We have three long tenured, hard headed referees sitting around after a match discussing what throw in signaling procedures the R and AR’s should perform and how. All disagree. So here we go:

What takes precedence: Laws of the Game or Guide to Procedures?

LOTG Referee Authority: In Law 5: “Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game ….”

LOTG Assistant Referee Duties: In Law 6 the two “assistant referees … duties (are) subject to the decision of the referee ….”

In Guide to Procedures: THROW-IN

• Referee’s End Of Touch Line: Referee “Signals stoppage of play (whistle only if necessary); Points 45 degrees upward to indicate direction of throw-in”. Assistant Referee “Provides confirming flag signal after referee indicates throw-in decision. If referee makes obvious eye contact to ask for assistance before indicating a decision, uses signal to establish direction which was agreed to in the pre-game conference, and then provides confirming throw-in flag signal after referee indicates decision.”

• Assistant Referee’s End Of Touch Line: Assistant Referee “Signals with flag 45 degrees upward in the direction of the throw-in”. Referee “Points in direction of throw-in only if assistant referee signal needs to be corrected due to unseen contact with the ball”.

May pre-game conference instructions from the Referee overrule the Guide to Procedure procedures?

Discussion points:
• There is a different sequence in Guide to Procedures to signaling throw-ins which is different in the Referee’s and the Assistant Referee’s ends of the field. Must these be strictly adhered to?
• If the Referee during the pre-game conference instructs the Assistant Referees that they must always seek eye contact with the Referee before signaling and:
– The Assistant Referee will always seek eye contact with the Referee before signaling.
– If no eye contact (choice of the Referee), the Assistant Referee should not signal.
-After eye contact, both the Referee and Assistant Referee will indicate their choice of throw-in direction by signaling discretely with the appropriate hand or arm/flag. Then Assistant Referee will signal (and choice of Referee is indicated, that is, by hand signal but not always pointing upward).
– It also appears to be common practice for the Referee to signal throw-in direction on most all throw-ins, that is, in contrast to the above procedure to only signal to correct the Assistant Referee’s signal for Assistant Referee’s End Of Touch Line.

Two of us enjoy the eye contact as an opportunity for teamwork, communication, and camaraderie.

One of us feels his duties as AR are being encroached and inappropriately limited, and wishes to strictly follow the Guide to Procedures.

Please give us your thoughts. The more detail, the better.

USSF answer (March 21, 2012):
The Guide to Procedures is all about, well, procedures (i.e., mechanics) and, as such, is always secondary to the Laws of the Game. The assistant referee should use the procedures and mechanics specified by the referee in the pre-game (and will carefully ask questions to ensure that any instructions which are out of the ordinary are well and truly understood). The Guide is, as it states in the Foreword, the source of officially-approved mechanics. They were developed by officials at the highest competitive levels, tested at all levels, and are assumed to incorporate the “best practices” in the covered situations. Please note the following final statement in the Foreword:
“Alternate signals, procedures, and methods of communication within the officiating team are not authorized for games under the jurisdiction of the United States Soccer Federation using the diagonal system of control.” (emphasis added).

What this means is that, where the Guide does not include a pertinent scenario, the officiating team is free to develop additional mechanics, but they must not (a) conflict with those already established in the Guide, (b) are not intrusive, (c) are not distracting, (d) are limited in number and purpose, and (e) are discussed within the team in advance. However, assistant referee should realize that, if instructed otherwise, they are to follow the referee’s requirements and trust that the discussion between the referee and the assessor after the match will be very interesting.