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April 2005 Archive (II of II)

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During a match, near midfield there is a play on the ball by White 9 and Blue 8. During the challenge white 9 simulates a dive in attempt to draw a foul. Blue 8 wins the ball and proceeds to goal. The referee applies the advantage clause. Blue 8 shoots on goal and the goalie collects the ball. The referee now stops play and proceeds to move back up field to issue a caution to white 9 for diving. While he is issuing the caution, the keeper, who is still holding the ball, kicks out at blue 8 (this is a deliberate kick but not a malicious kick). This is noticed by the AR who raises his flag. There is a conference between referee and AR. The referee then . . .

What should the restart be? Where should the restart be? Should there be a sanction for the goalkeeper, if so what is it?

Answer (April 14, 2005):
The restart should be an indirect free kick from the place where the original infringement occurred. Why on earth would the referee have stopped the game to run back up field to punish non-dangerous misconduct? It would have been better to wait until the ball went out of play (for whatever reason) and then punish the misconduct.

The goalkeeper must be sent off for violent conduct and shown the red card. This could have been prevented by not stopping play to run back up the field. The intelligent referee will keep play moving along whenever possible. A busy player doesn't have as much time to get into trouble as an idle player.


Since the change to Law 13, "the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves", an occasional team has resorted to trickery to circumvent the following: " ... the kicker does not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player". It happens more often on corner kicks when the defending team is usually more than ten yards from the ball.

The first player sets the ball for a corner kick, taps it lightly so that it moves indiscernibly to opponents. The player then pretends to move away, leaving the ball for another teammate to take the kick. The second teammate approaches the ball and then starts to dribble it. All of this is legal, however it appears like trickery to circumvent the rules.

More often than not this causes one of the officials to think there has been an infraction. The ensuing interaction between official(s) and the team often results in more serious problems. Another problem occurs when the defending team is aware of this and treats every situation like this, then there can be failure to be ten yards away when an attacking team's second player thinks he really is the first player and was not trying to play this trick.

What opinion does USSF or FIFA have on this?

Answer (April 13, 2005):
The Law should be enforced as written--if, in the opinion of the referee, the player actually "kicked" the ball within the meaning of the Law, then the kick should be allowed. If not, then punish the kicking team by making them retake the kick. Under no circumstances should the referee caution any kicking team member for this, as has happened elsewhere than in your state.

As to kicking the ball within the meaning of the Law, your best reference is the Addendum to the Memorandum 1997 on the changes in the Laws:
General Note Regarding Restarts
"Memorandum 1997" discussed amendments to the Laws of the Game affecting all free kick, corner kick, penalty kick, and kick-off restarts. These amendments centered on the elimination of the ball moving the "distance of its circumference" before being considered in play. In all such cases, the ball is now in play when it is "kicked and moves" (free kicks and corner kicks) or when it is "kicked and moves forward" (kick-offs and penalty kicks). IFAB has emphasized that only minimal movement is needed to meet this requirement.
USSF Advice to Referees: further clarification from IFAB suggests that, particularly in the case of free kicks and corner kicks, such minimal movement might include merely touching the ball with the foot. Referees are reminded that they must observe carefully the placing of the ball and, when it is properly located, any subsequent touch of the ball with the foot is sufficient to put the ball into play. Referees must distinguish between such touching of the ball to direct it to the proper location for the restart and kicking the ball to perform the restart itself. In situations where the ball must move forward before it is in play (kick-offs and penalty kicks), there should be less difficulty in applying the new language since such kicks have a specific location which is easily identified.

This "touch" of the ball must be in a kicking movement, not simply a tap on the top of the ball.


During a top-level men's amateur game, Team A is leading 5:3 with about 15 minutes from time. With the ball on AR2's side of the field, and the ball being on the touch-line (half the ball was in-play and half was out-of-bounds), Team A's defender casually kicks the ball 30 yards out of bounds. The nearest Team B attacker 10 yards away and nobody pressuring him to play the ball.

I felt Team A's defender was trying to waste time in order to preserve his team's 2-goal lead and cautioned him for Delaying a Restart since it obviously took a few minutes to re-start play. This player also had an earlier caution for dissent and this was his second booking. Was I correct in cautioning for Delaying a Restart or, if a caution was to be given, should I have booked him for Unsporting Behavior for an act which shows lack of respect of the game (Citation: 7+7 Cautionable and Sending-Off Offenses: Professional Division Points System)

Answer (April 13, 2005):
No, you were not correct to caution him at all. He could not be cautioned for delaying the restart, as he was the one who caused the restart, not prevented its being taken. And his action was not disrespectful of the game, it is a traditional part of the game.

What you should have done was to speak loudly enough to him so that others on his team could hear you say, "I am adding time for that." And you could, of course, have reminded him that he was sitting on a previous caution. Somehow that helps keep players straight. Actually giving a second caution for this offense could be dangerous to your health, not to mention your control of the match.


My question concerns the proper procedure for the center ref to take if he/she feels that one of the ARs is calling too many offsides, that is, they are seeing offside infractions that the center does not feel are taking place, possibly from being overzealous to the point of trying to detect offside when the determining factor is a matter of inches and not feet. This question arose from a U14 girls match wherein play was dominant in one half of the field throughout the whole game. In the first half 2-3 offside calls were made against the red team by AR-2. Then within about 10-15 minutes into the second half, AR-1, who now had most of the play in their portion of the field, had signalled for offside approximately 5 times, with perhaps two or three of those calls being seen and seeming valid to the center ref. Some of these calls took the center ref completely by surprise, as he let play continue, unaware of the offside call further back toward the midfield, until other players spoke up about it. The center ref began to feel that the AR was sort of "splitting hairs" that in soccer terms might be considered trifling. The center ref, in themselves not seeing some of these offside infractions, began to feel that the flow of the game was being squelched by the AR's continual offside calls every few minutes. I would appreciate learning what would be considered the proper procedure for both the center ref and also for the AR in this situation.

Eventually the center ref asked the AR to hold back a little bit, and subsequently waved off two or three later offside calls, when it appeared that the AR had not changed their hairline standard of determining offside. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this question.

Answer (April 12, 2005):
Without going into a full review of what does or does not constitute offside and the job of the assistant referee, both of which are fully covered in the USSF publications "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" and "Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees," we might comment that this entire subject is best covered in the pregame conference among the officials. In the pregame conference, the referee can outline what he or she wants the ARs to signal and NOT to signal, keeping in mind the information in the Advice and Guide. In turn, the ARs can ask the referee for clarification on matters related to good game management. In no case should the AR insist on a decision by the referee or go against the instructions of the referee. Such an AR might well be relieved of his or her duties and reported to the appropriate authorities, as suggested in Law 6.


Situation 1: A parent on the sideline sounds a very loud foghorn after each time her son's team scores a goal. After the fourth goal, a player on the opposing team immediately shouts an obscenity in anger/frustration at the parent before the kick-off. The Referee immediately runs over to the player and issues a yellow card for unsporting behavior. Was this the correct action as the parent was not a player or substitute? Also as a referee, do we have the right to send off a parent if we feel her language/action is disruptive to the game, but it is not dissenting or abusive?

Situation 2: A player on the white team is dribbling up the touch line in front of his bench. A player from the blue team cleanly tackles the ball and takes out the white player while kicking the ball out of bounds. A substitute out of revenge picks up the ball and violently throws it at the blue player. The obvious call would be to send off the substitute, but would white have to play short a man since it was not a player on the field?

Situation 3: This is a question about referee procedure. I recently worked a game as an AR. I saw a player on the Red team legally shielding the ball with her body. A player from the Green team came up from behind to play the ball. The red team player then threw her elbow backwards in an obvious attempt to strike the green player. I waved my flag, but the referee's back was to me. I continued to wave until the ball went out of bounds and play was restarted at which point I understood it was too late to make a call. So, 1) was it right that the center referee did not speak to me when the play was stopped to see why I waved my flag. 2)How is an AR supposed to get the referee's attention if the referee's back is to the AR, should I have yelled, or run onto the field before the restart of play? 3)Should I have just waved my flag once then put it down when I didn't get the referee's attention? I understand it is the AR's job to "assist" not "insist," but I thought the play deserved a card.

Answer (April 12, 2005):
1. The correct punishment for the use of obscenity by a player is immediate dismissal and red card for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures. However, some proactive work by the referee could have prevented the act in question.

The referee has no actual authority over the spectators at a game unless they invade the pitch or interfere with the game in any way. If those spectators are disrupting the game and bringing it into disrepute through the use of tactics that are counter to the spirit of the game, such as actions clearly intended to taunt the opposition, the referee may inform that team's coach that the game will be suspended until the nuisance is removed and terminated if it is not removed. Full details will be included in the referee's match report.

2. The white team's substitute is sent off for violent conduct and shown the red card. The white team does not have to play short, as the substitute was not part of the team on the field.

3. If the red team's player attempted to strike the green player that is serious foul play, for which the red team's player must be sent off and shown the red card. If it is clear that the referee would have punished the act if he or she had been able to see it, the assistant referee should raise the flag and then wave it when the referee is looking toward him or her and, if the referee does not notice the flag within a reasonable amount of time, attempt in other ways to attract the referee's attention. The referee should cover this situation during the pregame conference with the assistant referees. While the AR might lower the flag in those instances where too much play has gone on after the flag was raised, this is not the case when serious misconduct is involved. While this particular case may have been only "attempted violence," it is still serious enough to bring to the referee's attention at the next stoppage.

What is likely more important is what the referee and the other AR were doing all this time. The TEAM of officials should be in CONSTANT COMMUNICATION with one another during the match. The referee should look at ARs for information, ARs should look at one another and at the referee.


At what level of play or age group can a Grade 12 referee ref up to?

Answer (April 11, 2005):
A Grade 12 is an Assistant Referee and can work only as an AR on any level game their experience prepares them for. Please note that a Grade 12 CANNOT be a REFEREE on any game--only an AR on those games they are competent to be an AR on.


We have a seven-year-old girl who is wheelchair bound, no use of the legs and partial use of one arm and full use of the other arm. She wants to play in the match.

We believe the wheelchair presents a significant hazard to all players and the referee. The girl cannot kick the ball, she can only hit it with the chair.

This wheelchair is capable of turning on a dime and moving in a straight line faster than any player that age can run. So far there have been no injuries but there have been some near misses.

Answer (April 11, 2005):
Safety of the players should always be the primary concern of referees, coaches, and administrators. The Federation firmly believes that all who wish to play should be given the opportunity, as long as there is no danger to themselves or to others. However, a wheelchair on the field is inherently dangerous to both the user and to other players. In addition, a wheelchair-bound player who cannot use her legs and must rely completely on mechanical means to play the ball cannot fulfill the requirements of the Laws of the Game.

This answer applies to matches which involve players who are not comparably handicapped. In short, the primary danger this player presents is to other players not similarly handicapped. A match in which all players were in wheelchairs might provide a reasonably acceptable level of safety.

NOTE: This answer was also sent to the asker's State Referee Administrator for further distribution.


I hope you can understand me, i dont speak english very good.

Question: when the match was finished,
Team A->8 players;
team B ->7 players.
They have to shoot 5 penalties in order to know what team win.

The referee say to Team A that they can be 7 players. Now, team A and team B have the same players. The captain of Team B, tells us that 3 players cannot shoot because they are injured.

Team A have to quit 3 players too?

Answer (April 10, 2005):
The principle you are asking about is called in English 'reduce to equate'. Introduced into The Laws of the Game in 2001, the principle ensures that teams begin the kicks with the same number of players.

You asked whether team A must reduce its numbers by 3, so that both teams would then begin the kicks with only 4 players. That is certainly legal, as the requirement for a minimum of 7 players does not apply to kicks from the penalty mark, because kicks from the penalty mark are not part of the game itself.

If, in the opinion of the referee, the team B players were truly injured before the game ended and they cannot participate in kicks from the penalty mark, then the referee will ask team A to reduce to 4 players. However, if the referee believes that the players on team B were not truly injured and that this is an attempt by team B to remove those players who are not good at penalty kicks, then the referee will instruct team B to continue with the seven players. (And, if the referee believes the 'injury' is feigned, misconduct would be considered. This would also require a report to the competition authority--i. e., league.) Once the kicks begin, players on either team who must leave because of injury will not cause a reduction in the other team.


Both teams are properly set for a penalty kick in regular time. (Not during time extended at the end of a half to complete the kick, and not during kicks from the mark tiebreaker.) The referee gives the signal to proceed, and the kick is taken. While the kick is moving forward, a defender violently strikes an attacker. What should be done? Obviously the defender should be sent off.

There has been debate over whether the PK must be retaken, under the provision that it was "not complete". Some have understood that "completeness" of a PK refers to extraordinary happenings which occur while the ball is still in the initial forward movement - outside interference or the ball bursting. Others say it applies to any aspect of play immediately after the kick is taken - including Law 12 violations - and that Law 14 says the kick must be retaken.

Can the wise referee allow play to continue for a short moment to see the outcome of the kick, and apply advantage and allow the goal if the ball scores? Or must the kick be retaken?

Answer (April 10, 2005):
Having been awarded a penalty kick, the 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, or a member of the defending team violently striking a member of the kicking team) means that the penalty kick was not "completed." Therefore, the penalty kick must be retaken after the referee sends off the defender who committed violent conduct.

In this situation, the intelligent referee will hesitate a moment before stopping play to see if the goal is scored. This ensures that the "injured" team is not unjustly deprived of the opportunity to score a goal. After all, even second bites at the cherry are not always successful.

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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