If a player is sent off (red card), he/she cannot play in their next game.

Question 1: if the referee does not include the send-off in the game report, or does not submit a game report, is the player still required to not play in their next game?

Question 2: It is VERY common for referees NOT to tell a youth player why (unsporting behavior, dissent, serious foul play, etc) a card is being displayed. When asked by the player or coach, the VERY common response is ‘I don’t have to tell you’. How are youth players to learn from a mistake when there is absolutely no reason given by the ‘professional offical’ as to what the mistake was? Are game reports accessible to coaches, players, and/or parents?

USSF answer (February 28, 2012):
1. Referees are expected to submit their match reports as quickly as possible, usually within 2-3 days of the game. If they do not do so, then technically the events described (or NOT described) therein did not occur — but see below.

Technicalities aside, realistically the game occurred: people were there; witnesses can be subpoenaed; the referee could be reminded of his report; the player who was red carded should, on his own initiative or by direction of his coach, sit out his team’s next regularly-scheduled match. All this should occur even without the actual filing of the referee’s report. An opposing coach could certainly note at the team’s next regularly-scheduled game that Player X should be sitting out and, if this is disputed on any basis (including the lack of a report from the referee), a complaint could be filed which would eventually trigger a demand upon the referee to get the requiredreport in. In real life, there are literally thousands of games that occur with no formal referee report going into a league or association office — of course, in most of these, nothing untoward has occurred, but no one has any problem accepting that there was a game, there was a score, and Team B won.

2. The referee is REQUIRED to tell a player that he or he has been cautioned or sent off for one of the seven reasons for either sort of misconduct.

They cannot refuse to tell this to the player and should be reported to refereeing authorities if they do so refuse. They are NOT required to tell the coach anything. In most states (we cannot speak for all of them) the reports are not available to non-refereeing or competition officials, but appropriate parties can be told of the contents regarding a specific person or incident.


I was the CR in a game today that was un-eventful except for one thing. I had trouble getting one team back on the field after halftime.

After the halftime, I blew the whistle to summon the teams to the field for the 2nd half. The blue team came out and lined up for the kick-off (they were to take the kick-off to open the half). The red team didn’t move. This is not unusual, so I waited about 30 seconds and blew the whistle again. Still the red team didn’t come out of their huddle.

I waited another 30 seconds and one of the blue players joked that I should just start the game without them. I blew the whistle AGAIN and summoned the captain BY NAME and the coach BY NAME to send out the team and got NO response.

After another few seconds I blew the whistle a FORTH TIME and the red team finally got up, did their little pre-game “HOO-Rah” cheer and took the field.

I considered this an unacceptable delay. Law 12 states I must issue a yellow card for “delaying the restart of play.”

1) Would I be justified in issuing the Yellow Card to the Captain?

2) As odd as this question is, is there something in “the laws” that would prevent the Referee from starting the game without the Red team ON THE FIELD? Law 3 DOESN’T say the teams must be ON the field and they had ignored 3 requests to get on the field?

USSF answer (February 20, 2012):
Both teams must come out as quickly as possible for the start of a period of play when the referee indicates that the time has arrived. Matches are scheduled to begin at a particular time and for a specified amount of time (depending on the rules of the competition). The Laws also provide that players are entitled to an interval at halftime (must be stated in the competition rules, but may not exceed 15 minutes), which can be altered only with the consent of the referee, not by the coach or other officials of one or both teams. In other words, the teams should make good use of their halftime break and be prepared to come out at the referee’s signal.

If the team does not come out to play when ordered by the referee, that team is in violation of the Laws of the Game and the coach and other team officials can be removed for irresponsible behavior in accordance with Law 5.

Despite having that power, the referee should behave proactively and remind the team that the allotted time has passed and encourage them to come out before applying any draconian measures.

All of which leaves the ultimate question — what if they still don’t come out? Certainly, the coach and other team officials can be ordered away for behaving irresponsibly. As for the players (i.e., persons on the field at the end of the first half) could be cautioned for delaying the restart of play (after appropriate warnings, entreaties, etc.), but at some point this has to stop. Simply abandon the match for having fewer than the minimum number of players required to start/restart/continue play based on the rules of competition and include full details in the match report.


The game has finished, the players are on the sideline when the ref issues a player without their jersey on with a yellow for decent, the player blows up again so the ref issues another yellow to the same player resulting in a red, what is the outcome if the ref reports the wrong player in the paperwork since he had no jersey on how can he be sure he reports the correct player ? and if he does report the wrong player can the team challenge the result ?

USSF answer (August 11, 2011):
The final whistle has been blown, the game is over! Players may now remove their jerseys if they like, whether they are on the field or off. The referee committed an error in judgment and procedure by not determining the player’s name and number before issuing the caution for dissent and the subsequent caution and dismissal for receiving a second caution in the game. (Yes this period counts as part of the game if the referee has not left the area after the final whistle.)

The referee could have resolved the problem by informing the team captain and or a team official, such as the coach, that this player was being cautioned and then sent off and asking for the player’s name.

In answer to your final question, we cannot know what course the competition’s disciplinary committee will take in this matter, other than to remind the referee that procedure should be followed.


Concerning display of cards. In a men’s amateur game, league requires the teams to be ready to play no later than 15 minutes after posted game time. Home teams does not have 7 properly equipped and documented (pass)players at expiration of grace period. Referee crew informs the team that because of these issues the game will not start and the league informed. A member of the home team directs foul and abusive language at the referee crew. If used during a game, would have resulted in the sending off and display of the red card.

Because the game was already terminated(declared a forfeit) I did not display the card, treating the situation as if the game had ended and the misconduct occurred as the crew was walking off the field.

In this situation, should a card have been displayed or just a report of the misconduct made to the league?

USSF answer (July 15, 2011):
Show the card and inform the player that you will be reporting the incident to the competition authority — and then do it, including full details.


In the send off offenses – Spitting is listed separately as it’s own offense. Is it appropriate for it to be written up as Spitting or should it be written up as Fighting.

Also – If a Red Card is being issued for spitting and subsequent to that 2 other players followed it up with pushing would these players then be subject to Red Cards as well for the continuation of a Fight.

USSF answer (August 24, 2010):
When in doubt, follow the rules: A player may be sent off for only seven reasons (see Law 12), none of which is “fighting.” If a player is sent off for spitting at an opponent or any other person, that is the reason given in the match report.

Any illegal action that follows a sending-off offense is punished on its own “merits.” If the pushing is reckless, the player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior. If the pushing involves the use of excessive force, the player is sent off and shown the red card for violent conduct. There is no misconduct named “continuation of a fight.”


If a referee submits a referee’s report about an incident during a match and the date on the report is different from the the date the actual match was played, is this report valid? the report submitted by this referee gives a different date from the match day he was referring too.

Secondly can the match report contain incidents that he said alledgally happen. This refers to an incident he didn’t actually see him self. Should he just report the facts of the incident. Does this type of report make the match report invalid.

USSF answer (April 19, 2010):
Inaccurate data on a match report is generally unacceptable. The final decision on that rests with the competition authority and the panel it has appointed to review the matter.

That is the reason why we constantly stress that referees check their data several times and proofread their reports before sending them in.

As to incidents that the referee did not actually see, we submit that, as the referee is obliged to take into account any events seen by an assistant referee or fourth official, there is no reason why the same information (assuming it is relevant) should not be included in the match report.

Of course, if there was no AR assigned and the lines were run by club linesmen, then the referee can only report incidents he did not see as hearsay, not as fact.


Is a referee required to include in their game report the red card infractions issued during the game? Can he/she change their ruling after the game is over, and not file the report. I know of this happening in our league. A player is red-carded, removed from play.

The referee, intentionally, does not file the report with this infraction included. The player and team assume the infraction, and a suspension game is served. In this case without notice of disregard.

This allows a referee to disregard at their own will, a call that has been made and affected the current game, as well as future games, with disregard for notice or consideration. Also, seems to reflect their intent of issuing the red card in the first place.

USSF answer (November 24, 2009):
All cautions and dismissals must be reported. There is no excuse for not doing so. Any referee who fails to do this should be reported to the competition and to the state referee authorities.

In addition, considering the gravity of not reporting serious misconduct (a clear violation of the Laws of the Laws of the Game), the referee in such a situation could also be dealt with under the terms of US Soccer Policy 531-10, Misconduct of a Game Official. The policy is contained in the Referee Administrative Handbook, which can be downloaded from the Instructional Materials section of the referee program pages at