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January 2008 Archive (I of I)


The contract with OSI is through 2010. My understanding was that we were going to switch to the new Addidas FIFA uniforms at that time and Addidas has purchased OSI. What is USSF plans for the new Addidas uniform? Is Addidas going to continue this new design by OSI pass 2010?

Answer (January 18, 2008):
We are not aware any of this. With the exception that MLS's agreement with OSI is over at the end of 2008, it would appear to be all rumors. The agreement between OSI and US Soccer runs for three more years.



My question involves yet another variation of the endless player tactics during a Penalty Kick. My brother brought up a good question I can't seem to answer after checking both the Laws of the Game and Advice to Referees.
The scenario is as follows:
An attacker sets up for a penalty kick facing away from the ball, and uses a heel kick to take the penalty kick. There is no other violation of any sort.
What is the correct decision for this?

Answer (January 7, 2008):
No, this is not permissible. The referee must observe what occurs when the ball is kicked, just as it says in Law 14. if the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken. if the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts the match with an indirect free kick to the defending team, from the place where the infringement occurred. For making a mockery of the game by kicking in this manner and thus bringing the game into disrepute, the player must be cautioned for unsporting behavior.



During the recent recert, there was an exam question asking which card should be issued for the listed circumstances.

A defender impedes the progress of an attacker during an obvious goal scoring opportunity.

Is it a yellow since Law 12 states that the resulting kick was not a DFK or PK? Or is it a red since it was an OGSO?

Question #2: Law 4 states that a player cannot wear "any type of jewelry." When asking the instructor for clarification when the "religious icon" clause was mentioned in class, I was shown the "Advice To Referees" booklet that stated the religious artifacts could indeed be worn. Are necklaces acceptable if they have a Cross/Star of David/etc????????

Answer (December 31, 2007):
It is unclear from your question just what is happening in the situation involving the obvious goalscoring opportunity. If the player who actually has the OGSO is denied that opportunity by a player who commits an indirect free kick infringement, then the correct decision is to send off that player and show the red card. (See Law 12, Sending-Off Offenses, 5: denies 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.) The correct restart for impeding the progress of an opponent is an indirect free kick.

Regarding jewelry the answer is somewhat complicated. We know what the Advice says, but there is more to it than that. On medicalert bracelets, the answer is clear. As long as it is safe for all participants, it may be worn.

As to religious paraphernalia -- no one really wears "artifacts," do they? -- the issue is NOT whether an item of jewelry (or clothing) is "religious" (because there is no useful definition of that term) but whether that item of jewelry that would otherwise be prohibited under the "no jewelry" rule is nevertheless REQUIRED TO BE WORN by a religion. The item must be required by some religious tenet -- the Jewish yarmulke, for example, or a Sikh turban, etc. In short, the actual range of "religious items" is VERY narrow.

So, because there is no way for a referee to know definitively what does or does not come under the that definition, any player who seeks to claim a "religious item" exception must apply to his or her state association, which in turn would decide if such was the case and would provide some letter or other documentation that could be given to the referee. In all events, the referee must still determine if, despite all this, the religious item still could not be worn (at least in its present form) because it was dangerous.



The Technical Area
- Only one person at a time is authorized to convey tactical instructions and he must return to his position after giving these instructions. - The coach and other occupants of the technical area must behave in a responsible manner.

What constitutes tactical instructions and what constitutes responsible behavior?

My concern is a local youth coach who begins to scream at his players when the game begins and does not stop until long after the game is over. With every touch of the ball by his team he gives (screams) instructions to the players off the ball as well as the player with the ball. With every touch of the ball by the other team he is giving (screaming) specific instructions to each player on his team as fast as he can get them out of his mouth. Much of what he says is negative and all mistakes are pointed out and players are taken to task. He is a physically intimidating person who loves to argue about anything and most area referees just stay as far away from him as they can.

We, of course, do not have 4th officials at our youth games. I do believe that if there were clear instructions to head and assistant referees as to responsible behavior in the Technical Area and what constitutes allowable "tactical instructions" that some actions would begin to be taken to stop behavior that I believe is unsporting conduct at the very least.

This person's behavior affects every person on the field, on the benches, in the spectators area, all coaches and not too mention the referees. In my mind it is in the same category as an opponent coming up behind a player receiving the ball and yelling "I got it" at the top of their lungs.

Specific recommendations on those definitions would be positive points of action that we could build on to improve the conduct of our youth games.

Answer (December 31, 2007):
A very interesting question. There is a national trend within the soccer community toward eliminating abuse of young people by any adults. You, as a referee, are certainly empowered to ensure responsible behavior by the team officials. The method chosen would be up to the individual referee.

The Laws of the Game tell us that "[a]ll [team] officials must remain within the confines of the technical area, where such area is provided, and they must behave in a responsible manner." The Laws also tell us about the technical area and its measurements. Without going into precise detail on the matter, we can agree that this suggests that -- no matter how innocent their intentions -- team officials should remain along the touch line and stay out of areas where they could be considered to be interfering with play or not behaving in a responsible manner, even in under-tiny soccer. Spectators may remain behind the goal line, but only if they are far enough away so as not to interfere with the game.

We can add that, under the Law, any POSITIVE coaching is allowed from the technical area, as long as only one person speaks at a time and then returns to his seat on the bench. As a practical matter, particularly at the youth level, any POSITIVE coaching is allowed. In either case, whether at the level of the least experienced players (and coaches) or at the highest levels, any case in which the coach behaves irresponsibly will result in the coach being dismissed. (Two examples from among many: ranting at the referee, overt participation in deception of the opposing team.)

A coach has no "right" to anything in the game of soccer, other than the right to conduct him-/herself responsibly during the game -- from within the technical or bench area -- while offering advice to his/her team's players. A referee who allows coaches or other team officials to parade around the field or shout abuse at players in the guise of instruction, in contravention of the requirements in Law 5 that coaches behave responsibly and that referees not permit anyone other than players to enter the field, should be ashamed.

Coaches are expected to behave responsibly. (See Law 5 and Law 3, IBD 2, the only places in the Laws that team officials are mentioned.) The referee's first line of defense (unless the behavior is REALLY egregious) is to warn the coach who is behaving irresponsibly. This is the equivalent of a caution, but no card is shown. Then, when the behavior persists (as it usually does, because most coaches who behave this way fail to understand that they must change their errant ways), the coach is expelled from the field for failing to behave in a responsible manner. Please note that under the Laws of the Game, no card may be shown; however, showing the card may be a requirement of the rules of the competition.

In all events you should prepare a supplemental game report or letter to the league on the matter. You might also suggest in the report or letter that they send someone to monitor a couple of games. The letter could be written in such a way that says perhaps the coach was having a bad day, but it should suggest that it might be beneficial to the children involved if someone from the league dropped in for a game or two just to make sure.

Coaches or other team officials, one at a time, may provide tactical advice to their players, including positive remarks and encouragement. The referee should only take action against coaches or other team officials for irresponsible behavior or for actions that bring the game into disrepute. A coach or other team official may not be cautioned or sent off nor shown any card; however, at the discretion of the referee, such persons may be warned regarding their behavior or expelled from the field of play and its immediate area. When a coach or other team official is expelled, the referee must include detailed information about such incidents in the match report.

The maximum numbers of substitutes and substitutions are set by the competition authority and with the agreement of the two teams within the requirements of Law 3. Additional people in the technical area, such as team members who are not named as players or substitutes (for the current game) on the roster or parents or other persons involved with the team, are permitted to be seated with the team in the technical area (or other designated team area) only if this is allowed by the competition authority. Such persons will be considered team officials and are therefore held to the same standards of conduct specified in Law 5 as other team officials. Although team officials cannot commit misconduct or be shown a card, they may be ordered from the field for irresponsible behavior. Full details must be included in the match report.

You ask what constitutes responsible behavior. It means that the coach or other team official has not stuck to what their part of the game is, issuing tactical instructions or praise to their players. If they go beyond those bounds, then their behavior is irresponsible. Shouting abuse and heaping derision on players is irresponsible behavior and brings the game into disrepute.

As to what bringing the game into disrepute means in the normal course of the game, this answer of September 7, 2006, should give you all the information you need:
"'Bringing the game into disrepute' means doing something that is totally counter the spirit of the game, which is meant to be played fairly and in a sporting manner. Such acts show a lack of respect for the game, e. g., aggressive attitude, inflammatory behavior, deliberately kicking the ball into one's own goal or taunting." It also includes intimidation and arguing with the referee.



On an indirect restart, with the directive that a touch on top of the ball with no movement (in the opinion of the referee) does not count a the first touch, when can the defenders move within 10yds? Can they move on the feint or should the restart be stopped and caution issued?

Also if the next player who touches the ball does so twice (without the ball touching another player) is the player guilty of a double touch?

Answer (Decemer 19, 2007):
The opponents must remain at least ten yards from the ball until it has been kicked and moves. The ball is not in play until it is kicked and moves. Simply tapping the ball does not move it; there must be a perceptible move from "here" to "there."

In answer to your questions:
1. The defenders must wait until the ball has actually moved before they approach.
2. If, after the ball is in play -- i. e., has been kicked and moved -- the kicker touches the ball a second time (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 page 3). So, yes, if the next player to kick the ball after a "tap" on the ball (which does not put it into play) touches the ball twice in succession, that player is guilty of a double touch.



When waving down an AR there is always the chance that the referee is making a mistaken assumption as to which player the AR is indicating. Most times it is clear what has happened. But in situations (usually near midfield) where there may be a lot of players who could become involved in play and/or who are blocking the referee's peripheral vision, mistaken assumptions can be made. Here is a situation that leads to some questions.

The attacking team kicked the ball in the air over midfield. When the ball was played, there was an attacker wide on the left side of the field and another in the middle, both just over midfield and in offside positions. As the ball passed over the head of the attacker in the center, angling towards the attacker on the left, the AR raised the flag. It was just a bit early since the wide player had not yet touched the ball, but it was clear he was definitely going to receive the ball. The referee, assuming that the AR was prematurely indicating the center attacker was participating in active play, waved the flag down. The AR lowered his flag and quickly returned to his proper position with the 2LD. The offside attacker wide on the left received the ball and play continued for 4 seconds until the ball was put out for a corner kick. Now, had the defending team cleared the ball, or if the ball had gone out for a goal kick or throw-in for the defending team, there would be no problem. But since the attacking team retained possession of the ball, they continue to gain an advantage from the miscommunication between the referee and the assistant.

Since the AR is the one that knows what has happened, what should he do about this situation? Should the AR "insist" that the attacker who eventually (1 second later) received the ball player is offside and refuse to lower the flag when waved down? Should he indicate to the referee immediately upon the next stoppage that he needs to speak to the referee and inform him of the facts (and if this is the correct action, would it matter if it had taken much longer than 4 seconds before the next stoppage occurred)? Should the AR simply comply with the referee and take no action? Or is there another answer?

And if the referee were to have discovered the facts, what action can he take? Has the offside been canceled once the AR lowers his flag, thereby eliminating his options? Or can the referee (aware that he could make mistaken assumptions when lots of players are around at the point of attack) hold up the next restart, quickly speak with the assistant, discover that the attacker who received the ball was also offside, and restart the game with an indirect kick fat the point of the original offside infringement?

It could be argued that changing the decision could negatively impact the referee's credibility and game control, but the alternative outcome could be much worse such as a goal scored off the corner kick. And if the referee is permitted to restart with the indirect kick for the offside, then what is the status of a foul or misconduct that may have occured in the intervening time between the offside infringement and the next stoppage of play? Would a subsequent foul have to be considered misconduct since, technically, play was stopped at the original time of the offside and the foul took place when play was stopped?

Answer (December 19, 2007):
If there has been no subsequent restart between the moment when the referee waved down the assistant referee's flag and the next stoppage of play, in this case the corner kick, the AR may confer with the referee. If the referee accepts the information supplied by the AR, the ball is brought back to place where the player was adjudged to be offside -- i. e., where the player was when his/her teammate played the ball -- and the indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team.

To attract the referee's attention at that next stoppage, the AR should give the signal for offside: flag raised above his/her head and, when the referee sees the signal, indicate position on the field of the offside; in this case, the far side of the field. If there is a need to confer, then the referee must come to the AR. To avoid such situations in the future, the referee should make eye contact with the assistant referees as often as possible and should wave off the AR's flag only if the AR has shown him-/herself to be unreliable. Let us emphasize here that unless the referee has reason to believe that the AR's judgment is unreliable, an AR's flag for offside should not be waved down. The exception here is when the developing offside situation is in the far third of the field, in which case the referee needs to delay action long enough to make an independent judgment about involvement in active play as typically he would be in a better position to evaluate this than an AR who is 50-80 yards away.

We would like to remind all referees -- yet again -- that touching the ball is not required when there is an attacker in an offside position making an obvious play for the ball UNLESS there is also an onside position attacker also making an obvious play for the ball. According to your scenario, BOTH attackers (one in the middle and one on the far left) were in offside positions and so the AR should have signaled as soon as it became clear that EITHER ONE OF THEM was making an obvious play for the ball.


U.S. Soccer thanks Jim Allen (National Instructor Staff/National Assessor), assisted by Dan Heldman (National Instructor Staff), for their assistance in providing this service. Direction is provided by Alfred Kleinaitis, Manager of Referee Development and Education, with further assistance from Julie Ilacqua, Managing Director of Referee Programs (administrative matters); David McKee, National Director of Assessment (assessment matters); and Ulrich Strom, National Instructor and National Assessor (matters in general).

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