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2006 Part 4

Your question:
Situation: A blue team attacker is guilty of an offside infraction, and the AR puts up his flag to signal the offside. Since the infraction occurred near the far touchline away from the AR, the CR has his back to the AR and does not notice that the ARÕs flag is straight up. The red team kicks the ball out, and the CR awards a throw-in to the blue (attacking) team. The blue team quickly takes the throw in while the AR is still standing on the far side of the field unnoticed by the CR.
Question: Should the AR (a) put down his flag after the blue team throw-in or (b) keep his flag raised until he is seen by the CR or the ball clears the red teamsÕ half of the field?

USSF answer (December 4, 2006):
The assistant referee should keep the flag raised in this case–and the referee should be ashamed not to have maintained communication (eye contact) with the assistant. In addition, the AR at the other end of the field should also be ashamed to have missed the flag and not “mirrored” it to the referee.

Your question:
IÕm hoping you can help resolve a topic thatÕs gotten much discussion on a number of referee forums as of late. In the 2006 USSF Advice to Referees (ATR), item 11.3 #3 states that a player can become onside when ÒAn opponent intentionally plays or gains possession of the ballÓ. The question that has been raised is that playing the ball and possession of the ball are conspicuously separate items in this clause and seem to be two different things. Therefore, what is required to rule that a player has Ògained possessionÓ. Is contact with the ball specifically a requirement? Consider the following scenario.

A red attacker is in an offside position near the center of the field (obviously in the attacking half) when the ball is kicked by a teammate from the defending half deep into the attacking half. The ball comes to a complete stop just outside the PA. The attacker knowing he is offside makes no play or chase on the ball and the opposing kicker comes and stands over the ball without touching it. The keeper stands there for some time (for argument sake, figure 3-4 seconds) until finally the attacker that had been offside makes a charge at the ball to force the keeper to make a play. Can the keeper be determined to have gained possession and therefore the attacker is now onside or should the attacker be called for offside?

USSF answer (November 30, 2006):
If there is no physical control of the ball there is no possession. Offside. To force the defender to play the ball, just have an attacker from an onside position start challenging.

As to “conspicuously separate” items, someone will always find (nonexistent) fault when a statement contradicts his or her own opinion.

Your question:
Issuing Cards: I usually center about U12-U16 games in Recreation level, and U12-U13/14 games in comp (with the exception of a forced U15 comp game I had to center).

My real question is this, in the recreation level games, lets say U16, how would you go on about giving a yellow card? I have given cards in Comp games, and only 2 times in Rec level U14 boys games. But in Rec, do you warn once, then warn that you will card, then card? Or just warn, then card? Help!

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
If the offense deserves an immediate caution, you may caution first without any warning. You would temper your decision based on the skill and developmental level of the players. Complete guidance is contained in the USSF publication “Cautions and Cautionable Offenses,” downloadable from the website. A condensed version of the philosophy on cautions is contained in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” and is cited here to help in your decision making:
The Laws of the Game identify seven cautionable offenses (Law 12). These include fairly specific actions (leaving the field without the permission of the referee), very general actions (unsporting behavior), and highly judgmental areas (dissent). In all cases, the referee is expected to evaluate a playerÕs behavior based on several factors:
– Does the act meet the generally accepted and understood meaning of the offense?
– Was the act, even if an offense, trifling?
– Would the issuance of a caution for this misconduct likely have desirable results for game and/or player management?
If the playerÕs act meets the criteria for the offense, is not trifling, and its punishment will have a salutary effect, the caution should be given. Whether the referee should stop play to do so or whether play should be allowed to continue until the next stoppage involves the application of the same advantage concept that is used to decide whether to stop play for a foul.

Every caution must be given for one and only one of the seven reasons listed in Law 12. Player behavior, of course, may involve several forms of misconduct at the same time and the referee must decide whether to caution each one separately (in which case, the second caution must also be followed by a send-off and display of the red card) or to issue a single caution for the total behavior. If the latter is chosen, the referee must decide which specific reason in the Law will be reported as the basis for the caution. In either case, however, the referee should fully describe in the game report all misconduct the player has committed in addition to the misconduct for which the caution was given.

Whether a caution is “mandatory” or “discretionary” is often discussed among referees, but the use of these terms tends to obscure the primary issues central to handling misconduct and should therefore generally be avoided. The Laws of the Game require that the referee further decide whether the misconduct is not trifling and that the caution will result in a desirable change in player conduct. The refereeÕs judgment (discretion) is a critical element in deciding, for example, whether what a player has just said or done is dissent within the meaning of Law 12 and guidance from USSF (see the USSF memorandum on “Misconduct Involving Language/Gestures,” dated March 14, 2003). If the referee decides that it is “dissent,” then the offense must be considered cautionable, but this does not mean that the yellow card must be displayed.

The referee must then make a second decisionÑin this particular case involving this particular player at this particular point in the match, based on the way the match has proceeded so farÑas to whether or not the dissent is trifling and whether or not displaying the card would have a positive effect on this player’s behavior and the behavior of the other players in the game. Each caution must be approached in this way as a combination of mandatory and discretionary elements. In no case may a caution (or send-off) be delayed beyond the next restart. It must be given as soon as play is stopped, even if this means preventing a team from taking advantage of a quick restart (if the kick is taken, it must be called back and not taken until the delayed card is shown). No alteration of this procedure is permitted.

We might add that there are a few cautions for which, unless the action is really blatant and cynical, it is generally better to warn a player first before giving the card for persistent infringement (else how is the player to know how many offenses the referee may consider “persistent”) or for delaying the restart of play (else how is the player to know when the “extra” time he is taking to restart is riding the edge of impermissible delay). However, such warnings must never include any “if you do X, I will caution” sort of threat, as this is counterproductive, restricts the referee’s flexibility, and sounds foolish.

Your question:
Should a referee threaten a coach with ejection for interfering with his ability to “call” the gameÊwithout explaining how that interference occurred? Are coaches allowed to yell hands or offsides during a game? Are not cautions and warnings to be issuedÊat the moment of the offence or next stoppage of play so as to be in context?ÊÊIs a ref allowed to declare the game a forfeit after ejecting a coach?

This involves aÊU 13 Rec league semi final game?

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
Referees should never threaten anyone with anything; that is a poor management technique and can only lead to greater problems. The referee should present the coach or other antagonist with options, but not with threats. Nor must the referee explain any calls to the coach or any other team official. Any necessary details will be contained in the match report.

Coaches and other team officials are allowed to behave responsibly. If, in the opinion of the referee, they behave irresponsibly, they can be expelled from the field and its environs. Constantly yelling “hands” and “offside” is a form of intimidation towards the referee and might be considered irresponsible behavior by the thin-skinned referee. Nor should referees be cautioning (or showing any cards to) coaches unless it is specifically required by the rules of the competition.

No referee can ever declare any game a forfeit. The referee can only declare a game abandoned or terminated and then provide full details in the match report to the competition authority, the only body competent to make a decision on the result of the game.

Your question:
Sometimes kids do the strangest things – and I was not sure of the answer.

Boys U9. The GK of Team A makes a save in front of his goal mouth. All of Team B’s field players, anticipating a long punt, retreat into their own half of the field (U9 appropriate size field). The Team A GK the throws the ball in a high, arching manner toward the top of of PA. He runs under the ball, catches it in the air (it never strikes the ground); and, while inside the PA and under 6 seconds, punts the ball deep into Team B’s territory.

According to ATR 12.16, second sentence “Possession is given up if, while throwing the ball into the air, it is allowed to strike the ground.” However, the next sentence indicates “… handling extends from the shoulder to tips of the fingers.

So, is the GK guilty of releasing the ball into play by throwing it in the manner he did, and, therefore guilty of a double touch when he caught it? Or, is the GK still in possession of the ball and permitted to do what he did?

Another element also needs to be addressed. If there were an attacking player standing near the edge of the PA could he attempt to make a play on the ball (as noted in ATR 12.17), or is he guilty of interfering with a GK in possession of the ball?

I must admit that I was bedazzled by the whole thing. Why couldn’t the GK have run to the edge of the PA with the ball tucked under his arm and made my life simple?

I am not entirely sure why I made the call I did, but I called the GK for a doubleÊtouch and awarded an IFK the the opponentsÊinside the PA.ÊÊThe opposingÊcoach agreed that the ball had been released into play. The coach of the GK said he never relinquished possession.

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
As long as the goalkeeper is simply throwing the ball into the air, not allowing it to hit the ground, and the time remains within the 6 seconds limitation, what does it really matter how far he is throwing the ball? ÊIt is not being unfairly withheld from challenge by the opponents and we cannot see what unfair advantage the ‘keeper is gaining from such a long throw. In fact, one could argue that the ‘keeper is at a higher risk of losing possession by failing to make the catch.

The answer to the second question is equally simple–no opponent is allowed to challenge for the ball while it is merely being thrown into the air while retaining possession and in the process of releasing the ball into play.

Your question:
There seems to be two different opinions in our state on where the proper position is for the AR when the ball is to be kicked on the far side corner. One opinion is that the referee should stand directly behind the corner flag, the other that the AR may take a few steps in on the goal line to have a Òbetter lookÓ when the ball comes into play. Could you render your opinion and is there a right and wrong position for AR corner kicks, far side?

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
The correct procedure for the assistant referee at a corner kick on the referee’s side of the field is given in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials”:
Assistant Referee
– Moves to the near corner and takes position on the goal line behind the flag
– Signals only if referee makes eye contact to ask for assistance
– If the ball passes out of play and immediately returns to the field, signals with a vertical flag until acknowledged by the referee, then points flag 45 degrees downward toward the near corner
– Steps upfield from goal line to avoid pointing the flag off the field
– Following the kick, recovers to the offside position as quickly as possible

Your question:
Although this seems to be a very basic question, when I went to research it, I could not easily find anything directly on point.

Here was the scenario I had in a recent U-14 game. Player takes a throw-in directly down the touchline. It hits the line and then bounces out of touch. My training has been that the line becomes part of the area which it contains – so that from the point of view of a throw-in (ball coming from out of field of play into the field of play), the line is out of the field of play. Therefore, the whole of the ball must pass over the whole of the line for the ball to “enter the field of play”. Therefore, I ruled that the throw-in be taken over since the ball had never entered the field of play. Of course, the opposite team’s coach (who was a few yards from the play on that side of the field) said “But it hit the line, then went out of play! It should be a throw-in the other way”.

Please clarify who was correct.

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
The ball is in play from a throw-in as soon as it breaks the plane of the touchline–and has been released by the thrower. There is no need for the whole of the ball to break the plane of the line. In this case the coach was absolutely correct: the throw-in should have been awarded to the team that did not take the throw-in.

Your question:
Have looked in the LOTG/Advice/Guide to Proced/past Memorandums and cannot find the source for this:
While following the ball to the goal line, it is quite often impossible to keep up with the ball, especially at higher levels of play….the ball simply rockets across the goal line, while the AR is 20-30yds out or so with 2nd to last defender.

Everyone knows that it’s a goal kick. The Center ref often announces it verbally and with the hand signal…but must the Center wait until the AR runs all the way to the goal line in situations like this….which is a major waste of precious playing time for players while it holds up the Center Ref’s signaling too—if they are to make the signal at same time….

or, should the Center simply go ahead with his/her signal, ignoring the fact that the AR hasn’t gotten down there yet….pretty much ignoring the whole process?

Common sense, our Law 18, and common practice for many in this situation is to stop advancing toward the goal line and provide the goal kick signal…usually in tandem with the Center….then to proceed to the appropriate position for the restart. But, if already close to the goal line when this happens, to quickly move to goal line before giving the signal.

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
Assuming a standard pregame in accordance with the Guide to Procedures and other traditional guidelines, the AR has primary responsibility for “his” end of the touchline and “his” side of the goal line. If the ball crosses these parts of the perimeter lines, the AR is expected to signal. If the referee sees no reason to disagree, the AR’s signal may in fact be the only indication of the restart.

We all understand that, as play becomes more skilled and competitive, the AR may find himself caught out of position (though we should all strive to be at the goal line when the ball crosses it). Should this be the case, the AR has two choices–stop wherever he is when the ball leaves the field and give the appropriate signal or continue on to the goal line and then signal. Common sense suggests that the AR does the latter if he is close to the goal line but does the former when he is farther away. Notice that these choices do not include “doing nothing” beyond expecting the referee to signal. Do not assume that “everyone knows” anything … and even if the referee does know what the correct restart should be, he is (or should be) waiting to see what the AR does.

So, if caught a couple of yards off the goal line when the ball crosses it for a goal kick or corner kick, continue on to the goal line and signal the correct restart. If caught more than, say, 3-4 yards up field, stop there, signal, make eye contact with the referee to ensure the signal was seen and understood, and then take up the correct position for the restart.

Your question:
A tournament semi-final match ends 0-0 and goes to penalty kicks by rules of the tournament. On one of the penalty kicks, the goalkeeper dives to his right and stops the ball, clearly gaining possession as the ball rests on the goal line, clearly not completely over the goal line. As the keeper rises to his feet with the ball in his hands, he steps slightly backward so that all of the ball is over the goal line. Is this counted as a successful penalty kick for the player who took the kick, or does the penalty kick end when the keeper has clear possession of a stationary ball that is not over the goal line?

Same situation, except the penalty kick deflects off the keeper without the ball crossing the goal line, the ball goes high in the air, hits the ground about 20 feet away from the goal, but due to extreme spin the ball bounces over the goal line into the goal. Is the penalty kick successful or did the penalty kick end when the keeper deflected the ball away from the goal?

Same situation, but when the keeper deflects the ball, the ball goes hard back to the kicker, deflects off his knee, and goes into the goal. Is the kick successful or did the penalty kick end at some point during this exchange?

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
The penalty kick or kick from the penalty mark is not completed until the referee declares it so, and the referee should not declare the kick to be completed if there is any possibility that it is still in play.

In other words, if, in the opinion of the referee, the motion of the ball had stopped completely and clearly, then it makes no difference where the ‘keeper carried the ball. If the ball had not stopped, then the kick was still in progress and a goal could still be scored, even if this was caused solely by an error of the goalkeeper.

The answer to your third question is easier: In kicks from the penalty mark, the kicker may not play the ball again after kicking it. Nor may any other member of the kicker’s team play the ball in any way after it has been kicked.

Your question:
A question has come up in an international referee’s forum about the following situation:
A referee mistakenly signals the end of the game ten minutes early, probably by three short blasts on his whistle and pointing to the center spot. When the mistake is pointed out to him, he chooses not to restart, but rather to file a complete report to the competition authority. As a result, the game must be replayed.

Participants in the forum are of two minds. One group points to Law 5 and the fact that a referee cannot change his decision once there is another restart or he has terminated the match. This group feels that the whistle and signal constitute termination.

The second group believes that, if he wanted to, the referee could have determined, upon learning of his mistake (and so long as the referee team and the competing teams were still present), that it was an inadvertent whistle and restarted with a dropped ballÊfrom the point of the game where it was stopped. In this view, it was an error, not an actual termination that occurred.

Is there one correct answer to this situation, or maybe two? Thanks in advance for your answer.

USSF answer (November 17, 2006):
This excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” should answer your question:
If the referee ends play early, then the teams must be called back onto the field and the remaining time must be played as soon as the error is detected. The halftime interval is not considered to have begun until the first period of play is properly ended. If the ball was out of play when the period was ended incorrectly, then play should be resumed with the appropriate restart (throw-in, goal kick, etc.). If the ball was in play, then the correct restart is a dropped ball where the ball was when the referee incorrectly ended play (subject to the special circumstances in Law 8).

If a period of play (first half or first overtime period) was ended prematurely and this fact was not discovered until the next period of play had been started, the referee will complete the match using the correct length of time for the period of play as prescribed by the competition authority and then include full details of the error in the match report.

Your question:
I just finished the recently released playoff rules for our upcoming league playoff games. I am concerned about the method of determining a winner in the championship game. I have pasted the rule below directly from the website.

1. Final games tied at the end of regulation play two full ten minute overtimes switching goals at the end of the first period of overtime. NO SUDDEN DEATH/GOLDEN GOAL.
2. Final games tied at the end of the two overtime periods will play two five minute overtime periods with the regulation number of players on the field. NO SUDDEN DEATH/GOLDEN GOAL. During these overtime periods – ALL PLAYERS ARE FIELD PLAYERS – NO player (goalkeeper) may use their hands. The exception to the “No Hands Rule” is in the event of a violation resulting in a penalty shot, a player may be designated as the goalkeeper and may use his hands during the penalty shot only If there is no score on the penalty shot, play will continue without the use of hands.
3. Final games tied at the end of the two five minute “No Hands” overtime period will result in co-champions.

I am of the opinion that this No Keeper/No Hands rule violates the Laws of the Game, as it is required that one player from each team be designated as a goalie. I have decided that if asked, I will turn down any assignment to call a game that is to be played under these rules.

My question is, am I correct that this rule is contrary to the Laws of the Game? If so can a referee be disciplined by the USSF for calling a game like this? Can the league be disciplined for instituting this rule? The league is associated with the USSF through US Youth Soccer.

USSF answer (November 7, 2006):
A referee cannot be disciplined for refereeing a game in accordance with the rules of the competition. Simply report the matter to the state association and then forget about it. It is up to the state association to make sure its leagues and tournaments are conducted in accordance with FIFA Laws of the Game. As you point out, the Laws state that each team MUST have a goalkeeper.

It’s always possible that this decision by the USYS has not made its way down to the local tournaments yet

Your question:
As part of my referee training, I have been taught that, particularly in youth soccer, I can consider sanctioning a coach if he is abusive to his players, by words or actions.

But can a player be considered to bring the game into disrepute for being abusive to their coach?

I recently reffed a U12B select game. The coach did a fair amount of criticizing and lamenting the actions of his players, but nothing that I considered even close to excessive, and none of the players seem to be seriously affected by his words. One player, however, eventually had enough of his coach’s constant criticism of him, and told the coach to “shut up”.

After my initial thought of mild amusement at the irony of a player giving the coach a little of what he was getting, I began to contemplate whether the player can bring the game into disrepute in this manner, and if so, what level of words or actions would be required to consider sanction?

USSF answer (October 31, 2006):
The intelligent referee will generally disregard coaching comments, unless they become openly disrespectful of the game and of the referee. In that case, an admonition to the coach is in order, noting that if this activity continues, the coach will be expelled for irresponsible behavior– an offense for which the referee may expel the coach or any other team official in the team area. (No cards to be shown, unless the rules of the competition permit or require it.)

When coaches begin to abuse their players, this is irresponsible behavior and the referee must act immediately.

Proactive steps such as the admonition of the coach will usually prevent players who become disgusted with their coach’s behavior from acting out and thus becoming subject to punishment themselves.

If the player does in fact act as you described, this is at least in part because you did not do your job correctly. However, if the language was abusive, rather than simply unsporting behavior, the only thing to do is to send the player off for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures.

As to what bringing the game into disrepute means in the normal course of the game, this answer of September 7, 2006, should give you all the information you need: “Bringing the game into disrepute ” means doing something that is totally counter the spirit of the game, which is meant to be played fairly and in a sporting manner.Ê Such acts show a lack of respect for the game, e. g., aggressive attitude, inflammatory behavior, deliberately kicking the ball into one’s own goal or taunting.

Your question:
This question is related to what is the proper position for a center referee during active play. I have looked at the Power Point presentation and re-read the Guide to Procedures that are available on the website and don’t see advice for the exact scenario I am concerned with. The item that is closest to the situation is a throw-in by the attacking team on the AR’s side of the field. This issue came up during a U-19 Boys match. The coach of the attacking team thought his attacker was fouled, and was very adamant I was not in the proper position to see the foul. The apparent foul occurred with-in a few yards of the AR, and the AR did not believe a foul occurred. The attacker did have an ankle injury during the play, and when play was stopped for the injury the coach was very vocal in his displeasure with my position during the play, and the lack of a call.Ê

The scenario is the attacker has the ball near the touch-line on the AR’s side of the field, moving towards the end-line, about 20 yards from the end-line with a single defender. The other players are in the area of the penalty box, or are trailing the play by 20 or more yards. I was trailing the play by 4 or 5 yards, on the back side of the goal so I could keep the play, the players in the penalty area, and my AR all in view, as well as avoid being in the way of the play. I believe this is the proper position for the situation, but am willing to be told otherwise, as this position is a fair distance from where the ball was.

USSF answer (October 31, 2006):
Lesson the First: Coaches are in the game solely to promote only one thing, the interests of themselves and their team. Put little credence in their complaints.

Lesson the Second: If the referee didn’t see it and the assistant referee didn’t see it (or the fourth official, if one is assigned), it didn’t happen, no matter how much the coach or anyone else may complain.

Lesson the Third: As to positioning,remember the “Magic Formula” described in the PowerPoint presentation, x = a + b + c. It is there for a purpose, to show you where to be and when and why to be there.

Lesson the Fourth: No matter how thoughtful the position, things can still happen on the field that we (all officials) will miss–live with it. Our job in positioning is to OPTIMIZE (not guarantee) the likelihood that we will see what needs to be seen. If you want guarantees, go into something more certain–like options trading.

Lesson the Fifth: When the ball is being played on the far touchline, it would be appropriate to be more to the center of the field based on what you say your position was. You were too far away from play. You must be in the position you need to be in to get the call right.

Your question:
Is there a distance requirement on how far back from the touch lineÊa thrower may throw the ball in? For instance may a thrower throw the ball in from 10 yards back from the touch line at a point perpendicular to the spot where the ball went out?

USSF answer (October 31, 2006):
The correct answer will be found in the Advice to Referees:
Although the throw-in is to be taken “from the point where [the ball] crossed the touch line,” this requirement is satisfied if the restart occurs within approximately one yard (one meter) of this location, farther upfield or downfield or back from the touch line. A throw-in taken beyond this limit is an infringement of Law 15.

Your question:
A question came up in a game about the proper sequence in the order of issuing cards and I can’t find the immediate answer in the guide of officals etc.
The question is: Is it proper to issue an ejection first then a caution to the second player in an incident? The incident Player A Team A elbowed to the face player B Team B. Player B retaliated with a push to player A. Please advise.

USSF answer (October 31, 2006):
You first issue the card that is most needed to defuse the situation and prevent further escalation. In the absence of a need to defuse a tense situation, the normal order is to issue a card first to the player who committed the first misconduct and to follow in the order in which the misconduct behaviors occurred. You then record both or issue one and record, issue the second and record.…

2006 Part 3

Your question:
What is the “official” policy on medi-alert bracelets and knecklaces? Further, what is the policy on the rubber message bracelets (i.e. Livestrong, Breast Cancer, MIA, etc.)?USSF answer (September 29, 2006):
These answers from the past should cover your questions:
1. September 29, 2005, with reference to medicalert and other sorts of bracelets
As we responded to a query in May 2003, no referee should refuse to allow a medicalert bracelet to be worn if it is properly taped. Under the provisions of Law 4 (Players Equipment), referees are required to ensure that no player wears equipment that is dangerous to him-/herself or to any other participant. This means that sometimes we have to sacrifice the good of one player for the good of all other players.

We have responded to questions about jewelry and other non-standard equipment many times. We always state that while jewelry is not allowed, there are two permissible exceptions to the ban on jewelry: medicalert jewelry that can guide emergency medical personnel in treating injured players and certain religious items that are not dangerous and not likely to provide the player with an unfair advantage. Anything that is decorative or possibly dangerous to the player or to others is not permitted.

For further information on the requirements of the Law for player safety, see the USSF National Program for Referee Development’s position papers of 7 March 2003 on “Player’s Equipment” and 17 March 2003 on “Player Equipment (Jewelry).”

We agree that there would seem to be only one solution to your dilemma, the tennis wristband you suggested yourself, with the words MEDIC ALERT on it. The U. S. Soccer Federation cannot give blanket permission for any item of non-standard equipment. This band would still have to be inspected and approved by the referee on each game in which your son plans to participate. If the referee does not approve the band, because it does not appear to be safe for all participants, then your son will not be able to play. As stated in Law 4, the decision of the referee is final.

Explain the facts of your son’s problems to the league and show them this note. We would hope that the league will show common sense and approve the wrist band being worn. A referee would not make anyone take a wrist band off because it was dangerous so–what difference does it make in this case if it is tape or a wrist band?

2. November 19, 2004, with reference to any “message” bracelets. No jewelry, no adornments. These bands are loose and could be very dangerous.

Your question:
You may have answered this one already but I¹m not totally sure.

I¹d like to distill this question down to its simplest form, without reading a whole let extra into it. It¹s been the source of a long debate in some different discussion forums, and we have at least one official who is holding fast to his personal interpretation in the face of an overwhelming number of officials who think differently.

In looking at ATR 12.20 as it is worded in the August, 2006 edition, a debate has arisen over this issue.

I contend, along with a large number of my colleagues, that if a ball is deliberately passed back to a teammates goalkeeper he/she may not pick it up with their hands. This applies whether the ball is passed back to the keeper while he/she is already in the penalty area, or if the keeper receives the deliberate pass back outside the penalty area and then proceeds to dribble the ball back into the penalty area and pick it up once it is in the PA. In either case, I believe that the ATR is telling us that ³by the book² this infraction should be treated as a technical foul for which the attacking team would be awarded an indirect free kick at the spot where the keeper picked up the ball (subject, of course, to the rules regarding restarts for IFK infractions that occur inside the goal area).

Others say that it has to be passed back to where the keeper can play it with their hands in order to result in the IFK, so receiving a pass back from a teammate outside the PA and dribbling it back into the penalty area to pick it us is not a technical foul. Unfortunately, the way that ATR 12.20 is written, a case could be made for either conclusion.

Can you set the record straight on this one?

USSF answer (September 29, 2006):
There are always soccer lawyers who will try to twist the written word to fit the meaning they want.

Advice 12.20 says:
A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he or she touches the ball with the hands directly after it has been deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate. The requirement that the ball be kicked means only that it has been played with the foot. The requirement that the ball be “kicked to” the goalkeeper means only that the play is to or toward a place where the keeper can legally handle the ball. The requirement that the ball be “deliberately kicked” means that the play on the ball is deliberate and does not include situations in which the ball has been, in the opinion of the referee, accidentally deflected or misdirected. The goalkeeper has infringed the Law by handling the ball after initially playing the ball in some other way (e.g., with the feet). This offense, like any other, may be ignored for the moment if it is trifling or doubtful (see Advice 5.6).

NOTE: (a) The goalkeeper is permitted to dribble into the penalty area and then pick up any ball played legally (not kicked deliberately to the goalkeeper or to a place where the goalkeeper can easily play it) by a teammate or played in any manner by an opponent. (b) This portion of the Law was written to help referees cope with timewasting tactics by teams, not to punish players who are playing within the Spirit of the Game.

A place where the goalkeeper may “play” the ball does not mean where the goalkeeper may play it with the hands. It should be clear from 12.20 that the goalkeeper is not permitted to dribble into the penalty area a ball deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate and then pick it up. That is not permitted under any circumstances. Of course, the goalkeeper may dribble (“play”) any ball played toward him or her with the feet. The infringement does not occur until the ‘keeper plays the ball with the hands.

Tell your dissenting colleagues to get a life.

Your question:
Player A collides with Player B, and in the process Player A is inadvertently hit in the head by Player B. Player A falls to the ground but never loses consciousness. Play is stopped and the trainer is called. Player A is taken off the field. The referee then informs the coach for Player A that she cannot re-enter the game at all based on their assessment of her health, even though a certified trainer for the school says that she is clear to play (without symptoms). Is this allowed? According to what I’ve read about Rule 5, the referee is not liable for any injury suffered by a player, spectator or official during the course of the game, but is obvsiouly looking out for the health of any player.

USSF answer (September 27, 2006):
[NOTE: This answer is a revision of an answer dated September 19, 2006]
In reading this answer, please remember that the U. S. Soccer Federation has no authority over games not played under its aegis, nor over the referees who officiate them.

Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has no direct authority to prevent a player from participating for unspecified reasons. While the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players, it does not give the referee the right to prevent the further participation of a player who has been treated for injury and cleared to play by a trainer or medical doctor. The only possible reason would be that player was still bleeding or had blood on his or her uniform.

If there is a trainer and/or medically trained person officially affiliated with the team or the competition authority (including, where relevant, the tournament), the referee should defer to that person’s decision as to whether a player’s return to the field following a serious injury would be safe. In the absence of such a person, the referee retains the authority under the Law to determine if a player is still seriously injured and, if necessary, to stop play and to require that player to again leave the field.  The Law does not allow the referee to prevent the return of the player to the field, but once play resumes with that player on the field, the referee reverts to his or her original duty to stop play if, in the referee’s opinion, the player is seriously injured.  As always, the referee must use common sense in making such a potentially controversial decision and must include full details in the match report.

Caveat: The referee should exercise intelligence and common sense when dealing with someone who claims medical expertise but who does not meet the requirement of being officially approved (for example, comes down from the stands or from among the spectators).

Your question:
Your question: A substitute for the defending team enters the field and handles the ball just as it is struck by an opposing player. What does the referee do if, in his or her opinion, the ball would have gone into the goal if it had not been handled by the substitute?

USSF answer (September 25, 2006):
No matter how unsporting his act, the substitute has not committed an offense which meets the requirements for a direct sending off under Law 12. Thus the restart in this case may only be an indirect free kick, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8. Why? Because when a substitute has entered the field without permission, the only possible restart is an indirect free kick for the illegal entry, and this is the offense which interfered with a goal or goal-scoring opportunity. No other restart may be considered. The substitute would be cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without permission. The referee might also caution the substitute for unsporting behavior (showing a lack of respect for the game by bringing the game into disrepute through his cynical interference with play). Because the substitute had just been cautioned for illegally entering the field, this would be the substitute’s second caution of the game and he would therefore also be sent off and shown the red card. The substitute could NOT be sent off for preventing a goal or a goalscoring opportunity, because he was not a player.

The International F. A. Board has made it very clear that, regardless of what a substitute does after illegally entering the field, the restart is controlled by the illegal entry, not by whatever the substitute did after illegally entering the field. This applies whether the substitute simply tackles the ball away, handles the ball, or acts in any violent way against an opponent with or without the ball. In the case of (a) an additional cautionable offense committed after the illegal entry, the referee should caution the substitute and show the yellow card, immediately following the yellow card with a red card to signal dismissal; or in the case of (b) violent conduct, the referee should send off the substitute and show the red card without the necessity of first showing a yellow card for the illegal entry (but full details must be included in the game report).

This situation illustrates the need for referees and assistant referees and fourth officials of youth and adult games to maintain very close vigilance over where substitutes are. They must be restricted to the team area and not allowed to warm up anywhere but behind their teams.

Your question:
Two blue attacking players are standing in an offside position. A blue teammate passes a ball over the second to last red defender towards the goal. The two blue players run in the direction of the ball. A fourth blue player, who was onside at the moment the ball was passed, runs past the two teammates, plays the ball, and fires it into the goal. As the assistant referee, at what point do you signal offside?
A. When the ball was kicked over the second to last red defender
B. When the ball was touched by the fourth blue attacker
C. When you saw the two blue players running in the direction of the ball
D. There is no offside infringement

USSF answer (September 25, 2006):
This quote from an August 2006 USSF memorandum should be helpful:
The proper interpretation and application of Law 11 have been evolving in recent years. To this end, the International Board has provided detailed definitions of the ways in which a player may become involved in active play (Law 11, International Board Decision 2). On August 17, 2005, a Circular from the FIFA further clarified some of the confusion regarding whether “touching the ball” was a requirement for “interfering with play” (emphasis added):
– A player in an offside position may be penalized before playing or touching the ball if, in the opinion of the referee, no other teammate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball.
– If an opponent becomes involved in the play and if, in the opinion of the referee, there is potential for physical contact, the player in the offside position shall be penalized for interfering with an opponent.

If the player who had been in the onside position when the ball was played gets there first, then there is no offside.

Your question:
[Note: This question has been abridged to be more readily understandable.]
The Law states the ball has to be within the corner arc, this is ambiguous. What does this mean?

Does it mean that a portion of the ball can be outside the corner arc as long as the circumference of the ball is over the top of the line or touching the plane of the line? Is this still considered to be inside the corner arc, even though the ball is not in physical contact with the line? Or does it mean that the ball has be physically touching a blade of white grass to be considered in the corner arc?

I have read the LAWs of the GAME and advice to the referees 2005 and 2006 several times and discussed it with highly experienced refs and it is not clear, at least not to me.

I have looked at the illustrations in the FIFA LAWS and the ADVICE booklets. The illustrations for corner arc appear to match the illustrations for ball out of play (touchline and goal line), goal area for goal kicks and illustration for a goal scored and the foot over the WHOLE line for illegal throw in. Each of these illustrations and all the situations I know of in soccer always consider the WHOLE ball and the WHOLE LINE.

If the corner arc is different, please explain why this different ruling is logical or makes sense in the game?

If I said a corner kick must be inside the corner arc area would I be correct? If so does that mean it has to touch the line of the corner arc or the touchline or goal line or just the corner arc?

USSF answer (September 20, 2006):
Short answer: At a corner kick the ball must be inside the arc, which means it may not rest outside the arc and thus simply break the plane of the line(s).

Long answer: Putting the ball into play from a corner kick is quite different from judging the ball to be either in or out of play over a boundary line. These are two different concepts and are covered in several different Laws. There is absolutely no ambiguity in Law 17.

Law 9 tells us that the ball is out of play when it has wholly crossed the goal line or touch line whether on the ground or in the air or when play has been stopped by the referee, and that the ball is in play at all other times. That obviously has nothing to do with restarts.

Law 17 requires the ball to be “placed inside the corner arc.” If it is on the ground outside the arc, it is not inside the arc, no matter that it may break the plane of that arc.

The requirement is not quite the same for goal kicks, at which the ball may simply break the plane of the line to be ready to put into play. Why? Because Law 16 requires only that the ball be kicked from any point within the goal area. Law 15 does not deal with the line and when the ball is in play with regard to the line, as the ball may still be in the hands of the thrower as it crosses the line and enters the field before it has been released into play.

As to enforcing the placement, although we have now made clear what the Law technically says about ball placement on a corner kick, the practical referee question must always be, “so what?”  Consider an incorrect placement of the ball as a trifling offense unless it REALLY made a difference.

Your question:
This has been discussed on SOCREF-L twice in the last few weeks. I was quite surprised when several of the experienced referees stated that they would retake the kick if the ball was not properly put in play. I have always thought that if player #1 takes some action with the ball that does not put it in play, then player #2 puts the ball in play when he kicks it directly into the goal. It never occurred to me that player #2 was not allowed to put the ball in play in this situation. If the original restart was an IFK, I would award a goal kick to the defending team. Since others seemed to disagree, I wondered if I was missing something in my reasoning.

USSF answer (September 20, 2006):
If, at an indirect free kick, one player simply touches the ball without moving it and the second player then kicks it straight into the goal, the correct restart is a goal kick. However, if the ball touched any other player on the way into the goal, the goal would be scored.

Your question:
Please clarify when fouls should be called, or not, when the goalie is scrambling for the ball and attacker(s) are trying to kick it into the goal. e.g. sliding into the goalie when trying to get the goal, etc.

USSF answer (September 20, 2006):
If an opponent is challenging the goalkeeper for a ball on the ground, both are allowed to play it fairly. If the goalkeeper has the ball under control, meaning that it is within his or her grasp (which can be nothing more than a finger pinning the ball to the ground or to the body), then the opponent must stop the challenge. Accidents may happen, but they will still be called as a foul against the opponent. If the goalkeeper does not have the ball under control, then the opponent may continue to try to win the ball fairly. In addition, the referee must take full consideration of the age and skill levels of the players.


Your question:
Player A collides with Player B, and in the process Player A is inadvertently hit in the head by Player B. Player A falls to the ground but never loses consciousness. Play is stopped and the trainer is called. Player A is taken off the field. The referee then informs the coach for Player A that she cannot re-enter the game at all based on their assessment of her health, even though a certified trainer for the school says that she is clear to play (without symptoms). Is this allowed? According to what I’ve read about Rule 5, the referee is not liable for any injury suffered by a player, spectator or official during the course of the game, but is obviously looking out for the health of any player.

Answer (September 19, 2006):
In reading this answer, please remember that the U. S. Soccer Federation has no authority over games not played under its aegis, nor over the referees who officiate them.

Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has no direct authority to prevent a player from participating for unspecified reasons. While the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players, it does not give the referee the right to prevent the further participation of a player who has been treated for injury and cleared to play by a trainer or medical doctor. The only possible reason would be that player was still bleeding or had blood on his or her uniform.


Your question:
Last week, I was an AR for a U12 Boy’s Soccer Game. In the 2nd half, after a goal was scored, the keeper took the ball out of the goal and went to toss it to his teammate to kick it off.

In the process, the players that scored the goal took the ball away from the keeper and then bounced it in front of him and celebrated. It was a rude act and went beyond celebrating. They then tossed it for the kick off.

Is this a caution for both players? Does the player who bounced the ball in front of the keeper to be rude deserve more punishment that the other player?

Also, the referee (center) saw this, but did nothing. As an AR, should I raise the flag and say that I believe the players deserve cautions?

Answer (September 13, 2006):
The IFAB, the people who make and amend the Laws of the Game, anticipated your question and made a change in the Laws this year. If you look in the back of the book, you will find the section on “Additional Instructions.” In that section, you will see, under 2. ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR REFEREES, ASSISTANT REFEREES AND FOURTH OFFICIALS
Delaying the restart of play
a new bullet point 6:
Referees must caution players who delay the restart of play by tactics such as:
[followed by a list of five bullet points unchanged from the present text and then]
– provoking a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play

In the Memorandum 2006, the Federation gave the following “USSF Advice to Referees: This new bullet point reflects the results of an experiment approved by the IFAB for certain competitions in 2005. The behavior which is the focus of this instruction includes attempts by a scoring team to take possession of the ball from the opponent’s goal and players who attempt to gain control of the ball at a stoppage, in either case in a manner which, in the opinion of the referee, would provoke the opposing team. Referees should attempt to anticipate and forestall such offenses, saving the caution for the most flagrant cases where the offending player is unwilling to desist in the provocation. If the caution is unavoidable, it must be reported for delaying the restart of play.”

The acts you describe in your question would be covered by this new bullet point. You were correct and the referee was incorrect.


Your question:
At the taking of a corner kick, an attacker runs from the far post to the near post. To get around the keeper, who is standing on the goal line, he goes inside the goal. Is this permissible:
1. If the action takes place prior to the kick?
2. If the action takes places after the ball is in play (i.e. in the air)?
3. If a defender marking the attacker runs into his own keeper as a result of the run by the defender?

I know a player may temporarily cross the boundary lines to get around another player without having been considered off the FOP in terms of Leaving Without Permission, but going in the goal and returning to gain an advantage seems a special case. My inclination is to stop play, caution for UB, and either take the kick (if not taken) or IFK out from the 6 (where attacker left the FOP + special circumstances). Can you give any guidance for this situation?

Re: #3, ignoring the FOP departure, if two teammates run into each other that seems to me to be their own problem.

Answer (September 12, 2006):
It would not be a very clever play, as the possibility for interference with or impeding of the goalkeeper is always there, but the ploy is legal, as long as it is during the course of play and the player who enters the goal does not interfere in ANY way with the goalkeeper. In addition, let us emphasize that in general the player is expected to stay on the field.

And yes, the matter of two teammates running into one another would be their own problem, not the referee’s.


I’m a USSF ref and have a question about when handling the ball by an offensive player in the penalty area rises to the level of a caution being issued.

I was watching a college game. Team A had a throw-in deep in its offensive zone. The throw went into the box and several players from both teams jumped in a attempt to head the all. One of the Team A players while jumping raised his arms over his head and the ball struck one of his arms and then he swatted the ball to the ground. The referee correctly stopped play and awarded a DFK to Team B but he also gave the Team A player a caution. >From my vantage point on the sidelines it didn’t appear that the Team A players was attempting to score by using his hand.

Answer (September 12, 2006):
This applies to games played under the Laws of the Game. Your answer lies in the Additional Instructions for Referees at the end of your book of the Laws:
Cautions for unsporting behavior by deliberately handling the ball
There are circumstances when, in addition to a free kick being awarded, a player must also be cautioned for unsporting behavior, e.g. when a player:
– deliberately and blatantly handles the ball to prevent an opponent gaining possession
– attempts to score a goal by deliberately handling the ball


A fellow referee & I were discussing a call he made during a girls high school game. A defender deliberately kicked the ball with her foot back to the keeper who attempted to play the ball with her foot. The ball glanced off her foot and headed toward the goal line. The keeper ran back and picked up the ball with her hands. The referee allowed play to continue. He and his partner reasoned after the game that because the keeper intended to play the ball with her foot and had actually made contact with the ball that she could then be allowed to pick the ball up with her hands. I disagreed with him and said he should have awarded an IFK to the attacking team.. Your thoughts please.

Answer (September 12, 2006):
The fact that the goalkeeper attempted to play the ball with her foot does not override the fact that the ball was deliberately kicked by a teammate. However, the principle behind the change in the Laws was to prevent time wasting. It appears clear from the situation you describe that there were no timewasting tactics here, so the intelligent referee might decide to overlook this trifling infringement and continue on with the game.


I have received a number of questionsregarding placement of the ball for a corner kick. Something so simple as this has been confounded by me and I have made a probably incorrect assumption. Where this came from I don’t know but it’s stuck in my mind. The Law states inside the corner arc. Q&A and Advice both show diagrams of what is correct and incorrect. I checked the grade 8 slides on the website and found them in agreement with the aforementioned diagrams.

Is the corner arc “different” than any other field marking? Is the ball in contact with the extended plane of the corner arc sufficient to place it in the corner area or is this different? Is this like the ball in or out of play, a goal scored or not, in or out of the penalty area, etc. It’s a matter of inches and semantics and consistency and I may have answered incorrectly so I feel compelled to ask ‘the burning bush” again. If I have made an error I need to get the proper word out to the referees I misinformed.

Answer (September 11, 2006):
This answer of October 21, 2004, has not changed:
It has been clearly stated by the International F. A. Board, the makers of the Laws of the Game, that the ball must be within or physically touch the lines demarcating the corner arc.

The rule the player in your incident refers to applies only to balls being either in play or out of play. In those situations, the ball must simply break the vertical plane of the line to be in play and need not touch the line physically. This does not apply to the corner kick. You will find a diagram on corner kick placement in the IFAB/FIFA publication “Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, which can be downloaded from


Another interesting question: In a recent U18 match, I had a shot that went wide of the goal. The keeper went after the ball, as did a player from the offense as the ball was headed towards the goal line. The goalkeeper subsequently dove to knock the ball over the goal line with his hands while within the penalty area, and in the process, the attacking player tripped over his outstretched arms (since he was in close proximity to play the ball).

It did not appear that the attacking player was “playing” the goalkeepers arms, and the fall was not a violent tackle. Neither player was hurt in the tackle.

Since the ball was driven over the goal line by a member of the defensive team, I awarded a corner kick. I have checked with a few officials, and the results have been mixed. One stated that since the keeper had posession when he touched the ball, I should have issued a DFK for fouling the keeper. Another said that the keeper and the player from the offense both had a fair shot at the ball, and since the offense player did not deliberately kick the keepers arms (in fact, he tripped over them), that it was a “no foul” situation.

I’m looking for some guidance here. From what I have written, what would you suggest is the right restart?

Answer (September 9, 2006):
The goalkeeper establishes possession by controlling the ball with his (or her) hand(s), but deflecting the ball does not establish either control or possession. Merely touching the ball is not enough (keeping in mind the need to judge possession by the age and skill of the players). The ball needs to be held by both hands or trapped between one hand and a surface or held in the outstretched hand.

No foul by either player. The correct decision was the corner kick.


Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions ….. this is an informative and useful website.

My question is: What are the rules and guidelines for regulating referee behavior on and off the field? I know that the rules published by FIFA list the actions that a referee needs to take to govern the game within the rules, but I would assume that there must be some rules that outline acceptable and unacceptable behavior by a referee and referee conduct.

Specifically, is a referee allowed to make comments like ‘this is going to cost you $2 for my time’ when the game is stopped to allow a player to do up their shoe laces? At the time of a player substitution comments are made like ‘I will take onions and tomatoes with this sub’.…

2006 Part 2

Your question:
1. I have been lucky enough to get my hands on one of the 2006 World Cup referee jerseys. I know I cannot wear it in a match (correct me if I am allowed to do so!) under normal circumstances, but could I wear it in the following (unlikely) situation?

One team is in yellow, with their goalkeeper wearing black, and the other team is in blue, with their goalkeeper in red.

This obviously puts me out of choices as far as USSF-approved goes. I would plead exceptional circumstances (even if being assessed) in this situation and use the World Cup jersey if it’s the only thing that doesn’t result in a color conflict.

2. I am aware that USSF allows referees to wear the FIFA Fair Play patch on their uniforms. I would like to wear them, but cannot seem to get hold of any. Is their any way you might be able to assist me in this matter (I would like nine of them if possible please, one for each of my USSF jerseys and one for my World Cup jersey mentioned in the previous question)

USSF answer (June 25, 2006):
1. No, referees are not allowed to wear the 2006 WC jersey for any game affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation. The 2006 WC jersey does not follow the uniform guidelines. As to goalkeeper and team uniforms, the Law was changed in 2005: field players and goalkeepers must change, not the referee. (But use common sense in such cases.)

2. We have no idea where you will find the FIFA Fair Play patch, but its wear is permitted, following the guidelines in the answer of June 2, 2006.

Your question:
OK…I am a third year referee in need of some advice. In a boys recreation match (would be U-14 in travel) I did a while back, physical play was the dominating factor used when reffing the match. You could tell that these boys wanted to play scrappy. I even had to use the red card for a player who recieved two yellow cards. In the first instance where I issued a yellow, should I have given another warning in addition to the ones I had already given him? Or, would you call the yellow card to ensure that you have control of the match and to let players know where you stand on physical play?

USSF answer (June 25, 2006):
By the time players are 13 years old they should understand what a caution and a warning are. If you have given a clear warning that this sort of play or misconduct must stop, then no further warning is necessary. We are not on the field to be nice guys, but to maintain order in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the Laws. If a player is not following those, then the referee must step in with whatever measures are just and right for the safety of the players and the integrity of the game.

In this regard, there are two things to remember: First, all decisions about what action to take (i. e., the severity level of the response) regarding misconduct are at the core of the referee’s responsibility to manage the match and are specific to the match–in other words, no easy formulas. Second, USSF has provided some assistance to referees in this area (see the position paper on cautions and the memorandum on second cautions, both downloadable from the US Soccer website).

Your question:
It has been many years since I last played international soccer for my high school. At that time there were no yellow or red cards ever issued. I do not ever remember a player ordered off the field.

The last game the U.S.A played Italy June 17, 2006, the referee issued three red cards. The first to an Italian player then two more red cards to the American team.  The Italian player deserved to get the Red Card and ordered off the field, but the two American players did not deserve Red Cards and ordered off the field. The referee took offence to a gesture by the player and was given a Red Card, and not allowed to play the next game for the U.S.A. Where can I read more information on those cards?

Next, I did not know that yellow cards, or Red Cards carried over to the next game. How long will they be carried on for. The U.S.A Team was playing with four yellow cards. At that rate we will no longer have a U.S. A. World Cup Team.

USSF answer (June 19, 2006):
You would seem to have grown up in an idyllic place, where no one ever committed a cautionable offense or used violence as a playing tactic. If only we could all be so blessed.

We could not possibly comment on the cards issued to the players in the Italy-USA game.

What happens to players after cautions and send-offs is a matter for the particular competition (league, cup, tournament, whatever), each of which sets its own standards.  It is normal for a player who has been sent off to be suspended for the next game, and possible for more, depending on the offense.  FIFA has mandated the minimum one-game suspension for all games played under its authority and, several years ago, extended that mandate to all affiliated national associations. Many competitions, but most certainly FIFA, call for a player who has been cautioned twice in a segment of the competition (such as the first round in the World Cup) to be suspended from the game following the second caution. Some competitions allow the cards to be carried over into the next segment, others do not. You will have to check the rules for each competition to know for sure.

Your question:
Assume a full-length U-15 game is being played on a sunny, humid 95 degree day. It is a state league game and there is nothing in the rules about water breaks. In this situation:
1. Can the referee mandate a water break at the approximate midpoint of each half, if he deems it is in the best interest of the players’ safety?
2. If he cannot mandate it, can he suggest it to the two coaches and, with the agreement of both of them, then implement the water breaks?
3. If #’s 1 and 2 are not permitted, can he allow it if both coaches approach him and request it on their own?

Your advice on this situation would be very much appreciated.

USSF answer (June 16, 2006):
A good question and one that is somewhat complicated to answer.

Despite adjuring the referee to protect the safety of the players, the Laws of the Game do not permit the referee to stop the game for water breaks. However, some competitions (leagues or tournaments) have seen fit to include water breaks in their rules of competition. If the referee accepts an assignment in such a competition, he or she has no direct authority to vary the rules of the competition.

In those competitions that do not provide for water breaks, the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players. Preventing injury from heat exhaustion would fall into that aspect of the referee’s duties. The answer may be summed up in two words: common sense.

In fact, both the referee and the team officials share in the responsibility to protect player safety. The referee could, at a stoppage called for any reason, “suggest” the taking of water by any players interested in doing so. The timing of such a break and its length would be at the discretion of the referee. Obviously, the referee could decide to take this approach on his or her own initiative, with or without prior consultation with the coaches. However, either or both coaches could approach the referee prior to the match and suggest the need for extra hydration, in which case the intelligent referee would be well advised to listen and act accordingly. Of course, the Law also permits players to take water during the match so long as they do not leave the field, water containers are not thrown to them while on the field, and the water itself is not placed along the outside of the field so as to interfere with the responsibilities of the assistant referee. (See the guidance on water and hydration provided in the USSF memorandum of April 26, 2002, available on the USSF website.)

The USSF publication “Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players” for 2006 states:
24. Liquid refreshments during the match
Players shall be entitled to take liquid refreshments during a stoppage in the match but only on the touchline. Players may not leave the field during play to take liquids. It is forbidden to throw plastic water bags or any other water containers onto or from the field.

Your question:
In case of a legal dropped ball due to a stoppage of play for an injury, the players from BOTH teams huddled around the place where the ref was about to drop the ball in order to restart play. The coach said that there is no legal distance that is required for his players to stand and that the ref does not need to know who will be kicking the dropped ball from his team. About 6 players from each team were all huddled within 5 inches of the potential dropped ball area. Therefore, the ref [me] said that I need to know who will be kicking the ball once it touches the ground and that other players need to stand back to a distance that I [the ref] say is sufficient.

1] Is there a legal ruling about the distance allowable for the players from the spot that the ref will drop the ball?
2] Must each team select one player who will be kicking the ball once it is dropped?
3] How would YOU handle this situation if it occurs again?

This is what my response would be, so let me know how good or bad it is:
The coach is correct, there is no distance that players are required to be from the ball. Nor is there any specification as to how many players may participate, or therefore, who would be trying to gain control of the ball. Drop the ball, and hope it touches the ground before a player touches it. If it does not touch the ground before a player touches it, warn the player(s), and drop it again. If it does not touch the ground before a player touches it again, you could caution the player(s) involved in the touch( be careful of the age level).

What I would like to add, but I don’t think I should, is “There is also no specification as to when the ball is dropped.”

Let me know the official response please.

USSF answer (June 15, 2006):
We know for certain that there is no requirement that players from both teams‹or that any player‹must take part at a dropped ball. However, the IFAB/FIFA Q&A tells us, under Law 8 (Q&A 2), that “any player may take part.” This means that there is no requirement for a “nominated dropped ball taker.”

We also know that it is the referee who decides where the ball is to be dropped. One reasonable solution would be to walk briskly to a point several yards away from this cluster of players (hiding any irritation at the need to take such a step and not hinting at what you are about to do) and then drop the ball.

The referee’s job is simply to drop the ball and, if someone touches or plays it before it hits the ground and goes into play, to stop play and restart with another dropped ball. It is not the referee’s job to instruct players or coaches on tactics, but to call the game in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Law.

Your question:
My daughter was playing in a U12 game and 2 situations occurred. A free kick was awarded to the opposing near our goal, not in the penalty box. The player kicking the ball on the opposing team did not ask for 10 yards for spacing between her and the wall. The referee proceeded though in getting the 10 yards distance. The referee did not like where the wall was and wanted them to move back. He threatened The wall by telling them if they do not move a red card will be issued to one of the girls.
Question: Is this the way the above situation should have been handled as correct? If not can you provide the correct manner in what should have happened or any other details?

Situation 2: Towards the end of the game 2 players were battling for the ball near the opposing team’s goal. The red team¹s player went down in what probably should have been a foul on the yellow player but none was called. The ball went out of play and the red played lay motionless for at least 30 secs. The referee never went over to the downed player to check on the status. The whistle was then blown to signal the end of the game. The referee never went to check on the status of the downed player.
Is this the correct procedure of a referee when a player becomes injured?

Any info would be appreciated.

USSF answer (June 13, 2006):
1. Normally, we do instruct referees to allow the kicking team to take the kick quickly, if they wish, without interfering with it.  However, if, in the opinion of the referee, the defenders are too close to the kick, he or she may move the wall back, no matter whether or not the kicking team asks for it.  This would particularly be the case with younger players who appeared to have neither the knowledge of their rights nor the skill to take advantage of them.

Something more disturbing than that occurred in this situation when the referee threatened to send off and show the red card to the defenders who were reluctant to move back.  Unless they already had been cautioned, the worst the referee could do would be to caution them for failing to respect the required distance and show the yellow card.

2. The referee is not required to stop play when a player is down unless he or she believes that player to be seriously injured.  Nor, unless trained and certified to provide medical assistance, would there ordinarily be a need for the referee to attend to the player beyond a cursory determination that the injury was, indeed, serious enough to stop play. As above, this would be interpreted generously in the case of younger players.

Your question:
At what point do we as referees have the ability to enforce the laws of the game?

This is not a joke. It actually happened to me prior to a boys U18 game.

I arrived at the field during a downpour and lightening and was informed that the teams would wait in their cars until the prescribed time after the last lightening strike. While waiting, I noticed an individual, whom later I discovered was a player, dribbling a soccer ball onto the field naked. After about three minutes, he left the field. The rain subsided about 15 minutes later and we all took the field to warmup and start the game.

Would it have been appropriate at that time, since I knew who the player was, to have issued a caution for unsporting behaviour? A send-off for offensive/abusive language (non-verbal)?

USSF answer (June 5, 2006):
Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has the authority to take disciplinary sanctions from the moment he or she enters the field of play until he or she leaves the area of the field of play after the final whistle.  This includes the period of time immediately prior to the start of play during which players and substitutes are physically on the field warming up, stretching, or otherwise preparing for the match.

The behavior you describe would fall most nearly into the catch-all category called bringing the game into disrepute. The problem is that it didn’t occur during the game itself, nor even truly during the warming up period. It appears to have been something done as the result of a dare. Once you determined who the player was, the most appropriate thing to do would be to call the player and the team captain to you and tell them that the player was being cautioned for unsporting behavior. Then show the yellow card and include full details in the match report.

Your question:
Real Situation:
Two teams showed up wearing almost identicle shirt colors, one is solid blue the other had a little white on the sleeves. The two coaches argued over who had to change their shirts. They didn’t compromise and the referee didnt ask them to change shirts. If I had been referee which team should I have made change shirts?

USSF answer (June 5, 2006):
It is safest to check the league rules to see what they specify. If that is either impossible or the rules do not cover the matter, then remember that it is traditional for the visiting team to change if there is a conflict in colors.

Your question:
I have two questions about play that really bother me and I don’t know how to makes these calls correctly:
1. the ball is going out of play, the defender gets to the ball and shields the ball and moves with the ball towards the line, using a shielding technique, the offensive player follows the defender pushing from behind and at the line as the ball goes out of play pushes the defender in the back to the ground. what is the call? the other day in a tournament I warned the offensive player once and the second time I cautioned the player and heard from a host of people including some referees that was allowable play.

2. on a corner kick, the offensive and defensive players prior to the ball being in play, push and grab, and shove for position to the point that a defensive player is moved out of position and turns to face the offensive player who had pushed him from behind. what is the call?

USSF answer (June 5, 2006):
1. If the defender who is shielding is within playing distance of the ball, then he or she is not infringing the Law. The opposing player is not allowed to use the hands to get at the defender. In short, the shielding is permitted, the pushing is not. The correct call is either pushing or holding, as appropriate to the action. Direct free kick for the offender’s team.

2. The intelligent referee will be proactive and speak to the players concerned before there is any confrontation. Let them know that you see what is going on and warn them not to continue. If they do continue before the ball is in play, treat it as unsporting behavior and caution accordingly. And if they continue it after the ball is kicked, treat it as a foul (plus, perhaps, misconduct) and restart accordingly.

Your question:
My question is regarding the World Cup Friendly between Iran and Croatia. In the 97th minute, the referee awarded Croatia a penalty kick. While the Croatian player was in the process of shooting, a teammate of his entered the Penalty area. Law 14 clearly states that if a teammate is to enter the area and the ball enters the goal, the kick is to be retaken. However, the referee allowed the play to continue and the score became tied at 2-2, he then ended the match. Is that correct? Here is the link to the video; the PK is awarded at 3:45 in the video:

USSF answer (June 4, 2006):
It isn’t necessary to view the clip to answer your question because the clip shows exactly what you described.

The action of the teammate of the kicker had no impact on the play (the penalty kick was a direct shot on goal in which the ball had no trouble entering the net entirely on its own). Accordingly, the only answer possible is that your statement of the Law is correct.

Your question:
I was an AR involved in a recent tournament match and had a scenario develop that I¹m not quite sure was the proper decision. Here¹s the scenario:
An attacker was fouled by a defender in the penalty area close to me and directly in my line of sight but partially screened from the referee¹s view. The foul caused the attacker to go down injured. I signalled to get the referee¹s attention just as the defensive team started a counter attack. The referee, not seeing the foul, waved me off, apparently thinking I was signalling the injured player Play continued for a few touches before a team mate put the ball out for an injury stoppage. After the referee checked on the player, he backed up to me to inquire about what happened. That¹s when I informed him that the injury was the result of a foul that he was screened on and that I was trying to signal a PK. The referee decided that even though play had continued for a few touches, that the injury was a continuation of the original foul I was trying to indicate and since there hadn¹t been a restart, in the spirit of the game, that a PK could still be awarded. That PK turned out to be the difference in the match.

My questions are: should the PK have been awarded in this circumstance or is the only recourse after play continues the ability to issue a card at the next stoppage?

This became a hot topic in the ref tent, I¹d like to get a qualified opinion to let everyone know the correct decision.

USSF answer (June 2, 2006):
An assistant referee will never signal to the referee that a player is injured, as only the referee can make that determination. Your flag was correct and, if the referee gave proper instructions in the pregame conference–i. e., signal an infringement only when the referee cannot see it, he should have known what was going on. However, let us emphasize that there would have been no mistaking the signal if, after raising the flag straight up and making eye contact with the referee, you would have given the flag 2-3 waggles (not semaphores). The referee would have known exactly that it was a foul being signaled.  If he stopped play and you had then dropped the flag and begun moving toward the goal line, the referee would have known that the foul had been committed by a defender inside the penalty area and you were recommending a penalty kick.  The system works, if only officials would use it!

And yes, despite the time lost, the game had not otherwise stopped and restarted, so the penalty kick restart was correct.

Your question:
I am a grade 8 referee and was wondering does the United States Soccer Federation permit referees to wear the FIFA Fair Play Badge on their uniform or is it prohibited. Or is it up to the state federation. The basic question here is “can I wear the FIFA Fair Play Badge even though I’m not an international official.” I would appreciate any response.

USSF answer (June 2, 2006):
Yes, you may wear the FIFA Fair Play badge without being a member of the International Panel. It may be worn on the right sleeve, centered between shoulder and elbow on a long-sleeved shirt and between shoulder and cuff on a short-sleeved shirt.

Your question:
I was the AR1 in a U12 Competitive state championship match, with an experienced referee in the center and youth referee as the AR2. A player from Team A was tripped, and the referee gave a DFK ~25 yards from the goal. Team B set up a wall, and had no defenders (other than the goal keeper) closer to the goal line than the members of the wall. Team A had one player past the wall and within the penalty area, clearly in an offside position. When the kick was taken, it was drilled into the upper left corner of the goal – untouched by any other player. To my surprise, and to the dismay of the coaches behind me, the AR raised his flag indicating offside. The referee went over to the AR, discussed the call with him, and then upheld the offside call and prepared to restart with an IFK for Team B. The coaches for Team A succeeded in getting the referee’s attention, and he came over to explain that the player in the offside position had become part of active play by “seeking to gain advantage” by being in that position. This did not go over very well with the coaches (or me for that matter), but I did not feel that in my position as AR that I could openly contest a judgment call. The goal was disallowed and play was restarted with the IFK.

At the half I discussed the offside call with both the referee and the other AR, said that I did not believe that the word “seeking” appeared in Law 11, and that the player had to actually gain an advantage. If the referee had said that the player in an offside position had obstructed the vision of the keeper (preventing him from reacting in time to make a play on the ball) I would have been more comfortable with the call, but the referee insisted that by being in the penalty area the player was “seeking to gain and advantage” and was therefore offside.

Two questions:
1. Does the word “seeking” occur in conjunction with “gaining an advantage” in any memoranda or advice on Law 11?
2. If not, should I have made an effort to convince the referee that his call was incorrect, possibly within the vicinity of the upset coaches? This might have crossed the line from assist to insist, and the referee was clearly unlikely to change his call.

USSF answer (June 2, 2006):
Lesson the first: Experience does not always equal advanced knowledge. It is often the case that it actually equates to using the same old (erroneous) information over and over again.

Lesson the second: The word “seeking” does not occur in the Laws of the Game, and has not since it was removed from Law 11 effective 1 July 1995. The word “seeking” has since been used by the IFAB (the folks who write the Laws of the Game) in a totally different context in 2002, in a statement regarding simulation (faking an injury or a foul): “players seeking an unfair advantage by pretending to be fouled.” And even that was not in the Laws themselves, but in a memorandum on the amendments in the Laws for that year.

Your answers:
1. See above.

2. While the assistant referee should never insist, he or she should assist the referee in all things. In your example that would be best accomplished by not embarrassing the referee when trying to convince that official that he or she might wish to look at a situation in another light. Keep out of hearing of the coaches and players. Lay out the facts as you see them and can support them. If the referee declines to use your information, do not insist–no matter how right you are. However, if you believe the referee’s decision is to the detriment of the game and of other referees, you can also inform the referee that you will prepare a report of your own on the game and submit it to the appropriate refereeing authorities.

Your question:
With the new “additional instruction” on cautioning players who delay the restart of play, another question arose.

It’s the situation where the Referee stops play on an attack (usually for “offside”) and the attacking player (might take a couple of touches and) takes a shot.

I’ve tried to “anticipate and forestall such offenses” and have made sure that I FIRMLY talk with that player in such a way that everyone else understands that I’m “dealing” with that situation.

However, when the inevitable second occurrence or “flagrant” scenario occurs, what is the “reported” caution? Unsporting Behavior or Dissent or Delaying the Restart?

Usually, I chose unsporting. Sometimes, dissent. Now it appears you could a case for “delaying the restart” IF in your opinion it was done to “provoke a confrontation”.

USSF answer (June 2, 2006):
The correct decision would be to caution the player for delaying the restart of play.

Your question:
After reviewing the new 2006 Memorandum, I had the same question that appears on the USSF “Ask A Referee” website concerning the 3 reasons to caution a substitute/substituted player (doesn’t appear to cover infringement on Law 3).

Can you explain the “Answer (May 22, 2006): xxxxx”?

USSF answer (June 2, 2006):
Law 3 clearly establishes that when a substitute or substituted player enters the field without permission it is misconduct. Law 12 mandates only three reasons that substitutes and substituted players can be cautioned and this is the most likely of the three. Whether that was the IFAB’s intention is unknown–but until and unless they say otherwise, that’s what we need to do.

NOTE: See also the IFAB/FIFA Q&A 2006, which mandates a caution for unsporting behavior for this offense. The Q&A was issued June 2, after this answer was posted.

Your question:
I have two questions regarding Law 3 from games I observed this weekend.

(1) In a youth tournament, competition rules specify there will be no stoppage time; competition rules permit unlimited substitutions (before a goal kick, a kick-off, or a team’s own throw-in). As the match is nearing completion, one team is ahead by one goal. The team that is ahead begins to repeatedly substitute players one at a time, in what appears to be an attempt to waste time. What actions are appropriate to prevent/penalize this unsporting behaviour by the coach? I would not want to punish the players by not permitting the substitution (it is hot in Virginia in May), but “excessive substitutions” is not a cautionable offense.

USSF answer (May 20, 2006):
One of the hardest rules in refereeing is that once you accept the assignment, you have to follow the rules of the competition, no matter how much they may differ from the Laws of the Game. A good rule is to know what the rules are before accepting the assignment. QUOTE
Referees should prevent unnecessary delays due to the substitution process. One source of delay is a request for a substitution that occurs just as a player starts to put the ball back into play. This often (incorrectly) results in the restart being called back and retaken. Another common source of delay is a substitute player who is not prepared to take the field when the request to substitute is made. In each case, the referee should order play to be restarted despite the request and inform the coach that the substitution can be made at the next opportunity.

The referee shall not prevent a team from restarting play if the substitute had not reported to the appropriate official before play stopped.

The referee should exercise common sense in choosing whether or not to recognize the substitution request–and, as soon as delaying tactics become obvious, should communicate this to the assistant referee and to the teams.

Your question:
I was asked this question and was not sure how to answer. Would a goal that was scored count if a injury is faked beforehand? Attacking player faked an injury while team mate scored a goal. Does the goal stand?

The player faking the injury was cautioned.

USSF answer (May 30, 2006):
The Laws are quite clear on what to do when a player “simulates” or fakes an injury. That player is guilty of misconduct and must be cautioned for unsporting behavior. If a player commits misconduct and his or her team subsequently shoots the ball into the goal, the goal must be denied and the player cautioned and shown the yellow card. The restart is an indirect free kick to the opposing team from the place where the misconduct occurred.

Your question:
In a recent U-19 Boys game, following a goal scored on keeper A, keeper A removed his jersey and left the field. Another player then put on the jersey and assumed the keeper’s position. Although this is a bigger issue for the coach, are the potential cautions to be issued 1) unsporting behavior for removing the jersey; 2) unsporting behavior for changing keepers without notifying the referee (both Keeper A and the player that assumed the position); and 3) leaving the field without permission?…

2006 Part 1

Your question:
It is my understanding the the center referee must be two years older than the team playing? Correct?

Does this also hold true to the asst. referee (lines)? Or as long as they are Grade 8 it doesn’t matter?

USSF answer (March 20, 2006):
While it is normal for young referees to be assigned to work games with players who are at least one or two years younger than they are, there is no hard and fast rule for all states; each is different. Ask your state referee administrator for the rules in your state on this matter.

Your question:
A local rec league made a change in the league schedule without informing the USSF Assignor and therefore, incorrect information was provided to the referees. When the referees arrived at the field expecting a U12B match, they discovered a U12B team scheduled to play a U10B team. The U10B team included some players as young as eight years old “playing up” in age. Some anxious parents approached the referees with their concern for their 8-9 year olds playing against the much bigger kids. The referees, including two adults, honestly believed that allowing for the disparity in size, skill, and experience that it would be unsafe to permit this match to occur. They refused to officiate.

Normally refusing to officiate a match due to safety concerns seems to refer to field conditions that cannot be corrected or severe weather. It doesn’t seem that a referee can look at two teams and decide that by itself, it would be unsafe to play. But normally one doesn’t schedule 8 year olds against 12 year olds either. Question: I’m not asking if the referees were right to refuse to play the match but simply were they within their rights.

USSF answer (March 20, 2006):
Although the referee’s primary concern is the safety of the players, that has no bearing on the present question.

The match-up is the concern of the league, not the referees. However this match of mismatched teams came to be, the referee’s main concern has to be what actually happens in a match, not what might happen. If referees starts making such decisions on what might be, he or she would find him- or herself at the top of the proverbial slippery slope. Where would it end?

Unless the team officials suggest that the match-up itself is contrary to the league’s rules, the officials have no choice but to officiate and, if individual players commit dangerous acts vis-a-vis individual opponents, they have the Law itself available to handle it.

Your question:
Can you give a defender a caution with the penelty box without giving a penelty kick?

USSF answer (March 20, 2006):
If the referee stops play for a case of misconduct, such as dissent or unsporting behavior, that does not involve a foul, the game is restarted with an indirect free kick. The referee could also send a player off for violent conduct (brutal threats, etc.) and restart with an indirect free kick if that serious misconduct was why the game had been stopped.

Your question:
Assume a referee properly calls a technical foul against the keeper for using his hands after a pass back to him from the foot of a teammate and awards an IFK. An attacker quickly spots the ball JUST OUTSIDE OF THE PENALTY AREA and takes a quick kick to a teammate who scores. In the opinion of the USSF, is this a valid goal? Must this IFK be spotted within the penalty area or is the placement outside the penalty area a trifling inconsequence to be ignored by the referee?

USSF answer (March 16, 2006):
A specific answer is difficult in this case, as you have not given us enough information. Therefore, our answer must be general in nature.

According to Law 12, a direct or indirect free kick is taken from the place where the offense occurred (keeping in mind the special circumstances for kicks involving the goal area). While the referee should not be overly fussy about having the offended team restart from the specific and particular blade of grass on which an offense occurred, neither should the referee allow the kicking team to put the ball into play from any point that suits them best. The closer to goal the offense occurred, the less latitude the referee will give the kicking team for placement.

In this case, because the offense occurred inside the penalty area, the kick must be taken from within the penalty area, not “just outside.”

Your question:
Laws of the Game, Advice to Referees, USYS Memorandums (cannot find specific one), The Referee Magazine articles, and USSF Entry Level course material; all emphasize “the goalposts must be anchored.” Some further state/suggest “the game will not be played on that field for safety.” I’ve always been taught, instructed others, and believed those guidelines……until recently!

I’ve refereed in 37 states and to my surprise not all states abide by this direction. While in one state, I asked an assignor state policy. Additionally, I asked a state referee committee member (another state) for an interpretation.  The answers were startling.

One person consulted someone on the national (USYS) level and was supposedly told, “it’s up to each SRA.” The other person referred me to IFA Board decisions in Law 5. It was suggested by another person that I Ask A Referee. So….. 1) What is the official USYS position on goalposts being anchored? 2) What is the referee to do if they aren’t? 3) What is the referee’s liability if he/she referees without anchored goalposts?

USSF answer (March 15, 2006):
This is a matter of player safety. There is no reason to look at Law 5. In describing the field and its appurtenances, Law 1 tells us, under “Goals”: “Goals must be anchored securely to the ground. Portable goals may only be used if they satisfy this requirement.”

Your question:
(1) A fellow referee informed me that he observed the following at a soccer game this weekend:
– A defender takes the Goal Kicks, the goalie goes outside the area, receives the kick, then dribbles into the area, picks it up, and punts it back into play.

My friend thinks it is a passback violation. I think it is using trickery to circumvent the rules, what is your take?

(2) At a game us old timers were participating in, a forward plays a through ball to another forward, our goalie comes almost to the edge of the Penalty Box to intercept the pass. As our goalie collects, the forward in trying to get the ball, collides with our goalie, who fell, still clutching the ball. The ref did not whistle a foul, as he says it was a 50/50 ball. Do you think it was the correct call?

USSF answer (March 15, 2006):
1. This could be regarded as an infringement of the Laws: A player deliberately kicks the ball and it is handled directly (no intervening play) by the player’s goalkeeper. Whether it should be called is an entirely different matter and would depend on such things as the competitive level of the teams, whether the goalkeeper handled the ball to unfairly remove the possibility of an opponent’s challenge, etc. If there were no opponents nearby, the referee would likely simply classify it as a trifling infringement and warn the players about their actions. If the goalkeeper was clearly handling to foil an active, immediate challenge, the referee should be inclined to blow the whistle. Restart with an indirect free kick at the place where the goalkeeper touched the ball with the hands.

2. No. If the conditions were precisely as you describe them, the correct call should be (carelessly) charging an opponent. The goalkeeper’s team should be given a direct free kick from the spot where the infringement took place. If there was more to the challenge than you described, the referee could consider either a caution for unsporting behavior for a reckless challenge or a dismissal for violent conduct if excessive force was used.

Your question:
I recently saw an EPL game on TV and was surprised to see the referee stop play and penalize the attacking forward for diving by awarding a free kick to the defending team. Was this the correct way to penalize the offence as no foul was committed or maybe I am incorrectly analyzing the situation.

USSF answer (March 14, 2006):
It is perfectly acceptable (and within the letter and intent of the Law) for the referee to stop play for misconduct. Diving, also known as “simulating action,” which is intended to deceive the referee, is unsporting behavior.

Your question:
I have two questions regarding USSF policy and the assignment of USSF Grade 9 referees.

At our recent assignor recertification meeting a rather healthy debate took place with regard to the use of Grade 9 referees in matches that are considered “recreational” at the U12 and U14 level. The sticking point in the definition of recreational in this context is that these “recreational” teams travel, compete for a league championship, and compete for a berth in end-of-season league tournaments.

The term recreational in this context refers to division 3 and 4 teams within our state’s leagues. Division 1 and 2 teams are registered as “competitive” while division 3 and 4 are registered as “recreational”. All teams, however, travel and compete as I mention above. Teams that play within their towns are also considered to be recreational.

My question is this:
What is the USSF’s official position on the assignment of Grade 9 referees in this context?

I realize that our state’s definition of competitive and recreational probably are not relevant to all of you at the national level, but the distinction is causing a considerable amount of confusion among assignors here.

I am unable to find a definitive statement anywhere that lays out the type of games that Grade 9 referees are allowed to do. There are some assignors putting Grade 9 referees into the middle of U12 and U14 matches that I would consider to be competitive (teams travel, compete for season ending rewards). My own policy on the matter (which is an interpretation of the USSF Admin handbook) is that Grade 9’s may only work as referees in small sided games (regardless of their competitive designation…I believe they are regarded as non-competitive anyway) and NON-travel games at the U12 and U14 level.

Second question:
Are U12 8v8 games considered to be small sided for the purpose of assignment?

U12 matches in our state are about to go to an 8v8 model. I have significant concerns about Grade 9 referees officiating U12 8v8 matches because of the relative experience for most referees at the Grade 9 level and the lack of emphasis regarding offside in most games that Grade 9 referees do. Is there any guidance from the USSF forthcoming on this matter?

Any information you can provide will be most helpful and my apologies for the length of this message.

USSF answer (March 8, 2006):
1. Grade 9 is characterized in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) as:
Recreational Youth Referee (grade 9). The RAH states farther:
9 – United States Soccer Federation Recreational Referee
A. Minimum Age:None
B. Badge: USSF Recreational Referee, with current year
C. Authorized Assignment Level: Referee on recreational youth games under-14 and younger only and assistant referee on any game U-14 or below.

As we have responded several times in this forum: “Grade 9 officials may do centers or lines on U-14 RECREATIONAL games. They may also act as assistant referees on U-14 COMPETITIVE games, but may not be the referee on U-14 competitive games.” That does not include travel (even “developmental travel”) or select team games.

Another factor for determining whether a team is competitive or recreational is whether or not there are try-outs for a team. Try-outs means that a team is definitely competitive. Travel has proven to be a bit difficult as a determining factor, especially in rural locations where many teams travel town to town and league to league just to find regular competition, but they are definitely recreational teams.

If you believe that assignors in your state are abusing the Grade 9 referees by assigning them beyond their training and skills, it is your duty to ask the state referee committee and the state youth association to take firm action to ensure that these referees are assigned only at the level for which they have been trained.

2. Yes, U12 8 v 8 games would be considered to be small-sided games. However, the training and grade level of Grade 9 referees is likely not suitable for calling such games.

Your question:
One of the fields we play on has painted boundary lines that do not comply with Law 1. For instance the goal area dimensions are smaller than 6×20 and the penalty area dimensions are smaller than 18×44. As a result the penalty mark is closer to the goal line than 12 yards. What would be the proper way to conduct a penalty kick: accept the markings on the field or take the kick from 12 yards away? It should be noted that these fields are not intended to be a reduced size. Law 14 seems to indicate the existing penalty mark should be used but that presents quite the disadvantage for the defending team as the mark is only 9 yards away.

USSF answer (March 7, 2006):
First a bit of philosophy: There is a big difference between a penalty mark located inside the goal area and one located halfway between the top of the goal area line and the penalty area line yet still only 11 (or, as in this case, even 9) yards rather than 12 yards from the goal line. We referees tend let a lot go by on field markings when the game is a simple recreational match involving kids.

If the field is not marked properly, the referee should try to have proper markings put down by the home team before starting the game, time permitting. If this is impossible, the referee must decide whether playing the game on this improperly marked field would be merely wrong, inconvenient, or simply irritating, or whether it would make a mockery of the game. If it is the last, then the referee should ask the home team to find a better marked field quickly. If that is impossible, the referee should abandon the game and submit full details to the competition authority.

As to a penalty kick from nine yards–no. The referee should mark off the proper 12 yards and indicate that this is where the kicker will place the ball. The remainder of the players, other than the defending goalkeeper, must remain a proper distance away from the kick.

Your question:
I was recently an assistant referee in an U19 boys game. Both teams were very skilled and fast but lacked common sense. A lot of fouls were committed and the center ref ended up giving 10 yellow cards. Of those yellow cards two players were sent off for accumulaton of cards. 8 players were given a card for some type of misconduct. The game was very rough and it seemed that a lot more cards could have been issued, but the center ref was just tired. It was also apparent that the two send offs and yellow cards were not effective to keep control of the game. How can this type of game be handled effectively?

I had a game like this with U15 boys and before the beginning of the 2nd half I handed my yellow card to the assistant referee, I made it public of course, and told everybody that the only card left was a red card and if I had to sanction a foul, it would had been an automatic send off. It seemed to work for I enjoyed the rest of the game. Was that a right move? I know it worked but I think I was a little extreme.

USSF answer (March 6, 2006):
The tactic of making a show of using only the red card will work once, maybe twice, but it is not a long-term solution. The solution is simply to be on top of the game from the git-go. Presence near play, talking to the players constantly about what they are doing, slowing (cooling) the game down when player temperatures and referee anxiety start to rise, and, yes, handing out cards when absolutely necessary.

There is no one-size-fits-all formula. It has to be worked out by each referee for each game, depending on how the players come into the match.

A comment on publicly announcing that you have only one card, the red one: The problem with not having a yellow card is that you have thus lost a significant option. In other words, you have done this for whatever reason and now a player commits what is clearly and simply a cautionable offense. You now either have to look foolish by running back to your bag (or the AR, or wherever you stashed it) and retrieving the card or you have the unpalatable decision either to ignore clearly cautionable conduct or sending players off for clearly cautionable misconduct. It may seem like great theatrics but it is a really bad idea.

Your question:
Here is a hypothetical situation I am involved in a discussion on. A player jumps up and grabs hold of the top bar of the goal and is hanging there. An attacker takes a shot that hits this player hanging from the goal and deflects away from the goal.

The question is what action should the referee take. We all agree that this is USB for hanging on the goal. Where our differences lie is does this meet the criteria of DOGSO? and therefore should result in a send off instead of just a yellow card.

Some say no becuase there was no foul others no becuase the criteria for DOGSO is not met becuase the IFK resulting from the USB is not the punishment just a way of restarting play after stopping to issue a YC.

IMHO (and I seem to be in the vast minority) the criteria of DOGSO have been met in that the law states – ” 5. denies an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the players’ goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or penalty kick ”

The USB of hanging on the goal would result in an IFK and it meets the 4 D’s (Denies, # of Defenders, Direction, Distance)

Any guidance from you would be greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (March 3, 2006):
Simply by jumping up and hanging on the crossbar, the defender is guilty of unsporting behavior. By using that position to deflect the ball away from the goal while committing unsporting behavior, the defender has denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity through an act punishable by a free kick. Send off the player and show the red card. Restart with an indirect free kick–the punishment for misconduct that does not involve a foul–for the opposing team.

The same could be said of a situation in which a goalkeeper pulled the bar downward and the ball hit the bar and deflected away–same punishment and restart.

Your question:
A fellow official an I are having a debate as to the 4D’s having to be met for DGH the same as DGF. My point is no, that the 4 D’s are in fact for DGF and do not have the same impact for DGH. Point being, if a shot is taken with a defender 15 yards from the attacker who handles the ball preventing it going into the goal, (he has not met all 4 of the d”s-the attacker is certainly not within playing distance of the ball when the foul (handling) occurred,  he should be sent off for DGH and the proper restart be taken. Please help me with this situation.

USSF answer (March 3, 2006):
There is already a send-off offense for deliberate handling, number 4 under the seven send-off offenses: denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area). It does not require any particular alignment of players for either team, but simply the occurrence of the offense.

Your question:
Last night during a Match I was with 4 seasoned referees in the stands. When a player on team X had handled the ball, but the ball when to the foot of a player on team Y who took 2 touches and then shot the ball past the keeper for an apparent goal. The referee had stopped play however to call the handball.

The question I have, can a referee allow the play to continue if the opposing team has a clear advantage after the handball?

The referees in the stands were split on this issue last night.

USSF answer (March 1, 2006):
Your question implies that the act of deliberate handling occurred inside the penalty area. Yes, a referee may apply the advantage clause to fouls or misconduct in the penalty area, but both the mechanics and the standards for judgment are different. The distinction is fairly clear and well accepted: In the case of mechanics, the referee should not use the advantage signal if the offense has occurred inside the penalty area–keep your mouth shut and your whistle down. In the case of decision standards, advantage inside the penalty area is based on what happens almost immediately after the offense (rather than the more relaxed standard of 2-3 seconds) and on whether a goal is scored (instead of the more relaxed standard of the fouled team being able to maintain possess and attacking capability).

In addition, the referee must remember to consider the possibility that this player has denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball. If so, then the referee must act accordingly, sending off the culprit if no goal is scored or cautioning for unsporting behavior if the goal is scored.

And, finally, referees should not use the word “handball.” Instead, we refer to the act of deliberately handling the ball or to a handling offense. “Handball” is a term used to describe at least two separate sports that have nothing to do with soccer.

Your question:
I recently heard about a game where the attacking team was awarded a Penalty Kick (PK) for a trip in the penalty area. During the taking of the PK, the player taking the kick performed a feint, by stopping his kick after his planting foot hit the ground, waited to see which way the goalie went and then proceeded to kick the ball in the opposite corner of the net. Before the ball crossed the line the referee blew his whisle, declared a no goal and gave the kicker a yellow card for the feint move. He then awarded the defending team a goal kick. Was this the right call?

Two other questions along the same lines: Are these moves considered feints? During a PK, can the kicker plant his left foot to the right of the ball and swing his right leg behind his left leg to “Toe Poke” the ball into the net? During a PK can the player plant his left foot (turning) to the right of the ball and spin around backwards to use his right heel to strike the ball towards the net? I have seen both of these moves in youth soccer in U-13 and U-14 age groups and the referee allowed the goals. I would have thought this would also be considered feints?

USSF answer (March 1, 2006):
The issue of “feinting” underwent a significant change in 2000. Prior to that time, the kicker was expected to make one continuous, uninterrupted move to the ball; in and after 2000 (based on the FIFA Q&A), certain forms of deception were allowed. The principle behind the prohibition on some forms of feinting is that of wasting time.  Referees should watch for the sorts of feinting described in the position paper of October 14, 2004 (available on the USSF referee webpage), but should not consider all deceptive maneuvers to be a violation of Law 14 or of the guidelines on kicks from the penalty mark in the Additional Instructions. They should ensure that the run to the ball is initiated from behind the ball and the kicker is not using deception to delay unnecessarily the taking of the kick.  The kicker’s behavior must not, in the opinion of the referee, unduly delay the taking of the kick in any feinting tactic. Others would include changing direction or running such an an excessive distance such that, in the opinion of the referee, the restart was delayed; or making hand or arm gestures with the intent to deceive the kicker (e .g., pointing in a direction).

The referee should allow the kick to proceed. If the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken.  If the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts the match with an indirect free kick to the defending team.

As to the various ways of kicking the ball, the offense (or lack thereof) is in the eye of the referee on the game.

Your question:
This question deals with the u-13 to u-15 player who has not yet mastered the proper slide tackling technique. I see a lot of players come in with the cleats up to tackle the ball away from the attacker and simply miss due to lack of skill or the fact that the attacker hurdles the defender and continues on his way. Should this be a foul under law 12 “trip or attempt to trip”? Clearly, if the player had succeeded with the foul tackle it could have been considered USB and sanctioned as such. What is the proper way to deal with these unsuccessful but possibly injury causing tackles?

USSF answer (March 1, 2006):
There are many ways to deal with such acts: calling the foul (or misconduct), giving the player a quiet word or a stern talking-to, cautioning or even sending off the player for serious foul play or violent conduct. Only the referee on this particular game at this particular moment can judge whether or not the acts you describe are fouls (or misconduct) or not. The referee must judge whether the player’s acts are the result of poor skill, simple carelessness, recklessness or worse.

Your question:
I have noticed lately a fashion trend in Girls Soccer using two different colored socks by the team ( i.e. orange and black; or white and orange etc.) I have researched all kind of information’s available to referees, but no answer found on rules identifying the used of matching sock only. High School Association identifies the situation as illegal equipment. NCAA only refers to matching uniforms and in contrast to the other team. FIFA only identifies socks.

For the referee sometimes the color of the sock is helpful in identifying a player submitting a rule violation in tackles or the like. Your advice is appreciated.

USSF answer (February 27, 2006):
There is indeed a requirement for uniformity of socks. While nothing is specifically written in Law 4 regarding the color of socks, tradition and common practice dictate that all members of a team (with the possible exception of the goalkeeper) wear socks of the same color, rather than each wearing his or her own choice or wearing socks of one color on one foot and socks of a different color on the other foot.

The ruling will be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” which is based on the Laws, memoranda from FIFA and the International F. A. Board, and in memoranda and policy papers published by the United States Soccer Federation.

It is implicit in the Law that each side wear a distinctively colored jersey, that shorts and socks be uniform for each team, and that the uniforms be distinguishable from the uniforms worn by the other team. However, the details of the uniform are governed by the competition authority and can vary widely from one match to another. The referee must know and enforce the rules of each competition worked. Players’ jerseys must remain tucked inside their shorts, socks must remain pulled up, and each player must wear shinguards under the socks. Slide pants or similar undergarments must be as close as possible to the main color of the shorts.

Your question:
It is my understanding that when a penal foul is committed “off the ball” and the play is stopped for the foul, the DFK is taken at the spot of the foul. As such, the position of the ball at the restart can be far from where it was at the stoppage of play. According to Law 12, if the foul occurred in the opponents penalty area, the result is a PK “irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play.”

This not only seems odd to me, but I don’t believe I have ever seen a referee move the ball in such a way. Is that because any such foul is usually sanctioned as misconduct at the next stoppage of play?

This is bothering me because I have missed the same @%&# question on the USSF exam for three years now! I usually score around 96% on the test, so maybe if I can just get this silly point down, I can improve my score by one more percent?

USSF answer (February 24, 2006):
The foul has ALWAYS been punished at the point of the foul, not where the ball was, with the exception of the penalty kick.

In fact, the following question and answer from the IFAB (the people who make the Laws) may prove instructive. It is about as extreme as you can get on this point:

Law 12
37. After a goal is scored, the referee notices a signal from his assistant referee. The assistant referee tells the referee that before the ball entered the goal, the goalkeeper of the team that scored the goal punched an opponent inside his own penalty area. What action does the referee take? The goal is disallowed, the goalkeeper is sent off for violent conduct and a penalty kick is awarded to the opposing team.

Your question:
I have a question that I can’t seem to find a definitive answer for…

A Sunday travel league that I ref for recently switched from the state association to US Club Soccer, a USSF affiliated organization. The league administrators & referee assignor are under the impression that with this switch they can now use the two man (dual) system of control for officiating matches (that the state association did not allow). I told them that we are still under the auspices of the Federation and that I did not believe that was permissible. The league said it was up to them to decide.

I don’t feel comfortable being part of a dual system because I have seen its failings at the high school level. I also have heard that if we use the dual system as USSF referees that we are not covered by the Federation and that is a liability I am absolutely not willing to accept. What is the official stance on this issue?

USSF answer (February 23, 2006):
The United States Soccer Federation does not recognize the two-man or dual system of control. Games played under the auspices of US Youth Soccer or US Soccer may be officiated only under the diagonal system of control, as provided for in the Laws of the Game.

Here is the appropriate extract from page 36 of the Referee Administrative Handbook (2005 edition):
Systems of Officiating Outdoor Soccer Games
The Laws of the Game recognize only one system for officiating soccer games, namely the diagonal system of control (DSC),consisting of three officials – one referee and two assistant referees. All competitions sanctioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation require the use of this officiating system. (Certain competitions will use a 4th Official.) In order to comply with the Laws of the Game which have been adopted by the National Council of US Soccer, all soccer games sanctioned directly or indirectly by member organizations of the U. S. Soccer Federation must employ the diagonal system. As a matter of policy, the US Soccer Referee Committee prefers the following alternatives in order of preference:

2005 Part 4

Your question:
If a player leaves the field to receive medical attention we are now instructed to stop the game until the player is evaluated and it is decided that he/she can return. Is there a guideline as to how long we should hold up the game? Also, do we take into account where the ball is, which team has the ball etc… or do we stop the game immediately.

Second- Am I supposed to be addressing these questions to my SRA or are you the proper authority? I have sent you a few other emails and do not want to outlast my welcome, sort-a-speak.

USSF answer (December 23, 2005):
We believe you are referring to the change in the IFAB’s Q&A for this year, Law 3, Q&A 25:
25. A player, from a team with only seven players, leaves the field of play to receive medical attention. What action does the referee take?
The match will stop until this player has received treatment and returns to the field of play. If he is unable to return, the match is abandoned, unless the member association has decided otherwise with regard to the minimum number of players.

The decision as to when the player is unable to continue is at the discretion of the referee.

If play was stopped for the medical attention, the referee will restart with a dropped ball at the place where the ball at that time. If play was stopped for some other reason, then that reason governs the restart.

Questions are welcome and we are happy to respond to as many of them as possible. We do suggest, however, that you begin by searching out answers for yourself–the research is valuable. Local instructors can be a valuable resource for this, as can the SDI if the local instructors are not sure of the answer. You might also look through the archives, because you may very well find that your question has already been asked and answered. With over 140,000 referees in the United States, we would hope that this site is a source of last rather than first resort.

Your question:
Does a goal stand if it was discovered the team had two many players on the field at the time a goal was scored? What action should the referee take if the game had already been restarted and also what action should the referee take if the game had not been restarted?

USSF answer (December 22, 2005):
If the ball enters the goal with an ³extra² player or person in the game, the following chart provides principles for determining whether a goal has actually been scored.

Who Is Extra Discovered Before Kick-Off Discovered After Kick-Off
Attacker Goal Canceled*       Goal Counts
Defender Goal Counts   Goal Counts

This part of the process is simple and straightforward. The difficulty in this situation lies in determining the correct restart.

If an extra player or person is discovered on the attacking team before the ensuing kick-off, the goal does not count. The restart will vary, depending on circumstances.

The restart is an indirect free kick for the defending team (taken in accordance with the special circumstances described in Law 8) if the extra person was a substitute who had entered the game without the referee¹s permission.

However, if the person was a player who had left the game with the referee¹s permission for injury or other reason, or to correct equipment or bleeding, and then re-entered without permission, the restart would be an indirect free kick from the (approximate) place on the touch line where the player had re-entered.

The restart is a dropped ball (taken in accordance with the special circumstances described in Law 8) if the extra player was either an already substituted player (where the rules of competition follow Law 3 strictly and do not allow multiple entry and re-entry) or an outside agent (see Advice 1.8(d)). Referees must remember that already-substituted players remain under the authority of the referee and may be punished for misconduct, while outside agents may not.

If the extra person is discovered on the attacking team after the ensuing kick-off, the goal must be counted as the game has already restarted. The offending person is removed and the game is restarted in accordance with the Law. (See Advice 3.3.) If the extra person is an outside agent and still on the field, the correct restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped. If the game was stopped for some other purpose, the game is restarted for that reason.

Your question:
I need information regarding the correct protocol when a referee abandons a game. What should he do for writing what on the game report, referee report and sent to who, and the procedure on staying on the field while there may be a possible confrontation between players/ parents?

USSF answer (December 20, 2005):
If the referee determines that the game must be abandoned or terminated, then, unless there is some rule of the competition to the contrary, s/he announces the fact, gets the crew together, and leaves as quickly as possible. Whenever the referee remains in the “area of the field,” s/he continues to be responsible for the behavior of players, substitutes, and team officials who are also in the area of the field. There is no reason to remain where there is danger to the referee or other members of the officiating crew.

The referee is obligated to file a full report with the competition authority (league or tournament) and with the state association, with a cc to the SRA, as to the reason for abandoning or terminating the game. The report always goes to the authority with jurisdiction to mete out disciplinary action.

Your question:
I attended an entry-level clinic this past weekend. The teacher said that, if a player commits a red card offense and you don’t know who did the crime, you can red card any player because the team has to play short. And if you red card the wrong player, that maybe the one who committed the crime would come forward if it meant that his buddy would be sent off in his place. He said that it wasn’t helpful to talk to the captain to ask for his assistance in identifying the bad guy because he wouldn’t want to help send off his own teammate. He didn’t ask his ARs for assistance because the referee is in charge of the game and it would appear that the referee was not in charge if he had to ask for help. Is this fair?

USSF answer (December 19, 2005):
Refereeing must be a team effort in which all the team members are communicating information at all times. The referee and the ARs should be looking for information from one another at all stoppages and at any through balls. The officials must position themselves so that they can see any play that occurs within their view without duplicating the view of the other officials. If the referee is inattentive and misses the serious foul play or serious misconduct, then he or she should look to the nearer assistant referee for assistance.

In the case where none of the officials has seen the incident, the referee might employ various plans to determine whodunnit, but for a sending-off there should be either a direct admission from a player that he or she did it or some corroboration of a player’s accusation from a neutral person such as the assistant referee. Without firm evidence, the referee may not capriciously send off any player who just happens to be convenient. If neither the referee nor the assistant referee can confirm who committed the sending-off offense–in other words, who did the deed– then NO ONE can be sent off.

Your question:
If the opponent does not give 10 yards to begin with, is it appropriate to give a yellow card? And if a yellow card is given for not giving 10 yards and then the player backs off to 10 yards and asks the referee if ³this is good² at what point does the referee need to get involved and mark off the 10 yard mark? Does the referee have any reason to give a red card?

USSF answer (December 13, 2005):
Quick answer: The confident and self-assured referee will use methods other than cautions or send-offs to combat player misbehavior if at all possible. Such methods include the quiet word, the public admonition, or a bit of humor. What often renders this impossible are blatant acts of violence or less serious misconduct such as failure to retreat or dissent. In these cases, the referee has to look at both him- or herself and the players and determine why the “softer” methods did not work.

Longer answer: The intelligent referee picks her card-giving situations carefully so that they achieve the maximum impact for the least cost. Simply failing to retreat the required distance is not normally enough to warrant a caution (at least not above a certain age and skill level). First of all, it is the kicking team which decides whether they need to have the minimum distance enforced — the referee should back away and stay out of this matter unless the kicking team asks for assistance. Second, cautions for failing to respect the required distance should generally be saved for those opponents whose failure is blatant and/or whose offense made a difference (i.e., actually interfered with the free kick to the detriment of the kicking team).

As for your second question, if the yellow card has already been given for the misconduct and the cautioned player offers a serious (as opposed to satiric) attempt to comply with the minimum distance, why would the intelligent referee not want to provide assistance? However, such assistance should not generally include any action “to mark off the 10 yard mark.” Simply go to a point which is at least ten yards away (which you will know from long experience with estimating such distances), point it out, and then forcefully urge the opponent to comply. Player attempts to pace off the distance or to dispute the referee’s determination of the correct distance are forms of dissent and should not be allowed.

Your question:
Thank you for devoting time to allowing questions. You must be very patient folks.  I have listened to higher grade referees debating position papers, lotg, and power point presentations and questions persist. Even more confusion is added when position papers that are laws to us have inconsitencies:

Offside: The August 24, 2005 paper on Law 11 Decision 2 states that an attacker who is not challenged by an opponent nor competing for the ball with a teammate coming from an onside position should not be ruled offside unless the attacker phsycially touches the ball, assuming the offside attacker does not move or gesture to deceive, distract or obstruct an opponent.

The paper goes on to say that a player may be penalized before playing or touching the ball if no other teammate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball and there is no potential for physical contact with an opponent.

Although the paper tries to say the above are consistent this just does not appear to be the case. Practically, an opponent will always challenge so there is probably interference with an opponent, but the way these interpretations are written only add more confusion.

Penalty Kick: I have heard several different versions of what the change in law means. Some say “if the ball does not enter goal” really doesn’t mean that. If the kicking team encroaches and the ball is saved by the keeper then allow play to continue as advantage; if deflected by keeper and goes over goal line but not between posts, then corner kick; if does not enter goal, IFK regardless of any deflection. Any elaboration?

USSF answer (December 12, 2005):
With regard to the offside memorandum: There is some confusion between what FIFA has said and what we know that they have instructed referees to do at the international level. If a player is in an offside position and the ball is passed in his direction and it is clear that he will be the only player to get to it, there is no need to wait for the touch.

The answer on penalty kicks is really very simple: “Does not enter the goal” means exactly that. If the goalkeeper “saves” the penalty kick, then the ball didn’t enter the goal and, strictly according to Law 14 without regard to judgment as to doubtful or trifling, the restart has to be an indirect free kick where the infringement of Law 14 occurred.  Advantage does not apply to violations of Law 14.

Your question:
We had an incident where the scoring team had too many players on the field. Unfortunately, they didn’t realize this until after the goal was scored, as they were about to kick off. I instructed my referee to count the goal as good based on the fact that there was no call preceding the goal. I understand the procedure covered by law 3 however this incident seems unfair so I would very much appreciate clarification. Should the goal count…should we have removed the additional player and awarded a goal kick … where would we do a drop ball or indirect kick? We will probably never see this again but I and the coach’s would really like to know the right answer. Your help would be greatly appreciated!

USSF answer (December 8, 2005):
The goal must count (and full details included in the match report) if and only if play was restarted with a kick-off and the existence of the extra player was not discovered until after the restart.

If the existence of the extra player was discovered BEFORE the kick-off restart, deny the goal. Remove the twelfth player and caution him/her for entering the field without permission. Restart with an indirect free kick on the goal area line parallel to the goal line, in accordance with the special circumstances described in Law 8.

Note: this guidance applies only if the extra player was on the team scoring the goal.  If it was the defending team that had too many players, the goal will count under all circumstances.

Your question:
Just had a quick question on the recent memorandum (Memorandum 2005) regarding the July IFAB amendments. In particular, the amendment regarding infringements by the attacking team at the taking of a PK. The restarts are now to be IDK’s if the ball does not enter the net. But where are the restarts to take place?? At the point of infringement, i .e., the PK mark in the case of the kicker being the infringer, or near the 18 in the case of an attacking teammate entering the area prematurely? At the 6 or anywhere inside the goal area? I am also an instructor and will be holding my re-certification clinic this coming Sunday. If you could get back to me before then I would appreciate it.

USSF answer (December 8, 2005):
Restarts are given from the place at which the infringement occurred–wherever it is that the miscreant committed the violation of Law 14. Conceivably, in the case of a player moving closer to the goal line than the ball, this could even be outside the penalty area.

Your question:
During a U13 competitive cup game, and for the first 18 minutes of the game, Team A started the game with and continued to play with 12 players. With these 12 players, Team A scored 2 goals. Team B did not score during this time, but had approximately 6 shots on goal stopped, so they were offensively active.

After the referee realized the infringement had occurred, the extra player was removed. Team A scored a single goal during the rest of the game.

Team B did not score any goals throughout the game.

Final Game Score was 3 – 0.

The referee correctly realized and admitted he made a mistake. In fact, he wrote the following statement on the game card: “During first 18:00 minutes [Team A] had 12 players on the field. Referee did not notice the infringement. During that time [Team A] scored 2 goals w/12 players on the field.”

Seeing that during the first 18 minutes that Team A had an extra player on the field and knowing that this gave Team A’s defense an unfair advantage in defending and keeping Team B from scoring, what should the appropriate outcome be of the game be?
forfeit win for Team B?
1 – 0 win for Team A?,
3 – 0 win for Team A?,
replay the first 18 minutes?
replay the entire game?
or ???

USSF answer (December 7, 2005):
The referee did the correct thing in reporting the entire incident. The decision as to what should be done is up to the competition authority, i. e., the cup organizers (likely the state youth association).

Your question:
Great site which we frequently cite in weekly messages to our referees. Normally we agree 100% with your (USSF) answers but wish to explore further the USSF answer of November 28, 2005.
If the coach or other team officials want to know the referee’s name, they can ask and the referee should be prepared to give his or her name.

Rarely does a coach request a referee name under good circumstances to nominate them for ref of the year. Generally the coach is upset and wants to report the ref as though the assignor cannot figure out who the referee was on the game.

Although we instruct the 75% of our refs who are youth referees to introduce themselves to the coaches/teams before the match, our State Referee Administrator also has taken the position that a young referee is protected by Kid Safe — the same as players. No young referee (minor) should be approached by an angry adult and have to give their name.

As far as adults — no problem giving our names although perhaps a bit unnecessary as the assignors know where we are on each game. But I think back just two weeks ago when I was an AR with a 15 year old referee working a U13B travel match. The coach was berating her and demanded that she give him her name. Her lip started to quiver and I moved towards her and she turned her back to the coach and told me “I’m scared.”

I’m just wondering if USSF really wants our 13, 14, and 15 year old referees to give their names to the coaches. It seems as policy this would embolden coaches to be more, not less, confrontational.

USSF answer (December 7, 2005):
This is an addendum to an answer of November 28, 2005: We must all remember that there are rude and bullying people in every walk of life. Young referees, just like beginners in any endeavor, must learn to deal with them. As in life, so in refereeing.

Many coaches will try to intimidate referees, particularly young referees, by being rude and by asking for their names. The request for the name is legitimate under any circumstances, but rudeness and poor sportsmanship are not. The referee may also request the name of the coach or other team official, and should note that this will go into the match report.

Another way to deal with it is to simply give one’s name and then move quickly to get on with the game or move to one’s car. Full details (team, name, if available, and what happened) should be included in the match report.

Your question:
A ball from another game comes onto the field around the edge of the penalty area at the 18 yard line. The ball is stationary and has been on the field before the play had entered that half of the field. Play continues to the point where the attacking team gets the ball within 4-5 yards away from the outside agent outside the penalty area. The attacking team has clean possession but slows down since the ball is obstructing a passing and/or shooting lane. The referee doesn’t stop play since he feels the attacking team has advantage since they possess the ball. What is the correct call?

USSF answer (December 6, 2005):
If there was no proactive effort by anyone, including the refereeing “team,” to remove the extra ball from the field, the referee must stop play, remove the ball, and restart with a dropped ball. Please note that there is no such thing as “advantage” in this situation.

Your question:
Assistant referee is sprinting towards goal line, as he does so he looses control of his flag. The flag is about five yards behinnd him, at same time he notices that the ball has been played to an attacking player who is in an offside position. What is the proper procedure? A) should he run back to retreive flag and raise it up or b)should he stay where he is and get the referee’s attention in some other way like raising his arm?

USSF answer (December 6, 2005):
The AR needs to decide which is the more important issue,having a flag in one’s hand or signaling an offside as quickly as possible (consistent with accuracy)? The answer is clearly the second option. The assistant referee should choose the most efficient way out of the dilemma–standing at attention and raising the arm. If the referee communicates with the ARs properly, that means that they exchange information constantly, with the referee looking at the ARs on every through ball and the ARs watching one another for signals.

While it may seem like it makes us look foolish — standing there with our arm held as though it carried a flag– it is after all our fault for losing the flag in the first place. Suck it up.

Your question:
Question was a U10 keeper went for ball, missed it with her hands and caught it on the ground with her legs. She didn’t lay on the ball but was trying to get to it with her hands. Attacker tried to kick ball and referee awarded IFK to attacking team. A fellow referee cited FIFA Q&A for a keeper not in possession of ball lies on it and the referee calls playing in a dangerous manner. My take was the referee must have felt the keeper was playing in a dangerous manner and awarded an IFK accordingly. A third referee said, “The keeper has made a save. that’s what keeper’s do,however awkward the movement, he still made the save and has control of the ball. THE CONTROL DOES NOT HAVE TO BE WITH THE HANDS ONLY. (caps mine). The keeper was not playing in a dangerous manner. The attacker should have been called for an offense an a DFK awarded the keeper’s team.

My quibble is control WITHOUT hands. Would you mind clarifying this?

USSF answer (November 29, 2005):
The simple and only true answer–the decision is up to the referee’s evaluation of the total situation.

By having the ball trapped between her legs (and not yet having control with the hands), the goalkeeper MAY HAVE BEEN unfairly not allowing other players access to the ball–no matter how innocent her true intent. The important thing is how long the goalkeeper was lying on the ball and whether or not she was making an effort to get it into her hands. In other words, whether or not the ‘keeper was lying on the ball for an unreasonable amount of time.

For the referee to have called playing dangerously on the ‘keeper here, he would have to have decided that she had trapped the ball between her legs and was not making a reasonably speedy effort either to play the ball away from her or to gain hand control.  If it was a case of the ball winding up trapped between the keeper’s legs and more or less immediately thereafter the attacker challenged, then the proper call would have been AT LEAST playing dangerously against the attacker and possible a direct kick foul for kicking if the challenge involved actual contact.

The issue is whether the keeper delayed unnecessarily–if she did, then she was guilty of withholding the ball from SAFE play and that is a classic situation of playing dangerously; if she did not and the attacker’s challenge was virtually simultaneous with the ball becoming trapped, then she did NOT withhold the ball from play and the attacker’s action was either playing dangerously (indirect free kick) or a direct-free-kick foul.

Your question:
May an attacker charge the opposite goalkeeper?
1. Inside the keeper’s goal area;
2. Inside the rest of the keeper’s penalty area;
3. Outside of the keeper’s penalty area.

USSF answer (November 28, 2005):
Charging the opposing goalkeeper is possible only if the charging player and the goalkeeper are both going for a ball that is within playing distance of both but is not in the actual possession of the goalkeeper. If the goalkeeper has control of the ball in any manner other than with his hands (see Law 12, IBD 2 for the definition of “control”), an opponent may charge that ‘keeper in the same manner that he or she would charge a field player who has the ball. The Law presumes that a goalkeeper who has clear possession of the ball in his or her hands has up to six seconds to distribute the ball into play and any player who interferes with this distribution by charging or otherwise interfering should be sanctioned. Thus, if the goalkeeper legally has hand control of the ball, then the ‘keeper may NOT be charged, no matter where he or she is, and any attempt to do so could be punished with an indirect free kick or a direct free kick, depending on the circumstances. Again depending on the circumstances, the player might also be subject to a caution/yellow card for unsporting behavior.

Your question:
Are referees required to have the proper USSF Identification Card in their possession (or in their equipment bag, in the immediate vicinity) while performing their duty as referee? Must a referee give this information to the coach or other personnel if requested?

USSF answer (November 28, 2005):
No, although you must wear your badge, you are not required to have your registration card–it is NOT an identification card–with you at the game. If the coach or other team officials want to know the referee’s name, they can ask and the referee should be prepared to give his or her name. In this day of extreme caution, the referee should not give any other information, such as Social Security or identification number or phone (office or home) or address or e-mail address. If the person asking for the information wants to know more, tell them to contact the referee assignor for the competition.

Your question:
My question pertains to the following text in Law 3: “The rules of the competition must state how many substitutes may be nominated, from three up to a maximum of seven.”

Does that text refer only to official competitions organized by FIFA, the confederations, or the national associations? I am trying to ascertain whether “a greater number of substitutes” (under Other Matches) can be more than seven.

USSF answer (November 28, 2005):
The specific number of substitutes allowed is governed by the competition authority and must be published in the rules of the competition.

Your question:
Today for the first time ever a referee that claims he is very knowledgeable told me that if an attacking player that is in an offside position receives the ball from a throw in (by his team mate) that is deflected from a defenders head or body then he is offside and an offside call should be made since the exception states that it is not offside if the attacking player receives the ball “directly” from a throw in and in this case it was not received directly????

I disagreed with his interpretation. He told me that he looked it up and it was confirmed to him that he was correct. Is he correct?

USSF answer (November 28, 2005):
You are correct and the referee is dead wrong. Here is a previously-published answer from May 27, 2003, reissued here to keep the record straight: Your reasoning is correct: Deflections off opponents do not change the basic premise that a player cannot be called offside directly from a throw-in. In this case, the correct decision is that there was no infringement of the Law. Now, if the ball had been deflected by a teammate of the player in the offside position, the referee would have been correct in calling offside.

Your question:
My State association has just approved unlimited substitutions for next year. I have seen a post on your site for a similar question, but some scenarios were not discussed. I am sure the coaches will think of many ways to delay the game with these substitutions.

While Advice to Ref explains the substitution ins and outs, I cannot find any information on whether a player MUST come on, after being beckoned by the ref or some examples that IMO end up being time wasting. (My guess is not)
Example 1:
Player A is ready at the centerline.
Coach calls for substitution. Ref acknowledges substitution request. While Player B is in the process of coming off, coach tells ref that s/he does not want to sub anymore. IMO = Time wasting, but player B can either stay on or go off (had permission to leave)

Example 2: Player B has come off, referee beckons player A on, but coach decides not to send player A.
a) wants a different player (My call would be to continue the game with or without player B or A, not waiting for the new player and to tell the coach to have that “new” player ready for subbing at the next opportunity.
b) doesn’t want to sub anymore

Any advice on what is best and most practical (assuming proper subbing procedures)?

USSF answer (November 19, 2005):
The referee can and may not ignore requests for substitutions for any reason other than to ensure that the substitution conforms to the Law. Even if it seems that the purpose is to waste time, the referee cannot deny the request, but should exercise the power granted in Law 7 to add time lost through ‘any other cause.'” And, as Law 7 tells us: “The allowance for time lost is at the discretion of the referee.” In other words, the amount of time added is up to the referee.

If the substitute has reported correctly to the match official (fourth official or the assistant referee on that side of the field) before the stoppage, the referee, upon recognizing that fact, should allow the player to leave the field and the new player (substitute) to enter the field.  If the immediacy of the restart (which is the right of the team with the restart) naturally draws the referee’s attention away from any pending substitution requests, then the substitution will have to wait. A substitution, if properly requested, is a right not to be lightly denied. There are only two reasons to do it: Either the substitute is not ready or the team with the restart wants to restart immediately.

We need to remember that technically it is the player who requests the substitution, not the coach or any other team official. If the new player (at the direction of the coach or on his/her own) decides not to enter the game, then simply restart the game without the player who has left the field. The team will have to play down a player until the new player decides to complete the substitution process–but that new player will have to get the permission of the referee to enter. This will soon put a stop to any more foolishness by the coach. The failure of the substitute to enter the game when the referee has given permission could be regarded as delaying the restart of play, a cautionable offense.

There is of course another issue–namely, the ability of the player on the field to refuse to exit. This also is the player’s right, no matter what the coach wants and no matter how much the substitute may want to enter. Again, becoming aware of this situation, the referee can simply restart play leaving the player on the field and the coach and substitute fuming on the sideline. Life is tough.

Your question:
During the second half of a game referee issues red card to coach.…

2005 Part 3

Your question:
I am the mother of an 8 year old boy who has been playing in our local soccer organization, now starting his 3rd year.

My son wears a medic alert bracelet for asthma and life threatening food allergy. Last Saturday (3rd game into our 3rd season) we were told by a referee that he could not play with the medic alert bracelet. He could either take it off or tape it down. I see in the NCAA rules and US Soccer rules that it is recommended to tape medic alert necklaces or bracelets to the body.

I have some concerns with this answer. One concern is general and one is specific to my situation.

General: when I spoke with the medic alert people about this they were aghast that a medic alert bracelet would be taped to a body. EMTs are taught to turn over the emblem immediately to ascertain medical conditions. Having to fumble with tape is not a good thing. Has the US Soccer organization run this option by the Medic Alert people????? Also, interestingly, FIFA rules specifically forbid the use of tape to tape jewelry down.

Specific: another of my son¹s conditions (not listed on the bracelet because it is not life-threatening) is chronic, severe eczema. We work very hard to keep my son¹s eczema under control. Applying tape to his skin for an hour of sweaty exercise would probably cause a rash that would take weeks to clear up; playing that way week after week would be a disaster, possibly leading to a staph infection of his skin.

Having surfed the web on this I find that some soccer organizations say that the medical emblems be inspected and tape applied to any portion that could be harmful. This I can see as a reasonable solution in the case of a bracelet.

The solution I am proposing, but haven¹t heard back yet from my local organization, is to have my son wear a tennis wrist band over the bracelet, with the words ³MEDIC ALERT² written on it in red letters.

Comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

USSF answer (September 29, 2005):
As we responded to a query in May 2003, no referee should refuse to allow a medicalert bracelet to be worn if it is properly taped. Under the provisions of Law 4 (Players Equipment), referees are required to ensure that no player wears equipment that is dangerous to him-/herself or to any other participant. This means that sometimes we have to sacrifice the good of one player for the good of all other players.

We have responded to questions about jewelry and other non-standard equipment many times. We always state that while jewelry is not allowed, there is two permissible exceptions to the ban on jewelry: medicalert jewelry that can guide emergency medical personnel in treating injured players and certain religious items that are not dangerous and not likely to provide the player with an unfair advantage. Anything that is decorative or possibly dangerous to the player or to others is not permitted.

For further information on the requirements of the Law for player safety, see the USSF National Program for Referee Development’s position papers of 7 March 2003 on “Player’s Equipment” and 17 March 2003 on “Player Equipment (Jewelry).” If you would like to see them, we can send along the two memoranda.

We agree that there would seem to be only one solution to your dilemma, the tennis wristband you suggested yourself, with the words MEDIC ALERT on it. The U. S. Soccer Federation cannot give blanket permission for any item of non-standard equipment. This band would still have to be inspected and approved by the referee on each game in which your son plans to participate. If the referee does not approve the band, because it does not appear to be safe for all participants, then your son will not be able to play. As stated in Law 4, the decision of the referee is final.

Explain the facts of your son’s problems to the league and show them this note. We would hope that the league will show common sense and approve the wrist band being worn. A referee would not make anyone take a wrist band off because it was dangerous so – what difference does it make in this case if it is tape or a wrist band?

Your question:
I am a coach for a girls U11 team and we have another team in our league who has the step-dad refereeing many of their matches. This is not a last minute deal either – he self-assigns himself to the matches. I am just wondering at what level does this become unethical? It is not as if there is a need – we have many wonderful youth referees in our league – however he is the referee coordinator – so he puts himself in those games many weeks out. We play for standings, so does this seem unfair to you? Or am I just being a big wuss?

USSF answer (September 29, 2005):
Your first move should be to contact the league and have the league direct all assignors that they are not to referee their own child’s (or step-child’s) game, and are not to assign any parents to referee their own children’s games, especially once the team is older than U8. If it continues, then other steps should be taken. You should file a complaint against the referee/assignor, as is allowed in U. S. Soccer Federation Policy 531-10, Misconduct at a Match. You can find this policy at , select Services from the left hand menu, then Bylaws and Policies, click on the Policy Manual and it will come up. Then should scroll down to the appropriate policy. The complaint is filed with the state youth soccer association. The league may not realize this is going on, but surely they are paying the assignor and should have some say in the matter.

Your question:
a question on the LOTG ­ this came from an assignor relating to a youth game last weekend: Referee issues a second yellow card to same player in first half, but does not realize it is the same player and allows the player to remain in the game (apparently wrote the first number down incorrectly). Is approached at the half by the team manager of the opposing team who politely inquires why the player was not sent off ? In discussion with the ARs the referee now understands he has made an error, but believes he cannot fix it as the game has been restarted.

I was asked what the correct procedure should be. I could not find this written up in the ATR, Q & A etc., but believe the solution should be to have the player removed when the problem is identified; the team plays short for the remainder of the game; a detailed report sent to the League explaining exactly what occurred.

Would you concur with that ? Or does the match have to be abandoned ?

USSF answer (September 28, 2005):
This question was answered back on June 12, 2002. We repeat the pertinent portions of that answer here.

The referee may correct the error in not sending off the player following the second caution/yellow card, but may not change any events that have occurred since he committed that error. Š The referee will have to bear the responsibility for his or her own error and its subsequent effect on the game.

This emphasizes the need for the closest cooperation among the crew of officials. Such a situation could have been avoided if all officials were aware of who was cautioned. The referee must ensure that his or her method of isolating the guilty player and administering the caution/yellow card allows the rest of the officiating team to know what is going on.

Your question:
In a GU11 club game, a player went down hard and the referee waved the coach on to the field to attend to the player. On the way out onto the field the coach gave tactical instructions to some of his team as he approached the injured player. The referee threatened the coach with a Yellow card. My take was that a) the coach can¹t be shown a card, b) I can¹t find a provision in the laws which prohibits this, c) since any players on the field can come to the touchline for water during a stoppage and they are free to talk to their coach, no advantage could exist for the team with the coach on the field.

Another referee argued that since the coach was on the field, it could be argued that he was not acting ³in a responsible manner² but was at a loss for what to do about it

USSF answer (September 28, 2005):
Unless the rules of the particular competition provide for it, no team official may be shown a card and certainly not cautioned. Under the Laws of the Game, only players and substitutes may be cautioned or sent off and shown the appropriate card by the referee. Coaches are simply expelled for irresponsible behavior.

When a team official is invited to enter the field to assess injury or treat it, that team official is expected to do only that and nothing more. However, unlike games played under high school rules, if a bit of coaching does happen, there is little that can be done about it under most scenarios. A referee should not contemplate charging a team official with irresponsible behavior under these circumstances unless that team official (and only that team official) is giving tactical instructions INSTEAD of taking care of the injury or if the instructions were unduly delaying the restart of play.  And, having made that decision, the referee should certainly talk with the team official first before taking any concrete action to punish the behavior.

Your question:
During a recent U-17 boys match, a confrontation occurred between two players from opposing teams. One player dragged the other to the ground, at which point the player dragged to the ground sat on the other and raised a fist as if he was going to hit the other.

When this occurred, a player on the bench entered the field and inserted himself into the confrontation and began challenging players from the opposite team.

While entering the field without permission is a cautionable offense, the fact that the player entered from the bench area, a considerable distance from the confrontation, then actively inserted himself into the confrontation seems to warrant a send off.

This did not occur because according to the referee his actions did not fall under any of the offenses for a send off; however, in previous refereeing classes it has been discussed that entering the field to take part in a confrontation constitutes violent conduct, whether or not the player guilty of entering actually throws a punch, pushes, etc. Can you provide some clarification and point me to any Memoranda on this subject?

USSF answer (September 27, 2005):
The fact that the person who entered from the bench area “inserted himself into the confrontation and began challenging players” from the opposing team constitutes violent conduct in and of itself. There is no need for further action by this person. Referee decision: Send-off for violent conduct, show red card, restart in accordance with the reason for the stoppage, which we assume to be the foul and serious misconduct by the other two players, both of whom should also be sent off for violent conduct.

You may have been thinking about NF and NCAA rules, which specify entering the field to participate in a fight as a send-off offense (even if no blow was struck). The trick is always to distinguish between the abettor versus the peacemaker (particularly the peacemaker who believes force is the best defense!).

Your question:
1. In a U16G game yesterday, one team had only 11 players. The coach called players off the pitch periodically (sometimes a slight injury was apparent, other times it seemed for instruction, or a personal issue). That team then (obviously) only had 10 players o nthe pitch. The other coach felt that was wrong, and the team with only 11 should keep all 11 on the field unless there was an obvious injury.

One incident, especially, caused the coach ennough distress to yell at the CR that a caution was warranted on a player leaving the pitch ‘without permission’. That incident unfolded like this:
After a play in the corner, the coach calls his defender over to the center line (where he was standing). As they were talking (he off the field, she on the field), the ball rolled towards them. He said ‘come here’, indicating to come off the field, and she did. The ball rolled out where she stood, resulting in throw in for the other team. Rather sporting in my opinion.  At this point the other coach demanded a card for ‘leaving the field without permission’. I personally didn’t understand that, and neither did the CR.

What is the rationale behind that caution – leaving without permission – and when should it be applied?

If we were to apply that same rationale to all ‘cautions’ we’d be carding players for retreating 8 yards on a FK (rather than the 10), and other things that the intelligent referee would rarely consider.

2. While playing short (for one of the reasons mentioned above) when can the player return? The state governing body (CSYSA) has no provision in their modifications to LOTG, and I can’t find a clear definition documented somewhere ‘official’.

I’ve been taught that a player may ‘re-enter’ the game at a stoppage of play if approved by the referee, but does not have to wait for a substituion opportunity for his/her team.

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
Philosophy first, answers later: (a) We need to remember that it is the referee who manages the game, not the coach of either team. (b) There is nothing in the Laws of the Game that requires a team to have the maximum number of players on the field at all times. They must have the minimum number (usually seven) of players on the field, but not the maximum. However, there is that sticky bit about requiring the permission of the referee to enter or leave the field of play. (c) In addition, there is another problem here, in that coaches are expected to behave responsibly, including making brief comments and then retreating from the line and back to their “technical area,” wherever that may be in a youth game. (d) As to cautioning players for retreating only 8 yards instead of the statutory 10, that is a good idea. Why don’t more referees enforce this portion of the Laws? There would be less worry if players did withdraw immediately and not try to game the referee and the other team.

1. While the player did leave the field without the permission of the referee, a cautionable offense, the offense was certainly trifling in this case and was done by both player and coach in the spirit of the game. A warning to both coach and player in the first instance should be enough.

Please note: Players who have left the field “in the normal course of play” and who, therefore, do not need the permission of the referee to leave the field, do not need any permission to return (and may return at any time, including during the course of play).

2. Players who have left the field of play with the permission of the referee may reenter the game at any stoppage with the permission of the referee.

Your question:
I had a ref in our league send me an interesting issue. He was reffing a U12 rec game and issued a yellow card for use of profanity. At half time, he referred to the Laws of the Game. After reading the description of one of the send-off offenses (uses offensive, or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures), he decided that the offense was worthy of a red card. He then went to the team and issued a red card to the player prior to the second half starting.

While my advice to him was that he should have left it as a yellow card and kept it in mind for the next time such a situation arose, I couldn’t find anything that said it was not allowed to “promote” a yellow card to a red card. My feeling is that it’s not allowed. Your thoughts?

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
A referee may not change a decision once the game has been restarted. However, if the referee, in reviewing the information later, decides that the earlier decision was too lenient, that should be included in the match report. The referee should include full details of the incident, in this case specific “offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures” used, in the report.

We can only wonder why a referee would want to caution, rather than send off a player for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures in the first place.

Your question:
This particular play came up at our meeting last night: GK for Team A has the ball at the top of the 18 and punts the ball. However, the ball promptly hits the back of the head of player A on team B who has aleady turned away in order to head upfield. The ball rebounds back toward the GKs net to a teammate of player A (on team B) who receives the ball while in the offisde position (judged at the moment of the rebound) and scores…why should that not be a good goal? Yeah, player B received an advantage off that unintended deflection, but was it really the intent of player A to play the ball there??? Yeah, it touched player A, but so what? Why not try and judge the intent of the play instead and rule it a good goal???

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
There is one very good reason for not judging intent on offside: We do not judge intent on any other infringement of the Laws. The only place we even come close is when judging “attempting” in three of the direct free kick fouls, kicking, striking, and tripping, and in those cases the Law specifically orders us to judge the attempt to be the same as the actual contact.

Instead of intent, we judge results. This works in both fouls and offside and is what the International Football Association Board has made clear that it wants done.

Your question:
I had a quick question. I was reffing a U12 Boysgame where the center referee wasn’t calling too many calls. He was, however, being consistant. At the end of the game the away team’s coach, after yelling the whole game, came and started yelling at the ref. He said the “f” word a few times while me and the other AR where standing next to the coach. The coach wanted to write comments on the game card so we waited. I then asked the referee why he hadn’t carded the coach since he already had warned the coach to stop. The ref said that I should do it if I felt I needed to. I said that I don’t think an AR can.

My question comes to, if some of the comments where directed towards the AR and the center ref wasn’t doing anything, can ARs card coaches, as long as the league allows coaches to be carded?

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
No, assistant referees are not allowed to caution or send off players or to expel coaches. However, they can and are encouraged to submit reports of all serious misconduct to the competition authority (league, cup, tournament, etc.) and to the state soccer association.

There is little wonder that the coach was using foul and abusive language against this referee, who seems to have no courage and little common sense. For the benefit of all the rest of us, please contact your assignor and/or local referee association regarding the apparent failure of the referee to handle dissent/abusive language directed at the team of officials (and for offering you wholly inappropriate advice).

Your question:
Don’t know if there is a U S Soccer position on tattoos for referees. Had a ref at a youth game wearing a short sleeve shirt. Both of his arms were completely tattooed. Would imagine from the viewpoint of a U 10 kid, it looked kind of strange. I thought that he should at least have worn a long sleeve shirt to look professional. Same ref wore a belly pouch to keep passes in.

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
Referees are expected to appear professional at all times. “Belly pouches” are not acceptable wear. There is no restriction on tattoos except personal taste.

Your question:
Here¹s one we can¹t find in our rule books. Does the ball have to be placed and stopped before the goal kick is taken, or can a player drop or roll the ball in the goal area as another player is running up to strike it?

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):

Law 8
* the ball is stationary on the center mark
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward

Law 13
Types of Free Kicks
For both direct and indirect free kicks, the ball must be stationary when the kick is taken and the kicker does not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player.

Law 14
Position of the Ball and the Players
The ball:
* is placed on the penalty mark

Law 16
* the ball is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team
[the inference here being that if the ball was at “any point” it was stationary, but you could probably argue that one either way]

Law 17
* the ball is placed inside the corner arc at the nearest corner flagpost
[the inference here (as in Law 14) is that if the ball is “placed,” it is stationary]
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves

In all cases of a kick restart, the ball must be stationary before being kicked. It is not in play until it has been kicked and moves (forward in the case of kick-off and penalty kick).

Your question:
Must a Center Referee wait to signal “goal kick” (and allow youth teams to substitute and keep the match flowing) or “corner” (and allow the teams to set up) until the AR completes his run, if the AR, for example, is 35 yards away from the end line when the 40 yard shot is taken? It is the Center’s call in any case.

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
It is both tradition and common courtesy for the referee to wait until the substitute has reached his or her position for the restart. The same would certainly apply to waiting for the assistant referee–who is part of the officiating team

Your question:
Team A takes a weak rolling shot on goal against Team B keeper. Team B keeper picks up the ball with 16 seconds on game clock. Keeper punts ball from top of 18 at 12 seconds. Ref calls delay of game and stops the clock with 12 seconds left. Allows team A to set up on top of 18 for 25 seconds before blowing play live and they finally play the ball. Is this a correct time to stop the clock?

(I realize it was only 4 secs before the punt – but he called delay).

USSF answer (September 23, 2005):
We don’t have the authority to answer high school rules questions here.

If this were a game played under the Laws of the Game, the referee would have been totally wrong in two things: stopping play for time wasting by the goalkeeper, who still had at least two seconds to spare, and for adding time (as there is no clock stoppage under the LOTG).

As for stopping the clock, high school rules allow for it (assuming the time wasting itself were valid) ONLY if the goalkeeper were being cautioned for the alleged time wasting. The clock stops for, among other things, the giving of a card regardless of the reason. Without a caution, there was no reason under high school rules to stop the clock–at least not based on what was presented in the scenario.

Your question:
High school soccer—- Kid got a “soft” red card during a game. Team played down 1 player. Game went into overtime. Does the team continue to have to play down 1 during overtime?

USSF answer (September 23, 2005):
We don’t have the authority to answer high school questions here, as no games played under the aegis of the U. S. Soccer Federation play those rules. There no such thing as a “soft” red card in the Laws of the Game. A player is either sent off or not.

If we were able to answer the question, we might say that since there was no requirement under high school rules to “play down” after the soft red, there is no reason why this self-imposed limitation has to last any longer than the team wants. In short, no.

Your question:
What is the correction way to apply the call of Persistent Infringement? Is it two fouls by a player a short time apart or is it a series of fouls over a prolonged period? Does game control figure into the equation? I was doing a U12 game the other day and a player from Team A was very aggressive — on the border between fair play and fouling. He eventually committed an obvious foul and then a minute later committed another. I cautioned him for PI and his coach got all over me for it. I felt this player needed to be controlled before his play escalated into a more serious situation. Advice?

USSF answer (September 23, 2005):
Persistent infringement is a relative thing. A player may commit 3 or 4 fouls during a game and not be found guilty of persistent infringement. However, if that same player commits 2-3 fouls within a brief amount of time, that may well qualify. This would certainly apply to an aggressive player who commits two fouls within a minute’s time.

Players may also be found guilty of persistent if they participate with their teammates in a pattern of fouls against an opponent.

Here is what the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” has to say:
Persistent infringement occurs either when a player repeatedly commits fouls or infringements or participates in a pattern of fouls directed against the same opponent. Persistent infringement also occurs if a player repeatedly fouls multiple opponents. It is not necessary for the multiple fouls to be of the same type or all to be direct free kick fouls, but infringements must be among those covered in Law 12 or involve repeated violations of Law 14. In most cases, the referee should warn the player that the pattern has been observed and, upon a subsequent violation, must then issue the caution. Where the referee sees a pattern of fouls directed against a single opponent, it is proper to warn the team that the pattern has been seen and then to caution the next player who continues the pattern, even if this specific player may not have previously committed a foul against this single opponent. If the pattern is quickly and blatantly established, then the warning should be omitted and the referee should take immediate action. In determining whether there is persistent infringement, all fouls are considered, including those to which advantage has been applied.

Examples of persistent infringement include a player who:

€ Violates Law 14 again, having previously been warned

€ Fails to start or restart play properly or promptly, having previously been warned

€ If playing as a goalkeeper, wastes time, having previously been warned or penalized for this behavior

We would suggest that the system of warning the players that a pattern has been observed be followed. Also, please remember that the concept of a “team caution” does not exist under the Laws of the Game, so you could not caution (yellow card) and then send off (red card) one player for doing the same thing for which you had just cautioned one of his teammates.

The caution for persistent infringement, if rightly understood and used, is a powerful tool.  It says to the cautioned player, don’t foul again because you run the risk (if it happens soon enough) of it being considered a continuation of the same pattern that got you the caution in the first place and, being a second caution, will result in your being sent off.  In the case of the pattern directed against the star opponent, it says to EVERY player on the offending team that they, individually, had better not foul that opponent again because each individual player runs the risk of it being considered a continuation of the same pattern that got their teammate cautioned in the first place and they may well receive a caution for what they think is simply their first foul.

And a final word of advice: Referees should use common sense in applying any of the discretionary cautions. Do not make trouble for yourself by carding unnecessarily and just because you feel the player is acting incorrectly. Your decisions must be based in Law, not some gut feeling.

Your question:
I have a little confusion on the correct restart if a goal is scored by a team that is determined to have too many players on the field, after the goal is scored but before the kick-off is taken. I’m interested in knowing what the correct restarts are, and if there are in fact different restarts, if you can suggest a simple way to remember them. Afterall, this situation does not occur often, but the impact on a game is significant.

After cautioning and removing the extra player, the “correct” restarts I’ve read in various sources, (Q&A, ATR, your website, etc.) range from . . .
1) Retake PK
2) Dropped Ball at top of Goal Area
3) Goal Kick

Option #1 at least appears inconsistent. If goal is scored directly from a PK, AND it’s determined there are too many players on the field prior to kick-off, AND the correct restart would be retake of PK; wouldn’t it follow that the correct restart would be retake of a FK, if a goal resulted directly from that FK?

Option #2 appears consistent IF a dropped ball restart is limited to situations where the goal was actually scored by the “extra” player, (ie extra player = outside agent). However, in most amatuer and youth matches with free substitutions (ie substitutes do not submit a substitute’s card to officials), it would often be difficult to identify the “extra” player. As a practical matter, one of the most recently substituted players essentially “becomes” the perpetrator. A little arbitrary in most real life cases.

Option #3 at least appears the most consistent and most practical to sell. Ball kicked over the goal line by attacking team, and since goal is dissallowed, simply restart with goal kick. (i.e. Same as if “goal” were scored directly from an IFK.)

Any guidance to what the correct restart is and under which situations, would be very helpful.

USSF answer (September 23, 2005):
First things first. Do not get too wrapped up in the Advice to Referees as a source–at least not this year. There were too many changes in interpretations both last year and this year (when last year’s changes were changed back or changed altogether). Once the Advice hits the street it is already obsolete and any changes in the Laws for the current year likely will not be there. The Advice is an excellent source for historical precedent and for continuing matters. When there are wholesale changes made in the Laws or in the Q&A (as in 2004 and 2005), much of what is in the Advice is affected. Always go with what is in the Laws and the Q&A, unless you hear otherwise from a reliable source. The only reliable source in the United States is the U. S. Soccer Federation.…