High level U15 girls national championship series preliminary match. To set the scene - Game is tied 0-0 in the second half. White goalie comes out to near 18 and makes a save. Ball comes loose and blue forward hits ball off goalie. Goalie jumps on ball outside the 18 and is called for handling. Goalie then proceeds to argue with CR for 30-45 seconds (I believe stating that she had control when the blue player hit the ball which is not what I saw or what the CR saw). CR does not issue caution and says after the game that "this was a high level state cup game and emotions were high" so she did not issue a caution (AR stated during game that he would have cautioned keeper).
With 4 minutes left in game and white winning 1-0, white keeper makes another save and trips blue player just inside the 18. CR blows whistle and issues keeper (who is still holding the ball) a caution.
After a short discussion with keeper, CR backs off and allows keeper to punt. After the game, CR states that caution was for dissent and that she would have just dropped the ball to the keeper and allowed her to punt and since there was not much time left, she just allowed the keeper to punt.
How should this have been handled?
Answer (April 21, 2009):
While we might agree with the referee's initial decision not to caution the goalkeeper for dissent because of the high emotional level of the game, we do not recommend allowing protracted sessions of "discussion" with any player. The referee should state her decision, take care of business (if any), and get on with the game. (And the AR should have kept his mouth shut unless speaking directly to the referee.)
The second decision raises three areas of concern.
- First, the caution for dissent may or may not have been correct, but if the referee saw it that way, then it was correct. We wonder if it should not have been for unsporting behavior (reckless play in tripping the opponent).
- The second area of concern is the possibility that there was an obvious goalscoring opportunity -- we don't have any details to determine one way or another.
- The third area of concern is the way the game was restarted -- or "continued," as a punt is definitely not a way to restart the game. A dropped ball is not possible. A punt is clearly an abomination. If the caution was for dissent, the only legal restart is an indirect free kick (not a dropped ball) for the opposing team where the goalkeeper committed the dissent. However, if the caution was for the goalkeeper tripping the opponent, then the correct restart is a direct free kick or, in this case, a penalty kick.
I had a strange situation come up this winter in indoor, but I suppose I could have seen it just as easily in outdoor, and couldn't find any written information.
Here's the situation: A ball is kicked to another player and the ball wedges itself between her legs, just above the knees. Everyone freezes for a second, and the player begins to hop down the field with the ball still trapped between her legs. After 4 or 5 hops, she let it fall and resumed dribbling as usual. I let it go, because I could think of no infraction that would include that occurrence. Did I make the correct no-call, or should I have made a call in this situation, perhaps Playing in a Dangerous Manner? What would you have done?
Answer (April 20, 2009):
This player has both played in a dangerous manner and committed unsporting behavior. Players are not allowed to "carry" the ball with any part of their body, neither the head not the shoulders nor their legs. Other than when the goalkeeper is in possession of the ball, at which time he or she cannot be interfered with, the ball must always be available for others to play fairly.
By keeping the ball between her legs, this player has placed both herself and others in danger; herself, because another player might decide to take a kick at the ball to dislodge it, and others, because they cannot play the ball fairly and might injure either her or themselves by trying to do so. She has also committed unsporting behavior by unfairly withholding the ball from play.
ATTEMPT AT SERIOUS FOUL PLAY
A game with older teenage boys. There is a breakaway of two attackers, running at full speed. At the 18 yard line the striker gives a glancing kick. The keeper kneels on the six and easily collects the ball. The other striker continues running at top speed, leaps into the air & lunges at the keeper, who is still kneeling & still holding the ball. The attacker's leg is extended, his cleats are up, and he is aimed at the keeper's head. The keeper ducks, & the attacker misses. In the opinion of the referee, if full contact had been made, as the referee believes was the attacker's intention, it would have excited the interest of the E-911 emergency ambulance, and indeed possibly the Grand Jury.
The referee is aware that the IFAB writes that any lunge at an opponent that endangers the opponent's safety should be sanctioned as serious foul play, but until now these examples have always been for cases where the tackle or lunge did in fact make contact.
As the attempt to endanger an opponent missed, and no contact was made, the referee is unclear how the Laws should be applied. In particular, do the Laws regard this instance as Serious Foul Play?
Answer (April 20, 2009):
Nowhere does the Law (including the Interpretations and Guidelines for Referees you refer to) say that there must be contact in the situation you describe. Look at the four violations of the Law that embody this view:
- kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
- trips or attempts to trip an opponent
- jumps at an opponent
- strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
In such a case the referee should have no doubt, no fear, no hesitance. Players who behave like the striker you describe MUST be sent off immediately for serious foul play. No debate, no dithering. Just do it!
Is it right to conclude that if I call or indicate an advantage, I MUST (regardless of the result or outcome) punish the defense and/or reward a free kick to the offense, provided that the advantage is within reasonable time?
Answer (April 20, 2009):
No, you would not be conclude this. You will find all you need on this matter in the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game":
Referees have the power to apply (and signal) the advantage upon seeing a foul or misconduct committed if at that moment the terms of the advantage clause (Law 5, 12th item) were met. Applying advantage permits the referee to allow play to continue when the team against which the foul has been committed will actually benefit from the referee not stopping play.
The referee must remember that the advantage applies to the team of the fouled player and not just to the fouled player. Soccer is a team sport and the referee is expected to apply advantage if the fouled player's team is able to retain or regain control of the ball.
The referee may return to and penalize the original foul if the advantage situation does not develop as anticipated after a short while (2-3 seconds). Referees should note that the "advantage" is not defined solely in terms of scoring a goal. Also, a subsequent offense by a player of the offending team must not be ignored while the referee allows the anticipated development of the advantage. Such an offense may either be recognized by stopping play immediately or by applying the advantage clause again. Regardless of the outcome of the advantage call, the referee must deal appropriately with any misconduct at the next stoppage, before allowing play to be restarted. (See also 12.27.)
NOTE: After observing a foul or misconduct by a player, the referee decides to apply advantage and within a second or so, the ball goes out of play across a boundary line. The referee may still penalize the original offense.
The referee may also apply advantage during situations that are solely misconduct (both cautionable and send-off offenses) or to situations that involve both a foul and misconduct.
The use of advantage as described in Law 5 is strictly limited to infringements of Law 12 -- both the section covering fouls and the later section on misconduct . Other offenses under the Laws of the Game (e. g., violating Law 15 on a throw-in, offside, "second touch" violations at a restart, etc.) are not subject to the application of advantage. As with any other infringement of the Law (e. g., the lack of corner flags, a whistle blown by a spectator, the illegal entry onto the field of a spectator), these are subject to a determination by the referee that the infraction is doubtful (uncertain that it occurred) or trifling (the infringement occurred but had no importance for the course of play). For example, if a ball comes onto the field of play from a nearby field, it is not necessary to stop play unless and until this "foreign object" actually interferes with play or causes any confusion for the players. Deciding not to stop play in such a case is not based on applying advantage but of following the time-honored principle embodied prior to 1996 in International Board Decision 8 of Law 5 (dropped in 1997 but still considered a core value in the Laws of the Game -- see the first paragraph of Advice 5.5, above).
Referees must understand that advantage is not an absolute right. It must be balanced against other issues. The giving of the advantage is not required in all situations to which it might be applied. The referee may stop play despite an advantage if other factors (e.g., game control, severity of a foul or misconduct, possibility of player retaliation, etc.) outweigh the benefit of play continuing. As a practical matter, referees should generally avoid a decision to allow advantage for fouls which happen very early in the match, for fouls performed in front of the team areas, or for misconduct involving violence unless the chance for a goal is immediate.
A common misconception about advantage is that it is about deciding if a challenge is a foul. On the contrary, that decision has already been made because advantage cannot be applied to anything which is not a foul (meaning a violation of Law 12). Advantage, rather, is a decision about whether to stop play for the foul. Accordingly, giving the advantage is "calling the foul" and thus it must be as obvious to the players as signaling to stop play.
Inconspicuous advantage signals are as much to be avoided as a whistle which cannot be heard. Likewise, however, using the advantage signal to indicate that something is not a foul or misconduct, or is a doubtful or trifling offense, is equally wrong.
In determining whether there is persistent infringement, all fouls are considered, including those to which advantage has been applied.
LEAVING THE FIELD TO AVOID OFFSIDE
Consider the following setup: An attacker is in an offside position on (or close to) the goal line. A team mate takes a shot from around 14 yards while the goalkeeper went out of the goal to challenge him. All defenders are behind the line of the attacker who has the ball.
1. The offside attacker (which has no defenders around him and is not interfering with or disturbing the goalkeeper) gets hit by the ball and the ball enters the goal. Even if the ball had not touched him, it is obvious that the ball would have still ended up in the goal.
Question: Should the offside position be called or should the goal be allowed? (By the book: call the offside - interfering with play because he touched the ball)
2. The offside attacker deliberately steps inside the goal to avoid the offside possition (no matter if he gets hit by the ball there). In this case the goal should be disallowed and the offside player cautioned for deliberately getting off the field without permission, right?
3. The offside player stumbles and falls beyond the goal line inside the goal (being hit otherwise by the ball), avoiding this way the offside position. What should be the call in this case? What if the player fakes (not so obviously maybe) a stumble and falls inside the goal avoiding this way the offside (supposing that this would be the only way to avoid being hit by the ball)?
Answer (April 20, 2009):
1. Offside. No one could say for certain that the ball would have entered the goal without the player's touch, no matter how much it would have appeared so.
2. No offside. Unless the referee believes otherwise, the player who enters the goal to avoid being involved in the play and does not touch the ball before it fully crosses the goal line and does not in any way prevent the goalkeeper from saving the shot has not interfered with play and should not be punished.
Furthermore, when an attacker leaves the field in order to demonstrate noninvolvement in active play for purposes of avoiding being declared offside, the Laws of the Game have traditionally recognized that this attacker has left the field "in the normal course of play" and should accordingly not be cautioned for this reason.
3. This decision can be made only by the referee on the game, taking into consideration what the referee has seen of play and the player thus far in the game.
In any event, whatever the attacker's motivation or method of entering the area of the goal, the fact is that this attacker did not make contact with the ball, did not interfere with play, and thus should not be declared offside.
COACHES HAVE NO AUTHORITY
On a free kick, a request comes from the coach to enforce the minimum 10 yard rule. Is this sufficient to bring the kick from the state of a QFK to a ceremonial free kick?
In the document "Free Kick and Restart Management" from the 2009 Referee Program Directives, there is a clause that a ceremonial free kick is to take place if the "attacking team" requests a CFK by asking the ref for enforcement of the minimum 10 yds.
This brings up a more interesting question: Is the coach, according to the rules, a member of the team?
Answer (April 20, 2009):
We realize this will come as a surprise to many coaches, but they have absolutely no authority in a game and cannot make requests of the referee, the assistant referees, or the fourth official (if there is one). They are not members of the team, but are either paid or unpaid advisers.
A free kick becomes ceremonial on any occasion when the referee believes that the kicking team is not interested in taking a quick free kick and wants the required distance to be established. Full details can be found under Law 13 in the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game."
THROW-IN TO FACE OF OPPONENT
The following two clips are generating a lot of discussion among some referee groups. The two clips are very similar and seem to have the same issues. How should the referee address these situations?
Answer (April 19, 2009):
Note for clarity in answer:
Situation 1 = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVAD8Zl5ngg&NR=1 (White throw)
Situation 2 = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewqy5EDrenw&NR=1 (Blue throw)
You indicate that these games are being played at college level. We could not possibly comment on how the game is officiated under NCAA rules, but, if these games were being played under the Laws of the Game, we could say several things about the acts of the throwers and the opponents and the officiating itself.
First, players at this level know the tactics of their opponents, especially of the throw-in specialists, and in these two games they were seeking to negate the thrower's skills by placing a player at a spot to interfere with the thrower's ability to gain distance. In addition, there is the added element of coaching: In the game (Situation 1) in which the White player throws the ball at the Blue player, one can clearly hear the coach telling the Blue player to "Move up, move up!" The coach is obviously asking his player to distract and impede the thrower.
Nevertheless, we cannot condone the tactics of the throwers in either situation. In both cases, the throwers have committed violent conduct and must be sent off. Note in Situation 1 that in the second throw-in the thrower elevates his throw so as to miss the Blue opponent, as well as a coach or other person advising the Blue player to cover his face.
Second, although it is not required at a throw-in, the referee and the AR could have been proactive and moved the player who was attempting to unfairly impede the thrower back the required two meters from the point of the throw-in. In the game where White throws at Blue, there is no infringement by the thrower. (The referee could, in addition to sending-off the throwers, have cautioned the opponents for unsporting behavior, but that would depend on factors not in evidence in these clips.)
We are puzzled by several aspects of officiating in the first situation: Play is stopped following the ball in the face. For what? If the whistle was blown for a "serious injury" to the opponent but the throw was deemed good and legal, then (a) the opponent should have been required to leave the field and the restart should have been a dropped ball. If play was stopped because the throw was deemed legal but striking occurred, then the restart (after a red card for the thrower) should have been a direct free kick. If play was stopped because the opponent failed to respect the required distance, only then could the throw-in be retaken but again the opponent should have been cautioned. (And it is likely that the opponent would have been struck in the face even if he had been the required distance away.)
in both cases, the matter should have handled in accordance with 15.8 of the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game":
15.8 THROW-IN STRIKES AN OPPONENT
A throw-in taken in such a way that the ball strikes an opponent is not by itself a violation of the Law. The act must be evaluated separately as a form of striking and dealt with appropriately if judged to be unsporting behavior (caution) or violent conduct (send off from the field). In either event, if deemed a violation, the restart is located at the place where the throw-in struck the opponent. If the throw-in is deemed to have been taken incorrectly, the correct restart is a throw-in.
On a throw in by the blue team, a blue teammate, with an opponent right behind him/her, in anticipation of the ball's receipt, turns just as the ball is thrown to a place behind and to the side, making contact with the opponent and "pushes off" the opponent with his/her body then runs onto the ball. The player does a "quick turn" with the clear intention of pushing off the opponent with the shoulder or body to seemingly gain an advantage. Comments? Is it all fair in love and soccer or is there a more nefarious element?
I asked my husband's niece who uses this play and she said that she is coached to do this. They want someone right behind them so they can use this tactic to their advantage.
Answer (April 17, 2009):
Turn about is NOT fair play in this case. If this happens before the ball is released, the throw-in, if subsequently completed, is taken again and the thrower's teammate should be warned not to repeat this action. If he or she persists in this behavior, the correct remedy is to caution the player for unsporting behavior and retake the throw-in. If this happens after the ball is released, stop play and restart with a direct free kick for the opposing team from the place where the infringement occurred.
COACHES MUST BEHAVE RESPONSIBLY
I was doing U13 boys Premier League game where I was the center referee. Early in the game I called a PK on a player for pushing the attacking player down from the behind. No cards were given out as the ball going to go over the goal line and both players did not have any chance to get the ball. The coach for the team that was defending was very up set let me know that is normal play and part of the game. At that time I did not let his comments get to me. Later on he was up set again on a non call for a hand ball in the box that the other team scored on. His comments only seem to get louder as the first have went on. At some point I made it a point to talk to him and let him know the he was upset with my calls and is attempt to carry on this way was not going to change anything. I understood he was mad so let's get on with game and he only continues on with his dissatisfaction of my calls. I asked him to let it go or I was going ask him leave which was the end result. He left the area at that time but later worked his way back over by team behind the fence to coach his team. At half time I told him he would have to leave the stadium or I would not restart the game he told me he was not going leave and demand I show him where it says that in the book. At that time I tried to let him know if he would not leave I would call in the Police to have them remove him. So he called me on my buff. So I call the Police to remove him. I did this in attempt to regain control of his other coach and his players who where begging make comments in the first and I didn't want to toss any one else out. So the big question is did I go too far with calling of the Police to have him removed or was there something else I could have done?
Answer (April 15, 2009):
You have the authority to take whatever actions are in the best interests of the game, by which we mean the game of soccer, not just for this day and these players, but for all the games to be played in the future and for all players and referees. Law 5 tells us that the referee may take "action against team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and may, at his discretion, expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds." The Law requires that the coach leave the vicinity of the field and take no further part in the match.
Because the coach did not fulfill that requirement and continued to act irresponsibly, you had at least two options. Our preference would have been to simply terminate the match if the coach did what you described. We believe calling the police should be reserved for situations which go beyond refusing to leave and involve issues of safety. After all, the Law and supporting tradition do not require actual departure from the entire facility (grounds, park, etc.) but merely "out of sight, out of sound" and that is not really something that a police authority could impose. Further, what is to prevent the person from coming back after the police presence is gone?
Only you can know whether or not the call to the police was correct. We weren't there and cannot evaluate the coach's actions from here. In all events, we hope you provided the competition authority a full report on the coach's actions and the disciplinary action you took in return.
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 Paul Tamberino, Director of Referee Development; 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.