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November 2004 Archive (II of II)

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Is there EVER an occasion when it is permissable for an UNCERTIFIED individual to be placed on the field as a center or AR (for any age group in any play situation), wearing an official referee uniform and a current referee badge? If so, under what circumstances and if not, what are the consequences to the assignor and/or individual misrepresenting his qualifications?

If this is in fact an offense, what are the consequences to the individual loaning his "badge" out to anyone knowing they are not certified?

Is it ever permissable to "loan" your badge to anyone after being told "mine was stolen, damaged, cannot find it - can I borrow yours". Is their any responsibility to the individual legitimately holding a current badge to verify such comment?

Is there ever a situation where an UNCERTIFIED individual can work as a center or AR during ANY play situation wearing an official uniform without displaying a badge?

What are the requirements to CERTIFIED referees (any class) to safe guard their badge?

These questions are a little redundant, but wanted to make sure I covered all possible scenarios.

Answer (November 29, 2004):
No, an unregistered referee may not wear the U. S. Soccer Federation referee badge. The referee who "lends" such a person a badge is not doing anyone a favor, but is participating in fraud.

According to Section 1 of US Soccer Policy 531-8, Assignment of Game Officials (Former Rule 3040), unregistered persons are not permitted to officiate games played under the aegis of US Soccer.
"Section 1. Registration Required Prior to Assignment
"No one shall officiate as a referee or assistant referee in any match under the sanction or jurisdiction (direct or indirect) of the United States Soccer Federation who is not registered with the Federation for the current year unless that person is a visiting foreign referee who has been properly accredited by his or her national association."

However, according to Section 2 of Policy 531-8,
"Section 2. Unregistered Referee in Emergency
"If, because of unforeseen circumstances, a currently registered referee is unable to officiate or does not appear for an assigned match, a person may then be designated at match time to act as referee in the emergency for that one match."

No referee should ever loan the referee badge or uniform to an unauthorized person to wear in a game. This would be a violation of Item 12 of the Referee Code of Ethics:
"I consider it a privilege to be a part of the United States Soccer Federation and my actions will reflect credit upon that organization and its affiliates."


Are there any sources where I can learn what is pushing and what is not pushing from a foul perspective and when the interpretation according to an official is the determining factor?

I coach in a recreational U10 & U12 age group and of course the exact technical method of a legal charge and when it is excessive is a cause for great contention among officials, coaches, players and parents/spectators. The issue gets more complex when you add the natural tendencies of players to protect or defend themselves or in an attempt to retain/gain possession of the ball.

I am specifically looking for:
A) the definition of a legal/illegal shoulder charge
B) the extent the arms may or may not be used
C) relative to pre-contact, contact and post-contact.

A couple of common examples would be:
A player has possession of the ball and is in movement down the field and notes a defender closing down.
1) Both players make legal shoulder contact (not with excessive violence); both players near side arms are not involved. At some point after legal shoulder contact one player lifts their arm bent 90 degrees at the elbow pushing/lifting/moving the other player away. The defender or original attacker may or may not retain/gain possession of the ball after the arm movement. I am interested in both situations.
2) Prior to legal shoulder charge contact the attacker notes the defender closing down and plays the ball to an outside foot to retain possession and assumes a wider stance while lifting the arms bent 90 degrees at the elbow. The defender makes contact, the attacker does not extend the forearm or hands but maintains the elbows out.
3) Same situation as #2, but after the defender makes contact with the attacker's arms/bodyŠthe defender lifts their arms in the same manner, but under the attackers arms causing the attacker to lose balance.
4) Two players going after a 50/50 ball make legal shoulder contact and fight for position to gain the ballŠ.in the struggle their near side arms are used to gain an advantage in front of the other player. How much latitude should be allowed or is it mainly the official's interpretation of natural movement vs trying to gain an advantage, guessing at the intent, etcŠto determine if a foul has occurred?

There are of course endless possibilities of combinations.

I can not seem to find clear definitions of what is permitted or not and/or guidelines used to determine a foul, or the extent contact is allowed for age specific groups. (i.e. rec vs select vs high school, college, professional) Any guidelines or example references would be greatly appreciated. I try to start each season by giving examples of what a foul is or is notŠalong with a little 'conduct' talk for the parents. But in this caseŠI am not EXACTLY sure on how to interpret the gray areas related to the use of the arms when the intent of the player may not be obvious.

Answer (November 28, 2004):
It is a pleasure to hear from a coach who wants his players to play the game correctly. We join with you in hoping that the referees call the game correctly. These guidelines are what referees are taught to call, but some of us become lazy or complacent as we move along in life, and we tend to think we know it all and don't have to review.

A) There is no other sort of charge than a "shoulder charge"; no hips, no hands, no holds or pushes. A fair charge is shoulder to shoulder, elbows (on the contact side) against the body, with each player having at least one foot on the ground and both attempting to gain control of the ball. The amount of force allowed is relative to the age and experience of the players, but should never be excessive. This is as defined by the referee on the game, not some book definition, adjusted as necessary for the age and experience of the players and what has happened or is happening in this particular game on this particular day at this particular moment. It all boils down to what is best for the referee's management and the players' full enjoyment of the game.

Although often overlooked by spectators, it is important to remember that a player's natural endowments (speed, strength, height, heft, etc.) may be superior to that of the opponent who is competing with that player for the ball. As a completely natural result, the opponent may not only be bested in the challenge but may in fact wind up on the ground-with no foul having been committed. The mere fact that a player fails in a challenge and falls or is knocked down is what the game is all about (and why coaches must choose carefully in determining which player marks which opponent). Referees do not handicap players by saddling them with artificial responsibilities to be easy on an opponent simply because they are better physically endowed in some way.

Fair charges include actions which do not strictly meet the "shoulder-to-shoulder" requirement when this is not possible because of disparities in height or body type (a common occurrence in youth matches in the early teenage range where growth spurts differ greatly on an individual level within the age group). Additionally, a fair charge can be directed toward the back of the shoulder if the opponent is shielding the ball, provided it is not done dangerously and never to the spinal area.

B) The arms may not be used at all, other than for balance-which does not include pushing off or holding the opponent.

C) There is no change prior to, during, or after contact.

You should be able to determine the answers to subquestions 1)-3) from the information above.


A free kick has been awarded either direct or indirect. The kicking team asks the referee to enforce the " ten yard rule." Does the kicking team then have to wait for a whistle to take the kick?

USSF answer (November 24, 2004):
Yes, the team must wait for the whistle or whatever other signal the referee has instructed them to expect. They have asked the referee for a "ceremonial" free kick, and so must put up with the entire ritual.


If a shot on goal deflects off the keeper's hands to an opponent in an offside position, the flag should go up. But if the keeper bobbles the ball, or makes the save and then bobbles the ball, and the player in the offside position pounces on it, is this a new play (no flag) or a continuation of the shot-on-goal play (flag goes up)?

Answer (November 20, 2004):
You are correct in your first statement. However, if the 'keeper bobbles the ball, he or she has not established control or possession and the player in the offside position who becomes actively involved should be called offside. If the 'keeper establishes possession and then bobbles the ball, there is no offside. It is a matter of timing and degree, and the intelligent referee (or assistant referee) will be able to figure it out.


I addressed the subject question you answered in the Update of February 3, 2004. Specifically, I asked whether it was an offense for a player to grab a goal post to gain a tactical advantage. Your answer, in part, was, "As long as the defender does not use the goal post to support himself or keep his arm on it to bar an opponent from getting through, there is no offense."

At our Soccer Referee Association meeting last night, the following game situation was posed and discussed: A corner kick is taken. A defender grabs the goal post and uses it to vault himself up to head the ball away. The defender successfully heads the ball away which otherwise would have entered the upper corner of the goal. The defender does not move the goal itself, does not interfere with an attacker in front of the goal, and does not otherwise commit an offense.

In discussing this game situation, I brought up the Ask a Referee Q & A which I cited above in stating that I believed that the defender's action constituted misconduct (USB) and should be cautioned and the game restarted with an IFK for the attacking team.

However, another member thought that if the ball was, in the referee's judgment, headed into the goal but for the defender heading it away, that such conduct constituted a Sending-Off Offense (denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent moving toward the goal by committing an offense punishable by a free kick or penalty kick) and that the defender should be sent off and a penalty kick awarded.

As to this opinion, two of the three elements of this Sending-Off Offense apparently have been satisfied in that there was an obvious goal scoring opportunity and the commission of an offense punishable by a free kick.

However, the issue is whether or not the element of this Sending-Off Offense requiring that an obvious goal scoring opportunity be denied _to an opponent moving toward the goal_ has been met. In other words, can the attacker taking the corner kick be considered as "moving toward the goal?" As a related question, in terms of the analysis of this element of this Sending-Off Offense, in identifying the attacker moving toward the goal, must it be the attacker who last touched the ball prior to the offense?

Answer (November 20, 2004):
A very interesting question and a point we had not considered before. Thank you for this opportunity.

On the one hand, the Law requires that the opponent, not the ball, be moving toward the goal for there to have been a denial of a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity through an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick. Therefore, despite the fact that the defender committed unsporting behavior by using the goal post as an artificial support, which is an offense punishable by a free kick, the defender has not denied the opposing kicker a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity within the meaning of the Law through this unsporting act.

On the other hand, the Law does not require that the player denied the goal or goalscoring opportunity must have been the last to play the ball, nor that any player on that team have been the last to play the ball. In this case, if the defender had to raise himself high enough to head the ball away through the use of the goal post, it is unlikely that an opponent might have raised himself high enough without that aid to play the ball.

The decision in cases like this must rest with the referee on the spot, as only that referee can judge whether conditions were correct.


Defense plays ball back to goalie, goalie picks up ball,this is an indirect because it is inside 18. The ball is closer to the goal than 10 yd. Where could the defenders stand?

Answer (November 11, 2004):
No nearer to the ball than the nearest spot on the goal line, between the goal posts, yet still on the field.

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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