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April 2006 Archive (I of II)


In some tournaments that I have ref it was said that the same goal keeper must stay as Goal Keeper during the kick offs.

My questions is What are the restrictions (if any) of replacing the goal keeper at any stoppage of the game?

Answer (March 31, 2006):
According to Law 3 (The Players), an exchange of positions between the goalkeeper and any field player is permitted at any stoppage, as long as the referee is informed. This exchange is not a substitution and is not subject to be changed by any rules of competition (league, cup, tournament). It would be perfectly permissible for an exchange during kicks from the penalty mark to decide a winner of the game.

If you are talking about a substitution for the goalkeeper--meaning that someone other than a player already on the field to take the kicks from the penalty mark would take the goalkeeper's place--that is possible only if the goalkeeper is injured and the team still has an unused substitution remaining.



I had a question about DOGSO-H. In reading a past question from Aug 29, 2005, you state: "There is already a send-off offense for deliberate handling, number 4 under the seven send-off offenses: denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area). It does not require any particular alignment of players for either team, but simply the occurrence of the offense."

To me, this implies that the four Ds don't apply to DOGSO-H. For example, there could be several defenders between where the handling occured and the goal.

But when I read the Advice To Referees (2003), Section 12.40 says "In Diagram 8, an attacker, No. 10, plays the ball and a defender inside the penalty area deliberately handles it. A penalty kick is awarded. The defender would not be sent off, as there were too many defenders between the offense and the goal."

Maybe this statement isn't in the latest ATR document, but I don't have that. I am confused as to whether the four Ds apply to DOGSO-H or not. Could you clear this up for me.

Answer (March 29, 2006):
In fact, the 4Ds do NOT apply to DGH. They are used only for DGF. In the case of DGH the primary criterion is whether, if there had been no deliberate handling, the ball would have gone into the net--in the opinion of the referee, of course. Now it may be that one or more of the 4D criteria might be used in making that decision--for example, if there are multiple defenders between the shot on goal and the goal, the referee could well argue that, in his opinion, any of them could have made a legal save and so it would not be possible to say that, but for the handling, the ball would have gone into the net. Likewise for distance from the goal and, even more significantly, whether the shot on goal was not in fact in line with the goal.

Wow! Someone actually reads the Advice! We will be making an appropriate change in the 2006 update of Advice 12.40.



SCENARIO: General run of play at midfield. CR is at midfield in area of center circle. AR#1 is in defending third even with top of penalty area. AR#2 is even with 2nd to last defender in area of penalty circle. From the penalty circle in the attacking end, attacking player unleashes a shot that hits the underside of the crossbar, bounces down at an angle toward the net with backspin so that when it hits the ground it bounces back toward the field of play. The goalie collects the ball off the initial bounce when standing in the goal area. AR#2 starts a sprint to mid-field indicating he believes the ball crossed the goal line and a goal should be awarded. CR blows a whistle, stops play, confers with AR#2 and awards a goal.

After the game the crew conferred and the CR advised that in that case the AR should have given the "benefit of the doubt" to the goalie and allowed play to continue. He suggested that unless an AR is in position to positively confirm a ball has crossed the goal line a goal should not be awarded.

So my question is, "Should a goal only be awarded when an official can positively confirm the ball has crossed the goal line?" On most goals when the ball clearly crosses the line on route to hitting the net, the issue is clear. But in quick counterattacks or long range shots, it seems that approach gives clear advantage to the goalie over the attacker. If the AR has a sufficiently clear view of the play to gather information to signal the goal and then confidently "sells" the call, shouldn't that be sufficient? Granted, at some time in the future, electric line monitors will eliminate the situation; but in the meantime, who gets the benefit of the call?

Answer (March 28, 2006):
No an assistant referee should make a recommendation unless he or she is positive that whatever is to be signalled actually happened. In other words, the entire ball was wholly across the entire goal line (or, in the case of a throw-in, the touch line), a player in an offside position was definitely actively involved in play, a player committed a foul or misconduct that was not visible to the referee, etc.

Nor should a referee announce a decision unless he or she is certain that what is being announced actually happened.

Unfortunately, your question shows that your hypothetical referee and ARs have not read the USSF publication "Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials," where all the correct procedures for situations like this are covered in detail. There is not enough room to spell it all out in this response.

Almost as worrying as not applying the guidance in the Guide to Procedures is the fact that the referee was in the center circle when a shot was taken from the penalty arc.



Your question:
What is the signal that a ref MUST use to signal that the shooting of a PK can commence, or kicks taken from the penalty mark after the game..

Does is have to be a whistle or a visual signal to the shooter?

Does he have to get a signal from the keeper that he is ready?

I've watched many matches and never see the referee whistle for the kick to commence, and can't tell if he has to get confirmation from the keeper that he is ready before the shot gets taken.

What is the common practice that referees in FIFA matches follow to signal the kick can be taken.

Answer (March 23, 2006):
With regard to taking the penalty kick, the USSF Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials tells us:
- Supervises the placement of the ball
- Identifies the kicker
- Moves to the recommended position
- When the ball and all the players are properly in position, signals for the kick to be taken

There is no standard signal for the kick to be taken. It can be a whistle, a wave, a nod, a brief word, etc.

Nor is there any need to get the "permission" of the goalkeeper for the kick to be taken. The goalkeeper should always be ready for the kick.



The Laws of the Game and the way they are officially interpreted are constantly changing. Back in 2002 and 2005 we answered a question about shielding the ball according to the interpretation of the time. Now, with the latest input, we have revised and refined our answer. This is to make everyone aware of the change in interpretation.

Original question
A free kick has been given. The kicking player (A) kicks the ball only a couple of feet by mistake. He then goes to the ball and, while facing the ball, he shields an incoming opponent (B) from gaining possession. If the ball is at the feet of this player A, can he use his body to shield/impede his opponent from getting the ball? Player A cannot play the ball a 2nd time till it is touched by someone else. So can he really claim "possession" with the ball at his feet when he isn't able to touch it? Or does the rule only require that the ball merely has to be within playing distance of player A while he is shielding - even though he cannot play it?

Answer (February 16, 2005): Despite the fact that A cannot play the ball legally without playing it a second time before someone else has somehow played the ball, as long as A is within playing distance of the ball (i. e., meaning capable of playing the ball according to the Law), then A cannot be impeding. Playing distance is exactly that, a distance, which is determined in practice only by the playability of the ball.

The fact that in this particular case A could not LEGALLY play the ball without infringing the Law does not change the fact that, distance-wise, the ball is still within a physically playable distance. The ball is legally playable-in every way open to any field player-by anyone other than the player who kicked the ball. If A's movement includes holding the arms out and making contact with the opponent as a means of keeping the opponent away, then the player is guilty of holding.
[Note: This answer repeats information given in November 2002.]

Questions have been raised concerning a narrow and rare situation in which the player performing a restart (for example, a free kick or throw-in) moves to shield the ball despite the fact that this player could not make contact with the ball directly without violating the Law (the "two touch" rule). In the past, the answer has been that the player may legally shield the ball as long as it remains within playing distance. This situation is now interpreted differently. Being within "playing distance" should not be considered sufficient to allow the kicker to shield the ball--the ball in fact must also be playable by that player. In other words, the concept of "playing distance" must include being able to play the ball legally.

If the player can legally play the ball and the ball is within playing distance, the player may shield as a tactic to prevent an opponent from getting to the ball (provided, of course, that the shielding does not involve holding). If the player cannot legally play the ball or if the ball is not within playing distance, such shielding becomes "impeding the progress of an opponent" and should be penalized by an indirect free kick.


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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