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December 2003 Archive (I of II)

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Can a player lift a ball with his foot to flick the ball over a wall? It would seem to me this would be a double kick since the ball has to be lifted and then flicked. Even though this may look like one motion, the ball is not being struck by the player but literally hit twice in succession. It would seem to me that if this was allowed, it could open all kinds of doors to allow players to "carry a ball" if needed. This happened in a recent game and no call was made.

Answer (December 13, 2003):
There is no way anyone can make this call from the computer keyboard. If the ball is truly flicked up and then propelled (contact with the ball is lost and then regained), then a second-touch violation has occurred. If the ball is lifted with the foot (the top of the foot) and propelled forward with no contact being lost, then the IFAB/FIFA Q&A covers the situation. IFAB/FIFA Q&A, Law 13, Q&A 5, applies:
5. May a free kick be taken by lifting the ball with a foot or both feet simultaneously?
Yes. The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves.


Can you tell me exactly what a "soft red" is? Thanks a lot.

Answer (December 13, 2003):
A "soft red" is a concept existing only under the National Federation (high school) rules. It is a send-off which, because it was for taunting or a second yellow card, allows the team to substitute for the player who has been dismissed (i.e., the offending team does not have to play down). This concept does not exist under the Laws of the Game.


[An administrator asks:] What happens if an adult game takes place, Team A prevails 8-2, and it's later discovered that Team B played the game with an illegal (non-registered) player? Does Team A get the 8-2 win? Is the game declared a forfeit and Team A wins 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0? Is the game to be replayed? All of these possibilities have been suggested by people I've spoken to but I have gotten no definitive answer. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

Answer (December 13, 2003):
Sure wish we could give you a definitive answer, but we cannot. Decisions on matters like this are not part of the Laws of the Game; they are something that only the competition authority can make.


I just finished my referee recertification today - had to reregister since I missed last year. I find it hard to believe, what with all the identity theft problems we have today, that US Soccer is still requesting SS#'s for identification purposes in your database. Is there any way I can have this removed from my registration, and more importantly, why can't we strike this requirement from the registration form? If nothing else, why not use just the last 4 digits, your initials and date of birth or something like that?

Answer (December 9, 2003):
If you have been registered in the past, there will be a unique USSF identification number for you. (If you do not have it, call the Referee Department at 312-808-1300. They will find it for you.)

You can have your SSAN taken off your records. It is not a required piece of information -- it is optional. Because in many cases there are several individuals with the same names in the database, the SSAN along with the birthdate helps the Federation to verify we are registering the right people to the right record.


I have recently become a referee. During a championship game, for u13 recreation, I was watching a game (not officiating) and had a question about the events that transpired. During the game, a player was hit in the chest with the ball. The player that was hit didn't do it on purpose, so naturally, he had the air knocked out of him momentarily. The coach yelled for play to be stopped, the official, said "play on". After a few minutes of yelling by fans and coaches the parents of the child came onto the field to get their son. My question is, what is the correct procedure for injuries, the laws of the game do not say clearly. Thanks for your time.

Answer (December 4, 2003):
On the contrary, the Laws of the Game are quite explicit on what to do about injuries to players. Please note that full details on proper procedure in dealing with injured players will be found in your Laws of the Game booklet, under the Additional Instructions for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials.

Dealing with injured players
Referees must follow the instructions below when dealing with injured players:
- play is allowed to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in his opinion, only slightly injured
- play is stopped if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured
- after questioning the injured player, the referee authorizes one, or at most two doctors, to enter the field to ascertain the type of injury and to arrange the player's safe and swift removal from the field
- the stretcher-bearers should enter the field with a stretcher at the same time as the doctors to allow the player to be removed as soon as possible
- the referee ensures an injured player is safely removed from the field of play
- a player is not allowed to be treated on the field
- any player bleeding from a wound must leave the field of play. He may not return until the referee is satisfied that the bleeding has stopped
- as soon as the referee has authorized the doctors to enter the field, the player must leave the field, either on the stretcher or on foot. If a player does not comply he is cautioned for unsporting behavior
- an injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted
- an injured player may only re-enter the field from the touchline when the ball is in play. When the ball is out of play, the injured player may re-enter from any of the boundary lines
- the referee alone is authorized to allow an injured player to re-enter the field whether the ball is in play or not
- if play has not otherwise been stopped for another reason, or if an injury suffered by a player is not the result of a breach of the Laws of the Game, the referee restarts play with a dropped ball
- the referee allows for the full amount of time lost through injury to be played at the end of each period of play
Exceptions to this ruling are made only for:
- injury to a goalkeeper
- when a goalkeeper and an outfield player have collided and need immediate attention
- when a severe injury has occurred e.g. swallowed tongue, concussion, broken leg etc

And this extract from an answer of September 26, 2003, should also be of help:
In addition to that sage guidance, it is important to emphasize that the Laws and the IFAB's additional instructions assume a particular kind of game -- one which is rare for the vast majority of referees. For most of us, the language of the Law or additional instructions should not be interpreted to mean that a player is required to leave the field when play was stopped solely for his injury ONLY if someone (anyone -- trainer, doctor, paramedic, coach, or mom) was beckoned onto the field. The sole determinant of the requirement to leave the field is that the referee stopped play only for the injury. If the game was stopped for other reasons and someone enters the field to aid him, the player may still be required to leave the field if a great deal of attention is required to his condition.

Referees should not be swayed by the complaints or shouts of coaches or parents, but should exercise common sense in stopping games for injury to players. A good rule of thumb is that the younger and less skilled or experienced the players, the more quickly the referee should stop the game.


The attacking team takes a shot on the defending team's goal. The shot is wide and is clearly going cross the goal line outside the 6-yard box and result in a goal kick - if left undisturbed. However, a coach arriving for the next game sees the ball and in an effort to be helpful steps forward, stops the ball with his foot and passes it to the goalie. However, he stops the ball on the goal line. I thanked him for his assistance and asked him to let the ball completely leave the field next time explaining that he had interfered with play. I proceeded with a goal kick to restart play. Did I handle the situation correctly?

Answer (December 3, 2003):
As soon as the coach stops the ball you have interference by an outside agent and play MUST be stopped -- restart with a dropped ball where the ball was, taking into account the special circumstances of Law 8.


If a player slides off the field into the goal, being beyond the goal line when his teammate plays the ball, and then came back and distract the opposing GK. The replies on the [unspecified] list did not consider the player was quite likely to be in offside position. So he's interfering with an opponent and it's offside. Restart is IFK in the GA, since his nominal position is on the goal line between the posts.

Is there a USSF official judgment on this situation?

Answer (December 3, 2003):
If a player is beyond the goal line and one of his teammates kicks the ball into the goal, the player should not be punished if he remains stationary as the ball enters the goal and does not interfere with the opponents. However, if the player interferes with the goalkeeper's ability to play the ball, and the referee believes this interference contributed to the scoring of the goal, the goal would not be valid. In this case, the player would be punished for misconduct (cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior), not for offside.

If the player had remained off the field, the restart would be a dropped ball in accordance with the special circumstances of Law 8. If the player had returned to the field before or during the interference, the restart would an indirect free kick.


Our club is investigating using movable small advertising boards and I need to find the distance requirements between sign boards and the goal line and the touch line. Also is there a difference of distance during a tournament and during the regular season.

Answer (December 2, 2003):
There are no requirements in the Laws of the Game regarding distances to be maintained between the boundary lines and any advertising boards. However, FIFA has established regulations for the distance of billboards and other signage from various locations on the field of play: from touchline 5.0 meters minimum, 3.0 meters at corner flags, and 3.5 meters where the goal area line intersects the goal line. ("Technical Recommendations and Requirements for the Construction or Modernization of Football Stadia.")


My son is a licensed USSF level 8 referee. He scored an 89 on the exam, and worked several games this past Spring in [our old state]. We relocated to [another state] this month, and he is told he may not work any USSF games because he is only 12 years old. They will, however, allow him to recertify when the time comes.

He is nationally licensed by USSF. If he were living in [our old state], he would work games and tournaments. What is the opinion of the national office on his eligibility in [our new state]?

My position is - as he is acknowledged and licensed by USSF, he should be permitted to work games.

Answer (December 1, 2003):
Each state governs the age at which referees may begin refereeing within the state's area of jurisdiction. The United States Soccer Federation takes no position one way or another.


I've always been told a player cannot be offside on a goal kick, but no one I've asked has ever known the meaning or explanation behind this rule. Could you help me understand why it is an attacking player cannot be offsides on his/her goal kick?

Answer (December 1, 2003):
Law 11 tells us that "There is no offside offense if a player receives the ball directly from a goal kick." This has been a part of the Law since at least 1881.


What are the field dimensions for youth K-2, and grades 3-5 ? Can you e-mail me a diagram of each?

Answer (November 30, 2003):
Sorry, but there are no diagrams available for small-sided youth fields. Here are the dimensions for Under 6, Under 8, Under 10, and Under 12 small-sided games (and the recommended dimensions for Under 12 full-sided games) You can find the markings on the US Youth Soccer website, together with the recommended rules. Please remember that even these dimensions may be changed by the particular competition authority.

U6: The field of play shall be rectangular, its length not more than 30 yards nor less than 20 yards, its width not more than 20 yards nor less than 15 yards. The length in all cases shall exceed the width. U S Youth Soccer Recommendation: Length 25 Yards Width: 20 Yards

U8: The field of play shall be rectangular, its length being not more than 50 yards nor less than 40 yards and its width not more than 30 yards nor less than 20 yards. The length in all cases shall exceed the width. U S Youth Soccer Recommendation: Length 50 Yards Width: 30 Yards

U10: The field of play shall be rectangular, its length being not more than 80 yards nor less than 70 yards and its width not more than 50 yards nor less than 40 yards. The length in all cases shall exceed the width. U S Youth Soccer Recommendation:
8v8 Length: 70 yards Width: 50 yards
7v7 Length: 60 yards Width: 40 yards
6v6 Length: 50 yards Width: 40 yards
5v5 Length: 50 yards Width: 40 yards

U12: The field of play shall be rectangular, its length being not more than 90 yards nor less than 70 yards and its width not more than 50 yards nor less than 40 yards. The length in all cases shall exceed the width. U S Youth Soccer Recommendation: 8v8 Length: 80 yards Width: 45 yards

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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