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.…


Over this last weekend there was an incident in England’s premiership where the referee and assistant referee awarded a goal when in fact there had been none. The referee facing the goal saw the ball zoom forward and get knocked away to the side. The assistant referee believed the ball had fully entered the goal and then been knocked away. The replay shows the ball never reached the goal.

The English FA ruled the awarded goal must stand because they have no authority under the laws to overrule a referee’s decision. This must mean that a referee may award a goal to a team and it cannot be undone as long as the referee stands by that decision. This is obviously absurd when you think of all the crazy things that can happen as a consequence of upholding a referee’s decision.

There is a limit to everyone’s power. Besides not assigning an errant referee to another game, what practical thing can a federation do to set aside a nefarious decision by a referee?

USSF answer (September 24, 2008):
Law 5 says it all:

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.


This happened in a U9 boys game.

Ball is shot to the goalie, who mishandles it. The ball bounces off of the post and rebounds toward middle of the goal. Before any part of the ball crosses the line the goalie dives on the ball. His momentum carries his legs into the box but NOT the ball (the ball never crosses the line). The referee says that it is a goal because the goalie is an extension of the ball and his legs went into the goal.

Was the referee correct?

USSF answer (September 15, 2008):
Inventive referees seem to be multiplying by leaps and bounds. No, there is no such rule and the referee was wrong to award a goal based on that reasoning.…


This is our son’s first year to play goalie, and in his last game there were some questionable calls. If a goalie dives on a ball, and when he lands on it his foot crosses the goal line, but the ball never does it that a goal? This happened twice during the game, and the refs called them goals.

USSF answer (September 15, 2008):
There are way too many inventive referees out there! This is the second question we have had this week on this topic and the answer is the same in all cases of this nature: It is not the location of the goalkeeper’s body, arms, or feet and legs that matters; it is the location of the ball. If the ball has completely crossed the entire width of the goal line, between the goal posts and beneath the crossbar, then it is a goal. Body parts are unrelated to the scoring of a goal.

You may flourish this response under the eyes of the next referee who does this.…


Here is my question, this occured during a U14 game. Team A keeper has possession of ball. As Team A keeper is punting the ball, Team A player (his own team) turns around and gets hit by the keepers kicked ball in the arm (visible direction change of ball) inside the penalty box. The ball rebounds off Team A players arm and directly into their own goal. Team B is awarded the goal.

Is this own goal accurate? The referee stated that he allowed the goal since he gave Team B the “advantage” for the handling of Team A in the penalty box. If the ball had not entered the goal, referee would of called handling on Team A player and awarded a penalty kick to Team B.

Did the referee properly apply advantage in this case? if advantage was properly applied by the ref, is properling the ball with the hand/arm a legal method of scoring in this case? Would this be any different if the keeper was actually performing a restart vice a punt, as in this case? As I understand that no team may score on themselves from a properly completed restart.

Thank you for your assistance in clarifying this.

USSF answer (April 15, 2008):
By your own description, the Team A player was “hit in the arm” by a kick from his goalkeeper. There was no attempt by the player to play the ball and likely could not have been, as he would have had very little time to react if he was just turning around. If the act was not deliberate, and your description tells us that it was not deliberate, then there is no infringement of the Law. If there was no infringement of the Law, then the advantage clause could not be applied. In addition, there would have been no reason for the referee to say anything but, “No foul! Play!”

The goal would be scored as an “own goal,” as the opposing team had no “hand” (pardon the pun) in it.…


Team A is awarded an IFK at the 12 yard line, and Team B sets up a wall just in front of their goalkeeper. Team A’s kicker hits a hard shot towards the upper corner of the net and a defender (not the goalkeeper) reflexively reaches up well above her head to deliberately deflect the shot over the top of the goal.

1. Can DOGSO be called in this situation, given that the goal would have been disallowed if the ball went directly into the goal?

2. Does the situation change if the defender who handled the ball was standing directly in front of the goalkeeper, who was reaching up for the ball and theoretically might have mishandled it – leading to a legal goal – had the defender not illegally handled the ball first?

My view is no DOGSO in either case, but I’m not certain. Thanks for your help.

USSF answer (April 3, 2008):
1. While the goal would have counted if the ball had entered the goal, the player did not prevent an obvious goalscoring opportunity, because, as you suggest, the goal would not have counted if the Team B player had not touched the ball. Caution for unsporting behavior and restart with a penalty kick for the Team A.

2. No the situation does not change.…


In a GU11 club game, defending team is whistled for a handball in the penalty area. Keeper drops her arms and the other
defenders slow down, attacker strikes the ball a second or two after the whistle and it goes into the net. Referee disallows the goal at first, then walks over to the near A/R and talks to him as the parents from the attacking team start yelling.

Referee signals for the kickoff and tells our coach that he should have called “advantage” and that was why he decided to allow the goal. The ref went on to say, “never replace a scored goal with a PK.”

I maintained that he misunderstood the LOTG, and once the whistle was
In a GU11 club game, defending team is whistled for a handball in the penalty area. Keeper drops her arms and the other defenders slow down, attacker strikes the ball a second or two after the whistle and it goes into the net. Referee disallows the goal at first, then walks over to the near A/R and talks to him as the parents from the attacking team start yelling. blown, play was dead, and a PK should have been awarded.

USSF answer (March 10, 2008):
O, those inventive (and chicken-hearted) referees!

You are correct. The referee cannot change his decision to stop play after having blown the whistle, no matter what input the assistant referee provided in their brief conference. No goal. Restart with the penalty kick.…


What does the phrase, “home-and-away tie has been drawn” mean? And what is the “Away goals rule?”

Answer (October 9, 2007):
1. The word “tie” is what is confusing you. In British English, the word “tie,” as used in soccer, means a match between teams, while the word “draw” means that a game has ended up “tied” in the American English sense of both teams having the same score. A “home-and–away tie” is an arrangement whereby one game is played at the home of Team A and the second game in the “tie” is played at the home of Team B. If this tie is “drawn,” then the rules of the competition may call for a tie-breaker procedure. That is where kicks from the penalty mark come in.

2. “Away goals” are those scored when the team is playing at the opponents’ field. Many competitions that require a winner of the game (or two games) count one away goal as worth two if the teams are tied/drawn in the sum of the scores of the “home-and-away tie.…


If a match is forfeited, how is the result posted and who if anyone gets credit for the goal or result? thanks

Answer (October 3, 2007):
Not sure what you mean by “posted,” but the competition authority (the people who run the league or cup, etc.) sets the number of goals awarded. No player gets credit for any of the goals awarded by the competition authority.…