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October 2006 Archive (I of II)


MEDICALERT BRACELETS AND NECKLACES

Question:
What is the "official" policy on medi-alert bracelets and knecklaces? Further, what is the policy on the rubber message bracelets (i.e. Livestrong, Breast Cancer, MIA, etc.)?

Answer (September 29, 2006):
These answers from the past should cover your questions:
1. September 29, 2005, with reference to medicalert and other sorts of bracelets
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 are 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)."

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?

2. November 19, 2004, with reference to any "message" bracelets. No jewelry, no adornments. These bands are loose and could be very dangerous.

 


GOALKEEPER HANDLING AND PENALTY AREA LINES

Question:
You may have answered this one already but I'm not totally sure.

I'd like to distill this question down to its simplest form, without reading a whole let extra into it. It's been the source of a long debate in some different discussion forums, and we have at least one official who is holding fast to his personal interpretation in the face of an overwhelming number of officials who think differently.

In looking at ATR 12.20 as it is worded in the August, 2006 edition, a debate has arisen over this issue.

I contend, along with a large number of my colleagues, that if a ball is deliberately passed back to a teammates goalkeeper he/she may not pick it up with their hands. This applies whether the ball is passed back to the keeper while he/she is already in the penalty area, or if the keeper receives the deliberate pass back outside the penalty area and then proceeds to dribble the ball back into the penalty area and pick it up once it is in the PA. In either case, I believe that the ATR is telling us that "by the book" this infraction should be treated as a technical foul for which the attacking team would be awarded an indirect free kick at the spot where the keeper picked up the ball (subject, of course, to the rules regarding restarts for IFK infractions that occur inside the goal area).

Others say that it has to be passed back to where the keeper can play it with their hands in order to result in the IFK, so receiving a pass back from a teammate outside the PA and dribbling it back into the penalty area to pick it us is not a technical foul. Unfortunately, the way that ATR 12.20 is written, a case could be made for either conclusion.

Can you set the record straight on this one?

Answer (September 29, 2006):
There are always soccer lawyers who will try to twist the written word to fit the meaning they want.

Advice 12.20 says:
QUOTE
12.20 BALL KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER
A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he or she touches the ball with the hands directly after it has been deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate. The requirement that the ball be kicked means only that it has been played with the foot. The requirement that the ball be "kicked to" the goalkeeper means only that the play is to or toward a place where the keeper can legally handle the ball. The requirement that the ball be "deliberately kicked" means that the play on the ball is deliberate and does not include situations in which the ball has been, in the opinion of the referee, accidentally deflected or misdirected. The goalkeeper has infringed the Law by handling the ball after initially playing the ball in some other way (e.g., with the feet). This offense, like any other, may be ignored for the moment if it is trifling or doubtful (see Advice 5.6).

NOTE: (a) The goalkeeper is permitted to dribble into the penalty area and then pick up any ball played legally (not kicked deliberately to the goalkeeper or to a place where the goalkeeper can easily play it) by a teammate or played in any manner by an opponent. (b) This portion of the Law was written to help referees cope with timewasting tactics by teams, not to punish players who are playing within the Spirit of the Game.
END OF QUOTE

A place where the goalkeeper may "play" the ball does not mean where the goalkeeper may play it with the hands. It should be clear from 12.20 that the goalkeeper is not permitted to dribble into the penalty area a ball deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate and then pick it up. That is not permitted under any circumstances. Of course, the goalkeeper may dribble ("play") any ball played toward him or her with the feet. The infringement does not occur until the 'keeper plays the ball with the hands.

Tell your dissenting colleagues to get a life.

 


ENSURE SAFETY, BUT DO NOT DICTATE WHO CAN OR CANNOT PLAY [REVISED]

Question:
Player A collides with Player B, and in the process Player A is inadvertently hit in the head by Player B. Player A falls to the ground but never loses consciousness. Play is stopped and the trainer is called. Player A is taken off the field. The referee then informs the coach for Player A that she cannot re-enter the game at all based on their assessment of her health, even though a certified trainer for the school says that she is clear to play (without symptoms). Is this allowed? According to what I’ve read about Rule 5, the referee is not liable for any injury suffered by a player, spectator or official during the course of the game, but is obvsiouly looking out for the health of any player.

Answer (September 27, 2006):
[NOTE: This answer is a revision of an answer dated September 19, 2006]
In reading this answer, please remember that the U. S. Soccer Federation has no authority over games not played under its aegis, nor over the referees who officiate them.

Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has no direct authority to prevent a player from participating for unspecified reasons. While the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players, it does not give the referee the right to prevent the further participation of a player who has been treated for injury and cleared to play by a trainer or medical doctor. The only possible reason would be that player was still bleeding or had blood on his or her uniform.

If there is a trainer and/or medically trained person officially affiliated with the team or the competition authority (including, where relevant, the tournament), the referee should defer to that person's decision as to whether a player's return to the field following a serious injury would be safe. In the absence of such a person, the referee retains the authority under the Law to determine if a player is still seriously injured and, if necessary, to stop play and to require that player to again leave the field. The Law does not allow the referee to prevent the return of the player to the field, but once play resumes with that player on the field, the referee reverts to his or her original duty to stop play if, in the referee's opinion, the player is seriously injured. As always, the referee must use common sense in making such a potentially controversial decision and must include full details in the match report.

Caveat: The referee should exercise intelligence and common sense when dealing with someone who claims medical expertise but who does not meet the requirement of being officially approved (for example, comes down from the stands or from among the spectators).

 


SUBSTITUTES AND GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITIES

[Note: This Q&A corrects an answer previously sent on September 25, 2006.]
Question:

Your question: A substitute for the defending team enters the field and handles the ball just as it is struck by an opposing player. What does the referee do if, in his or her opinion, the ball would have gone into the goal if it had not been handled by the substitute?

Answer (October 5, 2006):
The answer to your question will be found in the IFAB's Questions and Answers to the Laws of the Game 2006, Law 13, Q&A 13.1. Note that the word "player" in this case refers to a substitute who has entered illegally:
QUOTE
13.1. If the player prevents the goal with his hand, what action does the referee take? The referee stops play and sends off the substitute for denying the opposing team a goal by deliberately handling the ball and the match is restarted with an indirect free kick to the opposing team where the ball was when play was stopped *.
END OF QUOTE

This situation illustrates the need for referees and assistant referees and fourth officials of youth and adult games to maintain very close vigilance over where substitutes are. They must be restricted to the team area and not allowed to warm up anywhere but behind their teams.

 


OFFSIDE--OR NOT?

Question:
Two blue attacking players are standing in an offside position. A blue teammate passes a ball over the second to last red defender towards the goal. The two blue players run in the direction of the ball. A fourth blue player, who was onside at the moment the ball was passed, runs past the two teammates, plays the ball, and fires it into the goal. As the assistant referee, at what point do you signal offside?
A. When the ball was kicked over the second to last red defender
B. When the ball was touched by the fourth blue attacker
C. When you saw the two blue players running in the direction of the ball
D. There is no offside infringement

Answer (September 25, 2006):
This quote from an August 2006 USSF memorandum should be helpful:
QUOTE
The proper interpretation and application of Law 11 have been evolving in recent years. To this end, the International Board has provided detailed definitions of the ways in which a player may become involved in active play (Law 11, International Board Decision 2). On August 17, 2005, a Circular from the FIFA further clarified some of the confusion regarding whether "touching the ball" was a requirement for "interfering with play" (emphasis added):
- A player in an offside position may be penalized before playing or touching the ball if, in the opinion of the referee, no other teammate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball.
- If an opponent becomes involved in the play and if, in the opinion of the referee, there is potential for physical contact, the player in the offside position shall be penalized for interfering with an opponent.
END OF QUOTE

If the player who had been in the onside position when the ball was played gets there first, then there is no offside.

 


PLACEMENT OF THE BALL ON CORNER KICKS

Question:
[Note: This question has been abridged to be more readily understandable.]
The Law states the ball has to be within the corner arc, this is ambiguous. What does this mean?

Does it mean that a portion of the ball can be outside the corner arc as long as the circumference of the ball is over the top of the line or touching the plane of the line? Is this still considered to be inside the corner arc, even though the ball is not in physical contact with the line? Or does it mean that the ball has be physically touching a blade of white grass to be considered in the corner arc?

I have read the LAWs of the GAME and advice to the referees 2005 and 2006 several times and discussed it with highly experienced refs and it is not clear, at least not to me.

I have looked at the illustrations in the FIFA LAWS and the ADVICE booklets. The illustrations for corner arc appear to match the illustrations for ball out of play (touchline and goal line), goal area for goal kicks and illustration for a goal scored and the foot over the WHOLE line for illegal throw in. Each of these illustrations and all the situations I know of in soccer always consider the WHOLE ball and the WHOLE LINE.

If the corner arc is different, please explain why this different ruling is logical or makes sense in the game?

If I said a corner kick must be inside the corner arc area would I be correct? If so does that mean it has to touch the line of the corner arc or the touchline or goal line or just the corner arc?

Answer (September 20, 2006):
Short answer: At a corner kick the ball must be inside the arc, which means it may not rest outside the arc and thus simply break the plane of the line(s).

Long answer: Putting the ball into play from a corner kick is quite different from judging the ball to be either in or out of play over a boundary line. These are two different concepts and are covered in several different Laws. There is absolutely no ambiguity in Law 17.

Law 9 tells us that the ball is out of play when it has wholly crossed the goal line or touch line whether on the ground or in the air or when play has been stopped by the referee, and that the ball is in play at all other times. That obviously has nothing to do with restarts.

Law 17 requires the ball to be "placed inside the corner arc." If it is on the ground outside the arc, it is not inside the arc, no matter that it may break the plane of that arc.

The requirement is not quite the same for goal kicks, at which the ball may simply break the plane of the line to be ready to put into play. Why? Because Law 16 requires only that the ball be kicked from any point within the goal area. Law 15 does not deal with the line and when the ball is in play with regard to the line, as the ball may still be in the hands of the thrower as it crosses the line and enters the field before it has been released into play.

As to enforcing the placement, although we have now made clear what the Law technically says about ball placement on a corner kick, the practical referee question must always be, "so what?" Consider an incorrect placement of the ball as a trifling offense unless it REALLY made a difference.

 


PUTTING THE BALL INTO PLAY AT A FREE KICK

Question:
This has been discussed on SOCREF-L twice in the last few weeks. I was quite surprised when several of the experienced referees stated that they would retake the kick if the ball was not properly put in play. I have always thought that if player #1 takes some action with the ball that does not put it in play, then player #2 puts the ball in play when he kicks it directly into the goal. It never occurred to me that player #2 was not allowed to put the ball in play in this situation. If the original restart was an IFK, I would award a goal kick to the defending team. Since others seemed to disagree, I wondered if I was missing something in my reasoning.

Answer (September 20, 2006):
If, at an indirect free kick, one player simply touches the ball without moving it and the second player then kicks it straight into the goal, the correct restart is a goal kick. However, if the ball touched any other player on the way into the goal, the goal would be scored.

 


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION AND CHALLENGES

Question:
Please clarify when fouls should be called, or not, when the goalie is scrambling for the ball and attacker(s) are trying to kick it into the goal. e.g. sliding into the goalie when trying to get the goal, etc.

Answer (September 20, 2006):
If an opponent is challenging the goalkeeper for a ball on the ground, both are allowed to play it fairly. If the goalkeeper has the ball under control, meaning that it is within his or her grasp (which can be nothing more than a finger pinning the ball to the ground or to the body), then the opponent must stop the challenge. Accidents may happen, but they will still be called as a foul against the opponent. If the goalkeeper does not have the ball under control, then the opponent may continue to try to win the ball fairly. In addition, the referee must take full consideration of the age and skill levels of the players.

 


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.

Submit your questions via e-mail to askareferee@ussoccer.org.

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