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October 2004 Archive (II of II)

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Regarding the question and answer of October 5, 2004: Is the answer the same if the ball deflects off the keeper's teammate (instead of an opponent) when the ball is kicked to the goalkeeper?

Answer (October 29, 2004):
Yes, the answer would be the same.


In a recent match the defender, under great pressure, deliberately passes the ball back to his keeper with his knee. The ball was bouncing by him and he "helped" it along by using his knee. The referee called for the indirect as soon as the referee handled it. I was always taught that the pass back to the keeper "foul" has to be with the foot and the foot is defined as ankle down. Please clarify.

Answer (October 29, 2004):
If, in the opinion of the referee, the player deliberately kicked the ball to the goalkeeper or to a place where the goalkeeper could easily play it, the requirements of the Law have been met as soon as the goalkeeper handles the ball. We should add that "kicking" the ball with the knee would not truly fall within the realm of kicking, so this situation would not appear to be an infringement.


In a recent youth match (U-12 recreational), one of the assistant coaches was observed wearing a warmup jacket with a conspicuous "National Referee Program" logo on the front. We have always advised our referees that, when they are at a field on the sidelines as a coach, they should not be wearing anything that calls attention to the fact that they are a referee. When a note was sent to the coach after the match requesting that they not come attired in this manner in the future, this individual, who indicated that they were a "national referee" requested that we cite an official source where this guidance is published. I know that the fellow referees I work with usually have two warmup jackets with them - one with referee insignia when working as an official, and one without, when on the sidelines in any other capacity. Is there guidance documented anywhere? Or is our practice to request referees acting as coaches not wear referee related attire another myth that has trickled down through the years?

Answer (October 27, 2004):
Referees should exercise common sense and not wear their uniform or other clothes that identify them as referees when they are coaching or watching a game. Wearing such clothing as a spectator invites comment and cries out for spectators or others to question the non-working referee on the calls of the officials on the field. Wearing such clothing as a coach could be considered a form of gamesmanship.


I was an AR in an U19 game yesterday and the following happened and I need your opinion: The attacking teams right wing was in front of me and getting ready to shoot on goal and shot when she was charged and fouled. I raised my flag to indicate a foul and before the center blew his whistle the ball was in flight towards and goal and subsequently went in the goal. The goalie stopped when she heard the whistle and made no attempt to stop the goal.

The question is, since the ball was already in flight should the goal have been counted?

Answer (October 27, 2004):
No, it should not. The referee's whistle stops play immediately. In actual fact, play stops as soon as the referee decides to punish an infringement, even if the whistle has not yet been blown.

The real question here is how and why the refereeing team got itself into this situation in the first place. You should not have raised the flag unless the foul clearly fell within the "out of the view of the referee" criterion (which seems highly unlikely if the fouled player had the ball at the time and was preparing a shot on goal). The referee should not be too quick to whistle immediately after the AR raises the flag, etc., etc. And your scenario also suggests that the referee was not in proper position at the moment you flagged for the foul. Many mistakes here that need to be considered and rectified.


A question arose the other day, in a class, to which you might enlighten us. In the recent USSF memorandum "Kicks From the Penalty Mark (updated)", at the end of the memorandum, there is a list of the actions of the kicker that are to be considered unsporting behavior. In Particular, theat "he makes any motion of the hand or arm which is clearly intended to misdirect the attention of the goalkeeper" seems clearly to discourage any "feinting" that is intended to draw the keeper off his line before the ball is put into play. It would be beneficial to see an example(s) of a feint by the kicker that the current interpretation of the laws intends referees to allow.

Answer (October 27, 2004):
The principle behind the prohibition on some forms of feinting is that of wasting time. Referees should watch for the sorts of feinting described in the position paper of October 14, 2004, but should not consider all deceptive maneuvers to be a violation of Law 14 or of the guidelines on kicks from the penalty mark in the Additional Instructions. They should ensure that the run to the ball is initiated from behind the ball and the kicker is not using deception to delay unnecessarily the taking of the kick. The referee is the sole judge of what constitutes unsporting behavior during penalty kicks or kicks from the penalty mark.

Any caution of the kicker for any of the prohibited activities (e. g., running past the ball and then backing up, making hand/arm gestures to deceive, making a long convoluted run to the ball) would be written up as unsporting behavior.


Youth competitions usually have unlimited substitutions, so the composition of a team often changes during a half and almost certainly between halves. If a referee determines there are too many players on the pitch (for whatever reason), how do we single out one in particular to receive the caution? To use the example from the previous extra player question, if a player is sent off in the first half and, after the start of the second half the referee discovers 11 players, who gets the card? Should we remember the last substitution and caution that player? Or, should we caution who ever leaves the field?

Answer (October 27, 2004):
It would be nice if this could be one of those serendipitous moments when the referee could select which ever player had offended the Spirit of the Game the most during the previous portion of the game. Alas, that is not to be. The referee will allow the captain to select the player to be removed. (The captain may wish to consult with the coach, but the referee will NOT do so.)

Incidents like this make a clear case for not starting the second half without confirming with each assistant referee (AR) that they have checked for the appropriate number of players at their ends of the field. Without a clear indication that this was done intentionally for an unfair advantage, a caution should be a last resort since the officials (the referee and at least one AR) are also culpable.


Just this past weekend, I was reffing the final game of a U12 classic tournament so of course the parents and coaches were very into the game. Anyway, I was an assistant referee and on almost every singal call the center ref would call it the other way. This extended all the way until a penalty kick which cost one team the game. After the game, me, my friend who was the other AR, and the center walked off the field together to avoid getting beat. On our way off the field, the parents were screaming at us and once we were in the parking lot, a man started following me and my friend, this is after the center left. During the game, one coach was dismissed and the other was on the verge of being dismissed.

I was wondering what I should do in the future if this situation arises and also what I should do about the center who completely contradicted all of my calls. Thank you for your time

Answer (October 27, 2004):
We understand your concern about the poor calls, but it is not your job to correct the referee. The task of the assistant referee is spelled out in the title of the position: a-s-s-i-s-t. Nowhere in the Laws does it say anything about "insist." Do the best you can under the circumstances and then submit a report of your own to the assignor and the state referee administration. You will have done your duty to the referee program and to the game. The state referee administration will take it from there.

We also share your concern about being confronted by spectators, coaches, or players after the match is over, particularly where they appear to be pursuing you. That can be very disconcerting. Being in the company of others in these circumstances is a good idea, but the tournament managers also have an obligation to see to the safety of the officials. Should a similar situation arise again (heaven forfend!), you might consider seeking out whatever tournament officials (field marshal, referee tent, etc.) are nearby and make it clear that you expect their assistance. If it is not given wholeheartedly, you should also consider notifying your local assignor or referee association regarding the problem.


What is the correct call after the following play: Player takes goal kick. Ball only goes five yards or so. Player then picks up ball and retakes goal kick. Since ball did not leave penalty area, can player retake goal kick or is it a hand ball and penalty kick is awarded to other team. If goal kick can be retaken, can player be cautioned for time wasting?

Answer (October 27, 2004):
The ball is out of play on a goal kick. That means that no foul can be committed until the ball is back in play. You do not have the power or the authority to overturn the Laws of the Game and call deliberate handling and then award a penalty kick. The kick must be retaken. If it suits the referee's game-management needs, the player might be cautioned for delaying the restart of play or unsporting behavior, depending on the circumstances, and shown the yellow card. (There is no caution for "time wasting.") However, to do this, the referee must be convinced that the delay was for the purpose of gaining an unfair tactical advantage and, second, that the referee had warned the player first to get the ball back into play correctly.


The situation is that a goalkeeper runs to the edge of the penalty box to kick the ball. A linesman calls 'hands' for an indirect kick saying the kick was outside the penalty box. Our video seemed to show that contact with the ball was completed before the penalty box line.

The question is, when is a goalkeeper kick considered a hand ball? Is the designation where the ball is located when in contact with the hand or foot, where the player ends up after the kick or some other consideration? If the penalty relies on the position of the ball, does the ball have to be completely out of the box or in the box?

Answer (October 26, 2004):
First things first: If the referee were to agree with the assistant referee (not linesman) on the infringement, the correct restart would be a direct free kick for deliberate handling, not an indirect free kick.

Now to the situation itself: No matter what your video shows--and videos are not admissible evidence in the referee's decision-making process--the assistant referee was probably overzealous and a bit quick on the trigger in flagging this possible infringement. Especially at the youth level, the intelligent referee will allow the play to continue and warn the goalkeeper about keeping better track of where the lines are.

Under the letter of the Law, if the goalkeeper's hand and the ball are together, outside the penalty area line, then the goalkeeper has deliberately handled the ball outside the penalty area. Under the Spirit of the Law, however, this is probably a trifling infringement, one that could be dealt with verbally, as indicated above.


My family belongs to [an AYSO region]. The question I have is: In division U10 girls when a ball has been kicked to score a goal and the goalie is attempting to stop (her position was over the ball with her back on top and her arm around the could see she was attempting to turn around is the opponent allowed to continue play to score.. what took place was in my mind awful..the opponent kicked our teams goalie in the head not once but twice and the referee said nothing as the game was within seconds of ending. After the whistle was blown and game called the goalie approached the referee crying hysterically and told the referee she was kicked in the head twice. The referee's response was," well, the ball was still in play." The child who happened to be mine came over to tell me this. I see no AYSO philosophy in letting a little 9yr girl being told this by a Director/Referee/Parent. My question is was this referee correct in his call?

Answer (October 26, 2004):
An official AYSO source responds: "As described, this really is an unfortunate incident. The official AYSO policy as stated in AYSO Rules & Regulations reads as follows: "It is the duty of referees to protect the goalkeeper against dangerous play." If the incident happened as described, i.e. the goalkeeper lying on the ball with her arm around the ball, I believe the referee made an error in judgment. We teach that one finger on a stationary ball is the equivalent of keeper possession. In this case, the keeper clearly had possession, and the ball no longer should have been played. That the game shortly ended was not an excuse for the referee to have not taken action. In AYSO we try to avoid giving cards to kids at the U10 level, but a foul against the attacker should have been called, and the referee should have given a stern warning to the attacker. If nothing else, he/she should have spoken with the attacking player's coach and reported the incident to the regional commissioner."


While acting as an AR during an AYSO U19 Boys match, I signaled for a corner kick to be taken on my side of the field. The side awarded the kick was ahead by two goals with less than three minutes to play.

The player taking the kick placed the ball completely outside of the restraining arc. I directed him to place the ball on the line. He replied that he did not have to place the ball on the line because the circumference of the ball would intersect an imaginary vertical plane as in judging a ball in or out play. I repeated my direction for him to place the ball on the line. He responded that I was wrong and that the ball was in contact with the plane of the line.

I signaled to the CR and advised him of the players dissent and delay of the game. The CR gave the dissenting player a yellow card and after the player continued his dissent to the CR he was then shown a second yellow card for persistent dissent and was ejected for 2 cautions.

The coaches and parents are unhappy about this incident and I have promised to inquire with USSF to find the correct interpretation. I have quoted Law 17 and claim that the ball shall be placed so that it rests on the ground at any point inside the corner arc or on any part of the lines which enclose the corner arc. I also pointed out that this player was wasting time late in a game in which his team held a 2 goal lead and that it was up to the AR to decide when the ball was ready for restart, not the player.

Even if I am mistaken about placement, there is no question about the dissent and action taken thereafter.

Answer (October 21, 2004):
It has been clearly stated by the International F. A. Board, the makers of the Laws of the Game, that the ball must physically touch the lines demarcating the corner arc.

The rule the player in your incident refers to applies only to balls being either in play or out of play. In those situations, the ball must simply break the vertical plane of the line to be in play and need not touch the line physically. This does not apply to the corner kick. You will find a diagram on corner kick placement in the IFAB/FIFA publication "Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, which can be downloaded from


According to FIFA and the United States Soccer Federation, in what instances or situations could the final result of a game be changed after the game has concluded or could there even be instances or situations where the game would need to be replayed?

Answer (October 20, 2004):
There are no circumstances in which the result of a game could be changed after the game has concluded. Any replay would have to be ordered by the competition authority.


When more than one ball is supplied for the game, is their any guidance on uniformity of pressure between balls? The following occurred the past weekend: Answer (October 20, 2004):
The players may substitute only a ball that has been approved by the referee. In turn, the referee should ensure that all balls meet the standards imposed in Law 2--and are as uniform as possible. The referee should check the balls as often as seems necessary, but should not waste a lot of time doing so.


A question on what is a valid reason for official delays in games where traffic problems prevent visitors from reaching a game site.

SITUATION: A team (U15/Div. 2) has a game about 40 mins. away this weekend, and visiting parents set out for the game site 90 mins. before game time.

Trouble is, there's a horrible accident that snarls traffic (out of Washington, DC) for 4.5 hours, beginning almost at the time of departure. Many families make it to the site (using torturous back routes) though not all, yet those that can, arrive at about game time. Team fielded is not the full 11-man side.

ISSUE: Center ref insists that -- in this league (Nat. Capital Soccer League) -- while he CAN offer 15 min. delays, the rules also allow him to start with 7 on a side. In short, he's ready to play 7 v. 11 if he has to, regardless of the obvious delays that day on Route 95, the major artery from Washington, DC to Richmond, VA.

Isn't it "sporting" (and good judgment) for the center to allow both teams to be at full strength, when -- given all evidence -- both teams would be fully represented IF IT WEREN'T FOR THE TRAFFIC OBSTACLES?

As a center ref myself, I believe center refs should lean backwards to avoid giving an advantage to 1 team -- whenever there are good reasons to do so. That did not happen.

Can a center ref ignore ALL evidence for delaying a start (this was the last game on that field)? If the answer remains "YES, always" then referee rules should be changed to reflect the reality of congested metro areas. (For now, I'm ignoring the fact that the resulting 7 v. 11 games jumble the results of games and standings.)

What's the correct "call" here?

Answer (October 20, 2004):
The "correct call" here is to follow the rules of the competition (league/cup/tournament/whatever). In this case NCSL has allowed for a 15-minute grace period. The referee has no authority to delay games beyond what is called for in the rules of the competition.


It is my understanding that stepping on top of the ball during a indirect free kick and then having another player take the kick is not sufficient enough to be considered movement. What happens if a team does this and sends the ball over the goal line, but not in the goal? Do you allow them a re-kick or does the defending team get a goal kick? If they do this and the ball goes in the goal without touching anyone else would you also consider it a goal kick?

Answer (October 20, 2004):
The restart depends on who was taking the indirect free kick and from where.

If the kick was by the defending team within its own penalty area, the ball must come back for a retake if it did not leave the penalty area and enter the rest of the field.

If the kick was taken by the opposing team with the opponent's penalty area and the ball enters the goal, the correct restart is a goal kick.

If the kick was taken by either team outside either penalty area, the correct restart is either a goal kick or a corner kick, depending on whose goal line it went over, whether or not it entered the goal. The usual rules for CKs and GKs apply here: If it goes directly into my goal (or over the goal line) from my kick, it's a corner kick; if it goes into the other team's goal (or over the goal line) directly from my kick, it's a goal kick.


Are there any regulations or requirements to the specific timepiece or instrument to keep time by the referee? example: is a standard mechanical watch, hour, minute, and second hand, acceptable?

Answer (October 20, 2004):
The standard wristwatch is acceptable only if the referee remains alert to the time of the kick-off, the amount of time required for each half (and any periods of extra time) by the competition, and to the amount of time necessary to replace time lost. Of course, the same could be said for stopwatches.


Q1 In last weekend's match, my player (youth U14 boy) was shown a yellow card for dissent (walking away from the ref. after an offside call). When the player showed his emotion by turning his head and extending his hands at his waist, the ref. showed him a red card and sent him off. Should the ref. have shown a second yellow before red?

Q2 After my player was sent off, I was required to play one man down for the remainder of the half and the game. Which rule governs this action?

Answer (October 18, 2004):
Surely there is more to the story than this. Simply walking away from the referee after being called offside and then spreading one's arms at waist level would not merit a caution or a second caution and send-off.

If the referee were to give a caution for the second offense, then the referee must show first the yellow card and then the red card. But referees must remember that there would be no need to show the second yellow card if the player's second act of misconduct (whatever it was) was a red card offense on its own terms. Nothing else happened prior to this? There is either a lot left out or the referee was having a very bad day.

As to playing short, that is and always has been the Law--even though it is no longer written in the Laws of the Game. It was dropped in 1997 because the authors of the Laws, the International Football Association Board, determined that "everyone" knew that.


On a cross in front of the opponent's goal, the attacker trapped the ball with his chest and volleyed the ball into the goal for an apparent goal. The referee disallowed the goal for handling. This was his explanation: the attacker definitely trapped the ball using his chest only (it never touched his arm at any time per the ref) but, when trapping the ball the player swung his arm around while turning his torso to keep the ball in front of him (otherwise it would have gone off his chest past the goal) and because he used his arm to control the ball, this is handling. Is this handling?????

Answer (October 18, 2004):
Yes, those referees are becoming more and more inventive. If, as the referee said, the ball never touched the player's arm, then there was no deliberate handling--or handling of any sort at all. Using one's arm to control one's balance is perfectly legal.


Is a ball kicked while rolling from within the goal area OK? The law spells out that the ball MUST be stationary on free kicks, and implies it on corner by using the word "placed". However it does use language like this for goal kicks.

Answer (October 18, 2004):
There are many things unsaid in the Laws of the Game, the most important of them being that a player who has been sent off may not be replaced--but we all know it is true. [See item above.] The same is true of the ball being stationary at a goal kick.

Nowhere does it state specifically that the ball must be stationary for goal kicks, but it is implied in Law 17 for corner kicks (and in Law 14 for penalty kicks). The specific statements in Laws 8 and 13 that the ball be stationary for the start and restart of play and free kicks also imply that the ball must be stationary for all kick restarts.

Law 8
* the ball is stationary on the center mark
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward

Law 13
Types of Free Kicks //snip//
For both direct and indirect free kicks, the ball must be stationary when the kick is taken and the kicker does not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player.

Law 14
Position of the Ball and the Players
The ball:
* is placed on the penalty mark

Law 16
* the ball is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team
[the inference here being that if the ball was at "any point" it was stationary]

Law 17
* the ball is placed inside the corner arc at the nearest corner flagpost [the inference here (and in Law 14) is that if the ball is "placed," it is stationary]
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves

There is the additional logical argument that, if the ball must be kicked and moved to be in play, it must follow that it is not moving prior to being kicked--otherwise the requirement to be moved makes no sense. Therefore, we can state unequivocally that in all cases of a kick restart, the ball must be stationary before being kicked. It is not in play until it has been kicked and moves (forward in the case of kick-off and penalty kick).


A situation involving an AR and a Coach came about a while ago. The AR felt as if dissent were being shown to him by the coach, and decided that after the game was over in the parking lot, to show a red card. First off, is this red card valid? Secondly, the referee in the middle was still on the field preparing himself for the next match. Somehow, this red card was written into the game report and the coach was suspended for the following match. Is this a correct punishment according to the laws of FIFA? I know that at no time can an AR show cards, but can recommend them. But how is it the coach was still suspended though he was not officially given a card.

Answer (October 16, 2004):
Under the Laws of the Game, no one other than players and substitutes by be shown any card. However, if the rules of the competition require it, team officials may also be cautioned or dismissed and shown the appropriate card. No assistant referee (AR) may discipline or show a card to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Nevertheless, while the AR cannot caution or send off or show any type of card to anyone, the AR may submit a separate report to the appropriate authorities. This may be what happened in this case. We cannot account for the acts of disciplinary committees or of rogue ARs.

And the final straw is that any official showed a card after the game was over. That is forbidden by the Laws of the Game. The referee (or AR) may only note the details and file a report.


I've read the memorandum on second cautions several times and am more confused than before. The way I read the memorandum it says, in effect, "(1) Caution (show the yellow card) a player if he/she deserves it. (2) If the player would normally deserve a caution (yellow card) but it would be his/her second caution don't give it unless the offense deserves a send off (red card) since the second caution results in the send off. It goes on to say that before giving a second caution the referee should use escalating warnings.

To me this gives a player with one caution almost carte blanche to commit cautionable offenses as long as they are not, in and of themselves, worthy of a send off. The idea of using increasingly severe admonitions and warnings after the first caution has been given is like repeatedly telling a child not to do something but never taking action. It will not prevent the undesirable behavior.

Can you help me interpret this memorandum's advise more clearly - right now I think it will lead to less control and more on the field foul play.

Answer (October 14, 2004):
You are misreading both the intent and the spirit of the guidance. It is saying that, because a second caution will result in the player being sent off, the second caution should be given when, in the opinion of the referee, it is truly a cautionable offense (in other words, you would have given a first caution for the misconduct) and the misconduct clearly continues a pattern of behavior of that player despite the prior notice of the first caution that a continuation would result in the player being sent from the field.

It is this second condition that you are misunderstanding. In circumstances where the behavior of the player does not represent such a continuation, the referee should attempt to manage the player using other techniques short of a caution.


I was sure that when a player on the field gets a 2nd yellow, the player has to leave and the team plays down a man. A more experienced referee told me that a substitute can enter the match to replace a player after a 2nd yellow card.

Does a team have to play a man down after a player receives a 2nd yellow card?

Answer (October 14, 2004):
Either the "more experienced referee" has been using illegal substances or he or she is thinking of high school rules. Under the Laws of the Game, a player who is sent off and shown the red card for any reason, including receiving a second caution, may not be replaced. Under high school rules, the second caution/yellow card is considered to be a "soft red card" and the player may be replaced.


Team A 3, Team B 1, at minute 65 of a 70 minute match officiated by a relatively new CR.

At minute 65, Team B's attacker with the ball gets behind Team A's sweeper with a clear goal scoring opportunity, with only the GK to beat. The Team A sweeper catches up just enough to the Team B attacker to grab (foolishly!) the attacker's shirt and simply restrains him just outside the PA. The CR inexplicably does not promptly issue a RC (and not even a YC) but awards a DFK to Team B. Play restarts with Team B taking its DFK and naturally enough Team B pathetically botches the opportunity, ball going out for a goal kick. Play restarts again and continues without incident, including a few throw-ins (i.e., other restarts), to 69:47. CR blows whistle. Team A 3, Team B 1.

Now, coaches and parents of Team B storm the field, with one Team B parent yelling expletives, grabbing the CR's shirt sleeve, flipping off a Team A mom and later the balance of the Team A parents, and finally gets ejected by a much more experienced AR, who then assumes control as the CR appears bewitched and bewildered. Team A huddles at its bench. Coaches and parents of Team B continue to argue on opposite side of pitch with AR and CR. Team A's manager overhears enough to warn Team A's coach that the match just might be restarted. Team A's coach has the offending Team A sweeper put on an orange sub vest and asks another Team A player to get ready to come in. The AR now marches over to Team A's bench, about 10 minutes after the CR's whistle and 15 minutes after Team A's sweeper committed the obvious foul, where AR issues a red card for the obvious foul of minute 65 to Team A's sweeper, sitting at the bench and wearing the orange sub vest. AR then announces he will resume play for an additional five minutes. Team A's coach now proceeds to argue vehemently but is restrained by Team A's manager (who has no other licensed coach to continue the match) in the nick of time. The game is in fact restarted again for five minutes, team A playing with 10 men, with no incident, no score, in that time frame. Second ("last") whistle, this time by the AR. Score is same, Team A 3, Team B 1.

Question: Should the red card to Team A's sweeper stand? If so what on earth does it mean in Law 5 that "The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee, provided that he has not restarted play"? PROVIDED THAT HE HAS NOT RESTARTED PLAY?

CR in his match report apparently has stated that his first whistle (at 69:47) was merely a suspension of play and that AR's last whistle marked the end of the match. Does that really matter, whether is was meant to be a match-ending whistle or a suspension of play?

Assume for the moment that the replacement of the CR by the AR was justified by CR's emotional inability to continue or because of consideration for the safety of the players and fans. Let's put that issue aside. It really was a smart move. The Team B fans were in the process of losing it.

Answer (October 14, 2004):
Ah, those inventive referees! (We usually praise the coaches for being inventive, but in this case it is the referees-or actually the assistant referee.)

Once the game has been restarted, as described in your question, the referee may no longer caution or send off any player for an act committed before that restart. Indeed, the International F. A. Board, the folks who make the Laws of the Game, have sent a very strong message this year that referees are to ensure that no game is restarted without such punishment taking place.

If full time has not been played, and this would appear to be the case from your question, then someone else may assume control of the game-with the permission of the referee, who then either retires from the field or takes over the position of the official who replaced him or her. (It is not clear from your question as to whether the assistant referee had the referee's permission to take over control of the match, but, while this could be a significant event on its own, it has no bearing on the question at hand.) If the AR did indeed take over control of the game, he or she has no authority or power to send off a player for an act that occurred before the last restart.

It would be interesting to read the referee's match report to see how this was justified. And also to see if the facts were reported in full.


My son was the referee in a game where a player struck the ball and her shoe came off, flying to the side of the play. The second time it came off it flew into the goal. My son did not indicate a foul but warned the coach at halftime to secure her shoes. I suggested that if the shoe comes off and goes away from the play, a warning would be sufficient at the next stoppage of play. If the shoe comes off and is part of the play or endangers another player, he should have stopped play, cautioned the player (and coach since it was a youth game of 6 and 7 yr olds) and awarded the opposing team an indirect free kick due to a dangerous play. If the ball had scored, it should not count.

Answer (October 14, 2004):
The correct answer is none of the above.

As defined in the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" (ATR) and clear from the perspective of the Spirit of the Game, a foul is an unfair or unsafe action committed by a player against an opponent or the opposing team, on the field of play, while the ball is in play. (ATR 12.1) What you describe was certainly not a foul, nor could it be characterized as misconduct, the only possibility for cautioning a player.

The problem of losing a shoe is recognized in the IFAB's Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (Q&A), published for the IFAB by FIFA. Under Law 4, Q&A 10, it states:
10. A player accidentally loses his footwear and immediately scores a goal. Is this permitted?
Yes. The player did not intentionally play barefoot, because he lost his footwear by accident.

Normally the act of losing a shoe on the field of play is neither an unsafe nor an unfair action by the player who does this. The player need not leave the field to replace the shoe and should certainly not be punished by the referee unless he or she does not replace the shoe as quickly as possible. Even if the kicker's shoe had been removed by an opponent tackling for the ball, there would be no punishment for either player.


Fairly early in the second half of a boys high school match with the score 1-1 between the #1 ranked team in our state against a struggling smaller school with at losing record, the ref called a foul against the smaller school near mid field.

At that time, the coach of the top ranked team called the ref over and the two proceeded to have an extended conversation for between two and three minutes, off the field, near the center line. The boys even started play again and the ref called it back during this down time. The opposing coach eventually positioned himself nearby, but never entered into the two man huddle.

Throughout the match, the #1 team dominated play in and around the penalty box. With 32 seconds left on the scoreboard clock, the ref called a foul on the small team while in the penalty box, a pk was taken and now the score was 2-1 for the #1 team.

The last offensive thrust by the small team was negated by a hand ball call with about 17 seconds to go. No stoppage time was given so the game was soon over.

After reviewing the rules of soccer, I have been unable to find a section that describes the ref's relationship with a coach during a match. I have never seen a meeting of this length during a match.

I described the game environment to further enhance the uneasy situation this meeting presented to the fans and players.

With all the action in the penalty box throughout the game, calling a foul with 32 seconds to go just didn't "smell" right, and while I did see the hand ball, I saw many others that also fit the bill earlier on that did not get the call.

So my questions are:
1) Can a ref have an extended conference off the field with one coach during a match?
2) In the interest of a fair played game and using 'common sense' is it in the games best interest to call a PK with seconds remaining in a close game?
3) Is stoppage time used in high school soccer? (If so, that private meeting really added fuel to the fire)

As a disclaimer, I don't have any sons playing for either team, I just wanted to see the #1 high school team play.

Answer (October 13, 2004):
1) We cannot speak to high school rules, but tradition and common practice dictate that referees should not spend time socializing or otherwise lingering to chat with coaches or any other people not directly associated with the game. And coaches are not directly associated with the game; their work should be done in the days and weeks preceding the game, not during it. The referee who socializes (or appears to socialize) gives the impression, rightly or wrongly, that there will be some bias. The business of the referee is to get on with the game and call it properly.

2) We respond to your question about the penalty kick with another: "Is it in the best interest" not to call a foul that occurred at any moment of the game? Of course the answer is no. If they are not trifling or doubtful, all fouls must be called, no matter when they take place.

3) There is "stoppage time" but only if signaled by the referee. The high school rules call for the official time to be kept by a timekeeper (if there is a stadium clock, in working order, visible to the field). If the clock is not operated properly, the referee can (at a stoppage) order the clock to be corrected. However, the stadium clock is otherwise official. It stops for various things but socializing with a coach is not one of them. Unless the stoppage had been caused by a card being given, an injury, or the taking of a penalty kick, the clock should not have stopped.


With this question, why did not you talk about the position of the goalkeeper? inside the goal box, inside the penalty box but outside the goal box, outside the Penalty box?

Answer (October 13, 2004):
The answer in question (dated September 28, 2004) said:
Law 3 requires that each team must have a goalkeeper, but there is no requirement that the goalkeeper always be on the field of play or in an upright position. While we generally give goalkeepers the benefit of the doubt in case of injury--to wit, they do not have to leave the field when being treated for injury--neither are referees required to stop the game for anything other than serious injury. However, some consideration must be given for the age and skill level of the players. The intelligent referee will apply common sense to each individual situation.

The direct answer to your question is that it makes no difference where the goalkeeper is.

That is a fact of life that cannot be changed. If you saw the English Premier League game last week between Man. City and Bolton (I wish to heck I had recorded it), you would have seen that the referee, Uriah Rennie, allowed the goalkeeper to remain down on the field for about a minute before doing anything about it. The goalkeeper was out almost 18 yards from his goal, flat on the ground, having fallen down through no fault of an opponent. Why would the referee not stop the game? Because the goalkeeper was not seriously injured and there was no reason, under either the Letter of the Law or the Spirit of the Game, for him to do so.

Where did he get his authority to do that? From principles established in the Laws and in one of the major documents published by the International F. A. Board, the people who make and change the Laws of the Game. The major document is the "Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game." (See Law 3, Q&As 19 and 20.) The goalkeeper is allowed to leave the penalty area and the field without the referee's permission during the course of play to play the ball, just as is any other player. The goalkeeper may retrieve the ball that has gone into touch or take a throw-in, corner kick, penalty kick, free kick, etc. If the goalkeeper leaves the field to play the ball and cannot return in time to stop a goal, the goal is scored. In short, the goalkeeper does not have to be on the field of play.

Neither does the goalkeeper have to be in an upright position or even able to play the ball. Under Law 5, the referee is required to stop play for injuries only if, in the opinion of the referee, the injury is serious. In the Additional Instructions to the Referee, found at the back of your copy of the Laws of the Game, you will find a repetition of this instruction: play is allowed to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in the referee's opinion, only slightly injured, and play is stopped if, in the referee's opinion, a player is seriously injured. The goalkeeper is a player.


While watching a Rec U-14 B game the following occurred and got me to wondering...
Attacking team was awarded a PK and the defending coach immediately yelled for a keeper change (with a field player). CR allowed the position swap prior to the PK being taken. You can imagine the comments from the attacking coach and most of the spectators. PK was blocked. About three minutes later the ball went out at the touch line and the request was again made to swap the players back to their original positions. Believe it or not, the same thing happened during the second half and folks were beginning to get very upset (vocally).

I understand that CR may allow field player/keeper change at a stoppage (Law 3) and that coaches wish to make best use of players and tactics. The whistle has blown and the ball is out of play (Law 9). I guess my specific question is whether stopping the play for the administration of the PK falls under the definition of "stoppage". Taking this though a little further, would it follow that other "whistled" restarts (IFK, DFK, and drop balls) are also "stoppages" which would allow the changing of a keeper with a field player.

I'm just happy that I was not the CR for this game...I'm not sure the swap would have been allowed; but I would like to know before the situation occurs. Thanks for you answer...I can see this both ways but just can't convince myself that this is correct.

Answer (October 13, 2004):
Law 3 provides for this exchange between the goalkeeper and any field player: QUOTE
Changing the Goalkeeper
Any of the other players may change places with the goalkeeper, provided that:
- the referee is informed before the change is made
- the change is made during a stoppage in the match

This does not count as a substitution, so any local rules of competition regarding limited substitution do not apply. A stoppage of play is any time the ball is out of play, whether over a perimeter line or when the referee has blown the whistle. This is valid at any stoppage, whether for a throw-in, corner kick, goal kick, kick-off, misconduct, or foul.

Simply because the spectators and the opposing coach are unaware of the Law does not invalidate it. Coaches and spectators often do not know anything about the rules under which the game is played. The tactic discussed here is legal at any level of play.


A recently posted Q&A (USING THE ADVANTAGE CLAUSE Posted September 29, 2004 ) leads me to a question. A goalkeeper being the last defender, just outside the penalty area challenges an attacker with the ball moving towards the keeper's goal, and in so doing fouls the attacker. A nearby attacker's teammate runs onto the open ball and the referee signals and shouts "Advantage, play on!" The teammate (unaffected by the goalkeeper's foul against the attacker other than to gain possession of the ball) then miffs the wide open goal by shooting the ball wide of the goal out of play. Does allowing advantage in this particular situation negate the sending off offence to the goalkeeper for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity?

Answer (October 12, 2004):
Referees have the power to apply (and signal) the advantage upon seeing a foul or misconduct committed if at that moment the terms of the advantage clause were met. Applying advantage permits the referee to allow play to continue when the team against which the foul has been committed will actually benefit from the referee not stopping play.

The referee may return to and penalize the original foul if the advantage situation does not develop as anticipated after a short while (2-3 seconds). In this case, the referee will have to judge whether the advantage was sustained long enough to meet the standard set by the International F. A. Board (2-3 seconds) with the ball then in the possession of the attacker's teammate. If so, the decision may not be recalled. It makes no difference whether or not the teammate with the ball subsequently scored or not.


Admittedly this situation may never occur, but after reading the December 16, 2003 USSF Memorandum titled "Kicks from the Penalty Mark", I wondered about this obscure situation.

Assume that player A received a caution in regulation time. Assume also that the match is to the point where penalty kicks are in process to determine the winner of the match (often called a "shoot out").

The time comes for player A to shoot for his team. As he approaches the ball, he commits a violation (such as waving his arm to distract the keeper). The ball enters the net. The infringement means that a re-kick is required (i.e., no goal), so the center referee waves off the goal. The center referee then displays the yellow card for the Unsporting Behavior, and a red card for the second caution.

What happens next? My assumption is that you would send off the player and player A's team forfeits that penalty kick. Am I correct?

Answer (October 12, 2004):
Never assume too much. In this case there is some question as to whether or not the player would be cautioned for his transgression during kicks from the penalty mark (KFTPM). The rules for KFTPM are much the same as for penalty kicks: if it is a first offense, then the player is warned, rather than cautioned, so that must be considered.

If it works out that the kicker is cautioned and sent off for the second caution during the game, the kicker's team would be able to put up another kicker. It would have to be one who has not yet taken a kick in this round of KFTPM.


I am writing for clarification on the use of a 2-man officiating system for use within a local recreational soccer club. I am the head referee for Louisa Area Soccer Association and have reviewed my association's bylaws and cannot find the answer to my question. Specifically I would like to know if a 2-man system, with each referee being a grade level 8, is allowed to be used for games within recreational play. The age divisions in which I would need to use a 2-man system range from U13 to U17. Although I have several referees in the program, most referees play for a local challenge program and I lack referees to cover games in the afternoon using the standard 3-man system. Please advise on your knowledge of this matter, and also advise on any other resources I could check for further clarification. Thanks so much for your time and assistance!

Answer (October 12, 2004):
We share your concern over the lack of sufficient referees, but must point out that games affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation may be officiated only under the diagonal system of control (DSC), with a referee and two assistant referees (AR). If you have only enough referees to supply two for each game, there are alternatives that will fill the bill. You may use either of these alternatives and still meet those requirements:
1. One referee, one assistant referee, and one club linesman (not a registered referee). Only the referee may use a whistle. The AR uses a flag and functions just as if in a full role. The club linesman is permitted to indicate only that the ball is out of play, not showing direction or type of restart. The club linesman is selected from the supporters of one of the two competing teams (usually the "home" team).
2. One referee and two club linesmen, the club linesmen being selected from the supporters of each of the two competing teams.

Barring the use of club linesmen, and only in emergencies, the game could be run with one referee and one AR. The referee would remain mostly on one side of the field of play and would use the whistle. The AR would run outside the field of play, as usual, but would not be able to use a whistle.

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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