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Ask a Referee Update: May 3, 2011


MAY THE GOALKEEPER DRIBBLE THE BALL DOWN THE FIELD?

Question:
Can a keeper that has made a save run to the 18 yard line, release the ball, (to himself) and then continue toward the opponent's goal, dribbling the ball and keeping possession, or does the keeper have to release the ball to a teammate?

Answer (April 28, 2011):
Once the goalkeeper has released the ball from his hands (other than through bouncing it on the ground, tossing it into the air and catching it, or dropping it to his foot to kick away), the ball is free for any player to play. Of course the goalkeeper may do this.


WHAT TO DO WITH PLAYERS NOT ON ROSTER

Question:
During check-in, I discover two players not listed on the team roster. I inform the coach that the two players cannot play. The coach goes nuts. I explain the league's policy regarding this matter. the coach gets hotter. I walk away. This coach fields a team and the two ineligible players are on the field. What do I do? 1. Start the game and after the ball moves forward, blow my whistle and red card the two ineligible players? 2. Have another discussion with the "hot" coach. If doesn't comply, call the game. 3. Get the other coach involved. Discuss the situation. Start the game and report the incident in my game report.

Answer (April 28, 2011):
As long as the names of the substitutes are given to the referee prior to the start of the Game, the Laws of the Game are satisfied. However, in this case you are dealing with the rules of a competition (league, cup, tournament, etc.) . By accepting an assignment in this competition, you have agreed to enforce the rules of the competition. This is an unquestionable fact.

The solution to your problem is either clear and simple or very complicated:
(1) If there is a fixed roster for the season, then the two "players" not on the official team roster may not play under any circumstances. It makes no difference whether the coach chooses to play or not to play the game; those "players" cannot play. Whatever the outcome of the discussion, submit full details in the match report.
(2) If the roster changes from game to game, then it's more complicated. In this case, if the two players have valid player passes for this team, then you should let them play. If they do not have valid player passes for this particular team, then follow the guidance in (1). In all cases, include full details in the match report.


COACHES' IDEAS ON OFFSIDE

Question:
OFFSIDE NOT POSSIBLE WITH DEFENDER GUARDING POST?

Recently, I witnessed a U12 goal scored by working the ball in from a corner kick along the end line. Two attackers worked together to advance the ball to goal right along the endline. One of the attackers was standing on the endline if not out of bounds and received a 10 foot pass from the other attacker about 10 feet from the end line. That attacker received the ball and then passed it in front of the net for a third player to finish for a goal. To me it seemed clear that the receiving player on the endline must have been offside since the defending team did not have players on the goal line or in the net, but did have defender marking the near post. Three licensed and paid coaches later said a single defender on the goalpost, let alone 2 defenders, automatically makes the whole field onside. They also suggested that it does not matter if the goalkeeper is moved forward and that it only matters where the last non-keeper defender happens to be. I can not find any information to verify what they have said.

Please help....

Answer (April 20, 2011):
Coach, we strongly hope you misunderstood these "licensed and paid" coaches, because if what you remember them saying is accurate, we are all in a lot of trouble and referees working games involving these coaches and any of their players will be in for major problems when they attempt to enforce the Laws of the Game correctly.

For starters, no player can be called offside directly from a corner kick. As we read it, in your situation the critical action occurred after the corner kick had already been taken, when an attacker who was 10 feet upfield from the goal line sent a pass to a teammate who was "standing on the endline if not out of bounds." At the moment this pass occurred: "the defending team did not have players on the goal line or in the net, but did have defender marking the near post." Unfortunately, this accounts for only one defender. If that was indeed the only defender between the attacker and the goal line, then clearly the attacker was in an offside position and made contact with the ball when he "received a 10 foot pass," then there was an offside infringement.

However, your situation omits the goalkeeper. Where was the goalkeeper in all of this? Certainly, if the goalkeeper was well upfield from this "defender marking the near post," then the offside call would have been correct. If you and the "licensed and paid" coaches are simply ignoring the goalkeeper and the 'keeper was in fact on the goal line, then the attacker was NOT in an offside position and could not be called offside.

Warning to all coaches, players, and referees: Very few coaches, no matter how many certificates they may have earned, are as well aware of the Laws of the Game as they believe themselves to be. (Unfortunately, we must admit that this sometimes applies to referees as well.)


WHEN MUST THE BALL BE KICKED FORWARD?

Question:
Could I ask for your interpretation on proper indirect kick procedure as referred to in Law 13 of [the] Laws of the Game manual. Below is the discussion. [Discussion deleted.] Thank you.

Note: The lengthy question also asked about kick-offs, when the ball must be kicked forward, and what it meant to actually kick the ball. The original question was not reproduced in full here for privacy reasons.

Answer (April 19, 2011):
Kicks. There are only two kick starts or restarts that MUST be kicked forward: the penalty kick and the kick-off. No free-kick restarts must be kicked forward. (The penalty kick does not fall under the category of free kicks, but lives in its own compartment of the Laws, Law 14.) There are only two kinds of free kicks, direct and indirect, and neither of them must be kicked forward; they must simply be kicked and moved.

To be in play from ALL these kicks the ball must be moved a perceptible distance from "here" to "there." The ball may not be stepped on or tapped or headed or brushed or anything else but KICKED with the foot. The distance moved need not be the circumference of the ball -- that went out years ago -- but the ball must actually move some clearly perceptible distance, as noted above.

At an indirect free kick the ball is first kicked and moved, which puts it into play. The "indirect" portion of the name pertains to the possibility of scoring a goal. A goal may not be scored from an indirect free kick until it has been kicked and moved and then subsequently made contact with or touched or been legally played by a second player, who can belong to either team.

At a direct free kick the ball is in play immediately it is kicked and moved and a goal may be scored directly from it.

At a kick-off or penalty kick, the ball must be kicked and moved forward and a goal may be scored directly from it.

As to the free kick for the deliberate handling noted in your question, [we] do not know if your league's rules of competition for U7 call for indirect free kicks for every foul. If they do, then the referee's decision was incorrect. However, under the Laws of the Game deliberate handling is punished with a direct free kick, not an indirect free kick, and the initial tap on the ball would not have negated the second touch by the [team deleted] player and the goal would have counted.


MANAGEMENT OF INAPPROPRIATE PLAYER TALK

Question:
I am not fluent in Spanish, but I understand enough to distinguish between disagreement and a flurry of obscenity. Generally speaking, I punish Spanish F/A just like English F/A.

Recently I was AR for a game where all the players spoke English, and some spoke Spanish too. After one foul call by the CR, a player let fly with a very "colorful" insult at the CR. The CR (who speaks fluent Spanish, too) looked at him and gave him a verbal warning. In English, for everyone to hear.

After the game, I asked the CR if he would have responded the same way if the player had said the equivalent in English. He said no, it would have been straight red. His reasoning was that by choosing to use a language that fewer people understood, the player was doing the equivalent of mumbling under his breath. In other words, he didn't make it public.

I have to applaud the CR for his man management in this case. The game proceeded without further incident. But I'm wondering if this principle is one that can be used in general. Does switching to a second language give the players more liberty?

Answer (April 17, 2011):
Under the Law, a player is sent off for using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures. That incorporates the whole of human communication. "Liberty" must be defined within the context of the particular interaction. The Laws of the Game do not care which language a player, team official, referee or AR speaks. What is important under the Laws is what that person actually says or means or understands. None of that is necessarily language-dependent. Given that basis, our answer follows.

Yes, the player should probably have been sent off for an infringement of the Law, but the referee chose not to do it. It would seem that his manner of dealing with the use of the colorful language was correct for this particular incident. It might not have worked for all of us and it might not work for that referee with another player or in another game, but it worked here. However, it did work and that is one of the elements of good refereeing, to find a solution that works for everyone and ensures that the Spirit of the Game prevails.

Remember, whatever the language, a red card for abusive, insulting, or offensive language cannot really be justified if, in the opinion of the referee, no one was abused, insulted, or offended by it.


WHAT'S A CLUB LINESMAN TO DO?

Question:
I volunteer for asst referee duties in mini-soccer and am confused by an apparent anomaly in the rules. It relates to child welfare and possible mass confrontation issues.

If you enter a pitch without a referee's permission you could be charged with misconduct - but if your help is needed, you are prevented from helping because of the fear of being charged with misconduct!

What is the correct answer for the following case studyŠ?

"A tackle in a youth game results in a broken ankle. It was a fair tackle but an unfortunate accident. No foul is given. Play is stopped due to the injury.

The parent of the child whose leg is broken runs on the pitch and screams at the referee. The referee (aged 16) explains that the tackle was fair but that the boy fell awkwardly. The parent doesn't accept this explanation and proceeds to shake the "tackler" by the shoulders and lets off a volley of expletives.

The referee goes to help the child but by now the adult is out of control and punches the referee to the floor".

You are the assistant referee. Would you Š..
a.) Instantly recognise a trigger issue. Follow procedure, intervene at the earliest possible moment to protect the child, prevent the referee from being punched and to help calm the situation down? b.) Wait until after the child was shaken and the referee punched to satisfy yourself that help was needed?
c.) Do nothing. You are not allowed to enter the playing area unless instructed to do so by the referee. The fact that he/ she is a child and now incapable of sending or receiving a signal is irrelevant.

Answer (April 17, 2011):
The club linesman (CL), which is what you are in this situation,has absolutely no authority to do anything but indicate that the ball has passed out of play. However, any decent person acting as CL will recognize that only trouble can occur if any unauthorized person enters the field without the permission of the referee The CL would be within his rights to do whatever was necessary to protect the players or the referee from injury by an outside person who has invaded the pitch. We hesitate to give any specifics here, as local laws on such things vary.


THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PREGAME CONFERENCE

Question:
I have two questions about communication between the AR and the CR. In both cases, I was the AR.

1. U14B, ball is played by the attacking team diagonally toward the CR's quadrant. An attacker and a defender are chasing it. The ball goes just over the touch line (last touched by the original attacking passer) but is immediately played by the chasing attacker. The ball comes back into play, strikes the defender and then goes way over the touch line. As soon as the ball originally crossed the touch line I (AR) raised my flag, but the CR was focused on the play, as it was deep in his quadrant, and awarded the throw in to the attacking team.

Play continued from there. What should I have done?

2. Men's competitive match. Long punt from red keeper well past center line. Both a red attacker and a blue defender are facing the punt, and backing toward blue's goal in anticipation of playing the ball.

When blue feels he is in the right place, he stops backing up and to soften the impending collision with red, shields himself with his hands. When red attacker feels the hands on his back, he throws himself forward and snaps his head back in a flop. The defender's hands don't move, that is, he didn't push. Since CR is in the center of the field, he can't see the non-push and blows the whistle awarding a DFK to red. From my position on the side, I have a better view of what actually happened. What should I have done?

thanks!

Answer (April 17, 2011):
All such situations should be discussed in the pregame conference among the match officials. In general, the referee must in all events acknowledge and process the information presented by the AR (in the form of a flag) who was clearly in a better position then the referee to see how the play developed and what infringement might have occurred before making the final decision. To do otherwise is to risk grievous errors and turn a simple game into a battle. That said, if the referee believes in his or her heart of hearts that the original decision reached without assistance from the AR was absolutely correct, then the AR can do nothing but accept the decision-and then ponder later, after the game, on what a fool the referee is.

These things should have been discussed in the pregame but, since they weren't, what could you or other ARs do? Given that there was not a discussion in the pregame regarding these matters, the best thing you could have done if you were certain that your intervention was needed would have been to raise your flag straight up (and hope that the other AR would mirror your signal if the referee was not looking in your direction), wait for the referee to look at you and, when this happens, motion the referee over to you as an indication that you had information the referee needed in order not to make a mistake. Doing anything more than this (e. g., calling out to the referee before play could be restarted) would depend on a host of factors we cannot judge--for example, is this the sort of referee who values being right more than facing a temporary embarrassment for having missed something?


PARRYING, PLAYING, AND POSSESSION

Question:
I was an AR in a Boys U14 Division 5 match the other day.

When White played an errant ball to Red's goalkeeper, who was well within his own penalty area, the 'keeper reached down, stopped the ball from going across the end line with his hand, stood back up, then picked up the ball. I believed this to be an offense, as I explain below, but I didn't flag for it, as I've been chastised by CRs in the past for calling what they considered to be trifling, obscure offences, and I believe that's what my CR would have thought, especially considering the low skill level of the teams playing.

But I'd like to make sure that my interpretation is correct that this action violated the Law 12 stipulation that "An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, inside his own penalty area, commits any of the following four offences: ... touches the ball again with his hands after he has released it from his possession and before it has touched another player."

Is "possession" in this context defined as actually holding and supporting the ball with the hand(s), or is a mere deliberate, controlling touch with the hand(s) sufficient for "possession," as happened in this case?

Answer (April 17, 2011):
It may be obscure and it may be trifling, but it is the Law, clearly expressed in Law 12 and interpreted in the USSF publication "Advice for Referees on the Laws of the Game" for players, coaches, referees, and older referees who never read the Laws:
QUOTE
12.19 SECOND TOUCH BY THE GOALKEEPER
After relinquishing control of the ball, a goalkeeper violates Law 12 if, with no intervening contact, touch or play of the ball by a teammate or an opponent, he or she handles the ball a second time. This includes play after parrying the ball. Referees should note carefully the text in the IGR, which defines "control" and distinguishes this from an accidental rebound or a save.

In judging a second touch with the hands by the goalkeeper, referees must take into account tactical play which may seem unsporting but is not against the Laws of the Game or even the spirit of the game. If a goalkeeper and a teammate play the ball back and forth between them, the goalkeeper can handle the ball again legally so long as the teammate has not kicked the ball to the goalkeeper. However, of course, an opponent can challenge for the ball during such a sequence of play. The players are "using" but not "wasting" time. The referee's goal under these circumstances is to be close enough to manage the situation if the opposing team decides to intervene.

The "second possession" foul is punished only by an indirect free kick from the place where the goalkeeper handled the ball the second time*. Please note: A goalkeeper may never be punished with a penalty kick for deliberately handling the ball within his or her own penalty area, even if the handling is otherwise a violation of another restriction in Law 12.
END OF QUOTE

In the strictest sense you were correct in your interpretation, but you did well in not raising the flag. There are mitigating reasons why a non-call is appropriate. (1) The first touch of the 'keeper meant to stop the ball from advancing, Although this is not parrying in the strictest sense it had the same purpose. (2) This appears to be a trifling offense.

We recommend that the referee warn the goalkeeper on the first occurrence and punish the act if it is repeated.


SECOND CAUTION? STRAIGHT SEND-OFF?

Question:
A player receives a caution for a tackle. The player who was tackled is still down for several minutes, there has been no restart to the game. Can the referee issue a Second Caution to the same player?

Answer (April 17, 2011):
1. Directly to the question you posed:
On what pretext would the referee want to issue a second caution in this situation? The referee saw the initial act as either reckless or as unsporting behavior, so called the foul and issued the caution. The fact that the "injured" player is still down is not grounds for a second caution.

Instead of worrying about a caution, the referee should be interested in the condition of the player on the field. If the "injury" seems to be serious, the referee should allow a competent person from the player's team to examine the player and help him off the field.

2. An alternative solution:
Because play has not been restarted the referee may, upon mature reflection over the nature of the challenge and subsequent foul, change his or her mind from the initial caution to a send-off for serious foul play or violent conduct, whichever is applicable.


CHASING BALLS

Question:
What obligation does my keeper have to chase after errant shots on goal that go 30-40 yards out of bounds after each shot. Our rules required the home team (not me) to provide 3 game balls but they only provided one. After the first errant shot, I asked the AR where the other game balls were and was told there were none. I suggested they get some because my keeper is not going to run 60-80 yards after each bad shot. After no other balls were forthcoming and after about the fifth bad shot, I told my keeper to walk to get the balls, and the referee criticized me for timewasting. I said this would not be an issue if you would get the required number of game balls. My real question is does my keeper have to get the balls at all?

Answer (April 12, 2011):
Whichever team is putting the ball back into play must make the effort to go after balls that are kicked beyond the immediate area of the goal line. (We cannot give a specific distance as a measure, as fields differ in their setting.) In any case, in order to expedite play each team should volunteer one person to stand behind each goal to retrieve the errant balls.

If the rules of the competition (league, cup, club) require that the home team provide three balls, then the referee MUST also enforce the rules before worrying about the visiting team not running great distances for the ball. However, if the home team cannot come up with three balls, then the visiting team may be able to furnish them. (The referee must also have checked all three balls prior to the start of the game for suitability, in accordance with Law 2 and Law 5.)


INTERFERING WITH AN OPPONENT (WITH A TWIST)

Question:
"An attacker in an offside position whose gestures or movements, in the opinion of the officiating team, cause an opponent to challenge for the ball has interfered with an opponent and should be ruled offside whether the attacker touches the ball or not."

Just what gesture does a attacking player have to do? I have never seen this explained anywhere. No examples. Does the attacker really need to gesture or move?

Generally, in all the soccer I watch, if a pass is made to an attacker they do not need to do any special to get a defender to run over to them. This seems to say that if an attacker does not gesture or move there is no offside offense.

What if the only reason the offside attacker did not receive the ball is if the defender make a deflection or cleared the ball out of bounds as a defensive play on the attacker (who did not gesture or move)?

Does the defender really have to guess whether they should clear a ball based on the gesture or movement of the attacker?

Should the attacking team benefit by receiving a throw or corner from a play made against an offside attacker?

Is the referee right? No flag?

Answer (April 11, 2011):
Your introductory paragraph is taken from a position paper issued by U. S. Soccer on August 24, 2005, explaining a Circular issued by the International Football Association Board, the body that makes the rules we play by, the Laws of the Game. (No, it is not FIFA that does this, although FIFA is a powerful member of the IFAB.) Your introductory paragraph is taken from a position paper issued by U. S. Soccer on August 24, 2005, explaining a Circular issued by the International Football Association Board, the body that makes the rules we play by, the Laws of the Game. (No, it is not FIFA that does this, although FIFA is a powerful member of the IFAB.)

However, that document does not provide the full information you need. A later memorandum of March 25, 2009, should fill the gap:

QUOTE
Subject: Offside - Interfering with Play

Date: March 25, 2009

The first goal scored in the new MLS season (New York Red Bulls at Seattle Sounders, March 19, see accompanying clip) was the subject of controversy based on the argument that a teammate of the scorer was in an offside position at the time and had become involved in active play by interfering with play. The goal was from Sounder #17 (Montero) against the Red Bull goalkeeper #1 (Cepero) and the Sounder forward alleged to have been offside was #23 (Nyassi).

The following facts are not in dispute:

* Nyassi was in an offside position.
* Nyassi did not become involved in active play by gaining an advantage (historically, this is only an issue if the ball has rebounded from the crossbar, a goalpost, or a defender, which it did not in this case).
* Nyassi did not interfere with an opponent. He did not get in the way of a defender, make any movement or gesture which deceived or distracted an opponent, and, most importantly, did not block the goalkeeper's line of sight (the attack came in from the goalkeeper's left whereas the attacker ran from the goalkeeper's right and was at least several yards away from the goalkeeper when the shot on goal was made).
* Nyassi did not interfere with play (no contact with the ball).

The assistant referee was well placed, in line with the second to last defender, to confirm these essential elements in deciding for an offside violation. Accordingly, there was no offside violation and the goal was valid.

* The debate has been vigorous over the last several years regarding the way in which an attacker in an offside position can be involved in active play. The definition provided by the International Board regarding "gaining an advantage" is clear and based on concrete observable facts. The definition of "interfering with an opponent" involves various judgments but is generally clear in its application since the primary issue here is whether the interference results from blocking paths and/or lines of sight.

This memorandum confirms that "interfering with play" cannot be decided unless the attacker in an offside position makes contact with the ball.
END OF QUOTE

In brief, blocking the line of sight or an opponent's path while in an offside position comes under the heading of "interfering with an opponent" but the third element (distract/deceive) does take movement - i.e., merely standing there, in a particular place, is not enough (unless that "there" blocks sight/path), the attacker must do something, but that "something" has to be "in the opinion of the referee."


ADDITIONAL ASSISTANT REFEREE EXPERIMENT

Question:
Question: With the addition of the fifth and sixth match officials in certain competitions, there are questions that arise about the roles of the referee and his various assistants. Has USSF started any training to institute the additional referees (with a nod to placement of a team at future major world competitions)? And from cursory watching of televised matches, it certainly appears positioning of the CR in the 6 man crew is WAY different than we have come to expect.

The recent CL game between Chelsea and Man United brought this thought to me. The CR's positioning was so different then what we have been shown to be effective that I thought USSF would need to be thinking of what to do going forward. If we are to advance our referees into the major competitions, and we have no experience in the 6-man crew, that would be a serious drawback. Also, I can't figure out why the CR's positioning needs to be so different.

And although, I do not expect to ever be placed as a fifth or sixth, will you eventually publish something along the lines of your current publications that detail the roles of the various referees on a match?

Answer (April 11, 2011):
The AAR (Additional Assistant Referee) system is an "experiment " granted by FIFA to only a few competitions. Usually an "experiment" granted by FIFA is for 3 years. After that evaluations of the experiment are submitted to IFAB for consideration.

At this point, U.S. Soccer is not one of the participating confederations using the Additional Assistant Referee System (AAR). Since we are no participating, we are not currently training our referees to work within this system. If that changes, we will train our referees accordingly.


RIGHT TO THE BALL AFTER A GOAL IS SCORED

Question:
This is a very important point that creates a lot of confusion amongst the players, coaches and referees:
* A team that was behind in a game scores and all the sudden sense a comeback. A player from the team that just scored; rushes to the net to grab the ball to bring it as fast as possible to the center. The goalie (who just got scored on) grabs the ball from the opponent since it is "his team possession" (kickoff after being scored on).
* I believe that the team who got scored on has the right to bring the ball to the center in a timely matter as long as there are no signs of wasting time.
* We see this incidence over and over in professional soccer. One time, there was a game between Arsenal (ARS) & New Castle (NC) where NC was down 4:0 and as soon as they scored, the goal scorer ran to the net to grab the ball so the ARS goalie blocked him and went to grab it himself. The referee ended up cautioning ARS goalie as he considered him wasting time. Of course, when the goalie rushed to the net to grab the ball, he was pushed by the opponent player (who got away from a card).

My question here: What is the proper approach/call that the referee must take in such a situation? I am sure this is a common situation in U13 & up games especially for high flighted games.

Answer (April 5, 2011):
Your logic would seem to be correct The ball actually "belongs" to the team scored against, as they must kick off. If the referee detects delaying or timewasting tactics in this process, he or she is empowered by Law 7 to add time to make up for that which was lost.

The following answer was published on January 23, 2010. It includes the reasoning and suggestions for what the referee should do in such cases.

QUOTE
TUSSLE OVER BALL IN GOAL BR> After the referee has stopped play for a goal, the ball, although "dead" until play is restarted with a kick-off, does belong to the team against which the goal was scored. Traditionally the ball is carried back to the center spot by the team against which the goal was scored (Red). A player who provokes confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play may be cautioned for delaying the restart of play. (See Law 12, "Delaying the restart of play," in the Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees in the back of the Laws of the Game 2009/2010.) This would be the case of the player from the scoring team (B) who was interfering with the Team A player carrying the ball to the center of the field.
The team which has possession (Red) may "allow" the opposing team to hold/transfer/carry/etc. the ball by acceding to the action (i. e., not disputing it). However, the opposing team does this at its peril. In your game, Blue, perhaps believing that Red was moving too slowly to carry the ball back to the center circle for the kick-off, tried to take the ball that "belonged" to Team Red. Blue has no right at any time to request that the ball be given over to it (including such childish behavior as attempting to grab the ball or punch the ball out of the Red player's control.

Rather than immediately cautioning either player, the true owner (against whose team the goal was scored) and the "wannabe" owner (whose team will be defending at the kick-off), it would be better if you simply spoke quickly to both players, admonishing the wannabe owner to leave the ball alone. You could also tell the player that you will judge whether there is any "delay" in getting the ball back to the center spot and will, if necessary, add time to make up for any time lost.

There is little reason to immediately caution either player if you do what we suggest above. In any event, the possibility of a caution would depend on HOW the Blue player attempts to gain possession (i. e., how aggressively, how prolonged, etc.). We cannot see how the mere fact of attempting to gain possession is itself cautionable.

The critical fact that makes the player's action cautionable is that his attempt to retrieve the ball caused a tussle with the true "owner" of the ball, the GK. If this hadn't been inserted into the scenario, then the referee could well have ignored the whole thing . . . because there would in fact have been no delay.
END OF QUOTE


PLAYER UNIFORMS

Question:
It appears that during the 'regular' season there are only a handful of referees that still require a player's shirt to be tucked in at the beginning of the match. Virtually all matches at higher levels do not seem to worry at all about this. I feel almost alone in this area - why do we still require this if so many (the majority) don't give it a second thought?

Answer (April 5, 2011):
In the past custom, tradition, and safety required that players keep their shirts tucked in and their socks pulled up and generally maintain a professional appearance. However, nowadays the uniforms are cut differently by the manufacturers and the jerseys are clearly meant to be worn outside the shorts. It is time for us referees catch up with modern fashion and learn to live with it.


GOALKEEPER AND FIELD PLAYER ABOUT TO EXCHANGE POSITIONS

Question:
Law 3 states that refs should wait till the ball is out of play before cautioning players that make a keeper switch without permission. Why?

What about the moment after the keeper has the shirt off but before the new keeper has it on? Right then the defense is playing WITHOUT a keeper. That's forbidden.

What if the other team attacks while the keeper jersey is laying on the ground? Certainly this is to be avoided.

I'm pretty sure this is just angels dancing on the head of a pin, because I have never seen it, but the instant I saw the keeper take his shirt off, I would be sorely tempted to stop play. Is my position defensible?

Answer (March 30, 2011):
No, your position is not defensible. How can we say that? Read on.

As appears to be the case in your question, if the goalkeeper and the field player haven't actually exchanged jerseys yet, it can't be an illegal goalkeeper change because-guess what?-no shift in positions has occurred. Were they ABOUT to? Sure (at least a reasonable inference), but it is not illegal to attempt to change places or to have the thought in one's head that you want to change places. About the only thing you could get them on is for removing their shirts, and that would be a mighty long stretch.


PROFESSIONAL REFEREE COMMUNICATIONS DEVICES

Question:
What device are current MLS referees using? I know they were REFTALKS, but now what are they?

Answer (March 30, 2011):
It is still RefTalk, but the ear piece has been modified. The receiver is slightly smaller and the wiring has changed. In short, it is the new and improved version.


U.S. Soccer thanks Jim Allen (National Instructor Staff and National Assessor ret., assisted by National Instructor Trainer Dan Heldman, for their assistance in providing this service. Direction is provided by Alfred Kleinaitis, Manager of Referee Development and Education, with further assistance from Ryan Money, Manager of Referee Education Resources; David McKee, National Director of Assessment (assessment matters); Jeff Kollmeyer, National Instructor, indoor and Futsal; and Ulrich Strom, retired National Instructor and National Assessor (matters in general).

Submit your questions via e-mail to askareferee@ussoccer.org.

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