How does USSF look at referees whom do not give signals on throw-in, corner kicks and goal kicks but verbalize their decisions? As an AR, I mirrored what the referee was verbalizing but, I simply like to know the proper protocol.

USSF answer (April 30, 2007):
The point of signals is to let everyone involved in the game know what is happening (players, ARs, team officials, etc.), not just those within earshot. Just as with the advantage signal needing to be as public as blowing the whistle, simply verbalizing possession for a TI, GK, or CK (even if understood perfectly by the players in the immediate vicinity) may not be enough for others who need the same information but who are farther away. Unless one’s voice is sufficiently stentorian to be heard around the entire field, visual signals are needed.


The local youth league requires players that are sitting out a game due to either a red card or accumulation of yellow cards, be present at the game for the sit-out to count. This weekend I was the center ref for a U-19 boys game, and one of the teams had a player serving a sit-out. Towards the end of the game, this player starting yelling foul and abusive language at an opponent. The AR on that side of the field attempted to diffuse the situation, but was unable to get the player to shut-up. During the next stoppage of play, the AR got my attention, informed me of what happened, and I then issued a red card to this player, and made him leave the area.My question is, since this player in not eligible to participate, is he still considered a substitute? In other words, can I still show him a red card? It is more a technique question, as I can expel anyone from the team area for improper behavior, but I can only show a card to a player or substitute. If I didn’t follow the proper procedure, what would the proper procedure be?

USSF answer (April 30, 2007):
The fact that the player was present at the game should have been enough to satisfy the league’s requirement. You may be sure that the league will pay special attention to a player who does not take to heart the lesson they were trying to teach.

If the player is required to be present, even in a non-playing role, he is considered to be a part of the team, a quasi-team official for lack of any other convenient term. It would not be proper to show this person a card, but as a team official he would be expelled for irresponsible behavior. The referee must provide full details in the match report.

Referees should not be held responsible for enforcing league-imposed punishment. That is a matter for the league to police.


Simple question: once the ball has gone out of play (for a GK, CK, TI), can the restart be changed based on information the referee received *after* the ball went out of play? I know that if the ref decides to make a call, and the ball goes out of play before he blows the whistle, he can still make the call and award the proper restart for the call. Here’s an example:Ball goes out of play for a TI. Before the ball is thrown in, the referee looks at the trail AR, who raises his flag after eye contact is made. The ref holds the TI and goes to confer with the AR, who tells him that a foul was committed before the ball left the field of play.

Can the referee change the restart from a TI, since play was not restarted? Or does the fact that the ball went out of play *before* the ref was aware of the foul mean the ref can’t call the ball back onto the field for a kick?

USSF answer (April 19, 2007):
As long as the referee has not restarted play, any restart may be changed, particularly corrected restarts based on information from the assistant referee.

See Advice 5.14:

If the referee awards a restart for the wrong team and realizes the mistake before the restart is taken, then the restart may be corrected even though the decision was announced after the restart took place. This is based on the established principle that the referee’s initial decision takes precedence over subsequent action. The visual and verbal announcement of the decision after the restart has already occurred is well within the Spirit of the Law, provided the decision was made before the restart took place.


I’m sorry to trouble you with such a detail, but the question came up and no one present had, or could find a definitive answer to the following question:
If provided the option/ability should the referee team choose a jersey color before or after checking in both teams? Good arguments where raised for both before and after. I guess if there is nothing written, is there a generally accepted “best practice”?Though it was generally understood that a referee should not wear a jersey either too or from the pitch, again we could find nothing written.

Is either of this covered in the “Referee Administrative Handbook” and we missed just missed it, or is documented someplace else?

Any insight you could provide would be wonderful as we would like set the best possible ground work for our younger referees.

USSF answer (April 11, 2007):
Referees should exercise common sense (you will see this again below) and choose the uniform color that causes the least confusion for both players and the officiating crew. This is not covered in the Referee Administrative Handbook, but If you need a reference, then we suggest that you use this excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

Referees may wear only the gold primary jersey or the black/white-, blue/black-, or red/black-striped alternate jerseys, and may wear only the approved socks. No other colors will be worn without express permission of the USSF. If the uniform colors worn by a goalkeeper and the referee or by a team (or both teams) and the referee are similar enough to invite confusion, the goalkeeper or the team(s) must change to different colors. Only if there is no way to resolve the color similarity, must the referee (and the assistant referees) wear the colors that conflict least with the players. Referees and assistant referees must wear the same color jerseys and the same style of socks, and all should wear the same length sleeves. The referee uniform does not include a hat, cap, or other head covering, with the exception of religious head covering. Referees must wear the badge of the current registration year.

In addition, referees should exercise common sense and not wear their uniform or other clothes that identify them as referees when they are coaching or watching a game, or when traveling to the field. Wearing such clothing as a spectator invites comment and cries out for spectators or others to question the non-working referee on the calls of the officials on the field. Wearing such clothing as a coach could be considered a form of gamesmanship.


During an RIII match this past weekend, the GK intentionally left the field of play while the ball was in play. While only the GK knows for sure why he left the field, it appeared it was done to re-position a spare ball which was behind his net to the side of the net but it will never be known for sure as circumstance changed while he was off the field. The opposing team won possession and took a long shot on goal presumably to take advantage of the empty net. With his teammate encouragement, the GK re-entered the field of play and picked up the ball on the second bounce just outside the 6′ box thus deny the goal as there were no other defenders inside the 18′ yard box. The Referee played on as if no infraction had occurred which seems to be an incorrect call as the GK clearly gained advantage by his actions whether or not they were intentional.It does not take a lot of presumption on the part of the Referee to appreciate the opposing team took the long shot to benefit from the GK being out of the net. As such, the GK leaving prior to and re-entering after the shot was taken gave the GK an unfair advantage which is why it is a yellow card offense in the LOTG.

The correct call seems to be a yellow for either “deliberately leaving the field of play without the Referee’s permission” or “re-entering the field of play without the Referee’s permission” with the restart being an IFK from the spot where the GK first touched the ball.

A second possibility would have been a yellow for the GK for leaving or re-entering without permission plus a second yellow followed by a red for 2 CT for the GK for Unsporting Behavior as leaving the field and re-entering to make what amounted to a save seems to qualifies as UB. Again, the restart would be an IFK from the spot where the GK first touched the ball though now the team would be playing down a player.

What is the correct call?

USSF answer (April 5, 2007):
The infringement, if such there was, is trifling and not worth considering. The goalkeeper did not leave the field to deceive anyone, nor did he return in a deceitful manner. The correct decision, made by the intelligent referee on the game, is to make no voiced call at all.


Gentlemen, has there ever been any instructions, memo, etc., on the procedure that the referees must follow in respect to what their duties are on monitoring the handshake process that the youth players and coaches do after the game is completed?USSF answer (March 30, 2007):
Here is what the Federation has to say on the matter, excerpted from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

The referee’s authority begins upon arrival at the area of the field of play and continues until he or she has left the area of the field after the game has been completed. The referee’s authority extends to time when the ball is not in play, to temporary suspensions, to the half-time break, and to additional periods of play or kicks from the penalty mark required by the rules of the competition.

The custom of exchanging handshakes after the game is not universal practice. It is an invention of American youth soccer–and not even followed at all levels of American youth soccer. There is no accepted format.

Referees are instructed to leave the field quickly and quietly when the game has been completed. This is to avoid problems with coaches, parents, and players. If the handshake ceremony is a rule of the competition, then referees would likely have to remain behind to monitor it–but only if the rules of the competition explicitly require it.


A second ball enters field of play as a team was attacking close to opposition’s penalty box. The second ball almost hit the center referee who was close to play. He tempted to chase away that second ball. As he looked to follow the flight of that second ball, the attacking team scored in the meantime. Is that goal legitimate ?USSF answer (January 22, 2007):
If the referee did not see the ball enter the goal, there is no goal. The referee should pay attention to outside agents (such as the extra ball) only if they somehow interfere with play on the field.


I’ve let this letter simmer for a couple of months so that my own attitude settles a bit. I would almost prefer that the question not be published, but it brings up issues that need to be addressed at many levels of competitive soccer. We’ve seen too many other youth sports where someone at a game went nuts. Then the situation spirals out of control and people end up hurt (or worse). I would hate to see our youth soccer programs end up in the same mess, but I won’t be terribly surprised when it happens.I have been active in soccer as a parent, coach and referee over the past 12 years. For the event listed below, I was just a parent.

Situation: U16 boys competitive tournament. White is a local team. Red is from out of town. About 5 minutes into the first half, still scoreless, opposing players are battling for the ball near midfield. White pushes red, red pushes back harder â a fairly typical foul for this level. The referee blows his whistle and indicates white ball, DFK. The players start backing away from the ball, getting ready for the kick. So far, all is normal. Before play can resume, the assistant referee closest to the play charges onto the field (8-10 yards), shouting at the red player “what’s your problem?”, bumps the player in the chest a couple of times and finally retreats to his sideline. The referee shows no card to any player, and says nothing to either the player or the AR.

When I complained to the tournament officials about the actions of the referee and assistant referee, they refused to even send an observer to monitor the rest of the game.

White ended up winning the game 2-1.

Questions: Under what circumstance is physical contact permitted between the referee crew and the players? Is it simply to restrain players involved in a fight? That clearly was not the case here. If it had been the other way around, or if it happened between two players, I believe the charging party would have been red-carded for violent conduct.

USSF answer (January 11, 2007):
Under no circumstances should an assistant referee or a referee act in the manner you describe. While some referees have a knack of handling players differently than others, such as being able to use actual physical contact, what you describe is well “over the top.” The AR should have been admonished by the referee and the referee should have included full details of the incident in a report to the referee authorities.


I would benefit from some further clarification as to when making contact with the opponent before touching the ball is acceptable and when it is not. The situation concerns U 13 players at the premiere level, so there is intent in this move. The move does not concern an individual player but is a reflection of the style of coaching as it is consistent for the team.Let me describe a typical situation. The ball is 5 yards in front of 2 opposing player that both run as fast as they can to the ball. The 2 players start out say 2 yards apart and converge as they approach the ball. They have an equal change of reaching the ball. Just before they get to the ball, player 1 steps in front of the ball in such a way as to shield it from player 2. This requires an aggressive burst of energy but does not harm player 2 other than that player 2 ends up running into the back to player 1. Then player 1 touches and plays the ball. When player 1 steps in front of player 2 her distance to the ball is such that she could barely touch the ball but certainly not control it yet. It is my perception that the first objective of player 1 is to prevent player 2 from reaching the ball and shielding it before playing the ball.

My question now is, since the 2 players collide and tackle each other and player 1 consistently makes contact with player 2 before playing the ball, is that a foul under law 12? What criteria for consideration could you point out to me so that the judgement of foul or fair play becomes easier?

USSF answer (January 3, 2007):
You would appear to be confusing two separate infringements of the Law. Let’s see if we can explain it a bit–but you will need to remember that only you, the referee, can make the correct decision in any given event.

Making contact with the opponent before touching the ball applies ONLY to tackling for the ball, not to a charging offense. “Tackling” means going for the ball on the ground, not shielding the ball or (illegally) impeding the opponent’s access to it. There is no other prohibition on fair and reasonable contact with an opponent in competing for the ball.

Here are two citations from the 2006 edition of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the laws of the Game” that may be helpful:

Making contact with the opponent before the ball when making a tackle is unfair and should be penalized. However, the fact that contact with the ball was made first does not automatically mean that the tackle is fair.Ê The declaration by a player that he or she has played the ball is irrelevant if, while tackling for the ball, the player carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force commits any of the prohibited actions.

A foul committed while tackling an opponent with little or no concern for the safety of the opponent shall be cause for the player to be sent from the field and shown the red card for serious foul play.


“Impeding the progress of an opponent” means moving on the field so as to obstruct, interfere with, or block the path of an opponent. Impeding can include crossing directly in front of the opponent or running between the opponent and the ball so as to form an obstacle with the aim of delaying progress. There will be many occasions during a game when a player will come between an opponent and the ball, but in the majority of such instances, this is quite natural and fair. It is often possible for a player not playing the ball to be in the path of an opponent and still not be guilty of impeding.

The offense of impeding an opponent requires that the ball not be within playing distance and that physical contact between the player and the opponent is normally absent. If physical contact occurs, the referee should, depending on the circumstances, consider instead the possibility that a charging infringement has been committed (direct free kick) or that the opponent has been fairly charged off the ball (indirect free kick, see Advice 12.22). However, nonviolent physical contact may occur while impeding the progress of an opponent if, in the opinion of the referee, this contact was an unavoidable consequence of the impeding (due, for example, to momentum).


now i am grade 9 ref im going to get upgraded but my question is when i ref games and there is a player down cause this happens a lot on minor injuries instead of blowing my whistle all the time i try to get players to play the ball out you know fifa fair play and then get the other team to throw the ball back to them is this bad?USSF answer (December 12, 2006):
No, this is not bad, but neither is it sanctioned under the Laws of the Game. The referee has no authority to direct the players to put the ball out of play or to tell them to play it back in to the other team to restart.

It is the job of the referee to stop play for injury, regardless of what players may or may not do, only if a player is, in the referee’s opinion, seriously injured–keeping in mind the age of the players. There are considerable practical differences between the referee stopping play for a serious injury and players stopping play for what they believe is an injury. If the players do it on their own, there is little the referee can do to control it, at least as the Laws read now.