CLUB LINESMEN/DO NOT CHAT WITH COACHES [LAW 6; LAW 18]
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]
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]
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.
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:
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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.…