In indoor my goalkeeper caught the ball, instead of throwing it in, he decided to throw it on the ground and kick it. The ref called a direct kick because he threw the ball outside the 18. The refs explanation is that the goalkeeper has to put the ball on the ground inside the 18 and then can dribble it out and kick it is this true? We’ve never been called on this before and I think he made a mistake on the call.

USSF answer (March 5, 2012):
If it is truly a rule, it must be something local. The only alternative is that the referee has been abusing illegal substances.

In indoor, when the goalkeeper catches a ball during live dynamic play, he or she has 5 seconds to get rid of it in their half of the field or give up possession. They can throw it, kick it, dribble it, or whatever, but when the 5 seconds are up they must not still be in possession of the ball by hand or foot in their own half of the field or it is a direct free kick from where they’re at. (ALL kicks in indoor are direct free kicks)…


In futsal, it is illegal to tackle an opponent. This seems kind of broad to me. Tackling is the act of dispossessing an opponent of the ball. So, if a player takes the ball away from an opponent, without any contact, would this be illegal?

USSF answer (January 27, 2012):

That portion of futsal rules changed 2 years ago. It is generally like outdoor soccer, the difference being that in futsal contact with an opponent before contact with the ball is not allowed unless the referee feels the contact was inadvertent when both were playing for the ball. An outdoor-style shoulder charge is a no no. The same standards of careless, reckless, or use of excessive force are applied as in outdoor soccer.…


In indoor soccer, a subsititute dissents after getting a blue card, and a yellow card (2nd blue). The referee issues a red card, does the team play short?

USSF answer (May 30, 2011):
As we understand it, someone gets a blue card, and then gets a yellow card for misconduct. And then ,separate from the other 2 incidents (later in the game), is judged guilty of dissent as a substitute on the bench. That dissent is a caution, so it’s his 3rd card. He gets a red because it’s his 3rd card. No, his team does not play short, and nobody serves the 5-minute misconduct in his stead. The documentation on the ejected player should reflect a blue, yellow, yellow, and a red. The red is administratively issued for receiving 3 cards in the same match.

Just FYI, if the sequence is simultaneous, then the answer is different. Same at all levels.…


During an indoor soccer match, a defending player turned his back on a shot by an attacking player. The defender was in the area and his arm was struck by the ball which resulted in a penalty kick. As the referee for this match, I cleared the “18 box” and placed the ball on the spot. When I the blew whistle, a defending player rushed the ball and struck it before the attacking player struck the ball. I blew the whistle and called for a re-kick. Both teams stated that once the referee blew his whistle, the ball was in play and could be struck by any player. I have not found any rule for indoor soccer that states the ball is in play after the whistle, only after an attacking player strikes the ball. Please help.

USSF answer (March 18, 2011):
There are two different restart scenarios that your players are confusing. Indoor has both a penalty kick and a shootout. On an indoor penalty kick, no other players should have been anywhere close enough to do that.

In the case of a shootout, the restart is from the center of the yellow line (50 feet from the goal line). The keeper is to stand on at least one foot on his own goal line, other than the shooter, all the other player must be in the other half of the field. The remaining attacking field players must be outside the center circle, the defending teammates of the GK are inside. Once the referee blows the whistle the ball is “live” and the shooter can dribble, the keeper can come off his goal line, and the players in the other half of the field can then run toward the play.

The penalty kick is pretty much like the outdoor except the goalkeeper must have both feet on his own goal line and can’t move forward until the ball is struck. All the remaining field players are back behind the yellow line and must remain there until the ball is struck.

It’s unfortunate that you were assigned to indoor without being trained on the rules. However, your men’s amateur players are typical. They will say anything to justify what they do, just as outdoor players do.…


In indoor soccer, if a ball is struck BEFORE but crosses the goal line AFTER the final whistle, has a goal been scored or is the game over immediately upon the final whistle?

USSF answer (February 4, 2010):

We cannot speak to whatever rules may be played at the arena you use, but normally with indoor rules you have to live with the arena horn. The rule states: “. . . the whole of the ball must cross the goal line BEFORE the horn begins to sound for a goal to be scored.” We suspect that is why pro indoor uses goal judges, even though the referees on the floor have the final decision.  …


This is a question on a futsal game. If a coach ask for a time out does the timekeeper stop the clock?

USSF answer (February 1, 2011):
Yes, but not right away. In futsal, only one time-out is lowed to each team in each half of play. The time-out may be requested at any time, but is only given when the ball is out of play and the team that is requesting the time-out has possession on the restart. Only when the referee acknowledges and signals that a time-out has been granted to a team does the timekeeper actually stop the game clock. Once the one-minute time-out is over, the referees signals that the time-out is over and the players on both teams should return to the pitch. The clock then only restarts again after the referee signals the restart AND when the ball is correctly put back into play by the team that requested the time-out.…


During a game I argued a call to the referee (no foul language)….I asked him what game was he watching? He came over to the bench (I was acting as a coach) and pointed to the door and said leave. So I left. He later took my player card and said that he is giving me a red card.

Can he give me a red card after the fact? He asked me to leave….no warning. Can he just decide that that is a red card offense after the fact? Plus we were not sent down a man (indoor) indicating an offense has taken place.

Is this a traditional banning then?

USSF answer (November 10, 2010):
In point of fact, the referee should not show a coach a card of any color in any form of soccer, indoor or outdoor; it is against the Laws. However, there may be some facility rule regarding this. Many indoor facilities have their own rules that take no notice of the Laws of the Game.

In your role as a player/coach, the referee could legally send you off and even show you the red card, because you were dressed as a player. In our opinion, the send-off as a player is extremely questionable if the situation was as you describe it, because your behavior does not seem to have gone beyond dissent (a cautionable offense). In our experience the red “after the fact” is not out of the realm of normalcy for indoor soccer — and the referee does not have to warn a player (or coach) at all, no matter whether indoor or outdoor. If you were expelled as a coach, there would have been no time penalty.

Under the Laws of the Game the only reason to send off a coach is for irresponsible behavior, and what you describe could fit that category, depending on your tone of voice and what else had been happening in the game. It would appear that the referee decided “that’s enough” and expelled you for exceeding the acceptable bounds of competitive enthusiasm.…


I was reffing a U-13/U-14 girls match and these girls kept going at it and i kept calling the fouls. Then about the fourth time the girl persistently infringed the laws of the game and the indoor rules so i issued a Blue card (2 minute warning with no subbing) and the coach got all upset and said “that’s not how soccer is played you are wrong and its not a 2 minute and i should be able to sub” and i told him that, that’s how the rules are here. He then kept going about and i gave him one last warning and about a few minutes later he was all upset about a tripping call, so i then stopped the match and ejected him from the field of play. Was this a right call??

Second.. The next week i refed his team again and the game was fine all but the last 10 minutes of the game. I issued one of his players a Blue Card and he got all upset that i gave a card. Then a few minutes later i gave both the “white” player and “Blue” player a yellow for checking into the boards and the Blue coach was still worked up about the call but i didn’t eject him because there was only about 3 minutes left in the game so i just issued another warning and kept the game going. Was this the right call or should i have ejected him again??

USSF answer (March 18, 2010):
Your scenario presents some difficulties You say these girls “kept going at it.” Does that mean both teams were playing the same way? Were they just playing physical soccer and can you look at what you’re saying are infringements of the law as “trivial” and not needing to be called because that’s the way both teams want to play? When it comes to game management, indoor is no different than the other games in soccer, if the players are playing hard, they all accept the contact and are not complaining, then the referee might want to adjust to how tightly the game is called. Always consider other “options” before you resort to using cards. In your first situation, if a player is truly blatantly and persistently infringing the indoor playing rules, the 2-minute blue card is an appropriate option. It sounds as if the coach needs to read the local indoor rules. From the sound of it, unless the coach is using foul or abusive language or directly affecting the game with his outbursts, you might want to ignore him or tolerate his lack of understanding of the local rules. Absent that, the appropriate way to give him a warning in indoor is a “bench warning.” That’s when, at a stoppage, you formally hold your arm up in the air with a closed fist, point to his bench, and say something like, “That’s a bench warning” loudly enough for all to hear. Also inform them that further unacceptable outbursts will result in a Team Time Penalty. Now you have the option of giving a 2-minute Team Time Penalty against his team for his outbursts. You’ll also want to take a few seconds to write it down on your match report before you proceed.

Next, before the next week’s games, you should have notified your indoor assignor of the situation and tried to avoid working that same team again for a while. The blue card is probably correct, but remember to use your options and manage the game without cards where possible. If you gave the players from both teams the yellow cards during play, that was in error; you should have given blue cards to them instead of yellow. In indoor Yellow cards are issued for misconduct when the ball is not in play, or for things like Dissent, Encroachment or Delay of Game. Yellow cards are hard 5-minute penalties where the team doesn’t play short-handed. The player in the penalty box can’t leave after his 5 minutes until a guaranteed substitution occurs, and then he can only go to the bench, not directly to the field.

It sounds as if you handled the coach correctly the second week. Again, unless the coach is using foul or abusive language, or directly affecting the game, find a way to ignore his comments. It also sounds as if you’re doing the games one man. If you’re working a 2-man system, change sides with your partner so the coach can be managed by your partner since you saw him just the week before.…


Perhaps this slightly outside of your purview, but since USSF does sanction Indoor Referees and Indoor Rules, let’s assume that was the rule of competition instead of this house league.

A player committed a reckless foul and was issued a 2-minute Time Penalty and shown the blue card. On his way out of the arena, he slammed the door in anger. Similar to the act of throwing a water bottle on the field, which I know the WIRs have defined as violent conduct, I equated this as the same, and sent him off. Was I justified? If so, is this an absolute (and also, is the act of throwing water bottles in anger always an act of 100% misconduct mandating punishment by a send-off/dismissal?), or does the Referee have “wiggle room” to manage the situation?

USSF answer (February 13, 2010):
Unless there is some other rule in this competition, under indoor rules the act of slamming the door falls under the category of “misconduct” and should be handled by showing an immediate yellow card and giving that player an additional 5-minute misconduct penalty for the dissent. The team must then have a substitute join the original player in the penalty box; the sub would serve the original 2-minute penalty and come out to put the team at full strength if a goal was scored against them, or at the end of the 2 minutes. Since the penalties would be concurrent, the original offender would serve 7 full minutes, and cannot leave the box until a guaranteed substitution opportunity after the 7 minutes expires, because his team is not playing shorthanded.…


The same question(s) applying to two different codes, football (soccer as you call it) and futsal:

A team, who was ahead by two goals is scored against with two minutes left to play, leaving them with only a one goal lead. The ball is correctly placed for kick-off (as are all players), and the referee signals for the kick-off to be taken. The team taking the kick-off, after a reasonable amount of time, refuses to take the kick-off.

1) Should the player closest to the ball be cautioned for delaying the restart of play?

2) If after being cautioned, the player still refuses to take the kick-off, what action should the referee take?

3) Is abandoning the match a possibility, should the team refuse to take the kick-off in a timely manner (especially in competitions with no additional time)?

4) Do your answers differ between futsal and football?

USSF answer (January 23, 2010):
1. If the kicking team excessively delays the taking of the kick-off, the referee certainly has the power to caution a player for that reason.

2. a. If, after the caution, the player still refuses to take the kick-off, the player could be cautioned a second time and then sent off for receiving a second caution in the same match.
2. b. The referee would then suggest to the team that someone else should take the kick-off — and add that time is being added for the entire time of the delay, so that the team knows their refusal to restart will save them no time at all.

3. Yes, abandoning the match is a possibility, but the referee should work to get it finished properly. (See 2.b., above, which could also be applied at Steps 1 or 2.a.)

4. Yes, they do differ.

A caution is not mandated in the Futsal Laws of the Game because the referee should simply call the 4-second violation for failing to restart play within the 4 seconds, and then award an indirect free kick to the opposing team. However, if the previous offending team then interferes with the indirect free kick restart, a caution would be in order for the player who interferes with the restart.

It is noteworthy in the scenario you describe that in the Futsal laws of the game, the clock is not restarted until the ball is correctly put back into play. Hence, there is no real advantage for the team to delay the restart. …