US SoccerUS Soccer

November 2003 Archive (III of III)

Submit your questions via e-mail to


When a coach is "sent off" the field of play by the referee, has he been banished from watching the match from the other side of the field? And would he still be allowed to communicate with his other coaches still on the bench, either by hand signals or cell phone, etc., etc.?

I was taught that once a coach has been sent off, he/she is required to leave the field and no longer coach. Is there further sanction the referee should take?

Answer (November 28, 2003):
When a coach or other team official is dismissed from the game, he must leave the field and its environs. While players may be cautioned for unsporting behavior for using a cell phone or similar devices during a game, there is no prohibition in the Laws of the Game against team technical personnel using phones. However, such use may be prohibited by the rules of the competition, e. g., NCAA and high school. The only thing that would stop a disqualified coach from communicating with the team would be those rules of competition


Interesting situation arose over the past weekend. AR was asked by a player to hold the corner flag out of the way because the wind was blowing really hard. AR didn't know any better, and believing that he was being helpful, obligingly held the flag out the way. To compound the problems, the corner kick resulted in a goal. Obviously the defending coach was livid. Should the corner kick have been retaken or stood as a score?

Part 2: there seems to always be little things like the above that drive us refs nuts as we continue our learning. As well meaning as our general rule books are, they lack specifics on how to deal with strange (but not that uncommon) situations. For instance, during yet another game over the weekend a referee blew his whistle thinking a ball had gone over the touch line - when in reality he mistakenly misread the perimeter markings of the goal box as the touch line (trust me, the field markings were strange to say the least). He restarted the play by awarding the team with the possession at the whistle with an indirect kick. After the game, this decision gnawed on him, and he refenced some "10 page addendum" to the normal rule book. And, yup, there in black and white, it addressed this situation as a restart with drop ball. Situations like this happen - although not frequently, they still occur. What was this "10 page addendum" the referee had? Are there some all inclusive referee books that deals with situations over and above the basic referee tenets? What would you recommend?

Answer (November 28, 2003):

Part 1: We can only say shame on the assistant referee! The seven duties of the AR are enumerated in Law 6, and holding the corner flag is not one of them. If a player is not entitled to do this, why should the AR become an accomplice in the player's crime?

Part 2:
We have no idea about any ten-page addendum to the Laws, unless the referee was thinking of the Additional Instructions to Referees, which are included in the back of the Law book, but there is nothing there about restarts in the situation you describe. However, Law 8 describes the dropped ball as the correct restart in any case "after a temporary stoppage which becomes necessary, while the ball is in play, for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game."

We recommend that all referees obtain, either through purchase of the hardcopy edition or downloading the PDF file on the US Soccer referee webpage, a copy of the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game." An alternative would be to read through a copy of the "The Laws of the Game -- Made Easy" before moving to harder material like the "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game."


In a U-14 game the goal keeper (blue team) made a save and took a few forward steps to put the ball back into play. In doing so he stepped out of the penalty box (a hand ball). The Referee didn't see the infraction, but the AR signaled the penalty. The referee didn't see the AR as play was toward the other end of the field and the trail AR didn't mirror the flag. The AR kept his flag up as play developed. Finally the ball was kick out of bounds across the goal line giving the red team the goal kick. At this time the referee notice the flag up and went to confer with the AR. Finding out that there had been a hand ball by the blue goalkeeper, instead of the red team taking a goal kick, he brought the ball back to the point of the hand ball and gave the red team a direct free kick from that point. Is that the correct procedure or since the penalty was not noted until the next stoppage should it have been a restart by goal kick by the red team?

Answer (November 28, 2003):
The original offense was trifling and should have been disregarded. The assistant refereE called something the referee likely did not need to deal with and thus put the referee in a no-win position. The AR should have let it go.

The reasoning behind the answer: 1. The contact with the ball might not even have been an offense -- could not the exact location of the goalkeeper's handling of the ball been at least doubtful?
2. Even if not doubtful, the offense was almost certainly trifling and should have been ignored by the AR.
3. Even if the AR chose not to ignore the offense, the AR should have dropped his flag after that much time had gone by (how long an AR holds the flag for a violation of Law 12 should be discussed in the pregame but, where the offense does not involve violence, sustained flags are not beneficial).
4. Even if the AR maintained the flag, the referee should have decided to overrule the AR's information for any or all of the reasons listed above.


My question is in regards of a situation that I was faced to deal with during a game earlier this season. It was a Classic level game in which a team showed up with no coach. There was no team manager, coach, or any team officials present at the field. I read the rulebook and saw that there is no area regarding coaches, but what would have been the correct course of action? Play the game or not play?

Answer (September 9, 2003):
While there is no requirement in the Laws of the Game that a coach, team manager, or other team official be present at any game, it may be required by the rules of the competition. Moral: Know the rules of the competition in which you referee.


One of [our State] Cup semifinal U11G playoff games last weekend required penalty kicks to decide a winner. After several "normal" kicks, the following situation occurred: The kicker stuck the ball and propelled it toward the goal. The keeper then moved forward to block the kick (no keeper violation). The keeper missed the ball. The ball stuck the crossbar then rebounded into the field of play. It struck the keeper then rebounded backwards across the goal line and into the goal. What is the correct call ... goal or no goal?

During normal time, this would be a goal, since play would continue and there would be attackers and defenders involved in the continuation of play (including the keeper).

At the end of a half or in a shootout, it isn't obvious to me (or several other referees watching the game) whether the play ends when the ball comes to rest (or leaves the field of play or enters the goal) or whether the play ends when the shot is missed (hitting the crossbar and rebounding back into the field of play in this case).

Fortunately, the call made in the game did not decide the outcome, as one team failed on several other shootout attempts.

Answer (November 27, 2003):
Score the goal. The penalty kick or kick from the penalty mark is not completed until the referee declares it so, and the referee should not declare the kick to be completed if it is any possibility that it is still in play.

To put it another way: So long as the ball is in motion and contacting any combination of the ground, crossbar, goalposts, and goalkeeper, a goal can still be scored.


In the December issue of [a national magazine] a situation is described where a defender is dribbling the ball in the PA and the keeper comes up and takes the ball away from him using his hands. [The] Magazine interprets this as permissible because the ball was not "deliberately" played to the keeper. This goes against all I have been taught, as the ball was last played by the foot of the defender. I do notice, however, that the wording in the 2003 Laws of the Game use the words "deliberately played." What is correct and do we now need to distinguish deliberately played from accidental?

Answer (November 27, 2003):
The spirit of the Law is that a goalkeeper may not play a ball last played deliberately from the foot of a teammate. If the defender has played the ball with his foot, trapping the ball and leaving it for the goalkeeper to pick up, that is the same as kicking the ball deliberately to the goalkeeper. The same would be true if the goalkeeper reached down and picked up a ball being dribbled by a teammate.


Most leagues require their games to be assigned by a USSF registered assignor. In some cases the smaller leagues do not have this requirement and referees get calls from coaches to referee their regularly scheduled games. If the game or scrimmage is USSF sanctified and the referee is USSF registered, but the game is not assigned by a USSF registered assignor, is the referee covered by USSF insurance?

If the referee is insured, does the assignor have anything to do with the insurance coverage of a registered referee?

Answer (November 27, 2003):
If the referee is currently registered with USSF for the year and the game is an affiliated game, the referee is insured regardless of how he received the assignment. This has been verified by the Chief Financial Officer, who oversees the USSF insurance coverage.


I know that if a coach questions a call on the field or just disagrees with it they are to voice it in a polite manner either upon the completion of the game or at half-time. I recently was involved in a game where the Ref Assignor for a club was the center ref and his 14 year old daughter was the AR. Mind you know that this was a GU13 relegation game when during the second half the AR without being spoken to said to my girls and an Asst Coach " you guys have a "Fing" attitude.". My question is when do you address this kind of issue? After the game and take the chance of it continuing? Or like we did by getting the centers attention? This is when we found out that the AR was his daughter. Please help in answering what is the correct procedure.

Answer (November 24, 2003):
No official in any sport, of either sex or of any age, has a right to speak in such a manner to players, coaches, or spectators. The team should file a full report with the competition (league) authority on the matter and should also file a full report and letter of grievance with the state youth association.

The fact that the assistant referee was the assignor's daughter makes no difference in this case.

You can try getting the referee's attention to report this.


Is there any guide line to the amount of flood lights needed to play a game safely in the evening? There are several youth teams that have their own fields and are putting in their own flood lights for practice and are now using the same fields for late games on the weekend.

Answer (November 14, 2003):
No, there is no guideline on floodlights. We can assume that you would apply the same rule of thumb as for fog and rain: If the referee cannot see from the halfway line to both ends of the field, then there is not enough light to play the game safely.


I recently had the following happen in a U-14 game. A defender, in the box, was covering the attacking player with the ball. The defender had his arms in a normal defensive position about shoulder height and partially extended. The attacker kicked the ball towards the goal on either a cross or a shot and the ball went straight into the left arm of the defender and bounced across the goal line out of play. The defender did not use his arm to propel the ball out of play. In my opinion the ball was not deliberately played by the defender, instead the ball “played” the defender. The center referee called a PK. I question the referees judgment on this foul. If they truly felt that it was deliberately played by the player, thus awarding the PK, then the defender should have been sent off for denying a goal scoring opportunity or yellow carded for unsporting behavior. If not, then no foul should have been called because it was unintentional.

I brought this question to our local association referee president and he told me that the law had changed. He indicated that the rule book no longer says "intentional", but "through your actions", so it comes down to merely a judgment call. I cannot find any changes in the "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" 2003 regarding this change. Can you help clarify this?

Answer (November 14, 2003):
Without wishing to insult your association president, who very likely meant precisely what is stated below, the information you were given is partially correct, partially incorrect, and generally flawed.

When making a decision on the first six direct-free-kick fouls listed in Law 12 -- kicking or attempting to kick an opponent, tripping or attempting to trip an opponent, jumping at an opponent, charging an opponent, striking or attempting to strike an opponent, and pushing an opponent -- the referee no longer looks for "intent" in a player's actions, but for the result of that action and whether the act was committed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force.

When making a decision on the second four direct-free-kick fouls -- tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball; holding an opponent; spitting at an opponent; or handling the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area) -- the referee looks only at the result. He or she does not need to establish that the act was done carelessly, recklessly, or with the use of excessive force. The fact that it was done, in the opinion of the referee, is enough for the foul to be called.

In the case of deliberate handling, the referee determines simply whether or not the play was deliberate or accidental. (See Sections 12.9 and 12.10 of the Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game, unchanged in the 2003 update.)

As to the final decision made during the game, only the referee who is there can do that.

With regard to your comment about misconduct, please note that a send-off for deliberate handling to deny a goal is not automatic simply because an act of deliberate handling occurred inside the penalty area. The general rule of thumb to follow for this offense is that, but for the handling, the ball would have gone into the net. Where there is no red-card misconduct, it does not follow that a caution must be given. The referee has full discretion to determine that a handling foul is simply that, a foul, with no additional misconduct attached to it (as might be the case if the handling were judged to have been committed to interfere with attacking play or in an attempt to score a goal).


What are the proper referee mechanics for dealing with a player who commits two cautionable fouls in succession before the referee can punish either foul?

Example 1: A player commits a foul against an opponent worthy of a yellow card and then gets up and makes a USB comment to the opponent, saying something similar to "That's what you get", etc.

Example 2: A player commits a foul against an opponent worthy of a yellow card and the referee gives advantage, telling the player that they will be cautioned at the next stoppage of play. The player commits another cautionable foul before the next stoppage.

Example 2A: There is no advantage after the second foul.

Example 2B: There is advantage again after this foul. Should play be stopped here immediately anyways because sending off the player could give the opponent a greater advantage and because the player who knows that they will be sent-off at the next play is essentially a "dead man walking" who cannot be penalized further if they commit an even more serious foul.

Example 3: A player commits two different cautionable offences such as committing a cautionable foul and then delaying the restart by kicking the ball away in disgust before the player knows that play will be stopped anyways to issue a caution. (The latter offense could also be seen as "dissent by action" if a player kicks a ball out of play in protest of the referee's decision.)

In these scenarios, how should the referee show the cards? Should the referee show the yellow twice in succession and then the red card? Should the ref just show one yellow card and then a red card, implying that the red card is for receiving two cautions in one match? Should the ref show just a red card and then right for the official reason two cautions and a red card and note that they occurred at the same time? Or should the ref show just a red card and give as the official reason violent conduct (because committing two cautionable offences in succession brings the game into disrepute and can be seen as an intimidation tactic, especially in Example 1) or abusive behavior?

Answer (November 14, 2003):If a player commits two cautionable offenses before the referee has had the opportunity to deal with the first one, that player will be cautioned and shown the yellow card twice, once for each of the misconduct offenses, and then sent off and shown the red card for receiving a second caution in the same match. That takes care of all your examples, but there is some misunderstanding to be cleared up.

Players may well be more severely punished for acts that occur after they have committed either a second cautionable offense or even serious foul play or violent conduct. Punishment consists of more than simply the cards and the risk of being sent off. The competition authority and local governments have powers that go far beyond those of the referee to punish the player who commits continuing and grave offenses. A player may be suspended for much longer than the single-game suspension typically levied for a send-off and may be required to pay fines at some levels of the game. A player who commits assault may also be subject to criminal and civil action for his deeds. The referee must supply full details of all such acts in the match report.

The referee should normally stop the game immediately to send off and show the red card (regardless of what sequence of events led up to it -- a single event or two separate events each worthy of a caution in the opinion of the referee). Either stop play immediately upon deciding for the red card or, if circumstances warrant, apply advantage but the referee must definitely delay the next restart in order to give the card.

And there is no need to invent terms such as "dissent by action." A player may be cautioned and shown the yellow card for delaying the restart of play by kicking the ball away.

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.

Submit your questions via e-mail to