Today I was playing in a game it was roughly the 50th minute. I had been in my opinion fouled outside the box I was minorly injured on the play so I stayed down for a few seconds then the ref came over to me as I was trying to get up and resume play he told me “You should pull your shinguards up” in an agressive tone as I was trying to get up and keep playing I told him to “Shut Up” and I was immediatley shown the red card and I had had no previous infringement the rest of the game prior to that. What would be the referee’s correct action?

Answer (October 2, 2007):
This is a trick question, right? You are pulling our leg on this one, right?

Let’s get two things straight from the start: (1) The only opinion that counts in this game is that of the referee. If he believed that you had been fouled, he would likely have called it. In this case he chose not to believe that. (2) The referee’s primary job in the game is to protect the players, especially from physical injury, but in some cases also from psychological injury. It would seem that the referee discerned that you were suffering from a temporary mental problem and he chose to remind you that your health comes first.

As to the punishment: What you did is called using “offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures,” and it is indeed a send-off offense. By your attitude, from which he was trying to protect you in the first place, you forced him to send you off. Please remember this in the future.…


I am hoping that you can clarify an issue for me: Impeding the progress of an opponent is noted in Law 12 as a foul awarded an IFK. In the ‘Additional Instruction for Referees’ in the back of the Laws of the Game (p61 of the USSF 2006/2007 edition) under the heading of ‘Screening the Ball’ it is noted that a DFK is awarded if a player prevents an opponent from challenging for the ball by illegal use of the hands, arms, legs or body. I am confused what the distinction would be between a ‘impeding’ call (IFK) and the ‘illegal screening’ call (DFK). Can you help?

Answer (September 27, 2007):
There is no difference at all. “Illegal screening” and “impeding” are one and the same thing. are referring to a player who holds an opponent. Holding can be done with the arms, legs, or body.

Under normal circumstances, “impeding” means that there was no physical contact. When physical contact occurs, which is what the “Additional Instructions” meant when it referred to “illegal use of the hands, arms, legs or body,” the foul has been converted into “holding” and is punished with a direct free kick. The Additional Instructions of 2006/2007 are now outdated, by the way, by the 2007/2008 Laws of the Game.…


Last sunday’s USA v Brazil, Eric Wynalda pointed out many things regarding the rules of the game. One in particular was that if you are shielding the ball, you have the right to push back into a defender who is standing behind you. My question is: do you? And I suspect the answer is depends on whether you make contact only or push back so hard the defender loses footing…

Answer (September 14, 2007):
In one sense Mr. Wynalda is correct — as long as you have and keep the ball at your feet (within playing distance), you could move backwards even if this puts you in contact with an opponent behind you. Where you would get into trouble is if you did this but, in the process, left the ball outside of playability.

All viewers of games and television broadcasts would do well to remember that some players and broadcasters tend to make up their own rules as they go along. After all, if you make your own rules you are never wrong, and that is Rule One for both players and sportscasters.

And in a follow-on question, the referee asked additionally:
ok, you make contact, fine, no foul (I have nevr called a foul at this point), but then you keep digging in and pushing back hard, and then the defender is pushing you forward, but your feet continue to hold…, seems to me that whomever dumps the other player causes a foul… what do you think? (had the exact scenatio today in a regional youth league. no one ever fell, the ball got kicked by a teamate….

Answer (September 17, 2007):
While the player may move backwards with the ball, he or she may not push the opponent out of the way. A player in a position, attempting to play the ball, may only be charged fairly.…


In a youth soccer match, a player from Team A is cautioned and leaves the field for a substitute. He immediately desires to return to the game and goes to the halfway line to await the next substitution opportunity. During subsequent play the ball crosses the touch line. Thinking that it is now a substitution opportunity for Team A, the assistant referee raises his flag to signal substitution. Prior to being beckoned by the center referee, the substitute runs onto the field. The throw-in has been awarded by the referee to Team B. Team B takes the throw-in. With the ball back in play, the center referee notices that there are now 12 men on the field. He stops play and issues a caution to the player who left the field after he stopped play rather than the substitute. Is this correct procedure?

Answer (September 14, 2007):
This is one of those problems that could be fixed easily if the officials would only pay a bit more attention to their responsibilities and communicate better with one another. In fact, because of the officials’ errors, both players should be cautioned: the player who was on the field left without the referee’s permission and the substitute who came in entered the field without the referee’s permission.

However, a grain of intelligence might force the referee to use common sense to caution neither player and simply have them resume their original places and then conduct the substitution correctly.…


Suppose a team begins engaging in persistent and organized misconduct. At every stoppage in play the team delays the restart by either picking up or kicking away the ball. Obviously, players engaging in delay should be cautioned, but this team is sophisticated enough to ensure that only players who have not yet been cautioned cause the delay. It is further complicated because it is a youth match with free substitution (and a deep bench) so that the pattern can continue for quite some time before players begin being sent-off for a second caution.

One local (and highly respected) referee suggests that upon recognizing the pattern of persistent/team misconduct, the referee can immediately issue two cautions to the next player who delays a restart (and send him off) — the first caution for the delay and the second for persistent infringement — thus thwarting the organized misconduct. I disagree, and I base my disagreement on the idea that you can ever punish the same player twice for the same offense. Respected Referee, however, counters that the second caution is not really given to the player, but rather “to the team” for their persistent infringement. I cannot find any support at all for cautions being issued “to the team.”

Any advice?

Answer (September 13, 2007):
There is no such thing as a “team caution” under the Laws of the Game. It is certainly possible to caution any player who participates in misconduct. Howwever, it is not clear that if there is a pattern of infringement, such as the pattern of delay you suggest, the referee could also apply the principle of persistent infringement as outlined in the Laws of the Game under Additional Instructions and Guidelines for Referees:
Persistent infringement
Referees should be alert at all times to players who persistently infringe the Laws. In particular, they must be aware that even if a player commits a number of different offenses, he must still be cautioned for persistently infringing the Laws.

There is no specific number of infringements which constitutes “persistence” or the presence of a pattern — this is entirely a matter of judgement and must be reached in the context of effective game management.

In the situation you and “Respected Referee” have discussed, it is not clear that the referee can apply the principle of persistent infringement.

However, as a pattern appears, the referee could certainly take the opportunity at one of the stoppages for misconduct and speak to the team captain or coach or both, stating that if this pattern continues, the referee will expel the coach for irresponsible behavior. If the pattern continues beyond that stage, the referee can then terminate the game. In all cases, the referee must include full details in the match report.…


I attended a U13 Class 3 boys game today and an attacker in a break-away with only the goalkeeper between him and the goal appeared to yell something like “HAH!” while pressing his attack. It was not clear if this yell was an attempt to distract the opponent. He beat the goal keeper and scored the goal but the referee blew his whistle, denied the goal and gave the attacker a yellow card for unsporting behavior. I can find no literature to support the finding of unsporting behavior in this circumstance. Also after the call there were many who thought it was the goalkeeper who had yelled this. Either way is there any support for this type of behavior being classified as unsporting behavior?

Answer (September 12, 2007):
Yes, yelling at an opponent is traditionally considered to be unsporting behavior. However, in this case there is no clear indication here that the yell was directed at the goalkeeper (or at the attacker).

In the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” you will find these citations:
– Commits an act which, in the opinion of the referee, shows a lack of respect for the game (e.g., aggressive attitude, inflammatory behavior, or taunting). (Better known as “bringing the game into disrepute.”)
– Verbally distracts an opponent during play or at a restart

Either could include yelling. However, we also need to remember that under the Laws of the Game the attacking team is entitled to somewhat more lenience that the defending team in this regard. Unless the yelling is clearly intended to distract the opponent, such as a goalkeeper yelling at the player about to take the penalty kick, it is usually considered trifling.

With regard to yelling as a form of misconduct, the referee is obliged to be satisfied that the shouting was indeed intended to distract and in fact had the effect of distracting the opponent. The referee should look for some element of deception–i. e., performing the shout from out of sight or very close (to startle), deceiving an opponent as to the shouter’s identity (to obfuscate the status as an opponent), etc.…


Here is the situation. Red team is attacking and makes a long pass, Blue defender runs toward the ball and calls out “Mine” and then clears the ball up field. The Center blows the whistle and awards an indirect free kick to the Red attacking team. This type of play happens again during the game where the Blue defender calls out that he has the ball, “I got it.” The Center again awards an indirect free kick to the attacking team. After the game the Blue coach questioned the calls and was told, “The defender was using trickery which impeded the progress of the Red players playing the ball”. Is there some new rule that I am unaware of or some old rule that I don’t understand the interpretation of?

Answer (August 30, 2007):
No, the defender is not using “trickery,” “trickery” cannot be used to impede opponents, and there has been no change to the rules. Your referee has apparently misinterpreted the Laws — or someone misunderstood what he or she said.

(1) If a player is the only one near the ball and shouts “mine,” there is no infringement of the Law. It is only when a defending player actually deceives the attacking team that he or she would be punished with a caution for unsporting behavior and the attacking team would be awarded an indirect free kick from the place of the infringement.

(2) Players may only be impeded when an opponent prevents them from playing the ball by placing his/her body between them and the ball and the opponent is not within playing distance of the ball.

(3) The rule for shouting “mine” by defenders has always been there. However, attacking players are allowed to use this same sort of guile without being punished.…


I am having this discussion about futebol (soccer) from Portugal regarding deliberate trickery to circumvent Law 12 Decision 3.If a player receives the ball, lifts it to his head, chest or knee, then heads, chest or knees it back to the goalkeeper and gkeeper catches or touches the ball the ball.

Referee would then call an IFK, ball spotted at where infraction occurred, if inside the goal area it would come out to the 6 yard line, is this correct?

Answer (August 29, 2007):
When considering the possibility of trickery, the referee must decide if the action was natural (a normal sort of play, the sort of thing you would see in any sequence of play) or contrived (an artificial, unnatural play, which, in the referee’s opinion, is intended solely for the purpose of circumventing the Law and preventing the opponents from challenging for the ball).

The call is always in the opinion and at the discretion of the referee, who is the only person capable of making the judgment as to the nature of the kick. If there is any doubt in the referee’s mind as to the nature of the play, then common sense should prevail. Unless the referee believes plays like this to be trickery, there is no need to make a call.…


Defender makes a normal pass back to her goalkeeper, who is in the middle of the penalty area. The keeper goes to kick the ball downfield with an attacker moving in, but miskicks it and it goes straight up in the air, directly above the keeper and the attacker who are now standing in close proximity to each other. To prevent the taller attacker from directing a header at the empty net, the keeper jumps up and punches the ball away with her fist.Is this legal or does the fact that the ball got back to the keeper from her own defender mean that hands cannot be used after the keeper’s own miskick?

Answer (August 29, 2007):
Let’s apply common sense here. The goalkeeper is clearly not wasting time, but merely miskicked the ball. This is a trifling infringement that can be let go for the moment, keeping it in mind should similar infringements occur later.…


Without having the time to read all the archives, these questions have come up: 1. In normal play and not from a free kick, a teammate deliberately passes the ball back to his goalkeeper but it is over and over the GK’s head. In order to prevent an accidental own-goal, the GK handles the ball. Is this a DOGSO or an IFK for the opponent?2. A player completes a legal throw-in to a teammate who heads it back to their own GK. Is this trickery? I contend it is not but there are USSF instructors who insist it is.

3. When time is extended for the taking of a Penalty Kick, do players have to remain on the field or can all go to the team benches except for the kicker and GK? This is another I believe where players have to remain on the field because the ball is still in play but some USSF instructors claim all players but the kicker and keeper can leave.

USSF answer (June 18, 2007):
1. No, it is ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE for the goalkeeper to be sent off for denying an obvious goal or goalscoring opportunity to the opposing team by deliberately handling the ball in his/her own penalty area. It’s in the Law: 4. denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)

2. Read through this excerpt from the draft for the 2007 edition of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.” The only change is the addition of the note at the end.

A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he or she touches the ball with the hands directly after it has been deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate. The requirement that the ball be kicked means only that it has been played with the foot. The requirement that the ball be “kicked to” the goalkeeper means only that the play is to or toward a place where the keeper can legally handle the ball. The requirement that the ball be “deliberately kicked” means that the play on the ball is deliberate and does not include situations in which the ball has been, in the opinion of the referee, accidentally deflected or misdirected. The goalkeeper has infringed the Law by handling the ball after initially playing the ball in some other way (e.g., with the feet). This offense, like any other, may be ignored for the moment if it is trifling or doubtful (see Advice 5.6).

NOTE: (a) The goalkeeper is permitted to dribble into the penalty area and then pick up any ball played legally (not kicked deliberately to the goalkeeper or to a place where the goalkeeper can easily play it) by a teammate or played in any manner by an opponent. (b) This portion of the Law was written to help referees cope with timewasting tactics by teams, not to punish players who are playing within the Spirit of the Game.

A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 by touching the ball with the hands after receiving it directly from a throw-in taken by a teammate. The goalkeeper is considered to have received the ball directly by playing it in any way (for example, by dribbling the ball with the feet) before touching it with the hands. Referees should take care not to consider as trickery any sequence of play that offers a fair chance for opponents to challenge for the ball before it is handled by the goalkeeper from a throw-in.

NOTE: The goalkeeper may always handle the ball inside his own penalty area unless he/she: – Takes more than 6 seconds while controlling the ball with his/her hands before releasing it from possession
– Regains hand control prior to a touch by another player
– Touches ball with the hands after it comes directly from a throw-in or deliberate kick to the ‘keeper by a teammate

3. They must all remain on the field of play. No one is allowed to go to the bench area other than for medical attention. The ball is certainly not in play.…