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.


GOALKEEPER HANDLING AND PENALTY AREA LINES
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:
QUOTE
12.20 BALL KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER
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.
END OF QUOTE

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.


ENSURE SAFETY, BUT DO NOT DICTATE WHO CAN OR CANNOT PLAY [REVISED]
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).


SUBSTITUTES AND GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITIES
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.


OFFSIDE–OR NOT?
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:
QUOTE
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.
END OF QUOTE

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


PLACEMENT OF THE BALL ON CORNER KICKS
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.


PUTTING THE BALL INTO PLAY AT A FREE KICK
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.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION AND CHALLENGES
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.

ENSURE SAFETY, BUT DO NOT DICTATE WHO CAN OR CANNOT PLAY

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.

DELAYING THE RESTART OF PLAY

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.

LEAVING THE FIELD OF PLAY

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.

CAUTIONS FOR DELIBERATELY HANDLING THE BALL

Question:
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

BALL KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER

Question:
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.

BALL PLACEMENT FOR CORNER KICK

Question:
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 www.fifa.com.

GOALKEEPER POSSESSION

Question:
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.

REFEREE BEHAVIOR AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Question:
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).

YOUTH RULES

Question:
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:
http://www.usyouthsoccer.org/index.php?s=&url_channel_id=5&url_article_id=1217&url_subchannel_id=&change_well_id=2

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.

BRINGING THE GAME INTO DISREPUTE

Question:
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.

REFEREE UPGRADE GAME REQUIREMENTS

Question:
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.

WHEN TO START THE CLOCK

Question:
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.

INSTRUCTORS: PLEASE GET IT RIGHT!

Question:
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:
Infringements/Sanctions
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.

UNSPORTING BEHAVIOR BY ENTIRE TEAM

Question:
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.

LET’S GET OUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT, FOLKS!

Question:
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.

BALL OF INCORRECT SIZE

Question:
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

GOALKEEPER “PROTECTION”

Question:
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:
QUOTE
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.
END OF QUOTE

As to goalkeeper possession, we have also defined that many times, probably most clearly on February 12, 2004:
QUOTE
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.
END OF QUOTE

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.

“NATURAL” STOPPAGES

Question:
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)”

CORRECTION TO “ADVICE TO REFEREES” 2006 EDITION

Question:
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.

GAME MANAGEMENT TOOLBOX

Question:
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.

INSTRUCTORS: PLEASE GET IT RIGHT!

Question:
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.


PUNISHING TEAM FOR “THROWING” A GAME

Question:
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).

THE NEED FOR A COMPLETE PREGAME CONFERENCE EMPHASIZED

Question:
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.

WHAT’S THE CALL?

Question:
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.

A PROPER KICK-OFF

Question:
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.

GREEN REFEREE UNIFORMS?

Question:
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.

THE “DIAGONAL”

Question:
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.”

TEAM REFUSES TO CONTINUE WITH THE MATCH

Question:
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.

RE-ENTRY WITHOUT PERMISSION AND SCORING A GOAL

Question:
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.

WHAT’S THE RESTART–AND WHY?

Question:
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.

UNLIKELY SCENARIO

Question:
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.

NO ASSESSOR INTERFERENCE, PLEASE!

Question:
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.

SEND-OFF AFTER THE GAME HAS BEEN RESTARTED?

Question:
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.

“DIVING” AND PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT

Question:
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.

GOALKEEPER FORWARD MOVEMENT AT PENALTY KICK

Question:
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.

REFEREE FORGETS CARDS

Question:
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.)

PROCEDURE FOR ISSUING CARDS

Question:
We have been instructed to adhere to the procedure
Isolate
Book
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.

FOUL OR NOT?

Question:
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.

OFFSIDE AT/AFTER CORNER KICKS

Question:
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

REFEREE UNIFORM/FIFA FAIR PLAY PATCH
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.


CAUTION OR WARN?
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).


SUSPENSION AFTER EXPULSIONS OR ACCUMULATED CAUTIONS
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.


WATER BREAKS?
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.


DROPPED BALL
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.


COPING WITH THE WALL/INJURED PLAYER
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.


BRINGING THE GAME INTO DISREPUTE
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.


TEAMS WITH NEARLY IDENTICAL UNIFORMS
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.


SHIELDING VS. IMPEDING; PUSHING/SHOVING AT CORNER KICK
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.


PLEASE FOLLOW THE LAWS OF THE GAME
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.


REF-AR COMMUNICATION
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.


FIFA FAIR PLAY BADGE
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.


GAINING AN ADVANTAGE
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.


DELAYING THE RESTART OF PLAY
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.


REASONS TO CAUTION SUBSTITUTES AND SUBSTITUTED PLAYERS
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.


SUBSTITUTION
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
3.5 PREVENTING DELAY DURING SUBSTITUTION
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.
END OF QUOTE

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.


SIMULATION
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.


PLAYERS LEAVING THE FIELD OF PLAY “WITHOUT PERMISSION”
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.


INCLUDE THE GOALKEEPER, PEOPLE! HE OR SHE IS A PLAYER
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.


POOR SPORTSMANSHIP IS NOT ALWAYS CAUTIONABLE, DARN IT!
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.


REASONS TO CAUTION SUBSTITUTES AND SUBSTITUTED PLAYERS
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.


REFEREE POSITION AT THE CORNER KICK
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.


KNOW THE RULES OF THE COMPETITION
Your question:
i centered a game in which none of the players wore jerseys with numbers or any other form of identification.it 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.


ATTACKING TEAM MAY DECEIVE, BUT NOT CHEAT (PART 2)
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.


GOALKEEPER HANDLING OF OWN TEAM FREE KICK
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.


SPITTING _AT_
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.


“PROTECTIVE” HEADGEAR
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:
QUOTE
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.
END OF QUOTE

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


REFEREES, DON’T BE PETTY!
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.


KNOW WHAT TO ENFORCE
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”:
13.4 ENFORCING THE REQUIRED DISTANCE
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.


ATTACKERS MAY DECEIVE, BUT NOT CHEAT
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.


ROLE OF THE FOURTH OFFICIAL
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.


“PUSHING”?
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.


CHANGING A DECISION (2)
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.


LESS THAN TEN YARDS
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).


INTERFERING WITH THE GOALKEEPER
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:
QUOTE
12.17 PREVENTING THE GOALKEEPER FROM RELEASING THE BALL INTO PLAY
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.
END OF QUOTE

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.


CHANGING A DECISION (1)
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.”


COACHING BY PARENTS
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.


PLAY THE FULL PERIOD OF TIME
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.


NO TEMPORARY SUSPENSION/”HOT-HEAD RULE” ALLOWED
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.


RESOLVING CONFLICTS BETWEEN THE LAWS OF THE GAME AND THE IFAB /FIFA Q&A
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 (http://www.fifa.com/documents/static/regulations/Q&A2005_E.pdf) 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.


SUBSTITUTING THE GOALKEEPER
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.


CORRECT RESTART WHEN ‘KEEPER HOLDING BALL
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.


‘KEEPER HANDLES DELIBERATELY ON BALL KICKED DELIBERATELY BY TEAMMATE
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.


OWN GOAL ON PENALTY KICK (OR CORNER KICK)
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.


SUSPENDED COACH USING ELECTRONIC DEVICES TO COMMUNICATE WITH TEAM
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.


WHERE TO PUNISH DISSENT BY GOALKEEPER IN OWN PENALTY AREA
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.


CORRECT RESTART WHEN ‘KEEPER HOLDING BALL
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.


KNOW WHEN AND HOW YOU WILL BE PAID
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.


STOP EXCESSIVE CONTACT EARLY
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.


COUNTING CARDS
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.

MEMORANDUM
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.


FOLLOW-ON QUESTION AND RESPONSE RE COUNTING CARDS
Your question:
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.


REPLACING THE GOALKEEPER
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.


DELIBERATE HANDLING AND THE 4 Ds
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.


RUN THE BALL TO THE LINE!
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.


REFEREE SIGNAL AT THE PENALTY KICK
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:
Referee
– 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.


SHIELDING/SCREENING THE BALL–REVISED ANSWER
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
IMPEDING?
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.]

SITUATION REVISITED/REVISED ANSWER (March 23, 2006)
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.


AGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REFEREE/AR AND PLAYERS?
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.


IS AGE DIFFERENCE AMONG PLAYERS A “SAFETY” THING?
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.


CAUTION IN THE PENALTY AREA
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.


LOCATION OF RESTART
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.”


ALL GOALS MUST BE ANCHORED!!
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.”


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER;CHARGING ON A 50/50 BALL
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.


SIMULATION, AKA “DIVING”
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.


ASSIGNING GRADE 9 REFEREES
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.


FIELD IMPROPERLY MARKED
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.


AVOID THEATRICS
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.


DENYING A GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY THROUGH MISCONDUCT
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.


DENYING A GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY THROUGH HANDLING
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.


DELIBERATE HANDLING AND ADVANTAGE
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.


FEINTING AT A PENALTY KICK
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.


DEALING WITH IMPROPER PLAY
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.


TEAM SOCKS MUST BE ALIKE AND BOTH OF THE SAME COLOR
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.

QUOTE
4.1 WEARING UNIFORMS
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.
END OF QUOTE


WHERE TO PUNISH FOULS
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.


TWO-REFEREE (DUAL) SYSTEM OF CONTROL
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):
QUOTE
Policy:
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.
END OF QUOTE

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.).


HOW MUCH STOPPAGE TIME?
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.


DELAYING THE RESTART, INTERFERING WITH THE GOALKEEPER
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.


PLAYER BEING SUBBED OUT COMMITS VIOLENT CONDUCT
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.


SUPER Y LEAGUE RULES
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.


PASS TO GOALKEEPER
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.


WHO’S REFEREEING THE GAME? NOT THE COACH!!
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.


NO OFFSIDE IF THE BALL IS PLAYED BY THE OPPONENT
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.


LOCATION OF THE THROW-IN
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.


TOO LATE TO CORRECT CAUTION TO WRONG PERSON AFTER RESTART
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.


DO NOT ADVISE PLAYERS ON TACTICS OR SPORTSMANSHIP
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.


“SHOULDERING” THE BALL
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.


“GOLDEN GOAL” _NOT_ AN OPTION FOR DETERMINING THE WINNER OF A MATCH
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:
QUOTE
PROCEDURES TO DETERMINE THE WINNER OF A MATCH
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.
UNQUOTE

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.


TURBANS, ETC., ARE PERMITTED, PROVIDED Š
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


THROWING AN OBJECT
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.


JEWELRY FOR REFEREES
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.


REGISTERED ASSIGNORS
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.


KEEP THE PLAYERS INFORMED, NOT IN THE DARK
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.


PURPOSE OF THE GOAL AREA
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.


FEMALES CHESTING THE BALL
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:
12.9 DELIBERATE HANDLING
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.).

12.10 RULE OF THUMB FOR “HANDLING”
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).


CORRECT RESTART
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.


UNSPORTING BEHAVIOR
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.

2006 Part 1

AGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REFEREE/AR AND PLAYERS?
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.


IS AGE DIFFERENCE AMONG PLAYERS A “SAFETY” THING?
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.


CAUTION IN THE PENALTY AREA
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.


LOCATION OF RESTART
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.”


ALL GOALS MUST BE ANCHORED!!
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.”


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER;CHARGING ON A 50/50 BALL
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.


SIMULATION, AKA “DIVING”
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.


ASSIGNING GRADE 9 REFEREES
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.


FIELD IMPROPERLY MARKED
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.


AVOID THEATRICS
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.


DENYING A GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY THROUGH MISCONDUCT
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.


DENYING A GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY THROUGH HANDLING
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.


DELIBERATE HANDLING AND ADVANTAGE
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.


FEINTING AT A PENALTY KICK
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.


DEALING WITH IMPROPER PLAY
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.


TEAM SOCKS MUST BE ALIKE AND BOTH OF THE SAME COLOR
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.

QUOTE
4.1 WEARING UNIFORMS
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.
END OF QUOTE


WHERE TO PUNISH FOULS
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.


TWO-REFEREE (DUAL) SYSTEM OF CONTROL
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):
QUOTE
Policy:
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.
END OF QUOTE

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.).


HOW MUCH STOPPAGE TIME?
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.


DELAYING THE RESTART, INTERFERING WITH THE GOALKEEPER
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.


PLAYER BEING SUBBED OUT COMMITS VIOLENT CONDUCT
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.


SUPER Y LEAGUE RULES
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.


PASS TO GOALKEEPER
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.


WHO’S REFEREEING THE GAME? NOT THE COACH!!
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.


NO OFFSIDE IF THE BALL IS PLAYED BY THE OPPONENT
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.


LOCATION OF THE THROW-IN
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.


TOO LATE TO CORRECT CAUTION TO WRONG PERSON AFTER RESTART
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.


DO NOT ADVISE PLAYERS ON TACTICS OR SPORTSMANSHIP
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.


“SHOULDERING” THE BALL
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.


“GOLDEN GOAL” _NOT_ AN OPTION FOR DETERMINING THE WINNER OF A MATCH
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:
QUOTE
PROCEDURES TO DETERMINE THE WINNER OF A MATCH
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.
UNQUOTE

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.


TURBANS, ETC., ARE PERMITTED, PROVIDED Š
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


THROWING AN OBJECT
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.


JEWELRY FOR REFEREES
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.


REGISTERED ASSIGNORS
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.


KEEP THE PLAYERS INFORMED, NOT IN THE DARK
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.


PURPOSE OF THE GOAL AREA
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.


FEMALES CHESTING THE BALL
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:
12.9 DELIBERATE HANDLING
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.).

12.10 RULE OF THUMB FOR “HANDLING”
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).


CORRECT RESTART
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.


UNSPORTING BEHAVIOR
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.

2005 Part 4

TOO FEW PLAYERS/QUESTIONS?
Your question:
If a player leaves the field to receive medical attention we are now instructed to stop the game until the player is evaluated and it is decided that he/she can return. Is there a guideline as to how long we should hold up the game? Also, do we take into account where the ball is, which team has the ball etc… or do we stop the game immediately.

Second- Am I supposed to be addressing these questions to my SRA or are you the proper authority? I have sent you a few other emails and do not want to outlast my welcome, sort-a-speak.

USSF answer (December 23, 2005):
We believe you are referring to the change in the IFAB’s Q&A for this year, Law 3, Q&A 25:
25. A player, from a team with only seven players, leaves the field of play to receive medical attention. What action does the referee take?
The match will stop until this player has received treatment and returns to the field of play. If he is unable to return, the match is abandoned, unless the member association has decided otherwise with regard to the minimum number of players.

The decision as to when the player is unable to continue is at the discretion of the referee.

If play was stopped for the medical attention, the referee will restart with a dropped ball at the place where the ball at that time. If play was stopped for some other reason, then that reason governs the restart.

Questions are welcome and we are happy to respond to as many of them as possible. We do suggest, however, that you begin by searching out answers for yourself–the research is valuable. Local instructors can be a valuable resource for this, as can the SDI if the local instructors are not sure of the answer. You might also look through the archives, because you may very well find that your question has already been asked and answered. With over 140,000 referees in the United States, we would hope that this site is a source of last rather than first resort.


TOO MANY PLAYERS WHEN A GOAL IS SCORED
Your question:
Does a goal stand if it was discovered the team had two many players on the field at the time a goal was scored? What action should the referee take if the game had already been restarted and also what action should the referee take if the game had not been restarted?

USSF answer (December 22, 2005):
If the ball enters the goal with an ³extra² player or person in the game, the following chart provides principles for determining whether a goal has actually been scored.

Who Is Extra Discovered Before Kick-Off Discovered After Kick-Off
Attacker Goal Canceled*       Goal Counts
Defender Goal Counts   Goal Counts

This part of the process is simple and straightforward. The difficulty in this situation lies in determining the correct restart.

If an extra player or person is discovered on the attacking team before the ensuing kick-off, the goal does not count. The restart will vary, depending on circumstances.

The restart is an indirect free kick for the defending team (taken in accordance with the special circumstances described in Law 8) if the extra person was a substitute who had entered the game without the referee¹s permission.

However, if the person was a player who had left the game with the referee¹s permission for injury or other reason, or to correct equipment or bleeding, and then re-entered without permission, the restart would be an indirect free kick from the (approximate) place on the touch line where the player had re-entered.

The restart is a dropped ball (taken in accordance with the special circumstances described in Law 8) if the extra player was either an already substituted player (where the rules of competition follow Law 3 strictly and do not allow multiple entry and re-entry) or an outside agent (see Advice 1.8(d)). Referees must remember that already-substituted players remain under the authority of the referee and may be punished for misconduct, while outside agents may not.

If the extra person is discovered on the attacking team after the ensuing kick-off, the goal must be counted as the game has already restarted. The offending person is removed and the game is restarted in accordance with the Law. (See Advice 3.3.) If the extra person is an outside agent and still on the field, the correct restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped. If the game was stopped for some other purpose, the game is restarted for that reason.


DON’T HANG AROUND THE FIELD; GET YOUR REPORT IN!
Your question:
I need information regarding the correct protocol when a referee abandons a game. What should he do for writing what on the game report, referee report and sent to who, and the procedure on staying on the field while there may be a possible confrontation between players/ parents?

USSF answer (December 20, 2005):
If the referee determines that the game must be abandoned or terminated, then, unless there is some rule of the competition to the contrary, s/he announces the fact, gets the crew together, and leaves as quickly as possible. Whenever the referee remains in the “area of the field,” s/he continues to be responsible for the behavior of players, substitutes, and team officials who are also in the area of the field. There is no reason to remain where there is danger to the referee or other members of the officiating crew.

The referee is obligated to file a full report with the competition authority (league or tournament) and with the state association, with a cc to the SRA, as to the reason for abandoning or terminating the game. The report always goes to the authority with jurisdiction to mete out disciplinary action.


SEND OFF ONLY THE TRUE VILLAIN!
Your question:
I attended an entry-level clinic this past weekend. The teacher said that, if a player commits a red card offense and you don’t know who did the crime, you can red card any player because the team has to play short. And if you red card the wrong player, that maybe the one who committed the crime would come forward if it meant that his buddy would be sent off in his place. He said that it wasn’t helpful to talk to the captain to ask for his assistance in identifying the bad guy because he wouldn’t want to help send off his own teammate. He didn’t ask his ARs for assistance because the referee is in charge of the game and it would appear that the referee was not in charge if he had to ask for help. Is this fair?

USSF answer (December 19, 2005):
Refereeing must be a team effort in which all the team members are communicating information at all times. The referee and the ARs should be looking for information from one another at all stoppages and at any through balls. The officials must position themselves so that they can see any play that occurs within their view without duplicating the view of the other officials. If the referee is inattentive and misses the serious foul play or serious misconduct, then he or she should look to the nearer assistant referee for assistance.

In the case where none of the officials has seen the incident, the referee might employ various plans to determine whodunnit, but for a sending-off there should be either a direct admission from a player that he or she did it or some corroboration of a player’s accusation from a neutral person such as the assistant referee. Without firm evidence, the referee may not capriciously send off any player who just happens to be convenient. If neither the referee nor the assistant referee can confirm who committed the sending-off offense–in other words, who did the deed– then NO ONE can be sent off.


DEALING WITH FAILURE TO RETIRE THE CORRECT DISTANCE
Your question:
If the opponent does not give 10 yards to begin with, is it appropriate to give a yellow card? And if a yellow card is given for not giving 10 yards and then the player backs off to 10 yards and asks the referee if ³this is good² at what point does the referee need to get involved and mark off the 10 yard mark? Does the referee have any reason to give a red card?

USSF answer (December 13, 2005):
Quick answer: The confident and self-assured referee will use methods other than cautions or send-offs to combat player misbehavior if at all possible. Such methods include the quiet word, the public admonition, or a bit of humor. What often renders this impossible are blatant acts of violence or less serious misconduct such as failure to retreat or dissent. In these cases, the referee has to look at both him- or herself and the players and determine why the “softer” methods did not work.

Longer answer: The intelligent referee picks her card-giving situations carefully so that they achieve the maximum impact for the least cost. Simply failing to retreat the required distance is not normally enough to warrant a caution (at least not above a certain age and skill level). First of all, it is the kicking team which decides whether they need to have the minimum distance enforced — the referee should back away and stay out of this matter unless the kicking team asks for assistance. Second, cautions for failing to respect the required distance should generally be saved for those opponents whose failure is blatant and/or whose offense made a difference (i.e., actually interfered with the free kick to the detriment of the kicking team).

As for your second question, if the yellow card has already been given for the misconduct and the cautioned player offers a serious (as opposed to satiric) attempt to comply with the minimum distance, why would the intelligent referee not want to provide assistance? However, such assistance should not generally include any action “to mark off the 10 yard mark.” Simply go to a point which is at least ten yards away (which you will know from long experience with estimating such distances), point it out, and then forcefully urge the opponent to comply. Player attempts to pace off the distance or to dispute the referee’s determination of the correct distance are forms of dissent and should not be allowed.


INCONSISTENCIES IN OFFSIDE?
Your question:
Thank you for devoting time to allowing questions. You must be very patient folks.  I have listened to higher grade referees debating position papers, lotg, and power point presentations and questions persist. Even more confusion is added when position papers that are laws to us have inconsitencies:

Offside: The August 24, 2005 paper on Law 11 Decision 2 states that an attacker who is not challenged by an opponent nor competing for the ball with a teammate coming from an onside position should not be ruled offside unless the attacker phsycially touches the ball, assuming the offside attacker does not move or gesture to deceive, distract or obstruct an opponent.

The paper goes on to say that a player may be penalized before playing or touching the ball if no other teammate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball and there is no potential for physical contact with an opponent.

Although the paper tries to say the above are consistent this just does not appear to be the case. Practically, an opponent will always challenge so there is probably interference with an opponent, but the way these interpretations are written only add more confusion.

Penalty Kick: I have heard several different versions of what the change in law means. Some say “if the ball does not enter goal” really doesn’t mean that. If the kicking team encroaches and the ball is saved by the keeper then allow play to continue as advantage; if deflected by keeper and goes over goal line but not between posts, then corner kick; if does not enter goal, IFK regardless of any deflection. Any elaboration?

USSF answer (December 12, 2005):
With regard to the offside memorandum: There is some confusion between what FIFA has said and what we know that they have instructed referees to do at the international level. If a player is in an offside position and the ball is passed in his direction and it is clear that he will be the only player to get to it, there is no need to wait for the touch.

The answer on penalty kicks is really very simple: “Does not enter the goal” means exactly that. If the goalkeeper “saves” the penalty kick, then the ball didn’t enter the goal and, strictly according to Law 14 without regard to judgment as to doubtful or trifling, the restart has to be an indirect free kick where the infringement of Law 14 occurred.  Advantage does not apply to violations of Law 14.


TOO MANY PLAYERS!
Your question:
We had an incident where the scoring team had too many players on the field. Unfortunately, they didn’t realize this until after the goal was scored, as they were about to kick off. I instructed my referee to count the goal as good based on the fact that there was no call preceding the goal. I understand the procedure covered by law 3 however this incident seems unfair so I would very much appreciate clarification. Should the goal count…should we have removed the additional player and awarded a goal kick … where would we do a drop ball or indirect kick? We will probably never see this again but I and the coach’s would really like to know the right answer. Your help would be greatly appreciated!

USSF answer (December 8, 2005):
The goal must count (and full details included in the match report) if and only if play was restarted with a kick-off and the existence of the extra player was not discovered until after the restart.

If the existence of the extra player was discovered BEFORE the kick-off restart, deny the goal. Remove the twelfth player and caution him/her for entering the field without permission. Restart with an indirect free kick on the goal area line parallel to the goal line, in accordance with the special circumstances described in Law 8.

Note: this guidance applies only if the extra player was on the team scoring the goal.  If it was the defending team that had too many players, the goal will count under all circumstances.


RESTARTS FOR INFRINGEMENTS OF LAW 14
Your question:
Just had a quick question on the recent memorandum (Memorandum 2005) regarding the July IFAB amendments. In particular, the amendment regarding infringements by the attacking team at the taking of a PK. The restarts are now to be IDK’s if the ball does not enter the net. But where are the restarts to take place?? At the point of infringement, i .e., the PK mark in the case of the kicker being the infringer, or near the 18 in the case of an attacking teammate entering the area prematurely? At the 6 or anywhere inside the goal area? I am also an instructor and will be holding my re-certification clinic this coming Sunday. If you could get back to me before then I would appreciate it.

USSF answer (December 8, 2005):
Restarts are given from the place at which the infringement occurred–wherever it is that the miscreant committed the violation of Law 14. Conceivably, in the case of a player moving closer to the goal line than the ball, this could even be outside the penalty area.


THE REFEREE DOES NOT DECIDE WHO WINS THE GAME!
Your question:
Facts:
During a U13 competitive cup game, and for the first 18 minutes of the game, Team A started the game with and continued to play with 12 players. With these 12 players, Team A scored 2 goals. Team B did not score during this time, but had approximately 6 shots on goal stopped, so they were offensively active.

After the referee realized the infringement had occurred, the extra player was removed. Team A scored a single goal during the rest of the game.

Team B did not score any goals throughout the game.

Final Game Score was 3 – 0.

The referee correctly realized and admitted he made a mistake. In fact, he wrote the following statement on the game card: “During first 18:00 minutes [Team A] had 12 players on the field. Referee did not notice the infringement. During that time [Team A] scored 2 goals w/12 players on the field.”

Question:
Seeing that during the first 18 minutes that Team A had an extra player on the field and knowing that this gave Team A’s defense an unfair advantage in defending and keeping Team B from scoring, what should the appropriate outcome be of the game be?
forfeit win for Team B?
1 – 0 win for Team A?,
3 – 0 win for Team A?,
replay the first 18 minutes?
replay the entire game?
or ???

USSF answer (December 7, 2005):
The referee did the correct thing in reporting the entire incident. The decision as to what should be done is up to the competition authority, i. e., the cup organizers (likely the state youth association).


INTIMIDATION BY COACHES OR OTHER TEAM OFFICIALS
Your question:
Great site which we frequently cite in weekly messages to our referees. Normally we agree 100% with your (USSF) answers but wish to explore further the USSF answer of November 28, 2005.
If the coach or other team officials want to know the referee’s name, they can ask and the referee should be prepared to give his or her name.

Rarely does a coach request a referee name under good circumstances to nominate them for ref of the year. Generally the coach is upset and wants to report the ref as though the assignor cannot figure out who the referee was on the game.

Although we instruct the 75% of our refs who are youth referees to introduce themselves to the coaches/teams before the match, our State Referee Administrator also has taken the position that a young referee is protected by Kid Safe — the same as players. No young referee (minor) should be approached by an angry adult and have to give their name.

As far as adults — no problem giving our names although perhaps a bit unnecessary as the assignors know where we are on each game. But I think back just two weeks ago when I was an AR with a 15 year old referee working a U13B travel match. The coach was berating her and demanded that she give him her name. Her lip started to quiver and I moved towards her and she turned her back to the coach and told me “I’m scared.”

I’m just wondering if USSF really wants our 13, 14, and 15 year old referees to give their names to the coaches. It seems as policy this would embolden coaches to be more, not less, confrontational.

USSF answer (December 7, 2005):
This is an addendum to an answer of November 28, 2005: We must all remember that there are rude and bullying people in every walk of life. Young referees, just like beginners in any endeavor, must learn to deal with them. As in life, so in refereeing.

Many coaches will try to intimidate referees, particularly young referees, by being rude and by asking for their names. The request for the name is legitimate under any circumstances, but rudeness and poor sportsmanship are not. The referee may also request the name of the coach or other team official, and should note that this will go into the match report.

Another way to deal with it is to simply give one’s name and then move quickly to get on with the game or move to one’s car. Full details (team, name, if available, and what happened) should be included in the match report.


OUTSIDE AGENT
Your question:
A ball from another game comes onto the field around the edge of the penalty area at the 18 yard line. The ball is stationary and has been on the field before the play had entered that half of the field. Play continues to the point where the attacking team gets the ball within 4-5 yards away from the outside agent outside the penalty area. The attacking team has clean possession but slows down since the ball is obstructing a passing and/or shooting lane. The referee doesn’t stop play since he feels the attacking team has advantage since they possess the ball. What is the correct call?

USSF answer (December 6, 2005):
If there was no proactive effort by anyone, including the refereeing “team,” to remove the extra ball from the field, the referee must stop play, remove the ball, and restart with a dropped ball. Please note that there is no such thing as “advantage” in this situation.


A FLAGGING DILEMMA
Your question:
Assistant referee is sprinting towards goal line, as he does so he looses control of his flag. The flag is about five yards behinnd him, at same time he notices that the ball has been played to an attacking player who is in an offside position. What is the proper procedure? A) should he run back to retreive flag and raise it up or b)should he stay where he is and get the referee’s attention in some other way like raising his arm?

USSF answer (December 6, 2005):
The AR needs to decide which is the more important issue,having a flag in one’s hand or signaling an offside as quickly as possible (consistent with accuracy)? The answer is clearly the second option. The assistant referee should choose the most efficient way out of the dilemma–standing at attention and raising the arm. If the referee communicates with the ARs properly, that means that they exchange information constantly, with the referee looking at the ARs on every through ball and the ARs watching one another for signals.

While it may seem like it makes us look foolish — standing there with our arm held as though it carried a flag– it is after all our fault for losing the flag in the first place. Suck it up.


GOALKEEPER LYING ON THE BALL
Your question:
Question was a U10 keeper went for ball, missed it with her hands and caught it on the ground with her legs. She didn’t lay on the ball but was trying to get to it with her hands. Attacker tried to kick ball and referee awarded IFK to attacking team. A fellow referee cited FIFA Q&A for a keeper not in possession of ball lies on it and the referee calls playing in a dangerous manner. My take was the referee must have felt the keeper was playing in a dangerous manner and awarded an IFK accordingly. A third referee said, “The keeper has made a save. that’s what keeper’s do,however awkward the movement, he still made the save and has control of the ball. THE CONTROL DOES NOT HAVE TO BE WITH THE HANDS ONLY. (caps mine). The keeper was not playing in a dangerous manner. The attacker should have been called for an offense an a DFK awarded the keeper’s team.

My quibble is control WITHOUT hands. Would you mind clarifying this?

USSF answer (November 29, 2005):
The simple and only true answer–the decision is up to the referee’s evaluation of the total situation.

By having the ball trapped between her legs (and not yet having control with the hands), the goalkeeper MAY HAVE BEEN unfairly not allowing other players access to the ball–no matter how innocent her true intent. The important thing is how long the goalkeeper was lying on the ball and whether or not she was making an effort to get it into her hands. In other words, whether or not the ‘keeper was lying on the ball for an unreasonable amount of time.

For the referee to have called playing dangerously on the ‘keeper here, he would have to have decided that she had trapped the ball between her legs and was not making a reasonably speedy effort either to play the ball away from her or to gain hand control.  If it was a case of the ball winding up trapped between the keeper’s legs and more or less immediately thereafter the attacker challenged, then the proper call would have been AT LEAST playing dangerously against the attacker and possible a direct kick foul for kicking if the challenge involved actual contact.

The issue is whether the keeper delayed unnecessarily–if she did, then she was guilty of withholding the ball from SAFE play and that is a classic situation of playing dangerously; if she did not and the attacker’s challenge was virtually simultaneous with the ball becoming trapped, then she did NOT withhold the ball from play and the attacker’s action was either playing dangerously (indirect free kick) or a direct-free-kick foul.


CHARGING THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
May an attacker charge the opposite goalkeeper?
1. Inside the keeper’s goal area;
2. Inside the rest of the keeper’s penalty area;
3. Outside of the keeper’s penalty area.

USSF answer (November 28, 2005):
Charging the opposing goalkeeper is possible only if the charging player and the goalkeeper are both going for a ball that is within playing distance of both but is not in the actual possession of the goalkeeper. If the goalkeeper has control of the ball in any manner other than with his hands (see Law 12, IBD 2 for the definition of “control”), an opponent may charge that ‘keeper in the same manner that he or she would charge a field player who has the ball. The Law presumes that a goalkeeper who has clear possession of the ball in his or her hands has up to six seconds to distribute the ball into play and any player who interferes with this distribution by charging or otherwise interfering should be sanctioned. Thus, if the goalkeeper legally has hand control of the ball, then the ‘keeper may NOT be charged, no matter where he or she is, and any attempt to do so could be punished with an indirect free kick or a direct free kick, depending on the circumstances. Again depending on the circumstances, the player might also be subject to a caution/yellow card for unsporting behavior.


REFEREE IDENTITY
Your question:
Are referees required to have the proper USSF Identification Card in their possession (or in their equipment bag, in the immediate vicinity) while performing their duty as referee? Must a referee give this information to the coach or other personnel if requested?

USSF answer (November 28, 2005):
No, although you must wear your badge, you are not required to have your registration card–it is NOT an identification card–with you at the game. If the coach or other team officials want to know the referee’s name, they can ask and the referee should be prepared to give his or her name. In this day of extreme caution, the referee should not give any other information, such as Social Security or identification number or phone (office or home) or address or e-mail address. If the person asking for the information wants to know more, tell them to contact the referee assignor for the competition.


NUMBER OF SUBSTITUTES
Your question:
My question pertains to the following text in Law 3: “The rules of the competition must state how many substitutes may be nominated, from three up to a maximum of seven.”

Does that text refer only to official competitions organized by FIFA, the confederations, or the national associations? I am trying to ascertain whether “a greater number of substitutes” (under Other Matches) can be more than seven.

USSF answer (November 28, 2005):
The specific number of substitutes allowed is governed by the competition authority and must be published in the rules of the competition.


NO OFFSIDE FROM A THROW-IN DEFLECTED BY AN OPPONENT
Your question:
Today for the first time ever a referee that claims he is very knowledgeable told me that if an attacking player that is in an offside position receives the ball from a throw in (by his team mate) that is deflected from a defenders head or body then he is offside and an offside call should be made since the exception states that it is not offside if the attacking player receives the ball “directly” from a throw in and in this case it was not received directly????

I disagreed with his interpretation. He told me that he looked it up and it was confirmed to him that he was correct. Is he correct?

USSF answer (November 28, 2005):
You are correct and the referee is dead wrong. Here is a previously-published answer from May 27, 2003, reissued here to keep the record straight: Your reasoning is correct: Deflections off opponents do not change the basic premise that a player cannot be called offside directly from a throw-in. In this case, the correct decision is that there was no infringement of the Law. Now, if the ball had been deflected by a teammate of the player in the offside position, the referee would have been correct in calling offside.


SUBSTITUTION
Your question:
My State association has just approved unlimited substitutions for next year. I have seen a post on your site for a similar question, but some scenarios were not discussed. I am sure the coaches will think of many ways to delay the game with these substitutions.

While Advice to Ref explains the substitution ins and outs, I cannot find any information on whether a player MUST come on, after being beckoned by the ref or some examples that IMO end up being time wasting. (My guess is not)
Example 1:
Player A is ready at the centerline.
Coach calls for substitution. Ref acknowledges substitution request. While Player B is in the process of coming off, coach tells ref that s/he does not want to sub anymore. IMO = Time wasting, but player B can either stay on or go off (had permission to leave)

Example 2: Player B has come off, referee beckons player A on, but coach decides not to send player A.
a) wants a different player (My call would be to continue the game with or without player B or A, not waiting for the new player and to tell the coach to have that “new” player ready for subbing at the next opportunity.
b) doesn’t want to sub anymore

Any advice on what is best and most practical (assuming proper subbing procedures)?

USSF answer (November 19, 2005):
The referee can and may not ignore requests for substitutions for any reason other than to ensure that the substitution conforms to the Law. Even if it seems that the purpose is to waste time, the referee cannot deny the request, but should exercise the power granted in Law 7 to add time lost through ‘any other cause.'” And, 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.

If the substitute has reported correctly to the match official (fourth official or the assistant referee on that side of the field) before the stoppage, the referee, upon recognizing that fact, should allow the player to leave the field and the new player (substitute) to enter the field.  If the immediacy of the restart (which is the right of the team with the restart) naturally draws the referee’s attention away from any pending substitution requests, then the substitution will have to wait. A substitution, if properly requested, is a right not to be lightly denied. There are only two reasons to do it: Either the substitute is not ready or the team with the restart wants to restart immediately.

We need to remember that technically it is the player who requests the substitution, not the coach or any other team official. If the new player (at the direction of the coach or on his/her own) decides not to enter the game, then simply restart the game without the player who has left the field. The team will have to play down a player until the new player decides to complete the substitution process–but that new player will have to get the permission of the referee to enter. This will soon put a stop to any more foolishness by the coach. The failure of the substitute to enter the game when the referee has given permission could be regarded as delaying the restart of play, a cautionable offense.

There is of course another issue–namely, the ability of the player on the field to refuse to exit. This also is the player’s right, no matter what the coach wants and no matter how much the substitute may want to enter. Again, becoming aware of this situation, the referee can simply restart play leaving the player on the field and the coach and substitute fuming on the sideline. Life is tough.


WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ALL THE TEAM OFFICIALS HAVE BEEN EXPELLED?
Your question:
During the second half of a game referee issues red card to coach. Coach continues to dissent.  Assistant coach dissents/foul language-issued red card. No other coach on bench. What is the outcome of the game? Why?  Where is this in rule book?

USSF answer (November 16, 2005):
The referee has no authority under the Laws of the Game to show a card to any coach, assistant coach, or other team official, but this may be allowed by various rules of competition. If cards for coaches are permitted (or even required) by the rules of competition, then they must administered. If the referee chooses to accept a game in which the Laws are flouted or distorted by the competition. then the referee must enforce those rules of competition religiously.

Coaches receive little or no recognition under the Laws of the Game. They are mentioned twice, once in IBD 2 to Law 3 and under Powers and Duties of the Referee in Law 5. In both places the Laws make the point that the coach must BEHAVE RESPONSIBLY and thus may not shout, curse, interfere, or otherwise make a nuisance of him- or herself. The coach’s presence, or the presence of any other team official, is generally irrelevant to the game–under the Laws of the Game, but it may have some importance under the rules of youth competitions. If the coach or other team official is removed, known in the Law as “expelled,” that person must leave the field and its environs. If it is a youth game and the coach and all other team officials have been expelled, then the referee should consider abandoning the game. A full report must be filed with the competition authority. The referee has no authority to determine who has won or lost the game, whether by forfeit or any other process; that is the responsibility of the competition authority. The referee must file a report on all events associated with the abandonment.


SAFETY AND RULES OF COMPETITION
Your question:
We are travelling from [from the northern part of our state to a] tournament next week [in the southern part of the state. I was just reading their rules, and one of their rules states that wire rimmed glasses are prohibited. They cite the [local] Referee Association’s page, which does in fact include that prohibition.

A quick google search identified Minnisota as the only other area of the country that appeared to be following this particular rule.

Given that glasses are used to correct a medical condition (well, maybe not all sunglasses) and are quite expensive, most children I know have only one pair with a current prescription (my own girls have to get their prescription changed about once every 8 months, and our insurance only covers once ever 24), this rule seems to be way over the top.

Most kids who play with them up here in northern Virginia have no problems with them, the rule sounds to me like there might have been one incident that led to its creation.

Once upon a time, I suspect that a referee told a player to remove a medic alert bracelet, and that caused a stink and the result was that medical/religious items can be taped.

Having worn glasses for over 40 years, and having played baseball, football, soccer, basketball and softball with them I can speak from experience that they do not pose any more of a hazard than plastic framed glasses..

Furthermore, I think it is likely that if it came to a head, the Americans with Disability Act Reasonable Accomodation provisions would fall on the side of the player with the wire rimmed glasses as they correct that medical condition.

Perhaps the national association could look into it and consider putting out a memorandum on the issue. An eyeglass strap seems a reasonable solution, and a player with bad eyesight playing without glasses could be even more a hazard without glasses than the glasses themselves.

USSF answer (November 16, 2005):
A referee association cannot make rules of competition. We believe this is a rule established by the state association. While states cannot make the rules less restrictive than the Laws of the Game, they can make them more restrictive–in this case with their eye on the safety of all players. Whether you agree with it or not, it is a rule in the competition in which you will be refereeing, so you must enforce it or not accept the games.

As you are also from the same state and are not familiar with this rule from your coaching and refereeing in [your area], we would suggest that it may be a rule of either the competition or simply a regional rule in [the southern part of the state].


“PROTECTING” THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
U-12 game, an attacker, contesting for the ball right at the mouth of the goal box, kicks the keeper hard enough in the thigh to stop play. no foul was called, even though the center was right there. less than five minutes later, the same attacker directs a hard tackle at the same ‘keeper, (no contact, but it rattled the keeper enough to drop the ball which he had just collected. again, no call.

I know that an attacker has a right to challenge for the ball, providing he does not impede or foul him/her, but i have had it stressed throughout my training that we (refs) must protect the keeper and that the keepers know this. so…. WHERE do we draw the line?

at the very least, i would have verbally warned the attacker for the first action, and carded him for the second.

agree/ disagree?

USSF answer (November 15, 2005):
Goalkeepers are entitled to no more protection than any other players–regardless of what their teammates and they (and your trainers) might think. The intelligent referee will ensure that any fouls on the goalkeeper are punished just as quickly and thoroughly as those against other players. This same intelligent referee will also consider the age and experience of the players in making that decision.

When the players (and ‘keeper) have an expectation of “protection,” no matter how unjustified from the point of view of the Law, it is wise to recall that the players will act based on THEIR expectation.  In short, even when the challenge is fair, we may need to take at least some action toward the opponent in order to defuse the situation and reduce the likelihood of retaliation.  Of course, this action may be nothing more than an increased presence or a nonspecific warning.

It is also a fact that ‘keepers–because of the single right they have that is not shared by any other players of handling the ball inside their penalty area–tend to put themselves into more dangerous situations than would be the case for any of their teammates.  Either in diving for a ball on the ground or leaping in the air for a ball high up, the goalkeeper is more easily subject to more serious injuries as a result of contact which, if it involved a field player, would not be a foul.

In the scenario you present, the player who kicked the goalkeeper in the thigh should have been called for kicking and possibly–depending on the game situation and how the referee perceived the action–cautioned for unsporting behavior or sent off for serious foul play. There is little remedy for the “hard tackle” that made no contact. That is part of how the game should be played, hard but fair. The Law does not provide protection for iron hands and butterfingers.


WATER!
Your question:
I’ve been kinda curious about this. The supplementary materail found in the USSF publication of the Laws of the Game and the Advice to Referees both seem to say that water can *only* be given/taken/etc. on the touchline. Hence, this would mean that water could not be kept on the goal line. However, I have been told that in professional matches, you can see the goalkeepers for both sides are allowed, and do, have water, a towel, and other accessory equipment behind the goal line. I’ve never noticed this.

What is exactly the rule regarding water and where players can have it?

USSF answer (November 15, 2005):
There is nothing in the Laws of the Game regarding water and where players can have it. However, under the requirements of Law 4, all equipment used by players must be safe, and it is not considered safe to have water containers on the field of play. (Too many incidents have come about with thrown bottles or bottles used as weapons.)

The USSF publication “Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players” for 2005 (and previous years) states:
23. 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 the field.

Goalkeepers are slightly different creatures than other players and are traditionally allowed some privileges that the other players are not, such as wearing a cap to keep the sun or rain out of their eyes. Because it is more difficult for a goalkeeper to run to the touch line for a drink of water or for a towel to wipe off sweat, another of those privileges is to have a bottle of water and a towel either inside their goal or just over the goal line next to the goal. This equipment may not be kept on the field of play.


ADVANTAGE AT AN OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY?
Your question:
In a recent men premier league attacker has the ball and is dribbling towards the goal chased by a defender shoulder to shoulder. At the 20 yard from the goal the defender attempt to trip the attacker who being over 6′ tall shook off the attempt and continue to dribble into the penalty area but was not able to regain his footing and fell. As I gave an advantage at the 20 yard I called back the advantage for a free kick to the attacking team who scored. Should I also red carded the defender for attempting to trip the player clearly heading towards the goal although I gave an advantage?

USSF answer (November 15, 2005):
While it is certainly the referee’s prerogative to invoke the advantage clause and then call the play back to the spot of the original foul if the advantage does not develop, it is very rare in cases of denying a goal or a goalscoring opportunity, which should be dealt with immediately.

We cannot give you a more complete answer, as your scenario does not tell us where any other defenders were.


THE REFEREE’S WHISTLE
Your question:
I read somewhere that the soccer referee’s whistle was introduced in 1878. Prior to this a referee had to rely on waving a handkerchief.  Is this true?

USSF answer (November 15, 2005):
Yes, this is true. We would add that the referee was not mentioned in the laws until 1880.


THE REFEREE CANNOT DECLARE A FORFEIT!!!!
Your question:
If an ineligible player steps on the field in the second half of a match, causes a fight in which both players are given red cards- the game has already been declared a forfeit but does the red card stand by the other player who was not ineligible?

USSF answer (November 14, 2005):
The referee cannot decide the result of any game, so it is interesting to hear that it has already been declared a forfeit–only the competition authority has the power to do that. If the ineligible player was sent off and shown the red card, the referee must include all details in the match report. The same holds true for the player who was participating in accordance with the rules. Only the competition has the authority to decide what happens to players (or otherwise) who have been sent off and shown the red card.


THE KICK RESTART
Your question:
Regarding the below scenario, and assuming that the ball moved Œenough¹ to be in play, this tactic seems to be much Œen vogue¹ currently. Two questions:
1) Do you have any problem with it from a Œspirit of the game¹ perspective? I don¹t in general, but in practice I see problems: For instance, what about a player who puts the ball on the arc and then Œadjusts¹ it with his foot? I would normally consider this to be a Œtrifling¹ infrigement (like a player who tosses the ball onto the field to a teammate for the receiver to take the throwin) but once pandora¹s box is open, it¹s hard to see how the defense it to know what a kick is and what an adjustment is. Your thoughts?

2) Does the age of the players make a difference? U10? U9?

3) What would you advise a referee to do if a coach Œpre screens¹ the tactic to you before a U10 game? That is, comes to referee and says: ³We plan to run this play during the game; is that okay with you?²

[The question refers to our answer of 25 October 2005 that at a corner kick a simple tap of the ball is fine, as long as there is some detectable movement.]

USSF answer (November 14, 2005):
1) The kicking team is always given more leeway than the defending team for deceptive tactics, but adjusting the ball with the foot is not the same as kicking it. (And why would you consider tossing the ball to a teammate to take the throw-in to be an infringement, trifling or not?)

We recommend for your reading this brief article, to be published in the next issue of Fair Play:
The Kick Restart
Dan Heldman and Jim Allen

This is a simple guide for referees‹and for the players whose games they officiate‹on what it means to kick the ball at a restart.

The first requirement of any kick restart (free kick, penalty kick, corner kick, goal kick) is that the ball be “kicked,” rather than merely touched or dragged with the foot, to be considered as ³kicked.² The foot must be used, no other body part. The second requirement is that the foot must cause the ball to “move” to another place. In other words, as a result of the action of the foot, the ball goes from here to there. A simple tap on the top of the ball, even though it may cause the ball to quiver, tremble, or shake, that does not make that ball move to a new space, is not a kick. Nor is putting one’s foot on the ball and dragging or rolling it to a new space considered to be a kick.

Such simple concepts‹”kick” and “move²‹ but difficult to define without being complex, technical, or obscure. The referee has to make the final decision on what is a “kick” and what is “not a kick.” This must be based on his or her feeling for the game‹what FIFA calls “Fingerspitzengefuehl.² The bottom line is that not everything that produces movement of the ball is a kick and thus would not legally put the ball into play in any of the kicking restarts.

2) No, the age of the players makes no difference. It’s a hard world out there; they need to learn how to play soccer sometime.

3) If a coach “prescreens” the tactic, the referee should simply thank the coach for the information and state that each incident will be judged on its merit, not on some preconceived notion.


DEALING WITH COACHES
Your question:
I was just wondering ways on how to deal with coaches that are disrespectful and condescending, basically how do you deal with coaches who yell and scream at you to a point that has crossed the line. I am a grade 9 ref and have encountered this type of coach numerous times, but i have never know what to do if it gets really out of hand. Can you caution or even send off a coach? Can you abandon a match because of a “mean” coach?

USSF answer (November 14, 2005):
Coaches are expected to behave responsibly. (See Law 5 and Law 3, IBD 2, the only places in the Laws that team officials are mentioned.) The referee’s first line of defense (unless the behavior is REALLY egregious) is to warn the coach who is behaving irresponsibly. This is the equivalent of a caution, but no card is shown. Then, when the behavior persists (as it usually does, because most coaches who behave this way fail to understand that they must change their errant ways), the coach is expelled from the field. Please note that under the Laws of the Game, no card may be shown; however, showing the card may be a requirement of the rules of the competition.

Terminating the match generally should be reserved for situations in which the coach, though ordered from the field, refuses to leave (just as one would do in a similar case involving a player).


“JUSTICE AND SATISFACTION”
Your question:
The score is 3 – 2 in favor of the defending team Z.and there is only 25 seconds left in the game. Player A, an aggressive and fast forward on the attacking team is standing just outside the penalty area because the goalie has picked the high ball out of the air about 10 yards from where player A has stopped his run. All the goalies’ other team members were beaten in the breakaway by player A, and are not near enough to mark him. Goalie Z realizing the great threat that player A is, assaults player A with the ball.  He runs to a position where he can deliberately throw the ball at player A’s head. He succeeds in hitting player A, who is still standing just outside the area, with the ball directly in the nose causing the player A to bleed from the nose. By the time the referee can assess the situation and have player A carried off the field time for the game there is only 3 seconds left on the clock. And team Z has all moved back to defend the goal.

What should the referee do to administer justice and satisfaction for the game?
What is the restart?
Should additional time be added to the clock?

USSF answer (November 10, 2005):
The correct restart, once the goalkeeper has been shown the red card and sent off for violent conduct, is a direct free kick from the place where the ball hit attacker A.

The referee is the sole judge of the amount of time remaining in any period of play. Surely the referee will exercise common sense and consider the Spirit of the Game in determining how much time to add.

There is little else the referee can do to “administer justice and satisfaction” for the attacking team. Doing anything other than what is listed in the previous two paragraphs would be counter to both the Laws and the Spirit of the Game.


PLAYER EQUIPMENT–SLINGS
Your question:
1. I need clarification. During a recent match, I was checking in the players. One player had a sling on her shoulder. I asked her if she was under a doctor’s care. She said she had seen a doctor about 1 and1/2 months ago for a tendon problem in her arm and so she wore the sling to stabilize/protect her arm/shoulder. She said she could play with the sling on. I told she could not play with it on. She said I could take it off, but “I might get hurt.” I then told her that I would like to see a medical release from the doctor giving clearance to play. She couldn’t and I told her she could not play. The coach went on to say that other officials allowed her to play in the past 6 weeks. I just did not feel comfortable with her playing as safety is my first concern for the players.

Seeing how other players were knee braces, etc., how do we handle medical conditions that seem apparent and when the player gives us more information that makes us feel even more uncomfortable about their status?

How do we also handle coaches and parents that say their players can play? What are the liability issues involved?

Guidance would be appreciated!!!

2. As the our district referee director I have been asked about the following situation and to advise the District Board of Directors on what the correct procedure would be. I have not been able to find anything that is clear on what should/could have been done. Was the referee correct? I think that he has the authority to disallow an unsafe situation, at the same time I think he may not have been wise in the decision that he made. Please provide some direction. Thanks.

The following is part a letter from the mother of a U-12 girls team member:
My daughter collided with another soccer player in a game a month or so ago. I took her into [a doctor] a few days later. He x-rayed her collarbone. She did not break it. She pulled some tendons in the lower part of her collar bone. He told her not to lift her arm above her head, or pull it way back behind her for a few weeks. He also told her that she could wear a sling to help support her arm and keep it from going too far back. My daughter asked him at that time if she could play soccer. He told her that he felt she could, as long as she would take herself out of the game, if it started to bother her a lot. I kept her out of the next two games, just as a precaution. She started back playing with her sling, and played 6 games with the sling. We didn’t have one referee tell her that she could not play with the sling.

On Monday, my daughter rode to the soccer game with her coach. I was about 5 minutes late to the game. When the girls went to show their cleats and shin guards to the referee before the game, the referee asked my daughter if she was planning on playing in the game. She said yes, and he then told her “not anymore, you are not.” My daughter didn’t even realize why he had said that. She had no idea why he had told her that. She went and told her coach and he went and asked him why. [The referee] told [the coach] that it was because she had an injury and that he wouldn’t be held liable. [The coach] tried to explain to him that my daughter had played the last 6 games with the sling and that it she was just wearing it for support. She also told him that she could take the sling off, if he wanted. His only reply was that she is not playing. By this time, my daughter was crying.

When I arrived the coach and my daughter explained to me what happened. I called [the referee assignor] during the first half of the game and explained to her what was going on. She told me that she had no problems with her playing in the game, and that I should talk to him at half time and explain the extent of her injury. When I tried to talk to him at half time he was very hard to talk to, and unwilling to even listen to me. I did tell him that I had talked to [the assignor]. I also asked him why the referees in the last 6 games did not have a problem with her playing. Our coach had a copy of the waiver that I had signed at the beginning of the season stating that I would be responsible for any injury, or even death that may happen during a game, and that the referee could not be held liable. The coach for our team and the coach for the team we were playing both tried to talk to him and explain to him that a support for her arm was no different than a support brace for a knee. There were several girls on both teams wearing knee braces.

I felt he was very unwilling to communicate with us or give us a real valid reason as to why she could not play. I do not understand why a player can play with a knee brace, for support, but cannot play if she is wearing a sling, for support. The rules should really be the same for any player who is playing whether it be with a sling or a knee brace, or an ankle brace, etc. Both teams left that game with a bad feeling. The parents and the coach on the opposing team were as shocked as I was. They were very helpful and supportive. In fact, the coach on the other team asked [the referee] what it would take to be able to let this little 12-year-old girl play her last game. Again, his only reply was, she is not playing.

USSF answer (November 9, 2005):
As long as the provisions of Law 4 regarding player safety are observed, the referee has no authority to tell a player she cannot play with a sling on her shoulder. If the player uses the sling to control the ball or for other illegal purposes, the sling comes off or the player goes–after being cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior.

If the referee simply enforces Law 4, the player and her parents assume all responsibility for any further injury.


TEST QUESTION CONFUSION
Your question:
A recent question on a referee test has me confused:
Time has been extended at half-time or full-time for a penalty kick. The ball strikes the crossbar, deflects down and bounces off the goalkeeper, who is on the field of play, and goes into the goal. According to LOTG 2005, page 45, this is a good goal.

Is the result any different if the goal keeper is farther away from the goal line? The test (and the answer presented as correct) indicates no goal if the ball strkes the keeper (and deflects in) out past the goal area line.

USSF answer (November 8, 2005):
The question you inquire about is number 97:
97. The game has been extended to allow for the taking of a penalty kick. The kick, correctly taken, rebounds off the crossbar and deflects off the goalkeeper, who by this time is six yards from the goal line, and into the goal. According to the Laws of the Game, a goal should be awarded.
a. true. b. false.

The answer to this question is true, under both the Laws and Q&A and on the test key. Occasionally an instructor will change the keys to the answers provided by the Federation at a clinic based on his or her “superior” understanding of the question.


PLAYERS LEAVING THE FIELD
Your question:
Player A of the attacking team and Player D of the defending team are playing the ball they both go over the end line while playing the ball. The ball cleared out to around the 18 yd line. Player D falls down and rolls furhter off the field. Player A gets up and runs back onto the field.

The goalkeeper is in the goal area and Player A is outside the goal area. Player D is attempting to get up.

Player A1 (attacking team) passes the ball forward to Player A who is standing alone. Player D runs back onto the field after the pass and the shot is saved.

Please explain the rule and recommended Referee and AR positions and responsibilities.

USSF answer (November 7, 2005):
Players A and D went over the goal line during the course of play. D then fell down and struggled to return to the field, returning only after the pass from A1 to A. Provided that A was NOT nearer to the goal line than the defending goalkeeper,in which case A would be in an offside position, there was no offside and there is no decision to make. Defenders legally off the field in the normal course of play, who are not being restrained by an opponent from returning to the field, are counted in determining who is the second last defender just as though the defender were on the closest part of the goal line.

The referee should be in such a position that he or she can see the ball and where play will go, is out of any space that the players need, and can see the AR. The AR should be in line with the ball or the second last defender, whichever is nearer to the goal line.


AR SIGNALS
Your question:
In a recent game a shot on goal was stopped by the goalkeeper, but the ball was still bouncing on the goal line. As the goalie tried to possess it he pushed the ball completely over the goal line but the referee could not see the ball went in. Fortunately, the Assistant referee on that end was on the goal line and saw the ball was in. The Assistant sprinted up the touchline, but did not raise his flag to show the referee that the ball was out-of-play before he ran. The referee was confused, and did not react to the assistant’s run as it appeared all he was trying to do was get back in position for offside. Should the Assistant have raised the flag FIRST, to tell the referee the ball was out, and THEN after the referee blew the whistle – sprint up the touchline to indicate a goal was scored? A chocolate malt rests on your interpretation.

USSF answer (November 5, 2005):
Here is the answer, straight from the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials,” 2005 edition:
Lead Assistant Referee
* If the ball briefly but fully enters the goal and is continuing to be played, raises the flag vertically to get the referee’s attention and then, after the referee stops play, puts flag straight down and follows the remaining procedures for a goal
* Runs a short distance up the touch line toward the halfway line to affirm that a goal has been scored
//rest deleted//


RESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOR?
Your question:
At the end of a youth soccer match a player from Team A deliberately and aggressively moves toward a player from Team B with the clear intention of starting an altercation. The player from Team A states that he is going to ³kick his a**². The player from Team B allegedly called him a ³*itch² during the game. The Coach from Team A [B is correct] witnesses the incident and moves to intercede by approaching the player from Team A. The other players from Team A were also trying the restrain the player from Team A with little success. The Coach from Team B places his hands on the shoulders of the player from Team A, turns the player from Team A away from the area and marches the player from Team A back to the Coach from Team A. The Coach from Team A then tells Coach B to ³keep his hands off his players². Coach A had made no effort to intercede in the altercation due to his proximity on the field.

My questions are:
1. Was it appropriate for the Coach from Team B to intercede the player from Team A?
2. Was it appropriate for the Coach from Team B to touch the player from Team B by physically restraining him and them physically move him back to the Coach from Team B?
3. What amount of force is reasonable to prevent an altercation of this type?
4. Are there any written guidelines from any governing bodies that specifically address this type of situation?

USSF answer (November 4, 2005):
A team official is expected to behave responsibly. The obligation of the referee to act in this area ends at the same time as it ends regarding the players, at the conclusion of the match, except in very limited circumstances. The referee may decide to include information about the dispute in the match report but, otherwise, it should be up to the coaches to file complaints with their respective leagues or organizations if they feel another coach or team official has behaved incorrectly.


WHERE IS THE PENALTY AREA FOR HANDLING PURPOSES?
Your question:
What is the definition of the penalty area ie, when is the goalie considered out of the box. Is this an imaginary line straight up from the line? A goalie coming to line to clear a save got called for a hand ball because “as she was preparing to kick it, she put the ball out over this imaginary line”. She did not step over the line until after the kick and the ball never touched outside of the penalty area.

What is the correct ruling here?

USSF answer (November 4, 2005):
The correct reasoning in this matter covers two areas, one is the geography of the field, the other is the discretion of the referee.

According to Law 1, the lines belong to the areas they bound. Thus, the lines marking the penalty area (the goal line, the two lines perpendicular to the goal line and 18 yards out from the inside of the goal post, and the 44-yard long line located parallel to the goal line and 18 yards out from it) are part of the penalty area. These lines extend upwards as far as is necessary, just as do the touch lines along the sides of the field. A ball that is within the vertical plane of the penalty area line is in the penalty area. It makes no difference where the goalkeeper’s hands are at the time of touching this ball–they can be inside the area of outside the area. What is important is the location of the ball itself.

The goalkeeper is expected to release the ball from her hands within the penalty area, but may kick it with the foot even though she has stepped outside the penalty area. The referee is the only person on the field who can decide where this happened. (The referee may sometimes ask for the opinion of the assistant referee on the touch line.)

However, you might also wish to consider the offense doubtful or trifling. Who is to say that, in the process of punting the ball, there was or was not a moment when full hand contact with the ball was made while the ball was wholly outside the penalty area? Even if this is the case, we whistle only if the offense is not trifling. As long as the ‘keeper was actively releasing the ball into play and was not gaining an unfair advantage, so what?

As a rule, the intelligent referee will allow a goalkeeper to kick the ball even if she has released it just outside the line, but will speak firmly and quickly with the goalkeeper about remaining with the area while still holding the ball in her hands. If the offense occurs a second time, then the referee should punish it.


NO JEWELRY!!!!
Your question:
I would like to know if Law 4 permits jewelry this the referee regards as safe given the circumstances. For example, can a 10-year-old girl in a recreational league wear a post earrings if they are a small?

I have read position papers dated 10/29/01, 3/7/2003, and 3/17/ 2003. Both papers which refer to jewelry refer to “Additional Instructions for Referees…” in the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 Law of the Game publications. The language they quote is different than the language at page 63 of the 2005-2006 manual. The present language says “players may not wear any kind of jewelry, which is dangerous… If it is dangerous, it must be removed…”

If it is still the rule that no jewelry except religious jewelry or wedding bands can be worn, I’d like to know how one explains the present language at page 63 which clearly implies jewelry could be worn if it is safe.

USSF answer (November 4, 2005):
Your reading of the language on p. 63 is incorrect. The phrase “which is dangerous” means that jewelry in and of itself is dangerous. It does not mean that only jewelry that is not dangerous may be worn.

That means that NO JEWELRY may be worn.


DO NOT REWRITE THE GAME SCENARIO IN YOUR MATCH REPORT!
Your question:
NOTE: Two players ask about a recent game in which the referee committed several egregious errors and then manufactured a misleading match report.
1. I have question regarding re-starting a game after an injury. While playing a game at the weekend, a player on the opposition was injured. While he lay on the ground our team kicked the ball out of play so that he could receive attention. After he was carried off the field their goal-keeper went over to see the injured player. While he was off the field , their player restarted the game by throwing the ball back to us, unaware that his goal keeper was still off the field and some way from his goal.

We then went to their end and scored a goal. The referee indicated a goal, but then their team surrounded him insisting that they were not ready to re-start even though it was one of their players that re-started the game, the referee agreed with their protests and disallowed the goal and resumed play with a throw-in.

My question is was this a mis-application of the rules by the referee? It was their decision to throw the ball back in, (the referee had blown his whistle to allow play to be resumed) the fact their player did not notice that their goal -keeper was not in position is irrelevant. Am I correct?

2. I play in [a] men’s league affiliated with the USSF. I’ve checked your archives, and there are some intresting and unique situations, but I have yet to find one to rival the one I’ll tell you. The incident happened this past Saturday, I’ll explain as precisely as possible…

For simplicity, let’s say the teams are called “A” and “B”.

Team B had an injured player deep in team A’s half—no penalty, and team A kicked the ball out of bounds out of sportsmanship. The injury was rather severe, and took 3-4 minutes before the injured player was carried off the field. Once he was off, TEAM B threw the ball in back to team A Left Back (sportsmanship) along A’s left wing, still very deep in their own end, and play resumed as normal (or so we thought) A’s Left Back passed to the Left Wing, who dribbled past two men toward the net. The LW scored the goal on a surprisingly empty Team A net, to tie the game. It turns out the goalkeeper was assisting the injured player (on the other end of the field), and had not yet recovered back to his goal in time (He was at the 18 when the goal was scored). The referee called it a goal, which was met with the protests of ALL of TEAM B. The entire team surrounded the ref and yelled, but for about 3 minutes, the referee stood by his decision. Then, one player on B went to the linesman to talk. The linesman then called the ref over, and after a minute of talk, the goal was disallowed, and play was restarted (after thorough protest from Team A) at the throw-in which already occurred about 50 seconds before the would-be goal! The ref gave as the reason for the overturned goal “sportsmanship”. The kicker is that the ref, upon leaving the linesman, picked up the ball and very slowly walked right through the center circle. You could hear both teams collectively hold their breaths as he walked to the center with ball in hand, and then kept walking to the sideline on the left side. As soon as his feet crossed past midfield, Team A did the exact same thing as Team B did when the goal was originally called. If it didn’t affect my team so negatively, I would actually think it was comical how this whole thing turned out.

Here are the bottom lines that confuse me the most with this call:
1-Everyone was ready–the Refs, Team A, and Team B with the exception of the goaltender
2-TEAM B was the one to throw the ball in, Not A. So, isn’t it their own fault for restarting play when their own keeper was unready?
3-The ref called a goal, and after 5 minutes of very intimidating arguments by Team B (containing MANY LARGE, aggressive players), the ref overturned his call in favor of “sportsmanship”–the linesman was the one to convince the ref to change his call. (The other linesman had NO part in making the decision)
4-play restarted at the throw-in that had already occurred, in essence erasing about one minute’s worth of soccer in which, until the goal was actually scored, 24 of 25 people (including 3 officials, minus team B keeper) on the field were playing as if nothing were out of the ordinary.
5-the play would have resulted in the left wing going 1-on-1 with the keeper, if he was there. So we should completely erase that goal AND the incredible scoring opportunity A generated simply because the goalkeeper wasn’t prepared–even though HIS OWN teammate was the one who restarted play??

I think I should also say that prior to the throw in, the referee blew his whistle signifying the resuming of play.

That about sums it up. Thank you so much for your time. We are currently looking into protesting the result of the match, so your expedient response would be GREATLY appreciated!

USSF answer (November 4, 2005):
First the answer to the questions asked by two different people. This will be followed by an excerpt from the referee’s match report.

There is no requirement that the goalkeeper be on the field of play at any particular moment during the game. As the goalkeeper’s team restarted play without him there, this would appear to have been a misapplication of the Laws by the referee who took away a legitimately scored goal.

The referee’s misapplication of the Law occurred AFTER a correct application (recognizing the goal). The two accounts are remarkably consistent with each other in all important points. Of course, the real bottom line question is, did the referee have the power to do what he ultimately did? Yes, because play had not restarted (a kick-off). Did the referee have a basis in the Law (much less the specific reason he gave)? No.

The referee’s report differs from that of the questioners: “At the 88th minute of play, one of the [Team B] players was injured in the [Team A] keeper’s box. The ball was played out of bound. The player was treated and subbed out. The ball was thrown into play by Team B while trainers were still on the field and AR were managing the substitution. In addition, [Team B] goalkeeper was in the [Team A] half of the field. In three quick plays the ball was in the net of [Team B]. The goal was disallowed for the restart did not take place with the referee’s approval.”


BAD PLAY BY GOALKEEPER
Your question:
This incident occured to one of my referee friends at a BU12 challenge game. The attacking team crossed the ball into the PA. It was deflected into the air by another player, and was coming towards an attacker within the GA. The attacker had his back to the goal and was waiting for the ball to land at his feet, except it never got there – the goalkeeper came up behind the attacker, reached around him with both arms (one on each side), and caught the ball in the air. Freeze time here – the attacker is standing with his back to the goal, with both his arms at his sides. The goalkeeper is behind the attacker, with one arm on each side, and has caught the ball in front of the attacker, at about waist/chest level. The goalkeeper made little to no contact with the attacker in the course of catching the ball.

Was the play by the goalkeeper legal? If so, what are the attacker’s options at this point? What are the goalkeeper’s options?

USSF answer (November 4, 2005):
No, as you describe it, the play by the goalkeeper was not legal. While it may seem extreme, the correct call is holding and restart with a penalty kick.


WORKING WITH ASSISTANT REFEREES
Your question:
I was the Center Referee in a BU17 match last week where we had was an interesting miscommunication.

My ARs were both teenagers, and I had never worked with either AR before. Both seemed to be doing very well.

Mid-way through the 2nd half, Red R1 took a throw-in within 10 yards of the goal line, on the half Red was attacking. The throw was taken on my side of the field, where I was roughly even with R1 and just inside the penalty area.

Red player R2 received the throw-in. He was near the goal line on my side of the field, and just inside the goal area. R2 was clearly in offside position. The high, arcing throw was slightly beyond him, but he one-touched the ball off his outstretched and elevated foot to a teammate who was directly in front of the goal.

At this point, my AR raised her flag straight up and stationary. I looked at her, and she brought the flag down to the horizontal. I thought to myself, “The ball came directly from a throw-in; offside is not in force.” I waved her off. She looked surprised, but lowered the flag and immediately re-engaged in play. The ball was eventually cleared beyond midfield.

After the game, I asked her about the call. She said she was signaling ball out (flag up) and goal kick (flag horizontal), because she saw the ball cross the goal line before R2’s kick brought it back in. She clearly had the position for that call. She seems to have signaled the call correctly.

The signals for goal kick on a quick in-and-out, and for offside with a restart near the center of the field, seem identical in this situation. But there may be something subtle that I am missing. I’d like to know how other Referees make the two signals distinct, so that my partners and I can do better next time.

USSF answer (November 4, 2005):
Your AR gave precisely the right signal for a ball out of play over the goal line and back in again–and for offside. As there might some confusion between the two signals, it is probably wise to discuss this in your pregame conference. This will allow you to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

P. 19 of the Guide to Procedures says for Offside:
Lead Assistant Referee
– Raises the flag vertically
– If the referee misses the flag, stays at attention with the flag raised until the defense gains clear possession or until a goal kick or throw-in is awarded to the defense
– After making eye contact with the referee, indicates the location of the offense by dropping the flag at an appropriate angle to a point in the field (far, middle, near side)

P. 20 of the Guide to Procedures says for Goal Kick:
Assistant Referee
– Points flag horizontally toward goal area if ball crosses assistant referee¹s side of the goal line or 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 horizontally toward goal area

These are indeed very similar mechanics for two different situations, where the distinction between them usually depends on what is covered in the pregame, the knowledge/skill level of the officials, and the extent to which they are used to working with one another.

The way to distinguish them depends on making one or both of two observations. First, was there any possibility of an offside? If not, then the AR’s actions have to indicate a ball off the field across the goal line last played by an attacker but back on the field and still being played. Second, if there was an offside possibility, then the referee looks at the AR’s position. If the AR is up from the goal line, then the referee will assume the signal is for an offside because it is highly unlikely that the possible offside would be right on the goal line. If the AR is right on the goal line, then the referee would assume that the AR has (properly) followed the ball all the way down to the goal line and is therefore NOT signaling an offside.

If all the fates have conspired against you and there is an offside possibility (an attacker is right on the goal line) and the AR is right on the goal line, then take your best guess and rely on the AR to inform you that you were setting up for the wrong restart (whichever it was) — i.e., if you incorrectly called an offside when the real problem was the ball leaving the field, the AR would simply inform you that you should be restarting with a goal kick instead of an indirect free kick.

The key element here is trust.


THE TEAMS HAVE TO CHANGE, NOT THE REFEREES
Your question:
My son is a young referee in our small league he is level 9 certified and as in his usual dress prides himself in wearing the “proper uniform” which as he was instructed by his assignor is yellow shirt, black shorts, socks and shoes. In our league this has been the standard for the 12 years I have been involved. Recently one of the associations who wears yellow/navy as a jersey has 1 team who has been really pushing the referees to change their shirts or throw a penny on. This is a U12 team and my son while young is 5’9″ 160 pounds so he obviously doesn’t look like the girls. I was really just trying to get clarification on exactly whose responsibility it is to change. We have quite a few young refs who have all made the initial investment in the required uniform and this coach is pushing the issue so hard it is to the point many may not need the one they have because they probably won’t be back. I have taken the extra step and purchased him another color but my question really is can or should the coach of a recreation team be allowed to dictate what a certified official can wear. I have read all I can find on the subject and the closest I can find is “If the uniform colors worn by a goalkeeper and the referee or by a team (or both teams) and the referee are similar enough to invite confusion, the referee must attempt to have the goalkeeper or the team(s) change to different colors. If there is no way to resolve the color similarity, then the referee (and the assistant referees) must wear the colors that conflict least with the players.” Any insight you could give would be appreciated. I may be biased of course but I think he does a good job and in years to come will grow to be a great official. I just hate to see him quit because of something that may should not be allowed.

USSF answer (November 3, 2005):
The IFAB’s Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, usually called the FIFA Q&A, was changed this year. Now the teams must change–but the intelligent referee will use that intelligence in these situations to avoid major problems. Here is the appropriate citation from the Q&A, Law 4, Q&A 2:
2. According to Law 4, the players of each team and their goalkeepers must wear jerseys or shirts of different colours to distinguish them from the other players. Must the referee and the assistant referees wear clothes with different colours to the players?
No. The players and goalkeepers must wear clothing that distinguishes them from the referee and assistant referees.


IMPROPERLY MARKED AND LAID OUT FIELD
Your question:
Team A attacking goal shoots on goal. Ball skips along and ball stops short of goal mouth near the left post closest to my diagonal. Defender for team B attempts to clear the ball sliding to put it out of play, in doing so right foot makes contact with goal post. Ball is now between the legs of defender and now the goal has moved off the end line(by the defenders foot) one and a half feet ball still in play. Attacker has closed in on situation now obstructing my view of the ball. I look across the field of play to AR2 as the flag goes up. Whistle is blown to stop play , no movement to signal goal by AR2, but the ball is now in the back of the net. Defender is injured during the play, I beckon for the trainer and walk over to AR2 for more information. AR2 informs me that the ball went over the end line then into the goal now well off the end line.

I walk away with information gathered as injured player is being attended to I inform the other players that we will restart with a corner kick. As the defender was last player to touch the ball as it went over the end line.

I caught a little grief for this decision but this was what was going through my mind (HOCKEY, when the net is dislodged, face off) so either
A: The goal was no longer on end line thus not a regulation field of play, dead ball which would mean drop ball at the top of the 6 and play from there?
OR
B: Which what was my decision, since I could not see the ball due to my obstruction and with the information I had that the defender was the last player to have possession as they cross over the end line so corner kick?

Did I make the right decision? I may see this coach again in the near future and would like to give an explanation of what I should have done. HE respected my decision then but felt he should have been awarded the goal.

USSF answer (November 3, 2005):
If the referee is unable to confirm exactly where the ball left the field and who played it out, the correct restart would be a dropped ball at the place on the goal area line parallel to the goal line that is nearest to the last confirmed “sighting” of the ball.

As to the movement of the goal, the fact that it moved suggests that the referee and assistants did not perform their pregame duties very well. They should have had the goals anchored down by the people responsible for the field.


EXCHANGING POSITIONS WITH THE GOALKEEPER IS _NOT_ A SUBSTITUTION
Your question:
This situation took place at a game that I was watching. Team A was just awarded a PK. Team B had a rather small Goalkeeper, and before the kick was taken, wanted to switch keepers. This was permitted by the referee. This caused a large amount of yelling from the fans of Team A. Is this legal under the Laws of the Game to switch the goalies?

USSF answer (November 3, 2005):
Let’s start by saying that “fans” usually don’t know much about the Laws of the Game, but they sure know what is “right” for their team. Yes, this is permitted. It is not a substitution, but simply an exchange of positions between two players on the field. It requires only that the referee be NOTIFIED, not that he or she gives permission.

The “fans” may have been upset because the rules of some youth competitions limit the opportunities for substitution, and “fans” and even some referees seem to regard this as a substitution, despite the fact that it is clearly described in Law 3 as NOT a substitution, but an exchange of positions.


COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN REFEREE AND AR; FEINTING AT A PK
Your question:
Question one: In a U10G match, (I was CR) my AR raised his flag while an attacking team member and defender were fighting for the ball in the defenders penalty box. When I stopped play for the raised flag, he indicated, before I had a chance to get over and talk to him, by moving his elbow, that the defender had fouled the attacker. While I did not see the foul myself, I felt I had little choice but to proceed to the penalty kick since “everyone” saw him make the “elbow” indication, and giving him the benefit of the doubt, he was in a good location to notice an elbow foul. So, I ruled a foul and proceeded to a penalty kick. My first question is: Do you think I handled that appropriately or, could I still have gone over to him and talked with him and possibly overridden his call since the ensuing penalty kick would almost certainly have decided the game and in my opinion, the foul was not a hard foul?

Question two: During the ensuing penalty kick, the kicker, started her run then stopped (paused), then completed it and scored the goal. The goalie stood still and did not seemed to be “faked out” by the start and stop of her run. Also, I did not feel the kicker started and stopped her run for the purpose of faking out the goalie. I felt she stopped her run because of her youth and inexperience and just “miss-stepped” when she began her run. Of course, the coach from the defending team was very upset that I allowed the ensuring goal from the penalty kick, which did end up being the game winner. My second question is: Does the referee have the responsibility/authority to judge the intent of the player when the player starts, then stops his/her run on a penalty kick? Or, is it simply a matter of if the player starts and then stops his/her run, the penalty kick is not allowed? If the answer is the latter, how would I restart play?

USSF answer (November 3, 2005):
1) You should have reminded the AR of the correct signal for a direct free kick foul committed in the penalty area by a member of the defending team, as described in the USSF Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials, p. 37:
QUOTE
Assistant Referee
– Determines that the direct free kick foul by a defender inside the penalty area was not seen by the referee and that, per the pregame conference, the referee would likely have stopped play for the foul if it had been seen
– Signals with a flag straight up
– Upon making eye contact with the referee, gives the flag a slight wave
– If referee stops game, assistant referee begins walking toward the corner flag
– Takes the appropriate position either for the penalty kick if confirmed by the referee or for the next phase of play if the referee orders a different restart
END OF QUOTE

In other words, if it was a foul that you could see, the AR should have kept the flag down in the first place. In addition, all input from an AR is subject to the decision of the referee.  The first moment of decision is whether to stop play upon seeing a flag from the AR.  The second moment of decision, if play is stopped, is determining the proper restart based on an evaluation of the offense.  Once the first decision to stop play is made, the only recourse if the input from the AR is not accepted at all is to announce that the stoppage was in error and then to restart with a dropped ball.

We do not decide to call or not to call a penalty kick because a possible resulting goal could “decide the game.” That is specious reasoning and the coward’s way out of resolving game situations. We call penalty kicks because they were direct free kick fouls, committed in the penalty area by a member of the defending team.

2) 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, 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.

NO COACH INPUT ALLOWED!!!!
Your question:
I was an AR at a recent youth game, partly through the first period, players complained about a player having metal cleats. The cleats were inspected and it was difficult to tell whether they were metal or a plastic composite. The referee asked the opposing coach if he found the cleats acceptable. The coach said they were metal and the boy was ejected.

My understanding is there is no provision on the shape or type of cleats. However, if they appear dangerous, then they need to be removed. The cleats were adidas and I notice they sell many shoes with metal cleats. I am assuming that they are not banned from competition or how would they be sold.

USSF answer (October 25, 2005):
Let it be sounded from the rooftops: There is no ban on metal cleats!! There is only a ban on dangerous equipment of any sort worn by players. Unless these particular cleats had sharp and dangerous edges, they should have been allowed. Metal cleats are no more dangerous per se than plastic cleats.

However, we should also note that many leagues and associations have special local rule exceptions on the matter of player equipment and flatly forbid the use of metal cleats (or any screw-type cleat) in their matches. When in doubt, read the rules of the competition before you take a game in that league or tournament.

Also let it be sounded from the rooftops, even more loudly: COACHES SHOULD HAVE NO INPUT IN REFEREE DECISIONS!! Referees make their own decisions or they consider turning in their whistle and badge.


PUTTING THE BALL INTO PLAY
Your question:
At a recent game where I was an assistant referee, I signaled a corner kick. A player came to take the corner, placed the ball in the corner arch with her hands, and then she tapped the ball with her foot, and said to her team mate “take it” and she then proceeded toward the opponent’s goal. The team mate came up to the corner arc and started to dribble the ball up field in preparation for a cross.

Since first player had not kicked the ball, only tapped it, and the ball had really not moved, I did not consider it being in play, and therefore I flagged for indirect free kick to the defending side because the team mate had touched the ball twice.

The coach argued that the tap is in fact a kick and the ball is in play at that point. The referee allowed the corner kick to be retaken.

Is the above sequence valid or is there in fact an infringement?

USSF answer (October 25, 2005):
The tap of the ball is fine, as long as there is some detectable movement.


ONLY ONE REFEREE TO A MATCH, PLEASE
Your question:
As the R&D Director for a very large boys league, I get some strange twists and turns of league and USSF rules. Our league has obviously adopted a policy coincident with that of USSF Policy 531-8, Sect 2: Unregistered Referee in Emergency. We encourage teams to agree on the use of a substitute official for matches in which a referee was not assigned or no-shows. We require that they indicate this agreement to appoint the volunteer official on our written match record card.

Recently, an incident was caused when two teams decided, at half time, to substitute the volunteer official with an affiliate of the other team for the second half of the match. Unfortunately, a string of contentious calls resulted in a termination of the match prior to full time.

The teams contend that there is not rule in the league manual, nor in USSF policy specifically prohibiting teams from “splitting” the volunteer referee duties. I contend that the wording of 531-8 requires the use of a single emergency official, unless he is unable to continue – i.e for medical or similar reasons.

Am I missing something – is there another USSF or FIFA directive which deals with this, or is it simply a matter of Law 18?

USSF answer (October 20, 2005):
An answer for you that cannot be disputed, as it comes straight from the Laws of the Game. The opening sentence of Law 5, The Referee, states: “Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed.” Not two referees and not a rotating list of referees. Just _a_ referee for the match. There is your reinforcement for Policy 531-8.

We might also add that changes are allowed for injury, sickness or an unforeseen emergency, such as something of a dire nature happening to a member of a referee’s family and the referee had to get to the hospital right away–the kind of thing would be understood by all.


ADMIT YOUR MISTAKES; DON’T INVENT “INFRINGEMENTS”
Your question:
Is it permissible for a referee to upgrade a card from yellow to red after play has been restarted?

Boys Under-16 state-level match. Referee whistles for a foul on the far side of the pitch. All the spectators, including the trail AR, on the near side see the offending player kick (possibly kick at) the fouled player while the latter is still on the ground. Before restarting play after a delay of a minute, Referee shows a yellow. We are astounded that the offending player is not sent off.

A couple minutes later, Referee whistles for a foul closer to the AR on our side. AR confers with Referee, presumably sharing information on the earlier foul. Referee pauses match to confer with each coach, apparently acknowledging his error. Play continues.

Referee determines that offending player commits another cautionable offense. Referee shows second yellow, then red. From spectator’s point of view, second yellow card appears to be compensation for earlier error. Match proceeds without incident.

Rather than waiting for the offending player to commit a second cautionable offense, could the Referee have changed the card from yellow to red after hearing more about the original foul from the trail AR? What effort should the trail AR have made to provide information to the Referee on the apparent violent conduct? (Assume that the pregame did not cover this circumstance.)

USSF answer (October 20, 2005):
A referee can neither rescind nor initially issue a caution/yellow card or send-off/red card once play has restarted. Nor may a referee “upgrade” a disciplinary punishment already given. The referee must submit a full report to the competition authority, whose task it is to sort out the problem.

Of more concern is the suggestion that the referee, in order to make up for his error, “found” a cautionable offense so that the player could be sent off. This is foolish and should be discouraged. Referees should have the courage to say “I made a mistake” and get on with the game, without also appearing to give a “make-up” call. We are already accused of this sort of thing too often. This situation also points out the necessity of a conference within the officiating team (including ARs seeking to advise the referee if they have relevant information) before play is restarted.


WHEN TO KEEP THE FLAG UP
Your question:
Offside situation, attacker A1 clearly in an offside position and involved in play. The AR held his flag for about 10 seconds to signal offside, but the referee never saw it and awarded a PK to the attacking team. When he finally noticed the AR’s flag, the referee waved it down and went ahead with the penalty kick. The goal was scored. A big discussion ensued after the game, with referees coming down on all sides of the matter. When should the AR lower his flag and get on with the rest of the game, and when should he keep it up?

USSF answer (October 18, 2005):
The flag stays up in THREE situations:
1. Offside . . . if the attacking team still in possession
2. Ball out of bounds and comes back on the field
3. Violent conduct that the referee did not see.


“GOALKEEPERS” IN U6 AND U8 SMALL-SIDED GAMES
Your question:
I have a son who plays in a U6 soccer league. There is some confusion on defining “goalkeeper” in terms of having a player “posted” in front of the goal or not. When I asked about this, I was informed that the player is not considered a goalkeeper unless he/she has on a different colored jersey and is using his/her hands to defend the goal. Understanding that the goal in U6 is 6′ X 8′ or smaller, is a player that is “posted” in front of the goal, for the soLE purpose of blocking a goal shot by the opposing team, considered to be a goal keeper regardless of whether they use their hands or have on a different colored jersey? This rule of “No goal keepers” has become an issue in our league, due to the fact that some coaches are using their biggest players to stand in front of the opponents goal and block or kick away a shot on the goal.

USSF answer (October 17, 2005):
Under the Laws of the Game as modified by U. S. Youth Soccer (USYS) for small-sided games for children aged U6-U8, there are no goalkeepers. The goalkeeper wears a different-colored jersey and is allowed to handle the ball, which these players would not be allowed to do. Here is the guidance provided by USYS for Law 3:
(U6) “Law 3–The Number of Players: there are no goalkeepers in the U6 age group so that all of the players may chase the ball around the field. The kids want to be where the action is and at this age it is around the ball. This will provide the opportunity for the children to further develop their running, jumping and kicking coordination. These are valuable traits for all soccer players to develop. The smaller number of players takes into account the egocentrism of this age group and therefore allows each child more opportunities for kicking and dribbling the ball. With fewer players on the field each child has an increased number of contacts with the ball and has more actual playing time. Additionally the players will be required to make more decisions and experience repeating game situations frequently. The work rate and involvement of players will be more consistent. While learning both offense and defense, players will become well rounded and will understand more readily the roles and importance of teammates.”

It would appear that some coaches in your league have found a way to set up a better defensive posture for their teams. What these coaches are doing is within the letter of the rules you play under. Coaches can be very clever, and whatever rule changes you may be tempted to make, many will find a way around them. That is life.


WHERE TO FIND YOUTH RULES
Your question:
U14 Laws of the game — Can you help us find these on line?

USSF answer (October 14, 2005):
According to U. S. Youth Soccer, all teams U13 and older should play according to the Laws of the Game, the same rules the adults play by.

Follow this URL:
http://usyouthsoccer.org/index.php?s=&url_channel_id=-1&url_subchannel_id=&url_article_id=1217&change_well_id=2

NOTE: Please remember that some competitions (leagues, cups or tournaments) do not follow the directions of U. S. Youth Soccer and make their own rules. Always check with the competition to see what their rules are.


CHARGING FAIRLY–OR NOT?
Your question:
You have addressed several times in this forum the topic of fair charging. Most coaches and parents do understand that when two players are running side by side sometimes the stronger player can nudge the weaker player off of the ball using applied force from shoulder. Usually minimal force is only required. Sometimes a player can land awkwardly and be injured. You have addressed this quite well in your forum. However, The gist of the questions and complaints from parents and coaches mainly occur during the following type scenarios. I am limiting this to U-13 and above and adult referees. Let’s also set the parameters of both players being relatively the same size and having similar skills.

1. An attacker has gone by the defender with the ball and goes to the outside creating space. The defender then turns and runs at full speed at an angle and plows the shoulder into the attacker driving them not only off the ball, but sailing through the air. They were shoulder to shoulder only at the exact moment of impact. It is similar to a corner back in the NFL driving a receiver out of bounds with a shoulder. The ball is never touched by the defender until after knocking the player to the ground.
When the parents and coaches yell foul or excessive force the referee explains that the angle of attack does not matter. Nor that they were not running together. As long as for the split second that the contact occurs if it is in the shoulder it is legal.
In the scenario above are the referees interpreting the rules correctly? Does shoulder to shoulder mean only for one nanosecond? Is this a fair charge?

2.The other scenario is where a defender runs perpendicular to an attacker and plows over them. More of a chest to shoulder attack. Once again the ball is never played by the defender until the attacker is driven to the ground. When questioned the referee states that they were making a play on the ball. In other words you can plow over a player to get to the ball. Is this correct? Even if you touch the ball before running over the attacker is this a legal play?

What is perplexing to coaches parents is that when you watch MLS, Premiership, College or High school soccer you see these type of fouls called more often when it isn’t a true running shoulder to shoulder. Usually for much less contact than you see in an average children’s game.

If it were just 1 or 2 times this occurs it would be one thing. But repetitively game after game after game you see these situations over and over. Sometimes 4,5 or 6 different players carried off during a game.

Most injuries in youth soccer occur on these types of plays. Broken collar bones, separated shoulders, broken wrists, concussions etc.

One of the great ironies is you can watch higher level soccer and see anywhere from 15 to 30 fouls a game. Most if not all would never be called in youth soccer. But at the youth level where we should be striving to teach them to play safe and clean soccer you are lucky to see 2 or 3 fouls a game. I have witnessed many games where players are being knocked all over, carried off the field and not one foul called.Then the players get more physical to protect themselves.Then bodies are flying and things get out of hand. Players and parents get discouraged and pull their child from the sport. The most common comment is “They are trying to turn this sport into Football without the pads.”

What is your opinion on the charging scenarios?

USSF answer (October 13, 2005):
A player who uses proper form in charging an opponent shoulder to shoulder may still be punished for doing it incorrectly, viz., for applying excessive force. This is true at all levels of play.


OFFSIDE
Your question:
Attacker A is in an offside position inside the goal area. The ball is played by Attacker B who is located around the 18. The goal keeper receives the ball and bats it down to the ground in front of him (Attacker A located behind him and to his right). Attacker A, though still in an offside position has not interfered with the keeper or other defenders. Defender A receives the ball when the keeper plays it to the ground, and kicks the ball back toward Attacker A who receives the ball and scores.

I did not call offside because Attacker A was never in the play and received the ball from a defender. Was I correct?

USSF answer (October 13, 2005):
If it is entirely clear that Defender A had established possession of the ball, then there is no offside in this situation. However, if Defender A simply kicked at the ball (without establishing possession) to clear it out of the way of the attacking team, then Attacker A should be declared offside.


PITCH??
Your question:
I was reffing an U8 girls game and one of the parents came up to me after the game and asked why a soccer field is called a “pitch.” I have asked around my association and nobody seems to have an answer. Can you help?

USSF answer (October 13, 2005):
The term “pitch” comes from an old English word meaning a place where outdoor activities are done. It is used also in describing a cricket field, where the wickets are “pitched,” or setting up a camp, as in “pitching” a tent or an entire encampment.


OFFSIDE AGAIN
Your question:
I was an AR during a match and the following situation ocurred. Player (#1), in an offside position, recognized he was offside and remained stationery; hence I did not judge him to be involved in play. The ball proceeded over his head and was controlled by a defender (#2). As soon as the defender controlled the ball, player #1 applied pressure. At that moment, I judged player #1 to be offside as he was involved in play and was seeking to gain an advantage from his offside position. Was that correct? If I was correct, at what time during play can player #1 become involved in active play w/o incurring an Offside penalty?

USSF answer (October 10, 2005):
If #2 had established full and clear possession of the ball, then the player who was in the offside position (#1) was absolved of his sins and could challenge for the ball.

Put in longer, but perhaps clearer form, the attacker in an offside position must refrain from becoming involved in active play from the moment his teammate touches or plays the ball until a defender plays the ball (gains clear possession and control) or the ball is touched/played once more by another attacker or the ball leaves the field in favor of the defenders.


RESTART AFTER STOPPAGE FOR INJURY
Your question:
A heated debate arose recently among several local referees over how to deal with an injury when the ref stops play while the goalkeeper has possession of the ball. There were several points argued:
1) Stop play while the keeper still has possession and restart with a dropped ball with only the keeper participating, advising the keeper that the ball may be picked up after it touches the ground. This restores the game to the same state as when play was stopped.
2) Allow the keeper to punt (or throw) the ball back into play and immediately stop play for the injury. The restart would be a dropped ball, presumably at a considerable distance from either goal. This would allow both teams to participate in the dropped ball restart as is usually the case.
3) Delay stoppage until the possessing team has time to kick the ball out of play and restart with a throw-in (or goal kick), assuming that the ball will then be played back to the defending team as a “fair play” gesture. This assumes also that the attacking team will play the ball out quickly to allow treatment of the injured player.
4) In situation 1) above, some argued that both teams should participate in the dropped ball, although most felt this was not in the spirit of the game. There was some confusion as to whether both teams had a right to participate equally in EVERY dropped ball.

The discussion related to youth, recreational play, i.e. U-14 and lower, but I would be interested in whether a universal rule should be applied regardless of the level of play.

What is your advice?

USSF answer (October 10, 2005):
In accordance with Law 5, the referee should stop play for injury ONLY when, in the opinion of the referee, the injury is SERIOUS. If the injury is indeed serious, the referee does not have time to wait for all these options to run their course. If the injury is not serious, any of options 1, 2, or 3 could be used.

These two excerpts from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” should be of help in your discussion:
QUOTE
5.9 INJURIES
When the referee has stopped play due solely to the occurrence of a serious injury, the referee must ensure that the injured player is removed from the field of play (the refusal to do so could be considered a cautionable offense for delaying the restart of play). If play is stopped for any other reason, an injured player cannot be required to leave the field but may be permitted to do so by the referee. The determination of what constitutes a “serious injury” should take into account the age of the player.” Only the referee may permit the return to the field of play of a player who was permitted to leave the field for treatment of an injury. This is not a substitution. The player who left the field for treatment of an injury may return during play with the permission of the referee, but only from the touch line. If the ball is out of play, the player may return with the permission of the referee across any boundary line.

Referees should avoid remaining in the area of the injured player once they have made their determination to stop play or to prevent play from immediately restarting while the injured player is being attended to on the field.

8.5 DROPPED BALL
There is no requirement that players from both teams‹or that any player‹must take part at a dropped ball.//REST DELETED//
END OF QUOTE

In all cases of dropped ball, the referee should take care that the Spirit of the Game is served.


DON’T LECTURE AND DON’T INVENT LAWS!!
Your question:
In his pregame instructions, the Referee told both Teams A & B that all direct and indirect kicks would start on his whistle.

During the final 2 minutes of the match, the goalkeeper of team A had the ball at his feet for a period of 6 seconds. He then picked up the ball and punted it away. The Referee decided that time that the keeper had the ball on the ground at his feet coupled with the 2-3 seconds that he held the ball prior to the punt constituted a violation of the 6 seconds that the goalkeeper was allowed to possess the ball. The Referee stopped play and awarded an indirect free kick to team B eight yards from team A’s goal. While the Referee was explaining his decision to the Goalkeeper a player from team B took the ball out of the Referee’s hands and placing the ball on the ground gave a quick touch to a team mate who then kicked the ball into the goal.

The Referee subsequently allowed the goal giving Team B a tie. Is there any recourse against the referee’s behavior?

USSF answer (October 10, 2005):
We instruct referees not to lecture players on how they will conduct the game and what they want of players. Having made the original pronouncement–an act referees should avoid–the referee is honor bound to follow through. The referee who does not do this loses all credibility with the players and thus stands to lose total control of the game.

The goalkeeper has six seconds to distribute the ball after establishing possession, and possession does not include having the ball at his or her feet. If all is as you describe it, there should have been no call against the goalkeeper.

Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done about a referee’s judgment. It is tough to exact recourse for terminal stupidity. Perhaps natural selection (or intelligent design) will win out in the end. On the other hand, the referee DID “set aside a Law of the Game” in defining “possession” incorrectly and then making the additional mistake of stating the mistake publicly! Team A in this game might have a basis for protesting the call, as this goes way beyond a mere judgment call.


THE LINES ARE PART OF THE AREAS THEY BOUND
Your question:
1) As the laws of the game state that the lines are part of the area they bound. 2) A ball must wholly cross a line before it is out of play (out of an area bounded by said lines). Please address the following described situations.

A player, in the run of play slides into the area bounded by the goal net, completely out of the penalty area.  A ball is rolling toward the goal line. The player puts up his hand, vertically, stopping the ball from wholly crossing the goal line, his hand only contacts that part of the ball that is overhanging the line, outside the penalty area, and inside the area bounded by the goal net.

A goal keeper, in the run of play slides out of the penalty area, still on the field of play. A ball is on the penalty area line, he places his hand on the portion of the ball that is outside of the penalty area, keeps continuous contact with the ball, picks up the ball without ever allowing the ball to wholly cross the line out of the penalty area.

My contention is that the uniform interpretation of TLOG dictates that in both cases, only the location of the ball can establish the status of “in” or “out” of the penalty area.

Situation 1, DGH, Red Card to the player, restart penalty kick, player is interpreted to be on the FOP at the point of contact and is punished as a player not an outside agent.

Situation 2, no infraction the GK is interpreted to be in the PA at the point of contact and play is allowed to continue.

Have I correctly interpreted TLOG? IF not please point out where I am in error and the reasoning for why I am in error.

USSF answer (October 6, 2005):
Situation 1. Even though the hand is outside the line, the ball is still in play and the player on the ground, whom we assume from your suggested answer is a member of the defending team, has denied the opposing team a goal by deliberately handling the ball. Send the player off and show the red card and restart with a penalty kick. If the player who stopped the ball is a member of the attacking team, that player has deliberately handled the ball; stop play and restart with a direct free kick for the defending team, to be taken in accordance with the special circumstances outlined in Law 8.

Situation 2. The goalkeeper has kept the ball within the penalty area and cannot be penalized.

NOTE: Any earlier answers that may contradict this answer should be disregarded.


MISCONDUCT FOLLOWING THE GAME
Your question:
How should a referee handle misconduct after the end of a match? What is the extent of the referee’s authority in such cases?

The particular incident of interest involved a player reacting to an opponent’s foul language and harrassment with a string of expletives of their own, while following the opponent that was walking off the field after the end of the match.  The referee red carded the second player, but not the first — perhaps not having observed or heard any prior actions and language during or after the match by the first player. The carded player then continued to use abusive language with the referee.

USSF answer (October 3, 2005):
The referee is permitted to show red or yellow cards after the match has concluded, provided he or she has not left the field of play. If the player persists in the misconduct after the yellow card has been shown, the referee may show a second yellow card, followed by a red. All details must be included in the match report. If the player persists in the serious misconduct after the red card has been shown, the referee simply writes down the details, which must be included in the match report.


FALLING OVER THE TACKLER’S FOOT
Your question:
Sunday I as he middle referee for a nmen’s U-19 select game. I had two young ARs assisting me primarily due to a shortage of referees on Sunday or due to the lack of desire to do select locally.

Attacker A was dribbling through the left side of the penalty area. Defender B suddenly did a slide tackle from the side making contact with the ball and then made contact with Attacker A’s foot resulting with a hard face forward fall to the ground. The play was closer to the AR who made no call but from my view, Defender B may have gotten the ball but his slide was dangerous and did result in tripping the player A.

I awarded a PK to Attacker A and received protests from defender B and as irony would have it, Defender’s B parents who were on that side of the filed. I kept hearing “he got ball first” and they got a little ugly.

As I understand the rules, a slide tackle, striking the ball first, does not negate the responsibility not to trip or injury a player.

Did I make the right call? I noted that the AR did not make a call but I believe that was due to youth and inexperience and that I had a greater responsibility to make any calls in her area as I saw them.

USSF answer (October 3, 2005):
No, it is not a foul if a sliding tackle is successful and the player whose ball was tackled away then falls over the tackler’s foot.

It has to be in the opinion of the referee, but if the tackler accomplishes the objective of taking the ball, then it makes no difference if the player who was tackled then gets taken down. With a big “UNLESS”: if, in the referee’s opinion, the tackler has used excessive force (which you seem to suggest), then the tackler should be sent off for serious foul play. Or, if the tackler makes the tackle and then lifts either the tackling foot or the other foot and trips the opponent, that is a foul. Simply because a player falls over the foot of the tackler is not a dangerous thing. It’s one of the breaks of the game.


AR INSISTENCE AND TRIFLING OFFENSES
Your question:
In a men’s league game, after a goal kick late in the first half, my AR was waving his flag frantically and beckoning me over. I blew the whistle and stopped play, then went over to him. He told me the kicking team had taken their goal kicks from about a yard in front of the goal area the last three times. He said he had raised his flag before but I had not seen it. He wanted me to do something about it or he would not AR for me anymore.

I called for an indirect kick from one yard in front of the goal area. Fortunately no goal was scored. After the game I realized that an indirect kick was not the correct call. I know I should have seen the ARs flag the first time and I would have simply made them re-kick from the goal area.

What should I have done?

USSF answer (September 29, 2005):
After dismissing the assistant referee (and keeping full note of the details for your match report), you should have restarted with a dropped ball.

That said, we must submit that issue raised by the AR is a bogus one.  If the ball is placed where he said, it was indeed an infringement of Law 16–but in all likelihood it was trifling.  If it was not trifling, the AR could have shown some initiative and become involved in game management and reminded the kicking team where the ball should be placed, rather than simply waving the flag frantically.

The best way to respond to the AR would have been to say sweetly, “Well, you are absolutely right about where the ball should be placed and I will remind the team not to commit such a terrible mistake again, but I’m going to let it go this time. But, because you forced me to stop play with your flag waving, I must restart with a dropped ball.”

2005 Part 3

DO NOT DENY THE USE OF MEDICALERT BRACELETS!!
Your question:
I am the mother of an 8 year old boy who has been playing in our local soccer organization, now starting his 3rd year.

My son wears a medic alert bracelet for asthma and life threatening food allergy. Last Saturday (3rd game into our 3rd season) we were told by a referee that he could not play with the medic alert bracelet. He could either take it off or tape it down. I see in the NCAA rules and US Soccer rules that it is recommended to tape medic alert necklaces or bracelets to the body.

I have some concerns with this answer. One concern is general and one is specific to my situation.

General: when I spoke with the medic alert people about this they were aghast that a medic alert bracelet would be taped to a body. EMTs are taught to turn over the emblem immediately to ascertain medical conditions. Having to fumble with tape is not a good thing. Has the US Soccer organization run this option by the Medic Alert people????? Also, interestingly, FIFA rules specifically forbid the use of tape to tape jewelry down.

Specific: another of my son¹s conditions (not listed on the bracelet because it is not life-threatening) is chronic, severe eczema. We work very hard to keep my son¹s eczema under control. Applying tape to his skin for an hour of sweaty exercise would probably cause a rash that would take weeks to clear up; playing that way week after week would be a disaster, possibly leading to a staph infection of his skin.

Having surfed the web on this I find that some soccer organizations say that the medical emblems be inspected and tape applied to any portion that could be harmful. This I can see as a reasonable solution in the case of a bracelet.

The solution I am proposing, but haven¹t heard back yet from my local organization, is to have my son wear a tennis wrist band over the bracelet, with the words ³MEDIC ALERT² written on it in red letters.

Comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

USSF answer (September 29, 2005):
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 is 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).” If you would like to see them, we can send along the two memoranda.

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?


AVOID WORKING YOUR CHILD’S GAMES
Your question:
I am a coach for a girls U11 team and we have another team in our league who has the step-dad refereeing many of their matches. This is not a last minute deal either – he self-assigns himself to the matches. I am just wondering at what level does this become unethical? It is not as if there is a need – we have many wonderful youth referees in our league – however he is the referee coordinator – so he puts himself in those games many weeks out. We play for standings, so does this seem unfair to you? Or am I just being a big wuss?

USSF answer (September 29, 2005):
Your first move should be to contact the league and have the league direct all assignors that they are not to referee their own child’s (or step-child’s) game, and are not to assign any parents to referee their own children’s games, especially once the team is older than U8. If it continues, then other steps should be taken. You should file a complaint against the referee/assignor, 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 the state youth soccer association. The league may not realize this is going on, but surely they are paying the assignor and should have some say in the matter.


CORRECTING THE FAILURE TO SEND OFF A PLAYER
Your question:
a question on the LOTG ­ this came from an assignor relating to a youth game last weekend: Referee issues a second yellow card to same player in first half, but does not realize it is the same player and allows the player to remain in the game (apparently wrote the first number down incorrectly). Is approached at the half by the team manager of the opposing team who politely inquires why the player was not sent off ? In discussion with the ARs the referee now understands he has made an error, but believes he cannot fix it as the game has been restarted.

I was asked what the correct procedure should be. I could not find this written up in the ATR, Q & A etc., but believe the solution should be to have the player removed when the problem is identified; the team plays short for the remainder of the game; a detailed report sent to the League explaining exactly what occurred.

Would you concur with that ? Or does the match have to be abandoned ?

USSF answer (September 28, 2005):
This question was answered back on June 12, 2002. We repeat the pertinent portions of that answer here.

The referee may correct the error in not sending off the player following the second caution/yellow card, but may not change any events that have occurred since he committed that error. Š The referee will have to bear the responsibility for his or her own error and its subsequent effect on the game.

This emphasizes the need for the closest cooperation among the crew of officials. Such a situation could have been avoided if all officials were aware of who was cautioned. The referee must ensure that his or her method of isolating the guilty player and administering the caution/yellow card allows the rest of the officiating team to know what is going on.


COACH COACHING WHILE ON FIELD FOR INJURY
Your question:
In a GU11 club game, a player went down hard and the referee waved the coach on to the field to attend to the player. On the way out onto the field the coach gave tactical instructions to some of his team as he approached the injured player. The referee threatened the coach with a Yellow card. My take was that a) the coach can¹t be shown a card, b) I can¹t find a provision in the laws which prohibits this, c) since any players on the field can come to the touchline for water during a stoppage and they are free to talk to their coach, no advantage could exist for the team with the coach on the field.

Another referee argued that since the coach was on the field, it could be argued that he was not acting ³in a responsible manner² but was at a loss for what to do about it

USSF answer (September 28, 2005):
Unless the rules of the particular competition provide for it, no team official may be shown a card and certainly not cautioned. Under the Laws of the Game, only players and substitutes may be cautioned or sent off and shown the appropriate card by the referee. Coaches are simply expelled for irresponsible behavior.

When a team official is invited to enter the field to assess injury or treat it, that team official is expected to do only that and nothing more. However, unlike games played under high school rules, if a bit of coaching does happen, there is little that can be done about it under most scenarios. A referee should not contemplate charging a team official with irresponsible behavior under these circumstances unless that team official (and only that team official) is giving tactical instructions INSTEAD of taking care of the injury or if the instructions were unduly delaying the restart of play.  And, having made that decision, the referee should certainly talk with the team official first before taking any concrete action to punish the behavior.


VIOLENT CONDUCT IS VIOLENT CONDUCT
Your question:
During a recent U-17 boys match, a confrontation occurred between two players from opposing teams. One player dragged the other to the ground, at which point the player dragged to the ground sat on the other and raised a fist as if he was going to hit the other.

When this occurred, a player on the bench entered the field and inserted himself into the confrontation and began challenging players from the opposite team.

While entering the field without permission is a cautionable offense, the fact that the player entered from the bench area, a considerable distance from the confrontation, then actively inserted himself into the confrontation seems to warrant a send off.

This did not occur because according to the referee his actions did not fall under any of the offenses for a send off; however, in previous refereeing classes it has been discussed that entering the field to take part in a confrontation constitutes violent conduct, whether or not the player guilty of entering actually throws a punch, pushes, etc. Can you provide some clarification and point me to any Memoranda on this subject?

USSF answer (September 27, 2005):
The fact that the person who entered from the bench area “inserted himself into the confrontation and began challenging players” from the opposing team constitutes violent conduct in and of itself. There is no need for further action by this person. Referee decision: Send-off for violent conduct, show red card, restart in accordance with the reason for the stoppage, which we assume to be the foul and serious misconduct by the other two players, both of whom should also be sent off for violent conduct.

You may have been thinking about NF and NCAA rules, which specify entering the field to participate in a fight as a send-off offense (even if no blow was struck). The trick is always to distinguish between the abettor versus the peacemaker (particularly the peacemaker who believes force is the best defense!).


NUMBER OF PLAYERS
Your question:
1. In a U16G game yesterday, one team had only 11 players. The coach called players off the pitch periodically (sometimes a slight injury was apparent, other times it seemed for instruction, or a personal issue). That team then (obviously) only had 10 players o nthe pitch. The other coach felt that was wrong, and the team with only 11 should keep all 11 on the field unless there was an obvious injury.

One incident, especially, caused the coach ennough distress to yell at the CR that a caution was warranted on a player leaving the pitch ‘without permission’. That incident unfolded like this:
After a play in the corner, the coach calls his defender over to the center line (where he was standing). As they were talking (he off the field, she on the field), the ball rolled towards them. He said ‘come here’, indicating to come off the field, and she did. The ball rolled out where she stood, resulting in throw in for the other team. Rather sporting in my opinion.  At this point the other coach demanded a card for ‘leaving the field without permission’. I personally didn’t understand that, and neither did the CR.

What is the rationale behind that caution – leaving without permission – and when should it be applied?

If we were to apply that same rationale to all ‘cautions’ we’d be carding players for retreating 8 yards on a FK (rather than the 10), and other things that the intelligent referee would rarely consider.

2. While playing short (for one of the reasons mentioned above) when can the player return? The state governing body (CSYSA) has no provision in their modifications to LOTG, and I can’t find a clear definition documented somewhere ‘official’.

I’ve been taught that a player may ‘re-enter’ the game at a stoppage of play if approved by the referee, but does not have to wait for a substituion opportunity for his/her team.

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
Philosophy first, answers later: (a) We need to remember that it is the referee who manages the game, not the coach of either team. (b) There is nothing in the Laws of the Game that requires a team to have the maximum number of players on the field at all times. They must have the minimum number (usually seven) of players on the field, but not the maximum. However, there is that sticky bit about requiring the permission of the referee to enter or leave the field of play. (c) In addition, there is another problem here, in that coaches are expected to behave responsibly, including making brief comments and then retreating from the line and back to their “technical area,” wherever that may be in a youth game. (d) As to cautioning players for retreating only 8 yards instead of the statutory 10, that is a good idea. Why don’t more referees enforce this portion of the Laws? There would be less worry if players did withdraw immediately and not try to game the referee and the other team.

1. While the player did leave the field without the permission of the referee, a cautionable offense, the offense was certainly trifling in this case and was done by both player and coach in the spirit of the game. A warning to both coach and player in the first instance should be enough.

Please note: Players who have left the field “in the normal course of play” and who, therefore, do not need the permission of the referee to leave the field, do not need any permission to return (and may return at any time, including during the course of play).

2. Players who have left the field of play with the permission of the referee may reenter the game at any stoppage with the permission of the referee.


USING OFFENSIVE OR INSULTING OR ABUSIVE LANGUAGE AND/OR GESTURES IS A SEND-OFF OFFENSE, NOT A CAUTION!!!
Your question:
I had a ref in our league send me an interesting issue. He was reffing a U12 rec game and issued a yellow card for use of profanity. At half time, he referred to the Laws of the Game. After reading the description of one of the send-off offenses (uses offensive, or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures), he decided that the offense was worthy of a red card. He then went to the team and issued a red card to the player prior to the second half starting.

While my advice to him was that he should have left it as a yellow card and kept it in mind for the next time such a situation arose, I couldn’t find anything that said it was not allowed to “promote” a yellow card to a red card. My feeling is that it’s not allowed. Your thoughts?

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
A referee may not change a decision once the game has been restarted. However, if the referee, in reviewing the information later, decides that the earlier decision was too lenient, that should be included in the match report. The referee should include full details of the incident, in this case specific “offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures” used, in the report.

We can only wonder why a referee would want to caution, rather than send off a player for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures in the first place.


WE DO NOT JUDGE “INTENT” ON ANY PLAYS, WE JUDGE RESULTS
Your question:
This particular play came up at our meeting last night: GK for Team A has the ball at the top of the 18 and punts the ball. However, the ball promptly hits the back of the head of player A on team B who has aleady turned away in order to head upfield. The ball rebounds back toward the GKs net to a teammate of player A (on team B) who receives the ball while in the offisde position (judged at the moment of the rebound) and scores…why should that not be a good goal? Yeah, player B received an advantage off that unintended deflection, but was it really the intent of player A to play the ball there??? Yeah, it touched player A, but so what? Why not try and judge the intent of the play instead and rule it a good goal???

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
There is one very good reason for not judging intent on offside: We do not judge intent on any other infringement of the Laws. The only place we even come close is when judging “attempting” in three of the direct free kick fouls, kicking, striking, and tripping, and in those cases the Law specifically orders us to judge the attempt to be the same as the actual contact.

Instead of intent, we judge results. This works in both fouls and offside and is what the International Football Association Board has made clear that it wants done.


ONLY THE REFEREE MAY CAUTION OR SEND OFF A PLAYER
Your question:
I had a quick question. I was reffing a U12 Boysgame where the center referee wasn’t calling too many calls. He was, however, being consistant. At the end of the game the away team’s coach, after yelling the whole game, came and started yelling at the ref. He said the “f” word a few times while me and the other AR where standing next to the coach. The coach wanted to write comments on the game card so we waited. I then asked the referee why he hadn’t carded the coach since he already had warned the coach to stop. The ref said that I should do it if I felt I needed to. I said that I don’t think an AR can.

My question comes to, if some of the comments where directed towards the AR and the center ref wasn’t doing anything, can ARs card coaches, as long as the league allows coaches to be carded?

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
No, assistant referees are not allowed to caution or send off players or to expel coaches. However, they can and are encouraged to submit reports of all serious misconduct to the competition authority (league, cup, tournament, etc.) and to the state soccer association.

There is little wonder that the coach was using foul and abusive language against this referee, who seems to have no courage and little common sense. For the benefit of all the rest of us, please contact your assignor and/or local referee association regarding the apparent failure of the referee to handle dissent/abusive language directed at the team of officials (and for offering you wholly inappropriate advice).


TATTOOS AND “BELLY POUCHES”
Your question:
Don’t know if there is a U S Soccer position on tattoos for referees. Had a ref at a youth game wearing a short sleeve shirt. Both of his arms were completely tattooed. Would imagine from the viewpoint of a U 10 kid, it looked kind of strange. I thought that he should at least have worn a long sleeve shirt to look professional. Same ref wore a belly pouch to keep passes in.

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
Referees are expected to appear professional at all times. “Belly pouches” are not acceptable wear. There is no restriction on tattoos except personal taste.


THE BALL MUST BE STILL AT A GOAL KICK
Your question:
Here¹s one we can¹t find in our rule books. Does the ball have to be placed and stopped before the goal kick is taken, or can a player drop or roll the ball in the goal area as another player is running up to strike it?

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):

Law 8
Procedure
//snip//
* the ball is stationary on the center mark
//snip//
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward
//snip//

Law 13
Types of Free Kicks
//snip//
For both direct and indirect free kicks, the ball must be stationary when the kick is taken and the kicker does not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player.

Law 14
//snip//
Position of the Ball and the Players
The ball:
* is placed on the penalty mark

Law 16
Procedure
* the ball is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team
//snip//
[the inference here being that if the ball was at “any point” it was stationary, but you could probably argue that one either way]

Law 17
Procedure
* the ball is placed inside the corner arc at the nearest corner flagpost
[the inference here (as in Law 14) is that if the ball is “placed,” it is stationary]
//snip//
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves
//snip//

In all cases of a kick restart, the ball must be stationary before being kicked. It is not in play until it has been kicked and moves (forward in the case of kick-off and penalty kick).


WAIT UNTIL THE NEW PLAYER HAS REACHED A PLAYING POSITION
Your question:
Must a Center Referee wait to signal “goal kick” (and allow youth teams to substitute and keep the match flowing) or “corner” (and allow the teams to set up) until the AR completes his run, if the AR, for example, is 35 yards away from the end line when the 40 yard shot is taken? It is the Center’s call in any case.

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):
It is both tradition and common courtesy for the referee to wait until the substitute has reached his or her position for the restart. The same would certainly apply to waiting for the assistant referee–who is part of the officiating team


HIGH SCHOOL QUESTION 1
Your question:
Team A takes a weak rolling shot on goal against Team B keeper. Team B keeper picks up the ball with 16 seconds on game clock. Keeper punts ball from top of 18 at 12 seconds. Ref calls delay of game and stops the clock with 12 seconds left. Allows team A to set up on top of 18 for 25 seconds before blowing play live and they finally play the ball. Is this a correct time to stop the clock?

(I realize it was only 4 secs before the punt – but he called delay).

USSF answer (September 23, 2005):
We don’t have the authority to answer high school rules questions here.

If this were a game played under the Laws of the Game, the referee would have been totally wrong in two things: stopping play for time wasting by the goalkeeper, who still had at least two seconds to spare, and for adding time (as there is no clock stoppage under the LOTG).

As for stopping the clock, high school rules allow for it (assuming the time wasting itself were valid) ONLY if the goalkeeper were being cautioned for the alleged time wasting. The clock stops for, among other things, the giving of a card regardless of the reason. Without a caution, there was no reason under high school rules to stop the clock–at least not based on what was presented in the scenario.


HIGH SCHOOL QUESTION 2
Your question:
High school soccer—- Kid got a “soft” red card during a game. Team played down 1 player. Game went into overtime. Does the team continue to have to play down 1 during overtime?

USSF answer (September 23, 2005):
We don’t have the authority to answer high school questions here, as no games played under the aegis of the U. S. Soccer Federation play those rules. There no such thing as a “soft” red card in the Laws of the Game. A player is either sent off or not.

If we were able to answer the question, we might say that since there was no requirement under high school rules to “play down” after the soft red, there is no reason why this self-imposed limitation has to last any longer than the team wants. In short, no.


PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT
Your question:
What is the correction way to apply the call of Persistent Infringement? Is it two fouls by a player a short time apart or is it a series of fouls over a prolonged period? Does game control figure into the equation? I was doing a U12 game the other day and a player from Team A was very aggressive — on the border between fair play and fouling. He eventually committed an obvious foul and then a minute later committed another. I cautioned him for PI and his coach got all over me for it. I felt this player needed to be controlled before his play escalated into a more serious situation. Advice?

USSF answer (September 23, 2005):
Persistent infringement is a relative thing. A player may commit 3 or 4 fouls during a game and not be found guilty of persistent infringement. However, if that same player commits 2-3 fouls within a brief amount of time, that may well qualify. This would certainly apply to an aggressive player who commits two fouls within a minute’s time.

Players may also be found guilty of persistent if they participate with their teammates in a pattern of fouls against an opponent.

Here is what the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” has to say:
QUOTE
12.28.3 PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT
Persistent infringement occurs either when a player repeatedly commits fouls or infringements or participates in a pattern of fouls directed against the same opponent. Persistent infringement also occurs if a player repeatedly fouls multiple opponents. It 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. In most cases, the referee should warn the player that the pattern has been observed and, upon a subsequent violation, must then issue the caution. Where the referee sees a pattern of fouls directed against a single opponent, it is proper to warn the team that the pattern has been seen and then to caution the next player who continues the pattern, even if this specific player may not have previously committed a foul against this single opponent. If the pattern is quickly and blatantly established, then the warning should be omitted and the referee should take immediate action. In determining whether there is persistent infringement, all fouls are considered, including those to which advantage has been applied.

Examples of persistent infringement include a player who:

€ Violates Law 14 again, having previously been warned

€ Fails to start or restart play properly or promptly, having previously been warned

€ If playing as a goalkeeper, wastes time, having previously been warned or penalized for this behavior
END OF QUOTE

We would suggest that the system of warning the players that a pattern has been observed be followed. Also, please remember that the concept of a “team caution” does not exist under the Laws of the Game, so you could not caution (yellow card) and then send off (red card) one player for doing the same thing for which you had just cautioned one of his teammates.

The caution for persistent infringement, if rightly understood and used, is a powerful tool.  It says to the cautioned player, don’t foul again because you run the risk (if it happens soon enough) of it being considered a continuation of the same pattern that got you the caution in the first place and, being a second caution, will result in your being sent off.  In the case of the pattern directed against the star opponent, it says to EVERY player on the offending team that they, individually, had better not foul that opponent again because each individual player runs the risk of it being considered a continuation of the same pattern that got their teammate cautioned in the first place and they may well receive a caution for what they think is simply their first foul.

And a final word of advice: Referees should use common sense in applying any of the discretionary cautions. Do not make trouble for yourself by carding unnecessarily and just because you feel the player is acting incorrectly. Your decisions must be based in Law, not some gut feeling.


RESTART WHEN THERE ARE TOO MANY PLAYERS
Your question:
I have a little confusion on the correct restart if a goal is scored by a team that is determined to have too many players on the field, after the goal is scored but before the kick-off is taken. I’m interested in knowing what the correct restarts are, and if there are in fact different restarts, if you can suggest a simple way to remember them. Afterall, this situation does not occur often, but the impact on a game is significant.

After cautioning and removing the extra player, the “correct” restarts I’ve read in various sources, (Q&A, ATR, your website, etc.) range from . . .
1) Retake PK
2) Dropped Ball at top of Goal Area
3) Goal Kick

Option #1 at least appears inconsistent. If goal is scored directly from a PK, AND it’s determined there are too many players on the field prior to kick-off, AND the correct restart would be retake of PK; wouldn’t it follow that the correct restart would be retake of a FK, if a goal resulted directly from that FK?

Option #2 appears consistent IF a dropped ball restart is limited to situations where the goal was actually scored by the “extra” player, (ie extra player = outside agent). However, in most amatuer and youth matches with free substitutions (ie substitutes do not submit a substitute’s card to officials), it would often be difficult to identify the “extra” player. As a practical matter, one of the most recently substituted players essentially “becomes” the perpetrator. A little arbitrary in most real life cases.

Option #3 at least appears the most consistent and most practical to sell. Ball kicked over the goal line by attacking team, and since goal is dissallowed, simply restart with goal kick. (i.e. Same as if “goal” were scored directly from an IFK.)

Any guidance to what the correct restart is and under which situations, would be very helpful.

USSF answer (September 23, 2005):
First things first. Do not get too wrapped up in the Advice to Referees as a source–at least not this year. There were too many changes in interpretations both last year and this year (when last year’s changes were changed back or changed altogether). Once the Advice hits the street it is already obsolete and any changes in the Laws for the current year likely will not be there. The Advice is an excellent source for historical precedent and for continuing matters. When there are wholesale changes made in the Laws or in the Q&A (as in 2004 and 2005), much of what is in the Advice is affected. Always go with what is in the Laws and the Q&A, unless you hear otherwise from a reliable source. The only reliable source in the United States is the U. S. Soccer Federation.

Not sure where you are getting your information, but, as of July 1, 2005, there is only one correct restart for too many players on the field of play if play has been stopped for that reason. If a player or a substitute has entered the field without the referee’s permission and the referee stops play to caution that player, the correct restart is an indirect free kick, to be taken from the place where the ball was when play was stopped, keeping in mind the Special Circumstances under Law 8 for infringements within the goal area. (See Law 12, final bullet point under Indirect Free Kicks, and Law 3, Infringements/Sanctions.)


THE DELIBERATE PASS TO THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
In tonight’s game, a defender passed the ball to his goalkeeper. It was very clear that was his intent on the play. What made the play difficult was he took advantage of an attacker who was returning to an onside position. He defender banked the pass off the back of the attacker’s leg and the goal keeper then picked it up before the attacker could turn and make a play.

I allowed play to go on, over the protests of the opposing coach; my line of thinking was that the touch negated a the call on the pass to the keeper. I consulted the rules after the game and began to question whether the call I made was correct.

The facts of the play as I saw it were:
– The defender meant for the ball to go to the keeper
– the touch by the attacking player was completely unintentional
– the keeper picked up the ball

What should have the call been?
-Play on, no call
-IFK to the attacking team for intentionally handling a pass from a team mate

If the call is that the play was illegal, should the defender have been carded for trickery?

USSF answer (September 23, 2005):
As we have stated in the past, a touch by any other player of the ball deliberately kicked by a teammate to the goalkeeper removes any and all restrictions from the goalkeeper on handling the ball. It makes no difference if the ball was played afterwards either deliberately or inadvertently by any other player–who may be a teammate or an opponent.

While we are here, let’s straighten out a bit of terminology. The ball deliberately kicked to one’s own goalkeeper is not an illegal pass. The kicker has played according to the rules. The only “sinner,” if there has to be one, is the goalkeeper who then touches the ball with the hands.


RETAKE OF PENALTY KICK
Your question:
This past weekend in a U13 girls game a team was awarded a penalty kick for a hand bal. The call was correct. The referee set the ball at the spot, did not ask the goal keeper if she was set and blew the whistle. The kick was taken and missed badly. The lines man however called the goalkeeper for not having their heels on the line. The kick was retaken and was good. I have two questions: if a penalty kick is missed is it retaken even if the goalie is not set or moves? Isn¹t the ref supposed to ask the goalie if they are set? Thanks for the input.

USSF answer (September 19, 2005):
: Law 14 (The Penalty Kick) tells us that before the penalty kick is taken, the referee should ensure that all players are in the proper position:
QUOTE
Position of the Ball and the Players
The ball:
– is placed on the penalty mark
The player taking the penalty kick:
– is properly identified
The defending goalkeeper:
– remains on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked
The players other than the kicker are located:
– inside the field of play
– outside the penalty area
– behind the penalty mark
– at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the penalty mark
The Referee
– does not signal for a penalty kick to be taken until the players have taken up position in accordance with the Law
– decides when a penalty kick has been completed
END OF QUOTE
There is absolutely NO REQUIREMENT that the referee _ask_ the goalkeeper if she is ready. She should know that her position for the penalty kick is on the goal line–not in front and not in back. However, in the end, despite the original error in not checking player positions carefully, the referee’s decision was correct. Retake the kick.


CORNER FLAGS/GOAL KICKS
Your question:
I have two question for you. 1. A field is using corner flags that are similar to bike flags. These are the corner flags that have the flimsy pole and usually bend instead of stand straight up. These types of flags get in the way of the player taking the corner kick. Is it legal for a player to move the flag out of the way? Is it legal for the player to hold the flag while he takes the kick so that flag is not in his way?

2. A goal kick has been taken by the team that holds a one goal lead. It is played to a teammate that is in the penalty area with the intent that the player will first touch it outside the penalty area. When the kick is taken, the opponent closes the receiver fast enough that if the receiver waits until the ball clears the box the opponent will put the receiver in a very dangerous situation at the top of the penalty area. So, he touches the ball before it leaves the penalty area so that his team can retake the goal kick. Should that player receive a caution for delay of game or unsporting behavior?

USSF answer (September 19, 2005):
1. One of life’s little lessons is that when there is no recourse–as in this situation–we have to make do with what we have. No, the player may not move the flag out of the way. It is possible that it would be legal for the player to hold the flag while he takes the kick, as long as it is not removed from the place where it has been planted. And, depending on the actual nature of the flag posts, if they bend to such a degree that they routinely become lower than the mandatory five-foot height required by Law 1, they constitute a safety hazard for all players who are near them. The referee should not allow anything that is dangerous to the players to be part of the field.

2. If a player touches the ball before it has left the penalty area on a goal kick, the kick must be retaken. There would be no caution for any player, unless this particular ploy was repeated as part of an obvious ploy to waste time.


GAMESMANSHIP AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Your question:
In a recent game, Blue team had the second half kick off. Prior to the kick, I counted the players on the field and Blue had only ten on the field. As all the players on the field were ready and no one appeared to be coming from Blue’s bench, I blew the whistle and allowed play to begin. As Blue maintained possession and neared the penalty area, a Blue player left their bench and took a defender position in Blue’s half of the field. Shortly thereafter, Blue scored a goal.

Blue player should have been cautioned for entering the field of play without the referee’s permission. However, should play have been stopped in order to issue the card? (There was not a stoppage in play until the goal was scored.) Should the goal have been disallowed? Would the answer be different if Blue had 12 on the field and a player left the field without permission? Would the answer be different if the defending team had been shorthanded? Would the answer be different if the entering player was involved in the scoring play? Was I wrong to allow the kick off, knowing that Blue was shorthanded?

USSF answer (September 19, 2005):
Technically, the team was not shorthanded, as their “missing” player had simply neglected to enter the field prior to the beginning of the second half. Nevertheless the player required your permission to enter once the half had begun.

Your first mistake was a failure to be proactive by not asking why there were only ten players present for the kick-off. Referees should prevent or solve problems, not create them. Your second mistake was not acknowledging the player’s presence when you saw that he/she had entered the field, remarking that you would speak to him/her at the next stoppage–meaning that you would be issuing a caution for entering the field without your permission. There is no need to stop play to issue a caution in this situation; simply apply the advantage and deal with the matter at the next stoppage.. Again, we seek to prevent problems before they occur. Because you did not prevent the problem, you are stuck with it.

Nor is there any need to cancel the goal. Simply score the goal and restart with a kick-off. It might be a different story if the Blue player had contributed to the goal, but this was apparently not the case. But since the Blue player did not contribute to the goal, there is no real need to caution that player–why create unnecessary problems!

As to your further questions: (1) If the Blue team had 12 players on the field and 1 left before the goal, you would likely take no action–create no unnecessary problems! At worst, you might caution the player, but you would be unlikely to gain anything from this. (2) If the defending team had been shorthanded, you would likely take no action. What would it gain you? (3) if the entering player had been involved in the goal, the answer would be the same as for the original scenario. (4) This was already answered with an emphatic YES. It is not against the Laws for a team to start the half shorthanded, but the proactive referee will ensure that the team is aware of its mistake before anything else needs to be done.


MORE ON “KICKING” THE BALL
Your question:
The last line of section 13.6 of the new Advice to Referees reads:
“Stepping on top of the ball or merely tapping the ball with the foot does not constitute kicking.”

I’ve been told that this is a misprint, but other sources claim that it is correct and it is being implemented elsewhere. Could you please advise whether this is correct or a typographical error?

USSF answer (September 15, 2005):
In an answer dated August 31, 2005, we stated:
The information in Advice to Referees 13.6 is correct. The portion you cite was changed in the 2005 edition. It should be implemented throughout the United States.
QUOTE
13.6 BALL IN PLAY

The ball is in play (able to be played by an attacker other than the kicker or by an opponent) when it has been kicked and moved. The distance to be moved is minimal and the “kick” need only be a touch of the ball with the foot in a kicking motion. Simply tapping the top of the ball with the foot or stepping on the ball are not sufficient. The referee must judge carefully whether any particular kick of the ball and subsequent movement was indeed reasonably taken with the intention of putting the ball into play rather than with the intention merely to position the ball for the restart. Referees should not penalize a kicker unfairly by calling as a restart a touch and movement of the ball which, either at the time or based on the kicker’s immediately subsequent actions, was clearly not intended as such. Likewise, referees should not unfairly punish “failing to respect the required distance” when an opponent was clearly confused by a touch and movement of the ball which was not a restart.

Stepping on top of the ball or merely tapping the ball with the foot does not constitute kicking.
END OF QUOTE

What we are saying is that simply tapping the ball with the bottom of the foot or stepping on top of the ball does not constitute “kicking.” For there to be “kicking,” the player’s foot must move in a kicking motion. If this results in only a slight movement, one that could be considered as making the ball “move,” so be it. That is a kick.

While the kicking team is allowed to practice guile and attempt to fool their opponents, they must still observe the requirements of the Law and “kick” that ball.

To that answer we must add:
What may yet be unclear is what a “kicking motion” is. It would be the same motion as used in any normal free kick, not a dainty foot placed on top of the ball. It doesn’t have to be forceful, but it must look as if the player is kicking the ball, not resting his or her foot on top of it.


VIOLENT CONDUCT/DELIBERATE KICK TO THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
I have two separate questions.
1. GK and attacker come together as a result of both making a fair effort for the ball. While the GK is down he elbows the attacker who then knees the GK in the back. Both players are sent off as a result of their actions. My question is what is the proper restart procedure. I say a PK since the first foul was commited by the GK in the box, others have disagreed saying the attackers foul cancels out the other foul and an indireck kick is awarded to the GK’s team.

2. If a GK intentionally plays a ball played back to him by a team mate( foot pass). Where is the indireck FK taken from? The spot where the ball was played from or the spot where the GK picks it up? Thanks.

USSF answer (September 15, 2005):
1. After sending off both players for violent conduct (not serious foul play, as they were no longer competing for the ball), the referee should restart with a penalty kick for the attacker’s team.

2. The indirect free kick would be taken from the place where the goalkeeper handles the ball, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8 regarding the goal area.


GAMESMANSHIP AND USING TIME
Your question:
Delay of Game. I was the C on a local adult Mexican game. One of the teams began from the middle of the first half, after taking the lead, resorted to when they kicked the ball out, to blasting it out, far from the field of play. The spare game balls, sometimes were far from the goal as well..no ball holders etc.

I verbally warned the team..added time for half time,spoke to the captain of the team at half time.I told him I was aware of what was happening, and I would caution and or add on time if this continues in a excessive way. As the 2cnd half continued, and they maintained there lead, this began to begin again , and they started to take the time at the goal kicks. Three quarters of the way through, I warned one playe who was blasting the ball, kickin git out repeatedly..after twice doing this, I carded him.Yellow. I added on time at the end of the game.

Question…delays the restart of the game is not appropriate as it was a a live ball when the ball was repeatedly kickedout. Unsportsmanlike conduct Š appropriate Š yes in my opinion as he was warned Š it was excessive, and against the spirit of the game,

So advice on this situation would be appropriate.

What Yellow caution did I give him??? yes I made a error in calling it a delay of restart…I believe it can be under a yellow UC.

USSF answer (September 14, 2005):
Kicking the ball out of play is not an infringement of the Laws of the Game. The only provision under the Laws regarding that sort of time wasting is that the time lost shall be added to the period of play. Unfortunately, adding time for kicking the ball out of play may not be an available alternative in some tournament situations and, at other times, simply results in more time being available to kick the ball hard off the field.

Timewasting tactics at restarts are another matter. These acts can be dealt with through a caution for delaying the restart or for unsporting behavior, whichever is applicable.


THOSE NAUGHTY COACHES!
Your question:
This happened at a recent game: At the half, Coach A took his team away from the field to “discuss” their play in the first period. He was not happy with his team’s performance and started to berate them. During his tirade, he dropped the F-bomb several times. As an AR, I looked to the CR for direction and he said that the coach was only trying to motivate his team and that he would not intervene. I know that the coach was heard by spectators and the other team — even though he removed himself from the proximity of the field. I thought the coach needed to be approached and asked to control his language. How should this situation have been handled?

USSF answer (September 14, 2005):
The Laws of the Game require that the team officials behave responsibly. If they do not, they may be expelled from the field of play and its environs. Your act as assistant referee was a good one. The referee should approach the coach and ask that all language be kept within normal bounds and not cross the line into words that are offensive or insulting or abusive. If this does not work, then the referee should expel the coach for irresponsible behavior and include full details of the entire incident in the match report.

A further option for you is to indicate to the assignor your wish not to be part of that referee’s officiating team in the future.


GAMESMANSHIP AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Your question:
My state has changed their youth soccer rules to allow subs at any stoppage in play. This change, when coupled with unlimited subsitutions, has produced some issues for referees, especially when a sharp coach is trying to hold onto a lead in the final minutes of a game. For example, one team in the final minutes this past weekend had a sub ready at midfield to enter the game at every stoppage and then his team repeatedly kicked the ball out of bounds, obviously to waste time while the substitution process repeatedly took place. A few questions that have come up in discussions among referees:
1. One referee has stated that he will just ignore the requests for substitution, even if the player is ready to enter, if he feels it is for the purpose of wasting time. I say that he cannot due this since ATR specifically says: “Even if it seems that the purpose is to waste time, the referee cannot deny the request (for substitution)”. Am I correct that the referee can never refuse to allow a sub to enter if that sub is ready to enter before the stoppage and the request is properly made?
2. ATR also state the following: “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. One referee says that this means if Team A is trying for a quick restart (either a quick throw-in or a quick direct kick), then the sub should not be allowed in EVEN IF that sub is already waiting to enter at midfield before the stoppage takes place. Based on the item quoted in Question1 I do not believe this is correct. The question: Does a referee have the discretion to refuse to allow a sub to enter, if that sub is already waiting to enter before the stoppage occurs, if the other team is trying for a quick restart?
3. I know ATR states: “Even if it seems that the purpose is to waste time, the referee cannot deny the request, but should exercise the power granted in Law 7 to add time lost through “any other cause.” Does this mean, if the referee believes that the primary purpose of multiple substitutions is to waste time, that he can add the full time used for each substitution? Or can he only add time for the amount of time wasted if the substitution process is slower than ideal? (e.g. the sub delays entering or the player on the field is slow to exit, etc.)
4. In the final 10 minutes of another game, one coach had a sub always waiting at midfield, but, when the referee asked her to enter, he often said she was not ready. He would have the prospective sub wait at midfield until it looked like the other team might gain an advantage from a quick restart and then yell out for a “sub!”. My inclination would be to instruct her to get back to the bench unless she is ready to enter and to warn the coach not to send her to midfield until she is ready to enter. Then future violations might lead to a caution. However, the referee in this particular game allowed the coach to selectively decide when to have the waiting sub enter the game. Your comments?

This rule change has stirred up a lot of discussion and inconsistencies so your answers to the `four questions above would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

USSF answer (September 14, 2005):
Let several things be clear from the beginning: (1) Your state is to be congratulated for making its rules of substitution conform–at least in part–to the Laws of the Game. (2) Team officials and players will always try to manipulate the rules. (3) The referee must be extremely careful in games whose rules of competition allow multiple substitutions and players/substitutes constantly running in and out of the game. Referees would not have any of the problems described in your questions if the requirements of Law 3 were followed. (4) Referees must exercise common sense in managing such situations.

Directly to your questions:
1. The referee can and may not ignore requests for substitutions. As you pointed out, the Advice tells us “that the referee can[not] deny permission for any reason other than to ensure that the substitution conforms to the Law. Even if it seems that the purpose is to waste time, the referee cannot deny the request, but should exercise the power granted in Law 7 to add time lost through ‘any other cause.'”
2. If the substitute has reported correctly to the match official (fourth official or the assistant referee on that side of the field) before the stoppage, the referee, upon recognizing that fact, should allow the player to leave the field and the new player (substitute) to enter the field.  If the immediacy of the restart (which is the right of the team with the restart) naturally draws the referee’s attention away from any pending substitution requests, then the substitution will have to wait. A substitution, if properly requested, is a right not to be lightly denied. There are only two reasons to do it: Either the substitute is not ready or the team with the restart wants to restart immediately.
3. 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.
4. This is an excellent example of how team officials will try to work the system. We need to remember that technically it is the player who requests the substitution, not the coach or any other team official. Your inclination is correct: Send the player back to the bench and instruct both the player and the coach that the player will have to report in again when he is ready for her to enter. When the referee recognizes the subsequent substitution opportunity, then and only then may the player enter. The failure of the substitute to enter the game when the referee has given permission could be regarded as delaying the restart of play, a cautionable offense.


ALLOW NO INTERFERENCE WITH GOALKEEPER POSSESSION
Your question:
I am in my 5th year of refereeing and have been able to get loads of good information from your site. Thanks much for a superb job on clarifying potentially obtuse, or ambiguous situations that are brought up by fellow referees.

My question is this….
Can you confirm for me, if a defender is allowed, or if it’s legal for a defender, to play the ball when the goalkeeper has the ball in either hand, one-handed, with the palm facing up and the ball away from their body? I thought that I had seen a law change that made this legal but cannot seem to locate that text. I would really appreciate any clarification you could provide.

I am under the impression that for the goalkeeper to be considered to have possession, or control, of the ball they must hold it with either two hands or have it close to their body if holding it with one hand.

USSF answer (September 12, 2005):
No, no one is allowed to play the ball once the goalkeeper has established possession and while it is still in the ‘keeper’s hand in preparation for release to general play.

What you saw was from the International F. A. Board’s Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, commonly known as the FIFA Q&A. The 2004 edition allowed players to head the ball from the goalkeeper’s open hand, provided it was not done in a dangerous manner. That was changed in the 2005 edition and is no longer allowed.


OFFSIDE TRAP
Your question:
A standard defense in response to a dfk is to have the defense line up in a line and then, at the last moment, take a step up thereby putting many of their opponents in an offside position.  As such, when this occurs, AR¹s will proceed to signal offside. My question ­ in this situation, should no opponent, realizing that they were placed in an offside position, proceed to go after the ball (simply stand still or attempt to return to an onsides position) is it appropriate for the AR to still call offside?

USSF answer (September 9, 2005):
If a player in an offside position does not become actively involved in play when a teammate plays the ball, then no offside has occurred.

There is, of course, the opposite side of the equation: If the defenders step too far up, they may be encroaching on the kicking team’s free kick.


INFRINGEMENTS OF LAW 14
Your question:
With the changes to Law 14, is it now the case that an IFK is awarded to the defending team for encroachment by the attacking team, even when the ball goes out of play? That is, if the kick is missed wide or deflected by the GK, the restart is an IFK instead of a GK or CK.

This is causing some discussion in our area here. Clarification would be helpful.

USSF answer (September 7, 2005):
The correct restart in this case is indirect free kick for the opposing team.

A chart in the June 13, 2005, USSF position paper on penalty kicks may be of help. We have put it into normal form here for ease of posting:
Consequences of an Infringement of Law 14
We look first to see who infringed the Law. Then we consider what the outcome of the kick was, in other words, whether the ball entered the goal or did not enter the goal.

If an attacker (including the kicker) infringed the Law and the ball entered the goal, the penalty kick is retaken. If the ball did not enter the goal, the referee awards an indirect free kick (from the place where the infringement occurred). Please that this is the ONLY change in Law 14 this year.

If a defender (including the goalkeeper) infringed the Law and the ball entered the goal, the goal is awarded and the restart is a kick-off. If the ball did not enter the goal, the penalty kick is retaken.

If both an attacker and a defender infringed the Law, the penalty kick is retaken.


IMPORTANCE OF ENFORCING LAW 3
Your question:
This happened in a college game last week:
Throw in. Team A allowed to substitute. As player from Team A is leaving the field, referee turns and blows whistle for play to continue. Substituted Team A player suddenly falls to the ground with a cramp, some 10 yards from technical area, not making it to bench. Both AR and 4th ref see the situation but assume the player will leave the field soon. Play goes on and a teammate of Team A player kicks ball far downfield in attack mode. Injured player, still on the field on other side of halfline, is clearly in offside position but away from the action. Team B coach screams for offside call. Play continues as injured player crawls to her bench. AR does not raise flag and indicates with a small hand gesture that he recognizes the player is not a part of the action. She makes it to the bench and everything turned out OK. BUT…

The player is still a “player” until she reaches the tech area, right? Or is it a no harm no foul situation?

What if the ball touched the injured substituted player? Outside interference, offside, illegal substitution or what?

USSF answer (September 6, 2005):
We cannot speak with authority on NCAA rules here, so your question will be answered as if this had been a game played under the Laws of the Game. This is a situation that can cause problems, but is easily resolved through following the Laws of the Game and proper refereeing procedure. (As luck would have it, NCAA rules are the same in this case.)

Law 3 tells us that “from [the] moment [the substitute has been waved on by the referee and enters the field], the substitute becomes a player and the player he has replaced ceases to be a player.” Nevertheless, as a matter of good game management, the referee should never restart a game with a player leaving the field but not yet off. In fact, the intelligent referee should never allow any substitute to enter until the player who is leaving has completely left the field. That referee will recognize that this “extra” person, even though no longer a player, could present many problems, particularly in the area of misconduct.

As to the “offside,” it is a non-issue in the scenario you present. The now former player is treated as an outside agent and thus cannot be declared offside. If the ball hits that former player or the former player otherwise interferes with play or with an opponent, the correct restart is a dropped ball from the point of impact.


IT’S “OFFSIDE,” NOT “OFFSIDES”
Your question:
At what point is a player determined to be involved in the play for an off sides call? The scenario both teams are in team B¹s zone except team A goalie and 1 player from team B. The ball is cleared by team B and is going directly to the goalie, it is clear that the goalie will get the ball before the player from team B but it will be close, And this is actually what happened. Because at the time of receipt of the ball by the team A goalie the player from team B would be interfering with the play because of his proximity to the play but not before hand, should off sides be called? Team A goalie cleared the ball back in to team B area and no call was made. Was this correct?

USSF answer (September 1, 2005):
Given the circumstances you describe, IF the player from team B causes the goalkeeper from team A to move toward either him or the ball in order to gain possession, the player from team B has interfered with an opponent and must be declared offside. The restart will be an indirect free kick at the place where the player from team B was when his teammate played the ball. This is true even if the player from team B was just over the halfway line and did not near the goalkeeper of team A until he reached team A’s penalty area.

Referees need to remember that if it is going to be close–or even close to close–the offside must be called to prevent any collision between the two players no matter who gets to the ball first.

Strictly as a matter of information, the term used in soccer is “offside,” not “offsides.”


OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY
Your question:
The last line of section 13.6 of the new Advice to Referees reads:
“Stepping on top of the ball or merely tapping the ball with the foot does not consitute kicking.”

I’ve been told that this is a misprint, but other sources claim that it is correct and it is being implemented elsewhere.

Could you please advise whether this is correct or a typographical error?

USSF answer (August 31, 2005):
The information in Advice to Referees 13.6 is correct. The portion you cite was changed in the 2005 edition. It should be implemented throughout the United States.
QUOTE
13.6 BALL IN PLAY
The ball is in play (able to be played by an attacker other than the kicker or by an opponent) when it has been kicked and moved. The distance to be moved is minimal and the “kick” need only be a touch of the ball with the foot in a kicking motion. Simply tapping the top of the ball with the foot or stepping on the ball are not sufficient. The referee must judge carefully whether any particular kick of the ball and subsequent movement was indeed reasonably taken with the intention of putting the ball into play rather than with the intention merely to position the ball for the restart. Referees should not penalize a kicker unfairly by calling as a restart a touch and movement of the ball which, either at the time or based on the kicker’s immediately subsequent actions, was clearly not intended as such. Likewise, referees should not unfairly punish “failing to respect the required distance” when an opponent was clearly confused by a touch and movement of the ball which was not a restart.

Stepping on top of the ball or merely tapping the ball with the foot does not constitute kicking.
END OF QUOTE

What we are saying is that simply tapping the ball with the bottom of the foot or stepping on top of the ball does not constitute “kicking.” For there to be “kicking,” the player’s foot must move in a kicking motion. If this results in only a slight movement, one that could be considered as making the ball “move,” so be it. That is a kick.

While the kicking team is allowed to practice guile and attempt to fool their opponents, they must still observe the requirements of the Law and “kick” that ball.


OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY
Your question:
During a local Men’s league playoff game, I issued a sendoff to a player for the following situation:
The location was about 1 yard outside the corner of the goal area. The defensive player had just fallen to the ground on a sweet move by the offensive player. The offensive player was just about to cut the ball back or perhaps shoot from there. In my opinion, he was 1 or 2 touches from an uncontested shot on goal. He was not facing direct to the goal, and facing somewhat to the end line, more facing the near post and end line junction rather than direct to the goal. This was the only one of the 4D’s that may not have been met. The goalie was in the center of the goal on line because there was another unmarked, onside offensive player at the opposite corner of the goal area. The defensive player while on the ground deliberately punched the ball with his hand past the end line directly away from the offensive player. I called the PK and after discussion with the AR sent off the defensive player.

During the post games discussion and after review of the Advice to Referees LOTG at one of our esteemed local drinking establishments, the following issues arose:
1 The situation did not meet the 4Ds because the “presence of each of the elements must be ‘obvious'”.
2 One official and former player disagreed saying he could score from that position and location ‘all day’
3 It would seem there are other situations where the 4Ds are not met but still warrant a send off, within the spirit of the game. E.G., One could reasonably imagine a deliberate handle of the ball to deny a goal on a direct shot corner kick that does not meet all the ‘obvious’ 4D.

I don’t know if I would make the same judgement due to the ‘all elements must be obvious’ clause.

Your input please to my situation and situation to #3

USSF answer (August 29, 2005):
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.

We are not aware of any offenses that might occur under send-off reason number 5 (“denies an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player¹s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick”) that would not require that all of the 4 Ds be included.

However, in the final analysis, it is all in the opinion of the referee.


SIMULTANEOUS FOULS
Your question:
A player is standing in an offside position (just behind the second to the last defender). The instant the ball is is played forward, the player in the offside position steps to collect the pass and become actively involved in play, BUT can not become actively involved in play because the defender reaches out and holds the player’s jersey and prevents him from collecting the pass, and advancing the ball..

The question.. is this a simultaneous foul situation in which the more serious foul (the holding) would be enforced, OR is the player who is in an offside position and would normally have been penalized the moment he became actively involved attempting to play for the ball the foul that is enforced?

USSF answer (August 29, 2005):
The old maxim remains true: a player may not be rewarded for an infringement of the Laws. Punish the offside with an indirect free kick for the opposing team and caution the defender for blatant holding (unsporting behavior).

And no, this is is NOT an example of a simultaneous foul (if you are thinking of Law 5). That reference in Law 5 is to a situation in which the SAME PLAYER commits two offenses simultaneously (i. e, the same act constitutes two different infractions of the Law — e. g., the player who just did a throw-in rushing onto the field and directly handling the ball (second touch plus handling) or a player who dissents using abusive language (caution plus red card language).


AR OUT OF POSITION
Your question:
At a recent tournament game, I was on the line with an experienced referee and an inexperienced ar on the other line. A shot was taken from about 30 yards out. It hit the crossbar and rebounded downwards. The keeper caught it on the bounce. Everybody froze to see whether the referee was going to signal a goal. He waived off the goal and directed play to continue. The ball was played up to midfield, where a girl on the keeper’s team picked it up because she mistakenly believed that a goal had been scored. The referee called the handball, and set up for the kick. Then he went over to the inexperienced ar, and after a discussion, signaled that the previously disallowed goal would now be counted. The ar had not followed the shot down the line, and was a mile out of position to make the call as to whether the ball had crossed the line. It was clear to me from my location at midfield that the ball had rebounded forward off of the crossbar back into play, and that the entire ball had not crossed the line. The ar had not originally signaled a goal by running up the line. He was apparently subsequently talked into believing that a goal had been scored by the parents. First, after ordering play to continue all the way back to midfield, was it too late to “correct” the previous decision to play on? Second, what, if anything, could I do as the other, unconsulted member of the crew, certain that the original call was correct. Obviously, I cannot run out on the field uninvited to discuss it with the referee, and re-reversing the reversal would bring its own set of problems. Of course, the disputed goal was the margin of victory. Your thoughts?

USSF answer (August 23, 2005):
As play had not been restarted following the stoppage for the deliberate handling, the referee was certainly within his right to allow the goal. However, the evidence as you present it would suggest that at least three grievous errors were made: (1) The other assistant referee did not follow the ball to the goal line as is required in correct procedure. (2) The other assistant referee accepted the word of spectators (biased spectators at that) that a goal he or she cold not verify had been scored. (3) And, worst of all, the referee accepted this hearsay evidence and awarded the goal.

As you were at the other end of the field and clearly even more unable to verify the goal or lack thereof, there is nothing you could do in this situation. Any advice you offered would be worthless–though not as worthless as that offered by the other assistant referee.


RESTARTS AT PENALTY KICKS
Your question:
I as an instructor was administering the State Referee Exam at our annual clinic. The question on the exam talked about a player taking a penalty passing the ball backward to a teammate to then shoot on goal. The correct answer was to retake the penalty kick as the ball was not properly put into play as it is required to be kicked forward. One of the referees in the class said that the FIFA Q&A stated that the ball would be turned over to the defending team and that they would be given a IFK at the penalty mark. That information was then verified by reading it in the FIFA Q&A. Is the FIFA Q&A answer correct? All starts and restarts in the Laws of the game require the ball to be put into play correctly or to be retaken, not given to the other team. This answer in the Q&A would not be consistent with al the other restarts.

USSF answer (August 23, 2005):
The U. S. Soccer Federation is inquiring further into the intent and meaning of certain of the newest Q&As (of which this issue is one). Until USSF issues a memo clarifying the matter, referees are to continue applying the Law based on our current understanding.  The “current understanding” in this case is that the ball is not in play and therefore the correct restart is to have the PK taken properly.  In practical terms for instructors, this means that the given answer in the Key for this question on both the entry and state exams continues to be correct.


PENALTY KICKS
Your question:
I have a question on Law 14. Suppose the referee gives the signal for a PK to be taken and, before the ball is in play, the laws are infringed by someone on the kicking team (either the kicker or one of his teammates). The referee allows the kick to proceed, and the ball does not enter the goal directly. Instead, it goes out of bounds for one of the following reasons:
1. it is kicked directly over the goal line (NOT between the goalposts and under the crossbar) OR
2. it deflects off the goalkeeper and goes
a. over the goal line (but not in the goal),
b. over the goal line (and into the goal), or
c. over a touchline.

How does the referee restart play in these four situations?

USSF answer (August 23, 2005):
If the infringement was of Law 14, then the correct action by the referee is to award an indirect free kick to the defending team from the place where the infringement occurred.

However, if the violation was of some other Law, the referee should prevent the penalty kick from occurring (or cancel whatever the result was if momentum caused the kick to occur before the referee could signal), deal with the violation, and then order the PK taken.  For example, suppose the “infringement” fell under Law 12–A14 struck B29–misconduct (because the ball is not in play yet) — so we send off A14 and then order the penalty kick taken.


COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE!!!
Your question:
Team “A” scores a goal and the AR signals with her flag. Although the entire sideline is calling to the center referee to check the AR he lets play continue and team “B” takes the ball down field and scores with no stoppage of play. The AR continues to signal that team “A” had already scored and now the coach has gotten the attention of the center referee to speak with the AR. After a brief conversation the center referee admits that he has made a mistake but refuses to allow team “A’s” goal and does allow team “B’s” goal to stand. I understand that if there was a stoppage of play and then play continues without consultation that team “A’s” goal would not be counted. However, with no stoppage of play is that the correct call?

USSF answer (August 22, 2005):
Yes, this was the “correct” call, but certainly not the “right” call. Because the referee did not see the goal or watch for the assistant referee’s flag, and thus did not realize that the ball had gone out of play (into Team B’s goal), the goal for Team B must stand.

As to the referee’s observation skills (or lack thereof), several things are at issue here. What was the other AR doing? The trail AR should immediately have mirrored the lead AR’s flag and thus increased the likelihood of the referee recognizing that an error had been committed. Why did the lead AR not do something a bit more active than merely standing (correctly, certainly, but not EFFECTIVE) with the flag up in the air? Although it would not happen at higher competitive levels, there is nothing wrong with the AR calling out to the referee.


PROPER PLACEMENT OF FREE KICKS
Your question:
I was center referee on very competitive Girls U18 match. Defender fouls attacker A1 near the attackers left touch line.  Foul is called but the ball continues to roll 8-10 yards laterally across field. Player A2 quickly stops the balls motion, restarts play by performing a short, quick pass to A3 who takes a shot on goal. Shot is unsuccessful, restart with Goal Kick.

Before A3’s shot was taken, the sideline for opposing team immediately howled in protest that the ball was not placed where the foul was called and that the ball should be moved back and restarted. I chose to let play continue rather then penalize the attacking team for being fouled and rather encourage them to restart quickly.

My question: In what circumstances would you stop play and bring the ball back to original foul location?

USSF answer (August 16, 2005):
Howls of protest should roll off the referee’s mind like water from a duck’s back–but the referee should think about the reason for the howls and adjust his or her calls accordingly.

You don’t say how close to the opponents’ goal line the attackers were at the moment of the foul and subsequent restart, but distance to the goal line (and particularly the goal) should be a consideration in correct placement of the restart. While it is very rare and usually totally unnecessary that the restart take place on the precise blade of grass on which the incident occurred, the amount of latitude the referee allows the kicking team decreases greatly the closer the incident is to the goal. And, as to this particular situation, if a goal HAD been scored, the referee should have called the ball back for a retake of the kick from the correct location (using the guidance above). In this case, no harm, no foul — the infringement of Law 13 was likely trifling. To call it back after an unsuccessful attack would be to give the team an unfair second chance. Let your conscience be your guide, not the howls of the fans or players, but remember the spirit of fair play.


VIDEOS OF YOUTH PLAY
Your question:
I just attended a level 8 recertification course. The training video clips were of international matches. The instructor said several times, ³If that foul was committed in a youth soccer game, the player would have been given a red card.² Here is my question. Why in the courses to they use international match video clips and not video of youth soccer games?

The reason for the question: How is a youth referee to know how to apply the rules to their games when at training we see (and hear) a different judgement applied to games which most referees will only see on television? Wouldn¹t it be more appropriate to show video from games which are more closely related to the type and style of refereeing that most referees encounter?

USSF answer (August 10, 2005):
Instructors say a lot of things, but the Law is clear: A foul at the lowest level of play is a foul at the highest level of play. (Although the referee at the top level may choose to apply common sense and tactical understanding of the game to any situation.)

As to videos, it is difÞcult to get usable videos of youth play. The Federation has produced a number of instructional videos based on youth play. Check with your State Director of Referee Instruction for their availability.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK/REDUCE TO EQUATE
Your question:
In a tournament last year I was refereeing the Þnal match between a team from california and texas. We Þnished all of regulation including extra time. At this time one player from the california team took her bag and left because she was worried she would miss her flight. Now she Þnished the game so there were 11 on both sides but they did not now have 11 for the penalty kicks. We reduced to equate that game but after reading the position papers from 2002 and 2004, i am not sure if i was to reduce since they were not down players do to injury, misconduct or just having fewer players.

Question: were we correct to reduce or not in this case???

USSF answer (August 9, 2005):
The reduce to equate principle applies only to the number of players actually on the Þeld at the end of the game (including any who may be off temporarily with permission of the referee). The ³reduce to equate² principle does not apply in this case. However, the referee need not take any special note of the player¹s absence unless the kicks from the penalty mark proceed to the point where it is time for the eleventh player (now missing) to take a kick. If the procedure never reaches this point because the outcome is decided as a result of 10 or fewer pairs of kicks, the player¹s absence made no difference and nothing further needs to draw the referee¹s attention. If the teams remain tied through 10 pairs of kicks and it now comes time for the still missing eleventh player to take her turn, the referee must abandon the match with no result and report all details to the competition authority. No eligible player can avoid taking a kick if it becomes necessary.


ARMS IN OFFSIDE
Your question:
Taught a grade 8 class this weekend, and got a great question about the new ³any part² offside interpretation.

If the attacker is to be considered offside if ³any part² of his head, body or legs is nearerŠ, then does the same apply to the defender? Put differently, is the part of the defender that is nearest the goal line the determining point?

Example: Defender¹s leg is sticking perpendicular from his body, pointing toward his own goal line. If the attacker¹s head is past the torso, but not past the defender¹s foot, does that qualify for offside position?

USSF answer (August 9, 2005):
The arms are not considered for either player when determining offside position.


THROW-IN
Your question:
I wasrefereeing a U23 semifinal game. In the second half the defensive player takes a throw in a kneeling position. I called it for illegal throw ( law 15) and awarded the throw to the other team. The defensive player made a comment that I have done this before and other referees allowed it and it is legal. My response to defenseman was²it is an illegal throw ³ and continued with the game. At the end of the game, the assessor told me that I should have prevented the illegal throw by correcting the defensive player when he was in the kneeling position. I believe that at U23 level they should no the correct procedures of throw-in and the team coach should have instructed the correct procedures.

USSF answer (August 9, 2005):
Players will always use the excuse that the referee in the last game allowed them to do whatever it happened to be. It is indeed an infringement of Law 15 to take a throw-in from a kneeling position.

As to the assessor¹s comment, let us say this: While preventive refereeing is a good thing in many cases, this usually applies only to infringements of Law 12. There is an old saying among referees: “The Laws of the Game were not written to compensate for the mistakes of players.”


MISCONDUCT ON THE BENCH
Your question:
An AR gets spit at by someone on the bench. The AR clearly heard the spit and could clearly see the spit go flying past him/her, but since the AR right had his/her back to the bench, the AR has no idea who actually did the spitting. At the next stoppage, the AR raises the flag to the referee and informs them of the incident. The AR suspects who it is because a player has just been shown a caution which was initiated by the AR. The referee asks the coach who did it, but no name is forthcoming.

What can / should the referee do in this situation under the USSF Laws? Should they red card/eject with the player they suspect? Ask the coach to leave (of course, without showing the card) since he is ³responsible² for his bench? Or do nothing because they cannot specify an individual.

I know that in NFHS (high school) rules, the coach would get ejected, but I don¹t think you can do that in USSF. I am just curious what the referee CAN do in that situation.

USSF answer (August 9, 2005):
If the officials are not able to identify a culprit deÞnitely, then no individual player may be punished. The coach may certainly be expelled for not maintaining order on the bench. In any event, the referee and assistant referee must submit a full and detailed report on the incident to the competition authority.


GOALKEEPER HANDLING OUTSIDE THE PENALTY AREA
Your question:
This situation happened during a high level amateur game. Following a shot on goal, the goalkeeper gained possession of the ball in the penalty area. He proceeded to dribble the ball in the air toward the boundary of the penalty area.while dribbling the ball completely crossed over the plane of the penalty area (line). Thru an additional dribble in the air (at this point the ball still hasn’t hit the ground), the goalkeeper brought back the ball inside the penalty area and grabbed it as he was being challenged at this point by an opponent.

* Did the goalkeeper committed an infraction by ultimately handling the ball at the end?
* Is the goalkeeper allow to carry the ball out of the penalty area, bring it back inside the penalty area and handle it (grab it) without the ball ever being touch by an opposing player?
* If there was an infraction :- What’s the infraction ?
– What’s the proper restart?

USSF answer (August 9, 2005):
The goalkeeper is not permitted to retain possession of the ball for more than about six seconds, nor is the goalkeeper permitted to handle the ball outside the penalty area. If either of these infringements occurred, then they must be punished. The correct decision in the case of possession is an indirect free kick for the opponents at the place where the infringement occurred. The correct decision in the case of handling the ball outside the penalty area is a direct free kick for the opposing team at the place where the goalkeeper handled the ball.


TOO MANY PLAYERS
Your question:
Player was sent-off for a 2nd caution. Later in the match a PK for the same team was awarded and converted and team goes up 2-1. At the kick-off the referee notices that the team had been playing with 11 players.

What is the proper way to handle this?

USSF answer (August 9, 2005):
Deny the goal. Remove the eleventh player and caution him/her for entering the field without permission. Retake the penalty kick. All of this presupposes that “at the kick-off” means BEFORE the kick-off and not after.


CALLING OFFSIDE AT THE HALFWAY LINE
Your question:
In the 2005 Memorandum, in connection with the new IFAB Decision 1 for Law 11, there is the following advice to referees: Although it is not specifically stated, this same concept of “nearer to” should be used in determining if an attacker is in his opponents’ end of the field (i.e., if any part of his head, body, or feet is past the midfield line).

The Law says that a player is not in an offside position if he is in his own half of the field of play. Is the above advice saying that, to be in your “own half of the field,” your head, body, and feet need to be TOTALLY in your own half? That is, is the advice saying that someone could be in an offside position if part of his “head, body, or feet” were “past the midfield line” while some other part of his “head, body, or feet” were in his own half of the field of play?

If that’s the case (and I feel it is, owing to the wording of the advice), then I’m embarrassed to admit that this teaching has eluded me all these years. Nonetheless, I’d like to hear it from you directly.

USSF answer (July 25, 2005):
As you note, this is a change in interpretation by the IFAB. It makes some things easier, some things harder for referees. We would expect the referee to exercise common sense and call the offside in such a case only if it is blatant.


NO LIP RINGS OR GOLD BRACELETS OR NECKLACES FOR REFEREES
Your question:
What is the referee dress code in respect of officials who wish to officiate while wearing rings in their pierced lips and other such metal ornamentation?

Are there any existing published bye-laws or other communications that state referees are to follow the player dress code (except for permission to wear a wrist watch)?

Even so, I rather expect that youth referees will ask why so many adult referees are allowed to wear gold necklaces while officiating (should we also stop this practice?).   And some may observe that the USSF definitely allows referees (at lower level games) to wear peaked hats – which seems to contravene the player dress code.

Again, any help you may be able to give will really be appreciated.

USSF answer (July 22, 2005):
There should be no need for a written statement regarding referee garb. Referees are expected to look professional for every game they do, regardless of the level of play. Referees should exercise good sense in choosing what to wear–and what not to wear. Law 4 tells us that the players are not permitted to wear jewelry or any other item of equipment or dress that might be dangerous to either themselves or to any other participant.

Law 18 (common sense) tells us that if players are not permitted to wear jewelry, neither should referees or assistant referees or fourth officials wear unnecessary jewelry, including gold chains, lip rings, or any other items that could prove dangerous to either themselves or to other participants. The only exceptions would be wristwatches, a very necessary item of officiating equipment, and plain wedding bands (no stones or other protrusions). As with players, referees may also wear medicalert bracelets that provide necessary information in case of sickness or accident.

As to caps or other hats, other than Harry Potter, no referee is permitted to wear a peaked hat. Federation policy on hats was published in the October 1999 issue of Fair Play and has been reiterated several times in this venue:
Q. May referees wear caps and sunglasses?
A. With regard to caps, the policy of the United States Soccer Federation was stated in the Spring 1994 issue of Fair Play magazine: “Under normal circumstances, it is not acceptable for a game official to wear headgear, and it would never be seen on a high level regional, national or international competition. However, there may be rare circumstances in local competitions where head protection or sun visors might sensibly be tolerated for the good of the game, e.g. early morning or late afternoon games with sun in the officials’ line of sight causing vision difficulties; understaffed situations where an official with sensitive skin might be pressed into service for multiple games under strong sunlight or a referee who wears glasses needing shielding from rain.”
Sunglasses would be subject to the same considerations. In addition, we ask referees to remember that sunglasses have the unfortunate side effect of suggesting that the referee or assistant referee is severely visually impaired and should not be working the game. They also limit communication between the officials and the players by providing a barrier against eye-to-eye contact. Sunglasses, if worn, should be removed prior to any verbal communication with players.


GOALKEEPER PICKING UP A DELIBERATELY KICKED PASS/REMOVING THE JERSEY TO CELEBRATE A GOAL
Your question:
I have two questions I believe should be fairly simple to answer. I have been in discussions with other referees at a recent tournament and have found differing opinions on both of these items.

First. in regards to Law 12, “An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper,inside his own penalty area…..
€ touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate”

Does the deliberately refer to the kick itself, simply meaning if the player means kick the ball regardless of the direction they intended the ball to go. An example of this would be where a player intends to kick the ball up field away from the goal but “mis-kicks” and the ball goes off the side of their foot into the penalty area and the keeper picks it up the ball off the mis-kick.

Or does the deliberately part mean the kick had to be deliberately made to a place where the keeper can pick up the ball, which would exclude the above scenario of a mis kicked ball.

The wording of the law seems to indicate that the kick only need to be deliberate and not the direction, but that contradicts what I was taught during my certification / re-certification classes. Your guidance here would be much appreciated.

Second question, in regards to Law 12 IFAB Decision 6
“A player who removes his jersey when celebrating a goal must be cautioned for unsporting behavior.”

Does this also apply to a player removing their jersey after the whistle had blown indicating the the end of the half (first or second) before exiting the field of play? I can not find that instance mentioned in the FIFA laws or the FIFA Guidelines. In fact I only see where is expressly state removing the jersey in celebration after a goal. I don’t believe it applies to this situation. This past weekend at a local tournament, I had another referee who was watching the game chastise me afterwards (which I believe was very unprofessional of them, even if I was wrong, which I don’t think I was) for not issuing a yellow card to a player who did remove his jersey on the field of play but only after the final whistle had blown ending the game. I talked with some other referees later and again found differing opinions on this subject.

USSF answer (July 21, 2005):
1. The rule against the goalkeeper picking up or touching a ball deliberately kicked to him or her comes into effect when certain technical requirements are met: the ball must have been kicked (i. e., played with the foot); the kick must have been deliberate, rather than a miskick, an attempt to clear, an accidental deflection or a misdirection; the ball must have been directed (i. e., clearly played deliberately) to a place where the goalkeeper could pick it up; and the goalkeeper must play the ball with the hands before an infringement has occurred.

Referees should punish such handling only when, in the opinion of the referee, the play by the teammate was deliberate. If the teammate deliberately kicked the ball to a place where the goalkeeper could play it, then the goalkeeper will infringe the Law by playing it with the hands. However, the ‘keeper may play the ball in any way that does not involve handling (e.g., show could kick it, head it, etc.).

If the teammate has played the ball with the foot, trapping the ball and leaving it for the goalkeeper to pick up, that is the same as kicking the ball deliberately to the goalkeeper.

The rule against the ‘keeper picking up the deliberately kicked ball is intended to prevent time wasting and thus, fairly obviously, to increase the time the ball is available for either team to use in an attack on the opponents’ goal.

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 deliberateness of the kick. If there is any doubt in the referee’s mind as to the deliberateness of the pass, then common sense should prevail and the supposed infringement should not be called.

2. The intent of the rule against removing the jersey after the scoring of a goal is to rid the game of actions that are aimed at taunting the other team. It would seem to have nothing to do with the act of a player removing the jersey after the game is over. Let your colleague worry about refereeing his or her game, rather than trying to tell you how to referee your game. As to any misconduct, that is a separate issue from removing the jersey in celebration of a goal.


LONG FINGERNAILS
Your question:
It is quite the vogue nowadays for teenage girls to wear long fingernails (natural and fake). Our local referee association makes it a point every year to remind its referees to make the youth players remove such items as jewelry, all bracelets, metal hair pins, etc. because they may cause injury to the players. However, when the subject of long fingernails comes up in the discussion, there seems to be no agreement that they are dangerous.

Recently I witnessed a GU-16 match in which a player sustained a painful injury caused by an opponent’s fingernail. The victim sustained a wound around her neck, from just below her ear to the center of her collarbone, that measured about 0.5 in. X 6 in.

Should referees be inspecting the players’ fingernails and prevent players from wearing long fingernails? Some youth leagues ban long fingernails, or require them to wear gloves or tape. Is this an acceptable technique to prevent injury?

As a referee I would be hesitant to enforce such actions unless other referees are also on board with it and the enforcement is uniformly administered.

How does USSF feel about this issue?

USSF answer (July 19, 2005):
There are a number of position papers and memoranda on player equipment and safety. You will find them on the ussoccer.com website. They include the position paper of September 3, 2003, “Players Wearing Non-Compulsory Equipment”; the position paper of March 17, 2003 on “Players’ Equipment (Jewelry)”; and the position paper of March 7, 2003 on “Player’s Equipment.”

However, in this case a referee need simply remember the concrete guidance given in Law 4:  “A player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player.” Fingernails are classified as something that is worn. If, in the opinion of the referee, fingernails or any other thing the player wears are dangerous, then they may not be worn. Taping fingernails or earrings is not an acceptable alternative. Long fingernails must be removed (made an acceptable length) or the player does not play.

NOTE: This does not require anyone to be “on board,” it simply means that referees should enforce the Law.


PLAYER SUSPENSIONS
Your question:
I hope you may be able to help me out. Let’s assume that a player receives a red card for a serious infraction. IN our region, the referees, using a matrix, provides a recommendation regarding the number of games that the player is suspended. The Commissioner will then make a determination on the suspension based upon the referees recommendation and other items. Let’s also assume that the Commissioner agrees with the referee’s recommendation of a 2-game suspension.

Is there anywhere in the USSF rules that state that the 2-game suspension needs to be two CONSECUTIVE games. I know that this may sound a little ridiculous, but this situation has recently happened to me and I am just trying to understand why we would let a player decide “when to serve his/her suspensions.”

USSF answer (July 18, 2005):
All games for which a player is suspended are served consecutively before the player may play again. That is soccer tradition and in full accordance with a directive from FIFA.

However, we are more concerned about the way suspensions are determined in your area. The competition authority has the responsibility of deciding how many games a player must be suspended. To preserve their neutrality and objectivity, referees should and must have no part in the suspension process.


RECKLESS PLAY VS. USE OF EXCESSIVE FORCE
Your question:
If a defender slides at high speed with cleats up towards an attacker dribbling the ball and manages to make contact with only the ball but the momentum of the ball with the defender behind it takes the attacker down in a manner that could cause serious injury, is it consistent with the LOTG to consider the defender guilty of reckless or serious foul play, even if there is no player-to-player contact? Would a caution for dangerous play or unsporting behavior be more appropriate for this situation?

This discussion came up at our referee meeting this evening when we were discussing the new directive that reckless and serious foul play should be determined regardless of the direction of a slide tackle, but the consensus seemed to be that there had to be contact between the players to call it a foul.

USSF answer (July 15, 2005):
You are confusing “reckless” and “with excessive force.” Here is the information you need, straight from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

12.3 CARELESS, RECKLESS, INVOLVING EXCESSIVE FORCE
“Careless” indicates that the player has not exercised due caution in making a play.
“Reckless” means that the player has made unnatural movements designed to intimidate an opponent or to gain an unfair advantage.
“Involving excessive force” means that the player has far exceeded the use of force necessary to make a fair play for the ball and has placed the opponent in considerable danger of bodily harm.
If the foul was careless, simply a miscalculation of strength or a stretch of judgment by the player who committed it, then it is a normal foul, requiring only a direct free kick (and possibly a stern talking-to). If the foul was reckless, clearly outside the norm for fair play, then the referee must award the direct free kick and also caution the player for unsporting behavior, showing the yellow card. If the foul involved the use of excessive force, totally beyond the bounds of normal play, then the referee must send off the player for serious foul play or violent conduct, show the red card, and award the direct free kick to the opposing team.

As to the tackle itself, if, in the opinion of the referee, the tackle endangers the safety of the opponent, it makes no difference if there is contact or not. Referees (and spectators) should not get hung up on slide tackling.  There is nothing in the directive about endangering the safety of the opponent which limits this to a slide tackle.


THROW-IN 2005-2006
Your question:
1) A defender must now be 2 yards/meters from an attacker taking a throw in. What if the attacker advances down the line (the law allows a yard, and in fact they often take more) in such a a manner that the attacker’s distance from the defender is less than two yards prior to throwing the ball. Must the defender continue to back up from his original legal spot to maintain the 2 yard distance, or is the thrower having moved “at his own risk.”

2) A defender is 2 yards form a thrower.  Literally at the taking of the (but not after) the throw, the defender encroaches and this action affects the throw/or thrower. I realize the encroachment is dealt with via a caution. What is the restart?

USSF answer (July 6, 2005):
1) The opponent must obey the requirements of Law 15.
2) If this occurs during the throw, the throw-in is retaken after the caution for unsporting behavior.


COMPLAINTS ABOUT REFEREES
Your question:
I have a question regarding the Code of Ethics. In particular, the question is regarding a referee who also plays for an organized club team.

When a referee plays for a club team, is that person still bound by their status as a referee to adhere to the code of ethics? If so and the individual violates one or more of the components of the Code of Ethics, what recourse should be taken toward that individual?

USSF answer (July 5, 2005):
A referee is bound by the Code of Ethics in all soccer-related activities.

If you have a complaint regarding a referee, you may follow the procedure outlined in 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 you should scroll down to the appropriate policy. The complaint is filed with your state soccer association or youth soccer association, whichever is appropriate to your state.


CHANGING JERSEYS TO DECEIVE
Your question:
I am helping our local amateur league with a situation and I was hoping I could lend your expertise whether this situation was handled correctly or not. I have tried to reseach this, but could not come up with anything in writing or of any precident that I know of.

A game was played between a team in white and a team in yellow. Proper procedure for players is to present a player pass to the referee crew and must be noted down by name and number before entry into the game (usually done during pregame inspection) White #7 was cautioned for dissent in the 40th minute.

Just after the whistle to start the second half, the referee notices that white #7 is on the field, but is a different player. The referee notices by remembering the face of the original #7. After some searching, it is noticed in the 50th minute that the original #7 is now a substitute (reentry is allowed in this game), and is now wearing #8. None of the referee crew was notified of the change. The referee allowed play to continue and would have dealt with the situation accordingly by if the new white #7 committed a cautionable offense, that he would not be shown a red card for 2 yellows, and if the new #8 committed a cautionable offense, he would have been shown a red card for 2 yellow cards. In both situations, both teams would have then been informed of the jersey switch at the appropriate time.

Fortunately, neither of these things occurred. But the referee did note the number change without notifying the referee in the game report to the league. As of the game, there is no separate league rule regarding players changing numbers during a game but the league is imposing a game suspension to any offending player if it ever occurs again in any league game. I had also explained to league administrators that for many, many years, players were asked for their names by the referee when booked or sent off, not just numbers being recorded, so numbers were not always relied upon for player identification. Do you think the referee did the right actions?

Should have the referee informed both teams at the next immediate stoppage after noticing the change?

Some people suggested that both players should have been cautioned for unsporting behavior once the referee noticed the change because they are trying to decieve the referee. Would this have been correct? I could only find for players changing with the goalkeeper without the referees permission (mandatory), but not with other field players. Also, in this case, many problems would occur as would white play with 10 or 11 players and do you restart the 2nd half over again or continue from that point on?

USSF answer (July 4, 2005):
Whether it is in the rules of the competition or not, tradition dictates that players wear the same number throughout the match unless forced to change by circumstance (e. g., blood on the jersey or a torn jersey). Any other change of numbers would be regarded as an attempt to deceive the referee and would be treated as unsporting behavior. The referee should caution and show the yellow card to both players for unsporting behavior. The original White #7 would then be expelled and shown the red card for receiving a second caution in the same match. Because the original White #7 was not a player at the time of the second caution, White would continue to play with eleven players. The referee should report full details in the match report.


FEINTS AT A PENALTY KICK
Your question:
It has always been my understanding that a player taking a penalty kick cannot stop and restart his approach to the ball. I’ve seen MLS games recently and a penalty has been scored and counted twice after the kicker came to a complete stop before finishing his run up to the ball and then scoring. Not only was it counted, but the question about the approach wasn’t even brought up in the analysis of the kick. I researched the FIFA Laws of the Game from the link provided on FIFA’s website and couldn’t find anything that detailed the rules that govern a players run toward the ball on a penalty kick. Has that rule been changed recently or is it one of those rules that is written in the book but just not enforced very rigorously much like the goalie moving off the goal line on a penalty?

USSF answer (July 4, 2005):
FIFA clarified in 2002 that the kicker may seek to misdirect (or feint) at the taking of a penalty kick. USSF, in a memo of October 14, 2004 on this subject, identified four specific actions by the kicker that could constitute misconduct:
– he delays unnecessarily after being signaled by the referee to proceed,
– he runs past the ball and then backs up to take the kick,
– he excessively changes direction during the run to the ball, or
– he makes any motion of the hand or arm which is clearly intended to misdirect the attention of the goalkeeper.

In such cases, the referee should suspend the procedure, caution the player involved, and then signal once again for the kick to be taken. If the kick has already been taken, the referee should order it retaken only if the ball enters the goal. The player must still be cautioned for his misconduct regardless of the outcome. If the kick is not to be retaken (see above), the game is restarted with an indirect free kick for the defending team where Law 14 was violated.

As to the goalkeeper leaving the line early, all referees are expected to order a retake of a penalty kick or a kick from the penalty mark if the ‘keeper’s movement off the line has interfered with the kicker’s ability to score the goal.

NOTE: This answer corrects an answer sent out on March 30, 2005.


WATER BREAKS
Your question:
This weekend we had some Š teenage boys matches in our area, with the heat index up to 102 degrees Farenheit, no wind, and high humidity. At the mutual agreement of the coaches and players, we elected to hold up play about half-way through each half in order to let the boys (and officials) take a short break for water. We felt that in the interest of safety, it was the right thing to do since the rules of the league require limited substitutions.

We are now being chastised for this by the league officials ­ note the comments below by the league commissioner.

Correct me if I¹m wrong, but going ³by the book² also means the referee can use his (her) discretion to allow such breaks when they make sense ­ Law 18.

Here¹s the note from the commissioner: ³[Name deleted], I have to also state though I am not happy with hearing about these breaks. I understand how hot it was, but I just sent out something last week to all clubs and assignors about the use of substitutions, and now I have you taking it under your own jurisdiction to allow breaks.

We need these games played by the book. Please reply to confirm.²

Your quick response to my question would be greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (July 1, 2005):
The referee has no direct authority to vary the rules of the competition or to stop the game for unspecified reasons. However, 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 following answer may be summed up in two words: common sense.

In such situations, 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 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.)

As to the officials, the referee and assistant referee should exercise common sense and hydrate well before all games during hot weather. They should also find a sheltered place to leave a bottle of water near the field, so that they can get a drink during a natural break in play.


OFFSIDE 1
Your question:
1 Player A1 is in the offsides pos. between the next to the last def.and the goalie. The next to the last def.goes to clear the ball it hits a player on her team and bounces back to the offside player.is this offsides.
2 Same things except it hits a player on the a team than bounces back.
3 Player in offsides pos. Intercepts ball passed back to goalie from next to last def.

USSF answer (June 30, 2005):
1. If the Team B defender had established possession of the ball when she tried to clear it, then there is no offside on this play. If there was clearly no possession, then player A1 is offside.

2. Offside in any case.

3. No offside.


OFFSIDE 2
Your question:
I hear that there was a new Offside rule announced in the Concacaf Cup, which states, a player is offside only if he touches the ball. Is this rule going to be enforced for youth and FIFA soccer?

USSF answer (June 30, 2005):
No new rule was announced at the CONCACAF Cup. The interpretation of when offside should be called has been altered by the International F. A. Baord, the people who write and change the Laws of the Game published by FIFA; this goes into effect for all competitions that begin on or after 1 July 2005. Do not implement this change until you have received written confirmation from your State Director of Instruction or from the U. S. Soccer Federation. Look for a position paper in the near future.

2005 Part 2

GOAL? RESTART?
Your question:
The goalkeeper is drawn away from the goal area and an offensive player finds himself with a wide open net. Prior to kicking the ball into the net, the offensive player taunts the keeper in an unsporting manner. A caution is clearly warranted for the unsporting behavior.  Do you allow the goal to stand and caution the offensive player after play has stopped? Or do you disallow the goal and restart from the point of the violation? Most cautions are administered after play has stopped, but does that make sense in this case?

USSF answer (June 29, 2005):
If the misconduct occurs before the goal is scored, then there is no goal. The player is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. The game is restarted with an indirect free kick for the opposing team from the place where the misconduct occurred, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8.


AR’S MUST “BE THERE”!
Your question:
At our tournament this past weekend ­ this discussion came up. Where should the AR be when making the signal for a goal kick? What if a shot is taken around 20 yards from the goal line and misses wide and the whole world knows that it is a goal kick; does the AR have to make the sprint down to the corner flag before making the goal kick signal? On page 12 of the current Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees, this question is silent.

USSF answer (June 27, 2005):
Page 12 is silent because page 7 provides the answer. We cannot be any more specific than this: Be there at the goal line when the ball crosses it, no matter whether the subsequent restart is a goal kick, corner kick, or kick-off. The REAL question is, what do you do when that turns out not to be humanly possible? The ball can move through the air (and sometimes also on the ground) faster than the most fit AR and so it is possible for the ball to get to the goal line sooner than can the AR. Nevertheless, the AR must try and, when reality clashes with theory, the AR continues the few short feet (or yards) down to the goal line before signaling. The AR should never be so far behind the movement of the ball that the distance is great enough for there to be an appreciable delay in getting to the goal line to make the signal.


KNOW THE RULES OF THE COMPETITION!!!
Your question:
During a tournament play for a U13G game, the Center misunderstood the time was set at 25 minutes per half and he ran a 30 minute first half. During the first half, in the 28th minute, a 2nd caution was issued to a player, she was shown the red card and ejected. The coach protested saying the half should have ended at 25 minutes (according to the tournament rules).

After discussion with tournament officials, the 2nd yellow was rescinded and the ejection nullified because it occurred during the improperly added 5 minutes of time. The 2nd half was 25 minutes in duration. The Center acknowledged he should have known the tournament rules prior to play, but given the situation, was rescinding the 2nd caution proper? Thanks

USSF answer (June 27, 2005):
Under the Laws of the Game, the referee is authorized to take into account excessive amounts of time lost. This does not, however, increase the length of the second half because all the referee is doing is restoring to the teams the full amount of playing time to which they are entitled. Furthermore, in general, the referee is the sole judge of when time ends.

That is not the case here. The referee has made a mistake in timing the first half. Unfortunately, an error in timing which causes a half to be ended too early can be corrected fairly easily but causing a half to go too long (other than to make up for excessive time lost) cannot. Still, the half cannot be said to be “over” until signaled by the referee. If, during the “added” time, a card is given, regardless of the reason or the consequences, and the mistake is not discovered until after the restart (or, as here, and in accordance with the 2005-2006 change in Law 12, until after the end of the half), the card must stand–as far as the rest of that game is concerned.

The referee’s only recourse is to provide the necessary details in the game report and the competition authority (in this case, the tournament management) can sort it out. If they decide to cancel the second yellow card, the subsequent red card, and the required next game suspension, that is their business.


“MESSAGES” ON TEAM JERSEYS
Your question:
Our local soccer club has a team that calls itself Football Club United Kingdom. On their jersey they have “FCUK”.

I was told USSF was not taking this as the shock value it is intended because if they were to “outlaw” “FCUK”, then clubs would not be allowed to have “GAP”, Coco Cola, etc on their uniforms. Please tell me this is not so.

I’m sure the forefathers of the game did not intend FCUK to be construed as “GENTLEMANLY”. Will USSF become another “tolerant” organization? What if a referee cards a whole team for having such a jersey?

USSF answer (June 23, 2005):
Such matters come under the state association’s jurisdiction since they are responsible for the games in their state. That would be either the youth state association if it is a youth game or the adult state association if it is an adult game. The U. S. Soccer Federation has no rules that would prevent a state association from stepping in and making a decision as to what goes on the uniforms in this case. .


WHERE DOES IT SAY THAT?
Your question:
Are you aware of any written requirement for players to keep their jerseys tucked in? I know it is tradition–sometimes not enforced–but I have never seen anything in writing other than in the annual publication by USSF for referees and teams playing in tournaments.

USSF answer (June 22, 2005):
This requirement was originally carried in the “Additional Instructions regarding the Laws of the Game” for the 1994 World Cup in the United States and in subsequent editions of the Laws of the Game (until the revision of the Laws in 1997):
23. Players’ outfits
(a) The referee shall ensure that each player wears his clothes properly and check that they conform with the requirements of Law IV. Players shall be made aware that their jersey remains tucked inside their shorts and that their socks remain pulled up.The referee shall also make sure that each player is wearing shinguards and that none of them is wearing potentially dangerous objects (such as watches, metal bracelets etc. ).


OFFSIDE
Your question:
I am a lowly grade 8 (since 2001) Š and was at the DC United-NE Rev match last Saturday night. One offside call has me confused. Can you help?

Believe DCU defending when ball played overhead toward NER player in clear offside position running toward the sideline away from team benches; offside player outside PA. But ball so high the player had to be 7′ to get to it. Flag is up for offside. Defender covers ball into corner. Brian Hall stops play for the offside, which leads to an IFK about 20-25 yards from the goalline. I wonder why. Since the defender secured position, albeit in the corner, but was not shadowed, shouldn’t play be allowed to carry on for a “trifling” offisde? Or was the offside called because the defender was disadvantaged by having to play the ball from his corner, whereas with an IFK it is moved upfield for kick that will send it 50-60 yards (or more) on attack?

This was borne in on me Sat night because 8 hours earlier in a tournament U12 game I waved down an offside flag when the defender got possession at the top of the PA and despite screams from the sideline “cognoscenti” of “offside, offside” I let play go on, which led to the team in possession moving the ball upfield and scoring the game tying goal. I felt so smart–sometimes you get lucky. Then went to DCU game and became confused.

Can you help me understand this? I know there is a good reason for Hall’s decision but would like to find out what I’m missing.

USSF answer (June 20, 2005):
There is no such thing as a “trifling” offside. A player either IS or IS NOT offside.

If, in the opinion of the referee, the player in the offside position is involved in active play by interfering with play or interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage by being in that position when a teammate plays the ball, that player must be declared offside. That decision is up to the referee on the game, not outside observers.


EITHER FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE COMPETITION OR DON’T REFEREE THERE
Your question:
Can leagues still require referees to officiate official USSF-sanctioned (or their affiliates, USYSA, US Club, etc.) matches where a game can use golden goal to determine a winner? What must the referee do in the case where he is asked to officiate such a match? As a league administrator we have had several national referees inform us that their recent training classes have asserted they are not to officiate such a match.

Can you please provide an official position?

USSF answer (June 20, 2005):
If a referee accepts a game, he or she must know and follow the rules of the competition. If the referee does not approve of the rules of the competition, he or she is free to turn down the assignment.


YOU DON’T KNOW SQUAT!
Your question:
During a recent coed rec adult match, a player took a throw-in with everything (feet, hands, facing field, ball) clearly IAW the Laws of the Game except for his body “positioning”. He performed the throw-in from an extremely deep squat. His butt was at or below his knees. Not to be offensive, but he looked like he was out in the woods taking a bowel movement.

I decided that the throw-in was illegal and awarded a throw-in to the opponents. My rational and explanation to the player was that his extreme body “positioning” was inappropriate (i.e. disrespectful to the game).

I checked the usually references (The Laws of the Game, FIFA’s Q&A, and USSF’s Advice to Referees) but couldn’t find anything specifically addressing a “deep squat”. The closest reference was “sitting down” from the Q&A:
8. Is a player allowed to take a throw-in kneeling or sitting down?
No. A throw-in is only permitted if the correct procedures in the Laws of the Game are followed.

I remember that the question of the “kneeling” and “acrobatic” throw-ins was raised and answered in either the 1985 or 1986 memorandum. As I remember the Board’s response, they basically said that the “acrobatic” throw-in was legal if all of the other requirements were met and that the “kneeling” throw-in was illegal with no further explanation or rational.

Is there any “official” guidance for this extreme deep squat body positioning? What are your “personnel” thoughts?

Another tangent regarding body “positioning.” I’ve never seen this happen, but I also don’t remember any “official” advice/guidance that would cover such a case. What should a referee do if a player were to take a kick (corner, kickoff, etc.) with his foot while sitting on the ground? What if he were lying on the ground?

My answer: Caution (Unsporting Behaviour) and Retake the respective restart.

USSF answer (June 17, 2005):
Squatting and kneeling are a form of sitting and as such are not permitted when taking a throw-in.

Kicking is traditionally done from a standing position, not on the ground–although it is certainly permissible to play the ball while on the ground if it is done without endangering any participant. Any free kick restart must be performed from a standing position.


SERIOUS MISCONDUCT AND THE ASSISTANT REFEREE
Your question:
This happened to me: offensive team driving toward goal about the top of the penalty box, I’m the A/R tracking the play, defense steals the ball, and the play heads back the other way down the field, with the Referee now having his back to me and tracking the players as the play moves toward the other end.

Now, on my end, things are getting messy. Out in the of the field (and, again, after the play has turned back down the field), the original offensive dribbler who lost the ball walks up and decks an opponent. Questions are this: As an A/R, do I let this slide? How do I get the attention of the Referee – especially since his back is to me and the play is now on the other end? In posing this question to some colleagues, they suggested waiting until the Referee found his way to my end of the field, then wave my flag to indicate a foul, then discuss with him what happened. Yuck, pretty ugly way to handle this – but I am looking for ideas.

Trying to be a better referee,

USSF answer (June 15, 2005):
The assistant referee should NEVER allow violent conduct or any other serious misconduct unseen by the referee to go unpunished. The AR should begin signaling immediately after the incident takes place, meanwhile remembering who, what, where, when, and how. If the other AR does not see the signal, the AR should get the referee’s attention in any way possible, including shouting his or her name. Once the referee gets the word that something is terribly wrong, the AR gives a full report.

If getting the notice to them takes a long time and play continues for what seems like an eternity, then the referee and the other AR should consider giving up their badges. Whether or not that happens, all details must go into the match report.

It should go without saying that the principles of this are clearly covered in the “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees.”


HOLDING THE FLAG IN THE “RIGHT” HAND
Your question:
An assessor last evening suggested that when signaling for a goal kick, I should hold the flag in the hand away from the referee, the hand closer to the goal line, rather than the hand closer to and most visible to the referee. I was taught, admittedly a LONG time ago, the other way. The flag is always in the hand closer to the referee. Where does one go about finding out the current policy/position on these details?

USSF answer (June 13, 2005):
The Federation recommends carrying the flag in the hand nearer to the referee while running the line, but for signaling there is no policy other than common sense. Shame on the assessor for making a big deal out of it.

If holding the flag in the “wrong” hand to give the signal means better visibility (to aid you in further assisting the referee), then do it that way. There is no “official” policy on which hand to use for signaling.


WHAT’S THE RESTART?
Your question:
If a player is cautioned for Impeding a Thrower during a throw-in, is the restart still a throw-in or is it at Direct Free Kick?

USSF answer (June 13, 2005):
Throw-in.


BELATED SEND-OFF
Your question:
This question was raised at our last meeting. A player was not sent off after being given a second caution. Player then scores! Referee team sees their error.

We all agree that the player is now sent off, but….
Does the goal stand? what is the restart? When did the player stop being a player? become an outside agent? In addition to getting to your car quickly; what actions does the Referee take?

USSF answer (June 13, 2005):
As long as the situation was brought to the referee’s attention during the game, the decision to send off and issue the red card to the player is correct. The player stops being a player only after he or she is sent off, so does not become an outside agent at all. Fortunately in this case (because play had not restarted after the goal), the referee’s error has not cost the opposing team a goal.  The goal should not be counted scored.  The referee should restart with a goal kick for the opposing team.

If the mistake is not discovered until some time after the restart, the goal will still count and the player who should have been removed must now be sent off.

If it was not the player who should have been sent off who scored, the goal still counts, but the player who should have been removed must now be sent off.

If the player who should have been sent off is not discovered until after he has been substituted, then that now-former player is shown the red card and the team must play down by removing the player who had come in as the substitute.

The referee must include full details of this serious error in the match report.


NO PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE ALLOWED
Your question:
I was AR in a competitive U-14 game in a tournament this weekend. During the halftime interval, one of the teams changed shirts ‹ they wore blue in the first half and white in the second. Weather and wet jerseys was not an issue. Neither the referee nor the opposing team was informed of the change. We were puzzled by it and speculated that gamesmanship was probably involved (the team concerned had played poorly in the first half but was still tied 0-0 with the other team), but nobody seemed unduly concerned.

Should we have prevented the team changing the color of their shirts at half-time? Would the views of the opposing coach have carried weight in our decision if she had objected?

USSF answer (June 6, 2005):
A team may not change uniforms at halftime without good cause, such as severe wetness and cold weather. In this case, the change is a form of gamesmanship and is not allowed.

There is no need to caution the players, as this is a matter of coaching, not play on the field. The referee should include full details in the match report. In no event should the views of the opposing coach have a bearing on any decisions made by the referee.


DO NOT “DOWNGRADE” SERIOUS MISCONDUCT INTO A SIMPLE FOUL!
Your question:
I was ref on a game between two teams with an intense rivalry. The out of town team was playing at a higher level, and had managed to run up 6 goals against the home team, who gave the impression they were very frustrated.

I would like a review of one call I made. In this case, a player from the home team had entered the opponents Penalty Area and was driving an attack on the goal. He was in position clearly to score a goal, when two defenders came in and basically smashed him between themselves, taking him off the ball. The attack seemed coordinated (i.e., the defenders intended to do this.)

I whistled the foul, and called it as a push under Law 12, since it pushed the attacker off the ball, and awarded a PK under Law 14. Apart from sending off the two offenders for DGF, did I call this right? If not, what should the call have been?

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
Taking your question at face value and the words literally (such as “smashed”), there is only one answer: The foul goes beyond denying the opponent a goal or a goalscoring opportunity. Send off both defending opponents for serious foul play and restart with a penalty kick.


INCIDENT ANALYSIS
Your question:
Here’s the scenario: ADVANCED level of play. Player going straight at goal. Player has beaten the defense by a couple of steps and is going at goal, keeper gets position and forces player to change angle of attack and ball is now NOT within playing distance (close) and not going at goal. Keeper collides with player, they both go down and the defense is on the ball instantly. PK? PK and SO? Cold beverage and think about it?

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
There are several very important factors here: The 4 Ds must be present and obvious:
– Number of Defenders — not more than one defender between the foul and the goal, not counting the defender who committed the foul
– Distance to goal — the closer the foul is to the goal, the more likely it is an obvious goalscoring opportunity
– Distance to ball — the attacker must have been close enough to the ball at the time of the foul to have continued playing the ball
– Direction of play — the attacker must have been moving toward the goal at the time the foul was committed
If any element is missing, there can be no send off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.

The final factor is whether the referee deemed the collision to be a foul, rather than fair play. If a foul, then the goalkeeper has denied the opponent a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity. Send off the goalkeeper, showing the red card, and restart with a penalty kick.

It makes no difference which direction the ball is going, the fact remains that the attacking opponent was moving toward goal.

Afterwards you may rest and reflect while partaking of a cold beverage.


APPLYING THE ADVANTAGE
Your question:
I’m a little confused when it comes to applying advantage in certain situations. Attacker #1 dribbles into the penalty box, where he is tripped by a defender…a clear penalty kick. The ball rolls straight to Attacker #2 though, who is all alone and takes a shot. Obviously, if he makes the shot, I’d apply advantage and score the goal. But what if the shot is saved by the goalie? Do I rule that advantage never materialized, and call for the PK? Would that answer change if A2 shanked the kick badly and it went out of bounds?

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
Advantage on fouls committed by defenders inside their own penalty areas is treated slightly differently than for fouls outside the penalty area. Remember, if play is stopped, the restart is a penalty kick, which, while not a sure thing, is a frequent producer of goals. As referee, you should avoid signaling advantage inside the penalty area–if as an immediate next event after the foul a goal is scored, the soccer gods have been just. Count the goal, deal with any misconduct that might have been related to the foul, and restart with a kick-off. If a goal is NOT the immediate next event, stop play for the foul, deal with misconduct (if any), and restart with the penalty kick.

Do NOT wait to see if the ball is going to a teammate of the player who was fouled before deciding on advantage. Your only wait is to see if the ball is going into the net. If you wait to see what might happen other than the ball going into the net, there is no good point at which to stop waiting. The ultimate advantage following a foul by the defense inside its own penalty area is a goal being scored right away. The next most advantageous outcome is having the penalty kick called.

If you choose to apply the advantage, even without giving the signal, you have only 2-3 seconds to change your mind. Use them wisely.


TURNING THE BACK TO AN OPPONENT
Your question:
Recently in a tournament out of state, at the Under 16 age group, an opponent was dribbling the ball in a fast breakaway towards my next to last defender. He knocked the ball out several yards in front of him allowing my defender to have a fair attempt at this 50/50 ball. Just before the opponent player was to make contact (foot to foot) with my defender he turns his back to my defender. The opponent player slammed his back into my player and fell into the penalty are. The referee awarded a penalty kick to the opposition.

I remember a Board clarification from the last couple of years that states is a player intentionally turns his back towards an oncoming opponent, than that player turning his back should be charges with committing a dangerous play and the other team should be awarded an indirect free kick.

I felt that this rule should have resulted in my team getting an indirect kick going the other way, not the other team getting a penalty kick.

The referee official at the tourney headquarters said he had never heard of this clarification and I cannot find it in the Laws of the Game

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
We are not aware of any “clarification” from the IFAB regarding turning one’s back on an opponent. Are you sure you are not thinking of high school or some local rules of competition?

As you describe the situation, the foul would appear to have been committed by the player with the ball, not the defender. That would be punished with a direct free kick for the defender’s team. This sort of foul is common in youth soccer, where some players jump into an opponent and, while doing so, turn their back. Since this essentially makes them an unguided missile, it highlights the danger of jumping at an opponent with the back turned.


INTIMIDATION?
Your question:
I am curious to know what options are available given the following situation:
The offensive player makes a run to the opposing goal and kicks the ball to the goalie. The goalie gathers the ball and after two full steps intentionally runs into the player potentially an intimidation move. The player clearly wasn’t at fault, but was just continuing his run at the goal. My first interpretation is that the goalie has control over his area, but in this case exceeded his personal space and took a little ‘shot’ at the offensive player. This could be a good case of talking to the keeper and giving a verbal warning. Let’s say the keeper has done this a second time. Is this is a good case of a caution given with an indirect kick taken by the defensive team? I am not sure at what point, if any, that a penalty kick should be awarded to the offensive team if the goalie after maintaining possession of the ball commits a foul. Can you elaborate on this scenario.

I have discussed this situation with some other referees and received varying opinions.

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
Intimidation is frequently only in the eye of the beholder. If the goalkeeper’s actions take out the opposing player, the referee must distinguish between an unavoidable collision of two players attempting to play the ball and the possibility that one of them is actually “taking a shot” at the other. While there may be doubt on the first occasion, if it occurs again the referee’s course is clear. Whether a caution is given or not, if the foul is called then the restart has to be a penalty kick.


KICKING TOO EARLY AT KICK FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
My daughter recently attended an out of state tournament. The game went into kicks from the penalty mark. Here¹s my question: The goalies had just switched positions. The ball was placed on the mark. The players were in position but before the referee could blow the whistle, the player kicked the ball and the goalie made the save. Should the player be given another opportunity to kick the ball since the whistle was not blown or should that kick be recorded as is?

USSF answer (June 1, 2005):
The ball may not be put into play until the referee is satisfied that every player is in proper position and blows the whistle. The correct decision would have been to retake the kick from the penalty mark.


MARKING THE ‘KEEPER OUT OF THE PLAY
Your question:
Corner kick situation. Attacking player shadows GK before kick is taken. Do I: (a) stop play, caution the attacker & proceed with the corner kick; or (b) allow the corner to be taken & caution the attacker at the 1st subsequent stoppage; or (c) negate the corner, issue no card & give an IFK to the defense. Any help would be appreciated.

USSF answer (May 30, 2005):
It is an offense if a player who is standing in front of a goalkeeper when a corner kick is being taken, takes advantage of the position to impede the goalkeeper before the kick is taken and before the ball is in play. The referee may either (1) act before the kick and warn the player not to impede the goalkeeper 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 goalkeeper’s team from the place where the ‘keeper was impeded.


INCIDENT OFF THE FIELD
Your question:
A player on Team A (offense) and a player on Team B (defense) are going for the ball that is about to leave the FOP from the Penalty Area over the goal line. Before the ball goes out of play, the offensive player stops it on the goal line. Both players leave the FOP due to momentum. As the offensive player is returning to the field, but before he does so, the defensive player pulls him down from the shoulder. During the whole incident, the ball was still in play where the offensive player stopped it. What is the call? What is the restart if play is stopped?

USSF answer (May 26, 2005):
The offense is violent conduct or unsporting behavior by the player from Team B, depending on the amount of force the referee sees. The restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped (keeping in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).


SITTING OUT SUSPENSION
Your question:
I was watching a high school game where a young lady received a red card in a high school game. She was sent off and removed from the field. However, at the next game she was not even allowed to sit on the bench with her teammates, even though she was not suited out. Is this right? Should she have been allowed on the bench with her teammates?

USSF answer (May 26, 2005):
Sorry, we do not answer questions based on high school rules. However, tradition dictates that the player not be on the bench while sitting out a suspension.


NO SIZE DISCRIMINATION, PLEASE!
Your question:
I am a 10 year old and taller and bigger than my team mates. I try to play clean but the smaller kids constanly push me in the back and put their forearm out when I have the ball. They do not get called for a foul, but if they run into me, I get called and they get a free kick. The other coaches, parents, and even refs have said that is the only way it is fair for them to play against me.  Should my league have a rule like this for taller players?

USSF answer (May 23, 2005):
It is against the Spirit of the Game to punish players solely for their size, whether great or small. The aim of the game has always been that the better or faster or stronger players win. There is nothing in the Laws of the Game about handicapping taller or stronger or faster players to make things “even.” The practice you describe should not be allowed.


SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER CHARGE
Your question:
Got into a discussion with other refs on these scenarios, during a rain delay… All the “shoulder-to-shoulder” contact described is clean, i.e. not shoulder to the back, or elbowing or open arm shoves.

(a) Attacking player has the ball under his control and is moving toward the goal. A defender forces him off the ball with clean but powerful, shoulder-to-shoulder contact that sends the attacker to the ground, and defender wins the ball. Foul or fair charge? Would it be a “fair charge” if the attacker had not hit the ground?

(b) Attacking player and defending player are running after a loose ball, beyond either one’s control. Defender hits attacker with a shoulder-to-shoulder charge, forcing him off his path and defender gets to the ball. Neither player had possession and neither player was playing the ball, but the ball was clearly a “50-50” ball, up for grabs. Foul or fair charge?

(c) Attacker has the ball under his control driving down the sideline, with attacker on his heels. Attacker puts the ball forward into open space, 12-15 feet ahead of him, beyond his control. The defender takes this opportunity to charge the attacker with a shoulder-to-shoulder move, forcing him to the side and defender gets to the ball. Attacker had control of the ball, but then by putting it into open space, did he turn it into a 50-50 ball? Foul or fair charge?

USSF answer (May 23, 2005):
Given your description of the shoulder-to-shoulder contact as “clean” or “clean but powerful,” the only other factor missing is whether or not the contact was done when the players were within playing distance of the ball. Only the referee on the spot can make the correct decision. Let these two paragraphs from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” be your guide:

12.5 CHARGING
The act of charging an opponent can be performed without it being called as a foul. Although the fair charge is commonly defined as “shoulder to shoulder,” this is not a requirement and, at certain age levels where heights may vary greatly, may not even be possible. Furthermore, under many circumstances, a charge may often result in the player against whom it is placed falling to the ground (a consequence, as before, of players differing in weight or strength). The Law does require that the charge be directed toward the area of the shoulder and not toward the center of the opponent’s back (the spinal area): in such a case, the referee should recognize that such a charge is at minimum reckless and potentially even violent. (See also Advice 12.14.)

12.22 CHARGING AN OPPONENT AWAY FROM THE BALL
A player who charges an opponent in an otherwise legal manner (i.e., not carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force) but with the ball not within playing distance has infringed the Law. Such an “off the ball” charge is considered a form of impeding the progress of an opponent (even though contact has occurred) and is thus penalized with an indirect free kick restart for the opposing team. If the referee considers the charge to be careless, reckless, or involving excessive force, the restart is a direct free kick.


KNOW YOUR RULES OF COMPETITION
Your question:
In a recent U10 level game where there are no PKs, an intentional hand ball occurred within the penalty box during the second half but it was not a ³Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity² but more of the defender forgetting he¹s not in goal anymore. The referee setup up a DK on the 14-yd line (since this was small-sided soccer) closest where the infraction occurred and the defenders formed a wall 8 yds away, per county rules. The referee signaled for the kick and again another different defender in the wall touched the ball as it went into the goal. The referee allowed the goal.

In my opinion, this was the correct action for the referee except maybe he should have yellowed carded both instances of hand ball in the penalty area. Understanding that this is still instructional soccer, should that be the case or would it be better to explain to the two defenders what could have happened (carding)?

USSF answer (May 18, 2005):
These must be local rules of competition, as the US Youth Soccer approved rules for Under-10 small-sided games have penalty kicks and all the items under Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct) apply. (You can download the USYS rules from their site.)

While the referee should certainly make allowances for instructional-level soccer, under Law 12, the player who denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball should have been sent off and shown the red card. The player who deliberately handled the ball but did not succeed in stopping the goal might have been cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card.

As your rules of competition appear to differ from the Laws of the Game, we would suggest asking the league (the competition authority) what they want in such cases. And you might suggest that they consider instructing all referees who work these games to follow some specific guidance.


DON’T TAKE AWAY A LEGITIMATE GOAL!
Your question:
Yesterday, I was asked about the following situation which had occurred in a U-19 girls classic game prior to my daughters game: a player on team A who was slightly in the goal area stops team B from scoring by using her hands; the center referee blew his whistle but play continued for approximately two seconds with team B putting the ball in goal. The center referee and the AR lost track of who the player who committed the foul and simply ordered a PK.

The PK missed and later the player, reportedly the offender in stopping the goal, scored the only goal of the game.

Team B coach (for whom I had been an instructor in his grade 8 class) asked me if the referee should have just picked a player to send off or asked the team captain to pick a player. And the center and the AR asked what they should have done (besides the obvious ³don¹t lose track of the offending player² and now write a full report). What should they have done?

USSF answer (May 18, 2005):
The referee should have waited a moment or two after the handling, just as he did, to see whether or not the ball entered the goal. If it did, then the goal should have been scored. As it was, the referee made a large number of mistakes:
First, you do not take away a legitimately scored goal, no matter what went before it (provided no infringement had been committed by the scoring team).
Second, if the referee has blown the whistle (by rushing too quickly to judgment, see below), the goal cannot be scored in any event.
Third, the referee AND the assistant referee should have kept track of which player deliberately handled the ball and attempted to stop the obvious goal or goalscoring opportunity. Even thought the goal was scored despite that player’s efforts, the referee should have sent off the player for denying the original goal/goalscoring opportunity and shown the red card before the ensuing kick-off.
Fourth, if the referee was not intelligent enough to wait for a moment or so–which was the case–then the player who deliberately handled the ball should have been sent off for deliberately handling the ball to deny the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity.
Fifth, if the referee and the assistant referee were not quick enough to remember which player had deliberately handled the ball, the referee should have asked the team whose goal or goalscoring opportunity was denied which of their opponents handled the ball. In addition, the referee should also ask the captain of the opposing team which of the players handled the ball. This doesn’t always work, but it is worth a try.

In any event, the referee must submit a full report on the entire situation to the appropriate authorities


RACIST REMARKS ARE PUNISHED AS OFFENSIVE OR INSULTING OR ABUSIVE LANGUAGE AND/OR GESTURES
Your question:
This past weekend I was attending my son’s u-15 soccer club tournament in [our state]. During the game a player that he was covering called him by a racially unacceptable name. I don’t think the referee heard it, at least I hope not, because he did nothing about it. My son brought it to his attention and nothing happened. What is the rule about this kind of behavior? As a parent, is there anything I can do?

USSF answer (May 18, 2005):
It is a sending-off offense to use offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures toward anyone involved in the game. We, too, hope that the referee failed to punish the act only because he did not hear the remark. Unfortunately, if the referee or one of the assistant referees did not hear the remark, the referee cannot punish it. There is nothing you as a parent can do about it at the field other than what you did.


DECISIONS MAY NOT BE REVERSED AFTER THE RESTART
Your question:
The referee fails to see an assistant referee signal for violent conduct on the opponent and the ball enters the goal. play is restarted with a kick-off and then does the referee see the assistant referee signal. Does the referee any times notices enpower after the kick-off punishment (caution & sendoff)?

USSF answer (May 18, 2005):
If the referee has already restarted the game with the kick-off, the goal may not be taken away. Nor may the referee caution or send-off the player for his misconduct. The referee must include full details in the match report.


AGE OF REFEREES FOR YOUTH GAMES
Your question:
Is there a restriction on the age of Gr. 8 referees. For example can a 14-year-old referee be the CR for a U14 travel game. We have having lots of problems with young referees officiating important travel games.

USSF answer (May 17, 2005):
First you need to check with your state association to see if there are any restrictions on the age of a referee working games in his or her own age group. Young referees typically work only games with players at least two years younger than the referee. It is possible that your assignor has no other referees. And, on the other hand, every state can use older referees.


GOALKEEPER MOVEMENT AT PENALTY KICK
Your question:
The State of Iowa conducted a referee clinic in Cedar Rapids this year with some top notch referees. I was really surprised by one comment which I asked them to clarify twice. They said that in FIFA matches, a goalie may step off the goal line by up to 3 meters as the kicker approaches the ball to kick it.

I thought you had to have your feet on the line until the ball was struck ?

USSF answer (May 16, 2005):
The game is played and refereed a bit differently at the highest level. Work at that highest level is what this FIFA AR was referring to. FIFA has instructed referees to call and assistant referees working at the highest level to flag only SIGNIFICANT movement called. At this time FIFA defines “significant movement” as 1-2 meters, not 3 meters.


GOALKEEPER “SECOND TOUCH”
Your question:
A goalkeeper has possession on the ball inside her penalty area. She is holding it in her hands. She punts the ball but kicks it over her head back towards her own goal. If she runs back to the goal, dives, and slaps the ball away with her hand over the goal line to keep it from scoring, what is the call? I understand no misconduct can be called, but there seems to be a disparity between Advice To Referees and Law 12. Law 12 states she may not TOUCH the ball again once it has been released from her possession until another player touches it. Advice in 12.19 states she may not “handle” the ball again and instructs us to be aware of Law 12, Decision 2 which deals with control of the ball. This may indicate that as long as she doesn’t “control” the ball a second time she may “touch” it. Decision 2 goes on to explain that if the keeper parries it, i. e., she chooses to not pick it up, she is in control of the ball but this implies if she slaps it but is unable tp pick it up, no control. So, am I to understand that in the original scenario, as per Advice, the restart would be a corner kick but per Law 12 an IFK for the opponents?

USSF answer (May 16, 2005):
The Law is clear: an indirect free kick must be awarded if the goalkeeper “touches the ball again with his hands after it has been released from his possession and has not touched any other player.” This point of Law is reinforced in Advioce 12.19:
12.19 SECOND TOUCH BY THE GOALKEEPER
A goalkeeper who has taken hand control of the ball and then released it back into play may not handle the ball again until it has been played by an opponent anywhere on the field or by a teammate who is outside of the penalty area.  This includes parrying the ball. Referees should note carefully Decision 2, which defines “control” and distinguishes this from an accidental rebound or a save.

This issue has nothing to do with either “control” or “possession” (as defined 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 sum it up: Use the Decision and Advice 12.19 to determine whether there was initial possession/control. Then look only for any TOUCH afterward.


ADVERTISING ON JERSEYS; EXCESSIVE CELEBRATION
Your question:
1. why commercial advertisings permitted only in front of jersey not on the short and stocking?

2. a player goal scored and goes toward flag post and moved at place . what action does the referee take?

USSF answer (May 16, 2005):
1. The rules permitting commercial advertising on uniforms are made by the competition authority (league, tournament, national association, etc.). Each competition has different rules.

2. We are uncertain just what you mean in this question. If you mean that a player removes a flag post for purposes of celebrating a goal, that would be considered to be excessive celebration and the player would be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card.


OFFSIDE–ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT OR NOT?
Your question:
Yesterday I lined a match in which the following occurred. An attacker was moving the ball downfield. A defender obtained the ball and kicked it up field. The attacker who is now in an offside position and has indicated by his body language that he is no longer involved in the play, turns around and walks upfield toward his end of the field. A team mate of the attacker who is in the offside position kicks the ball and it hits the attacker in the offside position who is not involved in the play. Does the AR signal for offside even though the attacker was not involved in the play? I did, the CR whistled offside and the match went on. Were we correct?

USSF answer (May 2, 2005):
Despite his best efforts to stay out of the fray, the player’s own teammate dragged him back into the play. Offside, because the player became actively involved through contact with the ball.


GOALKEEPER, FIELD PLAYER EXCHANGE POSITIONS
Your question:
Team A decides to change goal keepers as the game is being played, a field player takes the goalies shirt and plays keeper and the goalie plays the field. They are switching as the game is being played. There is no stoppage. The opposing team B comes down the field and takes a shot on goal, the new goalie makes the save with his hands and punts the ball out of bounds.

What is the call?

If team B scores a goal, what is the call?

If team B scores a goal that is deflected off the new goalies hands, what is the call?

USSF answer (May 2, 2005):
Law 4 tells us that any of the other players may change places with the goalkeeper, provided that the referee is informed before the change is made and that the change is made during a stoppage in the match. If they do it without either of those conditions being met, the referee allows play to continue and both players are cautioned for unsporting behavior at the next stoppage in play. The referee should not stop play merely to administer the cautions.

You need to remember that the person with the goalkeeper’s jersey IS the ‘keeper, even if he became the ‘keeper illegally. In other words, there can be no handling infringement by this person. Why? Because the fundamental signal that a person is a goalkeeper is the possession of the distinctive shirt, not how they got it.


EXTEND TIME FOR PENALTY KICK AT END OF PERIOD!!
Your question:
In the dying seconds of the game, there was a lot of action in front of the orange goal. The orange keeper was gathering himself up from a dive to the left. The ball came to a blue striker, about 6 yards in front of the goal, a little to the right. The orange keeper, still not quite on his feet, could perhaps cover half the height of the left third of the goal. The blue striker, with essentially 5/6 of the goal open, drilled a perfect high shot toward the right side of the goal mouth. Easy score… except for the lone orange fullback between the striker and the goal. The defender jumped high and, with both hands, deflected the ball over the crossbar. The referee immediately signalled that time had expired. What should have happened next?

USSF answer (May 2, 2005):
The referee should have awarded a penalty kick and extended the half until the penalty kick has been completed. Before allowing the penalty kick to be taken, the referee should also have sent off lone orange fullback for denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball.


STAY OUT OF SPACE THE PLAYERS NEED!!
Your question:
I was at a youth soccer game this past weekend where one of the teams were issued a corner kick. The player kicked in the ball and it hit the referee on the field – the referee made no attempt to avoid contact with the ball and actually was standing in the direct line between the corner and the goal. The referee picked up the ball and gave possession to the opposing team. I thought that the referee’s job was to avoid contact with the ball when possible. What is the opinion.

USSF answer (May 3, 2005):
This was obviously a case of poor referee positioning. The referee should have moved to allow the ball to pass, if at all possible. The referee is considered to be part of the field and the ball hitting the referee does not affect play in any way, other than redirecting the ball to an unwanted place. In no event may the referee give the opposing team a free kick for this.


CHANGING THE DECISION
Your question:
The situation: A defender on team A, leading 1-0, clears the ball up and out of the stadium, about 35 yards up the touch line with less than 2 minutes left in a U-19 game. As AR I watched the ball’s flight and directed a bench player for team B where it was. I turned back when I heard the Center tell another player on Team B to grab the extra ball behind the goal, and took my position with the next-to-last defender. To my astonishment, the Center gave team B a free kick. As time was running out they took it quickly, and it was headed in for a goal. After the goal team A asked why it wasn’t a throw-in, and the Center admitted he made a mistake. The question: Law 5 says a decision can be changed if play has not been restarted. Was it too late to disallow the goal, and what would the restart be?

USSF answer (May 4, 2005):
The USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” tells us: “5.14 CHANGING A DECISION ON AN INCORRECT RESTART “If the referee awards a restart for the wrong team and realizes his mistake before the restart is taken, then the restart may be corrected even though the decision was announced after the restart took place. This is based on the established principle that the referee¹s initial decision takes precedence over subsequent action. The visual and verbal announcement of the decision after the restart has already occurred is well within the Spirit of the Law, provided the decision was made before the restart took place.”

The referee should have been paying closer attention to what was going on and you, as AR, should have brought the erroneous restart to his attention immediately. Unfortunately, it would appear that too much time elapsed, so the goal must be scored.

The referee must include full details of the error in the match report.


PLAYER UNIFORMS MUST BE COMPLETE AND TIDY FOR KICKS FROM THE MARK
Your question:
Must players participating in kicks to determine outcome wear shinguards. If kicks are not technically part of the match, I cannot see that they are needed but I cannot find anything to either validate this thought or mandate that they are worn. Secondly, if one player asks to remove them … would you consider it “Fair Play” to announce to all that they are not needed. I would hate to delay an already drawn-out affair, but would not want to be questioned about that decision later either way

USSF answer (May 8, 2005):
In the back of the Law book, under PROCEDURES TO DETERMINE THE WINNER OF A MATCH, you will find this entry regarding kicks from the penalty mark:
“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.”


SIGNALING FOR THE RESTART
Your question:
According to 13.5 “Enforcing the Required Distance” on a direct kick, 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.” Here then, is my question: If the referee says to the attacker “go ahead” and doesn’t blow a whistle, is that considered a “clear signal”? And if so, is any consequent goal valid since the defending team was waiting for a whistle?

USSF answer (May 8, 2005):
Advice 13.5 refers to what is called the “ceremonial free kick,” which is what must be conducted when the referee has already held up the kick because it is impossible for the kicking team–the team against whom the foul was committed–to take a free kick. The Law does not require that the referee blow a whistle. It requires only a signal, which might be a nod, a wave, a brief word, or a whistle. And the Law makes no requirement at all for notifying the defending team that a kick is about to be taken. Why should the referee give an advantage to the team that committed the foul?


BE POLITE AND PROFESSIONAL IN DEALING WITH ALL PARTICIPANTS!
Your question:
Is it permissible, after a game, for a coach to approach a referee for an explanation of a call during the game?

USSF answer (May 8, 2005):
It is certainly permissible, but the referee is not required to give the coach any explanation. A perceived “wrong” answer can only exacerbate some situations.

Some referees, while normally very nice people–just like most coaches–tend to get a little edgy when questioned about calls by someone not a referee or an assessor. Surely coaches would not appreciate it if the referee were to come up after the game and ask why the coach had instructed the players to do something that allowed the opponents to score the winning goal.


“MANDATORY” CAUTIONS
Your question:
I have been a Grade 8 Referee for 11 years and I work mostly youth games. Each year I print out the current text of the 7 Cautionable and 7 Sending Off offenses. I am curious as to the logic of making few cautionable offenses mandatory and most discretionary. Can you explain why ŒUnsporting Behavior/j.Unfairly distracts or impedes and opponent performing a throw-in¹ is a mandatory caution yet similar offenses such as ŒUnsporting Behavior/h. Interferes with or prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from the hands into play¹, Delays Restart of Play/all items, and Failure to Respect Distance/all items only warrant a discretionary caution? Isn¹t the issue with all of these offenses the delay of the game? The latter two, Delay Restart and Failure to Respect Distance are far more common and disruptive to the game in my experience. Just last week I centered a Cup game and it was obvious that one team was coached to send three players to stand less than one foot in front of the ball after their opponent had been awarded a free kick. I see this all too often and it is an obvious delaying tactic. Why isn¹t this offense dealt with more seriously, at least on par with getting in the way of a throw-in attempt? Delaying the restart of a free kick in the offensive zone is surely more serious than impeding a throw-in. Free kicks are often goal scoring opportunities whereas throw-ins are usually not. And while correcting equipment is one of my pet peeves, how does re-entry without permission warrant harsher treatment than the delaying tactics previously mentioned?

USSF answer (May 8, 2005):
The “mandatory” cautions are those that are specifically described and required by an individual Law. There are 3 in Law 3, 1 in Law 4, 4 in Law 12, and 1 in Law 15. All other cautions are discretionary.


TRICKERY?
Your question:
What is trickery? Under Restrictions on the goalkeeper page 53 Rule 12-7 Note: Players may not use trickery to circumvent Article 3 and 4. Examples: Players may not flick the ball with their feet to their own head, chest, and knee and then pass it to their own goalkeeper who touches it with the hand. This also applies to flicking the ball to a teammate who then plays the ball back to the keeper. Remember, this same principle is to be used on throw-ins.

The reason for this email is that a COACH CLAIMS THAT THEY HAVE BEEN USING THIS PRACTICE all season, OF THROWING the ball to a teammate, who then DELIBERATELY plays the ball back to the keeper. This is NOT a violation until the keeper uses his or her hands. This act was viewed as a violation and the opposing team was awarded an INDIRECT KICK.

IS THIS STATEMENT ENTIRELY TRUE?? Can an player not pass the ball to a team mate to head/chest etc to the GK?

USSF answer (May 12, 2005):
Sorry, we do not deal with high school rules, which are often not applicable to the world game of soccer.

When considering the possibility of trickery, the referee must decide if the action was natural (a normal sort of play, the sort of thing you would see in any sequence of play) or contrived (an artificial, unnatural play, which, in the referee’s opinion, is intended solely for the purpose of circumventing the Law and preventing the opponents from challenging for the ball).

In a match played under the Laws of the Game, the throw you describe is entirely legal but the subsequent play by the teammate (all other things equal) is not. However, this is not trickery, just a simple violation of Law 12, which does not arise until and unless the ‘keeper actually touches the ball with his hands. But definitely not trickery.


NO INTERFERENCE ALLOWED WITH ‘KEEPER’S PUNT
Your question:
Some refs are questioning whether or not it is legal for a player to play the ball after the goal keeper has punted the ball and the ball is only inches from leaving his foot. They are saying this is fair since the law says “it is an offense for a player to prevent a goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands”. In this case the ball has left his foot but only by inches. I say the player is guilty of unsporting behavior because he is interfering with putting the ball back into play. What do you say? Where is this written?

USSF answer (May 12, 2005):
Caution for unsporting behavior. The intent of the Law is to give the goalkeeper room to put the ball into play for everyone. There can be no interference during the entire act of distribution.


NO-SHOW ASSISTANT REFEREE
Your question:
In a recent competitive U-17 match, the assigned ARs did not arrive by game time. By mutual consent, play began with parent volunteers running the sides. Midway through the first half, one assigned AR arrived and replaced the parent volunteer as on Team A¹s attacking side. At the half, the Referee and AR discussed concerns about Team A¹s attacking players and Team B¹s defenders ³getting chippy² with each other. Believing that the remaining parent volunteer could not handle the situation (in fact, it would seem the parent volunteer had no authority to handle the situation), the Referee switched the AR to the other side of the field. As a result, for most of the game, Team A was subject to the AR¹s authority to call offside violations, while offside violations by Team B could only be called by the Referee from a position behind the play. In that second half, two breakaway attacks by Team A were stopped by the AR¹s offside calls. Team B scored one goal on a breakaway by a player who appeared to be in an offside position when the ball was played to him. The question is whether the AR switch was permissible. Should not the Referee have monitored the player situation himself from his central field position?

USSF answer (May 12, 2005):
The referee is allowed to place the assistant referee where that official is necessary for match control. This is particularly true when one of the ARs has not appeared. In such cases the AR runs one half of the field, using the flag, while the referee covers the other side of the field as well as the center of the field. Only the referee is allowed to use a whistle.


REFEREE, REMEMBER WHOSE GAME IT IS
Your question:
Had an atypical situation in last weekend’s U-Girls 16 recreational game. Four players were absent, including three of our four referees. Two of the four are the sole keepers on their school teams, and parents have told me that they are playing rec soccer to have field time. So, when we were down 5-0 at the half and no one else was willing to go in goal for the second half  (one girl has played in the past, but three weeks ago gave up 3 goals in the first half visiting this same field–she refused to do it again) I put the keeper shirt (yellow with striped black “bat wing” design) on one of the midfielders and put an extra sweeper in the defense. It actually worked-we played much better and it was more than 20 minutes before they scored their 6th.

After the goal, I pulled out that midfielder and put in a forward who was too large for the keeper’s jersey. She wore our gold t-shirt alternate jersey over her royal blue jersey (opponents in black and white). This was the situation for several minutes, during which the opposing coach brought me a green pinny from his bag and asked me to put in on his keeper.  I told him no thanks-I don’t consider them safe in game play.

Three minutes later an opponent threw an elbow into the gut of the girl who didn’t want to go in goal and she went down. Center allowed play to continue (the girl screened the foul-he never saw it) until he saw she wasn’t getting up and stopped play. As he signaled me to come out, the opposing coach walked up to the AR with the pinny, spoke to him, and handed him the pinny. The AR and I were walking onto the field about 10 yds apart and I said to him “She’s not going to wear that-I don’t consider it safe.”

My question for Ask a Referee is: Would “She’ll wear it if we tell her to,” spoken with a challenging tone, be considered an appropriate use of the Assistant Referee’s authority?

After I checked on my player, the Center and AR told me my player was going to put on the pinny. I reiterated that she was not going to wear it because it wasn’t safe. The center said that his AR needed to be able to distinguish between himself and my player so that he could do his job. Before I could offer to find something else, my first half keeper walked up and said she’d go back in goal. We were given enough time for her to get her gear, and the situation resolved itself.

Since we started the game with a gold and black keeper shirt, I would have expected the crew to wear red. But since they didn’t certainly the problem had to be resolved, no argument there. But I was offended by his tone and his position that a officiating crew felt it could require a player to put on an additional piece of equipment provided by an opposing coach without even speaking to me first as the coach of that player.

Did they overstep their authority. Is it not limited to “She can’t remain on the field in that shirt” and leave it to me to pull her off and come up with an alternative?

USSF answer (May 12, 2005):
No official, whether referee, assistant referee, or fourth official, should ever speak to anyone in a “challenging” tone. Referees should be firm and professional, but not aggressive.

As to the goalkeeper jersey, no official has the authority to declare that a player must wear any particular item of equipment. The referee’s authority extends only to enforcing the requirements of Law 3 and 4 as regards the keeper’s jersey. If, despite having accepted the gold color earlier in the match, the referee decides that the gold color cannot be worn by the keeper, the most that can be done is to require a change in color but not to force the wearing of a specific jersey. If the referees chose to wear gold despite the original partial conflict with the goalkeeper, they should not quibble over the tee shirt. Nor should referees accept information of any sort on the other team’s colors from the opposing team’s coach.

Referees need to remember that they are there for the players and the good of the game, not vice versa.


CORRECT RESTART?
Your question:
My question is from the recent BOLTON WANDERERS v CHELSEA match. The Referee correctly cautioned a Chelsea defender (Claude Makelele ) for “unsporting behaviour” because he impeded a throw-in. The Referee awarded an indirect kick.

Shouldn’t the throw be retaken? Doesn’t the misconduct occur PRIOR to the ball going into play? After the ball is in play, isn’t the defender allowed to attempt to play the ball?

FIFA’ 2004 Q&A page 44:
5. An opponent stands in front of a player at a throw-in to impede him. What action does the referee take?
He allows the throw-in to be taken if the opponent remains stationary and inside the field of play. If he moves or gesticulates to distract the thrower, he is cautioned for unsporting behaviour.

USSF answer (May 14, 2005):
As the IFAB Q&A suggests, the throw-in should be retaken if there has been interference. Something else may have occurred that we are unaware of to cause the referee to restart with an indirect free kick following the caution.


STEPPING ON PEOPLE’S TOES
Your question:
We were in a game last Saturday where the girls on my team were complaining that the girls on the other team were going out of their way to step on their toes. They said that they were looking down at our girls feet to make sure that they landed on top of their feet. One of our girls had to come out because her feet were so bruised from this. Whether or not this is true. . .Is this illegal? If so what should a referee call?

USSF answer (April 28, 2005):
No, this is not legal. The referee should call kicking and award a direct free kick (or penalty kick, if appropriate).


IMPEDING THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
High school soccer match (Varsity girls), Corner kick situation. Team B taking corner kick and places a player right next to the keeper. Team A Keeper, after the ball has been struck, trying to get to the ball or position herself in a better position, is screened (not touched) by the Team B player. During this time the Keeper hooks her arm around the player to “get her out of the way” and proceeds to get to the ball. Can you clarify the ruling on this particular situation. From what I was told the keeper cannot be touched inside the 6 yard box, But in this situation the keeper did the touching.

And if Team B player is called for obstruction what is the ruling?

USSF answer (April 28, 2005):
We are not authorized to speak on the rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations, but we can say with some confidence that this answer pertains under the Laws of the Game: If, prior to a corner kick, a player deliberately positions herself so as to obstruct the view and limit the ability of the goalkeeper to play the ball–and does not make any attempt to play the ball herself–then she is guilty of impeding the progress of the goalkeeper. As this offense occurred before the pushing by the goalkeeper, the team of the player who impeded the goalkeeper is punished by the award of an indirect free kick to the goalkeeper’s team.


ENTERING THE PENALTY AREA EARLY
Your question:
I have been watching clips of MLS games online. Several of them have featured penalty kicks. What I noticed is before the kick is taken, a player or players run within the penalty area. I have taken note that none of the kicks have been ordered retaken, even when it has been a player of the same team taking the kick. Why is it that the kicks are not being retaken? One example has a player of the same team standing almost next to the kicker right after the kick was taken. It is my understanding of the Laws of the Game that when an offensive player incroaches into the penalty area before the kick is taken, the kick must be retaken if it enters the goal.

USSF answer (April 28, 2005):
If a player of the opposing team enters early and the goal is scored, there is no need to retake the penalty kick. If, in this case, the goal is not scored, play continues. If a member of the kicking team enters early and a goal is scored, the kick must be retaken. If the goal is not scored, play continues.

The only other conceivable reason for this (aside from possible referee error) is that the referee has deemed the infringement trifling or doubtful.


NO TWO-REFEREE GAMES, PLEASE!
Your question:
Recently I reffed a U10 match with another referee in a 2 man system. During a throw in for the red team, the black team(thinking it was their throw in) decided to sub 3 players without being called onto the field. The red team threw the ball in, dribbled down and scored as the black team was illegally subsituting their 3 defenders. After I signaled the goal, the other referee said that the black team had illegally substituted and that the ball must be called back to the touchline for a re-throw. Of course the red team coach was livid for being denied a goal. What should have been the proper call?

USSF answer (April 27, 2005):
This case clearly demonstrates one of the problems with the dual system of control: things happen that go unobserved and uncorrected for too long. Of course, it would be easier if the referees communicated a bit better with one another. It also illustrates the problems with playing under rules of competition that run counter to Law 3 and Law 5. It’s not simply an issue of efficiency or effectiveness: 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.).

After cautioning the three black team players for entering the field without permission and the three other black team players for leaving the field without permission, the referee will award the goal and restart with a place kick, aka kick-off, for the black team.


“TOUCHED” EQUALS “PLAYED BY” EQUALS “MADE CONTACT WITH”
Your question:
A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of The Referee, involved in active play by:
* interfering with play; or
* interfering with an opponent; or
* gaining an advantage by being in that position.

My question is what is the definition of “touches” in this context? It’s always been my impression that a player should be playing the ball intentionally. But this implies that if one offensive player plays the ball forward and it deflects off of another offensive player, the last “touch” is what determines when the ball was played toward determining if someone is to be penalized for being offside.

The scenario that brings this up is as follows:
Offensive player A plays the ball toward the goal in an attempt to lead one of her strikers, Player B. At the time A plays the ball, player B is onside. The ball played by player A goes into a mix of players while Player B is outside that group. The ball hits someone in the group but the AR is unable to determine whether it “touches” an offensive player or defensive player. But because of the deflection, when player B receives the ball, she is two yards past the group of players all alone collecting the ball and in on the goalie solo where she scores. Since the AR could not determine whether it had touched an offensive or defensive player, the AR allows the play to be onside. Before awarding the goal, in consultation with the Center, the Center was also unable to determine who touched the ball in the “mixer”. Therefore the goal was awarded.

A. Was this the proper procedure? (I hope so as I was the AR).
B. If it was determined that the ball deflected off of an offensive player within the mix and was noted by either the AR or the Center, should player B be penalized for offside since the law says “at the moment the ball was touched” which in the case would imply that B should be penalized for being offside.
C. If it was touched by a defender, should player B be penalized? (I would think this is clearly NO but just to be sure.

USSF answer (April 26, 2005):
Under the Laws of the Game, “touched” equals “played by” equals “made contact with.”

To your questions:
A. If the assistant referee cannot be absolutely clear that the player (in this case, B) was in an offside position and actively involved in play at the moment the ball was played by a TEAMMATE, then there is no offside.
B. Yes, offside.
C. No, not offside. The ball must have been played or touched by or have made contact with a teammate.


IF YOU COACH, COACH, BUT DON’T TELL THE REFEREES HOW TO DO THEIR JOB!
Your question:
I have a question for you that has happened to me for a couple of games now. A coach/referee grade 8 has at half time has gone over to assistant referee’s refing a game with me speaking to them and instructing them in how to make calls and when to. What can or should I do when this happens? I know the man is a good referee but I find this set of actions very unprofessional.

USSF answer (April 26, 2005):
This is gamesmanship of the worst sort. Firmly and politely remind such coaches that today they are coaches, not referees, and that their behavior is irresponsible. If such behavior continues, they will be expelled.


GOALKEEPER MOVES FORWARD EARLY ON PENALTY KICK
Your question:
As AR in a state cup match earlier today, I had the dubious pleasure of calling encroachment on the goalkeeper when she made a save. Because she made the save and immediately distributed the ball, I raised my flag and stood at my position until the center saw me and blew the whistle. Later, after the match, a criticism offered by a parent spectator who also refs was that I should have been more subtle with my signal. I had raised the flag because it was part of the pregame, and if I had been “subtle” the center may have missed my statuesque pose and proceded with the game. What were the correct mechanics?

USSF answer (April 21, 2005):
We are not precisely certain what you mean by “encroachment” by the goalkeeper. The only reasonable assumption to make is that you mean that the goalkeeper moved forward from the goal line before a penalty kick was in play. If that is so, then here is the answer.

There are no “correct” mechanics for what you did. You followed the instructions given by the referee during the pregame conference, which is precisely what assistant referees are told to do in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees”: “Waits for the referee to begin supervising the restart and then moves quickly to the intersection of the goal line and the penalty area line to prepare for the duties assigned by the referee in the pregame conference.”


NO FOOTBALL CLEATS!
Your question:
Is it illegal to play soccer in football cleats and if so what is the documented danger of such a practice?

USSF answer (April 21, 2005):
It is illegal to play soccer in football cleats of the traditional sort with toe cleats, even if the toe cleats are cut off. Nor is it legal to play in baseball cleats. There is no documentation on this, other than the requirement that players’ equipment must be safe for them and all participants. Traditional football cleats are unsafe and not permitted in soccer games.


SHOWING CARDS AFTER A MATCH HAS BEEN COMPLETED
Your question:
May a referee show cards to players after the game is over?

USSF answer (April 20, 2005):
Yes, the referee may display the cards after the game is over but the referee is still in the immediate vicinity of the field. However, that is not a matter of any moment for this particular question. Even if no cards are to be shown after the game, the referee must still submit a full report of such events to the proper authorities. That is all a disciplinary panel needs to make a decision.

What counts in punishment for players is what the referee says in the report, not whether the referee showed a card.


GOALKEEPER AND FIELD PLAYER EXCHANGE POSITIONS
Your question:
I witnessed a game this week where one team, due to school vacations, only had 11 players, two of whom were normally goalies. Thus this team was forced to play one on the field. Neither one, however, was in great shape to play a full game on a warm day, so every 10-15 minutes their coach switched the two of them. Since both were on the field (and had to be, since no subs were available), this obviously delayed play for a few moments while the goalie jersey was exchanged. The referee allowed the first switch but refused to allow the next one. He told the team that they would have to play with 10 on the field while the goalie-to-be went to the sideline and put on another goalie jersey. Then they could sub and continue to play with 10 until the goalie who left the field had her jersey/gloves off and was ready to sub in as a field player.

My questions. How often can a team switch goalies in a situation like this, where it does not appear to be just a time-wasting maneuver? Even if some time is lost, can’t that just be added in as stoppage time? (Note: this was not in a tournament or any situation where adding time is not allowed.)

USSF answer (April 20, 2005):
The team may make the switch as often as it wishes, following the guidelines outlined by the referee in your situation. Any time lost is simply added to the time in the period of play.


PLEASE DON’T INVENT FOULS
Your question:
The opposing team had the ball right in front of our goal and it seemed like every player on the field was within the penalty box, kicking the ball every which way. (This was a U-10 match before you wonder what the heck they thought they were doing – lol!)

One of the opposing players kicked the ball toward the goal, our goalie dove on it. As he dove, another one of their players jumped between him and the ball so that when he hit the ground, cradling the ball, the opposing player’s leg was trapped between him and the ball.

The referee called a foul on the goalie for “tackling”. The coach felt if anything should have been called, it should have been on the opposing player for “interference with the goalie”.

Your take??

USSF answer (April 20, 2005):
Our call? No foul either way. Both seem to have been playing the ball. As long as the goalkeeper retained control, the referee should have let it go.


REPORTING PLAYER INJURY IS IMPORTANT!
Your question:
At a recent tournament in Missouri, a player in a U15 final was struck in the face by a hard shot. The referee stopped play to evaluate the injury. The match was over within five minutes after play was restarted.

After the game, one of the coaches of that team asked the referee to make a note of the injury on the game card and/or to complete a game report in order to record the event for insurance purposes. The referee refused.

The player had surgery for a torn retina and will miss 2 weeks of school and 6 weeks of sports.

Is there an official ussf policy regarding any suggestion/requirement for referee responsibilities in situations like this?

USSF answer (April 20, 2005):
The referee must note any serious injuries on the match report, no matter what the level of play.


STOPPING PLAY TO CAUTION A PLAYER
Your question:
[A referee from another country asks] During the game, there is a penalty. The player of team ‘A’ going to shoot, he ran ans shoot and….
a) The player of team ‘B’ take his shoes and throw it to ball and crash with ball.
b) The player of team ‘A’ take his shoes and throw it to ball and crash with ball.
c)The player of team ‘A’ and team ‘b’ take his shoes and throw it to ball and crash with ball

opinion?

USSF answer (April 20, 2005):
Can it be true that a player of the team taking the penalty kick would sabotage his own team’s effort to score a goal?

Your question suggests that the ball was already kicked by the identified kicker (and thus in play). If that is true, then these are the correct answers:
a) If the goal is scored, the player from team B is cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior. The correct restart is a kick-off. If the goal is not scored, the player is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. The correct restart is a retake of the penalty kick.
b) If the goal is scored, the player from team A is cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior. The correct restart is a retake of the penalty kick. If the goal is not scored, the player of team A is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. If the ball left the field, then the correct restart is a corner kick or a goal kick. If the ball remained in play, the referee stops play and, after cautioning the player of team A, restarts with a direct free kick for team B.
c) Because the kick was not properly completed, it must be retaken. But first the referee must caution both players for unsporting behavior and show the yellow card.


STOPPING PLAY TO CAUTION A PLAYER
Your question:
During a match, near midfield there is a play on the ball by White 9 and Blue 8. During the challenge white 9 simulates a dive in attempt to draw a foul. Blue 8 wins the ball and proceeds to goal. The referee applies the advantage clause. Blue 8 shoots on goal and the goalie collects the ball. The referee now stops play and proceeds to move back up field to issue a caution to white 9 for diving. While he is issuing the caution, the keeper, who is still holding the ball, kicks out at blue 8 (this is a deliberate kick but not a malicious kick). This is noticed by the AR who raises his flag. There is a conference between referee and AR.  The referee then . . .

What should the restart be? Where should the restart be? Should there be a sanction for the goalkeeper, if so what is it?

USSF answer (April 14, 2005):
The restart should be an indirect free kick from the place where the original infringement occurred. Why on earth would the referee have stopped the game to run back up field to punish non-dangerous misconduct? It would have been better to wait until the ball went out of play (for whatever reason) and then punish the misconduct.

The goalkeeper must be sent off for violent conduct and shown the red card. This could have been prevented by not stopping play to run back up the field. The intelligent referee will keep play moving along whenever possible. A busy player doesn’t have as much time to get into trouble as an idle player.


“KICKING” IN KICK RESTARTS
Your question:
Since the change to Law 13, “the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves”, an occasional team has resorted to trickery to circumvent the following: ” … the kicker does not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player”. It happens more often on corner kicks when the defending team is usually more than ten yards from the ball.

The first player sets the ball for a corner kick, taps it lightly so that it moves indiscernibly to opponents. The player then pretends to move away, leaving the ball for another teammate to take the kick. The second teammate approaches the ball and then starts to dribble it. All of this is legal, however it appears like trickery to circumvent the rules.

More often than not this causes one of the officials to think there has been an infraction. The ensuing interaction between official(s) and the team often results in more serious problems. Another problem occurs when the defending team is aware of this and treats every situation like this, then there can be failure to be ten yards away when an attacking team’s second player thinks he really is the first player and was not trying to play this trick.

What opinion does USSF or FIFA have on this?

USSF answer (April 13, 2005):
The Law should be enforced as written–if, in the opinion of the referee, the player actually “kicked” the ball within the meaning of the Law, then the kick should be allowed. If not, then punish the kicking team by making them retake the kick. Under no circumstances should the referee caution any kicking team member for this, as has happened elsewhere than in your state.

As to kicking the ball within the meaning of the Law, your best reference is the Addendum to the Memorandum 1997 on the changes in the Laws:
QUOTE
General Note Regarding Restarts
“Memorandum 1997” discussed amendments to the Laws of the Game affecting all free kick, corner kick, penalty kick, and kick-off restarts. These amendments centered on the elimination of the ball moving the “distance of its circumference” before being considered in play. In all such cases, the ball is now in play when it is “kicked and moves” (free kicks and corner kicks) or when it is “kicked and moves forward” (kick-offs and penalty kicks). IFAB has emphasized that only minimal movement is needed to meet this requirement.
USSF Advice to Referees: further clarification from IFAB suggests that, particularly in the case of free kicks and corner kicks, such minimal movement might include merely touching the ball with the foot. Referees are reminded that they must observe carefully the placing of the ball and, when it is properly located, any subsequent touch of the ball with the foot is sufficient to put the ball into play. Referees must distinguish between such touching of the ball to direct it to the proper location for the restart and kicking the ball to perform the restart itself. In situations where the ball must move forward before it is in play (kick-offs and penalty kicks), there should be less difficulty in applying the new language since such kicks have a specific location which is easily identified.
END OF QUOTE

This “touch” of the ball must be in a kicking movement, not simply a tap on the top of the ball.


TIME WASTING?
Your question:
During a top-level men’s amateur game, Team A is leading 5:3 with about 15 minutes from time. With the ball on AR2’s side of the field, and the ball being on the touch-line (half the ball was in-play and half was out-of-bounds), Team A’s defender casually kicks the ball 30 yards out of bounds. The nearest Team B attacker 10 yards away and nobody pressuring him to play the ball.

I felt Team A’s defender was trying to waste time in order to preserve his team’s 2-goal lead and cautioned him for Delaying a Restart since it obviously took a few minutes to re-start play. This player also had an earlier caution for dissent and this was his second booking. Was I correct in cautioning for Delaying a Restart or, if a caution was to be given, should I have booked him for Unsporting Behavior for an act which shows lack of respect of the game (Citation: 7+7 Cautionable and Sending-Off Offenses: Professional Division Points System)

USSF answer (April 13, 2005):
No, you were not correct to caution him at all. He could not be cautioned for delaying the restart, as he was the one who caused the restart, not prevented its being taken. And his action was not disrespectful of the game, it is a traditional part of the game.

What you should have done was to speak loudly enough to him so that others on his team could hear you say, “I am adding time for that.” And you could, of course, have reminded him that he was sitting on a previous caution. Somehow that helps keep players straight. Actually giving a second caution for this offense could be dangerous to your health, not to mention your control of the match.


PUSHY ARs
Your question:
My question concerns the proper procedure for the center ref to take if he/she feels that one of the ARs is calling too many offsides, that is, they are seeing offside infractions that the center does not feel are taking place, possibly from being overzealous to the point of trying to detect offside when the determining factor is a matter of inches and not feet. This question arose from a U14 girls match wherein play was dominant in one half of the field throughout the whole game. In the first half 2-3 offside calls were made against the red team by AR-2. Then within about 10-15 minutes into the second half, AR-1, who now had most of the play in their portion of the field, had signalled for offside approximately 5 times, with perhaps two or three of those calls being seen and seeming valid to the center ref. Some of these calls took the center ref completely by surprise, as he let play continue, unaware of the offside call further back toward the midfield, until other players spoke up about it. The center ref began to feel that the AR was sort of “splitting hairs” that in soccer terms might be considered trifling. The center ref, in themselves not seeing some of these offside infractions, began to feel that the flow of the game was being squelched by the AR’s continual offside calls every few minutes. I would appreciate learning what would be considered the proper procedure for both the center ref and also for the AR in this situation.

Eventually the center ref asked the AR to hold back a little bit, and subsequently waved off two or three later offside calls, when it appeared that the AR had not changed their hairline standard of determining offside. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this question.

USSF answer (April 12, 2005):
Without going into a full review of what does or does not constitute offside and the job of the assistant referee, both of which are fully covered in the USSF publications “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” and “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees,” we might comment that this entire subject is best covered in the pregame conference among the officials. In the pregame conference, the referee can outline what he or she wants the ARs to signal and NOT to signal, keeping in mind the information in the Advice and Guide. In turn, the ARs can ask the referee for clarification on matters related to good game management. In no case should the AR insist on a decision by the referee or go against the instructions of the referee. Such an AR might well be relieved of his or her duties and reported to the appropriate authorities, as suggested in Law 6.


THREE QUESTIONS
Your question:
Situation 1: A parent on the sideline sounds a very loud foghorn after each time her son’s team scores a goal. After the fourth goal, a player on the opposing team immediately shouts an obscenity in anger/frustration at the parent before the kick-off. The Referee immediately runs over to the player and issues a yellow card for unsporting behavior. Was this the correct action as the parent was not a player or substitute? Also as a referee, do we have the right to send off a parent if we feel her language/action is disruptive to the game, but it is not dissenting or abusive?

Situation 2: A player on the white team is dribbling up the touch line in front of his bench. A player from the blue team cleanly tackles the ball and takes out the white player while kicking the ball out of bounds. A substitute out of revenge picks up the ball and violently throws it at the blue player. The obvious call would be to send off the substitute, but would white have to play short a man since it was not a player on the field?

Situation 3: This is a question about referee procedure. I recently worked a game as an AR. I saw a player on the Red team legally shielding the ball with her body. A player from the Green team came up from behind to play the ball. The red team player then threw her elbow backwards in an obvious attempt to strike the green player. I waved my flag, but the referee’s back was to me. I continued to wave until the ball went out of bounds and play was restarted at which point I understood it was too late to make a call. So, 1) was it right that the center referee did not speak to me when the play was stopped to see why I waved my flag. 2)How is an AR supposed to get the referee’s attention if the referee’s back is to the AR, should I have yelled, or run onto the field before the restart of play? 3)Should I have just waved my flag once then put it down when I didn’t get the referee’s attention? I understand it is the AR’s job to “assist” not “insist,” but I thought the play deserved a card.

USSF answer (April 12, 2005):
1. The correct punishment for the use of obscenity by a player is immediate dismissal and red card for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures. However, some proactive work by the referee could have prevented the act in question.

The referee has no actual authority over the spectators at a game unless they invade the pitch or interfere with the game in any way. If those spectators are disrupting the game and bringing it into disrepute through the use of tactics that are counter to the spirit of the game, such as actions clearly intended to taunt the opposition, the referee may inform that team’s coach that the game will be suspended until the nuisance is removed and terminated if it is not removed. Full details will be included in the referee’s match report.

2. The white team’s substitute is sent off for violent conduct and shown the red card. The white team does not have to play short, as the substitute was not part of the team on the field.

3. If the red team’s player attempted to strike the green player that is serious foul play, for which the red team’s player must be sent off and shown the red card. If it is clear that the referee would have punished the act if he or she had been able to see it, the assistant referee should raise the flag and then wave it when the referee is looking toward him or her and, if the referee does not notice the flag within a reasonable amount of time, attempt in other ways to attract the referee’s attention. The referee should cover this situation during the pregame conference with the assistant referees. While the AR might lower the flag in those instances where too much play has gone on after the flag was raised, this is not the case when serious misconduct is involved. While this particular case may have been only “attempted violence,” it is still serious enough to bring to the referee’s attention at the next stoppage.

What is likely more important is what the referee and the other AR were doing all this time. The TEAM of officials should be in CONSTANT COMMUNICATION with one another during the match. The referee should look at ARs for information, ARs should look at one another and at the referee.


GRADE 12 = ASSISTANT REFEREE ONLY
Your question:
At what level of play or age group can a Grade 12 referee ref up to.

USSF answer (April 11, 2005):
A Grade 12 is an Assistant Referee and can work only as an AR on any level game their experience prepares them for. Please note that a Grade 12 CANNOT be a REFEREE on any game–only an AR on those games they are competent to be an AR on.


WHEELCHAIR-BOUND PLAYER
Your question:
We have a seven-year-old girl who is wheelchair bound, no use of the legs and partial use of one arm and full use of the other arm. She wants to play in the match.

We believe the wheelchair presents a significant hazard to all players and the referee. The girl cannot kick the ball, she can only hit it with the chair.

This wheelchair is capable of turning on a dime and moving in a straight line faster than any player that age can run. So far there have been no injuries but there have been some near misses.

USSF answer (April 11, 2005):
Safety of the players should always be the primary concern of referees, coaches, and administrators. The Federation firmly believes that all who wish to play should be given the opportunity, as long as there is no danger to themselves or to others. However, a wheelchair on the field is inherently dangerous to both the user and to other players. In addition, a wheelchair-bound player who cannot use her legs and must rely completely on mechanical means to play the ball cannot fulfill the requirements of the Laws of the Game.

This answer applies to matches which involve players who are not comparably handicapped. In short, the primary danger this player presents is to other players not similarly handicapped. A match in which all players were in wheelchairs might provide a reasonably acceptable level of safety.

NOTE: This answer was also sent to the asker’s State Referee Administrator for further distribution.


“REDUCE TO EQUATE”
Your question:
I hope you can understand me, i dont speak english very good. 🙁

Question: when the match was finished,
Team A->8 players;
team B ->7 players.
They have to shoot 5 penalties in order to know what team win.

The referee say to Team A that they can be 7 players. Now, team A and team B have the same players. The captain of Team B, tells us that 3 players cannot shoot because they are injured.

Team A have to quit 3 players too?

USSF answer (April 10, 2005):
The principle you are asking about is called in English ‘reduce to equate’. Introduced into The Laws of the Game in 2001, the principle ensures that teams begin the kicks with the same number of players.

You asked whether team A must reduce its numbers by 3, so that both teams would then begin the kicks with only 4 players. That is certainly legal, as the requirement for a minimum of 7 players does not apply to kicks from the penalty mark, because kicks from the penalty mark are not part of the game itself.

If, in the opinion of the referee, the team B players were truly injured before the game ended and they cannot participate in kicks from the penalty mark, then the referee will ask team A to reduce to 4 players. However, if the referee believes that the players on team B were not truly injured and that this is an attempt by team B to remove those players who are not good at penalty kicks, then the referee will instruct team B to continue with the seven players. (And, if the referee believes the ‘injury’ is feigned, misconduct would be considered. This would also require a report to the competition authority–i. e., league.) Once the kicks begin, players on either team who must leave because of injury will not cause a reduction in the other team.


FOUL AT TAKING OF PENALTY KICK
Your question:
Both teams are properly set for a penalty kick in regular time. (Not during time extended at the end of a half to complete the kick, and not during kicks from the mark tiebreaker.)  The referee gives the signal to proceed, and the kick is taken.  While the kick is moving forward, a defender violently strikes an attacker.  What should be done?  Obviously the defender should be sent off.

There has been debate over whether the PK must be retaken, under the provision that it was “not complete”.  Some have understood that “completeness” of a PK refers to extraordinary happenings which occur while the ball is still in the initial forward movement – outside interference or the ball bursting.  Others say it applies to any aspect of play immediately after the kick is taken – including Law 12 violations – and that Law 14 says the kick must be retaken.

Can the wise referee allow play to continue for a short moment to see the outcome of the kick, and apply advantage and allow the goal if the ball scores? Or must the kick be retaken?

USSF answer (April 10, 2005):
Having been awarded a penalty kick, the team MUST be allowed a fair chance of the kick being completed–whether it results in a goal or not. Anything that interferes with completion of the penalty kick (fan running onto the field, dog playing with the ball, the ball bursting on its way in, a goalkeeper committing misconduct by throwing a shoe/rock/jersey/etc. at the ball and deflecting it, or a member of the defending team violently striking a member of the kicking team) means that the penalty kick was not “completed.” Therefore, the penalty kick must be retaken after the referee sends off the defender who committed violent conduct.

In this situation, the intelligent referee will hesitate a moment before stopping play to see if the goal is scored. This ensures that the “injured” team is not unjustly deprived of the opportunity to score a goal. After all, even second bites at the cherry are not always successful.


GOALKEEPER PRIVILEGES
Your question:
U-19 Boys competitive match: During dynamic play, a ball is floated into the penalty area from the right wing. Team A striker establishes his position at the penalty spot as this is where he has determined the ball will land. From his established position, he jumps straight up in an attempt to head the ball goal ward. At the same time, Team B goalkeeper, tracking the flight of the cross, comes off his line aggressively (i.e.. like a bat out of hell) with the intent of either catching or punching clear the cross. Goalkeeper, while moving forward at speed, jumps and manages to punch the ball clear a fraction of a second before his momentum virtually obliterates Team A striker, who had previously established his position and had jumped straight up in his attempt to head the ball. Has the goalkeeper infringed the Law or is this similar to a field player making contact with the ball first during a slide tackle and his momentum then upends the opponent? Or would this be a case, as the Additional Instructions tell us, “…the fact that contact with the ball was made first does not automatically mean that the tackle is fair…” and that one of the prohibited acts was committed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force? I’m struggling with this because this is not a “tackle”.

The center referee in this case waved play on (no foul was called), only to stop shortly thereafter to allow the striker to receive treatment.

I have seen similar scenarios played out many times, and the only time the center (me) called a foul and awarded a penalty kick, he was met with a firestorm of criticism.

I know this is probably a case of …”in the opinion of the referee…”, but could you provide a little guidance. Is the goalkeeper, unfairly, getting the benefit of the doubt here?

USSF answer (April 8, 2005):
While the goalkeeper has certain privileges specified in the Laws of the Game, he or she certainly should not be given privileges that do not exist. The goalkeeper is expected to play as fairly as any other player, and this includes challenging for the ball.

If the Team A striker had already established position at the penalty mark and was already jumping up to play the ball when the goalkeeper took off, then the goalkeeper may well have committed a foul and might be punished by the award of a penalty kick–and possibly further punishment for misconduct, depending on what the referee saw happening. This will have to remain an item covered under the wide umbrella of “if, in the opinion of the referee.”


USING THE WHISTLE/MANAGING THE ADVANTAGE
Your question:
When a goal is scored should I blow the whistle? I notice some refs do and some refs don’t?

Also, If a player commits a foul worth a yellow card but I notice that the ball has gone to a team-mate that has a good scoring chance. Should I call play on or not call play on? Then blow the whistle if the play doesn’t end in a goal and card the player that was deserved the card?

If so, what would the proper restart be? A goal kick if the ball goes out? An indirect kick if the goalie saves it? Is this correct?

USSF answer (April 8, 2005):
We cannot make the decisions for you, but we can offer some advice.

When goals are scored, it is normal to blow the whistle, but certainly not required. It is individual preference to blow the whistle or not. The top officials now simply point to the center spot. However, blowing the whistle ensures that players recognize that play has been stopped and often prevents acts that might occur through hard play near the goal.

You may invoke the advantage clause in such a case and then stop play if the advantage does not materialize within 2-3 seconds, as described in the Law. (This does not mean that you would stop play and return to the spot of the infringement only if a goal is not scored.) The restart would be for the foul, and it would be taken after you have administered the caution and the yellow card for the misconduct.


GET IT RIGHT, REF! (1)
Your question:
On a breakaway the goalie comes out hard, sliding horizontally into the offensive player and simultaneously getting both hands on the ball. The goalie’s momentum carries her feet past the 18 with her hands inside and on the ball. The ball squirts out,slightly past the 18 and the goalie gathers it . The lead referee signals illegal use of the hands. The trail ref. whistles and comes to confer. He issues a yellow to the keeper, sends her off and with a replacement on, awards a P.K.. Is this an “in the opinion of the referees” situation? Wrong? Right?

USSF answer (April 7, 2005):
Please remember that we are not authorized to answer questions based on games played under high school rules. While we do not have all the facts necessary (where were the other players comes to mind), we will nevertheless attempt to answer the question based on what is available.

If this game had been played under the Laws of the Game, using a proper number of officials (one referee and two assistant referees), the correct decision would have been to award a direct free kick for the attacking team at the place where the goalkeeper handled the ball outside the penalty area. No penalty kick could be awarded, as the foul occurred outside the penalty area. It is impossible to tell if the requirements for an obvious goalscoring opportunity existed, but the description of the incident suggests that calling that would not have been a good decision. And the reason for the caution/yellow card escapes us altogether.


POWERS OF THE REFEREE VS. THOSE OF MOTHER NATURE
Your question:
This game (Real Salt Lake at Metrostars) was almost as windy as my 1st time at the Tampa Sun Bowl, in 1997, just after the tornado passed through on the 1st day of competition.

Anyway to my question: Many times, during the game, during a FREE kick, the ball began to roll (blow) away. In many cases the players used another player to hold the ball, with their foot, to keep it stationary and allow them to put it into play, properly.

Both teams, when they were defending against this process, complained that this initiated the kick. I can understand BOTH positions? But, which is correct. Wouldn’t this have been better handled (no pun intended) by having the ball held stationary by using a team mates hand/finger, instead of their foot?

Not knowing what, if anything, the referee said to the teams. What could the referee have done differently to prevent all the problems that the wind caused. I’m not saying that what he did was wrong, but you know what I mean.

USSF answer (April 7, 2005):
When such winds are blowing, using either the foot or the hand to keep the ball steady for the restart is permissible. Holding the ball still with the foot or the hand does not constitute either “kicking” the ball or deliberately handling it, and both provide the proper amount of stability.

As to what the referee could have done, we all know that the powers granted to the referee are many and far reaching, but none of them is enough to top the powers of Mother Nature. We need to remember that players and coaches will always whine when they imagine that the other team is gaining some sort of “advantage,” even if they are gaining the same advantage. The referee needs only to remind the players of that.


CORRRECT RESTARTS
Your question:
The instructor for a Grade 8 USSF recertification clinic presented the following scenarios
While the ball was in play, an angry goalkeeper handles the ball and, while standing in his penalty area but not the goal area, throws the ball in a reckless manner at an opponent
1) who is in the field of play.
2) who is standing in the back of the goalkeeper’s net.
3) who temporarily steps over the touchline while running up the touchline to avoid a teammate.

At the clinic, we argued 1) Penal foul for striking. Direct free kick from where the striking (would have) occurred. Send off and red card for the goalkeeper.
2) (a) Misconduct occurred off the field by a player on the field. Indirect free kick from where the striking originated. Send off and red card the keeper.
OR
(b) A goal should be awarded instead of an IFK. Misconduct occurred off the field by a player on the field. Send off and red card the goalkeeper.
3) (a) Misconduct occurred off the field by a player on the field. Indirect free kick from where the striking originated. Send off and red card the keeper.
OR
(b) A throw-in is awarded to the opponents instead of an IFK. Misconduct occurred off the field by a player on the field. Send off and red card the goalkeeper.

What is the correct call and restart for each scenario?

USSF answer (April 7, 2005):
1) Award the direct free kick. Send off the goalkeeper for violent conduct and show the red card.
2) Award the goal, send off the goalkeeper for violent conduct and show the red card.
3) Indirect free kick from the place where the goalkeeper threw the ball. Send off the goalkeeper for violent conduct and show the red card.


“EXPLAINING” CAUTIONS OR SEND-OFFS
Your question:
We recently played a game where the Referee and one of the two linesmen did not speak the same language as the players or coaches. The other linesman spoke only broken English served as an interpreter. When a card was given to a player, he could not communicate what the offense was. This is in a State Qualification game.

Does the Referee have a duty to be able to communicate with the Kids and Coach to explain calls, etc.

USSF answer (April 5, 2005):
The proactive referee may explain VERY BRIEFLY why a player is being cautioned or sent off, but the Laws of the Game do not require it. All the player needs to know is that he or she has committed misconduct. There is no rational reason for any explanation other than that the player is being cautioned (or sent off) for one of the seven reasons for each punishment. The yellow and red cards were invented for just that reason–when referees and teams do not share a common language. The fact that the player has been cautioned is indicated by the yellow card, just as the send-off is indicated by the red card.


DELIBERATE HANDLING/CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Your question:
I was coaching a U14 girls game in [a local] league. There were two AR’s and one center ref. There was a scramble in the top of the 18 area. The center ref was within 30 feet of the ball. The AR (who was behind the center on the sideline) called a hand ball. He raised his flag and told the center he saw a hand ball. When our captain on the field inquired as to who and what happened, the center ref told her “he didn’t see it but he believes his AR”. He awarded a PK. The AR was a father of a player on the team which was awarded the PK. After the game, the coaches asked the AR what happened. He said the ball came off the ground and bounced straight up and hit our girl in the forearm.

My question is this: Doesn’t the handling of the ball need to be intentional and doesn’t the law imply the hand must hit the ball and not the ball hitting the hand?? Also, is it common to award a PK when the center was within 30 feet of the alleged infraction and admittedly didn’t see anything. It seems a PK should be something only awarded when the AR or center is 100% sure of the infraction.

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
The fact that the ball “played” the hand, rather than the hand playing the ball, is a significant one. If this is true, the “foul” should not have been called.

But even more significant to us is the conflict of interest exhibited by the assistant referee. In the Referee Administrative Handbook, p. 33, it suggests that assistant referees should not be related in any way to either team participating in the game unless it is impossible to get other affiliated officials assigned. Unfortunately, sometimes the referee game assignors do not have enough bodies to go around and ask parents or siblings to referee games in which their kin will be playing.

You can download a PDF copy of the USSF Policy Manual at this URL:
http://www.ussoccer.com/services/content.sps?iType=230&icustompageid=9277

When you get it, look for Policy 531-10, which expressly addresses conflict of interest.


NO BENEFIT FROM OWN INFRINGEMENT OF THE LAW
Your question:
Here is the situation: Attacker fouled near the top of the penalty area, referee awards an advantage. Within the 2-3 second window the referee has to determine the advantage has not materialized, the attacker who was originally fouled passes to a teammate in an offside position. This teammate is then confronted and referee realizes that no advantage is present, so he awards the free kick. However, the AR has the flag up for offside. What is the correct restart to the match, a free kick for the attacking team for the original foul, or an indirect free kick to the defending team for the offside infraction? Thank you in advance.

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
The intelligent referee will recognize the situation immediately as the AR’s flag goes up and wave down the flag just before blowing the whistle, thus negating the advantage decision. The restart should be a direct free kick for the attacking team from the spot where the foul (for which the advantage clause was applied) occurred. If the original foul occurred within the penalty area (you stated “near the top of the penalty area”), the appropriate restart is a penalty kick.


THE STRANGE CASE OF MR. BECKHAM’S BOOT
Your question:
In the Eng vs Aze, at the 43rd min Beckham lost a boot. He remained on the field with the boot off, and eventually played the ball. The game was stopped and he was issued a yellow card. Was this because he didn’t step off the field to get his equipment in order, or because he played the ball with one boot off? I officiate youth, non-USSF, when a boot comes off during the match, I let the player stay on, because they usually get the boot back on immediately. Should I have them step off till they get the boot on, or is it acceptable to leave them on while they get their boot as long as they don’t play the ball?

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
We cannot give you a definitive answer on the incident with Mr. Beckham. It appears he left the field to correct his equipment, but then came back with shoe still in hand and then played the ball. The referee allowed play to continue and then the assistant referee got involved.

It is true that when players lose their footwear they are expected to replace it as quickly as possible. This can occur either on or off the field. Not doing so might conceivably be considered unsporting behavior, for which the player would be cautioned and shown the yellow card, but that sounds a bit harsh to us. It is all unclear in Mr. Beckham’s case.


THE SHAPE OF THE CORNER FLAG
Your question:
Could you please tell me whether there is an official recognised reason for using either a Triangular corner flag or a square one. Is there a reason for the different shapes?

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
Flags on the corner posts are intended solely to make the post stand out for the safety of the players. There is no required shape for corner post flags. They may be rectangular, triangular, or pennon-shaped.


MORE ON BOOTS
Your question:
Question: An attacker kicks the ball towards the goal unfortunately the boot of the kicker also flies simultaneously towards the goal. The GK is in confusion. The Referee stops the match and restarted with an Indirect free kick. Is the Referee justified? Since the boot is an outside agent is the correct restart – drop in? Pl. clarify, Sir.

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
The goalkeeper’s job is to keep the ball out of the goal, not worry about flying boots. As we responded to your earlier question on March 8, 2005:
QUOTE
There is no need for the referee to stop the match if the boot was lost accidentally and did not disturb any other players. The player is expected to replace the boot as quickly as possible and get on with play.

However, if the referee does stop play for this incident, the only possible restart is a dropped ball, taken from the place where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the special circumstances of Law 8).
END OF QUOTE

A final point: The boot could not be considered an outside agent.


GET IT RIGHT, REF! (2)
Your question:
I was an AR for a varsity high school boys game recently. A diagonal through ball is rolling away from the keeper in the penalty box, with an attacking player in pursuit. He has a defender on his back. The ball is headed for the goal line and it is clear that the forward will reach it before the keeper. At about 10 yards from the goal, maybe 5 yards off the near post, the defender pushes the forward with his hand in the flat of the back and he falls. There is no way the Center could have seen it. I wiggled my flag. He confirmed the foul and called a PK. At the half he made it clear that he wasn’t happy with the call; that because the attacker was moving away from the goal, and even if he had gotten it was still 2 people away from a goal, “the punishment didn’t fit the crime”. I understand his point, and he is a respected referee in this area, but I’m still struggling with it. When is a foul “PK worthy”?

USSF answer (April 4, 2005):
The rule is the same for all competitions, whether World Cup or Under Eight soccer: If a direct free kick foul should be called outside the penalty area, that same foul should be a penalty kick if it occurs within the penalty area.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION
Your question:
What, exactly, is the definition of “possession” by the keeper and what is the preferred call if an attacker violates it? Thanks.

USSF answer (March 31, 2005):
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 or a goalpost. An expanded definition of goalkeeper possession may be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” downloadable from the referee page at ussoccer.com:
12.16 GOALKEEPER POSSESSION OF THE BALL
The goalkeeper is considered to be in possession of the ball while bouncing it on the ground or while throwing it into the air. Possession is given up if, while throwing the ball into the air, it is allowed to strike the ground. As noted in Advice 12.10, handling extends from shoulder to tip of fingers. While the ball is in the possession of the keeper, it cannot be lawfully played by an opponent, and any attempt to do so may be punished by a direct free kick.

At very young ages, possession of the ball by the goalkeeper should be defined broadly to include having a hand on the ball (other than purely incidental contact). Once the goalkeeper is in possession of the ball, opponents must cease challenging or otherwise attempting to play the ball. Where the ball is being “bobbled” by the goalkeeper, and depending on the age/experience of the players, it can be played by opponents.

If the goalkeeper has control by means other than his hands (e.g., dribbling with the feet or holding the ball against the ground with his body or feet), an opponent is not only free to but is expected to challenge the goalkeeper in any permissible way. As there are very few permissible ways to play a ball trapped by the goalkeeper’s body or legs, the goalkeeper is expected to either release the ball immediately or to rise and play the ball immediately. Failure to do so could result in the awarding of an indirect free kick against the goalkeeper for playing dangerously–and, if this illegal control persists, possibly a caution/yellow card for unsporting behavior.


IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE
Your question:
45 sec left, 0-0 game, linesman signals keeper crossed 18yd line while punting. Ref awards direct kick. Keeper thinks it is indirect because of ref lack of signals. ball goes in. game ends without restart. Score 1-0 favor home team. Ref never warned keeper about crossing line in 79 min. Other factors – field – no grass-dirt- old lines- not visible. Should it be direct or indirect? Should ref over-rule linesman? What is correct way to handle this?

USSF answer (March 31, 2005):
The referee need only indicate the direction on a direct free kick; there is no need to tell the goalkeeper that a kick may be coming toward the goal. Although it is certainly proactive‹and therefore intelligent‹refereeing, there is no need for the referee to warn the goalkeeper before calling an infringement of Law 12. As to the “lack of signals,” as a matter of self-preservation the goalkeeper should know that the signal for an indirect free kick is a raised arm. No raised arm equals direct free kick, not indirect free kick.

We have a number of factors that might have gone into another decision (field condition, lines, etc.), but not the full story of the game here. Therefore any other response would be simply guesswork, not anything useful.


COMBINATION SOCKS/SHINGUARDS
Your question:
We have children in our league who wear the all-in-one socks and shinguards. In some cases, the shinguard can be removed from a pocket in the socks for washing. Why are these children being required to wear a second pair of socks over the all-in-one socks?

If you look at the item in question it really is two separate items, one item just resides within a pocket of the other. The safety of the children not forsaking, it seems that if the shinguards were separated from the socks and not placed in the pocket then everything would be fine, since it would then become the two separate pieces on the list of compulsory equipment.

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
There is no directive from the Federation requiring an extra sock over the combination stocking/shinguard. If it is clear that the stocking bearing the shinguard is actually a stocking, then there should be no problem. This may be purely a local problem, so you should check with your local referee authorities to see what instructions they have given to the referees.

Referees are taught that the players¹ safety comes before all else in soccer.


OFFSIDE 1
Your question:
A forward and defender are streaking down the field in an attempt to latch onto/defend a cross they believed was forthcoming. The pass did not come, and both players were running so hard that they ran off the end line before they could stop. The cross then came; the forward had found his way back on the field and was in position to receive the cross, and the defender was still in front of him but off the field. No other defenders were between the forward receiving the cross and the endline. Was the forward offside?

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
We are normally concerned about the player who leaves the field to avoid an offside and then re-enters to play the ball, for which that player should be penalized for offside. We are also concerned about the player who leaves the field to put an opponent in an offside position, for which that player is cautioned at the next stoppage of play for unsporting behavior.

If both players have left the field during the course of play‹as players are allowed to do for various reasons‹and the referee has no reason to suspect subterfuge or deceit on the part of either of them, then there punishment is necessary if one or both return to the field to play the ball.

What is unclear from your question is the number of defenders. As many people forget to include the goalkeeper as an opposing ³defender² when they count who stands between the player who is possibly in the offside position and the goal line, this is critical in answering your question.

If the goalkeeper was on the field and in a normal position, then there is no offside, as the defender who left the field during the course of play is still counted, despite being absent from the field. Goalkeeper plus defender off the field equals two opponents between the player in the ³offside position² and the goal.

If the goalkeeper was on the field, yet for some inexplicable reason not covered in your question, was well away from the goal line, then the player who returns to the field should indeed be considered to be offside.


OFFSIDE 2
Your question:
A thrower to the AR¹s immediate left puts the ball in play to a teammate. The teammate plays the ball forward before the thrower has crossed the touchline to reenter the field of play. Upon reentry the thrower is behind the second to last defender, ahead of the ball and in the opponents half and is now interfering with play. Offside or not?

The referee calls a PK. Before the kick is taken the defending coach requests a player swap between the GK and a field player. The referee honors the request and the field player dons the keepers jersey and gloves. In some apparent gamesmanship, the opposing coach immediately claims that the players are no longer uniquely numbered. The defending coach offers to take a player off. Run me through the proper way to handle this situation for future reference.

Do you answer questions about NFHS rules of competition? If so, here goes. A player receives a hard tackle and is booked for his reckless tackle. After receiving the yellow card he calls the ref a ³F___in¹ Idiot² and is disqualified. Must the team play short? Our rules interpreter says, ³No². His reasoning is that under the rules of competition, a player must leave upon the receipt of a yellow card and may not return until the team¹s next substitution opportunity. The team may elect to play short. He thinks that the recipient of a caution, immediately becomes a named substitute as soon as the card is received. His status as a field player ends even before the substitute player is beckoned on to the field. Your thoughts?

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
Question 1: For offside purposes the referee cares only where the thrower was in relation to the ball and opposing players at the time the ball was kicked by the teammate (whether on or off the field). If that position was behind the ball or not nearer to the opponents¹ goal line than the last two defenders (which may or may not include the goalkeeper), then the player cannot be called offside.

Question 2: Pay no attention to the opposing coach, who knows not what he or she is talking about. Worry about the numbers at the next stoppage.

Question 3: Whatever we say regarding high school rules cannot be considered official, but common sense and traditional practice argue for this answer: If the player was cautioned and then sent off as part of a continuing sequence, that player¹s team must play short.

Your rules interpreter would give the Jesuits a run for their money but ultimately has to be faulted for (a) not taking into account the ³Spirit of the Game² and (b) not taking into account an equally Jesuitical response that the giving of a caution under high school rules does not automatically and immediately result in the cautioned player being no longer considered a player because (1) until play restarts the referee could always change his mind and therefore the requirement to leave the field is not fully implemented until play is restarted and (2) the cautioned player does not cease to be a player until the substitute is actually beckoned onto the field by the referee.


OFFSIDE 3
Your question:
I have 2 questions related to offside. My first question relates to what should be considered involvement by a player in an offside position. The blue team has a player in an offside position inside the penalty area. Between the two teams, probably 8-10 players are inside the penalty area or just outside it. The ball comes loose to a blue player about 10 yards outside the penalty area who drills the ball into the back of the net. Immediately the assistant referee¹s flag goes up for an offside. The center referee runs to the assistant referee and asks what he saw. He said there was a player in an offside position and the red team¹s goalkeeper was directing his defenders to cover the player in the offside position. I was the center referee and decided with this information that the red team¹s goalkeeper had made a bad decision letting himself be distracted by the blue player and let the goal stand. At half-time, the assistant referee added more information, specifically that the player in the offside postion had been yelling instructions (in a language that I don¹t speak) to his teammates. As near as the assistant referee could tell, the instructions were being ignored. The question I have is, would you consider the player in the offside position to have been involved? Or is this one of those ³you would have to have been there² in order to make the call situations? I am having second thoughts about this and would like your insights.

The second question relates to some terminology that I saw recently in a discussion of offside. The terminology was ³passive offside². I¹ve only seen this once. It wasn¹t defined. And it did not have any accompanying guidance like ³in the case of passive offside, this is what the referees should do.² If this is a concept that we should be aware of, please point me to an appropriate reference.

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
The answer to your first question is the one you expected: You had to be there to be certain. The goalkeeper¹s job is to keep the ball out of the goal, not to direct his defenders to cover someone in an offside position who had absolutely nothing to do with the goal itself. Our opinion: Goal. There was clearly no involvement by the player in the offside position and the assistant referee¹s reasoning on the ³involvement² has no relationship to any of the given definitions for involvement.

²Passive offside² means that a player is in an offside position but is not involved in play. Referees and assistant referees are trained to disregard the presence of any player who is ³passively² offside when making decisions, because that player does not meet any of the requirements for active involvement.


MISCONDUCT BY A SUBSTITUTE
Your question:
1) Substitutes are sitting on the bench and one of them was unhappy about some contact between the opposing players on a few 50-50 balls. The substitute then tells the other substitutes next to him, ³Next time we should hit him in the face². I, as the referee, heard it and waited until the next dead-ball and asked ³Who said it?². The substitute identified himself and I sent-off the substitute for violent conduct (for his comment). Is what I did correct?

2) At half-time during a youth game, a coach substitutes goal-keepers, then takes his starting GK and put him as a field player for the second half. About 1 minute into the 2nd half, I realize I wasn¹t informed of theGK substitution. On the next dead-ball I asked the coach if he switched GK¹s; he admitted he did so and he added that he didn¹t need to inform me for GK substitutions at half-time because of a FIFA memo which was released in Summer 2004 stating that the ref doesn¹t need to be informed of it anymore if the switch is at half-time. The tournament director was summoned over to the field and she confirmed that FIFA did send out a memo in Summer 2004 and I do not caution both GK¹s for Unsporting Behavior. Is this correct about the FIFA memo?

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
1) Your punishment of the substitute might be regarded as a bit harsh. It is one thing to mutter something to one¹s teammates about harming an opponent and quite a different thing to actually make a direct threat or initiate action against that opponent. A caution for unsporting behavior might have been more in order.

2) We are not aware of any FIFA memorandum of 2004 suggesting that goalkeepers who switch places with field players at halftime not be cautioned. The International Football Association¹s Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (Q&A), published by FIFA in June 2004, say quite the reverse under Law 3, Q&A 10:
10. A player changes places with the goalkeeper during half-time without informing the referee. The new goalkeeper then touches the ball with his hand in his own penalty area during the second half. What action does the referee take? He allows play to continue and cautions both players for unsporting behavior when the ball next goes out of play.

In addition, the intelligent referee (and assistant referee) had every opportunity before the new period began to notice that there had been a change in goalkeepers.


²LET ŒEM PLAY, REF!²
Your question:
[A coach/referee writes] My problem comes when I started refereeing select level matches. I see fouls and I call them. What I hear from the coaches and parents (the fouling team) is ³You gotta let them play!² It is amazing to me that coaches who are getting paid think that the rules don¹t apply any more when they play select. I see a player getting an advantage by pulling a shirt and I call the foul. You would think I was making up the rules on the spot the way some coaches react. I have seen flagrant fouls not called in select matches (I was an AR) and asked the referee after the game why they did not call them and the answer was they play a different game at this level.

I guess my question is why is there an apparent change in the way a referee calls the ³Laws of the Game² when the competitive level goes up. I have had may referees that do High School and College tell me that it is ³just different².

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
Experience has shown that as players progress to higher levels of play they expect the referee to allow a bit more contact at each progressive level. That is a good working philosophy for calling the game, provided it is kept in perspective. That does not mean that blatant or vicious fouls of any sort should be allowed simply because the game is being played at the U-14 select level, rather than the U-14 recreational level, or at the U-19 level or the adult level or the professional and international level, rather than at the U-tiny level.

As skills and playing experience increase, players expect the referee to understand the increased likelihood that some violations have become trifling or call for the use of advantage. In either case, while there is no disputing that a foul occurred, the players now have enough expertise, strength, and skill to ³play through² the violation. Remember that applying advantage IS ³calling the foul² and that deciding something is trifling doesn¹t mean that the referee can¹t talk to or warn the player about his behavior. Simply put, all fouls have to be recognized but not all fouls have to be whistled.


COACHING INTERFERENCE/KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
Class 1, Boys U14, one team visiting from one state association, the other from the home state association. In the 61st minute of a 60-minute game, (WE were in stoppage time!) one of our players was fouled just outside the penalty box. We lined up to take the direct kick. Our player then kicked the ball which bounced off one of the defenders in the ³wall² and went out of bounds over the end line. As we set up to take the corner kick, the referee blew the whistle and signaled that the game was over because time had expired. We asked him how he could possibly end the game without giving us the opportunity to take the corner kick, and his response was simply that ³time expired.² (In my opinion, mistake #1) Also note that the tournament rules stated 30-minute halves, but nothing regarding stoppage time, injury time, delays, etc. As in other tournaments, unless specifically stated, the referee has the discretion to add time for injuries, delays, etc.

The game ended in a 0-0 tie, and because of the tournament format, we proceeded directly to PKs. After 6 players for each team had shot penalty kicks, the score remained 4-4. The opposing teams 7th player took his shot and was blocked by our keeper. With our 7th player about to take his kick, we had a chance to now win the game. As our 7th player walked up to take his shot, the opposing teams coach walked onto the middle of the field and started saying something to the referee. (Mistake #2) The coach was accusing our player of having switched jerseys and, thus, taking a second penalty kick. There was about a 5 minute delay as referee and assistant referees got together to sort things out. (Our coach said that the opposing teams coach brought on the accusation in order to ³ice² our player, much like in the NFL when a time out is called right before the field goal kicker is about to kick a field goal.) The referee then allowed our player to take the kick, which hit off the post and missed. Their mission accomplished. Score remained 4-4.

Their 8th player made his PK, and our 8th player made his (Or so we thought!) After our player made his PK, the opposing coach, once again, said something to the referee. The referee then proceeded to disallow our goal claiming that our player had ³stutter stepped² while taking his PK, and did not move in a ³one continuous motion² as he went to kick the ball. (Mistake 3) After a heated debate between our coach, the referee, the assistant referee, and a new referee that had been summoned for additional support in the ruling, our player was forced into taking his penalty kick, once again, but, unfortunately, this time he missed. Game over. We lose. As you can imagine, we had spectators yelling at the referees for what the majority thought was a bogus call.

So here are my three questions:
1) Can a referee truly end the game and not allow a team to take a corner kick? .. or how about a penalty kick? ..or a direct free kick?

2) During penalty kicks, can a coach stop the fluid rhythm of the game by making a bogus accusation so as to force the referees to delay the game while they sort things out? Can the coach be ejected? Can a point be taken away? Did we have any recourse?

3) What is the rule on taking a penalty kick in terms of the kickers motion? I¹ve seen professional games where a player hesitates as he¹s starting his motion to kick the ball. Is this allowed? In the true spirit of the game, should this referee have allowed our goal? If it truly was an infraction, was the referee correct in allowing us to re-take the kick, or should we have lost our opportunity because of the infraction and declared the other team the winners? Hmmmmmmmmmm.

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
1) There is no requirement in the Laws that a half (first, second, or any overtime period) must end only while play is continuing. The only restart which must be completed regardless of time elapsing is a penalty kick. The referee is the sole judge of the amount of time remaining in a game. If the referee has added extra minutes to compensate for time lost during the period of play, then he is also the sole judge of when that extra time is completed.

Let it be simply stated: the referee with common sense understands that time will not likely expire when there is an imminent chance of scoring.

2) Coaches are not allowed to interfere in the match at any time. Such activity is irresponsible behavior, for which the coach may be dismissed and removed from the environs of the field. But if the referee did nothing about it, you have no recourse. The referee is the one charged with managing the match.

3) FIFA clarified in 2002 that the kicker may seek to misdirect (or feint) at the taking of a penalty kick. USSF, in a memo of October 14, 2004 on this subject, identified four specific actions by the kicker that could constitute misconduct:
– he delays unnecessarily after being signaled by the referee to proceed,
– he runs past the ball and then backs up to take the kick,
– he excessively changes direction during the run to the ball, or
– he makes any motion of the hand or arm which is clearly intended to misdirect the attention of the goalkeeper.

To this list the IFAB (the people who make the Laws of the Game) has added that a player who clearly stops in his run up, as opposed to feinting but not stopping, has infringed the Law.

In such cases, the referee should suspend the procedure, caution the player involved, and then signal once again for the kick to be taken. If the kick has already been taken, the referee should order it retaken only if the ball enters the goal. The player must still be cautioned for his misconduct regardless of the outcome.


FIELD EQUIPMENT
Your question:
I was reading this recent memorandum: http://www.ussoccer-data.com/docfile/2005fieldeqpt.htm and it seems to run counter to what we’ve been taught about overhead obstructions. I had always believed that when the ball hit something like a tree or overhead wires, it was still in play. However, this memorandum would indicate that play should be stopped and restarted with a dropped ball. Could you please clarify?

USSF answer (March 30, 2005):
The position paper applies to transient, nonpermanent equipment, such as the skycam, but not to permanent, pre-existing conditions (see Advice to Referees, 1.8), such as overhanging branches, where park districts or schools do not give permission to cut branches, or power lines, which cannot be moved in any way.


GET THE RESTART RIGHT, PLEASE
Your question:
I was the AR on a game this last weekend. White is playing Blue. An offside call was blown on Blue while attacking Whites goal. This occurred about 15-20 yards from the top of the goal box. Referee puts his hand up and announces play. The ball was not in the position of the call or in line with the AR on that side of the field (it rolled to the keeper who was back another 10 yards) and the keeper kicks the ball forward (here is where it gets, iffy) to what she believed to place the ball in the correct position. Blue runs and kicks the ball into the goal. Goal was allowed. Was this correct? or should the goal be disallowed?

USSF answer (March 22, 2005):
The referee should not have allowed play to be restarted until the ball was in the correct position. Disallow the goal. Have the ball put at the correct spot.


ENFORCING SUSPENSION IN INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES
Your question:
In the US vs Columbia game on 3/9/05 Taylor Twellman received a red card for a tackle from behind. Now, if the foul occurred in a formal competition like world cup qualifying or league play then he would have to miss the his next match within that competition. However, the foul occurred in an international “friendly”. Is he required to serve a suspension? If so, would it be during the next international “friendly”, next international game, or his next game period?

USSF answer (March 17, 2005):
It is very difficult to supervise the administration of suspensions following international friendly matches. The national association of the dismissed player or team official generally imposes the correct suspension. In severe cases, the confederation or even FIFA may step in.


SAFETY OF THE PLAYERS
Your question:
I have noticed in Europe on cold weather days that professional players have been wearing sliding pants or leggings that cover the whole leg and go under the socks. I was under the impression that sliding pants had to be similar or same in color as the shorts and could not extend beyond the top of the knee. Has this changed?

USSF answer (March 17, 2005):
The garb you describe is for the safety of the players. The “panty hose”–probably Lycra tights–under the shorts and socks are allowed because of the extreme weather.


INFRINGEMENT OF LAW 14
Your question:
The situation is the semifinal in a U-10 select tournament, with a full referee team (center and two certified assistants). A penalty kick is awarded. The referee gets everyone lined up properly, instructs the keeper appropriately, and blows his whistle. Before the kick, one of the teammates of the player taking the shot moves into the arc at the top of the penalty area. The shot is taken and scored, as the spectators (me first I admit with some shame) complain loudly.

Between halfs the referee tells the coach that he didn’t require the kick to be retaken because the incursion(5 yards) was “trifling.” The assistant tells the coach later that she saw it but it wasn’t her place to inform the referee. I think there were two errors here. First, the assistant should always be prepared to catch something the center missed. Second, if this is “trifling” then there is no point in having the rule, because then any incursion is “trifling.” (I also think there was a third error: I should have kept my mouth shut; the refs have a hard enough job without a bunch of self-proclaimed experts on the sideline.)

USSF answer (March 17, 2005):
According to Law 14 the penalty kick must be retaken if a member of the kicker’s team enters the penalty area early and a goal is scored.

As to the responsibility of the assistant referee, that is something that is determined in the pregame conference between referee and assistants (and fourth official, if there is one).

As to the third error, referees should know going in that there will be commentary on their perceived performance. Life is hard; we must learn to live with it.

2005 Part 1

MEDICAL ATTENTION
Your question:
Here’s a question from a recent recert class that seemed to stump the instructor as much as the students: A player, #9 from team A, was fouled near team B’s penalty area by #3 from team B. The referee awards a direct free kick to team A. Due to the foul, #9 needed medical attention and, after three minutes, was finally removed from the field of play. Given the sequence of events, the referee:
a)should make sure he/she is informed of the seriousness of the injury and, after the injured player has been removed from the field, issue a caution to player #3 from team B.
b) can not issue a caution anymore as it is too late now that the injured player is removed.
c) has to provide the complete details concerning the medical status of the injury on the game report.
d) has the discretion to determine how much time was lost due to the injury.

Many of us leaned toward A, yet some of the more experienced refs said B. certainly D is true and likely C as well.

USSF answer (March 10, 2005):
a) The referee needs to know only that the player has been seriously injured; that information is included in the match report. The full nature of the injuries is irrelevant. There is absolutely no reason to base a caution on whether or not an injury was inflicted; the referee bases that decision solely upon whether the foul was committed recklessly (caution/yellow card) or with excessive force (send-off/red card). It is possible to inflict an injury, even a serious injury, simply by making normal contact with another player. b) Immediately exclude option b from any consideration. A caution may be issued at any time prior to the restart of play. c) See a. d) Correct.


SELECTING OFFICIALS FOR INTERNATIONAL MATCHES
Your question:
All of the following assumes that a FIFA Ref/or AR may not be from the same country of the teams that are playing that match.)

Key Issue: What say, if any, does each Intl team or club teams have when playing international matches as to who refs the games?

If Germany plays England in the friendly match the Ref and AR’s are not really an issue to the teams.

Now, if Germany plays the UK in an European Cup match be it at International level, or a UEFA match… for the INTL match does FIFA or UEFA present a list of ref’s and AR’s from to each Intl association and they agree upon at least the Referee that will officiate.

Also, how are the Ref’s selected by FIFA for the World Cup matches..(outside of the highest rated ones) do they give a list to pick from to the teams? Or, FIFA assigns and that is it?

USSF answer (March 8, 2005):
We are not aware that referees for international matches must be approved by the competing countries. As far as we know, FIFA selects the refereeing crew and that is it.


PLAYER LOSES SHOE
Your question:
While kicking the ball the boot also flies in the other direction without giving disturbances to the opponent. But the referees stops the play.  How will the referee restart the match?

USSF answer (March 8, 2005):
There is no need for the referee to stop the match if the boot was lost accidentally and did not disturb any other players. The player is expected to replace the boot as quickly as possible and get on with play.

However, if the referee does stop play for this incident, the only possible restart is a dropped ball, taken from the place where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the special circumstances of Law 8).


INTERFERING WITH A THROW-IN
Your question:
Can an opponent be cautioned for merely standing on the touch line in front of the player taking the throw-in? The laws and the ATR are clear that the opponent is not allowed to jump or follow the thrower to attempt to affect the throw, but our referee group is divided on what to do when the defender stands so close on the throw. Most believe that the player has a right to stand there, but my thinking is that the defender does not take his position on the touch line until he sees where the thrower is setting up. This could be considered to be interfering with the throw, in my opinion.

We had a situation where the thrower, annoyed by the defender standing on the line, followed through and clocked the defender, with the injured player needing several stitches to close the wound.

We also discussed what proactive action the referee could take. Inthat vein, is it appropriate for the referee to tell the players what their respective rights are (i.e., defender, you must remain still during the throw, and thrower, you may move down the line to avoid the defender)?

USSF answer (March 7, 2005):
The player may not be cautioned for simply standing there when the thrower moves up to the line; nor should the player be spoken to. This, of course, only provided that the player did not move into that position just as the thrower was about to take the throw. If that is the case, then at least a warning should be given (if the throw was still successful) or certainly a caution (if the thrower was thus prevented from doing the job properly).

We need to remember that the thrower is given a yard in either direction from the point of the throw-in, so an opponent merely standing in a particular location should not be an obstacle to the thrower. Furthermore, even if irritated by perceived interference, this hardly gives the thrower a right to “clock” the opponent.

There will be further changes after July 1.


PLAYING THE BALL FROM THE ‘KEEPER’S HAND
Your question:
Where is official word that you can’t play the ball out of the ‘keeper’s hands? Are there any more situations when it is legal to play the ball when the keeper has possesion besides header out of outstretched palm or kicking it as it hits the ground when the GK’s bouncing it?

USSF answer (March 3, 2005):
There is nothing in the Law to say that the ball may not be played from the goalkeeper’s hand, but neither is there anything that would allow it, except under the conditions you have already outlined: heading the ball from the goalkeeper’s open palm (a most unlikely situation) or playing the ball as it hits the ground when clearly released by the goalkeeper. However, there is that provision in Law 12 under Indirect Free Kicks that calls for punishment of the player who “prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands.” In addition, there is tradition, which also forbids interfering with the goalkeeper who is attempting to put the ball back into play.

And, finally, there is the reminder in the Additional Instructions at the back of your book of the Laws of the Game that it is an offense for a player to prevent a goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands and that a player must be penalized for playing in a dangerous manner if he kicks or attempts to kick the ball when the goalkeeper is in the process of releasing it.


‘KEEPER MOVING FORWARD FROM GOAL LINE AT PK
Your question:
I have a query about my role during PKs when assigned as A/R. Can you help ?

I have reffed for 4 years (seniors, U19 Premier, etc). In 3 recent games which went to PKs the result was altered, in my view, by an illegal save – i.e. the GK was well forward of the goalline before the ball was in play.   In one game I was assigned as A/R and was instructed not to indicate a forward G/K move. Also at a subsequent ref training it was made quite clear that A/Rs should *not* “indicate….whether at a PK the goalkeeper has moved forwards before the ball has been kicked” even though Law 6 seems to require otherwise, independent of the ref’s subsequent decision.

Question: Why cannot I, when assigned as A/R, indicate (clearly, to everyone) that, in my view, a GK has moved forwards before the Ball was in play at at PK? Or can this key duty be “subject to the decision of the refereee” (Law 6).

USSF answer (March 3, 2005):
At penalty kicks (or kicks from the penalty mark), the job of the assistant referee, according to Law 6, is to indicate “whether . . . the goalkeeper has moved forward before the ball has been kicked and if the ball has crossed the line.” That is clear. What is not clear is when that is done and how it is done. The timing and the signal are up to the referee to determine and should be clarified during the pregame conference among the officials. If the referee does not bring up the matter, the AR must do so.


DEFENDER OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY
Your question:
This happened in a U17 Boys game recently: Defender, running parallel to the goal line near the top of the PA, is chasing the ball about to go into touch. Attacker does the same, running parallel to the touch line. Ball goes out – throw in for attackers. No foul/collision by players. Defender slides into stands and, clearly,  injures himself. He slid into the stands…..

Very quickly, the attacker throws ball in, legally, and ball is cleared. However, the ball is intercepted and passed right down the middle to an attacker who has only the goalie in front of him. He is clearly in an offside position, IF YOU DON’T COUNT THE PLAYER WHO IS STILL NEAR THE STANDS (clearly off the field by at least 5 yards) AND RUBBING HIS INJURED LEG, FACING THE STANDS. If you count the injured player, the attacker is on side. AR2 raises the flag for offside. Referee waves him down, as attacker continues toward goal. No other players involved, except the forward and goalie on the field … and the injured player off the field. All other defenders are way up field….

Who’s correct here?

USSF answer (March 2, 2005):
This quote from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” (Advice 11.11) should be of help: “A defender who leaves the field during the course of play and does not immediately return must still be considered in determining where the second to last defender is for the purpose of judging which attackers are in an offside position. Such a defender is considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to his or her off-field position. A defender who leaves the field with the referee’s permission (and who thus requires the referee’s permission to return) is not included in determining offside position.”

This defender left the field legally, during the course of play. Unless the referee decides that this defender is seriously injured‹in which case play must be stopped for treatment‹the defender must be counted as being on the field.

The referee was correct.


AN INTERESTING SITUATION
Your question:
Two players are involved – an attacker and a defender. The attacker has the ball at his feet, inside the penalty area. He is very close to the back line, but outside the six yard box. He nutmegs the defender and then attempts to run past him, to catch up with the ball, but chooses to pass the defender by leaving the field of play. The defender sticks out his foot and trips the attacker up, but the trip takes place off the playing area. There are no other defenders between this incident and the goal and the attacker would have regained control of the ball if he hadn’t been tripped up.

Has the defender committed a foul? Should a penalty be awarded? Should the defender be sent off?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
The attacking player is permitted to leave the field to avoid an obstacle while playing the ball. By sticking his foot out with the clear intent to trip the attacker, the defender has committed the foul of “attempting to trip,” which is punishable by a direct free kick‹and, therefore, as it was committed by a defender inside his own penalty area, the restart must be a penalty kick.

Although the eventual result of the attempt was an actual trip of the attacker, the attempt occurred inside the field. Because the successful result of the attempt occurred off the field, the restart would have to be a dropped ball (misconduct occurring off the field) and no red card could be given even if there were an obvious goal scoring situation because such a card cannot be given if the restart is not a free kick.

Fairness and common sense would suggest that the player should be punished in the most severe way and that could be done only if the referee decided to stop play for the foul of “attempting to trip.”


SECOND “FOUL” FOLLOWING ORIGINAL FOUL
Your question:
During a co-ed match, I had a situation where an attacker just outside their eighteen was fouled, went down and lost possession of the ball. There upon another attacker who was not in the offside position was given advantage. But time had elapsed and no control was established so I blew the ball dead. Simultaneously the keeper who was also approaching the ball took down the 2nd attacker who got injured and was the 2nd foul of that series of play.

I discussed this series of fouls with the AR and we decided since I blew the ball dead for the first foul, that I may not be able to punish for the second foul even though it could have warranted a caution or a send-off. Even though the 2nd foul occurred in the penalty area, I did not award the PK. I went back to the original foul which ended up being a DFK from about the arc. Was that the right call?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
If you have already stopped play for the original foul, you may not punish the second “foul” as a foul. However, if it is appropriate, you may punish the “foul” as misconduct, either a caution or a send-off, depending on the degree of force employed by the second “fouler,” in this case the goalkeeper.


NO RIGHT TO NOT ALLOW SUBSTITUTIONS
Your question:
At half time the score was 3 to 1 our favorite at the start of the second half we scored again- putting the score 4 to 1. So our coach put in his bench players and was going to leave them in the last ten minutes of the game. Well, the other team scored 2 goals, so our coach put his starters on line to sub after the second goal was scored (score now 4 to 3). When are coach called to sub the and the sideline judge put his flag up to single the center ref – he told our coach “No more subing – there’s only two minutes left in the game and there’s not enough time.” Our coach then told him to “You can tie or win in two minutes.” The other team in fact did score again – tieing the game 4 to 4. Our coach tried once more to sub and again was told “No there’s only 1 minute left.” The sideline judge told our asst coach “I don’t know why he won’t let you sub.”

Is this a judgement call, not to allowing a team to sub with only two minutes left? Is this a rule? I mean what if it this was a tournament game and we need to get our best players in incase of PKs?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
The referee has no authority to refuse a team the right to substitute players.


GIVE ME TEN!
Your question:
During a U11G competitive game a player on the field was called for handling the ball, “hand ball” as parents know it. That player’s coach yelled at the player who handled the ball and ordered her to drop and do 10 push ups right there.

Nothing was done by the ref calling the game, and lucky for the girl doing the pushups her safety was not endangered because the opposing team waited for her to complete them before putting the ball in play.

I think the caoch should be cautioned for placing his player into a potentially dangerous situation if the opposing team continued to play without waiting for her to finish.

What do you suggest is the best way to address this with a coach who may do this on the field of play during the game?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
If it weren’t so ridiculously silly, we might say that the coach’s action was irresponsible and the referee should have dealt with it immediately: dismiss the coach for behaving irresponsibly and restart with the direct free kick for the deliberate handling foul.

The coach’s job is supposed to be done in practice and in talking the players and substitutes on the sidelines during the game. It does not extend to disciplining a player on the field. If the coach wanted to discipline the player, he should have substituted her out of the game.

If the referee can stop laughing, he or she would be wise to remind the coach of when and where such tactics should be employed. The referee would then submit a complete report to the appropriate authorities.


MAY SUBSTITUTES BE CARDED?
Your question:
I have a question regarding carding and who can be carded. Of course, players on the pitch can be carded. What about substitutes watching the game from the touchline or on the bench? If their behavior is unsporting, or there is a lot of dissent, can they be carded as well? If so, how is a restart handled? Which Law covers this situation?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
Yes, substitutes may be cautioned and shown the yellow card or sent off and shown the red card. The authority is contained in Laws 3 and 5. The restart will depend on the reason for which the game was stopped. If it was solely for the misconduct of the substitutes on the sidelines, then the correct restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the special circumstances of Law 8).


STOP MAKING UP RULES, REF!
Your question:
During a tournament recently the diameter and height of the corner flags became an issue. The Center ref claimed that the flags stick had to be an inch in diameter and a certain height, and disallowed the small diameter flag sticks. Is there any rule/law that dictates the size and diameter the corner flags must be?

USSF answer (February 28, 2005):
Law 1 requires only that “[a] flagpost, not less than 1.5 m (5 ft) high, with a non-pointed top and a flag is placed at each corner.” There is no indication of any particular diameter.


TOO MANY PLAYERS
Your question:
Recently following a goal being scored, the team that was kicking-off was observed to have 12 players on the field. The sideline official (AR) observed this and tried to signal to the referee. Play continued for about 1 minute and the attacking team (the team with 12 players) was awarded a corner-kick. At this point the AR finally got the referees attention. The referee and AR discussed the situation and the corner-kick was allowed and the winning goal was scored.  Was this proper?

I thought that the since the AR had observed 12 players, that either the coach or the 12th player should have been “cautioned”.

Should the corner-kick be allowed, since the corner -kick had been ‘earned’ with the advantage of the 12th player on the field?

USSF answer (February 22, 2005):
If play has already been stopped, then the referee has no choice but to restart according to the reason the game was stopped. Caution and remove the twelfth player for entering the field of play without the permission of the referee and, in this case, restart with a corner kick.

Unless the rules of the competition specifically allow it, coaches are never to be cautioned. In this case, even if the rules did allow it, there is no reason to caution the coach.


PLAYER RE-ENTERS WITHOUT PERMISSION
Your question:
Player A1 gets permission from the referee to leave the field (say, to change shoes). A1 then re-enters the field without the referee’s permission. A1’s team scores a goal. Before play is restarted, the referee realizes that A1 came onto the field without permission. What action does the referee take? Does he allow the goal, and if not, how does he restart play?

USSF answer (February 21, 2005):
The player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field without the referee’s permission. The goal is disallowed and the game restarts with a goal kick.


FOUR MATCH SCENARIOS
Your question:
I have four questions regarding match scenarios. Although some of them are a true stretch, we are looking forward to your responses. We definitely appreciate and respect the time and effort you have taken to do this job.

Scenario 1) The referee motions for a substitute to enter the field, who is clearly ready to enter (i.e. Equipment checked, name and number matches the roster as a named substitute, has presented his player pass and substitution pass to the forth official) for a player who has left the field with the permission of the referee during play due to an injury (due to this, his team is now playing with one man less). (The substitute who is about to enter, formerly played for the opposing team and is upset with his former coach for trading him.) The player, clearly acting out of built-up anger, does not step onto the field, walks over to his former coach (opposing bench) and strikes his former coach with a water bottle. Next, he steps onto the field and takes his position.
1) How many do you restart with? (11 – not a completed sub until player enters the field?)

Scenario 2) A player has left the field during play with the permission of the referee, due to an injury (due to this, his team is now playing with one man less). While off the field, during play, the same player strikes an opponent on the field with a water bottle.
1) What’s the restart? (Does this fall under the theory as in the situation with a goalkeeper attempting to strike a player with the ball outside of the penalty area with the ball; and the foul or attempted foul being restarted from the place where the contact or attempted contact would have occurred? If so would it be a direct free kick against his team because he is actually a “player”? OR Would it be a dropped ball because he is now considered an outside agent?)
2) How many players do you restart with? (10 – because he is still really a player?)

Scenario 3) A player has left the field during play with the permission of the referee, due to an injury (due to this, his team is now playing with one man less). While off the field, during play, the same player strikes a teammate on the field with a water bottle.
1) What’s the restart? (Once again, does this fall under the theory as in the situation with a goalkeeper attempting to strike a player with the ball outside of the penalty area with the ball; and the foul or attempted foul being restarted from the place where the contact or attempted contact would have occurred? If so would it be an indirect free kick against his team because he is actually a “player”? OR Would it be a dropped ball because he is now considered an outside agent?)
2) How many players do you restart with? (10 – because he is still really a player?)

Scenario 4) Is it technically possible to have a direct free kick against the defending team, and also have the ball be placed so that its sphere overlaps the line on the edge of penalty area? (The foul occurs within 9 inches of the edge of the penalty area and the bottom of the ball is placed on the exact spot where the foul occurred; thus to an onlooker it would appear as though the direct free kick against the defending team was being taken inside the penalty area, (as the lines obviously belong to the areas in which they bounder.).)

USSF answer (February 20, 2005):
Scenario 1:
The substitution is not completed until the new player enters the field. By committing violent conduct in striking the coach, the substitute must be dismissed and shown the red card. Provided that the substitute has not entered the field after being beckoned on by the referee and before striking the coach, then his team may use another substitute and the team need not play with fewer players.

Scenario 2:
1) Restart with a direct free kick for the opposing team. The player re-entered the field to strike the opponent. 2) Restart with one fewer player on the bottle-striker’s team, as he must be dismissed and shown the red card for violent conduct.

Scenario 3:
1) Indirect free kick for the opposing team from the place where the bottle struck the teammate. Send off the player and show the red card for violent conduct.
2) Restart with one fewer player on the bottle thrower’s team.

Scenario 4:
If a foul is deemed to have occurred outside the area, then the ball may not be placed on the line. Set the ball outside the line.


IMPEDING?
Your 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?

USSF 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.]


DOUBLE POSSESSION BY THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Can you provide the definition for double possession?
If the keeper has the ball in their hands, plays it to the ground, then decides to pick the ball up again, do we have a double touch issue?
How about the keeper tosses the ball to the ground and kicks it?

USSF answer (February 16, 2005):
For a goalkeeper to be “convicted” of double possession, the referee must recognize that the goalkeeper has clearly released the ball for others to play and then picked it up again. However, if the ‘keeper inadvertently drops the ball and then picks it up again, that does not count as double possession. Dropping the ball to the ground and kicking it is a legal play.


GOALKEEPER SCORES A GOAL OFF A PUNT
Your question:
I have heard throughout my soccer career that a keeper cannot score a goal directly off a punt.  In order for the goal to be valid he must drop-kick the ball.  In a recent intramural match, a referee told a goalkeeper that if he could throw the ball from one end to the other, he could score directly on a thrown ball. While I realize that in a normal game this kind of scenario is next to impossible, I would like to know if there are any official rulings on the matter as it could potentially come up in a youth game on an undersized field.  Not likely, but possible. In the event a keeper could throw, or punt the ball directly into his opponent¹s goal, I would think that a goal kick should be awarded instead of a goal, but again, I haven¹t been a referee that long and the information I¹m using as a basis for this decision is mostly hearsay. I tried to look up information on this topic in the Laws of the Game, Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, and Advice to Referees handbooks, but didn¹t find anything relevant. Any advice you could give would be most welcome.

USSF answer (February 16, 2005):
When in doubt, go to the beginning of all soccer knowledge, the Laws of the Game. Law 10, Method of Scoring, tells us: “A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no infringement of the Laws of the Game has been committed previously by the team scoring the goal.”

Note that there is no reference there to whether or not the scorer is a goalkeeper or a field player. Nowhere in the Laws of the Game does it say that a goalkeeper may not score a goal directly by any legal means‹and punting is a legal means.


“FOUL” OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY
Your question:
A player is dribbling the ball along the end line, he steps off the field by a foot or two to avoid a defender. While he/she is off the pitch the defender fouls him.

What is the restart? Direct kick or indirect kick? Obviously if he is several feet off the pitch a yellow card could be issued too. The high school rule book calls for an indirect kick. That got me to thinking what would the FIFA rule be. You can’t really call fouls off the pitch so that seems to apply here too.

USSF answer (February 15, 2005):
Such an act would be regarded as misconduct, rather than a foul, because it occurred off the field of play. The player is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. The restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped.


DROPPED BALL
Your question:
My question pertains to drop balls. In a drop ball situation, a player verbally acknowledges to the opposing team that he will kick the ball back to the team’s goalkeeper. The opposing team leaves him alone at the drop ball, believing that he will be true to his word and kick it back. Instead, the player who told the team he’d kick it back smashes the drop ball into the back of the net. My position is that the goal should not be counted, because the player used trickery to make the opposing players think he would be returning the ball to them. The player should be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior (because of the trickery) and play is restarted with an IFK to the opposing team from the spot of the drop ball. Others maintain that the goal should be counted as players are not obliged to return drop balls. Please help us clear this situation up.

USSF answer (February 14, 2005):
After a stoppage for an injury or a similar situation caused by one team, a player of that team usually plays a dropped ball (or a throw-in) to a position where the opposing team may regain possession. Despite the fact that it is traditional that a player do this, there is no requirement for it under the Laws of the Game. Nor does the referee have any authority to deal with this situation. Indeed, over the past several years, we have seen instances in very high-level competitions where players have refused to do this. This is not the forum in which to discuss the reasons for evil or ignorance.

The referee has a preventive remedy for situations at a dropped ball where the only fair thing (within the Spirit of the Game) is for one team to get the ball. There is no requirement that players from both teams take part in a dropped ball. This gives the referee the implied authority to drop the ball only for a member of one team to ensure fairness.


OWN GOALS?
Your question:
In a U14 Competitive game player for team A is throwing the ball into play. A player for team B stands about a yard away from the thrower. Player A is irritated and throws the ball off of Player B expecting the ball to go out of bounds. However, Player A picks up the ball on the touchline prior to it going out of bounds thinking that it was going to go out of bounds anyway.

What would you do?

USSF answer (February 13, 2005):
The answer to your question is twofold. First, it depends on what the referee perceives in the initial throw-in. That is covered in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
15.8 THROW-IN STRIKES AN OPPONENT
A throw-in taken in such a way that the ball strikes an opponent is not by itself a violation of the Law. The act must be evaluated separately as a form of striking and dealt with appropriately if judged to be unsporting behavior (caution) or violent conduct (send off from the field). In either event, if deemed a violation, the restart is located at the place where the throw-in struck the opponent. If the throw-in is deemed to have been taken incorrectly, the correct restart is a throw-in.

The second part of the answer deals with the deliberate handling of the ball after it has touched the opposing player. That could be punished as deliberate handling unless the referee has already decided to deal with the throw-in hitting the opponent.


GOALKEEPER HANDLING THE BALL
Your question:
If a goalkeeper reaches outside his/her own penalty area and touches the ball, but his/her feet are completely inside the penalty area, is it considered a handball ? Likewise, the goalie is outside the penalty area and reaches over the line into the penalty area to grab the ball. Is this a handball? I guess the question boils down to is is ball location or goalkeeper’s feet/body position?

USSF answer (February 10, 2005):
It makes no difference where the goalkeeper’s body or feet are. The only significant factors are the position of the goalkeeper’s hands and the position of the ball. If they are in contact simultaneously (and deliberately on the part of the goalkeeper) outside the penalty area, then the goalkeeper has deliberately handled the ball counter to the Law.

However, under other circumstances, such as the goalkeeper accidentally carrying the ball over the line marking the penalty area while releasing it so that others may play it, this could be a trifling infringement and the intelligent referee might overlook the matter.


PLAYING THE BALL IN THE HANDS OF THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Recently while on the pitch, I overheard a referee speaking with another referee about a recent FIFA rule change allowing an opponent to head a ball being held by the goal keeper. Has there been such a rule change?

USSF answer (February 13, 2005):
Yes, an opposing player may play the ball from the open palm of the goalkeeper. However, if the goalkeeper holds the ball so that the palm is not open or is holding the ball against his or her body, the opponent may not play the ball.


ILLEGAL SUBSTITUTES
Your question:
In the latest FIFA Q&A, there are a number of questions that deal with illegal substitutes on the field of play. Several of the questions refer to an illegal substitute having to leave the field to complete the substitution procedure. My question is, “When is that ‘substitute/player’ allowed into the game? Is it as simple as having them step of the field and then back on after the referee signals or is the person required to wait until the next stoppage of play?”

USSF answer (February 10, 2005):
Provided that the referee has completed all bookkeeping and disciplinary measures appropriate to this offense, and that the “substitute/player” has been removed from the field, then the same “substitute/player” may then return to the game (without waiting for any further stoppage).


OWN GOALS?
Your question:
The Laws of the Game state that a goal cannot be scored directly from an indirect free kick (Law 13), a throw-in (Law 15) or a dropped ball (Law 8), and that a goal can only be scored against the opposing team (NO OWN GOAL) on a direct free kick (Law 13), a goal kick (Law 16) and a corner kick (Law 17). My question: for the remaining two restarts, the penalty kick (Law 14) and the kick off (Law 8), would an own goal be allowed if the requirements for the restart as stated in the respective Law were satisfied (players in the correct positions, ball kicked in a forward direction, etc.)? Neither Law specifically bans an own goal being awarded. While the probability of either event ever occuring (especially from a penalty kick) is extremely slight, an “unusual” weather condition – e.g. a strong, sudden wind gust – could make it “possible”. I believe that the goal would stand, but have heard conflicting opinions.

USSF answer (February 10, 2005):
The Spirit of the Game would cry out in anguish if an own goal were awarded directly from either a kick-off or a penalty kick. In addition, it would be nigh impossible for such a thing to occur.


DISRESPECT/TAUNTING AFTER A GOAL
Your question:
I’m little concerned about player behavior, especially at the high level of competitions. Last week I watched the Ecuador vs. Panama game. One of the players, after he scored a goal, pulled a mask from his shorts and put it on his head. As a matter of fact, he did it on two occasions. I didn’t see any display of yellow cards for his behavior. In my opinion that action was a disrespect for the other player’s team and in general for the soccer game. I ask myself, when will FIFA or other authorities do something to stop that kind of behavior?

USSF answer (February 10, 2005):
There had to be some countermeasure from the players to the change in the Laws that forbids removing shirts after scoring a goal. If the referee believes that any action following a goal is disrespectful to the game or a form of taunting the opponents after the goal has been scored, the player should be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior.


MODIFYING THE LAWS OF THE GAME
Your question:
Large tournament, multi-state and country participants, approved by USYS. The tournament rules state, “all rules are governed by the FIFA laws of soccer” AND  Home Team: “will select the side from which they wish to play”.

There was understandable confusion because tournament officials gave instructions that “Home Team selects the side they wish to play from” meant, the side they wish to defend and the visiting teams always kick off. I contended that, although poorly worded, the rule was intended to give the Home Team, the choice of which sideline to occupy. There were no additional rules covering sideline occupancy.

(To be consistent with Law 8, the word “end” should have been used and not “side”.) Question: Can the tournament rules committee dictate that a coin flip not be used to determine the end (side) to defend (play from) without violating FIFA and USYS laws?

USSF answer (February 9, 2005):
Law 8 is not among the Laws that may be modified, even slightly, without the permission of the International Football Association Board‹the body that writes the Laws of the Game.


COACHES MUST BEHAVE RESPONSIBLY
Your question:
For any match, adult, pro, or youth, if a coach is abusively screaming and/or swearing at his players but not at anyone else, can he/she be dismissed?

USSF answer (February 7, 2005):
Law 5 tells us that the referee may take “action against team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and may at his discretion, expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds.” Abusive screaming and/or swearing at anyone would not seem to be responsible behavior.


GET OUT OF MY SPACE!
Your question:
Reported as one of the toughest calls for a basketball official is the charge-block decision when a defensive player steps in front of an offensive player impeding his progress to the basket. If the defender gets there early enough to be stationary at the time of collision, there is a foul charged to the offensive player.

Perhaps because they watch basketball, I see American youth players, even at the high school level, imitating this sort of defensive strategy. In addition to officiating, I watch a lot of soccer, and I don’t see the tactic employed outside the U.S.

My question is this — if a soccer defender steps in front of an attacker, denying the attacker his/her intended path toward goal, is getting there the split second to become stationary sufficient to merit a foul call against the attacker? Can you comment on points the smart official should look for in this play to determine if a defender is guilty of the foul of holding or the attacker is guilty of the foul of charging?

USSF answer (January 31, 2005):
In general, each player on the field is entitled to the area he or she occupies at any particular moment. However, it is also a fact that a player may not occupy space needed by an opponent if the occupying player is not playing the ball but instead preventing the opponent from getting into that space. If there is contact by the opponent, but initiated by the player who has jumped into a space to impede the opponent’s way or ability to play the ball, that is considered to be holding by the player. The opponent’s team would receive a direct free kick from the point of the foul.


GOALKEEPERS’ KNEES
Your question:
I was watching keepers get training from a MLS trainer at a camp. I was a bit surprised to see so many put their knee up when catch a ball (I was told they were not being taught this – they just did it). I told my daughter that I thought if she hit an opponent with her knee don’t be surprised if a PK was awarded and if I saw a keeper flying through the air – knee first and an attacker ducking because of it I’d likely award an IFK for dangerous play.

USSF answer (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. 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.


PLAYERS AND FLYING SHOES
Your question:
Would you allow the goal if, while taking the shot, the attacker’s shoe came off, forcing the goalkeeper to dodge the flying shoe and also fail in his attempt to block the shot (the ball went totally over the goal line under the upright and between the goal posts).

USSF answer (January 27, 2005):
We answered a similar question over a year ago, on September 23, 2003:
QUOTE
As defined in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” (Advice) and clear from the perspective of the Spirit of the Game, a foul is an unfair or unsafe action committed by a player against an opponent or the opposing team, on the field of play, while the ball is in play. (Advice 12.1) Although the loss of the shoe was inadvertent and accidental, it was also careless. A careless act of striking toward an opponent is punishable by a direct free kick for the opponent’s team, taken from the spot where the object (or fist) hit (or would have hit) its target (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).

Although the shooter wanted to play the ball when he kicked it and did not hit the goalkeeper with his shoe deliberately, he has still committed a foul. Direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team from the place where the shoe struck the goalkeeper (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).
END OF QUOTE

The only difference would be that in your case the shoe did not hit the goalkeeper; however the effect and the decision are be the same. The goal is not scored; restart with a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team from the place where the shoe would have hit the goalkeeper.


FOUL WEATHER GEAR
Your question:
I was looking through the “Official Sports” catalogue and was wondering what the policy is on Referee attire during rain and snow storms.

What about when it is not storming but it is really cold?

USSF answer (January 27, 2005):
Referees should exercise good sense in choosing what to wear during foul weather. If the weather is exceptionally cold or wet, the referee and assistant referees should dress appropriately, in accordance with the level of the game they are refereeing. However, on a high-level game, whether professional or amateur, the refereeing crew should not wear any garb that is not appropriate to a professional appearance. For other, lower-level games, track suits that clearly identify the officials as referees are suitable, together with caps and gloves.

You should remember that the players might not take kindly to a referee whose garb is warmer and/or dryer than what they have to wear on the field (despite our good intentions) so this factor should be taken into account as well.


CAUTION OR SEND OFF?
Your question:
Well after half-time, the Red sweeper is cited for his third foul, raising cries of “All day, Ref!” and “How many times, Sir?” from his Blue opponents. The Referee, knowing the “count”, has a brief, but pointed word with the offender, to the effect of “That’s it, no more!” with the unspoken but understood pledge of a PI Caution for any more inappropriate play. While not overheard, the Referee’s body language and demeanor let everyone know what was conveyed.

Ten minutes later, the player commits another foul, but this time, it is done with sufficient recklessness and force to deserve a Caution on its own.

The question is, therefore, can the Referee conjoin the facts of the anticipated Caution for PI, with a concurrent judgement of USB for the foul itself, and send of the sweeper for earning two Cautions? If so, what would be the correct mechanics for the display of cards?

(Personally, I used the principle of “a player, having earned a Caution, and before being issued the Caution, commits another act of misconduct, shall be sent off” to decide on a send off. My reasoning was that his fourth foul earned the first Caution (which he was aware was coming), and the presence of recklessness was itself the cause of the second caution.)

USSF answer (January 26, 2005):
Rather than having a hard and fast rule, the intelligent referee will base this decision on exactly what went on during the previous portion of the game and in this particular instance. If the card is warranted, the reasoning you suggested works fine. As for mechanics, display the yellow, display the yellow again, and then display the red card ‹all with consummate composure.


PLAY THE ADVANTAGE?
Your question:
I have a question about encroachment at a free kick, and whether Advantage applies.

Red is awarded a Free Kick at the top of the penalty arc, near the goal defended by Blue. Blue #8 stands ten yards away from the ball, on the penalty mark, as part of a defensive wall. As Red #3 is starting to take the kick, Blue #8 runs a few yards forward toward the ball. When Red #3 actually kicks the ball, Blue #8 is still inside the Penalty Area, six or eight yards from the ball.

As the Referee moves the whistle to his mouth, the ball caroms off the head of Blue #8, then flies directly into the goal.

Blue #8 has failed to respect the distance at the free kick, a Law 12 violation, and his action was not trifling. Can the Referee apply advantage, and award the goal to Red? Or must the Referee consider that the restart was not properly taken, likely caution Blue #8, and order the kick retaken (ATR 13.5)?

I know that we have a decision matrix for resolving violations by attackers and/or defenders at a Penalty Kick, but I wasn’t certain whether similar principles could be applied to Free Kicks.

USSF answer (January 25, 2005):
Of course the referee may apply the advantage clause in this situation. The referee may award the goal and then take any appropriate disciplinary action against the player who failed to remain the required distance from the ball.


CAUTIONABLE OR NOT?
Your question:
Let me say that I’ve been enjoying the Extra Player (a rostered but virtual Outside Agent) situation because it is so confusingly intriguing. You’ve introduced me to a very slippery slope.

The referee whistles a stoppage and discovers an Extra Player. The Extra Player is normally cautioned, removed from field and game restarted with Drop Ball —
BUT what if the Extra Player is involved in the stoppage by:
1)Encroaching a Free Kick, Penalty Kick, Goal Kick, Corner Kick, Kickoff or impedes a Throw-in
= the restart will be a re-do Yes No

2)Is Encroached/Impeded while executing any of the above
= the restart will be a re-do Yes No

3)Dissents from referee’s ruling
= Cautioned again Yes No

4)Persists in unsporting play
= Caution is suspended Yes No

5)Commits a reckless act
= Cautioned again Yes No

6)Commits Violence, Spits, Uses language (or body language) that is Offensive, Abusive, Insulting
= Red Card

I’m betting these are all YES answers. How’d I do?

USSF answer (January 20, 2005):
Your first statement: “The referee whistles a stoppage and discovers an Extra Player. The extra player is normally cautioned, removed from field and game restarted with Drop Ball,” is incorrect. It would be correct only if the extra player was the reason for the stoppage. But, because the “extraness” of the player wasn’t discovered until after play had been stopped, the stoppage must have occurred for some other reason. The general principle here is that the extra player, despite being extra, is always fully responsible for all his or her acts performed prior to being discovered (the only logical exception is scoring a goal unless the “extraness” is discovered before play is restarted). If the extra player is discovered only during a stoppage, play is restarted by whatever caused the stoppage (except kick-off for a goal) after the extra player is dealt with.

Provided that the “extra player” is either a named substitute or a player who had left the field with the referee’s permission, the answers to your questions are:
1) Yes.
2) Yes.
3) Yes.
4) No; why would the caution be “suspended”?
5) Yes; and then sent off for having received a second caution in the game.
6) Yes.

2004 Part 4

Your question:
Upon reading one of your answers in the “Past Questions” section I am prompted to ask the following: Do the administrators of a (youth) tournament have the ability to change their competion rules to allow the referee to display disciplinary cards to non-players (especially coaches)?I have become an advocate of displaying the cards when a coach is disciplined so as to demonstrate to all the others in attendance that the discipline has been applied. Federation rules allow this and we have found it to be effective in communicating the fact of the discipline to the other coaches (who usually know, already), the players and substitutes, the opposing side (coaches, players, subs) and – most importantly – the spectators.

So, if a USSF-sanctioned tournament has this leeway I would appreciate hearing about it. I would suggest to the administrators for whom I work as Assignor to consider implementing such a rule. I would word is something as follows: “Should the referee determine that disciplinary action is to be taken against a non-player, the referee may, at his/her discretion, elect to display the appropriately colored card if, in the opinion of the referee, such a display will serve the interest of the match in terms of man-management, spectator control, or any other beneficial aspect of the game.”

OK – I guess it’s a two-part questionŠ
If this modification is permitted, would you be in favor of or opposed to such a rule?

USSF answer (January 3, 2005):
Under the Laws of the Game, cards may be displayed only to players and named substitutes and players who have been replaced, and not to any non-players. Unfortunately, some competitions have seen fit to include the possibility of showing the card to non-players (coaches or assistants or managers, etc.).

Our personal opinion is that the practice of showing the card to non-players is non-productive and leads to confusion when referees work in other competitions. This emphasizes the necessity for officials to be fully aware of the rules of every competition in which they work‹and to remember that they need not work for any competition whose rules are contrary to the Laws of the Game.

One wonders how the display of a colored card to a coach or spectator would be any more effective in managing that person’s behavior than the other tricks in the referee’s tool kit. We have inspected the cards closely‹they have no magic in them beyond the referee’s own skills and talents, which can be exercised very well without them. After all, the cards themselves are a fairly recent phenomenon and were intended primarily to be used in situations where players did not speak the same language as the referee.


THE COIN TOSS
Your question:
As a new ref, I want to know who tosses the coin. Referees have explained to me that it is the visiting team, and other referees have said it is the home team. This isn¹t the type of advice that helps a newbie. Can you clarify?

USSF answer (December 29, 2004):
The only thing the Laws tell us is that a coin is tossed. Traditionally, the referee conducts the toss and does the actual toss of the coin. Again traditionally, the referee allows the visiting team to call the toss, but there is nothing written in stone (or any other substance) on this matter.

Given the silliness that can occur, even before a game, it is a brave (or foolish) referee who allows the players to even handle the coin.


CORNER FLAGPOSTS
Your question:
The flagpost [corner type], commonly called the corner flag, are placed “at each corner” of the field. I believe and always understood that that these flagpost(s) are NOT on the field of play, but just touching the outer edge at the intersection of the touch line and the goal line.

Question: Are the corner flagposts of a soccer field on the field of play?

USSF answer (December 22, 2004):
Yes, and they are regarded as a part of the field of play. If the ball hits one of the corner posts and remains on the field, it is still in play.


ACCEPTING/DECLINING ASSIGNMENTS; PLAYING BALL RELEASED BY ‘KEEPER
Your question:
On December 3, 2004 you gave this answer as to what “national tournaments” are: “These would be the National Championships of an organization, such as the finals for the US Youth Soccer Championships (formerly the Snickers Cup) or the USASA National Cup Finals. It also would include the final championships of the Super Y League and US Club Soccer. Such games are assigned at the national level, not locally.”

1. This brings back a question I had when I was assigned to the Y League Finals. Many of the local refs dropped at the last minute because of rescheduling in their men’s league. The assignors sent out an e-mail to all reminding everyone of the above priority policy. Only the U-17s played 90s. Does the priority apply to the younger ages?

2. In general, when are you released from an availability you gave a tournament/league? Ex: If they haven’t told you they’ll be using you within 72 hours of when the matches are and another assignor calls you can you take those games with no more obligation to the first assignor?

3. On a drop kick/punt by the keeper: After the keeper releases it from their hands, but before they kick it, a forward who was not previously preventing them from releasing the ball jumps in front of them and blocks it. Is there an offense?

USSF answer (December 21, 2004):
1. The policy says 90-minute matches, so that would not apply to the younger age groups, but then you would not need the same level of referee for the younger age groups so you should have more available. The assignment priority policy is to protect referees from being disciplined if they turn back a game to take one of the listed matches.

2. You may work for whomever you want as an independent contractor. If your availability changes before you have received an assignment from a particular assignor when you have told them you are available, you should immediately notify that assignor that you are no longer available on that day. Your plans could change in a number of ways after you have turned in availability, so you are always free to say that you cannot accept an assignment; however, common courtesy would dictate that if you accept an assignment for a free weekend, then you notify any other assignors that you are no longer available for those dates.

3. No, provided that the ball has hit the ground and the opponent plays the ball and not the goalkeeper.


IMPROPERLY ATTIRED GOALKEEPER
Your question:
This situation arose in a tournament match: Team A is trailing by one goal late in the match. In an effort to push forward and equalize, Team A substitutes a field player for the goalkeeper. The field player is not dressed as a goalkeeper but as a field player, and the referee team does not catch it. Forty seconds later, Team A equalizes, with the improperly attired goalkeeper on the field. The improperly attired goalkeeper did not touch the ball at any time. The referee realizes the error prior to the kickoff. Does the goal count?
I am assuming that the improperly attired goalkeeper is to be cautioned and that the restart would be a goalkick for Team A’s opponents.

USSF answer (December 16, 2004):
We are a bit confused, but willing to proceed. Let’s take it in order: Do you mean that (1) a player already on the field has exchanged positions with the goalkeeper, or that (2) the team has inserted a new player, dressed like the other field players and removed the goalkeeper altogether, without the permission of the referee? Or do you really and truly mean that (3) the refereeing team was so “unobservant” that they allowed a substitution to take place, but did not realize that the new player entering the game, not wearing the appropriate uniform, was replacing the goalkeeper? And please tell us, if the referee and assistant referees missed the lack of appropriate uniform, how would they know which was the new goalkeeper??

(1) If it was simply a swap of positions, then the correct action is to wait until the next stoppage and caution both players for unsporting behavior. The goal is scored and the restart is a kick-off.

(2) If a new “player” has entered as goalkeeper and the original goalkeeper has left the field (both without permission of the referee), we have a different kettle of fish: Caution and yellow card to the new “goalkeeper” for entering the field without the referee’s permission. Caution and yellow card to the goalkeeper for leaving the field without the referee’s permission. No goal. Restart with a goal kick.

(3) If it was a true substitution in which the goalkeeper left the field and someone came on without the distinctive jersey, then there was no one on the field designated as a keeper. In this case, despite the fact that it was the referee’s fault, because Team A was not playing with a goalkeeper they have been playing in violation of Law 3 and no goal can be scored. The player must be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior and the game restarted with a goal kick.


SAFE PLAYING ENVIRONMENT
Your question:
This fall I have seen many goals at almost every field that were made by the local cities and counties—by welding together pipes ——-replaced—-on every field that I refereed at.

Has there been any legal directives sent out by the States to make sure all recreation goal equipment that is not manufactured by a certified manufacturer be immediately replaced by one that is?

At the high school fields, this is no issue.. when you inspect the goals you can see the tags of the manufacturer— and all are well made.

Have any lawyers across the country made some killings on settlements against towns where injuries have occured to players that were involved in collisions with goal posts that were not made by recognized manufacturers of sporting goods equipment?

Just want to know if you came across if the USSF has any comments on this?

USSF answer (December 9, 2004):
We are not aware of any special directives sent out by the various state associations, by U. S. Soccer, or by the IFAB/FIFA regarding goals, other than the normal requirement of Law 1 that the goals, the field, and all equipment and appurtenances be safe.


HATS/CAPS OR SUNGLASSES FOR REFEREES
Your question:
Is it permitted for a referee to wear a neat, solid black unadorned baseball cap while officiating a USSF match, in addition to the approved uniform? From what I can tell, there is nothing in the Laws of the Game, or the Referee Administrative Handbook that specifically prohibits me from wearing one, but also nothing that specifcally allows it either. I wear prescription glasses when I officiate, and when rain occurs, this gives me problems because of water on the lenses making it very difficult to see. The ball cap helps mitigate this problem.

USSF answer (December 8, 2004):
The USSF policy on sunglasses (and hats) was last published in the October 1999 issue of Fair Play, our referee magazine:
Q. May referees wear caps and sunglasses?
A. With regard to caps, the policy of the United States Soccer Federation was stated in the Spring 1994 issue of Fair Play magazine: “Under normal circumstances, it is not acceptable for a game official to wear headgear, and it would never be seen on a high level regional, national or international competition. However, there may be rare circumstances in local competitions where head protection or sun visors might sensibly be tolerated for the good of the game, e.g. early morning or late afternoon games with sun in the officials’ line of sight causing vision difficulties; understaffed situations where an official with sensitive skin might be pressed into service for multiple games under strong sunlight or a referee who wears glasses needing shielding from rain.” Sunglasses would be subject to the same considerations. In addition, we ask referees to remember that sunglasses have the unfortunate side effect of suggesting that the referee or assistant referee is severely visually impaired and should not be working the game. They also limit communication between the officials and the players by providing a barrier against eye-to-eye contact. Sunglasses, if worn, should be removed prior to any verbal communication with players.

This policy has not changed.


FLAGPOSTS AT THE HALFWAY LINE
Your question:
Why do we have optional halfway line flagposts?

USSF answer (December 6, 2004):
The optional halfway line flagposts are a relic of the dim, distant past when there were no lines on the field and the teams needed guidance to orient themselves.


NUMBER OF PLAYERS AT KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
I just attended a re-certification course in [my state] yesterday. When they came to the kicks from the penalty mark review, I just thought of a situation that may occur after the two teams just completed a very aggressive and what may call a “dirty” game.

SCENARIO:
As the players that were on the pitch when the 2nd extra time ended… all come into the center circle to get ready to take the kicks.. several players say some choice words..and then an all out fight breaks out. The substitutes for each team all come off the benches to join the fight…

The only thing I see the Ref and the AR’s can go is write down the numbers of the players involved…and if someone has a cell phone to call 911 for assistance.

When things get settled down.. the AR’s and Referee compare their notes… I would RED card all players who threw punches.. that were in the center circle when play ended… as of the substitutes who came off the bench.. I would give RED cards to those who made physical contact with the opponents and Yellow cards to those who just came onto the field without permission.

Then, if say there are only 4 players on each side that could qualify to take the kicks… does the rule of at least 7 apply? …and thus the taking of the kicks are abandoned.

Your comments on this please..and how you would approach it.

USSF answer (December 6, 2004):
We cannot speak to how the individual referee should deal with the various players (and substitutes who enter the field), as that is strictly a matter of judgment. The correct decision would be based on the actions of the players and the substitutes. (A full report of whatever measures the referee takes in this situation must be included in the match report, whether it is match termination or not.)

As we all know, the usual requirement for a game to continue is at least seven players on the field (or, at the end of regulation time, off the field for treatment or equipment repair). However, this requirement has no bearing on the number of players for kicks from the penalty mark, as that process is not part of the regular game. A team may continue kicks from the penalty mark with as few as one player remaining on the field.

This is documented in the IFAB/FIFA Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (2004) under Law 14, Q&A L:
L) During the taking of kicks from the penalty mark, a team has fewer than seven players. Should the referee abandon the kicks from the penalty mark?
No. Kicks from the penalty mark are not part of the match


WHAT IS A “NATIONAL TOURNAMENT”?
Your question:
I have a questions concerning a definition in the Referee Administrative Handbook. Page 39 indicates the priority for assignments. Number 10 is National Tournaments (Adult and Youth matches – must be 90 min. in length). The question is to be a National Tournament is it assigned locally or by the National Office?

USSF answer (December 3, 2004):
These would be the National Championships of an organization, such as the finals for the US Youth Soccer Championships (formerly the Snickers Cup) or the USASA National Cup Finals. It also would include the final championships of the Super Y League and US Club Soccer. Such games are assigned at the national level, not locally.


NEITHER A BORROWER NOR A LENDER BE TO UNAUTHORIZED REFEREES
Your question:
Is there EVER an occasion when it is permissable for an UNCERTIFIED individual to be placed on the field as a center or AR (for any age group in any play situation),  wearing an official referee uniform and a current referee badge? If so, under what circumstances and if not, what are the consequences to the assignor and/or individual misrepresenting his qualifications?

If this is in fact an offense, what are the consequences to the individual loaning his “badge” out to anyone knowing they are not certified?

Is it ever permissable to “loan” your badge to anyone after being told “mine was stolen, damaged, cannot find it – can I borrow yours”. Is their any responsibility to the individual legitimately holding a current badge to verify such comment?

Is there ever a situation where an UNCERTIFIED individual can work as a center or AR during ANY play situation wearing an official uniform without displaying a badge?

What are the requirements to CERTIFIED referees (any class) to safe guard their badge?

These questions are a little redundant, but wanted to make sure I covered all possible scenarios.

USSF answer (November 29, 2004):
No, an unregistered referee may not wear the U. S. Soccer Federation referee badge. The referee who “lends” such a person a badge is not doing anyone a favor, but is participating in fraud.

According to  Section 1 of US Soccer Policy 531-8, Assignment of Game Officials (Former Rule 3040), unregistered persons are not permitted to officiate games played under the aegis of US Soccer.
“Section 1. Registration Required Prior to Assignment
“No one shall officiate as a referee or assistant referee in any match under the sanction or jurisdiction (direct or indirect) of the United States Soccer Federation who is not registered with the Federation for the current year unless that person is a visiting foreign referee who has been properly accredited by his or her national association.”

However, according to Section 2 of Policy 531-8,
“Section 2. Unregistered Referee in Emergency
“If, because of unforeseen circumstances, a currently registered referee is unable to officiate or does not appear for an assigned match, a person may then be designated at match time to act as referee in the emergency for that one match.”

No referee should ever loan the referee badge or uniform to an unauthorized person to wear in a game. This would be a violation of Item 12 of the Referee Code of Ethics:
“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.”


CHARGING FAIRLY
Your question:
Are there any sources where I can learn what is pushing and what is not pushing from a foul perspective and when the interpretation according to an official is the determining factor?

I coach in a recreational U10 & U12 age group and of course the exact technical method of a legal charge and when it is excessive is a cause for great contention among officials, coaches, players and parents/spectators.  The issue gets more complex when you add the natural tendencies of players to protect or defend themselves or in an attempt to retain/gain possession of the ball.

I am specifically looking for:
A) the definition of a legal/illegal shoulder charge
B) the extent the arms may or may not be used
C) relative to pre-contact, contact and post-contact.

A couple of common examples would be:
A player has possession of the ball and is in movement down the field and notes a defender closing down.
1) Both players make legal shoulder contact (not with excessive violence); both players near side arms are not involved. At some point after legal shoulder contact one player lifts their arm bent 90 degrees at the elbow pushing/lifting/moving the other player away.  The defender or original attacker may or may not retain/gain possession of the ball after the arm movement.  I am interested in both situations.
2) Prior to legal shoulder charge contact the attacker notes the defender closing down and plays the ball to an outside foot to retain possession and assumes a wider stance while lifting the arms bent 90 degrees at the elbow. The defender makes contact, the attacker does not extend the forearm or hands but maintains the elbows out.
3) Same situation as #2, but after the defender makes contact with the attacker¹s arms/bodyŠthe defender lifts their arms in the same manner, but under the attackers arms causing the attacker to lose balance.
4) Two players going after a 50/50 ball make legal shoulder contact and fight for position to gain the ballŠ.in the struggle their near side arms are used to gain an advantage in front of the other player.  How much latitude should be allowed or is it mainly the official¹s interpretation of natural movement vs trying to gain an advantage, guessing at the intent, etcŠto determine if a foul has occurred?

There are of course endless possibilities of combinations.

I can not seem to find clear definitions of what is permitted or not and/or guidelines used to determine a foul, or the extent contact is allowed for age specific groups. (i.e. rec vs select vs high school, college, professional) Any guidelines or example references would be greatly appreciated. I try to start each season by giving examples of what a foul is or is notŠalong with a little Œconduct¹ talk for the parents. But in this caseŠI am not EXACTLY sure on how to interpret the gray areas related to the use of the arms when the intent of the player may not be obvious.

USSF answer (November 28, 2004):
It is a pleasure to hear from a coach who wants his players to play the game correctly. We join with you in hoping that the referees call the game correctly. These guidelines are what referees are taught to call, but some of us become lazy or complacent as we move along in life, and we tend to think we know it all and don’t have to review.

A) There is no other sort of charge than a “shoulder charge”; no hips, no hands, no holds or pushes. A fair charge is shoulder to shoulder, elbows (on the contact side) against the body, with each player having at least one foot on the ground and both attempting to gain control of the ball. The amount of force allowed is relative to the age and experience of the players, but should never be excessive. This is as defined by the referee on the game, not some book definition, adjusted as necessary for the age and experience of the players and what has happened or is happening in this particular game on this particular day at this particular moment. It all boils down to what is best for the referee’s management and the players’ full enjoyment of the game.

Although often overlooked by spectators, it is important to remember that a player’s natural endowments (speed, strength, height, heft, etc.) may be superior to that of the opponent who is competing with that player for the ball. As a completely natural result, the opponent may not only be bested in the challenge but may in fact wind up on the ground‹with no foul having been committed. The mere fact that a player fails in a challenge and falls or is knocked down is what the game is all about (and why coaches must choose carefully in determining which player marks which opponent). Referees do not handicap players by saddling them with artificial responsibilities to be easy on an opponent simply because they are better physically endowed in some way.

Fair charges include actions which do not strictly meet the “shoulder-to-shoulder” requirement when this is not possible because of disparities in height or body type (a common occurrence in youth matches in the early teenage range where growth spurts differ greatly on an individual level within the age group). Additionally, a fair charge can be directed toward the back of the shoulder if the opponent is shielding the ball, provided it is not done dangerously and never to the spinal area.

B) The arms may not be used at all, other than for balance‹which does not include pushing off or holding the opponent.

C) There is no change prior to, during, or after contact.

You should be able to determine the answers to subquestions 1)-3) from the information above.


WAITING FOR THE SIGNAL
Your question:
A free kick has been awarded either direct or indirect. The kicking team asks the referee to enforce the ” ten yard rule.” Does the kicking team then have to wait for a whistle to take the kick?

USSF answer (November 24, 2004):
Yes, the team must wait for the whistle or whatever other signal the referee has instructed them to expect. They have asked the referee for a “ceremonial” free kick, and so must put up with the entire ritual.


‘KEEPER BOBBLES AT OFFSIDE SITUATION
Your question:
If a shot on goal deflects off the keeper’s hands to an opponent in an offside position, the flag should go up. But if the keeper bobbles the ball, or makes the save and then bobbles the ball, and the player in the offside position pounces on it, is this a new play (no flag) or a continuation of the shot-on-goal play (flag goes up)?

USSF answer (November 20, 2004):
You are correct in your first statement. However, if the ‘keeper bobbles the ball, he or she has not established control or possession and the player in the offside position who becomes actively involved should be called offside. If the ‘keeper establishes possession and then bobbles the ball, there is no offside. It is a matter of timing and degree, and the intelligent referee (or assistant referee) will be able to figure it out.


DENIAL OF OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY
Your question:
I addressed the subject question you answered in the Update of February 3, 2004. Specifically, I asked whether it was an offense for a player to grab a goal post to gain a tactical advantage. Your answer, in part, was, “As long as the defender does not use the goal post to support himself or keep his arm on it to bar an opponent from getting through, there is no offense.”

At our Soccer Referee Association meeting last night, the following game situation was posed and discussed:  A corner kick is taken. A defender grabs the goal post and uses it to vault himself up to head the ball away. The defender successfully heads the ball away which otherwise would have entered the upper corner of the goal. The defender does not move the goal itself, does not interfere with an attacker in front of the goal, and does not otherwise commit an offense.

In discussing this game situation, I brought up the Ask a Referee Q & A which I cited above in stating that I believed that the defender’s action constituted misconduct (USB) and should be cautioned and the game restarted with an IFK for the attacking team.

However, another member thought that if the ball was, in the referee’s judgment, headed into the goal but for the defender heading it away, that such conduct constituted a Sending-Off Offense (denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent moving toward the goal by committing an offense punishable by a free kick or penalty kick) and that the defender should be sent off and a penalty kick awarded.

As to this opinion, two of the three elements of this Sending-Off Offense apparently have been satisfied in that there was an obvious goal scoring opportunity and the commission of an offense punishable by a free kick.

However, the issue is whether or not the element of this Sending-Off Offense requiring that an obvious goal scoring opportunity be denied _to an opponent moving toward the goal_ has been met. In other words, can the attacker taking the corner kick be considered as “moving toward the goal?” As a related question, in terms of the analysis of this element of this Sending-Off Offense, in identifying the attacker moving toward the goal, must it be the attacker who last touched the ball prior to the offense?

USSF answer (November 20, 2004):
A very interesting question and a point we had not considered before. Thank you for this opportunity.

On the one hand, the Law requires that the opponent, not the ball, be moving toward the goal for there to have been a denial of a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity through an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick. Therefore, despite the fact that the defender committed unsporting behavior by using the goal post as an artificial support, which is an offense punishable by a free kick, the defender has not denied the opposing kicker a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity within the meaning of the Law through this unsporting act.

On the other hand, the Law does not require that the player denied the goal or goalscoring opportunity must have been the last to play the ball, nor that any player on that team have been the last to play the ball. In this case, if the defender had to raise himself high enough to head the ball away through the use of the goal post, it is unlikely that an opponent might have raised himself high enough without that aid to play the ball.

The decision in cases like this must rest with the referee on the spot, as only that referee can judge whether conditions were correct.


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Defense plays ball back to goalie, goalie picks up ball,this is an indirect because it is inside 18. The ball is closer to the goal than 10 yd. Where could the defenders stand?

USSF answer (November 11, 2004):
No nearer to the ball than the nearest spot on the goal line, between the goal posts, yet still on the field.


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER; FIELD MARKINGS
Your question:
I have two questions:
1.A defender plays the ball deliberately with their foot from their own penalty area to the side of the goal, possibly with the intention of sending the ball out of the penalty area to avoid a situation with an offensive player and incurring a corner kick. But then the goalkeeper runs and catches the ball within the penalty area to the side of the goal. I assert that Paragraph 12.20 of “Advice to Referees” clearly indicates this should be an IFK, but other “senior” referees assert that no infraction has occurred, and to whistle an infraction is against the “Spirit of the Laws” since the ball was not played to the goalkeeper.

2. The goal line between the goal posts is offset forward from the goal posts. I have seen this be as little as 1-2 inches to as much as 1-2 feet,and wascaused by an untrained line painter avoiding the goal posts. I assert that a goal should be judged in close situations either by the referee or the ARby the goal posts, not the goal line, even if the offset is only an inch. And I assert that the opposing team captains and coaches should be informed of this guideline prior to the start of the game. Are these assertions correct?

USSF answer (November 10, 2004):
1. The decision on whether kicked passes to the goalkeeper are deliberate or not always rests with the referee on the spot. While we do not necessarily agree with the “senior referees,” it is safe to say that this possible infringement may be ignored if it is truly trifling.

2. Marking the field is the responsibility of the home team. Any problems should be included in the referee’s match report. If the goal lines are off by as much as you suggest, the game should not be started until the situation has been remedied in one way or another, possibly by removing the false line and replacing it with a correct one. If all else fails, play the game, but remember that to be scored as a goal, the ball must cross the goal line BETWEEN THE GOAL POSTS AND BENEATH THE CROSSBAR, not 1-2 inches or 1-2 feet out from them.


USE OF THE ADVANTAGE; SCREAMING COACHES
Your question:
I was watching a U13 Girls game yesterday and the following occurred. White was attacking Blue’s goal when a Blue player handled the ball in the box. The CR did not immediately call the foul, but after a few seconds, the ball was kicked over the end line, at which time the CR called the handling foul and gave White a PK. White subsequently scored resulting in a 1-1 tie. Blue’s coach began screaming that the CR couldn’t call the foul that late, and even got into a verbal confrontation with a White parent over it. Note that he did not dispute the foul, just the timing of the call.

What was the correct conclusion to this situation?

USSF answer (November 9, 2004):
It is usually unwise to play the advantage in the penalty area. That said, the referee may invoke the advantage clause and, if the advantage is not realized within the brief time span of 2-3 seconds, may call it back and award the free kick for the foul or misconduct.

In fact, the referee may have done just fine. Here is what we advise advanced-level referees to do when the defense commits a foul inside the penalty area: wait the 2-3 seconds and see what happens immediately thereafter. If the ball goes immediately into the net, the gods of soccer have proven themselves just; if it doesn’t, call the foul and restart with the penalty kick.

Don’t pay much attention to screaming coaches or let them influence anything you do. Most coaches don’t know very much about the Laws of the Game and how referees are supposed to make decisions, but they are happy to try to influence calls all the same. [But see item below dated November 7, where the coach is right and the referee wrong.]


FIVE REFEREES???/GOALKEEPER PRESENCE
Your question:
With 1:45 left in the game Team A pulled their keeper and put another player on (without goal keeper apparel) the referee noted the change and then Team A threw the ball in play. The AR was waving his flag for about 15 seconds and then finally put it down and let the play go on, Team A then scored about 15 seconds after the AR put his flag down. The player substituted in on the play never came within 30 yards of the ball and had no effect on the play. (They had 5 refs for this game 3 reffing and 1 on each teams side.) they disallowed the goal, put the time of the throw in back on the clock and started with a throw in from the original throw in with 1:45 on the clock and then that was that.

Is this the correct action? I know this what would be done if there was an extra player on Team A, but I wasn’t sure what the action was if the team did not play with a goalkeeper.

USSF answer (November 8, 2004):
Five referees on a game? What kind of rules are these? This game cannot have been played under the aegis of the United States Soccer Federation, as it did not follow the Laws of the Game. And those referees who were there did not follow the Laws of the Game, so we can only suppose that this game was not affiliated with USSF or USYS. (Perhaps some sort of high school game?)

The Laws of the Game call for one referee and two assistant referees, aided at the higher levels of play by a fourth official. Only American football uses a platoon of referees.

Under the Laws of the Game no team may play without a goalkeeper. The goalkeeper does not need to be on the field if a goal is scored, but must be part of the team. (See answer of October 13, 2004: “THE GOALKEEPER DOES NOT NEED TO BE STANDING OR EVEN IN THE PENALTY AREA.”) Furthermore, we do NOT roll back game events and time on the clock to some point at which the team presumably was “whole”– we simply resolve the situation and then move onward.

The conduct of this game should be reported to the competition authority and to the state soccer association(s).


“EXTRA PLAYER”
Your question:
Can you bear a bit more discussion on this issue? [See item below dated November 2, 2004.]

With the change to the restart following the discovery of the extra player immediately after the scoring of an apparent goal by the offending team, it seems the IFAB is trying to say the offending team will be penalized as if the discovery was made instantaneously before the ball entered the goal.

Now let me pose my scenarios:

We have the subject situation, and the “oversized” team is awarded a PK, at which time the presence of the extraneous player is discovered. Do we negate the foul leading to the PK, and conduct a drop ball, or continue with the PK?

We have the subject situation, and the “correctly-sized” team is cited for a foul which in normal circumstances would subject the foulling player to being Sent Off for denying an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity. (For simplicity, let’s say it wasn’t VC or SFP in and of itself.) Now the extra player on the fouled team is discovered which meant the Opportunity was not really there, as the goal would have disallowed on this new ruling. Do we “un-Send-Off” the foulling player?

These kinds of questions keep me up nights!

USSF answer (November 8, 2004):
The answer to the first question is that it depends on whether or not the extraneous player was the one who was fouled. If so, the act was misconduct, not a foul, so no penalty kick can be awarded. The extraneous player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field without the referee’s permission. The game is restarted with a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when the misconduct occurred. If the extraneous player was not the one who was fouled, then the penalty kick may proceed after the extraneous player is cautioned and removed from the game.

The second situation is resolved in a similar manner, except that there can be no send-off for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity. In that case, the opponent who committed the “foul” on the extraneous player may still be sent off for violent conduct if the actual act was committed with excessive force.


GOALKEEPER LEAVES PENALTY AREA ON PUNT
Your question:
In a recent game, the goalie collected the ball and ran to the 18 to punt. When he punted the ball he was across the line. I called the foul. The coach questioned the call at the half saying that he believes that the goalie can toss the ball over the 18 and then make contact(punt). That is how he coaches his goalies to get an extra step. I didn’t see the toss over the line and even if he did-would that be considered a second touch?

USSF answer (November 7, 2004):
Yes, the coach is correct. The goalkeeper may release the ball before leaving the penalty area and then kick the ball while outside the area. The goalkeeper is allowed to kick the ball outside the penalty area, provided he does not carry the ball over the line–but even crossing the line while releasing the ball is a very trivial offense, particularly if the goalkeeper is clearly putting the ball back into play for everyone.

The term “second touch” does not apply in this situation.


WASTING TIME VERSUS USING TIME
Your question:
As the coach for a U-18 Girls team I attempt to teach them proper time management of the situations they face during matches. If they are leading and a ball goes out of bounds, they take their time to get the ball and take the restart. If we are losing and the ball goes out of bounds on us, they run to the ball, set it up for the opposing team so the other team can take a faster restart. I see these tactics used at every level, it is part of the game. We have received stern warnings from the officials to get the ball in play as quick as possible. We have also seen yellow cards issued for kicking the ball “too far” out of play allowing our team to get numbers back and recover their shape defensively. My point is; if the other team wants the game to flow continuously, they should not have kicked the ball out of bounds. If they think we are taking too much time on our restart, they have the option of spending their energy to chase the ball and set it up for us to restart. It makes no sense for my players to run to the ball wasting their energy, while the other team is standing and recovering their breath, to get the ball back in play quickly allowing more time for the opposing team to score on us. If the official thinks that we are wasting time he has the discretion to add time to the end of the match.

My questions are: (1) Is this a cautionable offense? (2) Does the official have the right to speak sternly to my players? (3) Is this not a tactic used at all levels? (4) What law covers kicking the ball “too far” out of bounds (5) What law dictates that players must jog to recover a ball kicked out of bounds by the opposing team?

USSF answer (November 4, 2004):
(1) It can be a cautionable offense if the player does not react quickly to the referee’s instructions to get the ball back into play.
(2) Yes, if it is deserved.
(3) Yes, and it should be punished at all levels if it goes beyond allowable limits–which are set by the individual referee, based on this moment in this game on this day. There is no standard for all referees in this matter. (4 and 5) As you suggest, the referee should simply add time if a team kicks the ball too far out of play. The referee should also make allowances for the distance that the team with the restart has to cover to retrieve the ball. However, if the referee determines that the team with the restart is exceeding a reasonable limit in getting the ball back into play, the referee may caution the player for delaying the restart of play–although this is usually preceded by a warning.


REFEREES DON’T SEE FOULS AGAINST OUR TEAM
Your question:
There is a team that my daughter has played against for 2 to three years that has consistently thrown elbows off the ball and do it in a way that conceals it away from the center referee. The first time I heard my daughter complain to me my first thought was that they were playing hard and she was just upset about it. I watched closely and observed what she was complaining about. During a game about a year ago I asked the side referee to please watch these girls throwing elbows into the side of our girls and he actually acknowledged that is what he saw but deferred to the center ref (he told me that was the center refs call). Unfortunately when the foul was acknowledged but disregarded it did not sit well with me. The team my daughter plays on is a fair team that wins as many as they lose and the coach emphasizes fair play and good sportsmanship. That was important to me. I understand that their is only one center ref and can not see what all 22 kids are doing at each moment of the game. My concern has never been with the outcome of this game but with the safety of these kids. How can I approach this before something happens to one of our kids or one of the kids on the other teams?

USSF answer (November 3, 2004):
There would seem to be two courses of action open to you. The first is to write a letter to the league (or whatever the competition is), noting the behavior of the other team. The second is to write a letter to the State Referee Administrator about the referees who have done these games. (You will have to include full details as to date, place, teams, etc.). Approaching an individual referee would be of absolutely no use .

In addition, you have either misunderstood what the “side referee”‹actually called the assistant referee‹said or the “side referee” misunderstood his proper role. That role is NOT to routinely defer to the referee on all decisions about fouls, but to assist the referee (in accordance with Law 6) by signaling offenses not seen by the referee for which the referee would likely have stopped play had he seen them. At minimum, the assistant referee can also bring to the referee’s attention individual instances of behavior or patterns of behavior which he has observed but for which he did not signal.


CHANGING THE DECISION
Your question:
Player from Team A shoots. Keeper from Team B gains possession of the ball on the ground between the posts near the goal line and stands up. The Referee looks to the AR who has maintained position near the goal line and asks the AR “was that a goal?” The AR answers “no” and shakes his head. The Referee allows the Keeper from team B to continue play.

After 60 to 90 seconds the coach from Team A confronts the AR and tells the AR that a goal was scored. The AR signals the Referee and indicates that a goal was scored and the Referee stops play, indicates a goal was scored and restarts with a kickoff.

Setting aside the illegal interference by Team A’s coach, is there a provision in the Law that allows a Referee stop play to award a goal once he has allowed play to continue in this, or any manner?

USSF answer (November 3, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game, the referee is entitled to change a decision as long as there has been no intervening restart. However, in this case the decision was unwarranted and foolish. The referee and the assistant referee had already agreed that there was no goal and the referee allowed play to continue. The referee has no authority to solicit or accept the opinion of an outside party, particularly one who is vitally interested in the outcome of the game.


RULES OF THE COMPETITION VERSUS LAWS OF THE GAME
Your question:
My question involves substitution for the cautioned(yellow card) player. What is the rule for USSF youth games? I believe the player cannot be substituted unless it occurs during a substitution opportunity. Suppose I caution a player for a reckless foul, the restart being a direct free kick for the opposing team. A player cannot substitute for him under USSF youth rules; however under FIFA, the team may sub for him and under High school rules, he must leave the field and the team may or may not sub depending on their preference. Am I correct?

USSF answer (November 3, 2004):
The rule for youth games is exactly the same as for the rest of the world‹a player may be substituted at any stoppage of play. That rule is sometimes modified by local rules of competition to restrict the number of opportunities for substitution. There is also a rule that no player may be forced to leave the field because of being cautioned. That rule may not be modified by any competition.

And you are in error about “USSF youth rules,” which are actually those of US Youth Soccer. The USYS rules call for competitions to follow the Laws of the Game on substitution, with the single modification that, after having been substituted out, players may enter once again as substitutes later in the game. Again, some local rules of competition fail to follow this guidance from USYS.

You are probably thinking about what used to be considered the “standard youth exceptions” from the Referee Administrative Handbook, which will soon be removed from that book. You are correct with regard to high school rules.


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Regarding this question and answer on the “current topics” page: Is the answer the same if the ball deflects off the keeper’s teammate (instead of an opponent)?
QUOTE
BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO GOALKEEPER
Question:
A teammate deliberately kicks the ball, with his foot to his own keeper. On the way to the keeper, the ball deflects off an opponent. May the keeper now legally handle the ball?

Answer (October 5, 2004):
In this case, the goalkeeper may handle the ball legally. Under the Law it is the actual handling that constitutes the offense, not the pass. In this case, the opponent’s deflection has negated the original deliberate kick to the goalkeeper. END OF QUOTE

USSF answer (November 2, 2004):
Yes, the answer would be the same.


“EXTRA PLAYER”
Your question:
I have just become aware of an apparent contradiction between the IFAB 2004 Q&A document, and the Entry Level Course content. I draw your particular attention to Q&A Questions 7 and 8 under Law 3. In this scenario, we are presented with an evident contradiction to the Entry Level Course transparencies 3-19 and 3-20. I am referring to the situation in which a team’s status of playing with an unauthorized (even an “extra”) person is discovered either during play or after an apparent goal. Still in force is the fact that the extraneous person will be Cautioned and asked to leave the field of play, and in the second instance, the goal will not be allowed.

The issue becomes the restart, which, as we have been teaching it, would be an IFK to the opposing team, or in the second instance, a goal kick by that team. This Q&A document would have us instead conduct a drop-ball in both cases, at the spot where the ball was, if play was stopped for the discovery; or, if after the apparent goal, on the goal-area line parallel to the goalline, nearest to where the ball entered the goal. On the face of it, this seems a rather advantageous treatment for a team caught trying to cheat, and somewhat “arbitrary” in the specification of the placement. (It also violates one of my favorite Law parameters, in that once something has happened, nothing subsequent to that occurence will change the restart. In this case, the ball going over the goalline, not ultimately resulting in a goal, thereby leading to a goalkick, made sense.)

Has the Federation decided on how to treat this apparent discontinuity? As we enter the off-season, with the attendent high number of Entry Level Courses, having this difference between published IFAB data and information on the USSF website is worrisome.

USSF answer (November 2, 2004):
What you point out is not an “apparent contradiction,” it’s an evolving interpretation by the IFAB. The entry-level course materials predate FIFA’s issuance of the IFAB’s new version of its Q&A. It is incumbent on referees, instructors, and assessors to remain current on the Laws of the Game, along with all current interpretations, instructions, and guidelines. The new IFAB Q&A has been available on the FIFA website since the middle of this year.

As for the restart itself, the IFAB appears to have decided to standardize the restart whenever “extra” persons are discovered on the field of play-whether that extra person is a player who has returned without the referee’s permission, a substitute who has entered without the referee’s permission, or an outside agent (i.e., anyone else) -no matter what happens afterward. The placement of the restart is a practical issue. All dropped balls are where the ball was when play was stopped: if the ball was off the field (thus appearing to have stopped play), the IFAB guideline suggests that the dropped ball take place where the ball left the field. If this results in the restart being inside the goal area, then we have another rule that kicks in-that the restart be moved up to the top of the goal area on the six yard line closest to where the restart would otherwise have been.


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Regarding the question and answer of October 5, 2004: Is the answer the same if the ball deflects off the keeper’s teammate (instead of an opponent) when the ball is kicked to the goalkeeper?

USSF answer (October 29, 2004):
Yes, the answer would be the same.


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
In a recent match the defender, under great pressure, deliberately passes the ball back to his keeper with his knee. The ball was bouncing by him and he ³helped² it along by using his knee. The referee called for the indirect as soon as the referee handled it. I was always taught that the pass back to the keeper ³foul² has to be with the foot and the foot is defined as ankle down. Please clarify.

USSF answer (October 29, 2004):
If, in the opinion of the referee, the player deliberately kicked the ball to the goalkeeper or to a place where the goalkeeper could easily play it, the requirements of the Law have been met as soon as the goalkeeper handles the ball. We should add that “kicking” the ball with the knee would not truly fall within the realm of kicking, so this situation would not appear to be an infringement.


REFEREE APPAREL IN NON-REFEREEING MODE
Your question:
In a recent youth match (U-12 recreational), one of the assistant coaches was observed wearing a warmup jacket with a conspicuous “National Referee Program” logo on the front. We have always advised our referees that, when they are at a field on the sidelines as a coach, they should not be wearing anything that calls attention to the fact that they are a referee. When a note was sent to the coach after the match requesting that they not come attired in this manner in the future, this individual, who indicated that they were a “national referee” requested that we cite an official source where this guidance is published. I know that the fellow referees I work with usually have two warmup jackets with them – one with referee insignia when working as an official, and one without, when on the sidelines in any other capacity. Is there guidance documented anywhere? Or is our practice to request referees acting as coaches not wear referee related attire another myth that has trickled down through the years?

USSF answer (October 27, 2004):
Referees should exercise common sense and not wear their uniform or other clothes that identify them as referees when they are coaching or watching a game. Wearing such clothing as a spectator invites comment and cries out for spectators or others to question the non-working referee on the calls of the officials on the field. Wearing such clothing as a coach could be considered a form of gamesmanship.


GOAL OR NO GOAL?
Your question:
I was an AR in an U19 game yesterday and the following happened and I need your opinion: The attacking teams right wing was in front of me and getting ready to shoot on goal and shot when she was charged and fouled. I raised my flag to indicate a foul and before the center blew his whistle the ball was in flight towards and goal and subsequently went in the goal. The goalie stopped when she heard the whistle and made no attempt to stop the goal.

The question is, since the ball was already in flight should the goal have been counted?

USSF answer (October 27, 2004):
No, it should not. The referee’s whistle stops play immediately. In actual fact, play stops as soon as the referee decides to punish an infringement, even if the whistle has not yet been blown.

The real question here is how and why the refereeing team got itself into this situation in the first place. You should not have raised the flag unless the foul clearly fell within the “out of the view of the referee” criterion (which seems highly unlikely if the fouled player had the ball at the time and was preparing a shot on goal). The referee should not be too quick to whistle immediately after the AR raises the flag, etc., etc. And your scenario also suggests that the referee was not in proper position at the moment you flagged for the foul. Many mistakes here that need to be considered and rectified.


FEINTING AT PENALTY KICKS OR KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
A question arose the other day, in a class, to which you might enlighten us. In the recent USSF memorandum “Kicks From the Penalty Mark (updated)”, at the end of the memorandum, there is a list of the actions of the kicker that are to be considered unsporting behavior. In Particular, theat “he makes any motion of the hand or arm which is clearly intended to misdirect the attention of the goalkeeper” seems clearly to discourage any “feinting” that is intended to draw the keeper off his line before the ball is put into play. It would be beneficial to see an example(s) of a feint by the kicker that the current interpretation of the laws intends referees to allow.

USSF answer (October 27, 2004):
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, 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 referee is the sole judge of what constitutes unsporting behavior during penalty kicks or kicks from the penalty mark.

Any caution of the kicker for any of the prohibited activities (e. g., running past the ball and then backing up, making hand/arm gestures to deceive, making a long convoluted run to the ball) would be written up as unsporting behavior.


REMOVAL OF EXTRA PLAYER‹DON’T REACH IMMEDIATELY FOR THE CARD!
Your question:
Youth competitions usually have unlimited substitutions, so the composition of a team often changes during a half and almost certainly between halves.  If a referee determines there are too many players on the pitch (for whatever reason), how do we single out one in particular to receive the caution? To use the example from the previous extra player question, if a player is sent off in the first half and, after the start of the second half the referee discovers 11 players, who gets the card?  Should we remember the last substitution and caution that player? Or, should we caution who ever leaves the field?

USSF answer (October 27, 2004):
It would be nice if this could be one of those serendipitous moments when the referee could select which ever player had offended the Spirit of the Game the most during the previous portion of the game. Alas, that is not to be. The referee will allow the captain to select the player to be removed. (The captain may wish to consult with the coach, but the referee will NOT do so.)

Incidents like this make a clear case for not starting the second half without confirming with each assistant referee (AR) that they have checked for the appropriate number of players at their ends of the field. Without a clear indication that this was done intentionally for an unfair advantage, a caution should be a last resort since the officials (the referee and at least one AR) are also culpable.


AR MUST ASSIST, NOT INSIST
Your question:
Just this past weekend, I was reffing the final game of a U12 classic tournament so of course the parents and coaches were very into the game. Anyway, I was an assistant referee and on almost every singal call the center ref would call it the other way. This extended all the way until a penalty kick which cost one team the game. After the game, me, my friend who was the other AR, and the center walked off the field together to avoid getting beat. On our way off the field, the parents were screaming at us and once we were in the parking lot, a man started following me and my friend, this is after the center left. During the game, one coach was dismissed and the other was on the verge of being dismissed.

I was wondering what I should do in the future if this situation arises and also what I should do about the center who completely contradicted all of my calls. Thank you for your time

USSF answer (October 27, 2004):
We understand your concern about the poor calls, but it is not your job to correct the referee. The task of the assistant referee is spelled out in the title of the position: a-s-s-i-s-t. Nowhere in the Laws does it say anything about “insist.” Do the best you can under the circumstances and then submit a report of your own to the assignor and the state referee administration. You will have done your duty to the referee program and to the game. The state referee administration will take it from there.

We also share your concern about being confronted by spectators, coaches, or players after the match is over, particularly where they appear to be pursuing you. That can be very disconcerting. Being in the company of others in these circumstances is a good idea, but the tournament managers also have an obligation to see to the safety of the officials. Should a similar situation arise again (heaven forfend!), you might consider seeking out whatever tournament officials (field marshal, referee tent, etc.) are nearby and make it clear that you expect their assistance. If it is not given wholeheartedly, you should also consider notifying your local assignor or referee association regarding the problem.


IMPROPERLY TAKEN GOAL KICK
Your question:
What is the correct call after the following play: Player takes goal kick. Ball only goes five yards or so. Player then picks up ball and retakes goal kick. Since ball did not leave penalty area, can player retake goal kick or is it a hand ball and penalty kick is awarded to other team. If goal kick can be retaken, can player be cautioned for time wasting?

USSF answer (October 27, 2004):
The ball is out of play on a goal kick. That means that no foul can be committed until the ball is back in play. You do not have the power or the authority to overturn the Laws of the Game and call deliberate handling and then award a penalty kick. The kick must be retaken. If it suits the referee’s game-management needs, the player might be cautioned for delaying the restart of play or unsporting behavior, depending on the circumstances, and shown the yellow card. (There is no caution for “time wasting.”) However, to do this, the referee must be convinced that the delay was for the purpose of gaining an unfair tactical advantage and, second, that the referee had warned the player first to get the ball back into play correctly.


GOALKEEPER CARRIES BALL TRIFLING DISTANCE OVER PENALTY AREA LINE TO RELEASE IT
Your question:
The situation is that a goalkeeper runs to the edge of the penalty box to kick the ball. A linesman calls ‘hands’ for an indirect kick saying the kick was outside the penalty box. Our video seemed to show that contact with the ball was completed before the penalty box line.

The question is, when is a goalkeeper kick considered a hand ball? Is the designation where the ball is located when in contact with the hand or foot, where the player ends up after the kick or some other consideration? If the penalty relies on the position of the ball, does the ball have to be completely out of the box or in the box?

USSF answer (October 26, 2004):
First things first: If the referee were to agree with the assistant referee (not linesman) on the infringement, the correct restart would be a direct free kick for deliberate handling, not an indirect free kick.

Now to the situation itself: No matter what your video shows–and videos are not admissible evidence in the referee’s decision-making process–the assistant referee was probably overzealous and a bit quick on the trigger in flagging this possible infringement. Especially at the youth level, the intelligent referee will allow the play to continue and warn the goalkeeper about keeping better track of where the lines are.

Under the letter of the Law, if the goalkeeper’s hand and the ball are together, outside the penalty area line, then the goalkeeper has deliberately handled the ball outside the penalty area. Under the Spirit of the Law, however, this is probably a trifling infringement, one that could be dealt with verbally, as indicated above.


FOULING THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
My family belongs to [an AYSO region]. The question I have is: In division U10 girls when a ball has been kicked to score a goal and the goalie is attempting to stop (her position was over the ball with her back on top and her arm around the ball..you could see she was attempting to turn around is the opponent allowed to continue play to score.. what took place was in my mind awful..the opponent kicked our teams goalie in the head not once but twice and the referee said nothing as the game was within seconds of ending. After the whistle was blown and game called the goalie approached the referee crying hysterically and told the referee she was kicked in the head twice. The referee’s response was,” well, the ball was still in play.” The child who happened to be mine came over to tell me this. I see no AYSO philosophy in letting a little 9yr girl being told this by a Director/Referee/Parent. My question is was this referee correct in his call?

USSF answer (October 26, 2004):
An official AYSO source responds: “As described, this really is an unfortunate incident. The official AYSO policy as stated in AYSO Rules & Regulations reads as follows: “It is the duty of referees to protect the goalkeeper against dangerous play.” If the incident happened as described, i.e. the goalkeeper lying on the ball with her arm around the ball, I believe the referee made an error in judgment. We teach that one finger on a stationary ball is the equivalent of keeper possession. In this case, the keeper clearly had possession, and the ball no longer should have been played. That the game shortly ended was not an excuse for the referee to have not taken action. In AYSO we try to avoid giving cards to kids at the U10 level, but a foul against the attacker should have been called, and the referee should have given a stern warning to the attacker. If nothing else, he/she should have spoken with the attacking player’s coach and reported the incident to the regional commissioner.”


PLACEMENT OF THE BALL FOR CORNER KICKS
Your question:
While acting as an AR during an AYSO U19 Boys match, I signaled for a corner kick to be taken on my side of the field. The side awarded the kick was ahead by two goals with less than three minutes to play.

The player taking the kick placed the ball completely outside of the restraining arc. I directed him to place the ball on the line. He replied that he did not have to place the ball on the line because the circumference of the ball would intersect an imaginary vertical plane as in judging a ball in or out play. I repeated my direction for him to place the ball on the line. He responded that I was wrong and that the ball was in contact with the plane of the line.

I signaled to the CR and advised him of the players dissent and delay of the game. The CR gave the dissenting player a yellow card and after the player continued his dissent to the CR he was then shown a second yellow card for persistent dissent and was ejected for 2 cautions.

The coaches and parents are unhappy about this incident and I have promised to inquire with USSF to find the correct interpretation. I have quoted Law 17 and claim that the ball shall be placed so that it rests on the ground at any point inside the corner arc or on any part of the lines which enclose the corner arc. I also pointed out that this player was wasting time late in a game in which his team held a 2 goal lead and that it was up to the AR to decide when the ball was ready for restart, not the player.

Even if I am mistaken about placement, there is no question about the dissent and action taken thereafter.

USSF answer (October 21, 2004):
It has been clearly stated by the International F. A. Board, the makers of the Laws of the Game, that the ball must 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 www.fifa.com.


CHANGING RESULTS OF A GAME AFTER ITS CONCLUSION
Your question:
According to FIFA and the United States Soccer Federation, in what instances or situations could the final result of a game be changed after the game has concluded or could there even be instances or situations where the game would need to be replayed?

USSF answer (October 20, 2004):
There are no circumstances in which the result of a game could be changed after the game has concluded. Any replay would have to be ordered by the competition authority.


REPLACING BALLS
Your question:
When more than one ball is supplied for the game, is their any guidance on uniformity of pressure between balls? The following occurred the past weekend:

USSF answer (October 20, 2004):
The players may substitute only a ball that has been approved by the referee. In turn, the referee should ensure that all balls meet the standards imposed in Law 2–and are as uniform as possible. The referee should check the balls as often as seems necessary, but should not waste a lot of time doing so.


ENFORCE THE RULES OF THE COMPETITION
Your question:
A question on what is a valid reason for official delays in games where traffic problems prevent visitors from reaching a game site.

SITUATION: A team (U15/Div. 2) has a game about 40 mins. away this weekend, and visiting parents set out for the game site 90 mins. before game time.

Trouble is, there’s a horrible accident that snarls traffic (out of Washington, DC) for 4.5 hours, beginning almost at the time of departure. Many families make it to the site (using torturous back routes) though not all, yet those that can, arrive at about game time. Team fielded is not the full 11-man side.

ISSUE: Center ref insists that — in this league (Nat. Capital Soccer League) — while he CAN offer 15 min. delays, the rules also allow him to start with 7 on a side. In short, he’s ready to play 7 v. 11 if he has to, regardless of the obvious delays that day on Route 95, the major artery from Washington, DC to Richmond, VA.

Isn’t it “sporting” (and good judgment) for the center to allow both teams to be at full strength, when — given all evidence — both teams would be fully represented IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE TRAFFIC OBSTACLES?

As a center ref myself, I believe center refs should lean backwards to avoid giving an advantage to 1 team — whenever there are good reasons to do so. That did not happen.

Can a center ref ignore ALL evidence for delaying a start (this was the last game on that field)? If the answer remains “YES, always” then referee rules should be changed to reflect the reality of congested metro areas. (For now, I’m ignoring the fact that the resulting 7 v. 11 games jumble the results of games and standings.)

What’s the correct “call” here?

USSF answer (October 20, 2004):
The “correct call” here is to follow the rules of the competition (league/cup/tournament/whatever). In this case NCSL has allowed for a 15-minute grace period. The referee has no authority to delay games beyond what is called for in the rules of the competition.


BALL IN PLAY FROM INDIRECT FREE KICK
Your question:
It is my understanding that stepping on top of the ball during a indirect free kick and then having another player take the kick is not sufficient enough to be considered movement. What happens if a team does this and sends the ball over the goal line, but not in the goal? Do you allow them a re-kick or does the defending team get a goal kick? If they do this and the ball goes in the goal without touching anyone else would you also consider it a goal kick?

USSF answer (October 20, 2004):
The restart depends on who was taking the indirect free kick and from where.

If the kick was by the defending team within its own penalty area, the ball must come back for a retake if it did not leave the penalty area and enter the rest of the field.

If the kick was taken by the opposing team with the opponent’s penalty area and the ball enters the goal, the correct restart is a goal kick.

If the kick was taken by either team outside either penalty area, the correct restart is either a goal kick or a corner kick, depending on whose goal line it went over, whether or not it entered the goal. The usual rules for CKs and GKs apply here: If it goes directly into my goal (or over the goal line) from my kick, it’s a corner kick; if it goes into the other team’s goal (or over the goal line) directly from my kick, it’s a goal kick.


KEEPING TIME
Your question:
Are there any regulations or requirements to the specific timepiece or instrument to keep time by the referee? example: is a standard mechanical watch, hour, minute, and second hand, acceptable?

USSF answer (October 20, 2004):
The standard wristwatch is acceptable only if the referee remains alert to the time of the kick-off, the amount of time required for each half (and any periods of extra time) by the competition, and to the amount of time necessary to replace time lost. Of course, the same could be said for stopwatches.


SHOWING CARDS; NO REPLACEMENT FOR SENT-OFF PLAYER
Your question:
Q1 In last weekend’s match, my player (youth U14 boy) was shown a yellow card for dissent (walking away from the ref. after an offside call). When the player showed his emotion by turning his head and extending his hands at his waist, the ref. showed him a red card and sent him off. Should the ref. have shown a second yellow before red?

Q2 After my player was sent off, I was required to play one man down for the remainder of the half and the game. Which rule governs this action?

USSF answer (October 18, 2004):
Surely there is more to the story than this. Simply walking away from the referee after being called offside and then spreading one’s arms at waist level would not merit a caution or a second caution and send-off.

If the referee were to give a caution for the second offense, then the referee must show first the yellow card and then the red card. But referees must remember that there would be no need to show the second yellow card if the player’s second act of misconduct (whatever it was) was a red card offense on its own terms. Nothing else happened prior to this? There is either a lot left out or the referee was having a very bad day.

As to playing short, that is and always has been the Law–even though it is no longer written in the Laws of the Game. It was dropped in 1997 because the authors of the Laws, the International Football Association Board, determined that “everyone” knew that.


DELIBERATE HANDLING REQUIRES ACTUAL HANDLING, FOLKS!
Your question:
On a cross in front of the opponent’s goal, the attacker trapped the ball with his chest and volleyed the ball into the goal for an apparent goal. The referee disallowed the goal for handling. This was his explanation: the attacker definitely trapped the ball using his chest only (it never touched his arm at any time per the ref) but, when trapping the ball the player swung his arm around while turning his torso to keep the ball in front of him (otherwise it would have gone off his chest past the goal) and because he used his arm to control the ball, this is handling. Is this handling?????

USSF answer (October 18, 2004):
Yes, those referees are becoming more and more inventive. If, as the referee said, the ball never touched the player’s arm, then there was no deliberate handling–or handling of any sort at all. Using one’s arm to control one’s balance is perfectly legal.


THE BALL MUST BE STATIONARY ON GOAL KICKS
Your question:
Is a ball kicked while rolling from within the goal area OK? The law spells out that the ball MUST be stationary on free kicks, and implies it on corner by using the word “placed”. However it does use language like this for goal kicks.

USSF answer (October 18, 2004):
There are many things unsaid in the Laws of the Game, the most important of them being that a player who has been sent off may not be replaced–but we all know it is true. [See item above.] The same is true of the ball being stationary at a goal kick.

Nowhere does it state specifically that the ball must be stationary for goal kicks, but it is implied in Law 17 for corner kicks (and in Law 14 for penalty kicks). The specific statements in Laws 8 and 13 that the ball be stationary for the start and restart of play and free kicks also imply that the ball must be stationary for all kick restarts.

Law 8
Procedure
//snip//
* the ball is stationary on the center mark
//snip//
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward
//snip//

Law 13
Types of Free Kicks //snip//
For both direct and indirect free kicks, the ball must be stationary when the kick is taken and the kicker does not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player.

Law 14
//snip//
Position of the Ball and the Players
The ball:
* is placed on the penalty mark

Law 16
Procedure
* the ball is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team
//snip//
[the inference here being that if the ball was at “any point” it was stationary]

Law 17
Procedure
* the ball is placed inside the corner arc at the nearest corner flagpost [the inference here (and in Law 14) is that if the ball is “placed,” it is stationary]
//snip//
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves
//snip//

There is the additional logical argument that, if the ball must be kicked and moved to be in play, it must follow that it is not moving prior to being kicked–otherwise the requirement to be moved makes no sense. Therefore, we can state unequivocally that in all cases of a kick restart, the ball must be stationary before being kicked. It is not in play until it has been kicked and moves (forward in the case of kick-off and penalty kick).


THE AR MAY NOT SHOW A CARD NOR CAUTION NOR SEND OFF ANYONE
Your question:
A situation involving an AR and a Coach came about a while ago. The AR felt as if dissent were being shown to him by the coach, and decided that after the game was over in the parking lot, to show a red card. First off, is this red card valid? Secondly, the referee in the middle was still on the field preparing himself for the next match. Somehow, this red card was written into the game report and the coach was suspended for the following match. Is this a correct punishment according to the laws of FIFA? I know that at no time can an AR show cards, but can recommend them. But how is it the coach was still suspended though he was not officially given a card.

USSF answer (October 16, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game, no one other than players and substitutes by be shown any card. However, if the rules of the competition require it, team officials may also be cautioned or dismissed and shown the appropriate card. No assistant referee (AR) may discipline or show a card to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Nevertheless, while the AR cannot caution or send off or show any type of card to anyone, the AR may submit a separate report to the appropriate authorities. This may be what happened in this case. We cannot account for the acts of disciplinary committees or of rogue ARs.

And the final straw is that any official showed a card after the game was over. That is forbidden by the Laws of the Game. The referee (or AR) may only note the details and file a report.


MEMORANDUM ON CAUTIONS
Your question:
I’ve read the memorandum on second cautions several times and am more confused than before. The way I read the memorandum it says, in effect, “(1) Caution (show the yellow card) a player if he/she deserves it. (2) If the player would normally deserve a caution (yellow card) but it would be his/her second caution don’t give it unless the offense deserves a send off (red card) since the second caution results in the send off. It goes on to say that before giving a second caution the referee should use escalating warnings.

To me this gives a player with one caution almost carte blanche to commit cautionable offenses as long as they are not, in and of themselves, worthy of a send off. The idea of using increasingly severe admonitions and warnings after the first caution has been given is like repeatedly telling a child not to do something but never taking action. It will not prevent the undesirable behavior.

Can you help me interpret this memorandum’s advise more clearly – right now I think it will lead to less control and more on the field foul play.

USSF answer (October 14, 2004):
You are misreading both the intent and the spirit of the guidance.  It is saying that, because a second caution will result in the player being sent off, the second caution should be given when, in the opinion of the referee, it is truly a cautionable offense (in other words, you would have given a first caution for the misconduct) and the misconduct clearly continues a pattern of behavior of that player despite the prior notice of the first caution that a continuation would result in the player being sent from the field.

It is this second condition that you are misunderstanding.  In circumstances where the behavior of the player does not represent such a continuation, the referee should attempt to manage the player using other techniques short of a caution.


NO REPLACEMENT FOR PLAYER SENT OFF!
Your question:
I was sure that when a player on the field gets a 2nd yellow, the player has to leave and the team plays down a man. A more experienced referee told me that a substitute can enter the match to replace a player after a 2nd yellow card.

Does a team have to play a man down after a player receives a 2nd yellow card?

USSF answer (October 14, 2004):
Either the “more experienced referee” has been using illegal substances or he or she is thinking of high school rules. Under the Laws of the Game, a player who is sent off and shown the red card for any reason, including receiving a second caution, may not be replaced. Under high school rules, the second caution/yellow card is considered to be a “soft red card” and the player may be replaced.


DO NOT ALLOW RESTARTS IF A CAUTION OR SEND-OFF OFFENSE OCCURS!!!
Your question:
Team A 3, Team B 1, at minute 65 of a 70 minute match officiated by a relatively new CR.

At minute 65, Team B’s attacker with the ball gets behind Team A’s sweeper with a clear goal scoring opportunity, with only the GK to beat. The Team A sweeper catches up just enough to the Team B attacker to grab (foolishly!) the attacker’s shirt and simply restrains him just outside the PA. The CR inexplicably does not promptly issue a RC (and not even a YC) but awards a DFK to Team B. Play restarts with Team B taking its DFK and naturally enough Team B pathetically botches the opportunity, ball going out for a goal kick. Play restarts again and continues without incident, including a few throw-ins (i.e., other restarts), to 69:47. CR blows whistle. Team A 3, Team B 1.

Now, coaches and parents of Team B storm the field, with one Team B parent yelling expletives, grabbing the CR’s shirt sleeve, flipping off a Team A mom and later the balance of the Team A parents, and finally gets ejected by a much more experienced AR, who then assumes control as the CR appears bewitched and bewildered. Team A huddles at its bench. Coaches and parents of Team B continue to argue on opposite side of pitch with AR and CR. Team A’s manager overhears enough to warn Team A’s coach that the match just might be restarted. Team A’s coach has the offending Team A sweeper put on an orange sub vest and asks another Team A player to get ready to come in. The AR now marches over to Team A’s bench, about 10 minutes after the CR’s whistle and 15 minutes after Team A’s sweeper committed the obvious foul, where AR issues a red card for the obvious foul of minute 65 to Team A’s sweeper, sitting at the bench and wearing the orange sub vest. AR then announces he will resume play for an additional five minutes. Team A’s coach now proceeds to argue vehemently but is restrained by Team A’s manager (who has no other licensed coach to continue the match) in the nick of time. The game is in fact restarted again for five minutes, team A playing with 10 men, with no incident, no score, in that time frame. Second (“last”) whistle, this time by the AR. Score is same, Team A 3, Team B 1.

Question: Should the red card to Team A’s sweeper stand? If so what on earth does it mean in Law 5 that “The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee, provided that he has not restarted play”? PROVIDED THAT HE HAS NOT RESTARTED PLAY?

CR in his match report apparently has stated that his first whistle (at 69:47) was merely a suspension of play and that AR’s last whistle marked the end of the match. Does that really matter, whether is was meant to be a match-ending whistle or a suspension of play?

Assume for the moment that the replacement of the CR by the AR was justified by CR’s emotional inability to continue or because of consideration for the safety of the players and fans. Let’s put that issue aside. It really was a smart move. The Team B fans were in the process of losing it.

USSF answer (October 14, 2004):
Ah, those inventive referees! (We usually praise the coaches for being inventive, but in this case it is the referees‹or actually the assistant referee.)

Once the game has been restarted, as described in your question, the referee may no longer caution or send off any player for an act committed before that restart. Indeed, the International F. A. Board, the folks who make the Laws of the Game, have sent a very strong message this year that referees are to ensure that no game is restarted without such punishment taking place.

If full time has not been played, and this would appear to be the case from your question, then someone else may assume control of the game‹with the permission of the referee, who then either retires from the field or takes over the position of the official who replaced him or her. (It is not clear from your question as to whether the assistant referee had the referee’s permission to take over control of the match, but, while this could be a significant event on its own, it has no bearing on the question at hand.) If the AR did indeed take over control of the game, he or she has no authority or power to send off a player for an act that occurred before the last restart.

It would be interesting to read the referee’s match report to see how this was justified. And also to see if the facts were reported in full.


FLYING SHOES
Your question:
My son was the referee in a game where a player struck the ball and her shoe came off, flying to the side of the play. The second time it came off it flew into the goal. My son did not indicate a foul but warned the coach at halftime to secure her shoes. I suggested that if the shoe comes off and goes away from the play, a warning would be sufficient at the next stoppage of play. If the shoe comes off and is part of the play or endangers another player, he should have stopped play, cautioned the player (and coach since it was a youth game of 6 and 7 yr olds) and awarded the opposing team an indirect free kick due to a dangerous play. If the ball had scored, it should not count.

USSF answer (October 14, 2004):
The correct answer is none of the above.

As defined in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” (ATR) and clear from the perspective of the Spirit of the Game, a foul is an unfair or unsafe action committed by a player against an opponent or the opposing team, on the field of play, while the ball is in play. (ATR 12.1) What you describe was certainly not a foul, nor could it be characterized as misconduct, the only possibility for cautioning a player.

The problem of losing a shoe is recognized in the IFAB’s Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (Q&A), published for the IFAB by FIFA. Under Law 4, Q&A 10, it states:
10. A player accidentally loses his footwear and immediately scores a goal. Is this permitted?
Yes. The player did not intentionally play barefoot, because he lost his footwear by accident.

Normally the act of losing a shoe on the field of play is neither an unsafe nor an unfair action by the player who does this. The player need not leave the field to replace the shoe and should certainly not be punished by the referee unless he or she does not replace the shoe as quickly as possible. Even if the kicker’s shoe had been removed by an opponent tackling for the ball, there would be no punishment for either player.


NO SOCIALIZING, PLEASE
Your question:
Fairly early in the second half of a boys high school match with the score 1-1 between the #1 ranked team in our state against a struggling smaller school with at losing record, the ref called a foul against the smaller school near mid field.

At that time, the coach of the top ranked team called the ref over and the two proceeded to have an extended conversation for between two and three minutes, off the field, near the center line. The boys even started play again and the ref called it back during this down time.  The opposing coach eventually positioned himself nearby, but never entered into the two man huddle.

Throughout the match, the #1 team dominated play in and around the penalty box. With 32 seconds left on the scoreboard clock, the ref called a foul on the small team while in the penalty box, a pk was taken and now the score was 2-1 for the #1 team.

The last offensive thrust by the small team was negated by a hand ball call with about 17 seconds to go. No stoppage time was given so the game was soon over.

After reviewing the rules of soccer, I have been unable to find a section that describes the ref’s relationship with a coach during a match. I have never seen a meeting of this length during a match.

I described the game environment to further enhance the uneasy situation this meeting presented to the fans and players.

With all the action in the penalty box throughout the game, calling a foul with 32 seconds to go just didn’t “smell” right, and while I did see the hand ball, I saw many others that also fit the bill earlier on that did not get the call.

So my questions are:
1) Can a ref have an extended conference off the field with one coach during a match?
2) In the interest of a fair played game and using ‘common sense’ is it in the games best interest to call a PK with seconds remaining in a close game?
3) Is stoppage time used in high school soccer? (If so, that private meeting really added fuel to the fire)

As a disclaimer, I don’t have any sons playing for either team, I just wanted to see the #1 high school team play.

USSF answer (October 13, 2004):
1) We cannot speak to high school rules, but tradition and common practice dictate that referees should not spend time socializing or otherwise lingering to chat with coaches or any other people not directly associated with the game. And coaches are not directly associated with the game; their work should be done in the days and weeks preceding the game, not during it. The referee who socializes (or appears to socialize) gives the impression, rightly or wrongly, that there will be some bias. The business of the referee is to get on with the game and call it properly.

2) We respond to your question about the penalty kick with another: “Is it in the best interest” not to call a foul that occurred at any moment of the game? Of course the answer is no. If they are not trifling or doubtful, all fouls must be called, no matter when they take place.

3) There is “stoppage time” but only if signaled by the referee. The high school rules call for the official time to be kept by a timekeeper (if there is a stadium clock, in working order, visible to the field). If the clock is not operated properly, the referee can (at a stoppage) order the clock to be corrected. However, the stadium clock is otherwise official. It stops for various things but socializing with a coach is not one of them. Unless the stoppage had been caused by a card being given, an injury, or the taking of a penalty kick, the clock should not have stopped.


THE GOALKEEPER DOES NOT NEED TO BE STANDING OR EVEN IN THE PENALTY AREA
Your question:
With this question, why did not you talk about the position of the goalkeeper? inside the goal box, inside the penalty box but outside the goal box, outside the Penalty box?

USSF answer (October 13, 2004):
The answer in question (dated September 28, 2004) said:
Law 3 requires that each team must have a goalkeeper, but there is no requirement that the goalkeeper always be on the field of play or in an upright position. While we generally give goalkeepers the benefit of the doubt in case of injury–to wit, they do not have to leave the field when being treated for injury–neither are referees required to stop the game for anything other than serious injury. However, some consideration must be given for the age and skill level of the players. The intelligent referee will apply common sense to each individual situation.

The direct answer to your question is that it makes no difference where the goalkeeper is.

That is a fact of life that cannot be changed. If you saw the English Premier League game last week between Man. City and Bolton (I wish to heck I had recorded it), you would have seen that the referee, Uriah Rennie, allowed the goalkeeper to remain down on the field for about a minute before doing anything about it. The goalkeeper was out almost 18 yards from his goal, flat on the ground, having fallen down through no fault of an opponent. Why would the referee not stop the game? Because the goalkeeper was not seriously injured and there was no reason, under either the Letter of the Law or the Spirit of the Game, for him to do so.

Where did he get his authority to do that? From principles established in the Laws and in one of the major documents published by the International F. A. Board, the people who make and change the Laws of the Game. The major document is the “Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game.” (See Law 3, Q&As 19 and 20.) The goalkeeper is allowed to leave the penalty area and the field without the referee’s permission during the course of play to play the ball, just as is any other player. The goalkeeper may retrieve the ball that has gone into touch or take a throw-in, corner kick, penalty kick, free kick, etc. If the goalkeeper leaves the field to play the ball and cannot return in time to stop a goal, the goal is scored. In short, the goalkeeper does not have to be on the field of play.

Neither does the goalkeeper have to be in an upright position or even able to play the ball. Under Law 5, the referee is required to stop play for injuries only if, in the opinion of the referee, the injury is serious. In the Additional Instructions to the Referee, found at the back of your copy of the Laws of the Game, you will find a repetition of this instruction: play is allowed to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in the referee’s opinion, only slightly injured, and play is stopped if, in the referee’s opinion, a player is seriously injured. The goalkeeper is a player.


CHANGING THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
While watching a Rec U-14 B game the following occurred and got me to wondering…
Attacking team was awarded a PK and the defending coach immediately yelled for a keeper change (with a field player). CR allowed the position swap prior to the PK being taken. You can imagine the comments from the attacking coach and most of the spectators. PK was blocked. About three minutes later the ball went out at the touch line and the request was again made to swap the players back to their original positions. Believe it or not, the same thing happened during the second half and folks were beginning to get very upset (vocally).

I understand that CR may allow field player/keeper change at a stoppage (Law 3) and that coaches wish to make best use of players and tactics. The whistle has blown and the ball is out of play (Law 9). I guess my specific question is whether stopping the play for the administration of the PK falls under the definition of “stoppage”. Taking this though a little further, would it follow that other “whistled” restarts (IFK, DFK, and drop balls) are also “stoppages” which would allow the changing of a keeper with a field player.

I’m just happy that I was not the CR for this game…I’m not sure the swap would have been allowed; but I would like to know before the situation occurs. Thanks for you answer…I can see this both ways but just can’t convince myself that this is correct.

USSF answer (October 13, 2004):
Law 3 provides for this exchange between the goalkeeper and any field player: QUOTE
Changing the Goalkeeper
Any of the other players may change places with the goalkeeper, provided that:
– the referee is informed before the change is made
– the change is made during a stoppage in the match
END OF QUOTE

This does not count as a substitution, so any local rules of competition regarding limited substitution do not apply. A stoppage of play is any time the ball is out of play, whether over a perimeter line or when the referee has blown the whistle. This is valid at any stoppage, whether for a throw-in, corner kick, goal kick, kick-off, misconduct, or foul.

Simply because the spectators and the opposing coach are unaware of the Law does not invalidate it. Coaches and spectators often do not know anything about the rules under which the game is played. The tactic discussed here is legal at any level of play.


USING THE ADVANTAGE CLAUSE
Your question:
A recently posted Q&A (USING THE ADVANTAGE CLAUSE Posted September 29, 2004 ) leads me to a question. A goalkeeper being the last defender, just outside the penalty area challenges an attacker with the ball moving towards the keeper¹s goal, and in so doing fouls the attacker. A nearby attacker¹s teammate runs onto the open ball and the referee signals and shouts ³Advantage, play on!² The teammate (unaffected by the goalkeeper¹s foul against the attacker other than to gain possession of the ball) then miffs the wide open goal by shooting the ball wide of the goal out of play. Does allowing advantage in this particular situation negate the sending off offence to the goalkeeper for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity?

USSF answer (October 12, 2004):
Referees have the power to apply (and signal) the advantage upon seeing a foul or misconduct committed if at that moment the terms of the advantage clause were met. Applying advantage permits the referee to allow play to continue when the team against which the foul has been committed will actually benefit from the referee not stopping play.

The referee may return to and penalize the original foul if the advantage situation does not develop as anticipated after a short while (2-3 seconds). In this case, the referee will have to judge whether the advantage was sustained long enough to meet the standard set by the International F. A. Board (2-3 seconds) with the ball then in the possession of the attacker’s teammate. If so, the decision may not be recalled. It makes no difference whether or not the teammate with the ball subsequently scored or not.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
Admittedly this situation may never occur, but after reading the December 16, 2003 USSF Memorandum titled “Kicks from the Penalty Mark”, I wondered about this obscure situation.

Assume that player A received a caution in regulation time. Assume also that the match is to the point where penalty kicks are in process to determine the winner of the match (often called a “shoot out”).

The time comes for player A to shoot for his team. As he approaches the ball, he commits a violation (such as waving his arm to distract the keeper). The ball enters the net. The infringement means that a re-kick is required (i.e., no goal), so the center referee waves off the goal. The center referee then displays the yellow card for the Unsporting Behavior, and a red card for the second caution.

What happens next? My assumption is that you would send off the player and player A’s team forfeits that penalty kick. Am I correct?

USSF answer (October 12, 2004):
Never assume too much. In this case there is some question as to whether or not the player would be cautioned for his transgression during kicks from the penalty mark (KFTPM). The rules for KFTPM are much the same as for penalty kicks: if it is a first offense, then the player is warned, rather than cautioned, so that must be considered.

If it works out that the kicker is cautioned and sent off for the second caution during the game, the kicker’s team would be able to put up another kicker. It would have to be one who has not yet taken a kick in this round of KFTPM.


PROPER GAME COVERAGE
Your question:
I am writing for clarification on the use of a 2-man officiating system for use within a local recreational soccer club. I am the head referee for Louisa Area Soccer Association and have reviewed my association’s bylaws and cannot find the answer to my question. Specifically I would like to know if a 2-man system, with each referee being a grade level 8, is allowed to be used for games within recreational play. The age divisions in which I would need to use a 2-man system range from U13 to U17. Although I have several referees in the program, most referees play for a local challenge program and I lack referees to cover games in the afternoon using the standard 3-man system. Please advise on your knowledge of this matter, and also advise on any other resources I could check for further clarification. Thanks so much for your time and assistance!

USSF answer (October 12, 2004):
We share your concern over the lack of sufficient referees, but must point out that games affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation may be officiated only under the diagonal system of control (DSC), with a referee and two assistant referees (AR). If you have only enough referees to supply two for each game, there are alternatives that will fill the bill. You may use either of these alternatives and still meet those requirements:
1. One referee, one assistant referee, and one club linesman (not a registered referee). Only the referee may use a whistle. The AR uses a flag and functions just as if in a full role. The club linesman is permitted to indicate only that the ball is out of play, not showing direction or type of restart. The club linesman is selected from the supporters of one of the two competing teams (usually the “home” team).
2. One referee and two club linesmen, the club linesmen being selected from the supporters of each of the two competing teams.

Barring the use of club linesmen, and only in emergencies, the game could be run with one referee and one AR. The referee would remain mostly on one side of the field of play and would use the whistle. The AR would run outside the field of play, as usual, but would not be able to use a whistle.


LIABILITY INSURANCE COVERAGE
Your question:
The question at hand is what is the policy on insurance coverage in a game utilizing a certified Center referee and two club linesmen. Our understanding is that USSF insurance covers only the Center. In the event of a lawsuit for serious injury caused by the lack of ability of a club linesman to control the situation if the Center’s back is turned, is the Center covered by insurance?

USSF answer (October 7, 2004):
If the referee is registered and the games are affiliated with US Soccer, the referee is insured.


SHOWING CARDS TO COACHES OR OTHER TEAM OFFICIALS 2
Your question:
An interesting subject was discussed on a coach’s list to which I subscribe. Someone related a story where an assistant coach got out of hand and was yellow carded by the referee. The fact that the coach was carded was not the point of their relating the story, but I replied that the LOTG allowed cards to be issued only to players, substitutes, and substituted players, and that the proper ultimate sanction for a misbehaing non-player was to be ordered away from the field of play and it surrounding area.

My questions are:
1. May a USSF-affiliated organization have rules that require coaches to be carded? I would think no, because USSF by-laws require that the LOTG be followed. I know modifications were allowed for youth soccer, in addition to those specifically allowed in the LOTG, but I did not think that was one of them.
2. If USSF organizations may modify the LOTG to require coaches to be carded, what is the authority that allows that?

USSF answer (October 6, 2004):
You are absolutely correct, in that the Laws of the Game do not permit giving cautions to or “sending-off” (we use the word “dismissal”) to coaches, nor do they permit showing the card to any team official. We do not know the origin of the concept, but it has long been held that the rules of competition for a particular league or state association may require showing a card to a coach.

Showing the card is a means of communication. Leagues and other competitions find it easier for parents and spectators to understand what is going on if they see a card being shown, rather than just seeing a coach walk away from the bench area. In addition, under some rules of competition the coach is responsible for the sidelines. If the sidelines are acting up and the coach is issued yellow card indicating a caution, it stands to reason that behavior control is much more easily achieved if there is a visible sign. The National Program for Referee Development will support the referee when a coach is cautioned or dismissed, even if no card is shown‹provided it is done in accordance with the rules of the competition.


SHOWING CARDS TO COACHES OR OTHER TEAM OFFICIALS 1
Your question:
My son is refereeing our local recreational youth league. This past weekend he was officiating a U8 game where the coach approached him, before and after the game, about calls during the games. He was trying to be intimidating and got very biligerant with him when my son seemed to not want his advise. As a referee myself, I know how I would handle this, but being 15, I don’t think he is as direct with adults as I am. What course of action would you recommend for our young refs to take in this rare case? He has been refereeing since he was 12 and this is the first time this has happened. Usually the league has an adult rep present to oversee the games, but this time there were just the two refs for the two games on the fields. He usually takes a cell phone, but forgot it this time; note the lesson learned!

A second question concerning parent conduct. We were at a tournement where the parents were getting pretty wound up over the refs calls. The center ref red cards a parent, ejects him from the field and the team loses a point because of the card. I later ask the head of officiating about this and he said in the tournement coaches can be carded and ejected, but still didn’t answer my question on the spectators. I can see the ejection, but the card and point for this team seemed baffling.

USSF answer (October 5, 2004):
1. Coaches at the U8 level are often as uninformed about the Laws of the Game and how the game should be called as their players. While the coach’s behavior was totally irresponsible and your son would have been correct in dismissing the coach early on in the game, the proper thing to do in this case would have been for your son to thank the coach for his input and say that maybe they would both do better next time out. In all events, your son should have reported the coach’s behavior to the competition authorities.

A more important question from our point of view is why there were only two referees for the games. All games played under the auspices of the U. S. Soccer Federation must be officiated by a three-referee crew or, alternatively, by a single referee using club linesmen.

2. We cannot comment on the dismissal of a spectator and the assessment of points against a team. These are matters covered by the rules of the competition and not subject to review by referees.

However, the referee has authority to suspend and, if necessary, to terminate a match if the behavior of anyone outside the field (coaches, spectators, etc.) seriously interferes with the conduct of the match.  The referee could suspend play and set as a condition for resuming the match the departure of a spectator who was behaving irresponsibly.  This option would be particularly relevant in a match in which spectators were physically proximate to the field as opposed to being in bleachers or arena-type seating.

In any event, no cards are displayed to anyone other than players and substitutes unless this is mandated by the rules of the competition.


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO GOALKEEPER
Your question:
A teammate deliberately kicks the ball, with his foot to his own keeper. On the way to the keeper, the ball deflects off an opponent. May the keeper now legally handle the ball?

USSF answer (October 5, 2004):
In this case, the goalkeeper may handle the ball legally. Under the Law it is the actual handling that constitutes the offense, not the pass. In this case, the opponent’s deflection has negated the original deliberate kick to the goalkeeper.


DISTANCE OF THE WALL
Your question:
I was involved in a game this weekend where a direct kick was awarded outside the 18. We created a wall a distance we honestly felt was 10 yards from the ball but the referee insisted on moving us back further.  His position was on the opposite side of the 18 nowhere near the ball or wall and initially did not physically walk out the 10 yards. We honored his request to move but asked him to walk out the yardage because it appeared to be at least 15 yards from the ball. He refused to walk out the yardage and gave a yellow card for questioning him. Can the team that committed the foul request the yardage to be measured if they feel too much was awarded?

USSF answer (October 5, 2004):
The defending team has no more right to ask for the distance to be measured to make sure it is not too much than the kicking team has to ask that it be measured to ensure it is not too little. While the defending (offending) team has very few rights at a free kick, one of those rights is that they can be assessed no more than the ten-yard distance. The referee has no right or power to force the team that committed the foul to move more than ten yards away from the place where the ball will be in play when kicked. However, only the referee can judge exactly what distance that “ten yards” covers.


EXTRA PLAYER ON THE FIELD
Your question:
In the first half, a player on Team A is sent off. Team A starts the second half with 11 players; no referee counts. During dynamic play, a penal foul occurs in the penalty area, committed against Team A. After the Penalty Kick is taken successfully (but before the kickoff is taken), Team B points out to the Center Referee that the scoring team has too many players on the field.

1. What is the course of action at that moment? And what is the proper restart?
2. What would be correct if the PK had failed and had gone over the end line, untouched…and then the referee counted players?
3. What would be correct if the PK had failed and had gone over the end line, last touched by the goal keeper, and then the referee counted players?
4. What would be correct if the Center Referee realizes Team A has 11 players on the field of play during dynamic play and before any foul has been called?
5. What would be correct if the Center Referee realizes Team A has 11 players on the field of play immediately after (but before the ensuing kickoff) Team A scores a goal?

Thank you for your assistance. This is based on an incident described to me earlier this week.

USSF answer (October 4, 2004):
What complicates the original scenario is that we don’t know when the extra person appeared on the field. The only way the goal can be canceled and play restarted with a dropped ball is if there were compelling evidence that the extra person was on the field prior to the goal being scored on the penalty kick. And if the goal stands, then (after cautioning the extra player) play would be restarted with a kick-off rather than with a dropped ball.

If there is definite proof that the eleventh player was on the field prior to the foul leading to the penalty kick, the answers to questions 1-3 and 5 are identical: The goal is not awarded. The eleventh player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without the referee’s permission and is instructed to leave the field of play. Play is restarted by a dropped ball on the goal area line at the point nearest to where the ball passed over the goal line to enter the goal.

The answer to question 4 is that the referee stops play. The eleventh player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without the referee’s permission and is instructed to leave the field of play. Play is restarted by a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.


NUMBER OF REFEREES FOR YOUTH GAMES
Your question:
For USSF youth soccer games ,is a set number of referees mandatory for any age groups?

USSF answer (October 4, 2004):
One referee and two assistant referees (or club linesmen) are required for all youth games. The dual system of control (two referees) is not allowed.


COMPETITION RESCINDS SEND-OFF
Your question:
Does a tournament committee have the right to rescind a red card give for point 4 of send offs?

USSF answer (October 4, 2004):
The answer is no. Law 5 tells us: “The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play are final.” The decision to send off a player for denying the opposing team a goal or a goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball is a decision on a point of Law. It is neither protestable nor reversible. The only points on which referee decisions may be reversed are those where the referee has acted contrary to the Law, the prime example being to restart incorrectly after a stoppage.

Furthermore, as FIFA has said, the requirement for a one-game suspension is mandatory and cannot be rescinded; it can only be lengthened.


WE COUNT TIME UP (0-45, 46-90), NOT DOWN
Your question:
A question has arisen about what FIFA says about clocks that count down as opposed to counting up. Two of my remaining grey cells recall something about that from FIFA, but the other two can’t find it. Checked USSF, FIFA web sites, my archive of meaningless trivia, all to no avail.

I think they said they prefer clocks that count up, but it is not a requirement, and I think it only applies to FIFA competitions, but I can’t cite chapter and verse, and would like to for this particular (officious) person.

Do you have a reference?

USSF answer (September 30, 2004):
FIFA requires a count-up clock in games played under its rules of competition. In other words, the clock runs for “the length of time played” from 0:00 to 45:00 (plus added time) in the first half, from 45:00 (the added time is only for statistical purposes and does not count as part of the full 45 minutes) to 90:00 (plus added time) in the second half. In addition, time runs the same way for any periods of extra time required by the rules of the competition. This has been made clear in several memoranda and circulars dealing with the proper way to keep time. The most recent documents of this sort are available on the FIFA website. They are the regulations for the soccer competition at the 2004 Olympics and for the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany.

The wording in both documents is identical: “Clocks in the stadium showing the length of time played may run during the match, provided that they are stopped at the end of normal playing time in each half, i. e., after 45 and 90 minutes, respectively. This stipulation also applies in the event of extra time being played, i. e., after 15 and 30 minutes respectively.”

In an earlier circular, FIFA also specified how various events are to be recorded (i. e., deciding the time to be set down in the match report for a particular event), particularly when something occurs in “added” or “injury” time. For example, the referee might write, “I cautioned Player X for unsporting behavior in the 47th minute of the first half.”


REFEREE SOCKS
Your question:
Recently I’ve seen some referees wearing socks with 3 stripes, while other are wearing total black socks….sometimes with a nike or adidas logos. Are the referees becoming lax or is this due to some uniform change?

USSF answer (September 29, 2004):
The only approved socks have the three white stripes or the US Soccer crest logo on the top.


IS THIS TOUCH LEGAL?
Your question:
I have been a USSF referee for approximately 10 year now. I referee competition games for kids ranging in age from U10 to U19 and also do an occasional adult league game. I did a tournament semi-final U11 boys match a few weeks ago and had the following occur:
The ball was crossed from the wing just inside the 18. A defender jumped raising both arms high and crossed above his head. He miss-judged the ball. An attacker standing on the 18, played the ball with his head, directly into the raised arms of the jumping defender.

Having seen many of these young players jumping with arms raised above their head, and not judging it to be intentional. Also considering that he had already jumped with arms raised above his head, and determining that the ball was played into his arms, not that the player had intentional raised his arms to play the ball, I did not call a hand ball.

I also recall recently hearing that most calls of handling the ball are not in fact called correctly because the ball hit the hand, not the hand hitting the ball.

Again, I did not call the hand ball, which of course created no small stir amoung players, coaches and fans alike, (mostly from the attacking team). At half, the coach argued rather hotly regarding the no call. I explained my reasons, etc. and eventually had to warn the coach.

I have asked several other referees, coaches and players and all have basically agreed with my call. Just thought I’d ask you.

USSF answer (September 29, 2004):
If you are certain in your heart of hearts–or, better for referees, “head of heads”‹that this player always raised his hands for such plays, you may have made the correct call, but it seems unlikely. Experience shows that this sort of jumping with the arms raised is not a natural thing to do. The referee should look for unnatural things when judging whether or not the play with the hands is deliberate or not. There is no reason for nor benefit from jumping with the hands above the head other than to play the ball if all else fails. The only question would be whether the referee might judge the offense to be trifling (under very limited circumstances) or worth an advantage call.

2004 Part 3

SLIDE TACKLING
Your question:
Is there an official US Soccer position regarding slide tackling in youth play? It seems many players are not trained to do it, increasing the potential for an injury.

How does position affect whether a foul occurred ­ is it a foul if from behind where the player cannot see it coming? If the sliding player hits the player with the ball regardless of position (from front or behind) ­ is it a foul? Does hitting ball matter as to whether a foul occurred? Does hitting the ball first and then the player lessen any foul? If the cleats are pointing forward towards the player with the ball as the tackle is made – is that automatically a foul?

I look forward to your reply. USSF answer (September 29, 2004): What follows is what we teach our referees. Unfortunately, that does not always mean that they put it into practice correctly. Cleats exposed and pointing at someone should be considered dangerous play where younger, less skilled players are involved. At higher competitive levels, the referee should determine if the player is exposing the cleats to intimidate or cause injury to an opponent.

A slide tackle is legal, provided it is performed legally. There is nothing illegal about a slide tackle by itself‹no matter where it is done and no matter the direction from which it comes. In other words, it is not an infringement to tackle fairly from behind‹if there was no foul committed.

There is nothing illegal, by itself, about sliding tackles or playing the ball while on the ground. These acts become the indirect free kick foul known as playing dangerously (“dangerous play”) only if the action unfairly takes away an opponent’s otherwise legal play of the ball (for players at the youth level, this definition is simplified even more as “playing in a manner considered to be dangerous to an opponent”). At minimum, this means that an opponent must be within the area of danger which the player has created. These same acts can become the direct free kick fouls known as kicking or attempting to kick an opponent or tripping or attempting to trip or tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball only if there was contact with the opponent or, in the opinion of the referee, the opponent was forced to react to avoid the kick or the trip. The referee may warn players about questionable acts of play on the ground, but would rarely caution a player unless the act was reckless.

How can tackles become illegal? There are many ways but two of the most common are by making contact with the opponent first (before contacting the ball) and by striking the opponent with a raised upper leg before, during, or after contacting the ball with the lower leg. Referees must be vigilant and firm in assessing any tackle, because the likely point of contact is the lower legs of the opponent and this is a particularly vulnerable area. We must not be swayed by protests of “But I got the ball, ref” and we must be prepared to assess the proper penalty for misconduct where that is warranted.

FIFA has emphasized the great danger in slide tackles from behind because, if this tackle is not done perfectly, the potential for injury is so much greater. Accordingly, referees are advised that, when a player does commit a foul while tackling from behind, it should not be just a simple foul (e.g., tripping) but a foul and misconduct. The likelihood of danger is greater when the tackle is committed from behind and the probability of a foul having been committed is greater solely for this reason — due in large part to the “can’t prepare for the tackle” element when it comes from an unseen direction. In fact, if the referee decides that the foul while tackling from behind was done in such a way as to endanger the safety of the opponent, the proper action is to send the violator off the field with a red card.

The referee must judge each situation of a tackle from behind individually, weighing the guidelines published by FIFA and the U. S. Soccer Federation, the positions of the players, the way the tackler uses his/her foot or feet, the “temperature” of the game, the age/skill of the players, and the attitude of the players. What might be a caution (yellow card) in this game might be trifling in another game or a send-off (red card) in a third game. To make the proper judgment on such plays, the referee must establish early on a feel for the game being played on this day at this moment and must be alert to sudden changes in the “temperature” of this game. Much depends on the level of play, whether recreational or competitive, skilled or less developed, very young or adult. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.


IS THIS TOUCH LEGAL?
Your question:
Player A makes a throw in. Player B passes the ball back to player A. Player A is still outside the touchline and he plays the ball to keep it from crossing the line. Did player A illegally touch the ball the second time? If so, would it have been legal for Player A to touch the ball if he was standing on the touch line instead of outside the touch line?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
This play is legal because, having thrown the ball in, A has not touched it again directly (B’s touch intervened) and it is also legal because A’s play of the ball was on the field even if most of the rest of him was not. Player A is then expected to return fully to the field as quickly as possible.


NO “COUNTDOWN” ALLOWED!
Your question:
My son plays in a youth league. The ref in the game, as a courtesy, counts down the final ten seconds of the game. A player on my son’s team, on a breakaway, launches a powerful kick from 40 yards out while the ref’s countdown is between 1 and 2. The ball goes in, over the out stretched hands of the goalie. However, the goal was disallowed because the ref said the ball crossed the goal line after the clock ended. If this is true, what would have happened if there was a penalty on the play? I guess that I am used to basketball (where as long as the shot left the player’s hands before the buzzer) or if the quarterback throws a pass that is caught in the end zone after time is expired, it stills counts as being good. I realize that if a defender stopped it and we kicked in the rebound, it should not count. But if the ball is in the air (untouched) why are we being penalized for 1 or two seconds on the clock? In addition, this was the head referee who either had to be watching his watch to count down correctly, therefore not seeing the play, or not watching his watch and just counting down. What is the correct ruling? I have been a coach for 10 years now, and I have never seen this play. It occurs to me that in most major games with injury time (not the case in this youth league); the referees tend to end the game when there is still some threat to score. Once that threat ends, THEN they end the game. I’ve never seen a major soccer game that ends as one player has a clear breakaway with no one between him and the goalie, because time ran out.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Courtesy has nothing to do with it; the referee should not be counting aloud the time remaining in a match. There is too much chance that something will occur, even in the “final” second, that could extend the game. (Now, if the game were being played under high school rules, with an official timekeeper and a field clock visible to all, the answer would be different.)

Under the Laws of the Game, the game ends when the referee deems it to have ended, whether the ball is in the air or on the ground. However, the wise referee will recognize that ending the game when a shot is being taken is a sure way to create trouble for oneself. We have only to think of the FIFA Referee who, during a 1978 World Cup match, blew the whistle just before the ball entered the goal totally uncontested from a corner kick by Brazil. The referee, widely experienced and not near the mandatory retirement age, never received another assignment from FIFA.


GOALKEEPER DOWN
Your question:
Situation: A competitive Youth match — A forward is approaching the goal and defender is at their side. The keeper approaches to make a play. The keeper makes a good play on the ball but the keeper and forward collide. The ball rebounds and stays in play. While the ball rebounds and during the keeper/forward collision, the keeper is shaken up (not faking it) and lies still on the ground. The keeper is not obviously hurt — no blood showing, no obvious broken bones, so no immediate need to stop the match for a serious injury. The ball rebounds off several players and within a few seconds (say < 5 seconds) another attacker kicks the ball into the goal.

What is the letter and then also the spirit of the law in this situation? Should the referee allow play to continue, as they would most likely do if a field player was shaken up? Or is the letter and spirit of the law such that it says a team must have a keeper and since the keeper is shaken up, lying on the ground and not trying to get up to make another save or trying to keep the rebounding ball from entering the goal, the team really does not have a keeper. In the later, the should the referee really stop the match — due to the fact the team, in essence, does not have a keeper?

Appreciate your perspective. The question is, when a keeper is shaken up and not playing as a keeper because they are lying on the ground, what is the advice for referees — to stop play or to keep play going (as we would do with a field player shaken up) until the play is neutralized and then stop the match.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Law 3 requires that each team must have a goalkeeper, but there is no requirement that the goalkeeper always be on the field of play or in an upright position. While we generally give goalkeepers the benefit of the doubt in case of injury–to wit, they do not have to leave the field when being treated for injury–neither are referees required to stop the game for anything other than serious injury. However, some consideration must be given for the age and skill level of the players. The intelligent referee will apply common sense to each individual situation.


PLAYER ON THE GROUND
Your question:
A player accedentially falls to the ground with the ball next to them. An opponent attempts to play the ball, while the player on the ground is attempting (unsuccessfully) to get up (still on ground). The player on the ground is kicked by the opponent. Is the call dangerous play on the player on the ground, or is it a penal foul for the opponent that kicked him?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
If the player on the ground is truly attempting to get up and out of the way of other players, and is not deliberately interfering with the opponent who is trying to kick the ball, then the referee should call kicking on the opponent; the restart is a direct free kick for the team of the player on the ground. However, if, in the opinion of the referee, the player on the ground is deliberately interfering with the opponent’s ability to play the ball, that player should be cautioned for unsporting behavior and the restart will be an indirect free kick for the opponent’s team.

And please note that it is perfectly legal to play the ball while on the ground, as long as no player is put in danger.


PLAYERS OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY
Your question:
Two relatively similar situations. In the first, two players from the team taking the kick are both completely off the field. One of the players taps the ball, the other player starts dribbling toward the goal. Is this a legal play. Should the second player be cautioned for illegally entering the field of play, since his leaving the field is not in the normal course? The second situation is similar, except that one of the players is on the field and taps the ball. The other one who was off the field dribbles toward the goal. I’m guessing that the answer is the same.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
While there are a number of occasions during which a player may be off the field of play without the permission of the referee, there is no need in the cases you describe for more than one player to be off the field to put the ball back into play. Neither is there any need for either of the players to be cautioned, provided the referee exercises common sense and suggests that the player return to the field NOW if he or she wishes to avoid the consequences.

Yes, it is perfectly legitimate for one player to simply tap the ball and for the other to begin dribbling toward the goal. In the second instance, there was no need for the second player to have been off the field. The referee should have acted to prevent this.


SUB REMOVED BY REFEREE MAY BE USED LATER
Your question:
An answer posted in July (see “PLAYER ALLOWED TO STAY ON AFTER SECOND CAUTION; WHAT TO DO?,” dated 28 July 2004) asks whether the substitute removed from the game after it was discovered that the player for whom he had been substituted should have been sent off because of a second caution may enter the game at a later substitution opportunity.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Yes, the substitute who was removed may be used as a substitute later in the game.


LEAVING THE GAME WITHOUT PERMISSION
Your question:
Quick Question … U13 Rec, 11v11, full field, 35 minute halves … gold vs green … about 20 minutes into the first half … play was stopped for a throw-in for gold … as I [cr] was moving into position for the throw-in I noticed a gold player at the line and ar1 signaling for a substitution … so far so good .. then, ar1 pointed across the field toward ar2 … he was standing at attention with his flag straight up … I asked the sub to stand @ the line and the thrower to hold the ball … ar2 informed me that a gold player had left the field .. where? … there! … and he pointed to the parking lot at the far end of the field where a player with a gold jersey was leaving the park … the player did not return … how should I have handled this? .. leaving the field w/o the referee’s permission is a yellow card offense, but there was no one to card.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Not a problem! Technically the referee should imply write up the infringement and include it in the match report, and let the team officials know this is being done. However, with youth players there is always the possibility that “Mom” has come and taken “Sonny” or “Sis” away for another family event, so the referee should inquire before taking drastic action.


MISCONDUCT AFTER THE GAME IS OVER
Your question:
In regards to the new prohibition on the display of cards after a match, what is the proper procedure by which to deal with post-game misconduct? Specifically, what are you to do when a player commits a sending-off offense? Are we to withold his player pass, as we would for a send-off during the game?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
The referee may no longer show the card after the game has ended, but the rest of the procedure remains the same: Note the player’s name, team, number, time, offense, etc., and write it up for the match report. Whatever other things are required by the competition for a send-off or caution should also be done. Just don’t show the card.


FOOLISH REFEREES AND BOORISH COACHES
Your question:
What is the appropriate way to question the legitimacy of a goal during a game? We were involved in a game where the winning goal was scored on a handball which the referee did not see but the linesmand called it. The referee called goal…then no goal after the linesman called the hand ball…. then goal again after the opposing coach ran out onto the field and told the ref that he could not change his initial call of goal no matter what. We stayed on our line and did not know what to do.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
There is no appropriate way to question the legitimacy of any call by the referee during the game. The referee should have consulted with his assistant referee (aka “linesman”) and based the final decision on that information. The fact that the referee then once again changed the decision because the other coach said that a decision once made cannot be changed was a deplorable error and mistake. Unfortunately, once the game was restarted with a kick-off, no further change was possible.

We apologize to you for this foolish behavior by the referee. There’s not much we can do about the boorishness of the opposing coach.


INADVERTENT WHISTLE–USE YOUR HEAD, REF!
Your question:
U9 boys travel game: The whistle was blown inadvertently while a player is dribbling the ball unchallenged down the field. The ref immediately says “my mistake play.” (The ball was still in the field of play.) Play continues for about 1 minute and a goal is scored. The coach who had the goal scored against him argues that the goal should not be allowed because the referee didn’t “drop the ball” after the inadvertent whistle. The referee reversed the goal.
1. Since the referee would have the option of returning a drop ball to the sole possession of the team the whistle effected, and then let play continue for the amount of time it continued one could argue the goal should be allowed.
2. The other coach argued that in wasn’t a drop ball so the later goal should not be allowed.

What would your advice be in this situation.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Whether or not a goal was “scored” and then taken away makes no difference. (No goal is possible under these circumstances unless the referee has compounded the error by allowing the game to be restarted with a kick-off.) The only possible thing for the referee to do once he or she has blown the whistle inadvertently is to restart with a dropped ball. The drop would be taken at the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.


PROPER KICK-OFF
Your question:
I got a question regarding the execution of a Kick-off. This happenend in a High School game. The Referee starts the game and blows the whistle. The player who takes the Kick Off has one foot on the ball. She pushes the ball forward but still keeps the foot on the ball. So the ball is kicked and moves forward which normally constitutes a legal Kick-Off. But now she passes the ball back to a teammate who is standing on her side of the field. She never took her foot of the ball until she played it to her teammate. The referee let this happen because he didn’t know what to do about it but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong. We were talking about that situation in one of our referee meetings and I heard all different answers like “two-touch” or “Illegal Kick-off”. In my opinion this is trickery which should be penalized with a caution and an IDF. Mabe you can give a answer to that matter.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game, the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward. In addition, the kicker may not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player. “Kick” means to impel the ball with the foot and then release it; it does not mean to roll the ball with the foot on top of the ball. The “kick-off” you describe was not properly taken and should have been called back and retaken. There is no requirement for a caution.


AGE DATES FOR YOUTH COMPETITION
Your question:
Who decides the age/ birth date cutoff dates? National or State or Local Associations? Where can I go to find the ages for the age brackets?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
All of the above, depending on the particular competition. For national data, check with USYS at usyouthsoccer.org. For state data, check with your state association (whose Internet data you can find at the USYS site). For local data, check with your local association or club.


BLAZING CARDS!
Your question:
In a youth league, can a referee give a yellow card to a coach because the coach and substitue players are closer then 1 yard from the side lines ?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game the referee may not show a card to any coach. On the other hand, the rules of some competition do permit this, just as some competitions limit how close the non-playing personnel and team officials may be to the touch line. The referee should always seek to avoid giving cards to anyone if there is another way to solve the problem without sacrificing good game management. One good way to do that is to advise the team officials of the rule of the competition, rather than rushing in with cards ablaze.


RULES FOR UNDER 8S
Your question:
Are all fouls committed in the penalty box by the defense taking from the spot of the foul as indirect kicks?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
According to the rules adopted by the USYS for 2004, Law 12, “all fouls shall result in a direct free kick.” In addition, Law 13, “all kicks are direct and all opponents are at least four (4) yards from the ball until it is in play.” There is no penalty kick in Under 8 soccer.

Local rules might be different. You will have to check with your local competition.


USING THE ADVANTAGE CLAUSE
Your question:
Last night while calling a highschool game, an attacking player beat the defending team’s sweeper (3 feet outside the penalty box), the sweeper seeing that he is beaten throws his hip into the attacking player taking the attacking player off his feet. At the same moment the Attacking player’s teammate (Outside midfielder) runs onto the ball in the “box” and regains the advantage and subsequently miss handles the ball out of play. What is the right decision for the referee?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
The “right decision” is to make a decision. Award the advantage for the “hip throw”–advantage sustained long enough (2-3 seconds)–teammate with the ball subsequently doesn’t score, but not as a result of the original foul. The only remaining question would be whether the “hip throw” was reckless or performed with excessive force and therefore cardable at the next stoppage.


PROPER MECHANICS ON A GOAL SCORED
Your question:
There was a shot on goal, it bounced off goalie’s arms and slowly heading into the goal net, the goalie turned and dive toward the ball at about waist height and grabbed the ball, threw the ball back into field of play, the goalie’s teammate kicked the ball upfield right away.

The center ref was not sure the ball had passed the plane of goalie line, so he looked at the AR, and the AR was running toward the upfield, the center ref thought the AR’s running was just keeping up with the ball movement and hence no call was made. Later the AR told the center ref the ball did break the plane and his run toward upfield was to indicate a goal.

So my question is, should the center ref stopped the play to ask the AR and resume the play with an drop kick if it was not a goal, or the AR shall flag the center ref to verbally communicate the call for goal?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Correct procedure for the lead assistant referee when a goal is scored and the ball returns to the field is to raise the flag vertically to get the referee¹s attention. When the referee stops play, the lead AR puts flag straight down, runs a short distance up the touch line toward the halfway line to affirm that a goal has been scored. The lead AR then takes up the position for a kick-off and then records the goal after the trail assistant referee has recorded it.

If this procedure (from the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees” 2004) had been followed, there would not have been any problem.


AR POSITIONING AND MECHANICS
Your question:
A team took a shot on the opposing teams goalie and the goalie stopped it near the line. The center looked at the AR to see if it was a goal but there was no signal at that time mainly due to the fact that the AR was 25-30 yards from the end line. The goalie then played the ball out to a team mate which then passed it to another team mate. After 25-30 seconds after the goalie “saved” the ball the AR then raised his flag and signaled that it was a goal. I know if the ball had been kicked out of bounds and a stoppage of play took place and then a restart occurred then the goal would not have counted. So my question then becomes what is the correct course of action or was that the correct course?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
According to the information you supplied, the assistant referee was in no position to make the call. Therefore no decision other than whether or not to “score the goal” should or could have been made. The answer is no goal. We are prepared to join the party to tar and feather the AR.


NO OFFSIDE, BUT POSSIBLE IMPEDING
Your question:
Corner kick, player in offside position in front of GK (player on goal line and corner kick with ball 1 yd off goal line). Ball kicked directly into goal. However, player in offside position interfered with play by screening keeper. A clear offside violation if restart was DFK near corner.

Exception in Law 11 is when “player receives ball directly from” Goal Kick, Throw In or Corner Kick. Here player never received ball but violated another aspect of the offside law. My first thought is guilty – but ???????

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
The player in this situation may not be punished for infringing any aspect of Law 11, as it is impossible to be offside directly from a corner kick. However, it is an offense if the player who is standing in front of a goalkeeper when a corner kick is being taken takes advantage of the position to impede the goalkeeper before the kick is taken and before the ball is in play. And, even if the referee is so naive as to fail to deal with that offense, a player who impedes the goalkeeper’s ability to play the ball, without attempting to play the ball himself, must be punished by the award of an indirect free kick for the goalkeeper’s team.


SLIDE TACKLING
Your question:
Is there an official US Soccer position regarding slide tackling in youth play? It seems many players are not trained to do it, increasing the potential for an injury.

How does position affect whether a foul occurred ­ is it a foul if from behind where the player cannot see it coming? If the sliding player hits the player with the ball regardless of position (from front or behind) ­ is it a foul? Does hitting ball matter as to whether a foul occurred? Does hitting the ball first and then the player lessen any foul? If the cleats are pointing forward towards the player with the ball as the tackle is made – is that automatically a foul?

I look forward to your reply. USSF answer (September 29, 2004): What follows is what we teach our referees. Unfortunately, that does not always mean that they put it into practice correctly. Cleats exposed and pointing at someone should be considered dangerous play where younger, less skilled players are involved. At higher competitive levels, the referee should determine if the player is exposing the cleats to intimidate or cause injury to an opponent.

A slide tackle is legal, provided it is performed legally. There is nothing illegal about a slide tackle by itself‹no matter where it is done and no matter the direction from which it comes. In other words, it is not an infringement to tackle fairly from behind‹if there was no foul committed.

There is nothing illegal, by itself, about sliding tackles or playing the ball while on the ground. These acts become the indirect free kick foul known as playing dangerously (“dangerous play”) only if the action unfairly takes away an opponent’s otherwise legal play of the ball (for players at the youth level, this definition is simplified even more as “playing in a manner considered to be dangerous to an opponent”). At minimum, this means that an opponent must be within the area of danger which the player has created. These same acts can become the direct free kick fouls known as kicking or attempting to kick an opponent or tripping or attempting to trip or tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball only if there was contact with the opponent or, in the opinion of the referee, the opponent was forced to react to avoid the kick or the trip. The referee may warn players about questionable acts of play on the ground, but would rarely caution a player unless the act was reckless.

How can tackles become illegal? There are many ways but two of the most common are by making contact with the opponent first (before contacting the ball) and by striking the opponent with a raised upper leg before, during, or after contacting the ball with the lower leg. Referees must be vigilant and firm in assessing any tackle, because the likely point of contact is the lower legs of the opponent and this is a particularly vulnerable area. We must not be swayed by protests of “But I got the ball, ref” and we must be prepared to assess the proper penalty for misconduct where that is warranted.

FIFA has emphasized the great danger in slide tackles from behind because, if this tackle is not done perfectly, the potential for injury is so much greater. Accordingly, referees are advised that, when a player does commit a foul while tackling from behind, it should not be just a simple foul (e.g., tripping) but a foul and misconduct. The likelihood of danger is greater when the tackle is committed from behind and the probability of a foul having been committed is greater solely for this reason — due in large part to the “can’t prepare for the tackle” element when it comes from an unseen direction. In fact, if the referee decides that the foul while tackling from behind was done in such a way as to endanger the safety of the opponent, the proper action is to send the violator off the field with a red card.

The referee must judge each situation of a tackle from behind individually, weighing the guidelines published by FIFA and the U. S. Soccer Federation, the positions of the players, the way the tackler uses his/her foot or feet, the “temperature” of the game, the age/skill of the players, and the attitude of the players. What might be a caution (yellow card) in this game might be trifling in another game or a send-off (red card) in a third game. To make the proper judgment on such plays, the referee must establish early on a feel for the game being played on this day at this moment and must be alert to sudden changes in the “temperature” of this game. Much depends on the level of play, whether recreational or competitive, skilled or less developed, very young or adult. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.


NEW GOLD SHIRT?
Your question:
I have seen new gold referee shirts with checks available. Are they authorized for use?

USSF answer (September 20, 2004):
No, those shirts are not approved.


GOALKEEPER’S WATER BOTTLE IS AN OUTSIDE AGENT
Your question:
This situation occurred in a recent U-13  Boys competitive tournament game: The attacking team, one goal down, brought the ball into the opponent¹s penalty and put a shot on goal that appeared to be headed into the goal.  The ball struck the goalkeeper¹s water cooler (about 12 inches in diameter) which was setting just inside the left goalpost with its front edge just beyond the goal line.  The ball rebounded into the field of play having never completely crossed the goal line and the referee allowed play to continue. Several of the attacking players complained to the point where the referee stopped play, yelled at one of the attacking players and eventually dismissed an angry parent who had come out onto the field. He awarded an IFK for the defending team at the spot where he stopped play.

Was the referee correct to allow play to continue after the water cooler prevented a goal from being scored? What would be the correct restart if he was not correct? Should the goalkeeper be cautioned for setting his cooler where he did?

It seems this could all have been avoided if the AR had properly checked the nets and goal area prior to the start of the second half.

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
Don’t put all the blame on the assistant referee. The referee should have been closer to the scene than any AR and should have told the goalkeeper to move the water cooler well away from the goal immediately, long before the ball struck it.

As to the goal, the referee should have stopped play immediately when the ball rebounded from the cooler and restarted with a dropped ball at the place on the goal area line (the “six-yard line”) nearest to where the outside agent (the water cooler) interfered with the ball. No caution is necessary for anyone in this case.


IN A FOG?
Your question:
At a tournament with games scheduled on the hour all day long; the first game at 8:00AM was delayed by fog. The fog was very thick, but the ref, standing in the center circle could see both goals and all four corner flags; wanted to start the game. Standing at one goal you could not see the opposite goal and the assistant refs could not see each other. The coaches could not see the full pitch and did not want to start play until the fog cleared. Is there a USSF “fog” guide line to follow?

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
There are no fixed rules for determining when to call a game for poor visibility, whether it be fog or darkness. Once the game starts, the referee is the sole judge of whether or not the light is insufficient to see. Some referees have common sense; others do not. One common sense decision might be that if the assistant referees cannot see one another, there is not enough light for the players to see.

If all else fails, the referee should follow the Spirit of the Game and ensure that the players are afforded safety, equal treatment, and are able to enjoy the game. That would not happen if they could not see what they were doing.


GOALKEEPER RELEASE OF BALL AT PENALTY AREA LINE; CORNER KICK PLACEMENT
Your question:
It must be my imagination, but in professional play, keepers consistently run up to the end of the penalty area and kick the ball outside of the penalty area (sometimes using the mid circle at the top of the box), has the law changed to allow this?

Has the law ever determined where the ball can be placed at the corner? Half-in & half-out.

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
As long as the goalkeeper releases the ball before leaving the penalty area‹and does it within six seconds of having taken possession‹he or she may kick the ball wherever and whenever it seems best. Marginal offenses of this nature are either trifling or doubtful and hence, even though an actual infringement of the Law, should be ignored (or, at most, noted with a warning).

The lawmakers have established that at least a portion of the ball must be in contact with either the corner arc or that portion of the goal line or touch line that is within the corner area.


ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE LAWS OF THE GAME; PLACEMENT FOR OFFSIDE RESTART; REFEREES NOT FOLLOWING GUIDELINES
Your question:
The AR in the picture is always standing even with the offending attacking player, not the second last defender. Do they/did they used to do it this way, or is this an artist assuming something that did not get caught?

Part II
Seems if an attacker was WAY offside – like near the goal area and the 2nd last defender was near the halfway line, then restarting with an IFK where the attacker was would be unfair. In practice I generally see the kick taken from where both the AR usually is – the 2nd last defender.

I know what the ATR says – but it does not match what I see (no big deal).

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
If the attacker has advanced beyond the second-last defender, then the assistant referee is expected to move with that attacker. Although the AR may appear to be with the attacker in some situations, in reality, the AR has followed the ball when it was played past the second to last defender (as he should) and then stopped, squared, and signaled when it became evident that the attacker in the offside position had become involved in active play.

The restart for offside is where the offside player was when he or she became offside, not where the second-last defender was.

As for Part II, what can anyone say when confronted with the suggestion that, perhaps, just maybe, some referees are not performing their duties as prescribed in Advice to Referees or Guide to Procedures? All referees should resolve not to make the same mistake that apparently a number of our colleagues are apparently making. In any event, fairness is not the issue. An attacker has violated the Law and the Law prescribes the how, when, and where of the punishment. It doesn’t need to be “fair,” only just.


NEPOTISM
Your question:
Is there any statement by us soccer or an appropriate youth soccer organization that addresses nepotism and refereeing? We have two teen brothers, one who refs games in which a team is coached by his brother and mother. The mother (the youth soccer president) claims no one else is qualified, and refuses to recognize that this might be a conflict of interest. What do you think? Thanks for your time!

USSF answer (September 9, 2004):
In the 2004 edition of the Referee Administrative Handbook, p. 38, it suggests that assistant referees should not be related in any way to either team participating in the game unless it is impossible to get other affiliated officials assigned. Unfortunately, sometimes the referee game assignors do not have enough bodies to go around and ask parents or siblings to referee games in which their kin will be playing. The pertinent text says that referees “should not referee in any match in which they have a vested interest.” If a family member is playing and/or coaching, the referee has a vested interest. A complaint should be sent to the league and the state association.


SECOND TOUCH BY ‘KEEPER?
Your question:
I was watching a Mexican League match on T.V. and saw a play where the G.K. had the ball in the palm of his right hand (not extended) and was slowly walking the ball toward the edge of the penalty area. Everyone except for one attacker had cleared the penalty area and was in front of keeper. The lone attacker then came in from behind the keeper and knocked the ball from his hand using only his head. There did not seem to be any other contact other than the ball being “headed” out of the keepers hand. The attacker then collected the ball, pivoted and shot the ball into the net. The center referee then blew his whistle and disallowed the goal. Obviously, there was no clear explanation from the official as to what he had sanctioned. On the replay (and it was replayed quite a few times!) you could see AR2 raising his flag. There was no way to know if the center blew his whistle as a result of the flag or if he saw something on his own. Unfortunately the replay stopped short of showing if the AR “wiggled” his flag or simply raised it (I was thinking that the AR was signaling that the attacker was offside since he was not behind the ball).

To make matters worse, in the second half of the same match, the same thing occurred again! A different attacker “headed” the ball out of the keepers hand. As the attacker attempted to pass the keeper in order to collect the ball, the keeper basically grabbed the attacker and pulled him down! This time the referee swallowed his whistle and did not sanction either the “heading” of the ball or the fact that the keeper committed a major foul. The referee should have awarded a PK and the keeper should have been sent off!

I am not making this up! This was the opening match for Pumas of Mexico against the University of Guadalajara (Tecos). You have got to get a copy of this to review.

So, what is the correct ruling?

USSF answer (September 9, 2004):
The referee’s decision on the ball headed from the goalkeeper’s hand non-dangerously should be “no infringement.” This is the result of a new question and answer in the IFAB’s Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game for 2004.

As to the possible penalty kick, there isn’t much we can say about that, as we haven’t yet seen it.

NOTE: If anyone has a spare copy of the Pumas-Tecos game, I would like a copy of it, please.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION
AMENDED ANSWER DATED SEPTEMBER 8, 2004
Your question:
Question:I was just reading through the FIFA Q& A for 2004 and I have come upon 2 points which interest me and also confuse me to some degree. According the the document:
Law 12 21. If a goalkeeper is bouncing the ball, may an opponent play the ball as it touches the ground, provided he is not guilty of dangerous play?
Yes
22. After taking possession of the ball, a goalkeeper allows it to lie on his open hand. An opponent comes from behind him and heads the ball from his hand. Is this permitted?
This is permitted since the goalkeeper does not have full possession of the ball and the action of the opponent is not dangerous.

When I read ATR 12.16 and 12.17 I would have to interpret different things regarding such challenges for possession with the GK. I’m slightly surprised that FIFA would interpret the law in this way, but I can see it coming as part of their emphasis on supporting attacking soccer. My question is, what should we referees in the USA do regarding this tweak in interpretation. I’m assuming the USSF will be coming out with a revision to ATR or a position paper eventually) Until, something does come out, should we be enforcing the law in the way the ATR notes, or the way the Q&A notes? Thank you for any advice you can offer.

USSF AMENDED answer (September 8, 2004)(was August 4, 2004):
We are pleased to see that you are keeping up with more than just The Laws of The Game. FIFA’s Questions and Answers is an important document which has been used in the past to announce important changes in how to interpret various aspects of the Law. You have pointed to two of them (and there are others in the new version of the Q&A. Since FIFA officially published this on July 1, it becomes effective immediately world-wide and we are all obliged to officiate in accordance with our understanding of its guidelines. USSF is in the process of seeking clarification from FIFA regarding several of the new interpretations and, when we are clear about them, it is likely that there will be an announcement to assist referees in understanding what is new in the 2004 version. Where this means changes in Advice to Referees, we will include that information as well.

Meanwhile, our understanding of the provisions you have identified is that the ball is playable by an opponent at the moment the ball hits the ground when the goalkeeper has obviously released it‹but not if the goalkeeper is in the process of actively distributing the ball. The ball is playable by an opponent attempting to head it if the ball is being held in the open hand of the goalkeeper‹but not if the goalkeeper is in the process of distributing the ball. However, in either case, the opponent’s action must not be dangerous.


ALERTING THE GOALKEEPER NOT NECESSARY
Your question:
In an adult amateur game, I the center referee called a DFK at 20 yds. from goal for the attacking team. After showing the ‘no restart until the whistle sounds’, moving the defense 10 yds. from the ball and positioning myself; I blew the whistle, shot and goal occurred. I was then surrounded by the defense and approached on the field by the manager telling me I should have made sure the goalie was ready for play to restart. He claims that he was still positioning his wall. I said that was his problem, a wall is not a right, I told him to leave the field which he did. We restarted with a kickoff, the goal stands. It took about 2 to 4 seconds after moving the wall back that I was in position and blew the whistle. Does all look well to you?

USSF answer (September 1, 2004):
The goalkeeper should be ready at all times. There is no need to alert the goalkeeper at kick-offs, at penalty kicks, or at free kicks or corner kicks. In fact, the defending team has no “right” under the Laws of the Game to form a wall, as this is simply a way to waste time. The kicking team has the right to be able to take the kick quickly and without interference.


THERE HAVE BEEN NO/ZERO/RIEN/NIL/KEINE CHANGES IN OFFSIDE!
Your question:
Your recent response to the offside query about the Olympic Women’s USA-Japan game was done while I was composing the same question about those 3 USA players trapped offside while another USA player dashed forward and scored the winning goal. This situation also occurred in an Olympic Men’s game (I forget the teams) where a 15 foot pass was made to a player who was way offside. He nonchalantly let the ball slip in front of him while an onside player (you now use the term ‘onside’ I see) ran behind him, got the ball and scored the winning goal. In prior times these were automatic calls of offside. A sleepy referee could feel comfortable where a player was offside knowing that any pass forward would get a whistle toot.

So, without any re-wording of the laws we have a dramatically changed game. We now have a ‘tactical offside’ in the game. The offside traps that teams practice so much are questionable practices now. This new emphasis on application of the laws should have been preceded with drum rolls, fanfare and sky rockets because that much of an impact has been made.

Three well-schooled referees can administer a re-emphasized offside call, but it will be an extreme problem for all those many, many games controlled by a single referee. Spotting the offside positioned player was previously enough, and that’s not so easy a feat for a lone ref. Now the other attacking players will also have to be monitored with precision. I foresee great problems at all amateur levels. What we need now is advice to referees – and to coaches, and to fans by multiple publications.

We have three levels of rules for soccer. Those drawn up by FIFA, those devised by competitions, those applied by referees. I can see lone referees announcing before the game that they will not apply the New Offside Call (NOC) – they won’t NOC the game.

What advice is pertinent now?

USSF answer (September 1, 2004):
There has been NO major change in any portion of Law 11 nor in the Federation’s interpretation of the Law. We have used the term “onside” for many years and even issued a list of correctly-spelled terms a few years ago that removed the Anglicized hyphen from on-side, just as it is removed from off-side. The information in the Advice to Referees continues to apply.

The player in the offside situation in the men’s game in the Olympics clearly indicated his noninvolvement in play, as is required by the Law, by standing at attention. This is a legal tactic approved at the highest levels and perfectly permissible to play at any level. In fact, it was used to good effect by Brazil at the 1994 World Cup held here in the United States.

As to the three sorts of rules for soccer, they do exist: the Laws of the Game, the rules of the competition, and the way the referee chooses to call the game on any given day. And there is nothing that can be done about it, as long as state or national administrators are lax in ensuring that competitions follow the Laws of the Game, rather than going off on their own; as long as assessors and administrators are lax in failing to reprimand and punish referees for not following the Laws of the Game and the directives of the Federation; and as long as instructors fail to provide the proper path to enlightenment.


REVIEWING THE “4 D’s”
Your question:
A ball is played forward towards the goal from approximately mid field. The ball lands approximately equal distance between the Defending GK and the attacker. A 50-50 ball; both players charge towards the ball (the attacker is not offside), The defending GK leaves her PA to play the ball. Both players arrive at the ball nearly at the same time and the defending GK fouls the attacker in the process of playing the ball. Does this foul warrant a caution or an ejection?

USSF answer (August 31, 2004):
If the goalkeeper fouls the opposing player while “in the process of playing the ball,” the referee would call the foul. The referee would then apply the Four D’s (see below) in determining whether or not to send off the goalkeeper for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player¹s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick.

A position paper of late 2002 from the Manager of Referee Development and Education on obvious goalscoring opportunities (affectionately known as “The 4Ds”), which applies to Reason 5 under Law 12, and states:
QUOTE
In order for a player to be sent off for denying an “obvious goal-scoring opportunity,” four elements must be present:
– Number of Defenders ‹ not more than one defender between the foul and the goal, not counting the defender who committed the foul
– Distance to goal ‹ the closer the foul is to the goal, the more likely it is an obvious goalscoring opportunity
– Distance to ball ‹ the attacker must have been close enough to the ball at the time of the foul to have continued playing the ball
– Direction of play ‹ the attacker must have been moving toward the goal at the time the foul was committed
If any element is missing, there can be no send off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Further, the presence of each of these elements must be “obvious” in order for the send off to be appropriate under this provision of Law 12.
END OF QUOTE

And there is always the possibility that the foul itself might have warranted a send-off and red card, whether there was an obvious goalscoring opportunity or not.

In all cases, the final decision is based on the opinion of the referee.


NO PERMISSION TO SUBSTITUTE
Your question:
Team A lines up for a goal kick. Team A’s coach indicates to the youth linesmen that he wants to substitute a player. The youth linesmen raises his flag momentarily, but the youth ref does not see it. At this time, one player for Team A begins to leave the field. Team A proceeds to make the goal kick, and the linesmen puts his flag down and runs to get in position with the last defender. Another 3 -5 seconds go by and Team A’s extra player runs on the field, while the exiting player is still on the field by about 10 yards or so.

The goal kick is short and goes to Team B. Team B gets the ball dribbles to the goal and scores.

The coach for Team A is upset and wants the goal called back. However, the center Ref never gave him permission to substitute even though the linesmen tried for a moment to get his attention.

The center ref let the goal stand. He did not card the subs. He could have cared them for entering and leaving the field, but since it was a youth game and they just got scored on he let that go. Should he have disallowed the goal since the team was substituting in the middle of the goal kick being taken?

USSF answer (August 31, 2004):
The referee took the correct action by doing nothing. Score the goal and get on with the game, after admonishing the two players for their illegal actions. The referee could caution both players for leaving (the player going out) and entering (the new player coming in) the field without permission, but if no harm was done the offense seems trifling in this particular situation.

The coach of Team A has no authority and no reason to complain. Substitutes may not enter the field until the player they are replacing has left, and no player may leave or enter the field for any reason without the permission of the referee. If the coach protests too much, he or she is behaving irresponsibly and should be asked to leave the vicinity of the field. The referee should give a complete summary of the incident in the match report.


TRIFLING INFRINGEMENT
Your question:
In a recent tournament championship match a player from the opposing team was admittedly fouled (though not hard, he never left his feet). Before the referee blew the whistle, the player picked up the ball and began positioning it for his indirect kick. Since the ball was still in play until the whistle sounded, was this not a hand ball? The officials response when I questioned him was, “I was getting ready to blow the whistle.” What was the proper procedure in this situation?

USSF answer (August 30, 2004):
While the player’s act was a bit premature, there is no need for punishment in this case. Once the referee has decided that an infringement has taken place, play has been stopped, whether or not the referee has announced the decision by blowing the whistle. The referee should allow the free kick to proceed, but should also warn the player to wait for the whistle the next time, as not all referees are as quick witted or understanding as in this instance.


BEHAVIOR OF THE “WALL”
Your question:
Late in a tied game, a free kick is awarded to the Red team, three yards beyond the penalty area, within the penalty arc, obviously a very dangerous opportunity. After the usual delay, the Blue team is moved back the specified ten yards and all seems ready.  The referee blows the whistle to indicate the kick is to be taken.  As the Red player runs to the ball, in an obviously well-choreographed maneuver the players in the “wall” all spin around, now facing their goal, and put their arms straight up from their shoulders.  The kick is taken and the ball hits one of those extended arms, deflecting in such a way as to be easily recovered by the Blue GK.

I couldn’t justify a handling call, at least not to myself, although certainly many Red players were of that opinion.  I decided that the “spinning and stretching” constituted Unsporting Behaviour, and taking place before the kick, I could rule that the kick never officially happened. I Cautioned the Blue Captain (he was in the wall), reset the ceremonial free kick and saw it converted for the winning goal.

Was I correct in my decision?

USSF answer (August 30, 2004):
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 player who played the ball with the hand. Caution and show the yellow card; restart with the free kick.

However, it would be more reasonable‹and more just‹to decide that a handling offense occurred. After all, the hands/arms were not being carried in a “natural position” and the action was taken deliberately to increase unfairly the “size” of the wall. Even a defender at the end of the wall putting his hand on his hip with his elbow out is considered to have handled the ball if it strikes the elbow‹and this action is far less extreme than the example given. That would make the restart a penalty kick (based on your description of the location of the kick), rather than a retake of the original free kick.


YOUTH RULES ON HOT WEATHER?
Your question:
I am becoming more concerned about the safety of 12 year old soccer players for the following reasons. In recent tournaments over HOT & HUMID August weekends, these 12 year old children, playing in u13 tournament competition, played 2 games of 70 min each (starting at 8am) on Saturday and finished (by 5pm) on Sunday with two additional games of 70 min each plus two overtimes of 10 min each.

By my calculations these children played 300 min of soccer in less than 34 hours! Are the USSF youth tournament directors trying to teach these kids about soccer or trying to “burn them out” (literally) in the August heat? We would certainly never ask our adult professionals to compete in three full games in a day and a half, so why the children?

What are the USSF rules and regulations for children’s games over a weekend?

USSF answer (August 27, 2004):
You should send your concerns to your state association and then to US Youth Soccer, . We don’t set the tournament rules of play.


SECOND TOUCH BY ‘KEEPER?
Your question:
This situation happened in a game I was working last week and lead to some discussion after the game.

The attacking team takes a shot on goal. The defending keeper moves across his goal and has to stretch his arms out to his side to attempt to catch the ball. The ball deflects off of his hands and falls to the ground. The keeper takes a quick look around and seeing that there are no attackers near him decides to dribble the ball up to the top of the penalty box and then picks up the ball and punts it. The referee stopped play and awarded an indirect free kick for a second touch. The discussion after the game centered around whether the referee considered this a save and then an accidental rebound. The referee said that he considered it a save but at the time the keeper started to dribble the ball with his feet the keeper gave up his opportunity to pick up the rebound with his hands. The referee said that if the keeper had picked up the ball before dribbling it, that he would not have considered it a second touch but would have considered it a continuation of the save. The majority of the other referees who were at this game said that since the keeper had made a save and the rebound was accidental that the keeper can now dribble the ball with his feet and pick it up and this is not a second touch.

Can you shed some light on which is the correct call to make for these type of rebound situations.

USSF answer (August 27, 2004):
Where do people get the notion that dribbling the ball with the feet somehow changes the situation? The referee was wrong on both counts‹saving (deflecting) the ball and then dribbling it didn’t change the fact that, not having gained possession in the first place, the ‘keeper could handle the ball‹and picking up the ball and then dribbling it didn’t change the fact that, having controlled it with his hands, the ball could not directly be touched again by the ‘keeper.


“NEGATIVE” OR NON-STANDARD SIGNALS
Your question:
3-4 years ago I was instructed that negative signals were not in the procedures and should never be used.

A couple of years ago I was informed that there was a shift in the wind and negative signals were an effective tool and could be used when appropriate.

What is the USSF position on negative signals?

USSF answer (August 27, 2004):
There was a time (longer ago than 3-4 years, however) when negative signals or, more generally, any signals not specifically approved by FIFA or USSF and not described in the Guide to Procedures were discouraged. With the publication of the 1998 Guide to Procedures, that emphasis began to change. The 1998 Guide stated:
Other signals or methods of communication intended to supplement those described here are permitted only if they do not conflict with established procedures and only if they do not intrude on the game, are not distracting, are limited in number and purpose, and are carefully described by the referee prior to the commencement of a match.

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

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


OUT-OF-SHAPE REFEREES
Your question:
In the past few years of my refereeing, I’ve seen too much of youth referees that are out of shape (way overweight, unfit…), especially in a recent tournament one of those refs who is also an assignor for high school games kept using foul language and making fun of the younger referees. I kept my mouth shut since any conversation would’ve ended my game assignment. The local referee coordinator of the tournament had nothing to say either, since his game plans would’ve been affected. Is there a better way to enlighten this referee of his behavior?

USSF answer (August 24, 2004):
You should submit a full report to the State Referee Administrator or State Youth Referee Administrator in your state. Before writing, you should consider first making a phone call to let the SRA know what is going on. The SRA might then consider sending someone to take a look at the referee(s). Once you have reported it you have done your duty.


DECEPTION AND THE “RIGHT” TO SET UP A WALL
Your question:
Two interesting sequence of events in recent youth games I was observing instead of refereeing that I would like your comments on:

1. A direct kick was awarded just outside the penalty area near the penalty arc. The attacking team quickly positioned 3 players 10 yards from the ball on the most direct line for the ball to travel to the near post and then hunched down. The defensive team was slow to set up their wall and complained to the referee that the attacking team was interfering with them. The referee to his credit ignored them and backed up to watch the kick. The defending team set up their ball next to the three attacking players, which left the both the near and far post as attack points. The ball was struck toward the near post with sufficient bend to thwart the goalie’s save attempt. Needless to the say the coach complained after the game to the referee that A) the attacking team interfered with his team’s ability to set up the wall and B) the attacking players kneeling was unsporting behavior. Was the fact that the defending team could have set up the wall directly behind the kneeling players something the referee should point out to the coach, which would have nullified the both the attackers being where the defenders wanted to be and the kneeling? Or does the referee simply state the defending team has no more right to any particular spot on the field while waiting for the restart than the attacking team? How about the kneeling?

2. An indirect kick was awarded just inside the penalty area where the penalty arc met the top of the penalty area (the spot is just for reference, this situation could apply anywhere). One boy from the attacking team placed the ball where the referee indicated, then was joined by two teammates who stood between the defending players and the ball, conferring with the third attacker, particularly shielding the defending team’s view of the ball. While the defense is setting up the wall under the goalie’s direction, one boy casually begins to tap his toe into the ground just next to the ball, appearing to listen intently to the strategy for the free kick. He taps the ball lightly, moving it backwards slightly from its resting position. Then two boys turn and wall toward the wall as if moving to a pre-planned position. The remaining attacker then exploded forward, dribbling the ball to a better shooting position and scoring, surprising the defenders. The defenders then expect the referee to award them an indirect kick, but he signals for kick off, indicating good goal. Is this type of concealment UB? Obviously, the referee was watching the entire time and saw that technically the ball was played by two separate players before entering the goal. How much explanation should the ref give to the confused defending team in order to show he was paying attention? Does he explain how the one boy slightly touched the ball, or just state that the ball was correctly played for an indirect kick?

USSF answer (August 24, 2004):
1. The defending team has no “right” to set up a wall anywhere on the field. Their only “right” at free kicks is to give the kicking team a minimum of ten yards from the place where the ball will go into play. And the coach has no “right” to complain about anything; the coach’s only right is to behave responsibly. There is no requirement that players on either team be standing at a free kick. Thus, kneeling is permitted. And yes, the defending team could have placed players for its wall behind the kneeling players on the kicking team.

2. The kicking team is permitted to practice deception of this sort at any free kick or corner kick, where the only requirement is that the ball be kicked and moves. Kicked in this case extends to toe tapping the ball even the slightest amount, but not to stepping on the top of the ball. (This ploy would not be permitted at a penalty kick or kick-off, in which the ball must also move forward.) The play you describe is perfectly legal, provided that the player who dribbles the ball away and shoots on goal is not the same player who tapped the ball to move it from its original location.

In both cases, the defending team did not pay attention to what was happening. The coaches should take plenty of notes and practice defense against such things during the week. There is no requirement in the Laws of the Game that the referee coddle players for their own ignorance.


KEEPING THE FLAG UP
Your question:
I am a grade 8 youth referee. Recently I was a spectator at an U-13 boys Class I tournament game where a goal was scored by the Blue team while the AR was holding up his flag to indicate a touch line throw in for the Red team. Apparently the AR raised the flag to indicate that the ball had passed over the touch line off of blue, but neither the players nor the center noticed the flag and play continued for more than a minute with a series of 15 or more touches on the ball by both teams, before the Blue team put the ball in the net. At that point the referee observed the AR signaling that the ball had earlier been out of play. The referee consulted with the AR, disallowed the goal and gave the throw in to the Red team.

Did the referee make the right call in disallowing the goal after the passage of so much time and play?

Does the AR have a responsibility/obligation to hold the flag until the referee acknowledges the signal, or should he/she drop the flag after some reasonable passage of time in the event that play has continued and the referee has not seen or acknowledged the flag?

Can a referee wave off an AR’s out of bounds signal if none of the players perceived that the ball had gone out of bounds and play continued? Law 9 does not appear to leave a lot of room for discretion about when play has stopped, but I am aware of many referees who encourage ARs that work their games to allow play to continue unless the ball is clearly out of bounds; the idea being that it is better to allow the game to continue than to stop play for close out of bounds calls. The fact that none of the players were aware that the ball was out of bounds and both teams continued to play without hesitation suggests that this particular call by the AR was of the close variety.

USSF answer (August 24, 2004):
The 2004 edition of the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees” tells us that if the referee does not see it, the assistant referee maintains the signal in accordance with the pregame conference. This is a matter that must be discussed and agreed upon among the officials before the game.


OFFSIDE SITUATION AT THE OLYMPICS
Your question:
The US Women’s match against Japan had what seemed to me to be a great example for offside discussion. The camera angle showed Hamm’s kick and was looking across from the offside line. Just before the ball was kicked, Japan ran up to trap three of four US players offside. However the ball went to and was played by Boxx, who controlled it and then passed to Wambaugh, who was behind the ball, for the score.

It seemed obvious on stop frame replay who was in and not in an offside position. The only question in my mind is deciding whether or not any of the three who were in an offside position became involved in the play. Every recert class I’ve taken some always have stories about some situation. While clearly “In the opinion of the referee” applies, it all comes down to what the referee saw. (At a tournament game last season, a fairly clear tripping call wasn’t made-the referee had turned momentarily to deal with some inappropriate comments players were making toward one another and turned back to see the girl on the ground. He didn’t see it, he can’t call it.)  However, with a clear viewing angle on the tape that was probably seen my many of our referees, it seems to be a good teaching tool.

Did you see it? If so, could you discuss why they were not involved in the play and why you would have made the same call, or why in your opinion they were involved in the play and the flag should have been raised.

USSF answer (August 23, 2004):
Wambach and two other USA players were in offside POSITIONS at the moment the ball was played in from near the touch line, but none of them was actively involved in the play. In other words, they had no effect on play and did not interfere with any opponents. Boxx ran in and played the ball laterally to Wambach, who was behind the ball. No offside. Score the goal.


ANNUAL ASSESSMENTS FOR GRADE 7 REFEREES
Your question:
I have recently informed that a Grade 7 now requires an annual maintenance assessment. However, I cannot find the requirement in the Referee Administrative Handbook. If this is a requirement, please provide to me the citation in the Handbook and when the requirement was adopted.

USSF answer (August 23, 2004):
We assume that this is a requirement adopted by your state referee committee, as there is no national requirement that Grade 7 referees be assessed annually. Please check with your State Director of Referee Assessment to be certain.

The new Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) notes that the state may require one developmental assessment “if adopted by the state.” See the bottom of page 19 of the new RAH under annual renewal requirements.


PENALTY KICKS IN EXTENDED TIME
Your question:
GU10 tournament final. The competition rules state “no slide tackling”. The score is Blue 4 and Red 2. Blue is attacking inside the Red penalty area when a Red defender slide tackles for the ball and makes contact with the attacker before making contact with the ball. There is 15 seconds before the end of the second half. I blow my whistle and conduct a penalty kick after time has run out. 5-2. 1) In the USSF advise to referees it states that the referee is to advise the coaches that time has expired. I just pointed to my watch and with palms down made like the safe signal in baseball. Do you blow the whistle 3 times and when? 2) This Penalty kick is treated more like a kick from the mark. Where do you place your AR’s? The Advise to Referees says to keep the players on the field, but keep in mind they are already celebrating the victory while I am conducting a penalty kick. 3) This was a good call but given the circumstances what would you do?

USSF answer (August 12, 2004):
(1) There is no need to advise the coaches of anything in most games, but it is probably a wise idea when dealing with younger players. The Advice to Referees states simply that the referee should announce that time has expired and indicate clearly that the penalty kick is now being taken “in extended time.” The Federation and the Laws of the Game leave the signal used to announce that the half or game is over to the individual referee. Lead Assistant Referee – Waits for the referee to begin supervising the restart and then moves quickly to the intersection of the goal line and the penalty area line to prepare for the duties assigned by the referee in the pre-game conference
– If a goal is scored, keeps players under observation and follows the normal goal procedure
– If play continues, quickly resumes the position to judge offside (cutting the corner of the field if necessary) and keeps play in view

Trail Assistant Referee
– Moves up the touch line to near the midfield line and monitors player activities out of the view of the referee
– If a goal is not scored, quickly takes a position appropriate for the next phase of play


RESTART ON ‘KEEPER INJURY
Your question:
In a recent local tournament there arose a discussion in the referee tent on the proper restart after an injury with the goalkeeper in possession. Several very experienced referees had opposing view points. We were all pretty much in agreement that it would be best handled by allowing the keeper to send the ball out of touch and allowing the opponents to throw it back into the keeper but in youth matches this is not always feasible. What do the Laws allow?

USSF answer (August 11, 2004):
The only restart provided for by the Laws of the Game is a dropped ball. The referee cannot instruct or force any player to play the ball to anyone or any place.


TOO MANY PLAYERS
Your question:
After a substitution, the referee allowed play to restart with one team having 12 players on the field.  The AR on the fans side of the field noticed but could not get the attention of the Ref.  The team with 12 players attacks quickly and scores to go up 1-0. Prior to the kick-off, the Ref sees the AR, conferences, counts the players and disallows the goal.  Restart is a goal kick.  The team that has a goal disallowed ends up losing 1-0.

At halftime, the other AR states that the goal should have stood and only a caution issued to a player on the team with 12. The Ref admits this AR was probably correct.

To allow a goal to stand does not seem fair.  In addition, to caution a player when the ref allowed the play to restart does not seem the same as entering the field without permission.

What is the correct call?

USSF answer (August 5, 2004):
The answer in all such cases has been established in the newly-revised Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game for 2004. The restart for all situations in which an outside agent (and that is what the extra player is) takes part is a dropped ball.

The extra player must be removed and cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without the permission of the referee. The referee will apply the advantage or stop play. If play is stopped to administer a caution, it will be restarted with a dropped ball at the place where the ball was located when play was stopped (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8). If the extra player is not discovered until after play has been stopped, the ball is dropped at the place where the player likely entered the field.

In the case of a goal being scored, If the referee realizes the mistake before the match is restarted, the goal is not awarded. The referee should instruct the player to leave the field of play. Play will be restarted with a dropped ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball passed into the goal. If the referee learns of the extra player only later, the extra player is removed but the goal must stand. In all events, the referee must include full details in the match report.


SCORING A GOAL DIRECTLY FROM A KICK-OFF
Your question:
At the fifa.com website there are a list of questions and answers (as you know). Check out the answer to question 3 in law Vlll.
http://www.fifa.com/fifa/handbook/Q&A/q&a.8.frame.html

What am I missing?

USSF answer (August 9, 2004):
We are not sure why you believe that something is missing in Question 3 under Law 8 in FIFA’s new Q&A. The question simply states a fact‹that a goal can validly be scored directly from a kick-off‹and is likely included because this is a change in the Law from several years back. Before, the Law stated that a goal could NOT be scored directly from a kick-off; now it can. In fact, Question 3 in the original Q&A (published in 1990 and often called just “the green book”) stated that, if the ball went into the opponent’s goal directly from a kick-off, the restart was a goal kick! The currently correct answer (a goal!) was enshrined in the 2000 version of the Q&A.


REMOVING THE JERSEY
Your question:
In this article
http://www.ussoccer.com/referees/fullstory.sps?iNewsid=77181&itype=4042&icategoryid=83
it states that “The restriction applies to ANY player celebrating a goal, not just the player who scored the goal.” (referring to the removal of a jersey during the celebration of a goal). Does the restriction also apply to members of the opposing team (the team scored against) who may remove their jerseys?

USSF answer (August 9, 2004):
Until further instructions are received, the caution would apply to any player who removed his or her jersey after a goal was scored.


NO CARDS FOLLOWING THE END OF THE GAME
Your question:
I was wondering if a player can get red carded after the game was over and if it is a foul to yell out, “mine”, when going for the ball?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
Up until the end of June, a player could be shown the red card after the conclusion of the game, provided that the players were in the act of leaving the field. Now the International F. A. Board and FIFA have made it clear that no one may be shown the card after the final whistle. However, the referee is still expected to provide full details on the incident in the match report.

No, it has never been a “foul” to call out “mine” when going for the ball, but it is misconduct and subject to a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior if, in the opinion of the referee, the player’s action was intended to deceive an opponent unfairly. Just calling out “mine” is not misconduct.


SLEEVELESS JERSEYS [LAW 4]
I had read in Referee Magazine that sleeveless jerseys were to be allowed. I am now hearing from our local league referee that they have been told that sleeveless jerseys were not legal. Law IV does state that jerseys must have sleeves. Can you clarify this?

USSF answer (August 9, 2004):
The official answer may be found in USSF’s memorandum on this subject November 1, 2002:
USSF has been informed by FIFA that it has decided to set aside temporarily the new provision regarding jersey sleeves found in International Board Decision 1 of Law 4. Accordingly, effective immediately and until further notice, Referees will have no responsibility for determining the legality of jersey sleeves or for enforcing the provision in Law 4 related to jersey sleeves.

Referees are directed not to include in their game reports any information regarding the presence, absence, or altered status of jersey sleeves.

The only concern a referee has with respect to the condition of a player¹s jersey is safety.

Referees are, however, expected to enforce all relevant provisions in the Rules of Competition governing a match,

This approach was confirmed again in the 2003 Memorandum which made the point that no player or team should be prevented from playing due to any issue involving jersey sleeves.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
The following happened recently in a tournament playoff match. Team A and Team B were tied at the end of overtime and so the match went to a shootout. It went all the way to the 8th kickers for each team. Team A’s 8th kicker scored, Team B’s kicker missed. It was then discovered that Team A’s 8th kicker was not one of the 11 players for Team A on the field at the end of overtime. The referee allowed the kick by the 8th kicker to stand, thus allowing Team A to win and advance in the playoffs, but also gave Team A’s 8th kicker a yellow card.

Of course, the referee should have been keeping better track of the players, but since he wasn’t, was his way of handling it correct? Is there any way that the kick by Team A’s 8th kicker could be disallowed? Would it matter if the ineligibility of the player was discovered immediately after his successful kick rather than not until after Team B’s 8th kicker missed?

USSF answer (August 7, 2004):
The rules governing kicks from the penalty mark to decide a tied match specifically state that, except as modified for this procedure, all other applicable Laws of the Game apply. So, the question becomes, what would the referee do if something comparable had happened during play in the match? If a goal were scored and the problem with the team that scored the goal (e.g., extra player) were not discovered until after play had restarted, the goal would stand. If it were discovered before play restarted, the goal would not stand.

Here, the equivalent of play restarting is the taking of the next kick from the penalty mark. Since the next kick occurred and then the problem was discovered, the result of the kick would stand. If the player’s ineligibility had been discovered before Team B took its kick, the result would not stand and the kick by Team A would have to be retaken by an eligible player.


GUEST PLAYERS [LAW 3]
Your question:
Can a guest player in a youth league play down or must she be of the same age or younger?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
We cannot answer the question because all such matters are regulated by the local rules of competition. You would need to check with the league, club, or tournament which is authorizing the match.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
I have a FIFA and high school patch. At a recent FIFA meeting for referees, we were told that a push is being made at the national level to loosen up on offside. I.E. a torso ahead is OK at the national level and soon will be OK for us locally, with the prediction that in a few years daylight between the offensive player (ahead) and defensive player (behind) will be the rule. However, for now, we were told not to change how we apply the law.

At at more recent high school meeting, we were told the same thing by a state referee official who administers both patches (21 years FIFA, 7 years high school). He stopped short of telling us to use the looser application of the law, but urged us to only call offside when we are 100 percent sure.

I sense an unwillingness to implement the full-torso rule. Has there been any definitive interpretation that changes current practice which, I believe, is based on the vertical plain of the bodies in question?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
A new entry in the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (officially released by FIFA on July 1, 2004) makes the point that, in the case of two attackers making a play for the ball, one coming from an onside position and the other coming from an offside position, the assistant referee and referee must hold the offside decision until it is clear that the offside position attacker will prevail. Except for this, however, there has been no change in definition, interpretation, or guidance on offside (Law 11). Referees should continue to apply Law 11 as it has been taught in USSF clinics until and unless they are officially directed otherwise.


“GOLDEN GOAL” [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
I know that a decision was made about “golden goal” situations but have not seen it in writing yet. Officially no more golden goal right?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
FIFA has taken complete control over specifying the proper ways by which a drawn match can be resolved. In the annual Circular regarding Law changes (as reported by USSF in its Memorandum 2004 ‹on the USSF website), the International FA Board announced several changes in the Laws of the Game and in the section of the Laws pertaining to methods for breaking ties. The net result of these changes is that there are now only three permissible options (individually or in combination) for a tied affiliated match to be resolved‹home/away goals, extra time, and kicks from the penalty mark

USSF’s Advice to Referees, however, notes that some local competition authorities may not have gotten the necessary information in time to modify any established procedures so, if you have accepted a game assignment in which the “golden goal” is used, you should go along with it.


PLAYERS AND HYDRATION [ADMIN]
Your question:
What is the current USSF policy on players keeping drinking water bottles near the touchline during a match? Are players allowed to leave the field during stoppage of play to drink water without first asking permission from the referee?

USSF answer (August 7, 2004):
Your questions can be answered by reference to the guidance in the following memorandum (distributed by USSF on April 26, 2002, and available on the USSF website):

The FIFA Medical Committee recently emphasized the importance of proper hydration during a match and the need for water (or other appropriate liquids) to be available to the players. Referees are advised to use the following common sense guidelines in determining the correct ways in which this concern can be implemented. Although the term “water” is used below, the guidelines apply to all liquids that may be provided for player hydration in the immediate area of the field.

Players may drink water during play or at a stoppage but only by going to a touch line or goal line.

While drinking water, players may not leave the field nor may they carry water containers onto the field. The players should stand at the touch line or goal line while drinking water.

Water containers may not be held in readiness where they will interfere with the movement of the assistant referees. After water containers are used, they must be removed so as not to interfere with the movement of the assistant referees.

Under no circumstances may water containers of any sort (regardless of material, size, or construction) be thrown onto the field or to players even during stoppages of play.


WEARING THE BADGE FOR WHAT YEAR? [ADMIN]
Your question:
Your question:
When may a referee who has recertified and received his/her 2005 badge begin wearing it?

For example, a referee upgrades from 7 to 6, meeting all of the requirements for upgrade on September 1, 2004. Should the referee continue to wear his Referee 2004 badge or begin wearing his State Referee 2005 badge or should the referee attempt to get a State Referee 2004 badge for the remainder of the year?

USSF answer (August 6, 2004):
Under normal circumstances, referees are expected to wear the dated USSF badge appropriate for the year (i.e., 2004 in 2004 and 2005 in 2005). However, there may be circumstances in which a badge can be worn prior to the start of the year‹Under normal circumstances, referees are expected to wear the dated USSF badge appropriate for the year (i.e., 2004 in 2004 and 2005 in 2005). However, there may be circumstances in which a badge can be worn prior to the start of the year‹remember, the USSF registration year begins September 1. Accordingly, although a referee might complete all recertification requirements for being a referee in 2005 by, say, October of 2004, he or she would continue to wear their 2004 badge until the end of the year. Suppose this person just became a referee, however, by attending an entry level clinic in October‹they would receive a 2005 badge (because no more 2004 badges can be earned that late in the year) but that doesn’t mean they have to wait until January 1, 2005, before they can officiate.. Accordingly, they could wear a 2005 badge from the time they met all certification requirements through the remainder of 2004, and then through 2005. Remember, the USSF registration year begins September 1. Accordingly, although a referee might complete all recertification requirements for being a referee in 2005 by, say, October of 2004, he or she would continue to wear their 2004 badge until the end of the year. Suppose this person just became a referee, however, by attending an entry level clinic in October‹they would receive a 2005 badge (because no more 2004 badges can be earned that late in the year) but that doesn’t mean they have to wait until January 1, 2005, before they can officiate.. Accordingly, they could wear a 2005 badge from the time they met all certification requirements through the remainder of 2004, and then through 2005.

The principle remains the same. If the referee qualifies for a 2005 badge and receives the badge, regardless of the grade, then the badge may be worn beginning immediately, even if it is still 2004. Wear the State Referee 2005 badge proudly.


SCREENING THE BALL [LAW 12]
Your question:
A couple of referee friends seem to be getting themselves all agitated and confused by a section of the Additional Instructions covering “Screening the Ball” (page 73 of 84 in LOTG. Although I know it was in the 2003-04 book, I can’t remember seeing it before.

The writers introduce the term “screening” to describe what I would normally refer to a shielding (in either coach-or referee-speak). I found it interesting that we now appear to have the 11th reason to award a Direct Free Kick‹the first ten being detailed in Law 12. This section seems to imply that the “illegal use of the hand, arm, legs or body”; is similar to contact with the opponent‹or the recommended restart would not have to be a direct free kick. I assume that the action must be on the field, while the ball is in play, and directed against an opponent‹the standard requirements for a direct free kick.

I view impeding as “not normally involving contact.” When the offense begins to involve contact, it transitions from “impeding” to “holding.” Is that what they’re trying to say?

I think I had a better understanding of this BEFORE the introduction of this section. Do you know why this “clarification” (?) was introduced. Your opinion please. THANKS!

USSF answer (August 5, 2004):
Although we would not care to speculate as to FIFA’s intentions in the absence of some specific statement from that organization explaining the why and wherefore of their actions, you likely have penetrated the mystery. The purpose of this section of Additional Instructions appears to be to say that screening (shielding) is legal so long as certain conditions are met, one of which is that the screener cannot accomplish the screening by extending his arms (and presumably, by inference, his leg as well) to prevent the screenee from going around. If the screener does so, a direct free kick foul has been committed (or a PK if inside the screener’s penalty area) for holding.

The exact same provision can be found in the 2003-2004 and 2002-2003 Laws of the Game. The reason you can’t find it in earlier versions of the Laws is that FIFA stopped publishing the Additional Instructions section after the 1997 version of the Laws and only reinstituted it in 2002-2003. By the way, the same principle (using somewhat different language) can also be found in the 1997 version.


QUIZZES ON THE LAWS
Your question:
I have been searching for quizzes on the Laws of the Game, but cannot find any at all. Do you know if there is a place where I could get some referee quiz information, so that I can test my knowledge? Also, is there any technical quizzes at the Advance Level that are available too? Please send me the links because I would like to test my knowledge on a more flexible level.

USSF answer (August 5, 2004): Most instructors, referee associations, and related groups make up their own quizzes, depending on the training needs of the moment. You might also want to check out REFEREE magazine. Each month’s issue has soccer case plays plus a Laws quiz of 5-6 questions (answers are also provided based on the three major sets of rules‹FIFA, high school, and college). The magazine also has a longer quiz available on its website (http://www.referee.com)‹you have to supply some information so they can try to convince you to subscribe‹but the site allows you to download a PDF of a soccer quiz, plus you can research back issues for the shorter quizzes.

Finally, you can go to the USSF website, Referee page, and download Advice to Referees because, at the back of this publication, there is a sort of quiz‹it’s called a syllabus and it features questions which are answered by reading the material in Advice.

Aside from this, however, you might try creating your own quizzes. Sometimes that is an excellent way to teach yourself something.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION [LAW 12]
Your question:
I was just reading through the FIFA Q& A for 2004 and I have come upon 2 points which interest me and also confuse me to some degree.

According the the document: Law 12 21. If a goalkeeper is bouncing the ball, may an opponent play the ball as it touches the ground, provided he is not guilty of dangerous play?
Yes

22. After taking possession of the ball, a goalkeeper allows it to lie on his open hand. An opponent comes from behind him and heads the ball from his hand. Is this permitted?
This is permitted since the goalkeeper does not have full possession of the ball and the action of the opponent is not dangerous.

When I read ATR 12.16 and 12.17 I would have to interpret different things regarding such challenges for possession with the GK. I’m slightly surprised that FIFA would interpret the law in this way, but I can see it coming as part of their emphasis on supporting attacking soccer. My question is, what should we referee’s in the USA do regarding this tweak in interpretation. I’m assuming the USSF will be coming out with a revision to ATR or a position paper eventually) Until, something does come out, should we be enforcing the law in the way the ATR notes, or the way the Q&A notes? Thank you for any advice you can offer.

USSF answer (August 4, 2004):
We are pleased to see that you are keeping up with more than just The Laws of The Game. FIFA’s Questions and Answers is an important document which has been used in the past to announce important changes in how to interpret various aspects of the Law. You have pointed to two of them (and there are others in the new version of the Q&A. Since FIFA officially published this on July 1, it becomes effective immediately world-wide and we are all obliged to officiate in accordance with our understanding of its guidelines. USSF is in the process of seeking clarification from FIFA regarding several of the new interpretations and, when we are clear about them, it is likely that there will be an announcement to assist referees in understanding what is new in the 2004 version. Where this means changes in Advice to Referees, we will include that information as well.

Meanwhile, our understanding of the provisions you have identified is that the ball is playable by an opponent at the moment the ball hits the ground (but not on the way down or while bouncing back up to the goalkeeper‹in other words, while the goalkeeper is in the process of actively distributing the ball) and it is playable by an opponent attempting to head it if the ball is being held in the open, outstretched hand of the goalkeeper. However, in either case, the opponent’s action must not be dangerous, and this becomes a critical factor for the referee to determine based on the age and skill level of the players.


BALL MEASUREMENTS [LAW 2]
Your question:
What is the correct measurement for a size 4 soccer ball?

USSF answer (August 3, 2004):
A size 4 ball is 25-26 inches in circumference (size 3 is 23-24 inches, size 5 is 27-28 inches.


RESTARTS FOR CAUTIONS AND SEND-OFFS [LAW 12]
Your question:
My son insists that the only remedy for any and all of the7 Cautionable and 7 Sending-off offenses is a Direct Kick (awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the infraction) regardless of where the ball is.

Is he correct?

USSF answer (August 2, 2004):
No. Cautions and send-offs are misconduct and, unless the misconduct also involves a foul, there are only two possible restarts if play is stopped solely for misconduct‹an indirect free kick at the site of the misconduct if the misconduct was committed on the field of play by a player, or a dropped ball where the ball was if the misconduct was committed by a substitute anywhere or by a player off the field. Of course, if the misconduct is committed during a stoppage of play, there is no separate restart; it would be whatever restart is appropriate for what stopped play originally. If the misconduct involves a foul (for example, serious foul play), then the foul determines the restart.


WRITING UP A CAUTION [LAW 12]
Your question:
I’m seeking technical guidance on reporting a caution. I get inconsistent answers from referees and we all know the severity of the described situation has inconsistent treatment among different cultural climates. Here’s the situation. . . . player makes a “high foot” tackle that referee interprets asnot severe enough for a send-off, (i.e. not serious foul play), but is never-the-less dangerous and careless enough to warrant a caution. Therefore, referee calls dangerous play, (IFK restart), and issues caution to player. Under the 7+7 caution/send-off guidelines, what is the correct REASON for the caution, since the referee did not a DFK foul?

Here’s a sampling of the responses I’ve gotten to this question using the “7+7 guidelines”
– Make something up; not very good, but probably the most honest answer. (i.e. don’t write “high foot” as the reason in your report.)
– Do your best to make it a direct free kick foul (e.g. kicking, jumping or tripping)
– IF in a pattern of foul play, sanction a persistent infringement instead of unsporting behavior.

Playing in a manner outside of spirit of laws or in manner bringing disrepute to game (can’t remember the exact wording, but it’s the fourth or fifth reason under unsporting behavior in the 7+7 caution/send-off guidelines.)

USSF answer (August 2, 2004):
When in doubt, report the caution as having been given for unsporting behavior. In this case, unsporting behavior would clearly be the correct choice. Do not, I repeat, do not engage in ANY of the first three options under your P.S. Never make anything up, never give “high kick” as the reason for anything, never “do your best to make it a direct free kick foul” and choose persistent infringement only if in fact the foul was part of a pattern of offenses.

Only the last option under your PS offers any reasonable basis for the caution but, fortunately, game reports do not require you to provide anything more than the official, by the Law, black-and-white reason for a caution (i.e., one of the seven cautionable offenses). By the way, the “bringing the game into disrepute” has been clarified as “demonstrating a lack of respect for the game” but you also could, should you decide to offer a more detailed reason under USB, state that it was a tactical foul intended to break up attacking play.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
Teammates A1 and A2, Teammates B1 and B2. A1 plays the ball to A2, who is onside at the time the ball is kicked and making a diagonal-forward run. As the ball is traveling in the air, it deflects off of defender B1, at which moment A2 is now beyond the second-to-last defender, B2. The assistant referee flagged the offside, which was whistled by the referee. The call was offside, and the commentator explained that it was because of the deflection and the position of A2 at the time of the deflection. However, B1 is the opponent to A2. I would have NOT called the offside.

USSF answer (August 1, 2004):
The call was improper using the facts as supplied. The offside decision is made at the time the ball is last played by an attacker and is based on the positions and actions of all players at that time. If A2 was in an onside position at the time the ball was struck to him by his teammate, then he was onside no matter where anyone moved or the ball moved subsequently, so long as it remained the same play. The deflection by a defender is not only not relevant but, if it had been an actual play of the ball rather than a deflection, A2 would still have not been guilty of offside because then A2 would have received the ball from a defender rather than from his teammate.

One must always beware commentators pontificating on offside.

And a follow-on question:
Oh, I am definitely aware of “omniscient commentators.” You know, I have often thought of becoming one, just so I can be a better educator of football to the “lay audience.” It is a shame the call was made and acknowledged because it probably would have been a goal. Anyway, an afterthought . . . What if the ball incidentally deflected off a TEAMMATE of A2, instead of a defender?

And the follow-on answer: If the ball, in the setup described, had deflected from a teammate, then A2 would have been in an offside position because Law 11 makes no distinction in the case of attackers between touch and play. A2 would be called for offside if he then became involved in active play.


GOALKEEPER “HANDLING” [LAW 12]
Your question:
Question: If a goalkeeper comes to the edge of the penalty area with his feet within the box and reaches outside the box to handle or collect a ball, what is the call? When can the GK handle the ball in terms of the penalty area?:
(1) when his feet are within the penalty area
(2) when the ball is within the penalty area (how is this defined?)
(3) both his feet and the ball are within the penalty area
This does not seem to be defined in the laws of the game.

USSF answer (August 1, 2004):
Handling occurs where handling occurs. In other words, the handling offense doesn’t involve the keeper’s feet so we really don’t care where the keeper’s feet are. The only issue in whether handling occurs is where the keeper’s hands make contact with the ball‹everything else is irrelevant. Of course, the referee must also remember that “constant whistling for doubtful or trifling breaches of the Law” is to be avoided, which means that you need to be sure where the hands and ball make contact. Also remember that the lines surrounding the penalty area are part of the penalty area.

These elements have always been defined clearly in the Laws of the Game.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
Here are two brain teasers, mostly with respect to the referee and assistant referee mechanics.
Situation 1: Player A, in an offside position, runs the ball that has been played forward; runs over the ball without making contact with the ball; Player B, coming from an onside position, immediately kicks the ball into the goal. Is Player A offside? Is the goal disallowed? What are the correct referee and assistant referee mechanics?

Situation 2: Player A, in an offside position, attempts a bicycle kick on a ball that is lofted forward but completely misses the ball. Player B, coming from an onside position immediately kicks the ball into the goal. Is Player A offside? Is the goal disallowed? What are the correct referee and assistant referee mechanics?

USSF answer (August 1, 2004):
If Situation A had arisen in a USSF match (we cannot comment on situations governed by high school rules), it would be affected by the following guidance from FIFA (included under Law 11 in its just published Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game):
A player in offside position but not interfering with any opponent runs towards the ball played by a team-mate. Must the referee wait until he touches the ball to penalise him?
No, the referee may penalise him if there is not other team-mate (in an onside position) who can play the ball.
If there are other team-mates (in an onside position) who can get the ball, the referee must wait and see if the player in offside position finally interferes with play by touching the ball

As for Situation B, the answer seems obvious. The fact that Player A missed connecting with the ball is irrelevant‹his attempt to play the ball in such close proximity clearly constitutes “interfering with play” and, since this was done from an offside position, the player must surely be penalized. Needless to say, it also means that the goal is nullified since it occurred after the decision was made to penalize for offside.

The mechanics in Situation A are indicated by FIFA’s guidance. Both the AR and the referee must wait until it is clear whether the attacker coming from the offside position will prevail over his teammate coming from an onside position. If and when that becomes clear, both officials follow the usual mechanics suggested in the Guide to Procedures. In situation B, the usual mechanics in the Guide to Procedures should be followed‹when Player A performed his attempted kick, the AR’s flag should go up and, upon making eye contact, the referee should stop play.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
I have a FIFA and high school patch. At a recent FIFA meeting for referees, we were told that a push is being made at the national level to loosen up on offside. I.E. a torso ahead is OK at the national level and soon will be OK for us locally, with the prediction that in a few years daylight between the offensive player (ahead) and defensive player will be the rule. However, for now, we were told not to change how we apply the law.

At at more recent high school meeting, we were told the same thing by a state referee official who administers both patches (21 years FIFA, 7 years high school). He stopped short of telling us to use the looser application of the law, but urged us to only call offside when we are 100 percent sure. I sense an unwillingness to implement the full-torso rule. Has there been any definitive interpretation that changes current practice which, I believe, is based on the vertical plane of the bodies in question.

USSF answer (July 31, 2004):
A new entry in the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (officially released by FIFA on July 1, 2004) makes the point that, in the case of two attackers making a play for the ball with one coming from an onside position and one coming from an offside position, the assistant referee and referee must hold the offside decision until it is clear that the offside position attacker will prevail.

With that exception, there has been no change in definition, interpretation, or guidance on offside (Law 11). Referees should continue to apply Law 11 as it has been taught in USSF clinics until and unless they are officially directed otherwise.


MANDATORY CAUTIONS
Your question:
Could you please tell me if there is a list of the eight mandatory cautions?

USSF answer (July 31, 2004):
Yes, there is, and please find attached a copy (it is the “7+7” Memorandum — the mandatory cautions are in bold type). However, as a result of this year’s Law changes, there are now NINE mandatory cautions — the newest one being for unsporting behavior if a player removes his jersey to celebrate a goal.


ABUSING THE LAWS OF THE GAME [LAW 3]
Your question:
In a state cup championship match, one team is leading by one goal with three minutes left in regulation time. The team decides to substitute one of their players off (this player happens to already have one yellow card this game). As the player’s name is called, he starts to jog over from the opposite side of the field. After three or four steps, he starts limping, like he came up lame. He takes over a minute to limp across the field before finally exiting the field (note that I had not waved the other player on yet). The other team notices his actions and were yelling at me about time wasting. Once he leaves the field, the substitute enters (without me beckoning him on) and the substituted player then resumes a jog to his bench and even laughs at the other team, proud of his time wasting efforts. In the game, I added the *FULL* amount of time this player had wasted to the end of the half and informed both teams that I was doing so, but I did not give him a second caution. In retrospect, his actions (faking an injury) brought the game into disrepute, were clearly unsporting and antagonistic, and were completely unjustifiable. I think that I should have given him a second caution which would have forced him to miss the first game at Regionals. I’d like your thoughts on that, but more so I would like a second question to be answered. Throughout the game I had allowed substitutes to enter the field as soon as the player they were replacing was completely off the pitch, without an extra signal to beckon them on. Given that context, if I had cautioned and sent off the player, how many men would the team have played with? The unsporting behavior which would have resulted in the caution occurred while he was a player, but the caution would not have been shown until after he had been replaced (since I couldn’t know for sure he was faking until he left the pitch and jogged to his bench). I could make an argument that I had never beckoned the substitute onto the field and so no legal substitution had occurred (but this contradicts the previous substitutions…as a side note then I’d have to caution the substitute for illegal entry as well) and therefore the team must play with 10 men. If I admit that a substitution did occur, can I still make the team play with 10 men and remove the substitute since the caution was given as soon it possibly could in good faith and was the result of actions taken while he was a player and not a substituted player, or must I let the substitute stay in the game and the team play at full strength?

USSF answer (July 30, 2004):
Your questions illustrate very well why the substitution procedures set forth in the Laws of the Game should not be bypassed or ignored and what kinds of problems can be created when they are. That said, you are raising difficult issues of game management which cannot be resolved by someone who wasn’t there.

The most important issue to keep in mind regarding cards is whether a card is the proper tool at this particular time for this particular player. The issue becomes critical when it is a second caution that is being considered. No referee should ever decide to give or not give a card based on the consequences for some future game by that team (i.e., “miss the first game at Regionals”). Such decisions must be made here and now with the facts at hand.

Consider this. You successfully blunted the impact of the player’s behavior by restoring to the opposing team any time lost to them. What would have been gained, aside from satisfying a sense of outrage over a lack of sportsmanship, by giving the caution and then being forced as a result to give a red card?

And a follow-on question:
Thanks for your answer. The question actually raised a more general question in my mind, so hopefully you can humor me with a follow up question. So, in this match I was using what I consider to be the correct substitution procedure by having the substitute enter at the intersection of the touch and half lines after the player being replaced had completely left the pitch…in my question I merely meant that I hadn’t given an additional signal after the player had completely left the field that the substitute could now enter; I let them automatically enter as soon as the other player had left (is this correct or do I need an additional signal to the substitute that they can now enter). Anyway, the more general question I have is this: assume the player had committed a cautionable or sending-off offense behind my back and the ball immediately went into touch and I noticed his team wanted to substitute, so I initiated the substitution (told the sub to call him off and the player ran off and then the sub ran on after he had completely left). As the player is running off to be subbed, I noticed AR2’s flag is up, I jog over (backpedaling of course!) and ask what he saw. He tells me to issue a second caution or send off to the player who now has made it all the way off and the sub has come on. After administering the send-off, can I force the team to play short since the misconduct occurred while he was a player? My gut tells me no, but my sense of fairness tells me he should. I doubt this will ever happen since I always look for both ARs’ possible signals before looking for a substitution, but you never know in the heat of battle what may happen.

With the follow-on answer:
First, your substitution procedure was not correct. The permission of the referee must be given in order for a substitute to enter the field after the player he is substituting for has left. Whatever other changes you might make to the procedure (and referees routinely make many, often in the interests of “keeping things going”), don’t drop giving permission for the substitute to enter the field. However, your actions established a de facto indication of permission on which the players came to rely and it would be manifestly unfair to surprise some unlucky substitute for doing what you have allowed all game long.

Second, all cards are given for specific acts. If the act was committed while the perpetrator was a player and the card is red, the player sent off cannot be replaced, even if, by the time you actually send him off, he may have left the field.

Third, before allowing substitutions, it is always a good idea (as it would have been in your situation below and as you acknowledged) to make eye contact with your ARs first.

Fourth, we are not sure I understand why your gut is warring with your sense of fairness. Ours are usually in complete agreement.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
The following happened recently in a tournament playoff match. Team A and Team B were tied at the end of overtime and so the match went to a shootout. It went all the way to the eighth kickers for each team. Team A’s eighth kicker scored, Team B’s kicker missed. It was then discovered that Team A’s eighth kicker was not one of the 11 players for Team A on the field at the end of overtime. The referee allowed the kick by the eighth kicker to stand, thus allowing Team A to win and advance in the playoffs, but also gave Team A’s eighth kicker a yellow card.

Of course, the referee should have been keeping better track of the players, but since he wasn’t, was his way of handling it correct? Is there any way that the kick by Team A’s eighth kicker could be disallowed? Would it matter if the ineligibility of the player was discovered immediately after his successful kick rather than not until after Team B’s eighth kicker missed?

USSF answer (July 30, 2004):
The rules governing kicks from the penalty mark to decide a tied match specifically state that, except as modified for this procedures, all other applicable Laws of the Game apply. So, the question becomes, what would the referee do if something comparable had happened during play in the match? If a goal was scored and the problem with team who scored the goal (e.g., extra player) was not discovered until after play had restarted, the goal would stand. If it was discovered before play restarted, the goal would not stand.

Here, the