a free kick from 25 yards, all players onside just after ball is kicked defenders step out leaving 2 attackers inside keeper parries shot to one of them he slots home? goal or offside….?

USSF answer August 28, 2011):
Score the goal. The key to the answer lies in two words in your scenario, “just after.” Because the two attackers were not in an offside position when their teammate played the ball, they cannot possibly be called offside.…


A player catches the ball between his knees and then does a somersault into the goal. The goalkeeper has no clear way to defend the goal. Is this legal?

USSF answer (August 24, 2011):
Players are not allowed to perform dangerous acts that deny other players a chance at the ball. (But similar acts that do not endanger other players (or officials) would seem to be legitimate.) If the act in question is reckless and places other players in danger, then the referee should stop play, caution for unsporting behavior, and restart with an indirect free kick for the goalkeeper’s team.…


Ball enters PA of Team A by a pass by Team B. Ball is stopped in PA by Team A goalie with feet who never touches ball with hands. How long can goalie possess ball at feet prior to picking it up for a punt? This happens a lot in our high school games and is inconsistently dealt with by referees. Some believe 6 seconds while some believe it is poor play. Most want the game restarted quickly.

USSF answer (June 2, 2011):
We do not answer questions on high school rules in this forum. If your question involved the Laws of the Game, then this would be our answer:
The game has not stopped and the ball is still in play. The goalkeeper may keep the ball at his or her feet and kick it around as much as he or she likes; there is no time limit. However, if the other team wants the ball, then they should move toward the goalkeeper and force him or her to pick it up, at which point the ‘keeper has six-seconds to punt or throw the ball away into general pay.…


In a recent viral video of a Conway AR high school match shows the center awarding a free kick to Conway and the Conway players setting up. Two players approach the area of the ball as if both are going to initiate the kick with one passing by the ball and then colliding with the other approaching player and both collapse on the ground while a third player initiates the kick. A score resulted.

Question is, has an offence been committed? My input would be yes that it is unsporting behavior in that the collision was set up as a distraction that is staged, much like a player taking an obvious dive after contacting a player of the opposing team. I can’t see the trickery rule applying because it only addresses playing the ball back to the keeper and trying to circumvent a law of the game. I believe the goal was awarded. Not that it matters to me being I have no interest or contact with any team in Arkanas. Just discussing it with some current officials on how we would have called it. I am a laspsed official (not one of the choices below)

USSF answer (May 19, 2011):
Ah, deceit, the mother of legal gamesmanship. The kicking team is allowed to engage in its little bit of deception at almost any restart. Provided that the players who collide don’t turn the event into a moaning, groaning, shrieking distraction, this was likely legal. Some playacting is certainly acceptable, but when an event is played to the hilt it could be seen as constituting either (a) exaggerating the seriousness of an injury or (b) the equivalent of shouting at an opponent to distract (either of which would be unsporting behavior). It all depends, of course, on the opinion of the referee, which would be based on how out of the ordinary the actions of these players were.

The Laws of the Game were not written to compensate for the mistakes of players, in this case the defending team that did not continue to pay attention to the subsequent kicker, the runner, and the ball itself.

CAVEAT: Please note that this is a high school game played under NFHS auspices, and not necessarily in accordance with the Laws of the Game. And the referee might be especially cunning and preempt any problems by stopping play for the “injury,” which occurred before the ball was in play, have the players attended to, and restart with original free kick.

A video clip of this incident may be seen at this URL:…


During check-in, I discover two players not listed on the team roster. I inform the coach that the two players cannot play. The coach goes nuts. I explain the league’s policy regarding this matter. the coach gets hotter. I walk away. This coach fields a team and the two ineligible players are on the field.

What do I do?
1. Start the game and after the ball moves forward, blow my whistle and red card the two ineligible players?
2. Have another discussion with the “hot” coach. If doesn’t comply, call the game.
3. Get the other coach involved. Discuss the situation. Start the game and report the incident in my game report.

USSF answer (April 28, 2011):
As long as the names of the substitutes are given to the referee prior to the start of the Game, the Laws of the Game are satisfied. However, in this case you are dealing with the rules of a competition (league, cup, tournament, etc.) . By accepting an assignment in this competition, you have agreed to enforce the rules of the competition. This is an unquestionable fact.

The solution to your problem is either clear and simple or very complicated:
(1) If there is a fixed roster for the season, then the two “players” not on the official team roster may not play under any circumstances. It makes no difference whether the coach chooses to play or not to play the game; those “players” cannot play. Whatever the outcome of the discussion, submit full details in the match report.
(2) If the roster changes from game to game, then it’s more complicated. In this case, if the two players have valid player passes for this team, then you should let them play. If they do not have valid player passes for this particular team, then follow the guidance in (1). In all cases, include full details in the match report.…



Recently, I witnessed a U12 goal scored by working the ball in from a corner kick along the end line. Two attackers worked together to advance the ball to goal right along the endline. One of the attackers was standing on the endline if not out of bounds and received a 10 foot pass from the other attacker about 10 feet from the end line. That attacker received the ball and then passed it in front of the net for a third player to finish for a goal. To me it seemed clear that the receiving player on the endline must have been offside since the defending team did not have players on the goal line or in the net, but did have defender marking the near post. Three licensed and paid coaches later said a single defender on the goalpost, let alone 2 defenders, automatically makes the whole field onside. They also suggested that it does not matter if the goalkeeper is moved forward and that it only matters where the last non-keeper defender happens to be. I can not find any information to verify what they have said.

Please help….

USSF answer (April 20, 2011):
Coach, we strongly hope you misunderstood these “licensed and paid” coaches, because if what you remember them saying is accurate, we are all in a lot of trouble and referees working games involving these coaches and any of their players will be in for major problems when they attempt to enforce the Laws of the Game correctly.

For starters, no player can be called offside directly from a corner kick. As we read it, in your situation the critical action occurred after the corner kick had already been taken, when an attacker who was 10 feet upfield from the goal line sent a pass to a teammate who was “standing on the endline if not out of bounds.” At the moment this pass occurred: “the defending team did not have players on the goal line or in the net, but did have defender marking the near post.” Unfortunately, this accounts for only one defender. If that was indeed the only defender between the attacker and the goal line, then clearly the attacker was in an offside position and made contact with the ball when he “received a 10 foot pass,” then there was an offside infringement.

However, your situation omits the goalkeeper. Where was the goalkeeper in all of this? Certainly, if the goalkeeper was well upfield from this “defender marking the near post,” then the offside call would have been correct. If you and the “licensed and paid” coaches are simply ignoring the goalkeeper and the ‘keeper was in fact on the goal line, then the attacker was NOT in an offside position and could not be called offside.

Warning to all coaches, players, and referees: Very few coaches, no matter how many certificates they may have earned, are as well aware of the Laws of the Game as they believe themselves to be. (Unfortunately, we must admit that this sometimes applies to referees as well.)…


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.…


Scenario: A three man crew is assigned to the match. Center official notifies the two AR’s by phone that he will be late to the match 15 minutes before scheduled kick off time. AR’s notify both coaches and both coaches want the game to start on time, therefore AR1 is now the center with AR2 on the line and no club AR for the other line. After 20 minutes, the center official show up and takes a flag and becomes the other AR. During a stoppage of play at about 25 minutes, the assigned center trades places with acting center.

Question: Is this approved procedure or should the acting center official remained the center official for the match?

USSF answer (March 8, 2011):
Whoa! Let’s back off here and look at the real problem. Coaches have no say as to who referees their game, at least not in the game played under the Laws of the Game and under the aegis of the U. S. Soccer Federation. Nor can they insist on starting the game immediately if an official is late in arriving, particularly if that official has notified his/her fellow officials and given an arrival time. The game can wait those 15 minutes.

However, if there is some rule of the competition that requires games to start NOW and not a minute later than NOW, the officials may then work precisely as in your scenario.

As to the question itself, the answer is no, this is not an approved procedure in higher-level competitive soccer. Once a referee has begun a game in higher-level play, he or she cannot be “substituted out” for another. However, the procedure might well work in lower-level play.…


In a match this past weekend, our team committed a foul resulting in a direct free for the opposing team (about 30 yards from goal). The winds were roughly 20-30 miles per hour that day. In this case, the wind was at the kicker’s back. Our boys set up a wall and the opposing player kicked the ball harmlessly over the crossbar. The referee blew his whistle and showed the kicker a yellow (I’m presuming for kicking when directed to wait, but that was not clarified). The referee had him kick it again. It did not score, but was a much more exciting and potentially costly attempt. My question is even though he was cautioned, should he be given another attempt or should we have been given a goal kick? If it is a “do over”, it may be a strategy to teach since it is only a yellow and the player reaps the benefit of judging the weight and reaction of the ball in the types of winds we were experiencing. Thanks for your advice!

USSF answer (February 1, 2011):
Coach, you don’t give us enough information to give a quick answer, leaving us to go three ways, although it appears alternative 1 was operative in this situation.
1. If the referee had told the kicking team to wait for his whistle (generally done by holding the whistle up and pointing to it) before taking the kick, then his action in cautioning the kicker and ordering a retake was correct.
2. If the referee had not instructed the kicking team to wait for the whistle, then the caution and the retake were not in order.
3. If the caution was for something NOT directly related to the taking of the kick, then alternative 2 may be misleading. It is also possible that the caution might have been for something else entirely unrelated (e. g., maybe the kicker committed dissent or used unsporting language — short of a red card), though we cannot imagine what it could be along these lines that it would have made it necessary to order the kick retaken. (For example, if the kicker had dissented, the referee could have given the card at the next stoppage.)

If you start coaching this, most referees will figure it out and simply go with the first kick (provided it misses the goal).…


On a corner kick, may offensive players start from a position inside the goal (beyond the goal line) and then run out (in front of the keeper or to other positions) as the ball is being kicked?

I recently saw this employed, where one offensive player began inside the goal, then ran out in front of the keeper as the ball was being kicked.

USSF answer (January 13, 2011):
Other than those putting the ball back into play, players are required to remain on the field of play. So no, the tactic you describe is not permitted.…