LAWS OF THE GAME

Question:
1. A game was being played during hot weather. A player came to the sideline for a drink of water without leaving the field of play. As he was taking a drink the ball came his way and he took off dribbling the ball with water bottle (plastic) in hand.
Which Law has he broken?
Should the player be cautioned?
What would the restart be?

2. During a game the ball had been hit hard and was certainly going out of play with no players ever getting a chance of making it to the ball to stop it. As the ball headed towards a coach he put his foot on the ball to stop it from going way beyond the field of play. The problem is that the coach stopped the ball before it had gone out of play.
Has the coach entered the field illegally? And should he be cautioned as such? And a Free Kick awarded to the opposing team?
Is the coach treated as an “outside agent” in this instance and a drop ball used to restart play?
Or do we recognize it as a glaring error by the coach who had good intentions and award the throw as if the ball had gone out of bounds?

USSF answer (October 10, 2011):
1. As he had not left the field, the player committed no offense by playing the ball; however, by carrying the unauthorized bottle of water with him, he was playing in violation of the requirements of Law 4. If a player is discovered to be wearing (in this case “carrying”) unauthorized equipment during play, the referee need not stop play, but should immediately inform the player that the item in question must be removed from the field. The player must leave the field only if he is unable or unwilling to comply and could be cautioned if he willfully refuses to comply or, having been told to remove the item, is discovered to be carrying the item again.

2. No, the coach (or any other team official) is not regarded as an outside agent. Team officials are in a separate category under the Laws. (See the Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees in the back of the book.)

Despite the coach’s good intentions (keep this in mind), he has entered the field without the permission of the referee. Under the Laws of the Game coaches cannot and must not be cautioned or sent off and shown any card at all (unless the rules of the competition require it); however, they can be expelled for irresponsible behavior, one example of which is entering the field without permission. If, as in this case, we recognize the coach’s act as motivated by good intentions, rather than any base desire to aid his team (and his earlier actions in the game will provide a good gauge for this decision), the referee will stop play immediately, because the coach has interfered with play. If the coach’s behavior is irresponsible the referee must expel him from the field of play and its immediate surroundings. In this case, the referee will have a quiet word with the coach and restart play with a dropped ball in the position where the ball was at the time when the match was stopped.…

PLAYER UNIFORMS

Question:
It appears that during the ‘regular’ season there are only a handful of referees that still require a player’s shirt to be tucked in at the beginning of the match. Virtually all matches at higher levels do not seem to worry at all about this. I feel almost alone in this area – why do we still require this if so many (the majority) don’t give it a second thought?

USSF answer (April 5, 2011):

In the past custom, tradition, and safety required that players keep their shirts tucked in and their socks pulled up and generally maintain a professional appearance. However, nowadays the uniforms are cut differently by the manufacturers and the jerseys are clearly meant to be worn outside the shorts. It is time for us referees catch up with modern fashion and learn to live with it.…

QUESTIONS INVOLVING UNLIKELY SITUATIONS

Question:
1) The penalty taker slips while taking a penalty kicks the ball into the net with both feet.
a. if the kick with both feet is instantaneous, does the goal stand?
b. if the kick with both feet is perceivable seconds apart, does the
goal stand?
2) The player claims that a piece of jewelry he is wearing ( like a bracelet ) is important part of his religious belief. How can I as a referee decide whether that piece of jewelry is dangerous? What decision should I take as the player is protected by ‘ The race relations act’?
3) A striker a attempts ‘Hand of God’ and fails to connect but ends up distracting his marker and the goalkeeper. The ball hits the marker and rebounds of the striker (the wannabe maradona) past the distracted goal keeper into the goal. Should the goal stand?

USSF answer (August 28, 2011):
We hope this is not a question regarding high school rules, as we are not permitted to answer questions involving the rules of the NFSHSA.

1a. Yes, but only if the referee is certain that that the touch with both feet was indeed simultaneous.
1b. No, the player has committed a “double-touch” offense.
2. You make the decision on this piece of jewelry as you would with any other piece of equipment. Is it dangerous to the player or to any other participant? If it is dangerous and cannot be made safe, then the player cannot wear it. No ifs, ands, or buts.
3. Yes, the goal stands. There is no such infringement as “attempting to handle the ball.”…

RESCIND A GOAL BECAUSE OF LAW 4 VIOLATION? NO!

Question:
A. An illegally-equipped player scores a goal. The illegality is 1. jewelry; 2. no proper shinguards.

B. An improperly-equipped player scores a goal. The improper equipment is 1. proper shinguards worn on the side of or behind the calf rather than the front; 2. undergarments that are a different color from all the other players undergarments.

Obviously, A should be corrected during pregame inspection, but some referees are less diligent. With regards to B, sometimes players move their shinguards to the outside because they’re more worried about challenges from the side rather than straight on. The mis-colored shorts were rolled up during pregame and then fall down during play and are not discovered until after the goal is scored.

The equipment is pointed out before the restart of play. In all cases, does the goal count? Is the player cautioned? If so, how is this misconduct characterized in the report?

USSF answer (June 11, 2011):
The referee and other officials on a game are expected to maintain vigilance at all times for violations of the requirements all the Laws of the Game. In these cases (both of which we sincerely hope are hypothetical), the requirement of Law 5 for a complete inspection of the players prior to the game was not fully met. The requirement for players to wear proper equipment continues throughout the game; it does not stop after the initial pregame look-see.

The purpose of the game is to score goals. In these particular cases, the referee should first be concerned with whether or not the irregular/illegal equipment had an effect on the opposition. In other words, did it lead to the goals? If not, then the referee should allow the goal(s) and punish the infringements of Law 4 with a caution for unsporting behavior.…

THE REFEREE’S AUTHORITY TO INSPECT PLAYER EQUIPMENT

Question:
I have an interpretation question for you. First, let me give you the context; I was assessing a referee for upgrade (8 to 7) in a B-U18 match. In the 19th minute the referee noticed that one of the players was wearing two earrings which were either missed in the pre-match inspection or were added subsequently, and he correctly instructed him to leave the pitch.

As we discussed this after the match, I pointed out that there was another player (an opponent) who had his wrist taped and I asked if the referee had checked to see what it was covering. I was told by one of the AR’s that the League had directed their referees in their preseason meeting that they were not permitted to ask a player to remove a band-aid or tape to ascertain whether the band-aid or tape was covering an earring, etc.

According to this AR, they were specifically told that they could not ask a female player to remove a band-aid which covered her eyebrow even though they were confident that it was covering a stud. Apparently the league is concerned about some kind of liability.

This direction from the league is the source of my question. It is directly opposite of what I have always told referees as concerns gloves, hats, bandages, wraps, etc. I feel that not only do referees have the power to ask to see under such coverings to ascertain whether they are covering or hiding illegal or impermissible equipment, etc., but further, they have an obligation to do so. My belief is that if a player refuses to satisfy the referee by demonstrating that there is nothing unsafe or illegal under such coverings then s/he should not be allowed to participate in the match. I would appreciate your advice on this question. Thanks!

USSF answer (May 5, 2011):
No league may require a referee not to enforce the Laws of the Game to the fullest, particularly when it pertains to participant safety.

Under Law 4 (see Interpretations) covering items of jewelry is forbidden: “Using tape to cover jewelry is not acceptable.” If any covering (including but not limited to tape) is being used by a player in a place where such a covering is not normally expected and where jewelry is often found, the referee has an obligation to ensure that the player is not hiding illegal equipment and should approach the player in the same manner as would be used in any jewelry situation: “I need to see what is under the tape. You have the right to refuse but, under these circumstances, I have the obligation to not allow you to play.” Tape is, after all and by itself, “equipment” and, as such, needs to be inspected to ensure that it (or whatever is under it) is not dangerous.

Law 4 tells us:

Safety
A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewelry).

The referee is required by Law 5 to ensure that the players’ equipment meets the requirements of Law 4.

We provided the following answer on December 15, 2010, regarding jewelry:

“There is no “FIFA” definition of anything in the Laws. The definitions are all made by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the people who make the Laws, of which FIFA is a member. And they do not define jewelry for the simple reason that jewelry is jewelry, a decorative (usually) piece of adornment worn to enhance one’s beauty or to plug some product or cause. All jewelry is prohibited by the IFAB in Law 4, no matter what its appearance may be. Jewelry in any form is dangerous, which is why the IFAB has prohibited it; players’ hair or fingers may be caught and severely injured.

“Jewelry includes (but is not limited to) “team spirit” strings; beads of any sort (worn in hair or on strings or leather, etc.); any adornment (including watches) worn on the wrist; rings with crowns or projections; adornment worn along the upper or lower arm; earrings of any sort (including “starter” earrings)l tongue studs; any visible body piercing; rubber, leather, plastic or other “bands” worn in reference to some sort of cause,

“The only jewelry that is permitted in the United States is (a) medicalert jewelry for the purpose of aiding emergency medical personnel in treating injured players and (b) certain religious items that are not dangerous, are required by the religion to be worn, and not likely to provide the player with an unfair advantage (and even for the religious items, the player must have permission from the competition to wear it).

“In short: No jewelry is allowed.”

GOALKEEPER AND FIELD PLAYER CHANGING PLACES?

Question:
Law 3 states that refs should wait till the ball is out of play before cautioning players that make a keeper switch without permission. Why?

What about the moment after the keeper has the shirt off but before the new keeper has it on? Right then the defense is playing WITHOUT a keeper. That’s forbidden.

What if the other team attacks while the keeper jersey is laying on the ground? Certainly this is to be avoided.

I’m pretty sure this is just angels dancing on the head of a pin, because I have never seen it, but the instant I saw the keeper take his shirt off, I would be sorely tempted to stop play. Is my position defensible?

USSF answer (March 30, 2011):
No, your position is not defensible. How can we say that? Read on.

As appears to be the case in your question, if the goalkeeper and the field player haven’t actually exchanged jerseys yet, it can’t be an illegal goalkeeper change because—guess what?—no shift in positions has occurred. Were they ABOUT to? Sure (at least a reasonable inference), but it is not illegal to attempt to change places or to have the thought in one’s head that you want to change places. About the only thing you could get them on is for removing their shirts, and that would be a mighty long stretch.…

WHAT IS “JEWELLERY”?

Question:
I could use some clarification on the FIFA definition of jewellery.

It is my interpretation of law 4 that “jewellery” has no firm definition, but, as a referee, I would defer primarily to the safety of the player’s equipment to determine the wearing of accessories. This is obviously not worth arguing about, but several of my players were reprimanded today for starting the game with string bracelets around their wrists.

It would be a big stretch to see these as potentially harmful to a player or opponent, but the referee today was adamant that such string bracelets are universally understood to be “jewellery.”

I ask this primarily as a referee, not a coach, because I want to know how FIFA would prefer this rule be interpreted.

Any help is greatly appreciated,

USSF answer (December 15, 2010):

There is no “FIFA” definition of anything in the Laws. The definitions are all made by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the people who make the Laws, of which FIFA is a member. And they do not define jewelry for the simple reason that jewelry is jewelry, a decorative (usually) piece of adornment worn to enhance one’s beauty or to plug some product or cause. All jewelry is prohibited by the IFAB in Law 4, no matter what its appearance may be. Jewelry in any form is dangerous, which is why the IFAB has prohibited it; players’ hair or fingers may be caught and severely injured.

Jewelry includes (but is not limited to) “team spirit” strings; beads of any sort (worn in hair or on strings or leather, etc.); any adornment (including watches) worn on the wrist; rings with crowns or projections; adornment worn along the upper or lower arm; earrings of any sort (including “starter” earrings)l tongue studs; any visible body piercing; rubber, leather, plastic or other “bands” worn in reference to some sort of cause,

The only jewelry that is permitted in the United States is (a) medicalert jewelry for the purpose of aiding emergency medical personnel in treating injured players and (b) certain religious items that are not dangerous, are required by the religion to be worn, and not likely to provide the player with an unfair advantage (and even for the religious items, the player must have permission from the competition to wear it).

In short: No jewelry (or the wearing of any adornment of any sort) is allowed.…

FIELD OWNERS RULE!

Question:
A local school district recently installed artificial turf fields and they are used on weekends by the youth league. There are signs at the fields that say that metal cleats may not be worn on these fields.

Since well maintained metal cleats are not a danger to the players and are therefore permitted under the LOTG, several referees have asked if they are required to enforce the ban or if it is up to the home club to take care of it.

If a player shows up with safe metal cleats can the referee prevent him from playing?

Thanks for your help.

USSF answer (December 13, 2010):
This is one situation in which the referee has no choice about enforcement: If the field owner says no metal cleats, then the referee must enforce this requirement, which carries the same weight and authority as a rule of the competition. Otherwise the league might lose the use of these fields, and whose fault would that be if not the referee’s?…

PRESCRIPTION EYEGLASSES?

Question:
As a referee, how do you know if prescription eye glasses would be a problem as “Players may not wear anything that the referee considers dangerous to themselves or to their teammates or opponents.”

In a competitive u15 game last weekend the referee would not let a player play with his glasses, and while I understand it is the referee’s decision, what advice do I give the parents so they can get appropriate eye-wear?

USSF answer (October 25, 2010):
The USSF guidance is contained in the following position paper of March 7, 2003, on player’s equipment.

Memorandum

//deleted//

Re: Player’s Equipment

Date: March 7, 2003

________________________________________________________________________

USSF has received a number of inquiries recently about how officials should handle situations where players wish to wear equipment that is not included in the list of basic compulsory equipment in FIFA Laws of the Game. Referees are facing increased requests from players for permission to wear kneepads, elbowpads, headbands, soft casts, goggles, etc.

The only concrete guidance in the Laws of the Game is found in Law 4:

“A player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player.”

This is followed by a list of required uniform items: jersey, shorts, socks, shoes, and shinguards. Obviously, this language is quite general. USSF suggests the following approach to issues involving player equipment and uniforms:

1. Look to the applicable rules of the competition authority.
Some leagues, tournaments, and soccer organizations have specific local rules covering player uniforms and what other items may or may not be worn on the field during play. Referees who accept match assignments governed by these rules are obligated to enforce them. Note, however, that local rules cannot restrict the referee’s fundamental duty to ensure the safety of players.

2. Inspect the equipment.
All items of player equipment and uniforms must be inspected. However, anything outside the basic compulsory items must draw the particular attention of the referee and be inspected with special regard to safety. USSF does not “pre-approve” any item of player equipment by type or brand — each item must be evaluated individually.

3. Focus on the equipment itself — not how it might be improperly used, or whether it actually protects the player.
Generally, the referee’s safety inspection should focus on whether the equipment has such dangerous characteristics as: sharp edges, hard surfaces, pointed corners, dangling straps or loops, or dangerous protrusions. The referee should determine whether the equipment, by its nature, presents a safety risk to the player wearing it or to other players. If the equipment does not present such a safety risk, the referee should permit the player to wear it.

The referee should not forbid the equipment simply because it creates a possibility that a player could use it to foul another player or otherwise violate the Laws of the Game. However, as the game progresses, an item that the referee allowed may become dangerous, depending on changes in its condition (wear and tear) or on how the player uses it. Referees must be particularly sensitive to unfair or dangerous uses of player equipment and must be prepared to order a correction of the problem whenever they become aware of it.

The referee also should not forbid the equipment because of doubts about whether it actually protects the player. There are many new types of equipment on the market that claim to protect players. A referee’s decision to allow a player to use equipment is not an endorsement of the equipment and does not signify that the referee believes the player will be safer while wearing the equipment.

4. Remember that the referee is the final word on whether equipment is dangerous.
Players, coaches, and others may argue that certain equipment is safe. They may contend that the equipment has been permitted in previous matches, or that the equipment actually increases the player’s safety. These arguments may be accompanied by manufacturer’s information, doctor’s notes, etc. However, as with all referee decisions, determining what players may wear within the framework of the Laws of the Game and applicable local rules depends on the judgment of the referee. The referee must strive to be fair, objective, and consistent ˆ but the final decision belongs to the referee.

This, of course, includes eyeglasses of any sort.

Back in 2001 USSF gave this advice to all referees: “Referees must not interpret [a statement from the IFAB — the people who make the rules of our game] to mean either that “sports glasses” must automatically be considered safe or that glasses which are not manufactured to be worn during sports are automatically to be considered unsafe. The referee must make the final decision: the Board has simply recognized that new technology has made safer the wearing of glasses during play.”…

PLAYER REMOVES SHIRT; WHAT TO DO?

Question:
If you have some time to clarify the proper procedure for a situation I encountered and am getting conflicting information on, I would greatly appreciate it. I’m a 07 referee working on my 06 badge and was faced with a new situation in my upgrade assessment last weekend that I haven’t been able to get a concise answer on.

A player was frustrated with his own team, looking for a sub for a while, and when he finally was able to sub he removed his jersey about 20 yards on the field as he was coming off. The SAR handling the subs for that team (teams on both sides in this league/match) asked him to put his shirt back on and the player’s reply was, “no I can’t do that.” and he walked away still with his shirt off.

The AR (who is a state referee and an assessor) called me over, told me that the player needed a caution and on the advice of my AR I cautioned the player. At the time I knew that something had been said by the player, so I thought the caution was for dissent. There was no objection or argument from players or teammates and everyone accepted the card. The State assessor on the game told me after that he thought all my cards in the game were warranted, including that one.

Upon discussing my assessment with a mentor and area Director of Instruction, he asked me where in the laws/atr/interp/memos is this written that removing the jersey is a cautionable offense other than when its done in celebration of a goal.

To be honest, I don’t know the answer to that, and I don’t know if it is even written.

My SDA and the AR who is a State Ref and an assessor both said that they were pretty sure they remembered it somewhere, but couldn’t tell me where. The SDA said that I can always write that up as Unsporting Behavior or Dissent for refusing to follow the referee’s instructions to put the jersey back on.

My questions are, is there verbiage on this type of situation anywhere? What is the correct way to handle this situation? Was the caution even warranted, even though I’ve been told it was? If warranted, what should it be booked as?

Any clarification you can give me is greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (October 20, 2010):
Despite diligent effort, we can find nothing in the Laws of the Game or in documents issued by FIFA (or the International Football Association Board) that covers such an act.

1. So, what is out there?
a. As far back as the IFAB (published by FIFA for the IFAB) Questions and Answers 2000 and FIFA have been firm about dealing with players who remove their shirts in excessive demonstration of their jubilation (celebration) of a goal or to taunt or provoke their opponents. Such players are to be cautioned immediately for unsporting behavior. That continues today.

b. As of 2002 players who remove their shirts to display slogans or advertising are to be dealt with through disciplinary measures in accordance with the procedures of the particular competition under which they occur. In addition, when time wasting occurred referees would continue to take actions in accordance with the Laws of the Game. Our guidance to referees is that they must take action against goal celebrations which incite, are provocative, or take an excessive amount of time. Referees must report to the competition authority incidents involving players who uncover slogans or advertising on clothing worn under their uniform but may not take action against players for this reason alone. The Federation also stated on July 23, 2003, that “Simply removing the jersey in a momentary emotional reaction to scoring a goal should not be treated as misconduct unless doing so excessively delays the restart of play or is performed in such a manner that, in the opinion of the referee, it taunts, provokes, or incites opponents. And, of course, any material on the undershirt that is insulting, abusive, or offensive must be punished by a send-off/red card.

c. Nothing in the Laws, but some cultures — even here in the United States — do not like to see an excessive amount of skin showing. These are typically religious objections.

2. Where does this leave us?
a. If the player is protesting about something when stripping off the shirt, then the referee may have grounds for a caution for unsporting behavior.

b. If the referee sees the strip begin, asks the player to put the shirt back on, and the player refuses, then the player is dissenting and can be cautioned for that.

c. If the player is simply hot, tired, and ready to pack it in, the act is probably not worth worrying about it. One rule of good game management is that the referee should not do anything that will make any situation worse. Why get someone who is acting in all innocence cranky or upset?

We hope this is helpful to you and to your mentors.…