MISCONDUCT AT PK/CONTACT AT TACKLES/”SECRET TRAINING”?

Question:
1. I’d like to know if you agree or disagree with the following. The situation as described in the recert was that the kicker of a PK commits an infraction before kicking the ball, but after the referee blows the whistle to take the PK. He shoots wide. What is the restart? I got it right, because I guessed correctly that the exam writer was only interested in infractions of law 14, but that isn’t stated in the question and is an assumption that turned out to be correct. Let’s assume for a moment the following scenario: the GK is doing the crazy-leg thing a la Dudek in Champions League 2005. The kicker gets angry and uses foul and abusive language to the keeper while making his approach to kick the ball. The kick is taken and goes wide. Now if the referee decides that he allowed the kick to be taken he gives the IFK, but can no longer eject the offending player. He has allowed a restart. In order to eject the player, the referee has to decide that he had not yet allowed the play to start and therefore the restart would be a PK (by a teammate this time). If this logic is correct, it would have made a great connection to the speech that [one speaker] gave. The referee needs to have done his homework and recognize what is at stake in the game. If it is 1-0 and one or both teams are battling for league leadership and there are 30 seconds left in the match, the defending team (or another competing team) will feel fairly angry if the PK gets to be retaken and scores even if they are now up a man. If the game is 3-0 either way, ejecting the player probably makes more sense, and the referee should decide that he hadn’t allowed the play to begin, but the player just kicked quicker than his stopping whistle.2. There are times when we are to call fouls for things that don’t seem to match the letter of the law. An example is the following: The attacker is dribbling the ball and the defender is directly in front of him a few yards up field. The defender slides directly into the ball, and because the attacker is directly behind the ball, there is no way for him to avoid taking the player out. What is the foul? It isn’t “tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball”. It isn’t a trip or attempted trip, because clearly the ball was being played, and tripping a player using the ball is certainly legal. The defender is allowed to stop a ball from the side that the attacker is running with causing the attacker to fall over it. One would like to say the tackle was made carelessly or recklessly, but those don’t apply to the “tackles an opponent..” The law clearly states the decision is strictly whether the ball hit first or not. When we make this call, what rule do we cite to the coach or player, when they inevitably argue this call?

3. I had an interesting conversation with a state referee in January. I had just watched him give an IFK in the penalty area for a player impeding another through contact, just as the infamous test question from a couple of years ago discussed. As we chatted, I mentioned that what occurred was exactly the test question and it seems like it should have been a PK (yes I had a bias in this game). He said he remembered the test question as well and agreed that what occurred was exactly what it stated, but. and this is the interesting part, he is accustomed to doing higher level games and. (this is pretty close to a quote) . if in one of those matches an assessor saw him even call such a foul in the penalty area despite it being a foul anywhere else on the field, he would have been hammered for it. As a coach, one always suspects this is the case, but usually one thinks that it is just fear by the referee, not an organized conspiracy. Is this really what higher level referees are taught? I had always believed the mantra that a foul is a foul whether it is in or out of the penalty area. I try to call games that way. Is that just what level 8s are taught. Is the real way a secret only taught to state refs and up? Or was this guy in need of some counseling? When I am refereeing should I apply his advice or does location of the foul not matter?

USSF answer (June 18, 2007):
[NOTE: The answer to question 1 was modified on June 21.]
1. The penalty kick has been taken, the kicking team had its fair chance to score, it didn’t. Game over (penalty kick in extended time). The referee must then show the red card to the kicker for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures. The end of the match IS the next stoppage and the Laws of the Game allow a red card to be shown after a match is over since all parties are still in the area of the field.

2. “I/He got the ball first” is not a defense for any foul tackle. It’s not what the player does to take the ball that constitutes a foul when making contact with the ball before making contact with the opponent, but what he does afterwards. If, after taking the ball, the tackler lifts or curls his leg to trip the opponent or uses both legs to take the opponent down or goes “over the top” of the ball (despite making contact with it), then there is at least a foul and likely a caution or send-off (particularly in the case of the “over-the-top” foul) with it. We see no problem with charging (no pun intended) a player with a careless or even a reckless charge when he steps in front of an opponent vigorously dribbling the ball and therefore causes the resulting contact. The player who does this is clearly not playing the ball but playing the player. Further, it is not “shoulder to shoulder,” which remains the traditional, meaningful core element of a legal “charge.” It is at minimum impeding — done in such a way as to force contact solely because of the momentum of the opponent (see Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game 12.14, below).

3. Oh, goodness gracious, you have found us out! Yes, there are secret sessions only for state referees, giving them all the information that is denied to the less-privileged masses. And of course assessors will hammer any referee who awards a penalty kick for a direct-free-kick foul in the penalty area. NOT!

Your state referee needs to get a life and follow the instructions given in the Laws of the Game (2007, under GUIDELINES FOR REFEREES)
“Impeding the progress of an opponent means moving into the path of the opponent to obstruct, block, slow down or force a change of direction by an opponent when the ball is not within playing distance of either player. “All players have a right to their position on the field of play, being in the way of an opponent is not the same as moving into the way of an opponent. “Shielding the ball is permitted. A player who places himself between an opponent and the ball for tactical reasons has not committed an offence as long as the ball is kept in playing distance and the player does not hold off the opponent with his arms or body. If the ball is within playing distance, the player may be fairly charged by an opponent.”

and in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

12.14 IMPEDING AN OPPONENT
“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).

KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK

Question:
I have a question on a subject that has come up before – kicks from the mark. I attended a tournament in NJ this weekend that claimed to follow USSF/FIFA rules. In the event of a tie, their rules said that “If a clear winner is not decided after the overtime periods, penalty kicks will be taken in accordance with FIFA “Taking of Kicks from the Penalty Mark””. So far, so good, but the rules then state:
o Penalty Kicks would continue as follows:
– Referee will determine goal to be used.
– Both coaches will select 5 players from their team – Only those players on the field at the end of overtime will
be able to participate in the penalty shoot-out.
– Referee will determine by coin toss of which team shoots first and what goal will be used.
– Five rounds of kicks will be taken.
– In the event a winner is not determined, coaches select the order of 5 of the remaining 6 players on the field at the end of overtime. Sudden Victory will follow.
– In the event a winner is still not determined. The coach will select any 1 players with “sudden victory” rules in effect. A player may not shoot a second time until all players have shot once.Unless I am mistaken, this tournament’s version of “kicks from the mark” may be wrong in three or four areas: (1) they require the coach to select five kickers at the start; (2) after five kicks, they require the coach to select five more kickers; (3) in the second round, they also require the coach to select an order of kickers (and I was told by an official that an order would also be required in the first round); and (4) if it is tied after ten kicks, they say that the coach will then select one player – I assume this means they assume that only the ten field players will be used and that the GK will be skipped, thus a kicker must be selected on Round 11�- otherwise there would be no need to select a player following the first ten kicks (however, the first part seems to contradict the following part that a player can’t shoot again until everyone has shot once).

In the past couple of years this is the fifth tournament I have attended where officials (and many referees) have insisted that teams must submit five kickers, plus the order in which they will shoot, prior to the beginning of a “PK shootout”. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, three of the five events were in New Jersey. My assumption is that some people have been confused by NFHS rules and somehow combined elements from each, and that the mistaken procedure has then been passed along to other tournaments. By the way, perhaps of more concern, one of the officials who believed these procedures are correct said: “I have been involved in five high-level tournaments in the past year and every one of them required that the coach submit a list of five kickers in order prior to the start.”

Could you please give your comments on the procedures used by this tournament. Also, do tournaments following USSF rules have the right to alter procedures such as kicks from the mark?

And in a follow-on question:
A follow-up on the questions I sent to you earlier today. I found out that prior to OT, the center referee told both coaches that if the game went to OT, no coaches would even be allowed on the field for the kicks from the mark. Presumably they would just give him a list of the kickers and the order. I know that the list and order part is wrong, but is there anything in the rules at all to allow him to prohibit coaches from being on the field during the kicks? This again is supposed to be USSF rules.

USSF answer (June 18, 2007):
In the 2007 Laws of the Game, under “PROCEDURES TO DETERMINE THE WINNER OF A MATCH OR HOME-AND-AWAY,” we find:

Kicks from the penalty mark
Procedure
– The referee chooses the goal at which the kicks will be taken
– The referee tosses a coin and the team whose captain wins the toss decides whether to take the first or the second kick
– The referee keeps a record of the kicks being taken
– Subject to the conditions explained below, both teams take five kicks
– The kicks are taken alternately by the teams
– If, before both teams have taken five kicks, one has scored more goals than the other could score, even if it were to complete its five kicks, no more kicks are taken
– If, after both teams have taken five kicks, both have scored the same number of goals, or have not scored any goals, kicks continue to be taken in the same order until one team has scored a goal more than the other from the same number of kicks
– A goalkeeper who is injured while kicks are being taken from the penalty mark and is unable to continue as goalkeeper may be replaced by a named substitute provided his team has not used the maximum number of substitutes permitted under the competition rules
– With the exception of the foregoing case, only players who are on the field of play at the end of the match, which includes extra time where appropriate, are allowed to take kicks from the penalty mark
– Each kick is taken by a different player and all eligible players must take a kick before any player can take a second kick
– An eligible player may change places with the goalkeeper at any time when kicks from the penalty mark are being taken
– Only the eligible players and match officials are permitted to remain on the field of play when kicks from the penalty mark are being taken
– All players, except the player taking the kick and the two goalkeepers, must remain within the center circle
– The goalkeeper who is the teammate of the kicker must remain on the field of play, outside the penalty area in which the kicks are being taken, on the goal line where it meets the penalty area boundary line – Unless otherwise stated, the relevant Laws of the Game and International F.A. Board Decisions apply when kicks from the penalty mark are being taken
– When a team finishes the match with a greater number of players than their opponents, they shall reduce their numbers to equate with that of their opponents and inform the referee of the name and number of each player excluded. The team captain has this responsibility.
– Before the start of kicks from the penalty mark the referee shall ensure that only an equal number of players from each team remain within the center circle and they shall take the kicks.

Further along in the 2007 Laws of the Game, under “GUIDELINES FOR REFEREES,” which will replace the old IFAB/FIFA Q&A, we find:

PROCEDURES TO DETERMINE THE WINNER OF A MATCH OR HOME-AND-AWAY
Kicks from the penalty mark
Procedure
– The kicks from the penalty mark are not part of the match.
– The goal may be changed only if it becomes unusable
– Once all eligible players have taken a kick from the penalty mark, the same sequence does not have to be followed as in the first round of kicks.
– Each team is responsible for selecting the players from those on the field of play at the end of the match and the order in which they will take the kicks.
– A player other than the goalkeeper who is injured may not be substituted during the taking of kicks from the penalty mark,
– If the goalkeeper is sent off during the taking of kicks from the penalty mark, he shall be replaced by a player who finished the match
– A player, substitute or substituted player may be cautioned or sent off during the taking of kicks from the penalty mark
– The referee shall not abandon the match if a team remains with less than 7 players during the taking of kicks from the penalty mark.
– If a player is injured or sent off during the taking of kicks from the penalty marks and the team has one player less, the referee should not reduce the number of players taking kicks for the other team. An equal number of players from each team is required only at the start of the taking of kicks from the penalty mark.

The United States Soccer Federation has not established any rules for kicks from the penalty mark that differ from those above. Some competitions may introduce slight variations, but these are not approved by the Federation. If a referee accepts an assignment in these competitions, he or she must follow the rules of that competition.

There are some universally-accepted points of procedure for kicks from the penalty mark that are not listed above:
The team (coach) may “select” from among those players on the field or temporarily off the field at the end of full time the players who will be the first five to kick, but the referee should not accept any list of players from either team. The same is true for the players who will take any kicks subsequent to the initial five for each team.

Coaches are allowed on the field for the initial consultation with their team prior to the first kick from the penalty mark. The referee may not ban them from the field unless they have behaved irresponsibly. They must leave the field of play when the kicks are about to begin.…

RESTARTS FOLLOWING AN “EARLY” PENALTY KICK

Question:
[Two related questions came in. We have combined the questions and answers]
1. A question has risen in another forum concerning a statement in section 14.3 of the Advice to Referees. Specifically, at the taking of a penalty kick, if the kick is taken before the referee signals, ATR 14.3 asserts that the kick must be retaken, regardless of the result of the first kick. However, some very experienced and knowledgeable referees maintain that, if a PK (taken before the referee signals) is missed, it is contrary to the spirit of the game to allow the kicking team a second chance.My question is, is ATR 14.3 correct? Or am I misunderstanding something about fairness in this situation?

2. We had an interesting scenario here during one of our state cup finals. Game went to kicks to break the tie. One of the kickers approaches and kicks the ball prior to any signal by the referee. The kick does NOT enter the goal. The referee, based on discussion with AR, decides not to retake the kick.

Is this correct?

We have reviewed the ATR & FIFA Q&A regarding Law 14. Both make reference to attacker or kicker infringement based upon the referee signalling proceed with the kick.

USSF answer (June 17, 2007):
1. Yes, Advice 14.3 is correct. It makes no difference what “some very experienced and knowledgeable referees maintain,” because the Law is clear. There can be no change of the restart if it is taken before the referee’s signal. If there is an infringement AFTER the referee’s signal, then the restart can be changed.

2. It is implicit in Law 14 that there can be no infringement of the requirements of Law 14 before the referee has signaled for the kick. Therefore, any act that occurs before the referee’s signal cannot change the restart. If the act constitutes misconduct, the referee should deal with it accordingly.

Please note that, contrary to rumors, no announcement was made at the 2007 National Referee Certification and Recertification seminars that the referee could restart in such a case with an indirect free kick.…

GARB REQUIRED BY A PLAYER’S RELIGION

Question:
The core question: some players have religious beliefs that conflict with the literal application of Law 4. Is there any guidance from FIFA or USSF for dealing with this situation, particularly for youth matches?

Law 4 states in part:
Basic Equipment
The basic compulsory equipment of a player comprises the following separate items:

* shorts – if thermal undershorts are worn, they are of the same main colour as the shorts.

and ATR section 4.4 states in part:
… In addition, goalkeepers traditionally wear items of clothing besides those prescribed under Law 4. These items include soft hats or caps, … training suit bottoms …

The referee should prevent any player other than the goalkeeper from wearing an item of clothing or equipment that is permitted to the goalkeeper under these criteria.

[My organization] and possibly other leagues have advised that religious headgear, such as Sikh turbans and Jewish yarmulkes, are to be permitted as long as they are safe for the player himself and for all other players. I expect that a Muslim hijab would fall in the same category, though I’ve not run into that one yet in practice.

We have recently been asked to allow long pants (tights) for female players whose religious beliefs prohibit them from showing skin on the legs in public.

I can foresee controversy regardless of how we respond (e.g. protests of unfair advantage, particularly in cold weather, vs. protests of religious discrimination). I was wondering whether there is any existing policy or guidance from FIFA or USSF in this area.

Answer (June 6, 2007):
Regarding garb required by a player’s religion, we believe that this memorandum of April 1999 (still valid) and the answer of 2004 (including another memorandum from 2002) should answer your question. As to cold weather gear, we have already responded that players may wear tracksuit bottoms, as long as they are uniform for the entire team.

1. To: State Referee Administrators
State Youth Administrators
State Directors of Instruction
State Directors of Assessment
National Instructors
National Assessors

From: Alfred P. Kleinaitis
Manager of Referee Development and Education

Subject: Player Dress

According to Law 4, The Players’ 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 league’s 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

cc: State Association Presidents

2. USSF answer (July 28, 2004): The referee needs to distinguish between issues of safety and issues of “unfair advantage.” There cannot be any weakening of the referee’s authority with regard to player safety. As to any “unfair advantage” that might accrue to the player with religious attire, that is strictly a matter of perception, rather than one of fact. For once, perception is not reality.

We can do no more than emphasize that the position paper of November 22, 2002, cited in full below, is still applicable and that no further position can be taken by the U. S. Soccer Federation. If and when an issue arises on the international level regarding a conflict between the dress of teams from Muslim nations and those of the rest of the world, we will receive guidelines from the International Board and from FIFA.

Subject: Player Dress

Date: November 22, 2002

According to Law 4, The Players’ 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 head coverings, the Secretary General of the United States Soccer Federation has given permission to those bound by religious law to wear such 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 league’s matches are informed.

The referee is still bound by the requirements of Law 4 — the player must not 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 equipment or garments to trap the ball or to distract an opponent.…

OH, THOSE UNINFORMED REFEREES!

Question:
Recently a referee made this call and I don’t beleive it to be correct. After a goal is scored the teams are getting ready to kick off. The referee notices a player with his shoe untied and tells him to tie it. The player does so and the referee waits until the player is bending down then blows the whistle to start play. I told my player to get up, the play was coming right at him as he was tying his shoe, and the referee told him to stay down and tie his shoe or he will get a yellow card for dangerous play. I told the player to get up, better a yellow than a kick in the head, the referee then stopped play to yell at me and said that the player being down was, “your problem coach not mine” . Should the player have been allowed to tie his shoe then play resume, since play was already stopped? Was the referee creating a dangerous situation, or is this a new rule?

Answer (June 6,, 2007):
We sometimes poke a little harmless fun at coaches for their “inventive” minds and ideas regarding the Laws of the Game. In this case, we have to do more than poke fun at this referee, who was certainly inventive, but definitely in the wrong on at least three counts: (1) The player should either have been sent from the field to tie his shoe or, more sensibly, the referee should have simply waited until the shoes were tied and then signaled for the kick-off. (2) If the referee were unintelligent enough to caution the player for this “offense,” it would have to be for unsporting behavior; there is no such thing as a caution for “dangerous play.” (3) The problem was created by the referee himself, not the player nor you, the coach. We apologize to you and your player(s) for the lack of wit, wisdom, and common sense of this referee.…

BENCH LOCATION

Question:
I recently was the referee for a Upper level youth match hosted at a local high school. Because of where each team originally located their equipment, they chose to locate their substitutes and coaching staff on opposite sides of the field. There was no obvious technical are or seating drawn. I allowed it to proceed because I cannot recall any instruction to point to which does not allow for this kind of arrangement. However, it made substitutions often confusing/difficult as there were no limit to substitutions in this match.

My question: Is there any documentation/instruction that would forbid this kind of arrangement, other than local policy? Is there any restriction on the location of benches at all? behind the goal area for instance?

Answer (June 6, 2007):
What you describe is a typical high-school type of arrangement. Although contrary to the arrangements indicated in Law 1, it is no more illegal than other arrangements in which both teams are located on one side of the field and their supporters on the other.

As to team areas or benches being located behind the goals, that is strictly forbidden by tradition, common sense, and the Law.…

SHINGUARDS

Question:
I’ve had a number of matches recently where players have had their shinguards fall out of their socks. These are the shinguards that just slip into the socks. I’m looking for a little guidance on how to deal with this as play continues. My guess is I can deal with an advantage situation for the team that didn’t lose the shinguards and immediately whistle (resulting in a dropped ball restart) if a player who loses his shinguards has an advantage. In my game yesterday, when a player lost his shinguards for the second time, I told him if it happened again I was going to send him off until he could figure out how to keep his shinguards on. When it happened again, he immediately stopped playing the ball and retrieved his shinguards (which I thought was a good solution and I told him this). This actually happened more than once after that, and he always retrieved his shinguards first.

Answer (June 6, 2007):
Safety of the competitors is the most important element of the game. Shinguards are a required item of player equipment and are meant solely for player safety. If the player is not wearing the shinguard(s), he or she is not properly dressed and should not be allowed to play until properly equipped. Under the Law, the player should be sent from the field temporarily to repair the condition. At less-skilled levels of play, your method should work fine, as long as you are able to monitor it and the other elements of the game at the same time.…

INJURED PLAYER ON THE FIELD

Question:
I was looking to get some information on the rules that are enacted when a player is down on the field. Specifically, if team A is in clear possession of the ball (for example, if team A’s goalie has the ball safely in his arms) and the referee stops the game because a player is down on the field, what is supposed to occur when the player finally gets up or is helped off the field? I saw a game where this occurred and the referee called for a drop ball at the location where the player went down (even though it was at mid field and Team A’s goalie had the ball in his box). Despite playing for over 25 years, I did not know what the rules governing this situation were and wanted to know.

Answer (June 6, 2007):
First things first: The referee should NEVER stop the game solely because “a player is down on the field.” Law 5 (The Referee) clearly states that the referee stops the game only for serious injury, not simply because a player is down. We might point out here that the definition of “serious” can vary with the age and skill levels of the players concerned.

When the referee does stop play for serious injury — and did not determine that this serious injury was caused by a foul or serious misconduct by another player — play is restarted with a dropped ball from the point where the ball was at the moment play was stopped. This applies even if the ball was in the possession of the goalkeeper. You will find this restart under Law 8 (The Start and Restart of Play):
Dropped Ball
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.…

U10 RULES ON SCORING

Question:
Recreational Soccer League, under ENSA League Rules U9/U10, for Method of Scoring we are to Conform to FIFA Rules.

Under FIFA, Laws of the Game 2006, Law 8, A goal may be scored directly from the kick-off.

My Question: Has this rule been changed to where it does not count as a Goal?

Answer (May 31, 2007):
Here is what the youth rules for 2006-2007 tell us about U10 small-sided soccer:
Law 8 – The Start and Restart of Play: Conform to FIFA with the exception of the opponents of the team taking the kick-off are at least eight (8) yards from the ball until it is in play.

Law 10 – The Method of Scoring: Conform to FIFA.

The Addendum to the U10 small-sided rules tells us:
Law 10 Goal Scored: shall conform to FIFA and the sections concerning Winning Team and Competition Rules shall conform to US Youth Soccer guidelines.…

OFFSIDE

Question:
Ok, I understand two things from the USSF position papers about offside and the AR’s job to make the call:
1. After the ball is played and there is an offside player and an onside teammate running towards the ball and the onside teammate has a reasonable chance of getting there first, the AR should not make the offside call unless the offside player touches the ball first.
2. Independently of the first item, there is a situation where an offside player (only) and a defender are running towards the ball. If there is potential for physical contact here, the AR should make the offside call for interfering with an opponent.

Now, my hypothetical scenario is this. Let’s say there is two teammates running towards the ball, one onside and one offside. Both have an equal chance of playing the ball first. According to guideline #1, the AR should wait until one of the players has touched the ball. But what about when a defender (or defenders) also run towards the ball? Should the AR immediately flag the offside? Should the AR decide if there is potential physical contact between the offside player and the defender before making the call? In this situation, should the AR just wait to see who gets the ball first?

USSF answer (May 31, 2007):
To quote a recent Federation memorandum, “In situations where an attacker is coming from an onside position and another attacker coming from an offside position, each with an equally credible chance of getting to the ball, it is imperative that officials withhold a decision until either it becomes clear which attacker will get to the ball first (even if this means having to wait until one or the other player actually touches the ball) or the action of the attacker coming from the offside position causes one or more opponents to be deceived or distracted.”…