2003 Part 4

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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

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

2003 Part 3

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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:
“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.

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”:
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.

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.

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”).

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.

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:
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.

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?

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.…

2003 Part 2

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

These principles apply at all levels of the game.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.


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.

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.…

2003 Part 1

Your question:
Situation 1: In a competetive U11 boys game, the goalkeeper caught an incoming shot and controlled it in his hands. While running out toward the edge of his penalty area to release the ball, he accidentally dropped the ball. It rolled a few feet, but he immediately picked the ball back up in his hands and then released it up the field, while remaining inside the PA throughout. There was no challenge for the ball from the opposing team while it was on the ground (not that it matters). It was clearly an accidental release of the ball by the goalkeeper, but it also was clearly not still in his possession, as if he were dribbling the ball. I was the center referee and I let play continue. But I wondered whether this should have been called an indirect free kick for the opposing team, because the gk released the ball and then re-handled it? I have read other opinions that indicate an accidental drop and immediate retrieval don’t constitute the actual “release” of the ball by the goalkeeper, but I would very much like the USSF opinion.

Situation 2: In a U14 boys game, the goalkeeper received a ball in his hands and was ready to release it. However, he noticed some problem with his uniform; he might have been tightening or re-fastening his gloves. Without any permission or acknowledgement from the referee, he set the ball down at his feet (in the penalty area), and proceeded to fix his uniform problem, which took him just a few seconds. There was no challenge for the ball by the opposing team. He then picked the ball back up and proceeded to release it back into play. I was the upfield assistant referee. Neither the center referee or nearest assistant made any call. They may have felt it was within the “spirit of the game” to let the play continue without call, and the goalkeeper was obviously very inexperienced. However, shouldn’t the correct call be that the goalkeeper re-handled the ball after releasing it, and an indirect free kick should have been awarded to the opposing team?

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
It’s re-education time for all referees: Was there an offense? Yes. Could it have been called? Yes? Should it be called if, in the opinion of the referee, the infraction was doubtful or trifling? No. All three answers are “by the book.”

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.

Your question:
Is it possible to be offside on a corner kick?

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):

Your question:
Please help me get closure on an issue that has been on more than one forum. You have answered related issues in previous responses to DOGSO-H and “passback” questions, but there continues to be disagreement about the particular elements of this question.

Player A with the ball in the center of her own half of the field is pressured by a defender. Player A kicks the ball in the direction of her keeper. The kicked pass from the player is headed toward goal and not directly at the keeper. The keeper, who is clearly outside the penalty area, dives and catches the ball with her hands while still clearly outside the penalty area. If, in the opinion of the referee, the kicked ball would have continued into goal, has the keeper denied a goal and committed a sending-off offense as described in 12.36 of the Advice to Referees?

(Leaving aside the additional factors of how one might call a U11 recreational game or how an intelligent referee might choose to form an opinion to best manage a particular adult game, what is the proper call?)

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
Bowing to your wishes and leaving aside all the other possible factors and sticking strictly to the opinion of the referee (as stated in your scenario), the goalkeeper — knowing exactly what she was doing — has denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity and must be sent off and shown the red card. (And because she knew what she was doing, it makes little difference what the level of the game.)

Your question:
I had an interesting call that I had in the game on Saturday. But I issued a yellow card against a red player on a corner kick, and I am not sure of the correct ruling. It is the first time I have ever run into this, and I did not know the correct call. One of those calls that you know something is not right, or does not seem right, but not sure.

Corner kick by red. Set play that they run. AR brought it to my attention at half time. Red sets up a player behind the goalie. Goalie is standing on the end-line inside the goal area. As the kick is being taken, player runs off the field, into the goal area, and back in front of the goalie. I called the red player for leaving the field of play without my permission, and issued a yellow card. Of course the red coach said that was wrong, and they have been doing this set play forever.  I could see it if the goalie was up a yard or so, and the player was trying to get to the ball. But this was happening as the kick was being taken. Almost seems to me to be a deception play in a way, and yet, what is wrong with it? Just did not feel right. What is your take on it? 12 years of doing this, and run into something new (again).

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
In situations like this, the referee must wait until the ball has been kicked to see what happens. If the player who is posting on the goalkeeper is attempting to play the ball, his tactics are legitimate. On the other hand, if he is attempting to interfere with the goalkeeper’s ability to play the ball, his tactics are not legitimate. In addition, he has left the field of play without the referee’s permission and could be cautioned and shown the yellow card at the referee’s discretion.

The referee must exercise common sense.

Your question:
I know this may seem odd and far out, but I’m really curious as to the answer to this. If a goalie caught the ball, tucked it into his jersey and sprinted up field into the other goal, would the goal count? He is not touching the ball with his hands in any way after he tucked the ball in his jersey.

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
No, the goal would not count. This act would be regarded as unsporting behavior. The goalkeeper would be cautioned and shown the yellow card. The restart would be an indirect free kick for the opposing team from the place where the goalkeeper tucked the ball into his jersey.

Your question:
Situation; A kick on goal. Attacker requests 10 yards. Referee tells attacker to wait for his signal. Attacker kicks without signal from referee.
1. The ball sails over the goal and out of touch. 2. The ball goes into the goal.

What is the restart for both 1 and 2?

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
The game was not restarted properly. The game must be restarted with the free kick.

Your question:
My friend was thrown out of a game after previously receiving a caution card and then later in the game he scored a goal and he lifted his shirt up and over his head, is this deserving of a 2nd yellow card?

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
If the referee believed that your friend was taunting or denigrating the opposing team by lifting his shirt up and over his head, or had a political message concealed beneath the shirt, then yes, the act deserved a caution/yellow card for unsporting behavior.

Your question:
I was coaching a youth soccer game, 10 and 11 year old boys. My team only had 7 players to start the game. The game was stopped for a throw in for the opposing team who was playing with a full team ( 11 players). At this time I was wanting to add a player, that showed up late, to the field of play .I was told that I could not do this at this time and I have to wait until my team has possession of a out of bounce ball like a throw in, goal kick, corner kick etc. Please advise on this situation. Again I was not substituting but only wanting to add a player because we played short, and the play was stopped.

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
Your referee was wrong. When a team is playing shorthanded for any reason other than having had one of its players sent off, that team may add a player at any stoppage. The player’s equipment must be inspected by the referee or an assistant referee or the fourth official and any player pass or other paperwork must be taken care of before the player can enter the game.

Your question:
What is the interpretation of the words in Law 4: “including any kind of jewelry”?

I am a State Emeritus Referee and work various levels of competition. In adult competition, players frequently want to wear their smooth wedding bands. Some women want to wear small earrings. I generally disallow all jewelry and quote Law 4. The players say only dangerous jewelry is prohibited, and they often talk about the jewelry professional players seem to get away with wearing. The players ask whether they may play if the jewelry is taped over.

The quoted phrase would seem to ban all jewelry–taped or nor–which would certainly make my life easier. I would like to know if there has been any ruling or interpretation on this issue (besides the medical or religious medals issue, which is not on point). I would also like to pass along the information to our association so that there is uniformity in the application of the rule.

USSF answer (April 30, 2003):
This question was answered in the May 2001 issue of Fair Play:
Law 4 and Jewelry
Law 4 of FIFA’s Laws of the Game states that “a player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewelry).”
The following items worn by players are considered dangerous and will not be allowed:
a) jewelry (including watches) worn on the wrist
b) rings with crowns or projections
c) jewelry worn along the upper or lower arm
d) earrings of any sort
e) tongue studs
f) any visible body piercing
The match referee remains the sole authority regarding the danger of anything worn by a player in a specific game. Referees must enforce these guidelines strictly.

As to professional players wearing jewelry, please see the USSF position paper on “Law 4, Players¹ Equipment (Jewelry),” dated March 17, 2003, available for download on this and other sites.

The U. S. Soccer Federation cannot make new Laws or change the existing ones. We referees are expected to exercise common sense in enforcing the existing Laws. Referees have the guidelines: It is up to them to enforce them until we receive further guidance from FIFA.

Your question:
Can you get a red card because you have a angry face when you make a foul not worthy of a yellow?

USSF answer (April 29, 2003):
Anything is possible in this wonderful world of ours.

Your question:
1. U11 boys game. Injury on the field towards the end of the game. The referee adds extra time because of the injury. In the last couple of seconds of extra time one of the away team players scores a goal and is celebrating as this is the winning goal. After the celebrating the referee looks at his watch and declares no goal as the game had ended. Since there was no game ending whistle, is this a legitimate call?

2. Weather is rainy and the ball is very slippery. U11B throws the ball in but because it’s so slippery the ball slips out early in the throw and lands on the field directly in front of the player. The ball had entered the field of play and the thrower had completed the correct throwing motion except for the fact that the ball was released behind the head. Is this a valid throw?

3. U16B runs up to take a throw-in. In the process of the run he gains an extra 10 yards. Should the referee require a re-throw or should the ball be turned over to the other team for the throw-in.

USSF answer (April 29, 2003):
1. 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). The amount of time is not specified, but the referee must use discretion and common sense here, as in all other elements of game management. In this case, the referee showed a distinct lack of common sense in failing to keep better track of time and not allowing the goal, but there is little the players can do about it — other than reporting the facts to the referee’s assignor and state referee administrator.

2. If the ball was not released according to the requirements of Law 15 — from behind and over his head — then the throw was not correctly taken and the throw-in is taken by a player of the opposing team.

3. Throw-in for the opposing team from the place where the ball originally left the field.

Your question:
Can a goalie dribble the ball into his penalty area and pick the ball up? The ball was last touched by an opposing player.

I was doing a young boy’s game where a goalie punted the ball straight up in the air and caught the ball. The ball was not touched by an opposing player and it did not touch the ground. Is there an infraction?

USSF answer (April 29, 2003):
Given the scenarios you posit, the answer is yes for both questions.

A caveat on the first question: This applies only if the ball was not played by a teammate. And a caveat on the second question: This might be considered trifling in younger age groups.

Your question:
During a corner kick, an opposing team player grabs the goalie and prevents him from reaching an air ball, and consequently a goal is scored. The referee misses the infraction but the linesman does see it…Can the linesman lift the flag and consult with the referee about the infraction? Can the scoring call be recalled?

Wishing for better officiating…

USSF answer (April 29, 2003):
“Linesmen” are now called assistant referees.

Law 6 indicates that one of the duties of the assistant referee is to signal when a violation of the Law occurs out of the view of the referee. USSF training of assistant referees emphasizes, however, that they should not signal at all for fouls or misconduct that clearly occur in the sight of the referee, that are doubtful or trifling, or for which the referee would likely have applied advantage. Such events can be brought to the attention of the referee at a stoppage of play.

As for the goal, if the game has not been restarted since the goal was scored, the goal may be nullified. If the game has been restarted, then the goal may not be nullified.

Wishing for more knowledgeable players, coaches, and spectators . . .

Your question:
A player in an offside position “gives himself up” (holds up his hands and makes no attempt to play the ball) as the ball rolls past him. A defender runs past the player chasing down the ball. He catches the ball a few yards past the offside player and turns upfield dribbling it.

The question: Can the player that gave himself up, now attempt to tackle the ball away from the defender? If not, when would he be allowed to “get back in the game”?

USSF answer (April 29, 2003):
: While it is true that a player who is in an offside position at the moment the ball is played by a teammate can become “onside” if an opponent intentionally plays or gains possession of the ball, that might not be true in this case. If that same player had clearly shown the referee that he was not interfering with play, but then became immediately involved in the play when the opposing player took possession, the referee should punish the involvement. Although the referee might consider that the original move to show non-involvement had a tactical aim or was in some way a feint, it is more likely that the player probably did not realize that he was infringing the Law. The referee must use common sense.

Your question:
Recently, a couple of members of our area referees association [in another national association] have been having quite a debate over the substitution procedure. The question is simply, “Should the referee allow the individual entering the field of play to assume his or her position on the field before play is restarted?”

Though the laws state that the substitution is completed when a substitute enters the field of play, it would seem that in the interest of “the good of the game”, the referee should hold the restart to allow the new player to assume his / her position.

Your comments would be greatly appreciated to provide some insight on this matter.

USSF answer (April 29, 2003):
Caveat: The U. S. Soccer Federation cannot presume to instruct referees from other national association on how to manage the game as played in their country. The following answer would apply to games played under the auspices of U. S. Soccer.

If the player coming out is a goalkeeper, the referee will normally allow a replacement goalkeeper to reach a reasonable playing position before restarting the game. For all other players, the intelligent referee — remembering that two of his ultimate goals are fairness and enjoyment for the players — will wait until the entering player is at least in the general area of his team, but it is not necessary to wait for the entering player to assume the exact position on the field occupied by the player he replaced.

Your question:
In none of the various Referee Code of Ethics, have I seen any reference to the safety of the players. Can this be correct?

The Coaches Code of Ethics makes this the number 1 item. It seems odd that your number 1 item is “Play to Win”, while the safety of the players does not require any mention. Could this be why many referees seem to be more concerned with out of bounds calls rather than the safety of the players?

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
There are not “various” referees codes of ethics, there is only one Referee Code of Ethics. You can find it in the Referee Administrative Handbook.. It deals with overall referee conduct, not with specifics of game management:

Code of Ethics for Referees
( 1 ) I will always maintain the utmost respect for the game of soccer.
( 2 ) I will conduct myself honorably at all times and maintain the dignity of my position.
( 3 ) I will always honor an assignment or any other contractual obligation.
( 4 ) I will attend training meetings and clinics so as to know the Laws of the Game, their proper interpretation and their application.
( 5 ) I will always strive to achieve maximum team work with my fellow officials.
( 6 ) I will be loyal to my fellow officials and never knowingly promote criticism of them.
( 7 ) I will be in good physical condition.
( 8 ) I will control the players effectively by being courteous and considerate without sacrificing fairness.
( 9 ) I will do my utmost to assist my fellow officials to better themselves and their work.
( 1 0 ) I will not make statements about any games except to clarify an interpretation of the Laws of the Game.
( 1 1 ) I will not discriminate against nor take undue advantage of any individual group on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
( 1 2 ) I consider it a privilege to be a part of the United States Soccer Federation and my actions will reflect credit upon that organization and its affiliates.

The referee’s concern with player safety is part of the Laws he or she must enforce. Law 5 instructs the referee on his or her powers and duties. Among them is the duty to ensure that player equipment meets the stringent requirements of Law 4 for player safety. Another duty involves dealing with injured players.

Coaches have no such instructions. Their only duty under the Laws is to behave responsibly.

Your question:
I was working this weekend and overheard some coaches commenting about the right diagonal vs. a left diagonal. The state has a new position on this. Where can I find this on the web site?

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
Picture the field as a drawing on the wall. The left diagonal is when the pattern the referee runs goes essentially from bottom right to top left. The right diagonal goes from bottom left to top right.

There is no USSF requirement that the referee must run one diagonal the first half and the other in the second half — although having the flexibility to run either diagonal is a good idea.. The USSF Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials states that the choice of diagonals and the degree of flexibility is at the referee’s discretion.

Most referees run the left diagonal almost exclusively and most assistant referees are familiar only with the left diagonal. The referee who changes diagonals because of field conditions or to better observe play in a certain area of the field must take care to determine that the assistant referees know how to do it before asking them to learn a new skill while on the job — to the possible detriment of the game that might be caused through confusion and lack of experience.

Your question:
At the time for the match to begin, there is considerable standing water along both touch lines extending into the field. As the referee, you still think the field is playable. May one coach refuse to play?

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
The coach may refuse to let his team play. It is not the referee’s place to argue the point. The referee simply notes this in the match report to the competition authority.

Your question:
I have a question regarding an earlier question dealing with player off- no sub in..

If for some reason the team elects to play short – sub is requested and granted. Player “A” leaves field with permission, coach indicates no replacement will play with 10. Am I correct that this is allowed?

Is the player who left still considered a player, not a sub? Does that mean he could re-enter, with permission, at some later time? Could different player enter, with permission, at later time?

What would be procedure for “A” to re-enter or for “B” to complete substitution – Any time, with permission, or only at stoppage?

While “A” is in the limbo situation, if he received a 2nd caution or direct dismissal does the team play short or can a sub be sent in.

As I read you answer I believe “A” would be considered a player, albeit off the field, until “B” enters the game, with permission. So a dismissal of “A” would be considered dismissal of player – not of sub- Team plays short.

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
Your belief is correct. As long as the player has left with the referee’s permission and has not been replaced by a substitute, he may return to the game as a player. And yes, a dismissal of “A” would be considered a dismissal of the player, not of a substitute, and the team would play short.

Your question:
I know that the answer to this question may be dependent on the Rules of Competition for the particular sanctioning organization, but…

Does the USSF have a policy for determining when a match has been “played” in the case of an abandoned match? Does it matter why the game was suspended? I can think of the following reasons why a game would be abandoned:
– Threatening weather
– Unsafe field conditions
– Violence
– Damaged equipment

How long does the match have to be underway before it is considered to have been “played”?

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
Your intuition is correct, the status of an abandoned game is determined by the rules of the competition or the competition authority itself. There is no set amount of time, but many rules of competition will call a game complete if a full half has been played.

In the absence of a competition authority rule on this, the Laws of the Game would apply — meaning that the game must be played in its entirety and, if terminated or abandoned prior to this time, the game must be replayed as though the earlier effort had not occurred (i. e., it is not resumed from the stopping point).

“Suspended” means that a match was stopped temporarily for any of the reasons you cite. After that the match is either resumed, abandoned, or terminated and the competition rules take over.

Your question:
On a throw-in, is the ball in play when it starts to cross the outside of the touch line or when it completely crosses the inside of the touch line? I have heard both. Is the ball considered in play whether the player taking the throw in has released it or not? Do you need to look for a hand ball in this case? When the ball crosses the touch line on the way out it must completely cross the outside of the line. I was told the ball needs to completely cross the inside of the touch line to be in play. On a goal kick, does the ball need to completely cross the outside of the penalty box line to be in play?

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
At a throw-in the ball is in play once it has crossed the outside of the touchline AND has been released by the thrower. (Even if the Law allowed it, which it does not, who would turn a simple matter of restarting the game into a federal offense by calling deliberate handling?)

Law 9 tells us that the ball is out of play when it has wholly crossed the touchline whether on the ground or in the air.

Law 16 tells us that the ball is in play when it is kicked directly beyond the penalty area. That means it must be completely beyond the line demarcating the penalty area.

Your question:
Most of us would agree that an attacking player is offside if the goalkeeper saves an attacking teammate’s shot on goal and the ball deflects to the attacker who was in an offside position at the time of the shot. The attacking player is in an offside position at the moment a teammate played the ball, and the attacking player became involved in play by gaining an advantage from being in that position.

Most of us would also agree that an attacking player is offside if a teammate passes the ball to the player in an offside position but the ball deflects off a defender who did not attempt to play the ball. Again, the attacking player is in an offside position at the moment a teammate played the ball, and the attacking player became involved in play by gaining an advantage from being in that position.

My question: Is an attacking player offside if the last defender (not the goal keeper) makes a great sliding save with his foot but kicks the ball directly to the attacker who was in an offside position at the moment the attacker’s teammate took the shot? Assume that the defender played the ball with his foot as well as a goalkeeper would have played it with his hands. He couldn’t gain control of it, but he played the ball deliberately; as luck would have it, the ball deflected directly to the opponent in an offside position.

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
The referee’s job here is to decide if the player, whether goalkeeper or other defender, controlled and established possession of the ball. If not, the ball was not “played” but simply deflected and therefore the offside must be given, regardless of what the defender used in making contact with the ball. The only difference between a goalkeeper and a teammate in this issue is that the ‘keeper can legally use his hands within his own penalty area. And now a question in return: Why would anyone not agree completely with a decision for offside in the first two situations?

Your question:
WHAT IF? …During a kick off, the player moves the ball forward, and, without breaking contact with the ball, rolls it backward to one of his teammates. Is an IFK awarded?  Was it KICKED?

USSF answer (April 28, 2003):
We know from Law 8 that the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward. Moving the ball forward without releasing it is not kicking. Because the ball was not put in play, the kick-off was incomplete. The kick-off must be retaken.

Your question:
How many of your own players can you have in the box when you kick a goal kick? And in this scenario, what is the correct placement of the ball. A defender passes the ball back to his keeper inside the penalty box, and the keeper picks up the ball 2 feet away from the goal line, outside to the right of the goalpost, is it a indirect kick at the spot, or does the ball gets moved.

USSF answer (April 25, 2003):
There is no limit to the number of players from the kicking team who may be in the penalty area — if that is what you mean by “box” — during a goal kick.

Your scenario for the second question is unclear. If you mean that this happens on a goal kick, then the kick is retaken, because the ball must leave the penalty area and enter the rest of the field before it is in play. If it does not do this, then the kick is retaken. If you mean that a player deliberately kicks the ball to his goalkeeper while the ball is in play and the goalkeeper touches it, then the ball is placed on the goal area line parallel to the goal line for the indirect free kick, at the spot nearest to where the goalkeeper touched the ball.

Your question:
Penalty Kick. No time left in game. Time is allowed for kick by referee. Ball is kicked toward goal and hits goalpost and rebounds back into play. Is PK terminated when the ball is next touched?

USSF answer (April 25, 2003):
In the case of a match extended for the taking of a penalty kick, if the ball hits the goalpost and remains within the field, it may still be in play and a goal may still be scored if the ball winds up in the net if touched by the goalkeeper or it enters through spin or a bad bounce. In this case, the ball may not be played by anyone but the goalkeeper and time expires as soon as the ball stops moving.

Your question:
Have any specific instructions regarding the adidas Predator Mania SG boots have been issued to guide referees? If FIFA regards them as safe and they have no sharp or jagged edges, why would a referee judge them unsafe? A lot of kids are buying and wearing the boots with magnesium studs. It’s going to become an issue that needs be addressed clearly and without room for confusion.…