During a recent U9 Boys Championship Match I was working, one end of the field was very muddy. On several instances, players would kick at the ground before a corner or goal kick, like they were attempting to tee the ball up. I gave a warning to both teams to stop. Of course neither coach agreed with this warning, saying their players needed the extra leverage due to the poor field conditions (although they players did stop). Does this fall under the ATR related to modification of the field? Thanks!

USSF answer (March 10, 2010):
By allowing play to begin following your inspection of the field, you accepted the condition of the field as safe and usable. To then punish the players for trying to do their best under those conditions is not entirely within the Spirit of the Game. However, the fact that the field is muddy should not be used to protect behavior which, if performed on a pristine field, would be worth a warning to stop it. Teeing the ball up is not permitted if it involves creating hills by scuffing the field. We would certainly warn a goalkeeper who is marking the field to HIS advantage — muddy or not. Exercise common sense in this situation.

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