In the July 2008 edition of the Guide to Procedures, page 18 includes (under the heading “Throw in – Assistant Referee’s End Of Touch Line”) the following guidance for the referee:
o Points in direction of throw-in only if assistant referee signal needs to be corrected due to unseen contact with the ball
I was under the impression that Law 5, in stating that the referee “indicates the restart of the match after it has been stopped,” requires that the referee signal EVERY restart of play. While only seeing one signal (from the AR) is greatly preferred to seeing conflicting signals from the AR and referee, it has still been my habit to echo throw-in signals by the AR when it is “his/her call”, as well as that my arm often seems to be more in the players’ field of view than the AR’s flag. I have also found it a very useful dictum, when instructing new referees, that they are required to signal every restart.
Am I missing something here?
USSF answer (March 24, 2009):
The Guide to Procedures, in various locations, calls upon the referee to signal only “when necessary” because often the signal by the assistant referee and its acceptance by the referee are sufficient. When it is necessary, for example, to confirm an AR signal that is being disputed by the players or to change an AR signal due to the referee having additional critical information, the referee may need to signal as well. It is also important to remember that the requirement in Law 5 that the referee “indicates the restart” clearly supports the proposition that the throw-in can be taken — unless the referee has a further reason to delay the restart, in which case the restart is ceremonial and requires a whistle.
Furthermore, the soccer community, both internationally and here in the US, has increasingly emphasized the role of the assistant referee as a fully functioning member of the officiating team. Just to make it doubly clear: This means that when the AR has signaled in accordance with the guidelines discussed in the pregame and the referee has no reason to do anything other than what the AR advises, no further action is needed by the referee (unless the restart must be held up for a substitution, card, injury, etc., in which case the referee must whistle to restart play).