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April 2008 Archive (II of III)


Goalie gloves. What (if any) aftermarket substances are goalies allowed to put on their gloves? Can the referee have them remove the glove for being too sticky?

Answer (April 8, 2008):
There has been no change in USSF policy since the following answer was given in March 2007.

USSF answer (March 12, 2007): The goalkeeper is allowed certain exceptions in the equipment he or she is permitted to wear. These exceptions for the goalkeeper are designed strictly for protection of the goalkeeper, who is often expected to dive quickly to the ground. Law 4 is meant to ensure player safety, not player superiority through artificial means. There is no provision for the goalkeeper or any other player to wear artificial aids to enhance their ability to play. Therefore tacky substances on the hands or "sticky" gloves are illegal equipment and, if used, constitute unsporting behavior for which a caution should be given. The offending substance must be removed and offending gloves may be replaced by others that are not "doctored."



I have been watching the way calling offsides has changed in the last 2 years. All of the instructors assure me that waiting until the ball is touched is almost always necessary before calling offsides. I watch many matches every week. It appears to me that if the rules the local and state guys are telling are true then it appears that we call offsides differently in the USA than they do any where else in the world. Is this the case??

Answer (April 8, 2008):
There are only two circumstances in which it might be necessary to wait for an attacker in an offside position to physically touch the ball:

1. The ball is played directly by a teammate to this attacker and the latter makes no move whatsoever as the ball approaches him. If he moves to touch the ball, offside offense. If he doesn't move but allows the ball to hit him, offside offense. If he continues to make no move and the ball passes him by, no offside offense. If he moves to avoid contact with the ball, no offside offense.

2. The ball is played by a teammate into space. It is pursued by the attacker in the offside position as well as by another teammate who was not in an offside position, but the referee/AR cannot determine which one will get to the ball first except by seeing who makes the first touch. If it is touched first by the attacker in an offside position, offside offense. If it is touched first by the teammate who was not in an offside position, no offside offense. In this case, if the referee/AR can decide who will clearly get to the ball first before either actually touches the ball, make the decision then about offside offense.

Neither of these two scenarios involves any attacker in an offside position also making any movement which interferes with an opponent.

This is the same position taken by other national associations. We are not certain why you would suggest that our referees would call it any differently from the rest of the world.



The ball is out of play over the touch line, but barely.

As AR I raise my flag, but the referee does not see it. A couple of seconds later the referee whistles a foul and issues a caution for unsporting behavior. My flag is still up. Before the restart he sees the flag and elects to restart play with the throw-in.

Should the caution be rescinded, since technically the ball was out of play and the foul and caution "never occurred"?

(Actually, the referee never saw my flag and restarted with the free kick. But I got to thinking about the above possibility.)

Answer (April 7, 2008):
The referee's decision to restart with the throw-in was (or would have been) correct. When the referee decides to go with the AR's flag for a throw-in, then the "foul" and misconduct become simply misconduct, which can still be punished with a caution for unsporting behavior. The decision to go with the throw-in does not void punishment for the cautionable offense.



in a recent game, the attacking team A shot into the box from a wide position, striking a player on Team B, the defending team(who was inside the box). the referee stopped play and awarded a free kick with the ball clearly placed inside the box approximately 5 yards from the top and 5 yards from the side of the box. the free kick was taken w/out any scoring. at halftime, we saw the referee and asked what infringement had occurred on the play-specifically asking if it had been an indirect foul such as dangerous play. the referee said that it was actually a handball inside the box but he did not deem the foul to be worthy of a penalty. is a free kick inside the box a correct application of the laws of the game in this case?

Answer (April 7, 2008):
Another case of a referee with no courage. While the Laws of the Game allow referees plenty of discretion, allowing them to make some decisions based on the statement in the Laws that many infringements occur only "in the opinion of the referee," this is not one of them.

Based on your statement that the ball struck the player (rather than the player striking the ball, which would be deliberately handling the ball), it would appear that there was no infringement at all. If the ball simply hits a player's "hand" (anywhere on the arm from shoulder to finger tip), that is not a foul. There must be a conscious act by the player to manipulate (sorry for the unintended pun) the ball.

Timid referees like this one might consider giving up the game altogether, as they do no favor for referees who want to get it right.



I recently heard that once a goal is scored the Referee is to blow his whistle and point to the center spot.

What is the difference between a defensive free kick which requires to blow the whistle and point the direction and the Goal scored and blowing the whistle and pointing toward the center spot when you are in the last third of the of each end?

Blowing the whistle and Raising the arm and pointing to the center spot when in the penalty area gives the impression to the fans, coaches and managers that a defensive free kick has been awarded not a goal.

Answer (April 7, 2008):
Correct practice for the referee and lead assistant referee is outlined in the USSF publication "Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials." The guidance you seek for the referee's signal reads: "Points up field and, only when satisfied that the teams are disengaged and further attention on the goal area is not needed, backpedals toward center circle."

A whistle would be required only if it is needed to get the attention of players -- e. g., the ball is still being played despite the fact that the AR has signaled a successful goal.

The signal of pointing toward the halfway line is traditional throughout the world. If "fans, coaches and managers" in your area are confused, it might be because they have not followed play closely enough.

The Laws of the Game do not require a whistle in this situation -- see above. You can find guidance on when to whistle in the Additional Instructions and Guidelines for Referees and Assistant Referees in the back of the full version of the Laws of the Game 2007/2008: Use of whistle The whistle is needed to: * start play (1st, 2nd half), after a goal * stop play - for a free kick or penalty kick - if match is suspended or terminated - when a period of play has ended due to the expiration of time * restart play at - free kicks when the wall is ordered back the appropriate distance - penalty kicks * restart play after it has been stopped due to - the issue of a yellow or red card for misconduct - injury - substitution The whistle is NOT needed * to stop play for: - a goal kick, corner kick or throw-in - a goal * to restart play from - a free kick, goal kick, corner kick, throw-in A whistle which is used too frequently unnecessarily will have less impact when it is needed. When a discretionary whistle is needed to start play, the referee should clearly announce to the players that the restart may not occur until after that signal.



Was going over the procedures on kicks from the mark and had a question concerning whether the goal keeper has to participate in kicks by taking a kick.

When I learned the procedures, the team supplied a list of the first five kickers and if the score was tied at the end of the first group kicking. The team supplied a list of the next 5 kickers and you proceeded in pairs until one team was ahead. If still tied at the end of 10 kicks, the team supplied a new list of 5 players which could be any 5 players. The wording of the position paper implies that all players must kick (11 if there are 11). My question is must the goalkeeper kick.

The second question assumes the answer to the first question is that they do not have to kick. If this is true, but the keeper chooses to kick, does the 11th player have to be the first kicker of the 3rd set of 5 players given to the referee.

Was discussing this with a referee from Virginia who is currently at the university. He thought that all 11 players had to kick. When I learned the procedures in the early 90's that was not the case. Thank you for your help, you do a great job.

Answer (April 7, 2008):
The Laws of the Game have never required that teams submit a list of players for kicks from the penalty mark. What you learned was likely a local (and erroneous) practice. If it is necessary, all players remaining on the field (or off the field with the permission of the referee) at the end of the game are eligible for kicks from the penalty mark and no player may kick a second time until all the players on his team have taken their kick. So, yes, the goalkeeper must kick if that becomes necessary.

What you learned some years ago is based on requirements of the National Federation of State High School Associations, not something used in soccer played under the aegis of the U. S. Soccer Federation.



I am even embarrassed to ask you this question but I promised my referees to get an answer for them. Here it goes, one of our State referee indicated at State Cup this weekend that USSF is no longer looking favorably on referees handshake (three way hand shake as we call it in this neck of the woods as MLS handshake). The first thing that it came to my mind was that I am sure that USSF have more fish to fry than worrying about a handshake. Could you please solve this mystery?

Answer (April 7, 2008):
There is no such restriction on referees shaking hands before the kick-off. It is traditional and done throughout the world. This would seem to be a case of someone misunderstanding something said by an assessor.



Law 1 states that "the field of play is divided into two halves by a halfway line".

Law 11 states that a player is not offside if "he is in his own half of the field of play".

I assume that I was correct when I flagged two players this past year for having a foot on the halfway line (but not over), since the player (technically) was not in his/her half of the field. However, some seasoned refs told me that having a foot on the half way line should not result in being called offside when that player received a pass.

Answer (April 3, 2008):
Technically, if any part of a player that can legally play the ball is past the midfield line, they are in the opponents' end of the field and could be in an offside position -- depending on the positioning of the opposing players. That counts head, feet and any other part of the player that can legally play the ball -- but certainly not the hands. If the referee finds that this player is in an offside position and becomes actively involved in play from that position after a teammate plays the ball in his or her direction, then he or she should be declared offside.



When the ball is shot or pass back to the keeper who plays it with his feet what is the rule for keepers (if he keep the ball at his feet), When does the time start for the keeper to release the ball I notice in games , that the keepers team doesn't pick up the ball and lets the clock run, How much time does the keeper have to release the ball after he get possession of it?

Answer (April 3, 2008):
There is no time limit. As long as the ball is at the goalkeeper's feet, the goalkeeper may play it there for as long as he or she wishes. This is a traditional and normal way of using time and should not be considered as time wasting. "Possession" in the case of the goalkeeper means simply that the goalkeeper has control of the ball with the hands, not with any other part of the body.



Team A is awarded an IFK at the 12 yard line, and Team B sets up a wall just in front of their goalkeeper. Team A's kicker hits a hard shot towards the upper corner of the net and a defender (not the goalkeeper) reflexively reaches up well above her head to deliberately deflect the shot over the top of the goal.

1. Can DOGSO be called in this situation, given that the goal would have been disallowed if the ball went directly into the goal?

2. Does the situation change if the defender who handled the ball was standing directly in front of the goalkeeper, who was reaching up for the ball and theoretically might have mishandled it - leading to a legal goal - had the defender not illegally handled the ball first?

My view is no DOGSO in either case, but I'm not certain. Thanks for your help.

Answer (April 3, 2008):
1. While the goal would have counted if the ball had entered the goal, the player did not prevent an obvious goalscoring opportunity, because, as you suggest, the goal would not have counted if the Team B player had not touched the ball. Caution for unsporting behavior and restart with a penalty kick for the Team A.

2. No the situation does not change.



Here's an administrative question. On occasion, especially during difficult weather conditions, players are allowed to wear additional clothing, such as long pants in cold weather, or a sweatshirt under their uniform. The league or tournament usually tells the referees to allow this, or sometimes I do this on my own if I feel it's appropriate. But what about the referees? I'm talking about such things as long pants or a hat in cold weather, or more importantly for someone like me who wears eyeglasses, wearing a cap in the rain so that I can actually see the play! Who has the authority to allow or deny deviation from the official uniform? Is it the SRA, the SDI, the referee assignor for that particular league or tournament?

Answer (April 2, 2008):
As to caps or other hats, Federation policy on hats was published in the October 1999 issue of Fair Play and has been reiterated several times in this venue: Q. May referees wear caps and sunglasses? A. With regard to caps, the policy of the United States Soccer Federation was stated in the Spring 1994 issue of Fair Play magazine: "Under normal circumstances, it is not acceptable for a game official to wear headgear, and it would never be seen on a high level regional, national or international competition. However, there may be rare circumstances in local competitions where head protection or sun visors might sensibly be tolerated for the good of the game, e.g. early morning or late afternoon games with sun in the officials' line of sight causing vision difficulties; understaffed situations where an official with sensitive skin might be pressed into service for multiple games under strong sunlight or a referee who wears glasses needing shielding from rain." Sunglasses would be subject to the same considerations. In addition, we ask referees to remember that sunglasses have the unfortunate side effect of suggesting that the referee or assistant referee is severely visually impaired and should not be working the game. They also limit communication between the officials and the players by providing a barrier against eye-to-eye contact. Sunglasses, if worn, should be removed prior to any verbal communication with players.

We know from Law 4 and "Law 18" (Common Sense) what equipment the players may wear. We also know that the intelligent referee will try to make an exception for players due to severe weather conditions, such as knit caps or gloves on very cold days. This would even extend to tracksuit pants, provided everyone on the team wears the same color -- which need not be the same as the color of the shorts. The same is true of the officiating crew.

There should be no need for a written statement regarding referee attire. Referees are expected to look professional for every game they do, regardless of the level of play. Referees should exercise good sense in choosing what to wear -- and what not to wear. Indeed, they should be certain to take care to protect themselves from severe weather conditions just as the players do. However, the intelligent referee will ensure that the officiating crew is not dressed more warmly than the players for whom they are officiating the game.



I have a question about judging denying a goal or obvious goal scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball: ATR 12.37 (a) states in part "but simply the occurrence of the offense under circumstances in which, in the opinion of the referee, the ball would likely have gone directly into the goal but for the handling".

What if the deliberate handling by a defender prevents the ball from reaching an attacker who would be able to simply put the ball into an unprotected goal (no other defenders or the goal keeper to prevent the goal)? In this situation, the handling prevents an obvious goal scoring opportunity, but this does not seem to meet the criteria as stated in ATR 12.37 (a) "the ball would have likely gone directly into the goal".

Answer (April 2, 2008):
The information in Advice 12.37 applies only to situations in which, but for the handling, the ball would have gone into the net (in the opinion of the referee, of course). What you are asking about is at least one step removed from that and would require the referee to decide that, but for the handling, the ball would have gone to another attacking player who, maybe/possibly/perhaps, would have made a shot on goal which, maybe/possibly/perhaps, would have gone into the net.

Your scenario, rather than applying under Advice 12.37, is a perfect example of handling as a tactical foul -- breaking up attacking play -- and thus merits no more than a caution, followed by a direct free kick or penalty kick (if applicable). The referee cannot spend valuable time dithering over whether or not a player might/could/should/would have done something, but must decide what has happened now. We judge an offense on its own, not on action extended into the future.

For information on dealing with the tactical foul caution, see Advice 12.28.1.



I know that stutter steps, etc. are allowed by players performing a PK, but what if something excessively elaborate happens (player is bringing the game into disrepute), e. g.,

On the way to take the PK, the penalty kicker does a back flip or hand stand, etc. Obviously this is a cautionable offense, but what is the restart?

??? - Stop the taking of the kick, caution, and then have the kick taken correctly?

??? - Stop the taking of the kick, caution, and then award an IFK for the defense?

??? - another scenario?

This is probably in the Advice booklet but I thought I would get an expert opinion.

Answer (April 2, 2008):
You will find it in Advice 14.9. Summed up, in this situation we try to stop the kick from occurring but, if this turns out to be not possible, we follow the same rule governing other infringements of Law 14 by the attacking team (retake penalty kick if the ball goes into the net, indirect free kick if it does not).



Thanks for your previous clarifications, but (perhaps) I didn't understand. Thanks for your previous clarifications, but (perhaps) I didn't understand.

I quote FIFA "Additional Instructions and Guidelines for Referees" 2007/08 Law 3 – The Number of players If a team official enters the field of play: - the referee shall stop play (although not immediately if the team official does not interfere with play or if the advantage can be applied)

Player outside the field of play If, after leaving the field of play to correct unauthorized equipment or kit, to be treated for an injury or bleeding, because he has blood on his kit or for any other reason with the referee’s permission, a player re-enters the field of play without the referee’s permission, the referee shall: - stop play (although not immediately if the player does not interfere with play or if the advantage can be applied)

Substitute or a substituted player If a substitute or a substituted player enters the field of play without permission - the referee shall stop play (although not immediately if the player in question does not interfere with play or if the advantage can be applied)

Should a Referee only apply the advantage clause for Law 12 infringements? No, any Laws?

Answer (April 2, 2008):
There is little that can be done about the IFAB's interesting use of the language. There is advantage within the technical meaning of Law 5 (which can only be used with respect to violations of Law 12) and the general concept of advantage in the sense of "a benefit" could apply to any situation much the same way that the concept of 'trifling' does. So, in this framework, let us suppose that a team official enters the field. The referee is not obliged to stop play immediately not because of the application of advantage-in-Law-5 but if the entry of the person has no impact on the play -- i. e., it doesn't matter, and won't really matter until and unless the team official does something to affect play by interfering with the ball or a player.



With the new requirement for undergarments being the same color as the uniform, is it required that all players wear undergarments or can some players wear undergarments and others not wear undergarments.

Answer (April 1, 2008):
The requirement for matching colors between undergarments applies only to those players who actually wear the undergarments in question. One would assume that all players wear some sort of undergarments, but we are concerned only with those that show.


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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