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May 2004 Archive (I of II)

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Recently I was scanning through the USSF publication, "Advice to referees on the laws of the game." I was surprised when I read the section 5.6 on Advantage. It reads... "The advantage applies only to infringements of Law 12 (fouls and/or misconduct) and not to infringements of other Laws. For example, there can be no advantage during an offside situation, nor may advantage be applied in the case of an illegal throw-in that goes to an opponent." This makes perfect sense to me except for the part about offside. I, myself, referee and watch a lot of high level soccer, and have worked with some of the world's best referees. In my experience, I have seen countless situations where an offside is signaled by the assistant referee, and the referee signals advantage if a quick counterattack begins for the other team or if the ball goes straight into the hands of the keeper. In most other countries (and all of UEFA I know) the advantage signal is suggested in this situation rather than the "lower the flag" signal that USSF encourages, but in any case, even with the USSF "lower the flag" signal, what we are doing in essence is applying advantage to the situation. If the AR signals the offside and the ball goes straight into the keeper's hands, we are not telling the AR there is not an offside by asking him to lower his flag, we are giving advantage. If an attacker is involved in play and the AR signals offside, but the defense intercepts the pass and starts a quick counterattack, we are not telling the AR he or she is wrong, we are simply applying advantage. Since this happens all the time with soccer even at the highest levels, I would like to know why the "Advice to referees on the Laws of the Game" makes this statement. I appreciate your attention to my question and look forward to hearing back from you.

Answer (May 13, 2004):
There is no advantage applicable to any Law beyond Law 12, although one could make a small (but not totally convincing) case in several instances in Laws 13 and 14, but it is easier to do what is done with Law 11-there is no advantage there, but the referee may choose to call the offside (whether signaled by the AR or not) or ignore it, depending on the circumstances.

When you agree to work games under the aegis of the United States Soccer Federation, you also commit yourself to following the procedures used by the Federation. We do not use the advantage signal for a case where offside will not be called, because it is not an advantage--it is a case of no infringement of the Law.

The "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" is, as its introduction states, " a reliable compilation of those international and national guidelines [currently] in force, as modified or updated. It is not a replacement for the Laws of the Game, nor is it a 'how to' book on refereeing." All that remains to be said here is another quote: [The] "Advice to Referees presents official USSF interpretations of the Laws of the Game." Fail to follow it at your own peril.


1. If a one-on-one player on player fight breaks out on the soccer field, how is the stopping of it to be handled? Where does the referee's responsibility end and the coach's begin? 2. What are the responsibilities of the assistant referees in the situation where the fight expands beyond the original two players and the referee fails to signal for assistance from the coaches. Who is responsible to do what?

Answer (May 13, 2004):
1. The referee has no responsibility to stop a fight, no matter what the age of the players. But a VERY LOUD whistle, to signal that the referee wishes the activity to stop immediately, could be blown VERY NEAR to the players. That is usually quite effective. And coaches have no authority or responsibility whatsoever on the soccer field, other than to keep themselves and their substitutes under control. However, if the referee chooses to stop play and wave the coaches on to the field to help break up a fight, that is permitted. 2. In the case of a fight on the field, the assistant referees have no responsibilities-on the field-unless the referee has assigned them something other than what they would do in the case of a mass confrontation of the referee by players on the field:

Assistant Referees
- Both assistants move along the touchline to a point as near as possible to the confrontation and, if necessary, prepare to enter the field for a better viewing position.
- The nearer assistant should concentrate fully on the confrontation and attempt to identify the instigator(s) while the farther assistant concentrates on players who join the confrontation from a distance.
- The senior assistant (on the bench side of the field) should additionally monitor persons coming from the bench into the field to participate in the confrontation, but this assistant's primary objective remains monitoring the confrontation itself.
- After the confrontation has ended, both assistants should be ready to provide information to the referee regarding the identities of persons they observed and the role each such person played in the confrontation.


What is the advice of the USSF about officiating a game with a ref that has not completed the necessary officiating recert process? Is the host association at risk if there is an injury or a problem during a game officiated by such? Would there be repercussions from the USSF? I only ask because my local association is using refs that have not completed the program for this year.

Answer (May 11, 2004):
This will not be the direct answer you were looking for. The only answer we can give is to state US Soccer policy.

The insurance policy only covers registered referees doing affiliated games. The US Soccer Policies say that all games directly or indirectly under the jurisdiction of US Soccer shall be officiated by a currently registered USSF referee. We cannot say what the outcome would be for not following the policies of membership. That would be up to US Soccer Board of Directors. We do know that the insurance company will not defend a case unless the referee is registered and working affiliated games.


Could you tell me if there is something that I can do about this situation that happened, during a u-16 premier game. The game started with a ref. and two linesmen. At halftime one of the linesman leaves, and the opposing team gets someone to line. I asked the other linesman who that person was, he said that he was a certified ref. as he gets on the field he has a red ref. shirt different from the other two. He has no socks, no shoes, and a pair of brown pants. Needless to say he did not call offsides and they scored twice. At about 20 minutes left, someone else takes his place in full ref. uniform. Can I file a protest, or not?

Answer (May 11, 2004):
Usually a protest must be filed at the field. You should check with your local governing body to see what is protestable and when protests must be filed and go from there. There is nothing in the Laws of the Game regarding what constitutes protestable issues-that is strictly a local thing and that's where you need to start.


What is the USSF advice to match officials with regard to officials of the technical area entering the FOP at the end of extra time and PRIOR to the taking of KFTPM. It is clear in Law that only the eligible players are permitted to remain on the FOP during the taking of the kicks and that AUTHORISED persons may only enter the FOP this authorisation can of course only be given by the referee, but it is the period directly before the Kicks that is causing a problem. Is it permitted for the referee to give such AUTHORISATION prior to the kicks commencing??

Answer (May 11, 2004):
The process of kicks from the penalty mark begins immediately upon the conclusion of full time (including any required extra periods of play). While there is a break of sorts following the conclusion of full time and the first actual kick, the kicks from the penalty mark process has already begun, and in fact there are things that may be going on during that "down time"; for example, the coin toss.

Normally only eligible players and the match officials are allowed on the field once kicks from the penalty mark begin, and the process begins the moment full time is over. However, if the rules of the competition provide for a break between the end of full time and the actual kicks themselves, the referee may permit persons (team officials) other than players to be on the field of play during that break period between the end of regulation play and the actual kicks from the penalty mark. If the referee permits it, they may do this in their team's half of the center circle. When the kicks are ready to commence, the team officials must return to the technical area (their team's area).


During my last game a coach didn't like one of my calls, and he ordered his entire team to get off the field saying that they were done. I ended the game and later reported the situation to the league coordinator. Was I supposed to do anything else? Maybe caution the players that left the field without my permission? I just thought it would look ridiculous to show yellow/red cards to every player from the team that left the field before the end of the game.

Answer (May 6, 2004):
While we have no knowledge of your actions prior to this incident, you acted perfectly correctly in abandoning the game and reporting the situation in your match report. Cautioning and showing cards to the players would have accomplished nothing. By acting in accordance with correct procedure, you maintained your dignity and did not allow the coach to drag the game even farther into disrepute.


At a u7 game how long are their quarters and breaks? Thanks!

Answer (May 6, 2004):
There is no set time period. U6 plays 4 equal 8-minute quarters, with a 2-minute break between quarters one and two and another 2-minute break between quarters three and four and a half-time interval of 5 minutes. U8 plays 4 equa 8-minute quarters, with a 2-minute break between quarters one and two and another 2-minute break between quarters three and four and a half-time interval of 5 minutes.

These are recommendations from the nationally-approved youth competition rules. Your competition may choose to use whatever length of periods it requires.


I worked a game as a AR in a U17 boys game and the CR gave a penalty kick on the keeper for taking down attacking player and holding him from going after the ball. The play was now stop and the keeper said something to the referee and he red carded the keeper. The center did not make them play down since the send-off was done when the play had stopped. His thought was it was not a foul and it happened after the play had stopped. Should they have played down one man? I say yes.

Answer (May 6, 2004):
Yes, after the referee sent off the goalkeeper, the goalkeeper's team should have played with one fewer player for the rest of the game. Once the game starts, it makes no difference when a player is sent off or when the misconduct for which the player is being punished occurred, whether during play or a break in the game (halftime or other official break) or at a stoppage--ALL misconduct is dealt with during stoppage.

As a sidebar, your question suggests that the goalkeeper might have been sent off in the first place for denying the opponent a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by preventing the opponent from getting to the ball.


1. A foul is committed and a free kick is awarded. Is the offending team required to immediately back off 10 yards? Or can the offending team delay moving away unless the opposing player asks the referee to provide the 10-yard distance? If 10 yards is immediately required, why don't refs show more yellow cards? Delay of game and poor sportsmanship are cautionable. 2. A player takes a throw in and the ball never crosses into play. Rethrow? Or does the other team take possession?

Answer (May 6, 2004):
1. As you point out, some referees are apparently afraid to give the kicking team the space they need and to punish the team that continues to break the Laws after having been caught once. Under the Law, the offending team is required to back off at least 10 yards from the spot of the ball immediately. Most do not. The referee should stop the restart process only if it is clear that the kicking team either does not want or cannot take a quick kick.

2. In the case of the throw-in that never enters the field, it is retaken.


The R&D committee of our league is debating the answer to the following scenario, and the application of the appropriate Laws of the Game. As background, the league plays with limited size, official state rosters, and with unlimited substitutions on goal kicks, throw-ins by own team, kickoffs, and on injuries for the injured player. Therefore, players may leave and re-enter the match, with the referees permission, on multiple occasions. The scenario:
1. Player #x from Team A, receives a yellow card, for a foul while on the playing field.
2. Sometime thereafter, the same Player #x from Team A receives a second yellow card, during the match, while NOT on the field - he was now a substitute - on the sideline. The second yellow card was issued for a MISCONDUCT, because a FOUL can not be committed by a substitute.
3. The referee, using his authority under Law 5, and applicable sections of Law 12 - shows Player #x from Team A a red card for a second caution (2CT). The player is sent off.

The question - does Team A now play short?

Answer (May 5, 2004):
If the player/substitute received the second card while in his role as substitute, in other words, while on the bench, then he was not a player at that time and the team need not play short. If he had been a player at the time, then the team would have to play short.

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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