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October 2008 Archive (IV of IV)


I actually have two questions-
1- We just recently had a game where the line ref raised his flag for off side on our player and rightfully so; the middle ref did not see it until after the person who was off side had an accidental collision with a player from the other team, no call was made. Once the ref saw that the line ref was holding his flag up for off sides; he blue the whistle. As the ref was giving the other team a kick for the off sides, there coach ran onto the field and started arguing in the ref face for a reason I do not know. At that time the Ref tossed the Coach, who walked of the field. Once the Coach was off the field, a parent of that team came onto the field and did the same thing.

The ref was going to give there team a kick because of off sides, but instead gave our team a kick because of the parent being on the field. Was this the correct decision?

2- If any member of a team physically harms a player of the opposite team; by clawing them in the arms or scratching whenever they had a chance. Is a player aloud to let the ref know this is going on; especially if it is leaving visible marks on the player?

Answer (October 23, 2008):
1. More inventive refereeing. Once the referee has stopped play for an infringement (in this case the offside), the restart may not be changed, no matter what happens. The coach was expelled for behaving irresponsibly and so was the parent who took his place. While that is behavior that must be included in the referee's match report, it in no way changes the restart. Correct restart is an indirect free kick against your team for the offside.

2. Well, the player can certainly complain, but the referee cannot act solely on the basis of whatever a player says without corroboration from the referee's own observation or observation by an assistant referee (or fourth official). But if the referee and assistant referees were actually watching the game there would be no need for it, would there? In any event, the player should not retaliate, as that might lead to his or her dismissal (red card).


While waiting for the attacking team to take its corner kick, the attackers and defenders are in the penalty area jockeying for position. What rules apply to the attackers, defenders and goalkeeper during this time period, before the kick is actually taken, in regards to establishing a position? I have seen attackers deliberately standing and jumping in front of the goalkeeper in order to try and block the view of the corner kick. I have also seen pushing, shoving, pulling, and bumping by attackers and defenders, who are trying to stay in front of the other player and who are trying to block the other player. Is this misconduct? Is this cautionable? Should a referee take some action to stop this type of activity?

Answer (October 23, 2008):
Except under certain conditions spelled out in the Laws (such as at a penalty kick or throw-in or goal kick), a player is permitted to stand wherever he or she wishes. After the ball is put in play, a player who -- without playing or attempting to play the ball -- jumps up and down in front of the goalkeeper to block the 'keeper's vision or otherwise interferes with the 'keeper's ability to play the ball is committing the foul of impeding an opponent. If there is contact initiated by the player doing this, the foul becomes holding or pushing. When such activity occurs, the referee should immediately stop the restart and warn the players to conduct themselves properly. If, after the warning (and before the restart), they do it anyway, they have committed unsporting behavior and should be cautioned. The restart remains the same.

Before the ball is in play, the referee can simply allow the opponent of the 'keeper to impede, wait for the corner kick to occur, blow the whistle, award an indirect free kick coming out, and card if needed. This is the "harsh" approach and it carries the danger, provided the jostling doesn't sufficiently enrage the the goalkeeper (or any other defender), that the tensions pr violence will escalate to something more serious. It is also not a good approach when it is an attacker who is doing the jostling.

The referee can see the situation developing and verbally and/or by a closer presence encourage correct behavior on the part of the jostlers in the hope that they will cease their misbehavior. This is the "proactive" (some would call it the "wimpy") approach and is more likely to prevent escalation, if it works. If it doesn't work, the referee can always hold up the corner kick, caution, and then signal the restart or go to the option above.


After some research today, I found out that the rule of having to sub out a player that received a yellow card until the next dead ball is no longer in effect as of 2004. Recently I was watching a U12 girls select game as a spectator and a player was shown a yellow card and the young, but experienced ref proceeded to send her off when the coach from her team came onto the field and stopped her and told her to remain on the field. Which she did. After the game I talked with the ref and he told me that before the game he was told that the coach was the president of the league and he felt intimidated to make the wrong calls. My thought was at that moment the ref thought the rule was still to sub them out and he should of made the girl sub out and cautioned the coach for entering the field without permission. I'm I wrong for thinking that.

As far as the yellow card and temp send off, that I have resolved with the young referee.

1. The question is: does this the statement about being President of the league constitute referee intimidation, if so what advice would you give this young referee.

After the game I talked with the ref and he told me that before the game he was told that the coach was the president of the league and he felt intimidated to make the wrong calls. My thought was at that moment

Answer (October 23, 2008):
1. Regarding temporary expulsion No longer in effect as of 2004? Such forced substitution or temporary expulsion from the game has NEVER been permitted under the Laws of the Game. This is/was a rule for particular competitions, but it has never been authorized by the International F. A. Board (the folks who write the Laws of the Game) or FIFA (the folks who administer the game for the world).

In point of fact, we answered part of your question only a month ago:

USSF answer (September 19, 2008):
We are less concerned about your question than about the reasons that occasion it. Before answering your question directly, please allow us to state that the league in which you referee may be operating in contravention of a FIFA directive forbidding such "temporary expulsion." This may also put the league in contravention of the stated policies of the U. S. Soccer Federation. As we mention often, if the referee accepts an assignment in a competition that uses rules that contravene the Laws of the Game, he or she must follow those rules; however, we recommend against taking such assignments.

In 2002, a directive from the International F. A. Board stated:
The Board strongly supports FIFA's concern that some national associations continue to use temporary expulsions in lower leagues. The Board confirmed in the strongest terms that this procedure must cease immediately, otherwise disciplinary sanctions will be applied against the offending federation.

In 2002 we informed all USSF referees: The referee must be aware that leagues or other competitions which use the "hothead" rule, temporarily expelling players for whatever reason, are not operating with the authorization of the United States Soccer Federation. The U. S. Soccer Federation has no power to authorize modifications to the Laws that are not permitted by FIFA. This is a FIFA directive that must be followed by members of FIFA. There is less concern over this issue in recreational-level youth and amateur leagues, but it can certainly not be permitted in competitive-level youth and amateur competition. A referee who takes assignments in higher-level competitions that require temporary expulsions does so knowing that he will not be following the guidance of the Federation and may jeopardize his standing within the Federation.

The International F. A. Board reaffirmed in 2003 its instructions that no rules permitting temporary expulsion (being forced to play short for an infringement of the Laws) may be used. Here is an excerpt from USSF Memorandum 2003:
The Board re-affirmed the decision taken at its last meeting that the temporary expulsion of players is not permitted at any level of football.
USSF Advice to Referees: This instruction, which was first discussed in Memorandum 2002, is not subject to implementation by the referee: it is a matter for the competition authority. "Temporary expulsion" in this context refers to a rule purporting to require that a player leave the field temporarily under certain conditions (e.g., having received a caution - a so-called "cooling off" period) and does not include situations in which a player must correct illegal equipment or bleeding.

The USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" tells referees (in Advice 5.17):
There can be no "temporary expulsion" of players who have been cautioned, nor may teams be forced to substitute for a player who has been cautioned.

2. Regarding the "intimidation" by the coach:
While we deplore the fact that the coach/league president did not politely approach the referee and point out that there is no rule either allowing or requiring temporary expulsion/substitution, the scenario does not suggest that the coach actually told the referee that he was a high muckety-muck and must be obeyed. Instead, the referee seems to have invented the intimidation out of thin air, which does not relieve the coach of the responsibility to go through channels, rather than imperiously ordering his player to remain on the field. In addition, we must also express concern that the referee was prepared to do something totally counter to the Laws.


At a U9 girls club game, the field was poorly lined - to stand over the line you could not see them. If you looked down the line they were vaguely visible.

The goalie blocked the ball from going into the net and went to pick it up. The ball never left the field, it never bounced. The ref gave the kick from the penalty line at the spot where she believed he wanted her to stand.

The ref had his left hand in the air and his right pointed to the ground. The goalie stepped up to that point and the ref then lowered both hands to the ground and the goalie stepped up to the new spot the ref motioned to and the ref called a "hand ball" and gave a penalty kick to the other team. This happened a second time, on the third time the ref told her when to stop.

He was aware of the poor condition of the lining of the fields prior to the start of the game - they were away fields for us. Our loss was 2 - 0 due to those kicks. Is this appealable.

Answer (October 23, 2008):
Under 9s; club soccer; lines nearly invisible, with referee fully aware of the inexperience of the players and the conditions of the field; referee gives apparently vague guidance to a goalkeeper who is relying on him for assistance.

We can understand the referee not figuring out the problem the first time, but certainly not a second time. These are Under 9s, not traveling team players and certainly not professionals.

The job of the referee at this level of play, as at every other level, is to call the game correctly, but it is also to function as an instructor of sorts, making certain that the players know at least how and why they messed up. It is clear that the referee's performance was not up to par.

Unfortunately, it is not a matter for appeal. The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final. No matter that his advice to your goalkeeper was lacking in concern for the good of the game, this is not something that can be successfully appealed. However, something can be done: The matter should be brought to the attention of the local association or the person who assigned the game.


Regarding the law 11 The Offside . in the event of a goal kick the law says that there is not an offside position even though there is a offensive player clearly nearer the opponents' goal line than the next-to-last opponent, now ,what happens if before this player touches the ball someone else touches it, and after that this player gets it. Is it now offside ?

Answer (October 23, 2008):
Actually, there is still offside position at a goal kick. Being in an offside position is legal and can occur at any time during play. However, there is no offside infringement directly at the taking of a goal kick. If an opponent plays/touches/makes contact with the ball on its way to the player in the offside position, there is no infringement of Law 11. If a teammate plays/touches/makes contact with the ball on its way to the player in the offside position, there is the possibility of an offside infringement, if the the player in the offside position is actively involved in play by interfering with an opponent, interfering with play, or gaining an advantage from being in the offside position.


U14G game. Two opponents are aggressively pursuing a 50/50 ball in the open field. Blue arrives at the ball an instant before yellow. Blue's first action, with the ball now directly at her feet, is to shield the ball from the fast approaching Yellow player by moving her body sideways directly into the path of the oncoming Yellow player. Blue player has a more woman-like body. She's at least a foot taller than Yellow and is widest at the hips. The Yellow player, with a more girl-like body, goes flying over the hip of the Blue player.

In my judgment since Blue arrived at the ball first (albeit only by an instant) and since she was clearly within playing distance of the ball, her act of shielding the ball was legal. In my opinion, the fact that Yellow went flying through the air was the result of her own carelessness. Accordingly, I did not whistle and allowed play to continue.

First, based on these facts was that the correct call?

Second, it is also my opinion that Blue knew that her act of shielding the ball would cause a violent collision between the two and that the smaller girl would be more adversely affected by such a collision. (These were two talented, aggressive players, probably the best on each team, who had been going at each other for some time prior to the collision.) Could Blue ever be called for a foul in this situation? If so, what do I look for to determine a foul occurred.

Answer (October 23, 2008):
A player who is within playing distance of the ball -- as determined by the referee, not the player -- is permitted to interpose her body between the ball and the opponent. The fact that she is larger makes absolutely no difference. If she chose to put her hips in a particular position before the opponent arrived, life is hard for the opponent. Unless you are absolutely certain that the shielding player has physically moved her hip during the actual contact, thus using a part of her body for a purpose that is not permitted -- charges have to be shoulder to shoulder, even for women -- then there has been no foul here.


I volunteer to referee for a recreational league of players ages 11-13. My question is regarding a dropped ball. One of the red team defenders was injured on the field and I stopped play (the white team had the ball in red's penalty box). After the player was removed from the field, I did a dropped ball in the center circle (wrongly I know now).

After reading the FIFA laws, I know what the book says, however in every college and professional soccer game I have watched, a dropped ball was in the goal box where the goalie picked it up after the bounce, or in the center circle where the opposing team (the one who didn't have the ball) kicks it down to the other team willingly.

What I did was talk to the red team and told them to kick it down to the white team and we would start play after the ball was dropped.

Unfortunately, the ball was kicked high and the white goalie caught it on the bounce and carried it into the net. This wasn't my intent and after speaking with the coaches, the goal was disallowed (both agreed), and I dropped it in front of the white goalie. The complaining came more from the parents.

Keeping in mind that this is a rec league and some kids are still learning, I find the dropped ball to be extremely dangerous. What should my call and subsequent action have been and what is the gentleman's agreement that should have been followed by the kids regarding a dropped ball?

Answer (October 23, 2008):
We congratulate you for volunteering to officiate and, even more, for being serious enough about it to think carefully about these situations and to look for ways to ensure fairness for the players. We wish more referees would do that! Despite this, however, there are certain things even volunteers must be aware of, regardless of the level of play.

First, referees should not make "gentleman's agreements" with players. Although the game was founded on the principle that it was played by gentlemen and those who played it would behave accordingly, that went out the door well over a hundred years ago. We do not bargain with players. Instead, we establish rules (beyond those in the Laws of the Game) early on, even for the less-experienced and less-skilled players.

Before dropping the ball -- at the place where it was when play was stopped, just as it calls for in the Law -- the referee should know who will be present at the drop. If players are too close, or are swinging their legs like pendulums on a clock gone haywire, the referee tells them to be still or to move back or whatever else seems necessary. He or she also reminds them that they cannot play the ball until it hits the ground.

If the referee wants the ball to go to a particular team, in a sense of fairness (as you describe above), he or she engineers the drop so that that particular team gets the ball. The referee cannot order the other tea


Men's amateur match, free kick 35 yards from goal. The attacker is getting in position to kick the ball. There is no indication of a ceremonial kick (ie whistle held high with "my whistle" command). Two defending players are 6-7 yards from ball. The referee is encouraging them to retire. "Get back, get back" with appropriate hand gesture. Quick kick is taken and a goal results. Defenders including goalkeeper are "frozen" and do not move appropriately to the ball. In this case should the goal be allowed or kick recalled? Did the referee involvement constitute indicating a ceremonial kick?

Answer (October 23, 2008):
The Advice to Referees tells us:
Law 13 requires all opponents to be at least ten yards away in all directions from the location of any free kick and it is the duty of these opponents to retreat the required distance as quickly as possible without being directed by the referee to do so. It is also the right of the team which has been given the free kick to start play quickly even if one or more opponents have not yet moved back the required distance, provided the other requirements of Law 13 have been met.

The referee should move quickly out of the way after indicating the approximate area of the restart and should do nothing to interfere with the kicking team's right to an immediate free kick. At competitive levels of play, referees should not automatically "manage the wall," but should allow the ball to be put back into play as quickly as possible, unless the kicking team requests help in dealing with opponents infringing on the minimum distance.

However, it also mentions in 13.3:
If the referee decides to delay the restart and to enforce the required minimum distance, the referee must quickly and emphatically indicate to the attackers that they may not restart play until given a clear signal to do so.

If the referee in your case interfered with the defending team's sole right in a free kick, not to be confused by the referee, then the goal does not count and the kick must be retaken.

We feel that the referee's action did NOT constitute turning the free kick into a ceremony. His fussbudgety verbalizations were poor mechanics. Our advice: Do one thing (make it a ceremony and quickly declare that the kick may not be taken without a whistle) or the other (shut up), but not both.


I had this in a game I did the other night. The keeper stops a shot and gets ready to release it but I told her to hold on for one second because a player on the other team seemed to be injured. The player said she was fine so I told the goalie to play on without blowing my whistle. The goalie ran to the line and carried the ball past the penalty area before she released the ball. I then blew my whistle for the first time and awarded the other team an Indirect Free Kick for improper clearing of the ball by the keeper. I was in a two-man system and the other official (who is my father) felt the call should have been a hand ball and a direct free kick to restart. We settled on my interpretation of the rules and the kick taken was an IFK. The kick actually went off the goalie's fingertips and went in the goal. Since it went off the goalie's fingers the indirect free kick was satisfied, so I got lucky with the call since both direct and indirect kicks were satisfied. However, what would the correct call be so I can make the right call next time? Thanks

Answer (October 22, 2008):
Our opinion is that your father was technically correct: The restart, if you stopped the game for this extremely trifling infringement, should have been a direct free kick. (There is, by the way, no such infringement as "improperly clearing the ball.") You can already see where this answer is going. You interfered with the goalkeeper's release of the ball and then, when she committed a TRIFLING infringement of the Law, you punished her and even allowed a goal to be scored against her team.

Lesson to be learned from this: If you cannot tell immediately that a player is truly injured, there is no need to delay play. Instead, you should let the goalkeeper clear the ball from the penalty area and only then stop play, if you must, to check the possibly injured player. If you do otherwise, you have then already determined that the player is injured and should stop play immediately. And that means that the restart will be inside the penalty area through no fault of the defending team. It's a matter of good management and common sense for referees to try not to disadvantage unfairly the team that has not committed any infringement.

Then, of course, there is always the fact that you were officiating in a two-referee game, something to be avoided by referees registered with the U. S. Soccer Federation, as the dual system of control is not in accordance with the Laws of the Game or the policies of the Federation.


Two questions, with no information to suggest that the two situations actually involve the same people.
1. A coach asks:
If a coach is suspended from a game by the referee and the league rules that he automatically becomes ineligible for the following two games. Should he be allowed to coach his other team within that same league during that suspension if he is one of those of us who coach two teams at a time?

2. A club officer asks:
Last week in a recreational league, two coaches on opposing teams were ejected by the referee for profanity and bad sportsmanship. Both coaches tendered their resignation as it was suggested that with only two games left in the season and a two game suspension for the infraction it didn't make sense not to. One coach rescinded his resignation the night before the next game and went on to coach a team in the same league that he was not the head coach of prior to this incident. Can an red carded coach continue to coach other teams in the same league with the same refs working the games?

Answer (October 23, 2008):
Your questions revolve about the same issue -- namely, what is the "reach" of the automatic one game mandatory suspension (and, perhaps as a supplement, of any lengthier suspension)? Does it apply only to the next game involving the same team? Does it apply to the next game under the same authority, whether or not it is the same team? Does it apply to the next game regardless of team or authority?

First off, the referee does not suspend coaches or other participants. The referee has the power to send off players, substitutes, and substituted players and to expel team officials who do not behave responsibly. Only the competition authority (club, league, state association, etc.) has the power to suspend anyone beyond the one game suspension prescribed in the Laws of the Game.

It is normal that a player (or substitute or substituted player) is suspended from the next game under the aegis of the competition authority, but that may be extended by the authority in accordance with its regulations. The same applies to a coach or other team official. It is also normal that these persons do not participate in other events sponsored by the same authority until their suspension in the first instance has run its course.

There will be no guidance from FIFA (the world governing body) since, in their context, the question wouldn't even arise. A player is on one team and only one team, and a coach is with one team and only one team. Whether we are speaking of a player or a team official, the reach of the minimum one game suspension is limited to the next game under the same authority which authorized the game in which the red card was given. Any lengthier suspension would apply to whatever the governing body desired as long as it was within their scope.

What your questions concern is preventing a dismissed coach from being at his next scheduled match controlled by the same competition authority, even if it involves a different team. In practical local terms, that means that a coach who has a boys team and a girls team who is dismissed from one of his girls' games would have to be absent from his next girls' game but not his next boys' game. However, the governing authority over both of these organizations could, in theory, decide otherwise. In the end, the resolution of this matter is up to the competition authority.


The rules clearly prohibit trickery in passing the ball back to your own goalie, but is any other trickery either a foul or misconduct (in a league where cards may be shown to a coach for misconduct). My reading of the rules says it is not a foul per se, but could it be considered unsporting behavior?

Here is my situation. I call for a corner kick. Player A1 goes over to the ball and his coach calls out to him to let Player A2 take the kick; player A1 then taps the ball in the direction of Player A2, and leaves the area. Player A2 comes over and plays the ball rather than resets up the corner, dribbling directly to the goal. I felt the coach's call to his players led everyone, including the referee to believe that A1 was not playing or passing the ball but just sending it over to his teammate to have him take the corner kick. Could this be considered unsporting behavior by the coach in a league where coaches can be carded; in a league where they cannot be carded? Or is this just a stupid question?

Answer (October 21, 2008):
Your use of the term "trickery" is incorrect. "Trickery" is a "term of art" which has a specific meaning related to attempts to circumvent the restriction on 'keeper handling following a teammate's deliberate play of the ball with the foot or a throw-in by a teammate. Nothing else can be described as trickery. Whatever else a player might do to obfuscate, disorient, or fool opponents has to be analyzed apart from the issue of trickery.

The players on the kicking team are allowed to deceive, fool, or disorient their opponents, but that does not include the kicking team's coach. If it is clear to the referee that the coach's words were intended to help his team deceive the opposing team, then that could be considered to be irresponsible behavior.

While the league's rules may allow carding of coaches, we need to remember that the Laws of the Game do not. By accepting a game in a competition whose rules mandate unauthorized actions, the referee also assumes the responsibility for enforcing those mandates.

Under the Laws of the Game team officials may only be expelled, not sent off and shown a card, for irresponsible behavior. If the rules of the competition allow a caution or a send-off for irresponsible behavior, they should also outline what constitutes each offense, so that the referee is able to do the job correctly.

What we can say is that coaches are allowed to give positive input to their players. Coaches ARE NOT ALLOWED to participate in any trickery or ruses. If they do so, that is irresponsible behavior, not unsporting behavior, and coaches or other team officials MUST be expelled for irresponsible behavior.


Just when I thought I had this figured out.

In the Referee Week in Review Week 22 (, an example is shown where a player in an offside position changes direction to begin moving toward a passed ball and then takes four or five steps toward the ball before finally "breaking away" from it. He is easily within playing distance when he finally breaks away (Video Clip 6).

My confusion comes from the accompanying analysis. First we are to consider whether the player in an offside position interfered with play: Later the analysis states: The first part of the analysis is adamant (note the CAPS) in their interpretation that the player does not play the ball and reinforces that opinion by later stating that AR's are not permitted to consider "the movement of the offside player toward the ball.". This seems to contradict ATR 11.5 (unless it has changed in the new version).

There seems to be very little doubt that the player was making "an active play for the ball" for at least two or three seconds (four or five steps). And so although exercising patience in this scenario might have been fine, I certainly don't see how the AR could have been second guessed in his interpretation.

The "wait and see" principal is fine in situations with this outcome, but when the ball is already in the net before the AR raises his flag (which it would have been if the first player had successfully taken the shot), the "temperature" of the game would have been dramatically increased.

I happen to believe the AR was justified and the analysis flawed, but I would like your opinion.

Answer (October 21, 2008):
No, there has been no change in Advice 11.5 for 2008. There is a small difference between the guidance given in the Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials and how the specific situation in the video was explained in the Week in Review.

The guidance given in the WIR pertained, as noted in the previous paragraph, to a particular situation, not to all cases involving interfering with play. The only point in Advice 11.5 missing in the WIR analysis was one other possible element of interfering with play that did not occur in this event and was therefore not included: A player may be called offside for interfering with play if that player has run from an offside position and will clearly arrive at the ball before any teammate can arrive from an onside position.


I recently participated in a team of referees during a local town tournament. This is my first year as a referee and have learned that every game and every coach is different. My question follows on the heals of the "Abusive Coaches" question.

Q: As an AR, what authority do I have if during a game I am hearing abusive comments from the coaches (who are standing behind me at their bench) but are not amplified so the CR can hear them. If the AR can hear them, so can the substitute players sitting on the bench. The commits I was hearing were not PG appropriate.

Answer (October 20, 2008):
Included in any pregame (particularly if the team includes inexperienced and/or young assistant referees) should be some guidelines on the extent to which the AR is expected to deal with sideline behavior on their own, when to bring the referee into it, and how this is accomplished.

Without making an elaborate show of it, find a way to bring the referee nearer to you and give him or her a brief and precise summary of what has been going on and ask him/her to act on it. If the referee refuses to act, prepare a match report with your input on it for the benefit of both the competition authority and the state referee authorities.


Recognizing your answer on this question from the archives (Oct. 12, 2007), I have always considered the goalkeeper perhaps carrying the ball a tad too long in his hands before punting as committing a doubtful or trifling offense (after all, what difference is 1 foot or so on a kick of perhaps 40 yards?).

Nonetheless, I had a zealous AR raise a flag for just such an offense, a flag that I did not see for several seconds as the ball was in dynamic play at the other end of the field when it came down. Flummoxed at seeing the flag, I blew the whistle and the AR proceeded to shout for all the world to hear, "The goalie crossed the line before punting." I admit to being perturbed not just at the calling of the offense but at the flagrant disregard for procedure in the shout as it gave me little choice in addressing the matter.

I proceeded to tell this story with my crew at my next match and carefully included mention in the pre-game conference that I considered any offense well behind the course of play to be trifling unless it rose to the level of misconduct. Amazingly, an AR made the same call in that game even after the pre-game conference, and he also shouted out, "It was a whole yard."

My question therefore is two-fold --
1. Am I indeed correct that this offense can be doubtful and/or trifling, even at "a whole yard," when absolutely nobody on the field except the AR even notices?
2. If I am correct, do you have any advice for how the wise referee can recover some sense of credibility with the players after such a call is made? Having been burned twice, I want to be really ready next time.

Answer (October 20, 2008):
Answer 1: While recognizing that the offense by the goalkeeper of crossing the penalty area line with the ball still in hand is never doubtful, but often trifling, we must also recognize that it is certainly an infringement of the Law and must always be treated as such. The referee will usually allow the first such act to go unpunished, but must then clearly warn the goalkeeper to observe and honor the line and the Law. If it occurs again, the referee should call the foul and no later than the third offense caution the goalkeeper for persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game.

Answer 2: Sage advice for the intelligent referee is hard to give when assistant referees fail to follow instructions from the referee in the pregame conference. As long as play is stopped anyway, acknowledge the AR's flag and go over to speak with him or her. Reinforce the instruction not to interfere in the flow of the game with trifling matters -- but remember the sage advice given in Answer 1 -- and remind the goalkeeper to stay within the confines of the penalty area when he or she has the ball in hand. Then restart the game properly and add the time lost in this exchange to the time of the half.

Another course of action might be for the referee to confer with the AR (making sure the conversation was private), direct the AR to nod his or her head in apparent agreement, walk back toward the ball (making a swing past the GK for a private discussion of no more than a sentence or two), and then restart with a dropped ball. In short, although the AR has obviously created a problem -- both the the signal and then with his horrendous mechanics -- the situation is still not without options.

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 Paul Tamberino, Director of Referee Development; David McKee, National Director of Assessment (assessment matters); and Ulrich Strom, National Instructor and National Assessor (matters in general).

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