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Ask A Referee Update: August 3, 2010


In order to play there are X number of players and a specifically appointed goalkeeper. This is a two part question. If the goalkeeper is injured does play stop? If the keeper is injured for a period of time and play is continuing does the goal count if it crosses the goal line?

Answer (July 29, 2010):
A two-part question gets a two-part answer.

1. Play is stopped only if, in the opinion of the referee, the player is seriously injured. That includes all players, whether field player or goalkeeper.

2. If the goalkeeper is not, in the opinion of the referee, seriously injured and play continues, a goal would be counted if the whole of the ball completely crosses the entire goal line between the goalposts and beneath the crossbar.


While watching the local sports highlights of the recent MLS game between Toronto and Dallas, it appeared that the Referee showed a red card to somebody on the sideline that obviously was not a player or substitute. I think it was in Toronto. Do the local youth leagues supply referees for MLS games in Canada? Seriously, what was going on there, or was the card for a player standing behind the technical area?

Answer (July 27, 2010):
The referee showed the red card to Dario Sala, reserve goalkeeper for FC Dallas, after he threw a ball on the field, for using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures. Hence, this instance was handled correctly by the referee.


A new referee, or a referee reinstating after a lapse, is usually give a patch through the following year and an insurance policy corresponding to the patch (e.g. a new referee certifying in 2010 will get a 2011 patch and policy.) We have been told by USSF that the patch is good from time of certification through the expiration of the patch. This in effect gives the referee 16 months or so of registration on that patch. However, the policy goes from September to September. So the policy year coverage would not have started yet for this new referee. Is this referee covered for the balance of the year in which he/she certified even if the patch and policy are for the following year? This situation is the same for referee that has been reissued a patch after being covered under the grace period for a lapse.

Answer (July 26 2010):
The September date on the policy has nothing to do with the registration cycle. That is simply the date that U.S. Soccer renews the policy every year. All currently registered referees are covered by the insurance regardless of the registration calendar.


I am a Referee Instructor. After watching the Seattle vs Colorado match, a student asked me if MLS does not follow Law 4 in dealing with undershorts. Seattle's shorts are blue and yet several of their players were wearing knee length green sliding shorts and one player was wearing white. Since they were knee length, it was obvious even on TV that they were not following as we are teach. Not wanting to get into my opinion of the Referee, I answered that I was not intimate with MLS' Rules of Competition and it could be waved in those. Can you clarify this?

Answer (July 26, 2010):
The requirements for the pros are precisely the same as those for all other players. This was an oversight by the refereeing team.


In the past couple of months I've noticed a trend among some of the ARs I've worked with. I was taught that when a goal is scored into the goal on my side of the pitch, as an AR I should sprint briefly along the touchline toward the center circle. This is also how I've always seen it done at the professional level. Several of the ARs I've worked with recently have, instead, walked or stood still and motioned downward with both hands along the touchline. It's the motion you'd make if you were insisting that someone go ahead in front of you. Is this an alternate form of this signal or just laziness? I'll admit it's been very hot in SoCal these last few months so I understand the desire to conserve energy, and I'm one who usually abhors officiousness for its own sake, but it seems a tad unprofessional. Am I being the over-officious official I've always detested on this one or can I, in good conscience, correct ARs working with me who do this?

Answer (July 21, 2010):
We are unaware of any changes to the procedure outlined in the USSF publication "Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials":

Lead Assistant Referee * If the ball briefly but fully enters the goal and is continuing to be played, raises the flag vertically to get the referee's attention, and then after the referee stops play, puts flag straight down and follows the remaining ;procedures for a goal
* If the ball clearly enters the goal without returning to the field, establishes eye contact with the referee and follows the remaining procedures for a goal
* Runs a short distance up the touch line toward the halfway line to affirm that a goal has been scored
* Keeps moving to avoid confrontation if approached
* Observes the resulting player b behavior and the actions in ad around the penalty area
*Takes up the position for a kick-off
* Keeps players under observation at all times
* Records the goal after the trail assistant referee has recorded it.


Situation: Attacker takes a shot on the goal. Keeper blocks the shot with his hands, and the ball bounces out of the penalty area.

Keeper runs after the ball, and plays it back into the penalty area (with his feet).

Question: If the keeper then picks up the ball with his hands, does this constitute illegal handling, punishable by IFK?

My understanding is that this question hinges on whether this was "deliberately parrying the ball", in which case the keeper is considered to have possession and is not allowed to play the ball back into the penalty area and pick it up, or "the ball rebounds accidentally from him", in which case the keeper does not have possession of the ball and is allowed to pick up back up inside the penalty area.

My interpretation is that this case (where the keeper intentionally moved his hands towards the ball to keep it from crossing the goal line) would fall under "deliberately parrying".

Answer (July 21, 2010):
What you describe sounds more like a good defensive move than a parry, but only the referee on the game can decide for certain. Parrying is no longer seen at the higher levels of play, because it is no longer an effective tool for the goalkeeper, who has only six seconds to distribute the ball after achieving possession. "Parrying" should not be confused with making a "save." "Parrying" occurs when the goalkeeper knowingly controls the ball with the hands by deliberately pushing it to an area where it can be played later. By parrying the ball, the goalkeeper has done two things simultaneously: (1) established control and (2) given up possession. The ball is now free for all to play and the goalkeeper may not play it again with the hands. Referees must watch carefully to see that the goalkeeper does not use a parry (disguised as a "save") in an attempt to hide the fact that he or she has established possession.

This excerpt from the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" may be helpful:
After relinquishing control of the ball, a goalkeeper violates Law 12 if, with no intervening contact, touch or play of the ball by a teammate or an opponent, he or she handles the ball a second time. This includes play after parrying the ball. Referees should note carefully the text in the IGR, which defines "control" and distinguishes this from an accidental rebound or a save.

In judging a second touch with the hands by the goalkeeper, referees must take into account tactical play which may seem unsporting but is not against the Laws of the Game or even the spirit of the game. If a goalkeeper and a teammate play the ball back and forth between them, the goalkeeper can handle the ball again legally so long as the teammate has not kicked the ball to the goalkeeper. However, of course, an opponent can challenge for the ball during such a sequence of play. The players are "using" but not "wasting" time. The referee's goal under these circumstances is to be close enough to manage the situation if the opposing team decides to intervene.

The "second possession" foul is punished only by an indirect free kick from the place where the goalkeeper handled the ball the second time*. Please note: A goalkeeper may never be punished with a penalty kick for deliberately handling the ball within his or her own penalty area, even if the handling is otherwise a violation of another restriction in Law 12.


How do I reorder a level 8 2010 USSF patch?

Answer (July 21, 2010):
Referees can order replacement badges through our online catalog. Here is the link:

Referees will need their 16 digit registration number to enter the catalog. The password is usually the referee's date of birth, but sometimes the last name works, too.


A back-door uniform question.

I purchase all my equipment from OSI and noticed they are offering English Premier League referee shirts and international shirts for purchase, as well as the standard USSF fare.

As OSI is the official provider for USSF uniforms, are these legal for use by USSF referees? I cannot believe they would be, but thought I would ask.

Answer (July 14, 2010):
Your intuition is correct: The EPL shirts may not be worn by referees working games affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation.


I was at a high level youth tournament this summer and we had an interesting discussion amongst the referees, as one of the referees had an affinity for the long-sleeved jerseys. My understanding up until now had been that the referee crew was to be wearing sleeves of the same length, all long, or all short. (This is frequently not the case in other matches I have seen such as EPL and some WC matches, and I believe possibly on a MLS match or two.) When I looked at the most recent Administrative Handbook edition under the uniform, I found no such direction. The referee I worked with at this tournament said a recent memo/position paper had just come out from US Soccer saying referees could wear whichever sleeve length they wanted, and just be comfortable. Can you confirm or put to rest the rumors that any such memo exists? Thanks.

Answer (July 14, 2010):
No, there is no such memo. Here is the reply from the authority at U. S. Soccer:

"We have never sent a position paper on sleeves. It is up to each person to decide and they do not all have to match."


The [recent] memo [on managing feinting by the kicker at a penalty kick or kick from the penalty mark] says that, if a kick from the penalty mark needs to be retaken, a teammate of the original kicker may take the kick if he/she is eligible. The memo goes on to say, 'The kicker is, however, credited with having taken the kick....' Does the blue wording refer to the original kicker? If so, this is a new interpretation, right? (I say that because our kicks-from-the-penalty-mark checklist says that the original kicker whose kick is retaken by a different eligible player is not counted as having taken a kick.)

Answer (July 13 2010):
We regret any possible confusion. The source for the information is the checklist for kicks from the penalty mark:

The original kicker whose kick is retaken by a different eligible player is not counted as having taken a kick."

The language in question is in footnote 2 of the position paper and refers to a situation in which there is no retake. Therefore, "the kicker" in this case means the player who actually performed the kick, not the player who originally took the kick that had to be retaken.

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

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