US SoccerUS Soccer

August 2008 Archive (III of III)


1) if there is a hand ball is it a direct or indirect free kick? how do you know when to call a indirect or direct kick? 2) if the goalie comes out of his area, and advances the ball to the opposite goal, and loses the ball, the defending team has the ball, how would you call that play as a linesman, would the last defender be consider a goalie? would the the forward be offside if he is in front of the last defender but the goalie is way on the other side of the field. this happened to me 2 weeks ago, i counted the goal but should i have?

Answer (August 26, 2008):
1) Let's get some terminology straight here. A "hand ball" means nothing in soccer. If you mean that a player deliberately handled the ball, that is a direct free kick foul. If the handling was not deliberate, then there was no foul, no matter that the player whose hand the ball hit may have "gained an advantage."

2) Only the goalkeeper can be considered the goalkeeper. Neither of the last two opponents between an attacking player and the opponents' goal must be the goalkeeper. No, you should not have counted the goal if there was only one opponent between the player and the goal line and the ball was played to that player. That player would have been in an offside position and thus offside (interfering with play) when his teammate played the ball to him.



Fully understand we must have a keeper but when is a keeper a keeper? Situation, keeper has mild injury and is being treated off the field momentarily. His team wishes to continue play stating they have a keeper, he is just temporarily off the field and they wish to play short until he returns.

Must a keeper be on the field and capable of participation to be considered the team's keeper?

note team has no more subs left per the rules of competition.

Answer (August 24, 2008):
There is no written requirement that the goalkeeper must be on the field of play at all times during the game. In fact, the IFAB Q&A of 2006 states: 20. During a match, the goalkeeper sprints from the goal to stop an opponent. He kicks the ball out of the field of play and a throw-in is awarded to the opposing team. The momentum of the goalkeeper takes him off the field of play and before he can return, the throw-in is taken and a goal is scored. What action, if any, should the referee take?
A goal is awarded since no offence has been committed.

However, it would be unusual for a goalkeeper to be treated for injury off the field of play, principally because the Laws provide specifically that the goalkeeper need not leave the field for treatment. One solution might have been for the referee to remind the team that one of the field players could temporarily act as goalkeeper -- after donning appropriate equipment.

As to rules of a competition, any referee who accepts an assignment to a tournament (or any other competition) also accepts the rules of that competition, no matter how alien they may be.



Ok, I am reffing a U12 game where a corner kick is to be taken. The player lining up to take the kick yells to his teammate that it is his kick to take. The teammate runs over but before he gets there the player touches the ball ever so slightly off the corner arc, which I took no notice of. The teammate approaches the ball and begins dribbling it towards goal instead of launching a typical corner kick. I whistle the play dead and award an indirect free kick to the other team. The coaches start yelling that the 1st player touched the ball, and this was a trick play they had worked on, within the rules. Could I have cautioned the 1st player for unsporting behavior?

Answer (August 22, 2008):
If "touched ever so slightly off the corner arc" mean that the ball was in fact displaced, i. e., "caused to go from one place to another" and therefore legally put into play, then there is no problem with this play. Yes, the referee still makes the final decisionr about whether the ball was put into play, but this should not include factoring in the referee's inattention to what is happening on the field.

In the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" (2008 edition, not yet available) you will find this excerpt, ATR 13.5, which deals with when the ball is in play. It also applies to corner kicks. (And to answer your specific question: No, you should not caution either of the players.)

The ball is in play (able to be played by an attacker other than the kicker or by an opponent) when it has been kicked and moved. The distance to be moved is minimal and the "kick" need only be a touch of the ball with the foot in a kicking motion. Simply tapping the top of the ball with the foot or stepping on the ball are not sufficient.

When the restart of play is based on the ball being kicked and moved, the referee must ensure that the ball is indeed kicked (touched with the foot in a kicking motion) and moved (caused to go from one place to another). Being "kicked" can include an action in which the ball is dragged by continuous contact with the foot. The referee must make the final decision on what is and is not "kicked and moved" based on the spirit and flow of the match.

The referee must judge carefully whether any particular kick of the ball and subsequent movement was indeed reasonably taken with the intention of putting the ball into play rather than with the intention merely to position the ball for the restart. If the ball is just being repositioned (even if the foot is used to do this), play has not been restarted. Likewise, referees should not unfairly punish for "failing to respect the required distance" when an opponent was clearly confused by a touch and movement of the ball which was not a restart.

The referee must make the final decision on what is a "kick" and what is "not a kick" based on his or her feeling for the game-what FIFA calls "Fingerspitzengefühl" (literally: "sensing with one's fingertips").



The grass on the field is "tall" at the start of the game. At halftime the score is tied 0-0. Out of the parking lot mowers appear and cut the grass only on one half of the field. This half turned ou to be their team's attacking half of the field. The opposing team files a protest with the referees and league officials that this is not fair. They play the second half but under protest. The team whose offensive side of the field was mowed wins the game. What is your opinion? Should the game have been started at all? Was it fair that the grass was cut on only one half of the field? Did the team protesting gave up their right because they played anyway?

Answer (August 22, 2008):
The first response that comes to mind is to wonder why the referee allowed the mowers on the field at all until after the game was over. If they were to be allowed, which is certainly up for debate, both halves of the field should have been mowed. The Spirit of the Game requires that conditions be equal for both teams throughout the match, not simply in the first half.

The referee should be ashamed for having allowed this travesty to take place. The competition authority should require that the game should be replayed in full.



The wearing of headgear by referees has been limited to 'special conditions' for a long time now. I see female referees and assistant referees wearing headbands and head scarves at the Olympic games. Has anything changed in this context recently?

Answer (August 22, 2008):
No matter what we see referees wear at international tournaments, that is not necessarily what referees should wear when working games in the United States. Our standard has been clear for many years now,

As to caps or other hats, Federation policy on hats was published in the October 1999 issue of Fair Play and has been reiterated several times in this venue:
Q. May referees wear caps and sunglasses?
A. With regard to caps, the policy of the United States Soccer Federation was stated in the Spring 1994 issue of Fair Play magazine: "Under normal circumstances, it is not acceptable for a game official to wear headgear, and it would never be seen on a high level regional, national or international competition. However, there may be rare circumstances in local competitions where head protection or sun visors might sensibly be tolerated for the good of the game, e.g. early morning or late afternoon games with sun in the officials' line of sight causing vision difficulties; understaffed situations where an official with sensitive skin might be pressed into service for multiple games under strong sunlight or a referee who wears glasses needing shielding from rain." Sunglasses would be subject to the same considerations. In addition, we ask referees to remember that sunglasses have the unfortunate side effect of suggesting that the referee or assistant referee is severely visually impaired and should not be working the game. They also limit communication between the officials and the players by providing a barrier against eye-to-eye contact. Sunglasses, if worn, should be removed prior to any verbal communication with players.

We know from Law 4 and "Law 18" (Common Sense) what equipment the players may wear. We also know that the intelligent referee will try to make an exception for players due to severe weather conditions, such as knit caps or gloves on very cold days. This would even extend to tracksuit pants, provided everyone on the team wears the same color -- which need not be the same as the color of the shorts. The same is true of the officiating crew.

There should be no need for a written statement regarding referee attire. Referees are expected to look professional for every game they do, regardless of the level of play. Referees should exercise good sense in choosing what to wear -- and what not to wear. Indeed, they should be certain to take care to protect themselves from severe weather conditions just as the players do. However, the intelligent referee will ensure that the officiating crew is not dressed differently, i. e., more comfortably, than the players for whom they are officiating the game. The conditions you cite at the current Olympic games are indeed special, with very high temperatures and high humidity.

Any changes in policy must be approved by the USSF Referee Committee.



Defensive player in a wall. Free kick taken and strikes player in the arm. Deliberate handball or not? Player is on the end of the wall, arms at sides, does not move arm. Is he extending his body width by using his arms?

Answer (August 22, 2008):
If the arms were in a natural position and the player did not move them to play the ball, then there has been no offense.



I was in a recent over-30 game I was in had the referee stop play when he noticed there were too many men on the field. A correct call. However, in this particularly league there is no 4th official and there were no AR's. No one from either team knew who or when the extra player entered the field but all parties thought it happened during a recent substitution several minutes prior when several players came onto the field and several came off. Since the referee did not know who the extra player was that entered illegally, he gave the caution to the player that was closest to him. However, this player had a previous caution and thus just earned a red card for his second yellow and was sent off. Was the referee correct in this situation? He claims that it's the player who is closest to him who gets the caution. I am a referee as well and I think it's up to the captain of the team to pick the player to receive the yellow card. The referee is not the one to make this call.

Answer (August 19, 2008):
No, the referee was not (and would not be) correct in automatically cautioning the player nearest to him. Another case of inventive -- and really silly -- refereeing. The entire problem was the referee's fault for not paying attention to how many came out and how many entered the field. Referees cannot caution willy nilly, as this would likely destroy what little remained of their credibility after the initial error of failing to pay attention. There was no need for a second caution to an apparently innocent party, which could and should have been avoided. The referee's third lapse was in not considering what possible good a caution would serve, regardless of who got it.

There is at least one thing that might be done, such as asking of the captain (or even the coach) who the last substitutes coming in were and which players were supposed to have left. That will usually find the player who was also not paying enough attention.



Last few minutes of the Brazil/Norway women's game on 15 Aug... A Brazil player is asked to leave the field for a likely injury/blood situation. The referee then indicates that a drop-ball will be the restart (I believe we're all good to this point.) A Norway player steps-up and plays the ball long to 2 attacking teammates. The referee then calls BACK the ball and does a drop-ball AGAIN...

How could this have been a valid 2nd restart with a drop-ball?

Obviously, the referee indicated drop-ball the first time, the ball touched the groud and the ball was played. There may have been some confusion on what the referee had really wanted to happen, but the ball did seem to be legally and correctly put back into play...

How could the referee justify the 2nd drop-ball restart?

Answer (August 18, 2008):
On the surface your response to the situation would appear to be correct. Once the referee has dropped the ball and it is in play -- as soon as it hits the ground -- that would seem to end the matter. However, we cannot second-guess a referee at an international tournament. There may have been other circumstances that neither you nor we are aware of.



My question relates to the AR's mechanics of signaling for an offside offense.

Attacker #1 is in an offside position when the ball is played (for this instance he is very close to the 2nd to last defender so the AR is also at the same relative location on the touch line). Attacker #2 is in an onside position when the ball is played.

Both attackers are making an effort to play the ball along with a defender, but it is not yet clear which attacker (if any) will play the ball first. Also, attacker #1 is not interfering with (impeding) the defender's ability to play the ball. Obviously, if either the defender, or attacker #2 play the ball first, there is no offside to call. However, if attacker #1 plays the ball first, then it is an offside offense.

The question is on mechanics. Which of the following would be correct?

#1 - The AR stays in position when the ball was played and then raises the flag when attacker #1 touches the ball. When the referee sees the raised flag and blows the whistle, the AR makes eye contact w/ the referee and points to the correct far side, middle, or near side. The position of the restart is where the AR is standing.

#2 - The AR runs down the touch line maintaining proper position with either the ball or 2nd to last defender, and then raises the flag when attacker #1 touches the ball. When the referee sees the raised flag and blows the whistle, the AR makes eye contact w/ the referee and points the flag to the correct far side, middle, or near side. The position of the restart is where the AR is standing.

#3 - The AR runs down the touch line maintaining proper position with either the ball or 2nd to last defender, and then raises the flag when attacker #1 touches the ball. When the referee sees the raised flag and blows the whistle, the AR makes eye contact with the referee, lowers the flag and runs up the touch line (maintaining eye contact with the referee) to the initial position attacker #1 was at when the ball was played (the time he was determined to be offside) and points the flag to the correct far side, middle, or near side. The position of the restart is where the AR is standing.

#4 - Do you have another option ?

The problem with #1 is that the AR will be out of position should either attacker #2 or the defender have the first touch. The AR would be out of position to possibly actually see who had the first touch. The AR would be out of position to possibly see a subsequent offside offense or any other fouls or misconduct in his/her end of the field.

The problem with #2, which I believe is the most common performed (and I am also guilty of performing), is that the restart is not in the correct location. Depending on the initial location of attacker #1, the size of the field, and the ages of players, this could actually result in an advantage for the attacking team. For example, the initial position of attacker #1 was only 3 yards into the attacking half, and the next touch of the ball is just at the top of the penalty area, and the players are 12 years old (or even adults for that matter).

The problem with #3, which I believe is the right thing to do, is that it would most likely create much discussion (and yelling from sidelines).

There is no advice on this topic that I can locate. Thank you for your opinions / advice.

Answer (August 18, 2008):
The correct option is none of the above, although #2 is the closest of the bunch.

The AR runs down the touch line, maintaining proper position with either the ball or second-last defender, and then raises the flag when attacker #1 touches the ball or it is clear that attacker #2 cannot get to the ball ahead of attacker #1. When the referee sees the raised flag and blows the whistle, the AR makes eye contact with the referee and points the flag to the far, middle or near side, whichever is correct. The AR then moves back down the touch line to a point in line with the correct spot for the restart.

A quote from the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" may be helpful:
"Interfering with play" means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a teammate. A player can be considered playing the ball even without touching it if, in the opinion of the referee or assistant referee, that player is making an active play for the ball and is likely to touch it. If contact is likely, the offense (offside) can be called when the official makes that determination, even if there is no contact with the ball.

An attacker in an offside position is not considered to be interfering with play (and, therefore, is not judged offside) if, in the opinion of the referee, another attacker starting from an onside position will clearly make first contact with the ball. In this situation, officials must refrain from calling an offside offense until they make this determination.

Note: There is no specific advice on the matter because it is left to the discretion of the referee to cover the issue in the pregame. The issue, simply put, is that the AR must continue to maintain proper position during the period of time between when an offside position is noted and when the offside violation is clear enough to be flagged. The AR's position must be maintained in this scenario because of the possibility that an offside violation may not occur. The issue outcome hinges on identifying the correct location of the restart.



Understand that substitution can take place during any stoppage.

I would like to check can the substitute which just come in, can he takes the penalty kick, corner kick, or throw in?

i saw my fellow referee did not allow the substitute player who just come into the field of play to take the penalty kick and sometimes do not allow the substitute player who just come into the field of play to take the throw in and corner kick.

please advise and clear my doubts.

Answer August 14, 2008):
There is no reason that the new player cannot take the penalty kick or other restart as soon as he or she has entered the field in compliance with the requirements of Law 3.



In a game I played yesterday, one of the substitutes was verbally advised by the referee that as soon as he came onto the pitch to play that he would give him a yellow card.

The incident came about as the subsitute said something to the linesman during the 20th minute of the game. The referee did not show a yellow card at the time, but advised the player that as soon as he did come into the game that he would give him a yellow card. The substitute came into the game in the 75th minute and as soon as he entered was shown a yellow card.

Can the referee do this, or does he have a time limit on when to show a yellow card?

Answer (August 11, 2008):
Another inventive referee! If it was going to be done at all, the referee should have cautioned the substitute at the moment of the misconduct -- or at least prior to the next restart. Under these conditions, i. e., the referee was aware of the misconduct (dissent, we presume) and had not received any later signal from the assistant referee, the referee must caution at the next stoppage following the misconduct or he or she no longer has that privilege. The referee can, of course, still include details of the misconduct in the match report, but it cannot be considered to be a caution.



Before a player kicks for a corner kick, is he or she signaled to kick by a referee with a whistle?

Answer (August 11, 2008):
Under normal circumstances, there is no need to wait for the referee's signal. If the referee wants the kick to be delayed, he or she will let the kicking team know in plenty of time.


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