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November 2005 Archive (III of III)


My State association has just approved unlimited substitutions for next year. I have seen a post on your site for a similar question, but some scenarios were not discussed. I am sure the coaches will think of many ways to delay the game with these substitutions.

While Advice to Ref explains the substitution ins and outs, I cannot find any information on whether a player MUST come on, after being beckoned by the ref or some examples that IMO end up being time wasting. (My guess is not)
Example 1:
Player A is ready at the centerline.
Coach calls for substitution. Ref acknowledges substitution request. While Player B is in the process of coming off, coach tells ref that s/he does not want to sub anymore. IMO = Time wasting, but player B can either stay on or go off (had permission to leave)

Example 2: Player B has come off, referee beckons player A on, but coach decides not to send player A.
a) wants a different player (My call would be to continue the game with or without player B or A, not waiting for the new player and to tell the coach to have that "new" player ready for subbing at the next opportunity.
b) doesn't want to sub anymore

Any advice on what is best and most practical (assuming proper subbing procedures)?

Answer (November 19, 2005):
The referee can and may not ignore requests for substitutions for any reason other than to ensure that the substitution conforms to the Law. Even if it seems that the purpose is to waste time, the referee cannot deny the request, but should exercise the power granted in Law 7 to add time lost through 'any other cause.'" And, as Law 7 tells us: "The allowance for time lost is at the discretion of the referee." In other words, the amount of time added is up to the referee.

If the substitute has reported correctly to the match official (fourth official or the assistant referee on that side of the field) before the stoppage, the referee, upon recognizing that fact, should allow the player to leave the field and the new player (substitute) to enter the field. If the immediacy of the restart (which is the right of the team with the restart) naturally draws the referee's attention away from any pending substitution requests, then the substitution will have to wait. A substitution, if properly requested, is a right not to be lightly denied. There are only two reasons to do it: Either the substitute is not ready or the team with the restart wants to restart immediately.

We need to remember that technically it is the player who requests the substitution, not the coach or any other team official. If the new player (at the direction of the coach or on his/her own) decides not to enter the game, then simply restart the game without the player who has left the field. The team will have to play down a player until the new player decides to complete the substitution process--but that new player will have to get the permission of the referee to enter. This will soon put a stop to any more foolishness by the coach. The failure of the substitute to enter the game when the referee has given permission could be regarded as delaying the restart of play, a cautionable offense.

There is of course another issue--namely, the ability of the player on the field to refuse to exit. This also is the player's right, no matter what the coach wants and no matter how much the substitute may want to enter. Again, becoming aware of this situation, the referee can simply restart play leaving the player on the field and the coach and substitute fuming on the sideline. Life is tough.



During the second half of a game referee issues red card to coach. Coach continues to dissent. Assistant coach dissents/foul language-issued red card. No other coach on bench. What is the outcome of the game? Why? Where is this in rule book?

Answer (November 16, 2005):
The referee has no authority under the Laws of the Game to show a card to any coach, assistant coach, or other team official, but this may be allowed by various rules of competition. If cards for coaches are permitted (or even required) by the rules of competition, then they must administered. If the referee chooses to accept a game in which the Laws are flouted or distorted by the competition. then the referee must enforce those rules of competition religiously.

Coaches receive little or no recognition under the Laws of the Game. They are mentioned twice, once in IBD 2 to Law 3 and under Powers and Duties of the Referee in Law 5. In both places the Laws make the point that the coach must BEHAVE RESPONSIBLY and thus may not shout, curse, interfere, or otherwise make a nuisance of him- or herself. The coach's presence, or the presence of any other team official, is generally irrelevant to the game--under the Laws of the Game, but it may have some importance under the rules of youth competitions. If the coach or other team official is removed, known in the Law as "expelled," that person must leave the field and its environs. If it is a youth game and the coach and all other team officials have been expelled, then the referee should consider abandoning the game. A full report must be filed with the competition authority. The referee has no authority to determine who has won or lost the game, whether by forfeit or any other process; that is the responsibility of the competition authority. The referee must file a report on all events associated with the abandonment.



We are travelling from [from the northern part of our state to a] tournament next week [in the southern part of the state. I was just reading their rules, and one of their rules states that wire rimmed glasses are prohibited. They cite the [local] Referee Association's page, which does in fact include that prohibition.

A quick google search identified Minnisota as the only other area of the country that appeared to be following this particular rule.

Given that glasses are used to correct a medical condition (well, maybe not all sunglasses) and are quite expensive, most children I know have only one pair with a current prescription (my own girls have to get their prescription changed about once every 8 months, and our insurance only covers once ever 24), this rule seems to be way over the top.

Most kids who play with them up here in northern Virginia have no problems with them, the rule sounds to me like there might have been one incident that led to its creation.

Once upon a time, I suspect that a referee told a player to remove a medic alert bracelet, and that caused a stink and the result was that medical/religious items can be taped.

Having worn glasses for over 40 years, and having played baseball, football, soccer, basketball and softball with them I can speak from experience that they do not pose any more of a hazard than plastic framed glasses..

Furthermore, I think it is likely that if it came to a head, the Americans with Disability Act Reasonable Accomodation provisions would fall on the side of the player with the wire rimmed glasses as they correct that medical condition.

Perhaps the national association could look into it and consider putting out a memorandum on the issue. An eyeglass strap seems a reasonable solution, and a player with bad eyesight playing without glasses could be even more a hazard without glasses than the glasses themselves.

Answer (November 16, 2005):
A referee association cannot make rules of competition. We believe this is a rule established by the state association. While states cannot make the rules less restrictive than the Laws of the Game, they can make them more restrictive--in this case with their eye on the safety of all players. Whether you agree with it or not, it is a rule in the competition in which you will be refereeing, so you must enforce it or not accept the games.

As you are also from the same state and are not familiar with this rule from your coaching and refereeing in [your area], we would suggest that it may be a rule of either the competition or simply a regional rule in [the southern part of the state].



U-12 game, an attacker, contesting for the ball right at the mouth of the goal box, kicks the keeper hard enough in the thigh to stop play. no foul was called, even though the center was right there. less than five minutes later, the same attacker directs a hard tackle at the same 'keeper, (no contact, but it rattled the keeper enough to drop the ball which he had just collected. again, no call.

I know that an attacker has a right to challenge for the ball, providing he does not impede or foul him/her, but i have had it stressed throughout my training that we (refs) must protect the keeper and that the keepers know this. so.... WHERE do we draw the line?

at the very least, i would have verbally warned the attacker for the first action, and carded him for the second.

agree/ disagree?

Answer (November 15, 2005):
Goalkeepers are entitled to no more protection than any other players--regardless of what their teammates and they (and your trainers) might think. The intelligent referee will ensure that any fouls on the goalkeeper are punished just as quickly and thoroughly as those against other players. This same intelligent referee will also consider the age and experience of the players in making that decision.

When the players (and 'keeper) have an expectation of "protection," no matter how unjustified from the point of view of the Law, it is wise to recall that the players will act based on THEIR expectation. In short, even when the challenge is fair, we may need to take at least some action toward the opponent in order to defuse the situation and reduce the likelihood of retaliation. Of course, this action may be nothing more than an increased presence or a nonspecific warning.

It is also a fact that 'keepers--because of the single right they have that is not shared by any other players of handling the ball inside their penalty area--tend to put themselves into more dangerous situations than would be the case for any of their teammates. Either in diving for a ball on the ground or leaping in the air for a ball high up, the goalkeeper is more easily subject to more serious injuries as a result of contact which, if it involved a field player, would not be a foul.

In the scenario you present, the player who kicked the goalkeeper in the thigh should have been called for kicking and possibly--depending on the game situation and how the referee perceived the action--cautioned for unsporting behavior or sent off for serious foul play. There is little remedy for the "hard tackle" that made no contact. That is part of how the game should be played, hard but fair. The Law does not provide protection for iron hands and butterfingers.



I've been kinda curious about this. The supplementary materail found in the USSF publication of the Laws of the Game and the Advice to Referees both seem to say that water can *only* be given/taken/etc. on the touchline. Hence, this would mean that water could not be kept on the goal line. However, I have been told that in professional matches, you can see the goalkeepers for both sides are allowed, and do, have water, a towel, and other accessory equipment behind the goal line. I've never noticed this.

What is exactly the rule regarding water and where players can have it?

Answer (November 15, 2005):
There is nothing in the Laws of the Game regarding water and where players can have it. However, under the requirements of Law 4, all equipment used by players must be safe, and it is not considered safe to have water containers on the field of play. (Too many incidents have come about with thrown bottles or bottles used as weapons.)

The USSF publication "Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players" for 2005 (and previous years) states:
23. Liquid refreshments during the match
Players shall be entitled to take liquid refreshments during a stoppage in the match but only on the touchline. Players may not leave the field during play to take liquids. It is forbidden to throw plastic water bags or any other water containers onto the field.

Goalkeepers are slightly different creatures than other players and are traditionally allowed some privileges that the other players are not, such as wearing a cap to keep the sun or rain out of their eyes. Because it is more difficult for a goalkeeper to run to the touch line for a drink of water or for a towel to wipe off sweat, another of those privileges is to have a bottle of water and a towel either inside their goal or just over the goal line next to the goal. This equipment may not be kept on the field of play.



In a recent men premier league attacker has the ball and is dribbling towards the goal chased by a defender shoulder to shoulder. At the 20 yard from the goal the defender attempt to trip the attacker who being over 6' tall shook off the attempt and continue to dribble into the penalty area but was not able to regain his footing and fell. As I gave an advantage at the 20 yard I called back the advantage for a free kick to the attacking team who scored. Should I also red carded the defender for attempting to trip the player clearly heading towards the goal although I gave an advantage?

Answer (November 15, 2005):
While it is certainly the referee's prerogative to invoke the advantage clause and then call the play back to the spot of the original foul if the advantage does not develop, it is very rare in cases of denying a goal or a goalscoring opportunity, which should be dealt with immediately.

We cannot give you a more complete answer, as your scenario does not tell us where any other defenders were.



I read somewhere that the soccer referee's whistle was introduced in 1878. Prior to this a referee had to rely on waving a handkerchief. Is this true?

Answer (November 15, 2005):
Yes, this is true. We would add that the referee was not mentioned in the laws until 1880.



If an ineligible player steps on the field in the second half of a match, causes a fight in which both players are given red cards- the game has already been declared a forfeit but does the red card stand by the other player who was not ineligible?

Answer (November 14, 2005):
The referee cannot decide the result of any game, so it is interesting to hear that it has already been declared a forfeit--only the competition authority has the power to do that. If the ineligible player was sent off and shown the red card, the referee must include all details in the match report. The same holds true for the player who was participating in accordance with the rules. Only the competition has the authority to decide what happens to players (or otherwise) who have been sent off and shown the red card.


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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