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

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

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

2006 Part 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This involves aÊU 13 Rec league semi final game?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please clarify who was correct.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2006 Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you set the record straight on this one?

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

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

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

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

Tell your dissenting colleagues to get a life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Specifically, is a referee allowed to make comments like ‘this is going to cost you $2 for my time’ when the game is stopped to allow a player to do up their shoe laces? At the time of a player substitution comments are made like ‘I will take onions and tomatoes with this sub’.…

2006 Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your advice on this situation would be very much appreciated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me know the official response please.

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

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

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

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

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

Any info would be appreciated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your answers:
1. See above.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USSF answer (May 20, 2006):
One of the hardest rules in refereeing is that once you accept the assignment, you have to follow the rules of the competition, no matter how much they may differ from the Laws of the Game. A good rule is to know what the rules are before accepting the assignment.

Referees should prevent unnecessary delays due to the substitution process. One source of delay is a request for a substitution that occurs just as a player starts to put the ball back into play. This often (incorrectly) results in the restart being called back and retaken. Another common source of delay is a substitute player who is not prepared to take the field when the request to substitute is made. In each case, the referee should order play to be restarted despite the request and inform the coach that the substitution can be made at the next opportunity.

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

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

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

The player faking the injury was cautioned.

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

Your question:
In a recent U-19 Boys game, following a goal scored on keeper A, keeper A removed his jersey and left the field. Another player then put on the jersey and assumed the keeper’s position. Although this is a bigger issue for the coach, are the potential cautions to be issued 1) unsporting behavior for removing the jersey; 2) unsporting behavior for changing keepers without notifying the referee (both Keeper A and the player that assumed the position); and 3) leaving the field without permission?…

2006 Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any guidance from you would be greatly appreciated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the appropriate extract from page 36 of the Referee Administrative Handbook (2005 edition):
Systems of Officiating Outdoor Soccer Games
The Laws of the Game recognize only one system for officiating soccer games, namely the diagonal system of control (DSC),consisting of three officials – one referee and two assistant referees. All competitions sanctioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation require the use of this officiating system. (Certain competitions will use a 4th Official.) In order to comply with the Laws of the Game which have been adopted by the National Council of US Soccer, all soccer games sanctioned directly or indirectly by member organizations of the U. S. Soccer Federation must employ the diagonal system. As a matter of policy, the US Soccer Referee Committee prefers the following alternatives in order of preference:

2005 Part 4

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Your question:
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.”

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Your question:
During the second half of a game referee issues red card to coach.…

2005 Part 3

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?

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.

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.

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.

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!).

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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
* the ball is stationary on the center mark
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward

Law 13
Types of Free Kicks
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
Position of the Ball and the Players
The ball:
* is placed on the penalty mark

Law 16
* the ball is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team
[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
* 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]
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves

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).

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

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.

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.

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:
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

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.

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.…

2005 Part 2

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.

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.

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.

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. .

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. ).

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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):

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.…

2005 Part 1

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.]

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.

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.

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.

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.…

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.…