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January 2004 Archive (I of II)

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I am a referee and a coach. Last spring I was an AR in a boy's U-17 premier division game at a tournament. A player was just hanging out in an offsides position by about 10 yards on the very far side line. The ball and all the other players of both teams were at half field or beyond,attacking the other goal. The defending team won the ball and made a long clearance down the near side line (where I was). One of their forwards ran onto the ball from his own half and took the ball quickly down the sideline. He himself managed to get in deep behind the other teams defense, take the ball to the corner and get off a good cross. Mean while the player on his team, who had been hanging out on the far side in an offsides position, took off angling his run from his sideline towards the center of the goal area. The player with the ball made his cross to this player in the center of the goal area. At the moment this cross was made I raised my flag to signal offsides and indicated towards the player in the center. I was absolutely positive that this player had gained an advantage from being in an offsides position and would not have arrived to receive that cross unless he had that head start. The only defender near the play was trying to catch the fellow in the corner.

A month later at a coaching diploma course a group of very experienced college coaches and most of them instructors and my self got in a very heated discussion about this exact type of situation. They contend that the offsides player was brought back on sides by the play. I contend that he and his team gained and unfair advantage from his offsides position. I was confident of my decision at the time but they were so darn sure I was wrong that I am asking you?

Answer (January 16, 2004):
It makes absolutely no difference where the player was when his team gained control of the ball. He could have been chatting with the opposing goalkeeper in the goal and it would make no difference. There is insufficient information in your description to determine whether your flagging for offside was correct or not.

The crucial information lacking in your question is where the player was -- in relation to the ball and opposing players -- at the moment his teammate played the ball. If a player is no nearer the opponents' goal than at least two opposing players or the ball when his teammate releases the ball, he cannot be in an offside position and thus cannot be offside. So, no matter where the player in question was prior to the moment of release, if he was behind the ball when it was played to him by his teammate, then he should not have been called offside.

Note: "Gaining an advantage" is relevant only if the determination had already been made as to offside position. Further, historically this phrase is used ONLY in connection with balls being deflected from goal posts, crossbars, goalkeepers, etc. In other respects, what the referee and assistant referee have to look for is interfering with play or with an opponent.

We might add that there is no such term in soccer as "offsides." The correct term is "offside."


Can a keeper who collects the ball outside the penalty area, dribble the ball into the PA and then pick it up?

Answer (January 14, 2004):
[This is a repeat of an answer of March 20, 2003]
You appear to have been confused by the references in Law 12 to the goalkeeper touching with his hands a ball passed to him by his teammates. Under the terms of Law 12, the goalkeeper may dribble the ball back into his own penalty area and pick it up only if it was not last deliberately kicked by a teammate or received directly from a throw-in by a teammate. The goalkeeper may handle (touch with the hands) only those balls that have been played to him legally. That means that if a teammate last played the ball, it must not have been thrown in nor kicked deliberately, but either misplayed in an attempt to clear it away or in some legal manner without resorting to trickery to get around the conditions of Law 12.

If an opponent last played the ball or it was played legally by a teammate (outside the goalkeeper's penalty area), the goalkeeper may dribble the ball into his own penalty area and then pick it up to put it back into play.

The 'keeper may not handle the ball, release it, and then kick the ball to himself. That is called a "second touch" or "double touch," meaning that no other player has played the ball between the moment the goalkeeper released it from his hands and then touched it again.

The goalkeeper may play with his feet any ball passed to him in any manner -- unless the referee believes some trickery was involved. In such cases, the other player, not the goalkeeper, would be punished.


I've heard there's a new fitness test for upgrades. If so, what is the new test or when will the details be released?

Answer (January 14, 2004):
There is no new fitness test for upgrading within the USSF. See the Referee Administrative Handbook for details on existing requirements.


I have a restart question. Here is the situation......The ball is in play with no clear possesion by either team. Two player from opposing teams get into an argument and play is stopped by the referee. Both players are called aside, "chewed out" and Cautioned for Desent. Is the ball restarted with a drop ball where the ball was when play was stopped or is it restarted with an indirect kick? If an indirect kick, where from and which team gets the kick, as a player from both teams was booked without knowledge of which player started the disagreement first?

Answer (January 14, 2004):
The referee must first decide if there has been a foul or misconduct in such cases. We can see no reason for cautioning either player for dissent in this case. Unless there is information you have not supplied, there would be no reason to caution and show the yellow card to any player.

If there has been neither a foul nor misconduct, then the only possible restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped by the referee (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).


What are the captains rights? If any...

Answer (January 14, 2004):
The captain has no rights, only duties. Here is an excerpt from the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game":
The role of the team captain is not defined in the Laws of the Game. He usually wears an armband. The captain is responsible to the referee for his team, but has no special rights or privileges. By practice and tradition, certain duties fall upon the team captain:
-to see that the referee's decisions are respected by the captain's teammates and by team officials;
-to counsel a teammate who may be reluctant to leave the field at a substitution - but neither the captain nor the referee may insist that the player leave;
-to represent his or her team at the coin toss to determine which direction the team will attack to begin the game (and subsequent overtime periods) or which team will take first kick in kicks from the penalty mark;
-to be the team representative to whom the referee must go to obtain the name or names of members of that team who must be withdrawn from participating in kicks from the penalty mark in order to match the size of the opposing team (which has fewer players on the field before or during the kicks from the penalty mark procedure as a result of injury or misconduct).


In a High school varsity game a shot was place on goal. After the goalie game contral of the ball then decide to roll it out to a team mate. When he went back with the ball it slip and went backwards towards his on goal. A striker than ran to pressure the goalie, which then panic and picked the ball up. Is the an infraction are not? Being that it was unitionaling release of the ball back into play.

Answer (January 11, 2004):
Although there is no difference in this case, we do not answer questions based on high school rules. This answer is based on the Laws of the Game.

After the goalkeeper deliberately drops the ball, he or she may not pick it up again. The 'keeper may not handle the ball, release it, and then kick the ball to himself. That is called a "second touch" or "double touch," meaning that no other player has played the ball between the moment the goalkeeper released it from his hands and then touched it again. However, if the referee believes that the release of the ball was entirely accidental and that, in picking the ball up again, the goalkeeper did not gain an unfair advantage, the referee could decide that the violation was trifling and therefore could be ignored (with perhaps only a brief warning to the goalkeeper about the requirements of the Law).


A referee issues a red card to a player for a second bookable offense and play then continues. At half time the referee has a chance to review a video recording of the player's supposed offense and decides that he, the referee, was wrong. May the ejected player return to the game?

Answer (January 10, 2004):
If the referee has sent off a player and then restarted the game, the matter is closed for that game. If the referee should happen to look at a video replay of the incident and thus determine that the player should not have been sent off, the player may not return to the game. The referee simply notes the information in his match report -- and pays attention to business from now on.


I wish to address an issue in regard to [a brand of] soccer balls. The [brand name] game balls have a twist valve pump that airs up the ball without the need of a [separate] pump and needle. Although this may be convenient, it can be very dangerous to the players on the field. Soccer balls take more wear and tear than footballs or basketballs.

My concern is that the first two games I allowed one of these balls to be used the plastic pump slides out of the ball, it can gouge an eye or cut up a player's face (valve is made of hard plastic). I now do not allow any [brand name] ball to be used in any of my games, even if they are new. One coach said I cannot prohibit them since that is the only kind of balls they have. I was under the impression that the referee can chose what the game will be played with. Can I continue to disallow these balls from being used?

Is there some way USSF can notify [the manufacturer] of this problem?

Answer (January 2, 2004):
If a ball is not safe for play, it cannot be used. The decision lies with the referee, not with the coach or other team official.


I guess I got myself confused, recently. Not in a game, but during a recert clinic. I now owe the instructor a dinner, but I want to make certain I understand the history of the rule change.

For many years, the offside infraction law (11) stated that a player in an offside position was not called for an infraction if they receive the ball direct from a: corner kick, goal kick, throw-in, or when dropped by the referee.

Then, prior to the major 1997 rewrite of the Laws, FIFA deleted the words : when dropped by the referee.

I must have not been paying attention. I assumed that when FIFA dropped those words, that they intended for a player to be Called for the offside infraction if they were in an offside position and received the ball direct from the drop.

Obviously, I have never called this in a game. Drop balls are rare (in my games) and the idea that the ball would go to someone (directly) who was in an offside position is even rarer.... However, why did FIFA have that wording to begin with, and why did they remove it? While it is a very rare occurrence, why not specifically state "no offside infraction when receiving the ball direct from a drop by the referee"?

FIFA eliminated 5 words, but it did cause me some confusion.....

Any historical (or hysterical) insight would be appreciated.

Answer (January 1, 2004):
Thank you for asking us to do a bit of historical research -- no hysterics needed here.

From 1888 through 1904, the referee would "throw up" the ball to restart after temporary stoppages (the ball had to hit the ground before being played). In 1905 the dropped ball was introduced in place of the thrown-up ball. No player could be called offside directly from either a ball "thrown up" or dropped.

The provision excepting players from being called offside directly from the dropped ball was added to the offside Law in 1938, when the offside Law was changed from Law 6 to Law 11 in the IFAB's reorganization (revision and renumbering) of the Laws of the Game. The exception was not mentioned in Law 6 prior to the reorganization.

It would seem to have been superfluous from the moment of its inclusion in the Law and to have been dropped by the IFAB for that reason in 1990 -- though the removal of the dropped ball had been formally proposed as early as 1987. It is likely that the words were originally included in response to calls for clarification to remove any doubt.

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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