2005 Part 4

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Team B did not score any goals throughout the game.

Final Game Score was 3 – 0.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ALL THE TEAM OFFICIALS HAVE BEEN EXPELLED?
Your question:
During the second half of a game referee issues red card to coach.…

2005 Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

USSF answer (September 29, 2005):
As we responded to a query in May 2003, no referee should refuse to allow a medicalert bracelet to be worn if it is properly taped. Under the provisions of Law 4 (Players Equipment), referees are required to ensure that no player wears equipment that is dangerous to him-/herself or to any other participant. This means that sometimes we have to sacrifice the good of one player for the good of all other players.

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

For further information on the requirements of the Law for player safety, see the USSF National Program for Referee Development’s position papers of 7 March 2003 on “Player’s Equipment” and 17 March 2003 on “Player Equipment (Jewelry).” If you would like to see them, we can send along the two memoranda.

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

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


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

USSF answer (September 29, 2005):
Your first move should be to contact the league and have the league direct all assignors that they are not to referee their own child’s (or step-child’s) game, and are not to assign any parents to referee their own children’s games, especially once the team is older than U8. If it continues, then other steps should be taken. You should file a complaint against the referee/assignor, as is allowed in U. S. Soccer Federation Policy 531-10, Misconduct at a Match. You can find this policy at , select Services from the left hand menu, then Bylaws and Policies, click on the Policy Manual and it will come up. Then should scroll down to the appropriate policy. The complaint is filed with the state youth soccer association. The league may not realize this is going on, but surely they are paying the assignor and should have some say in the matter.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

USSF answer (September 26, 2005):

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Here is what the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” has to say:
QUOTE
12.28.3 PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT
Persistent infringement occurs either when a player repeatedly commits fouls or infringements or participates in a pattern of fouls directed against the same opponent. Persistent infringement also occurs if a player repeatedly fouls multiple opponents. It is not necessary for the multiple fouls to be of the same type or all to be direct free kick fouls, but infringements must be among those covered in Law 12 or involve repeated violations of Law 14. In most cases, the referee should warn the player that the pattern has been observed and, upon a subsequent violation, must then issue the caution. Where the referee sees a pattern of fouls directed against a single opponent, it is proper to warn the team that the pattern has been seen and then to caution the next player who continues the pattern, even if this specific player may not have previously committed a foul against this single opponent. If the pattern is quickly and blatantly established, then the warning should be omitted and the referee should take immediate action. In determining whether there is persistent infringement, all fouls are considered, including those to which advantage has been applied.

Examples of persistent infringement include a player who:

€ Violates Law 14 again, having previously been warned

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2005 Part 2

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Can you please provide an official position?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Trying to be a better referee,

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

USSF answer (May 30, 2005):
It is an offense if a player who is standing in front of a goalkeeper when a corner kick is being taken, takes advantage of the position to impede the goalkeeper before the kick is taken and before the ball is in play. The referee may either (1) act before the kick and warn the player not to impede the goalkeeper or (2) wait until the kick has been taken and then stop play. If the referee stops play, the impeding player should be at least warned before the referee gives the restart, which is an indirect free kick for the goalkeeper’s team from the place where the ‘keeper was impeded.


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

(c) Attacker has the ball under his control driving down the sideline, with attacker on his heels. Attacker puts the ball forward into open space, 12-15 feet ahead of him, beyond his control. The defender takes this opportunity to charge the attacker with a shoulder-to-shoulder move, forcing him to the side and defender gets to the ball.…

2005 Part 1

MEDICAL ATTENTION
Your question:
Here’s a question from a recent recert class that seemed to stump the instructor as much as the students: A player, #9 from team A, was fouled near team B’s penalty area by #3 from team B. The referee awards a direct free kick to team A. Due to the foul, #9 needed medical attention and, after three minutes, was finally removed from the field of play. Given the sequence of events, the referee:
a)should make sure he/she is informed of the seriousness of the injury and, after the injured player has been removed from the field, issue a caution to player #3 from team B.
b) can not issue a caution anymore as it is too late now that the injured player is removed.
c) has to provide the complete details concerning the medical status of the injury on the game report.
d) has the discretion to determine how much time was lost due to the injury.

Many of us leaned toward A, yet some of the more experienced refs said B. certainly D is true and likely C as well.

USSF answer (March 10, 2005):
a) The referee needs to know only that the player has been seriously injured; that information is included in the match report. The full nature of the injuries is irrelevant. There is absolutely no reason to base a caution on whether or not an injury was inflicted; the referee bases that decision solely upon whether the foul was committed recklessly (caution/yellow card) or with excessive force (send-off/red card). It is possible to inflict an injury, even a serious injury, simply by making normal contact with another player. b) Immediately exclude option b from any consideration. A caution may be issued at any time prior to the restart of play. c) See a. d) Correct.


SELECTING OFFICIALS FOR INTERNATIONAL MATCHES
Your question:
All of the following assumes that a FIFA Ref/or AR may not be from the same country of the teams that are playing that match.)

Key Issue: What say, if any, does each Intl team or club teams have when playing international matches as to who refs the games?

If Germany plays England in the friendly match the Ref and AR’s are not really an issue to the teams.

Now, if Germany plays the UK in an European Cup match be it at International level, or a UEFA match… for the INTL match does FIFA or UEFA present a list of ref’s and AR’s from to each Intl association and they agree upon at least the Referee that will officiate.

Also, how are the Ref’s selected by FIFA for the World Cup matches..(outside of the highest rated ones) do they give a list to pick from to the teams? Or, FIFA assigns and that is it?

USSF answer (March 8, 2005):
We are not aware that referees for international matches must be approved by the competing countries. As far as we know, FIFA selects the refereeing crew and that is it.


PLAYER LOSES SHOE
Your question:
While kicking the ball the boot also flies in the other direction without giving disturbances to the opponent. But the referees stops the play.  How will the referee restart the match?

USSF answer (March 8, 2005):
There is no need for the referee to stop the match if the boot was lost accidentally and did not disturb any other players. The player is expected to replace the boot as quickly as possible and get on with play.

However, if the referee does stop play for this incident, the only possible restart is a dropped ball, taken from the place where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the special circumstances of Law 8).


INTERFERING WITH A THROW-IN
Your question:
Can an opponent be cautioned for merely standing on the touch line in front of the player taking the throw-in? The laws and the ATR are clear that the opponent is not allowed to jump or follow the thrower to attempt to affect the throw, but our referee group is divided on what to do when the defender stands so close on the throw. Most believe that the player has a right to stand there, but my thinking is that the defender does not take his position on the touch line until he sees where the thrower is setting up. This could be considered to be interfering with the throw, in my opinion.

We had a situation where the thrower, annoyed by the defender standing on the line, followed through and clocked the defender, with the injured player needing several stitches to close the wound.

We also discussed what proactive action the referee could take. Inthat vein, is it appropriate for the referee to tell the players what their respective rights are (i.e., defender, you must remain still during the throw, and thrower, you may move down the line to avoid the defender)?

USSF answer (March 7, 2005):
The player may not be cautioned for simply standing there when the thrower moves up to the line; nor should the player be spoken to. This, of course, only provided that the player did not move into that position just as the thrower was about to take the throw. If that is the case, then at least a warning should be given (if the throw was still successful) or certainly a caution (if the thrower was thus prevented from doing the job properly).

We need to remember that the thrower is given a yard in either direction from the point of the throw-in, so an opponent merely standing in a particular location should not be an obstacle to the thrower. Furthermore, even if irritated by perceived interference, this hardly gives the thrower a right to “clock” the opponent.

There will be further changes after July 1.


PLAYING THE BALL FROM THE ‘KEEPER’S HAND
Your question:
Where is official word that you can’t play the ball out of the ‘keeper’s hands? Are there any more situations when it is legal to play the ball when the keeper has possesion besides header out of outstretched palm or kicking it as it hits the ground when the GK’s bouncing it?

USSF answer (March 3, 2005):
There is nothing in the Law to say that the ball may not be played from the goalkeeper’s hand, but neither is there anything that would allow it, except under the conditions you have already outlined: heading the ball from the goalkeeper’s open palm (a most unlikely situation) or playing the ball as it hits the ground when clearly released by the goalkeeper. However, there is that provision in Law 12 under Indirect Free Kicks that calls for punishment of the player who “prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands.” In addition, there is tradition, which also forbids interfering with the goalkeeper who is attempting to put the ball back into play.

And, finally, there is the reminder in the Additional Instructions at the back of your book of the Laws of the Game that it is an offense for a player to prevent a goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands and that a player must be penalized for playing in a dangerous manner if he kicks or attempts to kick the ball when the goalkeeper is in the process of releasing it.


‘KEEPER MOVING FORWARD FROM GOAL LINE AT PK
Your question:
I have a query about my role during PKs when assigned as A/R. Can you help ?

I have reffed for 4 years (seniors, U19 Premier, etc). In 3 recent games which went to PKs the result was altered, in my view, by an illegal save – i.e. the GK was well forward of the goalline before the ball was in play.   In one game I was assigned as A/R and was instructed not to indicate a forward G/K move. Also at a subsequent ref training it was made quite clear that A/Rs should *not* “indicate….whether at a PK the goalkeeper has moved forwards before the ball has been kicked” even though Law 6 seems to require otherwise, independent of the ref’s subsequent decision.

Question: Why cannot I, when assigned as A/R, indicate (clearly, to everyone) that, in my view, a GK has moved forwards before the Ball was in play at at PK? Or can this key duty be “subject to the decision of the refereee” (Law 6).

USSF answer (March 3, 2005):
At penalty kicks (or kicks from the penalty mark), the job of the assistant referee, according to Law 6, is to indicate “whether . . . the goalkeeper has moved forward before the ball has been kicked and if the ball has crossed the line.” That is clear. What is not clear is when that is done and how it is done. The timing and the signal are up to the referee to determine and should be clarified during the pregame conference among the officials. If the referee does not bring up the matter, the AR must do so.


DEFENDER OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY
Your question:
This happened in a U17 Boys game recently: Defender, running parallel to the goal line near the top of the PA, is chasing the ball about to go into touch. Attacker does the same, running parallel to the touch line. Ball goes out – throw in for attackers. No foul/collision by players. Defender slides into stands and, clearly,  injures himself. He slid into the stands…..

Very quickly, the attacker throws ball in, legally, and ball is cleared. However, the ball is intercepted and passed right down the middle to an attacker who has only the goalie in front of him. He is clearly in an offside position, IF YOU DON’T COUNT THE PLAYER WHO IS STILL NEAR THE STANDS (clearly off the field by at least 5 yards) AND RUBBING HIS INJURED LEG, FACING THE STANDS. If you count the injured player, the attacker is on side. AR2 raises the flag for offside. Referee waves him down, as attacker continues toward goal. No other players involved, except the forward and goalie on the field … and the injured player off the field. All other defenders are way up field….

Who’s correct here?

USSF answer (March 2, 2005):
This quote from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” (Advice 11.11) should be of help: “A defender who leaves the field during the course of play and does not immediately return must still be considered in determining where the second to last defender is for the purpose of judging which attackers are in an offside position. Such a defender is considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to his or her off-field position. A defender who leaves the field with the referee’s permission (and who thus requires the referee’s permission to return) is not included in determining offside position.”

This defender left the field legally, during the course of play. Unless the referee decides that this defender is seriously injured‹in which case play must be stopped for treatment‹the defender must be counted as being on the field.

The referee was correct.


AN INTERESTING SITUATION
Your question:
Two players are involved – an attacker and a defender. The attacker has the ball at his feet, inside the penalty area. He is very close to the back line, but outside the six yard box. He nutmegs the defender and then attempts to run past him, to catch up with the ball, but chooses to pass the defender by leaving the field of play. The defender sticks out his foot and trips the attacker up, but the trip takes place off the playing area. There are no other defenders between this incident and the goal and the attacker would have regained control of the ball if he hadn’t been tripped up.

Has the defender committed a foul? Should a penalty be awarded? Should the defender be sent off?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
The attacking player is permitted to leave the field to avoid an obstacle while playing the ball. By sticking his foot out with the clear intent to trip the attacker, the defender has committed the foul of “attempting to trip,” which is punishable by a direct free kick‹and, therefore, as it was committed by a defender inside his own penalty area, the restart must be a penalty kick.

Although the eventual result of the attempt was an actual trip of the attacker, the attempt occurred inside the field. Because the successful result of the attempt occurred off the field, the restart would have to be a dropped ball (misconduct occurring off the field) and no red card could be given even if there were an obvious goal scoring situation because such a card cannot be given if the restart is not a free kick.

Fairness and common sense would suggest that the player should be punished in the most severe way and that could be done only if the referee decided to stop play for the foul of “attempting to trip.”


SECOND “FOUL” FOLLOWING ORIGINAL FOUL
Your question:
During a co-ed match, I had a situation where an attacker just outside their eighteen was fouled, went down and lost possession of the ball. There upon another attacker who was not in the offside position was given advantage. But time had elapsed and no control was established so I blew the ball dead. Simultaneously the keeper who was also approaching the ball took down the 2nd attacker who got injured and was the 2nd foul of that series of play.

I discussed this series of fouls with the AR and we decided since I blew the ball dead for the first foul, that I may not be able to punish for the second foul even though it could have warranted a caution or a send-off. Even though the 2nd foul occurred in the penalty area, I did not award the PK. I went back to the original foul which ended up being a DFK from about the arc. Was that the right call?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
If you have already stopped play for the original foul, you may not punish the second “foul” as a foul. However, if it is appropriate, you may punish the “foul” as misconduct, either a caution or a send-off, depending on the degree of force employed by the second “fouler,” in this case the goalkeeper.


NO RIGHT TO NOT ALLOW SUBSTITUTIONS
Your question:
At half time the score was 3 to 1 our favorite at the start of the second half we scored again- putting the score 4 to 1. So our coach put in his bench players and was going to leave them in the last ten minutes of the game. Well, the other team scored 2 goals, so our coach put his starters on line to sub after the second goal was scored (score now 4 to 3). When are coach called to sub the and the sideline judge put his flag up to single the center ref – he told our coach “No more subing – there’s only two minutes left in the game and there’s not enough time.” Our coach then told him to “You can tie or win in two minutes.” The other team in fact did score again – tieing the game 4 to 4. Our coach tried once more to sub and again was told “No there’s only 1 minute left.” The sideline judge told our asst coach “I don’t know why he won’t let you sub.”

Is this a judgement call, not to allowing a team to sub with only two minutes left? Is this a rule? I mean what if it this was a tournament game and we need to get our best players in incase of PKs?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
The referee has no authority to refuse a team the right to substitute players.


GIVE ME TEN!
Your question:
During a U11G competitive game a player on the field was called for handling the ball, “hand ball” as parents know it. That player’s coach yelled at the player who handled the ball and ordered her to drop and do 10 push ups right there.

Nothing was done by the ref calling the game, and lucky for the girl doing the pushups her safety was not endangered because the opposing team waited for her to complete them before putting the ball in play.

I think the caoch should be cautioned for placing his player into a potentially dangerous situation if the opposing team continued to play without waiting for her to finish.

What do you suggest is the best way to address this with a coach who may do this on the field of play during the game?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
If it weren’t so ridiculously silly, we might say that the coach’s action was irresponsible and the referee should have dealt with it immediately: dismiss the coach for behaving irresponsibly and restart with the direct free kick for the deliberate handling foul.

The coach’s job is supposed to be done in practice and in talking the players and substitutes on the sidelines during the game. It does not extend to disciplining a player on the field. If the coach wanted to discipline the player, he should have substituted her out of the game.

If the referee can stop laughing, he or she would be wise to remind the coach of when and where such tactics should be employed. The referee would then submit a complete report to the appropriate authorities.


MAY SUBSTITUTES BE CARDED?
Your question:
I have a question regarding carding and who can be carded. Of course, players on the pitch can be carded. What about substitutes watching the game from the touchline or on the bench? If their behavior is unsporting, or there is a lot of dissent, can they be carded as well? If so, how is a restart handled? Which Law covers this situation?

USSF answer (March 1, 2005):
Yes, substitutes may be cautioned and shown the yellow card or sent off and shown the red card. The authority is contained in Laws 3 and 5. The restart will depend on the reason for which the game was stopped. If it was solely for the misconduct of the substitutes on the sidelines, then the correct restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the special circumstances of Law 8).


STOP MAKING UP RULES, REF!
Your question:
During a tournament recently the diameter and height of the corner flags became an issue. The Center ref claimed that the flags stick had to be an inch in diameter and a certain height, and disallowed the small diameter flag sticks. Is there any rule/law that dictates the size and diameter the corner flags must be?

USSF answer (February 28, 2005):
Law 1 requires only that “[a] flagpost, not less than 1.5 m (5 ft) high, with a non-pointed top and a flag is placed at each corner.” There is no indication of any particular diameter.


TOO MANY PLAYERS
Your question:
Recently following a goal being scored, the team that was kicking-off was observed to have 12 players on the field. The sideline official (AR) observed this and tried to signal to the referee. Play continued for about 1 minute and the attacking team (the team with 12 players) was awarded a corner-kick. At this point the AR finally got the referees attention. The referee and AR discussed the situation and the corner-kick was allowed and the winning goal was scored.  Was this proper?

I thought that the since the AR had observed 12 players, that either the coach or the 12th player should have been “cautioned”.

Should the corner-kick be allowed, since the corner -kick had been ‘earned’ with the advantage of the 12th player on the field?

USSF answer (February 22, 2005):
If play has already been stopped, then the referee has no choice but to restart according to the reason the game was stopped. Caution and remove the twelfth player for entering the field of play without the permission of the referee and, in this case, restart with a corner kick.

Unless the rules of the competition specifically allow it, coaches are never to be cautioned. In this case, even if the rules did allow it, there is no reason to caution the coach.


PLAYER RE-ENTERS WITHOUT PERMISSION
Your question:
Player A1 gets permission from the referee to leave the field (say, to change shoes). A1 then re-enters the field without the referee’s permission. A1’s team scores a goal. Before play is restarted, the referee realizes that A1 came onto the field without permission. What action does the referee take? Does he allow the goal, and if not, how does he restart play?

USSF answer (February 21, 2005):
The player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field without the referee’s permission. The goal is disallowed and the game restarts with a goal kick.


FOUR MATCH SCENARIOS
Your question:
I have four questions regarding match scenarios. Although some of them are a true stretch, we are looking forward to your responses. We definitely appreciate and respect the time and effort you have taken to do this job.

Scenario 1) The referee motions for a substitute to enter the field, who is clearly ready to enter (i.e. Equipment checked, name and number matches the roster as a named substitute, has presented his player pass and substitution pass to the forth official) for a player who has left the field with the permission of the referee during play due to an injury (due to this, his team is now playing with one man less). (The substitute who is about to enter, formerly played for the opposing team and is upset with his former coach for trading him.) The player, clearly acting out of built-up anger, does not step onto the field, walks over to his former coach (opposing bench) and strikes his former coach with a water bottle. Next, he steps onto the field and takes his position.
1) How many do you restart with? (11 – not a completed sub until player enters the field?)

Scenario 2) A player has left the field during play with the permission of the referee, due to an injury (due to this, his team is now playing with one man less). While off the field, during play, the same player strikes an opponent on the field with a water bottle.
1) What’s the restart? (Does this fall under the theory as in the situation with a goalkeeper attempting to strike a player with the ball outside of the penalty area with the ball; and the foul or attempted foul being restarted from the place where the contact or attempted contact would have occurred? If so would it be a direct free kick against his team because he is actually a “player”? OR Would it be a dropped ball because he is now considered an outside agent?)
2) How many players do you restart with? (10 – because he is still really a player?)

Scenario 3) A player has left the field during play with the permission of the referee, due to an injury (due to this, his team is now playing with one man less). While off the field, during play, the same player strikes a teammate on the field with a water bottle.
1) What’s the restart? (Once again, does this fall under the theory as in the situation with a goalkeeper attempting to strike a player with the ball outside of the penalty area with the ball; and the foul or attempted foul being restarted from the place where the contact or attempted contact would have occurred? If so would it be an indirect free kick against his team because he is actually a “player”? OR Would it be a dropped ball because he is now considered an outside agent?)
2) How many players do you restart with? (10 – because he is still really a player?)

Scenario 4) Is it technically possible to have a direct free kick against the defending team, and also have the ball be placed so that its sphere overlaps the line on the edge of penalty area? (The foul occurs within 9 inches of the edge of the penalty area and the bottom of the ball is placed on the exact spot where the foul occurred; thus to an onlooker it would appear as though the direct free kick against the defending team was being taken inside the penalty area, (as the lines obviously belong to the areas in which they bounder.).)

USSF answer (February 20, 2005):
Scenario 1:
The substitution is not completed until the new player enters the field. By committing violent conduct in striking the coach, the substitute must be dismissed and shown the red card. Provided that the substitute has not entered the field after being beckoned on by the referee and before striking the coach, then his team may use another substitute and the team need not play with fewer players.

Scenario 2:
1) Restart with a direct free kick for the opposing team. The player re-entered the field to strike the opponent. 2) Restart with one fewer player on the bottle-striker’s team, as he must be dismissed and shown the red card for violent conduct.

Scenario 3:
1) Indirect free kick for the opposing team from the place where the bottle struck the teammate. Send off the player and show the red card for violent conduct.
2) Restart with one fewer player on the bottle thrower’s team.

Scenario 4:
If a foul is deemed to have occurred outside the area, then the ball may not be placed on the line. Set the ball outside the line.


IMPEDING?
Your question:
A free kick has been given. The kicking player (A) kicks the ball only a couple of feet by mistake. He then goes to the ball and, while facing the ball, he shields an incoming opponent (B) from gaining possession. If the ball is at the feet of this player A, can he use his body to shield/impede his opponent from getting the ball? Player A cannot play the ball a 2nd time till it is touched by someone else. So can he really claim ³possession² with the ball at his feet when he isn¹t able to touch it? Or does the rule only require that the ball merely has to be within playing distance of player A while he is shielding ­ even though he cannot play it?

USSF answer (February 16, 2005):
Despite the fact that A cannot play the ball legally without playing it a second time before someone else has somehow played the ball, as long as A is within playing distance of the ball (i. e., meaning capable of playing the ball according to the Law), then A cannot be impeding. Playing distance is exactly that, a distance, which is determined in practice only by the playability of the ball.

The fact that in this particular case A could not LEGALLY play the ball without infringing the Law does not change the fact that, distance-wise, the ball is still within a physically playable distance. The ball is legally playable‹in every way open to any field player‹by anyone other than the player who kicked the ball. If A’s movement includes holding the arms out and making contact with the opponent as a means of keeping the opponent away, then the player is guilty of holding.
[Note: This answer repeats information given in November 2002.]


DOUBLE POSSESSION BY THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Can you provide the definition for double possession?
If the keeper has the ball in their hands, plays it to the ground, then decides to pick the ball up again, do we have a double touch issue?
How about the keeper tosses the ball to the ground and kicks it?

USSF answer (February 16, 2005):
For a goalkeeper to be “convicted” of double possession, the referee must recognize that the goalkeeper has clearly released the ball for others to play and then picked it up again. However, if the ‘keeper inadvertently drops the ball and then picks it up again, that does not count as double possession. Dropping the ball to the ground and kicking it is a legal play.


GOALKEEPER SCORES A GOAL OFF A PUNT
Your question:
I have heard throughout my soccer career that a keeper cannot score a goal directly off a punt.  In order for the goal to be valid he must drop-kick the ball.  In a recent intramural match, a referee told a goalkeeper that if he could throw the ball from one end to the other, he could score directly on a thrown ball. While I realize that in a normal game this kind of scenario is next to impossible, I would like to know if there are any official rulings on the matter as it could potentially come up in a youth game on an undersized field.  Not likely, but possible. In the event a keeper could throw, or punt the ball directly into his opponent¹s goal, I would think that a goal kick should be awarded instead of a goal, but again, I haven¹t been a referee that long and the information I¹m using as a basis for this decision is mostly hearsay. I tried to look up information on this topic in the Laws of the Game, Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, and Advice to Referees handbooks, but didn¹t find anything relevant. Any advice you could give would be most welcome.

USSF answer (February 16, 2005):
When in doubt, go to the beginning of all soccer knowledge, the Laws of the Game. Law 10, Method of Scoring, tells us: “A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no infringement of the Laws of the Game has been committed previously by the team scoring the goal.”

Note that there is no reference there to whether or not the scorer is a goalkeeper or a field player. Nowhere in the Laws of the Game does it say that a goalkeeper may not score a goal directly by any legal means‹and punting is a legal means.


“FOUL” OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY
Your question:
A player is dribbling the ball along the end line, he steps off the field by a foot or two to avoid a defender. While he/she is off the pitch the defender fouls him.

What is the restart? Direct kick or indirect kick? Obviously if he is several feet off the pitch a yellow card could be issued too. The high school rule book calls for an indirect kick. That got me to thinking what would the FIFA rule be. You can’t really call fouls off the pitch so that seems to apply here too.

USSF answer (February 15, 2005):
Such an act would be regarded as misconduct, rather than a foul, because it occurred off the field of play. The player is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. The restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped.


DROPPED BALL
Your question:
My question pertains to drop balls. In a drop ball situation, a player verbally acknowledges to the opposing team that he will kick the ball back to the team’s goalkeeper. The opposing team leaves him alone at the drop ball, believing that he will be true to his word and kick it back. Instead, the player who told the team he’d kick it back smashes the drop ball into the back of the net. My position is that the goal should not be counted, because the player used trickery to make the opposing players think he would be returning the ball to them. The player should be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior (because of the trickery) and play is restarted with an IFK to the opposing team from the spot of the drop ball. Others maintain that the goal should be counted as players are not obliged to return drop balls. Please help us clear this situation up.

USSF answer (February 14, 2005):
After a stoppage for an injury or a similar situation caused by one team, a player of that team usually plays a dropped ball (or a throw-in) to a position where the opposing team may regain possession. Despite the fact that it is traditional that a player do this, there is no requirement for it under the Laws of the Game. Nor does the referee have any authority to deal with this situation. Indeed, over the past several years, we have seen instances in very high-level competitions where players have refused to do this. This is not the forum in which to discuss the reasons for evil or ignorance.

The referee has a preventive remedy for situations at a dropped ball where the only fair thing (within the Spirit of the Game) is for one team to get the ball.…

2004 Part 4

Your question:
Upon reading one of your answers in the “Past Questions” section I am prompted to ask the following: Do the administrators of a (youth) tournament have the ability to change their competion rules to allow the referee to display disciplinary cards to non-players (especially coaches)?I have become an advocate of displaying the cards when a coach is disciplined so as to demonstrate to all the others in attendance that the discipline has been applied. Federation rules allow this and we have found it to be effective in communicating the fact of the discipline to the other coaches (who usually know, already), the players and substitutes, the opposing side (coaches, players, subs) and – most importantly – the spectators.

So, if a USSF-sanctioned tournament has this leeway I would appreciate hearing about it. I would suggest to the administrators for whom I work as Assignor to consider implementing such a rule. I would word is something as follows: “Should the referee determine that disciplinary action is to be taken against a non-player, the referee may, at his/her discretion, elect to display the appropriately colored card if, in the opinion of the referee, such a display will serve the interest of the match in terms of man-management, spectator control, or any other beneficial aspect of the game.”

OK – I guess it’s a two-part questionŠ
If this modification is permitted, would you be in favor of or opposed to such a rule?

USSF answer (January 3, 2005):
Under the Laws of the Game, cards may be displayed only to players and named substitutes and players who have been replaced, and not to any non-players. Unfortunately, some competitions have seen fit to include the possibility of showing the card to non-players (coaches or assistants or managers, etc.).

Our personal opinion is that the practice of showing the card to non-players is non-productive and leads to confusion when referees work in other competitions. This emphasizes the necessity for officials to be fully aware of the rules of every competition in which they work‹and to remember that they need not work for any competition whose rules are contrary to the Laws of the Game.

One wonders how the display of a colored card to a coach or spectator would be any more effective in managing that person’s behavior than the other tricks in the referee’s tool kit. We have inspected the cards closely‹they have no magic in them beyond the referee’s own skills and talents, which can be exercised very well without them. After all, the cards themselves are a fairly recent phenomenon and were intended primarily to be used in situations where players did not speak the same language as the referee.


THE COIN TOSS
Your question:
As a new ref, I want to know who tosses the coin. Referees have explained to me that it is the visiting team, and other referees have said it is the home team. This isn¹t the type of advice that helps a newbie. Can you clarify?

USSF answer (December 29, 2004):
The only thing the Laws tell us is that a coin is tossed. Traditionally, the referee conducts the toss and does the actual toss of the coin. Again traditionally, the referee allows the visiting team to call the toss, but there is nothing written in stone (or any other substance) on this matter.

Given the silliness that can occur, even before a game, it is a brave (or foolish) referee who allows the players to even handle the coin.


CORNER FLAGPOSTS
Your question:
The flagpost [corner type], commonly called the corner flag, are placed “at each corner” of the field. I believe and always understood that that these flagpost(s) are NOT on the field of play, but just touching the outer edge at the intersection of the touch line and the goal line.

Question: Are the corner flagposts of a soccer field on the field of play?

USSF answer (December 22, 2004):
Yes, and they are regarded as a part of the field of play. If the ball hits one of the corner posts and remains on the field, it is still in play.


ACCEPTING/DECLINING ASSIGNMENTS; PLAYING BALL RELEASED BY ‘KEEPER
Your question:
On December 3, 2004 you gave this answer as to what “national tournaments” are: “These would be the National Championships of an organization, such as the finals for the US Youth Soccer Championships (formerly the Snickers Cup) or the USASA National Cup Finals. It also would include the final championships of the Super Y League and US Club Soccer. Such games are assigned at the national level, not locally.”

1. This brings back a question I had when I was assigned to the Y League Finals. Many of the local refs dropped at the last minute because of rescheduling in their men’s league. The assignors sent out an e-mail to all reminding everyone of the above priority policy. Only the U-17s played 90s. Does the priority apply to the younger ages?

2. In general, when are you released from an availability you gave a tournament/league? Ex: If they haven’t told you they’ll be using you within 72 hours of when the matches are and another assignor calls you can you take those games with no more obligation to the first assignor?

3. On a drop kick/punt by the keeper: After the keeper releases it from their hands, but before they kick it, a forward who was not previously preventing them from releasing the ball jumps in front of them and blocks it. Is there an offense?

USSF answer (December 21, 2004):
1. The policy says 90-minute matches, so that would not apply to the younger age groups, but then you would not need the same level of referee for the younger age groups so you should have more available. The assignment priority policy is to protect referees from being disciplined if they turn back a game to take one of the listed matches.

2. You may work for whomever you want as an independent contractor. If your availability changes before you have received an assignment from a particular assignor when you have told them you are available, you should immediately notify that assignor that you are no longer available on that day. Your plans could change in a number of ways after you have turned in availability, so you are always free to say that you cannot accept an assignment; however, common courtesy would dictate that if you accept an assignment for a free weekend, then you notify any other assignors that you are no longer available for those dates.

3. No, provided that the ball has hit the ground and the opponent plays the ball and not the goalkeeper.


IMPROPERLY ATTIRED GOALKEEPER
Your question:
This situation arose in a tournament match: Team A is trailing by one goal late in the match. In an effort to push forward and equalize, Team A substitutes a field player for the goalkeeper. The field player is not dressed as a goalkeeper but as a field player, and the referee team does not catch it. Forty seconds later, Team A equalizes, with the improperly attired goalkeeper on the field. The improperly attired goalkeeper did not touch the ball at any time. The referee realizes the error prior to the kickoff. Does the goal count?
I am assuming that the improperly attired goalkeeper is to be cautioned and that the restart would be a goalkick for Team A’s opponents.

USSF answer (December 16, 2004):
We are a bit confused, but willing to proceed. Let’s take it in order: Do you mean that (1) a player already on the field has exchanged positions with the goalkeeper, or that (2) the team has inserted a new player, dressed like the other field players and removed the goalkeeper altogether, without the permission of the referee? Or do you really and truly mean that (3) the refereeing team was so “unobservant” that they allowed a substitution to take place, but did not realize that the new player entering the game, not wearing the appropriate uniform, was replacing the goalkeeper? And please tell us, if the referee and assistant referees missed the lack of appropriate uniform, how would they know which was the new goalkeeper??

(1) If it was simply a swap of positions, then the correct action is to wait until the next stoppage and caution both players for unsporting behavior. The goal is scored and the restart is a kick-off.

(2) If a new “player” has entered as goalkeeper and the original goalkeeper has left the field (both without permission of the referee), we have a different kettle of fish: Caution and yellow card to the new “goalkeeper” for entering the field without the referee’s permission. Caution and yellow card to the goalkeeper for leaving the field without the referee’s permission. No goal. Restart with a goal kick.

(3) If it was a true substitution in which the goalkeeper left the field and someone came on without the distinctive jersey, then there was no one on the field designated as a keeper. In this case, despite the fact that it was the referee’s fault, because Team A was not playing with a goalkeeper they have been playing in violation of Law 3 and no goal can be scored. The player must be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior and the game restarted with a goal kick.


SAFE PLAYING ENVIRONMENT
Your question:
This fall I have seen many goals at almost every field that were made by the local cities and counties—by welding together pipes ——-replaced—-on every field that I refereed at.

Has there been any legal directives sent out by the States to make sure all recreation goal equipment that is not manufactured by a certified manufacturer be immediately replaced by one that is?

At the high school fields, this is no issue.. when you inspect the goals you can see the tags of the manufacturer— and all are well made.

Have any lawyers across the country made some killings on settlements against towns where injuries have occured to players that were involved in collisions with goal posts that were not made by recognized manufacturers of sporting goods equipment?

Just want to know if you came across if the USSF has any comments on this?

USSF answer (December 9, 2004):
We are not aware of any special directives sent out by the various state associations, by U. S. Soccer, or by the IFAB/FIFA regarding goals, other than the normal requirement of Law 1 that the goals, the field, and all equipment and appurtenances be safe.


HATS/CAPS OR SUNGLASSES FOR REFEREES
Your question:
Is it permitted for a referee to wear a neat, solid black unadorned baseball cap while officiating a USSF match, in addition to the approved uniform? From what I can tell, there is nothing in the Laws of the Game, or the Referee Administrative Handbook that specifically prohibits me from wearing one, but also nothing that specifcally allows it either. I wear prescription glasses when I officiate, and when rain occurs, this gives me problems because of water on the lenses making it very difficult to see. The ball cap helps mitigate this problem.

USSF answer (December 8, 2004):
The USSF policy on sunglasses (and hats) was last published in the October 1999 issue of Fair Play, our referee magazine:
Q. May referees wear caps and sunglasses?
A. With regard to caps, the policy of the United States Soccer Federation was stated in the Spring 1994 issue of Fair Play magazine: “Under normal circumstances, it is not acceptable for a game official to wear headgear, and it would never be seen on a high level regional, national or international competition. However, there may be rare circumstances in local competitions where head protection or sun visors might sensibly be tolerated for the good of the game, e.g. early morning or late afternoon games with sun in the officials’ line of sight causing vision difficulties; understaffed situations where an official with sensitive skin might be pressed into service for multiple games under strong sunlight or a referee who wears glasses needing shielding from rain.” Sunglasses would be subject to the same considerations. In addition, we ask referees to remember that sunglasses have the unfortunate side effect of suggesting that the referee or assistant referee is severely visually impaired and should not be working the game. They also limit communication between the officials and the players by providing a barrier against eye-to-eye contact. Sunglasses, if worn, should be removed prior to any verbal communication with players.

This policy has not changed.


FLAGPOSTS AT THE HALFWAY LINE
Your question:
Why do we have optional halfway line flagposts?

USSF answer (December 6, 2004):
The optional halfway line flagposts are a relic of the dim, distant past when there were no lines on the field and the teams needed guidance to orient themselves.


NUMBER OF PLAYERS AT KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
I just attended a re-certification course in [my state] yesterday. When they came to the kicks from the penalty mark review, I just thought of a situation that may occur after the two teams just completed a very aggressive and what may call a “dirty” game.

SCENARIO:
As the players that were on the pitch when the 2nd extra time ended… all come into the center circle to get ready to take the kicks.. several players say some choice words..and then an all out fight breaks out. The substitutes for each team all come off the benches to join the fight…

The only thing I see the Ref and the AR’s can go is write down the numbers of the players involved…and if someone has a cell phone to call 911 for assistance.

When things get settled down.. the AR’s and Referee compare their notes… I would RED card all players who threw punches.. that were in the center circle when play ended… as of the substitutes who came off the bench.. I would give RED cards to those who made physical contact with the opponents and Yellow cards to those who just came onto the field without permission.

Then, if say there are only 4 players on each side that could qualify to take the kicks… does the rule of at least 7 apply? …and thus the taking of the kicks are abandoned.

Your comments on this please..and how you would approach it.

USSF answer (December 6, 2004):
We cannot speak to how the individual referee should deal with the various players (and substitutes who enter the field), as that is strictly a matter of judgment. The correct decision would be based on the actions of the players and the substitutes. (A full report of whatever measures the referee takes in this situation must be included in the match report, whether it is match termination or not.)

As we all know, the usual requirement for a game to continue is at least seven players on the field (or, at the end of regulation time, off the field for treatment or equipment repair). However, this requirement has no bearing on the number of players for kicks from the penalty mark, as that process is not part of the regular game. A team may continue kicks from the penalty mark with as few as one player remaining on the field.

This is documented in the IFAB/FIFA Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (2004) under Law 14, Q&A L:
L) During the taking of kicks from the penalty mark, a team has fewer than seven players. Should the referee abandon the kicks from the penalty mark?
No. Kicks from the penalty mark are not part of the match


WHAT IS A “NATIONAL TOURNAMENT”?
Your question:
I have a questions concerning a definition in the Referee Administrative Handbook. Page 39 indicates the priority for assignments. Number 10 is National Tournaments (Adult and Youth matches – must be 90 min. in length). The question is to be a National Tournament is it assigned locally or by the National Office?

USSF answer (December 3, 2004):
These would be the National Championships of an organization, such as the finals for the US Youth Soccer Championships (formerly the Snickers Cup) or the USASA National Cup Finals. It also would include the final championships of the Super Y League and US Club Soccer. Such games are assigned at the national level, not locally.


NEITHER A BORROWER NOR A LENDER BE TO UNAUTHORIZED REFEREES
Your question:
Is there EVER an occasion when it is permissable for an UNCERTIFIED individual to be placed on the field as a center or AR (for any age group in any play situation),  wearing an official referee uniform and a current referee badge? If so, under what circumstances and if not, what are the consequences to the assignor and/or individual misrepresenting his qualifications?

If this is in fact an offense, what are the consequences to the individual loaning his “badge” out to anyone knowing they are not certified?

Is it ever permissable to “loan” your badge to anyone after being told “mine was stolen, damaged, cannot find it – can I borrow yours”. Is their any responsibility to the individual legitimately holding a current badge to verify such comment?

Is there ever a situation where an UNCERTIFIED individual can work as a center or AR during ANY play situation wearing an official uniform without displaying a badge?

What are the requirements to CERTIFIED referees (any class) to safe guard their badge?

These questions are a little redundant, but wanted to make sure I covered all possible scenarios.

USSF answer (November 29, 2004):
No, an unregistered referee may not wear the U. S. Soccer Federation referee badge. The referee who “lends” such a person a badge is not doing anyone a favor, but is participating in fraud.

According to  Section 1 of US Soccer Policy 531-8, Assignment of Game Officials (Former Rule 3040), unregistered persons are not permitted to officiate games played under the aegis of US Soccer.
“Section 1. Registration Required Prior to Assignment
“No one shall officiate as a referee or assistant referee in any match under the sanction or jurisdiction (direct or indirect) of the United States Soccer Federation who is not registered with the Federation for the current year unless that person is a visiting foreign referee who has been properly accredited by his or her national association.”

However, according to Section 2 of Policy 531-8,
“Section 2. Unregistered Referee in Emergency
“If, because of unforeseen circumstances, a currently registered referee is unable to officiate or does not appear for an assigned match, a person may then be designated at match time to act as referee in the emergency for that one match.”

No referee should ever loan the referee badge or uniform to an unauthorized person to wear in a game. This would be a violation of Item 12 of the Referee Code of Ethics:
“I consider it a privilege to be a part of the United States Soccer Federation and my actions will reflect credit upon that organization and its affiliates.”


CHARGING FAIRLY
Your question:
Are there any sources where I can learn what is pushing and what is not pushing from a foul perspective and when the interpretation according to an official is the determining factor?

I coach in a recreational U10 & U12 age group and of course the exact technical method of a legal charge and when it is excessive is a cause for great contention among officials, coaches, players and parents/spectators.  The issue gets more complex when you add the natural tendencies of players to protect or defend themselves or in an attempt to retain/gain possession of the ball.

I am specifically looking for:
A) the definition of a legal/illegal shoulder charge
B) the extent the arms may or may not be used
C) relative to pre-contact, contact and post-contact.

A couple of common examples would be:
A player has possession of the ball and is in movement down the field and notes a defender closing down.
1) Both players make legal shoulder contact (not with excessive violence); both players near side arms are not involved. At some point after legal shoulder contact one player lifts their arm bent 90 degrees at the elbow pushing/lifting/moving the other player away.  The defender or original attacker may or may not retain/gain possession of the ball after the arm movement.  I am interested in both situations.
2) Prior to legal shoulder charge contact the attacker notes the defender closing down and plays the ball to an outside foot to retain possession and assumes a wider stance while lifting the arms bent 90 degrees at the elbow. The defender makes contact, the attacker does not extend the forearm or hands but maintains the elbows out.
3) Same situation as #2, but after the defender makes contact with the attacker¹s arms/bodyŠthe defender lifts their arms in the same manner, but under the attackers arms causing the attacker to lose balance.
4) Two players going after a 50/50 ball make legal shoulder contact and fight for position to gain the ballŠ.in the struggle their near side arms are used to gain an advantage in front of the other player.  How much latitude should be allowed or is it mainly the official¹s interpretation of natural movement vs trying to gain an advantage, guessing at the intent, etcŠto determine if a foul has occurred?

There are of course endless possibilities of combinations.

I can not seem to find clear definitions of what is permitted or not and/or guidelines used to determine a foul, or the extent contact is allowed for age specific groups. (i.e. rec vs select vs high school, college, professional) Any guidelines or example references would be greatly appreciated. I try to start each season by giving examples of what a foul is or is notŠalong with a little Œconduct¹ talk for the parents. But in this caseŠI am not EXACTLY sure on how to interpret the gray areas related to the use of the arms when the intent of the player may not be obvious.

USSF answer (November 28, 2004):
It is a pleasure to hear from a coach who wants his players to play the game correctly. We join with you in hoping that the referees call the game correctly. These guidelines are what referees are taught to call, but some of us become lazy or complacent as we move along in life, and we tend to think we know it all and don’t have to review.

A) There is no other sort of charge than a “shoulder charge”; no hips, no hands, no holds or pushes. A fair charge is shoulder to shoulder, elbows (on the contact side) against the body, with each player having at least one foot on the ground and both attempting to gain control of the ball. The amount of force allowed is relative to the age and experience of the players, but should never be excessive. This is as defined by the referee on the game, not some book definition, adjusted as necessary for the age and experience of the players and what has happened or is happening in this particular game on this particular day at this particular moment. It all boils down to what is best for the referee’s management and the players’ full enjoyment of the game.

Although often overlooked by spectators, it is important to remember that a player’s natural endowments (speed, strength, height, heft, etc.) may be superior to that of the opponent who is competing with that player for the ball. As a completely natural result, the opponent may not only be bested in the challenge but may in fact wind up on the ground‹with no foul having been committed. The mere fact that a player fails in a challenge and falls or is knocked down is what the game is all about (and why coaches must choose carefully in determining which player marks which opponent). Referees do not handicap players by saddling them with artificial responsibilities to be easy on an opponent simply because they are better physically endowed in some way.

Fair charges include actions which do not strictly meet the “shoulder-to-shoulder” requirement when this is not possible because of disparities in height or body type (a common occurrence in youth matches in the early teenage range where growth spurts differ greatly on an individual level within the age group). Additionally, a fair charge can be directed toward the back of the shoulder if the opponent is shielding the ball, provided it is not done dangerously and never to the spinal area.

B) The arms may not be used at all, other than for balance‹which does not include pushing off or holding the opponent.

C) There is no change prior to, during, or after contact.

You should be able to determine the answers to subquestions 1)-3) from the information above.


WAITING FOR THE SIGNAL
Your question:
A free kick has been awarded either direct or indirect. The kicking team asks the referee to enforce the ” ten yard rule.” Does the kicking team then have to wait for a whistle to take the kick?

USSF answer (November 24, 2004):
Yes, the team must wait for the whistle or whatever other signal the referee has instructed them to expect. They have asked the referee for a “ceremonial” free kick, and so must put up with the entire ritual.


‘KEEPER BOBBLES AT OFFSIDE SITUATION
Your question:
If a shot on goal deflects off the keeper’s hands to an opponent in an offside position, the flag should go up. But if the keeper bobbles the ball, or makes the save and then bobbles the ball, and the player in the offside position pounces on it, is this a new play (no flag) or a continuation of the shot-on-goal play (flag goes up)?

USSF answer (November 20, 2004):
You are correct in your first statement. However, if the ‘keeper bobbles the ball, he or she has not established control or possession and the player in the offside position who becomes actively involved should be called offside. If the ‘keeper establishes possession and then bobbles the ball, there is no offside. It is a matter of timing and degree, and the intelligent referee (or assistant referee) will be able to figure it out.


DENIAL OF OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY
Your question:
I addressed the subject question you answered in the Update of February 3, 2004. Specifically, I asked whether it was an offense for a player to grab a goal post to gain a tactical advantage. Your answer, in part, was, “As long as the defender does not use the goal post to support himself or keep his arm on it to bar an opponent from getting through, there is no offense.”

At our Soccer Referee Association meeting last night, the following game situation was posed and discussed:  A corner kick is taken. A defender grabs the goal post and uses it to vault himself up to head the ball away. The defender successfully heads the ball away which otherwise would have entered the upper corner of the goal. The defender does not move the goal itself, does not interfere with an attacker in front of the goal, and does not otherwise commit an offense.

In discussing this game situation, I brought up the Ask a Referee Q & A which I cited above in stating that I believed that the defender’s action constituted misconduct (USB) and should be cautioned and the game restarted with an IFK for the attacking team.

However, another member thought that if the ball was, in the referee’s judgment, headed into the goal but for the defender heading it away, that such conduct constituted a Sending-Off Offense (denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent moving toward the goal by committing an offense punishable by a free kick or penalty kick) and that the defender should be sent off and a penalty kick awarded.

As to this opinion, two of the three elements of this Sending-Off Offense apparently have been satisfied in that there was an obvious goal scoring opportunity and the commission of an offense punishable by a free kick.

However, the issue is whether or not the element of this Sending-Off Offense requiring that an obvious goal scoring opportunity be denied _to an opponent moving toward the goal_ has been met. In other words, can the attacker taking the corner kick be considered as “moving toward the goal?” As a related question, in terms of the analysis of this element of this Sending-Off Offense, in identifying the attacker moving toward the goal, must it be the attacker who last touched the ball prior to the offense?

USSF answer (November 20, 2004):
A very interesting question and a point we had not considered before. Thank you for this opportunity.

On the one hand, the Law requires that the opponent, not the ball, be moving toward the goal for there to have been a denial of a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity through an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick. Therefore, despite the fact that the defender committed unsporting behavior by using the goal post as an artificial support, which is an offense punishable by a free kick, the defender has not denied the opposing kicker a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity within the meaning of the Law through this unsporting act.

On the other hand, the Law does not require that the player denied the goal or goalscoring opportunity must have been the last to play the ball, nor that any player on that team have been the last to play the ball. In this case, if the defender had to raise himself high enough to head the ball away through the use of the goal post, it is unlikely that an opponent might have raised himself high enough without that aid to play the ball.

The decision in cases like this must rest with the referee on the spot, as only that referee can judge whether conditions were correct.


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER
Your question:
Defense plays ball back to goalie, goalie picks up ball,this is an indirect because it is inside 18. The ball is closer to the goal than 10 yd. Where could the defenders stand?

USSF answer (November 11, 2004):
No nearer to the ball than the nearest spot on the goal line, between the goal posts, yet still on the field.


BALL DELIBERATELY KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER; FIELD MARKINGS
Your question:
I have two questions:
1.A defender plays the ball deliberately with their foot from their own penalty area to the side of the goal, possibly with the intention of sending the ball out of the penalty area to avoid a situation with an offensive player and incurring a corner kick. But then the goalkeeper runs and catches the ball within the penalty area to the side of the goal. I assert that Paragraph 12.20 of “Advice to Referees” clearly indicates this should be an IFK, but other “senior” referees assert that no infraction has occurred, and to whistle an infraction is against the “Spirit of the Laws” since the ball was not played to the goalkeeper.

2. The goal line between the goal posts is offset forward from the goal posts. I have seen this be as little as 1-2 inches to as much as 1-2 feet,and wascaused by an untrained line painter avoiding the goal posts. I assert that a goal should be judged in close situations either by the referee or the ARby the goal posts, not the goal line, even if the offset is only an inch. And I assert that the opposing team captains and coaches should be informed of this guideline prior to the start of the game. Are these assertions correct?

USSF answer (November 10, 2004):
1. The decision on whether kicked passes to the goalkeeper are deliberate or not always rests with the referee on the spot. While we do not necessarily agree with the “senior referees,” it is safe to say that this possible infringement may be ignored if it is truly trifling.

2. Marking the field is the responsibility of the home team. Any problems should be included in the referee’s match report. If the goal lines are off by as much as you suggest, the game should not be started until the situation has been remedied in one way or another, possibly by removing the false line and replacing it with a correct one. If all else fails, play the game, but remember that to be scored as a goal, the ball must cross the goal line BETWEEN THE GOAL POSTS AND BENEATH THE CROSSBAR, not 1-2 inches or 1-2 feet out from them.


USE OF THE ADVANTAGE; SCREAMING COACHES
Your question:
I was watching a U13 Girls game yesterday and the following occurred. White was attacking Blue’s goal when a Blue player handled the ball in the box. The CR did not immediately call the foul, but after a few seconds, the ball was kicked over the end line, at which time the CR called the handling foul and gave White a PK. White subsequently scored resulting in a 1-1 tie.…

2004 Part 3

SLIDE TACKLING
Your question:
Is there an official US Soccer position regarding slide tackling in youth play? It seems many players are not trained to do it, increasing the potential for an injury.

How does position affect whether a foul occurred ­ is it a foul if from behind where the player cannot see it coming? If the sliding player hits the player with the ball regardless of position (from front or behind) ­ is it a foul? Does hitting ball matter as to whether a foul occurred? Does hitting the ball first and then the player lessen any foul? If the cleats are pointing forward towards the player with the ball as the tackle is made – is that automatically a foul?

I look forward to your reply. USSF answer (September 29, 2004): What follows is what we teach our referees. Unfortunately, that does not always mean that they put it into practice correctly. Cleats exposed and pointing at someone should be considered dangerous play where younger, less skilled players are involved. At higher competitive levels, the referee should determine if the player is exposing the cleats to intimidate or cause injury to an opponent.

A slide tackle is legal, provided it is performed legally. There is nothing illegal about a slide tackle by itself‹no matter where it is done and no matter the direction from which it comes. In other words, it is not an infringement to tackle fairly from behind‹if there was no foul committed.

There is nothing illegal, by itself, about sliding tackles or playing the ball while on the ground. These acts become the indirect free kick foul known as playing dangerously (“dangerous play”) only if the action unfairly takes away an opponent’s otherwise legal play of the ball (for players at the youth level, this definition is simplified even more as “playing in a manner considered to be dangerous to an opponent”). At minimum, this means that an opponent must be within the area of danger which the player has created. These same acts can become the direct free kick fouls known as kicking or attempting to kick an opponent or tripping or attempting to trip or tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball only if there was contact with the opponent or, in the opinion of the referee, the opponent was forced to react to avoid the kick or the trip. The referee may warn players about questionable acts of play on the ground, but would rarely caution a player unless the act was reckless.

How can tackles become illegal? There are many ways but two of the most common are by making contact with the opponent first (before contacting the ball) and by striking the opponent with a raised upper leg before, during, or after contacting the ball with the lower leg. Referees must be vigilant and firm in assessing any tackle, because the likely point of contact is the lower legs of the opponent and this is a particularly vulnerable area. We must not be swayed by protests of “But I got the ball, ref” and we must be prepared to assess the proper penalty for misconduct where that is warranted.

FIFA has emphasized the great danger in slide tackles from behind because, if this tackle is not done perfectly, the potential for injury is so much greater. Accordingly, referees are advised that, when a player does commit a foul while tackling from behind, it should not be just a simple foul (e.g., tripping) but a foul and misconduct. The likelihood of danger is greater when the tackle is committed from behind and the probability of a foul having been committed is greater solely for this reason — due in large part to the “can’t prepare for the tackle” element when it comes from an unseen direction. In fact, if the referee decides that the foul while tackling from behind was done in such a way as to endanger the safety of the opponent, the proper action is to send the violator off the field with a red card.

The referee must judge each situation of a tackle from behind individually, weighing the guidelines published by FIFA and the U. S. Soccer Federation, the positions of the players, the way the tackler uses his/her foot or feet, the “temperature” of the game, the age/skill of the players, and the attitude of the players. What might be a caution (yellow card) in this game might be trifling in another game or a send-off (red card) in a third game. To make the proper judgment on such plays, the referee must establish early on a feel for the game being played on this day at this moment and must be alert to sudden changes in the “temperature” of this game. Much depends on the level of play, whether recreational or competitive, skilled or less developed, very young or adult. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.


IS THIS TOUCH LEGAL?
Your question:
Player A makes a throw in. Player B passes the ball back to player A. Player A is still outside the touchline and he plays the ball to keep it from crossing the line. Did player A illegally touch the ball the second time? If so, would it have been legal for Player A to touch the ball if he was standing on the touch line instead of outside the touch line?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
This play is legal because, having thrown the ball in, A has not touched it again directly (B’s touch intervened) and it is also legal because A’s play of the ball was on the field even if most of the rest of him was not. Player A is then expected to return fully to the field as quickly as possible.


NO “COUNTDOWN” ALLOWED!
Your question:
My son plays in a youth league. The ref in the game, as a courtesy, counts down the final ten seconds of the game. A player on my son’s team, on a breakaway, launches a powerful kick from 40 yards out while the ref’s countdown is between 1 and 2. The ball goes in, over the out stretched hands of the goalie. However, the goal was disallowed because the ref said the ball crossed the goal line after the clock ended. If this is true, what would have happened if there was a penalty on the play? I guess that I am used to basketball (where as long as the shot left the player’s hands before the buzzer) or if the quarterback throws a pass that is caught in the end zone after time is expired, it stills counts as being good. I realize that if a defender stopped it and we kicked in the rebound, it should not count. But if the ball is in the air (untouched) why are we being penalized for 1 or two seconds on the clock? In addition, this was the head referee who either had to be watching his watch to count down correctly, therefore not seeing the play, or not watching his watch and just counting down. What is the correct ruling? I have been a coach for 10 years now, and I have never seen this play. It occurs to me that in most major games with injury time (not the case in this youth league); the referees tend to end the game when there is still some threat to score. Once that threat ends, THEN they end the game. I’ve never seen a major soccer game that ends as one player has a clear breakaway with no one between him and the goalie, because time ran out.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Courtesy has nothing to do with it; the referee should not be counting aloud the time remaining in a match. There is too much chance that something will occur, even in the “final” second, that could extend the game. (Now, if the game were being played under high school rules, with an official timekeeper and a field clock visible to all, the answer would be different.)

Under the Laws of the Game, the game ends when the referee deems it to have ended, whether the ball is in the air or on the ground. However, the wise referee will recognize that ending the game when a shot is being taken is a sure way to create trouble for oneself. We have only to think of the FIFA Referee who, during a 1978 World Cup match, blew the whistle just before the ball entered the goal totally uncontested from a corner kick by Brazil. The referee, widely experienced and not near the mandatory retirement age, never received another assignment from FIFA.


GOALKEEPER DOWN
Your question:
Situation: A competitive Youth match — A forward is approaching the goal and defender is at their side. The keeper approaches to make a play. The keeper makes a good play on the ball but the keeper and forward collide. The ball rebounds and stays in play. While the ball rebounds and during the keeper/forward collision, the keeper is shaken up (not faking it) and lies still on the ground. The keeper is not obviously hurt — no blood showing, no obvious broken bones, so no immediate need to stop the match for a serious injury. The ball rebounds off several players and within a few seconds (say < 5 seconds) another attacker kicks the ball into the goal.

What is the letter and then also the spirit of the law in this situation? Should the referee allow play to continue, as they would most likely do if a field player was shaken up? Or is the letter and spirit of the law such that it says a team must have a keeper and since the keeper is shaken up, lying on the ground and not trying to get up to make another save or trying to keep the rebounding ball from entering the goal, the team really does not have a keeper. In the later, the should the referee really stop the match — due to the fact the team, in essence, does not have a keeper?

Appreciate your perspective. The question is, when a keeper is shaken up and not playing as a keeper because they are lying on the ground, what is the advice for referees — to stop play or to keep play going (as we would do with a field player shaken up) until the play is neutralized and then stop the match.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Law 3 requires that each team must have a goalkeeper, but there is no requirement that the goalkeeper always be on the field of play or in an upright position. While we generally give goalkeepers the benefit of the doubt in case of injury–to wit, they do not have to leave the field when being treated for injury–neither are referees required to stop the game for anything other than serious injury. However, some consideration must be given for the age and skill level of the players. The intelligent referee will apply common sense to each individual situation.


PLAYER ON THE GROUND
Your question:
A player accedentially falls to the ground with the ball next to them. An opponent attempts to play the ball, while the player on the ground is attempting (unsuccessfully) to get up (still on ground). The player on the ground is kicked by the opponent. Is the call dangerous play on the player on the ground, or is it a penal foul for the opponent that kicked him?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
If the player on the ground is truly attempting to get up and out of the way of other players, and is not deliberately interfering with the opponent who is trying to kick the ball, then the referee should call kicking on the opponent; the restart is a direct free kick for the team of the player on the ground. However, if, in the opinion of the referee, the player on the ground is deliberately interfering with the opponent’s ability to play the ball, that player should be cautioned for unsporting behavior and the restart will be an indirect free kick for the opponent’s team.

And please note that it is perfectly legal to play the ball while on the ground, as long as no player is put in danger.


PLAYERS OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY
Your question:
Two relatively similar situations. In the first, two players from the team taking the kick are both completely off the field. One of the players taps the ball, the other player starts dribbling toward the goal. Is this a legal play. Should the second player be cautioned for illegally entering the field of play, since his leaving the field is not in the normal course? The second situation is similar, except that one of the players is on the field and taps the ball. The other one who was off the field dribbles toward the goal. I’m guessing that the answer is the same.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
While there are a number of occasions during which a player may be off the field of play without the permission of the referee, there is no need in the cases you describe for more than one player to be off the field to put the ball back into play. Neither is there any need for either of the players to be cautioned, provided the referee exercises common sense and suggests that the player return to the field NOW if he or she wishes to avoid the consequences.

Yes, it is perfectly legitimate for one player to simply tap the ball and for the other to begin dribbling toward the goal. In the second instance, there was no need for the second player to have been off the field. The referee should have acted to prevent this.


SUB REMOVED BY REFEREE MAY BE USED LATER
Your question:
An answer posted in July (see “PLAYER ALLOWED TO STAY ON AFTER SECOND CAUTION; WHAT TO DO?,” dated 28 July 2004) asks whether the substitute removed from the game after it was discovered that the player for whom he had been substituted should have been sent off because of a second caution may enter the game at a later substitution opportunity.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Yes, the substitute who was removed may be used as a substitute later in the game.


LEAVING THE GAME WITHOUT PERMISSION
Your question:
Quick Question … U13 Rec, 11v11, full field, 35 minute halves … gold vs green … about 20 minutes into the first half … play was stopped for a throw-in for gold … as I [cr] was moving into position for the throw-in I noticed a gold player at the line and ar1 signaling for a substitution … so far so good .. then, ar1 pointed across the field toward ar2 … he was standing at attention with his flag straight up … I asked the sub to stand @ the line and the thrower to hold the ball … ar2 informed me that a gold player had left the field .. where? … there! … and he pointed to the parking lot at the far end of the field where a player with a gold jersey was leaving the park … the player did not return … how should I have handled this? .. leaving the field w/o the referee’s permission is a yellow card offense, but there was no one to card.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Not a problem! Technically the referee should imply write up the infringement and include it in the match report, and let the team officials know this is being done. However, with youth players there is always the possibility that “Mom” has come and taken “Sonny” or “Sis” away for another family event, so the referee should inquire before taking drastic action.


MISCONDUCT AFTER THE GAME IS OVER
Your question:
In regards to the new prohibition on the display of cards after a match, what is the proper procedure by which to deal with post-game misconduct? Specifically, what are you to do when a player commits a sending-off offense? Are we to withold his player pass, as we would for a send-off during the game?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
The referee may no longer show the card after the game has ended, but the rest of the procedure remains the same: Note the player’s name, team, number, time, offense, etc., and write it up for the match report. Whatever other things are required by the competition for a send-off or caution should also be done. Just don’t show the card.


FOOLISH REFEREES AND BOORISH COACHES
Your question:
What is the appropriate way to question the legitimacy of a goal during a game? We were involved in a game where the winning goal was scored on a handball which the referee did not see but the linesmand called it. The referee called goal…then no goal after the linesman called the hand ball…. then goal again after the opposing coach ran out onto the field and told the ref that he could not change his initial call of goal no matter what. We stayed on our line and did not know what to do.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
There is no appropriate way to question the legitimacy of any call by the referee during the game. The referee should have consulted with his assistant referee (aka “linesman”) and based the final decision on that information. The fact that the referee then once again changed the decision because the other coach said that a decision once made cannot be changed was a deplorable error and mistake. Unfortunately, once the game was restarted with a kick-off, no further change was possible.

We apologize to you for this foolish behavior by the referee. There’s not much we can do about the boorishness of the opposing coach.


INADVERTENT WHISTLE–USE YOUR HEAD, REF!
Your question:
U9 boys travel game: The whistle was blown inadvertently while a player is dribbling the ball unchallenged down the field. The ref immediately says “my mistake play.” (The ball was still in the field of play.) Play continues for about 1 minute and a goal is scored. The coach who had the goal scored against him argues that the goal should not be allowed because the referee didn’t “drop the ball” after the inadvertent whistle. The referee reversed the goal.
1. Since the referee would have the option of returning a drop ball to the sole possession of the team the whistle effected, and then let play continue for the amount of time it continued one could argue the goal should be allowed.
2. The other coach argued that in wasn’t a drop ball so the later goal should not be allowed.

What would your advice be in this situation.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Whether or not a goal was “scored” and then taken away makes no difference. (No goal is possible under these circumstances unless the referee has compounded the error by allowing the game to be restarted with a kick-off.) The only possible thing for the referee to do once he or she has blown the whistle inadvertently is to restart with a dropped ball. The drop would be taken at the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.


PROPER KICK-OFF
Your question:
I got a question regarding the execution of a Kick-off. This happenend in a High School game. The Referee starts the game and blows the whistle. The player who takes the Kick Off has one foot on the ball. She pushes the ball forward but still keeps the foot on the ball. So the ball is kicked and moves forward which normally constitutes a legal Kick-Off. But now she passes the ball back to a teammate who is standing on her side of the field. She never took her foot of the ball until she played it to her teammate. The referee let this happen because he didn’t know what to do about it but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong. We were talking about that situation in one of our referee meetings and I heard all different answers like “two-touch” or “Illegal Kick-off”. In my opinion this is trickery which should be penalized with a caution and an IDF. Mabe you can give a answer to that matter.

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game, the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward. In addition, the kicker may not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player. “Kick” means to impel the ball with the foot and then release it; it does not mean to roll the ball with the foot on top of the ball. The “kick-off” you describe was not properly taken and should have been called back and retaken. There is no requirement for a caution.


AGE DATES FOR YOUTH COMPETITION
Your question:
Who decides the age/ birth date cutoff dates? National or State or Local Associations? Where can I go to find the ages for the age brackets?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
All of the above, depending on the particular competition. For national data, check with USYS at usyouthsoccer.org. For state data, check with your state association (whose Internet data you can find at the USYS site). For local data, check with your local association or club.


BLAZING CARDS!
Your question:
In a youth league, can a referee give a yellow card to a coach because the coach and substitue players are closer then 1 yard from the side lines ?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game the referee may not show a card to any coach. On the other hand, the rules of some competition do permit this, just as some competitions limit how close the non-playing personnel and team officials may be to the touch line. The referee should always seek to avoid giving cards to anyone if there is another way to solve the problem without sacrificing good game management. One good way to do that is to advise the team officials of the rule of the competition, rather than rushing in with cards ablaze.


RULES FOR UNDER 8S
Your question:
Are all fouls committed in the penalty box by the defense taking from the spot of the foul as indirect kicks?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
According to the rules adopted by the USYS for 2004, Law 12, “all fouls shall result in a direct free kick.” In addition, Law 13, “all kicks are direct and all opponents are at least four (4) yards from the ball until it is in play.” There is no penalty kick in Under 8 soccer.

Local rules might be different. You will have to check with your local competition.


USING THE ADVANTAGE CLAUSE
Your question:
Last night while calling a highschool game, an attacking player beat the defending team’s sweeper (3 feet outside the penalty box), the sweeper seeing that he is beaten throws his hip into the attacking player taking the attacking player off his feet. At the same moment the Attacking player’s teammate (Outside midfielder) runs onto the ball in the “box” and regains the advantage and subsequently miss handles the ball out of play. What is the right decision for the referee?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
The “right decision” is to make a decision. Award the advantage for the “hip throw”–advantage sustained long enough (2-3 seconds)–teammate with the ball subsequently doesn’t score, but not as a result of the original foul. The only remaining question would be whether the “hip throw” was reckless or performed with excessive force and therefore cardable at the next stoppage.


PROPER MECHANICS ON A GOAL SCORED
Your question:
There was a shot on goal, it bounced off goalie’s arms and slowly heading into the goal net, the goalie turned and dive toward the ball at about waist height and grabbed the ball, threw the ball back into field of play, the goalie’s teammate kicked the ball upfield right away.

The center ref was not sure the ball had passed the plane of goalie line, so he looked at the AR, and the AR was running toward the upfield, the center ref thought the AR’s running was just keeping up with the ball movement and hence no call was made. Later the AR told the center ref the ball did break the plane and his run toward upfield was to indicate a goal.

So my question is, should the center ref stopped the play to ask the AR and resume the play with an drop kick if it was not a goal, or the AR shall flag the center ref to verbally communicate the call for goal?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
Correct procedure for the lead assistant referee when a goal is scored and the ball returns to the field is to raise the flag vertically to get the referee¹s attention. When the referee stops play, the lead AR puts flag straight down, runs a short distance up the touch line toward the halfway line to affirm that a goal has been scored. The lead AR then takes up the position for a kick-off and then records the goal after the trail assistant referee has recorded it.

If this procedure (from the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees” 2004) had been followed, there would not have been any problem.


AR POSITIONING AND MECHANICS
Your question:
A team took a shot on the opposing teams goalie and the goalie stopped it near the line. The center looked at the AR to see if it was a goal but there was no signal at that time mainly due to the fact that the AR was 25-30 yards from the end line. The goalie then played the ball out to a team mate which then passed it to another team mate. After 25-30 seconds after the goalie “saved” the ball the AR then raised his flag and signaled that it was a goal. I know if the ball had been kicked out of bounds and a stoppage of play took place and then a restart occurred then the goal would not have counted. So my question then becomes what is the correct course of action or was that the correct course?

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
According to the information you supplied, the assistant referee was in no position to make the call. Therefore no decision other than whether or not to “score the goal” should or could have been made. The answer is no goal. We are prepared to join the party to tar and feather the AR.


NO OFFSIDE, BUT POSSIBLE IMPEDING
Your question:
Corner kick, player in offside position in front of GK (player on goal line and corner kick with ball 1 yd off goal line). Ball kicked directly into goal. However, player in offside position interfered with play by screening keeper. A clear offside violation if restart was DFK near corner.

Exception in Law 11 is when “player receives ball directly from” Goal Kick, Throw In or Corner Kick. Here player never received ball but violated another aspect of the offside law. My first thought is guilty – but ???????

USSF answer (September 28, 2004):
The player in this situation may not be punished for infringing any aspect of Law 11, as it is impossible to be offside directly from a corner kick. However, it is an offense if the player who is standing in front of a goalkeeper when a corner kick is being taken takes advantage of the position to impede the goalkeeper before the kick is taken and before the ball is in play. And, even if the referee is so naive as to fail to deal with that offense, a player who impedes the goalkeeper’s ability to play the ball, without attempting to play the ball himself, must be punished by the award of an indirect free kick for the goalkeeper’s team.


SLIDE TACKLING
Your question:
Is there an official US Soccer position regarding slide tackling in youth play? It seems many players are not trained to do it, increasing the potential for an injury.

How does position affect whether a foul occurred ­ is it a foul if from behind where the player cannot see it coming? If the sliding player hits the player with the ball regardless of position (from front or behind) ­ is it a foul? Does hitting ball matter as to whether a foul occurred? Does hitting the ball first and then the player lessen any foul? If the cleats are pointing forward towards the player with the ball as the tackle is made – is that automatically a foul?

I look forward to your reply. USSF answer (September 29, 2004): What follows is what we teach our referees. Unfortunately, that does not always mean that they put it into practice correctly. Cleats exposed and pointing at someone should be considered dangerous play where younger, less skilled players are involved. At higher competitive levels, the referee should determine if the player is exposing the cleats to intimidate or cause injury to an opponent.

A slide tackle is legal, provided it is performed legally. There is nothing illegal about a slide tackle by itself‹no matter where it is done and no matter the direction from which it comes. In other words, it is not an infringement to tackle fairly from behind‹if there was no foul committed.

There is nothing illegal, by itself, about sliding tackles or playing the ball while on the ground. These acts become the indirect free kick foul known as playing dangerously (“dangerous play”) only if the action unfairly takes away an opponent’s otherwise legal play of the ball (for players at the youth level, this definition is simplified even more as “playing in a manner considered to be dangerous to an opponent”). At minimum, this means that an opponent must be within the area of danger which the player has created. These same acts can become the direct free kick fouls known as kicking or attempting to kick an opponent or tripping or attempting to trip or tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball only if there was contact with the opponent or, in the opinion of the referee, the opponent was forced to react to avoid the kick or the trip. The referee may warn players about questionable acts of play on the ground, but would rarely caution a player unless the act was reckless.

How can tackles become illegal? There are many ways but two of the most common are by making contact with the opponent first (before contacting the ball) and by striking the opponent with a raised upper leg before, during, or after contacting the ball with the lower leg. Referees must be vigilant and firm in assessing any tackle, because the likely point of contact is the lower legs of the opponent and this is a particularly vulnerable area. We must not be swayed by protests of “But I got the ball, ref” and we must be prepared to assess the proper penalty for misconduct where that is warranted.

FIFA has emphasized the great danger in slide tackles from behind because, if this tackle is not done perfectly, the potential for injury is so much greater. Accordingly, referees are advised that, when a player does commit a foul while tackling from behind, it should not be just a simple foul (e.g., tripping) but a foul and misconduct. The likelihood of danger is greater when the tackle is committed from behind and the probability of a foul having been committed is greater solely for this reason — due in large part to the “can’t prepare for the tackle” element when it comes from an unseen direction. In fact, if the referee decides that the foul while tackling from behind was done in such a way as to endanger the safety of the opponent, the proper action is to send the violator off the field with a red card.

The referee must judge each situation of a tackle from behind individually, weighing the guidelines published by FIFA and the U. S. Soccer Federation, the positions of the players, the way the tackler uses his/her foot or feet, the “temperature” of the game, the age/skill of the players, and the attitude of the players. What might be a caution (yellow card) in this game might be trifling in another game or a send-off (red card) in a third game. To make the proper judgment on such plays, the referee must establish early on a feel for the game being played on this day at this moment and must be alert to sudden changes in the “temperature” of this game. Much depends on the level of play, whether recreational or competitive, skilled or less developed, very young or adult. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.


NEW GOLD SHIRT?
Your question:
I have seen new gold referee shirts with checks available. Are they authorized for use?

USSF answer (September 20, 2004):
No, those shirts are not approved.…

2004 Part 2

NO HIP CHECKING ALLOWED [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Is hip checking legal while two players are running down the field, competing for the ball?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
“Hip checking” in any form is never legal. There are not two sets of rules, one for men and one for women. A fair charge is shoulder to shoulder, not hip to hip. Laying hands on the other player’s hips, as in basketball, is considered to be either pushing or holding and is also not legal.


STICK TO THE LAWS OF THE GAME [LAW 18]
Your question:
I was reffing a U-19 boys game. Team A had a full roster of players but Team B played with 8 field players plus a Goalkeeper. With about 15 minutes remaining in the second half Team B was down 8-1. By the way they were playing you could tell that they did not care about the match anymore.  A good amount players and coach asked me to stop the match. As a referee is it my decision to stop a match for the respect of the game? Should I talk to the coaches and see if they have a problem? What should I do in this situation?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
If this were a match in competitive play (but not recreational), the answer is no, the referee may not stop play, shorten the half, or shorten the game length overall under these circumstances.

However, if the match were recreational and it was clear that one or both teams were no longer interested in competing, the referee could inform the coaches that play would have to be stopped if either team failed to field the minimum number of players (7 in most cases). The referee would have to provide details in the game report and the competition authority would have to decide the outcome, but at least the teams would have found a way out of their difficulties.

The difference between these two situations is that, in competitive play, it would be entirely inappropriate and unprofessional for the referee to offer such information (unless specifically asked).


TO TERMINATE OR NOT TO TERMINATE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
In a Latino match, a player in the second half Struck the referee after being sent off for violent conduct. The referee was not badly injured and was able to finish out the game. In this event, would you just abandon the game at that point? Or would you continue the match to the end?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
The primary concern for the referee under such conditions is to determine if the match could continue without endangering the safety of all participants, including the officials. In all events, the referee must submit full details in the match report. The type of competition and the ethnicity of the players make absolutely no difference.


DIAGONAL VS. DUAL SYSTEM [LAW 5; LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
Due to limited funds (we are told), our local Comp. Soccer group will only pay for one center and one AR per game. I have been told that we may not use a dual center system due to 1) Not USSF sanctioned and 2) Against USSF insurance. We have used Dual Centers in our High School games and really enjoy having the chance to work ARs in center position for experience plus having the extra eyes and control on field.

So what can be done to help move such a limited funded Comp. league or the USSF to sanction dual centers? Or what is the real story?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
This answer of May 2003 may provide some guidance. Because your competition is “competitive,” it must assign three officials to the game if it is affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation through any member organization (USASA, USYS, AYSO, SAY). One possibility not mentioned here is assigning one referee, one assistant referee, and having a volunteer club linesman (who is permitted to indicate only that the ball is out of play and can offer no other assistance to the referee).

START LENGTHY QUOTE
USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
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. You can find the information you need in the Referee Administrative Handbook:
QUOTE
POLICY:

Systems of Officiating 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 national competitions sponsored by the U.S. Soccer Federation. require the use of this officiating system.

In order to comply with the Laws of the Game which have been adopted by the National Council, all soccer games sanctioned directly or indirectly by member organizations of the U. S. Soccer Federation must employ the diagonal system (three officials). As a matter of policy, the National Referee Committee prefers the following alternatives in order of preference:

1. One Federation referee and two Federation referees as assistant referees (the standard ALL organizations should strive to meet).

2. One Federation referee and two assistant referees, one of whom is a Federation referee and one of whom is a trainee of the local referee program.

3. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are both unrelated to either team participating in the game but are not Federation referees, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).

4. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are not both Federation referees and who are affiliated with the participating teams, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).

Member organizations and their affiliates should make every effort to assist in recruiting officials so that enough Federation referees will be available to permit use of the diagonal officiating system for ALL their competitions.
END OF QUOTE

If only two officials turn up at the field, one must be the referee (with the whistle), while the other becomes an assistant referee (outside the field with the flag). They split the field between them, but only one may make the final decisions and blow the whistle.
END LENGTHY QUOTE


DETERMINING POSITION FOR RESTART ON OFFSIDE [LAW 11; LAW 18]
Your question:
From “Questions and Answers to the Laws of the Game”:
Law 11 – Offside
5. A player moving quickly toward his opponent’s goal is penalized for an offside offense. From what position is the resulting indirect kick taken?
The kick is taken from his position when the ball was last played to him by one of his teammates.

My question: The correction position for an AR while the ball is in play is even with the second-to-last defender or the ball, whichever is closer to the goals line. What are the proper mechanics to indicate the offside infraction and then to indicate the proper position of the resulting indirect kick when the distance between the original AR’s position and the offending attacker is significant?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
After giving the proper flag signal to the referee to indicate the area of the field, the assistant referee (AR) may then indicate to the kicking team approximately where the offending player was when the player’s teammate last played the ball.

Indicating the location of the restart is not among the AR’s responsibilities under Law 6. Whether the AR supplies such information and how such information is supplied should be determined by the referee and discussed in the pregame. In general, however, indicating the location of the restart after an offside decision should not detract from the AR’s other duties–particularly the need to be in the proper position for the restart itself.


RUNNING THE BALL TO THE GOAL LINE [LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
My question deals with when an AR makes the signal for a goal kick or corner kick. Is it when they know who last touched the ball or must they run to the corner before they can signal? I was told this weekend by a referee who has been to several national referee camps that she was told that the AR cannot signal until they reach the corner flag. Thus, when the AR is positioned correctly, even with the second to last defender, at the 25 yard line and a hard shot is taken, the referee if not sure who touched it last, must wait until the AR reaches the corner and signals. This can take a couple of seconds and the players look to the referee to make the call. Having to wait the second or two results in the referee looking indecisive — not being able to make up his mind.

The referee insisted that this is the correct procedure even though she couldn’t show it to me in the procedures handbook. I contacted my SRA and he said that there is no reason for the AR to wait until they reach the corner to make the signal. She still insisted that the AR has to continue to the corner flag and then make the signal, because that is what they were taught at the national camp.

I’m also an USSF instructor and have seen nothing concerning a change in the procedures that we are to teach. Could you please clarify this for me? This is the second referee this spring that has mentioned this new (?) procedure.

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
Theoretically, the assistant referee (AR) is expected to run each and every ball all the way to the goal line. Why? To ensure that it is not touched by the goalkeeper before it leaves the field or that it does not stop on the way, becoming playable by others. However, practicality is a different matter: the AR stops on the line as soon as it becomes obvious that the ball has left the field and that a goal kick is the restart, signals the restart at the location (maybe several yards up from the goal line), and then, once the referee has responded appropriately, begins to take the position set forth in the Guide to Procedures for a goal kick restart.


CELEBRATING THE SCORING OF A GOAL [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
With the advent of the new FIFA guidance on removing of shirts (and I was pleased to see MLS enforcement in the 6/5 Dallas-Metrostars game) led me to question some of the actions we do see, at all levels. I have also seen and admit doing some of my own interpretation relative to taunting [or] unsporting behavior. At different levels of play we judge the actions accordingly. However, rather than doing my own interpretation, does USSF have published guidance beyond time wasting? I’ll provide some examples below and other than “inappropriate behavior” (I recall the leg-lift example at a corner flag), any other guidance would be welcomed.

a) Recognizing the joy of scoring, it is easy to excuse some celebration but where do we draw line? Personally, I don’t like the demonstrations where a player runs to a corner and points to the stands, but seems to be acceptable. b) Team celebration — congratulations directed to the goal scorer and the assistance definitely is in order. Team “staged” celebrations is a bit much and again what is appropriate. I have witnessed a very respected center official issue a USB Yellow to the team captain for a staged event and NFHS has indicated that this is a form of taunting. c) Individual “staged” celebration — this comes very close to a team staged event, but I have seen defenders do cartwheels as part of goal celebration. Again, another official decided to give the coach a warning (not a caution) about the team taunting their opponent. Later, in the same game, the defenders apparently didn’t get the word and the captain was given a card. I later learned that the coach was also written up for USB.

Naturally, we all have seen behavior that simply is ignored. If the celebration tends to be directed toward the goal scorer and is not consuming an inordinate amount time, I am quite comfortable with back-pedaling to my center position and simply observe. I am also quite comfortable of quietly suggesting we continue and believe I can rightly judge taunting from the celebration. However, the staged events seem to cross the line and hope to find some guidance to share with my local association as well as use for myself. Thanks.

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
As of July 1, 2004, a player must be cautioned for unsporting behavior when he completely removes his shirt over his head. Celebrating a goal is an accepted part of soccer. A caution is only warranted if a player gives an excessive demonstration of jubilation: by removing his shirt (as of July 1, 2004), jumping over the boundary fence, gesticulating at his opponents or spectators, ridiculing them by pointing to his shirt, or similar provocative action.

Nowhere in the Laws of the Game do we find anything about team cautions or cautioning the captain for the team’s misdoings. There is certainly nothing about cautioning the coach, who is either dismissed for irresponsible behavior or warned or ignored. Those are concepts from high school soccer, which is not played according to the Laws of the Game.


OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Now the question I am asking happened in a u-10 rec game but it never the less made me think what would I call if it happened in a adult game or u-15 game. I have been looking in the advice to referees book and found the examples of obvious goal scoring opportunities but not if it isn’t a obvious opportunity i the box. The situation was: The player was going sideways in the box with the intentions of getting by the traffic then being able to turn and shoot to the goal, about twenty feet out, with lots of players in between. Now I have learned that because their is more than one defender between the person with the ball and the goal so I know that it’s not a send off. The defender reaches out from behind the offensive player with the ball and pulls on the back of his shirt to slow him down, so he can’t get around to get a shot off. I didn’t give a caution because it wasn’t a goal scoring opportunity, in my opinion, allthough if he hadn’t been slowed down he would have made the turn and got a nice shot off without any players except the keeper in the way. Should I have given a Penalty kick for the holding because it happened in the box?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
First things first: Please remember that there is no such thing as a caution for attempting to deny an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

Without getting fully into the 4Ds and the other details of dealing with obvious goalscoring opportunities, it is clear that because of the presence of another defender, there was no obvious opportunity. However, despite the lack of an obvious goalscoring opportunity, the referee may still deal with player misconduct. Blatant holding, such as you describe, is unsporting behavior and requires a caution and yellow card. The referee should caution the player and then award the penalty kick for the holding in the penalty area.


GOAL OR NOT? [LAW 10; LAW 18]
Your question:
In a recent local Under 12 match, a Grade 8 referee pressed into service as a last hour fill-in did not check the position of the goals prior to the match. They were placed several feet back of the end line. During the match, a shot from outside the penalty area entered the net. The defending team complained that the ball was out of bounds. Upon closer inspection, the referee realized that the goal was not at the goal line, and for the ball to cross in front of the uprights it had to be out of bounds. The referee disallowed the goal based on the perceived angle from which the shot was taken and restarted with a goal kick after moving the goal to the correct position. Correct call or no?

USSF answer (June 15, 2004):
Call correct. The ball had left the field and was thus out of play before it was shot. No goal; restart with goal kick–provided the attacking team had last played the ball before it went over the goal line. However, that does not excuse the referee’s major error in not doing his or her duties before the game. No matter when called into service, the referee must conduct a full inspection of the field and its appurtenances.


REFEREE BADGES [ADMIN]
Your question:
Why are there not different badges for the intermediate grade levels such as Grade 7 and Grade 5?

USSF answer (June 14, 2004):
There are not different badges because the various titles are set up as two different grades of the same classification. For example, 8 and 7 are both referee classifications (Referee Class 2 and Referee Class 1 are both “referees”), 6 and 5 (State Referee Class 2 and State Referee Class 1) are both state referee classifications and for that matter, 4 and 3 are both national referee classifications. The referee committee has reviewed this suggestion in the past and it has been decided that we already order enough different badges. The more sorts of badges increases the possibility that someone is going to get the wrong one. The important thing here is the role the grades play in the upgrade process–being better able to identify what referees are where–not what kind of badge they have.


GETTING THE REQUIRED DISTANCE [LAW 13; LAW 18]
Your question:
As I understand it, a free kick awarded to a team is a kick to be taken “free of interference” hence the mandatory minimum 10 yards distance. Teams rarely give the required distance sometime until the offended teams demanded it. Whenever I am required to enforce the minimum distance, I usually give 12 to 13 yards from the spot of the ball. I based my rationale on the fact that the requirement calls for “at least” 10 yards (it can be any distance but not less that 10yards), and also that the teams should further be penalized for not giving the automatic 10 yards minimum required distance.

My question here is am I correct to give 12 to 13 yards?

USSF answer (June 9, 2004):
You can ask for 12-13 yards, but all the Law allows you to enforce is 10 yards. In any event, the Law already provides “further penalties” for failing to give the minimum distance: it’s called a caution for failing to give the minimum distance.


REFEREE JERSEY COLORS [ADMIN; LAW 18]
Your question:
Is there an order of precedence in the wearing of the four colors of referee jersey? I have been told that because gold was mentioned first in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH), and also named as the “primary” color, it MUST be worn before any other colors unless there is a color conflict with the teams. If an alternate was to be worn, the order must be black, then red, and finally blue. In other words, the color order is 1) gold, 2) black, 3) red, and 4) blue.

Is there a new protocol which gives an order in which the shirts must be used?

USSF answer (June 9, 2004):
Referees are free to wear whichever shirt they like, provided it does not cause a color conflict with one of the teams and also provided each member of the crew wears the same color.

The order given in the RAH is solely one of convenience; it reflects the order in which the new jerseys were introduced and has no other, more significant meaning. “Primary” in the RAH means only that the gold jersey is the one that every referee must have, as it is least likely to conflict with player jerseys. It does not mean that referees must wear it in preference to the other colors.


PLAYER JERSEY COLORS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
Law 4 states: ³each goalkeeper wears colors which distinguish him from the other players, the referee and the assistant referees.²

My question; how much difference is required? If the referee will admit to perceiving and distinguishing a difference through observation, isn¹t the goalkeeper¹s jersey within regulation and therefore perfectly legal? In that situation, wouldn¹t the referee be forced to allow the goalkeeper to wear the jersey?

My situation is that when the team wears jerseys that are completely white (except for the number and club logo), my Keeper wants to wear a jersey that is white with very wide black vertical stripes. Not only has the keeper been forced to wear a different jersey, but the referee actually told me that the opposing coach had asked the referee to enforce the change!  My belief is that the goalkeeper should not have been forced to change, what do you think?

Also, I believe that goalkeepers should have a number, just like every other player is required to do. Are goalkeepers allowed to play without numbers?

USSF answer (June 9, 2004):
It is not only the referee, but also the other team that needs to be able to distinguish between the two teams and their goalkeepers. As to demands that the referee “do” something, let us lay out the ground rules clearly: The coach has only one right, and that is to remain in his or her team’s area unless his or her behavior becomes irresponsible, in which case the coach will be ordered to leave.

Given that limitation on rights, no coach has any right to demand anything in a game. A coach may point out that an opposing player’s clothing might cause confusion, but, unless the referee believes there is a rational basis for the request, there is no reason to implement it. Only the referee on the game will know whether or not the colors of the two teams and of the two goalkeepers are distinguishable from one another. There is no color scale for referees; only their common sense.

The Laws of the Game do not require numbers for any player. Numbers are a requirement of the competition in which the player plays. Check the local rules.


WHEN IS A “FOUL” NOT A FOUL? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In the UEFA Cup (Valencia vs Marseilles) a few weeks back, an attacker was on a full break away.  The keeper approached the attacker.  The attacker chipped the ball over the keeper, who was diving to stop the play.  The keeper up-ended the attacker.  A foul was called, an the keeper was sent-off, presumably for preventing a goal-scoring opportunity.

In an MLS game (DC vs NE, May 29th), a very similar situation occurred, with the attacker going down due to contact with the keeper, after the ball had been chipped over the keeper.  No foul or card was indicated.

I could not see any significant difference in the plays to explain the extreme difference in the outcome.  Given the respect due the center for the UEFA game, I believe his call was correct.  Any insight?

Also, in your May 20 response about Dangerous Play vs Kicking, you wrote that kicking “overrules” dangerous play – and I agree.  However, Referee Magazine (June 2004 page 50) wrote that FIFA, NFHS, and NCAA agree that the Dangerous Play takes precedence, as it “occurs first”.  Comments?

I always find your responses enlightening, and often amusing.

USSF answer (June 3, 2004):
1. It is always dangerous to compare situations in one country or competition with those of another. No way that we can give an opinion on this. In fact, it is possible, at least in theory, that the UEFA situation was a foul and the MLS situation was not. That is certainly so in the opinion of the respective referees. After all, just because the attackers hit the ground in both events doesn’t mean that the upending was caused in both cases by a foul.

2. Courtesy of Jamey Walter of “Referee” magazine, here is the question that troubles our interlocutor: A7 attempts a diving header in Team B’s penalty area on a ball that is near the ground. B6, attempting to clear the ball, kicks A7. If the referee determines that A7 was playing in a dangerous manner, what is the restart?

The correct answer, based on the question, is that the restart is precisely as “Referee” states, an indirect free kick for B6’s team.

It is incorrect to say that a direct free kick foul “overrules” the indirect free kick foul of “playing dangerously. In normal situations of this sort, the referee’s only choice is to punish the player who created and/or carried out the illegal play. For example: A player kicking at a high ball that another player is trying to head thus puts the heading player in a dangerous position. If the kicking player then makes contact with the opponent, there can be no call of “playing dangerously.” The kicking player should be called for kicking an opponent and the restart would be a direct free kick.


DON’T PUNISH THE GOALKEEPER UNDESERVEDLY! [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Team A is attacking and Team B is defending.  Team A has a shot that rebounds off of Team B’s Keeper to a defender on Team B.  The defender kicks it back at the goalie who grabs the ball before it goes into the net.  The pass from the defender was intentional.  There was an attacker from Team A standing next to the keeper in an onsides position because another defender was on the far post.  The keeper was a foot of his line and all of the action happened inside the goal area.  I determined that it was an obvious goal scoring opportunity, but did not feel it warranted a send off so I only cautioned the keeper.  I also awarded a PK because of the obvious goal scoring opportunity and the handling by the keeper after an intentional pass by his teammate.  After looking over the Law Book and thinking about it I am leaning toward a send off and an IFK.  Team A did not score on the PK.  So I do not feel bad if I made the wrong call, but I would like to know what the correct call is.

USSF answer (June 3, 2004):
While you did make the mistake of cautioning the goalkeeper undeservedly, thank goodness you did not send him off. A goalkeeper may not be sent off for using his hands to deny the opposing team a goal within his own penalty area. (Such punishment is specifically excluded in Law 12‹”this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area.”) The only possible punishment the referee can mete out in this situation is to award an indirect free kick to the opponents, to be taken from the place where the goalkeeper touched the ball. As this happened within the goal area, the kick would be taken at the nearest spot on the goal area line parallel to the goal line.

And the intelligent referee might not punish the deed at all, provided there were opponents nearby to challenge for the ball and, in the opinion of the referee, the defender kicked the ball to the goalkeeper out of panic, rather than in an effort to waste time. (Preventing time wasting is why the rule was introduced in the first place.)


THERMAL PANTS [LAW 4]
Your question:
what is the USSF position on field players (not goalies) who want to wear ‘thermal’ pants, skin tight, under their shorts and socks? They usually are the same color as the shorts. My second question is the USSF position on what the AR’s should be doing during a substitution with their flags? Some people say that the common practice of holding the flag up, unraveled toward the ground, is being discouraged, but I haven’t found anything on this matter.

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
1. Players are permitted to wear visible undergarments such as thermopants. They must, however, be the same color as the shorts of the team of the player wearing them and not extend beyond the top of the knee. Thus, thermal undergarments that run continuously from waist to foot are not allowed.

2. Once the referee has recognized the assistant referee’s signal, the AR should lower the flag to the side closer to the halfway line and await the restart. You will find this information in the new USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees.” There is no change here from previous editions.


ATTACKING THE REFEREE [LAW 5; LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I play in an amateur league and in our game tonight one of our players was involved in a tackle going for the ball, the other player kicked him in the head as they were falling. Our player got up grabbed the ball and acted as if he was going to hit the player with it, he went through the motion but never threw the ball. I believe the ref didn’t see the fact that he didn’t actually throw the ball and gave him a red. Our coach asked him to consult with his linesman. When he did he changed his call and gave him a yellow instead, the opposing team was furious and one of their players bumped the ref, he then showed him a red card. This made matters worse and one of the players tried to kick the ball at the ref but it hit the linesman’s face, at this point the ref called the game off so one of the opposing players kicked him above the knee with his cleats causing a wound to develop and the ref’s leg to be bleeding.
Question
1. Can the referee take back his decision to give a red upon consulting with his linesman?
2. What type of action should be taken when you “act” like you are going to throw the ball at a player?
3. At what point does a ref fell he/she should call the game off?

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
Given that the circumstances are as you describe them, here are some answers.
1. Provided that the referee has not allowed the game to be restarted, a decision to send off a player may be changed.
2. The overt threat of throwing the ball at another player amounts to attempted striking and is a direct free kick and at least a caution for unsporting behavior. Depending on circumstances, it could be considered as a threat of physical violence and would then be punishable by a dismissal and red card; in that case the referee should act immediately to isolate the guilty party and remove him or her from the game.
3. There is no black-or-white answer to this question. Only the referee on the spot can make that judgment. We might suggest that if the referee cannot stop the jostling and other abuse by players, the game should be terminated.


FAILURE TO RESPECT . . . [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Situation: The ref has awarded a direct free kick to the attacking team two yards outside the box near the ³D². The attacking team has requested the ref move the defenders back the requisite ten yards and the ref has done so. The ref has just blown the whistle for the kick to be taken. One of the defenders in the wall rushes the kicker prior to the kick being taken. The ref allows the kick to be taken (in fact, the misconduct and the kick occurred within split-seconds). The kick goes directly to the keeper, at which time the ref stops play, shows the yellow for Failure to Respect the Required Distance, and has the kick re-taken from the same spot.
The ref explained that he allowed the play to proceed (i. e., purposely did not stop play while the ball was in midflight) to determine whether the kick was successful. Had it been, he was have cautioned the misconduct at the stoppage following the goal. Since it was not successful, he stopped play once the keeper had gathered in the shot, showed the yellow and had the free kick retaken.

Was this the correct resolution?

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
Because the two incidents occurred so closely in time, the issue would be whether the rush forward (which seems much more cynical that simply being too close) made a difference in the outcome of the kick. And this, under the Law, would require the referee to allow the kick to proceed. If the rush forward made no difference in the outcome of the kick, caution at the next stoppage; if it made a difference, stop play immediately, caution, and restart with a retake.


DURATION OF THE GAME [LAW 7]
Your question:
We played a tournament game today and were leading 2-1 near the end of the game.…

2004 Part 1

PROCEDURE FOR PENALTY KICKS [PROCEDURES]
Your question:
Question about procedure for penalty kicks: I recently received complaint from keeper stating that before signalling for kick to be taken, I must ask him if he is ready. I told the keeper that before I signal for the kick to be taken, I observe the keeper to be sure he is on his line, I observe the placement of the ball and the kick-taker, and when I think all is in order, I signal for the kick to be taken.

Is this proper procedure and are other details necessary in respect to confirming that players are ready? In this men’s match, I had to caution the keeper for showing dissent when he repeated confronted me on this issue.

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
The USSF Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials gives us the following procedure for the taking of the penalty kick:
QUOTE
P. Penalty Kick
Referee
– Whistles to stop play.
– Points clearly to the penalty mark and, unless needed elsewhere for game control purposes, moves to the edge of the penalty area near the goal line to avoid confrontation and dissent.
– Deals with players who may attempt to protest or dispute the decision.
– Supervises the placement of the ball.
– Identifies the kicker.
– Moves to a position in line with the top of the goal area to supervise the penalty kick, far enough from the penalty mark to see all the players.
– When the ball and all the players are properly in position, signals for the kick to be taken.
– If a goal is scored, backpedals quickly up field keeping all the players under observation.
END OF QUOTE

There is no requirement in the Law or the Guide to Procedures to check on the goalkeeper’s readiness, and a close analysis of the situation might suggest that the goalkeeper is playing for time, hoping to ice the kicker. A quick word to the goalkeeper that the kick is about to be taken is all that is necessary.


PROCEDURE AT SEND-OFF/RED CARD [PROCEDURES]
Your question:
A couple of weeks ago a member of our team was sent off and we would like some clarification about the proper procedure for sending off a player.

Here is the setting: It was a GU15 game with less than 2 minutes to play. In the attacking half our player (sending off player) was played in to the top of the 18. The defender did well to get back and position herself to take the ball with the back foot. Our player did not see the player until she turned towards goal and then ran into the defender.

The official blew his whistle for the foul and then called our player over. He asked our player for her first name. He then asked her last name and how to spell her last name. After he had written her name he told her to turn around. While she was turned away he pulled out his red card and put it in the air.

When our player reached the sidelines I asked what the red was for. She replied I don’t know, he didn’t tell me anything, he just asked for my name, last name, how to spell it and then told me to turn around. She did not realize it was a red until she got to the sidelines and I told her. I asked the official why he red carded her. He said he did not need to tell me. I then asked him to tell the player that was sent off, he said he did not have to.

Although I question his decision for the sending off, I would like some clarification to the rules and procedures for cautions and sending off of players.

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
You asked for procedure, you get procedure! This answer is straight from the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials.” The referee in your case did several things wrong, particularly not informing the player that she had been sent off — although why else would she leave the field; do we have a disconnect here? — and not telling her why.

QUOTE
4. Misconduct­Play Stopped
A. Referee
– Quickly identifies and begins moving toward offending player and beckons player to approach.
– Attempts to draw offending player away from teammates and opponents.
– Discourages others from approaching, interfering or participating.
– Stops a reasonable distance away from offending player and begins recording necessary information.
– States clearly and concisely that the player is being cautioned or sent from the field and displays the appropriate card by holding it straight overhead.
– If the player is being sent off, delays the restart of play until the player has left the field entirely.
– In situations where the event or conduct being penalized includes the potential for retaliation or further misconduct, immediately moves to the location of the misconduct and displays the appropriate card before recording any information.
END OF QUOTE


MISCONDUCT FOLLOWING OTHER INFRINGEMENTS [LAW 8; LAW 18]
Your question:
Attacker A passes a through ball to attacker B, who is offside. You blow the whistle for offside; as you are blowing the whistle, defender A trips attacker B. (not violent enough for a card, but if attacker A were not offside a goal scoring opportunity would have been denied). The play occurred midway between the 18 and midfield. What is the call and restart?

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
We don’t deal in “might-have-beens” on goalscoring opportunities. If there was no obvious goalscoring opportunity, then you cannot punish someone for denying or attempting to deny it. As a matter of fact, you can never punish anyone for attempting to deny a goalscoring opportunity–you punish them for unsporting behavior, if that is applicable, which it is not in this case. You are the referee and may certainly caution the defender if you like, but it had better be for the precise thing he did, not something that might have happened.

Correct action in this case would be to have a quiet word with the defender and then restart with the indirect free kick for offside.


RETAKES OF PENALTY KICKS [LAW 14]
Your question:
Is there a limit to the number of “re-takes” of penalty kicks? The question came up after the keeper moved off his line three straight times by 4-6 ft each time. He stopped the first two kicks and the third hit the post after the shooter tried to kick around the keeper. This was a U14b in a very competitive classic league. Both the middle and AR (me) called the encroachment each time. Due to other unfortunate circumstances the match was abandoned after the third kick. Several older more experienced referees starting discussing the situation and several opinions emerged.
1. Middle should have issued a yellow card after the second kick for persistent infringement and warned the goalkeeper that further violations would result in a red card.
2. Encroachment should not have been called on the third try since the shot hit the post. Play should have been allowed to continue.

Being the AR in the middle of this situation I somewhat agree with the first opinion(if game could have continued I would have issued a yellow card after the third attempt); but I disagree with the second opinion. The second opinion encourages future violations of the law.

The unfortunate circumstances involved the mix of the following:
1. Red card to defending team player for foul and abusive language
2. Defending team coach coming onto field
3. Defending team parents becoming abusive and coming onto the field
4. Defending team coach pulling his team off the field (he says he was merely pulling them aside to calm them down but players left the field and subs entered the field)

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
No, there is no limit on the number of retakes that are permitted or required to satisfy the Law. Only the referee on the game can know for sure what should be done in each case of infringement. Common practice is to warn the first time a player infringes the requirements of Law 14, followed by a caution and yellow card for persistent infringement of the Law on the second and subsequent infringements.

It is unfortunate that the game had to be terminated — note correct terminology; in this case the game was not abandoned, but terminated. Proper vigilance by the fourth official (if there was one) could have prevented the coach and parents from entering the field. All circumstances were, of course, fully documented and reported in the referee’s match report.


SETTING THE “WALL” [PROCEDURES]
Your question:
Is there any published guidance or standard practice for establishing this distance? Once the decision has been made to stop play I have been instructed in annual training that it is not appropriate to “step off” 10 yards; rather, the Referee should quickly indicate where the 10-yard distance is “estimated” to be. It was explained that this prevents unnecessary delay of the restart and that the referee looks much more professional being confident in his judgment of 10 yards. I have recently noticed a number of referees “stepping off” distance and defending this as proper mechanics under certain circumstances (close to goal).

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
It is common practice for the referee to establish the distance of the wall by becoming the “first brick in the wall.” As a referee grows more experienced and confident, the distance can be measured by eye and the wall backed off as necessary. The referee should never allow getting the ten yards to interfere with the kicking team’s right to a quick free kick.


YOUTH SUBSTITUTION [RULES OF THE COMPETITION]
Your question:
Recently, I was center and an injury occurred. I permitted the injured player to sub and asked the opposing bench if they would like 1 substitution also. (1 for 1). After the half, one of my AR’s said the rules permitted unlimited substitution at stoppage for injury. I told him that he was thinking about high school not USSF. He seemed sure that the rules had changed for USSF. I went to confirm in the rules but can not find either the original position which allows 1 for 1 or the revision allowing for unlimited substitution. What is the correct position??

USSF answer (March 16, 2004):
You are both wrong. The Laws of the Game permit substitution for either team at any stoppage in play, whether for injury or not–and have done so since substitution was first permitted in the Dark Ages before the1930s. Some sets of youth rules formerly restricted substitution artificially, but those rules have now been changed at the national level. But, just to be safe, check the rules of the competitions in which you referee.


WHEN IS THE BALL OUT OF PLAY? [LAW 8; LAW 18]
Your question:
A defender fouls near the penalty area (or even in the penalty area itself). You wait a second or two for the advantage, but none seems to develop, so you whistle the foul. Just as you whistle, or during the whistle itself, the attacker gets the ball and scores. Can you allow the goal as the actual kick was taken in the second that you whistled, or perhaps even a split second before? Or must you deny the goal and restart with a free kick to the attacking team?

USSF answer (March 11, 2004):
Too many referees would simply allow the goal and go merrily on their way, avoiding controversy and abdicating their responsibilities. Unfortunately, that is wrong and the coward’s way out. Once the referee has decided to punish an infringement of the Laws, play has effectively stopped, whether or not the referee has already blown the whistle. Deny the goal, restart with the free kick or penalty kick, as appropriate to the site of the foul.

In addition, the referee must remember that it is not usually a good idea to apply the advantage in the penalty area. More properly, we hold our whistle to see the IMMEDIATE result of the play (ball in the net or not) and whistle either the kick-off if it did go into the net (the gods of soccer smiled on us) or for a penalty kick if it did not.


METAL STUDS [LAW 4]
Your question:
I am hearing several instructors stating that a player can not wear metal studs, is this a true statement. I wear them and many other players wear them.

USSF answer (March 8, 2004):
No, there is no specific ban in Law 4 on metal studs or studs of any particular type. The sole requirement is that the player’s shoes not be dangerous to himself or to any other player.

Please study this earlier answer and the USSF position paper mentioned in it, available from this and other sites:
USSF answer (November 11, 2003):
If the studs are safe — no burrs or sharp edges — they are probably legal under the terms of Law 4 and the March 7, 2003, U. S. Soccer memorandum on the safety of player equipment. Many competitions ban the use of metal studs, so please check with your local competition authority (league or whatever), just to be sure.


REDUCE TO EQUATE [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
At a recent clinic, we had a disagreement about the reduce to equate principle. My colleague asserted that a team that finished with more players than the other (i. e., 10 v 11) could remove its goalkeeper from the list of eligible kickers, but allow him to remain in goal. I believe that the “reduced” player is treated as a player who is sent-off in that he can not participate in anyway. Could you please clear this up for us?

USSF answer (March 8, 2004):
A goalkeeper must remain among the players who take part in kicks from the penalty mark. That means in all aspects of the procedure, not simply keeping goal.


ADVERTISING ON THE FIELD OR APPURTENANCES [LAW 1]
Your question:
I was wondering if a team is allowed to print the team name on the goalposts or the crossbar.

USSF answer (March 8, 2004):
The International Football Association Board, the people who make the Laws of the Game, has indicated that there should be no advertising on the field of play or on the appurtenances (such as the goal).


STOPPING PLAY TO CAUTION [LAW 18]
Your question:
An attacking player commits misconduct (cautionable offence) — simulation in the defenders’ PA. Within the law the referee may stop play immediately or wait until the ball is out of play to caution the culprit. Should the referee stop play to caution the culprit if no advantage accrues to the defenders? Or wait until the ball is out of play? Should the referee stop play to caution the culprit if an advantage accrues to the attackers (culprit team)?

USSF answer (March 5, 2004):
Let us first consider the reason behind the simulation. Was there an actual foul committed by a member of the defending team, followed by an embellishment of the results of the infringement by an opposing player hoping to get a penalty kick or have one of the defending players cautioned or sent off? If so, then it might be reasonable to invoke the advantage and still deal with both players, as necessary, at the next stoppage.

If there was no prior foul or misconduct by a defending player, then there is no reason to invoke the advantage. The referee must consider whether the team offended against would actually benefit from allowing play to continue. It is very often of greater benefit to award a free kick, rather than risk the use of advantage in front of the gaining team’s goal. Why reward a team whose player has committed misconduct by giving them a chance at the opponents’ goal? In principle advantage should normally only be played when a promising attacking move or an obvious goalscoring opportunity would occur.

A good rule to remember is that, in general, we don’t apply advantage to situations in which the infraction is committed BY a member of the team with the ball at the time.


SHIRT-PULLING [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In my opinion, grabbing opponent’s shirt looks very bad in the picture of the newspaper (the sportswriters seem to like it and printed often), and also it is a bad habit. However I was told that since the modern shirts are so flexible that the act of pulling would not cause an adverse effect on the opponent enough to warrant a foul call (for high-level plays).

So, do the referees have to make a judgment on whether the shirt being pulled is flexible enough? Besides, isn’t the act of shirt pulling itself constitutes an unfair advantage of gaining body balance at the expense of the opponent?

USSF answer (March 3, 2004):
It makes no difference whether the shirt is “flexible” or not. The referee makes the judgment whether the shirt was pulled (and the player thus held) or not. Then the referees decides whether this act was trivial. If it was trivial, i. e., didn’t make any difference, then the holding is not called.

If the holding is a blatant attempt to pull an opponent away from the ball or prevent an opponent from getting to the ball, then it becomes unsporting behavior and must be cautioned. (See the pictures on page 3 of the Winter 2003-2004 issue of Fair Play, available only on the web at ussoccer.com.)


DOES THE LAW REALLY MEAN THAT?
Your question:
Who is the best person to direct a question towards about a part of the law that is actually misleading and incorrect? Do I have to go through my SDI, SRA, or SDA?

Law 2: The ball is . . of a pressure equal to 0.6 – 1.1 atmosphere (600 – 1100 g/cm2) at sea level (8.5 lbs/sq in15.6 lbs/sq in).

The law shouldn’t state “Sea Level”. That is misleading. Where ever a ball is tested, it tests relative atmospheric pressure. If you use the thumb test, it will test the ball where you are. If you use a pressure gauge, it will also test the ball where you are.

It is true that if you pump up a ball to 8.5 psi in San Diego, and then transport the ball to Denver, the pressure will be off. Conversely, if you correctly inflate a ball in Denver, and take it to Boston, it will not have the correct pressure. It is also true that it may take a different amount of air to inflate that same ball in San Diego, Denver or Boston.

However, all 3 balls, when pumped up to 8.5 (or any stated pressure) will have the same amount of “hardness.” I carry a pressure gauge in my ref bag. That same gauge will work in Denver, Boston or San Diego. And, I don’t need to make any conversion for the altitude. The pressure on the ball should be 8.5 – 15.6 on my gauge, wherever I go.

USSF answer (March 3, 2004):
It is true that the wording of the Law is scientifically incorrect, since a pressure less than 1 atm is a vacuum. The critical point is that everyone who plays the game or is involved with it knows what this is intended to mean, so the exact wording does not really matter.

In fact, the pressure requirements should state “above ambient atmospheric pressure” and in this regard you are correct. However you are not the first to point this out, nor will you be the last. Many “new” officials, especially here in the United States, seize on this point.

Anyone who wishes to propose a change to the Laws of the Game must start first in his or her state association.


“PRIMARY COLOR” JERSEY
Your question:
Does primary color mean that the Gold jersey is always to be worn unless there is a color conflict with one of the team’s uniform? I have seen professional games where the referee crew wears a color other than gold when neither of the two teams has yellow in their uniform.

USSF answer (March 2, 2004):
“Primary color” means that if you have only one uniform jersey, it must be the gold one. Obviously, if there is no color conflict, especially at the local level, that is the shirt everyone must have. What the referees do in professional games should not be used as the yardstick in this matter; other things come into play there, such as what provides the best color contrast for television.


WHEN IS THE BALL OUT OF PLAY [LAW 8; LAW 18]
Your question:
Attacker in the PA goes down. The referee clearly determines in his mind that the attacker took a dive (simulation). As the referee is about to blow the whistle, the ball goes to another attacker whose legs are taken out by a defender. The referee awards a PK to the attacking team but cautions the first attacker for simulation. Is this the correct call and restart?

USSF answer (March 1, 2004):
Once the referee has made the decision that misconduct has been committed, he cannot neglect to punish it at the next restart. That does not prevent him from invoking the advantage clause and then dealing with a second infringement of the Laws, provided that the first infringement was committed by an opponent, rather than the team with the ball. In this case, because the referee had already determined in his mind that the attacker’s action was a simulation and therefore misconduct, play stopped at that moment. Advantage cannot be applied because it was a player on the team with the ball who committed the violation.

The referee has only one choice here: Stop play for the attacker’s misconduct (for which he receives a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior) and then, because the next action occurred during a stoppage, warn the defender, and either caution the defender and show the yellow card unsporting behavior) or send off the defender and show the red card (violent conduct), depending on the severity of “legs are taken out” and restart with an indirect free kick for the defense.


THE “SANDWICH” [LAW 12]
Your question:
A recent quiz in Referee Magazine has started some discussion among the referees in my house. By reference, I am a level 8 ref, normally working U18 and down recreational games and currently up to U14 competitive leage games.

In the quiz, the question was asking for the correct restart when B1 fairly charged player A1, who was already being charged by player B1. The given answer (which I later found backed up by the policies for referees document) was a direct kick. The policies discussed this as being holding. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this called, but may have never known to look for it. Is this something which is routinely called, and how quickly should this be called in a youth match?

USSF answer (March 1, 2004):
We are not familiar with any document about policies for referees, other than the Referee Administrative Handbook. Could you possibly mean the Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game?

Yes, this foul is holding, also called a “sandwich,” as the player is sandwiched between two opponents, both of whom are/may be charging fairly. Restart is a direct free kick for the sandwiched player.

Why is it a foul, even though neither of the players making the “sandwich” commits a foul individually? Because they have worked together, against the spirit of the Law, to hold and thus physically restrict, with their bodies, their opponent’s ability to play the ball.

If it is not called routinely, it should be. There is no need for a caution, but a word of warning and explanation to the two players involved would go a long way toward preventing repetition.


AR MECHANICS AT A THROW-IN [PROCEDURES]
Your question:
What are the mechanics for an AR that observes an incorrect throw-in? Also, is the term, “foul throw – in”, correct for this situation?

USSF answer (February 26, 2004):
There are no prescribed mechanics for indicating an incorrect throw-in. The assistant referee, in accordance with the Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials, does what the referee has instructed during the pregame conference. By extension, the AR signal for a foul (and/or misconduct) could be used to indicate ANY infraction of the Law that is not otherwise covered.

Even though it is technically incorrect, the common terminology is “foul throw-in.”


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
A u12 girls state cup match went to penalty kicks after a 0-0 tie in regulation time and 2 10min overtimes. The 2nd girl took her shot and made it but shot before the ref blew his whistle. The ref talked to her and also made a comment to the rest of the girls to make sure and wait for the whistle. He gave the girl another shot and she made it again but again shot before the whistle. At that point he asked her to sit down and did not allow her shot. We won the game in penalty kicks 3-1 and now the other team is protesting stating the ref did not handle it correctly. The best they could have done is tie us even if the shot was allowed and their last kicker had a chance to shoot(last kicker didn’t shoot because we of 2 goal diff). Was this handled correctly?

USSF answer (February 25, 2004):
Reading the description of the situation, we are not sure which mistake the referee may have made: (1) If he forbade the player from shooting again and cancelled her goal but counted her “place” in the rotation as having been taken, this is one sort of error. (2) If he forbade her personally from shooting again but allowed another player from her team to take the kick from the penalty mark in her place, that is a less venal sin.

In either case, the referee did well on the first shot, taken before he had blown the whistle to notify everyone that the kick would now be taken. He should talk to her and warn her that any further infringement of the Law will result in a caution and yellow card for persistently infringing the Laws of the Game. But he didn’t do that; after she took the second shot early again, he forbade the girl from shooting again. If that occurred in possible case (1), the action was wrong and a misapplication of the Laws of the Game. He should have cautioned her, shown the yellow card, and let her shoot again. Maybe she would have gotten it right this time. If the referee simply suggested, as in possible case (2), that another girl take the kick, hoping that the original girl would cool down and figure it out, then he was still in error, as a referee cannot prevent anyone who is eligible from taking a kick. Despite the fact that it was wrong, this error could be put down to common sense and good management, provided he let the original girl kick later — if required.

And finally, if this were recreational play, rather than a state cup or other competitive-level match, the referee might be more lenient and neither warn nor caution the player the first two or three times.


AGGRESSIVE PLAY [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
This is my first year as a soccer referee, USSF, Grade 8. I have difficulty with some youth matches where both teams are playing a physically over-aggressive style play. If fact the parents and coaches cheer on this dangerous style of play with comments such as, ³don¹t stop, be more aggressive, what did you stop for, that¹s the way to be aggressive². When there is a lose ball (in these type of games there are many) players will run at the ball full speed and collide at the ball. Kind of like a game of chicken.  One player will usually get knock down and scream for a foul, but both players were exhibiting equally dangerous play. How should a referee handle this type of situation? Should a foul be called and on which player when both are at fault? I watch professional matches on television and do not see this type of play. It seems that some youth coaches teach aggression over ball handling skill and technique.  Thanks for your advice!

USSF answer (February 24, 2004):
Despite what youth coaches may teach their players about aggressive play, it is up to the referee to curb and control that play which goes beyond simply aggressive and becomes violent and very dangerous. This is best done by immediately calling each act of that sort of aggressive play and dealing with it strongly and appropriately. It helps if other referees who work these games make the same calls, so that the message gets across to the players and, hopefully, to the coaches, that overly aggressive play will not be tolerated.

We suggest that you take to heart the words of the USSF 2003 publication “Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players”:
1. Serious Foul Play and Violent Conduct
Soccer is a tough, combative sport. The contest to gain possession of the ball should nonetheless be fair and gentlemanly. Any actions meeting these criteria, even when vigorous, must be allowed by the referee.
Serious Foul Play and Violent Conduct are, however, strictly forbidden and the referee must react to them by stringently applying the Laws of the Game.
These two offenses can be defined as follows:
(a) It is serious foul play when a player uses excessive force, formerly defined as “disproportionate and unnecessary strength,” when challenging for the ball on the field against an opponent. There can be no serious foul play against a teammate, the referee, an assistant referee, a spectator, etc.
(b) It is violent conduct when a player is guilty of aggression (excessive force or deliberate violence) towards an opponent when they are not competing for the ball. It is also violent conduct if the excessive force is used when the ball is not in play or if it is directed at anyone other than an opponent (e. g., teammate, referee, assistant referee, coach, spectator, etc.). If the violent conduct is committed against an opponent on the field during play, the restart is a direct free kick for the opposing team where the foul occurred (or a penalty kick if it was committed by a defender inside his penalty area). If the violent conduct is by a player during play against anyone on the field other than an opponent, the restart is an indirect free kick where the misconduct occurred. If the violent conduct is committed during a stoppage of play, the restart is not changed. A dropped ball where the ball was when play is stopped is the correct restart if the violent conduct is committed during play either off the field or by a substitute.


HOLD YOUR HORSES! DON’T ANTICIPATE THE COMMAND! [LAW 13; LAW18]
Your question:
In the EPL, I have noticed that on occasion the ref has added 10 yards, or shortened the distance to the goal by 10 yards, the position of a free kick. This per the announcers is for dissent. Will it happen in the US? Where can I find the FIFA rule changes if they are indeed changes?

USSF answer (February 23, 2004):
You will not find any changes, principally because there has been no change. What you are talking about is an experiment that has been going on in England for several years. It is now proposed for adoption as a change to the Laws of the Game effective for competitions that begin on or after July 1, 2004. That will be discussed at a meeting of the International Football Association Board, the people who make the Law of the Game — no, FIFA does NOT do that on its own — on February 28 and 29 in London. The proposed change may or may not be adopted. The change, if it is made, will include reasons for advancing the ball other than simply dissent.

Even after the changes are made, you will do nothing about them until instructions from USSF are disseminated through your state referee program. That is the way the system works. This gives the Federation the time to prepare clearly-defined guidelines for application of the changes to the Laws. It also allows the states to plan clinics in which to brief all referees.


IS IT A FOUL? [LAW 12]
Your question:
A player has the ball on the goal line and is dribbling towards the opponents goal. The goalkeeper comes out to meet the player to challenge for the ball. The player pushes the ball past the goalkeeper, crosses the goal line (leaves the field of play) and the keeper, instead of playing the ball, decides to exit the field of play and deliberately foul the player. This is likely misconduct; however, would it be a penalty kick since the foul occured outside of the field of play?…

2003 Part 4

WHERE TO TAKE THE THROW-IN [LAW 15]
Your question:
I am hoping that you can help me resolve a dispute I have had with a couple of referees in my local league over whether or not there is a limit as to how far back from the line a throw-in can be taken. The scenario is relatively simple in that the ball goes out of play, and in seeking the advantage of a quick restart the thrower throws the ball from potentially several yards back from the line and away from the field of play. Assuming no other rules of law 15 are broken (e.g. ball over head, entering field of play from within 1 yard of it going out) etc. then has the throwing player committed an offence simply because he or she took the throw further back than it is normally taken? I have reviewed a number of variants on the rules of the game and cannot find a direct or indirect reference to this.

I hope this is clear and look forward to some thoughts on this.

USSF answer (December 24, 2003):
Your guidance will be found in the IFAB/FIFA Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, under Law 15, Q&A 4: 4. Is there a maximum distance away from the touch line from which a throw-in may be taken? No. A throw-in should be taken from the place where the ball left the field of play. However, a throw-in from a distance of up to 1 m from the exact position is a generally accepted practice.


PLAYERS AND GLASSES [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I am a 16 year old female soccer player from [my state]. Due to an eye disease, I cannot wear contacts. I’ve tried to wear Rec Specs, but since they wrap-around, the light distortion severely throws off my depth-perception. For a year now I’ve been wearing PLASTIC frames with polycarbonate lens as well as a strap to keep them secure. Let me stress that the frames are not wire. I was told by a referee that next year all prescription eyewear would no longer be allowed. Is this true? If so, what can I do about it? There is no way for me to wear contacts. Thanks a lot for your time.

USSF answer (December 22, 2003):
One of the referee’s duties is to be certain that the equipment of all players is safe and will not endanger either the player nor any other players. If, in the opinion of the referee, the glasses are safe for the wearer and all other players, then the player may wear them. The referee has neither duty nor power to act as a fashion coordinator or an optician.

Referees should all be aware of USSF Memorandum 2001, which contains the following citation from FIFA Circular 750 and USSF advice to referees on the wearing of eyeglasses:

QUOTE
Players Wearing Spectacles

Sympathy was expressed for players, especially young players, who need to wear spectacles. It was accepted that new technology had made sports spectacles much safer, both for the player himself and for other players.

While the referee has the final decision on the safety of players’ equipment, the Board expects that they will take full account of modern technology and the improved safety features of spectacle design when making their decision.

USSF Advice to Referees: Referees must not interpret the above statement to mean either that “sports glasses” must automatically be considered safe or that glasses which are not manufactured to be worn during sports are automatically to be considered unsafe. The referee must make the final decision: the Board has simply recognized that new technology has made safer the wearing of glasses during play.
END OF QUOTE

This guidance from FIFA was updated in a circular this year, but there has been no change in either FIFA or USSF policy since the circular of 2001.


OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
U-12 Boys ³B² travel team match. Playing on field that has dual markings for Field Hockey and Soccer. Inspect the field during pre-game and find that the PA is marked by yellow lines, as are part of the touch lines. I conduct each team¹s check-in at their respective 18 yard lines to make them aware of markings and remind the Keepers in particular to be aware.

Just before end of 1st half, Attacker runs on to ball in open space just past midfield, in center of field. Feints around and beats the 2nd Last Defender, but this move slows him down enough to allow another defender to close in on Attacker. New Defender is matching Attacker stride for stride, but ¼ to ½ a step behind. I am trailing about 25 feet directly behind the two players, waiting for Defender to make a move for the ball, or Attacker to feint again.

Attacker¹s next touch pushes the ball about 10 feet ahead of himself. I suspect the close pressure from the defender caused him to put a little too much on his touch. Meanwhile, the keeper has timed things perfectly and slides to collect the ball cleanly with no contact. ŠŠ.Except, he ends up about 4 feet over the 18 yard line.

I blow the whistle and call hand ball. The keeper looks up at me with a quizzical expression on his face, then turns over his shoulder, sees the line behind him, and drops his forehead to the turf with a groan. I produce the yellow card and explain to him that it is for USB (specifically, handling ball outside of area). I also told him that given the conflicting markings, I was giving him a break because the play was close to being DOGSO/H with automatic red card. The kid was great in that he actually understood that in this situation, that was a potential consequence.

It was close in that 3 of the 4 conditions for OGSO were clearly met. But the Attacker had pushed the ball just a little too far ahead of himself to still be within playing distance. Plus, I did think that the poor field markings called for some discretion. If the field markings had been proper, I would have thought a little harder about whether this was in fact an OGSO.

At half, the keeper¹s coach asked me what the yellow card was for. I explained that it was in lieu of a potential DOGSO/H + Red Card, and a way to emphasize to the keeper to be aware of the field markings. He was satisfied. I think his player had a better grasp of the Laws than he did.

Given the situation as described, was this a valid call within the LOTG and a reasonable way to handle the situation? Can the case be made for a different call, with or without modifying any of the elements?

Interestingly, a nearly identical scenario was one of the prep questions at my recertification clinic last month. We were working in groups to answer the prep questions and my table had 6 adults. A mix of Grade 8¹s and 7¹s. We all agreed that that scenario did not meet OGSO criteria. I raised the idea of Caution for USB. A couple of us agreed that that might be warranted in some situations, but most did not see the need for a caution in addition to DKF restart.

USSF answer (December 19, 2003):
In your analysis, you appear to be applying criteria which are involved in a red card for offense #5, when in fact what occurred was offense #4. The “4 Ds” memo is specific in its terms — it is talking about offense #5 in connection with these conditions. The general rule of thumb in #4 violations is that the red card is justified only if (in the opinion of the referee), but for the handling offense (in this case, by the goalkeeper outside his PA), the ball would have gone into the net.

In addition, the terms of the USSF position paper of September 16, 2002, on “Obvious Goal-Scoring Opportunity Denied (The 4 Ds)” do not include any reason for a gratuitous caution for unsporting behavior where it is not merited. Nor is this true of any other document dealing with the correct application of the Laws of the Game. If you thought the ‘keeper was confused by the “nontraditionally” marked lines, then a simple foul for deliberately handling the ball outside the penalty area would suffice.

Please, let common sense prevail.


CASTS [LAW 4]
Your question:
The State Youth Association that I referee for has an absolute ban on casts. No player may play with a cast,period, and this includes padded casts. I have contacted them and they have reiterated that casts cannot be made safe and are not allowed. I have had a few referees tell me that as per Law 5, only the referee may decide what is safe and what is not and if they think the cast has been made safe,they’ll allow it. I think this is crazy as if there’s an injury someone’s going to get sued for allowing something to be worn specifically forbidden by the local jurisdiction. Moreover, are not we as referees obligated to adhere to State and Local modifications? I would greatly appreciate your opinion. Thanks.

USSF answer (December 19, 2003):
The referees who told you that the referee may decide what is safe and what is not are correct. Law 5 states that the referee “ensures that the players’ equipment meets the requirements of Law 4.” However, if the rules of competition specify that a player may not wear a cast or some specific piece of equipment other than the required uniform, then any referee who takes a game from that competition must follow the rules. There are no ifs, ands, or buts.

A good general principle to follow in this is that the rules of competition may be more restrictive than the Law allows, but they cannot allow something that the Law flatly forbids.


DENYING THE OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY [LAW 12]
Your question:
I had a situation happen to me during a college game a couple of weeks ago and I need help with the appropriate decision.

5 secs left in the game, corner kick comes in, offensive player # 1 heads the ball and Defender A intentionally handles the ball as it was about to enter the goal. With the ball back in play, offensive player # 2 heads the ball into the nets, and Defender B attempts to play the ball intentionally with his arm but the ball continues into the goal and I therefore award GOAL at the sound of the Buzzer.

Here are my questions:
1- If I had blown the whistle at the first handling, easy Send off and a PK.
2- If I blew the whistle at the time of the Second infraction before the ball entered the goal and award a PK. Do I have 1 Send off or 2 send offs?
3- How about if the second header puts the ball over the goal and therefore left me with one handling of the ball, advantage applied did not pan out, ball goes out Goal Kick, I think I still must send off Defender A, and award Goal Kick? (Probably very hard to Sell). Your advice would be greatly appreciated, been discussing this with a lot of referees and instructors, and we all feel your advice would help us all.

USSF answer (December 17, 2003):
The answers are fairly simple when sitting at the computer, but perhaps not so simple while on the field. Let us consider the questions solely on the basis of the Laws of the Game, rather than the rules of any other competition — although in this case there is no difference.

1. Correct. Send off for denying the opposing team a goal or a goalscoring opportunity; restart with penalty kick. However, the referee should not stop play immediately for the handling but wait to see what follows; a sure score is better than the less-than-100-percent chance of a penalty kick.

2. You would have one send-off and (perhaps) one caution. Having in effect given the advantage — wittingly or not — by not calling the first deliberate handling by Defender A, you allowed play to continue and the second shot was taken. Even though the second shot was successful, you would still send off and show the red card to Defender A for denying the opposing team the original goal or goalscoring opportunity. If Defender B actually touched the ball while attempting to deny the goal or goalscoring opportunity, he would be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. If Defender B did not make contact with the ball, then he has not committed any misconduct and may not be punished.

3. Hard sell or not, you must still send off Defender A and award the goal kick.


HOW TO SECURE NETS [LAW 1]
Your question:
I read that…goalposts and crossbars must be made of wood…..and they must not be dangerous to players. What about the use of hooks to secure the net? Are there any guidelines that advice not to use hooks to secure the nets? The hooks can cause injury and degloving of hands/fingers. Is there any literature on this? What is the recommended way to secure nets…velcro, oversize rubber bands.

USSF answer (December 17, 2003):
You have obviously been reading the wrong literature. Goals may be made of any substance that is not dangerous. The only requirement as far as materials go is that the goals must be colored white.

We are not aware of any literature on the matter. Field owners, competitions (leagues, etc.), and teams should consider carefully what might be safe and what might be dangerous. The final decision is up to the referee.


LEAVING THE FIELD OF PLAY WITHOUT THE REFEREE’S PERMISSION [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Player A1 has the ball and is about to make a throw-in. His teammate A2 runs off the field, around the back of A1 and back on to the field to receive the throw-in. It is clear that this is a tactic being used by A2 to avoid being covered by the defense.

Is this a legal play or should A2 be cautioned for leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission?

USSF answer (December 16, 2003):
Stop the throw, have a FRIENDLY BUT VERY PUBLIC CHAT with the player who has left the field for this purpose, reminding him that he is not allowed to leave the field without your permission — other than during the course of play, when he needs to get around an opponent or something similar –and that leaving the field in this way could be a cautionable offense. Once he is back on the field, allow the thrower to take the throw-in.

You will find that the public admonition will prevent others from attempting this same trick. This is a case of not making trouble for yourself when you can use the situation as a learning experience for all the players and still foil the player’s gamesmanship.


OFFSIDE? [LAW 11]
Your question:
During discussion with a group of referees, there was a question about a specific situation on offside. Player A takes a shot on goal. At the time of the shot, defenders X and Y (as well as the goalkeeper), were nearer the endline than player A and the ball. The shot rebounds off of the crossbar and player A collects it, shoots again and scores. At the time he collected the ball he now was nearer the end line than defenders X and Y and had only the goalkeeper as the only defender between him and the endline. The question is the attacker A offside on the second shot?

For background purposes, the majority of the group said no due to the position of the ball. A vocal minority said yes due to the position of the attacker in relation to the defenders. Thank you in advance for settling this discussion.

USSF answer (December 15, 2003):
Let the vocal minority conjure this: A player cannot be in an offside position if he is not nearer to the goal line than the ball. It makes no difference how many or how few opponents are between him and the goal line if he is behind the ball. In addition, a player is not his own teammate and thus may play again a ball he has just played — unless he put the ball into play at a restart. If a player plays/shoots the ball at goal during active play and the ball rebounds to him from the crossbar or the goalpost or the goalkeeper, he is not in an offside position and thus cannot be offside.

You will find a excellent example of players behind the ball but ahead of all the opponents save the goalkeeper when the ball rebounds in the USSF videotape from the Women’s World Cup 1999, USA vs. Nigeria.


RESTARTS FOLLOWING REFEREE ERROR [LAW 8; LAW 13; LAW 18]
Your question:
Two issues have recently surfaced dealing with errors (judgement, procedures, or both) by the referee team. In both cases, the question to you is, “What is the proper restart?”

ISSUE 1: there is an attack on goal, along AR1’s touch line, when the ball is suddenly slotted through the defense to a teammate wide open in front of the goal, one-on-one with the GK, when the AR pops his flag for offside. The referee whistles to stop play, and thereafter both referee and AR see another defender hiding behind the goal, in an effort to draw the offside call. Since this is a stoppage, there appears no question but that the referee must Caution the Defender now, if he intends to address that unsporting behavior. However, the original stoppage was clearly the result of referee error – acknowledgement of a non-existent Offside infraction. What is the proper restart?

ISSUE 2: an attack is heading toward the AR, when suddenly the referee sees the attacker, while dribbling toward the AR, take a swing at the Defender. The referee immediately whistles play dead, issues a Red card to attacker for SFP, and orders a DFK to the defenders. Before the restart, he checks with his AR, and discovers that his AR knows that Defender first spat at attacker.
Part A: AR had flag up before the referee whistled, but referee did not check with AR until after issuing the Red, and indicating direction of DFK.
Part B: AR raises his flag as or after referee is whistling; but referee does not check with AR until after . . .
Part C: AR did not have his flag up (I can think of two reasons this could well happen: ARs relatively new to the faster-paced, older players, more skilled game, than their previous referee assignments – this has to happen to all of us at some point, as we advance; and 2, the AR wasn’t 100% sure it was a spit until the players got closer, when he could now confirm with visual evidence)

The question, in one way, boils down to this: may a referee ever change an otherwise properly-awarded restart, if he discovers prior to the restart, there was a Foul (as well as misconduct) precipitating the “event” he stopped play for?

This scenario assumes the initial spitting occurred within the “2-3 seconds” for advantage; clearly, if the Initial foul was seen and ignored by both referees, or by either, after 3 seconds, there is no authority under TLOG to stop play for the FOUL (and “if no one saw it, it never happened”).

I believe that both LOTG and SOTG lead one to the conclusion the ref ought to change his restart (it should now be DFK to attackers), and change the basis of his Red card to attacker from SFP to VC, while giving Defender his Red card for Spitting.

What is the correct restart here?

USSF answer (December 15, 2003):
ISSUE 1: The initial flag and stoppage of play were in error, as no infringement of Law 11 occurred. The referee determined only after play had been stopped that a player had left the field in an attempt to place the opposing player in an offside position. The player who left the field must be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior (committed off the field of play). The correct restart in this case 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.

The dropped ball restart is not because of an “inadvertent whistle” or, in this situation, the wrong belief that there was an offside violation, as might be the case with the “phantom” fullback, but because of the defender’s misconduct committed _off_ the field. The fact that the reason for stopping play was invalid does not lock the referee into a dropped ball restart if he learns that, prior to stopping play, some other event — foul or misconduct — occurred.

Even if the referee and assistant referee had detected the player leaving the field before the AR raised the flag and the referee blew the whistle, the game would not have been stopped to punish him (in accordance with IFAB/FIFA Q&A 2000, Law 11, Q&A 3), but the player would have been cautioned when the ball next went out of play.

ISSUE 2: Although he should have done so, it makes no difference whether the AR signals for the spitting offense or not, so long as he informs the referee prior to the restart. As long as play has not been restarted, the referee may change his decision and award the foul and send off (red card) the defending player for spitting at an opponent. He must then send off and show the red card to the attacking player for violent conduct, rather than serious foul play. The correct restart is a direct free kick for the attacking player’s team.


“TRICKERY” FOLLOWING THE THROW-IN [LAW 15; LAW 18]
Your question:
The Decisions of the IFAB for Law 12 go on at length – and we discuss it for way too long in the Introductory Class – regarding attempted trickery to circumvent the pass-back prohibition from a player to his ‘keeper.

Does the same trickery concept also apply to a throw-in from player to team-mate who then heads the ball to his ‘keeper? Until a week ago I would not have even thought to ask the question – assuming the answer to be “Yes – that trickery is also prohibited.” But in an EPL game, I saw EXACTLY that play allowed by the referee. I was waiting for the whistle, the caution and the IFK but they never came. Play merely continued on with the ‘keeper’s punt. Is this one of those that they allow at that level but I have to enforce in my typical youth games? Or have I merely mis-extended the “trickery prohibition” into an area not so intended?

USSF answer (December 15, 2003):
Yes, the same concept of “trickery” applies to the prohibition against the goalkeeper handling the ball directly from a throw-in by a teammate as for a ball played from a teammate’s foot during play. However, the likelihood of trickery on a throw-in is probably much lower, given the nature of the play.

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

In the case of throw-in _directly_ to the goalkeeper, the referee would not consider as trickery any sequence of play that offers a fair chance for opponents to challenge for the ball before it is handled by the goalkeeper. The same would be true for a throw-in redirected by a teammate of the goalkeeper.


PROPER SIGNAL? [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
Sometimes when calling obstruction or dangerous play it can be confusing which team is getting the indirect free kick. For example the blue team player plays in a dangerous manner and the referee blows the whistle. If the referee immediately raises his arm to signal indirect free kick both teams may not know who gets the kick. If the referee raises his arm giving a direction of the kick, then raises his arm up to indicate indirect, some players may think the kick is direct because they took the restart very quickly and everyone missed the indirect signal from the referee.

Anyway what is the correct procedure for the referee signaling for obstruction and dangerous play to properly inform everyone which team takes the kick and that the kick is indirect?

USSF answer (December 15, 2003):
And lo, in addition to whistle and hands, the referee has a tongue and a voice, and is able to inform the players through the use of them.


“FLICKING” THE FREE KICK [LAW 13; LAW 18]
Your question:
Can a player lift a ball with his foot to flick the ball over a wall? It would seem to me this would be a double kick since the ball has to be lifted and then flicked. Even though this may look like one motion, the ball is not being struck by the player but literally hit twice in succession. It would seem to me that if this was allowed, it could open all kinds of doors to allow players to ³carry a ball² if needed. This happened in a recent game and no call was made.

USSF answer (December 13, 2003):
There is no way anyone can make this call from the computer keyboard. If the ball is truly flicked up and then propelled (contact with the ball is lost and then regained), then a second-touch violation has occurred. If the ball is lifted with the foot (the top of the foot) and propelled forward with no contact being lost, then the IFAB/FIFA Q&A covers the situation. IFAB/FIFA Q&A, Law 13, Q&A 5, applies:
5. May a free kick be taken by lifting the ball with a foot or both feet simultaneously?
Yes. The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves.


“SOFT” RED CARD [LAW 12]
Your question:
Can you tell me exactly what a “soft red” is? Thanks a lot.

USSF answer (December 13, 2003):
A “soft red” is a concept existing only under the National Federation (high school) rules. It is a send-off which, because it was for taunting or a second yellow card, allows the team to substitute for the player who has been dismissed (i.e., the offending team does not have to play down). This concept does not exist under the Laws of the Game.


RULES OF THE COMPETITION [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
[An administrator asks:] What happens if an adult game takes place, Team A prevails 8-2, and it’s later discovered that Team B played the game with an illegal (non-registered) player? Does Team A get the 8-2 win? Is the game declared a forfeit and Team A wins 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0? Is the game to be replayed? All of these possibilities have been suggested by people I’ve spoken to but I have gotten no definitive answer. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (December 13, 2003):
Sure wish we could give you a definitive answer, but we cannot. Decisions on matters like this are not part of the Laws of the Game; they are something that only the competition authority can make.


PRIVACY AND THE REGISTRATION FORM [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
I just finished my referee recertification today – had to reregister since I missed last year. I find it hard to believe, what with all the identity theft problems we have today, that US Soccer is still requesting SS#’s for identification purposes in your database. Is there any way I can have this removed from my registration, and more importantly, why can’t we strike this requirement from the registration form? If nothing else, why not use just the last 4 digits, your initials and date of birth or something like that?

USSF answer (December 9, 2003):
If you have been registered in the past, there will be a unique USSF identification number for you. (If you do not have it, call the Referee Department at 312-808-1300. They will find it for you.)

You can have your SSAN taken off your records. It is not a required piece of information — it is optional. Because in many cases there are several individuals with the same names in the database, the SSAN along with the birthdate helps the Federation to verify we are registering the right people to the right record.


DEALING WITH INJURED PLAYERS [LAW 18; ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
I have recently become a referee. During a championship game, for u13 recreation, I was watching a game (not officiating) and had a question about the events that transpired. During the game, a player was hit in the chest with the ball. The player that was hit didn’t do it on purpose, so naturally, he had the air knocked out of him momentarily. The coach yelled for play to be stopped, the official, said “play on”. After a few minutes of yelling by fans and coaches the parents of the child came onto the field to get their son. My question is, what is the correct procedure for injuries, the laws of the game do not say clearly. Thanks for your time.

USSF answer (December 4, 2003):
On the contrary, the Laws of the Game are quite explicit on what to do about injuries to players. Please note that full details on proper procedure in dealing with injured players will be found in your Laws of the Game booklet, under the Additional Instructions for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials.

QUOTE
Dealing with injured players
Referees must follow the instructions below when dealing with injured players:
– play is allowed to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in his opinion, only slightly injured
– play is stopped if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured
– after questioning the injured player, the referee authorizes one, or at most two doctors, to enter the field to ascertain the type of injury and to arrange the player’s safe and swift removal from the field
– the stretcher-bearers should enter the field with a stretcher at the same time as the doctors to allow the player to be removed as soon as possible
– the referee ensures an injured player is safely removed from the field of play
– a player is not allowed to be treated on the field
– any player bleeding from a wound must leave the field of play. He may not return until the referee is satisfied that the bleeding has stopped
– as soon as the referee has authorized the doctors to enter the field, the player must leave the field, either on the stretcher or on foot. If a player does not comply he is cautioned for unsporting behavior
– an injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted
– an injured player may only re-enter the field from the touchline when the ball is in play. When the ball is out of play, the injured player may re-enter from any of the boundary lines
– the referee alone is authorized to allow an injured player to re-enter the field whether the ball is in play or not
– if play has not otherwise been stopped for another reason, or if an injury suffered by a player is not the result of a breach of the Laws of the Game, the referee restarts play with a dropped ball
– the referee allows for the full amount of time lost through injury to be played at the end of each period of play
Exceptions
Exceptions to this ruling are made only for:
– injury to a goalkeeper
– when a goalkeeper and an outfield player have collided and need immediate attention
– when a severe injury has occurred e.g. swallowed tongue, concussion, broken leg etc
END OF QUOTE

And this extract from an answer of September 26, 2003, should also be of help:
BEGIN EXTRACT
In addition to that sage guidance, it is important to emphasize that the Laws and the IFAB’s additional instructions assume a particular kind of game — one which is rare for the vast majority of referees. For most of us, the language of the Law or additional instructions should not be interpreted to mean that a player is required to leave the field when play was stopped solely for his injury ONLY if someone (anyone — trainer, doctor, paramedic, coach, or mom) was beckoned onto the field. The sole determinant of the requirement to leave the field is that the referee stopped play only for the injury. If the game was stopped for other reasons and someone enters the field to aid him, the player may still be required to leave the field if a great deal of attention is required to his condition.…

2003 Part 3

FIELD MARKINGS [LAW 1]
Your question:
We had a conversation between a few referees come up in regards to markings on the field. It was my opinion that in order for the game to be played there must be field markings including; goal lines, touch lines, 18yrd box, mid field, 6yrd box ect, in order for a game to be played. There was another opinion saying that the game would still be played even if there were no field markings and that devices such as cones could be used to line the field in the absence of painted lines.

Please help clarify this. I have looked in Advice for the Referees and I have found nothing to support playing the game without field markings.

USSF answer (September 26, 2003):
While unmarked fields may be acceptable for scrimmages or practice games, they are not acceptable for competitive soccer.


REFEREE AUTHORITY AND COMMON SENSE [LAW 5; LAW 7; LAW 18]
Your question:
I have a question about FIFA’s view of referee authority/discretion…

In a recent high school game, the field temperature at game time was very hot. High humidity added to the concern for player well-being. At game time, an on-the-field thermometer read 98 degrees (F). “Weather.Com” information suggested that game temperature would be over 90 degrees and would “Feel Like” 102 degrees (becase of the humidity). In summary, it was hot and uncomfortable. Both teams’ coaches approached the three-official refereeing team to ask whether a 5 minute “hydration break” could be inserted in the middle of each half to allow the players to take in fluids. The referees responded that “they did not have the authority” to split the game into what would essentially be “four quarters”. There might be rules in place by the local high school athletic association that denies the referee to make modification such as the one suggested. That is undetermined at this time.

My question, however, is this: Are there any FIFA rules or opinions that would prohibit the referees from exerting their game authority in such a way that they would not be allowed to implement a game stoppage if they felt it was appropriate?

USSF answer (September 26, 2003):
The referee has no direct authority to vary the rules of the competition or to stop the game for unspecified reasons. However, the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players. Preventing injury from heat exhaustion would fall into that aspect of the referee’s duties. The following answer may be summed up in two words: common sense.

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


REFEREE AUTHORITY [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
If a parent on the opposite sideline from the coaches, keeps bugging the Ref – bad call, call some our way, are you Blind. Or, they tell their team’s kid to take him out, or go trip him, or push him back. What am I — the Grade 8 Linesman on that side of the field, or in a SAY game, the one Ref on that half of the field — to do ? Stop Play & walk over to the coach or coaches – point out the Fan, and issue the Card to that coach & then tell them to go quite that person down or else I’ll be back to Red card you (coach) ?

Does that sound correct – (Zero Tolerance) ?

USSF answer (September 26, 2003):
One of the first things the intelligent referee learns is that spectators generally know very little about the Laws of the Game, but they are willing to tell the referee how to call the game and how all the Laws should be interpreted. What is a referee or assistant referee (AR) to do?

The referee’s authority begins when he arrives at the area of the field of play and continues until he has left the area of the field after the game has been completed. The referee’s authority extends to time when the ball is not in play, to temporary suspensions, to the half-time break, and to additional periods of play or kicks from the penalty mark required by the rules of the competition. While the referee has no direct authority over spectators, there are things that can be done. The authority of the referee over persons other than players and team officials is limited by the Law, because the Law assumes that the game is played in a facility with security staff in attendance. Those referees whose matches are watched by parents, etc., right at the touch lines, need to understand that they are not totally at the mercy of the spectators and other non-playing or coaching personnel.

In most cases, the referee should work actively to tune out comments by the spectators, particularly at youth matches, most of whom know little about the game, but who want to “protect” their children. Why should the referee tune them out? Because the referee can do nothing about comments that do not bring the game into disrepute. If the referee fails to “tune out” the spectators, they will take over (psychological) control of the game and the referee is lost.

Note: We must emphasize that the intelligent referee who is able to “tune out” spectator comments and gibes is acting for himself — and properly so — but MUST act more aggressively and proactively when such spectator behavior is directed at assistant referees, particularly youth ARs. That’s how we lose them. The referee must have ZERO tolerance for abuse aimed at the ARs and should instruct them in the pregame to bring it to the referee’s attention the moment it even begins to approach the high end of their ability to handle it on their own.

If this does not work, the next thing to do is to use the proper chain of communication. The referee at the amateur level will ask the captain of the team whose supporter is making trouble to deal with the matter. At the youth level, it is often better to go outside the chain and speak directly to the coach of the team, as youngsters are usually reluctant to become mixed up in adult problems.

If the referee decides that the activity by the spectator constitutes “grave disorder” (which could be defined to include anything which adversely affects the referee’s control of the game and/or undermines his authority), the referee can suspend the match while others handle the problem. (These “others” would be team officials or competition authorities who are at the field.) The referee can also terminate the match if appropriate action (e. g., the person is forced by someone to leave the area of the field) is not taken. In all cases, the referee must include full details in the match report.


PROBLEMS WITH REFEREES [ADMINISTRATIVE MATTER; LAW 18]
Your question:
Can a complaint be filed with ussoccer against a referee that demonstrated bias towards one team during a U-16 game in the [deleted] league? I know this is very subjective but I am very upset that Ref. consistently had what I call a quick whistle against one(visiting team) team and a slow (one onethousand, two onethousand) and at least three instances put the whistle in his mouth but no call made against the other team. Fouls were liberally called against the visiting team(including two red cards)one team meanwhile the other team played with their elbows up and took dives to stall for time without calls being made. After the game the refs approached the visiting bench and ordered the players who had been red carded to shake hands with the other team. I thought I was witnessing prison guards and not Referees. I find bias towards one team at this level totally unacceptable and feel the Ref should be disciplined. The coaches of the team are appealing the red cards and have written a “scathing” referee report to the local league. I think more should be done. Please advise me of my options.

USSF answer (September 24, 2003):
Any problems with referees must be reported to the State Referee Administrator, the State Youth Referee Administrator, or the State Referee Copmmittee.


“ACCIDENTAL” FOUL [LAW 12]
Your question:
The following situation occurred in a youth game where I was not in attendance. A parent, knowing I was a referee asked me what the correct decision should have been. Here is the situation.

Player for Team A takes a shot on goal from approximately 10 yards. Shoe of Player A proceeds to the goal along with the ball. The shoe strikes the goalie for Team B in the forehead causing him to not play the ball. The ball goes into the net.

I felt the referee had one of three possible responses:
1.) Let the goal stand. No infringement of the laws, but obviously unfair to Team B’s goalie.
2.) Consider the appearance of a show flying toward the goalie as an outside interference per Law 5 allowing the referee to stop, suspend or terminate the match because of outside interference of any kind as soon as the shoe left Player A’s foot. The restart being a drop ball at the point where Player A took the shot.
3.) Consider the flying shoe to constructively put Player A in a position of playing in a dangerous manner and award an indirect kick to Team B at the point where Player A took the shot.

I was told the referee chose option 1. My personal choice with the advantage of hindsight is option 3. Please let me know your opinion and/or official USSF response.

USSF answer (September 23, 2003):
The correct answer is none of the above.

As defined in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” (ATR) and clear from the perspective of the Spirit of the Game, a foul is an unfair or unsafe action committed by a player against an opponent or the opposing team, on the field of play, while the ball is in play. (ATR 12.1) Although the loss of the shoe was inadvertent and accidental, it was also careless. A careless act of striking toward an opponent is punishable by a direct free kick for the opponent’s team, taken from the spot where the object (or fist) hit (or would have hit) its target (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).

Although the shooter wanted to play the ball when he kicked it and did not hit the goalkeeper with his shoe deliberately, he has still committed a foul. Direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team from the place where the shoe struck the goalkeeper (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).


PLAYING WITH FEWER THAN THE ALLOWED NUMBER OF PLAYERS [LAW 3; LAW 18]
Your question:
Over the past few years, I have worked a number of U10 and U12 games that turned into whitewashes with scores of 10 to 0 and 12 to 0 or more. Typically the coach of the winning team will restrict his players from taking shots towards the end of the game, require a certain number of passes before a shot can be taken or allow only certain players to take shots on goal in an effort to keep the score down. However, these tactics usually come way too late in the game and don’t really work. Once my 3-1/2 year old is old enough to begin playing soccer and I enter the coaching ranks again, I believe that I would like to try a different approach to curb scoring in a lopsided victory. If my team is on its way to an obvious run away win, I will begin to remove players from the field. Perhaps my team will have only 8 or 9 players on the field when the game ends, however, I believe it would be a much better game for all involved especially at U10 and U12. My question is about removing these players from the field. Once a team starts the game with 11 players what is the correct procedure for reducing player strength to 10 or fewer players. During a stoppage in play, do I simply call for a substitution and have a player leave the field with no substitute entering the field of play. What would be the correct procedure?

USSF answer (September 23, 2003):
Law 3 requires only that a team not have more than 11 and no less than 7 players on the field at any time during a game — or whatever numbers are set by the rules of the competition in which the teams are playing. There is no requirement in the Law that a team must have the full number of players on the field at any one time. A player must simply ask the referee’s permission to leave the field if the coach wants to reduce the number of players on the field. This can occur at a stoppage or during play.


CALLING FOULS [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Team A moves the ball down the field and into the penalty area of Team B. There are 3 or 4 of Team A¹s players in the box as well. A bit of jostling goes on near the 6-yard box, but keeper comes out and picks up the ball. As both teams¹ players are moving out of the penalty area, a player from Team B throws an elbow at a Team A player. This happens a step or two inside the box, but as the players are moving away from the keeper and toward the middle of the field. These are U-18 players, FYI. How would you suggest it be handled?

The referee at the time whistled a foul, carded the Team B player, and awarded a penalty kick. Proper? Would you have done that? Looking for an answer that is not just right, but correct and wise.

USSF answer (September 21, 2003):
If the referee determines that a player has committed a direct-free-kick foul within his team’s penalty area, the only possible course of action is to award a penalty kick to the opposing team. Any misconduct involved will also have to be punished.


URBAN MYTHS IN REFEREEING [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before … it’s been all over the internet lately.

A player commits a technical offense in his own penalty area. The referee stops play for the offense, then mistakenly awards a penalty kick instead of an indirect free kick. The ball is kicked directly into the goal. Prior to the kickoff, the AR finally gets the referee’s attention and tells him that it should have been an IFK. Can the referee go back, take away the goal, and restart with the correct IFK? Is an incorrect restart actually a restart?

I know the referee only has until the next restart to change his mind. But which restart is that? The incorrectly awarded PK? Or the next restart after that mistake, the kickoff?

USSF answer (September 20, 2003):
Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Most of it is urban myths — except what you read here.

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

Everything depends on the state of the referee’s mind (aside from confusion and inadequate training). If the referee stopped play for what in his mind was a direct free kick offense by the defenders inside their penalty area, then the penalty kick was the correct restart for that state of mind and, once it occurred, was a proper restart and all subsequent play has to be counted (including a goal). Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa in the game report if he then has to change his mind based on evidence/argument from his fellow officials after some later discussion.

If the referee stopped play for an indirect free kick offense (which he recognized as an indirect free kick offense) but got the restart wrong, calling incorrectly for a penalty kick instead of an indirect free kick, then the restart was a mistake which could be corrected anytime up to the kick and even afterward if discovered “quickly” (don’t tie us down to a particular length of time), and any goal scored would be cancelled because it would have been the result of an improper restart. Mea (but not maxima) culpa in the game report. This would be equivalent to the referee knowing that the ball left the field across the touch line but stating that the restart would be a free kick and then correcting himself even if a player had picked up the ball and thrown it onto the field.

Doesn’t seem fair? Too bad, but the referee will have to live with his mistake. Which brings us to communication between the referee and the assistant referee (AR).

Why did the AR take so long to get the referee’s attention? Referee and AR are supposed to exchange information at every possible opportunity, particularly at stoppages, to ensure that things are going correctly. The AR had plenty of time to get the information to the referee, even if it meant coming into the field to pass that information. There is NO EXCUSE! for slipshod communication.


PLAYING TIME — GET IT RIGHT! [LAW 7; LAW 18]
Your question:
I posed this question to four of the referees in our local association and got three different answers (and one abstention). I hope you can get us all on the same page.

30 minutes into the first half of an Under 16 girls game, the referee made a routine tripping call against White, about 25 yards away from White’s goal. On the play, the Blue forward was injured. It looked serious at first, but was not. The stoppage lasted at least 15 minutes however, because paramedics were called and had to take her off for stitches.

Before the restart (a direct free-kick for Blue), the referee blew his whistle twice and signaled for half-time. In other words, he did not add any time for the injury. The half-time interval was the normal 15 minutes.

When the teams returned, he had them assume the same sides of the field they occupied during the first half, and started play with Blue’s direct free kick. He allowed play to continue for a minute or two, then again blew his whistle twice. He had the players switch sides immediately, and restarted with a kick off.

He ended the second half after about 32 minutes – the same amount of actual playing time that had elapsed in the first half. (Our under 16s normally play two 40-minute halves.) It was a normal league game, with no need to end by a certain time as can happen in some tournaments.

It was a strange sequence. I think it was a mistake to shorten the second half, but otherwise I don’t see any violations of the laws. Added time is at his discretion, so it appears OK to end the first half when he did. If he decides that was too short a time, he can rectify his “mistake” before the next restart, so to call the players out to finish the first half seems legit. Did he get anything wrong?

USSF answer (September 19, 2003):
Law 7 requires two equal halves. Once the paramedics had removed the injured player from the field, the referee should have restarted the game with the direct free kick for the tripping infringement. The time allotted for the remainder of the half should have been the amount necessary to complete the first half of (insert appropriate number) minutes. The referee should then have taken the normal half-time break and played the second half of (insert appropriate number) minutes.

By doing as he did, the referee set aside the requirement in Law 7 for two periods of equal length. This is a matter of fact, not referee judgment. The 15-minute halftime break taken before the resumption of any play was entirely out of line, particularly as the game had been delayed for 15 minutes by the injury.

Full details of how to deal with such a situation are found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
7.3 MISTAKEN ENDING
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 the referee discovers that a period of play was ended prematurely but a subsequent period of play has started, the match must be abandoned and the full details of the error included in the game report.


DEALING WITH MISCONDUCT ON AN ADVANTAGE SITUATION [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Defender #6 commits a misconduct for which the referee has decided to send him off (direct red or second yellow). However, a really good advantage exists for the attacking team and the referee expects no retaliation. If the referee applies the advantage and does nothing else, this is what will happen. The attacking team will realize their advantage, but will misplay the ball and not score. The ball will remain in play and an undesirable event will occur — Defender #6 will eventually either score a goal or commit further misconduct.

Within LOTG the referee could (1) stop play immediately and not allow advantage, (2) deal with misconduct after the ball is out of play, or (3) stop play somewhere in between those times solely for the purpose of sending off Defender #6. My question: If the referee opts for (3), when is the best/fairest time to stop play? Would it be immediately after the attacking team misplays the ball and does not score? Or some other time such as when the referee “feels like it?”

USSF answer (September 17, 2003):
Any of the alternatives could be correct, depending on the game situation. The same is true for the timing if option 3 is used — it will have to depend on how the referee reads the game at that time.


SUPPORTING OTHER PLAYERS? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I was at a match the other day, boys 16. On a direct free kick the defending team formed a wall 10 yards from where the ball was placed for the taking of the kick. The boys at this age all very in size and in the wall one of the average sized defenders hosted up on his shoulders one of the smallest player.

Is this not allowed? And, if not allowed, which law is it to apply and when do you apply the law?

USSF answer (September 17, 2003):
Players are not allowed to use other players or any of the field appurtenances (goal or flags) to support themselves. To do so is to bring the game into disrepute, for which the punishment is a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior. If the ball is in play, the correct restart is an indirect free kick from the place where the misconduct occurred, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8 regarding free kicks in the goal area.

If possible, the intelligent referee will take preventive steps in such a situation and, if the misconduct is cautioned before the free kick is taken, will also stay with the original restart (based on the principle that “nothing that happens when the ball is not in play changes the restart”).


WHAT TO DO IF THE REFEREE CANNOT PHYSICALLY FINISH THE GAME [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
I am a referee as well as a coach. I participate in a soccer forum on a site hosted by [name deleted]. A member of the forum is reporting that they brought a question to “Ask a Ref”. The answer being reported as coming from here concerns me.

What is being reported is that should a CR be unable to complete a match then an AR should move to the CR and the match should be completed with only 2 officials. This does not agree with the instructions on page 35 of the administrative handbook that is also posted on this site. My understanding based on what I read is that if you can not comply with one of the listed options, the match should be abandoned and a report written to the completion authority.
1) Was the question asked and answered “here” or elsewhere?
2) Am I reading the Admin. Handbook incorrectly?

USSF answer (September 17, 2003):
[NOTE: THIS ANSWER PRESUPPOSES THAT THERE ARE NO OTHER QUALIFIED OFFICIALS AT THE FIELD] 1. Yes, the question was asked and answered here. That answer was approved by Julie Ilacqua, Managing Director of Federation Services for the United States Soccer Federation, as was this one. The original answer is reproduced here for clarity: QUOTE Original Question:
Is is proper for a CR & and AR to switch at the half? I’ve heard that some believe this is okay, say for example in hot climates. I can’t find this addressed anywhere in LOTG or Ref Admin book.
USSF answer (September 16, 2003): You will not find it addressed in any of the books because it is a situation that cannot and should not occur. The only occasion on which a referee would relinquish his or her authority over a match would be if the referee had become too ill to continue. In that case, the referee would not run the line either, but would go home. Unless there was a fourth official to take over as either referee or as an assistant referee — depending on the rules of the competition — the remaining two officials would work the game on their own. One would become the referee, working mostly on one side of the field, while the other assistant referee would remain as an assistant referee, working the other side of the field, but extending his or her range a bit to provide more assistance to the new referee.
END OF QUOTE

It has never been the policy of the United States Soccer Federation that a referee and an assistant referee may exchange jobs in the middle of a game other than through incapacitation of the referee, which is why the situation posited in the question should never have occurred.

2. Yes, you are reading the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) incorrectly. You are correct in that the RAH does specify that the game be controlled under the Diagonal System of Control (DSC), meaning three officials. However, the text (cited below) goes on to say that the National Referee Committee “prefers” the various alternatives listed. When those alternatives cannot be fulfilled, then common practice throughout the United States is as described in the answer of September 16, 2003.

Herewith the text of page 35 of the RAH:
POLICY:
Systems of Officiating 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 national competitions sponsored by the U.S. Soccer Federation. require the use of this officiating system.

In order to comply with the Laws of the Game which have been adopted by the National Council, all soccer games sanctioned directly or indirectly by member organizations of the U. S. Soccer Federation must employ the diagonal system (three officials). As a matter of policy, the National Referee Committee prefers the following alternatives in order of preference:
1. One Federation referee and two Federation referees as assistant referees (the standard ALL organizations should strive to meet).
2. One Federation referee and two assistant referees, one of whom is a Federation referee and one of whom is a trainee of the local referee program.
3. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are both unrelated to either team participating in the game but are not Federation referees, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).
4. One Federation referee and two assistant referees who are not both Federation referees and who are affiliated with the participating teams, (only if there are not enough Federation referees to have #1 or #2).

Member organizations and their affiliates should make every effort to assist in recruiting officials so that enough Federation referees will be available to permit use of the diagonal officiating system for ALL their competitions.


TACKLE FROM BEHIND [LAW 12]
Your question:
A defender has been beat and the forward with the ball is moving in on the goal. The defender attempts a slide tackle from behind, but misses. The forward immediately scores on that play.

With play stopped for the goal, should the defender that attempted the slide from behind be warned by the official verbally or given a yellow card, even if no contact is made?

USSF answer (September 17, 2003):
Why? Why punish a perfectly legal play — and it is NOT an infringement to tackle fairly from behind — if there was no foul committed?


JUMPING AT [LAW 12]
Your question:
We were have a discussion about Law 12 and “Jump At a Player”. The majority of those in the discussion only called this foul when there was contact between players. I look in the Advice to Referees and did not find any reference. Can you give me a call on this point and how far or close must players be when another player jumps into the air when not attempting a “header”?

My understanding of the word “AT” is defined as “in the direction of” or “toward the direction of”; am I taking this to mean the wrong thing? I have always considered this to be a way to intimidate a player who was not as aggressive, especially at younger age groups U12 and less. I do not see this move in the pro or world cup games.

USSF answer (September 17, 2003):
Some of your interlocutors do not appear to understand the English language very well — or soccer. “Jumping at” means precisely that: launching one’s body toward that of the opponent. It can be from a standing or “flying” position. It can be done to intimidate or in a feigned (really meant to distract or intimidate the opponent) or genuine but unsuccessful attempt to gain the ball. It is most often seen under the pretext of heading the ball, but may also be seen when a player launches himself through the air, feet first, to “tackle” away the ball. You will find two references to jumping at an opponent in the USSF publication “Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players,” published annually.

4. Offenses against goalkeepers
It is an offense if a player:
(a) jumps at a goalkeeper under the pretext of heading the ball;

7. Jumping at an opponent A player who jumps at an opponent under the pretext of heading the ball shall be penalized by the award of a direct free kick to the opposing team

Two things to remember about “jumping at” an opponent:
(1) Contact is clearly not required for this foul
(2) This is one of those fouls where the “rule of thumb” about “playing the player rather than the ball” is particularly apt as a shorthand way of viewing the offense — the foul is almost certain when the offending player is looking at the opponent rather than the ball.…