2005 Part 2

GOAL? RESTART?
Your question:
The goalkeeper is drawn away from the goal area and an offensive player finds himself with a wide open net. Prior to kicking the ball into the net, the offensive player taunts the keeper in an unsporting manner. A caution is clearly warranted for the unsporting behavior.  Do you allow the goal to stand and caution the offensive player after play has stopped? Or do you disallow the goal and restart from the point of the violation? Most cautions are administered after play has stopped, but does that make sense in this case?

USSF answer (June 29, 2005):
If the misconduct occurs before the goal is scored, then there is no goal. The player is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. The game is restarted with an indirect free kick for the opposing team from the place where the misconduct occurred, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8.


AR’S MUST “BE THERE”!
Your question:
At our tournament this past weekend ­ this discussion came up. Where should the AR be when making the signal for a goal kick? What if a shot is taken around 20 yards from the goal line and misses wide and the whole world knows that it is a goal kick; does the AR have to make the sprint down to the corner flag before making the goal kick signal? On page 12 of the current Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees, this question is silent.

USSF answer (June 27, 2005):
Page 12 is silent because page 7 provides the answer. We cannot be any more specific than this: Be there at the goal line when the ball crosses it, no matter whether the subsequent restart is a goal kick, corner kick, or kick-off. The REAL question is, what do you do when that turns out not to be humanly possible? The ball can move through the air (and sometimes also on the ground) faster than the most fit AR and so it is possible for the ball to get to the goal line sooner than can the AR. Nevertheless, the AR must try and, when reality clashes with theory, the AR continues the few short feet (or yards) down to the goal line before signaling. The AR should never be so far behind the movement of the ball that the distance is great enough for there to be an appreciable delay in getting to the goal line to make the signal.


KNOW THE RULES OF THE COMPETITION!!!
Your question:
During a tournament play for a U13G game, the Center misunderstood the time was set at 25 minutes per half and he ran a 30 minute first half. During the first half, in the 28th minute, a 2nd caution was issued to a player, she was shown the red card and ejected. The coach protested saying the half should have ended at 25 minutes (according to the tournament rules).

After discussion with tournament officials, the 2nd yellow was rescinded and the ejection nullified because it occurred during the improperly added 5 minutes of time. The 2nd half was 25 minutes in duration. The Center acknowledged he should have known the tournament rules prior to play, but given the situation, was rescinding the 2nd caution proper? Thanks

USSF answer (June 27, 2005):
Under the Laws of the Game, the referee is authorized to take into account excessive amounts of time lost. This does not, however, increase the length of the second half because all the referee is doing is restoring to the teams the full amount of playing time to which they are entitled. Furthermore, in general, the referee is the sole judge of when time ends.

That is not the case here. The referee has made a mistake in timing the first half. Unfortunately, an error in timing which causes a half to be ended too early can be corrected fairly easily but causing a half to go too long (other than to make up for excessive time lost) cannot. Still, the half cannot be said to be “over” until signaled by the referee. If, during the “added” time, a card is given, regardless of the reason or the consequences, and the mistake is not discovered until after the restart (or, as here, and in accordance with the 2005-2006 change in Law 12, until after the end of the half), the card must stand–as far as the rest of that game is concerned.

The referee’s only recourse is to provide the necessary details in the game report and the competition authority (in this case, the tournament management) can sort it out. If they decide to cancel the second yellow card, the subsequent red card, and the required next game suspension, that is their business.


“MESSAGES” ON TEAM JERSEYS
Your question:
Our local soccer club has a team that calls itself Football Club United Kingdom. On their jersey they have “FCUK”.

I was told USSF was not taking this as the shock value it is intended because if they were to “outlaw” “FCUK”, then clubs would not be allowed to have “GAP”, Coco Cola, etc on their uniforms. Please tell me this is not so.

I’m sure the forefathers of the game did not intend FCUK to be construed as “GENTLEMANLY”. Will USSF become another “tolerant” organization? What if a referee cards a whole team for having such a jersey?

USSF answer (June 23, 2005):
Such matters come under the state association’s jurisdiction since they are responsible for the games in their state. That would be either the youth state association if it is a youth game or the adult state association if it is an adult game. The U. S. Soccer Federation has no rules that would prevent a state association from stepping in and making a decision as to what goes on the uniforms in this case. .


WHERE DOES IT SAY THAT?
Your question:
Are you aware of any written requirement for players to keep their jerseys tucked in? I know it is tradition–sometimes not enforced–but I have never seen anything in writing other than in the annual publication by USSF for referees and teams playing in tournaments.

USSF answer (June 22, 2005):
This requirement was originally carried in the “Additional Instructions regarding the Laws of the Game” for the 1994 World Cup in the United States and in subsequent editions of the Laws of the Game (until the revision of the Laws in 1997):
23. Players’ outfits
(a) The referee shall ensure that each player wears his clothes properly and check that they conform with the requirements of Law IV. Players shall be made aware that their jersey remains tucked inside their shorts and that their socks remain pulled up.The referee shall also make sure that each player is wearing shinguards and that none of them is wearing potentially dangerous objects (such as watches, metal bracelets etc. ).


OFFSIDE
Your question:
I am a lowly grade 8 (since 2001) Š and was at the DC United-NE Rev match last Saturday night. One offside call has me confused. Can you help?

Believe DCU defending when ball played overhead toward NER player in clear offside position running toward the sideline away from team benches; offside player outside PA. But ball so high the player had to be 7′ to get to it. Flag is up for offside. Defender covers ball into corner. Brian Hall stops play for the offside, which leads to an IFK about 20-25 yards from the goalline. I wonder why. Since the defender secured position, albeit in the corner, but was not shadowed, shouldn’t play be allowed to carry on for a “trifling” offisde? Or was the offside called because the defender was disadvantaged by having to play the ball from his corner, whereas with an IFK it is moved upfield for kick that will send it 50-60 yards (or more) on attack?

This was borne in on me Sat night because 8 hours earlier in a tournament U12 game I waved down an offside flag when the defender got possession at the top of the PA and despite screams from the sideline “cognoscenti” of “offside, offside” I let play go on, which led to the team in possession moving the ball upfield and scoring the game tying goal. I felt so smart–sometimes you get lucky. Then went to DCU game and became confused.

Can you help me understand this? I know there is a good reason for Hall’s decision but would like to find out what I’m missing.

USSF answer (June 20, 2005):
There is no such thing as a “trifling” offside. A player either IS or IS NOT offside.

If, in the opinion of the referee, the player in the offside position is involved in active play by interfering with play or interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage by being in that position when a teammate plays the ball, that player must be declared offside. That decision is up to the referee on the game, not outside observers.


EITHER FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE COMPETITION OR DON’T REFEREE THERE
Your question:
Can leagues still require referees to officiate official USSF-sanctioned (or their affiliates, USYSA, US Club, etc.) matches where a game can use golden goal to determine a winner? What must the referee do in the case where he is asked to officiate such a match? As a league administrator we have had several national referees inform us that their recent training classes have asserted they are not to officiate such a match.

Can you please provide an official position?

USSF answer (June 20, 2005):
If a referee accepts a game, he or she must know and follow the rules of the competition. If the referee does not approve of the rules of the competition, he or she is free to turn down the assignment.


YOU DON’T KNOW SQUAT!
Your question:
During a recent coed rec adult match, a player took a throw-in with everything (feet, hands, facing field, ball) clearly IAW the Laws of the Game except for his body “positioning”. He performed the throw-in from an extremely deep squat. His butt was at or below his knees. Not to be offensive, but he looked like he was out in the woods taking a bowel movement.

I decided that the throw-in was illegal and awarded a throw-in to the opponents. My rational and explanation to the player was that his extreme body “positioning” was inappropriate (i.e. disrespectful to the game).

I checked the usually references (The Laws of the Game, FIFA’s Q&A, and USSF’s Advice to Referees) but couldn’t find anything specifically addressing a “deep squat”. The closest reference was “sitting down” from the Q&A:
8. Is a player allowed to take a throw-in kneeling or sitting down?
No. A throw-in is only permitted if the correct procedures in the Laws of the Game are followed.

I remember that the question of the “kneeling” and “acrobatic” throw-ins was raised and answered in either the 1985 or 1986 memorandum. As I remember the Board’s response, they basically said that the “acrobatic” throw-in was legal if all of the other requirements were met and that the “kneeling” throw-in was illegal with no further explanation or rational.

Is there any “official” guidance for this extreme deep squat body positioning? What are your “personnel” thoughts?

Another tangent regarding body “positioning.” I’ve never seen this happen, but I also don’t remember any “official” advice/guidance that would cover such a case. What should a referee do if a player were to take a kick (corner, kickoff, etc.) with his foot while sitting on the ground? What if he were lying on the ground?

My answer: Caution (Unsporting Behaviour) and Retake the respective restart.

USSF answer (June 17, 2005):
Squatting and kneeling are a form of sitting and as such are not permitted when taking a throw-in.

Kicking is traditionally done from a standing position, not on the ground–although it is certainly permissible to play the ball while on the ground if it is done without endangering any participant. Any free kick restart must be performed from a standing position.


SERIOUS MISCONDUCT AND THE ASSISTANT REFEREE
Your question:
This happened to me: offensive team driving toward goal about the top of the penalty box, I’m the A/R tracking the play, defense steals the ball, and the play heads back the other way down the field, with the Referee now having his back to me and tracking the players as the play moves toward the other end.

Now, on my end, things are getting messy. Out in the of the field (and, again, after the play has turned back down the field), the original offensive dribbler who lost the ball walks up and decks an opponent. Questions are this: As an A/R, do I let this slide? How do I get the attention of the Referee – especially since his back is to me and the play is now on the other end? In posing this question to some colleagues, they suggested waiting until the Referee found his way to my end of the field, then wave my flag to indicate a foul, then discuss with him what happened. Yuck, pretty ugly way to handle this – but I am looking for ideas.

Trying to be a better referee,

USSF answer (June 15, 2005):
The assistant referee should NEVER allow violent conduct or any other serious misconduct unseen by the referee to go unpunished. The AR should begin signaling immediately after the incident takes place, meanwhile remembering who, what, where, when, and how. If the other AR does not see the signal, the AR should get the referee’s attention in any way possible, including shouting his or her name. Once the referee gets the word that something is terribly wrong, the AR gives a full report.

If getting the notice to them takes a long time and play continues for what seems like an eternity, then the referee and the other AR should consider giving up their badges. Whether or not that happens, all details must go into the match report.

It should go without saying that the principles of this are clearly covered in the “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees.”


HOLDING THE FLAG IN THE “RIGHT” HAND
Your question:
An assessor last evening suggested that when signaling for a goal kick, I should hold the flag in the hand away from the referee, the hand closer to the goal line, rather than the hand closer to and most visible to the referee. I was taught, admittedly a LONG time ago, the other way. The flag is always in the hand closer to the referee. Where does one go about finding out the current policy/position on these details?

USSF answer (June 13, 2005):
The Federation recommends carrying the flag in the hand nearer to the referee while running the line, but for signaling there is no policy other than common sense. Shame on the assessor for making a big deal out of it.

If holding the flag in the “wrong” hand to give the signal means better visibility (to aid you in further assisting the referee), then do it that way. There is no “official” policy on which hand to use for signaling.


WHAT’S THE RESTART?
Your question:
If a player is cautioned for Impeding a Thrower during a throw-in, is the restart still a throw-in or is it at Direct Free Kick?

USSF answer (June 13, 2005):
Throw-in.


BELATED SEND-OFF
Your question:
This question was raised at our last meeting. A player was not sent off after being given a second caution. Player then scores! Referee team sees their error.

We all agree that the player is now sent off, but….
Does the goal stand? what is the restart? When did the player stop being a player? become an outside agent? In addition to getting to your car quickly; what actions does the Referee take?

USSF answer (June 13, 2005):
As long as the situation was brought to the referee’s attention during the game, the decision to send off and issue the red card to the player is correct. The player stops being a player only after he or she is sent off, so does not become an outside agent at all. Fortunately in this case (because play had not restarted after the goal), the referee’s error has not cost the opposing team a goal.  The goal should not be counted scored.  The referee should restart with a goal kick for the opposing team.

If the mistake is not discovered until some time after the restart, the goal will still count and the player who should have been removed must now be sent off.

If it was not the player who should have been sent off who scored, the goal still counts, but the player who should have been removed must now be sent off.

If the player who should have been sent off is not discovered until after he has been substituted, then that now-former player is shown the red card and the team must play down by removing the player who had come in as the substitute.

The referee must include full details of this serious error in the match report.


NO PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE ALLOWED
Your question:
I was AR in a competitive U-14 game in a tournament this weekend. During the halftime interval, one of the teams changed shirts ‹ they wore blue in the first half and white in the second. Weather and wet jerseys was not an issue. Neither the referee nor the opposing team was informed of the change. We were puzzled by it and speculated that gamesmanship was probably involved (the team concerned had played poorly in the first half but was still tied 0-0 with the other team), but nobody seemed unduly concerned.

Should we have prevented the team changing the color of their shirts at half-time? Would the views of the opposing coach have carried weight in our decision if she had objected?

USSF answer (June 6, 2005):
A team may not change uniforms at halftime without good cause, such as severe wetness and cold weather. In this case, the change is a form of gamesmanship and is not allowed.

There is no need to caution the players, as this is a matter of coaching, not play on the field. The referee should include full details in the match report. In no event should the views of the opposing coach have a bearing on any decisions made by the referee.


DO NOT “DOWNGRADE” SERIOUS MISCONDUCT INTO A SIMPLE FOUL!
Your question:
I was ref on a game between two teams with an intense rivalry. The out of town team was playing at a higher level, and had managed to run up 6 goals against the home team, who gave the impression they were very frustrated.

I would like a review of one call I made. In this case, a player from the home team had entered the opponents Penalty Area and was driving an attack on the goal. He was in position clearly to score a goal, when two defenders came in and basically smashed him between themselves, taking him off the ball. The attack seemed coordinated (i.e., the defenders intended to do this.)

I whistled the foul, and called it as a push under Law 12, since it pushed the attacker off the ball, and awarded a PK under Law 14. Apart from sending off the two offenders for DGF, did I call this right? If not, what should the call have been?

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
Taking your question at face value and the words literally (such as “smashed”), there is only one answer: The foul goes beyond denying the opponent a goal or a goalscoring opportunity. Send off both defending opponents for serious foul play and restart with a penalty kick.


INCIDENT ANALYSIS
Your question:
Here’s the scenario: ADVANCED level of play. Player going straight at goal. Player has beaten the defense by a couple of steps and is going at goal, keeper gets position and forces player to change angle of attack and ball is now NOT within playing distance (close) and not going at goal. Keeper collides with player, they both go down and the defense is on the ball instantly. PK? PK and SO? Cold beverage and think about it?

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
There are several very important factors here: The 4 Ds must be present and obvious:
– Number of Defenders — not more than one defender between the foul and the goal, not counting the defender who committed the foul
– Distance to goal — the closer the foul is to the goal, the more likely it is an obvious goalscoring opportunity
– Distance to ball — the attacker must have been close enough to the ball at the time of the foul to have continued playing the ball
– Direction of play — the attacker must have been moving toward the goal at the time the foul was committed
If any element is missing, there can be no send off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.

The final factor is whether the referee deemed the collision to be a foul, rather than fair play. If a foul, then the goalkeeper has denied the opponent a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity. Send off the goalkeeper, showing the red card, and restart with a penalty kick.

It makes no difference which direction the ball is going, the fact remains that the attacking opponent was moving toward goal.

Afterwards you may rest and reflect while partaking of a cold beverage.


APPLYING THE ADVANTAGE
Your question:
I’m a little confused when it comes to applying advantage in certain situations. Attacker #1 dribbles into the penalty box, where he is tripped by a defender…a clear penalty kick. The ball rolls straight to Attacker #2 though, who is all alone and takes a shot. Obviously, if he makes the shot, I’d apply advantage and score the goal. But what if the shot is saved by the goalie? Do I rule that advantage never materialized, and call for the PK? Would that answer change if A2 shanked the kick badly and it went out of bounds?

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
Advantage on fouls committed by defenders inside their own penalty areas is treated slightly differently than for fouls outside the penalty area. Remember, if play is stopped, the restart is a penalty kick, which, while not a sure thing, is a frequent producer of goals. As referee, you should avoid signaling advantage inside the penalty area–if as an immediate next event after the foul a goal is scored, the soccer gods have been just. Count the goal, deal with any misconduct that might have been related to the foul, and restart with a kick-off. If a goal is NOT the immediate next event, stop play for the foul, deal with misconduct (if any), and restart with the penalty kick.

Do NOT wait to see if the ball is going to a teammate of the player who was fouled before deciding on advantage. Your only wait is to see if the ball is going into the net. If you wait to see what might happen other than the ball going into the net, there is no good point at which to stop waiting. The ultimate advantage following a foul by the defense inside its own penalty area is a goal being scored right away. The next most advantageous outcome is having the penalty kick called.

If you choose to apply the advantage, even without giving the signal, you have only 2-3 seconds to change your mind. Use them wisely.


TURNING THE BACK TO AN OPPONENT
Your question:
Recently in a tournament out of state, at the Under 16 age group, an opponent was dribbling the ball in a fast breakaway towards my next to last defender. He knocked the ball out several yards in front of him allowing my defender to have a fair attempt at this 50/50 ball. Just before the opponent player was to make contact (foot to foot) with my defender he turns his back to my defender. The opponent player slammed his back into my player and fell into the penalty are. The referee awarded a penalty kick to the opposition.

I remember a Board clarification from the last couple of years that states is a player intentionally turns his back towards an oncoming opponent, than that player turning his back should be charges with committing a dangerous play and the other team should be awarded an indirect free kick.

I felt that this rule should have resulted in my team getting an indirect kick going the other way, not the other team getting a penalty kick.

The referee official at the tourney headquarters said he had never heard of this clarification and I cannot find it in the Laws of the Game

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
We are not aware of any “clarification” from the IFAB regarding turning one’s back on an opponent. Are you sure you are not thinking of high school or some local rules of competition?

As you describe the situation, the foul would appear to have been committed by the player with the ball, not the defender. That would be punished with a direct free kick for the defender’s team. This sort of foul is common in youth soccer, where some players jump into an opponent and, while doing so, turn their back. Since this essentially makes them an unguided missile, it highlights the danger of jumping at an opponent with the back turned.


INTIMIDATION?
Your question:
I am curious to know what options are available given the following situation:
The offensive player makes a run to the opposing goal and kicks the ball to the goalie. The goalie gathers the ball and after two full steps intentionally runs into the player potentially an intimidation move. The player clearly wasn’t at fault, but was just continuing his run at the goal. My first interpretation is that the goalie has control over his area, but in this case exceeded his personal space and took a little ‘shot’ at the offensive player. This could be a good case of talking to the keeper and giving a verbal warning. Let’s say the keeper has done this a second time. Is this is a good case of a caution given with an indirect kick taken by the defensive team? I am not sure at what point, if any, that a penalty kick should be awarded to the offensive team if the goalie after maintaining possession of the ball commits a foul. Can you elaborate on this scenario.

I have discussed this situation with some other referees and received varying opinions.

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
Intimidation is frequently only in the eye of the beholder. If the goalkeeper’s actions take out the opposing player, the referee must distinguish between an unavoidable collision of two players attempting to play the ball and the possibility that one of them is actually “taking a shot” at the other. While there may be doubt on the first occasion, if it occurs again the referee’s course is clear. Whether a caution is given or not, if the foul is called then the restart has to be a penalty kick.


KICKING TOO EARLY AT KICK FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
My daughter recently attended an out of state tournament. The game went into kicks from the penalty mark. Here¹s my question: The goalies had just switched positions. The ball was placed on the mark. The players were in position but before the referee could blow the whistle, the player kicked the ball and the goalie made the save. Should the player be given another opportunity to kick the ball since the whistle was not blown or should that kick be recorded as is?

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
The ball may not be put into play until the referee is satisfied that every player is in proper position and blows the whistle. The correct decision would have been to retake the kick from the penalty mark.


MARKING THE ‘KEEPER OUT OF THE PLAY
Your question:
Corner kick situation. Attacking player shadows GK before kick is taken. Do I: (a) stop play, caution the attacker & proceed with the corner kick; or (b) allow the corner to be taken & caution the attacker at the 1st subsequent stoppage; or (c) negate the corner, issue no card & give an IFK to the defense. Any help would be appreciated.

USSF answer (May 30, 2005):
It is an offense if a player who is standing in front of a goalkeeper when a corner kick is being taken, takes advantage of the position to impede the goalkeeper before the kick is taken and before the ball is in play. The referee may either (1) act before the kick and warn the player not to impede the goalkeeper or (2) wait until the kick has been taken and then stop play. If the referee stops play, the impeding player should be at least warned before the referee gives the restart, which is an indirect free kick for the goalkeeper’s team from the place where the ‘keeper was impeded.


INCIDENT OFF THE FIELD
Your question:
A player on Team A (offense) and a player on Team B (defense) are going for the ball that is about to leave the FOP from the Penalty Area over the goal line. Before the ball goes out of play, the offensive player stops it on the goal line. Both players leave the FOP due to momentum. As the offensive player is returning to the field, but before he does so, the defensive player pulls him down from the shoulder. During the whole incident, the ball was still in play where the offensive player stopped it. What is the call? What is the restart if play is stopped?

USSF answer (May 26, 2005):
The offense is violent conduct or unsporting behavior by the player from Team B, depending on the amount of force the referee sees. The restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped (keeping in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).


SITTING OUT SUSPENSION
Your question:
I was watching a high school game where a young lady received a red card in a high school game. She was sent off and removed from the field. However, at the next game she was not even allowed to sit on the bench with her teammates, even though she was not suited out. Is this right? Should she have been allowed on the bench with her teammates?

USSF answer (May 26, 2005):
Sorry, we do not answer questions based on high school rules. However, tradition dictates that the player not be on the bench while sitting out a suspension.


NO SIZE DISCRIMINATION, PLEASE!
Your question:
I am a 10 year old and taller and bigger than my team mates. I try to play clean but the smaller kids constanly push me in the back and put their forearm out when I have the ball. They do not get called for a foul, but if they run into me, I get called and they get a free kick. The other coaches, parents, and even refs have said that is the only way it is fair for them to play against me.  Should my league have a rule like this for taller players?

USSF answer (May 23, 2005):
It is against the Spirit of the Game to punish players solely for their size, whether great or small. The aim of the game has always been that the better or faster or stronger players win. There is nothing in the Laws of the Game about handicapping taller or stronger or faster players to make things “even.” The practice you describe should not be allowed.


SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER CHARGE
Your question:
Got into a discussion with other refs on these scenarios, during a rain delay… All the “shoulder-to-shoulder” contact described is clean, i.e. not shoulder to the back, or elbowing or open arm shoves.

(a) Attacking player has the ball under his control and is moving toward the goal. A defender forces him off the ball with clean but powerful, shoulder-to-shoulder contact that sends the attacker to the ground, and defender wins the ball. Foul or fair charge? Would it be a “fair charge” if the attacker had not hit the ground?

(b) Attacking player and defending player are running after a loose ball, beyond either one’s control. Defender hits attacker with a shoulder-to-shoulder charge, forcing him off his path and defender gets to the ball. Neither player had possession and neither player was playing the ball, but the ball was clearly a “50-50” ball, up for grabs. Foul or fair charge?

(c) Attacker has the ball under his control driving down the sideline, with attacker on his heels. Attacker puts the ball forward into open space, 12-15 feet ahead of him, beyond his control. The defender takes this opportunity to charge the attacker with a shoulder-to-shoulder move, forcing him to the side and defender gets to the ball. Attacker had control of the ball, but then by putting it into open space, did he turn it into a 50-50 ball? Foul or fair charge?

USSF answer (May 23, 2005):
Given your description of the shoulder-to-shoulder contact as “clean” or “clean but powerful,” the only other factor missing is whether or not the contact was done when the players were within playing distance of the ball. Only the referee on the spot can make the correct decision. Let these two paragraphs from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” be your guide:

12.5 CHARGING
The act of charging an opponent can be performed without it being called as a foul. Although the fair charge is commonly defined as “shoulder to shoulder,” this is not a requirement and, at certain age levels where heights may vary greatly, may not even be possible. Furthermore, under many circumstances, a charge may often result in the player against whom it is placed falling to the ground (a consequence, as before, of players differing in weight or strength). The Law does require that the charge be directed toward the area of the shoulder and not toward the center of the opponent’s back (the spinal area): in such a case, the referee should recognize that such a charge is at minimum reckless and potentially even violent. (See also Advice 12.14.)

12.22 CHARGING AN OPPONENT AWAY FROM THE BALL
A player who charges an opponent in an otherwise legal manner (i.e., not carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force) but with the ball not within playing distance has infringed the Law. Such an “off the ball” charge is considered a form of impeding the progress of an opponent (even though contact has occurred) and is thus penalized with an indirect free kick restart for the opposing team. If the referee considers the charge to be careless, reckless, or involving excessive force, the restart is a direct free kick.


KNOW YOUR RULES OF COMPETITION
Your question:
In a recent U10 level game where there are no PKs, an intentional hand ball occurred within the penalty box during the second half but it was not a ³Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity² but more of the defender forgetting he¹s not in goal anymore. The referee setup up a DK on the 14-yd line (since this was small-sided soccer) closest where the infraction occurred and the defenders formed a wall 8 yds away, per county rules. The referee signaled for the kick and again another different defender in the wall touched the ball as it went into the goal. The referee allowed the goal.

In my opinion, this was the correct action for the referee except maybe he should have yellowed carded both instances of hand ball in the penalty area. Understanding that this is still instructional soccer, should that be the case or would it be better to explain to the two defenders what could have happened (carding)?

USSF answer (May 18, 2005):
These must be local rules of competition, as the US Youth Soccer approved rules for Under-10 small-sided games have penalty kicks and all the items under Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct) apply. (You can download the USYS rules from their site.)

While the referee should certainly make allowances for instructional-level soccer, under Law 12, the player who denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball should have been sent off and shown the red card. The player who deliberately handled the ball but did not succeed in stopping the goal might have been cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card.

As your rules of competition appear to differ from the Laws of the Game, we would suggest asking the league (the competition authority) what they want in such cases. And you might suggest that they consider instructing all referees who work these games to follow some specific guidance.


DON’T TAKE AWAY A LEGITIMATE GOAL!
Your question:
Yesterday, I was asked about the following situation which had occurred in a U-19 girls classic game prior to my daughters game: a player on team A who was slightly in the goal area stops team B from scoring by using her hands; the center referee blew his whistle but play continued for approximately two seconds with team B putting the ball in goal. The center referee and the AR lost track of who the player who committed the foul and simply ordered a PK.

The PK missed and later the player, reportedly the offender in stopping the goal, scored the only goal of the game.

Team B coach (for whom I had been an instructor in his grade 8 class) asked me if the referee should have just picked a player to send off or asked the team captain to pick a player. And the center and the AR asked what they should have done (besides the obvious ³don¹t lose track of the offending player² and now write a full report). What should they have done?

USSF answer (May 18, 2005):
The referee should have waited a moment or two after the handling, just as he did, to see whether or not the ball entered the goal. If it did, then the goal should have been scored. As it was, the referee made a large number of mistakes:
First, you do not take away a legitimately scored goal, no matter what went before it (provided no infringement had been committed by the scoring team).
Second, if the referee has blown the whistle (by rushing too quickly to judgment, see below), the goal cannot be scored in any event.
Third, the referee AND the assistant referee should have kept track of which player deliberately handled the ball and attempted to stop the obvious goal or goalscoring opportunity. Even thought the goal was scored despite that player’s efforts, the referee should have sent off the player for denying the original goal/goalscoring opportunity and shown the red card before the ensuing kick-off.
Fourth, if the referee was not intelligent enough to wait for a moment or so–which was the case–then the player who deliberately handled the ball should have been sent off for deliberately handling the ball to deny the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity.
Fifth, if the referee and the assistant referee were not quick enough to remember which player had deliberately handled the ball, the referee should have asked the team whose goal or goalscoring opportunity was denied which of their opponents handled the ball. In addition, the referee should also ask the captain of the opposing team which of the players handled the ball. This doesn’t always work, but it is worth a try.

In any event, the referee must submit a full report on the entire situation to the appropriate authorities


RACIST REMARKS ARE PUNISHED AS OFFENSIVE OR INSULTING OR ABUSIVE LANGUAGE AND/OR GESTURES
Your question:
This past weekend I was attending my son’s u-15 soccer club tournament in [our state]. During the game a player that he was covering called him by a racially unacceptable name. I don’t think the referee heard it, at least I hope not, because he did nothing about it. My son brought it to his attention and nothing happened. What is the rule about this kind of behavior? As a parent, is there anything I can do?

USSF answer (May 18, 2005):
It is a sending-off offense to use offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures toward anyone involved in the game. We, too, hope that the referee failed to punish the act only because he did not hear the remark. Unfortunately, if the referee or one of the assistant referees did not hear the remark, the referee cannot punish it. There is nothing you as a parent can do about it at the field other than what you did.


DECISIONS MAY NOT BE REVERSED AFTER THE RESTART
Your question:
The referee fails to see an assistant referee signal for violent conduct on the opponent and the ball enters the goal. play is restarted with a kick-off and then does the referee see the assistant referee signal. Does the referee any times notices enpower after the kick-off punishment (caution & sendoff)?

USSF answer (May 18, 2005):
If the referee has already restarted the game with the kick-off, the goal may not be taken away. Nor may the referee caution or send-off the player for his misconduct. The referee must include full details in the match report.


AGE OF REFEREES FOR YOUTH GAMES
Your question:
Is there a restriction on the age of Gr. 8 referees. For example can a 14-year-old referee be the CR for a U14 travel game. We have having lots of problems with young referees officiating important travel games.

USSF answer (May 17, 2005):
First you need to check with your state association to see if there are any restrictions on the age of a referee working games in his or her own age group. Young referees typically work only games with players at least two years younger than the referee. It is possible that your assignor has no other referees. And, on the other hand, every state can use older referees.


GOALKEEPER MOVEMENT AT PENALTY KICK
Your question:
The State of Iowa conducted a referee clinic in Cedar Rapids this year with some top notch referees. I was really surprised by one comment which I asked them to clarify twice. They said that in FIFA matches, a goalie may step off the goal line by up to 3 meters as the kicker approaches the ball to kick it.

I thought you had to have your feet on the line until the ball was struck ?

USSF answer (May 16, 2005):
The game is played and refereed a bit differently at the highest level. Work at that highest level is what this FIFA AR was referring to. FIFA has instructed referees to call and assistant referees working at the highest level to flag only SIGNIFICANT movement called. At this time FIFA defines “significant movement” as 1-2 meters, not 3 meters.


GOALKEEPER “SECOND TOUCH”
Your question:
A goalkeeper has possession on the ball inside her penalty area. She is holding it in her hands. She punts the ball but kicks it over her head back towards her own goal. If she runs back to the goal, dives, and slaps the ball away with her hand over the goal line to keep it from scoring, what is the call? I understand no misconduct can be called, but there seems to be a disparity between Advice To Referees and Law 12. Law 12 states she may not TOUCH the ball again once it has been released from her possession until another player touches it. Advice in 12.19 states she may not “handle” the ball again and instructs us to be aware of Law 12, Decision 2 which deals with control of the ball. This may indicate that as long as she doesn’t “control” the ball a second time she may “touch” it. Decision 2 goes on to explain that if the keeper parries it, i. e., she chooses to not pick it up, she is in control of the ball but this implies if she slaps it but is unable tp pick it up, no control. So, am I to understand that in the original scenario, as per Advice, the restart would be a corner kick but per Law 12 an IFK for the opponents?

USSF answer (May 16, 2005):
The Law is clear: an indirect free kick must be awarded if the goalkeeper “touches the ball again with his hands after it has been released from his possession and has not touched any other player.” This point of Law is reinforced in Advioce 12.19:
12.19 SECOND TOUCH BY THE GOALKEEPER
A goalkeeper who has taken hand control of the ball and then released it back into play may not handle the ball again until it has been played by an opponent anywhere on the field or by a teammate who is outside of the penalty area.  This includes parrying the ball. Referees should note carefully Decision 2, which defines “control” and distinguishes this from an accidental rebound or a save.

This issue has nothing to do with either “control” or “possession” (as defined in Law 12, IFAB Decision 2):
“The goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball by touching it with any part of his hand or arms. Possession of the ball includes the goalkeeper deliberately parrying the ball, but does not include the circumstances where, in the opinion of the referee, the ball rebounds accidentally from the goalkeeper, for example after he has made a save.”

To sum it up: Use the Decision and Advice 12.19 to determine whether there was initial possession/control. Then look only for any TOUCH afterward.


ADVERTISING ON JERSEYS; EXCESSIVE CELEBRATION
Your question:
1. why commercial advertisings permitted only in front of jersey not on the short and stocking?

2. a player goal scored and goes toward flag post and moved at place . what action does the referee take?

USSF answer (May 16, 2005):
1. The rules permitting commercial advertising on uniforms are made by the competition authority (league, tournament, national association, etc.). Each competition has different rules.

2. We are uncertain just what you mean in this question. If you mean that a player removes a flag post for purposes of celebrating a goal, that would be considered to be excessive celebration and the player would be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card.


OFFSIDE–ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT OR NOT?
Your question:
Yesterday I lined a match in which the following occurred. An attacker was moving the ball downfield. A defender obtained the ball and kicked it up field. The attacker who is now in an offside position and has indicated by his body language that he is no longer involved in the play, turns around and walks upfield toward his end of the field. A team mate of the attacker who is in the offside position kicks the ball and it hits the attacker in the offside position who is not involved in the play. Does the AR signal for offside even though the attacker was not involved in the play? I did, the CR whistled offside and the match went on. Were we correct?

USSF answer (May 2, 2005):
Despite his best efforts to stay out of the fray, the player’s own teammate dragged him back into the play. Offside, because the player became actively involved through contact with the ball.


GOALKEEPER, FIELD PLAYER EXCHANGE POSITIONS
Your question:
Team A decides to change goal keepers as the game is being played, a field player takes the goalies shirt and plays keeper and the goalie plays the field. They are switching as the game is being played. There is no stoppage. The opposing team B comes down the field and takes a shot on goal, the new goalie makes the save with his hands and punts the ball out of bounds.

What is the call?

If team B scores a goal, what is the call?

If team B scores a goal that is deflected off the new goalies hands, what is the call?

USSF answer (May 2, 2005):
Law 4 tells us that any of the other players may change places with the goalkeeper, provided that the referee is informed before the change is made and that the change is made during a stoppage in the match. If they do it without either of those conditions being met, the referee allows play to continue and both players are cautioned for unsporting behavior at the next stoppage in play. The referee should not stop play merely to administer the cautions.

You need to remember that the person with the goalkeeper’s jersey IS the ‘keeper, even if he became the ‘keeper illegally. In other words, there can be no handling infringement by this person. Why? Because the fundamental signal that a person is a goalkeeper is the possession of the distinctive shirt, not how they got it.


EXTEND TIME FOR PENALTY KICK AT END OF PERIOD!!
Your question:
In the dying seconds of the game, there was a lot of action in front of the orange goal. The orange keeper was gathering himself up from a dive to the left. The ball came to a blue striker, about 6 yards in front of the goal, a little to the right. The orange keeper, still not quite on his feet, could perhaps cover half the height of the left third of the goal. The blue striker, with essentially 5/6 of the goal open, drilled a perfect high shot toward the right side of the goal mouth. Easy score… except for the lone orange fullback between the striker and the goal. The defender jumped high and, with both hands, deflected the ball over the crossbar. The referee immediately signalled that time had expired. What should have happened next?

USSF answer (May 2, 2005):
The referee should have awarded a penalty kick and extended the half until the penalty kick has been completed. Before allowing the penalty kick to be taken, the referee should also have sent off lone orange fullback for denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball.


STAY OUT OF SPACE THE PLAYERS NEED!!
Your question:
I was at a youth soccer game this past weekend where one of the teams were issued a corner kick. The player kicked in the ball and it hit the referee on the field – the referee made no attempt to avoid contact with the ball and actually was standing in the direct line between the corner and the goal. The referee picked up the ball and gave possession to the opposing team. I thought that the referee’s job was to avoid contact with the ball when possible. What is the opinion.

USSF answer (May 3, 2005):
This was obviously a case of poor referee positioning. The referee should have moved to allow the ball to pass, if at all possible. The referee is considered to be part of the field and the ball hitting the referee does not affect play in any way, other than redirecting the ball to an unwanted place. In no event may the referee give the opposing team a free kick for this.


CHANGING THE DECISION
Your question:
The situation: A defender on team A, leading 1-0, clears the ball up and out of the stadium, about 35 yards up the touch line with less than 2 minutes left in a U-19 game. As AR I watched the ball’s flight and directed a bench player for team B where it was. I turned back when I heard the Center tell another player on Team B to grab the extra ball behind the goal, and took my position with the next-to-last defender. To my astonishment, the Center gave team B a free kick. As time was running out they took it quickly, and it was headed in for a goal. After the goal team A asked why it wasn’t a throw-in, and the Center admitted he made a mistake. The question: Law 5 says a decision can be changed if play has not been restarted. Was it too late to disallow the goal, and what would the restart be?

USSF answer (May 4, 2005):
The USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” tells us: “5.14 CHANGING A DECISION ON AN INCORRECT RESTART “If the referee awards a restart for the wrong team and realizes his mistake before the restart is taken, then the restart may be corrected even though the decision was announced after the restart took place. This is based on the established principle that the referee¹s initial decision takes precedence over subsequent action. The visual and verbal announcement of the decision after the restart has already occurred is well within the Spirit of the Law, provided the decision was made before the restart took place.”

The referee should have been paying closer attention to what was going on and you, as AR, should have brought the erroneous restart to his attention immediately. Unfortunately, it would appear that too much time elapsed, so the goal must be scored.

The referee must include full details of the error in the match report.


PLAYER UNIFORMS MUST BE COMPLETE AND TIDY FOR KICKS FROM THE MARK
Your question:
Must players participating in kicks to determine outcome wear shinguards. If kicks are not technically part of the match, I cannot see that they are needed but I cannot find anything to either validate this thought or mandate that they are worn. Secondly, if one player asks to remove them … would you consider it “Fair Play” to announce to all that they are not needed. I would hate to delay an already drawn-out affair, but would not want to be questioned about that decision later either way

USSF answer (May 8, 2005):
In the back of the Law book, under PROCEDURES TO DETERMINE THE WINNER OF A MATCH, you will find this entry regarding kicks from the penalty mark:
“Unless otherwise stated, the relevant Laws of the Game and International F.A. Board Decisions apply when kicks from the penalty mark are being taken.”


SIGNALING FOR THE RESTART
Your question:
According to 13.5 “Enforcing the Required Distance” on a direct kick, the referee “must quickly and emphatically indicate to the attackers that they may not now restart play until given a clear signal to do so.” Here then, is my question: If the referee says to the attacker “go ahead” and doesn’t blow a whistle, is that considered a “clear signal”? And if so, is any consequent goal valid since the defending team was waiting for a whistle?

USSF answer (May 8, 2005):
Advice 13.5 refers to what is called the “ceremonial free kick,” which is what must be conducted when the referee has already held up the kick because it is impossible for the kicking team–the team against whom the foul was committed–to take a free kick. The Law does not require that the referee blow a whistle. It requires only a signal, which might be a nod, a wave, a brief word, or a whistle. And the Law makes no requirement at all for notifying the defending team that a kick is about to be taken. Why should the referee give an advantage to the team that committed the foul?


BE POLITE AND PROFESSIONAL IN DEALING WITH ALL PARTICIPANTS!
Your question:
Is it permissible, after a game, for a coach to approach a referee for an explanation of a call during the game?

USSF answer (May 8, 2005):
It is certainly permissible, but the referee is not required to give the coach any explanation. A perceived “wrong” answer can only exacerbate some situations.

Some referees, while normally very nice people–just like most coaches–tend to get a little edgy when questioned about calls by someone not a referee or an assessor. Surely coaches would not appreciate it if the referee were to come up after the game and ask why the coach had instructed the players to do something that allowed the opponents to score the winning goal.


“MANDATORY” CAUTIONS
Your question:
I have been a Grade 8 Referee for 11 years and I work mostly youth games. Each year I print out the current text of the 7 Cautionable and 7 Sending Off offenses. I am curious as to the logic of making few cautionable offenses mandatory and most discretionary. Can you explain why ŒUnsporting Behavior/j.Unfairly distracts or impedes and opponent performing a throw-in¹ is a mandatory caution yet similar offenses such as ŒUnsporting Behavior/h. Interferes with or prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from the hands into play¹, Delays Restart of Play/all items, and Failure to Respect Distance/all items only warrant a discretionary caution? Isn¹t the issue with all of these offenses the delay of the game? The latter two, Delay Restart and Failure to Respect Distance are far more common and disruptive to the game in my experience. Just last week I centered a Cup game and it was obvious that one team was coached to send three players to stand less than one foot in front of the ball after their opponent had been awarded a free kick. I see this all too often and it is an obvious delaying tactic. Why isn¹t this offense dealt with more seriously, at least on par with getting in the way of a throw-in attempt? Delaying the restart of a free kick in the offensive zone is surely more serious than impeding a throw-in. Free kicks are often goal scoring opportunities whereas throw-ins are usually not. And while correcting equipment is one of my pet peeves, how does re-entry without permission warrant harsher treatment than the delaying tactics previously mentioned?

USSF answer (May 8, 2005):
The “mandatory” cautions are those that are specifically described and required by an individual Law. There are 3 in Law 3, 1 in Law 4, 4 in Law 12, and 1 in Law 15. All other cautions are discretionary.


TRICKERY?
Your question:
What is trickery? Under Restrictions on the goalkeeper page 53 Rule 12-7 Note: Players may not use trickery to circumvent Article 3 and 4. Examples: Players may not flick the ball with their feet to their own head, chest, and knee and then pass it to their own goalkeeper who touches it with the hand. This also applies to flicking the ball to a teammate who then plays the ball back to the keeper. Remember, this same principle is to be used on throw-ins.

The reason for this email is that a COACH CLAIMS THAT THEY HAVE BEEN USING THIS PRACTICE all season, OF THROWING the ball to a teammate, who then DELIBERATELY plays the ball back to the keeper. This is NOT a violation until the keeper uses his or her hands. This act was viewed as a violation and the opposing team was awarded an INDIRECT KICK.

IS THIS STATEMENT ENTIRELY TRUE?? Can an player not pass the ball to a team mate to head/chest etc to the GK?

USSF answer (May 12, 2005):
Sorry, we do not deal with high school rules, which are often not applicable to the world game of soccer.

When considering the possibility of trickery, the referee must decide if the action was natural (a normal sort of play, the sort of thing you would see in any sequence of play) or contrived (an artificial, unnatural play, which, in the referee’s opinion, is intended solely for the purpose of circumventing the Law and preventing the opponents from challenging for the ball).

In a match played under the Laws of the Game, the throw you describe is entirely legal but the subsequent play by the teammate (all other things equal) is not. However, this is not trickery, just a simple violation of Law 12, which does not arise until and unless the ‘keeper actually touches the ball with his hands. But definitely not trickery.


NO INTERFERENCE ALLOWED WITH ‘KEEPER’S PUNT
Your question:
Some refs are questioning whether or not it is legal for a player to play the ball after the goal keeper has punted the ball and the ball is only inches from leaving his foot. They are saying this is fair since the law says “it is an offense for a player to prevent a goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands”. In this case the ball has left his foot but only by inches. I say the player is guilty of unsporting behavior because he is interfering with putting the ball back into play. What do you say? Where is this written?

USSF answer (May 12, 2005):
Caution for unsporting behavior. The intent of the Law is to give the goalkeeper room to put the ball into play for everyone. There can be no interference during the entire act of distribution.


NO-SHOW ASSISTANT REFEREE
Your question:
In a recent competitive U-17 match, the assigned ARs did not arrive by game time. By mutual consent, play began with parent volunteers running the sides. Midway through the first half, one assigned AR arrived and replaced the parent volunteer as on Team A¹s attacking side. At the half, the Referee and AR discussed concerns about Team A¹s attacking players and Team B¹s defenders ³getting chippy² with each other. Believing that the remaining parent volunteer could not handle the situation (in fact, it would seem the parent volunteer had no authority to handle the situation), the Referee switched the AR to the other side of the field. As a result, for most of the game, Team A was subject to the AR¹s authority to call offside violations, while offside violations by Team B could only be called by the Referee from a position behind the play. In that second half, two breakaway attacks by Team A were stopped by the AR¹s offside calls. Team B scored one goal on a breakaway by a player who appeared to be in an offside position when the ball was played to him. The question is whether the AR switch was permissible. Should not the Referee have monitored the player situation himself from his central field position?

USSF answer (May 12, 2005):
The referee is allowed to place the assistant referee where that official is necessary for match control. This is particularly true when one of the ARs has not appeared. In such cases the AR runs one half of the field, using the flag, while the referee covers the other side of the field as well as the center of the field. Only the referee is allowed to use a whistle.


REFEREE, REMEMBER WHOSE GAME IT IS
Your question:
Had an atypical situation in last weekend’s U-Girls 16 recreational game. Four players were absent, including three of our four referees. Two of the four are the sole keepers on their school teams, and parents have told me that they are playing rec soccer to have field time. So, when we were down 5-0 at the half and no one else was willing to go in goal for the second half  (one girl has played in the past, but three weeks ago gave up 3 goals in the first half visiting this same field–she refused to do it again) I put the keeper shirt (yellow with striped black “bat wing” design) on one of the midfielders and put an extra sweeper in the defense. It actually worked-we played much better and it was more than 20 minutes before they scored their 6th.

After the goal, I pulled out that midfielder and put in a forward who was too large for the keeper’s jersey. She wore our gold t-shirt alternate jersey over her royal blue jersey (opponents in black and white). This was the situation for several minutes, during which the opposing coach brought me a green pinny from his bag and asked me to put in on his keeper.  I told him no thanks-I don’t consider them safe in game play.

Three minutes later an opponent threw an elbow into the gut of the girl who didn’t want to go in goal and she went down. Center allowed play to continue (the girl screened the foul-he never saw it) until he saw she wasn’t getting up and stopped play. As he signaled me to come out, the opposing coach walked up to the AR with the pinny, spoke to him, and handed him the pinny. The AR and I were walking onto the field about 10 yds apart and I said to him “She’s not going to wear that-I don’t consider it safe.”

My question for Ask a Referee is: Would “She’ll wear it if we tell her to,” spoken with a challenging tone, be considered an appropriate use of the Assistant Referee’s authority?

After I checked on my player, the Center and AR told me my player was going to put on the pinny. I reiterated that she was not going to wear it because it wasn’t safe. The center said that his AR needed to be able to distinguish between himself and my player so that he could do his job. Before I could offer to find something else, my first half keeper walked up and said she’d go back in goal. We were given enough time for her to get her gear, and the situation resolved itself.

Since we started the game with a gold and black keeper shirt, I would have expected the crew to wear red. But since they didn’t certainly the problem had to be resolved, no argument there. But I was offended by his tone and his position that a officiating crew felt it could require a player to put on an additional piece of equipment provided by an opposing coach without even speaking to me first as the coach of that player.

Did they overstep their authority. Is it not limited to “She can’t remain on the field in that shirt” and leave it to me to pull her off and come up with an alternative?

USSF answer (May 12, 2005):
No official, whether referee, assistant referee, or fourth official, should ever speak to anyone in a “challenging” tone. Referees should be firm and professional, but not aggressive.

As to the goalkeeper jersey, no official has the authority to declare that a player must wear any particular item of equipment. The referee’s authority extends only to enforcing the requirements of Law 3 and 4 as regards the keeper’s jersey. If, despite having accepted the gold color earlier in the match, the referee decides that the gold color cannot be worn by the keeper, the most that can be done is to require a change in color but not to force the wearing of a specific jersey. If the referees chose to wear gold despite the original partial conflict with the goalkeeper, they should not quibble over the tee shirt. Nor should referees accept information of any sort on the other team’s colors from the opposing team’s coach.

Referees need to remember that they are there for the players and the good of the game, not vice versa.


CORRECT RESTART?
Your question:
My question is from the recent BOLTON WANDERERS v CHELSEA match. The Referee correctly cautioned a Chelsea defender (Claude Makelele ) for “unsporting behaviour” because he impeded a throw-in. The Referee awarded an indirect kick.

Shouldn’t the throw be retaken? Doesn’t the misconduct occur PRIOR to the ball going into play? After the ball is in play, isn’t the defender allowed to attempt to play the ball?

FIFA’ 2004 Q&A page 44:
5. An opponent stands in front of a player at a throw-in to impede him. What action does the referee take?
He allows the throw-in to be taken if the opponent remains stationary and inside the field of play. If he moves or gesticulates to distract the thrower, he is cautioned for unsporting behaviour.

USSF answer (May 14, 2005):
As the IFAB Q&A suggests, the throw-in should be retaken if there has been interference. Something else may have occurred that we are unaware of to cause the referee to restart with an indirect free kick following the caution.


STEPPING ON PEOPLE’S TOES
Your question:
We were in a game last Saturday where the girls on my team were complaining that the girls on the other team were going out of their way to step on their toes. They said that they were looking down at our girls feet to make sure that they landed on top of their feet. One of our girls had to come out because her feet were so bruised from this. Whether or not this is true. . .Is this illegal? If so what should a referee call?

USSF answer (April 28, 2005):
No, this is not legal. The referee should call kicking and award a direct free kick (or penalty kick, if appropriate).


IMPEDING THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
High school soccer match (Varsity girls), Corner kick situation. Team B taking corner kick and places a player right next to the keeper. Team A Keeper, after the ball has been struck, trying to get to the ball or position herself in a better position, is screened (not touched) by the Team B player. During this time the Keeper hooks her arm around the player to “get her out of the way” and proceeds to get to the ball. Can you clarify the ruling on this particular situation. From what I was told the keeper cannot be touched inside the 6 yard box, But in this situation the keeper did the touching.

And if Team B player is called for obstruction what is the ruling?

USSF answer (April 28, 2005):
We are not authorized to speak on the rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations, but we can say with some confidence that this answer pertains under the Laws of the Game: If, prior to a corner kick, a player deliberately positions herself so as to obstruct the view and limit the ability of the goalkeeper to play the ball–and does not make any attempt to play the ball herself–then she is guilty of impeding the progress of the goalkeeper. As this offense occurred before the pushing by the goalkeeper, the team of the player who impeded the goalkeeper is punished by the award of an indirect free kick to the goalkeeper’s team.


ENTERING THE PENALTY AREA EARLY
Your question:
I have been watching clips of MLS games online. Several of them have featured penalty kicks. What I noticed is before the kick is taken, a player or players run within the penalty area. I have taken note that none of the kicks have been ordered retaken, even when it has been a player of the same team taking the kick. Why is it that the kicks are not being retaken? One example has a player of the same team standing almost next to the kicker right after the kick was taken. It is my understanding of the Laws of the Game that when an offensive player incroaches into the penalty area before the kick is taken, the kick must be retaken if it enters the goal.

USSF answer (April 28, 2005):
If a player of the opposing team enters early and the goal is scored, there is no need to retake the penalty kick. If, in this case, the goal is not scored, play continues. If a member of the kicking team enters early and a goal is scored, the kick must be retaken. If the goal is not scored, play continues.

The only other conceivable reason for this (aside from possible referee error) is that the referee has deemed the infringement trifling or doubtful.


NO TWO-REFEREE GAMES, PLEASE!
Your question:
Recently I reffed a U10 match with another referee in a 2 man system. During a throw in for the red team, the black team(thinking it was their throw in) decided to sub 3 players without being called onto the field. The red team threw the ball in, dribbled down and scored as the black team was illegally subsituting their 3 defenders. After I signaled the goal, the other referee said that the black team had illegally substituted and that the ball must be called back to the touchline for a re-throw. Of course the red team coach was livid for being denied a goal. What should have been the proper call?

USSF answer (April 27, 2005):
This case clearly demonstrates one of the problems with the dual system of control: things happen that go unobserved and uncorrected for too long. Of course, it would be easier if the referees communicated a bit better with one another. It also illustrates the problems with playing under rules of competition that run counter to Law 3 and Law 5. It’s not simply an issue of efficiency or effectiveness: Law 5 clearly prohibits the use of the dual system (two referees) and referees need to understand the consequences of participating in it (lack of insurance coverage, inability to provide support if problems develop, can’t count games for upgrade requirements, eventual hair loss, etc.).

After cautioning the three black team players for entering the field without permission and the three other black team players for leaving the field without permission, the referee will award the goal and restart with a place kick, aka kick-off, for the black team.


“TOUCHED” EQUALS “PLAYED BY” EQUALS “MADE CONTACT WITH”
Your question:
A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of The Referee, involved in active play by:
* interfering with play; or
* interfering with an opponent; or
* gaining an advantage by being in that position.

My question is what is the definition of “touches” in this context? It’s always been my impression that a player should be playing the ball intentionally. But this implies that if one offensive player plays the ball forward and it deflects off of another offensive player, the last “touch” is what determines when the ball was played toward determining if someone is to be penalized for being offside.

The scenario that brings this up is as follows:
Offensive player A plays the ball toward the goal in an attempt to lead one of her strikers, Player B. At the time A plays the ball, player B is onside. The ball played by player A goes into a mix of players while Player B is outside that group. The ball hits someone in the group but the AR is unable to determine whether it “touches” an offensive player or defensive player. But because of the deflection, when player B receives the ball, she is two yards past the group of players all alone collecting the ball and in on the goalie solo where she scores. Since the AR could not determine whether it had touched an offensive or defensive player, the AR allows the play to be onside. Before awarding the goal, in consultation with the Center, the Center was also unable to determine who touched the ball in the “mixer”. Therefore the goal was awarded.

A. Was this the proper procedure? (I hope so as I was the AR).
B. If it was determined that the ball deflected off of an offensive player within the mix and was noted by either the AR or the Center, should player B be penalized for offside since the law says “at the moment the ball was touched” which in the case would imply that B should be penalized for being offside.
C. If it was touched by a defender, should player B be penalized? (I would think this is clearly NO but just to be sure.

USSF answer (April 26, 2005):
Under the Laws of the Game, “touched” equals “played by” equals “made contact with.”

To your questions:
A. If the assistant referee cannot be absolutely clear that the player (in this case, B) was in an offside position and actively involved in play at the moment the ball was played by a TEAMMATE, then there is no offside.
B. Yes, offside.
C. No, not offside. The ball must have been played or touched by or have made contact with a teammate.


IF YOU COACH, COACH, BUT DON’T TELL THE REFEREES HOW TO DO THEIR JOB!
Your question:
I have a question for you that has happened to me for a couple of games now. A coach/referee grade 8 has at half time has gone over to assistant referee’s refing a game with me speaking to them and instructing them in how to make calls and when to. What can or should I do when this happens? I know the man is a good referee but I find this set of actions very unprofessional.

USSF answer (April 26, 2005):
This is gamesmanship of the worst sort. Firmly and politely remind such coaches that today they are coaches, not referees, and that their behavior is irresponsible. If such behavior continues, they will be expelled.


GOALKEEPER MOVES FORWARD EARLY ON PENALTY KICK
Your question:
As AR in a state cup match earlier today, I had the dubious pleasure of calling encroachment on the goalkeeper when she made a save. Because she made the save and immediately distributed the ball, I raised my flag and stood at my position until the center saw me and blew the whistle. Later, after the match, a criticism offered by a parent spectator who also refs was that I should have been more subtle with my signal. I had raised the flag because it was part of the pregame, and if I had been “subtle” the center may have missed my statuesque pose and proceded with the game. What were the correct mechanics?

USSF answer (April 21, 2005):
We are not precisely certain what you mean by “encroachment” by the goalkeeper. The only reasonable assumption to make is that you mean that the goalkeeper moved forward from the goal line before a penalty kick was in play. If that is so, then here is the answer.

There are no “correct” mechanics for what you did. You followed the instructions given by the referee during the pregame conference, which is precisely what assistant referees are told to do in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees”: “Waits for the referee to begin supervising the restart and then moves quickly to the intersection of the goal line and the penalty area line to prepare for the duties assigned by the referee in the pregame conference.”


NO FOOTBALL CLEATS!
Your question:
Is it illegal to play soccer in football cleats and if so what is the documented danger of such a practice?

USSF answer (April 21, 2005):
It is illegal to play soccer in football cleats of the traditional sort with toe cleats, even if the toe cleats are cut off. Nor is it legal to play in baseball cleats. There is no documentation on this, other than the requirement that players’ equipment must be safe for them and all participants. Traditional football cleats are unsafe and not permitted in soccer games.


SHOWING CARDS AFTER A MATCH HAS BEEN COMPLETED
Your question:
May a referee show cards to players after the game is over?

USSF answer (April 20, 2005):
Yes, the referee may display the cards after the game is over but the referee is still in the immediate vicinity of the field. However, that is not a matter of any moment for this particular question. Even if no cards are to be shown after the game, the referee must still submit a full report of such events to the proper authorities. That is all a disciplinary panel needs to make a decision.

What counts in punishment for players is what the referee says in the report, not whether the referee showed a card.


GOALKEEPER AND FIELD PLAYER EXCHANGE POSITIONS
Your question:
I witnessed a game this week where one team, due to school vacations, only had 11 players, two of whom were normally goalies. Thus this team was forced to play one on the field. Neither one, however, was in great shape to play a full game on a warm day, so every 10-15 minutes their coach switched the two of them. Since both were on the field (and had to be, since no subs were available), this obviously delayed play for a few moments while the goalie jersey was exchanged. The referee allowed the first switch but refused to allow the next one. He told the team that they would have to play with 10 on the field while the goalie-to-be went to the sideline and put on another goalie jersey. Then they could sub and continue to play with 10 until the goalie who left the field had her jersey/gloves off and was ready to sub in as a field player.

My questions. How often can a team switch goalies in a situation like this, where it does not appear to be just a time-wasting maneuver? Even if some time is lost, can’t that just be added in as stoppage time? (Note: this was not in a tournament or any situation where adding time is not allowed.)

USSF answer (April 20, 2005):
The team may make the switch as often as it wishes, following the guidelines outlined by the referee in your situation. Any time lost is simply added to the time in the period of play.


PLEASE DON’T INVENT FOULS
Your question:
The opposing team had the ball right in front of our goal and it seemed like every player on the field was within the penalty box, kicking the ball every which way. (This was a U-10 match before you wonder what the heck they thought they were doing – lol!)

One of the opposing players kicked the ball toward the goal, our goalie dove on it. As he dove, another one of their players jumped between him and the ball so that when he hit the ground, cradling the ball, the opposing player’s leg was trapped between him and the ball.

The referee called a foul on the goalie for “tackling”. The coach felt if anything should have been called, it should have been on the opposing player for “interference with the goalie”.

Your take??

USSF answer (April 20, 2005):
Our call? No foul either way. Both seem to have been playing the ball. As long as the goalkeeper retained control, the referee should have let it go.


REPORTING PLAYER INJURY IS IMPORTANT!
Your question:
At a recent tournament in Missouri, a player in a U15 final was struck in the face by a hard shot. The referee stopped play to evaluate the injury. The match was over within five minutes after play was restarted.

After the game, one of the coaches of that team asked the referee to make a note of the injury on the game card and/or to complete a game report in order to record the event for insurance purposes. The referee refused.

The player had surgery for a torn retina and will miss 2 weeks of school and 6 weeks of sports.

Is there an official ussf policy regarding any suggestion/requirement for referee responsibilities in situations like this?

USSF answer (April 20, 2005):
The referee must note any serious injuries on the match report, no matter what the level of play.


STOPPING PLAY TO CAUTION A PLAYER
Your question:
[A referee from another country asks] During the game, there is a penalty. The player of team ‘A’ going to shoot, he ran ans shoot and….
a) The player of team ‘B’ take his shoes and throw it to ball and crash with ball.
b) The player of team ‘A’ take his shoes and throw it to ball and crash with ball.
c)The player of team ‘A’ and team ‘b’ take his shoes and throw it to ball and crash with ball

opinion?

USSF answer (April 20, 2005):
Can it be true that a player of the team taking the penalty kick would sabotage his own team’s effort to score a goal?

Your question suggests that the ball was already kicked by the identified kicker (and thus in play). If that is true, then these are the correct answers:
a) If the goal is scored, the player from team B is cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior. The correct restart is a kick-off. If the goal is not scored, the player is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. The correct restart is a retake of the penalty kick.
b) If the goal is scored, the player from team A is cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior. The correct restart is a retake of the penalty kick. If the goal is not scored, the player of team A is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. If the ball left the field, then the correct restart is a corner kick or a goal kick. If the ball remained in play, the referee stops play and, after cautioning the player of team A, restarts with a direct free kick for team B.
c) Because the kick was not properly completed, it must be retaken. But first the referee must caution both players for unsporting behavior and show the yellow card.


STOPPING PLAY TO CAUTION A PLAYER
Your question:
During a match, near midfield there is a play on the ball by White 9 and Blue 8. During the challenge white 9 simulates a dive in attempt to draw a foul. Blue 8 wins the ball and proceeds to goal. The referee applies the advantage clause. Blue 8 shoots on goal and the goalie collects the ball. The referee now stops play and proceeds to move back up field to issue a caution to white 9 for diving. While he is issuing the caution, the keeper, who is still holding the ball, kicks out at blue 8 (this is a deliberate kick but not a malicious kick). This is noticed by the AR who raises his flag. There is a conference between referee and AR.  The referee then . . .

What should the restart be? Where should the restart be? Should there be a sanction for the goalkeeper, if so what is it?

USSF answer (April 14, 2005):
The restart should be an indirect free kick from the place where the original infringement occurred. Why on earth would the referee have stopped the game to run back up field to punish non-dangerous misconduct? It would have been better to wait until the ball went out of play (for whatever reason) and then punish the misconduct.

The goalkeeper must be sent off for violent conduct and shown the red card. This could have been prevented by not stopping play to run back up the field. The intelligent referee will keep play moving along whenever possible. A busy player doesn’t have as much time to get into trouble as an idle player.


“KICKING” IN KICK RESTARTS
Your question:
Since the change to Law 13, “the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves”, an occasional team has resorted to trickery to circumvent the following: ” … the kicker does not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player”. It happens more often on corner kicks when the defending team is usually more than ten yards from the ball.

The first player sets the ball for a corner kick, taps it lightly so that it moves indiscernibly to opponents. The player then pretends to move away, leaving the ball for another teammate to take the kick. The second teammate approaches the ball and then starts to dribble it. All of this is legal, however it appears like trickery to circumvent the rules.

More often than not this causes one of the officials to think there has been an infraction. The ensuing interaction between official(s) and the team often results in more serious problems. Another problem occurs when the defending team is aware of this and treats every situation like this, then there can be failure to be ten yards away when an attacking team’s second player thinks he really is the first player and was not trying to play this trick.

What opinion does USSF or FIFA have on this?

USSF answer (April 13, 2005):
The Law should be enforced as written–if, in the opinion of the referee, the player actually “kicked” the ball within the meaning of the Law, then the kick should be allowed. If not, then punish the kicking team by making them retake the kick. Under no circumstances should the referee caution any kicking team member for this, as has happened elsewhere than in your state.

As to kicking the ball within the meaning of the Law, your best reference is the Addendum to the Memorandum 1997 on the changes in the Laws:
QUOTE
General Note Regarding Restarts
“Memorandum 1997” discussed amendments to the Laws of the Game affecting all free kick, corner kick, penalty kick, and kick-off restarts. These amendments centered on the elimination of the ball moving the “distance of its circumference” before being considered in play. In all such cases, the ball is now in play when it is “kicked and moves” (free kicks and corner kicks) or when it is “kicked and moves forward” (kick-offs and penalty kicks). IFAB has emphasized that only minimal movement is needed to meet this requirement.
USSF Advice to Referees: further clarification from IFAB suggests that, particularly in the case of free kicks and corner kicks, such minimal movement might include merely touching the ball with the foot. Referees are reminded that they must observe carefully the placing of the ball and, when it is properly located, any subsequent touch of the ball with the foot is sufficient to put the ball into play. Referees must distinguish between such touching of the ball to direct it to the proper location for the restart and kicking the ball to perform the restart itself. In situations where the ball must move forward before it is in play (kick-offs and penalty kicks), there should be less difficulty in applying the new language since such kicks have a specific location which is easily identified.
END OF QUOTE

This “touch” of the ball must be in a kicking movement, not simply a tap on the top of the ball.


TIME WASTING?
Your question:
During a top-level men’s amateur game, Team A is leading 5:3 with about 15 minutes from time. With the ball on AR2’s side of the field, and the ball being on the touch-line (half the ball was in-play and half was out-of-bounds), Team A’s defender casually kicks the ball 30 yards out of bounds. The nearest Team B attacker 10 yards away and nobody pressuring him to play the ball.

I felt Team A’s defender was trying to waste time in order to preserve his team’s 2-goal lead and cautioned him for Delaying a Restart since it obviously took a few minutes to re-start play. This player also had an earlier caution for dissent and this was his second booking. Was I correct in cautioning for Delaying a Restart or, if a caution was to be given, should I have booked him for Unsporting Behavior for an act which shows lack of respect of the game (Citation: 7+7 Cautionable and Sending-Off Offenses: Professional Division Points System)

USSF answer (April 13, 2005):
No, you were not correct to caution him at all. He could not be cautioned for delaying the restart, as he was the one who caused the restart, not prevented its being taken. And his action was not disrespectful of the game, it is a traditional part of the game.

What you should have done was to speak loudly enough to him so that others on his team could hear you say, “I am adding time for that.” And you could, of course, have reminded him that he was sitting on a previous caution. Somehow that helps keep players straight. Actually giving a second caution for this offense could be dangerous to your health, not to mention your control of the match.


PUSHY ARs
Your question:
My question concerns the proper procedure for the center ref to take if he/she feels that one of the ARs is calling too many offsides, that is, they are seeing offside infractions that the center does not feel are taking place, possibly from being overzealous to the point of trying to detect offside when the determining factor is a matter of inches and not feet. This question arose from a U14 girls match wherein play was dominant in one half of the field throughout the whole game. In the first half 2-3 offside calls were made against the red team by AR-2. Then within about 10-15 minutes into the second half, AR-1, who now had most of the play in their portion of the field, had signalled for offside approximately 5 times, with perhaps two or three of those calls being seen and seeming valid to the center ref. Some of these calls took the center ref completely by surprise, as he let play continue, unaware of the offside call further back toward the midfield, until other players spoke up about it. The center ref began to feel that the AR was sort of “splitting hairs” that in soccer terms might be considered trifling. The center ref, in themselves not seeing some of these offside infractions, began to feel that the flow of the game was being squelched by the AR’s continual offside calls every few minutes. I would appreciate learning what would be considered the proper procedure for both the center ref and also for the AR in this situation.

Eventually the center ref asked the AR to hold back a little bit, and subsequently waved off two or three later offside calls, when it appeared that the AR had not changed their hairline standard of determining offside. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this question.

USSF answer (April 12, 2005):
Without going into a full review of what does or does not constitute offside and the job of the assistant referee, both of which are fully covered in the USSF publications “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” and “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees,” we might comment that this entire subject is best covered in the pregame conference among the officials. In the pregame conference, the referee can outline what he or she wants the ARs to signal and NOT to signal, keeping in mind the information in the Advice and Guide. In turn, the ARs can ask the referee for clarification on matters related to good game management. In no case should the AR insist on a decision by the referee or go against the instructions of the referee. Such an AR might well be relieved of his or her duties and reported to the appropriate authorities, as suggested in Law 6.


THREE QUESTIONS
Your question:
Situation 1: A parent on the sideline sounds a very loud foghorn after each time her son’s team scores a goal. After the fourth goal, a player on the opposing team immediately shouts an obscenity in anger/frustration at the parent before the kick-off. The Referee immediately runs over to the player and issues a yellow card for unsporting behavior. Was this the correct action as the parent was not a player or substitute? Also as a referee, do we have the right to send off a parent if we feel her language/action is disruptive to the game, but it is not dissenting or abusive?

Situation 2: A player on the white team is dribbling up the touch line in front of his bench. A player from the blue team cleanly tackles the ball and takes out the white player while kicking the ball out of bounds. A substitute out of revenge picks up the ball and violently throws it at the blue player. The obvious call would be to send off the substitute, but would white have to play short a man since it was not a player on the field?

Situation 3: This is a question about referee procedure. I recently worked a game as an AR. I saw a player on the Red team legally shielding the ball with her body. A player from the Green team came up from behind to play the ball. The red team player then threw her elbow backwards in an obvious attempt to strike the green player. I waved my flag, but the referee’s back was to me. I continued to wave until the ball went out of bounds and play was restarted at which point I understood it was too late to make a call. So, 1) was it right that the center referee did not speak to me when the play was stopped to see why I waved my flag. 2)How is an AR supposed to get the referee’s attention if the referee’s back is to the AR, should I have yelled, or run onto the field before the restart of play? 3)Should I have just waved my flag once then put it down when I didn’t get the referee’s attention? I understand it is the AR’s job to “assist” not “insist,” but I thought the play deserved a card.

USSF answer (April 12, 2005):
1. The correct punishment for the use of obscenity by a player is immediate dismissal and red card for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures. However, some proactive work by the referee could have prevented the act in question.

The referee has no actual authority over the spectators at a game unless they invade the pitch or interfere with the game in any way. If those spectators are disrupting the game and bringing it into disrepute through the use of tactics that are counter to the spirit of the game, such as actions clearly intended to taunt the opposition, the referee may inform that team’s coach that the game will be suspended until the nuisance is removed and terminated if it is not removed. Full details will be included in the referee’s match report.

2. The white team’s substitute is sent off for violent conduct and shown the red card. The white team does not have to play short, as the substitute was not part of the team on the field.

3. If the red team’s player attempted to strike the green player that is serious foul play, for which the red team’s player must be sent off and shown the red card. If it is clear that the referee would have punished the act if he or she had been able to see it, the assistant referee should raise the flag and then wave it when the referee is looking toward him or her and, if the referee does not notice the flag within a reasonable amount of time, attempt in other ways to attract the referee’s attention. The referee should cover this situation during the pregame conference with the assistant referees. While the AR might lower the flag in those instances where too much play has gone on after the flag was raised, this is not the case when serious misconduct is involved. While this particular case may have been only “attempted violence,” it is still serious enough to bring to the referee’s attention at the next stoppage.

What is likely more important is what the referee and the other AR were doing all this time. The TEAM of officials should be in CONSTANT COMMUNICATION with one another during the match. The referee should look at ARs for information, ARs should look at one another and at the referee.


GRADE 12 = ASSISTANT REFEREE ONLY
Your question:
At what level of play or age group can a Grade 12 referee ref up to.

USSF answer (April 11, 2005):
A Grade 12 is an Assistant Referee and can work only as an AR on any level game their experience prepares them for. Please note that a Grade 12 CANNOT be a REFEREE on any game–only an AR on those games they are competent to be an AR on.


WHEELCHAIR-BOUND PLAYER
Your question:
We have a seven-year-old girl who is wheelchair bound, no use of the legs and partial use of one arm and full use of the other arm. She wants to play in the match.

We believe the wheelchair presents a significant hazard to all players and the referee. The girl cannot kick the ball, she can only hit it with the chair.

This wheelchair is capable of turning on a dime and moving in a straight line faster than any player that age can run. So far there have been no injuries but there have been some near misses.

USSF answer (April 11, 2005):
Safety of the players should always be the primary concern of referees, coaches, and administrators. The Federation firmly believes that all who wish to play should be given the opportunity, as long as there is no danger to themselves or to others. However, a wheelchair on the field is inherently dangerous to both the user and to other players. In addition, a wheelchair-bound player who cannot use her legs and must rely completely on mechanical means to play the ball cannot fulfill the requirements of the Laws of the Game.

This answer applies to matches which involve players who are not comparably handicapped. In short, the primary danger this player presents is to other players not similarly handicapped. A match in which all players were in wheelchairs might provide a reasonably acceptable level of safety.

NOTE: This answer was also sent to the asker’s State Referee Administrator for further distribution.


“REDUCE TO EQUATE”
Your question:
I hope you can understand me, i dont speak english very good. 🙁

Question: when the match was finished,
Team A->8 players;
team B ->7 players.
They have to shoot 5 penalties in order to know what team win.

The referee say to Team A that they can be 7 players. Now, team A and team B have the same players. The captain of Team B, tells us that 3 players cannot shoot because they are injured.

Team A have to quit 3 players too?

USSF answer (April 10, 2005):
The principle you are asking about is called in English ‘reduce to equate’. Introduced into The Laws of the Game in 2001, the principle ensures that teams begin the kicks with the same number of players.

You asked whether team A must reduce its numbers by 3, so that both teams would then begin the kicks with only 4 players. That is certainly legal, as the requirement for a minimum of 7 players does not apply to kicks from the penalty mark, because kicks from the penalty mark are not part of the game itself.

If, in the opinion of the referee, the team B players were truly injured before the game ended and they cannot participate in kicks from the penalty mark, then the referee will ask team A to reduce to 4 players. However, if the referee believes that the players on team B were not truly injured and that this is an attempt by team B to remove those players who are not good at penalty kicks, then the referee will instruct team B to continue with the seven players. (And, if the referee believes the ‘injury’ is feigned, misconduct would be considered. This would also require a report to the competition authority–i. e., league.) Once the kicks begin, players on either team who must leave because of injury will not cause a reduction in the other team.


FOUL AT TAKING OF PENALTY KICK
Your question:
Both teams are properly set for a penalty kick in regular time. (Not during time extended at the end of a half to complete the kick, and not during kicks from the mark tiebreaker.)  The referee gives the signal to proceed, and the kick is taken.  While the kick is moving forward, a defender violently strikes an attacker.  What should be done?  Obviously the defender should be sent off.

There has been debate over whether the PK must be retaken, under the provision that it was “not complete”.  Some have understood that “completeness” of a PK refers to extraordinary happenings which occur while the ball is still in the initial forward movement – outside interference or the ball bursting.  Others say it applies to any aspect of play immediately after the kick is taken – including Law 12 violations – and that Law 14 says the kick must be retaken.

Can the wise referee allow play to continue for a short moment to see the outcome of the kick, and apply advantage and allow the goal if the ball scores? Or must the kick be retaken?

USSF answer (April 10, 2005):
Having been awarded a penalty kick, the team MUST be allowed a fair chance of the kick being completed–whether it results in a goal or not. Anything that interferes with completion of the penalty kick (fan running onto the field, dog playing with the ball, the ball bursting on its way in, a goalkeeper committing misconduct by throwing a shoe/rock/jersey/etc. at the ball and deflecting it, or a member of the defending team violently striking a member of the kicking team) means that the penalty kick was not “completed.” Therefore, the penalty kick must be retaken after the referee sends off the defender who committed violent conduct.

In this situation, the intelligent referee will hesitate a moment before stopping play to see if the goal is scored. This ensures that the “injured” team is not unjustly deprived of the opportunity to score a goal. After all, even second bites at the cherry are not always successful.


GOALKEEPER PRIVILEGES
Your question:
U-19 Boys competitive match: During dynamic play, a ball is floated into the penalty area from the right wing. Team A striker establishes his position at the penalty spot as this is where he has determined the ball will land. From his established position, he jumps straight up in an attempt to head the ball goal ward. At the same time, Team B goalkeeper, tracking the flight of the cross, comes off his line aggressively (i.e.. like a bat out of hell) with the intent of either catching or punching clear the cross. Goalkeeper, while moving forward at speed, jumps and manages to punch the ball clear a fraction of a second before his momentum virtually obliterates Team A striker, who had previously established his position and had jumped straight up in his attempt to head the ball. Has the goalkeeper infringed the Law or is this similar to a field player making contact with the ball first during a slide tackle and his momentum then upends the opponent? Or would this be a case, as the Additional Instructions tell us, “…the fact that contact with the ball was made first does not automatically mean that the tackle is fair…” and that one of the prohibited acts was committed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force? I’m struggling with this because this is not a “tackle”.

The center referee in this case waved play on (no foul was called), only to stop shortly thereafter to allow the striker to receive treatment.

I have seen similar scenarios played out many times, and the only time the center (me) called a foul and awarded a penalty kick, he was met with a firestorm of criticism.

I know this is probably a case of …”in the opinion of the referee…”, but could you provide a little guidance. Is the goalkeeper, unfairly, getting the benefit of the doubt here?

USSF answer (April 8, 2005):
While the goalkeeper has certain privileges specified in the Laws of the Game, he or she certainly should not be given privileges that do not exist. The goalkeeper is expected to play as fairly as any other player, and this includes challenging for the ball.

If the Team A striker had already established position at the penalty mark and was already jumping up to play the ball when the goalkeeper took off, then the goalkeeper may well have committed a foul and might be punished by the award of a penalty kick–and possibly further punishment for misconduct, depending on what the referee saw happening. This will have to remain an item covered under the wide umbrella of “if, in the opinion of the referee.”


USING THE WHISTLE/MANAGING THE ADVANTAGE
Your question:
When a goal is scored should I blow the whistle? I notice some refs do and some refs don’t?

Also, If a player commits a foul worth a yellow card but I notice that the ball has gone to a team-mate that has a good scoring chance. Should I call play on or not call play on? Then blow the whistle if the play doesn’t end in a goal and card the player that was deserved the card?

If so, what would the proper restart be? A goal kick if the ball goes out? An indirect kick if the goalie saves it? Is this correct?

USSF answer (April 8, 2005):
We cannot make the decisions for you, but we can offer some advice.

When goals are scored, it is normal to blow the whistle, but certainly not required. It is individual preference to blow the whistle or not. The top officials now simply point to the center spot. However, blowing the whistle ensures that players recognize that play has been stopped and often prevents acts that might occur through hard play near the goal.

You may invoke the advantage clause in such a case and then stop play if the advantage does not materialize within 2-3 seconds, as described in the Law. (This does not mean that you would stop play and return to the spot of the infringement only if a goal is not scored.) The restart would be for the foul, and it would be taken after you have administered the caution and the yellow card for the misconduct.


GET IT RIGHT, REF! (1)
Your question:
On a breakaway the goalie comes out hard, sliding horizontally into the offensive player and simultaneously getting both hands on the ball. The goalie’s momentum carries her feet past the 18 with her hands inside and on the ball. The ball squirts out,slightly past the 18 and the goalie gathers it . The lead referee signals illegal use of the hands. The trail ref. whistles and comes to confer. He issues a yellow to the keeper, sends her off and with a replacement on, awards a P.K.. Is this an “in the opinion of the referees” situation? Wrong? Right?

USSF answer (April 7, 2005):
Please remember that we are not authorized to answer questions based on games played under high school rules. While we do not have all the facts necessary (where were the other players comes to mind), we will nevertheless attempt to answer the question based on what is available.

If this game had been played under the Laws of the Game, using a proper number of officials (one referee and two assistant referees), the correct decision would have been to award a direct free kick for the attacking team at the place where the goalkeeper handled the ball outside the penalty area. No penalty kick could be awarded, as the foul occurred outside the penalty area. It is impossible to tell if the requirements for an obvious goalscoring opportunity existed, but the description of the incident suggests that calling that would not have been a good decision. And the reason for the caution/yellow card escapes us altogether.


POWERS OF THE REFEREE VS. THOSE OF MOTHER NATURE
Your question:
This game (Real Salt Lake at Metrostars) was almost as windy as my 1st time at the Tampa Sun Bowl, in 1997, just after the tornado passed through on the 1st day of competition.

Anyway to my question: Many times, during the game, during a FREE kick, the ball began to roll (blow) away. In many cases the players used another player to hold the ball, with their foot, to keep it stationary and allow them to put it into play, properly.

Both teams, when they were defending against this process, complained that this initiated the kick. I can understand BOTH positions? But, which is correct. Wouldn’t this have been better handled (no pun intended) by having the ball held stationary by using a team mates hand/finger, instead of their foot?

Not knowing what, if anything, the referee said to the teams. What could the referee have done differently to prevent all the problems that the wind caused. I’m not saying that what he did was wrong, but you know what I mean.

USSF answer (April 7, 2005):
When such winds are blowing, using either the foot or the hand to keep the ball steady for the restart is permissible. Holding the ball still with the foot or the hand does not constitute either “kicking” the ball or deliberately handling it, and both provide the proper amount of stability.

As to what the referee could have done, we all know that the powers granted to the referee are many and far reaching, but none of them is enough to top the powers of Mother Nature. We need to remember that players and coaches will always whine when they imagine that the other team is gaining some sort of “advantage,” even if they are gaining the same advantage. The referee needs only to remind the players of that.


CORRRECT RESTARTS
Your question:
The instructor for a Grade 8 USSF recertification clinic presented the following scenarios
While the ball was in play, an angry goalkeeper handles the ball and, while standing in his penalty area but not the goal area, throws the ball in a reckless manner at an opponent
1) who is in the field of play.
2) who is standing in the back of the goalkeeper’s net.
3) who temporarily steps over the touchline while running up the touchline to avoid a teammate.

At the clinic, we argued 1) Penal foul for striking. Direct free kick from where the striking (would have) occurred. Send off and red card for the goalkeeper.
2) (a) Misconduct occurred off the field by a player on the field. Indirect free kick from where the striking originated. Send off and red card the keeper.
OR
(b) A goal should be awarded instead of an IFK. Misconduct occurred off the field by a player on the field. Send off and red card the goalkeeper.
3) (a) Misconduct occurred off the field by a player on the field. Indirect free kick from where the striking originated. Send off and red card the keeper.
OR
(b) A throw-in is awarded to the opponents instead of an IFK. Misconduct occurred off the field by a player on the field. Send off and red card the goalkeeper.

What is the correct call and restart for each scenario?

USSF answer (April 7, 2005):
1) Award the direct free kick. Send off the goalkeeper for violent conduct and show the red card.
2) Award the goal, send off the goalkeeper for violent conduct and show the red card.
3) Indirect free kick from the place where the goalkeeper threw the ball. Send off the goalkeeper for violent conduct and show the red card.


“EXPLAINING” CAUTIONS OR SEND-OFFS
Your question:
We recently played a game where the Referee and one of the two linesmen did not speak the same language as the players or coaches. The other linesman spoke only broken English served as an interpreter. When a card was given to a player, he could not communicate what the offense was. This is in a State Qualification game.

Does the Referee have a duty to be able to communicate with the Kids and Coach to explain calls, etc.

USSF answer (April 5, 2005):
The proactive referee may explain VERY BRIEFLY why a player is being cautioned or sent off, but the Laws of the Game do not require it. All the player needs to know is that he or she has committed misconduct. There is no rational reason for any explanation other than that the player is being cautioned (or sent off) for one of the seven reasons for each punishment. The yellow and red cards were invented for just that reason–when referees and teams do not share a common language. The fact that the player has been cautioned is indicated by the yellow card, just as the send-off is indicated by the red card.


DELIBERATE HANDLING/CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Your question:
I was coaching a U14 girls game in [a local] league. There were two AR’s and one center ref. There was a scramble in the top of the 18 area. The center ref was within 30 feet of the ball. The AR (who was behind the center on the sideline) called a hand ball. He raised his flag and told the center he saw a hand ball. When our captain on the field inquired as to who and what happened, the center ref told her “he didn’t see it but he believes his AR”. He awarded a PK. The AR was a father of a player on the team which was awarded the PK. After the game, the coaches asked the AR what happened. He said the ball came off the ground and bounced straight up and hit our girl in the forearm.

My question is this: Doesn’t the handling of the ball need to be intentional and doesn’t the law imply the hand must hit the ball and not the ball hitting the hand?? Also, is it common to award a PK when the center was within 30 feet of the alleged infraction and admittedly didn’t see anything. It seems a PK should be something only awarded when the AR or center is 100% sure of the infraction.

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
The fact that the ball “played” the hand, rather than the hand playing the ball, is a significant one. If this is true, the “foul” should not have been called.

But even more significant to us is the conflict of interest exhibited by the assistant referee. In the Referee Administrative Handbook, p. 33, it suggests that assistant referees should not be related in any way to either team participating in the game unless it is impossible to get other affiliated officials assigned. Unfortunately, sometimes the referee game assignors do not have enough bodies to go around and ask parents or siblings to referee games in which their kin will be playing.

You can download a PDF copy of the USSF Policy Manual at this URL:
http://www.ussoccer.com/services/content.sps?iType=230&icustompageid=9277

When you get it, look for Policy 531-10, which expressly addresses conflict of interest.


NO BENEFIT FROM OWN INFRINGEMENT OF THE LAW
Your question:
Here is the situation: Attacker fouled near the top of the penalty area, referee awards an advantage. Within the 2-3 second window the referee has to determine the advantage has not materialized, the attacker who was originally fouled passes to a teammate in an offside position. This teammate is then confronted and referee realizes that no advantage is present, so he awards the free kick. However, the AR has the flag up for offside. What is the correct restart to the match, a free kick for the attacking team for the original foul, or an indirect free kick to the defending team for the offside infraction? Thank you in advance.

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
The intelligent referee will recognize the situation immediately as the AR’s flag goes up and wave down the flag just before blowing the whistle, thus negating the advantage decision. The restart should be a direct free kick for the attacking team from the spot where the foul (for which the advantage clause was applied) occurred. If the original foul occurred within the penalty area (you stated “near the top of the penalty area”), the appropriate restart is a penalty kick.


THE STRANGE CASE OF MR. BECKHAM’S BOOT
Your question:
In the Eng vs Aze, at the 43rd min Beckham lost a boot. He remained on the field with the boot off, and eventually played the ball. The game was stopped and he was issued a yellow card. Was this because he didn’t step off the field to get his equipment in order, or because he played the ball with one boot off? I officiate youth, non-USSF, when a boot comes off during the match, I let the player stay on, because they usually get the boot back on immediately. Should I have them step off till they get the boot on, or is it acceptable to leave them on while they get their boot as long as they don’t play the ball?

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
We cannot give you a definitive answer on the incident with Mr. Beckham. It appears he left the field to correct his equipment, but then came back with shoe still in hand and then played the ball. The referee allowed play to continue and then the assistant referee got involved.

It is true that when players lose their footwear they are expected to replace it as quickly as possible. This can occur either on or off the field. Not doing so might conceivably be considered unsporting behavior, for which the player would be cautioned and shown the yellow card, but that sounds a bit harsh to us. It is all unclear in Mr. Beckham’s case.


THE SHAPE OF THE CORNER FLAG
Your question:
Could you please tell me whether there is an official recognised reason for using either a Triangular corner flag or a square one. Is there a reason for the different shapes?

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
Flags on the corner posts are intended solely to make the post stand out for the safety of the players. There is no required shape for corner post flags. They may be rectangular, triangular, or pennon-shaped.


MORE ON BOOTS
Your question:
Question: An attacker kicks the ball towards the goal unfortunately the boot of the kicker also flies simultaneously towards the goal. The GK is in confusion. The Referee stops the match and restarted with an Indirect free kick. Is the Referee justified? Since the boot is an outside agent is the correct restart – drop in? Pl. clarify, Sir.

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
The goalkeeper’s job is to keep the ball out of the goal, not worry about flying boots. As we responded to your earlier question on March 8, 2005:
QUOTE
There is no need for the referee to stop the match if the boot was lost accidentally and did not disturb any other players. The player is expected to replace the boot as quickly as possible and get on with play.

However, if the referee does stop play for this incident, the only possible restart is a dropped ball, taken from the place where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the special circumstances of Law 8).
END OF QUOTE

A final point: The boot could not be considered an outside agent.


GET IT RIGHT, REF! (2)
Your question:
I was an AR for a varsity high school boys game recently. A diagonal through ball is rolling away from the keeper in the penalty box, with an attacking player in pursuit. He has a defender on his back. The ball is headed for the goal line and it is clear that the forward will reach it before the keeper. At about 10 yards from the goal, maybe 5 yards off the near post, the defender pushes the forward with his hand in the flat of the back and he falls. There is no way the Center could have seen it. I wiggled my flag. He confirmed the foul and called a PK. At the half he made it clear that he wasn’t happy with the call; that because the attacker was moving away from the goal, and even if he had gotten it was still 2 people away from a goal, “the punishment didn’t fit the crime”. I understand his point, and he is a respected referee in this area, but I’m still struggling with it. When is a foul “PK worthy”?

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
The rule is the same for all competitions, whether World Cup or Under Eight soccer: If a direct free kick foul should be called outside the penalty area, that same foul should be a penalty kick if it occurs within the penalty area.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION
Your question:
What, exactly, is the definition of “possession” by the keeper and what is the preferred call if an attacker violates it? Thanks.

USSF answer (March 31, 2005):
The goalkeeper establishes possession with as little as one finger on the ball, provided the ball is under his control (in the opinion of the referee) and the ball has been trapped against the ground or some other surface — the keeper’s other hand or a goalpost. An expanded definition of goalkeeper possession may be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” downloadable from the referee page at ussoccer.com:
12.16 GOALKEEPER POSSESSION OF THE BALL
The goalkeeper is considered to be in possession of the ball while bouncing it on the ground or while throwing it into the air. Possession is given up if, while throwing the ball into the air, it is allowed to strike the ground. As noted in Advice 12.10, handling extends from shoulder to tip of fingers. While the ball is in the possession of the keeper, it cannot be lawfully played by an opponent, and any attempt to do so may be punished by a direct free kick.

At very young ages, possession of the ball by the goalkeeper should be defined broadly to include having a hand on the ball (other than purely incidental contact). Once the goalkeeper is in possession of the ball, opponents must cease challenging or otherwise attempting to play the ball. Where the ball is being “bobbled” by the goalkeeper, and depending on the age/experience of the players, it can be played by opponents.

If the goalkeeper has control by means other than his hands (e.g., dribbling with the feet or holding the ball against the ground with his body or feet), an opponent is not only free to but is expected to challenge the goalkeeper in any permissible way. As there are very few permissible ways to play a ball trapped by the goalkeeper’s body or legs, the goalkeeper is expected to either release the ball immediately or to rise and play the ball immediately. Failure to do so could result in the awarding of an indirect free kick against the goalkeeper for playing dangerously–and, if this illegal control persists, possibly a caution/yellow card for unsporting behavior.


IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE
Your question:
45 sec left, 0-0 game, linesman signals keeper crossed 18yd line while punting. Ref awards direct kick. Keeper thinks it is indirect because of ref lack of signals. ball goes in. game ends without restart. Score 1-0 favor home team. Ref never warned keeper about crossing line in 79 min. Other factors – field – no grass-dirt- old lines- not visible. Should it be direct or indirect? Should ref over-rule linesman? What is correct way to handle this?

USSF answer (March 31, 2005):
The referee need only indicate the direction on a direct free kick; there is no need to tell the goalkeeper that a kick may be coming toward the goal. Although it is certainly proactive‹and therefore intelligent‹refereeing, there is no need for the referee to warn the goalkeeper before calling an infringement of Law 12. As to the “lack of signals,” as a matter of self-preservation the goalkeeper should know that the signal for an indirect free kick is a raised arm. No raised arm equals direct free kick, not indirect free kick.

We have a number of factors that might have gone into another decision (field condition, lines, etc.), but not the full story of the game here. Therefore any other response would be simply guesswork, not anything useful.


COMBINATION SOCKS/SHINGUARDS
Your question:
We have children in our league who wear the all-in-one socks and shinguards. In some cases, the shinguard can be removed from a pocket in the socks for washing. Why are these children being required to wear a second pair of socks over the all-in-one socks?

If you look at the item in question it really is two separate items, one item just resides within a pocket of the other. The safety of the children not forsaking, it seems that if the shinguards were separated from the socks and not placed in the pocket then everything would be fine, since it would then become the two separate pieces on the list of compulsory equipment.

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
There is no directive from the Federation requiring an extra sock over the combination stocking/shinguard. If it is clear that the stocking bearing the shinguard is actually a stocking, then there should be no problem. This may be purely a local problem, so you should check with your local referee authorities to see what instructions they have given to the referees.

Referees are taught that the players¹ safety comes before all else in soccer.


OFFSIDE 1
Your question:
A forward and defender are streaking down the field in an attempt to latch onto/defend a cross they believed was forthcoming. The pass did not come, and both players were running so hard that they ran off the end line before they could stop. The cross then came; the forward had found his way back on the field and was in position to receive the cross, and the defender was still in front of him but off the field. No other defenders were between the forward receiving the cross and the endline. Was the forward offside?

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
We are normally concerned about the player who leaves the field to avoid an offside and then re-enters to play the ball, for which that player should be penalized for offside. We are also concerned about the player who leaves the field to put an opponent in an offside position, for which that player is cautioned at the next stoppage of play for unsporting behavior.

If both players have left the field during the course of play‹as players are allowed to do for various reasons‹and the referee has no reason to suspect subterfuge or deceit on the part of either of them, then there punishment is necessary if one or both return to the field to play the ball.

What is unclear from your question is the number of defenders. As many people forget to include the goalkeeper as an opposing ³defender² when they count who stands between the player who is possibly in the offside position and the goal line, this is critical in answering your question.

If the goalkeeper was on the field and in a normal position, then there is no offside, as the defender who left the field during the course of play is still counted, despite being absent from the field. Goalkeeper plus defender off the field equals two opponents between the player in the ³offside position² and the goal.

If the goalkeeper was on the field, yet for some inexplicable reason not covered in your question, was well away from the goal line, then the player who returns to the field should indeed be considered to be offside.


OFFSIDE 2
Your question:
A thrower to the AR¹s immediate left puts the ball in play to a teammate. The teammate plays the ball forward before the thrower has crossed the touchline to reenter the field of play. Upon reentry the thrower is behind the second to last defender, ahead of the ball and in the opponents half and is now interfering with play. Offside or not?

The referee calls a PK. Before the kick is taken the defending coach requests a player swap between the GK and a field player. The referee honors the request and the field player dons the keepers jersey and gloves. In some apparent gamesmanship, the opposing coach immediately claims that the players are no longer uniquely numbered. The defending coach offers to take a player off. Run me through the proper way to handle this situation for future reference.

Do you answer questions about NFHS rules of competition? If so, here goes. A player receives a hard tackle and is booked for his reckless tackle. After receiving the yellow card he calls the ref a ³F___in¹ Idiot² and is disqualified. Must the team play short? Our rules interpreter says, ³No². His reasoning is that under the rules of competition, a player must leave upon the receipt of a yellow card and may not return until the team¹s next substitution opportunity. The team may elect to play short. He thinks that the recipient of a caution, immediately becomes a named substitute as soon as the card is received. His status as a field player ends even before the substitute player is beckoned on to the field. Your thoughts?

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
Question 1: For offside purposes the referee cares only where the thrower was in relation to the ball and opposing players at the time the ball was kicked by the teammate (whether on or off the field). If that position was behind the ball or not nearer to the opponents¹ goal line than the last two defenders (which may or may not include the goalkeeper), then the player cannot be called offside.

Question 2: Pay no attention to the opposing coach, who knows not what he or she is talking about. Worry about the numbers at the next stoppage.

Question 3: Whatever we say regarding high school rules cannot be considered official, but common sense and traditional practice argue for this answer: If the player was cautioned and then sent off as part of a continuing sequence, that player¹s team must play short.

Your rules interpreter would give the Jesuits a run for their money but ultimately has to be faulted for (a) not taking into account the ³Spirit of the Game² and (b) not taking into account an equally Jesuitical response that the giving of a caution under high school rules does not automatically and immediately result in the cautioned player being no longer considered a player because (1) until play restarts the referee could always change his mind and therefore the requirement to leave the field is not fully implemented until play is restarted and (2) the cautioned player does not cease to be a player until the substitute is actually beckoned onto the field by the referee.


OFFSIDE 3
Your question:
I have 2 questions related to offside. My first question relates to what should be considered involvement by a player in an offside position. The blue team has a player in an offside position inside the penalty area. Between the two teams, probably 8-10 players are inside the penalty area or just outside it. The ball comes loose to a blue player about 10 yards outside the penalty area who drills the ball into the back of the net. Immediately the assistant referee¹s flag goes up for an offside. The center referee runs to the assistant referee and asks what he saw. He said there was a player in an offside position and the red team¹s goalkeeper was directing his defenders to cover the player in the offside position. I was the center referee and decided with this information that the red team¹s goalkeeper had made a bad decision letting himself be distracted by the blue player and let the goal stand. At half-time, the assistant referee added more information, specifically that the player in the offside postion had been yelling instructions (in a language that I don¹t speak) to his teammates. As near as the assistant referee could tell, the instructions were being ignored. The question I have is, would you consider the player in the offside position to have been involved? Or is this one of those ³you would have to have been there² in order to make the call situations? I am having second thoughts about this and would like your insights.

The second question relates to some terminology that I saw recently in a discussion of offside. The terminology was ³passive offside². I¹ve only seen this once. It wasn¹t defined. And it did not have any accompanying guidance like ³in the case of passive offside, this is what the referees should do.² If this is a concept that we should be aware of, please point me to an appropriate reference.

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
The answer to your first question is the one you expected: You had to be there to be certain. The goalkeeper¹s job is to keep the ball out of the goal, not to direct his defenders to cover someone in an offside position who had absolutely nothing to do with the goal itself. Our opinion: Goal. There was clearly no involvement by the player in the offside position and the assistant referee¹s reasoning on the ³involvement² has no relationship to any of the given definitions for involvement.

²Passive offside² means that a player is in an offside position but is not involved in play. Referees and assistant referees are trained to disregard the presence of any player who is ³passively² offside when making decisions, because that player does not meet any of the requirements for active involvement.


MISCONDUCT BY A SUBSTITUTE
Your question:
1) Substitutes are sitting on the bench and one of them was unhappy about some contact between the opposing players on a few 50-50 balls. The substitute then tells the other substitutes next to him, ³Next time we should hit him in the face². I, as the referee, heard it and waited until the next dead-ball and asked ³Who said it?². The substitute identified himself and I sent-off the substitute for violent conduct (for his comment). Is what I did correct?

2) At half-time during a youth game, a coach substitutes goal-keepers, then takes his starting GK and put him as a field player for the second half. About 1 minute into the 2nd half, I realize I wasn¹t informed of theGK substitution. On the next dead-ball I asked the coach if he switched GK¹s; he admitted he did so and he added that he didn¹t need to inform me for GK substitutions at half-time because of a FIFA memo which was released in Summer 2004 stating that the ref doesn¹t need to be informed of it anymore if the switch is at half-time. The tournament director was summoned over to the field and she confirmed that FIFA did send out a memo in Summer 2004 and I do not caution both GK¹s for Unsporting Behavior. Is this correct about the FIFA memo?

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
1) Your punishment of the substitute might be regarded as a bit harsh. It is one thing to mutter something to one¹s teammates about harming an opponent and quite a different thing to actually make a direct threat or initiate action against that opponent. A caution for unsporting behavior might have been more in order.

2) We are not aware of any FIFA memorandum of 2004 suggesting that goalkeepers who switch places with field players at halftime not be cautioned. The International Football Association¹s Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (Q&A), published by FIFA in June 2004, say quite the reverse under Law 3, Q&A 10:
10. A player changes places with the goalkeeper during half-time without informing the referee. The new goalkeeper then touches the ball with his hand in his own penalty area during the second half. What action does the referee take? He allows play to continue and cautions both players for unsporting behavior when the ball next goes out of play.

In addition, the intelligent referee (and assistant referee) had every opportunity before the new period began to notice that there had been a change in goalkeepers.


²LET ŒEM PLAY, REF!²
Your question:
[A coach/referee writes] My problem comes when I started refereeing select level matches. I see fouls and I call them. What I hear from the coaches and parents (the fouling team) is ³You gotta let them play!² It is amazing to me that coaches who are getting paid think that the rules don¹t apply any more when they play select. I see a player getting an advantage by pulling a shirt and I call the foul. You would think I was making up the rules on the spot the way some coaches react. I have seen flagrant fouls not called in select matches (I was an AR) and asked the referee after the game why they did not call them and the answer was they play a different game at this level.

I guess my question is why is there an apparent change in the way a referee calls the ³Laws of the Game² when the competitive level goes up. I have had may referees that do High School and College tell me that it is ³just different².

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
Experience has shown that as players progress to higher levels of play they expect the referee to allow a bit more contact at each progressive level. That is a good working philosophy for calling the game, provided it is kept in perspective. That does not mean that blatant or vicious fouls of any sort should be allowed simply because the game is being played at the U-14 select level, rather than the U-14 recreational level, or at the U-19 level or the adult level or the professional and international level, rather than at the U-tiny level.

As skills and playing experience increase, players expect the referee to understand the increased likelihood that some violations have become trifling or call for the use of advantage. In either case, while there is no disputing that a foul occurred, the players now have enough expertise, strength, and skill to ³play through² the violation. Remember that applying advantage IS ³calling the foul² and that deciding something is trifling doesn¹t mean that the referee can¹t talk to or warn the player about his behavior. Simply put, all fouls have to be recognized but not all fouls have to be whistled.


COACHING INTERFERENCE/KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
Class 1, Boys U14, one team visiting from one state association, the other from the home state association. In the 61st minute of a 60-minute game, (WE were in stoppage time!) one of our players was fouled just outside the penalty box. We lined up to take the direct kick. Our player then kicked the ball which bounced off one of the defenders in the ³wall² and went out of bounds over the end line. As we set up to take the corner kick, the referee blew the whistle and signaled that the game was over because time had expired. We asked him how he could possibly end the game without giving us the opportunity to take the corner kick, and his response was simply that ³time expired.² (In my opinion, mistake #1) Also note that the tournament rules stated 30-minute halves, but nothing regarding stoppage time, injury time, delays, etc. As in other tournaments, unless specifically stated, the referee has the discretion to add time for injuries, delays, etc.

The game ended in a 0-0 tie, and because of the tournament format, we proceeded directly to PKs. After 6 players for each team had shot penalty kicks, the score remained 4-4. The opposing teams 7th player took his shot and was blocked by our keeper. With our 7th player about to take his kick, we had a chance to now win the game. As our 7th player walked up to take his shot, the opposing teams coach walked onto the middle of the field and started saying something to the referee. (Mistake #2) The coach was accusing our player of having switched jerseys and, thus, taking a second penalty kick. There was about a 5 minute delay as referee and assistant referees got together to sort things out. (Our coach said that the opposing teams coach brought on the accusation in order to ³ice² our player, much like in the NFL when a time out is called right before the field goal kicker is about to kick a field goal.) The referee then allowed our player to take the kick, which hit off the post and missed. Their mission accomplished. Score remained 4-4.

Their 8th player made his PK, and our 8th player made his (Or so we thought!) After our player made his PK, the opposing coach, once again, said something to the referee. The referee then proceeded to disallow our goal claiming that our player had ³stutter stepped² while taking his PK, and did not move in a ³one continuous motion² as he went to kick the ball. (Mistake 3) After a heated debate between our coach, the referee, the assistant referee, and a new referee that had been summoned for additional support in the ruling, our player was forced into taking his penalty kick, once again, but, unfortunately, this time he missed. Game over. We lose. As you can imagine, we had spectators yelling at the referees for what the majority thought was a bogus call.

So here are my three questions:
1) Can a referee truly end the game and not allow a team to take a corner kick? .. or how about a penalty kick? ..or a direct free kick?

2) During penalty kicks, can a coach stop the fluid rhythm of the game by making a bogus accusation so as to force the referees to delay the game while they sort things out? Can the coach be ejected? Can a point be taken away? Did we have any recourse?

3) What is the rule on taking a penalty kick in terms of the kickers motion? I¹ve seen professional games where a player hesitates as he¹s starting his motion to kick the ball. Is this allowed? In the true spirit of the game, should this referee have allowed our goal? If it truly was an infraction, was the referee correct in allowing us to re-take the kick, or should we have lost our opportunity because of the infraction and declared the other team the winners? Hmmmmmmmmmm.

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
1) There is no requirement in the Laws that a half (first, second, or any overtime period) must end only while play is continuing. The only restart which must be completed regardless of time elapsing is a penalty kick. The referee is the sole judge of the amount of time remaining in a game. If the referee has added extra minutes to compensate for time lost during the period of play, then he is also the sole judge of when that extra time is completed.

Let it be simply stated: the referee with common sense understands that time will not likely expire when there is an imminent chance of scoring.

2) Coaches are not allowed to interfere in the match at any time. Such activity is irresponsible behavior, for which the coach may be dismissed and removed from the environs of the field. But if the referee did nothing about it, you have no recourse. The referee is the one charged with managing the match.

3) FIFA clarified in 2002 that the kicker may seek to misdirect (or feint) at the taking of a penalty kick. USSF, in a memo of October 14, 2004 on this subject, identified four specific actions by the kicker that could constitute misconduct:
– he delays unnecessarily after being signaled by the referee to proceed,
– he runs past the ball and then backs up to take the kick,
– he excessively changes direction during the run to the ball, or
– he makes any motion of the hand or arm which is clearly intended to misdirect the attention of the goalkeeper.

To this list the IFAB (the people who make the Laws of the Game) has added that a player who clearly stops in his run up, as opposed to feinting but not stopping, has infringed the Law.

In such cases, the referee should suspend the procedure, caution the player involved, and then signal once again for the kick to be taken. If the kick has already been taken, the referee should order it retaken only if the ball enters the goal. The player must still be cautioned for his misconduct regardless of the outcome.


FIELD EQUIPMENT
Your question:
I was reading this recent memorandum: http://www.ussoccer-data.com/docfile/2005fieldeqpt.htm and it seems to run counter to what we’ve been taught about overhead obstructions. I had always believed that when the ball hit something like a tree or overhead wires, it was still in play. However, this memorandum would indicate that play should be stopped and restarted with a dropped ball. Could you please clarify?

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
The position paper applies to transient, nonpermanent equipment, such as the skycam, but not to permanent, pre-existing conditions (see Advice to Referees, 1.8), such as overhanging branches, where park districts or schools do not give permission to cut branches, or power lines, which cannot be moved in any way.


GET THE RESTART RIGHT, PLEASE
Your question:
I was the AR on a game this last weekend. White is playing Blue. An offside call was blown on Blue while attacking Whites goal. This occurred about 15-20 yards from the top of the goal box. Referee puts his hand up and announces play. The ball was not in the position of the call or in line with the AR on that side of the field (it rolled to the keeper who was back another 10 yards) and the keeper kicks the ball forward (here is where it gets, iffy) to what she believed to place the ball in the correct position. Blue runs and kicks the ball into the goal. Goal was allowed. Was this correct? or should the goal be disallowed?

USSF answer (March 22, 2005):
The referee should not have allowed play to be restarted until the ball was in the correct position. Disallow the goal. Have the ball put at the correct spot.


ENFORCING SUSPENSION IN INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES
Your question:
In the US vs Columbia game on 3/9/05 Taylor Twellman received a red card for a tackle from behind. Now, if the foul occurred in a formal competition like world cup qualifying or league play then he would have to miss the his next match within that competition. However, the foul occurred in an international “friendly”. Is he required to serve a suspension? If so, would it be during the next international “friendly”, next international game, or his next game period?

USSF answer (March 17, 2005):
It is very difficult to supervise the administration of suspensions following international friendly matches. The national association of the dismissed player or team official generally imposes the correct suspension. In severe cases, the confederation or even FIFA may step in.


SAFETY OF THE PLAYERS
Your question:
I have noticed in Europe on cold weather days that professional players have been wearing sliding pants or leggings that cover the whole leg and go under the socks. I was under the impression that sliding pants had to be similar or same in color as the shorts and could not extend beyond the top of the knee. Has this changed?

USSF answer (March 17, 2005):
The garb you describe is for the safety of the players. The “panty hose”–probably Lycra tights–under the shorts and socks are allowed because of the extreme weather.


INFRINGEMENT OF LAW 14
Your question:
The situation is the semifinal in a U-10 select tournament, with a full referee team (center and two certified assistants). A penalty kick is awarded. The referee gets everyone lined up properly, instructs the keeper appropriately, and blows his whistle. Before the kick, one of the teammates of the player taking the shot moves into the arc at the top of the penalty area. The shot is taken and scored, as the spectators (me first I admit with some shame) complain loudly.

Between halfs the referee tells the coach that he didn’t require the kick to be retaken because the incursion(5 yards) was “trifling.” The assistant tells the coach later that she saw it but it wasn’t her place to inform the referee. I think there were two errors here. First, the assistant should always be prepared to catch something the center missed. Second, if this is “trifling” then there is no point in having the rule, because then any incursion is “trifling.” (I also think there was a third error: I should have kept my mouth shut; the refs have a hard enough job without a bunch of self-proclaimed experts on the sideline.)

USSF answer (March 17, 2005):
According to Law 14 the penalty kick must be retaken if a member of the kicker’s team enters the penalty area early and a goal is scored.

As to the responsibility of the assistant referee, that is something that is determined in the pregame conference between referee and assistants (and fourth official, if there is one).

As to the third error, referees should know going in that there will be commentary on their perceived performance. Life is hard; we must learn to live with it.

2005 Part 1

MEDICAL ATTENTION
Your question:
Here’s a question from a recent recert class that seemed to stump the instructor as much as the students: A player, #9 from team A, was fouled near team B’s penalty area by #3 from team B. The referee awards a direct free kick to team A. Due to the foul, #9 needed medical attention and, after three minutes, was finally removed from the field of play. Given the sequence of events, the referee:
a)should make sure he/she is informed of the seriousness of the injury and, after the injured player has been removed from the field, issue a caution to player #3 from team B.
b) can not issue a caution anymore as it is too late now that the injured player is removed.
c) has to provide the complete details concerning the medical status of the injury on the game report.
d) has the discretion to determine how much time was lost due to the injury.

Many of us leaned toward A, yet some of the more experienced refs said B. certainly D is true and likely C as well.

USSF answer (March 10, 2005):
a) The referee needs to know only that the player has been seriously injured; that information is included in the match report. The full nature of the injuries is irrelevant. There is absolutely no reason to base a caution on whether or not an injury was inflicted; the referee bases that decision solely upon whether the foul was committed recklessly (caution/yellow card) or with excessive force (send-off/red card). It is possible to inflict an injury, even a serious injury, simply by making normal contact with another player. b) Immediately exclude option b from any consideration. A caution may be issued at any time prior to the restart of play. c) See a. d) Correct.


SELECTING OFFICIALS FOR INTERNATIONAL MATCHES
Your question:
All of the following assumes that a FIFA Ref/or AR may not be from the same country of the teams that are playing that match.)

Key Issue: What say, if any, does each Intl team or club teams have when playing international matches as to who refs the games?

If Germany plays England in the friendly match the Ref and AR’s are not really an issue to the teams.

Now, if Germany plays the UK in an European Cup match be it at International level, or a UEFA match… for the INTL match does FIFA or UEFA present a list of ref’s and AR’s from to each Intl association and they agree upon at least the Referee that will officiate.

Also, how are the Ref’s selected by FIFA for the World Cup matches..(outside of the highest rated ones) do they give a list to pick from to the teams? Or, FIFA assigns and that is it?

USSF answer (March 8, 2005):
We are not aware that referees for international matches must be approved by the competing countries. As far as we know, FIFA selects the refereeing crew and that is it.


PLAYER LOSES SHOE
Your question:
While kicking the ball the boot also flies in the other direction without giving disturbances to the opponent. But the referees stops the play.  How will the referee restart the match?

USSF answer (March 8, 2005):
There is no need for the referee to stop the match if the boot was lost accidentally and did not disturb any other players. The player is expected to replace the boot as quickly as possible and get on with play.

However, if the referee does stop play for this incident, the only possible restart is a dropped ball, taken from the place where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the special circumstances of Law 8).


INTERFERING WITH A THROW-IN
Your question:
Can an opponent be cautioned for merely standing on the touch line in front of the player taking the throw-in? The laws and the ATR are clear that the opponent is not allowed to jump or follow the thrower to attempt to affect the throw, but our referee group is divided on what to do when the defender stands so close on the throw. Most believe that the player has a right to stand there, but my thinking is that the defender does not take his position on the touch line until he sees where the thrower is setting up. This could be considered to be interfering with the throw, in my opinion.

We had a situation where the thrower, annoyed by the defender standing on the line, followed through and clocked the defender, with the injured player needing several stitches to close the wound.

We also discussed what proactive action the referee could take. Inthat vein, is it appropriate for the referee to tell the players what their respective rights are (i.e., defender, you must remain still during the throw, and thrower, you may move down the line to avoid the defender)?

USSF answer (March 7, 2005):
The player may not be cautioned for simply standing there when the thrower moves up to the line; nor should the player be spoken to. This, of course, only provided that the player did not move into that position just as the thrower was about to take the throw. If that is the case, then at least a warning should be given (if the throw was still successful) or certainly a caution (if the thrower was thus prevented from doing the job properly).

We need to remember that the thrower is given a yard in either direction from the point of the throw-in, so an opponent merely standing in a particular location should not be an obstacle to the thrower. Furthermore, even if irritated by perceived interference, this hardly gives the thrower a right to “clock” the opponent.

There will be further changes after July 1.


PLAYING THE BALL FROM THE ‘KEEPER’S HAND
Your question:
Where is official word that you can’t play the ball out of the ‘keeper’s hands? Are there any more situations when it is legal to play the ball when the keeper has possesion besides header out of outstretched palm or kicking it as it hits the ground when the GK’s bouncing it?

USSF answer (March 3, 2005):
There is nothing in the Law to say that the ball may not be played from the goalkeeper’s hand, but neither is there anything that would allow it, except under the conditions you have already outlined: heading the ball from the goalkeeper’s open palm (a most unlikely situation) or playing the ball as it hits the ground when clearly released by the goalkeeper. However, there is that provision in Law 12 under Indirect Free Kicks that calls for punishment of the player who “prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands.” In addition, there is tradition, which also forbids interfering with the goalkeeper who is attempting to put the ball back into play.

And, finally, there is the reminder in the Additional Instructions at the back of your book of the Laws of the Game that it is an offense for a player to prevent a goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands and that a player must be penalized for playing in a dangerous manner if he kicks or attempts to kick the ball when the goalkeeper is in the process of releasing it.


‘KEEPER MOVING FORWARD FROM GOAL LINE AT PK
Your question:
I have a query about my role during PKs when assigned as A/R. Can you help ?

I have reffed for 4 years (seniors, U19 Premier, etc). In 3 recent games which went to PKs the result was altered, in my view, by an illegal save – i.e. the GK was well forward of the goalline before the ball was in play.   In one game I was assigned as A/R and was instructed not to indicate a forward G/K move. Also at a subsequent ref training it was made quite clear that A/Rs should *not* “indicate….whether at a PK the goalkeeper has moved forwards before the ball has been kicked” even though Law 6 seems to require otherwise, independent of the ref’s subsequent decision.

Question: Why cannot I, when assigned as A/R, indicate (clearly, to everyone) that, in my view, a GK has moved forwards before the Ball was in play at at PK? Or can this key duty be “subject to the decision of the refereee” (Law 6).

USSF answer (March 3, 2005):
At penalty kicks (or kicks from the penalty mark), the job of the assistant referee, according to Law 6, is to indicate “whether . . . the goalkeeper has moved forward before the ball has been kicked and if the ball has crossed the line.” That is clear. What is not clear is when that is done and how it is done. The timing and the signal are up to the referee to determine and should be clarified during the pregame conference among the officials. If the referee does not bring up the matter, the AR must do so.


DEFENDER OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY
Your question:
This happened in a U17 Boys game recently: Defender, running parallel to the goal line near the top of the PA, is chasing the ball about to go into touch. Attacker does the same, running parallel to the touch line. Ball goes out – throw in for attackers. No foul/collision by players. Defender slides into stands and, clearly,  injures himself. He slid into the stands…..

Very quickly, the attacker throws ball in, legally, and ball is cleared. However, the ball is intercepted and passed right down the middle to an attacker who has only the goalie in front of him. He is clearly in an offside position, IF YOU DON’T COUNT THE PLAYER WHO IS STILL NEAR THE STANDS (clearly off the field by at least 5 yards) AND RUBBING HIS INJURED LEG, FACING THE STANDS. If you count the injured player, the attacker is on side. AR2 raises the flag for offside. Referee waves him down, as attacker continues toward goal. No other players involved, except the forward and goalie on the field … and the injured player off the field. All other defenders are way up field….

Who’s correct here?

USSF answer (March 2, 2005):
This quote from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” (Advice 11.11) should be of help: “A defender who leaves the field during the course of play and does not immediately return must still be considered in determining where the second to last defender is for the purpose of judging which attackers are in an offside position. Such a defender is considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to his or her off-field position. A defender who leaves the field with the referee’s permission (and who thus requires the referee’s permission to return) is not included in determining offside position.”

This defender left the field legally, during the course of play. Unless the referee decides that this defender is seriously injured‹in which case play must be stopped for treatment‹the defender must be counted as being on the field.

The referee was correct.


AN INTERESTING SITUATION
Your question:
Two players are involved – an attacker and a defender. The attacker has the ball at his feet, inside the penalty area. He is very close to the back line, but outside the six yard box. He nutmegs the defender and then attempts to run past him, to catch up with the ball, but chooses to pass the defender by leaving the field of play. The defender sticks out his foot and trips the attacker up, but the trip takes place off the playing area. There are no other defenders between this incident and the goal and the attacker would have regained control of the ball if he hadn’t been tripped up.

Has the defender committed a foul? Should a penalty be awarded? Should the defender be sent off?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
The attacking player is permitted to leave the field to avoid an obstacle while playing the ball. By sticking his foot out with the clear intent to trip the attacker, the defender has committed the foul of “attempting to trip,” which is punishable by a direct free kick‹and, therefore, as it was committed by a defender inside his own penalty area, the restart must be a penalty kick.

Although the eventual result of the attempt was an actual trip of the attacker, the attempt occurred inside the field. Because the successful result of the attempt occurred off the field, the restart would have to be a dropped ball (misconduct occurring off the field) and no red card could be given even if there were an obvious goal scoring situation because such a card cannot be given if the restart is not a free kick.

Fairness and common sense would suggest that the player should be punished in the most severe way and that could be done only if the referee decided to stop play for the foul of “attempting to trip.”


SECOND “FOUL” FOLLOWING ORIGINAL FOUL
Your question:
During a co-ed match, I had a situation where an attacker just outside their eighteen was fouled, went down and lost possession of the ball. There upon another attacker who was not in the offside position was given advantage. But time had elapsed and no control was established so I blew the ball dead. Simultaneously the keeper who was also approaching the ball took down the 2nd attacker who got injured and was the 2nd foul of that series of play.

I discussed this series of fouls with the AR and we decided since I blew the ball dead for the first foul, that I may not be able to punish for the second foul even though it could have warranted a caution or a send-off. Even though the 2nd foul occurred in the penalty area, I did not award the PK. I went back to the original foul which ended up being a DFK from about the arc. Was that the right call?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
If you have already stopped play for the original foul, you may not punish the second “foul” as a foul. However, if it is appropriate, you may punish the “foul” as misconduct, either a caution or a send-off, depending on the degree of force employed by the second “fouler,” in this case the goalkeeper.


NO RIGHT TO NOT ALLOW SUBSTITUTIONS
Your question:
At half time the score was 3 to 1 our favorite at the start of the second half we scored again- putting the score 4 to 1. So our coach put in his bench players and was going to leave them in the last ten minutes of the game. Well, the other team scored 2 goals, so our coach put his starters on line to sub after the second goal was scored (score now 4 to 3). When are coach called to sub the and the sideline judge put his flag up to single the center ref – he told our coach “No more subing – there’s only two minutes left in the game and there’s not enough time.” Our coach then told him to “You can tie or win in two minutes.” The other team in fact did score again – tieing the game 4 to 4. Our coach tried once more to sub and again was told “No there’s only 1 minute left.” The sideline judge told our asst coach “I don’t know why he won’t let you sub.”

Is this a judgement call, not to allowing a team to sub with only two minutes left? Is this a rule? I mean what if it this was a tournament game and we need to get our best players in incase of PKs?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
The referee has no authority to refuse a team the right to substitute players.


GIVE ME TEN!
Your question:
During a U11G competitive game a player on the field was called for handling the ball, “hand ball” as parents know it. That player’s coach yelled at the player who handled the ball and ordered her to drop and do 10 push ups right there.

Nothing was done by the ref calling the game, and lucky for the girl doing the pushups her safety was not endangered because the opposing team waited for her to complete them before putting the ball in play.

I think the caoch should be cautioned for placing his player into a potentially dangerous situation if the opposing team continued to play without waiting for her to finish.

What do you suggest is the best way to address this with a coach who may do this on the field of play during the game?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
If it weren’t so ridiculously silly, we might say that the coach’s action was irresponsible and the referee should have dealt with it immediately: dismiss the coach for behaving irresponsibly and restart with the direct free kick for the deliberate handling foul.

The coach’s job is supposed to be done in practice and in talking the players and substitutes on the sidelines during the game. It does not extend to disciplining a player on the field. If the coach wanted to discipline the player, he should have substituted her out of the game.

If the referee can stop laughing, he or she would be wise to remind the coach of when and where such tactics should be employed. The referee would then submit a complete report to the appropriate authorities.


MAY SUBSTITUTES BE CARDED?
Your question:
I have a question regarding carding and who can be carded. Of course, players on the pitch can be carded. What about substitutes watching the game from the touchline or on the bench? If their behavior is unsporting, or there is a lot of dissent, can they be carded as well? If so, how is a restart handled? Which Law covers this situation?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
Yes, substitutes may be cautioned and shown the yellow card or sent off and shown the red card. The authority is contained in Laws 3 and 5. The restart will depend on the reason for which the game was stopped. If it was solely for the misconduct of the substitutes on the sidelines, then the correct restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the special circumstances of Law 8).


STOP MAKING UP RULES, REF!
Your question:
During a tournament recently the diameter and height of the corner flags became an issue. The Center ref claimed that the flags stick had to be an inch in diameter and a certain height, and disallowed the small diameter flag sticks. Is there any rule/law that dictates the size and diameter the corner flags must be?

USSF answer (February 28, 2005):
Law 1 requires only that “[a] flagpost, not less than 1.5 m (5 ft) high, with a non-pointed top and a flag is placed at each corner.” There is no indication of any particular diameter.


TOO MANY PLAYERS
Your question:
Recently following a goal being scored, the team that was kicking-off was observed to have 12 players on the field. The sideline official (AR) observed this and tried to signal to the referee. Play continued for about 1 minute and the attacking team (the team with 12 players) was awarded a corner-kick. At this point the AR finally got the referees attention. The referee and AR discussed the situation and the corner-kick was allowed and the winning goal was scored.  Was this proper?

I thought that the since the AR had observed 12 players, that either the coach or the 12th player should have been “cautioned”.

Should the corner-kick be allowed, since the corner -kick had been ‘earned’ with the advantage of the 12th player on the field?

USSF answer (February 22, 2005):
If play has already been stopped, then the referee has no choice but to restart according to the reason the game was stopped. Caution and remove the twelfth player for entering the field of play without the permission of the referee and, in this case, restart with a corner kick.

Unless the rules of the competition specifically allow it, coaches are never to be cautioned. In this case, even if the rules did allow it, there is no reason to caution the coach.


PLAYER RE-ENTERS WITHOUT PERMISSION
Your question:
Player A1 gets permission from the referee to leave the field (say, to change shoes). A1 then re-enters the field without the referee’s permission. A1’s team scores a goal. Before play is restarted, the referee realizes that A1 came onto the field without permission. What action does the referee take? Does he allow the goal, and if not, how does he restart play?

USSF answer (February 21, 2005):
The player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field without the referee’s permission. The goal is disallowed and the game restarts with a goal kick.


FOUR MATCH SCENARIOS
Your question:
I have four questions regarding match scenarios. Although some of them are a true stretch, we are looking forward to your responses. We definitely appreciate and respect the time and effort you have taken to do this job.

Scenario 1) The referee motions for a substitute to enter the field, who is clearly ready to enter (i.e. Equipment checked, name and number matches the roster as a named substitute, has presented his player pass and substitution pass to the forth official) for a player who has left the field with the permission of the referee during play due to an injury (due to this, his team is now playing with one man less). (The substitute who is about to enter, formerly played for the opposing team and is upset with his former coach for trading him.) The player, clearly acting out of built-up anger, does not step onto the field, walks over to his former coach (opposing bench) and strikes his former coach with a water bottle. Next, he steps onto the field and takes his position.
1) How many do you restart with? (11 – not a completed sub until player enters the field?)

Scenario 2) A player has left the field during play with the permission of the referee, due to an injury (due to this, his team is now playing with one man less). While off the field, during play, the same player strikes an opponent on the field with a water bottle.
1) What’s the restart? (Does this fall under the theory as in the situation with a goalkeeper attempting to strike a player with the ball outside of the penalty area with the ball; and the foul or attempted foul being restarted from the place where the contact or attempted contact would have occurred? If so would it be a direct free kick against his team because he is actually a “player”? OR Would it be a dropped ball because he is now considered an outside agent?)
2) How many players do you restart with? (10 – because he is still really a player?)

Scenario 3) A player has left the field during play with the permission of the referee, due to an injury (due to this, his team is now playing with one man less). While off the field, during play, the same player strikes a teammate on the field with a water bottle.
1) What’s the restart? (Once again, does this fall under the theory as in the situation with a goalkeeper attempting to strike a player with the ball outside of the penalty area with the ball; and the foul or attempted foul being restarted from the place where the contact or attempted contact would have occurred? If so would it be an indirect free kick against his team because he is actually a “player”? OR Would it be a dropped ball because he is now considered an outside agent?)
2) How many players do you restart with? (10 – because he is still really a player?)

Scenario 4) Is it technically possible to have a direct free kick against the defending team, and also have the ball be placed so that its sphere overlaps the line on the edge of penalty area? (The foul occurs within 9 inches of the edge of the penalty area and the bottom of the ball is placed on the exact spot where the foul occurred; thus to an onlooker it would appear as though the direct free kick against the defending team was being taken inside the penalty area, (as the lines obviously belong to the areas in which they bounder.).)

USSF answer (February 20, 2005):
Scenario 1:
The substitution is not completed until the new player enters the field. By committing violent conduct in striking the coach, the substitute must be dismissed and shown the red card. Provided that the substitute has not entered the field after being beckoned on by the referee and before striking the coach, then his team may use another substitute and the team need not play with fewer players.

Scenario 2:
1) Restart with a direct free kick for the opposing team. The player re-entered the field to strike the opponent. 2) Restart with one fewer player on the bottle-striker’s team, as he must be dismissed and shown the red card for violent conduct.

Scenario 3:
1) Indirect free kick for the opposing team from the place where the bottle struck the teammate. Send off the player and show the red card for violent conduct.
2) Restart with one fewer player on the bottle thrower’s team.

Scenario 4:
If a foul is deemed to have occurred outside the area, then the ball may not be placed on the line. Set the ball outside the line.


IMPEDING?
Your question:
A free kick has been given. The kicking player (A) kicks the ball only a couple of feet by mistake. He then goes to the ball and, while facing the ball, he shields an incoming opponent (B) from gaining possession. If the ball is at the feet of this player A, can he use his body to shield/impede his opponent from getting the ball? Player A cannot play the ball a 2nd time till it is touched by someone else. So can he really claim ³possession² with the ball at his feet when he isn¹t able to touch it? Or does the rule only require that the ball merely has to be within playing distance of player A while he is shielding ­ even though he cannot play it?

USSF answer (February 16, 2005):
Despite the fact that A cannot play the ball legally without playing it a second time before someone else has somehow played the ball, as long as A is within playing distance of the ball (i. e., meaning capable of playing the ball according to the Law), then A cannot be impeding. Playing distance is exactly that, a distance, which is determined in practice only by the playability of the ball.

The fact that in this particular case A could not LEGALLY play the ball without infringing the Law does not change the fact that, distance-wise, the ball is still within a physically playable distance. The ball is legally playable‹in every way open to any field player‹by anyone other than the player who kicked the ball. If A’s movement includes holding the arms out and making contact with the opponent as a means of keeping the opponent away, then the player is guilty of holding.
[Note: This answer repeats information given in November 2002.]


DOUBLE POSSESSION BY THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Can you provide the definition for double possession?
If the keeper has the ball in their hands, plays it to the ground, then decides to pick the ball up again, do we have a double touch issue?
How about the keeper tosses the ball to the ground and kicks it?

USSF answer (February 16, 2005):
For a goalkeeper to be “convicted” of double possession, the referee must recognize that the goalkeeper has clearly released the ball for others to play and then picked it up again. However, if the ‘keeper inadvertently drops the ball and then picks it up again, that does not count as double possession. Dropping the ball to the ground and kicking it is a legal play.


GOALKEEPER SCORES A GOAL OFF A PUNT
Your question:
I have heard throughout my soccer career that a keeper cannot score a goal directly off a punt.  In order for the goal to be valid he must drop-kick the ball.  In a recent intramural match, a referee told a goalkeeper that if he could throw the ball from one end to the other, he could score directly on a thrown ball. While I realize that in a normal game this kind of scenario is next to impossible, I would like to know if there are any official rulings on the matter as it could potentially come up in a youth game on an undersized field.  Not likely, but possible. In the event a keeper could throw, or punt the ball directly into his opponent¹s goal, I would think that a goal kick should be awarded instead of a goal, but again, I haven¹t been a referee that long and the information I¹m using as a basis for this decision is mostly hearsay. I tried to look up information on this topic in the Laws of the Game, Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, and Advice to Referees handbooks, but didn¹t find anything relevant. Any advice you could give would be most welcome.

USSF answer (February 16, 2005):
When in doubt, go to the beginning of all soccer knowledge, the Laws of the Game. Law 10, Method of Scoring, tells us: “A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no infringement of the Laws of the Game has been committed previously by the team scoring the goal.”

Note that there is no reference there to whether or not the scorer is a goalkeeper or a field player. Nowhere in the Laws of the Game does it say that a goalkeeper may not score a goal directly by any legal means‹and punting is a legal means.


“FOUL” OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY
Your question:
A player is dribbling the ball along the end line, he steps off the field by a foot or two to avoid a defender. While he/she is off the pitch the defender fouls him.

What is the restart? Direct kick or indirect kick? Obviously if he is several feet off the pitch a yellow card could be issued too. The high school rule book calls for an indirect kick. That got me to thinking what would the FIFA rule be. You can’t really call fouls off the pitch so that seems to apply here too.

USSF answer (February 15, 2005):
Such an act would be regarded as misconduct, rather than a foul, because it occurred off the field of play. The player is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. The restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped.


DROPPED BALL
Your question:
My question pertains to drop balls. In a drop ball situation, a player verbally acknowledges to the opposing team that he will kick the ball back to the team’s goalkeeper. The opposing team leaves him alone at the drop ball, believing that he will be true to his word and kick it back. Instead, the player who told the team he’d kick it back smashes the drop ball into the back of the net. My position is that the goal should not be counted, because the player used trickery to make the opposing players think he would be returning the ball to them. The player should be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior (because of the trickery) and play is restarted with an IFK to the opposing team from the spot of the drop ball. Others maintain that the goal should be counted as players are not obliged to return drop balls. Please help us clear this situation up.

USSF answer (February 14, 2005):
After a stoppage for an injury or a similar situation caused by one team, a player of that team usually plays a dropped ball (or a throw-in) to a position where the opposing team may regain possession. Despite the fact that it is traditional that a player do this, there is no requirement for it under the Laws of the Game. Nor does the referee have any authority to deal with this situation. Indeed, over the past several years, we have seen instances in very high-level competitions where players have refused to do this. This is not the forum in which to discuss the reasons for evil or ignorance.

The referee has a preventive remedy for situations at a dropped ball where the only fair thing (within the Spirit of the Game) is for one team to get the ball. There is no requirement that players from both teams take part in a dropped ball. This gives the referee the implied authority to drop the ball only for a member of one team to ensure fairness.


OWN GOALS?
Your question:
In a U14 Competitive game player for team A is throwing the ball into play. A player for team B stands about a yard away from the thrower. Player A is irritated and throws the ball off of Player B expecting the ball to go out of bounds. However, Player A picks up the ball on the touchline prior to it going out of bounds thinking that it was going to go out of bounds anyway.

What would you do?

USSF answer (February 13, 2005):
The answer to your question is twofold. First, it depends on what the referee perceives in the initial throw-in. That is covered in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
15.8 THROW-IN STRIKES AN OPPONENT
A throw-in taken in such a way that the ball strikes an opponent is not by itself a violation of the Law. The act must be evaluated separately as a form of striking and dealt with appropriately if judged to be unsporting behavior (caution) or violent conduct (send off from the field). In either event, if deemed a violation, the restart is located at the place where the throw-in struck the opponent. If the throw-in is deemed to have been taken incorrectly, the correct restart is a throw-in.

The second part of the answer deals with the deliberate handling of the ball after it has touched the opposing player. That could be punished as deliberate handling unless the referee has already decided to deal with the throw-in hitting the opponent.


GOALKEEPER HANDLING THE BALL
Your question:
If a goalkeeper reaches outside his/her own penalty area and touches the ball, but his/her feet are completely inside the penalty area, is it considered a handball ? Likewise, the goalie is outside the penalty area and reaches over the line into the penalty area to grab the ball. Is this a handball? I guess the question boils down to is is ball location or goalkeeper’s feet/body position?

USSF answer (February 10, 2005):
It makes no difference where the goalkeeper’s body or feet are. The only significant factors are the position of the goalkeeper’s hands and the position of the ball. If they are in contact simultaneously (and deliberately on the part of the goalkeeper) outside the penalty area, then the goalkeeper has deliberately handled the ball counter to the Law.

However, under other circumstances, such as the goalkeeper accidentally carrying the ball over the line marking the penalty area while releasing it so that others may play it, this could be a trifling infringement and the intelligent referee might overlook the matter.


PLAYING THE BALL IN THE HANDS OF THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Recently while on the pitch, I overheard a referee speaking with another referee about a recent FIFA rule change allowing an opponent to head a ball being held by the goal keeper. Has there been such a rule change?

USSF answer (February 13, 2005):
Yes, an opposing player may play the ball from the open palm of the goalkeeper. However, if the goalkeeper holds the ball so that the palm is not open or is holding the ball against his or her body, the opponent may not play the ball.


ILLEGAL SUBSTITUTES
Your question:
In the latest FIFA Q&A, there are a number of questions that deal with illegal substitutes on the field of play. Several of the questions refer to an illegal substitute having to leave the field to complete the substitution procedure. My question is, “When is that ‘substitute/player’ allowed into the game? Is it as simple as having them step of the field and then back on after the referee signals or is the person required to wait until the next stoppage of play?”

USSF answer (February 10, 2005):
Provided that the referee has completed all bookkeeping and disciplinary measures appropriate to this offense, and that the “substitute/player” has been removed from the field, then the same “substitute/player” may then return to the game (without waiting for any further stoppage).


OWN GOALS?
Your question:
The Laws of the Game state that a goal cannot be scored directly from an indirect free kick (Law 13), a throw-in (Law 15) or a dropped ball (Law 8), and that a goal can only be scored against the opposing team (NO OWN GOAL) on a direct free kick (Law 13), a goal kick (Law 16) and a corner kick (Law 17). My question: for the remaining two restarts, the penalty kick (Law 14) and the kick off (Law 8), would an own goal be allowed if the requirements for the restart as stated in the respective Law were satisfied (players in the correct positions, ball kicked in a forward direction, etc.)? Neither Law specifically bans an own goal being awarded. While the probability of either event ever occuring (especially from a penalty kick) is extremely slight, an “unusual” weather condition – e.g. a strong, sudden wind gust – could make it “possible”. I believe that the goal would stand, but have heard conflicting opinions.

USSF answer (February 10, 2005):
The Spirit of the Game would cry out in anguish if an own goal were awarded directly from either a kick-off or a penalty kick. In addition, it would be nigh impossible for such a thing to occur.


DISRESPECT/TAUNTING AFTER A GOAL
Your question:
I’m little concerned about player behavior, especially at the high level of competitions. Last week I watched the Ecuador vs. Panama game. One of the players, after he scored a goal, pulled a mask from his shorts and put it on his head. As a matter of fact, he did it on two occasions. I didn’t see any display of yellow cards for his behavior. In my opinion that action was a disrespect for the other player’s team and in general for the soccer game. I ask myself, when will FIFA or other authorities do something to stop that kind of behavior?

USSF answer (February 10, 2005):
There had to be some countermeasure from the players to the change in the Laws that forbids removing shirts after scoring a goal. If the referee believes that any action following a goal is disrespectful to the game or a form of taunting the opponents after the goal has been scored, the player should be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior.


MODIFYING THE LAWS OF THE GAME
Your question:
Large tournament, multi-state and country participants, approved by USYS. The tournament rules state, “all rules are governed by the FIFA laws of soccer” AND  Home Team: “will select the side from which they wish to play”.

There was understandable confusion because tournament officials gave instructions that “Home Team selects the side they wish to play from” meant, the side they wish to defend and the visiting teams always kick off. I contended that, although poorly worded, the rule was intended to give the Home Team, the choice of which sideline to occupy. There were no additional rules covering sideline occupancy.

(To be consistent with Law 8, the word “end” should have been used and not “side”.) Question: Can the tournament rules committee dictate that a coin flip not be used to determine the end (side) to defend (play from) without violating FIFA and USYS laws?

USSF answer (February 9, 2005):
Law 8 is not among the Laws that may be modified, even slightly, without the permission of the International Football Association Board‹the body that writes the Laws of the Game.


COACHES MUST BEHAVE RESPONSIBLY
Your question:
For any match, adult, pro, or youth, if a coach is abusively screaming and/or swearing at his players but not at anyone else, can he/she be dismissed?

USSF answer (February 7, 2005):
Law 5 tells us that the referee may take “action against team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and may at his discretion, expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds.” Abusive screaming and/or swearing at anyone would not seem to be responsible behavior.


GET OUT OF MY SPACE!
Your question:
Reported as one of the toughest calls for a basketball official is the charge-block decision when a defensive player steps in front of an offensive player impeding his progress to the basket. If the defender gets there early enough to be stationary at the time of collision, there is a foul charged to the offensive player.

Perhaps because they watch basketball, I see American youth players, even at the high school level, imitating this sort of defensive strategy. In addition to officiating, I watch a lot of soccer, and I don’t see the tactic employed outside the U.S.

My question is this — if a soccer defender steps in front of an attacker, denying the attacker his/her intended path toward goal, is getting there the split second to become stationary sufficient to merit a foul call against the attacker? Can you comment on points the smart official should look for in this play to determine if a defender is guilty of the foul of holding or the attacker is guilty of the foul of charging?

USSF answer (January 31, 2005):
In general, each player on the field is entitled to the area he or she occupies at any particular moment. However, it is also a fact that a player may not occupy space needed by an opponent if the occupying player is not playing the ball but instead preventing the opponent from getting into that space. If there is contact by the opponent, but initiated by the player who has jumped into a space to impede the opponent’s way or ability to play the ball, that is considered to be holding by the player. The opponent’s team would receive a direct free kick from the point of the foul.


GOALKEEPERS’ KNEES
Your question:
I was watching keepers get training from a MLS trainer at a camp. I was a bit surprised to see so many put their knee up when catch a ball (I was told they were not being taught this – they just did it). I told my daughter that I thought if she hit an opponent with her knee don’t be surprised if a PK was awarded and if I saw a keeper flying through the air – knee first and an attacker ducking because of it I’d likely award an IFK for dangerous play.

USSF answer (January 31, 2005):
May a goalkeeper be called for playing dangerously or fouling an opponent? Surely, but it is a matter for the referee to decide on a case-by-case basis. There is no clear, black-and-white answer. The referee’s decision would have to be based on the specific level of risk involved and that, in turn, is a function of the age, experience, and skill of the players.

That does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that goalkeepers are allowed to use their protection under the Spirit of the Laws to harm other players. When leaping for the ball, all players, including goalkeepers, should aim to play the ball at the highest point possible. The striker jumps as high as he can to get his head on the ball, but the goalkeeper has the advantage of needing only to have his hands high enough to play the ball.

If the goalkeeper’s jump appears to be natural, with the knee lifted as part of achieving balance or additional height, then there is probably no foul on the part of the goalkeeper. However, if the lifting of the knee appears to be unnatural or contrived, or if the goalkeeper raises the knee only when the attacker comes near to the ball‹this is a common goalkeeper maneuver to intimidate opponents rather than “self protection” or the equally facile argument that it is used to achieve greater height — the referee may reach the conclusion that the goalkeeper is no longer protecting himself or attempting to gain greater altitude, but is attempting to send a message to the opponent. That sort of play must be punished.


PLAYERS AND FLYING SHOES
Your question:
Would you allow the goal if, while taking the shot, the attacker’s shoe came off, forcing the goalkeeper to dodge the flying shoe and also fail in his attempt to block the shot (the ball went totally over the goal line under the upright and between the goal posts).

USSF answer (January 27, 2005):
We answered a similar question over a year ago, on September 23, 2003:
QUOTE
As defined in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” (Advice) and clear from the perspective of the Spirit of the Game, a foul is an unfair or unsafe action committed by a player against an opponent or the opposing team, on the field of play, while the ball is in play. (Advice 12.1) Although the loss of the shoe was inadvertent and accidental, it was also careless. A careless act of striking toward an opponent is punishable by a direct free kick for the opponent’s team, taken from the spot where the object (or fist) hit (or would have hit) its target (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).

Although the shooter wanted to play the ball when he kicked it and did not hit the goalkeeper with his shoe deliberately, he has still committed a foul. Direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team from the place where the shoe struck the goalkeeper (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).
END OF QUOTE

The only difference would be that in your case the shoe did not hit the goalkeeper; however the effect and the decision are be the same. The goal is not scored; restart with a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team from the place where the shoe would have hit the goalkeeper.


FOUL WEATHER GEAR
Your question:
I was looking through the “Official Sports” catalogue and was wondering what the policy is on Referee attire during rain and snow storms.

What about when it is not storming but it is really cold?

USSF answer (January 27, 2005):
Referees should exercise good sense in choosing what to wear during foul weather. If the weather is exceptionally cold or wet, the referee and assistant referees should dress appropriately, in accordance with the level of the game they are refereeing. However, on a high-level game, whether professional or amateur, the refereeing crew should not wear any garb that is not appropriate to a professional appearance. For other, lower-level games, track suits that clearly identify the officials as referees are suitable, together with caps and gloves.

You should remember that the players might not take kindly to a referee whose garb is warmer and/or dryer than what they have to wear on the field (despite our good intentions) so this factor should be taken into account as well.


CAUTION OR SEND OFF?
Your question:
Well after half-time, the Red sweeper is cited for his third foul, raising cries of “All day, Ref!” and “How many times, Sir?” from his Blue opponents. The Referee, knowing the “count”, has a brief, but pointed word with the offender, to the effect of “That’s it, no more!” with the unspoken but understood pledge of a PI Caution for any more inappropriate play. While not overheard, the Referee’s body language and demeanor let everyone know what was conveyed.

Ten minutes later, the player commits another foul, but this time, it is done with sufficient recklessness and force to deserve a Caution on its own.

The question is, therefore, can the Referee conjoin the facts of the anticipated Caution for PI, with a concurrent judgement of USB for the foul itself, and send of the sweeper for earning two Cautions? If so, what would be the correct mechanics for the display of cards?

(Personally, I used the principle of “a player, having earned a Caution, and before being issued the Caution, commits another act of misconduct, shall be sent off” to decide on a send off. My reasoning was that his fourth foul earned the first Caution (which he was aware was coming), and the presence of recklessness was itself the cause of the second caution.)

USSF answer (January 26, 2005):
Rather than having a hard and fast rule, the intelligent referee will base this decision on exactly what went on during the previous portion of the game and in this particular instance. If the card is warranted, the reasoning you suggested works fine. As for mechanics, display the yellow, display the yellow again, and then display the red card ‹all with consummate composure.


PLAY THE ADVANTAGE?
Your question:
I have a question about encroachment at a free kick, and whether Advantage applies.

Red is awarded a Free Kick at the top of the penalty arc, near the goal defended by Blue. Blue #8 stands ten yards away from the ball, on the penalty mark, as part of a defensive wall. As Red #3 is starting to take the kick, Blue #8 runs a few yards forward toward the ball. When Red #3 actually kicks the ball, Blue #8 is still inside the Penalty Area, six or eight yards from the ball.

As the Referee moves the whistle to his mouth, the ball caroms off the head of Blue #8, then flies directly into the goal.

Blue #8 has failed to respect the distance at the free kick, a Law 12 violation, and his action was not trifling. Can the Referee apply advantage, and award the goal to Red? Or must the Referee consider that the restart was not properly taken, likely caution Blue #8, and order the kick retaken (ATR 13.5)?

I know that we have a decision matrix for resolving violations by attackers and/or defenders at a Penalty Kick, but I wasn’t certain whether similar principles could be applied to Free Kicks.

USSF answer (January 25, 2005):
Of course the referee may apply the advantage clause in this situation. The referee may award the goal and then take any appropriate disciplinary action against the player who failed to remain the required distance from the ball.


CAUTIONABLE OR NOT?
Your question:
Let me say that I’ve been enjoying the Extra Player (a rostered but virtual Outside Agent) situation because it is so confusingly intriguing. You’ve introduced me to a very slippery slope.

The referee whistles a stoppage and discovers an Extra Player. The Extra Player is normally cautioned, removed from field and game restarted with Drop Ball —
BUT what if the Extra Player is involved in the stoppage by:
1)Encroaching a Free Kick, Penalty Kick, Goal Kick, Corner Kick, Kickoff or impedes a Throw-in
= the restart will be a re-do Yes No

2)Is Encroached/Impeded while executing any of the above
= the restart will be a re-do Yes No

3)Dissents from referee’s ruling
= Cautioned again Yes No

4)Persists in unsporting play
= Caution is suspended Yes No

5)Commits a reckless act
= Cautioned again Yes No

6)Commits Violence, Spits, Uses language (or body language) that is Offensive, Abusive, Insulting
= Red Card

I’m betting these are all YES answers. How’d I do?

USSF answer (January 20, 2005):
Your first statement: “The referee whistles a stoppage and discovers an Extra Player. The extra player is normally cautioned, removed from field and game restarted with Drop Ball,” is incorrect. It would be correct only if the extra player was the reason for the stoppage. But, because the “extraness” of the player wasn’t discovered until after play had been stopped, the stoppage must have occurred for some other reason. The general principle here is that the extra player, despite being extra, is always fully responsible for all his or her acts performed prior to being discovered (the only logical exception is scoring a goal unless the “extraness” is discovered before play is restarted). If the extra player is discovered only during a stoppage, play is restarted by whatever caused the stoppage (except kick-off for a goal) after the extra player is dealt with.

Provided that the “extra player” is either a named substitute or a player who had left the field with the referee’s permission, the answers to your questions are:
1) Yes.
2) Yes.
3) Yes.
4) No; why would the caution be “suspended”?
5) Yes; and then sent off for having received a second caution in the game.
6) Yes.

2004 Part 4

Your question:
Upon reading one of your answers in the “Past Questions” section I am prompted to ask the following: Do the administrators of a (youth) tournament have the ability to change their competion rules to allow the referee to display disciplinary cards to non-players (especially coaches)?I have become an advocate of displaying the cards when a coach is disciplined so as to demonstrate to all the others in attendance that the discipline has been applied. Federation rules allow this and we have found it to be effective in communicating the fact of the discipline to the other coaches (who usually know, already), the players and substitutes, the opposing side (coaches, players, subs) and – most importantly – the spectators.

So, if a USSF-sanctioned tournament has this leeway I would appreciate hearing about it. I would suggest to the administrators for whom I work as Assignor to consider implementing such a rule. I would word is something as follows: “Should the referee determine that disciplinary action is to be taken against a non-player, the referee may, at his/her discretion, elect to display the appropriately colored card if, in the opinion of the referee, such a display will serve the interest of the match in terms of man-management, spectator control, or any other beneficial aspect of the game.”

OK – I guess it’s a two-part questionŠ
If this modification is permitted, would you be in favor of or opposed to such a rule?

USSF answer (January 3, 2005):
Under the Laws of the Game, cards may be displayed only to players and named substitutes and players who have been replaced, and not to any non-players. Unfortunately, some competitions have seen fit to include the possibility of showing the card to non-players (coaches or assistants or managers, etc.).

Our personal opinion is that the practice of showing the card to non-players is non-productive and leads to confusion when referees work in other competitions. This emphasizes the necessity for officials to be fully aware of the rules of every competition in which they work‹and to remember that they need not work for any competition whose rules are contrary to the Laws of the Game.

One wonders how the display of a colored card to a coach or spectator would be any more effective in managing that person’s behavior than the other tricks in the referee’s tool kit. We have inspected the cards closely‹they have no magic in them beyond the referee’s own skills and talents, which can be exercised very well without them. After all, the cards themselves are a fairly recent phenomenon and were intended primarily to be used in situations where players did not speak the same language as the referee.


THE COIN TOSS
Your question:
As a new ref, I want to know who tosses the coin. Referees have explained to me that it is the visiting team, and other referees have said it is the home team. This isn¹t the type of advice that helps a newbie. Can you clarify?

USSF answer (December 29, 2004):
The only thing the Laws tell us is that a coin is tossed. Traditionally, the referee conducts the toss and does the actual toss of the coin. Again traditionally, the referee allows the visiting team to call the toss, but there is nothing written in stone (or any other substance) on this matter.

Given the silliness that can occur, even before a game, it is a brave (or foolish) referee who allows the players to even handle the coin.


CORNER FLAGPOSTS
Your question:
The flagpost [corner type], commonly called the corner flag, are placed “at each corner” of the field. I believe and always understood that that these flagpost(s) are NOT on the field of play, but just touching the outer edge at the intersection of the touch line and the goal line.

Question: Are the corner flagposts of a soccer field on the field of play?

USSF answer (December 22, 2004):
Yes, and they are regarded as a part of the field of play. If the ball hits one of the corner posts and remains on the field, it is still in play.


ACCEPTING/DECLINING ASSIGNMENTS; PLAYING BALL RELEASED BY ‘KEEPER
Your question:
On December 3, 2004 you gave this answer as to what “national tournaments” are: “These would be the National Championships of an organization, such as the finals for the US Youth Soccer Championships (formerly the Snickers Cup) or the USASA National Cup Finals. It also would include the final championships of the Super Y League and US Club Soccer. Such games are assigned at the national level, not locally.”

1. This brings back a question I had when I was assigned to the Y League Finals. Many of the local refs dropped at the last minute because of rescheduling in their men’s league. The assignors sent out an e-mail to all reminding everyone of the above priority policy. Only the U-17s played 90s. Does the priority apply to the younger ages?

2. In general, when are you released from an availability you gave a tournament/league? Ex: If they haven’t told you they’ll be using you within 72 hours of when the matches are and another assignor calls you can you take those games with no more obligation to the first assignor?

3. On a drop kick/punt by the keeper: After the keeper releases it from their hands, but before they kick it, a forward who was not previously preventing them from releasing the ball jumps in front of them and blocks it. Is there an offense?

USSF answer (December 21, 2004):
1. The policy says 90-minute matches, so that would not apply to the younger age groups, but then you would not need the same level of referee for the younger age groups so you should have more available. The assignment priority policy is to protect referees from being disciplined if they turn back a game to take one of the listed matches.

2. You may work for whomever you want as an independent contractor. If your availability changes before you have received an assignment from a particular assignor when you have told them you are available, you should immediately notify that assignor that you are no longer available on that day. Your plans could change in a number of ways after you have turned in availability, so you are always free to say that you cannot accept an assignment; however, common courtesy would dictate that if you accept an assignment for a free weekend, then you notify any other assignors that you are no longer available for those dates.

3. No, provided that the ball has hit the ground and the opponent plays the ball and not the goalkeeper.


IMPROPERLY ATTIRED GOALKEEPER
Your question:
This situation arose in a tournament match: Team A is trailing by one goal late in the match. In an effort to push forward and equalize, Team A substitutes a field player for the goalkeeper. The field player is not dressed as a goalkeeper but as a field player, and the referee team does not catch it. Forty seconds later, Team A equalizes, with the improperly attired goalkeeper on the field. The improperly attired goalkeeper did not touch the ball at any time. The referee realizes the error prior to the kickoff. Does the goal count?
I am assuming that the improperly attired goalkeeper is to be cautioned and that the restart would be a goalkick for Team A’s opponents.

USSF answer (December 16, 2004):
We are a bit confused, but willing to proceed. Let’s take it in order: Do you mean that (1) a player already on the field has exchanged positions with the goalkeeper, or that (2) the team has inserted a new player, dressed like the other field players and removed the goalkeeper altogether, without the permission of the referee? Or do you really and truly mean that (3) the refereeing team was so “unobservant” that they allowed a substitution to take place, but did not realize that the new player entering the game, not wearing the appropriate uniform, was replacing the goalkeeper? And please tell us, if the referee and assistant referees missed the lack of appropriate uniform, how would they know which was the new goalkeeper??

(1) If it was simply a swap of positions, then the correct action is to wait until the next stoppage and caution both players for unsporting behavior. The goal is scored and the restart is a kick-off.

(2) If a new “player” has entered as goalkeeper and the original goalkeeper has left the field (both without permission of the referee), we have a different kettle of fish: Caution and yellow card to the new “goalkeeper” for entering the field without the referee’s permission. Caution and yellow card to the goalkeeper for leaving the field without the referee’s permission. No goal. Restart with a goal kick.

(3) If it was a true substitution in which the goalkeeper left the field and someone came on without the distinctive jersey, then there was no one on the field designated as a keeper. In this case, despite the fact that it was the referee’s fault, because Team A was not playing with a goalkeeper they have been playing in violation of Law 3 and no goal can be scored. The player must be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior and the game restarted with a goal kick.


SAFE PLAYING ENVIRONMENT
Your question:
This fall I have seen many goals at almost every field that were made by the local cities and counties—by welding together pipes ——-replaced—-on every field that I refereed at.

Has there been any legal directives sent out by the States to make sure all recreation goal equipment that is not manufactured by a certified manufacturer be immediately replaced by one that is?

At the high school fields, this is no issue.. when you inspect the goals you can see the tags of the manufacturer— and all are well made.

Have any lawyers across the country made some killings on settlements against towns where injuries have occured to players that were involved in collisions with goal posts that were not made by recognized manufacturers of sporting goods equipment?

Just want to know if you came across if the USSF has any comments on this?

USSF answer (December 9, 2004):
We are not aware of any special directives sent out by the various state associations, by U. S. Soccer, or by the IFAB/FIFA regarding goals, other than the normal requirement of Law 1 that the goals, the field, and all equipment and appurtenances be safe.


HATS/CAPS OR SUNGLASSES FOR REFEREES
Your question:
Is it permitted for a referee to wear a neat, solid black unadorned baseball cap while officiating a USSF match, in addition to the approved uniform? From what I can tell, there is nothing in the Laws of the Game, or the Referee Administrative Handbook that specifically prohibits me from wearing one, but also nothing that specifcally allows it either. I wear prescription glasses when I officiate, and when rain occurs, this gives me problems because of water on the lenses making it very difficult to see. The ball cap helps mitigate this problem.

USSF answer (December 8, 2004):
The USSF policy on sunglasses (and hats) was last published in the October 1999 issue of Fair Play, our referee magazine:
Q. May referees wear caps and sunglasses?
A. With regard to caps, the policy of the United States Soccer Federation was stated in the Spring 1994 issue of Fair Play magazine: “Under normal circumstances, it is not acceptable for a game official to wear headgear, and it would never be seen on a high level regional, national or international competition. However, there may be rare circumstances in local competitions where head protection or sun visors might sensibly be tolerated for the good of the game, e.g. early morning or late afternoon games with sun in the officials’ line of sight causing vision difficulties; understaffed situations where an official with sensitive skin might be pressed into service for multiple games under strong sunlight or a referee who wears glasses needing shielding from rain.” Sunglasses would be subject to the same considerations. In addition, we ask referees to remember that sunglasses have the unfortunate side effect of suggesting that the referee or assistant referee is severely visually impaired and should not be working the game. They also limit communication between the officials and the players by providing a barrier against eye-to-eye contact. Sunglasses, if worn, should be removed prior to any verbal communication with players.

This policy has not changed.


FLAGPOSTS AT THE HALFWAY LINE
Your question:
Why do we have optional halfway line flagposts?

USSF answer (December 6, 2004):
The optional halfway line flagposts are a relic of the dim, distant past when there were no lines on the field and the teams needed guidance to orient themselves.


NUMBER OF PLAYERS AT KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
I just attended a re-certification course in [my state] yesterday. When they came to the kicks from the penalty mark review, I just thought of a situation that may occur after the two teams just completed a very aggressive and what may call a “dirty” game.

SCENARIO:
As the players that were on the pitch when the 2nd extra time ended… all come into the center circle to get ready to take the kicks.. several players say some choice words..and then an all out fight breaks out. The substitutes for each team all come off the benches to join the fight…

The only thing I see the Ref and the AR’s can go is write down the numbers of the players involved…and if someone has a cell phone to call 911 for assistance.

When things get settled down.. the AR’s and Referee compare their notes… I would RED card all players who threw punches.. that were in the center circle when play ended… as of the substitutes who came off the bench.. I would give RED cards to those who made physical contact with the opponents and Yellow cards to those who just came onto the field without permission.

Then, if say there are only 4 players on each side that could qualify to take the kicks… does the rule of at least 7 apply? …and thus the taking of the kicks are abandoned.

Your comments on this please..and how you would approach it.

USSF answer (December 6, 2004):
We cannot speak to how the individual referee should deal with the various players (and substitutes who enter the field), as that is strictly a matter of judgment. The correct decision would be based on the actions of the players and the substitutes. (A full report of whatever measures the referee takes in this situation must be included in the match report, whether it is match termination or not.)

As we all know, the usual requirement for a game to continue is at least seven players on the field (or, at the end of regulation time, off the field for treatment or equipment repair). However, this requirement has no bearing on the number of players for kicks from the penalty mark, as that process is not part of the regular game. A team may continue kicks from the penalty mark with as few as one player remaining on the field.

This is documented in the IFAB/FIFA Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (2004) under Law 14, Q&A L:
L) During the taking of kicks from the penalty mark, a team has fewer than seven players. Should the referee abandon the kicks from the penalty mark?
No. Kicks from the penalty mark are not part of the match


WHAT IS A “NATIONAL TOURNAMENT”?
Your question:
I have a questions concerning a definition in the Referee Administrative Handbook. Page 39 indicates the priority for assignments. Number 10 is National Tournaments (Adult and Youth matches – must be 90 min. in length). The question is to be a National Tournament is it assigned locally or by the National Office?

USSF answer (December 3, 2004):
These would be the National Championships of an organization, such as the finals for the US Youth Soccer Championships (formerly the Snickers Cup) or the USASA National Cup Finals. It also would include the final championships of the Super Y League and US Club Soccer. Such games are assigned at the national level, not locally.


NEITHER A BORROWER NOR A LENDER BE TO UNAUTHORIZED REFEREES
Your question:
Is there EVER an occasion when it is permissable for an UNCERTIFIED individual to be placed on the field as a center or AR (for any age group in any play situation),  wearing an official referee uniform and a current referee badge? If so, under what circumstances and if not, what are the consequences to the assignor and/or individual misrepresenting his qualifications?

If this is in fact an offense, what are the consequences to the individual loaning his “badge” out to anyone knowing they are not certified?

Is it ever permissable to “loan” your badge to anyone after being told “mine was stolen, damaged, cannot find it – can I borrow yours”. Is their any responsibility to the individual legitimately holding a current badge to verify such comment?

Is there ever a situation where an UNCERTIFIED individual can work as a center or AR during ANY play situation wearing an official uniform without displaying a badge?

What are the requirements to CERTIFIED referees (any class) to safe guard their badge?

These questions are a little redundant, but wanted to make sure I covered all possible scenarios.

USSF answer (November 29, 2004):
No, an unregistered referee may not wear the U. S. Soccer Federation referee badge. The referee who “lends” such a person a badge is not doing anyone a favor, but is participating in fraud.

According to  Section 1 of US Soccer Policy 531-8, Assignment of Game Officials (Former Rule 3040), unregistered persons are not permitted to officiate games played under the aegis of US Soccer.
“Section 1. Registration Required Prior to Assignment
“No one shall officiate as a referee or assistant referee in any match under the sanction or jurisdiction (direct or indirect) of the United States Soccer Federation who is not registered with the Federation for the current year unless that person is a visiting foreign referee who has been properly accredited by his or her national association.”

However, according to Section 2 of Policy 531-8,
“Section 2. Unregistered Referee in Emergency
“If, because of unforeseen circumstances, a currently registered referee is unable to officiate or does not appear for an assigned match, a person may then be designated at match time to act as referee in the emergency for that one match.”

No referee should ever loan the referee badge or uniform to an unauthorized person to wear in a game. This would be a violation of Item 12 of the Referee Code of Ethics:
“I consider it a privilege to be a part of the United States Soccer Federation and my actions will reflect credit upon that organization and its affiliates.”


CHARGING FAIRLY
Your question:
Are there any sources where I can learn what is pushing and what is not pushing from a foul perspective and when the interpretation according to an official is the determining factor?

I coach in a recreational U10 & U12 age group and of course the exact technical method of a legal charge and when it is excessive is a cause for great contention among officials, coaches, players and parents/spectators.  The issue gets more complex when you add the natural tendencies of players to protect or defend themselves or in an attempt to retain/gain possession of the ball.

I am specifically looking for:
A) the definition of a legal/illegal shoulder charge
B) the extent the arms may or may not be used
C) relative to pre-contact, contact and post-contact.

A couple of common examples would be:
A player has possession of the ball and is in movement down the field and notes a defender closing down.
1) Both players make legal shoulder contact (not with excessive violence); both players near side arms are not involved. At some point after legal shoulder contact one player lifts their arm bent 90 degrees at the elbow pushing/lifting/moving the other player away.  The defender or original attacker may or may not retain/gain possession of the ball after the arm movement.  I am interested in both situations.
2) Prior to legal shoulder charge contact the attacker notes the defender closing down and plays the ball to an outside foot to retain possession and assumes a wider stance while lifting the arms bent 90 degrees at the elbow. The defender makes contact, the attacker does not extend the forearm or hands but maintains the elbows out.
3) Same situation as #2, but after the defender makes contact with the attacker¹s arms/bodyŠthe defender lifts their arms in the same manner, but under the attackers arms causing the attacker to lose balance.
4) Two players going after a 50/50 ball make legal shoulder contact and fight for position to gain the ballŠ.in the struggle their near side arms are used to gain an advantage in front of the other player.  How much latitude should be allowed or is it mainly the official¹s interpretation of natural movement vs trying to gain an advantage, guessing at the intent, etcŠto determine if a foul has occurred?

There are of course endless possibilities of combinations.

I can not seem to find clear definitions of what is permitted or not and/or guidelines used to determine a foul, or the extent contact is allowed for age specific groups. (i.e. rec vs select vs high school, college, professional) Any guidelines or example references would be greatly appreciated. I try to start each season by giving examples of what a foul is or is notŠalong with a little Œconduct¹ talk for the parents. But in this caseŠI am not EXACTLY sure on how to interpret the gray areas related to the use of the arms when the intent of the player may not be obvious.

USSF answer (November 28, 2004):
It is a pleasure to hear from a coach who wants his players to play the game correctly. We join with you in hoping that the referees call the game correctly. These guidelines are what referees are taught to call, but some of us become lazy or complacent as we move along in life, and we tend to think we know it all and don’t have to review.

A) There is no other sort of charge than a “shoulder charge”; no hips, no hands, no holds or pushes. A fair charge is shoulder to shoulder, elbows (on the contact side) against the body, with each player having at least one foot on the ground and both attempting to gain control of the ball. The amount of force allowed is relative to the age and experience of the players, but should never be excessive. This is as defined by the referee on the game, not some book definition, adjusted as necessary for the age and experience of the players and what has happened or is happening in this particular game on this particular day at this particular moment. It all boils down to what is best for the referee’s management and the players’ full enjoyment of the game.

Although often overlooked by spectators, it is important to remember that a player’s natural endowments (speed, strength, height, heft, etc.) may be superior to that of the opponent who is competing with that player for the ball. As a completely natural result, the opponent may not only be bested in the challenge but may in fact wind up on the ground‹with no foul having been committed. The mere fact that a player fails in a challenge and falls or is knocked down is what the game is all about (and why coaches must choose carefully in determining which player marks which opponent). Referees do not handicap players by saddling them with artificial responsibilities to be easy on an opponent simply because they are better physically endowed in some way.

Fair charges include actions which do not strictly meet the “shoulder-to-shoulder” requirement when this is not possible because of disparities in height or body type (a common occurrence in youth matches in the early teenage range where growth spurts differ greatly on an individual level within the age group). Additionally, a fair charge can be directed toward the back of the shoulder if the opponent is shielding the ball, provided it is not done dangerously and never to the spinal area.

B) The arms may not be used at all, other than for balance‹which does not include pushing off or holding the opponent.

C) There is no change prior to, during, or after contact.

You should be able to determine the answers to subquestions 1)-3) from the information above.


WAITING FOR THE SIGNAL
Your question:
A free kick has been awarded either direct or indirect. The kicking team asks the referee to enforce the ” ten yard rule.” Does the kicking team then have to wait for a whistle to take the kick?

USSF answer (November 24, 2004):
Yes, the team must wait for the whistle or whatever other signal the referee has instructed them to expect. They have asked the referee for a “ceremonial” free kick, and so must put up with the entire ritual.


‘KEEPER BOBBLES AT OFFSIDE SITUATION
Your question:
If a shot on goal deflects off the keeper’s hands to an opponent in an offside position, the flag should go up. But if the keeper bobbles the ball, or makes the save and then bobbles the ball, and the player in the offside position pounces on it, is this a new play (no flag) or a continuation of the shot-on-goal play (flag goes up)?

USSF answer (November 20, 2004):
You are correct in your first statement. However, if the ‘keeper bobbles the ball, he or she has not established control or possession and the player in the offside position who becomes actively involved should be called offside. If the ‘keeper establishes possession and then bobbles the ball, there is no offside. It is a matter of timing and degree, and the intelligent referee (or assistant referee) will be able to figure it out.


DENIAL OF OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY
Your question:
I addressed the subject question you answered in the Update of February 3, 2004. Specifically, I asked whether it was an offense for a player to grab a goal post to gain a tactical advantage. Your answer, in part, was, “As long as the defender does not use the goal post to support himself or keep his arm on it to bar an opponent from getting through, there is no offense.”

At our Soccer Referee Association meeting last night, the following game situation was posed and discussed:  A corner kick is taken. A defender grabs the goal post and uses it to vault himself up to head the ball away. The defender successfully heads the ball away which otherwise would have entered the upper corner of the goal. The defender does not move the goal itself, does not interfere with an attacker in front of the goal, and does not otherwise commit an offense.

In discussing this game situation, I brought up the Ask a Referee Q & A which I cited above in stating that I believed that the defender’s action constituted misconduct (USB) and should be cautioned and the game restarted with an IFK for the attacking team.

However, another member thought that if the ball was, in the referee’s judgment, headed into the goal but for the defender heading it away, that such conduct constituted a Sending-Off Offense (denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent moving toward the goal by committing an offense punishable by a free kick or penalty kick) and that the defender should be sent off and a penalty kick awarded.

As to this opinion, two of the three elements of this Sending-Off Offense apparently have been satisfied in that there was an obvious goal scoring opportunity and the commission of an offense punishable by a free kick.

However, the issue is whether or not the element of this Sending-Off Offense requiring that an obvious goal scoring opportunity be denied _to an opponent moving toward the goal_ has been met. In other words, can the attacker taking the corner kick be considered as “moving toward the goal?” As a related question, in terms of the analysis of this element of this Sending-Off Offense, in identifying the attacker moving toward the goal, must it be the attacker who last touched the ball prior to the offense?

USSF answer (November 20, 2004):
A very interesting question and a point we had not considered before. Thank you for this opportunity.

On the one hand, the Law requires that the opponent, not the ball, be moving toward the goal for there to have been a denial of a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity through an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick. Therefore, despite the fact that the defender committed unsporting behavior by using the goal post as an artificial support, which is an offense punishable by a free kick, the defender has not denied the opposing kicker a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity within the meaning of the Law through this unsporting act.

On the other hand, the Law does not require that the player denied the goal or goalscoring opportunity must have been the last to play the ball, nor that any player on that team have been the last to play the ball. In this case, if the defender had to raise himself high enough to head the ball away through the use of the goal post, it is unlikely that an opponent might have raised himself high enough without that aid to play the ball.

The decision in cases like this must rest with the referee on the spot, as only that referee can judge whether conditions were correct.


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Defense plays ball back to goalie, goalie picks up ball,this is an indirect because it is inside 18. The ball is closer to the goal than 10 yd. Where could the defenders stand?

USSF answer (November 11, 2004):
No nearer to the ball than the nearest spot on the goal line, between the goal posts, yet still on the field.


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER; FIELD MARKINGS
Your question:
I have two questions:
1.A defender plays the ball deliberately with their foot from their own penalty area to the side of the goal, possibly with the intention of sending the ball out of the penalty area to avoid a situation with an offensive player and incurring a corner kick. But then the goalkeeper runs and catches the ball within the penalty area to the side of the goal. I assert that Paragraph 12.20 of “Advice to Referees” clearly indicates this should be an IFK, but other “senior” referees assert that no infraction has occurred, and to whistle an infraction is against the “Spirit of the Laws” since the ball was not played to the goalkeeper.

2. The goal line between the goal posts is offset forward from the goal posts. I have seen this be as little as 1-2 inches to as much as 1-2 feet,and wascaused by an untrained line painter avoiding the goal posts. I assert that a goal should be judged in close situations either by the referee or the ARby the goal posts, not the goal line, even if the offset is only an inch. And I assert that the opposing team captains and coaches should be informed of this guideline prior to the start of the game. Are these assertions correct?

USSF answer (November 10, 2004):
1. The decision on whether kicked passes to the goalkeeper are deliberate or not always rests with the referee on the spot. While we do not necessarily agree with the “senior referees,” it is safe to say that this possible infringement may be ignored if it is truly trifling.

2. Marking the field is the responsibility of the home team. Any problems should be included in the referee’s match report. If the goal lines are off by as much as you suggest, the game should not be started until the situation has been remedied in one way or another, possibly by removing the false line and replacing it with a correct one. If all else fails, play the game, but remember that to be scored as a goal, the ball must cross the goal line BETWEEN THE GOAL POSTS AND BENEATH THE CROSSBAR, not 1-2 inches or 1-2 feet out from them.


USE OF THE ADVANTAGE; SCREAMING COACHES
Your question:
I was watching a U13 Girls game yesterday and the following occurred. White was attacking Blue’s goal when a Blue player handled the ball in the box. The CR did not immediately call the foul, but after a few seconds, the ball was kicked over the end line, at which time the CR called the handling foul and gave White a PK. White subsequently scored resulting in a 1-1 tie. Blue’s coach began screaming that the CR couldn’t call the foul that late, and even got into a verbal confrontation with a White parent over it. Note that he did not dispute the foul, just the timing of the call.

What was the correct conclusion to this situation?

USSF answer (November 9, 2004):
It is usually unwise to play the advantage in the penalty area. That said, the referee may invoke the advantage clause and, if the advantage is not realized within the brief time span of 2-3 seconds, may call it back and award the free kick for the foul or misconduct.

In fact, the referee may have done just fine. Here is what we advise advanced-level referees to do when the defense commits a foul inside the penalty area: wait the 2-3 seconds and see what happens immediately thereafter. If the ball goes immediately into the net, the gods of soccer have proven themselves just; if it doesn’t, call the foul and restart with the penalty kick.

Don’t pay much attention to screaming coaches or let them influence anything you do. Most coaches don’t know very much about the Laws of the Game and how referees are supposed to make decisions, but they are happy to try to influence calls all the same. [But see item below dated November 7, where the coach is right and the referee wrong.]


FIVE REFEREES???/GOALKEEPER PRESENCE
Your question:
With 1:45 left in the game Team A pulled their keeper and put another player on (without goal keeper apparel) the referee noted the change and then Team A threw the ball in play. The AR was waving his flag for about 15 seconds and then finally put it down and let the play go on, Team A then scored about 15 seconds after the AR put his flag down. The player substituted in on the play never came within 30 yards of the ball and had no effect on the play. (They had 5 refs for this game 3 reffing and 1 on each teams side.) they disallowed the goal, put the time of the throw in back on the clock and started with a throw in from the original throw in with 1:45 on the clock and then that was that.

Is this the correct action? I know this what would be done if there was an extra player on Team A, but I wasn’t sure what the action was if the team did not play with a goalkeeper.

USSF answer (November 8, 2004):
Five referees on a game? What kind of rules are these? This game cannot have been played under the aegis of the United States Soccer Federation, as it did not follow the Laws of the Game. And those referees who were there did not follow the Laws of the Game, so we can only suppose that this game was not affiliated with USSF or USYS. (Perhaps some sort of high school game?)

The Laws of the Game call for one referee and two assistant referees, aided at the higher levels of play by a fourth official. Only American football uses a platoon of referees.

Under the Laws of the Game no team may play without a goalkeeper. The goalkeeper does not need to be on the field if a goal is scored, but must be part of the team. (See answer of October 13, 2004: “THE GOALKEEPER DOES NOT NEED TO BE STANDING OR EVEN IN THE PENALTY AREA.”) Furthermore, we do NOT roll back game events and time on the clock to some point at which the team presumably was “whole”– we simply resolve the situation and then move onward.

The conduct of this game should be reported to the competition authority and to the state soccer association(s).


“EXTRA PLAYER”
Your question:
Can you bear a bit more discussion on this issue? [See item below dated November 2, 2004.]

With the change to the restart following the discovery of the extra player immediately after the scoring of an apparent goal by the offending team, it seems the IFAB is trying to say the offending team will be penalized as if the discovery was made instantaneously before the ball entered the goal.

Now let me pose my scenarios:

We have the subject situation, and the “oversized” team is awarded a PK, at which time the presence of the extraneous player is discovered. Do we negate the foul leading to the PK, and conduct a drop ball, or continue with the PK?

We have the subject situation, and the “correctly-sized” team is cited for a foul which in normal circumstances would subject the foulling player to being Sent Off for denying an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity. (For simplicity, let’s say it wasn’t VC or SFP in and of itself.) Now the extra player on the fouled team is discovered which meant the Opportunity was not really there, as the goal would have disallowed on this new ruling. Do we “un-Send-Off” the foulling player?

These kinds of questions keep me up nights!

USSF answer (November 8, 2004):
The answer to the first question is that it depends on whether or not the extraneous player was the one who was fouled. If so, the act was misconduct, not a foul, so no penalty kick can be awarded. The extraneous player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field without the referee’s permission. The game is restarted with a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when the misconduct occurred. If the extraneous player was not the one who was fouled, then the penalty kick may proceed after the extraneous player is cautioned and removed from the game.

The second situation is resolved in a similar manner, except that there can be no send-off for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity. In that case, the opponent who committed the “foul” on the extraneous player may still be sent off for violent conduct if the actual act was committed with excessive force.


GOALKEEPER LEAVES PENALTY AREA ON PUNT
Your question:
In a recent game, the goalie collected the ball and ran to the 18 to punt. When he punted the ball he was across the line. I called the foul. The coach questioned the call at the half saying that he believes that the goalie can toss the ball over the 18 and then make contact(punt). That is how he coaches his goalies to get an extra step. I didn’t see the toss over the line and even if he did-would that be considered a second touch?

USSF answer (November 7, 2004):
Yes, the coach is correct. The goalkeeper may release the ball before leaving the penalty area and then kick the ball while outside the area. The goalkeeper is allowed to kick the ball outside the penalty area, provided he does not carry the ball over the line–but even crossing the line while releasing the ball is a very trivial offense, particularly if the goalkeeper is clearly putting the ball back into play for everyone.

The term “second touch” does not apply in this situation.


WASTING TIME VERSUS USING TIME
Your question:
As the coach for a U-18 Girls team I attempt to teach them proper time management of the situations they face during matches. If they are leading and a ball goes out of bounds, they take their time to get the ball and take the restart. If we are losing and the ball goes out of bounds on us, they run to the ball, set it up for the opposing team so the other team can take a faster restart. I see these tactics used at every level, it is part of the game. We have received stern warnings from the officials to get the ball in play as quick as possible. We have also seen yellow cards issued for kicking the ball “too far” out of play allowing our team to get numbers back and recover their shape defensively. My point is; if the other team wants the game to flow continuously, they should not have kicked the ball out of bounds. If they think we are taking too much time on our restart, they have the option of spending their energy to chase the ball and set it up for us to restart. It makes no sense for my players to run to the ball wasting their energy, while the other team is standing and recovering their breath, to get the ball back in play quickly allowing more time for the opposing team to score on us. If the official thinks that we are wasting time he has the discretion to add time to the end of the match.

My questions are: (1) Is this a cautionable offense? (2) Does the official have the right to speak sternly to my players? (3) Is this not a tactic used at all levels? (4) What law covers kicking the ball “too far” out of bounds (5) What law dictates that players must jog to recover a ball kicked out of bounds by the opposing team?

USSF answer (November 4, 2004):
(1) It can be a cautionable offense if the player does not react quickly to the referee’s instructions to get the ball back into play.
(2) Yes, if it is deserved.
(3) Yes, and it should be punished at all levels if it goes beyond allowable limits–which are set by the individual referee, based on this moment in this game on this day. There is no standard for all referees in this matter. (4 and 5) As you suggest, the referee should simply add time if a team kicks the ball too far out of play. The referee should also make allowances for the distance that the team with the restart has to cover to retrieve the ball. However, if the referee determines that the team with the restart is exceeding a reasonable limit in getting the ball back into play, the referee may caution the player for delaying the restart of play–although this is usually preceded by a warning.


REFEREES DON’T SEE FOULS AGAINST OUR TEAM
Your question:
There is a team that my daughter has played against for 2 to three years that has consistently thrown elbows off the ball and do it in a way that conceals it away from the center referee. The first time I heard my daughter complain to me my first thought was that they were playing hard and she was just upset about it. I watched closely and observed what she was complaining about. During a game about a year ago I asked the side referee to please watch these girls throwing elbows into the side of our girls and he actually acknowledged that is what he saw but deferred to the center ref (he told me that was the center refs call). Unfortunately when the foul was acknowledged but disregarded it did not sit well with me. The team my daughter plays on is a fair team that wins as many as they lose and the coach emphasizes fair play and good sportsmanship. That was important to me. I understand that their is only one center ref and can not see what all 22 kids are doing at each moment of the game. My concern has never been with the outcome of this game but with the safety of these kids. How can I approach this before something happens to one of our kids or one of the kids on the other teams?

USSF answer (November 3, 2004):
There would seem to be two courses of action open to you. The first is to write a letter to the league (or whatever the competition is), noting the behavior of the other team. The second is to write a letter to the State Referee Administrator about the referees who have done these games. (You will have to include full details as to date, place, teams, etc.). Approaching an individual referee would be of absolutely no use .

In addition, you have either misunderstood what the “side referee”‹actually called the assistant referee‹said or the “side referee” misunderstood his proper role. That role is NOT to routinely defer to the referee on all decisions about fouls, but to assist the referee (in accordance with Law 6) by signaling offenses not seen by the referee for which the referee would likely have stopped play had he seen them. At minimum, the assistant referee can also bring to the referee’s attention individual instances of behavior or patterns of behavior which he has observed but for which he did not signal.


CHANGING THE DECISION
Your question:
Player from Team A shoots. Keeper from Team B gains possession of the ball on the ground between the posts near the goal line and stands up. The Referee looks to the AR who has maintained position near the goal line and asks the AR “was that a goal?” The AR answers “no” and shakes his head. The Referee allows the Keeper from team B to continue play.

After 60 to 90 seconds the coach from Team A confronts the AR and tells the AR that a goal was scored. The AR signals the Referee and indicates that a goal was scored and the Referee stops play, indicates a goal was scored and restarts with a kickoff.

Setting aside the illegal interference by Team A’s coach, is there a provision in the Law that allows a Referee stop play to award a goal once he has allowed play to continue in this, or any manner?

USSF answer (November 3, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game, the referee is entitled to change a decision as long as there has been no intervening restart. However, in this case the decision was unwarranted and foolish. The referee and the assistant referee had already agreed that there was no goal and the referee allowed play to continue. The referee has no authority to solicit or accept the opinion of an outside party, particularly one who is vitally interested in the outcome of the game.


RULES OF THE COMPETITION VERSUS LAWS OF THE GAME
Your question:
My question involves substitution for the cautioned(yellow card) player. What is the rule for USSF youth games? I believe the player cannot be substituted unless it occurs during a substitution opportunity. Suppose I caution a player for a reckless foul, the restart being a direct free kick for the opposing team. A player cannot substitute for him under USSF youth rules; however under FIFA, the team may sub for him and under High school rules, he must leave the field and the team may or may not sub depending on their preference. Am I correct?

USSF answer (November 3, 2004):
The rule for youth games is exactly the same as for the rest of the world‹a player may be substituted at any stoppage of play. That rule is sometimes modified by local rules of competition to restrict the number of opportunities for substitution. There is also a rule that no player may be forced to leave the field because of being cautioned. That rule may not be modified by any competition.

And you are in error about “USSF youth rules,” which are actually those of US Youth Soccer. The USYS rules call for competitions to follow the Laws of the Game on substitution, with the single modification that, after having been substituted out, players may enter once again as substitutes later in the game. Again, some local rules of competition fail to follow this guidance from USYS.

You are probably thinking about what used to be considered the “standard youth exceptions” from the Referee Administrative Handbook, which will soon be removed from that book. You are correct with regard to high school rules.


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Regarding this question and answer on the “current topics” page: Is the answer the same if the ball deflects off the keeper’s teammate (instead of an opponent)?
QUOTE
BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO GOALKEEPER
Question:
A teammate deliberately kicks the ball, with his foot to his own keeper. On the way to the keeper, the ball deflects off an opponent. May the keeper now legally handle the ball?

Answer (October 5, 2004):
In this case, the goalkeeper may handle the ball legally. Under the Law it is the actual handling that constitutes the offense, not the pass. In this case, the opponent’s deflection has negated the original deliberate kick to the goalkeeper. END OF QUOTE

USSF answer (November 2, 2004):
Yes, the answer would be the same.


“EXTRA PLAYER”
Your question:
I have just become aware of an apparent contradiction between the IFAB 2004 Q&A document, and the Entry Level Course content. I draw your particular attention to Q&A Questions 7 and 8 under Law 3. In this scenario, we are presented with an evident contradiction to the Entry Level Course transparencies 3-19 and 3-20. I am referring to the situation in which a team’s status of playing with an unauthorized (even an “extra”) person is discovered either during play or after an apparent goal. Still in force is the fact that the extraneous person will be Cautioned and asked to leave the field of play, and in the second instance, the goal will not be allowed.

The issue becomes the restart, which, as we have been teaching it, would be an IFK to the opposing team, or in the second instance, a goal kick by that team. This Q&A document would have us instead conduct a drop-ball in both cases, at the spot where the ball was, if play was stopped for the discovery; or, if after the apparent goal, on the goal-area line parallel to the goalline, nearest to where the ball entered the goal. On the face of it, this seems a rather advantageous treatment for a team caught trying to cheat, and somewhat “arbitrary” in the specification of the placement. (It also violates one of my favorite Law parameters, in that once something has happened, nothing subsequent to that occurence will change the restart. In this case, the ball going over the goalline, not ultimately resulting in a goal, thereby leading to a goalkick, made sense.)

Has the Federation decided on how to treat this apparent discontinuity? As we enter the off-season, with the attendent high number of Entry Level Courses, having this difference between published IFAB data and information on the USSF website is worrisome.

USSF answer (November 2, 2004):
What you point out is not an “apparent contradiction,” it’s an evolving interpretation by the IFAB. The entry-level course materials predate FIFA’s issuance of the IFAB’s new version of its Q&A. It is incumbent on referees, instructors, and assessors to remain current on the Laws of the Game, along with all current interpretations, instructions, and guidelines. The new IFAB Q&A has been available on the FIFA website since the middle of this year.

As for the restart itself, the IFAB appears to have decided to standardize the restart whenever “extra” persons are discovered on the field of play-whether that extra person is a player who has returned without the referee’s permission, a substitute who has entered without the referee’s permission, or an outside agent (i.e., anyone else) -no matter what happens afterward. The placement of the restart is a practical issue. All dropped balls are where the ball was when play was stopped: if the ball was off the field (thus appearing to have stopped play), the IFAB guideline suggests that the dropped ball take place where the ball left the field. If this results in the restart being inside the goal area, then we have another rule that kicks in-that the restart be moved up to the top of the goal area on the six yard line closest to where the restart would otherwise have been.


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Regarding the question and answer of October 5, 2004: Is the answer the same if the ball deflects off the keeper’s teammate (instead of an opponent) when the ball is kicked to the goalkeeper?

USSF answer (October 29, 2004):
Yes, the answer would be the same.


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
In a recent match the defender, under great pressure, deliberately passes the ball back to his keeper with his knee. The ball was bouncing by him and he ³helped² it along by using his knee. The referee called for the indirect as soon as the referee handled it. I was always taught that the pass back to the keeper ³foul² has to be with the foot and the foot is defined as ankle down. Please clarify.

USSF answer (October 29, 2004):
If, in the opinion of the referee, the player deliberately kicked the ball to the goalkeeper or to a place where the goalkeeper could easily play it, the requirements of the Law have been met as soon as the goalkeeper handles the ball. We should add that “kicking” the ball with the knee would not truly fall within the realm of kicking, so this situation would not appear to be an infringement.


REFEREE APPAREL IN NON-REFEREEING MODE
Your question:
In a recent youth match (U-12 recreational), one of the assistant coaches was observed wearing a warmup jacket with a conspicuous “National Referee Program” logo on the front. We have always advised our referees that, when they are at a field on the sidelines as a coach, they should not be wearing anything that calls attention to the fact that they are a referee. When a note was sent to the coach after the match requesting that they not come attired in this manner in the future, this individual, who indicated that they were a “national referee” requested that we cite an official source where this guidance is published. I know that the fellow referees I work with usually have two warmup jackets with them – one with referee insignia when working as an official, and one without, when on the sidelines in any other capacity. Is there guidance documented anywhere? Or is our practice to request referees acting as coaches not wear referee related attire another myth that has trickled down through the years?

USSF answer (October 27, 2004):
Referees should exercise common sense and not wear their uniform or other clothes that identify them as referees when they are coaching or watching a game. Wearing such clothing as a spectator invites comment and cries out for spectators or others to question the non-working referee on the calls of the officials on the field. Wearing such clothing as a coach could be considered a form of gamesmanship.


GOAL OR NO GOAL?
Your question:
I was an AR in an U19 game yesterday and the following happened and I need your opinion: The attacking teams right wing was in front of me and getting ready to shoot on goal and shot when she was charged and fouled. I raised my flag to indicate a foul and before the center blew his whistle the ball was in flight towards and goal and subsequently went in the goal. The goalie stopped when she heard the whistle and made no attempt to stop the goal.

The question is, since the ball was already in flight should the goal have been counted?

USSF answer (October 27, 2004):
No, it should not. The referee’s whistle stops play immediately. In actual fact, play stops as soon as the referee decides to punish an infringement, even if the whistle has not yet been blown.

The real question here is how and why the refereeing team got itself into this situation in the first place. You should not have raised the flag unless the foul clearly fell within the “out of the view of the referee” criterion (which seems highly unlikely if the fouled player had the ball at the time and was preparing a shot on goal). The referee should not be too quick to whistle immediately after the AR raises the flag, etc., etc. And your scenario also suggests that the referee was not in proper position at the moment you flagged for the foul. Many mistakes here that need to be considered and rectified.


FEINTING AT PENALTY KICKS OR KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
A question arose the other day, in a class, to which you might enlighten us. In the recent USSF memorandum “Kicks From the Penalty Mark (updated)”, at the end of the memorandum, there is a list of the actions of the kicker that are to be considered unsporting behavior. In Particular, theat “he makes any motion of the hand or arm which is clearly intended to misdirect the attention of the goalkeeper” seems clearly to discourage any “feinting” that is intended to draw the keeper off his line before the ball is put into play. It would be beneficial to see an example(s) of a feint by the kicker that the current interpretation of the laws intends referees to allow.

USSF answer (October 27, 2004):
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, 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 referee is the sole judge of what constitutes unsporting behavior during penalty kicks or kicks from the penalty mark.

Any caution of the kicker for any of the prohibited activities (e. g., running past the ball and then backing up, making hand/arm gestures to deceive, making a long convoluted run to the ball) would be written up as unsporting behavior.


REMOVAL OF EXTRA PLAYER‹DON’T REACH IMMEDIATELY FOR THE CARD!
Your question:
Youth competitions usually have unlimited substitutions, so the composition of a team often changes during a half and almost certainly between halves.  If a referee determines there are too many players on the pitch (for whatever reason), how do we single out one in particular to receive the caution? To use the example from the previous extra player question, if a player is sent off in the first half and, after the start of the second half the referee discovers 11 players, who gets the card?  Should we remember the last substitution and caution that player? Or, should we caution who ever leaves the field?

USSF answer (October 27, 2004):
It would be nice if this could be one of those serendipitous moments when the referee could select which ever player had offended the Spirit of the Game the most during the previous portion of the game. Alas, that is not to be. The referee will allow the captain to select the player to be removed. (The captain may wish to consult with the coach, but the referee will NOT do so.)

Incidents like this make a clear case for not starting the second half without confirming with each assistant referee (AR) that they have checked for the appropriate number of players at their ends of the field. Without a clear indication that this was done intentionally for an unfair advantage, a caution should be a last resort since the officials (the referee and at least one AR) are also culpable.


AR MUST ASSIST, NOT INSIST
Your question:
Just this past weekend, I was reffing the final game of a U12 classic tournament so of course the parents and coaches were very into the game. Anyway, I was an assistant referee and on almost every singal call the center ref would call it the other way. This extended all the way until a penalty kick which cost one team the game. After the game, me, my friend who was the other AR, and the center walked off the field together to avoid getting beat. On our way off the field, the parents were screaming at us and once we were in the parking lot, a man started following me and my friend, this is after the center left. During the game, one coach was dismissed and the other was on the verge of being dismissed.

I was wondering what I should do in the future if this situation arises and also what I should do about the center who completely contradicted all of my calls. Thank you for your time

USSF answer (October 27, 2004):
We understand your concern about the poor calls, but it is not your job to correct the referee. The task of the assistant referee is spelled out in the title of the position: a-s-s-i-s-t. Nowhere in the Laws does it say anything about “insist.” Do the best you can under the circumstances and then submit a report of your own to the assignor and the state referee administration. You will have done your duty to the referee program and to the game. The state referee administration will take it from there.

We also share your concern about being confronted by spectators, coaches, or players after the match is over, particularly where they appear to be pursuing you. That can be very disconcerting. Being in the company of others in these circumstances is a good idea, but the tournament managers also have an obligation to see to the safety of the officials. Should a similar situation arise again (heaven forfend!), you might consider seeking out whatever tournament officials (field marshal, referee tent, etc.) are nearby and make it clear that you expect their assistance. If it is not given wholeheartedly, you should also consider notifying your local assignor or referee association regarding the problem.


IMPROPERLY TAKEN GOAL KICK
Your question:
What is the correct call after the following play: Player takes goal kick. Ball only goes five yards or so. Player then picks up ball and retakes goal kick. Since ball did not leave penalty area, can player retake goal kick or is it a hand ball and penalty kick is awarded to other team. If goal kick can be retaken, can player be cautioned for time wasting?

USSF answer (October 27, 2004):
The ball is out of play on a goal kick. That means that no foul can be committed until the ball is back in play. You do not have the power or the authority to overturn the Laws of the Game and call deliberate handling and then award a penalty kick. The kick must be retaken. If it suits the referee’s game-management needs, the player might be cautioned for delaying the restart of play or unsporting behavior, depending on the circumstances, and shown the yellow card. (There is no caution for “time wasting.”) However, to do this, the referee must be convinced that the delay was for the purpose of gaining an unfair tactical advantage and, second, that the referee had warned the player first to get the ball back into play correctly.


GOALKEEPER CARRIES BALL TRIFLING DISTANCE OVER PENALTY AREA LINE TO RELEASE IT
Your question:
The situation is that a goalkeeper runs to the edge of the penalty box to kick the ball. A linesman calls ‘hands’ for an indirect kick saying the kick was outside the penalty box. Our video seemed to show that contact with the ball was completed before the penalty box line.

The question is, when is a goalkeeper kick considered a hand ball? Is the designation where the ball is located when in contact with the hand or foot, where the player ends up after the kick or some other consideration? If the penalty relies on the position of the ball, does the ball have to be completely out of the box or in the box?

USSF answer (October 26, 2004):
First things first: If the referee were to agree with the assistant referee (not linesman) on the infringement, the correct restart would be a direct free kick for deliberate handling, not an indirect free kick.

Now to the situation itself: No matter what your video shows–and videos are not admissible evidence in the referee’s decision-making process–the assistant referee was probably overzealous and a bit quick on the trigger in flagging this possible infringement. Especially at the youth level, the intelligent referee will allow the play to continue and warn the goalkeeper about keeping better track of where the lines are.

Under the letter of the Law, if the goalkeeper’s hand and the ball are together, outside the penalty area line, then the goalkeeper has deliberately handled the ball outside the penalty area. Under the Spirit of the Law, however, this is probably a trifling infringement, one that could be dealt with verbally, as indicated above.


FOULING THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
My family belongs to [an AYSO region]. The question I have is: In division U10 girls when a ball has been kicked to score a goal and the goalie is attempting to stop (her position was over the ball with her back on top and her arm around the ball..you could see she was attempting to turn around is the opponent allowed to continue play to score.. what took place was in my mind awful..the opponent kicked our teams goalie in the head not once but twice and the referee said nothing as the game was within seconds of ending. After the whistle was blown and game called the goalie approached the referee crying hysterically and told the referee she was kicked in the head twice. The referee’s response was,” well, the ball was still in play.” The child who happened to be mine came over to tell me this. I see no AYSO philosophy in letting a little 9yr girl being told this by a Director/Referee/Parent. My question is was this referee correct in his call?

USSF answer (October 26, 2004):
An official AYSO source responds: “As described, this really is an unfortunate incident. The official AYSO policy as stated in AYSO Rules & Regulations reads as follows: “It is the duty of referees to protect the goalkeeper against dangerous play.” If the incident happened as described, i.e. the goalkeeper lying on the ball with her arm around the ball, I believe the referee made an error in judgment. We teach that one finger on a stationary ball is the equivalent of keeper possession. In this case, the keeper clearly had possession, and the ball no longer should have been played. That the game shortly ended was not an excuse for the referee to have not taken action. In AYSO we try to avoid giving cards to kids at the U10 level, but a foul against the attacker should have been called, and the referee should have given a stern warning to the attacker. If nothing else, he/she should have spoken with the attacking player’s coach and reported the incident to the regional commissioner.”


PLACEMENT OF THE BALL FOR CORNER KICKS
Your question:
While acting as an AR during an AYSO U19 Boys match, I signaled for a corner kick to be taken on my side of the field. The side awarded the kick was ahead by two goals with less than three minutes to play.

The player taking the kick placed the ball completely outside of the restraining arc. I directed him to place the ball on the line. He replied that he did not have to place the ball on the line because the circumference of the ball would intersect an imaginary vertical plane as in judging a ball in or out play. I repeated my direction for him to place the ball on the line. He responded that I was wrong and that the ball was in contact with the plane of the line.

I signaled to the CR and advised him of the players dissent and delay of the game. The CR gave the dissenting player a yellow card and after the player continued his dissent to the CR he was then shown a second yellow card for persistent dissent and was ejected for 2 cautions.

The coaches and parents are unhappy about this incident and I have promised to inquire with USSF to find the correct interpretation. I have quoted Law 17 and claim that the ball shall be placed so that it rests on the ground at any point inside the corner arc or on any part of the lines which enclose the corner arc. I also pointed out that this player was wasting time late in a game in which his team held a 2 goal lead and that it was up to the AR to decide when the ball was ready for restart, not the player.

Even if I am mistaken about placement, there is no question about the dissent and action taken thereafter.

USSF answer (October 21, 2004):
It has been clearly stated by the International F. A. Board, the makers of the Laws of the Game, that the ball must 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 www.fifa.com.


CHANGING RESULTS OF A GAME AFTER ITS CONCLUSION
Your question:
According to FIFA and the United States Soccer Federation, in what instances or situations could the final result of a game be changed after the game has concluded or could there even be instances or situations where the game would need to be replayed?

USSF answer (October 20, 2004):
There are no circumstances in which the result of a game could be changed after the game has concluded. Any replay would have to be ordered by the competition authority.


REPLACING BALLS
Your question:
When more than one ball is supplied for the game, is their any guidance on uniformity of pressure between balls? The following occurred the past weekend:

USSF answer (October 20, 2004):
The players may substitute only a ball that has been approved by the referee. In turn, the referee should ensure that all balls meet the standards imposed in Law 2–and are as uniform as possible. The referee should check the balls as often as seems necessary, but should not waste a lot of time doing so.


ENFORCE THE RULES OF THE COMPETITION
Your question:
A question on what is a valid reason for official delays in games where traffic problems prevent visitors from reaching a game site.

SITUATION: A team (U15/Div. 2) has a game about 40 mins. away this weekend, and visiting parents set out for the game site 90 mins. before game time.

Trouble is, there’s a horrible accident that snarls traffic (out of Washington, DC) for 4.5 hours, beginning almost at the time of departure. Many families make it to the site (using torturous back routes) though not all, yet those that can, arrive at about game time. Team fielded is not the full 11-man side.

ISSUE: Center ref insists that — in this league (Nat. Capital Soccer League) — while he CAN offer 15 min. delays, the rules also allow him to start with 7 on a side. In short, he’s ready to play 7 v. 11 if he has to, regardless of the obvious delays that day on Route 95, the major artery from Washington, DC to Richmond, VA.

Isn’t it “sporting” (and good judgment) for the center to allow both teams to be at full strength, when — given all evidence — both teams would be fully represented IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE TRAFFIC OBSTACLES?

As a center ref myself, I believe center refs should lean backwards to avoid giving an advantage to 1 team — whenever there are good reasons to do so. That did not happen.

Can a center ref ignore ALL evidence for delaying a start (this was the last game on that field)? If the answer remains “YES, always” then referee rules should be changed to reflect the reality of congested metro areas. (For now, I’m ignoring the fact that the resulting 7 v. 11 games jumble the results of games and standings.)

What’s the correct “call” here?

USSF answer (October 20, 2004):
The “correct call” here is to follow the rules of the competition (league/cup/tournament/whatever). In this case NCSL has allowed for a 15-minute grace period. The referee has no authority to delay games beyond what is called for in the rules of the competition.


BALL IN PLAY FROM INDIRECT FREE KICK
Your question:
It is my understanding that stepping on top of the ball during a indirect free kick and then having another player take the kick is not sufficient enough to be considered movement. What happens if a team does this and sends the ball over the goal line, but not in the goal? Do you allow them a re-kick or does the defending team get a goal kick? If they do this and the ball goes in the goal without touching anyone else would you also consider it a goal kick?

USSF answer (October 20, 2004):
The restart depends on who was taking the indirect free kick and from where.

If the kick was by the defending team within its own penalty area, the ball must come back for a retake if it did not leave the penalty area and enter the rest of the field.

If the kick was taken by the opposing team with the opponent’s penalty area and the ball enters the goal, the correct restart is a goal kick.

If the kick was taken by either team outside either penalty area, the correct restart is either a goal kick or a corner kick, depending on whose goal line it went over, whether or not it entered the goal. The usual rules for CKs and GKs apply here: If it goes directly into my goal (or over the goal line) from my kick, it’s a corner kick; if it goes into the other team’s goal (or over the goal line) directly from my kick, it’s a goal kick.


KEEPING TIME
Your question:
Are there any regulations or requirements to the specific timepiece or instrument to keep time by the referee? example: is a standard mechanical watch, hour, minute, and second hand, acceptable?

USSF answer (October 20, 2004):
The standard wristwatch is acceptable only if the referee remains alert to the time of the kick-off, the amount of time required for each half (and any periods of extra time) by the competition, and to the amount of time necessary to replace time lost. Of course, the same could be said for stopwatches.


SHOWING CARDS; NO REPLACEMENT FOR SENT-OFF PLAYER
Your question:
Q1 In last weekend’s match, my player (youth U14 boy) was shown a yellow card for dissent (walking away from the ref. after an offside call). When the player showed his emotion by turning his head and extending his hands at his waist, the ref. showed him a red card and sent him off. Should the ref. have shown a second yellow before red?

Q2 After my player was sent off, I was required to play one man down for the remainder of the half and the game. Which rule governs this action?

USSF answer (October 18, 2004):
Surely there is more to the story than this. Simply walking away from the referee after being called offside and then spreading one’s arms at waist level would not merit a caution or a second caution and send-off.

If the referee were to give a caution for the second offense, then the referee must show first the yellow card and then the red card. But referees must remember that there would be no need to show the second yellow card if the player’s second act of misconduct (whatever it was) was a red card offense on its own terms. Nothing else happened prior to this? There is either a lot left out or the referee was having a very bad day.

As to playing short, that is and always has been the Law–even though it is no longer written in the Laws of the Game. It was dropped in 1997 because the authors of the Laws, the International Football Association Board, determined that “everyone” knew that.


DELIBERATE HANDLING REQUIRES ACTUAL HANDLING, FOLKS!
Your question:
On a cross in front of the opponent’s goal, the attacker trapped the ball with his chest and volleyed the ball into the goal for an apparent goal. The referee disallowed the goal for handling. This was his explanation: the attacker definitely trapped the ball using his chest only (it never touched his arm at any time per the ref) but, when trapping the ball the player swung his arm around while turning his torso to keep the ball in front of him (otherwise it would have gone off his chest past the goal) and because he used his arm to control the ball, this is handling. Is this handling?????

USSF answer (October 18, 2004):
Yes, those referees are becoming more and more inventive. If, as the referee said, the ball never touched the player’s arm, then there was no deliberate handling–or handling of any sort at all. Using one’s arm to control one’s balance is perfectly legal.


THE BALL MUST BE STATIONARY ON GOAL KICKS
Your question:
Is a ball kicked while rolling from within the goal area OK? The law spells out that the ball MUST be stationary on free kicks, and implies it on corner by using the word “placed”. However it does use language like this for goal kicks.

USSF answer (October 18, 2004):
There are many things unsaid in the Laws of the Game, the most important of them being that a player who has been sent off may not be replaced–but we all know it is true. [See item above.] The same is true of the ball being stationary at a goal kick.

Nowhere does it state specifically that the ball must be stationary for goal kicks, but it is implied in Law 17 for corner kicks (and in Law 14 for penalty kicks). The specific statements in Laws 8 and 13 that the ball be stationary for the start and restart of play and free kicks also imply that the ball must be stationary for all kick restarts.

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

Law 13
Types of Free Kicks //snip//
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
//snip//
Position of the Ball and the Players
The ball:
* is placed on the penalty mark

Law 16
Procedure
* the ball is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team
//snip//
[the inference here being that if the ball was at “any point” it was stationary]

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

There is the additional logical argument that, if the ball must be kicked and moved to be in play, it must follow that it is not moving prior to being kicked–otherwise the requirement to be moved makes no sense. Therefore, we can state unequivocally that 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).


THE AR MAY NOT SHOW A CARD NOR CAUTION NOR SEND OFF ANYONE
Your question:
A situation involving an AR and a Coach came about a while ago. The AR felt as if dissent were being shown to him by the coach, and decided that after the game was over in the parking lot, to show a red card. First off, is this red card valid? Secondly, the referee in the middle was still on the field preparing himself for the next match. Somehow, this red card was written into the game report and the coach was suspended for the following match. Is this a correct punishment according to the laws of FIFA? I know that at no time can an AR show cards, but can recommend them. But how is it the coach was still suspended though he was not officially given a card.

USSF answer (October 16, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game, no one other than players and substitutes by be shown any card. However, if the rules of the competition require it, team officials may also be cautioned or dismissed and shown the appropriate card. No assistant referee (AR) may discipline or show a card to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Nevertheless, while the AR cannot caution or send off or show any type of card to anyone, the AR may submit a separate report to the appropriate authorities. This may be what happened in this case. We cannot account for the acts of disciplinary committees or of rogue ARs.

And the final straw is that any official showed a card after the game was over. That is forbidden by the Laws of the Game. The referee (or AR) may only note the details and file a report.


MEMORANDUM ON CAUTIONS
Your question:
I’ve read the memorandum on second cautions several times and am more confused than before. The way I read the memorandum it says, in effect, “(1) Caution (show the yellow card) a player if he/she deserves it. (2) If the player would normally deserve a caution (yellow card) but it would be his/her second caution don’t give it unless the offense deserves a send off (red card) since the second caution results in the send off. It goes on to say that before giving a second caution the referee should use escalating warnings.

To me this gives a player with one caution almost carte blanche to commit cautionable offenses as long as they are not, in and of themselves, worthy of a send off. The idea of using increasingly severe admonitions and warnings after the first caution has been given is like repeatedly telling a child not to do something but never taking action. It will not prevent the undesirable behavior.

Can you help me interpret this memorandum’s advise more clearly – right now I think it will lead to less control and more on the field foul play.

USSF answer (October 14, 2004):
You are misreading both the intent and the spirit of the guidance.  It is saying that, because a second caution will result in the player being sent off, the second caution should be given when, in the opinion of the referee, it is truly a cautionable offense (in other words, you would have given a first caution for the misconduct) and the misconduct clearly continues a pattern of behavior of that player despite the prior notice of the first caution that a continuation would result in the player being sent from the field.

It is this second condition that you are misunderstanding.  In circumstances where the behavior of the player does not represent such a continuation, the referee should attempt to manage the player using other techniques short of a caution.


NO REPLACEMENT FOR PLAYER SENT OFF!
Your question:
I was sure that when a player on the field gets a 2nd yellow, the player has to leave and the team plays down a man. A more experienced referee told me that a substitute can enter the match to replace a player after a 2nd yellow card.

Does a team have to play a man down after a player receives a 2nd yellow card?

USSF answer (October 14, 2004):
Either the “more experienced referee” has been using illegal substances or he or she is thinking of high school rules. Under the Laws of the Game, a player who is sent off and shown the red card for any reason, including receiving a second caution, may not be replaced. Under high school rules, the second caution/yellow card is considered to be a “soft red card” and the player may be replaced.


DO NOT ALLOW RESTARTS IF A CAUTION OR SEND-OFF OFFENSE OCCURS!!!
Your question:
Team A 3, Team B 1, at minute 65 of a 70 minute match officiated by a relatively new CR.

At minute 65, Team B’s attacker with the ball gets behind Team A’s sweeper with a clear goal scoring opportunity, with only the GK to beat. The Team A sweeper catches up just enough to the Team B attacker to grab (foolishly!) the attacker’s shirt and simply restrains him just outside the PA. The CR inexplicably does not promptly issue a RC (and not even a YC) but awards a DFK to Team B. Play restarts with Team B taking its DFK and naturally enough Team B pathetically botches the opportunity, ball going out for a goal kick. Play restarts again and continues without incident, including a few throw-ins (i.e., other restarts), to 69:47. CR blows whistle. Team A 3, Team B 1.

Now, coaches and parents of Team B storm the field, with one Team B parent yelling expletives, grabbing the CR’s shirt sleeve, flipping off a Team A mom and later the balance of the Team A parents, and finally gets ejected by a much more experienced AR, who then assumes control as the CR appears bewitched and bewildered. Team A huddles at its bench. Coaches and parents of Team B continue to argue on opposite side of pitch with AR and CR. Team A’s manager overhears enough to warn Team A’s coach that the match just might be restarted. Team A’s coach has the offending Team A sweeper put on an orange sub vest and asks another Team A player to get ready to come in. The AR now marches over to Team A’s bench, about 10 minutes after the CR’s whistle and 15 minutes after Team A’s sweeper committed the obvious foul, where AR issues a red card for the obvious foul of minute 65 to Team A’s sweeper, sitting at the bench and wearing the orange sub vest. AR then announces he will resume play for an additional five minutes. Team A’s coach now proceeds to argue vehemently but is restrained by Team A’s manager (who has no other licensed coach to continue the match) in the nick of time. The game is in fact restarted again for five minutes, team A playing with 10 men, with no incident, no score, in that time frame. Second (“last”) whistle, this time by the AR. Score is same, Team A 3, Team B 1.

Question: Should the red card to Team A’s sweeper stand? If so what on earth does it mean in Law 5 that “The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee, provided that he has not restarted play”? PROVIDED THAT HE HAS NOT RESTARTED PLAY?

CR in his match report apparently has stated that his first whistle (at 69:47) was merely a suspension of play and that AR’s last whistle marked the end of the match. Does that really matter, whether is was meant to be a match-ending whistle or a suspension of play?

Assume for the moment that the replacement of the CR by the AR was justified by CR’s emotional inability to continue or because of consideration for the safety of the players and fans. Let’s put that issue aside. It really was a smart move. The Team B fans were in the process of losing it.

USSF answer (October 14, 2004):
Ah, those inventive referees! (We usually praise the coaches for being inventive, but in this case it is the referees‹or actually the assistant referee.)

Once the game has been restarted, as described in your question, the referee may no longer caution or send off any player for an act committed before that restart. Indeed, the International F. A. Board, the folks who make the Laws of the Game, have sent a very strong message this year that referees are to ensure that no game is restarted without such punishment taking place.

If full time has not been played, and this would appear to be the case from your question, then someone else may assume control of the game‹with the permission of the referee, who then either retires from the field or takes over the position of the official who replaced him or her. (It is not clear from your question as to whether the assistant referee had the referee’s permission to take over control of the match, but, while this could be a significant event on its own, it has no bearing on the question at hand.) If the AR did indeed take over control of the game, he or she has no authority or power to send off a player for an act that occurred before the last restart.

It would be interesting to read the referee’s match report to see how this was justified. And also to see if the facts were reported in full.


FLYING SHOES
Your question:
My son was the referee in a game where a player struck the ball and her shoe came off, flying to the side of the play. The second time it came off it flew into the goal. My son did not indicate a foul but warned the coach at halftime to secure her shoes. I suggested that if the shoe comes off and goes away from the play, a warning would be sufficient at the next stoppage of play. If the shoe comes off and is part of the play or endangers another player, he should have stopped play, cautioned the player (and coach since it was a youth game of 6 and 7 yr olds) and awarded the opposing team an indirect free kick due to a dangerous play. If the ball had scored, it should not count.

USSF answer (October 14, 2004):
The correct answer is none of the above.

As defined in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” (ATR) and clear from the perspective of the Spirit of the Game, a foul is an unfair or unsafe action committed by a player against an opponent or the opposing team, on the field of play, while the ball is in play. (ATR 12.1) What you describe was certainly not a foul, nor could it be characterized as misconduct, the only possibility for cautioning a player.

The problem of losing a shoe is recognized in the IFAB’s Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (Q&A), published for the IFAB by FIFA. Under Law 4, Q&A 10, it states:
10. A player accidentally loses his footwear and immediately scores a goal. Is this permitted?
Yes. The player did not intentionally play barefoot, because he lost his footwear by accident.

Normally the act of losing a shoe on the field of play is neither an unsafe nor an unfair action by the player who does this. The player need not leave the field to replace the shoe and should certainly not be punished by the referee unless he or she does not replace the shoe as quickly as possible. Even if the kicker’s shoe had been removed by an opponent tackling for the ball, there would be no punishment for either player.


NO SOCIALIZING, PLEASE
Your question:
Fairly early in the second half of a boys high school match with the score 1-1 between the #1 ranked team in our state against a struggling smaller school with at losing record, the ref called a foul against the smaller school near mid field.

At that time, the coach of the top ranked team called the ref over and the two proceeded to have an extended conversation for between two and three minutes, off the field, near the center line. The boys even started play again and the ref called it back during this down time.  The opposing coach eventually positioned himself nearby, but never entered into the two man huddle.

Throughout the match, the #1 team dominated play in and around the penalty box. With 32 seconds left on the scoreboard clock, the ref called a foul on the small team while in the penalty box, a pk was taken and now the score was 2-1 for the #1 team.

The last offensive thrust by the small team was negated by a hand ball call with about 17 seconds to go. No stoppage time was given so the game was soon over.

After reviewing the rules of soccer, I have been unable to find a section that describes the ref’s relationship with a coach during a match. I have never seen a meeting of this length during a match.

I described the game environment to further enhance the uneasy situation this meeting presented to the fans and players.

With all the action in the penalty box throughout the game, calling a foul with 32 seconds to go just didn’t “smell” right, and while I did see the hand ball, I saw many others that also fit the bill earlier on that did not get the call.

So my questions are:
1) Can a ref have an extended conference off the field with one coach during a match?
2) In the interest of a fair played game and using ‘common sense’ is it in the games best interest to call a PK with seconds remaining in a close game?
3) Is stoppage time used in high school soccer? (If so, that private meeting really added fuel to the fire)

As a disclaimer, I don’t have any sons playing for either team, I just wanted to see the #1 high school team play.

USSF answer (October 13, 2004):
1) We cannot speak to high school rules, but tradition and common practice dictate that referees should not spend time socializing or otherwise lingering to chat with coaches or any other people not directly associated with the game. And coaches are not directly associated with the game; their work should be done in the days and weeks preceding the game, not during it. The referee who socializes (or appears to socialize) gives the impression, rightly or wrongly, that there will be some bias. The business of the referee is to get on with the game and call it properly.

2) We respond to your question about the penalty kick with another: “Is it in the best interest” not to call a foul that occurred at any moment of the game? Of course the answer is no. If they are not trifling or doubtful, all fouls must be called, no matter when they take place.

3) There is “stoppage time” but only if signaled by the referee. The high school rules call for the official time to be kept by a timekeeper (if there is a stadium clock, in working order, visible to the field). If the clock is not operated properly, the referee can (at a stoppage) order the clock to be corrected. However, the stadium clock is otherwise official. It stops for various things but socializing with a coach is not one of them. Unless the stoppage had been caused by a card being given, an injury, or the taking of a penalty kick, the clock should not have stopped.


THE GOALKEEPER DOES NOT NEED TO BE STANDING OR EVEN IN THE PENALTY AREA
Your question:
With this question, why did not you talk about the position of the goalkeeper? inside the goal box, inside the penalty box but outside the goal box, outside the Penalty box?

USSF answer (October 13, 2004):
The answer in question (dated September 28, 2004) said:
Law 3 requires that each team must have a goalkeeper, but there is no requirement that the goalkeeper always be on the field of play or in an upright position. While we generally give goalkeepers the benefit of the doubt in case of injury–to wit, they do not have to leave the field when being treated for injury–neither are referees required to stop the game for anything other than serious injury. However, some consideration must be given for the age and skill level of the players. The intelligent referee will apply common sense to each individual situation.

The direct answer to your question is that it makes no difference where the goalkeeper is.

That is a fact of life that cannot be changed. If you saw the English Premier League game last week between Man. City and Bolton (I wish to heck I had recorded it), you would have seen that the referee, Uriah Rennie, allowed the goalkeeper to remain down on the field for about a minute before doing anything about it. The goalkeeper was out almost 18 yards from his goal, flat on the ground, having fallen down through no fault of an opponent. Why would the referee not stop the game? Because the goalkeeper was not seriously injured and there was no reason, under either the Letter of the Law or the Spirit of the Game, for him to do so.

Where did he get his authority to do that? From principles established in the Laws and in one of the major documents published by the International F. A. Board, the people who make and change the Laws of the Game. The major document is the “Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game.” (See Law 3, Q&As 19 and 20.) The goalkeeper is allowed to leave the penalty area and the field without the referee’s permission during the course of play to play the ball, just as is any other player. The goalkeeper may retrieve the ball that has gone into touch or take a throw-in, corner kick, penalty kick, free kick, etc. If the goalkeeper leaves the field to play the ball and cannot return in time to stop a goal, the goal is scored. In short, the goalkeeper does not have to be on the field of play.

Neither does the goalkeeper have to be in an upright position or even able to play the ball. Under Law 5, the referee is required to stop play for injuries only if, in the opinion of the referee, the injury is serious. In the Additional Instructions to the Referee, found at the back of your copy of the Laws of the Game, you will find a repetition of this instruction: play is allowed to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in the referee’s opinion, only slightly injured, and play is stopped if, in the referee’s opinion, a player is seriously injured. The goalkeeper is a player.


CHANGING THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
While watching a Rec U-14 B game the following occurred and got me to wondering…
Attacking team was awarded a PK and the defending coach immediately yelled for a keeper change (with a field player). CR allowed the position swap prior to the PK being taken. You can imagine the comments from the attacking coach and most of the spectators. PK was blocked. About three minutes later the ball went out at the touch line and the request was again made to swap the players back to their original positions. Believe it or not, the same thing happened during the second half and folks were beginning to get very upset (vocally).

I understand that CR may allow field player/keeper change at a stoppage (Law 3) and that coaches wish to make best use of players and tactics. The whistle has blown and the ball is out of play (Law 9). I guess my specific question is whether stopping the play for the administration of the PK falls under the definition of “stoppage”. Taking this though a little further, would it follow that other “whistled” restarts (IFK, DFK, and drop balls) are also “stoppages” which would allow the changing of a keeper with a field player.

I’m just happy that I was not the CR for this game…I’m not sure the swap would have been allowed; but I would like to know before the situation occurs. Thanks for you answer…I can see this both ways but just can’t convince myself that this is correct.

USSF answer (October 13, 2004):
Law 3 provides for this exchange between the goalkeeper and any field player: QUOTE
Changing the Goalkeeper
Any of the other players may change places with the goalkeeper, provided that:
– the referee is informed before the change is made
– the change is made during a stoppage in the match
END OF QUOTE

This does not count as a substitution, so any local rules of competition regarding limited substitution do not apply. A stoppage of play is any time the ball is out of play, whether over a perimeter line or when the referee has blown the whistle. This is valid at any stoppage, whether for a throw-in, corner kick, goal kick, kick-off, misconduct, or foul.

Simply because the spectators and the opposing coach are unaware of the Law does not invalidate it. Coaches and spectators often do not know anything about the rules under which the game is played. The tactic discussed here is legal at any level of play.


USING THE ADVANTAGE CLAUSE
Your question:
A recently posted Q&A (USING THE ADVANTAGE CLAUSE Posted September 29, 2004 ) leads me to a question. A goalkeeper being the last defender, just outside the penalty area challenges an attacker with the ball moving towards the keeper¹s goal, and in so doing fouls the attacker. A nearby attacker¹s teammate runs onto the open ball and the referee signals and shouts ³Advantage, play on!² The teammate (unaffected by the goalkeeper¹s foul against the attacker other than to gain possession of the ball) then miffs the wide open goal by shooting the ball wide of the goal out of play. Does allowing advantage in this particular situation negate the sending off offence to the goalkeeper for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity?

USSF answer (October 12, 2004):
Referees have the power to apply (and signal) the advantage upon seeing a foul or misconduct committed if at that moment the terms of the advantage clause were met. Applying advantage permits the referee to allow play to continue when the team against which the foul has been committed will actually benefit from the referee not stopping play.

The referee may return to and penalize the original foul if the advantage situation does not develop as anticipated after a short while (2-3 seconds). In this case, the referee will have to judge whether the advantage was sustained long enough to meet the standard set by the International F. A. Board (2-3 seconds) with the ball then in the possession of the attacker’s teammate. If so, the decision may not be recalled. It makes no difference whether or not the teammate with the ball subsequently scored or not.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
Admittedly this situation may never occur, but after reading the December 16, 2003 USSF Memorandum titled “Kicks from the Penalty Mark”, I wondered about this obscure situation.

Assume that player A received a caution in regulation time. Assume also that the match is to the point where penalty kicks are in process to determine the winner of the match (often called a “shoot out”).

The time comes for player A to shoot for his team. As he approaches the ball, he commits a violation (such as waving his arm to distract the keeper). The ball enters the net. The infringement means that a re-kick is required (i.e., no goal), so the center referee waves off the goal. The center referee then displays the yellow card for the Unsporting Behavior, and a red card for the second caution.

What happens next? My assumption is that you would send off the player and player A’s team forfeits that penalty kick. Am I correct?

USSF answer (October 12, 2004):
Never assume too much. In this case there is some question as to whether or not the player would be cautioned for his transgression during kicks from the penalty mark (KFTPM). The rules for KFTPM are much the same as for penalty kicks: if it is a first offense, then the player is warned, rather than cautioned, so that must be considered.

If it works out that the kicker is cautioned and sent off for the second caution during the game, the kicker’s team would be able to put up another kicker. It would have to be one who has not yet taken a kick in this round of KFTPM.


PROPER GAME COVERAGE
Your question:
I am writing for clarification on the use of a 2-man officiating system for use within a local recreational soccer club. I am the head referee for Louisa Area Soccer Association and have reviewed my association’s bylaws and cannot find the answer to my question. Specifically I would like to know if a 2-man system, with each referee being a grade level 8, is allowed to be used for games within recreational play. The age divisions in which I would need to use a 2-man system range from U13 to U17. Although I have several referees in the program, most referees play for a local challenge program and I lack referees to cover games in the afternoon using the standard 3-man system. Please advise on your knowledge of this matter, and also advise on any other resources I could check for further clarification. Thanks so much for your time and assistance!

USSF answer (October 12, 2004):
We share your concern over the lack of sufficient referees, but must point out that games affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation may be officiated only under the diagonal system of control (DSC), with a referee and two assistant referees (AR). If you have only enough referees to supply two for each game, there are alternatives that will fill the bill. You may use either of these alternatives and still meet those requirements:
1. One referee, one assistant referee, and one club linesman (not a registered referee). Only the referee may use a whistle. The AR uses a flag and functions just as if in a full role. The club linesman is permitted to indicate only that the ball is out of play, not showing direction or type of restart. The club linesman is selected from the supporters of one of the two competing teams (usually the “home” team).
2. One referee and two club linesmen, the club linesmen being selected from the supporters of each of the two competing teams.

Barring the use of club linesmen, and only in emergencies, the game could be run with one referee and one AR. The referee would remain mostly on one side of the field of play and would use the whistle. The AR would run outside the field of play, as usual, but would not be able to use a whistle.


LIABILITY INSURANCE COVERAGE
Your question:
The question at hand is what is the policy on insurance coverage in a game utilizing a certified Center referee and two club linesmen. Our understanding is that USSF insurance covers only the Center. In the event of a lawsuit for serious injury caused by the lack of ability of a club linesman to control the situation if the Center’s back is turned, is the Center covered by insurance?

USSF answer (October 7, 2004):
If the referee is registered and the games are affiliated with US Soccer, the referee is insured.


SHOWING CARDS TO COACHES OR OTHER TEAM OFFICIALS 2
Your question:
An interesting subject was discussed on a coach’s list to which I subscribe. Someone related a story where an assistant coach got out of hand and was yellow carded by the referee. The fact that the coach was carded was not the point of their relating the story, but I replied that the LOTG allowed cards to be issued only to players, substitutes, and substituted players, and that the proper ultimate sanction for a misbehaing non-player was to be ordered away from the field of play and it surrounding area.

My questions are:
1. May a USSF-affiliated organization have rules that require coaches to be carded? I would think no, because USSF by-laws require that the LOTG be followed. I know modifications were allowed for youth soccer, in addition to those specifically allowed in the LOTG, but I did not think that was one of them.
2. If USSF organizations may modify the LOTG to require coaches to be carded, what is the authority that allows that?

USSF answer (October 6, 2004):
You are absolutely correct, in that the Laws of the Game do not permit giving cautions to or “sending-off” (we use the word “dismissal”) to coaches, nor do they permit showing the card to any team official. We do not know the origin of the concept, but it has long been held that the rules of competition for a particular league or state association may require showing a card to a coach.

Showing the card is a means of communication. Leagues and other competitions find it easier for parents and spectators to understand what is going on if they see a card being shown, rather than just seeing a coach walk away from the bench area. In addition, under some rules of competition the coach is responsible for the sidelines. If the sidelines are acting up and the coach is issued yellow card indicating a caution, it stands to reason that behavior control is much more easily achieved if there is a visible sign. The National Program for Referee Development will support the referee when a coach is cautioned or dismissed, even if no card is shown‹provided it is done in accordance with the rules of the competition.


SHOWING CARDS TO COACHES OR OTHER TEAM OFFICIALS 1
Your question:
My son is refereeing our local recreational youth league. This past weekend he was officiating a U8 game where the coach approached him, before and after the game, about calls during the games. He was trying to be intimidating and got very biligerant with him when my son seemed to not want his advise. As a referee myself, I know how I would handle this, but being 15, I don’t think he is as direct with adults as I am. What course of action would you recommend for our young refs to take in this rare case? He has been refereeing since he was 12 and this is the first time this has happened. Usually the league has an adult rep present to oversee the games, but this time there were just the two refs for the two games on the fields. He usually takes a cell phone, but forgot it this time; note the lesson learned!

A second question concerning parent conduct. We were at a tournement where the parents were getting pretty wound up over the refs calls. The center ref red cards a parent, ejects him from the field and the team loses a point because of the card. I later ask the head of officiating about this and he said in the tournement coaches can be carded and ejected, but still didn’t answer my question on the spectators. I can see the ejection, but the card and point for this team seemed baffling.

USSF answer (October 5, 2004):
1. Coaches at the U8 level are often as uninformed about the Laws of the Game and how the game should be called as their players. While the coach’s behavior was totally irresponsible and your son would have been correct in dismissing the coach early on in the game, the proper thing to do in this case would have been for your son to thank the coach for his input and say that maybe they would both do better next time out. In all events, your son should have reported the coach’s behavior to the competition authorities.

A more important question from our point of view is why there were only two referees for the games. All games played under the auspices of the U. S. Soccer Federation must be officiated by a three-referee crew or, alternatively, by a single referee using club linesmen.

2. We cannot comment on the dismissal of a spectator and the assessment of points against a team. These are matters covered by the rules of the competition and not subject to review by referees.

However, the referee has authority to suspend and, if necessary, to terminate a match if the behavior of anyone outside the field (coaches, spectators, etc.) seriously interferes with the conduct of the match.  The referee could suspend play and set as a condition for resuming the match the departure of a spectator who was behaving irresponsibly.  This option would be particularly relevant in a match in which spectators were physically proximate to the field as opposed to being in bleachers or arena-type seating.

In any event, no cards are displayed to anyone other than players and substitutes unless this is mandated by the rules of the competition.


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO GOALKEEPER
Your question:
A teammate deliberately kicks the ball, with his foot to his own keeper. On the way to the keeper, the ball deflects off an opponent. May the keeper now legally handle the ball?

USSF answer (October 5, 2004):
In this case, the goalkeeper may handle the ball legally. Under the Law it is the actual handling that constitutes the offense, not the pass. In this case, the opponent’s deflection has negated the original deliberate kick to the goalkeeper.


DISTANCE OF THE WALL
Your question:
I was involved in a game this weekend where a direct kick was awarded outside the 18. We created a wall a distance we honestly felt was 10 yards from the ball but the referee insisted on moving us back further.  His position was on the opposite side of the 18 nowhere near the ball or wall and initially did not physically walk out the 10 yards. We honored his request to move but asked him to walk out the yardage because it appeared to be at least 15 yards from the ball. He refused to walk out the yardage and gave a yellow card for questioning him. Can the team that committed the foul request the yardage to be measured if they feel too much was awarded?

USSF answer (October 5, 2004):
The defending team has no more right to ask for the distance to be measured to make sure it is not too much than the kicking team has to ask that it be measured to ensure it is not too little. While the defending (offending) team has very few rights at a free kick, one of those rights is that they can be assessed no more than the ten-yard distance. The referee has no right or power to force the team that committed the foul to move more than ten yards away from the place where the ball will be in play when kicked. However, only the referee can judge exactly what distance that “ten yards” covers.


EXTRA PLAYER ON THE FIELD
Your question:
In the first half, a player on Team A is sent off. Team A starts the second half with 11 players; no referee counts. During dynamic play, a penal foul occurs in the penalty area, committed against Team A. After the Penalty Kick is taken successfully (but before the kickoff is taken), Team B points out to the Center Referee that the scoring team has too many players on the field.

1. What is the course of action at that moment? And what is the proper restart?
2. What would be correct if the PK had failed and had gone over the end line, untouched…and then the referee counted players?
3. What would be correct if the PK had failed and had gone over the end line, last touched by the goal keeper, and then the referee counted players?
4. What would be correct if the Center Referee realizes Team A has 11 players on the field of play during dynamic play and before any foul has been called?
5. What would be correct if the Center Referee realizes Team A has 11 players on the field of play immediately after (but before the ensuing kickoff) Team A scores a goal?

Thank you for your assistance. This is based on an incident described to me earlier this week.

USSF answer (October 4, 2004):
What complicates the original scenario is that we don’t know when the extra person appeared on the field. The only way the goal can be canceled and play restarted with a dropped ball is if there were compelling evidence that the extra person was on the field prior to the goal being scored on the penalty kick. And if the goal stands, then (after cautioning the extra player) play would be restarted with a kick-off rather than with a dropped ball.

If there is definite proof that the eleventh player was on the field prior to the foul leading to the penalty kick, the answers to questions 1-3 and 5 are identical: The goal is not awarded. The eleventh player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without the referee’s permission and is instructed to leave the field of play. Play is restarted by a dropped ball on the goal area line at the point nearest to where the ball passed over the goal line to enter the goal.

The answer to question 4 is that the referee stops play. The eleventh player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without the referee’s permission and is instructed to leave the field of play. Play is restarted by a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.


NUMBER OF REFEREES FOR YOUTH GAMES
Your question:
For USSF youth soccer games ,is a set number of referees mandatory for any age groups?

USSF answer (October 4, 2004):
One referee and two assistant referees (or club linesmen) are required for all youth games. The dual system of control (two referees) is not allowed.


COMPETITION RESCINDS SEND-OFF
Your question:
Does a tournament committee have the right to rescind a red card give for point 4 of send offs?

USSF answer (October 4, 2004):
The answer is no. Law 5 tells us: “The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play are final.” The decision to send off a player for denying the opposing team a goal or a goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball is a decision on a point of Law. It is neither protestable nor reversible. The only points on which referee decisions may be reversed are those where the referee has acted contrary to the Law, the prime example being to restart incorrectly after a stoppage.

Furthermore, as FIFA has said, the requirement for a one-game suspension is mandatory and cannot be rescinded; it can only be lengthened.


WE COUNT TIME UP (0-45, 46-90), NOT DOWN
Your question:
A question has arisen about what FIFA says about clocks that count down as opposed to counting up. Two of my remaining grey cells recall something about that from FIFA, but the other two can’t find it. Checked USSF, FIFA web sites, my archive of meaningless trivia, all to no avail.

I think they said they prefer clocks that count up, but it is not a requirement, and I think it only applies to FIFA competitions, but I can’t cite chapter and verse, and would like to for this particular (officious) person.

Do you have a reference?

USSF answer (September 30, 2004):
FIFA requires a count-up clock in games played under its rules of competition. In other words, the clock runs for “the length of time played” from 0:00 to 45:00 (plus added time) in the first half, from 45:00 (the added time is only for statistical purposes and does not count as part of the full 45 minutes) to 90:00 (plus added time) in the second half. In addition, time runs the same way for any periods of extra time required by the rules of the competition. This has been made clear in several memoranda and circulars dealing with the proper way to keep time. The most recent documents of this sort are available on the FIFA website. They are the regulations for the soccer competition at the 2004 Olympics and for the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany.

The wording in both documents is identical: “Clocks in the stadium showing the length of time played may run during the match, provided that they are stopped at the end of normal playing time in each half, i. e., after 45 and 90 minutes, respectively. This stipulation also applies in the event of extra time being played, i. e., after 15 and 30 minutes respectively.”

In an earlier circular, FIFA also specified how various events are to be recorded (i. e., deciding the time to be set down in the match report for a particular event), particularly when something occurs in “added” or “injury” time. For example, the referee might write, “I cautioned Player X for unsporting behavior in the 47th minute of the first half.”


REFEREE SOCKS
Your question:
Recently I’ve seen some referees wearing socks with 3 stripes, while other are wearing total black socks….sometimes with a nike or adidas logos. Are the referees becoming lax or is this due to some uniform change?

USSF answer (September 29, 2004):
The only approved socks have the three white stripes or the US Soccer crest logo on the top.


IS THIS TOUCH LEGAL?
Your question:
I have been a USSF referee for approximately 10 year now. I referee competition games for kids ranging in age from U10 to U19 and also do an occasional adult league game. I did a tournament semi-final U11 boys match a few weeks ago and had the following occur:
The ball was crossed from the wing just inside the 18. A defender jumped raising both arms high and crossed above his head. He miss-judged the ball. An attacker standing on the 18, played the ball with his head, directly into the raised arms of the jumping defender.

Having seen many of these young players jumping with arms raised above their head, and not judging it to be intentional. Also considering that he had already jumped with arms raised above his head, and determining that the ball was played into his arms, not that the player had intentional raised his arms to play the ball, I did not call a hand ball.

I also recall recently hearing that most calls of handling the ball are not in fact called correctly because the ball hit the hand, not the hand hitting the ball.

Again, I did not call the hand ball, which of course created no small stir amoung players, coaches and fans alike, (mostly from the attacking team). At half, the coach argued rather hotly regarding the no call. I explained my reasons, etc. and eventually had to warn the coach.

I have asked several other referees, coaches and players and all have basically agreed with my call. Just thought I’d ask you.

USSF answer (September 29, 2004):
If you are certain in your heart of hearts–or, better for referees, “head of heads”‹that this player always raised his hands for such plays, you may have made the correct call, but it seems unlikely. Experience shows that this sort of jumping with the arms raised is not a natural thing to do. The referee should look for unnatural things when judging whether or not the play with the hands is deliberate or not. There is no reason for nor benefit from jumping with the hands above the head other than to play the ball if all else fails. The only question would be whether the referee might judge the offense to be trifling (under very limited circumstances) or worth an advantage call.

2004 Part 3

SLIDE TACKLING
Your question:
Is there an official US Soccer position regarding slide tackling in youth play? It seems many players are not trained to do it, increasing the potential for an injury.

How does position affect whether a foul occurred ­ is it a foul if from behind where the player cannot see it coming? If the sliding player hits the player with the ball regardless of position (from front or behind) ­ is it a foul? Does hitting ball matter as to whether a foul occurred? Does hitting the ball first and then the player lessen any foul? If the cleats are pointing forward towards the player with the ball as the tackle is made – is that automatically a foul?

I look forward to your reply. USSF answer (September 29, 2004): What follows is what we teach our referees. Unfortunately, that does not always mean that they put it into practice correctly. Cleats exposed and pointing at someone should be considered dangerous play where younger, less skilled players are involved. At higher competitive levels, the referee should determine if the player is exposing the cleats to intimidate or cause injury to an opponent.

A slide tackle is legal, provided it is performed legally. There is nothing illegal about a slide tackle by itself‹no matter where it is done and no matter the direction from which it comes. In other words, it is not an infringement to tackle fairly from behind‹if there was no foul committed.

There is nothing illegal, by itself, about sliding tackles or playing the ball while on the ground. These acts become the indirect free kick foul known as playing dangerously (“dangerous play”) only if the action unfairly takes away an opponent’s otherwise legal play of the ball (for players at the youth level, this definition is simplified even more as “playing in a manner considered to be dangerous to an opponent”). At minimum, this means that an opponent must be within the area of danger which the player has created. These same acts can become the direct free kick fouls known as kicking or attempting to kick an opponent or tripping or attempting to trip or tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball only if there was contact with the opponent or, in the opinion of the referee, the opponent was forced to react to avoid the kick or the trip. The referee may warn players about questionable acts of play on the ground, but would rarely caution a player unless the act was reckless.

How can tackles become illegal? There are many ways but two of the most common are by making contact with the opponent first (before contacting the ball) and by striking the opponent with a raised upper leg before, during, or after contacting the ball with the lower leg. Referees must be vigilant and firm in assessing any tackle, because the likely point of contact is the lower legs of the opponent and this is a particularly vulnerable area. We must not be swayed by protests of “But I got the ball, ref” and we must be prepared to assess the proper penalty for misconduct where that is warranted.

FIFA has emphasized the great danger in slide tackles from behind because, if this tackle is not done perfectly, the potential for injury is so much greater. Accordingly, referees are advised that, when a player does commit a foul while tackling from behind, it should not be just a simple foul (e.g., tripping) but a foul and misconduct. The likelihood of danger is greater when the tackle is committed from behind and the probability of a foul having been committed is greater solely for this reason — due in large part to the “can’t prepare for the tackle” element when it comes from an unseen direction. In fact, if the referee decides that the foul while tackling from behind was done in such a way as to endanger the safety of the opponent, the proper action is to send the violator off the field with a red card.

The referee must judge each situation of a tackle from behind individually, weighing the guidelines published by FIFA and the U. S. Soccer Federation, the positions of the players, the way the tackler uses his/her foot or feet, the “temperature” of the game, the age/skill of the players, and the attitude of the players. What might be a caution (yellow card) in this game might be trifling in another game or a send-off (red card) in a third game. To make the proper judgment on such plays, the referee must establish early on a feel for the game being played on this day at this moment and must be alert to sudden changes in the “temperature” of this game. Much depends on the level of play, whether recreational or competitive, skilled or less developed, very young or adult. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.


IS THIS TOUCH LEGAL?
Your question:
Player A makes a throw in. Player B passes the ball back to player A. Player A is still outside the touchline and he plays the ball to keep it from crossing the line. Did player A illegally touch the ball the second time? If so, would it have been legal for Player A to touch the ball if he was standing on the touch line instead of outside the touch line?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
This play is legal because, having thrown the ball in, A has not touched it again directly (B’s touch intervened) and it is also legal because A’s play of the ball was on the field even if most of the rest of him was not. Player A is then expected to return fully to the field as quickly as possible.


NO “COUNTDOWN” ALLOWED!
Your question:
My son plays in a youth league. The ref in the game, as a courtesy, counts down the final ten seconds of the game. A player on my son’s team, on a breakaway, launches a powerful kick from 40 yards out while the ref’s countdown is between 1 and 2. The ball goes in, over the out stretched hands of the goalie. However, the goal was disallowed because the ref said the ball crossed the goal line after the clock ended. If this is true, what would have happened if there was a penalty on the play? I guess that I am used to basketball (where as long as the shot left the player’s hands before the buzzer) or if the quarterback throws a pass that is caught in the end zone after time is expired, it stills counts as being good. I realize that if a defender stopped it and we kicked in the rebound, it should not count. But if the ball is in the air (untouched) why are we being penalized for 1 or two seconds on the clock? In addition, this was the head referee who either had to be watching his watch to count down correctly, therefore not seeing the play, or not watching his watch and just counting down. What is the correct ruling? I have been a coach for 10 years now, and I have never seen this play. It occurs to me that in most major games with injury time (not the case in this youth league); the referees tend to end the game when there is still some threat to score. Once that threat ends, THEN they end the game. I’ve never seen a major soccer game that ends as one player has a clear breakaway with no one between him and the goalie, because time ran out.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Courtesy has nothing to do with it; the referee should not be counting aloud the time remaining in a match. There is too much chance that something will occur, even in the “final” second, that could extend the game. (Now, if the game were being played under high school rules, with an official timekeeper and a field clock visible to all, the answer would be different.)

Under the Laws of the Game, the game ends when the referee deems it to have ended, whether the ball is in the air or on the ground. However, the wise referee will recognize that ending the game when a shot is being taken is a sure way to create trouble for oneself. We have only to think of the FIFA Referee who, during a 1978 World Cup match, blew the whistle just before the ball entered the goal totally uncontested from a corner kick by Brazil. The referee, widely experienced and not near the mandatory retirement age, never received another assignment from FIFA.


GOALKEEPER DOWN
Your question:
Situation: A competitive Youth match — A forward is approaching the goal and defender is at their side. The keeper approaches to make a play. The keeper makes a good play on the ball but the keeper and forward collide. The ball rebounds and stays in play. While the ball rebounds and during the keeper/forward collision, the keeper is shaken up (not faking it) and lies still on the ground. The keeper is not obviously hurt — no blood showing, no obvious broken bones, so no immediate need to stop the match for a serious injury. The ball rebounds off several players and within a few seconds (say < 5 seconds) another attacker kicks the ball into the goal.

What is the letter and then also the spirit of the law in this situation? Should the referee allow play to continue, as they would most likely do if a field player was shaken up? Or is the letter and spirit of the law such that it says a team must have a keeper and since the keeper is shaken up, lying on the ground and not trying to get up to make another save or trying to keep the rebounding ball from entering the goal, the team really does not have a keeper. In the later, the should the referee really stop the match — due to the fact the team, in essence, does not have a keeper?

Appreciate your perspective. The question is, when a keeper is shaken up and not playing as a keeper because they are lying on the ground, what is the advice for referees — to stop play or to keep play going (as we would do with a field player shaken up) until the play is neutralized and then stop the match.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Law 3 requires that each team must have a goalkeeper, but there is no requirement that the goalkeeper always be on the field of play or in an upright position. While we generally give goalkeepers the benefit of the doubt in case of injury–to wit, they do not have to leave the field when being treated for injury–neither are referees required to stop the game for anything other than serious injury. However, some consideration must be given for the age and skill level of the players. The intelligent referee will apply common sense to each individual situation.


PLAYER ON THE GROUND
Your question:
A player accedentially falls to the ground with the ball next to them. An opponent attempts to play the ball, while the player on the ground is attempting (unsuccessfully) to get up (still on ground). The player on the ground is kicked by the opponent. Is the call dangerous play on the player on the ground, or is it a penal foul for the opponent that kicked him?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
If the player on the ground is truly attempting to get up and out of the way of other players, and is not deliberately interfering with the opponent who is trying to kick the ball, then the referee should call kicking on the opponent; the restart is a direct free kick for the team of the player on the ground. However, if, in the opinion of the referee, the player on the ground is deliberately interfering with the opponent’s ability to play the ball, that player should be cautioned for unsporting behavior and the restart will be an indirect free kick for the opponent’s team.

And please note that it is perfectly legal to play the ball while on the ground, as long as no player is put in danger.


PLAYERS OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY
Your question:
Two relatively similar situations. In the first, two players from the team taking the kick are both completely off the field. One of the players taps the ball, the other player starts dribbling toward the goal. Is this a legal play. Should the second player be cautioned for illegally entering the field of play, since his leaving the field is not in the normal course? The second situation is similar, except that one of the players is on the field and taps the ball. The other one who was off the field dribbles toward the goal. I’m guessing that the answer is the same.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
While there are a number of occasions during which a player may be off the field of play without the permission of the referee, there is no need in the cases you describe for more than one player to be off the field to put the ball back into play. Neither is there any need for either of the players to be cautioned, provided the referee exercises common sense and suggests that the player return to the field NOW if he or she wishes to avoid the consequences.

Yes, it is perfectly legitimate for one player to simply tap the ball and for the other to begin dribbling toward the goal. In the second instance, there was no need for the second player to have been off the field. The referee should have acted to prevent this.


SUB REMOVED BY REFEREE MAY BE USED LATER
Your question:
An answer posted in July (see “PLAYER ALLOWED TO STAY ON AFTER SECOND CAUTION; WHAT TO DO?,” dated 28 July 2004) asks whether the substitute removed from the game after it was discovered that the player for whom he had been substituted should have been sent off because of a second caution may enter the game at a later substitution opportunity.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Yes, the substitute who was removed may be used as a substitute later in the game.


LEAVING THE GAME WITHOUT PERMISSION
Your question:
Quick Question … U13 Rec, 11v11, full field, 35 minute halves … gold vs green … about 20 minutes into the first half … play was stopped for a throw-in for gold … as I [cr] was moving into position for the throw-in I noticed a gold player at the line and ar1 signaling for a substitution … so far so good .. then, ar1 pointed across the field toward ar2 … he was standing at attention with his flag straight up … I asked the sub to stand @ the line and the thrower to hold the ball … ar2 informed me that a gold player had left the field .. where? … there! … and he pointed to the parking lot at the far end of the field where a player with a gold jersey was leaving the park … the player did not return … how should I have handled this? .. leaving the field w/o the referee’s permission is a yellow card offense, but there was no one to card.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Not a problem! Technically the referee should imply write up the infringement and include it in the match report, and let the team officials know this is being done. However, with youth players there is always the possibility that “Mom” has come and taken “Sonny” or “Sis” away for another family event, so the referee should inquire before taking drastic action.


MISCONDUCT AFTER THE GAME IS OVER
Your question:
In regards to the new prohibition on the display of cards after a match, what is the proper procedure by which to deal with post-game misconduct? Specifically, what are you to do when a player commits a sending-off offense? Are we to withold his player pass, as we would for a send-off during the game?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
The referee may no longer show the card after the game has ended, but the rest of the procedure remains the same: Note the player’s name, team, number, time, offense, etc., and write it up for the match report. Whatever other things are required by the competition for a send-off or caution should also be done. Just don’t show the card.


FOOLISH REFEREES AND BOORISH COACHES
Your question:
What is the appropriate way to question the legitimacy of a goal during a game? We were involved in a game where the winning goal was scored on a handball which the referee did not see but the linesmand called it. The referee called goal…then no goal after the linesman called the hand ball…. then goal again after the opposing coach ran out onto the field and told the ref that he could not change his initial call of goal no matter what. We stayed on our line and did not know what to do.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
There is no appropriate way to question the legitimacy of any call by the referee during the game. The referee should have consulted with his assistant referee (aka “linesman”) and based the final decision on that information. The fact that the referee then once again changed the decision because the other coach said that a decision once made cannot be changed was a deplorable error and mistake. Unfortunately, once the game was restarted with a kick-off, no further change was possible.

We apologize to you for this foolish behavior by the referee. There’s not much we can do about the boorishness of the opposing coach.


INADVERTENT WHISTLE–USE YOUR HEAD, REF!
Your question:
U9 boys travel game: The whistle was blown inadvertently while a player is dribbling the ball unchallenged down the field. The ref immediately says “my mistake play.” (The ball was still in the field of play.) Play continues for about 1 minute and a goal is scored. The coach who had the goal scored against him argues that the goal should not be allowed because the referee didn’t “drop the ball” after the inadvertent whistle. The referee reversed the goal.
1. Since the referee would have the option of returning a drop ball to the sole possession of the team the whistle effected, and then let play continue for the amount of time it continued one could argue the goal should be allowed.
2. The other coach argued that in wasn’t a drop ball so the later goal should not be allowed.

What would your advice be in this situation.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Whether or not a goal was “scored” and then taken away makes no difference. (No goal is possible under these circumstances unless the referee has compounded the error by allowing the game to be restarted with a kick-off.) The only possible thing for the referee to do once he or she has blown the whistle inadvertently is to restart with a dropped ball. The drop would be taken at the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.


PROPER KICK-OFF
Your question:
I got a question regarding the execution of a Kick-off. This happenend in a High School game. The Referee starts the game and blows the whistle. The player who takes the Kick Off has one foot on the ball. She pushes the ball forward but still keeps the foot on the ball. So the ball is kicked and moves forward which normally constitutes a legal Kick-Off. But now she passes the ball back to a teammate who is standing on her side of the field. She never took her foot of the ball until she played it to her teammate. The referee let this happen because he didn’t know what to do about it but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong. We were talking about that situation in one of our referee meetings and I heard all different answers like “two-touch” or “Illegal Kick-off”. In my opinion this is trickery which should be penalized with a caution and an IDF. Mabe you can give a answer to that matter.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game, the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward. In addition, the kicker may not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player. “Kick” means to impel the ball with the foot and then release it; it does not mean to roll the ball with the foot on top of the ball. The “kick-off” you describe was not properly taken and should have been called back and retaken. There is no requirement for a caution.


AGE DATES FOR YOUTH COMPETITION
Your question:
Who decides the age/ birth date cutoff dates? National or State or Local Associations? Where can I go to find the ages for the age brackets?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
All of the above, depending on the particular competition. For national data, check with USYS at usyouthsoccer.org. For state data, check with your state association (whose Internet data you can find at the USYS site). For local data, check with your local association or club.


BLAZING CARDS!
Your question:
In a youth league, can a referee give a yellow card to a coach because the coach and substitue players are closer then 1 yard from the side lines ?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game the referee may not show a card to any coach. On the other hand, the rules of some competition do permit this, just as some competitions limit how close the non-playing personnel and team officials may be to the touch line. The referee should always seek to avoid giving cards to anyone if there is another way to solve the problem without sacrificing good game management. One good way to do that is to advise the team officials of the rule of the competition, rather than rushing in with cards ablaze.


RULES FOR UNDER 8S
Your question:
Are all fouls committed in the penalty box by the defense taking from the spot of the foul as indirect kicks?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
According to the rules adopted by the USYS for 2004, Law 12, “all fouls shall result in a direct free kick.” In addition, Law 13, “all kicks are direct and all opponents are at least four (4) yards from the ball until it is in play.” There is no penalty kick in Under 8 soccer.

Local rules might be different. You will have to check with your local competition.


USING THE ADVANTAGE CLAUSE
Your question:
Last night while calling a highschool game, an attacking player beat the defending team’s sweeper (3 feet outside the penalty box), the sweeper seeing that he is beaten throws his hip into the attacking player taking the attacking player off his feet. At the same moment the Attacking player’s teammate (Outside midfielder) runs onto the ball in the “box” and regains the advantage and subsequently miss handles the ball out of play. What is the right decision for the referee?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
The “right decision” is to make a decision. Award the advantage for the “hip throw”–advantage sustained long enough (2-3 seconds)–teammate with the ball subsequently doesn’t score, but not as a result of the original foul. The only remaining question would be whether the “hip throw” was reckless or performed with excessive force and therefore cardable at the next stoppage.


PROPER MECHANICS ON A GOAL SCORED
Your question:
There was a shot on goal, it bounced off goalie’s arms and slowly heading into the goal net, the goalie turned and dive toward the ball at about waist height and grabbed the ball, threw the ball back into field of play, the goalie’s teammate kicked the ball upfield right away.

The center ref was not sure the ball had passed the plane of goalie line, so he looked at the AR, and the AR was running toward the upfield, the center ref thought the AR’s running was just keeping up with the ball movement and hence no call was made. Later the AR told the center ref the ball did break the plane and his run toward upfield was to indicate a goal.

So my question is, should the center ref stopped the play to ask the AR and resume the play with an drop kick if it was not a goal, or the AR shall flag the center ref to verbally communicate the call for goal?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Correct procedure for the lead assistant referee when a goal is scored and the ball returns to the field is to raise the flag vertically to get the referee¹s attention. When the referee stops play, the lead AR puts flag straight down, runs a short distance up the touch line toward the halfway line to affirm that a goal has been scored. The lead AR then takes up the position for a kick-off and then records the goal after the trail assistant referee has recorded it.

If this procedure (from the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees” 2004) had been followed, there would not have been any problem.


AR POSITIONING AND MECHANICS
Your question:
A team took a shot on the opposing teams goalie and the goalie stopped it near the line. The center looked at the AR to see if it was a goal but there was no signal at that time mainly due to the fact that the AR was 25-30 yards from the end line. The goalie then played the ball out to a team mate which then passed it to another team mate. After 25-30 seconds after the goalie “saved” the ball the AR then raised his flag and signaled that it was a goal. I know if the ball had been kicked out of bounds and a stoppage of play took place and then a restart occurred then the goal would not have counted. So my question then becomes what is the correct course of action or was that the correct course?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
According to the information you supplied, the assistant referee was in no position to make the call. Therefore no decision other than whether or not to “score the goal” should or could have been made. The answer is no goal. We are prepared to join the party to tar and feather the AR.


NO OFFSIDE, BUT POSSIBLE IMPEDING
Your question:
Corner kick, player in offside position in front of GK (player on goal line and corner kick with ball 1 yd off goal line). Ball kicked directly into goal. However, player in offside position interfered with play by screening keeper. A clear offside violation if restart was DFK near corner.

Exception in Law 11 is when “player receives ball directly from” Goal Kick, Throw In or Corner Kick. Here player never received ball but violated another aspect of the offside law. My first thought is guilty – but ???????

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
The player in this situation may not be punished for infringing any aspect of Law 11, as it is impossible to be offside directly from a corner kick. However, it is an offense if the player who is standing in front of a goalkeeper when a corner kick is being taken takes advantage of the position to impede the goalkeeper before the kick is taken and before the ball is in play. And, even if the referee is so naive as to fail to deal with that offense, a player who impedes the goalkeeper’s ability to play the ball, without attempting to play the ball himself, must be punished by the award of an indirect free kick for the goalkeeper’s team.


SLIDE TACKLING
Your question:
Is there an official US Soccer position regarding slide tackling in youth play? It seems many players are not trained to do it, increasing the potential for an injury.

How does position affect whether a foul occurred ­ is it a foul if from behind where the player cannot see it coming? If the sliding player hits the player with the ball regardless of position (from front or behind) ­ is it a foul? Does hitting ball matter as to whether a foul occurred? Does hitting the ball first and then the player lessen any foul? If the cleats are pointing forward towards the player with the ball as the tackle is made – is that automatically a foul?

I look forward to your reply. USSF answer (September 29, 2004): What follows is what we teach our referees. Unfortunately, that does not always mean that they put it into practice correctly. Cleats exposed and pointing at someone should be considered dangerous play where younger, less skilled players are involved. At higher competitive levels, the referee should determine if the player is exposing the cleats to intimidate or cause injury to an opponent.

A slide tackle is legal, provided it is performed legally. There is nothing illegal about a slide tackle by itself‹no matter where it is done and no matter the direction from which it comes. In other words, it is not an infringement to tackle fairly from behind‹if there was no foul committed.

There is nothing illegal, by itself, about sliding tackles or playing the ball while on the ground. These acts become the indirect free kick foul known as playing dangerously (“dangerous play”) only if the action unfairly takes away an opponent’s otherwise legal play of the ball (for players at the youth level, this definition is simplified even more as “playing in a manner considered to be dangerous to an opponent”). At minimum, this means that an opponent must be within the area of danger which the player has created. These same acts can become the direct free kick fouls known as kicking or attempting to kick an opponent or tripping or attempting to trip or tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball only if there was contact with the opponent or, in the opinion of the referee, the opponent was forced to react to avoid the kick or the trip. The referee may warn players about questionable acts of play on the ground, but would rarely caution a player unless the act was reckless.

How can tackles become illegal? There are many ways but two of the most common are by making contact with the opponent first (before contacting the ball) and by striking the opponent with a raised upper leg before, during, or after contacting the ball with the lower leg. Referees must be vigilant and firm in assessing any tackle, because the likely point of contact is the lower legs of the opponent and this is a particularly vulnerable area. We must not be swayed by protests of “But I got the ball, ref” and we must be prepared to assess the proper penalty for misconduct where that is warranted.

FIFA has emphasized the great danger in slide tackles from behind because, if this tackle is not done perfectly, the potential for injury is so much greater. Accordingly, referees are advised that, when a player does commit a foul while tackling from behind, it should not be just a simple foul (e.g., tripping) but a foul and misconduct. The likelihood of danger is greater when the tackle is committed from behind and the probability of a foul having been committed is greater solely for this reason — due in large part to the “can’t prepare for the tackle” element when it comes from an unseen direction. In fact, if the referee decides that the foul while tackling from behind was done in such a way as to endanger the safety of the opponent, the proper action is to send the violator off the field with a red card.

The referee must judge each situation of a tackle from behind individually, weighing the guidelines published by FIFA and the U. S. Soccer Federation, the positions of the players, the way the tackler uses his/her foot or feet, the “temperature” of the game, the age/skill of the players, and the attitude of the players. What might be a caution (yellow card) in this game might be trifling in another game or a send-off (red card) in a third game. To make the proper judgment on such plays, the referee must establish early on a feel for the game being played on this day at this moment and must be alert to sudden changes in the “temperature” of this game. Much depends on the level of play, whether recreational or competitive, skilled or less developed, very young or adult. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.


NEW GOLD SHIRT?
Your question:
I have seen new gold referee shirts with checks available. Are they authorized for use?

USSF answer (September 20, 2004):
No, those shirts are not approved.


GOALKEEPER’S WATER BOTTLE IS AN OUTSIDE AGENT
Your question:
This situation occurred in a recent U-13  Boys competitive tournament game: The attacking team, one goal down, brought the ball into the opponent¹s penalty and put a shot on goal that appeared to be headed into the goal.  The ball struck the goalkeeper¹s water cooler (about 12 inches in diameter) which was setting just inside the left goalpost with its front edge just beyond the goal line.  The ball rebounded into the field of play having never completely crossed the goal line and the referee allowed play to continue. Several of the attacking players complained to the point where the referee stopped play, yelled at one of the attacking players and eventually dismissed an angry parent who had come out onto the field. He awarded an IFK for the defending team at the spot where he stopped play.

Was the referee correct to allow play to continue after the water cooler prevented a goal from being scored? What would be the correct restart if he was not correct? Should the goalkeeper be cautioned for setting his cooler where he did?

It seems this could all have been avoided if the AR had properly checked the nets and goal area prior to the start of the second half.

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
Don’t put all the blame on the assistant referee. The referee should have been closer to the scene than any AR and should have told the goalkeeper to move the water cooler well away from the goal immediately, long before the ball struck it.

As to the goal, the referee should have stopped play immediately when the ball rebounded from the cooler and restarted with a dropped ball at the place on the goal area line (the “six-yard line”) nearest to where the outside agent (the water cooler) interfered with the ball. No caution is necessary for anyone in this case.


IN A FOG?
Your question:
At a tournament with games scheduled on the hour all day long; the first game at 8:00AM was delayed by fog. The fog was very thick, but the ref, standing in the center circle could see both goals and all four corner flags; wanted to start the game. Standing at one goal you could not see the opposite goal and the assistant refs could not see each other. The coaches could not see the full pitch and did not want to start play until the fog cleared. Is there a USSF “fog” guide line to follow?

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
There are no fixed rules for determining when to call a game for poor visibility, whether it be fog or darkness. Once the game starts, the referee is the sole judge of whether or not the light is insufficient to see. Some referees have common sense; others do not. One common sense decision might be that if the assistant referees cannot see one another, there is not enough light for the players to see.

If all else fails, the referee should follow the Spirit of the Game and ensure that the players are afforded safety, equal treatment, and are able to enjoy the game. That would not happen if they could not see what they were doing.


GOALKEEPER RELEASE OF BALL AT PENALTY AREA LINE; CORNER KICK PLACEMENT
Your question:
It must be my imagination, but in professional play, keepers consistently run up to the end of the penalty area and kick the ball outside of the penalty area (sometimes using the mid circle at the top of the box), has the law changed to allow this?

Has the law ever determined where the ball can be placed at the corner? Half-in & half-out.

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
As long as the goalkeeper releases the ball before leaving the penalty area‹and does it within six seconds of having taken possession‹he or she may kick the ball wherever and whenever it seems best. Marginal offenses of this nature are either trifling or doubtful and hence, even though an actual infringement of the Law, should be ignored (or, at most, noted with a warning).

The lawmakers have established that at least a portion of the ball must be in contact with either the corner arc or that portion of the goal line or touch line that is within the corner area.


ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE LAWS OF THE GAME; PLACEMENT FOR OFFSIDE RESTART; REFEREES NOT FOLLOWING GUIDELINES
Your question:
The AR in the picture is always standing even with the offending attacking player, not the second last defender. Do they/did they used to do it this way, or is this an artist assuming something that did not get caught?

Part II
Seems if an attacker was WAY offside – like near the goal area and the 2nd last defender was near the halfway line, then restarting with an IFK where the attacker was would be unfair. In practice I generally see the kick taken from where both the AR usually is – the 2nd last defender.

I know what the ATR says – but it does not match what I see (no big deal).

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
If the attacker has advanced beyond the second-last defender, then the assistant referee is expected to move with that attacker. Although the AR may appear to be with the attacker in some situations, in reality, the AR has followed the ball when it was played past the second to last defender (as he should) and then stopped, squared, and signaled when it became evident that the attacker in the offside position had become involved in active play.

The restart for offside is where the offside player was when he or she became offside, not where the second-last defender was.

As for Part II, what can anyone say when confronted with the suggestion that, perhaps, just maybe, some referees are not performing their duties as prescribed in Advice to Referees or Guide to Procedures? All referees should resolve not to make the same mistake that apparently a number of our colleagues are apparently making. In any event, fairness is not the issue. An attacker has violated the Law and the Law prescribes the how, when, and where of the punishment. It doesn’t need to be “fair,” only just.


NEPOTISM
Your question:
Is there any statement by us soccer or an appropriate youth soccer organization that addresses nepotism and refereeing? We have two teen brothers, one who refs games in which a team is coached by his brother and mother. The mother (the youth soccer president) claims no one else is qualified, and refuses to recognize that this might be a conflict of interest. What do you think? Thanks for your time!

USSF answer (September 9, 2004):
In the 2004 edition of the Referee Administrative Handbook, p. 38, it suggests that assistant referees should not be related in any way to either team participating in the game unless it is impossible to get other affiliated officials assigned. Unfortunately, sometimes the referee game assignors do not have enough bodies to go around and ask parents or siblings to referee games in which their kin will be playing. The pertinent text says that referees “should not referee in any match in which they have a vested interest.” If a family member is playing and/or coaching, the referee has a vested interest. A complaint should be sent to the league and the state association.


SECOND TOUCH BY ‘KEEPER?
Your question:
I was watching a Mexican League match on T.V. and saw a play where the G.K. had the ball in the palm of his right hand (not extended) and was slowly walking the ball toward the edge of the penalty area. Everyone except for one attacker had cleared the penalty area and was in front of keeper. The lone attacker then came in from behind the keeper and knocked the ball from his hand using only his head. There did not seem to be any other contact other than the ball being “headed” out of the keepers hand. The attacker then collected the ball, pivoted and shot the ball into the net. The center referee then blew his whistle and disallowed the goal. Obviously, there was no clear explanation from the official as to what he had sanctioned. On the replay (and it was replayed quite a few times!) you could see AR2 raising his flag. There was no way to know if the center blew his whistle as a result of the flag or if he saw something on his own. Unfortunately the replay stopped short of showing if the AR “wiggled” his flag or simply raised it (I was thinking that the AR was signaling that the attacker was offside since he was not behind the ball).

To make matters worse, in the second half of the same match, the same thing occurred again! A different attacker “headed” the ball out of the keepers hand. As the attacker attempted to pass the keeper in order to collect the ball, the keeper basically grabbed the attacker and pulled him down! This time the referee swallowed his whistle and did not sanction either the “heading” of the ball or the fact that the keeper committed a major foul. The referee should have awarded a PK and the keeper should have been sent off!

I am not making this up! This was the opening match for Pumas of Mexico against the University of Guadalajara (Tecos). You have got to get a copy of this to review.

So, what is the correct ruling?

USSF answer (September 9, 2004):
The referee’s decision on the ball headed from the goalkeeper’s hand non-dangerously should be “no infringement.” This is the result of a new question and answer in the IFAB’s Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game for 2004.

As to the possible penalty kick, there isn’t much we can say about that, as we haven’t yet seen it.

NOTE: If anyone has a spare copy of the Pumas-Tecos game, I would like a copy of it, please.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION
AMENDED ANSWER DATED SEPTEMBER 8, 2004
Your question:
Question:I was just reading through the FIFA Q& A for 2004 and I have come upon 2 points which interest me and also confuse me to some degree. According the the document:
Law 12 21. If a goalkeeper is bouncing the ball, may an opponent play the ball as it touches the ground, provided he is not guilty of dangerous play?
Yes
22. After taking possession of the ball, a goalkeeper allows it to lie on his open hand. An opponent comes from behind him and heads the ball from his hand. Is this permitted?
This is permitted since the goalkeeper does not have full possession of the ball and the action of the opponent is not dangerous.

When I read ATR 12.16 and 12.17 I would have to interpret different things regarding such challenges for possession with the GK. I’m slightly surprised that FIFA would interpret the law in this way, but I can see it coming as part of their emphasis on supporting attacking soccer. My question is, what should we referees in the USA do regarding this tweak in interpretation. I’m assuming the USSF will be coming out with a revision to ATR or a position paper eventually) Until, something does come out, should we be enforcing the law in the way the ATR notes, or the way the Q&A notes? Thank you for any advice you can offer.

USSF AMENDED answer (September 8, 2004)(was August 4, 2004):
We are pleased to see that you are keeping up with more than just The Laws of The Game. FIFA’s Questions and Answers is an important document which has been used in the past to announce important changes in how to interpret various aspects of the Law. You have pointed to two of them (and there are others in the new version of the Q&A. Since FIFA officially published this on July 1, it becomes effective immediately world-wide and we are all obliged to officiate in accordance with our understanding of its guidelines. USSF is in the process of seeking clarification from FIFA regarding several of the new interpretations and, when we are clear about them, it is likely that there will be an announcement to assist referees in understanding what is new in the 2004 version. Where this means changes in Advice to Referees, we will include that information as well.

Meanwhile, our understanding of the provisions you have identified is that the ball is playable by an opponent at the moment the ball hits the ground when the goalkeeper has obviously released it‹but not if the goalkeeper is in the process of actively distributing the ball. The ball is playable by an opponent attempting to head it if the ball is being held in the open hand of the goalkeeper‹but not if the goalkeeper is in the process of distributing the ball. However, in either case, the opponent’s action must not be dangerous.


ALERTING THE GOALKEEPER NOT NECESSARY
Your question:
In an adult amateur game, I the center referee called a DFK at 20 yds. from goal for the attacking team. After showing the ‘no restart until the whistle sounds’, moving the defense 10 yds. from the ball and positioning myself; I blew the whistle, shot and goal occurred. I was then surrounded by the defense and approached on the field by the manager telling me I should have made sure the goalie was ready for play to restart. He claims that he was still positioning his wall. I said that was his problem, a wall is not a right, I told him to leave the field which he did. We restarted with a kickoff, the goal stands. It took about 2 to 4 seconds after moving the wall back that I was in position and blew the whistle. Does all look well to you?

USSF answer (September 1, 2004):
The goalkeeper should be ready at all times. There is no need to alert the goalkeeper at kick-offs, at penalty kicks, or at free kicks or corner kicks. In fact, the defending team has no “right” under the Laws of the Game to form a wall, as this is simply a way to waste time. The kicking team has the right to be able to take the kick quickly and without interference.


THERE HAVE BEEN NO/ZERO/RIEN/NIL/KEINE CHANGES IN OFFSIDE!
Your question:
Your recent response to the offside query about the Olympic Women’s USA-Japan game was done while I was composing the same question about those 3 USA players trapped offside while another USA player dashed forward and scored the winning goal. This situation also occurred in an Olympic Men’s game (I forget the teams) where a 15 foot pass was made to a player who was way offside. He nonchalantly let the ball slip in front of him while an onside player (you now use the term ‘onside’ I see) ran behind him, got the ball and scored the winning goal. In prior times these were automatic calls of offside. A sleepy referee could feel comfortable where a player was offside knowing that any pass forward would get a whistle toot.

So, without any re-wording of the laws we have a dramatically changed game. We now have a ‘tactical offside’ in the game. The offside traps that teams practice so much are questionable practices now. This new emphasis on application of the laws should have been preceded with drum rolls, fanfare and sky rockets because that much of an impact has been made.

Three well-schooled referees can administer a re-emphasized offside call, but it will be an extreme problem for all those many, many games controlled by a single referee. Spotting the offside positioned player was previously enough, and that’s not so easy a feat for a lone ref. Now the other attacking players will also have to be monitored with precision. I foresee great problems at all amateur levels. What we need now is advice to referees – and to coaches, and to fans by multiple publications.

We have three levels of rules for soccer. Those drawn up by FIFA, those devised by competitions, those applied by referees. I can see lone referees announcing before the game that they will not apply the New Offside Call (NOC) – they won’t NOC the game.

What advice is pertinent now?

USSF answer (September 1, 2004):
There has been NO major change in any portion of Law 11 nor in the Federation’s interpretation of the Law. We have used the term “onside” for many years and even issued a list of correctly-spelled terms a few years ago that removed the Anglicized hyphen from on-side, just as it is removed from off-side. The information in the Advice to Referees continues to apply.

The player in the offside situation in the men’s game in the Olympics clearly indicated his noninvolvement in play, as is required by the Law, by standing at attention. This is a legal tactic approved at the highest levels and perfectly permissible to play at any level. In fact, it was used to good effect by Brazil at the 1994 World Cup held here in the United States.

As to the three sorts of rules for soccer, they do exist: the Laws of the Game, the rules of the competition, and the way the referee chooses to call the game on any given day. And there is nothing that can be done about it, as long as state or national administrators are lax in ensuring that competitions follow the Laws of the Game, rather than going off on their own; as long as assessors and administrators are lax in failing to reprimand and punish referees for not following the Laws of the Game and the directives of the Federation; and as long as instructors fail to provide the proper path to enlightenment.


REVIEWING THE “4 D’s”
Your question:
A ball is played forward towards the goal from approximately mid field. The ball lands approximately equal distance between the Defending GK and the attacker. A 50-50 ball; both players charge towards the ball (the attacker is not offside), The defending GK leaves her PA to play the ball. Both players arrive at the ball nearly at the same time and the defending GK fouls the attacker in the process of playing the ball. Does this foul warrant a caution or an ejection?

USSF answer (August 31, 2004):
If the goalkeeper fouls the opposing player while “in the process of playing the ball,” the referee would call the foul. The referee would then apply the Four D’s (see below) in determining whether or not to send off the goalkeeper for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player¹s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick.

A position paper of late 2002 from the Manager of Referee Development and Education on obvious goalscoring opportunities (affectionately known as “The 4Ds”), which applies to Reason 5 under Law 12, and states:
QUOTE
In order for a player to be sent off for denying an “obvious goal-scoring opportunity,” four elements must be present:
– Number of Defenders ‹ not more than one defender between the foul and the goal, not counting the defender who committed the foul
– Distance to goal ‹ the closer the foul is to the goal, the more likely it is an obvious goalscoring opportunity
– Distance to ball ‹ the attacker must have been close enough to the ball at the time of the foul to have continued playing the ball
– Direction of play ‹ the attacker must have been moving toward the goal at the time the foul was committed
If any element is missing, there can be no send off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Further, the presence of each of these elements must be “obvious” in order for the send off to be appropriate under this provision of Law 12.
END OF QUOTE

And there is always the possibility that the foul itself might have warranted a send-off and red card, whether there was an obvious goalscoring opportunity or not.

In all cases, the final decision is based on the opinion of the referee.


NO PERMISSION TO SUBSTITUTE
Your question:
Team A lines up for a goal kick. Team A’s coach indicates to the youth linesmen that he wants to substitute a player. The youth linesmen raises his flag momentarily, but the youth ref does not see it. At this time, one player for Team A begins to leave the field. Team A proceeds to make the goal kick, and the linesmen puts his flag down and runs to get in position with the last defender. Another 3 -5 seconds go by and Team A’s extra player runs on the field, while the exiting player is still on the field by about 10 yards or so.

The goal kick is short and goes to Team B. Team B gets the ball dribbles to the goal and scores.

The coach for Team A is upset and wants the goal called back. However, the center Ref never gave him permission to substitute even though the linesmen tried for a moment to get his attention.

The center ref let the goal stand. He did not card the subs. He could have cared them for entering and leaving the field, but since it was a youth game and they just got scored on he let that go. Should he have disallowed the goal since the team was substituting in the middle of the goal kick being taken?

USSF answer (August 31, 2004):
The referee took the correct action by doing nothing. Score the goal and get on with the game, after admonishing the two players for their illegal actions. The referee could caution both players for leaving (the player going out) and entering (the new player coming in) the field without permission, but if no harm was done the offense seems trifling in this particular situation.

The coach of Team A has no authority and no reason to complain. Substitutes may not enter the field until the player they are replacing has left, and no player may leave or enter the field for any reason without the permission of the referee. If the coach protests too much, he or she is behaving irresponsibly and should be asked to leave the vicinity of the field. The referee should give a complete summary of the incident in the match report.


TRIFLING INFRINGEMENT
Your question:
In a recent tournament championship match a player from the opposing team was admittedly fouled (though not hard, he never left his feet). Before the referee blew the whistle, the player picked up the ball and began positioning it for his indirect kick. Since the ball was still in play until the whistle sounded, was this not a hand ball? The officials response when I questioned him was, “I was getting ready to blow the whistle.” What was the proper procedure in this situation?

USSF answer (August 30, 2004):
While the player’s act was a bit premature, there is no need for punishment in this case. Once the referee has decided that an infringement has taken place, play has been stopped, whether or not the referee has announced the decision by blowing the whistle. The referee should allow the free kick to proceed, but should also warn the player to wait for the whistle the next time, as not all referees are as quick witted or understanding as in this instance.


BEHAVIOR OF THE “WALL”
Your question:
Late in a tied game, a free kick is awarded to the Red team, three yards beyond the penalty area, within the penalty arc, obviously a very dangerous opportunity. After the usual delay, the Blue team is moved back the specified ten yards and all seems ready.  The referee blows the whistle to indicate the kick is to be taken.  As the Red player runs to the ball, in an obviously well-choreographed maneuver the players in the “wall” all spin around, now facing their goal, and put their arms straight up from their shoulders.  The kick is taken and the ball hits one of those extended arms, deflecting in such a way as to be easily recovered by the Blue GK.

I couldn’t justify a handling call, at least not to myself, although certainly many Red players were of that opinion.  I decided that the “spinning and stretching” constituted Unsporting Behaviour, and taking place before the kick, I could rule that the kick never officially happened. I Cautioned the Blue Captain (he was in the wall), reset the ceremonial free kick and saw it converted for the winning goal.

Was I correct in my decision?

USSF answer (August 30, 2004):
The referee must recognize that while members of the wall are allowed to jump about when opponents are taking a kick, choreographed actions that are unnatural and designed to both intimidate and to shock and distract their opponents constitute bringing the game into disrepute. As this occurred before the ball was in play, the correct call could be unsporting behavior on the part of the player who played the ball with the hand. Caution and show the yellow card; restart with the free kick.

However, it would be more reasonable‹and more just‹to decide that a handling offense occurred. After all, the hands/arms were not being carried in a “natural position” and the action was taken deliberately to increase unfairly the “size” of the wall. Even a defender at the end of the wall putting his hand on his hip with his elbow out is considered to have handled the ball if it strikes the elbow‹and this action is far less extreme than the example given. That would make the restart a penalty kick (based on your description of the location of the kick), rather than a retake of the original free kick.


YOUTH RULES ON HOT WEATHER?
Your question:
I am becoming more concerned about the safety of 12 year old soccer players for the following reasons. In recent tournaments over HOT & HUMID August weekends, these 12 year old children, playing in u13 tournament competition, played 2 games of 70 min each (starting at 8am) on Saturday and finished (by 5pm) on Sunday with two additional games of 70 min each plus two overtimes of 10 min each.

By my calculations these children played 300 min of soccer in less than 34 hours! Are the USSF youth tournament directors trying to teach these kids about soccer or trying to “burn them out” (literally) in the August heat? We would certainly never ask our adult professionals to compete in three full games in a day and a half, so why the children?

What are the USSF rules and regulations for children’s games over a weekend?

USSF answer (August 27, 2004):
You should send your concerns to your state association and then to US Youth Soccer, . We don’t set the tournament rules of play.


SECOND TOUCH BY ‘KEEPER?
Your question:
This situation happened in a game I was working last week and lead to some discussion after the game.

The attacking team takes a shot on goal. The defending keeper moves across his goal and has to stretch his arms out to his side to attempt to catch the ball. The ball deflects off of his hands and falls to the ground. The keeper takes a quick look around and seeing that there are no attackers near him decides to dribble the ball up to the top of the penalty box and then picks up the ball and punts it. The referee stopped play and awarded an indirect free kick for a second touch. The discussion after the game centered around whether the referee considered this a save and then an accidental rebound. The referee said that he considered it a save but at the time the keeper started to dribble the ball with his feet the keeper gave up his opportunity to pick up the rebound with his hands. The referee said that if the keeper had picked up the ball before dribbling it, that he would not have considered it a second touch but would have considered it a continuation of the save. The majority of the other referees who were at this game said that since the keeper had made a save and the rebound was accidental that the keeper can now dribble the ball with his feet and pick it up and this is not a second touch.

Can you shed some light on which is the correct call to make for these type of rebound situations.

USSF answer (August 27, 2004):
Where do people get the notion that dribbling the ball with the feet somehow changes the situation? The referee was wrong on both counts‹saving (deflecting) the ball and then dribbling it didn’t change the fact that, not having gained possession in the first place, the ‘keeper could handle the ball‹and picking up the ball and then dribbling it didn’t change the fact that, having controlled it with his hands, the ball could not directly be touched again by the ‘keeper.


“NEGATIVE” OR NON-STANDARD SIGNALS
Your question:
3-4 years ago I was instructed that negative signals were not in the procedures and should never be used.

A couple of years ago I was informed that there was a shift in the wind and negative signals were an effective tool and could be used when appropriate.

What is the USSF position on negative signals?

USSF answer (August 27, 2004):
There was a time (longer ago than 3-4 years, however) when negative signals or, more generally, any signals not specifically approved by FIFA or USSF and not described in the Guide to Procedures were discouraged. With the publication of the 1998 Guide to Procedures, that emphasis began to change. The 1998 Guide stated:
Other signals or methods of communication intended to supplement those described here are permitted only if they do not conflict with established procedures and only if they do not intrude on the game, are not distracting, are limited in number and purpose, and are carefully described by the referee prior to the commencement of a match.

This included so-called “negative signals” (for example, the assistant referee indicating “no offside”). If the officiating team discussed such a signal ahead of time and it met the criteria, using it is okay so long as it is kept within reasonable limits. Remember, the purpose of any signal is to communicate so it must do that much at least.

USSF’s approach continues to follow this guideline. Even the occasional use of some gesture by the referee to indicate a handling offense or tripping is acceptable if, in the opinion of the referee, it is NEEDED FOR THIS PARTICULAR GAME to communicate essential information in a critical situation. “Negative” or non-standard signals should not become standard practice for every game.


OUT-OF-SHAPE REFEREES
Your question:
In the past few years of my refereeing, I’ve seen too much of youth referees that are out of shape (way overweight, unfit…), especially in a recent tournament one of those refs who is also an assignor for high school games kept using foul language and making fun of the younger referees. I kept my mouth shut since any conversation would’ve ended my game assignment. The local referee coordinator of the tournament had nothing to say either, since his game plans would’ve been affected. Is there a better way to enlighten this referee of his behavior?

USSF answer (August 24, 2004):
You should submit a full report to the State Referee Administrator or State Youth Referee Administrator in your state. Before writing, you should consider first making a phone call to let the SRA know what is going on. The SRA might then consider sending someone to take a look at the referee(s). Once you have reported it you have done your duty.


DECEPTION AND THE “RIGHT” TO SET UP A WALL
Your question:
Two interesting sequence of events in recent youth games I was observing instead of refereeing that I would like your comments on:

1. A direct kick was awarded just outside the penalty area near the penalty arc. The attacking team quickly positioned 3 players 10 yards from the ball on the most direct line for the ball to travel to the near post and then hunched down. The defensive team was slow to set up their wall and complained to the referee that the attacking team was interfering with them. The referee to his credit ignored them and backed up to watch the kick. The defending team set up their ball next to the three attacking players, which left the both the near and far post as attack points. The ball was struck toward the near post with sufficient bend to thwart the goalie’s save attempt. Needless to the say the coach complained after the game to the referee that A) the attacking team interfered with his team’s ability to set up the wall and B) the attacking players kneeling was unsporting behavior. Was the fact that the defending team could have set up the wall directly behind the kneeling players something the referee should point out to the coach, which would have nullified the both the attackers being where the defenders wanted to be and the kneeling? Or does the referee simply state the defending team has no more right to any particular spot on the field while waiting for the restart than the attacking team? How about the kneeling?

2. An indirect kick was awarded just inside the penalty area where the penalty arc met the top of the penalty area (the spot is just for reference, this situation could apply anywhere). One boy from the attacking team placed the ball where the referee indicated, then was joined by two teammates who stood between the defending players and the ball, conferring with the third attacker, particularly shielding the defending team’s view of the ball. While the defense is setting up the wall under the goalie’s direction, one boy casually begins to tap his toe into the ground just next to the ball, appearing to listen intently to the strategy for the free kick. He taps the ball lightly, moving it backwards slightly from its resting position. Then two boys turn and wall toward the wall as if moving to a pre-planned position. The remaining attacker then exploded forward, dribbling the ball to a better shooting position and scoring, surprising the defenders. The defenders then expect the referee to award them an indirect kick, but he signals for kick off, indicating good goal. Is this type of concealment UB? Obviously, the referee was watching the entire time and saw that technically the ball was played by two separate players before entering the goal. How much explanation should the ref give to the confused defending team in order to show he was paying attention? Does he explain how the one boy slightly touched the ball, or just state that the ball was correctly played for an indirect kick?

USSF answer (August 24, 2004):
1. The defending team has no “right” to set up a wall anywhere on the field. Their only “right” at free kicks is to give the kicking team a minimum of ten yards from the place where the ball will go into play. And the coach has no “right” to complain about anything; the coach’s only right is to behave responsibly. There is no requirement that players on either team be standing at a free kick. Thus, kneeling is permitted. And yes, the defending team could have placed players for its wall behind the kneeling players on the kicking team.

2. The kicking team is permitted to practice deception of this sort at any free kick or corner kick, where the only requirement is that the ball be kicked and moves. Kicked in this case extends to toe tapping the ball even the slightest amount, but not to stepping on the top of the ball. (This ploy would not be permitted at a penalty kick or kick-off, in which the ball must also move forward.) The play you describe is perfectly legal, provided that the player who dribbles the ball away and shoots on goal is not the same player who tapped the ball to move it from its original location.

In both cases, the defending team did not pay attention to what was happening. The coaches should take plenty of notes and practice defense against such things during the week. There is no requirement in the Laws of the Game that the referee coddle players for their own ignorance.


KEEPING THE FLAG UP
Your question:
I am a grade 8 youth referee. Recently I was a spectator at an U-13 boys Class I tournament game where a goal was scored by the Blue team while the AR was holding up his flag to indicate a touch line throw in for the Red team. Apparently the AR raised the flag to indicate that the ball had passed over the touch line off of blue, but neither the players nor the center noticed the flag and play continued for more than a minute with a series of 15 or more touches on the ball by both teams, before the Blue team put the ball in the net. At that point the referee observed the AR signaling that the ball had earlier been out of play. The referee consulted with the AR, disallowed the goal and gave the throw in to the Red team.

Did the referee make the right call in disallowing the goal after the passage of so much time and play?

Does the AR have a responsibility/obligation to hold the flag until the referee acknowledges the signal, or should he/she drop the flag after some reasonable passage of time in the event that play has continued and the referee has not seen or acknowledged the flag?

Can a referee wave off an AR’s out of bounds signal if none of the players perceived that the ball had gone out of bounds and play continued? Law 9 does not appear to leave a lot of room for discretion about when play has stopped, but I am aware of many referees who encourage ARs that work their games to allow play to continue unless the ball is clearly out of bounds; the idea being that it is better to allow the game to continue than to stop play for close out of bounds calls. The fact that none of the players were aware that the ball was out of bounds and both teams continued to play without hesitation suggests that this particular call by the AR was of the close variety.

USSF answer (August 24, 2004):
The 2004 edition of the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees” tells us that if the referee does not see it, the assistant referee maintains the signal in accordance with the pregame conference. This is a matter that must be discussed and agreed upon among the officials before the game.


OFFSIDE SITUATION AT THE OLYMPICS
Your question:
The US Women’s match against Japan had what seemed to me to be a great example for offside discussion. The camera angle showed Hamm’s kick and was looking across from the offside line. Just before the ball was kicked, Japan ran up to trap three of four US players offside. However the ball went to and was played by Boxx, who controlled it and then passed to Wambaugh, who was behind the ball, for the score.

It seemed obvious on stop frame replay who was in and not in an offside position. The only question in my mind is deciding whether or not any of the three who were in an offside position became involved in the play. Every recert class I’ve taken some always have stories about some situation. While clearly “In the opinion of the referee” applies, it all comes down to what the referee saw. (At a tournament game last season, a fairly clear tripping call wasn’t made-the referee had turned momentarily to deal with some inappropriate comments players were making toward one another and turned back to see the girl on the ground. He didn’t see it, he can’t call it.)  However, with a clear viewing angle on the tape that was probably seen my many of our referees, it seems to be a good teaching tool.

Did you see it? If so, could you discuss why they were not involved in the play and why you would have made the same call, or why in your opinion they were involved in the play and the flag should have been raised.

USSF answer (August 23, 2004):
Wambach and two other USA players were in offside POSITIONS at the moment the ball was played in from near the touch line, but none of them was actively involved in the play. In other words, they had no effect on play and did not interfere with any opponents. Boxx ran in and played the ball laterally to Wambach, who was behind the ball. No offside. Score the goal.


ANNUAL ASSESSMENTS FOR GRADE 7 REFEREES
Your question:
I have recently informed that a Grade 7 now requires an annual maintenance assessment. However, I cannot find the requirement in the Referee Administrative Handbook. If this is a requirement, please provide to me the citation in the Handbook and when the requirement was adopted.

USSF answer (August 23, 2004):
We assume that this is a requirement adopted by your state referee committee, as there is no national requirement that Grade 7 referees be assessed annually. Please check with your State Director of Referee Assessment to be certain.

The new Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) notes that the state may require one developmental assessment “if adopted by the state.” See the bottom of page 19 of the new RAH under annual renewal requirements.


PENALTY KICKS IN EXTENDED TIME
Your question:
GU10 tournament final. The competition rules state “no slide tackling”. The score is Blue 4 and Red 2. Blue is attacking inside the Red penalty area when a Red defender slide tackles for the ball and makes contact with the attacker before making contact with the ball. There is 15 seconds before the end of the second half. I blow my whistle and conduct a penalty kick after time has run out. 5-2. 1) In the USSF advise to referees it states that the referee is to advise the coaches that time has expired. I just pointed to my watch and with palms down made like the safe signal in baseball. Do you blow the whistle 3 times and when? 2) This Penalty kick is treated more like a kick from the mark. Where do you place your AR’s? The Advise to Referees says to keep the players on the field, but keep in mind they are already celebrating the victory while I am conducting a penalty kick. 3) This was a good call but given the circumstances what would you do?

USSF answer (August 12, 2004):
(1) There is no need to advise the coaches of anything in most games, but it is probably a wise idea when dealing with younger players. The Advice to Referees states simply that the referee should announce that time has expired and indicate clearly that the penalty kick is now being taken “in extended time.” The Federation and the Laws of the Game leave the signal used to announce that the half or game is over to the individual referee. Lead Assistant Referee – Waits for the referee to begin supervising the restart and then moves quickly to the intersection of the goal line and the penalty area line to prepare for the duties assigned by the referee in the pre-game conference
– If a goal is scored, keeps players under observation and follows the normal goal procedure
– If play continues, quickly resumes the position to judge offside (cutting the corner of the field if necessary) and keeps play in view

Trail Assistant Referee
– Moves up the touch line to near the midfield line and monitors player activities out of the view of the referee
– If a goal is not scored, quickly takes a position appropriate for the next phase of play


RESTART ON ‘KEEPER INJURY
Your question:
In a recent local tournament there arose a discussion in the referee tent on the proper restart after an injury with the goalkeeper in possession. Several very experienced referees had opposing view points. We were all pretty much in agreement that it would be best handled by allowing the keeper to send the ball out of touch and allowing the opponents to throw it back into the keeper but in youth matches this is not always feasible. What do the Laws allow?

USSF answer (August 11, 2004):
The only restart provided for by the Laws of the Game is a dropped ball. The referee cannot instruct or force any player to play the ball to anyone or any place.


TOO MANY PLAYERS
Your question:
After a substitution, the referee allowed play to restart with one team having 12 players on the field.  The AR on the fans side of the field noticed but could not get the attention of the Ref.  The team with 12 players attacks quickly and scores to go up 1-0. Prior to the kick-off, the Ref sees the AR, conferences, counts the players and disallows the goal.  Restart is a goal kick.  The team that has a goal disallowed ends up losing 1-0.

At halftime, the other AR states that the goal should have stood and only a caution issued to a player on the team with 12. The Ref admits this AR was probably correct.

To allow a goal to stand does not seem fair.  In addition, to caution a player when the ref allowed the play to restart does not seem the same as entering the field without permission.

What is the correct call?

USSF answer (August 5, 2004):
The answer in all such cases has been established in the newly-revised Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game for 2004. The restart for all situations in which an outside agent (and that is what the extra player is) takes part is a dropped ball.

The extra player must be removed and cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without the permission of the referee. The referee will apply the advantage or stop play. If play is stopped to administer a caution, it will be restarted with a dropped ball at the place where the ball was located when play was stopped (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8). If the extra player is not discovered until after play has been stopped, the ball is dropped at the place where the player likely entered the field.

In the case of a goal being scored, If the referee realizes the mistake before the match is restarted, the goal is not awarded. The referee should instruct the player to leave the field of play. Play will be restarted with a dropped ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball passed into the goal. If the referee learns of the extra player only later, the extra player is removed but the goal must stand. In all events, the referee must include full details in the match report.


SCORING A GOAL DIRECTLY FROM A KICK-OFF
Your question:
At the fifa.com website there are a list of questions and answers (as you know). Check out the answer to question 3 in law Vlll.
http://www.fifa.com/fifa/handbook/Q&A/q&a.8.frame.html

What am I missing?

USSF answer (August 9, 2004):
We are not sure why you believe that something is missing in Question 3 under Law 8 in FIFA’s new Q&A. The question simply states a fact‹that a goal can validly be scored directly from a kick-off‹and is likely included because this is a change in the Law from several years back. Before, the Law stated that a goal could NOT be scored directly from a kick-off; now it can. In fact, Question 3 in the original Q&A (published in 1990 and often called just “the green book”) stated that, if the ball went into the opponent’s goal directly from a kick-off, the restart was a goal kick! The currently correct answer (a goal!) was enshrined in the 2000 version of the Q&A.


REMOVING THE JERSEY
Your question:
In this article
http://www.ussoccer.com/referees/fullstory.sps?iNewsid=77181&itype=4042&icategoryid=83
it states that “The restriction applies to ANY player celebrating a goal, not just the player who scored the goal.” (referring to the removal of a jersey during the celebration of a goal). Does the restriction also apply to members of the opposing team (the team scored against) who may remove their jerseys?

USSF answer (August 9, 2004):
Until further instructions are received, the caution would apply to any player who removed his or her jersey after a goal was scored.


NO CARDS FOLLOWING THE END OF THE GAME
Your question:
I was wondering if a player can get red carded after the game was over and if it is a foul to yell out, “mine”, when going for the ball?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
Up until the end of June, a player could be shown the red card after the conclusion of the game, provided that the players were in the act of leaving the field. Now the International F. A. Board and FIFA have made it clear that no one may be shown the card after the final whistle. However, the referee is still expected to provide full details on the incident in the match report.

No, it has never been a “foul” to call out “mine” when going for the ball, but it is misconduct and subject to a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior if, in the opinion of the referee, the player’s action was intended to deceive an opponent unfairly. Just calling out “mine” is not misconduct.


SLEEVELESS JERSEYS [LAW 4]
I had read in Referee Magazine that sleeveless jerseys were to be allowed. I am now hearing from our local league referee that they have been told that sleeveless jerseys were not legal. Law IV does state that jerseys must have sleeves. Can you clarify this?

USSF answer (August 9, 2004):
The official answer may be found in USSF’s memorandum on this subject November 1, 2002:
USSF has been informed by FIFA that it has decided to set aside temporarily the new provision regarding jersey sleeves found in International Board Decision 1 of Law 4. Accordingly, effective immediately and until further notice, Referees will have no responsibility for determining the legality of jersey sleeves or for enforcing the provision in Law 4 related to jersey sleeves.

Referees are directed not to include in their game reports any information regarding the presence, absence, or altered status of jersey sleeves.

The only concern a referee has with respect to the condition of a player¹s jersey is safety.

Referees are, however, expected to enforce all relevant provisions in the Rules of Competition governing a match,

This approach was confirmed again in the 2003 Memorandum which made the point that no player or team should be prevented from playing due to any issue involving jersey sleeves.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
The following happened recently in a tournament playoff match. Team A and Team B were tied at the end of overtime and so the match went to a shootout. It went all the way to the 8th kickers for each team. Team A’s 8th kicker scored, Team B’s kicker missed. It was then discovered that Team A’s 8th kicker was not one of the 11 players for Team A on the field at the end of overtime. The referee allowed the kick by the 8th kicker to stand, thus allowing Team A to win and advance in the playoffs, but also gave Team A’s 8th kicker a yellow card.

Of course, the referee should have been keeping better track of the players, but since he wasn’t, was his way of handling it correct? Is there any way that the kick by Team A’s 8th kicker could be disallowed? Would it matter if the ineligibility of the player was discovered immediately after his successful kick rather than not until after Team B’s 8th kicker missed?

USSF answer (August 7, 2004):
The rules governing kicks from the penalty mark to decide a tied match specifically state that, except as modified for this procedure, all other applicable Laws of the Game apply. So, the question becomes, what would the referee do if something comparable had happened during play in the match? If a goal were scored and the problem with the team that scored the goal (e.g., extra player) were not discovered until after play had restarted, the goal would stand. If it were discovered before play restarted, the goal would not stand.

Here, the equivalent of play restarting is the taking of the next kick from the penalty mark. Since the next kick occurred and then the problem was discovered, the result of the kick would stand. If the player’s ineligibility had been discovered before Team B took its kick, the result would not stand and the kick by Team A would have to be retaken by an eligible player.


GUEST PLAYERS [LAW 3]
Your question:
Can a guest player in a youth league play down or must she be of the same age or younger?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
We cannot answer the question because all such matters are regulated by the local rules of competition. You would need to check with the league, club, or tournament which is authorizing the match.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
I have a FIFA and high school patch. At a recent FIFA meeting for referees, we were told that a push is being made at the national level to loosen up on offside. I.E. a torso ahead is OK at the national level and soon will be OK for us locally, with the prediction that in a few years daylight between the offensive player (ahead) and defensive player (behind) will be the rule. However, for now, we were told not to change how we apply the law.

At at more recent high school meeting, we were told the same thing by a state referee official who administers both patches (21 years FIFA, 7 years high school). He stopped short of telling us to use the looser application of the law, but urged us to only call offside when we are 100 percent sure.

I sense an unwillingness to implement the full-torso rule. Has there been any definitive interpretation that changes current practice which, I believe, is based on the vertical plain of the bodies in question?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
A new entry in the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (officially released by FIFA on July 1, 2004) makes the point that, in the case of two attackers making a play for the ball, one coming from an onside position and the other coming from an offside position, the assistant referee and referee must hold the offside decision until it is clear that the offside position attacker will prevail. Except for this, however, there has been no change in definition, interpretation, or guidance on offside (Law 11). Referees should continue to apply Law 11 as it has been taught in USSF clinics until and unless they are officially directed otherwise.


“GOLDEN GOAL” [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
I know that a decision was made about “golden goal” situations but have not seen it in writing yet. Officially no more golden goal right?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
FIFA has taken complete control over specifying the proper ways by which a drawn match can be resolved. In the annual Circular regarding Law changes (as reported by USSF in its Memorandum 2004 ‹on the USSF website), the International FA Board announced several changes in the Laws of the Game and in the section of the Laws pertaining to methods for breaking ties. The net result of these changes is that there are now only three permissible options (individually or in combination) for a tied affiliated match to be resolved‹home/away goals, extra time, and kicks from the penalty mark

USSF’s Advice to Referees, however, notes that some local competition authorities may not have gotten the necessary information in time to modify any established procedures so, if you have accepted a game assignment in which the “golden goal” is used, you should go along with it.


PLAYERS AND HYDRATION [ADMIN]
Your question:
What is the current USSF policy on players keeping drinking water bottles near the touchline during a match? Are players allowed to leave the field during stoppage of play to drink water without first asking permission from the referee?

USSF answer (August 7, 2004):
Your questions can be answered by reference to the guidance in the following memorandum (distributed by USSF on April 26, 2002, and available on the USSF website):

The FIFA Medical Committee recently emphasized the importance of proper hydration during a match and the need for water (or other appropriate liquids) to be available to the players. Referees are advised to use the following common sense guidelines in determining the correct ways in which this concern can be implemented. Although the term “water” is used below, the guidelines apply to all liquids that may be provided for player hydration in the immediate area of the field.

Players may drink water during play or at a stoppage but only by going to a touch line or goal line.

While drinking water, players may not leave the field nor may they carry water containers onto the field. The players should stand at the touch line or goal line while drinking water.

Water containers may not be held in readiness where they will interfere with the movement of the assistant referees. After water containers are used, they must be removed so as not to interfere with the movement of the assistant referees.

Under no circumstances may water containers of any sort (regardless of material, size, or construction) be thrown onto the field or to players even during stoppages of play.


WEARING THE BADGE FOR WHAT YEAR? [ADMIN]
Your question:
Your question:
When may a referee who has recertified and received his/her 2005 badge begin wearing it?

For example, a referee upgrades from 7 to 6, meeting all of the requirements for upgrade on September 1, 2004. Should the referee continue to wear his Referee 2004 badge or begin wearing his State Referee 2005 badge or should the referee attempt to get a State Referee 2004 badge for the remainder of the year?

USSF answer (August 6, 2004):
Under normal circumstances, referees are expected to wear the dated USSF badge appropriate for the year (i.e., 2004 in 2004 and 2005 in 2005). However, there may be circumstances in which a badge can be worn prior to the start of the year‹Under normal circumstances, referees are expected to wear the dated USSF badge appropriate for the year (i.e., 2004 in 2004 and 2005 in 2005). However, there may be circumstances in which a badge can be worn prior to the start of the year‹remember, the USSF registration year begins September 1. Accordingly, although a referee might complete all recertification requirements for being a referee in 2005 by, say, October of 2004, he or she would continue to wear their 2004 badge until the end of the year. Suppose this person just became a referee, however, by attending an entry level clinic in October‹they would receive a 2005 badge (because no more 2004 badges can be earned that late in the year) but that doesn’t mean they have to wait until January 1, 2005, before they can officiate.. Accordingly, they could wear a 2005 badge from the time they met all certification requirements through the remainder of 2004, and then through 2005. Remember, the USSF registration year begins September 1. Accordingly, although a referee might complete all recertification requirements for being a referee in 2005 by, say, October of 2004, he or she would continue to wear their 2004 badge until the end of the year. Suppose this person just became a referee, however, by attending an entry level clinic in October‹they would receive a 2005 badge (because no more 2004 badges can be earned that late in the year) but that doesn’t mean they have to wait until January 1, 2005, before they can officiate.. Accordingly, they could wear a 2005 badge from the time they met all certification requirements through the remainder of 2004, and then through 2005.

The principle remains the same. If the referee qualifies for a 2005 badge and receives the badge, regardless of the grade, then the badge may be worn beginning immediately, even if it is still 2004. Wear the State Referee 2005 badge proudly.


SCREENING THE BALL [LAW 12]
Your question:
A couple of referee friends seem to be getting themselves all agitated and confused by a section of the Additional Instructions covering “Screening the Ball” (page 73 of 84 in LOTG. Although I know it was in the 2003-04 book, I can’t remember seeing it before.

The writers introduce the term “screening” to describe what I would normally refer to a shielding (in either coach-or referee-speak). I found it interesting that we now appear to have the 11th reason to award a Direct Free Kick‹the first ten being detailed in Law 12. This section seems to imply that the “illegal use of the hand, arm, legs or body”; is similar to contact with the opponent‹or the recommended restart would not have to be a direct free kick. I assume that the action must be on the field, while the ball is in play, and directed against an opponent‹the standard requirements for a direct free kick.

I view impeding as “not normally involving contact.” When the offense begins to involve contact, it transitions from “impeding” to “holding.” Is that what they’re trying to say?

I think I had a better understanding of this BEFORE the introduction of this section. Do you know why this “clarification” (?) was introduced. Your opinion please. THANKS!

USSF answer (August 5, 2004):
Although we would not care to speculate as to FIFA’s intentions in the absence of some specific statement from that organization explaining the why and wherefore of their actions, you likely have penetrated the mystery. The purpose of this section of Additional Instructions appears to be to say that screening (shielding) is legal so long as certain conditions are met, one of which is that the screener cannot accomplish the screening by extending his arms (and presumably, by inference, his leg as well) to prevent the screenee from going around. If the screener does so, a direct free kick foul has been committed (or a PK if inside the screener’s penalty area) for holding.

The exact same provision can be found in the 2003-2004 and 2002-2003 Laws of the Game. The reason you can’t find it in earlier versions of the Laws is that FIFA stopped publishing the Additional Instructions section after the 1997 version of the Laws and only reinstituted it in 2002-2003. By the way, the same principle (using somewhat different language) can also be found in the 1997 version.


QUIZZES ON THE LAWS
Your question:
I have been searching for quizzes on the Laws of the Game, but cannot find any at all. Do you know if there is a place where I could get some referee quiz information, so that I can test my knowledge? Also, is there any technical quizzes at the Advance Level that are available too? Please send me the links because I would like to test my knowledge on a more flexible level.

USSF answer (August 5, 2004): Most instructors, referee associations, and related groups make up their own quizzes, depending on the training needs of the moment. You might also want to check out REFEREE magazine. Each month’s issue has soccer case plays plus a Laws quiz of 5-6 questions (answers are also provided based on the three major sets of rules‹FIFA, high school, and college). The magazine also has a longer quiz available on its website (http://www.referee.com)‹you have to supply some information so they can try to convince you to subscribe‹but the site allows you to download a PDF of a soccer quiz, plus you can research back issues for the shorter quizzes.

Finally, you can go to the USSF website, Referee page, and download Advice to Referees because, at the back of this publication, there is a sort of quiz‹it’s called a syllabus and it features questions which are answered by reading the material in Advice.

Aside from this, however, you might try creating your own quizzes. Sometimes that is an excellent way to teach yourself something.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION [LAW 12]
Your question:
I was just reading through the FIFA Q& A for 2004 and I have come upon 2 points which interest me and also confuse me to some degree.

According the the document: Law 12 21. If a goalkeeper is bouncing the ball, may an opponent play the ball as it touches the ground, provided he is not guilty of dangerous play?
Yes

22. After taking possession of the ball, a goalkeeper allows it to lie on his open hand. An opponent comes from behind him and heads the ball from his hand. Is this permitted?
This is permitted since the goalkeeper does not have full possession of the ball and the action of the opponent is not dangerous.

When I read ATR 12.16 and 12.17 I would have to interpret different things regarding such challenges for possession with the GK. I’m slightly surprised that FIFA would interpret the law in this way, but I can see it coming as part of their emphasis on supporting attacking soccer. My question is, what should we referee’s in the USA do regarding this tweak in interpretation. I’m assuming the USSF will be coming out with a revision to ATR or a position paper eventually) Until, something does come out, should we be enforcing the law in the way the ATR notes, or the way the Q&A notes? Thank you for any advice you can offer.

USSF answer (August 4, 2004):
We are pleased to see that you are keeping up with more than just The Laws of The Game. FIFA’s Questions and Answers is an important document which has been used in the past to announce important changes in how to interpret various aspects of the Law. You have pointed to two of them (and there are others in the new version of the Q&A. Since FIFA officially published this on July 1, it becomes effective immediately world-wide and we are all obliged to officiate in accordance with our understanding of its guidelines. USSF is in the process of seeking clarification from FIFA regarding several of the new interpretations and, when we are clear about them, it is likely that there will be an announcement to assist referees in understanding what is new in the 2004 version. Where this means changes in Advice to Referees, we will include that information as well.

Meanwhile, our understanding of the provisions you have identified is that the ball is playable by an opponent at the moment the ball hits the ground (but not on the way down or while bouncing back up to the goalkeeper‹in other words, while the goalkeeper is in the process of actively distributing the ball) and it is playable by an opponent attempting to head it if the ball is being held in the open, outstretched hand of the goalkeeper. However, in either case, the opponent’s action must not be dangerous, and this becomes a critical factor for the referee to determine based on the age and skill level of the players.


BALL MEASUREMENTS [LAW 2]
Your question:
What is the correct measurement for a size 4 soccer ball?

USSF answer (August 3, 2004):
A size 4 ball is 25-26 inches in circumference (size 3 is 23-24 inches, size 5 is 27-28 inches.


RESTARTS FOR CAUTIONS AND SEND-OFFS [LAW 12]
Your question:
My son insists that the only remedy for any and all of the7 Cautionable and 7 Sending-off offenses is a Direct Kick (awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the infraction) regardless of where the ball is.

Is he correct?

USSF answer (August 2, 2004):
No. Cautions and send-offs are misconduct and, unless the misconduct also involves a foul, there are only two possible restarts if play is stopped solely for misconduct‹an indirect free kick at the site of the misconduct if the misconduct was committed on the field of play by a player, or a dropped ball where the ball was if the misconduct was committed by a substitute anywhere or by a player off the field. Of course, if the misconduct is committed during a stoppage of play, there is no separate restart; it would be whatever restart is appropriate for what stopped play originally. If the misconduct involves a foul (for example, serious foul play), then the foul determines the restart.


WRITING UP A CAUTION [LAW 12]
Your question:
I’m seeking technical guidance on reporting a caution. I get inconsistent answers from referees and we all know the severity of the described situation has inconsistent treatment among different cultural climates. Here’s the situation. . . . player makes a “high foot” tackle that referee interprets asnot severe enough for a send-off, (i.e. not serious foul play), but is never-the-less dangerous and careless enough to warrant a caution. Therefore, referee calls dangerous play, (IFK restart), and issues caution to player. Under the 7+7 caution/send-off guidelines, what is the correct REASON for the caution, since the referee did not a DFK foul?

Here’s a sampling of the responses I’ve gotten to this question using the “7+7 guidelines”
– Make something up; not very good, but probably the most honest answer. (i.e. don’t write “high foot” as the reason in your report.)
– Do your best to make it a direct free kick foul (e.g. kicking, jumping or tripping)
– IF in a pattern of foul play, sanction a persistent infringement instead of unsporting behavior.

Playing in a manner outside of spirit of laws or in manner bringing disrepute to game (can’t remember the exact wording, but it’s the fourth or fifth reason under unsporting behavior in the 7+7 caution/send-off guidelines.)

USSF answer (August 2, 2004):
When in doubt, report the caution as having been given for unsporting behavior. In this case, unsporting behavior would clearly be the correct choice. Do not, I repeat, do not engage in ANY of the first three options under your P.S. Never make anything up, never give “high kick” as the reason for anything, never “do your best to make it a direct free kick foul” and choose persistent infringement only if in fact the foul was part of a pattern of offenses.

Only the last option under your PS offers any reasonable basis for the caution but, fortunately, game reports do not require you to provide anything more than the official, by the Law, black-and-white reason for a caution (i.e., one of the seven cautionable offenses). By the way, the “bringing the game into disrepute” has been clarified as “demonstrating a lack of respect for the game” but you also could, should you decide to offer a more detailed reason under USB, state that it was a tactical foul intended to break up attacking play.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
Teammates A1 and A2, Teammates B1 and B2. A1 plays the ball to A2, who is onside at the time the ball is kicked and making a diagonal-forward run. As the ball is traveling in the air, it deflects off of defender B1, at which moment A2 is now beyond the second-to-last defender, B2. The assistant referee flagged the offside, which was whistled by the referee. The call was offside, and the commentator explained that it was because of the deflection and the position of A2 at the time of the deflection. However, B1 is the opponent to A2. I would have NOT called the offside.

USSF answer (August 1, 2004):
The call was improper using the facts as supplied. The offside decision is made at the time the ball is last played by an attacker and is based on the positions and actions of all players at that time. If A2 was in an onside position at the time the ball was struck to him by his teammate, then he was onside no matter where anyone moved or the ball moved subsequently, so long as it remained the same play. The deflection by a defender is not only not relevant but, if it had been an actual play of the ball rather than a deflection, A2 would still have not been guilty of offside because then A2 would have received the ball from a defender rather than from his teammate.

One must always beware commentators pontificating on offside.

And a follow-on question:
Oh, I am definitely aware of “omniscient commentators.” You know, I have often thought of becoming one, just so I can be a better educator of football to the “lay audience.” It is a shame the call was made and acknowledged because it probably would have been a goal. Anyway, an afterthought . . . What if the ball incidentally deflected off a TEAMMATE of A2, instead of a defender?

And the follow-on answer: If the ball, in the setup described, had deflected from a teammate, then A2 would have been in an offside position because Law 11 makes no distinction in the case of attackers between touch and play. A2 would be called for offside if he then became involved in active play.


GOALKEEPER “HANDLING” [LAW 12]
Your question:
Question: If a goalkeeper comes to the edge of the penalty area with his feet within the box and reaches outside the box to handle or collect a ball, what is the call? When can the GK handle the ball in terms of the penalty area?:
(1) when his feet are within the penalty area
(2) when the ball is within the penalty area (how is this defined?)
(3) both his feet and the ball are within the penalty area
This does not seem to be defined in the laws of the game.

USSF answer (August 1, 2004):
Handling occurs where handling occurs. In other words, the handling offense doesn’t involve the keeper’s feet so we really don’t care where the keeper’s feet are. The only issue in whether handling occurs is where the keeper’s hands make contact with the ball‹everything else is irrelevant. Of course, the referee must also remember that “constant whistling for doubtful or trifling breaches of the Law” is to be avoided, which means that you need to be sure where the hands and ball make contact. Also remember that the lines surrounding the penalty area are part of the penalty area.

These elements have always been defined clearly in the Laws of the Game.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
Here are two brain teasers, mostly with respect to the referee and assistant referee mechanics.
Situation 1: Player A, in an offside position, runs the ball that has been played forward; runs over the ball without making contact with the ball; Player B, coming from an onside position, immediately kicks the ball into the goal. Is Player A offside? Is the goal disallowed? What are the correct referee and assistant referee mechanics?

Situation 2: Player A, in an offside position, attempts a bicycle kick on a ball that is lofted forward but completely misses the ball. Player B, coming from an onside position immediately kicks the ball into the goal. Is Player A offside? Is the goal disallowed? What are the correct referee and assistant referee mechanics?

USSF answer (August 1, 2004):
If Situation A had arisen in a USSF match (we cannot comment on situations governed by high school rules), it would be affected by the following guidance from FIFA (included under Law 11 in its just published Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game):
A player in offside position but not interfering with any opponent runs towards the ball played by a team-mate. Must the referee wait until he touches the ball to penalise him?
No, the referee may penalise him if there is not other team-mate (in an onside position) who can play the ball.
If there are other team-mates (in an onside position) who can get the ball, the referee must wait and see if the player in offside position finally interferes with play by touching the ball

As for Situation B, the answer seems obvious. The fact that Player A missed connecting with the ball is irrelevant‹his attempt to play the ball in such close proximity clearly constitutes “interfering with play” and, since this was done from an offside position, the player must surely be penalized. Needless to say, it also means that the goal is nullified since it occurred after the decision was made to penalize for offside.

The mechanics in Situation A are indicated by FIFA’s guidance. Both the AR and the referee must wait until it is clear whether the attacker coming from the offside position will prevail over his teammate coming from an onside position. If and when that becomes clear, both officials follow the usual mechanics suggested in the Guide to Procedures. In situation B, the usual mechanics in the Guide to Procedures should be followed‹when Player A performed his attempted kick, the AR’s flag should go up and, upon making eye contact, the referee should stop play.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
I have a FIFA and high school patch. At a recent FIFA meeting for referees, we were told that a push is being made at the national level to loosen up on offside. I.E. a torso ahead is OK at the national level and soon will be OK for us locally, with the prediction that in a few years daylight between the offensive player (ahead) and defensive player will be the rule. However, for now, we were told not to change how we apply the law.

At at more recent high school meeting, we were told the same thing by a state referee official who administers both patches (21 years FIFA, 7 years high school). He stopped short of telling us to use the looser application of the law, but urged us to only call offside when we are 100 percent sure. I sense an unwillingness to implement the full-torso rule. Has there been any definitive interpretation that changes current practice which, I believe, is based on the vertical plane of the bodies in question.

USSF answer (July 31, 2004):
A new entry in the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (officially released by FIFA on July 1, 2004) makes the point that, in the case of two attackers making a play for the ball with one coming from an onside position and one coming from an offside position, the assistant referee and referee must hold the offside decision until it is clear that the offside position attacker will prevail.

With that exception, there has been no change in definition, interpretation, or guidance on offside (Law 11). Referees should continue to apply Law 11 as it has been taught in USSF clinics until and unless they are officially directed otherwise.


MANDATORY CAUTIONS
Your question:
Could you please tell me if there is a list of the eight mandatory cautions?

USSF answer (July 31, 2004):
Yes, there is, and please find attached a copy (it is the “7+7” Memorandum — the mandatory cautions are in bold type). However, as a result of this year’s Law changes, there are now NINE mandatory cautions — the newest one being for unsporting behavior if a player removes his jersey to celebrate a goal.


ABUSING THE LAWS OF THE GAME [LAW 3]
Your question:
In a state cup championship match, one team is leading by one goal with three minutes left in regulation time. The team decides to substitute one of their players off (this player happens to already have one yellow card this game). As the player’s name is called, he starts to jog over from the opposite side of the field. After three or four steps, he starts limping, like he came up lame. He takes over a minute to limp across the field before finally exiting the field (note that I had not waved the other player on yet). The other team notices his actions and were yelling at me about time wasting. Once he leaves the field, the substitute enters (without me beckoning him on) and the substituted player then resumes a jog to his bench and even laughs at the other team, proud of his time wasting efforts. In the game, I added the *FULL* amount of time this player had wasted to the end of the half and informed both teams that I was doing so, but I did not give him a second caution. In retrospect, his actions (faking an injury) brought the game into disrepute, were clearly unsporting and antagonistic, and were completely unjustifiable. I think that I should have given him a second caution which would have forced him to miss the first game at Regionals. I’d like your thoughts on that, but more so I would like a second question to be answered. Throughout the game I had allowed substitutes to enter the field as soon as the player they were replacing was completely off the pitch, without an extra signal to beckon them on. Given that context, if I had cautioned and sent off the player, how many men would the team have played with? The unsporting behavior which would have resulted in the caution occurred while he was a player, but the caution would not have been shown until after he had been replaced (since I couldn’t know for sure he was faking until he left the pitch and jogged to his bench). I could make an argument that I had never beckoned the substitute onto the field and so no legal substitution had occurred (but this contradicts the previous substitutions…as a side note then I’d have to caution the substitute for illegal entry as well) and therefore the team must play with 10 men. If I admit that a substitution did occur, can I still make the team play with 10 men and remove the substitute since the caution was given as soon it possibly could in good faith and was the result of actions taken while he was a player and not a substituted player, or must I let the substitute stay in the game and the team play at full strength?

USSF answer (July 30, 2004):
Your questions illustrate very well why the substitution procedures set forth in the Laws of the Game should not be bypassed or ignored and what kinds of problems can be created when they are. That said, you are raising difficult issues of game management which cannot be resolved by someone who wasn’t there.

The most important issue to keep in mind regarding cards is whether a card is the proper tool at this particular time for this particular player. The issue becomes critical when it is a second caution that is being considered. No referee should ever decide to give or not give a card based on the consequences for some future game by that team (i.e., “miss the first game at Regionals”). Such decisions must be made here and now with the facts at hand.

Consider this. You successfully blunted the impact of the player’s behavior by restoring to the opposing team any time lost to them. What would have been gained, aside from satisfying a sense of outrage over a lack of sportsmanship, by giving the caution and then being forced as a result to give a red card?

And a follow-on question:
Thanks for your answer. The question actually raised a more general question in my mind, so hopefully you can humor me with a follow up question. So, in this match I was using what I consider to be the correct substitution procedure by having the substitute enter at the intersection of the touch and half lines after the player being replaced had completely left the pitch…in my question I merely meant that I hadn’t given an additional signal after the player had completely left the field that the substitute could now enter; I let them automatically enter as soon as the other player had left (is this correct or do I need an additional signal to the substitute that they can now enter). Anyway, the more general question I have is this: assume the player had committed a cautionable or sending-off offense behind my back and the ball immediately went into touch and I noticed his team wanted to substitute, so I initiated the substitution (told the sub to call him off and the player ran off and then the sub ran on after he had completely left). As the player is running off to be subbed, I noticed AR2’s flag is up, I jog over (backpedaling of course!) and ask what he saw. He tells me to issue a second caution or send off to the player who now has made it all the way off and the sub has come on. After administering the send-off, can I force the team to play short since the misconduct occurred while he was a player? My gut tells me no, but my sense of fairness tells me he should. I doubt this will ever happen since I always look for both ARs’ possible signals before looking for a substitution, but you never know in the heat of battle what may happen.

With the follow-on answer:
First, your substitution procedure was not correct. The permission of the referee must be given in order for a substitute to enter the field after the player he is substituting for has left. Whatever other changes you might make to the procedure (and referees routinely make many, often in the interests of “keeping things going”), don’t drop giving permission for the substitute to enter the field. However, your actions established a de facto indication of permission on which the players came to rely and it would be manifestly unfair to surprise some unlucky substitute for doing what you have allowed all game long.

Second, all cards are given for specific acts. If the act was committed while the perpetrator was a player and the card is red, the player sent off cannot be replaced, even if, by the time you actually send him off, he may have left the field.

Third, before allowing substitutions, it is always a good idea (as it would have been in your situation below and as you acknowledged) to make eye contact with your ARs first.

Fourth, we are not sure I understand why your gut is warring with your sense of fairness. Ours are usually in complete agreement.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
The following happened recently in a tournament playoff match. Team A and Team B were tied at the end of overtime and so the match went to a shootout. It went all the way to the eighth kickers for each team. Team A’s eighth kicker scored, Team B’s kicker missed. It was then discovered that Team A’s eighth kicker was not one of the 11 players for Team A on the field at the end of overtime. The referee allowed the kick by the eighth kicker to stand, thus allowing Team A to win and advance in the playoffs, but also gave Team A’s eighth kicker a yellow card.

Of course, the referee should have been keeping better track of the players, but since he wasn’t, was his way of handling it correct? Is there any way that the kick by Team A’s eighth kicker could be disallowed? Would it matter if the ineligibility of the player was discovered immediately after his successful kick rather than not until after Team B’s eighth kicker missed?

USSF answer (July 30, 2004):
The rules governing kicks from the penalty mark to decide a tied match specifically state that, except as modified for this procedures, all other applicable Laws of the Game apply. So, the question becomes, what would the referee do if something comparable had happened during play in the match? If a goal was scored and the problem with team who scored the goal (e.g., extra player) was not discovered until after play had restarted, the goal would stand. If it was discovered before play restarted, the goal would not stand.

Here, the equivalent of play restarting is the taking of the next kick from the penalty mark. Since the next kick occurred and then the problem was discovered, the result of the kick would stand. If the player’s ineligibility had been discovered before Team B took its kick, the result would not stand and the kick by Team A would have to be retaken by an eligible player.


REMOVAL OF THE JERSEY [LAW 4]
Your question:
This is a hypothetical question based on my previous observations and the renewed adoption of the removal of a jersey = mandatory caution rule. Let’s say you are refereeing a semifinal match of a highly competitive tournament such as the Regional Championships (which were golden goal this year). Let’s assume regulation ends as a tie and the game is won either by a golden goal or a kick from the mark. After the winning goal is scored, the kicker (who has already received one caution this game) removes his jersey as part of the celebration. Meanwhile, his team, substitutes, bench personnel, and a hundred spectators have rushed onto the field and surrounded him. Should you consider this act removing the jersey to celebrate a goal, or removing the jersey to celebrate a win (which is not mentioned in the FIFA/IFAB decision), or merely removing the jersey after a match as many players do. Clearly the intent is the celebration of the goal, but it seems like giving him a second caution would create problems after the game is already finished. So, the first question is, would this be a mandatory caution? If it is, the second question is: would the prefered method of giving it be to wade through the crowd and display the yellow and the red cards to the player (and create a situation where you may be in the middle of a throng of people who now hate you), to find the coach or captain and inform him that the player has received a second caution and thus a send-off which will be reported to the competition authority (and get that person extremely angry at you), or merely note in your game report the action by the player and allow the competition authority to deal with it as they see fit?

USSF answer (July 30, 2004):
Whether you consider the player had removed his jersey to celebrate a goal or merely to celebrate a win (and who knows the mind of a player?), the matter now comes under a different rule. Accordingly to FIFA’s new Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (officially released on July 1, 2004), no cards may be given after a match is over — including any required tie-breaking procedures.

Accordingly, no caution would be given in this case. The most the referee might do is include a mention of the incident in the match report. Given this answer to your first question, there is no need to deal with the others because they are all based on the consequences of giving the caution in the first place.


WHEN IS A THROW-IN? [LAW 15]
Your question:
I just finished taking a referee course and am confused why the opposing team is awarded the ball on a “bad” throw-in. In other situations, if a mistake is made on a restart, the restart is redone. For example, for a goal kick, if the ball does not leave the penalty area the kick is retaken (using the reasoning that the ball was never in play). Using the same reasoning for a throw-in‹if a player lifted a foot before releasing the ball, the ball was not in play…

USSF answer (July 29, 2004):
You are on the right track in looking at the problem. In the case of a goal kick which doesn’t leave the penalty area into the field of play, the ball has not been put into play and therefore it must be retaken (the basic principle is, nothing that happens when the ball is not in play changes the restart). However, in the case of a throw-in, the Law defines when the ball is in play solely in terms of one fact‹did the ball break the plane of the touchline? If it did, then it was put into play. However, Law 15 also provides a number of factors which need to be taken into account in determining whether the throw-in was performed legally (for example, both feet on the ground, behind or on the line, at the location where the ball left the field, and so on). So, if a player performs a throw-in from the wrong location but the ball enters the field, the ball was put into play properly but illegally and the throw goes to the other team. However, if the player takes the throw-in legally but the ball never enters the field, then the ball was never put into play and the same team is given the opportunity to do it again.

It’s a bit confusing and only the throw-in restart makes this big a deal between “in play” and “performed legally”‹for most other restarts, there is little difference between the two.


RELIGIOUS CLOTHING [LAW 4]
Your question:
An interesting scenario happened to take place twice for me in the past month, and in [my organization], we feel compelled to defer to more simplistic answers, so I thought this might be a better place to address the issue.

Recently, at [two tournaments] I had the opportunity to both watch and referee a particular GU14 team. This team has one young lady of the Muslim faith whose father requires her to wear a headdress (I don’t know the proper name for it, but it covers her head entirely and drapes over her shoulders), long sleeves, and long pants. Naturally, given the religious nature of her change to the uniform standards, there is no basic qualm with her wearing the additional clothing, and both her parents and coach ensured throughout various matches, in these hotter climates, that she was afforded ample opportunity to stay hydrated.

However, she’s her team’s leading goal-scorer, and the reason why is her inhibition in regards to tackling due to her long pants. Additionally, because female players [in my organization] tend to be a nicer lot in general, her opponents were generally very careful about challenging her directly for fear that they would become encumbered in her additional gear (especially the headdress and long sleeves) and cause a foul in their defending third. During the games I refereed and watched her team, her attire did not result in any additional proclivity for fouls against her. The points being that she gained a very clear advantage due to the additional attire.

So, my question, as you can imagine, is the nefarious beauty of “At what point do religious edicts regarding attire outweight fairness and sportsmanship in our Sport?”

For what it’s worth, [my organization]’s answer to this question was “Always”, despite the organization’s overall deference to safety as prime tenet. I ask the question because [this] decision seems to be counter to the Memorandum dated November 22, 2002, and because the anecdotal reference in the Memorandum doesn’t really cover that much religious “covering”.

However, in a day and age in which the female side of the sport is picking up Internationally, the particular issue of Muslim women’s teams facing Western women’s teams might ought to be addressed sooner rather than later.

USSF answer (July 28, 2004):
The referee needs to distinguish between issues of safety and issues of “unfair advantage.” There cannot be any weakening of the referee’s authority with regard to player safety. As to any “unfair advantage” that might accrue to the player with religious attire, that is strictly a matter of perception, rather than one of fact. For once, perception is not reality.

We can do no more than emphasize that the position paper of November 22, 2002, cited in full below, is still applicable and that no further position can be taken by the U. S. Soccer Federation. If and when an issue arises on the international level regarding a conflict between the dress of teams from Muslim nations and those of the rest of the world, we will receive guidelines from the International Board and from FIFA.

Subject: Player Dress
Date: November 22, 2002

According to Law 4, The Players’ Equipment, a player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player. The basic compulsory equipment of a player is a jersey or shirt, shorts, stockings, shinguards, and footwear. There is no provision for a player to wear a skirt or similar clothing.

However, in an analogous situation, in respect of certain religions that require members to wear head coverings, the Secretary General of the United States Soccer Federation has given permission to those bound by religious law to wear such headcoverings, usually a turban or yarmulke, provided the referee finds that the headgear does not pose a danger to the player wearing it or to the other players. This principle could be extended to other clothing required of members by their religion.

Since the referee may not know all the various religious rules, players must request the variance well enough ahead of game time by notifying the league. The league will notify the state association, which will pass the information on to the state referee committee. The state referee committee will make sure that the referees working that league’s matches are informed.

The referee is still bound by the requirements of Law 4 ‹ the player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player, or use this equipment or clothing to circumvent the Laws of the Game. An example would be the use of equipment or garments to trap the ball or to distract an opponent.


PLAYERS EATING; OFFENSIVE, INSULTING, OR ABUSIVE LANGUAGE [LAW 12]
Your question:
[A visiting referee from another country has] two questions. First question is whether players are allowed to eat during a game. For example, can a player who becomes hungry retreats to the bench (being allowed to do so by the ref just like when they change their shoes), eats, and goes back to the field (with the permission by the ref)? I understand that players are only allowed to drink water along a touch line during out-of-play.

Second question is offensive/insulting.abusive language. Since English is not my native language, I often have hard time being sure what to do. Is caution appropriate when someone says, “It wasn’t a foul”? What about when he says something like “didn’t you see what he did?” I believe f-words are red card. But if you could give me any idea how I can easily distinguish things for a red card from things for a yellow card.

USSF answer (July 28, 2004):
Players are allowed to eat and drink if they leave the field of play with the permission of the referee. As to water, players need not leave the field, but must stand at the touch line and not bring any containers onto the field.

The referee must first decide whether or not language or gestures are offensive, insulting, or abusive. If they are, in the opinion of the referee, offensive, insulting, or abusive, then they must be punished. Referees must exercise common sense and punish any such acts that exceed the limits of acceptable behavior. See the USSF position paper on language, dated March 14, 2003, which may be downloaded from this site and several others.


PLAYER ALLOWED TO STAY ON AFTER SECOND CAUTION; WHAT TO DO? [LAW 5]
Your question:
In a U-19 boys at a youth regional championship game, the referee issues a yellow card to #12. This was the second yellow card to #12 which could have resulted into a send off. The referee does not realize that this was the second caution because he was using a write-on card and due to sweat and rain, the card/#12 has been smeared. Since his write-on card does not show the #12, the player is left to continue. None of the crew (Ref, SAR, JAR and 4th) realized this error. The game continued with #12 still in it and his team still playing full. During a substitution opportunity, #12 was substituted. Eventually, the field marshal for this game spotted the error and immediately drew the attention of the referee. The referee stopped the game, issued a red card to #12 who is now sitting on the bench, removed the substitute for #12 and the game resumed with the one team playing with 10 men. (In this tournament, there is no reentry of substitutes.)

Questions: (1) Is the referee’s decision correction correct? (2) Since #12 is no longer a player at this point, should his team be made to play short.

USSF answer (July 28, 2004):
As long as the situation was brought to the referee’s attention during the game, the decision to issue the red card to #12 was correct. The decision to remove the player who had been substituted in was also correct, despite that player’s innocence. Number 12 was sent off for conduct that occurred when he was a player, so the referee had no choice but to remove the innocent player. However, the referee made a serious error in using a “write-on” card under the conditions you describe.


IT’S CALLED A “KICK-OFF” FOR A REASON [LAW 8]
Your question:
On the kickoff , on the first touch the kicker rolls the ball forward two or three inches and WITHOUT removing his foot flicks the ball backwards. It does go forward and it is not a second touch. I have asked several ref’s in the area and all agree it is wrong but can’t decide exactly why or what to call, if anything.

USSF answer (July 28, 2004):
You have described a “roll”-off, not a “kick”-off. The ball must be KICKED forward, not rolled forward, just as it says in Law 8: “the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward.”


PLAYER LOSES FOOTWEAR [LAW 4]
Your question:
I was recently centering a men’s league game, and a rather odd situation occured. Team A was attacking Team B’s goal inside the 18 yard box. I noticed my AR’s flag begin to wave rapidly, and I blew my whistle and ran over to speak with him. I figured I may have missed a minor jersey tug, or something may have been said that may have deserved a card. However, this wasn’t the case. He told me that a player on Team B had lost a shoe, and that the restart should be an indirect kick from where the shoe first came off. At this point, I assumed that he was saying the play was dangerous. I, however, did not think it was dangerous, but I obeyed him, and issued an indirect kick inside the box. He is a state referee, and I am only 17, so I didn’t protest this (after the game even). Was this the correct ruling?

USSF answer (July 21, 2004):
According to the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, 2004 edition, Law 4, Q&A 10 (no change from the 2000 edition):
10. A player accidentally loses his footwear and immediately scores a goal. Is this permitted?
Yes. The player did not intentionally play barefoot, because he lost his footwear by accident.

There is certainly no issue of “playing dangerously” here. The state referee would appear to be taking advantage of his seniority to show you who is really “the boss.” Law 4 is pretty clear on what must happen if there is an infringement, so let’s go with that: “For any infringement of Law 4 play need not be stopped. The player at fault is instructed by the referee to leave the field of play to correct his equipment. The player leaves the field of play when the ball next ceases to be in play, unless he has already corrected his equipment.”

As to the state referee, we suggest that his mechanics and judgment do not follow the instructions in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees (newly reissued for 2004). Nuff said.


OPEN DISSENT IN MLS MATCHES [LAW 12]
Your question:
Within the past several years, I, as well as many of my associates, have noticed a marked increase of televised incidences of open dissent within the MLS.

My family, along with three other families, have Galaxy tickets within 10 rows of the Touchline, at about the 28 yd line. We have also witnessed a marked increase in the use of abusive language towards the Referee and his Assistants, in the past couple of years. For instance on a recent, what would have been a pleasant summer evening, enjoying our local team playing futball, parents and children, within ear-shot of the field (at least 20 rows, at the magnificent Home Depot Center) were bombarded with players yelling at the Referee and/or AR’s “….what the f…. are you blind?” or ” you ‘re f…ing out of your mind, I was nowhere near him”, and on and on ad nauseum!

1. I am a referee. I am currently awaiting my Final Field Assessment for my National AYSO Badge. I passed my USSF State Badge (88%) and am awaiting assessment. I referee high school.
2. I understand and completely agree with the Foul Language Memorandum.
3. I am a complete supporter of the 1st Amendment of the United States of America, Constitution.

However, what disturbs me about this trend of using abusive language towards referees and their assistants is:
1. The MLS seems to be turning a ‘blind eye’ towards this obvious degradation of The Game.
2. The increased televised coverage of emotional outbursts of vulgarity toward the referees or assistant referees (although naked streakers are ‘blocked-out’ (too vulgar?))
3. Because of this increased media coverage and acceptance by the viewing public……..

My job as a referee is becoming increasingly more difficult, because players, coaches and spectators are now thinking that is acceptable for players and coaches  to constantly argue and challenge any referee decision. I know I can counsel and talk to the players ( as I do.) I know I can show a card for dissent (and according to my local association, I ‘Must Card for Dissent,’ as I do.) But, is there anything you guys at the top of the foodchain can do to enforce the LOTG at the National Level ( please ask Arena to discuss this with his players also), so that our jobs at bottom would be a little easier?

USSF answer (July 20, 2004):
Both the Federation and the MLS share your concern about this situation. Both had been feeling very good about the decrease in the level of dissent over the past several years.

The MLS instituted a mandatory incremental fine schedule for cautions/yellow cards for dissent and game disrespect (formerly called “bringing the game into disrespute) and greater sanctions have been imposed. By increasing the values for most cautions/yellow cards by 1 point, it now takes approximately 4 cautions to earn a suspension, rather than 5 as in the past. The change makes it tougher on the players, rather than easier. Excellent effects had been noticed, despite the fact that MLS has changed its point system to actually decrease the number of cards which lead to suspension.

The bottom line is that the referees must still get it done on the field. They have been given all the tools and the full support of both League and Federation. In fact, dealing with dissent is a topic on almost every conference call and is one of the points of emphasis at every National Camp. Some, but certainly not all, officials have too much tolerance for dissent despite our best efforts. The MLS has promised that this will be a topic of discussion at the referee meeting at the All Star game.


PLAYER EQUIPMENT [LAW 4]
Your question:
I have been questioned concerning the legal way to wear an ankle brace. Typically the lace up type. My stand is that they should be under the sock just as a shinguard. I cannot find any clear directions in the LOTG or the ATR. Can you help me out?

USSF answer (July 20, 2004):
Ankle braces may be worn in any way that is safe for all players, the same requirement that must be met for any equipment. There is no specific or exclusive way, other than one which ensures complete safety for all participants. The final decision rests with the referee for this particular game; not the last game, not the next game, but this game.


‘KEEPER HANDLING IN OWN PENALTY AREA IS _NOT_ DENIAL [LAW 12]
Your question:
Situation: A goalkeeper in his PA realizes the errant backpass from his fullback is about to enter the goal. The GK stops the ball completely with his hand.
1. Is this an intentional pass to the keeper?
2. Is this an offense?
3. If an offense, is it punishable by send off for SFP, denying an OGO? or
4. If an offense, is it punishable by an IFK by the attacking team?

USSF answer (July 20, 2004):
1. Likely yes, but only the referee on the spot will know if the “errant backpass” was a ball deliberately kicked to a place where the goalkeeper could play it.
2. Possibly. See above.
3 and 4. If it is an offense, it would not be serious foul play, which requires that two opposing players be competing for the ball and that a direct-free-kick foul have been committed. That is not what you described. It is also not denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, because the goalkeeper is specifically exempted from being sent off for handling which prevents a goal‹even if the handling is an offense. If the referee finds any infringement of the Law, then it would be simply that the goalkeeper has played a ball deliberately kicked to him by a teammate, for which the correct restart is an indirect free kick.


REFEREE LIABILITY [LAW 5]
Your question:
I referee in an adult league with several referees who are older (over 60) and in poor physical shape. Unfortunately, most of the referees I am assigned to work with cannot keep up with the pace of the game, and seem unable to see many of the obvious fouls that occur right next to them. Several serious injuries have occurred recently, and I am concerned about continuing to referee with these officials who cannot see well enough or are not fit enough to keep the game in control. Do I need to worry about liability when I am officiating, if the other referee’s negligence causes serious injury? Do players have any legal recourse when they are injured due to negligence of the officials not doing their job appropriately?

USSF answer (July 19, 2004):
You need to file your concerns in writing with your State Referee Administrator. You should say that you are concerned about your own liability and want those responsible for the games to know that you are concerned and that the assignments of these officials should be looked at. That puts you on record and should something happen, you should be fine with your liability insurance. Tell the SRA what league you officiate in and the location of the league‹your SRA has many thousands of referees to deal with.


STRANGE SIGNALS [LAW 5]
Your question:
In the Copa America during play I am seeing the Referee wave his hand back and forth over his head. Is this a formal signal for “continue play” or what does this signal mean?

USSF answer (July 16, 2004):
It is not a formal signal that is recognized worldwide.


WHAT’S THE CALL? [LAW 12; LAW 15]
Your question:
This circumstance came up at a meeting. By the referee who failed his up grade assessment off of his call. He didn’t tell us what he called but gave us this scenario.

Attacker loses the ball and the defender gains possession of the ball. Defender looks up and has 2 attackers running at him so he turns around and kicks it as hard as he can across the front of the goal. 2nd Defender hears the keeper telling him to watch out and then sees the ball coming so he throws his hands up to protect his face. The ball glances off of his hands and goes out the touch line.

What would be the correct call?

USSF answer (July 16, 2004):
The correct restart would be a throw-in.


APPLYING THE ADVANTAGE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
The june 29, 2004, response to the situation where the wind blows the ball back towards the goal and the keeper second-touches it, trying, without success, to prevent the ball passing into the goal, does not seem materially different from the q&a’s to the lotg, law 12, item 11. here, the keeper played the ball to a teammate who kicks the ball at the goal and the keeper touches it, but does not prevent the ball passing into the goal. the touch becomes a passback, similar to the second touch situation. in the q&a the goal is scored. would you please explain why this is not an ifk situation with no goal scored like the goalkick/wind example?

USSF answer (July 15, 2004):
This can be explained quite easily. One situation (the goal kick) falls under Law 16, while the other (the pass to the goalkeeper) falls under Law 12. There is no advantage awarded for infringements of Law 16. The advantage is awarded ONLY for infringements of Law 12

TO REPEAT: All referees must remember that the advantage clause is applied ONLY FOR INFRINGEMENTS OF LAW 12 and not for infringements of any other Laws.


KEEPING TIME [LAW 7; LAW 18]
Your question:
Law 7: The match lasts two equal periods of 45 minutes
Law 7: Allowance is made in either period for all time lost

Now comes a young referee who asks the question at a local meeting: if I add time to the first half, then to be certain that the second half is “equal” then the same amount of time must be added to the second half. The logic that the young official applied sure seems to fit so I went to the questions and did not find anything to pass on. So, have I been doing it wrong by keeping time lost separate from the competiion period lengths? I base this on watching upper level matches and rarely does the lost time in the first half match the second half (typically more lost time in the second half because of substitutions.)

USSF answer (July 15, 2004):
The young official’s question is legitimate, but based on a false premise. The first reason the premise is false is that the requirement to give teams the full number of minutes suitable to the competition for each half does NOT mean that the referee should make the second half precisely equal to the first half in gross overall length. The requirement for 45 (or whatever number of) minutes means that the players should be given the full number, with allowance made for adding time for various stoppages and consequent loss of playing time that are not part of normal play.  Many of the reasons for stoppages in play and thus ³lost time² are entirely normal elements of the game. The referee takes this into account in applying discretion regarding the time to be added. The main objective should be to restore playing time to the match which is lost due to excessively prolonged or unusual stoppages. The second part of the false premise is that the amount of time lost in one half will be the same as in the other, which will never happen.


GETTING THE REQUIRED DISTANCE [LAW 13]
Your question:
I coach a U18 girls team. At our last game our team was awarded a free kick just outside our 18 yard box. As our player approached the ball to take the kick, an opponent standing to her right (within 10 yards) moved in front of her and when she kicked the ball it struck the opponent and rebounded to the opponent’s teammate – a shot was taken but narrowly missed. There was no call. I don’t like to say things to the refs from the sideline, but I did say, “what about 10 yards”? The assistant referee said, “have your players ask for 10 yards if they want it”. Later my players told me the ref told them, “you have to ask for ten yards.” This seems to be a trend in our area – to require the team with the kick to ASK FOR 10. This in my opinion is a direct violation of Law 13, interrupts the flow of the game and gives the opponent an advantage not in the spirit of the game. From Law 13, “If when a free kick is taken, an opponent is closer to the ball than the required distance: the kick is retaken.” Also, to fail to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a free kick is a cautionable offence and the offender is shown the yellow card.

I am also a referee and I am increasingly dismayed at players encroaching on 10 yards and being very surprised when I give them a yellow card for not moving the required distance from the ball. Am I missing something? What say you?

USSF answer (July 15, 2004):
The referee is under no obligation to stop the kicker from kicking the ball at a free kick, no matter where the opposing players are positioned, particularly if the kicking player has seen that the opponent is encroaching. Both teams are expected to abide by the requirement to get the ball back in play. All referees should encourage and allow quick free kicks, particularly if that is what the kicking team wants to do. At all free kicks the referee should back away, watch what happens, and intervene in quick free kick situations where an opponent closer than the minimum required distance actively makes a play for the ball (as opposed to, luckily, having the ball misplayed directly to him). The referee must have a feel for the game, how it has been going, how it is going now. That “feel” must be applied to each and every situation individually. There is no black-and-white formula to follow.

Under the Law, the offending team is required to back off at least 10 yards from the spot of the ball immediately. Most do not. The referee should stop the restart process only if it is clear that the kicking team either does not want or cannot take a quick kick. Section 13.3 of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” tells us that “The referee should move quickly out of the way after indicating the approximate area of the restart and should do nothing to interfere with the kicking team’s right to an immediate free kick. At competitive levels of play, referees should not automatically “manage the wall,” but should allow the ball to be put back into play as quickly as possible, unless the kicking team requests help in dealing with opponents infringing on the minimum distance.” However, the referee cannot abdicate the responsibility to ensure that the free kick is indeed “free.”

Finally, this is the way things should be done at competitive levels of play (which one would presume U18 girls coached by a referee would be). Only at a much younger level might the referee step in on his own initiative, unasked, to enforce the required distance and then only if it was clear from the body language that the kicker was perplexed by opponents being too close.


SIGNALS FOR KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK? [PROCEDURES]
Your question:
One official in the middle, one supervising the kick, one on the goal line (line judge).
1) Ball gets kicked over the goal, obvious no goal. No signal?
2) Ball is kicked into the back of the net, obvious to all its a goal. Supervising official points to the center circle?
3) Ball is kicked and apparently saved, but it has crossed the goal line. Line judge raises the flag straight up in the air to signal ball has crossed the goal line. Supervising official points to the center circle then line judge drop the flag?
4) Ball apparently goes into goal, but line judge sees it has not crossed the goal line. AR signals nothing. What signal if any does the supervising official give?

USSF answer (July 14, 2004):
These are kicks from the penalty mark, not part of the game, and therefore the referee need not signal for a goal in the same way that he would signal if the goal occurred during regular play. There is no need for any referee signals for goal/no goal in the case of kicks from the penalty mark.

In potential dispute situations such as described in 3 and 4, the mechanics need be no different than what the officiating team would use in the case of a penalty kick. The officials should follow whatever procedure the referee wants and covers in the pregame.


UNSAFE EQUIPMENT [LAW 4]
Your question:
U-12 Girls Premier level match: forward strikes gk on upper body with her forearm cast (which is padded) after gk takes possession of ball. The referee speaks to offending player and tells her he will return with a card as play continues for another 15 or 20 seconds. When ball goes into touch, referee shows the yellow.

Player remains in the match. What technically correct options were available to the referee? Would a ruling of ineligability have been proper, given that the cast, having been used improperly in the commission of a foul, is now dangerous equipment?

I am very much interested in the law and logic you would apply in this situation.

USSF answer (July 10, 2004):
There is no magic in the logic, and Law 4 is quite clear on the matter: The safety of any item worn by a player is solely in the opinion of the referee, who should inspect all players before the match. However, simply because an item appears safe before the match starts does not mean that it remains safe throughout the match, particularly if it is misused by a player. That would be the case in the situation you provide.

After the player is cautioned‹possibly too light a sentence, given the action you describe‹the player should be removed from the match until she removes the cast whose use has endangered another player. If she is unable or unwilling to do that, then she may be replaced by a substitute, if there are any available. If not, the team will play short.


WHO FOULED WHOM? [LAW 12]
Your question:
In a game I was playing in, this kid had been cheap shotting me all game, on one play he slid fom behind and took me out, I got up and pushed him in retaliation and asked him what his prblem was. The ref appropiately gave me the yellow for retalliation but gave the kick to them. I asked him why it wasn’t our kick and he said it was because my foul was more severe even though he already called the foul on him. Is that correct? Shouldn’t it still be our kick with me deserving a card for retalliation? Thanks for the help!

USSF answer (July 7, 2004):
Yes, the referee should have awarded the free kick to your team, as it was you against whom the foul was committed. The referee should then have cautioned and shown you the yellow card for unsporting behavior and restarted with the direct free kick for your team.

What you did was not a foul, as the foul had already been committed by your opponent. You committed misconduct in retaliation for the foul.


DEALING WITH COACHES [LAW 5]
Your question:
In a recent game where the home team (U15G) was getting frustrated, the coach yelled out toward the center ref (me) “They’re mocking our girls” to which the opposing GK responded back to the coach “Shut up.” I was aware of no chatter going on within the pitch so i stopped play and gave a firm talk to the GK about her response. as i was approaching her, the home coach shouted “Give her a caution” and said it again once i was complete with my conversation with her. the game had run generally smoothly to that point and the GK had displayed no attitude toward me or anyone else. So my question is: While a tad out of line to be yelling back toward the coach, the GK did not use profanity nor say anything else. Was a firm discussion with her within my bounds or should that have been an automatic caution for UB or DT? i should have had a discussion with the coach as well, but didn’t. as always, your wisdom is appreciated.

USSF answer (July 7, 2004):
If you detected no “mocking” or similar activity on the field, then the player is not the one with whom you should have had a talk. Remind the coach that he or she has no authority at the field and is not permitted to do anything but offer encouraging comments to his or her team. If other activity persists beyond this reminder (warning), then you have no choice but to dismiss the coach for irresponsible behavior. No cards to the coach, please, unless the competition requires it.

And having a brief talk with the goalkeeper was not out of order since, though provoked, the goalkeeper should also not have become involved in a shouting match with the opposing coach.


CORRECTING REFEREE MISTAKES AFTER THE GAME [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
If a referee shows two yellow cards to a same player by mistake and only realises after the completion of the match, what will be fate of that particular player?

USSF answer (July 7, 2004):
The referee must include full details of the mistake in the match report. The eventual fate of the player is up to the competition authority.


NON-PARTICIPANT DISTANCE FROM THE FIELD [LAW 18]
Your question:
How far off of the field should non participants be kept ? Is there a standard distance before one is considered off of the field or is it left to the referee to decide?

USSF answer (July 5, 2004):
There is no restriction in the Laws of the Game on the distance that non-participants must remain off the field. That is covered by the rules of the competition.


CHANGING A DECISION [LAW 5]
Your question:
It states in the manual that a decision cannot be changed once play has resumed. My question, and this happened at a tournament recently. At the very end of a match a goal was scored but after a brief discussion with his assistant the referee denied the goal for the scoring player being offside. The defending team put the ball in play possibly without a signal from the referee. The referee then blew the whistle signafying the end of the match.

The team who lost the goal started arguing that the match wasn’t restarted therefore the call could still be reversed based on a legitimate argument about keeper possession. I made the decision that the goal did not count because ending the match with the whistle is equivalent to restarting play anD you can’t reverse the scoring of a goal once play has been restarted.

Was I right?

USSF answer (July 3, 2004):
The team that loses a goal will always want to argue the point. Without going into the merits of the referee’s decision, which was probably entirely accurate, the game was restarted and then the referee blew the whistle to end the game. Game over, no goal.


SLIDE TACKLE ON THE GOALKEEPER [LAW 12]
Your question:
During a pro-level game we see the ball passed back to the keeper as a routine to move the players and the play around, during a recent pro-level match this situation happened. What i would like to know is what i should do at the local level i. e., rec soccer up to adult amateur.

during a pass back to the keeper an attacker was challenging the keeper for the ball, the attacker was close enough to make a normal play for the ball, but the event unfolds like this, as the keeper gets the pass back the attacker charges to play the ball, as the keeper is getting ready to kick the ball away the attacker slide tackles the keeper and collects the ball up and makes a goal. the referee denies the goal and cards the attacker?

after looking at the replay the attackers cleats were up a little, no more than what we may or may not allow on say, someone other than the keeper.

i as a referee watch pro level games to stay ahead of what i belive kids will try to emulate on the fields, this one brought a health dose of reality to what if situation’s because of too much tv.

after reading the laws its obvious the keeper had no possesion, because he couldnt handle the ball, in that situation what protection do we offer the keeper? say if the tackle was 100% clean and if it wasnt clean what should the punishment be? by not clean i am saying it wasnt dangerous but say more trifling none the less a foul.

USSF answer (July 1, 2004):
If the tackle was executed in accordance with the Law, then there was no foul and no reason to stop the game or caution the player. However, this is why Law 12 refers to tackles which are performed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force. It is the referee’s job to sort these concepts out and apply them based on (among other things) the flow of the match and the skill level of the players.


THE REFEREE IS _NOT_ A COACH [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
I was Centering a GU10 tournament the other day and I noticed that a lot of players on both teams were heading the ball using the top of their heads..oh the pain in the faces. I advised 4 different players on correct technique during play directly following their headers. At half time. I asked both coaches to reinforce this technique with their players. The situation got better in the second half. My question is, would you call dangerous play if it continued and award an indirect free kick to the opposing team? The larger question is, what is the status of youth headers and its potential to be dangerous?

USSF answer (June 30, 2004):
Beyond the “Under-Tiny” level, the referee has no reason to lecture players on their skills, nor has the referee any authority to punish them for playing dangerously by heading the ball improperly. If a foul or misconduct occurs, the referee should punish it. If a player is not skillful, the referee can and may do nothing about it. In other words, it is not your responsibility and you should leave it to the coaches. If we don’t want the coach to referee, it would be a good idea if we didn’t coach.


REMOVING AN ASSISTANT REFEREE [LAW 6]
Your question:
In Law 6 it is stated that “In the event of undue intereference or improper conduct, the referee will relieve an assistant referee of his duties and make a report to the proper authorities.” Under what obviously extreme circumstances would constitute relieveing an assistant referee?

At a recent tournament an assistant referee made numerous outrageously derogatory comments to coaches about his collegue with the whistle. Would such (in my opinion) unethical and unprofessional behavior justify relieving an assistant referee? What about very poor performance on the part of an assistant referee? (Interestingly enough, after the match referred to, a heated confrontation arose between coaches, players, and the referee team. Three coaches were expelled and 2 send off’s were issued after the final whistle.)

USSF answer (June 29, 2004):
We would be hard put to define all the possible reasons for dispensing with the services of an assistant referee, but you have done pretty well on your own. Any unethical behavior by the AR would suffice, including making derogatory comments about the referee. The referee might also consider simply consistently poor decisions to be sufficient reason.


GOAL KICKS AND ADVANTAGE? [LAW 16]
Your question:
from the y2k Q&A, Law 16 – The Goal Kick ….    “A goalkeeper takes a goal kick and the ball passes out of the penalty area into play but is blown back by a strong wind without any other player having touched it. The goalkeeper tries to stop the ball entering the goal by touching it with his hands, but is unsuccessful. What decision does the referee give?
He awards an indirect free kick to the opposing team”

I suppose this is because of the ‘second touch’, but why not apply advantage and allow the Goal ?

USSF answer (June 29, 2004):
According to Law 16, when a goalkeeper takes the goal kick, if, after the ball is in play, the goalkeeper deliberately handles the ball before it has touched another player, an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if the infringement occurred inside the goalkeeper¹s penalty area, the kick to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred (keeping in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8). This has consistently been upheld by the IFAB as taking precedence over any subsequent actions, thus negating any application of the advantage clause.


HEARING AIDS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I coach youth soccer at the competitive club level. We have had a boy on our team for 2 seasons now who wears hearing aids. Our team just finished the season with a tournament yesterday, and during play the boy I mentioned made a couple of good offensive headers. It occurred to me then to wonder for the first time, what he (as a player) and/or I (as a coach) should do in the event of his dropping a hearing aid during play. I look forward to your advice. Thanks.

USSF answer (June 29, 2004):
First things first: You are operating under the assumption that the player will have been allowed to wear the hearing aid, which is certainly not a given until the referee has inspected it and found it not dangerous to any player, including the wearer. If the referee has allowed the hearing aid to be worn, then the player may begin looking for it immediately, but the referee is under no obligation to stop play for it. Play continues until the next stoppage in the game. Then, if the player has not yet found the hearing aid, the referee will certainly allow time for the player to look for it.

You and the player should bring the matter of the hearing aid to the attention of the referee before the game. If the hearing aid falls off during the game, you should alert the nearest assistant referee, who will relay the information to the referee at the next stoppage.


ENDING A PERIOD OF PLAY [LAW 7; LAW 18]
Your question:
I was wondering if you would be able to help me with a couple of questions.

1) When a ref calls full time in a game, can the ball be in the air.

2) Could you give me your thoughts on what the outcome of the following play would result in.
Ref is calling out time left to play, 20 secs, 10 secs. Attacking team put ball in play from a throw in. Attacking player kicks ball from just inside penalty area on goal.  A defender (Not goalie) some 7 meters from attacker stops ball with forearms above head height, ref blows whistle as ball impacts with the defender. Ref declares full-time as time is up. Is this the correct action, or should a penalty of been awarded.

I’m just a little confused on how a game is ended. Any help would be appreciated.

USSF answer (June 29, 2004):
1) There is no set or particular moment to end a game. Law 5 empowers the referee to act as timekeeper and to keep a record of the match. Law 7 instructs the referee to add time (at his discretion) for time lost in either half of a game or in any overtime period for the reasons listed in Law 7 (Allowance for Time Lost). Referees allow additional time in all periods for all time lost through substitution(s), assessment of injury to players, removal of injured players from the field of play for treatment,wasting time, as well as ³other causes² that consume time, such as kick-offs, throw-ins, dropped balls, free kicks, and replacement of lost or defective balls. Many of the reasons for stoppages in play and thus ³lost time² are entirely normal elements of the game. The referee takes this into account in applying discretion regarding the time to be added. The main objective should be to restore playing time to the match which is lost due to excessively prolonged or unusual stoppages. Law 5 tells us that the referee’s decisions regarding facts connected with play are final.

Some referees will end the playing period while the ball is in play and there is no threat to either goal, such as allowing a team to take a goal kick and then ending the period. Others will end the playing period at a stoppage. Our advice is to do what is comfortable for the referee and fair to the players.

2) If the referee has determined that there was no foul, then the game is over. If the referee has determined that there was a foul by the player who stopped the ball with his forearms, then a penalty kick must be awarded and the game extended until the kick has been completed. The problem faced by the referee was largely of his own making: referees would never “call out” time remaining in minutes, much less in seconds. All that is needed is communication with the assistant referees 1-2 minutes before the end of regular play which indicates how much additional time (if any) there will be. Only in the highest-level competitions might any public announcement be made of this information, and that would come over the public address system, not from referee to players or team officials.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [LAW 14]
Your question:
Final game ended tied after regulation and overtime so went to penalty kicks to determine a winner. The teams were tied at 3-3 after 5 kicks each, and then the 6th blue player steps up to take her kick, but she shoots before the referee blows his whistle. She puts the shot right down the middle and the keeper saves it easily. However the referee respots the ball saying that the kicker has to wait until he blows his whistle, and the kicker scores on the retake. Blue goes on to win after another couple of kicks each.
Should that kick have been retaken, or should the referee have given the white keeper the benefit of the save since Blue was at fault for kicking too early?

In email discussion, I answered:
Maybe you think I’m out of bounds on this one, but I would not have required the retake.
The reason? Fairness. Here’s why:
The keeper was ready (clearly, since keeper made the save).
The kicker was ready.
The referee wasn’t ready.
If it was only the referee that wasn’t ready, why penalize the keeper? The kicker got “penalized” for shooting early by having the save made. But by retaking, it is the innocent keeper that gets penalized.
I have since been reminded (as I knew before) that the ATR says the kick should be retaken. And, in my opinion, it is the ref that allows himself to get into this mess. But if it happens, wouldn¹t the wise referee wisely proceed to the next kick, not a retake, since he/she obviously gave the kicker a nod or hand signal or wink to start, instead of a whistle, on that particular kick?

USSF answer (June 26, 2004):
The kick from the penalty mark may not be taken until the referee has signaled, just as in a penalty kick. In addition, the referee decides when a penalty kick has been completed. In this case, the kick was not properly taken and thus must be retaken.

Why this sympathy for the goalkeeper? Whose team committed a direct-free-kick in the penalty area, possibly depriving the opposing team of a chance for a goal?  Lex dura sed lex. The law is hard, but it is the law. [And, yes, the same response would apply to normal penalty kicks.]


REFEREE MISAPPLICATION OF THE LAW [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
My u-17 boys team were playing in a USSF-sanctioned tournament and the following occurred. The other team had had a player ejected and were playing with 10 players. They were later awarded a penalty kick and scored. After the goal and before the kickoff, I noticed that they had 11 players on the field. Noone had left or come on after the penalty kick was scored. Should the goal count and what is the re-start. Thanks

USSF answer (June 25, 2004):
If you were going to file a protest, in most competitions you should have done it at the field. Check your local rules on this. You can still complain about the referee’s misapplication of the Laws by filing a letter with the competition authority (the tournament committee) and with the state association.

If the referee detects the extra player before the restart, that player is cautioned for entering the field of play without the permission and then sent from the field. The goal does not count and, at the moment, the correct restart is a goal kick.

If the referee had already restarted with a kick-off, the goal remains scored.


GETTING IT RIGHT! [LAW 18]
Your question:
Am I correct in thinking that everything in this hypothetical case is a legitimate procedure?

QUESTION: A player commits an act of violent conduct behind the referee’s back, but close to an AR. The AR did not get the culprit’s number, but is sure that he could identify the face. The referee consults with the victim and obtains the accused’s number. The referee then calls the accused over to talk to him, profiling him to the AR (eye-witness). The AR then either gives a positive confirming signal or some other signal and the referee acts upon this information. This establishes a legal path for the referee’s action or inaction, right?

If the accused fails to come to the referee having “not heard him” and having “not heard his captain sent to fetch him,” the next action will be for the referee to go to the bench and have his coach call him over, which might be a long way from the eye-witness. The object of the referee is to ascertain the identity of the VC culprit, if possible. So far the referee might not be certain that the accused really heard the referee nor that his captain said anything to him at all. If the referee becomes certain that the accused has deliberately avoided his summons, the accused is guilty of dissent. May the referee also thereby infer that the accused is guilty of VC? Any other suggestions?

USSF answer (June 25, 2004):
The resourceful referee will do everything possible to punish the correct person for serious misconduct. In doing so, the referee is expected to make appropriate use of the assistant referees and the fourth official.


TOUCHED OR PLAYED = MADE CONTACT WITH [LAW 11]
Your question:
In a recent tournament, on two occasions in different games, the ball was headed to a teammate who was clearly in an offside position. On one of the two occasions, the attacker put the ball in the net and a goal was awarded. Neither of the ARs raised the flag for offside, and they were both questioned by spectators/coaches as to why this was not offside. I heard both of them say that although the player was standing in an offside position, the ball was headed by the teammate, and thus it was not an offside infraction. Is this correct? (My question has to do with the words “touched or played” in Law 11—heading the ball to a teammate is not considered touching or playing it to them?)

USSF answer (June 25, 2004):
If a player is in an offside position, it makes no difference how the teammate plays the ball. If the player becomes actively involved after the teammate plays the ball, then the correct decision is offside.


REFEREE MISSES THROW-IN, STOPS PLAY [LAW 15; LAW 18]
Your question:
Here is a strange situation that mystified me, in an otherwise well-called match, advice appreciated:
1) Attack has numbers up in the final 1/3rd but a defender manages to push the ball across touch, in the vicinity of a linesman who made the appropriate signal.
2) Attacker recovers ball and throws in quickly to take advantage of numbers up near goal.
3) Striker approaches penalty area with the ball and a scoring chance is on the line when referee stops play.
4) Referee claims he did not see the throw in and that it should be retaken.
5) Stoppage allows defense to recover in numbers and the ensuing play was of no consequence.

The question is not whether or not the referee saw the throw in, but what the referee should do once he realizes he did not see the throw in.

Would it be best to allowing play to continue to see how a numbers-up chance evolved, then consult with the linesman once a goal has been scored to see if, indeed, the throw had been taken?

An important factor is that the referee knows that he is uncertain about the throw in because he did not watch the ball the whole time due to other distractions, obstructed view, back turned etc. (otherwise the throw in would have been seen). This uncertainty must be taken into account in the referee’s decision.

When questioned, the referee admitted that he might have missed the throw in, but he must stop play anyways because of difficulties in case there was misconduct on the ensuing play. I did not understand this reasoning, as misconduct can be penalized at any time, ball in or out of play (a foul cannot be given if the throw had not occurred, but a caution might, I assume).

My instincts tell me that the referee should only stop play if he actually sees the ball brought across touch illegally. If he was distracted or obstructed from viewing the play, he should allow play to continue, especially in a critical, goal scoring situation, and consult the linesman during play or at a stoppage, rather than guess. A wrong guess to stop play has more consequence than a wrong guess to continue, which can be recovered from, unless I am missing something.

We learn a lot from your advice, especially when it addresses an experience we have been through. Thank you very much.

USSF answer (June 24, 2004):
If the referee was able to see the assistant referee (what you call the “linesman”), the official who actually signaled the throw-in, then there is no excuse for not looking to the AR again for confirmation, rather than making a mistake by stopping play for the wrong reason.

In any event, what should mystify you is why the referee would feel that he had to “see the throw-in” since the main purpose of this restart is to get the ball back on the field and this was apparently accomplished. Trust the AR to indicate if there had been anything seriously wrong with it.


HANGING ON THE CROSSBAR [LAW 12]
Your question:
I noticed in a Euro Cup game a player could have headed the ball from going into the net had he been able to jump up and wrap his hands around the top of the crossbar. Is there some FIFA law I missed that prohibits hanging on the crossbar to head the ball?

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
Players are not allowed to use any portion of the field or its appurtenances (such as the goal or the corner posts) as an aid in playing either the ball or against another player. To do so is to bring the game into disrepute. The penalty for that is a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior. If the ball was still in play, the correct restart is an indirect free kick for the opposing team.


LENGTH OF SUSPENSION [ADMIN]
Your question:
In a co-ed league I am in, I was red carded for dissenting a call made by the ref. Besides the fact that I disagreed with the call, if anything I should have been given a yellow, the league suspended me for two games. I asked why I was being suspended beyond the ‘normal’ one game suspension and the league director answered this is no ‘normal’ one game suspension and that many players assume this. Can you provide some insight on this please?

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
We will not debate the call, as there is not enough information. The length of a normal suspension is one game, but the league may increase this at its pleasure.


SHOW THE CARD, REF!! [LAW 12]
Your question:
Must a player be shown a card to be officially ³cautioned² or yellow-carded during a game? Asked another way, if the referee does not show a card to the player or coaches, can the referee put into his report later that a card was issued?

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
The referee should show the card at any caution or send-off; however, if the referee fails to show the card, the caution or send-off is still valid and must be reported to the competition authority.


POSITION IS EVERYTHING IN LIFE [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Is it legal for let’s say a forward who doesn’t have possession of the ball to block (to stand in the defender’s way and not let him through) a defender who’s trying to get to an opposing team member who does have the ball?

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
The answer depends on what you mean by “stand in the defender’s way Š.” All players have a right to a place on the field. If a player establishes that place first, then the fact that an opponent might want to go somewhere and the player is in the way is just bad luck on the opponent’s part. If a player steps into the path of the opponent who is already moving and the ball is nowhere within playing distance, then the player is impeding (an indirect free kick foul) if his action forces the opponent to stop, swerve, or slow down. If the player actually makes contact with the opponent, this could be a direct free kick foul.

As with many things in soccer, the main issue is who establishes first a course of play.


USING THE WHISTLE [LAW 18]
Your question:
I am a ref and during a recent assessment I had, I was told that the use of whistle is not necessary after a goal is scored. The following is the mechanics I follow after a goal is scored:
1. I look at my AR and confirm the goal
2. Point to the center of the field and whistle
3. Move to center for the kick-off

I did review the USSF ” Guide to Procedures for Referees, AR and Fourth Officials” and it does not mention the use of whistle after a goal. In my opinion it seems that the use of the whistle and the hand signal is a good way of indicating to all players that the goal is legal and the ball should go to the kick-off location for a restart.

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
While the use of a whistle to signal that play is stopped following the scoring of a goal is not required, it is certainly helpful. Your mechanics following a possible goal seem fine to us‹and completely traditional.

The assessor, of course, is technically correct, but is not seeing the forest for the trees. The intent of the Guide’s advice about the use of the whistle is to emphasize that, in general, the less often the whistle is used unnecessarily, the more likely it will have the desired effect of gaining the attention of players when it is necessary.


TRIPPING OR LEGAL TACKLE? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
2. Tackling [for source, see below]
A tackle as such is not an infringement of the Laws of the Game. It becomes an infringement only if the tackler plays carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force, or places his opponent in danger. (a) A sliding tackle from the front or side, made with one or both legs, is permissible if, in the opinion of the referee, it is not dangerous. If, however, the player making the tackle trips his opponent before, during, or after making contact with the ball, the referee shall award a direct free kick to the opposing team. The referee must judge whether an illegal trip occurred or whether the opponent fell over the leg of the player making a legal tackle.

If a player makes a slide tackle from behind and contacts the ball, but then contacts the attackers feet and the attacker trips, would this be considered a foul? We had this discussion at our local referees association meeting, and I commented that I would call a foul because the attacker would not necessarily see the defender coming which may risk the attackers safety, and because of the slide being from behind it is very difficult to not trip the attacker if the defenders leg hooks around to contact the ball first, then the motion continues through to contact the feet even though unintentional. What would you call in this situation??

What is the interpretation/example of an illegal trip in the situation above?

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
The answer you seek is based on the opinion of the referee in each individual case. The only guidance we can give is already included in the text you cite from the USSF publication “Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players”: “The referee must judge whether an illegal trip occurred or whether the opponent fell over the leg of the player making a legal tackle.” The referee would certainly call a foul if the tackling player lifted either foot after making the clean tackle or otherwise deliberately interfered with the opponent.

Let us emphasize that, in making these decisions, the “bar” must be set even higher when the tackle occurs from behind (outside the peripheral vision) of the target. And for this reason, the punishments must be higher when an illegal tackle does occur.


TOO MANY PLAYERS IN KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [LAW 18]
Your question:
What is the procedure if you realize after the kicks have been taken and a winner is determined that one of the players participating in the kicks was not in the game when it ended and the kicks began and that player was on the winning team.

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
Abandon the game and report all the facts to the competition authority.


HOW MANY ANGELS? [LAW 18]
Your question:
I happened to review the 2004 7 + 7 Cautionable and Sending Off Offenses memorandum (both amateur and professional), and the 2004 Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players (Regional and National Cup Competitions and Tournaments) memorandum in the same time frame. There seems to be a discrepancy between the documents regarding a manditory caution for removal of the shirt in celebration of a goal.

The 7 + 7 states that it is mandatory to caution a player who “Removes the jersey after scoring a goal” (1n). there is specific reference to the goal scorer.

The Instructions for Referees…states “If a player removes his shirt to celebrate a goal, he must be cautioned…” (22 (b)) There is no specific reference to the goal scorer.

Therefore, the Instructions for Referees…makes it manditory to caution all players who remove their shirts, not just the goal scorer. The 7 + 7 makes it manditory to caution only the goal scorer, with the possibility of discretionary cautions being issued to players other than the goal scorer.

Please clarify the apparent discrepancy.

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
In the traditions of the sport and embedded in the language of the Law itself is the notion that teams score goals, not individual players. Accordingly, when the Law or the International F. A. Board refers to a player scoring a goal, it does not necessarily intend for only that player to be the focus of concern. Americans might have said “after a goal is scored” and would mean what the Board intended.

Thus, despite the otherwise slight differences in the language used in these sources, what is meant is that any player who takes a shirt off in celebration of a goal is to be cautioned. Remember, the objective is to reduce the wasting of time through excessive celebrations, and this applies to the player who put the ball into the net and any of his or her teammates.


PLAYERS SENT OFF IN OPEN CUP PLAY [ADMIN]
Your question:
Two players were sent off in an open cup game that was abandoned in the first half. May they play in the mandatory replay of the match?

USSF answer (June 18, 2004):
An official USSF question and answer of August 16, 1999, does not allow a player sent off in a game that MUST BE REPLAYED to participate in the replay.
PLAYER SENT OFF IN ABANDONED GAME THAT MUST BE REPLAYED IN FULL
Q. A game has been abandoned because of severe weather conditions. During the game, a player was sent off and received a red card for serious foul play. The rules of the competition specify that the game must be replayed in full on the following day. In other words, it is not to be a continuation of the abandoned game. May the player who was sent off participate in this game? How many players may his team use?

A. Because the game will be replayed in full at a later date, both teams may start with the maximum allowable number of players, plus the number of substitutes prescribed by the rules of the competition. The player who was sent off in the abandoned game may not participate in the game, nor may he be included in the roster of players and nominated substitutes for the game.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
A referee disallowed a goal due to offsides. The situation was similar to the picture on page 49 of the Laws of the Game 2003/2004 book used at the grade 8 course. The difference was that the ball did not rebound off the keeper directly to the player who was in the offside position when the ball was played by his teammate. The offside player had to pursue the ball which stayed near the keeper when it rebounded. During the few seconds that elapsed between the ball being originally played by his teammate and the time it took for the offside player to get to the ball, two defenders had moved closer to their goal and the orginally offside player who scored the goal was no longer in an offside position. The coach of the offending team stated that the goal should be allowed since at the moment the original offside player finally played the ball, the two defenders who arrived eliminated the offsides. I disagree with the coach.

USSF answer (June 17, 2004):
You 1, Coach 0.


GOALKEEPER CAP [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I need some clarification as to what constitutes a legal goalkeeper’s cap. Yesterday the official denied me the use of a baseball cap to shield my eyes from the 107°F Arizona sun at 6pm. He stated that it was a hard-brimmed hat & therefore illegal. I obeyed his wishes, but told him I felt he was wrong. I have lost count how many times I have seen keepers from Kasey Keller to Ray Clemence to Oliver Kahn wearing a ball cap under extreme conditions. The old cabbie hats seen worn by many a past keeper even have some shape to it!

I can understand a hard brim such as a hard hat, pith helmet, officer’s dress hat, batting helmet etc. being considered a hard brim, but just because a baseball cap has cardboard in it does not classify it as “hard-brimmed”. The brim will bend. That is why baseball players wear a batting helmet at bat.

The excuse the official gave that it was considered dangerous because if I came out on a cross & my brim could hit a forward in the nose & break it was pretty far-fetched! Anything is possible, but us goalkeepers tend to use our hands to catch the ball. That striker would have to be seriously impeding the keeper for him to be THAT close! I also pointed out that the keeper’s safety has to be taken into consideration if he cannot see a shot taken right at his head because the sun is in his eyes. You cannot effectively shield your eyes with your hand & be expected to make a catch at the same time. Mind you the ref wore a cap & sunglasses, rightfully earning the fans’ taunts calling him blind in jest!

In my 30 years of playing I have never had this be an issue until yesterday, & I can find nothing in Law 4 that prohibits a ball cap. It says a soft-brimmed HAT or cap. In my opinion, it states the HAT must be soft-brimmed. A cap is a totally different animal & not a hat.

USSF answer (June 16, 2004):
The USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” advises referees:
QUOTE
4.4 GOALKEEPER UNIFORMS AND EQUIPMENT
Under Law 4, goalkeepers must wear a jersey color distinct from the players of both teams. In addition, goalkeepers traditionally wear items of clothing besides those prescribed under Law 4. These items include soft hats or caps, gloves, pants with special hip or thigh pads, jerseys with pads along the elbows and arms, and separate pads for knees or elbows. There is no problem as long as these items of clothing do not present a danger to any players, are of a color distinct from the uniforms of players of either team and are, in the opinion of the referee, clearly related to the goalkeeper’s function. The referee should prevent any player other than the goalkeeper from wearing an item of clothing or equipment that is permitted to the goalkeeper under these criteria.

If the two goalkeepers’ shirts are the same color and neither has another shirt to change into, the referee shall allow the match to proceed.
END OF QUOTE

Traditionally the goalkeeper is allowed to wear a soft-billed cap, but there are few of those around any longer and baseball caps are generally allowed. However, the referee is the sole judge of the permissibility of these items, which must meet the requirement in Law 4 that it not be dangerous to any player. For other guidance, refer to the USSF memorandum of March 7, 2003, on player equipment.

Preventing a goalkeeper from wearing a baseball cap is overworking the principle of safety. Some referees get hung up on this matter by the term “baseball cap” and they fail to recognize the difference between the “baseball cap” worn by batters, which is rigid plastic (and clearly not permissible in a soccer match), and the “baseball cap” which is cloth with a cardboard stiffened brim. Sometime somewhere they have heard from someone that “baseball caps” are not allowed and they now lump all of them together . . . instead of using their head.

2004 Part 2

NO HIP CHECKING ALLOWED [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Is hip checking legal while two players are running down the field, competing for the ball?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
“Hip checking” in any form is never legal. There are not two sets of rules, one for men and one for women. A fair charge is shoulder to shoulder, not hip to hip. Laying hands on the other player’s hips, as in basketball, is considered to be either pushing or holding and is also not legal.


STICK TO THE LAWS OF THE GAME [LAW 18]
Your question:
I was reffing a U-19 boys game. Team A had a full roster of players but Team B played with 8 field players plus a Goalkeeper. With about 15 minutes remaining in the second half Team B was down 8-1. By the way they were playing you could tell that they did not care about the match anymore.  A good amount players and coach asked me to stop the match. As a referee is it my decision to stop a match for the respect of the game? Should I talk to the coaches and see if they have a problem? What should I do in this situation?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
If this were a match in competitive play (but not recreational), the answer is no, the referee may not stop play, shorten the half, or shorten the game length overall under these circumstances.

However, if the match were recreational and it was clear that one or both teams were no longer interested in competing, the referee could inform the coaches that play would have to be stopped if either team failed to field the minimum number of players (7 in most cases). The referee would have to provide details in the game report and the competition authority would have to decide the outcome, but at least the teams would have found a way out of their difficulties.

The difference between these two situations is that, in competitive play, it would be entirely inappropriate and unprofessional for the referee to offer such information (unless specifically asked).


TO TERMINATE OR NOT TO TERMINATE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
In a Latino match, a player in the second half Struck the referee after being sent off for violent conduct. The referee was not badly injured and was able to finish out the game. In this event, would you just abandon the game at that point? Or would you continue the match to the end?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
The primary concern for the referee under such conditions is to determine if the match could continue without endangering the safety of all participants, including the officials. In all events, the referee must submit full details in the match report. The type of competition and the ethnicity of the players make absolutely no difference.


DIAGONAL VS. DUAL SYSTEM [LAW 5; LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
Due to limited funds (we are told), our local Comp. Soccer group will only pay for one center and one AR per game. I have been told that we may not use a dual center system due to 1) Not USSF sanctioned and 2) Against USSF insurance. We have used Dual Centers in our High School games and really enjoy having the chance to work ARs in center position for experience plus having the extra eyes and control on field.

So what can be done to help move such a limited funded Comp. league or the USSF to sanction dual centers? Or what is the real story?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
This answer of May 2003 may provide some guidance. Because your competition is “competitive,” it must assign three officials to the game if it is affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation through any member organization (USASA, USYS, AYSO, SAY). One possibility not mentioned here is assigning one referee, one assistant referee, and having a volunteer club linesman (who is permitted to indicate only that the ball is out of play and can offer no other assistance to the referee).

START LENGTHY QUOTE
USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
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. You can find the information you need in the Referee Administrative Handbook:
QUOTE
POLICY:

Systems of Officiating 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 national competitions sponsored by the U.S. Soccer Federation. require the use of this officiating system.

In order to comply with the Laws of the Game which have been adopted by the National Council, all soccer games sanctioned directly or indirectly by member organizations of the U. S. Soccer Federation must employ the diagonal system (three officials). As a matter of policy, the National Referee Committee prefers the following alternatives in order of preference:

1. One Federation referee and two Federation referees as assistant referees (the standard ALL organizations should strive to meet).

2. One Federation referee and two assistant referees, one of whom is a Federation referee and one of whom is a trainee of the local referee program.

3. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are both unrelated to either team participating in the game but are not Federation referees, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).

4. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are not both Federation referees and who are affiliated with the participating teams, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).

Member organizations and their affiliates should make every effort to assist in recruiting officials so that enough Federation referees will be available to permit use of the diagonal officiating system for ALL their competitions.
END OF QUOTE

If only two officials turn up at the field, one must be the referee (with the whistle), while the other becomes an assistant referee (outside the field with the flag). They split the field between them, but only one may make the final decisions and blow the whistle.
END LENGTHY QUOTE


DETERMINING POSITION FOR RESTART ON OFFSIDE [LAW 11; LAW 18]
Your question:
From “Questions and Answers to the Laws of the Game”:
Law 11 – Offside
5. A player moving quickly toward his opponent’s goal is penalized for an offside offense. From what position is the resulting indirect kick taken?
The kick is taken from his position when the ball was last played to him by one of his teammates.

My question: The correction position for an AR while the ball is in play is even with the second-to-last defender or the ball, whichever is closer to the goals line. What are the proper mechanics to indicate the offside infraction and then to indicate the proper position of the resulting indirect kick when the distance between the original AR’s position and the offending attacker is significant?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
After giving the proper flag signal to the referee to indicate the area of the field, the assistant referee (AR) may then indicate to the kicking team approximately where the offending player was when the player’s teammate last played the ball.

Indicating the location of the restart is not among the AR’s responsibilities under Law 6. Whether the AR supplies such information and how such information is supplied should be determined by the referee and discussed in the pregame. In general, however, indicating the location of the restart after an offside decision should not detract from the AR’s other duties–particularly the need to be in the proper position for the restart itself.


RUNNING THE BALL TO THE GOAL LINE [LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
My question deals with when an AR makes the signal for a goal kick or corner kick. Is it when they know who last touched the ball or must they run to the corner before they can signal? I was told this weekend by a referee who has been to several national referee camps that she was told that the AR cannot signal until they reach the corner flag. Thus, when the AR is positioned correctly, even with the second to last defender, at the 25 yard line and a hard shot is taken, the referee if not sure who touched it last, must wait until the AR reaches the corner and signals. This can take a couple of seconds and the players look to the referee to make the call. Having to wait the second or two results in the referee looking indecisive — not being able to make up his mind.

The referee insisted that this is the correct procedure even though she couldn’t show it to me in the procedures handbook. I contacted my SRA and he said that there is no reason for the AR to wait until they reach the corner to make the signal. She still insisted that the AR has to continue to the corner flag and then make the signal, because that is what they were taught at the national camp.

I’m also an USSF instructor and have seen nothing concerning a change in the procedures that we are to teach. Could you please clarify this for me? This is the second referee this spring that has mentioned this new (?) procedure.

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
Theoretically, the assistant referee (AR) is expected to run each and every ball all the way to the goal line. Why? To ensure that it is not touched by the goalkeeper before it leaves the field or that it does not stop on the way, becoming playable by others. However, practicality is a different matter: the AR stops on the line as soon as it becomes obvious that the ball has left the field and that a goal kick is the restart, signals the restart at the location (maybe several yards up from the goal line), and then, once the referee has responded appropriately, begins to take the position set forth in the Guide to Procedures for a goal kick restart.


CELEBRATING THE SCORING OF A GOAL [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
With the advent of the new FIFA guidance on removing of shirts (and I was pleased to see MLS enforcement in the 6/5 Dallas-Metrostars game) led me to question some of the actions we do see, at all levels. I have also seen and admit doing some of my own interpretation relative to taunting [or] unsporting behavior. At different levels of play we judge the actions accordingly. However, rather than doing my own interpretation, does USSF have published guidance beyond time wasting? I’ll provide some examples below and other than “inappropriate behavior” (I recall the leg-lift example at a corner flag), any other guidance would be welcomed.

a) Recognizing the joy of scoring, it is easy to excuse some celebration but where do we draw line? Personally, I don’t like the demonstrations where a player runs to a corner and points to the stands, but seems to be acceptable. b) Team celebration — congratulations directed to the goal scorer and the assistance definitely is in order. Team “staged” celebrations is a bit much and again what is appropriate. I have witnessed a very respected center official issue a USB Yellow to the team captain for a staged event and NFHS has indicated that this is a form of taunting. c) Individual “staged” celebration — this comes very close to a team staged event, but I have seen defenders do cartwheels as part of goal celebration. Again, another official decided to give the coach a warning (not a caution) about the team taunting their opponent. Later, in the same game, the defenders apparently didn’t get the word and the captain was given a card. I later learned that the coach was also written up for USB.

Naturally, we all have seen behavior that simply is ignored. If the celebration tends to be directed toward the goal scorer and is not consuming an inordinate amount time, I am quite comfortable with back-pedaling to my center position and simply observe. I am also quite comfortable of quietly suggesting we continue and believe I can rightly judge taunting from the celebration. However, the staged events seem to cross the line and hope to find some guidance to share with my local association as well as use for myself. Thanks.

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
As of July 1, 2004, a player must be cautioned for unsporting behavior when he completely removes his shirt over his head. Celebrating a goal is an accepted part of soccer. A caution is only warranted if a player gives an excessive demonstration of jubilation: by removing his shirt (as of July 1, 2004), jumping over the boundary fence, gesticulating at his opponents or spectators, ridiculing them by pointing to his shirt, or similar provocative action.

Nowhere in the Laws of the Game do we find anything about team cautions or cautioning the captain for the team’s misdoings. There is certainly nothing about cautioning the coach, who is either dismissed for irresponsible behavior or warned or ignored. Those are concepts from high school soccer, which is not played according to the Laws of the Game.


OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Now the question I am asking happened in a u-10 rec game but it never the less made me think what would I call if it happened in a adult game or u-15 game. I have been looking in the advice to referees book and found the examples of obvious goal scoring opportunities but not if it isn’t a obvious opportunity i the box. The situation was: The player was going sideways in the box with the intentions of getting by the traffic then being able to turn and shoot to the goal, about twenty feet out, with lots of players in between. Now I have learned that because their is more than one defender between the person with the ball and the goal so I know that it’s not a send off. The defender reaches out from behind the offensive player with the ball and pulls on the back of his shirt to slow him down, so he can’t get around to get a shot off. I didn’t give a caution because it wasn’t a goal scoring opportunity, in my opinion, allthough if he hadn’t been slowed down he would have made the turn and got a nice shot off without any players except the keeper in the way. Should I have given a Penalty kick for the holding because it happened in the box?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
First things first: Please remember that there is no such thing as a caution for attempting to deny an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

Without getting fully into the 4Ds and the other details of dealing with obvious goalscoring opportunities, it is clear that because of the presence of another defender, there was no obvious opportunity. However, despite the lack of an obvious goalscoring opportunity, the referee may still deal with player misconduct. Blatant holding, such as you describe, is unsporting behavior and requires a caution and yellow card. The referee should caution the player and then award the penalty kick for the holding in the penalty area.


GOAL OR NOT? [LAW 10; LAW 18]
Your question:
In a recent local Under 12 match, a Grade 8 referee pressed into service as a last hour fill-in did not check the position of the goals prior to the match. They were placed several feet back of the end line. During the match, a shot from outside the penalty area entered the net. The defending team complained that the ball was out of bounds. Upon closer inspection, the referee realized that the goal was not at the goal line, and for the ball to cross in front of the uprights it had to be out of bounds. The referee disallowed the goal based on the perceived angle from which the shot was taken and restarted with a goal kick after moving the goal to the correct position. Correct call or no?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
Call correct. The ball had left the field and was thus out of play before it was shot. No goal; restart with goal kick–provided the attacking team had last played the ball before it went over the goal line. However, that does not excuse the referee’s major error in not doing his or her duties before the game. No matter when called into service, the referee must conduct a full inspection of the field and its appurtenances.


REFEREE BADGES [ADMIN]
Your question:
Why are there not different badges for the intermediate grade levels such as Grade 7 and Grade 5?

USSF answer (June 14, 2004):
There are not different badges because the various titles are set up as two different grades of the same classification. For example, 8 and 7 are both referee classifications (Referee Class 2 and Referee Class 1 are both “referees”), 6 and 5 (State Referee Class 2 and State Referee Class 1) are both state referee classifications and for that matter, 4 and 3 are both national referee classifications. The referee committee has reviewed this suggestion in the past and it has been decided that we already order enough different badges. The more sorts of badges increases the possibility that someone is going to get the wrong one. The important thing here is the role the grades play in the upgrade process–being better able to identify what referees are where–not what kind of badge they have.


GETTING THE REQUIRED DISTANCE [LAW 13; LAW 18]
Your question:
As I understand it, a free kick awarded to a team is a kick to be taken “free of interference” hence the mandatory minimum 10 yards distance. Teams rarely give the required distance sometime until the offended teams demanded it. Whenever I am required to enforce the minimum distance, I usually give 12 to 13 yards from the spot of the ball. I based my rationale on the fact that the requirement calls for “at least” 10 yards (it can be any distance but not less that 10yards), and also that the teams should further be penalized for not giving the automatic 10 yards minimum required distance.

My question here is am I correct to give 12 to 13 yards?

USSF answer (June 9, 2004):
You can ask for 12-13 yards, but all the Law allows you to enforce is 10 yards. In any event, the Law already provides “further penalties” for failing to give the minimum distance: it’s called a caution for failing to give the minimum distance.


REFEREE JERSEY COLORS [ADMIN; LAW 18]
Your question:
Is there an order of precedence in the wearing of the four colors of referee jersey? I have been told that because gold was mentioned first in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH), and also named as the “primary” color, it MUST be worn before any other colors unless there is a color conflict with the teams. If an alternate was to be worn, the order must be black, then red, and finally blue. In other words, the color order is 1) gold, 2) black, 3) red, and 4) blue.

Is there a new protocol which gives an order in which the shirts must be used?

USSF answer (June 9, 2004):
Referees are free to wear whichever shirt they like, provided it does not cause a color conflict with one of the teams and also provided each member of the crew wears the same color.

The order given in the RAH is solely one of convenience; it reflects the order in which the new jerseys were introduced and has no other, more significant meaning. “Primary” in the RAH means only that the gold jersey is the one that every referee must have, as it is least likely to conflict with player jerseys. It does not mean that referees must wear it in preference to the other colors.


PLAYER JERSEY COLORS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
Law 4 states: ³each goalkeeper wears colors which distinguish him from the other players, the referee and the assistant referees.²

My question; how much difference is required? If the referee will admit to perceiving and distinguishing a difference through observation, isn¹t the goalkeeper¹s jersey within regulation and therefore perfectly legal? In that situation, wouldn¹t the referee be forced to allow the goalkeeper to wear the jersey?

My situation is that when the team wears jerseys that are completely white (except for the number and club logo), my Keeper wants to wear a jersey that is white with very wide black vertical stripes. Not only has the keeper been forced to wear a different jersey, but the referee actually told me that the opposing coach had asked the referee to enforce the change!  My belief is that the goalkeeper should not have been forced to change, what do you think?

Also, I believe that goalkeepers should have a number, just like every other player is required to do. Are goalkeepers allowed to play without numbers?

USSF answer (June 9, 2004):
It is not only the referee, but also the other team that needs to be able to distinguish between the two teams and their goalkeepers. As to demands that the referee “do” something, let us lay out the ground rules clearly: The coach has only one right, and that is to remain in his or her team’s area unless his or her behavior becomes irresponsible, in which case the coach will be ordered to leave.

Given that limitation on rights, no coach has any right to demand anything in a game. A coach may point out that an opposing player’s clothing might cause confusion, but, unless the referee believes there is a rational basis for the request, there is no reason to implement it. Only the referee on the game will know whether or not the colors of the two teams and of the two goalkeepers are distinguishable from one another. There is no color scale for referees; only their common sense.

The Laws of the Game do not require numbers for any player. Numbers are a requirement of the competition in which the player plays. Check the local rules.


WHEN IS A “FOUL” NOT A FOUL? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In the UEFA Cup (Valencia vs Marseilles) a few weeks back, an attacker was on a full break away.  The keeper approached the attacker.  The attacker chipped the ball over the keeper, who was diving to stop the play.  The keeper up-ended the attacker.  A foul was called, an the keeper was sent-off, presumably for preventing a goal-scoring opportunity.

In an MLS game (DC vs NE, May 29th), a very similar situation occurred, with the attacker going down due to contact with the keeper, after the ball had been chipped over the keeper.  No foul or card was indicated.

I could not see any significant difference in the plays to explain the extreme difference in the outcome.  Given the respect due the center for the UEFA game, I believe his call was correct.  Any insight?

Also, in your May 20 response about Dangerous Play vs Kicking, you wrote that kicking “overrules” dangerous play – and I agree.  However, Referee Magazine (June 2004 page 50) wrote that FIFA, NFHS, and NCAA agree that the Dangerous Play takes precedence, as it “occurs first”.  Comments?

I always find your responses enlightening, and often amusing.

USSF answer (June 3, 2004):
1. It is always dangerous to compare situations in one country or competition with those of another. No way that we can give an opinion on this. In fact, it is possible, at least in theory, that the UEFA situation was a foul and the MLS situation was not. That is certainly so in the opinion of the respective referees. After all, just because the attackers hit the ground in both events doesn’t mean that the upending was caused in both cases by a foul.

2. Courtesy of Jamey Walter of “Referee” magazine, here is the question that troubles our interlocutor: A7 attempts a diving header in Team B’s penalty area on a ball that is near the ground. B6, attempting to clear the ball, kicks A7. If the referee determines that A7 was playing in a dangerous manner, what is the restart?

The correct answer, based on the question, is that the restart is precisely as “Referee” states, an indirect free kick for B6’s team.

It is incorrect to say that a direct free kick foul “overrules” the indirect free kick foul of “playing dangerously. In normal situations of this sort, the referee’s only choice is to punish the player who created and/or carried out the illegal play. For example: A player kicking at a high ball that another player is trying to head thus puts the heading player in a dangerous position. If the kicking player then makes contact with the opponent, there can be no call of “playing dangerously.” The kicking player should be called for kicking an opponent and the restart would be a direct free kick.


DON’T PUNISH THE GOALKEEPER UNDESERVEDLY! [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Team A is attacking and Team B is defending.  Team A has a shot that rebounds off of Team B’s Keeper to a defender on Team B.  The defender kicks it back at the goalie who grabs the ball before it goes into the net.  The pass from the defender was intentional.  There was an attacker from Team A standing next to the keeper in an onsides position because another defender was on the far post.  The keeper was a foot of his line and all of the action happened inside the goal area.  I determined that it was an obvious goal scoring opportunity, but did not feel it warranted a send off so I only cautioned the keeper.  I also awarded a PK because of the obvious goal scoring opportunity and the handling by the keeper after an intentional pass by his teammate.  After looking over the Law Book and thinking about it I am leaning toward a send off and an IFK.  Team A did not score on the PK.  So I do not feel bad if I made the wrong call, but I would like to know what the correct call is.

USSF answer (June 3, 2004):
While you did make the mistake of cautioning the goalkeeper undeservedly, thank goodness you did not send him off. A goalkeeper may not be sent off for using his hands to deny the opposing team a goal within his own penalty area. (Such punishment is specifically excluded in Law 12‹”this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area.”) The only possible punishment the referee can mete out in this situation is to award an indirect free kick to the opponents, to be taken from the place where the goalkeeper touched the ball. As this happened within the goal area, the kick would be taken at the nearest spot on the goal area line parallel to the goal line.

And the intelligent referee might not punish the deed at all, provided there were opponents nearby to challenge for the ball and, in the opinion of the referee, the defender kicked the ball to the goalkeeper out of panic, rather than in an effort to waste time. (Preventing time wasting is why the rule was introduced in the first place.)


THERMAL PANTS [LAW 4]
Your question:
what is the USSF position on field players (not goalies) who want to wear ‘thermal’ pants, skin tight, under their shorts and socks? They usually are the same color as the shorts. My second question is the USSF position on what the AR’s should be doing during a substitution with their flags? Some people say that the common practice of holding the flag up, unraveled toward the ground, is being discouraged, but I haven’t found anything on this matter.

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
1. Players are permitted to wear visible undergarments such as thermopants. They must, however, be the same color as the shorts of the team of the player wearing them and not extend beyond the top of the knee. Thus, thermal undergarments that run continuously from waist to foot are not allowed.

2. Once the referee has recognized the assistant referee’s signal, the AR should lower the flag to the side closer to the halfway line and await the restart. You will find this information in the new USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees.” There is no change here from previous editions.


ATTACKING THE REFEREE [LAW 5; LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I play in an amateur league and in our game tonight one of our players was involved in a tackle going for the ball, the other player kicked him in the head as they were falling. Our player got up grabbed the ball and acted as if he was going to hit the player with it, he went through the motion but never threw the ball. I believe the ref didn’t see the fact that he didn’t actually throw the ball and gave him a red. Our coach asked him to consult with his linesman. When he did he changed his call and gave him a yellow instead, the opposing team was furious and one of their players bumped the ref, he then showed him a red card. This made matters worse and one of the players tried to kick the ball at the ref but it hit the linesman’s face, at this point the ref called the game off so one of the opposing players kicked him above the knee with his cleats causing a wound to develop and the ref’s leg to be bleeding.
Question
1. Can the referee take back his decision to give a red upon consulting with his linesman?
2. What type of action should be taken when you “act” like you are going to throw the ball at a player?
3. At what point does a ref fell he/she should call the game off?

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
Given that the circumstances are as you describe them, here are some answers.
1. Provided that the referee has not allowed the game to be restarted, a decision to send off a player may be changed.
2. The overt threat of throwing the ball at another player amounts to attempted striking and is a direct free kick and at least a caution for unsporting behavior. Depending on circumstances, it could be considered as a threat of physical violence and would then be punishable by a dismissal and red card; in that case the referee should act immediately to isolate the guilty party and remove him or her from the game.
3. There is no black-or-white answer to this question. Only the referee on the spot can make that judgment. We might suggest that if the referee cannot stop the jostling and other abuse by players, the game should be terminated.


FAILURE TO RESPECT . . . [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Situation: The ref has awarded a direct free kick to the attacking team two yards outside the box near the ³D². The attacking team has requested the ref move the defenders back the requisite ten yards and the ref has done so. The ref has just blown the whistle for the kick to be taken. One of the defenders in the wall rushes the kicker prior to the kick being taken. The ref allows the kick to be taken (in fact, the misconduct and the kick occurred within split-seconds). The kick goes directly to the keeper, at which time the ref stops play, shows the yellow for Failure to Respect the Required Distance, and has the kick re-taken from the same spot.
The ref explained that he allowed the play to proceed (i. e., purposely did not stop play while the ball was in midflight) to determine whether the kick was successful. Had it been, he was have cautioned the misconduct at the stoppage following the goal. Since it was not successful, he stopped play once the keeper had gathered in the shot, showed the yellow and had the free kick retaken.

Was this the correct resolution?

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
Because the two incidents occurred so closely in time, the issue would be whether the rush forward (which seems much more cynical that simply being too close) made a difference in the outcome of the kick. And this, under the Law, would require the referee to allow the kick to proceed. If the rush forward made no difference in the outcome of the kick, caution at the next stoppage; if it made a difference, stop play immediately, caution, and restart with a retake.


DURATION OF THE GAME [LAW 7]
Your question:
We played a tournament game today and were leading 2-1 near the end of the game. With about 15 seconds to go, a ball was played into our penalty area and the AR raised his flag for a handling of the ball violation. The referee did not see the AR’s flag and blew his whistles two times and signaled the end of the game. The opposing team argued with the referee. After talking with the AR, the referee called for a PK. The PK was taken and the opposing team scored. The game ended tied 2-2.  Is it correct to extend time for a PK after the referee already whistled an end to the game?

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
Because the infringement occurred before the referee had ended the game, the referee was correct in accepting the assistant referee’s information. If a penalty kick is awarded before the game has ended, time must be extended to complete the penalty kick.


TACKLES FROM BEHIND AND SLIDING TACKLES [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I am the parent of a challenge player that won the State Cups this past weekend. I’m letting you know we won the State Cups so that you realize I’m not a disgruntled parent whose child lost a game.

Rest assured that my son is a tough and aggressive player that can handle the physical play involved in Challenge and Classic soccer.  He got up from the tackle (this time) and stayed in the game.  Slide tackling is a good and fair part of the game when it’s done legally.  My concern is the tolerance for slide tackling by a defensive player that is clearly trailing the play.  On one occasion during the season, one situation in the [name removed] Cup and one in the State Finals he was blatantly slide tackled from behind (by the way, we won all three games).  This leads me to believe that it needs to be addressed with ALL officials not just an individual.  I know there are some close calls (and we had many of these during the season) where the officials must make a judgement call.  None of these three situations fits that description.  These were all desperate attempts by a defender to prevent a goal.  Only in one situation was the defender even talked to by the official.  There was not a yellow or red card issued in any of these three instances.  Unless the officials take a tougher stance on this type of play it will only continue.  The teams/coaches/parents and players must get the message that the penalty will be more severe than a PK.  My son and other kids risk severe injuries from the abusive tripping/slide tackling that shouldn’t be tolerated.

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
What follows this paragraph is what we teach our referees. Unfortunately, that does not always mean that they put it into practice correctly. This response will be copied to the State Director of Referee Instruction of your state, so that the message comes through that the Federation is also concerned about this matter.

A slide tackle is legal, provided it is performed legally. There is nothing illegal about a slide tackle by itself‹no matter where it is done and no matter the direction from which it comes. In other words, it is not an infringement to tackle fairly from behind‹if there was no foul committed.

There is nothing illegal, by itself, about sliding tackles or playing the ball while on the ground. These acts become the indirect free kick foul known as playing dangerously (“dangerous play”) only if the action unfairly takes away an opponent’s otherwise legal play of the ball (for players at the youth level, this definition is simplified even more as “playing in a manner considered to be dangerous to an opponent”). At minimum, this means that an opponent must be within the area of danger which the player has created. These same acts can become the direct free kick fouls known as kicking or attempting to kick an opponent or tripping or attempting to trip or tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball only if there was contact with the opponent or, in the opinion of the referee, the opponent was forced to react to avoid the kick or the trip. The referee may warn players about questionable acts of play on the ground, but would rarely caution a player unless the act was reckless.

How can tackles become illegal? There are many ways but two of the most common are by making contact with the opponent first (before contacting the ball) and by striking the opponent with a raised upper leg before, during, or after contacting the ball with the lower leg. Referees must be vigilant and firm in assessing any tackle, because the likely point of contact is the lower legs of the opponent and this is a particularly vulnerable area. We must not be swayed by protests of “But I got the ball, ref” and we must be prepared to assess the proper penalty for misconduct where that is warranted.

FIFA has emphasized the great danger in slide tackles from behind because, if this tackle is not done perfectly, the potential for injury is so much greater. Accordingly, referees are advised that, when a player does commit a foul while tackling from behind, it should not be just a simple foul (e.g., tripping) but a foul and misconduct. The likelihood of danger is greater when the tackle is committed from behind and the probability of a foul having been committed is greater solely for this reason — due in large part to the “can’t prepare for the tackle” element when it comes from an unseen direction. In fact, if the referee decides that the foul while tackling from behind was done in such a way as to endanger the safety of the opponent, the proper action is to send the violator off the field with a red card.

The referee must judge each situation of a tackle from behind individually, weighing the guidelines published by FIFA and the U. S. Soccer Federation, the positions of the players, the way the tackler uses his/her foot or feet, the “temperature” of the game, the age/skill of the players, and the attitude of the players. What might be a caution (yellow card) in this game might be trifling in another game or a send-off (red card) in a third game. To make the proper judgment on such plays, the referee must establish early on a feel for the game being played on this day at this moment and must be alert to sudden changes in the “temperature” of this game. Much depends on the level of play, whether recreational or competitive, skilled or less developed, very young or adult. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.


SHORTS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
Working a question from a league regarding the length of players shorts. Some believe the top of the knee is the limit. Law four does not address this. I thought there was a directive some time back regarding thisŠ I can’t find it.

The following was taken from USSF Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players regarding undergarments:
24. Players’ equipment Š
(b) Players are permitted to wear visible undergarments such as thermopants. They must, however, be the same color as the shorts of the team of the player wearing them and not extend beyond the top of the knee. If a team wears multicolored shorts, the undergarment must be the same color as the predominant color.

It would seem that if the undergarment must be above the top of the knee, then the same logic would apply to the shorts.

Bottom line, is there any restriction on the length of a players shorts.

USSF answer (May 28, 2004):
There is no specific guidance on the length of player shorts. In the past, the International F. A. Board (the people who make the Laws of the Game) included a statement in its “Additional Instructions to Referees” that is now also contained in the annual USSF Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players. That statement deals with the undergarments worn by players, rather than the shorts themselves:
“24. Players’ equipment Š
“(b) Players are permitted to wear visible undergarments such as thermopants. They must, however, be the same color as the shorts of the team of the player wearing them and not extend beyond the top of the knee. If a team wears multicolored shorts, the undergarment must be the same color as the predominant color.”

Historically, player shorts have extended from as low as the top of the calf to not far below the crotch, provided that the waistband is worn at the natural place on the torso. We recommend that player shorts meet the requirement set for thermal undershorts and not go beyond the top of the knee.

There remains the problem of religious concerns. In addition to the player equipment required under Law 4–a jersey or shirt, shorts (if thermal undershorts are worn, they are of the same main color as the shorts), stockings, shinguards, and footwear–the International F. A. Board has recognized that other equipment may also be worn, as long as it is safe for all participants. The most recent USSF memoranda on player equipment were published on September 3, 2003, and March 7, 2003. They can be downloaded from the USSF website. Another memorandum, dated December 22, 2002, states quite clearly that religious clothing (including skirts) may be worn, provided that it is not dangerous to any participants and is not used to distract opponents or to trap or otherwise manipulate the ball.


DECEPTIVE TACTICS BY THE KICKING TEAM [LAW 2; LAW 13; LAW 18]
Your question:
Here’s the situation…basic direct kick after a trip. The offense lines up behind the ball – and one after the other jump over the ball…and get back in line. Finally, the second time the fourth kicker comes to the ball – it is kicked.

Question…unsportsmanlike behavior – or just an interesting way to control the time.

USSF answer (May 27, 2004):
While referees should always allow the team with the ball leeway on deceptive tactics, this seems a bit much. After the first four or five players have jumped over the ball, the referee should call a halt to the parade‹charade?‹and warn the players that any further repetition of this tactic will be regarded as delaying the restart of play‹the official reason for the caution if they failed to heed the referee’s advice.


FEINTING AT A PENALTY KICK [LAW 14; LAW 18]
Your question:
A Penalty Kick was awarded. The kicker runs to take the kick and faked the keeper by kicking over the ball without touching it. When the keeper dove to one side, the kicker kicked the ball to the other side scoring the goal.

The Referee blows the Whistle, may caution the kicker for UB or give him a stern warning and:
1. Award a goal to the attacking team
2. Award a goal kick to the opposing team
3. Re-take the kick
If these are the only choices, which choice is correct? Are there any other choices?

P.S. Yes, if the whistle was sounded before the kick was taken to put the ball into the net, re-take will be in order.

USSF answer (May 27, 2004):
Guidance from the International F. A. Board says that referees should not consider various 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 example you cite, of stepping over the ball, hesitating, and then bringing the foot back again to kick the ball, is a good one. 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 and remains on the field, the kick is not retaken and play continues. If the ball does not enter the goal and leaves the field, the restart is appropriate to the reason the ball left the field.

Finally, kicker violations of Law 14 are not treated any differently from other violations of Law 14 — no caution on first occurrence, caution for persistent infringement only on repetition after a warning.


LEAVING THE FIELD DURING THE COURSE OF PLAY [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
The answer of May 20, 2004, on when players may leave the field of play during the course of play without the referee’s opinion, seems incomplete. Surely there are more reasons than those given?

USSF answer (May 27, 2004):
Yes, the answer was indeed incomplete. Here are some occasions on which the player may leave the field of play without the referee’s permission during the course of play without fear of punishment. Referees and players will be able to think of others, we are sure.
1. To play the ball if there is an obstacle (any players or officials) that prevents normal play.
2. To retrieve the ball and/or put it back into play at a stoppage‹goal kick, corner kick, throw-in, free kick.
3. A player overruns the ball and temporarily leaves the field to get a better angle for kicking the ball.
4. A player steps over the line after playing the ball.
5. A player slips or slides on a wet playing surface.
6. A player steps off the field to stop the ball from going out of play.

7. A player steps off the field to show non-involvement in offside.

The point of emphasis here is that referees should not unnecessarily restrict players. The lines on the field are to show where the ball is in play and where most play should occur. Players are allowed to show their creativity and resiliency both within and without the boundaries. It is when they cross the boundaries for illegal purposes‹something other than to play the ball‹that the referee should become concerned.


WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN INDIRECT AND A DIRECT KICK? [LAW 13; LAW 16, LAW 8, LAW 17] Your question:
What is the difference between an indirect and a direct free kick?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
The USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” tells us:
QUOTE
13.1 FREE KICKS
This restart is called a “free kick” because it may be taken “freely” by the team to which it has been awarded — without interference, hindrance, or delay. Free kicks are awarded for fouls, misconduct, a combination of the two, or offside. A direct free kick is given if play is stopped for a direct free kick foul committed by a player against an opponent on the field of play (except when it is committed by a defender within his own penalty area — see Law 14, Penalty Kick). An indirect free kick is given if play is stopped for any other foul or if play is stopped solely to deal with misconduct committed on the field by a player, or for offside. A free kick may be taken in any direction.
END OF QUOTE

A penalty kick is a direct free kick awarded to the attacking team when an opponent commits a direct free kick foul against one of their players in the opponent’s penalty area.

Corner kicks, kick-offs, and corner kicks are akin to direct free kicks, in that a goal may be scored directly from a corner kick or goal kick or kick-off, but only against the opposing team.


DUTIES AND POWERS OF THE ASSISTANT REFEREE DO NOT INCLUDE . . . [LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
My questions are regarding the actions taken by an AR. In this one scenario, the AR was arguing with a head coach about minor dissent being shown by the coach. While the game was in progress and ball was in play, the AR does not pay attention to his duties and continues arguing with the one coach. The coach decides it is best not to argue and after the game he would talk to the AR about it. At the end of the game, the AR does not like the tone of voice by the coach and displays the red card. The coaches actions were not deserving of a red card, as stated in the 7 “Send-Off” criterion. Everyone has already left the field, but still the red card is displayed by the AR. Is this a valid move by the AR? Does the suspension still apply though it was given in by an invalid official?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
The assistant referee (AR) should never take time away from duties to argue with players, spectators, or team officials, whether the ball is in play or not. Nor may or can an AR show a card to anyone at any time. That is clearly reserved for the referee. And, unless the rules of the competition specify it, no official may show a card to any non-player or substitute.

There can be no suspension without a report from the referee to the appropriate authorities.


NEITHER A VIGILANTE NOR A CRUSADER BE [LAW 18]
Your question:
Two incidents with the same referee. During a game last fall (U14 girls), an opponent’s player was injured. The ref stopped the game and the restart was a drop ball. He ordered our player not to kick at all, just to stand there. In a recent game, one of our players was injured. He allowed play to continue and we kicked the ball out of play. On the restart he ordered our opponents to throw the ball directly to one of our players. I understand that soccer tradition dictates that a team not lose possession due to injury and that in such situations, teams generally play the ball to their opponents. However, I believe that such actions are the decisions of the players and coaches and that officials should never order players to give up possession of the ball and that doing so reflects poorly on the neutrality of the referee. What is your opinion?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
No referee may instruct any player to play the ball in any particular way. While the referee may suggest that it might be sporting to play in a particular way, the referee cannot and must not play the role of “vigilante for fair play.”


“RELIGIOUS JEWELRY” VS. RELIGIOUS JEWELRY [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I have read a number of discussions regarding religious jewelry. The topic of a young girl that had small stud earrings that could not be removed for religious reasons was brought up. Normally no earrings are allowed even if they are taped up. The reasoning is that if struck on the side of the head the stud could be driven into the side of her neck. What is the official stance on this subject. Should she be allowed to play or not?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
We are not aware of any sort of earrings that may not be removed for “religious reasons.” The position of the U. S. Soccer Federation on earrings and other jewelry has been clearly stated in position papers and responses to questions. (It is also the position taken by the International F. A. Board, FIFA, and CONCACAF.) Here is one of the responses from earlier this year:

QUOTE
USSF answer (February 13, 2004):
Beads and other decorative items are not part of the required equipment for players and cannot be sanctioned for wear in competitive play. Law 4 – Player Equipment – tells us:
The basic compulsory equipment of a player is:
– a jersey or shirt
– shorts — if thermal undershorts are worn, they are of the same main color as the shorts
– stockings
– shinguards
– footwear

The referee must enforce the Laws of the Game, particularly as they apply to the safety of players. Law 4 tells us that players must not wear jewelry of any kind. There is only one permissible exception 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. Beads, as decorative items, must be considered as jewelry. They can also be dangerous, particularly at the end of braids. For these reasons, they are not permitted.

If questioned by players, you simply refer them to Law 4. If they do not wish to remove their beads to conform with the Law, inform them that the only alternative to removing the beads or jewelry (or other unauthorized equipment) is not to play at all.

NOTE: 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).”
END OF QUOTE

We might add that simply because an item looks religious in nature, such as an earring in the shape of a cross, does not put the item into the religious jewelry/clothing category. The critical criterion is whether the player’s religion requires that the item be worn. If that is the case, the player must get permission from the state association to wear such an item and the state association must inform any competition in which the player plays of this permission well in advance of the game. Even with this permission, the final decision in this process is made by the referee, who must decide whether item is dangerous to any of the participants.


INTERESTING SITUATION [LAW 11]
Your question:
This came up in a discussion at our weekly referee meeting. It involves a player that has legally gone off the field of play during the flow of play. We were talking about a player in the goal (between the goal posts and into the netting area). Now if a player running off the field to get around a defender or the AR are struck by the ball while they are off the field, but all of the ball has not crossed over the touchline, and the ball bounces back into play, then the ball is still in play and no violation has occurred, right?. But what if this happens to a player standing in the goal? The whole of the ball has not passed under the cross bar, between the goal posts and over the goal line so it can not be a goal. If it is a playable ball, is that player (a member of the attacking team) considered off side? Restart IDK for defending team anywhere in the goal area. If it is a defender, then the ball in play?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
The player who has left the field entirely during the course of play and, while in the goal, prevents his own team’s shot from crossing the goal line completely, has committed no sin. The player would only be considered to be offside if he had been in an offside position and actively involved in play when his teammate shot the ball. That was not the case, so there is no reason to stop play.


DROPPED BALL; SECOND TOUCH [LAW 8; LAW 12]
Your question:
Two real game situations:
1. Drop ball (play stopped because of injured player on team A) – Team A wants to put two – three players up around the referee for the drop ball. to my mind this could result in a rugby game breaking out. Although the illustration in the Laws of the Game shows each team represented at a drop ball and the Advice to Referees says that there is no requirement for both or either team to be present at the spot of a drop ball neither the laws nor the Advice to Referees address the issue of multiple players pressing in. My inclination was to tell the additional players to back off. This did not please the coach. Comments please.

2. Defender attempts to head ball away from goal but flicks it toward the goal. Keep leaps for it and catches it. While still in the air, keeper realizes his momentum will carry him and the ball over the goal line so he releases the ball onto the field about 12 inches in front of the goal line. Landing he steps back onto the field of play and picks up the ball to punt. Should this have been called as a “second touch” and an indirect free kick awarded at the 6 yard line?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
1. The referee may not order any players away from a dropped ball–but the intelligent referee will _suggest_ to the players that the ball will not be dropped until most of them back away. If they ask why, the intelligent referee will say that it is an issue of player safety, because the referee is required by the Laws of the Game to protect players. Surely they will understand.

2. Yes, this is a “second touch” situation and the referee should stop play and award an indirect free kick to the opposing team at the nearest spot on the goal area line parallel to the goal line.


DANGEROUS PLAY? [LAW 12]
Your question:
A player kicks a ball that is approximately even with her shoulder. In doing so, on the follow through, she kicks in the side of the head an opponent who was attempting to play the ball with her head. Is this a kicking offense, resulting in a direct free kick, or is it playing in a dangerous manner, resulting in an indirect free kick? Thanks.

USSF answer (May 20, 2004):
There can be no call of playing dangerously if there is contact. The player should be called for kicking and the restart would be a direct free kick.


HOW MANY PLAYERS AT A RESTART? [LAW 18]
Your question:
On a corner kick, 2 players from the kicking team leave the field at the corner, this seemed to be done to confuse the other team. They did this at every corner kick, sometimes one player would actually kick the ball and other times the first player to approach the ball would fake the kick and the next player would kick it. I know that one player is allowed to leave the field to take the kick…but if we let 2 leave for a “trick” play then why not let 3 or 10.

USSF answer (May 20, 2004):
Players are allowed to leave the field without the referee’s permission on two occasions: (1) during the course of play to play the ball if there is an obstacle that prevents normal play and (2) to retrieve the ball and put it back into play at a stoppage.

In the case of putting the ball back into play, it is common practice and tradition for only one player to do this. If, in the opinion of the referee, activity off the field constitutes unsporting behavior, the referee should warn the player(s) on the first instance and then caution and show the yellow card for either unsporting behavior or leaving the field of play without the permission of the referee.


ASSISTANT’S SIGNAL FOR INDIRECT FREE KICK FOUL [LAW 6]
Your question:
What would be the correct mechanical signal by an AR to the Referee, if an Indirect Free Kick foul was comitted. (Example: the referee was out of position, blocked from view, and the AR waved flag.) Heard this one at the refs’ tent at a tournament.

USSF answer (May 18, 2004):
There is only one standard signal for the assistant referee to use to indicate a foul not seen by the referee — flag straight up in the air, brief waggle after making eye contact, and then 45 degrees upward up or down field indicating the direction of the restart if the referee stops play. It doesn’t make any difference if the foul itself requires a direct or an indirect free kick. The referee may, in the pre-game conference, request some additional signal to indicate an indirect free kick if this is felt necessary.

However, careful thought on the matter would suggest that an indirect free kick foul would be rare. The basic charge given to the assistant referee, in addition to the fact that the offense occurred out of the view of the referee, is that the referee would have stopped play for the foul if he had seen it (i.e., not trifling, not doubtful, and no advantage). It is highly unlikely that an indirect free kick foul would meet all these criteria — only a dangerous play or impeding the progress of an opponent come to mind as even possible.

The referee can usually be confident that such a signal by an experienced, knowledgeable assistant referee is almost certainly an indication of a direct free kick foul.


MISCONDUCT IN THE TECHNICAL AREA [LAW 5]
Your question:
What should the referee do, if anything, when a coach and a substitute on the bench start arguing and start calling each other unpleasant names? This would be in U19 youth soccer.

USSF answer (May 18, 2004):
The referee may dismiss both persons (coach/other team official and substitute). The referee may show the red card only to the substitute, not the coach/other team official, unless the rules of the competition permit it.

The coach will be dismissed for irresponsible behavior, the substitute for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures.


A PROBLEM IN ETHICS [LAW 7]
Your question:
A tournament director writes: I would appreciate your response to the following situation that occurred recently during a youth recreational tournament.

The referee assignor, who was also the coach of the team scheduled to play, assigned her husband as center referee on her U14G semi-final game and her daughter was a player on that team. Should this have taken place? By the way, a complaint was made by the opposing coach after the game started because of this situation.

USSF answer (May 18, 2004):
In the Referee Administrative Handbook, p. 33, it suggests that assistant referees should not be related in any way to either team participating in the game unless it is impossible to get other affiliated officials assigned. Unfortunately, sometimes the referee game assignors do not have enough bodies to go around and ask parents or siblings to referee games in which their kin will be playing.

In this situation a complaint should be filed against the assignor/coach and her husband, the referee, who surely knew his daughter was on that team, under Policy 531-10, which expressly addresses conflict of interest. It then should be sorted out within the state through a hearing process.

You can download a PDF copy of the USSF Policy Manual at this URL: http://www.ussoccer.com/services/content.sps?iType=230&icustompageid=9277

NOTE: The remainder of the response was a direct quote of Policy 531-10 and has been deleted.


SUBSTITUTE INTERFERES WITH PLAY [LAW 3]
Your question:
A ball goes out of touch last contacted by a white player. Just inside their half of the field, the Green team attempts a quick throw to catch the white defense out of position and would have had a good chance to run on goal. As the legal throw crosses the half line a member of the white team that is waiting his turn to be substituted into game, reaches out, (without entering the field) catches the ball, and then drops the ball into the field of play stopping the quick attack. What is the call? What is the correct restart?

I felt the answer is; caution the sub for unsporting behavior and restart with a drop ball near the touchline where the interference occurred. I used ATR 1.8 (d) and ATR 12.25 for my rationale.

USSF answer (May 15, 2004):
If the substitute handled the ball, he must have entered the field of play, at least with his hand. The referee should caution and show the yellow card to the substitute for entering the field without the referee’s permission. The substitute could also be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior. The correct restart is a dropped ball from the place where the ball was when play was stopped.


THERE IS _NO_ ADVANTAGE ON OFFSIDE [LAW 11; LAW 18]
Your question:
Recently I was scanning through the USSF publication, “Advice to referees on the laws of the game.” I was surprised when I read the section 5.6 on Advantage. It reads… “The advantage applies only to infringements of Law 12 (fouls and/or misconduct) and not to infringements of other Laws. For example, there can be no advantage during an offside situation, nor may advantage be applied in the case of an illegal throw-in that goes to an opponent.” This makes perfect sense to me except for the part about offside. I, myself, referee and watch a lot of high level soccer, and have worked with some of the world’s best referees. In my experience, I have seen countless situations where an offside is signaled by the assistant referee, and the referee signals advantage if a quick counterattack begins for the other team or if the ball goes straight into the hands of the keeper. In most other countries (and all of UEFA I know) the advantage signal is suggested in this situation rather than the “lower the flag” signal that USSF encourages, but in any case, even with the USSF “lower the flag” signal, what we are doing in essence is applying advantage to the situation. If the AR signals the offside and the ball goes straight into the keeper’s hands, we are not telling the AR there is not an offside by asking him to lower his flag, we are giving advantage. If an attacker is involved in play and the AR signals offside, but the defense intercepts the pass and starts a quick counterattack, we are not telling the AR he or she is wrong, we are simply applying advantage. Since this happens all the time with soccer even at the highest levels, I would like to know why the “Advice to referees on the Laws of the Game” makes this statement. I appreciate your attention to my question and look forward to hearing back from you.

USSF answer (May 13, 2004):
There is no advantage applicable to any Law beyond Law 12, although one could make a small (but not totally convincing) case in several instances in Laws 13 and 14, but it is easier to do what is done with Law 11‹there is no advantage there, but the referee may choose to call the offside (whether signaled by the AR or not) or ignore it, depending on the circumstances.

When you agree to work games under the aegis of the United States Soccer Federation, you also commit yourself to following the procedures used by the Federation. We do not use the advantage signal for a case where offside will not be called, because it is not an advantage–it is a case of no infringement of the Law.

The “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” is, as its introduction states, ” a reliable compilation of those international and national guidelines [currently] in force, as modified or updated. It is not a replacement for the Laws of the Game, nor is it a ‘how to’ book on refereeing.” All that remains to be said here is another quote: [The] “Advice to Referees presents official USSF interpretations of the Laws of the Game.” Fail to follow it at your own peril.


BREAKING UP FIGHTS [LAW 5; LAW 6]
Your question:
1. If a one-on-one player on player fight breaks out on the soccer field, how is the stopping of it to be handled? Where does the referee’s responsibility end and the coach’s begin? 2. What are the responsibilities of the assistant referees in the situation where the fight expands beyond the original two players and the referee fails to signal for assistance from the coaches. Who is responsible to do what?

USSF answer (May 13, 2004):
1. The referee has no responsibility to stop a fight, no matter what the age of the players. But a VERY LOUD whistle, to signal that the referee wishes the activity to stop immediately, could be blown VERY NEAR to the players. That is usually quite effective. And coaches have no authority or responsibility whatsoever on the soccer field, other than to keep themselves and their substitutes under control. However, if the referee chooses to stop play and wave the coaches on to the field to help break up a fight, that is permitted. 2. In the case of a fight on the field, the assistant referees have no responsibilities‹on the field‹unless the referee has assigned them something other than what they would do in the case of a mass confrontation of the referee by players on the field:

Assistant Referees
– Both assistants move along the touchline to a point as near as possible to the confrontation and, if necessary, prepare to enter the field for a better viewing position.
– The nearer assistant should concentrate fully on the confrontation and attempt to identify the instigator(s) while the farther assistant concentrates on players who join the confrontation from a distance.
– The senior assistant (on the bench side of the field) should additionally monitor persons coming from the bench into the field to participate in the confrontation, but this assistant¹s primary objective remains monitoring the confrontation itself.
– After the confrontation has ended, both assistants should be ready to provide information to the referee regarding the identities of persons they observed and the role each such person played in the confrontation.


USING UNREGISTERED REFEREES [ADMIN; LAW 18]
Your question:
What is the advice of the USSF about officiating a game with a ref that has not completed the necessary officiiting recert process? Is the host association at risk if there is an injury or a problem during a game officiated by such? Would there be repercussions from the USSF? I only ask because my local association is using refs that have not completed the program for this year..

USSF answer (May 11, 2004):
This will not be the direct answer you were looking for. The only answer we can give is to state US Soccer policy.

The insurance policy only covers registered referees doing affiliated games. The US Soccer Policies say that all games directly or indirectly under the jurisdiction of US Soccer shall be officiated by a currently registered USSF referee. We cannot say what the outcome would be for not following the policies of membership. That would be up to US Soccer Board of Directors. We do know that the insurance company will not defend a case unless the referee is registered and working affiliated games.


PROTESTING A REFEREE MERRY-GO-ROUND [ADMIN; LAW 18]
Your question:
Could you tell me if there is something that I can do about this situation that happened, during a u-16 premier game. The game started with a ref. and two linesmen. At halftime one of the linesman leaves, and the opposing team gets someone to line. I asked the other linesman who that person was, he said that he was a certified ref. as he gets on the field he has a red ref. shirt different from the other two. He has no socks, no shoes, and a pair of brown pants. Needless to say he did not call offside and they scored twice. At about 20 minutes left, someone else takes his place in full ref. uniform. Can I file a protest, or not?

USSF answer (May 11, 2004):
Usually a protest must be filed at the field. You should check with your local governing body to see what is protestable and when protests must be filed and go from there. There is nothing in the Laws of the Game regarding what constitutes protestable issues‹that is strictly a local thing and that’s where you need to start.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [ADMIN; LAW 18]
Your question:
What is the USSF advice to match officials with regard to officials of the technical area entering the FOP at the end of extra time and PRIOR to the taking of KFTPM. It is clear in Law that only the eligible players are permitted to remain on the FOP during the taking of the kicks and that AUTHORISED persons may only enter the FOP this authorisation can of course only be given by the referee, but it is the period directly before the Kicks that is causing a problem. Is it permitted for the referee to give such AUTHORISATION prior to the kicks commencing??

USSF answer (May 11, 2004):
The process of kicks from the penalty mark begins immediately upon the conclusion of full time (including any required extra periods of play). While there is a break of sorts following the conclusion of full time and the first actual kick, the kicks from the penalty mark process has already begun, and in fact there are things that may be going on during that “down time”; for example, the coin toss.

Normally only eligible players and the match officials are allowed on the field once kicks from the penalty mark begin, and the process begins the moment full time is over. However, if the rules of the competition provide for a break between the end of full time and the actual kicks themselves, the referee may permit persons (team officials) other than players to be on the field of play during that break period between the end of regulation play and the actual kicks from the penalty mark. If the referee permits it, they may do this in their team’s half of the center circle. When the kicks are ready to commence, the team officials must return to the technical area (their team’s area).


TEAM REFUSES TO PLAY [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
During my last game a coach didn’t like one of my calls, and he ordered his entire team to get off the field saying that they were done. I ended the game and later reported the situation to the league coordinator. Was I supposed to do anything else? Maybe caution the players that left the field without my permission? I just thought it would look ridiculous to show yellow/red cards to every player from the team that left the field before the end of the game.

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
While we have no knowledge of your actions prior to this incident, you acted perfectly correctly in abandoning the game and reporting the situation in your match report. Cautioning and showing cards to the players would have accomplished nothing. By acting in accordance with correct procedure, you maintained your dignity and did not allow the coach to drag the game even farther into disrepute.


PLAYING TIME FOR U-TINIES [LAW 7]
Your question:
At a u7 game how long are their quarters and breaks? Thanks!

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
There is no set time period. U6 plays 4 equal 8-minute quarters, with a 2-minute break between quarters one and two and another 2-minute break between quarters three and four and a half-time interval of 5 minutes. U8 plays 4 equa 8-minute quarters, with a 2-minute break between quarters one and two and another 2-minute break between quarters three and four and a half-time interval of 5 minutes.

These are recommendations from the nationally-approved youth competition rules.  Your competition may choose to use whatever length of periods it requires.


PLAYING SHORT [LAW 18]
Your question:
I worked a game as a AR in a U17 boys game and the CR gave a penalty kick on the keeper for taking down attacking player and holding him from going after the ball. The play was now stop and the keeper said something to the referee and he red carded the keeper. The center did not make them play down since the send-off was done when the play had stopped. His thought was it was not a foul and it happened after the play had stopped. Should they have played down one man? I say yes.

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
Yes, after the referee sent off the goalkeeper, the goalkeeper’s team should have played with one fewer player for the rest of the game. Once the game starts, it makes no difference when a player is sent off or when the misconduct for which the player is being punished occurred, whether during play or a break in the game (halftime or other official break) or at a stoppage–ALL misconduct is dealt with during stoppage.

As a sidebar, your question suggests that the goalkeeper might have been sent off in the first place for denying the opponent a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by preventing the opponent from getting to the ball.


ENFORCING THE REQUIRED DISTANCE [LAW 13]
Your question:
1, A foul is committed and a free kick is awarded. Is the offending team required to immediately back off 10 yards? Or can the offending team delay moving away unless the opposing player asks the referee to provide the 10-yard distance? If 10 yards is immediately required, why don’t refs show more yellow cards? Delay of game and poor sportsmanship are cautionable. 2. A player takes a throw in and the ball never crosses into play. Rethrow? Or does the other team take possession?

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
1. As you point out, some referees are apparently afraid to give the kicking team the space they need and to punish the team that continues to break the Laws after having been caught once. Under the Law, the offending team is required to back off at least 10 yards from the spot of the ball immediately. Most do not. The referee should stop the restart process only if it is clear that the kicking team either does not want or cannot take a quick kick.

2. In the case of the throw-in that never enters the field, it is retaken.


PLAY SHORT OR NOT? [LAW 18]
Your question:
The R&D committee of our league is debating the answer to the following scenario, and the application of the appropriate Laws of the Game. As background, the league plays with limited size, official state rosters, and with unlimited substitutions on goal kicks, throw-ins by own team, kickoffs, and on injuries for the injured player. Therefore, players may leave and re-enter the match, with the referees permission, on multiple occasions. The scenario:
1. Player #x from Team A, receives a yellow card, for a foul while on the playing field.
2. Sometime thereafter, the same Player #x from Team A receives a second yellow card, during the match, while NOT on the field – he was now a substitute – on the sideline. The second yellow card was issued for a MISCONDUCT, because a FOUL can not be committed by a substitute.
3. The referee, using his authority under Law 5, and applicable sections of Law 12 – shows Player #x from Team A a red card for a second caution (2CT). The player is sent off.

The question – does Team A now play short?

USSF answer (May 5, 2004):
If the player/substitute received the second card while in his role as substitute, in other words, while on the bench, then he was not a player at that time and the team need not play short. If he had been a player at the time, then the team would have to play short.


PLAYER DISCIPLINE [LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
I have a question, we have a U8 player that has been Red Card at least once for sure possible twice this season along with a yellow card in between. This is just rec soccer and it’s been told this child has played on Top Soccer and the parents wanted to try Rec. He also has an anger issue. The reasoning for the red card was he was pushing players on purpose. I guess what I would like to know is how do we handle this? Can U8’s get cards? If so how long to you keep them out of games and so on? They have 2 more games for the season and a post season tournament. I don’t know what really happened since I wasn’t present but I would like to know what is the best way to go about fixing this issue and not having anyone get hurt. I don’t believe the child has been put on the bench for his actions like a time out. I also don’t know if U8 are even allowed cards?  We are talking 6 and 7 years. Do they really understand it?

USSF answer (April 29, 2004):
There is no age limit on learning. If a player cannot adapt readily to the standards of the game, then he or she must be educated. Being sent off (given a red card) usually means having to sit at least one game for each time sent off. The one-game suspension is a minimum standard imposed by FIFA, but local rules of competition can increase this and apply other penalties as well, depending on the severity and/or frequency of the behavior for which the red cards were received.

It makes no difference what age the player is. If this player does not learn acceptable behavior early on, what will he be like when he hits the middle teens?


CASTS FOR REFEREES [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I know that a player can not play with a hard cast on their arm. Can a referee have a hard cast for a recreational league?

USSF answer (April 29, 2004):
In fact, you are starting from an incorrect presumption‹that “a player cannot play with a hard cast on their arm.” A player may play with a cast under two conditions: if it is not prohibited by the local rules of competition and if the referee believes that the cast will not present a danger to anyone else. The referee would be bound by the same strictures‹if the player can not have a cast, then neither could the referee.


PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS [LAW 1]
Your question:
I was at a youth league game and the ball slowly rolled to the corner, hit the flag, and bounced a few inches back onto the field. The ref did not call it out and play continued. Should he have stopped play? Should it have been called a corner or goal kick (depending on who touch it last) or a throw-in? Is this correct because the ball never left the field of play much like a ball hitting the goal post? It was so goofy that no parents complained as commented on the improbability of it and they questioned each other on what should have been done.

BTW, is a tree always out of bounds? If a corner kick hits an overhanging tree, does it depend on where it is hit or is it automatically out of bounds? Same field different match.

USSF answer (April 29, 2004):
1. The corner flag is considered to be part of the field, just like the referee. In the situation you present, the ball never left the field.

2. A tree is considered to be a pre-existing condition, something on or above the field that is not described in Law 1 but is deemed safe and not generally subject to movement. This category includes trees overhanging the field, wires running above the field, and covers on sprinkling or draining systems. These things do not affect one team more adversely than the other and are considered to be a part of the field. If the ball leaves the field after contact with any item considered under the local ground rules of the field to be a pre-existing condition, the restart is in accordance with the Law, based on which team last played the ball. (Check with the competition for any local ground rules.)


CARRYOVER OF SUSPENSION [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
If a player is ejected during their last game in a USYSA-sponsored tournament, are they then required to sit out their next USYSA event, for example, a league game? Or does the suspension disappear when the event for which it was awarded ends?

According to the FDC, it would appear that they would sit out their next USYSA match, but some of our state associations claim that the FDC does not apply to USYSA. Can you advise?

USSF answer (April 26, 2004):
This policy statement from U. S. Soccer is the most up-to-date information available:
QUOTE
From the U.S. Soccer Communications Center ‹ Nov. 14, 2003
Memorandum
To: State Referee Administrators
State Youth Referee Administrators
State Directors of Referee Instruction
State Directors of Referee Assessment
National Referee Instructors and Trainers
National Assessors
National Referees
From: Alfred Kleinaitis
Manager of Referee Development and Education
Subject: Automatic Suspension Following an Expulsion from a Match
Date: November 14, 2003

FIFA recently distributed Circular 866 to clarify and confirm any doubts remaining from its earlier Circular (821, dated October 1, 2002) regarding the issue of mandatory suspensions for a player who has been expelled from a match. The clarifications took the form of unambiguous answers to certain frequently asked questions.

1. Any player sent off during a football match shall automatically be suspended for the following match (Art. 19, para. 4; Art. 39 FDC)

2. Any appeal against an automatic suspension shall not have a suspensive effect. Under no circumstances may a player take part in the following match while awaiting a decision on his appeal, regardless of the reasons for his appeal.

3. Any appeals against an automatic suspension as a result of an obvious error made by the referee under the terms of Art. 83 FDC (principally an error regarding the identify of a player involved in an incident leading to a sending off) can and must be accepted or rejected immediately in order to allow any players who have been erroneously suspended to play in the next match.

4. The disciplinary body is able to reach an immediate decision with regard to such an appeal as obvious errors, by their very nature, can also be confirmed without delay. If any doubts remain, the referee has clearly not made an obvious error and the appeal will also be rejected immediately.
We therefore ask the national associations of FIFA to make use of the judicial instruments referred to in the FIFA Disciplinary Code (Art. 134 and 140) in order to be able to make an immediate decision regarding appeals: either allow the disciplinary body to hold an immediate conference or permit a single judge to pronounce a decision.

5. If a player is unable to serve the automatic suspension in a domestic or continental club competition, the relevant bodies shall decide on how the suspension shall be carried over to another competition.

6. The principle of automatic suspension shall be applied in the same way, irrespective of the offence committed by the player.
However, in the case of particularly serious offences, the relevant body may extend the sanction imposed to apply to all competitions organized under its jurisdiction in order to prevent a player, after having committed such an offence, from playing in any other competition.

All competition authorities under USSF must ensure that their disciplinary procedures take these clarifications into consideration.

A one game suspension is mandatory following a send-off (red card).
The suspension may be extended for more serious offenses but it cannot be reduced, no matter what the reason was for the send-off.
The suspension must be served even if it is being appealed. Under no circumstances can the fact of an appeal be used to suspend or delay the suspension.
All appeals must be decided quickly, before the match is played for which the affected player would be suspended. If the send-off was erroneous due to an obvious error in identifying the player, this appeal can be resolved quickly because the error was obvious; if the error was not obvious, the appeal will be quickly resolved by rejecting it.
END OF QUOTE

In our experience, if the player or team official continues into the _same_ competition (league or tournament) the next year, then the player or team official may not participate in the team’s first match in that competition. Your best bet would be to check with the competition authority.

The bottom line is that the red card does not disappear‹whatever the state association or the competition rules call for is what should be enforced. Just because someone gets a send off in the last game of an event or tournament, to have no carry over would create mayhem. It would be best if you would take your question to [your] State Association as we are sure they have rules in place to deal with a send-off.


LEAVING THE FIELD DURING THE COURSE OF PLAY [LAW 11]
Your question:
One attacker and two defenders are chasing a long ball towards the goal line. Just as they approach the goal line, one of the players saves the ball and kicks it back to the 18 where an attacker is standing. The three players’ momentum causes them to leave the field, as a part of normal play. The one attacker turns back toward the field and is passed the ball by his teammate standing at the 18. The attacker enters the field and collects the ball. Is he guilty of being offside?

What if he never left the field, and the two defenders did go over the end line? Are they to be taken into consideration when determining offside?

This has been asked of 9 National or State level referees and the votes are split 5 to 4. Before this happens to me, I want to make sure I know.

USSF answer (April 25, 2004):
The answer to your questions will be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.” If any of the National or State referees answered differently than what is in the Advice and what you will read here, then there is a major cause for concern about the knowledge of those whose answers differ from this response.

Situation 1: One attacker and two opponents leave the field during the course of play, just after one of the players (unspecified team) kicks the ball back to the 18, where an attacker is standing. The attacker who left the field returns and receives the ball from his teammate on the 18.

Decision: There can be no offside here. Players of either team who leave the field during the course of play are still considered in determining offside‹defenders if they do not immediately return to the field and members of the opposing team if they become involved in play. They are considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to the off-field position. (A player who has left with the referee’s permission is not included in determining offside position. See ATR 11.11.)

Situation 2: The attacker did not leave the field but the opponents did. Are they considered in determining offside?

Decision: No offside. See above and ATR 11.11, quoted below for ease of reference.

11.11 DEFENDER LEGALLY OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY A defender who leaves the field during the course of play and does not immediately return must still be considered in determining where the second to last defender is for the purpose of judging which attackers are in an offside position. Such a defender is considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to his off-field position. A defender who leaves the field with the referee’s permission (and who thus requires the referee’s permission to return) is not included in determining offside position.


REFEREE CHANGES DECISION IN MATCH REPORT [LAW 5]
Your question:
I am curious to know your reaction to the following based on the Laws of the Game. Perhaps I misunderstand the article, but I would have thought that having decided a goal was not scored, and having apparently restarted play after the delay (no mention is made of the match being abandoned), the referee could not thereafter change his mind.

QUOTE
Referee u-turn over riot-provoking goal

LAGOS (Reuters) – A Nigerian referee who ruled out a late goal at the weekend to prevent a riot has changed his mind and awarded victory to league leaders Dolphin FC.

Dolphin, playing at Plateau United, scored a goal in the 87th minute. After a pitch invasion which the police took 10 minutes to clear, the referee decided to cancel the goal and the game ended 0-0.

In his match report to the Nigerian Football Association (NFA), however, the referee said the goal was genuine and gave Dolphin a 1-0 win.

“He said he had to reverse the decision at the time to prevent a breakdown of law and order in view of the volatile situation in the stadium,” NFA league spokesman Salisu Abubakar told reporters.

“Based on his report, the three points go to Dolphin.”

USSF answer (April 25, 2004):
We cannot criticize referees from other countries for the way in which they manage their games. The following answer applies to games played under the auspices of the United States Soccer Federation.

No, the referee may not change his decision once the game has restarted. If the referee cancelled the goal at the 87th minute and then, after the pitch invasion, restarted play based on whatever pretext he used for the cancellation, and then said in his game report that the goal was in fact scored, he was wrong. Prudent, perhaps, but wrong. The referee must simply report the facts and allow the competition authority to make the decision.

If the referee was in such fear of his well-being or the general health of his fellow officials or the teams that he felt he had to take such an action, then he probably should not have restarted play in the first place and terminated the match right then and there.


MISCONDUCT PRIOR TO THE START OF PLAY [LAW 5; LAW 8; LAW 18]
Your question:
Tricky referee question: The match has not started yet.  The white team wins the referee toss of the coin and elects to defend the south goal. Both teams are now on the field ready to go but the blue team refuses to kick the ball to begin play. How do you proceed? I don’t think a caution or dismissal can be issued because the match has not started. Do you wait the maximum allotted time to start the match and then decide to abandon the match? That was the best I had. The match ends in a draw?

USSF answer (April 23, 2004):
Actually, the team that wins the toss of the coin, which does not have to be taken by the referee, can elect only to attack a particular goal, not defend a particular goal. It all ends up the same, but the Law reads as stated here.

If the blue team refuses to begin play, the referee must exercise tact and imagination to encourage them to take the kick. If they will not, the referee notifies both teams that the game is abandoned and submits a full report on the matter to the appropriate authorities.

Another, more hard-nosed solution would be to pick out a player and caution for unsporting behavior. The referee’s authority begins upon arrival at the field, so this is perfectly legal. If the coach is smart (this is already questionable given the scenario you experienced), he or she would forestall the possibility of misconduct by simply refusing to field the minimum number of players.


LATE SEND-OFF FOR SECOND CAUTION [LAW 5; LAW 12]
Your question:
Player A1 receives a yellow card during the first half. Toward the middle of the second half, the referee again gives player A1 a yellow card, but the ref does not recognize that this was the same player and that A1 should be disqualified and the team play short. So play goes on with both teams at full strength. Ten minutes later, Team A scores a goal, whereupon, before play is resumed, the captain of Team B points out to the referee that Team A should have been playing short. Player A1 did not participate in the scoring of the goal. How does the ref handle the situation? Does the goal count or not? What is the restart? Are players sent off? Are additional cards administered? In a second case, Player A1 was the one who scored the goal. What are the correct calls in this case?

USSF answer (April 22, 2004):
You may have missed one of our answers of April 10, 2004. It should answer your question about what the referee should do regarding a missed send-off for second caution:
QUOTE
The referee’s right to display a red card and send off a player who should have been sent off for a second caution in a game is sacrosanct. In this case ATR 5.14 would apply (see below) and the red card may be shown and the player sent from the field even if play has been (incorrectly) restarted.

As we responded to a question just about a year ago (April 3, 2003), if the refereeing crew recognizes, even after a substantial amount of time has passed‹in that case 20 minutes, at the halftime break‹that a player received a second caution and should have been sent off, the referee may then administer the send-off and red card as soon as is feasible.
END OF QUOTE

As to the remaining questions:
A player who has not been sent off at the proper time is functionally equivalent to an “extra” player. The referee should apply the same principles used when a team is discovered to have a twelfth player on the field immediately after it scored a goal. If discovered prior to the kick-off, the goal is cancelled, the “extra” player is removed, cards shown as needed, and play resumes with a goal kick. If not discovered until after the kick-off restart, the goal stands and the player is removed in accordance with the Laws of the Game.

In any event, the referee must send a detailed report of the matter to the appropriate authorities.


UPHOLD THE LAW [LAW 14; LAW 18]
Your question:
Law 14 states that “the defending goalkeeper remains on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked”.

My question is: More experienced goalkeepers will often be perched on the front part of their feet and they may not have contact with the goal line on the ground, but have the back part of their feet hovering above the line. Would it be improper to allow the GK to defend from this position if in the opinion of the referee, (s)he did not gain an advantage from being in this position?

This is obviously irrelevant if the PK is successfully made, but if the GK jumps to the right directly along the line and stops the kick, then there is no advantage gained by having feet above the line as opposed to on the line. If the GK goes forward towards the kicker and successfully defends the ball, than they may have gained an advantage and would need to re-take the kick.

USSF answer (April 22, 2004):
It is not the job of the referee to allow the goalkeeper any advantage at a penalty kick. The obvious intent of the Law is that the goalkeeper remain ON the goal line, not poised on his toes ahead of the line. As you state, it makes no difference if the ball goes into the goal, but it does indeed make a difference if the goalkeeper is able to defend against it. Let’s remember why the penalty kick was awarded: A member of the goalkeeper’s team committed a foul against an opponent within the penalty area.


CARRYING THE BALL [LAW 12]
Your question:
In a recent game I saw the following occur and was wondering what the proper procedure would be. The Home team had to wear pennies because of a color conflict, during the course of the game, the ball bounced up into the pennie and became trapped between the pennie & Jersey. The player was on the run when this occurred and carried the ball for at least ten yards before it became free.

USSF answer (April 22, 2004):
It’s nice that someone has actually seen one of the oldest “chestnuts” (if you will pardon the expression) in the world of soccer. The correct answer is exactly as it would be for jerseys, turbans, or skirts. Before blowing the whistle immediately to stop play, the referee should hesitate a moment or two to see if the player decides to halt and take care of the situation. If that happens, then the referee will simply stop play, get the ball removed, and restart with a dropped ball. This applies to an accidental situation, analogous to an accidental case of handling.

The fact that a player may benefit from the ball becoming trapped in his or her clothing does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement unless the player takes subsequent action to retain the ball once it is lodged in the uniform. However, in that case, if the player continues his progress down the field with the ball inside the pennie and jersey (or on his turban or in his jersey or in her skirt), the occurrence is clearly no longer an accident; the referee stops play; cautions the player for unsporting behavior, and restarts with an indirect free kick for the opposing team.

Still thinking along those lines, we wonder how the player could have moved at least 30 feet, even on the run, without being aware of what was happening or stopping to take care of it.


MOVING THE CORNER FLAG [LAW 1; LAW 17]
Your question:
We had a situation where a player moved the flag before taking the corner kick. All of our referees know this is an infringment of law 17, but what is the sanction?

USSF answer (April 20, 2004):
Actually, it is an infringement of Law 1, The Field of Play, as well as of Law 17, The Corner Kick. You will find the reference in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”: “1.6 NO PLAYER MODIFICATIONS TO THE FIELD “Goalkeepers or other players may not make unauthorized marks on the field of play. The player who makes such marks or alterations on the field to gain an unfair advantage may be cautioned for unsporting behavior. Players may return bent or leaning corner flags to the upright position, but they may not bend or lean them away from the upright position to take a corner kick, nor may the corner flag be removed for any reason.”

The punishment is a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior. The kick may still be taken.


PREVENTING OPPONENTS FROM GETTING TO THE BALL [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I was refereeing a match this weekend, before the game there was severe lightning and thunder which delayed the start of the match. While we were waiting in the field house one of the parents sought us out and asked us a question, that I wasn’t quite sure how to answer. She said that the day before her daughters team played in a match and their opponents went ahead 2-1 with 3 minutes remaining in the game. At that point everytime the leading team got a throw in, they would send 7 players over to the touch line and would create a semi-circle sourrounding the player taking the throw. The thrower would send the ball to the feet of her teammates in the semi circle and they would all stand there with the ball in the middle of them so as to not allow the opponents to play the ball. She asked me if this was legal or if it was obstruction.

I told her I wasn’t sure. I explained to her that impedeing the progress of an opponent can only occur if the player who’s impedeing is not within playing distance of the ball. In my mind I could envision a circle of players tight enough that they could all possible play or kick the ball, so I didn’t know if that tactic was Illegal or not under the LOTG. Perhaps this would be a form of dangerous play, as the only real or fair way the opponents could challenge for the ball would be to basically kick at the opponents heals which would also be a foul on the losing side. Given the very vague description of the tactic used here, would do you think is the correct action for the referee to take, if any?

USSF answer (April 20, 2004):
We are not sure what kind of coach would teach a tactic like this, as it seems totally counterproductive to have so many players in one spot. The referee can and should do nothing. However, there is a remedy: There is nothing to prohibit a player from leaving the field of play during the course of play if the presence of an opponent prevents her from getting to the ball to play it. (We have published this several times before; e. g., the item of April 25, above.)


INAPPROPRIATE REFEREE BEHAVIOR [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
Is it legal to yell, literaly, yell unprofessionaly to a soccer player. I admit I pushed a girl, but she pushed me first. I let the first one go without pushing, but the second I had to defind for myself. He gave me a warning politely at first. Than the girl pushed me down, again. Once agian she pushed me. I was trying to protect myself from getting hurt this time and we colided. The ref than yelled at me that this is the second retaliate you have done! We will not tolerate this kind of behavior!

I apologized and he said don’t take that kind of tone with me! Than some of the fans started to stick up for me than he sent a fan out of the stands. He supposidley did this because the fan was being too rowdy. The reason the fan was rowdy was because the ref told a player that was really hurt to get up and not pretend that she was hurt. Than the fan told him that he had gone too far, by letting a player get hurt badly. Than he also gave the hurt player a yellow card for nothing. I know for a fact that some of the things he did must have been illigal. It is unfair to do this to the players.

USSF answer (April 16, 2004):
We agree that the behavior and player-management style of the referee seem to be poor, but it also seems as if you may have contributed to the problem by your repeated retaliation. One of the first lessons the good soccer player learns is to take the lumps dished out by the opponents and get on with the game‹the best revenge comes from winning the game through skill and determination.

Fans have every right to express their opinion. Sometimes it helps, but not very often. Of course it is not proper to yell at players. Referees have bad days, just like players. We all have to work through them as best we can.


TAUNTING [LAW 5; LAW 12]
Your question:
I was center for a U-16 girls match. Team A had just scored and was now ahead by two goals with about ten minutes left to play. Team B had placed the ball in the center and was ready to restart the game. A player from team A was walking back through the center circle. The player from team B who was waiting to restart the game had her back toward me. I am sure that she wanted to restart as quickly as possible, but I was just going to allow for the stoppage and add time and did not foresee what the future would bring. I had more outside the center circle and was also waiting for the player from team A to get into position. The two players must have exchanged some words that I could not hear and then the player from team B cursed the player from team A. I heard the cursing and sent the player from team B off. I had not heard or seen a taunt, but I was sure that one must have occurred. Should I have given a yellow card to the team A player for unsporting behavior?

USSF answer (April 16, 2004):
In actual fact, the only thing the referee can punish is something personally seen or heard by the referee or one of the assistant referees or the fourth official. However, given the circumstances of the game, it would have been a reasonable inference that the opposing player had caused the player on team B to curse at her. Considering your own feeling that the team A player had caused the outburst, why did you not practice selective hearing, an excellent tool for referees in every situation?

In addition, given what you inferred from the circumstances, a caution to the team A player for delaying the restart of play might have been worth considering. In general, we need to remember as referees that, when punishing “retaliation,” it is desirable whenever possible to also deal with what was being retaliated against‹and usually to card the first behavior before carding the retaliation.


DROOPY DRAWERS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I have noticed some boys wearing their shorts pulled so far down that if they didnt have shirts, 60% of their underwear would be showing. They continually pull their shorts down. It may be the style in school but on the field it appears disrepectful! Your thoughts on this during pregame inspections?

USSF answer (April 15, 2004):
Custom, tradition, and safety require that players keep their shirts tucked in and their socks pulled up and generally maintain a professional appearance. The intelligent referee will allow players to wear their shorts as they like, as long as they do not present an insult to common decency or a danger to any player.


WHOLESALE CHANGE OF UNIFORMS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
U14 boys game. Before game coach of one team tells ref he plans on having his team change uniforms at half time.No problem with conflicting colors. Ref says NO. You have to play with the uniform you start with. Coach says – ref last week let us do it, and, where in the rules does it say we can’t. Ref did not allow it, coach filed protest and I was asked for my input.

My first response was – I see no reason why it should not be allowed. After some discussion with protest committee we considered it might be unsporting. Opponents have played a half looking at a “blue” team now have a “gold” team to watch out for.

Is this a tactical move? Is it allowed?

USSF answer (April 12, 2004):
This would seem to be a tactical move, designed to confuse the opponents. Traditionally–and a lot of the Law is strictly tradition–the team must wear its uniform for the entire game, without making any changes. This is the sort of thing that would be regarded as “bringing the game into disrepute” by turning it into a spectacle. This sort of infringement will fall under “Law 18,” common sense. It is obviously a move to confuse, demoralize, and take advantage of the opponents and serves no useful purpose for the good of the game.

The old excuse that “the referee last week let us do it” means nothing. It means simply that the referee last week didn’t want to rock the boat–and that this week’s referee had a firm grasp on reality. He simply followed the road of soccer tradition, which is always the correct one.


INADVERTENT WHISTLE? AIN’T NO SUCH THING! [LAW 18]
Your question:
An attacker was in an offside position but never participated in the play. He was not interfering with the keeper. A shot was taken from near the top of the penalty box and went in. The problem was that the R blew his whistle after the shot but just before the ball went in. The AR did not signal offside. The keeper appeared unaffected by the whistle. The coach of the defense wasn’t! We allowed the goal. The R later admitted that he anticipated that the offside player was about to participate, but quickly realized he did not so there should be no offside call. Please comment on whether there is such a thing as an ‘inadvertant whistle’ or if the whistle should have ‘killed’ the action so that the goal should have been desallowed?

USSF answer (April 10, 2004):
Whistle blows, game is stopped. No goal. Restart with indirect free kick for the defending team because of the “offside.”

In fact, the game stops when the referee DECIDES to blow the whistle. The referee must then eat the whistle and the error in judgment. Ketchup or other condiments allowed.


BELATED SEND-OFF OKAY [LAW 12]
Your question:
In a recent U16 Classic Division One club match the center referee carded (yellow) a midfielder for a violation in the early part of the first half. It was clear he carded No. 7. In the 30th minute, the referee card again stopped play and card a midfielder (yellow) it appear to be the same midfielder but it was not clear to whom he assigned the yellow card. It appeared to me he had carded No. 9. The first half ended without further incidence. Play continued for another ten minutes until the half concluded. At the beginning of the second half, the referee calls No. 7 to the center of the field prior to the restart of the match and shows No. 7 a red card. Did the referee act according the rules? Can he correct his apparent mistake later in the match? Is there any legal recourse to challenge the red card? The player must obviously forgo the next match!

USSF answer (April 10, 2004):
The referee’s right to display a red card and send off a player who should have been sent off for a second caution in a game is sacrosanct. In this case ATR 5.14 would apply and the red card may be shown and the player sent from the field even if play has been (incorrectly) restarted.

As we responded to a question just about a year ago (April 3, 2003), if the refereeing crew recognizes, even after a substantial amount of time has passed–in that case 20 minutes, at the halftime break–that a player received a second caution and should have been sent off, the referee may then administer the send-off and red card as soon as is feasible.


POSITIONING OF ASSISTANT REFEREE AT PENALTY KICKS [MECHANICS]
Your question:
Over the years, I have been taught to position myself behind the Corner Flag, looking down the Goal Line, rather than the prescribed position at the intersection of the Penalty Area Line and the Goal Line. The rationale was this position gave the appropriate view of ball over goal line, goalkeeper movement and did not place the Assistant Referee on the field of play and, potentially in the midst of active play, while attempting to return to the appropriate offside position.

What is the advantage of the position at the intersection of the Penalty Area Line and the Goal Line, and is there any discussion about changing to the position at the corner flag?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
The correct position for assistant referees (ARs) on penalty kicks is delineated in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials,” which can be downloaded from this URL: http://www.ussoccer.com/templates/includes/services/referees/pdfs/GuidetoProcedures.pdf

The AR is encouraged to enter the field, when necessary, and upon direction of the referee. See Law 6:
Assistance
The ARs also assist the referee to control the match in accordance with the Laws of the Game. In particular, they may enter the field of play to help control the 9.15m distance.

Being nearer to the penalty kick allows the AR to help control the match, observe the goalkeeper, and other duties as assigned by the referee. Being nearer to the goal than the corner flag at a penalty kick increases the ability of the AR to provide critical information to the referee regarding whether a goal was scored– given the circumstances of the penalty kick, the chances are greater that a cunning goalkeeper might attempt to hide the scoring of a goal by quickly and surreptitiously pulling the ball back onto the field.

There is absolutely no discussion about changing the AR’s position at the penalty kick to the area of the corner flag. Please bring this information to the attention of those who have taught you incorrectly over the years.


HEADGEAR [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I ran across a player last Sat that had purchased headgear that was designed to make heading the ball more comfortable. It was soft and had extra padding in the forehead area.

Is this kind of gear to be allowed? If yes. Then what about a player that wants to wear a skullcap for the same purpose?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
Here is an answer from last year. Nothing has changed since that time.
USSF answer (July 16, 2003):
The United States Soccer Federation does not take a position one way or another on padded headgear. Such headgear is not part of the player’s required uniform and equipment. The referee is the sole judge of the permissibility of these items, which must meet the requirement in Law 3 that it not be dangerous to any player.

You can find most recent the position paper regarding the issue of equipment on this and other USSF-affiliated websites. You may also have noticed the face masks — not helmets — worn by one or two Korean and Japanese players during World Cup 2002. The use of those face masks was not questioned at any time by the referees or the administration.


MISINTERPRETATION OF THE LAWS [LAW 11; LAW 18]
Your question:
[NOTE: See item of 6 April 2004, in the archives.]
In a match USYSA U14 girls. Team A attacker dribbles ball into attacking 1/3 of Team B field. Team A striker loses possession of the ball to Team B defender. Team B defender starts the attack up the field by dribbling the ball towards Team A defending 1/2 of the field. Team A striker turns and watches Team B attack. Team A striker comes back to her defending 1/3 of the field and foot tackles the ball and clears it free from Team B and Team A recovers possession in defending 1/3 of Team A field. Center Referee calls offside on Team A striker and award a direct kick in Team A defending 1/3 of the field. I agree Team A striker was in offside position when she lost possession of the ball and Team B defenders pushed up into Team A defending 1/2 of the field putting Team A striker in the offside position. But I never heard of a offside called in the defending 1/2 of the field.

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
Nor has anyone else but this referee. Not only may a player not be considered in an offside position in her own half of the field, she may not be called offside there–unless she was in the opposing team’s half of the field when one of her teammates played the ball and she was able to become involved in play there. Now we only have to figure out why the referee gave a direct free kick against her for this mythical offside; the correct restart if she had been offside would have been an indirect free kick.


WHAT’S THE CORRECT RESTART? [LAW 18]
Your question:
After a White player in a youth match has legally restarted play, he plays the ball with his foot before anyone else touches the ball. The referee stops play for second touch and then sees an AR signaling. After the restart, but before the whistle, the opponents performed an illegal substitution (player off, sub on). The referee cautions the two opponents. What is the correct restart? IFK to the Whites (player leaving FOP w/o permission)? Or IFK to the opponents (second touch)?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
The entire scenario is a bit unclear, as there are not enough details as to who did what when.

Given the lack of details to make a case for sequential infringements, we must rely on what we have: Why did the referee stop play? For the illegal second touch. As both infringements by the opposing team are cautionable offenses and did not involve a foul, the referee is not obliged to stop play for either of them and can wait until the next opportunity–which he did–namely, the second-touch violation by White.

Referee action: Caution Black player, caution Black sub; indirect free kick restart for Black where White committed the second-touch violation.


PLEASE DO NOT INVENT YOUR OWN LAWS OF THE GAME [LAW 15]
Your question:
Whereas Law 15 does not state that excessive spin is wrong, traditionally it has been interpreted that excessive spin is an indication an improper advantage is trying to be gained with the throw. The understanding was that a throw in was merely for restarting play and was not intended to become an attacking capability. However, I rarely see the law interpreted this way and it is being stretched to where throw ins have come to resemble a forward pass in American footbal. Is there an offical guidance on this?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
Yes, there is official guidance. You will find it in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.” You can download it from the referee page on the ussoccer.com web site. Here is the guidance from the Advice to Referees:

QUOTE
15.3 PROPERLY TAKEN THROW-IN
A throw-in must be performed while the thrower is facing the field, but the ball may be thrown into the field in any direction. Law 15 states that the thrower “delivers the ball from behind and over his head.” This phrase does not mean that the ball must leave the hands from an overhead position. A natural throwing movement starting from behind and over the head will usually result in the ball leaving the hands when they are in front of the vertical plane of the body. The throwing movement must be continued to the point of release. A throw-in directed straight downward (often referred to as a “spike”) has traditionally been regarded as not correctly performed; if, in the opinion of the referee such a throw-in was incorrectly performed, the restart should be awarded to the opposing team. There is no requirement in Law 15 prohibiting spin or rotational movement. Referees must judge the correctness of the throw-in solely on the basis of Law 15.

The acrobatic or “flip” throw-in is not by itself an infringement so long as it is performed in a manner which meets the requirements of Law 15.

A player who lacks the normal use of one or both hands may nevertheless perform a legal throw-in provided the ball is delivered over the head and provided all other requirements of Law 15 are observed.
END OF QUOTE

Please read also Advice 15.5:
15.5 TRIFLING INFRINGEMENTS OF LAW 15
Referees are reminded that the primary function of the throw-in is to put the ball back into play as quickly as possible. At competitive levels of play, therefore, apparent technical infringements of Law 15 should often be deemed trifling or doubtful so long as an advantage is not obtained by the team performing the throw-in and the restart occurs with little or no delay.


WHO’S PLAYING DANGEROUSLY? [LAW 12]
Your question:
An attacking player with control of the ball makes a move to the right with the ball. At the same moment, the defended attempts to stop to adjust to the move of the attacker and slips, going feet first to the ground. The attacker attempts to quickly shoot the ball. The ball hits the defender (now lying on his side after falling) in the stomach area and rebounds 6 – 12 inches from his stomach. the attacker then straddles the defender on the ground to make contact or control of the ball. The defender attempting to stand is unable due to the attacking player still straddling the defender on the ground. After several whacks at the ball the ball is lodged closer to the defenders body. A whistle blows and a delay of game is called on the defender lying on the ground. a free kick is awarded the attacking team.

Is this the right call? does not the defender have the right to attempt to stand although he is essentially being held down by the attacking player stradding him.
Is the attempt to stand along with the inability to stand due to the attacking player standing over him taken into account.
Is the attacking player(s) whacking at the ball exhibiting dangerous play?

Which is the right call?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
If the defender on the ground has been prevented from rising by an opponent, it would not be correct to call a foul on the “grounded” player for playing dangerously. If the player who is straddling the player on the ground is simultaneously “whacking at the ball,” then that player is the one who should be called for playing dangerously–unless you decide the player is holding the opponent on the ground, which would be a direct free kick for the team of the player on the ground. (We won’t mention the possibility of a caution for unsporting behavior for the “whacking.”)


SEQUENTIAL INFRINGEMENTS [LAW 12]
Your question:
If someone gets punched in the face during a game and the punched person grabs the arm of the puncher, should a penalty kick be awarded to the team of the puncher?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
A penalty kick would be awarded to the team of the puncher only if the punch occurs in the opposing team’s penalty area.

That, of course, does not address the subsequent “grabbing” by the player who was punched. Depending on game circumstances, that might merit a caution to the player who did the grabbing. The grabbing cannot be a foul because what is described is a sequential series of infringements and the striking occurred first, so that is when play stopped. Because play was stopped, even if the whistle had not been blown, the grabbing can be only misconduct.


COACHING DURING THE GAME [LAW 5]
Your question:
I am a house league soccer coach for a 7th and 8th grade girls team. I have been coaching soccer for over ten seasons. During that time I have consistently helped the players understand where their correct position should be on the field during games. The insructions I give are to “Drop Back” or “defenders to midfield” things like that. I will occasionally say “Shelby cover number 6” or “somebody cover number 6” or “everybody cover a player”. Last week I was warned by a sideline refereee that I was violating FIFA rules in saying these things. When I pursued the matter with our league referee director he told me that coaches are to be essentially spectators with the exception of calling for substitutions. Please help me clarify what level of direction I am permitted to give my players within the rules for a team of this age and level.

USSF answer (April 7, 2004):
Coaches are allowed and encouraged to provide their players with helpful information.

Coaches are not permitted to badger the referee or assistant referees (or club linesmen) and are not permitted to indulge in misconduct of any sort by passing out misleading information that will lead the opposing team astray. In general, occasional helpful and positive information to one’s own players is acceptable. Comments which are directed at opponents; are negative, disparaging, or distracting; undermine the authority of the officials; or are so frequent as to constitute choreographing every move of the players are not acceptable and may result in the coach being warned about his behavior or even ordered from the field for behaving irresponsibly. In general, less and less needs to be said by coaches as the experience and skill level of the teams increase.

The league should take this into account in training its coaches so that they understand clearly the difference between tactical instruction and irresponsible behavior.


MISINTERPRETATION OF THE LAWS [LAW 18]
Your question:
Can you please give me a concise definition of “Misinterpretation of the Laws of the Game”?

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
“Misinterpretation of the Laws” means that a referee has totally misread and misapplied the Law, the Q&A, and the Additional Instructions, as well as the USSF Advice to Referees.

Example: Giving an offside for a player who has not left his own half of the field of play, simply because there was only one opponent between him and the opposing goal.

Example: Giving a direct free kick for the offense described above.

Both of these were in a question that came in this week–from the assistant referee on the game.


SIGNALS BY PLAYERS; HOLDING [LAW 18; LAW 12]
Your question:
It’s soccer time again, and I have questions…
1) Quite often, and at all levels, the player taking the corner kick raises his hand upright just before executing the kick. What is the significance of this action and is it required?
2) A Team A attacker receives an on-side pass in the penalty area just above the PK marker, while surrounded by 3 Team B defenders. As the same attacker (from Team A) is about to shoot on goal he is held at the waist from behind by one of the Team B attackers. The attacker still manages to get a shot off and the ball enters the net. Is this an Advantage goal or a PK? What if the ball went straight out of touch, would that change anything?

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
1) The raised hand is a signal to the kicker’s team that he is about to kick. You will have to check with the player himself to determine the signal’s true significance and whether or not it is required.

2) Why would a referee take away a goal scored from a trifling foul and award a penalty kick? Award the advantage, if truly necessary, and score the goal.

If, following the holding, the kicker’s shot goes awry and over the goal line, the referee will have to judge whether or not the holding was significant enough to be called a foul. If it was, then the correct restart is a penalty kick.


WAS IT A FOUL? INTENT VS. RESULT [LAW 12]
Your question:
I would like to get your comments concerning a situation that occurred during a U16 girls game in which I was the referee. During the pace of the game the ball was volleyed from near midfield toward one of the goals. The attacking team’s forward and opponent’s defender bolted side by side toward the bouncing ball. As they raced past the the top of the 18 the attacker gained a stride and was able to get a partial foot on the bounding ball which the keeper caught. A split second afterwards the defender’s extended leg and the offensive player’s feet got tangled and the players went down. To the dismay of the attacking team’s coach I did not call for a PK, his protest was that a foul in the PA area is a foul and a PK should be awarded. My position is this: both players are fairly and cleanly challenging for the ball. The attacker gained a stride which allowed her to get the shot off. The defender’s action precipitated the tangle up and causing both players to go down however the action was not reckless or use of excessive force. To some it may be considered careless however the total situation needs to be ascertained. Would the outcome (attacker getting the shot off and keeper catching the ball) have been the same if the tangle up (trip according to the coach) not occurred? In my opinion the answer is yes, and along with the defender’s trip being more unintentional than purposeful and occurring after the shot was taken I decided to not call the foul. A chat with the defender about being more careful sufficed.

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
An interesting question and one that we have answered before. It is, of course, your opinion as referee that determines whether or not a foul has occurred. Without wishing to seem to be insulting you–particularly as your decision may well have been correct in the end–your opinion would seem to have been based on erroneous reasoning.

We referees are no longer required to judge “intent” in an act by one player against another, but to judge the result of the act instead. However, we are allowed to distinguish between an act that is accidental and one that is deliberate.

All referees need to remember that “intent” is not an issue in deciding what is or is not a foul, regardless of age, and that something at the youngest age levels might nonetheless be considered a foul if it is determined to be careless. No age is too young to begin learning not to be careless.

For example, in the case of a player stumbling and colliding with an opponent, we would judge the act to be careless, reckless, or involving the use of excessive force–and thus a foul–only if the player had already begun to trip (or attempt to trip), push, kick (or attempt to kick), strike (or attempt to strike), jump at or charge his opponent. If the player was still merely pursuing the opponent and happened to stumble and fall, colliding with the opponent on the way down, there has been no foul, as the act was simply accidental or inadvertent.

Only you, as the referee on the spot, can tell us whether this is in fact what happened.


DELIBERATE PASS TO THE GOALKEEPER [LAW 12]
Your question:
I had a discussion with the referees at my last game (FIFA/US Soccer Laws). I was standing at the 6 yard line as a defender trying to clear the ball out. It was extremely windy and I miskicked the ball. It glanced off my shin into the air and the wind picked it up and pushed it back towards our goalkeeper. He then picked it up and threw the ball about 30 yards up the field towards the left touchline. The AR on that side of the field then signaled the center referee. The center referee stopped play (while the ball was in play by the touchline). He consulted with the AR, told him that he did not think the pass was intentional and there was no penalty/indirect kick to be awarded. The center referee then restarted the game with a drop ball at the 6-yard line (where the goalie had handled the ball). I think the center referee made the correct call, but restarted the ball improperly. I have 3 questions.

1) The law states it is unlawful for the goalkeeper in his own penalty area to handle the ball after being deliberately kicked by a teammate. Does this mean that even on a miskick, where a player meant to kick the ball (i.e. a bad clear), just not to the goalie, would count here? Could the goalie pick this ball up on a miskick.

2) I agree that the game should have been restarted with a drop ball, but shouldn’t it have been restarted where the ball was when the referee stopped play?

3) How do the words intentionally and deliberately play out here?

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
1. The goalkeeper may certainly handle the ball when it has been clearly misdirected by a teammate. (An example might be a player trying to clear the ball and slicing it or having it caught and carried back by the wind, so that it goes back to the goalkeeper.) Referees should punish such handling only when, in the opinion of the referee, the pass was deliberate.

2. The ball should have been dropped at the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.

3. The word “intentionally” does not occur in the Laws of the Game. (However, the word “intent” does occur once, in the Additional Instructions at the end of the book, where referees are instructed to caution players who delay the restart of play by certain tactics.) The word “deliberately” means that the player did what he or she planned to do.


LET THE PLAYER IN, REFEREE! [LAW 3; LAW 18]
Your question:
One of my players left the field when I sent in substitutes, 5 went in 6 came off. I notified the AR and wanted to send him in, I was told that I had to wait until a normal substitution situation , I thought I needed to get the Refs. Ok and he could enter at any time after the ref waved him in. I waited 6 minutes till he went in playing a man down. Please advise the proper procedure for me.

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
In this case, your player should be allowed to enter at any time, whether play is stopped or not, but only with the referee’s permission. Because this is not a substitution, this would apply even under the rules of a competition that specifies that a substitute may enter only at particular times.


“SERIOUS INJURY” TURNS OUT TO BE SIMULATION [LAW 5; LAW 12]
Your question:
Play is on when you see, off to the right, a player go down and writhing in pain. You didn’t see any foul but due to concern of player appearing to be seriously injured you stop play. Once you stop play, he amazingly jumps up and runs to where you are. He earns himself a caution for exaggerating the injury. Do you restart with dropped ball from place ball was when you stopped play for the injury? Or do you view the misconduct as occurring simultaneously and punish this with a restart of an IFK from where the player was?

USSF answer (April 5, 2004):
When play is stopped for a player who is seriously injured, the normal restart would be a dropped ball from the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play (taking into consideration the special circumstances described in Law 8). However, if the “serious injury” turns out to be simulation, the referee cautions the player for unsporting behavior and shows the yellow card. The restart in this case is indirect free kick from the place where the infringement occurred (taking into consideration the special circumstances described in Law 8).


REFEREES AND TOBACCO [LAW 18; Q&A]
Your question:
Please forgive me if I’m only supposed to send questions about the laws of the game to askareferee@ussoccer.org but I did not know who else to ask.

Where could I find a bylaw or rule on the USSF web site which says use of tobacco by USSF referees is not allowed?

Someone has asked me for documentation and while I remember my referee instructor mentioning this, I do not remember where he said the rule could be found.

USSF answer (April 5, 2004):
You will not find this restriction in the Laws of the Game, nor anywhere else. However, you will find in the International Football Association’s (IFAB) Questions and Answers to the Laws of the Game that a player may not use tobacco during a match. (Law 12, Q&A 3) The Q&A does not say tobacco, but does say “lights a cigarette.” The connection is clear and definite.

As defined in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” “during a match” includes:
(a) 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;
(b) any periods in which play is temporarily stopped;
(c) half time or similar breaks in play;
(d) required overtime periods;
(e) kicks from the penalty mark if this procedure is used in case a winner must be determined; and
(f) the period of time immediately following the end of play during which the players and substitutes are physically on the field but in the process of exiting.

It is a tenet of the National Program for Referee Development that a referee should do nothing in the vicinity of the field that he or she would not allow a player to do. Thus the use of tobacco in any form would be a violation of the referee’s compact with the United States Soccer Federation.


KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF THE PLAYERS! [LAW 18]
Your question:
I have a question about physical contact between a referee and a youth player that is initiated by the referee. There are obviously extremes on both ends; the acceptable being a handshake after a game, the unacceptable being a referee striking a player. The physical contact I am not sure about is that in between. At a recent game I witnessed the referee pull a player aside by grabbing the player’s wrist. Another incident occurred shortly after in the game where the ref put his hands on another players shoulders while talking to the boy. The ref said that the player claimed to have something in his eye and he was checking, but the appearance at the time was more confrontational. The age of the players in this game was 12/13.

I am personally a referee myself and a parent of two boys who play competitive soccer. When I ref a game I make a conscious decision not to make any type of intentional contact with the players other than to shake hands after a game and then only when initiated by the player. As a parent I do not want a referee to use physical force, threats of force, or even any unnecessary physical contact with my boys. At the same time, I have never seen any type of real guidelines on what could be considered appropriate or inappropriate contact initiated by a referee with a player and only go by my own feelings on the issue. I do understand that this is a very complicated issue with different answers based on the situation, the age and sex of the referee, the players, and even the level of the match, so I am trying to find out what is considered acceptable.

USSF answer (April 5, 2004):
No referee should ever lay hands on any player for any reason other than to help a player in need of assistance to rise from the ground. Some referees will attempt to break up fights, but that is not recommended.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION/KICKING THE ‘KEEPER [LAW 12]
Your question:
Further to your goalkeeper safety answer on 12-Feb-04, in a match on 27-Mar-04 the opponents goalkeeper in his penalty area tried to tackle the ball (fairly) from an attacker with both feet. The keeper wound up on the ground with the ball under and between his legs. When the attacker tried to kick it out, the referee awarded a DFK to the defenders and called it “in the keeper’s possession.” The attacker’s foot made contact with the ball but not the keeper. The keeper was not touching the ball with his hands or arms.

The attacker’s coach objected to this call because keeper possession is defined as “contact with hands or arms.” I told the coach the correct call should be dangerous play on the attacker and the ball (IFK) should still be awarded to the defenders. It still didn’t seem fair play by the keeper. Could the call have been anything else – to award the ball to the attackers?

USSF answer (April 2, 2004):
What is fair to one may not seem fair to another. Was the goalkeeper given a chance to get up and play the ball properly? If so, but the ‘keeper chose not to do so, then the ‘keeper should be called for playing in a dangerous manner and the ‘keeper’s team should be penalized by the indirect free kick for the opponents. If the goalkeeper had no clear chance to stand and play the ball properly, then the correct call, if not the correct words by the referee, would be kicking (or attempting to kick) by the player on the opposing team, and the goalkeeper’s team would be awarded a direct free kick. (Under some circumstances, the referee might consider a send-off for serious foul play.)


DROPPED BALL; MISCONDUCT AT A PENALTY KICK [LAW 8; LAW 14]
Your question:
1. During a “drop ball” restart, one team elected not to participate. The player on the team that did, kicked the ball twice when the ball was dropped. There is nothing in the rules stating that this is ok or not so what’s the call? Is the player entitled to kick the ball twice? 2. During a penalty kick the defending players all yelled in an un sports man like manner just as the opposing player was about to kick the ball and thereby distracting that player. The ball did not go in. What should be the call? If it is un sports man like and every player was involved, who should be cautioned and what should the restart be? Should the player attempting the kick be allowed another chance?

These were youth games- U14. I was the ref so I wanted to see if I made the correct call. I’ve check the various ref manuals and could not find a reference for these events.

USSF answer (April 2, 2004):
1. At a dropped ball, the ball is in play the moment it hits the ground. Because he or she did not put it into play, there is no reason to punish a player for playing the ball twice. The two-touch limitation applies only to restarts performed by a player.

2. Follow the instructions in Law 14: Allow the kick to be taken. If it enters the goal, score the goal. If the ball does not enter the goal, retake the penalty kick. For game management purposes, this is not a situation in which you would simply warn the opposing player(s). Therefore, do not retake the kick until you have cautioned at least one of the players on the opposing team for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. Your choice as to which player(s) to caution, but it might be wise to select a player who has not previously been cautioned.


DECISION MAKING [LAW 18]
Your question:
An offensive player receives the ball near the penalty spot, he has 2 defenders and the goalie in front of him, he dribbles past the first defender, cuts right and dribbles past the second defender, he then nears the post, changes the ball from one foot to the other as the goalie dives to block the shot, the keeper knocks the off ball foot with his reach,disbalancing the shot, the shot goes wide, penalty kick is awarded. QUESTION. Is this a red cardable, last man situation?

USSF answer (March 23, 2004):
That is a problem that can be resolved only by the referee on the spot, the only person who has seen what has gone on and the only person qualified to judge. Any and all situations regarding the possible denial of a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity are, in the final analysis, decided by the referee on this basis. No one can make this decision from the comfort of a computer, standing on the sidelines as a spectator, or from a seat in the stands or in front of the television set. As a matter of fact, the same could be said of any decision for a foul or misconduct.


GOALKEEPER HANDLES BALL OUTSIDE OWN PENALTY AREA [LAW 12]
Your question:
I had a concern about a play. The play is: The goalie comes out of his box playing it on the ground with two defenders behind him, one to his right and the other to his left. The goalie accidentally kicks it to the opposing player. The forward gets the ball and deliberately shoots towards the goal and the goalie purposely blocks it with his hands outside of the penalty area. The referee whistles for the foul,the opposing team quickly puts the ball down and shoots it towards goal and it goes in. The referee counts it as a goal and after gives the keeper a yellow card. We’ve been having this confusion for awhile now because it happened to one of our fellow refs. Is this correct? Thank You for your time; it is greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (March 21, 2004):
Unfortunately, the referee acted incorrectly in this case. If the referee believes that the goalkeeper denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball outside his penalty area, the correct punishment is to send off the goalkeeper and show him the red card. In this particular case, it is unlikely that the referee would send off the goalkeeper, as there were two defenders behind the ‘keeper when he committed his handling offense.

In any case of misconduct, if the referee fails to caution (yellow card) or send off (red card) the player immediately and the opposing team takes its free kick quickly–which it is allowed to do unless the referee stops it–then the referee may neither send off nor caution that player after play has restarted. This shows just how important it is for the referee to manage restarts effectively.


STOPPING PLAY [LAW 5; LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
The following hypothetical question was asked during a recent entry-level clinic I taught.  The more I think about it, the more my brain falls victim to paralysis of analysis.

The ball is in play under the control of the red team at the edge of the blue team’s penalty area. The Referee is well positioned on the left wing, trailing play by about 5 yards, where he can observe play and maintain eye contact with his lead AR. When the Referee sees his lead AR’s flag go up, he whistles a stoppage in play. The lead AR then points in the direction of the trail AR.

The Referee looks back to his trail AR, who has his flag raised and gives it a wave.  The referee back pedals to the trail AR to ask him what he observed. The trail AR tells the Referee that he observed the red sweeper and a blue forward exchange blows while standing near the half-way line in the center of the field. Unfortunately, the trail AR confessed that he was mostly watching the ball and did not observe who struck the first blow.

After deciding to send-off the two pugilists for violent misconduct, the Referee must now restart play. Since play was stopped for what turned out to be a penal foul (striking) he decides the restart must be a direct free kick from the point of the infraction. But, he wonders, in which direction should this free kick be taken?

The class had fun coming up with alternatives, including (1) give the free kick to the attacking team, since they had possession when play was stopped; (2) just guess which direction to call and hope you’re correct;  (3) restart with a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped; and (4) restart with a dropped ball at the point where the violent misconduct took place.

My immediate response to the class was that the Referee needed to earn his money and decide which direction play should go with a direct free kick, and that after the game he should have a very long, heart to heart talk with the trail AR.

So tell me, what is the officially correct answer?

USSF answer (March 19, 2004):
The “officially correct answer” is precisely as you stated–the referee must make a decision and stick with it under any circumstances. Restarting with a dropped ball is not an option.

In addition, it might be useful to note that there was a referee error embedded in the question: “When the Referee sees his lead AR’s flag go up, he whistles a stoppage in play.” At the point of seeing the assistant referee’s flag go up, the referee has no idea what the AR is trying to do other than gain the referee’s attention and, accordingly, stopping play THEN is incorrect. The flag straight up in the air is nothing more than a “Hey, ref!” call. The subsequent eye contact is the referee’s reply of “Yeah, what is it?” and this must then be followed by some AR action that tells the referee why the referee’s attention was wanted. In this case, the lead AR, who has mirrored the other AR’s flag, points to the trail AR, who then informs the referee that an event has occurred out of the view of the referee for which the referee would have stopped play if he had seen it. This is the correct point at which to stop play.


PREVENTING THE GOALKEEPER FROM RELEASING THE BALL [LAW 12]
Your question:
What should the referee do if a player who is outside the penalty area intentionally stops the goalkeeper from releasing the ball?

I told one of our referees here that play should be stopped, the player should be cautioned and play restarted with an indirect kick to the goalkeeper’s team. He said no because the player is outside of the penalty area. It is only when the offence occurs in the penalty area that the referee should take such action.

USSF answer (March 19, 2004):
The makers of the Laws of the Game changed the Law some years ago to prevent time wasting by the team with the ball, such as the goalkeeper standing around holding the ball. Now that a limit has been set on the time during which the goalkeeper may hold the ball, the Law expects all players to refrain from delaying or otherwise interfering with the goalkeeper’s right to release the ball into play for all players. Any interference with the movement of the goalkeeper who is trying to release the ball into play is illegal, particularly any movement to block the goalkeeper’s line of sight or motion. Interference with the release of the ball is purely a positional thing, regardless of whether the goalkeeper is moving at the time.

It makes no difference where the interfering player stands, whether inside or outside the penalty area.


TOUCH [LAW 18]
Your question:
At a recent game, a player chasing a ball across the touch line, twisted his knee. The Center Referee made a comment that the player injured himself while playing the ball into touch. I asked him isn¹t this out of touch, as the ball was leaving the field?

So my question is when a ball leaves the field over the touch line does it go out of or into touch?

USSF answer (March 19, 2004):
The term “touch” in describing the area surrounding the actual field is an old one in soccer. It goes back to the nineteenth century, when the first player getting to the ball after it left the bounds of the field could “touch” it and the ball became his to put back into play. Although that no longer applies and there are strict rules about who puts the ball back into play, depending on who last touched, played, or made contact with the ball before it left the field, the term “touch” is still used to describe the area outside the “touch lines.”

2004 Part 1

PROCEDURE FOR PENALTY KICKS [PROCEDURES]
Your question:
Question about procedure for penalty kicks: I recently received complaint from keeper stating that before signalling for kick to be taken, I must ask him if he is ready. I told the keeper that before I signal for the kick to be taken, I observe the keeper to be sure he is on his line, I observe the placement of the ball and the kick-taker, and when I think all is in order, I signal for the kick to be taken.

Is this proper procedure and are other details necessary in respect to confirming that players are ready? In this men’s match, I had to caution the keeper for showing dissent when he repeated confronted me on this issue.

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
The USSF Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials gives us the following procedure for the taking of the penalty kick:
QUOTE
P. Penalty Kick
Referee
– Whistles to stop play.
– Points clearly to the penalty mark and, unless needed elsewhere for game control purposes, moves to the edge of the penalty area near the goal line to avoid confrontation and dissent.
– Deals with players who may attempt to protest or dispute the decision.
– Supervises the placement of the ball.
– Identifies the kicker.
– Moves to a position in line with the top of the goal area to supervise the penalty kick, far enough from the penalty mark to see all the players.
– When the ball and all the players are properly in position, signals for the kick to be taken.
– If a goal is scored, backpedals quickly up field keeping all the players under observation.
END OF QUOTE

There is no requirement in the Law or the Guide to Procedures to check on the goalkeeper’s readiness, and a close analysis of the situation might suggest that the goalkeeper is playing for time, hoping to ice the kicker. A quick word to the goalkeeper that the kick is about to be taken is all that is necessary.


PROCEDURE AT SEND-OFF/RED CARD [PROCEDURES]
Your question:
A couple of weeks ago a member of our team was sent off and we would like some clarification about the proper procedure for sending off a player.

Here is the setting: It was a GU15 game with less than 2 minutes to play. In the attacking half our player (sending off player) was played in to the top of the 18. The defender did well to get back and position herself to take the ball with the back foot. Our player did not see the player until she turned towards goal and then ran into the defender.

The official blew his whistle for the foul and then called our player over. He asked our player for her first name. He then asked her last name and how to spell her last name. After he had written her name he told her to turn around. While she was turned away he pulled out his red card and put it in the air.

When our player reached the sidelines I asked what the red was for. She replied I don’t know, he didn’t tell me anything, he just asked for my name, last name, how to spell it and then told me to turn around. She did not realize it was a red until she got to the sidelines and I told her. I asked the official why he red carded her. He said he did not need to tell me. I then asked him to tell the player that was sent off, he said he did not have to.

Although I question his decision for the sending off, I would like some clarification to the rules and procedures for cautions and sending off of players.

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
You asked for procedure, you get procedure! This answer is straight from the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials.” The referee in your case did several things wrong, particularly not informing the player that she had been sent off — although why else would she leave the field; do we have a disconnect here? — and not telling her why.

QUOTE
4. Misconduct­Play Stopped
A. Referee
– Quickly identifies and begins moving toward offending player and beckons player to approach.
– Attempts to draw offending player away from teammates and opponents.
– Discourages others from approaching, interfering or participating.
– Stops a reasonable distance away from offending player and begins recording necessary information.
– States clearly and concisely that the player is being cautioned or sent from the field and displays the appropriate card by holding it straight overhead.
– If the player is being sent off, delays the restart of play until the player has left the field entirely.
– In situations where the event or conduct being penalized includes the potential for retaliation or further misconduct, immediately moves to the location of the misconduct and displays the appropriate card before recording any information.
END OF QUOTE


MISCONDUCT FOLLOWING OTHER INFRINGEMENTS [LAW 8; LAW 18]
Your question:
Attacker A passes a through ball to attacker B, who is offside. You blow the whistle for offside; as you are blowing the whistle, defender A trips attacker B. (not violent enough for a card, but if attacker A were not offside a goal scoring opportunity would have been denied). The play occurred midway between the 18 and midfield. What is the call and restart?

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
We don’t deal in “might-have-beens” on goalscoring opportunities. If there was no obvious goalscoring opportunity, then you cannot punish someone for denying or attempting to deny it. As a matter of fact, you can never punish anyone for attempting to deny a goalscoring opportunity–you punish them for unsporting behavior, if that is applicable, which it is not in this case. You are the referee and may certainly caution the defender if you like, but it had better be for the precise thing he did, not something that might have happened.

Correct action in this case would be to have a quiet word with the defender and then restart with the indirect free kick for offside.


RETAKES OF PENALTY KICKS [LAW 14]
Your question:
Is there a limit to the number of “re-takes” of penalty kicks? The question came up after the keeper moved off his line three straight times by 4-6 ft each time. He stopped the first two kicks and the third hit the post after the shooter tried to kick around the keeper. This was a U14b in a very competitive classic league. Both the middle and AR (me) called the encroachment each time. Due to other unfortunate circumstances the match was abandoned after the third kick. Several older more experienced referees starting discussing the situation and several opinions emerged.
1. Middle should have issued a yellow card after the second kick for persistent infringement and warned the goalkeeper that further violations would result in a red card.
2. Encroachment should not have been called on the third try since the shot hit the post. Play should have been allowed to continue.

Being the AR in the middle of this situation I somewhat agree with the first opinion(if game could have continued I would have issued a yellow card after the third attempt); but I disagree with the second opinion. The second opinion encourages future violations of the law.

The unfortunate circumstances involved the mix of the following:
1. Red card to defending team player for foul and abusive language
2. Defending team coach coming onto field
3. Defending team parents becoming abusive and coming onto the field
4. Defending team coach pulling his team off the field (he says he was merely pulling them aside to calm them down but players left the field and subs entered the field)

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
No, there is no limit on the number of retakes that are permitted or required to satisfy the Law. Only the referee on the game can know for sure what should be done in each case of infringement. Common practice is to warn the first time a player infringes the requirements of Law 14, followed by a caution and yellow card for persistent infringement of the Law on the second and subsequent infringements.

It is unfortunate that the game had to be terminated — note correct terminology; in this case the game was not abandoned, but terminated. Proper vigilance by the fourth official (if there was one) could have prevented the coach and parents from entering the field. All circumstances were, of course, fully documented and reported in the referee’s match report.


SETTING THE “WALL” [PROCEDURES]
Your question:
Is there any published guidance or standard practice for establishing this distance? Once the decision has been made to stop play I have been instructed in annual training that it is not appropriate to “step off” 10 yards; rather, the Referee should quickly indicate where the 10-yard distance is “estimated” to be. It was explained that this prevents unnecessary delay of the restart and that the referee looks much more professional being confident in his judgment of 10 yards. I have recently noticed a number of referees “stepping off” distance and defending this as proper mechanics under certain circumstances (close to goal).

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
It is common practice for the referee to establish the distance of the wall by becoming the “first brick in the wall.” As a referee grows more experienced and confident, the distance can be measured by eye and the wall backed off as necessary. The referee should never allow getting the ten yards to interfere with the kicking team’s right to a quick free kick.


YOUTH SUBSTITUTION [RULES OF THE COMPETITION]
Your question:
Recently, I was center and an injury occurred. I permitted the injured player to sub and asked the opposing bench if they would like 1 substitution also. (1 for 1). After the half, one of my AR’s said the rules permitted unlimited substitution at stoppage for injury. I told him that he was thinking about high school not USSF. He seemed sure that the rules had changed for USSF. I went to confirm in the rules but can not find either the original position which allows 1 for 1 or the revision allowing for unlimited substitution. What is the correct position??

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
You are both wrong. The Laws of the Game permit substitution for either team at any stoppage in play, whether for injury or not–and have done so since substitution was first permitted in the Dark Ages before the1930s. Some sets of youth rules formerly restricted substitution artificially, but those rules have now been changed at the national level. But, just to be safe, check the rules of the competitions in which you referee.


WHEN IS THE BALL OUT OF PLAY? [LAW 8; LAW 18]
Your question:
A defender fouls near the penalty area (or even in the penalty area itself). You wait a second or two for the advantage, but none seems to develop, so you whistle the foul. Just as you whistle, or during the whistle itself, the attacker gets the ball and scores. Can you allow the goal as the actual kick was taken in the second that you whistled, or perhaps even a split second before? Or must you deny the goal and restart with a free kick to the attacking team?

USSF answer (March 11, 2004):
Too many referees would simply allow the goal and go merrily on their way, avoiding controversy and abdicating their responsibilities. Unfortunately, that is wrong and the coward’s way out. Once the referee has decided to punish an infringement of the Laws, play has effectively stopped, whether or not the referee has already blown the whistle. Deny the goal, restart with the free kick or penalty kick, as appropriate to the site of the foul.

In addition, the referee must remember that it is not usually a good idea to apply the advantage in the penalty area. More properly, we hold our whistle to see the IMMEDIATE result of the play (ball in the net or not) and whistle either the kick-off if it did go into the net (the gods of soccer smiled on us) or for a penalty kick if it did not.


METAL STUDS [LAW 4]
Your question:
I am hearing several instructors stating that a player can not wear metal studs, is this a true statement. I wear them and many other players wear them.

USSF answer (March 8, 2004):
No, there is no specific ban in Law 4 on metal studs or studs of any particular type. The sole requirement is that the player’s shoes not be dangerous to himself or to any other player.

Please study this earlier answer and the USSF position paper mentioned in it, available from this and other sites:
USSF answer (November 11, 2003):
If the studs are safe — no burrs or sharp edges — they are probably legal under the terms of Law 4 and the March 7, 2003, U. S. Soccer memorandum on the safety of player equipment. Many competitions ban the use of metal studs, so please check with your local competition authority (league or whatever), just to be sure.


REDUCE TO EQUATE [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
At a recent clinic, we had a disagreement about the reduce to equate principle. My colleague asserted that a team that finished with more players than the other (i. e., 10 v 11) could remove its goalkeeper from the list of eligible kickers, but allow him to remain in goal. I believe that the “reduced” player is treated as a player who is sent-off in that he can not participate in anyway. Could you please clear this up for us?

USSF answer (March 8, 2004):
A goalkeeper must remain among the players who take part in kicks from the penalty mark. That means in all aspects of the procedure, not simply keeping goal.


ADVERTISING ON THE FIELD OR APPURTENANCES [LAW 1]
Your question:
I was wondering if a team is allowed to print the team name on the goalposts or the crossbar.

USSF answer (March 8, 2004):
The International Football Association Board, the people who make the Laws of the Game, has indicated that there should be no advertising on the field of play or on the appurtenances (such as the goal).


STOPPING PLAY TO CAUTION [LAW 18]
Your question:
An attacking player commits misconduct (cautionable offence) — simulation in the defenders’ PA. Within the law the referee may stop play immediately or wait until the ball is out of play to caution the culprit. Should the referee stop play to caution the culprit if no advantage accrues to the defenders? Or wait until the ball is out of play? Should the referee stop play to caution the culprit if an advantage accrues to the attackers (culprit team)?

USSF answer (March 5, 2004):
Let us first consider the reason behind the simulation. Was there an actual foul committed by a member of the defending team, followed by an embellishment of the results of the infringement by an opposing player hoping to get a penalty kick or have one of the defending players cautioned or sent off? If so, then it might be reasonable to invoke the advantage and still deal with both players, as necessary, at the next stoppage.

If there was no prior foul or misconduct by a defending player, then there is no reason to invoke the advantage. The referee must consider whether the team offended against would actually benefit from allowing play to continue. It is very often of greater benefit to award a free kick, rather than risk the use of advantage in front of the gaining team’s goal. Why reward a team whose player has committed misconduct by giving them a chance at the opponents’ goal? In principle advantage should normally only be played when a promising attacking move or an obvious goalscoring opportunity would occur.

A good rule to remember is that, in general, we don’t apply advantage to situations in which the infraction is committed BY a member of the team with the ball at the time.


SHIRT-PULLING [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In my opinion, grabbing opponent’s shirt looks very bad in the picture of the newspaper (the sportswriters seem to like it and printed often), and also it is a bad habit. However I was told that since the modern shirts are so flexible that the act of pulling would not cause an adverse effect on the opponent enough to warrant a foul call (for high-level plays).

So, do the referees have to make a judgment on whether the shirt being pulled is flexible enough? Besides, isn’t the act of shirt pulling itself constitutes an unfair advantage of gaining body balance at the expense of the opponent?

USSF answer (March 3, 2004):
It makes no difference whether the shirt is “flexible” or not. The referee makes the judgment whether the shirt was pulled (and the player thus held) or not. Then the referees decides whether this act was trivial. If it was trivial, i. e., didn’t make any difference, then the holding is not called.

If the holding is a blatant attempt to pull an opponent away from the ball or prevent an opponent from getting to the ball, then it becomes unsporting behavior and must be cautioned. (See the pictures on page 3 of the Winter 2003-2004 issue of Fair Play, available only on the web at ussoccer.com.)


DOES THE LAW REALLY MEAN THAT?
Your question:
Who is the best person to direct a question towards about a part of the law that is actually misleading and incorrect? Do I have to go through my SDI, SRA, or SDA?

Law 2: The ball is . . of a pressure equal to 0.6 – 1.1 atmosphere (600 – 1100 g/cm2) at sea level (8.5 lbs/sq in15.6 lbs/sq in).

The law shouldn’t state “Sea Level”. That is misleading. Where ever a ball is tested, it tests relative atmospheric pressure. If you use the thumb test, it will test the ball where you are. If you use a pressure gauge, it will also test the ball where you are.

It is true that if you pump up a ball to 8.5 psi in San Diego, and then transport the ball to Denver, the pressure will be off. Conversely, if you correctly inflate a ball in Denver, and take it to Boston, it will not have the correct pressure. It is also true that it may take a different amount of air to inflate that same ball in San Diego, Denver or Boston.

However, all 3 balls, when pumped up to 8.5 (or any stated pressure) will have the same amount of “hardness.” I carry a pressure gauge in my ref bag. That same gauge will work in Denver, Boston or San Diego. And, I don’t need to make any conversion for the altitude. The pressure on the ball should be 8.5 – 15.6 on my gauge, wherever I go.

USSF answer (March 3, 2004):
It is true that the wording of the Law is scientifically incorrect, since a pressure less than 1 atm is a vacuum. The critical point is that everyone who plays the game or is involved with it knows what this is intended to mean, so the exact wording does not really matter.

In fact, the pressure requirements should state “above ambient atmospheric pressure” and in this regard you are correct. However you are not the first to point this out, nor will you be the last. Many “new” officials, especially here in the United States, seize on this point.

Anyone who wishes to propose a change to the Laws of the Game must start first in his or her state association.


“PRIMARY COLOR” JERSEY
Your question:
Does primary color mean that the Gold jersey is always to be worn unless there is a color conflict with one of the team’s uniform? I have seen professional games where the referee crew wears a color other than gold when neither of the two teams has yellow in their uniform.

USSF answer (March 2, 2004):
“Primary color” means that if you have only one uniform jersey, it must be the gold one. Obviously, if there is no color conflict, especially at the local level, that is the shirt everyone must have. What the referees do in professional games should not be used as the yardstick in this matter; other things come into play there, such as what provides the best color contrast for television.


WHEN IS THE BALL OUT OF PLAY [LAW 8; LAW 18]
Your question:
Attacker in the PA goes down. The referee clearly determines in his mind that the attacker took a dive (simulation). As the referee is about to blow the whistle, the ball goes to another attacker whose legs are taken out by a defender. The referee awards a PK to the attacking team but cautions the first attacker for simulation. Is this the correct call and restart?

USSF answer (March 1, 2004):
Once the referee has made the decision that misconduct has been committed, he cannot neglect to punish it at the next restart. That does not prevent him from invoking the advantage clause and then dealing with a second infringement of the Laws, provided that the first infringement was committed by an opponent, rather than the team with the ball. In this case, because the referee had already determined in his mind that the attacker’s action was a simulation and therefore misconduct, play stopped at that moment. Advantage cannot be applied because it was a player on the team with the ball who committed the violation.

The referee has only one choice here: Stop play for the attacker’s misconduct (for which he receives a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior) and then, because the next action occurred during a stoppage, warn the defender, and either caution the defender and show the yellow card unsporting behavior) or send off the defender and show the red card (violent conduct), depending on the severity of “legs are taken out” and restart with an indirect free kick for the defense.


THE “SANDWICH” [LAW 12]
Your question:
A recent quiz in Referee Magazine has started some discussion among the referees in my house. By reference, I am a level 8 ref, normally working U18 and down recreational games and currently up to U14 competitive leage games.

In the quiz, the question was asking for the correct restart when B1 fairly charged player A1, who was already being charged by player B1. The given answer (which I later found backed up by the policies for referees document) was a direct kick. The policies discussed this as being holding. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this called, but may have never known to look for it. Is this something which is routinely called, and how quickly should this be called in a youth match?

USSF answer (March 1, 2004):
We are not familiar with any document about policies for referees, other than the Referee Administrative Handbook. Could you possibly mean the Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game?

Yes, this foul is holding, also called a “sandwich,” as the player is sandwiched between two opponents, both of whom are/may be charging fairly. Restart is a direct free kick for the sandwiched player.

Why is it a foul, even though neither of the players making the “sandwich” commits a foul individually? Because they have worked together, against the spirit of the Law, to hold and thus physically restrict, with their bodies, their opponent’s ability to play the ball.

If it is not called routinely, it should be. There is no need for a caution, but a word of warning and explanation to the two players involved would go a long way toward preventing repetition.


AR MECHANICS AT A THROW-IN [PROCEDURES]
Your question:
What are the mechanics for an AR that observes an incorrect throw-in? Also, is the term, “foul throw – in”, correct for this situation?

USSF answer (February 26, 2004):
There are no prescribed mechanics for indicating an incorrect throw-in. The assistant referee, in accordance with the Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials, does what the referee has instructed during the pregame conference. By extension, the AR signal for a foul (and/or misconduct) could be used to indicate ANY infraction of the Law that is not otherwise covered.

Even though it is technically incorrect, the common terminology is “foul throw-in.”


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
A u12 girls state cup match went to penalty kicks after a 0-0 tie in regulation time and 2 10min overtimes. The 2nd girl took her shot and made it but shot before the ref blew his whistle. The ref talked to her and also made a comment to the rest of the girls to make sure and wait for the whistle. He gave the girl another shot and she made it again but again shot before the whistle. At that point he asked her to sit down and did not allow her shot. We won the game in penalty kicks 3-1 and now the other team is protesting stating the ref did not handle it correctly. The best they could have done is tie us even if the shot was allowed and their last kicker had a chance to shoot(last kicker didn’t shoot because we of 2 goal diff). Was this handled correctly?

USSF answer (February 25, 2004):
Reading the description of the situation, we are not sure which mistake the referee may have made: (1) If he forbade the player from shooting again and cancelled her goal but counted her “place” in the rotation as having been taken, this is one sort of error. (2) If he forbade her personally from shooting again but allowed another player from her team to take the kick from the penalty mark in her place, that is a less venal sin.

In either case, the referee did well on the first shot, taken before he had blown the whistle to notify everyone that the kick would now be taken. He should talk to her and warn her that any further infringement of the Law will result in a caution and yellow card for persistently infringing the Laws of the Game. But he didn’t do that; after she took the second shot early again, he forbade the girl from shooting again. If that occurred in possible case (1), the action was wrong and a misapplication of the Laws of the Game. He should have cautioned her, shown the yellow card, and let her shoot again. Maybe she would have gotten it right this time. If the referee simply suggested, as in possible case (2), that another girl take the kick, hoping that the original girl would cool down and figure it out, then he was still in error, as a referee cannot prevent anyone who is eligible from taking a kick. Despite the fact that it was wrong, this error could be put down to common sense and good management, provided he let the original girl kick later — if required.

And finally, if this were recreational play, rather than a state cup or other competitive-level match, the referee might be more lenient and neither warn nor caution the player the first two or three times.


AGGRESSIVE PLAY [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
This is my first year as a soccer referee, USSF, Grade 8. I have difficulty with some youth matches where both teams are playing a physically over-aggressive style play. If fact the parents and coaches cheer on this dangerous style of play with comments such as, ³don¹t stop, be more aggressive, what did you stop for, that¹s the way to be aggressive². When there is a lose ball (in these type of games there are many) players will run at the ball full speed and collide at the ball. Kind of like a game of chicken.  One player will usually get knock down and scream for a foul, but both players were exhibiting equally dangerous play. How should a referee handle this type of situation? Should a foul be called and on which player when both are at fault? I watch professional matches on television and do not see this type of play. It seems that some youth coaches teach aggression over ball handling skill and technique.  Thanks for your advice!

USSF answer (February 24, 2004):
Despite what youth coaches may teach their players about aggressive play, it is up to the referee to curb and control that play which goes beyond simply aggressive and becomes violent and very dangerous. This is best done by immediately calling each act of that sort of aggressive play and dealing with it strongly and appropriately. It helps if other referees who work these games make the same calls, so that the message gets across to the players and, hopefully, to the coaches, that overly aggressive play will not be tolerated.

We suggest that you take to heart the words of the USSF 2003 publication “Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players”:
1. Serious Foul Play and Violent Conduct
Soccer is a tough, combative sport. The contest to gain possession of the ball should nonetheless be fair and gentlemanly. Any actions meeting these criteria, even when vigorous, must be allowed by the referee.
Serious Foul Play and Violent Conduct are, however, strictly forbidden and the referee must react to them by stringently applying the Laws of the Game.
These two offenses can be defined as follows:
(a) It is serious foul play when a player uses excessive force, formerly defined as “disproportionate and unnecessary strength,” when challenging for the ball on the field against an opponent. There can be no serious foul play against a teammate, the referee, an assistant referee, a spectator, etc.
(b) It is violent conduct when a player is guilty of aggression (excessive force or deliberate violence) towards an opponent when they are not competing for the ball. It is also violent conduct if the excessive force is used when the ball is not in play or if it is directed at anyone other than an opponent (e. g., teammate, referee, assistant referee, coach, spectator, etc.). If the violent conduct is committed against an opponent on the field during play, the restart is a direct free kick for the opposing team where the foul occurred (or a penalty kick if it was committed by a defender inside his penalty area). If the violent conduct is by a player during play against anyone on the field other than an opponent, the restart is an indirect free kick where the misconduct occurred. If the violent conduct is committed during a stoppage of play, the restart is not changed. A dropped ball where the ball was when play is stopped is the correct restart if the violent conduct is committed during play either off the field or by a substitute.


HOLD YOUR HORSES! DON’T ANTICIPATE THE COMMAND! [LAW 13; LAW18]
Your question:
In the EPL, I have noticed that on occasion the ref has added 10 yards, or shortened the distance to the goal by 10 yards, the position of a free kick. This per the announcers is for dissent. Will it happen in the US? Where can I find the FIFA rule changes if they are indeed changes?

USSF answer (February 23, 2004):
You will not find any changes, principally because there has been no change. What you are talking about is an experiment that has been going on in England for several years. It is now proposed for adoption as a change to the Laws of the Game effective for competitions that begin on or after July 1, 2004. That will be discussed at a meeting of the International Football Association Board, the people who make the Law of the Game — no, FIFA does NOT do that on its own — on February 28 and 29 in London. The proposed change may or may not be adopted. The change, if it is made, will include reasons for advancing the ball other than simply dissent.

Even after the changes are made, you will do nothing about them until instructions from USSF are disseminated through your state referee program. That is the way the system works. This gives the Federation the time to prepare clearly-defined guidelines for application of the changes to the Laws. It also allows the states to plan clinics in which to brief all referees.


IS IT A FOUL? [LAW 12]
Your question:
A player has the ball on the goal line and is dribbling towards the opponents goal. The goalkeeper comes out to meet the player to challenge for the ball. The player pushes the ball past the goalkeeper, crosses the goal line (leaves the field of play) and the keeper, instead of playing the ball, decides to exit the field of play and deliberately foul the player. This is likely misconduct; however, would it be a penalty kick since the foul occured outside of the field of play?

USSF answer (February 23, 2004):
A foul is an unfair or unsafe action committed by a player against an opponent or the opposing team, on the field of play, while the ball is in play. (Deliberate handling of the ball, also a foul, is committed against the opposing team, not against a particular opponent.) If any of these three requirements is not met, the action is not a foul; however, the action can still be misconduct. In this case, the action occurred off the field of play and so can only be misconduct. The keeper should be cautioned or sent from the field (yellow or red card, depending on whether the action involved violence). If the referee had stopped play solely for the keeper’s action, play would be restarted with a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the exception in Law 8 if this location was inside the goal area).


NO COMPETITION MAY MAKE A RULE CONTRARY TO THE LAWS OF THE GAME [LAW 18]
Your question:
I have a question spurred by something I saw in a tournament last year.  Here’s the situation. During a youth game a mass substitution occurs with both substitutes and players on the field at the same time. (common occurrence for youth games). A red card offense is committed by one of the switching teammates.
I understand that even though proper procedure has not been followed, the substitute becomes a player the instant he steps onto the field. If he were then found guilty of violent conduct during the substitution process, his team would play a man down. What if, after he stepped on the field and became a player, his teammate/counterpart instead committed the violent conduct prior to leaving the field?   Am I correct that this person is a substitute, and although he is ejected, his team remians at full strength?

As a practical matter, once substitutes enter the field in this manner, it’s can be very difficult to reliably identify who the “players” and substitutes” are.

This brings me to my last questions. Do you know of any leagues or competitions where the youth rules are modified such that a team would play short following a red card infraction committed on the field of play, during a substitution, regardless of whether a player or substitute committed the offense? This is being considered as a tournament rule in my area. Is such a modification acceptable for a local USSF-sanctioned youth tournament?

USSF answer (February 23, 2004):
Your intuition is correct. If the new player commits violent conduct during the substitution process or after he has already entered the field (through referee error, but with the referee’s permission), he will be sent off and shown the red card and his team will play short.

As to the former player, even though the referee did not follow the requirements of Law 3, the substitution was completed correctly. The now former player (the one who was substituted out) must be sent off for violent conduct and shown the red card. His team does not have to play short. The game restarts for the reason it had been stopped prior to the substitution.

We are not aware of any rule such as that being considered for the tournament in your area. We can only comment that such a rule would be counter to the Laws of the Game and should not be adopted.


LEAVING THE FIELD OF PLAY [LAW 11, LAW 12]
Your question:
An interesting question has come up. How does the referee interpret the law to get a fair result? Or can he?

SITUATION: A defender has stepped across the goal line to put an attacker in an offside position. Unfortunately the AR misses the misconduct and raises his flag. The referee stops play and discovers the misconduct. The defender must be cautioned.

If the caution were for Leaving, the restart would be an IFK to the attackers from where the ball was when play stopped. If the caution were for USB, the restart would be an IFK to the attackers from the place of infringement, which appears to be off the FOP — and thus the restart would have to be a DB.

My understanding is that IFAB has said that it is USB. However, USSF Advice gives the referee a choice (so it appears). 11.10 says USB while 12.28.7 says Leaving. How could (or should) the referee award an IFK to the attackers? Could the culprit ever be penalized for DOGSO even though it is an officiating error that lead to the stoppage.

USSF answer (February 23, 2004):
There is no call for a dropped ball here. The IFAB/FIFA Q&A instructs the referee to allow play to continue and only punish the unsporting behavior at the next stoppage. In the case you describe, the referee would issue the caution for unsporting behavior and show the yellow card, just as if it had been observed by referee and assistant referee during play and allowed to continue until the ball went out of play. The restart will be for whatever reason the play was stopped; i. e., goal kick, corner kick, throw-in, etc.
NOTE: The offense occurs as the player leaves the field, not once the player is already off the field. See below.

However, if the referee had stopped play solely to deal with the unsporting conduct of leaving the field in an attempt to put an attacker in an offside position, then the restart would be an indirect free kick, taken from the place where the misconduct occurred — which is where the defender left the field. The misconduct is not “off the field” (which would then require a dropped ball), but the act of bringing the game into disrepute by leaving the field to place the opponent in an offside position. The indirect free kick would be taken on the goal line at the place where the player left the field (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).


ABSOLUTELY NO INTERFERENCE ALLOWED! [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
If a coach or assistant coach of a team is not happy with the call that the line ref has made, can the coach or assitant coach request that a certifier or another ref be brought onto the field where the game is in session, who was not scheduled to ref the game to begin with? Also, can they have the certifier or another ref then stop the game and intervene the time of play when the center ref has not called for stoppage of play, so that the certifier or another ref, can train the line ref. Does this not interfere with the game, as well as affect the confidence of the line ref.?

What can I do to bring this to the attention of the right people in authority? Please advise me on this.

USSF answer (February 17, 2004):
If a coach has a problem with an official, the only recourse available is a written report to the appropriate authorities: the State Referee Administrator, the State Youth Referee Administrator, and the assignor. Nor does any other referee or assessor or instructor or assignor have any right to interfere with any game played under the auspices of the U. S. Soccer Federation.

Your recourse is the same as that available to the coach — call and then write to the appropriate authorities.


WHAT’S THE RESTART? [LAW 12]
Your question:
White team is attacking down the right wing in front of AR2. Black player is waiting to substitute, but becomes impatient and enters the field of play during live play. White team player decides that this is not fair and decides to punch the “on the fly” substitute. AR1 and 4th Official get the attention of the Referee. Referee blows the whistle. Ball is now dead on the far side of the field. Referee comes over, gets all the above information from the AR1 and 4th official. Referee issues a Yellow Card to Black Player for Misconduct for entering the field w/o permission and has the Black player return to the bench. Referee issues a Red Card to the White Player for Misconduct for Striking the Black Player. The White Player is “Sent Off” and the White Team now plays with one less man for the rest of the match. What is the correct restart?

USSF answer (February 16, 2004):
The answer will be found in the IFAB Q&A, Law 3, Q&A 13:
13. A substitute enters the field of play without having obtained the permission of the referee. While the ball is in play, an opponent punches him. What action should the referee take? The referee stops play, sends off the player guilty of violent conduct, cautions the substitute for entering the field of play without the permission of the referee and restart the game by an indirect free-kick for the team of the substitute at the place where the infringement occurred.* [The asterisk refers to the special circumstances described in Law 8.]

This is a change from the published edition, made by FIFA after the 2000 Q&A was published. The indirect free kick restart should actually be FOR the team of the substitute (the Black team; because of the violent conduct of the White Player), rather than against the Black team.


OFFSIDE CHANGES? [LAW 11]
Your question:
Recently FIFA changed the offside law and there has apparently been chaos in Europe since then. I’d like to know what kind of changes they actually made and how this rule will change the game.

USSF answer (February 16, 2004):
Whoa! There have been absolutely no changes to Law 11, but simply a restating of how the Law should be interpreted. There will be no change in the way the referee should call the offside in the United States.


SENDING OFF THE GOALKEEPER [LAW 12]
Your question:
I want to be sure of the procedure when a Keeper is ejected. Question: A field player must take over the responsibility of goal keeper when the starting keeper is ejected? Now, at the next appropriate sub situation the coach could replace this goal keeper with one from the bench?

USSF answer (February 16, 2004):
When a goalkeeper is sent off and shown the red card, he may not be replaced. A team must have a goalkeeper, so there are several possibilities for what happens next. One of the players already on the field may take over as goalkeeper. Or, provided there are substitutions remaing, the team may substitute a new goalkeeper in for one of the other players. The end result, in either case, is that the team must continue the match with one fewer player on the field.

And, as a clarification of terminology, players are not “ejected” from soccer games. They may be “sent off” or “dismissed” or even “ordered from the field,” but never “ejected.”


DISSENT OR VIOLENT CONDUCT; YOU DECIDE [LAW 12]
Your question:
If a Ref gives a yellow and the player knocks it out of your hand do you give him a red?

USSF answer (February 16, 2004):
If, in the opinion of the referee, the player’s action constitutes dissent, the referee must caution the player and shown him the yellow card, and then send off and show the player a red card for having committed a second cautionable offense. If, on the other hand, the referee believes the act to constitute violent conduct, the referee would send off the player immediately and show him the red card. Full details must be included in the referee’s match report.


WATER BREAKS FOR OFFICIALS [LAW 18]
Your question:
I have read the advice on allowing player access to water. Is there advise/suggestions to how a Referee or an AR can get water during play? I am thinking about situations when the temp is around 100 and the competition guidelines do not allow for a “water break.”

USSF answer (February 14, 2004):
The referee and assistant referee should exercise common sense and hydrate well before all games during hot weather. They should also find a sheltered place to leave a bottle of water near the field, so that they can get a drink during a natural break in play.

If all else fails, consider this: If the officials are feeling the adverse effects of heat and humidity, it is a sure bet that the players are also and thus a break for them might be in order — something that clearly comes under the referee’s responsibility for player safety.


BEADED HAIR AND OTHER ADORNMENTS [LAW 4]
Your question:
We have more and more situations in which the players are wearing “wooden beads” either tightly against the head or has part of a braided hair style.  We are trying to get the message across that these would be considered “adornment” and thus jewlelry and not allowed because of the dangerous nature of these beads to the player or their opponent.

Is there an official wording or some advise you can give me on how to approach this?  This has become mainly a cultural and age-related issue and we want to handle it in the best way possible.  I am told that these hairdos can cost upwards of $150.  My advice to coaches would be to quickly tell their players (and parents) not to spend the money during soccer season!

What is USSF’s take on this?

USSF answer (February 13, 2004):
Beads and other decorative items are not part of the required equipment for players and cannot be sanctioned for wear in competitive play. Law 4 – Player Equipment – tells us:
The basic compulsory equipment of a player is:
– a jersey or shirt
– shorts — if thermal undershorts are worn, they are of the same main color as the shorts
– stockings
– shinguards
– footwear

The referee must enforce the Laws of the Game, particularly as they apply to the safety of players. Law 4 tells us that players must not wear jewelry of any kind. There is only one permissible exception 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. Beads, as decorative items, must be considered as jewelry. They can also be dangerous, particularly at the end of braids. For these reasons, they are not permitted

If questioned by players, you simply refer them to Law 4. If they do not wish to remove their beads to conform with the Law, inform them that the only alternative to removing the beads or jewelry (or other unauthorized equipment) is not to play at all.

NOTE: 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).”


GOALKEEPER SAFETY [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
What is the rule on Goal Keeper Safety? For Example, if the the goalie has possession of the ball from a diving save. What constitutes his rights once he has made possession of the ball. And his opponents trying to kick at the supposed ball.
Thank You, from a concerned parent.

USSF answer (February 12, 2004):
The goalkeeper establishes possession with as little as one finger on the ball, provided the ball is under his control (in the opinion of the referee) and the ball has been trapped against the ground or some other surface — the ‘keeper’s other hand, the ground, or even a goalpost.

If a player attempts to kick the ball from the goalkeeper’s hands, then the referee should stop the game for the foul of attempted kicking and caution the player for unsporting behavior (and show the yellow card), restarting with a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team. If the player’s foot makes contact with the goalkeeper during this action, the referee may consider sending the player off for serious foul play and showing him the red card.

The position of goalkeeper carries with it implicit dangers of heavy contact with other players. That is an accepted fact of the game. Other than being privileged to deliberately handle the ball within his own penalty area, the goalkeeper has no more rights than any other player.


DOWNLOADING THE GUIDE TO PROCEDURES AND THE ADVICE TO REFEREES
Your question:
Where can I find the USSF publications “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials” and “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”?

USSF answer (February 11, 2004):
You can download the 2003 edition of the Guide to Procedures at this URL:
http://www.ussoccer.com/templates/includes/services/referees/pdfs/GuidetoProcedures.pdf

You can download the 2003 edition of the Advice to Referees at this URL:
http://www.ussoccer.com/templates/includes/services/referees/pdfs/Advice2003.pdf


COACH SITTING OUT SUSPENSION [ADMIN]
Your question:
When a coach is red carded and is serving his one game suspension, can he sit in the stadium and watch the game? In addition, is he allowed to coach his keeper during half time?

USSF answer (February 11, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game no coach may be shown the red card. (But check the rules of the particular competition.) The answer to the remainder of your question depends on the rules of the competition in which the coach is active. In a nutshell, please check the rules of the competition.


APPLYING THE ADVANTAGE [LAW 5]
Your question:
I would like some guidance on interpreting the concept of the “materialization” of an advantage in the Advice to Referees. It is clear in a case, for example, where a player is fouled but continues to advance, or a teammate takes immediate control of the ball and continues an attack.

In one of my games I had a situation where a player made a high, arcing pass from about forty yards out to a teammate at the top of the arc of the penalty area, marked by two opponents, in a counterattack situation and was tackled (with foul) a small fraction of a second later. In this case, if I choose to apply the advantage clause, should I consider the advantage to have materialized a) because of the fact that the pass was made (I judged that the foul did not affect the quality of the pass) whether or not the teammate receives it b) if the pass landed in a place where the teammate had a chance to settle it, or c) if the teammate actually managed to settle the ball?

The players in question are about 18 year old competitive-level players. A professional player would have had a good chance to get a shot off in this situation, but with these players, although definitely possible, I wouldn’t say it was likely. Do I consider ability level?

USSF answer (February 9, 2004):
The referee should consider the skill levels of players in any decisions made during a game, no matter what the level.

In applying advantage, it is important to remember that the advantage is not a “right” and that the referee may have reasons for not giving the advantage even if the fouled team does or could retain control of the ball. For example, violent fouls may demand a stoppage of play where the offense is clearly severe and the advantage is only questionable. It is also important to remember that the referee may invoke the advantage for a foul which includes misconduct (unless it is violent, see the previous sentence), but the referee can come back to punish the misconduct at the next stoppage of play.

In the case you put forward, the simple fact that the player passing the ball was able to get off the pass is immaterial if, based on the specific positions and skill levels of the players, there was a real question in your mind that the fouled team would in fact not recapture control of the ball. The advantage, in the opinion of the referee, must either exist in fact or be considered highly likely. It does not, however, have to be absolute. In the case of a pass down field, the referee can decide in his mind to apply advantage because the conditions are present for the team to keep or quickly regain control of the ball. If, after 2-3 seconds, it does not, then the referee can signal a stoppage of play for the original foul. If more than this amount of time passes and the team does not keep or regain control, both the advantage and the foul have passed. Don’t forget to deal with any misconduct at the proper time.


PLAYING DANGEROUSLY [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
The other day in a HS match, a player was sitting on a ball and was trying to play it. An opponent did not hesitate and tried hard to gain possession of the ball. Not surprisingly she missed and the girl on the ground was kicked hard. She got up angry and started to charge the opponent. My partner blew his whistle and did a good job of separating the players. His call was ‘dangerous play’ and the opponent was awarded an indirect free kick. The opposing coach and the sidelines objected strenuously, but things calmed down after the ruling was explained. My question: right call, considering that the opponent did not hold back? Should the call have have gone the other way and been kicking on the part of the responding player? Thank you for your input.

USSF answer (February 9, 2004):
It would seem nearly impossible to sit “on” the ball and still attempt to play it. Two possibilities come to mind: (1) If you mean that the player was on the ground near the ball and trying to play it from that position, then the answer is clear: The player who kicked her deliberately must be sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card. (2) If you mean that the player was lying on top of the ball and attempting to get up to play it, the answer is the same.

A player who has fallen is allowed to play the ball while on the ground. If a player on the ground cannot play the ball and makes no effort to get out of the way or to play the ball and then get out of the way, then the referee must decide that this player has played dangerously, stop play, and award an indirect free kick to the opposing team.

There can be no decision for “playing dangerously” if contact is made; at the moment of contact the act becomes a direct free kick foul. The call for a simple foul must be either kicking or striking (whichever is appropriate), but if the player who fouled used excessive force, then the referee has no choice but to send off the player.


WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A SENT-OFF PLAYER? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Law 12 states “A player who has been sent off must leave the vicinity of the field of play and the technical area.” We had a situation where 2 players were sent off for violent conduct and the referee told the players to “go to the parking lot.” This was an Open Rec league (players over 18 and above) Sanctioned game. The manager of the team insists that it means the immediate area of the field and technical area..ie the stands. The referee involved wants them out of sight. How do you and US Soccer define ‘vicinity’ Thank you

USSF answer (February 9, 2004):
Law 12 tells us: “A player who has been sent off must leave the vicinity of the field of play and the technical area.” That means that the player must remain out of sight and sound of the field, i. e., they may not stand or sit in the spectator area, including the seats in a stadium. That applies to the players in a league such as you describe.

However, in many circumstances, particularly involving youth players, it may not be possible to apply this requirement strictly. The primary objective of the requirement is to ensure that a player who has been sent off will no longer in any way interfere with, participate in, or otherwise be involved in subsequent play. The failure of a player who has been sent off to meet this objective cannot result in any further disciplinary action against the player by the referee but all details of any incident must be included in the game report. If this is not practical because of the age or condition of the player, the team authorities are responsible for the behavior of the player or substitute.


COMMUNICATE!!! [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In a HS game on Thursday (I know, HS) a striker was pulled down by the opposing team’s GK. There was no attempt to play the ball the striker was just wrestled to the ground. The ball actually went into the goal. I thought “a goal and a red card for the GK”. Wrong the center ref pulled the ball out of the back of the net and placed it on the penalty spot. I thought that seems a little odd. The assistant ref on the opposite side of the field started yelling at the center but the center ref refused to acknowledge him. The penalty kick was taken and missed. No card was given and the game continued. Could this have been the correct call?

USSF answer (February 9, 2004):
As you acknowledge, we cannot presume to answer questions based on high school rules. If this question were based on the Laws of the Game, the answer would be that the referee committed several grievous errors.

Because the ball entered the goal, the goalkeeper could not be sent off for denying a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity — but the referee should have allowed the goal. Also, as you describe the situation, the ‘keeper should have been sent off and shown the red card for serious foul play or violent conduct, depending on the exact circumstances of the “wrestling.”

It was wrong to deny the attacker’s team the goal; the referee should have invoked the advantage.

In addition, the referee should have at least communicated with the assistant referee.


RUNNING THE BALL TO THE GOAL LINE; OFFSIDE [LAW 6; LAW 11]
Your question:
1. What does AR do when there is a goal scored from over 20 yards out and the ball clearly hit the back of the net, does AR still need to run all the way from the 20 some yards’ second-to-the-last-defender position to the end line then run back? Or the AR can just run a little toward the goal then run back toward the centerline?

2. A high kick toward the goal with both sides jumping to head the ball, the goalie jumped up and slap the ball away, then one attacking player tap a bouncing ball toward the goal. At this point, two attacking players were still left there, within 2 yards of the goal, they did not move but the ball was moving toward them, the last defender tried to clear the ball but the ball touched off her leg and went in as an own goal. The 11.5 stated “mere presence anywhere on the field should not be considered distraction to the opponents”, however the last defender in my example clearly “affected” by the two offside opponents that were right in front of her. There was no time for the defender to realize the offside otherwise she can simply let the goalie to take care of the ball.

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
1. While the assistant referee should always run every ball to the goal line, if it is clear that the ball has hit the back (and not the outside) of the net, then the AR may discontinue the run, communicate (check visually) with the referee, and then run toward the halfway line.

2. It is not clear that the two attackers actually affected the play of the defenders. The defender was supposed to play the ball out of danger, not watch the opposing attackers. Goal.


FAIR CHARGE ON THE GOALKEEPER [LAW 12]
Your question:
If the goalie is looking up, jumping in the air for the ball, is it within the rules of the game for an opponent to run into the goalie in order to block her?

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
If the goalkeeper, standing in her penalty area, does not have possession of the ball, an opponent may charge her fairly in an attempt to gain control. However, if the goalkeeper is in the air and going for the ball, there is no way to charge her fairly, so the referee would call a foul.


LONG PANTS; COACH’S OBJECTIONS; FLIP THROW-IN [LAW 4; LAW 5; LAW 15]
Your question:
In [a recent game], the referee stopped the game to have a player remove his leggings, the same color as the uniform, on the basis they were not permitted, but could be permitted if all team members were wearing same item. Also asked all players to remove headbands and gloves. A Rule of those State Cup rules seems to allow under-clothing such as that. Is the issue one of safety, in the ref’s discretion? The Rules say they shall control, and it appears as if leggings, at least, are permitted (with no requirement of the entire team wearing them). Are there any violations here of applicable rules? What might a coach do during the match if/when such a referee’s decision has been made?

Next question: Are the somersault-flip throw-ins definitely permitted?

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
The rules of the competition rule and, if the referee accepts the assignment, he or she must abide by those rules. Leggings? Has anyone but cowboys or loggers worn leggings (chaps) since the 19th Century?

A coach may do nothing during the match about any decision of the referee. If it seems necessary, the coach may submit a report to the appropriate authorities after the match. To do anything else during the match would likely be considered irresponsible behavior, for which offense the coach would be dismissed by the referee.

Yes, the flip throw-in is definitely permitted, as long as the requirements of Law 15 are followed.


CORRECT PLACE FOR THROW-IN; NO ADVANTAGE ON THROW-IN [LAW 15]
Your question:
During a U-17 boys premiere game, I was the AR on the coaches side of the field. The ball was kick out in the defensive side of the field by the attacking team at about half way between the the half and the top of the 18 and at such an angle after it went out, it rolled along the touch line and well behind the defenders goal line before being retrieved. I looked over my right shoulder observing the defender chasing down the ball and once he grabbed the ball, I looked back at the field anticipating the defender coming around to my left side where the ball went out and where the players were congregating for the throw-in. Instead the defender quickly throws the ball in at an area about 6 yards back from the top of the 18 to his goal keeper who punts the ball 3 quarters of the way down the field. I look at the center ref who is a State Referee and wait for an indication that the throw-in was incorrect (much more than 1 yard from the exit point). There was no response from the center, so I didn’t raise my flag. In addition, the coach for the defender was very experienced (English) and I’m certain that he has coached his players to make that kind of play in that particular instance. I asked the center at half time and he said that there was no advantage to him throwing in to his keeper, so he let them play on. I begged to differ (I thought to myself), the keeper had a tremendous kick and had already demonstrated his ability several times in the first half. Plus, the attacking team was also anticipating that the ball was going to be thrown in approximately where it went out, thus losing advantage to play the ball by being so far from the surprise throw-in.  I have asked several referees about this situation and have received several different answers. Please guide me to the correct procedure should this happen again!

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
Heaven spare us from referees who think “it doesn’t matter” if a player does not make an honest effort to put the ball into play from the right place. The referee should have stopped play and had the throw-in taken from the correct spot — within 1 yard/meter from the place where it left the field, in accordance with the requirements of Law 15.

With regard to concepts, please erase the use of “advantage” from situations like this, where it certainly does not apply.


GRABBING THE GOAL POST [LAW 14; LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
A question has been raised about the legality of the following common coaching practice and tactic employed by players: On corner kicks, prior to the kick, defenders on the near and far goal posts are grabbing the goal posts. I believe this tactic is intended to orient the defenders to the goal as well as prevent attackers from slipping in behind the defenders. There is nothing in the rules which addresses this practice. I believe that it is illegal for a kicker to grab or move the corner flag while taking a corner kick. I also believe its unsportsmanlike conduct both for the GK to grab the crossbar to gain leverage to kip up to block a high shot on goal or a crossing pass and for a player to grab the crossbar and swing on it in general or while celebrating a goal specifically. Using this reasoning that a player may not grab or hang onto any piece of field equipment, I believe that a player may not grab the goal post during play as described.

Please advise me as to the USSF position on this tactic.

P. S. I failed to mention an additional reason for defenders holding onto goal posts: preventing attackers from taking up a strategic position next to the goal post and, if the defender is already positioned there, preventing attackers from moving in between the defender and the goal post.

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
Most defenders grab the goal post simply to maintain a feel for where it is as they move. As long as the defender does not use the post to support himself or keep his arm on it to bar an opponent from getting through, there is no offense.


ASSIGNING PROCEDURES AND FILLING IN THE BLANKS [ADMIN]
Your question:
Based on some issues that have come up in recent tournaments, I have a question regarding the policy on page 35 of the Referee Administrative Handbook. This policy looks at how the referee team is to be staffed. It considers three kinds of officials who might work a match. They are: (FR) a Federation Referee, (NL) a neutral club linesman who is not registered, and (AL) a club linesman who is affiliated with one of the teams and not registered.

The prioritized list for staffing officials is:
Priority Center AR1 AR2
1 FR FR FR
2 FR FR NL
3 FR NL NL
4 FR AL AL

This policy statement raises a few questions in my mind.

We all know that the set of officials assigned to a match may turn out to be different from the set of officials that actually works the match. So my first question is simple: is this policy directed exclusively toward Assignors, or is it also intended to be also used at the field when one of the assigned officials is not present/able to work the game?

If the policy is to be used when trying to reassemble a full crew at the field, then there are more questions.

Second question. I am a registered Referee. If I take my child to play a match and one of the ARs does not show up, I am often asked to assist. For purposes of that match, what am I? There is no category for a Federation Referee who is affiliated with one of the teams. (I always carry my referee bag along because I typically officiate a match later the same day, so the availability of a uniform should effect the answer here.)

Third question. This list does not allow me to use both a Federation Referee (FR) and an Affiliated Linesman (AL) on the side lines. If I am the Center referee and one of my ARs does not show up, it is rare to find someone in attendance who could be considered an Neutral Linesman (NL). I typically recruit and briefly train a parent or sibling to serve as a club linesman. Another common response at the field is to run with one AR and modify the coverage pattern used by the Center. (Duals are forbidden here.) Is either of these common practices acceptable under the USSF policy? If I were to follow this list religiously, I would have to dismiss my trained partner and use two ALs. Common Sense says to ignore the list and use the skills of the officials at hand; but I have read of matches being protested because the referee team didn’t follow this policy in the Referee Administrative Handbook.

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
Your descriptors for the club linesmen are not quite as we would view them. For the sake of clarity, we will refer in this answer to referees, assistant referees, affiliated officials (who can be either referees or assistant referees), and club linesmen. In addition, page 35 in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) is based on the way games are assigned and not necessarily on the way they are actually worked by crews of officials, whether affiliated with the Federation or not. Use of the dual system of control is not permitted in games played under the aegis of U. S. Soccer.

If three affiliated officials are assigned to the game, but one does not turn up, the referee may fill in with either another affiliated official who happens to be present or with a club linesman from one of the teams. If the affiliated official who happens to be present is tied to one of the teams through friendship or blood, that official must work as a club linesman, rather than as a neutral official.

If there are two affiliated officials present and no one can be found to fill the third position, then the referee will run on one side of the field — inside the field, of course — and the other will function as an AR on the other side of the field — outside the field and with no whistle, only a flag.

Let it be clear that someone affiliated with the team in any way can serve only as a club linesman, no matter how otherwise qualified he or she may be, and may therefore only perform the single function given to the club linesman.


POWERS OF THE REFEREE [LAW 5]
Your question:
I have a quick question regarding the powers of the referee.

SCENARIO: Player is struck in the head and falls to the ground injured. The player has, in my opinion sustained an injury severe enough to incapacitate him (I am also a qualified boxing/kickboxing official, and as such am duly trained in recognition of acute impairment due to head blows). The player leaves the game as the laws require. The player subsequently wants to return to the game (this is a youth match with unlimited substitution allowed)

APPLICABLE LAW: The laws state that a player must receive permission to re-enter the field of play after going off for treatment of an injury.

QUESTION: Would I be within my rights to deny permission to re-enter the match, based on the fact that I deem the player to be incapacitated, and am duly trained to recognize such incapacity?

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
Law 5 gives the referee the sole authority to decide what is or is not a serious injury, but only for the purpose of stopping play. While that judgment may be more or less informed by whatever training the referee may have outside of soccer, this does not change the essential nature of the referee’s responsibility or authority here. The referee has no authority to deny entry back to the field for any reason which is not specifically delineated in the Law (e. g., correction of illegal equipment, cleaning up of blood, etc.) if the proposed re-entry is in all other respects legal.

As stated above, the referee in the circumstances described cannot refuse entry of the player back onto the field. However, once play resumes (if it was stopped) or once the player actually enters the field (if permission was given to return while play was continuing, if no substitution occurred originally), the referee’s decision needs to be based on the player’s subsequent performance, not on a preconceived notion that the injury “probably” continued. If the referee believes that the player continues to be “seriously injured,” the referee may act on this, even if the player disagrees. For example, the referee would be justified in stopping play if a player had gotten a knock on the head and, in his befuddlement, wasn’t able to recognize his impairment, or if a player was in the obvious first stages of heat stroke.

In all events, the judgment depends on the age/experience of the player. The referee should be more prepared to take such action with younger players than with senior amateurs.

And if the referee must continue to stop play because the player keeps insisting that he is okay and keeps asking to return to the field every time he is ordered off, so be it. In the end, one of the two will have to reassess his position — and guess who that will be.


OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY? [LAW 12]
Your question:
Blue team starts a quick counter-attack. So quick that the only defender back is the goalkeeper. The goalie, seeing this picks up a 12 inch tree branch (goalkeeper is in the penalty area). As blue shoots the ball the keeper reaches over his head with the branch extended and knocks the ball down. What’s the decision??

My thought is this… Since the GK is in his own penalty area the use of the tree branch is an extension of his hand. Therefore, I would blow the whistle, caution the GK for USB and restart with an indirect free kick at the spot of the infraction. There is no penalty kick nor should the GK be sent of for DOGSO. Reason being that the GK is allowed to use their hands in the penalty area so how could there be a PK?? There is no penal foul nor is there DOGSO.

Situation changes slightly should the GK throw the branch at the ball. In this case the keeper is sent off for DOGSO because the branch has now left his hand and is no longer an extension of the hand. Restart is still an IFK at the point of the foul. The same scenario would apply if a different player other than the GK threw an outside agent to prevent the ball from entering the goal.

I can’t see how a PK could be given in any of these circumstances. Thoughts??

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
The goalkeeper is indeed guilty of unsporting behavior, for which he should be cautioned and shown the yellow card. If the referee believes that the unsporting behavior — which is punishable by an indirect free kick — denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick, then the goalkeeper must also be sent off and shown the red card for the offense. No penalty kick could be awarded to the offended team.


GAME LEVELS AND UPGRADE REQUIREMENTS FOR GRADE 9 REFEREES [ADMIN]
Your question:
Our SRA has promulgated a policy that grade 9s have to have a minimum of 25 centers of recreational games to be eligible for the bridge class to grade 8. This seems impractical for those clubs who do not have a house/recreational program and exclusively use their grade 9s as A/Rs for competitive travel games. For example, a younger referee whom I know has about 50 ARs of competitive games including the state tournament, but is technically ineligible for the bridge class because our club does not have a recreational program.

It seems to me that if a grade 9 does some minimum number of A/Rs of competitive travel games, that they too should be eligible for the bridge course.

USSF answer (January 30, 2004):
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.

U. S. Soccer has no restrictions on how long a person must be a grade 9 before taking the bridge course — neither in time in grade nor in game count.


OFFSIDE 1 [LAW 11]
Your question:
I have encountered or seen the following situation several times: An attacker A1 passes the ball towards, but not directly to, his teammate A2 who is in an offside position but also in a position to score or continue the attack with his teammates. From the ref’s viewpoint it is most likely but not certain that the ball can be retrieved by the goalie before A2 can play the ball. Should the ref : (1) call offside immediately and not risk a possible score or continued advantageous play by the offense, or (2) wait to see how the play develops. Should the ref base his decision on which event would likely be more advantageous to the defense – an IFK for offside or allowing the play to continue thereby giving the goalie his options for a counterattack? Also if the ref decides to delay his decision and A2 scores or sets his team up for a score, how much time does he have to then call offside? In this case the AR may or may not have signalled for offside.

USSF answer (January 30, 2004):
We cannot make this decision for the referee, who must balance everything so far observed in the game to reach the correct decision.

First things first: The job of the referee on offside is NOT to make judgments about “what is more advantageous” to a team. Advantage is applied to infringements of Law 12, not Law 11. Infringements of Law 11 either occur or they do not. An infringement of Law 11 MAY be considered trifling and not called for this reason if the ball leaves the field and the restart is the functional equivalent to an indirect free kick (e. g., a goal kick for the defenders).

Assistant referees are taught not to flag for offside position, but to wait until it is clear that there is an offside offense. In other words, as a pure issue of joint decision making by referees and ARs, the referee should take an AR’s signal for offside as a clear indication of offside position and a probable indication of an offside violation (i.e., involvement in active play). It remains the job of the referee to confirm the latter based on his sometimes better view. (This should be reinforced in the pregame discussion among the officials. If the referee does not bring it up, then the AR should ask.) If the AR has flagged for the offense, the referee could wait and see what happens, but this might lead to problems later. If the player who was in the offside position at the moment his teammate played the ball gets to the ball first, the referee will blow the whistle immediately.

Normally, the best option for the referee is to allow the players to play as much as possible without interference, but to “interfere” when there may be a problem brewing. Allowing a goal to be scored by an offside player is certainly asking for trouble from both teams, even if it is immediately corrected.


OFFSIDE 2 [LAW 11]
Your question:
I have a friend who is an excellent coach and also a skilled player. I cannot get him to believe me as to the following question concerning offside. I would appreciate a response from you that I can print out and show him. He is of the belief that if every opponent except the keeper crosses the halfway line his players are now free to cross into the attacking half and there can be no offside because the opponents have given up their right to have his players put into a position of gaining an advantage and they are not in offside position even though,as I explained to him,they are nearer to the opponents goal then both the ball and the next to last defender. Here’s the question.

The defending opponents are playing an offside trap. All 10 of the outfield players cross the halfway line (i.e. into their opponent’s half of the field). A coach claims that once all the outfield opponents cross the halfway line, his players cannot be sanctioned for offside and are now free to cross into the opponent’s half of the field and not be in offside position even though they are still nearer the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent,which is, by definition, offside position. I have said that if they are in that position,and become actively involved in play, they should be sanctioned for offside. He claims that his players cannot gain an advantage once all the outfield players cross the halfway line. I have also said that gaining an advantage has nothing to do with this scenario as it only pertains to balls being deflected from the crossbar,goalposts,or keepers and if one of his players plays the ball to one of these players in the attacking half of the field,they would be interfering with play, and sanctioned for offside. Would greatly appreciate an official response as I don’t want him to be teaching his players wrongly.

USSF answer (January 25, 2004):
Law 11 – Offside – specifically states: “A player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent.” The Law excuses any and all members of the defending team — including the last and second-last players — from being in their own half of the field of play. They may cross into the opposing team’s half without changing or violating any of the requirements of Law 11. The Law also allows any member of the opposing team to position himself anywhere on the field of play — at the risk of being in an offside position if he is in the defending team’s half and nearer to the defending team’s goal line than both the ball and the last two players of the defending team, no matter where they may be on the field of play.

A player of the attacking team who is in the opposing team’s half of the field of play and both ahead of the ball and nearer to the opposing team’s goal line than the second-last opposing player is in an offside position — no matter where on the field the second-last player may be. The player in the offside position is penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by interfering with play or interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage by being in that position. In the situation your friend puts forth, the player in the offside position would be considered to have gained an advantage from his offside position and would be penalized for offside.

NOTA BENE: If this player was not found to be offside at the moment of the pass, he could be determined to be so later, if he remains in an offside position and becomes involved in play later.


SHOULD AR COVER GOALKEEPER DISTRIBUTION OR OFFSIDE? [MECHANICS]
Your question:
[NOTE: This question has been greatly abridged.] I need some help on this Q & A from the “When the Assistant Referee is Vulnerable” training module. On reviewing this for the umpteenth time I see this in a number of ways.

SITUATION #3
Offside Responsibility vs. GK distribution
(GK holding ball while crossing 18 yd Line)
Preventive technique:
When AR covers goalkeeper distribution, referee should assume offside responsibility until AR moves to position with 2nd last defender

[We see the following areas as worthy of consideration:]

First, how good are the field lines? Are they so bad that the AR has to be virtually in line with the 18 to be able to judge or can he see well enough from a distance to be able to judge? [snipped]

Second, what level of competition is the match? At higher levels, the players will retreat farther to await the gk’s punt/throw. The farther they retreat, the farther out of position the AR will possibly be to judge offside. Also, with respect to the level of competition, how important is it to “catch” the gk coming out of the area? [snipped] The question of the referee’s fitness, in this case, may come into play. Can he get there in time on a quick counter? If not, the AR will have to be able to get there to judge.

Finally, the AR’s most important responsibility remains the offside/no offside decision. I think the crew that emphasizes the importance of the gk in/out of the area during his distribution over the AR¹s primary responsibility of offsides is taking a risk. If the gk DOES leave his area and the players, fans, etc. see it, it will not cause as much turmoil nor possible game control problems as a missed or incorrect offside decision. Yes

Obviously, both plays have to be seen and that needs to be stressed; however, if one must be overlooked more than the other, gk in/out is the less serious of the two possible incidents.

Are we thinking too much about this?

USSF answer (January 19, 2004):
The USSF “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials” tells us essentially the same thing as the “When the AR is Vulnerable” training module:
QUOTE
B. GOALKEEPER POSSESSION / PUNT
Referee
· At the position to observe where the ball is anticipated to drop.
Assistant Referee
· Verifies the goalkeeper does not handle the ball outside of the penalty area.
· Follows the ball up field to cover offside (may begin moving earlier if obvious that the goalkeeper is not in a position to handle the ball outside the penalty area).
END OF QUOTE

There is no single optimal answer to all the variations possible in this situation. The referee and assistant referee must learn to adjust to varying circumstances, no matter what the level of play or the skill of the players.

Yes, you are thinking too much about the problem, rather than simply getting down to the business of managing play.


THE GOAL AREA [LAW 1, LAW 8, LAW 13, LAW 16]
Your question:
Where does it state in the Laws of the Game or any other official materials what the purpose of the goal area is (other than the place from which goal kicks are taken)? Also, is there any reference to special protection for goal keepers in the goal area?

USSF answer (January 19, 2004):
The goal area has changed shape, size, and role several times during its history. Nowadays its primary roles are to provide a place for the goal kick to be taken and to act as a buffer zone for dropped balls and for opposing indirect free kicks within six yards of the goal. See Law 8 (Special Circumstances) and Law 13 (Free Kick Inside the Penalty Area). That is, of course, in addition, to the information in Law 1 (The Field of Play) and Law 16 (The Goal Kick).

No, there has been no specific “special protection” for the goalkeeper within the goal area since the laws were rewritten in 1997. Now the goalkeeper has no greater protection than any other player within the goal area. (See Law 12.)


PENALTY KICK [LAW 14]
Your question:
Situation: PK. Normal mechanics. Nothing unusual until someone other than the identified kicker takes the kick. Ball is saved by the goalie. At a local clinic, answers from the participants ran the gamut. Caution the kicker, caution the kicker and the identified kicker. One said blow the whistle to issue the caution(s) when the goalkeeper held the ball. Ay yi yi!!!, we had it all! I finally got them roped in a bit, but the room ended up being split between 1) caution and retake the kick, and 2) allow advantage and keep play going (possibly cautioning erroneous kicker later)

Do you give the other team another bite at the apple?

USSF answer (January 18, 2004):
The answer to your question will be found in the IFAB/FIFA Q&A, under Law 14, Q&A 12:
QUOTE
12. When a penalty kick is being taken and after the referee has given the necessary signal, a team mate of the player identified to take the kick suddenly rushes forward and takes it instead. What action does the referee take?
a. If the ball leaves the field of play?
b. If the ball is pushed out by the goalkeeper?
c. If the ball is deflected by the goalkeeper, rebounds into play and the player who took the kick scores a goal?

In all three cases the referee orders the penalty kick to be retaken, since the correct procedures for taking a penalty kick have not been followed. The referee may caution the team mate of the identified kicker for unsporting behavior.
END OF QUOTE


SIGNALLING “READINESS TO START” [MECHANICS]
Your question:
I received an assessment as an AR as part of a Maintenance assessment for another referee. Just to make sure I did well, I reviewed the AR instructions in the guide to procedures (GTP). On the 5th page, paragraph 1f, one minutes prior to start of play, I am instructed to unfurl my flag, hold it straight down in view of the referee to signal readiness to start. In the next paragraph 1g, the GTP identifies the referee’s responsibility to clear the field. The assessor comments said that I was incorrect to unfurl my flag while the coach for one of the teams was still on the field. As I review the GTP, I did not see any requirement for me to verify that my end of the field was clear of non-players prior to unfurling my flag. Who was right, me or the assessor? If the assessor is right, then the GTP is misleading in that nowhere in the GTP am I given the requirement to verify that my end is ready to start prior to unfurling the flag. The GTP could say, “Assistant referees unfurl flags after verifying that their end of the field is ready for play. Flags are held straight down in view of the referee to signal readiness to start.”

I just completed my requirements to upgrade to 7 and will start upgrading to 6. It is clear to me that if I want to pass the assessments necessary to go from 7 to 6, I need to get this kind of signaling correct.

Finally, I really appreciate the assessor’s other comments and have incorporated them into my performance of AR duties. Please do not take this as criticism of his time, efforts or comments. As of today, I am implementing all his recommendations. My only concern would be to get an assessor who has a different intrepretation of 1f, and would not approve my upgrade to 6 based on a “retention in grade” AR assessment because of this.

USSF answer (January 18, 2004):
“Readiness to start” includes ensuring that the proper number of players is on the field, that there is a properly identified goalkeeper, that the goal and goal net (if there is a net) are properly anchored, and that there are no extraneous persons (or other “outside agents”) on the assistant referee’s end of the field.

While we can understand the possible confusion between 1.f and 1.g, 1.f is clearly the more specific duty and is consistent with USSF’s intention that the referee need only make eye contact with each AR to receive assurance that each end of the field is ready in accordance with the Law. The possible confusion will be taken into account as we move to the next revision of the Guide to Procedures.


“TOUCHY-FEELY” CONTACT [LAW 12]
Your question:
Last year, we went to an out-of-state tournament and I noticed something that I had never seen before. Players for the opposing team were constantly “tapping” the backs of some of our players. I am sure it was simply a tactic to distract our players.
1. Is this a legal tactic?
2. What can a player do in response to this type of behavior/action or must they simply endure this constant distraction?

USSF answer (January 16, 2004):
While no one has ever said that soccer is a non-contact sport, there are limits to what is and should be allowed.

No, a player may not use his hand or forearm to charge an opponent — or even as a brace. These acts would be considered either pushing or holding and should be punished accordingly. They are the same as the ever-popular hand check, which is also illegal. The “tapping” you describe is a coached action, used because referees have shown they do not have the courage to call foul play. It is just one of many acts that are not properly punished.

The referee should stop play for pushing (or, depending on the circumstances, possibly holding) and restart with a direct free kick for the opponents from the place where the infringement occurred.


FLAGGING FOR OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
I am a referee and a coach. Last spring I was an AR in a boy’s U-17 premier division game at a tournament. A player was just hanging out in an offsides position by about 10 yards on the very far side line. The ball and all the other players of both teams were at half field or beyond,attacking the other goal. The defending team won the ball and made a long clearance down the near side line (where I was). One of their forwards ran onto the ball from his own half and took the ball quickly down the sideline. He himself managed to get in deep behind the other teams defense, take the ball to the corner and get off a good cross. Mean while the player on his team, who had been hanging out on the far side in an offsides position, took off angling his run from his sideline towards the center of the goal area. The player with the ball made his cross to this player in the center of the goal area. At the moment this cross was made I raised my flag to signal offsides and indicated towards the player in the center. I was absolutely positive that this player had gained an advantage from being in an offsides position and would not have arrived to receive that cross unless he had that head start. The only defender near the play was trying to catch the fellow in the corner.

A month later at a coaching diploma course a group of very experienced college coaches and most of them instructors and my self got in a very heated discussion about this exact type of situation. They contend that the offsides player was brought back on sides by the play. I contend that he and his team gained and unfair advantage from his offsides position. I was confident of my decision at the time but they were so darn sure I was wrong that I am asking you?

USSF answer (January 16, 2004):
It makes absolutely no difference where the player was when his team gained control of the ball. He could have been chatting with the opposing goalkeeper in the goal and it would make no difference. There is insufficient information in your description to determine whether your flagging for offside was correct or not.

The crucial information lacking in your question is where the player was — in relation to the ball and opposing players — at the moment his teammate played the ball. If a player is no nearer the opponents’ goal than at least two opposing players or the ball when his teammate releases the ball, he cannot be in an offside position and thus cannot be offside. So, no matter where the player in question was prior to the moment of release, if he was behind the ball when it was played to him by his teammate, then he should not have been called offside.

Note: “Gaining an advantage” is relevant only if the determination had already been made as to offside position. Further, historically this phrase is used ONLY in connection with balls being deflected from goal posts, crossbars, goalkeepers, etc. In other respects, what the referee and assistant referee have to look for is interfering with play or with an opponent.

We might add that there is no such term in soccer as “offsides.” The correct term is “offside.”


GOALKEEPER DRIBBLES BALL INTO OWN PENALTY AREA [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Can a keeper who collects the ball outside the penalty area, dribble the ball into the PA and then pick it up?

USSF answer (January 14, 2004):
[This is a repeat of an answer of March 20, 2003]
You appear to have been confused by the references in Law 12 to the goalkeeper touching with his hands a ball passed to him by his teammates. Under the terms of Law 12, the goalkeeper may dribble the ball back into his own penalty area and pick it up only if it was not last deliberately kicked by a teammate or received directly from a throw-in by a teammate. The goalkeeper may handle (touch with the hands) only those balls that have been played to him legally. That means that if a teammate last played the ball, it must not have been thrown in nor kicked deliberately, but either misplayed in an attempt to clear it away or in some legal manner without resorting to trickery to get around the conditions of Law 12.

If an opponent last played the ball or it was played legally by a teammate (outside the goalkeeper’s penalty area), the goalkeeper may dribble the ball into his own penalty area and then pick it up to put it back into play.

The ‘keeper may not handle the ball, release it, and then kick the ball to himself. That is called a “second touch” or “double touch,” meaning that no other player has played the ball between the moment the goalkeeper released it from his hands and then touched it again.

The goalkeeper may play with his feet any ball passed to him in any manner — unless the referee believes some trickery was involved. In such cases, the other player, not the goalkeeper, would be punished.


FITNESS TESTING FOR UPGRADE [ADMIN]
Your question:
I’ve heard there’s a new fitness test for upgrades. If so, what is the new test or when will the details be released?

USSF answer (January 14, 2004):
There is no new fitness test for upgrading within the USSF. See the Referee Administrative Handbook for details on existing requirements.


RESTART AFTER STOPPAGE FOR ANY OTHER REASON [LAW 8]
Your question:
I have a restart question. Here is the situation……The ball is in play with no clear possesion by either team. Two player from opposing teams get into an argument and play is stopped by the referee. Both players are called aside, “chewed out” and Cautioned for Desent. Is the ball restarted with a drop ball where the ball was when play was stopped or is it restarted with an indirect kick? If an indirect kick, where from and which team gets the kick, as a player from both teams was booked without knowledge of which player started the disagreement first?

USSF answer (January 14, 2004):
The referee must first decide if there has been a foul or misconduct in such cases. We can see no reason for cautioning either player for dissent in this case. Unless there is information you have not supplied, there would be no reason to caution and show the yellow card to any player.

If there has been neither a foul nor misconduct, then the only possible restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped by the referee (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).


CAPTAIN’S RIGHTS? [LAW 18]
Your question:
What are the captains rights? If any…

USSF answer (January 14, 2004):
The captain has no rights, only duties. Here is an excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
19.4 THE ROLE OF THE TEAM CAPTAIN
The role of the team captain is not defined in the Laws of the Game. He usually wears an armband. The captain is responsible to the referee for his team, but has no special rights or privileges. By practice and tradition, certain duties fall upon the team captain:
-to see that the referee’s decisions are respected by the captain’s teammates and by team officials;
-to counsel a teammate who may be reluctant to leave the field at a substitution ‹ but neither the captain nor the referee may insist that the player leave;
-to represent his or her team at the coin toss to determine which direction the team will attack to begin the game (and subsequent overtime periods) or which team will take first kick in kicks from the penalty mark;
-to be the team representative to whom the referee must go to obtain the name or names of members of that team who must be withdrawn from participating in kicks from the penalty mark in order to match the size of the opposing team (which has fewer players on the field before or during the kicks from the penalty mark procedure as a result of injury or misconduct).


GOALKEEPER ACCIDENTALLY DROPS BALL [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In a High school varsity game a shot was place on goal. After the goalie game contral of the ball then decide to roll it out to a team mate. When he went back with the ball it slip and went backwards towards his on goal. A striker than ran to pressure the goalie, which then panic and picked the ball up. Is the an infraction are not? Being that it was unitionaling release of the ball back into play.

USSF answer (January 11, 2004):
Although there is no difference in this case, we do not answer questions based on high school rules. This answer is based on the Laws of the Game.

After the goalkeeper deliberately drops the ball, he or she may not pick it up again. The ‘keeper may not handle the ball, release it, and then kick the ball to himself. That is called a “second touch” or “double touch,” meaning that no other player has played the ball between the moment the goalkeeper released it from his hands and then touched it again. However, if the referee believes that the release of the ball was entirely accidental and that, in picking the ball up again, the goalkeeper did not gain an unfair advantage, the referee could decide that the violation was trifling and therefore could be ignored (with perhaps only a brief warning to the goalkeeper about the requirements of the Law).


NO REVERSAL OF SEND-OFF (OR CAUTION) AFTER GAME HAS RESTARTED [LAW 12]
Your question:
A referee issues a red card to a player for a second bookable offense and play then continues. At half time the referee has a chance to review a video recording of the player’s supposed offense and decides that he, the referee, was wrong. May the ejected player return to the game?

USSF answer (January 10, 2004):
If the referee has sent off a player and then restarted the game, the matter is closed for that game. If the referee should happen to look at a video replay of the incident and thus determine that the player should not have been sent off, the player may not return to the game. The referee simply notes the information in his match report — and pays attention to business from now on.


UNSAFE BALL [LAW 2]
Your question:
I wish to address an issue in regard to [a brand of] soccer balls. The [brand name] game balls have a twist valve pump that airs up the ball without the need of a [separate] pump and needle. Although this may be convenient, it can be very dangerous to the players on the field. Soccer balls take more wear and tear than footballs or basketballs.

My concern is that the first two games I allowed one of these balls to be used the plastic pump slides out of the ball, it can gouge an eye or cut up a player’s face (valve is made of hard plastic). I now do not allow any [brand name] ball to be used in any of my games, even if they are new. One coach said I cannot prohibit them since that is the only kind of balls they have. I was under the impression that the referee can chose what the game will be played with. Can I continue to disallow these balls from being used?

Is there some way USSF can notify [the manufacturer] of this problem?

USSF answer (January 2, 2004):
If a ball is not safe for play, it cannot be used. The decision lies with the referee, not with the coach or other team official.


A HISTORY LESSON ON THE DROPPED BALL [LAW 8; LAW 11]
Your question:
I guess I got myself confused, recently. Not in a game, but during a recert clinic. I now owe the instructor a dinner, but I want to make certain I understand the history of the rule change.

For many years, the offside infraction law (11) stated that a player in an offside position was not called for an infraction if they receive the ball direct from a: corner kick, goal kick, throw-in, or when dropped by the referee.

Then, prior to the major 1997 rewrite of the Laws, FIFA deleted the words : when dropped by the referee.

I must have not been paying attention. I assumed that when FIFA dropped those words, that they intended for a player to be Called for the offside infraction if they were in an offside position and received the ball direct from the drop.

Obviously, I have never called this in a game. Drop balls are rare (in my games) and the idea that the ball would go to someone (directly) who was in an offside position is even rarer….

However, why did FIFA have that wording to begin with, and why did they remove it? While it is a very rare occurrence, why not specifically state “no offside infraction when receiving the ball direct from a drop by the referee”?

FIFA eliminated 5 words, but it did cause me some confusion…..

Any historical (or hysterical) insight would be appreciated.

USSF answer (January 1, 2004):
Thank you for asking us to do a bit of historical research — no hysterics needed here.

From 1888 through 1904, the referee would “throw up” the ball to restart after temporary stoppages (the ball had to hit the ground before being played). In 1905 the dropped ball was introduced in place of the thrown-up ball. No player could be called offside directly from either a ball “thrown up” or dropped.

The provision excepting players from being called offside directly from the dropped ball was added to the offside Law in 1938, when the offside Law was changed from Law 6 to Law 11 in the IFAB’s reorganization (revision and renumbering) of the Laws of the Game. The exception was not mentioned in Law 6 prior to the reorganization.

It would seem to have been superfluous from the moment of its inclusion in the Law and to have been dropped by the IFAB for that reason in 1990 — though the removal of the dropped ball had been formally proposed as early as 1987. It is likely that the words were originally included in response to calls for clarification to remove any doubt.

2003 Part 4

WHERE TO TAKE THE THROW-IN [LAW 15]
Your question:
I am hoping that you can help me resolve a dispute I have had with a couple of referees in my local league over whether or not there is a limit as to how far back from the line a throw-in can be taken. The scenario is relatively simple in that the ball goes out of play, and in seeking the advantage of a quick restart the thrower throws the ball from potentially several yards back from the line and away from the field of play. Assuming no other rules of law 15 are broken (e.g. ball over head, entering field of play from within 1 yard of it going out) etc. then has the throwing player committed an offence simply because he or she took the throw further back than it is normally taken? I have reviewed a number of variants on the rules of the game and cannot find a direct or indirect reference to this.

I hope this is clear and look forward to some thoughts on this.

USSF answer (December 24, 2003):
Your guidance will be found in the IFAB/FIFA Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, under Law 15, Q&A 4: 4. Is there a maximum distance away from the touch line from which a throw-in may be taken? No. A throw-in should be taken from the place where the ball left the field of play. However, a throw-in from a distance of up to 1 m from the exact position is a generally accepted practice.


PLAYERS AND GLASSES [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I am a 16 year old female soccer player from [my state]. Due to an eye disease, I cannot wear contacts. I’ve tried to wear Rec Specs, but since they wrap-around, the light distortion severely throws off my depth-perception. For a year now I’ve been wearing PLASTIC frames with polycarbonate lens as well as a strap to keep them secure. Let me stress that the frames are not wire. I was told by a referee that next year all prescription eyewear would no longer be allowed. Is this true? If so, what can I do about it? There is no way for me to wear contacts. Thanks a lot for your time.

USSF answer (December 22, 2003):
One of the referee’s duties is to be certain that the equipment of all players is safe and will not endanger either the player nor any other players. If, in the opinion of the referee, the glasses are safe for the wearer and all other players, then the player may wear them. The referee has neither duty nor power to act as a fashion coordinator or an optician.

Referees should all be aware of USSF Memorandum 2001, which contains the following citation from FIFA Circular 750 and USSF advice to referees on the wearing of eyeglasses:

QUOTE
Players Wearing Spectacles

Sympathy was expressed for players, especially young players, who need to wear spectacles. It was accepted that new technology had made sports spectacles much safer, both for the player himself and for other players.

While the referee has the final decision on the safety of players’ equipment, the Board expects that they will take full account of modern technology and the improved safety features of spectacle design when making their decision.

USSF Advice to Referees: Referees must not interpret the above statement to mean either that “sports glasses” must automatically be considered safe or that glasses which are not manufactured to be worn during sports are automatically to be considered unsafe. The referee must make the final decision: the Board has simply recognized that new technology has made safer the wearing of glasses during play.
END OF QUOTE

This guidance from FIFA was updated in a circular this year, but there has been no change in either FIFA or USSF policy since the circular of 2001.


OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
U-12 Boys ³B² travel team match. Playing on field that has dual markings for Field Hockey and Soccer. Inspect the field during pre-game and find that the PA is marked by yellow lines, as are part of the touch lines. I conduct each team¹s check-in at their respective 18 yard lines to make them aware of markings and remind the Keepers in particular to be aware.

Just before end of 1st half, Attacker runs on to ball in open space just past midfield, in center of field. Feints around and beats the 2nd Last Defender, but this move slows him down enough to allow another defender to close in on Attacker. New Defender is matching Attacker stride for stride, but ¼ to ½ a step behind. I am trailing about 25 feet directly behind the two players, waiting for Defender to make a move for the ball, or Attacker to feint again.

Attacker¹s next touch pushes the ball about 10 feet ahead of himself. I suspect the close pressure from the defender caused him to put a little too much on his touch. Meanwhile, the keeper has timed things perfectly and slides to collect the ball cleanly with no contact. ŠŠ.Except, he ends up about 4 feet over the 18 yard line.

I blow the whistle and call hand ball. The keeper looks up at me with a quizzical expression on his face, then turns over his shoulder, sees the line behind him, and drops his forehead to the turf with a groan. I produce the yellow card and explain to him that it is for USB (specifically, handling ball outside of area). I also told him that given the conflicting markings, I was giving him a break because the play was close to being DOGSO/H with automatic red card. The kid was great in that he actually understood that in this situation, that was a potential consequence.

It was close in that 3 of the 4 conditions for OGSO were clearly met. But the Attacker had pushed the ball just a little too far ahead of himself to still be within playing distance. Plus, I did think that the poor field markings called for some discretion. If the field markings had been proper, I would have thought a little harder about whether this was in fact an OGSO.

At half, the keeper¹s coach asked me what the yellow card was for. I explained that it was in lieu of a potential DOGSO/H + Red Card, and a way to emphasize to the keeper to be aware of the field markings. He was satisfied. I think his player had a better grasp of the Laws than he did.

Given the situation as described, was this a valid call within the LOTG and a reasonable way to handle the situation? Can the case be made for a different call, with or without modifying any of the elements?

Interestingly, a nearly identical scenario was one of the prep questions at my recertification clinic last month. We were working in groups to answer the prep questions and my table had 6 adults. A mix of Grade 8¹s and 7¹s. We all agreed that that scenario did not meet OGSO criteria. I raised the idea of Caution for USB. A couple of us agreed that that might be warranted in some situations, but most did not see the need for a caution in addition to DKF restart.

USSF answer (December 19, 2003):
In your analysis, you appear to be applying criteria which are involved in a red card for offense #5, when in fact what occurred was offense #4. The “4 Ds” memo is specific in its terms — it is talking about offense #5 in connection with these conditions. The general rule of thumb in #4 violations is that the red card is justified only if (in the opinion of the referee), but for the handling offense (in this case, by the goalkeeper outside his PA), the ball would have gone into the net.

In addition, the terms of the USSF position paper of September 16, 2002, on “Obvious Goal-Scoring Opportunity Denied (The 4 Ds)” do not include any reason for a gratuitous caution for unsporting behavior where it is not merited. Nor is this true of any other document dealing with the correct application of the Laws of the Game. If you thought the ‘keeper was confused by the “nontraditionally” marked lines, then a simple foul for deliberately handling the ball outside the penalty area would suffice.

Please, let common sense prevail.


CASTS [LAW 4]
Your question:
The State Youth Association that I referee for has an absolute ban on casts. No player may play with a cast,period, and this includes padded casts. I have contacted them and they have reiterated that casts cannot be made safe and are not allowed. I have had a few referees tell me that as per Law 5, only the referee may decide what is safe and what is not and if they think the cast has been made safe,they’ll allow it. I think this is crazy as if there’s an injury someone’s going to get sued for allowing something to be worn specifically forbidden by the local jurisdiction. Moreover, are not we as referees obligated to adhere to State and Local modifications? I would greatly appreciate your opinion. Thanks.

USSF answer (December 19, 2003):
The referees who told you that the referee may decide what is safe and what is not are correct. Law 5 states that the referee “ensures that the players’ equipment meets the requirements of Law 4.” However, if the rules of competition specify that a player may not wear a cast or some specific piece of equipment other than the required uniform, then any referee who takes a game from that competition must follow the rules. There are no ifs, ands, or buts.

A good general principle to follow in this is that the rules of competition may be more restrictive than the Law allows, but they cannot allow something that the Law flatly forbids.


DENYING THE OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY [LAW 12]
Your question:
I had a situation happen to me during a college game a couple of weeks ago and I need help with the appropriate decision.

5 secs left in the game, corner kick comes in, offensive player # 1 heads the ball and Defender A intentionally handles the ball as it was about to enter the goal. With the ball back in play, offensive player # 2 heads the ball into the nets, and Defender B attempts to play the ball intentionally with his arm but the ball continues into the goal and I therefore award GOAL at the sound of the Buzzer.

Here are my questions:
1- If I had blown the whistle at the first handling, easy Send off and a PK.
2- If I blew the whistle at the time of the Second infraction before the ball entered the goal and award a PK. Do I have 1 Send off or 2 send offs?
3- How about if the second header puts the ball over the goal and therefore left me with one handling of the ball, advantage applied did not pan out, ball goes out Goal Kick, I think I still must send off Defender A, and award Goal Kick? (Probably very hard to Sell). Your advice would be greatly appreciated, been discussing this with a lot of referees and instructors, and we all feel your advice would help us all.

USSF answer (December 17, 2003):
The answers are fairly simple when sitting at the computer, but perhaps not so simple while on the field. Let us consider the questions solely on the basis of the Laws of the Game, rather than the rules of any other competition — although in this case there is no difference.

1. Correct. Send off for denying the opposing team a goal or a goalscoring opportunity; restart with penalty kick. However, the referee should not stop play immediately for the handling but wait to see what follows; a sure score is better than the less-than-100-percent chance of a penalty kick.

2. You would have one send-off and (perhaps) one caution. Having in effect given the advantage — wittingly or not — by not calling the first deliberate handling by Defender A, you allowed play to continue and the second shot was taken. Even though the second shot was successful, you would still send off and show the red card to Defender A for denying the opposing team the original goal or goalscoring opportunity. If Defender B actually touched the ball while attempting to deny the goal or goalscoring opportunity, he would be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. If Defender B did not make contact with the ball, then he has not committed any misconduct and may not be punished.

3. Hard sell or not, you must still send off Defender A and award the goal kick.


HOW TO SECURE NETS [LAW 1]
Your question:
I read that…goalposts and crossbars must be made of wood…..and they must not be dangerous to players. What about the use of hooks to secure the net? Are there any guidelines that advice not to use hooks to secure the nets? The hooks can cause injury and degloving of hands/fingers. Is there any literature on this? What is the recommended way to secure nets…velcro, oversize rubber bands.

USSF answer (December 17, 2003):
You have obviously been reading the wrong literature. Goals may be made of any substance that is not dangerous. The only requirement as far as materials go is that the goals must be colored white.

We are not aware of any literature on the matter. Field owners, competitions (leagues, etc.), and teams should consider carefully what might be safe and what might be dangerous. The final decision is up to the referee.


LEAVING THE FIELD OF PLAY WITHOUT THE REFEREE’S PERMISSION [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Player A1 has the ball and is about to make a throw-in. His teammate A2 runs off the field, around the back of A1 and back on to the field to receive the throw-in. It is clear that this is a tactic being used by A2 to avoid being covered by the defense.

Is this a legal play or should A2 be cautioned for leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission?

USSF answer (December 16, 2003):
Stop the throw, have a FRIENDLY BUT VERY PUBLIC CHAT with the player who has left the field for this purpose, reminding him that he is not allowed to leave the field without your permission — other than during the course of play, when he needs to get around an opponent or something similar –and that leaving the field in this way could be a cautionable offense. Once he is back on the field, allow the thrower to take the throw-in.

You will find that the public admonition will prevent others from attempting this same trick. This is a case of not making trouble for yourself when you can use the situation as a learning experience for all the players and still foil the player’s gamesmanship.


OFFSIDE? [LAW 11]
Your question:
During discussion with a group of referees, there was a question about a specific situation on offside. Player A takes a shot on goal. At the time of the shot, defenders X and Y (as well as the goalkeeper), were nearer the endline than player A and the ball. The shot rebounds off of the crossbar and player A collects it, shoots again and scores. At the time he collected the ball he now was nearer the end line than defenders X and Y and had only the goalkeeper as the only defender between him and the endline. The question is the attacker A offside on the second shot?

For background purposes, the majority of the group said no due to the position of the ball. A vocal minority said yes due to the position of the attacker in relation to the defenders. Thank you in advance for settling this discussion.

USSF answer (December 15, 2003):
Let the vocal minority conjure this: A player cannot be in an offside position if he is not nearer to the goal line than the ball. It makes no difference how many or how few opponents are between him and the goal line if he is behind the ball. In addition, a player is not his own teammate and thus may play again a ball he has just played — unless he put the ball into play at a restart. If a player plays/shoots the ball at goal during active play and the ball rebounds to him from the crossbar or the goalpost or the goalkeeper, he is not in an offside position and thus cannot be offside.

You will find a excellent example of players behind the ball but ahead of all the opponents save the goalkeeper when the ball rebounds in the USSF videotape from the Women’s World Cup 1999, USA vs. Nigeria.


RESTARTS FOLLOWING REFEREE ERROR [LAW 8; LAW 13; LAW 18]
Your question:
Two issues have recently surfaced dealing with errors (judgement, procedures, or both) by the referee team. In both cases, the question to you is, “What is the proper restart?”

ISSUE 1: there is an attack on goal, along AR1’s touch line, when the ball is suddenly slotted through the defense to a teammate wide open in front of the goal, one-on-one with the GK, when the AR pops his flag for offside. The referee whistles to stop play, and thereafter both referee and AR see another defender hiding behind the goal, in an effort to draw the offside call. Since this is a stoppage, there appears no question but that the referee must Caution the Defender now, if he intends to address that unsporting behavior. However, the original stoppage was clearly the result of referee error – acknowledgement of a non-existent Offside infraction. What is the proper restart?

ISSUE 2: an attack is heading toward the AR, when suddenly the referee sees the attacker, while dribbling toward the AR, take a swing at the Defender. The referee immediately whistles play dead, issues a Red card to attacker for SFP, and orders a DFK to the defenders. Before the restart, he checks with his AR, and discovers that his AR knows that Defender first spat at attacker.
Part A: AR had flag up before the referee whistled, but referee did not check with AR until after issuing the Red, and indicating direction of DFK.
Part B: AR raises his flag as or after referee is whistling; but referee does not check with AR until after . . .
Part C: AR did not have his flag up (I can think of two reasons this could well happen: ARs relatively new to the faster-paced, older players, more skilled game, than their previous referee assignments – this has to happen to all of us at some point, as we advance; and 2, the AR wasn’t 100% sure it was a spit until the players got closer, when he could now confirm with visual evidence)

The question, in one way, boils down to this: may a referee ever change an otherwise properly-awarded restart, if he discovers prior to the restart, there was a Foul (as well as misconduct) precipitating the “event” he stopped play for?

This scenario assumes the initial spitting occurred within the “2-3 seconds” for advantage; clearly, if the Initial foul was seen and ignored by both referees, or by either, after 3 seconds, there is no authority under TLOG to stop play for the FOUL (and “if no one saw it, it never happened”).

I believe that both LOTG and SOTG lead one to the conclusion the ref ought to change his restart (it should now be DFK to attackers), and change the basis of his Red card to attacker from SFP to VC, while giving Defender his Red card for Spitting.

What is the correct restart here?

USSF answer (December 15, 2003):
ISSUE 1: The initial flag and stoppage of play were in error, as no infringement of Law 11 occurred. The referee determined only after play had been stopped that a player had left the field in an attempt to place the opposing player in an offside position. The player who left the field must be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior (committed off the field of play). The correct restart in this case is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped, keeping in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8.

The dropped ball restart is not because of an “inadvertent whistle” or, in this situation, the wrong belief that there was an offside violation, as might be the case with the “phantom” fullback, but because of the defender’s misconduct committed _off_ the field. The fact that the reason for stopping play was invalid does not lock the referee into a dropped ball restart if he learns that, prior to stopping play, some other event — foul or misconduct — occurred.

Even if the referee and assistant referee had detected the player leaving the field before the AR raised the flag and the referee blew the whistle, the game would not have been stopped to punish him (in accordance with IFAB/FIFA Q&A 2000, Law 11, Q&A 3), but the player would have been cautioned when the ball next went out of play.

ISSUE 2: Although he should have done so, it makes no difference whether the AR signals for the spitting offense or not, so long as he informs the referee prior to the restart. As long as play has not been restarted, the referee may change his decision and award the foul and send off (red card) the defending player for spitting at an opponent. He must then send off and show the red card to the attacking player for violent conduct, rather than serious foul play. The correct restart is a direct free kick for the attacking player’s team.


“TRICKERY” FOLLOWING THE THROW-IN [LAW 15; LAW 18]
Your question:
The Decisions of the IFAB for Law 12 go on at length – and we discuss it for way too long in the Introductory Class – regarding attempted trickery to circumvent the pass-back prohibition from a player to his ‘keeper.

Does the same trickery concept also apply to a throw-in from player to team-mate who then heads the ball to his ‘keeper? Until a week ago I would not have even thought to ask the question – assuming the answer to be “Yes – that trickery is also prohibited.” But in an EPL game, I saw EXACTLY that play allowed by the referee. I was waiting for the whistle, the caution and the IFK but they never came. Play merely continued on with the ‘keeper’s punt. Is this one of those that they allow at that level but I have to enforce in my typical youth games? Or have I merely mis-extended the “trickery prohibition” into an area not so intended?

USSF answer (December 15, 2003):
Yes, the same concept of “trickery” applies to the prohibition against the goalkeeper handling the ball directly from a throw-in by a teammate as for a ball played from a teammate’s foot during play. However, the likelihood of trickery on a throw-in is probably much lower, given the nature of the play.

When considering the possibility of trickery, the referee must decide if the action was natural (a normal sort of play, the sort of thing you would see in any sequence of play) or contrived (an artificial, unnatural play, which, in the referee’s opinion, is intended solely for the purpose of circumventing the Law and preventing the opponents from challenging for the ball).

In the case of throw-in _directly_ to the goalkeeper, the referee would not consider as trickery any sequence of play that offers a fair chance for opponents to challenge for the ball before it is handled by the goalkeeper. The same would be true for a throw-in redirected by a teammate of the goalkeeper.


PROPER SIGNAL? [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
Sometimes when calling obstruction or dangerous play it can be confusing which team is getting the indirect free kick. For example the blue team player plays in a dangerous manner and the referee blows the whistle. If the referee immediately raises his arm to signal indirect free kick both teams may not know who gets the kick. If the referee raises his arm giving a direction of the kick, then raises his arm up to indicate indirect, some players may think the kick is direct because they took the restart very quickly and everyone missed the indirect signal from the referee.

Anyway what is the correct procedure for the referee signaling for obstruction and dangerous play to properly inform everyone which team takes the kick and that the kick is indirect?

USSF answer (December 15, 2003):
And lo, in addition to whistle and hands, the referee has a tongue and a voice, and is able to inform the players through the use of them.


“FLICKING” THE FREE KICK [LAW 13; LAW 18]
Your question:
Can a player lift a ball with his foot to flick the ball over a wall? It would seem to me this would be a double kick since the ball has to be lifted and then flicked. Even though this may look like one motion, the ball is not being struck by the player but literally hit twice in succession. It would seem to me that if this was allowed, it could open all kinds of doors to allow players to ³carry a ball² if needed. This happened in a recent game and no call was made.

USSF answer (December 13, 2003):
There is no way anyone can make this call from the computer keyboard. If the ball is truly flicked up and then propelled (contact with the ball is lost and then regained), then a second-touch violation has occurred. If the ball is lifted with the foot (the top of the foot) and propelled forward with no contact being lost, then the IFAB/FIFA Q&A covers the situation. IFAB/FIFA Q&A, Law 13, Q&A 5, applies:
5. May a free kick be taken by lifting the ball with a foot or both feet simultaneously?
Yes. The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves.


“SOFT” RED CARD [LAW 12]
Your question:
Can you tell me exactly what a “soft red” is? Thanks a lot.

USSF answer (December 13, 2003):
A “soft red” is a concept existing only under the National Federation (high school) rules. It is a send-off which, because it was for taunting or a second yellow card, allows the team to substitute for the player who has been dismissed (i.e., the offending team does not have to play down). This concept does not exist under the Laws of the Game.


RULES OF THE COMPETITION [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
[An administrator asks:] What happens if an adult game takes place, Team A prevails 8-2, and it’s later discovered that Team B played the game with an illegal (non-registered) player? Does Team A get the 8-2 win? Is the game declared a forfeit and Team A wins 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0? Is the game to be replayed? All of these possibilities have been suggested by people I’ve spoken to but I have gotten no definitive answer. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (December 13, 2003):
Sure wish we could give you a definitive answer, but we cannot. Decisions on matters like this are not part of the Laws of the Game; they are something that only the competition authority can make.


PRIVACY AND THE REGISTRATION FORM [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
I just finished my referee recertification today – had to reregister since I missed last year. I find it hard to believe, what with all the identity theft problems we have today, that US Soccer is still requesting SS#’s for identification purposes in your database. Is there any way I can have this removed from my registration, and more importantly, why can’t we strike this requirement from the registration form? If nothing else, why not use just the last 4 digits, your initials and date of birth or something like that?

USSF answer (December 9, 2003):
If you have been registered in the past, there will be a unique USSF identification number for you. (If you do not have it, call the Referee Department at 312-808-1300. They will find it for you.)

You can have your SSAN taken off your records. It is not a required piece of information — it is optional. Because in many cases there are several individuals with the same names in the database, the SSAN along with the birthdate helps the Federation to verify we are registering the right people to the right record.


DEALING WITH INJURED PLAYERS [LAW 18; ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
I have recently become a referee. During a championship game, for u13 recreation, I was watching a game (not officiating) and had a question about the events that transpired. During the game, a player was hit in the chest with the ball. The player that was hit didn’t do it on purpose, so naturally, he had the air knocked out of him momentarily. The coach yelled for play to be stopped, the official, said “play on”. After a few minutes of yelling by fans and coaches the parents of the child came onto the field to get their son. My question is, what is the correct procedure for injuries, the laws of the game do not say clearly. Thanks for your time.

USSF answer (December 4, 2003):
On the contrary, the Laws of the Game are quite explicit on what to do about injuries to players. Please note that full details on proper procedure in dealing with injured players will be found in your Laws of the Game booklet, under the Additional Instructions for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials.

QUOTE
Dealing with injured players
Referees must follow the instructions below when dealing with injured players:
– play is allowed to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in his opinion, only slightly injured
– play is stopped if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured
– after questioning the injured player, the referee authorizes one, or at most two doctors, to enter the field to ascertain the type of injury and to arrange the player’s safe and swift removal from the field
– the stretcher-bearers should enter the field with a stretcher at the same time as the doctors to allow the player to be removed as soon as possible
– the referee ensures an injured player is safely removed from the field of play
– a player is not allowed to be treated on the field
– any player bleeding from a wound must leave the field of play. He may not return until the referee is satisfied that the bleeding has stopped
– as soon as the referee has authorized the doctors to enter the field, the player must leave the field, either on the stretcher or on foot. If a player does not comply he is cautioned for unsporting behavior
– an injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted
– an injured player may only re-enter the field from the touchline when the ball is in play. When the ball is out of play, the injured player may re-enter from any of the boundary lines
– the referee alone is authorized to allow an injured player to re-enter the field whether the ball is in play or not
– if play has not otherwise been stopped for another reason, or if an injury suffered by a player is not the result of a breach of the Laws of the Game, the referee restarts play with a dropped ball
– the referee allows for the full amount of time lost through injury to be played at the end of each period of play
Exceptions
Exceptions to this ruling are made only for:
– injury to a goalkeeper
– when a goalkeeper and an outfield player have collided and need immediate attention
– when a severe injury has occurred e.g. swallowed tongue, concussion, broken leg etc
END OF QUOTE

And this extract from an answer of September 26, 2003, should also be of help:
BEGIN EXTRACT
In addition to that sage guidance, it is important to emphasize that the Laws and the IFAB’s additional instructions assume a particular kind of game — one which is rare for the vast majority of referees. For most of us, the language of the Law or additional instructions should not be interpreted to mean that a player is required to leave the field when play was stopped solely for his injury ONLY if someone (anyone — trainer, doctor, paramedic, coach, or mom) was beckoned onto the field. The sole determinant of the requirement to leave the field is that the referee stopped play only for the injury. If the game was stopped for other reasons and someone enters the field to aid him, the player may still be required to leave the field if a great deal of attention is required to his condition.
END EXTRACT

Referees should not be swayed by the complaints or shouts of coaches or parents, but should exercise common sense in stopping games for injury to players. A good rule of thumb is that the younger and less skilled or experienced the players, the more quickly the referee should stop the game.


OUTSIDE AGENT [LAW 8]
Your question:
The attacking team takes a shot on the defending team’s goal. The shot is wide and is clearly going cross the goal line outside the 6-yard box and result in a goal kick – if left undisturbed. However, a coach arriving for the next game sees the ball and in an effort to be helpful steps forward, stops the ball with his foot and passes it to the goalie. However, he stops the ball on the goal line. I thanked him for his assistance and asked him to let the ball completely leave the field next time explaining that he had interfered with play. I proceeded with a goal kick to restart play. Did I handle the situation correctly?

USSF answer (December 3, 2003):
As soon as the coach stops the ball you have interference by an outside agent and play MUST be stopped — restart with a dropped ball where the ball was, taking into account the special circumstances of Law 8.


OFFSIDE? MISCONDUCT? RESTART? [LAW 11; LAW 12]
Your question:
If a player slides off the field into the goal, being beyond the goal line when his teammate plays the ball, and then came back and distract the opposing GK. The replies on the [unspecified] list did not consider the player was quite likely to be in offside position. So he’s interfering with an opponent and it’s offside. Restart is IFK in the GA, since his nominal position is on the goal line between the posts.

Is there a USSF official judgment on this situation?

USSF answer (December 3, 2003):
If a player is beyond the goal line and one of his teammates kicks the ball into the goal, the player should not be punished if he remains stationary as the ball enters the goal and does not interfere with the opponents. However, if the player interferes with the goalkeeper’s ability to play the ball, and the referee believes this interference contributed to the scoring of the goal, the goal would not be valid. In this case, the player would be punished for misconduct (cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior), not for offside.

If the player had remained off the field, the restart would be a dropped ball in accordance with the special circumstances of Law 8. If the player had returned to the field before or during the interference, the restart would an indirect free kick.


BILLBOARDS AND OTHER ADVERTISING SIGNS [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
Our club is investigating using movable small advertising boards and I need to find the distance requirements between sign boards and the goal line and the touch line. Also is there a difference of distance during a tournament and during the regular season.

USSF answer (December 2, 2003):
There are no requirements in the Laws of the Game regarding distances to be maintained between the boundary lines and any advertising boards. However, FIFA has established regulations for the distance of billboards and other signage from various locations on the field of play: from touchline 5.0 meters minimum, 3.0 meters at corner flags, and 3.5 meters where the goal area line intersects the goal line. (“Technical Recommendations and Requirements for the Construction or Modernization of Football Stadia.”)


PERMISSIBLE AGE FOR YOUNG REFEREES [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
My son is a licensed USSF level 8 referee.  He scored an 89 on the exam, and worked several games this past Spring in [our old state]. We relocated to [another state] this month, and he is told he may not work any USSF games because he is only 12 years old. They will, however, allow him to recertify when the time comes.

He is nationally licensed by USSF.  If he were living in [our old state], he would work games and tournaments. What is the opinion of the national office on his eligibility in [our new state]?

My position is ­ as he is acknowledged and licensed by USSF, he should be permitted to work games.

USSF answer (December 1, 2003):
Each state governs the age at which referees may begin refereeing within the state’s area of jurisdiction. The United States Soccer Federation takes no position one way or another.


NO OFFSIDE DIRECTLY FROM GOAL KICK [LAW 11]
Your question:
I’ve always been told a player cannot be offside on a goal kick, but no one I’ve asked has ever known the meaning or explanation behind this rule. Could you help me understand why it is an attacking player cannot be offsides on his/her goal kick?

USSF answer (December 1, 2003):
Law 11 tells us that “There is no offside offense if a player receives the ball directly from a goal kick.” This has been a part of the Law since at least 1881.


DIMENSIONS FOR YOUTH FIELDS [LAW 1]
Your question:
What are the field diminutions for youth K-2, and grades 3-5 ? Can you e-mail me a diagram of each?

USSF answer (November 30, 2003):
Sorry, but there are no diagrams available for small-sided youth fields. Here are the dimensions for Under 6, Under 8, Under 10, and Under 12 small-sided games (and the recommended dimensions for Under 12 full-sided games) You can find the markings on the US Youth Soccer website, together with the recommended rules. Please remember that even these dimensions may be changed by the particular competition authority.

U6: The field of play shall be rectangular, its length not more than 30 yards nor less than 20 yards, its width not more than 20 yards nor less than 15 yards. The length in all cases shall exceed the width. U S Youth Soccer Recommendation: Length 25 Yards Width: 20 Yards

U8: The field of play shall be rectangular, its length being not more than 50 yards nor less than 40 yards and its width not more than 30 yards nor less than 20 yards. The length in all cases shall exceed the width. U S Youth Soccer Recommendation: Length 50 Yards Width: 30 Yards

U10: The field of play shall be rectangular, its length being not more than 80 yards nor less than 70 yards and its width not more than 50 yards nor less than 40 yards. The length in all cases shall exceed the width. U S Youth Soccer Recommendation:
8v8 Length: 70 yards Width: 50 yards
7v7 Length: 60 yards Width: 40 yards
6v6 Length: 50 yards Width: 40 yards
5v5 Length: 50 yards Width: 40 yards

U12: The field of play shall be rectangular, its length being not more than 90 yards nor less than 70 yards and its width not more than 50 yards nor less than 40 yards. The length in all cases shall exceed the width. U S Youth Soccer Recommendation: 8v8 Length: 80 yards Width: 45 yards


COMMUNICATION BY DISMISSED COACH [LAW 5]
Your question:
When a coach is “sent off” the field of play by the referee, has he been banished from watching the match from the other side of the field? And would he still be allowed to communicate with his other coaches still on the bench, either by hand signals or cell phone, etc., etc.?

I was taught that once a coach has been sent off, he/she is required to leave the field and no longer coach. Is there further sanction the referee should take?

USSF answer (November 28, 2003):
When a coach or other team official is dismissed from the game, he must leave the field and its environs. While players may be cautioned for unsporting behavior for using a cell phone or similar devices during a game, there is no prohibition in the Laws of the Game against team technical personnel using phones. However, such use may be prohibited by the rules of the competition, e. g., NCAA and high school. The only thing that would stop a disqualified coach from communicating with the team would be those rules of competition


HANDS OFF THE FLAGS!! [LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
Interesting situation arose over the past weekend. AR was asked by a player to hold the corner flag out of the way because the wind was blowing really hard. AR didn’t know any better, and believing that he was being helpful, obligingly held the flag out the way. To compound the problems, the corner kick resulted in a goal. Obviously the defending coach was livid. Should the corner kick have been retaken or stood as a score?

Part 2: there seems to always be little things like the above that drive us refs nuts as we continue our learning. As well meaning as our general rule books are, they lack specifics on how to deal with strange (but not that uncommon) situations. For instance, during yet another game over the weekend a referee blew his whistle thinking a ball had gone over the touch line – when in reality he mistakenly misread the perimeter markings of the goal box as the touch line (trust me, the field markings were strange to say the least). He restarted the play by awarding the team with the possession at the whistle with an indirect kick. After the game, this decision gnawed on him, and he refenced some “10 page addendum” to the normal rule book. And, yup, there in black and white, it addressed this situation as a restart with drop ball. Situations like this happen – although not frequently, they still occur. What was this “10 page addendum” the referee had? Are there some all inclusive referee books that deals with situations over and above the basic referee tenets? What would you recommend?

USSF answer (November 28, 2003):
We can only say shame on the assistant referee! The seven duties of the AR are enumerated in Law 6, and holding the corner flag is not one of them. If a player is not entitled to do this, why should the AR become an accomplice in the player’s crime?

USSF answer (November 28, 2003):
We have no idea about any ten-page addendum to the Laws, unless the referee was thinking of the Additional Instructions to Referees, which are included in the back of the Law book, but there is nothing there about restarts in the situation you describe. However, Law 8 describes the dropped ball as the correct restart in any case “after a temporary stoppage which becomes necessary, while the ball is in play, for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game.”

We recommend that all referees obtain, either through purchase of the hardcopy edition or downloading the PDF file on the US Soccer referee webpage, a copy of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.” An alternative would be to read through a copy of the “The Laws of the Game — Made Easy” before moving to harder material like the “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.”


TRIFLING OFFENSES [LAW 5; LAW 6; LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In a U-14 game the goal keeper (blue team) made a save and took a few forward steps to put the ball back into play. In doing so he stepped out of the penalty box (a hand ball). The Referee didn’t see the infraction, but the AR signaled the penalty. The referee didn’t see the AR as play was toward the other end of the field and the trail AR didn’t mirror the flag. The AR kept his flag up as play developed. Finally the ball was kick out of bounds across the goal line giving the red team the goal kick. At this time the referee notice the flag up and went to confer with the AR. Finding out that there had been a hand ball by the blue goalkeeper, instead of the red team taking a goal kick, he brought the ball back to the point of the hand ball and gave the red team a direct free kick from that point. Is that the correct procedure or since the penalty was not noted until the next stoppage should it have been a restart by goal kick by the red team?

USSF answer (November 28, 2003):
The original offense was trifling and should have been disregarded. The assistant refereE called something the referee likely did not need to deal with and thus put the referee in a no-win position. The AR should have let it go.

The reasoning behind the answer: 1. The contact with the ball might not even have been an offense — could not the exact location of the goalkeeper’s handling of the ball been at least doubtful?
2. Even if not doubtful, the offense was almost certainly trifling and should have been ignored by the AR.
3. Even if the AR chose not to ignore the offense, the AR should have dropped his flag after that much time had gone by (how long an AR holds the flag for a violation of Law 12 should be discussed in the pregame but, where the offense does not involve violence, sustained flags are not beneficial).
4. Even if the AR maintained the flag, the referee should have decided to overrule the AR’s information for any or all of the reasons listed above.


DOES A TEAM NEED A COACH DURING THE GAME? [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
My question is in regards of a situation that I was faced to deal with during a game earlier this season. It was a Classic level game in which a team showed up with no coach. There was no team manager, coach, or any team officials present at the field. I read the rulebook and saw that there is no area regarding coaches, but what would have been the correct course of action? Play the game or not play?

USSF answer (November 28, 2003):
While there is no requirement in the Laws of the Game that a coach, team manager, or other team official be present at any game, it may be required by the rules of the competition. Moral: Know the rules of the competition in which you referee.


WHEN DOES A PENALTY KICK END? [LAW 14]
Your question:
One of [our State] Cup semifinal U11G playoff games last weekend required penalty kicks to decide a winner. After several “normal” kicks, the following situation occurred: The kicker stuck the ball and propelled it toward the goal. The keeper then moved forward to block the kick (no keeper violation). The keeper missed the ball. The ball stuck the crossbar then rebounded into the field of play. It struck the keeper then rebounded backwards across the goal line and into the goal. What is the correct call … goal or no goal?

During normal time, this would be a goal, since play would continue and there would be attackers and defenders involved in the continuation of play (including the keeper).

At the end of a half or in a shootout, it isn’t obvious to me (or several other referees watching the game) whether the play ends when the ball comes to rest (or leaves the field of play or enters the goal) or whether the play ends when the shot is missed (hitting the crossbar and rebounding back into the field of play in this case).

Fortunately, the call made in the game did not decide the outcome, as one team failed on several other shootout attempts.

USSF answer (November 27, 2003):
Score the goal. 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 it is any possibility that it is still in play.

To put it another way: So long as the ball is in motion and contacting any combination of the ground, crossbar, goalposts, and goalkeeper, a goal can still be scored.


GOALKEEPER TAKING THE BALL FROM THE TEAMMATE’S FOOT [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In the December issue of [a national magazine] a situation is described where a defender is dribbling the ball in the PA and the keeper comes up and takes the ball away from him using his hands. [The] Magazine interprets this as permissible because the ball was not “deliberately” played to the keeper. This goes against all I have been taught, as the ball was last played by the foot of the defender. I do notice, however, that the wording in the 2003 Laws of the Game use the words “deliberately played.” What is correct and do we now need to distinguish deliberately played from accidental?

USSF answer (November 27, 2003):
The spirit of the Law is that a goalkeeper may not play a ball last played deliberately from the foot of a teammate.  If the defender has played the ball with his foot, trapping the ball and leaving it for the goalkeeper to pick up, that is the same as kicking the ball deliberately to the goalkeeper. The same would be true if the goalkeeper reached down and picked up a ball being dribbled by a teammate.


LIABILITY INSURANCE [ADMIN]
Your question:
Most leagues require their games to be assigned by a USSF registered assignor. In some cases the smaller leagues do not have this requirement and referees get calls from coaches to referee their regularly scheduled games. If the game or scrimmage is USSF sanctified and the referee is USSF registered, but the game is not assigned by a USSF registered assignor, is the referee covered by USSF insurance?

If the referee is insured, does the assignor have anything to do with the insurance coverage of a registered referee?

USSF answer (November 27, 2003):
If the referee is currently registered with USSF for the year and the game is an affiliated game, the referee is insured regardless of how he received the assignment. This has been verified by the Chief Financial Officer, who oversees the USSF insurance coverage.


ABUSE OF TEAM BY MATCH OFFICIAL [ADMIN]
Your question:
I know that if a coach questions a call on the field or just disagrees with it they are to voice it in a polite manner either upon the completion of the game or at half-time. I recently was involved in a game where the Ref Assignor for a club was the center ref and his 14 year old daughter was the AR. Mind you know that this was a GU13 relegation game when during the second half the AR without being spoken to said to my girls and an Asst Coach ” you guys have a “Fing” attitude.”. My question is when do you address this kind of issue? After the game and take the chance of it continuing? Or like we did by getting the centers attention? This is when we found out that the AR was his daughter. Please help in answering what is the correct procedure.

USSF answer (November 24, 2003):
No official in any sport, of either sex or of any age, has a right to speak in such a manner to players, coaches, or spectators. The team should file a full report with the competition (league) authority on the matter and should also file a full report and letter of grievance with the state youth association.

The fact that the assistant referee was the assignor’s daughter makes no difference in this case.

You can try getting the referee’s attention to report this.


STANDARD FOR FLOODLIGHTS? [LAW 1; LAW 18]
Your question:
Is there any guide line to the amount of flood lights needed to play a game safely in the evening? There are several youth teams that have their own fields and are putting in their own flood lights for practice and are now using the same fields for late games on the weekend.

USSF answer (November 14, 2003):
No, there is no guideline on floodlights. We can assume that you would apply the same rule of thumb as for fog and rain: If the referee cannot see from the halfway line to both ends of the field, then there is not enough light to play the game safely.


“INTENTIONAL” VS. RESULT OF THE ACTION [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I recently had the following happen in a U-14 game. A defender, in the box, was covering the attacking player with the ball. The defender had his arms in a normal defensive position about shoulder height and partially extended. The attacker kicked the ball towards the goal on either a cross or a shot and the ball went straight into the left arm of the defender and bounced across the goal line out of play. The defender did not use his arm to propel the ball out of play. In my opinion the ball was not deliberately played by the defender, instead the ball “played” the defender. The center referee called a PK. I question the referees judgment on this foul. If they truly felt that it was deliberately played by the player, thus awarding the PK, then the defender should have been sent off for denying a goal scoring opportunity or yellow carded for unsporting behavior. If not, then no foul should have been called because it was unintentional.

I brought this question to our local association referee president and he told me that the law had changed. He indicated that the rule book no longer says “intentional”, but “through your actions”, so it comes down to merely a judgment call. I cannot find any changes in the “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” 2003 regarding this change. Can you help clarify this?

USSF answer (November 14, 2003):
Without wishing to insult your association president, who very likely meant precisely what is stated below, the information you were given is partially correct, partially incorrect, and generally flawed.

When making a decision on the first six direct-free-kick fouls listed in Law 12 — kicking or attempting to kick an opponent, tripping or attempting to trip an opponent, jumping at an opponent, charging an opponent, striking or attempting to strike an opponent, and pushing an opponent — the referee no longer looks for “intent” in a player’s actions, but for the result of that action and whether the act was committed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force.

When making a decision on the second four direct-free-kick fouls — tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball; holding an opponent; spitting at an opponent; or handling the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area) — the referee looks only at the result. He or she does not need to establish that the act was done carelessly, recklessly, or with the use of excessive force. The fact that it was done, in the opinion of the referee, is enough for the foul to be called.

In the case of deliberate handling, the referee determines simply whether or not the play was deliberate or accidental. (See Sections 12.9 and 12.10 of the Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game, unchanged in the 2003 update.)

As to the final decision made during the game, only the referee who is there can do that.

With regard to your comment about misconduct, please note that a send-off for deliberate handling to deny a goal is not automatic simply because an act of deliberate handling occurred inside the penalty area. The general rule of thumb to follow for this offense is that, but for the handling, the ball would have gone into the net. Where there is no red-card misconduct, it does not follow that a caution must be given. The referee has full discretion to determine that a handling foul is simply that, a foul, with no additional misconduct attached to it (as might be the case if the handling were judged to have been committed to interfere with attacking play or in an attempt to score a goal).


PUNISHING PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
What are the proper referee mechanics for dealing with a player who commits two cautionable fouls in succession before the referee can punish either foul?

Example 1: A player commits a foul against an opponent worthy of a yellow card and then gets up and makes a USB comment to the opponent, saying something similar to “That’s what you get”, etc.

Example 2: A player commits a foul against an opponent worthy of a yellow card and the referee gives advantage, telling the player that they will be cautioned at the next stoppage of play. The player commits another cautionable foul before the next stoppage.

Example 2A: There is no advantage after the second foul.

Example 2B: There is advantage again after this foul. Should play be stopped here immediately anyways because sending off the player could give the opponent a greater advantage and because the player who knows that they will be sent-off at the next play is essentially a “dead man walking” who cannot be penalized further if they commit an even more serious foul.

Example 3: A player commits two different cautionable offences such as committing a cautionable foul and then delaying the restart by kicking the ball away in disgust before the player knows that play will be stopped anyways to issue a caution. (The latter offense could also be seen as “dissent by action” if a player kicks a ball out of play in protest of the referee’s decision.)

In these scenarios, how should the referee show the cards? Should the referee show the yellow twice in succession and then the red card? Should the ref just show one yellow card and then a red card, implying that the red card is for receiving two cautions in one match? Should the ref show just a red card and then right for the official reason two cautions and a red card and note that they occurred at the same time? Or should the ref show just a red card and give as the official reason violent conduct (because committing two cautionable offences in succession brings the game into disrepute and can be seen as an intimidation tactic, especially in Example 1) or abusive behavior?

USSF answer (November 14, 2003):
If a player commits two cautionable offenses before the referee has had the opportunity to deal with the first one, that player will be cautioned and shown the yellow card twice, once for each of the misconduct offenses, and then sent off and shown the red card for receiving a second caution in the same match. That takes care of all your examples, but there is some misunderstanding to be cleared up.

Players may well be more severely punished for acts that occur after they have committed either a second cautionable offense or even serious foul play or violent conduct. Punishment consists of more than simply the cards and the risk of being sent off. The competition authority and local governments have powers that go far beyond those of the referee to punish the player who commits continuing and grave offenses. A player may be suspended for much longer than the single-game suspension typically levied for a send-off and may be required to pay fines at some levels of the game. A player who commits assault may also be subject to criminal and civil action for his deeds. The referee must supply full details of all such acts in the match report.

The referee should normally stop the game immediately to send off and show the red card (regardless of what sequence of events led up to it — a single event or two separate events each worthy of a caution in the opinion of the referee). Either stop play immediately upon deciding for the red card or, if circumstances warrant, apply advantage but the referee must definitely delay the next restart in order to give the card.

And there is no need to invent terms such as “dissent by action.” A player may be cautioned and shown the yellow card for delaying the restart of play by kicking the ball away.


ONLY ONE RED CARD TO A CUSTOMER, PLEASE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
In my game the other day, one of the captains received a red card for getting in a fight. He then turned to me and said “Go screw yourself you “f” ing B. You “f” ing suck. I then asked for the second captain and gave him a red card for the behavior that was being displayed by this other captain. First of all is this correct? If it is, what happens if there is only one captain sent out. Who would the card be given to then?

USSF answer (November 11, 2003):
Captains do not receive cards for other players. All players are responsible for their own behavior. A player who has been sent off may be shown the red card only once. Full details on any subsequent misconduct by that (now former) player is included in the match report.


WHEN DOES THE BALL LEAVE THE FIELD? [LAW 9; LAW 18]
Your question:
In a select U-16 boys match in a tournament, a ball was kicked to the sideline where it struck the Assistant Referee hard and it in turn bounced hard in deflection towards one team’s goal. The ball would obviously have gone out of bounds had it not hit the AR. After it struck the AR the defenders stopped running but an attacker scooted after the ball heading to the goal. The attacker shanked the ball and we had a goal kick. After it hit the AR, the AR signaled that the ball was in play since it never went completely over the line since it ricocheted off of him. The AR is senior to me in experience and a senior officer in our local Referee Association. Although the center, I deferred to his judgment.

The defending team’s coach was livid since he stated that the ball should have been ruled out of play because it hit the AR. I know the center is part of the pitch, but what about the AR?

USSF answer (November 11, 2003):
If, instead of the ball being shanked by the attacker, the ball had entered the goal, the goal would have been scored. Law 9 tells us that the ball remains in play until “it has wholly crossed the goal line or touch line whether on the ground or in the air.” Common sense dictates that if the ball is prevented from wholly crossing the line by striking the assistant referee or any other person or object (such as corner flag post or a bag on the line), then it is still in play. Although ignorance of the Law is no excuse for players, the intelligent referee will be proactive and announce that the ball is still in play and prevent further confusion.

Please remember that most coaches know very little about the Laws of the Game and their proper application. Some tend to become excited when something unusual occurs that could harm their team or help the other team — no matter that it is perfectly legal under the Laws of the Game. In fact, some follow the example of the coach in your situation and become livid. Unfortunately for them, their lack of knowledge can be a big hindrance to the development of their players, to the proper management of the game, and to their own physical and mental health.


METAL STUDS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
One of my players (U11/U12 age group) has soccer cleats with removal metal studs. The studs are oval in shape (they look like the “typical” adidas or nike shape, but are metal instead of rubber). Are these legal to use in USYSA games?

USSF answer (November 11, 2003):
If the studs are safe — no burrs or sharp edges — they are probably legal under the terms of Law 4 and the March 7, 2003, U. S. Soccer memorandum on the safety of player equipment. Many competitions ban the use of metal studs, so please check with your local competition authority (league or whatever), just to be sure.


PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
If I notice that a team repeatedly fouls by tripping their opponents, can I consider this as persistent infringement and caution the person who tripped the opponent even though this was the first time he tripped the opponent and this was the first time this particular opponent was tripped. Sort of a Team persistent infringement. If so, can I consider a subsequent trip by another player of the same team as a second caution and send him off? This situation has occurred in several games I have centered where it seemed that the team was coached to trip if beaten and I want to know if this is a valid use of the PI and 2YC Send off.

USSF answer (November 9, 2003):
First a word of advice: The referee should not look to be sending off people right and left. The referee should manage play with all the tools in the toolbox, not just cards. if a player demonstrates that he or she does not want to play according to the rules and the referee’s guidance, then and only then should cards be considered.

And now on to the question: Although this pattern of infringement is not among those types of action customarily associated with persistent infringement of the Laws, it would seem to deserve a place among them. Here is what the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” has to say:
QUOTE
12.28.3 PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT
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.
END OF QUOTE

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.

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.


BALL PRESSURE [LAW 2; LAW 18]
Your question:
The laws of the game state that the ball pressure to be between 8.5 and 15.6 psig. I pumped a ball up and did a squeeze comparison. To me it was quite a difference. Like squeezing an orange in one case and a rock in another ! From my experience as a player and officiating soccer I frequently see the ball at about 9 to 10 psig. So out of curiosity my question is what are some of the factors that determine the pressure that the ball is pumped up to ? Is it age, cultural  or field conditions that determine what the referee selects ? Any good rules of thumb to follow ? What ball pressures do you see being used at the professional and World Cup level of play ? Have you seen a game where the ball was pumped to 15.6 psig ?

USSF answer (November 8, 2003):
As long as the pressure within the ball meets the requirement of the Law and is between 8.5 and 15.6 psi (aka 0.6-1.1 atmospheres), no one is particularly concerned about it. The actual playing “feel” of the ball is generally dictated by cultural preferences, which are in turn governed by normal field conditions and the state of the weather thereabouts. The balls used at the higher levels of play are generally inflated at a fairly high pressure to make the ball move better through the air and to bounce more truly from the ground. There is no magic formula of such-and-such pounds per square inch. For more information, please consult the article on “Ball Power” by Stanley Lover. You can find it in the Spring/Summer issue of the USSF referee magazine “Fair Play,” which may be downloaded from the US Soccer website.


SIGNALING FOR A CORNER KICK [LAW 2; LAW 18]
Your question:
Assume the AR is at about the 18 and even with the second to last defender. As play moves forward a shot is taken at the goal and the keeper deflects the ball over the end line (for a corner kick). Should the AR signal corner kick from his position on near the 18 and then move to the corner or run to the corner and then signal. I know this sounds a little trivial but it happens to me quite often and I just want to be sure I am in the proper position.

USSF answer (November 8, 2003):
The assistant referee (AR) is supposed to remain level with the ball or the second-last defender, whichever is nearer to the goal line. If that is not possible and the ball goes beyond the second-last defender, the AR must quickly run to the goal line to catch up with the ball. However, in the case where the ball (moving faster than the AR) leaves the field, it is more important that the AR provide immediate assistance to the referee by signaling the proper restart.

Stop, square to the field, and signal (remember, if it is to be a corner kick, the flag is pointed downward at a 45 degree angle in the direction of the corner, even if this means that the flag is not pointing directly at the corner because you are upfield). As soon as eye contact is made with the referee, drop the flag and as quickly as possible take up the correct position for the restart.


DEALING WITH “FORFEITS” [LAW 18]
Your question:
While clearing up arcane protocols – During my playing days I learned that the correct way to “officiate” a forfeit was for the team present to kick off and shoot the ball in the goal. Kind of fun, especially as the team usually selected the GK to score. Do you know if that was ever an official procedure? I doubt it as the result of a forfeit is often 2-0 and how would you handle the ghost kickoff between the victor’s goals? 🙂

Thanks for you column. As I am a referee instructor I get the most interesting questions and hunger to know as much as I can.

USSF answer (November 4, 2003):
There is no formal procedure such as you describe. The only “official” thing to do is to confirm that one team can and one team cannot field the minimum number by formally requiring the team(s) to be on the field as though the match were ready to start. When one team can put at least seven players on and one team cannot, that’s it.

In no event may the referee declare a forfeit, because there is no such option under the Laws of the Game. All we can do is declare the match abandoned due to an insufficient number of players on one or both teams. It is then up to the competition authority to determine if the match is forfeited or has some other official outcome under the rules.


TAKING A “KNEE” [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
A player took a ball off the forehead, knocking him to the ground and appeared to be unconscious for a moment. Immediately, the referee commanded the remaining players to get on the ground on one knee. Is this enforceable? It doesn’t appear in the laws anywhere. Is it the best interest of or beneficial to the injured player?

My larger concern is for the other players on the field, as aerobic recovery would be better served by gradually slowing the work rate instead of coming to a dead stop. I’ve seen it done may times, and, can’t understand why it happens. It also seems somewhat demeaning.

The referee and I spoke after the match about it. He said it was about respect for the injured player.

Looking for enlightenment,

USSF answer (November 4, 2003):
There is no requirement in the Laws of the Game, nor in common sense, to “take a knee” if a player is down. The referee is required by Law 5 to stop play immediately if a player is seriously injured. The referee might consider stopping play for any “injury” if the players are very young.


THE BALL AND THE CONDITION OF THE FIELD [LAW 2; LAW 18]
Your question:
As the weather becomes inclement, even out here in California, we¹ve been having some discussions around guidelines for determining if a field is in playable condition.  Markings and equipment matters are relatively obvious, such as our recent misfortune when a composting company dumped a load that included glass shards and nails on a couple of fields.  But what about the condition of the field itself?  Is the traditional dropped ball from 6 feet must bounce 12 inches a formally recognized standard?  Are there other accepted standards?

USSF answer (November 3, 2003):
Someone has been applying the compost elsewhere than on the fields. Who ever said that the ball, if dropped from six feet above the ground, must bounce 12 inches?? It is certainly not in the Laws of the Game, not in the Advice to Referees, nor in the Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials. This is not a rule for games played under the auspices of the United States Soccer Federation.

Only the referee can determine whether the field is fit to play on, and it has nothing to do with the height the ball bounces off the ground. It has everything to do with the safety of all participants, which is the only criterion to apply.


SERIOUS MISCONDUCT AFTER PLAYERS HAVE LEFT THE FIELD [LAW 12; LAW 3]
Your question:
After a match and the players have left the field, a disgruntled player directs racist remarks to the officiating team. Per USSF Advice 3.14, this is not a send-off and no card may be shown, but the match report MUST describe the incident. Must the referee immediately inform the player (or coach) of the filing of such a report? If YES, does this apply even to very volatile cases where there could be substantial escalation? Or does the competition authority do this later in calmer times?

USSF answer (October 31, 2003):
The referee must use common sense in this case. If it is possible to inform someone on the team, not necessarily the player himself, but perhaps the captain or another responsible team person, about the report that will be filed, then that is how it should be handled.


ADVERTISEMENTS ON PLAYER UNIFORMS [LAW 4]
Your question:
I have a question and want to know if at all, any soccer players can have any advertisments, logos for other places on their uniforms?

USSF answer (October 29, 2003):
Barring something in the rules of particular competition, there is nothing to ban advertisements or other logos on player uniforms.


GREEN CARD? “SOFT RED” CARD? [LAW 5; LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
A co-worker of mine asked me a question the other day. At a tournament in [a state in Region II] his daughter received a green card and a soft red card. What exactly does that mean or represent?

USSF answer (October 29, 2003):
Under the Laws of the Game neither of these means anything. The only “green card” we know means that his daughter may be now a resident alien in the United States. There should be no such thing as a “soft red card” in any competition affiliated with the United States Soccer Federation. That is a concept in other, non-affiliated competitions, but not under USSF. You will have to check with the competition authority responsible for the tournament for an explanation.


APPLICATION OF THE ADVANTAGE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
A couple times recently I observed direct free kick fouls by defenders in the penalty area where the referee held back on calling a penalty kick. The way I was taught to handle this was to call the penalty kick. After all, what could be more advantageous than a penalty kick? The answer, of course, is “a goal”. So if the foul is committed and you are pretty sure the team is going to score, you can say/do nothing and let the goal happen. For example, a defender sticks out his hand to stop a shot on goal but does a poor job of it, and the ball trickles into the goal. The attacking team gets a goal. The defending team saves a player from a red card. And almost everybody is happy. A variation on this incident would be if a second defender saves the ball before it goes completely across the goal-line. In this scenario, the advantage was clearly lost and the penalty kick can be awarded and the first defender sent off.

I’d love to have you discuss this in the Ask-a-Ref forum so I can either reinforce or reform my understanding of what should be done on the field.

USSF answer (October 27, 2003):
While it is rarely useful to invoke the advantage clause within the penalty area, it can be done on some occasions. The trick is to keep quiet and see what happens (almost always good advice for a referee). The only advantage you apply in the penalty area is to see if a goal is scored almost immediately.

Many top referees, especially at the pro level, invoke the advantage without announcing it publicly. They allow the 2-3 seconds to go by and then either signal the advantage or call the foul. This will not always work either for them or for the less-experienced referee who is working at the U-12 level where everyone wants every “foul” called right away. (We have published this before, I am sure.) Or there is another way to look at it: instead of allowing the traditional 2-3 seconds to go by during which the foul could still be called if the advantage doesn’t develop or is lost, referees should call the foul and the resulting penalty kick if a goal is not scored more or less immediately following the foul.

As in many other situations, a good rule here would be to swallow your whistle and keep quiet. If a goal is scored anyway, despite the foul, rejoice that good fortune has vindicated your decision and that you didn’t inadvertently cancel the goal by blowing your whistle too early and turning the 100 percent goal into a merely 70+ percent goal (the ratio of successful penalty kicks to attempts). If the goal is not scored, blow your whistle, punish the offender, and restart with the penalty kick.

In addition, the defender who has tried to stop the goal with his hand MUST be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. And in your variation of the incident, you should still go back and stop the play and send off the first defender for denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball — and don’t forget to show the red card. Why would you let someone skate free for committing such serious misconduct?

All this, of course, would be done only if you wanted to control the game properly.


SUBSTITUTION AND WASTING TIME [LAW 3; LAW 7; LAW 18]
Your question:
If a coach is using substitutions at the end of a game (last 2 minutes) to delay, what is the correct procedure? Should the clock be stopped, or the sub disallowed?

USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
The referee may not refuse to allow a proper request for substitution. The only weapon the referee has is to add time if the referee believes the team officials are attempting to “kill the clock.”

However, the referee CAN refuse a substitution if the player coming on is not ready to enter at the time the substitution is being made. In at least this way, the referee can encourage expeditious substitutions. Additionally, he can require the player going off to leave the field at the closest point on the boundary lines instead of chewing up time by traipsing across the field.


WHODUNIT? [LAW 18]
Your question:
I would appreciate your insight and opinion on a situation I faced this last weekend. The facts (maybe more than you want or need) are:

Competition: State Cup under 14 year old boys
Time: About 20 minutes into 35 minute second half
Weather & misc. Clear and cool, field condition good, game start at 12:25 PM
Number of officials One certified center referee with 2 club ³lines²
Tenor of play: Competitive with a fair amount of physical play (but under control)
Score at time Defending team (Player A) 1 and attacking team (player B) 3
Situation: Player A of defending team has a throw-in own half (approx. 18 yard line), while player A was getting ready to take the throw-in the Center Referee (me) was reviewing a potential situation down the field. When the Center Referee turned to observe the throw-in he saw Player A kicking the ball. The appearance was of a kick after throw-in with no other touch by another player. After play was stopped it became apparent that the throw-in was taken by Player A and had stuck Player B from the attacking team and had rebound to Player A. The Center Referee (me) awarded a direct free kick to the attacking team.
Items to consider and logic for call. The following were considered before making the call:
1. The Player B impended the throw-in and should be cautioned for unsporting behavior ­ restart as a dropped ball
2. Player A touched the ball twice before being touched by another player ­ restart as an indirect kick to attacking team.
3. Player A struck Player B with ball – award direct free kick to attacking team for penal foul (issue a caution for unsporting behavior and/or reckless strike)
Decision was number three and no caution was given, as the Center Referee did not witness the event. Validity to the ball striking Player B was based on information from both players, even though the Referee did not observe.

Given the facts as stated I would be interested in gaining your insight as to the decision I made to award the direct free kick. I look forward to your sage advice.

Sage USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
Failing all other sources, there is nothing wrong with asking the players involved. As long as both sides agree, then the answer is probably correct. (And yes, you did supply too many details. The head spins!)

Our question is why you would award a direct free kick — or any free kick at all — given that there is no rule against throwing the ball at the back of an opponent, as long as it is not done recklessly or with excessive force. If no one suggested that there had been misconduct of any sort, i. e., something that merited either a caution or a send-off, then let it go.

Let this be a warning to all referees about making assumptions regarding things that they did not see (but should have). Given that the violation this referee initially thought occurred is so rare (particularly at that age level and in a state cup game), he should have employed Occam’s Razor and decided that the simplest explanation was the best and, in the absence of loud protests from the opponents, decided alternately that whatever happened, even if a violation, was doubtful or trifling.


DROPPED BALL [LAW 8]
Your question:
Adult men’s league game. Restart was a dropped ball. First attempt ball was kicked before it hit the ground. Second attempt, same thing. Third attempt, blue player steps around ball as it is dropping and shoulder charges white player away from ball. Ball hits ground and blue player kicks it to team mate. White player complains and asks for foul. I stated “no foul” and play went on. But I have to admit I empathize with white. Both players were within playing distance, the charge was legal, and thus my call. So why do I feel that white is right?

USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
You feel that white was right because he was closer to the truth than you and blue. At a dropped ball no player may play for the ball until it hits the ground. Nor may any player interfere with another’s ability to play the ball BEFORE IT IS IN PLAY — in other words, before it hits the ground. Nor may there be a foul committed before the ball is in play. The act by the blue player constituted unsporting behavior; the blue player should have been cautioned and shown the yellow card.


SAFETY OF PLAYER FOOTWEAR (AND OTHER EQUIPMENT) [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I am a firm believer in safety on the pitch. I am looking for a definitive answer on footwear. I know the Laws of the Game only state that a player must wear shoes and I know it is up to the Referee to decide if they are safe or not. Well the local youth / adult soccer league here has been telling everyone that it is OK to wear baseball or football shoes as long as they cut off the toe cleat.

I think this a really bad practice because:
1- The other shoes tend to have several cleats that flair out from the sole and soccer cleats are recessed from the edges of the soles.
2- How much of the cleats need to be cut off? Answer ­ well there is no answer, and should they expect the referee to be the pitch with a ruler and knife?

Personally I find these shoes to be dangerous and I don¹t allow them on the pitch for the matches that I Ref. Well this starts problems with the coaches, players, and parents. Fights have nearly broken out over this. Quotes like ³The Ref last week allowed it² and ³We can¹t find soccer shoes or they are too expensive². Well the truth is soccer shoes are among cheapest of all sports shoes and if you really care about your child, your, or other player¹s safety it is worth the money. I want to know if is possible or at least I wish USSF would put some kind of definitive answer on this matter at least but something in the ³Advice to Referees.² If you want to wear cleats on the pitch they should at least be designed for soccer.

USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
Common sense and traditional practice dictate that players wear shoes designed for soccer, not shoes designed for some other sport and then modified by the player to use on the soccer field.

All referees must remember that they are not responsible for personally correcting any issues involving the field, the ball, or player equipment. Referees are responsible for determining whether the requirements of the Law are met, not for personally attending to them. For example, the referee should absolutely refuse to pump up balls, but should have handy a gauge to determine whether a ball is illegal, and might carry a pump, but use it only for emergencies when someone else, such as the coach, for example, pump up the ball. It is not the referee’s job to make a ball legal.

Neither should the referee carry net repair materials (tape or velcro strips) nor a lawnmower, a paint-striping machine, bags of kitty litter, or a shovel for filling in holes.

Any referee dumb enough to carry a knife and willing to use it to cut off a cleat which he has determined to be dangerous deserves every lawsuit someone might file against him.

If you need further information, you will find what every referee in the United States is taught about equipment in this memorandum of March 7, 2003:
QUOTE
Memorandum
To: State Referee Administrators cc: State Presidents
State Youth Referee Administrators Affiliated Members
State Directors of Referee Instruction
State Directors of Referee Assessment
National Assessors
National Instructors
National Referees

From: Julie Ilacqua
Managing Director of Federation Services

Re: Player’s Equipment

Date: March 7, 2003

________________________________________________________________

USSF has received a number of inquiries recently about how officials should handle situations where players wish to wear equipment that is not included in the list of basic compulsory equipment in FIFA Laws of the Game. Referees are facing increased requests from players for permission to wear kneepads, elbowpads, headbands, soft casts, goggles, etc.

The only concrete guidance in the Laws of the Game is found in Law 4:

“A player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player.”

This is followed by a list of required uniform items: jersey, shorts, socks, shoes, and shinguards. Obviously, this language is quite general. USSF suggests the following approach to issues involving player equipment and uniforms:

1. Look to the applicable rules of the competition authority.
Some leagues, tournaments, and soccer organizations have specific local rules covering player uniforms and what other items may or may not be worn on the field during play. Referees who accept match assignments governed by these rules are obligated to enforce them. Note, however, that local rules cannot restrict the referee’s fundamental duty to ensure the safety of players.

2. Inspect the equipment.
All items of player equipment and uniforms must be inspected. However, anything outside the basic compulsory items must draw the particular attention of the referee and be inspected with special regard to safety. USSF does not “pre-approve” any item of player equipment by type or brand — each item must be evaluated individually.

3. Focus on the equipment itself — not how it might be improperly used, or whether it actually protects the player.
Generally, the referee’s safety inspection should focus on whether the equipment has such dangerous characteristics as: sharp edges, hard surfaces, pointed corners, dangling straps or loops, or dangerous protrusions. The referee should determine whether the equipment, by its nature, presents a safety risk to the player wearing it or to other players. If the equipment does not present such a safety risk, the referee should permit the player to wear it.

The referee should not forbid the equipment simply because it creates a possibility that a player could use it to foul another player or otherwise violate the Laws of the Game. However, as the game progresses, an item that the referee allowed may become dangerous, depending on changes in its condition (wear and tear) or on how the player uses it. Referees must be particularly sensitive to unfair or dangerous uses of player equipment and must be prepared to order a correction of the problem whenever they become aware of it.

The referee also should not forbid the equipment because of doubts about whether it actually protects the player. There are many new types of equipment on the market that claim to protect players. A referee’s decision to allow a player to use equipment is not an endorsement of the equipment and does not signify that the referee believes the player will be safer while wearing the equipment.

4. Remember that the referee is the final word on whether equipment is dangerous.
Players, coaches, and others may argue that certain equipment is safe. They may contend that the equipment has been permitted in previous matches, or that the equipment actually increases the player’s safety. These arguments may be accompanied by manufacturer’s information, doctor’s notes, etc. However, as with all referee decisions, determining what players may wear within the framework of the Laws of the Game and applicable local rules depends on the judgment of the referee. The referee must strive to be fair, objective, and consistent, but the final decision belongs to the referee.
END OF QUOTE

The philosophy of the United States Soccer Federation is that every child who wants to should be able to play. However, we must respect the guiding principles of the Laws of the Game, particularly Law 4, which requires the referee to ensure that all players are given conditions in which they can play as safely as possible.


REFEREE DOWN [LAW 18]
Your question:
While a ball is still in play, the referee becomes diabled for whatever reason. As a result, he is unable to blow his whistle to stop play. Play continues. What is the correct procedure for the assistant referees? What should happen during the time that the ball is still in play while the referee is disabled? An example of this situation might be that a team is on the attack about to score and the referee has a debilitating medical condition like a heart attack at the same time. What should happen at that point? After the play has stopped, I know what should happen. I want to know what the procedure is when the ball is still in play.

USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
The game cannot be played without a referee. Play has effectively stopped when the referee goes down with the disability, whatever it may be and wherever the ball may be. If play has continued past this point, the ball must brought back to the spot where it was when the referee became disabled. Whichever of the assistant referees who observes the problem first must blow the whistle to ensure that the players stop playing — but, as stated above, play has actually stopped when the referee became disabled, so that nothing — other than misconduct — can happen after that time.


ACCIDENTAL VERSUS CARELESS [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
[NOTE: For the original item referred to in the question, see the archives for August 19, 2003 from the archives, ADVANTAGE; “INTENT” [LAW 5; LAW 12]] Thanks for all your help in maintaining “Ask a Referee”–I never fail to learn or be reminded of important things when I visit. However, I am confused by a recent response, even after a good deal of reflection and discussion with other refs.

You state in the following item from the archives [see ADVANTAGE; “INTENT” [LAW 5; LAW 12], dated August 19, 2003] that we do not have to judge intent–we judge the results of an act instead. So far so good–this takes us out of the requirement to read minds, and let’s us deal with observable events and consequences. However, in the next sentence you suggest we are allowed to distinguish between “accidental” and “deliberate”. What is the difference between a foul committed deliberately and one committed with intent? What is the difference between a careless action and an accidental one? This seems virtually the same as trying to judge intent–deliberation implies intent, and vice versa, does it not?

In particular, players often claim that their actions (which clearly caused results unfavorable to the opposing team) were accidental, and that a call or comment is therefore unwarranted. Let’s not focus on dissent, which we have plenty of tools to deal with, and instead focus on the point they are arguing. Are they essentially correct? Must we decide an action is deliberate before we whistle or admonish?

Consider the following: a blue defender running madly to catch a red attacker breaking toward goal apparently trips, and in falling catches the heels of the red attacker and trips her as well, thus thwarting the attack. If we judge only the result and not intent, there is a foul to be called against blue (at a minimum). If we must judge accident vs. deliberate, we will need nearly psychic powers, at least in subtle cases. It seems to me that the red attacker racing toward the goal (perhaps with only the blue keeper to beat) is robbed if she is brought down from behind and gets no call.

It makes sense that we would probably whistle the above case because of a) the profound effect the trip had, even if it was truly accidental, and b) because it will often be impossible to truly determine whether it was accidental or not. Weren’t the laws changed to get us out of the business of judging intent, which may well involve mind-reading?

Another case: two players approaching more or less head-on contending for a ball; the red player gets there first (but not by much) and plays it away, the blue player arrives just a moment after and flattens the red player. The whistle blows, and the blue player cries out that they couldn’t stop, it was an accident, they were playing the ball. Now, if it was essentially simultaneous in the refs opinion, maybe the ref wouldn’t have whistled (tough, combative contest and all the rest . . .), and if the two players had bounced apart with no harm, once again the whistle might have remained quiet. But, if the effect is substantial enough (flattening the red player), it doesn’t take much of a time difference (between playing the ball and subsequent collision) for the ref to decide to call a foul–it may have been an accident, but it was also careless, reckless, or worse. Once again, the effect of the action seems most important.

I am not arguing that we would never call something an accident–clearly accidental (and incidental) contact happens often enough, and if the effect on the game is insignificant, we don’t whistle it. Similarly, we may observe one player target another player rather than the ball and take that into consideration.

My main point, however, is that where the stakes are large and every tactic is used to the maximum degree, I would think “accident” would not frequently excuse perpetrators from their (foul) deeds–the action itself and its effect would be the primary considerations. The accident vs. deliberate judgement would supplement these only in if there was pretty clear evidence to work with. And as always, the ref must consider all factors in the context of player and match management, with the overarching goals of safety, equality, and enjoyment.

But, I may well be wrong–looking forward to your help!

USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
Sorry, but we do not run through laundry lists to answer questions.

There is only a slight difference between accidental and careless — and the difference is illustrated in the example you cite. We judge the result of the contact, not the intent — and “intent” here means did the player _intend_ to hit that particular part of the person, not did the player do the act deliberately. Of course most fouls are “deliberate.”

Please follow the yellow brick road through the definitions and philosophy below. There you will find the Magnificent Wizard of Oz, who will reveal all — without having the curtain “out” him.

Whatever we referees do on the field should NOT be affected one way or the other by the significance of the game or the “profound effect” of the action. Bad luck is bad luck, regardless of how bad the luck is, and we mustn’t punish bad luck no matter how profound its effect. What CAN be said is that it takes more courage NOT to convert bad luck into a foul when the luck is really bad. This can be illustrated by the tendency of many referees to decide to call something a foul because it produced, for example, a broken leg when they wouldn’t have called it a foul if it produced merely a sprain.

Players seldom enter the field with the intent of illegally tripping someone, but if they do so as a result of a deliberate act which is judged to be careless, reckless, or involving excessive force, then they should be punished.

Intentional and deliberate are different. “Intent” focuses on the end result of an action, whereas “deliberate” is a consideration in connection with the action itself. If I wave a loaded gun about and twirl it around my finger, I should be punished if the gun discharges, even though my immediate response would be that this was not my “intent.” And if the discharge results in someone’s death, we could likely agree that I did not intend to kill this person. But my action was deliberate and careless — indeed, reckless. If, on the other hand, while walking down the street I was suddenly startled by a gun tossed in my direction and, as it fumbled in my hands, it discharged, I was neither careless nor reckless and my action was certainly neither intentional nor deliberate. It was an accident, and remains an accident even if the discharge kills a bystander (clearly a profound effect).

On the soccer field, the referee has a broad spectrum of events and possibilities to consider. It starts at one end with the player with fire in his eyes who pursues an opponent and performs a prohibited act against him. This is certainly an example of someone whose intent was clear in addition to his action being deliberate. At the other end, we have the player who trips, falls, and in falling makes inadvertent contact with an opponent who is thereby adversely affected in some way (he himself falls, he misses a shot on goal, etc.) — no intent, no deliberate act, nothing careless or reckless. In between these extremes is where we earn our money.

As we have stated consistently, the referee must take into account the skill and experience of the player(s). An action at a lower level of skill is more likely to be accidental or, at worst, careless than the same action (regardless of effect) at a higher level of skill. As is often noted, little happens unintentionally at the highest skill levels.


RESTARTS KICKED INTO OWN GOAL [LAW 13]
Your question:
Direct or indirect free kick by the defending team kicked in your own goal in the penalty area, what is the restart? Also if indirect freekick is passed to your goalkeeper in the penalty area and he touches the ball with his feet but it goes into the goal what is the restart?

USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
For kicks that go directly into the kicker’s own goal, much depends on where the kick was taken. You will find the answers in Law 13. If the kick, direct or indirect, was taken inside the team’s own penalty area and was kicked directly into the team’s own goal, the restart is a retake of the original kick. The ball must leave the penalty area into the field of play to be in play. If the kick, direct or indirect, was taken outside the team’s own penalty area and was kicked directly into the team’s own goal, the restart is a corner kick.

For the indirect free kick that is touched by the goalkeeper and then goes into goal, the original kick is retaken if the kick was taken inside the penalty area, as the ball is not in play until it leaves the penalty area. If the kick was taken outside the penalty area, the goal must be scored.


PUNISHING MISCONDUCT AFTER APPLICATION OF ADVANTAGE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
A local league has had difficulty furnishing assignors for over a year. Under the emergency clause they handled the Fall of 2002 and the Spring of 2003 before obtaining the services of a licensed assignor who took the assignor course in August in order to become the league’s official assignor for this Fall’s games. However this assignor utilizes a number of club representatives who actually recruit and obtain referees for USSF sanctioned youth competitions as his agents. He is not involved in the actual process of assigning referees to games but will call or email a confirmation upon request. My question is will USSF licensed referees who take games from these agents be covered by USSF liability insurance should it become required? Does the emailed or telephoned confirmation from the licensed assignor make any difference to the same question? Does the fact that these agents report back their “assignment” of referees to games to the licensed assignor make any difference in the USSF liability coverage and your answer? Under exactly what conditions should referees take games under such circumstances? Thanks in advance.

USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
As long as the referees are affiliated with USSF and the teams are affiliated with USSF, there should be no problem with insurance coverage.

However, the other assignors may have a problem if they are not registered. If the registered assignor actually makes the assignment, but just has other people call the referees to give them the assignments or to confirm, then we believe that would probably be ok. Of course, anyone can assign the purely recreational games, so if the registered assignor made the assignments for the competitive teams, the others could do the recreational teams.


PUNISHING MISCONDUCT AFTER APPLICATION OF ADVANTAGE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
I was the referee in a fairly hotly contested U19 Boys match recently. A reckless tackle occurred by team A near the center circle, but team B’s midfielder was not dispossessed of the ball.  Since it looked like a good scoring opportunity may be developing, I shouted “advantage play on”, gave the advantage signal and allowed play to continue. I made a mental note to caution the team A player that committed the foul at the next stoppage of play.  Team B was not able to score and play continued for a full seven minutes before a natural stoppage of play occurred. By that time all players involved had forgotten the circumstances of the original foul and I ended up not cautioning the team A player. Should I have stopped play to administer the foul after a reasonable length of time had passed without a natural stoppage? Should I have cautioned team A’s player anyway after seven minutes had elapsed and taken the time to explain to him why he was being cautioned. I didn’t do that because I felt that it would have taken too long to explain to everyone why I was cautioning the player and it would have been counterproductive to the natural flow of the game. I did verbally warn the player to watch his tackles in the future. What was/is the correct procedure?

USSF answer (October 15, 2003):
There is no time limit on punishing misconduct if the game has not been stopped after the application of advantage. The referee should simply point to the place where the original foul and misconduct occurred and then caution the player for unsporting behavior and show the yellow card.

However, the referee should have made an effort to tell the player some time early during the 7-minute stretch that he will be cautioned during the next stoppage and to say it loud enough that a few others hear it too. Of course, the referee must then follow through as promised, but this way it will not come as a surprise to the player in question.


PLEASE! DELIBERATE HANDLING MUST BE DELIBERATE!!! [LAW 1]
Your question:
Team A had posession of the ball, no one was off sides. Team B’s goalie tried to come out for the ball and was not able to gain posession of it. Meanwhile team A kept posession of the ball and kicked the ball towards the goal. A defender on team B had her hands above her head, and her hands kept the ball from entering the goal. The referee ruled that it was unintentional and gave team A a penalty kick in front of the goal. The referee also showed the defender whose hands had touched the ball a yellow card. Should that have been a goal as the defender’s hands prevented the ball from crossing into the goal, or should it just have been a penalty kick. Also should it be a yellow or a red card. The coach from Team A talked to the referee at halftime, and the referee said it was unintentional.

USSF answer (October 15, 2003):
This situation is so full of referee and spectator/coach errors as to be almost unbelievable — but we do believe it.

If the defender’s act was “unintentional,” then there should have been no call at all, and certainly not a penalty kick. The word “intentional” does not exist in the Laws of the Game, which actually refer to “deliberate” handling by a player. The key to understanding the act is to distinguish between what seems natural and what is contrived. If the player could not move her hand quickly enough to escape the contact between ball and hand (fingertip to shoulder), then there was likely no foul. However, if she left her hand there when it could have been moved, there may well have been a foul.

The referee cannot award a goal if the ball does not cross the goal line between the goal posts and beneath the crossbar. If the referee believed the defender’s act to be a foul, then a penalty kick is the only possible restart.

If, by deliberately handling the ball, the defender denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity, she should be sent off and shown the red card, not cautioned and shown the yellow card.


GOALKEEPER PROTECTION [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
We recently had a referee meeting where the following scenario came up. Team A is attacking in the penalty area. An attacker for A lofts the ball which as it falls is on a trajectory to land outside the goal mouth. The keeper steps to a position where the ball will land, raises his arms, and awaits the ball. With the ball within a yard of reaching his hands, an attacker legal shoulder charges him, pushing him a foot or two from his position, then cleanly flicks the ball into the back of the net with his head. Was this challenge legal?

In the referee meeting, it was hard to dispute that this was legal yet most officials felt they would call a foul (Spirit of the Game?).

USSF answer (October 15, 2003):
While the goalkeeper no longer has the former protection granted him in the goal area, he is still protected from illegal charges. This one is hard to answer, as it sounds as if it were a “youhaddabethere” incident. It might have been legal or illegal. Under any circumstances, it would require a lot of courage for the referee to call a legal charge in this case.


KICKING OR ATTEMPTING TO KICK THE GOALKEEPER [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
If a ball is inches from a keeper’s hands and face and an attacker takes a full kick (using maximum force, “knowing” it would likely harm his opponent), hitting the ball first, can there be a misconduct or foul (which one)? Does it matter if the foot naturally follows through and kicks the keeper (after hitting the ball), or the ball does the damage?  My assumption is most would agree that this type of play by the attacker would be likely to harm the keeper – but foul or misconduct?

USSF answer (October 14, 2003):
The referee is required to punish the result of the _act_ of kicking, not the “intent.” In fact, the word “intent” is no longer in the Laws of the Game. If the player kicks or attempt to kick the ball into the goalkeeper’s face and, despite the fact that we do not punish “intent,” the referee believes there was malice aforethought, the player should be sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card. The same for kicking the ‘keeper in the face. Direct free kick, send-off and red card for serious foul play.


COACH ABUSE OF PLAYERS [LAW 5]
Your question:
Was recently working a U14B premier division game as a center during a tournament. During warmups before the game started, it was apparent that one of the coaches continually yelled at and berated his own players almost constantly. At no time were this coach’s comments ever directed at me, my assistants, or the opponents. As a result I took no action against him. I must admit that it bothered me greatly that this coach felt obligated to abuse his own players almost non-stop.

In hindsight, could I have taken action under Law 5 and cited the irresponsible behavior of this coach for conduct bringing disrepect on the game?

USSF answer (October 13, 2003):
A very interesting question. There is a national trend within the soccer community toward eliminating abuse of young people by any adults. You, as referee, are certainly empowered to ensure responsible behavior by the team officials. The method you choose would be up to you. One method might involve a quiet word with the coach.

In all events you should prepare a supplemental game report or letter to the league on the matter. You might also suggest in the report or letter that they send someone to monitor a couple of games. The letter could be written in such a way that says perhaps the coach was having a bad day, but it should suggest that it might be beneficial to the children involved if someone from the league dropped in for a game or two just to make sure.


WRONG-SIZED BALL [LAW 2; LAW 18]
Your question:
A match is started with a ball provided by the home team that is the incorrect size for the age group playing, i.e. size 5 vs 4. A goal is scored within the first 5-6 minutes of play by the home team. Prior to the restart, an opposing team coach notices that the ball is too large & brings it to the CR’s attention. The CR agrees & requires that the proper size 4 ball be provided. The coach asks that the goal be nullified and the referee refuses. Was this the correct call?

USSF answer (October 7, 2003):
The goal should be allowed. Although the equipment (ball) was of the incorrect size, both teams had an equal “handicap” in playing it.


WHEN IS VISIBILITY TOO POOR TO PLAY? [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
When is the game called because of poor visibility? Is this strictly a judgement call by the referee? I have heard that you had to be able to see the opposing goal when standing on the opposite goal line. What is the rule?

USSF answer (October 6, 2003):
Didn’t you know that all referees, once they pass the test, automatically become Superman clones? They can see through anything, so there is no problem with fog or smoke or players’ bodies, etc.

Seriously, there is nothing on the books. It is all in the opinion of the referee, based on the need to protect the safety of the players. One rule of thumb that is fairly reliable is this: If the referee, standing near midfield, can’t see either goal, it is probably time to call the game.


REFEREES AND HEARING [LAW 18]
Your question:
I’ve been doing a lot of games this fall. After doing a few games in a row, I’ve noticed that my ears are ringing from the whistle. In looking around the internet, I found several postings on hearing related issues and hearing protection for referees. The recommendation of several sites, mostly volleyball related, was for the officials to wear ear plugs if they do more than a few games a week.

The University of Maryland Center for Environment Science, Horn Point Laboratory, lists decibel levels of common sounds, including referee whistles –
http://www.hpl.umces.edu/safety/Hearing/Hearingntro.htm#Sound%20is%20all%20around%20us.

I love officiating, but I don’t want to be hearing impaired from it. Is there anything already published on this topic that I can review? What’s the USSF position on hearing protection (ear plugs) for officials? Any recommendations on how to reduce the hearing impact of officiating (using it only as needed to control the game), but still being able to use the whistle as an effective officiating tool? Any recommendations on whistle types that have a lower hearing impact but still get the message across?

USSF answer (October 6, 2003):
We must admit that the matter of hearing problems in referees has never come up before. We are not familiar with any literature on the topic, nor with any research on the matter.

The U. S. Soccer Federation does not take a position on the matter of referees wearing hearing protection (ear plugs), as long as it does not affect the referee’s professional appearance, nor can the Federation make any recommendations on types of whistles or how to reduce the impact of whistles on hearing.

We are, of course, concerned about the health of referees, but the questions you submit are outside our area of competence. However, if the truth were to be known, we wish more referees would close their ears a bit and get on with refereeing.


AR INDICATION FOR INDIRECT FREE KICK? [LAW 1]
Your question:
The AR puts the flag up to indicate a foul in his/her quadrant. The center ref makes eye contact, the AR wiggles the flag to indicate a foul and points in the direction of the free kick. How does the AR indicate whether it’s an INDIRECT free kick?

USSF answer (October 6, 2003):
The process is outlined in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials” on pages 11 and 12.

After stopping play for the foul, the referee “confers with assistant referee, if necessary, to confirm the nature of the infringement (keeps field in view while moving to touch line and while conferring).”

There is no “official” signal to indicate an indirect free kick. The referee should be intelligent enough to figure out the foul for himself. If not, then the referee and the assistant referees should agree on a special signal during the pregame discussion.


WHAT IS “BLATANT HOLDING” [LAW 12]
Your question:
Can you further illuminate what FIFA is looking for with the concern expressed about blatant holding? A number of questions have come up locally about this topic, and it would be nice to have a few resources to point out.

Holding and Pulling
The International FA Board has expressed its concern at the amount of holding and pulling which is prevalent in football today. It recognised that not every instance of holding and pulling of jerseys and shorts is unsporting behaviour, as is also the case with deliberate handball. It expressed regret, however, that Referees were not applying the Laws fully in dealing with blatant cases of holding and pulling and issued the following Mandatory Instruction for season 2001/2002:

“Referees are instructed that, in the case of blatant holding and pulling, the offence must be sanctioned by a direct free kick, or a penalty kick if the offence is committed inside the penalty area, and the player must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour.”

Some guidelines on what to look for to label a holding foul as blatant, and thus requiring a caution, would be most appreciated. My dictionary defines it as “offensively conspicuous, obtrusive (undesirably noticeable, unattractively showy), obvious.”

Most holding is obvious, or obviously we wouldn’t call it, right? So, it must involve something that elevates it above a simple foul. Since holding is one of those fouls which must just happen, no careless, reckless or violence judgment required, how does a referee decide it is now blatant, as opposed to “just” holding?

USSF answer (October 6, 2003):
Perhaps it is easier to ask the referee (and the players) to consider the difference between deliberately handling a ball or pushing or holding an opponent, simple fouls that anyone can recognize, and the blatant (hyper-obvious) handling or pushing or holding which truly violate the Spirit of the Game and must be punished with a caution and yellow card. But it is sometimes difficult to translate the concept into words. Location of foul and level of play are other important considerations, but there is no checklist for the referee to follow, as in the case of the denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

According to Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, Unabridged, blatant means “offensively obtrusive; demanding undue or involuntary attention, as by vulgar ostentation or by tasteless or inconsiderate conduct; coarse.” Thus “blatant” can be said to mean “beyond obvious and approaching Fourth of July fireworks.” An obvious act is not necessarily blatant; it is simply obvious to the observer. The blatant act calls particular attention to itself and thus qualifies as well beyond merely obvious. It has nothing to do with force per se, but with the way in which it goes so far outside the necessary.


BLOWING THE WHISTLE TOO QUICKLY [LAW 10; LAW 18]
Your question:
The following happened to me last weekend at a youth tournament. The attacking team takes a shot on goal and an obvious handball by the defending team in the PA ensues. Instinctively I blow my whistle for a PK. However, by the time the whistle sounds, the ball is already in the goal. I pointed to the center mark and let the goal stand. No one complained. In fact, no one even noticed, presumably because many referees (I am not one of them) blow their whistle upon a goal being scored. My question: did I act correctly under the circumstance or should I have “enforced” my own initial decision (PK), keeping in mind the rule that the game stops when the referee intends to blow the whistle, not when it actually sounds. On the other hand, could one argue that enforcing my decision would only have compounded my earlier mistake of too quick a whistle (instead of letting advantage develop)? Should the fact that no one noticed my mistake have affected my decision to count the goal from a “common sense” perspective (i.e., let sleeping dogs lie)?

USSF answer (October 5, 2003):
The referee’s power to display a red card and send off a player who should have been sent off is indisputable. In this case ATR 5.14 would apply (see below) and the red card may be shown and the player sent from the field even if play has been (incorrectly) restarted.

QUOTE
5.14 CHANGING A DECISION ON AN INCORRECT RESTART
If the referee awards a restart for the wrong team and realizes his mistake before the restart is taken, then the restart may be corrected even though the decision was announced after the restart took place. This is based on the established principle that the referee¹s initial decision takes precedence over subsequent action. The visual and verbal announcement of the decision after the restart has already occurred is well within the Spirit of the Law, provided the decision was made before the restart took place.
END OF QUOTE

Referees must remember that play is stopped when the referee makes a decision, not when the decision is announced, and the referee can call back ANY restart if he/she has already decided to hold up the restart in order to give a red card. The referee must include full details in the match report. (Next time you might want to remember that if you have blown the whistle prior to the ball entering the goal, then there has been no goal.)


PLAYING SHORT AFTER A SEND-OFF IN HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER [LAW 12]
Your question:
At the high school level, if a player receives a red card, they are removed from the field and out of the game, can they be replaced on the field? or does the team have to play man down the rest of the game? If a team receives two red card on the same call are both players removed and the team must play two men down?

USSF answer (October 2, 2003):
National Federation (high school) rules are the same as for FIFA on this subject (with a couple of exceptions). The basic answer is, yes, the team must play down for each red card received by a player. The two major exceptions are, first, playing down is not required in high school if the red card is received during the halftime break and, second, playing down is not required in high school if the reason for the red card falls into a category commonly referred to as “soft red” offenses (Rule 12-8-2) — taunting, excessive celebration of a goal, or having received two cautions.

Please note that this site can only offer personal and unofficial guidance on matters which do not come under The Laws of the Game. For authoritative answers to questions about National Federation rules, you should address your query to your state interpreter.


DOES THE REFEREE’S CALL AFFECT THE GAME? [LAW 1]
Your question:
I’ve always heard that a ref’s decisions should take into account whether it will affect the final outcome of the game, but I cannot find any reference to this anywhere except for a brief mention in the instruction materials, of avoiding undue interference – is there any specific instruction about this topic? I can’t find anything in the LOTG or position papers, so I’m wondering if this is just extemporaneous on the part of those who’ve expounded this philosophy?

USSF answer (September 30, 2003):
You will find as you go through life those who pay no attention to the rules of the game they are engaged in, whether as players and referees, colleagues in the office, boss and employee, or members of the same family. These people make up their own rules to suit their current need. As you have learned in your research, there is no such requirement in the Laws of the Game, in the position papers from the U. S. Soccer Federation, or in anything published by FIFA. Why would that be?

Every call the referee makes affects the final outcome of the game. Everything the players do affects the final outcome of the game. The weather and the condition of the field affect the final outcome of the game. We are human beings, subject to human whims and failings. We make mistakes — even coaches make mistakes, but you will not get them to admit it.

The referee should call the game in accordance with the Laws of the Game and the players should play it the same way. If a player infringes upon the Law, then he or she — and therefore the team — must be punished. Lex dura sed lex — the law is hard but it is the law. Everything that happens from kick-off to the last whistle affects the final outcome of the game.

Don’t let the “philosophers” ruin your game.


‘KEEPERS AND FIELD MARKINGS [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
There is a debate about the keeper handling and the correct restart. If the keeper, while in possession of the ball, crosses over the penalty area line and takes the ball with him/her in order to punt the ball away. What is the correct restart if the official signals for handling?

USSF answer (September 29, 2003):
The correct answer, if the referee believes the act to be a foul, is to restart with a direct free kick. In most cases, the intelligent referee will take a moment and warn the goalkeeper on the first occurrence. Then, if it happens again, the referee will apply the Law as written.

It would be well to reference an answer given here back in April: The referee need consider only this: Was there an offense? Could it have been called? Should it be called if, in the opinion of the referee, the infraction was doubtful or trifling? No.

The intelligent referee’s action: If the goalkeeper’s actions had no obvious effect on play and were accepted by both teams, consider the infringement to have been trifling and let it go. If it was not trifling, punish it.

Trifling is trifling when the result of the action makes absolutely no difference to the game. Or, in other words, when the result is to get the ball back into play, the Law has been served and what comes after that is just part of the game.

Doubtful means it probably wasn’t a foul at all, but people reacted and started asking for the doubtful “foul” to be called.

The “severity” of the infringement is not the issue; the issue is what effect did it have. The intelligent referee’s action: If the infringement had no obvious effect on play, consider the infringement to have been trifling and let it go. If it was not trifling, punish it.


CHANGING SHIRTS AND NUMBERS [LAW 3; LAW 18]
Your question:
I know the sanctions in Law 12 regarding a player and goalkeeper changing places without notifiying the referee, and have read your explanation. However, a question came up today that I was unable to find the answer to. What if two players change uniforms, either during the game or at halftime, without informing the referee?

Is this a breach of the Laws, if so which one? What course of action should the referee take (if any) if this unannounced switch is made?

USSF answer (September 29, 2003):
While player numbers are not required by the Laws of the Game, they are required by most competitions in which players participate. Numbers are meant to provide an identifying symbol so that referees and administrators know which player is which. Obviously, they are also used by opposing players to identify which opponent is the one to mark more closely. Because the numbers are supposed to be confined to the player to whom they were originally issued, changing uniforms at halftime or during the game is considered to constitute that form of misconduct known as “bringing the game into disrepute.” Players who do this should be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. (But please check the local rules of competition to be safe. In the absence of such a rule, neither opponents nor the referee should count on a number attaching irrevocably to a player. Indeed, they could just as easily have no numbers at all!)

2003 Part 3

FIELD MARKINGS [LAW 1]
Your question:
We had a conversation between a few referees come up in regards to markings on the field. It was my opinion that in order for the game to be played there must be field markings including; goal lines, touch lines, 18yrd box, mid field, 6yrd box ect, in order for a game to be played. There was another opinion saying that the game would still be played even if there were no field markings and that devices such as cones could be used to line the field in the absence of painted lines.

Please help clarify this. I have looked in Advice for the Referees and I have found nothing to support playing the game without field markings.

USSF answer (September 26, 2003):
While unmarked fields may be acceptable for scrimmages or practice games, they are not acceptable for competitive soccer.


REFEREE AUTHORITY AND COMMON SENSE [LAW 5; LAW 7; LAW 18]
Your question:
I have a question about FIFA’s view of referee authority/discretion…

In a recent high school game, the field temperature at game time was very hot. High humidity added to the concern for player well-being. At game time, an on-the-field thermometer read 98 degrees (F). “Weather.Com” information suggested that game temperature would be over 90 degrees and would “Feel Like” 102 degrees (becase of the humidity). In summary, it was hot and uncomfortable. Both teams’ coaches approached the three-official refereeing team to ask whether a 5 minute “hydration break” could be inserted in the middle of each half to allow the players to take in fluids. The referees responded that “they did not have the authority” to split the game into what would essentially be “four quarters”. There might be rules in place by the local high school athletic association that denies the referee to make modification such as the one suggested. That is undetermined at this time.

My question, however, is this: Are there any FIFA rules or opinions that would prohibit the referees from exerting their game authority in such a way that they would not be allowed to implement a game stoppage if they felt it was appropriate?

USSF answer (September 26, 2003):
The referee has no direct authority to vary the rules of the competition or to stop the game for unspecified reasons. However, 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 following answer may be summed up in two words: common sense.

In this situation, 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 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.


REFEREE AUTHORITY [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
If a parent on the opposite sideline from the coaches, keeps bugging the Ref – bad call, call some our way, are you Blind. Or, they tell their team’s kid to take him out, or go trip him, or push him back. What am I — the Grade 8 Linesman on that side of the field, or in a SAY game, the one Ref on that half of the field — to do ? Stop Play & walk over to the coach or coaches – point out the Fan, and issue the Card to that coach & then tell them to go quite that person down or else I’ll be back to Red card you (coach) ?

Does that sound correct – (Zero Tolerance) ?

USSF answer (September 26, 2003):
One of the first things the intelligent referee learns is that spectators generally know very little about the Laws of the Game, but they are willing to tell the referee how to call the game and how all the Laws should be interpreted. What is a referee or assistant referee (AR) to do?

The referee’s authority begins when he arrives at the area of the field of play and continues until he has left the area of the field after the game has been completed. The referee’s authority extends to time when the ball is not in play, to temporary suspensions, to the half-time break, and to additional periods of play or kicks from the penalty mark required by the rules of the competition. While the referee has no direct authority over spectators, there are things that can be done. The authority of the referee over persons other than players and team officials is limited by the Law, because the Law assumes that the game is played in a facility with security staff in attendance. Those referees whose matches are watched by parents, etc., right at the touch lines, need to understand that they are not totally at the mercy of the spectators and other non-playing or coaching personnel.

In most cases, the referee should work actively to tune out comments by the spectators, particularly at youth matches, most of whom know little about the game, but who want to “protect” their children. Why should the referee tune them out? Because the referee can do nothing about comments that do not bring the game into disrepute. If the referee fails to “tune out” the spectators, they will take over (psychological) control of the game and the referee is lost.

Note: We must emphasize that the intelligent referee who is able to “tune out” spectator comments and gibes is acting for himself — and properly so — but MUST act more aggressively and proactively when such spectator behavior is directed at assistant referees, particularly youth ARs. That’s how we lose them. The referee must have ZERO tolerance for abuse aimed at the ARs and should instruct them in the pregame to bring it to the referee’s attention the moment it even begins to approach the high end of their ability to handle it on their own.

If this does not work, the next thing to do is to use the proper chain of communication. The referee at the amateur level will ask the captain of the team whose supporter is making trouble to deal with the matter. At the youth level, it is often better to go outside the chain and speak directly to the coach of the team, as youngsters are usually reluctant to become mixed up in adult problems.

If the referee decides that the activity by the spectator constitutes “grave disorder” (which could be defined to include anything which adversely affects the referee’s control of the game and/or undermines his authority), the referee can suspend the match while others handle the problem. (These “others” would be team officials or competition authorities who are at the field.) The referee can also terminate the match if appropriate action (e. g., the person is forced by someone to leave the area of the field) is not taken. In all cases, the referee must include full details in the match report.


PROBLEMS WITH REFEREES [ADMINISTRATIVE MATTER; LAW 18]
Your question:
Can a complaint be filed with ussoccer against a referee that demonstrated bias towards one team during a U-16 game in the [deleted] league? I know this is very subjective but I am very upset that Ref. consistently had what I call a quick whistle against one(visiting team) team and a slow (one onethousand, two onethousand) and at least three instances put the whistle in his mouth but no call made against the other team. Fouls were liberally called against the visiting team(including two red cards)one team meanwhile the other team played with their elbows up and took dives to stall for time without calls being made. After the game the refs approached the visiting bench and ordered the players who had been red carded to shake hands with the other team. I thought I was witnessing prison guards and not Referees. I find bias towards one team at this level totally unacceptable and feel the Ref should be disciplined. The coaches of the team are appealing the red cards and have written a “scathing” referee report to the local league. I think more should be done. Please advise me of my options.

USSF answer (September 24, 2003):
Any problems with referees must be reported to the State Referee Administrator, the State Youth Referee Administrator, or the State Referee Copmmittee.


“ACCIDENTAL” FOUL [LAW 12]
Your question:
The following situation occurred in a youth game where I was not in attendance. A parent, knowing I was a referee asked me what the correct decision should have been. Here is the situation.

Player for Team A takes a shot on goal from approximately 10 yards. Shoe of Player A proceeds to the goal along with the ball. The shoe strikes the goalie for Team B in the forehead causing him to not play the ball. The ball goes into the net.

I felt the referee had one of three possible responses:
1.) Let the goal stand. No infringement of the laws, but obviously unfair to Team B’s goalie.
2.) Consider the appearance of a show flying toward the goalie as an outside interference per Law 5 allowing the referee to stop, suspend or terminate the match because of outside interference of any kind as soon as the shoe left Player A’s foot. The restart being a drop ball at the point where Player A took the shot.
3.) Consider the flying shoe to constructively put Player A in a position of playing in a dangerous manner and award an indirect kick to Team B at the point where Player A took the shot.

I was told the referee chose option 1. My personal choice with the advantage of hindsight is option 3. Please let me know your opinion and/or official USSF response.

USSF answer (September 23, 2003):
The correct answer is none of the above.

As defined in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” (ATR) and clear from the perspective of the Spirit of the Game, a foul is an unfair or unsafe action committed by a player against an opponent or the opposing team, on the field of play, while the ball is in play. (ATR 12.1) Although the loss of the shoe was inadvertent and accidental, it was also careless. A careless act of striking toward an opponent is punishable by a direct free kick for the opponent’s team, taken from the spot where the object (or fist) hit (or would have hit) its target (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).

Although the shooter wanted to play the ball when he kicked it and did not hit the goalkeeper with his shoe deliberately, he has still committed a foul. Direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team from the place where the shoe struck the goalkeeper (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).


PLAYING WITH FEWER THAN THE ALLOWED NUMBER OF PLAYERS [LAW 3; LAW 18]
Your question:
Over the past few years, I have worked a number of U10 and U12 games that turned into whitewashes with scores of 10 to 0 and 12 to 0 or more. Typically the coach of the winning team will restrict his players from taking shots towards the end of the game, require a certain number of passes before a shot can be taken or allow only certain players to take shots on goal in an effort to keep the score down. However, these tactics usually come way too late in the game and don’t really work. Once my 3-1/2 year old is old enough to begin playing soccer and I enter the coaching ranks again, I believe that I would like to try a different approach to curb scoring in a lopsided victory. If my team is on its way to an obvious run away win, I will begin to remove players from the field. Perhaps my team will have only 8 or 9 players on the field when the game ends, however, I believe it would be a much better game for all involved especially at U10 and U12. My question is about removing these players from the field. Once a team starts the game with 11 players what is the correct procedure for reducing player strength to 10 or fewer players. During a stoppage in play, do I simply call for a substitution and have a player leave the field with no substitute entering the field of play. What would be the correct procedure?

USSF answer (September 23, 2003):
Law 3 requires only that a team not have more than 11 and no less than 7 players on the field at any time during a game — or whatever numbers are set by the rules of the competition in which the teams are playing. There is no requirement in the Law that a team must have the full number of players on the field at any one time. A player must simply ask the referee’s permission to leave the field if the coach wants to reduce the number of players on the field. This can occur at a stoppage or during play.


CALLING FOULS [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Team A moves the ball down the field and into the penalty area of Team B. There are 3 or 4 of Team A¹s players in the box as well. A bit of jostling goes on near the 6-yard box, but keeper comes out and picks up the ball. As both teams¹ players are moving out of the penalty area, a player from Team B throws an elbow at a Team A player. This happens a step or two inside the box, but as the players are moving away from the keeper and toward the middle of the field. These are U-18 players, FYI. How would you suggest it be handled?

The referee at the time whistled a foul, carded the Team B player, and awarded a penalty kick. Proper? Would you have done that? Looking for an answer that is not just right, but correct and wise.

USSF answer (September 21, 2003):
If the referee determines that a player has committed a direct-free-kick foul within his team’s penalty area, the only possible course of action is to award a penalty kick to the opposing team. Any misconduct involved will also have to be punished.


URBAN MYTHS IN REFEREEING [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before … it’s been all over the internet lately.

A player commits a technical offense in his own penalty area. The referee stops play for the offense, then mistakenly awards a penalty kick instead of an indirect free kick. The ball is kicked directly into the goal. Prior to the kickoff, the AR finally gets the referee’s attention and tells him that it should have been an IFK. Can the referee go back, take away the goal, and restart with the correct IFK? Is an incorrect restart actually a restart?

I know the referee only has until the next restart to change his mind. But which restart is that? The incorrectly awarded PK? Or the next restart after that mistake, the kickoff?

USSF answer (September 20, 2003):
Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Most of it is urban myths — except what you read here.

The USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” tells us:
“5.14 CHANGING A DECISION ON AN INCORRECT RESTART
“If the referee awards a restart for the wrong team and realizes his mistake before the restart is taken, then the restart may be corrected even though the decision was announced after the restart took place. This is based on the established principle that the referee¹s initial decision takes precedence over subsequent action. The visual and verbal announcement of the decision after the restart has already occurred is well within the Spirit of the Law, provided the decision was made before the restart took place.”

Everything depends on the state of the referee’s mind (aside from confusion and inadequate training). If the referee stopped play for what in his mind was a direct free kick offense by the defenders inside their penalty area, then the penalty kick was the correct restart for that state of mind and, once it occurred, was a proper restart and all subsequent play has to be counted (including a goal). Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa in the game report if he then has to change his mind based on evidence/argument from his fellow officials after some later discussion.

If the referee stopped play for an indirect free kick offense (which he recognized as an indirect free kick offense) but got the restart wrong, calling incorrectly for a penalty kick instead of an indirect free kick, then the restart was a mistake which could be corrected anytime up to the kick and even afterward if discovered “quickly” (don’t tie us down to a particular length of time), and any goal scored would be cancelled because it would have been the result of an improper restart. Mea (but not maxima) culpa in the game report. This would be equivalent to the referee knowing that the ball left the field across the touch line but stating that the restart would be a free kick and then correcting himself even if a player had picked up the ball and thrown it onto the field.

Doesn’t seem fair? Too bad, but the referee will have to live with his mistake. Which brings us to communication between the referee and the assistant referee (AR).

Why did the AR take so long to get the referee’s attention? Referee and AR are supposed to exchange information at every possible opportunity, particularly at stoppages, to ensure that things are going correctly. The AR had plenty of time to get the information to the referee, even if it meant coming into the field to pass that information. There is NO EXCUSE! for slipshod communication.


PLAYING TIME — GET IT RIGHT! [LAW 7; LAW 18]
Your question:
I posed this question to four of the referees in our local association and got three different answers (and one abstention). I hope you can get us all on the same page.

30 minutes into the first half of an Under 16 girls game, the referee made a routine tripping call against White, about 25 yards away from White’s goal. On the play, the Blue forward was injured. It looked serious at first, but was not. The stoppage lasted at least 15 minutes however, because paramedics were called and had to take her off for stitches.

Before the restart (a direct free-kick for Blue), the referee blew his whistle twice and signaled for half-time. In other words, he did not add any time for the injury. The half-time interval was the normal 15 minutes.

When the teams returned, he had them assume the same sides of the field they occupied during the first half, and started play with Blue’s direct free kick. He allowed play to continue for a minute or two, then again blew his whistle twice. He had the players switch sides immediately, and restarted with a kick off.

He ended the second half after about 32 minutes – the same amount of actual playing time that had elapsed in the first half. (Our under 16s normally play two 40-minute halves.) It was a normal league game, with no need to end by a certain time as can happen in some tournaments.

It was a strange sequence. I think it was a mistake to shorten the second half, but otherwise I don’t see any violations of the laws. Added time is at his discretion, so it appears OK to end the first half when he did. If he decides that was too short a time, he can rectify his “mistake” before the next restart, so to call the players out to finish the first half seems legit. Did he get anything wrong?

USSF answer (September 19, 2003):
Law 7 requires two equal halves. Once the paramedics had removed the injured player from the field, the referee should have restarted the game with the direct free kick for the tripping infringement. The time allotted for the remainder of the half should have been the amount necessary to complete the first half of (insert appropriate number) minutes. The referee should then have taken the normal half-time break and played the second half of (insert appropriate number) minutes.

By doing as he did, the referee set aside the requirement in Law 7 for two periods of equal length. This is a matter of fact, not referee judgment. The 15-minute halftime break taken before the resumption of any play was entirely out of line, particularly as the game had been delayed for 15 minutes by the injury.

Full details of how to deal with such a situation are found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
7.3 MISTAKEN ENDING
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 the referee discovers that a period of play was ended prematurely but a subsequent period of play has started, the match must be abandoned and the full details of the error included in the game report.


DEALING WITH MISCONDUCT ON AN ADVANTAGE SITUATION [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Defender #6 commits a misconduct for which the referee has decided to send him off (direct red or second yellow). However, a really good advantage exists for the attacking team and the referee expects no retaliation. If the referee applies the advantage and does nothing else, this is what will happen. The attacking team will realize their advantage, but will misplay the ball and not score. The ball will remain in play and an undesirable event will occur — Defender #6 will eventually either score a goal or commit further misconduct.

Within LOTG the referee could (1) stop play immediately and not allow advantage, (2) deal with misconduct after the ball is out of play, or (3) stop play somewhere in between those times solely for the purpose of sending off Defender #6. My question: If the referee opts for (3), when is the best/fairest time to stop play? Would it be immediately after the attacking team misplays the ball and does not score? Or some other time such as when the referee “feels like it?”

USSF answer (September 17, 2003):
Any of the alternatives could be correct, depending on the game situation. The same is true for the timing if option 3 is used — it will have to depend on how the referee reads the game at that time.


SUPPORTING OTHER PLAYERS? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I was at a match the other day, boys 16. On a direct free kick the defending team formed a wall 10 yards from where the ball was placed for the taking of the kick. The boys at this age all very in size and in the wall one of the average sized defenders hosted up on his shoulders one of the smallest player.

Is this not allowed? And, if not allowed, which law is it to apply and when do you apply the law?

USSF answer (September 17, 2003):
Players are not allowed to use other players or any of the field appurtenances (goal or flags) to support themselves. To do so is to bring the game into disrepute, for which the punishment is a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior. If the ball is in play, the correct restart is an indirect free kick from the place where the misconduct occurred, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8 regarding free kicks in the goal area.

If possible, the intelligent referee will take preventive steps in such a situation and, if the misconduct is cautioned before the free kick is taken, will also stay with the original restart (based on the principle that “nothing that happens when the ball is not in play changes the restart”).


WHAT TO DO IF THE REFEREE CANNOT PHYSICALLY FINISH THE GAME [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
I am a referee as well as a coach. I participate in a soccer forum on a site hosted by [name deleted]. A member of the forum is reporting that they brought a question to “Ask a Ref”. The answer being reported as coming from here concerns me.

What is being reported is that should a CR be unable to complete a match then an AR should move to the CR and the match should be completed with only 2 officials. This does not agree with the instructions on page 35 of the administrative handbook that is also posted on this site. My understanding based on what I read is that if you can not comply with one of the listed options, the match should be abandoned and a report written to the completion authority.
1) Was the question asked and answered “here” or elsewhere?
2) Am I reading the Admin. Handbook incorrectly?

USSF answer (September 17, 2003):
[NOTE: THIS ANSWER PRESUPPOSES THAT THERE ARE NO OTHER QUALIFIED OFFICIALS AT THE FIELD] 1. Yes, the question was asked and answered here. That answer was approved by Julie Ilacqua, Managing Director of Federation Services for the United States Soccer Federation, as was this one. The original answer is reproduced here for clarity: QUOTE Original Question:
Is is proper for a CR & and AR to switch at the half? I’ve heard that some believe this is okay, say for example in hot climates. I can’t find this addressed anywhere in LOTG or Ref Admin book.
USSF answer (September 16, 2003): You will not find it addressed in any of the books because it is a situation that cannot and should not occur. The only occasion on which a referee would relinquish his or her authority over a match would be if the referee had become too ill to continue. In that case, the referee would not run the line either, but would go home. Unless there was a fourth official to take over as either referee or as an assistant referee — depending on the rules of the competition — the remaining two officials would work the game on their own. One would become the referee, working mostly on one side of the field, while the other assistant referee would remain as an assistant referee, working the other side of the field, but extending his or her range a bit to provide more assistance to the new referee.
END OF QUOTE

It has never been the policy of the United States Soccer Federation that a referee and an assistant referee may exchange jobs in the middle of a game other than through incapacitation of the referee, which is why the situation posited in the question should never have occurred.

2. Yes, you are reading the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) incorrectly. You are correct in that the RAH does specify that the game be controlled under the Diagonal System of Control (DSC), meaning three officials. However, the text (cited below) goes on to say that the National Referee Committee “prefers” the various alternatives listed. When those alternatives cannot be fulfilled, then common practice throughout the United States is as described in the answer of September 16, 2003.

Herewith the text of page 35 of the RAH:
POLICY:
Systems of Officiating 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 national competitions sponsored by the U.S. Soccer Federation. require the use of this officiating system.

In order to comply with the Laws of the Game which have been adopted by the National Council, all soccer games sanctioned directly or indirectly by member organizations of the U. S. Soccer Federation must employ the diagonal system (three officials). As a matter of policy, the National Referee Committee prefers the following alternatives in order of preference:
1. One Federation referee and two Federation referees as assistant referees (the standard ALL organizations should strive to meet).
2. One Federation referee and two assistant referees, one of whom is a Federation referee and one of whom is a trainee of the local referee program.
3. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are both unrelated to either team participating in the game but are not Federation referees, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).
4. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are not both Federation referees and who are affiliated with the participating teams, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).

Member organizations and their affiliates should make every effort to assist in recruiting officials so that enough Federation referees will be available to permit use of the diagonal officiating system for ALL their competitions.


TACKLE FROM BEHIND [LAW 12]
Your question:
A defender has been beat and the forward with the ball is moving in on the goal. The defender attempts a slide tackle from behind, but misses. The forward immediately scores on that play.

With play stopped for the goal, should the defender that attempted the slide from behind be warned by the official verbally or given a yellow card, even if no contact is made?

USSF answer (September 17, 2003):
Why? Why punish a perfectly legal play — and it is NOT an infringement to tackle fairly from behind — if there was no foul committed?


JUMPING AT [LAW 12]
Your question:
We were have a discussion about Law 12 and “Jump At a Player”. The majority of those in the discussion only called this foul when there was contact between players. I look in the Advice to Referees and did not find any reference. Can you give me a call on this point and how far or close must players be when another player jumps into the air when not attempting a “header”?

My understanding of the word “AT” is defined as “in the direction of” or “toward the direction of”; am I taking this to mean the wrong thing? I have always considered this to be a way to intimidate a player who was not as aggressive, especially at younger age groups U12 and less. I do not see this move in the pro or world cup games.

USSF answer (September 17, 2003):
Some of your interlocutors do not appear to understand the English language very well — or soccer. “Jumping at” means precisely that: launching one’s body toward that of the opponent. It can be from a standing or “flying” position. It can be done to intimidate or in a feigned (really meant to distract or intimidate the opponent) or genuine but unsuccessful attempt to gain the ball. It is most often seen under the pretext of heading the ball, but may also be seen when a player launches himself through the air, feet first, to “tackle” away the ball. You will find two references to jumping at an opponent in the USSF publication “Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players,” published annually.

4. Offenses against goalkeepers
It is an offense if a player:
(a) jumps at a goalkeeper under the pretext of heading the ball;

7. Jumping at an opponent A player who jumps at an opponent under the pretext of heading the ball shall be penalized by the award of a direct free kick to the opposing team

Two things to remember about “jumping at” an opponent:
(1) Contact is clearly not required for this foul
(2) This is one of those fouls where the “rule of thumb” about “playing the player rather than the ball” is particularly apt as a shorthand way of viewing the offense — the foul is almost certain when the offending player is looking at the opponent rather than the ball.


WHAT IS THE FOOT? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
If the hand is considered everything from the shoulder down, what is the “foot”? Is it the entire leg or the actual physical foot?
[NOTE: The questioner asked about a question dated May 12, 2003 regarding a deliberate pass to the goalkeeper; see the Archives.]

USSF answer (September 14, 2003):
In an answer published in February 2002 we defined kicking thusly: “To kick is to play the ball with the foot, which is defined as anything at the ankle or below. Thus, the only legal means of restarting with a “kick” is to play the ball with the foot.”

This definition applies only to restarts. We can envision — and have seen — those instances on the field where a player inadvertently “kicks” the ball with his shin. That inadvertent act, too, would qualify as kicking, but only during active play.


CAUTION FOR PLAYING DANGEROUSLY? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I have a question about the penalty for dangerous play against a GK. It seems if the goalie has possession of the ball and the attacker makes a dangerous play, the penalty is actually worse for the goalie’s team. That is, an indirect free kick near the goal is better for the attacking team than a goalie kick near the 18 yard line. I know I could give a yellow card but our region frowns on that for U10s. Do I understand the rules correctly?

USSF answer (September 14, 2003):
It would be rare indeed for an act of playing dangerously to be considered misconduct, unless it involved denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity. The referee must call the game the way the Law is written, not the way the Law “should be” written.


HAVE THE COURAGE TO MAKE THE CALL!!! [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
We were taught players could exert shoulder to shoulder pressure against an opponent to gain possession of the ball. Now we see players who immediately raise their arms to block or fend off an opponent and thus gain possession of the ball. At one time this action was considered “holding” or “pushing” and was called a foul. We were told to “play the ball and not the man.” Today’s referees no longer call this holding off of an opponent a foul. Additionally, in trying to win possession many players will first force the opposing players away from the ball by any means and then collect the ball. Again, the first play seems to be to push the opposing player and only then play the ball.

It now seems that when you are within a stride or two of the ball you can do anything to your opponent to gain possession.  The refs rarely call fouls in these situations.  Just what are you allowed to do to your opponent to gain possession? Or what can’t one do? What has changed?

USSF answer (September 14, 2003):
The pushing and holding off you describe is a coached action, used because referees have shown they do not have the courage to call foul play. It is just one of many acts that are not properly punished.


HEADBANDS OR SWEATBANDS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
What is your advice on how to handle those players that want to wear a sweatband on their head or sweatbands on their wrists. Their reasons are of course that they don’t want sweat dripping into their eyes. I have never considered these items as necessary or part of standard equipment and I ask players to remove them.

USSF answer (September 12, 2003):
Sweatbands and headbands are generally accepted as supplementary player equipment throughout the world. The referee is the sole judge of the permissibility of these items, which must meet the requirement in Law 4 that they not be dangerous to any player. The referee’s opinion would be guided by a recent FIFA circular and the USSF memorandum of March 7, 2003, on player equipment. Other guidance might come from local competition authority requirements.


ARE THERE ANY RULES FOR COACHES? [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
During a quarter final game this week I was surprised to see the coach of the opposing team not only come over to the other team’s side to instruct his players, but right in front of the other coach, as well as being on the playing field and with one of his players beside him, bouncing and playing with a ball in his hand. At one point during play the coach was almost in the goal box of the opposing team. He was asked to move a few times and just ignored the requests. The referee was told, and choose to ignore this as well. This is a U10 Boys house league. Just wondering what your thought is.

USSF answer (September 12, 2003):
In an answer of October 22, 2002, we noted: “The Laws of the Game tell us that ‘[a]ll [team] officials must remain within the confines of the technical area, where such area is provided, and they must behave in a responsible manner.’ The Laws also tell us about the technical area and its measurements. Without going into precise detail on the matter, we can agree that this suggests that — no matter how innocent their intentions — team officials should remain along the touch line and stay out of areas where they could be considered to be interfering with play or not behaving in a responsible manner, even in under-tiny soccer. Spectators may remain behind the goal line, but only if they are far enough away so as not to interfere with the game.”

We can add that, under the Law, any POSITIVE coaching is allowed from the technical area, as long as only one person speaks at a time and then returns to his seat on the bench. As a practical matter, particularly at the youth level, any POSITIVE coaching is allowed. In either case, whether at the level of the least experienced players (and coaches) or at the highest levels, any case in which the coach behaves irresponsibly will result in the coach being dismissed. (Two examples from among many: ranting at the referee, overt participation in deception of the opposing team.)

On August 29, 2003, we asked: “Where do people get the idea that coaches have the right to do anything but prepare their players for the game?” And then we answered our question by noting that a coach has no “right” to anything in the game of soccer, other than the right to conduct himself responsibly during the game — from within the technical or bench area — while offering advice to his players. A referee who allows coaches or other team officials to parade around the field, in contravention of the requirements in Law 5 that coaches behave responsibly and that referees not permit anyone other than players to enter the field, should be ashamed.


SHIELDING THE BALL/LEAVING THE FIELD OF PLAY [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
A striker, protecting a 1-goal lead late in the game, dribbles the ball to the corner flag and parks it right on the opponents goal line, then aggressively and legally shields a defender who is trying to get the ball without giving up a corner kick. To me, this stops “the continuous flow of action” that the rules attempt to create, thus interfering with the spirit of the game, and also raises the ire of the opposing team due to the stalling and aggressive shielding. So I stopped play, called “unsporting behavior”, and gave an indirect kick to the defending team. I issued no yellow card, invoking law 18 for a “victimless crime”. The striker was hot, claiming what he was doing was a legal play.

My action would appear to be justified by “commits any other offense not previously mentioned in law 12” clause, except I did not issue a yellow card. Was I wrong for stopping play, or wrong for not giving a yellow card, or is there a better way to deal with this situation?

USSF answer (September 10, 2003):
Why ever would you caution a player for unsporting behavior for performing a perfectly legitimate act? Any player is allowed to shield the ball from all comers if he remains within playing distance of the ball. And there is a perfectly legitimate way to get around this shielding, too. Read on.

In the normal course of events, players are expected to remain on the field of play. However, they are allowed to leave the field to retrieve balls for restarts on the boundary lines (corner kicks and throw-ins), balls that left the field after fouls or misconduct, and to avoid opponents blocking their way or to get to the ball still in play, as well as to perform the restart itself. It is clear from reading the literature from the IFAB and FIFA that a player in the situation you describe is allowed to leave the field during the course of play to get to the ball while it is still in play. The referee should not consider this act to be a cautionable offense, but rather to be smart soccer.


REFEREES, USE YOUR BRAINS! [LAW 18]
Your question:
Last night at a U13 Boys game, a player on my team scored on a quick one touch from a cross. The ball went directly into the back of the goal without the keeper touching it. The certified center referee signaled a goal for appox. 3 seconds and headed to the center of the field, my team set up for the kickoff. About 3 seconds after signaling goal, the CR looked over at the AR who was on the goal side and noticed him flapping the flag in front of him. The CR went to the AR and asked him why he was flapping the flag, the CR asked him if it was a goal, he said “no”, the AR thought he said “did you see a foul”. At this point, the CR took the ball and did a drop at the defenders 18 with my team setup for a kickoff. I immediately asked the AR, what happened, he said “I don’t know, I thought you scored a goal”. At halftime, I asked the CR what happened and he indicated the AR had said there was no goal. I asked him to talk to the AR. He came back and apoligized, he had misunderstood the AR. Does the goal count?

USSF answer (September 9, 2003):
May the fleas of a thousand camels infest, etc., etc., both of these referees for taking away your team’s goal, and may their arms be too short for them to scratch. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done about it now. Once the referee has restarted the game, the goal may not be scored again.


PLEASE — DO NOT PUNISH NON-EXISTENT FOULS! [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
White team is attacking and just over the half way line. The ball is kicked in a manner that causes it to deflect off a player and make a high arch towards Red’s goal. There is four red players standing in a line about 14 yards from the goal. They are all within the penalty area. The ball comes straight down on top of one Red player who is in line with the other three. Because of the ball’s shadow? the player flinches and reacts by batting the ball straight down with her hand. The ball ends up in the same place as if the player would not have touched it with her extended hand. There is no white player within 10 yards of where this occured. The red player does not play the ball because she knows she touched it with her hand. The ball ends up in a position that is neutral to both red and white (no advantage to either team).

Is the referee supposed to award a penalty kick by letter of the law or let common sense rule and tell the players to “play on – no foul”.

USSF answer (September 9, 2003):
Neither decision you suggest is correct. If the situation was exactly as you describe it, then no foul was committed and the referee need not say anything.

If the players appear confused by the events, the referee might say “no foul” or something similar to ensure that play continues, but he cannot say “play on,” because there was no foul.


DEALING WITH SLIDING TACKLES [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I checked the archives and could not find an answer to my exact question, but there were a few involving goalkeepers that were close. I would really like your input.

On a girls under 14 game with good skilled players on competitive teams. A long kick is played behind the red teams defenders and is rolling toward the red goal. A blue player has sprinted to the ball and is about to begin dribbling toward goal and a shot. A speedy red player is pursuing from a slight angle and behind the blue player. The red player slides from a slight angle and behind the blue player and kicks the ball out of the blue player’s path thwarting the attack. The red player’s momentum carries her into the path of the blue player’s legs and sends the blue player flying head over heals. There was no opportunity for the blue player to have seen the red player, or been aware of her presence and the ensuing slide tackle.

On this play the referee made no call. The player sent flying later became dizzy and left the field. She collapsed about 10 minutes later and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. The doctors have indicated a concussion and strained neck. In addition the game became much more physical with both teams fouling hard at every opportunity, and parents becoming very upset because of the injured player.

This is a dangerous tactic to prevent an attack and is considered by most to be fair because the defender got the ball first. I say who cares who got the ball first the play was dangerous, and the referee has a responsibility to take some action. The blue team thought they had received no justice and decided to get some on their own.

What do you say?

USSF answer (September 9, 2003):
There is no black-or-white answer to your question. The likelihood of danger is greater when the tackle is committed from behind and the probability of a foul having been committed is greater solely for this reason — due in large part to the “can’t prepare for the tackle” element when it comes from an unseen direction.

The referee must judge each situation of a tackle from behind individually, weighing the guidelines published by FIFA and the U. S. Soccer Federation, the positions of the players, the way the tackler uses his/her foot or feet, the “temperature” of the game, the age/skill of the players, and the attitude of the players. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.

While one may (and should) sympathize with the injured player, soccer is a tough, competitive sport, and injuries can happen with no associated infringement of the Law. Players who act on the basis of the opposite presumption, abetted by like-minded spectators, do the sport no good.

Finally, “getting the ball first” has NEVER been absolution for whatever else may happen during or immediately after the tackle.


THE ASSISTANT REFEREE AND THE ADVANTAGE CLAUSE [LAW 5; LAW 6]
Your question:
Can the AR invoke the advantage clause as outlined in Law 5?

USSF answer (September 9, 2003):
The assistant referee (AR) may not and cannot invoke the advantage clause. That is reserved solely for the referee. However, the CONCEPT of advantage is used by the AR in deciding whether to give a signal in the first place. The AR should make use of the advantage concept as part of his duty under Law 6 to signal for infringements occurring out of the view of the referee. While not a formal “call” and with no signal as such, ARs should keep the flag down even for violations out of the referee’s view IF the referee would likely have applied advantage if he had seen it (or likewise, in the alternative, would have considered the violation trifling).


SHINGUARDS [LAW 4]
Your question:
Is there a rule concerning the position of the shin guard as it pertains to a high school soccer player? It appears to be fashionable to wear short guards. Is this allowed?

USSF answer (August 29, 2003):
We cannot comment on whatever rules may govern the position of the shinguard for high school players. As for players in USSF matches, Law 4 is clear in leaving to the referee the responsibility of determining not only if the shinguards are present but also if they are being worn properly. After all, shinguards cannot protect the shin (shinguard = guard the shin) if they do not cover the shin. The shinguard must provide adequate protection for the player. The decision lies with the referee, not some fashionista.


QUICK FREE KICK/COACHES’ RIGHTS [LAW 5; LAW 13]
Your question:
A direct kick foul is called. The teams line up for the restart. The coach for the team taking the free kick hollers for ten yards. A quick look at the positioning of the players shows the defending team about 8 yards away. The player taking the kick starts his motion towards the ball with the coach still hollering for ten yards. The kick is taken and goes well over the goal post. The coach protest that he has the right to ask for ten yards. Should the referee act on the coaches request for ten yards or should the request come only from the field players?

USSF answer (August 29, 2003):
Where do people get the idea that coaches have the right to do anything but prepare their players for the game? A coach has no “right” to anything in the game of soccer, other than the right to conduct himself responsibly during the game while offering advice to his players.

More to the point of your question, the referee is under no obligation to stop the kicker from kicking the ball at a free kick, no matter where the opposing players are positioned. Both teams are expected to abide by the requirement to get the ball back in play. All referees should encourage and allow quick free kicks, particularly if that is what the kicking team wants to do. At all free kicks the referee should back away, watch what happens, and intervene in quick free kick situations where an opponent closer than the minimum required distance actively makes a play for the ball (as opposed to, luckily, having the ball misplayed directly to him). The referee must have a feel for the game, how it has been going, how it is going now. That “feel” must be applied to each and every situation individually. There is no black-and-white formula to follow.

And let it be repeated here: The coach has no right to anything other than to remain in his technical area (bench area) — if he behaves responsibly. And hollering at the referee is not responsible behavior — nor good coaching.


ONE-ARMED/ONE-HANDED THROW-INS; THREATS OF “PROTEST”!! [LAW 15; LAW 18]
Your question:
Good morning, my son is 10 and he plays on a select U11 team and has been playing soccer for 5 years. At age three he lost his left arm below the elbow, and has always thrown the ball in with his one hand. We have taught him to throw the ball over his head and keep his elbow in front of him (not off to the side like a goalie throw).

In all these years of playing never has a referee or coach complained or ruled that he can not throw the ball in because he only has one hand, as long as his arm stays in front. Last weekend we played in a tournament and made it to the championship game. We played the home team so it was a very exciting game, at halftime we were up 2-1, the other coach came over to the referee and our coach and said if my son (Hunter) continued to throw in the ball they would protest…..is this legal, can they protest because my son has only one hand to throw in the ball.

Because he lost his arm at a young age and has compensated for it, his other arm is very strong and he can throw the ball pretty far down the field…but I’ve seen many techniques of throw in’s…even flips! I know the rule is two hands but because he has only one hand can he continue to throw in without the threat of another coach protesting! I wonder if his team was winning would he have said anything????

USSF answer (August 29, 2003):
Here is what we teach our referees, as printed in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
QUOTE
15.3 PROPERLY TAKEN THROW-IN
A throw-in must be performed while the thrower is facing the field, but the ball may be thrown into the field in any direction. Law 15 states that the thrower “delivers the ball from behind and over his head.” This phrase does not mean that the ball must leave the hands from an overhead position. A natural throwing movement starting from behind and over the head will usually result in the ball leaving the hands when they are in front of the vertical plane of the body. The throwing movement must be continued to the point of release. A throw-in directed straight downward (often referred to as a “spike”) has traditionally been regarded as not correctly performed; if, in the opinion of the referee such a throw-in was incorrectly performed, the restart should be awarded to the opposing team. There is no requirement in Law 15 prohibiting spin or rotational movement. Referees must judge the correctness of the throw-in solely on the basis of Law 15.

The acrobatic or “flip” throw-in is not by itself an infringement so long as it is performed in a manner which meets the requirements of Law 15.

A player who lacks the normal use of one or both hands may nevertheless perform a legal throw-in provided the ball is delivered over the head and provided all other requirements of Law 15 are observed.
END OF QUOTE

The concept is that the thrower makes a best effort to conform to meet the requirements of the Law. With one single caveat, any intelligent referee will allow people without the full use of both arms to take a throw-in without punishing them for not using both hands. The caveat: the referee must ensure that the one-handed throw is balanced and does not result in too much one-handed giving an unfair advantage to the thrower’s team.

And we also instruct our referees to pay no attention to threats of protest from anyone who has a stake in the outcome of the game.


SUBSTITUTION RULES [LAW 3]
Your question:
Has the USSF adopted the rule that NCAA & NFHS have done? That is, allow both teams to substitute on a substitution time for a specific team when they choose to substitute.

USSF answer (August 28, 2003):
Under the Laws of the Game, players may be substituted at any stoppage in play. What confuses you and others is the tendency in some leagues and tournaments to adopt what are often called “youth substitution rules.” These “rules” differ from the substitution rules established under the Laws of the Game. Although variations in substitution rules are allowed for youth (U-16 and below), veteran players (i. e., adults over 30), female players, and players with disabilities, their widespread and nearly automatic use in the United States in competitive play generally and for groups other than these mentioned is curious.

If you are interested in seeing the use of substitution rules which more closely resemble those used in the rest of the world, you should encourage your local associations and tournaments, not USSF, to avoid adopting these various restrictions on substitutions, particularly in competitive — as opposed to recreational — play.


CALLING OFFSIDE; IRRELEVANCY OF TEAM COMPLAINTS [LAW 11; LAW 18]
Your question:
I ask this question on behalf of some adult players to provide an official response so that they can read it and believe it. This play happened in an adult co-ed game recently and caught a number of people off guard, including the refs (I was one of them), until we convened and got the correct decision. I had never experienced this play in my 8+ years of officiating.

Player A from the attacking team positions himself in his attacking half of the field. The defending team takes positions on the center line and in their attacking half of the field leaving Player A alone, in what looks like an obvious offsides position (no defender nearer to the goal). The restart at this time is a goal kick by Player A¹s team from their defensive end of the field. The goalkeeper kicks the ball directly to Player A all alone in the opposition¹s defensive end and promptly goes to goal for a try. The goalkeeper makes the save, but the defending team is screaming for offsides because there are no defenders behind Player A nearer to their goal.

Luckily we had our Law books with us and showed the teams that an attacker cannot be called for offsides on a goalkick when the player receives the ball directly from the kick. This is one of 3 cases where an attacking player is not offsides (the other 2 being on throw-ins and corner kicks). There are a lot of questions regarding this ³interpretation² and its apparent unfairness from Team B. It was near halftime when the incident occurred, so we were able to calm players down and restart after an extended halftime intermission. I told the players I would write a letter to the senior officials to get a response that they could read.

I would appreciate an ³official² reply to show these folks at the next game to increase their awareness and provide them a better understanding of the game. Thanks,

USSF answer (August 27, 2003):
The task you have set seems impossible to fulfill. If the team would not believe what is written in the Laws of the Game, why would they believe something from the U. S. Soccer Federation? All we can do is point out the relevant portions of Law 11, Offside, and hope that the players can understand.

Law 11 tells us that it is not an offense in itself to be in an offside position. It also tells us that there is no offside offense if a player receives the ball directly from a goal kick, a throw-in, or a corner kick.

This basic premise of the Law is accepted and practiced throughout the world. If the defending team is careless enough to allow the attacking team to take advantage of the Law, then shame on them.

Two elements are most disturbing. The first is that this should have been taught in Refereeing 101, meaning that there should not have been any need for a conference. The second is that referees must realize that a team’s complaint/argument as to the alleged unfairness of any rule is irrelevant.


MAKE THE CALL! [LAW 18]
Your question:
What do you do if the ball squeezes between two players on opposite teams shoes and goes out??

USSF answer (August 26, 2003):
You make a decision — and then you sell it!


PUTTING THE BALL IN PLAY [LAW 8; LAW 13; LAW 18; USSF MEMORANDA]
Your question:
The rule states after the first player touches the ball and it moves foward the ball is in play. My questions are :
How must the ball be touched and how much movement is foward?
Can a player step directly on top of the ball and it is now in play and the ball in the opinion of the referee did not move forward?
Also can a player touch the ball and roll it foward and backward without removing their foot and the ball is only touched once because their foot never left the ball?

I hope you can clarify the rule. I have had a team do this and I am sure I will see more of these restarts this fall.

USSF answer (August 26, 2003):
For purposes of the restart, the advice you seek on restarts in which the ball is kicked will be found in the USSF Addendum to the Memorandum 1997, distributed to all referees in 1997:
QUOTE
General Note Regarding Restarts
“Memorandum 1997” discussed amendments to the Laws of the Game affecting all free kick, corner kick, penalty kick, and kick-off restarts. These amendments centered on the elimination of the ball moving the “distance of its circumference” before being considered in play. In all such cases, the ball is now in play when it is “kicked and moves” (free kicks and corner kicks) or when it is “kicked and moves forward” (kick-offs and penalty kicks). IFAB has emphasized that only minimal movement is needed to meet this requirement. USSF Advice to Referees: further clarification from IFAB suggests that, particularly in the case of free kicks and corner kicks, such minimal movement might include merely touching the ball with the foot. Referees are reminded that they must observe carefully the placing of the ball and, when it is properly located, any subsequent touch of the ball with the foot is sufficient to put the ball into play. Referees must distinguish between such touching of the ball to direct it to the proper location for the restart and kicking the ball to perform the restart itself. In situations where the ball must move forward before it is in play (kick-offs and penalty kicks), there should be less difficulty in applying the new language since such kicks have a specific location which is easily identified.
END OF QUOTE

You are incorrect in saying “The rule states after the first player touches the ball and it moves forward the ball is in play.” When a premise is false, the conclusions are usually tainted.

What Law 8 actually says is that “the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward.” Merely touched does not constitute a kick. A kick is normally defined (everyday use) as a “strike, thrust, or hit with the foot.” The Law is not concerned with the ball merely quivering or trembling as a result of contact with the foot. The Law presumes spatial movement on the field and, in the case of a kick-off (or penalty kick), forward spatial movement.

Rolling the ball forward is exactly that — rolling the ball forward — it is not a kick. Referees face the same sort of issue on a throw-in: if a player drops the ball from over his head, this may appear to meet all the requirements of Law 15, except for the simple fact that it was not a throw.

As for how much movement forward is needed, after the kick, the answer is equally simple — only minimal movement is required. Assuming an actual kick has occurred and the ball actually moves (spatial displacement) and the direction is not backward, it is now in play and we can get on with our lives.


HAVE THE GUTS TO CALL PENALTY KICKS! [LAW 12]
Your question:
Watching youth soccer games (recreational) I’ve noticed that many refs will award an indirect free kick for what appears (to me anyway) to be penal fouls in the penalty area for infractions that are not a severe breach of the attackers scoring chances. Examples of this are players being tripped while moving away from the goal, or when the foul occurs at the outskirts of the box and the attacker did not have a particularly good scoring chance, etc.. Nothing in the rulebook indicates that this is proper, except possibly the unwritten “common sense … keep the game as fair as possible” law. Does USSF have a position on this? Am I imagining things or is this relatively common (may more so in recreational games) ? I’d like your opinion. Thanks.

USSF answer (August 26, 2003):
There is no such thing as the “unwritten ‘common sense … keep the game as fair as possible’ law.” Nor is there anything close to it. What you describe would seem to be the acts of referees who are not willing to uphold the Laws of the Game, presumably because it would make life a bit harder for them.

Unfortunately, there are too many referees who do this sort of thing and make the next game more difficult for the rest of the refereeing corps. They seem to subscribe to the MYTH that a penalty kick should be reserved solely for goalscoring opportunities.


WHAT IS A SLIDE TACKLE?; SEEK CLARIFICATION FROM THE COMPETITION [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Can you please give me a definition of a slide tackle? We use a no slide tackle rule in our coed games and there is a wide range of definitions and how and when to call the violation. Please clarify.

USSF answer (August 26, 2003):
The term “slide tackle” refers to an attempt to tackle the ball away from an opponent while sliding on the ground. If you need further information, you should contact your competition authority (the league) and ask for their definition. You might suggest that it would be more readily enforceable if the referees knew precisely what they were expected to punish.


REFEREE ATTIRE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
If it is in winter and early in the morning and I was Running a Line The center told me he had no problem with me being in Black sweat Pants, But one of the coaches who also referees the FIFA rules say no sweats one ur refreeing a game. Is that true on not

USSF answer (August 26, 2003):
Sweat pants of any color are certainly not part of the referee uniform, but there is no rule against using common sense and dressing to suit the conditions. Of course, that means that any additional equipment, such as sweat pants, should be of an appropriate color and in good taste. Under no circumstances would a referee or assistant referee be able to do this in a higher-level match and certainly not one that was being assessed.


ORGANIZED PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT [12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I asked this question at a clinic and got laughed at. This situation really happened. I was refereeing a tournement final game. The game was a u-17 game. A fantantistic player from Virginia was playing . It became apparent that the opposition couldn’t stop him. He ran thru and got fouled. The second time he got thru and was fouled again. I gave the card after the second one for persistent fouls against one opponent. I gave the first card early because the pattern became clear to me. I gave four more yellow cards for fouls against Mr thompson. It became clear to me that the team was fouling this player in turn so no one would get sent off. My credability was getting stretched to the max. The fouls were not of a serious enough nature to justify a straight red nor were any of them a goal opportunity destroyed. What could I do. I ended up giving seven yellow cards to the one team?

USSF answer (August 21, 2003):
Under the Laws of the Game, there is no other option available to the referee than to caution the players individually. However, at least one other possibility does exist. The intelligent referee might consider chatting with the captain of the team that is engaging in the pattern of fouling and suggest that he will regard the next foul on the target player as serious foul play. Surely the referee in such a case can recognize serious foul play. Finally, after the game the referee can take advantage of the duty assigned in Law 5 to provide the appropriate authorities with a match report which includes information on any disciplinary action taken against players, and/or team officials and any other incidents which occurred before, during or after the match.


ADVANTAGE; “INTENT” [LAW 5; LAW 12]
Your question:
1. Striker tripped in the area by defender, PLAY ON called as he stumbles and gets off a decent shot which is fielded easily by the keeper and returned to play. Do I call for the PK which is superior to the advantage or is there an unwritten rule that any kind of shot counts as a viable advantage? PS: REFEREE MAGIZINE indicates PK / SEPT 2003, pg 34.

2. Is there a position paper that states if a player completely by accident, trips , holds , kicks,  ETC an opponent , that that player should NOT be considered guilty of the apparent infraction because there was no intent to commit the infraction ? If so, any guidelines on how we interpret this scenario.

USSF answer (August 19, 2003):
1. The referee’s decision to invoke the advantage has nothing to do with the team’s ability to score a goal immediately. Rather, it simply means that the team gains more at the moment of invocation than it would have done through a free kick. The referee must balance all factors of the particular situation to arrive at the proper solution.

2. No, there is no position paper dealing with “intent.” Why? Because the word “intent” does not exist in the Laws of the Game. We referees are no longer required to judge “intent” in an act by one player against another, but to judge the result of the act instead. However, we are allowed to distinguish between an act that is accidental and one that is deliberate.

All referees need to remember that “intent” is not an issue in deciding what is or is not a foul, regardless of age, and that something at the youngest age levels might nonetheless be considered a foul if it is determined to be careless. No age is too young to begin learning not to be careless.

For example, in the case of a player stumbling and colliding with an opponent, we would judge the act to be careless, reckless, or involving the use of excessive force — and thus a foul — only if the player had already begun to trip (or attempt to trip), push, kick (or attempt to kick), strike (or attempt to strike), jump at or charge his opponent. If the player was still merely pursuing the opponent and happened to stumble and fall, colliding with the opponent on the way down, there has been no foul, as the act was simply accidental or inadvertent.

Referees who call such acts fouls are doing a disservice to the game and to other referees. These are cases where the referee simply calls out “No foul” — or something similar; anything other than “Play on” or “Advantage” — because there has been no foul.


CONTROL VERSUS POSSESSION; TOUCHED/PLAYED BY [LAW 11; LAW 18]
Your question:
1 In your post below you say “because Law 11 clearly requires the ball to be controlled by the defender before a new phase of play can be said to have begun.” I can’t find this in LOTG on law 11. ATR 11.15 “(3) an opponent intentionally plays or gains possession of the ball.” Control (below) and played by seem different to me, as a ball can be played incorrectly. Also the “or” in the 11.15 quote seems to indicate that. Of course a deflection is not “played by.” Is control required by the defender for the offside player to be allowed to be involved in active play?

2 In law 11, the phrase “touched or played by” is used. This the only time “played by” is appended to a last touched phrase anywhere in LOTG. If this always means touched, what does mean? A player can shield the ball and play it. Is a touch required by a teammate, or would a shield count as a “played by”.

DEFENDER’S DEFLECTION [LAW 11]
Your question:
An attacker is in an offside position when the ball is played in his/her direction. A defender, having moved to a position to play the ball, either heads or high-kicks the ball. The ball is deflected off its original path, but the defender fails to gather the ball. The attacker in the offside position receives the ball. Has offside occurred? We have calls both ways accompanied a multitude of reasonable (and some maybe unreasonable) explanations to support call. What is your opinion?
USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
It IS NOT correct to assume that any touch by a defender effectively changes the possession, because Law 11 clearly requires the ball to be controlled by the defender before a new phase of play can be said to have begun (and offside positions re-evaluated). It IS correct to say that the referee must make the judgment as to whether the opponent established full control over the ball and thus relieved the player in the offside position from being called offside.

USSF answer (August 19, 2003):
“Control” in this case refers to the defender’s having exerted influence over the course and destination of the ball. A deflection would not be considered to be control, but a kick to a teammate would be. This can only be determined by the referee on the spot, not through any definition typed on a keyboard.

For the purposes of enforcing the Laws of the Game, the phrase “touched or played by” has only one meaning, “made contact with.” The only possible exceptions involve deflections by a defending opponent in an offside situation or by the goalkeeper who has deflected the ball in a save and not “parried” it.


SEND-OFF AT HALFTIME [LAW 5; LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
If a “player” is sent-off during half time, does the team play short?

In most USSF youth games with free substitutions, the referee has no idea of who the players are vs the substitutes at half time. For this reason it seems impossible to know if you are showing the red card to a player or a substitute – and therefore if the team should play short or not.

USSF answer (August 19, 2003):
This seems a good time to repeat an answer of November 2001:
If the referee knows the individual was a player when the previous period ended, the player’s team must play short for the remainder of the game. If the referee knows the individual was a substitute or is uncertain of that individual’s status when the previous period ended (and can find no evidence that the individual was a player at the end of the period), then that individual may not participate in the game any longer; his team may start the next period with the same number of players it had when the previous period ended.

An excerpt from section 3.14 of the 2001 edition of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” provides the answer for the rest of your question:
QUOTE
If a player or substitute is cautioned or dismissed for misconduct which has occurred during a break or suspension of play, the card must be shown on the field before play resumes.
END OF QUOTE

We would add only that this portion of 3.14 remains unchanged in the soon-to-be-published 2003 update of the Advice to Referees.


SLIDING TACKLE [LAW 12]
Your question:
A long kick by team A’s midfielder has cleared over team B’s defenders and the ball is now in the open field, rapidly rolling towards B’s goal. A’s speedy forward has outraced B’s defenders so that now the only two players who are within playing distance and have a chance of getting to the ball are A’s onrushing forward and B’s keeper coming off his line to play the ball. The keeper is about to pick up the ball (but does NOT have contact with or possession of the ball) and the forward, realizing this, slides at the keeper in an attempt to strike the ball prior to the keeper gaining possession. Keeper picks up ball before any contact is made and successfully dodges the oncoming slide.

My thoughts: this a dangerous play as contemplated by Advice to Refs 12.23 in that once the forward goes into the slide, he cannot control his direction and/or velocity of his body and has committed himself to a head on collision with the keeper. this lack of control would make this an inadmissible charge at the goalie as contemplated by 12.23 and team B would be awarded a indirect free kick (or the keeper may continue the play if the referee determines advantage rules apply)

My fellow coaches believe that “the keeper is just like any other player” and since you can slide at any other player to challenge the ball, you can slide at the keeper also.

USSF answer (August 19, 2003):
What you have described as a charge is in fact a sliding tackle, a horse of an entirely different color. This means that section 12.23 of the “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” which deals solely with charging the goalkeeper, would not apply.

Section 12.13, Playing in a Dangerous Manner, might apply; however, if the tackling player’s foot hit the goalkeeper before the ball, then it would not be playing dangerously (an indirect free kick foul), but the direct free kick foul of tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball.

The position of goalkeeper carries with it implicit dangers of heavy contact with other players. That is an accepted fact of the game. Other than being privileged to deliberately handle the ball within his own penalty area, the goalkeeper has no more rights than any other player. The act you have described is no foul at all, but simply the actions of two players going for the ball entirely within both the letter and spirit of the Laws.


FOUL PRECEDES GOAL; YOU DECIDE [LAW 5; LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
The red team has the ball in their attacking third. The AR sees the red team’s defending player kick a blue team player in the red team’s defending third. Play continues, and the red team scores a goal. The AR had his flag up signaling the foul before the goal was scored. What is the correct call? What is the correct restart?

USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
If the referee accepts the assistant referee’s signal for the foul, the goal is not scored, the red defender is sent off and shown the red card for violent conduct, and the restart is a direct free kick for the blue team from the place where the infringement occurred.

If the referee does not accept that a foul (and misconduct) has occurred, the goal is scored and the restart is a kick-off for the blue team.

Which decision would you make?


CONFUSED GOALKEEPER REDUX 2 [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Did you really mean to say, in response to the query by the “confused goalkeeper” in your July 29 posting, that “If you actually had possession as defined above, rather than simply going for the ball and yet not having it pinned down, then the second player was in the wrong and should have been punished for kicking or attempting to kick an opponent — a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team — and possibly sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card if he made contact with you. ”

The questioner clearly wrote: “…of course the [ball] came loose after the forward barreled into me and the other player pounded the ball into the goal….”

Is the USSF position truly that a player who kicks a loose ball into the goal (no matter how it came to be loose) is guilty of kicking or attempting to kick an opponent and should be penalised and possibly sent off?

I mention this because there is a pernicious rumor circulating among (dubious, IMO) referees that goes like this:
1. A player cannot legally play the ball after the goalkeeper has taken possession.
2. Possession = Control
3. IBD 2 for Law 12 defines control as touching the ball with any part of the hand or arms.
4. Therefore, after the goalkeeper has touched the ball with any part of his hands or arms, even if he subsequently loses control or deliberately releases the ball, any player attempting to play the ball has committed a foul and shoould be at least cautioned and probably sent off.

Your answer seems to support this conclusion in that, if the goalkeeper established control and then subsequently lost it, the attacker is guilty of a foul if he plays the loose ball. I’m not making this up. You don’t have to go far in the soccer community, even the referee community, to have this argument raised.

USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
There is a vast difference between “control” and “possession.”

“Control” under the Law occurs when the goalkeeper plays the ball with his hand to direct it somewhere.

“Possession” occurs when the ball is actually under the goalkeeper’s physical control (rather than simply being redirected).

Other players may not attempt to play the ball while the goalkeeper has possession of the ball or is attempting to release the ball so that others may play it. Attempting to do so with the foot is classified as either kicking or attempting to kick. Following the overhaul of the Laws of the Game in 1997, the ball itself cannot be lawfully played while in the goalkeeper’s possession. Therefore any attempt to kick, head, knee, or otherwise play the ball out of the goalkeeper’s possession must be considered as an action directed at the goalkeeper himself/herself and therefore should be considered kicking or attempting to kick — a direct free kick offense. If contact were made, the referee might consider that the kicking player committed serious foul play and might then send off the player and show the red card.


BALL ENTERS GOAL, RETURNS TO FIELD, GOES OUT FOR THROW-IN [LAW 5; LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
Ball is crossed through the goal mouth very near the end-line but proceeds into the corner where it is cleared upfield and into touch. Play is stopped and restared with a throw-in. After the throw-in the CR (finally) notices that the AR on the end of the field where the ball had just crossed through the goal mouth has his flag raised. CR stops play and confers with AR who informs him that the ball had not merely traveled across the goal-mount but had, in fact, gone wholly and completely over the goal line, between the goal posts and was, consequently, a goal. Referee awards the goal and restarts with a kickoff. Protest is lodged because the CR awarded the goal after the throw-in restart which, it is claimed, negates the referee’s ability to award the goal.

Is this a correct interpretation of the last paragraph of Law 5: “The referee may only change a decision… provided that he has not restarted play.”? I am more familiar with this being applied to a free-kick restart (subsequent to a foul) where the referee realizes he has pointed the wrong way and has to realign the kick to go the other way; here the restart is directly related to the immediate incident. In the protested case, above, the restart was completely separate from the incident.

USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
As the referee determined to accept the AR’s information and award the goal, the goal is valid. There are a number of questions and answers touching on this and other instances of AR assistance rendered prior to a foul or misconduct being committed in the IFAB/FIFA Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game.

Historically, the Law 5 statement actually has to do with a goal being revoked prior to a restart and less with the possibility you suggest of a goal not being counted if it wasn’t recorded prior to a restart. The National Program for Referee Development has published a position paper on sequential infringements of the Law (downloadable from this site) which, although again not being on point as regards a goal, established the general proposition that the stoppage should be counted from the moment the AR flagged if the referee subsequently confirms the AR’s information. And, finally, there is the proposition that play actually stopped under the Law when the whole of the ball crossed entirely over the goal line and so anything that happens after that (unless “too much play” has passed) is a nullity.


DEFENDER’S DEFLECTION [LAW 11]
Your question:
An attacker is in an offside position when the ball is played in his/her direction. A defender, having moved to a position to play the ball, either heads or high-kicks the ball. The ball is deflected off its original path, but the defender fails to gather the ball. The attacker in the offside position receives the ball. Has offside occurred? We have calls both ways accompanied a multitude of reasonable (and some maybe unreasonable) explanations to support call. What is your opinion?

USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
It IS NOT correct to assume that any touch by a defender effectively changes the possession, because Law 11 clearly requires the ball to be controlled by the defender before a new phase of play can be said to have begun (and offside positions re-evaluated). It IS correct to say that the referee must make the judgment as to whether the opponent established full control over the ball and thus relieved the player in the offside position from being called offside.


RESTART FOLLOWING ADMONITION WITHOUT CARD [LAW 5]
Your question:
We had a situation where our team was attacking in the oponents goal box and our goal keeper yelled from the other end of the field when he believed we should have received a penalty for a challenge on our forward. Our goal keeper just yelled “penalty, ref!” The referee stopped play which was still continuing and marched all the way up the field where our goalkeeper was standing and awarded an indirect free kick for saying what he did. He did not receive a yellow card.

My question is, although the referee had the right technically to stop the game, where should the free kick taken place? My understanding of the rule book is that he had the right to caution the keeper but the free kick should have been where he stopped the game. Could you help with this question?

USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
Your answer can be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
QUOTE
5.7 STOPPING PLAY
The referee has the power to stop the match for any infringement of the Laws, to apply advantage under the appropriate conditions, or to decide that an infringement is trifling or doubtful and should not be called at all. However, the referee also has the power to stop play for other reasons, including misconduct for which the referee intends only to warn the player regarding his behavior and not to issue a caution. In these circumstances, the referee should take care that ordering such a stoppage would not disadvantage the opposing team. As the stoppage will not have occurred for a foul or misconduct, play would be restarted with a dropped ball.
QUOTE

As there was no true infringement, the restart would obviously be at the place where the ball was when play was stopped.


THE REFEREE BADGE [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
What is the significance of the six stars in the shield of the USSF referee badge?

USSF answer (August 12, 2003):
After as much research as seems possible on the matter, asking the “oldest timers” we know about the stars, the consensus is that the number of stars in the shield of the referee badge is simply the correct number to fill the space nicely. (The same seems to be true of the newer US Soccer logo, which has three stars, the one in the center a bit larger to better fill the space available.) The stars that separate UNITED STATES from SOCCER FEDERATION are purely for decoration.

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, we used to have stars around the outer perimeter of the referee badge. Their number varied in relationship to the grade of the referee — the more stars, the higher the grade.


CONFUSED GOALKEEPER REDUX 1 [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In regard to a portion of your posted answer:
CONFUSED GOALKEEPER – USSF answer (July 29, 2003):
“… If [the Keeper] actually had possession as defined [in ‘Advice’ 12.16], rather than simply going for the ball and yet not having it pinned down, then the … player [who kicks or attempts to kick (a ball) in Keeper possession] was in the wrong and should have been punished for kicking or attempting to kick an opponent — a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team — and possibly sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card if he made contact with you. ”

I thought that a simple stripping of the ball from the Keeper could be sanctioned as Dangerous Play where no physical contact occurred. I have given an IFK with a verbal warning to the effect that the Keeper is not to be used as a golf tee …. on occasion in the past. Of course, this milder punishment requires no contact …. and assumes no observed malice i.t.o.o.t.r. [… to be applied only where it is in harmony with the spirit of the game in question]. Wrong interpretation ??

USSF answer (August 11, 2003):
The call of dangerous play for this offense went out several years ago. It is either kicking or attempting to kick, no opinion of the referee required or warranted — it is not allowed. Following the overhaul of the Laws of the Game in 1997, the ball itself cannot be lawfully played while in the goalkeeper’s possession. Therefore any attempt to kick, head, knee, or otherwise play the ball out of the goalkeeper’s possession must be considered as an action directed at the goalkeeper himself/herself and therefore should be considered kicking or attempting to kick — a direct free kick offense. If contact were made, the referee might consider that the kicking player committed serious foul play and might then send off the player and show the red card.


DECEPTION IS NOT “SIMULATION” [LAW 12]
Your question:
An attacking player is lying injured inside the penalty area. A defending player kicks the ball in touch so that the injured player can receive treatment. After the injured player is treated, an attacking player takes the throw-in. Attacker #6 calls for the ball saying, “Give it to me and I will give it to the goalkeeper!” The ball is thrown to Attacker #6, who promptly and intentionally kicks the ball into the goal! Most referees I know think that this is unfair and conflicts with the spirit of the game. But does it infringe the law? I have heard two suggestions on how to deal with this unlikely situation (but it has occurred I am told). First solution: Find fault with the throw. Second solution: Attacker #6 performed a simulation to deceive the opponents AND THE REFEREE. Caution Attacker #6 for USB and award an IFK to the defenders. Within LOTG what should the referee do? Or should he have done?

USSF answer (August 1, 2003):
There is no reason for the referee to take any action, as there has been no infringement of the Laws of the Game. On the other hand, Attacker #6 should consider giving up soccer, as he has no concept of fair play.

Please rid yourself of the notion that what the morally-impaired attacker did comes under the “simulation” provision. Referees can stretch the Laws pretty far when the circumstances permit, but some things are simply beyond the pale. “Simulation” involves fouls and/or injuries only, not deception of the sort described in the scenario, and is aimed at deceiving or misleading the referee. The action of this player was not aimed at the referee at all, but solely at the opponents.


DANGEROUS CHARGE (?); USING THE HAND OR ARM AS SUPPORT [LAW 12]
Your question:
Can you please illustrate an example of a dangerous charge? I have always sanctioned any charge that fails to meet the criteria in ATR 12.5 as careless (DFK). Also, may a player use his forearm instead of his shoulder to charge an opponent, assuming that the charge isn’t violent, and the player doesn’t come up under the opponent–just uses the forearm as a brace against the player (and perhaps pushes a little)?

I believe I am correct in assuming that if a wall creeps up a yard or two at a free kick, this is always trifling as it I can’t think of any way this could hinder the attacking team’s ability to restart. However, it really bothers me and I was wondering if the USSF approves the practice of setting up the wall intentionally farther than ten yards, in games where the defenders have consistently previously crept forward. I don’t see anything else I can do about it, as I can’t caution anyone if it’s trifling, correct?

USSF answer (July 30, 2003):
1. We are not aware of anything called a “dangerous charge.” If you mean a reckless or violent charge, then they should be punished accordingly — with a caution (yellow card) and direct free kick (or penalty kick) or with a send-off (red card) and direct free kick (or penalty kick), respectively. No, a player may not use his forearm to charge an opponent — or even as a brace. These acts would be considered either pushing or holding and should be punished accordingly. They are the same as the ever-popular hand check, which is also illegal.

2. Trifling is relative. It might make all the difference in the world to the team which was awarded the free kick. If the creeping is interfering with the kicking team’s right to a “free” kick, then the referee must exercise good judgment in managing the situation. Nothing that interferes with a team’s right to fair play can be considered trifling.


CONFUSED GOALKEEPER [LAW 12]
Your question:
I play goalkeeper and I was wondering if a call was right in a match that I had played in recently. Here is was happened, the opposing team had a breakaway and went to their wing foward which crossed the ball into the middle, no player contended the ball until it hit the ground so of course I went to go scoop it up but I was met by two opposing players one of which ran into me not even trying to get the ball, I had my hands on the ball but it was down at my feet, of course the came loose after the forward barreled into me and the other player pounded the ball into the goal, now comes to my question. The player that ran into me received a yellow card, but the referee allowed the goal. I don’t think a goal should be allowed if there was a foul committed and even a card give.

Thanks for reading this. Confused Goalkeeper

USSF answer (July 29, 2003):
The goalkeeper establishes possession with as little as one finger on the ball, provided the ball is under his control (in the opinion of the referee) and the ball has been trapped against the ground or some other surface — the ‘keeper’s other hand or a goalpost.

Let us leave aside for the moment the matter of the player who played you instead of the ball. If you actually had possession as defined above, rather than simply going for the ball and yet not having it pinned down, then the second player was in the wrong and should have been punished for kicking or attempting to kick an opponent — a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team — and possibly sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card if he made contact with you.

The player who played you rather than the ball was clearly in the wrong and should have been punished — at a minimum — for carelessly charging an opponent. The referee in your game obviously saw this as a reckless play, hence the caution and yellow card.

If you were prevented from playing the ball by the unfair charge, the goal should not have been allowed and the restart should have been a direct free kick for your team from the point of the charge.

If the referee had called the kicking or attempted kicking by the other opponent, then the goal should not have been awarded and the referee should have awarded a direct free kick for your team.


DENYING AN OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY THROUGH MISCONDUCT ALONE [LAW 12]
Your question:
From a DFK 30 yards from the Goal the attacker kicks the ball over the wall of defenders and toward the goal. The ball appears that it would have scored were it not for the defender who hung from the goal crossbar and headed the ball back onto the field.

USSF answer (July 28, 2003):
By hanging on the crossbar to head the ball away from the goal, the player brought the game into disrepute. Because this misconduct denied the opponents a goalscoring opportunity, the referee should send off the player and show the red card. The restart would be an indirect free kick for the opposing team. This is a good example for reminding referees that offenses which deny a goalscoring opportunity are not limited to those punishable by a direct free kick or penalty kick but may include fouls or misconduct for which the restart is an indirect free kick.


WEARING GLASSES [LAW 4; LAW 18; USSF MEMO 070307]
Your question:
[Original question directed to a state association]
I request your assistance is directing me the appropriate governing body relating to rules pertaining to the following: Prescribed (prescription) eyewear used during a soccer match. As background, my sons and I are Grade 8 referees activley involved in the local [city name] area. Also, both of my sons play Premier level Club soccer.

I am aware there is no specific law governing the approval of such eyewear. Based on my research, it appears the approval is left up to each individual referee’s descrection (based on safety and the need for such eyewear). Unfortunately this can be capricious and unpredictable. Specifically, I’ve been involved in several instances when the matter of “what is safe” has come under heated debate between referees on the same field and the effect being the player was banned from wearing the eyewear during the game. I’ve seen this same unpredictable judgements with both types of eyewear: athletic shields and athletic googles. We need some very specific instruction as to what is “Approved Eyewear.”

Who writes the laws relating to these matters? If there is a state and national governing body? If so, could you direct me to both?

USSF answer (July 23, 2003):
Player equipment is covered by the Laws of the Game, written by the International Football Association Board and promulgated by FIFA. Those Laws specify that a player may wear nothing that is dangerous to any player (including himself). The decision of the referee is final.

This answer from earlier this year may be of some help to you:
QUOTE
USSF answer (March 4, 2003):
In addition to this quote from the IFAB/FIFA Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (2000 edition), Law 4, Question 4, . . .
4. May a referee allow a player wearing glasses to play in a match?
If, in the opinion of the referee, the glasses are dangerous to the player himself, or to an opponent, he does not allow the player to take part in the match. Players Wearing Spectacles

Sympathy was expressed for players, especially young players, who need to wear spectacles. It was accepted that new technology had made sports spectacles much safer, both for the player himself and for other players.

While the referee has the final decision on the safety of players’ equipment, the Board expects that they will take full account of modern technology and the improved safety features of spectacle design when making their decision.

USSF Advice to Referees: Referees must not interpret the above statement to mean either that “sports glasses” must automatically be considered safe or that glasses which are not manufactured to be worn during sports are automatically to be considered unsafe. The referee must make the final decision: the Board has simply recognized that new technology has made safer the wearing of glasses during play.
UNQUOTE

If you need further information, you will find what every referee in the United States i