In the USSF training (at least in my area) for many years now the instruction has been that for out of bounds calls for which the officials do not see/know which team ought to get the possession, a throw in or a goal kick should be awarded to the “defense.”

I assume this has been USSF’s preference all along as well. Given the emphasis today by FIFA and USSF on “scoring” and “offensive play” for soccer should we officials now be awarding throw ins and corner kicks for the “attacking” team rather than the defense when we are uncertain who last touched the ball? (Yes, I know this circumstance should never occur – esp. with 3 officials – but unfortunately it does!)

USSF answer (February 1, 2010):
Although INFORMAL advice for many years was to award the ball to the defending team on any questionable situation where the ball had passed out of play across one of the boundary lines, that WAS NOT and IS NOT the Federation’s formal guidance on a ball passing out of play.

Referees should take care not to use any unofficial option as a means of avoiding a difficult but necessary decision as to which team should have the restart. Nor should the referee use the dropped ball to restart play as a crutch in those cases where there is some question about the correct restart. The referee must make a decision and announce it firmly.

This excerpt from the Advice to Referees 2009/2010 should give referees all the guidance they need:

The referee should promptly signal a clear decision on the direction for the restart when the ball appears to have gone off the field from “simultaneous” touches by members of both teams. Under the Laws of the Game, it is not permissible to give a dropped ball restart in situations where the referee cannot decide which team has possession. The players quickly identify referee indecision, and will use it to their advantage.

To emphasize the point: MAKE A DECISION, REFEREE!…


Goal keeper grabbed the ball in his hands, all players were taking back their positions. An opponent player intentially pushed the goal keeper. Goal keeper was started to protested. Match referee was not absolutely sure about the fact. He came in D area and showed the Yellow card to goal keeper. Every one was stunned. Goal keeper came out from D area along with football during protestion. One player, asked the referee to concern with assistant referee. Assistant referee told the actual fact to match referee. Then he took back his decision of yellow card which he showed against goal keeper. And gave the free kick to other team outside the D because goal keeper took the football outside the D in his hands during protestion. Question is that, can a referee withdraw from his wrong decision of Yellow card during the match and if he do that, then if goal keeper during protestion against the wrong decision of referee, come out from D area with the ball in his hands, be punishable?

USSF answer (November 25, 2009):
If the referee had already stopped play for the incident between the goalkeeper and his opponent, then the place where the restart must be taken is the place where the opponent pushed the goalkeeper. That would be a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team. The referee cannot change the location of the restart.…


In a match, one team secured the goal and referee gave goal whistle. Afterwards, he forthwith came to know from the outside persons that actually ball was touched by the player’s hand and then it was entered in goal net. Before start of the game again, referee took back his decision of goal and called the player and showed him “yellow card” as he didn’t reveal this fact. Question is that can a referee take back his decision of goal if he come to know from the public that he has given a wrong decision.

USSF answer (November 25, 2009):
The referee should not accept information from anyone other than his assistant referees or fourth official. However, if the referee had received this information from one of the assistant referees or the fourth official, then, yes, he could deny the goal, caution the player, and restart with a direct free kick from the place where the infringement occurred.…


Attacking player shoots the balls and defending goalie makes save. Goalie prepares to punt ball but referee stops clock (high school game) because of an injured attacking player near the defending goalie. There was no foul called.

What is the proper restart? A punt, drop ball or an Indirect Free Kick?

USSF answer (October 26, 2009):
Under the Laws of the Game the correct restart would be a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play. Under high school rules, the correct restart is an indirect free kick for the defending team (the one in clear possession of the ball) from the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.…


At a free kick when managing the wall for a ceremonial free kick, should the referee pace off the 10 yds or just determine where the 10 yds are and set the wall there? I had been told that the best way was to just determine where 10 yds is and set the wall there (if players were pushing the issue 10 yds could grow). Had a young ref who went to regionals and was told that he should pace off the 10 yds.

Could not find this addressed in the ussf procedures guide.

USSF answer (October 5, 2009):
We had thought this would have been covered in the entry-level referee course.

There are numerous ways to get the ten yards. Each referee must determine which works best for the particular situation. Here are some of the ways to get the correct minimum distance at a free kick — if the kicking team does not make it quite clear that it wants to take a quick free kick.

1. Learn how far ten yards is — radius of the center circle, radius of the penalty arc — and keep it in your mind, asking the players to move back the distance you have determined is correct.
2. Be the “first brick in the wall,” getting there (without walking it off) and instructing the players to be no nearer than your position to the ball.

Under no circumstances may the referee deliberately require the defending team to retire more than the mandatory minimum distance of ten yards. However, ten yards is where the referee says it is (in his or her judgment).…


I was doing an over30 competitive match when the following occurred: White player is dribbling in the penalty area when he begins to lose his balance. Orange fullback sees the white player is beginning to fall and pretends to be tripped by the player and falls pinning the attacker under him. I blew the whistle and awarded a penalty because in my opinion the fullback simulated a fall in order to knock the attacker to the ground and fell on top so the attacker was completely taken out of the play. Of course the orange team was upset and felt I penalized their defender for falling. Could I call this a trip because the action of the fullback caused the attacker to go to ground? Unfair challenge? Or simulation (misconduct IFK)? I don’t know what to call it but it certainly looked like a foul to me.

Your thoughts please

USSF answer (September 24, 2009):
We seem to have at least two infringements here and they must be dealt with in the order in which they occurred. We also need to remember that the referee must base the restart on the infringement that occurred first, rather than the more serious, unless the infringements occur simultaneously, which was not the case described here.

If we accept your description, this is the order in which the infringements occurred:
Infringement the first: The defender simulates a fall.
Infringement the second: The defender then trips the attacker.
Infringement the third: The defender then holds the attacker down.

The correct action here would be to call the simulation and caution the defender for unsporting behavior, for which the restart is an indirect free kick from the spot of the infringement. While the defender did indeed trip the attacker and then hold him down, these acts occurred after the simulation and cannot be punished — unless, of course, you applied the advantage for the simulation and then called the second infringement, the tripping. This would allow you to caution the defender for the simulation and also award a penalty kick for the tripping in the penalty area.

Based on the description, the referee could take either path, depending on what he felt the game “needed” under the circumstances (temperature of the match, behavior of the players, etc.). In addition, there is a third option — caution for the simulation, indirect free kick or penalty kick restart based on which offense is the basis for the stoppage, but then a second caution for the subsequent misconduct of holding the opponent down — which results in a dismissal (red card) for the second yellow.…


There is free kick outside the penalty area. defensive wall set inside the box. While defense setting their wall, defender push down an opponent into the ground inside the box at near wall. Referee changes the free kick call to the PK call. Is this a correct procedure?

If not what would you do?

USSF answer (September 9, 2009):
It is certainly not correct (or allowed under the Laws of the Game) to change the restart because of something that occurs when the ball is out of play. The defender should have been cautioned or sent off, depending on the nature of the push to the ground, and the restart should have been the original free kick.…


I have a question for you that I came across while reviewing “Laws of the Game”. In Law 17 “The Corner Kick” it says “In the event of any other infringement (other than the ones listed): the kick is to be retaken”. Does that mean that if a foul is committed by defense before the ball is touched, goes into the goal or goes out of bounds the corner kick is to be retaken?

USSF answer (September 2, 2009):
No, that is not accurate. All possibilities for infringements AFTER the ball is in play were covered in the preceding bullet points. This section refers to infringements that occur before the ball has been kicked and moved into play. That would be misconduct by one team or the other.

The same principle applies to all restarts: If something untoward occurs before the ball has been put into play and (1) the ball is subsequently put into play before the referee can stop it or (2) the ball is not put into play, nothing can change the original restart, which must be completed in order for the game to continue.…