I have a question dealing with mechanics. I was an AR on a game today and there was a moment of confusion at the goal line. An attacker played the ball to a teammate who was about three yards away and was just barely in an offside position when the ball was played. As the ball was traveling to the attacker, it deflected off a defender and went out of bounds, passing less than a foot away from the attacker who made an attempt to play the ball. The referee was in a bad position to judge offside and obviously was not aware that an offside infringement had occurred. I put my flag straight up to indicate the offside, and after making eye contact lowered the flag horizontally to indicate the middle of the field is where the infraction occurred. However, the referee who had seen the ball touch the defender, signaled for a corner kick because he thought I had called a goal kick. I quickly beckoned him over and told him an offside had occurred prior to the ball going out of bounds. From there, we sorted out what and where the restart would be.Although we were able to figure our way through this, is there any procedure that could have made this situation less confusing and more efficient? If I may offer my own personal thought, it seems logical to me that when the AR signals for the ball out of play on the goal line and he or she needs to raise the flag, he or she should raise it in the hand closest to the goal line (often the right hand) and then proceed to indicate either a corner kick or goal kick. On the other hand, if an AR needs to indicate offside, he or she should raise the flag vertically in the hand closest to the half line (often the left) and then proceed to signal which part of the field the offense occurred in. However, as I said, this is just my own personal opinion on the matter since the Guide to Procedures never says anything about specific hands the flag should be in.
I realize that this type of situation is probably rare, and even the action of calling the referee over to sort things out is probably adequate to resolve any problems. Nevertheless, it just seems to me that there should be a more effective and efficient way to do this so that the crew can look even more professional.
Thanks for your time in this probably trivial question.
USSF answer (June 18, 2007):
This is an excellent question, as similar problems arise frequently because referees do not give thorough instructions and ARs do not ask enough questions in the pregame conference. The Federation teaches that the AR should never flag for any infringement where it is obvious that the referee can see what happened. If this particular procedure had been discussed in the pregame conference, as it should have been, then the referee would have known that something else had happened. As you describe your signal, the referee would have recognized that an offside occurred before the ball was deflected out of play by the defender. In point of fact, the referee should have known the AR was signaling an offside, because he raised the flag straight up first. If the AR had been signaling “just” a goal kick, the AR would have signaled this by pointing the flag straight out immediately — pointing it straight up and then, after eye contact, pointing toward the goal area for a goal kick would have been correct only if the ball had indeed left the field for a goal kick and then been played back onto the field.