Can the referee give a yellow/red card to an acitve player while the referee and the player are outside the field (appox 10 meters)?

synopsis: two active players get involved in an arugment outside the field while trying to retrieve a throw-in ball. The referee runs outside the field and cards the players. Is this legal? It was my understanding that both the referee and the player must be inside the field for the card to be official.

USSF answer (November 3, 2008):
The referee may caution or send off players, substitutes, or substituted players for misconduct at any time between the moment the referee arrives at the venue and the time the referee leaves the venue. That includes in the dressing rooms, in the team areas, on the field or off the field. The only difference is that a card must be shown on the field of play, but the fact that it might have been shown off the field does not negate the caution or the sending-off. All details must be included in the referee’s match report.…


Actually two questions, with no information to suggest that the two situations actually involve the same people.
1. A coach asks:
If a coach is suspended from a game by the referee and the league rules that he automatically becomes ineligible for the following two games. Should he be allowed to coach his other team within that same league during that suspension if he is one of those of us who coach two teams at a time?
2. A club officer asks:
Last week in a recreational league, two coaches on opposing teams were ejected by the referee for profanity and bad sportsmanship. Both coaches tendered their resignation as it was suggested that with only two games left in the season and a two game suspension for the infraction it didn’t make sense not to. One coach rescinded his resignation the night before the next game and went on to coach a team in the same league that he was not the head coach of prior to this incident. Can an red carded coach continue to coach other teams in the same league with the same refs working the games?

USSF answer (October 22, 2008):
Your questions revolve about the same issue — namely, what is the “reach” of the automatic one game mandatory suspension (and, perhaps as a supplement, of any lengthier suspension)?  Does it apply only to the next game involving the same team?  Does it apply to the next game under the same authority, whether or not it is the same team?  Does it apply to the next game regardless of team or authority?

First off, the referee does not suspend coaches or other participants. The referee has the power to send off players, substitutes, and substituted players and to expel team officials who do not behave responsibly. Only the competition authority (club, league, state association, etc.) has the power to suspend anyone beyond the one game suspension prescribed in the Laws of the Game.

It is normal that a player (or substitute or substituted player) is suspended from the next game under the aegis of the competition authority, but that may be extended by the authority in accordance with its regulations. The same applies to a coach or other team official. It is also normal that these persons do not participate in other events sponsored by the same authority until their suspension in the first instance has run its course.

There will be no guidance from FIFA (the world governing body) since, in their context, the question wouldn’t even arise.  A player is on one team and only one team, and a coach is with one team and only one team.   Whether we are speaking of a player or a team official, the reach of the minimum one game suspension is limited to the next game under the same authority which authorized the game in which the red card was given.  Any lengthier suspension would apply to whatever the governing body desired as long as it was within their scope.

What your questions concern is preventing a dismissed coach from being at his next scheduled match controlled by the same competition authority, even if it involves a different team.  In practical local terms, that means that a coach who has a boys team and a girls team who is dismissed from one of his girls’ games would have to be absent from his next girls’ game but not his next boys’ game.  However, the governing authority over both of these organizations could, in theory, decide otherwise. In the end, the resolution of this matter is up to the competition authority.…


say a coach is showing minimal dissent due to his players being abused. Then the ref comes over and tells him “this is your final warning” and the coach asks “what was my first warning?” and the ref shows a yellow card. Then the coach asks him why he was carded for asking a question and then the ref shows the red card to the coach and he is ejected. Is the referee just in 1. showing a card to a coach and 2. passing out cards for such minor offenses

USSF answer (October 7, 2008):
Unless the rules of your competition require it, there is no reason or legal basis whatsoever to show a card of any color to a coach or other person affiliated with a team who is not a player, a substitute, or a substituted player.

Law 5 tells us that the referee:

– takes disciplinary action against players guilty of cautionable and sending-off offenses. He is not obliged to take this action immediately but must do so when the ball next goes out of play
– takes 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

NOTE: We cannot endorse the referee’s method of dealing with the coach. Coaches, no matter how pushy and obnoxious they may be, are entitled to the same courteous and considerate treatment as the referee would give to any other person.…


I was substitute refereeing a U15 game (the other ref couldn’t make it). And during the first half one of the teams coaches was just yelling at me from the sidelines, that I was missing handballs and aggressive pushing (there was a couple I missed but nothing game changing). But at half-time while I was talking to my boss (he was informing me that there are only suppose to be two coaches on a side per team) the “yelling coach” came over and just started criticizing me, my fellow ref, and our local soccer organization. We tried to explain to him that we are just kids so we do not have the ability to see everything, but he just couldn’t stop.

In the process he ended up wasting 15 minutes of halftime and reduced the other ref into tears. We told him that if he has problems he should file a complaint or talk to us after the game. He stepped off the field and sat with the parents the rest of the game.

So my questions are:
Could we have handled it better?
Is it possible to just call the game due to the coach?

and please keep in mind I am only 16 and have been reffing for two seasons.

USSF answer (October 7, 2008):
No ageism here, sir. We treat all referees as equals. Well, maybe not those whose associations put them on two-referee games, which are not allowed under the Laws of the Game. To them we recommend that they either convince their association to use the Diagonal System of Control (one referee and two assistant referees) or find another association that does.

Not forgetting your question, we can state simply that you should have told this “coach” to get back to his team area immediately and not to bother you before, during, or after the game. If he had a problem, he is welcome, as you clearly told him, to submit a report to your association and to the state organization, but he is not welcome to interfere with your work or your break at halftime. If he persists after this notification, then you should use the power granted you by Law 5 and take action against the coach or any other team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner. That means that you may, at your discretion, expel them from the field of play and its immediate vicinity.…


What should the penalty be for a player and or their team for striking the referee after a game was over? A review of incident shows several players chasing the referee and one of them hits the offical with a jersey.

USSF answer (September 4, 2008):
The punishment for this serious misconduct would be up to the competition authority. If the referee was still on the field, he or she could show the red card for violent conduct, but that doesn’t sound like a viable action in this situation. The best thing would be for the referee to include full details — as many as he or she could remember — in the match report. And if there is a video, the referee should also send a COPY of the video along with the report.

In addition, the referee should pursue remedies through his/her state or regional referee associations. If the referee was actually struck, there are civil and criminal remedies available.…


Is it appropriate to take game and situational factors, especially the age of players, when considering sending-off offenses? The ATR “philosophy of cautions” is clear that the referee must consider qualitative factors when determining whether or not to give a caution. Does the same concept apply to send-offs? To be more specific, having determined that a sending-off foul occurred, must the referee send off the player regardless of the player’s age?

As an example, I would be hard-pressed to send off a U12 player for DGH. The law seems intended to prevent older and more skilled players from trading a sure goal for a PK, by adding the consequence of playing a man down. A U12 player is unlikely to understand this, and more importantly is far more likely to handle the ball in an “oh crap” moment than with malicious premeditation. If possible, I’d appreciate a general response as well as an answer to the specific example.

USSF answer (August 5, 2008):
Yes, the Federation suggests that the referee weigh the facts in every case of misconduct, so as to ensure that both the Letter and the Spirit of the Laws are satisfied. But if the referee chooses to excuse a player aged 9-14 for committing an infringement that should be punished by an immediate sending-off simply because he or she is so young, how will such players learn right from wrong and how to play soccer properly, not to mention to exist in society? There is, of course, the question as to whether an accidental (“Oh crap”) handling should be considered at all — and the answer must be a resounding “NO!”…


At about 30 yds, fron t of the goal, defender made a foul which requires a caution (no discussion about it). The referee wants to issue a caution but the attacking team plays the DFK immediately in order to gain an advantage. The referee let play. Now on the top of this, the defender who made the foul already had a caution and therefore should have been send off but is not. Could the referee issue the caution at the next stoppage or is the opportuinity gone as the team played the DFK rapidly? I am aware of the USSF memo about stopping the play to issue a caution.

I remember seeing a game in which the referee had the caution in his hand but the team played fast and I beleive the referee gave the caution afterwards.

USSF answer (May 6, 2008):
It is not simply USSF who says that the disciplinary action must be taken before the restart: It is implicit in the Laws, which state it quite clearly. The referee may not delay the caution (or further punishment) until after a subsequent stoppage; it must be done at this stoppage or not at all.

If the team against whom the offense was committed takes the free kick quickly, but the referee KNOWS that this would not be fair to all participants within the Spirit of the Game, then the referee has two ways of dealing with the matter. The first would be to stop play immediately, noting that the restart was taken “incorrectly” and thus making it null and void. He or she may then issue the caution (or greater punishment) and then allow the restart to be retaken “correctly.” The second option depends on the judgment of the referee: If this particular restart is, in the opinion of the referee, an excellent opportunity for the team with the ball, then the incident may be set aside for the moment and later recorded in the match report with full details. This will allow the competition authority to make up its own mind on the matter.…