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Ask a Referee Update: Aug. 30, 2010


I know that the rules state that the throw-in has to take place within one yard/meter from where the ball exited the field of play. I am looking for some clarification on this rule. Does this mean that the ball has to "re-enter" the field of play from within 1 yard/meter of where it exited, or does it mean that the player throwing the ball has to be within 1 yard/meter for where it exited? I was recently playing in a game where I threw the ball back in, but was standing about 2-3 meters behind the touchline (but was directly behind where the ball exited the field of play). The referee blew down the throw-in stating that I had to be within a yard of where it exited.

What is the correct ruling?

Answer (August 30, 2010):
The player should be within one meter/yard of the place the ball left the field. However, we need to remember that this is usually a very simple play, restarting when the ball has left the field. The referee should indicate to the player approximately where the ball should enter the field. The player should try not to cheat by 3 or more yards, as we often see in professional games.


A goal was scored in which one of the offense players committed a foul that deserves a red card. The referee approved the goal and sent off the player for what he did during the attack the resulted on a goal.

If I may ask, what would be the rule/law on this?

Here is a 1:30 min video of the incidence.

Thanks for helping.

Answer (August 30, 2010):
If, in the opinion of the referee, the goal was scored before the violent conduct took place, then the goal counts. We hesitate to say yes or no in this case, as the action was so quick and even the referee seems to have had doubts as to which way the call should go.


In the send off offenses - Spitting is listed separately as it's own offense. Is it appropriate for it to be written up as Spitting or should it be written up as Fighting.

Also - If a Red Card is being issued for spitting and subsequent to that 2 other players followed it up with pushing would these players then be subject to Red Cards as well for the continuation of a Fight.

Answer (August 24, 2010):
When in doubt, follow the rules: A player may be sent off for only seven reasons (see Law 12), none of which is "fighting." If a player is sent off for spitting at an opponent or any other person, that is the reason given in the match report.

Any illegal action that follows a sending-off offense is punished on its own "merits." If the pushing is reckless, the player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior. If the pushing involves the use of excessive force, the player is sent off and shown the red card for violent conduct. There is no misconduct named "continuation of a fight."


I thought I saw a memo sometime last year on resending requirement for player's uniforms sleeves. Is players uniforms must have sleeves?

Answer (August 23, 2010):
The Laws of the Game require that a player's jersey have sleeves. No memorandum or position paper on this matter has been issued since 2003. Also note that the Laws of the Game overrule any papers we may publish.


I am an assignor for club soccer in our area and have been officiating for 4 years after 12 as a coach and playing many years ago. I am always trying to improve myself as a referee. My question concerns application of the advantage clause. Question - One of the referees I assign is quite good and has been a referee for many years.

He takes a bit of free time to help with more inexperienced referees, however, I am a bit concerned about his application of advantage. It seems to me he waits quite long at times to determine if advantage has truly occurred. An actual situation occurred in a high level match I observed him working as follows: Player A1 is dribbling the ball and from approximately 25 yards away from team B's goal takes a shot toward B's goal. Defender B1 outside his own penalty area handles the ball and the ball immediately rebounds to same player A1 directly almost at spot of original shot.

As player A1 dribbles forward, referee correctly signals and calls advantage. Player A1 then dribbles to his left, feints and goes around defender B1. Player A1 passes to player A2 who attempts a shot which rebounds off of crossbar to defender B1 who is now just inside the penalty area. Defender B1 controls turns and kicks the ball up-field.

Referee stops play and calls original handling the ball foul on B1 which was the source of the advantage. While I cannot be sure of the actual elapsed time, it seems to me team A received their advantage, had opportunity to play to another team A player who took a chance at a reasonable scoring opportunity. My personal feeling is the handling foul should have been "waived" as team A was able to get quite a bit of action as well as a scoring opportunity out of the advantage. I almost felt like the referee was giving team A two chances at scoring a goal. This is not the first time I've seen him call back the advantage with such a large amount of time elapsed from the original foul. Am I wrong here? I cannot discuss this with the referee in question as he does not like to be challenged on his decisions.

Answer (August 23, 2010):
The USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" tells us in Advice 5.6: "The referee may return to and penalize the original foul if the advantage situation does not develop as anticipated after a short while (2-3 seconds). Referees should note that the "advantage" is not defined solely in terms of scoring a goal." The situation you describe obviously went on for more than the 2-3 seconds outlined in the Law. If that was all that was involved, the referee should not have called play back in this situation. However, looked at a bit differently, one could also argue that the referee had the opportunity to decide that the advantage did not apply if, at the time the ball rebounds from the handling (although, if it "rebounds," was it really a handling offense because rebounds would not normally meet the requirement of Law 12 that the ball was deliberately propelled) to the original attacker, the number and skills of the defenders now arrayed against further play by the attacking team was more advantageous for the defense than it would have been without the handling "foul." In short, depending on the circumstances (and the application of the "Four Ps"), either the foul (if it truly was a foul) should have been called back about the time the ball reached the original attacker OR it should have not been called back at all if the referee has allowed play to continue for so long.


I am having trouble reconciling a seemingly contradictory interpretation of the laws of the game. Law 8 states that on a kick off, the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward.

Therefore, if the ball is kicked backward, the ball has not been put into play, and therefore the kick is retaken. Law 14 contains the same verbiage, "the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward." Law 14 also states that if the kicker infringes on the laws of the game and the ball does not enter the goal, then award an indirect free kick for the opposing team. Obviously, if the ball is kicked backwards, it would not enter the goal. I noticed in "Advice to Referees" (2009/2010) version, section 14.12, it states that kicking the ball backward would result in an indirect free kick for the defending team at the penalty mark. If the wording, "The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward" were removed from the law, then this seeming contradiction would appear to go away. Any insight would be appreciated.

Answer (August 10, 2010):
You would seem to be arguing apples and applesauce. We see no dichotomy or contradiction here, as the kick-off and the penalty kick are two separate and discrete types of restarting the game.

Law 8:
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward
In the event of any other infringement of the kick-off procedure:
* the kick-off is retaken

Law 14:
* After the players have taken positions in accordance with this Law, the referee signals for the penalty kick to be taken
* The player taking the penalty kick must kick the ball forward
* He must not play the ball again until it has touched another player
* The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward
the player taking the penalty kick infringes the Laws of the Game:
* the referee allows the kick to be taken
* if the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken
* if the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and the match is restarted with an indirect free kick to the defending team, from the place where the infringement occurred

Advice 14.12 (2010/2011 edition): 14.12 KICKER BACK HEELS THE BALL
If, after the referee has whistled for the penalty kick to be taken, the identified kicker back heels or kicks the ball backwards to a teammate who kicks it into the goal, the International Board has determined that this particular violation of Law 14 is to be regarded as failure to follow the procedures outlined in Law 14. In this situation (whether the ball is subsequently kicked into the goal or not), the restart is an indirect free kick for the opponents at the penalty mark.

In other words, the IFAB has declared that, kicking the ball backward shall be considered a violation of Law 14 and treated as simply one among all other violations of Law 14. In short, logic in this case cannot provide the correct answer, only a rote knowledge of the Laws of the Game as propounded and explained by the International Board.


The prof in a referees' clinic explained that if all the fullbacks on a team move into the offensive half of the field, then the opponents are freed of any offside restrictions at all. I'm dubious; I don't see how this follows from Law XI. Can you explain it to me please, or perhaps the prof is mistaken? Thanks!

Answer (August 8, 2010):
You are pulling our legs, right? It makes absolutely no difference where the players on the defending team are, the player in the opposing half of the field must still be no nearer to the opposing goal line than the ball to avoid being in an offside position. On condition that we specify that the attacking player is on the halfway line, he can never be either offside or in an offside position when the ball is played by his teammate in this particular scenario. The Law is clear (emphasis added to ensure understanding):

Offside Position
It is not an offense in itself to be in an offside position.
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


Another big debate has been started by our "senior referees." The referee sends a player from the field for illegal equipment, blood, ect. While off the field correcting the situation and before signaled to re-enter by the referee, the player a.) clothes lines a player on the field as the player runs down the touchline with the ball. b.) strikes a player on the bench. c.) uses foul/abusive language towards the referee. The question is whether the team will be playing short from that point on in the match? Their response is that because the player is not on the field, the referee can not make the team play short handed from the send-off for the misconduct.

Answer (August 7, 2010):
The "senior referees" should consider packing it in -- or start taking memory pills. A player sent from the field to correct equipment problems (or to receive medical attention) is still a player and counted as being part of the team on the field.

Law 3 (in the Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees) tells us:

Player outside the field of play
If, after leaving the field of play to correct equipment or kit, to be treated for an injury or bleeding, because he has blood on his kit or for any other reason with the referee's permission, a player re-enters the field of play without the referee's permission, the referee must:
- stop play (although not immediately if the player does not not interfere with play or if the advantage can be applied)
- caution the player for entering the field of play without permission
- order the player to leave the field of play if necessary (infringement of Law 4)

If the referee stops play, it must be restarted
- with an indirect free kick for the opposing team from the position of the ball when play was stopped (see Law 13 -- Position of Free Kick) if there is no other infringement
- in accordance with Law 12 if the player infringes this Law

Scenario (a) only: The referee must punish the more serious of the two simultaneous acts of foul/misconduct and send off the player who was off the field with the referee's permission for violent conduct or serious foul play (see below). Because this player re-entered the field to clothesline the opponent, Law 12 governs the restart, which will be a direct free kick from the place where the player struck his opponent. This player's team must play short for the remainder of the game.

In short: In scenario (a), send off for serious foul play if competing for the ball or for violent conduct if not competing for the ball and restart with a direct free kick where the "clothesline" occurred; scenario (b), send off for violent conduct and restart with dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped; and, in scenario (c), send off for abusive language and restart with a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped. In all three scenarios, the team plays down.

U.S. Soccer thanks Jim Allen (National Instructor Staff and National Assessor ret., assisted by National Instructor Trainer Dan Heldman, for their assistance in providing this service. Direction is provided by Alfred Kleinaitis, Manager of Referee Development and Education, with further assistance from Paul Tamberino, Director of Referee Development; David McKee, National Director of Assessment (assessment matters); Jeff Kollmeyer, National Instructor, indoor and Futsal; and Ulrich Strom, National Instructor and National Assessor (matters in general).

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