US SoccerUS Soccer

What Do You Know About the Laws of the Game?


As part of our continuing effort to service and educate our membership, each Thursday U.S. Soccer will provide an informative article from one of its departments. Each Thursday will bring a new article, from the Referee Department (first Thursday of each month), Sports Medicine Department (second Thursday of each month), Coaching Department (third Thursday of each month) or Membership Services (fourth Thursday).

Today, test your knowledge on six questions that deal with the FIFA Laws of the Game. 

WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE LAWS OF THE GAME?

Can you answer these questions?

1. When may cards be shown to substitutes or substituted players?

2. What is the difference between serious foul play and violent conduct?

3. What happens if a substitute enters the field illegally and scores a goal?

4.  When does play actually stop?

5. What happens if the ball goes out of play and a player then "fouls" an opponent in the penalty area?

6. What is the role of the team captain?

The answers to these and many other questions are in the updated edition of "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game," published by the USSF's National Program for Referee Development in 2001.  (Please click here for information on the U.S. Soccer Publication, "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.")

The Advice to Referees contains comprehensive information and guidance on all aspects of the Laws of the Game.  It is divided into two sections, the Advice (and Index), of interest to players, coaches, administrators, referee instructors and referees, and the Syllabus, a teaching tool for any of those groups.  No other national association provides anything comparable in either scope or coverage to the USSF Advice to Referees.

The information in the Advice to Referees is taken from the Laws of the Game, including information still valid but no longer included in the written version of the Laws; memoranda and circulars from FIFA; the Questions and Answers to the Laws of the Game prepared by the International F.A. Board and published by FIFA; and memoranda and other USSF publications.  It is not a replacement for the Laws of the Game, nor is it a "how to" book on refereeing.  It is one of a number of sources of information and presents official USSF interpretations of the Laws of the Game.  Players, coaches, administrators, referees and fans will all find a lot to learn in this document.

Answers to the questions:

1. Cards may be shown to substitutes or substituted players at any time during a match. "During a match" includes:
 (a) the period of time immediately prior to the start of play during which players and substitutes are physically on the field warming up, stretching, or otherwise preparing for the match;
 (b) any periods in which play is temporarily stopped;
 (c) half time or similar breaks in play;
 (d) required overtime periods;
 (e) kicks from the penalty mark if this procedure is used in case a winner must be determined; and
 (f) the period of time immediately following the end of play during which the players and substitutes are physically on the field but in the process of exiting.  (ATR 3.14)

2. It is serious foul play when a player uses violence (excessive force; formerly defined as  "disproportionate and unnecessary strength") when challenging for the ball on the field against an opponent.  There can be no serious foul play against a teammate, the referee, an assistant referee, a spectator, etc.  The use of violence or excessive force against an opponent under any other conditions must be punished as violent conduct.  It is violent conduct when a player (or substitute) is guilty of aggression towards an opponent (when they are not contesting for the ball) or towards any other person (one of his teammates, the referee, an assistant referee, a spectator, etc.).  The ball can be in or out of play.  The aggression can occur either on or off the field of play. (ATR 12.33 and 12.34)

3. If a substitute enters the game without permission and scores a goal, the goal does not count.  Why? If, while the game is in progress, the referee finds that a team has more than the allowed number of players on the field, he must stop play and then remove and caution the extra player from the field.  The person to be removed and cautioned would be whoever was not listed on the team roster as a "starter" or who had not already been formally substituted for a "starter"; in other words, probably a named substitute.  The restart is an indirect free kick at the place where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the special  circumstances described in Law 8).  If a goal is scored by the team that had more than the allowed number of players and the referee discovers this before play is restarted, the goal is not valid and the restart is a goal kick.  If the referee does not discover the extra player until after the kick-off, the goal remains valid and may not be taken away.  The referee must report the incident to the proper authority.  (ATR 3.3)

4. The ball is out of play when it has completely crossed the goal line or touch line, or when the referee has stopped play.  The commission of a "supposed infringement" does not stop play; play can be stopped for any infringement only by the referee's signal.  However, while it is the signal of the referee that announces a decision, play is considered to have stopped when the decision is made, not when the decision is announced. Thus, no act can be considered a foul if it occurs after the referee has decided to stop play (or after the ball has left the field) but before the signal has actually been given.  The referee is the sole judge of when he has decided to stop play.  If the referee is acting on a signal from an assistant referee, the stoppage is considered to have occurred at the time of the assistant referee's signal.  (ATR 9.1)

5.  A penalty kick cannot be given because the ball was out of play.  Thus, no act can be considered a foul if it occurs after the referee has decided to stop play (or after the ball has left the field) but before the signal has actually been given.  The referee is the sole judge of when he has decided to stop play.  If the referee is acting on a signal from an assistant referee, the stoppage is considered to have occurred at the time of the assistant referee's signal.  (ATR 9.1)

6. The role of the team captain is not defined in the Laws of the Game.  He usually wears an armband.  The captain is responsible to the referee for his team, but has no special rights or privileges.  By practice and tradition, certain duties fall upon the team captain:

  • to see that the referee's decisions are respected by the captain's teammates and by team officials;
  • to counsel a teammate who may be reluctant to leave the field at a substitution — but neither the captain nor the referee may insist that the player leave;
  • to represent his or her team at the coin toss to determine which direction the team will attack to begin the game (and subsequent overtime periods) or which team will take first kick in kicks from the penalty mark;
  • to be the team representative to whom the referee must go to obtain the name or names of members of that team who must be withdrawn from participating in kicks from the penalty mark in order to match the size of the opposing team (which has fewer players on the field before or during the kicks from the penalty mark procedure as a result of injury or misconduct)
(ATR 19.4)

 

Hopefully, this article has enhanced your knowledge of some of the rules of the game.  To learn more about the FIFA Laws of the Game, please visit the Referee section of the U.S. Soccer website.

For more information, please contact Carol McGuire, Referee Programs Manager, at cmcguire@ussoccer.org, or 312-528 1241.


×