2004 Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

What would your advice be in this situation.

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


GOALKEEPER’S WATER BOTTLE IS AN OUTSIDE AGENT
Your question:
This situation occurred in a recent U-13  Boys competitive tournament game: The attacking team, one goal down, brought the ball into the opponent¹s penalty and put a shot on goal that appeared to be headed into the goal.  The ball struck the goalkeeper¹s water cooler (about 12 inches in diameter) which was setting just inside the left goalpost with its front edge just beyond the goal line.  The ball rebounded into the field of play having never completely crossed the goal line and the referee allowed play to continue. Several of the attacking players complained to the point where the referee stopped play, yelled at one of the attacking players and eventually dismissed an angry parent who had come out onto the field. He awarded an IFK for the defending team at the spot where he stopped play.

Was the referee correct to allow play to continue after the water cooler prevented a goal from being scored? What would be the correct restart if he was not correct? Should the goalkeeper be cautioned for setting his cooler where he did?

It seems this could all have been avoided if the AR had properly checked the nets and goal area prior to the start of the second half.

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
Don’t put all the blame on the assistant referee. The referee should have been closer to the scene than any AR and should have told the goalkeeper to move the water cooler well away from the goal immediately, long before the ball struck it.

As to the goal, the referee should have stopped play immediately when the ball rebounded from the cooler and restarted with a dropped ball at the place on the goal area line (the “six-yard line”) nearest to where the outside agent (the water cooler) interfered with the ball. No caution is necessary for anyone in this case.


IN A FOG?
Your question:
At a tournament with games scheduled on the hour all day long; the first game at 8:00AM was delayed by fog. The fog was very thick, but the ref, standing in the center circle could see both goals and all four corner flags; wanted to start the game. Standing at one goal you could not see the opposite goal and the assistant refs could not see each other. The coaches could not see the full pitch and did not want to start play until the fog cleared. Is there a USSF “fog” guide line to follow?

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
There are no fixed rules for determining when to call a game for poor visibility, whether it be fog or darkness. Once the game starts, the referee is the sole judge of whether or not the light is insufficient to see. Some referees have common sense; others do not. One common sense decision might be that if the assistant referees cannot see one another, there is not enough light for the players to see.

If all else fails, the referee should follow the Spirit of the Game and ensure that the players are afforded safety, equal treatment, and are able to enjoy the game. That would not happen if they could not see what they were doing.


GOALKEEPER RELEASE OF BALL AT PENALTY AREA LINE; CORNER KICK PLACEMENT
Your question:
It must be my imagination, but in professional play, keepers consistently run up to the end of the penalty area and kick the ball outside of the penalty area (sometimes using the mid circle at the top of the box), has the law changed to allow this?

Has the law ever determined where the ball can be placed at the corner? Half-in & half-out.

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
As long as the goalkeeper releases the ball before leaving the penalty area‹and does it within six seconds of having taken possession‹he or she may kick the ball wherever and whenever it seems best. Marginal offenses of this nature are either trifling or doubtful and hence, even though an actual infringement of the Law, should be ignored (or, at most, noted with a warning).

The lawmakers have established that at least a portion of the ball must be in contact with either the corner arc or that portion of the goal line or touch line that is within the corner area.


ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE LAWS OF THE GAME; PLACEMENT FOR OFFSIDE RESTART; REFEREES NOT FOLLOWING GUIDELINES
Your question:
The AR in the picture is always standing even with the offending attacking player, not the second last defender. Do they/did they used to do it this way, or is this an artist assuming something that did not get caught?

Part II
Seems if an attacker was WAY offside – like near the goal area and the 2nd last defender was near the halfway line, then restarting with an IFK where the attacker was would be unfair. In practice I generally see the kick taken from where both the AR usually is – the 2nd last defender.

I know what the ATR says – but it does not match what I see (no big deal).

USSF answer (September 10, 2004):
If the attacker has advanced beyond the second-last defender, then the assistant referee is expected to move with that attacker. Although the AR may appear to be with the attacker in some situations, in reality, the AR has followed the ball when it was played past the second to last defender (as he should) and then stopped, squared, and signaled when it became evident that the attacker in the offside position had become involved in active play.

The restart for offside is where the offside player was when he or she became offside, not where the second-last defender was.

As for Part II, what can anyone say when confronted with the suggestion that, perhaps, just maybe, some referees are not performing their duties as prescribed in Advice to Referees or Guide to Procedures? All referees should resolve not to make the same mistake that apparently a number of our colleagues are apparently making. In any event, fairness is not the issue. An attacker has violated the Law and the Law prescribes the how, when, and where of the punishment. It doesn’t need to be “fair,” only just.


NEPOTISM
Your question:
Is there any statement by us soccer or an appropriate youth soccer organization that addresses nepotism and refereeing? We have two teen brothers, one who refs games in which a team is coached by his brother and mother. The mother (the youth soccer president) claims no one else is qualified, and refuses to recognize that this might be a conflict of interest. What do you think? Thanks for your time!

USSF answer (September 9, 2004):
In the 2004 edition of the Referee Administrative Handbook, p. 38, it suggests that assistant referees should not be related in any way to either team participating in the game unless it is impossible to get other affiliated officials assigned. Unfortunately, sometimes the referee game assignors do not have enough bodies to go around and ask parents or siblings to referee games in which their kin will be playing. The pertinent text says that referees “should not referee in any match in which they have a vested interest.” If a family member is playing and/or coaching, the referee has a vested interest. A complaint should be sent to the league and the state association.


SECOND TOUCH BY ‘KEEPER?
Your question:
I was watching a Mexican League match on T.V. and saw a play where the G.K. had the ball in the palm of his right hand (not extended) and was slowly walking the ball toward the edge of the penalty area. Everyone except for one attacker had cleared the penalty area and was in front of keeper. The lone attacker then came in from behind the keeper and knocked the ball from his hand using only his head. There did not seem to be any other contact other than the ball being “headed” out of the keepers hand. The attacker then collected the ball, pivoted and shot the ball into the net. The center referee then blew his whistle and disallowed the goal. Obviously, there was no clear explanation from the official as to what he had sanctioned. On the replay (and it was replayed quite a few times!) you could see AR2 raising his flag. There was no way to know if the center blew his whistle as a result of the flag or if he saw something on his own. Unfortunately the replay stopped short of showing if the AR “wiggled” his flag or simply raised it (I was thinking that the AR was signaling that the attacker was offside since he was not behind the ball).

To make matters worse, in the second half of the same match, the same thing occurred again! A different attacker “headed” the ball out of the keepers hand. As the attacker attempted to pass the keeper in order to collect the ball, the keeper basically grabbed the attacker and pulled him down! This time the referee swallowed his whistle and did not sanction either the “heading” of the ball or the fact that the keeper committed a major foul. The referee should have awarded a PK and the keeper should have been sent off!

I am not making this up! This was the opening match for Pumas of Mexico against the University of Guadalajara (Tecos). You have got to get a copy of this to review.

So, what is the correct ruling?

USSF answer (September 9, 2004):
The referee’s decision on the ball headed from the goalkeeper’s hand non-dangerously should be “no infringement.” This is the result of a new question and answer in the IFAB’s Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game for 2004.

As to the possible penalty kick, there isn’t much we can say about that, as we haven’t yet seen it.

NOTE: If anyone has a spare copy of the Pumas-Tecos game, I would like a copy of it, please.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION
AMENDED ANSWER DATED SEPTEMBER 8, 2004
Your question:
Question:I was just reading through the FIFA Q& A for 2004 and I have come upon 2 points which interest me and also confuse me to some degree. According the the document:
Law 12 21. If a goalkeeper is bouncing the ball, may an opponent play the ball as it touches the ground, provided he is not guilty of dangerous play?
Yes
22. After taking possession of the ball, a goalkeeper allows it to lie on his open hand. An opponent comes from behind him and heads the ball from his hand. Is this permitted?
This is permitted since the goalkeeper does not have full possession of the ball and the action of the opponent is not dangerous.

When I read ATR 12.16 and 12.17 I would have to interpret different things regarding such challenges for possession with the GK. I’m slightly surprised that FIFA would interpret the law in this way, but I can see it coming as part of their emphasis on supporting attacking soccer. My question is, what should we referees in the USA do regarding this tweak in interpretation. I’m assuming the USSF will be coming out with a revision to ATR or a position paper eventually) Until, something does come out, should we be enforcing the law in the way the ATR notes, or the way the Q&A notes? Thank you for any advice you can offer.

USSF AMENDED answer (September 8, 2004)(was August 4, 2004):
We are pleased to see that you are keeping up with more than just The Laws of The Game. FIFA’s Questions and Answers is an important document which has been used in the past to announce important changes in how to interpret various aspects of the Law. You have pointed to two of them (and there are others in the new version of the Q&A. Since FIFA officially published this on July 1, it becomes effective immediately world-wide and we are all obliged to officiate in accordance with our understanding of its guidelines. USSF is in the process of seeking clarification from FIFA regarding several of the new interpretations and, when we are clear about them, it is likely that there will be an announcement to assist referees in understanding what is new in the 2004 version. Where this means changes in Advice to Referees, we will include that information as well.

Meanwhile, our understanding of the provisions you have identified is that the ball is playable by an opponent at the moment the ball hits the ground when the goalkeeper has obviously released it‹but not if the goalkeeper is in the process of actively distributing the ball. The ball is playable by an opponent attempting to head it if the ball is being held in the open hand of the goalkeeper‹but not if the goalkeeper is in the process of distributing the ball. However, in either case, the opponent’s action must not be dangerous.


ALERTING THE GOALKEEPER NOT NECESSARY
Your question:
In an adult amateur game, I the center referee called a DFK at 20 yds. from goal for the attacking team. After showing the ‘no restart until the whistle sounds’, moving the defense 10 yds. from the ball and positioning myself; I blew the whistle, shot and goal occurred. I was then surrounded by the defense and approached on the field by the manager telling me I should have made sure the goalie was ready for play to restart. He claims that he was still positioning his wall. I said that was his problem, a wall is not a right, I told him to leave the field which he did. We restarted with a kickoff, the goal stands. It took about 2 to 4 seconds after moving the wall back that I was in position and blew the whistle. Does all look well to you?

USSF answer (September 1, 2004):
The goalkeeper should be ready at all times. There is no need to alert the goalkeeper at kick-offs, at penalty kicks, or at free kicks or corner kicks. In fact, the defending team has no “right” under the Laws of the Game to form a wall, as this is simply a way to waste time. The kicking team has the right to be able to take the kick quickly and without interference.


THERE HAVE BEEN NO/ZERO/RIEN/NIL/KEINE CHANGES IN OFFSIDE!
Your question:
Your recent response to the offside query about the Olympic Women’s USA-Japan game was done while I was composing the same question about those 3 USA players trapped offside while another USA player dashed forward and scored the winning goal. This situation also occurred in an Olympic Men’s game (I forget the teams) where a 15 foot pass was made to a player who was way offside. He nonchalantly let the ball slip in front of him while an onside player (you now use the term ‘onside’ I see) ran behind him, got the ball and scored the winning goal. In prior times these were automatic calls of offside. A sleepy referee could feel comfortable where a player was offside knowing that any pass forward would get a whistle toot.

So, without any re-wording of the laws we have a dramatically changed game. We now have a ‘tactical offside’ in the game. The offside traps that teams practice so much are questionable practices now. This new emphasis on application of the laws should have been preceded with drum rolls, fanfare and sky rockets because that much of an impact has been made.

Three well-schooled referees can administer a re-emphasized offside call, but it will be an extreme problem for all those many, many games controlled by a single referee. Spotting the offside positioned player was previously enough, and that’s not so easy a feat for a lone ref. Now the other attacking players will also have to be monitored with precision. I foresee great problems at all amateur levels. What we need now is advice to referees – and to coaches, and to fans by multiple publications.

We have three levels of rules for soccer. Those drawn up by FIFA, those devised by competitions, those applied by referees. I can see lone referees announcing before the game that they will not apply the New Offside Call (NOC) – they won’t NOC the game.

What advice is pertinent now?

USSF answer (September 1, 2004):
There has been NO major change in any portion of Law 11 nor in the Federation’s interpretation of the Law. We have used the term “onside” for many years and even issued a list of correctly-spelled terms a few years ago that removed the Anglicized hyphen from on-side, just as it is removed from off-side. The information in the Advice to Referees continues to apply.

The player in the offside situation in the men’s game in the Olympics clearly indicated his noninvolvement in play, as is required by the Law, by standing at attention. This is a legal tactic approved at the highest levels and perfectly permissible to play at any level. In fact, it was used to good effect by Brazil at the 1994 World Cup held here in the United States.

As to the three sorts of rules for soccer, they do exist: the Laws of the Game, the rules of the competition, and the way the referee chooses to call the game on any given day. And there is nothing that can be done about it, as long as state or national administrators are lax in ensuring that competitions follow the Laws of the Game, rather than going off on their own; as long as assessors and administrators are lax in failing to reprimand and punish referees for not following the Laws of the Game and the directives of the Federation; and as long as instructors fail to provide the proper path to enlightenment.


REVIEWING THE “4 D’s”
Your question:
A ball is played forward towards the goal from approximately mid field. The ball lands approximately equal distance between the Defending GK and the attacker. A 50-50 ball; both players charge towards the ball (the attacker is not offside), The defending GK leaves her PA to play the ball. Both players arrive at the ball nearly at the same time and the defending GK fouls the attacker in the process of playing the ball. Does this foul warrant a caution or an ejection?

USSF answer (August 31, 2004):
If the goalkeeper fouls the opposing player while “in the process of playing the ball,” the referee would call the foul. The referee would then apply the Four D’s (see below) in determining whether or not to send off the goalkeeper for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player¹s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick.

A position paper of late 2002 from the Manager of Referee Development and Education on obvious goalscoring opportunities (affectionately known as “The 4Ds”), which applies to Reason 5 under Law 12, and states:
QUOTE
In order for a player to be sent off for denying an “obvious goal-scoring opportunity,” four elements must be present:
– Number of Defenders ‹ not more than one defender between the foul and the goal, not counting the defender who committed the foul
– Distance to goal ‹ the closer the foul is to the goal, the more likely it is an obvious goalscoring opportunity
– Distance to ball ‹ the attacker must have been close enough to the ball at the time of the foul to have continued playing the ball
– Direction of play ‹ the attacker must have been moving toward the goal at the time the foul was committed
If any element is missing, there can be no send off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Further, the presence of each of these elements must be “obvious” in order for the send off to be appropriate under this provision of Law 12.
END OF QUOTE

And there is always the possibility that the foul itself might have warranted a send-off and red card, whether there was an obvious goalscoring opportunity or not.

In all cases, the final decision is based on the opinion of the referee.


NO PERMISSION TO SUBSTITUTE
Your question:
Team A lines up for a goal kick. Team A’s coach indicates to the youth linesmen that he wants to substitute a player. The youth linesmen raises his flag momentarily, but the youth ref does not see it. At this time, one player for Team A begins to leave the field. Team A proceeds to make the goal kick, and the linesmen puts his flag down and runs to get in position with the last defender. Another 3 -5 seconds go by and Team A’s extra player runs on the field, while the exiting player is still on the field by about 10 yards or so.

The goal kick is short and goes to Team B. Team B gets the ball dribbles to the goal and scores.

The coach for Team A is upset and wants the goal called back. However, the center Ref never gave him permission to substitute even though the linesmen tried for a moment to get his attention.

The center ref let the goal stand. He did not card the subs. He could have cared them for entering and leaving the field, but since it was a youth game and they just got scored on he let that go. Should he have disallowed the goal since the team was substituting in the middle of the goal kick being taken?

USSF answer (August 31, 2004):
The referee took the correct action by doing nothing. Score the goal and get on with the game, after admonishing the two players for their illegal actions. The referee could caution both players for leaving (the player going out) and entering (the new player coming in) the field without permission, but if no harm was done the offense seems trifling in this particular situation.

The coach of Team A has no authority and no reason to complain. Substitutes may not enter the field until the player they are replacing has left, and no player may leave or enter the field for any reason without the permission of the referee. If the coach protests too much, he or she is behaving irresponsibly and should be asked to leave the vicinity of the field. The referee should give a complete summary of the incident in the match report.


TRIFLING INFRINGEMENT
Your question:
In a recent tournament championship match a player from the opposing team was admittedly fouled (though not hard, he never left his feet). Before the referee blew the whistle, the player picked up the ball and began positioning it for his indirect kick. Since the ball was still in play until the whistle sounded, was this not a hand ball? The officials response when I questioned him was, “I was getting ready to blow the whistle.” What was the proper procedure in this situation?

USSF answer (August 30, 2004):
While the player’s act was a bit premature, there is no need for punishment in this case. Once the referee has decided that an infringement has taken place, play has been stopped, whether or not the referee has announced the decision by blowing the whistle. The referee should allow the free kick to proceed, but should also warn the player to wait for the whistle the next time, as not all referees are as quick witted or understanding as in this instance.


BEHAVIOR OF THE “WALL”
Your question:
Late in a tied game, a free kick is awarded to the Red team, three yards beyond the penalty area, within the penalty arc, obviously a very dangerous opportunity. After the usual delay, the Blue team is moved back the specified ten yards and all seems ready.  The referee blows the whistle to indicate the kick is to be taken.  As the Red player runs to the ball, in an obviously well-choreographed maneuver the players in the “wall” all spin around, now facing their goal, and put their arms straight up from their shoulders.  The kick is taken and the ball hits one of those extended arms, deflecting in such a way as to be easily recovered by the Blue GK.

I couldn’t justify a handling call, at least not to myself, although certainly many Red players were of that opinion.  I decided that the “spinning and stretching” constituted Unsporting Behaviour, and taking place before the kick, I could rule that the kick never officially happened. I Cautioned the Blue Captain (he was in the wall), reset the ceremonial free kick and saw it converted for the winning goal.

Was I correct in my decision?

USSF answer (August 30, 2004):
The referee must recognize that while members of the wall are allowed to jump about when opponents are taking a kick, choreographed actions that are unnatural and designed to both intimidate and to shock and distract their opponents constitute bringing the game into disrepute. As this occurred before the ball was in play, the correct call could be unsporting behavior on the part of the player who played the ball with the hand. Caution and show the yellow card; restart with the free kick.

However, it would be more reasonable‹and more just‹to decide that a handling offense occurred. After all, the hands/arms were not being carried in a “natural position” and the action was taken deliberately to increase unfairly the “size” of the wall. Even a defender at the end of the wall putting his hand on his hip with his elbow out is considered to have handled the ball if it strikes the elbow‹and this action is far less extreme than the example given. That would make the restart a penalty kick (based on your description of the location of the kick), rather than a retake of the original free kick.


YOUTH RULES ON HOT WEATHER?
Your question:
I am becoming more concerned about the safety of 12 year old soccer players for the following reasons. In recent tournaments over HOT & HUMID August weekends, these 12 year old children, playing in u13 tournament competition, played 2 games of 70 min each (starting at 8am) on Saturday and finished (by 5pm) on Sunday with two additional games of 70 min each plus two overtimes of 10 min each.

By my calculations these children played 300 min of soccer in less than 34 hours! Are the USSF youth tournament directors trying to teach these kids about soccer or trying to “burn them out” (literally) in the August heat? We would certainly never ask our adult professionals to compete in three full games in a day and a half, so why the children?

What are the USSF rules and regulations for children’s games over a weekend?

USSF answer (August 27, 2004):
You should send your concerns to your state association and then to US Youth Soccer, . We don’t set the tournament rules of play.


SECOND TOUCH BY ‘KEEPER?
Your question:
This situation happened in a game I was working last week and lead to some discussion after the game.

The attacking team takes a shot on goal. The defending keeper moves across his goal and has to stretch his arms out to his side to attempt to catch the ball. The ball deflects off of his hands and falls to the ground. The keeper takes a quick look around and seeing that there are no attackers near him decides to dribble the ball up to the top of the penalty box and then picks up the ball and punts it. The referee stopped play and awarded an indirect free kick for a second touch. The discussion after the game centered around whether the referee considered this a save and then an accidental rebound. The referee said that he considered it a save but at the time the keeper started to dribble the ball with his feet the keeper gave up his opportunity to pick up the rebound with his hands. The referee said that if the keeper had picked up the ball before dribbling it, that he would not have considered it a second touch but would have considered it a continuation of the save. The majority of the other referees who were at this game said that since the keeper had made a save and the rebound was accidental that the keeper can now dribble the ball with his feet and pick it up and this is not a second touch.

Can you shed some light on which is the correct call to make for these type of rebound situations.

USSF answer (August 27, 2004):
Where do people get the notion that dribbling the ball with the feet somehow changes the situation? The referee was wrong on both counts‹saving (deflecting) the ball and then dribbling it didn’t change the fact that, not having gained possession in the first place, the ‘keeper could handle the ball‹and picking up the ball and then dribbling it didn’t change the fact that, having controlled it with his hands, the ball could not directly be touched again by the ‘keeper.


“NEGATIVE” OR NON-STANDARD SIGNALS
Your question:
3-4 years ago I was instructed that negative signals were not in the procedures and should never be used.

A couple of years ago I was informed that there was a shift in the wind and negative signals were an effective tool and could be used when appropriate.

What is the USSF position on negative signals?

USSF answer (August 27, 2004):
There was a time (longer ago than 3-4 years, however) when negative signals or, more generally, any signals not specifically approved by FIFA or USSF and not described in the Guide to Procedures were discouraged. With the publication of the 1998 Guide to Procedures, that emphasis began to change. The 1998 Guide stated:
Other signals or methods of communication intended to supplement those described here are permitted only if they do not conflict with established procedures and only if they do not intrude on the game, are not distracting, are limited in number and purpose, and are carefully described by the referee prior to the commencement of a match.

This included so-called “negative signals” (for example, the assistant referee indicating “no offside”). If the officiating team discussed such a signal ahead of time and it met the criteria, using it is okay so long as it is kept within reasonable limits. Remember, the purpose of any signal is to communicate so it must do that much at least.

USSF’s approach continues to follow this guideline. Even the occasional use of some gesture by the referee to indicate a handling offense or tripping is acceptable if, in the opinion of the referee, it is NEEDED FOR THIS PARTICULAR GAME to communicate essential information in a critical situation. “Negative” or non-standard signals should not become standard practice for every game.


OUT-OF-SHAPE REFEREES
Your question:
In the past few years of my refereeing, I’ve seen too much of youth referees that are out of shape (way overweight, unfit…), especially in a recent tournament one of those refs who is also an assignor for high school games kept using foul language and making fun of the younger referees. I kept my mouth shut since any conversation would’ve ended my game assignment. The local referee coordinator of the tournament had nothing to say either, since his game plans would’ve been affected. Is there a better way to enlighten this referee of his behavior?

USSF answer (August 24, 2004):
You should submit a full report to the State Referee Administrator or State Youth Referee Administrator in your state. Before writing, you should consider first making a phone call to let the SRA know what is going on. The SRA might then consider sending someone to take a look at the referee(s). Once you have reported it you have done your duty.


DECEPTION AND THE “RIGHT” TO SET UP A WALL
Your question:
Two interesting sequence of events in recent youth games I was observing instead of refereeing that I would like your comments on:

1. A direct kick was awarded just outside the penalty area near the penalty arc. The attacking team quickly positioned 3 players 10 yards from the ball on the most direct line for the ball to travel to the near post and then hunched down. The defensive team was slow to set up their wall and complained to the referee that the attacking team was interfering with them. The referee to his credit ignored them and backed up to watch the kick. The defending team set up their ball next to the three attacking players, which left the both the near and far post as attack points. The ball was struck toward the near post with sufficient bend to thwart the goalie’s save attempt. Needless to the say the coach complained after the game to the referee that A) the attacking team interfered with his team’s ability to set up the wall and B) the attacking players kneeling was unsporting behavior. Was the fact that the defending team could have set up the wall directly behind the kneeling players something the referee should point out to the coach, which would have nullified the both the attackers being where the defenders wanted to be and the kneeling? Or does the referee simply state the defending team has no more right to any particular spot on the field while waiting for the restart than the attacking team? How about the kneeling?

2. An indirect kick was awarded just inside the penalty area where the penalty arc met the top of the penalty area (the spot is just for reference, this situation could apply anywhere). One boy from the attacking team placed the ball where the referee indicated, then was joined by two teammates who stood between the defending players and the ball, conferring with the third attacker, particularly shielding the defending team’s view of the ball. While the defense is setting up the wall under the goalie’s direction, one boy casually begins to tap his toe into the ground just next to the ball, appearing to listen intently to the strategy for the free kick. He taps the ball lightly, moving it backwards slightly from its resting position. Then two boys turn and wall toward the wall as if moving to a pre-planned position. The remaining attacker then exploded forward, dribbling the ball to a better shooting position and scoring, surprising the defenders. The defenders then expect the referee to award them an indirect kick, but he signals for kick off, indicating good goal. Is this type of concealment UB? Obviously, the referee was watching the entire time and saw that technically the ball was played by two separate players before entering the goal. How much explanation should the ref give to the confused defending team in order to show he was paying attention? Does he explain how the one boy slightly touched the ball, or just state that the ball was correctly played for an indirect kick?

USSF answer (August 24, 2004):
1. The defending team has no “right” to set up a wall anywhere on the field. Their only “right” at free kicks is to give the kicking team a minimum of ten yards from the place where the ball will go into play. And the coach has no “right” to complain about anything; the coach’s only right is to behave responsibly. There is no requirement that players on either team be standing at a free kick. Thus, kneeling is permitted. And yes, the defending team could have placed players for its wall behind the kneeling players on the kicking team.

2. The kicking team is permitted to practice deception of this sort at any free kick or corner kick, where the only requirement is that the ball be kicked and moves. Kicked in this case extends to toe tapping the ball even the slightest amount, but not to stepping on the top of the ball. (This ploy would not be permitted at a penalty kick or kick-off, in which the ball must also move forward.) The play you describe is perfectly legal, provided that the player who dribbles the ball away and shoots on goal is not the same player who tapped the ball to move it from its original location.

In both cases, the defending team did not pay attention to what was happening. The coaches should take plenty of notes and practice defense against such things during the week. There is no requirement in the Laws of the Game that the referee coddle players for their own ignorance.


KEEPING THE FLAG UP
Your question:
I am a grade 8 youth referee. Recently I was a spectator at an U-13 boys Class I tournament game where a goal was scored by the Blue team while the AR was holding up his flag to indicate a touch line throw in for the Red team. Apparently the AR raised the flag to indicate that the ball had passed over the touch line off of blue, but neither the players nor the center noticed the flag and play continued for more than a minute with a series of 15 or more touches on the ball by both teams, before the Blue team put the ball in the net. At that point the referee observed the AR signaling that the ball had earlier been out of play. The referee consulted with the AR, disallowed the goal and gave the throw in to the Red team.

Did the referee make the right call in disallowing the goal after the passage of so much time and play?

Does the AR have a responsibility/obligation to hold the flag until the referee acknowledges the signal, or should he/she drop the flag after some reasonable passage of time in the event that play has continued and the referee has not seen or acknowledged the flag?

Can a referee wave off an AR’s out of bounds signal if none of the players perceived that the ball had gone out of bounds and play continued? Law 9 does not appear to leave a lot of room for discretion about when play has stopped, but I am aware of many referees who encourage ARs that work their games to allow play to continue unless the ball is clearly out of bounds; the idea being that it is better to allow the game to continue than to stop play for close out of bounds calls. The fact that none of the players were aware that the ball was out of bounds and both teams continued to play without hesitation suggests that this particular call by the AR was of the close variety.

USSF answer (August 24, 2004):
The 2004 edition of the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees” tells us that if the referee does not see it, the assistant referee maintains the signal in accordance with the pregame conference. This is a matter that must be discussed and agreed upon among the officials before the game.


OFFSIDE SITUATION AT THE OLYMPICS
Your question:
The US Women’s match against Japan had what seemed to me to be a great example for offside discussion. The camera angle showed Hamm’s kick and was looking across from the offside line. Just before the ball was kicked, Japan ran up to trap three of four US players offside. However the ball went to and was played by Boxx, who controlled it and then passed to Wambaugh, who was behind the ball, for the score.

It seemed obvious on stop frame replay who was in and not in an offside position. The only question in my mind is deciding whether or not any of the three who were in an offside position became involved in the play. Every recert class I’ve taken some always have stories about some situation. While clearly “In the opinion of the referee” applies, it all comes down to what the referee saw. (At a tournament game last season, a fairly clear tripping call wasn’t made-the referee had turned momentarily to deal with some inappropriate comments players were making toward one another and turned back to see the girl on the ground. He didn’t see it, he can’t call it.)  However, with a clear viewing angle on the tape that was probably seen my many of our referees, it seems to be a good teaching tool.

Did you see it? If so, could you discuss why they were not involved in the play and why you would have made the same call, or why in your opinion they were involved in the play and the flag should have been raised.

USSF answer (August 23, 2004):
Wambach and two other USA players were in offside POSITIONS at the moment the ball was played in from near the touch line, but none of them was actively involved in the play. In other words, they had no effect on play and did not interfere with any opponents. Boxx ran in and played the ball laterally to Wambach, who was behind the ball. No offside. Score the goal.


ANNUAL ASSESSMENTS FOR GRADE 7 REFEREES
Your question:
I have recently informed that a Grade 7 now requires an annual maintenance assessment. However, I cannot find the requirement in the Referee Administrative Handbook. If this is a requirement, please provide to me the citation in the Handbook and when the requirement was adopted.

USSF answer (August 23, 2004):
We assume that this is a requirement adopted by your state referee committee, as there is no national requirement that Grade 7 referees be assessed annually. Please check with your State Director of Referee Assessment to be certain.

The new Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) notes that the state may require one developmental assessment “if adopted by the state.” See the bottom of page 19 of the new RAH under annual renewal requirements.


PENALTY KICKS IN EXTENDED TIME
Your question:
GU10 tournament final. The competition rules state “no slide tackling”. The score is Blue 4 and Red 2. Blue is attacking inside the Red penalty area when a Red defender slide tackles for the ball and makes contact with the attacker before making contact with the ball. There is 15 seconds before the end of the second half. I blow my whistle and conduct a penalty kick after time has run out. 5-2. 1) In the USSF advise to referees it states that the referee is to advise the coaches that time has expired. I just pointed to my watch and with palms down made like the safe signal in baseball. Do you blow the whistle 3 times and when? 2) This Penalty kick is treated more like a kick from the mark. Where do you place your AR’s? The Advise to Referees says to keep the players on the field, but keep in mind they are already celebrating the victory while I am conducting a penalty kick. 3) This was a good call but given the circumstances what would you do?

USSF answer (August 12, 2004):
(1) There is no need to advise the coaches of anything in most games, but it is probably a wise idea when dealing with younger players. The Advice to Referees states simply that the referee should announce that time has expired and indicate clearly that the penalty kick is now being taken “in extended time.” The Federation and the Laws of the Game leave the signal used to announce that the half or game is over to the individual referee. Lead Assistant Referee – Waits for the referee to begin supervising the restart and then moves quickly to the intersection of the goal line and the penalty area line to prepare for the duties assigned by the referee in the pre-game conference
– If a goal is scored, keeps players under observation and follows the normal goal procedure
– If play continues, quickly resumes the position to judge offside (cutting the corner of the field if necessary) and keeps play in view

Trail Assistant Referee
– Moves up the touch line to near the midfield line and monitors player activities out of the view of the referee
– If a goal is not scored, quickly takes a position appropriate for the next phase of play


RESTART ON ‘KEEPER INJURY
Your question:
In a recent local tournament there arose a discussion in the referee tent on the proper restart after an injury with the goalkeeper in possession. Several very experienced referees had opposing view points. We were all pretty much in agreement that it would be best handled by allowing the keeper to send the ball out of touch and allowing the opponents to throw it back into the keeper but in youth matches this is not always feasible. What do the Laws allow?

USSF answer (August 11, 2004):
The only restart provided for by the Laws of the Game is a dropped ball. The referee cannot instruct or force any player to play the ball to anyone or any place.


TOO MANY PLAYERS
Your question:
After a substitution, the referee allowed play to restart with one team having 12 players on the field.  The AR on the fans side of the field noticed but could not get the attention of the Ref.  The team with 12 players attacks quickly and scores to go up 1-0. Prior to the kick-off, the Ref sees the AR, conferences, counts the players and disallows the goal.  Restart is a goal kick.  The team that has a goal disallowed ends up losing 1-0.

At halftime, the other AR states that the goal should have stood and only a caution issued to a player on the team with 12. The Ref admits this AR was probably correct.

To allow a goal to stand does not seem fair.  In addition, to caution a player when the ref allowed the play to restart does not seem the same as entering the field without permission.

What is the correct call?

USSF answer (August 5, 2004):
The answer in all such cases has been established in the newly-revised Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game for 2004. The restart for all situations in which an outside agent (and that is what the extra player is) takes part is a dropped ball.

The extra player must be removed and cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without the permission of the referee. The referee will apply the advantage or stop play. If play is stopped to administer a caution, it will be restarted with a dropped ball at the place where the ball was located when play was stopped (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8). If the extra player is not discovered until after play has been stopped, the ball is dropped at the place where the player likely entered the field.

In the case of a goal being scored, If the referee realizes the mistake before the match is restarted, the goal is not awarded. The referee should instruct the player to leave the field of play. Play will be restarted with a dropped ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball passed into the goal. If the referee learns of the extra player only later, the extra player is removed but the goal must stand. In all events, the referee must include full details in the match report.


SCORING A GOAL DIRECTLY FROM A KICK-OFF
Your question:
At the fifa.com website there are a list of questions and answers (as you know). Check out the answer to question 3 in law Vlll.
http://www.fifa.com/fifa/handbook/Q&A/q&a.8.frame.html

What am I missing?

USSF answer (August 9, 2004):
We are not sure why you believe that something is missing in Question 3 under Law 8 in FIFA’s new Q&A. The question simply states a fact‹that a goal can validly be scored directly from a kick-off‹and is likely included because this is a change in the Law from several years back. Before, the Law stated that a goal could NOT be scored directly from a kick-off; now it can. In fact, Question 3 in the original Q&A (published in 1990 and often called just “the green book”) stated that, if the ball went into the opponent’s goal directly from a kick-off, the restart was a goal kick! The currently correct answer (a goal!) was enshrined in the 2000 version of the Q&A.


REMOVING THE JERSEY
Your question:
In this article
http://www.ussoccer.com/referees/fullstory.sps?iNewsid=77181&itype=4042&icategoryid=83
it states that “The restriction applies to ANY player celebrating a goal, not just the player who scored the goal.” (referring to the removal of a jersey during the celebration of a goal). Does the restriction also apply to members of the opposing team (the team scored against) who may remove their jerseys?

USSF answer (August 9, 2004):
Until further instructions are received, the caution would apply to any player who removed his or her jersey after a goal was scored.


NO CARDS FOLLOWING THE END OF THE GAME
Your question:
I was wondering if a player can get red carded after the game was over and if it is a foul to yell out, “mine”, when going for the ball?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
Up until the end of June, a player could be shown the red card after the conclusion of the game, provided that the players were in the act of leaving the field. Now the International F. A. Board and FIFA have made it clear that no one may be shown the card after the final whistle. However, the referee is still expected to provide full details on the incident in the match report.

No, it has never been a “foul” to call out “mine” when going for the ball, but it is misconduct and subject to a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior if, in the opinion of the referee, the player’s action was intended to deceive an opponent unfairly. Just calling out “mine” is not misconduct.


SLEEVELESS JERSEYS [LAW 4]
I had read in Referee Magazine that sleeveless jerseys were to be allowed. I am now hearing from our local league referee that they have been told that sleeveless jerseys were not legal. Law IV does state that jerseys must have sleeves. Can you clarify this?

USSF answer (August 9, 2004):
The official answer may be found in USSF’s memorandum on this subject November 1, 2002:
USSF has been informed by FIFA that it has decided to set aside temporarily the new provision regarding jersey sleeves found in International Board Decision 1 of Law 4. Accordingly, effective immediately and until further notice, Referees will have no responsibility for determining the legality of jersey sleeves or for enforcing the provision in Law 4 related to jersey sleeves.

Referees are directed not to include in their game reports any information regarding the presence, absence, or altered status of jersey sleeves.

The only concern a referee has with respect to the condition of a player¹s jersey is safety.

Referees are, however, expected to enforce all relevant provisions in the Rules of Competition governing a match,

This approach was confirmed again in the 2003 Memorandum which made the point that no player or team should be prevented from playing due to any issue involving jersey sleeves.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
The following happened recently in a tournament playoff match. Team A and Team B were tied at the end of overtime and so the match went to a shootout. It went all the way to the 8th kickers for each team. Team A’s 8th kicker scored, Team B’s kicker missed. It was then discovered that Team A’s 8th kicker was not one of the 11 players for Team A on the field at the end of overtime. The referee allowed the kick by the 8th kicker to stand, thus allowing Team A to win and advance in the playoffs, but also gave Team A’s 8th kicker a yellow card.

Of course, the referee should have been keeping better track of the players, but since he wasn’t, was his way of handling it correct? Is there any way that the kick by Team A’s 8th kicker could be disallowed? Would it matter if the ineligibility of the player was discovered immediately after his successful kick rather than not until after Team B’s 8th kicker missed?

USSF answer (August 7, 2004):
The rules governing kicks from the penalty mark to decide a tied match specifically state that, except as modified for this procedure, all other applicable Laws of the Game apply. So, the question becomes, what would the referee do if something comparable had happened during play in the match? If a goal were scored and the problem with the team that scored the goal (e.g., extra player) were not discovered until after play had restarted, the goal would stand. If it were discovered before play restarted, the goal would not stand.

Here, the equivalent of play restarting is the taking of the next kick from the penalty mark. Since the next kick occurred and then the problem was discovered, the result of the kick would stand. If the player’s ineligibility had been discovered before Team B took its kick, the result would not stand and the kick by Team A would have to be retaken by an eligible player.


GUEST PLAYERS [LAW 3]
Your question:
Can a guest player in a youth league play down or must she be of the same age or younger?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
We cannot answer the question because all such matters are regulated by the local rules of competition. You would need to check with the league, club, or tournament which is authorizing the match.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
I have a FIFA and high school patch. At a recent FIFA meeting for referees, we were told that a push is being made at the national level to loosen up on offside. I.E. a torso ahead is OK at the national level and soon will be OK for us locally, with the prediction that in a few years daylight between the offensive player (ahead) and defensive player (behind) will be the rule. However, for now, we were told not to change how we apply the law.

At at more recent high school meeting, we were told the same thing by a state referee official who administers both patches (21 years FIFA, 7 years high school). He stopped short of telling us to use the looser application of the law, but urged us to only call offside when we are 100 percent sure.

I sense an unwillingness to implement the full-torso rule. Has there been any definitive interpretation that changes current practice which, I believe, is based on the vertical plain of the bodies in question?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
A new entry in the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (officially released by FIFA on July 1, 2004) makes the point that, in the case of two attackers making a play for the ball, one coming from an onside position and the other coming from an offside position, the assistant referee and referee must hold the offside decision until it is clear that the offside position attacker will prevail. Except for this, however, there has been no change in definition, interpretation, or guidance on offside (Law 11). Referees should continue to apply Law 11 as it has been taught in USSF clinics until and unless they are officially directed otherwise.


“GOLDEN GOAL” [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
I know that a decision was made about “golden goal” situations but have not seen it in writing yet. Officially no more golden goal right?

USSF answer (August 8, 2004):
FIFA has taken complete control over specifying the proper ways by which a drawn match can be resolved. In the annual Circular regarding Law changes (as reported by USSF in its Memorandum 2004 ‹on the USSF website), the International FA Board announced several changes in the Laws of the Game and in the section of the Laws pertaining to methods for breaking ties. The net result of these changes is that there are now only three permissible options (individually or in combination) for a tied affiliated match to be resolved‹home/away goals, extra time, and kicks from the penalty mark

USSF’s Advice to Referees, however, notes that some local competition authorities may not have gotten the necessary information in time to modify any established procedures so, if you have accepted a game assignment in which the “golden goal” is used, you should go along with it.


PLAYERS AND HYDRATION [ADMIN]
Your question:
What is the current USSF policy on players keeping drinking water bottles near the touchline during a match? Are players allowed to leave the field during stoppage of play to drink water without first asking permission from the referee?

USSF answer (August 7, 2004):
Your questions can be answered by reference to the guidance in the following memorandum (distributed by USSF on April 26, 2002, and available on the USSF website):

The FIFA Medical Committee recently emphasized the importance of proper hydration during a match and the need for water (or other appropriate liquids) to be available to the players. Referees are advised to use the following common sense guidelines in determining the correct ways in which this concern can be implemented. Although the term “water” is used below, the guidelines apply to all liquids that may be provided for player hydration in the immediate area of the field.

Players may drink water during play or at a stoppage but only by going to a touch line or goal line.

While drinking water, players may not leave the field nor may they carry water containers onto the field. The players should stand at the touch line or goal line while drinking water.

Water containers may not be held in readiness where they will interfere with the movement of the assistant referees. After water containers are used, they must be removed so as not to interfere with the movement of the assistant referees.

Under no circumstances may water containers of any sort (regardless of material, size, or construction) be thrown onto the field or to players even during stoppages of play.


WEARING THE BADGE FOR WHAT YEAR? [ADMIN]
Your question:
Your question:
When may a referee who has recertified and received his/her 2005 badge begin wearing it?

For example, a referee upgrades from 7 to 6, meeting all of the requirements for upgrade on September 1, 2004. Should the referee continue to wear his Referee 2004 badge or begin wearing his State Referee 2005 badge or should the referee attempt to get a State Referee 2004 badge for the remainder of the year?

USSF answer (August 6, 2004):
Under normal circumstances, referees are expected to wear the dated USSF badge appropriate for the year (i.e., 2004 in 2004 and 2005 in 2005). However, there may be circumstances in which a badge can be worn prior to the start of the year‹Under normal circumstances, referees are expected to wear the dated USSF badge appropriate for the year (i.e., 2004 in 2004 and 2005 in 2005). However, there may be circumstances in which a badge can be worn prior to the start of the year‹remember, the USSF registration year begins September 1. Accordingly, although a referee might complete all recertification requirements for being a referee in 2005 by, say, October of 2004, he or she would continue to wear their 2004 badge until the end of the year. Suppose this person just became a referee, however, by attending an entry level clinic in October‹they would receive a 2005 badge (because no more 2004 badges can be earned that late in the year) but that doesn’t mean they have to wait until January 1, 2005, before they can officiate.. Accordingly, they could wear a 2005 badge from the time they met all certification requirements through the remainder of 2004, and then through 2005. Remember, the USSF registration year begins September 1. Accordingly, although a referee might complete all recertification requirements for being a referee in 2005 by, say, October of 2004, he or she would continue to wear their 2004 badge until the end of the year. Suppose this person just became a referee, however, by attending an entry level clinic in October‹they would receive a 2005 badge (because no more 2004 badges can be earned that late in the year) but that doesn’t mean they have to wait until January 1, 2005, before they can officiate.. Accordingly, they could wear a 2005 badge from the time they met all certification requirements through the remainder of 2004, and then through 2005.

The principle remains the same. If the referee qualifies for a 2005 badge and receives the badge, regardless of the grade, then the badge may be worn beginning immediately, even if it is still 2004. Wear the State Referee 2005 badge proudly.


SCREENING THE BALL [LAW 12]
Your question:
A couple of referee friends seem to be getting themselves all agitated and confused by a section of the Additional Instructions covering “Screening the Ball” (page 73 of 84 in LOTG. Although I know it was in the 2003-04 book, I can’t remember seeing it before.

The writers introduce the term “screening” to describe what I would normally refer to a shielding (in either coach-or referee-speak). I found it interesting that we now appear to have the 11th reason to award a Direct Free Kick‹the first ten being detailed in Law 12. This section seems to imply that the “illegal use of the hand, arm, legs or body”; is similar to contact with the opponent‹or the recommended restart would not have to be a direct free kick. I assume that the action must be on the field, while the ball is in play, and directed against an opponent‹the standard requirements for a direct free kick.

I view impeding as “not normally involving contact.” When the offense begins to involve contact, it transitions from “impeding” to “holding.” Is that what they’re trying to say?

I think I had a better understanding of this BEFORE the introduction of this section. Do you know why this “clarification” (?) was introduced. Your opinion please. THANKS!

USSF answer (August 5, 2004):
Although we would not care to speculate as to FIFA’s intentions in the absence of some specific statement from that organization explaining the why and wherefore of their actions, you likely have penetrated the mystery. The purpose of this section of Additional Instructions appears to be to say that screening (shielding) is legal so long as certain conditions are met, one of which is that the screener cannot accomplish the screening by extending his arms (and presumably, by inference, his leg as well) to prevent the screenee from going around. If the screener does so, a direct free kick foul has been committed (or a PK if inside the screener’s penalty area) for holding.

The exact same provision can be found in the 2003-2004 and 2002-2003 Laws of the Game. The reason you can’t find it in earlier versions of the Laws is that FIFA stopped publishing the Additional Instructions section after the 1997 version of the Laws and only reinstituted it in 2002-2003. By the way, the same principle (using somewhat different language) can also be found in the 1997 version.


QUIZZES ON THE LAWS
Your question:
I have been searching for quizzes on the Laws of the Game, but cannot find any at all. Do you know if there is a place where I could get some referee quiz information, so that I can test my knowledge? Also, is there any technical quizzes at the Advance Level that are available too? Please send me the links because I would like to test my knowledge on a more flexible level.

USSF answer (August 5, 2004): Most instructors, referee associations, and related groups make up their own quizzes, depending on the training needs of the moment. You might also want to check out REFEREE magazine. Each month’s issue has soccer case plays plus a Laws quiz of 5-6 questions (answers are also provided based on the three major sets of rules‹FIFA, high school, and college). The magazine also has a longer quiz available on its website (http://www.referee.com)‹you have to supply some information so they can try to convince you to subscribe‹but the site allows you to download a PDF of a soccer quiz, plus you can research back issues for the shorter quizzes.

Finally, you can go to the USSF website, Referee page, and download Advice to Referees because, at the back of this publication, there is a sort of quiz‹it’s called a syllabus and it features questions which are answered by reading the material in Advice.

Aside from this, however, you might try creating your own quizzes. Sometimes that is an excellent way to teach yourself something.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION [LAW 12]
Your question:
I was just reading through the FIFA Q& A for 2004 and I have come upon 2 points which interest me and also confuse me to some degree.

According the the document: Law 12 21. If a goalkeeper is bouncing the ball, may an opponent play the ball as it touches the ground, provided he is not guilty of dangerous play?
Yes

22. After taking possession of the ball, a goalkeeper allows it to lie on his open hand. An opponent comes from behind him and heads the ball from his hand. Is this permitted?
This is permitted since the goalkeeper does not have full possession of the ball and the action of the opponent is not dangerous.

When I read ATR 12.16 and 12.17 I would have to interpret different things regarding such challenges for possession with the GK. I’m slightly surprised that FIFA would interpret the law in this way, but I can see it coming as part of their emphasis on supporting attacking soccer. My question is, what should we referee’s in the USA do regarding this tweak in interpretation. I’m assuming the USSF will be coming out with a revision to ATR or a position paper eventually) Until, something does come out, should we be enforcing the law in the way the ATR notes, or the way the Q&A notes? Thank you for any advice you can offer.

USSF answer (August 4, 2004):
We are pleased to see that you are keeping up with more than just The Laws of The Game. FIFA’s Questions and Answers is an important document which has been used in the past to announce important changes in how to interpret various aspects of the Law. You have pointed to two of them (and there are others in the new version of the Q&A. Since FIFA officially published this on July 1, it becomes effective immediately world-wide and we are all obliged to officiate in accordance with our understanding of its guidelines. USSF is in the process of seeking clarification from FIFA regarding several of the new interpretations and, when we are clear about them, it is likely that there will be an announcement to assist referees in understanding what is new in the 2004 version. Where this means changes in Advice to Referees, we will include that information as well.

Meanwhile, our understanding of the provisions you have identified is that the ball is playable by an opponent at the moment the ball hits the ground (but not on the way down or while bouncing back up to the goalkeeper‹in other words, while the goalkeeper is in the process of actively distributing the ball) and it is playable by an opponent attempting to head it if the ball is being held in the open, outstretched hand of the goalkeeper. However, in either case, the opponent’s action must not be dangerous, and this becomes a critical factor for the referee to determine based on the age and skill level of the players.


BALL MEASUREMENTS [LAW 2]
Your question:
What is the correct measurement for a size 4 soccer ball?

USSF answer (August 3, 2004):
A size 4 ball is 25-26 inches in circumference (size 3 is 23-24 inches, size 5 is 27-28 inches.


RESTARTS FOR CAUTIONS AND SEND-OFFS [LAW 12]
Your question:
My son insists that the only remedy for any and all of the7 Cautionable and 7 Sending-off offenses is a Direct Kick (awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the infraction) regardless of where the ball is.

Is he correct?

USSF answer (August 2, 2004):
No. Cautions and send-offs are misconduct and, unless the misconduct also involves a foul, there are only two possible restarts if play is stopped solely for misconduct‹an indirect free kick at the site of the misconduct if the misconduct was committed on the field of play by a player, or a dropped ball where the ball was if the misconduct was committed by a substitute anywhere or by a player off the field. Of course, if the misconduct is committed during a stoppage of play, there is no separate restart; it would be whatever restart is appropriate for what stopped play originally. If the misconduct involves a foul (for example, serious foul play), then the foul determines the restart.


WRITING UP A CAUTION [LAW 12]
Your question:
I’m seeking technical guidance on reporting a caution. I get inconsistent answers from referees and we all know the severity of the described situation has inconsistent treatment among different cultural climates. Here’s the situation. . . . player makes a “high foot” tackle that referee interprets asnot severe enough for a send-off, (i.e. not serious foul play), but is never-the-less dangerous and careless enough to warrant a caution. Therefore, referee calls dangerous play, (IFK restart), and issues caution to player. Under the 7+7 caution/send-off guidelines, what is the correct REASON for the caution, since the referee did not a DFK foul?

Here’s a sampling of the responses I’ve gotten to this question using the “7+7 guidelines”
– Make something up; not very good, but probably the most honest answer. (i.e. don’t write “high foot” as the reason in your report.)
– Do your best to make it a direct free kick foul (e.g. kicking, jumping or tripping)
– IF in a pattern of foul play, sanction a persistent infringement instead of unsporting behavior.

Playing in a manner outside of spirit of laws or in manner bringing disrepute to game (can’t remember the exact wording, but it’s the fourth or fifth reason under unsporting behavior in the 7+7 caution/send-off guidelines.)

USSF answer (August 2, 2004):
When in doubt, report the caution as having been given for unsporting behavior. In this case, unsporting behavior would clearly be the correct choice. Do not, I repeat, do not engage in ANY of the first three options under your P.S. Never make anything up, never give “high kick” as the reason for anything, never “do your best to make it a direct free kick foul” and choose persistent infringement only if in fact the foul was part of a pattern of offenses.

Only the last option under your PS offers any reasonable basis for the caution but, fortunately, game reports do not require you to provide anything more than the official, by the Law, black-and-white reason for a caution (i.e., one of the seven cautionable offenses). By the way, the “bringing the game into disrepute” has been clarified as “demonstrating a lack of respect for the game” but you also could, should you decide to offer a more detailed reason under USB, state that it was a tactical foul intended to break up attacking play.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
Teammates A1 and A2, Teammates B1 and B2. A1 plays the ball to A2, who is onside at the time the ball is kicked and making a diagonal-forward run. As the ball is traveling in the air, it deflects off of defender B1, at which moment A2 is now beyond the second-to-last defender, B2. The assistant referee flagged the offside, which was whistled by the referee. The call was offside, and the commentator explained that it was because of the deflection and the position of A2 at the time of the deflection. However, B1 is the opponent to A2. I would have NOT called the offside.

USSF answer (August 1, 2004):
The call was improper using the facts as supplied. The offside decision is made at the time the ball is last played by an attacker and is based on the positions and actions of all players at that time. If A2 was in an onside position at the time the ball was struck to him by his teammate, then he was onside no matter where anyone moved or the ball moved subsequently, so long as it remained the same play. The deflection by a defender is not only not relevant but, if it had been an actual play of the ball rather than a deflection, A2 would still have not been guilty of offside because then A2 would have received the ball from a defender rather than from his teammate.

One must always beware commentators pontificating on offside.

And a follow-on question:
Oh, I am definitely aware of “omniscient commentators.” You know, I have often thought of becoming one, just so I can be a better educator of football to the “lay audience.” It is a shame the call was made and acknowledged because it probably would have been a goal. Anyway, an afterthought . . . What if the ball incidentally deflected off a TEAMMATE of A2, instead of a defender?

And the follow-on answer: If the ball, in the setup described, had deflected from a teammate, then A2 would have been in an offside position because Law 11 makes no distinction in the case of attackers between touch and play. A2 would be called for offside if he then became involved in active play.


GOALKEEPER “HANDLING” [LAW 12]
Your question:
Question: If a goalkeeper comes to the edge of the penalty area with his feet within the box and reaches outside the box to handle or collect a ball, what is the call? When can the GK handle the ball in terms of the penalty area?:
(1) when his feet are within the penalty area
(2) when the ball is within the penalty area (how is this defined?)
(3) both his feet and the ball are within the penalty area
This does not seem to be defined in the laws of the game.

USSF answer (August 1, 2004):
Handling occurs where handling occurs. In other words, the handling offense doesn’t involve the keeper’s feet so we really don’t care where the keeper’s feet are. The only issue in whether handling occurs is where the keeper’s hands make contact with the ball‹everything else is irrelevant. Of course, the referee must also remember that “constant whistling for doubtful or trifling breaches of the Law” is to be avoided, which means that you need to be sure where the hands and ball make contact. Also remember that the lines surrounding the penalty area are part of the penalty area.

These elements have always been defined clearly in the Laws of the Game.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
Here are two brain teasers, mostly with respect to the referee and assistant referee mechanics.
Situation 1: Player A, in an offside position, runs the ball that has been played forward; runs over the ball without making contact with the ball; Player B, coming from an onside position, immediately kicks the ball into the goal. Is Player A offside? Is the goal disallowed? What are the correct referee and assistant referee mechanics?

Situation 2: Player A, in an offside position, attempts a bicycle kick on a ball that is lofted forward but completely misses the ball. Player B, coming from an onside position immediately kicks the ball into the goal. Is Player A offside? Is the goal disallowed? What are the correct referee and assistant referee mechanics?

USSF answer (August 1, 2004):
If Situation A had arisen in a USSF match (we cannot comment on situations governed by high school rules), it would be affected by the following guidance from FIFA (included under Law 11 in its just published Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game):
A player in offside position but not interfering with any opponent runs towards the ball played by a team-mate. Must the referee wait until he touches the ball to penalise him?
No, the referee may penalise him if there is not other team-mate (in an onside position) who can play the ball.
If there are other team-mates (in an onside position) who can get the ball, the referee must wait and see if the player in offside position finally interferes with play by touching the ball

As for Situation B, the answer seems obvious. The fact that Player A missed connecting with the ball is irrelevant‹his attempt to play the ball in such close proximity clearly constitutes “interfering with play” and, since this was done from an offside position, the player must surely be penalized. Needless to say, it also means that the goal is nullified since it occurred after the decision was made to penalize for offside.

The mechanics in Situation A are indicated by FIFA’s guidance. Both the AR and the referee must wait until it is clear whether the attacker coming from the offside position will prevail over his teammate coming from an onside position. If and when that becomes clear, both officials follow the usual mechanics suggested in the Guide to Procedures. In situation B, the usual mechanics in the Guide to Procedures should be followed‹when Player A performed his attempted kick, the AR’s flag should go up and, upon making eye contact, the referee should stop play.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
I have a FIFA and high school patch. At a recent FIFA meeting for referees, we were told that a push is being made at the national level to loosen up on offside. I.E. a torso ahead is OK at the national level and soon will be OK for us locally, with the prediction that in a few years daylight between the offensive player (ahead) and defensive player will be the rule. However, for now, we were told not to change how we apply the law.

At at more recent high school meeting, we were told the same thing by a state referee official who administers both patches (21 years FIFA, 7 years high school). He stopped short of telling us to use the looser application of the law, but urged us to only call offside when we are 100 percent sure. I sense an unwillingness to implement the full-torso rule. Has there been any definitive interpretation that changes current practice which, I believe, is based on the vertical plane of the bodies in question.

USSF answer (July 31, 2004):
A new entry in the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (officially released by FIFA on July 1, 2004) makes the point that, in the case of two attackers making a play for the ball with one coming from an onside position and one coming from an offside position, the assistant referee and referee must hold the offside decision until it is clear that the offside position attacker will prevail.

With that exception, there has been no change in definition, interpretation, or guidance on offside (Law 11). Referees should continue to apply Law 11 as it has been taught in USSF clinics until and unless they are officially directed otherwise.


MANDATORY CAUTIONS
Your question:
Could you please tell me if there is a list of the eight mandatory cautions?

USSF answer (July 31, 2004):
Yes, there is, and please find attached a copy (it is the “7+7” Memorandum — the mandatory cautions are in bold type). However, as a result of this year’s Law changes, there are now NINE mandatory cautions — the newest one being for unsporting behavior if a player removes his jersey to celebrate a goal.


ABUSING THE LAWS OF THE GAME [LAW 3]
Your question:
In a state cup championship match, one team is leading by one goal with three minutes left in regulation time. The team decides to substitute one of their players off (this player happens to already have one yellow card this game). As the player’s name is called, he starts to jog over from the opposite side of the field. After three or four steps, he starts limping, like he came up lame. He takes over a minute to limp across the field before finally exiting the field (note that I had not waved the other player on yet). The other team notices his actions and were yelling at me about time wasting. Once he leaves the field, the substitute enters (without me beckoning him on) and the substituted player then resumes a jog to his bench and even laughs at the other team, proud of his time wasting efforts. In the game, I added the *FULL* amount of time this player had wasted to the end of the half and informed both teams that I was doing so, but I did not give him a second caution. In retrospect, his actions (faking an injury) brought the game into disrepute, were clearly unsporting and antagonistic, and were completely unjustifiable. I think that I should have given him a second caution which would have forced him to miss the first game at Regionals. I’d like your thoughts on that, but more so I would like a second question to be answered. Throughout the game I had allowed substitutes to enter the field as soon as the player they were replacing was completely off the pitch, without an extra signal to beckon them on. Given that context, if I had cautioned and sent off the player, how many men would the team have played with? The unsporting behavior which would have resulted in the caution occurred while he was a player, but the caution would not have been shown until after he had been replaced (since I couldn’t know for sure he was faking until he left the pitch and jogged to his bench). I could make an argument that I had never beckoned the substitute onto the field and so no legal substitution had occurred (but this contradicts the previous substitutions…as a side note then I’d have to caution the substitute for illegal entry as well) and therefore the team must play with 10 men. If I admit that a substitution did occur, can I still make the team play with 10 men and remove the substitute since the caution was given as soon it possibly could in good faith and was the result of actions taken while he was a player and not a substituted player, or must I let the substitute stay in the game and the team play at full strength?

USSF answer (July 30, 2004):
Your questions illustrate very well why the substitution procedures set forth in the Laws of the Game should not be bypassed or ignored and what kinds of problems can be created when they are. That said, you are raising difficult issues of game management which cannot be resolved by someone who wasn’t there.

The most important issue to keep in mind regarding cards is whether a card is the proper tool at this particular time for this particular player. The issue becomes critical when it is a second caution that is being considered. No referee should ever decide to give or not give a card based on the consequences for some future game by that team (i.e., “miss the first game at Regionals”). Such decisions must be made here and now with the facts at hand.

Consider this. You successfully blunted the impact of the player’s behavior by restoring to the opposing team any time lost to them. What would have been gained, aside from satisfying a sense of outrage over a lack of sportsmanship, by giving the caution and then being forced as a result to give a red card?

And a follow-on question:
Thanks for your answer. The question actually raised a more general question in my mind, so hopefully you can humor me with a follow up question. So, in this match I was using what I consider to be the correct substitution procedure by having the substitute enter at the intersection of the touch and half lines after the player being replaced had completely left the pitch…in my question I merely meant that I hadn’t given an additional signal after the player had completely left the field that the substitute could now enter; I let them automatically enter as soon as the other player had left (is this correct or do I need an additional signal to the substitute that they can now enter). Anyway, the more general question I have is this: assume the player had committed a cautionable or sending-off offense behind my back and the ball immediately went into touch and I noticed his team wanted to substitute, so I initiated the substitution (told the sub to call him off and the player ran off and then the sub ran on after he had completely left). As the player is running off to be subbed, I noticed AR2’s flag is up, I jog over (backpedaling of course!) and ask what he saw. He tells me to issue a second caution or send off to the player who now has made it all the way off and the sub has come on. After administering the send-off, can I force the team to play short since the misconduct occurred while he was a player? My gut tells me no, but my sense of fairness tells me he should. I doubt this will ever happen since I always look for both ARs’ possible signals before looking for a substitution, but you never know in the heat of battle what may happen.

With the follow-on answer:
First, your substitution procedure was not correct. The permission of the referee must be given in order for a substitute to enter the field after the player he is substituting for has left. Whatever other changes you might make to the procedure (and referees routinely make many, often in the interests of “keeping things going”), don’t drop giving permission for the substitute to enter the field. However, your actions established a de facto indication of permission on which the players came to rely and it would be manifestly unfair to surprise some unlucky substitute for doing what you have allowed all game long.

Second, all cards are given for specific acts. If the act was committed while the perpetrator was a player and the card is red, the player sent off cannot be replaced, even if, by the time you actually send him off, he may have left the field.

Third, before allowing substitutions, it is always a good idea (as it would have been in your situation below and as you acknowledged) to make eye contact with your ARs first.

Fourth, we are not sure I understand why your gut is warring with your sense of fairness. Ours are usually in complete agreement.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
The following happened recently in a tournament playoff match. Team A and Team B were tied at the end of overtime and so the match went to a shootout. It went all the way to the eighth kickers for each team. Team A’s eighth kicker scored, Team B’s kicker missed. It was then discovered that Team A’s eighth kicker was not one of the 11 players for Team A on the field at the end of overtime. The referee allowed the kick by the eighth kicker to stand, thus allowing Team A to win and advance in the playoffs, but also gave Team A’s eighth kicker a yellow card.

Of course, the referee should have been keeping better track of the players, but since he wasn’t, was his way of handling it correct? Is there any way that the kick by Team A’s eighth kicker could be disallowed? Would it matter if the ineligibility of the player was discovered immediately after his successful kick rather than not until after Team B’s eighth kicker missed?

USSF answer (July 30, 2004):
The rules governing kicks from the penalty mark to decide a tied match specifically state that, except as modified for this procedures, all other applicable Laws of the Game apply. So, the question becomes, what would the referee do if something comparable had happened during play in the match? If a goal was scored and the problem with team who scored the goal (e.g., extra player) was not discovered until after play had restarted, the goal would stand. If it was discovered before play restarted, the goal would not stand.

Here, the equivalent of play restarting is the taking of the next kick from the penalty mark. Since the next kick occurred and then the problem was discovered, the result of the kick would stand. If the player’s ineligibility had been discovered before Team B took its kick, the result would not stand and the kick by Team A would have to be retaken by an eligible player.


REMOVAL OF THE JERSEY [LAW 4]
Your question:
This is a hypothetical question based on my previous observations and the renewed adoption of the removal of a jersey = mandatory caution rule. Let’s say you are refereeing a semifinal match of a highly competitive tournament such as the Regional Championships (which were golden goal this year). Let’s assume regulation ends as a tie and the game is won either by a golden goal or a kick from the mark. After the winning goal is scored, the kicker (who has already received one caution this game) removes his jersey as part of the celebration. Meanwhile, his team, substitutes, bench personnel, and a hundred spectators have rushed onto the field and surrounded him. Should you consider this act removing the jersey to celebrate a goal, or removing the jersey to celebrate a win (which is not mentioned in the FIFA/IFAB decision), or merely removing the jersey after a match as many players do. Clearly the intent is the celebration of the goal, but it seems like giving him a second caution would create problems after the game is already finished. So, the first question is, would this be a mandatory caution? If it is, the second question is: would the prefered method of giving it be to wade through the crowd and display the yellow and the red cards to the player (and create a situation where you may be in the middle of a throng of people who now hate you), to find the coach or captain and inform him that the player has received a second caution and thus a send-off which will be reported to the competition authority (and get that person extremely angry at you), or merely note in your game report the action by the player and allow the competition authority to deal with it as they see fit?

USSF answer (July 30, 2004):
Whether you consider the player had removed his jersey to celebrate a goal or merely to celebrate a win (and who knows the mind of a player?), the matter now comes under a different rule. Accordingly to FIFA’s new Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (officially released on July 1, 2004), no cards may be given after a match is over — including any required tie-breaking procedures.

Accordingly, no caution would be given in this case. The most the referee might do is include a mention of the incident in the match report. Given this answer to your first question, there is no need to deal with the others because they are all based on the consequences of giving the caution in the first place.


WHEN IS A THROW-IN? [LAW 15]
Your question:
I just finished taking a referee course and am confused why the opposing team is awarded the ball on a “bad” throw-in. In other situations, if a mistake is made on a restart, the restart is redone. For example, for a goal kick, if the ball does not leave the penalty area the kick is retaken (using the reasoning that the ball was never in play). Using the same reasoning for a throw-in‹if a player lifted a foot before releasing the ball, the ball was not in play…

USSF answer (July 29, 2004):
You are on the right track in looking at the problem. In the case of a goal kick which doesn’t leave the penalty area into the field of play, the ball has not been put into play and therefore it must be retaken (the basic principle is, nothing that happens when the ball is not in play changes the restart). However, in the case of a throw-in, the Law defines when the ball is in play solely in terms of one fact‹did the ball break the plane of the touchline? If it did, then it was put into play. However, Law 15 also provides a number of factors which need to be taken into account in determining whether the throw-in was performed legally (for example, both feet on the ground, behind or on the line, at the location where the ball left the field, and so on). So, if a player performs a throw-in from the wrong location but the ball enters the field, the ball was put into play properly but illegally and the throw goes to the other team. However, if the player takes the throw-in legally but the ball never enters the field, then the ball was never put into play and the same team is given the opportunity to do it again.

It’s a bit confusing and only the throw-in restart makes this big a deal between “in play” and “performed legally”‹for most other restarts, there is little difference between the two.


RELIGIOUS CLOTHING [LAW 4]
Your question:
An interesting scenario happened to take place twice for me in the past month, and in [my organization], we feel compelled to defer to more simplistic answers, so I thought this might be a better place to address the issue.

Recently, at [two tournaments] I had the opportunity to both watch and referee a particular GU14 team. This team has one young lady of the Muslim faith whose father requires her to wear a headdress (I don’t know the proper name for it, but it covers her head entirely and drapes over her shoulders), long sleeves, and long pants. Naturally, given the religious nature of her change to the uniform standards, there is no basic qualm with her wearing the additional clothing, and both her parents and coach ensured throughout various matches, in these hotter climates, that she was afforded ample opportunity to stay hydrated.

However, she’s her team’s leading goal-scorer, and the reason why is her inhibition in regards to tackling due to her long pants. Additionally, because female players [in my organization] tend to be a nicer lot in general, her opponents were generally very careful about challenging her directly for fear that they would become encumbered in her additional gear (especially the headdress and long sleeves) and cause a foul in their defending third. During the games I refereed and watched her team, her attire did not result in any additional proclivity for fouls against her. The points being that she gained a very clear advantage due to the additional attire.

So, my question, as you can imagine, is the nefarious beauty of “At what point do religious edicts regarding attire outweight fairness and sportsmanship in our Sport?”

For what it’s worth, [my organization]’s answer to this question was “Always”, despite the organization’s overall deference to safety as prime tenet. I ask the question because [this] decision seems to be counter to the Memorandum dated November 22, 2002, and because the anecdotal reference in the Memorandum doesn’t really cover that much religious “covering”.

However, in a day and age in which the female side of the sport is picking up Internationally, the particular issue of Muslim women’s teams facing Western women’s teams might ought to be addressed sooner rather than later.

USSF answer (July 28, 2004):
The referee needs to distinguish between issues of safety and issues of “unfair advantage.” There cannot be any weakening of the referee’s authority with regard to player safety. As to any “unfair advantage” that might accrue to the player with religious attire, that is strictly a matter of perception, rather than one of fact. For once, perception is not reality.

We can do no more than emphasize that the position paper of November 22, 2002, cited in full below, is still applicable and that no further position can be taken by the U. S. Soccer Federation. If and when an issue arises on the international level regarding a conflict between the dress of teams from Muslim nations and those of the rest of the world, we will receive guidelines from the International Board and from FIFA.

Subject: Player Dress
Date: November 22, 2002

According to Law 4, The Players’ Equipment, a player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player. The basic compulsory equipment of a player is a jersey or shirt, shorts, stockings, shinguards, and footwear. There is no provision for a player to wear a skirt or similar clothing.

However, in an analogous situation, in respect of certain religions that require members to wear head coverings, the Secretary General of the United States Soccer Federation has given permission to those bound by religious law to wear such headcoverings, usually a turban or yarmulke, provided the referee finds that the headgear does not pose a danger to the player wearing it or to the other players. This principle could be extended to other clothing required of members by their religion.

Since the referee may not know all the various religious rules, players must request the variance well enough ahead of game time by notifying the league. The league will notify the state association, which will pass the information on to the state referee committee. The state referee committee will make sure that the referees working that league’s matches are informed.

The referee is still bound by the requirements of Law 4 ‹ the player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player, or use this equipment or clothing to circumvent the Laws of the Game. An example would be the use of equipment or garments to trap the ball or to distract an opponent.


PLAYERS EATING; OFFENSIVE, INSULTING, OR ABUSIVE LANGUAGE [LAW 12]
Your question:
[A visiting referee from another country has] two questions. First question is whether players are allowed to eat during a game. For example, can a player who becomes hungry retreats to the bench (being allowed to do so by the ref just like when they change their shoes), eats, and goes back to the field (with the permission by the ref)? I understand that players are only allowed to drink water along a touch line during out-of-play.

Second question is offensive/insulting.abusive language. Since English is not my native language, I often have hard time being sure what to do. Is caution appropriate when someone says, “It wasn’t a foul”? What about when he says something like “didn’t you see what he did?” I believe f-words are red card. But if you could give me any idea how I can easily distinguish things for a red card from things for a yellow card.

USSF answer (July 28, 2004):
Players are allowed to eat and drink if they leave the field of play with the permission of the referee. As to water, players need not leave the field, but must stand at the touch line and not bring any containers onto the field.

The referee must first decide whether or not language or gestures are offensive, insulting, or abusive. If they are, in the opinion of the referee, offensive, insulting, or abusive, then they must be punished. Referees must exercise common sense and punish any such acts that exceed the limits of acceptable behavior. See the USSF position paper on language, dated March 14, 2003, which may be downloaded from this site and several others.


PLAYER ALLOWED TO STAY ON AFTER SECOND CAUTION; WHAT TO DO? [LAW 5]
Your question:
In a U-19 boys at a youth regional championship game, the referee issues a yellow card to #12. This was the second yellow card to #12 which could have resulted into a send off. The referee does not realize that this was the second caution because he was using a write-on card and due to sweat and rain, the card/#12 has been smeared. Since his write-on card does not show the #12, the player is left to continue. None of the crew (Ref, SAR, JAR and 4th) realized this error. The game continued with #12 still in it and his team still playing full. During a substitution opportunity, #12 was substituted. Eventually, the field marshal for this game spotted the error and immediately drew the attention of the referee. The referee stopped the game, issued a red card to #12 who is now sitting on the bench, removed the substitute for #12 and the game resumed with the one team playing with 10 men. (In this tournament, there is no reentry of substitutes.)

Questions: (1) Is the referee’s decision correction correct? (2) Since #12 is no longer a player at this point, should his team be made to play short.

USSF answer (July 28, 2004):
As long as the situation was brought to the referee’s attention during the game, the decision to issue the red card to #12 was correct. The decision to remove the player who had been substituted in was also correct, despite that player’s innocence. Number 12 was sent off for conduct that occurred when he was a player, so the referee had no choice but to remove the innocent player. However, the referee made a serious error in using a “write-on” card under the conditions you describe.


IT’S CALLED A “KICK-OFF” FOR A REASON [LAW 8]
Your question:
On the kickoff , on the first touch the kicker rolls the ball forward two or three inches and WITHOUT removing his foot flicks the ball backwards. It does go forward and it is not a second touch. I have asked several ref’s in the area and all agree it is wrong but can’t decide exactly why or what to call, if anything.

USSF answer (July 28, 2004):
You have described a “roll”-off, not a “kick”-off. The ball must be KICKED forward, not rolled forward, just as it says in Law 8: “the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward.”


PLAYER LOSES FOOTWEAR [LAW 4]
Your question:
I was recently centering a men’s league game, and a rather odd situation occured. Team A was attacking Team B’s goal inside the 18 yard box. I noticed my AR’s flag begin to wave rapidly, and I blew my whistle and ran over to speak with him. I figured I may have missed a minor jersey tug, or something may have been said that may have deserved a card. However, this wasn’t the case. He told me that a player on Team B had lost a shoe, and that the restart should be an indirect kick from where the shoe first came off. At this point, I assumed that he was saying the play was dangerous. I, however, did not think it was dangerous, but I obeyed him, and issued an indirect kick inside the box. He is a state referee, and I am only 17, so I didn’t protest this (after the game even). Was this the correct ruling?

USSF answer (July 21, 2004):
According to the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, 2004 edition, Law 4, Q&A 10 (no change from the 2000 edition):
10. A player accidentally loses his footwear and immediately scores a goal. Is this permitted?
Yes. The player did not intentionally play barefoot, because he lost his footwear by accident.

There is certainly no issue of “playing dangerously” here. The state referee would appear to be taking advantage of his seniority to show you who is really “the boss.” Law 4 is pretty clear on what must happen if there is an infringement, so let’s go with that: “For any infringement of Law 4 play need not be stopped. The player at fault is instructed by the referee to leave the field of play to correct his equipment. The player leaves the field of play when the ball next ceases to be in play, unless he has already corrected his equipment.”

As to the state referee, we suggest that his mechanics and judgment do not follow the instructions in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees (newly reissued for 2004). Nuff said.


OPEN DISSENT IN MLS MATCHES [LAW 12]
Your question:
Within the past several years, I, as well as many of my associates, have noticed a marked increase of televised incidences of open dissent within the MLS.

My family, along with three other families, have Galaxy tickets within 10 rows of the Touchline, at about the 28 yd line. We have also witnessed a marked increase in the use of abusive language towards the Referee and his Assistants, in the past couple of years. For instance on a recent, what would have been a pleasant summer evening, enjoying our local team playing futball, parents and children, within ear-shot of the field (at least 20 rows, at the magnificent Home Depot Center) were bombarded with players yelling at the Referee and/or AR’s “….what the f…. are you blind?” or ” you ‘re f…ing out of your mind, I was nowhere near him”, and on and on ad nauseum!

1. I am a referee. I am currently awaiting my Final Field Assessment for my National AYSO Badge. I passed my USSF State Badge (88%) and am awaiting assessment. I referee high school.
2. I understand and completely agree with the Foul Language Memorandum.
3. I am a complete supporter of the 1st Amendment of the United States of America, Constitution.

However, what disturbs me about this trend of using abusive language towards referees and their assistants is:
1. The MLS seems to be turning a ‘blind eye’ towards this obvious degradation of The Game.
2. The increased televised coverage of emotional outbursts of vulgarity toward the referees or assistant referees (although naked streakers are ‘blocked-out’ (too vulgar?))
3. Because of this increased media coverage and acceptance by the viewing public……..

My job as a referee is becoming increasingly more difficult, because players, coaches and spectators are now thinking that is acceptable for players and coaches  to constantly argue and challenge any referee decision. I know I can counsel and talk to the players ( as I do.) I know I can show a card for dissent (and according to my local association, I ‘Must Card for Dissent,’ as I do.) But, is there anything you guys at the top of the foodchain can do to enforce the LOTG at the National Level ( please ask Arena to discuss this with his players also), so that our jobs at bottom would be a little easier?

USSF answer (July 20, 2004):
Both the Federation and the MLS share your concern about this situation. Both had been feeling very good about the decrease in the level of dissent over the past several years.

The MLS instituted a mandatory incremental fine schedule for cautions/yellow cards for dissent and game disrespect (formerly called “bringing the game into disrespute) and greater sanctions have been imposed. By increasing the values for most cautions/yellow cards by 1 point, it now takes approximately 4 cautions to earn a suspension, rather than 5 as in the past. The change makes it tougher on the players, rather than easier. Excellent effects had been noticed, despite the fact that MLS has changed its point system to actually decrease the number of cards which lead to suspension.

The bottom line is that the referees must still get it done on the field. They have been given all the tools and the full support of both League and Federation. In fact, dealing with dissent is a topic on almost every conference call and is one of the points of emphasis at every National Camp. Some, but certainly not all, officials have too much tolerance for dissent despite our best efforts. The MLS has promised that this will be a topic of discussion at the referee meeting at the All Star game.


PLAYER EQUIPMENT [LAW 4]
Your question:
I have been questioned concerning the legal way to wear an ankle brace. Typically the lace up type. My stand is that they should be under the sock just as a shinguard. I cannot find any clear directions in the LOTG or the ATR. Can you help me out?

USSF answer (July 20, 2004):
Ankle braces may be worn in any way that is safe for all players, the same requirement that must be met for any equipment. There is no specific or exclusive way, other than one which ensures complete safety for all participants. The final decision rests with the referee for this particular game; not the last game, not the next game, but this game.


‘KEEPER HANDLING IN OWN PENALTY AREA IS _NOT_ DENIAL [LAW 12]
Your question:
Situation: A goalkeeper in his PA realizes the errant backpass from his fullback is about to enter the goal. The GK stops the ball completely with his hand.
1. Is this an intentional pass to the keeper?
2. Is this an offense?
3. If an offense, is it punishable by send off for SFP, denying an OGO? or
4. If an offense, is it punishable by an IFK by the attacking team?

USSF answer (July 20, 2004):
1. Likely yes, but only the referee on the spot will know if the “errant backpass” was a ball deliberately kicked to a place where the goalkeeper could play it.
2. Possibly. See above.
3 and 4. If it is an offense, it would not be serious foul play, which requires that two opposing players be competing for the ball and that a direct-free-kick foul have been committed. That is not what you described. It is also not denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, because the goalkeeper is specifically exempted from being sent off for handling which prevents a goal‹even if the handling is an offense. If the referee finds any infringement of the Law, then it would be simply that the goalkeeper has played a ball deliberately kicked to him by a teammate, for which the correct restart is an indirect free kick.


REFEREE LIABILITY [LAW 5]
Your question:
I referee in an adult league with several referees who are older (over 60) and in poor physical shape. Unfortunately, most of the referees I am assigned to work with cannot keep up with the pace of the game, and seem unable to see many of the obvious fouls that occur right next to them. Several serious injuries have occurred recently, and I am concerned about continuing to referee with these officials who cannot see well enough or are not fit enough to keep the game in control. Do I need to worry about liability when I am officiating, if the other referee’s negligence causes serious injury? Do players have any legal recourse when they are injured due to negligence of the officials not doing their job appropriately?

USSF answer (July 19, 2004):
You need to file your concerns in writing with your State Referee Administrator. You should say that you are concerned about your own liability and want those responsible for the games to know that you are concerned and that the assignments of these officials should be looked at. That puts you on record and should something happen, you should be fine with your liability insurance. Tell the SRA what league you officiate in and the location of the league‹your SRA has many thousands of referees to deal with.


STRANGE SIGNALS [LAW 5]
Your question:
In the Copa America during play I am seeing the Referee wave his hand back and forth over his head. Is this a formal signal for “continue play” or what does this signal mean?

USSF answer (July 16, 2004):
It is not a formal signal that is recognized worldwide.


WHAT’S THE CALL? [LAW 12; LAW 15]
Your question:
This circumstance came up at a meeting. By the referee who failed his up grade assessment off of his call. He didn’t tell us what he called but gave us this scenario.

Attacker loses the ball and the defender gains possession of the ball. Defender looks up and has 2 attackers running at him so he turns around and kicks it as hard as he can across the front of the goal. 2nd Defender hears the keeper telling him to watch out and then sees the ball coming so he throws his hands up to protect his face. The ball glances off of his hands and goes out the touch line.

What would be the correct call?

USSF answer (July 16, 2004):
The correct restart would be a throw-in.


APPLYING THE ADVANTAGE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
The june 29, 2004, response to the situation where the wind blows the ball back towards the goal and the keeper second-touches it, trying, without success, to prevent the ball passing into the goal, does not seem materially different from the q&a’s to the lotg, law 12, item 11. here, the keeper played the ball to a teammate who kicks the ball at the goal and the keeper touches it, but does not prevent the ball passing into the goal. the touch becomes a passback, similar to the second touch situation. in the q&a the goal is scored. would you please explain why this is not an ifk situation with no goal scored like the goalkick/wind example?

USSF answer (July 15, 2004):
This can be explained quite easily. One situation (the goal kick) falls under Law 16, while the other (the pass to the goalkeeper) falls under Law 12. There is no advantage awarded for infringements of Law 16. The advantage is awarded ONLY for infringements of Law 12

TO REPEAT: All referees must remember that the advantage clause is applied ONLY FOR INFRINGEMENTS OF LAW 12 and not for infringements of any other Laws.


KEEPING TIME [LAW 7; LAW 18]
Your question:
Law 7: The match lasts two equal periods of 45 minutes
Law 7: Allowance is made in either period for all time lost

Now comes a young referee who asks the question at a local meeting: if I add time to the first half, then to be certain that the second half is “equal” then the same amount of time must be added to the second half. The logic that the young official applied sure seems to fit so I went to the questions and did not find anything to pass on. So, have I been doing it wrong by keeping time lost separate from the competiion period lengths? I base this on watching upper level matches and rarely does the lost time in the first half match the second half (typically more lost time in the second half because of substitutions.)

USSF answer (July 15, 2004):
The young official’s question is legitimate, but based on a false premise. The first reason the premise is false is that the requirement to give teams the full number of minutes suitable to the competition for each half does NOT mean that the referee should make the second half precisely equal to the first half in gross overall length. The requirement for 45 (or whatever number of) minutes means that the players should be given the full number, with allowance made for adding time for various stoppages and consequent loss of playing time that are not part of normal play.  Many of the reasons for stoppages in play and thus ³lost time² are entirely normal elements of the game. The referee takes this into account in applying discretion regarding the time to be added. The main objective should be to restore playing time to the match which is lost due to excessively prolonged or unusual stoppages. The second part of the false premise is that the amount of time lost in one half will be the same as in the other, which will never happen.


GETTING THE REQUIRED DISTANCE [LAW 13]
Your question:
I coach a U18 girls team. At our last game our team was awarded a free kick just outside our 18 yard box. As our player approached the ball to take the kick, an opponent standing to her right (within 10 yards) moved in front of her and when she kicked the ball it struck the opponent and rebounded to the opponent’s teammate – a shot was taken but narrowly missed. There was no call. I don’t like to say things to the refs from the sideline, but I did say, “what about 10 yards”? The assistant referee said, “have your players ask for 10 yards if they want it”. Later my players told me the ref told them, “you have to ask for ten yards.” This seems to be a trend in our area – to require the team with the kick to ASK FOR 10. This in my opinion is a direct violation of Law 13, interrupts the flow of the game and gives the opponent an advantage not in the spirit of the game. From Law 13, “If when a free kick is taken, an opponent is closer to the ball than the required distance: the kick is retaken.” Also, to fail to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a free kick is a cautionable offence and the offender is shown the yellow card.

I am also a referee and I am increasingly dismayed at players encroaching on 10 yards and being very surprised when I give them a yellow card for not moving the required distance from the ball. Am I missing something? What say you?

USSF answer (July 15, 2004):
The referee is under no obligation to stop the kicker from kicking the ball at a free kick, no matter where the opposing players are positioned, particularly if the kicking player has seen that the opponent is encroaching. Both teams are expected to abide by the requirement to get the ball back in play. All referees should encourage and allow quick free kicks, particularly if that is what the kicking team wants to do. At all free kicks the referee should back away, watch what happens, and intervene in quick free kick situations where an opponent closer than the minimum required distance actively makes a play for the ball (as opposed to, luckily, having the ball misplayed directly to him). The referee must have a feel for the game, how it has been going, how it is going now. That “feel” must be applied to each and every situation individually. There is no black-and-white formula to follow.

Under the Law, the offending team is required to back off at least 10 yards from the spot of the ball immediately. Most do not. The referee should stop the restart process only if it is clear that the kicking team either does not want or cannot take a quick kick. Section 13.3 of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” tells us that “The referee should move quickly out of the way after indicating the approximate area of the restart and should do nothing to interfere with the kicking team’s right to an immediate free kick. At competitive levels of play, referees should not automatically “manage the wall,” but should allow the ball to be put back into play as quickly as possible, unless the kicking team requests help in dealing with opponents infringing on the minimum distance.” However, the referee cannot abdicate the responsibility to ensure that the free kick is indeed “free.”

Finally, this is the way things should be done at competitive levels of play (which one would presume U18 girls coached by a referee would be). Only at a much younger level might the referee step in on his own initiative, unasked, to enforce the required distance and then only if it was clear from the body language that the kicker was perplexed by opponents being too close.


SIGNALS FOR KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK? [PROCEDURES]
Your question:
One official in the middle, one supervising the kick, one on the goal line (line judge).
1) Ball gets kicked over the goal, obvious no goal. No signal?
2) Ball is kicked into the back of the net, obvious to all its a goal. Supervising official points to the center circle?
3) Ball is kicked and apparently saved, but it has crossed the goal line. Line judge raises the flag straight up in the air to signal ball has crossed the goal line. Supervising official points to the center circle then line judge drop the flag?
4) Ball apparently goes into goal, but line judge sees it has not crossed the goal line. AR signals nothing. What signal if any does the supervising official give?

USSF answer (July 14, 2004):
These are kicks from the penalty mark, not part of the game, and therefore the referee need not signal for a goal in the same way that he would signal if the goal occurred during regular play. There is no need for any referee signals for goal/no goal in the case of kicks from the penalty mark.

In potential dispute situations such as described in 3 and 4, the mechanics need be no different than what the officiating team would use in the case of a penalty kick. The officials should follow whatever procedure the referee wants and covers in the pregame.


UNSAFE EQUIPMENT [LAW 4]
Your question:
U-12 Girls Premier level match: forward strikes gk on upper body with her forearm cast (which is padded) after gk takes possession of ball. The referee speaks to offending player and tells her he will return with a card as play continues for another 15 or 20 seconds. When ball goes into touch, referee shows the yellow.

Player remains in the match. What technically correct options were available to the referee? Would a ruling of ineligability have been proper, given that the cast, having been used improperly in the commission of a foul, is now dangerous equipment?

I am very much interested in the law and logic you would apply in this situation.

USSF answer (July 10, 2004):
There is no magic in the logic, and Law 4 is quite clear on the matter: The safety of any item worn by a player is solely in the opinion of the referee, who should inspect all players before the match. However, simply because an item appears safe before the match starts does not mean that it remains safe throughout the match, particularly if it is misused by a player. That would be the case in the situation you provide.

After the player is cautioned‹possibly too light a sentence, given the action you describe‹the player should be removed from the match until she removes the cast whose use has endangered another player. If she is unable or unwilling to do that, then she may be replaced by a substitute, if there are any available. If not, the team will play short.


WHO FOULED WHOM? [LAW 12]
Your question:
In a game I was playing in, this kid had been cheap shotting me all game, on one play he slid fom behind and took me out, I got up and pushed him in retaliation and asked him what his prblem was. The ref appropiately gave me the yellow for retalliation but gave the kick to them. I asked him why it wasn’t our kick and he said it was because my foul was more severe even though he already called the foul on him. Is that correct? Shouldn’t it still be our kick with me deserving a card for retalliation? Thanks for the help!

USSF answer (July 7, 2004):
Yes, the referee should have awarded the free kick to your team, as it was you against whom the foul was committed. The referee should then have cautioned and shown you the yellow card for unsporting behavior and restarted with the direct free kick for your team.

What you did was not a foul, as the foul had already been committed by your opponent. You committed misconduct in retaliation for the foul.


DEALING WITH COACHES [LAW 5]
Your question:
In a recent game where the home team (U15G) was getting frustrated, the coach yelled out toward the center ref (me) “They’re mocking our girls” to which the opposing GK responded back to the coach “Shut up.” I was aware of no chatter going on within the pitch so i stopped play and gave a firm talk to the GK about her response. as i was approaching her, the home coach shouted “Give her a caution” and said it again once i was complete with my conversation with her. the game had run generally smoothly to that point and the GK had displayed no attitude toward me or anyone else. So my question is: While a tad out of line to be yelling back toward the coach, the GK did not use profanity nor say anything else. Was a firm discussion with her within my bounds or should that have been an automatic caution for UB or DT? i should have had a discussion with the coach as well, but didn’t. as always, your wisdom is appreciated.

USSF answer (July 7, 2004):
If you detected no “mocking” or similar activity on the field, then the player is not the one with whom you should have had a talk. Remind the coach that he or she has no authority at the field and is not permitted to do anything but offer encouraging comments to his or her team. If other activity persists beyond this reminder (warning), then you have no choice but to dismiss the coach for irresponsible behavior. No cards to the coach, please, unless the competition requires it.

And having a brief talk with the goalkeeper was not out of order since, though provoked, the goalkeeper should also not have become involved in a shouting match with the opposing coach.


CORRECTING REFEREE MISTAKES AFTER THE GAME [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
If a referee shows two yellow cards to a same player by mistake and only realises after the completion of the match, what will be fate of that particular player?

USSF answer (July 7, 2004):
The referee must include full details of the mistake in the match report. The eventual fate of the player is up to the competition authority.


NON-PARTICIPANT DISTANCE FROM THE FIELD [LAW 18]
Your question:
How far off of the field should non participants be kept ? Is there a standard distance before one is considered off of the field or is it left to the referee to decide?

USSF answer (July 5, 2004):
There is no restriction in the Laws of the Game on the distance that non-participants must remain off the field. That is covered by the rules of the competition.


CHANGING A DECISION [LAW 5]
Your question:
It states in the manual that a decision cannot be changed once play has resumed. My question, and this happened at a tournament recently. At the very end of a match a goal was scored but after a brief discussion with his assistant the referee denied the goal for the scoring player being offside. The defending team put the ball in play possibly without a signal from the referee. The referee then blew the whistle signafying the end of the match.

The team who lost the goal started arguing that the match wasn’t restarted therefore the call could still be reversed based on a legitimate argument about keeper possession. I made the decision that the goal did not count because ending the match with the whistle is equivalent to restarting play anD you can’t reverse the scoring of a goal once play has been restarted.

Was I right?

USSF answer (July 3, 2004):
The team that loses a goal will always want to argue the point. Without going into the merits of the referee’s decision, which was probably entirely accurate, the game was restarted and then the referee blew the whistle to end the game. Game over, no goal.


SLIDE TACKLE ON THE GOALKEEPER [LAW 12]
Your question:
During a pro-level game we see the ball passed back to the keeper as a routine to move the players and the play around, during a recent pro-level match this situation happened. What i would like to know is what i should do at the local level i. e., rec soccer up to adult amateur.

during a pass back to the keeper an attacker was challenging the keeper for the ball, the attacker was close enough to make a normal play for the ball, but the event unfolds like this, as the keeper gets the pass back the attacker charges to play the ball, as the keeper is getting ready to kick the ball away the attacker slide tackles the keeper and collects the ball up and makes a goal. the referee denies the goal and cards the attacker?

after looking at the replay the attackers cleats were up a little, no more than what we may or may not allow on say, someone other than the keeper.

i as a referee watch pro level games to stay ahead of what i belive kids will try to emulate on the fields, this one brought a health dose of reality to what if situation’s because of too much tv.

after reading the laws its obvious the keeper had no possesion, because he couldnt handle the ball, in that situation what protection do we offer the keeper? say if the tackle was 100% clean and if it wasnt clean what should the punishment be? by not clean i am saying it wasnt dangerous but say more trifling none the less a foul.

USSF answer (July 1, 2004):
If the tackle was executed in accordance with the Law, then there was no foul and no reason to stop the game or caution the player. However, this is why Law 12 refers to tackles which are performed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force. It is the referee’s job to sort these concepts out and apply them based on (among other things) the flow of the match and the skill level of the players.


THE REFEREE IS _NOT_ A COACH [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
I was Centering a GU10 tournament the other day and I noticed that a lot of players on both teams were heading the ball using the top of their heads..oh the pain in the faces. I advised 4 different players on correct technique during play directly following their headers. At half time. I asked both coaches to reinforce this technique with their players. The situation got better in the second half. My question is, would you call dangerous play if it continued and award an indirect free kick to the opposing team? The larger question is, what is the status of youth headers and its potential to be dangerous?

USSF answer (June 30, 2004):
Beyond the “Under-Tiny” level, the referee has no reason to lecture players on their skills, nor has the referee any authority to punish them for playing dangerously by heading the ball improperly. If a foul or misconduct occurs, the referee should punish it. If a player is not skillful, the referee can and may do nothing about it. In other words, it is not your responsibility and you should leave it to the coaches. If we don’t want the coach to referee, it would be a good idea if we didn’t coach.


REMOVING AN ASSISTANT REFEREE [LAW 6]
Your question:
In Law 6 it is stated that “In the event of undue intereference or improper conduct, the referee will relieve an assistant referee of his duties and make a report to the proper authorities.” Under what obviously extreme circumstances would constitute relieveing an assistant referee?

At a recent tournament an assistant referee made numerous outrageously derogatory comments to coaches about his collegue with the whistle. Would such (in my opinion) unethical and unprofessional behavior justify relieving an assistant referee? What about very poor performance on the part of an assistant referee? (Interestingly enough, after the match referred to, a heated confrontation arose between coaches, players, and the referee team. Three coaches were expelled and 2 send off’s were issued after the final whistle.)

USSF answer (June 29, 2004):
We would be hard put to define all the possible reasons for dispensing with the services of an assistant referee, but you have done pretty well on your own. Any unethical behavior by the AR would suffice, including making derogatory comments about the referee. The referee might also consider simply consistently poor decisions to be sufficient reason.


GOAL KICKS AND ADVANTAGE? [LAW 16]
Your question:
from the y2k Q&A, Law 16 – The Goal Kick ….    “A goalkeeper takes a goal kick and the ball passes out of the penalty area into play but is blown back by a strong wind without any other player having touched it. The goalkeeper tries to stop the ball entering the goal by touching it with his hands, but is unsuccessful. What decision does the referee give?
He awards an indirect free kick to the opposing team”

I suppose this is because of the ‘second touch’, but why not apply advantage and allow the Goal ?

USSF answer (June 29, 2004):
According to Law 16, when a goalkeeper takes the goal kick, if, after the ball is in play, the goalkeeper deliberately handles the ball before it has touched another player, an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if the infringement occurred inside the goalkeeper¹s penalty area, the kick to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred (keeping in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8). This has consistently been upheld by the IFAB as taking precedence over any subsequent actions, thus negating any application of the advantage clause.


HEARING AIDS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I coach youth soccer at the competitive club level. We have had a boy on our team for 2 seasons now who wears hearing aids. Our team just finished the season with a tournament yesterday, and during play the boy I mentioned made a couple of good offensive headers. It occurred to me then to wonder for the first time, what he (as a player) and/or I (as a coach) should do in the event of his dropping a hearing aid during play. I look forward to your advice. Thanks.

USSF answer (June 29, 2004):
First things first: You are operating under the assumption that the player will have been allowed to wear the hearing aid, which is certainly not a given until the referee has inspected it and found it not dangerous to any player, including the wearer. If the referee has allowed the hearing aid to be worn, then the player may begin looking for it immediately, but the referee is under no obligation to stop play for it. Play continues until the next stoppage in the game. Then, if the player has not yet found the hearing aid, the referee will certainly allow time for the player to look for it.

You and the player should bring the matter of the hearing aid to the attention of the referee before the game. If the hearing aid falls off during the game, you should alert the nearest assistant referee, who will relay the information to the referee at the next stoppage.


ENDING A PERIOD OF PLAY [LAW 7; LAW 18]
Your question:
I was wondering if you would be able to help me with a couple of questions.

1) When a ref calls full time in a game, can the ball be in the air.

2) Could you give me your thoughts on what the outcome of the following play would result in.
Ref is calling out time left to play, 20 secs, 10 secs. Attacking team put ball in play from a throw in. Attacking player kicks ball from just inside penalty area on goal.  A defender (Not goalie) some 7 meters from attacker stops ball with forearms above head height, ref blows whistle as ball impacts with the defender. Ref declares full-time as time is up. Is this the correct action, or should a penalty of been awarded.

I’m just a little confused on how a game is ended. Any help would be appreciated.

USSF answer (June 29, 2004):
1) There is no set or particular moment to end a game. Law 5 empowers the referee to act as timekeeper and to keep a record of the match. Law 7 instructs the referee to add time (at his discretion) for time lost in either half of a game or in any overtime period for the reasons listed in Law 7 (Allowance for Time Lost). Referees allow additional time in all periods for all time lost through substitution(s), assessment of injury to players, removal of injured players from the field of play for treatment,wasting time, as well as ³other causes² that consume time, such as kick-offs, throw-ins, dropped balls, free kicks, and replacement of lost or defective balls. Many of the reasons for stoppages in play and thus ³lost time² are entirely normal elements of the game. The referee takes this into account in applying discretion regarding the time to be added. The main objective should be to restore playing time to the match which is lost due to excessively prolonged or unusual stoppages. Law 5 tells us that the referee’s decisions regarding facts connected with play are final.

Some referees will end the playing period while the ball is in play and there is no threat to either goal, such as allowing a team to take a goal kick and then ending the period. Others will end the playing period at a stoppage. Our advice is to do what is comfortable for the referee and fair to the players.

2) If the referee has determined that there was no foul, then the game is over. If the referee has determined that there was a foul by the player who stopped the ball with his forearms, then a penalty kick must be awarded and the game extended until the kick has been completed. The problem faced by the referee was largely of his own making: referees would never “call out” time remaining in minutes, much less in seconds. All that is needed is communication with the assistant referees 1-2 minutes before the end of regular play which indicates how much additional time (if any) there will be. Only in the highest-level competitions might any public announcement be made of this information, and that would come over the public address system, not from referee to players or team officials.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [LAW 14]
Your question:
Final game ended tied after regulation and overtime so went to penalty kicks to determine a winner. The teams were tied at 3-3 after 5 kicks each, and then the 6th blue player steps up to take her kick, but she shoots before the referee blows his whistle. She puts the shot right down the middle and the keeper saves it easily. However the referee respots the ball saying that the kicker has to wait until he blows his whistle, and the kicker scores on the retake. Blue goes on to win after another couple of kicks each.
Should that kick have been retaken, or should the referee have given the white keeper the benefit of the save since Blue was at fault for kicking too early?

In email discussion, I answered:
Maybe you think I’m out of bounds on this one, but I would not have required the retake.
The reason? Fairness. Here’s why:
The keeper was ready (clearly, since keeper made the save).
The kicker was ready.
The referee wasn’t ready.
If it was only the referee that wasn’t ready, why penalize the keeper? The kicker got “penalized” for shooting early by having the save made. But by retaking, it is the innocent keeper that gets penalized.
I have since been reminded (as I knew before) that the ATR says the kick should be retaken. And, in my opinion, it is the ref that allows himself to get into this mess. But if it happens, wouldn¹t the wise referee wisely proceed to the next kick, not a retake, since he/she obviously gave the kicker a nod or hand signal or wink to start, instead of a whistle, on that particular kick?

USSF answer (June 26, 2004):
The kick from the penalty mark may not be taken until the referee has signaled, just as in a penalty kick. In addition, the referee decides when a penalty kick has been completed. In this case, the kick was not properly taken and thus must be retaken.

Why this sympathy for the goalkeeper? Whose team committed a direct-free-kick in the penalty area, possibly depriving the opposing team of a chance for a goal?  Lex dura sed lex. The law is hard, but it is the law. [And, yes, the same response would apply to normal penalty kicks.]


REFEREE MISAPPLICATION OF THE LAW [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
My u-17 boys team were playing in a USSF-sanctioned tournament and the following occurred. The other team had had a player ejected and were playing with 10 players. They were later awarded a penalty kick and scored. After the goal and before the kickoff, I noticed that they had 11 players on the field. Noone had left or come on after the penalty kick was scored. Should the goal count and what is the re-start. Thanks

USSF answer (June 25, 2004):
If you were going to file a protest, in most competitions you should have done it at the field. Check your local rules on this. You can still complain about the referee’s misapplication of the Laws by filing a letter with the competition authority (the tournament committee) and with the state association.

If the referee detects the extra player before the restart, that player is cautioned for entering the field of play without the permission and then sent from the field. The goal does not count and, at the moment, the correct restart is a goal kick.

If the referee had already restarted with a kick-off, the goal remains scored.


GETTING IT RIGHT! [LAW 18]
Your question:
Am I correct in thinking that everything in this hypothetical case is a legitimate procedure?

QUESTION: A player commits an act of violent conduct behind the referee’s back, but close to an AR. The AR did not get the culprit’s number, but is sure that he could identify the face. The referee consults with the victim and obtains the accused’s number. The referee then calls the accused over to talk to him, profiling him to the AR (eye-witness). The AR then either gives a positive confirming signal or some other signal and the referee acts upon this information. This establishes a legal path for the referee’s action or inaction, right?

If the accused fails to come to the referee having “not heard him” and having “not heard his captain sent to fetch him,” the next action will be for the referee to go to the bench and have his coach call him over, which might be a long way from the eye-witness. The object of the referee is to ascertain the identity of the VC culprit, if possible. So far the referee might not be certain that the accused really heard the referee nor that his captain said anything to him at all. If the referee becomes certain that the accused has deliberately avoided his summons, the accused is guilty of dissent. May the referee also thereby infer that the accused is guilty of VC? Any other suggestions?

USSF answer (June 25, 2004):
The resourceful referee will do everything possible to punish the correct person for serious misconduct. In doing so, the referee is expected to make appropriate use of the assistant referees and the fourth official.


TOUCHED OR PLAYED = MADE CONTACT WITH [LAW 11]
Your question:
In a recent tournament, on two occasions in different games, the ball was headed to a teammate who was clearly in an offside position. On one of the two occasions, the attacker put the ball in the net and a goal was awarded. Neither of the ARs raised the flag for offside, and they were both questioned by spectators/coaches as to why this was not offside. I heard both of them say that although the player was standing in an offside position, the ball was headed by the teammate, and thus it was not an offside infraction. Is this correct? (My question has to do with the words “touched or played” in Law 11—heading the ball to a teammate is not considered touching or playing it to them?)

USSF answer (June 25, 2004):
If a player is in an offside position, it makes no difference how the teammate plays the ball. If the player becomes actively involved after the teammate plays the ball, then the correct decision is offside.


REFEREE MISSES THROW-IN, STOPS PLAY [LAW 15; LAW 18]
Your question:
Here is a strange situation that mystified me, in an otherwise well-called match, advice appreciated:
1) Attack has numbers up in the final 1/3rd but a defender manages to push the ball across touch, in the vicinity of a linesman who made the appropriate signal.
2) Attacker recovers ball and throws in quickly to take advantage of numbers up near goal.
3) Striker approaches penalty area with the ball and a scoring chance is on the line when referee stops play.
4) Referee claims he did not see the throw in and that it should be retaken.
5) Stoppage allows defense to recover in numbers and the ensuing play was of no consequence.

The question is not whether or not the referee saw the throw in, but what the referee should do once he realizes he did not see the throw in.

Would it be best to allowing play to continue to see how a numbers-up chance evolved, then consult with the linesman once a goal has been scored to see if, indeed, the throw had been taken?

An important factor is that the referee knows that he is uncertain about the throw in because he did not watch the ball the whole time due to other distractions, obstructed view, back turned etc. (otherwise the throw in would have been seen). This uncertainty must be taken into account in the referee’s decision.

When questioned, the referee admitted that he might have missed the throw in, but he must stop play anyways because of difficulties in case there was misconduct on the ensuing play. I did not understand this reasoning, as misconduct can be penalized at any time, ball in or out of play (a foul cannot be given if the throw had not occurred, but a caution might, I assume).

My instincts tell me that the referee should only stop play if he actually sees the ball brought across touch illegally. If he was distracted or obstructed from viewing the play, he should allow play to continue, especially in a critical, goal scoring situation, and consult the linesman during play or at a stoppage, rather than guess. A wrong guess to stop play has more consequence than a wrong guess to continue, which can be recovered from, unless I am missing something.

We learn a lot from your advice, especially when it addresses an experience we have been through. Thank you very much.

USSF answer (June 24, 2004):
If the referee was able to see the assistant referee (what you call the “linesman”), the official who actually signaled the throw-in, then there is no excuse for not looking to the AR again for confirmation, rather than making a mistake by stopping play for the wrong reason.

In any event, what should mystify you is why the referee would feel that he had to “see the throw-in” since the main purpose of this restart is to get the ball back on the field and this was apparently accomplished. Trust the AR to indicate if there had been anything seriously wrong with it.


HANGING ON THE CROSSBAR [LAW 12]
Your question:
I noticed in a Euro Cup game a player could have headed the ball from going into the net had he been able to jump up and wrap his hands around the top of the crossbar. Is there some FIFA law I missed that prohibits hanging on the crossbar to head the ball?

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
Players are not allowed to use any portion of the field or its appurtenances (such as the goal or the corner posts) as an aid in playing either the ball or against another player. To do so is to bring the game into disrepute. The penalty for that is a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior. If the ball was still in play, the correct restart is an indirect free kick for the opposing team.


LENGTH OF SUSPENSION [ADMIN]
Your question:
In a co-ed league I am in, I was red carded for dissenting a call made by the ref. Besides the fact that I disagreed with the call, if anything I should have been given a yellow, the league suspended me for two games. I asked why I was being suspended beyond the ‘normal’ one game suspension and the league director answered this is no ‘normal’ one game suspension and that many players assume this. Can you provide some insight on this please?

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
We will not debate the call, as there is not enough information. The length of a normal suspension is one game, but the league may increase this at its pleasure.


SHOW THE CARD, REF!! [LAW 12]
Your question:
Must a player be shown a card to be officially ³cautioned² or yellow-carded during a game? Asked another way, if the referee does not show a card to the player or coaches, can the referee put into his report later that a card was issued?

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
The referee should show the card at any caution or send-off; however, if the referee fails to show the card, the caution or send-off is still valid and must be reported to the competition authority.


POSITION IS EVERYTHING IN LIFE [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Is it legal for let’s say a forward who doesn’t have possession of the ball to block (to stand in the defender’s way and not let him through) a defender who’s trying to get to an opposing team member who does have the ball?

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
The answer depends on what you mean by “stand in the defender’s way Š.” All players have a right to a place on the field. If a player establishes that place first, then the fact that an opponent might want to go somewhere and the player is in the way is just bad luck on the opponent’s part. If a player steps into the path of the opponent who is already moving and the ball is nowhere within playing distance, then the player is impeding (an indirect free kick foul) if his action forces the opponent to stop, swerve, or slow down. If the player actually makes contact with the opponent, this could be a direct free kick foul.

As with many things in soccer, the main issue is who establishes first a course of play.


USING THE WHISTLE [LAW 18]
Your question:
I am a ref and during a recent assessment I had, I was told that the use of whistle is not necessary after a goal is scored. The following is the mechanics I follow after a goal is scored:
1. I look at my AR and confirm the goal
2. Point to the center of the field and whistle
3. Move to center for the kick-off

I did review the USSF ” Guide to Procedures for Referees, AR and Fourth Officials” and it does not mention the use of whistle after a goal. In my opinion it seems that the use of the whistle and the hand signal is a good way of indicating to all players that the goal is legal and the ball should go to the kick-off location for a restart.

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
While the use of a whistle to signal that play is stopped following the scoring of a goal is not required, it is certainly helpful. Your mechanics following a possible goal seem fine to us‹and completely traditional.

The assessor, of course, is technically correct, but is not seeing the forest for the trees. The intent of the Guide’s advice about the use of the whistle is to emphasize that, in general, the less often the whistle is used unnecessarily, the more likely it will have the desired effect of gaining the attention of players when it is necessary.


TRIPPING OR LEGAL TACKLE? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
2. Tackling [for source, see below]
A tackle as such is not an infringement of the Laws of the Game. It becomes an infringement only if the tackler plays carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force, or places his opponent in danger. (a) A sliding tackle from the front or side, made with one or both legs, is permissible if, in the opinion of the referee, it is not dangerous. If, however, the player making the tackle trips his opponent before, during, or after making contact with the ball, the referee shall award a direct free kick to the opposing team. The referee must judge whether an illegal trip occurred or whether the opponent fell over the leg of the player making a legal tackle.

If a player makes a slide tackle from behind and contacts the ball, but then contacts the attackers feet and the attacker trips, would this be considered a foul? We had this discussion at our local referees association meeting, and I commented that I would call a foul because the attacker would not necessarily see the defender coming which may risk the attackers safety, and because of the slide being from behind it is very difficult to not trip the attacker if the defenders leg hooks around to contact the ball first, then the motion continues through to contact the feet even though unintentional. What would you call in this situation??

What is the interpretation/example of an illegal trip in the situation above?

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
The answer you seek is based on the opinion of the referee in each individual case. The only guidance we can give is already included in the text you cite from the USSF publication “Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players”: “The referee must judge whether an illegal trip occurred or whether the opponent fell over the leg of the player making a legal tackle.” The referee would certainly call a foul if the tackling player lifted either foot after making the clean tackle or otherwise deliberately interfered with the opponent.

Let us emphasize that, in making these decisions, the “bar” must be set even higher when the tackle occurs from behind (outside the peripheral vision) of the target. And for this reason, the punishments must be higher when an illegal tackle does occur.


TOO MANY PLAYERS IN KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [LAW 18]
Your question:
What is the procedure if you realize after the kicks have been taken and a winner is determined that one of the players participating in the kicks was not in the game when it ended and the kicks began and that player was on the winning team.

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
Abandon the game and report all the facts to the competition authority.


HOW MANY ANGELS? [LAW 18]
Your question:
I happened to review the 2004 7 + 7 Cautionable and Sending Off Offenses memorandum (both amateur and professional), and the 2004 Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players (Regional and National Cup Competitions and Tournaments) memorandum in the same time frame. There seems to be a discrepancy between the documents regarding a manditory caution for removal of the shirt in celebration of a goal.

The 7 + 7 states that it is mandatory to caution a player who “Removes the jersey after scoring a goal” (1n). there is specific reference to the goal scorer.

The Instructions for Referees…states “If a player removes his shirt to celebrate a goal, he must be cautioned…” (22 (b)) There is no specific reference to the goal scorer.

Therefore, the Instructions for Referees…makes it manditory to caution all players who remove their shirts, not just the goal scorer. The 7 + 7 makes it manditory to caution only the goal scorer, with the possibility of discretionary cautions being issued to players other than the goal scorer.

Please clarify the apparent discrepancy.

USSF answer (June 23, 2004):
In the traditions of the sport and embedded in the language of the Law itself is the notion that teams score goals, not individual players. Accordingly, when the Law or the International F. A. Board refers to a player scoring a goal, it does not necessarily intend for only that player to be the focus of concern. Americans might have said “after a goal is scored” and would mean what the Board intended.

Thus, despite the otherwise slight differences in the language used in these sources, what is meant is that any player who takes a shirt off in celebration of a goal is to be cautioned. Remember, the objective is to reduce the wasting of time through excessive celebrations, and this applies to the player who put the ball into the net and any of his or her teammates.


PLAYERS SENT OFF IN OPEN CUP PLAY [ADMIN]
Your question:
Two players were sent off in an open cup game that was abandoned in the first half. May they play in the mandatory replay of the match?

USSF answer (June 18, 2004):
An official USSF question and answer of August 16, 1999, does not allow a player sent off in a game that MUST BE REPLAYED to participate in the replay.
PLAYER SENT OFF IN ABANDONED GAME THAT MUST BE REPLAYED IN FULL
Q. A game has been abandoned because of severe weather conditions. During the game, a player was sent off and received a red card for serious foul play. The rules of the competition specify that the game must be replayed in full on the following day. In other words, it is not to be a continuation of the abandoned game. May the player who was sent off participate in this game? How many players may his team use?

A. Because the game will be replayed in full at a later date, both teams may start with the maximum allowable number of players, plus the number of substitutes prescribed by the rules of the competition. The player who was sent off in the abandoned game may not participate in the game, nor may he be included in the roster of players and nominated substitutes for the game.


OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
A referee disallowed a goal due to offsides. The situation was similar to the picture on page 49 of the Laws of the Game 2003/2004 book used at the grade 8 course. The difference was that the ball did not rebound off the keeper directly to the player who was in the offside position when the ball was played by his teammate. The offside player had to pursue the ball which stayed near the keeper when it rebounded. During the few seconds that elapsed between the ball being originally played by his teammate and the time it took for the offside player to get to the ball, two defenders had moved closer to their goal and the orginally offside player who scored the goal was no longer in an offside position. The coach of the offending team stated that the goal should be allowed since at the moment the original offside player finally played the ball, the two defenders who arrived eliminated the offsides. I disagree with the coach.

USSF answer (June 17, 2004):
You 1, Coach 0.


GOALKEEPER CAP [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I need some clarification as to what constitutes a legal goalkeeper’s cap. Yesterday the official denied me the use of a baseball cap to shield my eyes from the 107°F Arizona sun at 6pm. He stated that it was a hard-brimmed hat & therefore illegal. I obeyed his wishes, but told him I felt he was wrong. I have lost count how many times I have seen keepers from Kasey Keller to Ray Clemence to Oliver Kahn wearing a ball cap under extreme conditions. The old cabbie hats seen worn by many a past keeper even have some shape to it!

I can understand a hard brim such as a hard hat, pith helmet, officer’s dress hat, batting helmet etc. being considered a hard brim, but just because a baseball cap has cardboard in it does not classify it as “hard-brimmed”. The brim will bend. That is why baseball players wear a batting helmet at bat.

The excuse the official gave that it was considered dangerous because if I came out on a cross & my brim could hit a forward in the nose & break it was pretty far-fetched! Anything is possible, but us goalkeepers tend to use our hands to catch the ball. That striker would have to be seriously impeding the keeper for him to be THAT close! I also pointed out that the keeper’s safety has to be taken into consideration if he cannot see a shot taken right at his head because the sun is in his eyes. You cannot effectively shield your eyes with your hand & be expected to make a catch at the same time. Mind you the ref wore a cap & sunglasses, rightfully earning the fans’ taunts calling him blind in jest!

In my 30 years of playing I have never had this be an issue until yesterday, & I can find nothing in Law 4 that prohibits a ball cap. It says a soft-brimmed HAT or cap. In my opinion, it states the HAT must be soft-brimmed. A cap is a totally different animal & not a hat.

USSF answer (June 16, 2004):
The USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” advises referees:
QUOTE
4.4 GOALKEEPER UNIFORMS AND EQUIPMENT
Under Law 4, goalkeepers must wear a jersey color distinct from the players of both teams. In addition, goalkeepers traditionally wear items of clothing besides those prescribed under Law 4. These items include soft hats or caps, gloves, pants with special hip or thigh pads, jerseys with pads along the elbows and arms, and separate pads for knees or elbows. There is no problem as long as these items of clothing do not present a danger to any players, are of a color distinct from the uniforms of players of either team and are, in the opinion of the referee, clearly related to the goalkeeper’s function. The referee should prevent any player other than the goalkeeper from wearing an item of clothing or equipment that is permitted to the goalkeeper under these criteria.

If the two goalkeepers’ shirts are the same color and neither has another shirt to change into, the referee shall allow the match to proceed.
END OF QUOTE

Traditionally the goalkeeper is allowed to wear a soft-billed cap, but there are few of those around any longer and baseball caps are generally allowed. However, the referee is the sole judge of the permissibility of these items, which must meet the requirement in Law 4 that it not be dangerous to any player. For other guidance, refer to the USSF memorandum of March 7, 2003, on player equipment.

Preventing a goalkeeper from wearing a baseball cap is overworking the principle of safety. Some referees get hung up on this matter by the term “baseball cap” and they fail to recognize the difference between the “baseball cap” worn by batters, which is rigid plastic (and clearly not permissible in a soccer match), and the “baseball cap” which is cloth with a cardboard stiffened brim. Sometime somewhere they have heard from someone that “baseball caps” are not allowed and they now lump all of them together . . . instead of using their head.

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. With about 15 seconds to go, a ball was played into our penalty area and the AR raised his flag for a handling of the ball violation. The referee did not see the AR’s flag and blew his whistles two times and signaled the end of the game. The opposing team argued with the referee. After talking with the AR, the referee called for a PK. The PK was taken and the opposing team scored. The game ended tied 2-2.  Is it correct to extend time for a PK after the referee already whistled an end to the game?

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
Because the infringement occurred before the referee had ended the game, the referee was correct in accepting the assistant referee’s information. If a penalty kick is awarded before the game has ended, time must be extended to complete the penalty kick.


TACKLES FROM BEHIND AND SLIDING TACKLES [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I am the parent of a challenge player that won the State Cups this past weekend. I’m letting you know we won the State Cups so that you realize I’m not a disgruntled parent whose child lost a game.

Rest assured that my son is a tough and aggressive player that can handle the physical play involved in Challenge and Classic soccer.  He got up from the tackle (this time) and stayed in the game.  Slide tackling is a good and fair part of the game when it’s done legally.  My concern is the tolerance for slide tackling by a defensive player that is clearly trailing the play.  On one occasion during the season, one situation in the [name removed] Cup and one in the State Finals he was blatantly slide tackled from behind (by the way, we won all three games).  This leads me to believe that it needs to be addressed with ALL officials not just an individual.  I know there are some close calls (and we had many of these during the season) where the officials must make a judgement call.  None of these three situations fits that description.  These were all desperate attempts by a defender to prevent a goal.  Only in one situation was the defender even talked to by the official.  There was not a yellow or red card issued in any of these three instances.  Unless the officials take a tougher stance on this type of play it will only continue.  The teams/coaches/parents and players must get the message that the penalty will be more severe than a PK.  My son and other kids risk severe injuries from the abusive tripping/slide tackling that shouldn’t be tolerated.

USSF answer (June 1, 2004):
What follows this paragraph is what we teach our referees. Unfortunately, that does not always mean that they put it into practice correctly. This response will be copied to the State Director of Referee Instruction of your state, so that the message comes through that the Federation is also concerned about this matter.

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.


SHORTS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
Working a question from a league regarding the length of players shorts. Some believe the top of the knee is the limit. Law four does not address this. I thought there was a directive some time back regarding thisŠ I can’t find it.

The following was taken from USSF Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players regarding undergarments:
24. Players’ equipment Š
(b) 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. If a team wears multicolored shorts, the undergarment must be the same color as the predominant color.

It would seem that if the undergarment must be above the top of the knee, then the same logic would apply to the shorts.

Bottom line, is there any restriction on the length of a players shorts.

USSF answer (May 28, 2004):
There is no specific guidance on the length of player shorts. In the past, the International F. A. Board (the people who make the Laws of the Game) included a statement in its “Additional Instructions to Referees” that is now also contained in the annual USSF Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players. That statement deals with the undergarments worn by players, rather than the shorts themselves:
“24. Players’ equipment Š
“(b) 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. If a team wears multicolored shorts, the undergarment must be the same color as the predominant color.”

Historically, player shorts have extended from as low as the top of the calf to not far below the crotch, provided that the waistband is worn at the natural place on the torso. We recommend that player shorts meet the requirement set for thermal undershorts and not go beyond the top of the knee.

There remains the problem of religious concerns. In addition to the player equipment required under Law 4–a jersey or shirt, shorts (if thermal undershorts are worn, they are of the same main color as the shorts), stockings, shinguards, and footwear–the International F. A. Board has recognized that other equipment may also be worn, as long as it is safe for all participants. The most recent USSF memoranda on player equipment were published on September 3, 2003, and March 7, 2003. They can be downloaded from the USSF website. Another memorandum, dated December 22, 2002, states quite clearly that religious clothing (including skirts) may be worn, provided that it is not dangerous to any participants and is not used to distract opponents or to trap or otherwise manipulate the ball.


DECEPTIVE TACTICS BY THE KICKING TEAM [LAW 2; LAW 13; LAW 18]
Your question:
Here’s the situation…basic direct kick after a trip. The offense lines up behind the ball – and one after the other jump over the ball…and get back in line. Finally, the second time the fourth kicker comes to the ball – it is kicked.

Question…unsportsmanlike behavior – or just an interesting way to control the time.

USSF answer (May 27, 2004):
While referees should always allow the team with the ball leeway on deceptive tactics, this seems a bit much. After the first four or five players have jumped over the ball, the referee should call a halt to the parade‹charade?‹and warn the players that any further repetition of this tactic will be regarded as delaying the restart of play‹the official reason for the caution if they failed to heed the referee’s advice.


FEINTING AT A PENALTY KICK [LAW 14; LAW 18]
Your question:
A Penalty Kick was awarded. The kicker runs to take the kick and faked the keeper by kicking over the ball without touching it. When the keeper dove to one side, the kicker kicked the ball to the other side scoring the goal.

The Referee blows the Whistle, may caution the kicker for UB or give him a stern warning and:
1. Award a goal to the attacking team
2. Award a goal kick to the opposing team
3. Re-take the kick
If these are the only choices, which choice is correct? Are there any other choices?

P.S. Yes, if the whistle was sounded before the kick was taken to put the ball into the net, re-take will be in order.

USSF answer (May 27, 2004):
Guidance from the International F. A. Board says that referees should not consider various deceptive maneuvers to be a violation of Law 14 or of the guidelines on kicks from the penalty mark in the Additional Instructions. They should ensure that the run to the ball is initiated from behind the ball and the kicker is not using deception to delay unnecessarily the taking of the kick.

The example you cite, of stepping over the ball, hesitating, and then bringing the foot back again to kick the ball, is a good one. The kicker’s behavior must not, in the opinion of the referee, unduly delay the taking of the kick in any feinting tactic. Others would include changing direction or running such an an excessive distance such that, in the opinion of the referee, the restart was delayed; or making hand or arm gestures with the intent to deceive the kicker (e .g., pointing in a direction).

The referee should allow the kick to proceed. If the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken. If the ball does not enter the goal and remains on the field, the kick is not retaken and play continues. If the ball does not enter the goal and leaves the field, the restart is appropriate to the reason the ball left the field.

Finally, kicker violations of Law 14 are not treated any differently from other violations of Law 14 — no caution on first occurrence, caution for persistent infringement only on repetition after a warning.


LEAVING THE FIELD DURING THE COURSE OF PLAY [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
The answer of May 20, 2004, on when players may leave the field of play during the course of play without the referee’s opinion, seems incomplete. Surely there are more reasons than those given?

USSF answer (May 27, 2004):
Yes, the answer was indeed incomplete. Here are some occasions on which the player may leave the field of play without the referee’s permission during the course of play without fear of punishment. Referees and players will be able to think of others, we are sure.
1. To play the ball if there is an obstacle (any players or officials) that prevents normal play.
2. To retrieve the ball and/or put it back into play at a stoppage‹goal kick, corner kick, throw-in, free kick.
3. A player overruns the ball and temporarily leaves the field to get a better angle for kicking the ball.
4. A player steps over the line after playing the ball.
5. A player slips or slides on a wet playing surface.
6. A player steps off the field to stop the ball from going out of play.

7. A player steps off the field to show non-involvement in offside.

The point of emphasis here is that referees should not unnecessarily restrict players. The lines on the field are to show where the ball is in play and where most play should occur. Players are allowed to show their creativity and resiliency both within and without the boundaries. It is when they cross the boundaries for illegal purposes‹something other than to play the ball‹that the referee should become concerned.


WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN INDIRECT AND A DIRECT KICK? [LAW 13; LAW 16, LAW 8, LAW 17] Your question:
What is the difference between an indirect and a direct free kick?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
The USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” tells us:
QUOTE
13.1 FREE KICKS
This restart is called a “free kick” because it may be taken “freely” by the team to which it has been awarded — without interference, hindrance, or delay. Free kicks are awarded for fouls, misconduct, a combination of the two, or offside. A direct free kick is given if play is stopped for a direct free kick foul committed by a player against an opponent on the field of play (except when it is committed by a defender within his own penalty area — see Law 14, Penalty Kick). An indirect free kick is given if play is stopped for any other foul or if play is stopped solely to deal with misconduct committed on the field by a player, or for offside. A free kick may be taken in any direction.
END OF QUOTE

A penalty kick is a direct free kick awarded to the attacking team when an opponent commits a direct free kick foul against one of their players in the opponent’s penalty area.

Corner kicks, kick-offs, and corner kicks are akin to direct free kicks, in that a goal may be scored directly from a corner kick or goal kick or kick-off, but only against the opposing team.


DUTIES AND POWERS OF THE ASSISTANT REFEREE DO NOT INCLUDE . . . [LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
My questions are regarding the actions taken by an AR. In this one scenario, the AR was arguing with a head coach about minor dissent being shown by the coach. While the game was in progress and ball was in play, the AR does not pay attention to his duties and continues arguing with the one coach. The coach decides it is best not to argue and after the game he would talk to the AR about it. At the end of the game, the AR does not like the tone of voice by the coach and displays the red card. The coaches actions were not deserving of a red card, as stated in the 7 “Send-Off” criterion. Everyone has already left the field, but still the red card is displayed by the AR. Is this a valid move by the AR? Does the suspension still apply though it was given in by an invalid official?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
The assistant referee (AR) should never take time away from duties to argue with players, spectators, or team officials, whether the ball is in play or not. Nor may or can an AR show a card to anyone at any time. That is clearly reserved for the referee. And, unless the rules of the competition specify it, no official may show a card to any non-player or substitute.

There can be no suspension without a report from the referee to the appropriate authorities.


NEITHER A VIGILANTE NOR A CRUSADER BE [LAW 18]
Your question:
Two incidents with the same referee. During a game last fall (U14 girls), an opponent’s player was injured. The ref stopped the game and the restart was a drop ball. He ordered our player not to kick at all, just to stand there. In a recent game, one of our players was injured. He allowed play to continue and we kicked the ball out of play. On the restart he ordered our opponents to throw the ball directly to one of our players. I understand that soccer tradition dictates that a team not lose possession due to injury and that in such situations, teams generally play the ball to their opponents. However, I believe that such actions are the decisions of the players and coaches and that officials should never order players to give up possession of the ball and that doing so reflects poorly on the neutrality of the referee. What is your opinion?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
No referee may instruct any player to play the ball in any particular way. While the referee may suggest that it might be sporting to play in a particular way, the referee cannot and must not play the role of “vigilante for fair play.”


“RELIGIOUS JEWELRY” VS. RELIGIOUS JEWELRY [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I have read a number of discussions regarding religious jewelry. The topic of a young girl that had small stud earrings that could not be removed for religious reasons was brought up. Normally no earrings are allowed even if they are taped up. The reasoning is that if struck on the side of the head the stud could be driven into the side of her neck. What is the official stance on this subject. Should she be allowed to play or not?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
We are not aware of any sort of earrings that may not be removed for “religious reasons.” The position of the U. S. Soccer Federation on earrings and other jewelry has been clearly stated in position papers and responses to questions. (It is also the position taken by the International F. A. Board, FIFA, and CONCACAF.) Here is one of the responses from earlier this year:

QUOTE
USSF answer (February 13, 2004):
Beads and other decorative items are not part of the required equipment for players and cannot be sanctioned for wear in competitive play. Law 4 – Player Equipment – tells us:
The basic compulsory equipment of a player is:
– a jersey or shirt
– shorts — if thermal undershorts are worn, they are of the same main color as the shorts
– stockings
– shinguards
– footwear

The referee must enforce the Laws of the Game, particularly as they apply to the safety of players. Law 4 tells us that players must not wear jewelry of any kind. There is only one permissible exception 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. Beads, as decorative items, must be considered as jewelry. They can also be dangerous, particularly at the end of braids. For these reasons, they are not permitted.

If questioned by players, you simply refer them to Law 4. If they do not wish to remove their beads to conform with the Law, inform them that the only alternative to removing the beads or jewelry (or other unauthorized equipment) is not to play at all.

NOTE: 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).”
END OF QUOTE

We might add that simply because an item looks religious in nature, such as an earring in the shape of a cross, does not put the item into the religious jewelry/clothing category. The critical criterion is whether the player’s religion requires that the item be worn. If that is the case, the player must get permission from the state association to wear such an item and the state association must inform any competition in which the player plays of this permission well in advance of the game. Even with this permission, the final decision in this process is made by the referee, who must decide whether item is dangerous to any of the participants.


INTERESTING SITUATION [LAW 11]
Your question:
This came up in a discussion at our weekly referee meeting. It involves a player that has legally gone off the field of play during the flow of play. We were talking about a player in the goal (between the goal posts and into the netting area). Now if a player running off the field to get around a defender or the AR are struck by the ball while they are off the field, but all of the ball has not crossed over the touchline, and the ball bounces back into play, then the ball is still in play and no violation has occurred, right?. But what if this happens to a player standing in the goal? The whole of the ball has not passed under the cross bar, between the goal posts and over the goal line so it can not be a goal. If it is a playable ball, is that player (a member of the attacking team) considered off side? Restart IDK for defending team anywhere in the goal area. If it is a defender, then the ball in play?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
The player who has left the field entirely during the course of play and, while in the goal, prevents his own team’s shot from crossing the goal line completely, has committed no sin. The player would only be considered to be offside if he had been in an offside position and actively involved in play when his teammate shot the ball. That was not the case, so there is no reason to stop play.


DROPPED BALL; SECOND TOUCH [LAW 8; LAW 12]
Your question:
Two real game situations:
1. Drop ball (play stopped because of injured player on team A) – Team A wants to put two – three players up around the referee for the drop ball. to my mind this could result in a rugby game breaking out. Although the illustration in the Laws of the Game shows each team represented at a drop ball and the Advice to Referees says that there is no requirement for both or either team to be present at the spot of a drop ball neither the laws nor the Advice to Referees address the issue of multiple players pressing in. My inclination was to tell the additional players to back off. This did not please the coach. Comments please.

2. Defender attempts to head ball away from goal but flicks it toward the goal. Keep leaps for it and catches it. While still in the air, keeper realizes his momentum will carry him and the ball over the goal line so he releases the ball onto the field about 12 inches in front of the goal line. Landing he steps back onto the field of play and picks up the ball to punt. Should this have been called as a “second touch” and an indirect free kick awarded at the 6 yard line?

USSF answer (May 25, 2004):
1. The referee may not order any players away from a dropped ball–but the intelligent referee will _suggest_ to the players that the ball will not be dropped until most of them back away. If they ask why, the intelligent referee will say that it is an issue of player safety, because the referee is required by the Laws of the Game to protect players. Surely they will understand.

2. Yes, this is a “second touch” situation and the referee should stop play and award an indirect free kick to the opposing team at the nearest spot on the goal area line parallel to the goal line.


DANGEROUS PLAY? [LAW 12]
Your question:
A player kicks a ball that is approximately even with her shoulder. In doing so, on the follow through, she kicks in the side of the head an opponent who was attempting to play the ball with her head. Is this a kicking offense, resulting in a direct free kick, or is it playing in a dangerous manner, resulting in an indirect free kick? Thanks.

USSF answer (May 20, 2004):
There can be no call of playing dangerously if there is contact. The player should be called for kicking and the restart would be a direct free kick.


HOW MANY PLAYERS AT A RESTART? [LAW 18]
Your question:
On a corner kick, 2 players from the kicking team leave the field at the corner, this seemed to be done to confuse the other team. They did this at every corner kick, sometimes one player would actually kick the ball and other times the first player to approach the ball would fake the kick and the next player would kick it. I know that one player is allowed to leave the field to take the kick…but if we let 2 leave for a “trick” play then why not let 3 or 10.

USSF answer (May 20, 2004):
Players are allowed to leave the field without the referee’s permission on two occasions: (1) during the course of play to play the ball if there is an obstacle that prevents normal play and (2) to retrieve the ball and put it back into play at a stoppage.

In the case of putting the ball back into play, it is common practice and tradition for only one player to do this. If, in the opinion of the referee, activity off the field constitutes unsporting behavior, the referee should warn the player(s) on the first instance and then caution and show the yellow card for either unsporting behavior or leaving the field of play without the permission of the referee.


ASSISTANT’S SIGNAL FOR INDIRECT FREE KICK FOUL [LAW 6]
Your question:
What would be the correct mechanical signal by an AR to the Referee, if an Indirect Free Kick foul was comitted. (Example: the referee was out of position, blocked from view, and the AR waved flag.) Heard this one at the refs’ tent at a tournament.

USSF answer (May 18, 2004):
There is only one standard signal for the assistant referee to use to indicate a foul not seen by the referee — flag straight up in the air, brief waggle after making eye contact, and then 45 degrees upward up or down field indicating the direction of the restart if the referee stops play. It doesn’t make any difference if the foul itself requires a direct or an indirect free kick. The referee may, in the pre-game conference, request some additional signal to indicate an indirect free kick if this is felt necessary.

However, careful thought on the matter would suggest that an indirect free kick foul would be rare. The basic charge given to the assistant referee, in addition to the fact that the offense occurred out of the view of the referee, is that the referee would have stopped play for the foul if he had seen it (i.e., not trifling, not doubtful, and no advantage). It is highly unlikely that an indirect free kick foul would meet all these criteria — only a dangerous play or impeding the progress of an opponent come to mind as even possible.

The referee can usually be confident that such a signal by an experienced, knowledgeable assistant referee is almost certainly an indication of a direct free kick foul.


MISCONDUCT IN THE TECHNICAL AREA [LAW 5]
Your question:
What should the referee do, if anything, when a coach and a substitute on the bench start arguing and start calling each other unpleasant names? This would be in U19 youth soccer.

USSF answer (May 18, 2004):
The referee may dismiss both persons (coach/other team official and substitute). The referee may show the red card only to the substitute, not the coach/other team official, unless the rules of the competition permit it.

The coach will be dismissed for irresponsible behavior, the substitute for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures.


A PROBLEM IN ETHICS [LAW 7]
Your question:
A tournament director writes: I would appreciate your response to the following situation that occurred recently during a youth recreational tournament.

The referee assignor, who was also the coach of the team scheduled to play, assigned her husband as center referee on her U14G semi-final game and her daughter was a player on that team. Should this have taken place? By the way, a complaint was made by the opposing coach after the game started because of this situation.

USSF answer (May 18, 2004):
In the Referee Administrative Handbook, p. 33, it suggests that assistant referees should not be related in any way to either team participating in the game unless it is impossible to get other affiliated officials assigned. Unfortunately, sometimes the referee game assignors do not have enough bodies to go around and ask parents or siblings to referee games in which their kin will be playing.

In this situation a complaint should be filed against the assignor/coach and her husband, the referee, who surely knew his daughter was on that team, under Policy 531-10, which expressly addresses conflict of interest. It then should be sorted out within the state through a hearing process.

You can download a PDF copy of the USSF Policy Manual at this URL: http://www.ussoccer.com/services/content.sps?iType=230&icustompageid=9277

NOTE: The remainder of the response was a direct quote of Policy 531-10 and has been deleted.


SUBSTITUTE INTERFERES WITH PLAY [LAW 3]
Your question:
A ball goes out of touch last contacted by a white player. Just inside their half of the field, the Green team attempts a quick throw to catch the white defense out of position and would have had a good chance to run on goal. As the legal throw crosses the half line a member of the white team that is waiting his turn to be substituted into game, reaches out, (without entering the field) catches the ball, and then drops the ball into the field of play stopping the quick attack. What is the call? What is the correct restart?

I felt the answer is; caution the sub for unsporting behavior and restart with a drop ball near the touchline where the interference occurred. I used ATR 1.8 (d) and ATR 12.25 for my rationale.

USSF answer (May 15, 2004):
If the substitute handled the ball, he must have entered the field of play, at least with his hand. The referee should caution and show the yellow card to the substitute for entering the field without the referee’s permission. The substitute could also be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior. The correct restart is a dropped ball from the place where the ball was when play was stopped.


THERE IS _NO_ ADVANTAGE ON OFFSIDE [LAW 11; LAW 18]
Your question:
Recently I was scanning through the USSF publication, “Advice to referees on the laws of the game.” I was surprised when I read the section 5.6 on Advantage. It reads… “The advantage applies only to infringements of Law 12 (fouls and/or misconduct) and not to infringements of other Laws. For example, there can be no advantage during an offside situation, nor may advantage be applied in the case of an illegal throw-in that goes to an opponent.” This makes perfect sense to me except for the part about offside. I, myself, referee and watch a lot of high level soccer, and have worked with some of the world’s best referees. In my experience, I have seen countless situations where an offside is signaled by the assistant referee, and the referee signals advantage if a quick counterattack begins for the other team or if the ball goes straight into the hands of the keeper. In most other countries (and all of UEFA I know) the advantage signal is suggested in this situation rather than the “lower the flag” signal that USSF encourages, but in any case, even with the USSF “lower the flag” signal, what we are doing in essence is applying advantage to the situation. If the AR signals the offside and the ball goes straight into the keeper’s hands, we are not telling the AR there is not an offside by asking him to lower his flag, we are giving advantage. If an attacker is involved in play and the AR signals offside, but the defense intercepts the pass and starts a quick counterattack, we are not telling the AR he or she is wrong, we are simply applying advantage. Since this happens all the time with soccer even at the highest levels, I would like to know why the “Advice to referees on the Laws of the Game” makes this statement. I appreciate your attention to my question and look forward to hearing back from you.

USSF answer (May 13, 2004):
There is no advantage applicable to any Law beyond Law 12, although one could make a small (but not totally convincing) case in several instances in Laws 13 and 14, but it is easier to do what is done with Law 11‹there is no advantage there, but the referee may choose to call the offside (whether signaled by the AR or not) or ignore it, depending on the circumstances.

When you agree to work games under the aegis of the United States Soccer Federation, you also commit yourself to following the procedures used by the Federation. We do not use the advantage signal for a case where offside will not be called, because it is not an advantage–it is a case of no infringement of the Law.

The “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” is, as its introduction states, ” a reliable compilation of those international and national guidelines [currently] in force, as modified or updated. It is not a replacement for the Laws of the Game, nor is it a ‘how to’ book on refereeing.” All that remains to be said here is another quote: [The] “Advice to Referees presents official USSF interpretations of the Laws of the Game.” Fail to follow it at your own peril.


BREAKING UP FIGHTS [LAW 5; LAW 6]
Your question:
1. If a one-on-one player on player fight breaks out on the soccer field, how is the stopping of it to be handled? Where does the referee’s responsibility end and the coach’s begin? 2. What are the responsibilities of the assistant referees in the situation where the fight expands beyond the original two players and the referee fails to signal for assistance from the coaches. Who is responsible to do what?

USSF answer (May 13, 2004):
1. The referee has no responsibility to stop a fight, no matter what the age of the players. But a VERY LOUD whistle, to signal that the referee wishes the activity to stop immediately, could be blown VERY NEAR to the players. That is usually quite effective. And coaches have no authority or responsibility whatsoever on the soccer field, other than to keep themselves and their substitutes under control. However, if the referee chooses to stop play and wave the coaches on to the field to help break up a fight, that is permitted. 2. In the case of a fight on the field, the assistant referees have no responsibilities‹on the field‹unless the referee has assigned them something other than what they would do in the case of a mass confrontation of the referee by players on the field:

Assistant Referees
– Both assistants move along the touchline to a point as near as possible to the confrontation and, if necessary, prepare to enter the field for a better viewing position.
– The nearer assistant should concentrate fully on the confrontation and attempt to identify the instigator(s) while the farther assistant concentrates on players who join the confrontation from a distance.
– The senior assistant (on the bench side of the field) should additionally monitor persons coming from the bench into the field to participate in the confrontation, but this assistant¹s primary objective remains monitoring the confrontation itself.
– After the confrontation has ended, both assistants should be ready to provide information to the referee regarding the identities of persons they observed and the role each such person played in the confrontation.


USING UNREGISTERED REFEREES [ADMIN; LAW 18]
Your question:
What is the advice of the USSF about officiating a game with a ref that has not completed the necessary officiiting recert process? Is the host association at risk if there is an injury or a problem during a game officiated by such? Would there be repercussions from the USSF? I only ask because my local association is using refs that have not completed the program for this year..

USSF answer (May 11, 2004):
This will not be the direct answer you were looking for. The only answer we can give is to state US Soccer policy.

The insurance policy only covers registered referees doing affiliated games. The US Soccer Policies say that all games directly or indirectly under the jurisdiction of US Soccer shall be officiated by a currently registered USSF referee. We cannot say what the outcome would be for not following the policies of membership. That would be up to US Soccer Board of Directors. We do know that the insurance company will not defend a case unless the referee is registered and working affiliated games.


PROTESTING A REFEREE MERRY-GO-ROUND [ADMIN; LAW 18]
Your question:
Could you tell me if there is something that I can do about this situation that happened, during a u-16 premier game. The game started with a ref. and two linesmen. At halftime one of the linesman leaves, and the opposing team gets someone to line. I asked the other linesman who that person was, he said that he was a certified ref. as he gets on the field he has a red ref. shirt different from the other two. He has no socks, no shoes, and a pair of brown pants. Needless to say he did not call offside and they scored twice. At about 20 minutes left, someone else takes his place in full ref. uniform. Can I file a protest, or not?

USSF answer (May 11, 2004):
Usually a protest must be filed at the field. You should check with your local governing body to see what is protestable and when protests must be filed and go from there. There is nothing in the Laws of the Game regarding what constitutes protestable issues‹that is strictly a local thing and that’s where you need to start.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [ADMIN; LAW 18]
Your question:
What is the USSF advice to match officials with regard to officials of the technical area entering the FOP at the end of extra time and PRIOR to the taking of KFTPM. It is clear in Law that only the eligible players are permitted to remain on the FOP during the taking of the kicks and that AUTHORISED persons may only enter the FOP this authorisation can of course only be given by the referee, but it is the period directly before the Kicks that is causing a problem. Is it permitted for the referee to give such AUTHORISATION prior to the kicks commencing??

USSF answer (May 11, 2004):
The process of kicks from the penalty mark begins immediately upon the conclusion of full time (including any required extra periods of play). While there is a break of sorts following the conclusion of full time and the first actual kick, the kicks from the penalty mark process has already begun, and in fact there are things that may be going on during that “down time”; for example, the coin toss.

Normally only eligible players and the match officials are allowed on the field once kicks from the penalty mark begin, and the process begins the moment full time is over. However, if the rules of the competition provide for a break between the end of full time and the actual kicks themselves, the referee may permit persons (team officials) other than players to be on the field of play during that break period between the end of regulation play and the actual kicks from the penalty mark. If the referee permits it, they may do this in their team’s half of the center circle. When the kicks are ready to commence, the team officials must return to the technical area (their team’s area).


TEAM REFUSES TO PLAY [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
During my last game a coach didn’t like one of my calls, and he ordered his entire team to get off the field saying that they were done. I ended the game and later reported the situation to the league coordinator. Was I supposed to do anything else? Maybe caution the players that left the field without my permission? I just thought it would look ridiculous to show yellow/red cards to every player from the team that left the field before the end of the game.

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
While we have no knowledge of your actions prior to this incident, you acted perfectly correctly in abandoning the game and reporting the situation in your match report. Cautioning and showing cards to the players would have accomplished nothing. By acting in accordance with correct procedure, you maintained your dignity and did not allow the coach to drag the game even farther into disrepute.


PLAYING TIME FOR U-TINIES [LAW 7]
Your question:
At a u7 game how long are their quarters and breaks? Thanks!

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
There is no set time period. U6 plays 4 equal 8-minute quarters, with a 2-minute break between quarters one and two and another 2-minute break between quarters three and four and a half-time interval of 5 minutes. U8 plays 4 equa 8-minute quarters, with a 2-minute break between quarters one and two and another 2-minute break between quarters three and four and a half-time interval of 5 minutes.

These are recommendations from the nationally-approved youth competition rules.  Your competition may choose to use whatever length of periods it requires.


PLAYING SHORT [LAW 18]
Your question:
I worked a game as a AR in a U17 boys game and the CR gave a penalty kick on the keeper for taking down attacking player and holding him from going after the ball. The play was now stop and the keeper said something to the referee and he red carded the keeper. The center did not make them play down since the send-off was done when the play had stopped. His thought was it was not a foul and it happened after the play had stopped. Should they have played down one man? I say yes.

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
Yes, after the referee sent off the goalkeeper, the goalkeeper’s team should have played with one fewer player for the rest of the game. Once the game starts, it makes no difference when a player is sent off or when the misconduct for which the player is being punished occurred, whether during play or a break in the game (halftime or other official break) or at a stoppage–ALL misconduct is dealt with during stoppage.

As a sidebar, your question suggests that the goalkeeper might have been sent off in the first place for denying the opponent a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by preventing the opponent from getting to the ball.


ENFORCING THE REQUIRED DISTANCE [LAW 13]
Your question:
1, A foul is committed and a free kick is awarded. Is the offending team required to immediately back off 10 yards? Or can the offending team delay moving away unless the opposing player asks the referee to provide the 10-yard distance? If 10 yards is immediately required, why don’t refs show more yellow cards? Delay of game and poor sportsmanship are cautionable. 2. A player takes a throw in and the ball never crosses into play. Rethrow? Or does the other team take possession?

USSF answer (May 6, 2004):
1. As you point out, some referees are apparently afraid to give the kicking team the space they need and to punish the team that continues to break the Laws after having been caught once. Under the Law, the offending team is required to back off at least 10 yards from the spot of the ball immediately. Most do not. The referee should stop the restart process only if it is clear that the kicking team either does not want or cannot take a quick kick.

2. In the case of the throw-in that never enters the field, it is retaken.


PLAY SHORT OR NOT? [LAW 18]
Your question:
The R&D committee of our league is debating the answer to the following scenario, and the application of the appropriate Laws of the Game. As background, the league plays with limited size, official state rosters, and with unlimited substitutions on goal kicks, throw-ins by own team, kickoffs, and on injuries for the injured player. Therefore, players may leave and re-enter the match, with the referees permission, on multiple occasions. The scenario:
1. Player #x from Team A, receives a yellow card, for a foul while on the playing field.
2. Sometime thereafter, the same Player #x from Team A receives a second yellow card, during the match, while NOT on the field – he was now a substitute – on the sideline. The second yellow card was issued for a MISCONDUCT, because a FOUL can not be committed by a substitute.
3. The referee, using his authority under Law 5, and applicable sections of Law 12 – shows Player #x from Team A a red card for a second caution (2CT). The player is sent off.

The question – does Team A now play short?

USSF answer (May 5, 2004):
If the player/substitute received the second card while in his role as substitute, in other words, while on the bench, then he was not a player at that time and the team need not play short. If he had been a player at the time, then the team would have to play short.


PLAYER DISCIPLINE [LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
I have a question, we have a U8 player that has been Red Card at least once for sure possible twice this season along with a yellow card in between. This is just rec soccer and it’s been told this child has played on Top Soccer and the parents wanted to try Rec. He also has an anger issue. The reasoning for the red card was he was pushing players on purpose. I guess what I would like to know is how do we handle this? Can U8’s get cards? If so how long to you keep them out of games and so on? They have 2 more games for the season and a post season tournament. I don’t know what really happened since I wasn’t present but I would like to know what is the best way to go about fixing this issue and not having anyone get hurt. I don’t believe the child has been put on the bench for his actions like a time out. I also don’t know if U8 are even allowed cards?  We are talking 6 and 7 years. Do they really understand it?

USSF answer (April 29, 2004):
There is no age limit on learning. If a player cannot adapt readily to the standards of the game, then he or she must be educated. Being sent off (given a red card) usually means having to sit at least one game for each time sent off. The one-game suspension is a minimum standard imposed by FIFA, but local rules of competition can increase this and apply other penalties as well, depending on the severity and/or frequency of the behavior for which the red cards were received.

It makes no difference what age the player is. If this player does not learn acceptable behavior early on, what will he be like when he hits the middle teens?


CASTS FOR REFEREES [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I know that a player can not play with a hard cast on their arm. Can a referee have a hard cast for a recreational league?

USSF answer (April 29, 2004):
In fact, you are starting from an incorrect presumption‹that “a player cannot play with a hard cast on their arm.” A player may play with a cast under two conditions: if it is not prohibited by the local rules of competition and if the referee believes that the cast will not present a danger to anyone else. The referee would be bound by the same strictures‹if the player can not have a cast, then neither could the referee.


PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS [LAW 1]
Your question:
I was at a youth league game and the ball slowly rolled to the corner, hit the flag, and bounced a few inches back onto the field. The ref did not call it out and play continued. Should he have stopped play? Should it have been called a corner or goal kick (depending on who touch it last) or a throw-in? Is this correct because the ball never left the field of play much like a ball hitting the goal post? It was so goofy that no parents complained as commented on the improbability of it and they questioned each other on what should have been done.

BTW, is a tree always out of bounds? If a corner kick hits an overhanging tree, does it depend on where it is hit or is it automatically out of bounds? Same field different match.

USSF answer (April 29, 2004):
1. The corner flag is considered to be part of the field, just like the referee. In the situation you present, the ball never left the field.

2. A tree is considered to be a pre-existing condition, something on or above the field that is not described in Law 1 but is deemed safe and not generally subject to movement. This category includes trees overhanging the field, wires running above the field, and covers on sprinkling or draining systems. These things do not affect one team more adversely than the other and are considered to be a part of the field. If the ball leaves the field after contact with any item considered under the local ground rules of the field to be a pre-existing condition, the restart is in accordance with the Law, based on which team last played the ball. (Check with the competition for any local ground rules.)


CARRYOVER OF SUSPENSION [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
If a player is ejected during their last game in a USYSA-sponsored tournament, are they then required to sit out their next USYSA event, for example, a league game? Or does the suspension disappear when the event for which it was awarded ends?

According to the FDC, it would appear that they would sit out their next USYSA match, but some of our state associations claim that the FDC does not apply to USYSA. Can you advise?

USSF answer (April 26, 2004):
This policy statement from U. S. Soccer is the most up-to-date information available:
QUOTE
From the U.S. Soccer Communications Center ‹ Nov. 14, 2003
Memorandum
To: State Referee Administrators
State Youth Referee Administrators
State Directors of Referee Instruction
State Directors of Referee Assessment
National Referee Instructors and Trainers
National Assessors
National Referees
From: Alfred Kleinaitis
Manager of Referee Development and Education
Subject: Automatic Suspension Following an Expulsion from a Match
Date: November 14, 2003

FIFA recently distributed Circular 866 to clarify and confirm any doubts remaining from its earlier Circular (821, dated October 1, 2002) regarding the issue of mandatory suspensions for a player who has been expelled from a match. The clarifications took the form of unambiguous answers to certain frequently asked questions.

1. Any player sent off during a football match shall automatically be suspended for the following match (Art. 19, para. 4; Art. 39 FDC)

2. Any appeal against an automatic suspension shall not have a suspensive effect. Under no circumstances may a player take part in the following match while awaiting a decision on his appeal, regardless of the reasons for his appeal.

3. Any appeals against an automatic suspension as a result of an obvious error made by the referee under the terms of Art. 83 FDC (principally an error regarding the identify of a player involved in an incident leading to a sending off) can and must be accepted or rejected immediately in order to allow any players who have been erroneously suspended to play in the next match.

4. The disciplinary body is able to reach an immediate decision with regard to such an appeal as obvious errors, by their very nature, can also be confirmed without delay. If any doubts remain, the referee has clearly not made an obvious error and the appeal will also be rejected immediately.
We therefore ask the national associations of FIFA to make use of the judicial instruments referred to in the FIFA Disciplinary Code (Art. 134 and 140) in order to be able to make an immediate decision regarding appeals: either allow the disciplinary body to hold an immediate conference or permit a single judge to pronounce a decision.

5. If a player is unable to serve the automatic suspension in a domestic or continental club competition, the relevant bodies shall decide on how the suspension shall be carried over to another competition.

6. The principle of automatic suspension shall be applied in the same way, irrespective of the offence committed by the player.
However, in the case of particularly serious offences, the relevant body may extend the sanction imposed to apply to all competitions organized under its jurisdiction in order to prevent a player, after having committed such an offence, from playing in any other competition.

All competition authorities under USSF must ensure that their disciplinary procedures take these clarifications into consideration.

A one game suspension is mandatory following a send-off (red card).
The suspension may be extended for more serious offenses but it cannot be reduced, no matter what the reason was for the send-off.
The suspension must be served even if it is being appealed. Under no circumstances can the fact of an appeal be used to suspend or delay the suspension.
All appeals must be decided quickly, before the match is played for which the affected player would be suspended. If the send-off was erroneous due to an obvious error in identifying the player, this appeal can be resolved quickly because the error was obvious; if the error was not obvious, the appeal will be quickly resolved by rejecting it.
END OF QUOTE

In our experience, if the player or team official continues into the _same_ competition (league or tournament) the next year, then the player or team official may not participate in the team’s first match in that competition. Your best bet would be to check with the competition authority.

The bottom line is that the red card does not disappear‹whatever the state association or the competition rules call for is what should be enforced. Just because someone gets a send off in the last game of an event or tournament, to have no carry over would create mayhem. It would be best if you would take your question to [your] State Association as we are sure they have rules in place to deal with a send-off.


LEAVING THE FIELD DURING THE COURSE OF PLAY [LAW 11]
Your question:
One attacker and two defenders are chasing a long ball towards the goal line. Just as they approach the goal line, one of the players saves the ball and kicks it back to the 18 where an attacker is standing. The three players’ momentum causes them to leave the field, as a part of normal play. The one attacker turns back toward the field and is passed the ball by his teammate standing at the 18. The attacker enters the field and collects the ball. Is he guilty of being offside?

What if he never left the field, and the two defenders did go over the end line? Are they to be taken into consideration when determining offside?

This has been asked of 9 National or State level referees and the votes are split 5 to 4. Before this happens to me, I want to make sure I know.

USSF answer (April 25, 2004):
The answer to your questions will be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.” If any of the National or State referees answered differently than what is in the Advice and what you will read here, then there is a major cause for concern about the knowledge of those whose answers differ from this response.

Situation 1: One attacker and two opponents leave the field during the course of play, just after one of the players (unspecified team) kicks the ball back to the 18, where an attacker is standing. The attacker who left the field returns and receives the ball from his teammate on the 18.

Decision: There can be no offside here. Players of either team who leave the field during the course of play are still considered in determining offside‹defenders if they do not immediately return to the field and members of the opposing team if they become involved in play. They are considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to the off-field position. (A player who has left with the referee’s permission is not included in determining offside position. See ATR 11.11.)

Situation 2: The attacker did not leave the field but the opponents did. Are they considered in determining offside?

Decision: No offside. See above and ATR 11.11, quoted below for ease of reference.

11.11 DEFENDER LEGALLY OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY 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 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.


REFEREE CHANGES DECISION IN MATCH REPORT [LAW 5]
Your question:
I am curious to know your reaction to the following based on the Laws of the Game. Perhaps I misunderstand the article, but I would have thought that having decided a goal was not scored, and having apparently restarted play after the delay (no mention is made of the match being abandoned), the referee could not thereafter change his mind.

QUOTE
Referee u-turn over riot-provoking goal

LAGOS (Reuters) – A Nigerian referee who ruled out a late goal at the weekend to prevent a riot has changed his mind and awarded victory to league leaders Dolphin FC.

Dolphin, playing at Plateau United, scored a goal in the 87th minute. After a pitch invasion which the police took 10 minutes to clear, the referee decided to cancel the goal and the game ended 0-0.

In his match report to the Nigerian Football Association (NFA), however, the referee said the goal was genuine and gave Dolphin a 1-0 win.

“He said he had to reverse the decision at the time to prevent a breakdown of law and order in view of the volatile situation in the stadium,” NFA league spokesman Salisu Abubakar told reporters.

“Based on his report, the three points go to Dolphin.”

USSF answer (April 25, 2004):
We cannot criticize referees from other countries for the way in which they manage their games. The following answer applies to games played under the auspices of the United States Soccer Federation.

No, the referee may not change his decision once the game has restarted. If the referee cancelled the goal at the 87th minute and then, after the pitch invasion, restarted play based on whatever pretext he used for the cancellation, and then said in his game report that the goal was in fact scored, he was wrong. Prudent, perhaps, but wrong. The referee must simply report the facts and allow the competition authority to make the decision.

If the referee was in such fear of his well-being or the general health of his fellow officials or the teams that he felt he had to take such an action, then he probably should not have restarted play in the first place and terminated the match right then and there.


MISCONDUCT PRIOR TO THE START OF PLAY [LAW 5; LAW 8; LAW 18]
Your question:
Tricky referee question: The match has not started yet.  The white team wins the referee toss of the coin and elects to defend the south goal. Both teams are now on the field ready to go but the blue team refuses to kick the ball to begin play. How do you proceed? I don’t think a caution or dismissal can be issued because the match has not started. Do you wait the maximum allotted time to start the match and then decide to abandon the match? That was the best I had. The match ends in a draw?

USSF answer (April 23, 2004):
Actually, the team that wins the toss of the coin, which does not have to be taken by the referee, can elect only to attack a particular goal, not defend a particular goal. It all ends up the same, but the Law reads as stated here.

If the blue team refuses to begin play, the referee must exercise tact and imagination to encourage them to take the kick. If they will not, the referee notifies both teams that the game is abandoned and submits a full report on the matter to the appropriate authorities.

Another, more hard-nosed solution would be to pick out a player and caution for unsporting behavior. The referee’s authority begins upon arrival at the field, so this is perfectly legal. If the coach is smart (this is already questionable given the scenario you experienced), he or she would forestall the possibility of misconduct by simply refusing to field the minimum number of players.


LATE SEND-OFF FOR SECOND CAUTION [LAW 5; LAW 12]
Your question:
Player A1 receives a yellow card during the first half. Toward the middle of the second half, the referee again gives player A1 a yellow card, but the ref does not recognize that this was the same player and that A1 should be disqualified and the team play short. So play goes on with both teams at full strength. Ten minutes later, Team A scores a goal, whereupon, before play is resumed, the captain of Team B points out to the referee that Team A should have been playing short. Player A1 did not participate in the scoring of the goal. How does the ref handle the situation? Does the goal count or not? What is the restart? Are players sent off? Are additional cards administered? In a second case, Player A1 was the one who scored the goal. What are the correct calls in this case?

USSF answer (April 22, 2004):
You may have missed one of our answers of April 10, 2004. It should answer your question about what the referee should do regarding a missed send-off for second caution:
QUOTE
The referee’s right to display a red card and send off a player who should have been sent off for a second caution in a game is sacrosanct. In this case ATR 5.14 would apply (see below) and the red card may be shown and the player sent from the field even if play has been (incorrectly) restarted.

As we responded to a question just about a year ago (April 3, 2003), if the refereeing crew recognizes, even after a substantial amount of time has passed‹in that case 20 minutes, at the halftime break‹that a player received a second caution and should have been sent off, the referee may then administer the send-off and red card as soon as is feasible.
END OF QUOTE

As to the remaining questions:
A player who has not been sent off at the proper time is functionally equivalent to an “extra” player. The referee should apply the same principles used when a team is discovered to have a twelfth player on the field immediately after it scored a goal. If discovered prior to the kick-off, the goal is cancelled, the “extra” player is removed, cards shown as needed, and play resumes with a goal kick. If not discovered until after the kick-off restart, the goal stands and the player is removed in accordance with the Laws of the Game.

In any event, the referee must send a detailed report of the matter to the appropriate authorities.


UPHOLD THE LAW [LAW 14; LAW 18]
Your question:
Law 14 states that “the defending goalkeeper remains on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked”.

My question is: More experienced goalkeepers will often be perched on the front part of their feet and they may not have contact with the goal line on the ground, but have the back part of their feet hovering above the line. Would it be improper to allow the GK to defend from this position if in the opinion of the referee, (s)he did not gain an advantage from being in this position?

This is obviously irrelevant if the PK is successfully made, but if the GK jumps to the right directly along the line and stops the kick, then there is no advantage gained by having feet above the line as opposed to on the line. If the GK goes forward towards the kicker and successfully defends the ball, than they may have gained an advantage and would need to re-take the kick.

USSF answer (April 22, 2004):
It is not the job of the referee to allow the goalkeeper any advantage at a penalty kick. The obvious intent of the Law is that the goalkeeper remain ON the goal line, not poised on his toes ahead of the line. As you state, it makes no difference if the ball goes into the goal, but it does indeed make a difference if the goalkeeper is able to defend against it. Let’s remember why the penalty kick was awarded: A member of the goalkeeper’s team committed a foul against an opponent within the penalty area.


CARRYING THE BALL [LAW 12]
Your question:
In a recent game I saw the following occur and was wondering what the proper procedure would be. The Home team had to wear pennies because of a color conflict, during the course of the game, the ball bounced up into the pennie and became trapped between the pennie & Jersey. The player was on the run when this occurred and carried the ball for at least ten yards before it became free.

USSF answer (April 22, 2004):
It’s nice that someone has actually seen one of the oldest “chestnuts” (if you will pardon the expression) in the world of soccer. The correct answer is exactly as it would be for jerseys, turbans, or skirts. Before blowing the whistle immediately to stop play, the referee should hesitate a moment or two to see if the player decides to halt and take care of the situation. If that happens, then the referee will simply stop play, get the ball removed, and restart with a dropped ball. This applies to an accidental situation, analogous to an accidental case of handling.

The fact that a player may benefit from the ball becoming trapped in his or her clothing does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement unless the player takes subsequent action to retain the ball once it is lodged in the uniform. However, in that case, if the player continues his progress down the field with the ball inside the pennie and jersey (or on his turban or in his jersey or in her skirt), the occurrence is clearly no longer an accident; the referee stops play; cautions the player for unsporting behavior, and restarts with an indirect free kick for the opposing team.

Still thinking along those lines, we wonder how the player could have moved at least 30 feet, even on the run, without being aware of what was happening or stopping to take care of it.


MOVING THE CORNER FLAG [LAW 1; LAW 17]
Your question:
We had a situation where a player moved the flag before taking the corner kick. All of our referees know this is an infringment of law 17, but what is the sanction?

USSF answer (April 20, 2004):
Actually, it is an infringement of Law 1, The Field of Play, as well as of Law 17, The Corner Kick. You will find the reference in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”: “1.6 NO PLAYER MODIFICATIONS TO THE FIELD “Goalkeepers or other players may not make unauthorized marks on the field of play. The player who makes such marks or alterations on the field to gain an unfair advantage may be cautioned for unsporting behavior. Players may return bent or leaning corner flags to the upright position, but they may not bend or lean them away from the upright position to take a corner kick, nor may the corner flag be removed for any reason.”

The punishment is a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior. The kick may still be taken.


PREVENTING OPPONENTS FROM GETTING TO THE BALL [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I was refereeing a match this weekend, before the game there was severe lightning and thunder which delayed the start of the match. While we were waiting in the field house one of the parents sought us out and asked us a question, that I wasn’t quite sure how to answer. She said that the day before her daughters team played in a match and their opponents went ahead 2-1 with 3 minutes remaining in the game. At that point everytime the leading team got a throw in, they would send 7 players over to the touch line and would create a semi-circle sourrounding the player taking the throw. The thrower would send the ball to the feet of her teammates in the semi circle and they would all stand there with the ball in the middle of them so as to not allow the opponents to play the ball. She asked me if this was legal or if it was obstruction.

I told her I wasn’t sure. I explained to her that impedeing the progress of an opponent can only occur if the player who’s impedeing is not within playing distance of the ball. In my mind I could envision a circle of players tight enough that they could all possible play or kick the ball, so I didn’t know if that tactic was Illegal or not under the LOTG. Perhaps this would be a form of dangerous play, as the only real or fair way the opponents could challenge for the ball would be to basically kick at the opponents heals which would also be a foul on the losing side. Given the very vague description of the tactic used here, would do you think is the correct action for the referee to take, if any?

USSF answer (April 20, 2004):
We are not sure what kind of coach would teach a tactic like this, as it seems totally counterproductive to have so many players in one spot. The referee can and should do nothing. However, there is a remedy: There is nothing to prohibit a player from leaving the field of play during the course of play if the presence of an opponent prevents her from getting to the ball to play it. (We have published this several times before; e. g., the item of April 25, above.)


INAPPROPRIATE REFEREE BEHAVIOR [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
Is it legal to yell, literaly, yell unprofessionaly to a soccer player. I admit I pushed a girl, but she pushed me first. I let the first one go without pushing, but the second I had to defind for myself. He gave me a warning politely at first. Than the girl pushed me down, again. Once agian she pushed me. I was trying to protect myself from getting hurt this time and we colided. The ref than yelled at me that this is the second retaliate you have done! We will not tolerate this kind of behavior!

I apologized and he said don’t take that kind of tone with me! Than some of the fans started to stick up for me than he sent a fan out of the stands. He supposidley did this because the fan was being too rowdy. The reason the fan was rowdy was because the ref told a player that was really hurt to get up and not pretend that she was hurt. Than the fan told him that he had gone too far, by letting a player get hurt badly. Than he also gave the hurt player a yellow card for nothing. I know for a fact that some of the things he did must have been illigal. It is unfair to do this to the players.

USSF answer (April 16, 2004):
We agree that the behavior and player-management style of the referee seem to be poor, but it also seems as if you may have contributed to the problem by your repeated retaliation. One of the first lessons the good soccer player learns is to take the lumps dished out by the opponents and get on with the game‹the best revenge comes from winning the game through skill and determination.

Fans have every right to express their opinion. Sometimes it helps, but not very often. Of course it is not proper to yell at players. Referees have bad days, just like players. We all have to work through them as best we can.


TAUNTING [LAW 5; LAW 12]
Your question:
I was center for a U-16 girls match. Team A had just scored and was now ahead by two goals with about ten minutes left to play. Team B had placed the ball in the center and was ready to restart the game. A player from team A was walking back through the center circle. The player from team B who was waiting to restart the game had her back toward me. I am sure that she wanted to restart as quickly as possible, but I was just going to allow for the stoppage and add time and did not foresee what the future would bring. I had more outside the center circle and was also waiting for the player from team A to get into position. The two players must have exchanged some words that I could not hear and then the player from team B cursed the player from team A. I heard the cursing and sent the player from team B off. I had not heard or seen a taunt, but I was sure that one must have occurred. Should I have given a yellow card to the team A player for unsporting behavior?

USSF answer (April 16, 2004):
In actual fact, the only thing the referee can punish is something personally seen or heard by the referee or one of the assistant referees or the fourth official. However, given the circumstances of the game, it would have been a reasonable inference that the opposing player had caused the player on team B to curse at her. Considering your own feeling that the team A player had caused the outburst, why did you not practice selective hearing, an excellent tool for referees in every situation?

In addition, given what you inferred from the circumstances, a caution to the team A player for delaying the restart of play might have been worth considering. In general, we need to remember as referees that, when punishing “retaliation,” it is desirable whenever possible to also deal with what was being retaliated against‹and usually to card the first behavior before carding the retaliation.


DROOPY DRAWERS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I have noticed some boys wearing their shorts pulled so far down that if they didnt have shirts, 60% of their underwear would be showing. They continually pull their shorts down. It may be the style in school but on the field it appears disrepectful! Your thoughts on this during pregame inspections?

USSF answer (April 15, 2004):
Custom, tradition, and safety require that players keep their shirts tucked in and their socks pulled up and generally maintain a professional appearance. The intelligent referee will allow players to wear their shorts as they like, as long as they do not present an insult to common decency or a danger to any player.


WHOLESALE CHANGE OF UNIFORMS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
U14 boys game. Before game coach of one team tells ref he plans on having his team change uniforms at half time.No problem with conflicting colors. Ref says NO. You have to play with the uniform you start with. Coach says – ref last week let us do it, and, where in the rules does it say we can’t. Ref did not allow it, coach filed protest and I was asked for my input.

My first response was – I see no reason why it should not be allowed. After some discussion with protest committee we considered it might be unsporting. Opponents have played a half looking at a “blue” team now have a “gold” team to watch out for.

Is this a tactical move? Is it allowed?

USSF answer (April 12, 2004):
This would seem to be a tactical move, designed to confuse the opponents. Traditionally–and a lot of the Law is strictly tradition–the team must wear its uniform for the entire game, without making any changes. This is the sort of thing that would be regarded as “bringing the game into disrepute” by turning it into a spectacle. This sort of infringement will fall under “Law 18,” common sense. It is obviously a move to confuse, demoralize, and take advantage of the opponents and serves no useful purpose for the good of the game.

The old excuse that “the referee last week let us do it” means nothing. It means simply that the referee last week didn’t want to rock the boat–and that this week’s referee had a firm grasp on reality. He simply followed the road of soccer tradition, which is always the correct one.


INADVERTENT WHISTLE? AIN’T NO SUCH THING! [LAW 18]
Your question:
An attacker was in an offside position but never participated in the play. He was not interfering with the keeper. A shot was taken from near the top of the penalty box and went in. The problem was that the R blew his whistle after the shot but just before the ball went in. The AR did not signal offside. The keeper appeared unaffected by the whistle. The coach of the defense wasn’t! We allowed the goal. The R later admitted that he anticipated that the offside player was about to participate, but quickly realized he did not so there should be no offside call. Please comment on whether there is such a thing as an ‘inadvertant whistle’ or if the whistle should have ‘killed’ the action so that the goal should have been desallowed?

USSF answer (April 10, 2004):
Whistle blows, game is stopped. No goal. Restart with indirect free kick for the defending team because of the “offside.”

In fact, the game stops when the referee DECIDES to blow the whistle. The referee must then eat the whistle and the error in judgment. Ketchup or other condiments allowed.


BELATED SEND-OFF OKAY [LAW 12]
Your question:
In a recent U16 Classic Division One club match the center referee carded (yellow) a midfielder for a violation in the early part of the first half. It was clear he carded No. 7. In the 30th minute, the referee card again stopped play and card a midfielder (yellow) it appear to be the same midfielder but it was not clear to whom he assigned the yellow card. It appeared to me he had carded No. 9. The first half ended without further incidence. Play continued for another ten minutes until the half concluded. At the beginning of the second half, the referee calls No. 7 to the center of the field prior to the restart of the match and shows No. 7 a red card. Did the referee act according the rules? Can he correct his apparent mistake later in the match? Is there any legal recourse to challenge the red card? The player must obviously forgo the next match!

USSF answer (April 10, 2004):
The referee’s right to display a red card and send off a player who should have been sent off for a second caution in a game is sacrosanct. In this case ATR 5.14 would apply and the red card may be shown and the player sent from the field even if play has been (incorrectly) restarted.

As we responded to a question just about a year ago (April 3, 2003), if the refereeing crew recognizes, even after a substantial amount of time has passed–in that case 20 minutes, at the halftime break–that a player received a second caution and should have been sent off, the referee may then administer the send-off and red card as soon as is feasible.


POSITIONING OF ASSISTANT REFEREE AT PENALTY KICKS [MECHANICS]
Your question:
Over the years, I have been taught to position myself behind the Corner Flag, looking down the Goal Line, rather than the prescribed position at the intersection of the Penalty Area Line and the Goal Line. The rationale was this position gave the appropriate view of ball over goal line, goalkeeper movement and did not place the Assistant Referee on the field of play and, potentially in the midst of active play, while attempting to return to the appropriate offside position.

What is the advantage of the position at the intersection of the Penalty Area Line and the Goal Line, and is there any discussion about changing to the position at the corner flag?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
The correct position for assistant referees (ARs) on penalty kicks is delineated in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials,” which can be downloaded from this URL: http://www.ussoccer.com/templates/includes/services/referees/pdfs/GuidetoProcedures.pdf

The AR is encouraged to enter the field, when necessary, and upon direction of the referee. See Law 6:
Assistance
The ARs also assist the referee to control the match in accordance with the Laws of the Game. In particular, they may enter the field of play to help control the 9.15m distance.

Being nearer to the penalty kick allows the AR to help control the match, observe the goalkeeper, and other duties as assigned by the referee. Being nearer to the goal than the corner flag at a penalty kick increases the ability of the AR to provide critical information to the referee regarding whether a goal was scored– given the circumstances of the penalty kick, the chances are greater that a cunning goalkeeper might attempt to hide the scoring of a goal by quickly and surreptitiously pulling the ball back onto the field.

There is absolutely no discussion about changing the AR’s position at the penalty kick to the area of the corner flag. Please bring this information to the attention of those who have taught you incorrectly over the years.


HEADGEAR [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I ran across a player last Sat that had purchased headgear that was designed to make heading the ball more comfortable. It was soft and had extra padding in the forehead area.

Is this kind of gear to be allowed? If yes. Then what about a player that wants to wear a skullcap for the same purpose?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
Here is an answer from last year. Nothing has changed since that time.
USSF answer (July 16, 2003):
The United States Soccer Federation does not take a position one way or another on padded headgear. Such headgear is not part of the player’s required uniform and equipment. The referee is the sole judge of the permissibility of these items, which must meet the requirement in Law 3 that it not be dangerous to any player.

You can find most recent the position paper regarding the issue of equipment on this and other USSF-affiliated websites. You may also have noticed the face masks — not helmets — worn by one or two Korean and Japanese players during World Cup 2002. The use of those face masks was not questioned at any time by the referees or the administration.


MISINTERPRETATION OF THE LAWS [LAW 11; LAW 18]
Your question:
[NOTE: See item of 6 April 2004, in the archives.]
In a match USYSA U14 girls. Team A attacker dribbles ball into attacking 1/3 of Team B field. Team A striker loses possession of the ball to Team B defender. Team B defender starts the attack up the field by dribbling the ball towards Team A defending 1/2 of the field. Team A striker turns and watches Team B attack. Team A striker comes back to her defending 1/3 of the field and foot tackles the ball and clears it free from Team B and Team A recovers possession in defending 1/3 of Team A field. Center Referee calls offside on Team A striker and award a direct kick in Team A defending 1/3 of the field. I agree Team A striker was in offside position when she lost possession of the ball and Team B defenders pushed up into Team A defending 1/2 of the field putting Team A striker in the offside position. But I never heard of a offside called in the defending 1/2 of the field.

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
Nor has anyone else but this referee. Not only may a player not be considered in an offside position in her own half of the field, she may not be called offside there–unless she was in the opposing team’s half of the field when one of her teammates played the ball and she was able to become involved in play there. Now we only have to figure out why the referee gave a direct free kick against her for this mythical offside; the correct restart if she had been offside would have been an indirect free kick.


WHAT’S THE CORRECT RESTART? [LAW 18]
Your question:
After a White player in a youth match has legally restarted play, he plays the ball with his foot before anyone else touches the ball. The referee stops play for second touch and then sees an AR signaling. After the restart, but before the whistle, the opponents performed an illegal substitution (player off, sub on). The referee cautions the two opponents. What is the correct restart? IFK to the Whites (player leaving FOP w/o permission)? Or IFK to the opponents (second touch)?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
The entire scenario is a bit unclear, as there are not enough details as to who did what when.

Given the lack of details to make a case for sequential infringements, we must rely on what we have: Why did the referee stop play? For the illegal second touch. As both infringements by the opposing team are cautionable offenses and did not involve a foul, the referee is not obliged to stop play for either of them and can wait until the next opportunity–which he did–namely, the second-touch violation by White.

Referee action: Caution Black player, caution Black sub; indirect free kick restart for Black where White committed the second-touch violation.


PLEASE DO NOT INVENT YOUR OWN LAWS OF THE GAME [LAW 15]
Your question:
Whereas Law 15 does not state that excessive spin is wrong, traditionally it has been interpreted that excessive spin is an indication an improper advantage is trying to be gained with the throw. The understanding was that a throw in was merely for restarting play and was not intended to become an attacking capability. However, I rarely see the law interpreted this way and it is being stretched to where throw ins have come to resemble a forward pass in American footbal. Is there an offical guidance on this?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
Yes, there is official guidance. You will find it in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.” You can download it from the referee page on the ussoccer.com web site. Here is the guidance from the Advice to Referees:

QUOTE
15.3 PROPERLY TAKEN THROW-IN
A throw-in must be performed while the thrower is facing the field, but the ball may be thrown into the field in any direction. Law 15 states that the thrower “delivers the ball from behind and over his head.” This phrase does not mean that the ball must leave the hands from an overhead position. A natural throwing movement starting from behind and over the head will usually result in the ball leaving the hands when they are in front of the vertical plane of the body. The throwing movement must be continued to the point of release. A throw-in directed straight downward (often referred to as a “spike”) has traditionally been regarded as not correctly performed; if, in the opinion of the referee such a throw-in was incorrectly performed, the restart should be awarded to the opposing team. There is no requirement in Law 15 prohibiting spin or rotational movement. Referees must judge the correctness of the throw-in solely on the basis of Law 15.

The acrobatic or “flip” throw-in is not by itself an infringement so long as it is performed in a manner which meets the requirements of Law 15.

A player who lacks the normal use of one or both hands may nevertheless perform a legal throw-in provided the ball is delivered over the head and provided all other requirements of Law 15 are observed.
END OF QUOTE

Please read also Advice 15.5:
15.5 TRIFLING INFRINGEMENTS OF LAW 15
Referees are reminded that the primary function of the throw-in is to put the ball back into play as quickly as possible. At competitive levels of play, therefore, apparent technical infringements of Law 15 should often be deemed trifling or doubtful so long as an advantage is not obtained by the team performing the throw-in and the restart occurs with little or no delay.


WHO’S PLAYING DANGEROUSLY? [LAW 12]
Your question:
An attacking player with control of the ball makes a move to the right with the ball. At the same moment, the defended attempts to stop to adjust to the move of the attacker and slips, going feet first to the ground. The attacker attempts to quickly shoot the ball. The ball hits the defender (now lying on his side after falling) in the stomach area and rebounds 6 – 12 inches from his stomach. the attacker then straddles the defender on the ground to make contact or control of the ball. The defender attempting to stand is unable due to the attacking player still straddling the defender on the ground. After several whacks at the ball the ball is lodged closer to the defenders body. A whistle blows and a delay of game is called on the defender lying on the ground. a free kick is awarded the attacking team.

Is this the right call? does not the defender have the right to attempt to stand although he is essentially being held down by the attacking player stradding him.
Is the attempt to stand along with the inability to stand due to the attacking player standing over him taken into account.
Is the attacking player(s) whacking at the ball exhibiting dangerous play?

Which is the right call?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
If the defender on the ground has been prevented from rising by an opponent, it would not be correct to call a foul on the “grounded” player for playing dangerously. If the player who is straddling the player on the ground is simultaneously “whacking at the ball,” then that player is the one who should be called for playing dangerously–unless you decide the player is holding the opponent on the ground, which would be a direct free kick for the team of the player on the ground. (We won’t mention the possibility of a caution for unsporting behavior for the “whacking.”)


SEQUENTIAL INFRINGEMENTS [LAW 12]
Your question:
If someone gets punched in the face during a game and the punched person grabs the arm of the puncher, should a penalty kick be awarded to the team of the puncher?

USSF answer (April 8, 2004):
A penalty kick would be awarded to the team of the puncher only if the punch occurs in the opposing team’s penalty area.

That, of course, does not address the subsequent “grabbing” by the player who was punched. Depending on game circumstances, that might merit a caution to the player who did the grabbing. The grabbing cannot be a foul because what is described is a sequential series of infringements and the striking occurred first, so that is when play stopped. Because play was stopped, even if the whistle had not been blown, the grabbing can be only misconduct.


COACHING DURING THE GAME [LAW 5]
Your question:
I am a house league soccer coach for a 7th and 8th grade girls team. I have been coaching soccer for over ten seasons. During that time I have consistently helped the players understand where their correct position should be on the field during games. The insructions I give are to “Drop Back” or “defenders to midfield” things like that. I will occasionally say “Shelby cover number 6” or “somebody cover number 6” or “everybody cover a player”. Last week I was warned by a sideline refereee that I was violating FIFA rules in saying these things. When I pursued the matter with our league referee director he told me that coaches are to be essentially spectators with the exception of calling for substitutions. Please help me clarify what level of direction I am permitted to give my players within the rules for a team of this age and level.

USSF answer (April 7, 2004):
Coaches are allowed and encouraged to provide their players with helpful information.

Coaches are not permitted to badger the referee or assistant referees (or club linesmen) and are not permitted to indulge in misconduct of any sort by passing out misleading information that will lead the opposing team astray. In general, occasional helpful and positive information to one’s own players is acceptable. Comments which are directed at opponents; are negative, disparaging, or distracting; undermine the authority of the officials; or are so frequent as to constitute choreographing every move of the players are not acceptable and may result in the coach being warned about his behavior or even ordered from the field for behaving irresponsibly. In general, less and less needs to be said by coaches as the experience and skill level of the teams increase.

The league should take this into account in training its coaches so that they understand clearly the difference between tactical instruction and irresponsible behavior.


MISINTERPRETATION OF THE LAWS [LAW 18]
Your question:
Can you please give me a concise definition of “Misinterpretation of the Laws of the Game”?

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
“Misinterpretation of the Laws” means that a referee has totally misread and misapplied the Law, the Q&A, and the Additional Instructions, as well as the USSF Advice to Referees.

Example: Giving an offside for a player who has not left his own half of the field of play, simply because there was only one opponent between him and the opposing goal.

Example: Giving a direct free kick for the offense described above.

Both of these were in a question that came in this week–from the assistant referee on the game.


SIGNALS BY PLAYERS; HOLDING [LAW 18; LAW 12]
Your question:
It’s soccer time again, and I have questions…
1) Quite often, and at all levels, the player taking the corner kick raises his hand upright just before executing the kick. What is the significance of this action and is it required?
2) A Team A attacker receives an on-side pass in the penalty area just above the PK marker, while surrounded by 3 Team B defenders. As the same attacker (from Team A) is about to shoot on goal he is held at the waist from behind by one of the Team B attackers. The attacker still manages to get a shot off and the ball enters the net. Is this an Advantage goal or a PK? What if the ball went straight out of touch, would that change anything?

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
1) The raised hand is a signal to the kicker’s team that he is about to kick. You will have to check with the player himself to determine the signal’s true significance and whether or not it is required.

2) Why would a referee take away a goal scored from a trifling foul and award a penalty kick? Award the advantage, if truly necessary, and score the goal.

If, following the holding, the kicker’s shot goes awry and over the goal line, the referee will have to judge whether or not the holding was significant enough to be called a foul. If it was, then the correct restart is a penalty kick.


WAS IT A FOUL? INTENT VS. RESULT [LAW 12]
Your question:
I would like to get your comments concerning a situation that occurred during a U16 girls game in which I was the referee. During the pace of the game the ball was volleyed from near midfield toward one of the goals. The attacking team’s forward and opponent’s defender bolted side by side toward the bouncing ball. As they raced past the the top of the 18 the attacker gained a stride and was able to get a partial foot on the bounding ball which the keeper caught. A split second afterwards the defender’s extended leg and the offensive player’s feet got tangled and the players went down. To the dismay of the attacking team’s coach I did not call for a PK, his protest was that a foul in the PA area is a foul and a PK should be awarded. My position is this: both players are fairly and cleanly challenging for the ball. The attacker gained a stride which allowed her to get the shot off. The defender’s action precipitated the tangle up and causing both players to go down however the action was not reckless or use of excessive force. To some it may be considered careless however the total situation needs to be ascertained. Would the outcome (attacker getting the shot off and keeper catching the ball) have been the same if the tangle up (trip according to the coach) not occurred? In my opinion the answer is yes, and along with the defender’s trip being more unintentional than purposeful and occurring after the shot was taken I decided to not call the foul. A chat with the defender about being more careful sufficed.

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
An interesting question and one that we have answered before. It is, of course, your opinion as referee that determines whether or not a foul has occurred. Without wishing to seem to be insulting you–particularly as your decision may well have been correct in the end–your opinion would seem to have been based on erroneous reasoning.

We referees are no longer required to judge “intent” in an act by one player against another, but to judge the result of the act instead. However, we are allowed to distinguish between an act that is accidental and one that is deliberate.

All referees need to remember that “intent” is not an issue in deciding what is or is not a foul, regardless of age, and that something at the youngest age levels might nonetheless be considered a foul if it is determined to be careless. No age is too young to begin learning not to be careless.

For example, in the case of a player stumbling and colliding with an opponent, we would judge the act to be careless, reckless, or involving the use of excessive force–and thus a foul–only if the player had already begun to trip (or attempt to trip), push, kick (or attempt to kick), strike (or attempt to strike), jump at or charge his opponent. If the player was still merely pursuing the opponent and happened to stumble and fall, colliding with the opponent on the way down, there has been no foul, as the act was simply accidental or inadvertent.

Only you, as the referee on the spot, can tell us whether this is in fact what happened.


DELIBERATE PASS TO THE GOALKEEPER [LAW 12]
Your question:
I had a discussion with the referees at my last game (FIFA/US Soccer Laws). I was standing at the 6 yard line as a defender trying to clear the ball out. It was extremely windy and I miskicked the ball. It glanced off my shin into the air and the wind picked it up and pushed it back towards our goalkeeper. He then picked it up and threw the ball about 30 yards up the field towards the left touchline. The AR on that side of the field then signaled the center referee. The center referee stopped play (while the ball was in play by the touchline). He consulted with the AR, told him that he did not think the pass was intentional and there was no penalty/indirect kick to be awarded. The center referee then restarted the game with a drop ball at the 6-yard line (where the goalie had handled the ball). I think the center referee made the correct call, but restarted the ball improperly. I have 3 questions.

1) The law states it is unlawful for the goalkeeper in his own penalty area to handle the ball after being deliberately kicked by a teammate. Does this mean that even on a miskick, where a player meant to kick the ball (i.e. a bad clear), just not to the goalie, would count here? Could the goalie pick this ball up on a miskick.

2) I agree that the game should have been restarted with a drop ball, but shouldn’t it have been restarted where the ball was when the referee stopped play?

3) How do the words intentionally and deliberately play out here?

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
1. The goalkeeper may certainly handle the ball when it has been clearly misdirected by a teammate. (An example might be a player trying to clear the ball and slicing it or having it caught and carried back by the wind, so that it goes back to the goalkeeper.) Referees should punish such handling only when, in the opinion of the referee, the pass was deliberate.

2. The ball should have been dropped at the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.

3. The word “intentionally” does not occur in the Laws of the Game. (However, the word “intent” does occur once, in the Additional Instructions at the end of the book, where referees are instructed to caution players who delay the restart of play by certain tactics.) The word “deliberately” means that the player did what he or she planned to do.


LET THE PLAYER IN, REFEREE! [LAW 3; LAW 18]
Your question:
One of my players left the field when I sent in substitutes, 5 went in 6 came off. I notified the AR and wanted to send him in, I was told that I had to wait until a normal substitution situation , I thought I needed to get the Refs. Ok and he could enter at any time after the ref waved him in. I waited 6 minutes till he went in playing a man down. Please advise the proper procedure for me.

USSF answer (April 6, 2004):
In this case, your player should be allowed to enter at any time, whether play is stopped or not, but only with the referee’s permission. Because this is not a substitution, this would apply even under the rules of a competition that specifies that a substitute may enter only at particular times.


“SERIOUS INJURY” TURNS OUT TO BE SIMULATION [LAW 5; LAW 12]
Your question:
Play is on when you see, off to the right, a player go down and writhing in pain. You didn’t see any foul but due to concern of player appearing to be seriously injured you stop play. Once you stop play, he amazingly jumps up and runs to where you are. He earns himself a caution for exaggerating the injury. Do you restart with dropped ball from place ball was when you stopped play for the injury? Or do you view the misconduct as occurring simultaneously and punish this with a restart of an IFK from where the player was?

USSF answer (April 5, 2004):
When play is stopped for a player who is seriously injured, the normal restart would be a dropped ball from the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play (taking into consideration the special circumstances described in Law 8). However, if the “serious injury” turns out to be simulation, the referee cautions the player for unsporting behavior and shows the yellow card. The restart in this case is indirect free kick from the place where the infringement occurred (taking into consideration the special circumstances described in Law 8).


REFEREES AND TOBACCO [LAW 18; Q&A]
Your question:
Please forgive me if I’m only supposed to send questions about the laws of the game to askareferee@ussoccer.org but I did not know who else to ask.

Where could I find a bylaw or rule on the USSF web site which says use of tobacco by USSF referees is not allowed?

Someone has asked me for documentation and while I remember my referee instructor mentioning this, I do not remember where he said the rule could be found.

USSF answer (April 5, 2004):
You will not find this restriction in the Laws of the Game, nor anywhere else. However, you will find in the International Football Association’s (IFAB) Questions and Answers to the Laws of the Game that a player may not use tobacco during a match. (Law 12, Q&A 3) The Q&A does not say tobacco, but does say “lights a cigarette.” The connection is clear and definite.

As defined in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” “during a match” includes:
(a) the period of time immediately prior to the start of play during which players and substitutes are physically on the field warming up, stretching, or otherwise preparing for the match;
(b) any periods in which play is temporarily stopped;
(c) half time or similar breaks in play;
(d) required overtime periods;
(e) kicks from the penalty mark if this procedure is used in case a winner must be determined; and
(f) the period of time immediately following the end of play during which the players and substitutes are physically on the field but in the process of exiting.

It is a tenet of the National Program for Referee Development that a referee should do nothing in the vicinity of the field that he or she would not allow a player to do. Thus the use of tobacco in any form would be a violation of the referee’s compact with the United States Soccer Federation.


KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF THE PLAYERS! [LAW 18]
Your question:
I have a question about physical contact between a referee and a youth player that is initiated by the referee. There are obviously extremes on both ends; the acceptable being a handshake after a game, the unacceptable being a referee striking a player. The physical contact I am not sure about is that in between. At a recent game I witnessed the referee pull a player aside by grabbing the player’s wrist. Another incident occurred shortly after in the game where the ref put his hands on another players shoulders while talking to the boy. The ref said that the player claimed to have something in his eye and he was checking, but the appearance at the time was more confrontational. The age of the players in this game was 12/13.

I am personally a referee myself and a parent of two boys who play competitive soccer. When I ref a game I make a conscious decision not to make any type of intentional contact with the players other than to shake hands after a game and then only when initiated by the player. As a parent I do not want a referee to use physical force, threats of force, or even any unnecessary physical contact with my boys. At the same time, I have never seen any type of real guidelines on what could be considered appropriate or inappropriate contact initiated by a referee with a player and only go by my own feelings on the issue. I do understand that this is a very complicated issue with different answers based on the situation, the age and sex of the referee, the players, and even the level of the match, so I am trying to find out what is considered acceptable.

USSF answer (April 5, 2004):
No referee should ever lay hands on any player for any reason other than to help a player in need of assistance to rise from the ground. Some referees will attempt to break up fights, but that is not recommended.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION/KICKING THE ‘KEEPER [LAW 12]
Your question:
Further to your goalkeeper safety answer on 12-Feb-04, in a match on 27-Mar-04 the opponents goalkeeper in his penalty area tried to tackle the ball (fairly) from an attacker with both feet. The keeper wound up on the ground with the ball under and between his legs. When the attacker tried to kick it out, the referee awarded a DFK to the defenders and called it “in the keeper’s possession.” The attacker’s foot made contact with the ball but not the keeper. The keeper was not touching the ball with his hands or arms.

The attacker’s coach objected to this call because keeper possession is defined as “contact with hands or arms.” I told the coach the correct call should be dangerous play on the attacker and the ball (IFK) should still be awarded to the defenders. It still didn’t seem fair play by the keeper. Could the call have been anything else – to award the ball to the attackers?

USSF answer (April 2, 2004):
What is fair to one may not seem fair to another. Was the goalkeeper given a chance to get up and play the ball properly? If so, but the ‘keeper chose not to do so, then the ‘keeper should be called for playing in a dangerous manner and the ‘keeper’s team should be penalized by the indirect free kick for the opponents. If the goalkeeper had no clear chance to stand and play the ball properly, then the correct call, if not the correct words by the referee, would be kicking (or attempting to kick) by the player on the opposing team, and the goalkeeper’s team would be awarded a direct free kick. (Under some circumstances, the referee might consider a send-off for serious foul play.)


DROPPED BALL; MISCONDUCT AT A PENALTY KICK [LAW 8; LAW 14]
Your question:
1. During a “drop ball” restart, one team elected not to participate. The player on the team that did, kicked the ball twice when the ball was dropped. There is nothing in the rules stating that this is ok or not so what’s the call? Is the player entitled to kick the ball twice? 2. During a penalty kick the defending players all yelled in an un sports man like manner just as the opposing player was about to kick the ball and thereby distracting that player. The ball did not go in. What should be the call? If it is un sports man like and every player was involved, who should be cautioned and what should the restart be? Should the player attempting the kick be allowed another chance?

These were youth games- U14. I was the ref so I wanted to see if I made the correct call. I’ve check the various ref manuals and could not find a reference for these events.

USSF answer (April 2, 2004):
1. At a dropped ball, the ball is in play the moment it hits the ground. Because he or she did not put it into play, there is no reason to punish a player for playing the ball twice. The two-touch limitation applies only to restarts performed by a player.

2. Follow the instructions in Law 14: Allow the kick to be taken. If it enters the goal, score the goal. If the ball does not enter the goal, retake the penalty kick. For game management purposes, this is not a situation in which you would simply warn the opposing player(s). Therefore, do not retake the kick until you have cautioned at least one of the players on the opposing team for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. Your choice as to which player(s) to caution, but it might be wise to select a player who has not previously been cautioned.


DECISION MAKING [LAW 18]
Your question:
An offensive player receives the ball near the penalty spot, he has 2 defenders and the goalie in front of him, he dribbles past the first defender, cuts right and dribbles past the second defender, he then nears the post, changes the ball from one foot to the other as the goalie dives to block the shot, the keeper knocks the off ball foot with his reach,disbalancing the shot, the shot goes wide, penalty kick is awarded. QUESTION. Is this a red cardable, last man situation?

USSF answer (March 23, 2004):
That is a problem that can be resolved only by the referee on the spot, the only person who has seen what has gone on and the only person qualified to judge. Any and all situations regarding the possible denial of a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity are, in the final analysis, decided by the referee on this basis. No one can make this decision from the comfort of a computer, standing on the sidelines as a spectator, or from a seat in the stands or in front of the television set. As a matter of fact, the same could be said of any decision for a foul or misconduct.


GOALKEEPER HANDLES BALL OUTSIDE OWN PENALTY AREA [LAW 12]
Your question:
I had a concern about a play. The play is: The goalie comes out of his box playing it on the ground with two defenders behind him, one to his right and the other to his left. The goalie accidentally kicks it to the opposing player. The forward gets the ball and deliberately shoots towards the goal and the goalie purposely blocks it with his hands outside of the penalty area. The referee whistles for the foul,the opposing team quickly puts the ball down and shoots it towards goal and it goes in. The referee counts it as a goal and after gives the keeper a yellow card. We’ve been having this confusion for awhile now because it happened to one of our fellow refs. Is this correct? Thank You for your time; it is greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (March 21, 2004):
Unfortunately, the referee acted incorrectly in this case. If the referee believes that the goalkeeper denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball outside his penalty area, the correct punishment is to send off the goalkeeper and show him the red card. In this particular case, it is unlikely that the referee would send off the goalkeeper, as there were two defenders behind the ‘keeper when he committed his handling offense.

In any case of misconduct, if the referee fails to caution (yellow card) or send off (red card) the player immediately and the opposing team takes its free kick quickly–which it is allowed to do unless the referee stops it–then the referee may neither send off nor caution that player after play has restarted. This shows just how important it is for the referee to manage restarts effectively.


STOPPING PLAY [LAW 5; LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
The following hypothetical question was asked during a recent entry-level clinic I taught.  The more I think about it, the more my brain falls victim to paralysis of analysis.

The ball is in play under the control of the red team at the edge of the blue team’s penalty area. The Referee is well positioned on the left wing, trailing play by about 5 yards, where he can observe play and maintain eye contact with his lead AR. When the Referee sees his lead AR’s flag go up, he whistles a stoppage in play. The lead AR then points in the direction of the trail AR.

The Referee looks back to his trail AR, who has his flag raised and gives it a wave.  The referee back pedals to the trail AR to ask him what he observed. The trail AR tells the Referee that he observed the red sweeper and a blue forward exchange blows while standing near the half-way line in the center of the field. Unfortunately, the trail AR confessed that he was mostly watching the ball and did not observe who struck the first blow.

After deciding to send-off the two pugilists for violent misconduct, the Referee must now restart play. Since play was stopped for what turned out to be a penal foul (striking) he decides the restart must be a direct free kick from the point of the infraction. But, he wonders, in which direction should this free kick be taken?

The class had fun coming up with alternatives, including (1) give the free kick to the attacking team, since they had possession when play was stopped; (2) just guess which direction to call and hope you’re correct;  (3) restart with a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped; and (4) restart with a dropped ball at the point where the violent misconduct took place.

My immediate response to the class was that the Referee needed to earn his money and decide which direction play should go with a direct free kick, and that after the game he should have a very long, heart to heart talk with the trail AR.

So tell me, what is the officially correct answer?

USSF answer (March 19, 2004):
The “officially correct answer” is precisely as you stated–the referee must make a decision and stick with it under any circumstances. Restarting with a dropped ball is not an option.

In addition, it might be useful to note that there was a referee error embedded in the question: “When the Referee sees his lead AR’s flag go up, he whistles a stoppage in play.” At the point of seeing the assistant referee’s flag go up, the referee has no idea what the AR is trying to do other than gain the referee’s attention and, accordingly, stopping play THEN is incorrect. The flag straight up in the air is nothing more than a “Hey, ref!” call. The subsequent eye contact is the referee’s reply of “Yeah, what is it?” and this must then be followed by some AR action that tells the referee why the referee’s attention was wanted. In this case, the lead AR, who has mirrored the other AR’s flag, points to the trail AR, who then informs the referee that an event has occurred out of the view of the referee for which the referee would have stopped play if he had seen it. This is the correct point at which to stop play.


PREVENTING THE GOALKEEPER FROM RELEASING THE BALL [LAW 12]
Your question:
What should the referee do if a player who is outside the penalty area intentionally stops the goalkeeper from releasing the ball?

I told one of our referees here that play should be stopped, the player should be cautioned and play restarted with an indirect kick to the goalkeeper’s team. He said no because the player is outside of the penalty area. It is only when the offence occurs in the penalty area that the referee should take such action.

USSF answer (March 19, 2004):
The makers of the Laws of the Game changed the Law some years ago to prevent time wasting by the team with the ball, such as the goalkeeper standing around holding the ball. Now that a limit has been set on the time during which the goalkeeper may hold the ball, the Law expects all players to refrain from delaying or otherwise interfering with the goalkeeper’s right to release the ball into play for all players. Any interference with the movement of the goalkeeper who is trying to release the ball into play is illegal, particularly any movement to block the goalkeeper’s line of sight or motion. Interference with the release of the ball is purely a positional thing, regardless of whether the goalkeeper is moving at the time.

It makes no difference where the interfering player stands, whether inside or outside the penalty area.


TOUCH [LAW 18]
Your question:
At a recent game, a player chasing a ball across the touch line, twisted his knee. The Center Referee made a comment that the player injured himself while playing the ball into touch. I asked him isn¹t this out of touch, as the ball was leaving the field?

So my question is when a ball leaves the field over the touch line does it go out of or into touch?

USSF answer (March 19, 2004):
The term “touch” in describing the area surrounding the actual field is an old one in soccer. It goes back to the nineteenth century, when the first player getting to the ball after it left the bounds of the field could “touch” it and the ball became his to put back into play. Although that no longer applies and there are strict rules about who puts the ball back into play, depending on who last touched, played, or made contact with the ball before it left the field, the term “touch” is still used to describe the area outside the “touch lines.”

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?

USSF answer (February 23, 2004):
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. (Deliberate handling of the ball, also a foul, is committed against the opposing team, not against a particular opponent.) If any of these three requirements is not met, the action is not a foul; however, the action can still be misconduct. In this case, the action occurred off the field of play and so can only be misconduct. The keeper should be cautioned or sent from the field (yellow or red card, depending on whether the action involved violence). If the referee had stopped play solely for the keeper’s action, play would be restarted with a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the exception in Law 8 if this location was inside the goal area).


NO COMPETITION MAY MAKE A RULE CONTRARY TO THE LAWS OF THE GAME [LAW 18]
Your question:
I have a question spurred by something I saw in a tournament last year.  Here’s the situation. During a youth game a mass substitution occurs with both substitutes and players on the field at the same time. (common occurrence for youth games). A red card offense is committed by one of the switching teammates.
I understand that even though proper procedure has not been followed, the substitute becomes a player the instant he steps onto the field. If he were then found guilty of violent conduct during the substitution process, his team would play a man down. What if, after he stepped on the field and became a player, his teammate/counterpart instead committed the violent conduct prior to leaving the field?   Am I correct that this person is a substitute, and although he is ejected, his team remians at full strength?

As a practical matter, once substitutes enter the field in this manner, it’s can be very difficult to reliably identify who the “players” and substitutes” are.

This brings me to my last questions. Do you know of any leagues or competitions where the youth rules are modified such that a team would play short following a red card infraction committed on the field of play, during a substitution, regardless of whether a player or substitute committed the offense? This is being considered as a tournament rule in my area. Is such a modification acceptable for a local USSF-sanctioned youth tournament?

USSF answer (February 23, 2004):
Your intuition is correct. If the new player commits violent conduct during the substitution process or after he has already entered the field (through referee error, but with the referee’s permission), he will be sent off and shown the red card and his team will play short.

As to the former player, even though the referee did not follow the requirements of Law 3, the substitution was completed correctly. The now former player (the one who was substituted out) must be sent off for violent conduct and shown the red card. His team does not have to play short. The game restarts for the reason it had been stopped prior to the substitution.

We are not aware of any rule such as that being considered for the tournament in your area. We can only comment that such a rule would be counter to the Laws of the Game and should not be adopted.


LEAVING THE FIELD OF PLAY [LAW 11, LAW 12]
Your question:
An interesting question has come up. How does the referee interpret the law to get a fair result? Or can he?

SITUATION: A defender has stepped across the goal line to put an attacker in an offside position. Unfortunately the AR misses the misconduct and raises his flag. The referee stops play and discovers the misconduct. The defender must be cautioned.

If the caution were for Leaving, the restart would be an IFK to the attackers from where the ball was when play stopped. If the caution were for USB, the restart would be an IFK to the attackers from the place of infringement, which appears to be off the FOP — and thus the restart would have to be a DB.

My understanding is that IFAB has said that it is USB. However, USSF Advice gives the referee a choice (so it appears). 11.10 says USB while 12.28.7 says Leaving. How could (or should) the referee award an IFK to the attackers? Could the culprit ever be penalized for DOGSO even though it is an officiating error that lead to the stoppage.

USSF answer (February 23, 2004):
There is no call for a dropped ball here. The IFAB/FIFA Q&A instructs the referee to allow play to continue and only punish the unsporting behavior at the next stoppage. In the case you describe, the referee would issue the caution for unsporting behavior and show the yellow card, just as if it had been observed by referee and assistant referee during play and allowed to continue until the ball went out of play. The restart will be for whatever reason the play was stopped; i. e., goal kick, corner kick, throw-in, etc.
NOTE: The offense occurs as the player leaves the field, not once the player is already off the field. See below.

However, if the referee had stopped play solely to deal with the unsporting conduct of leaving the field in an attempt to put an attacker in an offside position, then the restart would be an indirect free kick, taken from the place where the misconduct occurred — which is where the defender left the field. The misconduct is not “off the field” (which would then require a dropped ball), but the act of bringing the game into disrepute by leaving the field to place the opponent in an offside position. The indirect free kick would be taken on the goal line at the place where the player left the field (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).


ABSOLUTELY NO INTERFERENCE ALLOWED! [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
If a coach or assistant coach of a team is not happy with the call that the line ref has made, can the coach or assitant coach request that a certifier or another ref be brought onto the field where the game is in session, who was not scheduled to ref the game to begin with? Also, can they have the certifier or another ref then stop the game and intervene the time of play when the center ref has not called for stoppage of play, so that the certifier or another ref, can train the line ref. Does this not interfere with the game, as well as affect the confidence of the line ref.?

What can I do to bring this to the attention of the right people in authority? Please advise me on this.

USSF answer (February 17, 2004):
If a coach has a problem with an official, the only recourse available is a written report to the appropriate authorities: the State Referee Administrator, the State Youth Referee Administrator, and the assignor. Nor does any other referee or assessor or instructor or assignor have any right to interfere with any game played under the auspices of the U. S. Soccer Federation.

Your recourse is the same as that available to the coach — call and then write to the appropriate authorities.


WHAT’S THE RESTART? [LAW 12]
Your question:
White team is attacking down the right wing in front of AR2. Black player is waiting to substitute, but becomes impatient and enters the field of play during live play. White team player decides that this is not fair and decides to punch the “on the fly” substitute. AR1 and 4th Official get the attention of the Referee. Referee blows the whistle. Ball is now dead on the far side of the field. Referee comes over, gets all the above information from the AR1 and 4th official. Referee issues a Yellow Card to Black Player for Misconduct for entering the field w/o permission and has the Black player return to the bench. Referee issues a Red Card to the White Player for Misconduct for Striking the Black Player. The White Player is “Sent Off” and the White Team now plays with one less man for the rest of the match. What is the correct restart?

USSF answer (February 16, 2004):
The answer will be found in the IFAB Q&A, Law 3, Q&A 13:
13. A substitute enters the field of play without having obtained the permission of the referee. While the ball is in play, an opponent punches him. What action should the referee take? The referee stops play, sends off the player guilty of violent conduct, cautions the substitute for entering the field of play without the permission of the referee and restart the game by an indirect free-kick for the team of the substitute at the place where the infringement occurred.* [The asterisk refers to the special circumstances described in Law 8.]

This is a change from the published edition, made by FIFA after the 2000 Q&A was published. The indirect free kick restart should actually be FOR the team of the substitute (the Black team; because of the violent conduct of the White Player), rather than against the Black team.


OFFSIDE CHANGES? [LAW 11]
Your question:
Recently FIFA changed the offside law and there has apparently been chaos in Europe since then. I’d like to know what kind of changes they actually made and how this rule will change the game.

USSF answer (February 16, 2004):
Whoa! There have been absolutely no changes to Law 11, but simply a restating of how the Law should be interpreted. There will be no change in the way the referee should call the offside in the United States.


SENDING OFF THE GOALKEEPER [LAW 12]
Your question:
I want to be sure of the procedure when a Keeper is ejected. Question: A field player must take over the responsibility of goal keeper when the starting keeper is ejected? Now, at the next appropriate sub situation the coach could replace this goal keeper with one from the bench?

USSF answer (February 16, 2004):
When a goalkeeper is sent off and shown the red card, he may not be replaced. A team must have a goalkeeper, so there are several possibilities for what happens next. One of the players already on the field may take over as goalkeeper. Or, provided there are substitutions remaing, the team may substitute a new goalkeeper in for one of the other players. The end result, in either case, is that the team must continue the match with one fewer player on the field.

And, as a clarification of terminology, players are not “ejected” from soccer games. They may be “sent off” or “dismissed” or even “ordered from the field,” but never “ejected.”


DISSENT OR VIOLENT CONDUCT; YOU DECIDE [LAW 12]
Your question:
If a Ref gives a yellow and the player knocks it out of your hand do you give him a red?

USSF answer (February 16, 2004):
If, in the opinion of the referee, the player’s action constitutes dissent, the referee must caution the player and shown him the yellow card, and then send off and show the player a red card for having committed a second cautionable offense. If, on the other hand, the referee believes the act to constitute violent conduct, the referee would send off the player immediately and show him the red card. Full details must be included in the referee’s match report.


WATER BREAKS FOR OFFICIALS [LAW 18]
Your question:
I have read the advice on allowing player access to water. Is there advise/suggestions to how a Referee or an AR can get water during play? I am thinking about situations when the temp is around 100 and the competition guidelines do not allow for a “water break.”

USSF answer (February 14, 2004):
The referee and assistant referee should exercise common sense and hydrate well before all games during hot weather. They should also find a sheltered place to leave a bottle of water near the field, so that they can get a drink during a natural break in play.

If all else fails, consider this: If the officials are feeling the adverse effects of heat and humidity, it is a sure bet that the players are also and thus a break for them might be in order — something that clearly comes under the referee’s responsibility for player safety.


BEADED HAIR AND OTHER ADORNMENTS [LAW 4]
Your question:
We have more and more situations in which the players are wearing “wooden beads” either tightly against the head or has part of a braided hair style.  We are trying to get the message across that these would be considered “adornment” and thus jewlelry and not allowed because of the dangerous nature of these beads to the player or their opponent.

Is there an official wording or some advise you can give me on how to approach this?  This has become mainly a cultural and age-related issue and we want to handle it in the best way possible.  I am told that these hairdos can cost upwards of $150.  My advice to coaches would be to quickly tell their players (and parents) not to spend the money during soccer season!

What is USSF’s take on this?

USSF answer (February 13, 2004):
Beads and other decorative items are not part of the required equipment for players and cannot be sanctioned for wear in competitive play. Law 4 – Player Equipment – tells us:
The basic compulsory equipment of a player is:
– a jersey or shirt
– shorts — if thermal undershorts are worn, they are of the same main color as the shorts
– stockings
– shinguards
– footwear

The referee must enforce the Laws of the Game, particularly as they apply to the safety of players. Law 4 tells us that players must not wear jewelry of any kind. There is only one permissible exception 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. Beads, as decorative items, must be considered as jewelry. They can also be dangerous, particularly at the end of braids. For these reasons, they are not permitted

If questioned by players, you simply refer them to Law 4. If they do not wish to remove their beads to conform with the Law, inform them that the only alternative to removing the beads or jewelry (or other unauthorized equipment) is not to play at all.

NOTE: 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).”


GOALKEEPER SAFETY [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
What is the rule on Goal Keeper Safety? For Example, if the the goalie has possession of the ball from a diving save. What constitutes his rights once he has made possession of the ball. And his opponents trying to kick at the supposed ball.
Thank You, from a concerned parent.

USSF answer (February 12, 2004):
The goalkeeper establishes possession with as little as one finger on the ball, provided the ball is under his control (in the opinion of the referee) and the ball has been trapped against the ground or some other surface — the ‘keeper’s other hand, the ground, or even a goalpost.

If a player attempts to kick the ball from the goalkeeper’s hands, then the referee should stop the game for the foul of attempted kicking and caution the player for unsporting behavior (and show the yellow card), restarting with a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team. If the player’s foot makes contact with the goalkeeper during this action, the referee may consider sending the player off for serious foul play and showing him the red card.

The position of goalkeeper carries with it implicit dangers of heavy contact with other players. That is an accepted fact of the game. Other than being privileged to deliberately handle the ball within his own penalty area, the goalkeeper has no more rights than any other player.


DOWNLOADING THE GUIDE TO PROCEDURES AND THE ADVICE TO REFEREES
Your question:
Where can I find the USSF publications “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials” and “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”?

USSF answer (February 11, 2004):
You can download the 2003 edition of the Guide to Procedures at this URL:
http://www.ussoccer.com/templates/includes/services/referees/pdfs/GuidetoProcedures.pdf

You can download the 2003 edition of the Advice to Referees at this URL:
http://www.ussoccer.com/templates/includes/services/referees/pdfs/Advice2003.pdf


COACH SITTING OUT SUSPENSION [ADMIN]
Your question:
When a coach is red carded and is serving his one game suspension, can he sit in the stadium and watch the game? In addition, is he allowed to coach his keeper during half time?

USSF answer (February 11, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game no coach may be shown the red card. (But check the rules of the particular competition.) The answer to the remainder of your question depends on the rules of the competition in which the coach is active. In a nutshell, please check the rules of the competition.


APPLYING THE ADVANTAGE [LAW 5]
Your question:
I would like some guidance on interpreting the concept of the “materialization” of an advantage in the Advice to Referees. It is clear in a case, for example, where a player is fouled but continues to advance, or a teammate takes immediate control of the ball and continues an attack.

In one of my games I had a situation where a player made a high, arcing pass from about forty yards out to a teammate at the top of the arc of the penalty area, marked by two opponents, in a counterattack situation and was tackled (with foul) a small fraction of a second later. In this case, if I choose to apply the advantage clause, should I consider the advantage to have materialized a) because of the fact that the pass was made (I judged that the foul did not affect the quality of the pass) whether or not the teammate receives it b) if the pass landed in a place where the teammate had a chance to settle it, or c) if the teammate actually managed to settle the ball?

The players in question are about 18 year old competitive-level players. A professional player would have had a good chance to get a shot off in this situation, but with these players, although definitely possible, I wouldn’t say it was likely. Do I consider ability level?

USSF answer (February 9, 2004):
The referee should consider the skill levels of players in any decisions made during a game, no matter what the level.

In applying advantage, it is important to remember that the advantage is not a “right” and that the referee may have reasons for not giving the advantage even if the fouled team does or could retain control of the ball. For example, violent fouls may demand a stoppage of play where the offense is clearly severe and the advantage is only questionable. It is also important to remember that the referee may invoke the advantage for a foul which includes misconduct (unless it is violent, see the previous sentence), but the referee can come back to punish the misconduct at the next stoppage of play.

In the case you put forward, the simple fact that the player passing the ball was able to get off the pass is immaterial if, based on the specific positions and skill levels of the players, there was a real question in your mind that the fouled team would in fact not recapture control of the ball. The advantage, in the opinion of the referee, must either exist in fact or be considered highly likely. It does not, however, have to be absolute. In the case of a pass down field, the referee can decide in his mind to apply advantage because the conditions are present for the team to keep or quickly regain control of the ball. If, after 2-3 seconds, it does not, then the referee can signal a stoppage of play for the original foul. If more than this amount of time passes and the team does not keep or regain control, both the advantage and the foul have passed. Don’t forget to deal with any misconduct at the proper time.


PLAYING DANGEROUSLY [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
The other day in a HS match, a player was sitting on a ball and was trying to play it. An opponent did not hesitate and tried hard to gain possession of the ball. Not surprisingly she missed and the girl on the ground was kicked hard. She got up angry and started to charge the opponent. My partner blew his whistle and did a good job of separating the players. His call was ‘dangerous play’ and the opponent was awarded an indirect free kick. The opposing coach and the sidelines objected strenuously, but things calmed down after the ruling was explained. My question: right call, considering that the opponent did not hold back? Should the call have have gone the other way and been kicking on the part of the responding player? Thank you for your input.

USSF answer (February 9, 2004):
It would seem nearly impossible to sit “on” the ball and still attempt to play it. Two possibilities come to mind: (1) If you mean that the player was on the ground near the ball and trying to play it from that position, then the answer is clear: The player who kicked her deliberately must be sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card. (2) If you mean that the player was lying on top of the ball and attempting to get up to play it, the answer is the same.

A player who has fallen is allowed to play the ball while on the ground. If a player on the ground cannot play the ball and makes no effort to get out of the way or to play the ball and then get out of the way, then the referee must decide that this player has played dangerously, stop play, and award an indirect free kick to the opposing team.

There can be no decision for “playing dangerously” if contact is made; at the moment of contact the act becomes a direct free kick foul. The call for a simple foul must be either kicking or striking (whichever is appropriate), but if the player who fouled used excessive force, then the referee has no choice but to send off the player.


WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A SENT-OFF PLAYER? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Law 12 states “A player who has been sent off must leave the vicinity of the field of play and the technical area.” We had a situation where 2 players were sent off for violent conduct and the referee told the players to “go to the parking lot.” This was an Open Rec league (players over 18 and above) Sanctioned game. The manager of the team insists that it means the immediate area of the field and technical area..ie the stands. The referee involved wants them out of sight. How do you and US Soccer define ‘vicinity’ Thank you

USSF answer (February 9, 2004):
Law 12 tells us: “A player who has been sent off must leave the vicinity of the field of play and the technical area.” That means that the player must remain out of sight and sound of the field, i. e., they may not stand or sit in the spectator area, including the seats in a stadium. That applies to the players in a league such as you describe.

However, in many circumstances, particularly involving youth players, it may not be possible to apply this requirement strictly. The primary objective of the requirement is to ensure that a player who has been sent off will no longer in any way interfere with, participate in, or otherwise be involved in subsequent play. The failure of a player who has been sent off to meet this objective cannot result in any further disciplinary action against the player by the referee but all details of any incident must be included in the game report. If this is not practical because of the age or condition of the player, the team authorities are responsible for the behavior of the player or substitute.


COMMUNICATE!!! [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In a HS game on Thursday (I know, HS) a striker was pulled down by the opposing team’s GK. There was no attempt to play the ball the striker was just wrestled to the ground. The ball actually went into the goal. I thought “a goal and a red card for the GK”. Wrong the center ref pulled the ball out of the back of the net and placed it on the penalty spot. I thought that seems a little odd. The assistant ref on the opposite side of the field started yelling at the center but the center ref refused to acknowledge him. The penalty kick was taken and missed. No card was given and the game continued. Could this have been the correct call?

USSF answer (February 9, 2004):
As you acknowledge, we cannot presume to answer questions based on high school rules. If this question were based on the Laws of the Game, the answer would be that the referee committed several grievous errors.

Because the ball entered the goal, the goalkeeper could not be sent off for denying a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity — but the referee should have allowed the goal. Also, as you describe the situation, the ‘keeper should have been sent off and shown the red card for serious foul play or violent conduct, depending on the exact circumstances of the “wrestling.”

It was wrong to deny the attacker’s team the goal; the referee should have invoked the advantage.

In addition, the referee should have at least communicated with the assistant referee.


RUNNING THE BALL TO THE GOAL LINE; OFFSIDE [LAW 6; LAW 11]
Your question:
1. What does AR do when there is a goal scored from over 20 yards out and the ball clearly hit the back of the net, does AR still need to run all the way from the 20 some yards’ second-to-the-last-defender position to the end line then run back? Or the AR can just run a little toward the goal then run back toward the centerline?

2. A high kick toward the goal with both sides jumping to head the ball, the goalie jumped up and slap the ball away, then one attacking player tap a bouncing ball toward the goal. At this point, two attacking players were still left there, within 2 yards of the goal, they did not move but the ball was moving toward them, the last defender tried to clear the ball but the ball touched off her leg and went in as an own goal. The 11.5 stated “mere presence anywhere on the field should not be considered distraction to the opponents”, however the last defender in my example clearly “affected” by the two offside opponents that were right in front of her. There was no time for the defender to realize the offside otherwise she can simply let the goalie to take care of the ball.

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
1. While the assistant referee should always run every ball to the goal line, if it is clear that the ball has hit the back (and not the outside) of the net, then the AR may discontinue the run, communicate (check visually) with the referee, and then run toward the halfway line.

2. It is not clear that the two attackers actually affected the play of the defenders. The defender was supposed to play the ball out of danger, not watch the opposing attackers. Goal.


FAIR CHARGE ON THE GOALKEEPER [LAW 12]
Your question:
If the goalie is looking up, jumping in the air for the ball, is it within the rules of the game for an opponent to run into the goalie in order to block her?

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
If the goalkeeper, standing in her penalty area, does not have possession of the ball, an opponent may charge her fairly in an attempt to gain control. However, if the goalkeeper is in the air and going for the ball, there is no way to charge her fairly, so the referee would call a foul.


LONG PANTS; COACH’S OBJECTIONS; FLIP THROW-IN [LAW 4; LAW 5; LAW 15]
Your question:
In [a recent game], the referee stopped the game to have a player remove his leggings, the same color as the uniform, on the basis they were not permitted, but could be permitted if all team members were wearing same item. Also asked all players to remove headbands and gloves. A Rule of those State Cup rules seems to allow under-clothing such as that. Is the issue one of safety, in the ref’s discretion? The Rules say they shall control, and it appears as if leggings, at least, are permitted (with no requirement of the entire team wearing them). Are there any violations here of applicable rules? What might a coach do during the match if/when such a referee’s decision has been made?

Next question: Are the somersault-flip throw-ins definitely permitted?

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
The rules of the competition rule and, if the referee accepts the assignment, he or she must abide by those rules. Leggings? Has anyone but cowboys or loggers worn leggings (chaps) since the 19th Century?

A coach may do nothing during the match about any decision of the referee. If it seems necessary, the coach may submit a report to the appropriate authorities after the match. To do anything else during the match would likely be considered irresponsible behavior, for which offense the coach would be dismissed by the referee.

Yes, the flip throw-in is definitely permitted, as long as the requirements of Law 15 are followed.


CORRECT PLACE FOR THROW-IN; NO ADVANTAGE ON THROW-IN [LAW 15]
Your question:
During a U-17 boys premiere game, I was the AR on the coaches side of the field. The ball was kick out in the defensive side of the field by the attacking team at about half way between the the half and the top of the 18 and at such an angle after it went out, it rolled along the touch line and well behind the defenders goal line before being retrieved. I looked over my right shoulder observing the defender chasing down the ball and once he grabbed the ball, I looked back at the field anticipating the defender coming around to my left side where the ball went out and where the players were congregating for the throw-in. Instead the defender quickly throws the ball in at an area about 6 yards back from the top of the 18 to his goal keeper who punts the ball 3 quarters of the way down the field. I look at the center ref who is a State Referee and wait for an indication that the throw-in was incorrect (much more than 1 yard from the exit point). There was no response from the center, so I didn’t raise my flag. In addition, the coach for the defender was very experienced (English) and I’m certain that he has coached his players to make that kind of play in that particular instance. I asked the center at half time and he said that there was no advantage to him throwing in to his keeper, so he let them play on. I begged to differ (I thought to myself), the keeper had a tremendous kick and had already demonstrated his ability several times in the first half. Plus, the attacking team was also anticipating that the ball was going to be thrown in approximately where it went out, thus losing advantage to play the ball by being so far from the surprise throw-in.  I have asked several referees about this situation and have received several different answers. Please guide me to the correct procedure should this happen again!

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
Heaven spare us from referees who think “it doesn’t matter” if a player does not make an honest effort to put the ball into play from the right place. The referee should have stopped play and had the throw-in taken from the correct spot — within 1 yard/meter from the place where it left the field, in accordance with the requirements of Law 15.

With regard to concepts, please erase the use of “advantage” from situations like this, where it certainly does not apply.


GRABBING THE GOAL POST [LAW 14; LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
A question has been raised about the legality of the following common coaching practice and tactic employed by players: On corner kicks, prior to the kick, defenders on the near and far goal posts are grabbing the goal posts. I believe this tactic is intended to orient the defenders to the goal as well as prevent attackers from slipping in behind the defenders. There is nothing in the rules which addresses this practice. I believe that it is illegal for a kicker to grab or move the corner flag while taking a corner kick. I also believe its unsportsmanlike conduct both for the GK to grab the crossbar to gain leverage to kip up to block a high shot on goal or a crossing pass and for a player to grab the crossbar and swing on it in general or while celebrating a goal specifically. Using this reasoning that a player may not grab or hang onto any piece of field equipment, I believe that a player may not grab the goal post during play as described.

Please advise me as to the USSF position on this tactic.

P. S. I failed to mention an additional reason for defenders holding onto goal posts: preventing attackers from taking up a strategic position next to the goal post and, if the defender is already positioned there, preventing attackers from moving in between the defender and the goal post.

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
Most defenders grab the goal post simply to maintain a feel for where it is as they move. As long as the defender does not use the post to support himself or keep his arm on it to bar an opponent from getting through, there is no offense.


ASSIGNING PROCEDURES AND FILLING IN THE BLANKS [ADMIN]
Your question:
Based on some issues that have come up in recent tournaments, I have a question regarding the policy on page 35 of the Referee Administrative Handbook. This policy looks at how the referee team is to be staffed. It considers three kinds of officials who might work a match. They are: (FR) a Federation Referee, (NL) a neutral club linesman who is not registered, and (AL) a club linesman who is affiliated with one of the teams and not registered.

The prioritized list for staffing officials is:
Priority Center AR1 AR2
1 FR FR FR
2 FR FR NL
3 FR NL NL
4 FR AL AL

This policy statement raises a few questions in my mind.

We all know that the set of officials assigned to a match may turn out to be different from the set of officials that actually works the match. So my first question is simple: is this policy directed exclusively toward Assignors, or is it also intended to be also used at the field when one of the assigned officials is not present/able to work the game?

If the policy is to be used when trying to reassemble a full crew at the field, then there are more questions.

Second question. I am a registered Referee. If I take my child to play a match and one of the ARs does not show up, I am often asked to assist. For purposes of that match, what am I? There is no category for a Federation Referee who is affiliated with one of the teams. (I always carry my referee bag along because I typically officiate a match later the same day, so the availability of a uniform should effect the answer here.)

Third question. This list does not allow me to use both a Federation Referee (FR) and an Affiliated Linesman (AL) on the side lines. If I am the Center referee and one of my ARs does not show up, it is rare to find someone in attendance who could be considered an Neutral Linesman (NL). I typically recruit and briefly train a parent or sibling to serve as a club linesman. Another common response at the field is to run with one AR and modify the coverage pattern used by the Center. (Duals are forbidden here.) Is either of these common practices acceptable under the USSF policy? If I were to follow this list religiously, I would have to dismiss my trained partner and use two ALs. Common Sense says to ignore the list and use the skills of the officials at hand; but I have read of matches being protested because the referee team didn’t follow this policy in the Referee Administrative Handbook.

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
Your descriptors for the club linesmen are not quite as we would view them. For the sake of clarity, we will refer in this answer to referees, assistant referees, affiliated officials (who can be either referees or assistant referees), and club linesmen. In addition, page 35 in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) is based on the way games are assigned and not necessarily on the way they are actually worked by crews of officials, whether affiliated with the Federation or not. Use of the dual system of control is not permitted in games played under the aegis of U. S. Soccer.

If three affiliated officials are assigned to the game, but one does not turn up, the referee may fill in with either another affiliated official who happens to be present or with a club linesman from one of the teams. If the affiliated official who happens to be present is tied to one of the teams through friendship or blood, that official must work as a club linesman, rather than as a neutral official.

If there are two affiliated officials present and no one can be found to fill the third position, then the referee will run on one side of the field — inside the field, of course — and the other will function as an AR on the other side of the field — outside the field and with no whistle, only a flag.

Let it be clear that someone affiliated with the team in any way can serve only as a club linesman, no matter how otherwise qualified he or she may be, and may therefore only perform the single function given to the club linesman.


POWERS OF THE REFEREE [LAW 5]
Your question:
I have a quick question regarding the powers of the referee.

SCENARIO: Player is struck in the head and falls to the ground injured. The player has, in my opinion sustained an injury severe enough to incapacitate him (I am also a qualified boxing/kickboxing official, and as such am duly trained in recognition of acute impairment due to head blows). The player leaves the game as the laws require. The player subsequently wants to return to the game (this is a youth match with unlimited substitution allowed)

APPLICABLE LAW: The laws state that a player must receive permission to re-enter the field of play after going off for treatment of an injury.

QUESTION: Would I be within my rights to deny permission to re-enter the match, based on the fact that I deem the player to be incapacitated, and am duly trained to recognize such incapacity?

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
Law 5 gives the referee the sole authority to decide what is or is not a serious injury, but only for the purpose of stopping play. While that judgment may be more or less informed by whatever training the referee may have outside of soccer, this does not change the essential nature of the referee’s responsibility or authority here. The referee has no authority to deny entry back to the field for any reason which is not specifically delineated in the Law (e. g., correction of illegal equipment, cleaning up of blood, etc.) if the proposed re-entry is in all other respects legal.

As stated above, the referee in the circumstances described cannot refuse entry of the player back onto the field. However, once play resumes (if it was stopped) or once the player actually enters the field (if permission was given to return while play was continuing, if no substitution occurred originally), the referee’s decision needs to be based on the player’s subsequent performance, not on a preconceived notion that the injury “probably” continued. If the referee believes that the player continues to be “seriously injured,” the referee may act on this, even if the player disagrees. For example, the referee would be justified in stopping play if a player had gotten a knock on the head and, in his befuddlement, wasn’t able to recognize his impairment, or if a player was in the obvious first stages of heat stroke.

In all events, the judgment depends on the age/experience of the player. The referee should be more prepared to take such action with younger players than with senior amateurs.

And if the referee must continue to stop play because the player keeps insisting that he is okay and keeps asking to return to the field every time he is ordered off, so be it. In the end, one of the two will have to reassess his position — and guess who that will be.


OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY? [LAW 12]
Your question:
Blue team starts a quick counter-attack. So quick that the only defender back is the goalkeeper. The goalie, seeing this picks up a 12 inch tree branch (goalkeeper is in the penalty area). As blue shoots the ball the keeper reaches over his head with the branch extended and knocks the ball down. What’s the decision??

My thought is this… Since the GK is in his own penalty area the use of the tree branch is an extension of his hand. Therefore, I would blow the whistle, caution the GK for USB and restart with an indirect free kick at the spot of the infraction. There is no penalty kick nor should the GK be sent of for DOGSO. Reason being that the GK is allowed to use their hands in the penalty area so how could there be a PK?? There is no penal foul nor is there DOGSO.

Situation changes slightly should the GK throw the branch at the ball. In this case the keeper is sent off for DOGSO because the branch has now left his hand and is no longer an extension of the hand. Restart is still an IFK at the point of the foul. The same scenario would apply if a different player other than the GK threw an outside agent to prevent the ball from entering the goal.

I can’t see how a PK could be given in any of these circumstances. Thoughts??

USSF answer (February 3, 2004):
The goalkeeper is indeed guilty of unsporting behavior, for which he should be cautioned and shown the yellow card. If the referee believes that the unsporting behavior — which is punishable by an indirect free kick — denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick, then the goalkeeper must also be sent off and shown the red card for the offense. No penalty kick could be awarded to the offended team.


GAME LEVELS AND UPGRADE REQUIREMENTS FOR GRADE 9 REFEREES [ADMIN]
Your question:
Our SRA has promulgated a policy that grade 9s have to have a minimum of 25 centers of recreational games to be eligible for the bridge class to grade 8. This seems impractical for those clubs who do not have a house/recreational program and exclusively use their grade 9s as A/Rs for competitive travel games. For example, a younger referee whom I know has about 50 ARs of competitive games including the state tournament, but is technically ineligible for the bridge class because our club does not have a recreational program.

It seems to me that if a grade 9 does some minimum number of A/Rs of competitive travel games, that they too should be eligible for the bridge course.

USSF answer (January 30, 2004):
Grade 9 officials may do centers or lines on U-14 RECREATIONAL games. They may also act as assistant referees on U-14 COMPETITIVE games, but may not be the referee on U-14 competitive games.

U. S. Soccer has no restrictions on how long a person must be a grade 9 before taking the bridge course — neither in time in grade nor in game count.


OFFSIDE 1 [LAW 11]
Your question:
I have encountered or seen the following situation several times: An attacker A1 passes the ball towards, but not directly to, his teammate A2 who is in an offside position but also in a position to score or continue the attack with his teammates. From the ref’s viewpoint it is most likely but not certain that the ball can be retrieved by the goalie before A2 can play the ball. Should the ref : (1) call offside immediately and not risk a possible score or continued advantageous play by the offense, or (2) wait to see how the play develops. Should the ref base his decision on which event would likely be more advantageous to the defense – an IFK for offside or allowing the play to continue thereby giving the goalie his options for a counterattack? Also if the ref decides to delay his decision and A2 scores or sets his team up for a score, how much time does he have to then call offside? In this case the AR may or may not have signalled for offside.

USSF answer (January 30, 2004):
We cannot make this decision for the referee, who must balance everything so far observed in the game to reach the correct decision.

First things first: The job of the referee on offside is NOT to make judgments about “what is more advantageous” to a team. Advantage is applied to infringements of Law 12, not Law 11. Infringements of Law 11 either occur or they do not. An infringement of Law 11 MAY be considered trifling and not called for this reason if the ball leaves the field and the restart is the functional equivalent to an indirect free kick (e. g., a goal kick for the defenders).

Assistant referees are taught not to flag for offside position, but to wait until it is clear that there is an offside offense. In other words, as a pure issue of joint decision making by referees and ARs, the referee should take an AR’s signal for offside as a clear indication of offside position and a probable indication of an offside violation (i.e., involvement in active play). It remains the job of the referee to confirm the latter based on his sometimes better view. (This should be reinforced in the pregame discussion among the officials. If the referee does not bring it up, then the AR should ask.) If the AR has flagged for the offense, the referee could wait and see what happens, but this might lead to problems later. If the player who was in the offside position at the moment his teammate played the ball gets to the ball first, the referee will blow the whistle immediately.

Normally, the best option for the referee is to allow the players to play as much as possible without interference, but to “interfere” when there may be a problem brewing. Allowing a goal to be scored by an offside player is certainly asking for trouble from both teams, even if it is immediately corrected.


OFFSIDE 2 [LAW 11]
Your question:
I have a friend who is an excellent coach and also a skilled player. I cannot get him to believe me as to the following question concerning offside. I would appreciate a response from you that I can print out and show him. He is of the belief that if every opponent except the keeper crosses the halfway line his players are now free to cross into the attacking half and there can be no offside because the opponents have given up their right to have his players put into a position of gaining an advantage and they are not in offside position even though,as I explained to him,they are nearer to the opponents goal then both the ball and the next to last defender. Here’s the question.

The defending opponents are playing an offside trap. All 10 of the outfield players cross the halfway line (i.e. into their opponent’s half of the field). A coach claims that once all the outfield opponents cross the halfway line, his players cannot be sanctioned for offside and are now free to cross into the opponent’s half of the field and not be in offside position even though they are still nearer the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent,which is, by definition, offside position. I have said that if they are in that position,and become actively involved in play, they should be sanctioned for offside. He claims that his players cannot gain an advantage once all the outfield players cross the halfway line. I have also said that gaining an advantage has nothing to do with this scenario as it only pertains to balls being deflected from the crossbar,goalposts,or keepers and if one of his players plays the ball to one of these players in the attacking half of the field,they would be interfering with play, and sanctioned for offside. Would greatly appreciate an official response as I don’t want him to be teaching his players wrongly.

USSF answer (January 25, 2004):
Law 11 – Offside – specifically states: “A player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent.” The Law excuses any and all members of the defending team — including the last and second-last players — from being in their own half of the field of play. They may cross into the opposing team’s half without changing or violating any of the requirements of Law 11. The Law also allows any member of the opposing team to position himself anywhere on the field of play — at the risk of being in an offside position if he is in the defending team’s half and nearer to the defending team’s goal line than both the ball and the last two players of the defending team, no matter where they may be on the field of play.

A player of the attacking team who is in the opposing team’s half of the field of play and both ahead of the ball and nearer to the opposing team’s goal line than the second-last opposing player is in an offside position — no matter where on the field the second-last player may be. The player in the offside position is penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by interfering with play or interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage by being in that position. In the situation your friend puts forth, the player in the offside position would be considered to have gained an advantage from his offside position and would be penalized for offside.

NOTA BENE: If this player was not found to be offside at the moment of the pass, he could be determined to be so later, if he remains in an offside position and becomes involved in play later.


SHOULD AR COVER GOALKEEPER DISTRIBUTION OR OFFSIDE? [MECHANICS]
Your question:
[NOTE: This question has been greatly abridged.] I need some help on this Q & A from the “When the Assistant Referee is Vulnerable” training module. On reviewing this for the umpteenth time I see this in a number of ways.

SITUATION #3
Offside Responsibility vs. GK distribution
(GK holding ball while crossing 18 yd Line)
Preventive technique:
When AR covers goalkeeper distribution, referee should assume offside responsibility until AR moves to position with 2nd last defender

[We see the following areas as worthy of consideration:]

First, how good are the field lines? Are they so bad that the AR has to be virtually in line with the 18 to be able to judge or can he see well enough from a distance to be able to judge? [snipped]

Second, what level of competition is the match? At higher levels, the players will retreat farther to await the gk’s punt/throw. The farther they retreat, the farther out of position the AR will possibly be to judge offside. Also, with respect to the level of competition, how important is it to “catch” the gk coming out of the area? [snipped] The question of the referee’s fitness, in this case, may come into play. Can he get there in time on a quick counter? If not, the AR will have to be able to get there to judge.

Finally, the AR’s most important responsibility remains the offside/no offside decision. I think the crew that emphasizes the importance of the gk in/out of the area during his distribution over the AR¹s primary responsibility of offsides is taking a risk. If the gk DOES leave his area and the players, fans, etc. see it, it will not cause as much turmoil nor possible game control problems as a missed or incorrect offside decision. Yes

Obviously, both plays have to be seen and that needs to be stressed; however, if one must be overlooked more than the other, gk in/out is the less serious of the two possible incidents.

Are we thinking too much about this?

USSF answer (January 19, 2004):
The USSF “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials” tells us essentially the same thing as the “When the AR is Vulnerable” training module:
QUOTE
B. GOALKEEPER POSSESSION / PUNT
Referee
· At the position to observe where the ball is anticipated to drop.
Assistant Referee
· Verifies the goalkeeper does not handle the ball outside of the penalty area.
· Follows the ball up field to cover offside (may begin moving earlier if obvious that the goalkeeper is not in a position to handle the ball outside the penalty area).
END OF QUOTE

There is no single optimal answer to all the variations possible in this situation. The referee and assistant referee must learn to adjust to varying circumstances, no matter what the level of play or the skill of the players.

Yes, you are thinking too much about the problem, rather than simply getting down to the business of managing play.


THE GOAL AREA [LAW 1, LAW 8, LAW 13, LAW 16]
Your question:
Where does it state in the Laws of the Game or any other official materials what the purpose of the goal area is (other than the place from which goal kicks are taken)? Also, is there any reference to special protection for goal keepers in the goal area?

USSF answer (January 19, 2004):
The goal area has changed shape, size, and role several times during its history. Nowadays its primary roles are to provide a place for the goal kick to be taken and to act as a buffer zone for dropped balls and for opposing indirect free kicks within six yards of the goal. See Law 8 (Special Circumstances) and Law 13 (Free Kick Inside the Penalty Area). That is, of course, in addition, to the information in Law 1 (The Field of Play) and Law 16 (The Goal Kick).

No, there has been no specific “special protection” for the goalkeeper within the goal area since the laws were rewritten in 1997. Now the goalkeeper has no greater protection than any other player within the goal area. (See Law 12.)


PENALTY KICK [LAW 14]
Your question:
Situation: PK. Normal mechanics. Nothing unusual until someone other than the identified kicker takes the kick. Ball is saved by the goalie. At a local clinic, answers from the participants ran the gamut. Caution the kicker, caution the kicker and the identified kicker. One said blow the whistle to issue the caution(s) when the goalkeeper held the ball. Ay yi yi!!!, we had it all! I finally got them roped in a bit, but the room ended up being split between 1) caution and retake the kick, and 2) allow advantage and keep play going (possibly cautioning erroneous kicker later)

Do you give the other team another bite at the apple?

USSF answer (January 18, 2004):
The answer to your question will be found in the IFAB/FIFA Q&A, under Law 14, Q&A 12:
QUOTE
12. When a penalty kick is being taken and after the referee has given the necessary signal, a team mate of the player identified to take the kick suddenly rushes forward and takes it instead. What action does the referee take?
a. If the ball leaves the field of play?
b. If the ball is pushed out by the goalkeeper?
c. If the ball is deflected by the goalkeeper, rebounds into play and the player who took the kick scores a goal?

In all three cases the referee orders the penalty kick to be retaken, since the correct procedures for taking a penalty kick have not been followed. The referee may caution the team mate of the identified kicker for unsporting behavior.
END OF QUOTE


SIGNALLING “READINESS TO START” [MECHANICS]
Your question:
I received an assessment as an AR as part of a Maintenance assessment for another referee. Just to make sure I did well, I reviewed the AR instructions in the guide to procedures (GTP). On the 5th page, paragraph 1f, one minutes prior to start of play, I am instructed to unfurl my flag, hold it straight down in view of the referee to signal readiness to start. In the next paragraph 1g, the GTP identifies the referee’s responsibility to clear the field. The assessor comments said that I was incorrect to unfurl my flag while the coach for one of the teams was still on the field. As I review the GTP, I did not see any requirement for me to verify that my end of the field was clear of non-players prior to unfurling my flag. Who was right, me or the assessor? If the assessor is right, then the GTP is misleading in that nowhere in the GTP am I given the requirement to verify that my end is ready to start prior to unfurling the flag. The GTP could say, “Assistant referees unfurl flags after verifying that their end of the field is ready for play. Flags are held straight down in view of the referee to signal readiness to start.”

I just completed my requirements to upgrade to 7 and will start upgrading to 6. It is clear to me that if I want to pass the assessments necessary to go from 7 to 6, I need to get this kind of signaling correct.

Finally, I really appreciate the assessor’s other comments and have incorporated them into my performance of AR duties. Please do not take this as criticism of his time, efforts or comments. As of today, I am implementing all his recommendations. My only concern would be to get an assessor who has a different intrepretation of 1f, and would not approve my upgrade to 6 based on a “retention in grade” AR assessment because of this.

USSF answer (January 18, 2004):
“Readiness to start” includes ensuring that the proper number of players is on the field, that there is a properly identified goalkeeper, that the goal and goal net (if there is a net) are properly anchored, and that there are no extraneous persons (or other “outside agents”) on the assistant referee’s end of the field.

While we can understand the possible confusion between 1.f and 1.g, 1.f is clearly the more specific duty and is consistent with USSF’s intention that the referee need only make eye contact with each AR to receive assurance that each end of the field is ready in accordance with the Law. The possible confusion will be taken into account as we move to the next revision of the Guide to Procedures.


“TOUCHY-FEELY” CONTACT [LAW 12]
Your question:
Last year, we went to an out-of-state tournament and I noticed something that I had never seen before. Players for the opposing team were constantly “tapping” the backs of some of our players. I am sure it was simply a tactic to distract our players.
1. Is this a legal tactic?
2. What can a player do in response to this type of behavior/action or must they simply endure this constant distraction?

USSF answer (January 16, 2004):
While no one has ever said that soccer is a non-contact sport, there are limits to what is and should be allowed.

No, a player may not use his hand or forearm to charge an opponent — or even as a brace. These acts would be considered either pushing or holding and should be punished accordingly. They are the same as the ever-popular hand check, which is also illegal. The “tapping” you describe is a coached action, used because referees have shown they do not have the courage to call foul play. It is just one of many acts that are not properly punished.

The referee should stop play for pushing (or, depending on the circumstances, possibly holding) and restart with a direct free kick for the opponents from the place where the infringement occurred.


FLAGGING FOR OFFSIDE [LAW 11]
Your question:
I am a referee and a coach. Last spring I was an AR in a boy’s U-17 premier division game at a tournament. A player was just hanging out in an offsides position by about 10 yards on the very far side line. The ball and all the other players of both teams were at half field or beyond,attacking the other goal. The defending team won the ball and made a long clearance down the near side line (where I was). One of their forwards ran onto the ball from his own half and took the ball quickly down the sideline. He himself managed to get in deep behind the other teams defense, take the ball to the corner and get off a good cross. Mean while the player on his team, who had been hanging out on the far side in an offsides position, took off angling his run from his sideline towards the center of the goal area. The player with the ball made his cross to this player in the center of the goal area. At the moment this cross was made I raised my flag to signal offsides and indicated towards the player in the center. I was absolutely positive that this player had gained an advantage from being in an offsides position and would not have arrived to receive that cross unless he had that head start. The only defender near the play was trying to catch the fellow in the corner.

A month later at a coaching diploma course a group of very experienced college coaches and most of them instructors and my self got in a very heated discussion about this exact type of situation. They contend that the offsides player was brought back on sides by the play. I contend that he and his team gained and unfair advantage from his offsides position. I was confident of my decision at the time but they were so darn sure I was wrong that I am asking you?

USSF answer (January 16, 2004):
It makes absolutely no difference where the player was when his team gained control of the ball. He could have been chatting with the opposing goalkeeper in the goal and it would make no difference. There is insufficient information in your description to determine whether your flagging for offside was correct or not.

The crucial information lacking in your question is where the player was — in relation to the ball and opposing players — at the moment his teammate played the ball. If a player is no nearer the opponents’ goal than at least two opposing players or the ball when his teammate releases the ball, he cannot be in an offside position and thus cannot be offside. So, no matter where the player in question was prior to the moment of release, if he was behind the ball when it was played to him by his teammate, then he should not have been called offside.

Note: “Gaining an advantage” is relevant only if the determination had already been made as to offside position. Further, historically this phrase is used ONLY in connection with balls being deflected from goal posts, crossbars, goalkeepers, etc. In other respects, what the referee and assistant referee have to look for is interfering with play or with an opponent.

We might add that there is no such term in soccer as “offsides.” The correct term is “offside.”


GOALKEEPER DRIBBLES BALL INTO OWN PENALTY AREA [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Can a keeper who collects the ball outside the penalty area, dribble the ball into the PA and then pick it up?

USSF answer (January 14, 2004):
[This is a repeat of an answer of March 20, 2003]
You appear to have been confused by the references in Law 12 to the goalkeeper touching with his hands a ball passed to him by his teammates. Under the terms of Law 12, the goalkeeper may dribble the ball back into his own penalty area and pick it up only if it was not last deliberately kicked by a teammate or received directly from a throw-in by a teammate. The goalkeeper may handle (touch with the hands) only those balls that have been played to him legally. That means that if a teammate last played the ball, it must not have been thrown in nor kicked deliberately, but either misplayed in an attempt to clear it away or in some legal manner without resorting to trickery to get around the conditions of Law 12.

If an opponent last played the ball or it was played legally by a teammate (outside the goalkeeper’s penalty area), the goalkeeper may dribble the ball into his own penalty area and then pick it up to put it back into play.

The ‘keeper may not handle the ball, release it, and then kick the ball to himself. That is called a “second touch” or “double touch,” meaning that no other player has played the ball between the moment the goalkeeper released it from his hands and then touched it again.

The goalkeeper may play with his feet any ball passed to him in any manner — unless the referee believes some trickery was involved. In such cases, the other player, not the goalkeeper, would be punished.


FITNESS TESTING FOR UPGRADE [ADMIN]
Your question:
I’ve heard there’s a new fitness test for upgrades. If so, what is the new test or when will the details be released?

USSF answer (January 14, 2004):
There is no new fitness test for upgrading within the USSF. See the Referee Administrative Handbook for details on existing requirements.


RESTART AFTER STOPPAGE FOR ANY OTHER REASON [LAW 8]
Your question:
I have a restart question. Here is the situation……The ball is in play with no clear possesion by either team. Two player from opposing teams get into an argument and play is stopped by the referee. Both players are called aside, “chewed out” and Cautioned for Desent. Is the ball restarted with a drop ball where the ball was when play was stopped or is it restarted with an indirect kick? If an indirect kick, where from and which team gets the kick, as a player from both teams was booked without knowledge of which player started the disagreement first?

USSF answer (January 14, 2004):
The referee must first decide if there has been a foul or misconduct in such cases. We can see no reason for cautioning either player for dissent in this case. Unless there is information you have not supplied, there would be no reason to caution and show the yellow card to any player.

If there has been neither a foul nor misconduct, then the only possible restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped by the referee (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).


CAPTAIN’S RIGHTS? [LAW 18]
Your question:
What are the captains rights? If any…

USSF answer (January 14, 2004):
The captain has no rights, only duties. Here is an excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
19.4 THE ROLE OF THE TEAM CAPTAIN
The role of the team captain is not defined in the Laws of the Game. He usually wears an armband. The captain is responsible to the referee for his team, but has no special rights or privileges. By practice and tradition, certain duties fall upon the team captain:
-to see that the referee’s decisions are respected by the captain’s teammates and by team officials;
-to counsel a teammate who may be reluctant to leave the field at a substitution ‹ but neither the captain nor the referee may insist that the player leave;
-to represent his or her team at the coin toss to determine which direction the team will attack to begin the game (and subsequent overtime periods) or which team will take first kick in kicks from the penalty mark;
-to be the team representative to whom the referee must go to obtain the name or names of members of that team who must be withdrawn from participating in kicks from the penalty mark in order to match the size of the opposing team (which has fewer players on the field before or during the kicks from the penalty mark procedure as a result of injury or misconduct).


GOALKEEPER ACCIDENTALLY DROPS BALL [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In a High school varsity game a shot was place on goal. After the goalie game contral of the ball then decide to roll it out to a team mate. When he went back with the ball it slip and went backwards towards his on goal. A striker than ran to pressure the goalie, which then panic and picked the ball up. Is the an infraction are not? Being that it was unitionaling release of the ball back into play.

USSF answer (January 11, 2004):
Although there is no difference in this case, we do not answer questions based on high school rules. This answer is based on the Laws of the Game.

After the goalkeeper deliberately drops the ball, he or she may not pick it up again. The ‘keeper may not handle the ball, release it, and then kick the ball to himself. That is called a “second touch” or “double touch,” meaning that no other player has played the ball between the moment the goalkeeper released it from his hands and then touched it again. However, if the referee believes that the release of the ball was entirely accidental and that, in picking the ball up again, the goalkeeper did not gain an unfair advantage, the referee could decide that the violation was trifling and therefore could be ignored (with perhaps only a brief warning to the goalkeeper about the requirements of the Law).


NO REVERSAL OF SEND-OFF (OR CAUTION) AFTER GAME HAS RESTARTED [LAW 12]
Your question:
A referee issues a red card to a player for a second bookable offense and play then continues. At half time the referee has a chance to review a video recording of the player’s supposed offense and decides that he, the referee, was wrong. May the ejected player return to the game?

USSF answer (January 10, 2004):
If the referee has sent off a player and then restarted the game, the matter is closed for that game. If the referee should happen to look at a video replay of the incident and thus determine that the player should not have been sent off, the player may not return to the game. The referee simply notes the information in his match report — and pays attention to business from now on.


UNSAFE BALL [LAW 2]
Your question:
I wish to address an issue in regard to [a brand of] soccer balls. The [brand name] game balls have a twist valve pump that airs up the ball without the need of a [separate] pump and needle. Although this may be convenient, it can be very dangerous to the players on the field. Soccer balls take more wear and tear than footballs or basketballs.

My concern is that the first two games I allowed one of these balls to be used the plastic pump slides out of the ball, it can gouge an eye or cut up a player’s face (valve is made of hard plastic). I now do not allow any [brand name] ball to be used in any of my games, even if they are new. One coach said I cannot prohibit them since that is the only kind of balls they have. I was under the impression that the referee can chose what the game will be played with. Can I continue to disallow these balls from being used?

Is there some way USSF can notify [the manufacturer] of this problem?

USSF answer (January 2, 2004):
If a ball is not safe for play, it cannot be used. The decision lies with the referee, not with the coach or other team official.


A HISTORY LESSON ON THE DROPPED BALL [LAW 8; LAW 11]
Your question:
I guess I got myself confused, recently. Not in a game, but during a recert clinic. I now owe the instructor a dinner, but I want to make certain I understand the history of the rule change.

For many years, the offside infraction law (11) stated that a player in an offside position was not called for an infraction if they receive the ball direct from a: corner kick, goal kick, throw-in, or when dropped by the referee.

Then, prior to the major 1997 rewrite of the Laws, FIFA deleted the words : when dropped by the referee.

I must have not been paying attention. I assumed that when FIFA dropped those words, that they intended for a player to be Called for the offside infraction if they were in an offside position and received the ball direct from the drop.

Obviously, I have never called this in a game. Drop balls are rare (in my games) and the idea that the ball would go to someone (directly) who was in an offside position is even rarer….

However, why did FIFA have that wording to begin with, and why did they remove it? While it is a very rare occurrence, why not specifically state “no offside infraction when receiving the ball direct from a drop by the referee”?

FIFA eliminated 5 words, but it did cause me some confusion…..

Any historical (or hysterical) insight would be appreciated.

USSF answer (January 1, 2004):
Thank you for asking us to do a bit of historical research — no hysterics needed here.

From 1888 through 1904, the referee would “throw up” the ball to restart after temporary stoppages (the ball had to hit the ground before being played). In 1905 the dropped ball was introduced in place of the thrown-up ball. No player could be called offside directly from either a ball “thrown up” or dropped.

The provision excepting players from being called offside directly from the dropped ball was added to the offside Law in 1938, when the offside Law was changed from Law 6 to Law 11 in the IFAB’s reorganization (revision and renumbering) of the Laws of the Game. The exception was not mentioned in Law 6 prior to the reorganization.

It would seem to have been superfluous from the moment of its inclusion in the Law and to have been dropped by the IFAB for that reason in 1990 — though the removal of the dropped ball had been formally proposed as early as 1987. It is likely that the words were originally included in response to calls for clarification to remove any doubt.

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.
END EXTRACT

Referees should not be swayed by the complaints or shouts of coaches or parents, but should exercise common sense in stopping games for injury to players. A good rule of thumb is that the younger and less skilled or experienced the players, the more quickly the referee should stop the game.


OUTSIDE AGENT [LAW 8]
Your question:
The attacking team takes a shot on the defending team’s goal. The shot is wide and is clearly going cross the goal line outside the 6-yard box and result in a goal kick – if left undisturbed. However, a coach arriving for the next game sees the ball and in an effort to be helpful steps forward, stops the ball with his foot and passes it to the goalie. However, he stops the ball on the goal line. I thanked him for his assistance and asked him to let the ball completely leave the field next time explaining that he had interfered with play. I proceeded with a goal kick to restart play. Did I handle the situation correctly?

USSF answer (December 3, 2003):
As soon as the coach stops the ball you have interference by an outside agent and play MUST be stopped — restart with a dropped ball where the ball was, taking into account the special circumstances of Law 8.


OFFSIDE? MISCONDUCT? RESTART? [LAW 11; LAW 12]
Your question:
If a player slides off the field into the goal, being beyond the goal line when his teammate plays the ball, and then came back and distract the opposing GK. The replies on the [unspecified] list did not consider the player was quite likely to be in offside position. So he’s interfering with an opponent and it’s offside. Restart is IFK in the GA, since his nominal position is on the goal line between the posts.

Is there a USSF official judgment on this situation?

USSF answer (December 3, 2003):
If a player is beyond the goal line and one of his teammates kicks the ball into the goal, the player should not be punished if he remains stationary as the ball enters the goal and does not interfere with the opponents. However, if the player interferes with the goalkeeper’s ability to play the ball, and the referee believes this interference contributed to the scoring of the goal, the goal would not be valid. In this case, the player would be punished for misconduct (cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior), not for offside.

If the player had remained off the field, the restart would be a dropped ball in accordance with the special circumstances of Law 8. If the player had returned to the field before or during the interference, the restart would an indirect free kick.


BILLBOARDS AND OTHER ADVERTISING SIGNS [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
Our club is investigating using movable small advertising boards and I need to find the distance requirements between sign boards and the goal line and the touch line. Also is there a difference of distance during a tournament and during the regular season.

USSF answer (December 2, 2003):
There are no requirements in the Laws of the Game regarding distances to be maintained between the boundary lines and any advertising boards. However, FIFA has established regulations for the distance of billboards and other signage from various locations on the field of play: from touchline 5.0 meters minimum, 3.0 meters at corner flags, and 3.5 meters where the goal area line intersects the goal line. (“Technical Recommendations and Requirements for the Construction or Modernization of Football Stadia.”)


PERMISSIBLE AGE FOR YOUNG REFEREES [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
My son is a licensed USSF level 8 referee.  He scored an 89 on the exam, and worked several games this past Spring in [our old state]. We relocated to [another state] this month, and he is told he may not work any USSF games because he is only 12 years old. They will, however, allow him to recertify when the time comes.

He is nationally licensed by USSF.  If he were living in [our old state], he would work games and tournaments. What is the opinion of the national office on his eligibility in [our new state]?

My position is ­ as he is acknowledged and licensed by USSF, he should be permitted to work games.

USSF answer (December 1, 2003):
Each state governs the age at which referees may begin refereeing within the state’s area of jurisdiction. The United States Soccer Federation takes no position one way or another.


NO OFFSIDE DIRECTLY FROM GOAL KICK [LAW 11]
Your question:
I’ve always been told a player cannot be offside on a goal kick, but no one I’ve asked has ever known the meaning or explanation behind this rule. Could you help me understand why it is an attacking player cannot be offsides on his/her goal kick?

USSF answer (December 1, 2003):
Law 11 tells us that “There is no offside offense if a player receives the ball directly from a goal kick.” This has been a part of the Law since at least 1881.


DIMENSIONS FOR YOUTH FIELDS [LAW 1]
Your question:
What are the field diminutions for youth K-2, and grades 3-5 ? Can you e-mail me a diagram of each?

USSF answer (November 30, 2003):
Sorry, but there are no diagrams available for small-sided youth fields. Here are the dimensions for Under 6, Under 8, Under 10, and Under 12 small-sided games (and the recommended dimensions for Under 12 full-sided games) You can find the markings on the US Youth Soccer website, together with the recommended rules. Please remember that even these dimensions may be changed by the particular competition authority.

U6: The field of play shall be rectangular, its length not more than 30 yards nor less than 20 yards, its width not more than 20 yards nor less than 15 yards. The length in all cases shall exceed the width. U S Youth Soccer Recommendation: Length 25 Yards Width: 20 Yards

U8: The field of play shall be rectangular, its length being not more than 50 yards nor less than 40 yards and its width not more than 30 yards nor less than 20 yards. The length in all cases shall exceed the width. U S Youth Soccer Recommendation: Length 50 Yards Width: 30 Yards

U10: The field of play shall be rectangular, its length being not more than 80 yards nor less than 70 yards and its width not more than 50 yards nor less than 40 yards. The length in all cases shall exceed the width. U S Youth Soccer Recommendation:
8v8 Length: 70 yards Width: 50 yards
7v7 Length: 60 yards Width: 40 yards
6v6 Length: 50 yards Width: 40 yards
5v5 Length: 50 yards Width: 40 yards

U12: The field of play shall be rectangular, its length being not more than 90 yards nor less than 70 yards and its width not more than 50 yards nor less than 40 yards. The length in all cases shall exceed the width. U S Youth Soccer Recommendation: 8v8 Length: 80 yards Width: 45 yards


COMMUNICATION BY DISMISSED COACH [LAW 5]
Your question:
When a coach is “sent off” the field of play by the referee, has he been banished from watching the match from the other side of the field? And would he still be allowed to communicate with his other coaches still on the bench, either by hand signals or cell phone, etc., etc.?

I was taught that once a coach has been sent off, he/she is required to leave the field and no longer coach. Is there further sanction the referee should take?

USSF answer (November 28, 2003):
When a coach or other team official is dismissed from the game, he must leave the field and its environs. While players may be cautioned for unsporting behavior for using a cell phone or similar devices during a game, there is no prohibition in the Laws of the Game against team technical personnel using phones. However, such use may be prohibited by the rules of the competition, e. g., NCAA and high school. The only thing that would stop a disqualified coach from communicating with the team would be those rules of competition


HANDS OFF THE FLAGS!! [LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
Interesting situation arose over the past weekend. AR was asked by a player to hold the corner flag out of the way because the wind was blowing really hard. AR didn’t know any better, and believing that he was being helpful, obligingly held the flag out the way. To compound the problems, the corner kick resulted in a goal. Obviously the defending coach was livid. Should the corner kick have been retaken or stood as a score?

Part 2: there seems to always be little things like the above that drive us refs nuts as we continue our learning. As well meaning as our general rule books are, they lack specifics on how to deal with strange (but not that uncommon) situations. For instance, during yet another game over the weekend a referee blew his whistle thinking a ball had gone over the touch line – when in reality he mistakenly misread the perimeter markings of the goal box as the touch line (trust me, the field markings were strange to say the least). He restarted the play by awarding the team with the possession at the whistle with an indirect kick. After the game, this decision gnawed on him, and he refenced some “10 page addendum” to the normal rule book. And, yup, there in black and white, it addressed this situation as a restart with drop ball. Situations like this happen – although not frequently, they still occur. What was this “10 page addendum” the referee had? Are there some all inclusive referee books that deals with situations over and above the basic referee tenets? What would you recommend?

USSF answer (November 28, 2003):
We can only say shame on the assistant referee! The seven duties of the AR are enumerated in Law 6, and holding the corner flag is not one of them. If a player is not entitled to do this, why should the AR become an accomplice in the player’s crime?

USSF answer (November 28, 2003):
We have no idea about any ten-page addendum to the Laws, unless the referee was thinking of the Additional Instructions to Referees, which are included in the back of the Law book, but there is nothing there about restarts in the situation you describe. However, Law 8 describes the dropped ball as the correct restart in any case “after a temporary stoppage which becomes necessary, while the ball is in play, for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game.”

We recommend that all referees obtain, either through purchase of the hardcopy edition or downloading the PDF file on the US Soccer referee webpage, a copy of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.” An alternative would be to read through a copy of the “The Laws of the Game — Made Easy” before moving to harder material like the “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.”


TRIFLING OFFENSES [LAW 5; LAW 6; LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In a U-14 game the goal keeper (blue team) made a save and took a few forward steps to put the ball back into play. In doing so he stepped out of the penalty box (a hand ball). The Referee didn’t see the infraction, but the AR signaled the penalty. The referee didn’t see the AR as play was toward the other end of the field and the trail AR didn’t mirror the flag. The AR kept his flag up as play developed. Finally the ball was kick out of bounds across the goal line giving the red team the goal kick. At this time the referee notice the flag up and went to confer with the AR. Finding out that there had been a hand ball by the blue goalkeeper, instead of the red team taking a goal kick, he brought the ball back to the point of the hand ball and gave the red team a direct free kick from that point. Is that the correct procedure or since the penalty was not noted until the next stoppage should it have been a restart by goal kick by the red team?

USSF answer (November 28, 2003):
The original offense was trifling and should have been disregarded. The assistant refereE called something the referee likely did not need to deal with and thus put the referee in a no-win position. The AR should have let it go.

The reasoning behind the answer: 1. The contact with the ball might not even have been an offense — could not the exact location of the goalkeeper’s handling of the ball been at least doubtful?
2. Even if not doubtful, the offense was almost certainly trifling and should have been ignored by the AR.
3. Even if the AR chose not to ignore the offense, the AR should have dropped his flag after that much time had gone by (how long an AR holds the flag for a violation of Law 12 should be discussed in the pregame but, where the offense does not involve violence, sustained flags are not beneficial).
4. Even if the AR maintained the flag, the referee should have decided to overrule the AR’s information for any or all of the reasons listed above.


DOES A TEAM NEED A COACH DURING THE GAME? [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
My question is in regards of a situation that I was faced to deal with during a game earlier this season. It was a Classic level game in which a team showed up with no coach. There was no team manager, coach, or any team officials present at the field. I read the rulebook and saw that there is no area regarding coaches, but what would have been the correct course of action? Play the game or not play?

USSF answer (November 28, 2003):
While there is no requirement in the Laws of the Game that a coach, team manager, or other team official be present at any game, it may be required by the rules of the competition. Moral: Know the rules of the competition in which you referee.


WHEN DOES A PENALTY KICK END? [LAW 14]
Your question:
One of [our State] Cup semifinal U11G playoff games last weekend required penalty kicks to decide a winner. After several “normal” kicks, the following situation occurred: The kicker stuck the ball and propelled it toward the goal. The keeper then moved forward to block the kick (no keeper violation). The keeper missed the ball. The ball stuck the crossbar then rebounded into the field of play. It struck the keeper then rebounded backwards across the goal line and into the goal. What is the correct call … goal or no goal?

During normal time, this would be a goal, since play would continue and there would be attackers and defenders involved in the continuation of play (including the keeper).

At the end of a half or in a shootout, it isn’t obvious to me (or several other referees watching the game) whether the play ends when the ball comes to rest (or leaves the field of play or enters the goal) or whether the play ends when the shot is missed (hitting the crossbar and rebounding back into the field of play in this case).

Fortunately, the call made in the game did not decide the outcome, as one team failed on several other shootout attempts.

USSF answer (November 27, 2003):
Score the goal. The penalty kick or kick from the penalty mark is not completed until the referee declares it so, and the referee should not declare the kick to be completed if it is any possibility that it is still in play.

To put it another way: So long as the ball is in motion and contacting any combination of the ground, crossbar, goalposts, and goalkeeper, a goal can still be scored.


GOALKEEPER TAKING THE BALL FROM THE TEAMMATE’S FOOT [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In the December issue of [a national magazine] a situation is described where a defender is dribbling the ball in the PA and the keeper comes up and takes the ball away from him using his hands. [The] Magazine interprets this as permissible because the ball was not “deliberately” played to the keeper. This goes against all I have been taught, as the ball was last played by the foot of the defender. I do notice, however, that the wording in the 2003 Laws of the Game use the words “deliberately played.” What is correct and do we now need to distinguish deliberately played from accidental?

USSF answer (November 27, 2003):
The spirit of the Law is that a goalkeeper may not play a ball last played deliberately from the foot of a teammate.  If the defender has played the ball with his foot, trapping the ball and leaving it for the goalkeeper to pick up, that is the same as kicking the ball deliberately to the goalkeeper. The same would be true if the goalkeeper reached down and picked up a ball being dribbled by a teammate.


LIABILITY INSURANCE [ADMIN]
Your question:
Most leagues require their games to be assigned by a USSF registered assignor. In some cases the smaller leagues do not have this requirement and referees get calls from coaches to referee their regularly scheduled games. If the game or scrimmage is USSF sanctified and the referee is USSF registered, but the game is not assigned by a USSF registered assignor, is the referee covered by USSF insurance?

If the referee is insured, does the assignor have anything to do with the insurance coverage of a registered referee?

USSF answer (November 27, 2003):
If the referee is currently registered with USSF for the year and the game is an affiliated game, the referee is insured regardless of how he received the assignment. This has been verified by the Chief Financial Officer, who oversees the USSF insurance coverage.


ABUSE OF TEAM BY MATCH OFFICIAL [ADMIN]
Your question:
I know that if a coach questions a call on the field or just disagrees with it they are to voice it in a polite manner either upon the completion of the game or at half-time. I recently was involved in a game where the Ref Assignor for a club was the center ref and his 14 year old daughter was the AR. Mind you know that this was a GU13 relegation game when during the second half the AR without being spoken to said to my girls and an Asst Coach ” you guys have a “Fing” attitude.”. My question is when do you address this kind of issue? After the game and take the chance of it continuing? Or like we did by getting the centers attention? This is when we found out that the AR was his daughter. Please help in answering what is the correct procedure.

USSF answer (November 24, 2003):
No official in any sport, of either sex or of any age, has a right to speak in such a manner to players, coaches, or spectators. The team should file a full report with the competition (league) authority on the matter and should also file a full report and letter of grievance with the state youth association.

The fact that the assistant referee was the assignor’s daughter makes no difference in this case.

You can try getting the referee’s attention to report this.


STANDARD FOR FLOODLIGHTS? [LAW 1; LAW 18]
Your question:
Is there any guide line to the amount of flood lights needed to play a game safely in the evening? There are several youth teams that have their own fields and are putting in their own flood lights for practice and are now using the same fields for late games on the weekend.

USSF answer (November 14, 2003):
No, there is no guideline on floodlights. We can assume that you would apply the same rule of thumb as for fog and rain: If the referee cannot see from the halfway line to both ends of the field, then there is not enough light to play the game safely.


“INTENTIONAL” VS. RESULT OF THE ACTION [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I recently had the following happen in a U-14 game. A defender, in the box, was covering the attacking player with the ball. The defender had his arms in a normal defensive position about shoulder height and partially extended. The attacker kicked the ball towards the goal on either a cross or a shot and the ball went straight into the left arm of the defender and bounced across the goal line out of play. The defender did not use his arm to propel the ball out of play. In my opinion the ball was not deliberately played by the defender, instead the ball “played” the defender. The center referee called a PK. I question the referees judgment on this foul. If they truly felt that it was deliberately played by the player, thus awarding the PK, then the defender should have been sent off for denying a goal scoring opportunity or yellow carded for unsporting behavior. If not, then no foul should have been called because it was unintentional.

I brought this question to our local association referee president and he told me that the law had changed. He indicated that the rule book no longer says “intentional”, but “through your actions”, so it comes down to merely a judgment call. I cannot find any changes in the “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” 2003 regarding this change. Can you help clarify this?

USSF answer (November 14, 2003):
Without wishing to insult your association president, who very likely meant precisely what is stated below, the information you were given is partially correct, partially incorrect, and generally flawed.

When making a decision on the first six direct-free-kick fouls listed in Law 12 — kicking or attempting to kick an opponent, tripping or attempting to trip an opponent, jumping at an opponent, charging an opponent, striking or attempting to strike an opponent, and pushing an opponent — the referee no longer looks for “intent” in a player’s actions, but for the result of that action and whether the act was committed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force.

When making a decision on the second four direct-free-kick fouls — tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball; holding an opponent; spitting at an opponent; or handling the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area) — the referee looks only at the result. He or she does not need to establish that the act was done carelessly, recklessly, or with the use of excessive force. The fact that it was done, in the opinion of the referee, is enough for the foul to be called.

In the case of deliberate handling, the referee determines simply whether or not the play was deliberate or accidental. (See Sections 12.9 and 12.10 of the Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game, unchanged in the 2003 update.)

As to the final decision made during the game, only the referee who is there can do that.

With regard to your comment about misconduct, please note that a send-off for deliberate handling to deny a goal is not automatic simply because an act of deliberate handling occurred inside the penalty area. The general rule of thumb to follow for this offense is that, but for the handling, the ball would have gone into the net. Where there is no red-card misconduct, it does not follow that a caution must be given. The referee has full discretion to determine that a handling foul is simply that, a foul, with no additional misconduct attached to it (as might be the case if the handling were judged to have been committed to interfere with attacking play or in an attempt to score a goal).


PUNISHING PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
What are the proper referee mechanics for dealing with a player who commits two cautionable fouls in succession before the referee can punish either foul?

Example 1: A player commits a foul against an opponent worthy of a yellow card and then gets up and makes a USB comment to the opponent, saying something similar to “That’s what you get”, etc.

Example 2: A player commits a foul against an opponent worthy of a yellow card and the referee gives advantage, telling the player that they will be cautioned at the next stoppage of play. The player commits another cautionable foul before the next stoppage.

Example 2A: There is no advantage after the second foul.

Example 2B: There is advantage again after this foul. Should play be stopped here immediately anyways because sending off the player could give the opponent a greater advantage and because the player who knows that they will be sent-off at the next play is essentially a “dead man walking” who cannot be penalized further if they commit an even more serious foul.

Example 3: A player commits two different cautionable offences such as committing a cautionable foul and then delaying the restart by kicking the ball away in disgust before the player knows that play will be stopped anyways to issue a caution. (The latter offense could also be seen as “dissent by action” if a player kicks a ball out of play in protest of the referee’s decision.)

In these scenarios, how should the referee show the cards? Should the referee show the yellow twice in succession and then the red card? Should the ref just show one yellow card and then a red card, implying that the red card is for receiving two cautions in one match? Should the ref show just a red card and then right for the official reason two cautions and a red card and note that they occurred at the same time? Or should the ref show just a red card and give as the official reason violent conduct (because committing two cautionable offences in succession brings the game into disrepute and can be seen as an intimidation tactic, especially in Example 1) or abusive behavior?

USSF answer (November 14, 2003):
If a player commits two cautionable offenses before the referee has had the opportunity to deal with the first one, that player will be cautioned and shown the yellow card twice, once for each of the misconduct offenses, and then sent off and shown the red card for receiving a second caution in the same match. That takes care of all your examples, but there is some misunderstanding to be cleared up.

Players may well be more severely punished for acts that occur after they have committed either a second cautionable offense or even serious foul play or violent conduct. Punishment consists of more than simply the cards and the risk of being sent off. The competition authority and local governments have powers that go far beyond those of the referee to punish the player who commits continuing and grave offenses. A player may be suspended for much longer than the single-game suspension typically levied for a send-off and may be required to pay fines at some levels of the game. A player who commits assault may also be subject to criminal and civil action for his deeds. The referee must supply full details of all such acts in the match report.

The referee should normally stop the game immediately to send off and show the red card (regardless of what sequence of events led up to it — a single event or two separate events each worthy of a caution in the opinion of the referee). Either stop play immediately upon deciding for the red card or, if circumstances warrant, apply advantage but the referee must definitely delay the next restart in order to give the card.

And there is no need to invent terms such as “dissent by action.” A player may be cautioned and shown the yellow card for delaying the restart of play by kicking the ball away.


ONLY ONE RED CARD TO A CUSTOMER, PLEASE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
In my game the other day, one of the captains received a red card for getting in a fight. He then turned to me and said “Go screw yourself you “f” ing B. You “f” ing suck. I then asked for the second captain and gave him a red card for the behavior that was being displayed by this other captain. First of all is this correct? If it is, what happens if there is only one captain sent out. Who would the card be given to then?

USSF answer (November 11, 2003):
Captains do not receive cards for other players. All players are responsible for their own behavior. A player who has been sent off may be shown the red card only once. Full details on any subsequent misconduct by that (now former) player is included in the match report.


WHEN DOES THE BALL LEAVE THE FIELD? [LAW 9; LAW 18]
Your question:
In a select U-16 boys match in a tournament, a ball was kicked to the sideline where it struck the Assistant Referee hard and it in turn bounced hard in deflection towards one team’s goal. The ball would obviously have gone out of bounds had it not hit the AR. After it struck the AR the defenders stopped running but an attacker scooted after the ball heading to the goal. The attacker shanked the ball and we had a goal kick. After it hit the AR, the AR signaled that the ball was in play since it never went completely over the line since it ricocheted off of him. The AR is senior to me in experience and a senior officer in our local Referee Association. Although the center, I deferred to his judgment.

The defending team’s coach was livid since he stated that the ball should have been ruled out of play because it hit the AR. I know the center is part of the pitch, but what about the AR?

USSF answer (November 11, 2003):
If, instead of the ball being shanked by the attacker, the ball had entered the goal, the goal would have been scored. Law 9 tells us that the ball remains in play until “it has wholly crossed the goal line or touch line whether on the ground or in the air.” Common sense dictates that if the ball is prevented from wholly crossing the line by striking the assistant referee or any other person or object (such as corner flag post or a bag on the line), then it is still in play. Although ignorance of the Law is no excuse for players, the intelligent referee will be proactive and announce that the ball is still in play and prevent further confusion.

Please remember that most coaches know very little about the Laws of the Game and their proper application. Some tend to become excited when something unusual occurs that could harm their team or help the other team — no matter that it is perfectly legal under the Laws of the Game. In fact, some follow the example of the coach in your situation and become livid. Unfortunately for them, their lack of knowledge can be a big hindrance to the development of their players, to the proper management of the game, and to their own physical and mental health.


METAL STUDS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
One of my players (U11/U12 age group) has soccer cleats with removal metal studs. The studs are oval in shape (they look like the “typical” adidas or nike shape, but are metal instead of rubber). Are these legal to use in USYSA games?

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.


PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
If I notice that a team repeatedly fouls by tripping their opponents, can I consider this as persistent infringement and caution the person who tripped the opponent even though this was the first time he tripped the opponent and this was the first time this particular opponent was tripped. Sort of a Team persistent infringement. If so, can I consider a subsequent trip by another player of the same team as a second caution and send him off? This situation has occurred in several games I have centered where it seemed that the team was coached to trip if beaten and I want to know if this is a valid use of the PI and 2YC Send off.

USSF answer (November 9, 2003):
First a word of advice: The referee should not look to be sending off people right and left. The referee should manage play with all the tools in the toolbox, not just cards. if a player demonstrates that he or she does not want to play according to the rules and the referee’s guidance, then and only then should cards be considered.

And now on to the question: Although this pattern of infringement is not among those types of action customarily associated with persistent infringement of the Laws, it would seem to deserve a place among them. 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.
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.

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.


BALL PRESSURE [LAW 2; LAW 18]
Your question:
The laws of the game state that the ball pressure to be between 8.5 and 15.6 psig. I pumped a ball up and did a squeeze comparison. To me it was quite a difference. Like squeezing an orange in one case and a rock in another ! From my experience as a player and officiating soccer I frequently see the ball at about 9 to 10 psig. So out of curiosity my question is what are some of the factors that determine the pressure that the ball is pumped up to ? Is it age, cultural  or field conditions that determine what the referee selects ? Any good rules of thumb to follow ? What ball pressures do you see being used at the professional and World Cup level of play ? Have you seen a game where the ball was pumped to 15.6 psig ?

USSF answer (November 8, 2003):
As long as the pressure within the ball meets the requirement of the Law and is between 8.5 and 15.6 psi (aka 0.6-1.1 atmospheres), no one is particularly concerned about it. The actual playing “feel” of the ball is generally dictated by cultural preferences, which are in turn governed by normal field conditions and the state of the weather thereabouts. The balls used at the higher levels of play are generally inflated at a fairly high pressure to make the ball move better through the air and to bounce more truly from the ground. There is no magic formula of such-and-such pounds per square inch. For more information, please consult the article on “Ball Power” by Stanley Lover. You can find it in the Spring/Summer issue of the USSF referee magazine “Fair Play,” which may be downloaded from the US Soccer website.


SIGNALING FOR A CORNER KICK [LAW 2; LAW 18]
Your question:
Assume the AR is at about the 18 and even with the second to last defender. As play moves forward a shot is taken at the goal and the keeper deflects the ball over the end line (for a corner kick). Should the AR signal corner kick from his position on near the 18 and then move to the corner or run to the corner and then signal. I know this sounds a little trivial but it happens to me quite often and I just want to be sure I am in the proper position.

USSF answer (November 8, 2003):
The assistant referee (AR) is supposed to remain level with the ball or the second-last defender, whichever is nearer to the goal line. If that is not possible and the ball goes beyond the second-last defender, the AR must quickly run to the goal line to catch up with the ball. However, in the case where the ball (moving faster than the AR) leaves the field, it is more important that the AR provide immediate assistance to the referee by signaling the proper restart.

Stop, square to the field, and signal (remember, if it is to be a corner kick, the flag is pointed downward at a 45 degree angle in the direction of the corner, even if this means that the flag is not pointing directly at the corner because you are upfield). As soon as eye contact is made with the referee, drop the flag and as quickly as possible take up the correct position for the restart.


DEALING WITH “FORFEITS” [LAW 18]
Your question:
While clearing up arcane protocols – During my playing days I learned that the correct way to “officiate” a forfeit was for the team present to kick off and shoot the ball in the goal. Kind of fun, especially as the team usually selected the GK to score. Do you know if that was ever an official procedure? I doubt it as the result of a forfeit is often 2-0 and how would you handle the ghost kickoff between the victor’s goals? 🙂

Thanks for you column. As I am a referee instructor I get the most interesting questions and hunger to know as much as I can.

USSF answer (November 4, 2003):
There is no formal procedure such as you describe. The only “official” thing to do is to confirm that one team can and one team cannot field the minimum number by formally requiring the team(s) to be on the field as though the match were ready to start. When one team can put at least seven players on and one team cannot, that’s it.

In no event may the referee declare a forfeit, because there is no such option under the Laws of the Game. All we can do is declare the match abandoned due to an insufficient number of players on one or both teams. It is then up to the competition authority to determine if the match is forfeited or has some other official outcome under the rules.


TAKING A “KNEE” [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
A player took a ball off the forehead, knocking him to the ground and appeared to be unconscious for a moment. Immediately, the referee commanded the remaining players to get on the ground on one knee. Is this enforceable? It doesn’t appear in the laws anywhere. Is it the best interest of or beneficial to the injured player?

My larger concern is for the other players on the field, as aerobic recovery would be better served by gradually slowing the work rate instead of coming to a dead stop. I’ve seen it done may times, and, can’t understand why it happens. It also seems somewhat demeaning.

The referee and I spoke after the match about it. He said it was about respect for the injured player.

Looking for enlightenment,

USSF answer (November 4, 2003):
There is no requirement in the Laws of the Game, nor in common sense, to “take a knee” if a player is down. The referee is required by Law 5 to stop play immediately if a player is seriously injured. The referee might consider stopping play for any “injury” if the players are very young.


THE BALL AND THE CONDITION OF THE FIELD [LAW 2; LAW 18]
Your question:
As the weather becomes inclement, even out here in California, we¹ve been having some discussions around guidelines for determining if a field is in playable condition.  Markings and equipment matters are relatively obvious, such as our recent misfortune when a composting company dumped a load that included glass shards and nails on a couple of fields.  But what about the condition of the field itself?  Is the traditional dropped ball from 6 feet must bounce 12 inches a formally recognized standard?  Are there other accepted standards?

USSF answer (November 3, 2003):
Someone has been applying the compost elsewhere than on the fields. Who ever said that the ball, if dropped from six feet above the ground, must bounce 12 inches?? It is certainly not in the Laws of the Game, not in the Advice to Referees, nor in the Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials. This is not a rule for games played under the auspices of the United States Soccer Federation.

Only the referee can determine whether the field is fit to play on, and it has nothing to do with the height the ball bounces off the ground. It has everything to do with the safety of all participants, which is the only criterion to apply.


SERIOUS MISCONDUCT AFTER PLAYERS HAVE LEFT THE FIELD [LAW 12; LAW 3]
Your question:
After a match and the players have left the field, a disgruntled player directs racist remarks to the officiating team. Per USSF Advice 3.14, this is not a send-off and no card may be shown, but the match report MUST describe the incident. Must the referee immediately inform the player (or coach) of the filing of such a report? If YES, does this apply even to very volatile cases where there could be substantial escalation? Or does the competition authority do this later in calmer times?

USSF answer (October 31, 2003):
The referee must use common sense in this case. If it is possible to inform someone on the team, not necessarily the player himself, but perhaps the captain or another responsible team person, about the report that will be filed, then that is how it should be handled.


ADVERTISEMENTS ON PLAYER UNIFORMS [LAW 4]
Your question:
I have a question and want to know if at all, any soccer players can have any advertisments, logos for other places on their uniforms?

USSF answer (October 29, 2003):
Barring something in the rules of particular competition, there is nothing to ban advertisements or other logos on player uniforms.


GREEN CARD? “SOFT RED” CARD? [LAW 5; LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
A co-worker of mine asked me a question the other day. At a tournament in [a state in Region II] his daughter received a green card and a soft red card. What exactly does that mean or represent?

USSF answer (October 29, 2003):
Under the Laws of the Game neither of these means anything. The only “green card” we know means that his daughter may be now a resident alien in the United States. There should be no such thing as a “soft red card” in any competition affiliated with the United States Soccer Federation. That is a concept in other, non-affiliated competitions, but not under USSF. You will have to check with the competition authority responsible for the tournament for an explanation.


APPLICATION OF THE ADVANTAGE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
A couple times recently I observed direct free kick fouls by defenders in the penalty area where the referee held back on calling a penalty kick. The way I was taught to handle this was to call the penalty kick. After all, what could be more advantageous than a penalty kick? The answer, of course, is “a goal”. So if the foul is committed and you are pretty sure the team is going to score, you can say/do nothing and let the goal happen. For example, a defender sticks out his hand to stop a shot on goal but does a poor job of it, and the ball trickles into the goal. The attacking team gets a goal. The defending team saves a player from a red card. And almost everybody is happy. A variation on this incident would be if a second defender saves the ball before it goes completely across the goal-line. In this scenario, the advantage was clearly lost and the penalty kick can be awarded and the first defender sent off.

I’d love to have you discuss this in the Ask-a-Ref forum so I can either reinforce or reform my understanding of what should be done on the field.

USSF answer (October 27, 2003):
While it is rarely useful to invoke the advantage clause within the penalty area, it can be done on some occasions. The trick is to keep quiet and see what happens (almost always good advice for a referee). The only advantage you apply in the penalty area is to see if a goal is scored almost immediately.

Many top referees, especially at the pro level, invoke the advantage without announcing it publicly. They allow the 2-3 seconds to go by and then either signal the advantage or call the foul. This will not always work either for them or for the less-experienced referee who is working at the U-12 level where everyone wants every “foul” called right away. (We have published this before, I am sure.) Or there is another way to look at it: instead of allowing the traditional 2-3 seconds to go by during which the foul could still be called if the advantage doesn’t develop or is lost, referees should call the foul and the resulting penalty kick if a goal is not scored more or less immediately following the foul.

As in many other situations, a good rule here would be to swallow your whistle and keep quiet. If a goal is scored anyway, despite the foul, rejoice that good fortune has vindicated your decision and that you didn’t inadvertently cancel the goal by blowing your whistle too early and turning the 100 percent goal into a merely 70+ percent goal (the ratio of successful penalty kicks to attempts). If the goal is not scored, blow your whistle, punish the offender, and restart with the penalty kick.

In addition, the defender who has tried to stop the goal with his hand MUST be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. And in your variation of the incident, you should still go back and stop the play and send off the first defender for denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball — and don’t forget to show the red card. Why would you let someone skate free for committing such serious misconduct?

All this, of course, would be done only if you wanted to control the game properly.


SUBSTITUTION AND WASTING TIME [LAW 3; LAW 7; LAW 18]
Your question:
If a coach is using substitutions at the end of a game (last 2 minutes) to delay, what is the correct procedure? Should the clock be stopped, or the sub disallowed?

USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
The referee may not refuse to allow a proper request for substitution. The only weapon the referee has is to add time if the referee believes the team officials are attempting to “kill the clock.”

However, the referee CAN refuse a substitution if the player coming on is not ready to enter at the time the substitution is being made. In at least this way, the referee can encourage expeditious substitutions. Additionally, he can require the player going off to leave the field at the closest point on the boundary lines instead of chewing up time by traipsing across the field.


WHODUNIT? [LAW 18]
Your question:
I would appreciate your insight and opinion on a situation I faced this last weekend. The facts (maybe more than you want or need) are:

Competition: State Cup under 14 year old boys
Time: About 20 minutes into 35 minute second half
Weather & misc. Clear and cool, field condition good, game start at 12:25 PM
Number of officials One certified center referee with 2 club ³lines²
Tenor of play: Competitive with a fair amount of physical play (but under control)
Score at time Defending team (Player A) 1 and attacking team (player B) 3
Situation: Player A of defending team has a throw-in own half (approx. 18 yard line), while player A was getting ready to take the throw-in the Center Referee (me) was reviewing a potential situation down the field. When the Center Referee turned to observe the throw-in he saw Player A kicking the ball. The appearance was of a kick after throw-in with no other touch by another player. After play was stopped it became apparent that the throw-in was taken by Player A and had stuck Player B from the attacking team and had rebound to Player A. The Center Referee (me) awarded a direct free kick to the attacking team.
Items to consider and logic for call. The following were considered before making the call:
1. The Player B impended the throw-in and should be cautioned for unsporting behavior ­ restart as a dropped ball
2. Player A touched the ball twice before being touched by another player ­ restart as an indirect kick to attacking team.
3. Player A struck Player B with ball – award direct free kick to attacking team for penal foul (issue a caution for unsporting behavior and/or reckless strike)
Decision was number three and no caution was given, as the Center Referee did not witness the event. Validity to the ball striking Player B was based on information from both players, even though the Referee did not observe.

Given the facts as stated I would be interested in gaining your insight as to the decision I made to award the direct free kick. I look forward to your sage advice.

Sage USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
Failing all other sources, there is nothing wrong with asking the players involved. As long as both sides agree, then the answer is probably correct. (And yes, you did supply too many details. The head spins!)

Our question is why you would award a direct free kick — or any free kick at all — given that there is no rule against throwing the ball at the back of an opponent, as long as it is not done recklessly or with excessive force. If no one suggested that there had been misconduct of any sort, i. e., something that merited either a caution or a send-off, then let it go.

Let this be a warning to all referees about making assumptions regarding things that they did not see (but should have). Given that the violation this referee initially thought occurred is so rare (particularly at that age level and in a state cup game), he should have employed Occam’s Razor and decided that the simplest explanation was the best and, in the absence of loud protests from the opponents, decided alternately that whatever happened, even if a violation, was doubtful or trifling.


DROPPED BALL [LAW 8]
Your question:
Adult men’s league game. Restart was a dropped ball. First attempt ball was kicked before it hit the ground. Second attempt, same thing. Third attempt, blue player steps around ball as it is dropping and shoulder charges white player away from ball. Ball hits ground and blue player kicks it to team mate. White player complains and asks for foul. I stated “no foul” and play went on. But I have to admit I empathize with white. Both players were within playing distance, the charge was legal, and thus my call. So why do I feel that white is right?

USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
You feel that white was right because he was closer to the truth than you and blue. At a dropped ball no player may play for the ball until it hits the ground. Nor may any player interfere with another’s ability to play the ball BEFORE IT IS IN PLAY — in other words, before it hits the ground. Nor may there be a foul committed before the ball is in play. The act by the blue player constituted unsporting behavior; the blue player should have been cautioned and shown the yellow card.


SAFETY OF PLAYER FOOTWEAR (AND OTHER EQUIPMENT) [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
I am a firm believer in safety on the pitch. I am looking for a definitive answer on footwear. I know the Laws of the Game only state that a player must wear shoes and I know it is up to the Referee to decide if they are safe or not. Well the local youth / adult soccer league here has been telling everyone that it is OK to wear baseball or football shoes as long as they cut off the toe cleat.

I think this a really bad practice because:
1- The other shoes tend to have several cleats that flair out from the sole and soccer cleats are recessed from the edges of the soles.
2- How much of the cleats need to be cut off? Answer ­ well there is no answer, and should they expect the referee to be the pitch with a ruler and knife?

Personally I find these shoes to be dangerous and I don¹t allow them on the pitch for the matches that I Ref. Well this starts problems with the coaches, players, and parents. Fights have nearly broken out over this. Quotes like ³The Ref last week allowed it² and ³We can¹t find soccer shoes or they are too expensive². Well the truth is soccer shoes are among cheapest of all sports shoes and if you really care about your child, your, or other player¹s safety it is worth the money. I want to know if is possible or at least I wish USSF would put some kind of definitive answer on this matter at least but something in the ³Advice to Referees.² If you want to wear cleats on the pitch they should at least be designed for soccer.

USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
Common sense and traditional practice dictate that players wear shoes designed for soccer, not shoes designed for some other sport and then modified by the player to use on the soccer field.

All referees must remember that they are not responsible for personally correcting any issues involving the field, the ball, or player equipment. Referees are responsible for determining whether the requirements of the Law are met, not for personally attending to them. For example, the referee should absolutely refuse to pump up balls, but should have handy a gauge to determine whether a ball is illegal, and might carry a pump, but use it only for emergencies when someone else, such as the coach, for example, pump up the ball. It is not the referee’s job to make a ball legal.

Neither should the referee carry net repair materials (tape or velcro strips) nor a lawnmower, a paint-striping machine, bags of kitty litter, or a shovel for filling in holes.

Any referee dumb enough to carry a knife and willing to use it to cut off a cleat which he has determined to be dangerous deserves every lawsuit someone might file against him.

If you need further information, you will find what every referee in the United States is taught about equipment in this memorandum of March 7, 2003:
QUOTE
Memorandum
To: State Referee Administrators cc: State Presidents
State Youth Referee Administrators Affiliated Members
State Directors of Referee Instruction
State Directors of Referee Assessment
National Assessors
National Instructors
National Referees

From: Julie Ilacqua
Managing Director of Federation Services

Re: Player’s Equipment

Date: March 7, 2003

________________________________________________________________

USSF has received a number of inquiries recently about how officials should handle situations where players wish to wear equipment that is not included in the list of basic compulsory equipment in FIFA Laws of the Game. Referees are facing increased requests from players for permission to wear kneepads, elbowpads, headbands, soft casts, goggles, etc.

The only concrete guidance in the Laws of the Game is found in Law 4:

“A player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player.”

This is followed by a list of required uniform items: jersey, shorts, socks, shoes, and shinguards. Obviously, this language is quite general. USSF suggests the following approach to issues involving player equipment and uniforms:

1. Look to the applicable rules of the competition authority.
Some leagues, tournaments, and soccer organizations have specific local rules covering player uniforms and what other items may or may not be worn on the field during play. Referees who accept match assignments governed by these rules are obligated to enforce them. Note, however, that local rules cannot restrict the referee’s fundamental duty to ensure the safety of players.

2. Inspect the equipment.
All items of player equipment and uniforms must be inspected. However, anything outside the basic compulsory items must draw the particular attention of the referee and be inspected with special regard to safety. USSF does not “pre-approve” any item of player equipment by type or brand — each item must be evaluated individually.

3. Focus on the equipment itself — not how it might be improperly used, or whether it actually protects the player.
Generally, the referee’s safety inspection should focus on whether the equipment has such dangerous characteristics as: sharp edges, hard surfaces, pointed corners, dangling straps or loops, or dangerous protrusions. The referee should determine whether the equipment, by its nature, presents a safety risk to the player wearing it or to other players. If the equipment does not present such a safety risk, the referee should permit the player to wear it.

The referee should not forbid the equipment simply because it creates a possibility that a player could use it to foul another player or otherwise violate the Laws of the Game. However, as the game progresses, an item that the referee allowed may become dangerous, depending on changes in its condition (wear and tear) or on how the player uses it. Referees must be particularly sensitive to unfair or dangerous uses of player equipment and must be prepared to order a correction of the problem whenever they become aware of it.

The referee also should not forbid the equipment because of doubts about whether it actually protects the player. There are many new types of equipment on the market that claim to protect players. A referee’s decision to allow a player to use equipment is not an endorsement of the equipment and does not signify that the referee believes the player will be safer while wearing the equipment.

4. Remember that the referee is the final word on whether equipment is dangerous.
Players, coaches, and others may argue that certain equipment is safe. They may contend that the equipment has been permitted in previous matches, or that the equipment actually increases the player’s safety. These arguments may be accompanied by manufacturer’s information, doctor’s notes, etc. However, as with all referee decisions, determining what players may wear within the framework of the Laws of the Game and applicable local rules depends on the judgment of the referee. The referee must strive to be fair, objective, and consistent, but the final decision belongs to the referee.
END OF QUOTE

The philosophy of the United States Soccer Federation is that every child who wants to should be able to play. However, we must respect the guiding principles of the Laws of the Game, particularly Law 4, which requires the referee to ensure that all players are given conditions in which they can play as safely as possible.


REFEREE DOWN [LAW 18]
Your question:
While a ball is still in play, the referee becomes diabled for whatever reason. As a result, he is unable to blow his whistle to stop play. Play continues. What is the correct procedure for the assistant referees? What should happen during the time that the ball is still in play while the referee is disabled? An example of this situation might be that a team is on the attack about to score and the referee has a debilitating medical condition like a heart attack at the same time. What should happen at that point? After the play has stopped, I know what should happen. I want to know what the procedure is when the ball is still in play.

USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
The game cannot be played without a referee. Play has effectively stopped when the referee goes down with the disability, whatever it may be and wherever the ball may be. If play has continued past this point, the ball must brought back to the spot where it was when the referee became disabled. Whichever of the assistant referees who observes the problem first must blow the whistle to ensure that the players stop playing — but, as stated above, play has actually stopped when the referee became disabled, so that nothing — other than misconduct — can happen after that time.


ACCIDENTAL VERSUS CARELESS [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
[NOTE: For the original item referred to in the question, see the archives for August 19, 2003 from the archives, ADVANTAGE; “INTENT” [LAW 5; LAW 12]] Thanks for all your help in maintaining “Ask a Referee”–I never fail to learn or be reminded of important things when I visit. However, I am confused by a recent response, even after a good deal of reflection and discussion with other refs.

You state in the following item from the archives [see ADVANTAGE; “INTENT” [LAW 5; LAW 12], dated August 19, 2003] that we do not have to judge intent–we judge the results of an act instead. So far so good–this takes us out of the requirement to read minds, and let’s us deal with observable events and consequences. However, in the next sentence you suggest we are allowed to distinguish between “accidental” and “deliberate”. What is the difference between a foul committed deliberately and one committed with intent? What is the difference between a careless action and an accidental one? This seems virtually the same as trying to judge intent–deliberation implies intent, and vice versa, does it not?

In particular, players often claim that their actions (which clearly caused results unfavorable to the opposing team) were accidental, and that a call or comment is therefore unwarranted. Let’s not focus on dissent, which we have plenty of tools to deal with, and instead focus on the point they are arguing. Are they essentially correct? Must we decide an action is deliberate before we whistle or admonish?

Consider the following: a blue defender running madly to catch a red attacker breaking toward goal apparently trips, and in falling catches the heels of the red attacker and trips her as well, thus thwarting the attack. If we judge only the result and not intent, there is a foul to be called against blue (at a minimum). If we must judge accident vs. deliberate, we will need nearly psychic powers, at least in subtle cases. It seems to me that the red attacker racing toward the goal (perhaps with only the blue keeper to beat) is robbed if she is brought down from behind and gets no call.

It makes sense that we would probably whistle the above case because of a) the profound effect the trip had, even if it was truly accidental, and b) because it will often be impossible to truly determine whether it was accidental or not. Weren’t the laws changed to get us out of the business of judging intent, which may well involve mind-reading?

Another case: two players approaching more or less head-on contending for a ball; the red player gets there first (but not by much) and plays it away, the blue player arrives just a moment after and flattens the red player. The whistle blows, and the blue player cries out that they couldn’t stop, it was an accident, they were playing the ball. Now, if it was essentially simultaneous in the refs opinion, maybe the ref wouldn’t have whistled (tough, combative contest and all the rest . . .), and if the two players had bounced apart with no harm, once again the whistle might have remained quiet. But, if the effect is substantial enough (flattening the red player), it doesn’t take much of a time difference (between playing the ball and subsequent collision) for the ref to decide to call a foul–it may have been an accident, but it was also careless, reckless, or worse. Once again, the effect of the action seems most important.

I am not arguing that we would never call something an accident–clearly accidental (and incidental) contact happens often enough, and if the effect on the game is insignificant, we don’t whistle it. Similarly, we may observe one player target another player rather than the ball and take that into consideration.

My main point, however, is that where the stakes are large and every tactic is used to the maximum degree, I would think “accident” would not frequently excuse perpetrators from their (foul) deeds–the action itself and its effect would be the primary considerations. The accident vs. deliberate judgement would supplement these only in if there was pretty clear evidence to work with. And as always, the ref must consider all factors in the context of player and match management, with the overarching goals of safety, equality, and enjoyment.

But, I may well be wrong–looking forward to your help!

USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
Sorry, but we do not run through laundry lists to answer questions.

There is only a slight difference between accidental and careless — and the difference is illustrated in the example you cite. We judge the result of the contact, not the intent — and “intent” here means did the player _intend_ to hit that particular part of the person, not did the player do the act deliberately. Of course most fouls are “deliberate.”

Please follow the yellow brick road through the definitions and philosophy below. There you will find the Magnificent Wizard of Oz, who will reveal all — without having the curtain “out” him.

Whatever we referees do on the field should NOT be affected one way or the other by the significance of the game or the “profound effect” of the action. Bad luck is bad luck, regardless of how bad the luck is, and we mustn’t punish bad luck no matter how profound its effect. What CAN be said is that it takes more courage NOT to convert bad luck into a foul when the luck is really bad. This can be illustrated by the tendency of many referees to decide to call something a foul because it produced, for example, a broken leg when they wouldn’t have called it a foul if it produced merely a sprain.

Players seldom enter the field with the intent of illegally tripping someone, but if they do so as a result of a deliberate act which is judged to be careless, reckless, or involving excessive force, then they should be punished.

Intentional and deliberate are different. “Intent” focuses on the end result of an action, whereas “deliberate” is a consideration in connection with the action itself. If I wave a loaded gun about and twirl it around my finger, I should be punished if the gun discharges, even though my immediate response would be that this was not my “intent.” And if the discharge results in someone’s death, we could likely agree that I did not intend to kill this person. But my action was deliberate and careless — indeed, reckless. If, on the other hand, while walking down the street I was suddenly startled by a gun tossed in my direction and, as it fumbled in my hands, it discharged, I was neither careless nor reckless and my action was certainly neither intentional nor deliberate. It was an accident, and remains an accident even if the discharge kills a bystander (clearly a profound effect).

On the soccer field, the referee has a broad spectrum of events and possibilities to consider. It starts at one end with the player with fire in his eyes who pursues an opponent and performs a prohibited act against him. This is certainly an example of someone whose intent was clear in addition to his action being deliberate. At the other end, we have the player who trips, falls, and in falling makes inadvertent contact with an opponent who is thereby adversely affected in some way (he himself falls, he misses a shot on goal, etc.) — no intent, no deliberate act, nothing careless or reckless. In between these extremes is where we earn our money.

As we have stated consistently, the referee must take into account the skill and experience of the player(s). An action at a lower level of skill is more likely to be accidental or, at worst, careless than the same action (regardless of effect) at a higher level of skill. As is often noted, little happens unintentionally at the highest skill levels.


RESTARTS KICKED INTO OWN GOAL [LAW 13]
Your question:
Direct or indirect free kick by the defending team kicked in your own goal in the penalty area, what is the restart? Also if indirect freekick is passed to your goalkeeper in the penalty area and he touches the ball with his feet but it goes into the goal what is the restart?

USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
For kicks that go directly into the kicker’s own goal, much depends on where the kick was taken. You will find the answers in Law 13. If the kick, direct or indirect, was taken inside the team’s own penalty area and was kicked directly into the team’s own goal, the restart is a retake of the original kick. The ball must leave the penalty area into the field of play to be in play. If the kick, direct or indirect, was taken outside the team’s own penalty area and was kicked directly into the team’s own goal, the restart is a corner kick.

For the indirect free kick that is touched by the goalkeeper and then goes into goal, the original kick is retaken if the kick was taken inside the penalty area, as the ball is not in play until it leaves the penalty area. If the kick was taken outside the penalty area, the goal must be scored.


PUNISHING MISCONDUCT AFTER APPLICATION OF ADVANTAGE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
A local league has had difficulty furnishing assignors for over a year. Under the emergency clause they handled the Fall of 2002 and the Spring of 2003 before obtaining the services of a licensed assignor who took the assignor course in August in order to become the league’s official assignor for this Fall’s games. However this assignor utilizes a number of club representatives who actually recruit and obtain referees for USSF sanctioned youth competitions as his agents. He is not involved in the actual process of assigning referees to games but will call or email a confirmation upon request. My question is will USSF licensed referees who take games from these agents be covered by USSF liability insurance should it become required? Does the emailed or telephoned confirmation from the licensed assignor make any difference to the same question? Does the fact that these agents report back their “assignment” of referees to games to the licensed assignor make any difference in the USSF liability coverage and your answer? Under exactly what conditions should referees take games under such circumstances? Thanks in advance.

USSF answer (October 23, 2003):
As long as the referees are affiliated with USSF and the teams are affiliated with USSF, there should be no problem with insurance coverage.

However, the other assignors may have a problem if they are not registered. If the registered assignor actually makes the assignment, but just has other people call the referees to give them the assignments or to confirm, then we believe that would probably be ok. Of course, anyone can assign the purely recreational games, so if the registered assignor made the assignments for the competitive teams, the others could do the recreational teams.


PUNISHING MISCONDUCT AFTER APPLICATION OF ADVANTAGE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
I was the referee in a fairly hotly contested U19 Boys match recently. A reckless tackle occurred by team A near the center circle, but team B’s midfielder was not dispossessed of the ball.  Since it looked like a good scoring opportunity may be developing, I shouted “advantage play on”, gave the advantage signal and allowed play to continue. I made a mental note to caution the team A player that committed the foul at the next stoppage of play.  Team B was not able to score and play continued for a full seven minutes before a natural stoppage of play occurred. By that time all players involved had forgotten the circumstances of the original foul and I ended up not cautioning the team A player. Should I have stopped play to administer the foul after a reasonable length of time had passed without a natural stoppage? Should I have cautioned team A’s player anyway after seven minutes had elapsed and taken the time to explain to him why he was being cautioned. I didn’t do that because I felt that it would have taken too long to explain to everyone why I was cautioning the player and it would have been counterproductive to the natural flow of the game. I did verbally warn the player to watch his tackles in the future. What was/is the correct procedure?

USSF answer (October 15, 2003):
There is no time limit on punishing misconduct if the game has not been stopped after the application of advantage. The referee should simply point to the place where the original foul and misconduct occurred and then caution the player for unsporting behavior and show the yellow card.

However, the referee should have made an effort to tell the player some time early during the 7-minute stretch that he will be cautioned during the next stoppage and to say it loud enough that a few others hear it too. Of course, the referee must then follow through as promised, but this way it will not come as a surprise to the player in question.


PLEASE! DELIBERATE HANDLING MUST BE DELIBERATE!!! [LAW 1]
Your question:
Team A had posession of the ball, no one was off sides. Team B’s goalie tried to come out for the ball and was not able to gain posession of it. Meanwhile team A kept posession of the ball and kicked the ball towards the goal. A defender on team B had her hands above her head, and her hands kept the ball from entering the goal. The referee ruled that it was unintentional and gave team A a penalty kick in front of the goal. The referee also showed the defender whose hands had touched the ball a yellow card. Should that have been a goal as the defender’s hands prevented the ball from crossing into the goal, or should it just have been a penalty kick. Also should it be a yellow or a red card. The coach from Team A talked to the referee at halftime, and the referee said it was unintentional.

USSF answer (October 15, 2003):
This situation is so full of referee and spectator/coach errors as to be almost unbelievable — but we do believe it.

If the defender’s act was “unintentional,” then there should have been no call at all, and certainly not a penalty kick. The word “intentional” does not exist in the Laws of the Game, which actually refer to “deliberate” handling by a player. The key to understanding the act is to distinguish between what seems natural and what is contrived. If the player could not move her hand quickly enough to escape the contact between ball and hand (fingertip to shoulder), then there was likely no foul. However, if she left her hand there when it could have been moved, there may well have been a foul.

The referee cannot award a goal if the ball does not cross the goal line between the goal posts and beneath the crossbar. If the referee believed the defender’s act to be a foul, then a penalty kick is the only possible restart.

If, by deliberately handling the ball, the defender denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity, she should be sent off and shown the red card, not cautioned and shown the yellow card.


GOALKEEPER PROTECTION [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
We recently had a referee meeting where the following scenario came up. Team A is attacking in the penalty area. An attacker for A lofts the ball which as it falls is on a trajectory to land outside the goal mouth. The keeper steps to a position where the ball will land, raises his arms, and awaits the ball. With the ball within a yard of reaching his hands, an attacker legal shoulder charges him, pushing him a foot or two from his position, then cleanly flicks the ball into the back of the net with his head. Was this challenge legal?

In the referee meeting, it was hard to dispute that this was legal yet most officials felt they would call a foul (Spirit of the Game?).

USSF answer (October 15, 2003):
While the goalkeeper no longer has the former protection granted him in the goal area, he is still protected from illegal charges. This one is hard to answer, as it sounds as if it were a “youhaddabethere” incident. It might have been legal or illegal. Under any circumstances, it would require a lot of courage for the referee to call a legal charge in this case.


KICKING OR ATTEMPTING TO KICK THE GOALKEEPER [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
If a ball is inches from a keeper’s hands and face and an attacker takes a full kick (using maximum force, “knowing” it would likely harm his opponent), hitting the ball first, can there be a misconduct or foul (which one)? Does it matter if the foot naturally follows through and kicks the keeper (after hitting the ball), or the ball does the damage?  My assumption is most would agree that this type of play by the attacker would be likely to harm the keeper – but foul or misconduct?

USSF answer (October 14, 2003):
The referee is required to punish the result of the _act_ of kicking, not the “intent.” In fact, the word “intent” is no longer in the Laws of the Game. If the player kicks or attempt to kick the ball into the goalkeeper’s face and, despite the fact that we do not punish “intent,” the referee believes there was malice aforethought, the player should be sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card. The same for kicking the ‘keeper in the face. Direct free kick, send-off and red card for serious foul play.


COACH ABUSE OF PLAYERS [LAW 5]
Your question:
Was recently working a U14B premier division game as a center during a tournament. During warmups before the game started, it was apparent that one of the coaches continually yelled at and berated his own players almost constantly. At no time were this coach’s comments ever directed at me, my assistants, or the opponents. As a result I took no action against him. I must admit that it bothered me greatly that this coach felt obligated to abuse his own players almost non-stop.

In hindsight, could I have taken action under Law 5 and cited the irresponsible behavior of this coach for conduct bringing disrepect on the game?

USSF answer (October 13, 2003):
A very interesting question. There is a national trend within the soccer community toward eliminating abuse of young people by any adults. You, as referee, are certainly empowered to ensure responsible behavior by the team officials. The method you choose would be up to you. One method might involve a quiet word with the coach.

In all events you should prepare a supplemental game report or letter to the league on the matter. You might also suggest in the report or letter that they send someone to monitor a couple of games. The letter could be written in such a way that says perhaps the coach was having a bad day, but it should suggest that it might be beneficial to the children involved if someone from the league dropped in for a game or two just to make sure.


WRONG-SIZED BALL [LAW 2; LAW 18]
Your question:
A match is started with a ball provided by the home team that is the incorrect size for the age group playing, i.e. size 5 vs 4. A goal is scored within the first 5-6 minutes of play by the home team. Prior to the restart, an opposing team coach notices that the ball is too large & brings it to the CR’s attention. The CR agrees & requires that the proper size 4 ball be provided. The coach asks that the goal be nullified and the referee refuses. Was this the correct call?

USSF answer (October 7, 2003):
The goal should be allowed. Although the equipment (ball) was of the incorrect size, both teams had an equal “handicap” in playing it.


WHEN IS VISIBILITY TOO POOR TO PLAY? [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
When is the game called because of poor visibility? Is this strictly a judgement call by the referee? I have heard that you had to be able to see the opposing goal when standing on the opposite goal line. What is the rule?

USSF answer (October 6, 2003):
Didn’t you know that all referees, once they pass the test, automatically become Superman clones? They can see through anything, so there is no problem with fog or smoke or players’ bodies, etc.

Seriously, there is nothing on the books. It is all in the opinion of the referee, based on the need to protect the safety of the players. One rule of thumb that is fairly reliable is this: If the referee, standing near midfield, can’t see either goal, it is probably time to call the game.


REFEREES AND HEARING [LAW 18]
Your question:
I’ve been doing a lot of games this fall. After doing a few games in a row, I’ve noticed that my ears are ringing from the whistle. In looking around the internet, I found several postings on hearing related issues and hearing protection for referees. The recommendation of several sites, mostly volleyball related, was for the officials to wear ear plugs if they do more than a few games a week.

The University of Maryland Center for Environment Science, Horn Point Laboratory, lists decibel levels of common sounds, including referee whistles –
http://www.hpl.umces.edu/safety/Hearing/Hearingntro.htm#Sound%20is%20all%20around%20us.

I love officiating, but I don’t want to be hearing impaired from it. Is there anything already published on this topic that I can review? What’s the USSF position on hearing protection (ear plugs) for officials? Any recommendations on how to reduce the hearing impact of officiating (using it only as needed to control the game), but still being able to use the whistle as an effective officiating tool? Any recommendations on whistle types that have a lower hearing impact but still get the message across?

USSF answer (October 6, 2003):
We must admit that the matter of hearing problems in referees has never come up before. We are not familiar with any literature on the topic, nor with any research on the matter.

The U. S. Soccer Federation does not take a position on the matter of referees wearing hearing protection (ear plugs), as long as it does not affect the referee’s professional appearance, nor can the Federation make any recommendations on types of whistles or how to reduce the impact of whistles on hearing.

We are, of course, concerned about the health of referees, but the questions you submit are outside our area of competence. However, if the truth were to be known, we wish more referees would close their ears a bit and get on with refereeing.


AR INDICATION FOR INDIRECT FREE KICK? [LAW 1]
Your question:
The AR puts the flag up to indicate a foul in his/her quadrant. The center ref makes eye contact, the AR wiggles the flag to indicate a foul and points in the direction of the free kick. How does the AR indicate whether it’s an INDIRECT free kick?

USSF answer (October 6, 2003):
The process is outlined in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials” on pages 11 and 12.

After stopping play for the foul, the referee “confers with assistant referee, if necessary, to confirm the nature of the infringement (keeps field in view while moving to touch line and while conferring).”

There is no “official” signal to indicate an indirect free kick. The referee should be intelligent enough to figure out the foul for himself. If not, then the referee and the assistant referees should agree on a special signal during the pregame discussion.


WHAT IS “BLATANT HOLDING” [LAW 12]
Your question:
Can you further illuminate what FIFA is looking for with the concern expressed about blatant holding? A number of questions have come up locally about this topic, and it would be nice to have a few resources to point out.

Holding and Pulling
The International FA Board has expressed its concern at the amount of holding and pulling which is prevalent in football today. It recognised that not every instance of holding and pulling of jerseys and shorts is unsporting behaviour, as is also the case with deliberate handball. It expressed regret, however, that Referees were not applying the Laws fully in dealing with blatant cases of holding and pulling and issued the following Mandatory Instruction for season 2001/2002:

“Referees are instructed that, in the case of blatant holding and pulling, the offence must be sanctioned by a direct free kick, or a penalty kick if the offence is committed inside the penalty area, and the player must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour.”

Some guidelines on what to look for to label a holding foul as blatant, and thus requiring a caution, would be most appreciated. My dictionary defines it as “offensively conspicuous, obtrusive (undesirably noticeable, unattractively showy), obvious.”

Most holding is obvious, or obviously we wouldn’t call it, right? So, it must involve something that elevates it above a simple foul. Since holding is one of those fouls which must just happen, no careless, reckless or violence judgment required, how does a referee decide it is now blatant, as opposed to “just” holding?

USSF answer (October 6, 2003):
Perhaps it is easier to ask the referee (and the players) to consider the difference between deliberately handling a ball or pushing or holding an opponent, simple fouls that anyone can recognize, and the blatant (hyper-obvious) handling or pushing or holding which truly violate the Spirit of the Game and must be punished with a caution and yellow card. But it is sometimes difficult to translate the concept into words. Location of foul and level of play are other important considerations, but there is no checklist for the referee to follow, as in the case of the denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

According to Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, Unabridged, blatant means “offensively obtrusive; demanding undue or involuntary attention, as by vulgar ostentation or by tasteless or inconsiderate conduct; coarse.” Thus “blatant” can be said to mean “beyond obvious and approaching Fourth of July fireworks.” An obvious act is not necessarily blatant; it is simply obvious to the observer. The blatant act calls particular attention to itself and thus qualifies as well beyond merely obvious. It has nothing to do with force per se, but with the way in which it goes so far outside the necessary.


BLOWING THE WHISTLE TOO QUICKLY [LAW 10; LAW 18]
Your question:
The following happened to me last weekend at a youth tournament. The attacking team takes a shot on goal and an obvious handball by the defending team in the PA ensues. Instinctively I blow my whistle for a PK. However, by the time the whistle sounds, the ball is already in the goal. I pointed to the center mark and let the goal stand. No one complained. In fact, no one even noticed, presumably because many referees (I am not one of them) blow their whistle upon a goal being scored. My question: did I act correctly under the circumstance or should I have “enforced” my own initial decision (PK), keeping in mind the rule that the game stops when the referee intends to blow the whistle, not when it actually sounds. On the other hand, could one argue that enforcing my decision would only have compounded my earlier mistake of too quick a whistle (instead of letting advantage develop)? Should the fact that no one noticed my mistake have affected my decision to count the goal from a “common sense” perspective (i.e., let sleeping dogs lie)?

USSF answer (October 5, 2003):
The referee’s power to display a red card and send off a player who should have been sent off is indisputable. In this case ATR 5.14 would apply (see below) and the red card may be shown and the player sent from the field even if play has been (incorrectly) restarted.

QUOTE
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.
END OF QUOTE

Referees must remember that play is stopped when the referee makes a decision, not when the decision is announced, and the referee can call back ANY restart if he/she has already decided to hold up the restart in order to give a red card. The referee must include full details in the match report. (Next time you might want to remember that if you have blown the whistle prior to the ball entering the goal, then there has been no goal.)


PLAYING SHORT AFTER A SEND-OFF IN HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER [LAW 12]
Your question:
At the high school level, if a player receives a red card, they are removed from the field and out of the game, can they be replaced on the field? or does the team have to play man down the rest of the game? If a team receives two red card on the same call are both players removed and the team must play two men down?

USSF answer (October 2, 2003):
National Federation (high school) rules are the same as for FIFA on this subject (with a couple of exceptions). The basic answer is, yes, the team must play down for each red card received by a player. The two major exceptions are, first, playing down is not required in high school if the red card is received during the halftime break and, second, playing down is not required in high school if the reason for the red card falls into a category commonly referred to as “soft red” offenses (Rule 12-8-2) — taunting, excessive celebration of a goal, or having received two cautions.

Please note that this site can only offer personal and unofficial guidance on matters which do not come under The Laws of the Game. For authoritative answers to questions about National Federation rules, you should address your query to your state interpreter.


DOES THE REFEREE’S CALL AFFECT THE GAME? [LAW 1]
Your question:
I’ve always heard that a ref’s decisions should take into account whether it will affect the final outcome of the game, but I cannot find any reference to this anywhere except for a brief mention in the instruction materials, of avoiding undue interference – is there any specific instruction about this topic? I can’t find anything in the LOTG or position papers, so I’m wondering if this is just extemporaneous on the part of those who’ve expounded this philosophy?

USSF answer (September 30, 2003):
You will find as you go through life those who pay no attention to the rules of the game they are engaged in, whether as players and referees, colleagues in the office, boss and employee, or members of the same family. These people make up their own rules to suit their current need. As you have learned in your research, there is no such requirement in the Laws of the Game, in the position papers from the U. S. Soccer Federation, or in anything published by FIFA. Why would that be?

Every call the referee makes affects the final outcome of the game. Everything the players do affects the final outcome of the game. The weather and the condition of the field affect the final outcome of the game. We are human beings, subject to human whims and failings. We make mistakes — even coaches make mistakes, but you will not get them to admit it.

The referee should call the game in accordance with the Laws of the Game and the players should play it the same way. If a player infringes upon the Law, then he or she — and therefore the team — must be punished. Lex dura sed lex — the law is hard but it is the law. Everything that happens from kick-off to the last whistle affects the final outcome of the game.

Don’t let the “philosophers” ruin your game.


‘KEEPERS AND FIELD MARKINGS [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
There is a debate about the keeper handling and the correct restart. If the keeper, while in possession of the ball, crosses over the penalty area line and takes the ball with him/her in order to punt the ball away. What is the correct restart if the official signals for handling?

USSF answer (September 29, 2003):
The correct answer, if the referee believes the act to be a foul, is to restart with a direct free kick. In most cases, the intelligent referee will take a moment and warn the goalkeeper on the first occurrence. Then, if it happens again, the referee will apply the Law as written.

It would be well to reference an answer given here back in April: The referee need consider only this: Was there an offense? Could it have been called? Should it be called if, in the opinion of the referee, the infraction was doubtful or trifling? No.

The intelligent referee’s action: If the goalkeeper’s actions had no obvious effect on play and were accepted by both teams, consider the infringement to have been trifling and let it go. If it was not trifling, punish it.

Trifling is trifling when the result of the action makes absolutely no difference to the game. Or, in other words, when the result is to get the ball back into play, the Law has been served and what comes after that is just part of the game.

Doubtful means it probably wasn’t a foul at all, but people reacted and started asking for the doubtful “foul” to be called.

The “severity” of the infringement is not the issue; the issue is what effect did it have. The intelligent referee’s action: If the infringement had no obvious effect on play, consider the infringement to have been trifling and let it go. If it was not trifling, punish it.


CHANGING SHIRTS AND NUMBERS [LAW 3; LAW 18]
Your question:
I know the sanctions in Law 12 regarding a player and goalkeeper changing places without notifiying the referee, and have read your explanation. However, a question came up today that I was unable to find the answer to. What if two players change uniforms, either during the game or at halftime, without informing the referee?

Is this a breach of the Laws, if so which one? What course of action should the referee take (if any) if this unannounced switch is made?

USSF answer (September 29, 2003):
While player numbers are not required by the Laws of the Game, they are required by most competitions in which players participate. Numbers are meant to provide an identifying symbol so that referees and administrators know which player is which. Obviously, they are also used by opposing players to identify which opponent is the one to mark more closely. Because the numbers are supposed to be confined to the player to whom they were originally issued, changing uniforms at halftime or during the game is considered to constitute that form of misconduct known as “bringing the game into disrepute.” Players who do this should be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. (But please check the local rules of competition to be safe. In the absence of such a rule, neither opponents nor the referee should count on a number attaching irrevocably to a player. Indeed, they could just as easily have no numbers at all!)

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.


WHAT IS THE FOOT? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
If the hand is considered everything from the shoulder down, what is the “foot”? Is it the entire leg or the actual physical foot?
[NOTE: The questioner asked about a question dated May 12, 2003 regarding a deliberate pass to the goalkeeper; see the Archives.]

USSF answer (September 14, 2003):
In an answer published in February 2002 we defined kicking thusly: “To kick is to play the ball with the foot, which is defined as anything at the ankle or below. Thus, the only legal means of restarting with a “kick” is to play the ball with the foot.”

This definition applies only to restarts. We can envision — and have seen — those instances on the field where a player inadvertently “kicks” the ball with his shin. That inadvertent act, too, would qualify as kicking, but only during active play.


CAUTION FOR PLAYING DANGEROUSLY? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I have a question about the penalty for dangerous play against a GK. It seems if the goalie has possession of the ball and the attacker makes a dangerous play, the penalty is actually worse for the goalie’s team. That is, an indirect free kick near the goal is better for the attacking team than a goalie kick near the 18 yard line. I know I could give a yellow card but our region frowns on that for U10s. Do I understand the rules correctly?

USSF answer (September 14, 2003):
It would be rare indeed for an act of playing dangerously to be considered misconduct, unless it involved denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity. The referee must call the game the way the Law is written, not the way the Law “should be” written.


HAVE THE COURAGE TO MAKE THE CALL!!! [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
We were taught players could exert shoulder to shoulder pressure against an opponent to gain possession of the ball. Now we see players who immediately raise their arms to block or fend off an opponent and thus gain possession of the ball. At one time this action was considered “holding” or “pushing” and was called a foul. We were told to “play the ball and not the man.” Today’s referees no longer call this holding off of an opponent a foul. Additionally, in trying to win possession many players will first force the opposing players away from the ball by any means and then collect the ball. Again, the first play seems to be to push the opposing player and only then play the ball.

It now seems that when you are within a stride or two of the ball you can do anything to your opponent to gain possession.  The refs rarely call fouls in these situations.  Just what are you allowed to do to your opponent to gain possession? Or what can’t one do? What has changed?

USSF answer (September 14, 2003):
The pushing and holding off you describe is a coached action, used because referees have shown they do not have the courage to call foul play. It is just one of many acts that are not properly punished.


HEADBANDS OR SWEATBANDS [LAW 4; LAW 18]
Your question:
What is your advice on how to handle those players that want to wear a sweatband on their head or sweatbands on their wrists. Their reasons are of course that they don’t want sweat dripping into their eyes. I have never considered these items as necessary or part of standard equipment and I ask players to remove them.

USSF answer (September 12, 2003):
Sweatbands and headbands are generally accepted as supplementary player equipment throughout the world. The referee is the sole judge of the permissibility of these items, which must meet the requirement in Law 4 that they not be dangerous to any player. The referee’s opinion would be guided by a recent FIFA circular and the USSF memorandum of March 7, 2003, on player equipment. Other guidance might come from local competition authority requirements.


ARE THERE ANY RULES FOR COACHES? [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
During a quarter final game this week I was surprised to see the coach of the opposing team not only come over to the other team’s side to instruct his players, but right in front of the other coach, as well as being on the playing field and with one of his players beside him, bouncing and playing with a ball in his hand. At one point during play the coach was almost in the goal box of the opposing team. He was asked to move a few times and just ignored the requests. The referee was told, and choose to ignore this as well. This is a U10 Boys house league. Just wondering what your thought is.

USSF answer (September 12, 2003):
In an answer of October 22, 2002, we noted: “The Laws of the Game tell us that ‘[a]ll [team] officials must remain within the confines of the technical area, where such area is provided, and they must behave in a responsible manner.’ The Laws also tell us about the technical area and its measurements. Without going into precise detail on the matter, we can agree that this suggests that — no matter how innocent their intentions — team officials should remain along the touch line and stay out of areas where they could be considered to be interfering with play or not behaving in a responsible manner, even in under-tiny soccer. Spectators may remain behind the goal line, but only if they are far enough away so as not to interfere with the game.”

We can add that, under the Law, any POSITIVE coaching is allowed from the technical area, as long as only one person speaks at a time and then returns to his seat on the bench. As a practical matter, particularly at the youth level, any POSITIVE coaching is allowed. In either case, whether at the level of the least experienced players (and coaches) or at the highest levels, any case in which the coach behaves irresponsibly will result in the coach being dismissed. (Two examples from among many: ranting at the referee, overt participation in deception of the opposing team.)

On August 29, 2003, we asked: “Where do people get the idea that coaches have the right to do anything but prepare their players for the game?” And then we answered our question by noting that a coach has no “right” to anything in the game of soccer, other than the right to conduct himself responsibly during the game — from within the technical or bench area — while offering advice to his players. A referee who allows coaches or other team officials to parade around the field, in contravention of the requirements in Law 5 that coaches behave responsibly and that referees not permit anyone other than players to enter the field, should be ashamed.


SHIELDING THE BALL/LEAVING THE FIELD OF PLAY [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
A striker, protecting a 1-goal lead late in the game, dribbles the ball to the corner flag and parks it right on the opponents goal line, then aggressively and legally shields a defender who is trying to get the ball without giving up a corner kick. To me, this stops “the continuous flow of action” that the rules attempt to create, thus interfering with the spirit of the game, and also raises the ire of the opposing team due to the stalling and aggressive shielding. So I stopped play, called “unsporting behavior”, and gave an indirect kick to the defending team. I issued no yellow card, invoking law 18 for a “victimless crime”. The striker was hot, claiming what he was doing was a legal play.

My action would appear to be justified by “commits any other offense not previously mentioned in law 12” clause, except I did not issue a yellow card. Was I wrong for stopping play, or wrong for not giving a yellow card, or is there a better way to deal with this situation?

USSF answer (September 10, 2003):
Why ever would you caution a player for unsporting behavior for performing a perfectly legitimate act? Any player is allowed to shield the ball from all comers if he remains within playing distance of the ball. And there is a perfectly legitimate way to get around this shielding, too. Read on.

In the normal course of events, players are expected to remain on the field of play. However, they are allowed to leave the field to retrieve balls for restarts on the boundary lines (corner kicks and throw-ins), balls that left the field after fouls or misconduct, and to avoid opponents blocking their way or to get to the ball still in play, as well as to perform the restart itself. It is clear from reading the literature from the IFAB and FIFA that a player in the situation you describe is allowed to leave the field during the course of play to get to the ball while it is still in play. The referee should not consider this act to be a cautionable offense, but rather to be smart soccer.


REFEREES, USE YOUR BRAINS! [LAW 18]
Your question:
Last night at a U13 Boys game, a player on my team scored on a quick one touch from a cross. The ball went directly into the back of the goal without the keeper touching it. The certified center referee signaled a goal for appox. 3 seconds and headed to the center of the field, my team set up for the kickoff. About 3 seconds after signaling goal, the CR looked over at the AR who was on the goal side and noticed him flapping the flag in front of him. The CR went to the AR and asked him why he was flapping the flag, the CR asked him if it was a goal, he said “no”, the AR thought he said “did you see a foul”. At this point, the CR took the ball and did a drop at the defenders 18 with my team setup for a kickoff. I immediately asked the AR, what happened, he said “I don’t know, I thought you scored a goal”. At halftime, I asked the CR what happened and he indicated the AR had said there was no goal. I asked him to talk to the AR. He came back and apoligized, he had misunderstood the AR. Does the goal count?

USSF answer (September 9, 2003):
May the fleas of a thousand camels infest, etc., etc., both of these referees for taking away your team’s goal, and may their arms be too short for them to scratch. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done about it now. Once the referee has restarted the game, the goal may not be scored again.


PLEASE — DO NOT PUNISH NON-EXISTENT FOULS! [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
White team is attacking and just over the half way line. The ball is kicked in a manner that causes it to deflect off a player and make a high arch towards Red’s goal. There is four red players standing in a line about 14 yards from the goal. They are all within the penalty area. The ball comes straight down on top of one Red player who is in line with the other three. Because of the ball’s shadow? the player flinches and reacts by batting the ball straight down with her hand. The ball ends up in the same place as if the player would not have touched it with her extended hand. There is no white player within 10 yards of where this occured. The red player does not play the ball because she knows she touched it with her hand. The ball ends up in a position that is neutral to both red and white (no advantage to either team).

Is the referee supposed to award a penalty kick by letter of the law or let common sense rule and tell the players to “play on – no foul”.

USSF answer (September 9, 2003):
Neither decision you suggest is correct. If the situation was exactly as you describe it, then no foul was committed and the referee need not say anything.

If the players appear confused by the events, the referee might say “no foul” or something similar to ensure that play continues, but he cannot say “play on,” because there was no foul.


DEALING WITH SLIDING TACKLES [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I checked the archives and could not find an answer to my exact question, but there were a few involving goalkeepers that were close. I would really like your input.

On a girls under 14 game with good skilled players on competitive teams. A long kick is played behind the red teams defenders and is rolling toward the red goal. A blue player has sprinted to the ball and is about to begin dribbling toward goal and a shot. A speedy red player is pursuing from a slight angle and behind the blue player. The red player slides from a slight angle and behind the blue player and kicks the ball out of the blue player’s path thwarting the attack. The red player’s momentum carries her into the path of the blue player’s legs and sends the blue player flying head over heals. There was no opportunity for the blue player to have seen the red player, or been aware of her presence and the ensuing slide tackle.

On this play the referee made no call. The player sent flying later became dizzy and left the field. She collapsed about 10 minutes later and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. The doctors have indicated a concussion and strained neck. In addition the game became much more physical with both teams fouling hard at every opportunity, and parents becoming very upset because of the injured player.

This is a dangerous tactic to prevent an attack and is considered by most to be fair because the defender got the ball first. I say who cares who got the ball first the play was dangerous, and the referee has a responsibility to take some action. The blue team thought they had received no justice and decided to get some on their own.

What do you say?

USSF answer (September 9, 2003):
There is no black-or-white answer to your question. 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.

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. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.

While one may (and should) sympathize with the injured player, soccer is a tough, competitive sport, and injuries can happen with no associated infringement of the Law. Players who act on the basis of the opposite presumption, abetted by like-minded spectators, do the sport no good.

Finally, “getting the ball first” has NEVER been absolution for whatever else may happen during or immediately after the tackle.


THE ASSISTANT REFEREE AND THE ADVANTAGE CLAUSE [LAW 5; LAW 6]
Your question:
Can the AR invoke the advantage clause as outlined in Law 5?

USSF answer (September 9, 2003):
The assistant referee (AR) may not and cannot invoke the advantage clause. That is reserved solely for the referee. However, the CONCEPT of advantage is used by the AR in deciding whether to give a signal in the first place. The AR should make use of the advantage concept as part of his duty under Law 6 to signal for infringements occurring out of the view of the referee. While not a formal “call” and with no signal as such, ARs should keep the flag down even for violations out of the referee’s view IF the referee would likely have applied advantage if he had seen it (or likewise, in the alternative, would have considered the violation trifling).


SHINGUARDS [LAW 4]
Your question:
Is there a rule concerning the position of the shin guard as it pertains to a high school soccer player? It appears to be fashionable to wear short guards. Is this allowed?

USSF answer (August 29, 2003):
We cannot comment on whatever rules may govern the position of the shinguard for high school players. As for players in USSF matches, Law 4 is clear in leaving to the referee the responsibility of determining not only if the shinguards are present but also if they are being worn properly. After all, shinguards cannot protect the shin (shinguard = guard the shin) if they do not cover the shin. The shinguard must provide adequate protection for the player. The decision lies with the referee, not some fashionista.


QUICK FREE KICK/COACHES’ RIGHTS [LAW 5; LAW 13]
Your question:
A direct kick foul is called. The teams line up for the restart. The coach for the team taking the free kick hollers for ten yards. A quick look at the positioning of the players shows the defending team about 8 yards away. The player taking the kick starts his motion towards the ball with the coach still hollering for ten yards. The kick is taken and goes well over the goal post. The coach protest that he has the right to ask for ten yards. Should the referee act on the coaches request for ten yards or should the request come only from the field players?

USSF answer (August 29, 2003):
Where do people get the idea that coaches have the right to do anything but prepare their players for the game? A coach has no “right” to anything in the game of soccer, other than the right to conduct himself responsibly during the game while offering advice to his players.

More to the point of your question, the referee is under no obligation to stop the kicker from kicking the ball at a free kick, no matter where the opposing players are positioned. Both teams are expected to abide by the requirement to get the ball back in play. All referees should encourage and allow quick free kicks, particularly if that is what the kicking team wants to do. At all free kicks the referee should back away, watch what happens, and intervene in quick free kick situations where an opponent closer than the minimum required distance actively makes a play for the ball (as opposed to, luckily, having the ball misplayed directly to him). The referee must have a feel for the game, how it has been going, how it is going now. That “feel” must be applied to each and every situation individually. There is no black-and-white formula to follow.

And let it be repeated here: The coach has no right to anything other than to remain in his technical area (bench area) — if he behaves responsibly. And hollering at the referee is not responsible behavior — nor good coaching.


ONE-ARMED/ONE-HANDED THROW-INS; THREATS OF “PROTEST”!! [LAW 15; LAW 18]
Your question:
Good morning, my son is 10 and he plays on a select U11 team and has been playing soccer for 5 years. At age three he lost his left arm below the elbow, and has always thrown the ball in with his one hand. We have taught him to throw the ball over his head and keep his elbow in front of him (not off to the side like a goalie throw).

In all these years of playing never has a referee or coach complained or ruled that he can not throw the ball in because he only has one hand, as long as his arm stays in front. Last weekend we played in a tournament and made it to the championship game. We played the home team so it was a very exciting game, at halftime we were up 2-1, the other coach came over to the referee and our coach and said if my son (Hunter) continued to throw in the ball they would protest…..is this legal, can they protest because my son has only one hand to throw in the ball.

Because he lost his arm at a young age and has compensated for it, his other arm is very strong and he can throw the ball pretty far down the field…but I’ve seen many techniques of throw in’s…even flips! I know the rule is two hands but because he has only one hand can he continue to throw in without the threat of another coach protesting! I wonder if his team was winning would he have said anything????

USSF answer (August 29, 2003):
Here is what we teach our referees, as printed in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
QUOTE
15.3 PROPERLY TAKEN THROW-IN
A throw-in must be performed while the thrower is facing the field, but the ball may be thrown into the field in any direction. Law 15 states that the thrower “delivers the ball from behind and over his head.” This phrase does not mean that the ball must leave the hands from an overhead position. A natural throwing movement starting from behind and over the head will usually result in the ball leaving the hands when they are in front of the vertical plane of the body. The throwing movement must be continued to the point of release. A throw-in directed straight downward (often referred to as a “spike”) has traditionally been regarded as not correctly performed; if, in the opinion of the referee such a throw-in was incorrectly performed, the restart should be awarded to the opposing team. There is no requirement in Law 15 prohibiting spin or rotational movement. Referees must judge the correctness of the throw-in solely on the basis of Law 15.

The acrobatic or “flip” throw-in is not by itself an infringement so long as it is performed in a manner which meets the requirements of Law 15.

A player who lacks the normal use of one or both hands may nevertheless perform a legal throw-in provided the ball is delivered over the head and provided all other requirements of Law 15 are observed.
END OF QUOTE

The concept is that the thrower makes a best effort to conform to meet the requirements of the Law. With one single caveat, any intelligent referee will allow people without the full use of both arms to take a throw-in without punishing them for not using both hands. The caveat: the referee must ensure that the one-handed throw is balanced and does not result in too much one-handed giving an unfair advantage to the thrower’s team.

And we also instruct our referees to pay no attention to threats of protest from anyone who has a stake in the outcome of the game.


SUBSTITUTION RULES [LAW 3]
Your question:
Has the USSF adopted the rule that NCAA & NFHS have done? That is, allow both teams to substitute on a substitution time for a specific team when they choose to substitute.

USSF answer (August 28, 2003):
Under the Laws of the Game, players may be substituted at any stoppage in play. What confuses you and others is the tendency in some leagues and tournaments to adopt what are often called “youth substitution rules.” These “rules” differ from the substitution rules established under the Laws of the Game. Although variations in substitution rules are allowed for youth (U-16 and below), veteran players (i. e., adults over 30), female players, and players with disabilities, their widespread and nearly automatic use in the United States in competitive play generally and for groups other than these mentioned is curious.

If you are interested in seeing the use of substitution rules which more closely resemble those used in the rest of the world, you should encourage your local associations and tournaments, not USSF, to avoid adopting these various restrictions on substitutions, particularly in competitive — as opposed to recreational — play.


CALLING OFFSIDE; IRRELEVANCY OF TEAM COMPLAINTS [LAW 11; LAW 18]
Your question:
I ask this question on behalf of some adult players to provide an official response so that they can read it and believe it. This play happened in an adult co-ed game recently and caught a number of people off guard, including the refs (I was one of them), until we convened and got the correct decision. I had never experienced this play in my 8+ years of officiating.

Player A from the attacking team positions himself in his attacking half of the field. The defending team takes positions on the center line and in their attacking half of the field leaving Player A alone, in what looks like an obvious offsides position (no defender nearer to the goal). The restart at this time is a goal kick by Player A¹s team from their defensive end of the field. The goalkeeper kicks the ball directly to Player A all alone in the opposition¹s defensive end and promptly goes to goal for a try. The goalkeeper makes the save, but the defending team is screaming for offsides because there are no defenders behind Player A nearer to their goal.

Luckily we had our Law books with us and showed the teams that an attacker cannot be called for offsides on a goalkick when the player receives the ball directly from the kick. This is one of 3 cases where an attacking player is not offsides (the other 2 being on throw-ins and corner kicks). There are a lot of questions regarding this ³interpretation² and its apparent unfairness from Team B. It was near halftime when the incident occurred, so we were able to calm players down and restart after an extended halftime intermission. I told the players I would write a letter to the senior officials to get a response that they could read.

I would appreciate an ³official² reply to show these folks at the next game to increase their awareness and provide them a better understanding of the game. Thanks,

USSF answer (August 27, 2003):
The task you have set seems impossible to fulfill. If the team would not believe what is written in the Laws of the Game, why would they believe something from the U. S. Soccer Federation? All we can do is point out the relevant portions of Law 11, Offside, and hope that the players can understand.

Law 11 tells us that it is not an offense in itself to be in an offside position. It also tells us that there is no offside offense if a player receives the ball directly from a goal kick, a throw-in, or a corner kick.

This basic premise of the Law is accepted and practiced throughout the world. If the defending team is careless enough to allow the attacking team to take advantage of the Law, then shame on them.

Two elements are most disturbing. The first is that this should have been taught in Refereeing 101, meaning that there should not have been any need for a conference. The second is that referees must realize that a team’s complaint/argument as to the alleged unfairness of any rule is irrelevant.


MAKE THE CALL! [LAW 18]
Your question:
What do you do if the ball squeezes between two players on opposite teams shoes and goes out??

USSF answer (August 26, 2003):
You make a decision — and then you sell it!


PUTTING THE BALL IN PLAY [LAW 8; LAW 13; LAW 18; USSF MEMORANDA]
Your question:
The rule states after the first player touches the ball and it moves foward the ball is in play. My questions are :
How must the ball be touched and how much movement is foward?
Can a player step directly on top of the ball and it is now in play and the ball in the opinion of the referee did not move forward?
Also can a player touch the ball and roll it foward and backward without removing their foot and the ball is only touched once because their foot never left the ball?

I hope you can clarify the rule. I have had a team do this and I am sure I will see more of these restarts this fall.

USSF answer (August 26, 2003):
For purposes of the restart, the advice you seek on restarts in which the ball is kicked will be found in the USSF Addendum to the Memorandum 1997, distributed to all referees in 1997:
QUOTE
General Note Regarding Restarts
“Memorandum 1997” discussed amendments to the Laws of the Game affecting all free kick, corner kick, penalty kick, and kick-off restarts. These amendments centered on the elimination of the ball moving the “distance of its circumference” before being considered in play. In all such cases, the ball is now in play when it is “kicked and moves” (free kicks and corner kicks) or when it is “kicked and moves forward” (kick-offs and penalty kicks). IFAB has emphasized that only minimal movement is needed to meet this requirement. USSF Advice to Referees: further clarification from IFAB suggests that, particularly in the case of free kicks and corner kicks, such minimal movement might include merely touching the ball with the foot. Referees are reminded that they must observe carefully the placing of the ball and, when it is properly located, any subsequent touch of the ball with the foot is sufficient to put the ball into play. Referees must distinguish between such touching of the ball to direct it to the proper location for the restart and kicking the ball to perform the restart itself. In situations where the ball must move forward before it is in play (kick-offs and penalty kicks), there should be less difficulty in applying the new language since such kicks have a specific location which is easily identified.
END OF QUOTE

You are incorrect in saying “The rule states after the first player touches the ball and it moves forward the ball is in play.” When a premise is false, the conclusions are usually tainted.

What Law 8 actually says is that “the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward.” Merely touched does not constitute a kick. A kick is normally defined (everyday use) as a “strike, thrust, or hit with the foot.” The Law is not concerned with the ball merely quivering or trembling as a result of contact with the foot. The Law presumes spatial movement on the field and, in the case of a kick-off (or penalty kick), forward spatial movement.

Rolling the ball forward is exactly that — rolling the ball forward — it is not a kick. Referees face the same sort of issue on a throw-in: if a player drops the ball from over his head, this may appear to meet all the requirements of Law 15, except for the simple fact that it was not a throw.

As for how much movement forward is needed, after the kick, the answer is equally simple — only minimal movement is required. Assuming an actual kick has occurred and the ball actually moves (spatial displacement) and the direction is not backward, it is now in play and we can get on with our lives.


HAVE THE GUTS TO CALL PENALTY KICKS! [LAW 12]
Your question:
Watching youth soccer games (recreational) I’ve noticed that many refs will award an indirect free kick for what appears (to me anyway) to be penal fouls in the penalty area for infractions that are not a severe breach of the attackers scoring chances. Examples of this are players being tripped while moving away from the goal, or when the foul occurs at the outskirts of the box and the attacker did not have a particularly good scoring chance, etc.. Nothing in the rulebook indicates that this is proper, except possibly the unwritten “common sense … keep the game as fair as possible” law. Does USSF have a position on this? Am I imagining things or is this relatively common (may more so in recreational games) ? I’d like your opinion. Thanks.

USSF answer (August 26, 2003):
There is no such thing as the “unwritten ‘common sense … keep the game as fair as possible’ law.” Nor is there anything close to it. What you describe would seem to be the acts of referees who are not willing to uphold the Laws of the Game, presumably because it would make life a bit harder for them.

Unfortunately, there are too many referees who do this sort of thing and make the next game more difficult for the rest of the refereeing corps. They seem to subscribe to the MYTH that a penalty kick should be reserved solely for goalscoring opportunities.


WHAT IS A SLIDE TACKLE?; SEEK CLARIFICATION FROM THE COMPETITION [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Can you please give me a definition of a slide tackle? We use a no slide tackle rule in our coed games and there is a wide range of definitions and how and when to call the violation. Please clarify.

USSF answer (August 26, 2003):
The term “slide tackle” refers to an attempt to tackle the ball away from an opponent while sliding on the ground. If you need further information, you should contact your competition authority (the league) and ask for their definition. You might suggest that it would be more readily enforceable if the referees knew precisely what they were expected to punish.


REFEREE ATTIRE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
If it is in winter and early in the morning and I was Running a Line The center told me he had no problem with me being in Black sweat Pants, But one of the coaches who also referees the FIFA rules say no sweats one ur refreeing a game. Is that true on not

USSF answer (August 26, 2003):
Sweat pants of any color are certainly not part of the referee uniform, but there is no rule against using common sense and dressing to suit the conditions. Of course, that means that any additional equipment, such as sweat pants, should be of an appropriate color and in good taste. Under no circumstances would a referee or assistant referee be able to do this in a higher-level match and certainly not one that was being assessed.


ORGANIZED PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT [12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I asked this question at a clinic and got laughed at. This situation really happened. I was refereeing a tournement final game. The game was a u-17 game. A fantantistic player from Virginia was playing . It became apparent that the opposition couldn’t stop him. He ran thru and got fouled. The second time he got thru and was fouled again. I gave the card after the second one for persistent fouls against one opponent. I gave the first card early because the pattern became clear to me. I gave four more yellow cards for fouls against Mr thompson. It became clear to me that the team was fouling this player in turn so no one would get sent off. My credability was getting stretched to the max. The fouls were not of a serious enough nature to justify a straight red nor were any of them a goal opportunity destroyed. What could I do. I ended up giving seven yellow cards to the one team?

USSF answer (August 21, 2003):
Under the Laws of the Game, there is no other option available to the referee than to caution the players individually. However, at least one other possibility does exist. The intelligent referee might consider chatting with the captain of the team that is engaging in the pattern of fouling and suggest that he will regard the next foul on the target player as serious foul play. Surely the referee in such a case can recognize serious foul play. Finally, after the game the referee can take advantage of the duty assigned in Law 5 to provide the appropriate authorities with a match report which includes information on any disciplinary action taken against players, and/or team officials and any other incidents which occurred before, during or after the match.


ADVANTAGE; “INTENT” [LAW 5; LAW 12]
Your question:
1. Striker tripped in the area by defender, PLAY ON called as he stumbles and gets off a decent shot which is fielded easily by the keeper and returned to play. Do I call for the PK which is superior to the advantage or is there an unwritten rule that any kind of shot counts as a viable advantage? PS: REFEREE MAGIZINE indicates PK / SEPT 2003, pg 34.

2. Is there a position paper that states if a player completely by accident, trips , holds , kicks,  ETC an opponent , that that player should NOT be considered guilty of the apparent infraction because there was no intent to commit the infraction ? If so, any guidelines on how we interpret this scenario.

USSF answer (August 19, 2003):
1. The referee’s decision to invoke the advantage has nothing to do with the team’s ability to score a goal immediately. Rather, it simply means that the team gains more at the moment of invocation than it would have done through a free kick. The referee must balance all factors of the particular situation to arrive at the proper solution.

2. No, there is no position paper dealing with “intent.” Why? Because the word “intent” does not exist in the Laws of the Game. We referees are no longer required to judge “intent” in an act by one player against another, but to judge the result of the act instead. However, we are allowed to distinguish between an act that is accidental and one that is deliberate.

All referees need to remember that “intent” is not an issue in deciding what is or is not a foul, regardless of age, and that something at the youngest age levels might nonetheless be considered a foul if it is determined to be careless. No age is too young to begin learning not to be careless.

For example, in the case of a player stumbling and colliding with an opponent, we would judge the act to be careless, reckless, or involving the use of excessive force — and thus a foul — only if the player had already begun to trip (or attempt to trip), push, kick (or attempt to kick), strike (or attempt to strike), jump at or charge his opponent. If the player was still merely pursuing the opponent and happened to stumble and fall, colliding with the opponent on the way down, there has been no foul, as the act was simply accidental or inadvertent.

Referees who call such acts fouls are doing a disservice to the game and to other referees. These are cases where the referee simply calls out “No foul” — or something similar; anything other than “Play on” or “Advantage” — because there has been no foul.


CONTROL VERSUS POSSESSION; TOUCHED/PLAYED BY [LAW 11; LAW 18]
Your question:
1 In your post below you say “because Law 11 clearly requires the ball to be controlled by the defender before a new phase of play can be said to have begun.” I can’t find this in LOTG on law 11. ATR 11.15 “(3) an opponent intentionally plays or gains possession of the ball.” Control (below) and played by seem different to me, as a ball can be played incorrectly. Also the “or” in the 11.15 quote seems to indicate that. Of course a deflection is not “played by.” Is control required by the defender for the offside player to be allowed to be involved in active play?

2 In law 11, the phrase “touched or played by” is used. This the only time “played by” is appended to a last touched phrase anywhere in LOTG. If this always means touched, what does mean? A player can shield the ball and play it. Is a touch required by a teammate, or would a shield count as a “played by”.

DEFENDER’S DEFLECTION [LAW 11]
Your question:
An attacker is in an offside position when the ball is played in his/her direction. A defender, having moved to a position to play the ball, either heads or high-kicks the ball. The ball is deflected off its original path, but the defender fails to gather the ball. The attacker in the offside position receives the ball. Has offside occurred? We have calls both ways accompanied a multitude of reasonable (and some maybe unreasonable) explanations to support call. What is your opinion?
USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
It IS NOT correct to assume that any touch by a defender effectively changes the possession, because Law 11 clearly requires the ball to be controlled by the defender before a new phase of play can be said to have begun (and offside positions re-evaluated). It IS correct to say that the referee must make the judgment as to whether the opponent established full control over the ball and thus relieved the player in the offside position from being called offside.

USSF answer (August 19, 2003):
“Control” in this case refers to the defender’s having exerted influence over the course and destination of the ball. A deflection would not be considered to be control, but a kick to a teammate would be. This can only be determined by the referee on the spot, not through any definition typed on a keyboard.

For the purposes of enforcing the Laws of the Game, the phrase “touched or played by” has only one meaning, “made contact with.” The only possible exceptions involve deflections by a defending opponent in an offside situation or by the goalkeeper who has deflected the ball in a save and not “parried” it.


SEND-OFF AT HALFTIME [LAW 5; LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
If a “player” is sent-off during half time, does the team play short?

In most USSF youth games with free substitutions, the referee has no idea of who the players are vs the substitutes at half time. For this reason it seems impossible to know if you are showing the red card to a player or a substitute – and therefore if the team should play short or not.

USSF answer (August 19, 2003):
This seems a good time to repeat an answer of November 2001:
If the referee knows the individual was a player when the previous period ended, the player’s team must play short for the remainder of the game. If the referee knows the individual was a substitute or is uncertain of that individual’s status when the previous period ended (and can find no evidence that the individual was a player at the end of the period), then that individual may not participate in the game any longer; his team may start the next period with the same number of players it had when the previous period ended.

An excerpt from section 3.14 of the 2001 edition of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” provides the answer for the rest of your question:
QUOTE
If a player or substitute is cautioned or dismissed for misconduct which has occurred during a break or suspension of play, the card must be shown on the field before play resumes.
END OF QUOTE

We would add only that this portion of 3.14 remains unchanged in the soon-to-be-published 2003 update of the Advice to Referees.


SLIDING TACKLE [LAW 12]
Your question:
A long kick by team A’s midfielder has cleared over team B’s defenders and the ball is now in the open field, rapidly rolling towards B’s goal. A’s speedy forward has outraced B’s defenders so that now the only two players who are within playing distance and have a chance of getting to the ball are A’s onrushing forward and B’s keeper coming off his line to play the ball. The keeper is about to pick up the ball (but does NOT have contact with or possession of the ball) and the forward, realizing this, slides at the keeper in an attempt to strike the ball prior to the keeper gaining possession. Keeper picks up ball before any contact is made and successfully dodges the oncoming slide.

My thoughts: this a dangerous play as contemplated by Advice to Refs 12.23 in that once the forward goes into the slide, he cannot control his direction and/or velocity of his body and has committed himself to a head on collision with the keeper. this lack of control would make this an inadmissible charge at the goalie as contemplated by 12.23 and team B would be awarded a indirect free kick (or the keeper may continue the play if the referee determines advantage rules apply)

My fellow coaches believe that “the keeper is just like any other player” and since you can slide at any other player to challenge the ball, you can slide at the keeper also.

USSF answer (August 19, 2003):
What you have described as a charge is in fact a sliding tackle, a horse of an entirely different color. This means that section 12.23 of the “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” which deals solely with charging the goalkeeper, would not apply.

Section 12.13, Playing in a Dangerous Manner, might apply; however, if the tackling player’s foot hit the goalkeeper before the ball, then it would not be playing dangerously (an indirect free kick foul), but the direct free kick foul of tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball.

The position of goalkeeper carries with it implicit dangers of heavy contact with other players. That is an accepted fact of the game. Other than being privileged to deliberately handle the ball within his own penalty area, the goalkeeper has no more rights than any other player. The act you have described is no foul at all, but simply the actions of two players going for the ball entirely within both the letter and spirit of the Laws.


FOUL PRECEDES GOAL; YOU DECIDE [LAW 5; LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
The red team has the ball in their attacking third. The AR sees the red team’s defending player kick a blue team player in the red team’s defending third. Play continues, and the red team scores a goal. The AR had his flag up signaling the foul before the goal was scored. What is the correct call? What is the correct restart?

USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
If the referee accepts the assistant referee’s signal for the foul, the goal is not scored, the red defender is sent off and shown the red card for violent conduct, and the restart is a direct free kick for the blue team from the place where the infringement occurred.

If the referee does not accept that a foul (and misconduct) has occurred, the goal is scored and the restart is a kick-off for the blue team.

Which decision would you make?


CONFUSED GOALKEEPER REDUX 2 [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Did you really mean to say, in response to the query by the “confused goalkeeper” in your July 29 posting, that “If you actually had possession as defined above, rather than simply going for the ball and yet not having it pinned down, then the second player was in the wrong and should have been punished for kicking or attempting to kick an opponent — a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team — and possibly sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card if he made contact with you. ”

The questioner clearly wrote: “…of course the [ball] came loose after the forward barreled into me and the other player pounded the ball into the goal….”

Is the USSF position truly that a player who kicks a loose ball into the goal (no matter how it came to be loose) is guilty of kicking or attempting to kick an opponent and should be penalised and possibly sent off?

I mention this because there is a pernicious rumor circulating among (dubious, IMO) referees that goes like this:
1. A player cannot legally play the ball after the goalkeeper has taken possession.
2. Possession = Control
3. IBD 2 for Law 12 defines control as touching the ball with any part of the hand or arms.
4. Therefore, after the goalkeeper has touched the ball with any part of his hands or arms, even if he subsequently loses control or deliberately releases the ball, any player attempting to play the ball has committed a foul and shoould be at least cautioned and probably sent off.

Your answer seems to support this conclusion in that, if the goalkeeper established control and then subsequently lost it, the attacker is guilty of a foul if he plays the loose ball. I’m not making this up. You don’t have to go far in the soccer community, even the referee community, to have this argument raised.

USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
There is a vast difference between “control” and “possession.”

“Control” under the Law occurs when the goalkeeper plays the ball with his hand to direct it somewhere.

“Possession” occurs when the ball is actually under the goalkeeper’s physical control (rather than simply being redirected).

Other players may not attempt to play the ball while the goalkeeper has possession of the ball or is attempting to release the ball so that others may play it. Attempting to do so with the foot is classified as either kicking or attempting to kick. Following the overhaul of the Laws of the Game in 1997, the ball itself cannot be lawfully played while in the goalkeeper’s possession. Therefore any attempt to kick, head, knee, or otherwise play the ball out of the goalkeeper’s possession must be considered as an action directed at the goalkeeper himself/herself and therefore should be considered kicking or attempting to kick — a direct free kick offense. If contact were made, the referee might consider that the kicking player committed serious foul play and might then send off the player and show the red card.


BALL ENTERS GOAL, RETURNS TO FIELD, GOES OUT FOR THROW-IN [LAW 5; LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
Ball is crossed through the goal mouth very near the end-line but proceeds into the corner where it is cleared upfield and into touch. Play is stopped and restared with a throw-in. After the throw-in the CR (finally) notices that the AR on the end of the field where the ball had just crossed through the goal mouth has his flag raised. CR stops play and confers with AR who informs him that the ball had not merely traveled across the goal-mount but had, in fact, gone wholly and completely over the goal line, between the goal posts and was, consequently, a goal. Referee awards the goal and restarts with a kickoff. Protest is lodged because the CR awarded the goal after the throw-in restart which, it is claimed, negates the referee’s ability to award the goal.

Is this a correct interpretation of the last paragraph of Law 5: “The referee may only change a decision… provided that he has not restarted play.”? I am more familiar with this being applied to a free-kick restart (subsequent to a foul) where the referee realizes he has pointed the wrong way and has to realign the kick to go the other way; here the restart is directly related to the immediate incident. In the protested case, above, the restart was completely separate from the incident.

USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
As the referee determined to accept the AR’s information and award the goal, the goal is valid. There are a number of questions and answers touching on this and other instances of AR assistance rendered prior to a foul or misconduct being committed in the IFAB/FIFA Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game.

Historically, the Law 5 statement actually has to do with a goal being revoked prior to a restart and less with the possibility you suggest of a goal not being counted if it wasn’t recorded prior to a restart. The National Program for Referee Development has published a position paper on sequential infringements of the Law (downloadable from this site) which, although again not being on point as regards a goal, established the general proposition that the stoppage should be counted from the moment the AR flagged if the referee subsequently confirms the AR’s information. And, finally, there is the proposition that play actually stopped under the Law when the whole of the ball crossed entirely over the goal line and so anything that happens after that (unless “too much play” has passed) is a nullity.


DEFENDER’S DEFLECTION [LAW 11]
Your question:
An attacker is in an offside position when the ball is played in his/her direction. A defender, having moved to a position to play the ball, either heads or high-kicks the ball. The ball is deflected off its original path, but the defender fails to gather the ball. The attacker in the offside position receives the ball. Has offside occurred? We have calls both ways accompanied a multitude of reasonable (and some maybe unreasonable) explanations to support call. What is your opinion?

USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
It IS NOT correct to assume that any touch by a defender effectively changes the possession, because Law 11 clearly requires the ball to be controlled by the defender before a new phase of play can be said to have begun (and offside positions re-evaluated). It IS correct to say that the referee must make the judgment as to whether the opponent established full control over the ball and thus relieved the player in the offside position from being called offside.


RESTART FOLLOWING ADMONITION WITHOUT CARD [LAW 5]
Your question:
We had a situation where our team was attacking in the oponents goal box and our goal keeper yelled from the other end of the field when he believed we should have received a penalty for a challenge on our forward. Our goal keeper just yelled “penalty, ref!” The referee stopped play which was still continuing and marched all the way up the field where our goalkeeper was standing and awarded an indirect free kick for saying what he did. He did not receive a yellow card.

My question is, although the referee had the right technically to stop the game, where should the free kick taken place? My understanding of the rule book is that he had the right to caution the keeper but the free kick should have been where he stopped the game. Could you help with this question?

USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
Your answer can be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
QUOTE
5.7 STOPPING PLAY
The referee has the power to stop the match for any infringement of the Laws, to apply advantage under the appropriate conditions, or to decide that an infringement is trifling or doubtful and should not be called at all. However, the referee also has the power to stop play for other reasons, including misconduct for which the referee intends only to warn the player regarding his behavior and not to issue a caution. In these circumstances, the referee should take care that ordering such a stoppage would not disadvantage the opposing team. As the stoppage will not have occurred for a foul or misconduct, play would be restarted with a dropped ball.
QUOTE

As there was no true infringement, the restart would obviously be at the place where the ball was when play was stopped.


THE REFEREE BADGE [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
What is the significance of the six stars in the shield of the USSF referee badge?

USSF answer (August 12, 2003):
After as much research as seems possible on the matter, asking the “oldest timers” we know about the stars, the consensus is that the number of stars in the shield of the referee badge is simply the correct number to fill the space nicely. (The same seems to be true of the newer US Soccer logo, which has three stars, the one in the center a bit larger to better fill the space available.) The stars that separate UNITED STATES from SOCCER FEDERATION are purely for decoration.

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, we used to have stars around the outer perimeter of the referee badge. Their number varied in relationship to the grade of the referee — the more stars, the higher the grade.


CONFUSED GOALKEEPER REDUX 1 [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In regard to a portion of your posted answer:
CONFUSED GOALKEEPER – USSF answer (July 29, 2003):
“… If [the Keeper] actually had possession as defined [in ‘Advice’ 12.16], rather than simply going for the ball and yet not having it pinned down, then the … player [who kicks or attempts to kick (a ball) in Keeper possession] was in the wrong and should have been punished for kicking or attempting to kick an opponent — a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team — and possibly sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card if he made contact with you. ”

I thought that a simple stripping of the ball from the Keeper could be sanctioned as Dangerous Play where no physical contact occurred. I have given an IFK with a verbal warning to the effect that the Keeper is not to be used as a golf tee …. on occasion in the past. Of course, this milder punishment requires no contact …. and assumes no observed malice i.t.o.o.t.r. [… to be applied only where it is in harmony with the spirit of the game in question]. Wrong interpretation ??

USSF answer (August 11, 2003):
The call of dangerous play for this offense went out several years ago. It is either kicking or attempting to kick, no opinion of the referee required or warranted — it is not allowed. Following the overhaul of the Laws of the Game in 1997, the ball itself cannot be lawfully played while in the goalkeeper’s possession. Therefore any attempt to kick, head, knee, or otherwise play the ball out of the goalkeeper’s possession must be considered as an action directed at the goalkeeper himself/herself and therefore should be considered kicking or attempting to kick — a direct free kick offense. If contact were made, the referee might consider that the kicking player committed serious foul play and might then send off the player and show the red card.


DECEPTION IS NOT “SIMULATION” [LAW 12]
Your question:
An attacking player is lying injured inside the penalty area. A defending player kicks the ball in touch so that the injured player can receive treatment. After the injured player is treated, an attacking player takes the throw-in. Attacker #6 calls for the ball saying, “Give it to me and I will give it to the goalkeeper!” The ball is thrown to Attacker #6, who promptly and intentionally kicks the ball into the goal! Most referees I know think that this is unfair and conflicts with the spirit of the game. But does it infringe the law? I have heard two suggestions on how to deal with this unlikely situation (but it has occurred I am told). First solution: Find fault with the throw. Second solution: Attacker #6 performed a simulation to deceive the opponents AND THE REFEREE. Caution Attacker #6 for USB and award an IFK to the defenders. Within LOTG what should the referee do? Or should he have done?

USSF answer (August 1, 2003):
There is no reason for the referee to take any action, as there has been no infringement of the Laws of the Game. On the other hand, Attacker #6 should consider giving up soccer, as he has no concept of fair play.

Please rid yourself of the notion that what the morally-impaired attacker did comes under the “simulation” provision. Referees can stretch the Laws pretty far when the circumstances permit, but some things are simply beyond the pale. “Simulation” involves fouls and/or injuries only, not deception of the sort described in the scenario, and is aimed at deceiving or misleading the referee. The action of this player was not aimed at the referee at all, but solely at the opponents.


DANGEROUS CHARGE (?); USING THE HAND OR ARM AS SUPPORT [LAW 12]
Your question:
Can you please illustrate an example of a dangerous charge? I have always sanctioned any charge that fails to meet the criteria in ATR 12.5 as careless (DFK). Also, may a player use his forearm instead of his shoulder to charge an opponent, assuming that the charge isn’t violent, and the player doesn’t come up under the opponent–just uses the forearm as a brace against the player (and perhaps pushes a little)?

I believe I am correct in assuming that if a wall creeps up a yard or two at a free kick, this is always trifling as it I can’t think of any way this could hinder the attacking team’s ability to restart. However, it really bothers me and I was wondering if the USSF approves the practice of setting up the wall intentionally farther than ten yards, in games where the defenders have consistently previously crept forward. I don’t see anything else I can do about it, as I can’t caution anyone if it’s trifling, correct?

USSF answer (July 30, 2003):
1. We are not aware of anything called a “dangerous charge.” If you mean a reckless or violent charge, then they should be punished accordingly — with a caution (yellow card) and direct free kick (or penalty kick) or with a send-off (red card) and direct free kick (or penalty kick), respectively. No, a player may not use his forearm to charge an opponent — or even as a brace. These acts would be considered either pushing or holding and should be punished accordingly. They are the same as the ever-popular hand check, which is also illegal.

2. Trifling is relative. It might make all the difference in the world to the team which was awarded the free kick. If the creeping is interfering with the kicking team’s right to a “free” kick, then the referee must exercise good judgment in managing the situation. Nothing that interferes with a team’s right to fair play can be considered trifling.


CONFUSED GOALKEEPER [LAW 12]
Your question:
I play goalkeeper and I was wondering if a call was right in a match that I had played in recently. Here is was happened, the opposing team had a breakaway and went to their wing foward which crossed the ball into the middle, no player contended the ball until it hit the ground so of course I went to go scoop it up but I was met by two opposing players one of which ran into me not even trying to get the ball, I had my hands on the ball but it was down at my feet, of course the came loose after the forward barreled into me and the other player pounded the ball into the goal, now comes to my question. The player that ran into me received a yellow card, but the referee allowed the goal. I don’t think a goal should be allowed if there was a foul committed and even a card give.

Thanks for reading this. Confused Goalkeeper

USSF answer (July 29, 2003):
The goalkeeper establishes possession with as little as one finger on the ball, provided the ball is under his control (in the opinion of the referee) and the ball has been trapped against the ground or some other surface — the ‘keeper’s other hand or a goalpost.

Let us leave aside for the moment the matter of the player who played you instead of the ball. If you actually had possession as defined above, rather than simply going for the ball and yet not having it pinned down, then the second player was in the wrong and should have been punished for kicking or attempting to kick an opponent — a direct free kick for the goalkeeper’s team — and possibly sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card if he made contact with you.

The player who played you rather than the ball was clearly in the wrong and should have been punished — at a minimum — for carelessly charging an opponent. The referee in your game obviously saw this as a reckless play, hence the caution and yellow card.

If you were prevented from playing the ball by the unfair charge, the goal should not have been allowed and the restart should have been a direct free kick for your team from the point of the charge.

If the referee had called the kicking or attempted kicking by the other opponent, then the goal should not have been awarded and the referee should have awarded a direct free kick for your team.


DENYING AN OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY THROUGH MISCONDUCT ALONE [LAW 12]
Your question:
From a DFK 30 yards from the Goal the attacker kicks the ball over the wall of defenders and toward the goal. The ball appears that it would have scored were it not for the defender who hung from the goal crossbar and headed the ball back onto the field.

USSF answer (July 28, 2003):
By hanging on the crossbar to head the ball away from the goal, the player brought the game into disrepute. Because this misconduct denied the opponents a goalscoring opportunity, the referee should send off the player and show the red card. The restart would be an indirect free kick for the opposing team. This is a good example for reminding referees that offenses which deny a goalscoring opportunity are not limited to those punishable by a direct free kick or penalty kick but may include fouls or misconduct for which the restart is an indirect free kick.


WEARING GLASSES [LAW 4; LAW 18; USSF MEMO 070307]
Your question:
[Original question directed to a state association]
I request your assistance is directing me the appropriate governing body relating to rules pertaining to the following: Prescribed (prescription) eyewear used during a soccer match. As background, my sons and I are Grade 8 referees activley involved in the local [city name] area. Also, both of my sons play Premier level Club soccer.

I am aware there is no specific law governing the approval of such eyewear. Based on my research, it appears the approval is left up to each individual referee’s descrection (based on safety and the need for such eyewear). Unfortunately this can be capricious and unpredictable. Specifically, I’ve been involved in several instances when the matter of “what is safe” has come under heated debate between referees on the same field and the effect being the player was banned from wearing the eyewear during the game. I’ve seen this same unpredictable judgements with both types of eyewear: athletic shields and athletic googles. We need some very specific instruction as to what is “Approved Eyewear.”

Who writes the laws relating to these matters? If there is a state and national governing body? If so, could you direct me to both?

USSF answer (July 23, 2003):
Player equipment is covered by the Laws of the Game, written by the International Football Association Board and promulgated by FIFA. Those Laws specify that a player may wear nothing that is dangerous to any player (including himself). The decision of the referee is final.

This answer from earlier this year may be of some help to you:
QUOTE
USSF answer (March 4, 2003):
In addition to this quote from the IFAB/FIFA Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (2000 edition), Law 4, Question 4, . . .
4. May a referee allow a player wearing glasses to play in a match?
If, in the opinion of the referee, the glasses are dangerous to the player himself, or to an opponent, he does not allow the player to take part in the match. 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.
UNQUOTE

If you need further information, you will find what every referee in the United States is taught about equipment in this memorandum of March 7, 2003:
QUOTE
Memorandum

To: State Referee Administrators cc: State Presidents
State Youth Referee Administrators Affiliated Members
State Directors of Referee Instruction
State Directors of Referee Assessment
National Assessors
National Instructors
National Referees

From: Julie Ilacqua
Managing Director of Federation Services

Re: Player’s Equipment

Date: March 7, 2003

________________________________________________________________________

USSF has received a number of inquiries recently about how officials should handle situations where players wish to wear equipment that is not included in the list of basic compulsory equipment in FIFA Laws of the Game. Referees are facing increased requests from players for permission to wear kneepads, elbowpads, headbands, soft casts, goggles, etc.

The only concrete guidance in the Laws of the Game is found in Law 4:

“A player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player.”

This is followed by a list of required uniform items: jersey, shorts, socks, shoes, and shinguards. Obviously, this language is quite general. USSF suggests the following approach to issues involving player equipment and uniforms:

1. Look to the applicable rules of the competition authority.
Some leagues, tournaments, and soccer organizations have specific local rules covering player uniforms and what other items may or may not be worn on the field during play. Referees who accept match assignments governed by these rules are obligated to enforce them. Note, however, that local rules cannot restrict the referee’s fundamental duty to ensure the safety of players.

2. Inspect the equipment.
All items of player equipment and uniforms must be inspected. However, anything outside the basic compulsory items must draw the particular attention of the referee and be inspected with special regard to safety. USSF does not “pre-approve” any item of player equipment by type or brand — each item must be evaluated individually.

3. Focus on the equipment itself — not how it might be improperly used, or whether it actually protects the player.
Generally, the referee’s safety inspection should focus on whether the equipment has such dangerous characteristics as: sharp edges, hard surfaces, pointed corners, dangling straps or loops, or dangerous protrusions. The referee should determine whether the equipment, by its nature, presents a safety risk to the player wearing it or to other players. If the equipment does not present such a safety risk, the referee should permit the player to wear it.

The referee should not forbid the equipment simply because it creates a possibility that a player could use it to foul another player or otherwise violate the Laws of the Game. However, as the game progresses, an item that the referee allowed may become dangerous, depending on changes in its condition (wear and tear) or on how the player uses it. Referees must be particularly sensitive to unfair or dangerous uses of player equipment and must be prepared to order a correction of the problem whenever they become aware of it.

The referee also should not forbid the equipment because of doubts about whether it actually protects the player. There are many new types of equipment on the market that claim to protect players. A referee’s decision to allow a player to use equipment is not an endorsement of the equipment and does not signify that the referee believes the player will be safer while wearing the equipment.

4. Remember that the referee is the final word on whether equipment is dangerous. Players, coaches, and others may argue that certain equipment is safe. They may contend that the equipment has been permitted in previous matches, or that the equipment actually increases the player’s safety. These arguments may be accompanied by manufacturer’s information, doctor’s notes, etc. However, as with all referee decisions, determining what players may wear within the framework of the Laws of the Game and applicable local rules depends on the judgment of the referee. The referee must strive to be fair, objective, and consistent, but the final decision belongs to the referee.
END OF QUOTE

The philosophy of the United States Soccer Federation is that every child who wants to should be able to play. However, we must respect the guiding principles of the Laws of the Game, particularly Law 4, which requires the referee to ensure that all players are given conditions in which they can play as safely as possible.


OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
After CR’s whistle, kicker runs up to take kick, and sideline of defending team makes loud and distracting noise. Kicker misses PK badly. Any remedies ?

USSF answer (July 23, 2003):
Other than recognizing it as the poor sportsmanship that it is, no, there is little the referee can or should do. However, Law 5 grants the referee the power to stop, suspend or terminate the match because of outside interference of any kind. If the referee believes that this activity is planned or organized in any way, rather than the spontaneous actions of zealous fans, it might be considered to be outside interference. Examples of planned, systematic interference might include air horns or firecrackers or group shouting. In that case, the referee would be justified in informing the team captain that the game will be terminated if such planned or organized activities do not stop at once.


KNEELING THROW-IN? SITTING THROW-IN? NEITHER ONE ALLOWED [LAW 15]
Your question:
At a throw in a player begins to take a flip throw in. During this attempt the following things happened:
a. The Player landed with both feet on or behind the touchline
b. The player was facing the field of play
c. the ball was thrown from behind and over the top of the head and released while the ball was over the top of the head.
d. The player used both hands to perform the throw
e. The player threw the ball while her rear-end was in contact with the ground (i.e. the player threw the ball while seated rather than squatting or standing.)

Is it legal to throw the ball in from the seated position? I know it is Illegal to throw from the kneeling position but the ATR doesn’t mention the seated position and I would like further clarification as this happened in one of my matches and I didn’t know what was proper. My first reaction was this can not be legal is throwing from the kneeling position is also Illegal. What is the correct interpertation?

USSF answer (July 23, 2003):
After the referee and the players and spectators finish laughing, the referee’s decision should be to award the throw-in to the other team, as the throw-in was not completed in accordance with the requirements of Law 15. A sitting throw-in would be regarded as equal to a kneeling throw-in.


CALLING THE ADVANTAGE [LAW 5; LAW 12]
Your question:
I gave advantage to green going to goal outside the area for a charge; the player kept stumbling for what seemed forever but was not near any other defenders. A slight challenge near goal line and the attacker went down and giving up a goal kick. Since I called advantage, can I still call the foul and bring the ball back to the original foul location? This was a hot u19 boy¹s match and I felt I needed to make a decision pretty quickly. Did I call advantage too soon? Once I call advantage, does that cancel the foul?

USSF answer (July 23, 2003):
The wisdom you seek will be found in section 5.6 of the third edition (2003) of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” to be released in the very near future:
QUOTE
5.6 ADVANTAGE
Referees have the power to apply (and signal) the advantage upon seeing a foul or misconduct committed if at that moment the terms of the advantage clause (Law 5, 11th item) were met. Applying advantage permits the referee to allow play to continue when the team against which the foul has been committed will actually benefit from the referee not stopping play.

The referee must remember that the advantage applies to the team of the fouled player and not just to the fouled player. Soccer is a team sport and the referee is expected to apply advantage if the fouled player’s team is able to retain or regain control of the ball.

The referee may return to and penalize the original foul if the advantage situation does not develop as anticipated after a short while (2-3 seconds). If the ball goes out of play during this time, then play must be restarted in accordance with the Law. Referees should note that the “advantage” is not defined solely in terms of scoring a goal. Also, a subsequent offense by a player of the offending team must not be ignored while the referee allows the anticipated development of the advantage. Such an offense may either be recognized by stopping play immediately or by applying the advantage clause again. Regardless of the outcome of the advantage call, the referee must deal appropriately with any misconduct at the next stoppage, before allowing play to be restarted. (See also 12.27.)

The referee may also apply advantage during situations that are solely misconduct (both cautionable and send-off offenses) or to situations that involve both a foul and misconduct.

The advantage applies only to infringements of Law 12 (fouls and/or misconduct) and not to infringements of other Laws. For example, there can be no advantage during an offside situation, nor may advantage be applied in the case of an illegal throw-in that goes to an opponent.

Referees must understand that advantage is not an absolute right. It must be balanced against other issues. The giving of the advantage is not required in all situations to which it might be applied. The referee may stop play despite an advantage if other factors (e.g., game control, severity of a foul or misconduct, possibility of player retaliation, etc.) outweigh the benefit of play continuing.

A common misconception about advantage is that it is about deciding if a challenge is a foul. On the contrary, that decision has already been made because advantage cannot be applied to anything which is not a foul (meaning a violation of Law 12). Advantage, rather, is a decision about whether to stop play for the foul. Accordingly, giving the advantage is “calling the foul” and thus it must be as obvious to the players as signaling to stop play.

Inconspicuous advantage signals are as much to be avoided as a whistle which cannot be heard. Likewise, however, using the advantage signal to indicate that something is not a foul is equally wrong.

In determining whether there is persistent infringement, all fouls are considered, including those to which advantage has been applied.
END OF QUOTE

In short, if the advantage did not work out within the 2-3 seconds, call the play back to the spot of the foul (or misconduct) and restart in accordance with the Laws.

And, finally, a hint about calling the advantage “too soon.” Most experienced senior referees will not audibly call the advantage until those few seconds have already passed so that, when it IS publicly announced, the advantage will be clear.


A SPECTATOR _CANNOT_ COMMIT MISCONDUCT; AUTHORITY OF THE REFEREE [LAW 5; LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
USSF ATRotLOTG 5.2 states: “The authority of the referee begins when he arrives at the field of play and continues until he has left the area of the field after the game has been completed. The referees authority extends to time when the ball is out of play, to temporary suspensions, to the half time break, and to additional periods of play or kicks from the penalty mark as required by the rules of competition.”

Furthermore, ATR 3.14 states: “Yellow and Red cards, which are now mandatory indications of cautions or send-offs. may be shown only for misconduct comitted by players or named subsitutes during a match. ‘During a match’ includes:
a. The period of time immediately prior to the start of play during which players and substitues are physically on the field warming up, stectching, or otherwise preparing for a match.”

Now the situation in question: I was an AR on a match which was being played during a recent tournament. Immediately following this match I was scheduled to be the Referee of the following match. During the match while I was the AR, a player from the next game was waiting just off the goal line in his uniform waiting for the current game to end so he could take the field with the rest of his team. This “future” player had started to interact with some of the “current” players and had been heckling the referee. At an appropriate time I mentioned to him and his team that I would be the CR for their game and that they should not interfere with the match being played. Later on, the same player who had been interfereing disagreed with the call of the CR and said “He, Ref, you suck!” — I told this player again that I was refereeing his match later and I heard what he had said and I would take it under consideration and then I proceeded with my duties as AR. At the end of this match I talked it over with my crew and after determining that I was within my authority to do so I decided to issue a caution to the same player who had been interfering with the prior match. I did not show a card as they hadn’t physically entered the field of play, but since I had arrived at the field of play I was under the impression I was ok in issuing a caution to this player. My reason was USB as I didn’t feel I could issue a caution for dissent because he wasn’t dissenting my personal decision, but was being unsporting. Later after asking the SYRA he informed me I was not correct in this decision. I am still confused though, I know the ATR doesn’t specifically discuss every little thing possible because to do so would make the document cumbersome, so WHEN does the referee’s authority in a match to which he is connected begin at a tournament during where the players are there and ready to enter the field, but still before the prior match is over?

USSF answer (July 23, 2003):
Let’s lay this out another way: A spectator at a game (but who will be a player in the NEXT game) makes disparaging remarks about the referee. This spectator is asked by the assistant referee on that game to cease. The AR then threatens the spectator that he will take action against him in the next game, in which the AR will be the referee and the spectator will be a player/substitute. Where in Law 5 (or anywhere else in the Laws of the Game) would the referee find the authority to do this? Nowhere.

If the spectator did not stop his commentary, the correct solution would be gather as much information as possible on the spectator (team, name, number, etc.) and include that information in the match report for the first game. Anything else goes far beyond the authority granted to the referee by the Laws of the Game.

Just to make it perfectly clear: You are attempting to create a right to caution which, as an AR, you do not possess. Whatever the person was doing, it was the responsibility of the referee on the game during which it happened to handle it. The AR has no cautioning authority; he or she can only make a recommendation to the referee. But, in this case, even the referee wouldn’t have authority to caution this person because this person wasn’t a player, substitute, or substituted player FOR THE GAME DURING WHICH THE BEHAVIOR WAS COMMITTED.

Some might suggest that you spent altogether too much time focusing on this, to the possible detriment of your responsibilities to the referee and the rest of the game. If we were to recommend any course of action beyond including the details in your own match report on the first game, it might be to advise the spectator that, based on his behavior prior to his own match, you (the referee) will be paying special attention to him in his role as player.


COMMITTING TWO ACTS OF MISCONDUCT SIMULTANEOUSLY [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
In a game where the opening 15 minutes had been hard and fast, with a high number of fouls, a player on one team who already had two fouls to his credit recklessly fouls the star player on the other team again (say for the second time). The referee had decided that if this player committed another foul in a particular time frame, he would be cautioned for persistent infringement.  When this foul now occurs, it is the type that every player on the field knows must carry a caution for recklessness. The referee awards one yellow for the reckless foul, and one for the persistent infringement, pointing to the three foul spots.

Has the referee exceeded his authority?

Under the LOTG, he is supposed to punish the more severe of two simultaneous offenses. Yet, here, there is one offense and two misconducts. Must he choose to just punish one?

The thinking referee would probably choose to use one caution and chew out the player big time, and let him know in no uncertain terms that if he so much looks like he’s going to foul again, it will be his last for this game. But, if the game circumstances supported it, is the referee justified in the awarding of both at one time?

Inquiring minds don’t have enough to do today.

USSF answer (July 23, 2003):
Persistent infringement is judged by the referee on the spot, based on written guidance and on the way the particular game is being played. If two acts of misconduct happen to coincide, resulting in a situation where the player must be cautioned for a second time in a game, life is hard, but the referee must persevere. Lex dura sed lex. And some players just never learn.

Yes, provided that the referee believes that match control in this particular game requires it, the player should be cautioned and shown the yellow card for persistent infringement and then shown the second yellow card and then the red card for the second caution in the game.


MISCONDUCT AT A PENALTY KICK [LAW 12; LAW 14]
Your question:
On a PK, the Keeper throws his hat or shin guard at the ball and stops it before it enters the goal. What is the card, if any, and what would the restart be? Would it be any different if he did not throw it but held it out too extend his reach?

USSF answer (July 22, 2003):
If the object — hat, dirt, shoe, shinguard, glove, whatever — remains in the goalkeeper’s (or any other player’s) hand, it is considered to be an extension of the player’s hand. However, once it leaves the player’s hand, the object is no longer considered as part of or an extension of the hand. Thus, throwing the object and striking the ball cannot be considered to be deliberately handling the ball. It is considered to be misconduct; however, following the caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior, the restart would be a retake of the penalty kick.

Why a penalty kick? Having been awarded a penalty kick, the kicking team MUST be allowed a fair chance of the kick being completed — whether it results in a goal or not. Anything that interferes with completion of the penalty kick (fan running onto the field, dog playing with the ball, the ball bursting on its way in, a goalkeeper committing misconduct by throwing a shoe/rock/jersey/etc. at the ball and deflecting it) means that the penalty kick was not “completed.” Therefore, the penalty kick must be retaken after the referee sorts out the other problems.

In addition, referees are reminded that offenses which deny a goalscoring opportunity are not limited to those punishable by a direct free kick or penalty kick but may include fouls or misconduct for which the restart is an indirect free kick. (Which it would have been in this case if the offense had been anything other than a penalty kick.)


WEARING GLASSES [LAW 4; LAW 18; USSF MEMO 070307]
Your question:
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS TO THE LAWS OF THE GAME, June 2003, “Laws of the game” Law 4, The Player’s Equipment states:
“If , in the opinion of the referee, the glasses are dangerous to a player himself, or to an opponent, he does not allow the player to take part in the match.”

Is there any USSF guidance on the issue of prescription glasses?

Most players wear contacts, soft plastic frames, rubber frames or protective goggles over the prescription glasses in metal frames. However, on occasion a player will have prescription glasses with a metal frame. Some referees opinion is that the frame is safe and other referees opinion is that the metal frame is not safe.

Is it appropriate for a referee assignor to remove a referee from a game if the assignor disagrees with the referee’s opinion of the safety of the frames?

USSF answer (July 21, 2003):
The USSF guidance is contained in the March 7, 2003, memorandum on player’s equipment, which can be downloaded from this and other USSF-affiliated sites.

QUOTE
Memorandum

To: State Referee Administrators cc: State Presidents
State Youth Referee Administrators Affiliated Members
State Directors of Referee Instruction
State Directors of Referee Assessment
National Assessors
National Instructors
National Referees
From: Julie Ilacqua
Managing Director of Federation Services

Re: Player’s Equipment

Date: March 7, 2003

________________________________________________________________________

USSF has received a number of inquiries recently about how officials should handle situations where players wish to wear equipment that is not included in the list of basic compulsory equipment in FIFA Laws of the Game. Referees are facing increased requests from players for permission to wear kneepads, elbowpads, headbands, soft casts, goggles, etc.
//remainder of item deleted; you can find the complete document on this site or in other items in the archives//
END OF QUOTE

This, of course, includes eyeglasses of any sort.

No – there is nothing in the Laws of the Game or anything else that allows an assignor to overrule a referee decision with regard to safety; therefore the assignor has no right to interfere in this decision. The assignor is not the aggrieved party if there is a disagreement on the referee’s decision — that would be the player.

The decision of the referee working the game is final on all points of Law — and this is guaranteed in Law 5 (The Referee): “The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play are final.” Player safety is intimately connected with play.



NUMBER OF PLAYERS [LAW 3; LAW 18; ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
Situation is a match that needs a winner. Near the end of overtime, one team is playing with 7 players. One of these players leaves the field for an injury with the referee’s permission and the team continues with 6, hoping that the injured player will return. Overtime ends and it is determined that the injured player is unable to take the kicks.

My “guess” was that you would reduce the other team to seven players and continue the kicks six on seven. The other possible options are to kick six on six, or abandon the match and file a report.

USSF answer (July 21, 2003):
The referee should base the decision on the guidance given in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
QUOTE
3.17 MINIMUM NUMBER OF PLAYERS
Although Law 3 specifies a minimum of seven players in order to start and continue a match, it is not always necessary for all seven to be physically on the field. A match may be continued if a team drops below this minimum number as a result of a player requesting and receiving permission from the referee to leave the field temporarily for treatment of an injury or if instructed by the referee to leave the field to correct bleeding, blood on the uniform, or illegal equipment. In such cases, the referee should be satisfied that the team will be able to field the minimum number within a reasonable period of time. If this is not the case, the referee must abandon the match and describe the circumstances fully in his report.
END OF QUOTE

It all comes down to the quintessentially Washington question — what did the referee know and when did he know it? You did not specify how long the injured player was off the field, but if the amount of time for treatment exceeds the referee’s idea of “reasonable,” then the referee should not hesitate to abandon the game at that moment. On the other hand, if the referee deems the amount of time the injured player was absent from the field to be “reasonable,” then there is no need to abandon the game. This is strictly a matter of judgment for the referee.

The basic principle: If the player off the field for the injury was “known” to be unable to return to the field before the end of regulation play, then the team is down by one at the end of regulation play and the other team must reduce to equate. If the player off the field for the injury was not known to be unable to return to the field until after the end of regulation play, then the reduction in size did not occur until the kicks phase has begun and thus the reduce to equate rule does not apply.

Now the obvious question is HOW does the referee “know” or learn of this central fact. The referee should not make any inferences regarding the length of time the player was off the field or what the injury “looked like” or any other consideration (for example, what would the referee do if he assumed the player could NOT return and then the player did?). The only sure way is for the referee to be told this either by the player or by a recognized team official (e. g., coach or captain). Until this happens, the referee cannot “know” the answer to this question. So, it comes down to the time when the referee was told that the player could not return. Was it before or after the end of regulation play? On this hinges the issue of whether reduce to equate will be applied.


PLAYING IN A DANGEROUS MANNER [LAW 12; LAW 18; ADVICE TO REFEREES]
Your question:
In U12 and 10 what is considered to be dangerous playing (such as playing on the ground)
I had a game where kids where falling left and right because the play was getting pretty hectic. Sometimes the ball got caught on a persons legs while they were down but they were not kicking at it. is this dangerous playing.
Also in the game starts to get rough but no fouls are being committed and the kids are just kicking at the ball and the roughness is even, should i let play continue or stop play and restart with a dropped ball?

USSF answer (July 20, 2003):
Playing the ball while on the ground is NOT NECESSARILY considered to be playing dangerously. It all depends on what the player is actually doing.

Here is what we teach referees about playing in a dangerous manner, taken from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” which can be downloaded from this and other USSF-affiliated sites:
QUOTE
12.13 PLAYING IN A DANGEROUS MANNER
Playing “in a dangerous manner” can be called only if the act, in the opinion of the referee, meets three criteria: the action must be dangerous to someone (including the player himself), it was committed with an opponent close by, and the dangerous nature of the action caused this opponent to cease his active play for the ball or to be otherwise disadvantaged by his attempt not to participate in the dangerous play. Merely committing a dangerous act is not, by itself, an offense (e.g., kicking high enough that the cleats show or attempting to play the ball while on the ground). Committing a dangerous act while an opponent is near by is not, by itself, an offense. The act becomes an offense only when an opponent is adversely and unfairly affected, usually by the opponent ceasing to challenge for the ball in order to avoid receiving or causing injury as a direct result of the player’s act. Playing in a manner considered to be dangerous when only a teammate is nearby is not a foul. Remember that fouls may be committed only against opponents or the opposing team.

In judging a dangerous play offense, the referee must take into account the experience and skill level of the players. Opponents who are experienced and skilled may be more likely to accept the danger and play through. Younger players have neither the experience nor skill to judge the danger adequately and, in such cases, the referee should intervene on behalf of their safety. For example, playing with cleats up in a threatening or intimidating manner is more likely to be judged a dangerous play offense in youth matches, without regard to the reaction of opponents.
END OF QUOTE

One final note: Referees must keep in mind that it is NOT a good idea to stop play because “the roughness is even” and then restarting with a dropped ball. Referees must make a decision that one person or the other started the roughness and deal with that person. The dropped ball is too often the coward’s way out of facing reality and making a decision.


MISCONDUCT BY YOUNGER PLAYERS [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I am curious about the advise for referees when it comes to the use of cards for misconduct in U 12 or younger matches. Does the USSF have any particular advise or customs when it come to this matter.

USSF answer (July 20, 2003):
No player is immune from punishment for misconduct, whether it be minor or more serious. This applies to all age levels, all skill levels, and all levels of competition.

The specific approach you use in handling the mechanics of the card situation, including how the card is displayed and what you say to the player, will depend on the age, skill, and competitive level of the match, along with a host of other factors. Regardless of these factors, however, the referee must be particularly vigilant in dealing promptly, firmly, and correctly with any misconduct that affects the safety of the other players. No player is too young to learn that violence will not be tolerated.


PADDED HEADGEAR [LAW 12; LAW 18; MEMORANDUM OF 030703]
Your question:
I noticed in the USA v. Brazil friendly this Saturday that one fo the Brazilians (Daniela) was wearing what seemed to be padded headgear. Is such padding legal?

USSF answer (July 16, 2003):
The United States Soccer Federation does not take a position one way or another on padded headgear. Such headgear is not part of the player’s required uniform and equipment. The referee is the sole judge of the permissibility of these items, which must meet the requirement in Law 3 that it not be dangerous to any player.

You can find most recent the position paper regarding the issue of equipment on this and other USSF-affiliated wegbsites. You may also have noticed the face masks — not helmets — worn by one or two Korean and Japanese players during World Cup 2002. The use of those face masks was not questioned at any time by the referees or the administration.


QUICK FREE KICKS [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
It has been my personal policy to allow quick free kicks at all times, including near goal, unless a member of the attacking team asks me to administer a ceremonial kick (or if there is misconduct). The problem is, many teams are not used to this approach, and will take their time on the restart allowing the defending team to retreat the distance and set up a wall. While I believe the intent of the quick free kick was for an immediate restart, I can see nothing wrong with the attacking team taking a reasonable (15-20 sec.) delay, nor can I see anything wrong with the formation of the defensive wall (the Board apparently doesn’t want play held up for it, but it’s allowed). Of course, it was always necessary to direct the placement of the wall, as defensive players left to their own devices will set up slightly short of 10 yds…Thus, many of my quick free kicks transpired exactly like ceremonial free kicks, minus the whistle. I found this course to be preferable to doing ceremonial kicks, as it allows the attackers the chance to strike before I have fully moved the defense back, should an opportunity present itself, or if the full retreat is not needed.

Recently I have heard a number of dissenting opinions on this issue. The first expressed that a quick free must be taken quickly (before the defense fully retires) or else the kick is automatically made ceremonial.

The second suggestion was that, though an attacking team may delay as long as it likes (within reason), never, at any point during a quick free kick, should a referee attempt to move defensive players back the full distance (except for Severe encroachment). This sounded extreme, but he pointed out section 13.3 of the Advice which prohibits referee interference and wall management during a quick free kick. There is also a clear implication in 13.5 that the distance is only enforced in the case of a ceremonial restart. He also made the logical argument that, if my system was the correct way of doing things, why would anyone ever ask for a ceremonial restart? (I guess I had always assumed that ceremonial FKs were being phased out by the lawmaking bodies of soccer.)

In ending, my question can be segmented into three parts: 1.) Can the kicking team delay the taking of their quick free kick. 2.) In all QFK cases, should the referee attempt to move back opponents, cautioning encroachers *just as he would for a CFK, (with the Sole exception being defenders who are actively retiring away from the ball passively receiving the ball)*? 3.) If the answer to the above two questions is yes, as I believe it is, what exactly would be the benefit of asking for a ceremonial free kick(from the perspective of the attacking team)?

Any other practical advice you can give me, a relatively inexperienced referee, regarding the handling of free kicks would be extremely helpful.

USSF answer (July 15, 2003):
Before answering your question, there is a point that needs to be made: There is a vast difference between actively encouraging quick free kicks and making them one’s policy at every opportunity. All referees should allow quick free kicks, as provided in ATR 13.3, but the referee cannot cite 13.3 as a reason to avoid taking action against those who fail to respect the required distance. ATR 13.3 should not be cited as a reason to avoid taking action if the failure to respect the required distance resulted in an unfair advantage to the opponents. In other words, back away, watch what happens, and intervene in quick free kick situations where an opponent closer than the minimum required distance actively makes a play for the ball (as opposed to, luckily, having the ball misplayed directly to him).

ATR 13.3 tells us that “The referee should move quickly out of the way after indicating the approximate area of the restart and should do nothing to interfere with the kicking team’s right to an immediate free kick. At competitive levels of play, referees should not automatically “manage the wall,” but should allow the ball to be put back into play as quickly as possible, unless the kicking team requests help in dealing with opponents infringing on the minimum distance.”

Your interlocutor has misinterpreted 13.3, failing to recognize “automatically” as being the operable word in the sentence. The defending team has only two rights at a free kick: (1) the right to remain a minimum of ten yards away until the ball is in play — i. e., is kicked and moves — and (2) the right not to be diverted by the referee interfering with the action in other than a ceremonial free kick situation. This is what the referee is doing when he starts talking with the opponents — even if saying nothing more than to back away — or, worse, when he is actively engaged in being “the first brick in the wall” while still allowing the kicking team to kick whenever it wishes. The ATR lays out a fairly simple set of rules — keep your mouth shut, unless you have to or are asked to step in — in which case the free kick automatically becomes a ceremonial restart and the first thing out of the referee’s mouth had better be an admonition to everyone that the free kick cannot now be taken without a signal by the referee. The kicking team has rights too: the right to a “free” kick, free of interference from the opponents and, if they wish to take the kick quickly, free from the interference of the referee. That is what ATR 13.3 is about. The referee cannot abdicate the responsibility to ensure that the free kick is indeed “free.”

To your questions:
1) “Can the kicking team delay the taking of their quick free kick?”
Only to a point. The kicking team, too, is expected to abide by the requirement to get the ball back in play. The referee should give the kicking team every opportunity to take its free kick, but a player may be cautioned for delaying the restart when they have been instructed by the referee to move ahead with the kick.
2) “In all QFK cases, should the referee attempt to move back opponents, cautioning encroachers — just as he would for a CFK, (with the Sole exception being defenders who are actively retiring away from the ball passively receiving the ball)?”
No. The referee must have a feel for the game, how it has been going, how it is going now. That “feel” must be applied to each and every situation individually. There is no black-and-white formula to follow.
3) “If the answer to the above two questions is yes, as I believe it is, what exactly would be the benefit of asking for a ceremonial free kick(from the perspective of the attacking team)?”
See above.

MATCH CONTROL [LAW 5; LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Had an interesting situation in a match last week. Attacker takes a shot, which is stopped by the keeper. The ball was stopped and in the possession of the keeper, as he was prone with his left hand on the ball. The attacker followed through and kicked the ball out from under the keeper’s hand, apparently scoring a goal. The keeper could not have positioned his body more perfectly to completely screen both coaches from seeing the play, who were both shocked when I blew the whistle, shook my head (I realize not listed as proper mechanics) and clearly signaled with my hands that there was no goal (again, no mechanics in the book, but everyone, especially the attacker’s coach, knew what I was saying). So far, so good. I then glanced at my AR, and he was running up the touchline as though signalling a goal. Oops, thought I, I screwed up. So I went to talk to him and make sure that he saw the same thing I did. Turns out his run up the touchline was to get the emotional coach who had a goal called back to step back off the field – he had wandered onto the field a foot or two.

Now, if I had simply run to the spot, raised my hand for the indirect, and gotten play going again quickly, things would have calmed down pretty quick. I could almost feel the tension and emotion rise as I spoke with the AR, before I got the restart going. My question is this: What does the Center do if the AR apparently is signalling a goal in a situation like this? I may have simply been overcautious, having only a week before had a center signal a goal when it was not, as I was on the goal line and the ball did not go into the goal – in this case my mechanics were correct, center just didn’t look. But I don’t want to go through this experience again – I still had three days to go in camp with these folks!

Also, to what extent should the AR ‘deal with’ a coach? As center, I could hear everything going on from the bench, and had chosen to ignore it – it was an emotional moment, and both coaches were excited (“It’s a Goal!” – “The ball was in the keeper’s hands!” – “Goal!” – “Keeper’s hands!” – “Goal” – “Keeper’s hands” – actually quite a chuckle, in retrospect). I would think that if the coach is such a problem that the AR has to run 50 yards to settle him, then he should probably let me know first by signalling with his flag. Again, your advice is appreciated.

I sure have appreciated your responses to my (and OUR) questions. Now if I can just figure out how to keep up with all those kids with young legs…

USSF answer (July 15, 2003):
Although you did fairly well under the circumstances, you might need to do two things: (1) Remember that the restart for kicking an opponent — which is what happened here; and you could have sent off the attacking player for serious foul play, if necessary — is a direct free kick, not an indirect free kick, and (2) brush up on your mechanics. Your team seems to have reacted a bit too quickly, without the recommended deliberation and eye contact that has to support all specific mechanics. You and the assistant referee (AR) should always exchange information at any stoppage. You look at the AR, the AR looks at you. If the AR nods (or gives any other signal on which you have agreed), you award the goal or the foul or take the punitive action for misconduct. In this case, you should have arranged a signal to show that a goal had NOT been scored. Then you would have recognized that the AR’s apparent “signal” for a goal by running up the touchline was not to indicate a goal, but a message that there was something going on that needed attention — most likely yours. The AR’s job is to cover you when you are otherwise occupied. The AR did that. You had not done your job fully by giving proper instructions or by dealing with the (possibly irresponsible) behavior of the coaches.


WRONG TEAM KICKS OFF [LAW 8; LAW 18]
Your question:
The coin toss gives the blue team first kickoff. Five minutes later the kickoff actually occurs, but the red team has taken the kickoff! The referee realizes this about a minute into the match. What should the referee do (besides being embarrassed) if no one else notices? What should he do if someone complains?

USSF answer (July 15, 2003):
If no one else notices, the referee should let it go. Never interfere where the only result will be to get people confused or angry. If someone complains, the referee should apologize — and let it go. (We are assuming here that the team that won the toss lined up correctly to attack the goal they chose to attack. Surely they would have complained about that?)


DEALING WITH TACTICS AND “CRAFTY” COACHES [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
At the beginning of the second half in a recent U-14 match, one team had one of its players stand at the touch line near the halfway line facing away from the field. Two substitutes stood outside the touch line also facing away from the field (they probably were not a full yard off the touch line, but let’s assume that they were for this question). Before starting the half, I counted the players on the field twice and only counted 10. So I asked the coach if the player next to the touch line was a player or a substitute (I was standing near the center circle at the time and could not see a poorly-painted touch line clearly). The coach became very annoyed because I had unintentionally ruined his ruse (he apparently wanted to hide the player on the touch line, and send him down field for a pass). Was the team’s behavior gamesmanship or a legitimate tactic that I interfered with by not being a bit more aware?

USSF answer (July 15, 2003):
What you describe may be a legitimate tactic, as all players were on the field, but the coach’s reaction to an appropriate question from the referee borders on irresponsible behavior. A warning about responsible behavior might be in order here.


GET THE SUBSTITUTION PROCESS RIGHT! [LAW 3; LAW 18]
Your question:
I was recently reviewing “Advice to the Referee” and under player substitutions it said to the effect that a substitution was complete when the substitute player entered the playing field. Well I thought about it for a moment and I remember all those times I allowed substitutions where the substitute did not enter the field such as in the case where he/she simply ran down the touchline to substitute for a player who was going to take the throw-in. Intuitively, my acknowledgment that the substitute was taking the place of the player who was going to take the throw-in completed the substitution procedure. Are we as referees asking for trouble by not requiring the player to enter the field of play first ? What if the substitute having not entered the field is running down the touchline to make the throw-in punched a player on the field ? Is he at this point a substitute or is he a player ?

USSF answer (July 15, 2003):
The points you bring up are precisely the reason why the referee must control the substitution process so carefully. A substitute does not become a player until he enters the field in accordance with the substitution procedure, and referees ask for trouble if they do not require the substitute to enter the field, just as the Law instructs them. Indeed, the International F. A. Board was so concerned about it that many years ago they included this Q&A in their Questions and Answers to the Laws of the Game under Law 3:
“18. A player being substituted leaves the field of play and the referee signals to the substitute to enter the field. Before entering, however, he delivers a throw-in, ignoring the substitutions procedure stated in Law 3, regarding entering the field of play. Is this procedure permitted?
“No, the substitution procedure stated in Law 3 must first be completed.”


THE DANGERS OF BEING A GOALKEEPER [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I refereed a recreational match (U10/12) Saturday and have a question. Cards are not used in this league.

Here is the scenario, and I hope it is understandable: Team A is attacking Team B. I had cautioned Team A about slide tackles that were questionable (several times). Team A forward is pushing toward the goal and the keeper is moving to intercept it. As the keeper is moving to intercept it, he is also moving so that his body is going low enough to become in contact with the ball. During the keeper’s movement to obtain the ball, the attacker is doing a slide tackle to attempt to prevent the keeper from gaining possession of the ball.

The keeper did get possession of the ball. The attacker almost caught the keeper with a foot to the head ( Fortunately the keeper was quick.). I told the attacker not to slide tackle when the keeper is reaching for the ball as he could have connected with the keeper’s head and caused serious injury. The attacker’s coach yelled from off the field that it was okay, he was playing the ball.

My thoughts were that this could be dangerous play? Under regular rules, possibly a card?

USSF answer (July 15, 2003):
The situation you describe has two players (goalkeeper and opponent) going for the ball on the ground, with the opponent sliding feet first to tackle the ball away from a goalkeeper sliding headfirst toward the ball.

Referees need to remember that the position of goalkeeper is inherently dangerous and the goalkeeper is allowed a bit more leeway than other players in placing himself in danger and thus affecting how his opponents can act. Why? Because it is the ‘keeper’s job to stop the ball from going into the goal, no matter at what height above the ground it may travel. So, would we allow this for the opposing attackers? Not if it places the goalkeeper in danger that he cannot avoid. Is this inconsistent? Yes, but it is the way the game has always been played.

Referees are not empowered to give orders to players about how they can play. Referees may spell out options, but they may not prescribe a course of action — only the consequences of doing something that is counter to the Laws of the Game. The players make their own decisions, based on all levels of input — conscious and unconscious, over and covert — from the referee.

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.

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. What might be a caution (yellow card) in this game might be trifling in another game. Much depends on the level of play, whether recreational or competitive, skilled or less developed, very young or adult.


DELIBERATE HANDLING OR “PROTECTION”? [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
On a Free Kick, defenders set up a wall. When the kick is taken, it goes directly at one of the defenders. The defender “reacts” by protecting himself with his arm and the ball strikes his arm.

How much consideration should the referee place on the fact that the defender “deliberately” placed himself in a position that could “reasonably” expect to have the ball kicked at himself?

USSF answer (July 15, 2003):
Your question is not valid, as it excludes legitimate actions by the players. As long as the defenders respect the required distance at a free kick, they are allowed to place themselves wherever they like — as long as they respect the rest of the Laws of the Game. They may also place their hands/arms where they like, as long as it is in a natural, rather than a contrived position. They may also “protect” themselves from the possible aftermath of a kick that comes their way, as long as they do not use this “protection” as a means to control the ball.

Section 12.9 of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” which will remain unchanged in the upcoming revised edition, tells us
12.9 DELIBERATE HANDLING
The offense known as “handling the ball” involves deliberate contact with the ball by a player’s hand or arm (including fingertips, upper arm, or outer shoulder). “Deliberate contact” means that the player could have avoided the touch but chose not to, that the player’s arms were not in a normal playing position at the time, or that the player deliberately continued an initially accidental contact for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage. Moving hands or arms instinctively to protect the body when suddenly faced with a fast approaching ball does not constitute deliberate contact unless there is subsequent action to direct the ball once contact is made. Likewise, placing hands or arms to protect the body at a free kick or similar restart is not likely to produce an infringement unless there is subsequent action to direct or control the ball. The fact that a player may benefit from the ball contacting the hand does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement. A player infringes the Law regarding handling the ball even if direct contact is avoided by holding something in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.).


PLAYERS BE WARNED! [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Two of our boys received red cards after a U-14 travel league game for “sarcastic remarks” to the referee after the game. Each of these players, the best we can tell, made one comment to the ref during the game (despite our coaching of “don’t say anything to the ref”). The first boy asked “what was the call” on one penalty. The second, when called on an illegal throw in for lifting his back foot stated, “I kept my toe down”. Neither player protested or “dissented” any further, neither of these comments were made disrespectfully, and neither was either informally warned, nor shown a yellow card for “dissent”.

After the game, immediately after the customary “good game” handshake with the opposing team, the first boy said to the ref “thanks for ref-ing the game” and the second boy said to the ref, “good ref-ing”. The referee was clearly upset and kept each players pass (never actually showed either red cards) and stated, after considerable protest by the coaching staff, that the players had been “sarcastic”. Both boys, other teammates who overheard the comments, and the opposing assistant coach (who argued vehemently with the ref defending our players) claimed the comments were made sincerely.

While I understand the necessity of the referee being the final say on “judgement” calls, a red card offfense for language, according to FIFA Law 12, involves “offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures”. Even if our players were sarcastic (again, they were not!), can tone of voice be interpreted as “offensive, insulting, or abusive” enough for a red card to be issued with prior NO warning??

USSF answer (July 15, 2003):
Under normal circumstances, if there was to be any punishment at all, “sarcastic remarks” would merit only a caution (yellow card). Perhaps the players pushed the referee a little harder than you have been led to believe? Not to excuse the referee, who indeed appears to have had a bad day, but this might be a lesson for all of your players: Don’t provoke the referee.


ENDING A PERIOD OF PLAY [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I am a certified referee and I have observed this situation several times, though it has not occurred in any of my games. Here is the question?

The attacking team takes a shot at the goal. The GK calls the ball (³Keeper² to protect himself/herself) and proceeds to place himself/herself in position to stop the goal. The GK¹s teammate (sweeper) runs over and/or slide tackles the Keeper in an effort to prevent the goal thus taking the GK down from behind. Is there a referee call associated with this type of play? A warning the first time it occurs (since it might have been an accident/miscommunication)? What happens if it continues? Does the referee card the sweeper with a possible send off?

USSF answer (July 10, 2003):
Unless the goalkeeper’s teammate uses violence in tackling the ball away from his own goalkeeper, there is no infringement of the Laws here. Best decision? No foul, get on with play.

What kind of competition are you watching where this has happened “several times”? [NOTE: There was no response to this question.]


REFEREES MUST ACT TO ELIMINATE ILLEGAL GAMESMANSHIP [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I understand that certain conventions are accepted by all players in international matches even though the LOTG would seem violated. In many internationals I have seen, and in particular the Paraguay v USA friendly, the defensive teams consistently stand over the ball–ostensibly to argue the merits of the foul call–without any complaints from the attacking team.

Since the referee will not reverse his call, it is clear to me that the actual intent is to prevent the quick taking of the free kick. Here’s my question: should a referee enforce the LOTG even where neither team seems to care?

USSF answer (July 10, 2003):
This tactic of standing over the ball to delay restarts is used for intertwined reasons: the players are coached to do it because many referees are reluctant to do anything about it because they know the players are coached to do it — and it is just “too much trouble” to enforce the Law. The U. S. Soccer Federation’s National Program for Referee Development firmly believes that all attempts to take a quick free kick should be supported by the referee at all levels of the game. If the opponents actively work to prevent the quick free kick or to delay the taking of the free kick until their defense has been set, then the referee must step in and caution/yellow card the offenders for failing to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick or free kick.


ENDING A PERIOD OF PLAY [LAW 7; LAW 18]
Your question:
Recently in a U-9 game that I was coaching my player took a shot and as the ball was flying through the air the sideline AR’s watch beeped, indicating that the quarter had ended. The ball went over the keepers head and into the net, however the center referee did not count it as a goal since the time had run out. Usually in these games, there is stoppage time added on and the referee has in the past always let the play continue until. I could not find anywhere in the Laws of the Game re: this issue. Should it have been a goal? The player took the shot prior to the time running out and normally there should have been stoppage time.

USSF answer (July 10, 2003):
Law 5 empowers the referee to act as timekeeper and to keep a record of the match. Law 7 instructs the referee to add time (at his discretion) for time lost in either half of a game or in any overtime period for the reasons listed in Law 7 (Allowance for Time Lost). Referees are supposed to allow additional time in all periods for all time lost through substitution(s), assessment of injury to players, removal of injured players from the field of play for treatment,wasting time, as well as ³other causes² that consume time, such as kick-offs, throw-ins, dropped balls, free kicks, and replacement of lost or defective balls. Many of the reasons for stoppages in play and thus ³lost time² are entirely normal elements of the game. The referee takes this into account in applying discretion regarding the time to be added. The main objective should be to restore playing time to the match which is lost due to excessively prolonged or unusual stoppages. While most referees will wait until the ball has gone out of play or until there is no threat on either goal before stopping the game, some referees do not. Law 5 tells us that the referee’s decisions regarding facts connected with play are final.

More to the point, however, the watch of the assistant referee is not the official time and should never have been allowed to become audible. Further, the assistant referee’s watch having sounded anyway, the referee should not have automatically signaled for the end of the period: this was an abdication of the referee’s ultimate responsibility to keep the time himself.

In short, your referee decided that the game was over at that moment and blew the whistle. It will be of small comfort to you and your team, but a very famous FIFA Referee once made that same decision (1978 World Cup) and never received any further international appointments.


KEEP A CALM DEMEANOR!/THE “V8” CLAUSE [LAW 13; LAW 18]
Your question:
My son and I have a question that needs your help. We are both refs, but in this game he was a player and I an observer. This was a U16 boys game–his team (team A) was attacking the goal and team B defending. Team B committed a foul resulting in a direct free kick from 30 yards out on the right side of the goal. Team A’s play was to have three players in kicking position–player 1 runs “over” the ball (no touch) from the right; player 2 runs “over” the ball (no touch) from the left; and player 3 takes the kick. As soon as player 1 runs “over” the ball, the line which had be set at 10 yards by the ref collapses toward the ball. By the time the actual kick was taken three players were about 3-4 yards away. The kicker “shanked” the ball and it sailed over the goal line way to the left of the goal. The Ref awarded the defending team (B) a goal kick and play resumed. There is always some dynamics going on and this game was no different. Team A was ahead by 4 goals and the center ref was angry with some of the “gamesmanship” of the a few players from team A. It had gone to the point where he had actually run up to a team A player (player 3 who took the kick), got in his face and yelling loud enough that we could hear clearly from the sidelines what he was saying. That player had one yellow and instead of giving him another and a red kept yelling “how many fouls do you have” “you should know” etc. (I was embarressed for the ref because he had clearly lost his temper.) Back to the question: My son felt that the kick should have been retaken and perhaps cautions given to the players that crashed in on the ball–his contention that the ball was “shanked” because those players had an impact on the kicker. The rules are very clear. My contention is that although the rules are very clear, I thought that the kick went exactly the way it would have, nothing was changed and that under the circumstances it was better to just let the game proceed. As far as the rules are concerned, I know I should probably be eating “crow” but for the flow of the game it was better to let it go. What is your take?

Thanks not only for your answer, but for your service. I enjoy reading your answers,

USSF answer (July 8, 2003):
At this distance in both time and space, we will have to give the benefit of the doubt to the referee on the spot — despite his apparent bad attitude and poor management practices.

Before closing, may I remind you of some very wise words that were once in the Laws of the Game, Law V, International Board Decision 8, familiarly known as the “V8” clause, instructed referees that “The Laws of the Game are intended to provide that games should be played with as little interference as possible, and in this view it is the duty of referees to penalize only deliberate breaches of the Law. Constant whistling for trifling and doubtful breaches produces bad feeling and loss of temper on the part of the players and spoils the pleasure of spectators.” These same words are preserved as an embodiment of the Spirit of the Game in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” section 5.5. We cannot presume to take away the referee’s right to make his or her own judgment of situations.

The core question in this case is whether the obvious violation of Law 13 did in fact make a difference. Was the shanked ball the proximate result of the failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick or free kick? If so, retake after cautioning/yellow card; if not, let play continue and, at most, admonish at the next opportunity.


DURATION OF THE GAME [LAW 7]
Your question:
Just before starting the second half, I realized I had stopped the first half 5 minutes short. Neither team brought it to my attention, nor did my assistants. I reviewed the Laws, but didn’t find anything to cover this. Should I have added 5 minutes to the second half, or ignored the first half time shortage and kept the second half to its normal time? What is proper procedure?

USSF answer (July 8, 2003):
Law 7 requires two equal halves. When you became aware of your error, you should have restarted and finished the first half of (insert appropriate number) minutes. You should then have taken the normal half-time break and played the second half of (insert appropriate number) minutes.

You set aside a Law of the Game if you do not allow two periods of equal length. This is a matter of fact, not referee judgment. If you did not do this, your only recourse is to terminate the game and file a complete report. There is nothing you can do to correct the situation once you have started the “second half” incorrectly and played any amount of time in that period. You must include all details of the match, including any cautions/yellow cards or send-offs/red cards, in your match report.

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.


WHERE DOES THE DISMISSED PLAYER GO? [LAW 12]
Your question:
At any age level under the USSF, does the player who is red carded just have to leave the technical area or do they have to leave the entire playing area including the spectator area? I.e. Must go to the parking lot area?

USSF answer (July 8, 2003):
Law 12 tells us: “A player who has been sent off must leave the vicinity of the field of play and the technical area.” In many circumstances, particularly involving youth players, it may not be possible to apply this requirement strictly. The primary objective of the requirement is to ensure that a player who has been sent off will no longer in any way interfere with, participate in, or otherwise be involved in subsequent play. The failure of a player who has been sent off to meet this objective cannot result in any further disciplinary action against the player by the referee but all details of any incident must be included in the game report. If this is not practical because of the age or condition of the player, the team authorities are responsible for the behavior of the player or substitute.


FOULS ARE UNISEX [LAW 12]
Your question:
My U12 daughter plays teams that consistently hip check opposing players.  I thought this was a foul but officials rarely if ever make the call. The best example of this is occurs when one red player and one blue player are approaching a ball and just before gathering (touching) the ball, the blue player throws her hips into the red player knocking her out of position to play the ball. The blue player, now unopposed, goes on to gather the ball. Please help me understand why this is allowed.

USSF answer (July 3, 2003):
A foul is a foul is a foul. There is no such thing as a “male” foul or a “female” foul. Hip checks are not a proper way to charge and should not be allowed.


GOALKEEPER MOVEMENT AT KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [LAW 14; ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
I recently took part in a High School varsity soccer match, where the score was tied after regulaton and the two overtime periods. We proceeded into a PK shootout to determine the outcome. Our team shot first, and, after the referee had blown his whistle but before our kicker had touched the ball the goalkeeper came charging off his line, dashing and screaming like a maniac running toward the spot. Our kicker, flustered of course, took the shot with the goalkeeper within 5 ft. of him and missed wide, understandably because he had never seen such a thing before and had the goalkeeper in his face. The referee permitted this, and our team went on to lose in the shootout. How legal were this goalkeepers actions, and what are the exact rules on that sort of situation?

USSF answer (July 3, 2003):
We cannot speak for the rules of high school soccer, but this would certainly not be allowed under the Laws of the Game, which require the goalkeeper to remain on the goal line — although he or she can move along the line without coming forward or going backward — during penalty kicks or kicks from the penalty mark. Nor is the goalkeeper allowed to shout and scream and otherwise bring the game into disrepute with such antics as you describe. Those antics would require an immediate caution/yellow card for unsporting behavior.


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK [ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS]
Your question:
What happens if a substitute who was not on the field when the game ended is allowed to participate in PKFTM? If, after the 6th set of PKFTM have just been completed, you are informed by blue and agree that the first red kicker was not on the field at the end of play – do you now restart the PKFTM from scratch, or write it up in your report as a referee error that could not be corrected once “play” (i.e. the next set of PKFTM) had been restarted? And would you caution the 1st red kicker for illegal entry and caution the red player who left for illegal exit for this post-game activity?

USSF answer (July 3, 2003):
If the referee has been so foolish as to allow a player who was not eligible to participate in kicks from the penalty mark, and did not learn of the mistake until after six sets of kicks had been completed, the only remedy is to abandon the match and report the matter in full to the competition authority. Unless, of course, the illegal participant was the final kicker in the sixth set of kicks, rather than the first kicker of the first set. In that case, the kicks had not been restarted and the referee could nullify the shot, caution/yellow card the illegal kicker for entering the field of play without permission and the player who was replaced for leaving the field of play without permission, and have the kick retaken by another eligible member of the red team. In either event, the referee should then do the honorable thing by committing seppuku.


TO CHANGE OR NOT TO CHANGE — THE DECISION, THAT IS [LAW 5]
Your question:
Question, In a highly competitive (for the parents) state cup game of U-12 boys score is tied with several minutes left. The center calls a pk from what looked like a good call to most everyone. The boy who got tripped got up and told the center that he was not touched by the defender he rolled his ankle over trying to move the ball outside and away from pressure. What does the referee do for the restart. An inadvertent whistle assumption and a drop ball? The center said he could not change the call, awarded the pk. Game shortly over 1-0. What’s the right thing to do – Spirit of the game?

USSF answer (July 3, 2003):
The referee may not change a decision after the game has been restarted. If the game has not been restarted since the penalty kick was awarded — in other words, the penalty kick has not been taken — the referee may correct his decision. The correct restart in this case would be a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8.

Let it be repeated: If the referee has not restarted play, any decision made prior to the restart may be changed, no matter what the infringement.


NO REPLACEMENT FOR DISMISSED PLAYER/TOO FEW PLAYERS [LAW 5; LAW 3; LAW 12]
Your question:
I whent to a clinic and the instructor said that when you dissmis a player during the half time the team has the right to start the second half with 11 players because the dissmisal happen at half time is that correct?. also on onother play he said that a game will continue for a reasonable time with less than 7 players when a player is sligly injured a can not continue is tha correct??????? please answerme back

USSF answer (July 3, 2003):
1. No, if a player (not a substitute) is sent off at half time, a team may not play with the same number of players with which they ended the half. They play with one player fewer. Your instructor may be thinking of high school rules. 2. Yes, if a player is momentarily off the field of play to correct a problem with equipment or have a minor injury treated, the team may play shorthanded for a brief amount of time without penalty. Referees should exercise common sense over the amount of such time.

2003 Part 2

CLUB LINESMEN/DO NOT CHAT WITH COACHES [LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
thanks for the reply: one more that came up last night at disciplinary meeting: Ref is explaining a certain call he made with head coach at half-time in the center of the field. The coach had been invited onto the field. Discussion escaltes and becomes confrontational. A club linesmen seems to think there may be a problem, and he walks onto the field to see if the center referee needs assistance. The coach starts to scream at the club linesmen that he shouldn’t be on the field unless invited by the center. I should note that this is a U-10 match and the club linesmen is not a certified USSF ref, but a father of one of the players. The coach goes “nuts” because the linesmen refuses to leave until the coach settles down. My question is this: Does a club linesmen have to be invited onto the field by the center? And does it make any difference if this occurs either at half-time, or after the game?

USSF answer (June 30, 2003):
Under Section 6.6 CLUB LINESMEN, in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” we learn that “the relationship of club linesmen to the referee must be one of assistance, without undue interference or any opposition.” In this case, it would appear that the club linesman was attempting to be supportive of the referee and that the coach was out of line in more ways than one. This situation also illustrates the dangers of inviting coaches anywhere for anything unless the match is over — and even then it’s not a good idea.


NUMBER OF REFEREES IN THE U. S. A. [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
A. How many soccer referees are there in the US today? I realize that there are different levels, but in sum how many people are qualified from USSF’s point of view to officiate at some level of soccer?
B. How many referees is this number short of what USSF would like to see?

USSF answer (June 26, 2003):
There are currently 125,000 referees registered with the United States Soccer Federation. The Federation would like to see many more than that.


RESTARTS AND AFFECTING PLAY [LAW 13; LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Our referee association had an interesting debate about a call made after a corner kick. It seems the younger age groups have picked up a tactical “touch and go” play to their repetoire. The player taking the corner kick barely touches the ball forward and a teammate runs in to take possession, then, dribbles the ball to the goal. Not a problem in itself except the center referee missed the slight touch and stopped play thinking the second player had taken the corner. Of course, the call was an indirect for the defending team. This particular referee also stated, we should encourage the teams to let us know when this play was being made to avoid any confusion in the future. I maintain, referees should not be privy to “plays” and if I had been the center and missed the start, I would have looked for my assistant for a foul signal. After all, the AR is right there! The referee claimed he had to concentrate on what was going on in the box. HHHmmmm . . . positioning, maybe? Anyway, my argument was in the the minority . . . what do you think?

USSF answer (June 25, 2003):
The most important things to note here are that (1) THE REFEREE MUST BE ALERT AT ALL TIMES! It is inexcusable for a referee to miss any play that occurs within his or her view, particularly a restart. If the referee is inattentive and misses the restart, then he or she should look to the nearer assistant referee for assistance. (2) THE LAWS OF THE GAME ARE WRITTEN TO ENCOURAGE ATTACKING SOCCER AND THE SCORING OF GOALS. Referees must not take away an advantage LEGALLY GAINED by the team with the ball.

The remainder of this answer comes from a reply written back in September 2002 (and modified slightly to update references). It covers all aspects of deceptive play.

QUOTE
General Note Regarding Restarts
“Memorandum 1997” discussed amendments to the Laws of the Game affecting all free kick, corner kick, penalty kick, and kick-off restarts. These amendments centered on the elimination of the ball moving the “distance of its circumference” before being considered in play. In all such cases, the ball is now in play when it is “kicked and moves” (free kicks and corner kicks) or when it is “kicked and moves forward” (kick-offs and penalty kicks). IFAB has emphasized that only minimal movement is needed to meet this requirement.
USSF Advice to Referees: further clarification from IFAB suggests that, particularly in the case of free kicks and corner kicks, such minimal movement might include merely touching the ball with the foot. Referees are reminded that they must observe carefully the placing of the ball and, when it is properly located, any subsequent touch of the ball with the foot is sufficient to put the ball into play. Referees must distinguish between such touching of the ball to direct it to the proper location for the restart and kicking the ball to perform the restart itself. In situations where the ball must move forward before it is in play (kick-offs and penalty kicks), there should be less difficulty in applying the new language since such kicks have a specific location which is easily identified.
END OF QUOTE

It is not the referee’s responsibility to ensure that the opposing team is prepared for any restart. That is their job. The referee’s job is to ensure that the Laws of the Game are enforced. What you are questioning is not “trickery” by the kicking team; it is deception, which is allowed by the Laws. Here is an article that appeared a short while ago in our USSF referee magazine, Fair Play:

QUOTE
Affecting Play
Jim Allen, National Instructor Trainer

Using “devious” means to affect the way play runs can be perfectly legal. The referee must recognize and differentiate between the “right” and “wrong” ways of affecting play, so that he or she does not interfere with the players’ right to use legitimate feints or ruses in their game. The desire to score a goal and win the game often produces tactical maneuvers, ploys, and feints designed to deceive the opponent. These can occur either while the ball is in play or at restarts. Those tactics used in restarts are just as acceptable as they would be in the normal course of play, provided there is no action that qualifies as unsporting behavior or any other form of misconduct. The team with the ball is allowed more latitude than its opponents because this is accepted practice throughout the world, and referees must respect that latitude when managing the game. Play can be affected in three ways and each will probably occur in any normal game. In descending order of acceptability under the Laws of the Game, they are: influence, gamesmanship, and misconduct.
To “influence” means to affect or alter the way the opponents play by indirect or intangible means. “Gamesmanship” is the art or practice of winning a game through acts of doubtful propriety, such as distracting an opponent without technically violating the Laws of the Game. However, the referee must be very careful, for while the act may be within the Letter of the Law, it may well fall outside the Spirit of the Law. “Misconduct” is blatant cheating or intentional wrongdoing through a deliberate violation of the Laws of the Game.
Many referees confuse perfectly legitimate methods of affecting play through influence with certain aspects of gamesmanship and misconduct. Influence can cause problems for some referees at restarts. The ball is in play on free kicks and corner kicks as soon as it has been kicked and moves, and on kick-offs and penalty kicks as soon as it is kicked and moves forward. The key for most referees seems to be the requirement that the ball must “move.” The IFAB has directed that referees interpret this requirement liberally, so that only minimal movement is necessary. This minimal movement has been defined as the kicker possibly merely touching the ball with the foot. All referees must observe carefully the placing of the ball for the kick and distinguish between moving the ball with the foot to put it in the proper location and actually kicking the ball to restart the game. Please note: Feinting at a penalty kick may be considered by the referee to be unsporting behavior, but verbal or physical feinting by the kicking team at free kicks or in dynamic play is not. (See below.)
Influencing play is perfectly acceptable. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) have consistently ruled in favor of the use of guile by the attacking team to influence play and against the use of timewasting tactics and deceitful acts by the defending team. The IFAB and FIFA are so concerned over the failure of referees to deal with timewasting tactics that they send annual reminders noting that referees must deal with time wasting in all its forms. IFAB has also consistently ruled that the practice of forming a defensive wall or any other interference by the defending team at free kicks is counter to the Spirit of the Game, and has issued two associated rulings that the kicking team may influence (through the use of feinting tactics) and confuse the opponents when taking free kicks. The IFAB reinforced its renunciation of defensive tactics by allowing the referee to caution any opposing players who do not maintain the required distance at free kicks as a result of the feinting tactics, which can include members of the kicking team jumping over the ball to confuse and deceive the opponents legally. (See the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, May 2000, Law 13, Q&A 6.) The related practice of touching the ball at a free kick or corner kick just enough to put it in play and then attempting to confuse the opponents by telling a teammate to come and take the kick is also accepted practice.
Gamesmanship, by its very name, suggests that the player is bending the rules of the game to his benefit. However, while he is not breaking the letter of the laws that cover play, he may be violating the Spirit of the Laws. Indeed, acts of gamesmanship in soccer can range from being entirely within the letter of the Law to quite illegal. Examples of legal gamesmanship are a team constantly kicking the ball out of play or a player constantly placing himself in an offside position deliberately, looking for the ball from his teammates so that the referee must blow the whistle and stop and restart the game. These acts are not against the Letter of the Laws, and players who commit them cannot be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. Referees can take steps against most aspects of this legal time wasting only by adding time. Remember that only the referee knows how much time has been lost, and he is empowered by Law 7 to add as much time as necessary to ensure equality. Acts of illegal gamesmanship fall under misconduct (see below). Examples: a player deliberately taking the ball for a throw-in or free kick to the wrong spot, expecting the referee to redirect him; a coach whose team is leading in the game coming onto the field to “attend” to a downed player; simulating a foul or feigning an injury. Misconduct is a deliberate and illegal act aimed at preventing the opposing team from accomplishing its goals. Misconduct can be split into two categories of offenses: those which merit a caution (including the illegal forms of time wasting) and those which merit a sending-off. While the attacking team may use verbal feints to confuse the defensive wall or may “call” for the ball without actually wanting it, simply to deceive their opponents, the other team may not use verbal feints to its opponents and then steal the ball from them, e.g., a defender calling out an opponent’s name to entice him into passing the ball to him. Full details on the categories of misconduct and their punishment can be found in the U. S. Soccer Federation (USSF) publication “7 + 7,” which can be downloaded from this and other USSF-affiliated pages.
Look at these methods of affecting play as escalating in severity from the legal act of influencing to gamesmanship, which can range from legal to illegal, to misconduct, which is entirely illegal. Each of these methods will be used by players in any normal game of soccer to gain an advantage for their team. Referees must know the difference between them, so that they can deal with what should be punished and not interfere in an act that is not truly an infringement of the Laws. Thorough knowledge of the Laws of the Game, the Additional Instructions on the Laws of the Game, the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, the USSF Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game, and position papers and memoranda from the National Referee Development Program can help the referee make the correct decision in every case.
END OF QUOTE

These principles apply at all levels of the game.


REFEREE COMMUNICATION DEVICES [LAW 5; LAW 6]
Your question:
I noticed the Referees wearing an earpiece and microphone during the Confederations Cup Competition in France. Is this something new FIFA is doing, and do you know who may be communicating with the Referees during these games? If someone is communicating with the referee using modern electronics what is your opinion?

USSF answer (June 25, 2003):
The referees are participating in a FIFA experiment and are wearing communication devices connecting them with the assistant referees. The referee can speak directly to the ARs, but the ARs must signal the referee individually to establish communication from their devices.

We will probably learn more about the communication devices after the competition is over.


HOLDING (INCLUDING “HAND CHECKS”) [LAW 12]
Your question:
Why is it, in the mens’ game, it is allowed for a player chasing an attacker with the ball to grab and hold? Unless the attacker is flagrantly thrown down, a foul is usually not called. This to me is using the “take him out” defense which is used to neutralize superior speed or skill. This does not seem to be allowed in the womens’ game, and they have more exciting field play, with more goals, but not the speed of the mens game. I don’t mind bumping and tackling, but the grabbing of the shirts and shorts to slow them down and sometimes dragging them down seems to be against the spirt of the game. Anyway, it just bothers me.

USSF answer (June 25, 2003):
If it bothers you, do something about it. Players are not allowed to grab and hold other players. That is called “holding” and is punishable by a direct free kick. While it is up to the referee to enforce the Laws, it is also up to the players to play responsibly and within the Laws. Work through your state association to have the Laws enforced more closely and to educate the players.

Do not forget that the International F. A. Board and FIFA have become so concerned about holding that they issued a directive in 2002 reminding referees that, if the holding is blatant and pulls a player away from the ball or prevents a player from getting to the ball, the action is misconduct (yellow card for unsporting behavior) in addition to being a foul.


SUBSTITUTIONS [LAW 3; RULES OF COMPETITION]
Your question:
Perhaps you could clarify the question I have regarding substitutes. If the Ref stops a youth game ( u19 or lower) to allow a injured player to be attended to–are subs allowed for uninjured players on either team? If the ball has been put out of play and the Referee signals for bench personnel to attend to an injured player—are any subs allowed (injured player only, or anyone, or nobody??). Also during the administering of a card–are subs allowed by either team? I have asked different Refs these questions and have received many different answers. I would appreciate having this cleared up.

USSF answer (June 25, 2003):
Under the Laws of the Game, players may be substituted at any stoppage in play. The reason you get different answers from various referees is that the competitions in which they officiate may have established rules different from the Laws of the Game.


GAMESMANSHIP [LAW 12; 7 + 7]
Your question:
I was recently at a Premier Level boys U17 game between a Colorado team and a team from Cal-North. The Cal-North coach was upset at some of the tactics that were being used by the Colorado team and was complaining to the referee in order to try and get some calls. The Colorado coach suggested that the tactics his team were using fell under the category of gamesmanship and did not warrant any action by the referee. Some of the tactics that I noticed looked a lot like delay and harrassment, and really disrupted the flow of the game. Can you help clarify the following items and let me know whether you think they should have been warned or carded.
– Kicking the ball 10 yards out of bounds on the opponents throw-ins to delay. 10-12 times
– Standing on the touchline in front of throwins to eliminate quick restarts. 5-7 times
– Running players between the kicker and the wall on free kicks to distract the kicking team. 3-4 times
– Exaggerated body language on fouls committed in front of attacking goal. Can’t knock a player down in their first 2/3 of the field, fall down at the slightest touch in the attacking third 10-12 times, mostly ignored
USSF answer (June 21, 2003):
One man’s gamesmanship is another man’s misconduct. There are legitimate ways to affect how play runs, but they are reserved for the team with the ball, not the opponents. Most of the tactics you list should be stopped immediately by the referee. Perhaps the first time the referee should simply warn the player, but after that a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior or delaying the restart of play or failing to remain the required distance away at a free kick would be in order.

Deliberately holding the ball or kicking the ball away at a stoppage — no matter the direction or destimation — is considered to be delaying the restart of play.

Standing on the touchline in front of the thrower is legitimate, provided the player doing the standing does not move with the thrower or otherwise attempt to distract or impede the thrower. If he does that, he should be cautioned for unsporting behavior.

If the defending team runs players between the ball and the wall, that is failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a free kick, a cautionable offense. The same is true if the defending team sends a “stroller” past the ball just before the kick.

Faking an injury or exaggerating the seriousness of an injury or faking a foul (diving) or exaggerating the seriousness of a foul are considered to be unsporting behavior.

You can find a very useful document entitled “7 + 7” on various USSF-affiliated websites. It lists the seven cautionable offenses and the seven sending-off offenses, giving a breakdown for each sort of misconduct.


POOR REFEREEING [LAW 10; LAW 5; LAW 6]
Your question:
My team just finished playing a game where I was quite frustrated with the call a center and side ref made. The ball hit the top post on the goal and came straight down to hit the goal line and it spun out of the goal line into the field and not into the goal. The center ref admittedly says that he didn’t see it go in since he was 30 yards away and in the center of the field. The side referee was 25 yes and could not see it either.  We ascertained this fact by going to his line after the game and there was no way to side the line of the goal line from this position let alone the split second of the balls position.

The side referee was approximately 13 yrs old and was obviously a friend of the team as they celebrated the win together after the game with the opposing team. This happened to disillusion our kids who played an away game and saw this display of jubilation and celebratory high fives with the opposing team and the side ref.

By the way the teams are U13 boy’s team.

I’d like to know the ruling when any ref could not possibly see the ball cross the line. I’d also like to know how can I send a complaint through the proper channels to show my frustration.

USSF answer (June 19, 2003):
The answer is simple: If the referee and the assistant referee cannot confirm that a goal has been scored — in other words, that the ball has completely crossed the goal line between the goalposts and beneath the crossbar — then no goal has been scored. This is not a protestable matter; it is a matter of fact. Any comments regarding fitness, less than optimal positioning, or apparent bias on the part of an official should be directed to the competition authority and/or to the referee organization.

We do apologize for the lack of fitness or preparedness of the referee and the assistant referee who were unable to be in the proper spot to see the action. We also apologize for the young assistant referee’s lack of common sense in celebrating with the winning team. That is uncalled for — and has now been dealt with by your state association.


REFEREES: STICK TO YOUR OWN BUSINESS! [LAW 3; LAW 5; LAW 18; ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
In a recent recreational league women’s game, I had a player take the field who had just come out of a leg cast. She had broken two bones in her ankle 6 weeks prior in a game that I also officiated. I was surprised that she was out on the field and asked if she felt she could play without risk of further injury. She said yes and I allowed her to play. Keeping a close eye on her, I noticed three things: she was unable to turn on the ankle; she hobbled badly/she did not run; and her opponents gave her plenty of room fearing that they might cause her further injury. I expressed to her that I was uncomfortable with her playing and that she should consider taking more time to recover from a serious injury. She claimed to be OK.

I mulled it over for a half and at the end of the half came to the conclusion that one; she was a danger to herself, two; she was changing how the game would normally be played, and three; I might be held liable for a secondary injury. I asked influential players on her team to intercede and request that she not return for the second half. They asked but she would not comply. At that point I asked her directly to volunteer not to play in the second half. She again claimed she was OK and would return to play. Feeling that I had emptied my bag of game management options, I had no choice but to inform her that I would not allow her to return. Obviously, this was not a popular statement, but after some guarded conversation, she complied.

Reviewing my laws, I can not come up with anything other than the still not written but often invoked law 18, common sense, to back my authority to stop her from playing. Was I correct in not allowing her to play? Could I be held liable for a secondary injury? Is there a law prohibiting players from playing the game while seriously injured?

USSF answer (June 19, 2003):
You overstepped your authority by telling the player she could not play. If you have some pretty good evidence that she is seriously injured, you may stop play to have a player examined (and then removed from the field of play), but you may not order her off the field of play.

It is not likely that the referee would be held liable if the indicated course of action were followed. You can’t stop someone from suing, and there’s no way to guarantee that a referee would never be found liable under any circumstances, but it seems unlikely that a referee would be liable in such a case.


SHOW THE CARD! DO NOT LECTURE THE PLAYERS! [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
A fight broke out behind my back during the last 5 minutes of a U16 boys semi-final state championship game. The score at the time was 3 to 0. My AR’s told me that an attacker on the losing team ran up from behind and jumped on the back of a defender on the winning team with no apparent provocation. The defender wrestled the attacker to the ground and was on top of him when I turned and saw the two of them. Both benches ran out on the field but did not engage in violent conduct (NO BRAWL). I ran over and got the two players separarted and then with the help of my AR’s and both coaches I got both teams back to their benches. After deliberating with my assistants I decided to eject both of these players. I went over to each bench and told both the players and their respective coaches that I was ejecting the two players involved in the incident but I did not show the red card to either player. The two players immediately removed their jerseys and fully understood that they went being sent off. Both coaches also understood that the two players were being sent off because the losing coach wanted me to abandon the match (he wanted to replay the game and have another chance to win) and the winning coach requested that he sit his player down to cool off but not be given a card (he knows this player would be suspended for the next game and wanted him for the finals next week). I did not change my decision and the final 5 minutes were played without further incident. At the conclusion of the game both teams exhibited good sportsmanship and formed lines and shook hands. The next day the winning coach protested my send off of his player since he claimed his player only got involved to defend himself and that I never showed his player the red card. Is it necessary to show the red card when sending off a player? In this case both players were already off the field at their benches. My report listed the two players involved in the violent conduct as being sent off for violent conduct. Does this coach have a legitimate protest? The competition authority reviewed the protest and upheld my decision and agreed that both players were sent off and therefore suspended for the next game.

USSF answer (June 19, 2003):
The Law requires that the referee who sends off a player also show the red card: “A player is sent off and shown the red card . . ..” This makes everyone involved realize that the player has been dismissed. The competition authority obviously recognized that you had dismissed the player and rejected the specious argument of the coach that the dismissal should be quashed because you did not show the red card. This should be a warning to you and other referees for future games: Do it right!


OFFENSIVE, INSULTING, OR ABUSIVE LANGUAGE OR GESTURES [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Up front: Excellent work you do with your column. Every referee (and I am in this end of the business for a total of over 30 years in Europe and in the US, not meaning that I am anywhere close to perfect)  can learn a lot. I think every Instructor should make his students aware of your part of the webpage.

My question today:
We have in our area a referee, who makes the captains in his pre-game conference aware of the fact that he sees the mentioning of the word “God” -in any way- as a cautionable offense. And he acts accordingly.
I would understand a caution, if “Oh, my God” or similar is used to show dissent with a referees decision, but just for a missed pass or another mishap (and directed towards the player himself) to caution some body does not seem to be backed up by any part of the law, to me.

As I am not an American, am I missing some part of the use of the word of God and “bringing the game into disrepute”?

What are your thoughts about this?

Thank you very much for your answer.

USSF answer (June 17, 2003):
Many thanks for letting us know that you like the Q&As. We strive to make them as useful as possible.

Your concern about the referee who is zealous in his pursuit of The Deity on the field was addressed in a recent position paper, Misconduct Involving Language/Gestures, dated March 14, 2003, which can be found on this and other USSF-affiliated websites. The answer quotes freely from the position paper.

The matter of taking the name of God in vain can usually be considered a momentary emotional outburst. Such an act is deemed by the position paper as “borderline acceptable, perhaps a trifling offense only,” with which the referee should deal through a stern look or verbal admonishment. Although it is unlikely, if the use of the word goes beyond this and becomes dissent (or unsporting behavior), it is deemed unacceptable misconduct, for which the referee must caution the player and display the yellow card. And, again unlikely, if the use of the word is regarded as offensive, insulting or abusive language, this is more serious misconduct, for which the referee would send off the player and display the red card.

The referee must intelligently apply common sense, feel for the spirit of the game, and knowledge of the way in which player language can affect management of the match in order to distinguish effectively among these forms. Regardless of age or competitive level, players become excited as their personal or team fortunes rise or fall, and it is not uncommon for language to be used in the heat of the moment. Such outbursts, while possibly vivid, are typically brief, undirected, and often quickly regretted. The referee must understand the complex emotions of players in relation to the match and discount appropriately language which does no lasting harm to those who might have heard or seen the outburst. Of course, the player might well be warned in various ways (a brief word, direct eye contact, etc.) regarding his behavior.

The referee might well choose to talk to, warn, admonish, or caution players whose undesirable language occurs in a short, emotional outburst and send off a player whose language is a sustained, calculated, and aggressive verbal assault.

REFEREES MUST TAKE CARE NOT TO INJECT PURELY PERSONAL OPINIONS AS TO THE NATURE OF THE LANGUAGE WHEN DETERMINING A COURSE OF ACTION. THE PRIMARY FOCUS OF THE REFEREE MUST BE ON THE EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT OF THE MATCH AND THE PLAYERS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE OVERALL FEEL FOR THE SPIRIT OF THE GAME.

As to the referee’s announcement to the captains, the only comment we can make is that this is a very dangerous practice. Lecturing players tends to cause two things: Either they remember the lecture vividly and then expect the referee to live up to every word — which can be dangerous to the referee’s health — or they go brain dead and fail to listen at all. USSF referees are taught NOT TO LECTURE PLAYERS before the game, as it can only lead to trouble in managing the game and the players.


PADDED GOAL POSTS [LAW 1]
Your question:
Hi. I’m a concerned parent. My 16-year old daughter recently played in a soccer tournament in Macon, GA. She’s a goal keeper. While attempting to block a shot, she hit her knee against the goal post at a full run. The goal post was a square, steel guirder. It split her knee wide open. She ended up with 16 stitches (8 inside, 8 outside), but thankfully, other than the scar, there doesn’t appear to be any permanent damage. We won’t be sure until she goes back to keeper training. I’m on a campaign now to make all goal posts round or padded. If she had hit her head instead of her knee, I’m afraid we would have lost her. It is not at all unusual for goalies and players to hit the goal posts during the excitement of the game. I understand that Law 1, The Field of Play, states that goals are to be made of wood, metal or other approved materials. Their shape may be square, rectangular, round or elliptical and they must not be dangerous to players. I think my daughter’s injury shows how square metal posts can be very dangerous to players. I’d like to find out how to petition to change that law so that goal posts are safer. Any assistance you can offer is greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (June 17, 2003):
You will be fighting an extremely uphill battle to have the Law changed. First, you must have your state put forward a proposal to the Federation (USSF). It must be approved by USSF — unlikely — and then forwarded to the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the people who make the Laws of the Game. (No, it is not FIFA, no matter how many people think so. FIFA simply publishes and administers the Laws for the IFAB.) It is even more unlikely that the IFAB would make this change. The Laws already offer a multiplicity of options for goals, so each step along the way will simply suggest that you lobby for a change locally.

As to padded goals, these are mandated by at least one park system — but not by any soccer programs — here in the United States. I believe it is somewhere in Georgia. Such goals are not popular with the players, because they cause unpredictable bounces of the ball, allowing it to either drop immediately to the ground or deflect away in random directions.


GRADE 9 OFFICIALS [ADMINISTRATIVE]
Your question:
This is not an onfield rules question but one regarding responsibilities of grade level. My understanding of Grade 9 officials is that they are qualified to officiate at center or as an assistant on U-14 games or below. This is information I have gathered from my Grade 8 recertification course this year and from the USSF Referee Administrative Handbook. The referee assignor in our area is convinced that Grade 9 officials can only act as AR’s. I have included the text of our recent e-mail’s below for further details regarding this issue. If you could shed some light on this, I would certainly appreciate it.

USSF answer (June 16, 2003):
Grade 9 officials may do centers or lines on U-14 RECREATIONAL games. They may also act as assistant referees on U-14 COMPETITIVE games, but may not be the referee on U-14 competitive games.


FOULS IN THE PENALTY AREA
Your question:
I’ve been a ref for 4 years. Over that time, the books I’ve read and the clinics I’ve been to have put forth the guideline that a foul is a foul, we should call them consistently wherever they occur, including the penalty area. In watching professional and international games it is clear that those refs operate on a different principal. So, what’s the deal? Are the standards different for youth and amateur vs. the pros? This isn’t addressed in either the LOTG or the USSF’s Advice to Referees, that I can find.

USSF answer (June 13, 2003):
The standards are the same for youth and adult soccer as they are for the professionals. About the only thing that might be different is that the referees at the professional level are better at discriminating between what is truly a foul and what less-experienced referees may call in a youth or adult league game.

Yes, a foul is a foul is a foul . . . but what the referee DOES about the foul is greatly dependent on the skill and experience of the players, the “temperature” of the match at that point, and a host of other factors. Ralph Waldo Emerson warned that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” — which is good advice for referees. Consistency is not always a good thing.


PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT
Your question:
Despite the excellent advice and guidance provided in 2002 regarding Persistent Infringement, I am unable to locate a definitive, written reference to the following question. After having issued a caution for four hard fouls against the same opponent, how should the referee regard additional infringement by the same player? Assuming the same behavior continues, would one or two more fouls be enough for a second caution? Does the first yellow card ³cover² the first four fouls, suggesting three more is more appropriate? Your assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (June 13, 2003):
Perhaps you are looking too hard and failing to see what is right in front of you. If a player has been cautioned and shown the yellow card for persistently infringing the Laws of the Game, then if he continues to infringe the Laws he should be cautioned again (second yellow card) and then sent off and shown the red card for receiving a second caution in the same match.

In addition, the referee in this case should look to his man-management skills. If the referee’s only tool in managing players is his cards, then he will have many very long and difficult games.


DANGEROUS FIELDS
Your question:
We are working games for an adult league this summer whose fields raise a question. The touch lines have been placed so that on each field, two American Football goal posts have their centered upright on a touch line. While this requires care by the AR on that side, we “work around” the problem in order to have games. (The league was unable to secure other fields due to drought closures.) While the post holding the goal is on the touch line, the right angle extension and goal assembly (the horizontal and upright portion) extend over the pitch.

These obstuctions do not meet the criteria for an “outside agent” nor are they part of the soccer / American football goals. Is the 2000(?) answer still in effect and should these goal posts be treated as one would the trees or wires overhanging the field? “Trees or wires overhanging the field are pre-existing conditions and do not affect either team more adversely than the other. If a ball hits them, play should continue, unless the ball rebounds into touch or over the goal line, in which case the appropriate restart would be based on which team had played the ball last.”

USSF answer (June 11, 2003):
Before answering the original question, a statement for you and other referees to ponder: While these fields are obviously unsafe, they apparently have been approved for use by the competition. In that case, the officials — who can certainly choose not to work these games — must exercise great care to protect both themselves and the players.

Given that the fields, as they exist, have been approved by the competition, the posts on the lines constitute pre-existing conditions, so any ball that strikes any part of them and rebounds into the field will be considered to be in play.

NOTE: We have seen photos and these fields are scary. The matter has been reported to referee authorities in this state.


EARLY MOVEMENT FROM THE WALL/’KEEPER MOVEMENT
Your question:
Late in a tied, competitive adult co-ed game, an obvious DFK was awarded 25 yards from goal. A defensive player broke from the wall and charged the ball after the whistle but just before the kick. Timing was such that a whistle would have been simultaneous with the kick. I decided to hold off and see what happened. The keeper deflected the shot, which fell to the attackers who eventually somehow scored in the resulting melee. I awarded the goal, started breathing again, and warned the encroacher.

Questions: Should I have whistled the encroachment immediately, regardless of the impending kick, cautioned the encroacher, and allowed a re-kick? Should I have stopped it when the GK deflected the shot, cautioned the encroacher, and allowed a re-kick? Or what? This was a very intense situation – highly emotional. A lot was going on in the wall, etc.  I like it when the game ramps up like that; I just want to get it right. Good fun! Thanks!

Note on your comments re the AC Milan GK coming off his line during the PKs: I understood you to instruct referees to uphold Law 14, which would include penalizing the GK for coming off the line, and awarding a re-kick. I keep hearing this, even at advanced clinics, yet in reality I do not observe this part of Law 14 being enforced in the World Cup, UEFA, MLS, whatever. Any ref who dares to enforce GK encroachment really hears it from players, coaches, etc. They all watch the same games we do. It’s not going to work until we all observe it being enforced consistently at the highest levels. I want to make it through the parking lot alive, too, just like Mr. Markus and his crew.

USSF answer (June 10, 2003):
1. Your decision to wait on enforcing the requirements of Laws 12 and 13 was correct in this case, although you could have cautioned and shown the yellow card to the player who failed to respect the required distance at the free kick. The basis for waiting is that, under Law 5, you can apply advantage to misconduct just as is done with fouls.

2. Enforcement of the requirement that the goalkeeper remain on the goal line until the ball has been kicked has to begin somewhere. The IFAB has amended the Additional Instructions for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials for 2003 to read: “The Penalty Kick. It is an infringement to enter the penalty area before the kick has been taken. The goalkeeper also infringes the Laws if he moves from his goal line before the ball has been kicked. Referees must ensure that when players infringe this Law appropriate action is taken.”

The USSF Advice to Referees regarding this change is as follows:
“The reference to ‘enter the penalty area before the kick has been taken’ includes players moving closer than ten yards to the ball (i. e., entering the penalty arc) and moving closer to the goal line than the ball (i.e., moving closer to the goal line than twelve yards). Referees must also ensure that the goalkeeper does not move off the goal line before the ball is in play. However, although the International Board emphasized the need for referees to take appropriate actions when players violate the requirements of Law 14, referees must continue to differentiate between those violations which clearly had an impact on subsequent play and those trifling violations which clearly had no impact.”

In other words, the referee must have the courage to punish infringements that are not trifling and to order the kick to be retaken.


MORE REFEREES IN NEED OF IMPROVEMENT/DUTIES OF THE CAPTAIN
Your question:
I have always felt that being a referee is a tough job and as a parent and spectator I try not to make the job any more difficult than it already is. Here is my question. As I understand the rules of the game in Wright County Minnesota, the coach and players can discuss rules and/or calls with the referees before or after the game. It is the responsibility of the team captain to present any questions, concerns or disputes to the referees during the game. Of course all discussions need to take place in a timely and respectful manner. Based on the assumption that my understanding of the rules is correct, what other course of action should the player have taken in the following scenario: I have a daughter, in the U-18 level who played goalie in Eden Prairie on tuesday evening June 3rd. During the course of the game Jessica and other players were subjected to verbal abuse by a group of spectators. This verbal abuse took place while the spectators were directly behind the goal and included such comments to the goalie as “they are coming to get you” and “eat it goalie”. Comments to the other players included racial slurs such as “Asians get off the field”. These comments were delivered with enough malice to bring tears to my daughter’s eyes. A true sportsman, Jessica did not acknowledge them or their comments. The team captain requested that the center referee ask the spectators to “quit harassing my goalie”. No action was taken. After the completion of the game, Jessica waited until the teams had wished each other well and approached the nearest referee, who happened to be a side line judge. Jessica said in a respectful voice “Excuse me sir, I believe it is unfair….”. This is as much as the referee allowed Jessica to speak. At this time he interrupted her, pointed to the parking lot and said “Go home” and walked away.  My daugter felt the calls the referees made during the game were correct and fair to both teams. She was obviously unhappy with the negative support shown by her opponent’s fans. The player wished to exercise her right to object to the lack of action taken regarding the spectators. So the question remains what should a player do if they feel there is a problem?

USSF answer (June 9, 2003):
There are good and bad referees all over the place. Your team happened to get two of the bad ones, people who cannot be bothered to protect the Spirit of the Game. The people behind the goal should not have been allowed to bother the goalkeeper (whether your daughter or not ) and the referee should have dealt with these people.

The captain cannot raise any issues with the referee or the assistant referee. The captain’s duties are spelled out in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
19.4 THE ROLE OF THE TEAM CAPTAIN
The role of the team captain is not defined in the Laws of the Game. He usually wears an armband. The captain is responsible to the referee for his team, but has no special rights or privileges. By practice and tradition, certain duties fall upon the team captain:
-to see that the referee’s decisions are respected by the captain’s teammates and by team officials;
-to counsel a teammate who may be reluctant to leave the field at a substitution ‹ but neither the captain nor the referee may insist that the player leave;
-to represent his or her team at the coin toss to determine which direction the team will attack to begin the game (and subsequent overtime periods) or which team will take first kick in kicks from the penalty mark;
-to be the team representative to whom the referee must go to obtain the name or names of members of that team who must be withdrawn from participating in kicks from the penalty mark in order to match the size of the opposing team (which has fewer players on the field before or during the kicks from the penalty mark procedure as a result of injury or misconduct).

However, a captain — or any other player — who has a legitimate concern should be able to speak with the officials politely, as your player did, and expect to get a polite response in return.

Please accept our apologies for these incidents, which should never have been allowed to happen. We have informed the state authorities of the matter, hoping that they will deal with the officials concerned. And you might consider filing a report with your daughter’s team’s league — perhaps not so much regarding the referee’s behavior as the behavior of the spectator’s. This is based on the theory that the competition authority has some responsibility here as well.


JUNIOR AND SENIOR ASSISTANT REFEREES?
Your question:
Lately, I have heard of Junior and Senior Assistant Referees. What is the difference? Is the center referee supposed to assign them these positions? Do they have any special responsibilities? Thank you very much for your response.

USSF answer (June 9, 2003):
At the professional level and perhaps in highly-organized adult soccer, the senior and junior assistant referees are designated as such by the assignor. In other competitions the distinction is either not made or the designation of senior assistant referee is made by the referee.

The significance of the terms varies with the competition. In some competitions, the fourth official official will take over if the referee cannot continue with the game. In other competitions, particularly those that do not assign fourth officials, the senior assistant referee will take over if the referee cannot continue. One feature of the senior AR that is standard for all competitions is that the senior takes the team bench side of the field.


YOUTH SUBSTITUTION RULES
Your question:
There has been a bit of a flap of late . . . about subs in U16-19 boys games. The question came up for me, too, as the assignor in the local state Snicker’s Cup finals, and the tournament’s decision was that subs were unlimited in the Snicker’s Cup competition regardless of the age group or gender.

Under the LOTG, a national association can set the rules for competition, and as such, they can mandate how many subs may be nominated, from 3 to 7. And, in “other matches” subs may be used if the teams reach agreement on how many, and the ref knows this before they start.

In the US, virtually all youth matches at the U16-19 level, whether boys or girls, and most, if not all, recreational adult leagues, use an unlimited sub format, at least they do everywhere I’ve been, and including my home state.  Under Law 3 a maximum of 7 subs are available, which is what USYSA has adopted by mandating in youth games rosters be cut off at 18, or at least that is my argument. But how do they get around the provisions of Law 3 which say a player who is substituted may not take further part in the match? Technically, the U16-19 boys, and all adult male recreational leagues who are not “veteran” footballers” have to do the limited sub routine. One could be a bit cynical and say the U16-19 boys and all adult male players under the age of 35 suffer from the disability of being young and male, which from the many games I’ve done at this level is not entirely preposterous, however, surely that is not what they meant?

It seems the states have adopted the practical view that it is impossible to have two standards of substitution within one sphere of competition, and so they extend the rule for the many to cover the few (the U16’s & up males). It is clearly stated in the [state] Rules of Competition that all age groups have unlimited subs, and the men’s league gets around it by not mentioning it at all, and the common practice has always been that subs are unlimited.  I guess you would tell me the intelligent referee will go with the flow here, as common sense would dictate?

But, if the referee in a U19 boys game allows unlimited subs as per local practice, and an appeal of the game is made by a team who had only 14 players, one of whom was never used, the two who came out never went back in, and assume it is appealed all the way to national, what will be the most likely decision on this issue? Did the referee commit an error of misapplication of the LOTG? If so, does it require the replay of the game? Is the referee in any danger from a litigation standpoint if s/he did not enforce the letter of the Law, both from a liability stand point, and from the view of USSF, who must defend him/her?

The issue is one that comes up over and over in clinics, and it has been difficult to give a definitive answer, given the black and white print in our flexible little book. Can you provide me with some help here?

USSF answer (June 9, 2003):
According to the most recent USYSA policy on players and playing rules,
QUOTE
Rule 301. RULES OF PLAY

Section 1. Except as provided by USYSA or its State Associations, the FIFA ³Laws of the Game² apply to all competitions sponsored by USYSA. Players under 10 years of age may play soccer in accordance with the rules of USYSA¹s Development Player Program‹Modified Playing Rules for Under 10, Under 8, and Under 6.

//snip//

Rule 302. SUBSTITUTIONS

Section 1. Except as provided by USYSA or its State Associations, substitutions shall be unlimited except where specified otherwise in the rules and regulations for a special competition.

Section 2. Substitutions may be made, with the consent of the referee, at any stoppage in play. END OF QUOTE

Some special competitions do run slightly different rules, as provided in the policy manual. For specifics on local competitions, consult with the competition authority. Following the rules of the competition will rarely get the referee in trouble.


FAILURE TO RESPECT THE REQUIRED DISTANCE
Your question:
I have a question regarding free kicks near the penalty box. If a wall is set up 10 yards away from the ball, and then the ball is kicked and the wall jumps forward, is it encroachment??? Some local officials think it is, some don’t. There has been some discrepency in our area. E-mail me back with the answer of if it is encroachment or not; and if it is, is it a yellow card???

USSF answer (June 5, 2003):
There is no such thing as “encroachment” under the Laws of the Game. If an opposing player moves too close to the ball before it has been kicked, he has failed to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick or free kick, a cautionable offense — if the referee believes it to have been such.

In the scenario you present, the opposing players did not move toward the ball until it had been kicked, so they have not infringed on the Law. No offense.


WITH WILD ABANDON
Your question:
Is a rule about abandonment of a game listed in the ‘Laws of the Game’ booklet? What is the rule that applies if one team abandons a game that is underway?

USSF answer (June 5, 2003):
According to Law 5, the Referee may stop, suspend or terminate the match, at his discretion, for any infringements of the Laws or because of outside interference of any kind.

A team has no right or authority to abandon a game. If a team refuses to take the field after a stoppage (e. g., the midgame break) or if enough players apparently deliberately remove themselves from the field that the number of players drops below the minimum (7), the intelligent referee will first attempt to determine and (if possible) correct the cause. If this action is unsuccessful, the referee must declare the match abandoned. Full details of the circumstances must be included in the match report.


JUST WRITE UP THE REPORT — NO EDITORIALIZING
Your question:
Referee report is reporting three send-offs for “violent conduct”. Besides the sanctions imposed for mandatory dismissal for next “same” game, and the only thing written on report is : striking and opponent. All 3 players fists involved. Ball not in play. Striking after foul.

Question …. should here be a separate referee report for each player involved?

Question #2.. should there be anytihng in a report that would indicate that more than one, or two, game suspension be imposed?

USSF answer (June 5, 2003):
There should be a separate write-up for each send-off/red card for violent conduct. There is no call for the referee to make any comments recommending the length of the suspension. The severity of the incident should be made clear in the individual write-ups, rather than through editorial comment.

Any punishment for a caution beyond the game in which it occurs is up to the competition authority to decide. Any punishment for a red card beyond the game in which it occurs and suspension from the team’s next match is up to the competition authority to decide. The referee should stick to the formal reason for the card (yellow or red), plus any additional FACTS which indicate why this particular reason is appropriate.

A referee could, if appropriate, provide supporting facts to indicate that a card was given to the wrong player, but even this must be decided by the competition authority.


OWN GOALS
Your question:
In our Grade 8 training class the instructor said several times that “you can’t score against yourself.” Does this mean that if the defending team, while trying to defend their goal, accidently kicks the ball into their own goal I restart with a corner kick?

USSF answer (June 5, 2003):
Your instructor was referring to those instances in which play is being restarted. The Laws of the Game do not allow a team to score against itself directly from any restart (goal kick, corner kick, throw-in, and so forth). “Directly” means that no one on either team has touched the ball between the restart and the ball entering the goal. A team can score against itself, called an “own goal,” during any time that the ball is in play and from any sequence following the next touch after a throw-in or indirect free kick.


THREE DIFFERENT PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW . . .
Your question:
1. I would like you to tell me what FIFA will do in this game incident: In Our Soccer League ATLETICO is playing COBRAS in a Championship match.

Team atletico scores early in the first half and the score stays 1-0 at the end of the half.

starting the second half COBRAS have 12 players in the field and the Referee and AR’s did not notice it games goes on and COBRAS scores the tying Goal in the 8th min. game restarts and in the 10 min. a Fan notices that Cobras is playing with 12 players and talks to the AR who brings it to the attention of the center referee, he cautions w/ a Yellow card to the extra player and game continues at 83 min. COBRAS scores again making it 2-1 and stays like that until the end of the game. Now ATLETICO Protests to the League in the Basis that the tying goal should have been disallowed because the other team had 12 players at time of scoring. What FIFA would do? take it to the Appeals Board and let them decide about Replaying the whole game with score 1-1?, or replay 10 min with the score 1-1 or 2-1 ? what this League should do?

2. I have a question regarding having too many players on the field. In my game this past weekend, the other team began the second half with 12 players, without the ref or linesmen spotting this infringement. it was about 15 minutes into the half when the other team scored a crucial ting goal. It was at this time that a spectator informed our team that the other team had been playing with 12 players since the beginning of the second half. We then pointed this out to the ref, and as he was counting the players on the other team, one player ran off the field to their bench. The ref then cautioned the coach of the other team for playing with 12 players, but did not take away the goal that was scored.

I looked in the FIFA Laws of the Game, and didn’t see anything really like this situation. It seems clear cut that if a team commits a foul, or some type of infringement such as offsides, and then scores, the goal should be withdrawn. What would you say to this?

3. i have a little inquiry about the officiating of a game i was in this weekend. it happen to be a semifinal game for the ‘copa tecate cup.’ the game was 1-1 at half time and the opposing team had 12 players on the pitch. this wasn’t noticed until after they scored to make it 2-1. when someone brought it to the refs attention he simply gave them a yellow card and the game resumed. my question is what is the official procedure for a ref to my scenario. does my team have a case in pleading for a replay (rematch). please let me know the proper rules and how it should be handled.

USSF answer (June 5, 2003):
If the referee had already restarted the game after the goal was scored, then there is nothing the referee can do about it. If the referee had noticed that there were too many players before restarting, then the goal would have been taken away. Naturally we are concerned that the referees and assistant referees did not notice the extra player, as they are expected to count players all the time, just to be safe.

In any event, the referee’s action in cautioning the coach was incorrect and not in accordance with the Law. The proper action would be to caution the 12th player (assuming this person could be identified). The referee must submit complete details in his match report.

And FIFA would do nothing other than this if they were dealing with the game.


DECEPTION BY THE TEAM WITH THE BALL
Your question:
I was refereeing at a tournament and was a center for an U12 match. I awarded a direct kick about 20-25 yds out to team A. Team A then asks for ten yards, I instruct Team A to wait for my whistle before restarting. I count off the ten yards, take position, and blow my whistle. Team A then has player 1 straddle the ball as if to tie his shoe and says aloud, “Wait, I have to tie my shoe”. While straddling the ball, player 2, who was standing next to the ball, proceeds to tap the ball to player 3 who one times it into the goal. I awarded the goal. My thinking was, I blew the whistle ball, the ball was in play, regardless if player 1 had said anything at all. Team B argued that Team A (player 1) had asked for time to tie his shoe. My reply was, I blew the whistle to initiate play, plus I never acknowledged the player wanting to tie his shoe. Was I right in awarding the goal, or as I overheard (from a coach from the same club) later refereeing another game that I should have awarded a indirect free kick to Team B because of unsportsman like behavior?

USSF answer (June 3, 2003):
Your response to the situation was correct. Just to benefit other referees (and players and coaches, who also read this material), here is some reading material from an answer of April 2002:

BEGIN QUOTES FROM ANSWER OF APRIL 2002

QUOTE
General Note Regarding Restarts
“Memorandum 1997” discussed amendments to the Laws of the Game affecting all free kick, corner kick, penalty kick, and kick-off restarts. These amendments centered on the elimination of the ball moving the “distance of its circumference” before being considered in play. In all such cases, the ball is now in play when it is “kicked and moves” (free kicks and corner kicks) or when it is “kicked and moves forward” (kick-offs and penalty kicks). IFAB has emphasized that only minimal movement is needed to meet this requirement. USSF Advice to Referees: further clarification from IFAB suggests that, particularly in the case of free kicks and corner kicks, such minimal movement might include merely touching the ball with the foot. Referees are reminded that they must observe carefully the placing of the ball and, when it is properly located, any subsequent touch of the ball with the foot is sufficient to put the ball into play. Referees must distinguish between such touching of the ball to direct it to the proper location for the restart and kicking the ball to perform the restart itself. In situations where the ball must move forward before it is in play (kick-offs and penalty kicks), there should be less difficulty in applying the new language since such kicks have a specific location which is easily identified.
END OF QUOTE

It is not the referee’s responsibility to ensure that the opposing team is prepared for any restart. That is their job. The referee’s job is to ensure that the Laws of the Game are enforced. However a cautionary comment is probably in order here: The referee must be wary of being dragged into any otherwise legal deception practiced by the team with the ball. In this situation, the referee (you) may have contributed to the success of the kicking team’s plot by not acknowledging the request and delaying the restart until the player tying his shoe was finished. The defenders were possibly lulled by the direct request and the reasonable expectation that the referee (you) would grant that request.

What you are questioning is not “trickery” by the kicking team; it is deception, which is allowed by the Laws. Here is an article that appeared a short while ago in our USSF referee magazine, Fair Play:

QUOTE
Affecting Play
Jim Allen, National Instructor Trainer

Using “devious” means to affect the way play runs can be perfectly legal. The referee must recognize and differentiate between the “right” and “wrong” ways of affecting play, so that he or she does not interfere with the players¹ right to use legitimate feints or ruses in their game. The desire to score a goal and win the game often produces tactical maneuvers, ploys, and feints designed to deceive the opponent. These can occur either while the ball is in play or at restarts. Those tactics used in restarts are just as acceptable as they would be in the normal course of play, provided there is no action that qualifies as unsporting behavior or any other form of misconduct. The team with the ball is allowed more latitude than its opponents because this is accepted practice throughout the world, and referees must respect that latitude when managing the game. Play can be affected in three ways and each will probably occur in any normal game. In descending order of acceptability under the Laws of the Game, they are: influence, gamesmanship, and misconduct.

To “influence” means to affect or alter the way the opponents play by indirect or intangible means. “Gamesmanship” is the art or practice of winning a game through acts of doubtful propriety, such as distracting an opponent without technically violating the Laws of the Game. However, the referee must be very careful, for while the act may be within the Letter of the Law, it may well fall outside the Spirit of the Law. “Misconduct” is blatant cheating or intentional wrongdoing through a deliberate violation of the Laws of the Game. Many referees confuse perfectly legitimate methods of affecting play through influence with certain aspects of gamesmanship and misconduct. Influence can cause problems for some referees at restarts. The ball is in play on free kicks and corner kicks as soon as it has been kicked and moves, and on kick-offs and penalty kicks as soon as it is kicked and moves forward. The key for most referees seems to be the requirement that the ball must “move.” The IFAB has directed that referees interpret this requirement liberally, so that only minimal movement is necessary. This minimal movement has been defined as the kicker possibly merely touching the ball with the foot. All referees must observe carefully the placing of the ball for the kick and distinguish between moving the ball with the foot to put it in the proper location and actually kicking the ball to restart the game. Please note: Feinting at a penalty kick may be considered by the referee to be unsporting behavior, but verbal or physical feinting by the kicking team at free kicks or in dynamic play is not. (See below.)

Influencing play is perfectly acceptable. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) have consistently ruled in favor of the use of guile by the attacking team to influence play and against the use of timewasting tactics and deceitful acts by the defending team. The IFAB and FIFA are so concerned over the failure of referees to deal with timewasting tactics that they send annual reminders noting that referees must deal with time wasting in all its forms. IFAB has also consistently ruled that the practice of forming a defensive wall or any other interference by the defending team at free kicks is counter to the Spirit of the Game, and has issued two associated rulings that the kicking team may influence (through the use of feinting tactics) and confuse the opponents when taking free kicks. The IFAB reinforced its renunciation of defensive tactics by allowing the referee to caution any opposing players who do not maintain the required distance at free kicks as a result of the feinting tactics, which can include members of the kicking team jumping over the ball to confuse and deceive the opponents legally. (See the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, November 1990, Law XIII, Q&A 7 and 8.) The related practice of touching the ball at a free kick or corner kick just enough to put it in play and then attempting to confuse the opponents by telling a teammate to come and take the kick is also accepted practice.

Gamesmanship, by its very name, suggests that the player is bending the rules of the game to his benefit. However, while he is not breaking the letter of the laws that cover play, he may be violating the Spirit of the Laws. Indeed, acts of gamesmanship in soccer can range from being entirely within the letter of the Law to quite illegal. Examples of legal gamesmanship are a team constantly kicking the ball out of play or a player constantly placing himself in an offside position deliberately, looking for the ball from his teammates so that the referee must blow the whistle and stop and restart the game. These acts are not against the Letter of the Laws, and players who commit them cannot be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. Referees can take steps against most aspects of this legal time wasting only by adding time. Remember that only the referee knows how much time has been lost, and he is empowered by Law 7 to add as much time as necessary to ensure equality. Acts of illegal gamesmanship fall under misconduct (see below). Examples: a player deliberately taking the ball for a throw-in or free kick to the wrong spot, expecting the referee to redirect him; a coach whose team is leading in the game coming onto the field to “attend” to a downed player; simulating a foul or feigning an injury. Misconduct is a deliberate and illegal act aimed at preventing the opposing team from accomplishing its goals. Misconduct can be split into two categories of offenses: those which merit a caution (including the illegal forms of time wasting) and those which merit a sending-off. While the attacking team may use verbal feints to confuse the defensive wall or may “call” for the ball without actually wanting it, simply to deceive their opponents, the other team may not use verbal feints to its opponents and then steal the ball from them, e.g., a defender calling out an opponent¹s name to entice him into passing the ball to him. Full details on the categories of misconduct and their punishment can be found in the U. S. Soccer Federation (USSF) publication “7 + 7” and on the USSF Referee Homepage [at the URL given there].

Look at these methods of affecting play as escalating in severity from the legal act of influencing to gamesmanship, which can range from legal to illegal, to misconduct, which is entirely illegal. Each of these methods will be used by players in any normal game of soccer to gain an advantage for their team. Referees must know the difference between them, so that they can deal with what should be punished and not interfere in an act that is not truly an infringement of the Laws. Thorough knowledge of the Laws of the Game, the Additional Instructions on the Laws of the Game, the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, the USSF Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game, and position papers and memoranda from the National Referee Development Program can help the referee make the correct decision in every case.
END OF QUOTE

These principles apply at all levels of the game.
END QUOTES FROM ANSWER OF APRIL 2002

And, in any event, even were the referee to say that cautionable misconduct occurred, the restart (after the card) would be the original free kick, not an indirect free kick new restart because, by definition, the misconduct occurred during a stoppage of play. The most the referee could do here, under appropriate circumstances, is to decide that the ploy was in fact a delay of the restart of play.


SPIKING THE BALL/OFFENSIVE, INSULTING OR ABUSIVE LANGUAGE OR GESTURES
Your question:
Question #1:
Why is illegal to “spike” the ball on a throwing? A player in a game yesterday threw the ball in, with two hands, over her head, and had two feet on the ground. The ball landed 2 yards in front of her with a fairly high bounce so the AR ruled it a bad throw for “spiking” the ball on a throw in.

Question #2:
Subsequently to being called for the bad throw in this player used foul and abusive language…not directed at the AR but just in general at the call itself. Is this a yellow card or red card offense?

USSF answer (June 3, 2003):
1. Even if a throw-in may have met the literal requirements of Law 15, it is commonly accepted throughout the world that a throw-in “spiked” into the ground is not legal.
2. The use of offensive, insulting, or abusive language (or gestures) is punished by send-off and red card. However, the referee might decide to caution for the language if it doesn’t fit into one of those categories but it is instead unsporting behavior (bringing the game into disrepute) or was committed to express dissent with an official’s decision.


CHARGING FOR THE BALL
Your question:
I recently centered a U-13 Girls game. One of the defenders displayed text book form in her shoulder charges throughout the game. Hands at her side, shoulder to shoulder with other player to drive her off the ball. But, she never made any simultaneous attempt to using her feet to win the ball from the player in possession. Only after she had completely driven the player off did she then collect the ball. The sidelines were screaming for push fouls all game, but there was no violent conduct involved. Perfect form, arms in, constant pressure shoulder to shoulder, but no pushing or hip checking. The only thing that struck me as odd was that she did not go after the ball until the other player was completely driven off. There were one or two occasions where a teammate of the shoulder charging player was able to come in and collect the ball. In all cases, I saw nothing that warranted a foul or impedance call. Did I miss something?

USSF answer (June 3, 2003):
A player charging “for the ball” need not _play_ the ball at all, but she must be challenging for the ball. Please make the distinction necessary to apply the Law correctly.

“Impedance”? Surely you do not mean that you were concerned about electrical charges, rather than soccer charges.


UNUSUAL SUBSTITUTION RULES/TEMPORARY EXPULSION
Your question:
I have a couple of questions regarding the type of allowable (or anticipated) modification to the LOTG regarding youth players and substitutions.

The following rule applies to U7-12 ages in a local (affiliated) league:
1. Substitution shall be limited to a maximum of three players per substitution.
2. Players who have been substituted for may re-enter the game.
3. Substitution is not allowed for players ejected from the game.
4. Substitution can be made without the consent of the referee under the following circumstances:
A. The player being substituted for must have left the field of play at the touchline directly in front of his team’s technical area.
B. Each player must identify whom he or she is substituting for. (High five, hand shake, or hug)

Failure to follow the above procedures could result in referee awarding a five-minute penalty against the offending team. (Play short)

I don’t have any issues with items 1-3, however, number 4 seems to raise some issues (besides the practical effect of turning substitution into the system often seen in indoor soccer).

1. Can such a modification which removes the referee’s authority over the making of substitutions be made under FIFA/IFAB/USSF rules?
2. Can a modification which requires a team to play short for an infraction of a modified rule be made under FIFA/IFAB/USSF rules? USSF answer (June 3, 2003):
1. Subject to the agreement of the national association concerned and provided the principles of the Laws are maintained, the Laws may be modified in their application for matches for players of under 16 years of age, for women footballers, for veteran footballers (over 35 years) and for players with disabilities. Substitution is among the areas of the Laws that may be modified. While the Federation probably would not approve items 1 or 4 of the list, there is little that can be done to police it. Referees do have the option of not working in competitions that use rules contrary to the Laws of the Game.
2. The International F. A. Board has reaffirmed for 2003 its instructions that no rules permitting temporary expulsion (being forced to play short for an infringement of the Laws) may be used. Here is an excerpt from USSF Memorandum 2003:
TEMPORARY EXPULSIONS
The Board re-affirmed the decision taken at its last meeting that the temporary expulsion of players is not permitted at any level of football. USSF Advice to Referees: This instruction, which was first discussed in Memorandum 2002, is not subject to implementation by the referee: it is a matter for the competition authority. ³Temporary expulsion² in this context refers to a rule purporting to require that a player leave the field temporarily under certain conditions (e.g., having received a caution ­ a so-called ³cooling off² period) and does not include situations in which a player must correct illegal equipment or bleeding.


“INTENT” VERSUS RESULT
Your question:
I recently overhead two referees discussing this incident which actually occurred in a game:
During an attack on goal, the ball popped into the air. The defender backpedaled while attempting to play the ball with his head. His legs got tangled with each other and he fell over, banging into the attacker, knocking him down, in the penalty area, while he was attempting a shot on goal. The Center Referee made no call stating that there was no intent on the part of the defender to foul the attacker. I was dumbfounded when I heard this! In interviewing many other experienced referees, I found that at least half of those I spoke to shared this view.

Is this “intent” clause a way for referees to duck out of making tough calls? I thought a foul had to be “careless, reckless…” but not necessarily intentional. Do we have to assess the payer’s intent now before making a call? Please shed some light on this.

USSF answer (June 2, 2003):
Let there be light! Despite the fact that we referees are no longer required to judge “intent” in an act by one player against another, but to judge the result of the act instead, we are allowed to distinguish between an act that is accidental and one that is deliberate.

In the case you cite, of a player stumbling and colliding with an opponent, we would judge the act to be careless, reckless, or involving the use of excessive force — and thus a foul — only if the player had already begun to trip (or attempt to trip), push, kick (or attempt to kick), strike (or attempt to strike), jump at or charge his opponent. If the player was still merely pursuing the opponent and happened to stumble and fall, colliding with the opponent on the way down, there has been no foul, as the act was simply accidental or inadvertent.

Referees who call such acts fouls are doing a disservice to the game and to other referees. These are cases where the referee simply calls out “No foul” — or something similar; anything other than “Play on” or “Advantage” — because there has been no foul.


ODD-SIZED GOAL POSTS
Your question:
If a goal post is smaller in dimension front-to-back than the goal line, does the front of the goal post go to the front edge (field side) of the goal line, outside edge (out-of-touch side) or split the difference and go within the goal line?

Example: Our U-10 size goal posts are 4″ wide but only 2″ deep. Goal line is sprayed 4″ wide. Where is the front edge (or back edge) of the post located?

The USSF 2002-2003 Law Book, Law #1 states: The goal post must be in the center of the goal line.

My Grade 8 USSF referee instructor said the front edge of the goal post must be on the front edge of the goal line.

My association’s three senior referees (over 10-20 years of experience each) states the back edge of the post must be on the outside edge of the goal line. Please give me an “official” answer.

USSF answer (June 2, 2003):
You and your association’s three senior referees may well be astounded to learn that the goalposts used in your example do not conform to the Laws of the Game and should not be used in any competitive match. Law 1 tells us: “Both goalposts and the crossbar have the same width and depth which do not exceed 12 cm (5 ins). The goal lines are the same width as that of the goalposts and the crossbar.” That means that a four-inch wide goal line requires a goalposts that are both four inches wide and four inches thick.

However, if there is no alternative to the goals available for the game, then the goals should be so aligned that the back or outside edge of the goal post is at the outer edge of the goal line, thus allowing the referee and assistant referee to determine more precisely whether or not a goal has been scored.


GOALKEEPER MOVES ON PENALTY KICK OR KICK FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
Isn’t there a rule that says the GK can’t move forward prior to the ball being kicked in PK’s? Both goalie’s, but especially AC Milan’s GK, were jumping way off their line as soon as the whistle was blown, and not only did the ref’s not call it, but no one said anything about it. There was one goal where the keeper took literally four steps off the line before the ball was kicked.  Am I misunderstanding the rule? or is it just not enforced at the higher levels of soccer?

A friend of mine was in a tournament and had three of the five shots called back to retake for this infraction, but professionals can get away with it. What’s the deal?

USSF answer (June 2, 2003):
This is an excellent time to point out a change in the Laws of the Game, specifically the Additional Instructions for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials, effective 1 July 2003. Although the change affects only competitions that begin on or after 1 July 2003, the information is valid at this very moment. The following is a quote from the USSF Memorandum 2003 (which may be downloaded from this site):

The Penalty Kick It is an infringement to enter the penalty area before the kick has been taken. The goalkeeper also infringes the Laws if he moves from his goal-line before the ball has been kicked. Referees must ensure that when players infringe this Law appropriate action is taken.
Reason:
Law 14 was amended in 1997, taking away the necessity for referees to caution when player(s) entered the penalty area prior to the penalty kick being taken. The amendment also allowed the goalkeeper to move along his goal line. Nowadays, infringements often occur at a penalty kick, yet the referee seldom takes action.
USSF Advice to Referees: The reference to ³enter the penalty area before the kick has been taken² includes players moving closer than ten yards to the ball (i.e., entering the penalty arc) and moving closer to the goal line than the ball (i.e., moving closer to the goal line than twelve yards). Referees must also ensure that the goalkeeper does not move off the goal line before the ball is in play. However, although the International Board emphasized the need for referees to take appropriate actions when players violate the requirements of Law 14, referees must continue to differentiate between those violations which clearly had an impact on subsequent play and those trifling violations which clearly had no impact.


LEARN TO COPE!
Your question:
I want to know what to do if a parent keeps bothering you and the ref does nothing about it.

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
Close your ears and get on with the job — and at the next stoppage get the referee’s full attention and remind him or her of the referee’s obligation to protect the entire officiating team. If the referee takes no action at that time, the best you can do is to continue working and then submit a full report to the appropriate authorities after the game.


WHAT AGE FOR PUNISHING OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY DENIED?
Your question:
In your opinion at what age level or skill level should a ref start applying the LOTG pertaining to GSO? I know your always apply the LOTG but you know what I mean.

Example: Two of the games I did during a tourney were U10 and U8. In both games there was an incident where attacker gets around last fullback starting 1 on 1 with goalie when fulback pushes player in the back and they fall.

I was told by a high up ref in our state that at U6 there is no GSO. What about at U10? I did the final game and had a similar situation except IMHO, there were some defenders that could have caught up with the attacker and at least blocked the shot, so no GSO. But what if no one could have caught the player. Is it a GSO or not? I usually do U12 or U14 and I know there are a lot of GSO and a few DGSO’s.

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
If a player denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity, no matter what the age or skill level, the Law must be followed. The intelligent referee will remember that these events occur only if they are, in the referee’s opinion, actual denials of goals or obvious goalscoring opportunities.

There is also the problem that you are mixing several age groups. At the U-6 level, it would be rare for any referee ever to call an obvious goalscoring opportunity, because, at that level, they aren’t generally even supposed to be keeping score (no goal … no OGSO). Soccer below the U-10 level is not what is contemplated by the Laws, so the intelligent referee would do well to think of it as more or less organized exercise. U10 and above, go with the Law.


INJURED PLAYER CHANGE BEFORE THE GAME AT PRO LEVEL
Your question:
In the professional “A League” match, a coach submitted his teams roster for that game. While the teams were warming up before the game a named starter was injured and would not be able to play in that game. The coach approached the referee crew to ask if he could move a sub to the starting 11 and put another name on the roster as a substitute.

The referee crew allowed the coach to remove the starters name from the roster and move a named sub to the starting 11. However we did not allow the coach to add another sub to his roster. Therefore he only had 6 possible subs to choose from instead of 7 for the 5 subs he is allowed during the match.

My question is where can we find the written rule or memorandum that explains this type of situation?

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
The same principle expressed in the MLS handbook for referees, Section 11.2.3 (A) “Pregame Injury, Illness or Dismissal,” should apply to any professional game:
“After the exchange of the Official Game Rosters, Roster changes by either head coach shall be made only in case of injury, illness or dismissal during the warm-up period. A player who is removed from the official starting lineup shall not be eligible for substitution into the Game, with the exception of the Goalkeeper. However, an eligible Active Roster Player may be added to the Official Game Roster to replace an injured or ill Player, not a dismissed player. A starting player’s vacant Roster position may only be filled by a current, named substitute from the Official Game Roster. The replacement player can only be added to the list of eligible substitutions, not as a starting Player. Any Player dismissed prior to the Game is not eligible and may not be replaced on the Roster (a named substitute may fill the roster position of a starting Player who has been dismissed).

“No changes or additions to the Official Game Roster may occur once the Teams exit the locker rooms for Pre-Game introductions when the Game Roster becomes frozen and final.”


NO GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY ON INDIRECT FREE KICK
Your question:
Indirect free kick about 20 yards out. A wall is set up with a defender on both posts. The attacker kicks is directly to the goal knowing it is a IDF, the defender on the near post it’s clearing going in but foolishly knocks tha ball over the cross bar. Since this is a IDF should the restart be… Yellow card corner kick, or penalty kick?

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
There can be no goalscoring opportunity on an indirect free kick, so the correct answer depends on what you mean by “knocks the ball.” If you mean the player “knocked” the ball with his hand, then the correct answer is caution/yellow card for unsporting behavior, with a penalty kick restart. If you mean the player “knocked” the ball with some part of the head, torso, or legs/feet, then the answer is corner kick.


RETAKING A KICK FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
Recently, in a U17 game that came down to a penalty shootout, a player stepped up to take her shot, which was saved by the opposing keeper. However, the referee allowed the shooter to re-take her shot, which resulted in a goal. Under what circumstances can the referee allow the shooter to re-take his/her shot in a penalty shootout?

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
Given your scenario, there are only two reasons to retake the kick from the penalty mark. If the referee gives the signal for a kick to be taken and, before the ball is in play, one of the following situations occurs:
The goalkeeper infringes the Laws of the Game:
– the referee allows the kick to proceed
– if the ball enters the goal, a goal is awarded
– if the ball does not enter the goal, the kick is retaken

A player of both the defending team — including the goalkeeper — and the attacking team — including the kicker — infringe the Laws of the Game: – the kick is retaken

There are other reasons to retake penalty kicks, and these might apply to kicks from the penalty mark, but they do not apply to your scenario.


THE “V8” CLAUSE
Your question:
Law 16 states that the ball must be kicked beyond the penalty area. No dispute. But in a recent adult match, the ball was kicked to a defender, who touched the ball with his foot while the ball was still on the PA line. No attacking player was within 20 yards. The CR whistled it, and ordered the kick to be retaken. While this is technically correct, isn’t it trifling? Since it had no impact on the game, wouldn’t the CR have been wiser to simply ignore it and allow play to continue, since the restart is simply a retake of the kick? If it were a youth match, I might view it differently, but no one gained any advantage, and it was not an attempt to circumvent the LOTG.

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
Trifling is in the eye of the only beholder who counts, the referee.


STEPPING DOWN ON THE BALL DOES NOT COUNT AS KICKING
Your question:
A ball is placed inside a corner arc in preparation for a corner kick. Player A taps the top of ball with the sole of her shoe and then runs away. Player B (on the same team) then runs over to the ball and dribbles it out of the corner arc.

Law 17 (and 13 as well) says that “the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves”. The coach who has taught this play believes the ball is “kicked” (with the sole of the shoe) and that the ball “moves” (it just happens to move downward). Others believes that this type of “kick” violates the spirit of the Law.

FIFA’s Q&A Law 13, Question #5 indicates that a free kick may be taken by lifting the ball. Is a ball that is “tapped” (i. e., pushed down) considered “kicked” and “moves”?

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
While the referee should strive to be as accommodating as possible regarding the “moves” requirement on free kicks, a simple push downward with the sole of the shoe would probably not qualify as a kick at the ball.


INDICATING NON-PARTICIPATION IN AN OFFSIDE SITUATION
Your question:
The situation is as follows: the blue team has pulled all of their defenders up so that they are straddling the halfway line. A red attacker [red-1] is about ten yards closer to the blue goal [in an offside position]. A red player plays the ball toward red-1. Red-1 stands as though he could play the ball but instead allows Red-2 [who was not in offside position] to run onto the ball and play it. The questions: (1) Should the assistant raise his/her flag signalling an offside; and, (2) Should the referee blow his whistle and stop play for an offside offense.

USSF answer (June 1, 2003):
This is an old and time-honored (and legal) tactic to beat the offside trap — provided that the player in the offside position clearly signals his non-participation in the play by standing at attention or turning his back to play.

Just to make it clear: No, the assistant referee should not flag and, no, the referee should not blow his whistle. And the player’s action must be clear and definitive to avoid the offside decision.


HANDLING AND THE SHOULDER
Your question:
The scenario: A ball is cleared by the defense into the air and over midfield. The attacking team player is in position to recieve the ball, but instead of heading it, decides instead to hit it with his shoulder, which he clearly “shrugs” in an effort to propel the ball forward and to the side to space so he can play it. I stopped play for deliberate handling in this case. Of course, the player was flabergasted that he used his shoulder and that’s not handling. I assured him shoulder use was, in fact, handling. I know that the rules state that use of the outside of the shoulder constitute handling, but does use of the top of the shoulder constitute likewise (this is the area that was used by this player)? I was pretty confident when I made the call, but as I have mulled it over since, I am not as sure as I thought.

USSF answer (May 29, 2003):
For purposes of determining deliberate handling of the ball, the “hand” is considered to be any part of the arm-hand from fingertip to shoulder. Using the top of the shoulder is not considered as using the hand.

NOTE: This represents a change to the information in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” section 12.11, which will be reworded to reflect this change in the next edition.


SWITCHING THE GOALKEEPER WITH A FIELD PLAYER
Your question:
A referee has called for a penalty kick, can the coach switch the goalie with another player already on the field?

As an example, we were late in a game where we were winning 2-1, and we only had 11 players so our normal goalie had been rotated out onto the field as sweeper, to give the girls a break. Then we had a player commit a foul within the box. The referee correctly called for the penalty kick, then I asked if I could sub the goalie. I was told no. The other team kicked the penalty kick which went over the net, then the referee said the kick had occurred without the proper start signal, so the kick was retaken. Is this also correct? The game was tied on the 2nd penalty kick, the game lasted 1 more minute.

USSF answer (May 29, 2003):
Why doesn’t someone with good experiences with a referee ask questions?

In the first case, the referee did indeed screw up. A field player may exchange places with the goalkeeper at any stoppage in play, provided the referee is informed before the change is made. This does not count as a substitution, so your terminology may have confused the referee.

In the second case, the referee was correct. A penalty kick must be retaken if a player kicks before the referee has given the signal to kick.

Let us add that someone may have been confused by rule differences. Under the Laws of the Game, of course, the goalkeeper could be substituted in accordance with Law 3 because it was a stoppage (assuming the team had a substitution left). In high school rules, this would not be permitted unless the goalkeeper were injured or otherwise required to leave the field (high school rules do not differ from the Laws of the Game on the question of swapping a field player and the goalkeeper).


TWO BALLS ON THE FIELD
Your question:
At a recent youth tournament, with a number of fields side by side, a ball from one game is kicked onto a nearby field in the vicinity of the penalty area, in the midst of active play and near that game’s own ball. A player on this field, mistaking the rogue ball for that game’s ball strikes it and it hits the goal tender knocking him down briefly. While he is down a goal is scored with the legitimate ball. The goal was counted. Was that the proper call, and if not what should have been done, and why?

USSF answer (May 29, 2003):
No goal can be awarded. The intelligent referee will stop the game and restart with a dropped ball at the point where the original ball was when the second ball entered the field.


REFEREE ASSAULT
Your question:
Could you explain referee assault? Give examples? What is NOT referee assault? Is there a place that this is written? It is very controversial and many people – refs. and others – think that just touching the referee accidentally is a red card. Are there red card and yellow card assault differences?

USSF answer (May 29, 2003):
The information given here applies to all games played under the aegis of the United States Federation other than those played within the realm of Professional League Member activities (which are dealt with under a separate policy number). Full details may be found in Policy 531-9, Misconduct Toward Game Officials (amended 7/20/01). This response does not cover either hearings or appeals. For details on those matters, consult Policy 531-9.

Definitions
The term ³referee² includes all currently registered USSF referees, as well as any non-licensed, non-registered person serving in an emergency capacity as a referee (under Rule 3040) and any club assistant referee.

Referee assault is an intentional act of physical violence at or upon a referee. In this response, ³intentional act² means an act intended to bring about a result which will invade the interests of another in a way that is socially unacceptable. Unintended consequences of the act are irrelevant.

Assault includes, but is not limited to the following acts committed upon a referee: hitting, kicking, punching, choking, spitting on, grabbing or bodily running into a referee; head butting; the act of kicking or throwing any object at a referee that could inflict injury; damaging the referee¹s uniform or personal property, i.e. car, equipment, etc.

Referee abuse is a verbal statement or physical act not resulting in bodily contact which implies or threatens physical harm to a referee or the referee¹s property or equipment.

Abuse includes, but is not limited to the following acts committed upon a referee: using foul or abusive language toward a referee; spewing any beverage on a referee¹s personal property; spitting at (but not on) the referee; or verbally threatening a referee.

Verbal threats are remarks that carry the implied or direct threat of physical harm. Such remarks as ³I¹ll get you after the game² or ³You won¹t get out of here in one piece² shall be deemed referee abuse.

Penalties and Suspensions
(A) Assault
(1) The player, coach, manager, or official committing the referee assault is automatically suspended as follows:
(a) for a minor or slight touching of the referee or the referee’s uniform or personal property, at least 3 months from the time of the assault;
(b) except as provided in clause (c) or (d), for any other assault, at least 6 months from the time of the assault;
(c) for an assault committed by an adult and the referee is 17 years of age or younger, at least 3 years; or
(d) for an assault when serious injuries are inflicted, at least 5 years.
(2) A State Association adjudicating the matter may not provide shorter period of suspension but, if circumstances warrant, may provide a longer period of suspension.
(B) Abuse
The minimum suspension period for referee abuse shall be at least three (3) scheduled matches within the rules of that competition. The State Association adjudicating the matter may provide a longer period of suspension when circumstances warrant (e.g., habitual offenders).

Procedure for Reporting Assault and Abuse
(A) Procedures for reporting of referee assault and/or abuse shall be developed and disseminated by the National Referee Committee to all Federation registered referees for use in their National State Association.
(B) Referees shall transmit a written report of the alleged assault or abuse, or both, within 48 hours of the incident (unless there is a valid reason for later reporting) to the designee of the State Association and the State Referee Administrator. For tournaments or special events, the referee shall transmit a written report to the tournament director on the day of the incident and to his home state SRA within 10 days of the incident.

Any instance of referee assault or abuse by a player or substitute is immediate grounds for dismissal/red card — and for a team official it is grounds for dismissal alone, as no card may be shown to a team official. In addition to the report of the assault, the referee must also include full details in the official match report.


MAY KICKING TEAM PLAYERS STAND IN FRONT OF THE WALL?
Your question:
Can you have a member of your team stand in between the kick-taker and the defensive wall. So for example the wall’s 10 yards away from the ball can one of your own players stand 5 yards away from the ball.

USSF answer (May 27, 2003):
Yes, a member of the kicking team may stand between the wall and the kicker. The only restriction on distance from the ball is on the opposing team, not the kicking team. The opposing team must remain ten yards away from the ball until it is in play.


COACH WANTS BETTER REFEREES
Your question:
Through the ten years I have been actively involved in youth soccer U-5 to U-15. I have also been playing for close to thirty years. It is obvious that most officials avoid calling dangerous play. High kicking, boot up tackling, sliding from behind, low heading and playing the ball on the ground are routinely encouraged by officials not controlling the game. I understand FIFA rules that the coaches are to coach teams not officials. However the number of negligent officials greatly outweigh the good and need to be corrected during the game. Until officials are held accountable for game management by the licensing authorities and graded on performance I feel that coaches must still instruct officials when players safety is in question.

An official in a U-9 game I had a few days ago would not leave the midfield line during the game. He was never in a position to align himself up with the last defender since the last defender on his side never approached the mid fields strip. At some point coaches need to assist officials who have a very small grasp on the game. If officials were trained to listen to corrective critisim rather that take “the dont talk to me I am a god mentality” the games would be played and officaited in a better manner. There is no place in youth sports for primadonnas Coach of Official.

USSF answer (May 27, 2003):
The coach who wants to see better officiating can do several things to help:
(1) Report both the good and the poor official to the State Referee Administrator and to the assignor for the competition. If you are consistent in your criticism, win or lose, and others contribute the same sort of consistent reporting, the refereeing should improve. Many assignors are very conscientious in trying to match officials with the most suitable games. Others are not and will assign any warm body to a game. That is something that can be addressed only within your state association — and it must be documented. Ranting without documentation gets nowhere.
(2) Obey the Laws of the Game and behave responsibly. This can prevent the players from becoming more excited about the referee than about playing the game as best they can. It will also help to prevent the parents from going over the top with their abuse of the referee. The coach has the right to speak to the referee only to exchange introductions at the beginning of the game. The coach has no right to offer any criticism to the official, whether directly or obliquely, in any form other than a written report to the appropriate authorities.
(3) Coach the players to play the game, not the referee. And set an example in this, as suggested in (2) above.
(4) Take a refereeing course and do a few games in the middle. Then come back and tell me how easy it is.


THE “V8” CLAUSE
Your question:
Advice to Referees, paragraph 14.10, requires that a penalty kick be retaken for infringement by the attacking or defending team (depending on the specific circumstance). However, it also advises referees to use judgement to disregard trifling or doubtful violations of this requirement.

Can you provide guidance on what constitutes trifling violations? Does the infringement alone, without impacting the shooter or the goalkeeper, constitute a violation?

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
Some very wise words that were once in the Laws of the Game, Law V, International Board Decision 8, familiarly known as the “V8” clause, instructed referees that “The Laws of the Game are intended to provide that games should be played with as little interference as possible, and in this view it is the duty of referees to penalize only deliberate breaches of the Law. Constant whistling for trifling and doubtful breaches produces bad feeling and loss of temper on the part of the players and spoils the pleasure of spectators.” These same words are preserved as an embodiment of the Spirit of the Game in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” section 5.5.

Trifling is trifling when the result of the action makes absolutely no difference to the game. Or, in other words, when the result is to get the ball back into play, the Law has been served and what comes after that is just part of the game.

Doubtful means it probably wasn’t a foul at all, but people reacted and started asking for the doubtful “foul” to be called.

The “severity” of the infringement is not the issue; the issue is what effect did it have. The intelligent referee’s action: If the infringement had no obvious effect on play, consider the infringement to have been trifling and let it go. If it was not trifling, punish it.

We cannot give a list of possible “trifling” violations of the Law. The referee need consider only this: Was there an offense? Could it have been called? Should it be called if, in the opinion of the referee, the infraction was doubtful or trifling? No.


RENDERING (PARA)MEDICAL ASSISTANCE
Your question:
I was wondering if, as a referee I could step in if there was a medical emergency. I thought before that I have heard that you are not supposed to at all, but it wasnt’t very clear. I was wondering if there is an USSF rule about that.

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
In this litigious society of ours, a referee who is not a licensed medical practitioner would be well advised to stay out of any medical emergency that occurs during the game that referee is working.

The situation is generally controlled by state law (sometimes called a “good Samaritan” law, but also laws that cover specific professions). In some states, you are expected to perform whatever emergency services you are trained/certified to do. An EMT who is also a referee must therefore take off his referee hat and put on his EMT hat if faced with a serious injury on the field. Otherwise, stay out of it and remember that there are other important referee things you could be doing while staying out of it.


COUNT THE ‘KEEPER TOO!
Your question:
What role does the keeper play in offsides? Are they considered one of the last two defenders? Or are they in addition to the last two defenders?

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
A good question, as far too many people ask it and it needs answering.

According to Law 11 (Offside), “a player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent.” Notice that the Law does not speak of defenders or goalkeepers, but of opponents. The opposing team is composed of the goalkeeper and ten other players, who may be defenders, midfielders, attackers, or whatever fancy name the coach happens to attach to a particular position — but they are all “opponents.” The goalkeeper is normally one of the last two opponents a player on the other team sees between himself and the opponents’ goal line, but the goalkeeper does not have to be one of the last two opponents. But, when he is one of the last two, he counts!


KEEP YOUR EARS AND YOUR MOUTH SHUT!
Your question:
I answered the desperate call in my community when they asked for referees last fall. I ref’d, and played, years ago but had gotten out of it. I moved to [another state] and thought it would be a great way to get exercise, make money, and help kids learn the game. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to continue to do this week after week, not because of players, but the coaches and spectators. They make it very difficult with the constant badgering, comments, and remarks directed at the referee. (Even the players tell them to be quite). The league that I primarily ref for has instituted a T.S.L. ( Team Sportsmanship Liaison) for each game, and the ref now fills out surveys on how each team, coach, and spectators conduct themselves during the match. But, nothing changes.

Before each game I meet with each coach and team and clearly explain the rules and how the game will be called, what I am looking for, etc.

I have no problem making coaches or spectators leave, but all that does is slow down the game, take away from the players time on the field, and raise my stress level. Do you have any suggestions, or have heard of other ways to control or minimize this action??

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
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.

However, do not despair. The referee does possess a powerful tool with which to control spectators. The referee may stop, suspend or terminate the match because of outside interference of any kind. If no other recourse remains, the referee may inform the team that the match is suspended and may be terminated unless “that person over there” is removed from the area of field.

And here is some more practical advice: For most referees and particularly for referees who don’t have a lot of experience (we are talking many hundreds of games), it is generally not a good idea to assemble the masses — coach, team, etc. — and “clearly explain the rules and how the game will be called, what I am looking for, etc.” The Guide to Procedures indicates what must be done prior to the match and, aside from identifying oneself and providing a brief professional greeting to the coaches, nothing more is called for . . . and certainly not any extended disquisition on the Laws of the Game. The more the referee opens his mouth, the more hanging rope is provided to the coach (or anyone within hearing distance) that can be used against the referee later on — “But you SAID you were going to do . . .”!


REDUCE TO EQUATE
Your question:
During one of your responses this past posting, you talked about circumstances of unsporting behavior during the taking of a PK. It got me to considering the following scenario which I am baffled on.

What happens if a player taking the PK receives his second caution of the match for his unsporting behavior and is sent off (or commits some other foolish act to receive a straight send off I suppose)? Now, during the course of the match, this answer is simple, another player simply takes a kick since any player on the team may take a penalty kick for a foul during play. But what about the taking of kicks from the mark to determine a winner? In this case there is a previously determined order in the taking of kicks that must be followed. Who should replace the shooter in this case, and what happens to the kick order for the other team? It seems they must then reduce to the matching number of kickers, but in what way is this done?

I know it’s a fairly unlikely scenario, but it’s not often I come up with one that I am truly and completely stumpped on.

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
It’s time for a reminder to all referees about the memorandum put out June 11, 2002 regarding the principle of “reduce to equate.” Your answer lies within. We might also point out that there is no “predetermined order” for taking kicks from the penalty mark. The referee simply notes down the numbers of the players as they take their kicks. If a player is dismissed during the taking of kicks from the penalty mark, a player who has not shot during this round of kicks moves up. The other team does not have to reduce its numbers.

Where you strayed from the true path was in assuming (as, unfortunately, many referees do) that the coach must give the referee a list of five players who will start the procedure and that the players must kick in this order. No, no such list is required or given; no, no order is required (aside from the rule against kicking twice).

To: Chair, State Referee Committee
State Referee Administrators
State Directors of Referee Instruction
State Directors of Referee Assessment
National Referees
National Assessors
National Instructors
From: Alfred Kleinaitis
Manager of Referee Development and Education

Re: Kicks from the Penalty Mark
The “Reduce to Equate” Principle

Date: June 11, 2002

The Laws of the Game provide for the taking of kicks from the penalty mark as one way to decide which team will advance when, after regulation play and any extra periods of play required by the rules of competition are ended, the score remains tied.

The specific rules governing the match (³the rules of competition²) can differ in this regard. For example, FIFA requires up to two fifteen minute periods of play with the first goal ending the match.

The purpose of this position paper is to focus on one particular element of the taking of kicks which has recently been introduced and remains subject to some uncertainty ­ the ³reduce to equate² principle. Introduced into The Laws of the Game in 2001, the principle ensures that teams begin the procedure with the same number of players.

The following guidelines are to be used in implementing ³reduce to equate² in those matches for which the rules of competition mandate the taking of kicks from the penalty mark. ³Regulation play² includes any extra periods of play called for by the rules of competition. ³Kicks² will refer generally to the taking of kicks from the penalty mark.

– The kicks phase of the match begins at the moment regulation play ends (including any overtime periods of play.)

– A team might have fewer than eleven players eligible to participate at the end of regulation play due to injury or misconduct or because the team began the match with fewer players.

– The captain of the team with more players must identify which of its players will not participate if regulation play ends with the team at unequal sizes.

– ³Players eligible to participate² includes those players who are legally on the field at the end of regulation play, plus any other players off the field temporarily (e.g., to correct equipment, bleeding, or having an injury tended).

– Only the goalkeeper may be substituted in the case of injury during the kicks phase and only if the team has a substitution remaining from its permitted maximum.

– Once kicks begin (following any ³reduce to equate² adjustment), a player may become unable to participate due to injury or ineligible to participate due to misconduct.

– Under no circumstances will a team be required to ³reduce to equate² if the opposing team loses one or more players due to injury or misconduct occurring during the kicks phase of the match.

– Until a result is produced, both teams must continue to use their eligible players without duplication until all (including the goalkeeper) have kicked, at which time players who have already kicked may kick again. If one team has fewer players than the other, it will need to begin using again its players who have already kicked sooner than will the opposing team.


NO DUAL SYSTEM!
Your question:
I am an assignor for games U-10 through U-19 and am also a high school referee. In high school we use duals quite a bit and it is a great way to officiate a game when you only have two referees. In my assigning duties, I am often unable to find more than two officials for one of the youth games and I would like to be able to use the dual system, yet I know that FIFA strictly prohibits duals. Why can’t FIFA allow the use of dual referees in youth soccer? We have a chronic shortage of officials and this would one way to help ensure fair play.

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. They split the field between them, but only one may make the final decisions and blow the whistle.


OFFSIDE
Your question:
The goalie makes a save from a shot from a forward. He then punts the ball, it lands on the opposing teams side of the field, where there is a teamate in the offside position, he gets the ball and scores. The referee said that the player was not offside, is that the correct call? He is not offside on a goal kick, but not on a kick where the goalie made the save.

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
In this case, the referee was wrong. If a player is in an offside position and is actively involved in play by gaining an advantage from that position when his goalkeeper punts the ball to him, the player must be declared offside.


WHAT IS AN “ASSIST”?
Your question:
Please define an “assist.”

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
Assists are those plays of the ball which contributed to the scoring of a goal. Their type and number are determined by either the competition authority (the people who sponsor the league, cup, tournament, whatever) or statisticians. As such, they are not a matter of concern for referees in any affiliated competition. Real referees don’t care about assists, unless you mean assistant referees, and certainly do not keep track of them nor have any need to know about them.


THE “SPORTING THING”
Your question:
In a recent match in which I played, my team was down by a single goal late in the game. One of the opposing players went down with an “injury” after being barely touched by one of my teammates. I was sure, as was the rest of my team, that this was a delay tactic by the injured player. Just after the injury, the ball came to be in my possession in my own half and I decided to keep playing and dribble the ball upfield. I realize that the sporting thing to do would be to kick the ball out-of-touch to allow the injured player to receive treatment, but I am not aware of any rule that requires me to kick the ball out-of-touch. The referee told me to kick the ball out of play. I initially hesitated as I did not realize that it is within the referee’s powers to force a player to do such a thing. When I did not initially kick the ball over the sideline, the referee threatened to card me if I did not kick the ball out of play. I eventually kicked the ball out and the injured player made a miraculous recovery. I just feel that if I had been the referee and the player was truly injured, I would have blown the whistle to stop play and restarted with a drop ball after the injured player had been attended to. I realize that referees are required to maintain the safety of the players on the field , but are referees allowed to enforce this sporting out-of-touch play, or did the referee overstep his authority?

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
Other than sending a player off the field to make equipment corrections, the referee cannot order a player to make any specific play during the game, and certainly cannot threaten to caution or send that player off for not obeying that order. The only orders a referee can give is for a player to leave the field for repair of equipment or because the player has been dismissed.

If the referee believes that a player is seriously injured, then the referee has the power to stop the game and then restart it with a dropped ball. (If the referee believes that a player is not seriously injured, then the referee must allow play to continue until the ball goes out of play naturally.)


WHAT INFRINGEMENT?
Your question:
What is the call: 1. The goalkeeper released the ball while standing inside the eighteen yard box, the ball traveled outside the box and the goalkeeper kicked the ball. 2. The goal keeper threw the ball outside the eighteen yard box, then the goalkeeper kicked the ball as it bounced outside the box.

USSF answer (May 22, 2003):
What is the call? A counter question: Where is the infringement of the Law? The referee cannot make a call without a reason, and there is no reason here. The call is that there has been no infringement of the Law — the referee should keep his mouth shut and his whistle at his side.

Perhaps the nature of your confusion might be clearer if you wrote back to indicate what infringement you think MIGHT have occurred in these two situations.


CHECK THE CARDS!!
Your question:
I reffed a game today, U9 boys, where after the game was over it was brought to my attention that a player on one of the teams was put on the lineup sheet and played but isn’t on that team (not on the official roster). I approached the coach, asked to see their player cards…he said to see the manager, the manager first said that since we played the game it was too late to make a difference….again, I asked him for the cards, he said he didn’t have them….then, I asked him which player was the one not on their team, he wouldn’t tell me…I paused, he started laughing at me, then I gave the manager a red card for not cooperating and for his demeaning attitude…….then, I asked the managers from both teams to wait for me to call the head of refs in our area to help me with whether to have them sign the Official Referee Report(and Team Line Up sheet)……I couldnt reach the person…..so, I didn’t have them sign the report………………..
1. Should the game be allowed to stand? (by the way, the team with the ineligible player won).,
2. Should I still have had them sign the sheet?
3. Did I have the right to Red Card the manager for this type of behavior?
I am not turning in the Ref Reports until I find out these answers……please give me your opinion…..I also have a call into the Ref Liason for our League……thanks so much.

USSF answer (May 19, 2003):
This question was answered here on April 3, 2003: “This is a problem for the competition authority to resolve, not the referee. If the player has a legitimate pass and is listed on the team roster, there is nothing the referee can do.
“Although the referee is not in a position to make any ultimate determination here (the player must be allowed to play), the referee can and should include details of the incident in his game report.”

You should have checked the roster and the player cards thoroughly before the game. As you did not do that, you can only include full details in your match report. The competition authority will have to resolve the matter.

Furthermore, your misuse of the red card should be noted. First, we don’t show cards to coaches unless local rules permit it and, second, a red-card-like action (card shown or not) for this would hardly be appropriate.

NOTE: The questioner has since informed us that the player registration cards in this league are checked before the game by the team managers, not the officiating crew. So why didn’t the opposing manager say something before the match, instead of waiting till the game was over?


ACCIDENTAL HANDLING SHOULD NOT BE PUNISHED!
Your question:
Two questions:
1) In the case of accidental handling, and the player who made contact then plays the ball…….handling or not?

Under 12.9 in the Laws of the game, it states:
“Deliberate contact” means that the player could have avoided the touch but chose not to, that the player’s arms were not in a normal playing position at the time, or that the player DELIBERATELY CONTINUED AN INITIALLY ACCIDENTAL CONTACT FOR THE PURPOSE OF GAINING AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE.

This would seem to indicate that you would call handling in the above situation. But later in the law it states:
The fact that a player may benefit from the ball contacting the hand does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement.

The two parts of the law seem to contradict each other. Is this situation handling or not?

2) The goalkeeper, in the process of releasing the ball, goes well beyond the penalty area (2-3 feet) with the ball in her possession (hand). I called handling and restarted with a DFK for the opposing team. Another referee thought the restart would be a IFK. What’s the restart?

USSF answer (May 18, 2003):
Much as we would like to claim credit — or maybe not — the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” is not the Laws themselves. Those portions of Section 12.9 of the Advice to Referees read exactly as you have cited them. Unfortunately, you have misread the first of them to fit your premise. You then compound the sin by carrying the analogy into a totally different area, that of the goalkeeper carrying the ball outside the area. You did one thing right by awarding the direct free kick for the opposing team.

The first portion refers to a ball that hits the player’s hand accidentally, at which time the light bulb goes on in the player’s head, suggesting that this would be a good time to make use of that accidental contact by embellishing it a bit and moving the ball voluntarily and deliberately a little farther along the path toward the opponent’s goal. That is different from the second portion, which describes a ball accidentally hitting the player’s hand and falling into a favorable position of its own momentum. The first is wrong and should be punished, while the second is fortunate for the player but not illegal — and should not be punished.


SHOW RESPECT TO PLAYERS AND COACHES
Your question:
Can you tell me how a referee can give a coach a red card after the game? When the coach simply and gentelmanly told the referee that he thought he missed a few calls. There was no prior cautions (yellow card) issued during or after the game. Is the referee allowed to over react in situations and players or coaches have no recource. Alot is written about conduct of coaches and players but not much on referees! For example, a referee has an argument with their significant other and still fells irritated at a game later, and hands out yellow and red cards. How can you protest under the laws of the game if you cannot protest the referees judgement calls. Thank you

USSF answer (May 18, 2003):
Some facts of the game:
(1) Referees do not have to explain their calls, and neither players nor coaches should question the referees under any circumstances. Coaches are expected to provide their players with encouragement and helpful suggestions (also known as responsible behavior), players are expected to play, and the referee is expected to manage the game — with full respect for the players and coaches for the work they are doing, as well as with a certain amount of communication directly related to events during the game. The referee is under no obligation to explain anything to the teams, but most referees are willing to say that it was an unfair charge or tripping or whatever it might have been — if approached in a polite manner and not badgered by the player or the team official.

We tend to discourage this, as it has been our experience that providing such explanations seldom serves any purpose other than sparking further debate from those who really don’t want an explanation in the first place. In any event, they often also divert the referee’s attention from what is more important. “Persons who are not players, named substitutes, or substituted players cannot commit misconduct within the meaning of Law 12 and therefore cannot be shown yellow or red cards nor will their behavior be described in match reports as misconduct. Law 5 is very clear that “team officials” (coaches, trainers, etc.) must behave responsibly and, if they fail to do so, the referee has two primary courses of action. First, the referee may warn the team official that the irresponsible behavior puts him or her at risk. Second, the referee may expel the team official from the field and its immediate area. It is not necessary for a warning to be given in cases of extreme provocation.”

According to the same memorandum, such action may be taken not only before and during the game, but also in that period of time immediately following a match during which the players and substitutes are physically on the field but in the process of exiting.


A CONCERNED FATHER ASKS
Your question:
I have four questions regarding USSF Rules for U-13 to U-15 Soccer:
1) I would like to know the proper positioning of the referee and the assistance’s in a three man system, i.e. should the AR be on the field of play during the game or when the ball is in play?
2) This questions deals with the ethics of the game and/or team officials and referees. Do team officials and/or players have any right to have referee calls explained to them or do referees have any obligation to explain what they saw to make their particular call? If “no”, explain to me how kids at this age are going to learn the rules and the proper way to play the game or on a “shortsighted view” what the ref considers a penalty for their particular game since there are inconsistencies between refs?
3) If a coach or manager is expelled from the game due to the failure of conducting themselves in a responsible manner (nothing abusive), can they be present on the opposite sideline with the parents if they are no longer instructing their team or being disruptive?
4) Please explain what is “failure to conduct themselves in a responsible manner”?

I will anxiously be awaiting your comments to improve my knowledge of the game and to pass that on to my sons. Thank you for this opportunity to have the rules of the game clarified.

USSF answer (May 15, 2003):
There are no “USSF Rules for U-13 to U-15 Soccer.” These players play according to the Laws of the Game, possibly as modified by the competition within which they play.

On to your questions: 1) The assistant referee may enter the field to aid the referee, if so instructed or requested by the referee. However, in general, the assistant referee’s primary responsibilities would place him or her just outside the field along the touch line.

2) Let us examine this question carefully. What does explaining calls to players or team officials have to do with referee ethics? Nothing. The referee is under no obligation to explain anything to the teams, but most referees are willing to say that it was an unfair charge or tripping or whatever it might have been — if approached in a polite manner and not badgered by the player or the team official.

We tend to discourage this, as it has been our experience that providing such explanations seldom serves any purpose other than sparking further debate from those who really don’t want an explanation in the first place. In any event, they often also divert the referee’s attention from what is more important.

You also ask “how kids at this age are going to learn the rules and the proper way to play the game.” We can only respond with another question: What has the coach been doing all this time? Is the coach teaching the players how the game is played, or simply teaching them a way to win — or at least not lose? As to how to fix this, have the players take a refereeing course or do some reading on the matter. They do not have to become referees, but simply attending the course and LISTENING AND LEARNING would certainly make them better players — just as it makes referees better referees by becoming referee mentors or instructors or assessors.

Inconsistency? Most referees are more consistent during the game than are the players whom they referee. Otherwise the games would be either 0-0 or 100-100.

3) No. A team official who has been dismissed from the game must leave the entire environs of the field.

4) You also ask what is “failure to conduct themselves in a responsible manner”? It means that the coach or other team official has not stuck to what their part of the game is, issuing tactical instructions or praise to their players. If they go beyond those bounds, then their behavior is irresponsible.


AUTHORITY OF THE REFEREE
Your question:
Exactly where does a referee’s authority begin and end? I had an incident where a coach was bad-mouthing the officiating of a game to his team. Unfortunately, I was already in the parking lot and heading toward my car. I feel that he should have been dismissed and shown the red card. ([my high school association] rules allow the coaches to be shown the yellow or red cards.) Also, how far does the authority of the referee extend? For example a player/coach/spectator/referee on a nearby soccer field begins directing negative comments to a player/coach/spectator/referee on my soccer field. My I take action aganst that person? If not, how close to my field do they have to be before I may reprimand them?

USSF answer (May 15, 2003):
We cannot presume to answer questions dealing with the rules used by other organizations. This answer would apply to games played under the auspices of the U. S. Soccer Federation.

According to section 5.2 of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”: 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 players, coaches, or spectators from neighboring fields, nor over spectators at his own field, there are things that can be done.

One of the things the referee can do is include a full description of the matter in the game report. In addition, 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. 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.

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.


OFFENSIVE, INSULTING, OR ABUSE LANGUAGE
Your question:
1) If a player directs unsporting, foul, or abusive comments towards the AR and the AR cannot get the referee’s attention at the next stoppage, is it still within the laws of the game to try and signal the referee at the next possible stoppage, even though play has been restarted since the comments were made? //example of language deleted//

2) While the ball and referee’s attention are directed away from the trail assistant referee, a player, wearing a jacket shielding his number, walks side-by-side with the trail assistant referee using profanities and complaining about an offside call that went against his team. After the trail AR asks the player to return to his bench, the player continues the rude comments and abusive language. When the AR raises his flag to get the referee’s attention, the player runs for a dark parking lot. By the time, the referee sees the mirrored signal from the lead AR, the player is nowhere to be found. About 10 minutes later, the player reappears on his team’s bench.

My question is, is it still within the laws of the game to bring this player’s attention to the referee and the referee either caution or send off the player (note, the player reference in this question actually refers to a substitute).

USSF answer (May 15, 2003):
These situations should drive home to even the dullest of minds that the referee and the assistant referees (and fourth official, if available) must maintain constant communication throughout the game. At a minimum, the referee should look to the lead AR at every stoppage and every through ball. The ARs should be checking with one another at least at every stoppage and mirroring signals. There is no excuse for missing signals.

The actions you cite in both cases may be punished whenever the AR can finally get the referee’s attention. The referee must protect his officiating teammates from such attacks and abuse.

Yes, the example of language you cited — deleted in the posted answer — would be punished as offensive or insulting or abusive language.


SMOKE OUT THOSE SPECTATORS!
Your question:
I attended a soccer game recently in [my state’s] Youth Soccer Association area and a referee stopped play and had some of the fans leave the park for smoking. Is this a rule? I have never heard of it and also should the referee direct his questions to the fans or to the coach for the coach to handle the problem if there is one?

USSF answer (May 15, 2003):
A check with authorities in [your association] reveals that there is no league or other competition rule that forbids spectators from smoking. It may be a local park rule, but that is not something the referee should have to enforce, as the referee has no authority over spectators. Such a rule can be enforced only by the park authority.

No, the referee should not speak with anyone about smoking among the spectators. That is NOT the business of the referee.


_NO CAUTION_ FOR PLAYERS OFF THE FIELD TO FETCH THE BALL
Your question:
I was observing the referees at a competitive U14G match on behalf of my referee association (not as a USSF Assessor but in an observation capacity only). The goalkeeper was late getting off her line and arrived at the ball later than the attacker, the result being an injured keeper. The referee stopped play and beckoned assistance from the bench. The coach came onto the field and spent three minutes with the keeper before deciding she could continue. The referee had gone over to the touchline and continued to observe all the players while discussing the situation with his AR. During the break in play, one player left the field of play and grabbed and put on a keeper jersey, anticipating that she would take the keeper’s place. When she saw that the keeper would continue, she removed the jersey, threw it back on the bench and stepped back onto the field. The coach exited the field and play was ready to resume when the referee approached this young lady and showed her a yellow card for leaving the field without permission. Or entering the filed without permission. He and the AR informed me it was one of those and they thought they needed to get her for at least one of them. I realize that you had to be there and that the final decision is in the opinion of the referee. But they asked me what I thought. I thought technically correct — yes. Perhaps a bit anal retentive too.

Arriving home I checked ATR 12.29.6 “Players who leave the field with the referee’s permission require the referee’s permission to return to the field. Examples of this include a player who attempts to come onto the field:
After being instructed to leave the field to correct equipment (mandatory caution)
After leaving to receive treatment for an injury
After leaving to receive treatment for bleeding or to replace a blood-soaked uniform
After being substituted (except under youth substitution rules)
Before receiving permission to enter as a substitute

and 12.29.7 “This category of misconduct normally refers to a situation in which an opponent leaves the field in an attempt, in the opinion of the referee, to place an attacker in an apparent offside position.

I didn’t see that either category fit. In an otherwise “easy” game in which cards were not needed to manage the game, I thought this was one where a card COULD have been issued but SHOULD have it? I didn’t think so. What say you?

USSF answer (May 14, 2003):
The longer you live, the more foolish things you will see. The referee’s action in cautioning this player was incorrect, as well as ridiculous in the extreme. The cautionable offense of leaving the field without the referee’s permission does NOT include actions in the normal course of play. No referee should declare that the player’s action in this case was not in the normal course of play — someone has to fetch ball, for goodness’ sake! We have said it before and will surely say it again: Referees should not go out of their way to aggravate players who have done nothing wrong. It will only harm their game management in the long run by revealing how petty they are.


ACCIDENTAL HANDLING IS NOT A FOUL — UNDERSTOOD???
Your question:
The rule describing a” hand ball”foul states that the player “handles the ball deliberately”. However I have seen numerous games where a referee has called a foul for an unintentional hand ball. After the game, the referee will explain that even though he knew that the offending player did not intentionally handle the ball, the fact that the ball rebounded off the hand in such a way to give advantage to the offending player’s team, he was obligated to call an offense. My way of thinking is that once you decide that a player did not handle the ball deliberately, then it does not matter how the ball bounced afterwards.

An example: my player was marking opponent #2 inside the penalty area. Opponent #1 takes a shot on goal but hits my player in the hand. My player is turned sideways and did not see the shot taken, did not move her hand in any way. The ball stops in front of my player and she clears it away. The referee calls for a penalty kick. After the game he told me that my player did not deliberately handle the ball, but since it affected the play to our team’s advantage,then he was obligated to call for a direct free kick.

USSF answer (May 14, 2003):
This is the sort of cowardly and ill-informed referee who gives the rest of us a bad name. He has obviously either not read or decided to pay no attention to this information from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
QUOTE
12.9 DELIBERATE HANDLING
The offense known as “handling the ball” involves deliberate contact with the ball by a player’s hand or arm (including fingertips, upper arm, or outer shoulder). “Deliberate contact” means that the player could have avoided the touch but chose not to, that the player’s arms were not in a normal playing position at the time, or that the player deliberately continued an initially accidental contact for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage. Moving hands or arms instinctively to protect the body when suddenly faced with a fast approaching ball does not constitute deliberate contact unless there is subsequent action to direct the ball once contact is made. Likewise, placing hands or arms to protect the body at a free kick or similar restart is not likely to produce an infringement unless there is subsequent action to direct or control the ball. The fact that a player may benefit from the ball contacting the hand does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement. A player infringes the Law regarding handling the ball even if direct contact is avoided by holding something in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.).
END OF QUOTE

To put it slightly differently, if the handling is unintentional, it makes no difference if the ball drops in a fortunate position for the player whose hand it hit. That is NOT A FOUL and should NOT BE PUNISHED!


JUMPING WALL?
Your question:
When doing a ceremonial free kick, the “Wall” was moved the required 10 yards. The players in the “Wall” then began to jump up and down. Is this allowed or would it be considered unsporting behavior?

USSF answer (May 14, 2003):
Prior to 1997, the Law required that if “any of the players dance about or gesticulate in a way calculated to distract their opponents” at a free kick they should be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior (then called “ungentlemanly conduct).” This is no longer true. Jumping by members of the wall is common practice throughout the world. The referee should allow this activity unless it goes to extremes. Examples of extremes would be members of the wall jumping forward and back — and thus failing to respect the required distance from the ball — or doing handstands or other acts designed to bring the game into disrepute.


TELEPHONE 1
Your question:
In any league, and especially MLS, WUSA, and A-League, are the Technical Personnel allowed to use cell phones, headsets, or any such devices to communicate with people around the pitch to exchange information during the game and thus gain advantage over an opponent? Something similar to what an American Football Coach is allowed to do…

If not, is there a Memorandum, International Board Decision, or is it in the Laws of the Game?

USSF answer (May 13, 2003):
While players may be cautioned for unsporting behavior for using a cell phone or similar devices during a game, there is no prohibition in the Laws of the Game against team technical personnel using phones. However, such use may be prohibited by the rules of the competition, e. g., NCAA and high school.


TELEPHONE 2
Your question:
What if the player is on the bench? Does he/she get cautioned for UC if using a phone to communicate with technical personnel? What stops a coach that has been Ejected from the game to keep contact with the team then?

USSF answer (May 14, 2003):
It makes no difference where the player is. He will be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior, no matter whom he is calling. And the only thing that would stop a disqualified coach from communicating with the team would be the rules of the competition — or a sense of honor.


OH, THAT NASTY REFEREE!
Your question:
I am a coach in a minor league in [my state]. Last week-end I ran into a small problem. The referee decided to ref the game without the help of linesmen (he had them from the stands “only to call ball out of bounds” – off sides galore as you can imagine, and, it being an U-18 game with the kids running a little too much for the referee to follow from closer distances, ten minutes from the end of the game a play develops …

An apparent off side of four attacking players, not called but acceptable error since there were a lot of players bunched; a defender runs from behind to catch up on the edge of the box, slides and touches the ball back towards the goal keeper; the attacking player that was conducting the ball when trying to kick the ball into the net kicked instead the defender that slid by; both players fell and got up, the attacking player looking for a foul; the ball would go in if the goal keeper did not parry it, so he did, he dove, he grabed it, got up and put it in play; when the ball was already back in play, the referee who had been at about midfield, stopped the game and called for a penalty shot for “tripping”.

My problem? The score was 1-2 and we were the away team.

The ref (home refs are the norm in these parts of the woods) appeared to try to appease everybody and most of the second half appeared to look for a “draw” to make things happy !!!

How can these situations be corrected?

USSF answer (May 14, 2003):
It is, unfortunately, sometimes the case that referee assignors cannot always get the requisite number of registered officials for the games they must cover. Regarding the number and kind of officials, the USSF Referee Administrative Handbook says this:
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

The officials in your game appear to fit the description under number 4. The “assistant referees” described in number 4 are actually called “club linesmen,” who may not be asked to indicate anything other than when the ball is entirely over the goal line or touch-line. Thus, in this sort of game the referee must make all the decisions on fouls and misconduct without any help from anyone else.

How to solve the problem? Encourage more people to go into refereeing, so that more officials are available.


I FEEL FEINT
Your question:
USSF has officially stated that feints at PKs are allowed, as long as they do not constitute unsporting behavior. The reason given is that PKs are punitive, and therefore some allowance for creativity should be made for the attacking team, much like at a direct free kick outside the penalty area. However, this logic doesn’t seem to hold up for kicks taken from the penalty mark to decide the game. They are not punitive.

Is feinting during kicks from the penalty mark to decide the game allowed? If yes, why, since they are not punitive?

USSF answer (May 13, 2003):
Let us first point out that the position on feinting is not based on the fact that penalty kicks are punitive. That is simply one aspect of the matter that the referee should consider — and we have not said anything different.  Guidance from the International Board notes that referees should not consider various deceptive maneuvers to be a violation of Law 14 or of the guidelines on kicks from the penalty mark in the Additional Instructions. They should ensure that the run to the ball is initiated from behind the ball and the kicker is not using deception to delay unnecessarily the taking of the kick.

Yes, feinting at kicks from the penalty mark is permitted, provided the same guideline is followed as for feinting at the penalty kick: no unsporting behavior. The judgment of unsporting behavior is at the discretion of the referee.

One example of unsporting behavior would be to step over the ball, hesitate, and then bring the foot back again to kick the ball. The kicker’s behavior must not, in the opinion of the referee, unduly delay the taking of the kick.

While the referee might allow a player to get away with a trick once, such as deliberately missing the ball, it would be very unprofessional to allow a kicker or a series of kickers to pull the same trick again. If the referee believed the player deliberately missed the ball early to shake the ‘keeper’s concentration, then a caution/yellow card for unsporting behavior would be in order. If the referee believed that it had been merely the kicker’s enthusiasm or an honest mistake, the referee would warn the first kicker to await his signal for the retake and make certain that all other potential kickers are aware of the warning. If the player then took his kick early, he would be cautioned. Given the “shoot-out” situation of kicks from the penalty mark, all other kickers would have received the warning and would also be liable for caution if they kicked early.

Any instance of unsporting behavior must be in the opinion of the referee, based on that particular act in that particular game at that particular moment of the game. Although there are certain actions that will always be unsporting behavior, we cannot arbitrarily set a list of actions that must be called as unsporting behavior in the case of feinting at a penalty kick. The referee has to take responsibility for some of his own decisions.


O, THOSE CRAFTY COACHES!
Your question:
In a U-14 boys game, one team was playing an offside trap while the other was positioning 2-3 players along the halfway line to look for break-out possibilities. I have done the center in about 80 youth games and feel comfortable with my position on the field and reliance on my AR’s, both teen-agers with extensive soccer travel experience. However, one situation arose late in the game which caused some confusion:
Team A intercepted a cross from Team B close to A’s goal. A Team A defender then send a long ball toward the halfway line. A’s own striker, on his own side of the field, received the ball, beat the Team B sweeper (who had moved all the way up), then proceeded to dribble over the halfway line toward Team B’s goal. As he dribbled, he noticed one of his teammates sprinting ahead and to his right. Remember that both of these Team A players are now behind Team B’s defense with only the goal-keeper ahead of them. The player dribbling the ball then unselfishly played the ball FORWARD and to his right, where his teammate received the ball. My AR put up his flag, judging that the ball was played forward, and not flat, with 1, not 2, defenders between the last offensive player and the goal. I accepted the flag and whistled for offside. The opposing coaches at game’s end challenged the call on the following basis: their center forward had already beaten the last defender and as a result, no offside could take place even if the ball was played to another one of their players located ahead of the dribbler.

Offside or not? And if so, why — or why not?

USSF answer (May 13, 2003):
Ah, those crafty coaches, at it again! Well, this time, as usual, they are wrong.

A player is in an offside position if he is ahead of the ball and nearer to the opposing goal than at least two opponents. Even if all opponents have been beaten, he must still remain behind the ball. So, if the player “sprinting ahead and to his right” was ahead of the passer and the ball when the ball was played, then he was offside. If he was level with or behind the ball, then he was not offside, no matter where he receives the ball.


HOW ABOUT THEM LOGO’D SOCKS?
Your question:
It has been noticed that the referee socks for the Professional Soccer matches (MLS/WUSA) have changed from the 3 strips to the USSF logo. Is this going to trickle down to all referees eventually will have to wear this style?

USSF answer (May 13, 2003):
The referee socks worn in the professional matches are an alternative sock, suitable for wear by any referee. Either the black socks with three-stripe white top or the new logo¹d sock may be worn. Just remember that all members of an officiating team should strive to wear the same uniform color and sock style.

The officiating team may wear the official uniform jersey, gold with black pin stripes, black collar, black cuffs (long sleeve), or no cuff (short sleeve); or any of the three alternative jerseys, black with white pin stripes, black collar, black cuffs (long sleeve) or no cuffs (short sleeve); red with black pin stripes, black collar, black cuffs (long sleeve), or no cuffs (short sleeve); or blue with black pin stripes, black collar, black cuffs (long sleeve), or no cuffs (short sleeve). All should be worn with the black shorts, and black socks with three-stripe white top or the new logo¹d sock, and black shoes.

NOTE: See the full article on new uniform items in the upcoming issue of Fair Play.


GET THE LOCATION RIGHT, PLEASE!
Your question:
We had a player in the process of going for a goal, a defending player fouled him on the penalty box line deliberately to prevent the goal. The player tripped on the ball falling into the penalty box. The referee red carded the defender saying it was deliberate to prevent the goal. The players started to line up for a penalty kick, but the ref said it was going to be a direct kick. The player started to line up for that and then the ref said the game had ended, time had run out and he wasn’t allowed to take the kick. Should he have been able to take the kick? How can the game end on a penalty? When someone is red carded, isn’t time added on for whatever time it took to do that? And even if time had ended at that moment, shouldn’t the kick still be allowed? I asked the ref, he said only if it was a penalty kick would he be allowed to take the kick. In reading the laws of the game, we couldn’t find a definitive answer, especially if it was a direct kick.

Is this one of those “at the discretion of the ref calls”? We actually thought it really should have been a penalty kick, the player upon falling was quite a ways into the box. The ref said he was tripped right on the line of the box though, and that’s why just a direct kick was awarded. Shouldn’t he still have been given the chance to take it?

USSF answer (May 13, 2003):
There are actually two questions to answer here: (1) Did the referee end the game correctly and (2) How about the free kick/penalty kick?

(1) There is no set or particular moment or method to end a game. Law 5 empowers the referee to act as timekeeper and to keep a record of the match. Law 7 instructs the referee to add time (at his discretion) for time lost in either half of a game or in any overtime period for the reasons listed in Law 7 (Allowance for Time Lost). Referees allow additional time in all periods for all time lost through substitution(s), assessment of injury to players, removal of injured players from the field of play for treatment,wasting time, as well as ³other causes² that consume time, such as kick-offs, throw-ins, dropped balls, free kicks, and replacement of lost or defective balls.  Some referees will end the playing period while the ball is in play and there is no threat to either goal, such as allowing a team to take a goal kick and then ending the period. Others will end the playing period at a stoppage. Our advice is to do what is both comfortable for the referee and fair to the players. There is no need to extend time for any free kick other than a penalty kick. And that brings us to your second question.

(2) Only the referee is able to judge where the foul occurred. If the referee did indeed state that the foul occurred “right on the line of the box,” then he should have awarded a penalty kick, as the lines belong to the areas they demarcate. If you have stated his words correctly, this was a major error for the referee. Our apologies to your team.


NO DUPLICATE NUMBERS
Your question:
I recently had an onfield discussion about the legality of two field players wearing the same number, while on the field at the same time. I am a USSF referee, but I also coach a U-12 team. The head coach of the opposing team declared that it was totally legal. I believe that he was in the wrong. To me as a referee, I would consider this to be unsporting behavior. Could I get your opinion in this matter?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
This April 2, 2003, answer from the archives should take care of most of your question:
“The Laws of the Game neither require numbers nor set standards for them. Numbers are governed by the rules of the competition in which the player’s team is participating, i. e., the league, cup, or tournament in which the team competes. The referee should worry only about any requirements regarding numbers in the rules of the competition in which he or she is officiating.”

The only addition might be that most rules of competition forbid duplication of numbers by players of the same team. In other words, two players on the same team may not wear the same number.


RESTART AFTER OFFSIDE
Your question:
After an offside where is the the free kick taken from, where the person was offside, or where a player last touched the ball?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
Offside is punished where the infringement occurred. In other words, the indirect free kick should be taken from the place where the offside player was when his teammate played the ball. The kick should NOT be taken from the place where the second-to-last defender was NOR where the player was at the moment the offside was called NOR where the ball was NOR where the referee was standing NOR where the teammate was when he touched the ball NOR anywhere other than where the infringement occurred.


SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES
Your question:
I am a coach for a 3rd grade youth soccer team. Can you please help me as I have tried to find the answer to my question in the FIFA Rule book but I haven’t had any luck.

Towards the end of the half the opposition takes a shot at our goalie. Our goalie gets into position to catch it and the referee blows the whistle while to ball is travelling towards the goalie. The goalie hesitate or gets distracted by the whistle and the ball hits him and trickles into the goal. Is this a Goal? The Referee said it was a Goal and I questioned it and he insisted this was the rule and that he had this incident on a previous occation. I told him I have never heard about this rule and if he is so sure then I do accept the goal been scored. I when on to tell him why he didn’t let the ball be played by the goalie and then whistle the play. He said the kids (8 year olds) should know the rule and should not stop playing. I went on to tell him this is a contradition to what we tell thekids to do, keepplaying at all times UNTIL THEY HEAR THE WHISLTE BLOW.

Is there such a rule?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
Your referee was not only blowing the whistle, he was also blowing smoke. Once the referee blows the whistle, play has stopped. In fact, play has actually stopped when the referee makes the decision to stop play. Final answer? No such rule and no goal in this case.


REFEREE MISTAKES
Your question:
If a referee makes a mistake and he stops play. should play be restarted with a dropped ball?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
It depends. Specifically, it depends on what kind of mistake the referee has made.

If the mistake was in stopping play in the first place (what is sometimes called an “inadvertent whistle” — and one of the reasons we recommend that referees in this country not run around the field with the whistle in their mouth), then you are correct, play restarts with a dropped ball.

If the mistake was in announcing the restart, then the referee can simply correct the error by quickly calling the ball back and letting everyone know what the correct restart is supposed to be. For example, the referee might mistakenly announce a throw-in for Blue when he meant to say (and/or meant to point in favor of) Red. There is no problem with calling the throw-in back and giving the ball to Red (consider also a simple admission of having goofed and vow to do better next time).

If the mistake is in awarding a goal which was invalid, the kick-off restart sets the goal into the record books and nothing more can be done except explain the error in the game report. Likewise, if a card is mistakenly shown to the wrong player and play has restarted, the card must stand and the referee must explain the circumstances in his game report.

In short, not always.


OFFSIDE
Your question:
I have a queston about offsides. I understand the offsides rule but say a player of an attacking team is even with the last defender. An a defensive player lobs the ball back to the last defender who heads the ball in favor of the attacking player which puts him in an offsides postion. Is this still offsides even though it was headed toward the attaking teams goal which put the attaker in that postion?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
It would seem that perhaps you do not understand offside quite as well as you thought. If the ball is last played to a player in an offside position by an opponent who was fully in control of the ball (as in this case), there can be NO OFFSIDE. For offside to be called, the player in the offside position must be actively involved in play and must receive the ball from a teammate (with the exception of a ball played by a teammate deflecting off an opponent, which does not apply here).

If the attacking player was even with the last defender he would be in an offside position anyway — unless you meant to include the goalkeeper. A player must be no nearer the opposing goal than the last two opposing players to avoid being in an offside position.


COACHES ARE _NOT_ ALLOWED TO COACH THE REFEREE
Your question:
I centered a U14B game during which one of the coaches continually called out comments and instructions to me. None were abusive but ranged from telling me which way a throw in should go to whether I should have called a foul to informing me I shouldn’t add time for an injured player. While this problem is not directly addressed in the Laws of the Game, the Advice to Referees says that coaches are limited to technical coaching of their team.

While I don’t think my calling of the game or my ability to control the game, it did become clear that the coach was getting “into the heads” of the other team’s coach, its players and fans – if my call was in line with what this coach was yelling they thought I had been influenced.

This experience has led me to believe that, while I can sympathize with a coach being emotional and wanting to comment on the referee’s calls (much as is done in basketball, American football, and baseball) I will have to clamp down on coaches like this for the good of the game.

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
You have given your own answer to the question: “. . . coaches are limited to technical coaching of their team.” They are not allowed to coach the referee as well. That is irresponsible behavior and, unless the referee stamps it out immediately with a firm warning, can lead to major problems. And because it is irresponsible behavior, the referee could exercise the rights granted in Law 5 to dismiss the coach for such behavior.


PASSING THE BALL TO THE ‘KEEPER
Your question:
Could you please clarify the pass back rule to the keeper. I thought a pass back could only come from the head of a defender.

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he touches the ball with his hands directly after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a teammate. The requirement that the ball be kicked means only that it has been played with the foot. The requirement that the ball be “kicked to” the goalkeeper means only that the play is to or toward a place where the keeper can legally handle the ball. The requirement that the ball be “deliberately kicked” means that the play on the ball is deliberate and does not include situations in which the ball has been, in the opinion of the referee, accidentally deflected or misdirected. The goalkeeper has infringed the Law if he handles the ball after initially playing the ball in some other way (e.g., with his feet).

You are incorrect in suggesting that “a pass back could only come from the head of a defender.” As the above description of the infringement indicates, the only limitation is that the “pass back” can’t come from the foot of the defender. Furthermore, it is incorrect to focus on the “pass back” element of this violation because the “pass back” by itself is not illegal, no matter how it is done. What is illegal is the goalkeeper handling the ball under certain conditions.


PLAYER EQUIPMENT
Your question:
I recently saw a 15 year old girl playing goalie get kicked in the face by another player. Neither player was out of line or playing dirty, etc. I have since heard stories of cleats being literally buried in a goalie’s skull, noses broken, throat kicks and all of this is because the goalie is doing what they are coached to do and the players are doing what they are coached to do. Has anyone ever proposed a face mask for the goalie? It used to be that you never saw anyone where a helmet on a bike, now, you rarely see anyone without. Skiing is definitely going he same way. The helmet material would have to be designed to minimize risk to the striker’s foot, etc. I cannot see how it would interfere with play, or alter the game, just save some young person’s face some day.

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
Yes, face masks have been proposed and they have been rejected by the world governing body of soccer. For further information, please read this memorandum from the U. S. Soccer Federation:
From the U.S. Soccer Communications Center — March 12, 2003

Memorandum

To: State Referee Administrators cc: State Presidents
State Youth Referee Administrators Affiliated Members
State Directors of Referee Instruction
State Directors of Referee Assessment
National Assessors
National Instructors
National Referees

From: Julie Ilacqua
Managing Director of Federation Services

Re: Player’s Equipment

Date: March 7, 2003

_________________________________________________________

USSF has received a number of inquiries recently about how officials should handle situations where players wish to wear equipment that is not included in the list of basic compulsory equipment in FIFA Laws of the Game. Referees are facing increased requests from players for permission to wear kneepads, elbowpads, headbands, soft casts, goggles, etc.

The only concrete guidance in the Laws of the Game is found in Law 4:

This is followed by a list of required uniform items: jersey, shorts, socks, shoes, and shinguards. Obviously, this language is quite general. USSF suggests the following approach to issues involving player equipment and uniforms:

1. Look to the applicable rules of the competition authority.
Some leagues, tournaments, and soccer organizations have specific local rules covering player uniforms and what other items may or may not be worn on the field during play. Referees who accept match assignments governed by these rules are obligated to enforce them. Note, however, that local rules cannot restrict the referee’s fundamental duty to ensure the safety of players.

2. Inspect the equipment.
All items of player equipment and uniforms must be inspected. However, anything outside the basic compulsory items must draw the particular attention of the referee and be inspected with special regard to safety. USSF does not “pre-approve” any item of player equipment by type or brand — each item must be evaluated individually.

3. Focus on the equipment itself — not how it might be improperly used, or whether it actually protects the player.
Generally, the referee’s safety inspection should focus on whether the equipment has such dangerous characteristics as: sharp edges, hard surfaces, pointed corners, dangling straps or loops, or dangerous protrusions. The referee should determine whether the equipment, by its nature, presents a safety risk to the player wearing it or to other players. If the equipment does not present such a safety risk, the referee should permit the player to wear it.

The referee should not forbid the equipment simply because it creates a possibility that a player could use it to foul another player or otherwise violate the Laws of the Game. However, as the game progresses, an item that the referee allowed may become dangerous, depending on changes in its condition (wear and tear) or on how the player uses it. Referees must be particularly sensitive to unfair or dangerous uses of player equipment and must be prepared to order a correction of the problem whenever they become aware of it.

The referee also should not forbid the equipment because of doubts about whether it actually protects the player. There are many new types of equipment on the market that claim to protect players. A referee’s decision to allow a player to use equipment is not an endorsement of the equipment and does not signify that the referee believes the player will be safer while wearing the equipment.

4. Remember that the referee is the final word on whether equipment is dangerous.
Players, coaches, and others may argue that certain equipment is safe. They may contend that the equipment has been permitted in previous matches, or that the equipment actually increases the player’s safety. These arguments may be accompanied by manufacturer’s information, doctor’s notes, etc. However, as with all referee decisions, determining what players may wear within the framework of the Laws of the Game and applicable local rules depends on the judgment of the referee. The referee must strive to be fair, objective, and consistent – but the final decision belongs to the referee.


REVIEW OF SEND-OFFS/DISMISSALS
Your question:
I am new to soccer refereeing. I recently visited a home page for a local (AYSO) tournament and I read: “Tournament director may review all send-offs and ejections!”

Is this customary? I was under the impression that the referee was the final arbiter and his decision is final, at least under AYSO policies….. Am I (again) confused?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
What is probably meant here is nothing more than that the tournament director will review all send-offs to determine what additional penalties might be imposed. We cannot speak for AYSO, but a full review of send-offs or dismissals with the result of changing them to allow a player (or team official) back in the next game would not be allowed for games played under the auspices of the U. S. Soccer Federation, where the referee’s decision is indeed final. FIFA has recently reiterated its position that no such review can change what must now be considered the equivalent of a new international regulation mandating the one subsequent match suspension for any send-off or dismissal.


GOALKEEPER OUT OF THE PLAY
Your question:
Situation: During an attack the goalkeeper is incapacitated. This occurred because of a collision with his teammate. At our last referee meeting a referee presented the following thought to the group – if the goalkeeper is incapacitated as noted above (not a foul) play should be stopped because the team no longer has a goalkeeper. The stoppage of play would not be because of a foul, or because of injury, but because the team no longer has a participating goalkeeper. Safety issue aside, I am wondering about the fairness of stopping an attack for this reason.

In October 1999 you gave a detailed answer that said play continues, the goalkeeper is still the goalkeeper, assuming no foul, and not, in the opinion of the referee, a serious injury. Question? Has there been a change in thinking regarding this issue?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
No, there has been no change in the thinking regarding this issue. The earlier answer is still valid. It is restated in slightly different words below:

Question:
A goalkeeper appears incapacitated without any infringement of the law and play continues near him. What criterion should the referee use to stop play and attend to the goalkeeper’s injury? How is this criterion fair when the goalkeeper is faking? When he is seriously injured? When he is unconscious? If a goal is scored and the referee decides that he should have stopped play sooner, can he reverse the goal? If he does reverse the goal, what/where would be the restart?

Answer:
The only criterion to use is common sense. Law 3 tells us that a match is played by two teams, each consisting of not more than eleven players, one of whom is the goalkeeper. It does not say that the goalkeeper must always be on his feet and moving, nor even on the field if his momentum has carried him off. Law 5 tells us that the referee stops the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured and ensures that he is removed from the field of play, allows play to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in his opinion, only slightly injured, and ensures that any player bleeding from a wound leaves the field of play. The referee also acts on the advice of assistant referees regarding incidents which he has not seen. If the goalkeeper is faking and the referee falls for it, then the goalkeeper must be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior (and, upon repetition, etc., etc.).

If a goal is scored while the goalkeeper is on the ground, a goal is scored. Full stop. The referee is not obliged to hold the players’ hands in the game. He can only act when he is aware that something is amiss. Neither can the referee change the Law to suit his purpose, i. e., taking away a legitimate goal because the goalkeeper was out of the play. The Latin phrase has it correctly: Lex dura, sed lex. (The law is hard, but it is the law.)

If the goalkeeper was taken out by one of the opponents, the referee does have cause to revoke the goal, but he cannot do it without just cause — and sympathy is not just cause. If the referee does revoke the goal for a legitimate foul, the restart would be for whatever the foul was. The lack of consciousness is not a foul and not a ground for revocation.

In the question asked earlier, there was no foul. Life is hard, just like the law, but both are immutable by mere humans.


A CHORUS LINE?
Your question:
At a recent match we had some girls that when they kicked their leg went up past their head. i thought this would be considered dangerous play, due to the fact they were kicking at the heads of the other kids. luckly no one was hit but there was several very close calls. i asked the ref. and he didn’t even acknowage me.

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
It is too bad that the referee didn’t acknowledge you, but players and coaches are not supposed to question the referee at all, so you will have to forgive him.

This is what we teach referees about “playing dangerously,” as written in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” section 12.13:
QUOTE
12.13 PLAYING IN A DANGEROUS MANNER
Playing “in a dangerous manner” can be called only if the act, in the opinion of the referee, meets three criteria: the action must be dangerous to someone (including the player himself), it was committed with an opponent close by, and the dangerous nature of the action caused this opponent to cease his active play for the ball or to be otherwise disadvantaged by his attempt not to participate in the dangerous play. Merely committing a dangerous act is not, by itself, an offense (e.g., kicking high enough that the cleats show or attempting to play the ball while on the ground). Committing a dangerous act while an opponent is near by is not, by itself, an offense. The act becomes an offense only when an opponent is adversely and unfairly affected, usually by the opponent ceasing to challenge for the ball in order to avoid receiving or causing injury as a direct result of the player’s act. Playing in a manner considered to be dangerous when only a teammate is nearby is not a foul. Remember that fouls may be committed only against opponents or the opposing team.

In judging a dangerous play offense, the referee must take into account the experience and skill level of the players. Opponents who are experienced and skilled may be more likely to accept the danger and play through. Younger players have neither the experience nor skill to judge the danger adequately and, in such cases, the referee should intervene on behalf of their safety. For example, playing with cleats up in a threatening or intimidating manner is more likely to be judged a dangerous play offense in youth matches, without regard to the reaction of opponents.
END OF QUOTE


DELIBERATE HANDLING
Your question:
Isn’t a hand ball a hand ball when was this unintentional law incorporated

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct) tells us: “A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player . . . handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area).” Please note the word “deliberately.”

Two sections from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” follow. They should give you all the information you need to understand deliberate handling.

QUOTE
12.9 DELIBERATE HANDLING
The offense known as “handling the ball” involves deliberate contact with the ball by a player’s hand or arm (including fingertips, upper arm, or outer shoulder). “Deliberate contact” means that the player could have avoided the touch but chose not to, that the player’s arms were not in a normal playing position at the time, or that the player deliberately continued an initially accidental contact for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage. Moving hands or arms instinctively to protect the body when suddenly faced with a fast approaching ball does not constitute deliberate contact unless there is subsequent action to direct the ball once contact is made. Likewise, placing hands or arms to protect the body at a free kick or similar restart is not likely to produce an infringement unless there is subsequent action to direct or control the ball. The fact that a player may benefit from the ball contacting the hand does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement. A player infringes the Law regarding handling the ball even if direct contact is avoided by holding something in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.).

12.10 RULE OF THUMB FOR “HANDLING”
The rule of thumb for referees is that it is handling if the player plays the ball, but not handling if the ball plays the player. The referee should punish only deliberate handling of the ball, meaning only those actions when the player (and not the goalkeeper within his own penalty area) strikes or propels the ball with his hand or arm (shoulder to tip of fingers).
END OF QUOTE


PLAYER CAPS
Your question:
What does CAPS stand for and what does it mean?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
“Player caps” refers to a tradition established in England many years ago.  Wearing caps as part of soccer uniform, to distinguish teams by cap colors, goes back to 1654. The custom continued, as shown in many photos of famous mid-19th century amateur teams with all-capped players. Pro clubs also wore caps. A special England “cap” was introduced by FA in 1886 with the citation “For players who have gained full international honours for England.”

Today, recognized categories are decided by FIFA.  In addition to the usual categories of games at A, B, Under-23, Amateur, Youth and other levels, the list is growing with the introduction of Women’s Under-19, handicapped players etc.

Nowadays caps are usually awarded only for matches against full international teams in the same category.


RESTART FOR DELIBERATE HANDLING
Your question:
Are all hand balls direct kicks ?

USSF answer (May 12, 2003):
IF the handling is deemed by the referee to be deliberate, then, yes, all cases of deliberate handling are punished by direct free kicks (or penalty kicks, depending on where the handling was committed and by whom). If the referee deems the handling to be not deliberate, then there is no foul at all and thus no free kick.

In addition, a handling offense could also merit a caution or a send-off as misconduct.


THE ‘KEEPER _CANNOT_ BE SENT OFF FOR HANDING THE BALL IN HIS OWN PENALTY AREA!!!!
Your question:
I have been reading the questions and answers to the obvious goal scoring opportunity denied and I need some clarification about the answers given with respect to a passback to the keeper.

Here is a typical example seen in a game: A defender with the ball passes the ball to his keeper. The keeper tries to trap the ball and misses. The keeper then turns and runs after the ball and stops it with their hands. From the referees position, he determines that the ball would have continued into the goal if the keeper did not stop it.

Now let’s put two common situations onto the above.

#1 There are no opposing team players pressuring the ball (let’s say for argument’s sake, no attackers within twenty yards of the ball) when the keeper misses the ball and chases it down and handles the ball.

#2 An opposing team player is pressureing the defender and chases after the ball. The attacker is five yards from the ball when the keeper misses the ball. The attacker continues to chase the ball and would have reached the ball first if not for the keeper diving to handle the ball.

If we read the position paper on the Obvious goal-scoring opportunity denied (the 4 Ds), it states that all four elements MUST be present and must be obvious for a send off to happen. In both #1 & #2 above we can say that element #1 (number of defenders) & element #2 (distance to goal) have been met. Now we get to element #3 (distance to ball) & element #4 (direction of play). If we look at element #3, it states that “the attacker must have been close enough to the ball at the time of the foul to have continued playing the ball.” This statement leads me to believe that an attacker must be making a play for the ball and if an attacker is not within twenty yards of the ball (as in #1 above) then the attacker is not “close enough to the ball to have continued playing the ball”. Therefore, it seems that the correct call for the referee to make for #1 above is a simple handling by the keeper from a pass back.

If we now look at #2 above and element #3 of the 4 Ds, we have an attacker chasing the ball to within five yards of the keeper and then chasing the ball after the keeper misses the ball. This seems to meet element #3 of the 4 Ds. Element #4 of the 4 Ds is also meet due to the referee determining that the ball would have gone into the goal if not touched by the keeper and the attacking player chasing the ball would be moving toward the goal. In this situation, it seems that the correct call would be a send off for the keeper.

Do you agree with this interpretation of the 4 Ds or has the referee community changed their thinking to, any ball kicked to the keeper from his teammates and the keeper handles the ball, and from the keepers position when he handles the ball, the ball would have ended up in the goal that this is now a send off?

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
There has been no change of thinking anywhere. The reason the goalkeeper cannot be punished for using his hands in the penalty area is because he is specifically exempted from punishment under Send-Off reason 4: “this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area.” That applies not only to reason 4, but to reason 5 as well.

Higher up in Law 12 it also states: A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following four offenses: – tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball
– holds an opponent
– spits at an opponent
– handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)

The goalkeeper’s JOB is to handle the ball. Why would we punish him/her for doing what is supposed to be done?

And, finally, this answer is clearly grounded in the “4 Ds” memorandum. Indeed, the “4 Ds” memorandum requires this answer.


CALL SORTING: THE WAY TO GO
Your question:
I am a grade 8 referee upgrading to 7, and hopefully to 6 next year. I am looking for helpful ideas on applying the rule that says a foul is committed if when tackling for the ball the player makes contact with the opposing player before making contact with the ball. What are the playing conditions when this constitutes a foul?

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
This foul occurs when a player attempts to tackle for the ball but, instead of taking the ball directly, makes contact first with the opponent’s foot or leg and then takes the ball. This often occurs when the tackler has not settled him- or herself before attempting the tackle. The International F. A. Board’s intent with this foul is part of their general campaign against fouls committed while tackling from behind and/or which endanger the safety of an opponent.

Both referees and players must remember that stating the rule this way doesn’t mean that contact with the opponent AFTER making contact with the ball is therefore legal. It all depends on how the player does it.


“SWEARING”
Your question:
In soccer can you get a yellow card for swearing in the game?

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
“Swearing” unconnected with completing an affidavit is red card misconduct if the referee determines that the language or gestures are offensive, insulting, or abusive. The referee might decide to caution for the language if he decides that it doesn’t fit into one of these categories but it is instead unsporting behavior (bringing the game into disrepute) or was committed to express dissent with an official’s decision.


KICKING THE BALL IN THE ‘KEEPER’S POSSESSION
Your question:
In a recent U-10 game, there was a scramble for the ball in front of the goal. The keeper, while lying on the ground, reached out to the side and put one hand on top of the ball so that the ball was sandwiched between the ground and the keepers hand. A split second later, an opposing player arrived and kicked the ball from this position into the net. Is this a goal?

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
The goalkeeper establishes possession of the ball if he holds it down with only one finger. From that moment he has approximately six seconds to release the ball into play. Any player who attempts to play the ball while it is in the goalkeeper’s decision is preventing the ‘keeper from releasing the ball and thus infringes Law 12. If the player kicks at the goalkeeper’s hand to gain the ball, the player has committed a direct free kick foul and could possibly be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. It the kicker makes contact with the goalkeeper’s hand, he could be sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card.


UNUSUAL INFRINGEMENT OF LAW 14
Your question:
At the taking of a penalty kick, a teammate of the kicker encroaches and the kicker plays the ball forward to that teammate. Does this result in an indirect free kick to the defense?

The LOTG and the advice to referees only reference an indirect free kick for the defense if the ball rebounds from the goalposts or the GK and goes to a encroaching teammate of the kicker.

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
There is no concrete direction on this from the International F. A. Board or FIFA. Nevertheless, it seems clear that their intent is that play be stopped, the teammate of the kicker admonished or cautioned as appropriate, and play restarted with an indirect free kick.


GOALKEEPER “HANDLING”; PLAYER RE-ENTERS WITHOUT PERMISSION
Your question:
1. The Player intentional passes the ball back to his own goalkeeper who fumbles the ball with his feet and to prevent a goal the goalkeeper uses his hands to stop the ball from entering his own goal. What do you do? (Is it unsporting behaviour…caution….re-start with IDK?)

2. The Player (#12) is sent off to adjust his equipment. #12 then returns WITHOUT THE REFEREE’S PREMISSION, and is immediately given a goal scoring opportunity. #12 is then violently tackled from behind by his opponent while in the penalty area. WHAT DO YOU DO??

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
1. Indirect free kick. Why would one look for misconduct here? It is a simple violation of Law 12.

2. Caution #12 for re-entering the field without the referee’s permission and show him the yellow card. As the referee was unable to stop play for the caution before the violent tackle from behind, the opponent who tackled #12 violently, and thus endangered #12’s safety, must be sent off for serious foul play (if they were competing for the ball) or violent conduct (if they were not) and shown the red card.


OFFSIDE
Your question:
The attacking team is advancing towards the goal and have crossed the midfield line. Attacking Midfielder has the ball and passes to a forward clearly in an off sides position just forward of the sweeper. The sweeper intercepts the ball and in doing so kicks the ball out of bounds. The referee awarded the ball to the attacking team ruling that there was no offsides. The defending team believed that as the attacking team benefited from the off sides position should of been awarded the ball.

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
And just how did the attacking team benefit? Did they score a goal?

The referee must weigh a number of things in deciding to call offside. First is offside position. Then comes who last played the ball, whether teammate or opponent. Then comes involvement in play, meaning whether or not the player was interfering with play, interfering with an opponent, or gained an advantage by being in the offside position. The opinion of the defending team does not appear anywhere in the equation. In this situation, the referee clearly decided there was no involvement in play by the attacking midfielder. Therefore, there was no offside.

On the other hand, the referee (despite what he actually did) COULD also have decided that the attacker in question was involved in active play and given offside. What we need to avoid here is the assumption on the part of anyone that, just because a defender happened to kick the ball, offside cannot be given in a situation like this (i.e., attacker clearly in offside position, ball clearly played to him but intercepted and then possession lost immediately thereafter).


KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK
Your question:
In this procedure, the goalkeeper being an eligible player, must he take a penalty kick before any player can take a second kick. I suggest that he does but I am confused with the last paragraph in the Laws of The Game.

Before the start of kicks from the penalty mark the referee shall ensure that only an equal number of players from each team remain within the centre circle and they shall take the kicks.

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
Yes, all players eligible for kicks from the penalty mark must kick before any member of this group kicks a second time.


‘KEEPER DOWN, TOO BAD; INTERFERING WITH AN OPPONENT OR PLAY
Your question:
Situation 1: A blue team player attempts to kick the ball into the goal, and kicks the ball directly to the goal keeper. As the keeper attempts to catch the ball, another blue team player jumps up and attempts to head the ball into the goal (missing the ball completely) knocking the keeper to ground. The keeper manages to deflect the ball, but while on the ground, a goal is scored by another blue player. Is this a goal?

Situation 2: Can a player in an offside position interfere with play if he is just standing still on the weak side of the goal keeper? For example, the keeper is trying to maintain a defensive position to defend the goal from the strong side of the field. However, an opponent, in an offside position, is standing within 10 yards on the opposite side of the keeper. The keeper is well aware of the opponent, is distracted by the offside player, and moves out of position to defend against the offside opponent. Is this an offside offense?

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
The goalkeeper has no more rights than any other player — other than to be able to play the ball with his hands within his own penalty area.

1. If, in the opinion of the referee, the goalkeeper was knocked down in the course of play through no fault of an opponent, then no foul has been committed. That would appear to be the case in the situation you describe. Yes, this is a goal.

2. Goalkeepers should know better than to mark any player. The important element in scoring is the opponent with the ball, not an opponent without the ball in an offside position. The referee should only decide that a player is interfering with play or with an opponent if that player ‹ in the opinion of the referee, not in the opinion of the opponents ‹ truly interferes with play or with an opponent in the area of active play. If so, then he should be called offside. Mere presence anywhere on the field should not be considered a distraction for the opponents.


REFEREE CODE OF ETHICS
Your question:
I may be totally imagining a rule, but isn’t there a rule about not being the Center or the A/R at your own child’s game or is it just an unwritten code of ethics?

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
In the Referee Administrative Handbook, p. 33, it suggests that assistant referees should not be related in any way to either team participating in the game unless it is impossible to get other affiliated officials assigned. Unfortunately, sometimes the referee game assignors do not have enough bodies to go around and ask parents or siblings to referee games in which their kin will be playing.


PUSHING/HOLDING; IMPEDING; URL FOR “ADVICE”
Your question:
1. Player A has possession of the ball and Player B is attempting to regain possession. Player A keeps the ball on the far side of player B and has an extended locked arm towards Player B so as to maximize space and maintain possession. Can this be considered a foul as long as the arm is fully extended and no pushing (a little leaning but no bending of the arm as in a push) on Player A’s part is observed?

2. In my many years coaching I have seen obstruction calls for some questionable scenarios. Can you please describe the proper use of an obstruction call. My concern is that I have seen referees call a player whom I would term “shielding the ball” as obstructing play. So I’m a bit confused as to what is and is not acceptable.

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
1. If we were playing the football with the pointy-ended ball, this would be fine. Unfortunately for player A, we are dealing with soccer, and his action in this situation is not permitted. The referee should stop play for pushing (or, depending on the circumstances, possibly holding) by player A and restart with a direct free kick for the opponents from the place where the infringement occurred.

2. “Obstruction” is now known as “impeding.” An excellent answer to your question will be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” section 12.14, IMPEDING AN OPPONENT:
QUOTE
“Impeding the progress of an opponent” means moving on the field so as to obstruct, interfere with, or block the path of an opponent. Impeding can include crossing directly in front of the opponent or running between him and the ball so as to form an obstacle with the aim of delaying his advance. There will be many occasions during a game when a player will come between an opponent and the ball, but in the majority of such instances, this is quite natural and fair. It is often possible for a player not playing the ball to be in the path of an opponent and still not be guilty of impeding.

The offense requires that the ball not be within playing distance or not capable of being played, and physical contact between the player and the opponent is normally absent. If physical contact occurs, the referee should, depending on the circumstances, consider instead the possibility that a charging infringement has been committed (direct free kick) or that the opponent has been fairly charged off the ball (indirect free kick). However, nonviolent physical contact may occur while impeding the progress of an opponent if, in the opinion of the referee, this contact was an unavoidable consequence of the impeding (due, for example, to momentum).
END OF QUOTE

The Advice to Referees may be downloaded from this URL:
http://www.ussoccer.com/referees/default.sps?iType=220&icustompageid=122.
It’s the Laws of the Game page with a link to the following page:
http://www.ussoccer.com/templates/includes/services/referees/pdfs/Advice2001.pdf


BALL PRESSURE
Your question:
What is the correct pressure for Size 5, 4 & 3 Soccer balls?

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
All balls used in games played under the Laws of the Game must be of a pressure equal to 0.6 – 1.1 atmosphere (600 – 1100 g/cm 2 ) at sea level (8.5 lbs/sq in 15.6 lbs/sq in).

For those who have forgotten, U-13s and older play with a number 5 ball, which has a circumference of 27-28 inches and must weigh 14-16 ounces at the beginning of the game. U-10s-12s play with a number 4 ball, which has a circumference of 25-26 inches and must weigh between 11 and 13 ounces at the beginning of the game. U-9s and younger play with a number 3 ball, which has a circumference of 23-24 inches and must weigh between 11 and 12 ounces at the beginning of the game.


JUGGLING ‘KEEPER ASKS . . .
Your question:
In a recent adult game, I, the keeper, came out on an on rushing opponent as the ball was bouncing above our heads. I reached up and knocked the ball away from my opponent, without touching him, and then caught the ball on the next touch. Is this legal by FIFA standards and if not what type of foul is awarded to my opponent??? Please help—-Juggling Keeper!!!!!

USSF answer (May 9, 2003):
The answer is clearly and specifically stated in the Laws of the Game. Law 12, International F. A. Board Decision 2 tells us: “The goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball by touching it with any part of his hand or arms. Possession of the ball includes the goalkeeper deliberately parrying the ball, but does not include the circumstances where, in the opinion of the referee, the ball rebounds accidentally from the goalkeeper, for example after he has made a save.”

So, if you did not deliberately play the ball to this particular place — and the referee agrees that this was not deliberate — you should not be punished. If the referee believes that you deliberately played the ball to a particular spot, then you have “sinned” and the referee will award an indirect free kick to your opponents.


WHY DO WE CAUTION UNANNOUNCED ‘KEEPER CHANGE?
Your question:
My question is regarding the need to caution players involved in a goalie change where the referee is not notified (especially when this takes place at half time). I don’t understand the severity of this and have a difficult time explaining to the players “why” they are being carded.

Although I do my best to officiate games in accordance with not only the rules of the game, but also the spirit in which they are written, this is one ruling that I “disagree with.”

Can you offer me some further guidance as to why this rule is in place? I want to be able to pass this on to the players and coaches, should the need arise again. I am a veteran referee of 18 years and have been playing soccer since 1972. Thank you for your assistance!

USSF answer (May 7, 2003):
This is a complex question. The rationale for the rule is based in part on the fact that the goalkeeper is the only player allowed to play the ball with his hands. The referee needs to know who this player is to manage the game properly.

The authority for the caution of both the former and current goalkeepers is Law 3: Anytime the goalkeeper is replaced without the required conditions being met (stoppage of play AND notification to referee), the Law demands that the players involved be cautioned, but only after waiting for the next stoppage. This establishes that whoever wears the funny shirt IS the goalkeeper, even if they got that way illegally and getting that way illegally is cautionable.

This authority is further emphasized in the Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, written by the International Football Association Board (FIFA) and published for the IFAB by FIFA. it can be found under Law 3, Q&A 17:
“17. A player changes places with the goalkeeper during half-time without informing the referee. The new goalkeeper then touches the ball with his hand during the second half. What action does the referee take?
“He allows play to continue and cautions both players for unsporting behavior when the ball goes next out of play.”

The Q&A emphasizes that, even when this occurs during an obvious stoppage, notification of the referee remains a critical element.

See also the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” section 8.3 PLAYER COUNT:
“Count the number of players in both teams before the beginning of each half and after any substitution. The intelligent referee’s signal to start the second half is a tacit acknowledgment that the persons on the field are players and the persons wearing a goalkeeper jersey are the goalkeepers — so long as the persons themselves are not illegal and the team is fielding the proper number of players. This may not be possible during a match played strictly in accordance with the requirements of Law 3 ‹ in other words, most matches other than youth games. During such a match, if the referee discovers that a player has changed places with the goalkeeper during the halftime break without informing the referee, under the letter of the Law the referee should allow play to continue and then caution both players for unsporting behavior when the ball next goes out of play.”

We might add that the referee, by accepting the game assignment and coming to the field, also accepts the rules under which the game is played. There can be no selection of which rule will be enforced and which will not.


PLEASE KEEP UP WITH THE LAWS . . . PLEASE!
Your question:
I am a referee, player, ands coach. My questions involve refereeing, however. First of all, I would like to know what are the new responsibilities of the Assistant referees that were just added for this year. Also, I would like to know why a specific reference to time was removed from the six-second rule for keepers.

USSF answer (May 7, 2003):
There has been no change in the duties of the assistant referee for several years now, nor has there been any change in the six-second rule. The goalkeeper is still punished if he takes more than six seconds while controlling the ball with his hands before releasing it from his possession. Is it possible that you are thinking of the rules for another competition?


WHEN MAY THE ‘KEEPER NOT HANDLE THE BALL?
Your question:
When can a goalie not use his/her hands in the keeper’s box?

USSF answer (May 7, 2003):
The goalkeeper may not use his/her hands in the penalty area — is that what you mean by “keeper’s box”? — when the ball has been deliberately kicked to him/her or thrown in by a teammate, or directly after releasing the ball into play from his/her hands.


TEAMMATE KICKS THE BALL TOWARD ‘KEEPER
Your question:
If a Defender Kicks the Ball away from the attacker over to the Keeper that is in front of the Goal, can the Keeper pick it up or does she have to Kick it. and is that considered a off sides ? U12

USSF answer (May 7, 2003):
If the teammate deliberately kicked the ball to a place where the goalkeeper could play it, then the goalkeeper will infringe the Law by playing it with her hands. However, she may play the ball in any way that does not involve handling (e.g., show could kick it, head it, etc.). If the teammate miskicks the ball and it goes to the ‘keeper, she may play it in any way she wishes.

I am a bit befuddled that you think to connect this with offside. There is no way in which a teammate deliberately kicking the ball to her goalkeeper can make another teammate — and certainly not an opponent — offside.


GAME REPORT FORMS
Your question:
The current Referee Report form provided at ussoccer.com is a piece of garbage. It is intended to be completed on a computer and then printed. How many referees carry a laptop to games? A printer?

I run a youth soccer tournament for 300 teams who play 600 games in 4 days. When is a form, suitable for completion by hand at the game site, going to be provided?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
You can order referee report forms from the National Program for Referee Development office and pay for them. Either that or print out the form on the website and copy it. Using either of those ways, the referees will be able to meet your needs.


REFEREES MUST ALLOW MEDICALERT BRACELETS!!!
Your question:
My son was made to take off his medic alert necklace during a soccer game, can they do that?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
No referee should refuse to allow a medicalert bracelet to be worn if it is properly taped.

Please accept the apology of the National Program for Referee Development. This is something that should not have happened. I have cc’ed the State Referee Administrator for [your state], who will take steps to ensure that it does not happen again.


HOW MUCH WIND IS TOO MUCH WIND?
Your question:
Is there a guideline as to what constitutes sufficient wind to warrant the postponement of a game?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
Use the old stand-by, referee common sense.


WHEN IS IT DISSENT?
Your question:
I maintain if I hear a negative comment, it is dissent, whether it was spoken directly to me or not,and the fact that “I was talking to him!!” doesn’t matter. What is your opinion? Thanks for the great service you provide. Chris Radus

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
The intelligent referee will hear only what he or she needs to hear, not everything that is said on the field. If the referee “hears” a comment that could affect game control, then it must be dealt with. If it is not a matter for game control, then it didn’t happen.

You might wish to read through the recent memorandum on Misconduct Involving Language/Gestures, dated March 14, 2003. Although it is focused on abusive, insulting, and offensive language rather than dissent, many of the principles are the same. You will find the memo on this site.


SPECTATING AND REFEREE CODE OF ETHICS
Your question:
I am a referee, and a member of Sam’s Army. Is it permissible under the code of ethics to join in on some of the more colorful cheers that are directed at the referee when a call does not go ‘our way’? I stay quiet…. and just smile…. during them.

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
There is no way we can give you a good answer on this question.


CALL SORTING: THE WAY TO GO
Your question:
The culprit involved in the question entitled “WORLD’S OLDEST SOCCER TRICK REVISITED” of April 30, 2003 was a goalkeeper who caught the ball in his jersey in his own PA. As such he cannot be guilty of handling the ball illegally. But how about a field player? Would this action be a handling foul (simultaneous with the misconduct) if the culprit could be culpable of a handling foul at the location of the incident? If not, how does this case differ from a player who uses his shinguard to play the ball? IFAB says that the shinguard is considered an extension of the hand and using that extension is handling the ball. Why wouldn’t the jersey likewise be considered an extension of the hand?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
The player could be considered to have used his hands to control the ball and thus the referee could choose to punish him for the foul as well as for the misconduct. But the intelligent referee would observe all the spectators and other players laughing their heads off and ponder the wisdom of punishing anything more than the unsporting behavior. The intelligent referee does not look for ways to put his neck into the noose.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION
Your question:
I am confused about the rule covering the GK and bouncing the ball to himself (like dribbling a basketball). My interpretation of Law 12 leads me to believe that this is a violation of the law, and there should be an IDK for the opposing team. However, I have had coaches and other referees tell me this is called “parrying” the ball, and it is legal, according to decision 2 of the FIFA board. I believe the GKs in the MLS do bounce the ball while they are moving to the top of the PA.

I looked up “parrying” in the dictionary and it means “to ward off, evade or turn aside”, which to me clearly refers to the GK blocking or punching shots. Please advise. Thanks.

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
The goalkeeper is considered to be in possession of the ball while bouncing it on the ground or while throwing it into the air. Possession is given up if, while throwing the ball into the air, it is allowed to strike the ground.

Parrying the ball — another form of possession — is what happens when the goalkeeper plays the ball with his hands to a place where he can safely play it again with his feet, but does not include the circumstances where, in the opinion of the referee, the ball rebounds accidentally from the goalkeeper, for example after he has made a save. [NOTE: See another answer below.]


TRIFLING OR NOT?
Your question:
I recently did U12 boys game. It was a well played game with little to no need for me to stop play for any reason. The following day, I received an Email from one of the coaches informing me that he thought I had done a good job. However, he felt that I was a bit lax when calling “bad throw-ins.” He thought that both teams were guilty of clearly lifting their back foot off of the ground when executing a throw-in. Actually, I made no calls for technical infringements on throw-ins. I wrote back to him enclosing the copied words from 15.5 Trifling Infringements of Law 15. Along with my own words shown here: “I feel that lax is an incorrect assessment of my performance. It is constantly impressed upon referees not to disrupt the flow of the game by making trifling or doubtful calls. None of the throw-ins were that poorly done to warrant being addressed nor was there any advantage gained by either team through lifting of the back foot. In the opinion of the referee, it was a well played and exciting game from the opening kick-off. Whistling for imperceptible trifling infractions would have detracted from the flow of this game.”

As far as the game goes, I feel as though I had done what was expected of me as a referee. But after sending the Email, I began thinking of how my reply might be interpreted. I began to wonder about not having made the calls. Suppose one on those “bad throw-ins” resulted in a clean break away and a subsequent goal then the technical infringement most certainly would not be trifling. Especially to the defensive team. In this made up scenario, had the lifting of the back foot been called then there would not have been a resulting goal. When is trifling truly trifling? It seems as though true judgment of trifling can only be made in hindsight.

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
You would seem to have called the throw-ins correctly. Trifling is trifling when the result of the action makes absolutely no difference to the game. Or, in other words, when the result is to get the ball back into play, the Law has been served and what comes after that is just part of the game. That said, please talk to the players about proper procedure. They are not permitted to lift their feet during the throw-in.

A word of advice: Never let coaches influence your decisions, before, during, or well after the game has concluded.


Law 13
Your question:
I just need a few clarifications about Law 13 since the books we get are the same ones posted on fifa.com, which are an abridged version. In the taking of a free kick inside the penalty area (such as a goal kick) the team taking the kick may stand in the penalty area, but the opposing team may not go in until the ball is in play. Now, let’s say that only the GK is in the penalty area to take the kick, but the kick is played softly and a player from both teams are running in to get the ball that is still in the penalty area. If player from the team that is taking the kick touches it, the kick is re-taken, but if the opposing team player touches it, is it an indirect kick from where the infringement occurred? Now let’s say that the GK miss-hit and ran after the ball to stop it before it went out of the PA, would he receive a yellow card for unsporting behavior since he is using trickery with an IFK restart, or would the goal kick just be re-taken? And finally, is there a more formal law book besides the basic laws of the game found at FIFA’s website?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
The Laws of the Game posted on the FIFA website are not abridged, nor are they different from the Laws of the Game anywhere else. You may be thinking of the rules for various competitions unaffiliated with the world game of soccer, such as those for games played in high school or college, which are crammed with superfluous information.

As to your other questions, you will find the answers within Law 13. Please try reading it again. It is appended here for ease of access.
LAW 13 – Free Kicks
//The Law was quoted in full in the response to the questioner. No need for repetition here.//


OFFSIDE
Your question:
I have only been refereeing for a few years and have not come across this situation until yesterday. I was the AR at a U16 flight 1 match. The attacking team (white) had a player clearly in the offside position in front of the goal. The defending team (blue) had gotten possession of the ball and attempted to clear it out of the PA. The ball struck another defending player on the blue team and then went to the white player in the offside position. He then turned and put the ball in the goal. I thought the player was offside and raised the flag, as I had been taught that any time a player gains an unfair advantage by being in an offside position, it should called. The center ref explained to me that basically if a defending player initiates the play and the ball is either deflected off another defender, or accidentally played to the offside player, that they are not offside.

So, not that anyone would intentionally give the ball to the opposing team on purpose, but if a defender at any time passes the ball to a player on the attacking team in an offside position, they will never be offside?

Is this correct and how do you find this in the rule book? I was not the only person, or ref who did not know or understand this ruling. If this is indeed the correct ruling, it should be clearly written in the rule book and maybe even have an example or two for those of us who do not understand it. The center ref and both of the AR’s looked in the “Laws of the game” book after the match and there was nothing stating this kind of a situation.

Please help me better understand the law, so I can in turn be a better ref.

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
You need look no further than Law 11, Offside, which tells us that a player in an offside position is only penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by ONE OF HIS TEAM, he is involved in play. If the ball is played by one or two opponents (who had full possession of the ball), then a player in an offside position can never be called offside.


CAN THE SUBBED IN PLAYER TAKE A PENALTY KICK?
Your question:
A player and a new referee who played in a State Cup (U13B?) game this past weekend asked me the following question? He was fouled and injured in the penalty area by a slide tackle. He left the field due to his injury and was replaced. His coach wanted the new player to take the penalty kick and the coach from the other team argued against it, stating that only players on the field at the time could take it. The CR did not allow the new player to take the kick. Another player took the kick and the ball hit the post and was cleared by the other team. I did not see anything in the LOTG other than rules about going to PKs after the game has ended to determine a winner. In which case only those on the field at that time can participate. It appears that the CR was incorrect in this ruling. If there anything in the LOTG or ATR that would clarify this?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
The referee erred in two ways: First, he did not know the proper application of the Law. Second, he took the advice of a coach on the proper application of the Law. Any player on the kicking team may take the penalty kick.

It is likely that the coach was thinking of a high school game. High school rules state that a player entering the field due to an injury substitution at a penalty kick cannot take the kick.


STRIKING OR KICKING?
Your question:
What differentiates a kicking foul from a striking foul? In the thread entitled “KICKING THE BALL AT AN OPPONENT” of April 22, 2003, presuming that the referee decided that the offense was deliberate, is the foul a striking foul or a kicking foul? Where would the restart occur — at the location of the victim or culprit?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
Striking is the use of the hand or an object, such as the ball, to smite another player. Kicking is the use of the foot, and the foot alone, to kick another player. The offense in the item you cite is, as suggested there, striking. If such a foul is called, the restart would be a direct free kick (or penalty kick) from the point of contact or where the contact would have been had the aim been better or the victim less agile.


SHINGUARDS
Your question:
What is the interpretation of, or the USSF stance on shinguards. The Laws of the Game only state that they provide a “Reasonable amount of protection”. What does that mean? Some of the more skilled players always try to wear as little as possible. Is there any “official” standard to follow?

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
The first and only standard available to referees is the admonition in Law 5 that the referee must ensure player safety. As both the IFAB and FIFA have stated, soccer is a tough, competitive, contact sport in which people can be hurt. The referee’s duty to ensure player safety safety cannot extend to making the sport harmless.

With regard to shinguards, the concept of safety suggests that the greatest portion possible of the player’s shin should be covered by the shinguard. In fact the shinguard is intended to be worn under the sock and there are various reasons for this — it ensures that the shinguard stays covered, cushions any contact between the leg and other players (where the hard material in the shinguard could scrape or abrade), and helps in keeping the shinguard on the leg. A sensible guideline for shinguards is that they must be worn properly, they must not have been altered, and they must be recognizably manufactured as shinguards. Alterations of the shinguard to make it more protective are acceptable, while alterations to make the shinguard less protective are not acceptable.

The U. S. Soccer Federation guideline on shinguards is precisely the same as that given by FIFA, who polices the enforcement of the Laws promulgated by the International F. A. Board (IFAB), the folks who write them: Law 5 instructs the referee to ensure that the players’ equipment meets the requirements of Law 4. Law 4 prescribes that a player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewelry). In other words, it is up to the referee to ensure that the equipment used in the game he officiates meets these requirements. As soon as the IFAB and FIFA provide firmer guidelines, the U. S. Soccer Federation will ensure that they are implemented in the United States. There will most likely never be a black-and-white table of measurements and specifications for shinguards.


NO CHANGE DUE IN THE OFFSIDE LAW
Your question:
I have been hearing a lot about an anticipated adjustment in the definition of offside. Is it true, and if yes, when? My understanding is that the contemplated new requirement will include the definition that the second to last player must be clearly offside by at least one full body width with daylight showing between the attacker and the last defender. Please let me know if any of this is factual.

USSF answer (May 6, 2003):
The information is incorrect. You need to caution your informants about the possible psychological and physiological consequences of the illegal substances they have been using — or you need to acquire a better class of informants.


LOST SHOE/SUB AT HALF-TIME
Your question:
I had a referee tell my team that if they were playing and their shoe came off they had to immediately leave the field and not touch the ball again or they would recieve a yellow card???? Also the same referee gave our coach a yellow card for changing keepers at half-time and not telling her… what is the law on goalkeeper changes, I know you must inform the ref of a change in the flow of the game but….? Any clarification would be greatly appreciated (our team is a U11 boys team).

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
Lost shoe: Normally the act of losing a shoe on the field of play is neither an unsafe nor an unfair action by the player who does this. The player need not leave the field to replace the shoe and should certainly not be punished by the referee unless he or she does not replace the shoe as quickly as possible.

Caution for not informing the referee of a substitution at half-time: First and most importantly, if the referee knew that there had been a substitution for the goalkeeper, then the intent of the Law has been satisfied. Should the referee have been “informed” ahead of time? Sure, but so what? Refereeing is not a game of “gotcha”! Second, even if the Law were to be applied strictly in this case, the referee’s only recourse for an illegal substitution of any sort (not just the goalkeeper) is to caution the players involved, not the coach (even though, ultimately, it was probably the fault of the coach that this happened). The Laws of the Game do not permit the showing of cards to coaches.


REFEREES ARE INFALLIBLE — NOT!
Your question:
I was at a game recently where a player on our team was attacking the opposition with the ball…..made his run into the penalty box…..but was fouled by the defender. The ref blew his whistle…..then signalled offside at first….how our kid could be offside and he is the one with the ball I have no idea. Then the ref gave us an indirect freekick inside the box….because he said our kid was fouled by the defender who charged him.

We scored….but correct me if I am wrong………if a player with the ball is fouled by the defender…in the penalty area…is that not a penalty or did the rules of the game changed during that moment.

The ref was not great…..but that call puzzled the heck out of me……care to explain that one.

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
As we have admitted here in the past, not all referees are perfect. Indeed, as the old English saying has it, the perfect referee’s grandfather has not yet been born.

As you gave no clear indication of what happened we can only assume — always the possibility for error in such cases — that the players with the ball were attacking the opponents’ goal. In any case, the only answer possible is that the restart depends on what type of foul was committed. If the foul was one punishable by a direct free kick, then the restart is a direct free kick (penalty kick if committed by the defending team within their own penalty area). If the foul was one punishable by an indirect free kick, then the restart is an indirect free kick.

And, yes, it is possible for the player with the ball to be offside — if the player was in an offside position when the ball was played to him by a teammate. [NOTE: The questioner later stated that the player had dribbled the ball all the way from his team’s side of the halfway line.]


PLAYER RETURN TO FIELD
Your question:
I play for a youth team in a local league. Our team barely has enough players on its roster to put 11 players on the field. At one game, we only had 10 people show up so we played with all 10 on the field (the other team had more than enough players and they played with 11). My coach and I asked the referee what the procedures are if one of our players became too winded during the game and had to go off the field of play in order to catch his breath. The referee told us that the player is allowed to leave the field at any time during play provided that he received the referee’s permission. However, the referee then said that the player must wait until a stoppage of play to come back on the field.

I am also a referee. It has always been my understanding that if a player is simply requesting to come back on the field after temporarily leaving the field, then he can be allowed back on in the middle of play provided he has the referee’s permission. This referee said that the player must wait until a stoppage in order to come back on. I don’t believe this is true because it is not a substitution and there is no equipment correction or blood to inspect. Please let me know if I am correct in thinking that players who are temporarily off the field in these circumstances can come back on the field in the middle of play with the referee’s permission. Thanks

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
Your understanding would appear to be without imperfection, young referee. And you described the options very nicely, too.


PLAYING THE BALL WHILE ON THE GROUND; INJURED PLAYER
Your question:
In my opinion the #1 job of the ref on the field during play is to prevent injury. These are kids playing a game.

Question #1
In the past it seemed that ANY play of the ball while a player was on the ground was called and a free kick was awarded. Now we are seeing it ignored. What should be the call?

Very often there are players in close enough proximity (1-3ft max) that the down player might trip or kick another player or get THEIR hands stepped on and possibly broken as players converge on the losse ball.

Dangerous play is a judgement call but…(remember the old saying that if a foul wasn’t called….it wasn’t a foul)…..a dangerous play might only be dangerous AFTER someone is seriously injured! If there is no injury it was’t dangerous….WRONG! If the referee lets the play go….the injured player pays for his/her error in judgement.

Question #2
Can you clearly describe the action that should/must be taken by a ref during play when a player is injured and down on the field. I’ve seen OBVIOUSLY, seriously injured players (you could hear bones crack) go down while a ref lets play continue waiting for a change of ball control. That is nuts!

Parents scream at them to stop play (when the injury is obvious to everyone and it could be for either team) and they frequently let play continue until change of control.

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
1. Your first question was answered in March 2003 (and in 2001)
USSF answer (March 21, 2003):
[This answer is a repeat of an answer of October 10, 2001.]
There is nothing illegal, by itself, about playing the ball while on the ground. It becomes the technical 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.

If this is not the case (for example, the player had no opponent nearby), then there is no violation of the Law. If the referee decides that a dangerous play violation has occurred, the restart must be an indirect free kick where the play occurred (subject to the special rules that apply to restarts in the goal area).

By the way, even if a dangerous play violation has been called, the referee should never verbalize it as “playing on the ground” since there is no such foul in the Laws of the Game.

2. And your second question was answered back in November 2002.
USSF answer (November 13, 2002):
The referee’s first concern in any game must be the safety of the players. This is especially important at the younger ages, as players must be taught to respect not only the Laws, but also their fellow players. There is no particular amount of time to be observed before stopping the game for a truly serious injury. The referee must exercise common sense in this, as in all other aspects of refereeing.

Stopping the game too quickly, especially at the urging of players, parents, and coaches, is a major problem in youth soccer — in trying to “play it safe” in the case of injuries (i.e., stopping play despite the likelihood that the injury is not serious), referees attempt to avoid the consequences of Law 5. Players and parents and coaches may yell as much as they like, but if they enter the field without the referee’s permission, they risk disciplinary proceedings and abandonment of the match. If the coach has already entered the field, the intelligent referee will take no immediate action on a first occurrence, but will simply remind the coach that he must have the referee’s permission to enter the field. Neither parents nor coaches are normally permitted on the field at any time, but the intelligent referee will often let such things go in youth games by understanding the motives which impel the coach or parent to rush onto the field if they think Johnny or Susie is hurt.)

If the referee believes that the goalkeeper is seriously injured, it is common practice to allow the examination and subsequent treatment of the goalkeeper to take place on the field of play. In other words, the goalkeeper does not have to leave the game. If play was stopped solely for the injury, it must be restarted by a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped — keeping in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8.

Under the strict interpretation of the Law and at higher levels of the game, when play is stopped for a serious injury, the referee authorizes only qualified persons (no more than one or two doctors or trainers, plus the stretcher crew, if available — but NO coaches) to enter the field to ascertain the type of injury and to arrange the player¹s safe and swift removal from the field. No one else is allowed on the field of play, but there is no restriction against players going to the touchline to discuss various matters with team officials, as long as the players do not leave the field. The players must be prepared to resume immediately when the referee has ensured that the injured player is safely off the field of play.

The only player who is normally not removed from the field for treatment of injury is the goalkeeper.

This is an excellent opportunity to mention one of the recent changes in the Law: a seriously injured player required to leave the field cannot return until after play resumes (if the player was not substituted in accordance with youth rules).

NOTE: For further information on dealing with serious injury, see the Additional Instructions for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials that follow Law 17 in the Laws of the Game.


FAILURE TO RETIRE
Your question:
If a team decides takes a free kick while the defenders are within 10 yards of the ball and the kick is intercepted by a defender, is it correct that no action is required by the referee, as it was the team’s decision to take the kick? This would differ if the referee had signaled the defenders to remain 10 yards from the ball but they subsequently encroached before the kick was taken. The restart would then be to retake the free kick after cautioning the defenders for failure to maintain the required distance from the free kick.

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
Much depends on what you mean by “intercepted” — if it means that the defender moved to take control of the ball from within 10 yards, then the defender did violate the Law and should be cautioned and shown the yellow card. If it means that the ball was kicked directly to the defender within 10 yards, then, “oh, well.”


EARLY SEND-OFF
Your question:
What adviCe do you give a referee who is put in a situation early in the match where his decision will mostly likely decide the eventual winner of the game. In a high school soccer match involving two of the top teams, one team’s star GK struck an opponent in his own penalty area in the games 5th minute. This is what happened again the games 5th minute. A shot was taken on goal, and a forward ran following the shot in the hopes the play would lead to a loose ball in front of goal. The GK cleanly caught the ball and quickly ran out from goal toward the onrushing forward.   As the forward and the GK ran past each other the GK allowed his elbow to hit the forward in the ribs and due to the momentum it was a very hard blow. The forward appeared stunned but took the blow well and needed no stoppage in play. There was no doubt the GK purposely struck the forward and tried make it look like an accidental collision during hard fast play.

The way I see this play the Referee has about one or two seconds to decide to:
1. Send off the GK for serious foul play and award a PK
2. Award a PK and caution the GK for unsportsmanlike conduct.
3. Award a PK
4. Let play continue

No matter what the referee decides it’s a huge decision for the 5th minute and I would really appreciate any input.

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
Well, Jack Taylor, the former English FIFA Referee, had no problem sending off a player in the first minute of the 1974 World Cup final match. If only the rest of us had that kind of courage, the soccer world would be a better place.

The referee’s thought must not be what the effect of his or her decision will be, but what the effect of not dealing with violent conduct or serious foul play so early in the game will be. In most cases, it would be disastrous not to do something decisive.

The correct restart in this case would likely be a penalty kick, awarded before the other team even touched the ball.


PARRYING THE BALL — NO MORE QUESTIONS ON THIS, PLEASE
Your question:
The ball is sailing easily toward the goal where the goalkeeper is standing ready and waiting. An opponent is giving a half-hearted chase while a defender is off to one side in the clear. Instead of catching the ball, that’s just inches above his head, the goalkeeper shouts something and tries to push the ball over to his defender. The attempted push fails badly and merely pops the ball up and over the oncoming opponent’s head. The opponent turns to face the falling ball and shields the goalkeeper from getting to the descending ball – which seems to be playable again by the goalkeeper if it weren’t for the action of the opponent.

Question 1: Does the goalkeeper have the right to play the ball without interference because he parried the ball and thereby set the six-second count of possession – or is it deemed a released ball that’s open for all to play?

Question 2: The parry is successful and the ball is directed toward the defender (a distance that might or might not be beyond a second play by the goalkeeper before the ball would touch the teammate or the ground) but it’s intercepted by the opponent while still in the air. The six-second rule of possession applies or does not apply here?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
By parrying the ball, the goalkeeper has done two things: (1) established possession and (2) given up possession. The ball is now free for all to play. The six-second rule has no further application in this situation.


PLAYING DISTANCE
Your question:
My understanding: A player is not guilty of obstructing an opponent from getting to a loose ball when he cuts off the opponent’s path to the ball by going after the ball himself. As long as the ball is in ‘playing distance’ and the opponent is only shielded from reaching the ball first in a fair chase – even where the opponent is clearly a faster runner.

The issue: Playing Distance is generally considered to be an inexact short distance, often regarded to be about six feet. An advancing referee tells me that the 6 foot distance has been defined at clinics as the limit. I say this is because it naturally and most frequently occurs within that distance but ‘playing distance’ also applies to longer stretches as well. For example; the ball is 20 yards away and two opponents run for it, the player who leads the race may veer off a direct line to the ball to keep the opponent from passing as long this ‘shielding’ is not an unfair obstruction. The advancing referee disagrees and calls it obstruction because the ball is not in playing distance, not six feet or thereabouts.

The question: What is right?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
You and the “advancing referee” will find the answer in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
QUOTE
12.15 PLAYING DISTANCE
The referee¹s judgment of ³playing distance² should be based on the player¹s ability to play the ball, not upon any arbitrary standard.
END OF QUOTE

Distances such as those you propose would not fit the definition.


COURAGE
Your question:
I’m confused about an apparent contradiction in how many referees in my area interpret a foul after the play. If I am at midfield and deliver a ball, then a defender clatters me from behind, there is a foul called almost without exception. However, in my experience refs are very hesitant to call it if the same foul is committed in the penalty area after a forward shoots the ball. How are these different? If I shoot and miss, and a second later a defender bowls me over, isn’t that just as much of a foul as if it took place after a pass at midfield?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
There should be no difference in the calls. Unfortunately, many referees lose courage in direct proportion to how close they are to the goal line.


DELIBERATE HANDLING; PENALTY KICK
Your question:
My son plays soccer and while inside the penalty box he had inadvertantly touched the ball with his fore arm (upright and against his chest). the referee called “hand ball” a penalty was awarded to the opposing team…

When a hand ball is called on the defending team within the penalty box. does that result in a penalty kick? are defenders allowed to defend the goal? or is it kicker vs. goalkeeper?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
If the contact between the hand and the ball had been truly inadvertent and your son made no effort to take advantage of this contact, then the “hand ball” (which is more properly termed “a handling offense”) should not be called. However, if it was a true handling offense, then the penalty kick decision was correct. A defender committed a direct free kick foul inside his own penalty area — that is the recipe for a penalty kick restart.

At the penalty kick the defending goalkeeper remains on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked. The players other than the kicker are located inside the field of play, outside the penalty area, behind the penalty mark, and at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the penalty mark. So the only defender allowed to defend the goal is the goalkeeper.


GOALKEEPER POSITION AT PENALTY KICK
Your question:
If a goalkeeper lines up behind the goalline, in the goal, on a Penalty Kick can he move forward to the goalline before the ball is kicked?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
No. The defending goalkeeper remains on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked.

In actual practice, however, the referee should not signal for the penalty kick to be taken if the GK is not on the line … so the issue of moving forward should never arise.


TWO OFFSIDE QUESTIONS
Your question:
1. Can a player be offsides if he receives the ball from a throw-in?

2. Can a player be offsides if the ball is delivered from the other half of the pitch (ie, from a goal kick or delivered from one of his defender teammates)?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
1. According to Law 11, Offside, no player should be called offside it he receives the ball directly from a throw-in.

2. Again according to Law 11, no player can be called offside if he receives the ball directly from a goal kick. However, if the player is in an offside position and receives the ball directly from one of his teammates AND he is involved in play, he should be called offside. It doesn’t make any difference where the ball was delivered from, only where the attacker was when the ball was delivered.


REFEREE GARB
Your question:
May a soccer referee wear a black ball cap when it is a sunny day and he is lining(ar) into the sun? It reduces eye strain and makes it easier to watch offsides. It is hard to hold a flag, and run with your off-hand held up like a visor. I have been told “no,” yet all of the companies seem to sell black referee caps. I have also been told “yes.” what’s the official answer?

USSF answer (May 5, 2003):
[originally published in February 2003]
THE REFEREE UNIFORM
Referees may wear only the gold primary jersey or the black/white-, red/black- or blue-striped alternate jerseys. No other colors will be worn without express permission of the USSF. If the uniform colors worn by a goalkeeper and the referee or by a team (or both teams) and the referee are similar enough to invite confusion, the referee must attempt to have the goalkeeper or the team(s) change to different colors. If there is no way to resolve the color similarity, then the referee (and the assistant referees) must wear the colors that conflict least with the players. Referees and assistant referees must wear the same color jerseys, and all must wear the same length sleeves. The referee uniform does not include a hat, cap, or other head covering, with the exception of religious head covering. Referees must wear the badge of the current registration year.

The paragraph above does not cover shorts, socks or shoes, but referees who want to get ahead will make every effort to present themselves neatly and professionally. Shorts should be made of the same materials as the jerseys. Shoes must be black and bear as little ornamentation as possible. Referees should dress as conservatively as possible, to avoid drawing undue attention to themselves.

The policy on hats was also published in the October 1999 issue of Fair Play:
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.