During a game, can goalie speak to someone beside the goal during game? Referee issued yellow for not paying attention to game?

Answer (June 30, 2015):
There were two people of diminished mental competence involved here: the goalkeeper and the referee. There is no such rule in the Laws of the Game, and referees are forbidden to interfere in any player action that is not covered in the Laws.

NOTE: There are too many “cowboy” referees in our game. That is my term for referees who make up their own rules as they go along, confusing players, fellow officials, and the spectators. My recommendation to them: Just call the game in accordance with the Laws. It is so much easier on everyone.…


My team had a pK shoot out last weekend. The referee placed the ball on the mark. We kicked first and my player moved the ball because it was in a hole but left it on the mark. The referee walked back to the ball picked it up and appeared to push it even harder in the original spot. Is the referee allowed to move or place the ball even though it’s on the mark. It clearly bothered my player. The referee did place the ball every single time after that as well So at least he was consistent.

Answer (May 13, 2015):
The ball must be placed on some part of the spot/mark. It can be moved to avoid holes or water. The only restriction is the ball may not be moved closer to the goal line than the spot itself.

As I am fond of saying, some referees make too much of themselves and fail to remember that it is not the referee’s game, it belongs to the players.…


My son plays u9 soccer and has been sliding as an offensive move to shoot the ball. They keep saying that he is slide tackling…which I believe is a defensive move..can you help me determine the difference, so the organization can discuss what is permitted. I think there is some confusion between the two.

Answer (May 13, 2012):
Unless there is some well-intentioned but totally unauthorized (and unfounded in Law) prohibition on slide tackling in the rules of the competition in which your son plays, there is absolutely no rule that a player cannot slide tackle for the ball. The concern in the Laws of the Game (the rules the world plays by) is that all play shall be fair and safe. As long as the sliding tackle is carried out safely, with no danger to the opponent, then it is not illegal.

As to sliding to shoot the ball, it is hard to imagine how anyone would consider that to be illegal. In order for a play to be called a foul, it must have been committed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force.

The referee must judge whether the tackle of an opponent is fair or whether it is careless, reckless, or involves the use of excessive force. Making contact with the opponent before the ball when making a tackle is unfair and should be penalized.

“Careless” indicates that the player has not exercised due caution in making a play. It does not include any clearly accidental contact.

“Reckless” means that the player has made unnatural movements designed to intimidate an opponent or to gain an unfair advantage.

“Involving excessive force” means that the player has far exceeded the use of force necessary to make a fair play for the ball and has placed the opponent in considerable danger of bodily harm.…


Why would a referee for a U11 game eject a parent/spectator from the game for yelling “Communicate with your partner” to the referee. They never said hey ref, or anything, just stood up and yelled “Communicate with your partner”. This also lead to suspension of the next game for the spectator as well as being suspended from attending practices until the spectator attended a hearing which is complete BS in this league anyways. Where does one go to report this referee for abuse of his postion? I am guessing he violated some sort of code of conduct.

My answer (April 30, 2012):
No, there would not appear to have been any violation of any code of conduct, other than by the parent. This is NOT Little League baseball, for goodness’ sake. However, the referee would appear to have violated my rule of inverse stupidity: The less you know, the more you call.…


When a player is injured and the referee stops play for the injury, is it acceptable for a referee to touch and handle the player? This referee (adult) is not a medical proffesional, I asked him. He seems to want to do a full medical exam on both youth boys and girls as well as adults. This referee will grab the players knee or ankles which ever is injured and pull, twist and poke the injury. This referee does not allow the coach on the field until he has done this with the injured player. Many coaches and parents are becoming extremely concerned over this practice. This has happened at least 10 times in 2012.

To sum it up, I guess my question is: Are referees taught to do a medical exam of the injured player by touching/twisting of the injury? And are they allowed to do this?

USSF answer (March 13, 2012):
We are pleased once again to emphasize the following principles regarding referees and players (most particularly youth players).

First, unless specifically certified by a public authority to provide medical care (i.e., doctor, paramedic, nurse, EMT, etc. — a Boy Scout First Aid badge does not count), no referee should be rendering any medical care to anyone, under any circumstances, at any time. This is a matter of law, the details of which can differ from state to state and we cannot therefore be more specific than simply … don’t do it. If a referee is medically certified, then the laws of the state where the injury has occurred are usually clear as to the duties to render assistance of certified medical personnel and, if such assistance is provided, the provider ceases to be a referee and becomes at least momentarily a doctor, paramedic, nurse, EMT, etc. until that responsibility for care is handed over to someone who is medically more qualified.

Second, USSF does not and has never provided training regarding the care of player injuries beyond what The Laws of the Game require. That care is defined solely in terms of deciding if an injury has occurred and then whether it is not serious, is serious, or is severe, and then recognizing what actions are proper depending on the answer to that question. These decisions and actions are summarized by the following quotes from the Laws of the Game and their Interpretations:

Law 5, bullet point 8 under Powers and Duties:

The Referee
– stops the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured and ensures that he is removed from the field of play. An injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted.

Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidance for Referees (pp. 69-70):

Injured players
The referee must adhere to the following procedure when dealing with injured players:
• play is allowed to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in the opinion of the referee, only slightly injured
• play is stopped if, in the opinion of the referee, a player is seriously injured
• after questioning the injured player, the referee may authorise one, or at most two doctors, to enter the field of play to assess the injury and arrange the player’s safe and swift removal from the field of play
• stretcher-bearers should only enter the field of play with a stretcher following a signal from the referee
• the referee must ensure an injured player is safely removed from the field of play
• a player is not allowed to receive treatment on the field of play
• any player bleeding from a wound must leave the field of play. He may not return until the referee is satisfied that the bleeding has stopped. A player is not permitted to wear clothing with blood on it
• as soon as the referee has authorised the doctors to enter the field of play, the player must leave the field of play, either on a stretcher or on foot. If a player does not comply, he must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour
• an injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted
• when the ball is in play, an injured player must re-enter the field of play from the touch line. When the ball is out of play, the injured player may re-enter from any of the boundary lines
• irrespective of whether the ball is in play or not, only the referee is authorised to allow an injured player to re-enter the field of play
• the referee may give permission for an injured player to return to the field of play if an assistant referee or the fourth official verifies that the player is ready
• if play has not otherwise been stopped for another reason, or if an injury suffered by a player is not the result of a breach of the Laws of the Game, the referee must restart play with a dropped ball from the position of the ball when play was stopped, unless play was stopped inside the goal area, in which case the referee drops the ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was located when play was stopped
• the referee must allow for the full amount of time lost through injury to be played at the end of each period of play
• once the referee has decided to issue a card to a player who is injured and has to leave the field of play for treatment, the referee must issue the card before the player leaves the field of play

Exceptions to this ruling are to be made only when:
• a goalkeeper is injured
• a goalkeeper and an outfield player have collided and need immediate attention
• players from the same team have collided and need immediate attention
• a severe injury has occurred, e.g. swallowed tongue, concussion, broken leg
It seems pretty clear to me: If the referee considers an injury serious enough that someone is called into the field to treat it or see to the player, then the player must leave until the game has restarted, just as it says in the law.


When is the referee authority end? Does it end as soon as he whistles the end of the game? We had a game when the referee blew his whistle 3 times to signify the end of the game while a ball was still in the air. After the whistle was blown, the girls stop playing and the ball continued into the net. The referee then signified no goal and then changed it to a goal. The tournament head referee said it was a bad call, but upheld the goal. So how can that be if the referee duties and authority are over as soon as he blows the whistle.

Can he then change his mind, but he doesn’t have any authority at that point. Nonetheless that the call shouldn’t have been a goal since he indicated the game was over. His excuse was he accidently blew his whistle. You don’t accidently blow your whistle three times. Just looking for some clarification.

USSF answer (January 16, 2012):
This is not a case of the referee’s authority — which ends when he has left the environs of the field, not as soon as the final whistle is blown. Rather , it is a case of poor refereeing and a particularly uninformed decision by the “tournament head referee.”

By tradition, custom, and practice, the referee’s whistle brings the game to a complete and immediate halt, whether the period of play is over or not. If the ball is in the air at that moment, life is hard, but no goal can be scored, no matter that the whistle was blown “accidentally.”…


I was attending the Association Cup Quarter Finals yesterday and in the pregame to officials, our State Youth Referee Administrator instructed us that he better not catch us using colored whistles. He further elaborated that only black whistles are to be used and if he any of the referee were to use anything but BLACK whistles we would not be working for him again. I simply have two questions. One is, does USSF support such comments and secondly does the State association or in this case, SYRA has the power to instruct the referees with this sort of demands?

USSF answer (January 16, 2012):

The Federation has no requirement that whistles be of any particular color; however, the traditional color for plastic whistles used by referees is black. Your SYRA would have a hard time enforcing such a requirement for referees who use metal whistles. However, at an independently-sponsored tournament the director could insist on this.…


I was reffing a recreational league the other day when something incredible happened that took me by surprise. The Blue attacker and Red defender were running after the ball and into the pk box, they were both legally shoulder charging each other, I was about 5 feet from the play (very close to miss) and saw the Red defender stumble (never fouled) and tumbled ahead of Blue attacker, when the Blue attacker jumped over the tumbling Red defender to get to the ball,The defender stretched his legs up deliberately and fouled the Blue attacker. I called the pk (no doubt) and proceeded to yellow card Red defender and red card him (second yellow). Blue attacker refused to take the pk stating he had committed the foul against Red defender instead of the other way around and his teammates retrieved along side him. I had never encountered this situation and proceeded to call back the ejected Red defender back and explained the strange situation and allowed him back in the game and let the Red team take an indirect kick from the place the Red defender had stumbled and fallen. Red and Blue are also friends, which has nothing to do with the game, but I suspect friendship had something to do with Blue’s decision to avoid getting his friend (Red) ejected. How should I have handled this situation better.

USSF answer (October 24, 2011):
The referee is certainly allowed to change a decision, even the awarding of a send-off (red card) if he does so before the next restart, but he needs to have an extremely good reason to do so. The referee also needs to stand by a decision to award a penalty kick if the foul occurred in the perpetrator’s penalty area and was clearly a direct-free kick foul, no matter that the player who was fouled objects.

If the player who was fouled does not wish to take the penalty kick, life is hard. In that case, another member of his team must take the penalty kick. If no one cares to take the penalty kick, then the game is abandoned and the referee submits full details of the reason in his report to the competition authority.…


On 10/3/11 you said “In the scenario you present, the deliberate handling by the goalkeeper outside his own penalty area, no obvious goalscoring opportunity has been denied. There is no evidence that, but for the handling by the goalkeeper, the ball would have gone into the goal. The horse is dead. Long live the horse.”

Your second sentence has no bearing on the first sentence. The law says the offense is “denying . . . a goal or an obvious goal scoring opportunity.” While I agree that a goal has not been denied (as the ball was not moving towards the goal), I am shocked to hear that an attacker in the “D” with only the keeper to beat is not an obvious goal scoring opportunity.

Which D is not ticked here?

Number of defenders: 0 not counting the offender.

Distance to goal: 20 yards. While not inside the area, it’s certainly closer than many breakaway OGSO I’ve seen called.

Distance to ball: Unclear in the scenario, but would the keeper have handled it if he wasn’t under pressure?

Direction of play: Not entirely clear, but I take “running onto play” to indicate he was in a position to shoot.”

I’m not saying it’s always a send-off when the keeper handles outside of the area (I’ve had 2 this season and not sent-off for either), but to dismiss it just because the ball isn’t moving is not consistent with the 4D philosophy.

USSF answer (October 11, 2011):
You seem to have missed the clear interpretation of DG-H provided in the original training materials for OGSO and confirmed clearly in Advice to Referees 12.37(a). Your argument is without merit.

We shall spell it out one last time (we have done this several times before). The elements of the 4 Ds may be used in determining if, in the opinion of the referee, the ball would have gone into the net but for the handling offense (e.g., the more defenders there are between the handling and the goal, the more likely it is that ONE of them at least would stop/redirect the ball on its path; the farther away the handling offense occurred from the goal, the greater is the distance the ball must travel in its path to the goal and so the more likely it is that its target area is so wide that it only encompasses the goal rather than being aimed at the goal itself; and so on).

However, the Ds when applied to DG-H are merely guidelines, not hard and fast rules as they might be when applied to DG-F. For example, the “D” related to direction of play is reduced to a simple linear vector decision — is the ball going into the net? Likewise, the “D” related to distance to ball is totally irrelevant.

The 4 Ds apply to DG-F precisely because it is an attacker who is being fouled whereas DG-H involves a foul committed WITH the ball, against the Spirit of the Game, rather than against an opponent. In the two “Ds” which were “not entirely clear,” this lack of clarity stems precisely from the simple fact that they don’t apply at all. You have defined them in a way that meets your needs, not the letter and spirit of the Law. For example, the “D” for distance to ball is DEFINED as the distance between the attacker who was fouled and where the ball was when the attacker was fouled. Because this attacker had not had possession of the ball, the question as to whether that distance was or was not great enough for the fouled attacker to continue his possession/control of the ball and thus to continue his attack is irrelevant.…


Earlier this month, I was refereeing [at a] Labor Day Cup. It was very, very windy. An attacker shot the ball from a far distance towards the goal. However, the wind pushed the net on the other side of the crossbar. The net shockingly prevented the ball from entering the net. (Did I mention how windy it was?) The net did NOT detach from the crossbar, but the wind was so strong the net was sitting in front of the goal.

What does the law say about the net? Well, from what I’ve researched, you do not have to have a net. From my perspective, the net (once it is pushed by the wind onto the field) becomes an outside agent even though the net is still connected to the posts. The referee should restart with a dropped ball from goal area line outside of where the contact was made. “Selling” this call would be nearly impossible, so I thought I would ask you guys on the best way to handle a situation like this.

USSF answer (October 3, 2011):
No, the net cannot be considered an outside agent in any game situation. In this case, referee failure to follow the dictates of Law 5 was the cause of the incident

As you say, the net is not required by the Laws of the Game; however, it is normally required by most rules of competition (such as the tournament at which the incident occurred). The organizers should have ensured that the net was firmly mounted on the goal and secured to the ground. The referee and the rest of the officiating crew should have inspected the field an all its appurtenances before the game began (and again prior to the start of the second half or any additional periods) and also ensured that the net was firmly mounted on the goal and secured to the ground.

Therefore, the fact that the net was blowing around must be regarded as a natural occurrence. There is no solution other than the one you suggest: once the net has been repaired, the referee must drop the ball from the spot at which the interference occurred (in accordance with Law 8): “The referee drops the ball at the place where it was located when play was stopped, unless play was stopped inside the goal area, in which case the referee drops the ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was located when play was stopped. Play restarts when the ball touches the ground.”

The same logic could be applied to other situations caused by referee inattention to the Law and his or her duty to protect the players and, most important, to provide a “level” playing field so that each team receives fair and equal treatment. For example, suppose the scenario had involved a goal frame which, due to the high winds, was pushed forward toward the field such that the crossbar (though still attached) was ahead of the goal line rather than straight above it. Suppose further that a shot on goal was made at an extreme angle such that the ball struck the crossbar and the deflection enabled the ball to stay on the field whereas the ball would have gone into the upper left corner of the net if the crossbar had been properly positioned.…