Question 1: The big question that I have is referee uniforms. I have talked with many referees, and thought myself. Those new Adidas Referee Uniforms are very nice, and give the referee some class. Do you know if the next uniform will be these, and when will we change to our next kits. Please pass this on round the office.

Question 2: During a corner kick, before the ball was kicked a player was fouling another player by pushing her away, not allowing her to defend her own goal. I told them to stop, and it worked. But is there any special change as in it is a DFK to the defending team or does the restart remain the corner kick?

Answer (May 26, 2007):
1. The design of the referee uniform is determined by the USSF Board of Directors, not the referees and not the referee department.

2. Once play has been stopped for an infringement, the restart may not be changed for any misconduct that occurs before the restart.…


I was officiating a U-10 girls game. Team A performed the opening kickoff. Obviously, the team and their coach had discussed their strategy for taking the kick-off, but they failed on the execution and played the ball into touch. The coach, frustrated, yelled out, Jesus Christ!. It was loud enough for all players and fans to hear it. I gave him a verbal warning, but should I have done more? Is a religious profanity grounds for a send-off, or does it need to be a secular profanity? I assume I don’t need to provide examples.
USSF answer (May 14, 2007):
A player (or substitute or substituted player) who “uses offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures” is sent off and shown the red card. A coach may not be sent off and shown any card, but may be expelled from the game for irresponsible behavior, which using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures certainly is. The definition of such language or gestures is in the opinion of the referee, remembering that the important factor is the impact of the language on those participating in the match.…


First I’d like to thank you for providing answers to questions that I also observe while doing games.I have two questions, both involve action by the keeper.

1. The rule book still has a violation for the keeper “pairing” the ball, and then handling the ball. I have never seen this called in all the games I’ve done. I called this years ago on a U13 keeper, which caused the coach to go crazy, and after asking around the general response was that no one calls that anymore, even though it is still in the book. I was the AR at a U16 girls match the other night, when two attackers were moving toward the keeper, at the same time the ball had bounced and was at right in front of the keepers face. She took both fist and directed the ball out to the side, then followed the ball, and collected it with her hands. I saw that this took an advantage away from the attacking players, who could have headed the ball toward the goal, or if the keeper would have mishandled the ball, they would have had an easy shot on goal. When I asked the two adult refs during half-time about pairing the ball, they had never heard of this. Should I have raised my flag?

2. While doing a U17 girls match, which I was an AR, an attacker had control of the ball making a fast break to goal. One defender was chasing her shoulder to shoulder, and just before they reached the Penalty Area, the defender reached the ball and kicked it to the keeper, who picked the ball up. I raised my flag, but the center waved me down. At the time, I thought maybe he saw it different, and that the attacker, in his opinion, kicked the ball. At halftime he told me that I need to understand that the intentional pass back to the keeper was only put in the rules to stop delay of game, and that we don’t call this. I have called this myself and have seen other adult refs call this in the same situations. This center has been around for a long time and is an assessor. What is the right call?

USSF answer (May 10 2007):
1. By “parrying” the ball, i. e., pushing the ball with the hands to a place convenient for later play, the goalkeeper has established possession of the ball. Please remember: “Parry” = “possession.” If he or she handles the ball after parrying it, that constitutes an infringement of Law 12: “touches the ball again with his hands after it has been released from his possession and has not touched any other player.”

If the goalkeeper’s act is a parry, rather than simply a “fisting away” of the ball for defensive purposes, then the referee MUST call the foul and the AR, if he or she is the only one to see it, must flag the foul for the referee’s attention. Perhaps your “adult” colleagues should pay more attention to the Laws of the Game.

2. If the referee, in his or her infinite wisdom, chooses to wave off your flag, that is the referee’s problem. The statement attributed to the referee is partly correct: The change in the Law was made to eliminate time wasting and, if no time was wasted, the referee might choose to exercise his or her discretion in letting it go–i.e., decide that the offense was doubtful or trifling, but it is STILL an offense. However, situations in which this would apply are very few and far between.…

THE 4 Ds

I have some questions regarding DOGSO (Denying an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity). In US Soccer’s Advice to Referee’s, it states that there are four criteria that must be present for DOGSO.
1. Number of Defenders
2. Distance to the Goal
3. Distance to the Ball
4. Direction of PlayThe first element, number of players says that not more than one defender can be between the foul and the goal, not counting the player that committed the foul. It is possible to have defenders closer to the goal than the location of the foul. If those defenders are not directly between the foul and the goal should they be considered in criteria number one? Should we take the first element of DOGSO with a narrow view or should we look at it with a broader perspective? Should defenders that are closer to the goal than the foul always be counted for DOGSO or never be counted? Or should the referee make a judgement call?

Can a DOGSO foul be committed off the field of play when players leave the pitch temporarily during the natural course of the game? Also would defenders who left the field through the natural course of the game be in consideration for element one of DOGSO?

My next questions are also regarding DOGSO. Is a substitute or player that illegally enters the field considered a defender in determining criteria number one?

USSF answer (May 8, 2007):
With regard to the first question, the defenders to be counted are those who are actually able to defend (which is the underlying purpose of this D anyway). Likewise, the understanding of “between” or “closer than” is in the same context — is the defender able to defend? This is not an exercise in geometry, it is decision about whether there is more than one defender who is or would be able to interfere with the fouled player’s drive to the goal in such a way as to lessen the obviousness of the opportunity to score. Accordingly, a second defender lying on the ground in a straight line between the fouled attacker and the goal whose leg was broken would likely not be counted, whereas a defender just a yard away from the goal on the left far off the line the fouled attacker was taking from the right in his drive to the goal probably should be counted.

As for whether a defender off the field could do something that would cause him to be sent off under DGF/DGH, we suspect that a fitting scenario would be VERY, VERY RARE. However, consider the following sequence of events: B5 is ordered off the field to correct a bleeding problem. While off the field being attended to, B5 sees A20 attacking down the middle of the field just above the penalty area with no one at all between him and the goal (the keeper had come out but his challenge, which was unsuccessful, left him on the ground). B5 picks up an object and throws it onto the field. (A) It strikes the attacker who is startled/injured/thrown off his stride/etc. or (B) it strikes the ball and knocks it away from A20’s control. Wouldn’t (A) be DGF and (B) be DGH? We know from other situations that FIFA considers a thrown object an extension of the hand and we also know that merely inserting a body part onto the field is considered the functional equivalent of entering the field.…


Can a referee give a caution for persistent infringement (PI) in the following scenario: A team has decided to employ a tactic to commit small fouls against their opponents after a player has released the ball from his possession. For example, a clip at a heal, a late push, or something where the team is clearly trying to throw off their opponents and upset them by committing these “late” fouls. These fouls are spread out across the team (so not enough for a specific player to earn a caution for PI), and each foul by itself does not really warrant a caution for unsporting behavior (USB). However, if the group of fouls is looked at as a whole, it is clear this team is tactically employing these late, small fouls to frustrate and annoy their opponents and seems to be against the spirit of the game. When the referee has recognized this pattern, is he justified in giving a caution for PI to a player on that team (even if he was not involved in the earlier fouls)? Is this similar to the situation where a player can earn a caution for PI if the team is clearly targeting a single opposing player? Or would a caution given in this case fall under USB?USSF answer (May 2, 2007):
This is not a situation in which the case for persistent infringement has been made. It seems to be more of a situation in which the team has been coached to frustrate, annoy, and intimidate its opponents by these fouls. There is no consistency in the pattern of fouls, but there is a plan to disrupt the opposing team’s flow of play through fouls, rather than through fair play. That is a matter for referee management of the game, but not immediately one of misconduct. The referee should call and and punish the fouls and warn players about these individual fouls. If the players who have fouled before and been warned for it then continue to foul their opponents willy-nilly, this becomes persistent infringement and must be punished as such.…


There has been a great deal of debate on some web forums regarding the Red Bull New York v. Houston Dynamo game last Saturday. (4/21/07)From the wing, a player crossed the ball square into the area clearly on target to 2, unmarked, wide open strikers about 7-8 yards from goal. A player on Houston jumped up, while in the area, and grabbed the ball deliberately with 2 hands fouling up a certain goal scoring opportunity.

The debate has been whether or not he should have seen red, under UEFA standards he easily could have been, according to my understanding of USSF rules, he didn’t meet all of the so called “4 D’s” since the cross was definitively heading towards goal but rather square to goal.

Is this a proper reading of USSF standards or could the Houston player, in fact, have been shown red?

USSF answer (April 30, 2007):
We did not see the game and cannot tell from your description whether or not the conditions for denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity, and thus for sending off the evildoer, were met.

There is already a send-off offense for deliberate handling, number 4 under the seven send-off offenses: denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area). It does not require any particular alignment of players for either team, but simply the occurrence of the offense.

In your description of the incident, you appear to be applying criteria which are involved in a red card for offense #5, when in fact what occurred was offense #4. The “4 Ds” memo is specific in its terms — it is talking about offense #5 in connection with these conditions. The general rule of thumb in #4 violations is that the red card is justified only if (in the opinion of the referee), but for the handling offense (in this case, by the goalkeeper outside his PA), the ball would have gone into the net.

In addition, the terms of the USSF position paper of September 16, 2002, on “Obvious Goal-Scoring Opportunity Denied (The 4 Ds)” do not include any reason for a gratuitous caution for unsporting behavior where it is not merited. Nor is this true of any other document dealing with the correct application of the Laws of the Game.

The defender should have been cautioned for unsporting behavior (commission of a tactical foul that broke up attacking play), not for handling to prevent a goal, and play restarted with a penalty kick as the offense occurred inside the defender’s penalty area.

Please, let common sense prevail in the web fora.…


If a player kicks the ball and during the kick his footwear gets off and flies toward the goalkeeper distracting him from catching the ball is the game stopped or continues, or if a goal is scored is it allowed?USSF answer (April 23, 2007):
We answered similar questions in January 2005 and September 2003:

As defined in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” (Advice) and clear from the perspective of the Spirit of the Game, a foul is an unfair or unsafe action committed by a player against an opponent or the opposing team, on the field of play, while the ball is in play. (Advice 12.1) Although the loss of the shoe was inadvertent and accidental, it was also careless. A careless act of striking toward an opponent is punishable by a direct free kick for the opponent’s team, taken from the spot where the object (or fist) hit (or would have hit) its target (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8). Although the shooter wanted to play the ball when he kicked it and did not hit the goalkeeper with his shoe deliberately, he has still committed a foul. Direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team from the place where the shoe struck the goalkeeper (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).

The only difference would be that in your case the shoe did not hit the goalkeeper; however the effect and the decision are be the same. The goal is not scored; restart with a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team from the place where the shoe would have hit the goalkeeper.…


During a boys U10 game a boy continued to go after the ball, using his feet, even though he had fallen on the ground. The fallen player did not trip or impede the other player, but did still effect the ball. The ball was not in the box, but the offending player was. The referee called a penalty and awarded the other team a penalty kick. Questions: Is it a penalty for a player to play the ball if he is on the ground? If so is it a penalty punishable by a direct kick? If not, what should happen and is there anything that can be done with game already over?Finally this happened in the final minutes of a tied up game and therefore decided the outcome of the game, what should a coach of a young team do at the moment when they arenÕt sure about a call that affects the game like this?

USSF answer (April 23, 2007):
Here is what we teach ALL referees throughout the United States about playing dangerously. It comes from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.”

Playing “in a dangerous manner” can be called only if the act, in the opinion of the referee, meets three criteria: the action must be dangerous to someone (including the player committing the action), it was committed with an opponent close by, and the dangerous nature of the action caused this opponent to cease active play for the ball or to be otherwise disadvantaged by the attempt not to participate in the dangerous play. Merely committing a dangerous act is not, by itself, an offense (e.g., kicking high enough that the cleats show or attempting to play the ball while on the ground). Committing a dangerous act while an opponent is nearby is not, by itself, an offense. The act becomes an offense only when an opponent is adversely and unfairly affected, usually by the opponent ceasing to challenge for the ball in order to avoid receiving or causing injury as a direct result of the player’s act. Playing in a manner considered to be dangerous when only a teammate is nearby is not a foul. Remember that fouls may be committed only against opponents or the opposing team.

In judging a dangerous play offense, the referee must take into account the experience and skill level of the players. Opponents who are experienced and skilled may be more likely to accept the danger and play through. Younger players have neither the experience nor skill to judge the danger adequately and, in such cases, the referee should intervene on behalf of their safety. For example, playing with cleats up in a threatening or intimidating manner is more likely to be judged a dangerous play offense in youth matches, without regard to the reaction of opponents.

There is nothing illegal, by itself, about playing the ball while on the ground. It becomes the technical foul known as playing dangerously (“dangerous play”) only if the action unfairly takes away an opponent’s otherwise legal play of the ball (for players at the youth level, this definition is simplified even more as “playing in a manner considered to be dangerous to an opponent”). At minimum, this means that an opponent must be within the area of danger which the player has created.

If this is not the case (for example, the player had no opponent nearby), then there is no violation of the Law. If the referee decides that a dangerous play violation has occurred, the restart must be an indirect free kick where the play occurred (subject to the special rules that apply to restarts in the goal area).

By the way, even if a dangerous play violation has been called, the referee should never verbalize it as “playing on the ground” since there is no such foul in the Laws of the Game.

The coach of the team has no recourse in the matter of a judgment call by the referee, but may enter a protest only if the referee misapplies the Laws. If the referee awarded a penalty kick in the case you bring forward, that would be correct only if the player on the ground actually kicked or attempted to kick the opponent. If there was no contact or no attempt to kick, then there was no direct free kick foul, but the act might have constituted playing dangerously, for which an indirect free kick should have been awarded. If the incorrect free kick–indirect or penalty, as the case may be–was awarded, then there might be grounds for protest, but it could still come down to the referee’s ;judgment, rather than a matter of misapplication.

The game would be best served if the coach used the situation as a teaching tool for his or her team.…


Can you explain to me the proper ways to do slide tackles?My understanding is when the ball is controlled at the attackers feet, that there is no way to execute it without alot of luck.ÊLuck meaning the attacking player was not wiped out.——-The attacking player with the ballÊis going down almost all the timeÊfrom the defender executing the slide tackle. A foul (correct ?) even if the ball is struck first.——-The sliding leg of the defender has to be the one closest to the attacker with the ball ( approaching the attackerÊfrom the left side means the slide tackle from the defender has to slide with the right leg to strike ball) if this not down, a foul (correct ?)———–My understanding of the proper way, is the ball has to be a couple of feet (2-3) in front of the attacker with the ball, the defender still has to use the leg to strike the ball that is on the same side as the attacker, and if executed this way, there is no foul because the attacker has a chance of defensive moves from the tackle. The other way mentioned the attacker has no chance at all.ÊÊThe above examples are with players moving at full speed. This is explained how, so I can easily relay this to the appropriate people in our league.

USSF answer (April 17, 2007):
We have not responded to your question in the way you requested, but we think we have answered it in the only way possible. In brief, there is only one way to slide tackle– safely. And when it is not safe, it is almost always so unsafe as to require a red card for serious foul play.

The term “slide tackle” refers to an attempt to tackle the ball away from an opponent while sliding on the ground. A slide tackle is legal, provided it is performed legally. In other words, there is nothing illegal about a slide tackle by itself–no matter where it is done and no matter the direction from which it comes. Referees (and spectators) should not get hung up on the term “slide” tackling. There is nothing in our concern regarding endangering the safety of the opponent which limits this to a slide tackle. In fact, if, in the opinion of the referee, the tackle endangers the safety of the opponent, it makes no difference if there is contact or not.

FIFA emphasized in the past the great danger in slide tackles from behind because, if this tackle is not done perfectly, the potential for injury is so much greater. Nowadays, if the referee decides that the foul while tackling from any direction–from the front, the side, or the rear–was done in such a way as to endanger the safety of the opponent, the proper action is to send the violator off the field with a red card.

How can tackles become illegal? Two of the most common ways are by making contact with the opponent first (before contacting the ball) and by striking the opponent with a raised upper leg before, during, or after contacting the ball with the lower leg. Referees must be vigilant and firm in assessing any tackle, because the likely point of contact is the lower legs of the opponent and this is a particularly vulnerable area.

The referee must judge each situation of a tackle from any direction individually, weighing the guidelines published by FIFA and the U. S. Soccer Federation, the positions of the players, the way the tackler uses his/her foot or feet, the “temperature” of the game, the age/skill of the players, and the attitude of the players. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.

While one may (and should) sympathize with the injured player, soccer is a tough, competitive sport, and injuries can happen with no associated infringement of the Law. Players who act on the basis of the opposite presumption, abetted by like-minded spectators, do the sport no good.

For the sake of those who would punish any tackle, we ask that players and referees alike remember that it is not a foul if a sliding tackle is successful and the player whose ball was tackled away then falls over the tackler’s foot. It has to be in the opinion of the referee, but if the tackler accomplishes the objective of taking the ball safely and within the meaning of the Law, then it makes no difference if the player who was tackled then falls down. With a big “UNLESS”: if, in the referee’s opinion, the tackler has used excessive force, then the tackler should be sent off for serious foul play. Or, if the tackler makes the tackle and then lifts either the tackling foot or the other foot and trips the opponent, that is a foul. Simply because a player falls over the foot of the tackler is not a dangerous thing. It’s one of the breaks of the game.…


During course of play, a player from Team A slides into player from Team B and is hurt. Referee allows play to continue for 5 seconds until he determines that the player is not getting up. Team A has ball in their possession when Referee stops play and stops the clock. He calls out that Team A will re-start play with indirect kick from where they had the ball in their possession.The teams clear the field while the injured player is attended to. During break, Referee confers with Assistant Referee and determines that the injured player deserved a Yellow Card for sliding into the play with spikes up from behind. So, after the injured player is carried off the field, Referee goes to Team A’s bench and gives the player a Yellow Card.

Team A re-starts play with indirect free kick which is played behind Team B’s defense and Team A scores immediately.

Coach from Team B is upset. After the goal is scored but before the kick-off, he asks two questions of the Referee:
1) If you stop play for injury, shouldn’t the game have been re-started with drop ball? 2) If referee gave a yellow card to Team A, how could Team A restart play with indirect free kick? Shouldn’t Team B have received possession of ball at the point of the foul?

If Coach from Team B is correct on either of these points, is there anything that can be done or is it too late?

Referee determined that he may or may not have made an error but it didn’t matter because it was too late.

What is your opinion?

USSF answer (April 10, 2007):
If the referee was aware of the misconduct, applied advantage, and waited for the next stoppage (which happened to be the injury), the restart should have been a DB.

If the referee decides that the reason (determined after the fact) for the stoppage was NOT the injury but previously missed misconduct by Player A that had happened before the injury but which was brought to his attention ex post facto by the AR, then the proper restart should have been an IFK for team B.

If, as really should have been the case, the referee recognized that the misconduct was serious, then the card should have been red and the restart would still have been an IFK for team B.

If the referee had been totally on top of things and recognized that the red card misconduct was the result of a foul which endangered the safety of an opponent, then the restart should have been a DFK for team B.

There is no scenario here under The Laws of the Game which could result in an IFK for team A.…