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June 2005 Archive (I of II)

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An assessor last evening suggested that when signaling for a goal kick, I should hold the flag in the hand away from the referee, the hand closer to the goal line, rather than the hand closer to and most visible to the referee. I was taught, admittedly a LONG time ago, the other way. The flag is always in the hand closer to the referee. Where does one go about finding out the current policy/position on these details?

Answer (June 13, 2005):
The Federation recommends carrying the flag in the hand nearer to the referee while running the line, but for signaling there is no policy other than common sense. Shame on the assessor for making a big deal out of it.

If holding the flag in the "wrong" hand to give the signal means better visibility (to aid you in further assisting the referee), then do it that way. There is no "official" policy on which hand to use for signaling.


If a player is cautioned for Impeding a Thrower during a throw-in, is the restart still a throw-in or is it at Direct Free Kick?

Answer (June 13, 2005):


This question was raised at our last meeting. A player was not sent off after being given a second caution. Player then scores! Referee team sees their error.

We all agree that the player is now sent off, but....
Does the goal stand? what is the restart? When did the player stop being a player? become an outside agent? In addition to getting to your car quickly; what actions does the Referee take?

Answer (June 13, 2005):
As long as the situation was brought to the referee's attention during the game, the decision to send off and issue the red card to the player is correct. The player stops being a player only after he or she is sent off, so does not become an outside agent at all. Fortunately in this case (because play had not restarted after the goal), the referee's error has not cost the opposing team a goal. The goal should not be counted scored. The referee should restart with a goal kick for the opposing team.

If the mistake is not discovered until some time after the restart, the goal will still count and the player who should have been removed must now be sent off.

If it was not the player who should have been sent off who scored, the goal still counts, but the player who should have been removed must now be sent off.

If the player who should have been sent off is not discovered until after he has been substituted, then that now-former player is shown the red card and the team must play down by removing the player who had come in as the substitute.

The referee must include full details of this serious error in the match report.


I was AR in a competitive U-14 game in a tournament this weekend. During the halftime interval, one of the teams changed shirts - they wore blue in the first half and white in the second. Weather and wet jerseys was not an issue. Neither the referee nor the opposing team was informed of the change. We were puzzled by it and speculated that gamesmanship was probably involved (the team concerned had played poorly in the first half but was still tied 0-0 with the other team), but nobody seemed unduly concerned.

Should we have prevented the team changing the color of their shirts at half-time? Would the views of the opposing coach have carried weight in our decision if she had objected?

Answer (June 6, 2005):
A team may not change uniforms at halftime without good cause, such as severe wetness and cold weather. In this case, the change is a form of gamesmanship and is not allowed.

There is no need to caution the players, as this is a matter of coaching, not play on the field. The referee should include full details in the match report. In no event should the views of the opposing coach have a bearing on any decisions made by the referee.


I was ref on a game between two teams with an intense rivalry. The out of town team was playing at a higher level, and had managed to run up 6 goals against the home team, who gave the impression they were very frustrated.

I would like a review of one call I made. In this case, a player from the home team had entered the opponents Penalty Area and was driving an attack on the goal. He was in position clearly to score a goal, when two defenders came in and basically smashed him between themselves, taking him off the ball. The attack seemed coordinated (i.e., the defenders intended to do this.)

I whistled the foul, and called it as a push under Law 12, since it pushed the attacker off the ball, and awarded a PK under Law 14. Apart from sending off the two offenders for DGF, did I call this right? If not, what should the call have been?

Answer (June 1, 2005):
Taking your question at face value and the words literally (such as "smashed"), there is only one answer: The foul goes beyond denying the opponent a goal or a goalscoring opportunity. Send off both defending opponents for serious foul play and restart with a penalty kick.


Here's the scenario: ADVANCED level of play. Player going straight at goal. Player has beaten the defense by a couple of steps and is going at goal, keeper gets position and forces player to change angle of attack and ball is now NOT within playing distance (close) and not going at goal. Keeper collides with player, they both go down and the defense is on the ball instantly. PK? PK and SO? Cold beverage and think about it?

Answer (June 1, 2005):
There are several very important factors here: The 4 Ds must be present and obvious:
- Number of Defenders -- not more than one defender between the foul and the goal, not counting the defender who committed the foul
- Distance to goal -- the closer the foul is to the goal, the more likely it is an obvious goalscoring opportunity
- Distance to ball -- the attacker must have been close enough to the ball at the time of the foul to have continued playing the ball
- Direction of play -- the attacker must have been moving toward the goal at the time the foul was committed
If any element is missing, there can be no send off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.

The final factor is whether the referee deemed the collision to be a foul, rather than fair play. If a foul, then the goalkeeper has denied the opponent a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity. Send off the goalkeeper, showing the red card, and restart with a penalty kick.

It makes no difference which direction the ball is going, the fact remains that the attacking opponent was moving toward goal.

Afterwards you may rest and reflect while partaking of a cold beverage.


I'm a little confused when it comes to applying advantage in certain situations. Attacker #1 dribbles into the penalty box, where he is tripped by a defender...a clear penalty kick. The ball rolls straight to Attacker #2 though, who is all alone and takes a shot. Obviously, if he makes the shot, I'd apply advantage and score the goal. But what if the shot is saved by the goalie? Do I rule that advantage never materialized, and call for the PK? Would that answer change if A2 shanked the kick badly and it went out of bounds?

Answer (June 1, 2005):
Advantage on fouls committed by defenders inside their own penalty areas is treated slightly differently than for fouls outside the penalty area. Remember, if play is stopped, the restart is a penalty kick, which, while not a sure thing, is a frequent producer of goals. As referee, you should avoid signaling advantage inside the penalty area--if as an immediate next event after the foul a goal is scored, the soccer gods have been just. Count the goal, deal with any misconduct that might have been related to the foul, and restart with a kick-off. If a goal is NOT the immediate next event, stop play for the foul, deal with misconduct (if any), and restart with the penalty kick.

Do NOT wait to see if the ball is going to a teammate of the player who was fouled before deciding on advantage. Your only wait is to see if the ball is going into the net. If you wait to see what might happen other than the ball going into the net, there is no good point at which to stop waiting. The ultimate advantage following a foul by the defense inside its own penalty area is a goal being scored right away. The next most advantageous outcome is having the penalty kick called.

If you choose to apply the advantage, even without giving the signal, you have only 2-3 seconds to change your mind. Use them wisely.


Recently in a tournament out of state, at the Under 16 age group, an opponent was dribbling the ball in a fast breakaway towards my next to last defender. He knocked the ball out several yards in front of him allowing my defender to have a fair attempt at this 50/50 ball. Just before the opponent player was to make contact (foot to foot) with my defender he turns his back to my defender. The opponent player slammed his back into my player and fell into the penalty are. The referee awarded a penalty kick to the opposition.

I remember a Board clarification from the last couple of years that states is a player intentionally turns his back towards an oncoming opponent, than that player turning his back should be charges with committing a dangerous play and the other team should be awarded an indirect free kick.

I felt that this rule should have resulted in my team getting an indirect kick going the other way, not the other team getting a penalty kick.

The referee official at the tourney headquarters said he had never heard of this clarification and I cannot find it in the Laws of the Game

Answer (June 1, 2005):
We are not aware of any "clarification" from the IFAB regarding turning one's back on an opponent. Are you sure you are not thinking of high school or some local rules of competition?

As you describe the situation, the foul would appear to have been committed by the player with the ball, not the defender. That would be punished with a direct free kick for the defender's team. This sort of foul is common in youth soccer, where some players jump into an opponent and, while doing so, turn their back. Since this essentially makes them an unguided missile, it highlights the danger of jumping at an opponent with the back turned.


I am curious to know what options are available given the following situation:
The offensive player makes a run to the opposing goal and kicks the ball to the goalie. The goalie gathers the ball and after two full steps intentionally runs into the player potentially an intimidation move. The player clearly wasn't at fault, but was just continuing his run at the goal. My first interpretation is that the goalie has control over his area, but in this case exceeded his personal space and took a little 'shot' at the offensive player. This could be a good case of talking to the keeper and giving a verbal warning. Let's say the keeper has done this a second time. Is this is a good case of a caution given with an indirect kick taken by the defensive team? I am not sure at what point, if any, that a penalty kick should be awarded to the offensive team if the goalie after maintaining possession of the ball commits a foul. Can you elaborate on this scenario.

I have discussed this situation with some other referees and received varying opinions.

Answer (June 1, 2005):
Intimidation is frequently only in the eye of the beholder. If the goalkeeper's actions take out the opposing player, the referee must distinguish between an unavoidable collision of two players attempting to play the ball and the possibility that one of them is actually "taking a shot" at the other. While there may be doubt on the first occasion, if it occurs again the referee's course is clear. Whether a caution is given or not, if the foul is called then the restart has to be a penalty kick.


My daughter recently attended an out of state tournament. The game went into kicks from the penalty mark. Here's my question: The goalies had just switched positions. The ball was placed on the mark. The players were in position but before the referee could blow the whistle, the player kicked the ball and the goalie made the save. Should the player be given another opportunity to kick the ball since the whistle was not blown or should that kick be recorded as is?

Answer (June 1, 2005):
The ball may not be put into play until the referee is satisfied that every player is in proper position and blows the whistle. The correct decision would have been to retake the kick from the penalty mark.


Corner kick situation. Attacking player shadows GK before kick is taken. Do I: (a) stop play, caution the attacker & proceed with the corner kick; or (b) allow the corner to be taken & caution the attacker at the 1st subsequent stoppage; or (c) negate the corner, issue no card & give an IFK to the defense. Any help would be appreciated.

Answer (May 30, 2005):
It is an offense if a player who is standing in front of a goalkeeper when a corner kick is being taken, takes advantage of the position to impede the goalkeeper before the kick is taken and before the ball is in play. The referee may either (1) act before the kick and warn the player not to impede the goalkeeper 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 goalkeeper's team from the place where the 'keeper was impeded.


A player on Team A (offense) and a player on Team B (defense) are going for the ball that is about to leave the FOP from the Penalty Area over the goal line. Before the ball goes out of play, the offensive player stops it on the goal line. Both players leave the FOP due to momentum. As the offensive player is returning to the field, but before he does so, the defensive player pulls him down from the shoulder. During the whole incident, the ball was still in play where the offensive player stopped it. What is the call? What is the restart if play is stopped?

Answer (May 26, 2005):
The offense is violent conduct or unsporting behavior by the player from Team B, depending on the amount of force the referee sees. The restart is a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped (keeping in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).


I was watching a high school game where a young lady received a red card in a high school game. She was sent off and removed from the field. However, at the next game she was not even allowed to sit on the bench with her teammates, even though she was not suited out. Is this right? Should she have been allowed on the bench with her teammates?

Answer (May 26, 2005):
Sorry, we do not answer questions based on high school rules. However, tradition dictates that the player not be on the bench while sitting out a suspension.

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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