I have begun working games for another soccer association and the A/R uses a hand signal which I find unusual. On a close offside call the A/R will run down the touch with the flag in his outside hand and the other hand will be extended away from the body similar to a one armed advantage call. I assume they are doing this to inform me that the play was onside. Doesn’t the mere fact that they are following the ball down the touchline tell me that the play was onside. This is a new one and me and I would like your thoughts.USSF answer (May 2, 2007):
The extended hand is actually an old signal, one that was discouraged for a long time, calling it a “negative signal,” but which has come up again. There is nothing really wrong with it, but your reasoning is clearly absolutely correct. The matter has not come up since the answer below was published August 27, 2004:

There was a time (longer ago than 3-4 years, however) when negative signals or, more generally, any signals not specifically approved by FIFA or USSF and not described in the Guide to Procedures were discouraged. With the publication of the 1998 Guide to Procedures, that emphasis began to change. The 1998 Guide stated:Other signals or methods of communication intended to supplement those described here are permitted only if they do not conflict with established procedures and only if they do not intrude on the game, are not distracting, are limited in number and purpose, and are carefully described by the referee prior to the commencement of a match.

This included so-called “negative signals” (for example, the assistant referee indicating “no offside”). If the officiating team discussed such a signal ahead of time and it met the criteria, using it is okay so long as it is kept within reasonable limits. Remember, the purpose of any signal is to communicate so it must do that much at least.

USSF’s approach continues to follow this guideline. Even the occasional use of some gesture by the referee to indicate a handling offense or tripping is acceptable if, in the opinion of the referee, it is NEEDED FOR THIS PARTICULAR GAME to communicate essential information in a critical situation. “Negative” or non-standard signals should not become standard practice for every game.

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