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November 2004 Archive (I of II)

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I have two questions:
1.A defender plays the ball deliberately with their foot from their own penalty area to the side of the goal, possibly with the intention of sending the ball out of the penalty area to avoid a situation with an offensive player and incurring a corner kick. But then the goalkeeper runs and catches the ball within the penalty area to the side of the goal. I assert that Paragraph 12.20 of "Advice to Referees" clearly indicates this should be an IFK, but other "senior" referees assert that no infraction has occurred, and to whistle an infraction is against the "Spirit of the Laws" since the ball was not played to the goalkeeper.

2. The goal line between the goal posts is offset forward from the goal posts. I have seen this be as little as 1-2 inches to as much as 1-2 feet,and was caused by an untrained line painter avoiding the goal posts. I assert that a goal should be judged in close situations either by the referee or the AR by the goal posts, not the goal line, even if the offset is only an inch. And I assert that the opposing team captains and coaches should be informed of this guideline prior to the start of the game. Are these assertions correct?

Answer (November 10, 2004):
1. The decision on whether kicked passes to the goalkeeper are deliberate or not always rests with the referee on the spot. While we do not necessarily agree with the "senior referees," it is safe to say that this possible infringement may be ignored if it is truly trifling.

2. Marking the field is the responsibility of the home team. Any problems should be included in the referee's match report. If the goal lines are off by as much as you suggest, the game should not be started until the situation has been remedied in one way or another, possibly by removing the false line and replacing it with a correct one. If all else fails, play the game, but remember that to be scored as a goal, the ball must cross the goal line BETWEEN THE GOAL POSTS AND BENEATH THE CROSSBAR, not 1-2 inches or 1-2 feet out from them.


I was watching a U13 Girls game yesterday and the following occurred. White was attacking Blue's goal when a Blue player handled the ball in the box. The CR did not immediately call the foul, but after a few seconds, the ball was kicked over the end line, at which time the CR called the handling foul and gave White a PK. White subsequently scored resulting in a 1-1 tie. Blue's coach began screaming that the CR couldn't call the foul that late, and even got into a verbal confrontation with a White parent over it. Note that he did not dispute the foul, just the timing of the call.

What was the correct conclusion to this situation?

Answer (November 9, 2004):
It is usually unwise to play the advantage in the penalty area. That said, the referee may invoke the advantage clause and, if the advantage is not realized within the brief time span of 2-3 seconds, may call it back and award the free kick for the foul or misconduct.

In fact, the referee may have done just fine. Here is what we advise advanced-level referees to do when the defense commits a foul inside the penalty area: wait the 2-3 seconds and see what happens immediately thereafter. If the ball goes immediately into the net, the gods of soccer have proven themselves just; if it doesn't, call the foul and restart with the penalty kick.

Don't pay much attention to screaming coaches or let them influence anything you do. Most coaches don't know very much about the Laws of the Game and how referees are supposed to make decisions, but they are happy to try to influence calls all the same. [But see item below dated November 7, where the coach is right and the referee wrong.]


With 1:45 left in the game Team A pulled their keeper and put another player on (without goal keeper apparel) the referee noted the change and then Team A threw the ball in play. The AR was waving his flag for about 15 seconds and then finally put it down and let the play go on, Team A then scored about 15 seconds after the AR put his flag down. The player substituted in on the play never came within 30 yards of the ball and had no effect on the play. (They had 5 refs for this game 3 reffing and 1 on each teams side.) they disallowed the goal, put the time of the throw in back on the clock and started with a throw in from the original throw in with 1:45 on the clock and then that was that.

Is this the correct action? I know this what would be done if there was an extra player on Team A, but I wasn't sure what the action was if the team did not play with a goalkeeper.

Answer (November 8, 2004):
Five referees on a game? What kind of rules are these? This game cannot have been played under the aegis of the United States Soccer Federation, as it did not follow the Laws of the Game. And those referees who were there did not follow the Laws of the Game, so we can only suppose that this game was not affiliated with USSF or USYS. (Perhaps some sort of high school game?)

The Laws of the Game call for one referee and two assistant referees, aided at the higher levels of play by a fourth official. Only American football uses a platoon of referees.

Under the Laws of the Game no team may play without a goalkeeper. The goalkeeper does not need to be on the field if a goal is scored, but must be part of the team. (See answer of October 13, 2004: "THE GOALKEEPER DOES NOT NEED TO BE STANDING OR EVEN IN THE PENALTY AREA.") Furthermore, we do NOT roll back game events and time on the clock to some point at which the team presumably was "whole"-- we simply resolve the situation and then move onward.

The conduct of this game should be reported to the competition authority and to the state soccer association(s).


Can you bear a bit more discussion on this issue? [See item below dated November 2, 2004.]

With the change to the restart following the discovery of the extra player immediately after the scoring of an apparent goal by the offending team, it seems the IFAB is trying to say the offending team will be penalized as if the discovery was made instantaneously before the ball entered the goal.

Now let me pose my scenarios:

We have the subject situation, and the "oversized" team is awarded a PK, at which time the presence of the extraneous player is discovered. Do we negate the foul leading to the PK, and conduct a drop ball, or continue with the PK?

We have the subject situation, and the "correctly-sized" team is cited for a foul which in normal circumstances would subject the foulling player to being Sent Off for denying an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity. (For simplicity, let's say it wasn't VC or SFP in and of itself.) Now the extra player on the fouled team is discovered which meant the Opportunity was not really there, as the goal would have disallowed on this new ruling. Do we "un-Send-Off" the foulling player?

These kinds of questions keep me up nights!

Answer (November 8, 2004):
The answer to the first question is that it depends on whether or not the extraneous player was the one who was fouled. If so, the act was misconduct, not a foul, so no penalty kick can be awarded. The extraneous player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field without the referee's permission. The game is restarted with a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when the misconduct occurred. If the extraneous player was not the one who was fouled, then the penalty kick may proceed after the extraneous player is cautioned and removed from the game.

The second situation is resolved in a similar manner, except that there can be no send-off for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity. In that case, the opponent who committed the "foul" on the extraneous player may still be sent off for violent conduct if the actual act was committed with excessive force.


In a recent game, the goalie collected the ball and ran to the 18 to punt. When he punted the ball he was across the line. I called the foul. The coach questioned the call at the half saying that he believes that the goalie can toss the ball over the 18 and then make contact(punt). That is how he coaches his goalies to get an extra step. I didn't see the toss over the line and even if he did-would that be considered a second touch?

Answer (November 7, 2004):
Yes, the coach is correct. The goalkeeper may release the ball before leaving the penalty area and then kick the ball while outside the area. The goalkeeper is allowed to kick the ball outside the penalty area, provided he does not carry the ball over the line--but even crossing the line while releasing the ball is a very trivial offense, particularly if the goalkeeper is clearly putting the ball back into play for everyone.

The term "second touch" does not apply in this situation.


As the coach for a U-18 Girls team I attempt to teach them proper time management of the situations they face during matches. If they are leading and a ball goes out of bounds, they take their time to get the ball and take the restart. If we are losing and the ball goes out of bounds on us, they run to the ball, set it up for the opposing team so the other team can take a faster restart. I see these tactics used at every level, it is part of the game. We have received stern warnings from the officials to get the ball in play as quick as possible. We have also seen yellow cards issued for kicking the ball "too far" out of play allowing our team to get numbers back and recover their shape defensively. My point is; if the other team wants the game to flow continuously, they should not have kicked the ball out of bounds. If they think we are taking too much time on our restart, they have the option of spending their energy to chase the ball and set it up for us to restart. It makes no sense for my players to run to the ball wasting their energy, while the other team is standing and recovering their breath, to get the ball back in play quickly allowing more time for the opposing team to score on us. If the official thinks that we are wasting time he has the discretion to add time to the end of the match.

My questions are: (1) Is this a cautionable offense? (2) Does the official have the right to speak sternly to my players? (3) Is this not a tactic used at all levels? (4) What law covers kicking the ball "too far" out of bounds (5) What law dictates that players must jog to recover a ball kicked out of bounds by the opposing team?

Answer (November 4, 2004):
(1) It can be a cautionable offense if the player does not react quickly to the referee's instructions to get the ball back into play.
(2) Yes, if it is deserved.
(3) Yes, and it should be punished at all levels if it goes beyond allowable limits--which are set by the individual referee, based on this moment in this game on this day. There is no standard for all referees in this matter. (4 and 5) As you suggest, the referee should simply add time if a team kicks the ball too far out of play. The referee should also make allowances for the distance that the team with the restart has to cover to retrieve the ball. However, if the referee determines that the team with the restart is exceeding a reasonable limit in getting the ball back into play, the referee may caution the player for delaying the restart of play--although this is usually preceded by a warning.


There is a team that my daughter has played against for 2 to three years that has consistently thrown elbows off the ball and do it in a way that conceals it away from the center referee. The first time I heard my daughter complain to me my first thought was that they were playing hard and she was just upset about it. I watched closely and observed what she was complaining about. During a game about a year ago I asked the side referee to please watch these girls throwing elbows into the side of our girls and he actually acknowledged that is what he saw but deferred to the center ref (he told me that was the center refs call). Unfortunately when the foul was acknowledged but disregarded it did not sit well with me. The team my daughter plays on is a fair team that wins as many as they lose and the coach emphasizes fair play and good sportsmanship. That was important to me. I understand that their is only one center ref and can not see what all 22 kids are doing at each moment of the game. My concern has never been with the outcome of this game but with the safety of these kids. How can I approach this before something happens to one of our kids or one of the kids on the other teams?

Answer (November 3, 2004):
There would seem to be two courses of action open to you. The first is to write a letter to the league (or whatever the competition is), noting the behavior of the other team. The second is to write a letter to the State Referee Administrator about the referees who have done these games. (You will have to include full details as to date, place, teams, etc.). Approaching an individual referee would be of absolutely no use .

In addition, you have either misunderstood what the "side referee"-actually called the assistant referee-said or the "side referee" misunderstood his proper role. That role is NOT to routinely defer to the referee on all decisions about fouls, but to assist the referee (in accordance with Law 6) by signaling offenses not seen by the referee for which the referee would likely have stopped play had he seen them. At minimum, the assistant referee can also bring to the referee's attention individual instances of behavior or patterns of behavior which he has observed but for which he did not signal.


Player from Team A shoots. Keeper from Team B gains possession of the ball on the ground between the posts near the goal line and stands up. The Referee looks to the AR who has maintained position near the goal line and asks the AR "was that a goal?" The AR answers "no" and shakes his head. The Referee allows the Keeper from team B to continue play.

After 60 to 90 seconds the coach from Team A confronts the AR and tells the AR that a goal was scored. The AR signals the Referee and indicates that a goal was scored and the Referee stops play, indicates a goal was scored and restarts with a kickoff.

Setting aside the illegal interference by Team A's coach, is there a provision in the Law that allows a Referee stop play to award a goal once he has allowed play to continue in this, or any manner?

Answer (November 3, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game, the referee is entitled to change a decision as long as there has been no intervening restart. However, in this case the decision was unwarranted and foolish. The referee and the assistant referee had already agreed that there was no goal and the referee allowed play to continue. The referee has no authority to solicit or accept the opinion of an outside party, particularly one who is vitally interested in the outcome of the game.


My question involves substitution for the cautioned(yellow card) player. What is the rule for USSF youth games? I believe the player cannot be substituted unless it occurs during a substitution opportunity. Suppose I caution a player for a reckless foul, the restart being a direct free kick for the opposing team. A player cannot substitute for him under USSF youth rules; however under FIFA, the team may sub for him and under High school rules, he must leave the field and the team may or may not sub depending on their preference. Am I correct?

Answer (November 3, 2004):
The rule for youth games is exactly the same as for the rest of the world-a player may be substituted at any stoppage of play. That rule is sometimes modified by local rules of competition to restrict the number of opportunities for substitution. There is also a rule that no player may be forced to leave the field because of being cautioned. That rule may not be modified by any competition.

And you are in error about "USSF youth rules," which are actually those of US Youth Soccer. The USYS rules call for competitions to follow the Laws of the Game on substitution, with the single modification that, after having been substituted out, players may enter once again as substitutes later in the game. Again, some local rules of competition fail to follow this guidance from USYS.

You are probably thinking about what used to be considered the "standard youth exceptions" from the Referee Administrative Handbook, which will soon be removed from that book. You are correct with regard to high school rules.


Regarding this question and answer on the "current topics" page: Is the answer the same if the ball deflects off the keeper's teammate (instead of an opponent)?
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. END OF QUOTE

Answer (November 2, 2004):
Yes, the answer would be the same.


I have just become aware of an apparent contradiction between the IFAB 2004 Q&A document, and the Entry Level Course content. I draw your particular attention to Q&A Questions 7 and 8 under Law 3. In this scenario, we are presented with an evident contradiction to the Entry Level Course transparencies 3-19 and 3-20. I am referring to the situation in which a team's status of playing with an unauthorized (even an "extra") person is discovered either during play or after an apparent goal. Still in force is the fact that the extraneous person will be Cautioned and asked to leave the field of play, and in the second instance, the goal will not be allowed.

The issue becomes the restart, which, as we have been teaching it, would be an IFK to the opposing team, or in the second instance, a goal kick by that team. This Q&A document would have us instead conduct a drop-ball in both cases, at the spot where the ball was, if play was stopped for the discovery; or, if after the apparent goal, on the goal-area line parallel to the goalline, nearest to where the ball entered the goal. On the face of it, this seems a rather advantageous treatment for a team caught trying to cheat, and somewhat "arbitrary" in the specification of the placement. (It also violates one of my favorite Law parameters, in that once something has happened, nothing subsequent to that occurence will change the restart. In this case, the ball going over the goalline, not ultimately resulting in a goal, thereby leading to a goalkick, made sense.)

Has the Federation decided on how to treat this apparent discontinuity? As we enter the off-season, with the attendent high number of Entry Level Courses, having this difference between published IFAB data and information on the USSF website is worrisome.

Answer (November 2, 2004):
What you point out is not an "apparent contradiction," it's an evolving interpretation by the IFAB. The entry-level course materials predate FIFA's issuance of the IFAB's new version of its Q&A. It is incumbent on referees, instructors, and assessors to remain current on the Laws of the Game, along with all current interpretations, instructions, and guidelines. The new IFAB Q&A has been available on the FIFA website since the middle of this year.

As for the restart itself, the IFAB appears to have decided to standardize the restart whenever "extra" persons are discovered on the field of play-whether that extra person is a player who has returned without the referee's permission, a substitute who has entered without the referee's permission, or an outside agent (i.e., anyone else) -no matter what happens afterward. The placement of the restart is a practical issue. All dropped balls are where the ball was when play was stopped: if the ball was off the field (thus appearing to have stopped play), the IFAB guideline suggests that the dropped ball take place where the ball left the field. If this results in the restart being inside the goal area, then we have another rule that kicks in-that the restart be moved up to the top of the goal area on the six yard line closest to where the restart would otherwise have been.

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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