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2011 Referee Week in Review - Week 13

Referee Week in Review – Week 13

The Situation: Kansas City and Chicago are tied 0-0 in the 16th minute.

The Play: A player from Kansas City crosses the ball on the ground into the penalty area towards his teammate who is in an offside position and attempts to play the ball but does not make contact. The ball continues rolling through the penalty area where another Kansas City player, who is onside,puts the ball into the net.

The Decision: The assistant referee raises his flag to indicate an offside decision and the referee is alerted almost immediately. Though play continues momentarily, with the Kansas City player scoring what he thinks is a goal, the referee whistles to call offside and waits for the Kansas City team to stop its brief celebration before allowing play to restart with a indirect free kick for Chicago from inside its own box.

My Take: When the attacker moves toward the ball from his offside position, he clearly distracts the opposing team’s goalkeeper. This is an example of a player interfering with the opponent and is one of the three reasons where an attacking player must be penalized for participating in the play from an offside position.

The Laws of the Game: Law 11 provides detail on offside, laying out its definitions and providing detailed explanations of when a player can be considered offside in the course of a game. 

The Situation: Portland and Colorado are tied 0-0 with the game winding down in second half stoppage time.

The Play: As Colorado prepares to take a free kick the fourth official calls the referee to the sideline. After a brief discussion the referee motions for the coach to be removed immediately. 

The Decision: The fourth official has determined conduct in the technical area has continued to be irresponsible, despite attempts to solve the problem with minimal intrusiveness. As such, the fourth official notifies the referee who than approaches the technical area and dismisses the head coach.

My Take: When circumstances permit, referees should use a common sense approach so that the responses of the referee crew match the nature of the bench behavior. When a dismissal is necessary, only the referee has the final authority to remove someone from the technical area.  As we see here, the fourth official notifies and communicates directly with the referee, who then dismisses the head coach from the field.

The Laws of the Game: Law 5 concerns the authority of the referee and lays out guidelines for controlling the behavior of coaches and bench personnel. U.S. Soccer recommends the Ask, Tell and Remove process for dealing with conduct within the technical area.

Ask: If a situation arises where there is irresponsible behavior, an official should ask the person(s) to stop.

Tell: If there is another occurrence where there is irresponsible behavior, inform that person the behavior is not permissible and tell them to stop.

Remove: If the unacceptable actions continue, remove that person immediately.


Michael Kennedy is a current MLS referee and has officiated in the league since its founding in 1996. In addition to serving as a professional referee, he has also represented U.S. Soccer as both a FIFA referee and assistant referee.