I have a couple questions involving the setting of defensive walls based on occurrences I’ve seen in youth and adult matches. In a lot of adult matches in my area, when the whistle is blown for a foul, the defensive player takes his time getting up off the ground and then stands precisely in front of where the ball will be positioned. As often as not, he will be joined by a teammate. They may talk with each other, opponents, or the referee in what appears to me to be an effort to delay their leaving and simultaneously distract the referee from his/her mission at that point: To encourage a quick free kick, unencumbered by defenders within 10 yards of the ball. I’ve seen frequent instances where the referee tells them either by words or gestures to leave the vicinity repeatedly while the ball is being retrieved, and continue to do this with slow, partial compliance after the ball is positioned. Often the attackers do not ask for the 10 yards but the referee continues trying to move the defenders out, sometimes from a distance, sometime wading into the group and “pushing” them back (not physically touching them though). In these instances, the attackers will put the ball into play when they see that they’ve obtained a slight advantage due to a defender turning his head to see if he’s lined up properly with the goal, or turning his head to look at the referee and acknowledge the referee’s request to back out. Everybody seems to know what the games are at this point: The attackers’ game is to use the referee to distract the defenders and to put the ball into play when they see a good opportunity without waiting for the 10 yards. The defenders’ game is to get a good wall set up behind the player who is stalling the taking of the free kick. Surprisingly the defenders don’t complain that the referee was distracting them when the attackers get off the free kick, but then it seldom scores either. My lead question for you is “Just how long should the referee persist in trying to back out the defenders unbidden by the attackers?” I heard there was a memo some years back recommending that the referee should do this only until the ball was positioned, then to become an observer unless the attackers asked for the 10 yards. The advice to referees says (section 13.3) “The referee should move quickly out of the way after indicating the approximate area of the restart and should do nothing to interfere with the kicking team’s right to an immediate free kick. At competitive levels of play, referees should not automatically “manage the wall,” but should allow the ball to be put back into play as quickly as possible, unless the kicking team requests help in dealing with opponents infringing on the minimum distance.” So, should we not ask or demand that the defenders leave? Or should we desist at some set point unless the attackers ask for the 10 yards? That is not interfering with the attackers’ rights but it could be construed as interfering with the defenders’ rights (to not be distracted by officials). I know I took a lot of words to get to the point but this has been bugging me why so few fouls result in quick free kicks.My second question is in regard to the behavior of players in the properly set defensive wall. I don’t see this often and when I do, it typically is with girls and I chuckle but one of my colleagues has a sterner attitude. After the wall is set at the proper distance, the girls will have their arms on one another’s shoulders and they begin singing or dancing in unison, maybe kicking one foot high a la Can-Can. I watch the attackers and try to judge whether the defenders’ actions unfairly distracted the kicker. If I don’t see them visibly distracted, I let it go as a trifling infringement and let the girls have their fun. The coaches of the attackers usually want the defenders to be cautioned. My stern colleague doesn’t see much humor in the situation and usually tells the defenders to “knock it off!” Is there a standard response to this situation, or should one try to judge whether the defenders’ actions unfairly distract the kicker and act accordingly? If there is a standard response, what should it be?

Thank you for your insight into these situations. I’m a great fan of the advice you give.

USSF answer (January 3, 2007):
1. Defending team fails to retreat at restart:
Normally, we do instruct referees to allow the kicking team to take the kick quickly, if they wish, without interfering with it. However, if, in the opinion of the referee, the defenders are too close to the kick, he or she should avoid playing into the defenders’ hands and becoming an unwitting player on their team–the referee has done the work of the defense by delaying the restart of play and has not made the defenders pay any price for this benefit. Once the referee has decided to step in on your own initiative to deal with opponents who are “too close to the kick,” the threshold limit for a card has been met.

2. The wall as chorus line:
The referee must recognize that while members of the wall are allowed to jump about when opponents are taking a kick, choreographed actions that are unnatural and designed to both intimidate and to shock and distract their opponents constitute bringing the game into disrepute. As this occurred before the ball was in play, the correct call could be unsporting behavior on the part of the particular player whom the referee chooses from the chorus line. Caution and show the yellow card; restart with the free kick.


In looking at two different publications, each speaks of a slightly different restart, possibly, when a player attempts to play a ball that is in the possession of the keeper.The first comes from Advice to Referees…… section 12.16 and says………while the ball is in the possession of the keeper, it cannot lawfully be played by an opponent, and any attempt to do so may be punished by a direct free kick.

The second comes from Instructions for Referees and Resolutions………. section 5 – Offenses against Goalkeepers and says…… in (d) makes any play for the ball while the goalkeeper is still controlling it with the hands. Kicking or attempting to kick the ball held by the goalkeeper is considered to be dangerous play. Of the four subsections (a through d), there seems to be both direct and indirect restarts. Based on the ‘dangerous play’ text of (d), that sounds like an indirect restart.

Dangerous play is not one of the ten fouls that is restarted with a direct free kick, but rather indirect. Is the restart for this offense against the keeper a direct or indirect free kick. I would assume the kicking or attempting to kick a ball in the possession of the keeper is more consistent with a direct free kick restart.

USSF answer (January 3, 2007):
This dichotomy goes back to 1996 and was covered by Memorandum 1996, which said, in effect: The 1995 Law changes included the removal of the phrase “attempting to kick the ball while held by the goalkeeper” as an example of “dangerous play” and the Board explained its reason thusly: the example was deleted because “it is no longer an appropriate example since the introduction of the terms ‘careless’ and ‘reckless’ into the Law in 1995.”

To which the Federation added the following explanation:

ADVICE TO USSF REFEREES: The action of “attempting to kick the ball while held by the goalkeeper” previously described as an example of “playing in a manner considered by the referee to be dangerous” should now be deemed a major foul as it should be seen as a “careless” or “reckless” act punishable by a direct free kick under the 1995 changes in Law XII.

Regardless of what language is employed in the Instructions, this remain USSF’s position on the matter. Without wishing to seem naive, we would argue that in this instance the Instructions’ and IFAB’s phrase “dangerous play” is not intended to refer to “dangerous play” as that concept is used in Law 12’s reference to the various offenses punishable by an indirect free kick, but to the act of placing the opponent in grave danger through one’s actions. However that may be, it still comes down to the fact that the Federation has opted to declare that any attempt to kick a ball in the possession of the goalkeeper HAS to be considered the equivalent of kicking the goalkeeper since it is illegal to play a ball in the goalkeeper’s possession and thus the action must be directed toward the player–hence the seriousness of the offense. The Federation’s Instructions document for 2007 will include this meaning.


I would benefit from some further clarification as to when making contact with the opponent before touching the ball is acceptable and when it is not. The situation concerns U 13 players at the premiere level, so there is intent in this move. The move does not concern an individual player but is a reflection of the style of coaching as it is consistent for the team.Let me describe a typical situation. The ball is 5 yards in front of 2 opposing player that both run as fast as they can to the ball. The 2 players start out say 2 yards apart and converge as they approach the ball. They have an equal change of reaching the ball. Just before they get to the ball, player 1 steps in front of the ball in such a way as to shield it from player 2. This requires an aggressive burst of energy but does not harm player 2 other than that player 2 ends up running into the back to player 1. Then player 1 touches and plays the ball. When player 1 steps in front of player 2 her distance to the ball is such that she could barely touch the ball but certainly not control it yet. It is my perception that the first objective of player 1 is to prevent player 2 from reaching the ball and shielding it before playing the ball.

My question now is, since the 2 players collide and tackle each other and player 1 consistently makes contact with player 2 before playing the ball, is that a foul under law 12? What criteria for consideration could you point out to me so that the judgement of foul or fair play becomes easier?

USSF answer (January 3, 2007):
You would appear to be confusing two separate infringements of the Law. Let’s see if we can explain it a bit–but you will need to remember that only you, the referee, can make the correct decision in any given event.

Making contact with the opponent before touching the ball applies ONLY to tackling for the ball, not to a charging offense. “Tackling” means going for the ball on the ground, not shielding the ball or (illegally) impeding the opponent’s access to it. There is no other prohibition on fair and reasonable contact with an opponent in competing for the ball.

Here are two citations from the 2006 edition of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the laws of the Game” that may be helpful:

Making contact with the opponent before the ball when making a tackle is unfair and should be penalized. However, the fact that contact with the ball was made first does not automatically mean that the tackle is fair.Ê The declaration by a player that he or she has played the ball is irrelevant if, while tackling for the ball, the player carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force commits any of the prohibited actions.

A foul committed while tackling an opponent with little or no concern for the safety of the opponent shall be cause for the player to be sent from the field and shown the red card for serious foul play.


“Impeding the progress of an opponent” means moving on the field so as to obstruct, interfere with, or block the path of an opponent. Impeding can include crossing directly in front of the opponent or running between the opponent and the ball so as to form an obstacle with the aim of delaying progress. There will be many occasions during a game when a player will come between an opponent and the ball, but in the majority of such instances, this is quite natural and fair. It is often possible for a player not playing the ball to be in the path of an opponent and still not be guilty of impeding.

The offense of impeding an opponent requires that the ball not be within playing distance and that physical contact between the player and the opponent is normally absent. If physical contact occurs, the referee should, depending on the circumstances, consider instead the possibility that a charging infringement has been committed (direct free kick) or that the opponent has been fairly charged off the ball (indirect free kick, see Advice 12.22). However, nonviolent physical contact may occur while impeding the progress of an opponent if, in the opinion of the referee, this contact was an unavoidable consequence of the impeding (due, for example, to momentum).


I am having problems with one area of the ATR. It is on page 64 and it refers to the ball being played backwards by the kicker. How do I explain that if the ball is not in play, the referee can change the restart from penalty kick to an indirect free kick? Also, if a player other than the kicker takes the kick, it results in an indirect free kick for the opponents. Again, we are taking a kick restart and changing it during a time when the ball is not legally in play. Was this a position paper and I missed it?

USSF answer (January 3, 2007):
In its infinite wisdom, the IFAB has chosen to set aside, at least in respect of Law 14, the tradition that an offense that occurs when the ball is not in play cannot affect the restart. For the reason for the change in the 2006 edition of the Advice to Referees, see the Laws of the Game 2006, Law 14:

If the referee gives the signal for a penalty kick to be taken and, before the ball is in play, one of the following situations occurs:The player taking the penalty kick infringes the Laws of the Game:
– the referee allows the kick to proceed
– if the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken
– if the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts the match with an indirect free kick to the defending team, from the place where the infringement occurred.
A team-mate of the player taking the kick infringes the Laws of the Game:
– the referee allows the kick to proceed
– if the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken
– if the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts the match with an indirect free kick to the defending team, from the place where the infringement occurred.
//rest deleted//


now i am grade 9 ref im going to get upgraded but my question is when i ref games and there is a player down cause this happens a lot on minor injuries instead of blowing my whistle all the time i try to get players to play the ball out you know fifa fair play and then get the other team to throw the ball back to them is this bad?USSF answer (December 12, 2006):
No, this is not bad, but neither is it sanctioned under the Laws of the Game. The referee has no authority to direct the players to put the ball out of play or to tell them to play it back in to the other team to restart.

It is the job of the referee to stop play for injury, regardless of what players may or may not do, only if a player is, in the referee’s opinion, seriously injured–keeping in mind the age of the players. There are considerable practical differences between the referee stopping play for a serious injury and players stopping play for what they believe is an injury. If the players do it on their own, there is little the referee can do to control it, at least as the Laws read now.


This issue came up during recertification when talking about gaining an advantage by being in an offside position.How is parry defined as it applies to goalkeeper possession?

From Decision 2 in Law 12, it seems apparent that a parried ball by a goalkeeper constitutes possession. So if the ball was parried by a goalkeeper and next touched by a player who had been in an offside position when the shot was taken, it would seem that the player would not be offside.

The discussion then turned to what was a parry. Some thought a parry required that the ball be knocked to the ground while others thought that any deliberate (and controlled) touch of the ball by the keeper was a parry (as in fisting or punching a ball away from the goal).

Laws, ATR and Q&A were checked but no reference seems to exist. Can you provide guidance?

USSF answer (December 12, 2006):
See the definition of “possession” in Law 12, IFAB Decision 2:

“The goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball by touching it with any part of his hand or arms. Possession of the ball includes the goalkeeper deliberately parrying the ball, but does not include the circumstances where, in the opinion of the referee, the ball rebounds accidentally from the goalkeeper, for example after he has made a save.”

To “parry” the ball is to handle the ball deliberately, pushing it to a place where the goalkeeper may play it to more advantage. By parrying the ball, the goalkeeper has done two things: (1) established possession and (2) given up possession. The ball is now free for all to play. The six-second rule has no further application in this situation.

So, in answer to your question, no, if the goalkeeper has clearly established possession by parrying the ball, rather than simply deflecting it in a “save,” then the opposing player cannot be declared offside.


My question is if 12 players are on the field of play and a goal is scored, what must the ref do either if the game has started for one minute after the kick off and the 12th player is noticed or the game has not restarted from a kick off after the goal is scored.USSF answer (December 12, 2006):
In all cases the extra player is removed and cautioned (unless an outside agent) for unsporting behavior.

If the extra player is discovered only after the ball has been kicked off, the goal counts. The game is restarted in accordance with the Law–i. e., if it went out of play, the restart is a throw-in, corner kick, goal kick, or free kick, depending on the reason the ball was out of play. If the referee stopped play, it is an indirect free kick from the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.

If the extra player is discovered BEFORE the kick-off, the goal is canceled only if the extra player was on the scoring team or if the extra person was an outside agent who, in the opinion of the referee, did not in any way interfere with play or any player. The restart is determined by who the extra “player” was. If it was an outside agent–not a player or a substitute or substituted player–the restart is a dropped ball at the top of the defending team’s goal area. If it was a player who had left the game with the referee’s permission but re-entered without permission , the restart is an indirect free kick for the defending team, to be taken from within their goal area. If it was a substitute who had entered without the referee’s permission, the restart is an indirect free kick to be taken from the defending team’s goal area.

2006 Part 4

Your question:
Situation: A blue team attacker is guilty of an offside infraction, and the AR puts up his flag to signal the offside. Since the infraction occurred near the far touchline away from the AR, the CR has his back to the AR and does not notice that the ARÕs flag is straight up. The red team kicks the ball out, and the CR awards a throw-in to the blue (attacking) team. The blue team quickly takes the throw in while the AR is still standing on the far side of the field unnoticed by the CR.
Question: Should the AR (a) put down his flag after the blue team throw-in or (b) keep his flag raised until he is seen by the CR or the ball clears the red teamsÕ half of the field?

USSF answer (December 4, 2006):
The assistant referee should keep the flag raised in this case–and the referee should be ashamed not to have maintained communication (eye contact) with the assistant. In addition, the AR at the other end of the field should also be ashamed to have missed the flag and not “mirrored” it to the referee.

Your question:
IÕm hoping you can help resolve a topic thatÕs gotten much discussion on a number of referee forums as of late. In the 2006 USSF Advice to Referees (ATR), item 11.3 #3 states that a player can become onside when ÒAn opponent intentionally plays or gains possession of the ballÓ. The question that has been raised is that playing the ball and possession of the ball are conspicuously separate items in this clause and seem to be two different things. Therefore, what is required to rule that a player has Ògained possessionÓ. Is contact with the ball specifically a requirement? Consider the following scenario.

A red attacker is in an offside position near the center of the field (obviously in the attacking half) when the ball is kicked by a teammate from the defending half deep into the attacking half. The ball comes to a complete stop just outside the PA. The attacker knowing he is offside makes no play or chase on the ball and the opposing kicker comes and stands over the ball without touching it. The keeper stands there for some time (for argument sake, figure 3-4 seconds) until finally the attacker that had been offside makes a charge at the ball to force the keeper to make a play. Can the keeper be determined to have gained possession and therefore the attacker is now onside or should the attacker be called for offside?

USSF answer (November 30, 2006):
If there is no physical control of the ball there is no possession. Offside. To force the defender to play the ball, just have an attacker from an onside position start challenging.

As to “conspicuously separate” items, someone will always find (nonexistent) fault when a statement contradicts his or her own opinion.

Your question:
Issuing Cards: I usually center about U12-U16 games in Recreation level, and U12-U13/14 games in comp (with the exception of a forced U15 comp game I had to center).

My real question is this, in the recreation level games, lets say U16, how would you go on about giving a yellow card? I have given cards in Comp games, and only 2 times in Rec level U14 boys games. But in Rec, do you warn once, then warn that you will card, then card? Or just warn, then card? Help!

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
If the offense deserves an immediate caution, you may caution first without any warning. You would temper your decision based on the skill and developmental level of the players. Complete guidance is contained in the USSF publication “Cautions and Cautionable Offenses,” downloadable from the website. A condensed version of the philosophy on cautions is contained in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” and is cited here to help in your decision making:
The Laws of the Game identify seven cautionable offenses (Law 12). These include fairly specific actions (leaving the field without the permission of the referee), very general actions (unsporting behavior), and highly judgmental areas (dissent). In all cases, the referee is expected to evaluate a playerÕs behavior based on several factors:
– Does the act meet the generally accepted and understood meaning of the offense?
– Was the act, even if an offense, trifling?
– Would the issuance of a caution for this misconduct likely have desirable results for game and/or player management?
If the playerÕs act meets the criteria for the offense, is not trifling, and its punishment will have a salutary effect, the caution should be given. Whether the referee should stop play to do so or whether play should be allowed to continue until the next stoppage involves the application of the same advantage concept that is used to decide whether to stop play for a foul.

Every caution must be given for one and only one of the seven reasons listed in Law 12. Player behavior, of course, may involve several forms of misconduct at the same time and the referee must decide whether to caution each one separately (in which case, the second caution must also be followed by a send-off and display of the red card) or to issue a single caution for the total behavior. If the latter is chosen, the referee must decide which specific reason in the Law will be reported as the basis for the caution. In either case, however, the referee should fully describe in the game report all misconduct the player has committed in addition to the misconduct for which the caution was given.

Whether a caution is “mandatory” or “discretionary” is often discussed among referees, but the use of these terms tends to obscure the primary issues central to handling misconduct and should therefore generally be avoided. The Laws of the Game require that the referee further decide whether the misconduct is not trifling and that the caution will result in a desirable change in player conduct. The refereeÕs judgment (discretion) is a critical element in deciding, for example, whether what a player has just said or done is dissent within the meaning of Law 12 and guidance from USSF (see the USSF memorandum on “Misconduct Involving Language/Gestures,” dated March 14, 2003). If the referee decides that it is “dissent,” then the offense must be considered cautionable, but this does not mean that the yellow card must be displayed.

The referee must then make a second decisionÑin this particular case involving this particular player at this particular point in the match, based on the way the match has proceeded so farÑas to whether or not the dissent is trifling and whether or not displaying the card would have a positive effect on this player’s behavior and the behavior of the other players in the game. Each caution must be approached in this way as a combination of mandatory and discretionary elements. In no case may a caution (or send-off) be delayed beyond the next restart. It must be given as soon as play is stopped, even if this means preventing a team from taking advantage of a quick restart (if the kick is taken, it must be called back and not taken until the delayed card is shown). No alteration of this procedure is permitted.

We might add that there are a few cautions for which, unless the action is really blatant and cynical, it is generally better to warn a player first before giving the card for persistent infringement (else how is the player to know how many offenses the referee may consider “persistent”) or for delaying the restart of play (else how is the player to know when the “extra” time he is taking to restart is riding the edge of impermissible delay). However, such warnings must never include any “if you do X, I will caution” sort of threat, as this is counterproductive, restricts the referee’s flexibility, and sounds foolish.

Your question:
Should a referee threaten a coach with ejection for interfering with his ability to “call” the gameÊwithout explaining how that interference occurred? Are coaches allowed to yell hands or offsides during a game? Are not cautions and warnings to be issuedÊat the moment of the offence or next stoppage of play so as to be in context?ÊÊIs a ref allowed to declare the game a forfeit after ejecting a coach?

This involves aÊU 13 Rec league semi final game?

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
Referees should never threaten anyone with anything; that is a poor management technique and can only lead to greater problems. The referee should present the coach or other antagonist with options, but not with threats. Nor must the referee explain any calls to the coach or any other team official. Any necessary details will be contained in the match report.

Coaches and other team officials are allowed to behave responsibly. If, in the opinion of the referee, they behave irresponsibly, they can be expelled from the field and its environs. Constantly yelling “hands” and “offside” is a form of intimidation towards the referee and might be considered irresponsible behavior by the thin-skinned referee. Nor should referees be cautioning (or showing any cards to) coaches unless it is specifically required by the rules of the competition.

No referee can ever declare any game a forfeit. The referee can only declare a game abandoned or terminated and then provide full details in the match report to the competition authority, the only body competent to make a decision on the result of the game.

Your question:
Sometimes kids do the strangest things – and I was not sure of the answer.

Boys U9. The GK of Team A makes a save in front of his goal mouth. All of Team B’s field players, anticipating a long punt, retreat into their own half of the field (U9 appropriate size field). The Team A GK the throws the ball in a high, arching manner toward the top of of PA. He runs under the ball, catches it in the air (it never strikes the ground); and, while inside the PA and under 6 seconds, punts the ball deep into Team B’s territory.

According to ATR 12.16, second sentence “Possession is given up if, while throwing the ball into the air, it is allowed to strike the ground.” However, the next sentence indicates “… handling extends from the shoulder to tips of the fingers.

So, is the GK guilty of releasing the ball into play by throwing it in the manner he did, and, therefore guilty of a double touch when he caught it? Or, is the GK still in possession of the ball and permitted to do what he did?

Another element also needs to be addressed. If there were an attacking player standing near the edge of the PA could he attempt to make a play on the ball (as noted in ATR 12.17), or is he guilty of interfering with a GK in possession of the ball?

I must admit that I was bedazzled by the whole thing. Why couldn’t the GK have run to the edge of the PA with the ball tucked under his arm and made my life simple?

I am not entirely sure why I made the call I did, but I called the GK for a doubleÊtouch and awarded an IFK the the opponentsÊinside the PA.ÊÊThe opposingÊcoach agreed that the ball had been released into play. The coach of the GK said he never relinquished possession.

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
As long as the goalkeeper is simply throwing the ball into the air, not allowing it to hit the ground, and the time remains within the 6 seconds limitation, what does it really matter how far he is throwing the ball? ÊIt is not being unfairly withheld from challenge by the opponents and we cannot see what unfair advantage the ‘keeper is gaining from such a long throw. In fact, one could argue that the ‘keeper is at a higher risk of losing possession by failing to make the catch.

The answer to the second question is equally simple–no opponent is allowed to challenge for the ball while it is merely being thrown into the air while retaining possession and in the process of releasing the ball into play.

Your question:
There seems to be two different opinions in our state on where the proper position is for the AR when the ball is to be kicked on the far side corner. One opinion is that the referee should stand directly behind the corner flag, the other that the AR may take a few steps in on the goal line to have a Òbetter lookÓ when the ball comes into play. Could you render your opinion and is there a right and wrong position for AR corner kicks, far side?

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
The correct procedure for the assistant referee at a corner kick on the referee’s side of the field is given in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials”:
Assistant Referee
– Moves to the near corner and takes position on the goal line behind the flag
– Signals only if referee makes eye contact to ask for assistance
– If the ball passes out of play and immediately returns to the field, signals with a vertical flag until acknowledged by the referee, then points flag 45 degrees downward toward the near corner
– Steps upfield from goal line to avoid pointing the flag off the field
– Following the kick, recovers to the offside position as quickly as possible

Your question:
Although this seems to be a very basic question, when I went to research it, I could not easily find anything directly on point.

Here was the scenario I had in a recent U-14 game. Player takes a throw-in directly down the touchline. It hits the line and then bounces out of touch. My training has been that the line becomes part of the area which it contains – so that from the point of view of a throw-in (ball coming from out of field of play into the field of play), the line is out of the field of play. Therefore, the whole of the ball must pass over the whole of the line for the ball to “enter the field of play”. Therefore, I ruled that the throw-in be taken over since the ball had never entered the field of play. Of course, the opposite team’s coach (who was a few yards from the play on that side of the field) said “But it hit the line, then went out of play! It should be a throw-in the other way”.

Please clarify who was correct.

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
The ball is in play from a throw-in as soon as it breaks the plane of the touchline–and has been released by the thrower. There is no need for the whole of the ball to break the plane of the line. In this case the coach was absolutely correct: the throw-in should have been awarded to the team that did not take the throw-in.

Your question:
Have looked in the LOTG/Advice/Guide to Proced/past Memorandums and cannot find the source for this:
While following the ball to the goal line, it is quite often impossible to keep up with the ball, especially at higher levels of play….the ball simply rockets across the goal line, while the AR is 20-30yds out or so with 2nd to last defender.

Everyone knows that it’s a goal kick. The Center ref often announces it verbally and with the hand signal…but must the Center wait until the AR runs all the way to the goal line in situations like this….which is a major waste of precious playing time for players while it holds up the Center Ref’s signaling too—if they are to make the signal at same time….

or, should the Center simply go ahead with his/her signal, ignoring the fact that the AR hasn’t gotten down there yet….pretty much ignoring the whole process?

Common sense, our Law 18, and common practice for many in this situation is to stop advancing toward the goal line and provide the goal kick signal…usually in tandem with the Center….then to proceed to the appropriate position for the restart. But, if already close to the goal line when this happens, to quickly move to goal line before giving the signal.

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
Assuming a standard pregame in accordance with the Guide to Procedures and other traditional guidelines, the AR has primary responsibility for “his” end of the touchline and “his” side of the goal line. If the ball crosses these parts of the perimeter lines, the AR is expected to signal. If the referee sees no reason to disagree, the AR’s signal may in fact be the only indication of the restart.

We all understand that, as play becomes more skilled and competitive, the AR may find himself caught out of position (though we should all strive to be at the goal line when the ball crosses it). Should this be the case, the AR has two choices–stop wherever he is when the ball leaves the field and give the appropriate signal or continue on to the goal line and then signal. Common sense suggests that the AR does the latter if he is close to the goal line but does the former when he is farther away. Notice that these choices do not include “doing nothing” beyond expecting the referee to signal. Do not assume that “everyone knows” anything … and even if the referee does know what the correct restart should be, he is (or should be) waiting to see what the AR does.

So, if caught a couple of yards off the goal line when the ball crosses it for a goal kick or corner kick, continue on to the goal line and signal the correct restart. If caught more than, say, 3-4 yards up field, stop there, signal, make eye contact with the referee to ensure the signal was seen and understood, and then take up the correct position for the restart.

Your question:
A tournament semi-final match ends 0-0 and goes to penalty kicks by rules of the tournament. On one of the penalty kicks, the goalkeeper dives to his right and stops the ball, clearly gaining possession as the ball rests on the goal line, clearly not completely over the goal line. As the keeper rises to his feet with the ball in his hands, he steps slightly backward so that all of the ball is over the goal line. Is this counted as a successful penalty kick for the player who took the kick, or does the penalty kick end when the keeper has clear possession of a stationary ball that is not over the goal line?

Same situation, except the penalty kick deflects off the keeper without the ball crossing the goal line, the ball goes high in the air, hits the ground about 20 feet away from the goal, but due to extreme spin the ball bounces over the goal line into the goal. Is the penalty kick successful or did the penalty kick end when the keeper deflected the ball away from the goal?

Same situation, but when the keeper deflects the ball, the ball goes hard back to the kicker, deflects off his knee, and goes into the goal. Is the kick successful or did the penalty kick end at some point during this exchange?

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
The penalty kick or kick from the penalty mark is not completed until the referee declares it so, and the referee should not declare the kick to be completed if there is any possibility that it is still in play.

In other words, if, in the opinion of the referee, the motion of the ball had stopped completely and clearly, then it makes no difference where the ‘keeper carried the ball. If the ball had not stopped, then the kick was still in progress and a goal could still be scored, even if this was caused solely by an error of the goalkeeper.

The answer to your third question is easier: In kicks from the penalty mark, the kicker may not play the ball again after kicking it. Nor may any other member of the kicker’s team play the ball in any way after it has been kicked.

Your question:
A question has come up in an international referee’s forum about the following situation:
A referee mistakenly signals the end of the game ten minutes early, probably by three short blasts on his whistle and pointing to the center spot. When the mistake is pointed out to him, he chooses not to restart, but rather to file a complete report to the competition authority. As a result, the game must be replayed.

Participants in the forum are of two minds. One group points to Law 5 and the fact that a referee cannot change his decision once there is another restart or he has terminated the match. This group feels that the whistle and signal constitute termination.

The second group believes that, if he wanted to, the referee could have determined, upon learning of his mistake (and so long as the referee team and the competing teams were still present), that it was an inadvertent whistle and restarted with a dropped ballÊfrom the point of the game where it was stopped. In this view, it was an error, not an actual termination that occurred.

Is there one correct answer to this situation, or maybe two? Thanks in advance for your answer.

USSF answer (November 17, 2006):
This excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” should answer your question:
If the referee ends play early, then the teams must be called back onto the field and the remaining time must be played as soon as the error is detected. The halftime interval is not considered to have begun until the first period of play is properly ended. If the ball was out of play when the period was ended incorrectly, then play should be resumed with the appropriate restart (throw-in, goal kick, etc.). If the ball was in play, then the correct restart is a dropped ball where the ball was when the referee incorrectly ended play (subject to the special circumstances in Law 8).

If a period of play (first half or first overtime period) was ended prematurely and this fact was not discovered until the next period of play had been started, the referee will complete the match using the correct length of time for the period of play as prescribed by the competition authority and then include full details of the error in the match report.

Your question:
I just finished the recently released playoff rules for our upcoming league playoff games. I am concerned about the method of determining a winner in the championship game. I have pasted the rule below directly from the website.

1. Final games tied at the end of regulation play two full ten minute overtimes switching goals at the end of the first period of overtime. NO SUDDEN DEATH/GOLDEN GOAL.
2. Final games tied at the end of the two overtime periods will play two five minute overtime periods with the regulation number of players on the field. NO SUDDEN DEATH/GOLDEN GOAL. During these overtime periods – ALL PLAYERS ARE FIELD PLAYERS – NO player (goalkeeper) may use their hands. The exception to the “No Hands Rule” is in the event of a violation resulting in a penalty shot, a player may be designated as the goalkeeper and may use his hands during the penalty shot only If there is no score on the penalty shot, play will continue without the use of hands.
3. Final games tied at the end of the two five minute “No Hands” overtime period will result in co-champions.

I am of the opinion that this No Keeper/No Hands rule violates the Laws of the Game, as it is required that one player from each team be designated as a goalie. I have decided that if asked, I will turn down any assignment to call a game that is to be played under these rules.

My question is, am I correct that this rule is contrary to the Laws of the Game? If so can a referee be disciplined by the USSF for calling a game like this? Can the league be disciplined for instituting this rule? The league is associated with the USSF through US Youth Soccer.

USSF answer (November 7, 2006):
A referee cannot be disciplined for refereeing a game in accordance with the rules of the competition. Simply report the matter to the state association and then forget about it. It is up to the state association to make sure its leagues and tournaments are conducted in accordance with FIFA Laws of the Game. As you point out, the Laws state that each team MUST have a goalkeeper.

It’s always possible that this decision by the USYS has not made its way down to the local tournaments yet

Your question:
As part of my referee training, I have been taught that, particularly in youth soccer, I can consider sanctioning a coach if he is abusive to his players, by words or actions.

But can a player be considered to bring the game into disrepute for being abusive to their coach?

I recently reffed a U12B select game. The coach did a fair amount of criticizing and lamenting the actions of his players, but nothing that I considered even close to excessive, and none of the players seem to be seriously affected by his words. One player, however, eventually had enough of his coach’s constant criticism of him, and told the coach to “shut up”.

After my initial thought of mild amusement at the irony of a player giving the coach a little of what he was getting, I began to contemplate whether the player can bring the game into disrepute in this manner, and if so, what level of words or actions would be required to consider sanction?

USSF answer (October 31, 2006):
The intelligent referee will generally disregard coaching comments, unless they become openly disrespectful of the game and of the referee. In that case, an admonition to the coach is in order, noting that if this activity continues, the coach will be expelled for irresponsible behavior– an offense for which the referee may expel the coach or any other team official in the team area. (No cards to be shown, unless the rules of the competition permit or require it.)

When coaches begin to abuse their players, this is irresponsible behavior and the referee must act immediately.

Proactive steps such as the admonition of the coach will usually prevent players who become disgusted with their coach’s behavior from acting out and thus becoming subject to punishment themselves.

If the player does in fact act as you described, this is at least in part because you did not do your job correctly. However, if the language was abusive, rather than simply unsporting behavior, the only thing to do is to send the player off for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures.

As to what bringing the game into disrepute means in the normal course of the game, this answer of September 7, 2006, should give you all the information you need: “Bringing the game into disrepute ” means doing something that is totally counter the spirit of the game, which is meant to be played fairly and in a sporting manner.Ê Such acts show a lack of respect for the game, e. g., aggressive attitude, inflammatory behavior, deliberately kicking the ball into one’s own goal or taunting.

Your question:
This question is related to what is the proper position for a center referee during active play. I have looked at the Power Point presentation and re-read the Guide to Procedures that are available on the website and don’t see advice for the exact scenario I am concerned with. The item that is closest to the situation is a throw-in by the attacking team on the AR’s side of the field. This issue came up during a U-19 Boys match. The coach of the attacking team thought his attacker was fouled, and was very adamant I was not in the proper position to see the foul. The apparent foul occurred with-in a few yards of the AR, and the AR did not believe a foul occurred. The attacker did have an ankle injury during the play, and when play was stopped for the injury the coach was very vocal in his displeasure with my position during the play, and the lack of a call.Ê

The scenario is the attacker has the ball near the touch-line on the AR’s side of the field, moving towards the end-line, about 20 yards from the end-line with a single defender. The other players are in the area of the penalty box, or are trailing the play by 20 or more yards. I was trailing the play by 4 or 5 yards, on the back side of the goal so I could keep the play, the players in the penalty area, and my AR all in view, as well as avoid being in the way of the play. I believe this is the proper position for the situation, but am willing to be told otherwise, as this position is a fair distance from where the ball was.

USSF answer (October 31, 2006):
Lesson the First: Coaches are in the game solely to promote only one thing, the interests of themselves and their team. Put little credence in their complaints.

Lesson the Second: If the referee didn’t see it and the assistant referee didn’t see it (or the fourth official, if one is assigned), it didn’t happen, no matter how much the coach or anyone else may complain.

Lesson the Third: As to positioning,remember the “Magic Formula” described in the PowerPoint presentation, x = a + b + c. It is there for a purpose, to show you where to be and when and why to be there.

Lesson the Fourth: No matter how thoughtful the position, things can still happen on the field that we (all officials) will miss–live with it. Our job in positioning is to OPTIMIZE (not guarantee) the likelihood that we will see what needs to be seen. If you want guarantees, go into something more certain–like options trading.

Lesson the Fifth: When the ball is being played on the far touchline, it would be appropriate to be more to the center of the field based on what you say your position was. You were too far away from play. You must be in the position you need to be in to get the call right.

Your question:
Is there a distance requirement on how far back from the touch lineÊa thrower may throw the ball in? For instance may a thrower throw the ball in from 10 yards back from the touch line at a point perpendicular to the spot where the ball went out?

USSF answer (October 31, 2006):
The correct answer will be found in the Advice to Referees:
Although the throw-in is to be taken “from the point where [the ball] crossed the touch line,” this requirement is satisfied if the restart occurs within approximately one yard (one meter) of this location, farther upfield or downfield or back from the touch line. A throw-in taken beyond this limit is an infringement of Law 15.

Your question:
A question came up in a game about the proper sequence in the order of issuing cards and I can’t find the immediate answer in the guide of officals etc.
The question is: Is it proper to issue an ejection first then a caution to the second player in an incident? The incident Player A Team A elbowed to the face player B Team B. Player B retaliated with a push to player A. Please advise.

USSF answer (October 31, 2006):
You first issue the card that is most needed to defuse the situation and prevent further escalation. In the absence of a need to defuse a tense situation, the normal order is to issue a card first to the player who committed the first misconduct and to follow in the order in which the misconduct behaviors occurred. You then record both or issue one and record, issue the second and record.

Your question:
I was doing the center and one of my AR’s decided to cancel on a short notice. In any case I had to use the club line for two games. First game, it went fine (it was G13), second game (G14) one of the clubs was doing offside trap, and I decided to switch sides of ARÊand club linesman after the half, so my AR would be on the side where defense ran the trap (to make my life easier). Coach of the other team, of course, went against it (explaining that by doing this I would give advantage to another team), and I never went with the switch.

Now my question is: can I switch positions of my AR’s after the half or not??

USSF answer (October 31, 2006):
Yes, you may switch the positions of the assistant referees at any time you wish. However, the club linesman is not an AR and should not be treated as such.

If you wish to dispense with the club linesman and make more use of the neutral AR, that is fine. Then put that AR on the side you wish covered best and orient yourself to cover the rest of the field. You are the only one who can use a whistle.

Your question:
I’m a Grade 8 ref who does mostly 12-16 yr old games. When I do the center, how do you recommend I keep track of the player who fouls repeatedly? I’ve started writing down the fouling player’s number. What do you think? Do most grade 8 refs let this go at these age levels? One instructor at a local training session said he never cards under age 13.

USSF answer (October 31, 2006):
Writing down the number is good, but do not delay the game to do this. That is why it is important to learn to keep it in your head. Many referees are lax in punishing persistent infringement, and this gets them into trouble during the game.

A referee who never cards under age 13 is unlikely to be successful at those levels. Nor is that official making the work easier for the referee who follows him or her. Neither is the referee who “doesn’t card under 13” honoring his or her duty to protect the safety, fairness, and enjoyment of the players. ÊBased on age of players, the issue is not WHETHER to card but HOW to card–the technique for carding young players can differ significantly from how it is done at older age levels.

it is good to write down the numbers you should clarify that the referee should not delay the game to do this, which is why it is important to learn to keep the information in your head.

Your question:
During a game that i was refereeing recently, a player was on a break-away, dribbled past the keeper and just before the ball crossed the goal line, got down on the ground and attempted to head the ball into the goal, however the ball crossed the goal line before he made contact with his head. I counted the goal and yellow carded the player for usb. Was this the correct decison or should i have not counted the goal, cautioned the player and restarted with an IFK because the USB occured before the ball crossed the goal line. If his attempt to head the ball across the goal was successful should the situation be handled differently?

USSF answer (October 11, 2006):
Although the attempt to head the ball was unsuccessful, the player must be cautioned for unsporting behavior (taunting the opponent); restart with the kick-off.

If the attempt had been successful, caution for unsporting behavior (taunting) and restart with an indirect free kick to the defending team, taken from the place where the misconduct occurred (bearing in mind the special circumstances outlined in Law 8.

Your question:
A defender passes the ball within his own penalty area. The ball is about to be poked in to the empty net by an attacker when the goalkeeper grabs the ball. You blow the whistle for an indirect free kick. What do you do next?
a) Award a yellow card to the goalkeeper
b) Award a red card to the goalkeeper
c) Nothing. Just award the indirect free kick and ensure that it is taken correctly.

in this case the goalkeeper prevented an obvious goal scoring opportunity – what is the right answer – this happened in my game the other day

USSF answer (October 11, 2006):
If a player deliberately kicks the ball towards his (or her) own goalkeeper and the goalkeeper deliberately handles the ball, thus denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity, the restart is an indirect free kick from where the offence occurred, bearing in mind the special circumstances covered in Law 8.

If the referee believes that the goalkeeper knew that without this illegal intervention, the ball would enter the goal, the referee could take action. The goalkeeper’s action could be considered as unsporting behavior. The argument would be that the goalkeeper could have chosen not to handle the ball deliberately but rather to use another part of his body to change the path of the ball.

In short, an indirect free kick and a definite caution is the correct action to take if, in the opinion of the referee, the goalkeeper knew that without the illegal intervention the ball would enter the goal.

Your question:
Many portable goals have sets of wheels that can be lowered to move the goals when needed. I refereed a game yesterday on a field whose goals had wheels that were, I believe, less than a foot from the front of the goal. In my quadrant, a ball started to leave the field, then bounced off the goal wheel and rolled into the hands of the keeper, completely on the field. From my position (not near the goal line), I could see the ricochet off the wheel, but I thought the ball had crossed completely over the goal line, so I was prepared to call for a goal kick. My assistant referee shouted out that the ball had not completely left the field, so I let play continue.

In this particular instance, it didn’t matter much to the game whether (a) I let the keeper punt the ball or (b) I stopped play and restarted with a goal kick. In other circumstances, it might. Hence my question: should contact with goal wheels be treated like contact with a tree limb hanging over the goal line (i.e., a pre-existing condition, so ignore the contact) or like contact with football uprights extending above the goal (i.e., a non-regulation appurtenance, so call the ball out)?

USSF answer (October 10, 2006):
If the referee has inspected the field and determined that the goals and flags meet the requirements of the Law, then he or she cannot later rule that the equipment is no longer acceptable–unless something has happened that changes the state of the equipment. This is not unlike playing games on fields with combination soccer and football goals. Any contact with a portion of the goal that is not in accordance with the Law makes the ball out of play for the corresponding restart–corner kick or goal kick in the case of goal posts.

The intelligent referee will either not permit equipment that is not in accordance with the Law or be prepared to face the problems that occur. Full details should be included in the match report.

Your question:
I was working as an AR in a match and a situation occurred which has raised a question regarding keeper possession. The keeper bobbled the ball and an attacker challenged for the loose ball. In the scuffle the ball ended up trapped under the keeperÕs ankles and the ground. The referee called possession and awarded an indirect kick to the defenders. I questioned his decision at the half and have since asked several referees their opinion getting different responses. I believe possession only occurs with the hands and an indirect kick should have been awarded to the attacking team for dangerous play. Some agree with no possession but would have not made any call in that position. A few agree with the possession call. What is correct?

USSF answer (October 9, 2006):
While many referees mistakenly give the goalkeeper more protection than the Law allows, the correct call here would have been an indirect free kick against the goalkeeper’s team for playing dangerously, because there was no possession to be claimed.

Your question:
U14 Game. Center ref is positioned between midfield and 18. Defending team midfielder intercepts a pass and boots a long one towards the goal they are attacking (going the other way now). FYI – No one is offside. Keeper comes out to field the ball but ends up deflecting it to one side. Attacking forward, who has not touched the ball yet, outruns the keeper and kicks the ball in the goal. CR, who is trailing the play says goal is good. However, he notices the AR with his flag up. CR asks for an explanation. AR is calling handling by the keeper. Apparently, the keeper was completely out of the box when ball was deflected.ÊÊÊ

My question: Goal or No Goal?

By the way, CR decision was No Goal, DK for attacking team at spot of foul. CR and AR interpretation is the attacking forward had no advantage until after the handling foul and handling was not deliberate. It was a night game, poor lighting and the lines were not very clear. Easy keeper mistake because of field condition.Ê

USSF answer (October 5, 2006):
If the handling was not deliberate, then there was no foul and the goal should have been scored. However, even if the referee and the assistant referee agreed that the handling was deliberate, the referee should have invoked the advantage and scored the goal. The intelligent referee will not take away a goal that has been scored legitimately–as in this case.

Your question:
[Note: This Q&A corrects an answer previously sent on September 25, 2006.]
Your question: A substitute for the defending team enters the field and handles the ball just as it is struck by an opposing player. What does the referee do if, in his or her opinion, the ball would have gone into the goal if it had not been handled by the substitute?

USSF answer (October 5, 2006):
The answer to your question will be found in the IFAB’s Questions and Answers to the Laws of the Game 2006, Law 13, Q&A 13.1. Note that the word “player” in this case refers to a substitute who has entered illegally:
13.1. If the player prevents the goal with his hand, what action does the referee take?
The referee stops play and sends off the substitute for denying the opposing team a goal by deliberately handling the ball and the match is restarted with an indirect free kick to the opposing team where the ball was when play was stopped *.

This situation illustrates the need for referees and assistant referees and fourth officials of youth and adult games to maintain very close vigilance over where substitutes are. They must be restricted to the team area and not allowed to warm up anywhere but behind their teams.

Your question:
I am a coach in a youth league for 12-15 year olds. My goalie caught a shot with her hands and held onto the ball. A kid from the opposing team took 2-3 steps, lowered his shoulder and plowed into my goalie. Somehow she held onto the ball. As she was lying there (a little woozy), I ran onto the field as is allowed in our league on an injury. I asked the ref what he was going to do and this was his response: “Well, I could give the boy a yellow card, but there is only about 30 seconds left in the game. You get a free kick from your goal mouth (where the goalie was hit)”. So my goalie gets hit, no card is shown (I thought that it should be a red card), and the best that we get is a free kick on a wet field in front of our goal. Was this the correct call?

PS – I had another incident with time management. In the same game as above (first half), we had the ball on the opposing teams 18. We had six players at the 18 and the other team had four defenders (including the goalie). Just as my player got open for a shot on goal, the referee from the other side of the file (who was keeping time), blue his whistle to signify the end of the half.

USSF answer (October 4, 2006):
Shame on this referee for being a coward!! There is no excuse for not dealing with misconduct, particularly if it is, as you suggest, serious misconduct.

The second question is another matter altogether. When you play in a competition that uses the dual system of control (two referees on the field), all bets are off. Such games are not being played in accordance with the Laws of the Game and thus we cannot provide a satisfactory answer to your question.

Your question:
An instructor asks: In our class last evening, the question of whether or not a captain could be cautioned for the behavior of his teammates. I’ve copied the pertinent part of the game report of the incident below.

The referee’s assertion was the captain is responsible for his team’s behavior, and therefore if the team isn’t responding to the referee’s efforts at controlling dissent, then he can caution the captain for PI. This is a grade 7 referee seeking upgrade to state.

We told him the captain has certain responsibilities, but that did not include riding herd in place of the referee. The captain can help the referee but is not required to do so, other than to “to see that the referee’s decisions are respected by the captain’s teammates and by team officials” USSF answer Ask a Referee, Jan. 14, 2004.

He cited the Add’l Instruc. regarding attitude towards referees as well, all of which we were well aware, and he also brought up the MLS crackdown on dissent.

We maintained that cautioning the captain is not proper procedure in this circumstance. A referee might show a card to a captain, if for some reason the player who was to receive the card could not be carded (i.e. the Tab Ramos situation).

Any words of wisdom? n the 8th minute of the first half the Classics Elite scored their first goal. The Revoution then began fouling the Classics as they stepped up their attack. I called several hard DFK fouls on the Revolution from which they verbally dissented. I first cautioned Revolution player #3 for dissent in the 16th minute of the first half and soon after warned their team to stop the multiple dissents or that I would issue a caution to their captain for persistent infringment. I made a point to ensure that the captain heard this warning. The dissent continued to escalate for about ten more minutes at which time I located the Revolution captain (player no. 17) near midfield on the parents side and cautioned him for persistent infringement. After showing him the yellow card, I asked the captain if he would take control of his teammates to stop the escalating dissent. He replied “no.” I asked him once again if he would attempt to control the dissent, to which he replied “no” a second time. I showed him the red card for 2nd caution (for dissent) and told him that he would have to leave the field. The dissent from the Revolution players continued at a lower level through the rest of the half, but was almost non-existent in the second half.

USSF answer (October 4, 2006):
While the team captain may have “a degree of responsibility” for his or her team’s behavior (Additional Instructions), that does not mean that the referee may caution the captain for the misconduct of those teammates. (That is neither fair nor in the Spirit of either the Game or the Laws. ) Cautioning the team captain for the actions of others is the last resort of a referee who cannot manage the players properly.

We are quite concerned about the game report, which shows a number of misconceptions about the Law and proper mechanics. ÊFirst, a referee should NEVER box him- or herself into a corner by making a public statement threatening to caution anyone (much less the captain) if a teammate acts in a certain way (the multipurpose “I will deal with it” works just fine). ÊSecond, even if the captain could be cautioned for the behavior of his teammates, it couldn’t be for persistent infringement–if a PI card is given, it must be to a player who actually infringes the Law. ÊThird, to give a red card to the captain under these circumstances is unconscionable (the caution was bad enough but the red card is completely unbelievable).

Your question:
When a goalie has stopped the ball from being a goal and they are u-10 girls…. is there a rule that they can not kick it over half field????? we have a coach that is determined to make our refs believe this…

USSF answer (October 3, 2006):
The coach is almost, but not quite, correct. The U. S. Youth Soccer rule for U10 small-sided soccer (where each team may field no more than six players) states:
“Law 12 Ð Fouls and Misconduct: Conform to FIFA with the exception that an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team at the center spot on the halfway line if a goalkeeper punts or drop-kicks the ball in the air from his/her penalty area into the opponents penalty area.”

So, unless your league has some other rule, the coach is confused and thus mistaken as to the location of the place where the ball drops from the initial kick in order for it to be an infringement of the Law. The rule’s intent is that the ball fly directly from the place the goalkeeper kicked it in his or her penalty area to the other team’s penalty area, not simply across the halfway line.

Your question:
As a coach and new referee I have the following question: an opposing team member beats my last defender and is in the penalty area in a 1vs1 with my keeper. My keeper charges the ball sliding to block a shot. The keeper makes contact with the ball first but cannot hang onto it and it slides out from under him. The opposing team member, due to his forward run trips over the keeper. The referee calls tripping and awards a penalty kick. I argued this call citing that the keeper made contact with the ball first and was no different than a slide tackle. Under the LOTG slide tackles are permitted as long as the player makes contact with the ball first. Did the referee make the right call?

USSF answer (October 3, 2006):
If the facts are as you present them, then the referee has made a serious mistake. As you give them, the facts show no foul by either player and the referee should have let it go.

We are concerned about the misinformation implicit and explicit in your question … though none of this changes the answer. ÊIt is NOT the case that a player can avoid being called for a foul on any play, much less a tackle or “sliding tackle,” simply “by getting the ball first.” ÊGetting the ball first does not bless anything that happens during or immediately after the play. ÊYou are misinterpreting the section of Law 12 which states that it is a foul if a player makes contact with an opponent before making contact with the ball, but it does not follow that making contact with the ball first makes the tackle legal. Further, even if one extrapolates this principle to the goalkeeper sliding in to make hand contact with the ball, it remains the case that, just because this is what the goalkeeper did, the ‘keeper could not be charged with a foul if he or she in fact trips the opponent in passing (by grabbing the opponent’s leg or by lifting his/her body up high enough to cause the opponent to be upended. ÊIn short, the referee may have had a perfectly valid reason for charging the ‘keeper with an offense–we can’t know for sure since we weren’t there. The problem is that, given the misinformation about the nature of this offense, your description of the play may be faulty.

Your question:
A player is unhappy with an offside call by an assistant referee, and verbally abuses him using multiple curse words. The Center Referee is unable to hear it from his position on the field, what is the proper course of action from the assistant referee?

USSF answer (October 3, 2006):
The assistant referee (AR) should immediately bring abuse to the attention of the referee. By the same token , the intelligent referee will be alert to such things and should not need to be informed by the AR. It is the referee’s job to protect the ARs and the fourth official, if there is one.

This issue should be discussed in the pre-game–and if the referee doesn’t bring it up, the AR should ask the question. In the absence of such a talk, the AR should signal the referee if/when this happens in the same way they would signal a foul or misconduct observed by the AR but not seen/heard by the referee. ÊIn other words–flag straight up (other AR cross-flags if necessary), eye contact with the referee, wiggle the flag briefly and then put a hand over the shirt pocket or back pocket of shorts to indicate a recommendation for a card (shirt pocket = yellow, back pocket = red).

2006 Part 3

Your question:
What is the “official” policy on medi-alert bracelets and knecklaces? Further, what is the policy on the rubber message bracelets (i.e. Livestrong, Breast Cancer, MIA, etc.)?USSF answer (September 29, 2006):
These answers from the past should cover your questions:
1. September 29, 2005, with reference to medicalert and other sorts of bracelets
As we responded to a query in May 2003, no referee should refuse to allow a medicalert bracelet to be worn if it is properly taped. Under the provisions of Law 4 (Players Equipment), referees are required to ensure that no player wears equipment that is dangerous to him-/herself or to any other participant. This means that sometimes we have to sacrifice the good of one player for the good of all other players.

We have responded to questions about jewelry and other non-standard equipment many times. We always state that while jewelry is not allowed, there are two permissible exceptions to the ban on jewelry: medicalert jewelry that can guide emergency medical personnel in treating injured players and certain religious items that are not dangerous and not likely to provide the player with an unfair advantage. Anything that is decorative or possibly dangerous to the player or to others is not permitted.

For further information on the requirements of the Law for player safety, see the USSF National Program for Referee Development’s position papers of 7 March 2003 on “Player’s Equipment” and 17 March 2003 on “Player Equipment (Jewelry).”

We agree that there would seem to be only one solution to your dilemma, the tennis wristband you suggested yourself, with the words MEDIC ALERT on it. The U. S. Soccer Federation cannot give blanket permission for any item of non-standard equipment. This band would still have to be inspected and approved by the referee on each game in which your son plans to participate. If the referee does not approve the band, because it does not appear to be safe for all participants, then your son will not be able to play. As stated in Law 4, the decision of the referee is final.

Explain the facts of your son’s problems to the league and show them this note. We would hope that the league will show common sense and approve the wrist band being worn. A referee would not make anyone take a wrist band off because it was dangerous so–what difference does it make in this case if it is tape or a wrist band?

2. November 19, 2004, with reference to any “message” bracelets. No jewelry, no adornments. These bands are loose and could be very dangerous.

Your question:
You may have answered this one already but I¹m not totally sure.

I¹d like to distill this question down to its simplest form, without reading a whole let extra into it. It¹s been the source of a long debate in some different discussion forums, and we have at least one official who is holding fast to his personal interpretation in the face of an overwhelming number of officials who think differently.

In looking at ATR 12.20 as it is worded in the August, 2006 edition, a debate has arisen over this issue.

I contend, along with a large number of my colleagues, that if a ball is deliberately passed back to a teammates goalkeeper he/she may not pick it up with their hands. This applies whether the ball is passed back to the keeper while he/she is already in the penalty area, or if the keeper receives the deliberate pass back outside the penalty area and then proceeds to dribble the ball back into the penalty area and pick it up once it is in the PA. In either case, I believe that the ATR is telling us that ³by the book² this infraction should be treated as a technical foul for which the attacking team would be awarded an indirect free kick at the spot where the keeper picked up the ball (subject, of course, to the rules regarding restarts for IFK infractions that occur inside the goal area).

Others say that it has to be passed back to where the keeper can play it with their hands in order to result in the IFK, so receiving a pass back from a teammate outside the PA and dribbling it back into the penalty area to pick it us is not a technical foul. Unfortunately, the way that ATR 12.20 is written, a case could be made for either conclusion.

Can you set the record straight on this one?

USSF answer (September 29, 2006):
There are always soccer lawyers who will try to twist the written word to fit the meaning they want.

Advice 12.20 says:
A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he or she touches the ball with the hands directly after it has been deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate. The requirement that the ball be kicked means only that it has been played with the foot. The requirement that the ball be “kicked to” the goalkeeper means only that the play is to or toward a place where the keeper can legally handle the ball. The requirement that the ball be “deliberately kicked” means that the play on the ball is deliberate and does not include situations in which the ball has been, in the opinion of the referee, accidentally deflected or misdirected. The goalkeeper has infringed the Law by handling the ball after initially playing the ball in some other way (e.g., with the feet). This offense, like any other, may be ignored for the moment if it is trifling or doubtful (see Advice 5.6).

NOTE: (a) The goalkeeper is permitted to dribble into the penalty area and then pick up any ball played legally (not kicked deliberately to the goalkeeper or to a place where the goalkeeper can easily play it) by a teammate or played in any manner by an opponent. (b) This portion of the Law was written to help referees cope with timewasting tactics by teams, not to punish players who are playing within the Spirit of the Game.

A place where the goalkeeper may “play” the ball does not mean where the goalkeeper may play it with the hands. It should be clear from 12.20 that the goalkeeper is not permitted to dribble into the penalty area a ball deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate and then pick it up. That is not permitted under any circumstances. Of course, the goalkeeper may dribble (“play”) any ball played toward him or her with the feet. The infringement does not occur until the ‘keeper plays the ball with the hands.

Tell your dissenting colleagues to get a life.

Your question:
Player A collides with Player B, and in the process Player A is inadvertently hit in the head by Player B. Player A falls to the ground but never loses consciousness. Play is stopped and the trainer is called. Player A is taken off the field. The referee then informs the coach for Player A that she cannot re-enter the game at all based on their assessment of her health, even though a certified trainer for the school says that she is clear to play (without symptoms). Is this allowed? According to what I’ve read about Rule 5, the referee is not liable for any injury suffered by a player, spectator or official during the course of the game, but is obvsiouly looking out for the health of any player.

USSF answer (September 27, 2006):
[NOTE: This answer is a revision of an answer dated September 19, 2006]
In reading this answer, please remember that the U. S. Soccer Federation has no authority over games not played under its aegis, nor over the referees who officiate them.

Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has no direct authority to prevent a player from participating for unspecified reasons. While the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players, it does not give the referee the right to prevent the further participation of a player who has been treated for injury and cleared to play by a trainer or medical doctor. The only possible reason would be that player was still bleeding or had blood on his or her uniform.

If there is a trainer and/or medically trained person officially affiliated with the team or the competition authority (including, where relevant, the tournament), the referee should defer to that person’s decision as to whether a player’s return to the field following a serious injury would be safe. In the absence of such a person, the referee retains the authority under the Law to determine if a player is still seriously injured and, if necessary, to stop play and to require that player to again leave the field.  The Law does not allow the referee to prevent the return of the player to the field, but once play resumes with that player on the field, the referee reverts to his or her original duty to stop play if, in the referee’s opinion, the player is seriously injured.  As always, the referee must use common sense in making such a potentially controversial decision and must include full details in the match report.

Caveat: The referee should exercise intelligence and common sense when dealing with someone who claims medical expertise but who does not meet the requirement of being officially approved (for example, comes down from the stands or from among the spectators).

Your question:
Your question: A substitute for the defending team enters the field and handles the ball just as it is struck by an opposing player. What does the referee do if, in his or her opinion, the ball would have gone into the goal if it had not been handled by the substitute?

USSF answer (September 25, 2006):
No matter how unsporting his act, the substitute has not committed an offense which meets the requirements for a direct sending off under Law 12. Thus the restart in this case may only be an indirect free kick, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8. Why? Because when a substitute has entered the field without permission, the only possible restart is an indirect free kick for the illegal entry, and this is the offense which interfered with a goal or goal-scoring opportunity. No other restart may be considered. The substitute would be cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without permission. The referee might also caution the substitute for unsporting behavior (showing a lack of respect for the game by bringing the game into disrepute through his cynical interference with play). Because the substitute had just been cautioned for illegally entering the field, this would be the substitute’s second caution of the game and he would therefore also be sent off and shown the red card. The substitute could NOT be sent off for preventing a goal or a goalscoring opportunity, because he was not a player.

The International F. A. Board has made it very clear that, regardless of what a substitute does after illegally entering the field, the restart is controlled by the illegal entry, not by whatever the substitute did after illegally entering the field. This applies whether the substitute simply tackles the ball away, handles the ball, or acts in any violent way against an opponent with or without the ball. In the case of (a) an additional cautionable offense committed after the illegal entry, the referee should caution the substitute and show the yellow card, immediately following the yellow card with a red card to signal dismissal; or in the case of (b) violent conduct, the referee should send off the substitute and show the red card without the necessity of first showing a yellow card for the illegal entry (but full details must be included in the game report).

This situation illustrates the need for referees and assistant referees and fourth officials of youth and adult games to maintain very close vigilance over where substitutes are. They must be restricted to the team area and not allowed to warm up anywhere but behind their teams.

Your question:
Two blue attacking players are standing in an offside position. A blue teammate passes a ball over the second to last red defender towards the goal. The two blue players run in the direction of the ball. A fourth blue player, who was onside at the moment the ball was passed, runs past the two teammates, plays the ball, and fires it into the goal. As the assistant referee, at what point do you signal offside?
A. When the ball was kicked over the second to last red defender
B. When the ball was touched by the fourth blue attacker
C. When you saw the two blue players running in the direction of the ball
D. There is no offside infringement

USSF answer (September 25, 2006):
This quote from an August 2006 USSF memorandum should be helpful:
The proper interpretation and application of Law 11 have been evolving in recent years. To this end, the International Board has provided detailed definitions of the ways in which a player may become involved in active play (Law 11, International Board Decision 2). On August 17, 2005, a Circular from the FIFA further clarified some of the confusion regarding whether “touching the ball” was a requirement for “interfering with play” (emphasis added):
– A player in an offside position may be penalized before playing or touching the ball if, in the opinion of the referee, no other teammate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball.
– If an opponent becomes involved in the play and if, in the opinion of the referee, there is potential for physical contact, the player in the offside position shall be penalized for interfering with an opponent.

If the player who had been in the onside position when the ball was played gets there first, then there is no offside.

Your question:
[Note: This question has been abridged to be more readily understandable.]
The Law states the ball has to be within the corner arc, this is ambiguous. What does this mean?

Does it mean that a portion of the ball can be outside the corner arc as long as the circumference of the ball is over the top of the line or touching the plane of the line? Is this still considered to be inside the corner arc, even though the ball is not in physical contact with the line? Or does it mean that the ball has be physically touching a blade of white grass to be considered in the corner arc?

I have read the LAWs of the GAME and advice to the referees 2005 and 2006 several times and discussed it with highly experienced refs and it is not clear, at least not to me.

I have looked at the illustrations in the FIFA LAWS and the ADVICE booklets. The illustrations for corner arc appear to match the illustrations for ball out of play (touchline and goal line), goal area for goal kicks and illustration for a goal scored and the foot over the WHOLE line for illegal throw in. Each of these illustrations and all the situations I know of in soccer always consider the WHOLE ball and the WHOLE LINE.

If the corner arc is different, please explain why this different ruling is logical or makes sense in the game?

If I said a corner kick must be inside the corner arc area would I be correct? If so does that mean it has to touch the line of the corner arc or the touchline or goal line or just the corner arc?

USSF answer (September 20, 2006):
Short answer: At a corner kick the ball must be inside the arc, which means it may not rest outside the arc and thus simply break the plane of the line(s).

Long answer: Putting the ball into play from a corner kick is quite different from judging the ball to be either in or out of play over a boundary line. These are two different concepts and are covered in several different Laws. There is absolutely no ambiguity in Law 17.

Law 9 tells us that the ball is out of play when it has wholly crossed the goal line or touch line whether on the ground or in the air or when play has been stopped by the referee, and that the ball is in play at all other times. That obviously has nothing to do with restarts.

Law 17 requires the ball to be “placed inside the corner arc.” If it is on the ground outside the arc, it is not inside the arc, no matter that it may break the plane of that arc.

The requirement is not quite the same for goal kicks, at which the ball may simply break the plane of the line to be ready to put into play. Why? Because Law 16 requires only that the ball be kicked from any point within the goal area. Law 15 does not deal with the line and when the ball is in play with regard to the line, as the ball may still be in the hands of the thrower as it crosses the line and enters the field before it has been released into play.

As to enforcing the placement, although we have now made clear what the Law technically says about ball placement on a corner kick, the practical referee question must always be, “so what?”  Consider an incorrect placement of the ball as a trifling offense unless it REALLY made a difference.

Your question:
This has been discussed on SOCREF-L twice in the last few weeks. I was quite surprised when several of the experienced referees stated that they would retake the kick if the ball was not properly put in play. I have always thought that if player #1 takes some action with the ball that does not put it in play, then player #2 puts the ball in play when he kicks it directly into the goal. It never occurred to me that player #2 was not allowed to put the ball in play in this situation. If the original restart was an IFK, I would award a goal kick to the defending team. Since others seemed to disagree, I wondered if I was missing something in my reasoning.

USSF answer (September 20, 2006):
If, at an indirect free kick, one player simply touches the ball without moving it and the second player then kicks it straight into the goal, the correct restart is a goal kick. However, if the ball touched any other player on the way into the goal, the goal would be scored.

Your question:
Please clarify when fouls should be called, or not, when the goalie is scrambling for the ball and attacker(s) are trying to kick it into the goal. e.g. sliding into the goalie when trying to get the goal, etc.

USSF answer (September 20, 2006):
If an opponent is challenging the goalkeeper for a ball on the ground, both are allowed to play it fairly. If the goalkeeper has the ball under control, meaning that it is within his or her grasp (which can be nothing more than a finger pinning the ball to the ground or to the body), then the opponent must stop the challenge. Accidents may happen, but they will still be called as a foul against the opponent. If the goalkeeper does not have the ball under control, then the opponent may continue to try to win the ball fairly. In addition, the referee must take full consideration of the age and skill levels of the players.


Your question:
Player A collides with Player B, and in the process Player A is inadvertently hit in the head by Player B. Player A falls to the ground but never loses consciousness. Play is stopped and the trainer is called. Player A is taken off the field. The referee then informs the coach for Player A that she cannot re-enter the game at all based on their assessment of her health, even though a certified trainer for the school says that she is clear to play (without symptoms). Is this allowed? According to what I’ve read about Rule 5, the referee is not liable for any injury suffered by a player, spectator or official during the course of the game, but is obviously looking out for the health of any player.

Answer (September 19, 2006):
In reading this answer, please remember that the U. S. Soccer Federation has no authority over games not played under its aegis, nor over the referees who officiate them.

Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has no direct authority to prevent a player from participating for unspecified reasons. While the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players, it does not give the referee the right to prevent the further participation of a player who has been treated for injury and cleared to play by a trainer or medical doctor. The only possible reason would be that player was still bleeding or had blood on his or her uniform.


Your question:
Last week, I was an AR for a U12 Boy’s Soccer Game. In the 2nd half, after a goal was scored, the keeper took the ball out of the goal and went to toss it to his teammate to kick it off.

In the process, the players that scored the goal took the ball away from the keeper and then bounced it in front of him and celebrated. It was a rude act and went beyond celebrating. They then tossed it for the kick off.

Is this a caution for both players? Does the player who bounced the ball in front of the keeper to be rude deserve more punishment that the other player?

Also, the referee (center) saw this, but did nothing. As an AR, should I raise the flag and say that I believe the players deserve cautions?

Answer (September 13, 2006):
The IFAB, the people who make and amend the Laws of the Game, anticipated your question and made a change in the Laws this year. If you look in the back of the book, you will find the section on “Additional Instructions.” In that section, you will see, under 2. ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR REFEREES, ASSISTANT REFEREES AND FOURTH OFFICIALS
Delaying the restart of play
a new bullet point 6:
Referees must caution players who delay the restart of play by tactics such as:
[followed by a list of five bullet points unchanged from the present text and then]
– provoking a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play

In the Memorandum 2006, the Federation gave the following “USSF Advice to Referees: This new bullet point reflects the results of an experiment approved by the IFAB for certain competitions in 2005. The behavior which is the focus of this instruction includes attempts by a scoring team to take possession of the ball from the opponent’s goal and players who attempt to gain control of the ball at a stoppage, in either case in a manner which, in the opinion of the referee, would provoke the opposing team. Referees should attempt to anticipate and forestall such offenses, saving the caution for the most flagrant cases where the offending player is unwilling to desist in the provocation. If the caution is unavoidable, it must be reported for delaying the restart of play.”

The acts you describe in your question would be covered by this new bullet point. You were correct and the referee was incorrect.


Your question:
At the taking of a corner kick, an attacker runs from the far post to the near post. To get around the keeper, who is standing on the goal line, he goes inside the goal. Is this permissible:
1. If the action takes place prior to the kick?
2. If the action takes places after the ball is in play (i.e. in the air)?
3. If a defender marking the attacker runs into his own keeper as a result of the run by the defender?

I know a player may temporarily cross the boundary lines to get around another player without having been considered off the FOP in terms of Leaving Without Permission, but going in the goal and returning to gain an advantage seems a special case. My inclination is to stop play, caution for UB, and either take the kick (if not taken) or IFK out from the 6 (where attacker left the FOP + special circumstances). Can you give any guidance for this situation?

Re: #3, ignoring the FOP departure, if two teammates run into each other that seems to me to be their own problem.

Answer (September 12, 2006):
It would not be a very clever play, as the possibility for interference with or impeding of the goalkeeper is always there, but the ploy is legal, as long as it is during the course of play and the player who enters the goal does not interfere in ANY way with the goalkeeper. In addition, let us emphasize that in general the player is expected to stay on the field.

And yes, the matter of two teammates running into one another would be their own problem, not the referee’s.


I’m a USSF ref and have a question about when handling the ball by an offensive player in the penalty area rises to the level of a caution being issued.

I was watching a college game. Team A had a throw-in deep in its offensive zone. The throw went into the box and several players from both teams jumped in a attempt to head the all. One of the Team A players while jumping raised his arms over his head and the ball struck one of his arms and then he swatted the ball to the ground. The referee correctly stopped play and awarded a DFK to Team B but he also gave the Team A player a caution. >From my vantage point on the sidelines it didn’t appear that the Team A players was attempting to score by using his hand.

Answer (September 12, 2006):
This applies to games played under the Laws of the Game. Your answer lies in the Additional Instructions for Referees at the end of your book of the Laws:
Cautions for unsporting behavior by deliberately handling the ball
There are circumstances when, in addition to a free kick being awarded, a player must also be cautioned for unsporting behavior, e.g. when a player:
– deliberately and blatantly handles the ball to prevent an opponent gaining possession
– attempts to score a goal by deliberately handling the ball


A fellow referee & I were discussing a call he made during a girls high school game. A defender deliberately kicked the ball with her foot back to the keeper who attempted to play the ball with her foot. The ball glanced off her foot and headed toward the goal line. The keeper ran back and picked up the ball with her hands. The referee allowed play to continue. He and his partner reasoned after the game that because the keeper intended to play the ball with her foot and had actually made contact with the ball that she could then be allowed to pick the ball up with her hands. I disagreed with him and said he should have awarded an IFK to the attacking team.. Your thoughts please.

Answer (September 12, 2006):
The fact that the goalkeeper attempted to play the ball with her foot does not override the fact that the ball was deliberately kicked by a teammate. However, the principle behind the change in the Laws was to prevent time wasting. It appears clear from the situation you describe that there were no timewasting tactics here, so the intelligent referee might decide to overlook this trifling infringement and continue on with the game.


I have received a number of questionsregarding placement of the ball for a corner kick. Something so simple as this has been confounded by me and I have made a probably incorrect assumption. Where this came from I don’t know but it’s stuck in my mind. The Law states inside the corner arc. Q&A and Advice both show diagrams of what is correct and incorrect. I checked the grade 8 slides on the website and found them in agreement with the aforementioned diagrams.

Is the corner arc “different” than any other field marking? Is the ball in contact with the extended plane of the corner arc sufficient to place it in the corner area or is this different? Is this like the ball in or out of play, a goal scored or not, in or out of the penalty area, etc. It’s a matter of inches and semantics and consistency and I may have answered incorrectly so I feel compelled to ask ‘the burning bush” again. If I have made an error I need to get the proper word out to the referees I misinformed.

Answer (September 11, 2006):
This answer of October 21, 2004, has not changed:
It has been clearly stated by the International F. A. Board, the makers of the Laws of the Game, that the ball must be within or physically touch the lines demarcating the corner arc.

The rule the player in your incident refers to applies only to balls being either in play or out of play. In those situations, the ball must simply break the vertical plane of the line to be in play and need not touch the line physically. This does not apply to the corner kick. You will find a diagram on corner kick placement in the IFAB/FIFA publication “Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, which can be downloaded from


Another interesting question: In a recent U18 match, I had a shot that went wide of the goal. The keeper went after the ball, as did a player from the offense as the ball was headed towards the goal line. The goalkeeper subsequently dove to knock the ball over the goal line with his hands while within the penalty area, and in the process, the attacking player tripped over his outstretched arms (since he was in close proximity to play the ball).

It did not appear that the attacking player was “playing” the goalkeepers arms, and the fall was not a violent tackle. Neither player was hurt in the tackle.

Since the ball was driven over the goal line by a member of the defensive team, I awarded a corner kick. I have checked with a few officials, and the results have been mixed. One stated that since the keeper had posession when he touched the ball, I should have issued a DFK for fouling the keeper. Another said that the keeper and the player from the offense both had a fair shot at the ball, and since the offense player did not deliberately kick the keepers arms (in fact, he tripped over them), that it was a “no foul” situation.

I’m looking for some guidance here. From what I have written, what would you suggest is the right restart?

Answer (September 9, 2006):
The goalkeeper establishes possession by controlling the ball with his (or her) hand(s), but deflecting the ball does not establish either control or possession. Merely touching the ball is not enough (keeping in mind the need to judge possession by the age and skill of the players). The ball needs to be held by both hands or trapped between one hand and a surface or held in the outstretched hand.

No foul by either player. The correct decision was the corner kick.


Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions ….. this is an informative and useful website.

My question is: What are the rules and guidelines for regulating referee behavior on and off the field? I know that the rules published by FIFA list the actions that a referee needs to take to govern the game within the rules, but I would assume that there must be some rules that outline acceptable and unacceptable behavior by a referee and referee conduct.

Specifically, is a referee allowed to make comments like ‘this is going to cost you $2 for my time’ when the game is stopped to allow a player to do up their shoe laces? At the time of a player substitution comments are made like ‘I will take onions and tomatoes with this sub’. ‘Your presence at this game is purely optional and you are not allowed to yell from the side lines’ a comment made to a parent. This comments are just a few examples of the repertoire that this official carried on on the field.

What is the correct disciplinary procedure when a referee is blatantly biased and through his comments and behavior controls the outcome of a game. How is this controlled and corrected. These referees have a huge influence on fair play, morals and conduct of players when they are not professional. This behavior brings the game of soccer into dispute!

The particular situation was a high school soccer tournament.

Answer (September 8, 2006):
While referees are expected to enjoy themselves while they are working on the field, even to the extent of making small jokes, their commentary should be appropriate to the circumstances of the game.

The U. S. Soccer Federation’s National Program for Referee Development has a Code of Ethics:
Code of Ethics for Referees
(1) I will always maintain the utmost respect for the game of soccer.
(2) I will conduct myself honorably at all times and maintain the dignity of my position.
(3) I will always honor an assignment or any other contractual obligation.
(4) I will attend training meetings and clinics so as to know the Laws of the Game, their proper interpretation and their application.
(5) I will always strive to achieve maximum team work with my fellow officials.
(6) I will be loyal to my fellow officials and never knowingly promote criticism of them.
(7) I will be in good physical condition.
(8) I will control the players effectively by being courteous and considerate without sacrificing fairness.
(9) I will do my utmost to assist my fellow officials to better themselves and their work.
(10) I will not make statements about any games except to clarify an interpretation of the Laws of the Game.
(11) I will not discriminate against nor take undue advantage of any individual group on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
(12) I consider it a privilege to be a part of the United States Soccer Federation and my actions will reflect credit upon that organization and its affiliates.

In addition, the initial statement in the USSF’s Referee Administrative Handbook says:
I, as a referee, am committed to:
1. Officiating matches in a fair and safe manner that ensures player and spectator enjoyment.
2. Maintaining my physical fitness for peak performance.
3. Faithfully keeping all appointments assigned to and accepted by me.
4. Supporting my fellow officials with loyalty, pride and dignity.
5. Conducting myself in a way to be ethically and morally beyond reproach.
6. Granting players and coaches dignity and self-respect.
7. Contributing to the overall development of the National Program for Referee Development.
8. Remaining committed to continuous learning and an improvement process that enables me to perform to my full potential.

We would point out that this was a high-school tournament and likely not played under the Laws of the Game or affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation. In that case, if you want to file a complaint about the referee, you should work through the athletic director at the school through which your child participated in the tournament. You will need full details of date, place, teams, time day, and precisely what happened.

If you believe it was affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation and you wish to file a complaint against the referee, you should do so as is allowed in U. S. Soccer Federation Policy 531-10, Misconduct at a Match. You can find this policy at , select Services from the left hand menu, then Bylaws and Policies, click on the Policy Manual and it will come up. Then should scroll down to the appropriate policy. The complaint is filed with your state youth soccer association. Once again, you will need to supply full details of the incident(s).


My son plays on a team Š in our community. It is all volunteer positions. It is a boys U8 level. I will attempt to help referee as we don’t need to be certified, can you send (email) me some game rules?

Answer (September 7, 2006):
You can download the rules for all U. S. Youth Soccer small-sided games at the following URL:

Full-sided games generally use the same unmodified Laws of the Game (also known as the “FIFA Rules”) as adult soccer.

Some competitions modify the rules for their particular needs. Check with your state youth soccer association to see what they recommend.


I noticed on the game reports for the MLS games the players are issued yellow cards for bringing the game in disrepute. What does this mean? What is it replacing or adding to?

Answer (September 7, 2006):
“Bringing the game into disrepute” means doing something that is totally counter the spirit of the game, which is meant to be played fairly and in a sporting manner. Such acts show a lack of respect for the game, e. g., aggressive attitude, inflammatory behavior, deliberately kicking the ball into one’s own goal or taunting.


A couple of Grade 8 referees were discussing upgrading to Grade 7 and there was some confusion on what games count toward the 75 Referee and 25 AR requirements. We tend to referee the following types of games and could not come to an agreement on what games count.

1. U-14 to U-19 games using a three man (DSC) system, with age appropriate durations
2. Tournament games involving only USSF affiliated teams using DSC and shortened halves
3. U-9 to U14 games using club linesmen, with age appropriate game durations

Page 20 of the Referee Administrative Handbook requires games to be “US Federation Games” in order for them to be counted towards an upgrade to Grade 7. The argument given for all three types of games to count seems logical, but some confirmation is requested. The argument was as follows:
1. The only question for this would be the game durations, but page 3 of the USSF/FIFA LOTG states that for any games involving players under 16 years the duration of the games may be altered. So these games should count.
2. These should count for the same reason as part 1 as long as the tournament and all teams involved are affiliated with USSF.
3. The use of club linesmen, although not desired, still constitutes a USSF affiliated game due to item 4 of the preferred alternatives to the DSC listed on page 36 of the Referee Administrative Handbook. It doesn’t seem fair to penalize the center referee just because there are not enough referees available to have 3 at every game.

Please lend some insight into this issue as it has a large impact on those of us who are looking to progress through the ladder as referees.

Answer (September 6, 2006):
Any games specified in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) can be counted for advancement. Games played with shortened halves do not count; the periods must be age appropriate, as specified by the Laws of the Game, USSF and USYS. USYS has specified times for the halves of all age groups. As noted in the RAH, games with club linesmen may be counted.

For further information, check with your state referee administrator(s). It is they who apply the policies of the U. S. Soccer Federation.


For proper kick off, do we start the watch first than signal for KO or start the watch after proper KO.

We have the first version in the Procedure and second version from AYSO.

Answer (August 29, 2006):
How about a compromise? When working USSF games, start your watch before kick-off–and remember to add a few seconds in addition to everything else. When working AYSO and less-competitive USYS games, start your watch after kick-off–but remember the perils of possibly forgetting to push the button, quick attacks, lots of action, etc.

The referee needs to remember that the modern competitive game is very fast, right from the very start. There are often many things going on at once. Because a goal can be scored directly from a kick-off, it is vital that the referee be able to observe everything that is happening from the moment of the kick. There simply is no leeway in a high-level game for the referee to be looking down at his watch, possibly fumbling with its controls, while the players are playing! For those reasons, it is better in competitive games to start the watch before the kick-off than to have the kick-off and then forget to start the watch. The referee can always add time later.

This answer was coordinated with AYSO.


I’m [an instructor]. [We] have a question about the 2006/2007 State Referee Exam, which we administered today at our Fall re-certification run and refresher exam clinic.

Question 23 paints a scenario where a substitute enters the field of play and violently tackles an opponent about to take a shot from 2 yards inside the goal area. The question asks whether it is true or false that the Referee should restart with a dropped ball at the edge of the goal area. The answer on the USSF answer key is FALSE.

What are we missing??? If the referee stops play due to the actions of an outside agent, the restart should be a dropped ball, and the special circumstances of Law 8 specify the location of the drop.

We considered that perhaps the reasoning was that the referee stopped play to issue a Send-Off, and the restart would be an Indirect Free Kick, but that should apply only to players who are being cautioned or sent-off for misconduct.

Answer (August 29, 2006):
You seem to have missed the changes in the 2005 Laws of the Game, which include making the restart for illegal entry by a substitute an indirect free kick. Here is the quote, direct from Law 3:
If a substitute enters the field of play without the referee¹s permission:
– play is stopped
– the substitute is cautioned, shown the yellow card and required to leave the field of play
– play is restarted with an indirect free kick at the place the ball was located when play was stopped * (see page 3)

This was also recognized in the IFAB/FIFA Q&A 2006, Law 3, Q&A 5. The Board has, in effect, laid out the general proposition that, if a substitute enters the field illegally, no matter what the substitute subsequently does or has done to him, the restart is ALWAYS determined by the offense that occurred first–the illegal entry onto the field.


A player from our team was in the process of taking a penalty kick when the entire opposing team, both on the field and on the bench started jumping up and down, waving their arms, and screaming at the top of their lungs. Our player shot the ball wide and the referee awarded a goal kick to the opposing team. Was this the correct call? My opinion (as a new grade 8 referee) was that the referee should have yellow carded one of the screaming players for unsporting behavior, warned the coach that a repeat performance would not be tolerated and allowed the PK to be retaken.

Answer (August 29, 2006):
While opposing players are allowed to jump up and down at the taking of a free kick, and a penalty kick would be included within this concept, they are traditionally not allowed to exhibit unsporting behavior. Shouting at an opponent is unsporting behavior. Before having the kick retaken, the referee should notify the captain that if this shouting and screaming is repeated at the retake, all players and substitutes will be cautioned and shown the yellow card and at least one of the coaches will be expelled for failing to behave responsibly–and the kick will be retaken once again. Then, if the shouting and screaming is repeated, the referee must follow through. If the unsporting behavior is repeated yet again, the referee will declare the match abandoned and submit a full report to the competition authority.


Recently I officiated at a youth tournament as both a Center and as an AR. The assignor for this particular tournament requires each Center to submit a game report that in addition to covering the game itself, also contains the Center’s personal assessment of his assigned assistants Š everything from timeliness, uniform, foul recognition, field mechanics. The assignor uses this feedback to assist the development of the referees she assigns. Certainly a very commendable requirement and a great way to help all of our refs improve, particularly our younger refs.

However, one issue surfaced that I am unclear on. I Centered the first game and did a report on my assistants (one an adult, the other a Grade 8 teen). One of the questions I had to answer dealt with if the assistants were wearing the proper referee uniform. I reported that all was OK. But then my adult assistant in game 1 centered the second game of a 3 game set and marked this same teen down for wearing a pair of black shorts on which the Nike swoosh could be seen. I learned of this when the assignor asked me if I had seen the same uniform violation in the game I centered. I saw the swoosh but did not consider it a violation as the rest of the shorts were completely black and of the appropriate length, etc. So I did not report it as a violation. However, both the Assignor and the Center insist that the only proper referee shorts are those that are completely black period. I am not sure this is correct. See below.

The Administrative Handbook for Referees clearly indicates that black shorts are part of the approved referee uniform.

However, the handbook also states in part that “only manufacturer’s logos and U.S. Soccer approved badges and/or emblems may be visible on the referee uniform.”

The quoted portion above would appear to imply that it’s okay for a manufacturer’s emblem to appear on shorts so long as the rest of the garment is black. Thus no white stripes down the seam or anything like that.

I realize that this is hardly a question of monumental importance but the young teen is upset at being marked down for this on the Center’s evaluation of her.

Once again, I applaud the assignor’s desire to improve her stable of refs but believe the admin handbook could be interpreted as allowing the swoosh (or other manufacturer logo such as Law 5 brand name to be visible) on the shorts.

Would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Answer (August 22, 2006):
While the basic color of referee shorts is black, there is no statute compelling referees to wear any particular manufacturer’s uniform. As you point out, the Referee Administrative Handbook does state, regarding Logos, Emblems and Badges: ” Only manufacturer’s logos and U.S. Soccer approved badges and/or emblems may be visible on the referee uniform.” Even clothing supplied by the Federation’s sponsor, Official Sports International, carries a logo.

A competition authority might certainly wish to regulate the uniform of its officials (just as it might the balls or nets used) if, for example, a major sponsor of the tournament or league were a manufacturer with a recognizable logo; however, if a tournament did that, it would be obliged to supply the required uniform, properly logo-ed, to all participating officials.

Apart from any competition authority regulation, evaluators should be more focused on providing feedback on matters that are of far more moment, those that relate to how well the official did the job, rather than on the wearing of a particular type of shorts.


In a B-14 match, after a goal had been scored and prior to the kick off, it was brought to the attention of the referee that the wrong size ball was being used. Apparantly, a size 4 had been thrown in from the bench area, after the size 5 The game had started with had gone over a fence behind the goal, and the referee had not inspected it. To compound the issue, the ball had last touched a defender before crossing the goal line.

In this instance the referee disallowed the goal, replaced the ball with a size 5, and restarted with a dropped ball at the six. Was this correct?

Answer (August 21, 2006):
Let’s look at it from another angle: Nothing occurred in this situation of using a “wrong” sized ball that would have increased the likelihood of scoring. There was no illegal condition that could even possibly be related to the scoring itself. Score the goal and restart with a kick-off. Report full details to the competition authority.

The referee’s failure to inspect the ball cannot be held against the team that scored the goal. After the game the referee should have begun memorizing Laws 2 and 5 verbatim, so as to remember the next time to always inspect all balls that are used in the game


I am getting sick of coaches that instruct their goal keepers’ that it is Ok for them to raise their knees as protection, after catching the ball in traffic. I have maintained that this practice is unacceptable, citing the act as dangerous and unsporting behavior, punishable by a caution (verbal or with the show of a card). What is your take on this issue?

Another issue of contention involve a goalkeeper attempting to pick up a ball, arms stretched, fingers out, and someone (opponent) sliding or attempting to kick the ball. Some coaches’ always screamed “oh,ref….he didn’t have possession). I have always called it and cautioned the offending player. That has not made me very popular. Please advise. A lot is riding on this.

Answer (August 22, 2006):
We provided information on how and when goalkeepers may protect themselves and what they may not do back on January 31, 2005:
May a goalkeeper be called for playing dangerously or fouling an opponent? Surely, but it is a matter for the referee to decide on a case-by-case basis. There is no clear, black-and-white answer. Clearly, the referee’s decision would have to be based on the specific level of risk involved and that, in turn, is a function of the age, experience, and skill of the players.

That does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that goalkeepers are allowed to use their protection under the Spirit of the Laws to harm other players. When leaping for the ball, all players, including goalkeepers, should aim to play the ball at the highest point possible. The striker jumps as high as he can to get his head on the ball, but the goalkeeper has the advantage of needing only to have his hands high enough to play the ball.

If the goalkeeper’s jump appears to be natural, with the knee lifted as part of achieving balance or additional height, then there is probably no foul on the part of the goalkeeper. However, if the lifting of the knee appears to be unnatural or contrived, or if the goalkeeper raises the knee only when the attacker comes near to the ball‹this is a common goalkeeper maneuver to intimidate opponents rather than “self protection” or the equally facile argument that it is used to achieve greater height — the referee may reach the conclusion that the goalkeeper is no longer protecting himself or attempting to gain greater altitude, but is attempting to send a message to the opponent. That sort of play must be punished.

As to goalkeeper possession, we have also defined that many times, probably most clearly on February 12, 2004:
The goalkeeper establishes possession with as little as one finger on the ball, provided the ball is under his control (in the opinion of the referee) and the ball has been trapped against the ground or some other surface — the ‘keeper’s other hand, the ground, or even a goalpost.

If a player attempts to kick the ball from the goalkeeper’s hands, then the referee should stop the game for the foul of attempted kicking and caution the player for unsporting behavior (and show the yellow card), restarting with a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team. If the player’s foot makes contact with the goalkeeper during this action, the referee may consider sending the player off for serious foul play and showing him the red card.

The position of goalkeeper carries with it implicit dangers of heavy contact with other players. That is an accepted fact of the game. Other than being privileged to deliberately handle the ball within his own penalty area, the goalkeeper has no more rights than any other player.

It is not clear from your question/statement just what the circumstances are when you caution players, but the goalkeeper should never be given more protection than he or she is allowed under the Laws of the Game.


I have a question prompted by the recent USSF Memorandum on “Fouls, Misconduct and the Restart of Play” combined with an actual incident that happened in a game yesterday.

In yesterday’s game, Red had possession on the ball near midfield moving towards Blue’s goal. A Blue player fouled a Red attacker in a manner that deserved a caution, but other attackers continued and advantage was applied (and realized). About 10 seconds later the Blue GK cleared the ball and the attack was over (although the ball was still in play).

As the referee, I then immediately stopped play due to two concerns: (1) the two players involved in the foul were still together and I was concerned about retaliation or further escalation of the incident; and (2) the Blue player had a number only on his back (which I could not see during the incident), and I was concerned I would lose track of the guilty party if play continued.

After cautioning the player, we were a little uncertain about the correct restart. Did we stop play to issue a caution (in which case the misconduct should be an IFK from the spot of the misconduct) or did we stop play for another reason (in which case the restart might be a drop ball at the location of the ball)?

It’s been pointed put to me that the far easier solution would have been to allow play to continue until the ball went out of play, but the two factors cited above seemed of greater concern at the time and that stopping play was the better course of action.

Answer (August 22, 2006):
Many referees seem to believe that, when advantage is applied to misconduct, they must wait for a “natural stoppage.” However, we need to remember that Law 9 defines how play stops: the ball leaves the field or the referee stops. Period. Neither is more “natural” than the other. The referee could stop play for an injury, another foul, because it is Tuesday, or because the advantage already applied no longer exists.

Yes, the far easier solution would have been to wait until the ball went out of play, but, as you point out, you had good reason to stop it when you did. Therefore, you must follow the instructions under Law 12, Indirect Free Kicks:
“- commits any other offense, not previously mentioned in Law 12, for which play is stopped to caution or dismiss a player
“The indirect free kick is taken from where the offense occurred.* (see page 3)”


In the July Ask the Referee it was stated: ³Persistent infringement of the Laws refers to violations of Law 12–and not for offside, second touch, illegal throw-in, etc.²

Also, in Advice to Referees it states in 12.28.3: ³It is not necessary for the multiple fouls to be of the same type or all to be direct free kick fouls, but infringements must be among those covered in Law 12 or involve repeated violations of Law 14.

Both statements seem to make clear the scope for which persistent infringement of the laws can be applied. However, later in 12.28.3 Advice states: ³Examples of persistent infringement include a player whoŠFails to start or restart play properly or promptly, having previously been warned². This seems to contradict the two previous statements, as most restarts are not found under Laws 12 or 14.

The reason I ask this is that I refereed a game last year in which a team consistently on throw-ins ran five to ten yards beyond the point where the ball went out of touch. I pointed to where the throw-ins should be taken and warned players of what was required. I was generally ignored on most first throw-in and I spent a large amount of time stopping play and asking the throw-in be retaken at the appropriate spot.

As throw-ins (Law 15) do not fall under Law 12 or 14, I felt I could not give a misconduct for persistent infringement. Later a fellow referee showed me the example from Advice and said I should have used persistent infringement as the basis for a yellow card.

Could I have used persistent infringement as a basis for misconduct in this situation or is another area of the law applicable?

Answer (August 18, 2006):
The reference to cautioning for persistent infringement if a player delays the restart of play is an error which will be corrected in the next version. In this case you and other referees should take your cue from what is in the 7+7 Memorandum. The other two (persistent commission of Law 12 fouls and a repeated violation of Law 14 after a warning) are consistent with the Advice.


In a men’s open game as center referee I was repeatedly asked, “What’s the call ref?”. It was a type of gamesmanship. I was warned before the game by my AR that this team was a bunch of whiners, I wish he would have elaborated. How is best to handle this situation? It can start to throw you off your game.

Answer (August 14, 2006):
One of the referee’s best management tools is selective hearing.


Recently, at a USSF clinic, a questioned was asked about a scenario in which a 12th player on the field is being cautioned and he has already been cautioned earlier in the game for another offense. The response from the instructors was that the player now had two cautions so he would be shown the red card and expelled from the game. However, they added that since he was an extra player on the field, an additional player now had to be removed because the team would have to play short a man. This didn’t make sense to me but they assured the class that this was the proper procedure. Is this really correct?

Thank you for your time and the great service you provide.

Answer (August 3, 2006):
No, that is not correct. If this player was truly the “extra” player, then his second caution and expulsion were all that was necessary.


Could you tell me if the FIFA disciplinary code, or something similar, applies to games/tournaments that operate under USSF rules. I am specifically talking about the code relative to intentionally losing a game so as to gave some benefit in future opponents or seeding. The FIFA code says:
“Anyone who conspires to distort the result of a match in a manner incompatible with sporting ethics will be sanctioned with a match suspension and a minimum fine of CHF 15,000. The body will also pronounce a ban on performing any football related activity; in serious cases this sanction will apply for life.”

Would this or something similar apply to a USSF competition if it can be shown that a team deliberately loses a game?

Answer (August 3, 2006):
The United States Soccer Federation embraces all elements of the FIFA Disciplinary Code. However, the enforcement of such a provision would be the responsibility of the competition authority (i. e., the organization under which the match in question was played).


This week I was CR at a U14 girl¹s game ­ travel teams with a fair degree of experience and skill. As they game began, I tried to set the tone by some verbal statements, ³Ladies, watch your arms please² perhaps two other remarks. It did set the tone and the ladies responded with respect and paid more attention to the game.

Near the end of the first half, two players were contesting for the ball in front of one AR. One fell to the ground and was beginning to place herself in a position of being involved in dangerous play. She was preparing to play the ball ­ and place herself at some risk. At that point, the AR said with some force, ³Get up. Get up. Get up.² The player jumped to her feet and the game continued.

At the interval, I asked the AR to be careful that his comments not be heard, perhaps as coaching by either teams or coaches. He replied that I had done the same with my ³arms² comments ­ I had given comments that could be understood as coaching. We discussed more at the post game review. He stated his role was to maintain safety for players, and his call to get up was to put them in a safe position. I replied that there were times to be teacher and policeman on the field. That was not a time to teach, but a time to allow the play to develop and enforce the rules. I was concerned that his instruction created an advantage for the non near fouling team as they did not get the ball when play continued.

I know a player can play the ball while on the ground. My question is one of the propriety of instructing a player of an action to take to, essentially, get them away from a fouling situation. Was I right in questioning this action or I am being my all too typical legalistic self? My verbal comments seem different ­ they are aimed at the field, at all players, and not at one.

I¹d appreciate your help. AlsoŠthe AR wanted to discuss this at the interval, and I asked that we delay it until the review. I was afraid of any tension that might get created. Does that make sense?

Answer (August 1, 2006):
Neither one of you was doing any coaching as such, nor were you violating any laws or covenants, written or unwritten. However, and there is always a “however,” this is the sort of issue that needs to be discussed in the pregame meeting of the officials. There should be a clear understanding of the extent to which the referee expects and relies upon the AR to talk with players (about anything), and it must be consistent with what the referee is doing.

There does seem to be a fairly clear distinction between the two comments (assuming they were said as described). The referee’s remark is a general cautionary comment, applied broadly, and rather equivalent to ET’s “Be good.” The AR’s comment, was a command, directed to a specific player, which carried the implication that the player’s behavior was concretely wrong and might potentially subject her to punishment if the AR’s command were not heeded. Nevertheless, you were both supplying valuable information to the players, suggesting that they play the game properly and within the Spirit of the Laws and of the Game.


My question for you involves an issue that came up at an advanced referee clinic recently. The situation involves the interpretation of law 14 in the case where a teammate of the kicker enters within 10 yards of the ball before it is kicked. Our clinic director told us that according to the latest modifications to the laws of the game for this year, that if the ball goes directly into the goalkeepers’ hands after the kick where he could easily play it out, play must be stopped and restarted with an indirect free kick from the place where the infraction occurred. Someone asked if it is possible to apply advantage in this situation and the instructor said that based on changes to the laws of the game last year that it was not.  I know that in France, their version of “Advice to referees on the laws of the game” for 2006 says that this scenario should result in in the referee allowing play to continue under the application of advantage. Since I didn’t want to publicly argue issue at the clinic before doing my homework, I decided to write the director of instruction in the Ligue Rhone-Alpes in France to ask if the French federation still maintained that position. He emailed me back and said that nothing has changed other than the location of the restart (at the location of the infraction) but that advantage is still to be applied in the case where the goalkeeper easily collects the ball after the kick. In the end, I think there is a misinterpretation of law 14 in this case by someone, either by the Federation Francaise de Football (FFF), US Soccer Federation (USSF), or the clinic’s instructor. I don’t want to cause any problems and just want to make sure that I know what the correct answer is since it involves either stopping play or not stopping play.

Answer (July 29, 2006):
Without going into whether or not the application of the advantage clause would apply or not, we can say that the infringement by the teammate was trifling, because the ball wound up in the hands of the ‘keeper. In other words, the intrusion had no impact on the play and thus should be ignored.


At kickoff is it legal for a player to rake the ball forward then rake it back to a teammate having his foot never leave the ball during the maneuver. Was the ball put into play because it was moved forward? If it is not a legal play what would the call be?

Answer (July 27, 2006):
We all need to remember that the kick-off is simply a way to get the game restarted after one team has scored a goal. While the requirement is indeed to kick, not “rake,” the ball so that it moves from “here” to “there,” referees over the years have been so lax in enforcing the Law that players have taken advantage of this laziness and invented their own methods of kicking off, including the “raking” and having the kicker’s teammate clearly in the opponent’s end of the field at the time of the restart. The intelligent referee will catch this foolishness the first time it occurs (for each team, of course) and have the players take the kick correctly. As the ball is not in play, the kick-off cannot be given to the other team instead.


This may be a fallacy, but I heard a rumor that USSF and OSI are trying to introduce a green uniform to be worn along with the other four. Now this is probably just a false rumor, but have there been talks about having a green uniform?

Answer (July 24, 2006):
We are not aware of any plans or decisions to add another color to the accepted list for referee shirts. Anything to do with the color of the referee uniform is the responsibility of the USSF Board of Directors, not the Referee Committee.


I recently viewed a replay of an EPL game from last season. As a referee runs up the field, the assistant referees are normally in front to the right and behind to the left. That is, the referee would be running a diagonal to the left. (If you see the game on TV, the assistants would appear on the lower right and upper left of the screen.) However, in this game the assistant referees were on the opposite sides (meaning in front to the left and behind to the right of the referee) and the referee was running a diagonal to the right.

Other than poor field conditions, what would cause a referee crew to use this type of coverage?

Answer (July 22, 2006):
The left diagonal (from lower right to upper left of the field) is fairly traditional here in the United States, no matter what the level of play, unless the field conditions call for using the right diagonal.

Although it is no longer much taught or used, at least in the United States, the rationale for running both the right and left diagonals (one in the first half, the other in the second half) was to provide a different view of the players. The referee who viewed the players while running the left diagonal in the first half might decide that it would better serve game management to run the other diagonal in the second half. It is, of course, possible to switch during a period; this would not violate any regulations or time-honored principles and might be the best solution for dealing with misconduct or unusual team tactics. One other reason to switch at the half might be to get the other AR to take responsibility of a “difficult” bench.

Here is a fact about switching diagonals that many people will not remember: During the days of the NASL, when many teams shared fields with Major League Baseball, the referees always ran both diagonals, switching at the half. Stadium owners demanded that this be done to protect their fields. If they did not switch, the linesmen, now called assistant referees, would wear paths into the surface of the field through their constant movement along the lines and spoil the field for baseball.

Finally, we would be remiss if we did not remind readers that the “diagonal” is no longer strictly a diagonal line, running from one corner of the field to the other. It is simply an old term for a now outmoded form of sharing the burden of game management between the on-field “chief,” the referee, and the assistant referees. Referees should be flexible and they and the ARs should follow the GUIDELINES given in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Official.”


In a championship game yesterday, a coach decided not to continue after 15 minutes into the game. His reasoning was that he did not have any substitute and he was afraid that some of his players were going to get hurt. I obviously ended the game and simply reported the incidence on the game card. I was told by the assignor and the District Referee Coordinator that I should have red carded the coach!! This was a USSF sanctioned game. I do not recall seeing anything in regards to red carding a coach for refusing to continue with the game. Could you please direct me to a proper position paper or article that covers such directive?

Answer (July 19, 2006):
Unless the rules of the competition specify it, no coach or other team official may be shown a card of any color in this or any other case. In any event, the referee has no authority to force a team to play if they do not wish to continue a game nor to terminate the match in such a case. The referee must simply do as you did: abandon the game and include all pertinent details in the match report.


If a player leaves the field to correct equipment, re-enters the field without permission of any official, and subsequently scores a goal before anyone notices that he has re-entered illegally, does the goal stand?

I would think the goal would stand, since he/she is a player, but a caution would be issued.

Answer (July 19, 2006):
A player who has been given permission or was ordered to leave the field to repair equipment or for medical treatment or clean-up of blood must have the referee’s permission to return. If this player returns to the field illegally, he or she must be removed and be cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without the referee’s permission. The goal cannot be allowed. As the game was stopped only at the scoring of the goal, the correct restart is a goal kick.


I read your [July 11, 2006] response to the Zidane head butt incident which got me to wondering. I, like the previous writer, thought that there was no going back to an incident after a restart. So then by following your logic, please discuss this situation:

AR signals (with a flag wag) a foul which the referee misses. Ball goes over goal line and referee restarts the game with a corner that goes in the net for a goal. AR makes the referee aware that there was a foul that was signaled and missed by referee prior to the corner restart. Goal or no goal? What is the restart? Why did the referee in the world Cup final restart after the Zidane incident with a dropped ball? And practically speaking, how far back in time (after how many restarts) can the referee go to correct a missed foul in the past?

You are a fantastic resource out there for us struggling in the trenches. You responses are thoughtful, consistent and humorous. I enjoy your forum tremendously.

Answer (July 17, 2006):
Aw, shucks!

If the foul prior to the corner kick restart was committed by the kicking team, the referee may decide to cancel the goal scored from the corner kick and go back to the foul. If the foul was committed by the defending team, the intelligent referee will simply allow the goal and restart with a kick-off.

The referee in the France-Italy game stopped play because of an apparent injury to Materazzi and to consult with his assistant referees and fourth official. Thus he was forced to restart with a dropped ball because, according to Law 8, a “dropped ball is a way of restarting the match after a temporary stoppage that becomes necessary, while the ball is in play, for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game.” If the referee had had credible evidence of the serious misconduct before he stopped play, then the correct restart would have been an indirect free kick.

As to how many restarts the referee could overturn in punishing a foul or misconduct, the answer is not firm, but common sense dictates that it not be more than one. Otherwise too much time will have elapsed. If it was misconduct, the referee will simply note the fact in the match report. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for an assistant referee to fail to communicate serious misconduct to the referee in any way possible before a first restart, much less a second.


I am currently in a soccer class and my teacher posed a question on what the infraction would be in this situation: The red team takes a shot on goal from outside the blue team’s penalty area. The blue goalkeeper knows that he can not make the save and will be scored on. However, the blue goalkeeper rather than trying to make the save, decides that he will physically pull the cross bar down and flip over the entire goal so that the ball can not enter the goal. The ball does not enter the goal (because of the goalkeeper’s unfair action). By doing this the goal keeper has denied an obvious goal.

What is the restart? Where is the restart? Why is restart at that location? What is the misconduct (card given) if any given for?

Answer (July 12, 2006):
The goalkeeper has committed at least one misconduct offense: Bringing the game into disrepute through his unsporting behavior (for which he could be cautioned) of moving the goal. Although it might appear that the ‘keeper was denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards his goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick (for which he could be sent off), there is not enough information to support that.  Your instructor has not told us how many defenders were between the kicker and the goal. If there was more than one defender, not counting the defender/player (in this case the goalkeeper) who committed the infringement), then there was no obvious goal scoring opportunity.

The restart is an indirect free kick for the opposing team. The indirect free kick is taken from where the offense occurred. In this case, the free kick would be taken from the spot on the goal area line that runs parallel to the goal line that is nearest to the place where the goalkeeper pulled down the goal.

If this extremely unlikely scenario actually occurs somewhere, the people responsible for the field have not done their job before the game. They have not ensured that the goal is properly secured to the ground, as required in Law 1: “Goals must be anchored securely to the ground. Portable goals may only be used if they satisfy this requirement.” If the goal was properly secured, no goalkeeper would have the time the scenario requires to have pulled down the goal. He would have had time only to begin bawling out his teammates for allowing the shot in the first place.


Does an assessor, working a game, have any responsibility similar to a 4th official to report to the referee an incident he saw but that the referee team did not observe (one player striking and seriously injuring an opponent)?

Answer (July 11, 2006):
Absolutely not! The assessor should have been taught in assessment training courses to keep his or her opinions to him- or herself until the postgame conference. An assessor should never interfere in any way in a game.


It is my understanding that if the referee wants to caution or eject player he/she must do so before the restart of play. If team restarts play quickly, referee must whistle right away to stop action and give appropriate card. In Sunday’s world cup final why was a card given to Zidane after play had restarted for a while after a handball by Del Pierro. Not trying to write that Zidane’s action didn’t merit an ejection but in my opinion the game had been restarted for too long for the referee to stop the game because of “injury” to Italian player and . Then Italian goalkeeper runs for 40 yds to referee to bring to his attention Zidane’s action, then referee consults all his assistants then give card to Zidane. This appears to be a violation of the laws of the game, same as issuing three yellow cards in one game.

Here is the chain of events:
– he blows the whistle at 17:57 of the OT and points for a French free kick (del Piero had just gone down on the ball and touched it with his arm). you can hear the whistle and there really is no other interpretation of what he called or signaled. at this point, the ball is probably 16 yards from midfield, slightly closer to the side of the field where the main camera is.

– at 18:00, he again signals in the direction of a French free kick and the ball is placed down by the French player with his hands and kicked to another French player standing right at midfield on the edge of the center circle furthest away from the side of the field where the main camera is.
– at 18:04, he blows the whistle to stop play for the injury and heads downfield to tend to the injured player.
– at 21:18, after giving the card, he returns to the edge of the center circle just on the Italian side of midfield and gives a drop ball. and, to the extent there was any doubt, the ball is dropped to Italy, who then play it back to France since they were in possession when play was stopped.

Answer (July 12, 2006):
While it may have seemed slightly irregular to send off Zidane after play had restarted following his violent conduct, it was perfectly correct. The referee is bound to caution or send off a player prior to the restart only if he or she has seen or been made aware of the incident prior to that restart. If the referee chooses to allow the restart after having seen the infringement, then nothing further can be done about it other than noting it in the match report. If, as in the case of Zidane’s violent conduct, the referee does not learn of it from one of the ARs or the fourth official until after the restart, then the referee may punish the misconduct as soon as he or she learns of it. There is no referee error here.


An assessor asks: The other day I assessed a PDL match. The visiting team went up 2-0 in the second half. Frustration popped here and there but nothing serious. My concern was drawn by the activity of the visiting team taking advantage of the situation with several dives by different players. These guys were good and the referee was talking to them however it continued with different team members.

Is there anything in the Federation’s teachings to deal with continual dives taking by different players on the same team? I am thinking of something like persistent fouls by different members on the same team against a member of the other team.

If I were the referee, I would start issuing yellow cards until the cows came home or they stopped. But that’s really not the answering I am looking for.

Let me know the proper way to deal with this issue if there is one.

Answer (July 5, 2006):
If players are diving, then they should be punished. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be cautioned immediately for unsporting behavior for their simulation; they can be left there, flopping around, until the referee has the opportunity to deal with it. If they are out of the game temporarily then their team suffers from one fewer player and will find it more difficult to play.

Persistent infringement of the Laws refers to violations of Law 12–and not for offside, second touch, illegal throw-in, etc. Certainly these players can be punished for persistent infringement for their serial misconduct, because the Law doesn’t specify that the infringement be a foul. The question is “why” the referee would apply the persistent infringement model to a continued pattern of simulation/dives without already having given the specified caution for unsporting behavior.


I’ve noticed that the referees at the World Cup during the taking of kicks from the penalty mark used to break a tie don’t seem to be enforcing the rule “the defending goalkeeper: remains on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goal posts until the kick has been taken.”

In almost every instance of this at the World Cup the goal keepers have been moving forward just prior to the ball being struck. Why is this being allowed? Why aren’t the teams affected protesting?

Answer (July 5, 2006):
In point of fact, the goalkeepers at World Cup 2006 have been much better about staying on their goal lines and any infringements have been exceedingly minor.

Referees are expected to enforce this aspect of the Law the same way they are supposed to enforce ALL the Laws of the Game–with a minimum of stoppages and only when the violation clearly made a difference. The World Cup is not, after all, schoolboy soccer.


Does US Soccer mandate the usage of cards for players in order to sanction a player? In other words….let’s say the entire referee team does not have any cards with them at that particular game and the referee wants to either caution or send off a player . Can this only be done is using cards, or can they send the player by simply telling them to leave the field?

I realize that the LOTG are pretty clear….. caution and show the yellow card/send off and show the red card. But what happens if you don’t have any cards (for whatever reason) with you? Does this negate the ability to sanction a player? Granted, this shouldn’t happen. Someone on the ref team should have cards….but…..

Answer (June 30, 2006):
While the Law may require cards, if the referee was so forgetful (and the ARs, too) as to bring cards, they should make do with a simple verbal notification. It would be best to then pass the information on to both captains–who may or may not remember to tell their coaches.

An alternative might be to create “cards” when it is discovered that no one brought any–two pieces of paper with “YELLOW” handwritten on one and “RED” written on the other.

Of course, if no one brought cards, perhaps no one brought paper, pens, pencils, whistles, etc. (Perhaps they had better check to see if they are wearing shorts.)


We have been instructed to adhere to the procedure
Issue Card

I have noticed that in the world cup, the referees have followed Isolate, Issue Card, Book. Is the USSF still asking/requiring referees to follow the former?

Players usually know the card is coming. By asking them to remain in close proximity while you book seems to only frustrate them further. Then, you run the risk of losing your composure and would be tempted to issue a second for dissent when the player walks away (I have never done this , but have seen refs carry that chip on their shoulder for the rest of the game.)

Not a major part of the game, but any clarification would be appreciated.

Answer (June 29, 2006):
The correct procedure for giving cards is found in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials”:
The referee does the following things:
– Makes clear verbally and/or by pointing to the whistle that play may not be restarted except by the referee¹s signal
– Quickly identifies and begins moving toward offending player while beckoning the player to approach
– Attempts to draw offending player away from teammates and opponents
– Discourages others from approaching, interfering or participating
– Stops a reasonable distance away from offending player and begins recording necessary information
– States clearly and concisely that the player is being cautioned or sent from the field and displays the appropriate card by holding it straight overhead
– If the player is being sent off, delays the restart of play until the player has left the field entirely
– In situations where the event or conduct being penalized includes the potential for retaliation or further misconduct, immediately moves to the location of the misconduct and displays the appropriate card before recording any information

A benefit of following this guidance is to help the referee ensure that no mistake has been made in the procedure, such as forgetting that a player has already been cautioned.


LAW 12 states: A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following six offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:
– kicks or attempts to kick an opponent

Two players are attempting to win a 50/50 ball ( no player has control of the ball ). Player A reaches the ball just in time to clear the ball, however kicks Player B in the knee cap with his followthrough swing. Is this a violation of LAW 12?

Answer (June 26, 2006):
Was the act careless on the part of the “kicker”? If so, then it is a foul. If it was simply a case of follow through after making contact with the ball and clearly NOT meant to harm the opponent, then there is no foul. In short, you had to be there.


I am a young referee, but have been doing it for about 5 years now and just finished a center for a U-13 boys state championship. In the half time discussion I had some experienced ARs and we had a small situation about corner kicks that lead to another question.
Situation 1: The attacking team decides to take a short corner, placing two people over the ball. Both posts have defenders right on the goal line including the keeper who is in the net. The ball is played from offensive player A to player B at which point no one pulls off the line. Before Player A enters the field after taking the kick the ball is played back to him. He is clearly over the goal line, but he keeps the ball in play. Is he offsides seeing as how he is clearly behind the second to last defender, but it is on the goal line. I came to the conclusion to let it play with no offsides. Was this the proper decision?
Situation 2: The attacking team looks like they are going to do a short corner, but Player A leaves the area and enters the box, however, when he leaves he gives the ball a slight nudge on the way by without anyone else noticing. Player B waits until the defenders have left him and follow Player A into the box then proceeds to dribble into the box unguarded. Is this a caution do to the play not being in “the spirit of the game” or is this something I should allow?

I am very interested to hear your response and I greatly appreciate your services, it is a big help to referees trying to improve and learn like myself. Thanks

Answer (June 26, 2006):
1. While no player can be offside directly from a corner kick, the same is not true as soon as any other player on the kicker’s team plays the ball. Although the kicker had been off the field and the defenders did not leave the posts, the kicker should be declared offside when his teammate plays the ball back to him and he enters the field to play it.

2. If the ball has been moved even a short distance from “here” to “there,” it is now in play. If there was a kicking motion this play is legal. It would not have been legal if the player simply tapped the top of the ball or brushed it with his foot–and did not move it from “here” to “there.”

2006 Part 2

Your question:
1. I have been lucky enough to get my hands on one of the 2006 World Cup referee jerseys. I know I cannot wear it in a match (correct me if I am allowed to do so!) under normal circumstances, but could I wear it in the following (unlikely) situation?

One team is in yellow, with their goalkeeper wearing black, and the other team is in blue, with their goalkeeper in red.

This obviously puts me out of choices as far as USSF-approved goes. I would plead exceptional circumstances (even if being assessed) in this situation and use the World Cup jersey if it’s the only thing that doesn’t result in a color conflict.

2. I am aware that USSF allows referees to wear the FIFA Fair Play patch on their uniforms. I would like to wear them, but cannot seem to get hold of any. Is their any way you might be able to assist me in this matter (I would like nine of them if possible please, one for each of my USSF jerseys and one for my World Cup jersey mentioned in the previous question)

USSF answer (June 25, 2006):
1. No, referees are not allowed to wear the 2006 WC jersey for any game affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation. The 2006 WC jersey does not follow the uniform guidelines. As to goalkeeper and team uniforms, the Law was changed in 2005: field players and goalkeepers must change, not the referee. (But use common sense in such cases.)

2. We have no idea where you will find the FIFA Fair Play patch, but its wear is permitted, following the guidelines in the answer of June 2, 2006.

Your question:
OK…I am a third year referee in need of some advice. In a boys recreation match (would be U-14 in travel) I did a while back, physical play was the dominating factor used when reffing the match. You could tell that these boys wanted to play scrappy. I even had to use the red card for a player who recieved two yellow cards. In the first instance where I issued a yellow, should I have given another warning in addition to the ones I had already given him? Or, would you call the yellow card to ensure that you have control of the match and to let players know where you stand on physical play?

USSF answer (June 25, 2006):
By the time players are 13 years old they should understand what a caution and a warning are. If you have given a clear warning that this sort of play or misconduct must stop, then no further warning is necessary. We are not on the field to be nice guys, but to maintain order in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the Laws. If a player is not following those, then the referee must step in with whatever measures are just and right for the safety of the players and the integrity of the game.

In this regard, there are two things to remember: First, all decisions about what action to take (i. e., the severity level of the response) regarding misconduct are at the core of the referee’s responsibility to manage the match and are specific to the match–in other words, no easy formulas. Second, USSF has provided some assistance to referees in this area (see the position paper on cautions and the memorandum on second cautions, both downloadable from the US Soccer website).

Your question:
It has been many years since I last played international soccer for my high school. At that time there were no yellow or red cards ever issued. I do not ever remember a player ordered off the field.

The last game the U.S.A played Italy June 17, 2006, the referee issued three red cards. The first to an Italian player then two more red cards to the American team.  The Italian player deserved to get the Red Card and ordered off the field, but the two American players did not deserve Red Cards and ordered off the field. The referee took offence to a gesture by the player and was given a Red Card, and not allowed to play the next game for the U.S.A. Where can I read more information on those cards?

Next, I did not know that yellow cards, or Red Cards carried over to the next game. How long will they be carried on for. The U.S.A Team was playing with four yellow cards. At that rate we will no longer have a U.S. A. World Cup Team.

USSF answer (June 19, 2006):
You would seem to have grown up in an idyllic place, where no one ever committed a cautionable offense or used violence as a playing tactic. If only we could all be so blessed.

We could not possibly comment on the cards issued to the players in the Italy-USA game.

What happens to players after cautions and send-offs is a matter for the particular competition (league, cup, tournament, whatever), each of which sets its own standards.  It is normal for a player who has been sent off to be suspended for the next game, and possible for more, depending on the offense.  FIFA has mandated the minimum one-game suspension for all games played under its authority and, several years ago, extended that mandate to all affiliated national associations. Many competitions, but most certainly FIFA, call for a player who has been cautioned twice in a segment of the competition (such as the first round in the World Cup) to be suspended from the game following the second caution. Some competitions allow the cards to be carried over into the next segment, others do not. You will have to check the rules for each competition to know for sure.

Your question:
Assume a full-length U-15 game is being played on a sunny, humid 95 degree day. It is a state league game and there is nothing in the rules about water breaks. In this situation:
1. Can the referee mandate a water break at the approximate midpoint of each half, if he deems it is in the best interest of the players’ safety?
2. If he cannot mandate it, can he suggest it to the two coaches and, with the agreement of both of them, then implement the water breaks?
3. If #’s 1 and 2 are not permitted, can he allow it if both coaches approach him and request it on their own?

Your advice on this situation would be very much appreciated.

USSF answer (June 16, 2006):
A good question and one that is somewhat complicated to answer.

Despite adjuring the referee to protect the safety of the players, the Laws of the Game do not permit the referee to stop the game for water breaks. However, some competitions (leagues or tournaments) have seen fit to include water breaks in their rules of competition. If the referee accepts an assignment in such a competition, he or she has no direct authority to vary the rules of the competition.

In those competitions that do not provide for water breaks, the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players. Preventing injury from heat exhaustion would fall into that aspect of the referee’s duties. The answer may be summed up in two words: common sense.

In fact, both the referee and the team officials share in the responsibility to protect player safety. The referee could, at a stoppage called for any reason, “suggest” the taking of water by any players interested in doing so. The timing of such a break and its length would be at the discretion of the referee. Obviously, the referee could decide to take this approach on his or her own initiative, with or without prior consultation with the coaches. However, either or both coaches could approach the referee prior to the match and suggest the need for extra hydration, in which case the intelligent referee would be well advised to listen and act accordingly. Of course, the Law also permits players to take water during the match so long as they do not leave the field, water containers are not thrown to them while on the field, and the water itself is not placed along the outside of the field so as to interfere with the responsibilities of the assistant referee. (See the guidance on water and hydration provided in the USSF memorandum of April 26, 2002, available on the USSF website.)

The USSF publication “Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players” for 2006 states:
24. Liquid refreshments during the match
Players shall be entitled to take liquid refreshments during a stoppage in the match but only on the touchline. Players may not leave the field during play to take liquids. It is forbidden to throw plastic water bags or any other water containers onto or from the field.

Your question:
In case of a legal dropped ball due to a stoppage of play for an injury, the players from BOTH teams huddled around the place where the ref was about to drop the ball in order to restart play. The coach said that there is no legal distance that is required for his players to stand and that the ref does not need to know who will be kicking the dropped ball from his team. About 6 players from each team were all huddled within 5 inches of the potential dropped ball area. Therefore, the ref [me] said that I need to know who will be kicking the ball once it touches the ground and that other players need to stand back to a distance that I [the ref] say is sufficient.

1] Is there a legal ruling about the distance allowable for the players from the spot that the ref will drop the ball?
2] Must each team select one player who will be kicking the ball once it is dropped?
3] How would YOU handle this situation if it occurs again?

This is what my response would be, so let me know how good or bad it is:
The coach is correct, there is no distance that players are required to be from the ball. Nor is there any specification as to how many players may participate, or therefore, who would be trying to gain control of the ball. Drop the ball, and hope it touches the ground before a player touches it. If it does not touch the ground before a player touches it, warn the player(s), and drop it again. If it does not touch the ground before a player touches it again, you could caution the player(s) involved in the touch( be careful of the age level).

What I would like to add, but I don’t think I should, is “There is also no specification as to when the ball is dropped.”

Let me know the official response please.

USSF answer (June 15, 2006):
We know for certain that there is no requirement that players from both teams‹or that any player‹must take part at a dropped ball. However, the IFAB/FIFA Q&A tells us, under Law 8 (Q&A 2), that “any player may take part.” This means that there is no requirement for a “nominated dropped ball taker.”

We also know that it is the referee who decides where the ball is to be dropped. One reasonable solution would be to walk briskly to a point several yards away from this cluster of players (hiding any irritation at the need to take such a step and not hinting at what you are about to do) and then drop the ball.

The referee’s job is simply to drop the ball and, if someone touches or plays it before it hits the ground and goes into play, to stop play and restart with another dropped ball. It is not the referee’s job to instruct players or coaches on tactics, but to call the game in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Law.

Your question:
My daughter was playing in a U12 game and 2 situations occurred. A free kick was awarded to the opposing near our goal, not in the penalty box. The player kicking the ball on the opposing team did not ask for 10 yards for spacing between her and the wall. The referee proceeded though in getting the 10 yards distance. The referee did not like where the wall was and wanted them to move back. He threatened The wall by telling them if they do not move a red card will be issued to one of the girls.
Question: Is this the way the above situation should have been handled as correct? If not can you provide the correct manner in what should have happened or any other details?

Situation 2: Towards the end of the game 2 players were battling for the ball near the opposing team’s goal. The red team¹s player went down in what probably should have been a foul on the yellow player but none was called. The ball went out of play and the red played lay motionless for at least 30 secs. The referee never went over to the downed player to check on the status. The whistle was then blown to signal the end of the game. The referee never went to check on the status of the downed player.
Is this the correct procedure of a referee when a player becomes injured?

Any info would be appreciated.

USSF answer (June 13, 2006):
1. Normally, we do instruct referees to allow the kicking team to take the kick quickly, if they wish, without interfering with it.  However, if, in the opinion of the referee, the defenders are too close to the kick, he or she may move the wall back, no matter whether or not the kicking team asks for it.  This would particularly be the case with younger players who appeared to have neither the knowledge of their rights nor the skill to take advantage of them.

Something more disturbing than that occurred in this situation when the referee threatened to send off and show the red card to the defenders who were reluctant to move back.  Unless they already had been cautioned, the worst the referee could do would be to caution them for failing to respect the required distance and show the yellow card.

2. The referee is not required to stop play when a player is down unless he or she believes that player to be seriously injured.  Nor, unless trained and certified to provide medical assistance, would there ordinarily be a need for the referee to attend to the player beyond a cursory determination that the injury was, indeed, serious enough to stop play. As above, this would be interpreted generously in the case of younger players.

Your question:
At what point do we as referees have the ability to enforce the laws of the game?

This is not a joke. It actually happened to me prior to a boys U18 game.

I arrived at the field during a downpour and lightening and was informed that the teams would wait in their cars until the prescribed time after the last lightening strike. While waiting, I noticed an individual, whom later I discovered was a player, dribbling a soccer ball onto the field naked. After about three minutes, he left the field. The rain subsided about 15 minutes later and we all took the field to warmup and start the game.

Would it have been appropriate at that time, since I knew who the player was, to have issued a caution for unsporting behaviour? A send-off for offensive/abusive language (non-verbal)?

USSF answer (June 5, 2006):
Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has the authority to take disciplinary sanctions from the moment he or she enters the field of play until he or she leaves the area of the field of play after the final whistle.  This includes the period of time immediately prior to the start of play during which players and substitutes are physically on the field warming up, stretching, or otherwise preparing for the match.

The behavior you describe would fall most nearly into the catch-all category called bringing the game into disrepute. The problem is that it didn’t occur during the game itself, nor even truly during the warming up period. It appears to have been something done as the result of a dare. Once you determined who the player was, the most appropriate thing to do would be to call the player and the team captain to you and tell them that the player was being cautioned for unsporting behavior. Then show the yellow card and include full details in the match report.

Your question:
Real Situation:
Two teams showed up wearing almost identicle shirt colors, one is solid blue the other had a little white on the sleeves. The two coaches argued over who had to change their shirts. They didn’t compromise and the referee didnt ask them to change shirts. If I had been referee which team should I have made change shirts?

USSF answer (June 5, 2006):
It is safest to check the league rules to see what they specify. If that is either impossible or the rules do not cover the matter, then remember that it is traditional for the visiting team to change if there is a conflict in colors.

Your question:
I have two questions about play that really bother me and I don’t know how to makes these calls correctly:
1. the ball is going out of play, the defender gets to the ball and shields the ball and moves with the ball towards the line, using a shielding technique, the offensive player follows the defender pushing from behind and at the line as the ball goes out of play pushes the defender in the back to the ground. what is the call? the other day in a tournament I warned the offensive player once and the second time I cautioned the player and heard from a host of people including some referees that was allowable play.

2. on a corner kick, the offensive and defensive players prior to the ball being in play, push and grab, and shove for position to the point that a defensive player is moved out of position and turns to face the offensive player who had pushed him from behind. what is the call?

USSF answer (June 5, 2006):
1. If the defender who is shielding is within playing distance of the ball, then he or she is not infringing the Law. The opposing player is not allowed to use the hands to get at the defender. In short, the shielding is permitted, the pushing is not. The correct call is either pushing or holding, as appropriate to the action. Direct free kick for the offender’s team.

2. The intelligent referee will be proactive and speak to the players concerned before there is any confrontation. Let them know that you see what is going on and warn them not to continue. If they do continue before the ball is in play, treat it as unsporting behavior and caution accordingly. And if they continue it after the ball is kicked, treat it as a foul (plus, perhaps, misconduct) and restart accordingly.

Your question:
My question is regarding the World Cup Friendly between Iran and Croatia. In the 97th minute, the referee awarded Croatia a penalty kick. While the Croatian player was in the process of shooting, a teammate of his entered the Penalty area. Law 14 clearly states that if a teammate is to enter the area and the ball enters the goal, the kick is to be retaken. However, the referee allowed the play to continue and the score became tied at 2-2, he then ended the match. Is that correct? Here is the link to the video; the PK is awarded at 3:45 in the video:

USSF answer (June 4, 2006):
It isn’t necessary to view the clip to answer your question because the clip shows exactly what you described.

The action of the teammate of the kicker had no impact on the play (the penalty kick was a direct shot on goal in which the ball had no trouble entering the net entirely on its own). Accordingly, the only answer possible is that your statement of the Law is correct.

Your question:
I was an AR involved in a recent tournament match and had a scenario develop that I¹m not quite sure was the proper decision. Here¹s the scenario:
An attacker was fouled by a defender in the penalty area close to me and directly in my line of sight but partially screened from the referee¹s view. The foul caused the attacker to go down injured. I signalled to get the referee¹s attention just as the defensive team started a counter attack. The referee, not seeing the foul, waved me off, apparently thinking I was signalling the injured player Play continued for a few touches before a team mate put the ball out for an injury stoppage. After the referee checked on the player, he backed up to me to inquire about what happened. That¹s when I informed him that the injury was the result of a foul that he was screened on and that I was trying to signal a PK. The referee decided that even though play had continued for a few touches, that the injury was a continuation of the original foul I was trying to indicate and since there hadn¹t been a restart, in the spirit of the game, that a PK could still be awarded. That PK turned out to be the difference in the match.

My questions are: should the PK have been awarded in this circumstance or is the only recourse after play continues the ability to issue a card at the next stoppage?

This became a hot topic in the ref tent, I¹d like to get a qualified opinion to let everyone know the correct decision.

USSF answer (June 2, 2006):
An assistant referee will never signal to the referee that a player is injured, as only the referee can make that determination. Your flag was correct and, if the referee gave proper instructions in the pregame conference–i. e., signal an infringement only when the referee cannot see it, he should have known what was going on. However, let us emphasize that there would have been no mistaking the signal if, after raising the flag straight up and making eye contact with the referee, you would have given the flag 2-3 waggles (not semaphores). The referee would have known exactly that it was a foul being signaled.  If he stopped play and you had then dropped the flag and begun moving toward the goal line, the referee would have known that the foul had been committed by a defender inside the penalty area and you were recommending a penalty kick.  The system works, if only officials would use it!

And yes, despite the time lost, the game had not otherwise stopped and restarted, so the penalty kick restart was correct.

Your question:
I am a grade 8 referee and was wondering does the United States Soccer Federation permit referees to wear the FIFA Fair Play Badge on their uniform or is it prohibited. Or is it up to the state federation. The basic question here is “can I wear the FIFA Fair Play Badge even though I’m not an international official.” I would appreciate any response.

USSF answer (June 2, 2006):
Yes, you may wear the FIFA Fair Play badge without being a member of the International Panel. It may be worn on the right sleeve, centered between shoulder and elbow on a long-sleeved shirt and between shoulder and cuff on a short-sleeved shirt.

Your question:
I was the AR1 in a U12 Competitive state championship match, with an experienced referee in the center and youth referee as the AR2. A player from Team A was tripped, and the referee gave a DFK ~25 yards from the goal. Team B set up a wall, and had no defenders (other than the goal keeper) closer to the goal line than the members of the wall. Team A had one player past the wall and within the penalty area, clearly in an offside position. When the kick was taken, it was drilled into the upper left corner of the goal – untouched by any other player. To my surprise, and to the dismay of the coaches behind me, the AR raised his flag indicating offside. The referee went over to the AR, discussed the call with him, and then upheld the offside call and prepared to restart with an IFK for Team B. The coaches for Team A succeeded in getting the referee’s attention, and he came over to explain that the player in the offside position had become part of active play by “seeking to gain advantage” by being in that position. This did not go over very well with the coaches (or me for that matter), but I did not feel that in my position as AR that I could openly contest a judgment call. The goal was disallowed and play was restarted with the IFK.

At the half I discussed the offside call with both the referee and the other AR, said that I did not believe that the word “seeking” appeared in Law 11, and that the player had to actually gain an advantage. If the referee had said that the player in an offside position had obstructed the vision of the keeper (preventing him from reacting in time to make a play on the ball) I would have been more comfortable with the call, but the referee insisted that by being in the penalty area the player was “seeking to gain and advantage” and was therefore offside.

Two questions:
1. Does the word “seeking” occur in conjunction with “gaining an advantage” in any memoranda or advice on Law 11?
2. If not, should I have made an effort to convince the referee that his call was incorrect, possibly within the vicinity of the upset coaches? This might have crossed the line from assist to insist, and the referee was clearly unlikely to change his call.

USSF answer (June 2, 2006):
Lesson the first: Experience does not always equal advanced knowledge. It is often the case that it actually equates to using the same old (erroneous) information over and over again.

Lesson the second: The word “seeking” does not occur in the Laws of the Game, and has not since it was removed from Law 11 effective 1 July 1995. The word “seeking” has since been used by the IFAB (the folks who write the Laws of the Game) in a totally different context in 2002, in a statement regarding simulation (faking an injury or a foul): “players seeking an unfair advantage by pretending to be fouled.” And even that was not in the Laws themselves, but in a memorandum on the amendments in the Laws for that year.

Your answers:
1. See above.

2. While the assistant referee should never insist, he or she should assist the referee in all things. In your example that would be best accomplished by not embarrassing the referee when trying to convince that official that he or she might wish to look at a situation in another light. Keep out of hearing of the coaches and players. Lay out the facts as you see them and can support them. If the referee declines to use your information, do not insist–no matter how right you are. However, if you believe the referee’s decision is to the detriment of the game and of other referees, you can also inform the referee that you will prepare a report of your own on the game and submit it to the appropriate refereeing authorities.

Your question:
With the new “additional instruction” on cautioning players who delay the restart of play, another question arose.

It’s the situation where the Referee stops play on an attack (usually for “offside”) and the attacking player (might take a couple of touches and) takes a shot.

I’ve tried to “anticipate and forestall such offenses” and have made sure that I FIRMLY talk with that player in such a way that everyone else understands that I’m “dealing” with that situation.

However, when the inevitable second occurrence or “flagrant” scenario occurs, what is the “reported” caution? Unsporting Behavior or Dissent or Delaying the Restart?

Usually, I chose unsporting. Sometimes, dissent. Now it appears you could a case for “delaying the restart” IF in your opinion it was done to “provoke a confrontation”.

USSF answer (June 2, 2006):
The correct decision would be to caution the player for delaying the restart of play.

Your question:
After reviewing the new 2006 Memorandum, I had the same question that appears on the USSF “Ask A Referee” website concerning the 3 reasons to caution a substitute/substituted player (doesn’t appear to cover infringement on Law 3).

Can you explain the “Answer (May 22, 2006): xxxxx”?

USSF answer (June 2, 2006):
Law 3 clearly establishes that when a substitute or substituted player enters the field without permission it is misconduct. Law 12 mandates only three reasons that substitutes and substituted players can be cautioned and this is the most likely of the three. Whether that was the IFAB’s intention is unknown–but until and unless they say otherwise, that’s what we need to do.

NOTE: See also the IFAB/FIFA Q&A 2006, which mandates a caution for unsporting behavior for this offense. The Q&A was issued June 2, after this answer was posted.

Your question:
I have two questions regarding Law 3 from games I observed this weekend.

(1) In a youth tournament, competition rules specify there will be no stoppage time; competition rules permit unlimited substitutions (before a goal kick, a kick-off, or a team’s own throw-in). As the match is nearing completion, one team is ahead by one goal. The team that is ahead begins to repeatedly substitute players one at a time, in what appears to be an attempt to waste time. What actions are appropriate to prevent/penalize this unsporting behaviour by the coach? I would not want to punish the players by not permitting the substitution (it is hot in Virginia in May), but “excessive substitutions” is not a cautionable offense.

USSF answer (May 20, 2006):
One of the hardest rules in refereeing is that once you accept the assignment, you have to follow the rules of the competition, no matter how much they may differ from the Laws of the Game. A good rule is to know what the rules are before accepting the assignment. QUOTE
Referees should prevent unnecessary delays due to the substitution process. One source of delay is a request for a substitution that occurs just as a player starts to put the ball back into play. This often (incorrectly) results in the restart being called back and retaken. Another common source of delay is a substitute player who is not prepared to take the field when the request to substitute is made. In each case, the referee should order play to be restarted despite the request and inform the coach that the substitution can be made at the next opportunity.

The referee shall not prevent a team from restarting play if the substitute had not reported to the appropriate official before play stopped.

The referee should exercise common sense in choosing whether or not to recognize the substitution request–and, as soon as delaying tactics become obvious, should communicate this to the assistant referee and to the teams.

Your question:
I was asked this question and was not sure how to answer. Would a goal that was scored count if a injury is faked beforehand? Attacking player faked an injury while team mate scored a goal. Does the goal stand?

The player faking the injury was cautioned.

USSF answer (May 30, 2006):
The Laws are quite clear on what to do when a player “simulates” or fakes an injury. That player is guilty of misconduct and must be cautioned for unsporting behavior. If a player commits misconduct and his or her team subsequently shoots the ball into the goal, the goal must be denied and the player cautioned and shown the yellow card. The restart is an indirect free kick to the opposing team from the place where the misconduct occurred.

Your question:
In a recent U-19 Boys game, following a goal scored on keeper A, keeper A removed his jersey and left the field. Another player then put on the jersey and assumed the keeper’s position. Although this is a bigger issue for the coach, are the potential cautions to be issued 1) unsporting behavior for removing the jersey; 2) unsporting behavior for changing keepers without notifying the referee (both Keeper A and the player that assumed the position); and 3) leaving the field without permission? Would the answer be different if the keeper left the field before the player assumed his position (the issue being when does a player that voluntarily leaves the pitch become a non-player if the substitution procedure is not completed?). Or, in another view, would these be considered a single offense for which only one card should be issued?

USSF answer (May 27, 2006):
By the age of 18, players (and their coaches) should know enough of the Laws of the Game to understand that the goalkeeper cannot simply leave the field and have a teammate assume the role of goalkeeper without the permission of the referee. Of course there are potential cautions to be given, but that action requires a bit of common sense on the referee’s part.

There are two reasons why there should be no caution here. You didn’t mention it at all, but it seems odd that the referee could possibly miss this action. If in fact the referee saw it and took no action, he or she de facto recognized the substitution–or exchange, it is not clear from the question–for the goalkeeper and thus there is no basis for a caution for that offense. Neither is there any basis for cautioning the goalkeeper for removing the shirt. The caution for this offense is normally given to players or other team personnel who taunt their opponents or disagree with a decision or delay the restart of play by prolonging their celebration of a goal, but none of those would seem to be the case here.

As to administering any caution at all in this instance, the referee’s decision will depend on two things: (1) how much common sense he or she has and (2) what his or her needs are for player management and discipline in this particular game. There is nothing that can be done to repair a lack of common sense, but if it is a discipline or player management problem, the referee must look first at him- or herself to see why and where the faulty player behavior may have arisen. That accomplished, the referee will then deal accordingly, exercising the intelligence and common sense he or she must have. It is a poor referee who punishes simply for the sake of punishment; there must be something to be gained from the action. It is self-defeating to incur more player wrath over a small matter. Or, as in this case, an apparently nonexistent offense.

Your question:
During a conversation with another referee he mentioned that if the goalie moves in front of his last defender, which now makes the goalie the second last defender. The opponent would be off sides if he receives the ball and was positioned behind the goalie. I’m not sure if I agree with that. This can occur during corner kicks, close shots and numerous other circumstances. I have always used the last defender as my reference point, which, in my opinion excludes the goalie. This could be a “hard sell” to the attacking team. Please advise.

USSF answer (May 24, 2006):
Calling anything other than offside would be wrong. The Law tells us that a player is not in an offside position if he or she is in his/her own half of the field of play or is level with the second last opponent or is level with the last two opponents. It does not say anything about “defenders” or “goalkeeper”; it talks about “opponents.” The goalkeeper is a player and is an opponent of the team attacking the ‘keeper’s goal. Under the Laws of the Game, the goalkeeper is a different sort of player, with some special privileges, but her or she is still a “player,” clear and simple.

If a goalkeeper has only one teammate nearer to his/her goal, that makes the goalkeeper the second last opponent. In this situation, any attacking player who is nearer to the goalkeeper’s goal than the goalkeeper is in an offside position. If that player was in that position when the ball was last played by a teammate and becomes actively involved in play, that player is offside.

And on corner kicks no player can be directly offside, no matter who is positioned where.

Your question:
I have a U10 team. I recently had a game where the opposing coach, after getting up a couple of goals, had his players kick the ball out as far as they could every time they came in contact with the ball. This included all players, forwards or defense or whether there was an opposing player close by or not. This type of play went on for 20 minutes until the end of the game. The young ref was of no help and the other coach was from England and told me that there was no delay of game do to this type of play anywhere in the world. Now I understand kicking the ball out on a breakaway, injury or to prevent advancement to the goal, but this was simply to keep the time going with no chance to have a soccer game. Is there any ruling to prevent this type of play. By the way his type of play worked we were unable to score except for a midfield luck shot.

USSF answer (May 23, 2006):
Kicking the ball out of play is not against the letter of the Laws of the Game, even if it continues throughout the match. It is, however, against the Spirit of the Game. For the first several such plays, the referee will simply add time. If it continues and is obviously designed to waste time, the referee still has no authority to punish the team that practices the tactic. However, the intelligent referee will make it abundantly clear to the team captains (and have them instruct both their players and their team officials) that full time will be added for every kick that is obviously designed to waste time. The referee will also include full details in the match report, noting clearly why a game that should have taken x minutes of time ended up taking x-plus y minutes of time.

Your question:
In the new 2006 Law changes, cautions and sendoff sections have now been divided into portions for players, and separate section for substitutes and substituted players. However, the substitutes/substituted players section seems to omit the obvious offense of ³Entering the field without permission². This is an offense which generally occurs more often in fact with substitutes and substituted players than with players (though it can occur with players as well).

Q. Is this omission purposeful (e.g. is it now not possible to caution for illegally entering the field of play (seems unlikely in intent)), or was it simply an error on the part of IFAB that will hopefully some day be fixed in a future version of the Laws?

USSF answer (May 22, 2006):
That is likely because the offense is already covered under Law 3, although the caution is for unsporting behavior, not for entering without permission. (This was covered in the amendments to the Laws for 2006, but went into effect immediately after the IFAB meeting of March 4, 2006.) NOTE: See also the IFAB/FIFA Q&A 2006, which mandates a caution for unsporting behavior for this offense. The Q&A was issued June 2, after this answer was posted.

Your question:
I ‘ve got a question regarding Center Referee position during a Corner Kick. Specifically, a Corner Kick taken on the Referee’s side of the field as opposed to the AR’s side of the field. I generally find that I have a good field of view while standing on the Penatly Box/Arc intersection furthes from the kicker. In that position, I can watch the players in the box while the AR watches along the goal line. However, I’ve recently been told that I should be nearer to the kick…in the vicinity of the Penalty Box/Arc intersection nearest the kicker. What say you?

USSF answer (May 22, 2006):
The referee should always take up a position that is both intelligent and flexible. If you were to look at the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials,” you would find an illustration of the appropriate position–in the form of a suggested “zone,” in which the referee moves to suit the way the players are setting up, and from which the referee may move as necessary to have the best view of where play will go and of the assistant referee, as well as staying out of space the players need.

If you don’t already have a copy, it may be downloaded from the referee webpage at the US Soccer website.

Your question:
i centered a game in which none of the players wore jerseys with numbers or any other form of was (fortunately) an uneventful match in terms of player conduct, but it left me wondering how the intelligent refereee would go about identifying players if misconduct such as persistent infringement occured.

USSF answer (May 22, 2006):
We would recommend never refereeing or running the line in a game in which the players do not wear numbers. That sort of proactive refereeing would do away with the problem altogether.

The matter of numbers is governed by the local rules of competition.  If the local rules are totally silent on this matter–or if this is a “pick-up game,” in which case it is an unsanctioned match–then there isn’t much the referee can do if he or she has accepted the assignment.  If the local rules do require numbers, then the referee has a basis for requiring something be done (yet another use for the versatile duct tape roll!) before play begins.

Your question:
The denial of letting players block the defensive “wall” by attackers getting in front of the “wall” on hands and knees that was in the May 8 edition of Ask A Soccer Referee leads me to contemplate variations of blocking the “wall” that would be acceptable.

It is common for attackers to squeeze into the defensive “wall” and to stand in front of it. Why not kneel in front of the “wall” instead of standing? Why not squat partially or completely with bended knees? Why not stand with interlocked arms or with arms over the shoulders or with outstretched arms held about face height? Why not stand facing the defenders keeping one’s face in front of the defender’s, even as the defenders try to see beyond?

I’m unsure what the protocol should be in judging what foolishness should be overlooked by the referee and when that behavior becomes an infraction. Kneeling, sitting or lying in front of a “wall” seems a non-beneficial tactic at best and more likely plain stupid.

Since the defenders have no right to form a wall, should not inch forward, can be impeded to the extent that attackers may post themselves in front of the wall (especially in front of that defender who is designated to rush to the ball a trivial moment before it is kicked) it seems to be a situation where the referee should just wait and see what infraction develops, if any.

I need some elaboration beyond the advice that getting on hands and knees in front of the “wall” is unsporting behavior. Thank you.

USSF answer (May 22, 2006):
Kneeling, squatting or standing with arms linked or outstretched are unnatural positions for players. While the defending team has no right to form a wall–surprise, surprise, coaches!–neither may the defenders be hindered physically from attempting to play the ball legally. Such methods as you describe go beyond the deceptive tactics mentioned in the May 8 answer and, in addition to constituting either holding or impeding, might be considered unsporting behavior.

Your question:
Since this is not addressed with similar language in the ATR regarding Law 13: I am wondering if all that is stated in ATR 16.3 would also be true if the restart being performed was a free kick (under law 13) instead of a goal kick (including the statement regarding not applying advantage since the second touch is not a violation of law 12).

USSF answer (May 18, 2006):
Even if the goalkeeper was outside the penalty area, the posited scenario would not constitute an obvious goalscoring opportunity (OGSO), because the Law does not allow a goal to count if it comes directly from the team’s own free kick.  Accordingly, up to the moment of touching the ball, it could never be considered an OGSO.  If the ‘keeper handles the ball inside his or her own penalty area, indirect free kick restart; if outside the penalty area, direct free kick for deliberate handling; if the ball makes contact with the ‘keeper’s hand and then goes into the net, the goal is counted no matter where the goalkeeper is–because this is now an infringement of Law 12. The correct decision, as in the case of the goal kick, is to award the opposing team an indirect free kick at the place where the goalkeeper touched the ball with his or her hands, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8.

Your question:
Is the rule for spitting based on disrespect or is there intention to eliminate the passing of germs? I have seen players spit on their palms for getting a better grip on the ball. Is that acceptable or ?

USSF answer (May 11, 2006):
Spitting at another person is an extremely disrespectful and disgusting act, universally held in contempt.

Spitting on one’s hands to get a better grip on the ball, on the other hand, is an accepted means of increasing grip. The amount of spittle remaining when the ball is next played by another player is negligible.

Your question:
In attending a recent recertification clinic, It was mentioned that Soccer Docs will be allowed in Youth games U9-U19.  In researching this, I have found no written policy by USSF or referee position papers on this.  I do understand about religious head apparel that is acceptable as long as it is not a danger to anyone.

Are the Soccer Docs acceptable(in the opinion of the referee) or not.  Is there any written statement either way. I just want to make sure that we are consistent with the laws of the game and that our referees in our soccer club are consistent as well.

USSF answer (May 11, 2006):
Players may wear any equipment that is not dangerous to themselves or other participants. This was clearly outlined in a USSF position paper of 3 September 2003, which is still valid:
From the U.S. Soccer Communications Center — Sept. 4, 2003
Subject: Players Wearing Non-Compulsory Equipment
Date: September 3, 2003

On August 25, 2003, FIFA issued Circular #863, regarding the legality of players wearing non-compulsory equipment.

FIFA notes that, under the “Powers and Duties” of the referee in Law 5 — The Referee, he or she has the authority to ensure that the players’ equipment meets the requirements of Law 4, which states that a player must not wear anything that is dangerous.

Modern protective equipment such as headgear, facemasks, knee and arm protectors made of soft, lightweight, padded material are not considered dangerous and are therefore permitted.

FIFA also wishes to strongly endorse the statement on the use of sports spectacles made by the International F.A. Board on March 10, 2001, and subsequently in FIFA Circular #750, dated April 10, 2001. New technology has made sports spectacles much safer, both for the player himself or herself and for other players. This applies particularly to younger players.

Referees are expected to take full account of this fact and it would be considered extremely unusual for a referee to prevent a player taking part in a match because he or she was wearing modern sports spectacles.

Referees are reminded of the following points which can assist in guiding their decisions on this matter:
Look to the applicable rules of the competition authority.
Inspect the equipment.
Focus on the equipment itself ­ not how it might be improperly used, or whether it actually protects the player.
Remember that the referee is the final word on whether equipment is dangerous.

The Federation cannot and does not either approve or disapprove of any headgear.

Your question:
A tie game is to be decided by penalty kicks.The teams are told to not leave the field. A minute is spent organizing the taking of the kicks. We pick the goal,etc. During this time the adults are allowed to get a drink on the field. As we get started, a player announces: so and so left the field to get a drink. The league coordinator and the other ref tell the player he can’t kick since he left the field. After much ado, he is sent off. Was this decision proper?

USSF answer (May 10, 2006):
Common sense tells us, even though a player is not supposed to leave the field once the process of kicks from the penalty mark has begun, that going off the field for a drink and then returning for the kicks is a VERY minor infringement of the Laws, one that should be considered trifling. Unless the player leaving the field was deemed to be part of a stratagem to confuse the officials and thus an effort to result in someone participating who was NOT eligible, then let it go.

Your question:
During a game today (and in most youth games), the referee automatically asked my players to step back and give the other team a mandatory 10 yards.

I have 2 problems with this assuming “Persistent Encroachment” is not occurring (6-8 yards off the ball is fair unless asked for by the opposing team):
1. The player on the ball, not a sideline parent or coach must ask for the 10 yards. It is should not be assumed that the team with the free kick wants 10 yards.
2. What if the team on the ball wants to play quick and does not want or need the 10 yards?

The referee came up to me after the game and told me I need to tell my girls that they needed to give 10 yards, regardless if the player asks for it or not. At first I responded, that is not what the Laws of Games state, he continued to argue with me in front of the players and said he has been doing this for 20 years and has read the RULES 500 times.

Can you please clarify? I live with two referees who hear this all the time from me.

USSF answer (May 9, 2006):
Your contention that the players do not have to move back 10 yards immediately at a free kick is a false one. Law 13 (Free Kicks) tells us quite clearly: all opponents are at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball until it is in play (except at an indirect free kick within their own penalty area, when they may remain on their goal line and between the goalposts). There is no requirement that players must ask for the ten yards.

You are failing to distinguish what the Law requires versus what the referee needs to enforce. While the players must retire the obligatory distance from free kicks and corner kicks and now from throw-ins as well, the referee’s job is to keep his mouth shut and let the attackers (the ones in control of the restart) decide whether, how, and to what extent they want this requirement enforced. Otherwise, the referee should treat the offense as trifling unless the opponent ACTUALLY interferes with play from within 10 yards (usually meaning makes contact with the ball through some deliberate action as opposed to receiving a ball kicked directly to him/her).

In significantly more words, here is what we advise referees, taken from the upcoming 2006 edition of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
If the referee decides to delay the restart and to enforce the required minimum distance, the referee must quickly and emphatically indicate to the attackers that they may not now restart play until given a clear signal to do so. Under these circumstances, an attacker who restarts play without a signal should be verbally warned and, upon repetition, be cautioned for unsporting behavior. The free kick in such cases must be retaken, regardless of the result of the original kick. An opponent who moves closer to the spot of the kick (from any direction) before it is taken must be cautioned and shown the yellow card if the referee has delayed the restart to ensure that the opponents are at the minimum distance.

If one or more opponents fail to respect the required distance before the ball is properly put into play, the referee should stop the restart to deal with this infringement. The free kick must be retaken even if the momentum of play causes the ball to be kicked before the referee signals. The infringement plus the referee’s decision to deal with it cancel any apparent restart regardless of a delay in announcing the decision. However, referees are also expected to consider whether the infringement on the minimum distance was trifling (had no effect on the freedom of the attackers to restart) and, if so, to refrain from issuing a caution and to allow play to proceed.

The referee is expected to deal with opponents who fail to respect the required distance, even in situations in which they were induced to do so by attackers appearing to put the ball into play, but where the ball was not kicked (touched with the foot and moved).

An attacking team which chooses to take a free kick with an opponent closer than the minimum distance may not thereafter claim infringement of the distance requirement, even if the ball is kicked to the infringing opponent, who thereby is able to control the ball without moving toward it. In such a case, the referee cannot caution the opponent who has not remained the required distance from the ball.

Your question:
“U-16 game in [deleted] Cup this weekend… there is an IFK against us near the edge of our 18 yard line. We set up our wall and then 2 opposing players go right up to the wall on either side, get down on their hands and knees right in front of our players, and then start leaning into the knees of the players that were part of the wall and trying to push them back/prevent them from stepping up without tripping over them. Referee saw nothing wrong with it. I have a feeling it has to be illegal somehow. As one ref friend of mine said, maybe call dangerous play if they do trip one of the players trying to come forward after the 1st touch, but the issue there is, they may not move and thus not trip…so hopefully it’s covered under something else. It may or may not have technically been legal, but I definitely think it was dirty and unnecessary. For the record, they didn’t score on the play anyway.”

I and other refs on the board have advised that the referee should stop the kick from proceeding and tell the players to get up. If they don’t get up, they should be cautioned for dissent or USB. If the kick takes place prior to the referee being able to stop it, the kneeling players should be immediately whistled for tripping or holding, and the kneeling attackers most likely cautioned for USB. Of course, if the ref is not quick enough with the whistle then the ball may be in the back of the net, and he would have to decide whether the actions of the kneeling attackers would be trifling, and the goal should be allowed, or whether the goal should be disallowed due to the foul/misconduct. I would especially appreciate your input in this case.

USSF answer (May 8, 2006):
While the referee would normally allow the kicking team a certain amount of leeway in deceiving its opponents, the tactic you describe goes well beyond mere deception. This situation is analogous to the players who line up in front of the goalkeeper at a corner kick to impede and prevent the ‘keeper from playing the ball when it is kicked. Although the players kneeling in front of the wall are “holding” their opponents with their bodies, they have not yet committed a foul because the ball is not in play. While the defending team has no “right” to set up a wall, neither has the kicking team a “right” to “hold” or physically impede its opponents away from the ball. They are setting up to impede the players in the wall from playing the ball when it is put into play and are likely committing unsporting behavior.

The referee may either (1) act before the kick and warn the players not to hold or impede the opponents in the wall or (2) wait until the kick has been taken and then stop play. If the referee stops play, the impeding player should be at least warned before the referee gives the restart, which is an indirect free kick for the opposing team from the place where the opponents were impeded.

Your question:
Do the duties of the fourth official include stopping play and informing the central referee of infractions occuring on the field of play? In a recent international game between belize and panama (u20) the fourth official informed the central referee of an alleged infraction that occured which neither the central referee nor his assistant saw. This resulted in a red card being issued to a top Belizean forward three minutes into the first half. We lost the game 1-0.

USSF answer (May 8, 2006):
The United States Soccer Federation cannot presume to tell referees from other countries how to officiate a game, but this answer should be the same throughout the world.

Although the fourth official may delay the restart to give information to the referee, he or she may not stop play to do so. The fourth official either signals the referee in a manner they have agreed upon before the game or works through the assistant referee on the bench side of the field to get the information to the referee.

Your question:
In a variety of the upper level U12, U14, U19 recreational matches, we are seeing players “push” other stationary players who have posession of the ball with their hips or pelvis. While it sounds innocuous, I have seen players who were pushed in this manner stumble forward, and in doing so, move the ball out of bounds as a result of these “pushes”.

Given that the player who used this tactic gained an unfair advantage, and played the player rather than the ball, we have been calling this as a Push under the LOTG, and awarding a DFK. In severe cases where it is persistant, a card is applied for PI.

The LOTG are silent on the manner or method of the push.

In your view of the LOTG, are we addressing this infraction correctly?

USSF answer (May 8, 2006):
The move you describe is charging unfairly, punishable through a direct free kick. Pushing is done with the hands and arms.

Your question:
A winger crosses the ball, the keeper catches it while backing into his goal, and shortly thereafter an attacker runs into him and the keeper falls down between the goal posts and over the goal line. I believed that the ball had crossed the goal line before the contact, and my (youth) AR gave me no indication otherwise. I then awarded the goal. Time expired before the kickoff, so signalled the end of the first half.

When my AR joined me, he told me that the keeper was clearly pushed into the goal, and in his opinion the goal should not have been awarded (he clearly did not follow procedures while this was happening.)

My question is, can the goal be disallowed once the half (or game) was ended? [This particular variation is not covered in “Advice to Referees”, 5.14 CHANGING A DECISION ON AN INCORRECT RESTART.]

USSF answer (May 8, 2006):
The referee may change any decision if the game has not restarted. However, in a strange twist of the Laws, as of July 1, 2005, this would not apply to the end of the second half.

Referees should remind assistant referees of their duties in such situations (to signal for either negation or scoring of a goal) during the pregame conference.

Your question:
We all know that in instances where defenders are less than ten yards from an IFK but standing on the goal line between the posts, this is allowed.

In a scenario where team A is awarded an IFK from the six toward their opponents goal. Before the defending team takes up positions to form a wall on the goal line, a number of team A players take up those positions first.  The plan to have a set play whereby they fall to the ground or in some other way move aside to create space for their teammate/kicker to take a shot rebounding off them into the goal, what can the defenders do?

Can they stand off the field, in the goal behind this wall with the refs permission and rush forward at the taking of the kick to prevent the score (I don’t think so)? Can they stand in front of the wall (I don’t think so). Can they stand idly by and watch the clever attackers score a goal?

USSF answer (May 8, 2006):
While the tactic may not be particular sporting, it is not an infringement of the Laws of the Game. By the same token, the defending team may stand behind the players on the goal line (without interfering with their ability to move, of course).

Your question:
I have been ref for several years. I have traveled to various states and always like to learn the variations of the interpretations of the laws of the game. One that recently affected my 16 year old son who has been a ref for several years him self also.

If the Keeper collected the ball and moved to punt the ball. The player (My son) standing at his side Jumped up as the keeper punted the ball. Note this was not at the keeper just straight up. At the next stoppage of play the ref awarded a Yellow card for Unsporting behavior “interfering with the keeper.” Is this correct interpretation? The assignor said it would be for delaying the restart of the game. Note that the ref did not give any warning as to how close he would allow a player to be to the keeper. The player also never touched the keeper or the ball. I asked the league coordinator this to understand this call.

USSF answer (May 4, 2006):
The USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” provides this information on your question:
An opponent may not interfere with or block the goalkeeper’s release of the ball into play. While players have a right to maintain a position achieved during the normal course of play, they may not try to block the goalkeeper’s movement while he or she is holding the ball or do anything which hinders, interferes with, or blocks the goalkeeper who is throwing or punting the ball back into play. An opponent does not violate the Law, however, if the player takes advantage of a ball released by the goalkeeper directly to him or her, in his or her direction, or deflecting off him or her nonviolently.

The parts of your question that the Advice does not address are these: First, the referee should not have to give the player any “warning” about distance. The Law is clear: a player may not prevent (or interfere with) the goalkeeper’s release of the ball. Jumping up, even at the ‘keeper’s side, is interfering with the release of the ball. Second, this interference is not delaying the restart of play. Why? Because play had not been stopped; if not stopped, it cannot be restarted. Third, the referee should not have cautioned the player (your son) for this act, unless it was a repeated offense or truly was unsporting behavior.

Your question:
A shot gets behind the goal keeper who turns and pounces on the ball. The referee, who is within the penalty area, uses a “non-standard” signal indicating no goal, (a baseball umpire’s safe signal): the assistant referee gives no signal of any kind. The goal keeper eventually gets up, 5 to 10 seconds, and punts the ball towards the left wing, where it goes into touch. Before the throw-in has been taken, the crowd and coaches are yelling at the referee that it was a goal and he should check with his AR. The referee decides to approach his young AR who is a first season assistant referee.  The outcome of that conversation was that the referee awarded a goal and restarted with a kick-off.

The opposing coach protests that the referee cannot change his decision once play has been restarted, and he is correct, but play had actually never been stopped…the goal keeper had the ball under his control and play RESUMED, but it was not a restart. Approximately 20 to 30 seconds pass between when the goal keeper was laying on the ball in proximity to the goal line and when the ball finally went into touch.

Was what the referee did within the LOTG?

USSF answer (May 3, 2006):
Yes, the referee’s act was within the Laws of the Game. The referee has the power to change a decision before play has restarted. In this case, as play never stopped after the ball entered the goal, the decision was a correct one.

There are several slightly bothering aspects about your question. First is a matter of terminology: The referee did make a decision about the play, indicating there was no goal and allowing play to continue. Decisions are made every second or so and the vast majority do not require stoppages of play. Second is the lack of a signal from the assistant referee. It makes no difference that this is his first season. New referees are taught in the entry-level refereeing course (no matter whether for 08 or 09) that the AR makes eye contact with the referee to confirm a goal or to indicate that there was no goal. Even if the AR did not remember that, the referee should have covered this in the pregame conference among the officials. The correct steps to take are covered in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials.”

Your question:
I was wondering if there is a ruling for parents giving occasional coaching type remarks from the parents sideline during a game. In other words, parents coaching from the sidelines. Is there a rule against a parent from doing that, and if there is what is the penalty.

USSF answer (May 2, 2006):
Under the Laws of the Game (the rules the world plays by) there is no prohibition on spectators contributing their “wisdom” to the players. However, there may be such a rule in one or more of the competitions (leagues or cups or tournaments, etc.) in which the team participates. Check the rules of the competition.

Your question:
A state referee committee forwarded the following protest for guidance:
The [state youth] D&P Committee recently heard a game protest filed by Š coach [removed]. The protest was upheld and we have been advised that the game must be replayed in its entirety because the D&P Committee has determined that there was a misapplication of the rules/LOG. It is my belief that the Committee has made an incorrect decision but wish to have this confirmed by you prior to filing any type of appeal.

The circumstances in question are as follows:
The referee blew the whistle signaling the end of the game at approximately 31 minutes of play in the second half of the game. The [team x] coach advised the linesman that [state youth] rules stipulate 2 35-minute halves for the age group in question. The referee acknowledged his mistake and immediately called both teams back to the field of play and re-started the game via a drop-ball and continued play for the remaining 4 minutes.

It is my belief that the referee’s actions were correct and that the [state youth] D&P Committee erred in its decision that a misapplication of the rules/LOG occurred.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible so that if warranted we can file an appeal within the 72-hour deadline.

USSF answer (May 1, 2006):
If, prior to leaving the vicinity of the field of play, the referee learns that the amount of time played in any period of play was too little to meet the requirement of the rules of competition, that remaining amount of required time not yet played must be played. This is required by Law 7, which states clearly that the game must consist of two equal halves. The answer comes with the proviso that the dropped ball restart was correct only if the period of play was ended by the referee’s whistle solely for what he thought was the expiration of time rather than for some other reason (e. g., a foul) or for the ball leaving the field.

Your question:
While this situation hasn’t come up yet, I’m not sure what i would do if it did. If the goalkeeper must be cautioned by a yellow card, is he allowed to stay on the field and someone else serve the penalty?

USSF answer (April 27, 2006):
Yes, the goalkeeper is allowed to stay on the field–unless this was his second caution and he was then dismissed and shown the red card as well.  Leagues are not permitted to use the “hot head” rule and make players leave the field when they have been cautioned.

Your question:
During a youth tournament this past weekend I witnessed a situation during a PK that has caused a lot of conversation among us referees. I have looked at the FIFA and US Soccer website for clarification, but I am finding apparently conflicting responses.

Team A was awarded a PK. Player 1 was identified to take the PK. When the referee signaled for the PK to be taken, Player 1 stepped out of the penalty box and Player 2 ran in and took the shot which went into the goal.

The question is: What is the correct restart for this situation? In the June 2005 position paper on penalty kicks, it would appear that the kick should be retaken, i.e. attacker infringed Law 14 and the ball went into the goal (doc_6_364.pdf). Although this does not address the exact situation that occurred. On the FIFA website there is a Question and Answer document ( that does address the wrong player taking the kick. It states that the restart is an indirect kick for the defending team at the point where the attacking player advanced closer than 10 yards.

The first scenario where the kick is retaken seems more in line with other restarts, i.e. an offense occurs during a dead ball situation, such as a throw-in or free kick, the player may be carded, but the restart does not change. In the second situation the initial foul is completely ignored after the attacking team commits a foul.

USSF answer (April 21, 2006):
In such matters of conflict, the IFAB Q&A is the final authority.

Your question:
HI – I am a coach of a U13G soccer team. I have a question concerning substituting goalies during the game.

Can 1 goalie play in the 1st 15 minutes, 2nd goalie next 15 minutes, and the 1st goalie go back in goal for the next 15 minutes, then a 3rd goalie come in for the remainder of the game?

USSF answer (April 21, 2006):
If your competition plays unlimited substitution, in other words, if players are allowed to enter and leave and re-enter the field (with the permission of the referee), that will work fine. However, if your competition plays according to the strict interpretation of Law 3, in which a player who has been substituted out of the game may not return, then you are out of luck.

Your best bet would be to check with the competition authority (league, cup, tournament, whatever) to find out what the competition rules permit.

Your question:
My question is what is the appropriate restart when the whistle is blown, while the goalie has the ball in his hand. In my 6 years of ref’ing, i have seen 3 different restarts. One, the ball is handed to the goalie, and he can play it as if he blocked a goal, two: goalie gets a goal kick. three: drop ball right at the stoppage of play. I’m lucky enough to not encounter this situation, but it always bothered me.

USSF answer (April 21, 2006):
Your question is not clear as to why the whistle was blown to stop the game. Was it a mistake by the referee? Was there a foul? Was there misconduct? Even if the goalkeeper was holding the ball at the moment, the restarts would be different in these cases.

If the whistle was inadvertent or for a reason not covered elsewhere in the Laws of the Game, the only correct restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was at the moment of the stoppage. Some rules of competition (non-affiliated leagues or high school, for example) allow an indirect free kick. We are not aware of any rules that allow the ball to be handed to the goalkeeper so that it may be punted or for a goal kick.

If the whistle was for misconduct by either team, the correct restart would be an indirect free kick at the place where the misconduct occurred.

Another possible restart is a direct free kick if the whistle was for a DFK foul.

Your question:
A group of referees has had a discussion on a real game event, for which there is definitely not agreement.

The real-life situation was that of a “passback”, to the Goalkeeper, but the disagreement appears it could also apply GK “double touch”, or to a GK directly picking up a thrown-in ball.

CASE: A ball is kicked back to the goalkeeper, poorly by a teammate. As a result the ball comes to rest just inside the penalty area, aligned with the goal. The GK comes out, but realizes that an attacker is making a run for this ball. There are no other defenders between the ball and the goal. The GK apparently decides he won’t be first to the ball with feet, and dives in hands first to grab it, which he does. For this discussion, the Referee was also of the opinion that the GK would not have arrived at the ball first had he played it otherwise than with his hands. The GK’s possession by hands occurs inches before the attacker would have kicked the ball, but the attacker only mildly touches the ball (best he could do not to injure the GK).

Q1. Is this a simple IFK for passback. E.g. it is not DOGSO-H, because the GK is not subject to DOGSO-H in his own penalty area per clause 4 of the Send-Off procedures. The restart would simply be an IFK for the passback violation.

Or is this an actual case of “DOGSO-F”, wherein the act of the GK was not simple “handling of the ball” in the penalty area (which is not an offense for the GK, and hence the reason why I would understand clause 4 excludes it in the Send-Offs), but in fact an IFK free-kick offense of “touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate”. And then the DOGSO-F (clause 5) kicks in with DOGSO by offense punishable by a freekick.

The greater question seems to turn on narrow interpretation of what is really meant in clause 4 Send-offs by the term “deliberately handling the ball” as it applies to GK in there penalty area’s. e.g. Does this mean to talk to only the DFK offense of deliberate handling (for non-GK players), and then the GK is immune in his own penalty area, or does this mean to exclude the GK from any of the offenses which he commits by handling the ball in the penalty (there are three IFK’s) that involve the GK handling the ball in the penalty area, in specific circumstances.

When it comes down to it, the two camps of referee sentiment are divided by their interpretation of the phrase in Sendoffs Clause 4 that reads “deliberate handling the ball” when applied to the GK in Clause 4 of the send-offs. One literal meaning is any handling of the ball. The other literal meaning would be the DFK offense for non-GK players, in which the GK is immune, and hence the Laws spelled this out, as a reminderS.

Q2. Does USSF have a position on what the intended interpretation of Clause-4 of Send-offs is with regard to what “deliberately handles the ball” means when applied to the GK in his penalty area?

USSF answer (April 21, 2006):
No, this is not a matter of denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity. The goalkeeper is permitted to handle the ball within his or her own penalty area and is explicitly excluded in the Law from being sent off for denying a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball. (See send-off offense 4 in Law 12.) If the goalkeeper does handle the ball directly from a ball deliberately kicked by a teammate or thrown in by a teammate, then he or she must pay the price–but that price is simply an indirect free kick taken from the place where the offense occurred.

Your question
I think the following question may not be answered by LOTG: Can a team score a goal against itself directly on a PK?

It is a highly unlikely scenario, and so let me create a more likely situation. Youth match, small-sided field (U-10 or U-11). PK is awarded and the kicking team’s goalkeeper takes the PK. The wind is blowing strongly against the kicking ‘keeper, but he’s an oversized strong kid and he puts a powerful blast into the crossbar. The ball rebounds over the heads of all the players and the wind takes it into the kicker’s goal. Should the goal be allowed?

One answer is that it should be treated as if it were a free kick and disallowed, as under Law 13. However, the penalty kick is not defined as a subcategory of a direct free kick. It has its own separate law, Law 14.

In two places, it is made clear that a goal cannot be scored directly against the team taking a direct free kick, Law 13 and ATR 8.6, the table entitled “Common Elements of the Eight Methods of Restarting Play.” In two corresponding places, it is silent about whether a goal can be scored directly against the team taking a PK, Law 14 and ATR 8.6.

In ATR 8.6, in answer to the question, “Can a goal be scored directly?”: – Under DFK, the answer reads, “Yes, but only against opponent.” – Under PK, the answer reads, “Yes.” The logical implication is that a goal can be scored directly against the team taking a PK.

I believe that the LOTG and ATR are silent on the question because the scenario is so unlikely. Does USSF have an official answer, or will we just sit tight and hope this unlikely scenario never happens?

Answer (April 21, 2005):
If this extremely unlikely event were to occur, the correct restart would be a corner kick for the opposing team.

Although direct free kicks and penalty kicks are dealt with under separate Laws, the only real difference between them–from the point of view of their name–is that the penalty kick has been committed by the defending team within its own penalty area. The immediate reason is the same for both, a direct free kick foul. If a direct free kick goes directly (without being played or touched by an opponent) into the team’s own goal, the correct restart is a corner kick. So it is in this situation.

It is clear that the question arises solely because the Law is entirely silent on the matter. The answer is acceptable only because (a) the situation is so unlikely and (b) it is consistent with what we do know about all other restarts.

Your question:
I have a question regarding the usage of electronic devices (ie: two way radios, cell phones, etc) by the coaches during a match. Is there a FIFA or USSF Rule that forbids such usage?

My concern comes because our League MISO (Men’s Island Soccer Organization) has a coach that has been suspended for a 5 year minimum term. However, I’ve received reports from some referees that although he’s suspended from any activity with the League, he’s coaching the team via a two way radio with which he communicates with either the new coach or the team manager.

Is this permissible? If not, could you provide me with the Rules that state that this is not allowed?

USSF answer (April 19, 2006):
Under FIFA rules of competition, suspended coaches are neither forbidden nor allowed to communicate with their teams via mobile phones during FIFA matches. FIFA will not take any action. Nor is there anything in the Laws of the Game or Q&A to cover this.

To ensure better compliance from its teams, perhaps the league should provide more complete rules and guidance as to what constitutes “suspension” and what a coach or other team official who is under suspension may and may not do. It is not up to referees to police disciplinary rules of a competition.

Your question:
The ball is in play at midfield, what would the restart be for dissent by the goalkeeper who is in his own penalty area?

USSF answer (April 18, 2006):
If the referee stops play to punish misconduct, the restart is taken from the place where the misconduct occurred. In this case it would be the spot where the goalkeeper dissented. Do not forget that if the misconduct is by a defending team player in his or her goal area, the restart is taken from the goal area line that runs parallel to the goal line.

Your question:
My question is what is the appropriate restart when the whistle is blown, while the goalie has the ball in his hand. In my 6 years of ref’ing, i have seen 3 different restarts. One, the ball is handed to the goalie, and he can play it as if he blocked a goal, two: goalie gets a goal kick. three: drop ball right at the stoppage of play. I’m lucky enough to not encounter this situation, but it always bothered me.

USSF answer (April 21, 2006):
Your question is not clear as to why the whistle was blown to stop the game. Was it a mistake by the referee? Was there a foul? Was there misconduct? Even if the goalkeeper was holding the ball at the moment, the restarts would be different in these cases.

If the whistle was inadvertent or for a reason not covered elsewhere in the Laws of the Game, the only correct restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was at the moment of the stoppage. Some rules of competition (non-affiliated leagues or high school, for example) allow an indirect free kick. We are not aware of any rules that allow the ball to be handed to the goalkeeper so that it may be punted or for a goal kick.

If the whistle was for misconduct by either team, the correct restart would be an indirect free kick at the place where the misconduct occurred.

Another possible restart is a direct free kick if the whistle was for a DFK foul.

Your question:
what is the proper protocol for collection of fees?
– pregame, after game ?
– mention it if it “forgotten” ?

did a game last week, one coach did not pay me, hung around his sideline after game, finally caught his attention, he claimed he was not aware he was to pay me or not aware how much, started searching thru his pockets , … etc.

he also had no card for himself, no lineup sheet for me or opposition, etc.

is this common?

USSF answer (April 18, 2006):
All competitions must make it clear to their clubs and teams what the appropriate timing is for paying the officials. Some do it at the game, others at the end of the season, etc. You should check the method of payment with your assignor before accepting any games in a competition you are not familiar with.

And, yes, it is all too common (in all senses of the word), for people to attempt to avoid paying their legitimate debts. But no referee should ever allow a game that requires line-up sheet and cards to begin without them.

Your question:
In a U17B D1 travel game I did yesterday, one of the coaches complained that I allowed too much contact around the ankle and lower leg. Not during slide tackles but when the boys were on their feet and challenging for the ball. How do you decide when to blow the whistle on contact like this?

USSF answer (April 12, 2006):
You stop this sort of play the first time it occurs. If you make it clear that it is not allowed, it won’t happen again–at least in this particular game.

Your question:
I recently played a match with the league following FIFA rules. A player received two yellow cards and was shown the red.

The league claims they can count the yellows for disciplinary reasons however I’ve read FIFA [Disciplinary Code] Article 18 which says the 2 yellow cards should be rescinded once an indirect red is given.

Can a league count yellow cards in that situtation?

USSF answer (April 6, 2006):
A memorandum of October 22, 2002, forbids the practice you describe. We are not certain just what “an indirect red” is, but the league or other competition authority may not discount or dismiss any cards given by the referee.

To: State Associations
Professional Leagues

From: Alfred Kleinaitis
Manager of Referee Development and Education

Subject: Mandatory Suspension Following Dismissal
Date: October 22, 2002

FIFA Circular 821, dated October 1, 2002, reminds all national associations that any player dismissed from the field is to be automatically suspended from the next match of the competition in which the player was dismissed.

This mandatory suspension is to be enforced for all dismissals (red cards) regardless of the reason and will include send-offs for receiving a second yellow card as well as for actions leading directly to the dismissal. The duration of the suspension can be extended beyond one match by the competition authority.

All national associations are reminded in particular that they may not seek to avoid this binding instruction by passing “exceptional rules,” i.e., a provision which creates any sort of exception.

The automatic one-match suspension may only be waived if it is proven that the referee dismissed the wrong player in a case of mistaken identity.

In no case may the decision of the referee be modified after the game, as is clearly stated in Law 5 of The Laws of the Game.

Your question:
In this case the player was red-carded and sent from the field after the second caution. The league allowed him to play the following game.

Later in the season he was banned for receiving 4 yellow cards in the same season.

The league rules state that 2 yellows in the same game count as a red. However in this situation they counted the 2 yellows to the ban in addition to the red.

Should the league count all the cards, just the yellows or just the red?

Thanks again for your help. I’m confused as I always assumed once a red card was given the player is ejected and misses at least the following game. All displinary action thus would relate to the red card and not the prior cautions.

USSF answer (April 10, 2006):
It is up to the league to enforce the rules they have on the books, to change the ones that don’t belong there, and to clarify those that need clarification. Should a player sit out a game for a second caution in a single game? Absolutely; that is a policy of both U.S. Soccer and FIFA. If the league rules don’t say that, they should be changed to do so, but other than that–whether they count as 2 yellows or a red or both–that is league business. The league is the authority that sets the disciplinary standards. Neither U.S. Soccer nor FIFA determine that if you have 4 yellows in a season you must sit out a game. That is something the league puts into its rules of competition, just as FIFA says that if a player receives two cautions in a round of the World Cup that player must sit a game. It is not part of the Laws of the Game, but of the rules of the competition.

In no case is it the responsibility of the referee on a game to be concerned about who can play and who cannot. The body that sets the rules of competition must see that they are properly enforced through its own agents.

Your question:
In some tournaments that I have ref it was said that the same goal keeper must stay as Goal Keeper during the kick offs.

My questions is What are the restrictions (if any) of replacing the goal keeper at any stoppage of the game?

USSF answer (March 31, 2006):
According to Law 3 (The Players), an exchange of positions between the goalkeeper and any field player is permitted at any stoppage, as long as the referee is informed. This exchange is not a substitution and is not subject to be changed by any rules of competition (league, cup, tournament). It would be perfectly permissible for an exchange during kicks from the penalty mark to decide a winner of the game.

If you are talking about a substitution for the goalkeeper–meaning that someone other than a player already on the field to take the kicks from the penalty mark would take the goalkeeper’s place–that is possible only if the goalkeeper is injured and the team still has an unused substitution remaining.

Your question:
I had a question about DOGSO-H. In reading a past question from Aug 29, 2005, you state: “There is already a send-off offense for deliberate handling, number 4 under the seven send-off offenses: denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area). It does not require any particular alignment of players for either team, but simply the occurrence of the offense.”

To me, this implies that the four Ds don’t apply to DOGSO-H. For example, there could be several defenders between where the handling occured and the goal.

But when I read the Advice To Referees (2003), Section 12.40 says “In Diagram 8, an attacker, No. 10, plays the ball and a defender inside the penalty area deliberately handles it. A penalty kick is awarded. The defender would not be sent off, as there were too many defenders between the offense and the goal.”

Maybe this statement isn’t in the latest ATR document, but I don’t have that. I am confused as to whether the four Ds apply to DOGSO-H or not. Could you clear this up for me.

USSF answer (March 29, 2006):
In fact, the 4Ds do NOT apply to DGH. They are used only for DGF. In the case of DGH the primary criterion is whether, if there had been no deliberate handling, the ball would have gone into the net–in the opinion of the referee, of course. Now it may be that one or more of the 4D criteria might be used in making that decision–for example, if there are multiple defenders between the shot on goal and the goal, the referee could well argue that, in his opinion, any of them could have made a legal save and so it would not be possible to say that, but for the handling, the ball would have gone into the net. Likewise for distance from the goal and, even more significantly, whether the shot on goal was not in fact in line with the goal.

Wow! Someone actually reads the Advice! We will be making an appropriate change in the 2006 update of Advice 12.40.

Your question:
SCENARIO: General run of play at midfield. CR is at midfield in area of center circle. AR#1 is in defending third even with top of penalty area. AR#2 is even with 2nd to last defender in area of penalty circle. From the penalty circle in the attacking end, attacking player unleashes a shot that hits the underside of the crossbar, bounces down at an angle toward the net with backspin so that when it hits the ground it bounces back toward the field of play. The goalie collects the ball off the initial bounce when standing in the goal area. AR#2 starts a sprint to mid-field indicating he believes the ball crossed the goal line and a goal should be awarded. CR blows a whistle, stops play, confers with AR#2 and awards a goal.

After the game the crew conferred and the CR advised that in that case the AR should have given the “benefit of the doubt” to the goalie and allowed play to continue. He suggested that unless an AR is in position to positively confirm a ball has crossed the goal line a goal should not be awarded.

So my question is, “Should a goal only be awarded when an official can positively confirm the ball has crossed the goal line?” On most goals when the ball clearly crosses the line on route to hitting the net, the issue is clear. But in quick counterattacks or long range shots, it seems that approach gives clear advantage to the goalie over the attacker. If the AR has a sufficiently clear view of the play to gather information to signal the goal and then confidently “sells” the call, shouldn’t that be sufficient? Granted, at some time in the future, electric line monitors will eliminate the situation; but in the meantime, who gets the benefit of the call?

USSF answer (March 28, 2006):
No an assistant referee should make a recommendation unless he or she is positive that whatever is to be signalled actually happened. In other words, the entire ball was wholly across the entire goal line (or, in the case of a throw-in, the touch line), a player in an offside position was definitely actively involved in play, a player committed a foul or misconduct that was not visible to the referee, etc.

Nor should a referee announce a decision unless he or she is certain that what is being announced actually happened.

Unfortunately, your question shows that your hypothetical referee and ARs have not read the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials,” where all the correct procedures for situations like this are covered in detail. There is not enough room to spell it all out in this response.

Almost as worrying as not applying the guidance in the Guide to Procedures is the fact that the referee was in the center circle when a shot was taken from the penalty arc.

Your question:
What is the signal that a ref MUST use to signal that the shooting of a PK can commence, or kicks taken from the penalty mark after the game..

Does is have to be a whistle or a visual signal to the shooter?

Does he have to get a signal from the keeper that he is ready?

I’ve watched many matches and never see the referee whistle for the kick to commence, and can’t tell if he has to get confirmation from the keeper that he is ready before the shot gets taken.

What is the common practice that referees in FIFA matches follow to signal the kick can be taken.

USSF answer (March 23, 2006):
With regard to taking the penalty kick, the USSF Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials tells us:
– Supervises the placement of the ball
– Identifies the kicker
– Moves to the recommended position
– When the ball and all the players are properly in position, signals for the kick to be taken

There is no standard signal for the kick to be taken. It can be a whistle, a wave, a nod, a brief word, etc.

Nor is there any need to get the “permission” of the goalkeeper for the kick to be taken. The goalkeeper should always be ready for the kick.

The Laws of the Game and the way they are officially interpreted are constantly changing. Back in 2002 and 2005 we answered a question about shielding the ball according to the interpretation of the time. Now, with the latest input, we have revised and refined our answer. This is to make everyone aware of the change in interpretation.

Original question
Question:A free kick has been given. The kicking player (A) kicks the ball only a couple of feet by mistake. He then goes to the ball and, while facing the ball, he shields an incoming opponent (B) from gaining possession. If the ball is at the feet of this player A, can he use his body to shield/impede his opponent from getting the ball? Player A cannot play the ball a 2nd time till it is touched by someone else. So can he really claim ³possession² with the ball at his feet when he isn¹t able to touch it? Or does the rule only require that the ball merely has to be within playing distance of player A while he is shielding ­ even though he cannot play it?

Answer (February 16, 2005):Despite the fact that A cannot play the ball legally without playing it a second time before someone else has somehow played the ball, as long as A is within playing distance of the ball (i. e., meaning capable of playing the ball according to the Law), then A cannot be impeding. Playing distance is exactly that, a distance, which is determined in practice only by the playability of the ball.

The fact that in this particular case A could not LEGALLY play the ball without infringing the Law does not change the fact that, distance-wise, the ball is still within a physically playable distance. The ball is legally playable‹in every way open to any field player‹by anyone other than the player who kicked the ball. If A’s movement includes holding the arms out and making contact with the opponent as a means of keeping the opponent away, then the player is guilty of holding.
[Note: This answer repeats information given in November 2002.]

Questions have been raised concerning a narrow and rare situation in which the player performing a restart (for example, a free kick or throw-in) moves to shield the ball despite the fact that this player could not make contact with the ball directly without violating the Law (the “two touch” rule).  In the past, the answer has been that the player may legally shield the ball as long as it remains within playing distance.  This situation is now interpreted differently.  Being within “playing distance” should not be considered sufficient to allow the kicker to shield the ball–the ball in fact must also be playable by that player. In other words, the concept of “playing distance” must include being able to play the ball legally.

If the player can legally play the ball and the ball is within playing distance, the player may shield as a tactic to prevent an opponent from getting to the ball (provided, of course, that the shielding does not involve holding).  If the player cannot legally play the ball or if the ball is not within playing distance, such shielding becomes “impeding the progress of an opponent” and should be penalized by an indirect free kick.

Your question:
It is my understanding the the center referee must be two years older than the team playing? Correct?

Does this also hold true to the asst. referee (lines)? Or as long as they are Grade 8 it doesn’t matter?

USSF answer (March 20, 2006):
While it is normal for young referees to be assigned to work games with players who are at least one or two years younger than they are, there is no hard and fast rule for all states; each is different. Ask your state referee administrator for the rules in your state on this matter.

Your question:
A local rec league made a change in the league schedule without informing the USSF Assignor and therefore, incorrect information was provided to the referees. When the referees arrived at the field expecting a U12B match, they discovered a U12B team scheduled to play a U10B team. The U10B team included some players as young as eight years old “playing up” in age. Some anxious parents approached the referees with their concern for their 8-9 year olds playing against the much bigger kids. The referees, including two adults, honestly believed that allowing for the disparity in size, skill, and experience that it would be unsafe to permit this match to occur. They refused to officiate.

Normally refusing to officiate a match due to safety concerns seems to refer to field conditions that cannot be corrected or severe weather. It doesn’t seem that a referee can look at two teams and decide that by itself, it would be unsafe to play. But normally one doesn’t schedule 8 year olds against 12 year olds either. Question: I’m not asking if the referees were right to refuse to play the match but simply were they within their rights.

USSF answer (March 20, 2006):
Although the referee’s primary concern is the safety of the players, that has no bearing on the present question.

The match-up is the concern of the league, not the referees. However this match of mismatched teams came to be, the referee’s main concern has to be what actually happens in a match, not what might happen. If referees starts making such decisions on what might be, he or she would find him- or herself at the top of the proverbial slippery slope. Where would it end?

Unless the team officials suggest that the match-up itself is contrary to the league’s rules, the officials have no choice but to officiate and, if individual players commit dangerous acts vis-a-vis individual opponents, they have the Law itself available to handle it.

Your question:
Can you give a defender a caution with the penelty box without giving a penelty kick?

USSF answer (March 20, 2006):
If the referee stops play for a case of misconduct, such as dissent or unsporting behavior, that does not involve a foul, the game is restarted with an indirect free kick. The referee could also send a player off for violent conduct (brutal threats, etc.) and restart with an indirect free kick if that serious misconduct was why the game had been stopped.

Your question:
Assume a referee properly calls a technical foul against the keeper for using his hands after a pass back to him from the foot of a teammate and awards an IFK. An attacker quickly spots the ball JUST OUTSIDE OF THE PENALTY AREA and takes a quick kick to a teammate who scores. In the opinion of the USSF, is this a valid goal? Must this IFK be spotted within the penalty area or is the placement outside the penalty area a trifling inconsequence to be ignored by the referee?

USSF answer (March 16, 2006):
A specific answer is difficult in this case, as you have not given us enough information. Therefore, our answer must be general in nature.

According to Law 12, a direct or indirect free kick is taken from the place where the offense occurred (keeping in mind the special circumstances for kicks involving the goal area). While the referee should not be overly fussy about having the offended team restart from the specific and particular blade of grass on which an offense occurred, neither should the referee allow the kicking team to put the ball into play from any point that suits them best. The closer to goal the offense occurred, the less latitude the referee will give the kicking team for placement.

In this case, because the offense occurred inside the penalty area, the kick must be taken from within the penalty area, not “just outside.”

Your question:
Laws of the Game, Advice to Referees, USYS Memorandums (cannot find specific one), The Referee Magazine articles, and USSF Entry Level course material; all emphasize “the goalposts must be anchored.” Some further state/suggest “the game will not be played on that field for safety.” I’ve always been taught, instructed others, and believed those guidelines……until recently!

I’ve refereed in 37 states and to my surprise not all states abide by this direction. While in one state, I asked an assignor state policy. Additionally, I asked a state referee committee member (another state) for an interpretation.  The answers were startling.

One person consulted someone on the national (USYS) level and was supposedly told, “it’s up to each SRA.” The other person referred me to IFA Board decisions in Law 5. It was suggested by another person that I Ask A Referee. So….. 1) What is the official USYS position on goalposts being anchored? 2) What is the referee to do if they aren’t? 3) What is the referee’s liability if he/she referees without anchored goalposts?

USSF answer (March 15, 2006):
This is a matter of player safety. There is no reason to look at Law 5. In describing the field and its appurtenances, Law 1 tells us, under “Goals”: “Goals must be anchored securely to the ground. Portable goals may only be used if they satisfy this requirement.”

Your question:
(1) A fellow referee informed me that he observed the following at a soccer game this weekend:
– A defender takes the Goal Kicks, the goalie goes outside the area, receives the kick, then dribbles into the area, picks it up, and punts it back into play.

My friend thinks it is a passback violation. I think it is using trickery to circumvent the rules, what is your take?

(2) At a game us old timers were participating in, a forward plays a through ball to another forward, our goalie comes almost to the edge of the Penalty Box to intercept the pass. As our goalie collects, the forward in trying to get the ball, collides with our goalie, who fell, still clutching the ball. The ref did not whistle a foul, as he says it was a 50/50 ball. Do you think it was the correct call?

USSF answer (March 15, 2006):
1. This could be regarded as an infringement of the Laws: A player deliberately kicks the ball and it is handled directly (no intervening play) by the player’s goalkeeper. Whether it should be called is an entirely different matter and would depend on such things as the competitive level of the teams, whether the goalkeeper handled the ball to unfairly remove the possibility of an opponent’s challenge, etc. If there were no opponents nearby, the referee would likely simply classify it as a trifling infringement and warn the players about their actions. If the goalkeeper was clearly handling to foil an active, immediate challenge, the referee should be inclined to blow the whistle. Restart with an indirect free kick at the place where the goalkeeper touched the ball with the hands.

2. No. If the conditions were precisely as you describe them, the correct call should be (carelessly) charging an opponent. The goalkeeper’s team should be given a direct free kick from the spot where the infringement took place. If there was more to the challenge than you described, the referee could consider either a caution for unsporting behavior for a reckless challenge or a dismissal for violent conduct if excessive force was used.

Your question:
I recently saw an EPL game on TV and was surprised to see the referee stop play and penalize the attacking forward for diving by awarding a free kick to the defending team. Was this the correct way to penalize the offence as no foul was committed or maybe I am incorrectly analyzing the situation.

USSF answer (March 14, 2006):
It is perfectly acceptable (and within the letter and intent of the Law) for the referee to stop play for misconduct. Diving, also known as “simulating action,” which is intended to deceive the referee, is unsporting behavior.

Your question:
I have two questions regarding USSF policy and the assignment of USSF Grade 9 referees.

At our recent assignor recertification meeting a rather healthy debate took place with regard to the use of Grade 9 referees in matches that are considered “recreational” at the U12 and U14 level. The sticking point in the definition of recreational in this context is that these “recreational” teams travel, compete for a league championship, and compete for a berth in end-of-season league tournaments.

The term recreational in this context refers to division 3 and 4 teams within our state’s leagues. Division 1 and 2 teams are registered as “competitive” while division 3 and 4 are registered as “recreational”. All teams, however, travel and compete as I mention above. Teams that play within their towns are also considered to be recreational.

My question is this:
What is the USSF’s official position on the assignment of Grade 9 referees in this context?

I realize that our state’s definition of competitive and recreational probably are not relevant to all of you at the national level, but the distinction is causing a considerable amount of confusion among assignors here.

I am unable to find a definitive statement anywhere that lays out the type of games that Grade 9 referees are allowed to do. There are some assignors putting Grade 9 referees into the middle of U12 and U14 matches that I would consider to be competitive (teams travel, compete for season ending rewards). My own policy on the matter (which is an interpretation of the USSF Admin handbook) is that Grade 9’s may only work as referees in small sided games (regardless of their competitive designation…I believe they are regarded as non-competitive anyway) and NON-travel games at the U12 and U14 level.

Second question:
Are U12 8v8 games considered to be small sided for the purpose of assignment?

U12 matches in our state are about to go to an 8v8 model. I have significant concerns about Grade 9 referees officiating U12 8v8 matches because of the relative experience for most referees at the Grade 9 level and the lack of emphasis regarding offside in most games that Grade 9 referees do. Is there any guidance from the USSF forthcoming on this matter?

Any information you can provide will be most helpful and my apologies for the length of this message.

USSF answer (March 8, 2006):
1. Grade 9 is characterized in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) as:
Recreational Youth Referee (grade 9). The RAH states farther:
9 – United States Soccer Federation Recreational Referee
A. Minimum Age:None
B. Badge: USSF Recreational Referee, with current year
C. Authorized Assignment Level: Referee on recreational youth games under-14 and younger only and assistant referee on any game U-14 or below.

As we have responded several times in this forum: “Grade 9 officials may do centers or lines on U-14 RECREATIONAL games. They may also act as assistant referees on U-14 COMPETITIVE games, but may not be the referee on U-14 competitive games.” That does not include travel (even “developmental travel”) or select team games.

Another factor for determining whether a team is competitive or recreational is whether or not there are try-outs for a team. Try-outs means that a team is definitely competitive. Travel has proven to be a bit difficult as a determining factor, especially in rural locations where many teams travel town to town and league to league just to find regular competition, but they are definitely recreational teams.

If you believe that assignors in your state are abusing the Grade 9 referees by assigning them beyond their training and skills, it is your duty to ask the state referee committee and the state youth association to take firm action to ensure that these referees are assigned only at the level for which they have been trained.

2. Yes, U12 8 v 8 games would be considered to be small-sided games. However, the training and grade level of Grade 9 referees is likely not suitable for calling such games.

Your question:
One of the fields we play on has painted boundary lines that do not comply with Law 1. For instance the goal area dimensions are smaller than 6×20 and the penalty area dimensions are smaller than 18×44. As a result the penalty mark is closer to the goal line than 12 yards. What would be the proper way to conduct a penalty kick: accept the markings on the field or take the kick from 12 yards away? It should be noted that these fields are not intended to be a reduced size. Law 14 seems to indicate the existing penalty mark should be used but that presents quite the disadvantage for the defending team as the mark is only 9 yards away.

USSF answer (March 7, 2006):
First a bit of philosophy: There is a big difference between a penalty mark located inside the goal area and one located halfway between the top of the goal area line and the penalty area line yet still only 11 (or, as in this case, even 9) yards rather than 12 yards from the goal line. We referees tend let a lot go by on field markings when the game is a simple recreational match involving kids.

If the field is not marked properly, the referee should try to have proper markings put down by the home team before starting the game, time permitting. If this is impossible, the referee must decide whether playing the game on this improperly marked field would be merely wrong, inconvenient, or simply irritating, or whether it would make a mockery of the game. If it is the last, then the referee should ask the home team to find a better marked field quickly. If that is impossible, the referee should abandon the game and submit full details to the competition authority.

As to a penalty kick from nine yards–no. The referee should mark off the proper 12 yards and indicate that this is where the kicker will place the ball. The remainder of the players, other than the defending goalkeeper, must remain a proper distance away from the kick.

Your question:
I was recently an assistant referee in an U19 boys game. Both teams were very skilled and fast but lacked common sense. A lot of fouls were committed and the center ref ended up giving 10 yellow cards. Of those yellow cards two players were sent off for accumulaton of cards. 8 players were given a card for some type of misconduct. The game was very rough and it seemed that a lot more cards could have been issued, but the center ref was just tired. It was also apparent that the two send offs and yellow cards were not effective to keep control of the game. How can this type of game be handled effectively?

I had a game like this with U15 boys and before the beginning of the 2nd half I handed my yellow card to the assistant referee, I made it public of course, and told everybody that the only card left was a red card and if I had to sanction a foul, it would had been an automatic send off. It seemed to work for I enjoyed the rest of the game. Was that a right move? I know it worked but I think I was a little extreme.

USSF answer (March 6, 2006):
The tactic of making a show of using only the red card will work once, maybe twice, but it is not a long-term solution. The solution is simply to be on top of the game from the git-go. Presence near play, talking to the players constantly about what they are doing, slowing (cooling) the game down when player temperatures and referee anxiety start to rise, and, yes, handing out cards when absolutely necessary.

There is no one-size-fits-all formula. It has to be worked out by each referee for each game, depending on how the players come into the match.

A comment on publicly announcing that you have only one card, the red one: The problem with not having a yellow card is that you have thus lost a significant option. In other words, you have done this for whatever reason and now a player commits what is clearly and simply a cautionable offense. You now either have to look foolish by running back to your bag (or the AR, or wherever you stashed it) and retrieving the card or you have the unpalatable decision either to ignore clearly cautionable conduct or sending players off for clearly cautionable misconduct. It may seem like great theatrics but it is a really bad idea.

Your question:
Here is a hypothetical situation I am involved in a discussion on. A player jumps up and grabs hold of the top bar of the goal and is hanging there. An attacker takes a shot that hits this player hanging from the goal and deflects away from the goal.

The question is what action should the referee take. We all agree that this is USB for hanging on the goal. Where our differences lie is does this meet the criteria of DOGSO? and therefore should result in a send off instead of just a yellow card.

Some say no becuase there was no foul others no becuase the criteria for DOGSO is not met becuase the IFK resulting from the USB is not the punishment just a way of restarting play after stopping to issue a YC.

IMHO (and I seem to be in the vast minority) the criteria of DOGSO have been met in that the law states – ” 5. denies an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the players’ goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or penalty kick ”

The USB of hanging on the goal would result in an IFK and it meets the 4 D’s (Denies, # of Defenders, Direction, Distance)

Any guidance from you would be greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (March 3, 2006):
Simply by jumping up and hanging on the crossbar, the defender is guilty of unsporting behavior. By using that position to deflect the ball away from the goal while committing unsporting behavior, the defender has denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity through an act punishable by a free kick. Send off the player and show the red card. Restart with an indirect free kick–the punishment for misconduct that does not involve a foul–for the opposing team.

The same could be said of a situation in which a goalkeeper pulled the bar downward and the ball hit the bar and deflected away–same punishment and restart.

Your question:
A fellow official an I are having a debate as to the 4D’s having to be met for DGH the same as DGF. My point is no, that the 4 D’s are in fact for DGF and do not have the same impact for DGH. Point being, if a shot is taken with a defender 15 yards from the attacker who handles the ball preventing it going into the goal, (he has not met all 4 of the d”s-the attacker is certainly not within playing distance of the ball when the foul (handling) occurred,  he should be sent off for DGH and the proper restart be taken. Please help me with this situation.

USSF answer (March 3, 2006):
There is already a send-off offense for deliberate handling, number 4 under the seven send-off offenses: denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area). It does not require any particular alignment of players for either team, but simply the occurrence of the offense.

Your question:
Last night during a Match I was with 4 seasoned referees in the stands. When a player on team X had handled the ball, but the ball when to the foot of a player on team Y who took 2 touches and then shot the ball past the keeper for an apparent goal. The referee had stopped play however to call the handball.

The question I have, can a referee allow the play to continue if the opposing team has a clear advantage after the handball?

The referees in the stands were split on this issue last night.

USSF answer (March 1, 2006):
Your question implies that the act of deliberate handling occurred inside the penalty area. Yes, a referee may apply the advantage clause to fouls or misconduct in the penalty area, but both the mechanics and the standards for judgment are different. The distinction is fairly clear and well accepted: In the case of mechanics, the referee should not use the advantage signal if the offense has occurred inside the penalty area–keep your mouth shut and your whistle down. In the case of decision standards, advantage inside the penalty area is based on what happens almost immediately after the offense (rather than the more relaxed standard of 2-3 seconds) and on whether a goal is scored (instead of the more relaxed standard of the fouled team being able to maintain possess and attacking capability).

In addition, the referee must remember to consider the possibility that this player has denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball. If so, then the referee must act accordingly, sending off the culprit if no goal is scored or cautioning for unsporting behavior if the goal is scored.

And, finally, referees should not use the word “handball.” Instead, we refer to the act of deliberately handling the ball or to a handling offense. “Handball” is a term used to describe at least two separate sports that have nothing to do with soccer.

Your question:
I recently heard about a game where the attacking team was awarded a Penalty Kick (PK) for a trip in the penalty area. During the taking of the PK, the player taking the kick performed a feint, by stopping his kick after his planting foot hit the ground, waited to see which way the goalie went and then proceeded to kick the ball in the opposite corner of the net. Before the ball crossed the line the referee blew his whisle, declared a no goal and gave the kicker a yellow card for the feint move. He then awarded the defending team a goal kick. Was this the right call?

Two other questions along the same lines: Are these moves considered feints? During a PK, can the kicker plant his left foot to the right of the ball and swing his right leg behind his left leg to “Toe Poke” the ball into the net? During a PK can the player plant his left foot (turning) to the right of the ball and spin around backwards to use his right heel to strike the ball towards the net? I have seen both of these moves in youth soccer in U-13 and U-14 age groups and the referee allowed the goals. I would have thought this would also be considered feints?

USSF answer (March 1, 2006):
The issue of “feinting” underwent a significant change in 2000. Prior to that time, the kicker was expected to make one continuous, uninterrupted move to the ball; in and after 2000 (based on the FIFA Q&A), certain forms of deception were allowed. The principle behind the prohibition on some forms of feinting is that of wasting time.  Referees should watch for the sorts of feinting described in the position paper of October 14, 2004 (available on the USSF referee webpage), but should not consider all deceptive maneuvers to be a violation of Law 14 or of the guidelines on kicks from the penalty mark in the Additional Instructions. They should ensure that the run to the ball is initiated from behind the ball and the kicker is not using deception to delay unnecessarily the taking of the kick.  The kicker’s behavior must not, in the opinion of the referee, unduly delay the taking of the kick in any feinting tactic. Others would include changing direction or running such an an excessive distance such that, in the opinion of the referee, the restart was delayed; or making hand or arm gestures with the intent to deceive the kicker (e .g., pointing in a direction).

The referee should allow the kick to proceed. If the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken.  If the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts the match with an indirect free kick to the defending team.

As to the various ways of kicking the ball, the offense (or lack thereof) is in the eye of the referee on the game.

Your question:
This question deals with the u-13 to u-15 player who has not yet mastered the proper slide tackling technique. I see a lot of players come in with the cleats up to tackle the ball away from the attacker and simply miss due to lack of skill or the fact that the attacker hurdles the defender and continues on his way. Should this be a foul under law 12 “trip or attempt to trip”? Clearly, if the player had succeeded with the foul tackle it could have been considered USB and sanctioned as such. What is the proper way to deal with these unsuccessful but possibly injury causing tackles?

USSF answer (March 1, 2006):
There are many ways to deal with such acts: calling the foul (or misconduct), giving the player a quiet word or a stern talking-to, cautioning or even sending off the player for serious foul play or violent conduct. Only the referee on this particular game at this particular moment can judge whether or not the acts you describe are fouls (or misconduct) or not. The referee must judge whether the player’s acts are the result of poor skill, simple carelessness, recklessness or worse.

Your question:
I have noticed lately a fashion trend in Girls Soccer using two different colored socks by the team ( i.e. orange and black; or white and orange etc.) I have researched all kind of information’s available to referees, but no answer found on rules identifying the used of matching sock only. High School Association identifies the situation as illegal equipment. NCAA only refers to matching uniforms and in contrast to the other team. FIFA only identifies socks.

For the referee sometimes the color of the sock is helpful in identifying a player submitting a rule violation in tackles or the like. Your advice is appreciated.

USSF answer (February 27, 2006):
There is indeed a requirement for uniformity of socks. While nothing is specifically written in Law 4 regarding the color of socks, tradition and common practice dictate that all members of a team (with the possible exception of the goalkeeper) wear socks of the same color, rather than each wearing his or her own choice or wearing socks of one color on one foot and socks of a different color on the other foot.

The ruling will be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” which is based on the Laws, memoranda from FIFA and the International F. A. Board, and in memoranda and policy papers published by the United States Soccer Federation.

It is implicit in the Law that each side wear a distinctively colored jersey, that shorts and socks be uniform for each team, and that the uniforms be distinguishable from the uniforms worn by the other team. However, the details of the uniform are governed by the competition authority and can vary widely from one match to another. The referee must know and enforce the rules of each competition worked. Players’ jerseys must remain tucked inside their shorts, socks must remain pulled up, and each player must wear shinguards under the socks. Slide pants or similar undergarments must be as close as possible to the main color of the shorts.

Your question:
It is my understanding that when a penal foul is committed “off the ball” and the play is stopped for the foul, the DFK is taken at the spot of the foul. As such, the position of the ball at the restart can be far from where it was at the stoppage of play. According to Law 12, if the foul occurred in the opponents penalty area, the result is a PK “irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play.”

This not only seems odd to me, but I don’t believe I have ever seen a referee move the ball in such a way. Is that because any such foul is usually sanctioned as misconduct at the next stoppage of play?

This is bothering me because I have missed the same @%&# question on the USSF exam for three years now! I usually score around 96% on the test, so maybe if I can just get this silly point down, I can improve my score by one more percent?

USSF answer (February 24, 2006):
The foul has ALWAYS been punished at the point of the foul, not where the ball was, with the exception of the penalty kick.

In fact, the following question and answer from the IFAB (the people who make the Laws) may prove instructive. It is about as extreme as you can get on this point:

Law 12
37. After a goal is scored, the referee notices a signal from his assistant referee. The assistant referee tells the referee that before the ball entered the goal, the goalkeeper of the team that scored the goal punched an opponent inside his own penalty area. What action does the referee take? The goal is disallowed, the goalkeeper is sent off for violent conduct and a penalty kick is awarded to the opposing team.

Your question:
I have a question that I can’t seem to find a definitive answer for…

A Sunday travel league that I ref for recently switched from the state association to US Club Soccer, a USSF affiliated organization. The league administrators & referee assignor are under the impression that with this switch they can now use the two man (dual) system of control for officiating matches (that the state association did not allow). I told them that we are still under the auspices of the Federation and that I did not believe that was permissible. The league said it was up to them to decide.

I don’t feel comfortable being part of a dual system because I have seen its failings at the high school level. I also have heard that if we use the dual system as USSF referees that we are not covered by the Federation and that is a liability I am absolutely not willing to accept. What is the official stance on this issue?

USSF answer (February 23, 2006):
The United States Soccer Federation does not recognize the two-man or dual system of control. Games played under the auspices of US Youth Soccer or US Soccer may be officiated only under the diagonal system of control, as provided for in the Laws of the Game.

Here is the appropriate extract from page 36 of the Referee Administrative Handbook (2005 edition):
Systems of Officiating Outdoor Soccer Games
The Laws of the Game recognize only one system for officiating soccer games, namely the diagonal system of control (DSC),consisting of three officials – one referee and two assistant referees. All competitions sanctioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation require the use of this officiating system. (Certain competitions will use a 4th Official.) In order to comply with the Laws of the Game which have been adopted by the National Council of US Soccer, all soccer games sanctioned directly or indirectly by member organizations of the U. S. Soccer Federation must employ the diagonal system. As a matter of policy, the US Soccer Referee Committee prefers the following alternatives in order of preference:
1. One Federation referee and two Federation referees as assistant referees (the standard ALL organizations should strive to meet).
2. One Federation referee, one Federation referee as an assistant referee and one club linesman *who is unrelated to either team and not registered as a referee. (Only if there are not enough Federation referees as stated in 1, above).
3. One Federation referee, and two club linesmen* who are unrelated to either team and not registered as referees, acting as club linesmen, (only if there are not enough Federation referees as stated in 1 or 2, above).
4. One Federation referee and two club linesmen* who are not registered Federation referees and who are affiliated with the participating teams, (only if there are not enough Federation referees as stated in 1, 2 or 3, above). Member organizations and their affiliates should make every effort to assist in recruiting officials so that enough Federation referees will be available to permit use of the diagonal officiating system for ALL their competitions.
In all cases, the Assistant Referee may be Grade 12 if the game level is appropriate for that assignment.
* Club linesmen (not registered as Federation Referees) are limited to calling in and out of bounds only.

If only two officials turn up at the field, one must be the referee (with the whistle), while the other becomes an assistant referee (outside the field with the flag). They split the field between them, but only one may make the final decisions and blow the whistle.

Law 5 clearly prohibits the use of the dual system (two referees) and referees need to understand the consequences of participating in it (lack of insurance coverage, inability to provide support if problems develop, can’t count games for upgrade requirements, eventual hair loss, etc.).

Your question:
How is Stoppage Time determined by the Referee? I have seen many games where in the first half of the game there is quite a bit of actual stoppage time in the game, ie. player injury, goal celebrations, etc. and there is maybe only a minute or two stoppage time added to the first half. Then on the other hand in the second half, there maybe some stoppage of play for player injury, goal celebrations, etc. and the Referee adds four or five minutes (some times if there is not as much actual stoppage of the game as in the first half). Additionally, it just appear to me that when a game is tied, there appears to be more stoppage time added to the second half.

USSF answer (February 22, 2006):
There is no set or particular moment to end a game. Law 5 empowers the referee to act as timekeeper and to keep a record of the match. Law 7 instructs the referee to add time (at his discretion) for time lost in either half of a game or in any overtime period for the reasons listed in Law 7 (Allowance for Time Lost). Referees allow additional time in all periods for all time lost through substitution(s), assessment of injury to players,removal of injured players from the field of play for treatment,wasting time, as well as ³other causes² that consume time, such as kick-offs, throw-ins, dropped balls, free kicks, and replacement of lost or defective balls. Many of the reasons for stoppages in play and thus ³lost time² are entirely normal elements of the game. The referee takes this into account in applying discretion regarding the time to be added. The main objective should be to restore playing time to the match which is lost due to excessively prolonged or unusual stoppages. Law 5 tells us that the referee’s decisions regarding facts connected with play are final.

Some referees will end the playing period while the ball is in play and there is no threat to either goal, such as allowing a team to take a goal kick and then ending the period. Others will end the playing period at a stoppage. Our advice is to do what is comfortable for the referee and fair to the players.

The referee must always add time lost; however, as Law 7 tells us: “The allowance for time lost is at the discretion of the referee.” In other words, the amount of time added is up to the referee.

Your question:
At what point should a referee caution a player for interfering with the goalkeeper’s release of the ball and/or delaying the restart (by, for example, picking up the ball when a DFK was awarded to the other team)? In several professional level matches recently, such as the Chelsea-Colchester United match in the FA cup this evening, I’ve seen high level referees consistently do nothing with this sort of behavior. In this particular match, Drogba was practically jumping in front of the keeper on three or four punts, and I counted him picking up the ball on DFK’s awarded the other direction at least five times in the match.

I’ve seen similar behavior fail to be punished in MLS matches (Carlos Ruiz seems particularly bad about this sort of thing). Is there some reason I’m missing why the first such shouldn’t be a stern word and the second a caution for delaying the restart?

USSF answer (February 22, 2006):
You have missed nothing. In point of fact, the IFAB authorized for 2005 an experiment that players who delay play or provoke a confrontation with an opponent should be cautioned for delaying the restart of play.

Referees currently have the right to punish both acts by whatever means meet the need for good game management: speaking to or cautioning the guilty player.

We cannot provide firm guidance on “when” to take action, as this is the prerogative of the referee on the game. However, the intelligent referee should step in as soon as it is clear that the player performing the act is indeed attempting to delay play or hinder release of the ball.

Your question:
A player that is being substituted is running out of the field, when for no reason he runs by an apposing team player and hits him in the face for no reason at all. As a ref. I immediately red card the player. My question is, since play was stopped and he was in the process of being substituted do I allow the sub to enter the field or does his team play a man short. Second where does the ball go on the restart. At the spot of the aggression or the original spot where play was stopped. (A goal kick)

USSF answer (February 22, 2006):
No, you may not allow the substitution. A player being sent off for violent conduct is still a player until the referee beckons the substitute on; as soon as the substitute enters the field, he then becomes the player. The team must play short; however, if the team wants another substitute in the game, they must substitute for another player on the field. The restart remains the same as it would have been originally, because the violent conduct occurred when the ball was out of play.

Although not brought up in your question, this emphasizes the importance of not allowing substitutes to enter before the player has left the field.

Your question:
Reading the SYL manual for 2006, it seems that they are again utilizing the golden goal to settle ties. Is this permissible, especially from a reaonably high profile national league?

USSF answer (February 20, 2006):
The rule has been changed. There is no longer any “golden goal” in the Y League. The 2006 League Handbook is being updated to provide the new rules. This will be out by March 15 to all of the clubs, referees, and assignors.

Your question:
Could you please clarify… I know if a player kicks the ball back to his own goalie, the goalie cannot pick up the ball. However, what if the player pushes the ball off his thigh above the knee back to his goalie, would that be an infraction? Especially if they juggle the ball up to their thigh, then onto the goalie? Or if he/she intentionally hip checks the ball to his or her goalie off a deflection that should be OK?

Someone told me that the above were OK and that the illegal kick back occurs when the player kicks the ball back using their leg below his/her knee.

USSF answer (February 20, 2006):
The question you should be asking is whether or not the player actually kicked at the ball, not what part of the foot/leg ended up making contact. Juggling the ball and then hitting it to the goalkeeper with the thigh is not kicking the ball. Hitting the ball with the hip is not kicking the ball.

The call is always in the opinion and at the discretion of the referee, who is the only person capable of making the judgment as to the nature of the kick. If there is any doubt in the referee’s mind as to the nature of the pass, then common sense should prevail.  Unless the referee believes plays like this to be trickery, then there is no need to make a call.

Your question:
I was centering a U-13 Boys Flight 1 soccer game. Nearing the end of the game a player on team A was dribbling on a breakaway towards team B’s goal. A player on team B slid in from the left of the player taking the player on team A completely down without the player who made the tackle touching the ball. This happened inside the 18 and I awarded a penalty kick, along with a red card to the player who made the tackle. After the game, a referee report was filed saying that a red card was not necessary. I would like to know if my decision was correct.

USSF answer (February 20, 2006):
This is quite interesting–and somewhat puzzling. Only the referee on the game is permitted to file a match report on that game. Could you possibly have meant a report filed by a coach on the referee?

Without knowing full details on the tackle, we can only say that if you (as the referee on the game) saw a tackle which endangered the safety of an opponent, then you were perfectly within your right (and duty) to sanction that act as serious foul play. That is fully in accord with International F. A. Board Decision 4 to Law 12. Of course, it is also possible that the referee could judge that the foul interfered with an obvious goalscoring opportunity, which is also a sending-off offense.

Your question:
If a keeper is about to take a goal-kick, with an opposing player in the offside position, the ball bounces off a defender and drops to the player that is in offside position and he scores; is he called for offside or does the goal stand because he was put back onside when the ball hit the defender?

USSF answer (February 19, 2006):
If by “an opposing player in the offside position” you mean that an opponent of the goalkeeper was nearer to the goalkeeper’s goal than all members of the goalkeeper’s team other than the goalkeeper when the ball bounced off a member of the goalkeeper’s team and back toward the goalkeeper who had kicked the ball, then the answer is that in this case (where the goalkeeper played the ball and that ball bounced off the goalkeeper’s teammate) that opposing player is not considered to be offside. The ball was last played by two opponents and not by any of his teammates.

Your question:
I know that the Law and the Advice to Referees both state that the throw-in must be taken within one meter (or yard) from where it went out. While I follow this, some referees have told me that if a player moves farther than 1 meter away from the goal they are attacking that I should just let play continue because the player is disadvantaging his own team. Is this true, or is there some hidden advantage in moving downfield?

USSF answer (February 8, 2006):
No, this is not true. Referees should enforce the Laws with common sense. Even though the purpose of the throw-in is simply to get the ball back into play, yes, there may be a hidden benefit in moving farther away from the required spot to take the throw-in. The issue is whether the violation is trifling or doubtful, but you must be aware of what the basic requirement of the Law is before you can decide if a violation is significant enough to be penalized. In moving away from the required spot, the player may be gaining playing room for the team by throwing the ball to a teammate who is able to begin a better attack.

Any deviation from the correct location could benefit a team and so the referee must be prepared to enforce the requirement regardless of whether the thrower is farther up or down the touchline or farther back from the touchline.  This is entirely separate from the practical issue of whether, at any given location, the deviation is trifling and thus, even though contrary to the requirement in Law 15, the referee should penalize the violation.

Your question:
During the first half of the game, one of the Red team’s players commits a cautionable foul on a player from team Green. Everyone including the coach of the team that committed the foul knew there was going to be a card issued. The referee from about 15 yards asked the AR1 if it was #5 that should be cautioned, and the AR says yes. The referee issues the card to #5.

At half time when the crew tried to compare notes, it turns out that the #5 who was cautioned was from the team that was fouled and the team Red that commited the foul (the team that should have been cautioned) did not have a player with #5.

The referee informed the Green team’s coach that he had mistakenly cautioned Green #5. He then told the Red team’s coach that the caution issued to Green #5 was actually for one of the Red players and showed the card to Red #20. The coach agreed with the decision, but made the referee understand that the card should have been issued at the time the offense was committed and not after the game had restard and not during the half.

The referee did write this in the game report.

What is the correct decision, given the fact that game had already started.

USSF answer (February 6, 2006):
Once the referee has restarted the game after issuing a caution or a sending-off, the decision may not be changed in that game. Even though the error was discovered at halftime, the referee cannot change it. Although it may not seem fair, the best that the referee can do is to inform the teams that he or she recognizes the error and will address it in the match report.

Upon recognizing that a mistake has been made, the referee should advise both team coaches of the error and that he or she will be reporting the facts to the appropriate authorities. The referee should remind the Red coach that Red 20 remains on a caution and the Green coach that any subsequent disciplinary action taken against Green 5 during the game will also be reported and the original offense–that should have been cautioned at the time–may be taken into consideration by the authorities. The referee should report all the relevant facts, together with reports from the assistant referees (assuming that they were appointed officials and not club linesmen) and the fourth official, if there was one.

It is clear that there was a lack of awareness by all three/four match officials and someone should have taken responsibility before the game recommenced. Situations like this emphasize the importance of correct bookkeeping and communication among the officials. If an AR recognizes that the referee is cautioning or sending-off the wrong player, the AR must do whatever is necessary to inform the referee before the game is restarted.

Your question:
While reffing youth games, I often talk to players to “calm down” or “stop pushing” as a way of educating young players. However, there is a difference between giving advice and coaching.

In a recent game, an attacking player was injured and his teammate kicked the ball out of bound. When the game restarted, I advised the opposing player to throw the ball back to the other team. He ignored me, threw the ball to one of his own player who kicked the ball into the net and scored.

This was shocking to the other team as they heard my “advice” to their opponent and were expecting to get the ball back. The coach also accused me for giving illegal advice or coaching the players.

I let the goal stand because there is nothing in the rule book that tells me otherwise. However, can I caution the player who did the throw-in for “un-sporting conduct”?

USSF answer (February 3, 2006):
While it is traditional for the team taking the throw-in in such a situation to throw the ball to a place where the team that kicked the ball out may play it, there is no requirement under the Laws of the Game. The player was certainly unsporting, but not within the meaning of the Law. Let it go.

And you might learn a lesson: No matter how well intentioned you may be, you will never please everyone. Stop giving advice in such cases.

Your question:
I have been reading your collumn for years and it is a great teaching forum. I have not seen the following question addressed (maybe I missed it). I maintain the following scenario constitutes an illegal use of the hands. Some referee colleagues disagree. A player deliberately retracts and then propels forward the front of his shoulder to stike the ball, for example, in an attempt to pass it to a teammate. Contact with the ball occurs just under the collar bone. The motion used is mostly the shoulder coming forward rather than bending at the waist and using the chest. I have previoulsy not permitted this as it is clearly deliberate and has constituted, in my opinion, illegal use of the arm, even though the ball has not really come in contact with the upper arm. In support of my position, I site to them that in all my years of watching professional soccer, I have never seen this type of action at this level of play. I have seen players redirect the ball by letting it deflect off their chest but never have I seen the motion described above. What is your opinion, illegal or not?

USSF answer (January 25, 2006):
As long as the player does not use any part of the arm itself, there is no deliberate handling in this situation.

And thank you for the compliment. We try our best.

Your question:
The Laws of the Game state that Extra Time may be used as a procedure to determine the winner of a match. The Laws also state that competition rules may provide for two further equal periods, not exceeding 15 minutes each, to be played.

Can rules of competition (as in a youth tournament) still allow for a single period of extra time or “golden goal” period to determine the winner of a match?

USSF answer (January 25, 2006):
Competitions may not make rules counter to the Laws of the Game, which specify:
Away goals, extra time and taking kicks from the penalty mark are methods of determining the winning team where competition rules require there to be a winning team after a match has been drawn.

The Laws then go on to lay out the guidelines for away goals, extra time, and kicks from the penalty mark. There is no provision for a single period of extra time or a period in which a “golden goal” may be scored.

Your question:
A player claims he can wear his turban as it is his religious right. The opposing coach and player’s say that the player gets an unfair advantage when going to head the ball, should this be allowed?

USSF answer (January 23, 2006):
This position paper of 15 April 1999 should answer your question:
//Addressees deleted//
Subject: Player Dress

According to Law 4, The Players¹ Equipment, a player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player. The basic compulsory equipment of a player is a jersey or shirt, shorts, stockings, shinguards, and footwear. There is no provision for a player to wear a skirt or similar clothing.

However, in an analogous situation, in respect of certain religions that require members to wear headcoverings, the Secretary General of the United States Soccer Federation has given permission to those bound by religious law to wear those headcoverings, usually a turban or yarmulke, provided the referee finds that the headgear does not pose a danger to the player wearing it, or to the other players. This principle could be extended to other clothing required of members by their religion.

Since the referee may not know all the various religious rules, players must request the variance well enough ahead of game time by notifying the league. The league will notify the state association, which will pass the information on to the state referee committee. The state referee committee will make sure that the referees working that league¹s matches are informed.

The referee is still bound by the requirements of Law 4 that no player use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player, or use this equipment or clothing to circumvent the Laws of the Game. An example would be the use of the equipment or garment to trap the ball or to distract an opponent.

April 5, 1999

Your question:
The 2005 Questions and answers to the LOTG prescribes an indirect kick for the following action.

13. While the ball is in play, a substitute throws an object e.g. footwear at a player of the opposing team. What action does the referee take?
Play is stopped and the substitute is sent off for violent conduct. Play is restarted with an indirect free kick to the opposing team at the place where the ball was located when play was stopped *.

However, the USSF Advice to Referees has a table under the heading of violent conduct that indicates the result would be a dropped ball, due to the fact that a substitute was guilty of misconduct.  Am I reading this incorrectly?

USSF answer (January 23, 2006):
Brief and simple answer first: There are several Q&As where the reader must presume that the evildoer either entered the field or left the field to perform the deed. In this case, the Q&A item PRESUMES that the substitute entered the field of play.  Accordingly, the restart (indirect free kick where the ball was) was for this rather than for the violent conduct.

Long-winded answer with rationale second:
– If the sub remained off the field and threw the shoe, this would be misconduct committed off the field by a nonplayer–restart is dropped ball where the ball was.
– The ONLY indirect free kick restart performed where the ball was rather than where the violation occurred is the illegal entry of a substitute.
– If the Q&A answer had been based on the theory that the restart was based on misconduct and that this misconduct was ON the field because that is where the target was, the location of the indirect free kick restart would have been where the target was.
– The only factual situation that fits “indirect free kick where the ball was” is that the stoppage was for the illegal entry of the substitute–who then committed violent conduct by throwing the shoe.  Unfortunately, the FIFA Q&A forget to mention this little piece of information.

Your question:
In todays state cup our assignor, who also happened to be our district’s referee coordinator, instructed all the referees before the match to remove their jeweleries. I really have a problem with this. I do not wear any type of jewelry so it is not an issue with me on that aspect but it is a problem for me as to the reasoning for such act. I would like a ruling from USSF on this issue. Does USSF support such instructions? If so then we all need to know about it. If not does USSF support me in respect of informing my boss that he made a mistake?

USSF answer (January 21, 2006):
Sorry, but the Federation agrees with your referee coordinator. Here are two answers that make the point quite clearly:
USSF answer (April 5, 2001):
Referees are expected to look and be professional in every aspect of their work. The wearing of excessive or outlandish jewelry, no matter how it is attached to the body, would neither be nor appear professional. With the single exception of a watch, referees should not wear onto the field anything which is forbidden to players.
USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
The standards that apply to referees should not be any different than those that apply to players, with the exception of items which are required equipment, such as watches and whistles.

Your question:
Our club wants to start a program developing referees. To do that, we want to have some clinics for club members, both kids and parents, and then have them do in-house games, which means U-10 and the like.

To have a USSF licensed referee assigned to these games, do we need a licensed in-house assignor? We were hoping to have one of the coaching staff do this. Would there be any potential problems with insurance, etc.?

USSF answer (January 17, 2006):
Assignors do not have to be registered if they are assigning only youth recreational-level games. If they begin assigning for travel teams, or teams for which there are tryouts, then the must be registered.

Your question:
Can a referee put down (include) in his game report that he cautioned or sent off a player during a game when he did not SHOW or told the player that he was being cautioned or sent off?

This is what happened in this particular case:
Player A, who was a substitute at the time, recovered a ball out of touch and threw it at Player B, who was on the field, striking him in the head.Player B ran over to the side and punched Player A. At this point, players from both sides congregated around the site of the incident and refused to move apart. After a few minutes, the referee terminated the game at this point and announced this to the teams and left. No cards were SHOWN to any players. However, on his game report the referee wrote this:
In the 86th minute, Player A was booked for a Send off for violent conduct for striking an opponent with the ball and Player B was booked for a send off for violent conduct for striking an opponent.

Is this the way the incident should have been reported in the official game report?

What should have been the proper mechanic and process used to deal with the incident at the field and how, it should have been reported in the game report?

USSF answer (January 13, 2006):
If the players will not cooperate, then the referee must do what he or she can to deal with the situation. In this case, both players clearly deserved to be sent off and shown the red card for violent conduct. It is clear from your scenario that the players did not cooperate, but what the referee did would be acceptable only if (as may have been the case here) the referee was concerned about his or her own safety or that of the officiating team.  We find it difficult to believe that the referee could not have found SOME opportunity to announce in SOME way before leaving the field that the player and substitute in question had been sent off.  Many problems could be prevented by NOT letting the game report be the first and/or only occasion when the send-offs became public.

Your question:
What is the six yard box used for beside taking goal kicks and indirect kicks from pass backs on the defensive team?

USSF answer (January 5, 2006):
Here is a portion of an answer from January 19, 2004, that should answer your question:
The goal area has changed shape, size, and role several times during its history. Nowadays its primary roles are to provide a place for the goal kick to be taken and to act as a buffer zone for dropped balls and for opposing indirect free kicks within six yards of the goal. See Law 8 (Special Circumstances) and Law 13 (Free Kick Inside the Penalty Area). That is, of course, in addition, to the information in Law 1 (The Field of Play) and Law 16 (The Goal Kick).

Beyond what is stated in Laws 8 and 13, the goal area has no special significance with regard to indirect free kicks awarded when the goalkeeper deliberately handles a ball deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate.

Your question:
What’s the correct way for a female to chest the ball?

USSF answer (January 4, 2006):
With her chest.

This excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” is what we instruct our referees to do:
The offense known as “handling the ball” involves deliberate contact with the ball by a player’s hand or arm (including fingertips, upper arm, or outer shoulder). “Deliberate contact” means that the player could have avoided the touch but chose not to, that the player’s arms were not in a normal playing position at the time, or that the player deliberately continued an initially accidental contact for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage. Moving hands or arms instinctively to protect the body when suddenly faced with a fast approaching ball does not constitute deliberate contact unless there is subsequent action to direct the ball once contact is made. Likewise, placing hands or arms to protect the body at a free kick or similar restart is not likely to produce an infringement unless there is subsequent action to direct or control the ball. The fact that a player may benefit from the ball contacting the hand does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement. A player infringes the Law regarding handling the ball even if direct contact is avoided by holding something in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.).

The rule of thumb for referees is that it is handling if the player plays the ball, but not handling if the ball plays the player. The referee should punish only deliberate handling of the ball, meaning only those actions when the player (and not the goalkeeper within the ‘keeper’s own penalty area) strikes or propels the ball with the hand or arm (shoulder to tip of fingers).

Your question:
Situation: Attacking player (A) crosses the half-way line with possession of ball. Attacking player (A) crosses a ball simultaneous to being taken down on a hard slide tackle from a defender (which would warrant a caution). The referee allows advantage to take place as the pass is to space to an attacking teammate (B) who is making a run (and will be in a good scoring position).

Attacking player (B) takes a shot on goal and the goal keeper makes a save. The referee, who has allowed advantage, now blows his whistle to address the caution (to the defender around the half-way line).

Question- How and where is the re-start taken?

USSF answer (January 3, 2006):
You neglected to give us a most valuable item of information–how much time had elapsed from the moment of the original foul and misconduct to the moment when the referee finally stopped play. If the amount of time was more than 2-3 seconds, then the restart (after the caution has been issued), cannot be for the foul, but must be for the misconduct–an indirect free kick from the place where the misconduct occurred.

This situation begs the question as to why the referee would apply the advantage, rather than stop play to deal with the foul and misconduct for an event that occurred very near to the halfway line. A cautionable offense of this nature cries out to be punished sooner, rather than later, to prevent any escalation of misconduct.

Your question:
I find experienced refs all over the spectum addressing this query. And I find nothing in the rule book on it:
A team has a FK near the penalty area. Among the defenders in the wall, one player hoists himself up over a teammate using his hands, so as to head any goalbound ball going above the wall.

What’s the ruling if a) he misses the ball, and b) he heads the ball, clearing it?

USSF answer (January 3, 2006):
The offense is unsporting behavior, punishable with a caution and yellow card. The subsequent restart is an indirect free kick for the opposing team, taken from the place where the misconduct occurred, keeping in mind the special conditions described in Law 8 regarding restarts in the goal area. If the player prevented a goal or a goalscoring opportunity through this misconduct, then the player must be sent off and shown the red card before the indirect free kick.

The caution, of course, would more likely be given when the offense is not trifling (e. g., if the player actually makes contact with the ball). Simply trying unsuccessfully to get the ball using such unsporting behavior might warrant only a stern talking-to. Most players are unaware that this behavior is misconduct. As for finding something in the “rule book” (known preferably as The Laws of the Game), this misconduct was described in the Law before the general rewrite which occurred in 1996-1997, but referees are expected to officiate as though it is still there. More currently, you should review the USSF position paper on “Cautions and Cautionable Offenses (2004)” available on the USSF website.