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June 2003 Archive (II of II)


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


FOULS IN THE PENALTY AREA
Your question:
I've been a ref for 4 years. Over that time, the books I've read and the clinics I've been to have put forth the guideline that a foul is a foul, we should call them consistently wherever they occur, including the penalty area. In watching professional and international games it is clear that those refs operate on a different principal. So, what's the deal? Are the standards different for youth and amateur vs. the pros? This isn't addressed in either the LOTG or the USSF's Advice to Referees, that I can find.

USSF answer (June 13, 2003):
The standards are the same for youth and adult soccer as they are for the professionals. About the only thing that might be different is that the referees at the professional level are better at discriminating between what is truly a foul and what less-experienced referees may call in a youth or adult league game.

Yes, a foul is a foul is a foul . . . but what the referee DOES about the foul is greatly dependent on the skill and experience of the players, the "temperature" of the match at that point, and a host of other factors. Ralph Waldo Emerson warned that "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" -- which is good advice for referees. Consistency is not always a good thing.


PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT
Your question:
Despite the excellent advice and guidance provided in 2002 regarding Persistent Infringement, I am unable to locate a definitive, written reference to the following question. After having issued a caution for four hard fouls against the same opponent, how should the referee regard additional infringement by the same player? Assuming the same behavior continues, would one or two more fouls be enough for a second caution? Does the first yellow card "cover" the first four fouls, suggesting three more is more appropriate? Your assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated.

USSF answer (June 13, 2003):
Perhaps you are looking too hard and failing to see what is right in front of you. If a player has been cautioned and shown the yellow card for persistently infringing the Laws of the Game, then if he continues to infringe the Laws he should be cautioned again (second yellow card) and then sent off and shown the red card for receiving a second caution in the same match.

In addition, the referee in this case should look to his man-management skills. If the referee's only tool in managing players is his cards, then he will have many very long and difficult games.


DANGEROUS FIELDS
Your question:
We are working games for an adult league this summer whose fields raise a question. The touch lines have been placed so that on each field, two American Football goal posts have their centered upright on a touch line. While this requires care by the AR on that side, we "work around" the problem in order to have games. (The league was unable to secure other fields due to drought closures.) While the post holding the goal is on the touch line, the right angle extension and goal assembly (the horizontal and upright portion) extend over the pitch.

These obstuctions do not meet the criteria for an "outside agent" nor are they part of the soccer / American football goals. Is the 2000(?) answer still in effect and should these goal posts be treated as one would the trees or wires overhanging the field? "Trees or wires overhanging the field are pre-existing conditions and do not affect either team more adversely than the other. If a ball hits them, play should continue, unless the ball rebounds into touch or over the goal line, in which case the appropriate restart would be based on which team had played the ball last."

USSF answer (June 11, 2003):
Before answering the original question, a statement for you and other referees to ponder: While these fields are obviously unsafe, they apparently have been approved for use by the competition. In that case, the officials -- who can certainly choose not to work these games -- must exercise great care to protect both themselves and the players.

Given that the fields, as they exist, have been approved by the competition, the posts on the lines constitute pre-existing conditions, so any ball that strikes any part of them and rebounds into the field will be considered to be in play.

NOTE: We have seen photos and these fields are scary. The matter has been reported to referee authorities in this state.


EARLY MOVEMENT FROM THE WALL/'KEEPER MOVEMENT
Your question:
Late in a tied, competitive adult co-ed game, an obvious DFK was awarded 25 yards from goal. A defensive player broke from the wall and charged the ball after the whistle but just before the kick. Timing was such that a whistle would have been simultaneous with the kick. I decided to hold off and see what happened. The keeper deflected the shot, which fell to the attackers who eventually somehow scored in the resulting melee. I awarded the goal, started breathing again, and warned the encroacher.

Questions: Should I have whistled the encroachment immediately, regardless of the impending kick, cautioned the encroacher, and allowed a re-kick? Should I have stopped it when the GK deflected the shot, cautioned the encroacher, and allowed a re-kick? Or what? This was a very intense situation - highly emotional. A lot was going on in the wall, etc. I like it when the game ramps up like that; I just want to get it right. Good fun! Thanks!

Note on your comments re the AC Milan GK coming off his line during the PKs: I understood you to instruct referees to uphold Law 14, which would include penalizing the GK for coming off the line, and awarding a re-kick. I keep hearing this, even at advanced clinics, yet in reality I do not observe this part of Law 14 being enforced in the World Cup, UEFA, MLS, whatever. Any ref who dares to enforce GK encroachment really hears it from players, coaches, etc. They all watch the same games we do. It's not going to work until we all observe it being enforced consistently at the highest levels. I want to make it through the parking lot alive, too, just like Mr. Markus and his crew.

USSF answer (June 10, 2003):
1. Your decision to wait on enforcing the requirements of Laws 12 and 13 was correct in this case, although you could have cautioned and shown the yellow card to the player who failed to respect the required distance at the free kick. The basis for waiting is that, under Law 5, you can apply advantage to misconduct just as is done with fouls.

2. Enforcement of the requirement that the goalkeeper remain on the goal line until the ball has been kicked has to begin somewhere. The IFAB has amended the Additional Instructions for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials for 2003 to read: "The Penalty Kick. It is an infringement to enter the penalty area before the kick has been taken. The goalkeeper also infringes the Laws if he moves from his goal line before the ball has been kicked. Referees must ensure that when players infringe this Law appropriate action is taken."

The USSF Advice to Referees regarding this change is as follows:
"The reference to 'enter the penalty area before the kick has been taken' includes players moving closer than ten yards to the ball (i. e., entering the penalty arc) and moving closer to the goal line than the ball (i.e., moving closer to the goal line than twelve yards). Referees must also ensure that the goalkeeper does not move off the goal line before the ball is in play. However, although the International Board emphasized the need for referees to take appropriate actions when players violate the requirements of Law 14, referees must continue to differentiate between those violations which clearly had an impact on subsequent play and those trifling violations which clearly had no impact."

In other words, the referee must have the courage to punish infringements that are not trifling and to order the kick to be retaken.


MORE REFEREES IN NEED OF IMPROVEMENT/DUTIES OF THE CAPTAIN
Your question:
I have always felt that being a referee is a tough job and as a parent and spectator I try not to make the job any more difficult than it already is. Here is my question. As I understand the rules of the game in Wright County Minnesota, the coach and players can discuss rules and/or calls with the referees before or after the game. It is the responsibility of the team captain to present any questions, concerns or disputes to the referees during the game. Of course all discussions need to take place in a timely and respectful manner. Based on the assumption that my understanding of the rules is correct, what other course of action should the player have taken in the following scenario: I have a daughter, in the U-18 level who played goalie in Eden Prairie on tuesday evening June 3rd. During the course of the game Jessica and other players were subjected to verbal abuse by a group of spectators. This verbal abuse took place while the spectators were directly behind the goal and included such comments to the goalie as "they are coming to get you" and "eat it goalie". Comments to the other players included racial slurs such as "Asians get off the field". These comments were delivered with enough malice to bring tears to my daughter's eyes. A true sportsman, Jessica did not acknowledge them or their comments. The team captain requested that the center referee ask the spectators to "quit harassing my goalie". No action was taken. After the completion of the game, Jessica waited until the teams had wished each other well and approached the nearest referee, who happened to be a side line judge. Jessica said in a respectful voice "Excuse me sir, I believe it is unfair....". This is as much as the referee allowed Jessica to speak. At this time he interrupted her, pointed to the parking lot and said "Go home" and walked away. My daugter felt the calls the referees made during the game were correct and fair to both teams. She was obviously unhappy with the negative support shown by her opponent's fans. The player wished to exercise her right to object to the lack of action taken regarding the spectators. So the question remains what should a player do if they feel there is a problem?

USSF answer (June 9, 2003):
There are good and bad referees all over the place. Your team happened to get two of the bad ones, people who cannot be bothered to protect the Spirit of the Game. The people behind the goal should not have been allowed to bother the goalkeeper (whether your daughter or not ) and the referee should have dealt with these people.

The captain cannot raise any issues with the referee or the assistant referee. The captain's duties are spelled out in the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game":
19.4 THE ROLE OF THE TEAM CAPTAIN
The role of the team captain is not defined in the Laws of the Game. He usually wears an armband. The captain is responsible to the referee for his team, but has no special rights or privileges. By practice and tradition, certain duties fall upon the team captain:
-to see that the referee's decisions are respected by the captain's teammates and by team officials;
-to counsel a teammate who may be reluctant to leave the field at a substitution - but neither the captain nor the referee may insist that the player leave;
-to represent his or her team at the coin toss to determine which direction the team will attack to begin the game (and subsequent overtime periods) or which team will take first kick in kicks from the penalty mark;
-to be the team representative to whom the referee must go to obtain the name or names of members of that team who must be withdrawn from participating in kicks from the penalty mark in order to match the size of the opposing team (which has fewer players on the field before or during the kicks from the penalty mark procedure as a result of injury or misconduct).

However, a captain -- or any other player -- who has a legitimate concern should be able to speak with the officials politely, as your player did, and expect to get a polite response in return.

Please accept our apologies for these incidents, which should never have been allowed to happen. We have informed the state authorities of the matter, hoping that they will deal with the officials concerned. And you might consider filing a report with your daughter's team's league -- perhaps not so much regarding the referee's behavior as the behavior of the spectator's. This is based on the theory that the competition authority has some responsibility here as well.


JUNIOR AND SENIOR ASSISTANT REFEREES?
Your question:
Lately, I have heard of Junior and Senior Assistant Referees. What is the difference? Is the center referee supposed to assign them these positions? Do they have any special responsibilities? Thank you very much for your response.

USSF answer (June 9, 2003):
At the professional level and perhaps in highly-organized adult soccer, the senior and junior assistant referees are designated as such by the assignor. In other competitions the distinction is either not made or the designation of senior assistant referee is made by the referee.

The significance of the terms varies with the competition. In some competitions, the fourth official official will take over if the referee cannot continue with the game. In other competitions, particularly those that do not assign fourth officials, the senior assistant referee will take over if the referee cannot continue. One feature of the senior AR that is standard for all competitions is that the senior takes the team bench side of the field.


YOUTH SUBSTITUTION RULES
Your question:
There has been a bit of a flap of late . . . about subs in U16-19 boys games. The question came up for me, too, as the assignor in the local state Snicker's Cup finals, and the tournament's decision was that subs were unlimited in the Snicker's Cup competition regardless of the age group or gender.

Under the LOTG, a national association can set the rules for competition, and as such, they can mandate how many subs may be nominated, from 3 to 7. And, in "other matches" subs may be used if the teams reach agreement on how many, and the ref knows this before they start.

In the US, virtually all youth matches at the U16-19 level, whether boys or girls, and most, if not all, recreational adult leagues, use an unlimited sub format, at least they do everywhere I've been, and including my home state. Under Law 3 a maximum of 7 subs are available, which is what USYSA has adopted by mandating in youth games rosters be cut off at 18, or at least that is my argument. But how do they get around the provisions of Law 3 which say a player who is substituted may not take further part in the match? Technically, the U16-19 boys, and all adult male recreational leagues who are not "veteran" footballers" have to do the limited sub routine. One could be a bit cynical and say the U16-19 boys and all adult male players under the age of 35 suffer from the disability of being young and male, which from the many games I've done at this level is not entirely preposterous, however, surely that is not what they meant?

It seems the states have adopted the practical view that it is impossible to have two standards of substitution within one sphere of competition, and so they extend the rule for the many to cover the few (the U16's & up males). It is clearly stated in the [state] Rules of Competition that all age groups have unlimited subs, and the men's league gets around it by not mentioning it at all, and the common practice has always been that subs are unlimited. I guess you would tell me the intelligent referee will go with the flow here, as common sense would dictate?

But, if the referee in a U19 boys game allows unlimited subs as per local practice, and an appeal of the game is made by a team who had only 14 players, one of whom was never used, the two who came out never went back in, and assume it is appealed all the way to national, what will be the most likely decision on this issue? Did the referee commit an error of misapplication of the LOTG? If so, does it require the replay of the game? Is the referee in any danger from a litigation standpoint if s/he did not enforce the letter of the Law, both from a liability stand point, and from the view of USSF, who must defend him/her?

The issue is one that comes up over and over in clinics, and it has been difficult to give a definitive answer, given the black and white print in our flexible little book. Can you provide me with some help here?

USSF answer (June 9, 2003):
According to the most recent USYSA policy on players and playing rules,
QUOTE
Rule 301. RULES OF PLAY

Section 1. Except as provided by USYSA or its State Associations, the FIFA "Laws of the Game" apply to all competitions sponsored by USYSA. Players under 10 years of age may play soccer in accordance with the rules of USYSA's Development Player Program-Modified Playing Rules for Under 10, Under 8, and Under 6.

//snip//

Rule 302. SUBSTITUTIONS

Section 1. Except as provided by USYSA or its State Associations, substitutions shall be unlimited except where specified otherwise in the rules and regulations for a special competition.

Section 2. Substitutions may be made, with the consent of the referee, at any stoppage in play. END OF QUOTE

Some special competitions do run slightly different rules, as provided in the policy manual. For specifics on local competitions, consult with the competition authority. Following the rules of the competition will rarely get the referee in trouble.


FAILURE TO RESPECT THE REQUIRED DISTANCE
Your question:
I have a question regarding free kicks near the penalty box. If a wall is set up 10 yards away from the ball, and then the ball is kicked and the wall jumps forward, is it encroachment??? Some local officials think it is, some don't. There has been some discrepency in our area. E-mail me back with the answer of if it is encroachment or not; and if it is, is it a yellow card???

USSF answer (June 5, 2003):
There is no such thing as "encroachment" under the Laws of the Game. If an opposing player moves too close to the ball before it has been kicked, he has failed to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick or free kick, a cautionable offense -- if the referee believes it to have been such.

In the scenario you present, the opposing players did not move toward the ball until it had been kicked, so they have not infringed on the Law. No offense.


WITH WILD ABANDON
Your question:
Is a rule about abandonment of a game listed in the 'Laws of the Game' booklet? What is the rule that applies if one team abandons a game that is underway?

USSF answer (June 5, 2003):
According to Law 5, the Referee may stop, suspend or terminate the match, at his discretion, for any infringements of the Laws or because of outside interference of any kind.

A team has no right or authority to abandon a game. If a team refuses to take the field after a stoppage (e. g., the midgame break) or if enough players apparently deliberately remove themselves from the field that the number of players drops below the minimum (7), the intelligent referee will first attempt to determine and (if possible) correct the cause. If this action is unsuccessful, the referee must declare the match abandoned. Full details of the circumstances must be included in the match report.


JUST WRITE UP THE REPORT -- NO EDITORIALIZING
Your question:
Referee report is reporting three send-offs for "violent conduct". Besides the sanctions imposed for mandatory dismissal for next "same" game, and the only thing written on report is : striking and opponent. All 3 players fists involved. Ball not in play. Striking after foul.

Question .... should here be a separate referee report for each player involved?

Question #2.. should there be anytihng in a report that would indicate that more than one, or two, game suspension be imposed?

USSF answer (June 5, 2003):
There should be a separate write-up for each send-off/red card for violent conduct. There is no call for the referee to make any comments recommending the length of the suspension. The severity of the incident should be made clear in the individual write-ups, rather than through editorial comment.

Any punishment for a caution beyond the game in which it occurs is up to the competition authority to decide. Any punishment for a red card beyond the game in which it occurs and suspension from the team's next match is up to the competition authority to decide. The referee should stick to the formal reason for the card (yellow or red), plus any additional FACTS which indicate why this particular reason is appropriate.

A referee could, if appropriate, provide supporting facts to indicate that a card was given to the wrong player, but even this must be decided by the competition authority.


OWN GOALS
Your question:
In our Grade 8 training class the instructor said several times that "you can't score against yourself." Does this mean that if the defending team, while trying to defend their goal, accidently kicks the ball into their own goal I restart with a corner kick?

USSF answer (June 5, 2003):
Your instructor was referring to those instances in which play is being restarted. The Laws of the Game do not allow a team to score against itself directly from any restart (goal kick, corner kick, throw-in, and so forth). "Directly" means that no one on either team has touched the ball between the restart and the ball entering the goal. A team can score against itself, called an "own goal," during any time that the ball is in play and from any sequence following the next touch after a throw-in or indirect free kick.


THREE DIFFERENT PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW . . .
Your question:
1. I would like you to tell me what FIFA will do in this game incident: In Our Soccer League ATLETICO is playing COBRAS in a Championship match.

Team atletico scores early in the first half and the score stays 1-0 at the end of the half.

starting the second half COBRAS have 12 players in the field and the Referee and AR's did not notice it games goes on and COBRAS scores the tying Goal in the 8th min. game restarts and in the 10 min. a Fan notices that Cobras is playing with 12 players and talks to the AR who brings it to the attention of the center referee, he cautions w/ a Yellow card to the extra player and game continues at 83 min. COBRAS scores again making it 2-1 and stays like that until the end of the game. Now ATLETICO Protests to the League in the Basis that the tying goal should have been disallowed because the other team had 12 players at time of scoring. What FIFA would do? take it to the Appeals Board and let them decide about Replaying the whole game with score 1-1?, or replay 10 min with the score 1-1 or 2-1 ? what this League should do?

2. I have a question regarding having too many players on the field. In my game this past weekend, the other team began the second half with 12 players, without the ref or linesmen spotting this infringement. it was about 15 minutes into the half when the other team scored a crucial ting goal. It was at this time that a spectator informed our team that the other team had been playing with 12 players since the beginning of the second half. We then pointed this out to the ref, and as he was counting the players on the other team, one player ran off the field to their bench. The ref then cautioned the coach of the other team for playing with 12 players, but did not take away the goal that was scored.

I looked in the FIFA Laws of the Game, and didn't see anything really like this situation. It seems clear cut that if a team commits a foul, or some type of infringement such as offsides, and then scores, the goal should be withdrawn. What would you say to this?

3. i have a little inquiry about the officiating of a game i was in this weekend. it happen to be a semifinal game for the 'copa tecate cup.' the game was 1-1 at half time and the opposing team had 12 players on the pitch. this wasn't noticed until after they scored to make it 2-1. when someone brought it to the refs attention he simply gave them a yellow card and the game resumed. my question is what is the official procedure for a ref to my scenario. does my team have a case in pleading for a replay (rematch). please let me know the proper rules and how it should be handled.

USSF answer (June 5, 2003):
If the referee had already restarted the game after the goal was scored, then there is nothing the referee can do about it. If the referee had noticed that there were too many players before restarting, then the goal would have been taken away. Naturally we are concerned that the referees and assistant referees did not notice the extra player, as they are expected to count players all the time, just to be safe.

In any event, the referee's action in cautioning the coach was incorrect and not in accordance with the Law. The proper action would be to caution the 12th player (assuming this person could be identified). The referee must submit complete details in his match report.

And FIFA would do nothing other than this if they were dealing with the game.


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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