Question about awarding an “assist” on a goal. If player A (from midfield, let’s say) makes a nice but short through-pass that sends Player B (a striker, let’s say) on a breakaway, and Player B has to take several touches to dribble close to the goal, and perhaps even has to evade a defender rushing back to tackle him, and Player B dribbles close to the net and scores, does player A get an assist for that?

I guess in a way, my question is, does player B have to immediately strike, volley, or head a ball into the goal for player A to get an assist?

Mind you, we don’t keep these stats. But the kids talk about it a lot, and I’m just curious to know the official answer.

Answer (October 20, 2014):
Assists are a totally unnecessary and worthless statistic, added to the list of other unnecessary statistics developed by sports statisticians (also generally unnecessary) to make their work seem important.

Here are three sources of information:
Definition: The pass or passes which immediately precede a goal; a maximum of two assists can be credited for one goal.

The general rule of thumb seems to be that no more than two players may be credited with assists on a goal and that the person geting the assist has some immediate “input” in the goal. I.e., the situation you posit would not qualify for an assist.

The only statistics that truly matter for a team are wins, losses, draws, goals scored, and goals against. Assists are pure vanity. (Strangely enough, no one seems to keep such statistics for own goals. If they did that, then the team scored against would have more depressing and useless statistics to show off.)


I was watching a clip of a professional men’s match when the following occurred. Team A attacked Team B’s goal, and missed, with the ball being shot into the hands of team B’s goalkeeper. The team A shooter’s momentum carried him off the field of play to the right of team B’s goal.

Team B’s ‘keeper carried the ball out to about his 12 yard line and put the ball down to kick it upfield, whereupon the team A shooter who had left the field of play “snuck” up behind the ‘keeper, and stole the ball, dribbled once, and scored. The goal stood.

My question is related to whether or not the scorer was eligible to even re-enter the field of play without the referee’s permission.

Clearly, his leaving the field of play resulted in a tactical advantage, although he did not originally leave the field intentionally. Does the goal count?

USSF answer (January 16, 2012):
Because the shooter left the field during the course of play through his momentum, he does not need the permission of the referee to return to the field. The goalkeeper was “punished” for his lack of shortsightedness in losing track of where the opposing player was. Score the goal.


If an attacking team shoots a shot on goal against the defending team and the ball bounces off the top goal post and straight down, clearly going over the line, but then spins back out of the goal and the AR signals that a goal has occurred, but the Referee yells play on because he either doesn’t believe it was a goal or didn’t look at the AR then what should the AR do in that situation if he is sure it was a goal but has not been acknowledged by the referee or fears the referee may be overruling him incorrectly and play continues?

USSF answer (October 6, 2011):
If the referee does his (or her) job correctly and the AR does his (or her) job correctly, there should have been no problem in awarding the goal immediately, provided they used the information supplied in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials.”

The referee’s job is to check visually with the AR and ensure that his view of the AR is maintained long enough to see a signal for a goal in cases where the ball is being played close to the goal and may have briefly but fully entered the goal. The AR’s job, if the ball briefly but fully enters the goal and is continuing to be played (and the referee’s view of the situation was obscured), is to raise the flag vertically to get the refereeā€™s attention and then, after the referee stops play, to put flag straight down and follow the prescribed procedures for a goal (see the Guide). You do not tell us how you signalled the goal, but might it have been counter to the guidance given in the Guide to Procedures?

If the referee and the AR do not use the correct procedure and play continues, the AR’s next job is to get the information to the referee as quickly as possible. We certainly hope that the referee and the ARs discussed a suitable procedure for such events during their pregame conference. One way to do this would be to stand at attention at the goal line and not move with play; when the referee realizes that the AR is not moving with play, then he should stop the game and speak with the AR


The ball is shot, the keeper fumbles it, but vision of the goal line is not clear. I look to my AR to see if the ball crossed the line, and instead the AR gives different flag signals that are confusing(such as pointing to the attacking side and pointing at the goal) (and also she did not give the signal for the goal, which is to run back to the center with flag down). The keeper punted the ball before I could ask my AR what she meant and I waited until the ball went out of play (about 45 seconds) to stop play. Then I ran over to my AR and asked her if the ball crossed the line and she said yes. She confirmed the goal and I counted the goal (also the team that scored was already winning if that plays a part, after the goal it was 2-0).

I know the AR messed up the call but would you stop play right there if the ball is already in play to confirm or wait until it went out of bounds, or would you have continued to allow play to go on and not count the goal and not consult the AR. Also it was for the recreational championship.

USSF answer (May 13, 2011):
Because the ball was never out of play, it is theoretically legitimate to award the goal after so much time has passed; however, this is not something that the referee should allow to become common practice.

One way of doing that is to use the pregame conference to ensure that your ARs know what signals to use to indicate a goal, ball over the line and back into the field, etc. This information is taught in the entry-level course, but many instructors fail to follow up classroom instruction with practical work, so the less-experienced AR may not remember. If you do not know your AR and have never worked with him or her before, make use of the pregame conference to remind both ARs what signals you want to see in such tough situations.


Offside “after” a goal is scored? I know, strange title. Here is the scenario. Player A takes a shot on goal while Player B is in an offside position. The ball is on frame and appears to enter the goal and completely cross the goal-line when Player B heads the ball the rest of the way into the back of the net.

Goalkeeper nor any defenders reacted in any way to Player B so it appears that he did not affect the play. Since a goal was already scored when player B played the ball, is offside called?

In this case, Player A and B have names: Christiano Ronaldo and Nani.
You can see a clip of the play here:

USSF answer (November 20 2010):
We cannot debate the results of a referee’s decision-making process at this level. That is a matter to be resolved between the referee and his/her match inspector.

No matter how it may look to us or the players, a goal is not scored until the referee says it is scored. There was a similar occurrence earlier this year at the World Cup, when the ball kicked by Frank Lampard of England clearly bounced well inside the goal and was then swept out by the German goalkeeper. We all know it was a goal, but if the referee disagrees, life is hard.

Lampard vs. Germany

With those conditions stipulated, we can say with a high degree of assurance that, if the contact with the ball is not made until after the ball has entirely crossed the goal line into the net and if there is no issue of interfering with an opponent prior to the ball entering the net, there cannot be an offside violation. In short, there is no offside violation after a goal is scored.


With time running out in the 2nd half and the home team down by a goal, a corner kick is taken by the home team and the ball bounces off of a player and then a home team player heads it into the goal. The CR signals the goal scored and then blows a long whistle signaling the end of the game.

The home team players celebrate and walks off the field and the visiting players also walk off the field. As the teams get ready to exchange post-game handshake, refs approach both coaches and reverses the last goal as a ‘no goal’ citing an offside violation against a home team scorer and declares the visiting team as winner by a goal.

Can the refs reverse call(s) or non-call(s) made during the game after officially ending the game? If so, then is there a time limit or restriction on what type of calls or non-calls can be reversed?

USSF answer (October 4, 2010):
Law 5 (The Referee) tells us:

Decisions of the Referee
The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final.
The referee may only change a decision on realizing 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. [Emphasis added.]

Since the referee had terminated the match, the goal decision has to stand and the decision to change it was in error (as well as protestable, because the referee “set aside a Law of the Game”). After including full details in the match report and submitting it to the appropriate authorities, all that remains is for the referee to either learn from this or turn in his badge.


In order to play there are X number of players and a specifically appointed goalkeeper. This is a two part question. If the goalkeeper is injured does play stop? If the keeper is injured for a period of time and play is continuing does the goal count if it crosses the goal line?

USSF answer (July 29, 2010):
A two-part question gets a two-part answer.

1. Play is stopped only if, in the opinion of the referee, the player is seriously injured. That includes all players, whether field player or goalkeeper.

2. If the goalkeeper is not, in the opinion of the referee, seriously injured and play continues, a goal would be counted if the whole of the ball completely crosses the entire goal line between the goalposts and beneath the crossbar.


in a recent high school game. the ball was kicked before time expired but enter the goal after time had expired. it was a 2 man ref. system. I was not the head ref. so i had look to the main for help. He counted the goal saying its like “basketball” once its kicked b4 time expires it counts.

do you happen to know the if this answer is correct? i thought as time expires, the game ends no matter where the ball is.

USSF answer (April 7, 2009):
We don’t do high school rules here, but under the Laws of the Game you are absolutely correct: No goal, as time had expired. Soccer is not like basketball in that regard. And high school rules are the same as the Laws of the Game with respect to when time expires.


I have a question about whether there is such a thing as referee interference.

My daughter scored her team’s third goal, just before halftime, in what turned out to be a very one sided game. The referee said that it didn’t count because he blocked the goalie’s view. And if that weren’t bad enough, he gave the other team a goal kick!

I know that a referee in American Football (NFL) as well as an umpire in baseball are considered part of the field. I would assume that the same would be true for soccer. I’ve never heard of a goal being disallowed because the referee was in the wrong place, and especially can’t understand why he would turn the ball over to the other team for a goal kick when my daughter was in control of the ball, and taking a shot on goal when she committed the supposed infraction.

My daughter feels confused and cheated of her goal. I am trying to explain the situation to her and am not sure what to say. I assume that since it was such an obviously one sided game, that he felt bad for the other team and tried to keep the game close. With the final score being 5-0 my daughter’s non-goal did not have an effect on the outcome of the game, but I feel she deserves an explanation of what occurred. Was this overturned goal an act of sympathy on the part of the referee towards an overmatched team, or is this an actual rule that she will encounter in her future games?

Thank you for your help

USSF answer (November 5, 2008):
It is likely that your daughter will encounter this “rule” only if this extremely ill-informed referee is assigned to one of her games again. We often rail here against “inventive” referees, but this person carries the concept of inventiveness a bit far.

Yes, the referee is considered to be part of the field. No, the referee should not have taken away the goal and should certainly NOT have awarded a goal kick for this totally imaginary offense. Your daughter was cheated. If you will tell us privately in what state. league, at which field and on what date and time this occurred (and the referee’s name, if possible), we will ensure that your complaint is raised with the appropriate referee authorities.

We think — who can “know” in a situation like this? — we have figured out why the referee didn’t “call” an offense against your daughter (she should be consoled that nothing here was HER fault). Instead, he disallowed a goal (for an inventive reason) but then took it to the next logical step — the ball left the field, not counted as a goal, last touched by an attacker — ergo, goal kick.


During a recent U-11 girls soccer game, our goalie was positioned on the goal line when she caught and maintained the ball at chest level. However, within a second or two of catching the ball, she took one step backwards to regain her balance but continued to maintain her hold on the ball. No one thought anything of it, the goalie came out of the box to punt the ball, the other teams parents did not react to this in any negative way, nor did the center (main) ref question that pay continue. However, the side line ref called raised his flag saying that the goalie crossed the line, therefore it counts as a goal for the other team, even though she maintained possession of the ball.

I am seriously confused by this. Numerous times we see professional goalie catch the ball within their goal box and behind their line and it is NOT counted as a goal. The only specific rules I can find are Law 10 that says the ball must completely cross over the line, but no where does it define whether a goal can be made if it is caught prior to crossing the line but if a goal takes a step backwards after the catch is made.

Could you please tell me if there have been any clarifications to this rule or previous precedents set that would clarify this?

USSF answer (October 3, 2008):
Law 10 (The Method of Scoring) tells us:
Goal Scored
A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no infringement of the Laws of the Game has been committed previously by the team scoring the goal.

This means that any time the ball, while still in play, completely crosses the goal line between the goalposts and beneath the crossbar, a goal is scored. It makes no difference if the ball goes there from a shot, a deflection, or is carried there by the goalkeeper. Conversely, no goal is scored if only the goalkeeper and not the entire ball crosses the goal line.