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December 2007 Archive (I of I)


TRICKERY AND THE DELIBERATE KICK TO THE GOALKEEPER

Question:
This is a two part question
Part 1, I just took my recertification exam and had an disagreement not only with the instructor but with every one in the course about Law 12 and passing back to the keeper. I received my first referee certification in 1992 and when we were going through that course we were told, in the area of passing back to the keeper who would then touch the ball with their hands, that if a player for the keepers team passes the ball in the air to a teammate who then heads it back to the keeper than those players are cautioned for trying to circumvent the law and should be cautioned and a indirect free kick is awarded. In this course, everyone there including the instructor, said that that is a legal play and neither player should be cautioned; in fact the instructor said he would congratulate the players on being so inventive and that the law says you can pass the ball back with your head. Did I miss something here? Wouldn't that also be trying to circumnavigate the law, or am I going crazy and that part of the law never existed?

Part 2, what started all of this is in Law 12 under decisions of the IFA Board, it states "A player using a deliberate trick to circumvent the Law while he is taking a free kick, is cautioned for unsporting behavior and showing the yellow card. The kick is retaking. In such a circumstances, it is irrelevant weather the goalkeeper subsequently touches the ball with his hands or not. The offense is committed by the player in attempting to circumvent both the letter and the sprit of law 12."

Here's the knock - if, like the instructor said, this only applies if the player flicks the ball to himself and then heads it back to his keeper, why doesn't law 13 go in to effect and do to the fact he has touched it twice the ball goes to the other team as an indirect free kick. Or if the player does pass to a team mate to head back to his keeper than why would you not show both a yellow card and give the ball to the other team as an indirect free kick? Here is my other problem with this decision, what if defender A is taking an indirect free kick and passes it across the field to teammate B, who gets pleasure from offensive player 1, and tries to pass the ball back to his keeper, who never touches the ball with his hands, because that's the only outlet he has at the time, player B gets a yellow card and the indirect free kick goes back to the defending team and they get to re-kick. This decision seems kind of dumb to me.

Answer (December 19, 2007):
O tempora, o mores! Things have changed since 1992, when FIFA issued Circular 488 on July 24. The sense of the circular was encapsulated in an article in Fair Play, the USSF referee magazine, in 1998. Nothing has changed but the way the Laws are numbered and the replacement in the Laws of "ungentlemanly conduct" with "unsporting behavior."

What about players who seek to get around the Letter of the Law? In response to numerous queries from around the world, FIFA issued its Circular Number 488 on July 24, 1992. Circular 488 will not appear in the Laws of the Game, but must be known and understood by every referee. Because they directly affect the way in which the referee will treat time wasting, it is worthwhile to quote the Circular at length:

Subject to the terms of Law XII, a player may pass the ball to his own goalkeeper using his head or chest or knee, etc. If, however, in the opinion of the referee, a player uses a deliberate trick in order to circumvent the amendment to Law XII, the player will be guilty of ungentlemanly conduct and will be punished accordingly in terms of Law XII; that is to say, the player will be cautioned and an indirect free-kick will be awarded to the opposing team from the place where the player committee the offense.

Examples of such tricks would include: a player who deliberately flicks the ball with his feet up onto his head in order to head the ball to his goalkeeper; or, a player who kneels down and deliberately pushes the ball to the goalkeeper with his knee, etc.

In such circumstances, it is irrelevant whether the goalkeeper subsequently touches the ball with his hands or not. The offense is committed by _the player_ in attempting to circumvent both the text and the spirit of Law XII, and the referee must only be convinced that this was the player's motive.

It is obvious from the text of Circular 488 that players who use trickery in an attempt to get around the conditions of the amendment to Law XII must be dealt with immediately and firmly. The initiator of the trickery must be cautioned for ungentlemanly conduct and the match properly restarted. If the ball was already in play, an indirect free-kick from the spot where the initiator touched-not merely "kicked"-the ball is appropriate. If the ball was out of play, the restart for a violation depends upon how the circumvention began. If the action began from a free-kick or goal-kick that was properly taken, the restart will again be an indirect free-kick from the spot where the initiator of the trickery played it, regardless of whether he took the kick or was further along in the sequence of play. If the goal-kick or free-kick was _not_ properly taken, then the restart must be that goal-kick or free-kick. This could lead to a situation where the offending team has a player cautioned (or sent off for a second cautionable offense), but still retains the ball on the restart. 

You would seem to have met a wise instructor; however, we hope that this instructor also noted that if this was from a restart, the player who flicked the ball to his/her head had committed a "double touch," which would automatically be punished with an indirect free kick. If this occurred during play, then no offense is committed.

We have stated consistently and definitively:
The Law was rewritten in 1997 to reduce the number of options available to players for wasting time. Playing the ball to one's goalkeeper was traditionally used as a way of "consuming" time. By the time the Law was rewritten, the practice had become synonymous with time wasting. Normal interplay of the ball among teammates is not a matter of concern to any referee; however, the referee must be concerned with obvious deliberate attempts to circumvent the requirements of the Law. In this case the player using the deliberate trick to circumvent the Law is committing unsporting behavior, for which he must be cautioned and shown the yellow card.

One clue to the correctness of the player's action is whether it is a natural part of play or is clearly artificial and intended only to circumvent the Law. In such cases, the action is considered misconduct whether it ultimately is touched by the goalkeeper or not. Indeed, the misconduct should be whistled before the goalkeeper even has a chance to touch it.

This would also apply to a ball kicked by a player to a teammate, who then heads the ball to the 'keeper. In most cases this would be considered to be a part of normal play.

On July 23, 2002, we stated:

If a goal-kick, taken by the goalkeeper, goes to a teammate outside the penalty area, who heads the ball back to the goalie, this does not infringe the requirements of Law 12. The referee must recognize the difference between situations during dynamic play, when opponents are constantly exerting pressure, and events developing from static situations, such as free-kicks, when the opposing team must be at least ten yards from the ball. The referee must always consider the distance between members of opposing teams as well as members of the same team before making the call. 

The final information comes in an answer of November 14, 2007:

When speaking of trickery in playing the ball toward the goalkeeper, we normally think of this as occurring during restarts, not during dynamic play. A player who goes down on hands and knees to head the ball during dynamic play is not committing trickery.

With that point established, consider our response of August 29, 2007, to another question on trickery:

"When considering the possibility of trickery, the referee must decide if the action was natural (a normal sort of play, the sort of thing you would see in any sequence of play) or contrived (an artificial, unnatural play, which, in the referee's opinion, is intended solely for the purpose of circumventing the Law and preventing the opponents from challenging for the ball).

"The call is always in the opinion and at the discretion of the referee, who is the only person capable of making the judgment as to the nature of the kick. If there is any doubt in the referee's mind as to the nature of the play, then common sense should prevail. Unless the referee believes plays like this to be trickery, there is no need to make a call."

Consider also that the goalkeeper infringes the Law by handling a throw-in only if it has come directly to him or her from a throw-in taken by a teammate. 

 


AR POSITIONING AND WHERE TO SIGNAL FOR GOAL KICKS

Question:
Where should the AR stand when indicating a goal kick? The Guide To Procedures does not specify a position. In our training classes, the instructor said that it is customary to be standing in the corner behind the corner flag when signalling. The rationale given for this is that the AR should have traveled all the way to the goal line to verify the ball was out, and therefore that is where he is left standing and thus the signal should be given there. However, there are a few reasons to challenge this.

One reason is consistency. For all other indications of ball placement by the AR, the position is directed to be perpendicular to the point where the offense (foul, offside, misconduct) occured. In an offside situation where the AR is still moving with the players while waiting for active involvement, once that involvement occurs, the AR moves back to the point of the restart and indicates the restart by pointing his flag. So it would be more consistent to have the AR move to a point perpendicular with the top of the goal area and indicate the goal kick restart with his flag (acknowledging that while the ball can be placed anywhere in the goal area, in practice it is rarely placed far from the top of the goal area). This procedure would have the additional benefit of making the restart more clear to all participants and spectators who may have missed the flag signal: the restart is a goal kick when the AR is at the 6, and it is a corner kick when the AR is at the corner. As an aside, I have noticed while watching EPL games that the EPL ARs signal goal kicks when perpendicular to the top of the goal area.

Another reason to challenge this convention is that due to a shortage of referees, many refs are pressed into service to handle multiple games a day. A referee who wishes to follow the proper procedures finds himself running needlessly all the way to the corner to indicate each goal kick, even on blasts that are taken from 30 yards out. While it might seem trivial to save 6 yards on every run down the touch line to indicate a goal kick, it would serve to save energy that is wasted unnecessarily in the desire to follow the customary procedures.

Answer (December 19, 2007):
We see no reason at all to challenge your instructor's statement that it is customary to stand at or very near to the corner flag. As your instructor said, the AR is expected to run each and every ball to the goal line, no matter how "certain" it is that it will either pass out of play or that the goalkeeper will get it before any opposing player does. The Guide does not give this guidance to the AR for ANY restart. Nowhere does the Guide specify this for either the referee or the AR, because where a restart is signaled is a function of positioning during the dynamic play which immediately precedes whatever event causes the restart.

Your point about consistency is actually apt -- though not for the reasons you suggest -- even though there is a major difference between fouls or misconduct and a ball passing out of play over the goal line. The AR must be at the place to indicate as closely as possible where the infringement will be punished or the restart will be taken. The only possible exception would be in the case of offside, which will often not be punished at a point perpendicular to the AR, but at a point farther back up the field. (Remember that the restart for offside is taken at the place where the player was when he or she was when the the ball was last played by a teammate, not where the ball was received or the player finally became actively engaged.)

What you describe as needless expenditure of energy is what we think of as doing the job right. If there is a shortage of referees, help out by doing some recruiting to make the job easier for you and your colleagues.

 


ACTION ALONG THE BOUNDARY LINES

Question:
Why aren't fouls called more often at touch lines or goal lines (within the field of play) in professional soccer? I regularly see players shielding the ball rolling to the line (to win a possession at the ensuing restart) being pushed or taken down from behind with an obvious shove or rough tackle by an opposing player. Sometimes the shove/tackle actually propels the player who is shielding the ball into the ball itself, causing the ball to cross the line more quickly! Despite this, more often than not, the contact is ignored.

I can understand if the referee prefers to believe that the ball had completely crossed the line (or was just about to) prior to the contact. Once the ball crosses the line and is out of play, the referee can simply award the throw-in, goal or corner kick to the victimized team. Perhaps also, I can understand a referee's reluctance to award a PK when this kind of contact takes place at the goal line in the PK area, for reasons that may have more to do with common sense than the letter of the LOTG. Yet, the same referee will blow the whistle and/or pull out a card for similar or even lesser contact elsewhere on the field.

I guess my point is that the failure to call fouls (or show cards) at the lines seems to invite a lot of cheap shots. I've seen this sort of thing happen time and again in both MLS and international matches and would have no difficulty compiling a video montage if I were so inclined (and had no life!). It's so common place that certain TV commentators, who might otherwise find no trouble finding lame excuses to berate the referees, usually have nothing to say about it.

So my question (yes, I do have a question, finally), is am I just imaging that cheap shots at the lines are being ignored, or am I missing somethingŠ or is there really something there needing to be addressed? As a referee of youth games, I try to watch and learn from the pros. But in this regard, I feel disinclined to emulate the professional referees. Professional players expect to take their lumps perhaps, but youth players are a different matter.

Answer (December 19, 2007):
We cannot speak for the individual decisions made by referees at any level. After the duty to ensure the players' safety, the second prime criterion for match-management decision making is that the referee must use his or her brain and form an opinion on each of the thousands of acts that occur during that game. Their decisions must be based on the level of play, the skill of the players, the way the game is being played from the first kick-off (or even before it kicks off) and the circumstances under which the particular act has occurred. While the referee must take care during every moment of every game, there is one rule of thumb that most players and the referee can agree on: The higher the level of play and the accompanying level of player skill, the more freedom the players expect and are granted; the lower the level of play and skill, the less the players, coaches, spectators, and thus the referee will tolerate.

We might add only that our soccer experience (well over 100 years among those of us involved in answering your question) does not mirror yours regarding jostling, etc., at the boundary lines. Some, yes, but not all and not all that often.

 


DEALING WITH COACHES' ATTEMPTS TO INFLUENCE YOU

Question:
Blue coach has substitutes on the halfway line ready to enter the game. Ball goes out of touch in blue's favor but before AR can signal to the CR that blue wishes to sub, the blue player steps up and takes a quick throw in. Under sceanrio 1, CR allows play to continue upon which the blue coach protests that his subs weren't allowed to enter the game as he intended. Under the second scenario, CR recognizes his error, stops play to allow the substitution, upon which the blue coach protests that the CR has taken away the advantage that his player gained by taking the quick throw.

For a typical youth game, which decision do you consider to be correct?

Answer (December 19, 2007):
There is one big lesson to be learned here, but let's save that for last.

In your first scenario, you lay the blame on the AR, who has not signaled soon enough to indicate that a substitution is necessary. At this, the coach begins objecting and protesting that his team didn't have its chance for a substitution because his own player took the throw-in too fast. Who can worry about a team that doesn't let its own players or that has players who are too slow to recognize that a substitution for their side is about to happen?

In the second scenario, you blame the referee for making an error -- which was not an error by the officials at all -- as a consequence of which the coach begins objecting and protesting. Actually, in one sense it could be considered an error by the referee, who stopped a perfectly legitimate restart for no good reason.

For a typical youth game, or for any game at all for that matter, pay no attention to what coaches say. Coaches have absolutely no authority in the game, but they will work the referee for every bit of advantage they can milk from any situation. The players make the decision as to when they will restart -- unless otherwise instructed by the REFEREE, not the coach. Do what you have to do and live with it.

 


PROTECTING THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF PLAYERS

Question:
[An instructor asks:] Can the referee prevent a youth player from continuing to participate in play, or return to play, after he has suffered an apparent concussion? I am looking for a general guideline from a referee's position.

The California Youth Soccer Association-South "Rules and Regulations" state:
2.5. Player Safety
2.5.1. No player should be allowed to play in any regularly scheduled league or tournament game with an injury which can be aggravated by playing or which constitutes a danger to others. Can the referee prevent a youth player to continue to participate in play, or return to play, after he has suffered an apparent concussion? I am looking for a general guideline from a referee's position.

I will follow up with Cal-South for an elaboration, e.g., does the referee have authority to enforce this rule, and why is the word "should" used instead of "shall". And how does the referee judge if the injury can be aggravated, etc.

p.s. - it would be fantastic if one could do a search on ALL of the "Ask A Referee" articles, without opening each archive and repeating the search. That way I would know if you had touched on this before.

Answer (December 19, 2007):
1, The first portion of this answer repeats an answer of September 27, 2006:

In reading this answer, please remember that the U. S. Soccer Federation has no authority over games not played under its aegis, nor over the referees who officiate them.

Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has no direct authority to prevent a player from participating for unspecified reasons. While the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players, it does not give the referee the right to prevent the further participation of a player who has been treated for injury and cleared to play by a trainer or medical doctor. The only possible reason would be that player was still bleeding or had blood on his or her uniform.

If there is a trainer and/or medically trained person officially affiliated with the team or the competition authority (including, where relevant, the tournament), the referee should defer to that person's decision as to whether a player's return to the field following a serious injury would be safe. In the absence of such a person, the referee retains the authority under the Law to determine if a player is still seriously injured and, if necessary, to stop play and to require that player to again leave the field. The Law does not allow the referee to prevent the return of the player to the field, but once play resumes with that player on the field, the referee reverts to his or her original duty to stop play if, in the referee's opinion, the player is seriously injured. As always, the referee must use common sense in making such a potentially controversial decision and must include full details in the match report. 

Once the player has been required to leave the field, the referee remains in complete control of the situation by virtue of the fact that the player cannot return until and unless he or she receives the permission of the referee -- simply withhold it if you are convinced the player remains seriously injured. It takes courage to do this but, if the referee is certain of the state of the player, so be it.

For additional information on this matter, see the USSF position paper "Handling Injuries," dated October 12, 2007.

2. As to searching for old answers, many have tried and none has succeeded in finding a way to search the archives.

 


SEND-OFF AT HALFTIME

Question:
The scenario is the Referee blows the whistle to indicate the first half of the match has ended. During the half-time break, a send-off offense occurs by a member of Team A. The Referee shows the red card to the Team A member.

Let us say that the Team A member who was shown the red card was a player at the end of the half. Must Team A play one man short in the second half? You may ask, "did the offense occur on or off the field of play". Please answer both of those scenarios if the application of the Laws is different for each.

I believe that if the Team A member was a substitute or substituted player, then Team A does not play short one man the second half.

In youth matches where there is no official scorer or fourth official, the Referee may not be able to determine if the Team A member that was sent-off was a player or substitute.

I reviewed the 2007 Laws of the Game, Advice to Referees and Q/A, and did not find this addressed, though I admit I could have missed it.

Thanks for this forum, as I always enjoy and learn a lot from you.

Answer (December 10, 2007):
It makes absolutely no difference whether the sending-off offense was committed on or off the field of play. If the person sent off at halftime was a player at the end of the half, the team plays short in the second half (or, in extra time, in the next period). If the person sent off was not a player at the end of the half, the team does not play short.

This is not covered in the Laws because it would not be a problem in higher-level games. They KNOW who is in the game and who is not, because there is none of the constant shuttling of players in and out of the game that we see in competitions that permit it. It's not covered fully in the Advice to Referees because we expect the referee and assistant referees (and fourth official, if there is one) to know who was in the game at the end of the half. In the game of soccer played under the Laws of the Game, there is no "scorer" to keep track of these things; we don't explain the rules for those competitions, as they are not affiliated with the Federation. If the officiating crew cannot determine that the person was in fact a player at the end of the period, then the team does not play short. See Advice 5.17 for part of your answer.

5.17 DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER THE GAME Misconduct committed by a player or a substitute prior to the start of the match, during the match, and during breaks between playing periods is subject to a formal caution or a send-off, as appropriate. Yellow and red cards, which are now mandatory indications of cautions and send-offs, may be shown only for misconduct committed by players, substitutes, or substituted players during a match. "During a match" includes:

  1. the period of time immediately prior to the start of play during which players and substitutes are physically on the field warming up, stretching, or otherwise preparing for the match;
  2. any periods in which play is temporarily stopped;
  3. half time or similar breaks in play;
  4. required overtime periods;
  5. kicks from the penalty mark if this procedure is used in case a winner must be determined.
  6. the period of time immediately following the end of play during which the players and substitutes are physically on the field but in the process of exiting.

Cautions issued prior to the start of the game or during breaks between periods are recorded and they are counted for purposes of sending a player from the field for receiving a second caution during the match. To prevent misunderstandings, the referee should inform officials of both teams before the first period of play begins of any cautions or send-offs occurring prior to the start of the match.

If a player or substitute is cautioned or dismissed for misconduct which has occurred during a break or suspension of play, the card must be shown on the field before play resumes.

If a player is dismissed before the match begins, the player may be replaced by a named substitute, but the team is not allowed to add any names to its roster and its number of permissible substitutions is not reduced.

Players or substitutes who have been sent off may not remain in the team area, but must be removed from the environs of the field. If this is not practical because of the age or condition of the player, the team officials are responsible for the behavior of the player or substitute.

There can be no "temporary expulsion" of players who have been cautioned, nor may teams be forced to substitute for a player who has been cautioned.

Postgame: Any misconduct committed by players or substitutes after the field has been cleared must be described in the game report and reported to the competition authority. The referee may display cards as long as he or she remains on the field of play after the game is over. Referees are advised to avoid remaining in the area of the field unnecessarily. (However, see Advice 5.13.)

 


THE NEW UNIFORM DESIGN

Question:
I know this is probably the wrong venue for this question -- however, maybe you could forward this and post this somewhere for us. What is the deployment plan for the new uniforms? What will be the primary color? How long will the transition period be?

Answer (December 7, 2007):
The new uniforms feature a redesigned shirt and socks, as well as a new color option with green being added to the array of gold, red, blue and the traditional black. Referees will have three options on the type of sock they will wear during competitions. The new sock is embroidered with "U.S. Soccer Referee" on the foot of the sock, but referees are also permitted to wear the three white-stripe sock or the black sock with the old U.S. Soccer Referee Department logo, as both are still USSF-approved.

In the future, OSI will only sell the new uniforms, but the old striping pattern is still USSF-approved and acceptable to wear during games. In youth and adult amateur games, it is also acceptable for the crew to wear a combination of new and old uniforms. Referees are encouraged to purchase the new uniform when replacing their old version as the updated stripe pattern will be become the official referee uniforms of U.S. Soccer. However, there is no need to buy new uniforms until the old ones wear out.

As to primary color, see page 34 of the USSF Referee Administrative Handbook. Gold is listed as the primary color so that referees who buy only one jersey know what color to purchase. The other colors, red, blue, black, and green are simply alternative colors. However, there is no requirement that referees must wear the gold jersey for every game in preference to all the others. If all officials have other jerseys and all can wear the same color and not be in conflict with the teams, they may wear other colors.

 


NEW UNIFORMS 2

Question:
In trying to give parents of our young referees some ideas for Christmas, I was going to offer the suggestion of a second color jersey.

Yellow is "primary" but in your opinion (or perhaps it's written somewhere), what is the succession of other colors a referee should have. I've understood it to be black, then red, then blue (and, now I see in Official Sports, the color green -- as they wore on the MLS finals).

Answer (December 7, 2007):
There is no order of succession. Referees are required to have the gold jersey (see below), but are free to wear whichever shirt they like, provided (1) it does not cause a color conflict with one of the teams and (2) each member of the crew wears the same color and sleeve length. It is perhaps best to see which colors most referees in your area have. That would prove more economical in the long run.

For those who delve further: The order given in the Referee Administrative Handbook (RAH) is solely one of convenience; it reflects the order in which the new jerseys were introduced, and has no other, more significant meaning. "Primary" in the RAH means only that the gold jersey is one that every referee must have, as it is least likely to conflict with player jerseys. It does not mean that referees must wear it in preference to the other colors.

 


THE "RIGHTS" OF THE OFFENDING TEAM AT A RESTART

Question:
A common issue continues to come up in games. The issue revolves around the ceremonial restart after a foul is called. The common misperception is that the defense has the right to a whistle by the referee prior to restart if they choose to build a wall. Furthermore, it is the understanding of most players, that if one of them stands in front of the ball so as to require the referee to tell him to move. That this automatically givs them a dead ball situation and ample time to set the wall.

There are 3 reasons for a signal required before a free kick restart, if my understanding is correct:

  1. If a card is issued
  2. If an injury has taken place
  3. If the OFFENSE request a wall relocation.

Otherwise it is the offense's right to put the ball back in play immediately. As a referee I am aware of this, and there have been numerous discussions about this at meetings and clinics and the logical position is that the defense should not gain an advantage by commiting a foul. Problem is that the players never see this info and TV games further confuse the matter, in that pro players know how to get a signal restart, and the announcers rarely infuse it in their commentary, thus creating the impression a whistle is required any time there is a wall situation. Could you please confirm/elaborate on this issue briefly for us so we can make the info available to Team representatives.

Answer (December 7, 2007):
You will find all anyone, even players and coaches, could possibly care to know about this matter in the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game," which you may purchase (or view online) at ussoccer.com. The pertinent portions of the Advice are 13.1-13.4. Thousands of other referees have taken advantage of this opportunity. Your group could be next.

Normally, we instruct referees to allow the kicking team to take the kick quickly, if they wish, without interfering with it. However, if, in the opinion of the referee, the defenders are too close to the kick, he or she should avoid playing into the defenders' hands and becoming an unwitting player on their team -- the referee has done the work of the defense by delaying the restart of play and has not made the defenders pay any price for this benefit. Once the referee has decided to step in to deal with opponents who are too close to the kick, the threshold for a caution has been met.

The defending team has only two rights at a free kick:

  1. The right to retire immediately a minimum of ten yards away until the ball is in play, i. e., is kicked and moves. Any player who fails to do so runs the risk of being cautioned and shown the yellow card for failure to respect the required distance at a free kick, no matter what they may see in professional games.
  2. The right not to be diverted by the referee interfering with the action in other than a ceremonial free kick situation. This is what the referee is doing when he or she starts talking with the opponents -- even if saying nothing more than to back away -- or, worse, when the referee is actively engaged in being "the first brick in the wall" while still allowing the kicking team to kick whenever it wishes. The Advice lays out a fairly simple set of rules -- keep your mouth shut, unless you have to or are asked to step in -- in which case the free kick automatically becomes a ceremonial restart and the first thing out of the referee's mouth had better be an admonition to everyone that the free kick cannot now be taken without a signal by the referee. The kicking team has rights too: the right to a "free" kick, free of interference from the opponents and, if they wish to take the kick quickly, free from the interference of the referee. The referee cannot abdicate the responsibility to ensure that the free kick is indeed "free."

 


MAINTAINING THE REQUIRED DISTANCE

Question:
Indirect free kick for attacking team just outside the (opponents') penalty area. An opponent moves closer to the spot of the kick before it's taken and then he deliberately touches the ball with his handles. Ok caution, but retaken indirect free kick (for infraction law 13 - distance) or penalty kick (for handling)?

Answer (December 3, 2007):
We presume you meant that the opponent handled the ball rather than touched the ball with his handles (plus, we are not entirely sure where his handles would be).

What you describe is a classic example of the section in Law 5 that requires the referee to punish the more serious violation when a player commits two or more offenses simultaneously. Here, the opponent violated Law 12 by failing to retreat the required minimum distance (and compounded his offense by clearly interfering with the free kick). For this alone, the referee would stop play, caution the opponent, and restart by having the IFK retaken. However, the opponent also committed a foul by touching the ball with his hands after it had been put into play. For this alone, the referee would stop play, caution the opponent for committing a tactical foul if appropriate, and restart with a DFK (or, in this case, a PK if the handling occurred inside the opponent's own penalty area).

Given that the two infringements were committed at the same time, the referee should stop play, caution for the failure to respect the required distance, and restart with a DFK (or PK if the handling occurred inside the opponent's own penalty area). There is no issue of sending off the opponent for interfering with an obvious goal scoring opportunity because a goal cannot be scored directly from an indirect free 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. 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).

Submit your questions via e-mail to askareferee@ussoccer.org.

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