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March 2005 Archive (II of II)

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We have children in our league who wear the all-in-one socks and shinguards. In some cases, the shinguard can be removed from a pocket in the socks for washing. Why are these children being required to wear a second pair of socks over the all-in-one socks?

If you look at the item in question it really is two separate items, one item just resides within a pocket of the other. The safety of the children not forsaking, it seems that if the shinguards were separated from the socks and not placed in the pocket then everything would be Þne, since it would then become the two separate pieces on the list of compulsory equipment.

Answer (March 30, 2005):
There is no directive from the Federation requiring an extra sock over the combination stocking/shinguard. If it is clear that the stocking bearing the shinguard is actually a stocking, then there should be no problem. This may be purely a local problem, so you should check with your local referee authorities to see what instructions they have given to the referees.

Referees are taught that the players' safety comes before all else in soccer.


A forward and defender are streaking down the field in an attempt to latch onto/defend a cross they believed was forthcoming. The pass did not come, and both players were running so hard that they ran off the end line before they could stop. The cross then came; the forward had found his way back on the field and was in position to receive the cross, and the defender was still in front of him but off the field. No other defenders were between the forward receiving the cross and the endline. Was the forward offside?

Answer (March 30, 2005):
We are normally concerned about the player who leaves the Þeld to avoid an offside and then re-enters to play the ball, for which that player should be penalized for offside. We are also concerned about the player who leaves the Þeld to put an opponent in an offside position, for which that player is cautioned at the next stoppage of play for unsporting behavior.

If both players have left the Þeld during the course of play-as players are allowed to do for various reasons-and the referee has no reason to suspect subterfuge or deceit on the part of either of them, then there punishment is necessary if one or both return to the Þeld to play the ball.

What is unclear from your question is the number of defenders. As many people forget to include the goalkeeper as an opposing "defender" when they count who stands between the player who is possibly in the offside position and the goal line, this is critical in answering your question.

If the goalkeeper was on the Þeld and in a normal position, then there is no offside, as the defender who left the Þeld during the course of play is still counted, despite being absent from the Þeld. Goalkeeper plus defender off the Þeld equals two opponents between the player in the "offside position" and the goal.

If the goalkeeper was on the Þeld, yet for some inexplicable reason not covered in your question, was well away from the goal line, then the player who returns to the Þeld should indeed be considered to be offside.


A thrower to the AR's immediate left puts the ball in play to a teammate. The teammate plays the ball forward before the thrower has crossed the touchline to reenter the Þeld of play. Upon reentry the thrower is behind the second to last defender, ahead of the ball and in the opponents half and is now interfering with play. Offside or not?

The referee calls a PK. Before the kick is taken the defending coach requests a player swap between the GK and a Þeld player. The referee honors the request and the Þeld player dons the keepers jersey and gloves. In some apparent gamesmanship, the opposing coach immediately claims that the players are no longer uniquely numbered. The defending coach offers to take a player off. Run me through the proper way to handle this situation for future reference.

Do you answer questions about NFHS rules of competition? If so, here goes. A player receives a hard tackle and is booked for his reckless tackle. After receiving the yellow card he calls the ref a "F___in' Idiot" and is disqualiÞed. Must the team play short? Our rules interpreter says, "No". His reasoning is that under the rules of competition, a player must leave upon the receipt of a yellow card and may not return until the team's next substitution opportunity. The team may elect to play short. He thinks that the recipient of a caution, immediately becomes a named substitute as soon as the card is received. His status as a Þeld player ends even before the substitute player is beckoned on to the Þeld. Your thoughts?

Answer (March 30, 2005):
Question 1: For offside purposes the referee cares only where the thrower was in relation to the ball and opposing players at the time the ball was kicked by the teammate (whether on or off the Þeld). If that position was behind the ball or not nearer to the opponents' goal line than the last two defenders (which may or may not include the goalkeeper), then the player cannot be called offside.

Question 2: Pay no attention to the opposing coach, who knows not what he or she is talking about. Worry about the numbers at the next stoppage.

Question 3: Whatever we say regarding high school rules cannot be considered ofÞcial, but common sense and traditional practice argue for this answer: If the player was cautioned and then sent off as part of a continuing sequence, that player's team must play short.

Your rules interpreter would give the Jesuits a run for their money but ultimately has to be faulted for (a) not taking into account the "Spirit of the Game" and (b) not taking into account an equally Jesuitical response that the giving of a caution under high school rules does not automatically and immediately result in the cautioned player being no longer considered a player because (1) until play restarts the referee could always change his mind and therefore the requirement to leave the Þeld is not fully implemented until play is restarted and (2) the cautioned player does not cease to be a player until the substitute is actually beckoned onto the Þeld by the referee.


I have 2 questions related to offside. My Þrst question relates to what should be considered involvement by a player in an offside position. The blue team has a player in an offside position inside the penalty area. Between the two teams, probably 8-10 players are inside the penalty area or just outside it. The ball comes loose to a blue player about 10 yards outside the penalty area who drills the ball into the back of the net. Immediately the assistant referee's flag goes up for an offside. The center referee runs to the assistant referee and asks what he saw. He said there was a player in an offside position and the red team's goalkeeper was directing his defenders to cover the player in the offside position. I was the center referee and decided with this information that the red team's goalkeeper had made a bad decision letting himself be distracted by the blue player and let the goal stand. At half-time, the assistant referee added more information, speciÞcally that the player in the offside postion had been yelling instructions (in a language that I don't speak) to his teammates. As near as the assistant referee could tell, the instructions were being ignored. The question I have is, would you consider the player in the offside position to have been involved? Or is this one of those "you would have to have been there" in order to make the call situations? I am having second thoughts about this and would like your insights.

The second question relates to some terminology that I saw recently in a discussion of offside. The terminology was "passive offside". I've only seen this once. It wasn't deÞned. And it did not have any accompanying guidance like "in the case of passive offside, this is what the referees should do." If this is a concept that we should be aware of, please point me to an appropriate reference.

Answer (March 30, 2005):
The answer to your Þrst question is the one you expected: You had to be there to be certain. The goalkeeper's job is to keep the ball out of the goal, not to direct his defenders to cover someone in an offside position who had absolutely nothing to do with the goal itself. Our opinion: Goal. There was clearly no involvement by the player in the offside position and the assistant referee's reasoning on the "involvement" has no relationship to any of the given deÞnitions for involvement.

"Passive offside" means that a player is in an offside position but is not involved in play. Referees and assistant referees are trained to disregard the presence of any player who is "passively" offside when making decisions, because that player does not meet any of the requirements for active involvement.


1) Substitutes are sitting on the bench and one of them was unhappy about some contact between the opposing players on a few 50-50 balls. The substitute then tells the other substitutes next to him, "Next time we should hit him in the face". I, as the referee, heard it and waited until the next dead-ball and asked "Who said it?". The substitute identiÞed himself and I sent-off the substitute for violent conduct (for his comment). Is what I did correct?

2) At half-time during a youth game, a coach substitutes goal-keepers, then takes his starting GK and put him as a Þeld player for the second half. About 1 minute into the 2nd half, I realize I wasn't informed of theGK substitution. On the next dead-ball I asked the coach if he switched GK's; he admitted he did soand he added that he didn't need to inform me for GK substitutions at half-time because of a FIFA memo which was released in Summer 2004 stating that the ref doesn't need to be informed of it anymore if the switch is at half-time. The tournament director was summoned over to the Þeld and she conÞrmed that FIFA did send out a memoin Summer 2004 and I do not caution both GK's for Unsporting Behavior.Is this correc tabout the FIFA memo?

Answer (March 30, 2005):
1) Your punishment of the substitute might be regarded as a bit harsh. It is one thing to mutter something to one's teammates about harming an opponent and quite a different thing to actually make a direct threat or initiate action against that opponent. A caution for unsporting behavior might have been more in order.

2) We are not aware of any FIFA memorandum of 2004 suggesting that goalkeepers who switch places with Þeld players at halftime not be cautioned. The International Football Association's Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (Q&A), published by FIFA in June 2004, say quite the reverse under Law 3, Q&A 10:
10. A player changes places with the goalkeeper during half-time without informing the referee. The new goalkeeper then touches the ball with his hand in his own penalty area during the second half. What action does the referee take? He allows play to continue and cautions both players for unsporting behavior when the ball next goes out of play.

In addition, the intelligent referee (and assistant referee) had every opportunity before the new period began to notice that there had been a change in goalkeepers.


[A coach/referee writes] My problem comes when I started refereeing select level matches. I see fouls and I call them. What I hear from the coaches and parents (the fouling team) is "You gotta let them play!" It is amazing to me that coaches who are getting paid think that the rules don't apply any more when they play select. I see a player getting an advantage by pulling a shirt and I call the foul. You would think I was making up the rules on the spot the way some coaches react. I have seen flagrant fouls not called in select matches (I was an AR) and asked the referee after the game why they did not call them and the answer was they play a different game at this level.

I guess my question is why is there an apparent change in the way a referee calls the "Laws of the Game" when the competitive level goes up. I have had may referees that do High School and College tell me that it is "just different".

Answer (March 30, 2005):
Experience has shown that as players progress to higher levels of play they expect the referee to allow a bit more contact at each progressive level. That is a good working philosophy for calling the game, provided it is kept in perspective. That does not mean that blatant or vicious fouls of any sort should be allowed simply because the game is being played at the U-14 select level, rather than the U-14 recreational level, or at the U-19 level or the adult level or the professional and international level, rather than at the U-tiny level.

As skills and playing experience increase, players expect the referee to understand the increased likelihood that some violations have become trifling or call for the use of advantage. In either case, while there is no disputing that a foul occurred, the players now have enough expertise, strength, and skill to "play through" the violation. Remember that applying advantage IS "calling the foul" and that deciding something is trifling doesn't mean that the referee can't talk to or warn the player about his behavior. Simply put, all fouls have to be recognized but not all fouls have to be whistled.


Class 1, Boys U14, one team visiting from one state association, the other from the home state association. In the 61st minute of a 60-minute game, (WE were in stoppage time!) one of our players was fouled just outside the penalty box. We lined up to take the direct kick. Our player then kicked the ball which bounced off one of the defenders in the "wall" and went out of bounds over the end line. As we set up to take the corner kick, the referee blew the whistle and signaled that the game was over because time had expired. We asked him how he could possibly end the game without giving us the opportunity to take the corner kick, and his response was simply that "time expired." (In my opinion, mistake #1) Also note that the tournament rules stated 30-minute halves, but nothing regarding stoppage time, injury time, delays, etc. As in other tournaments, unless speciÞcally stated, the referee has the discretion to add time for injuries, delays, etc.

The game ended in a 0-0 tie, and because of the tournament format, we proceeded directly to PKs. After 6 players for each team had shot penalty kicks, the score remained 4-4. The opposing teams 7th player took his shot and was blocked by our keeper. With our 7th player about to take his kick, we had a chance to now win the game. As our 7th player walked up to take his shot, the opposing teams coach walked onto the middle of the Þeld and started saying something to the referee. (Mistake #2) The coach was accusing our player of having switched jerseys and, thus, taking a second penalty kick. There was about a 5 minute delay as referee and assistant referees got together to sort things out. (Our coach said that the opposing teams coach brought on the accusation in order to "ice" our player, much like in the NFL when a time out is called right before the Þeld goal kicker is about to kick a Þeld goal.) The referee then allowed our player to take the kick, which hit off the post and missed. Their mission accomplished. Score remained 4-4.

Their 8th player made his PK, and our 8th player made his (Or so we thought!) After our player made his PK, the opposing coach, once again, said something to the referee. The referee then proceeded to disallow our goal claiming that our player had "stutter stepped" while taking his PK, and did not move in a "one continuous motion" as he went to kick the ball. (Mistake 3) After a heated debate between our coach, the referee, the assistant referee, and a new referee that had been summoned for additional support in the ruling, our player was forced into taking his penalty kick, once again, but, unfortunately, this time he missed. Game over. We lose. As you can imagine, we had spectators yelling at the referees for what the majority thought was a bogus call.

So here are my three questions:
1) Can a referee truly end the game and not allow a team to take a corner kick? .. or how about a penalty kick? ..or a direct free kick?

2) During penalty kicks, can a coach stop the þuid rhythm of the game by making a bogus accusation so as to force the referees to delay the game while they sort things out? Can the coach be ejected? Can a point be taken away? Did we have any recourse?

3) What is the rule on taking a penalty kick in terms of the kickers motion? I've seen professional games where a player hesitates as he's starting his motion to kick the ball. Is this allowed? In the true spirit of the game, should this referee have allowed our goal? If it truly was an infraction, was the referee correct in allowing us to re-take the kick, or should we have lost our opportunity because of the infraction and declared the other team the winners? Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Answer (March 30, 2005):
1) There is no requirement in the Laws that a half (Þrst, second, or any overtime period) must end only while play is continuing. The only restart which must be completed regardless of time elapsing is a penalty kick. The referee is the sole judge of the amount of time remaining in a game. If the referee has added extra minutes to compensate for time lost during the period of play, then he is also the sole judge of when that extra time is completed.

Let it be simply stated: the referee with common sense understands that time will not likely expire when there is an imminent chance of scoring.

2) Coaches are not allowed to interfere in the match at any time. Such activity is irresponsible behavior, for which the coach may be dismissed and removed from the environs of the Þeld. But if the referee did nothing about it, you have no recourse. The referee is the one charged with managing the match.

3) FIFA clariÞed in 2002 that the kicker may seek to misdirect (or feint) at the taking of a penalty kick. USSF, in a memo of October 14, 2004 on this subject, identiÞed four speciÞc actions by the kicker that could constitute misconduct:
- he delays unnecessarily after being signaled by the referee to proceed,
- he runs past the ball and then backs up to take the kick,
- he excessively changes direction during the run to the ball, or
- he makes any motion of the hand or arm which is clearly intended to misdirect the attention of the goalkeeper.

To this list the IFAB (the people who make the Laws of the Game) has added that a player who clearly stops in his run up, as opposed to feinting but not stopping, has infringed the Law.

In such cases, the referee should suspend the procedure, caution the player involved, and then signal once again for the kick to be taken. If the kick has already been taken, the referee should order it retaken only if the ball enters the goal. The player must still be cautioned for his misconduct regardless of the outcome.


I was reading this recent memorandum: and it seems to run counter to what we've been taught about overhead obstructions. I had always believed that when the ball hit something like a tree or overhead wires, it was still in play. However, this memorandum would indicate that play should be stopped and restarted with a dropped ball. Could you please clarify?

Answer (March 30, 2005):
The position paper applies to transient, nonpermanent equipment, such as the skycam, but not to permanent, pre-existing conditions (see Advice to Referees, 1.8), such as overhanging branches, where park districts or schools do not give permission to cut branches, or power lines, which cannot be moved in any way.


I was the AR on a game this last weekend. White is playing Blue. An offside call was blown on Blue while attacking Whites goal. This occurred about 15-20 yards from the top of the goal box. Referee puts his hand up and announces play. The ball was not in the position of the call or in line with the AR on that side of the field (it rolled to the keeper who was back another 10 yards) and the keeper kicks the ball forward (here is where it gets, iffy) to what she believed to place the ball in the correct position. Blue runs and kicks the ball into the goal. Goal was allowed. Was this correct? or should the goal be disallowed?

Answer (March 22, 2005):
The referee should not have allowed play to be restarted until the ball was in the correct position. Disallow the goal. Have the ball put at the correct spot.


In the US vs Columbia game on 3/9/05 Taylor Twellman received a red card for a tackle from behind. Now, if the foul occurred in a formal competition like world cup qualifying or league play then he would have to miss the his next match within that competition. However, the foul occurred in an international "friendly". Is he required to serve a suspension? If so, would it be during the next international "friendly", next international game, or his next game period?

Answer (March 17, 2005):
It is very difficult to supervise the administration of suspensions following international friendly matches. The national association of the dismissed player or team official generally imposes the correct suspension. In severe cases, the confederation or even FIFA may step in.


I have noticed in Europe on cold weather days that professional players have been wearing sliding pants or leggings that cover the whole leg and go under the socks. I was under the impression that sliding pants had to be similar or same in color as the shorts and could not extend beyond the top of the knee. Has this changed?

Answer (March 17, 2005):
The garb you describe is for the safety of the players. The "panty hose"--probably Lycra tights--under the shorts and socks are allowed because of the extreme weather.


The situation is the semifinal in a U-10 select tournament, with a full referee team (center and two certified assistants). A penalty kick is awarded. The referee gets everyone lined up properly, instructs the keeper appropriately, and blows his whistle. Before the kick, one of the teammates of the player taking the shot moves into the arc at the top of the penalty area. The shot is taken and scored, as the spectators (me first I admit with some shame) complain loudly.

Between halfs the referee tells the coach that he didn't require the kick to be retaken because the incursion(5 yards) was "trifling." The assistant tells the coach later that she saw it but it wasn't her place to inform the referee. I think there were two errors here. First, the assistant should always be prepared to catch something the center missed. Second, if this is "trifling" then there is no point in having the rule, because then any incursion is "trifling." (I also think there was a third error: I should have kept my mouth shut; the refs have a hard enough job without a bunch of self-proclaimed experts on the sideline.)

Answer (March 17, 2005):
According to Law 14 the penalty kick must be retaken if a member of the kicker's team enters the penalty area early and a goal is scored.

As to the responsibility of the assistant referee, that is something that is determined in the pregame conference between referee and assistants (and fourth official, if there is one).

As to the third error, referees should know going in that there will be commentary on their perceived performance. Life is hard; we must learn to live with it.

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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