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May 2006 Archive (I of II)


"U-16 game in [deleted] Cup this weekend... there is an IFK against us near the edge of our 18 yard line. We set up our wall and then 2 opposing players go right up to the wall on either side, get down on their hands and knees right in front of our players, and then start leaning into the knees of the players that were part of the wall and trying to push them back/prevent them from stepping up without tripping over them. Referee saw nothing wrong with it. I have a feeling it has to be illegal somehow. As one ref friend of mine said, maybe call dangerous play if they do trip one of the players trying to come forward after the 1st touch, but the issue there is, they may not move and thus not hopefully it's covered under something else. It may or may not have technically been legal, but I definitely think it was dirty and unnecessary. For the record, they didn't score on the play anyway."

I and other refs on the board have advised that the referee should stop the kick from proceeding and tell the players to get up. If they don't get up, they should be cautioned for dissent or USB. If the kick takes place prior to the referee being able to stop it, the kneeling players should be immediately whistled for tripping or holding, and the kneeling attackers most likely cautioned for USB. Of course, if the ref is not quick enough with the whistle then the ball may be in the back of the net, and he would have to decide whether the actions of the kneeling attackers would be trifling, and the goal should be allowed, or whether the goal should be disallowed due to the foul/misconduct. I would especially appreciate your input in this case.

Answer (May 8, 2006):
While the referee would normally allow the kicking team a certain amount of leeway in deceiving its opponents, the tactic you describe goes well beyond mere deception. This situation is analogous to the players who line up in front of the goalkeeper at a corner kick to impede and prevent the 'keeper from playing the ball when it is kicked. Although the players kneeling in front of the wall are "holding" their opponents with their bodies, they have not yet committed a foul because the ball is not in play. While the defending team has no "right" to set up a wall, neither has the kicking team a "right" to "hold" or physically impede its opponents away from the ball. They are setting up to impede the players in the wall from playing the ball when it is put into play and are likely committing unsporting behavior.

The referee may either (1) act before the kick and warn the players not to hold or impede the opponents in the wall or (2) wait until the kick has been taken and then stop play. If the referee stops play, the impeding player should be at least warned before the referee gives the restart, which is an indirect free kick for the opposing team from the place where the opponents were impeded.



Do the duties of the fourth official include stopping play and informing the central referee of infractions occuring on the field of play? In a recent international game between belize and panama (u20) the fourth official informed the central referee of an alleged infraction that occured which neither the central referee nor his assistant saw. This resulted in a red card being issued to a top Belizean forward three minutes into the first half. We lost the game 1-0.

Answer (May 8, 2006):
The United States Soccer Federation cannot presume to tell referees from other countries how to officiate a game, but this answer should be the same throughout the world.

Although the fourth official may delay the restart to give information to the referee, he or she may not stop play to do so. The fourth official either signals the referee in a manner they have agreed upon before the game or works through the assistant referee on the bench side of the field to get the information to the referee.



In a variety of the upper level U12, U14, U19 recreational matches, we are seeing players "push" other stationary players who have possession of the ball with their hips or pelvis. While it sounds innocuous, I have seen players who were pushed in this manner stumble forward, and in doing so, move the ball out of bounds as a result of these "pushes".

Given that the player who used this tactic gained an unfair advantage, and played the player rather than the ball, we have been calling this as a Push under the LOTG, and awarding a DFK. In severe cases where it is persistent, a card is applied for PI.

The LOTG are silent on the manner or method of the push.

In your view of the LOTG, are we addressing this infraction correctly?

Answer (May 8, 2006):
The move you describe is charging unfairly, punishable through a direct free kick. Pushing is done with the hands and arms.



A winger crosses the ball, the keeper catches it while backing into his goal, and shortly thereafter an attacker runs into him and the keeper falls down between the goal posts and over the goal line. I believed that the ball had crossed the goal line before the contact, and my (youth) AR gave me no indication otherwise. I then awarded the goal. Time expired before the kickoff, so signalled the end of the first half.

When my AR joined me, he told me that the keeper was clearly pushed into the goal, and in his opinion the goal should not have been awarded (he clearly did not follow procedures while this was happening.)

My question is, can the goal be disallowed once the half (or game) was ended? [This particular variation is not covered in "Advice to Referees", 5.14 CHANGING A DECISION ON AN INCORRECT RESTART.]May 8, 2006):
The referee may change any decision if the game has not restarted. However, in a strange twist of the Laws, as of July 1, 2005, this would not apply to the end of the second half.

Referees should remind assistant referees of their duties in such situations (to signal for either negation or scoring of a goal) during the pregame conference.



We all know that in instances where defenders are less than ten yards from an IFK but standing on the goal line between the posts, this is allowed.

In a scenario where team A is awarded an IFK from the six toward their opponents goal. Before the defending team takes up positions to form a wall on the goal line, a number of team A players take up those positions first. The plan to have a set play whereby they fall to the ground or in some other way move aside to create space for their teammate/kicker to take a shot rebounding off them into the goal, what can the defenders do?

Can they stand off the field, in the goal behind this wall with the refs permission and rush forward at the taking of the kick to prevent the score (I don't think so)? Can they stand in front of the wall (I don't think so). Can they stand idly by and watch the clever attackers score a goal?

Answer (May 8, 2006):
While the tactic may not be particular sporting, it is not an infringement of the Laws of the Game. By the same token, the defending team may stand behind the players on the goal line (without interfering with their ability to move, of course).



I have been ref for several years. I have traveled to various states and always like to learn the variations of the interpretations of the laws of the game. One that recently affected my 16 year old son who has been a ref for several years him self also.

If the Keeper collected the ball and moved to punt the ball. The player (My son) standing at his side Jumped up as the keeper punted the ball. Note this was not at the keeper just straight up. At the next stoppage of play the ref awarded a Yellow card for Unsporting behavior "interfering with the keeper." Is this correct interpretation? The assignor said it would be for delaying the restart of the game. Note that the ref did not give any warning as to how close he would allow a player to be to the keeper. The player also never touched the keeper or the ball. I asked the league coordinator this to understand this call.

Answer (May 4, 2006):
The USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" provides this information on your question:
An opponent may not interfere with or block the goalkeeper's release of the ball into play. While players have a right to maintain a position achieved during the normal course of play, they may not try to block the goalkeeper's movement while he or she is holding the ball or do anything which hinders, interferes with, or blocks the goalkeeper who is throwing or punting the ball back into play. An opponent does not violate the Law, however, if the player takes advantage of a ball released by the goalkeeper directly to him or her, in his or her direction, or deflecting off him or her nonviolently.

The parts of your question that the Advice does not address are these: First, the referee should not have to give the player any "warning" about distance. The Law is clear: a player may not prevent (or interfere with) the goalkeeper's release of the ball. Jumping up, even at the 'keeper's side, is interfering with the release of the ball. Second, this interference is not delaying the restart of play. Why? Because play had not been stopped; if not stopped, it cannot be restarted. Third, the referee should not have cautioned the player (your son) for this act, unless it was a repeated offense or truly was unsporting behavior.



A shot gets behind the goal keeper who turns and pounces on the ball. The referee, who is within the penalty area, uses a "non-standard" signal indicating no goal, (a baseball umpire's safe signal): the assistant referee gives no signal of any kind. The goal keeper eventually gets up, 5 to 10 seconds, and punts the ball towards the left wing, where it goes into touch. Before the throw-in has been taken, the crowd and coaches are yelling at the referee that it was a goal and he should check with his AR. The referee decides to approach his young AR who is a first season assistant referee. The outcome of that conversation was that the referee awarded a goal and restarted with a kick-off.

The opposing coach protests that the referee cannot change his decision once play has been restarted, and he is correct, but play had actually never been stopped...the goal keeper had the ball under his control and play RESUMED, but it was not a restart. Approximately 20 to 30 seconds pass between when the goal keeper was laying on the ball in proximity to the goal line and when the ball finally went into touch.

Was what the referee did within the LOTG?

Answer (May 3, 2006):
Yes, the referee's act was within the Laws of the Game. The referee has the power to change a decision before play has restarted. In this case, as play never stopped after the ball entered the goal, the decision was a correct one.

There are several slightly bothering aspects about your question. First is a matter of terminology: The referee did make a decision about the play, indicating there was no goal and allowing play to continue. Decisions are made every second or so and the vast majority do not require stoppages of play. Second is the lack of a signal from the assistant referee. It makes no difference that this is his first season. New referees are taught in the entry-level refereeing course (no matter whether for 08 or 09) that the AR makes eye contact with the referee to confirm a goal or to indicate that there was no goal. Even if the AR did not remember that, the referee should have covered this in the pregame conference among the officials. The correct steps to take are covered in the USSF publication "Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials."



I was wondering if there is a ruling for parents giving occasional coaching type remarks from the parents sideline during a game. In other words, parents coaching from the sidelines. Is there a rule against a parent from doing that, and if there is what is the penalty.

Answer (May 2, 2006):
Under the Laws of the Game (the rules the world plays by) there is no prohibition on spectators contributing their "wisdom" to the players. However, there may be such a rule in one or more of the competitions (leagues or cups or tournaments, etc.) in which the team participates. Check the rules of the competition.



A state referee committee forwarded the following protest for guidance:
The [state youth] D&P Committee recently heard a game protest filed by Š coach [removed]. The protest was upheld and we have been advised that the game must be replayed in its entirety because the D&P Committee has determined that there was a misapplication of the rules/LOG. It is my belief that the Committee has made an incorrect decision but wish to have this confirmed by you prior to filing any type of appeal.

The circumstances in question are as follows:
The referee blew the whistle signaling the end of the game at approximately 31 minutes of play in the second half of the game. The [team x] coach advised the linesman that [state youth] rules stipulate 2 35-minute halves for the age group in question. The referee acknowledged his mistake and immediately called both teams back to the field of play and re-started the game via a drop-ball and continued play for the remaining 4 minutes.

It is my belief that the referee's actions were correct and that the [state youth] D&P Committee erred in its decision that a misapplication of the rules/LOG occurred.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible so that if warranted we can file an appeal within the 72-hour deadline.

Answer (May 1, 2006):
If, prior to leaving the vicinity of the field of play, the referee learns that the amount of time played in any period of play was too little to meet the requirement of the rules of competition, that remaining amount of required time not yet played must be played. This is required by Law 7, which states clearly that the game must consist of two equal halves. The answer comes with the proviso that the dropped ball restart was correct only if the period of play was ended by the referee's whistle solely for what he thought was the expiration of time rather than for some other reason (e. g., a foul) or for the ball leaving the field.



While this situation hasn't come up yet, I'm not sure what i would do if it did. If the goalkeeper must be cautioned by a yellow card, is he allowed to stay on the field and someone else serve the penalty?

Answer (April 27, 2006):
Yes, the goalkeeper is allowed to stay on the field--unless this was his second caution and he was then dismissed and shown the red card as well. Leagues are not permitted to use the "hot head" rule and make players leave the field when they have been cautioned.


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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