I have Law 12 questions dealing with procedure to issuing cards. According to USSF the proper way to issue a card towards a player or substitute is IBC (Isolate, Book, and Card). However from watching MLS, EPL, La Liga etc, I see referees issuing cards first, then taking the time to write in the book.

I do issue cards by IBC, but only due to the fact that my assessor says “players are ready to restart and don’t want to wait for the booking IF I show the card first.”

1) What is the proper procedure in FIFA (international matches) to issueing cards?

2) Are the USSF/FIFA procedures similar? or does FIFA teach it differently.

3) When issuing Reds should the procedure be the same? IBC, or show the card, then book them?

Please give an indepth explaination.

USSF answer (April 12, 2009):
You must have watched far fewer games than we have, as your observation that the cards are issued immediately in all situations is, in fact, wrong, no matter what country you live or referee or watch TV in. Either that or selective memory has contributed to the assessor’s well-meant but misplaced advice.

Throughout the world there are two ways to administer the issuance of cards for misconduct. The first is the standard way: stop play, take names, write details of the incident and then show the card, together with an admonition to behave for those who have been cautioned. The second is used to immediately defuse difficult situations in which delay of the card could lead to even greater difficulties: That is to show the card immediately and then take down the details.

We suggest for your (and the assessor’s) further reading p. 38 of the Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials (2008-09).…


In a tournament this weekend I was told by the assessor that as AR I should be running all the way to the corner flag before signalling the goal kick. Stopping at the six and pointing toward the goal area was not enough. He called it just being lazy. On shots taken outside the eighteen, from midfield, even if 2LD was at midfield, he still wanted us to run to the corner flag before signalling. I understood this to be proper proceedure for a corner kick but had never heard of it for goal kicks.
The games I centered were confusing. The AR delaying signal until he got to the corner flag made me question whether he was calling goal kick or corner kick. Is this a new proceedure or just more creative refereeing?
All I could find in Guide to Procedures was to point toward goal area and nothing about running to corner flag. I want to use the correct procedure. Please advise.

USSF answer (December 2, 2008):
Lazy is as lazy does. The assessor’s advice is well intentioned but not entirely accurate or necessary. Of course the assistant referee should run all questionable balls the entire distance to the goal line. “Questionable balls” are those that are contested by players from both teams and could result in either a goal kick or a corner kick. However, when there is no question as to what the restart will be, and for whom, there is no need to continue all the way to the goal line. The top of the goal area is fine in most cases.…


Just looking for clarification of the Jersey Sleeves Rule.

I read the published paper from Nov 4, 2002 suspending the previous provision regarding jersey sleeves.

The reason I ask is that I had an Assessor tell me that I need to make sure all players have sleeves on their jerseys and that they keep them rolled down. Just so that I’m consistent with USSF, has there been anything new on this subject? And what should be the proper stance for referees on this matter?

USSF answer (November 21, 2008):
We are sure you misunderstood the assessor, because there is no rule that players must keep their sleeves rolled up. No assessor would ever make up anything like that.

The Law requires that jerseys must have sleeves, but if players wear jerseys without sleeves the referee must allow them to play and then include full details in the match report.…


Dear Sir(s), I was an AR in a recent game that was being assessed by a state-level assessor. While in proper position aligned with the second to last defender and monitoring for any offside infraction, the offense chipped the ball over the top of the defensive line that was playing in a flat-4 formation approximately 25 yards from goal. At the time the ball was played by the offensive player, his teammate was in an offside position and started to move towards the location where the chipped ball dropped in an effort to play the ball. There was also a second offensive player who was not in an offside position at the moment the ball was played who ran through in an effort to make a play on the ball. Normally such a situation would be a “wait and see” situation to determine offside. As the location where the ball dropped indicated (top of the penalty area) and taking into account the relative speed and distance between the defensive goalkeeper and the offensive player in the offside position, there appeared to be an imminent possibility of a collision between the goalkeeper who was charging out and the offensive player who was in the offside position. As instructed by the center referee in the pre-game, I raised my flag as a precautionary measure due to the pending collision with the goalkeeper before active involvement could be fully determined. The goalkeeper ultimately gained possession of the ball with his hands a split second before the player in the offside position was able to arrive at the ball and the player in the offside position did not become actively involved. As the AR, I stood at attention with the flag raised until the goalkeeper had obtained clear possession of the ball. The center referee did not see the offside flag and never acknowledged the situation. After the keeper obtained clear possession, I dropped the flag and moved on with the game assuming proper positioning for the ongoing play.

This seems like it was the right course of action based on the pre-game instructions and as described in the Guide to Procedures:

“If the referee misses the flag, [AR] stays at attention with the flag raised until the defense gains clear possession or until a goal kick or throw-in is awarded to the defense.” The problem I have is that in post-game discussion with the assessor, he indicated this procedure to be incorrect. This was a fairly complicated situation with many things happening at the same time, but he indicated that there can not be an “advantage” call on an offside infraction (which based on my understanding of the LOTG is a correct statement) and that as the AR in this situation, I should have stood at attention with the flag raised until acknowledged in one form or another (calling the offside infraction or waiving the flag down) by the center referee. Note, the assessor did not dispute the judgment of the initial flag raising to indicate the offside infraction.

Obviously this problem could have been mitigated if the center referee had looked over and made eye contact. Whereas I agree with the assessor’s general statement regarding advantage and offside, I do not believe this was a case of an AR inappropriately making an “advantage” call which is not within the scope of his authority, but rather simply following the instructions laid out by USSF for a missed flag.

Please advise on the appropriate mechanics for this scenario.

The second question that arises from this situation is in the eyes of USSF, does the pending goalkeeper collision decision trump the “wait and see” philosophy to determine active involvement when both determinations are required for the same play? The pending collision instruction seems to be a fairly common instruction given in many pre-games, but I can not actually find any reference to this in an official publication.

Thank you for your anticipated clarifications.

USSF answer (November 6, 2008):
If you have followed both the instructions of the referee — you don’t tell us what they were, but the fact that you followed them counts — and the guidance given in the Guide to Procedures, you have done all that any assistant referee should do in this situation. We are uncomfortable about the feedback given to you by the state assessor.…