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September 2005 Archive (II of II)

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I am the mother of an 8 year old boy who has been playing in our local soccer organization, now starting his 3rd year.

My son wears a medic alert bracelet for asthma and life threatening food allergy. Last Saturday (3rd game into our 3rd season) we were told by a referee that he could not play with the medic alert bracelet. He could either take it off or tape it down. I see in the NCAA rules and US Soccer rules that it is recommended to tape medic alert necklaces or bracelets to the body.

I have some concerns with this answer. One concern is general and one is specific to my situation.

General: when I spoke with the medic alert people about this they were aghast that a medic alert bracelet would be taped to a body. EMTs are taught to turn over the emblem immediately to ascertain medical conditions. Having to fumble with tape is not a good thing. Has the US Soccer organization run this option by the Medic Alert people????? Also, interestingly, FIFA rules specifically forbid the use of tape to tape jewelry down.

Specific: another of my son's conditions (not listed on the bracelet because it is not life-threatening) is chronic, severe eczema. We work very hard to keep my son's eczema under control. Applying tape to his skin for an hour of sweaty exercise would probably cause a rash that would take weeks to clear up; playing that way week after week would be a disaster, possibly leading to a staph infection of his skin.

Having surfed the web on this I find that some soccer organizations say that the medical emblems be inspected and tape applied to any portion that could be harmful. This I can see as a reasonable solution in the case of a bracelet.

The solution I am proposing, but haven't heard back yet from my local organization, is to have my son wear a tennis wrist band over the bracelet, with the words "MEDIC ALERT" written on it in red letters.

Comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

Answer (September 29, 2005):
As we responded to a query in May 2003, no referee should refuse to allow a medicalert bracelet to be worn if it is properly taped. Under the provisions of Law 4 (Players Equipment), referees are required to ensure that no player wears equipment that is dangerous to him-/herself or to any other participant. This means that sometimes we have to sacrifice the good of one player for the good of all other players.

We have responded to questions about jewelry and other non-standard equipment many times. We always state that while jewelry is not allowed, there is two permissible exceptions to the ban on jewelry: medicalert jewelry that can guide emergency medical personnel in treating injured players and certain religious items that are not dangerous and not likely to provide the player with an unfair advantage. Anything that is decorative or possibly dangerous to the player or to others is not permitted.

For further information on the requirements of the Law for player safety, see the USSF National Program for Referee Development's position papers of 7 March 2003 on "Player's Equipment" and 17 March 2003 on "Player Equipment (Jewelry)." If you would like to see them, we can send along the two memoranda.

We agree that there would seem to be only one solution to your dilemma, the tennis wristband you suggested yourself, with the words MEDIC ALERT on it. The U. S. Soccer Federation cannot give blanket permission for any item of non-standard equipment. This band would still have to be inspected and approved by the referee on each game in which your son plans to participate. If the referee does not approve the band, because it does not appear to be safe for all participants, then your son will not be able to play. As stated in Law 4, the decision of the referee is final.

Explain the facts of your son's problems to the league and show them this note. We would hope that the league will show common sense and approve the wrist band being worn. A referee would not make anyone take a wrist band off because it was dangerous so - what difference does it make in this case if it is tape or a wrist band?


I am a coach for a girls U11 team and we have another team in our league who has the step-dad refereeing many of their matches. This is not a last minute deal either - he self-assigns himself to the matches. I am just wondering at what level does this become unethical? It is not as if there is a need - we have many wonderful youth referees in our league - however he is the referee coordinator - so he puts himself in those games many weeks out. We play for standings, so does this seem unfair to you? Or am I just being a big wuss?

Answer (September 29, 2005):
Your first move should be to contact the league and have the league direct all assignors that they are not to referee their own child's (or step-child's) game, and are not to assign any parents to referee their own children's games, especially once the team is older than U8. If it continues, then other steps should be taken. You should file a complaint against the referee/assignor, as is allowed in U. S. Soccer Federation Policy 531-10, Misconduct at a Match. You can find this policy at , select Services from the left hand menu, then Bylaws and Policies, click on the Policy Manual and it will come up. Then should scroll down to the appropriate policy. The complaint is filed with the state youth soccer association. The league may not realize this is going on, but surely they are paying the assignor and should have some say in the matter.


a question on the LOTG - this came from an assignor relating to a youth game last weekend: Referee issues a second yellow card to same player in first half, but does not realize it is the same player and allows the player to remain in the game (apparently wrote the first number down incorrectly). Is approached at the half by the team manager of the opposing team who politely inquires why the player was not sent off ? In discussion with the ARs the referee now understands he has made an error, but believes he cannot fix it as the game has been restarted.

I was asked what the correct procedure should be. I could not find this written up in the ATR, Q & A etc., but believe the solution should be to have the player removed when the problem is identified; the team plays short for the remainder of the game; a detailed report sent to the League explaining exactly what occurred.

Would you concur with that ? Or does the match have to be abandoned ?

Answer (September 28, 2005):
This question was answered back on June 12, 2002. We repeat the pertinent portions of that answer here.

The referee may correct the error in not sending off the player following the second caution/yellow card, but may not change any events that have occurred since he committed that error. Š The referee will have to bear the responsibility for his or her own error and its subsequent effect on the game.

This emphasizes the need for the closest cooperation among the crew of officials. Such a situation could have been avoided if all officials were aware of who was cautioned. The referee must ensure that his or her method of isolating the guilty player and administering the caution/yellow card allows the rest of the officiating team to know what is going on.


In a GU11 club game, a player went down hard and the referee waved the coach on to the field to attend to the player. On the way out onto the field the coach gave tactical instructions to some of his team as he approached the injured player. The referee threatened the coach with a Yellow card. My take was that a) the coach can't be shown a card, b) I can't find a provision in the laws which prohibits this, c) since any players on the field can come to the touchline for water during a stoppage and they are free to talk to their coach, no advantage could exist for the team with the coach on the field.

Another referee argued that since the coach was on the field, it could be argued that he was not acting "in a responsible manner" but was at a loss for what to do about it

Answer (September 28, 2005):
Unless the rules of the particular competition provide for it, no team official may be shown a card and certainly not cautioned. Under the Laws of the Game, only players and substitutes may be cautioned or sent off and shown the appropriate card by the referee. Coaches are simply expelled for irresponsible behavior.

When a team official is invited to enter the field to assess injury or treat it, that team official is expected to do only that and nothing more. However, unlike games played under high school rules, if a bit of coaching does happen, there is little that can be done about it under most scenarios. A referee should not contemplate charging a team official with irresponsible behavior under these circumstances unless that team official (and only that team official) is giving tactical instructions INSTEAD of taking care of the injury or if the instructions were unduly delaying the restart of play. And, having made that decision, the referee should certainly talk with the team official first before taking any concrete action to punish the behavior.


During a recent U-17 boys match, a confrontation occurred between two players from opposing teams. One player dragged the other to the ground, at which point the player dragged to the ground sat on the other and raised a fist as if he was going to hit the other.

When this occurred, a player on the bench entered the field and inserted himself into the confrontation and began challenging players from the opposite team.

While entering the field without permission is a cautionable offense, the fact that the player entered from the bench area, a considerable distance from the confrontation, then actively inserted himself into the confrontation seems to warrant a send off.

This did not occur because according to the referee his actions did not fall under any of the offenses for a send off; however, in previous refereeing classes it has been discussed that entering the field to take part in a confrontation constitutes violent conduct, whether or not the player guilty of entering actually throws a punch, pushes, etc. Can you provide some clarification and point me to any Memoranda on this subject?

Answer (September 27, 2005):
The fact that the person who entered from the bench area "inserted himself into the confrontation and began challenging players" from the opposing team constitutes violent conduct in and of itself. There is no need for further action by this person. Referee decision: Send-off for violent conduct, show red card, restart in accordance with the reason for the stoppage, which we assume to be the foul and serious misconduct by the other two players, both of whom should also be sent off for violent conduct.

You may have been thinking about NF and NCAA rules, which specify entering the field to participate in a fight as a send-off offense (even if no blow was struck). The trick is always to distinguish between the abettor versus the peacemaker (particularly the peacemaker who believes force is the best defense!).


1. In a U16G game yesterday, one team had only 11 players. The coach called players off the pitch periodically (sometimes a slight injury was apparent, other times it seemed for instruction, or a personal issue). That team then (obviously) only had 10 players o nthe pitch. The other coach felt that was wrong, and the team with only 11 should keep all 11 on the field unless there was an obvious injury.

One incident, especially, caused the coach ennough distress to yell at the CR that a caution was warranted on a player leaving the pitch 'without permission'. That incident unfolded like this:
After a play in the corner, the coach calls his defender over to the center line (where he was standing). As they were talking (he off the field, she on the field), the ball rolled towards them. He said 'come here', indicating to come off the field, and she did. The ball rolled out where she stood, resulting in throw in for the other team. Rather sporting in my opinion. At this point the other coach demanded a card for 'leaving the field without permission'. I personally didn't understand that, and neither did the CR.

What is the rationale behind that caution - leaving without permission - and when should it be applied?

If we were to apply that same rationale to all 'cautions' we'd be carding players for retreating 8 yards on a FK (rather than the 10), and other things that the intelligent referee would rarely consider.

2. While playing short (for one of the reasons mentioned above) when can the player return? The state governing body (CSYSA) has no provision in their modifications to LOTG, and I can't find a clear definition documented somewhere 'official'.

I've been taught that a player may 're-enter' the game at a stoppage of play if approved by the referee, but does not have to wait for a substituion opportunity for his/her team.

Answer (September 26, 2005):
Philosophy first, answers later: (a) We need to remember that it is the referee who manages the game, not the coach of either team. (b) There is nothing in the Laws of the Game that requires a team to have the maximum number of players on the field at all times. They must have the minimum number (usually seven) of players on the field, but not the maximum. However, there is that sticky bit about requiring the permission of the referee to enter or leave the field of play. (c) In addition, there is another problem here, in that coaches are expected to behave responsibly, including making brief comments and then retreating from the line and back to their "technical area," wherever that may be in a youth game. (d) As to cautioning players for retreating only 8 yards instead of the statutory 10, that is a good idea. Why don't more referees enforce this portion of the Laws? There would be less worry if players did withdraw immediately and not try to game the referee and the other team.

1. While the player did leave the field without the permission of the referee, a cautionable offense, the offense was certainly trifling in this case and was done by both player and coach in the spirit of the game. A warning to both coach and player in the first instance should be enough.

Please note: Players who have left the field "in the normal course of play" and who, therefore, do not need the permission of the referee to leave the field, do not need any permission to return (and may return at any time, including during the course of play).

2. Players who have left the field of play with the permission of the referee may reenter the game at any stoppage with the permission of the referee.


I had a ref in our league send me an interesting issue. He was reffing a U12 rec game and issued a yellow card for use of profanity. At half time, he referred to the Laws of the Game. After reading the description of one of the send-off offenses (uses offensive, or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures), he decided that the offense was worthy of a red card. He then went to the team and issued a red card to the player prior to the second half starting.

While my advice to him was that he should have left it as a yellow card and kept it in mind for the next time such a situation arose, I couldn't find anything that said it was not allowed to "promote" a yellow card to a red card. My feeling is that it's not allowed. Your thoughts?

Answer (September 26, 2005):
A referee may not change a decision once the game has been restarted. However, if the referee, in reviewing the information later, decides that the earlier decision was too lenient, that should be included in the match report. The referee should include full details of the incident, in this case specific "offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures" used, in the report.

We can only wonder why a referee would want to caution, rather than send off a player for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures in the first place.


This particular play came up at our meeting last night: GK for Team A has the ball at the top of the 18 and punts the ball. However, the ball promptly hits the back of the head of player A on team B who has aleady turned away in order to head upfield. The ball rebounds back toward the GKs net to a teammate of player A (on team B) who receives the ball while in the offisde position (judged at the moment of the rebound) and scores...why should that not be a good goal? Yeah, player B received an advantage off that unintended deflection, but was it really the intent of player A to play the ball there??? Yeah, it touched player A, but so what? Why not try and judge the intent of the play instead and rule it a good goal???

Answer (September 26, 2005):
There is one very good reason for not judging intent on offside: We do not judge intent on any other infringement of the Laws. The only place we even come close is when judging "attempting" in three of the direct free kick fouls, kicking, striking, and tripping, and in those cases the Law specifically orders us to judge the attempt to be the same as the actual contact.

Instead of intent, we judge results. This works in both fouls and offside and is what the International Football Association Board has made clear that it wants done.


I had a quick question. I was reffing a U12 Boysgame where the center referee wasn't calling too many calls. He was, however, being consistant. At the end of the game the away team's coach, after yelling the whole game, came and started yelling at the ref. He said the "f" word a few times while me and the other AR where standing next to the coach. The coach wanted to write comments on the game card so we waited. I then asked the referee why he hadn't carded the coach since he already had warned the coach to stop. The ref said that I should do it if I felt I needed to. I said that I don't think an AR can.

My question comes to, if some of the comments where directed towards the AR and the center ref wasn't doing anything, can ARs card coaches, as long as the league allows coaches to be carded?

Answer (September 26, 2005):
No, assistant referees are not allowed to caution or send off players or to expel coaches. However, they can and are encouraged to submit reports of all serious misconduct to the competition authority (league, cup, tournament, etc.) and to the state soccer association.

There is little wonder that the coach was using foul and abusive language against this referee, who seems to have no courage and little common sense. For the benefit of all the rest of us, please contact your assignor and/or local referee association regarding the apparent failure of the referee to handle dissent/abusive language directed at the team of officials (and for offering you wholly inappropriate advice).


Don't know if there is a U S Soccer position on tattoos for referees. Had a ref at a youth game wearing a short sleeve shirt. Both of his arms were completely tattooed. Would imagine from the viewpoint of a U 10 kid, it looked kind of strange. I thought that he should at least have worn a long sleeve shirt to look professional. Same ref wore a belly pouch to keep passes in.

Answer (September 26, 2005):
Referees are expected to appear professional at all times. "Belly pouches" are not acceptable wear. There is no restriction on tattoos except personal taste.


Here's one we can't find in our rule books. Does the ball have to be placed and stopped before the goal kick is taken, or can a player drop or roll the ball in the goal area as another player is running up to strike it?

Answer (September 26, 2005):
An excellent question. Nowhere does it state specifically that the ball must be stationary for goal kicks, but it is implied in Law 17 for corner kicks (and in Law 14 for penalty kicks). The specific statements in Laws 8 and 13 that the ball be stationary for the start and restart of play and free kicks also imply that the ball must be stationary for all kick restarts. (Note: This answer was first published on July 9, 2001. Nothing has changed since that time.)

Law 8
* the ball is stationary on the center mark
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward
Law 13
Types of Free Kicks
For both direct and indirect free kicks, the ball must be stationary when the kick is taken and the kicker does not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player.
Law 14
Position of the Ball and the Players
The ball:
* is placed on the penalty mark
Law 16
* the ball is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team
[the inference here being that if the ball was at "any point" it was stationary, but you could probably argue that one either way]
Law 17
* the ball is placed inside the corner arc at the nearest corner flagpost
[the inference here (as in Law 14) is that if the ball is "placed," it is stationary]
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves
In all cases of a kick restart, the ball must be stationary before being kicked. It is not in play until it has been kicked and moves (forward in the case of kick-off and penalty kick).


Must a Center Referee wait to signal "goal kick" (and allow youth teams to substitute and keep the match flowing) or "corner" (and allow the teams to set up) until the AR completes his run, if the AR, for example, is 35 yards away from the end line when the 40 yard shot is taken? It is the Center's call in any case.

Answer (September 26, 2005):
It is both tradition and common courtesy for the referee to wait until the substitute has reached his or her position for the restart. The same would certainly apply to waiting for the assistant referee--who is part of the officiating team.

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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