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July 2004 Archive (I of II)

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In the Copa America during play I am seeing the Referee wave his hand back and forth over his head. Is this a formal signal for "continue play" or what does this signal mean?

Answer (July 16, 2004):
It is not a formal signal that is recognized worldwide.


This circumstance came up at a meeting. By the referee who failed his up grade assessment off of his call. He didn't tell us what he called but gave us this scenario.

Attacker loses the ball and the defender gains possession of the ball. Defender looks up and has 2 attackers running at him so he turns around and kicks it as hard as he can across the front of the goal. 2nd Defender hears the keeper telling him to watch out and then sees the ball coming so he throws his hands up to protect his face. The ball glances off of his hands and goes out the touch line.

What would be the correct call?

Answer (July 16, 2004):
The correct restart would be a throw-in.


The june 29, 2004, response to the situation where the wind blows the ball back towards the goal and the keeper second-touches it, trying, without success, to prevent the ball passing into the goal, does not seem materially different from the q&a's to the lotg, law 12, item 11. here, the keeper played the ball to a teammate who kicks the ball at the goal and the keeper touches it, but does not prevent the ball passing into the goal. the touch becomes a passback, similar to the second touch situation. in the q&a the goal is scored. would you please explain why this is not an ifk situation with no goal scored like the goalkick/wind example?

Answer (July 15, 2004):
This can be explained quite easily. One situation (the goal kick) falls under Law 16, while the other (the pass to the goalkeeper) falls under Law 12. There is no advantage awarded for infringements of Law 16. The advantage is awarded ONLY for infringements of Law 12

TO REPEAT: All referees must remember that the advantage clause is applied ONLY FOR INFRINGEMENTS OF LAW 12 and not for infringements of any other Laws.


Law 7: The match lasts two equal periods of 45 minutes
Law 7: Allowance is made in either period for all time lost

Now comes a young referee who asks the question at a local meeting: if I add time to the first half, then to be certain that the second half is "equal" then the same amount of time must be added to the second half. The logic that the young official applied sure seems to fit so I went to the questions and did not find anything to pass on. So, have I been doing it wrong by keeping time lost separate from the competiion period lengths? I base this on watching upper level matches and rarely does the lost time in the first half match the second half (typically more lost time in the second half because of substitutions.)

Answer (July 15, 2004):
The young official's question is legitimate, but based on a false premise. The first reason the premise is false is that the requirement to give teams the full number of minutes suitable to the competition for each half does NOT mean that the referee should make the second half precisely equal to the first half in gross overall length. The requirement for 45 (or whatever number of) minutes means that the players should be given the full number, with allowance made for adding time for various stoppages and consequent loss of playing time that are not part of normal play. Many of the reasons for stoppages in play and thus "lost time" are entirely normal elements of the game. The referee takes this into account in applying discretion regarding the time to be added. The main objective should be to restore playing time to the match which is lost due to excessively prolonged or unusual stoppages. The second part of the false premise is that the amount of time lost in one half will be the same as in the other, which will never happen.


I coach a U18 girls team. At our last game our team was awarded a free kick just outside our 18 yard box. As our player approached the ball to take the kick, an opponent standing to her right (within 10 yards) moved in front of her and when she kicked the ball it struck the opponent and rebounded to the opponent's teammate - a shot was taken but narrowly missed. There was no call. I don't like to say things to the refs from the sideline, but I did say, "what about 10 yards"? The assistant referee said, "have your players ask for 10 yards if they want it". Later my players told me the ref told them, "you have to ask for ten yards." This seems to be a trend in our area - to require the team with the kick to ASK FOR 10. This in my opinion is a direct violation of Law 13, interrupts the flow of the game and gives the opponent an advantage not in the spirit of the game. From Law 13, "If when a free kick is taken, an opponent is closer to the ball than the required distance: the kick is retaken." Also, to fail to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a free kick is a cautionable offence and the offender is shown the yellow card.

I am also a referee and I am increasingly dismayed at players encroaching on 10 yards and being very surprised when I give them a yellow card for not moving the required distance from the ball. Am I missing something? What say you?

Answer (July 15, 2004):
The referee is under no obligation to stop the kicker from kicking the ball at a free kick, no matter where the opposing players are positioned, particularly if the kicking player has seen that the opponent is encroaching. Both teams are expected to abide by the requirement to get the ball back in play. All referees should encourage and allow quick free kicks, particularly if that is what the kicking team wants to do. At all free kicks the referee should back away, watch what happens, and intervene in quick free kick situations where an opponent closer than the minimum required distance actively makes a play for the ball (as opposed to, luckily, having the ball misplayed directly to him). The referee must have a feel for the game, how it has been going, how it is going now. That "feel" must be applied to each and every situation individually. There is no black-and-white formula to follow.

Under the Law, the offending team is required to back off at least 10 yards from the spot of the ball immediately. Most do not. The referee should stop the restart process only if it is clear that the kicking team either does not want or cannot take a quick kick. Section 13.3 of the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" tells us that "The referee should move quickly out of the way after indicating the approximate area of the restart and should do nothing to interfere with the kicking team's right to an immediate free kick. At competitive levels of play, referees should not automatically "manage the wall," but should allow the ball to be put back into play as quickly as possible, unless the kicking team requests help in dealing with opponents infringing on the minimum distance." However, the referee cannot abdicate the responsibility to ensure that the free kick is indeed "free."

Finally, this is the way things should be done at competitive levels of play (which one would presume U18 girls coached by a referee would be). Only at a much younger level might the referee step in on his own initiative, unasked, to enforce the required distance and then only if it was clear from the body language that the kicker was perplexed by opponents being too close.


One official in the middle, one supervising the kick, one on the goal line (line judge).
1) Ball gets kicked over the goal, obvious no goal. No signal?
2) Ball is kicked into the back of the net, obvious to all its a goal. Supervising official points to the center circle?
3) Ball is kicked and apparently saved, but it has crossed the goal line. Line judge raises the flag straight up in the air to signal ball has crossed the goal line. Supervising official points to the center circle then line judge drop the flag?
4) Ball apparently goes into goal, but line judge sees it has not crossed the goal line. AR signals nothing. What signal if any does the supervising official give?

Answer (July 14, 2004):
These are kicks from the penalty mark, not part of the game, and therefore the referee need not signal for a goal in the same way that he would signal if the goal occurred during regular play. There is no need for any referee signals for goal/no goal in the case of kicks from the penalty mark.

In potential dispute situations such as described in 3 and 4, the mechanics need be no different than what the officiating team would use in the case of a penalty kick. The officials should follow whatever procedure the referee wants and covers in the pregame.


U-12 Girls Premier level match: forward strikes gk on upper body with her forearm cast (which is padded) after gk takes possession of ball. The referee speaks to offending player and tells her he will return with a card as play continues for another 15 or 20 seconds. When ball goes into touch, referee shows the yellow.

Player remains in the match. What technically correct options were available to the referee? Would a ruling of ineligability have been proper, given that the cast, having been used improperly in the commission of a foul, is now dangerous equipment?

I am very much interested in the law and logic you would apply in this situation.

Answer (July 10, 2004):
There is no magic in the logic, and Law 4 is quite clear on the matter: The safety of any item worn by a player is solely in the opinion of the referee, who should inspect all players before the match. However, simply because an item appears safe before the match starts does not mean that it remains safe throughout the match, particularly if it is misused by a player. That would be the case in the situation you provide.

After the player is cautioned-possibly too light a sentence, given the action you describe-the player should be removed from the match until she removes the cast whose use has endangered another player. If she is unable or unwilling to do that, then she may be replaced by a substitute, if there are any available. If not, the team will play short.


In a game I was playing in, this kid had been cheap shotting me all game, on one play he slid fom behind and took me out, I got up and pushed him in retaliation and asked him what his prblem was. The ref appropiately gave me the yellow for retalliation but gave the kick to them. I asked him why it wasn't our kick and he said it was because my foul was more severe even though he already called the foul on him. Is that correct? Shouldn't it still be our kick with me deserving a card for retalliation? Thanks for the help!

Answer (July 7, 2004):
Yes, the referee should have awarded the free kick to your team, as it was you against whom the foul was committed. The referee should then have cautioned and shown you the yellow card for unsporting behavior and restarted with the direct free kick for your team.

What you did was not a foul, as the foul had already been committed by your opponent. You committed misconduct in retaliation for the foul.


In a recent game where the home team (U15G) was getting frustrated, the coach yelled out toward the center ref (me) "They're mocking our girls" to which the opposing GK responded back to the coach "Shut up." I was aware of no chatter going on within the pitch so i stopped play and gave a firm talk to the GK about her response. as i was approaching her, the home coach shouted "Give her a caution" and said it again once i was complete with my conversation with her. the game had run generally smoothly to that point and the GK had displayed no attitude toward me or anyone else. So my question is: While a tad out of line to be yelling back toward the coach, the GK did not use profanity nor say anything else. Was a firm discussion with her within my bounds or should that have been an automatic caution for UB or DT? i should have had a discussion with the coach as well, but didn't. as always, your wisdom is appreciated.

Answer (July 7, 2004):
If you detected no "mocking" or similar activity on the field, then the player is not the one with whom you should have had a talk. Remind the coach that he or she has no authority at the field and is not permitted to do anything but offer encouraging comments to his or her team. If other activity persists beyond this reminder (warning), then you have no choice but to dismiss the coach for irresponsible behavior. No cards to the coach, please, unless the competition requires it.

And having a brief talk with the goalkeeper was not out of order since, though provoked, the goalkeeper should also not have become involved in a shouting match with the opposing coach.


If a referee shows two yellow cards to a same player by mistake and only realises after the completion of the match, what will be fate of that particular player?

Answer (July 7, 2004):
The referee must include full details of the mistake in the match report. The eventual fate of the player is up to the competition authority.


How far off of the field should non participants be kept ? Is there a standard distance before one is considered off of the field or is it left to the referee to decide?

Answer (July 5, 2004):
There is no restriction in the Laws of the Game on the distance that non-participants must remain off the field. That is covered by the rules of the competition.


It states in the manual that a decision cannot be changed once play has resumed. My question, and this happened at a tournament recently. At the very end of a match a goal was scored but after a brief discussion with his assistant the referee denied the goal for the scoring player being offside. The defending team put the ball in play possibly without a signal from the referee. The referee then blew the whistle signafying the end of the match.

The team who lost the goal started arguing that the match wasn't restarted therefore the call could still be reversed based on a legitimate argument about keeper possession. I made the decision that the goal did not count because ending the match with the whistle is equivalent to restarting play anD you can't reverse the scoring of a goal once play has been restarted.

Was I right?

Answer (July 3, 2004):
The team that loses a goal will always want to argue the point. Without going into the merits of the referee's decision, which was probably entirely accurate, the game was restarted and then the referee blew the whistle to end the game. Game over, no goal.


During a pro-level game we see the ball passed back to the keeper as a routine to move the players and the play around, during a recent pro-level match this situation happened. What i would like to know is what i should do at the local level i. e., rec soccer up to adult amateur.

during a pass back to the keeper an attacker was challenging the keeper for the ball, the attacker was close enough to make a normal play for the ball, but the event unfolds like this, as the keeper gets the pass back the attacker charges to play the ball, as the keeper is getting ready to kick the ball away the attacker slide tackles the keeper and collects the ball up and makes a goal. the referee denies the goal and cards the attacker?

after looking at the replay the attackers cleats were up a little, no more than what we may or may not allow on say, someone other than the keeper.

i as a referee watch pro level games to stay ahead of what i belive kids will try to emulate on the fields, this one brought a health dose of reality to what if situation's because of too much tv.

after reading the laws its obvious the keeper had no possesion, because he couldnt handle the ball, in that situation what protection do we offer the keeper? say if the tackle was 100% clean and if it wasnt clean what should the punishment be? by not clean i am saying it wasnt dangerous but say more trifling none the less a foul.

Answer (July 1, 2004):
If the tackle was executed in accordance with the Law, then there was no foul and no reason to stop the game or caution the player. However, this is why Law 12 refers to tackles which are performed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force. It is the referee's job to sort these concepts out and apply them based on (among other things) the flow of the match and the skill level of the players.


I was Centering a GU10 tournament the other day and I noticed that a lot of players on both teams were heading the ball using the top of their heads..oh the pain in the faces. I advised 4 different players on correct technique during play directly following their headers. At half time. I asked both coaches to reinforce this technique with their players. The situation got better in the second half. My question is, would you call dangerous play if it continued and award an indirect free kick to the opposing team? The larger question is, what is the status of youth headers and its potential to be dangerous?

Answer (June 30, 2004):
Beyond the "Under-Tiny" level, the referee has no reason to lecture players on their skills, nor has the referee any authority to punish them for playing dangerously by heading the ball improperly. If a foul or misconduct occurs, the referee should punish it. If a player is not skillful, the referee can and may do nothing about it. In other words, it is not your responsibility and you should leave it to the coaches. If we don't want the coach to referee, it would be a good idea if we didn't coach.

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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