lecture:
The rules promulgated by the National Federation of State High School Associations (wild and crazy folks that their makers are) do not allow the “hands up to protect” defense. If the hands were there BEFORE the ball was struck, it is OK but the player will be called if the hands come up AFTER the ball is struck.

That said, on to the main course

The key to calling deliberate handling is contained in this excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
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.).

A lengthier discourse on the matter was recently written by Robert Evans, former USSF Director of Referee Instruction, a National Instructor and former FIFA Referee, and Edward Bellion, a National Instructor and former FIFA Referee, in their book, “For the Good of the Game”:
QUOTE
Handball

It was over the issue of handling the ball that two different versions of football developed. In the early games, some sets of rules allowed a player to knock the ball down with his hand or arm, but not to carry it or throw it forward. Then an over-enthusiastic young man named William Webb Ellis picked up the ball during a match at his school-Rugby-and ran with it. “Rugby Football” was born, and shortly after that, handling the ball in any way was banned in the other football-our football, “Association Football”, or soccer, as it came to be known. Rugby, as though unable to decide what it wanted to be, evolved into a variety of forms: Australian Rules Football, Gaelic Football, Rugby League Football, Rugby Union Football and ultimately, American and Canadian Football. All those corrupt versions of the original game involve some form of chucking the ball about with your hands, but the delightful game of soccer retained its simple purity. It is a game to be played with the feet, the body and (especially for referees) the head.

The law states quite simply that a player should be penalized if he “handles the ball deliberately.” The law once included the phrase “carries, strikes or propels the ball with his hand or arm” , but most people involved in the game don’t need to have all that spelled out. We understand that no part of the arm below the shoulder can be used, so our problem is simply to learn how to recognize deliberate handling, as opposed to accidental handling. Accidental handling is never penalized!

From our observations of officiating in youth soccer, we estimate that twice as many “handballs” are penalized as should be. Many inexperienced referees are over-zealous, but if you then add the problem that parents and spectators unfamiliar with the game shout every time the ball touches a hand or arm, the tendency for the official is a compulsion to blow his whistle in response. This only makes matters worse, because the lack of knowledge by the spectators is then reinforced by the action of someone who is in their eyes a (presumably) trained referee. He’s got a badge and a uniform; he must know what he’s doing. On top of that, the players, hearing all the appeals when they make hand or arm contact with the ball, react as though they are guilty of touching something sacred, a holy relic. In such a case, it takes a great deal of strength and conviction for an inexperienced referee to be deaf to hundreds of voices baying in unison, and to ignore the horrified expression of a player who acts as though guilty of a cardinal sin. What they need is knowledge and an understanding of clear methods of determining whether a player “handles the ball deliberately”. We are about to describe those methods, so stay with us.

The most evident handball is where the player reaches out to touch or control the ball, or moves his hand to intercept it and change its path. Examples might include: the defender who reaches up to knock a ball down that was going over his head; the player who while trying to deal with an awkwardly-bouncing ball, flicks out his hand to put the ball in front of him; and the really obvious ones, like stopping a shot going into the goal, or using a hand to stop a pass that might produce a scoring chance. These latter two are punished very severely in the latest versions of the laws, and are therefore becoming less common.

All these examples are covered in the first part of that familiar old refereeing question: “Was it hand to ball, or was it ball to hand?” You will still hear that question at training clinics and courses, and the answer supposedly will tell the new or inexperienced referee what to do. In many cases it will help you make a decision, and some of those decisions will be correct. But in an equal number of cases it will be wrong! Here’s whyŠ

In the cases we described, the player does deliberately move his hand towards the ball in an effort to touch it or move it. There is no doubt he moved “hand to ball”, as the old saying goes. If he succeeds in touching the ball with his hand, he should be penalized (assuming there is no advantage, or that the infraction is not trifling). But many times a player as part of a natural running or jumping motion appears to move his hand towards the ball. There may have been no intentional touching of the ball with the hand, yet still he will get penalized-incorrectly, we should add.

And then there are cases where the hand doesn’t move, and yet the handball is nevertheless intentional. Think about a wall at a free kick near goal. The kicker plays the ball hard towards the goal, aiming to curve the ball around the end of the wall. The player at the end of the wall has his hands down to his side, but sees that the ball is going to hit the arm on the outside of the wall. He leaves the arm in that position even though he knows the ball will strike it. He has time to move it, but chooses not to, and as a result, blocks the shot on goal. If we stick by the old saw “ball to hand”, the player has committed no infraction. And that is why this old piece of refereeing wisdom-like so many of them-is useful up to a point. Because it does not cover every situation, it should be used with care.

So in the case of supposed handball, ask yourself these questions:

1. Did the player move his hand with the purpose of touching (handling) the ball?
If the answer is “yes”, then you have witnessed an infringement of the laws, and you may penalize. If there is no advantage situation, or if the player gains some benefit from his handling, then give a free kick to his opponents.
If the answer is “no”, then allow play to proceed.
If the answer is “I can’t decide”, then look for something else to help you make the decision. If the handled ball goes straight to an opponent, then you don’t have to decide. You can just allow play to go on unabated.

2. Did the player have time to move his hand out of the way, but chose instead to leave it where it was?
If the answer is yes, then you have witnessed an infringement of the laws, and you may choose to penalize.
If the answer is “no”, because you can see that (for example) a shot was taken so close to the defender that he couldn’t possible have had time to get out of its way, then there is no breach of the law, and no matter how many people shout about it, you must let play go on.

3. Was the movement of the hand or arm an instinctive act of protection for the face, the groin or (in the case of young female players) the breast?
Young players especially deserve the benefit of the doubt in these cases. Their instinct is to protect vulnerable parts of their body, especially ones that hurt when struck hard. Older players learn to turn their head quickly, or deflect a ball with their shoulder, rather than take a hit in a place that would be painful.

4. Was there some other factor that could have caused the contact between the ball and the hand or arm?
On a lot of fields in youth soccer, the surface is not as smooth as we would like, and as a result the ball pops up unpredictably. When in such cases the ball makes contact with a young arm, could it have been the playing surface and not the action of the player that created the “handball”? We describe one such case in the sidebar.

One final point of great importance: In the case of accidental contact between the ball and the hand or arm, even if the ball drops to the benefit of the player who made contact with it, you must not penalize. Where there is no infraction, no infraction must be called!

SIDEBAR
WHY WOULD THE PLAYER HANDLE THE BALL?

During an invitational tournament in Dallas, Texas in the fall of the year, when the fields are as hard as a rock, and have only a straw-colored mat of vegetation that passes as grass, two under-16 teams of skillful boys were going at each other with great enthusiasm. The ball was thumped out of one defence, deep into the opponents’ half, bouncing down into the penalty-area. The last defender chased back for it and tried to bring it under control off to one side of his own penalty-area. He was not under pressure, because there was no opponent within thirty yards of him. On the rough surface the ball popped up after a bounce, struck him on the arm and dropped in front of him. The whistle blew, and the referee-from forty yards away-awarded a penalty-kick.

On too many occasions for us to remember, we have advised referees who get into trouble frequently during games, to try to put themselves in the position of the player. It is a way of trying to understand why a player acts or behaves the way he does, why he gets hot or why he chases after an opponent for no apparent reason. Thinking like a player can be a useful tool for a referee.

In this case, let’s pretend we are the player penalized for handball. We know no opponent is nearby, which means we have a lot of time to get the ball under control, to pass it back to the goalkeeper, or to thump it back upfield. We have no need to handle the ball in order to accomplish what we are trying to do, especially so in our own penalty-area. Handling the ball in an open space where everyone can see you would be the ultimate act of stupidity. What good can possibly come of it? Despite all that, and without thinking (and that is the real problem here) the referee saw the hand and ball come together, and chose to award a penalty-kick. A moment’s reflection, as we recommend in item number 4 above, would have told the referee that this was a classic case of accidental handling brought about because of a rough playing-surface.
END OF QUOTE


COLOR OF THE AR’S FLAGS
Your question:
My flags recently needed replacement so my wife made some new ones — triangles (upper/lower) of blue and yellow (quite close to the uniform colors). I used them at a tournament and had no problems (either visually or ‘officially’). At a recent men’s game, however, I was told by the CR that they couldn’t be used — they might be ok for an in-house game but we had to use the real ones (i.e., red/yellow) for this game. The CR is relatively high up in the state’s administration so we did what he requested. My question is: Although the LOTG used to specify red/yellow flags, is this one of those “no longer in the words but still to be followed” requirements?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
The “relatively high” referee needs to rethink his instructions to you. While it is certainly traditional that flags be yellow or red, that is no longer a requirement at any level of the game. The only requirement is the use of common sense: The flags must be visible to the referee and the assistant referee on the far side of the field against the background of the players, the spectators, and the field itself. That said, it is common practice to use yellow and/or red flags and the practice is encouraged.


FIELD CONDITIONS
Your question:
As a referee what do USSF rules obligate me to with regard to field conditions?? As example…..lets say we show up at the field to refereee and:
1. The grass is 10″ tall…..and the field is in my opinion …..is not playable. Under USSF rules can I as a referee declare the field unsafe / not playable.
2. Standing water…..lets say it rained y-day….and there are low areas on the field …where there is 2-4″ of standing water……the home teams says we play like this all the time…..the visiting team says you got to be kidding.

Net….I am looking what options I might have as a referee when the field is not in the condition I think it should be in for play…..the home team is saying it is….and the visiting team really does not want to play.

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
The USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” should give you all the information you need on this question. An excerpt from section 1.2: “No part of the field surface or the goals and flagposts may be dangerous to the players. If the field conditions are dangerous or unsuitable for play, the referee must refuse to officiate the game and, unless there is a possibility that the problem can be corrected, should leave immediately after announcing his decision to both sides. Unresolved problems with the field that do not involve safety should be reported to the competition authority, even if the game is played.”


NO REPLACEMENT FOR PLAYER SENT OFF
Your question:
I’m embarrassed to have to ask this. I’ve been a referee for 13 years. I’ve been an instructor for 2 or 3 years. It’s gotta’ be there somewhere…

I cannot find, in my 2002/2003 “Laws of the Game” where it tells me – and anyone else who wants to know – that a player who has been Sent Off cannot be replaced. I went to an online copy of the Laws (at the FIFA website) and let the computer search for relevant words and phrases. No help…

As recently as 1997 the LOTG contained the instruction I seek as an IFAB Decision pertaining to Law 3. In the 2002/2003 copy the only IFAB Decisions for Law 3 are (1) guideline for minimum number of players and (2) bench behavior.

Because the rewrite of the Laws moved many of the IFAB Decisions into the text of the relevant Law, I examined Law Three more closely. Turns out that it discusses (a) players Sent Off before the match starts and (b) named substitutes Sent Off before or after the game starts. No mention is made regarding the fate of players who are Sent Off after the game has started.

Or is this a part of the Laws that “everybody knows so we don’t have to write it down”?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
Simplification is everything, or so the IFAB thought back in 1997. Believing that everyone “knew” this to be so, they eliminated the phrase from the Laws. And that is why USSF issued this position paper back in 1999:

No Replacement for Player Sent Off after the Game Has Started

International Football Association Board (IFAB) Decision (3), on Law III, formerly stated: “A player who has been ordered off after play has started may not be replaced,” containing this prohibition was omitted by the IFAB in the extensive revision of the Laws that took place in 1997. The rewrite was extensive and included both new language and revisions of existing language: numerous provisions in the 1996 edition of the Laws of the Game were removed and have not reappeared in subsequent revisions. Nevertheless, the provisions of IFAB Decision 3 on Law III (and numerous other decisions) remain valid to this day.

The intention of IFAB was to clarify and simplify concepts, to replace older terminology, to present concepts which are more easily translated into languages other than English and to shorten the Laws of the Game overall. The excised IFAB decisions should not be considered a rejection of the requirement, but an affirmation that a separate, additional statement of the concept involved was unnecessary. In other words, the IFAB believed that the basic principle that a player sent off after the game has started may not replaced was unnecessary. In other words, the IFAB believed that the basic principle that a player sent off after the game has started may not be replaced was so well understood by the entire soccer community that it did not need to be mentioned in the Laws.

In applying the rewritten Laws of the Game, affiliated leagues, associations, officials and competitions are accordingly reminded that, except as described in “Memorandum 1997″ or in subsequent memorandum amendments of the Laws, there should be no change in either the understanding of the Laws or in their substantive application to game situations. In other words, unless noted otherwise, the absence in subsequent versions of the Laws of the Game of any language from the 1996 version is not to be interpreted as an indication IFAB intended that matches would no longer be governed by that language.

Law 3 currently states that “A player who has been sent off before the kick-off may be replaced only by one of the named substitutes.” Implied in that statement is a reiteration of the former IFAB Decision 3 on Law III “A player who has been ordered off after play has started may not be replaced.”

14 May 1999 In other words, if the grass is too long, spots on the field too wet, or other conditions not satisfactory, the referee has the power and the duty to declare the field unplayable. All that is required after this declaration is a complete report to the proper authorities.


NO ONE LOVES AN OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Your question:
I have a few stupid, soccer questions: Can an offensive player be offsides in his/her half of the field? Also, can you be offsides on a indirect kick? Thanks for the info! Love, [name deleted to protect the innocent]

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
No. Yes. A pleasure to be of service, ma’am.


THE DELIBERATE PASS TO THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Player throws the ball back to the goalie. An opponent trots after the ball. The goalie bends over the ball and waits. At about 6 feet away the goalie picks up the ball and play continues.

The pass-back ruling seems to have sprung some loop holes. Locker room lawyering will be with us for a long time yet.

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
We acknowledge the possible error in assuming anything, but this answer assumes two things: the thrower was a teammate of the goalkeeper, and the opponent was about six feet away when the goalkeeper picked up the ball. See section 12.21 of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” which would seem to apply here:
12.21 BALL THROWN TO THE GOALKEEPER
A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he touches the ball with his hands after he receives it directly from a throw-in taken by a teammate. The goalkeeper is considered to have received the ball directly even if he plays it in any way (for example, by dribbling the ball with his feet) before touching it with his hands. Referees should take care not to consider as trickery any sequence of play that offers a fair chance for opponents to challenge for the ball before it is handled by the goalkeeper from a throw-in.


VIOLENT CONDUCT
Your question:
Recently, I had a GK pick up the ball in his own penalty area, as the forward ran past him , the GK grunted loudly and motioned to strike the forward, although he never did. I cautioned the GK with a yellow card for unsporting behavior. My question is I began the restart as an indirect free kick against the goalkeeper (at the top of the 18 yard box from the point of the infraction), is this correct?

USSF answer (May 1, 2003):
Given that the stoppage was solely for misconduct (caution for unsporting behavior), then, yes, an indirect free kick where the misconduct occurred would be correct.

A lot would depend on what the “temperature” of the game was and what had gone before. An overly ardent referee might consider that the goalkeeper committed an infringement deserving send-off and red card, attempting to strike an opponent (violent conduct, as they were not contesting for the ball). The referee could use his or her discretion and consider the offense to be unsporting behavior, but would need to measure that against the likelihood of losing control of the game by not dealing with a possible game-critical event.


SHOWING THE CARD
Your question:
What is the official ruling on the showing of cards (yellow and/or red) to coaches? Do you show the coach a card to signal for caution or send off? Since the coach is not on the field how can he be sent off?

USSF answer (May 1, 2003):
A USSF position paper of August 26, 2002, on “Misconduct and Display of Cards” contains this information:
“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.

“As with a player or named substitute who fails to depart the field if sent off, the referee has the power under Law 5 to suspend or terminate a match if an expelled team official refuses to leave. Disciplinary action against a team official must also be included in the referee’s match report.”

In short, the coach may not be shown a card of any color. Nor may the coach be cautioned or sent off. The coach may only be dismissed for irresponsible behavior.

Only players and substitutes may be cautioned or sent off and shown the yellow or red cards.


“ROUGHING THE ‘KEEPER”
Your question:
My daughter plays keeper on a u14 select team. Last weekend during her game she was faced with a break away. She came out of the goal box but stayed within the penalty box. When the opposing player reached her she put her hand on my daughter’s shoulder and shoved her out of her way.

Can you please define roughing the keeper?

Does she have the right to calmly talk to the ref. and ask them to watch a particular player?

Is it legal for a keeper to go for a ball and clip the legs out from under an opponent?

USSF answer (May 1, 2003):
There is no such foul as “roughing the ‘keeper.” The act you describe would be categorized as pushing the opponent and should be punished with a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team.

No, the player has no “right” to speak with referee under any circumstances, other than when the referee poses a question. However, the player could ask her team captain to have a word with the referee.

No, it is not legal for the ‘keeper to take out the opponent’s legs under any circumstances — unless the opponent happens to fall over the ‘keeper’s hand/arm or leg after the ‘keeper has made a brilliant save. Otherwise that is tripping, at a minimum, and might be considered serious foul play, resulting in the ‘keeper being sent off and shown the red card.


UNSUBBED PLAYER RE-ENTERS THE GAME
Your question:
My question involves a player entering the field without permission. This instance occurred in a youth game where unlimited substitution is permitted.

During a stoppage Team A had three players at the line. I beckoned on the substitutes and waited for the AR to signal that the substituted players had left the field. Four players left the field and only three substitutes entered. The AR saw this and assumed the team had decided to play short. The coach then sent the fourth player back on the player because he had not meant for that player to come out. Four minutes later the player scored a goal. The AR called the matter to my attention. The goal was disallowed, the player was shown the yellow card, and play was restarted with an IFK for the opposing team.

My question is twofold: first, should play have been stopped as soon as the center or AR saw the player return to the field (as opposed to waiting for a stoppage), and, assuming play has continued, is it proper to disallow a goal if the player in question was actively involved in the scoring play? Also, what is the correct restart?

USSF answer (May 1, 2003):
The player left the field with the referee’s permission. The fact that he re-entered without the referee’s permission when he found that he had left in error could be considered an infringement, but it should be considered trifling and disregarded in most cases.


SLEEVES ROLLED UP
Your question:
I have received conflicting information regarding the sleeves rolled up during play in womens matches. I was under the impression of sleeves worn unrolled was the posisiton to take. A referee friend of mine who is much more experienced and usually a “go to ” guy when I have questions stated that the sleeves could be worn rolled up. This is always a bone of contention and usually one of the first things I am aksed when I show up for a match….so is it sleeves unrolled or can the players roll them up?

USSF answer (May 1, 2003):
While rolled-up shirt sleeves are not prohibited, they are certainly not professional in appearance. Despite the appearance, the intelligent referee should not make a fuss about rolled -up sleeves unless there is a local league/tournament rule on the subject (in which case it must be enforced) or if something that might be dangerous is used to hike the sleeve up.


PLAYING DANGEROUSLY?
Your question:
I have been refereeing for about a year, mostly U-12′s and 14′s. This last weekend, I did a U-10 Boys Competitive League game. It was perhaps a little rougher than most U-10′s and I had to call a few fouls which appeared to be due mostly to them misjudging their distance or timing, but it wasn’t terribly rough. There was one play where I’m wondering if I made the appropriate call, though.

One of the Blue team players fell down while attempting to play the ball; I don’t remember if he slipped on his own, or if he tripped over one of his teammates, but there was definitely no foul involved. He ended up on the ground about 1 yard from the ball, with several players from _both_ teams around him swinging at the ball (typical 10-year old clumsiness). He wasn’t trying to play it, but didn’t appear to be trying to get up either; I think he was waiting for play to move away from him. After a second or two of this, I became concerned for his safety with the crowd around him, and whistled play stopped. He got up and I restarted with a dropped ball at that point. To me, this seemed to be a “Law 18″ call, since I couldn’t come up with a specific LOTG reason for that call: I considered it to be a dangerous play, but both teams were doing the same thing and nobody was unfairly disadvantaged by it, so I didn’t feel I could award the IFK to one of them.

Keeping in mind the age group involved, in your opinion, was that an appropriate call, and if so is there justification in the LOTG for it? Or was it just one of those common-sense things you do to keep the kids safe? BTW, I know that based on my reason for stopping play the dropped ball would be the correct restart, because IAW Law 8 I stopped play for a reason “not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game”, but it’s the reasoning behind the initial call I am curious about.

USSF answer (May 1, 2003):
Age group makes no difference here. It is all in the opinion of the referee. If the referee believes it was dangerous play, then the restart is an indirect free kick. If not, then your call was correct under the terms of Law 8 and in keeping with the Spirit of the Game.

Categories: Website

2003 Part 1

April 25, 2003

TRIFLING INFRINGEMENTS
Your question:
Situation 1: In a competetive U11 boys game, the goalkeeper caught an incoming shot and controlled it in his hands. While running out toward the edge of his penalty area to release the ball, he accidentally dropped the ball. It rolled a few feet, but he immediately picked the ball back up in his hands and then released it up the field, while remaining inside the PA throughout. There was no challenge for the ball from the opposing team while it was on the ground (not that it matters). It was clearly an accidental release of the ball by the goalkeeper, but it also was clearly not still in his possession, as if he were dribbling the ball. I was the center referee and I let play continue. But I wondered whether this should have been called an indirect free kick for the opposing team, because the gk released the ball and then re-handled it? I have read other opinions that indicate an accidental drop and immediate retrieval don’t constitute the actual “release” of the ball by the goalkeeper, but I would very much like the USSF opinion.

Situation 2: In a U14 boys game, the goalkeeper received a ball in his hands and was ready to release it. However, he noticed some problem with his uniform; he might have been tightening or re-fastening his gloves. Without any permission or acknowledgement from the referee, he set the ball down at his feet (in the penalty area), and proceeded to fix his uniform problem, which took him just a few seconds. There was no challenge for the ball by the opposing team. He then picked the ball back up and proceeded to release it back into play. I was the upfield assistant referee. Neither the center referee or nearest assistant made any call. They may have felt it was within the “spirit of the game” to let the play continue without call, and the goalkeeper was obviously very inexperienced. However, shouldn’t the correct call be that the goalkeeper re-handled the ball after releasing it, and an indirect free kick should have been awarded to the opposing team?

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
It’s re-education time for all referees: Was there an offense? Yes. Could it have been called? Yes? Should it be called if, in the opinion of the referee, the infraction was doubtful or trifling? No. All three answers are “by the book.”

The intelligent referee’s action: If the goalkeeper’s actions had no obvious effect on play and were accepted by both teams, consider the infringement to have been trifling and let it go. If it was not trifling, punish it.


OFFSIDE AT CORNER KICK?
Your question:
Is it possible to be offside on a corner kick?

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
No.


GOALKEEPER DENIES OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY
Your question:
Please help me get closure on an issue that has been on more than one forum. You have answered related issues in previous responses to DOGSO-H and “passback” questions, but there continues to be disagreement about the particular elements of this question.

Player A with the ball in the center of her own half of the field is pressured by a defender. Player A kicks the ball in the direction of her keeper. The kicked pass from the player is headed toward goal and not directly at the keeper. The keeper, who is clearly outside the penalty area, dives and catches the ball with her hands while still clearly outside the penalty area. If, in the opinion of the referee, the kicked ball would have continued into goal, has the keeper denied a goal and committed a sending-off offense as described in 12.36 of the Advice to Referees?

(Leaving aside the additional factors of how one might call a U11 recreational game or how an intelligent referee might choose to form an opinion to best manage a particular adult game, what is the proper call?)

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
Bowing to your wishes and leaving aside all the other possible factors and sticking strictly to the opinion of the referee (as stated in your scenario), the goalkeeper — knowing exactly what she was doing — has denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity and must be sent off and shown the red card. (And because she knew what she was doing, it makes little difference what the level of the game.)


LEAVING THE FIELD TO INTERFERE WITH THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
I had an interesting call that I had in the game on Saturday. But I issued a yellow card against a red player on a corner kick, and I am not sure of the correct ruling. It is the first time I have ever run into this, and I did not know the correct call. One of those calls that you know something is not right, or does not seem right, but not sure.

Corner kick by red. Set play that they run. AR brought it to my attention at half time. Red sets up a player behind the goalie. Goalie is standing on the end-line inside the goal area. As the kick is being taken, player runs off the field, into the goal area, and back in front of the goalie. I called the red player for leaving the field of play without my permission, and issued a yellow card. Of course the red coach said that was wrong, and they have been doing this set play forever.  I could see it if the goalie was up a yard or so, and the player was trying to get to the ball. But this was happening as the kick was being taken. Almost seems to me to be a deception play in a way, and yet, what is wrong with it? Just did not feel right. What is your take on it? 12 years of doing this, and run into something new (again).

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
In situations like this, the referee must wait until the ball has been kicked to see what happens. If the player who is posting on the goalkeeper is attempting to play the ball, his tactics are legitimate. On the other hand, if he is attempting to interfere with the goalkeeper’s ability to play the ball, his tactics are not legitimate. In addition, he has left the field of play without the referee’s permission and could be cautioned and shown the yellow card at the referee’s discretion.

The referee must exercise common sense.


WORLD’S OLDEST SOCCER TRICK REVISITED
Your question:
I know this may seem odd and far out, but I’m really curious as to the answer to this. If a goalie caught the ball, tucked it into his jersey and sprinted up field into the other goal, would the goal count? He is not touching the ball with his hands in any way after he tucked the ball in his jersey.

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
No, the goal would not count. This act would be regarded as unsporting behavior. The goalkeeper would be cautioned and shown the yellow card. The restart would be an indirect free kick for the opposing team from the place where the goalkeeper tucked the ball into his jersey.


WAIT FOR THE REFEREE’S WHISTLE
Your question:
Situation; A kick on goal. Attacker requests 10 yards. Referee tells attacker to wait for his signal. Attacker kicks without signal from referee.
1. The ball sails over the goal and out of touch. 2. The ball goes into the goal.

What is the restart for both 1 and 2?

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
The game was not restarted properly. The game must be restarted with the free kick.


LIFTING THE SHIRT
Your question:
My friend was thrown out of a game after previously receiving a caution card and then later in the game he scored a goal and he lifted his shirt up and over his head, is this deserving of a 2nd yellow card?

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
If the referee believed that your friend was taunting or denigrating the opposing team by lifting his shirt up and over his head, or had a political message concealed beneath the shirt, then yes, the act deserved a caution/yellow card for unsporting behavior.


GETTING UP TO STRENGTH
Your question:
I was coaching a youth soccer game, 10 and 11 year old boys. My team only had 7 players to start the game. The game was stopped for a throw in for the opposing team who was playing with a full team ( 11 players). At this time I was wanting to add a player, that showed up late, to the field of play .I was told that I could not do this at this time and I have to wait until my team has possession of a out of bounce ball like a throw in, goal kick, corner kick etc. Please advise on this situation. Again I was not substituting but only wanting to add a player because we played short, and the play was stopped.

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
Your referee was wrong. When a team is playing shorthanded for any reason other than having had one of its players sent off, that team may add a player at any stoppage. The player’s equipment must be inspected by the referee or an assistant referee or the fourth official and any player pass or other paperwork must be taken care of before the player can enter the game.


JEWELRY — PLEASE READ AND REMEMBER!
Your question:
What is the interpretation of the words in Law 4: “including any kind of jewelry”?

I am a State Emeritus Referee and work various levels of competition. In adult competition, players frequently want to wear their smooth wedding bands. Some women want to wear small earrings. I generally disallow all jewelry and quote Law 4. The players say only dangerous jewelry is prohibited, and they often talk about the jewelry professional players seem to get away with wearing. The players ask whether they may play if the jewelry is taped over.

The quoted phrase would seem to ban all jewelry–taped or nor–which would certainly make my life easier. I would like to know if there has been any ruling or interpretation on this issue (besides the medical or religious medals issue, which is not on point). I would also like to pass along the information to our association so that there is uniformity in the application of the rule.

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
This question was answered in the May 2001 issue of Fair Play:
QUOTE
Law 4 and Jewelry
Law 4 of FIFA’s Laws of the Game states that “a player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewelry).”
The following items worn by players are considered dangerous and will not be allowed:
a) jewelry (including watches) worn on the wrist
b) rings with crowns or projections
c) jewelry worn along the upper or lower arm
d) earrings of any sort
e) tongue studs
f) any visible body piercing
The match referee remains the sole authority regarding the danger of anything worn by a player in a specific game. Referees must enforce these guidelines strictly.
END OF QUOTE

As to professional players wearing jewelry, please see the USSF position paper on “Law 4, Players¹ Equipment (Jewelry),” dated March 17, 2003, available for download on this and other sites.

The U. S. Soccer Federation cannot make new Laws or change the existing ones. We referees are expected to exercise common sense in enforcing the existing Laws. Referees have the guidelines: It is up to them to enforce them until we receive further guidance from FIFA.


ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL . . .
Your question:
Can you get a red card because you have a angry face when you make a foul not worthy of a yellow?

USSF answer (April 29, 2003):
Anything is possible in this wonderful world of ours.


KEEPING TIME/THROW-IN QUESTIONS
Your question:
1. U11 boys game. Injury on the field towards the end of the game. The referee adds extra time because of the injury. In the last couple of seconds of extra time one of the away team players scores a goal and is celebrating as this is the winning goal. After the celebrating the referee looks at his watch and declares no goal as the game had ended. Since there was no game ending whistle, is this a legitimate call?

2. Weather is rainy and the ball is very slippery. U11B throws the ball in but because it’s so slippery the ball slips out early in the throw and lands on the field directly in front of the player. The ball had entered the field of play and the thrower had completed the correct throwing motion except for the fact that the ball was released behind the head. Is this a valid throw?

3. U16B runs up to take a throw-in. In the process of the run he gains an extra 10 yards. Should the referee require a re-throw or should the ball be turned over to the other team for the throw-in.

USSF answer (April 29, 2003):
1. 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). The amount of time is not specified, but the referee must use discretion and common sense here, as in all other elements of game management. In this case, the referee showed a distinct lack of common sense in failing to keep better track of time and not allowing the goal, but there is little the players can do about it — other than reporting the facts to the referee’s assignor and state referee administrator.

2. If the ball was not released according to the requirements of Law 15 — from behind and over his head — then the throw was not correctly taken and the throw-in is taken by a player of the opposing team.

3. Throw-in for the opposing team from the place where the ball originally left the field.


GOALKEEPER HANDLING THE BALL
Your question:
Can a goalie dribble the ball into his penalty area and pick the ball up? The ball was last touched by an opposing player.

I was doing a young boy’s game where a goalie punted the ball straight up in the air and caught the ball. The ball was not touched by an opposing player and it did not touch the ground. Is there an infraction?

USSF answer (April 29, 2003):
Given the scenarios you posit, the answer is yes for both questions.

A caveat on the first question: This applies only if the ball was not played by a teammate. And a caveat on the second question: This might be considered trifling in younger age groups.


REFEREE-ASSISTANT REFEREE CONSULTATION
Your question:
During a corner kick, an opposing team player grabs the goalie and prevents him from reaching an air ball, and consequently a goal is scored. The referee misses the infraction but the linesman does see it…Can the linesman lift the flag and consult with the referee about the infraction? Can the scoring call be recalled?

Wishing for better officiating…

USSF answer (April 29, 2003):
“Linesmen” are now called assistant referees.

Law 6 indicates that one of the duties of the assistant referee is to signal when a violation of the Law occurs out of the view of the referee. USSF training of assistant referees emphasizes, however, that they should not signal at all for fouls or misconduct that clearly occur in the sight of the referee, that are doubtful or trifling, or for which the referee would likely have applied advantage. Such events can be brought to the attention of the referee at a stoppage of play.

As for the goal, if the game has not been restarted since the goal was scored, the goal may be nullified. If the game has been restarted, then the goal may not be nullified.

Wishing for more knowledgeable players, coaches, and spectators . . .


PARTICIPATING AFTER REMOVING ONESELF FROM INVOLVEMENT
Your question:
A player in an offside position “gives himself up” (holds up his hands and makes no attempt to play the ball) as the ball rolls past him. A defender runs past the player chasing down the ball. He catches the ball a few yards past the offside player and turns upfield dribbling it.

The question: Can the player that gave himself up, now attempt to tackle the ball away from the defender? If not, when would he be allowed to “get back in the game”?

USSF answer (April 29, 2003):
: While it is true that a player who is in an offside position at the moment the ball is played by a teammate can become “onside” if an opponent intentionally plays or gains possession of the ball, that might not be true in this case. If that same player had clearly shown the referee that he was not interfering with play, but then became immediately involved in the play when the opposing player took possession, the referee should punish the involvement. Although the referee might consider that the original move to show non-involvement had a tactical aim or was in some way a feint, it is more likely that the player probably did not realize that he was infringing the Law. The referee must use common sense.


RESTART AFTER SUBSTITUTION
Your question:
Recently, a couple of members of our area referees association [in another national association] have been having quite a debate over the substitution procedure. The question is simply, “Should the referee allow the individual entering the field of play to assume his or her position on the field before play is restarted?”

Though the laws state that the substitution is completed when a substitute enters the field of play, it would seem that in the interest of “the good of the game”, the referee should hold the restart to allow the new player to assume his / her position.

Your comments would be greatly appreciated to provide some insight on this matter.

USSF answer (April 29, 2003):
Caveat: The U. S. Soccer Federation cannot presume to instruct referees from other national association on how to manage the game as played in their country. The following answer would apply to games played under the auspices of U. S. Soccer.

If the player coming out is a goalkeeper, the referee will normally allow a replacement goalkeeper to reach a reasonable playing position before restarting the game. For all other players, the intelligent referee — remembering that two of his ultimate goals are fairness and enjoyment for the players — will wait until the entering player is at least in the general area of his team, but it is not necessary to wait for the entering player to assume the exact position on the field occupied by the player he replaced.


REFEREE CODE OF ETHICS
Your question:
In none of the various Referee Code of Ethics, have I seen any reference to the safety of the players. Can this be correct?

The Coaches Code of Ethics makes this the number 1 item. It seems odd that your number 1 item is “Play to Win”, while the safety of the players does not require any mention. Could this be why many referees seem to be more concerned with out of bounds calls rather than the safety of the players?

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
There are not “various” referees codes of ethics, there is only one Referee Code of Ethics. You can find it in the Referee Administrative Handbook.. It deals with overall referee conduct, not with specifics of game management:

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.
( 1 0 ) I will not make statements about any games except to clarify an interpretation of the Laws of the Game.
( 1 1 ) I will not discriminate against nor take undue advantage of any individual group on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
( 1 2 ) 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.

The referee’s concern with player safety is part of the Laws he or she must enforce. Law 5 instructs the referee on his or her powers and duties. Among them is the duty to ensure that player equipment meets the stringent requirements of Law 4 for player safety. Another duty involves dealing with injured players.

Coaches have no such instructions. Their only duty under the Laws is to behave responsibly.


RUNNING THE LEFT DIAGONAL (AND COMMON COURTESY)
Your question:
I was working this weekend and overheard some coaches commenting about the right diagonal vs. a left diagonal. The state has a new position on this. Where can I find this on the web site?

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
Picture the field as a drawing on the wall. The left diagonal is when the pattern the referee runs goes essentially from bottom right to top left. The right diagonal goes from bottom left to top right.

There is no USSF requirement that the referee must run one diagonal the first half and the other in the second half — although having the flexibility to run either diagonal is a good idea.. The USSF Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials states that the choice of diagonals and the degree of flexibility is at the referee’s discretion.

Most referees run the left diagonal almost exclusively and most assistant referees are familiar only with the left diagonal. The referee who changes diagonals because of field conditions or to better observe play in a certain area of the field must take care to determine that the assistant referees know how to do it before asking them to learn a new skill while on the job — to the possible detriment of the game that might be caused through confusion and lack of experience.


TEAM REFUSES TO PLAY
Your question:
At the time for the match to begin, there is considerable standing water along both touch lines extending into the field. As the referee, you still think the field is playable. May one coach refuse to play?

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
The coach may refuse to let his team play. It is not the referee’s place to argue the point. The referee simply notes this in the match report to the competition authority.


PLAYER OUT, NO SUBSTITUTE IN
Your question:
I have a question regarding an earlier question dealing with player off- no sub in..

If for some reason the team elects to play short – sub is requested and granted. Player “A” leaves field with permission, coach indicates no replacement will play with 10. Am I correct that this is allowed?

Is the player who left still considered a player, not a sub? Does that mean he could re-enter, with permission, at some later time? Could different player enter, with permission, at later time?

What would be procedure for “A” to re-enter or for “B” to complete substitution – Any time, with permission, or only at stoppage?

While “A” is in the limbo situation, if he received a 2nd caution or direct dismissal does the team play short or can a sub be sent in.

As I read you answer I believe “A” would be considered a player, albeit off the field, until “B” enters the game, with permission. So a dismissal of “A” would be considered dismissal of player – not of sub- Team plays short.

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
Your belief is correct. As long as the player has left with the referee’s permission and has not been replaced by a substitute, he may return to the game as a player. And yes, a dismissal of “A” would be considered a dismissal of the player, not of a substitute, and the team would play short.


SUSPENDED, ABANDONED, TERMINATED GAME
Your question:
I know that the answer to this question may be dependent on the Rules of Competition for the particular sanctioning organization, but…

Does the USSF have a policy for determining when a match has been “played” in the case of an abandoned match? Does it matter why the game was suspended? I can think of the following reasons why a game would be abandoned:
- Threatening weather
- Unsafe field conditions
- Violence
- Damaged equipment

How long does the match have to be underway before it is considered to have been “played”?

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
Your intuition is correct, the status of an abandoned game is determined by the rules of the competition or the competition authority itself. There is no set amount of time, but many rules of competition will call a game complete if a full half has been played.

In the absence of a competition authority rule on this, the Laws of the Game would apply — meaning that the game must be played in its entirety and, if terminated or abandoned prior to this time, the game must be replayed as though the earlier effort had not occurred (i. e., it is not resumed from the stopping point).

“Suspended” means that a match was stopped temporarily for any of the reasons you cite. After that the match is either resumed, abandoned, or terminated and the competition rules take over.


WHAT’S MY LINE?
Your question:
On a throw-in, is the ball in play when it starts to cross the outside of the touch line or when it completely crosses the inside of the touch line? I have heard both. Is the ball considered in play whether the player taking the throw in has released it or not? Do you need to look for a hand ball in this case? When the ball crosses the touch line on the way out it must completely cross the outside of the line. I was told the ball needs to completely cross the inside of the touch line to be in play. On a goal kick, does the ball need to completely cross the outside of the penalty box line to be in play?

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
At a throw-in the ball is in play once it has crossed the outside of the touchline AND has been released by the thrower. (Even if the Law allowed it, which it does not, who would turn a simple matter of restarting the game into a federal offense by calling deliberate handling?)

Law 9 tells us that the ball is out of play when it has wholly crossed the touchline whether on the ground or in the air.

Law 16 tells us that the ball is in play when it is kicked directly beyond the penalty area. That means it must be completely beyond the line demarcating the penalty area.


OFFSIDE
Your question:
Most of us would agree that an attacking player is offside if the goalkeeper saves an attacking teammate’s shot on goal and the ball deflects to the attacker who was in an offside position at the time of the shot. The attacking player is in an offside position at the moment a teammate played the ball, and the attacking player became involved in play by gaining an advantage from being in that position.

Most of us would also agree that an attacking player is offside if a teammate passes the ball to the player in an offside position but the ball deflects off a defender who did not attempt to play the ball. Again, the attacking player is in an offside position at the moment a teammate played the ball, and the attacking player became involved in play by gaining an advantage from being in that position.

My question: Is an attacking player offside if the last defender (not the goal keeper) makes a great sliding save with his foot but kicks the ball directly to the attacker who was in an offside position at the moment the attacker’s teammate took the shot? Assume that the defender played the ball with his foot as well as a goalkeeper would have played it with his hands. He couldn’t gain control of it, but he played the ball deliberately; as luck would have it, the ball deflected directly to the opponent in an offside position.

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
The referee’s job here is to decide if the player, whether goalkeeper or other defender, controlled and established possession of the ball. If not, the ball was not “played” but simply deflected and therefore the offside must be given, regardless of what the defender used in making contact with the ball. The only difference between a goalkeeper and a teammate in this issue is that the ‘keeper can legally use his hands within his own penalty area. And now a question in return: Why would anyone not agree completely with a decision for offside in the first two situations?


PROPERLY-TAKEN KICK-OFF
Your question:
WHAT IF? …During a kick off, the player moves the ball forward, and, without breaking contact with the ball, rolls it backward to one of his teammates. Is an IFK awarded?  Was it KICKED?

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
We know from Law 8 that the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward. Moving the ball forward without releasing it is not kicking. Because the ball was not put in play, the kick-off was incomplete. The kick-off must be retaken.


GOAL KICK/DELIBERATELY KICKED PASS TO ‘KEEPER
Your question:
How many of your own players can you have in the box when you kick a goal kick? And in this scenario, what is the correct placement of the ball. A defender passes the ball back to his keeper inside the penalty box, and the keeper picks up the ball 2 feet away from the goal line, outside to the right of the goalpost, is it a indirect kick at the spot, or does the ball gets moved.

USSF answer (April 25, 2003):
There is no limit to the number of players from the kicking team who may be in the penalty area — if that is what you mean by “box” — during a goal kick.

Your scenario for the second question is unclear. If you mean that this happens on a goal kick, then the kick is retaken, because the ball must leave the penalty area and enter the rest of the field before it is in play. If it does not do this, then the kick is retaken. If you mean that a player deliberately kicks the ball to his goalkeeper while the ball is in play and the goalkeeper touches it, then the ball is placed on the goal area line parallel to the goal line for the indirect free kick, at the spot nearest to where the goalkeeper touched the ball.


PENALTY KICK IN EXTENDED TIME
Your question:
Penalty Kick. No time left in game. Time is allowed for kick by referee. Ball is kicked toward goal and hits goalpost and rebounds back into play. Is PK terminated when the ball is next touched?

USSF answer (April 25, 2003):
In the case of a match extended for the taking of a penalty kick, if the ball hits the goalpost and remains within the field, it may still be in play and a goal may still be scored if the ball winds up in the net if touched by the goalkeeper or it enters through spin or a bad bounce. In this case, the ball may not be played by anyone but the goalkeeper and time expires as soon as the ball stops moving.


METAL STUDS
Your question:
Have any specific instructions regarding the adidas Predator Mania SG boots have been issued to guide referees? If FIFA regards them as safe and they have no sharp or jagged edges, why would a referee judge them unsafe? A lot of kids are buying and wearing the boots with magnesium studs. It’s going to become an issue that needs be addressed clearly and without room for confusion. These boots are becoming increasingly popular, and thousands of players and parents are going to be terribly upset if they show-up for a game with only these boots to play in, and the referee declares them unsafe despite FIFA’s declaration that they are safe.

USSF answer (April 25, 2003):
We are not familiar with any recent notice from FIFA declaring any particular boots to be safe.

Referees are instructed to examine all player boots for safety, irregardless of the manufacturer’s name. Boots manufactured as soccer boots are usually quite safe at the outset of the game — and, if safe for all participants, should be approved. However, referees, coaches, and players must remember that a boot declared safe before the game starts may become dangerous during the course of play. Metal and even plastic studs tend to develop rough edges and may cause injury later in the game. Many youth leagues (both recreational and competitive) flatly outlaw boots with metal cleats. Players, coaches, and parents need to become familiar with their local rules of competition, just to be certain that buying a particular shoe or type of stud is not a mistake. But whatever the rules of competition may say, the referee has the final decision on all matters of player safety.


FEET AND THE THROW-IN
Your question:
A player takes a throw-in and has one foot placed on the touchline such that the foot is partially on the field of play, across the touchline while still on the line. Does this action constitute a foul throw-in? The law reads “has part of each foot either on the touch line or on the ground outside the touchline”. I interpret this to mean if the player’s foot is across the line (on the field of play, but still partially on the touchline) this is an improper throw-in. A fellow referee disagreed and believed it to mean as long as the player’s foot was on the line at least partially (not all the way across the line) then the throw-in is valid.

This topic has always seemed strange. A player is allowed to step on the touchline, which is part of the field of play, but the ball must cross completely over the touchline before it is in touch. If someone were to handle the ball on the line, while the ball is in play, it would be a free kick. However, the player can stand on the field of play (at least on the touchline) to put the ball back into play. This seems to contradict itself, in terms of when a ball is in play. Thanks for your clarification.

USSF answer (April 24, 2003):
The throw-in is SIMPLY A WAY OF RESTARTING PLAY when the ball has left the field of play over one of the touch lines. Please do not complicate things through erroneous explanations for things that do not need explaining.
The secret to understanding the throw-in is to follow the text of Law 15:
QUOTE
Procedure
At the moment of delivering the ball, the thrower:
* faces the field of play
* has part of each foot either on the touch line or on the ground outside the touch line
* uses both hands
* delivers the ball from behind and over his head
END OF QUOTE

What does this tell us?
* As long as part (and the Law does not specify any particular part) of each foot is either on the touch line or on the ground outside the touch line, there is no problem.
* The part of the foot that makes contact with the touch line can be the toe, the ball of the foot, or the heel.
* The Law does not care about where the ball is, except the place from which it must be delivered, “from behind and over” the thrower’s head.
* There is no mention of the ball being entirely off the field — which would be impossible if the thrower were leaning into the field as the ball was correctly delivered.
* The ball need only break the plane of the outside of the touch line to be in play (once it has been released by the thrower).
* The thrower can never be accused of deliberately handling the ball if he does not release the ball before it crosses the touch line.
* Nowhere is it written that the thrower must stand at least partly in touch.
* As long as the throw is taken from the correct location, with both of the thrower’s feet on the line or outside it, and with the thrower facing some part of the field, and if the throw is properly delivered, then it is a good throw.
Notwithstanding these requirements, the intelligent referee will be satisfied in most case if the ball is quickly put back into play from approximately the right place. Most other violations should be ignored as trifling.


OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY OR SERIOUS FOUL PLAY?
Your question:
This is a follow-up to your answer of April 9, below. Prior to 1997, I understand the Laws of the Game stated that certain acts of ³handling² were to be declared Serious Foul Play. But in the 1997 rewrite, I now understand that not only was the foul reinterpreted (it is now ³deliberate use of hands²), but so was the penalty. Your answer, below, addressing Fabien Barthez¹ deliberate use of hands outside the PA, states that ³nothing else should be done² if he neither denied his opponent a goal, or a goal-scoring opportunity. Leaving aside the issue of Caution for USB, I ask simply: can Deliberate Use of Hands today ever result in a Send-Off for SFP? If so, how?
QUOTE OF ORIGINAL QUESTION
OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY OR NOT?
Question:
During the Manchester United VS Real Madrid Match Manchester Uniteds keeper deliberately handled the ball outside of his penalty area but did not prevent a goal scoring opputunity as he handled the ball just outside the right corner of his penalty area preventing the ball from going out for a goal kick and there was no opposition within 10-20 yards. The commentators where saying that he should have been sent off and I just want to know what apart from a direct free kick from where he handled the ball should be done.

Answer (April 9, 2003):
Caveat: The U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) does not presume to tell the referees of other national associations how to referee the game. This answer would apply to a game played under the auspices of the USSF.

If the goalkeeper did not deny the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity when he handled the ball, then nothing else should have been done — provided the referee did indeed award the opposing team a direct free kick from the place where the goalkeeper deliberately handled the ball outside his penalty area.

It is unfortunate that many commentators, no matter their nationality, are not well aware of the Laws of the Game and their proper application.
END QUOTE OF ORIGINAL QUESTION

USSF answer (April 24, 2003):
The only clarification that might be made to the original answer is that the referee could caution the goalkeeper for unsporting behavior and show him the yellow card if he judged that the handling was a tactical foul designed to interfere with or impede the opposing team’s attacking play.

Deliberately handling the ball outside the penalty area is a direct free kick offense. There is no mention in the Laws of the Game or the IFAB/FIFA Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game of punishing deliberate handling of the ball with a send-off/red card other than in the context of denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity. It should never be regarded as serious foul play.

Serious foul play is defined in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
QUOTE
12.33 SERIOUS FOUL PLAY
It is serious foul play when a player uses violence (excessive force; formerly defined as “disproportionate and unnecessary strength”) when challenging for the ball on the field against an opponent. There can be no serious foul play against a teammate, the referee, an assistant referee, a spectator, etc. The use of violence or excessive force against an opponent under any other conditions must be punished as violent conduct.
END OF QUOTE


PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT
Your question:
MLS game Saturday night April 19th. D.C. United player carded for the third foul on Beasley. Referee demonstratively counted out the three fouls. Afterwards Beasley was fouled four maybe five more times…no cards given.

Question- Is persistent infringement over after the card and foul count starts over? Should the referee yellow have carded the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh fouls on Beasley? When or ever should you go to red?

USSF answer (April 23, 2003):
We do not comment on identifiable referees and the way in which they manage their games.

The USSF publication “7 + 7″ instructs referees to caution and show the yellow card to those players who persistently infringe the Laws of the Game by repeatedly committing fouls or participating in a pattern of fouls directed at an opponent. Again, the referee should work to manage play so that such situations cease immediately, but, if all else fails, then all players who are part of this tactical scheme must be dealt with according to the Law. (There is no “team caution” under the Laws of the Game, so the referee may not send off and show the red card to a player on that player’s first infringement of this portion of the Law.) It shouldn’t take more than one additional caution to get the point across.


TIME MANAGEMENT/PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT
Your question:
Time management is important, especially when a team is protecting a one goal lead. I understand long clearing kicks force the opposition to start their attack at their own 18 and I understand coaches substituting at every legal opportunity as time runs down. However, some teams in this area have started using tactics that I think constitute time wasting and unsporting behavior. I’d like your opinion:
1. A red team player picks up every ball that goes into touch and starts a throw in even when I am signaling it is a blue team throw in. I have to whistle the ball dead and get the blue team the ball.
2. After calling off a player and sending in a substitute the coach indicates he/she wants to substitute for another player, effectively doubling the amount of time used up for the substitution.

Either behavior can be an honest mistake but as Goldfinger told James Bond, “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, but the third time is enemy action.”

My approach to the first situation when I see it occurring time after time is to warn the player and the captain, then if it continues to caution the player and show him/her the yellow card. In the second situation I tend to add time for the delay.

I would also like to ask how does one deal with a situation where a caution and yellow card have been given for persistent infringement of the laws because one team is targeting and fouling a certain player but the activity continues with different players committing the fouls? Does one continue to issue yellow cards until someone with a yellow card gets their second one and is sent off or can one issue a red card?

USSF answer (April 23, 2003):

As to constant substitution, the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” tells us:
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

As regards your final question, the USSF publication “7 + 7″ instructs referees to caution and show the yellow card to those players who persistently infringe the Laws of the Game by repeatedly committing fouls or participating in a pattern of fouls directed at an opponent. Again, the referee should work to manage play so that such situations cease immediately, but, if all else fails, then all players who are part of this tactical scheme must be dealt with according to the Law. (There is no “team caution” under the Laws of the Game, so the referee may not send off and show the red card to a player on that player’s first infringement of this portion of the Law.)


VERY LATE SEND-OFF/RED CARD (REPRISE)
Your question:
On the following question already asked, what happens if Smith scored a goal during the time he was allowed to continue playing? Does the goal get cancelled or allowed to remain as a goal?

QUOTE ORIGINAL Q&A
VERY LATE SEND-OFF/RED CARD
Question:
In a professional match, the same player (Smith) receives a caution in the 5th minute and another in the 25th minute, but the referee crew doesn’t realize the same player was cautioned twice and consequently allows Smith to participate for the remaining twenty minutes of the first half. Play is stopped and restarted many times. The officials notice their error while in the locker room at the beginning of the half time intermission.
Question #1: Can Smith participate in the second half?
Question #2: If no to #1, does Smith’s team play short for the second half?
Question #3: If no to #1, when should the referee notify Smith that he has been sent off?
Question #4: If no to #1, does the referee display a red card to Smith?
Answer (April 3, 2003):
No.
Yes.
As soon as he figures it out. In other words, before the start of the second half.
Yes, if it is done on the field before the start of the second half.

If the referee informs Smith in the locker room that he has been dismissed, then no card is necessary. (And full details must be included in the referee’s match report.)
END QUOTE ORIGINAL Q&A

USSF answer (April 23, 2003):
: The goal stands — just another reason for referees to be careful about their bookkeeping.


ADVANTAGE
Your question:
In the Advice to Referees handbook, it is clearly stated that Advantage may only be applied to infringements of Law 12; it even goes so far as to specifically prohibit its application to Law 11. However, everyone knows that in practice most referees stretch the advantage clause to cover a variety of infringements, in particular offside. I have seen more than a few very intelligent, highly-respected referees wave down the AR’s flag, sometimes giving the advantage signal, as the ball is collected by the keeper. Is this practice merely a commonly accepted deviation from the letter of the law for the sake of the Spirit of the Game, or is this an officially endorsed practice?

Also, isn’t the whole concept of allowing a PK goal to stand despite defensive encroachment (or any of the other scenarios) just a form of advantage more rigid in its application? I say this because, for an incorrectly taken DFK (the restart PKs are loosely based upon) the restart is always a repeat DFK.

USSF answer (April 23, 2003):
The intelligent referee does not use the advantage on offside or on infringements of any Law other than Law 12. The intelligent referee either calls offside or finds that the conditions have not been met. The matter of allowing a penalty kick to be scored despite the occurrence of a violation of Law 14 is a matter of discretion for the referee based on whether he considers the violation to be trifling.


SLIDE TACKLES
Your question:
Are slide tackles legal when a player with possession of the ball and is about to score, and is slide tackled from behind while in the goalie box?

USSF answer (April 23, 2003):
A slide tackle is legal, provided it is performed legally. In other words, 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.

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. 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.

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.


Q&A LAW 3, Q&A 13
Your question:
I’ve been going through some of my readings and came across this conundrum.

From FIFA website…Q & A Law 3 #13… A substitute enters the field of play without having obtained the permission of the referee. While the ball is in play, an opponent punches him. What action should the referee take?

1. The referee stops play, sends off the player guilty of violent conduct, cautions the substitute for entering the field of play without the permission of the referee and restart the game by an indirect free-kick against the team of the substitute at the place where the infringement occurred.*

Law 3 in the Law Book states that “If a substitute enters the field…play is restarted with a dropped ball…”

What am I missing regarding these restarts…

USSF answer (April 23, 2003):
: In Q. 13 the substitute also comes on the field without permission, but he is the victim of the violent conduct by his opponent, the greater of the two evils. The IFAB (and FIFA, who printed and disseminated it for them) erred on Q.13. The correct answer is that the indirect free kick is awarded TO the team of the substitute. We hope that this correction will be included in the updated version of the Q&A.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION AND TIME WASTING (EXPANDED ANSWER TO ITEM OF 7 APR 2003)
Your question:
Is there a distinction between these two events in enforcing the GK six-second law?
1. Goalkeeper deliberately parries the ball to ground and retains possession in penalty area for more than six seconds while playing ball with his feet.
2. Goalkeeper has possession of ball with hands, but drops ball to ground and plays the ball with his feet for more than six seconds in penalty area. I believe #1 could be deemed to be time wasting as GK never gave up possession. #2 would not. USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
[Answer expanded, but not changed in substance, on April 23, 2003.]
There is a great difference between the two situations, but not in the proper action to be taken by the referee. In each case, the goalkeeper had possession and then gave it up. When the goalkeeper parries the ball (first situation), he has established possession and the six-second count begins then. Once the goalkeeper surrenders possession, the six seconds are no longer counted and the ball is playable. When the goalkeeper releases the ball to the ground (in both situations), he has relinquished possession and the ball is available for all players. In addition, the goalkeeper cannot play the ball again with his hands until certain conditions are fulfilled — none of which is proposed in the question.


WE PROTEST!
Your question:
I ran into a situation over the weekend and would like some clarification if we could protest this ruling by a referee.

In the second half, the referee ran the game 6 minutes and 3 second over the allotted time. (These was a 35 minute half’s, the second half ran 41 minutes and 3 seconds). There was no injury, in the second half. Three minutes after time should have expired, i.e. in minute 38, the referee told our coach he could not substitute as one minute was left, the game then went on another 3 minutes and 3 seconds. The other team scored to tie the game.

Since this was a league game, points are involved and needless to say, some very upset kids and parents. Appreciate an answer, so I can go back to the team.

USSF answer (April 23, 2003):
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.

If the facts are indeed as you state them, we would like to wring the referee’s neck — first for obviously making errors in timing (assuming the facts were as stated), but also for making the truly dumb statement that a substitution request could not be allowed because there was only one minute left.

It is certainly your right to protest, but there would appear to be little chance of success.


WHY NO CAUTION??
Your question:
In your response to ³ADDING TIME; TOO MANY ENTER AT A SUBSTITUTION² dated March 27, 2003, you indicated that no caution would be given because the player entered the field with the Referee¹s permission. While I agree with this assessment, shouldn¹t a caution be issued because the player ³deliberately leaves the field of play without the Referee¹s permission² also indicated in Law 12?

USSF answer (April 23, 2003):
Why ever would one do that? First, this is an infringement of Law 3, not Law 12, so the analogy is inappropriate. Second, even if it were possible, the referee would be stabbing himself in the foot by doing that. The intelligent referee will not invite trouble where all is serene.


WHO CHANGES JERSEYS?
Your question:
I have a question concerning the nature of goalkeeper jerseys and referee jerseys. In a recent spring league game our goalkeeper was wearing a yellow goalkeeper jersey. Neither team had yellow jerseys and neither did the opposing keeper. After the referee had checked over the team cleats and shin guards making sure all was legal he asked our keeper which color jersey he would be wearing throughout the game. He told them he would be wearing a yellow jersey. The referee then told him that he may not wear it as the referees would be wearing yellow and they would conflict. The goalkeeper then put on another jersey allowed by the referee. My question to you is, who should change jerseys? Should it be the referees or the goalkeeper? If it is the goalkeeper then why aren’t yellow keeper jerseys banned in soccer games?

USSF answer (April 23, 2003):
When we had only black uniforms, we referees rarely had color-conflict problems with players — and then the players decided they wanted to look “bad” and wear black. Now referees have four different jersey colors to choose from: gold, red, black, and blue. The referee team should make every effort to accommodate the players in choice of colors, but if the referees cannot all change to the same color, then they will ask the goalkeeper, the player least likely to be inconvenienced, to change. If the goalkeeper has no shirt of another color, then he or she may wear the same colors as the refereeing team.


HANGING ON THE CROSSBAR
Your question:
We have this big debate in our state and i have heard many answers to this question, let’s see what you think. A defender jumps up and catches the crossbar as the attacker is shooting the ball, as he is hanging there the ball hits the defender right smack middle of the chest. So let’s hear what you have to say to this situation.

USSF answer (April 23, 2003):
We say the defender is guilty of unsporting behavior for hanging on the crossbar. This is misconduct and is punishable by an indirect free kick, to be taken after the referee has cautioned him and shown him the yellow card. If the referee believes the defender denied an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by this offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick, the referee will likely decide to send him off and show the red card.

NOTE: See? We answer even rude questions.


WEARING THE BADGE
Your question:
When doing a match is the logo such as the U.S.S.F. logo on the sleeve of the OSI yellow/black pin striped shirted REQUIRED under the laws of the game?

USSF answer (April 23, 2003):
No. But the USSF badge must be worn when working competitions affiliated with USSF.


“ACCIDENTAL” STRIKING
Your question:
The goalkeeper comes out to play a ball in the box and “accidentally” smacks an opposing player in the face. No blood is drawn but the attacking player was definately hit. It was not a definite goal scoring opportunity as there were 5 or 6 other players in the box. What is the call? Is it a cardable offense?

USSF answer (April 22, 2003):
According to your scenario this was not an obvious goalscoring opportunity. If, in the opinion of the referee, this was the foul of striking an opponent, then the restart is a direct free kick for the opposing team from the place where the foul occurred. If this was in the penalty area, then it is a penalty kick. If, again in the opinion of the referee, this foul was committed either recklessly or with excessive force — in other words the foul included misconduct — the restart would stay the same, but the punishment becomes more severe because of the misconduct. If the foul was reckless, the goalkeeper would be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior. If the foul was committed with excessive force (also known as violence), the goalkeeper would be sent off and shown the red card.


RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS FOR ADMINISTRATORS?
Your question:
Are you aware of any requirement that state administrators live in the state where they are an administrator?

USSF answer (April 22, 2003):
There are no residency policies regarding administrators.


A SPECTATOR INQUIRES
Your question:
1. Blue player is taken out from behind with a 2-handed push just inside own end of the field. Red player gets possession of the ball and play continues until ball goes out of bounds across goal line. When injured player is removed from field, play restarts with a goal kick. Why no foul? I am not a referee, but it looked to me like it should have been a card. (Not that it matters as far as a card goes, but blue player has several small abrasions and bruises on arms and upper legs, and 1 in. cut and moderate bruises on lower back. Player is a 12-year-old girl.)

2. Defending red player intentionally strikes attacking blue player in the ear with elbow while in the box as attacker is shooting. Attacking team is given an indirect kick. Why no card and why no PK? Our whole sideline thought it was a card and a PK. While attending the player, the coach attempted to ask the referee, but the center yelled, ³Get off my field!² (Attacker has 2 in. black goose egg behind ear and possible loss of hearing. It was a VERY hard hit! Same game, same player injured.)

3. This has happened several times in various games at several age levels. Ball strikes player¹s arm and player makes no attempt to play the ball (in one case, she was completely surprised, and was looking around to see what hit her). Sometimes, a kick (I am not sure if it is direct or indirect, except when it was a PK) is awarded for the team whose player is not struck, sometimes the ref says, ³play it² and sometimes the ref completely ignores it. I was under the impression that unintentional ³handling² (handling includes arms, correct?) was not a foul. There was a sign posted on the referee board at the fields a while back that said, ³Ball to hand, no foul, hand to ball foul.² Since different calls are made in the same situation, someone is making a mistake! What is the correct call?

USSF answer (April 22, 2003):
As stated here just recently, some referees actually do make mistakes and, though few will admit it, some referees even miss events on the field altogether. There is nothing anyone can do about it now, but here are the correct referee responses to your situations — assuming, of course, that you have described them completely accurately.

1. Direct free kick for Blue at the spot of the foul (as described).

2. Although the word “intentionally” is not in the Laws of the Game, the striking of the blue player in the ear by the red player should be regarded by the referee as at least “reckless,” meaning the player knew what she was doing but did it anyway, possibly trying to “send a message” to the blue player, and possibly “using excessive force,” meaning that the act was violent. A reckless player is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. A player who uses excessive force is sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card. The restart in the case you describe is a direct free kick or penalty kick if committed in the offending player’s penalty area.

3. 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.).


MECHANICS AND PROCEDURES
Your question:
What are the directives given to referee’s responsible for youth games re the following?

When an offside occurs and they raise their flag – do they stay there until the ref observes their flag – or do they give him approx 5 seconds then drop the flag and re-catch up with play?

When substituting, a referee forces a player to remain on the sideline until the player leaving the field steps off. Should the new player entering the field be allowed to take up his position before the referee indicates play should restart?

For what circumstances are youth referee’s directed to add additional time to the half. Ball out of play? Substitutions? Time wasting? injuries?

USSF answer (April 22, 2003):
Except where specifically noted, the following answers are applicable for all matches, not just youth games.
1. If the referee misses the assistant referee’s signal for offside, the assistant referee should stand at attention with the flag raised until the defending team gains clear possession or until a goal kick or throw-in is awarded to the defending team. To avoid such situations, the referee should make eye contact with the assistant referees as often as possible. In addition, the assistant referees must be alert for and mirror each other’s signals if needed to assist the referee.
These procedures should be clearly covered in the pregame meeting of the officials, particularly when working with young and/or new assistant referees.

2. The referee will normally allow a replacement goalkeeper to reach a reasonable playing position before restarting the game. Officially, of course, goalkeepers are expected to be properly equipped before entering the field so time is not wasted while the old and new goalkeepers exchange equipment (gloves, pads, etc.) but we know this is often not the case in youth matches. For all other players, the intelligent referee — remembering that two of his ultimate goals are fairness and enjoyment — will wait until the entering player is at least in the general area of his team, but it is not necessary to wait for the entering player to assume the exact position on the field occupied by the player he replaced.

3. 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 (the specific amount being 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. The referee’s decisions here should not differ greatly for youth matches.


KICKING THE BALL AT AN OPPONENT
Your question:
Player from attacking team A and player from defending team B are about 5 feet apart, in the penalty area about 10 yards wide of the goal and about 10 yards from the endline. They are facing each other, B is between A and the penalty mark, B with his back to the penalty mark, A facing the penalty mark. Player A hauls off and drills the ball, which hits player B in the family jewels. Can this be considered unsporting behavior? What would you look for in determining whether or not it might be unsporting behavior? Is your answer affected at all by whether or not player B crumples to the ground or continues playing for a while? Is your answer affected by where on B’s body the ball hits? In the case of the strike on the family jewels, it seems that a no-call may lead to retaliation on B’s part. But is it the view that B simply defends at his own peril, and A shouldn’t be penalized because there is no way of knowing if it wasn’t just an inaccurate kick?

USSF answer (April 22, 2003):
It is at least possible that the referee might decide, based on all the facts and circumstances and what had gone before this moment in the game, that the attacker was in fact deliberately using the ball to strike the opponent — if so, there might well be a case made for striking carelessly or even recklessly. Short of a statement made while the kick was being taken to the effect of “I’m gonna get you!” or “Take that, you scum!”, there is no reason to treat it the same as other forms of striking which are clearly violent conduct. Referees are not and should not try to be mind readers. Without the aforementioned statements or other evidence, the intelligent referee will reflect for a moment on the wisdom of wearing a cup and move on with the game.


PLAYER LEAVES WITH PERMISSION, NO SUB IN YET
Your question:
At a Goal kick. Routine sub situation. Player blue #6, leaves but no sub comes in. Ref not paying attention, allows goal kick, as #6 is leaving. So Blue team plays shorthanded. From bench area off field, player #6 sticks leg over touch line onto field, as play continues, trips opponent. Occurred on field by player — as substitution not completed — during play. Yes? So DFK, perhaps misconduct, etc.

USSF answer (April 22, 2003):
Blue #6 is still a player, as the substitution was not completed. Whatever the intention of the player, until one of two conditions exists, he is still a player — (1) a substitute enters the field with the permission of the referee or (2) the referee decides that the player is no longer physically able to participate in play (due to injury). At a minimum, Blue #6 must be called for tripping his opponent on the field; direct free kick for the opposing team.

Then we are left with some options for possible misconduct:
- If Blue #6 left with the permission of the referee, he then returned to the field of play without the referee’s permission and should be cautioned and shown the yellow card.
- If, in the opinion of the referee, Blue #6 is guilty of unsporting behavior for recklessly tripping the opponent, he is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. As this would be Blue #6′s second caution in the match, he must then be sent off and shown the red card.

Object lessons for all referees:
(1) Be aware of what players are doing and where they are.
(2) Do not allow the game to restart until substitutions are completed. In other words, the referee who fails to follow the requirements of Law 3 on substitution does so at his or her own peril.


SHIRT AND BADGE
Your question:
I am a Grade 8 Referee registered with the USSF. I currently only referee youth games for our local youth soccer league. I am just a soccer dad trying to help the organization get going. I was told by another referee that I could not wear my black badge on my referee uniform (the badge that says 2003 referee USSF). He informed me that since these matches are not sanctioned by FIFA, I should not be wearing the badge? This seems sort of silly to me, because the same circle of information is on my right shoulder of my yellow referee uniform shirt. And if this is true, Is there a badge that would be okay to wear? I fell silly having a big Velcro circle on my left shirt pocket?? !!

USSF answer (April 22, 2003):
The referee has a right to wear the USSF referee badge as long as he is registered for the current year and is not doing an unaffiliated or outlaw competition. If your local youth league is not affiliated, you should not wear the black USSF badge when working those games.

The symbol printed on your shirt does not signify registration with USSF; it indicates that the manufacturer, Official Sports International, Inc., is a sponsor of the USSF National Program for Referee Development.


SIZE OF THE GOAL AREA
Your question:
What are the dimensions of the 6 yard box?

USSF answer (April 22, 2003):
The “six-yard box,” also known as the goal area, measures six yards out along the goal line from the inside of each goalpost and six yards out from the goal line. That equals 6 plus 8 plus 6 yards long, 20 yards, by 6 yards yards wide.


SHORT HANDED OR NOT?
Your question:
If a player who was on the field in the first half of play commits misconduct that requires a send off just after the teams line up for the second half and it is clear that the player who commited the misconduct will not start the second half as he has been substituted out, should his team play short?

Referees in unlimited-substitution games tend not to have a formal substitution at the outset of the second half. Instead of waving the players on the field they just enter – and I think I’m correct in the interpertation that once they get on the field the referee should count the sides and make sure everyone is eligible and commencing play is an accepted aknowlegment of player entry and substitution.

In the situation I described above, play has not been (re)started for the second half. Is the participant who was a player of record at the end of the half and who is sent off prior to the start of the second half still considered a player of record, or is it that when his replacement enters the Field of Play the player from the first half at that time ceases to be a player?

USSF answer (April 22, 2003):
If the misconduct leading to the send-off/red card had occurred any time after the end of the half and before the start of the second half, the offending player’s team would have to play the second half of the game shorthanded. In this case, even though the teams were already lined up on the field for the start of the second half and this player was now clearly a substitute, the team will have to play shorthanded, as the second half had not started.


LEAVING THE FIELD OF PLAY TO TAKE A GOAL KICK
Your question:
Can a player leave the field of play without the referee’s permission in order to run back on the field to perform a goal kick?

This situation arose as follows: At a youth BU12 match, the defending team was awarded a goal kick.  A player from the defending team placed the ball at one front corner of the goal area. Another player on the same team stood at the other front corner of the goal area. As soon as the ball was properly placed, the player at the other front corner of the goal area ran in a straight line toward the goal line, left the field of play by going over the goal line, continued running around the back of the goal net, then re-entered the field on the other side of the goal and ran up and kicked the ball for the goal kick. It appeared the obvious purpose of this u-shaped maneuver was to give the kicker a lengthy running start in order to possibly increase the distance of the kick. Can a player leave the field of play for this purpose and in this manner?

I am aware that a player can leave the field of play in order to play a ball that is “in play” – such as coming off the field at the touchline to play a ball rolling on the touchline. A player can also come off the field of play to avoid being offside. But in the situation described above, the ball was not “in play.”

USSF answer (April 22, 2003):
In the normal course of events, players are expected to remain on the field of play. However, they are allowed to leave the field to retrieve balls for restarts on the boundary lines (corner kicks and throw-ins), balls that left the field after fouls or misconduct, and to avoid opponents blocking their way or to get to the ball still in play, as well as to perform the restart itself.

In short, yes. But bear in mind that the referee could, under certain circumstances, consider this act of leaving the field for a goal kick to be a timewasting tactic and deal with it in that light.


THE GOALKEEPER IS A “PLAYER,” OKAY?
Your question:
I assume that if player “A” takes a penalty kick, and the shot deflects back (either off the ‘keeper or the post), and then player “A” touches the ball again, that this is not allowed (since the player taking the PK, can not be the first player to touch the ball). Is this correct, that he can NOT be the first player to play the ball after the deflection?? OR, if it deflects off the keeper, is player “A” then not considered the “first player to touch the ball after the kick”, and therefore OK for player “A” to to play the ball??

Please clarify.

USSF answer (April 22, 2003):
It is true that the original kicker cannot be the first player to play the ball after it is kicked, but nothing in the Law prevents the original kicker from playing a rebound from the goalkeeper. According to Law 14, the kicker “does not play the ball a second time until it has touched another player.” The goalkeeper is considered a player, so the goalkeeper can also be “another player,” thus allowing the original kicker to play a ball that rebounds from the goalkeeper.


WHO TEAM CALLS THE TOSS?
Your question:
Law 8 states to determine which team kicks off a coin is tossed. Home or Visitor team making the coin toss call is not mentioned. Which team is to call flip of coin? I have visitor team call flip. In a game last week a referee had Home team call flip.

Please confirm.

USSF answer (April 18, 2003):
It makes absolutely no difference who tosses the coin or calls heads or tails. The referee should bow to custom and usage in the culture in which he is working.


NO REPLACEMENT FOR PLAYER SENT OFF
Your question:
I have a question about red cards. Say that someone in the match gets a red card. I understand that the referee sends the player off but, does this mean that there can be a substitution for this player? Or does this team play short for the rest of the match? Say there are multiple red cards does the team play short for as many cards there were?

USSF answer (April 17, 2003):
Once a player has been sent off and shown the red card, the player’s team must play “short” for the rest of the game. In other words, no, a player who has been sent off may not be substituted. And yes, a team must play one player short for each player sent off and shown the red card — until the number of players goes below the normal limit, seven. Once a team is below the limit of seven, the referee will abandon the game.


HANDLING AND THE SHOULDER
Your question:
If a player intentionally strikes the ball with his/her shoulder, is this considered handling? In this instance, shoulder is defined as the area of the body between the collar bone and the top of the arm.

USSF answer (April 17, 2003):
Given your definition of the shoulder, the answer is yes. You will find the information in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” sections 12.9-12.11:

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).

12.11 USE OF THE SHOULDER
Any use of the shoulder in playing the ball is considered as using the hand. This can mean that, even though the player leaves his hand/arm close to his body, he may have moved the body so as to strike or propel the ball with the arm or hand, and the referee must watch for actions of that sort. Propelling the ball forward using the front part of the shoulder is considered handling, even when the main area of contact between ball and body is the chest.
END OF QUOTE


OFFENSIVE, INSULTING OR ABUSIVE LANGUAGE (OR GESTURES)
Your question:
[A coach asks:] What are the rules regarding Foul Language? A few years back I was told at a Referee seminar that the NCAA was “red carding” players for use of foul language. Is this true? I’m appalled at the leniency by referees to the use of profanity in the youth game. What are the actual rules??

USSF answer (April 17, 2003):
Well, the U. S. Soccer Federation cannot speak for the college game (NCAA), but in the world game of soccer a player is sent off and shown the red card if he or she “uses offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures.” It should be no different in your state than in the rest of the world.

There is also a memorandum of 14 March 2003 on this matter, available for download on this site.


PLAYER OFF THE FIELD
Your question:
On a corner kick, the goalkeeper comes out and catches the ball. After catching the ball in the field of pay and while keeping the ball in the field of play, ONE foot steps over the end line. the other foot is still in the field of play. Is the goal keeper inbounds or out of bounds. Similar questions, an offensive player while controlling the ball and while the ball is in the field of play steps over the touch line and back into the filed of play. Play continues or stops?

USSF answer (April 17, 2003):
You ask whether the goalkeeper is “inbounds or out of bounds” but this is not the correct question. Frankly, the referee shouldn’t really care if the goalkeeper is on or off the field, but only if the ball is on or off the field. Law 9 gives us a very simple test — has the whole of the ball completely passed over the line?

In the same way and for the same reason, the referee doesn’t care if a player steps partially, or even entirely, off the field during play if, in the opinion of the referee, such action was part of normal play. Again, we go to Law 9 for the answer. Play stops only if the ball leaves the field or if the referee stops play.

In short, a player is allowed to leave the field momentarily during the course of play if the situation requires it. A situation that would certainly require this would be playing the ball.


‘KEEPER’S HANDS AND THE BALL REVISITED
Your question:
I am now moving into centering more U16 and higher club matches, and I am having some second thoughts on calling the PK.

Early on, and I still tend to feel this way, I figured a foul should be a foul no matter where it happens – at center circle or in penalty area. As I have more games under my belt, I realize that the “lesser” or more trifling foul should not get the call in the penalty area. I am ok with that and understand entirely (I think). But a colleague stated that a National ref explained to him that a foul should be a FOUL! to get the PK call, since in awarding the PK we are basically giving the attacking team a goal. I don’t know how comfortable I am with this, and since I’m not comfortable I’m asking. I guess I still lean toward the philosophy that a foul at midfield should be a foul in the penalty area. Two scenarios I have experienced or observed:
1. Player shoots from about 16 yards, ball goes straight to keeper. After shot, player is fouled (“sandwiched” by two defenders) and goes down. Foul was a good two steps after shot. (Gulp) I didn’t call the PK. Should I have done so?
2. Player shoots while defender has a handful of jersey. No call. However, similarly severe jersey pulls were called outside of the penalty area. (I wasn’t the ref this time)

What is your advice to a referee hoping to upgrade this summer?

USSF answer (April 17, 2003):
Based on the scenario you described first, it would appear that a penalty kick would have been the appropriate decision — a direct free kick foul was committed by a defender inside his penalty area (of course, we would “swallow our whistle” for a moment to see if the ball went into the net anyway). As for scenario 2, it would appear that a penalty kick call would NOT have been appropriate since, as you specifically note, the shirt pulling did not interfere with the opponent’s ability to make a shot on goal. In this case, the holding was trifling and would not have been called at midfield any more than it should be called here. The “severity” of the holding (shirt pulling) is not the issue, the issue is what effect did it have.

A foul should be a FOUL anywhere to be called. If a “foul” is questionable, in other words, doubtful, then it should not have been called in the first place. The referee who wants a foul to be a FOUL is absolutely correct — but we suspect that he falls into the trap that swallows many referees, wanting a foul to be something that probably goes beyond the “careless” level which is all the Law itself requires.

A foul in the penalty area must not be any different than a foul at midfield: they must both be fouls as defined in the Laws of the Game and emphasized in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
QUOTE
12.1 WHAT IS A FOUL?
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. Deliberate handling of the ball is committed against the opposing team, not against a particular opponent. If any of these three requirements is not met, the action is not a foul; however, the action can still be misconduct.

Under the terms of Law 12, the word “deliberate” in the sense of deliberately committing a foul does not mean that the player intentionally set out to kick, push, trip, hold or otherwise foul his opponent. If that were so, the referee would have to be capable of reading a player’s mind. Under Law 12, the referee makes a decision based upon what he sees a player actually do ‹ the result of the player¹s action ‹ not upon what he thinks is in the player’s mind.
END OF QUOTE

The only difference will be whether the foul is a foul punished by a direct free kick (or penalty kick if committed in the penalty area) or one punished by an indirect free kick.


‘KEEPER’S HANDS AND THE BALL REVISITED
Your question:
Here is something where I would appreciate an official clarification:
In regards to your April 2 answer:
=========================================
‘KEEPER’S HANDS AND THE BALL
Your question:
I can’t find this in the laws of the game or on the “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” or any the other of the handbooks I have. What determines when the keeper is out of the penalty area and should be penalized for handling the ball? Is it the position of his feet or the ball crossing over the 18 yard line? If his foot is on the line but not over what is the call? What about one foot out and one foot in? I just want to be clear on what to look for?

USSF answer (April 2, 2003):
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 broken the Law.
==========================================

With the elimination of the steps, the frequency of keepers carrying the ball close to the edge, and to all appearances, beyond the bounds of the penalty area while releasing the ball into play, has increased substantially. Along with this has been an increase in assistants flagging such apparant breaches, over zealous referees awarding DFK’s to the opponents, spectator unrest, and even cautions to keepers who apparantly cross the line once too many times. There seems to be some confusion.

Further, even amongst skilled and experienced referees with whom I have discussed this, on-line as well as off, with those whom I work and assign, there is disagreement. The disagreement stems not so much on how we handle it, since most would make no call, but on the technical aspect of the Laws.

My opinion, which, by the way is in the minority, is, since the keeper is entitled to handle the ball within his/her own penatly area, if while releasing the ball from his/her possession, the ball accidentally crosses out of the penalty area while in contact with the keepers hands, it is not an offense at all. It is not a deliberate breach of the laws, not to be confused with a keeper carrying the ball out of the penalty area prior to releasing it or deliberately handling the ball outside the PA, all of which would be fouls.

The opposing view is that if the ball passes fully outside the penatly area while in contact with the keepers hands, even if in the process of being released, it is a deliberate breach of the laws. The rational for not calling the offense is that it is trifling. The keeper should be warned, and if this persists, could even be cautioned.

My question, therefore, is:
In your April 2 answer to ‘KEEPER’S HANDS AND THE BALL, you said: “. . . (and deliberately on the part of the goalkeeper).” Does this mean that if, in the process of releasing the ball from his possession, the keeper accidentally handles the ball outside his/her own penalty area, that the keeper had not committed the offense of deliberate handling?

Further, what official guidance might be offered to assist referees and assistants in judging this?

USSF answer (April 10, 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.

If the goalkeeper accidentally carries the ball over the line marking the penalty area while releasing it so that others may play it, this is a trifling infringement and the intelligent referee will overlook the matter. If the goalkeeper does it deliberately, the intelligent referee should first warn the goalkeeper and only stop play and award a direct free kick to the opposing team if it occurs again.


REFEREE ERRORS
Your question:
Here is a wacky set of circumstances that, unfortunately, decided a match and tournament championship against us last year. I never understood what happened and it’s been gnawing at me ever since:

A youth (U12) girls tournament game:
1. In a goal area scramble, opposition knocked down our keeper, who remained on the ground motionless.
2. Roughly simultaneous to (1), the ball was cleared away from the goal.
3. Opposition recovered the ball near the half line and renewed their attack.
4. Referee did not notice the keeper down until the attack approached the goal along the end line.
5. Referee stopped play and motioned the coach onto the field to help the keeper. Referee then asked the coach to carry the keeper off the field at the end line near the goal. The referee also told the coach that a substitution could be brought on from our bench.
6. Coach assigned a field player to become keeper; that player began putting on keeper jersey while standing on the field of play.
7. Referee quickly restarted with a drop ball on the 6 yd line, which was uncontested and was shot straight into an unguarded goal.
8. Coach protested quick restart and the referee acknowledged that no substitution had yet occured from bench players (coach was assisting downed keeper off field). Referee appeared to decide to redo drop ball restart.
9. After opposition bench protest, referee allowed goal and restarted with a kickoff.

The opposition should kick the ball out of bounds; but youth players do not always recognize this convention. No law penalizes this if it does not occur, of course. A good referee should stop play earlier. But what should a referee do if the downed player is not seen until late as in this case?
1) Should play be allowed to continue? (in youth matches the decision to stop play is acceptable for safety reasons)
2) Can a referee “maneuver” to ensure that the drop ball be uncontested in front of the goal (ie make sure no defenders are nearby or aware of restart)? I know keepers are routinely given uncontested drop balls, perhaps this is the same?
3) My biggest question: Can a referee restart before bench substitutions are made?
4) Can a referee restart before a new keeper is ready? I assume this is at the discretion of the referee as long as the keeper has a different colored jersey and is on the field. Should the new keeper have changed her jersey off the field?

This appeared to be horribly “unfair,” but may have been within the laws of the game (perhaps not “law 18″)? Or just an arbitrary unsupportable action by the referee? Your comments would be more than welcome.

USSF answer (April 10, 2003):
First let’s clarify some erroneous assumptions that many people make: (1) It is not always a foul if there is contact and a player, even the goalkeeper, goes down. The makers of the Laws have told us that soccer is a tough, combative sport – where the contest to gain possession of the ball should nonetheless be fair. They have also said that challenges to gain the ball, even when really vigorous, must be allowed by the referee — as long as they are fair. Referees must strive to promote player safety, but not at the expense of fair play for all. (2) There is no requirement in the Laws that the goalkeeper be on her feet during play — or even on the field!

Another erroneous assumption is one we referees tend to make: that we are infallible. If only! The referee in this case made a number of mistakes.

Referee error 1: The referee should stop play for a player down ONLY if he believes that a player is seriously injured and needs to be removed from the field, but not otherwise. Referee error 2 occurred next: Under the Laws of the Game, an injured goalkeeper may be treated on the field.) Once the referee has determined that the player must be removed from the field and has decided that a substitution may be made, as in this case, then he must wait until the substitute has entered the field and achieved a playing position. This is particularly true in the case of the goalkeeper.

Referee error 3 (at least in the vast majority of matches played in this country): No referee should ever make the mistake of ordering that an injured player be taken from the field without examination — the referee invites a team official to make that evaluation. While we want to err on the side of player safety, we cannot forget the specter of litigation.

Referee error 4 was that the restart was not correctly taken. The referee should not have dropped the ball without the new goalkeeper in proper position. The correct decision in this case would have been to retake the dropped ball.

While it is tradition that the opponent in such cases kick the ball out of play, it is not required by the Laws. But there was a fifth referee error: There is no requirement in the Laws that a player from each team be present at the dropped ball; nor any player, for that matter. If necessary, the intelligent referee will work the dropped ball so that the appropriate team will receive the ball.


NO RED CARD HERE — PUT IT IN THE REPORT
Your question:
Player A punches Player B. Center sees it and issues red card. He looks to lead AR who indicates Player B did not start it. 20 minutes later, the trail AR ask why both players were not red carded as Player B threw the first punch. One of the higher up refs on a web site says to red card player B at the half and there’s nothing you can do about the fact that 20 minutes have passed. To quote ATR the referee “is not obligated to take this action immediately, but MUST do so when the ball next goes out of play.” Seems to me he can’t issue a card 20 minutes later assuming the bal has gone out of play at least once before the half. Your take?

USSF answer (April 10, 2003):
Although a referee cannot rescind a caution/yellow card or send-off/red card once play has restarted, a referee may issue a caution/yellow card or send-off/red card immediately upon learning the facts from a neutral assistant referee or fourth official. Nevertheless, the Law is clear that, with one exception, every card must either be given at the time of the misconduct or no later than the very next stoppage. If the referee fails to give the card within these limits, the card cannot be given at all (though full details of the situation should be included in the match report). The exception is that a red card may be shown at any time prior to the end of a match if a player was given two yellow cards without the red card being shown and this fact is brought to the referee’s attention by a neutral official.


CHARGING THE SHIELDING PLAYER
Your question:
in a previous question: Marking vs. Impeding the G.K the USSF reply on April 1, 2003: “Overall, not necessarily relative to this one particular situation but during the normal course of play, what I read into this is that USSF is telling me that if an attacking player is impeding (shielding the ball) the defender is allowed to make contact with the back of the shoulder blade in an attempt to play the ball. Yes, No, Maybe???

In this case it is allowed to charge the shoulder blade of the shielding attacker. In another question “What contact allowed when a player is shielding the ball” the answer 3/27 is “Nor may the opponent charge the player in the back”. Is it really possible for the ref to distinguish between shoulder blade push and back push?

USSF answer (April 10, 2003):
Yes, we expect referees to know the difference between a fair charge (defined below in an excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”) and serious foul play, a charge in the middle of the back.

QUOTE
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. It is a violation of Law 12 to perform an otherwise fair charge against an opponent who is already being fairly charged by another player. Such an action is at minimum a careless challenge. It is also holding and is commonly referred to as a “sandwich.”
END OF QUOTE


REFEREE ABANDONS GAME
Your question:
We played a game that began raining in the first half. during the half it was coming down very heavy. The ref instructed me that the field was playable and we would continue on. The opposing coach refused to play his team due to the rain and pulled them off the field. The ref then called the game. The ref informed me that the other coach did not want to play and the game would end in a 0-0 tie.

My question is, If the ref declares the game playable, should this not result in a forfeit to the opposing team?

USSF answer (April 10, 2003):
If a game is abandoned or terminated before it is completed, the determination of the result is up to the competition authority (league, cup, tournament). In most cases, competitions declare that if a full half has been played, the result stands, but that does not apply to all competitions. The referee does not have the authority to declare what the score is or who has won the game. The referee’s only recourse is to include in his game report full details of what caused the match to be abandoned or terminated.


MISCONDUCT OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY
Your question:
A goalkeeper standing in his penalty area strikes an opponent who is off the field of play. After dismissing the GK for VC, what is the restart if this occurred during play? In a similar scenario, the GK leaves the field of play to strike an opponent. What is the restart? What if the GK leaves the field of play to strike a spectator?

USSF answer (April 9, 2003):
Because the misconduct occurred off the field, if the ball was still in play when the referee stopped play for the violent conduct, the restart would be a dropped ball at the place where the ball was, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8. If the ball was already out of play, the restart must be appropriate to the reason the ball was out of play. The referee would, of course, send off the goalkeeper for violent conduct and show him the red card.


NO JEWELRY!!!
Your question:
I have been in soccer for many years, first as a player later as a team coach and finally as a referee, in all these years I make the same question to any buddy who know about soccer rules.

The law book (Law 4) read: “A player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player (Including any kind of Jewelry” However I see that many players in the big ligs (MLS, Mexican, Europe etc.) wear jewelry and taping earrings during the games, my question is, the referees that work these games belong to a different FIFA group? why these referees allowed these players play with jewelry? As you may know, the job of the referees is very difficult, and for those of us at the amateur level it is very hard to explain to the young players why they cannot wear jewelry when the FIFA referees in these games continue to permit the players to do so.

I hope that in the future FIFA, USSF and the other federations take a good look at this situation and enforce the rule at all levels.

USSF answer (April 9, 2003):
The U. S. Soccer Federation has made its position clear to all referees, from those at the top of the ladder to those just starting out: NO JEWELRY!

Here is an answer to a similar question, provided on April 2, 2003:
QUOTE
Law 4 – The Players’ Equipment states very firmly in its very first paragraph: “A player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewelry).” This means that all items of jewelry are normally considered dangerous. There are only 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.

Taping earrings should not be permitted by any referee, as there is still the danger of injury to the player. Taping does not negate “must not . . . wear. . . any kind of jewelry.”
END OF QUOTE

In addition, all referees affiliated with U. S. Soccer must follow the guidance of the Federation, published in March of this year, regarding player equipment/jewelry:
QUOTE
Memorandum
To: Referees Officiating Professional Matches
All Affiliate Members
National Referee Instructors and Trainers
National Assessors
From: Alfred Kleinaitis
Manager of Referee Development and Education
Subject: Law 4, Players¹ Equipment (Jewelry)
Date: March 17, 2003
_________________________________________________________
Law 4 (The Players’ Equipment) states very clearly that “A player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewelry).” In addition, FIFA included in the 2002/2003 edition of the Laws of the Game a section on “Additional Instructions for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials” in which this requirement is further emphasized: “Referees are reminded that, in accordance with Law 4, players may not wear any kind of jewelry.” Referees officiating in professional matches must ensure that this clear restriction is properly enforced.

USSF reaffirms its advice to referees that jewelry worn solely for medical purposes may be permitted but only if, in the opinion of the referee, the item is not dangerous. Such items can often be worn safely if appropriately taped. Additionally, for married players, a wedding ring may also be permitted if it does not include any dangerous projections. An item of jewelry permitted by the referee under these provisions must have been carefully inspected prior to the commencement of the match.

The match must not be permitted to start with any player wearing illegal equipment or apparel, including jewelry. Players who insist on retaining such items will not be permitted to participate in the match. Any player who, having been instructed to correct illegal equipment, nevertheless attempts to participate in play without having made the correction is subject to being cautioned for dissent.

The referee, assistant referees, and the fourth official all share in the responsibility to enforce the clear requirements of Law 4 related to jewelry and are advised to discuss in their pregame meeting specific measures each will take to ensure compliance prior to as well as throughout the match.

Cc: Chair, State Referee Committee, State Directors of Instruction, State Directors of Assessment, State Referee Administrators, State Youth Referee Administrators
END OF QUOTE

It doesn’t get any clearer than that.


U-8 SMALL-SIDED TIME PERIODS
Your question:
how many minutes in a quarter foR u-8?

USSF answer (April 9, 2003):
U-8s play four 12-minute quarters in small-sided games. If they play other than small-sided games, the time in the periods is up to the competition.


WHEN TO END A PLAYING PERIOD
Your question:
1. There are strong opinions has to whether it is acceptable to end a game during a dead ball interlude. To wait until a player completes a thrown in or launches a goal kick in order to blow the game over seems to be silly and not keeping in the spirit of added time which makes up for lost time for pauses in the game above and beyond reasonably paced restart efforts.

2. There are strong opinions as to whether it is acceptable to end a game by a very strict adherence to a fixed time so that in between the time a ball is struck and it enters the goal, and the referee determines that full time has been played, he/ she can state that the game is over and the goal is not counted. Some referees feel that there is an unofficial prerogative to allow a direct attack on goal to play out fully before the whistle blows. I know that when full time is over,it is over, but please elaborate .

Please provide your thoughts and the official positions in both cases.

USSF answer (April 9, 2003):
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 you, the referee, and fair to the players.


OFFSIDE
Your question:
With the attacker A, running down the middle behind the last defender, his team mate makes a long throw-in. Before the ball reaches attacker A from the throw-in, the defender B catches up and attempts gain control of the ball. However, being a little late, the ball glances off defender B, and reaches attacker A, who is still in an offside position.

What is the call?
1) No offsides since the offside position is allowed at throw-ins, when received directly.
2) Offsides is the call, since when the defender touched the ball, the attacker was in an offsides position, and since the attacker had not received the ball directly from the throw-in.

Does the call change if the one who deflects the ball to the attacker A in an offside position, is his own teammate, who was also in an offside position at time of the throw-in?

USSF answer (April 9, 2003):
First the vocabulary lesson, then the answer. There is no such word or condition as “offsides” in soccer. The word is “offside.” The other word is used in the game played with the pointy ball.

There can be no offside in this situation. At a throw-in it makes no difference if the ball deflects off an opponent. This is treated as if the ball had come directly to the person in the offside position. (If it had deflected off a teammate, then offside would come into consideration.)


SEND-OFF AT A SUBSTITUTION; PLAY SHORT OR NOT?
Your question:
I played in a match yesterday and had a questionable call made in the game, FIFA rules do not state whether or not this is the case or not so I have to ask you. Substitution was made and as the player was coming off the field and arrived at the touch line, he received a red card. Does the team go down to 10 men after that? In my opinion that is the case, the same as if he was actually on the field. They continued with the full sqaud of 11.

USSF answer (April 9, 2003):
In all cases, the player who was being substituted out will be sent off (for whatever serious misconduct he committed) and shown the red card. If the referee and assistant referee or fourth official followed the requirements in Law 3 for substitution, in other words, if the new player (to be substituted in) had not yet entered the field, then the substitution was not completed. If the substitution was not completed, his team must then play short. The game restarts for the reason it had been stopped prior to the substitution.


OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY OR NOT?
Your question:
During the Manchester United VS Real Madrid Match Manchester Uniteds keeper deliberately handled the ball outside of his penalty area but did not prevent a goal scoring opputunity as he handled the ball just outside the right corner of his penalty area preventing the ball from going out for a goal kick and there was no opposition within 10-20 yards. The commentators where saying that he should have been sent off and I just want to know what apart from a direct free kick from where he handled the ball should be done.

USSF answer (April 9, 2003):
Caveat: The U. S. Soccer Federation (USSF) does not presume to tell the referees of other national associations how to referee the game. This answer would apply to a game played under the auspices of the USSF.

If the goalkeeper did not deny the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity when he handled the ball, then nothing else should have been done — provided the referee did indeed award the opposing team a direct free kick from the place where the goalkeeper deliberately handled the ball outside his penalty area.

It is unfortunate that many commentators, no matter their nationality, are not well aware of the Laws of the Game and their proper application.


FOR THE GOOD OF THE GAME?
Your question:
A scenario was presented in a class module titled “Refereeing for the Good of the Game.” The purpose for the class is to provide referees with tools/ideas to keep the game going without being too stuck on being a “by the Book” referee.

Attacking player Red at 10 yards in front of the attacking goal, shoots on goal. Defender, fullback, Blue, in haste and under pressure from a second Red attacker, within the goal area at 3 yards in front of the mouth of goal, deliberately kicks the ball to the Goalkeeper, not too far away, but also in front of the mouth of goal at 3 yards distance. The GK handles the ball. Referee stops play for GK handling the ball on a deliberate kick to the GK by a teammate, awarding an IFK, arm raised up. The Goalkeeper (being the gentleman that he is) drops the ball at said spot (3 yards in front of the mouth of goal) and retreats. Red attackers 1 & 2 quickly approach the ball for a quick kick. One touches, the other kicks the ball over the goal line wide of the goal. All the players, Red and Blue, prepare for a goal kick restart.

The positioning or actions of the referee are not mentioned at all in this scenario other than what is written above.

My question: Does, or may, the referee allow the Red’s IFK quick kick, from three yards in front of the attacking goal, that went wide of the goal to remain, then restarting with a goal kick? This will keep the flow of the game continuing on without bringing players back to do it again.

Or does the referee have the IFK retaken at the appropriate spot on the goal area line closest to the point where the GK handled the ball? This will ensure that the ball is properly put into play.

USSF answer (April 9, 2003):
The game was restarted improperly. Place the ball at the appropriate spot, as indicated in your question, and retake the indirect free kick. Read into this answer a condemnation of the referee for not being on the spot to ensure a correct restart in the first place.


THERE IS NO “ATTEMPTED GRABBING” FOUL
Your question:
We had a situation on Saturday that I would like to run by you. One of our kids made a shot at the goal. The goalie trapped the ball, but then he reached out with both hands to grab an opposing player running by. Luckily he missed. My question is, had he been able to grab the kid . . . what, if any, penalty could have been called?

USSF answer (April 9, 2003):
If the goalkeeper had actually done this, laying hands on the opponent within the goalkeeper’s penalty area, the referee would have had no recourse but to award the opposing team a penalty kick.


POOR MECHANICS LEADS TO PROBLEM FOR REFEREE
Your question:
I was a center at at U12G game with real ARs. There were about 2 minutes left in a 1-1 game. I was standing at the upper left corner of the penalty area and the AR was to my right at the corner on the end line. A player took a shot which the goalie caught and took a step backwards. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the AR quickly raise his flag and immediately take it down. I then turned my attention away from play (the goalie was running out to punt the ball downfield) and watched him run upfield. Upto that point, we did not have eye contact. There was quite a bit of controversy from the sidelines as to the fact the goalie had brought the ball back into the goal, completely crossing the goal line (how people at the center stripe could see that when I couldn’t is beyond me, but spectators are always right .) Since play was continung, I assumed that the AR was moving upfield since the ball was punted away (all this took place in 5-6 seconds). I didn’t feel that I could stop play since I wasn’t convinced a goal had been scored.

The game ended 2 minutes later in a chorus of controversy. Not withstanding the fact that USSF teaches ARs to raise the flag and move upfield as a signal for a disputed goal), I felt that the AR should have stayed in place with the flag raised until I made eye contact and perhaps then run upfield. If I had seen the AR standing in place, I would have realized what had happened and stopped play at that point. To me, this would have been no different than the situation on a goal being scored and the AR calling offsides.

Upon speaking to the senior referee of our league, he felt that the AR did the right thing. His concern was that if the AR had stood there, I could have interpreted that as an offsides call. My response was that context is important here. There were defenders standing on the goal line and there couldn’t be offsides.

Obviously, at least to me there needed to be some unusual action. So what is the real story here? I realize that USSF teaches that AR signals should be subtle, but in some cases, it seems to me that signals should not be subtle.

USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
This issue is not a disputed goal but a goal which has been scored despite the appearance of players continuing to play the ball. Nowhere in your scenario did you indicate whether you had discussed the situation with the assistant referee (AR) in question. Not having this information, we can only speculate.

First, the correct signal for a ball into goal and then pulled back into play is as you described it — the AR stands with his flag up, makes eye contact with the referee, and then moves upfield to indicate a good goal.

Your presumption about what the AR should have done is misleading, however. The AR standing with the flag up in the air is only asking for the referee’s attention — a sort of “Hey, ref!” signal. The eye contact is the referee’s answer — “Yeah, what is it?” It is what comes next that is important. Offside could be signalled, but so could a foul or misconduct, a throw-in, a goal kick, a corner kick, or, as here, a goal. If a goal had been scored by an attacker in an offside position, the signal by the AR would have been completely different than what the AR did in this case.

The problem that occurred here is that, from your point of view, the AR did not wait for eye contact before running upfield. However, you say you saw the flag go up and should have wondered why the AR would do this and then run upfield. On the other hand, you did say that you saw the flag go up and thus, presumably, the AR saw you see this — this might have, in his mind, constituted the requisite eye contact and thus his actions were perfectly understandable and, from his point of view, correct.

The entire scenario should be taken as an object lesson for referees and assistant referees to slow things down a bit and make their actions more deliberate. There are few things that can happen on a soccer field, from the referee’s point of view, which are so critical that good decisionmaking couldn’t be made better by waiting a second or two.


POSITION AT CORNER KICK
Your question:
Which is the best position in corner-kick in your opinion for the referee?

USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
There is no “best” position for the referee at a corner kick. Proper positioning must be intelligent and flexible, allowing the referee to see what is going on at the restart. Some referees will position themselves near the goal post, while others will take up a position nearer the corner of the penalty area, 14-17 yards from the goal line. It is a matter of “reading” what is going on in the game and preparing for it. It also involves proper use of the assistant referee at that end of the field. It is also advisable to vary your position throughout the game so that players cannot predict where you will be and thus “hide” violations from you.


INDIRECT FREE KICKS IN SMALL-SIDED GAMES
Your question:
As I understand it, the modified LOTG for small-sided soccer games where there is no goalie indicate that all free kicks are indirect. Is it necessary to give the IFK signal for every free kick, or what would the proper signal be?

Also, since there are no DFK’s is it correct to assume that no goal can be scored directly from a goal kick or kickoff?

USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
Although it is not stated specifically, under small-sided rules the kick-off is treated as an indirect free kick, just like all the other kicked restarts (including the corner kick). For the education of the players, and to remind the referee, give the indirect free kick signal at every kicking restart.


TRICKY PLAY TO BEAT OFFSIDE TRAP QUITE LEGAL
Your question:
Team A is attacking, B is defending. B has used the quick offside trap to catch attackers off guard several times (by quick I mean stepping forward right before a pass is made to place their opponent offside). Team A catches on to the tactic and purposely leaves a man in line with defenders to be placed offside. Team B, seeing the “decoy,” prepares to step forward and put him offside. Sure enough, Team A player makes motion to pass to the potential offside player, prompting Team B to move forward, only this time faking the pass and dribbling full sprint past the defenders who are expecting the offside call and moving in the wrong direction.

Does the use of this decoy still constitute involvement and thus offside (without him in the picture the defenders would not step forward, instead collapsing on the attacker), or is this just another smart and sneaky tactic that makes soccer enjoyable?

USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
Yes, this is one of those smart and sneaky tactics that are both legal and enjoyable to watch. The only way to win is to score.


TECHNICAL AREA; FOURTH OFFICIAL’S “AREA”
Your question:
Can you please provide me with the measurements of the team technical areas and the 4th official “area”?

USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
The information you seek on the technical area is in the Laws of the Game:
QUOTE
The Technical Area

The technical area described in Law 3, International F.A. Board Decision no. 2, relates particularly to matches played in stadia with a designated seated area for technical staff and substitutes as shown below.

Technical areas may vary between stadia, for example in size or location, and the following notes are issued for general guidance.
- The technical area extends 1 m (1 yd) on either side of the designated seated area and extends forward up to a distance of 1 m (1 yd) from the touch line.
- It is recommended that markings are used to define this area.
- The number of persons permitted to occupy the technical area is defined by the competition rules.
- The occupants of the technical area are identified before the beginning of the match in accordance with the competition rules.
- Only one person at a time is authorized to convey tactical instructions and he must return to his position after giving these instructions.
- The coach and other officials must remain within the confines of the technical area except in special circumstances, for example, a physiotherapist or doctor entering the field of play, with the referee’s permission, to assess an injured player.
- The coach and other occupants of the technical area must behave in a responsible manner.
END OF QUOTE

There is no defined area for the fourth official, other than between the two technical areas, where the fourth official can carry out his or her defined duties.


FOUL OR NOT?
Your question:
Our Club uses referees for U-5 and U-6 games mainly as a training ground. No official score is posted for these games. I understand that many young children have not mastered complete physical control of their legs and arms, and that most of the time their games are what we normally refer to as “mob ball”, so there are many accidental falls, trips, etc. Do you have any advice on how fouls should be called for these games? For instance, at these ages, an opposing player might accidentally kick an attacker in the shin guard or trip him while trying for the ball. I want to be objective, but it can be difficult when parents are screaming at you because their child is laying on the field after a fall. In other words, does a foul need to be intentionally committed for play to be stopped?

USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
The referee is always given the discretion to determine what is a foul and what is not, no matter what the level of play. In youth play the referee should strive “to keep the playing environment FUN, SAFE and focused on the child.” Youth soccer at the youngest ages is an educational experience, not simply a game, and the players need to learn in a civilized way what they can and cannot do. If the referee, whether a registered referee, a team official, or a parent/coach, coordinator, manager, or observer, stops “play for a foul or other reason, he or she must take the time to explain to the players WHY!

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. U-5/6 is not too young to begin learning not to be careless.


WHEN TO BLOW THE WHISTLE AT OFFSIDE
Your question:
I would like clarification on when the official must blow his whistle on an offside call. We were playing a game and there was an offside call the ball went to the keeper and play probably should have gone from there, instead the referee awarded the indirect kick without blowing the whistle to stop play. Is this the correct procedure or do you have to blow the dead before awarding the free kick.

USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
The referee must signal a decision to stop play in some way. This is usually done with the whistle. The signal should occur soon after the referee has made the decision to stop play (which is the actual moment when the infringement is called). The referee sends the message from brain to hand and mouth, and then blows the whistle or makes some other signal announcing the decision.


MISCONDUCT; LOCATION OF RESTART ON “DELIBERATE PASS”
Your question:
Two questions for you.

1) In a recent game I was the AR. A player was deliberately fouled over the goal line (off the pitch) in retaliation for a previous foul the referee chose to ignore. The referee gave the red card and sent the player off. What is the correct restart in this situation? I thought it would be a goal kick (since it was misconduct off the pitch and the restart was a goal kick anyway), he did a DFK from the goal line (outside of the 6 yard line) where the incident occurred. Who was correct?

2) When a pass is deliberately played to the GK and he plays it with his hands the correct restart is a IFK. But from where? The place where it was played to the GK or where the GK handles the ball?

USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
1. An infringement of Law 12 that occurs off the field of play cannot be classified as a foul. It is misconduct. The referee was correct in sending off the player and showing the red card, but the restart was certainly incorrect. If the ball was still in play when the referee stopped play for the misconduct, then the correct restart would have been a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped.

2. As you state, the restart in this case is an indirect free kick. According to Law 12, the indirect free kick is taken from where the offense occurred. The offense occurs, according to the Law, where the goalkeeper “touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate.” (If this occurs within the goal area, the kick is taken at the point on the goal area line parallel to the goal line nearest to the place where the goalkeeper touched the ball.


RESTART AT THROW-IN THAT DOES NOT ENTER FIELD
Your question:
I had a coach who said he had been a State referee for twenty years tell me there was a rule change on throw-ins when the ball does not enter the field. He claims possession changes if the ball does not enter the field. I explained the ball is not in play if it does not enter the field. The team awarded the throw keeps possession.

Has there been a change and if so what is it?

USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
Well, the coach and self-proclaimed “State referee” is wrong. He is referring to a change in the high school rules two or so years ago. This rule does not apply to the rules of any game of soccer played under the auspices of the United States Soccer Federation and using the Laws of the Game.


CLUB LINESMEN LIMITED IN WHAT THEY CAN DO
Your question:
Recently we were at a game where both sideline judges were fathers of boys on the opposing team. Offsides was called by the sideline judges against our team. Several parents stated that they thought this wasn’t allowed since the sideline refs were ‘bias’ by relationship default. Is this true?

We lost a great goal and the game (due to this call in particular) and the game was particularly rough on and by a couple players.

USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
Where neutral assistant referees are not available, the referee may use club linesmen, such as the parents you describe in your question. Club linesmen must remember, and the referee must make it clear, that the decision of the referee is final and must not be questioned. The relationship of club linesmen to the referee must be one of assistance, without undue interference or any opposition. Club linesmen are to signal only when the ball is entirely over the goal line or touch-line. In other words, no assistance on offside. A referee who allows club linesmen to make any other game decisions is a referee asking for trouble.


LOST BADGE
Your question:
I was making a copy of it and i left it in the copying machine at the store. I know it was careless. But now its gone. What do I do?

USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
Go to your State Referee Administrator or State Youth Referee Administrator and ask if you can purchase a new badge from them. If that fails, call the USSF referee department in Chicago (312-808-1300), who will be happy to sell you a new badge, plus shipping and handling.


FEINTING AT A PENALTY KICK
Your question:
My question is twofold: During penalty kicks some players will use a stutter step to try and throw off the timing of the goalie to see if he is committing to one side or the other. If during the kicker’s approach to the ball he stutter steps and then stops at the ball because the goalie has not committed is the kicker allowed to back up and restart his run for the penalty shot, or if the kicker stutter steps to the ball kicks and misses the ball because he is looking at the goalie to see where the goalie comitted is the kicker allowed to restart his run to the ball? In neither case the kicker touched the ball. What if the situation repeats itself a second time?

USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
Feinting at a penalty kick, provided it is done without lapsing into unsporting behavior, is allowed. The judgment of unsporting behavior is at the discretion of the referee, who should remember that players are permitted to deceive their opponents at the taking of free kicks outside the penalty area using well-rehearsed drills. The penalty kick should be treated in the same way. Remember that the penalty is awarded because of an offense by the defending team. 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 this once, 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 before taking any disciplinary action.

Nor should referees limit any feinting unnecessarily. Remember that the penalty is awarded because of an offense by the defending team.

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.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION AND TIME WASTING
Your question:
Is there a distinction between these two events in enforcing the GK six-second law?
1. Goalkeeper deliberately parries the ball to ground and retains possession in penalty area for more than six seconds while playing ball with his feet.
2. Goalkeeper has possession of ball with hands, but drops ball to ground and plays the ball with his feet for more than six seconds in penalty area.

I believe #1 could be deemed to be time wasting as GK never gave up possession. #2 would not.

USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
There is a great difference between the two situations. When the goalkeeper parries the ball, he has established possession and the six-second count begins then. When the goalkeeper releases the ball to the ground, he has relinquished possession and the ball is available for all players.


GUEST PLAYERS
Your question:
I officiate local Park District games and have a question regarding “guest players”. Often, when I show up to referee a match, one side is short of seven players, while the other side has well over eleven. My question is, is it permitable for players from one team to play for the other side because of player limitation? Does it depend on the league? Thank you for your time.

USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
According to Law 3, if a team cannot field the minimum number of registered players, the game cannot go on. However, the rules regarding who is or who is not able to play on a team are entirely up to the league or tournament that sponsors the match. If they allow it, so should the referee.


TAKING A GOAL KICK
Your question:
Can a goalkeeper “drop kick” the ball on a Goal Kick verses punting the ball? I have been told no by another Grade 8 referee.

USSF answer (April 7, 2003):
At a goal kick the ball — stationary on the ground — is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team.


FOUL OR NOT?
Your question:
While kicking the game ball the kicker swings his elbow (arm) back and hits an opponent in the nose which causes an injury, what is the call?

Also, two players are running side by side and the offensive player goes down. Both players were bumping each other for over 10-15 yards,  what is the call?

USSF answer (April 3, 2003):
Your descriptions of these situations, while colorful, are not precise enough to allow us to give you a good answer. Was the kicker swinging in anger or intimidation, or was it simply to maintain balance? There is a big difference in what should and would be called. In the second situation, both players appear to have been very offensive.


ILLEGAL PLAYER?
Your question:
What do you do when a parent approaches you and says that the other team has a select player playing in rec. league? They have a newspaper picture from 2 weeks earlier with this girls picture along with the select team. Is this illegal and what should be done about it?

USSF answer (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.


VERY LATE SEND-OFF/RED CARD
Your question:
In a professional match, the same player (Smith) receives a caution in the 5th minute and another in the 25th minute, but the referee crew doesn’t realize the same player was cautioned twice and consequently allows Smith to participate for the remaining twenty minutes of the first half. Play is stopped and restarted many times. The officials notice their error while in the locker room at the beginning of the half time intermission.

Question #1: Can Smith participate in the second half?
Question #2: If no to #1, does Smith’s team play short for the second half?
Question #3: If no to #1, when should the referee notify Smith that he has been sent off?
Question #4: If no to #1, does the referee display a red card to Smith?

USSF answer (April 3, 2003):
1. No.
2. Yes.
3. As soon as he figures it out. In other words, before the start of the second half.
4. Yes, if it is done on the field before the start of the second half. If the referee informs Smith in the locker room that he has been dismissed, then no card is necessary. (And full details must be included in the referee’s match report.)


JEWELRY
Your question:
can u tape an earing up durning a soccer match if the person can not take it out or will you tell them to take it out or not play?

USSF answer (April 2, 2003):
Law 4 – The Players’ Equipment states very firmly in its very first paragraph: “A player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewelry).” This means that all items of jewelry are normally considered dangerous. There are only 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.

Taping earrings should not be permitted by any referee, as there is still the danger of injury to the player. Taping does not negate “must not . . . wear. . . any kind of jewelry.”


NUMBERS ON JERSEYS
Your question:
I was wondering if you could tell me if there are and what kind of rules about numbers on players jerseys? for instance is there size requirements or duplicate number restrictions, where can numbers start on the number line or how big a number can be used?

USSF answer (April 2, 2003):
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.


‘KEEPER’S HANDS AND THE BALL
Your question:
I can’t find this in the laws of the game or on the “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” or any the other of the handbooks I have. What determines when the keeper is out of the penalty area and should be penalized for handling the ball? Is it the position of his feet or the ball crossing over the 18 yard line? If his foot is on the line but not over what is the call? What about one foot out and one foot in? I just want to be clear on what to look for?

USSF answer (April 2, 2003):
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 broken the Law.


AR SHOULD ASSIST, NOT INSIST
Your question:
A situation occured recently where I was the linesman. At the exact time where a ball went over the touch line, I made a call for Team A, and the referee made a call for Team B. I would like to think that I was right, but, hey, I wholeheartedly agree that the referee can certainly override my call. But, in this instance when we both signaled opposite directions of the call, I then saw the referee’s call and immediately changed by signal to coincide with his. But, at the very same time that I was altering my call players from Team A were pleading to the referee, “ref, look at your linesman’s call please”. Now the referee did indeed notice me, but now my call was agreeing with him. Keep in mind that no more than 2 or 3 seconds have expired during this whole exchange of words and directions of my flag. Boy, did feel stupid. I felt that my call was correct to start with as I was in a better position to see it, and I felt that I should have communicated this to the referee.

So what should I have done differently? Anything? How could I have communicated my disagreement with his call without causing any undo concern on the part of the players. Should I have left my call as I made it until waved off by the referee? Should I immediately change my call to agree with him? I appreciate any thoughts and words of wisdom you could impart.

USSF answer (April 2, 2003):
The first rule of the assistant referee (AR) is to assist, not insist.

If the referee is about to carry out a decision that may be based on erroneous data, it is the duty of the AR to ASSIST the referee by bringing that fact to the referee’s attention. However, before doing so, the AR must be absolutely certain that the referee did not or could not have a clear view of the entire situation. The referee must then confer with the AR to confirm the nature of the infringement (keeps field in view while moving to touch line and while conferring). If there is no way for the AR to communicate disagreement with the referee’s decision without disrupting the game, then the AR must swallow his or her pride and let it go. Once the AR has given the pertinent information to the referee, the AR has done his or her duty and CANNOT INSIST that the referee decide in a certain way. The referee makes the final decision.


ENDING A GAME FOR DARKNESS
Your question:
We recently played a game that went past dusk and into “quite dark”. The referees started the game about 15 minutes late because one of the linesmen didn’t show up on time, and by halftime it was obvious that the game was going to extend into darkness. We were worried before the game started that we wouldn’t have time to complete the game given the fact that we were playing one week before daylight savings time started(game day of March 31st, 2003).  We had a lead of 1-0 and dominated play in front of their goal mouth for almost the entire game. Whenever the other team would get the ball over midfield, the coach and parents would scream for the players to kick it high towards our goal. We couldn’t follow the game from the sideline very well because of the darkness, meaning it was equally difficult for the referee to officiate infractions in the minimal light. In the final minute of the game a girl from the opposing team scored a goal on a long kick from approximately 40 yds out that our goalie couldn’t react to until she saw it at the last moment. He set the ball up to restart, and soon after it was struck he blew the whistle as regulation time ended.

My question is this: When should a game be called for darkness and what are the ramifications of ending it early? The referee at our game said that a game should only be stopped for two reasons; if conditions become dangerous and if there is an unfair advantage for one team. Obviously, we felt there was an unfair advantage for the other team.  The goal they scored was the only shot on goal they had the entire game. I’ve seen professional games stopped for too much water on the pitch, heavy fog, and dangerous weather. I’ve also seen a professional game end because a number of banks of lights went out leaving the pitch dimmed dramatically. I look forward to, and will appreciate, your answer.

USSF answer (April 2, 2003):
There are no fixed rules for determining when to call a game for 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.

If a game is abandoned or terminated before regular time is up, the Laws of the Game (which are written for the highest competitive level) require that the game be replayed in its entirety — as though the game had never taken place. However, this is seldom the rule followed at lower competitive levels where individual leagues and tournaments often specify a less drastic outcome. The most common rule is that a game which is ended prematurely (for whatever reason) will stand as official if at least the first half was played.


TECHNICAL AREA/FIELD SIZE/FLIP THROW-IN
Your question:
Question #1- Is there a standard location of an area or box in which the coach and players must remain during the game? We had a ref in a division 1 game (U16 girls) tell our coach that they could not move out of a certain area or they would be cautioned. I’ve never heard of this before.

Question #2- I know that regulation field size is generally referred to by how long and wide they can be, but is there a minimum size of field of play that is required for a game to be considered legal? We’ve played on a couple of fields in which the penalty box and sidelines were only a yard or two apart. For a high quality team of 16 year old girls, it felt like a postage stamp. It completely changed the style of game and made it very difficult for us to play on this teams home field, giving them a true “home field advantage”.

Question #3- Are flip throws considered illegal for some reason? We have a girl on our team that can flip-throw a ball to the center of the field every time, however we’ve had two games in which the referees wouldn’t let her do it. In both games she was given a yellow card when she did it the first time.

USSF answer (April 2, 2003):
1. At the higher levels of the game, the field markings include “technical areas” on either side of the halfway line. Coaches are not allowed to leave their technical areas during the halves. Such technical areas are rare at the lower levels of the game.

2. The minimum legal-sized field is 50 yards wide by 100 yards long.

3. There is nothing wrong with the flip throw-in. Shame on the referees who would not allow them, and double shame on them for cautioning your player and showing her the yellow card.


COACH’S RIGHTS?
Your question:
In a youth match a coach wishes to abandon the match because “the referee is not good enough for this match.” He illegally enters the FOP at a stoppage for this purpose, but the players refuse to leave the FOP. They wish to continue playing. With regards to this situation what are the rights and responsibilities of (1) the referee, (2) the players and (3) the coach?

USSF answer (April 1, 2003):
Once the game begins, only the referee has the right to decide whether the game continues, is suspended temporarily, terminated or abandoned. The coach has absolutely NO rights in the game other than to advise his team in a responsible way.


MARKING VS. IMPEDING THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
I have a question as I was uncertain as to a best practice on how to handle the following situation that has occurred in several of my matches.

Upon receiving a free kick near the attacking goal, the attacking team would place an single player 2-3 yards directly in front of the goalkeeper. I viewed this a potentially explosive situation, especially in the adult matches that I had, in that often times there would be a defender right next to this attacking player in front of the goalkeeper and the goalie would take exception to this positioning. Luckily (for me) the ball never traveled near this player positioned in front of the goalkeeper but I wasn’t exactly certain as to how to handle these situations either. USSF advises us (Instructions to Referees, Nov 2002) that no player shall intentionally impede (position) the goalkeeper during corner kicks but makes no reference to free kicks.

This is what I have done in the past: position myself down low off to the side of the goal so I had clear view of the players as well as the ball. I would comment to the players in front of the net that I expect fair play once the ball is kicked. Other than that I didn’t know how to handle it.

Nor am I certain as to how much leverage I should provide the attacking player or how much leverage to provide the goalkeeper in both playing the ball. I am fairly certain that youíre going to inform me that I should allow the both players a fair amount of latitude if the ball comes screaming at the netm, but any advice (especially relative to preventative maintenance techniques) would be greatly appreciated.

Relative to allowing the goalkeeper the play the ball should I entertain the following USSF advice (Instructions to Referees, Nov 2002) ”charging from behind is permissible only if the opponent is intentionally impeding (shielding the ball). The charge, however, must be made fairly and under no circumstances to the back” Overall, not necessarily relative to this one particular situation but during the normal course of play, what I read into this is that USSF is telling me that if an attacking player is impeding (shielding the ball) the defender is allowed to make contact with the back of the shoulder blade in an attempt to play the ball. Yes, No, Maybe???

USSF answer (April 1, 2003):
If the player marking the goalkeeper at a restart plays the goalkeeper rather than the ball, he is engaged in unsporting behavior and should be cautioned and shown the yellow card. This was made clear in the USSF 2002 publication “Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players [at] Regional and National Cup Competitions and Tournaments” It is equally applicable to all games played under the aegis of the United States Soccer Federation.

QUOTE
4. Offenses against goalkeepers
It is an offense if a player:
//snip//
(c) who is standing in front of a goalkeeper when a corner kick is being taken, takes advantage of his position to impede the goalkeeper before the kick is taken and before the ball is in play (misconduct, no change in the restart)
END OF QUOTE

As to the goalkeeper taking exception to the positioning of an opponent at a restart — life is tough. The goalkeeper will just have to learn to live with it — in accordance with the guideline above.

In the case of player shielding the ball from an opponent, your surmise is correct.


MANAGING SPECTATORS
Your question:
What is the proper procedure for management of unruly parent spectators? I had an unfortunate State Youth Division One experience. I am aware I should utilize the team captains to talk to their coaches who in turn speak to their spectators. At a recent game my AR was harassed to the point where termination would have been the best solution. One fellow referee suggested carding the captains, until the spectators got the point to settle down. What is your opinion?

USSF answer (April 1, 2003):
Unless the rules of the competition specify otherwise, the referee has no authority to show the card to a coach or other team official, nor may the referee take action against parents or other spectators unless they enter the field of play. And the referee should not even think about carding captains for anything other than their own behavior.

However, 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.


FINGERNAILS
Your question:
What is the current USSF position on the acceptable length of fingernails for players?

USSF answer (March 31, 2003):
There is no official position on the length of players’ fingernails. Players are not allowed to “wear” anything that is dangerous to themselves or another player. The acceptable length or shape or adornment of fingernails is up to the good judgment of the referee.


USA FLAG PATCH
Your question:
I recently got my referee grade 8. My question is beside the referee patch are we allowed to have a USA Flag patch on our uniform and where if allowed.

USSF answer (March 28, 2003):
The USA Flag patch is to be worn on the left sleeve, between elbow and shoulder.


WHAT IS A “FAIR CHARGE”?
Your question:
Where can I find info regarding standards of the “fair charge”? That is, what contact is permissible under what conditions, and what is not?

USSF answer (March 28, 2003):
[This is a repeat of an answer of March 26, 2002]
The only instance in which a charge would be punished under the Law is one in which the player charges an opponent carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force.

Although you will have to search very hard to find it written anywhere, the world accepts a fair charge of the opponent if the players make contact shoulder to shoulder, with the charging player’s arms in at his side, while both players have at least one foot on the ground. The charging player may not use excessive force. At the youth level, particularly in the early teenage brackets, where players of the same age may experience growth spurts differently, a “best effort” at a should-to-shoulder charge is accepted.


TACTIC TO BEAT THE OFFSIDE TRAP
Your question:
This is a situation that has occured in several games. This normally happens when team A is moving its defenders up the field quickly leaving an attacker on team b in an offside position in the middle of the field. Team B gains possesion of the ball and plays it long to the wing where a player for B runs from an onside position, dribbles then crosses the ball. In the meantime the player that was offside in the middle of the field has sprinted down the field to receive the cross, (the center defender unable to make up the 5 yard offside advantage). At the point the ball is crossed the defender covering the sprinting winger is now keeping the team B central attacker onside and there is no flag.

There was clearly a huge advantage created from being in the offside position in the middle of the field. The explanation I have been given is that the initial pass forward was to an onside player and that the player in the middle of the field was not involved in the play and when he recieved the cross he was onside. The central defender had no chance of making up the 5 yards.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (March 28, 2003):
This is a tried and tested tactic to avoid the offside call — and it is allowed, provided that the attacking player in the offside position does not become actively involved in the initial play of the ball to his teammate who was onside. Once the attacking player has been put back onside by the central defender in this situation, he may not be called offside if he remains no nearer the goal than at least two opposing players.


TERRITORIAL IMPERATIVE
Your question:
Attacker with back to the goal, defender right behind him, facing his back. Does defender have any rights, he can’t possibly play the ball? That is, must he yield to the attacker, i. e., back out of his current position or as in basketball he most certainly has rights, the attacker must go around him. Specifically, he is allowed to stay right where he is. Seems to me ATR 12.14 applies, so the attacker has the right to move toward the defender.

USSF answer (March 28, 2003):
A player who establishes his position is not required to move out of an opponent’s way (with the sole exception of doing so while in an offside position; see below). Impeding consists of moving into the way of an opponent, not just being in his way. If the defender was there already (behind the attacker, between the attacker and the goal), it is the attacker’s responsibility to move around rather than back into him. This is very different from the defender who moves into the path of the attacker with the result of forcing the attacker to stop or swerve in order to avoid making contact. The right to BE is not the same as the right to GO.

As stated above, however, none of this applies to someone who is in an offside position, where Law 11 clearly requires that he not interfere with an opponent.


WHAT IS ADVANTAGE?
Your question:
I was the center of a high school game. An attacker broke away and went 1 v 1 with the goalie, who came out of the box to challenge him, and they met about 15 yards out to the left side of the penalty area. The goalie made a stab for the ball, and in the process tripped the attacker, who regained his balance and the ball, pressed on, and kicked the ball over the goal line (all within 2-3 seconds of the foul). I pulled the ball back to the point of the trip/attempted trip and awarded a direct kick. In my opinion there was no OGSO.

I am having some internal and external arguments about my application of advantage. My understanding of the LOTG is that advantage is something that is a benefit to the team that was fouled as determined by the referee. I believe that the “benefit” does not always include a shot at goal, but it certainly doesn’t preclude it. However, my refereeing mentor believes that (and I quote from an email) that “the taking of the shot is advantage enough …. if he is fouled during the shot, then no…. but if he has a free shot, then this is his prescribed advantage….. change in thought from a few years ago… just like interpretation of dangerous tackles at the 1998 WC…. the FIFA referees really hosed all of their calls for a few days because they were lacking interpretation from FIFA…. or better yet, correct interpretation… The goalie made a stab for the ball, and in the process tripped the attacker, who regained his balance and the ball, pressed on, and kicked the ball over the goal line. ==== the advantage was when the attacker regained his balance and had the ball at his feet… when he kicks the ball over the goal line, then he has squandered his advantage…”

So, please, clarify for me the application of advantage, particularly the assertion that the taking of a shot is advantage enough. If I need to adjust my understanding and application of the LOTG then so be it. Also, please do not answer with a recitation of the LOTG and Advice to Referees. I read both those documents as well as the stuff on the USSF web site, and they aren’t giving me any more clarification. What I need and want is your insight as a referee based on experience and nuance.

USSF answer (March 28, 2003):
There is no single, black-and-white answer to your question, so if you are determined that the Laws of the Game and the Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game have nothing more to teach you, then you will have to do with this:

You appear to be looking at advantage the wrong way. Advantage is not something a team which has been fouled GAINS by the referee not stopping play; it is something the FOULING TEAM gains if the referee did stop play. In other words, we don’t ask ourselves if the team is better off by not stopping play but, rather, if the opponents are better off if we DO stop play.

Looked at this way, your puzzlement should clear up. The player was fouled, the player retained control of the ball (or, possibly, his team retained control if he had been able to pass the ball, before falling down, to a teammate), the player took a shot on goal, and the player missed for reasons which, in the opinion of the referee, had nothing to do with the prior foul. Advantage called properly, foul gone, play should not have been stopped subsequently simply because the player was not successful. We call the play back for the original foul only if the player’s subsequent loss of control (or advantage) is attributable to the original foul. (If it were otherwise, every player who was fouled and who kept control (or his team kept control) would be justified in having the original foul called if they screwed up (tripped over shoelaces, hillock, etc.) shortly thereafter.)

And you might want to thank your mentor for his good advice.


DEALING WITH THE SECOND CAUTION/YELLOW CARD
Your question:
I have two questions, and I guess you could say they are related…

1. If a player receives a caution earlier in the match, and it is necessary to issue another caution later on, does the referee show the yellow card for the second offense and then show the red card or does one just issue the red, bypassing the yellow?

2. Also, if two cautionable offenses are committed simultaneously (a player leaving the field w/o the referee’s permission and then re-entering without permission, persistent infringed with dissent, etc.) does one issue just the red? Or, should the yellow be issued first?

USSF answer (March 28, 2003):
If a player receives a second caution in the same match, he must be sent off. The correct procedure is to show the yellow card, immediately followed by the red card. The referee presents each yellow card separately, followed by the red card, jotting down details as he goes. In preparing the match report, the referee writes up each caution separately and then writes up the dismissal.


OFFSIDE MECHANICS
Your question:
I [have] a question regarding a recent new procedure adapted by [another National] Federation regarding the offside.

It appears that this new procedure involves the Referee’s assistants (linesmen) whereby it is required that the signal to the referee of an offside violation is delayed until the ball is received by the attacker, instead of the previous procedure which required that the offside violation should be flagged at the moment the ball was played.

I would appreciate your opinion and if this rule by the [other National] Federation has been approved by the International Board.

USSF answer (March 28, 2003):
We have not seen anything on the procedure you describe and do not want to be accused of saying that any other National Federation is doing something wrong. Perhaps it is simply a matter of differing mechanics.

In the United States, our assistant referees and referees are instructed to be certain of both offside position and active involvement before flagging for and deciding on offside. We do not define active involvement as actually making contact with the ball. A player becomes “actively involved” in the play only when he is in the “area of active play.” This area shifts, widens, narrows, lengthens, or shortens, according to where the ball is going and who is “involved.” Involvement includes attempting to play the ball or preventing others from having a fair play at the ball. Active involvement can occur without the ball being directly nearby. There are three elements in “active involvement”: “interfering with an opponent,” “interfering with play,” and “gaining an advantage.”

If an assistant referee is in any doubt as to whether a player is actively involved or not, he is expected to decide in favor of the attacker; in other words, he should refrain from signaling offside. The referee, too, must be certain that there is active involvement before deciding for offside. This may or may not include waiting until the ball last played by a teammate has reached the player in the offside position.

To put our answer in the proper perspective, we should note that you seem to be setting up a false dichotomy — either flag at the moment the ball was played by an attacker or flag when the attacker in the offside position actually plays the ball. The first is incorrect because, at that moment, the only decision that can definitively be made is offside position. The second is incorrect for two reasons — first, not all offside violations involve interfering with play (e. g., interfering with an opponent) and, second, by the time the ball and attacker “connect,” the officiating team has likely dug itself a hole from which it will be difficult to escape. We are looking at involvement in active play which may or may not include actual contact with the ball — we penalize the attacker in an offside position for being in the area of active play and, while there, failing completely to take concrete steps to avoid being considered as even potentially involved in play.


DEFLECTION VS. PARRY
Your question:
I have a question that has gotten me into several heated discussions and never the same answer.

First I will set the playing stage. I was involved in (and still am) in a fall recreational soccer league and had finished my games for the day so I went over to watch the Seniors League play their second half. The seniors are 16 to 18 years of age and co-ed and did not make the High School team and do not have a Select team to play on and are kids who just want to play soccer for the fun of playing soccer. So you have a varied mix of talent. The game was a good high energy contest with a score of 2 to 1. The Reffs had to run a reverse diagnal due to the side line condisions, these fields are used by three or four different leagues from aages 14 to adults and it had rained for a few days. Here is the rough part, the uniform shirts were black and navy blue. The black team (team A) had on red pennies the navy blue team will be team B.

Now team A drove down and took a shot on goal about 20 min. into the second half the ball was blocked by team Bs keeper. Both teams had about 4 to 5 people in the top of the box (between the 6 and the 18). The Center reff was to the far side of the field just about the 18 but out of the box and the AR was down between the 6 and the gaol line when I saw her.Now remember I was at mid field in the stands about 5 seats up in my reffing shorts and socks which were pulled down and a white t-shirt with the parents and friends of these kids and they all knew me I have Reffed their games before (for about 6 years). now after the keeper deflected the ball it popped up and back out to about the PK mark between the center and right side of the field but still in the box. Now the ball gets to the group of players from both team A and B just over head high and an arm comes up smacks the ball into the net just under the cross bar in the far corner. At the same time both teams are jumping to head the ball but you could plainly see the hand or arm strike the ball from where I sat. to the best of my knowledge I do not remember seeing a shirt or sleeve to distinguish a team member, but it happened so fast I do not remember seeing more than an elbow to hand.The goal was allowed and tied the game (it did end in a 2 to 2 tie). Parents went nuts, and I just sat there biting my tongue. after the game I did ask the reffs about the no-call and was told they did not see it.

Now comes the question “IF” it was seen by either the center REFF or the AR which team did the infraction? Who gets the card (is it a RED)? What is the restart?

Please try to get the answers to me I would really like to hear from you on this one, and so would several other reffs.

USSF answer (March 28, 2003):
Based on the information you have given, it is impossible to answer your qu