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August 2004 Archive (II of II)

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This situation happened in a game I was working last week and lead to some discussion after the game.

The attacking team takes a shot on goal. The defending keeper moves across his goal and has to stretch his arms out to his side to attempt to catch the ball. The ball deflects off of his hands and falls to the ground. The keeper takes a quick look around and seeing that there are no attackers near him decides to dribble the ball up to the top of the penalty box and then picks up the ball and punts it. The referee stopped play and awarded an indirect free kick for a second touch. The discussion after the game centered around whether the referee considered this a save and then an accidental rebound. The referee said that he considered it a save but at the time the keeper started to dribble the ball with his feet the keeper gave up his opportunity to pick up the rebound with his hands. The referee said that if the keeper had picked up the ball before dribbling it, that he would not have considered it a second touch but would have considered it a continuation of the save. The majority of the other referees who were at this game said that since the keeper had made a save and the rebound was accidental that the keeper can now dribble the ball with his feet and pick it up and this is not a second touch.

Can you shed some light on which is the correct call to make for these type of rebound situations.

Answer (August 27, 2004):
Where do people get the notion that dribbling the ball with the feet somehow changes the situation? The referee was wrong on both counts-saving (deflecting) the ball and then dribbling it didn't change the fact that, not having gained possession in the first place, the 'keeper could handle the ball-and picking up the ball and then dribbling it didn't change the fact that, having controlled it with his hands, the ball could not directly be touched again by the 'keeper.


3-4 years ago I was instructed that negative signals were not in the procedures and should never be used.

A couple of years ago I was informed that there was a shift in the wind and negative signals were an effective tool and could be used when appropriate.

What is the USSF position on negative signals?

Answer (August 27, 2004):
There was a time (longer ago than 3-4 years, however) when negative signals or, more generally, any signals not specifically approved by FIFA or USSF and not described in the Guide to Procedures were discouraged. With the publication of the 1998 Guide to Procedures, that emphasis began to change. The 1998 Guide stated:
Other signals or methods of communication intended to supplement those described here are permitted only if they do not conflict with established procedures and only if they do not intrude on the game, are not distracting, are limited in number and purpose, and are carefully described by the referee prior to the commencement of a match.

This included so-called "negative signals" (for example, the assistant referee indicating "no offside"). If the officiating team discussed such a signal ahead of time and it met the criteria, using it is okay so long as it is kept within reasonable limits. Remember, the purpose of any signal is to communicate so it must do that much at least.

USSF's approach continues to follow this guideline. Even the occasional use of some gesture by the referee to indicate a handling offense or tripping is acceptable if, in the opinion of the referee, it is NEEDED FOR THIS PARTICULAR GAME to communicate essential information in a critical situation. "Negative" or non-standard signals should not become standard practice for every game.


In the past few years of my refereeing, I've seen too much of youth referees that are out of shape (way overweight, unfit...), especially in a recent tournament one of those refs who is also an assignor for high school games kept using foul language and making fun of the younger referees. I kept my mouth shut since any conversation would've ended my game assignment. The local referee coordinator of the tournament had nothing to say either, since his game plans would've been affected. Is there a better way to enlighten this referee of his behavior?

Answer (August 24, 2004):
You should submit a full report to the State Referee Administrator or State Youth Referee Administrator in your state. Before writing, you should consider first making a phone call to let the SRA know what is going on. The SRA might then consider sending someone to take a look at the referee(s). Once you have reported it you have done your duty.


Two interesting sequence of events in recent youth games I was observing instead of refereeing that I would like your comments on:

1. A direct kick was awarded just outside the penalty area near the penalty arc. The attacking team quickly positioned 3 players 10 yards from the ball on the most direct line for the ball to travel to the near post and then hunched down. The defensive team was slow to set up their wall and complained to the referee that the attacking team was interfering with them. The referee to his credit ignored them and backed up to watch the kick. The defending team set up their ball next to the three attacking players, which left the both the near and far post as attack points. The ball was struck toward the near post with sufficient bend to thwart the goalie's save attempt. Needless to the say the coach complained after the game to the referee that A) the attacking team interfered with his team's ability to set up the wall and B) the attacking players kneeling was unsporting behavior. Was the fact that the defending team could have set up the wall directly behind the kneeling players something the referee should point out to the coach, which would have nullified the both the attackers being where the defenders wanted to be and the kneeling? Or does the referee simply state the defending team has no more right to any particular spot on the field while waiting for the restart than the attacking team? How about the kneeling?

2. An indirect kick was awarded just inside the penalty area where the penalty arc met the top of the penalty area (the spot is just for reference, this situation could apply anywhere). One boy from the attacking team placed the ball where the referee indicated, then was joined by two teammates who stood between the defending players and the ball, conferring with the third attacker, particularly shielding the defending team's view of the ball. While the defense is setting up the wall under the goalie's direction, one boy casually begins to tap his toe into the ground just next to the ball, appearing to listen intently to the strategy for the free kick. He taps the ball lightly, moving it backwards slightly from its resting position. Then two boys turn and wall toward the wall as if moving to a pre-planned position. The remaining attacker then exploded forward, dribbling the ball to a better shooting position and scoring, surprising the defenders. The defenders then expect the referee to award them an indirect kick, but he signals for kick off, indicating good goal. Is this type of concealment UB? Obviously, the referee was watching the entire time and saw that technically the ball was played by two separate players before entering the goal. How much explanation should the ref give to the confused defending team in order to show he was paying attention? Does he explain how the one boy slightly touched the ball, or just state that the ball was correctly played for an indirect kick?

Answer (August 24, 2004):
1. The defending team has no "right" to set up a wall anywhere on the field. Their only "right" at free kicks is to give the kicking team a minimum of ten yards from the place where the ball will go into play. And the coach has no "right" to complain about anything; the coach's only right is to behave responsibly. There is no requirement that players on either team be standing at a free kick. Thus, kneeling is permitted. And yes, the defending team could have placed players for its wall behind the kneeling players on the kicking team.

2. The kicking team is permitted to practice deception of this sort at any free kick or corner kick, where the only requirement is that the ball be kicked and moves. Kicked in this case extends to toe tapping the ball even the slightest amount, but not to stepping on the top of the ball. (This ploy would not be permitted at a penalty kick or kick-off, in which the ball must also move forward.) The play you describe is perfectly legal, provided that the player who dribbles the ball away and shoots on goal is not the same player who tapped the ball to move it from its original location.

In both cases, the defending team did not pay attention to what was happening. The coaches should take plenty of notes and practice defense against such things during the week. There is no requirement in the Laws of the Game that the referee coddle players for their own ignorance.


I am a grade 8 youth referee. Recently I was a spectator at an U-13 boys Class I tournament game where a goal was scored by the Blue team while the AR was holding up his flag to indicate a touch line throw in for the Red team. Apparently the AR raised the flag to indicate that the ball had passed over the touch line off of blue, but neither the players nor the center noticed the flag and play continued for more than a minute with a series of 15 or more touches on the ball by both teams, before the Blue team put the ball in the net. At that point the referee observed the AR signaling that the ball had earlier been out of play. The referee consulted with the AR, disallowed the goal and gave the throw in to the Red team.

Did the referee make the right call in disallowing the goal after the passage of so much time and play?

Does the AR have a responsibility/obligation to hold the flag until the referee acknowledges the signal, or should he/she drop the flag after some reasonable passage of time in the event that play has continued and the referee has not seen or acknowledged the flag?

Can a referee wave off an AR's out of bounds signal if none of the players perceived that the ball had gone out of bounds and play continued? Law 9 does not appear to leave a lot of room for discretion about when play has stopped, but I am aware of many referees who encourage ARs that work their games to allow play to continue unless the ball is clearly out of bounds; the idea being that it is better to allow the game to continue than to stop play for close out of bounds calls. The fact that none of the players were aware that the ball was out of bounds and both teams continued to play without hesitation suggests that this particular call by the AR was of the close variety.

Answer (August 24, 2004):
The 2004 edition of the USSF publication "Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees" tells us that if the referee does not see it, the assistant referee maintains the signal in accordance with the pregame conference. This is a matter that must be discussed and agreed upon among the officials before the game.


The US Women's match against Japan had what seemed to me to be a great example for offside discussion. The camera angle showed Hamm's kick and was looking across from the offside line. Just before the ball was kicked, Japan ran up to trap three of four US players offside. However the ball went to and was played by Boxx, who controlled it and then passed to Wambaugh, who was behind the ball, for the score.

It seemed obvious on stop frame replay who was in and not in an offside position. The only question in my mind is deciding whether or not any of the three who were in an offside position became involved in the play. Every recert class I've taken some always have stories about some situation. While clearly "In the opinion of the referee" applies, it all comes down to what the referee saw. (At a tournament game last season, a fairly clear tripping call wasn't made-the referee had turned momentarily to deal with some inappropriate comments players were making toward one another and turned back to see the girl on the ground. He didn't see it, he can't call it.) However, with a clear viewing angle on the tape that was probably seen my many of our referees, it seems to be a good teaching tool.

Did you see it? If so, could you discuss why they were not involved in the play and why you would have made the same call, or why in your opinion they were involved in the play and the flag should have been raised.

Answer (August 23, 2004):
Wambach and two other USA players were in offside POSITIONS at the moment the ball was played in from near the touch line, but none of them was actively involved in the play. In other words, they had no effect on play and did not interfere with any opponents. Boxx ran in and played the ball laterally to Wambach, who was behind the ball. No offside. Score the goal.


I have recently informed that a Grade 7 now requires an annual maintenance assessment. However, I cannot find the requirement in the Referee Administrative Handbook. If this is a requirement, please provide to me the citation in the Handbook and when the requirement was adopted.

Answer (August 23, 2004):
We assume that this is a requirement adopted by your state referee committee, as there is no national requirement that Grade 7 referees be assessed annually. Please check with your State Director of Referee Assessment to be certain.

The new Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) notes that the state may require one developmental assessment "if adopted by the state." See the bottom of page 19 of the new RAH under annual renewal requirements.


GU10 tournament final. The competition rules state "no slide tackling". The score is Blue 4 and Red 2. Blue is attacking inside the Red penalty area when a Red defender slide tackles for the ball and makes contact with the attacker before making contact with the ball. There is 15 seconds before the end of the second half. I blow my whistle and conduct a penalty kick after time has run out. 5-2. 1) In the USSF advise to referees it states that the referee is to advise the coaches that time has expired. I just pointed to my watch and with palms down made like the safe signal in baseball. Do you blow the whistle 3 times and when? 2) This Penalty kick is treated more like a kick from the mark. Where do you place your AR's? The Advise to Referees says to keep the players on the field, but keep in mind they are already celebrating the victory while I am conducting a penalty kick. 3) This was a good call but given the circumstances what would you do?

Answer (August 12, 2004):
(1) There is no need to advise the coaches of anything in most games, but it is probably a wise idea when dealing with younger players. The Advice to Referees states simply that the referee should announce that time has expired and indicate clearly that the penalty kick is now being taken "in extended time." The Federation and the Laws of the Game leave the signal used to announce that the half or game is over to the individual referee. Lead Assistant Referee - Waits for the referee to begin supervising the restart and then moves quickly to the intersection of the goal line and the penalty area line to prepare for the duties assigned by the referee in the pre-game conference
- If a goal is scored, keeps players under observation and follows the normal goal procedure
- If play continues, quickly resumes the position to judge offside (cutting the corner of the field if necessary) and keeps play in view

Trail Assistant Referee
- Moves up the touch line to near the midfield line and monitors player activities out of the view of the referee
- If a goal is not scored, quickly takes a position appropriate for the next phase of play


In a recent local tournament there arose a discussion in the referee tent on the proper restart after an injury with the goalkeeper in possession. Several very experienced referees had opposing view points. We were all pretty much in agreement that it would be best handled by allowing the keeper to send the ball out of touch and allowing the opponents to throw it back into the keeper but in youth matches this is not always feasible. What do the Laws allow?

Answer (August 11, 2004):
The only restart provided for by the Laws of the Game is a dropped ball. The referee cannot instruct or force any player to play the ball to anyone or any place.


After a substitution, the referee allowed play to restart with one team having 12 players on the field. The AR on the fans side of the field noticed but could not get the attention of the Ref. The team with 12 players attacks quickly and scores to go up 1-0. Prior to the kick-off, the Ref sees the AR, conferences, counts the players and disallows the goal. Restart is a goal kick. The team that has a goal disallowed ends up losing 1-0.

At halftime, the other AR states that the goal should have stood and only a caution issued to a player on the team with 12. The Ref admits this AR was probably correct.

To allow a goal to stand does not seem fair. In addition, to caution a player when the ref allowed the play to restart does not seem the same as entering the field without permission.

What is the correct call?

Answer (August 5, 2004):
Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game for 2004. The restart for all situations in which an outside agent (and that is what the extra player is) takes part is a dropped ball.

The extra player must be removed and cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without the permission of the referee. The referee will apply the advantage or stop play. If play is stopped to administer a caution, it will be restarted with a dropped ball at the place where the ball was located when play was stopped (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8). If the extra player is not discovered until after play has been stopped, the ball is dropped at the place where the player likely entered the field.

In the case of a goal being scored, If the referee realizes the mistake before the match is restarted, the goal is not awarded. The referee should instruct the player to leave the field of play. Play will be restarted with a dropped ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball passed into the goal. If the referee learns of the extra player only later, the extra player is removed but the goal must stand. In all events, the referee must include full details in the match report.


At the website there are a list of questions and answers (as you know). Check out the answer to question 3 in law Vlll.

What am I missing?

Answer (August 9, 2004):
We are not sure why you believe that something is missing in Question 3 under Law 8 in FIFA's new Q&A. The question simply states a fact-that a goal can validly be scored directly from a kick-off-and is likely included because this is a change in the Law from several years back. Before, the Law stated that a goal could NOT be scored directly from a kick-off; now it can. In fact, Question 3 in the original Q&A (published in 1990 and often called just "the green book") stated that, if the ball went into the opponent's goal directly from a kick-off, the restart was a goal kick! The currently correct answer (a goal!) was enshrined in the 2000 version of the Q&A.


In this article
it states that "The restriction applies to ANY player celebrating a goal, not just the player who scored the goal." (referring to the removal of a jersey during the celebration of a goal). Does the restriction also apply to members of the opposing team (the team scored against) who may remove their jerseys?

Answer (August 9, 2004):
Until further instructions are received, the caution would apply to any player who removed his or her jersey after a goal was scored.


I was wondering if a player can get red carded after the game was over and if it is a foul to yell out, "mine", when going for the ball?

Answer (August 8, 2004):
Up until the end of June, a player could be shown the red card after the conclusion of the game, provided that the players were in the act of leaving the field. Now the International F. A. Board and FIFA have made it clear that no one may be shown the card after the final whistle. However, the referee is still expected to provide full details on the incident in the match report.

No, it has never been a "foul" to call out "mine" when going for the ball, but it is misconduct and subject to a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior if, in the opinion of the referee, the player's action was intended to deceive an opponent unfairly. Just calling out "mine" is not misconduct.

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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