When an AR begins to side step to stay close to the play and prepare for a potential offside call, what hand should the flag be in? The outside, left hand? Or the far side right hand? I ask because I was initially taught that the flag should be in the left hand, on the outside so that the referee can see it, but then I was watching the Euro 2008 semi-final between Russia and Spain and one of the ARs was holding the flag in his right hand when he would side step and then he would hold it in both hands in between his feet if he was anticipating an offside call was going to have to be made soon. Is it a personal preference thing? Do different countries teach different things?
Also, when flagging for offside and for a goal kick, should the flag always be in the right hand (far side, so as to open up your entire body to the referee’s sight) or the left hand? I thought right, but I heard from another referee it needs to be in the left and he said a state assessor told him so. I’m confused and hope to practice only the correct mechanics.
USSF answer (July 14, 2008):
This response is based on the referee and the ARs running a standard diagonal, based on a theoretical line from one goalkeeper’s righthand corner to other goalkeeper’s righthand corner. (In practice, of course, the referee covers more of the field than that — or certainly should!) The IFAB’s guidance, followed by UEFA, is based on that diagonal, and they instruct their referees to carry the flag in the left hand (the one nearer to the field and the referee and, if the restart is to be in the other direction, to the right, to switch the flag from the left hand to the right hand. The flag needs to be easily seen by the referee (referee/field side, carried straight down, not swung back and forth while running). Since 2007 IFAB guidance has been that the flag be raised in the right hand when the AR gives the signal for offside and goal kick. This has the advantage of providing the AR with a better view of what is going on between him/her and the referee.
USSF guidance is that the AR carry the flag in the hand nearer to the referee. When the signal is to be made the AR stops, lifts the flag in the hand that will show the direction (if that is necessary), and then shows the direction. (If the direction is opposite to that in which the AR has been running and the flag must be switched over, this must be done before the flag is raised.)
If the referee determines that, based on field conditions or the need for closer management of players, he/she and the ARs should run the lefthand diagonal, then the procedure would be reversed.