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October 2004 Archive (I of II)

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The question at hand is what is the policy on insurance coverage in a game utilizing a certified Center referee and two club linesmen. Our understanding is that USSF insurance covers only the Center. In the event of a lawsuit for serious injury caused by the lack of ability of a club linesman to control the situation if the Center's back is turned, is the Center covered by insurance?

Answer (October 7, 2004):
If the referee is registered and the games are affiliated with US Soccer, the referee is ins


An interesting subject was discussed on a coach's list to which I subscribe. Someone related a story where an assistant coach got out of hand and was yellow carded by the referee. The fact that the coach was carded was not the point of their relating the story, but I replied that the LOTG allowed cards to be issued only to players, substitutes, and substituted players, and that the proper ultimate sanction for a misbehaing non-player was to be ordered away from the field of play and it surrounding area.

My questions are:
1. May a USSF-affiliated organization have rules that require coaches to be carded? I would think no, because USSF by-laws require that the LOTG be followed. I know modifications were allowed for youth soccer, in addition to those specifically allowed in the LOTG, but I did not think that was one of them.
2. If USSF organizations may modify the LOTG to require coaches to be carded, what is the authority that allows that?

Answer (October 6, 2004):
You are absolutely correct, in that the Laws of the Game do not permit giving cautions to or "sending-off" (we use the word "dismissal") to coaches, nor do they permit showing the card to any team official. We do not know the origin of the concept, but it has long been held that the rules of competition for a particular league or state association may require showing a card to a coach.

Showing the card is a means of communication. Leagues and other competitions find it easier for parents and spectators to understand what is going on if they see a card being shown, rather than just seeing a coach walk away from the bench area. In addition, under some rules of competition the coach is responsible for the sidelines. If the sidelines are acting up and the coach is issued yellow card indicating a caution, it stands to reason that behavior control is much more easily achieved if there is a visible sign. The National Program for Referee Development will support the referee when a coach is cautioned or dismissed, even if no card is shown-provided it is done in accordance with the rules of the competition.


My son is refereeing our local recreational youth league. This past weekend he was officiating a U8 game where the coach approached him, before and after the game, about calls during the games. He was trying to be intimidating and got very biligerant with him when my son seemed to not want his advise. As a referee myself, I know how I would handle this, but being 15, I don't think he is as direct with adults as I am. What course of action would you recommend for our young refs to take in this rare case? He has been refereeing since he was 12 and this is the first time this has happened. Usually the league has an adult rep present to oversee the games, but this time there were just the two refs for the two games on the fields. He usually takes a cell phone, but forgot it this time; note the lesson learned!

A second question concerning parent conduct. We were at a tournement where the parents were getting pretty wound up over the refs calls. The center ref red cards a parent, ejects him from the field and the team loses a point because of the card. I later ask the head of officiating about this and he said in the tournement coaches can be carded and ejected, but still didn't answer my question on the spectators. I can see the ejection, but the card and point for this team seemed baffling.

Answer (October 5, 2004):
1. Coaches at the U8 level are often as uninformed about the Laws of the Game and how the game should be called as their players. While the coach's behavior was totally irresponsible and your son would have been correct in dismissing the coach early on in the game, the proper thing to do in this case would have been for your son to thank the coach for his input and say that maybe they would both do better next time out. In all events, your son should have reported the coach's behavior to the competition authorities.

A more important question from our point of view is why there were only two referees for the games. All games played under the auspices of the U. S. Soccer Federation must be officiated by a three-referee crew or, alternatively, by a single referee using club linesmen.

2. We cannot comment on the dismissal of a spectator and the assessment of points against a team. These are matters covered by the rules of the competition and not subject to review by referees.

However, the referee has authority to suspend and, if necessary, to terminate a match if the behavior of anyone outside the field (coaches, spectators, etc.) seriously interferes with the conduct of the match. The referee could suspend play and set as a condition for resuming the match the departure of a spectator who was behaving irresponsibly. This option would be particularly relevant in a match in which spectators were physically proximate to the field as opposed to being in bleachers or arena-type seating.

In any event, no cards are displayed to anyone other than players and substitutes unless this is mandated by the rules of the competition.


A teammate deliberately kicks the ball, with his foot to his own keeper. On the way to the keeper, the ball deflects off an opponent. May the keeper now legally handle the ball?

Answer (October 5, 2004):
In this case, the goalkeeper may handle the ball legally. Under the Law it is the actual handling that constitutes the offense, not the pass. In this case, the opponent's deflection has negated the original deliberate kick to the goalkeeper.


I was involved in a game this weekend where a direct kick was awarded outside the 18. We created a wall a distance we honestly felt was 10 yards from the ball but the referee insisted on moving us back further. His position was on the opposite side of the 18 nowhere near the ball or wall and initially did not physically walk out the 10 yards. We honored his request to move but asked him to walk out the yardage because it appeared to be at least 15 yards from the ball. He refused to walk out the yardage and gave a yellow card for questioning him. Can the team that committed the foul request the yardage to be measured if they feel too much was awarded?

Answer (October 5, 2004):
The defending team has no more right to ask for the distance to be measured to make sure it is not too much than the kicking team has to ask that it be measured to ensure it is not too little. While the defending (offending) team has very few rights at a free kick, one of those rights is that they can be assessed no more than the ten-yard distance. The referee has no right or power to force the team that committed the foul to move more than ten yards away from the place where the ball will be in play when kicked. However, only the referee can judge exactly what distance that "ten yards" covers.


In the first half, a player on Team A is sent off. Team A starts the second half with 11 players; no referee counts. During dynamic play, a penal foul occurs in the penalty area, committed against Team A. After the Penalty Kick is taken successfully (but before the kickoff is taken), Team B points out to the Center Referee that the scoring team has too many players on the field.

1. What is the course of action at that moment? And what is the proper restart?
2. What would be correct if the PK had failed and had gone over the end line, untouched...and then the referee counted players?
3. What would be correct if the PK had failed and had gone over the end line, last touched by the goal keeper, and then the referee counted players?
4. What would be correct if the Center Referee realizes Team A has 11 players on the field of play during dynamic play and before any foul has been called?
5. What would be correct if the Center Referee realizes Team A has 11 players on the field of play immediately after (but before the ensuing kickoff) Team A scores a goal?

Thank you for your assistance. This is based on an incident described to me earlier this week.

Answer (October 4, 2004):
What complicates the original scenario is that we don't know when the extra person appeared on the field. The only way the goal can be canceled and play restarted with a dropped ball is if there were compelling evidence that the extra person was on the field prior to the goal being scored on the penalty kick. And if the goal stands, then (after cautioning the extra player) play would be restarted with a kick-off rather than with a dropped ball.

If there is definite proof that the eleventh player was on the field prior to the foul leading to the penalty kick, the answers to questions 1-3 and 5 are identical: The goal is not awarded. The eleventh player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without the referee's permission and is instructed to leave the field of play. Play is restarted by a dropped ball on the goal area line at the point nearest to where the ball passed over the goal line to enter the goal.

The answer to question 4 is that the referee stops play. The eleventh player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without the referee's permission and is instructed to leave the field of play. Play is restarted by a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.

[NOTE: As we learned later, the extra player had been on the field for some minutes before the foul was committed in the penalty area.]


For USSF youth soccer games, is a set number of referees mandatory for any age groups?

Answer (October 4, 2004):
One referee and two assistant referees (or club linesmen) are required for all youth games. The dual system of control (two referees) is not allowed.


Does a tournament committee have the right to rescind a red card give for point 4 of send offs?

Answer (October 4, 2004):
The answer is no. Law 5 tells us: "The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play are final." The decision to send off a player for denying the opposing team a goal or a goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball is a decision on a point of Law. It is neither protestable nor reversible. The only points on which referee decisions may be reversed are those where the referee has acted contrary to the Law, the prime example being to restart incorrectly after a stoppage.

Furthermore, as FIFA has said, the requirement for a one-game suspension is mandatory and cannot be rescinded; it can only be lengthened.

WE COUNT TIME UP (0-45, 46-90), NOT DOWN

A question has arisen about what FIFA says about clocks that count down as opposed to counting up. Two of my remaining grey cells recall something about that from FIFA, but the other two can't find it. Checked USSF, FIFA web sites, my archive of meaningless trivia, all to no avail.

I think they said they prefer clocks that count up, but it is not a requirement, and I think it only applies to FIFA competitions, but I can't cite chapter and verse, and would like to for this particular (officious) person.

Do you have a reference?

Answer (September 30, 2004):
FIFA requires a count-up clock in games played under its rules of competition. In other words, the clock runs for "the length of time played" from 0:00 to 45:00 (plus added time) in the first half, from 45:00 (the added time is only for statistical purposes and does not count as part of the full 45 minutes) to 90:00 (plus added time) in the second half. In addition, time runs the same way for any periods of extra time required by the rules of the competition. This has been made clear in several memoranda and circulars dealing with the proper way to keep time. The most recent documents of this sort are available on the FIFA website. They are the regulations for the soccer competition at the 2004 Olympics and for the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany.

The wording in both documents is identical: "Clocks in the stadium showing the length of time played may run during the match, provided that they are stopped at the end of normal playing time in each half, i. e., after 45 and 90 minutes, respectively. This stipulation also applies in the event of extra time being played, i. e., after 15 and 30 minutes respectively."

In an earlier circular, FIFA also specified how various events are to be recorded (i. e., deciding the time to be set down in the match report for a particular event), particularly when something occurs in "added" or "injury" time. For example, the referee might write, "I cautioned Player X for unsporting behavior in the 47th minute of the first half."


Recently I've seen some referees wearing socks with 3 stripes, while other are wearing total black socks....sometimes with a nike or adidas logos. Are the referees becoming lax or is this due to some uniform change?

Answer (September 29, 2004):
The only approved socks have the three white stripes or the US Soccer crest logo on the top.


I have been a USSF referee for approximately 10 year now. I referee competition games for kids ranging in age from U10 to U19 and also do an occasional adult league game. I did a tournament semi-final U11 boys match a few weeks ago and had the following occur:
The ball was crossed from the wing just inside the 18. A defender jumped raising both arms high and crossed above his head. He miss-judged the ball. An attacker standing on the 18, played the ball with his head, directly into the raised arms of the jumping defender.

Having seen many of these young players jumping with arms raised above their head, and not judging it to be intentional. Also considering that he had already jumped with arms raised above his head, and determining that the ball was played into his arms, not that the player had intentional raised his arms to play the ball, I did not call a hand ball.

I also recall recently hearing that most calls of handling the ball are not in fact called correctly because the ball hit the hand, not the hand hitting the ball.

Again, I did not call the hand ball, which of course created no small stir amoung players, coaches and fans alike, (mostly from the attacking team). At half, the coach argued rather hotly regarding the no call. I explained my reasons, etc. and eventually had to warn the coach.

I have asked several other referees, coaches and players and all have basically agreed with my call. Just thought I'd ask you.

Answer (September 29, 2004):
If you are certain in your heart of hearts--or, better for referees, "head of heads"-that this player always raised his hands for such plays, you may have made the correct call, but it seems unlikely. Experience shows that this sort of jumping with the arms raised is not a natural thing to do. The referee should look for unnatural things when judging whether or not the play with the hands is deliberate or not. There is no reason for nor benefit from jumping with the hands above the head other than to play the ball if all else fails. The only question would be whether the referee might judge the offense to be trifling (under very limited circumstances) or worth an advantage call.

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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