Dear Sir(s), I was an AR in a recent game that was being assessed by a state-level assessor. While in proper position aligned with the second to last defender and monitoring for any offside infraction, the offense chipped the ball over the top of the defensive line that was playing in a flat-4 formation approximately 25 yards from goal. At the time the ball was played by the offensive player, his teammate was in an offside position and started to move towards the location where the chipped ball dropped in an effort to play the ball. There was also a second offensive player who was not in an offside position at the moment the ball was played who ran through in an effort to make a play on the ball. Normally such a situation would be a “wait and see” situation to determine offside. As the location where the ball dropped indicated (top of the penalty area) and taking into account the relative speed and distance between the defensive goalkeeper and the offensive player in the offside position, there appeared to be an imminent possibility of a collision between the goalkeeper who was charging out and the offensive player who was in the offside position. As instructed by the center referee in the pre-game, I raised my flag as a precautionary measure due to the pending collision with the goalkeeper before active involvement could be fully determined. The goalkeeper ultimately gained possession of the ball with his hands a split second before the player in the offside position was able to arrive at the ball and the player in the offside position did not become actively involved. As the AR, I stood at attention with the flag raised until the goalkeeper had obtained clear possession of the ball. The center referee did not see the offside flag and never acknowledged the situation. After the keeper obtained clear possession, I dropped the flag and moved on with the game assuming proper positioning for the ongoing play.
This seems like it was the right course of action based on the pre-game instructions and as described in the Guide to Procedures:
“If the referee misses the flag, [AR] stays at attention with the flag raised until the defense gains clear possession or until a goal kick or throw-in is awarded to the defense.” The problem I have is that in post-game discussion with the assessor, he indicated this procedure to be incorrect. This was a fairly complicated situation with many things happening at the same time, but he indicated that there can not be an “advantage” call on an offside infraction (which based on my understanding of the LOTG is a correct statement) and that as the AR in this situation, I should have stood at attention with the flag raised until acknowledged in one form or another (calling the offside infraction or waiving the flag down) by the center referee. Note, the assessor did not dispute the judgment of the initial flag raising to indicate the offside infraction.
Obviously this problem could have been mitigated if the center referee had looked over and made eye contact. Whereas I agree with the assessor’s general statement regarding advantage and offside, I do not believe this was a case of an AR inappropriately making an “advantage” call which is not within the scope of his authority, but rather simply following the instructions laid out by USSF for a missed flag.
Please advise on the appropriate mechanics for this scenario.
The second question that arises from this situation is in the eyes of USSF, does the pending goalkeeper collision decision trump the “wait and see” philosophy to determine active involvement when both determinations are required for the same play? The pending collision instruction seems to be a fairly common instruction given in many pre-games, but I can not actually find any reference to this in an official publication.
Thank you for your anticipated clarifications.
USSF answer (November 6, 2008):
If you have followed both the instructions of the referee — you don’t tell us what they were, but the fact that you followed them counts — and the guidance given in the Guide to Procedures, you have done all that any assistant referee should do in this situation. We are uncomfortable about the feedback given to you by the state assessor.