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May 2005 Archive (III of III)

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I am a 10 year old and taller and bigger than my team mates. I try to play clean but the smaller kids constanly push me in the back and put their forearm out when I have the ball. They do not get called for a foul, but if they run into me, I get called and they get a free kick. The other coaches, parents, and even refs have said that is the only way it is fair for them to play against me. Should my league have a rule like this for taller players?

Answer (May 23, 2005):
It is against the Spirit of the Game to punish players solely for their size, whether great or small. The aim of the game has always been that the better or faster or stronger players win. There is nothing in the Laws of the Game about handicapping taller or stronger or faster players to make things "even." The practice you describe should not be allowed.


Got into a discussion with other refs on these scenarios, during a rain delay... All the "shoulder-to-shoulder" contact described is clean, i.e. not shoulder to the back, or elbowing or open arm shoves.

(a) Attacking player has the ball under his control and is moving toward the goal. A defender forces him off the ball with clean but powerful, shoulder-to-shoulder contact that sends the attacker to the ground, and defender wins the ball. Foul or fair charge? Would it be a "fair charge" if the attacker had not hit the ground?

(b) Attacking player and defending player are running after a loose ball, beyond either one's control. Defender hits attacker with a shoulder-to-shoulder charge, forcing him off his path and defender gets to the ball. Neither player had possession and neither player was playing the ball, but the ball was clearly a "50-50" ball, up for grabs. Foul or fair charge?

(c) Attacker has the ball under his control driving down the sideline, with attacker on his heels. Attacker puts the ball forward into open space, 12-15 feet ahead of him, beyond his control. The defender takes this opportunity to charge the attacker with a shoulder-to-shoulder move, forcing him to the side and defender gets to the ball. Attacker had control of the ball, but then by putting it into open space, did he turn it into a 50-50 ball? Foul or fair charge?

Answer (May 23, 2005):
Given your description of the shoulder-to-shoulder contact as "clean" or "clean but powerful," the only other factor missing is whether or not the contact was done when the players were within playing distance of the ball. Only the referee on the spot can make the correct decision. Let these two paragraphs from the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" be your guide:

The act of charging an opponent can be performed without it being called as a foul. Although the fair charge is commonly defined as "shoulder to shoulder," this is not a requirement and, at certain age levels where heights may vary greatly, may not even be possible. Furthermore, under many circumstances, a charge may often result in the player against whom it is placed falling to the ground (a consequence, as before, of players differing in weight or strength). The Law does require that the charge be directed toward the area of the shoulder and not toward the center of the opponent's back (the spinal area): in such a case, the referee should recognize that such a charge is at minimum reckless and potentially even violent. (See also Advice 12.14.)

A player who charges an opponent in an otherwise legal manner (i.e., not carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force) but with the ball not within playing distance has infringed the Law. Such an "off the ball" charge is considered a form of impeding the progress of an opponent (even though contact has occurred) and is thus penalized with an indirect free kick restart for the opposing team. If the referee considers the charge to be careless, reckless, or involving excessive force, the restart is a direct free kick.


In a recent U10 level game where there are no PKs, an intentional hand ball occurred within the penalty box during the second half but it was not a "Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity" but more of the defender forgetting he's not in goal anymore. The referee setup up a DK on the 14-yd line (since this was small-sided soccer) closest where the infraction occurred and the defenders formed a wall 8 yds away, per county rules. The referee signaled for the kick and again another different defender in the wall touched the ball as it went into the goal. The referee allowed the goal.

In my opinion, this was the correct action for the referee except maybe he should have yellowed carded both instances of hand ball in the penalty area. Understanding that this is still instructional soccer, should that be the case or would it be better to explain to the two defenders what could have happened (carding)?

Answer (May 18, 2005):
These must be local rules of competition, as the US Youth Soccer approved rules for Under-10 small-sided games have penalty kicks and all the items under Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct) apply. (You can download the USYS rules from their site.)

While the referee should certainly make allowances for instructional-level soccer, under Law 12, the player who denied the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball should have been sent off and shown the red card. The player who deliberately handled the ball but did not succeed in stopping the goal might have been cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card.

As your rules of competition appear to differ from the Laws of the Game, we would suggest asking the league (the competition authority) what they want in such cases. And you might suggest that they consider instructing all referees who work these games to follow some specific guidance.


Yesterday, I was asked about the following situation which had occurred in a U-19 girls classic game prior to my daughters game: a player on team A who was slightly in the goal area stops team B from scoring by using her hands; the center referee blew his whistle but play continued for approximately two seconds with team B putting the ball in goal. The center referee and the AR lost track of who the player who committed the foul and simply ordered a PK.

The PK missed and later the player, reportedly the offender in stopping the goal, scored the only goal of the game.

Team B coach (for whom I had been an instructor in his grade 8 class) asked me if the referee should have just picked a player to send off or asked the team captain to pick a player. And the center and the AR asked what they should have done (besides the obvious "don't lose track of the offending player" and now write a full report). What should they have done?

Answer (May 18, 2005):
The referee should have waited a moment or two after the handling, just as he did, to see whether or not the ball entered the goal. If it did, then the goal should have been scored. As it was, the referee made a large number of mistakes:
First, you do not take away a legitimately scored goal, no matter what went before it (provided no infringement had been committed by the scoring team).
Second, if the referee has blown the whistle (by rushing too quickly to judgment, see below), the goal cannot be scored in any event.
Third, the referee AND the assistant referee should have kept track of which player deliberately handled the ball and attempted to stop the obvious goal or goalscoring opportunity. Even thought the goal was scored despite that player's efforts, the referee should have sent off the player for denying the original goal/goalscoring opportunity and shown the red card before the ensuing kick-off.
Fourth, if the referee was not intelligent enough to wait for a moment or so--which was the case--then the player who deliberately handled the ball should have been sent off for deliberately handling the ball to deny the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity.
Fifth, if the referee and the assistant referee were not quick enough to remember which player had deliberately handled the ball, the referee should have asked the team whose goal or goalscoring opportunity was denied which of their opponents handled the ball. In addition, the referee should also ask the captain of the opposing team which of the players handled the ball. This doesn't always work, but it is worth a try.

In any event, the referee must submit a full report on the entire situation to the appropriate authorities.


This past weekend I was attending my son's u-15 soccer club tournament in [our state]. During the game a player that he was covering called him by a racially unacceptable name. I don't think the referee heard it, at least I hope not, because he did nothing about it. My son brought it to his attention and nothing happened. What is the rule about this kind of behavior? As a parent, is there anything I can do?

Answer (May 18, 2005):
It is a sending-off offense to use offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures toward anyone involved in the game. We, too, hope that the referee failed to punish the act only because he did not hear the remark. Unfortunately, if the referee or one of the assistant referees did not hear the remark, the referee cannot punish it. There is nothing you as a parent can do about it at the field other than what you did.


The referee fails to see an assistant referee signal for violent conduct on the opponent and the ball enters the goal. play is restarted with a kick-off and then does the referee see the assistant referee signal. Does the referee any times notices enpower after the kick-off punishment (caution & sendoff)?

Answer (May 18, 2005):
If the referee has already restarted the game with the kick-off, the goal may not be taken away. Nor may the referee caution or send-off the player for his misconduct. The referee must include full details in the match report.


Is there a restriction on the age of Gr. 8 referees. For example can a 14-year-old referee be the CR for a U14 travel game. We have having lots of problems with young referees officiating important travel games.

Answer (May 17, 2005):
First you need to check with your state association to see if there are any restrictions on the age of a referee working games in his or her own age group. Young referees typically work only games with players at least two years younger than the referee. It is possible that your assignor has no other referees. And, on the other hand, every state can use older referees.


[Our state] conducted a referee clinic Š this year with some top notch referees. I was really surprised by one comment which I asked them to clarify twice. They said that in FIFA matches, a goalie may step off the goal line by up to 3 meters as the kicker approaches the ball to kick it.

I thought you had to have your feet on the line until the ball was struck ?

Answer (May 16, 2005):
The game is played and refereed a bit differently at the highest level. Work at that highest level is what this FIFA AR was referring to. FIFA has instructed referees to call and assistant referees working at the highest level to flag only SIGNIFICANT movement called. At this time FIFA defines "significant movement" as 1-2 meters, not 3 meters.


A goalkeeper has possession on the ball inside her penalty area. She is holding it in her hands. She punts the ball but kicks it over her head back towards her own goal. If she runs back to the goal, dives, and slaps the ball away with her hand over the goal line to keep it from scoring, what is the call? I understand no misconduct can be called, but there seems to be a disparity between Advice To Referees and Law 12. Law 12 states she may not TOUCH the ball again once it has been released from her possession until another player touches it. Advice in 12.19 states she may not "handle" the ball again and instructs us to be aware of Law 12, Decision 2 which deals with control of the ball. This may indicate that as long as she doesn't "control" the ball a second time she may "touch" it. Decision 2 goes on to explain that if the keeper parries it, i. e., she chooses to not pick it up, she is in control of the ball but this implies if she slaps it but is unable tp pick it up, no control. So, am I to understand that in the original scenario, as per Advice, the restart would be a corner kick but per Law 12 an IFK for the opponents?

Answer (May 16, 2005):
The Law is clear: an indirect free kick must be awarded if the goalkeeper "touches the ball again with his hands after it has been released from his possession and has not touched any other player." This point of Law is reinforced in Advice 12.19:
A goalkeeper who has taken hand control of the ball and then released it back into play may not handle the ball again until it has been played by an opponent anywhere on the field or by a teammate who is outside of the penalty area. This includes parrying the ball. Referees should note carefully Decision 2, which defines "control" and distinguishes this from an accidental rebound or a save.

This issue has nothing to do with either "control" or "possession" (as defined in Law 12, IFAB Decision 2):
"The goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball by touching it with any part of his hand or arms. Possession of the ball includes the goalkeeper deliberately parrying the ball, but does not include the circumstances where, in the opinion of the referee, the ball rebounds accidentally from the goalkeeper, for example after he has made a save."

To sum it up: Use the Decision and Advice 12.19 to determine whether there was initial possession/control. Then look only for any TOUCH afterward.


1. why commercial advertisings permitted only in front of jersey not on the short and stocking?

2. a player goal scored and goes toward flag post and moved at place . what action does the referee take?

Answer (May 16, 2005):
1. The rules permitting commercial advertising on uniforms are made by the competition authority (league, tournament, national association, etc.). Each competition has different rules.

2. We are uncertain just what you mean in this question. If you mean that a player removes a flag post for purposes of celebrating a goal, that would be considered to be excessive celebration and the player would be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card.

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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