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December 2006 Archive (I of I)


COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION!!

Question:
Your question:
Situation: A blue team attacker is guilty of an offside infraction, and the AR puts up his flag to signal the offside. Since the infraction occurred near the far touchline away from the AR, the CR has his back to the AR and does not notice that the AR's flag is straight up. The red team kicks the ball out, and the CR awards a throw-in to the blue (attacking) team. The blue team quickly takes the throw in while the AR is still standing on the far side of the field unnoticed by the CR.
Question: Should the AR (a) put down his flag after the blue team throw-in or (b) keep his flag raised until he is seen by the CR or the ball clears the red teams' half of the field?

Answer (December 4, 2006):
The assistant referee should keep the flag raised in this case--and the referee should be ashamed not to have maintained communication (eye contact) with the assistant. In addition, the AR at the other end of the field should also be ashamed to have missed the flag and not "mirrored" it to the referee.

 


"POSSESSION" BY THE OPPOSING PLAYER

Question:
I'm hoping you can help resolve a topic that's gotten much discussion on a number of referee forums as of late. In the 2006 USSF Advice to Referees (ATR), item 11.3 #3 states that a player can become onside when "An opponent intentionally plays or gains possession of the ball". The question that has been raised is that playing the ball and possession of the ball are conspicuously separate items in this clause and seem to be two different things. Therefore, what is required to rule that a player has "gained possession". Is contact with the ball specifically a requirement? Consider the following scenario.

A red attacker is in an offside position near the center of the field (obviously in the attacking half) when the ball is kicked by a teammate from the defending half deep into the attacking half. The ball comes to a complete stop just outside the PA. The attacker knowing he is offside makes no play or chase on the ball and the opposing kicker comes and stands over the ball without touching it. The keeper stands there for some time (for argument sake, figure 3-4 seconds) until finally the attacker that had been offside makes a charge at the ball to force the keeper to make a play. Can the keeper be determined to have gained possession and therefore the attacker is now onside or should the attacker be called for offside?

Answer (November 30, 2006):
If there is no physical control of the ball there is no possession. Offside. To force the defender to play the ball, just have an attacker from an onside position start challenging.

As to "conspicuously separate" items, someone will always find (nonexistent) fault when a statement contradicts his or her own opinion.

 


WHEN TO CAUTION

Question:
Issuing Cards: I usually center about U12-U16 games in Recreation level, and U12-U13/14 games in comp (with the exception of a forced U15 comp game I had to center).

My real question is this, in the recreation level games, lets say U16, how would you go on about giving a yellow card? I have given cards in Comp games, and only 2 times in Rec level U14 boys games. But in Rec, do you warn once, then warn that you will card, then card? Or just warn, then card? Help!

Answer (November 27, 2006):
If the offense deserves an immediate caution, you may caution first without any warning. You would temper your decision based on the skill and developmental level of the players. Complete guidance is contained in the USSF publication "Cautions and Cautionable Offenses," downloadable from the ussoccer.org website. A condensed version of the philosophy on cautions is contained in the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" and is cited here to help in your decision making:
QUOTE
12.27 A PHILOSOPHY ON CAUTIONS
The Laws of the Game identify seven cautionable offenses (Law 12). These include fairly specific actions (leaving the field without the permission of the referee), very general actions (unsporting behavior), and highly judgmental areas (dissent). In all cases, the referee is expected to evaluate a player's behavior based on several factors:
- Does the act meet the generally accepted and understood meaning of the offense?
- Was the act, even if an offense, trifling?
- Would the issuance of a caution for this misconduct likely have desirable results for game and/or player management?
If the player's act meets the criteria for the offense, is not trifling, and its punishment will have a salutary effect, the caution should be given. Whether the referee should stop play to do so or whether play should be allowed to continue until the next stoppage involves the application of the same advantage concept that is used to decide whether to stop play for a foul.

Every caution must be given for one and only one of the seven reasons listed in Law 12. Player behavior, of course, may involve several forms of misconduct at the same time and the referee must decide whether to caution each one separately (in which case, the second caution must also be followed by a send-off and display of the red card) or to issue a single caution for the total behavior. If the latter is chosen, the referee must decide which specific reason in the Law will be reported as the basis for the caution. In either case, however, the referee should fully describe in the game report all misconduct the player has committed in addition to the misconduct for which the caution was given.

Whether a caution is "mandatory" or "discretionary" is often discussed among referees, but the use of these terms tends to obscure the primary issues central to handling misconduct and should therefore generally be avoided. The Laws of the Game require that the referee further decide whether the misconduct is not trifling and that the caution will result in a desirable change in player conduct. The referee's judgment (discretion) is a critical element in deciding, for example, whether what a player has just said or done is dissent within the meaning of Law 12 and guidance from USSF (see the USSF memorandum on "Misconduct Involving Language/Gestures," dated March 14, 2003). If the referee decides that it is "dissent," then the offense must be considered cautionable, but this does not mean that the yellow card must be displayed.

The referee must then make a second decision-in this particular case involving this particular player at this particular point in the match, based on the way the match has proceeded so far-as to whether or not the dissent is trifling and whether or not displaying the card would have a positive effect on this player's behavior and the behavior of the other players in the game. Each caution must be approached in this way as a combination of mandatory and discretionary elements. In no case may a caution (or send-off) be delayed beyond the next restart. It must be given as soon as play is stopped, even if this means preventing a team from taking advantage of a quick restart (if the kick is taken, it must be called back and not taken until the delayed card is shown). No alteration of this procedure is permitted.
END OF QUOTE

We might add that there are a few cautions for which, unless the action is really blatant and cynical, it is generally better to warn a player first before giving the card for persistent infringement (else how is the player to know how many offenses the referee may consider "persistent") or for delaying the restart of play (else how is the player to know when the "extra" time he is taking to restart is riding the edge of impermissible delay). However, such warnings must never include any "if you do X, I will caution" sort of threat, as this is counterproductive, restricts the referee's flexibility, and sounds foolish.

 


COACHES VS. REFEREES

Question:
Should a referee threaten a coach with ejection for interfering with his ability to "call" the game without explaining how that interference occurred? Are coaches allowed to yell hands or offsides during a game? Are not cautions and warnings to be issued at the moment of the offence or next stoppage of play so as to be in context? Is a ref allowed to declare the game a forfeit after ejecting a coach?

This involves a U 13 Rec league semi final game?

Answer (November 27, 2006):
Referees should never threaten anyone with anything; that is a poor management technique and can only lead to greater problems. The referee should present the coach or other antagonist with options, but not with threats. Nor must the referee explain any calls to the coach or any other team official. Any necessary details will be contained in the match report.

Coaches and other team officials are allowed to behave responsibly. If, in the opinion of the referee, they behave irresponsibly, they can be expelled from the field and its environs. Constantly yelling "hands" and "offside" is a form of intimidation towards the referee and might be considered irresponsible behavior by the thin-skinned referee. Nor should referees be cautioning (or showing any cards to) coaches unless it is specifically required by the rules of the competition.

No referee can ever declare any game a forfeit. The referee can only declare a game abandoned or terminated and then provide full details in the match report to the competition authority, the only body competent to make a decision on the result of the game.

 


'KEEPER THROWS THE BALL INTO THE AIR

Question:
Sometimes kids do the strangest things - and I was not sure of the answer.

Boys U9. The GK of Team A makes a save in front of his goal mouth. All of Team B's field players, anticipating a long punt, retreat into their own half of the field (U9 appropriate size field). The Team A GK the throws the ball in a high, arching manner toward the top of of PA. He runs under the ball, catches it in the air (it never strikes the ground); and, while inside the PA and under 6 seconds, punts the ball deep into Team B's territory.

According to ATR 12.16, second sentence "Possession is given up if, while throwing the ball into the air, it is allowed to strike the ground." However, the next sentence indicates "... handling extends from the shoulder to tips of the fingers.

So, is the GK guilty of releasing the ball into play by throwing it in the manner he did, and, therefore guilty of a double touch when he caught it? Or, is the GK still in possession of the ball and permitted to do what he did?

Another element also needs to be addressed. If there were an attacking player standing near the edge of the PA could he attempt to make a play on the ball (as noted in ATR 12.17), or is he guilty of interfering with a GK in possession of the ball?

I must admit that I was bedazzled by the whole thing. Why couldn't the GK have run to the edge of the PA with the ball tucked under his arm and made my life simple?

I am not entirely sure why I made the call I did, but I called the GK for a double touch and awarded an IFK the the opponents inside the PA. The opposing coach agreed that the ball had been released into play. The coach of the GK said he never relinquished possession.

Answer (November 27, 2006):
As long as the goalkeeper is simply throwing the ball into the air, not allowing it to hit the ground, and the time remains within the 6 seconds limitation, what does it really matter how far he is throwing the ball? It is not being unfairly withheld from challenge by the opponents and we cannot see what unfair advantage the 'keeper is gaining from such a long throw. In fact, one could argue that the 'keeper is at a higher risk of losing possession by failing to make the catch.

The answer to the second question is equally simple--no opponent is allowed to challenge for the ball while it is merely being thrown into the air while retaining possession and in the process of releasing the ball into play.

 


AR POSITION ON CORNER KICKS

Question:
There seems to be two different opinions in our state on where the proper position is for the AR when the ball is to be kicked on the far side corner. One opinion is that the referee should stand directly behind the corner flag, the other that the AR may take a few steps in on the goal line to have a "better look" when the ball comes into play. Could you render your opinion and is there a right and wrong position for AR corner kicks, far side?

Answer (November 27, 2006):
The correct procedure for the assistant referee at a corner kick on the referee's side of the field is given in the USSF publication "Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials":
Assistant Referee
- Moves to the near corner and takes position on the goal line behind the flag
- Signals only if referee makes eye contact to ask for assistance
- If the ball passes out of play and immediately returns to the field, signals with a vertical flag until acknowledged by the referee, then points flag 45 degrees downward toward the near corner
- Steps upfield from goal line to avoid pointing the flag off the field
- Following the kick, recovers to the offside position as quickly as possible

 


BALL IN PLAY FROM THROW-IN

Question:
Although this seems to be a very basic question, when I went to research it, I could not easily find anything directly on point.

Here was the scenario I had in a recent U-14 game. Player takes a throw-in directly down the touchline. It hits the line and then bounces out of touch. My training has been that the line becomes part of the area which it contains - so that from the point of view of a throw-in (ball coming from out of field of play into the field of play), the line is out of the field of play. Therefore, the whole of the ball must pass over the whole of the line for the ball to "enter the field of play". Therefore, I ruled that the throw-in be taken over since the ball had never entered the field of play. Of course, the opposite team's coach (who was a few yards from the play on that side of the field) said "But it hit the line, then went out of play! It should be a throw-in the other way".

Please clarify who was correct.

Answer (November 27, 2006):
The ball is in play from a throw-in as soon as it breaks the plane of the touchline--and has been released by the thrower. There is no need for the whole of the ball to break the plane of the line. In this case the coach was absolutely correct: the throw-in should have been awarded to the team that did not take the throw-in.

 


FOLLOWING THE BALL TO THE GOAL LINE

Question:
Have looked in the LOTG/Advice/Guide to Proced/past Memorandums and cannot find the source for this:
While following the ball to the goal line, it is quite often impossible to keep up with the ball, especially at higher levels of play....the ball simply rockets across the goal line, while the AR is 20-30yds out or so with 2nd to last defender.

Everyone knows that it's a goal kick. The Center ref often announces it verbally and with the hand signal...but must the Center wait until the AR runs all the way to the goal line in situations like this....which is a major waste of precious playing time for players while it holds up the Center Ref's signaling too---if they are to make the signal at same time....

or, should the Center simply go ahead with his/her signal, ignoring the fact that the AR hasn't gotten down there yet....pretty much ignoring the whole process?

Common sense, our Law 18, and common practice for many in this situation is to stop advancing toward the goal line and provide the goal kick signal...usually in tandem with the Center....then to proceed to the appropriate position for the restart. But, if already close to the goal line when this happens, to quickly move to goal line before giving the signal.

Answer (November 27, 2006):
Assuming a standard pregame in accordance with the Guide to Procedures and other traditional guidelines, the AR has primary responsibility for "his" end of the touchline and "his" side of the goal line. If the ball crosses these parts of the perimeter lines, the AR is expected to signal. If the referee sees no reason to disagree, the AR's signal may in fact be the only indication of the restart.

We all understand that, as play becomes more skilled and competitive, the AR may find himself caught out of position (though we should all strive to be at the goal line when the ball crosses it). Should this be the case, the AR has two choices--stop wherever he is when the ball leaves the field and give the appropriate signal or continue on to the goal line and then signal. Common sense suggests that the AR does the latter if he is close to the goal line but does the former when he is farther away. Notice that these choices do not include "doing nothing" beyond expecting the referee to signal. Do not assume that "everyone knows" anything ... and even if the referee does know what the correct restart should be, he is (or should be) waiting to see what the AR does.

So, if caught a couple of yards off the goal line when the ball crosses it for a goal kick or corner kick, continue on to the goal line and signal the correct restart. If caught more than, say, 3-4 yards up field, stop there, signal, make eye contact with the referee to ensure the signal was seen and understood, and then take up the correct position for the restart.

 


WHEN IS THE PENALTY KICK/KICK FROM THE PENALTY MARK COMPLETED?

Question:
A tournament semi-final match ends 0-0 and goes to penalty kicks by rules of the tournament. On one of the penalty kicks, the goalkeeper dives to his right and stops the ball, clearly gaining possession as the ball rests on the goal line, clearly not completely over the goal line. As the keeper rises to his feet with the ball in his hands, he steps slightly backward so that all of the ball is over the goal line. Is this counted as a successful penalty kick for the player who took the kick, or does the penalty kick end when the keeper has clear possession of a stationary ball that is not over the goal line?

Same situation, except the penalty kick deflects off the keeper without the ball crossing the goal line, the ball goes high in the air, hits the ground about 20 feet away from the goal, but due to extreme spin the ball bounces over the goal line into the goal. Is the penalty kick successful or did the penalty kick end when the keeper deflected the ball away from the goal?

Same situation, but when the keeper deflects the ball, the ball goes hard back to the kicker, deflects off his knee, and goes into the goal. Is the kick successful or did the penalty kick end at some point during this exchange?

Answer (November 27, 2006):
The penalty kick or kick from the penalty mark is not completed until the referee declares it so, and the referee should not declare the kick to be completed if there is any possibility that it is still in play.

In other words, if, in the opinion of the referee, the motion of the ball had stopped completely and clearly, then it makes no difference where the 'keeper carried the ball. If the ball had not stopped, then the kick was still in progress and a goal could still be scored, even if this was caused solely by an error of the goalkeeper.

The answer to your third question is easier: In kicks from the penalty mark, the kicker may not play the ball again after kicking it. Nor may any other member of the kicker's team play the ball in any way after it has been kicked.

 


MISTAKEN ENDING

Question:
A question has come up in an international referee's forum about the following situation:
A referee mistakenly signals the end of the game ten minutes early, probably by three short blasts on his whistle and pointing to the center spot. When the mistake is pointed out to him, he chooses not to restart, but rather to file a complete report to the competition authority. As a result, the game must be replayed.

Participants in the forum are of two minds. One group points to Law 5 and the fact that a referee cannot change his decision once there is another restart or he has terminated the match. This group feels that the whistle and signal constitute termination.

The second group believes that, if he wanted to, the referee could have determined, upon learning of his mistake (and so long as the referee team and the competing teams were still present), that it was an inadvertent whistle and restarted with a dropped ball from the point of the game where it was stopped. In this view, it was an error, not an actual termination that occurred.

Is there one correct answer to this situation, or maybe two? Thanks in advance for your answer

Answer (November 17, 2006):
This excerpt from the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" should answer your question:
7.3 MISTAKEN ENDING
If the referee ends play early, then the teams must be called back onto the field and the remaining time must be played as soon as the error is detected. The halftime interval is not considered to have begun until the first period of play is properly ended. If the ball was out of play when the period was ended incorrectly, then play should be resumed with the appropriate restart (throw-in, goal kick, etc.). If the ball was in play, then the correct restart is a dropped ball where the ball was when the referee incorrectly ended play (subject to the special circumstances in Law 8).

If a period of play (first half or first overtime period) was ended prematurely and this fact was not discovered until the next period of play had been started, the referee will complete the match using the correct length of time for the period of play as prescribed by the competition authority and then include full details of the error in the match report.


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.

Submit your questions via e-mail to askareferee@ussoccer.org.

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