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November 2005 Archive (II of III)


Regarding the below scenario, and assuming that the ball moved 'enough' to be in play, this tactic seems to be much 'en vogue' currently. Two questions:
1) Do you have any problem with it from a 'spirit of the game' perspective? I don't in general, but in practice I see problems: For instance, what about a player who puts the ball on the arc and then 'adjusts' it with his foot? I would normally consider this to be a 'trifling' infrigement (like a player who tosses the ball onto the field to a teammate for the receiver to take the throwin) but once pandora's box is open, it's hard to see how the defense it to know what a kick is and what an adjustment is. Your thoughts?

2) Does the age of the players make a difference? U10? U9?

3) What would you advise a referee to do if a coach 'pre screens' the tactic to you before a U10 game? That is, comes to referee and says: "We plan to run this play during the game; is that okay with you?"

[The question refers to our answer of 25 October 2005 that at a corner kick a simple tap of the ball is fine, as long as there is some detectable movement.]

Answer (November 14, 2005):
1) The kicking team is always given more leeway than the defending team for deceptive tactics, but adjusting the ball with the foot is not the same as kicking it. (And why would you consider tossing the ball to a teammate to take the throw-in to be an infringement, trifling or not?)

We recommend for your reading this brief article, to be published in the next issue of Fair Play:
The Kick Restart
Dan Heldman and Jim Allen

This is a simple guide for referees-and for the players whose games they officiate-on what it means to kick the ball at a restart.

The first requirement of any kick restart (free kick, penalty kick, corner kick, goal kick) is that the ball be "kicked," rather than merely touched or dragged with the foot, to be considered as "kicked." The foot must be used, no other body part. The second requirement is that the foot must cause the ball to "move" to another place. In other words, as a result of the action of the foot, the ball goes from here to there. A simple tap on the top of the ball, even though it may cause the ball to quiver, tremble, or shake, that does not make that ball move to a new space, is not a kick. Nor is putting one's foot on the ball and dragging or rolling it to a new space considered to be a kick.

Such simple concepts-"kick" and "move"- but difficult to define without being complex, technical, or obscure. The referee has to make the final decision on what is a "kick" and what is "not a kick." This must be based on his or her feeling for the game-what FIFA calls "Fingerspitzengefuehl." The bottom line is that not everything that produces movement of the ball is a kick and thus would not legally put the ball into play in any of the kicking restarts.

2) No, the age of the players makes no difference. It's a hard world out there; they need to learn how to play soccer sometime.

3) If a coach "prescreens" the tactic, the referee should simply thank the coach for the information and state that each incident will be judged on its merit, not on some preconceived notion.


I was just wondering ways on how to deal with coaches that are disrespectful and condescending, basically how do you deal with coaches who yell and scream at you to a point that has crossed the line. I am a grade 9 ref and have encountered this type of coach numerous times, but i have never know what to do if it gets really out of hand. Can you caution or even send off a coach? Can you abandon a match because of a "mean" coach?

Answer (November 14, 2005):
Coaches are expected to behave responsibly. (See Law 5 and Law 3, IBD 2, the only places in the Laws that team officials are mentioned.) The referee's first line of defense (unless the behavior is REALLY egregious) is to warn the coach who is behaving irresponsibly. This is the equivalent of a caution, but no card is shown. Then, when the behavior persists (as it usually does, because most coaches who behave this way fail to understand that they must change their errant ways), the coach is expelled from the field. Please note that under the Laws of the Game, no card may be shown; however, showing the card may be a requirement of the rules of the competition.

Terminating the match generally should be reserved for situations in which the coach, though ordered from the field, refuses to leave (just as one would do in a similar case involving a player).


The score is 3 - 2 in favor of the defending team Z.and there is only 25 seconds left in the game. Player A, an aggressive and fast forward on the attacking team is standing just outside the penalty area because the goalie has picked the high ball out of the air about 10 yards from where player A has stopped his run. All the goalies' other team members were beaten in the breakaway by player A, and are not near enough to mark him. Goalie Z realizing the great threat that player A is, assaults player A with the ball. He runs to a position where he can deliberately throw the ball at player A's head. He succeeds in hitting player A, who is still standing just outside the area, with the ball directly in the nose causing the player A to bleed from the nose. By the time the referee can assess the situation and have player A carried off the field time for the game there is only 3 seconds left on the clock. And team Z has all moved back to defend the goal.

What should the referee do to administer justice and satisfaction for the game?
What is the restart?
Should additional time be added to the clock?

Answer (November 10, 2005):
The correct restart, once the goalkeeper has been shown the red card and sent off for violent conduct, is a direct free kick from the place where the ball hit attacker A.

The referee is the sole judge of the amount of time remaining in any period of play. Surely the referee will exercise common sense and consider the Spirit of the Game in determining how much time to add.

There is little else the referee can do to "administer justice and satisfaction" for the attacking team. Doing anything other than what is listed in the previous two paragraphs would be counter to both the Laws and the Spirit of the Game.


1. I need clarification. During a recent match, I was checking in the players. One player had a sling on her shoulder. I asked her if she was under a doctor's care. She said she had seen a doctor about 1 and1/2 months ago for a tendon problem in her arm and so she wore the sling to stabilize/protect her arm/shoulder. She said she could play with the sling on. I told she could not play with it on. She said I could take it off, but "I might get hurt." I then told her that I would like to see a medical release from the doctor giving clearance to play. She couldn't and I told her she could not play. The coach went on to say that other officials allowed her to play in the past 6 weeks. I just did not feel comfortable with her playing as safety is my first concern for the players.

Seeing how other players were knee braces, etc., how do we handle medical conditions that seem apparent and when the player gives us more information that makes us feel even more uncomfortable about their status?

How do we also handle coaches and parents that say their players can play? What are the liability issues involved?

Guidance would be appreciated!!!

2. As the our district referee director I have been asked about the following situation and to advise the District Board of Directors on what the correct procedure would be. I have not been able to find anything that is clear on what should/could have been done. Was the referee correct? I think that he has the authority to disallow an unsafe situation, at the same time I think he may not have been wise in the decision that he made. Please provide some direction. Thanks.

The following is part a letter from the mother of a U-12 girls team member:
My daughter collided with another soccer player in a game a month or so ago. I took her into [a doctor] a few days later. He x-rayed her collarbone. She did not break it. She pulled some tendons in the lower part of her collar bone. He told her not to lift her arm above her head, or pull it way back behind her for a few weeks. He also told her that she could wear a sling to help support her arm and keep it from going too far back. My daughter asked him at that time if she could play soccer. He told her that he felt she could, as long as she would take herself out of the game, if it started to bother her a lot. I kept her out of the next two games, just as a precaution. She started back playing with her sling, and played 6 games with the sling. We didn't have one referee tell her that she could not play with the sling.

On Monday, my daughter rode to the soccer game with her coach. I was about 5 minutes late to the game. When the girls went to show their cleats and shin guards to the referee before the game, the referee asked my daughter if she was planning on playing in the game. She said yes, and he then told her "not anymore, you are not." My daughter didn't even realize why he had said that. She had no idea why he had told her that. She went and told her coach and he went and asked him why. [The referee] told [the coach] that it was because she had an injury and that he wouldn't be held liable. [The coach] tried to explain to him that my daughter had played the last 6 games with the sling and that it she was just wearing it for support. She also told him that she could take the sling off, if he wanted. His only reply was that she is not playing. By this time, my daughter was crying.

When I arrived the coach and my daughter explained to me what happened. I called [the referee assignor] during the first half of the game and explained to her what was going on. She told me that she had no problems with her playing in the game, and that I should talk to him at half time and explain the extent of her injury. When I tried to talk to him at half time he was very hard to talk to, and unwilling to even listen to me. I did tell him that I had talked to [the assignor]. I also asked him why the referees in the last 6 games did not have a problem with her playing. Our coach had a copy of the waiver that I had signed at the beginning of the season stating that I would be responsible for any injury, or even death that may happen during a game, and that the referee could not be held liable. The coach for our team and the coach for the team we were playing both tried to talk to him and explain to him that a support for her arm was no different than a support brace for a knee. There were several girls on both teams wearing knee braces.

I felt he was very unwilling to communicate with us or give us a real valid reason as to why she could not play. I do not understand why a player can play with a knee brace, for support, but cannot play if she is wearing a sling, for support. The rules should really be the same for any player who is playing whether it be with a sling or a knee brace, or an ankle brace, etc. Both teams left that game with a bad feeling. The parents and the coach on the opposing team were as shocked as I was. They were very helpful and supportive. In fact, the coach on the other team asked [the referee] what it would take to be able to let this little 12-year-old girl play her last game. Again, his only reply was, she is not playing.

Answer (November 9, 2005):
As long as the provisions of Law 4 regarding player safety are observed, the referee has no authority to tell a player she cannot play with a sling on her shoulder. If the player uses the sling to control the ball or for other illegal purposes, the sling comes off or the player goes--after being cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior.

If the referee simply enforces Law 4, the player and her parents assume all responsibility for any further injury.


A recent question on a referee test has me confused:
Time has been extended at half-time or full-time for a penalty kick. The ball strikes the crossbar, deflects down and bounces off the goalkeeper, who is on the field of play, and goes into the goal. According to LOTG 2005, page 45, this is a good goal.

Is the result any different if the goal keeper is farther away from the goal line? The test (and the answer presented as correct) indicates no goal if the ball strikes the keeper (and deflects in) out past the goal area line.

Answer (November 8, 2005):
The question you inquire about is number 97:
97. The game has been extended to allow for the taking of a penalty kick. The kick, correctly taken, rebounds off the crossbar and deflects off the goalkeeper, who by this time is six yards from the goal line, and into the goal. According to the Laws of the Game, a goal should be awarded.
a. true. b. false.

The answer to this question is true, under both the Laws and Q&A and on the test key. Occasionally an instructor will change the keys to the answers provided by the Federation at a clinic based on his or her "superior" understanding of the question.


Player A of the attacking team and Player D of the defending team are playing the ball they both go over the end line while playing the ball. The ball cleared out to around the 18 yd line. Player D falls down and rolls further off the field. Player A gets up and runs back onto the field.

The goalkeeper is in the goal area and Player A is outside the goal area. Player D is attempting to get up.

Player A1 (attacking team) passes the ball forward to Player A who is standing alone. Player D runs back onto the field after the pass and the shot is saved.

Please explain the rule and recommended Referee and AR positions and responsibilities.

Answer (November 7, 2005):
Players A and D went over the goal line during the course of play. D then fell down and struggled to return to the field, returning only after the pass from A1 to A. Provided that A was NOT nearer to the goal line than the defending goalkeeper,in which case A would be in an offside position, there was no offside and there is no decision to make. Defenders legally off the field in the normal course of play, who are not being restrained by an opponent from returning to the field, are counted in determining who is the second last defender just as though the defender were on the closest part of the goal line.

The referee should be in such a position that he or she can see the ball and where play will go, is out of any space that the players need, and can see the AR. The AR should be in line with the ball or the second last defender, whichever is nearer to the goal line.


In a recent game a shot on goal was stopped by the goalkeeper, but the ball was still bouncing on the goal line. As the goalie tried to possess it he pushed the ball completely over the goal line but the referee could not see the ball went in. Fortunately, the Assistant referee on that end was on the goal line and saw the ball was in. The Assistant sprinted up the touchline, but did not raise his flag to show the referee that the ball was out-of-play before he ran. The referee was confused, and did not react to the assistant's run as it appeared all he was trying to do was get back in position for offside. Should the Assistant have raised the flag FIRST, to tell the referee the ball was out, and THEN after the referee blew the whistle - sprint up the touchline to indicate a goal was scored? A chocolate malt rests on your interpretation.

Answer (November 5, 2005):
Here is the answer, straight from the USSF publication "Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials," 2005 edition:
Lead Assistant Referee
* If the ball briefly but fully enters the goal and is continuing to be played, raises the flag vertically to get the referee's attention and then, after the referee stops play, puts flag straight down and follows the remaining procedures for a goal
* Runs a short distance up the touch line toward the halfway line to affirm that a goal has been scored
//rest deleted//


At the end of a youth soccer match a player from Team A deliberately and aggressively moves toward a player from Team B with the clear intention of starting an altercation. The player from Team A states that he is going to "kick his a**". The player from Team B allegedly called him a "*itch" during the game. The Coach from Team A [B is correct] witnesses the incident and moves to intercede by approaching the player from Team A. The other players from Team A were also trying the restrain the player from Team A with little success. The Coach from Team B places his hands on the shoulders of the player from Team A, turns the player from Team A away from the area and marches the player from Team A back to the Coach from Team A. The Coach from Team A then tells Coach B to "keep his hands off his players". Coach A had made no effort to intercede in the altercation due to his proximity on the field.

My questions are:
1. Was it appropriate for the Coach from Team B to intercede the player from Team A?
2. Was it appropriate for the Coach from Team B to touch the player from Team B by physically restraining him and them physically move him back to the Coach from Team B?
3. What amount of force is reasonable to prevent an altercation of this type?
4. Are there any written guidelines from any governing bodies that specifically address this type of situation?

Answer (November 4, 2005):
A team official is expected to behave responsibly. The obligation of the referee to act in this area ends at the same time as it ends regarding the players, at the conclusion of the match, except in very limited circumstances. The referee may decide to include information about the dispute in the match report but, otherwise, it should be up to the coaches to file complaints with their respective leagues or organizations if they feel another coach or team official has behaved incorrectly.


What is the definition of the penalty area ie, when is the goalie considered out of the box. Is this an imaginary line straight up from the line? A goalie coming to line to clear a save got called for a hand ball because "as she was preparing to kick it, she put the ball out over this imaginary line". She did not step over the line until after the kick and the ball never touched outside of the penalty area.

What is the correct ruling here?

Answer (November 4, 2005):
The correct reasoning in this matter covers two areas, one is the geography of the field, the other is the discretion of the referee.

According to Law 1, the lines belong to the areas they bound. Thus, the lines marking the penalty area (the goal line, the two lines perpendicular to the goal line and 18 yards out from the inside of the goal post, and the 44-yard long line located parallel to the goal line and 18 yards out from it) are part of the penalty area. These lines extend upwards as far as is necessary, just as do the touch lines along the sides of the field. A ball that is within the vertical plane of the penalty area line is in the penalty area. It makes no difference where the goalkeeper's hands are at the time of touching this ball--they can be inside the area of outside the area. What is important is the location of the ball itself.

The goalkeeper is expected to release the ball from her hands within the penalty area, but may kick it with the foot even though she has stepped outside the penalty area. The referee is the only person on the field who can decide where this happened. (The referee may sometimes ask for the opinion of the assistant referee on the touch line.)

However, you might also wish to consider the offense doubtful or trifling. Who is to say that, in the process of punting the ball, there was or was not a moment when full hand contact with the ball was made while the ball was wholly outside the penalty area? Even if this is the case, we whistle only if the offense is not trifling. As long as the 'keeper was actively releasing the ball into play and was not gaining an unfair advantage, so what?

As a rule, the intelligent referee will allow a goalkeeper to kick the ball even if she has released it just outside the line, but will speak firmly and quickly with the goalkeeper about remaining with the area while still holding the ball in her hands. If the offense occurs a second time, then the referee should punish it.


I would like to know if Law 4 permits jewelry this the referee regards as safe given the circumstances. For example, can a 10-year-old girl in a recreational league wear a post earrings if they are a small?

I have read position papers dated 10/29/01, 3/7/2003, and 3/17/ 2003. Both papers which refer to jewelry refer to "Additional Instructions for Referees..." in the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 Law of the Game publications. The language they quote is different than the language at page 63 of the 2005-2006 manual. The present language says "players may not wear any kind of jewelry, which is dangerous... If it is dangerous, it must be removed..."

If it is still the rule that no jewelry except religious jewelry or wedding bands can be worn, I'd like to know how one explains the present language at page 63 which clearly implies jewelry could be worn if it is safe.

Answer (November 4, 2005):
Your reading of the language on p. 63 is incorrect. The phrase "which is dangerous" means that jewelry in and of itself is dangerous. It does not mean that only jewelry that is not dangerous may be worn.

That means that NO JEWELRY may be worn.


NOTE: Two players ask about a recent game in which the referee committed several egregious errors and then manufactured a misleading match report.
1. I have question regarding re-starting a game after an injury. While playing a game at the weekend, a player on the opposition was injured. While he lay on the ground our team kicked the ball out of play so that he could receive attention. After he was carried off the field their goal-keeper went over to see the injured player. While he was off the field , their player restarted the game by throwing the ball back to us, unaware that his goal keeper was still off the field and some way from his goal.

We then went to their end and scored a goal. The referee indicated a goal, but then their team surrounded him insisting that they were not ready to re-start even though it was one of their players that re-started the game, the referee agreed with their protests and disallowed the goal and resumed play with a throw-in.

My question is was this a mis-application of the rules by the referee? It was their decision to throw the ball back in, (the referee had blown his whistle to allow play to be resumed) the fact their player did not notice that their goal -keeper was not in position is irrelevant. Am I correct?

2. I play in [a] men's league affiliated with the USSF. I've checked your archives, and there are some intresting and unique situations, but I have yet to find one to rival the one I'll tell you. The incident happened this past Saturday, I'll explain as precisely as possible...

For simplicity, let's say the teams are called "A" and "B".

Team B had an injured player deep in team A's half---no penalty, and team A kicked the ball out of bounds out of sportsmanship. The injury was rather severe, and took 3-4 minutes before the injured player was carried off the field. Once he was off, TEAM B threw the ball in back to team A Left Back (sportsmanship) along A's left wing, still very deep in their own end, and play resumed as normal (or so we thought) A's Left Back passed to the Left Wing, who dribbled past two men toward the net. The LW scored the goal on a surprisingly empty Team A net, to tie the game. It turns out the goalkeeper was assisting the injured player (on the other end of the field), and had not yet recovered back to his goal in time (He was at the 18 when the goal was scored). The referee called it a goal, which was met with the protests of ALL of TEAM B. The entire team surrounded the ref and yelled, but for about 3 minutes, the referee stood by his decision. Then, one player on B went to the linesman to talk. The linesman then called the ref over, and after a minute of talk, the goal was disallowed, and play was restarted (after thorough protest from Team A) at the throw-in which already occurred about 50 seconds before the would-be goal! The ref gave as the reason for the overturned goal "sportsmanship". The kicker is that the ref, upon leaving the linesman, picked up the ball and very slowly walked right through the center circle. You could hear both teams collectively hold their breaths as he walked to the center with ball in hand, and then kept walking to the sideline on the left side. As soon as his feet crossed past midfield, Team A did the exact same thing as Team B did when the goal was originally called. If it didn't affect my team so negatively, I would actually think it was comical how this whole thing turned out.

Here are the bottom lines that confuse me the most with this call:
1-Everyone was ready--the Refs, Team A, and Team B with the exception of the goaltender
2-TEAM B was the one to throw the ball in, Not A. So, isn't it their own fault for restarting play when their own keeper was unready?
3-The ref called a goal, and after 5 minutes of very intimidating arguments by Team B (containing MANY LARGE, aggressive players), the ref overturned his call in favor of "sportsmanship"--the linesman was the one to convince the ref to change his call. (The other linesman had NO part in making the decision)
4-play restarted at the throw-in that had already occurred, in essence erasing about one minute's worth of soccer in which, until the goal was actually scored, 24 of 25 people (including 3 officials, minus team B keeper) on the field were playing as if nothing were out of the ordinary.
5-the play would have resulted in the left wing going 1-on-1 with the keeper, if he was there. So we should completely erase that goal AND the incredible scoring opportunity A generated simply because the goalkeeper wasn't prepared--even though HIS OWN teammate was the one who restarted play??

I think I should also say that prior to the throw in, the referee blew his whistle signifying the resuming of play.

That about sums it up. Thank you so much for your time. We are currently looking into protesting the result of the match, so your expedient response would be GREATLY appreciated!

Answer (November 4, 2005):
First the answer to the questions asked by two different people. This will be followed by an excerpt from the referee's match report.

There is no requirement that the goalkeeper be on the field of play at any particular moment during the game. As the goalkeeper's team restarted play without him there, this would appear to have been a misapplication of the Laws by the referee who took away a legitimately scored goal.

The referee's misapplication of the Law occurred AFTER a correct application (recognizing the goal). The two accounts are remarkably consistent with each other in all important points. Of course, the real bottom line question is, did the referee have the power to do what he ultimately did? Yes, because play had not restarted (a kick-off). Did the referee have a basis in the Law (much less the specific reason he gave)? No.

The referee's report differs from that of the questioners: "At the 88th minute of play, one of the [Team B] players was injured in the [Team A] keeper's box. The ball was played out of bound. The player was treated and subbed out. The ball was thrown into play by Team B while trainers were still on the field and AR were managing the substitution. In addition, [Team B] goalkeeper was in the [Team A] half of the field. In three quick plays the ball was in the net of [Team B]. The goal was disallowed for the restart did not take place with the referee's approval."


This incident occurred to one of my referee friends at a BU12 challenge game. The attacking team crossed the ball into the PA. It was deflected into the air by another player, and was coming towards an attacker within the GA. The attacker had his back to the goal and was waiting for the ball to land at his feet, except it never got there - the goalkeeper came up behind the attacker, reached around him with both arms (one on each side), and caught the ball in the air. Freeze time here - the attacker is standing with his back to the goal, with both his arms at his sides. The goalkeeper is behind the attacker, with one arm on each side, and has caught the ball in front of the attacker, at about waist/chest level. The goalkeeper made little to no contact with the attacker in the course of catching the ball.

Was the play by the goalkeeper legal? If so, what are the attacker's options at this point? What are the goalkeeper's options?

Answer (November 4, 2005):
No, as you describe it, the play by the goalkeeper was not legal. While it may seem extreme, the correct call is holding and restart with a penalty kick.


I was the Center Referee in a BU17 match last week where we had was an interesting miscommunication.

My ARs were both teenagers, and I had never worked with either AR before. Both seemed to be doing very well.

Mid-way through the 2nd half, Red R1 took a throw-in within 10 yards of the goal line, on the half Red was attacking. The throw was taken on my side of the field, where I was roughly even with R1 and just inside the penalty area.

Red player R2 received the throw-in. He was near the goal line on my side of the field, and just inside the goal area. R2 was clearly in offside position. The high, arcing throw was slightly beyond him, but he one-touched the ball off his outstretched and elevated foot to a teammate who was directly in front of the goal.

At this point, my AR raised her flag straight up and stationary. I looked at her, and she brought the flag down to the horizontal. I thought to myself, "The ball came directly from a throw-in; offside is not in force." I waved her off. She looked surprised, but lowered the flag and immediately re-engaged in play. The ball was eventually cleared beyond midfield.

After the game, I asked her about the call. She said she was signaling ball out (flag up) and goal kick (flag horizontal), because she saw the ball cross the goal line before R2's kick brought it back in. She clearly had the position for that call. She seems to have signaled the call correctly.

The signals for goal kick on a quick in-and-out, and for offside with a restart near the center of the field, seem identical in this situation. But there may be something subtle that I am missing. I'd like to know how other Referees make the two signals distinct, so that my partners and I can do better next time.

Answer (November 4, 2005):
Your AR gave precisely the right signal for a ball out of play over the goal line and back in again--and for offside. As there might some confusion between the two signals, it is probably wise to discuss this in your pregame conference. This will allow you to ensure that it doesn't happen again.

P. 19 of the Guide to Procedures says for Offside:
Lead Assistant Referee
- Raises the flag vertically
- If the referee misses the flag, stays at attention with the flag raised until the defense gains clear possession or until a goal kick or throw-in is awarded to the defense
- After making eye contact with the referee, indicates the location of the offense by dropping the flag at an appropriate angle to a point in the field (far, middle, near side)

P. 20 of the Guide to Procedures says for Goal Kick:
Assistant Referee
- Points flag horizontally toward goal area if ball crosses assistant referee's side of the goal line or if referee makes eye contact to ask for assistance
- If the ball passes out of play and immediately returns to the field, signals with a vertical flag until acknowledged by the referee, then points flag horizontally toward goal area

These are indeed very similar mechanics for two different situations, where the distinction between them usually depends on what is covered in the pregame, the knowledge/skill level of the officials, and the extent to which they are used to working with one another.

The way to distinguish them depends on making one or both of two observations. First, was there any possibility of an offside? If not, then the AR's actions have to indicate a ball off the field across the goal line last played by an attacker but back on the field and still being played. Second, if there was an offside possibility, then the referee looks at the AR's position. If the AR is up from the goal line, then the referee will assume the signal is for an offside because it is highly unlikely that the possible offside would be right on the goal line. If the AR is right on the goal line, then the referee would assume that the AR has (properly) followed the ball all the way down to the goal line and is therefore NOT signaling an offside.

If all the fates have conspired against you and there is an offside possibility (an attacker is right on the goal line) and the AR is right on the goal line, then take your best guess and rely on the AR to inform you that you were setting up for the wrong restart (whichever it was) -- i.e., if you incorrectly called an offside when the real problem was the ball leaving the field, the AR would simply inform you that you should be restarting with a goal kick instead of an indirect free kick.

The key element here is trust.


My son is a young referee in our small league he is level 9 certified and as in his usual dress prides himself in wearing the "proper uniform" which as he was instructed by his assignor is yellow shirt, black shorts, socks and shoes. In our league this has been the standard for the 12 years I have been involved. Recently one of the associations who wears yellow/navy as a jersey has 1 team who has been really pushing the referees to change their shirts or throw a penny on. This is a U12 team and my son while young is 5'9" 160 pounds so he obviously doesn't look like the girls. I was really just trying to get clarification on exactly whose responsibility it is to change. We have quite a few young refs who have all made the initial investment in the required uniform and this coach is pushing the issue so hard it is to the point many may not need the one they have because they probably won't be back. I have taken the extra step and purchased him another color but my question really is can or should the coach of a recreation team be allowed to dictate what a certified official can wear. I have read all I can find on the subject and the closest I can find is "If the uniform colors worn by a goalkeeper and the referee or by a team (or both teams) and the referee are similar enough to invite confusion, the referee must attempt to have the goalkeeper or the team(s) change to different colors. If there is no way to resolve the color similarity, then the referee (and the assistant referees) must wear the colors that conflict least with the players." Any insight you could give would be appreciated. I may be biased of course but I think he does a good job and in years to come will grow to be a great official. I just hate to see him quit because of something that may should not be allowed.

Answer (November 3, 2005):
The IFAB's Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, usually called the FIFA Q&A, was changed this year. Now the teams must change--but the intelligent referee will use that intelligence in these situations to avoid major problems. Here is the appropriate citation from the Q&A, Law 4, Q&A 2:
2. According to Law 4, the players of each team and their goalkeepers must wear jerseys or shirts of different colours to distinguish them from the other players. Must the referee and the assistant referees wear clothes with different colours to the players?
No. The players and goalkeepers must wear clothing that distinguishes them from the referee and assistant referees.


Team A attacking goal shoots on goal. Ball skips along and ball stops short of goal mouth near the left post closest to my diagonal. Defender for team B attempts to clear the ball sliding to put it out of play, in doing so right foot makes contact with goal post. Ball is now between the legs of defender and now the goal has moved off the end line(by the defenders foot) one and a half feet ball still in play. Attacker has closed in on situation now obstructing my view of the ball. I look across the field of play to AR2 as the flag goes up. Whistle is blown to stop play , no movement to signal goal by AR2, but the ball is now in the back of the net. Defender is injured during the play, I beckon for the trainer and walk over to AR2 for more information. AR2 informs me that the ball went over the end line then into the goal now well off the end line.

I walk away with information gathered as injured player is being attended to I inform the other players that we will restart with a corner kick. As the defender was last player to touch the ball as it went over the end line.

I caught a little grief for this decision but this was what was going through my mind (HOCKEY, when the net is dislodged, face off) so either
A: The goal was no longer on end line thus not a regulation field of play, dead ball which would mean drop ball at the top of the 6 and play from there?
B: Which what was my decision, since I could not see the ball due to my obstruction and with the information I had that the defender was the last player to have possession as they cross over the end line so corner kick?

Did I make the right decision? I may see this coach again in the near future and would like to give an explanation of what I should have done. HE respected my decision then but felt he should have been awarded the goal.

Answer (November 3, 2005):
If the referee is unable to confirm exactly where the ball left the field and who played it out, the correct restart would be a dropped ball at the place on the goal area line parallel to the goal line that is nearest to the last confirmed "sighting" of the ball.

As to the movement of the goal, the fact that it moved suggests that the referee and assistants did not perform their pregame duties very well. They should have had the goals anchored down by the people responsible for the field.


This situation took place at a game that I was watching. Team A was just awarded a PK. Team B had a rather small Goalkeeper, and before the kick was taken, wanted to switch keepers. This was permitted by the referee. This caused a large amount of yelling from the fans of Team A. Is this legal under the Laws of the Game to switch the goalies?

Answer (November 3, 2005):
Let's start by saying that "fans" usually don't know much about the Laws of the Game, but they sure know what is "right" for their team. Yes, this is permitted. It is not a substitution, but simply an exchange of positions between two players on the field. It requires only that the referee be NOTIFIED, not that he or she gives permission.

The "fans" may have been upset because the rules of some youth competitions limit the opportunities for substitution, and "fans" and even some referees seem to regard this as a substitution, despite the fact that it is clearly described in Law 3 as NOT a substitution, but an exchange of positions.


Question one: In a U10G match, (I was CR) my AR raised his flag while an attacking team member and defender were fighting for the ball in the defenders penalty box. When I stopped play for the raised flag, he indicated, before I had a chance to get over and talk to him, by moving his elbow, that the defender had fouled the attacker. While I did not see the foul myself, I felt I had little choice but to proceed to the penalty kick since "everyone" saw him make the "elbow" indication, and giving him the benefit of the doubt, he was in a good location to notice an elbow foul. So, I ruled a foul and proceeded to a penalty kick. My first question is: Do you think I handled that appropriately or, could I still have gone over to him and talked with him and possibly overridden his call since the ensuing penalty kick would almost certainly have decided the game and in my opinion, the foul was not a hard foul?

Question two: During the ensuing penalty kick, the kicker, started her run then stopped (paused), then completed it and scored the goal. The goalie stood still and did not seemed to be "faked out" by the start and stop of her run. Also, I did not feel the kicker started and stopped her run for the purpose of faking out the goalie. I felt she stopped her run because of her youth and inexperience and just "miss-stepped" when she began her run. Of course, the coach from the defending team was very upset that I allowed the ensuring goal from the penalty kick, which did end up being the game winner. My second question is: Does the referee have the responsibility/authority to judge the intent of the player when the player starts, then stops his/her run on a penalty kick? Or, is it simply a matter of if the player starts and then stops his/her run, the penalty kick is not allowed? If the answer is the latter, how would I restart play?

Answer (November 3, 2005):
1) You should have reminded the AR of the correct signal for a direct free kick foul committed in the penalty area by a member of the defending team, as described in the USSF Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials, p. 37:
Assistant Referee
- Determines that the direct free kick foul by a defender inside the penalty area was not seen by the referee and that, per the pregame conference, the referee would likely have stopped play for the foul if it had been seen
- Signals with a flag straight up
- Upon making eye contact with the referee, gives the flag a slight wave
- If referee stops game, assistant referee begins walking toward the corner flag
- Takes the appropriate position either for the penalty kick if confirmed by the referee or for the next phase of play if the referee orders a different restart

In other words, if it was a foul that you could see, the AR should have kept the flag down in the first place. In addition, all input from an AR is subject to the decision of the referee. The first moment of decision is whether to stop play upon seeing a flag from the AR. The second moment of decision, if play is stopped, is determining the proper restart based on an evaluation of the offense. Once the first decision to stop play is made, the only recourse if the input from the AR is not accepted at all is to announce that the stoppage was in error and then to restart with a dropped ball.

We do not decide to call or not to call a penalty kick because a possible resulting goal could "decide the game." That is specious reasoning and the coward's way out of resolving game situations. We call penalty kicks because they were direct free kick fouls, committed in the penalty area by a member of the defending team.

2) The principle behind the prohibition on some forms of feinting is that of wasting time. Referees should watch for the sorts of feinting described in the position paper of October 14, 2004, but should not consider all deceptive maneuvers to be a violation of Law 14 or of the guidelines on kicks from the penalty mark in the Additional Instructions. They should ensure that the run to the ball is initiated from behind the ball and the kicker is not using deception to delay unnecessarily the taking of the kick. The kicker's behavior must not, in the opinion of the referee, unduly delay the taking of the kick in any feinting tactic. Others would include changing direction or running such an an excessive distance such that, in the opinion of the referee, the restart was delayed; or making hand or arm gestures with the intent to deceive the kicker (e .g., pointing in a direction).

The referee should allow the kick to proceed. If the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken. If the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts the match with an indirect free kick to the defending team.

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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