While using the diagonal system of control is there anything that prevents a referee from using a right diagonal instead of a left?
While working a tournament I was told by a referee that has been in USSF for a while that I can not choose to run a right unless there is a good reason such as deteriorated field conditions where the AR’s would run in a left diagonal. Supposedly there was a directive put out by USSF on this matter but with about an hour or 2 of reading and searching couldn’t find anything on it. I did find one question on here that mentioned an EPL game answered on July 22, 2006 but it didn’t really answer it.
I had been choosing to run a right number 1, because I feel more comfortable in that pattern. The other reason I do it is players arent used to me being there and it keeps them on their toes by me being there when they don’t expect it.
Is there any documentation to support my preference or am I doing something that is prohibited.
USSF answer (June 11, 2009):
The “standard” diagonal for the referee is the one that runs from bottom right to upper left of the field, just as shown in the diagrams in the back of the Law book. However, there is no “rule” that says the referee cannot run the other direction instead. And that other diagonal may be the one best suited for either the personality of the referee and the conditions of the field, as you point out. If you wish to use the opposite diagonal, you are more than welcome to do so.
Referees should remember there is no actual fixed diagonal run. The “diagonal system of control” is simply a name for a way of ensuring proper coverage by the referee and the assistant referees for management of the game. According to the 2009-2010 edition of the Guide to Procedures, the referee’s positioning during play is flexible, using the diagonal system of control. The referee:
• Follows positioning diagram guidelines during play and at restarts but uses discretion to choose alternate positions when needed
• Able to observe active play and lead assistant referee
• Remains close enough to observe important aspects of play without interfering with player or ball movement
• Understands that attention may be needed elsewhere on the field to monitor behavior of specific players not actively involved with playing the ball
And, as you mentioned in your question, it is also practical to use the reverse diagonal due to the condition of the pitch (particularly the status of the AR’s patrol area) or, occasionally, to take an AR away from people (spectators or team).