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September 2008 Archive (II of IV)


if a player questions the Center ref's call is that grounds for a Red Card? What are the grounds for a red card to a player? Situation:
Ref calls a foul!
Player: "What kind of call was that?"
Ref: "Who are you to ask me what kind of call?!" Gives the Player U16 a yellow card.
Player~ walks away
Ref: yells You don't walk away from me!
Player: yells give the yellow card then!
Ref: you don't talk to me like that! Gives 2nd yellow card then pulls out red card and kicks U16 player off field.

Please advise.

Answer (September 11, 2008):
The Law is very clear on what is cautionable and what constitutes a sending-off offense. The player would appear to have expressed dissent from the referee's original decision and then dissented again, a second cautionable offense in the same game, for which he/she must be cautioned a second time and then sent off and shown the red card. Here are the reasons, excerpted directly from Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct):

Disciplinary Sanctions
The yellow card is used to communicate that a player, substitute or substituted player has been cautioned.

The red card is used to communicate that a player, substitute or substituted player has been sent off.

Only a player, substitute or substituted player may be shown the red or yellow card.

The referee has the authority to take disciplinary sanctions, as from the moment he enters the field of play until he leaves the field of play after the final whistle.

A player who commits a cautionable or sending-off offense, either on or off the field of play, whether directed towards an opponent, a teammate, the referee, an assistant referee or any other person, is disciplined according to the nature of the offense committed.

Cautionable Offenses
A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he commits any of the following seven offenses:
1. unsporting behavior
2. dissent by word or action
3. persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game
4. delaying the restart of play
5. failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, free kick or throw-in
6. entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee's permission
7. deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee's permission

A substitute or substituted player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he commits any of the following three offenses:
1. unsporting behavior
2. dissent by word or action
3. delaying the restart of play

Sending-Off Offenses
A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits any of the following seven offenses:
1. serious foul play
2. violent conduct
3. spitting at an opponent or any other person
4. denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
5. denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player's goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or penalty kick or a penalty kick
6. using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
7. receiving a second caution in the same match

A player, substitute or substituted player who has been sent off must leave the vicinity of the field of play and the technical area.

Of course the referee could easily have prevented the second caution and the send-off by simply not asking the player an inflammatory question.



What is the right air pressure for U12 boys recreational soccer. If there is a right range why would one choose the lower or higher value?

Answer (September 10, 2008):
A good question, as the specifications for the balls other than for adult soccer are not included in the Laws of the Game.

Soccer balls for match use come in three different sizes, 3, 4 and 5. Size 3 balls are the smallest balls and are generally used for players under the age of 8; they are generally 23-24 inches in circumference and weigh between 11-12 ounces. Size 4 balls are generally used for players between the ages of 8 and 12; they weigh between 12-13 ounces and have a circumference of 25- 26 inches. The details on the ball for adult soccer (Size 5) are in Law 2 of the Laws of the Game. The composition and air pressure figures given in Law 2 apply to all the sizes. Only the weights and circumferences would differ for sizes 3 and 4.

The size ball used for U12 boys recreational soccer is up to the competition authority, the people who make the rules for the particular competition -- league, cup or tournament. It would likely be a size 4.

The size 5 ball is spherical, made of leather or other suitable material, of a circumference of not more than 70 cm (28 ins) and not less than 68 cm (27 ins), not more than 450 g (16 oz) in weight and not less than 410 g (14 oz) at the start of the match, and of a pressure equal to 0.6 - 1.1 atmosphere (600 - 1100 g/cm2) at sea level (8.5 lbs/sq in 15.6 lbs/sq in).

Pressure figures are relative to the needs of the game. The air pressure to be chosen depends on weather and field conditions, the skill of the players, and, most practically and importantly, ensuring that the ball pressure is within the manufacturer's specifications (which are often printed on the ball around the inflation point). A higher pressure usually makes a ball tighter and "faster," in that it bounces higher and farther and requires much greater skill to control it. A lower pressure will soften the ball and slow it down.



I'm a Grade 8 referee. Watching my son's U12 game this past weekend, the referee whistled several fouls (pulling the jersey, pushing, etc). When announcing the foul to the players he made it a point to say "Don't push." or "Pulling the jersey." But the restart he called was an indirect free kick. This is clearly wrong IAW Law 12.

My question is this, "What is the best way to approach the referee to tell him of his mistakes? At halftime? After the game is over?" I certainly was not going to say anything during the game and none of the coaches or spectators knew the about the mistake, or if they did know they were like me and said nothing during the game. Thanks in advance for your advice.

Answer (September 9, 2008):
It is often a mistake for anyone other than a known (and officially assigned) assessor to approach the referee after a game to talk about game management and decisions made. (And even assessors are forbidden to interfere with the referee at any time prior to the end of the game, especially at the halftime break.) Unless you know the referee from past association, the best thing to do is to inform your state authorities and let them speak with the referee.



May a goalkeeper gain control of the ball outside of the penalty box with his feet, dribble into the penalty box then handle the ball?

Answer (September 9, 2008):
The answer to this and many other questions can be found in the USSF's FAQ for new referees:

The answer to your question is in these Q&As:
Q. If a player deliberately kicks the ball to his goalie, who is outside the penalty area, may the goalie dribble the ball back into the penalty area and pick it up with his hands?

A. No, because the goalkeeper may not use the hands to play a ball last deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate.

Q. Is there any exception to this?
A. Yes, if the ball bounces off an opponent o the way to the 'keeper, the 'keeper may dribble it into the penalty area and pick it up.

Q. How about if the ball is kicked to the 'keeper by a member of the other team?
A. Then it is fine for the goalkeeper to pick it up, but only inside the penalty area



A case recently happened in one of my U19 games that I was playing in. In the 7th minute of play, one of my teammates was sent off for "making verbal threats to an opponent on the field" after telling an opposing player "don't you dare go after my player #29". I myself am a certified referee and looked through every single book I had and I could not find any ruling as far as how supposed "threats" were handled. The closest thing I could find for a send-off offense would be what was considered abusive language. However, I explicitly remember during my recertification course that my instructor told us that you cannot give cards for threats and yIu must duly make a note of the player number and make sure that player stays under control. Is it possible or even legal for the referee to send off a player for making a verbal threat?

Answer (September 8, 2008):
Verbal threats are remarks that carry the implied or direct threat of physical harm. Such remarks as "I'll get you after the game" or "You won't get out of here in one piece" shall be deemed abuse.

This answer paraphrases an answer of April 1, 2002, which dealt specifically with the verbal abuse of referees by players. The principles expressed there are equally applicable to interactions between players.

The use of offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures is punishable by a dismissal and red card. Offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures that threaten physical harm are a step up and involve misconduct plus a threat. Behavior that involves "threats" pushes the act to the level of abuse and can carry not only a red card penalty but additional sanctions if the state association so chooses.

So, yes, the offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures could be construed as abuse, most especially if it is ongoing -- more than just a word in the heat of anger. If there is a clear indication that some physical punishment will be extracted, even though there is never any explicit threat of physical harm ("Don't you dare go after my player, #29!", and on and on as an example), it could be considered to be abusive. In this instance, the key is whether or not it is ongoing or is a single word or phrase in the heat of the game. For the single word or phrase (depending on the circumstances) the caution or sending-off option is available; for a tirade or series that is ongoing, the situation clearly constitutes an instance of threat and abuse.

You might suggest that your instructor review this message.



What should the penalty be for a player and or their team for striking the referee after a game was over? A review of incident shows several players chasing the referee and one of them hits the official with a jersey.

Answer (September 4, 2008):
The punishment for this serious misconduct would be up to the competition authority. If the referee was still on the field, he or she could show the red card for violent conduct, but that doesn't sound like a viable action in this situation. The best thing would be for the referee to include full details -- as many as he or she could remember -- in the match report. And if there is a video, the referee should also send a COPY of the video along with the report.

In addition, the referee should pursue remedies through his/her state or regional referee associations. If the referee was actually struck, there are civil and criminal remedies available.



Recently, I was coaching a game and a young referee called a hand ball right outside the penalty area. My players lined up a wall right behind the ball so the other team could not take a quick free kick. The referee was moving back the wall when the other team set the ball and scored while the referee was moving back the wall. I quickly yelled and protested to the referee that a whistle was needed because he was moving the wall. He agreed and a re-kick was ordered and the other team did not score. The opposing coach protested saying a whistle was not needed.

Who is correct? What is the correct ruling?

Answer (September 4, 2008):
Let's do a little analysis here on the true state of the situation that concerns you.

First, if your team actually "lined up a wall right behind the ball so the other team could not take a quick free kick," this is a blatant violation of both the spirit and the letter of the Laws of the Game. The referee should immediately have indicated that the restart could not occur, cautioned one of your players, advised the other players to quickly retreat to the required minimum distance, and then signaled for the restart. There would then have been no question that the kick could not be taken until the referee signaled -- your team would have (as it did) successfully prevented a quick restart, but it would have paid at least some price for this obvious misconduct.

Second, assuming the referee failed to understand the need to deal with the misconduct and proceeded to move the wall back, the attacking team was still free to take an quick kick because they had not been ordered by the referee to wait. Clearly, the referee was distracting the opponents but, frankly, this was their own fault. None of this would have happened had they not violated the Law by being closer than the minimum distance. In short, what the referee did was bad mechanics but not a violation of the Laws of the Game.

Lessons to be learned from this:
The defending team has only one right at a restart, not to be distracted by the referee. They have no right to form a wall nor to prevent the opponents from taking a position anywhere on the field. In this case, you are correct about the referee: Because he was pushing your team back, this required a clear indication to the kicking team to wait for his whistle to restart. The referee should have called the kick back and had it retaken, but the referee should have been astute enough to notice that the kicking team wanted to take a quick free kick. That would have solved every problem.

If your team insists on engaging in illegal gamesmanship, they must be prepared to assume the consequences, regardless of whether the referee uses recommended mechanics or not.


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. 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); and Ulrich Strom, National Instructor and National Assessor (matters in general).

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