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Ask a Referee Update: Feb. 2, 2011


In a match this past weekend, our team committed a foul resulting in a direct free for the opposing team (about 30 yards from goal). The winds were roughly 20-30 miles per hour that day. In this case, the wind was at the kicker's back. Our boys set up a wall and the opposing player kicked the ball harmlessly over the crossbar. The referee blew his whistle and showed the kicker a yellow (I'm presuming for kicking when directed to wait, but that was not clarified). The referee had him kick it again. It did not score, but was a much more exciting and potentially costly attempt. My question is even though he was cautioned, should he be given another attempt or should we have been given a goal kick? If it is a "do over", it may be a strategy to teach since it is only a yellow and the player reaps the benefit of judging the weight and reaction of the ball in the types of winds we were experiencing. Thanks for your advice!

Answer (January 1, 2011):
Coach, you don't give us enough information to give a quick answer, leaving us to go three ways, although it appears alternative 1 was operative in this situation.
1. If the referee had told the kicking team to wait for his whistle (generally done by holding the whistle up and pointing to it) before taking the kick, then his action in cautioning the kicker and ordering a retake was correct.
2. If the referee had not instructed the kicking team to wait for the whistle, then the caution and the retake were not in order.
3. If the caution was for something NOT directly related to the taking of the kick, then alternative 2 may be misleading. It is also possible that the caution might have been for something else entirely unrelated (e. g., maybe the kicker committed dissent or used unsporting language -- short of a red card), though we cannot imagine what it could be along these lines that it would have made it necessary to order the kick retaken. (For example, if the kicker had dissented, the referee could have given the card at the next stoppage.)

If you start coaching this, most referees will figure it out and simply go with the first kick (provided it misses the goal).


This is a question on a futsal game. If a coach ask for a time out does the timekeeper stop the clock?

Answer (February 1, 2011):
Yes, but not right away. In futsal, only one time-out is lowed to each team in each half of play. The time-out may be requested at any time, but is only given when the ball is out of play and the team that is requesting the time-out has possession on the restart. Only when the referee acknowledges and signals that a time-out has been granted to a team does the timekeeper actually stop the game clock. Once the one-minute time-out is over, the referees signals that the time-out is over and the players on both teams should return to the pitch. The clock then only restarts again after the referee signals the restart AND when the ball is correctly put back into play by the team that requested the time-out.


If a player puts the ball down for a goal kick and then moves it to the other side of the goal area is it a IDFK or just a warning and a possible caution for delay of the game?

Answer (January 26, 2011):
Unfortunately, we cannot lay our hands on a particular document, but the general rule is that If, upon being awarded a goal kick, the defending team blatantly wastes time by placing the ball within the goal area for the restart and then subsequently moves it unnecessarily to another location within the goal area, this act can be deemed as timewasting.

The option of placing the ball anywhere in the goal area was intended to speed up play. Given that guideline and goal, the only factor then is to avoid undue delay or timewasting. If moving the ball after being placed is not permitted, what should the referee do?

As with most questions of this nature, the only correct answer involves how the referee interprets the action and how he or she uses common sense and. If there were a real, worldwide problem in this area, the IFAB would include the answer as a Decision under Law 16. Here is a clear and simple rule: Moving the ball around like that is wasting time, pure and simple. Unless the movement is blatantly outrageous and used in the closing seconds of a tight game by the goalkeeper or other player of the team in the lead, the referee should warn first and, on repetition, caution the guilty player.


A Match is a few mins into the second half when you realize that the teams did not change ends at half time.

I know that you would have to restart the second half again and nullify EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING which happened in the time which was played.

This raises a further question: What would happen if you sent somebody off in this now nullified time?

I say you would have to allow them back on.

Answer (January 26, 2011):
Without having full details of what occurred in the match, and knowing full well that there is nothing in the Laws of the Game to cover this situation, our opinion (and it is no more than an opinion) would be to stop play as quickly as possible, have the teams switch ends of the field, and restart with a dropped ball where the ball was (but with this location determined by the reversed polarity of the field -- i. e., if 3 yards past the midfield line into the Blue end of the field, drop the ball 3 yards past the midfield line into the NEW Blue end of the field). Allow all earlier actions to stand, regardless of what they were, and then provide full details and a "ea maxima culpa" in the match report. There is no basis in the Laws to restart the half anew; doing so would imply that the actions occurring since the original start of the second half did not occur and the culprit would thus escape without punishment


I was refereeing a game when a player strayed offside, AR had the flag up, the ball went into the hands of the keeper, i yelled "come on guys", i waved for the AR to take his flag down, goalkeeper rolls the ball about 2 feet away from himself and walks back do make a run-up, when the opposing team's attacker comes and kicks the ball into the goal. I allow the goal, but the AR stays where he is. The defending team's players ran towards me yelling, and after conferring with my AR i allow the goal. Was this correct by me?

Answer (January 19, 2011):
By the time the matter of offside came up (as a protest by the likely offending team), you had already decided that the goalkeeper had established possession. When the goalkeeper put the ball down, all bets were off. The Laws of the Game were not written to compensate for the mistakes of players. Life is hard, score the goal.


What is the difference between denying a goal and denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity in the deliberate handling sending off offence.

Where a player including the goalkeeper deliberately handles the ball which denies an obvious goal scoring opportunity outside the penalty area is that player sent off for DOGSO H or for DOGSO F.

The reason I ask is that the USSF opinion is that the 4Ds does not apply to DOGSO H and the ball must be destined for the goal for DOGSO H to apply suggests to some that deliberate handling is not a sending off offence unless it stops a ball entering the goal, which is plainly not the case. Perhaps that might be explained more clearly.

Answer (January 19, 2011):
First, a clear policy statement: The U. S. Soccer Federation cannot and does not presume to speak for other national associations when providing guidelines on how various statements in the Laws are to be interpreted and implemented. That said, the Federation does follow to the letter what the Laws say regarding matters bearing on obvious goalscoring opportunities (OGSO) and also follows the guidance provided by the IFAB and FIFA on that topic.

Just to keep it straight, here is what Law 12 says about the OGSO offenses:
Sending-off offenses
A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits any of the following seven offenses:
* denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
* denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player's goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick

Second, a cautionary note regarding acronyms, which are mere conveniences and not always entirely descriptive of what is being discussed. The acronyms DOGSO-F and DOGSO-H are used primarily as shorthand when filling out the referee's match report. DOGSO-H means just that, "denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)." However, DOGSO-F is somewhat more complicated, as it includes not merely denying an OGSO by a foul, but also by ANY OFFENSE PUNISHABLE BY A FREE KICK OR A PENALTY KICK. That includes misconduct.

The reason the Federation says (and has always said, from the very first introduction of the OGSO concept when the two new reasons for a send-off were created by the International Board) that the "4 Ds" do not apply to send-off offense #5 (DG-H) is because (a) USSF created the 4 Ds specifically for DG-F, (b) the requirement that all four Ds had to be present before a red card for DG-F could be given simply cannot be applied to a handling offense, and (c) the "D" represented by "Distance to ball" was completely inapplicable.

In attempting to decide if it were highly probable that a ball would have gone into the net if the handling had not interfered with the movement of the ball, the referee must juggle, weigh, and balance a number of factors, including SOME of the Ds, but not in so absolute a way as they are used in evaluating a DG-F situation. For example, one D involves the number of defenders and, for a DG-F situation, the Federation has said that this D cannot be rated as a "yes" if there is more than one defender between the foul and the goal (not counting the defender who committed the offense). In a DG-H situation, it is not so ironclad. In a DG-F situation, the D involving direction of play is only one of four factors but, in a DG-H situation, the direction, force, and speed of the ball are arguably the most important of the factors to be considered. For example, a ball played forward by several yards might lead to a decision that the D for direction of play (and distance to the ball) is present, but this would not be the case in a handling situation where, if, in the opinion of the referee, the handled ball either was already or would have stopped far short of the goal, a DG-H red card cannot be given.

We are concerned about how you arrived at your statement "that deliberate handling is not a sending off offence unless it stops a ball entering the goal, which is plainly not the case." We would argue that it is in fact plainly the case. Handling the ball is not a direct sending-off offense unless, in the opinion of the referee, but for the handling the ball would have gone into the net. This is clearly a judgment, but it is a judgment grounded on analyzing a number of variables -- which happen to include such matters as how close to the goal the handling occurred, how many defenders there were between the site of the handling and the goal, and the direction/speed/force the ball was taking at the time the handling occurred. The fact that these variables resemble three of the four "Ds" involved in DG-F (denying an OGSO by foul/misconduct) is not accidental. The judgment to be reached here does not have to be one of "certainty" but, rather, one of "high probability" based on the referee's experience and reading of the variables.

It doesn't get any clearer than that.


A DOGSO question that has been subject to some vigorous debate: "[O]ffence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick" in the context of DOGSO-F clearly includes both IFK and DFK offences listed in Law 12 (except for the goalkeeper IFK handling offences).

Does it also include "infringements" of Laws other than Law 12? For example, if a defender takes a free kick outside of the penalty area passes the ball back to where he thinks his goalkeeper is, but the goalkeeper is not there and the ball is rolling towards an empty net;

The defender realizes an attacker is charging towards the ball; just before the attacker reaches the ball to shoot it into the empty net, the defender taps the ball away with his foot. The second touch by the defender is an infringement of Law 13 resulting in an indirect free kick -- can it also be DOGSO?

Answer (January 19, 2011):
Law 12 is clear on the matter. A player, [etc.], is sent off if he commits any of the following seven offenses:
* denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player's goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick
//rest clipped//

And Law 13 tells us:
Free kick taken by a player other than the goalkeeper
If, after the ball is in play, the kicker touches the ball again (except with his hands) before it has touched another player:
* an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team, the kick to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred (see Law 13 - Position of Free Kick)

In the scenario you present, an offense punishable by a free kick, which may or may not have denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity (OGSO), has been committed by the defender. To be certain that the offense has denied the OGSO, the referee must apply the 4 Ds, as spelled out in the "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game":
Denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick In order for a player or substitute to be sent off for denying an "obvious goalscoring opportunity by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick" (number 5 under the seven send-off offenses), four elements must be present:
* Number of Defenders-not more than one defender between the foul and the goal, not counting the defender who committed the foul
* Distance to goal-the closer the foul is to the goal, the more likely it is an obvious goalscoring opportunity
* Distance to ball-the attacker must have been close enough to the ball at the time of the foul to continue playing the ball
* Direction of play-the attacker must have been moving toward the goal at the time the foul was committed
If any element is missing, there can be no send off for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity. Further, the presence of each of these elements must be "obvious" in order for the send-off to be appropriate under this provision of Law 12

Just to make it absolutely clear, and to put an end to any further debate: If, in the opinion of the referee, all four of the "Ds" are present, then an obvious goalscoring opportunity has been interfered with and the defender who has committed a second-touch violation should be sent off for DG-F. The real question is, why would he NOT be sent off? What he did was an offense, punishable by a free-kick restart, and all four Ds were determined to be present by the referee. All free kicks are created equal as far as DG-F is concerned.


The ball kicked by the attacking team over the defending team goal line for a goal kick the referee thought went of the defending team and award CK for the attacking team and they score of the CK than the referee saw the AR standing behind the Corner flag went to talk to him the AR advice the referee he gave the wrong restart, at this point can the referee disallowed the goal and award GK to the defending team.

Answer (January 18, 2011):
Rather than answering your question directly, let us consider some alternatives.

Ordinarily, the referee can correct a mistake in giving the restart to the wrong team (as, for example, might be the case if the referee announced a free kick for the Blue team but then realized, just as the Blue team is kicking the ball, that the free kick should really have been given to the Red team). The argument in favor of this correction even though someone had already taken the kick is that (a) the language in Law 5 that a decision cannot be changed once play has been restarted was historically intended to apply specifically to goals and cards becoming official and unchangeable, (b) the restart was actually illegal because (although the referee announced "Blue") the referee's intention was that Red be given the restart and it is the referee's intention that counts, and (c) making the correction is clearly fair.

However, in this regard there are several additional factors that must be considered.

One is that considerably more time passed before the mistake was realized.

If the referee in this case had seen the AR's signal and realized his error just before or as the corner kick was being taken and had whistled a stoppage, the decision to correct the corner kick to a goal kick would have been much easier to "sell" (it would not have mattered whether the ball went into the net or not). Furthermore, in this case (as described), it was not the referee who initially realized his mistake in awarding the wrong restart, it was the AR and it took a discussion between the referee and the AR to sort the matter out.

In order to "sell" a decision to recall, cancel, and retake a restart because the referee made a mistake in giving it to the wrong team, the action must have been taken quickly and it must have been on the referee's own initiative. With so much time having elapsed and with the resolution having required consultations with one or both ARs (or fourth official), the correction to a goal kick might in fact raise more of a controversy than simply letting the corner kick stand. You would have to "take the temperature" of the match in order to decide to make the correction. The apparent scoring of a goal on that apparently incorrect corner kick adds complexity to the issue -- allowing the corner kick to stand means necessarily allowing the goal to stand and that might be too significant a punishment for a team to suffer for the referee's error.

All of this, of course, would have been avoided if the referee had been vigilant in maintaining eye contact with the AR in the first place. The error would have been corrected before the incorrect restart had even occurred or, at worst, the intention to correct would have been announced before the ball went into the net.


What is the AR-Referee procedure?

AR observes an attacker impedes the progress of the the goalkeeper. This prevents the goalkeeper from moving into position to stop the ball from entering the goal. What is the AR's procedure in this situation to communicate to the Referee that the goal should not be allowed.

2nd part. What is the AR procedure if it is the goal scorer who commits a foul (like intentionally handling the ball into the goal)?

Answer (January 18, 2011):
First, before considering signaling for any possible offense, the AR should be certain that the referee could not see the action in question. If that is not a factor, then the AR should follow the instructions regarding a goal to be disallowed, as given on p. 27 of the USSF publication "Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials" for specific situations, including the situations you asked about:
- If the scorer was offside at the moment the ball was passed to him or her, signals offside
- If there was a foul by an attacker, stands at attention with the flag held straight down at the side
- If a player other than the scorer was in an offside position and, in the opinion of the assistant referee, was interfering with play or with an opponent, stands at attention with the flag held straight down at the side
- Assumes the proper position for the restart indicated by the referee
* Is prepared to signal referee in accordance with pregame discussion if further information needs to be given to assist in making the correct decision

You can download the Guide to Procedures and other publications at this URL:


On a corner kick, may offensive players start from a position inside the goal (beyond the goal line) and then run out (in front of the keeper or to other positions) as the ball is being kicked?

I recently saw this employed, where one offensive player began inside the goal, then ran out in front of the keeper as the ball was being kicked.

Answer (January 13, 2011):
Other than those putting the ball back into play, players are required to remain on the field of play. So no, the tactic you describe is not permitted.

U.S. Soccer thanks Jim Allen (National Instructor Staff and National Assessor ret., assisted by National Instructor Trainer Dan Heldman, for their assistance in providing this service. Direction is provided by Alfred Kleinaitis, Manager of Referee Development and Education, with further assistance from Ryan Money, Manager of Referee Education Resources; David McKee, National Director of Assessment (assessment matters); Jeff Kollmeyer, National Instructor, indoor and Futsal; and Ulrich Strom, retired National Instructor and National Assessor (matters in general).

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