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January 2005 Archive

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Upon reading one of your answers in the "Past Questions" section I am prompted to ask the following: Do the administrators of a (youth) tournament have the ability to change their competion rules to allow the referee to display disciplinary cards to non-players (especially coaches)?

I have become an advocate of displaying the cards when a coach is disciplined so as to demonstrate to all the others in attendance that the discipline has been applied. Federation rules allow this and we have found it to be effective in communicating the fact of the discipline to the other coaches (who usually know, already), the players and substitutes, the opposing side (coaches, players, subs) and - most importantly - the spectators.

So, if a USSF-sanctioned tournament has this leeway I would appreciate hearing about it. I would suggest to the administrators for whom I work as Assignor to consider implementing such a rule. I would word is something as follows: "Should the referee determine that disciplinary action is to be taken against a non-player, the referee may, at his/her discretion, elect to display the appropriately colored card if, in the opinion of the referee, such a display will serve the interest of the match in terms of man-management, spectator control, or any other beneficial aspect of the game."

OK - I guess it's a two-part questionŠ
If this modification is permitted, would you be in favor of or opposed to such a rule?

Answer (January 3, 2005):
Under the Laws of the Game, cards may be displayed only to players and named substitutes and players who have been replaced, and not to any non-players. Unfortunately, some competitions have seen fit to include the possibility of showing the card to non-players (coaches or assistants or managers, etc.).

Our personal opinion is that the practice of showing the card to non-players is non-productive and leads to confusion when referees work in other competitions. This emphasizes the necessity for officials to be fully aware of the rules of every competition in which they work-and to remember that they need not work for any competition whose rules are contrary to the Laws of the Game.

One wonders how the display of a colored card to a coach or spectator would be any more effective in managing that person's behavior than the other tricks in the referee's tool kit. We have inspected the cards closely-they have no magic in them beyond the referee's own skills and talents, which can be exercised very well without them. After all, the cards themselves are a fairly recent phenomenon and were intended primarily to be used in situations where players did not speak the same language as the referee.


As a new ref, I want to know who tosses the coin. Referees have explained to me that it is the visiting team, and other referees have said it is the home team. This isn't the type of advice that helps a newbie. Can you clarify?

Answer (December 29, 2004):
The only thing the Laws tell us is that a coin is tossed. Traditionally, the referee conducts the toss and does the actual toss of the coin. Again traditionally, the referee allows the visiting team to call the toss, but there is nothing written in stone (or any other substance) on this matter.

Given the silliness that can occur, even before a game, it is a brave (or foolish) referee who allows the players to even handle the coin.


The flagpost [corner type], commonly called the corner flag, are placed "at each corner" of the field. I believe and always understood that that these flagpost(s) are NOT on the field of play, but just touching the outer edge at the intersection of the touch line and the goal line.

Question: Are the corner flagposts of a soccer field on the field of play?

Answer (December 22, 2004):
Yes, and they are regarded as a part of the field of play. If the ball hits one of the corner posts and remains on the field, it is still in play.


On December 3, 2004 you gave this answer as to what "national tournaments" are: "These would be the National Championships of an organization, such as the finals for the US Youth Soccer Championships (formerly the Snickers Cup) or the USASA National Cup Finals. It also would include the final championships of the Super Y League and US Club Soccer. Such games are assigned at the national level, not locally."

1. This brings back a question I had when I was assigned to the Y League Finals. Many of the local refs dropped at the last minute because of rescheduling in their men's league. The assignors sent out an e-mail to all reminding everyone of the above priority policy. Only the U-17s played 90s. Does the priority apply to the younger ages?

2. In general, when are you released from an availability you gave a tournament/league? Ex: If they haven't told you they'll be using you within 72 hours of when the matches are and another assignor calls you can you take those games with no more obligation to the first assignor?

3. On a drop kick/punt by the keeper: After the keeper releases it from their hands, but before they kick it, a forward who was not previously preventing them from releasing the ball jumps in front of them and blocks it. Is there an offense?

Answer (December 21, 2004):
1. The policy says 90-minute matches, so that would not apply to the younger age groups, but then you would not need the same level of referee for the younger age groups so you should have more available. The assignment priority policy is to protect referees from being disciplined if they turn back a game to take one of the listed matches.

2. You may work for whomever you want as an independent contractor. If your availability changes before you have received an assignment from a particular assignor when you have told them you are available, you should immediately notify that assignor that you are no longer available on that day. Your plans could change in a number of ways after you have turned in availability, so you are always free to say that you cannot accept an assignment; however, common courtesy would dictate that if you accept an assignment for a free weekend, then you notify any other assignors that you are no longer available for those dates.

3. No, provided that the ball has hit the ground and the opponent plays the ball and not the goalkeeper.

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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