Goal is scored in the closing seconds of the game. Referee sets up with a restart and blows the whistle for the match ending. As a referee exits the field the losing coach complains that that goal was scored after time had run out. The referee confers with this ARs and decide that he did play more than the allotted time.

Question is once a referee signals the end of the game, can he change facts.

Answer (March 30, 2014)
No, the referee cannot change the facts of the Game or his decisions once the game has been terminated (declared over). Law 5 is quite clear on this matter. Under Decisions of the Referee, the Law states:
The referee may only change a decision on realising 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.


A match was tied at the end of regulation time, and competition rules state that kicks from the penalty mark will be used to decide the winer of the match.

The scenario: Team A & Team B both have 11 players on the field prior to the start of the kicks. The coin toss resulted in Team A kicking first, then Team B kicking second. The first set of kicks resulted in a goal credited to both teams, which makes a preliminary score of 1-1 (pen.).

Now, in the second set, the second kicker for Team A is carrying a caution he received in the second half of the game. The referee signals for Team A’s kick to be taken. the kicker goes up for the kick, commits an act of unsporting behavior, and scores. The goalkeeper from Team B DID NOT infringe the laws of the game. The referee blows the whistle and issues a second yellow card, followed by the red card, to the player from Team A, the kicking team.

Now, there are a few points of discussion that arise from this scenario:
1) Since the kicking team infringed the laws of the game, and a goal was scored, should Team A’s kick be retaken as the next kick in the sequence?
2) If so, is the designated replacement kicker (who is presently on the field waiting in the center circle) from Team A considered to have kicked after he completes the retaken kick?


3) Does the offending player who was sent off get the credit for the penalty because he was the initial kicker for this kick in the sequence?

It is also my understanding that Team B does not have to “Reduce to Equate”, because the send-off for team A occured after the start of the kicks.

Answer (July 7, 2012):
Because the ball entered the goal (but cannot be scored as a “goal”), the kick must be retaken after the dismissed player has left the field and before anything else happens. Any teammate currently on the field who has not yet kicked in the kicks from the penalty mark may take the kick. Therefore, the player who was sent off does not and cannot be given credit for his “goal,” which would not count in any event.

No, the opposing team does not have to reduce to equate in this case; reduce to equate applies only before the kicks actually begin.


My child plays U8 soccer. There is no goal box, only a penalty area. When taking a goal kick, the ref insists the ball sit on the corner of the penalty area. The offense of a team we played either stood immediately in front of or rushed the ball while it was being kicked. For larger fields, the offense has to stay back because of the goal box being inside the penalty box. since they’re one in the same for us, can the offense stand immediately in front of the ball?

Answer (May 9, 2012):
According to USYS Rules for U8, there is no penalty area in U8 soccer; they use only a goal area, which has two lines drawn at right angles to the goal line three (3) yards from the inside each goalpost. These lines extend into the field of play for a distance of three (3) yards and are joined by a line drawn parallel with the goal line. The area bounded by these lines and the goal line is the goal area. The opponents must remain outside the goal area and at least four (4) yards from the ball until it is in play. There is absolutely no requirement that the kick must be taken from one of the corners of the goal area, just as there is no such requirement in adult soccer

One of our readers, Greg Brooks, supplied this useful information:

I thought I’d chime in on the U-8 question posted today. In a league
which I officiate, they allow the U-8 players to take goal kicks from
the edge of the penalty area instead of the goal box. I believe the
required minimum distance is 8 yards, so that should apply to those
goal kicks in such U-8 games, correct? I’ve never had a problem with
failure to maintain the required distance, but this gives me something
to think about.


Why would a referee for a U11 game eject a parent/spectator from the game for yelling “Communicate with your partner” to the referee. They never said hey ref, or anything, just stood up and yelled “Communicate with your partner”. This also lead to suspension of the next game for the spectator as well as being suspended from attending practices until the spectator attended a hearing which is complete BS in this league anyways. Where does one go to report this referee for abuse of his postion? I am guessing he violated some sort of code of conduct.

My answer (April 30, 2012):
No, there would not appear to have been any violation of any code of conduct, other than by the parent. This is NOT Little League baseball, for goodness’ sake. However, the referee would appear to have violated my rule of inverse stupidity: The less you know, the more you call.


Can you please expand on your April 4th answer? This has sparked a lot of discussion in the referee community on what constitutes control, or a mis-kick.

USSF answer (April 5, 2012):
Not sure why there should be any discussion at all. This matter is addressed in the entry-level referee training courses and there has been no change in policy or interpretation or guidelines: If the opponent who does not have the ball under control (i.e., clear possession and the ability to play the ball deliberately to a place to which he wishes it to go) misplays, misdirects, deflects or miskicks the ball, he has not affected the status of the player who was in the offside position when his teammate played the ball.

In any event, the decision is solely “in the opinion of the referee,” based on all the “facts and circumstances” of the event — all of which means that no formal, official, concrete definition is possible (or even desirable), only guidelines.


When a player is injured and the referee stops play for the injury, is it acceptable for a referee to touch and handle the player? This referee (adult) is not a medical proffesional, I asked him. He seems to want to do a full medical exam on both youth boys and girls as well as adults. This referee will grab the players knee or ankles which ever is injured and pull, twist and poke the injury. This referee does not allow the coach on the field until he has done this with the injured player. Many coaches and parents are becoming extremely concerned over this practice. This has happened at least 10 times in 2012.

To sum it up, I guess my question is: Are referees taught to do a medical exam of the injured player by touching/twisting of the injury? And are they allowed to do this?

USSF answer (March 13, 2012):
We are pleased once again to emphasize the following principles regarding referees and players (most particularly youth players).

First, unless specifically certified by a public authority to provide medical care (i.e., doctor, paramedic, nurse, EMT, etc. — a Boy Scout First Aid badge does not count), no referee should be rendering any medical care to anyone, under any circumstances, at any time. This is a matter of law, the details of which can differ from state to state and we cannot therefore be more specific than simply … don’t do it. If a referee is medically certified, then the laws of the state where the injury has occurred are usually clear as to the duties to render assistance of certified medical personnel and, if such assistance is provided, the provider ceases to be a referee and becomes at least momentarily a doctor, paramedic, nurse, EMT, etc. until that responsibility for care is handed over to someone who is medically more qualified.

Second, USSF does not and has never provided training regarding the care of player injuries beyond what The Laws of the Game require. That care is defined solely in terms of deciding if an injury has occurred and then whether it is not serious, is serious, or is severe, and then recognizing what actions are proper depending on the answer to that question. These decisions and actions are summarized by the following quotes from the Laws of the Game and their Interpretations:

Law 5, bullet point 8 under Powers and Duties:

The Referee
– stops the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured and ensures that he is removed from the field of play. An injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted.

Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidance for Referees (pp. 69-70):

Injured players
The referee must adhere to the following procedure when dealing with injured players:
• play is allowed to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in the opinion of the referee, only slightly injured
• play is stopped if, in the opinion of the referee, a player is seriously injured
• after questioning the injured player, the referee may authorise one, or at most two doctors, to enter the field of play to assess the injury and arrange the player’s safe and swift removal from the field of play
• stretcher-bearers should only enter the field of play with a stretcher following a signal from the referee
• the referee must ensure an injured player is safely removed from the field of play
• a player is not allowed to receive treatment on the field of play
• any player bleeding from a wound must leave the field of play. He may not return until the referee is satisfied that the bleeding has stopped. A player is not permitted to wear clothing with blood on it
• as soon as the referee has authorised the doctors to enter the field of play, the player must leave the field of play, either on a stretcher or on foot. If a player does not comply, he must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour
• an injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted
• when the ball is in play, an injured player must re-enter the field of play from the touch line. When the ball is out of play, the injured player may re-enter from any of the boundary lines
• irrespective of whether the ball is in play or not, only the referee is authorised to allow an injured player to re-enter the field of play
• the referee may give permission for an injured player to return to the field of play if an assistant referee or the fourth official verifies that the player is ready
• if play has not otherwise been stopped for another reason, or if an injury suffered by a player is not the result of a breach of the Laws of the Game, the referee must restart play with a dropped ball from the position of the ball when play was stopped, unless play was stopped inside the goal area, in which case the referee drops the ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was located when play was stopped
• the referee must allow for the full amount of time lost through injury to be played at the end of each period of play
• once the referee has decided to issue a card to a player who is injured and has to leave the field of play for treatment, the referee must issue the card before the player leaves the field of play

Exceptions to this ruling are to be made only when:
• a goalkeeper is injured
• a goalkeeper and an outfield player have collided and need immediate attention
• players from the same team have collided and need immediate attention
• a severe injury has occurred, e.g. swallowed tongue, concussion, broken leg
It seems pretty clear to me: If the referee considers an injury serious enough that someone is called into the field to treat it or see to the player, then the player must leave until the game has restarted, just as it says in the law.


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 a U-19 game today, a fight broke after the game was over. It was at least 8 players from each team. Is it ok for an AR to grab a kid in a head lock and drag him away from the fight?

USSF answer (March 5, 2012):
Under normal circumstances match officials should not touch any player for any reason other than to shake hands before the coin toss or after the game is over. Breaking up fights should normally be left to the teams themselves. In most cases the only justification for an official to “step in” (particularly if that term is meant to include touching or holding a player) is for self-protection … and only to the extent needed for self-protection and only for as long as self-protection is needed.


If a player is sent off (red card), he/she cannot play in their next game.

Question 1: if the referee does not include the send-off in the game report, or does not submit a game report, is the player still required to not play in their next game?

Question 2: It is VERY common for referees NOT to tell a youth player why (unsporting behavior, dissent, serious foul play, etc) a card is being displayed. When asked by the player or coach, the VERY common response is ‘I don’t have to tell you’. How are youth players to learn from a mistake when there is absolutely no reason given by the ‘professional offical’ as to what the mistake was? Are game reports accessible to coaches, players, and/or parents?

USSF answer (February 28, 2012):
1. Referees are expected to submit their match reports as quickly as possible, usually within 2-3 days of the game. If they do not do so, then technically the events described (or NOT described) therein did not occur — but see below.

Technicalities aside, realistically the game occurred: people were there; witnesses can be subpoenaed; the referee could be reminded of his report; the player who was red carded should, on his own initiative or by direction of his coach, sit out his team’s next regularly-scheduled match. All this should occur even without the actual filing of the referee’s report. An opposing coach could certainly note at the team’s next regularly-scheduled game that Player X should be sitting out and, if this is disputed on any basis (including the lack of a report from the referee), a complaint could be filed which would eventually trigger a demand upon the referee to get the requiredreport in. In real life, there are literally thousands of games that occur with no formal referee report going into a league or association office — of course, in most of these, nothing untoward has occurred, but no one has any problem accepting that there was a game, there was a score, and Team B won.

2. The referee is REQUIRED to tell a player that he or he has been cautioned or sent off for one of the seven reasons for either sort of misconduct.

They cannot refuse to tell this to the player and should be reported to refereeing authorities if they do so refuse. They are NOT required to tell the coach anything. In most states (we cannot speak for all of them) the reports are not available to non-refereeing or competition officials, but appropriate parties can be told of the contents regarding a specific person or incident.


After a substitute enters the field of play and trips an opponent from behind (blind side) the referee stopped play and showed the substitute the red card. He restarted with a IFK. At the end of the game while writing the report the referee is struggling with what reason to write for the red card for.

The LOTG states: A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits any of the following seven offenses:
• serious foul play
• violent conduct

The referee wants to go with SFP since the play wasn’t that violent to go with VC. But AR reminds him that ATR 12.33 says:
This does not include serious misconduct by substitutes, who should be punished for violent conduct if they commit an act as described in the first paragraph of this section. (See 12.34.)

My question, can the ATR trump what is very clearly stated in the LOTG?

Answer (February 10, 2012):
There is nothing in the Advice to Referees that recommends anything that is contrary to or “trumps” the Laws of the Game. The Laws of the Game always take precedence over anything in the Advice, as clearly stated in the introduction to the Advice. Your scenario is clear-cut and the same answers are in both publications.

First you must justify the nature of any misconduct committed by the substitute before you decide how to punish it. In your scenario the sub who enters the field and trips an opponent, but has not committed any act of a violent nature. Why would you send him off for serious foul play? A substitute cannot commit serious foul play. He can commit violent conduct, but your scenario does not include any act of violence. Therefore the information in Advice 12.33 is absolutely correct: The substitute MUST be cautioned for unsporting behavior (entering without permission), but not necessarily until he interferes with play, and the opponents awarded an indirect free kick from the place where the ball was when play was stopped. If the referee “needs” the second sanction for game management purposes, then he or she should caution the substitute for a second instance of unsporting behavior, tripping the opponent. If the trip from behind involved excessive force, then send the sub off for violent conduct.