Per the laws of the game a substitute may not enter the field until the player being replaced has left and the referee has beckoned the sub onto the field. What if anything should the referee do if the player currently on the field refuses to leave? i.e. sub reports to halfway, notifies AR that he wants to replace player #10 at the next opportunity. At next stoppage referee holds up the game to allow the substitution to take place but when called off the field #10 refuses to go off.USSF answer (March 13, 2007):
The referee has no authority to make the player leave if he or she does not wish to be substituted–see the IFAB/FIFA Q&A. That is a problem for the team officials. The referee must simply enforce the Laws of the Game correctly, but could exercise the proactive approach by asking the captain to assist in removing the player who has been substituted out.

This situation becomes a problem for the referee only if he or she has already allowed the substitute/new player to enter before the former player has left the field. That would make the substitution valid and present the referee with a headache in trying to clear up the mess. By allowing the substitute to enter the field before the player has left, the referee opens a can of worms that can never be returned to the can. Now the (former) player, if he or she refuses to leave, is guilty of misconduct. This means lots of paperwork for the referee, always a bad thing. Much better to enforce the Laws, in this case the requirements of Law 3 for a valid substitution.


A question has come up regard the re-start in the following scenario: While play is in the attacking end of the field in the Referee’s quadrant, the trail A/R’s attention is drawn to two opposing players near mid-field who are verbally challenging each other. Fearing that the verbal jousting will escalate into a physical confrontation, the trail A/R draws the attention of the Referee. The Referee, seeing the signal and look of concern on the face of the A/R, stops play.The A/R indicates that both players should be cautioned for Unsporting Behavior, but he is uncertain which player started the trouble.

Since play was stopped only to deal with the misconduct and it is uncertain which player started it and which player retaliated, how should the game be re-started?

USSF answer (March 12, 2007):
The assistant referee, particularly the trail AR, should never interrupt the referee’s concentration on active play unless a major infringement of the Laws has occurred. The AR should note the player’s players’ numbers, their actions, and anything else that will help the referee make a proper decision. The AR should not signal for “non-events” until the next stoppage–unless the incident escalates into something that cannot be stopped. In addition, the AR should speak to the players involved, attempting to defuse the situation so that it does not escalate.

In this particular case, in which the AR has interfered in the game and cannot supply the necessary information, the referee must decide how to restart. While FIFA has recently stated that, in such a situation, a dropped ball may be used to restart play (2006 Q&A 5.14), this should be used only as a last resort when the referee is completely unable to determine whose ball it should be. The dropped ball is the easy way to solve that problem, but referees are expected to MAKE A DECISION and not rely on the easy catch-all of the dropped ball. The referee should choose which team to punish. This is made particularly easy for him or her because the incident occurred “near mid-field” and thus will not create an immediate goalscoring opportunity.


What do you think about sticky stuff on the goalkeeper’s gloves? I believe it is covered on throw in and the players using the ribbed gloves, but I have not had anything come up on goalkeepers. My gut-feel is that it is unsporting behavior.USSF answer (March 12, 2007):
The goalkeeper is allowed certain exceptions in the equipment he or she is permitted to wear. These exceptions for the goalkeeper are designed strictly for protection of the goalkeeper, who is often expected to dive quickly to the ground. Law 4 is meant to ensure player safety, not player superiority through artificial means. There is no provision for the goalkeeper or any other player to wear artificial aids to enhance their ability to play. Therefore tacky substances on the hands or “sticky” gloves are illegal equipment and, if used, constitute unsporting behavior for which a caution should be given. The offending substance must be removed and offending gloves may be replaced by others that are not “doctored.”


I know the referee’s shoes should be black and the white brand logo is allowed. Is there any other part of the shoe that could be a different color like the top heel area, or does the entire shoe have to be completely black. Can a the cleat be mostly black, but have white areas?USSF answer (March 8, 2007):
Traditionally, referee shoes were all black, in keeping with the original referee uniform which was also almost all black. Referees should select their shoes with an eye for both utility and appearance. The referee has to run on the field with at least as much speed and agility as does a player and so the shoes should enable them to do this under all field conditions. Players, team officials, and spectators often make initial judgments about the skills and knowledge of the referee based on appearance, and shoes can contribute significantly toward building that reserve of confidence. It is also occasionally important that players, who are frequently looking down at the ground, be able to identify the referee quickly by differences in the shoes. Accordingly, the referee’s shoes should be predominantly black, clean, polished, and neatly tied. Small manufacturer’s logos in white or a color that does not attract too much attention are acceptable. Designs and colors which unnecessarily call attention to the referee are strongly discouraged. In addition, all referees on any particular game should strive to make their dress, including shoes, as uniform as possible. Finally, referees must also consider any requirements for equipment established by the competitions in which they officiate, e. g., the professional leagues. As referees find themselves officiating more competitive matches, these guidelines become more important.


I have one question? I was holding an entry level class and a student asked about the following. One cannot be offside if they receive a ball directly from a goal kick,even if they are about 25 yards from the opponents goal, but one can be offside if there was a DFK from the 19 yard line and the opponents tried for an offside trap. A person was asking for the rationale behind it. I could only reply that the law provided for one but not the other, but not a reason why. Can you help me?USSF answer (March 7, 2007):
There is no known documentation regarding the reason for this exemption of the goal kick (or of the throw-in or corner kick). These exemptions were installed in the Laws in the 1880s. One possibility is that these exemptions have in common a method of putting the ball into play after it has passed beyond the boundary lines. In other words, a technical procedure. Another possibility is that it was an early attempt to increase goalscoring possibilities. Yet a third possibility is that it would be extremely rare for a goal to be scored directly from a goal kick, although that possibility now exists with the changes in the Laws of 1997.


I am the president of a soccer club that plays its matches in [a state association]. Yesterday, one of our players received a yellow card for unsporting behavior after the final whistle had blown for the match to be completed. The player was upset at the frequent calling of “unjustified” offsides, and left the pitch without permission in the closing seconds.Is it legitimate for a referee to issue cards after a match?

USSF answer (February 28, 2007):
Yes, it is, provided that the teams have not completely left the field. Here are the instructions we give our referees, taken from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

Misconduct committed by a player or a substitute prior to the start of the match, during the match, during breaks between playing periods is subject to a formal caution or a send-off, as appropriate. Yellow and red cards, which are now mandatory indications of cautions and send-offs, may be shown only for misconduct committed by players, substitutes, or substituted players during a match. “During a match” includes:
(a) 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;
(b) any periods in which play is temporarily stopped;
(c) half time or similar breaks in play;
(d) required overtime periods;
(e) kicks from the penalty mark if this procedure is used in case a winner must be determined.
(f) the period of time immediately following the end of play during which the players and substitutes are physically on the field but in the process of exiting.
Postgame: Any misconduct committed by players or substitutes after the field has been cleared must be described in the game report and reported to the competition authority. Since such misconduct cannot result in a formal caution or send-off, no card may be displayed. Referees are advised to avoid remaining in the area of the field unnecessarily.

The fact that the player left the field of play without permission before the match warranted a caution, as the match had not yet been completed. The referee’s action was within the requirements of the Law.


situation 1: an attacker was moving toward the goal with the ball. the goalkeeper was way out of his goal area and a defender tripped and fell, leaving the goal open to the attacker. a substitute who was warming up near the goal ran on to the field without my permission and tripped the attacker who was getting ready to shoot on goal as the defender tripped and fell. i didn’t know what to do, so i cautioned the substitute and gave the goalkeeper’s team an indirect free kick.what should i have done? i know the 2006 Law says we can send off substitutes or substituted players for all 7 of the reasons listed in Law 12, but i am not sure. some referees said i did it right, but others say i should have sent him off. can we really send off substitutes who enter the field illegally and prevent goals?

a second question: what should i do if the substitute or substituted player enters the field without my permission and then simply kicks the ball away, rather than tripping the opponent or committing any other foul?

USSF answer (February 23, 2007):
1. The 2006 changes in Law 3 and Law 12 regarding substitutes or substituted players who illegally enter the field were dealt with in the 2006 edition of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” (see, for example, the many rewritten entries under Law 3). Unfortunately, the 2006 edition of the Advice does not cover the question about whether a substitute who has entered the field illegally can be sent off if, while on the field and before play is stopped for the illegal entry, he or she handles the ball to prevent a goal or commits any other action which, in the opinion of the referee, interferes with an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.

The answer is yes: A substitute or substituted player can be sent off and shown the red card for any action which, if it had been committed by a player, would have resulted in the player being sent off for either the 4th or the 5th send-off reason listed in Law 12. Just as with players, all elements of the decision to send someone off for either of these reasons are governed by Section D of Law 12 in Advice to Referees and apply to substitutes and substituted players as well as to players.

2. In this second question, the solution for simply kicking the ball by the “invading” substitute or substituted player would be two cautions followed by the send-off for the second caution: one caution for unsporting behavior for entering the field without permission and the second for unsporting behavior for kicking the ball away from the opponent. You would then restart the match with an indirect free kick where the ball was when the substitute illegally entered the field (the first misconduct).


During live play, a GK punts the ball straight up in the air. A strong wind blows the ball toward the goal. The GK touches the ball but it ends up in the goal. Is this a second touch violation or is advantage applied and a goal allowed? (I know this is covered in Advice to Referees in regard to goal kicks taken by a goalkeeper but I see no reference to this particular scenario.)USSF answer (February 21, 2007):
The correct restart would be a kick-off. In touching the ball again, the goalkeeper has violated Law 12 and the referee may apply the advantage. In the case of the goal kick, the goalkeeper would be violating Law 16, in which case the referee may not apply the advantage.


I have a question about PK’s that were taken at a local sanctioned tournament. The situation was that two teams were tied after preliminary rounds of matches. All tie breakers were the same, so it came down to PK’s. The opposing team told the refs that they were going to us two keepers for the PK’s. The coach for our team questioned the ref about this and was told that he wasn’t sure if it was legal but he didn’t have time to find out so he allowed it. My question is this legal? The rotation of the keepers did not change the outcome, but I would like to know for myself.USSF answer (February 20, 2007):
As long as both players who will be exchanging turns at goalkeeper for the team were both on the field at the end of the game, this is perfectly legal. The Laws of the Game permit a field player to exchange positions with the goalkeeper, as long as the referee is notified; this would also apply to kicks from the penalty mark.


A defending player (red) kicks the ball away from the goal line past the goalkeeper (red) who has his back to the kicker and could not have seen how the ball was propelled past him. Goalkeeper sees the ball as it travels within 2-3 feet of him and, in the penalty area, picks it up with his hands. Same scenario but the ball initially goes no less than than 7-8 feet from the goalkeeper yet the goalkeeper chases the ball and in the penalty area picks it up with his hands.In either case should the referee stop play and award an indirect free kick to white? Is the determination of an infraction founded in the referee’s opinion of whether or not the kicker was deliberately kicking the ball to the goalkeeper or that the kicker deliberately kicked the ball and it happened to go close enough for the goalkeeper to handle it?

USSF answer (February 12, 2007):
As stated in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” the decision to punish this possible infringement of the Laws is always in the opinion of the referee.