Roughly rephrasing a recert question: Following a goal but before the restart it is observed that A) a team official of the goal scoring team was on the field but did not interfere with play or B) a team official of the defending team was on the field but not involved in play.

Does the goal stand and/or what is the restart?

USSF answer (February 17, 2009):
Your complete answer will be found in the back of the Law book, under “INTERPRETATION OF THE LAWS OF THE GAME AND GUIDELINES FOR REFEREES,”, Law 3 – The Number of Players. (If you do not have a copy of the Laws with the Interpretations, etc., in it, you can download it from this site.)

Extra persons on the field of play
Outside Agents
Anyone not indicated on the team list as a player, substitute or team official is deemed to be an outside agent as is a player who has been sent off.


Goals scored with an extra person on the field of play
If, after a goal is scored, the referee realizes, before play restarts, that there was an extra person on the field of play when the goal was scored:
– the referee must disallow the goal if:
— the extra person was an outside agent and he interfered with play
— the extra person was a player, substitute, substituted player or team official associated with the team that scored the goal
– the referee must allow the goal if:
— the extra person was an outside agent who did not interfere with play
— the extra person was a player, substitute, substituted player or team official associated with the team the conceded the goal


have [an] interesting question for you, one that had senior instructors in animated disagreement. We know that:

(a) A team has 11 players, one of whom must be the goalkeeper.

(b) With permission of the referee, a player may leave the field temporarily for treatment of an injury and not be replaced. Play continues.

(c) In the case of (b) above, with the referee’s permission the player may return to the field during play over any touch line, or if play is stopped, over any boundary line.

The question is, if the injured player is the goalkeeper and that team wishes to continue play while the GK is being treated, if this allowed or must one of the other players (or a sub) be designated as GK?

This situation could conceivably arise, for example, in the last few minutes of a 2-1 game when Red is down but has been pounding away at Blue’s goal trying to tie it up. The Red GK gets injured and must be assessed for a possible concussion, the team has no more subs and is reasonably sure the GK can return, so they want to continue playing while momentum is on their side (perhaps also due to concern about game time remaining).

We recognize that in normal circumstances the right thing to do is to wait for the GK to return and add the time lost. But the question is: If the team wants to continue, must we force them to wait?

The referees on one side of this argument point out that no Law is being violated just because the GK happens to be off the field. The referees on the other side think the spirit of the Law (and maybe somewhere, the letter) requires that the GK be on the field. It’s been an interesting discussion.

Would you like to weigh in with your thoughts and/or an official answer?

USSF answer (February 13, 2009):
There is no written requirement that the goalkeeper MUST remain on the field of play. However, The goalkeeper cannot leave the field with the referee’s permission specifically for treatment unless he or she is either substituted or exchanges places temporarily with a field player (following the guidance in Law 3). The clear intent of the Laws is that the goalkeeper remain on the field of play. That is demonstrated through the provisions in the Law that the goalkeeper may be treated on the field, even though (with some specific exceptions) others must leave. (For the exceptions, see Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees, Injured Players.)

However, the goalkeeper is permitted to leave the field during the course of play, just as are all players. A statement in the 2008-2009 Laws of the Game (Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees) demonstrates that: “If a player accidentally crosses one of the boundary lines of the field of play, he is not deemed to have committed an infringement. Going off the field of play may be considered to be part of playing movement.”
An earlier question and answer (2006 IFAB Q&A, Law 3) also illustrates the point:

20. During a match, the goalkeeper sprints from the goal to stop an opponent. He kicks the ball out of the field of play and a throw-in is awarded to the opposing team. The momentum of the goalkeeper takes him off the field of play and before he can return, the throw-in is taken and a goal is scored. What action, if any, should the referee take?
A goal is awarded since no offence has been committed.

A goalkeeper may be treated just off the field while play continues — we often see this in higher-level games — but must return as quickly as possible.

When the ball is out of play, the goalkeeper may gain the permission of the referee to leave the field specifically for treatment, but play cannot be restarted until that goalkeeper has returned to the field, been substituted, or exchanged positions with one of the field players.…


I am almost certain that I have seen somewhere that referees should not wear jewelry.
Can you tell me where that information is at so that I can pass it along to a few of my referees?

USSF answer (September 24, 2008):
You saw it in the 2008/2009 Laws of the Game, the INTERPRETATION OF THE LAWS OF THE GAME AND GUIDELINES FOR REFEREES, which begins on page 55. It’s there under Law 4.

All items of jewelry (necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, leather bands, rubber bands etc.) are strictly forbidden and must be removed.
Using tape to cover jewelry is not acceptable.

Referees are also prohibited from wearing jewelry (except for a watch or similar device for timing the match).


Obviously some things have changed in the last year concerning misconduct (violent conduct) by players on and off the field. Would you please correct or clarify two examples that may have changed and what the correct restart (and by whom) should be:

1. The classic example of the goalkeeper that steps into the goal and over the goal line while the ball is in play to strike an opponent who is caught in the goal net due to momentum. The previous restart would have been a dropped ball. It seems the new restart is now an indirect free kick at the point of the ball. Correct?

2. A player on the field of play is guilty of violent conduct while the ball is in play against a substitute or substituted player. I find an answer (AIG 08; FIFA LOTG 2009) as an indirect free kick… but for whom? Chronologically the substitute or substituted player has entered the field of play illegally (caution; unsporting conduct) before the player misconduct which would be an indirect free kick for (and sent off) for violent conduct with and indirect free kick awarded to the opposing team. Pulled in both directions.

USSF answer (September 15, 2008):
Considering the amendments to and revision of the Laws of the Game for 2008/2009, you may have a point here.

In the first scenario, the IFAB has now made it clear that referees have to decide if the player left the field for the purpose of committing the misconduct or whether the player left the field (or was ordered off — blood, equipment — or was given permission to be off) for some other reason and happened to commit misconduct while off the field. Indirect free kick for the former, dropped ball for the latter.

In the second scenario, the change in emphasis occurred at the same time as the change in restart. After declaring that the restart for an illegal entry by a substitute or substituted player was indirect free kick rather than dropped ball, the Board made it clear that restarting for the illegal entry was the referee’s only choice — i. e., it didn’t matter what the substitute/substituted player did while on the field illegally or what a player did to the substitute or substituted player who was on the field illegally, the restart would still be the indirect free kick for the illegal entry.…


The word TACKLE is used variously in soccer coaching material, in general speaking and in referee laws and instructions.

It’s used by TV commentators to describe a player sliding to kick a ball out of bounds without an opponent being in close proximity.

Coaches teach a ‘block tackle’ which is often no more than a front-to-front confrontation that doesn’t touch the ball. Referees say a kick of the ball made by reaching between the legs of an opponent from behind, without touching the opponent, is a ‘poke’ while a reach in front of a player to drive the ball away is a ‘tackle.’ In relaxed conversation a tackle has to touch the ball – or not.

It’s all a bit confusing. Is there a standard description for the word TACKLE that applies to the Laws of the Game?

(I’m still unsatisfied with the MAKER of a throw-in being the TAKER of the throw-in and not the one taking it on foot, head or chest.)

USSF answer (July 29, 2008):
In the less-complicated world of the Laws of the Game and refereeing — in contrast to the complicated and overly-esoteric scientific world of the coach — a tackle is any play with the foot for a ball under the control of the opponent, whether the player contacts the ball with the foot or not. This includes “pokes,” “block tackles” or whatever other term the coach(es) may use. In all events, a “tackle” is not limited to “sliding”; a sliding tackle is simply a tackle performed in a particular way.

In addition, there is something in the Laws for 2008/2009 that applies to both “tackle” and “charge” (Law 12). Both terms refer to actions that occur many times during the game without violating the Law — they only become an offense if either is performed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force.…