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April 2008 Archive (I of III)


If the Home team of a scheduled competitive league match fails to provide referees, is there a time limit the visiting team has to wait for referee's to arrive? And if they are not provided does the match end with a draw or forfeit for either team.

Answer (March 31, 2008):
This is not covered by the Laws of the Game. It is a matter for the competition authority to determine.



Scenario for question: Red attacker with ball avoids a slide tackle by jumping over tackler (no contact), but lands akwardly on his ankle twisting it (later determined to be broken). This occurred close to the bench-side touch line. Red attacker, in obvious pain, is yelling profanities. In this moment, the newer referee was not sure what to do--whether to card for the offensive language or not. Fellow referees in our area disagree--some say card, others no card. What's your view and recommendation?

Answer (March 31, 2008):
If, in the opinion of the referee, . . . with that opinion formed by some standards. We already allow for momentary outbursts of frustration and should probably allow the same for momentary outbursts of pain, but not if they continue beyond the moment, not if (other things equal) they are shouted at the top of the lungs, and not if (other things being equal) the language itself is patently offensive (based on the audience and/or by being directed at someone -- e. g., the opponent over whose leg the player jumped or the referee whose fault all this clearly was).



In a recent game, a ball was passed over forward to an offensive player who was clearly on side at the time the ball was passed, but ran to an offside position to play the ball. The pass was intercepted by a defensive player who attempted to pass it back to mid field. In doing so, he struck the back of another defensive player and the ball bounced back to the offensive player, who was now clearly in an offside position. The assistant referee called an offside call, clearly giving advantage to the team who had committed an unforced error. Was this the intent of decision 2 shown in the 2007/2008 laws of the game pamphlet?

Answer (March 31, 2008):
The assistant referee made a mistake, as it makes no difference where the player was when the opposing player struck the ball. The moment the referee (and the AR) must be interested in is where the player was when his/her teammate struck the ball. In this case the player did not infringe any portion of Law 11 and is thus not offside.



I am looking for some clarification on Law 12, Indirect Free Kick foul where the Goalkeeper "touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate." I referee U10 boys and girls where trickery is not much of an issue and ball control is not yet optimal.

1) If a player has a ball bounce off his/her body and steps away from the ball so the goal keeper can pick the ball, is it a violation of the above law?

2) If a player traps a ball with his/her foot and steps away from the ball so the goal keeper can pick the ball, is it a violation of the above law?

Answer (March 27, 2008):
Neither scenario represents an example of "trickery." Nor is either of these acts an infringement of the Law. Under this portion of Law 12, the infringement occurs only when the goalkeeper actually handles the ball. In the case of your first scenario, there would likely not be any infringement even if the goalkeeper did pick up the ball. The second scenario is a classic example of the indirect free kick foul if the goalkeeper handles the ball and illustrates why the "pass back to the keeper" doesn't have to be a "pass," doesn't have to be "back," and doesn't have to be "to the 'keeper."



My son has a medical reason for needing to wear a hat when he is reffing a game. Would you please send me a list of what medical reasons qualify you to wear a hat when in uniform.

Answer (March 26, 2008):
Since it was formalized in 1994, U. S. Soccer Federation policy has been in line with the following question and answer, published in 1999:
Q. May referees wear caps and sunglasses?
A. With regard to caps, the policy of the United States Soccer Federation was stated in the Spring 1994 issue of Fair Play magazine: "Under normal circumstances, it is not acceptable for a game official to wear headgear, and it would never be seen on a high level regional, national or international competition. However, there may be rare circumstances in local competitions where head protection or sun visors might sensibly be tolerated for the good of the game, e.g. early morning or late afternoon games with sun in the officials' line of sight causing vision difficulties; understaffed situations where an official with sensitive skin might be pressed into service for multiple games under strong sunlight or a referee who wears glasses needing shielding from rain." Sunglasses would be subject to the same considerations. In addition, we ask referees to remember that sunglasses have the unfortunate side effect of suggesting that the referee or assistant referee is severely visually impaired and should not be working the game. They also limit communication between the officials and the players by providing a barrier against eye-to-eye contact. Sunglasses, if worn, should be removed prior to any verbal communication with players.

This means that your son may wear a hat to work games at the recreational level and in the younger age groups of youth soccer, but not in top-level competition. There should be no problem with this, but if there is, we suggest that you ask your son's physician to provide a formal letter, stating the reason that a cap is necessary, and send this letter to the State Referee Administrator or State Youth Referee Administrator of your state. You may also use this e-mail as proof that you have communicated with the Federation on the matter.



I was coaching my daughter's u10 game and a younger ref did the equipment checkŠ I have a girl on the team who has softball/baseball cleats on - they have a plastic stub on the front it is a smaller stud not one that want of great length - he informed her that he had to cut the stub off or change shoesŠ I told him that I am an R8 Ref and I had looked at the cleats and wanted to know what was unsafe on themŠ he said that he dose not allow baseball style cleats regardless if they metal or notŠ I told him I did not agree with the interpretation but it was his game so she played in a spectator's shoes (they swapped) Š

So I have 2 questions:
- Cutting off a stud on the fields -- I have to say that getting a knife and cutting off the stud could leave "shaper" or uneven edgesŠ I would call that more unsafeŠ
- Where in the rules does it say baseball cleats as a whole are not legal?

I clearly remember in the this years re-cert class that baseball cleats are legal in USSF if they are safe; unsafe in my opinion would be metalŠ or if the front stud sticks out farther then the others. I did not want to disagree with the ref and tell him I was a ref and he was wrong as it was his game but I would like to have a better understanding for future to tell this parent if they need to get new cleats and I can address it with the club and the assigner.

Answer (March 26, 2008):
It is illegal to play soccer in football or baseball cleats of the traditional sort with toe cleats, even if the toe cleats are cut off. There is no documentation on this, other than the requirement that players' equipment must be safe for them and all participants. Traditional football and baseball cleats are unsafe and not permitted in soccer games. In any event, the final decision rests on the opinion of the referee.



could you tell me is there any time in the game when a goal keeper can come out of the penalty area and pull the ball back into the box with there foot and then pick the ball up with there hands and be legal? For indoor or outdoor.

Answer (March 25, 2008):
This is permitted unless the ball was last (1) kicked deliberately by a teammate or (2) delivered by a teammate's throw-in.

Rule 12.11 (b)
(a) Illegal Procedure - Handling: A goalkeeper who receives the ball outside of the penalty area shall not handle the ball inside the penalty area.



I have never fully understood the Offside Law, I hope you can clarify:

Obviously a player is offside if he receives the ball past the 2nd to last defender, but is he also considered offside if he receives the ball before the 2nd to last defender and then dribbles past the defender?

This may have a simple answer, but I have not been able to find it in any book. Thank you in advance for your response

Answer March 25, 2008):
The Law is pretty clear on this particular point:
Offside Position
It is not an offense in itself to be in an offside position.
A player is in an offside position if: - he is nearer to his opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent
A player is not in an offside position if:
- he is in his own half of the field of play or
- he is level with the second last opponent or
- he is level with the last two opponents

A player in an offside position is only penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:
- interfering with play or
- interfering with an opponent or
- gaining an advantage by being in that position

No, a player is not obviously offside if he "receives the ball past the 2nd to last defender." Simply receiving the ball when the player is past the second-last defender is not an infringement. To be offside, the player must actually be involved in active play (as described in the Law) and have been in an offside position at the moment when his teammate played the ball.

And no, neither would the player be considered offside if he received the ball farther away from the opponents' goal than the second-last defender -- providing he had not run back into an onside position from an offside position to receive the ball.

You might also consider reading the USSF publication "Offside Made Easy," available on It is, as we said above, not where the player receives the ball, but where that player was when the teammate played the ball.


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. Direction is provided by Alfred Kleinaitis, Manager of Referee Development and Education, with further assistance from Julie Ilacqua, Managing Director of Referee Programs (administrative matters); David McKee, National Director of Assessment (assessment matters); and Ulrich Strom, National Instructor and National Assessor (matters in general).

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