I was refereeing a U17 girls game. It seemed like every time a ball was played in to the half of one of my assistant referees, she raised her flag signaling offside. The team complained to me with about 5 minutes left in the half about the calls of this AR saying that she was signaling offside for people that were not interfering with play but were in an offside position. I explained to them that the AR was in the best position to make the call but that I would monitor it. I had waived one offside call off as well as an illegal throw-in signal that was given by this AR. With play going the opposite direction in the second half, I noted that only a quarter of the offside calls were being made by the AR compared to what the first AR was making.
How should a referee handle the situation where there is some doubt in the calls that the AR is making? If the AR is continually waived off, they could shut down and not call anything. There seems to be a fine balance in maintaining the cohesiveness of the referee team.
USSF answer (May 8, 2008):
You don’t tell us what your instructions to the assistant referees were before the game, so we cannot be certain whether or not this AR knew what was expected of her. As leader of the officiating team, the referee must establish during the pregame conference how the team will work and cooperate. If this is not done, then we can expect nothing but problems as the ARs fill the gap in the instructions by inventing their own. Did you attempt to make any adjustments during the halftime break? One way might have been to suggest to the AR that she should remember the requirements of the various Laws, such as active involvement for offside or position of the feet in Law 15 and not be overly picky.
Finally, you need to remember that part of what you said about offside is not quite correct: Although the AR is in the best position (usually) to judge offside POSITION, it is the referee who must make the final decision regarding offside INVOLVEMENT and this decision falls more heavily on the referee’s shoulders the farther away the play is from the AR.
If all else fails, then the final paragraph of Law 6 gives you all the information you need for such cases:
“In the event of undue interference or improper conduct, the referee will relieve an assistant referee of his duties and make a report to the appropriate authorities.”