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August 2003 Archive (I of II)

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Your question:
The red team has the ball in their attacking third. The AR sees the red team's defending player kick a blue team player in the red team's defending third. Play continues, and the red team scores a goal. The AR had his flag up signaling the foul before the goal was scored. What is the correct call? What is the correct restart?

USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
If the referee accepts the assistant referee's signal for the foul, the goal is not scored, the red defender is sent off and shown the red card for violent conduct, and the restart is a direct free kick for the blue team from the place where the infringement occurred.

If the referee does not accept that a foul (and misconduct) has occurred, the goal is scored and the restart is a kick-off for the red team.

Which decision would you make?

Your question:
Did you really mean to say, in response to the query by the "confused goalkeeper" in your July 29 posting, that "If you actually had possession as defined above, rather than simply going for the ball and yet not having it pinned down, then the second player was in the wrong and should have been punished for kicking or attempting to kick an opponent -- a direct free kick for the goalkeeper's team -- and possibly sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card if he made contact with you. "

The questioner clearly wrote: "...of course the [ball] came loose after the forward barreled into me and the other player pounded the ball into the goal...."

Is the USSF position truly that a player who kicks a loose ball into the goal (no matter how it came to be loose) is guilty of kicking or attempting to kick an opponent and should be penalised and possibly sent off?

I mention this because there is a pernicious rumor circulating among (dubious, IMO) referees that goes like this:
1. A player cannot legally play the ball after the goalkeeper has taken possession.
2. Possession = Control
3. IBD 2 for Law 12 defines control as touching the ball with any part of the hand or arms.
4. Therefore, after the goalkeeper has touched the ball with any part of his hands or arms, even if he subsequently loses control or deliberately releases the ball, any player attempting to play the ball has committed a foul and shoould be at least cautioned and probably sent off.

Your answer seems to support this conclusion in that, if the goalkeeper established control and then subsequently lost it, the attacker is guilty of a foul if he plays the loose ball. I'm not making this up. You don't have to go far in the soccer community, even the referee community, to have this argument raised.

USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
There is a vast difference between "control" and "possession."

"Control" under the Law occurs when the goalkeeper plays the ball with his hand to direct it somewhere.

"Possession" occurs when the ball is actually under the goalkeeper's physical control (rather than simply being redirected).

Other players may not attempt to play the ball while the goalkeeper has possession of the ball or is attempting to release the ball so that others may play it. Attempting to do so with the foot is classified as either kicking or attempting to kick. Following the overhaul of the Laws of the Game in 1997, the ball itself cannot be lawfully played while in the goalkeeper's possession. Therefore any attempt to kick, head, knee, or otherwise play the ball out of the goalkeeper's possession must be considered as an action directed at the goalkeeper himself/herself and therefore should be considered kicking or attempting to kick -- a direct free kick offense. If contact were made, the referee might consider that the kicking player committed serious foul play and might then send off the player and show the red card.

Your question:
Ball is crossed through the goal mouth very near the end-line but proceeds into the corner where it is cleared upfield and into touch. Play is stopped and restared with a throw-in. After the throw-in the CR (finally) notices that the AR on the end of the field where the ball had just crossed through the goal mouth has his flag raised. CR stops play and confers with AR who informs him that the ball had not merely traveled across the goal-mount but had, in fact, gone wholly and completely over the goal line, between the goal posts and was, consequently, a goal. Referee awards the goal and restarts with a kickoff. Protest is lodged because the CR awarded the goal after the throw-in restart which, it is claimed, negates the referee's ability to award the goal.

Is this a correct interpretation of the last paragraph of Law 5: "The referee may only change a decision... provided that he has not restarted play."? I am more familiar with this being applied to a free-kick restart (subsequent to a foul) where the referee realizes he has pointed the wrong way and has to realign the kick to go the other way; here the restart is directly related to the immediate incident. In the protested case, above, the restart was completely separate from the incident.

USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
As the referee determined to accept the AR's information and award the goal, the goal is valid. There are a number of questions and answers touching on this and other instances of AR assistance rendered prior to a foul or misconduct being committed in the IFAB/FIFA Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game.

Historically, the Law 5 statement actually has to do with a goal being revoked prior to a restart and less with the possibility you suggest of a goal not being counted if it wasn't recorded prior to a restart. The National Program for Referee Development has published a position paper on sequential infringements of the Law (downloadable from this site) which, although again not being on point as regards a goal, established the general proposition that the stoppage should be counted from the moment the AR flagged if the referee subsequently confirms the AR's information. And, finally, there is the proposition that play actually stopped under the Law when the whole of the ball crossed entirely over the goal line and so anything that happens after that (unless "too much play" has passed) is a nullity.

Your question:
An attacker is in an offside position when the ball is played in his/her direction. A defender, having moved to a position to play the ball, either heads or high-kicks the ball. The ball is deflected off its original path, but the defender fails to gather the ball. The attacker in the offside position receives the ball. Has offside occurred? We have calls both ways accompanied a multitude of reasonable (and some maybe unreasonable) explanations to support call. What is your opinion?

USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
It IS NOT correct to assume that any touch by a defender effectively changes the possession, because Law 11 clearly requires the ball to be controlled by the defender before a new phase of play can be said to have begun (and offside positions re-evaluated). It IS correct to say that the referee must make the judgment as to whether the opponent established full control over the ball and thus relieved the player in the offside position from being called offside.

Your question:
We had a situation where our team was attacking in the oponents goal box and our goal keeper yelled from the other end of the field when he believed we should have received a penalty for a challenge on our forward. Our goal keeper just yelled "penalty, ref!" The referee stopped play which was still continuing and marched all the way up the field where our goalkeeper was standing and awarded an indirect free kick for saying what he did. He did not receive a yellow card.

My question is, although the referee had the right technically to stop the game, where should the free kick taken place? My understanding of the rule book is that he had the right to caution the keeper but the free kick should have been where he stopped the game. Could you help with this question?

USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
Your answer can be found in the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game":
The referee has the power to stop the match for any infringement of the Laws, to apply advantage under the appropriate conditions, or to decide that an infringement is trifling or doubtful and should not be called at all. However, the referee also has the power to stop play for other reasons, including misconduct for which the referee intends only to warn the player regarding his behavior and not to issue a caution. In these circumstances, the referee should take care that ordering such a stoppage would not disadvantage the opposing team. As the stoppage will not have occurred for a foul or misconduct, play would be restarted with a dropped ball.

As there was no true infringement, the restart would obviously be at the place where the ball was when play was stopped.

Your question:
What is the significance of the six stars in the shield of the USSF referee badge?

USSF answer (August 12, 2003):
After as much research as seems possible on the matter, asking the "oldest timers" we know about the stars, the consensus is that the number of stars in the shield of the referee badge is simply the correct number to fill the space nicely. (The same seems to be true of the newer US Soccer logo, which has three stars, the one in the center a bit larger to better fill the space available.) The stars that separate UNITED STATES from SOCCER FEDERATION are purely for decoration.

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, we used to have stars around the outer perimeter of the referee badge. Their number varied in relationship to the grade of the referee -- the more stars, the higher the grade.

Your question:
In regard to a portion of your posted answer:
CONFUSED GOALKEEPER - USSF answer (July 29, 2003):
"... If [the Keeper] actually had possession as defined [in 'Advice' 12.16], rather than simply going for the ball and yet not having it pinned down, then the ... player [who kicks or attempts to kick (a ball) in Keeper possession] was in the wrong and should have been punished for kicking or attempting to kick an opponent -- a direct free kick for the goalkeeper's team -- and possibly sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card if he made contact with you. "

I thought that a simple stripping of the ball from the Keeper could be sanctioned as Dangerous Play where no physical contact occurred. I have given an IFK with a verbal warning to the effect that the Keeper is not to be used as a golf tee .... on occasion in the past. Of course, this milder punishment requires no contact .... and assumes no observed malice i.t.o.o.t.r. [... to be applied only where it is in harmony with the spirit of the game in question]. Wrong interpretation ??

USSF answer (August 11, 2003):
The call of dangerous play for this offense went out several years ago. It is either kicking or attempting to kick, no opinion of the referee required or warranted -- it is not allowed. Following the overhaul of the Laws of the Game in 1997, the ball itself cannot be lawfully played while in the goalkeeper's possession. Therefore any attempt to kick, head, knee, or otherwise play the ball out of the goalkeeper's possession must be considered as an action directed at the goalkeeper himself/herself and therefore should be considered kicking or attempting to kick -- a direct free kick offense. If contact were made, the referee might consider that the kicking player committed serious foul play and might then send off the player and show the red card.

Your question:
An attacking player is lying injured inside the penalty area. A defending player kicks the ball in touch so that the injured player can receive treatment. After the injured player is treated, an attacking player takes the throw-in. Attacker #6 calls for the ball saying, "Give it to me and I will give it to the goalkeeper!" The ball is thrown to Attacker #6, who promptly and intentionally kicks the ball into the goal! Most referees I know think that this is unfair and conflicts with the spirit of the game. But does it infringe the law? I have heard two suggestions on how to deal with this unlikely situation (but it has occurred I am told). First solution: Find fault with the throw. Second solution: Attacker #6 performed a simulation to deceive the opponents AND THE REFEREE. Caution Attacker #6 for USB and award an IFK to the defenders. Within LOTG what should the referee do? Or should he have done?

USSF answer (August 1, 2003):
There is no reason for the referee to take any action, as there has been no infringement of the Laws of the Game. On the other hand, Attacker #6 should consider giving up soccer, as he has no concept of fair play.

Please rid yourself of the notion that what the morally-impaired attacker did comes under the "simulation" provision. Referees can stretch the Laws pretty far when the circumstances permit, but some things are simply beyond the pale. "Simulation" involves fouls and/or injuries only, not deception of the sort described in the scenario, and is aimed at deceiving or misleading the referee. The action of this player was not aimed at the referee at all, but solely at the opponents.

Your question:
Can you please illustrate an example of a dangerous charge? I have always sanctioned any charge that fails to meet the criteria in ATR 12.5 as careless (DFK). Also, may a player use his forearm instead of his shoulder to charge an opponent, assuming that the charge isn't violent, and the player doesn't come up under the opponent--just uses the forearm as a brace against the player (and perhaps pushes a little)?

I believe I am correct in assuming that if a wall creeps up a yard or two at a free kick, this is always trifling as it I can't think of any way this could hinder the attacking team's ability to restart. However, it really bothers me and I was wondering if the USSF approves the practice of setting up the wall intentionally farther than ten yards, in games where the defenders have consistently previously crept forward. I don't see anything else I can do about it, as I can't caution anyone if it's trifling, correct?

USSF answer (July 30, 2003):
1. We are not aware of anything called a "dangerous charge." If you mean a reckless or violent charge, then they should be punished accordingly -- with a caution (yellow card) and direct free kick (or penalty kick) or with a send-off (red card) and direct free kick (or penalty kick), respectively. No, a player may not use his forearm to charge an opponent -- or even as a brace. These acts would be considered either pushing or holding and should be punished accordingly. They are the same as the ever-popular hand check, which is also illegal.

2. Trifling is relative. It might make all the difference in the world to the team which was awarded the free kick. If the creeping is interfering with the kicking team's right to a "free" kick, then the referee must exercise good judgment in managing the situation. Nothing that interferes with a team's right to fair play can be considered trifling.

Your question:
I play goalkeeper and I was wondering if a call was right in a match that I had played in recently. Here is was happened, the opposing team had a breakaway and went to their wing foward which crossed the ball into the middle, no player contended the ball until it hit the ground so of course I went to go scoop it up but I was met by two opposing players one of which ran into me not even trying to get the ball, I had my hands on the ball but it was down at my feet, of course the came loose after the forward barreled into me and the other player pounded the ball into the goal, now comes to my question. The player that ran into me received a yellow card, but the referee allowed the goal. I don't think a goal should be allowed if there was a foul committed and even a card give.

Thanks for reading this. Confused Goalkeeper

USSF answer (July 29, 2003):
The goalkeeper establishes possession with as little as one finger on the ball, provided the ball is under his control (in the opinion of the referee) and the ball has been trapped against the ground or some other surface -- the 'keeper's other hand or a goalpost.

Let us leave aside for the moment the matter of the player who played you instead of the ball. If you actually had possession as defined above, rather than simply going for the ball and yet not having it pinned down, then the second player was in the wrong and should have been punished for kicking or attempting to kick an opponent -- a direct free kick for the goalkeeper's team -- and possibly sent off for serious foul play and shown the red card if he made contact with you.

The player who played you rather than the ball was clearly in the wrong and should have been punished -- at a minimum -- for carelessly charging an opponent. The referee in your game obviously saw this as a reckless play, hence the caution and yellow card.

If you were prevented from playing the ball by the unfair charge, the goal should not have been allowed and the restart should have been a direct free kick for your team from the point of the charge.

If the referee had called the kicking or attempted kicking by the other opponent, then the goal should not have been awarded and the referee should have awarded a direct free kick for your team.

Your question:
From a DFK 30 yards from the Goal the attacker kicks the ball over the wall of defenders and toward the goal. The ball appears that it would have scored were it not for the defender who hung from the goal crossbar and headed the ball back onto the field.

USSF answer (July 28, 2003):
By hanging on the crossbar to head the ball away from the goal, the player brought the game into disrepute. Because this misconduct denied the opponents a goalscoring opportunity, the referee should send off the player and show the red card. The restart would be an indirect free kick for the opposing team. This is a good example for reminding referees that offenses which deny a goalscoring opportunity are not limited to those punishable by a direct free kick or penalty kick but may include fouls or misconduct for which the restart is an indirect free kick.

Your question:
[Original question directed to a state association]
I request your assistance is directing me the appropriate governing body relating to rules pertaining to the following: Prescribed (prescription) eyewear used during a soccer match. As background, my sons and I are Grade 8 referees activley involved in the local [city name] area. Also, both of my sons play Premier level Club soccer.

I am aware there is no specific law governing the approval of such eyewear. Based on my research, it appears the approval is left up to each individual referee's descrection (based on safety and the need for such eyewear). Unfortunately this can be capricious and unpredictable. Specifically, I've been involved in several instances when the matter of "what is safe" has come under heated debate between referees on the same field and the effect being the player was banned from wearing the eyewear during the game. I've seen this same unpredictable judgements with both types of eyewear: athletic shields and athletic googles. We need some very specific instruction as to what is "Approved Eyewear."

Who writes the laws relating to these matters? If there is a state and national governing body? If so, could you direct me to both?

USSF answer (July 23, 2003):
Player equipment is covered by the Laws of the Game, written by the International Football Association Board and promulgated by FIFA. Those Laws specify that a player may wear nothing that is dangerous to any player (including himself). The decision of the referee is final.

This answer from earlier this year may be of some help to you:
USSF answer (March 4, 2003):
In addition to this quote from the IFAB/FIFA Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game (2000 edition), Law 4, Question 4, . . .
4. May a referee allow a player wearing glasses to play in a match?
If, in the opinion of the referee, the glasses are dangerous to the player himself, or to an opponent, he does not allow the player to take part in the match. Players Wearing Spectacles

Sympathy was expressed for players, especially young players, who need to wear spectacles. It was accepted that new technology had made sports spectacles much safer, both for the player himself and for other players.

While the referee has the final decision on the safety of players' equipment, the Board expects that they will take full account of modern technology and the improved safety features of spectacle design when making their decision.

USSF Advice to Referees: Referees must not interpret the above statement to mean either that "sports glasses" must automatically be considered safe or that glasses which are not manufactured to be worn during sports are automatically to be considered unsafe. The referee must make the final decision: the Board has simply recognized that new technology has made safer the wearing of glasses during play.

If you need further information, you will find what every referee in the United States is taught about equipment in this memorandum of March 7, 2003:

To: State Referee Administrators cc: State Presidents
State Youth Referee Administrators Affiliated Members
State Directors of Referee Instruction
State Directors of Referee Assessment
National Assessors
National Instructors
National Referees

From: Julie Ilacqua
Managing Director of Federation Services

Re: Player's Equipment

Date: March 7, 2003


USSF has received a number of inquiries recently about how officials should handle situations where players wish to wear equipment that is not included in the list of basic compulsory equipment in FIFA Laws of the Game. Referees are facing increased requests from players for permission to wear kneepads, elbowpads, headbands, soft casts, goggles, etc.

The only concrete guidance in the Laws of the Game is found in Law 4:

"A player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player."

This is followed by a list of required uniform items: jersey, shorts, socks, shoes, and shinguards. Obviously, this language is quite general. USSF suggests the following approach to issues involving player equipment and uniforms:

1. Look to the applicable rules of the competition authority.
Some leagues, tournaments, and soccer organizations have specific local rules covering player uniforms and what other items may or may not be worn on the field during play. Referees who accept match assignments governed by these rules are obligated to enforce them. Note, however, that local rules cannot restrict the referee's fundamental duty to ensure the safety of players.

2. Inspect the equipment.
All items of player equipment and uniforms must be inspected. However, anything outside the basic compulsory items must draw the particular attention of the referee and be inspected with special regard to safety. USSF does not "pre-approve" any item of player equipment by type or brand -- each item must be evaluated individually.

3. Focus on the equipment itself -- not how it might be improperly used, or whether it actually protects the player.
Generally, the referee's safety inspection should focus on whether the equipment has such dangerous characteristics as: sharp edges, hard surfaces, pointed corners, dangling straps or loops, or dangerous protrusions. The referee should determine whether the equipment, by its nature, presents a safety risk to the player wearing it or to other players. If the equipment does not present such a safety risk, the referee should permit the player to wear it.

The referee should not forbid the equipment simply because it creates a possibility that a player could use it to foul another player or otherwise violate the Laws of the Game. However, as the game progresses, an item that the referee allowed may become dangerous, depending on changes in its condition (wear and tear) or on how the player uses it. Referees must be particularly sensitive to unfair or dangerous uses of player equipment and must be prepared to order a correction of the problem whenever they become aware of it.

The referee also should not forbid the equipment because of doubts about whether it actually protects the player. There are many new types of equipment on the market that claim to protect players. A referee's decision to allow a player to use equipment is not an endorsement of the equipment and does not signify that the referee believes the player will be safer while wearing the equipment.

4. Remember that the referee is the final word on whether equipment is dangerous. Players, coaches, and others may argue that certain equipment is safe. They may contend that the equipment has been permitted in previous matches, or that the equipment actually increases the player's safety. These arguments may be accompanied by manufacturer's information, doctor's notes, etc. However, as with all referee decisions, determining what players may wear within the framework of the Laws of the Game and applicable local rules depends on the judgment of the referee. The referee must strive to be fair, objective, and consistent, but the final decision belongs to the referee.

The philosophy of the United States Soccer Federation is that every child who wants to should be able to play. However, we must respect the guiding principles of the Laws of the Game, particularly Law 4, which requires the referee to ensure that all players are given conditions in which they can play as safely as possible.

Your question:
After CR's whistle, kicker runs up to take kick, and sideline of defending team makes loud and distracting noise. Kicker misses PK badly. Any remedies ?

USSF answer (July 23, 2003):
Other than recognizing it as the poor sportsmanship that it is, no, there is little the referee can or should do. However, Law 5 grants the referee the power to stop, suspend or terminate the match because of outside interference of any kind. If the referee believes that this activity is planned or organized in any way, rather than the spontaneous actions of zealous fans, it might be considered to be outside interference. Examples of planned, systematic interference might include air horns or firecrackers or group shouting. In that case, the referee would be justified in informing the team captain that the game will be terminated if such planned or organized activities do not stop at once.

Your question:
At a throw in a player begins to take a flip throw in. During this attempt the following things happened:
a. The Player landed with both feet on or behind the touchline
b. The player was facing the field of play
c. the ball was thrown from behind and over the top of the head and released while the ball was over the top of the head.
d. The player used both hands to perform the throw
e. The player threw the ball while her rear-end was in contact with the ground (i.e. the player threw the ball while seated rather than squatting or standing.)

Is it legal to throw the ball in from the seated position? I know it is Illegal to throw from the kneeling position but the ATR doesn't mention the seated position and I would like further clarification as this happened in one of my matches and I didn't know what was proper. My first reaction was this can not be legal is throwing from the kneeling position is also Illegal. What is the correct interpertation?

USSF answer (July 23, 2003):
After the referee and the players and spectators finish laughing, the referee's decision should be to award the throw-in to the other team, as the throw-in was not completed in accordance with the requirements of Law 15. A sitting throw-in would be regarded as equal to a kneeling throw-in.

Your question:
I gave advantage to green going to goal outside the area for a charge; the player kept stumbling for what seemed forever but was not near any other defenders. A slight challenge near goal line and the attacker went down and giving up a goal kick. Since I called advantage, can I still call the foul and bring the ball back to the original foul location? This was a hot u19 boy's match and I felt I needed to make a decision pretty quickly. Did I call advantage too soon? Once I call advantage, does that cancel the foul?

USSF answer (July 23, 2003):
The wisdom you seek will be found in section 5.6 of the third edition (2003) of the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game," to be released in the very near future:
Referees have the power to apply (and signal) the advantage upon seeing a foul or misconduct committed if at that moment the terms of the advantage clause (Law 5, 11th item) were met. Applying advantage permits the referee to allow play to continue when the team against which the foul has been committed will actually benefit from the referee not stopping play.

The referee must remember that the advantage applies to the team of the fouled player and not just to the fouled player. Soccer is a team sport and the referee is expected to apply advantage if the fouled player's team is able to retain or regain control of the ball.

The referee may return to and penalize the original foul if the advantage situation does not develop as anticipated after a short while (2-3 seconds). If the ball goes out of play during this time, then play must be restarted in accordance with the Law. Referees should note that the "advantage" is not defined solely in terms of scoring a goal. Also, a subsequent offense by a player of the offending team must not be ignored while the referee allows the anticipated development of the advantage. Such an offense may either be recognized by stopping play immediately or by applying the advantage clause again. Regardless of the outcome of the advantage call, the referee must deal appropriately with any misconduct at the next stoppage, before allowing play to be restarted. (See also 12.27.)

The referee may also apply advantage during situations that are solely misconduct (both cautionable and send-off offenses) or to situations that involve both a foul and misconduct.

The advantage applies only to infringements of Law 12 (fouls and/or misconduct) and not to infringements of other Laws. For example, there can be no advantage during an offside situation, nor may advantage be applied in the case of an illegal throw-in that goes to an opponent.

Referees must understand that advantage is not an absolute right. It must be balanced against other issues. The giving of the advantage is not required in all situations to which it might be applied. The referee may stop play despite an advantage if other factors (e.g., game control, severity of a foul or misconduct, possibility of player retaliation, etc.) outweigh the benefit of play continuing.

A common misconception about advantage is that it is about deciding if a challenge is a foul. On the contrary, that decision has already been made because advantage cannot be applied to anything which is not a foul (meaning a violation of Law 12). Advantage, rather, is a decision about whether to stop play for the foul. Accordingly, giving the advantage is "calling the foul" and thus it must be as obvious to the players as signaling to stop play.

Inconspicuous advantage signals are as much to be avoided as a whistle which cannot be heard. Likewise, however, using the advantage signal to indicate that something is not a foul is equally wrong.

In determining whether there is persistent infringement, all fouls are considered, including those to which advantage has been applied.

In short, if the advantage did not work out within the 2-3 seconds, call the play back to the spot of the foul (or misconduct) and restart in accordance with the Laws.

And, finally, a hint about calling the advantage "too soon." Most experienced senior referees will not audibly call the advantage until those few seconds have already passed so that, when it IS publicly announced, the advantage will be clear.

Your question:
USSF ATRotLOTG 5.2 states: "The authority of the referee begins when he arrives at the field of play and continues until he has left the area of the field after the game has been completed. The referees authority extends to time when the ball is out of play, to temporary suspensions, to the half time break, and to additional periods of play or kicks from the penalty mark as required by the rules of competition."

Furthermore, ATR 3.14 states: "Yellow and Red cards, which are now mandatory indications of cautions or send-offs. may be shown only for misconduct comitted by players or named subsitutes during a match. 'During a match' includes:
a. The period of time immediately prior to the start of play during which players and substitues are physically on the field warming up, stectching, or otherwise preparing for a match."

Now the situation in question: I was an AR on a match which was being played during a recent tournament. Immediately following this match I was scheduled to be the Referee of the following match. During the match while I was the AR, a player from the next game was waiting just off the goal line in his uniform waiting for the current game to end so he could take the field with the rest of his team. This "future" player had started to interact with some of the "current" players and had been heckling the referee. At an appropriate time I mentioned to him and his team that I would be the CR for their game and that they should not interfere with the match being played. Later on, the same player who had been interfereing disagreed with the call of the CR and said "He, Ref, you suck!" -- I told this player again that I was refereeing his match later and I heard what he had said and I would take it under consideration and then I proceeded with my duties as AR. At the end of this match I talked it over with my crew and after determining that I was within my authority to do so I decided to issue a caution to the same player who had been interfering with the prior match. I did not show a card as they hadn't physically entered the field of play, but since I had arrived at the field of play I was under the impression I was ok in issuing a caution to this player. My reason was USB as I didn't feel I could issue a caution for dissent because he wasn't dissenting my personal decision, but was being unsporting. Later after asking the SYRA he informed me I was not correct in this decision. I am still confused though, I know the ATR doesn't specifically discuss every little thing possible because to do so would make the document cumbersome, so WHEN does the referee's authority in a match to which he is connected begin at a tournament during where the players are there and ready to enter the field, but still before the prior match is over?

USSF answer (July 23, 2003):
Let's lay this out another way: A spectator at a game (but who will be a player in the NEXT game) makes disparaging remarks about the referee. This spectator is asked by the assistant referee on that game to cease. The AR then threatens the spectator that he will take action against him in the next game, in which the AR will be the referee and the spectator will be a player/substitute. Where in Law 5 (or anywhere else in the Laws of the Game) would the referee find the authority to do this? Nowhere.

If the spectator did not stop his commentary, the correct solution would be gather as much information as possible on the spectator (team, name, number, etc.) and include that information in the match report for the first game. Anything else goes far beyond the authority granted to the referee by the Laws of the Game.

Just to make it perfectly clear: You are attempting to create a right to caution which, as an AR, you do not possess. Whatever the person was doing, it was the responsibility of the referee on the game during which it happened to handle it. The AR has no cautioning authority; he or she can only make a recommendation to the referee. But, in this case, even the referee wouldn't have authority to caution this person because this person wasn't a player, substitute, or substituted player FOR THE GAME DURING WHICH THE BEHAVIOR WAS COMMITTED.

Some might suggest that you spent altogether too much time focusing on this, to the possible detriment of your responsibilities to the referee and the rest of the game. If we were to recommend any course of action beyond including the details in your own match report on the first game, it might be to advise the spectator that, based on his behavior prior to his own match, you (the referee) will be paying special attention to him in his role as player.

Your question:
In a game where the opening 15 minutes had been hard and fast, with a high number of fouls, a player on one team who already had two fouls to his credit recklessly fouls the star player on the other team again (say for the second time). The referee had decided that if this player committed another foul in a particular time frame, he would be cautioned for persistent infringement. When this foul now occurs, it is the type that every player on the field knows must carry a caution for recklessness. The referee awards one yellow for the reckless foul, and one for the persistent infringement, pointing to the three foul spots.

Has the referee exceeded his authority?

Under the LOTG, he is supposed to punish the more severe of two simultaneous offenses. Yet, here, there is one offense and two misconducts. Must he choose to just punish one?

The thinking referee would probably choose to use one caution and chew out the player big time, and let him know in no uncertain terms that if he so much looks like he's going to foul again, it will be his last for this game. But, if the game circumstances supported it, is the referee justified in the awarding of both at one time?

Inquiring minds don't have enough to do today.

USSF answer (July 23, 2003):
Persistent infringement is judged by the referee on the spot, based on written guidance and on the way the particular game is being played. If two acts of misconduct happen to coincide, resulting in a situation where the player must be cautioned for a second time in a game, life is hard, but the referee must persevere. Lex dura sed lex. And some players just never learn.

Yes, provided that the referee believes that match control in this particular game requires it, the player should be cautioned and shown the yellow card for persistent infringement and then shown the second yellow card and then the red card for the second caution in the game.

Your question:
On a PK, the Keeper throws his hat or shin guard at the ball and stops it before it enters the goal. What is the card, if any, and what would the restart be? Would it be any different if he did not throw it but held it out too extend his reach?

USSF answer (July 22, 2003):
If the object -- hat, dirt, shoe, shinguard, glove, whatever -- remains in the goalkeeper's (or any other player's) hand, it is considered to be an extension of the player's hand. However, once it leaves the player's hand, the object is no longer considered as part of or an extension of the hand. Thus, throwing the object and striking the ball cannot be considered to be deliberately handling the ball. It is considered to be misconduct; however, following the caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior, the restart would be a retake of the penalty kick.

Why a penalty kick? Having been awarded a penalty kick, the kicking team MUST be allowed a fair chance of the kick being completed -- whether it results in a goal or not. Anything that interferes with completion of the penalty kick (fan running onto the field, dog playing with the ball, the ball bursting on its way in, a goalkeeper committing misconduct by throwing a shoe/rock/jersey/etc. at the ball and deflecting it) means that the penalty kick was not "completed." Therefore, the penalty kick must be retaken after the referee sorts out the other problems.

In addition, referees are reminded that offenses which deny a goalscoring opportunity are not limited to those punishable by a direct free kick or penalty kick but may include fouls or misconduct for which the restart is an indirect free kick. (Which it would have been in this case if the offense had been anything other than a penalty kick.)

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.

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