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November 2007 Archive (II of III)


I am a new referee and have a question about Position Paper "Law 11: Offside Interfering with Play and Interfering with an Opponent," dated August 24th, 2006.

I understand the main point of the paper, but then don't understand how the goal cannot be disallowed in the specific example in the video clip and paper. The explanation in the paper says the Romario "is in an obvious offside position" and later has the ball played to him to score a goal. I thought the law was once in an offside position, a player continues to be considered offside until a change of possession. What is the intervening action that canceled his 'original' offside position?

The paragraph from the paper is below.

In the attached USL clip, Miami player Romario is in an obvious offside position when the ball is last touched by his teammate, Gil, and Gil then plays the ball forward almost directly toward Romario. However, Romario neither touches nor makes any play for the ball. Furthermore, there is no opponent close enough to be reasonably obstructed or impeded in any way nor does Romario make any gesture or movement which could reasonably be considered deceptive or distracting. Gil proceeds to run forward, takes control of his own pass, moves farther downfield from Romario, and then passes the ballback to Romario who ultimately scores a goal. The goal was valid and, in particular, there was no offside offense during any part of this sequence of play.

Answer (November 15, 2007):
You may have omitted an essential part of the offside equation while considering this problem. Under many circumstances any player may be in an offside position when his or her teammate plays the ball without fear of being punished for offside. In fact, a player could spend most of the game there without being punished in such a case -- unless he or she completes the equation by becoming involved in play. Becoming involved by interfering with play or with an opponent is the point of the entire position paper.

For more up-to-date information, see the two position papers issued on October 16, 2007, "Offside Issues," and October 17, 2007, "Offside Myths."



I had a situation that happened last night: Team A had a throw-in deep in their defensive half. The outside defender threw the ball in to the sweeper's feet. The sweeper dropped to his hands and knees to head the ball back to his goalkeeper, who picked up the ball with his hands.

According to the "Advice to Referees," I made the interpretation that trickery was used to get the ball back to his goalkeeper who could punt the ball. However, . . .

Can [the following] situation happen and be legal?

Player A throws the ball towards his teammate's head, his teammate heads the ball back directly to his goalkeeper, and the goalkeeper picks the ball up with his hands.

Is the goalkeeper allowed to play the ball with his hands in this situation?

I didn't think it was legal but the question has come up because the team has filed a protest, claiming a mis-application of the law.

I believe in my case, trickery was used, but in a more normal case, is a teammate's throw-in allowed to be headed back to his goalkeeper to play with their hands?

Answer (November 15, 2007):
When speaking of trickery in playing the ball toward the goalkeeper, we normally think of this as occurring during restarts, not during dynamic play. A player who goes down on hands and knees to head the ball during dynamic play is not committing trickery.

With that point established, consider our response of August 29, 2007, to another question on trickery:
"When considering the possibility of trickery, the referee must decide if the action was natural (a normal sort of play, the sort of thing you would see in any sequence of play) or contrived (an artificial, unnatural play, which, in the referee's opinion, is intended solely for the purpose of circumventing the Law and preventing the opponents from challenging for the ball).

"The call is always in the opinion and at the discretion of the referee, who is the only person capable of making the judgment as to the nature of the kick. If there is any doubt in the referee's mind as to the nature of the play, then common sense should prevail. Unless the referee believes plays like this to be trickery, there is no need to make a call."

Consider also that the goalkeeper infringes the Law by handling a throw-in only if it has come directly to him or her from a throw-in taken by a teammate.



I am a youth soccer referee. Last evening, a match went to penalty kicks/shootout to determine the winner, during tournament play.

A penalty kick was taken, it directly struck the crossbar, then bounced forward (into the field of play), then struck the back of the goalkeeper's head, who was "off" the goal line (without infringement) and bounced completely over the goal line, into the goal. Is this a goal?

I checked the FIFA Laws of the Game, and USSF Laws, several websites, but was unable to locate information on this matter.

THANK YOU in advance for your assistance in this matter!

Answer (November 14, 2007):
xThe penalty kick or kick from the penalty mark is not completed until the referee declares it so, and the referee should not declare the kick to be completed if there is any possibility that it is still in play.

To put it another way: So long as the ball is in motion and contacting any combination of the ground, crossbar, goalposts, and goalkeeper, a goal can still be



First let me say that this is a great tool. The local chapt. meetings are usually tight timewise and it's nice to have another outlet for questions. This past weekend, during a tournament for the local rec league, in one of the games the defending team committed a foul in the penalty area resulting in a PK. On the ensuing kick the keeper left the goal-line before the ball was played and the shot hit the cross-bar and then was touched by the shooter. I awarded a rekick of the PK since both violated the Laws. After the rekick and goal I thought (to myself) that maybe I should have given the defending team an indirect free kick. If the ball ended up in the goal or missed the goal and went out of bounds that would have been easy -- kick off or goal kick.

Did I make the right call?

Answer (November 13, 2007):
Technically you were correct, in that if a member of each team infringed on the procedures for Law 14, there must be a retake. But let's look at it from the point of view of current Law: If the goalkeeper's departure from the line is to be officially observed (as opposed to being considered trifling), then the correct decision would be a retake of the penalty kick (defender violates Law 14, goal not scored, etc.). However, if the goalkeeper's action IS considered trifling, then the second touch violation is the next event to receive attention and that would result in an IFK for the defending team.



I have two similar Hypothetical questions:
1) Before a game begins, a player commits a sending-off offense and is shown the red card. Is that teams' number of players reduced for the game?
2) Similar situation, a sending off offense, but now it occurs at half time. Is the team number reduced in this instance for the second half?

Obviously, if these occurred on the field while the ball was in play, there is a reduction in number of players. I know the referee's authority begins upon arrival at the field of play and lasts until the referee has left the area after the match has been comleted. I'm just not sure whether punishment for a send-off type of offense extends into playing time if it occurred before the match or during half time. I believe that at other times when the ball is not in play during the match (i.e., a "dead ball") a send-off offense would reduce the number of players, so I suspect that this is the case here also. I just need some clarification and justification within LOTG.

Answer (November 13, 2007):
A hypothetical question runs the risk of receiving a hypothetical answer -- But not in this case.

1. No, the team's numbers are not reduced if a player is sent off before the kick-off. Law 3 tells us: "A player who has been sent off before the kick-off may be replaced only by one of the named substitutes."

2. Yes, if a player is sent off during the halftime period, the team must play short in the second half. If this occurs during extra time or between periods of extra time, the same guidance applies. There is no "justification" for this in the Laws, as it is clear that a dismissal while the game is in progress, i. e., from kick-off until the game has been ended, means that the team whose player is sent off must play short.

You will find further guidance in the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game":
The referee's authority begins upon arrival at the area of the field of play and continues until he or she has left the area of the field after the game has been completed. The referee's authority extends to time when the ball is not in play, to temporary suspensions, to the half-time break, and to additional periods of play or kicks from the penalty mark required by the rules of the competition.

For a synopsis of when cards may be shown to players, substitutes, or substituted players, see Advice 5.17.

Misconduct committed by a player or a substitute prior to the start of the match, during the match, and during breaks between playing periods is subject to a formal caution or a send-off, as appropriate. Yellow and red cards, which are now mandatory indications of cautions and send-offs, may be shown only for misconduct committed by players, substitutes, or substituted players 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.
(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.

Cautions issued prior to the start of the game or during breaks between periods are recorded and they are counted for purposes of sending a player from the field for receiving a second caution during the match. To prevent misunderstandings, the referee should inform officials of both teams before the first period of play begins of any cautions or send-offs occurring prior to the start of the match.

If a player or substitute is cautioned or dismissed for misconduct which has occurred during a break or suspension of play, the card must be shown on the field before play resumes.

If a player is dismissed before the match begins, the player may be replaced by a named substitute, but the team is not allowed to add any names to its roster and its number of permissible substitutions is not reduced.

Players or substitutes who have been sent off may not remain in the team area, but must be removed from the environs of the field. If this is not practical because of the age or condition of the player, the team officials are responsible for the behavior of the player or substitute.

There can be no "temporary expulsion" of players who have been cautioned, nor may teams be forced to substitute for a player who has been cautioned.

Postgame: Any misconduct committed by players or substitutes after the field has been cleared must be described in the game report and reported to the competition authority. The referee may display cards as long as he or she remains on the field of play after the game is over. Referees are advised to avoid remaining in the area of the field unnecessarily. (However, see Advice 5.13.)



When taking corner kick , why do we have arc in corner ? Does the ball after to go outside the arc to be in play?

Answer (November 13, 2007):
The arc in the corner is to keep the ball within one yard/meter of the intersection of the goal line and the touchline. The ball must be kicked and move an undefined but perceptible distance from "here" to "there."



I have been a volunteer referee for our league for two years, at the U-10 level, which means I have refereed maybe 20 U-10 games total. I know I have "blown" some calls and will probably make more mistakes in the future, fortunately most parents and coaches are kind and generally, it is all good fun.

In the last game of the season this year (a good close game) an attacker at midfield passed the ball forward. I checked downfield and was certain that the most forward attacker was a good six feet offside, with no other defender except the keeper between the attacker and the goal. The forward pass did a slow roll to the offside attacker about 4-5 seconds later and about halfway between the circle and the box. I blew the whistle and indicated for the IFK. When the coach realized what I was calling, loud protests erupted. The coach, the assistant coach, and at least one parent all yelled and pointed at a defender that to me, had materialized out of thin air in front of the goal box. In U-10, we rarely have linesman, much less ARs, so I was alone on this one. While I was moving towards the spot, wondering to myself how I could have missed a defender standing in front of the net and whether I could do anything about it, the coach marched out to the center of the field to discuss the call with me. I told him that I didn't see the defender he was pointing to at the critical moment, it was too late now, and even allowing for the possibility, or even the near certainty, that I had made a mistake, I couldn't and wouldn't change a call based on something that I did not see. I told him that the coach can't walk onto the field to have a conference with the referee and that he should return to the sideline, which he did without further protest. I then restarted with an IFK for the defense. I did put a comment on my game card about the unusual on-field conference - first time that ever happened to me.

Two questions:
1. Is team official reaction a valid basis for changing a decision, where it is contrary to what you think you saw but you strongly suspect that you may not have seen everything?
2. If it is, when should you use this tool, since it also struck me that, if I start changing calls when the coach yells loud enough, the coach is going to yell more, not just at me but at other volunteers -- and I don't think we will get many volunteer referees if coaches spend the game pointing out the "facts of play" during the games.

Answer (November 6, 2007):
1. We normally counsel referees that they cannot call an infringement if they or one of their assistant referees have not seen it. Referees should certainly not take the advice of team officials, who are bound to be protective of their own team's interests. In this case, it would appear that your first glance down the field missed the defender near the goal. If that is true, you would not be the first referee to which this happened and will certainly not be the last. If the defender was actually there when the ball was played -- and you suspect that to be true -- then the only correct restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when you stopped play.

We suggest that the referee apologize for missing the defender when he or she looked downfield and let the teams know that the proper restart for this mistake is a dropped ball.

2. Very few coaches actually know the Laws of the Game (or even the rules of the competitions in which their team plays). Always acknowledge their "advice" with a smile and get on with the game. You do not have to put what they say into action. However, if the coach behaves irresponsibly, in other words, becomes abusive, you have the authority to expel him or her from the game and include all details in the match report/game card.



I am hoping you can clarify the below for me regarding the authorized referee uniform. On page 34 of the 2007 Referee Administrative Handbook regarding the standard dress and appearance, under BLACK SOCKS it states "with Federation referee crest or three stripe white top. Simple and clear. But on the same page under ALTERNATIVE UNIFORMS, it states "Logos, Emblems and Badges: Only manufacturer's logos and U.S. Soccer approved badges and/or emblems may be visible on the referee uniform."

So I am allowed to have plain black socks with 3 stipes on top and say for example; a Nike or Diadora logo? ALso, the logo can be something OTHER than the USSF logo such as the manufactures logo (Nike or Diadora for example) when using the three stripe socks?

My last question, the way I read it, if the plain socks don't have a USSF logo, they must have the 3 stripes. I have seen referees that have whistles, wrist bands, whistle lanyards, shoes, shorts and such with manufactures logos, so I am inquiring about socks (plain black) without the three stipes and without the USSF logo but only the manufactures logo (like Nike or Diadora) are they authorized?

Answer (November 5, 2007):
The policy is that the socks are black and must have the USSF logo or three stripes on the top. Period. We are not concerned about manufacturers' logos on the socks if they meet the other criteria. For advanced competition, it should be noted that Official Sports is the official supplier of referee gear and Nike is the Federation's sponsor.


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. Direction is provided by Alfred Kleinaitis, Manager of Referee Development and Education, with further assistance from Julie Ilacqua, Managing Director of Referee Programs (administrative matters); David McKee, National Director of Assessment (assessment matters); and Ulrich Strom, National Instructor and National Assessor (matters in general).

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