US SoccerUS Soccer

Ask A Referee Update: June 9, 2010


The Guide to Procedures tells us if a goal is scored during the taking of a penalty kick that the lead assistant referee "follows the normal goal procedure". Since the assistant referee would not be in a position to "run a short distance along the touch line", what, if any indication does the assistant referee give to the referee to confirm that a goal has been scored?

Answer (June 8, 2010):
In the case of a penalty kick, the lead assistant referee indicates that the goal is good by moving back to the touchline (to take up a position for the next phase of play -- i. e., the kick-off) and, if it was not good, by staying where he was with the flag held at waist level parallel to the ground.


Law 15: What constitutes "from behind" the head? All of the ball behind all of head? center of the ball behind all of the head? center of the ball behind center of the head?

Answer (June 7, 2010):
While some particularly limber people may be able to position the entire ball behind their head, the rest of us are not that well enabled. The "from behind and over the head" refers to the hands, the means of delivering the ball. The hands must be positioned behind some portion of the back and top of the head before the ball is delivered.

A gentle reminder to all referees (and coaches and players and spectators) who read this: The referee should not go looking for offenses to call. Let the game flow if there is no clear -- let us emphasize that, CLEAR -- infringement that somehow affects the game.


The technical area was marked and extended up to 1m from the field of player. This is permissible in LOTG. However they then erected a temporary shade structure on this boundary. It comprised supports made of 1" box channel made of aluminum steel, pegged to the ground. It was quite solid, and I had concerns a player could easily trip or run off the FOP and collide with it. If so could injure themselves.

While I could write a report to local association of my concerns, at the time what right do I have to have it moved back (say 2-2m) from FOP.

Answer (June 7, 2010):
Law 1 tells us:
Decisions of the International F.A. Board
Decision 1
Where a technical area exists, it must meet the requirements approved by the International F.A. Board, which are contained in the section of this publication entitled The Technical Area.

The Laws of the Game expect that competitions will follow the basic premise of all the Laws of the Game, protecting the safety of all participants. A structure within one meter of the touchline would likely not be considered to be safe for players, team officials, and the officiating crew.


Play is stopped during the routine course of play and in this example the restart is a throw in for Team A. It is discovered prior to the throw in that a team has too many players on the field. The Referee deals with the extra player appropriately and play is restarted with Team A throwing the ball in, regardless if Team A or B had the extra player.

Now change the example and Team A scores a goal. It is discovered prior to the restart that Team A had an extra player on the field (rostered player, not an outside agent). The Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines explains how to handle this situation except for the restart. Play was stopped because the ball left the field of play (below the crossbar and between the posts), not because of the extra player.

I feel the restart should be goal kick because play was stopped due to the ball leaving the field of play over the end line, last being played by the attacking team. The fact that the ball entered the net is nullified by the presence of the extra attacking team member. Is this the correct restart?

Answer (June 2, 2010):
Your reasoning is almost impeccable. The ball was out of play, ostensibly awaiting a kick-off for the goal, when it was discovered that the extra player existed. After the referee has cautioned and removed the extra player the correct restart is a goal kick.


I am asking this for one of our players in our league. I am presently the president of a club in [my state association].

This is for over 30 women division. One of our players wears in the inner lobe of her ear a half circle earring with a small ball on each end and it can only be removed with surgical instruments. It could be easily covered.One referee has refused to let her play while she played before some games with no issues.

Nowadays many younger girls have body piercing and so on .

Question: Would it be less dangerous such an earring than a metal knee brace and what is the rule regarding this kind of earrings.

Thanks for your answer.

Answer (June 1, 2010):
Unfortunately for your player, the rules we play by, the Laws of the Game, are clear: no jewelry

A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewelry).

The rule on no jewelry also applies to items worn as part of body piercings. The only exceptions for "jewelry" are medicalert bracelets and religious items specifically required by the wearer's religion.

Although the referee on any particular game has the final authority to approve or disapprove any item of equipment as to its safety, that decision must be taken within the Laws of the Game which are quite clear on the subject of jewelry. There are only two acceptable reasons even to consider allowing such noncompulsory equipment -- religious or medical reasons -- and even there the referee must still determine that the item meets the Law's safety standard. By tradition and worldwide acceptance, nondangerous wedding bands are also considered acceptable. It does not appear that the item worn by the player in your scenario meets any of the exceptions and so we would expect every referee to be firm in not allowing anyone wearing such an item to be a player.


Please provide the proper restarts for your answers on March 10, 2010 (text follows). I agree the goalkeeper cautioned, and the player or substitute is sent off for DOGSO - handling. In addition, would cautioning the substitute for unsporting behavior also be in the Spirit of the Game?

I believe the restart is a penalty kick if a player on the field exchanged places with the goalkeeper without informing the referee and committed DOGSO - handling, but the restart is an indirect free kick from the place where the ball was when play was stopped if a substitute came on the field and exchanged places with the goalkeeper without informing the referee and committed DOGSO - handling.

I appreciate your clarifications.

Q&A OF MARCH 10, 2010
What would you do if a goalkeeper ran off the field and another player took his place without the referee knowing it during play. Also, the other team shoots and the new goalkeeper blocks it over the goal. Then you realize the keeper change. What do you do?

Answer (March 10, 2010):
We have a problem here with the description of the situation. Was this a "player" who was already on the field in another position or was it one of the substitutes from the bench?

The decision would be easy if it had been a player on the field who exchanged places -- without informing the referee -- with the 'keeper (who then remained on the field): Allow play to continue and then caution both at the next stoppage.

However, based on your description, it seems that a substitute (loosely called a "player") came on the field and replaced the former goalkeeper. The presents the referee with a totally different set of circumstances:
1. The referee's acquiescence was not requested nor given for any substitution or exchange.
2. The goalkeeper deliberately left the field of play without the referee's permission, so he must be cautioned.
3. The new goalkeeper entered the field without the referee's permission and is thus still a substitute who has entered the field without permission and then denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

That places the incident squarely under the sending-off offenses in Law 12: A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits any of the following seven offenses:
* 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)

Therefore, because the substitute is not a player and certainly not a goalkeeper, he must be sent off in accordance with the Law.

Answer (May 31, 2010):
Don't forget that we were dealing with two distinct possibilities in that scenario. We did not know if the "player" was a player already on the field who took over for the goalkeeper or whether it was a substitute who entered without permission.

There are two choices here -- because two persons committed misconducts (there would be no fouls here, and certainly not handling because the player with the keeper jersey has the power of the 'keeper to handle the ball even if he made the swap illegally). What were the offenses? The field player and the goalkeeper each should be cautioned for the illegal swap and the proper time to do this is at the next stoppage, in this case due to the ball leaving the field last touched by the goalkeeper (therefore a corner kick). However, the original goalkeeper also committed misconduct by leaving the field illegally, which is normally an indirect free kick for the opposing team where the ball was when play was stopped. Here, however, the play was stopped for the corner kick and, in any event, it would be more advantageous for the opposing team to retain the corner kick than to be given an indirect free kick. So, caution the field player and caution the original goalkeeper -- a second caution for the illegal exit for the original goalkeeper is consistent with the Law but the referee could decide not to make this a second yellow and thus have to send off the original goalkeeper. Start with a corner kick.

In this scenario, two players have committed five acts of misconduct. The substitute (1) entered the field illegally, (2) illegally changed places with the goalkeeper, and (3) prevented an obvious goal scoring opportunity by handling the ball. The original goalkeeper (4) illegally changed places with the substitute and (5) illegally left the field. The Interpretation tells us, however, that the restart is determined by the illegal entry of the substitute onto the field, no matter what other offenses that substitute may commit thereafter. We also know that, although it would technically be correct to issue a caution for (1) or (2) to the substitute, the real (and most serious offense) was the prevention of the goal. So, send off the substitute for DGH and include a description of his other misconducts in your game report. Caution the original goalkeeper for the illegal exchange of places with the goalkeeper and, as above, decide whether a second caution for the illegal departure from the field would be in the best interests of the game as it would result of course in a red card. The problem here is the restart. Normally, this would be an indirect free kick for the substitute illegally entering the field placed where the ball was when play was stopped Š but play wasn't stopped for this offense, it was stopped because the ball left the field. However, Law 3 tells us that the illegal entry of a substitute doesn't have to cause an immediate stoppage "if the substitute Š does not interfere with play" -- there are few more obvious or serious ways to interfere with play than stopping a ball from going into the net. Accordingly, play should be considered to have stopped when the substitute handled the ball and the opponents should be given an indirect free kick where the ball was when it was handled by the substitute.

Of course, the officiating team would not be facing such challenges if any of them had been more observant and caught the problem at its source instead of allowing it to expand past any easy solution.


While an offensive player is in the offside position a defensive player attempts to clear the ball and kicks a low line drive about 15 yards and deflects off the leg of an offensive player to the offside player who scores.

The offensive player from whom the ball deflects does not play the ball, makes no attempt to play the ball and had no opportunity to play the ball. He was just unlucky that the ball hit him.

Rule 11 says that simply touching the ball is sufficient:
"Committing an Offside Offence A player in an offside position is only penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:"

I've been told by [a senior-level] ref that a deflection by an offensive player is not offside. But Rule 11 says "touches or played." It seems to me that if the rule only said "played" then an offensive unintentional deflection would not be offside. But the Rule 11 has the words, "touches or played." So shouldn't the offensive deflection to a player in the offside position warrant the offside call since the offensive player last "touched" the ball?

Answer (May 27, 2010):
The senior-level referee has his facts wrong. If the ball is played by a defending player and it bounces off one opposing player to another of his opponents who is in an offside position, that player in the offside position is offside because he or she was interfering with play. You will find this information in the Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees 2009/2010, under Law 11.

U.S. Soccer thanks Jim Allen (National Instructor Staff and National Assessor ret., assisted by National Instructor Trainer Dan Heldman, 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); Jeff Kollmeyer, National Instructor, indoor and Futsal; and Ulrich Strom, National Instructor and National Assessor (matters in general).

Submit your questions via e-mail to