I appreciate the advice you have given on other situations. My friends and I have an interesting game situation, and we were hoping you could offer some guidance. Please see the email chain below (reformatted and re-ordered for clarity) for the original situation, as well as some of our attempts at answers.

[In summary, the problem was this:]

This happened in a youth game today:

The referee correctly stopped play for a deliberate pass back to the goalkeeper when the keeper picked up the ball while standing on the penalty spot. The referee incorrectly signaled for a penalty kick. The penalty kick was taken and a goal was scored without touching anyone except the kicker when the kick was taken. Before the kickoff was taken after awarding the goal, the referee realized that the wrong restart was awarded for the pass back.

1 – Should the goal count?
2 – What is the correct restart?

The substance of the three correspondents’ analysis was:
no goal; goal kick (or the original indirect free kick). In the end, they forwarded the problem to us.

Answer (May 29, 2007):
Sorry to disappoint, gentlemen, but the referee waited too long to correct the restart. Once the penalty kick (or whatever erroneous restart it may be) has been taken and the players and officials have all assembled for the kick-off (or corner or goal kick), then the previous restart is long past and cannot be recalled. The referee must include full details in the match report.


Question 1: The big question that I have is referee uniforms. I have talked with many referees, and thought myself. Those new Adidas Referee Uniforms are very nice, and give the referee some class. Do you know if the next uniform will be these, and when will we change to our next kits. Please pass this on round the office.

Question 2: During a corner kick, before the ball was kicked a player was fouling another player by pushing her away, not allowing her to defend her own goal. I told them to stop, and it worked. But is there any special change as in it is a DFK to the defending team or does the restart remain the corner kick?

Answer (May 26, 2007):
1. The design of the referee uniform is determined by the USSF Board of Directors, not the referees and not the referee department.

2. Once play has been stopped for an infringement, the restart may not be changed for any misconduct that occurs before the restart.


Law 5 states that the Referee is responsible for the Match Report.

1a. If a Referee needs or requests information from an Assistant Referee, or the Assistant Referee offers it, how is this information incorporated into a Match Report?

For example, does the Referee attach the ARs own report, or does the Referee re-write any written report given by the AR based upon the Referee’s discretion?

1b Are there any circumstances where Supplemental Reports are provided separately by Assistant Referees?

Answer (May 25, 2007):
The referee solicits information from the ARs in preparing a match report. The officials should compare notes and ensure that all information is reported accurately on the report. Generally, there would be only a single report.

In the case of misconduct against an official, fight or brawl, protest, or other special situation, an AR might prepare a separate report of what he(she) observed during an incident for submission. (The report may be requested by the competition authority.) That information would reflect only the view of the AR and should not be altered by the referee before submission. However, the substance of the report should be aligned with the information provided by the other officials in their reports.


I know that in a number of cases that if a team has too many men on the field, the “extra” player should be carded. However, I think that this normally applies to players who entered the field without the permission of the referee. My question has to do with proper procedure if the referee fails to follow proper substitution procedures and the result is 12 men on the field. (Yes, I know that referees should always use proper procedure for subs but, at least in my area, many do not.)A. For example, assume that two players are waiting at midfield to enter the game. At the next stoppage, the referee improperly signals for them to enter the game without waiting for two players to exit. There is some confusion and only one player exits the field. Then the referee signals for play to resume without counting the number of players on the field. In this case, once it is discovered that there are twelve players on the field, should anyone be carded? (Other than perhaps the referee!)

B. Similarly, if a team accidentally sends out twelve players to begin the second half, and the referee signals for play to begin without counting the number of players on the field, should anyone be carded when it is discovered that there is an extra man on the field?

It seems to me that neither of these situations call for a card since the player did not enter the field without the permission of the referee or attempt to deceive anyone, and his/her presence on the field was essentially validated by the referee. Could you please let me know what the proper USSF procedure would be in these instances – card or no card.

USSF answer (May 22, 2007):
Referees (and assistant referees) who fail to follow the procedures laid out in the Laws of the Game, the Advice to Referees, or the rules of the competition in which they referee deserve whatever problems this lack of professionalism brings them.

In both cases you describe, the intelligent referee–who appears not to be operating in either of the situations–will simply remove the offending player(s) from the field, perhaps issuing a verbal warning not to repeat the offense.

However, we must add a caveat, as most teams and players, whether for good or bad, know precisely what they are doing, especially as the age and experience of the players increase, and a simple warning may not be enough. Particularly in Case B, the team and its coach(es) know how many players should be in the game and who they are. Most coaches will notice the discrepancy on their own and ask the referee for permission to remove the extra player. If the extra player is discovered fairly early in the half, a warning should be enough. If the infringement has continued for some time, then a caution is deserved.

On the whole the answer lies in determining exactly WHY the situation arose in the first place, leaving aside not following proper procedures–see the first paragraph! Was it a case of the substitute coming onto the field when he knew he shouldn’t or a case of the (departing) player deliberately not leaving the field when he knew he should or was it simply an error?

Finally, referees and assistant referees–they must also accept part of the blame–who fail to follow procedures and persistently allow this sort of infringement of the Laws to go on should be sentenced to some hours in penance, doing community service.


Hello! I am trying to find an official document that describes the procedure the Match Officials must follow during the period between the end of the Overtime Period and before the beginning of the Kicks From The Penalty Mark phase. I read all the published docs on your web site, including the Guide To Procedures, the Advice to Referees, LOTG, Guide to Fourth Officials, as well as various Memoranda, but couldn’t find anything. Is it defined by the Rules of Competition?So far I have gotten two flavors from different “trustable” sources by word of mouth, but no one has been able to document their source:

Flavor #1: a) Immediately after the OT ends, all the players on the field must remain in the Center Circle; b) the coaches come onto the field to conference w/ the players and to bring them water, and then go back to their Technical Area; c) Regardless of what Goal the Referee chooses, the JAR always remains on the Center Circle, while the SAR is always the Line Judge.

Flavor #2: a) Immediately after the OT ends, all the players must remain on the field, but may approach their Technical Area to get water and receive instructions from their Coaches, who cannot enter the field, nor can the subs; b) when summoned by the Referee or the AR, the players must go into the Center Circle and remain apart from each other; c) the Line Judge will be determined based on what Goal the Referee decides to use (i.e. if it is the Goal closest to the JAR, then he/she becomes the Line Judge, etc.).

Also, some colleagues say to allow 2 minutes, while others say 3 or even 5 minutes before starting the KFM phase. Please respond ASAP.

USSF answer (May 22, 2007):
There is no standard procedure for conducting kicks from the penalty mark. Referees use common sense in preparing for this contingency. The amount of time between the end of regular play and the beginning of the kicks is set by the competition authority. The jobs of the assistant referees are determined by the referee. Players must remain on the field of play.

As a practical matter, one could also say that how the kicks from the penalty mark are run is a function of the level of the particular competition.


I have always been told that when a referee is red carded as a player that he isn’t allowed to referee or participate in any soccer related activity until he/she sits out red card the suspension. This has recently came up in our area and the referee contends that this is strictly a local policy enforced by the local playing association and he could referee any other place other than locally while sitting out the red card suspension. When I started trying to research this matter I can’t find anything in writing concerning suspension of referees (from refereeing games) while sitting out a red card received as a player. Can you shed some light on this matter one way or the other?USSF answer (May 22, 2007):
We are not aware of any formal guidelines in this situation. It would seem appropriate for the state association to govern such matters.


I am getting old and my knees aren’t working as well as they used to. What is the policy on referee’s wearing knee braces?USSF answer (May 21, 2007):
The referee may wear any equipment that meets the same standard as that for player’s equipment. I. e., it must be safe for all participants.


My state association has allowed a club to use an indoor facility for sanctioned outdoor matches. The pitch meets all the requirements as outlined in the laws, but the roof of the facility is somewhat low. I’m guessing that it is about 40-45 ft above the field. How should we deal with balls that strike the ceiling? Should we treat the roof as a pre-existing condition? The roof is a typical hangar/warehouse-type roof with rafters protruding down from the main ceiling. Allowing the ball to remain in play as it caroms around up there might lead to some very unfair and unpredictable situations.USSF answer (May 14, 2007):
Your league will have to come up with its own rules on this.


Our league is presently considering allowing non-English proficient referees to write send off reports in their native language, then have a translator (not specified as a referee in any event) rewrite said form in English for PAD action. Is there an issue here relating to USSF or FIFA guidelines?Our own league rules state that, and I quote from league rules:
3:07:05 Red card ejections cannot be protested. The PAD Committee will determine the penalty based on the report filed by the Referee officiating the game and any reports filed on behalf of any concerned party. However, no player will be allowed to appear before the Committee for this purpose unless agreed to by the working quorum present at that proceeding.

This seems clear to me that a report not filed by the referee himself, that is a report filed by a translator, cannot be used to determine what penalty, if any, should be meted out. And I have a hard time seeing how the “concerned party” clause could apply to translators. We can, of course, rewrite our own rules to allow such a procedure, but would we run afoul of understandings or rules contained within USSF or FIFA memoranda? I find nothing in Law 5 or Law 12 to guide this issue.

This area is full of pitfalls in my opinion, and I will argue those out in our venue, but your help in clarifying governing rules would be appreciated.

USSF answer (May 14, 2007):
There are no USSF policies on this particular situation. Match reports that are for the sole use of the local league may be dealt with as the league requires. If good, reliable translators are available, then the league will probably accept their work gladly. For matters that must go beyond the purview of the league, then you might wish to check with your state youth soccer association.


I was centering a U12Girls game when a loud unruly coach was given a warning midway into the first half. He quieted down till the end of the game. Afterward he came onto the field yelling and screaming. I told him I was going to take his card. He responded that I couldnt because it was after the game. (The kids were still on the field, and I hadnt budged from when the game ended) After back and forth arguing he went behind me while I spoke to the Assistant coach and got his cards from my linesman. I found this out and went to retrieve them, He refused to relinguish them to me. Our Disciplinary team said that since I didnt not show him a second yellow card that they cant discipline him. Is this so? Is there ever a time when a red card or someother form of disciplinary action can be imposed on a rogue coach after the fact?USSF answer (May 14, 2007):
The fact that the behavior occurred after the game is irrelevant. The referee retains full authority both to card (players, subs, etc.) and to order from the field (team officials) as long as the teams are still exiting and the referee is in the area of the field. All the rest of it is subject to local rule. If your league requires that you show cards to team officials–which is in contravention of the Laws of the Game, which limit cards to players, substitutes, and substituted players–then you must show a card.

Your only recourse would seem to be to submit a full report to both the competition (league, club, or whatever) and the state association, outlining precisely what happened.