On rare occasions, a Referee commits the grievous error of not sending a player off after a second Caution. If the Referee realizes his or her error later in the match, I understand that the Referee is to go ahead and issue the Send-Off. But the situation seems to be really messy, because the officials must now deal with some complications not addressed by the Laws. I’m interested to know if USSF has any guidance on these kinds of questions:What is the status of either team’s achievements and actions during the Interval between the second Caution and the eventual Send-Off? Do all goals scored in the Interval still count? Is the twice-cautioned person still considered to be a player during the Interval? If his or her player status has changed, does that affect rulings on fouls or misconduct committed against him or her during the Interval? If either team’s achievements or errors during that Interval are canceled, does the Referee add time to compensate for what is, effectively, lost playing time?

You know, the more I think about this situation, the less I want to ever stumble into it.

USSF answer (March 28, 2007):
The answer to the first question follows from the rest.
No answer necessary.

And we agree: It should never happen, which is why all referees and ARs should keep good notes.…


I’m in a Ref class right now! What is the proper attire I need. I need Specific things (example: 3 white stripes on black socks)USSF answer (March 25, 2007):
We are amazed that the instructors have not given you the requirements for the referee uniform. That is part of the curriculum for the course.

Nevertheless, here they are, as stated in the Referee Administrative Handbook, 2006-2007, p. 34:
Standards of Dress and Appearance
Official United States Soccer Federation
Referee Uniform
GOLD SHIRT with black pinstripes (long or short sleeve)
ONE BADGE ONLY: UNITED STATES SOCCER FEDERATION Ð WITH CURRENT YEAR (Securely fastened to shirt over left chest. The badge should be for the highest grade for which the referee is currently qualified)
BLACK CUFF (on long sleeve shirt only)
(no cuffs on short sleeves)
BLACK SHORTS: Bottom edge of shorts not less than 3 nor more than 7 inches above the top of the knee-cap.
BLACK SOCKS with Federation referee crest or three stripe white top
BLACK SHOES (may have white manufacturers design) with black laces
Alternate Referee Uniforms
The following three shirts have been approved by the federation as alternates that can be worn in case of color conflict. There is no order of preference among the alternate jerseys. The other parts of the referee uniform (shorts, socks, shoes) do not change if the referee wears an alternate shirt.
BLACK SHIRT with white pinstripes, BLACK COLLAR, and BLACK CUFFS (on long sleeve shirts only).
RED SHIRT with black pinstripes, BLACK COLLAR, and BLACK CUFFS (on long sleeve shirts only).
BLUE SHIRT with black pinstripes, BLACK COLLAR, and BLACK CUFFS (on long sleeve shirts only).
Logos, Emblems and Badges: Only manufacturer’s logos and U.S. Soccer approved badges and/or emblems may be visible on the referee uniform.…


When reffing an under 6 and under 8 match, who has the kickoff the 2nd and 4th quarter?USSF answer (March 22, 2007):
USYS rules are silent on the matter of a specific restart, noting only that (small-sided) teams at these ages play quarters of equal time, 8 minutes for U6 and 12 minutes for U8. Many leagues do not treat the quarter as equivalent to a half i.e., there is no specific restart because the instructions are simply to stop play (or use a convenient existing stoppage) near the quarter time mark. If the referee stopped play, the restart would be a dropped ball, otherwise it would be based on whatever else stopped play.

If you wish a definitive answer, you might check with the competition in which you play or officiate.…


On another site, I found this “debate” and the subsequent answer by FIFA. But it seems that it is a “cart-before-the-horse” answer and may need to be further discussed. As an Instructor, I want to be clear on the proper interpretation.The question was: “Law 14 states that the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward. Therefore, if the ball is kicked backward or sideways, the ball is not in play and so a free-kick cannot be awarded. I have checked back as far as FIFA Q&A 1990, and until Q&A of 2005, it was always stated that the kick is retaken. From Q&A 2005 it states that an Indirect Free Kick is awarded. Would you kindly give further consideration to this question and advise me?”

Response from FIFA Referees Dept was: “Thank you very much for sending us your question. Regarding your question we would like to clarify the following:
As stated in Law 14-The penalty kick: If the referee gives the signal for a penalty kick to be taken and, before the ball is in play, one of the following situations occurs: The player taking the penalty kick infringes the Laws of the Game: (this is the case). The referee allows the kick to proceed. If the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restart the match with an indirect free kick…

We hope this response can clarify your question. If you have any doubt or any further question, please do not hesitate to contact us.”

My understanding, kicking the ball forward is how the ball is put back into play and isÊnot an ‘infringement’ like those in other section of Law 14 (such as encroachment, position, etc.) which would carry an IFK award. To say it is to be considered part of the IFK restarts means that the restart of a PK takes a ‘back seat’ to the infringements. ÊBut if the infringements can only occur AFTER the ball is kicked, since the law tells us that the kick is allowed to proceed BEFORE we make out decision (the ‘analysis’ past of Law 14), would this not be a re-take? If no, then is every bad kick (other than forward) now an IFK?

I say this because if, before the ball is kicked, a teammate of the kicker enters the PA but then withdraws BEFORE the ball is kicked, is it an IFK? I would say no because since the ball is not in play, the infringement was ‘corrected’ and the law is satisfied. The player realized their error and, in the spirit of the law, corrected their error. Am I splitting hairs here?

USSF answer (March 22, 2007):
We are very surprised that FIFA responded at all to this question from an unofficial source on “another site.” Anyone who has such questions should go directly to their area coordinator of instruction (if such an office exists in their state), who will take up the matter with the state director of instruction.

In point of fact, we had already answered this question, back on January 3 of this year:

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

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

We would suggest that referees not apply this procedure to any set of circumstances other than precisely those given in the Law and in the Q&A.…


I know that in most situations when cautioning or sending-off a player, the established procedure is to isolate the player, write any necessary information, administer the caution or send-off, and then display the card. I also know we make exceptions and display the card first when there is a chance of retaliation or in particularly tense situations.However, after reading Advice to Referee 3.21, I have a few other questions about carding mechanics in unusual situations: “If a player or substitute is cautioned or dismissed for misconduct which has occurred during a break or suspension of play, the card must be shown on the field before play resumes.”

1: If a player is sent-off during the half-time interval (for example, in the locker rooms), do I need to require that player to return to the field so he can be shown the red card before the kick-off? If that player leaves the field and its vicinity, to whom should I display a card?

2: By tradition, referees will not show a card to a player who is injured. If the referee needs to caution or send-off a player who was injured and unable to return to play, how should he do it?

In both of these cases, can you display the card “to” some other player (for example, the captain) on this player’s behalf? Should you simply display the card “to” empty space? Should you dispense with the card entirely and simply tell both team captains (and possibly their coaches as well) what punishment has been given?

I appreciate any advice you can give for how to handle these rare situations.

USSF answer (March 22, 2007):
1. The information you cite in Advice 3.21 would apply only in higher-level games. As long as it is clear to both sides that the player has been dismissed during the interval, there is no need for the now-former player to be on the field to receive the card before the next period of play begins. In fact, it would be a bad idea from a player management point of view.

2. This “tradition” is simply that, a tradition, but it is not part of the Laws of the Game nor of any procedures recommended by the U. S. Soccer Federation. It is normal to wait for the player to rise or be carried off, but that is not a requirement. The referee should show the card as soon as it is clear that the player is leaving the field or is able to rise and continue play (provided that no trainers entered the field to apply the magic sponge).…


It seems there is quite problem [in our state] that needs a Law interpretation.The issue is simply this. If a Referee shows a yellow card to blue player #5 in the 30th minute, then shows blue player #5 a red card in the 63rd minute for a second cautionable offense, but never actually showed the second yellow card before producing the red card, is this failure of mechanics grounds for protest for the blue player to say since you did not do the carding procedure correctly then the red card can not be enforced?

I have grappled with this issue and can make valid arguments in either direction. I need something from you to solve the argument.

USSF answer (March 14, 2007):
While normal procedure is to show the yellow card first, there is no valid reason for a player to protest being sent off if the referee has failed to show the yellow card for the second caution before showing the red card for the send-off. The referee must be certain to include the matter in the match report.…


In a recent tournament as veteran referees were exchanging war stories, we came across a divided decision on a scenario that was encountered at a recent tournament. Please give us your verdict.Attacker takes a shot from the top of the 18. A defender ( we are not sure if it was the goalie or one of the defenders ) realizing that the ball is about to enter the goal, jumps up and grabs the top of the goal cross and brings it down. They were using one of those cheap goals. Ball obviously did not enter the goal and whistle was blown after the ball crossed the goal line.

I think we all agreed that the correct re-start would be a goal kick ( we may be wrong on that? ). The argument is over a caution vs. red card. Some referee argue that it was a USB and it should only be a caution. The others obviously argue that it was a deny of goal scoring opportunity. The administrators at that tournament elected to red card the player after the game.

So give us your opinion, please.

USSF answer (March 14, 2007):
The original offense is unsporting behavior, for which the player must be cautioned. The player’s misconduct is punished by an indirect free kick. Because the misconduct, punishable by an indirect free kick, denied the opponent a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity, the player must also be sent off for that reason. This holds true for most scenarios.

However, there is at least one possible scenario in which it would make a difference if it was a field player or the goalkeeper: That would involve the ball contacting the crossbar instead of sailing into the goal (i. e., the crossbar was pulled down just enough to cause the ball to hit it, as opposed to being pulled down enough to cause the ball to sail over it). If the ball made contact with the crossbar AND the offending player was NOT the goalkeeper, then the crossbar became an extension of the player’s hand (just as would be the case if the player threw an object at and struck the ball), so the restart would be a penalty kick in addition to the send-off for S4. If it was the goalkeeper or if the pull on the crossbar allowed the ball to sail totally over it, then IFK for the misconduct in addition to the red card (but this time it would be S5).…


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

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


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

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

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

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


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