AR Involvement in Decisions

James, a U-12 and under referee, asks:

During the game an attacker kicked the ball directly at a defender who was in the penalty area. The ball hit her hand. My initial reaction was to continue play because I saw that her hand was close to her body and felt the hand ball was inadvertent. The AR put his flag up and started yelling “hand ball”. I stopped play and went over to him. He had a slightly better vantage point and he said that he was certain that the hand ball was deliberate. I awarded a penalty kick to the attacking team. My question is, if I had decided that the AR was incorrect and I was not going to grant a hand ball, what would have been the appropriate restart?

Answer

First, beware of ARs who shout out things like that.  An experienced AR would have found another way to deal with the issue.

Second, it is always a good idea during your pregame to gauge the level of expertise and experience of your crew and act accordingly.  ARs should “interfere” only if and when it is 100% clear that you had (a) made an error and (b) the AR’s position was clearly better than your position/angle.

If you are positioned properly with a good angle and believe you saw the event, simply wave down the AR (who should then “retreat”) and the event can be discussed during some future stoppage of play, during the midgame break, or after the game.  If you feel that the AR’s position was better and the AR was sufficiently experienced to be relied upon to not signal differently unless this was the case, then you stop play, go to the AR, and privately discuss the matter.  You make your decision taking into account all the facts and circumstances and either restart with the PK or decide otherwise.  In the case of “otherwise,” your only restart option is a dropped ball.

In either case, the AR should be advised to not shout out things that simply call unwanted and unnecessary attention to the moment and create a potential appearance of “discord” within the officiating team – just raise the flag straight up, make eye contact with the referee, waggle the flag briefly, and then signal a recommended PK restart (all of this is standard mechanics – the failure to follow this speaks volumes to us about this AR’s experience or lack of training).  If you disagree, simply wave it down – which the AR should promptly do unless … (see (a) and (b) above).

LOTG OR GUIDE TO PROCEDURES TAKES PRECEDENCE?

Question:
We have three long tenured, hard headed referees sitting around after a match discussing what throw in signaling procedures the R and AR’s should perform and how. All disagree. So here we go:

What takes precedence: Laws of the Game or Guide to Procedures?

LOTG Referee Authority: In Law 5: “Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game ….”

LOTG Assistant Referee Duties: In Law 6 the two “assistant referees … duties (are) subject to the decision of the referee ….”

In Guide to Procedures: THROW-IN

• Referee’s End Of Touch Line: Referee “Signals stoppage of play (whistle only if necessary); Points 45 degrees upward to indicate direction of throw-in”. Assistant Referee “Provides confirming flag signal after referee indicates throw-in decision. If referee makes obvious eye contact to ask for assistance before indicating a decision, uses signal to establish direction which was agreed to in the pre-game conference, and then provides confirming throw-in flag signal after referee indicates decision.”

• Assistant Referee’s End Of Touch Line: Assistant Referee “Signals with flag 45 degrees upward in the direction of the throw-in”. Referee “Points in direction of throw-in only if assistant referee signal needs to be corrected due to unseen contact with the ball”.

May pre-game conference instructions from the Referee overrule the Guide to Procedure procedures?

Discussion points:
• There is a different sequence in Guide to Procedures to signaling throw-ins which is different in the Referee’s and the Assistant Referee’s ends of the field. Must these be strictly adhered to?
• If the Referee during the pre-game conference instructs the Assistant Referees that they must always seek eye contact with the Referee before signaling and:
– The Assistant Referee will always seek eye contact with the Referee before signaling.
– If no eye contact (choice of the Referee), the Assistant Referee should not signal.
-After eye contact, both the Referee and Assistant Referee will indicate their choice of throw-in direction by signaling discretely with the appropriate hand or arm/flag. Then Assistant Referee will signal (and choice of Referee is indicated, that is, by hand signal but not always pointing upward).
– It also appears to be common practice for the Referee to signal throw-in direction on most all throw-ins, that is, in contrast to the above procedure to only signal to correct the Assistant Referee’s signal for Assistant Referee’s End Of Touch Line.

Two of us enjoy the eye contact as an opportunity for teamwork, communication, and camaraderie.

One of us feels his duties as AR are being encroached and inappropriately limited, and wishes to strictly follow the Guide to Procedures.

Please give us your thoughts. The more detail, the better.

USSF answer (March 21, 2012):
The Guide to Procedures is all about, well, procedures (i.e., mechanics) and, as such, is always secondary to the Laws of the Game. The assistant referee should use the procedures and mechanics specified by the referee in the pre-game (and will carefully ask questions to ensure that any instructions which are out of the ordinary are well and truly understood). The Guide is, as it states in the Foreword, the source of officially-approved mechanics. They were developed by officials at the highest competitive levels, tested at all levels, and are assumed to incorporate the “best practices” in the covered situations. Please note the following final statement in the Foreword:
“Alternate signals, procedures, and methods of communication within the officiating team are not authorized for games under the jurisdiction of the United States Soccer Federation using the diagonal system of control.” (emphasis added).

What this means is that, where the Guide does not include a pertinent scenario, the officiating team is free to develop additional mechanics, but they must not (a) conflict with those already established in the Guide, (b) are not intrusive, (c) are not distracting, (d) are limited in number and purpose, and (e) are discussed within the team in advance. However, assistant referee should realize that, if instructed otherwise, they are to follow the referee’s requirements and trust that the discussion between the referee and the assessor after the match will be very interesting.

AR PROCEDURE

Question:
What is the correct procedure for the lead AR who has called a foul in the penalty area on the defending team? We have hours of discussion on this subject and cannot find anything in the procedures book that gives us the details.

One position is this. The AR calls the foul with his flag in his right hand waves and then after making eye contact with the center runs to the corner area, to get ready for the PK.

Another is: The AR calls the foul with the flag is is Right hand, makes eye contact, then points in the direction of the foul and then makes a run to the corner area to indicate a PK.

Another is: the above but instead of running the corner, the AR runs directly to the area between the 6 and the 18? Not necessary for him to point direction.

What is USSF position on this subject?

USSF answer (February 20, 2012):
We are not certain where the problem lies. The procedure outlined in the Guide to Procedures, p. 37 (p. 38 in PDF version), should work fine:

Assistant Referee
• Determines that the direct free kick foul by a defender inside the penalty area was not seen by the referee and that, per the pregame conference, the referee would likely have stopped play for the foul if it had been seen
• Signals with a flag straight up
• Upon making eye contact with the referee, gives the flag a slight wave
• If referee stops game, assistant referee first indicates penalty kick by holding flag across the lower body and then begins walking toward the corner flag
• Takes the appropriate position either for the penalty kick if confirmed by the referee or for the next phase of play if the referee orders a different restart

In addition, the AR should always signal with the flag in the hand that indicates direction (if necessary) or, in cases not involving direction, in the hand that gives the referee and the AR a good line of visual communication.

AR PROCEDURE

Question:
What is the correct procedure for the lead AR who has called a foul in the penalty area on the defending team? We have hours of discussion on this subject and cannot find anything in the procedures book that gives us the details.

One position is this. The AR calls the foul with his flag in his right hand waves and then after making eye contact with the center runs to the corner area, to get ready for the PK.

Another is: The AR calls the foul with the flag is is Right hand, makes eye contact, then points in the direction of the foul and then makes a run to the corner area to indicate a PK.

Another is: the above but instead of running the corner, the AR runs directly to the area between the 6 and the 18? Not necessary for him to point direction.

What is USSF position on this subject?

USSF answer (January 27, 2012):

We are not certain where the problem lies. The procedure outlined in the Guide to Procedures, p. 37 (p. 38 in the PDF version), should work fine:

Assistant Referee
• Determines that the direct free kick foul by a defender inside the penalty area was not seen by the referee and that, per the pregame conference, the referee would likely have stopped play for the foul if it had been seen
• Signals with a flag straight up
• Upon making eye contact with the referee, gives the flag a slight wave
• If referee stops game, assistant referee first indicates penalty kick by holding flag across the lower body and then begins walking toward the corner flag
• Takes the appropriate position either for the penalty kick if confirmed by the referee or for the next phase of play if the referee orders a different restart

In addition, the AR should always signal with the flag in the hand that indicates direction (if necessary) or, in cases not involving direction, in the hand that gives the referee and the AR a good line of visual communication.

COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION!!

Question:
While officiating a U14 tournament match with game time running down, a corner kick was taken by attacking team A. The corner kick ball carried into the goal area where a collection of players from teams A & B were positioned.The ball squirmed out and was cleared from the goal area by defending team B. As the ball soared towards midfield, time expired and I signaled the end of the game with a whistle. I then noticed my AR2 signaling a foul in the goal area.

After consulting with him it was determined a defender B, prior to time expiring, had handled the ball before it was cleared by his teammate. I called all the players back to the penalty area and advised them all, a handling foul was committed before time ran out and a penalty kick was being awarded to Team A. The ensuing PK was scored by team A, thus tieing the game and sending the match to a shootout to determine the winner. Without any special provisions in the tournament rules to rely upon, did I follow correct USSF procedure for awarding the PK?

USSF answer (January 16, 2012):

Well, unfortunately, there is no way the AR’s information can be used: You and the AR did not follow accepted procedure. Once you have ended the game, no further decisions on that game (other than misconduct following the end of the game) can be made. Why? Because by ending the match without checking with your ARs for any information, you have fallen victim to these words in Law 5:
“The referee may only change a decision on realizing that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee or the fourth official, provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the match.”

Simply following correct procedures would have allowed you to take the AR’s information into consideration, but after the decision to end the game has been made the referee’s hands are tied.

GETTING REFEREE-AR COMMUNICATION RIGHT

Question:
This past weekend I was centering a BU14 game with 2 AR’s that I had not worked with in the past.  Our pre-game conference unfortunately, did not cover the situation which unfolded as follows.  During the first half a Blue Attacker struck a volley shot from about 25 yards out.  I was positioned approximately 10 yard from the shot and about 30 yards from the goal line. The shot was driven over the outstretched arms of the opposing keeper and then struck the crossbar, directing it downwards toward the ground.  The ball struck the ground and due to the spin on the ball bounced back out towards the top of the goal area, where it was eventually cleared by the defense.  From my vantage point, I could not tell if the whole of the ball had cross over the goal line and a goal had been scored.  I looked to my AR, who was positioned about 10-12 yards from the goal line (even with the 2nd to the last defender) and clearly in a much better position than me to see if the ball had entirely crossed over the goal line, albeit, not in the optimal position of being on the goal line.  He raised his flag excitedly waiving it, but then put the flag down & waived his free arm at waist level from side to side, in what I believed to be a negative manner.  (Here is where the confusion began)  I called to him to inquire if the ball had crossed the line.  Due to his negative gesture, I believed he was indicating “no goal” and indicated verbally for play to continue.  At no time did I blow my whistle to stop play.  Several minutes later at the stoppage for halftime I went to AR and confer with him at which point he indicated that the ball had in fact crossed the line and was indicating that it was a goal.  At the time I had discovered my error, we did not correct it and the game ended with the Blue team losing 2-1, as opposed to a 2-2 tie.  I believe that I incorrectly applied a portion of the law concerning when a goal is scored with too many players on the field and play is restarted, that the goal may not be disallowed. (ie an error may not be corrected after play has been restarted) The game report was submitted with an description of the error that was made.  Furthermore, league officials were present at the game & I immediately made them aware of the matter as well.

At halftime, I reviewed the AR’s procedures and signals for indicating a goal and getting the center Referee’s attention if a problem arises, but again, the mistake had already occurred.  This will now be part of my pre-game instructions.

I have reviewed the Laws of the Game, specifically Law 5 – The Referee and Law 10 – The method of scoring and cannot find anything specific to this situation.  I also reviewed Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees.  My next thought was to check Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game, but then submitted my question here.  Clearly the pre-game could have been a bit more thorough and communication between the myself and my AR should have been better, However, the error was made and I now find myself searching for an answer to address the issue.

Law 5 clearly states “that the decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match are final.  The referee may only change a decision on realizing that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee or the 4th official, provided he has not restarted play or terminated the match.

Here is my question.  Play was never restarted and continued on as I believed that no goal had been scored.  The match was not terminated and merely ended upon the expiration of regulation time.  I suspect that the answer will be the final determination will be left up the the league.  However, in the future, procedurally, should the error have been corrected at halftime or at the next stoppage in play when the error was discovered or did I handle it correctly in documenting it in the game report & leaving it up to the league to resolve?

USSF answer (December 20, 2011):
Your problem lay in failure to follow standard procedures during the pregame conference and during play. If you had followed them, as we know you will in future, you would have stopped play immediately.

The correct procedure in the case of goals seen by the lead assistant referee is to follow the guidance given on p. 25 of the USSF “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials.”  If the ball briefly but fully enters the goal and is continuing to be played and this is not clearly seen by the referee, the AR raises the flag vertically to get the referee’s attention and then, after the referee stops play, the AR puts the flag straight down and follows the normal procedures for a goal. In turn, the referee should check visually with the assistant referee long enough to see a signal for a goal in cases where the ball is being played close to the goal and may have briefly but fully entered the goal.

In cases of doubt, stop play immediately and check verbally with the AR. If (as would have happened here) you decide that a goal WAS scored, well and good. If it turns out that the AR’s arm waving meant that there was no goal, then ou can always apologize to the players, something referees do not do often enough, and restart with a dropped ball.

We assume that this sentence, “I believe that I incorrectly applied a portion of the law concerning when a goal is scored with too many players on the field and play is restarted, that the goal may not be disallowed. (ie an error may not be corrected after play has been restarted),” refers to whether you might have stopped play upon realizing (somehow) that a goal had been scored. For this, we recommend following the International Football Association Board’s instructions that, when the ball leaves the field and the referee does not see (or does not understand) the AR’s signal, play can be stopped at any time the realization dawns unless “too much play” (including a stoppage and a restart) has gone by. In this case, the ball going into the goal is merely a specific example of the ball having left the field.

AR POSITIONING; CHANTS & DANCING; “WINNER’S TUNNEL”

Question:
Quick positional question. If you are AR on a game, where is the best place to line up for judgement of offside? dead even with the last defender,or even with the back heel of the last defender to see across the plane of their back. second, u15 post match the winning team goes back onto the field faces their fans sideline,lines up performs a chant,with or without choreographed movements. unsporting behavior? same question post match in youth games,and parents coming on field post match,and forming a “winners tunnel” for team to run through.

USSF answer (November 29, 2011):
1. The AR should be level with the second-last defender. If you are confused about the status of the goalkeeper, just remember that the ‘keeper is a defender, a member of the same team as the field players. If you are confused about whether to line up with the second-last defender’s back heel versus his torso or kneecap or forehead, you need to review the USSF publication “Guide to Procedure for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials.”

2. The game is over. As long as nothing derogatory is said about the other team, who cares?

3. Such things are rather juvenile, but who cares; the game is over.

AR FLAG UNSEEN BY REFEREE

Question:
During the course of a game the assistant line judge raised a waving flag to indicate a purposeful hand ball on white. The foul along with the assistants waving flag was not seen by the referee.

White clearly gained an advantage on the field of play over black and the progressive play resulted in a white goal. Which in my opinion should have been brought back but the assistant lowered his flag before the goal without black gaining possession or an advantage. My question is if an assistant notices a foul but it is unseen by the referee is there a certain amount of time this foul should be called or was the assistant justified in lowering his flag due the referee’s unawareness even though black never gained possession or an advantage?

It is my opinion that the assistant should have not lowered his flag unless black gained possession thus resulting in a black advantage.

The play should have then been brought back resulting in a no goal.

Would this be the correct play procedure or etiquette?

USSF answer (October 11, 2011):
Our instructions to referees (and players and coaches and spectators who care to read them) on the matter are collected in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials.” The citation below pertains to your scenario:

Lead Assistant Referee
* Determines that the infringement was not or could not be seen by the referee and that, per the pregame conference, the referee would likely have stopped play for the infringement if it had been seen
* Signals with the flag raised vertically in the hand appropriate for the restart direction and, after making eye contact with the referee, gives the flag a slight wave
* If the referee stops play, signals with the flag held 45 degrees upward in the direction of the restart if the foul was committed by any player outside of the penalty area or by an attacker inside the penalty area
* If misconduct is observed associated with the foul, makes eye contact with the referee and advises either a yellow card by placing the free hand over the badge on the left jersey pocket or a red card by placing the free hand on a back pocket on the shorts
* Indicates the location of the restart if necessary
* If the referee does not see the signal, continues to hold the flag straight upward in accordance with the pregame conference
* Per pregame conference, assists in enforcing the required minimum distance if closer to the restart location
* Takes position to assist with offside on the free kick and monitors other player actions in accordance with the pre-game conference
Trail Assistant Referee
* Mirrors the lead assistant referee’s flag signal if this is not seen by the referee and, upon making eye contact with the referee, directs the referee’s attention to the lead assistant referee

In this case, the game does not seem to have stopped until the ball entered the goal. The assistant referee should have kept his flag raised throughout this sequence of play and then, when the ball entered the goal, dropped the flag and stood at attention to gain the referee’s attention. After a discussion between the two, the referee should have disallowed the goal and brought the ball back to the spot of the foul and awarded the direct free kick to black for the deliberate handling by the white player. The referee should make eye contact with each of his ARs frequently. This referee appears not to have done so.

The issue of maintaining flag signals for events not seen by the referee is also a topic strongly recommended for inclusion on the pregame discussion among the members of the officiating team. The protocol for maintaining a flag for an offside violation is fairly clearly delineated, as is the protocol if the event not seen by the referee involves violent misconduct, but the decision about holding on to a signal for a foul is largely a matter of preference by the referee and this needs to be clearly set forth by the referee ahead of time.

REFEREE-AR COMMUNICATION AT A GOAL

Question:
If an attacking team shoots a shot on goal against the defending team and the ball bounces off the top goal post and straight down, clearly going over the line, but then spins back out of the goal and the AR signals that a goal has occurred, but the Referee yells play on because he either doesn’t believe it was a goal or didn’t look at the AR then what should the AR do in that situation if he is sure it was a goal but has not been acknowledged by the referee or fears the referee may be overruling him incorrectly and play continues?

USSF answer (October 6, 2011):
If the referee does his (or her) job correctly and the AR does his (or her) job correctly, there should have been no problem in awarding the goal immediately, provided they used the information supplied in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials.”

The referee’s job is to check visually with the AR and ensure that his view of the AR is maintained long enough to see a signal for a goal in cases where the ball is being played close to the goal and may have briefly but fully entered the goal. The AR’s job, if the ball briefly but fully enters the goal and is continuing to be played (and the referee’s view of the situation was obscured), is to raise the flag vertically to get the referee’s attention and then, after the referee stops play, to put flag straight down and follow the prescribed procedures for a goal (see the Guide). You do not tell us how you signalled the goal, but might it have been counter to the guidance given in the Guide to Procedures?

If the referee and the AR do not use the correct procedure and play continues, the AR’s next job is to get the information to the referee as quickly as possible. We certainly hope that the referee and the ARs discussed a suitable procedure for such events during their pregame conference. One way to do this would be to stand at attention at the goal line and not move with play; when the referee realizes that the AR is not moving with play, then he should stop the game and speak with the AR

AR PROCEDURE AT A GOAL UNSEEN BY REFEREE

Question:
As an assistant referee, what is the proper way to indicate that a goal has been scored when not immediately apparent to the center referee that the ball has crossed the goal line between the posts?

USSF answer (September 15, 2011):
We are not authorized to answer questions regarding high school soccer, but this question covers material that is universal. This guidance from the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials” should answer your question:

• If the ball briefly but fully enters the goal and is continuing to be played, raises the flag vertically to get the referee’s attention and then, after the referee stops play, puts flag straight down and follows the remaining procedures for a goal
• If the ball clearly enters the goal without returning to the field, establishes eye contact with the referee and follows the remaining procedures for a goal
• Runs a short distance up the touch line toward the halfway line to affirm that a goal has been scored
• Keeps moving to avoid confrontation if approached
• Observes the resulting player behavior and the actions in and around the penalty area
• Takes up the position for a kick-off
• Keeps players under observation at all times
• Records the goal after the trail assistant referee has recorded it