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GAME LEVELS AND UPGRADE REQUIREMENTS FOR GRADE 9 REFEREES
Our SRA has promulgated a policy that grade 9s have to have a minimum of 25 centers of recreational games to be eligible for the bridge class to grade 8. This seems impractical for those clubs who do not have a house/recreational program and exclusively use their grade 9s as A/Rs for competitive travel games. For example, a younger referee whom I know has about 50 ARs of competitive games including the state tournament, but is technically ineligible for the bridge class because our club does not have a recreational program.
It seems to me that if a grade 9 does some minimum number of A/Rs of competitive travel games, that they too should be eligible for the bridge course.
Answer (January 30, 2004):
Grade 9 officials may do centers or lines on U-14 RECREATIONAL games. They may also act as assistant referees on U-14 COMPETITIVE games, but may not be the referee on U-14 competitive games.
U. S. Soccer has no restrictions on how long a person must be a grade 9 before taking the bridge course -- neither in time in grade nor in game count.
I have encountered or seen the following situation several times: An attacker A1 passes the ball towards, but not directly to, his teammate A2 who is in an offside position but also in a position to score or continue the attack with his teammates. From the ref's viewpoint it is most likely but not certain that the ball can be retrieved by the goalie before A2 can play the ball. Should the ref : (1) call offside immediately and not risk a possible score or continued advantageous play by the offense, or (2) wait to see how the play develops. Should the ref base his decision on which event would likely be more advantageous to the defense - an IFK for offside or allowing the play to continue thereby giving the goalie his options for a counterattack? Also if the ref decides to delay his decision and A2 scores or sets his team up for a score, how much time does he have to then call offside? In this case the AR may or may not have signalled for offside.
Answer (January 30, 2004):
We cannot make this decision for the referee, who must balance everything so far observed in the game to reach the correct decision.
First things first: The job of the referee on offside is NOT to make judgments about "what is more advantageous" to a team. Advantage is applied to infringements of Law 12, not Law 11. Infringements of Law 11 either occur or they do not. An infringement of Law 11 MAY be considered trifling and not called for this reason if the ball leaves the field and the restart is the functional equivalent to an indirect free kick (e. g., a goal kick for the defenders).
Assistant referees are taught not to flag for offside position, but to wait until it is clear that there is an offside offense. In other words, as a pure issue of joint decision making by referees and ARs, the referee should take an AR's signal for offside as a clear indication of offside position and a probable indication of an offside violation (i.e., involvement in active play). It remains the job of the referee to confirm the latter based on his sometimes better view. (This should be reinforced in the pregame discussion among the officials. If the referee does not bring it up, then the AR should ask.) If the AR has flagged for the offense, the referee could wait and see what happens, but this might lead to problems later. If the player who was in the offside position at the moment his teammate played the ball gets to the ball first, the referee will blow the whistle immediately.
Normally, the best option for the referee is to allow the players to play as much as possible without interference, but to "interfere" when there may be a problem brewing. Allowing a goal to be scored by an offside player is certainly asking for trouble from both teams, even if it is immediately corrected.
I have a friend who is an excellent coach and also a skilled player. I cannot get him to believe me as to the following question concerning offside. I would appreciate a response from you that I can print out and show him. He is of the belief that if every opponent except the keeper crosses the halfway line his players are now free to cross into the attacking half and there can be no offside because the opponents have given up their right to have his players put into a position of gaining an advantage and they are not in offside position even though,as I explained to him,they are nearer to the opponents goal then both the ball and the next to last defender. Here's the question.
The defending opponents are playing an offside trap. All 10 of the outfield players cross the halfway line (i.e. into their opponent's half of the field). A coach claims that once all the outfield opponents cross the halfway line, his players cannot be sanctioned for offside and are now free to cross into the opponent's half of the field and not be in offside position even though they are still nearer the opponent's goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent,which is, by definition, offside position. I have said that if they are in that position,and become actively involved in play, they should be sanctioned for offside. He claims that his players cannot gain an advantage once all the outfield players cross the halfway line. I have also said that gaining an advantage has nothing to do with this scenario as it only pertains to balls being deflected from the crossbar,goalposts,or keepers and if one of his players plays the ball to one of these players in the attacking half of the field,they would be interfering with play, and sanctioned for offside. Would greatly appreciate an official response as I don't want him to be teaching his players wrongly.
Answer (January 25, 2004):
Law 11 - Offside - specifically states: "A player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent." The Law excuses any and all members of the defending team -- including the last and second-last players -- from being in their own half of the field of play. They may cross into the opposing team's half without changing or violating any of the requirements of Law 11. The Law also allows any member of the opposing team to position himself anywhere on the field of play -- at the risk of being in an offside position if he is in the defending team's half and nearer to the defending team's goal line than both the ball and the last two players of the defending team, no matter where they may be on the field of play.
A player of the attacking team who is in the opposing team's half of the field of play and both ahead of the ball and nearer to the opposing team's goal line than the second-last opposing player is in an offside position -- no matter where on the field the second-last player may be. The player in the offside position is penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by interfering with play or interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage by being in that position. In the situation your friend puts forth, the player in the offside position would be considered to have gained an advantage from his offside position and would be penalized for offside.
NOTA BENE: If this player was not found to be offside at the moment of the pass, he could be determined to be so later, if he remains in an offside position and becomes involved in play later.
SHOULD AR COVER GOALKEEPER DISTRIBUTION OR OFFSIDE?
[NOTE: This question has been greatly abridged.]
I need some help on this Q & A from the "When the Assistant Referee is Vulnerable" training module. On reviewing this for the umpteenth time I see this in a number of ways.
Offside Responsibility vs. GK distribution
(GK holding ball while crossing 18 yd Line)
When AR covers goalkeeper distribution, referee should assume offside responsibility until AR moves to position with 2nd last defender
[We see the following areas as worthy of consideration:]
First, how good are the field lines? Are they so bad that the AR has to be virtually in line with the 18 to be able to judge or can he see well enough from a distance to be able to judge? [snipped]
Second, what level of competition is the match? At higher levels, the players will retreat farther to await the gk's punt/throw. The farther they retreat, the farther out of position the AR will possibly be to judge offside. Also, with respect to the level of competition, how important is it to "catch" the gk coming out of the area? [snipped] The question of the referee's fitness, in this case, may come into play. Can he get there in time on a quick counter? If not, the AR will have to be able to get there to judge.
Finally, the AR's most important responsibility remains the offside/no offside decision. I think the crew that emphasizes the importance of the gk in/out of the area during his distribution over the AR's primary responsibility of offsides is taking a risk. If the gk DOES leave his area and the players, fans, etc. see it, it will not cause as much turmoil nor possible game control problems as a missed or incorrect offside decision. Yes
Obviously, both plays have to be seen and that needs to be stressed; however, if one must be overlooked more than the other, gk in/out is the less serious of the two possible incidents.
Are we thinking too much about this?
Answer (January 19, 2004):
The USSF "Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials" tells us essentially the same thing as the "When the AR is Vulnerable" training module:
B. GOALKEEPER POSSESSION / PUNT
· At the position to observe where the ball is anticipated to drop.
· Verifies the goalkeeper does not handle the ball outside of the penalty area.
· Follows the ball up field to cover offside (may begin moving earlier if obvious that the goalkeeper is not in a position to handle the ball outside the penalty area).
END OF QUOTE
There is no single optimal answer to all the variations possible in this situation. The referee and assistant referee must learn to adjust to varying circumstances, no matter what the level of play or the skill of the players.
Yes, you are thinking too much about the problem, rather than simply getting down to the business of managing play.
THE GOAL AREA
Where does it state in the Laws of the Game or any other official materials what the purpose of the goal area is (other than the place from which goal kicks are taken)? Also, is there any reference to special protection for goal keepers in the goal area?
Answer (January 19, 2004):
The goal area has changed shape, size, and role several times during its history. Nowadays its primary roles are to provide a place for the goal kick to be taken and to act as a buffer zone for dropped balls and for opposing indirect free kicks within six yards of the goal. See Law 8 (Special Circumstances) and Law 13 (Free Kick Inside the Penalty Area). That is, of course, in addition, to the information in Law 1 (The Field of Play) and Law 16 (The Goal Kick).
No, there has been no specific "special protection" for the goalkeeper within the goal area since the laws were rewritten in 1997. Now the goalkeeper has no greater protection than any other player within the goal area. (See Law 12.)
Situation: PK. Normal mechanics. Nothing unusual until someone other than the identified kicker takes the kick. Ball is saved by the goalie. At a local clinic, answers from the participants ran the gamut. Caution the kicker, caution the kicker and the identified kicker. One said blow the whistle to issue the caution(s) when the goalkeeper held the ball. Ay yi yi!!!, we had it all! I finally got them roped in a bit, but the room ended up being split between 1) caution and retake the kick, and 2) allow advantage and keep play going (possibly cautioning erroneous kicker later)
Do you give the other team another bite at the apple?
Answer (January 18, 2004):
The answer to your question will be found in the IFAB/FIFA Q&A, under Law 14, Q&A 12:
12. When a penalty kick is being taken and after the referee has given the necessary signal, a team mate of the player identified to take the kick suddenly rushes forward and takes it instead. What action does the referee take?
a. If the ball leaves the field of play?
b. If the ball is pushed out by the goalkeeper?
c. If the ball is deflected by the goalkeeper, rebounds into play and the player who took the kick scores a goal?
In all three cases the referee orders the penalty kick to be retaken, since the correct procedures for taking a penalty kick have not been followed. The referee may caution the team mate of the identified kicker for unsporting behavior.
END OF QUOTE
SIGNALLING "READINESS TO START"
I received an assessment as an AR as part of a Maintenance assessment for another referee. Just to make sure I did well, I reviewed the AR instructions in the guide to procedures (GTP). On the 5th page, paragraph 1f, one minutes prior to start of play, I am instructed to unfurl my flag, hold it straight down in view of the referee to signal readiness to start. In the next paragraph 1g, the GTP identifies the referee's responsibility to clear the field. The assessor comments said that I was incorrect to unfurl my flag while the coach for one of the teams was still on the field. As I review the GTP, I did not see any requirement for me to verify that my end of the field was clear of non-players prior to unfurling my flag. Who was right, me or the assessor? If the assessor is right, then the GTP is misleading in that nowhere in the GTP am I given the requirement to verify that my end is ready to start prior to unfurling the flag. The GTP could say, "Assistant referees unfurl flags after verifying that their end of the field is ready for play. Flags are held straight down in view of the referee to signal readiness to start."
I just completed my requirements to upgrade to 7 and will start upgrading to 6. It is clear to me that if I want to pass the assessments necessary to go from 7 to 6, I need to get this kind of signaling correct.
Finally, I really appreciate the assessor's other comments and have incorporated them into my performance of AR duties. Please do not take this as criticism of his time, efforts or comments. As of today, I am implementing all his recommendations. My only concern would be to get an assessor who has a different intrepretation of 1f, and would not approve my upgrade to 6 based on a "retention in grade" AR assessment because of this.
Answer (January 18, 2004):
"Readiness to start" includes ensuring that the proper number of players is on the field, that there is a properly identified goalkeeper, that the goal and goal net (if there is a net) are properly anchored, and that there are no extraneous persons (or other "outside agents") on the assistant referee's end of the field.
While we can understand the possible confusion between 1.f and 1.g, 1.f is clearly the more specific duty and is consistent with USSF's intention that the referee need only make eye contact with each AR to receive assurance that each end of the field is ready in accordance with the Law. The possible confusion will be taken into account as we move to the next revision of the Guide to Procedures.
Last year, we went to an out-of-state tournament and I noticed something that I had never seen before. Players for the opposing team were constantly "tapping" the backs of some of our players. I am sure it was simply a tactic to distract our players.
1. Is this a legal tactic?
2. What can a player do in response to this type of behavior/action or must they simply endure this constant distraction?
Answer (January 16, 2004):
While no one has ever said that soccer is a non-contact sport, there are limits to what is and should be allowed.
No, a player may not use his hand or forearm to charge an opponent -- or even as a brace. These acts would be considered either pushing or holding and should be punished accordingly. They are the same as the ever-popular hand check, which is also illegal. The "tapping" you describe is a coached action, used because referees have shown they do not have the courage to call foul play. It is just one of many acts that are not properly punished.
The referee should stop play for pushing (or, depending on the circumstances, possibly holding) and restart with a direct free kick for the opponents from the place where the infringement occurred.
U.S. Soccer thanks Jim Allen (National Instructor Staff/National Assessor), assisted by Dan Heldman (National Instructor Staff), for their assistance in providing this service.
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