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March 2006 Archvie (I of II)


ASSIGNING GRADE 9 REFEREES

Question:
I have two questions regarding USSF policy and the assignment of USSF Grade 9 referees.

At our recent assignor recertification meeting a rather healthy debate took place with regard to the use of Grade 9 referees in matches that are considered "recreational" at the U12 and U14 level. The sticking point in the definition of recreational in this context is that these "recreational" teams travel, compete for a league championship, and compete for a berth in end-of-season league tournaments.

The term recreational in this context refers to division 3 and 4 teams within our state's leagues. Division 1 and 2 teams are registered as "competitive" while division 3 and 4 are registered as "recreational". All teams, however, travel and compete as I mention above. Teams that play within their towns are also considered to be recreational.

My question is this:
What is the USSF's official position on the assignment of Grade 9 referees in this context?

I realize that our state's definition of competitive and recreational probably are not relevant to all of you at the national level, but the distinction is causing a considerable amount of confusion among assignors here.

I am unable to find a definitive statement anywhere that lays out the type of games that Grade 9 referees are allowed to do. There are some assignors putting Grade 9 referees into the middle of U12 and U14 matches that I would consider to be competitive (teams travel, compete for season ending rewards). My own policy on the matter (which is an interpretation of the USSF Admin handbook) is that Grade 9's may only work as referees in small sided games (regardless of their competitive designation...I believe they are regarded as non-competitive anyway) and NON-travel games at the U12 and U14 level.

Second question:
Are U12 8v8 games considered to be small sided for the purpose of assignment?

U12 matches in our state are about to go to an 8v8 model. I have significant concerns about Grade 9 referees officiating U12 8v8 matches because of the relative experience for most referees at the Grade 9 level and the lack of emphasis regarding offside in most games that Grade 9 referees do. Is there any guidance from the USSF forthcoming on this matter?

Any information you can provide will be most helpful and my apologies for the length of this message.

Answer (March 8, 2006):
1. Grade 9 is characterized in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) as:
Recreational Youth Referee (grade 9). The RAH states farther:
9 - United States Soccer Federation Recreational Referee
A. Minimum Age:None
B. Badge: USSF Recreational Referee, with current year
C. Authorized Assignment Level: Referee on recreational youth games under-14 and younger only and assistant referee on any game U-14 or below.

As we have responded several times in this forum: "Grade 9 officials may do centers or lines on U-14 RECREATIONAL games. They may also act as assistant referees on U-14 COMPETITIVE games, but may not be the referee on U-14 competitive games." That does not include travel (even "developmental travel") or select team games.

Another factor for determining whether a team is competitive or recreational is whether or not there are try-outs for a team. Try-outs means that a team is definitely competitive. Travel has proven to be a bit difficult as a determining factor, especially in rural locations where many teams travel town to town and league to league just to find regular competition, but they are definitely recreational teams.

If you believe that assignors in your state are abusing the Grade 9 referees by assigning them beyond their training and skills, it is your duty to ask the state referee committee and the state youth association to take firm action to ensure that these referees are assigned only at the level for which they have been trained.

2. Yes, U12 8 v 8 games would be considered to be small-sided games. However, the training and grade level of Grade 9 referees is likely not suitable for calling such games.

 


FIELD IMPROPERLY MARKED

Question:
One of the fields we play on has painted boundary lines that do not comply with Law 1. For instance the goal area dimensions are smaller than 6x20 and the penalty area dimensions are smaller than 18x44. As a result the penalty mark is closer to the goal line than 12 yards. What would be the proper way to conduct a penalty kick: accept the markings on the field or take the kick from 12 yards away? It should be noted that these fields are not intended to be a reduced size. Law 14 seems to indicate the existing penalty mark should be used but that presents quite the disadvantage for the defending team as the mark is only 9 yards away.

Answer (March 7, 2006):
First a bit of philosophy: There is a big difference between a penalty mark located inside the goal area and one located halfway between the top of the goal area line and the penalty area line yet still only 11 (or, as in this case, even 9) yards rather than 12 yards from the goal line. We referees tend let a lot go by on field markings when the game is a simple recreational match involving kids.

If the field is not marked properly, the referee should try to have proper markings put down by the home team before starting the game, time permitting. If this is impossible, the referee must decide whether playing the game on this improperly marked field would be merely wrong, inconvenient, or simply irritating, or whether it would make a mockery of the game. If it is the last, then the referee should ask the home team to find a better marked field quickly. If that is impossible, the referee should abandon the game and submit full details to the competition authority.

As to a penalty kick from nine yards--no. The referee should mark off the proper 12 yards and indicate that this is where the kicker will place the ball. The remainder of the players, other than the defending goalkeeper, must remain a proper distance away from the kick.

 


AVOID THEATRICS

Question:
I was recently an assistant referee in an U19 boys game. Both teams were very skilled and fast but lacked common sense. A lot of fouls were committed and the center ref ended up giving 10 yellow cards. Of those yellow cards two players were sent off for accumulaton of cards. 8 players were given a card for some type of misconduct. The game was very rough and it seemed that a lot more cards could have been issued, but the center ref was just tired. It was also apparent that the two send offs and yellow cards were not effective to keep control of the game. How can this type of game be handled effectively?

I had a game like this with U15 boys and before the beginning of the 2nd half I handed my yellow card to the assistant referee, I made it public of course, and told everybody that the only card left was a red card and if I had to sanction a foul, it would had been an automatic send off. It seemed to work for I enjoyed the rest of the game. Was that a right move? I know it worked but I think I was a little extreme.

Answer (March 6, 2006):
The tactic of making a show of using only the red card will work once, maybe twice, but it is not a long-term solution. The solution is simply to be on top of the game from the git-go. Presence near play, talking to the players constantly about what they are doing, slowing (cooling) the game down when player temperatures and referee anxiety start to rise, and, yes, handing out cards when absolutely necessary.

There is no one-size-fits-all formula. It has to be worked out by each referee for each game, depending on how the players come into the match.

A comment on publicly announcing that you have only one card, the red one: The problem with not having a yellow card is that you have thus lost a significant option. In other words, you have done this for whatever reason and now a player commits what is clearly and simply a cautionable offense. You now either have to look foolish by running back to your bag (or the AR, or wherever you stashed it) and retrieving the card or you have the unpalatable decision either to ignore clearly cautionable conduct or sending players off for clearly cautionable misconduct. It may seem like great theatrics but it is a really bad idea.

 


DENYING A GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY THROUGH MISCONDUCT

Question:
Here is a hypothetical situation I am involved in a discussion on. A player jumps up and grabs hold of the top bar of the goal and is hanging there. An attacker takes a shot that hits this player hanging from the goal and deflects away from the goal.

The question is what action should the referee take. We all agree that this is USB for hanging on the goal. Where our differences lie is does this meet the criteria of DOGSO? and therefore should result in a send off instead of just a yellow card.

Some say no becuase there was no foul others no becuase the criteria for DOGSO is not met becuase the IFK resulting from the USB is not the punishment just a way of restarting play after stopping to issue a YC.

IMHO (and I seem to be in the vast minority) the criteria of DOGSO have been met in that the law states - " 5. denies an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the players' goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or penalty kick "

The USB of hanging on the goal would result in an IFK and it meets the 4 D's (Denies, # of Defenders, Direction, Distance)

Any guidance from you would be greatly appreciated.

Answer (March 3, 2006):
Simply by jumping up and hanging on the crossbar, the defender is guilty of unsporting behavior. By using that position to deflect the ball away from the goal while committing unsporting behavior, the defender has denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity through an act punishable by a free kick. Send off the player and show the red card. Restart with an indirect free kick--the punishment for misconduct that does not involve a foul--for the opposing team.

The same could be said of a situation in which a goalkeeper pulled the bar downward and the ball hit the bar and deflected away--same punishment and restart.

 


DENYING A GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY THROUGH HANDLING

Question:
A fellow official an I are having a debate as to the 4D's having to be met for DGH the same as DGF. My point is no, that the 4 D's are in fact for DGF and do not have the same impact for DGH. Point being, if a shot is taken with a defender 15 yards from the attacker who handles the ball preventing it going into the goal, (he has not met all 4 of the d"s-the attacker is certainly not within playing distance of the ball when the foul (handling) occurred, he should be sent off for DGH and the proper restart be taken. Please help me with this situation.

Answer (March 3, 2006, 2006):
There is already a send-off offense for deliberate handling, number 4 under the seven send-off offenses: denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area). It does not require any particular alignment of players for either team, but simply the occurrence of the offense.

 


DELIBERATE HANDLING AND ADVANTAGE

Question:
Last night during a Match I was with 4 seasoned referees in the stands. When a player on team X had handled the ball, but the ball when to the foot of a player on team Y who took 2 touches and then shot the ball past the keeper for an apparent goal. The referee had stopped play however to call the handball.

The question I have, can a referee allow the play to continue if the opposing team has a clear advantage after the handball?

The referees in the stands were split on this issue last night.

Answer (March 1, 2006):
Your question implies that the act of deliberate handling occurred inside the penalty area. Yes, a referee may apply the advantage clause to fouls or misconduct in the penalty area, but both the mechanics and the standards for judgment are different. The distinction is fairly clear and well accepted: In the case of mechanics, the referee should not use the advantage signal if the offense has occurred inside the penalty area--keep your mouth shut and your whistle down. In the case of decision standards, advantage inside the penalty area is based on what happens almost immediately after the offense (rather than the more relaxed standard of 2-3 seconds) and on whether a goal is scored (instead of the more relaxed standard of the fouled team being able to maintain possess and attacking capability).

In addition, the referee must remember to consider the possibility that this player has denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball. If so, then the referee must act accordingly, sending off the culprit if no goal is scored or cautioning for unsporting behavior if the goal is scored.

And, finally, referees should not use the word "handball." Instead, we refer to the act of deliberately handling the ball or to a handling offense. "Handball" is a term used to describe at least two separate sports that have nothing to do with soccer.

 


FEINTING AT A PENALTY KICK

Question:
I recently heard about a game where the attacking team was awarded a Penalty Kick (PK) for a trip in the penalty area. During the taking of the PK, the player taking the kick performed a feint, by stopping his kick after his planting foot hit the ground, waited to see which way the goalie went and then proceeded to kick the ball in the opposite corner of the net. Before the ball crossed the line the referee blew his whisle, declared a no goal and gave the kicker a yellow card for the feint move. He then awarded the defending team a goal kick. Was this the right call?

Two other questions along the same lines: Are these moves considered feints? During a PK, can the kicker plant his left foot to the right of the ball and swing his right leg behind his left leg to "Toe Poke" the ball into the net? During a PK can the player plant his left foot (turning) to the right of the ball and spin around backwards to use his right heel to strike the ball towards the net? I have seen both of these moves in youth soccer in U-13 and U-14 age groups and the referee allowed the goals. I would have thought this would also be considered feints?

Answer (March 1, 2006):
The issue of "feinting" underwent a significant change in 2000. Prior to that time, the kicker was expected to make one continuous, uninterrupted move to the ball; in and after 2000 (based on the FIFA Q&A), certain forms of deception were allowed. 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 (available on the USSF referee webpage), 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 kicker's behavior must not, in the opinion of the referee, unduly delay the taking of the kick in any feinting tactic. Others would include changing direction or running such an an excessive distance such that, in the opinion of the referee, the restart was delayed; or making hand or arm gestures with the intent to deceive the kicker (e .g., pointing in a direction).

The referee should allow the kick to proceed. If the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken. If the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts the match with an indirect free kick to the defending team.

As to the various ways of kicking the ball, the offense (or lack thereof) is in the eye of the referee on the game.

 


DEALING WITH IMPROPER PLAY

Question:
This question deals with the u-13 to u-15 player who has not yet mastered the proper slide tackling technique. I see a lot of players come in with the cleats up to tackle the ball away from the attacker and simply miss due to lack of skill or the fact that the attacker hurdles the defender and continues on his way. Should this be a foul under law 12 "trip or attempt to trip"? Clearly, if the player had succeeded with the foul tackle it could have been considered USB and sanctioned as such. What is the proper way to deal with these unsuccessful but possibly injury causing tackles?

Answer (March 1, 2006):
There are many ways to deal with such acts: calling the foul (or misconduct), giving the player a quiet word or a stern talking-to, cautioning or even sending off the player for serious foul play or violent conduct. Only the referee on this particular game at this particular moment can judge whether or not the acts you describe are fouls (or misconduct) or not. The referee must judge whether the player's acts are the result of poor skill, simple carelessness, recklessness or worse.

 


TEAM SOCKS MUST BE ALIKE AND BOTH OF THE SAME COLOR

Question:
I have noticed lately a fashion trend in Girls Soccer using two different colored socks by the team ( i.e. orange and black; or white and orange etc.) I have researched all kind of information's available to referees, but no answer found on rules identifying the used of matching sock only. High School Association identifies the situation as illegal equipment. NCAA only refers to matching uniforms and in contrast to the other team. FIFA only identifies socks.

For the referee sometimes the color of the sock is helpful in identifying a player submitting a rule violation in tackles or the like. Your advice is appreciated.

Answer (February 27, 2006):
There is indeed a requirement for uniformity of socks. While nothing is specifically written in Law 4 regarding the color of socks, tradition and common practice dictate that all members of a team (with the possible exception of the goalkeeper) wear socks of the same color, rather than each wearing his or her own choice or wearing socks of one color on one foot and socks of a different color on the other foot.

The ruling will be found in the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game," which is based on the Laws, memoranda from FIFA and the International F. A. Board, and in memoranda and policy papers published by the United States Soccer Federation.

QUOTE
4.1 WEARING UNIFORMS
It is implicit in the Law that each side wear a distinctively colored jersey, that shorts and socks be uniform for each team, and that the uniforms be distinguishable from the uniforms worn by the other team. However, the details of the uniform are governed by the competition authority and can vary widely from one match to another. The referee must know and enforce the rules of each competition worked. Players' jerseys must remain tucked inside their shorts, socks must remain pulled up, and each player must wear shinguards under the socks. Slide pants or similar undergarments must be as close as possible to the main color of the shorts.
END OF QUOTE

 


WHERE TO PUNISH FOULS

Question:
It is my understanding that when a penal foul is committed "off the ball" and the play is stopped for the foul, the DFK is taken at the spot of the foul. As such, the position of the ball at the restart can be far from where it was at the stoppage of play. According to Law 12, if the foul occurred in the opponents penalty area, the result is a PK "irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play."

This not only seems odd to me, but I don't believe I have ever seen a referee move the ball in such a way. Is that because any such foul is usually sanctioned as misconduct at the next stoppage of play?

This is bothering me because I have missed the same @%&# question on the USSF exam for three years now! I usually score around 96% on the test, so maybe if I can just get this silly point down, I can improve my score by one more percent?

Answer (February 24, 2006):
The foul has ALWAYS been punished at the point of the foul, not where the ball was, with the exception of the penalty kick.

In fact, the following question and answer from the IFAB (the people who make the Laws) may prove instructive. It is about as extreme as you can get on this point:

Law 12
37. After a goal is scored, the referee notices a signal from his assistant referee. The assistant referee tells the referee that before the ball entered the goal, the goalkeeper of the team that scored the goal punched an opponent inside his own penalty area. What action does the referee take? The goal is disallowed, the goalkeeper is sent off for violent conduct and a penalty kick is awarded to the opposing team.

 


TWO-REFEREE (DUAL) SYSTEM OF CONTROL

Question:
I have a question that I can't seem to find a definitive answer for...

A Sunday travel league that I ref for recently switched from the state association to US Club Soccer, a USSF affiliated organization. The league administrators & referee assignor are under the impression that with this switch they can now use the two man (dual) system of control for officiating matches (that the state association did not allow). I told them that we are still under the auspices of the Federation and that I did not believe that was permissible. The league said it was up to them to decide.

I don't feel comfortable being part of a dual system because I have seen its failings at the high school level. I also have heard that if we use the dual system as USSF referees that we are not covered by the Federation and that is a liability I am absolutely not willing to accept. What is the official stance on this issue?

Answer (February 23, 2006):
The United States Soccer Federation does not recognize the two-man or dual system of control. Games played under the auspices of US Youth Soccer or US Soccer may be officiated only under the diagonal system of control, as provided for in the Laws of the Game.

Here is the appropriate extract from page 36 of the Referee Administrative Handbook (2005 edition):
QUOTE
Policy:
Systems of Officiating Outdoor Soccer Games
The Laws of the Game recognize only one system for officiating soccer games, namely the diagonal system of control (DSC),consisting of three officials - one referee and two assistant referees. All competitions sanctioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation require the use of this officiating system. (Certain competitions will use a 4th Official.) In order to comply with the Laws of the Game which have been adopted by the National Council of US Soccer, all soccer games sanctioned directly or indirectly by member organizations of the U. S. Soccer Federation must employ the diagonal system. As a matter of policy, the US Soccer Referee Committee prefers the following alternatives in order of preference:
1. One Federation referee and two Federation referees as assistant referees (the standard ALL organizations should strive to meet).
2. One Federation referee, one Federation referee as an assistant referee and one club linesman *who is unrelated to either team and not registered as a referee. (Only if there are not enough Federation referees as stated in 1, above).
3. One Federation referee, and two club linesmen* who are unrelated to either team and not registered as referees, acting as club linesmen, (only if there are not enough Federation referees as stated in 1 or 2, above).
4. One Federation referee and two club linesmen* who are not registered Federation referees and who are affiliated with the participating teams, (only if there are not enough Federation referees as stated in 1, 2 or 3, above). Member organizations and their affiliates should make every effort to assist in recruiting officials so that enough Federation referees will be available to permit use of the diagonal officiating system for ALL their competitions.
In all cases, the Assistant Referee may be Grade 12 if the game level is appropriate for that assignment.
* Club linesmen (not registered as Federation Referees) are limited to calling in and out of bounds only.
END OF QUOTE

If only two officials turn up at the field, one must be the referee (with the whistle), while the other becomes an assistant referee (outside the field with the flag). They split the field between them, but only one may make the final decisions and blow the whistle.

Law 5 clearly prohibits the use of the dual system (two referees) and referees need to understand the consequences of participating in it (lack of insurance coverage, inability to provide support if problems develop, can't count games for upgrade requirements, eventual hair loss, etc.).

 


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