Where should the AR stand when indicating a goal kick? The Guide To Procedures does not specify a position. In our training classes, the instructor said that it is customary to be standing in the corner behind the corner flag when signaling. The rationale given for this is that the AR should have traveled all the way to the goal line to verify the ball was out, and therefore that is where he is left standing and thus the signal should be given there. However, there are a few reasons to challenge this.

One reason is consistency. For all other indications of ball placement by the AR, the position is directed to be perpendicular to the point where the offense (foul, offside, misconduct) occured. In an offside situation where the AR is still moving with the players while waiting for active involvement, once that involvement occurs, the AR moves back to the point of the restart and indicates the restart by pointing his flag. So it would be more consistent to have the AR move to a point perpendicular with the top of the goal area and indicate the goal kick restart with his flag (acknowledging that while the ball can be placed anywhere in the goal area, in practice it is rarely placed far from the top of the goal area). This procedure would have the additional benefit of making the restart more clearÊto all participants and spectators who may have missed the flag signal: the restart is a goal kick when the AR is at the 6, and it is a corner kick when the AR is at the corner. As an aside, I have noticed while watching EPL games that the EPL ARs signal goal kicks when perpendicular to the top of the goal area.

Another reason to challenge this convention is that due to a shortage of referees, many refs are pressed into service to handle multiple games a day. A referee who wishes to follow the proper procedures finds himself running needlessly all the way to the corner to indicate each goal kick, even on blasts that are taken from 30 yards out. While it might seem trivial to save 6 yards on every run down the touch line to indicate a goal kick, it would serve to save energy that is wasted unnecessarily in the desire to follow the customary procedures.

USSF answer (December 19, 2007):
We see no reason at all to challenge your instructor’s statement that it is customary to stand at or very near to the corner flag. As your instructor said, the AR is expected to run each and every ball to the goal line, no matter how “certain” it is that it will either pass out of play or that the goalkeeper will get it before any opposing player does. The Guide does not give this guidance to the AR for ANY restart. Nowhere does the Guide specify this for either the referee or the AR, because where a restart is signaled is a function of positioning during the dynamic play which immediately precedes whatever event causes the restart.

Your point about consistency is actually apt — though not for the reasons you suggest — even though there is a major difference between fouls or misconduct and a ball passing out of play over the goal line. The AR must be at the place to indicate as closely as possible where the infringement will be punished or the restart will be taken. The only possible exception would be in the case of offside, which will often not be punished at a point perpendicular to the AR, but at a point farther back up the field. (Remember that the restart for offside is taken at the place where the player was when he or she was when the the ball was last played by a teammate, not where the ball was received or the player finally became actively engaged.)

What you describe as needless expenditure of energy is what we think of as doing the job right. If there is a shortage of referees, help out by doing some recruiting to make the job easier for you and your colleagues.…


Why aren’t fouls called more often at touch lines or goal lines (within the field of play) in professional soccer? I regularly see players shielding the ball rolling to the line (to win a possession at the ensuing restart) being pushed or taken down from behind with an obvious shove or rough tackle by an opposing player. Sometimes the shove/tackle actually propels the player who is shielding the ball into the ball itself, causing the ball to cross the line more quickly! Despite this, more often than not, the contact is ignored.

I can understand if the referee prefers to believe that the ball had completely crossed the line (or was just about to) prior to the contact. Once the ball crosses the line and is out of play, the referee can simply award the throw-in, goal or corner kick to the victimized team. Perhaps also, I can understand a referee’s reluctance to award a PK when this kind of contact takes place at the goal line in the PK area, for reasons that may have more to do with common sense than the letter of the LOTG. Yet, the same referee will blow the whistle and/or pull out a card for similar or even lesser contact elsewhere on the field.

I guess my point is that the failure to call fouls (or show cards) at the lines seems to invite a lot of cheap shots. I’ve seen this sort of thing happen time and again in both MLS and international matches and would have no difficulty compiling a video montage if I were so inclined (and had no life!). It’s so common place that certain TV commentators, who might otherwise find no trouble finding lame excuses to berate the referees, usually have nothing to say about it.

So my question (yes, I do have a question, finally), is am I just imaging that cheap shots at the lines are being ignored, or am I missing something or is there really something there needing to be addressed? As a referee of youth games, I try to watch and learn from the pros. But in this regard, I feel disinclined to emulate the professional referees. Professional players expect to take their lumps perhaps, but youth players are a different matter.

USSF answer (December 19, 2007):
We cannot speak for the individual decisions made by referees at any level. After the duty to ensure the players’ safety, the second prime criterion for match-management decision making is that the referee must use his or her brain and form an opinion on each of the thousands of acts that occur during that game. Their decisions must be based on the level of play, the skill of the players, the way the game is being played from the first kick-off (or even before it kicks off) and the circumstances under which the particular act has occurred. While the referee must take care during every moment of every game, there is one rule of thumb that most players and the referee can agree on: The higher the level of play and the accompanying level of player skill, the more freedom the players expect and are granted; the lower the level of play and skill, the less the players, coaches, spectators, and thus the referee will tolerate.

We might add only that our soccer experience (well over 100 years among those of us involved in answering your question) does not mirror yours regarding jostling, etc., at the boundary lines. Some, yes, but not all and not all that often.…


Blue coach has substitutes on the halfway line ready to enter the game. Ball goes out of touch in blue’s favor but before AR can signal to the CR that blue wishes to sub, the blue player steps up and takes a quick throw in. Under scenario 1, CR allows play to continue upon which the blue coach protests that his subs weren’t allowed to enter the game as he intended. Under the second scenario, CR recognizes his error, stops play to allow the substitution, upon which the blue coach protests that the CR has taken away the advantage that his player gained by taking the quick throw.

For a typical youth game, which decision do you consider to be correct?

USSF answer (December 19, 2007):
There is one big lesson to be learned here, but let’s save that for last.

In your first scenario, you lay the blame on the AR, who has not signaled soon enough to indicate that a substitution is necessary. At this, the coach begins objecting and protesting that his team didn’t have its chance for a substitution because his own player took the throw-in too fast. Who can worry about a team that doesn’t let its own players or that has players who are too slow to recognize that a substitution for their side is about to happen?

In the second scenario, you blame the referee for making an error — which was not an error by the officials at all — as a consequence of which the coach begins objecting and protesting. Actually, in one sense it could be considered an error by the referee, who stopped a perfectly legitimate restart for no good reason.

For a typical youth game, or for any game at all for that matter, pay no attention to what coaches say. Coaches have absolutely no authority in the game, but they will work the referee for every bit of advantage they can milk from any situation. The players make the decision as to when they will restart — unless otherwise instructed by the REFEREE, not the coach. Do what you have to do and live with it.…


[An instructor asks:] Can the referee prevent a youth player from continuing to participate in play, or return to play, after he has suffered an apparent concussion? I am looking for a general guideline from a referee’s position.

The California Youth Soccer Association-South “Rules and Regulations” state:
2.5. Player Safety
2.5.1. No player should be allowed to play in any regularly scheduled league or tournament game with an injury which can be aggravated by playing or which constitutes a danger to others. Can the referee prevent a youth player to continue to participate in play, or return to play, after he has suffered an apparent concussion? I am looking for a general guideline from a refereeÕs position.

I will follow up with Cal-South for an elaboration, e.g., does the referee have authority to enforce this rule, and why is the word “should” used instead of “shall”. And how does the referee judge if the injury can be aggravated, etc.

p.s. – it would be fantastic if one could do a search on ALL of the “Ask A Referee” articles, without opening each archive and repeating the search. That way I would know if you had touched on this before.

USSF answer (December 19, 2007):
1. The first portion of this answer repeats an answer of September 27, 2006:

In reading this answer, please remember that the U. S. Soccer Federation has no authority over games not played under its aegis, nor over the referees who officiate them.Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has no direct authority to prevent a player from participating for unspecified reasons. While the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players, it does not give the referee the right to prevent the further participation of a player who has been treated for injury and cleared to play by a trainer or medical doctor. The only possible reason would be that player was still bleeding or had blood on his or her uniform.

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

Once the player has been required to leave the field, the referee remains in complete control of the situation by virtue of the fact that the player cannot return until and unless he or she receives the permission of the referee — simply withhold it if you are convinced the player remains seriously injured. It takes courage to do this but, if the referee is certain of the state of the player, so be it.

For additional information on this matter, see the USSF position paper “Handling Injuries,” dated October 12, 2007.

2. As to searching for old answers, many have tried and none has succeeded in finding a way to search the archives.…


On an indirect restart, with the directive that a touch on top of the ball with no movement (in the opinion of the referee) does not count a the first touch, when can the defenders move within 10yds? Can they move on the feint or should the restart be stopped and caution issued?Also if the next player who touches the ball does so twice (without the ball touching another player) is the player guilty of a double touch?

USSF answer (December 19, 2007):
The opponents must remain at least ten yards from the ball until it has been kicked and moves. The ball is not in play until it is kicked and moves. Simply tapping the ball does not move it; there must be a perceptible move from “here” to “there.”

In answer to your questions:
1. The defenders must wait until the ball has actually moved before they approach.
2. If, after the ball is in play — i. e., has been kicked and moved — the kicker touches the ball a second time (except with his hands) before it has touched another player, an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team, the kick to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred* (see page 3). So, yes, if the next player to kick the ball after a “tap” on the ball (which does not put it into play) touches the ball twice in succession, that player is guilty of a double touch.…


When waving down an AR there is always the chance that the referee is making a mistaken assumption as to which player the AR is indicating. Most times it is clear what has happened. But in situations (usually near midfield) where there may be a lot of players who could become involved in play and/or who are blocking the referee’s peripheral vision, mistaken assumptions can be made. Here is a situation that leads to some questions.The attacking team kicked the ball in the air over midfield. When the ball was played, there was an attacker wide on the left side of the field and another in the middle, both just over midfield and in offside positions. As the ball passed over the head of the attacker in the center, angling towards the attacker on the left, the AR raised the flag. It was just a bit early since the wide player had not yet touched the ball, but it was clear he was definitely going to receive the ball. The referee, assuming that the AR was prematurely indicating the center attacker was participating in active play, waved the flag down. The AR lowered his flag and quickly returned to his proper position with the 2LD. The offside attacker wide on the left received the ball and play continued for 4 seconds until the ball was put out for a corner kick. Now, had the defending team cleared the ball, or if the ball had gone out for a goal kick or throw-in for the defending team, there would be no problem. But since the attacking team retained possession of the ball, they continue to gain an advantage from the miscommunication between the referee and the assistant.

Since the AR is the one that knows what has happened, what should he do about this situation? Should the AR “insist” that the attacker who eventually (1 second later) received the ball player is offside and refuse to lower the flag when waved down? Should he indicate to the referee immediately upon the next stoppage that he needs to speak to the referee and inform him of the facts (and if this is the correct action, would itÊmatter if it had taken much longer than 4 seconds before the next stoppage occurred)? Should the AR simply comply with the referee and take no action? Or is there another answer?

And if the referee were to have discovered the facts, what action can he take? Has the offside been canceled once the AR lowers his flag, thereby eliminating his options? Or can the referee (aware that he could make mistaken assumptions when lots of players are around at the point of attack) hold up the next restart, quickly speak with the assistant, discover that the attacker who received the ball was also offside, and restart the game with an indirect kick fat the point of the original offside infringement?

It could be argued that changing the decision could negatively impact the referee’s credibility and game control, but the alternative outcome could be much worse such as a goal scored off the corner kick. And if the referee is permitted to restart with the indirect kick for the offside, then what is the status of a foul or misconduct that may have occured in the intervening time between the offside infringement and the next stoppage of play? Would a subsequent foul have to be considered misconduct since, technically, play was stopped at the original time of the offside and the foul took place when play was stopped?

USSF answer (December 19, 2007):
If there has been no subsequent restart between the moment when the referee waved down the assistant referee’s flag and the next stoppage of play, in this case the corner kick, the AR may confer with the referee. If the referee accepts the information supplied by the AR, the ball is brought back to place where the player was adjudged to be offside — i. e., where the player was when his/her teammate played the ball — and the indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team.

To attract the referee’s attention at that next stoppage, the AR should give the signal for offside: flag raised above his/her head and, when the referee sees the signal, indicate position on the field of the offside; in this case, the far side of the field. If there is a need to confer, then the referee must come to the AR. To avoid such situations in the future, the referee should make eye contact with the assistant referees as often as possible and should wave off the AR’s flag only if the AR has shown him-/herself to be unreliable. Let us emphasize here that unless the referee has reason to believe that the AR’s judgment is unreliable, an AR’s flag for offside should not be waved down. The exception here is when the developing offside situation is in the far third of the field, in which case the referee needs to delay action long enough to make an independent judgment about involvement in active play as typically he would be in a better position to evaluate this than an AR who is 50-80 yards away.

We would like to remind all referees — yet again — that touching the ball is not required when there is an attacker in an offside position making an obvious play for the ball UNLESS there is also an onside position attacker also making an obvious play for the ball. According to your scenario, BOTH attackers (one in the middle and one on the far left) were in offside positions and so the AR should have signaled as soon as it became clear that EITHER ONE OF THEM was making an obvious play for the ball.…


The scenario is the Referee blows the whistle to indicate the first half of the match has ended. During the half-time break, a send-off offense occurs by a member of Team A. The Referee shows the red card to the Team A member.

Let us say that the Team A member who was shown the red card was a player at the end of the half. Must Team A play one man short in the second half? You may ask, “did the offense occur on or off the field of play”. Please answer both of those scenarios if the application of the Laws is different for each.

I believe that if the Team A member was a substitute or substituted player, then Team A does not play short one man the second half.

In youth matches where there is no official scorer or fourth official, the Referee may not be able to determine if the Team A member that was sent-off was a player or substitute.

I reviewed the 2007 Laws of the Game, Advice to Referees and Q/A, and did not find this addressed, though I admit I could have missed it.

Thanks for this forum, as I always enjoy and learn a lot from you.

USSF answer (December 10, 2007):
It makes absolutely no difference whether the sending-off offense was committed on or off the field of play. If the person sent off at halftime was a player at the end of the half, the team plays short in the second half (or, in extra time, in the next period). If the person sent off was not a player at the end of the half, the team does not play short.

This is not covered in the Laws because it would not be a problem in higher-level games. They KNOW who is in the game and who is not, because there is none of the constant shuttling of players in and out of the game that we see in competitions that permit it. It’s not covered fully in the Advice to Referees because we expect the referee and assistant referees (and fourth official, if there is one) to know who was in the game at the end of the half. In the game of soccer played under the Laws of the Game, there is no “scorer” to keep track of these things; we don’t explain the rules for those competitions, as they are not affiliated with the Federation. If the officiating crew cannot determine that the person was in fact a player at the end of the period, then the team does not play short. See Advice 5.17 for part of your answer.

5.17 DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER THE GAME Misconduct committed by a player or a substitute prior to the start of the match, during the match, and during breaks between playing periods is subject to a formal caution or a send-off, as appropriate. Yellow and red cards, which are now mandatory indications of cautions and send-offs, may be shown only for misconduct committed by players, substitutes, or substituted players during a match. “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.
(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.

Cautions issued prior to the start of the game or during breaks between periods are recorded and they are counted for purposes of sending a player from the field for receiving a second caution during the match. To prevent misunderstandings, the referee should inform officials of both teams before the first period of play begins of any cautions or send-offs occurring prior to the start of the match.

If a player or substitute is cautioned or dismissed for misconduct which has occurred during a break or suspension of play, the card must be shown on the field before play resumes.

If a player is dismissed before the match begins, the player may be replaced by a named substitute, but the team is not allowed to add any names to its roster and its number of permissible substitutions is not reduced.

Players or substitutes who have been sent off may not remain in the team area, but must be removed from the environs of the field. If this is not practical because of the age or condition of the player, the team officials are responsible for the behavior of the player or substitute.

There can be no “temporary expulsion” of players who have been cautioned, nor may teams be forced to substitute for a player who has been cautioned.

Postgame: Any misconduct committed by players or substitutes after the field has been cleared must be described in the game report and reported to the competition authority. The referee may display cards as long as he or she remains on the field of play after the game is over. Referees are advised to avoid remaining in the area of the field unnecessarily.

(However, see Advice 5.13.)…


Recently, I was an AR at a match held on an artificial turf field, which are becoming quite common here where I live. The field was equipped with corner flags, each made of a thin fiberglass rod attached to a 4″ X 4″ metal plate base.

The conditions were very windy that day, so that the corner flags were leaning over to the extent that the tip of the corner flag was about 1 to 2 feet off the ground.

During the taking of a corner kick (at my corner), the kicker complained that the wind was blowing the flag into the field of play and would interfere with her kick. Since I had already seen another flag completely blown over, with the base of the corner flag in a vertical position, I decided it would be best to set the flag away from the field and continue without a corner flag at that corner. Immediately, the CR told me that the corner flag must stay on the corner regardless of any of the existing circumstances/conditions. Not wanting to make a scene, I put the flag back and we continued the game without incident.

My question is, should we allow the use of said flags under such windy conditions? Also, should the referee ever assist the kicker in holding a leaning flag(being bent by the wind) out of the way?

Thank you for your valued service to American soccer.

USSF answer (December 10, 2007):
Safety of the players must be the referee’s first concern. While the corner flags are indeed compulsory, they must meet the requirements of Law 1. If the flags do not stand at least five feet tall, then they may not be used and must be removed because they are dangerous.

The following excerpt from the Advice to Referees is applicable here:


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.

If returning the flag to an upright position is not a viable solution (because of wind or poorly-made equipment), then removal of the flag — with the permission of the referee — is permitted because the flag does not meet the requirement of being at least 1.5 m (5 ft) high. If a flexible flag consistently or constantly bends below that height, then it does not meet the requirement and is dangerous to the players and other participants. This would include a flag that bent outside the field with the wind, as the kicker might be placed in danger.

A player may not bend the flag away from the upright position to take a corner kick or to play the ball that has run into the corner.…


I know this is probably the wrong venue for this question — however, maybe you could forward this and post this somewhere for us. What is the deployment plan for the new uniforms? What will be the primary color? How long will the transition period be?

USSF answer (December 7, 2007):
The new uniforms feature a redesigned shirt and socks, as well as a new color option with green being added to the array of gold, red, blue and the traditional black. Referees will have three options on the type of sock they will wear during competitions. The new sock is embroidered with “U.S. Soccer Referee” on the foot of the sock, but referees are also permitted to wear the three white-stripe sock or the black sock with the old U.S. Soccer Referee Department logo, as both are still USSF-approved.

In the future, OSI will only sell the new uniforms, but the old striping pattern is still USSF-approved and acceptable to wear during games. In youth and adult amateur games, it is also acceptable for the crew to wear a combination of new and old uniforms. Referees are encouraged to purchase the new uniform when replacing their old version as the updated stripe pattern will be become the official referee uniforms of U.S. Soccer. However, there is no need to buy new uniforms until the old ones wear out.

As to primary color, see page 34 of the USSF Referee Administrative Handbook. Gold is listed as the primary color so that referees who buy only one jersey know what color to purchase. The other colors, red, blue, black, and green are simply alternative colors. However, there is no requirement that referees must wear the gold jersey for every game in preference to all the others. If all officials have other jerseys and all can wear the same color and not be in conflict with the teams, they may wear other colors.…


In trying to give parents of our young referees some ideas for Christmas, I was going to offer the suggestion of a second color jersey.

Yellow is “primary” but in your opinion (or perhaps it’s written somewhere), what is the succession of other colors a referee should have. I’ve understood it to be black, then red, then blue (and, now I see in Official Sports, the color green — as they wore on the MLS finals).

USSF answer (December 7, 2007):
There is no order of succession. Referees are required to have the gold jersey (see below), but are free to wear whichever shirt they like, provided (1) it does not cause a color conflict with one of the teams and (2) each member of the crew wears the same color and sleeve length. It is perhaps best to see which colors most referees in your area have. That would prove more economical in the long run.

For those who delve further: The order given in the Referee Administrative Handbook (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 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.…