I would appreciate your comments on the following question. I am a a father of five (three in soccer and I coach two of them), a former college player, and have been a soccer ref for a short time. Here is my question:

If, during the course of play, a player clears the ball out (of the defensive end of the field – although I don’t think it matters) can the referee issue a caution (yellow card) for delay of game to the player who cleared the ball? Does it matter whether the player has done it (cleared the ball) several times before during the course of play? How does the referee distinguish between a weak clear and a strong clear?

Does it matter?

As I have always understood the rule, and always seen it applied, a player should only be issued a yellow card for delay in the RESTART of play. Meaning player conduct after the play has been stopped. Until yesterday, I had never seen a ref – and I have never thought it proper(and still don’t) for a ref – to issue a yellow card to a player for clearing a ball. Refs should not be in the position of dictating how hard or where a player decides to clear a ball. See

Would appreciate your thoughts and comments.

USSF answer (May 9, 2008):
The Laws of the Game do not support disciplinary action for clearing the ball down the field. Nor, in fact, do they support a caution for constantly clearing the ball by kicking it out of play, given by many referees who are as inventive as the one whom you observed.

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