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June 2006 Archive (I of II)


BRINGING THE GAME INTO DISREPUTE

Question:
At what point do we as referees have the ability to enforce the laws of the game?

This is not a joke. It actually happened to me prior to a boys U18 game.

I arrived at the field during a downpour and lightening and was informed that the teams would wait in their cars until the prescribed time after the last lightening strike. While waiting, I noticed an individual, whom later I discovered was a player, dribbling a soccer ball onto the field naked. After about three minutes, he left the field. The rain subsided about 15 minutes later and we all took the field to warmup and start the game.

Would it have been appropriate at that time, since I knew who the player was, to have issued a caution for unsporting behaviour? A send-off for offensive/abusive language (non-verbal)?

Answer (June 5, 2006):
Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has the authority to take disciplinary sanctions from the moment he or she enters the field of play until he or she leaves the area of the field of play after the final whistle. This includes the period of time immediately prior to the start of play during which players and substitutes are physically on the field warming up, stretching, or otherwise preparing for the match.

The behavior you describe would fall most nearly into the catch-all category called bringing the game into disrepute. The problem is that it didn't occur during the game itself, nor even truly during the warming up period. It appears to have been something done as the result of a dare. Once you determined who the player was, the most appropriate thing to do would be to call the player and the team captain to you and tell them that the player was being cautioned for unsporting behavior. Then show the yellow card and include full details in the match report.


 

TEAMS WITH NEARLY IDENTICAL UNIFORMS

Question:
Real Situation:
Two teams showed up wearing almost identicle shirt colors, one is solid blue the other had a little white on the sleeves. The two coaches argued over who had to change their shirts. They didn't compromise and the referee didnt ask them to change shirts. If I had been referee which team should I have made change shirts?

Answer (June 5, 2006):
It is safest to check the league rules to see what they specify. If that is either impossible or the rules do not cover the matter, then remember that it is traditional for the visiting team to change if there is a conflict in colors.

 


SHIELDING VS. IMPEDING; PUSHING/SHOVING AT CORNER KICK

Question:
I have two questions about play that really bother me and I don't know how to makes these calls correctly:
1. the ball is going out of play, the defender gets to the ball and shields the ball and moves with the ball towards the line, using a shielding technique, the offensive player follows the defender pushing from behind and at the line as the ball goes out of play pushes the defender in the back to the ground. what is the call? the other day in a tournament I warned the offensive player once and the second time I cautioned the player and heard from a host of people including some referees that was allowable play.

2. on a corner kick, the offensive and defensive players prior to the ball being in play, push and grab, and shove for position to the point that a defensive player is moved out of position and turns to face the offensive player who had pushed him from behind. what is the call?

Answer (June 5, 2006):
1. If the defender who is shielding is within playing distance of the ball, then he or she is not infringing the Law. The opposing player is not allowed to use the hands to get at the defender. In short, the shielding is permitted, the pushing is not. The correct call is either pushing or holding, as appropriate to the action. Direct free kick for the offender's team.

2. The intelligent referee will be proactive and speak to the players concerned before there is any confrontation. Let them know that you see what is going on and warn them not to continue. If they do continue before the ball is in play, treat it as unsporting behavior and caution accordingly. And if they continue it after the ball is kicked, treat it as a foul (plus, perhaps, misconduct) and restart accordingly.

 


PLEASE FOLLOW THE LAWS OF THE GAME

Question:
My question is regarding the World Cup Friendly between Iran and Croatia. In the 97th minute, the referee awarded Croatia a penalty kick. While the Croatian player was in the process of shooting, a teammate of his entered the Penalty area. Law 14 clearly states that if a teammate is to enter the area and the ball enters the goal, the kick is to be retaken. However, the referee allowed the play to continue and the score became tied at 2-2, he then ended the match. Is that correct? Here is the link to the video; the PK is awarded at 3:45 in the video:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=sSZm5S7YAUo&search=team%20melli

Answer (June 4, 2006):
It isn't necessary to view the clip to answer your question because the clip shows exactly what you described.

The action of the teammate of the kicker had no impact on the play (the penalty kick was a direct shot on goal in which the ball had no trouble entering the net entirely on its own). Accordingly, the only answer possible is that your statement of the Law is correct.

 


REF-AR COMMUNICATION

Question:
I was an AR involved in a recent tournament match and had a scenario develop that I'm not quite sure was the proper decision. Here's the scenario:
An attacker was fouled by a defender in the penalty area close to me and directly in my line of sight but partially screened from the referee's view. The foul caused the attacker to go down injured. I signalled to get the referee's attention just as the defensive team started a counter attack. The referee, not seeing the foul, waved me off, apparently thinking I was signalling the injured player Play continued for a few touches before a team mate put the ball out for an injury stoppage. After the referee checked on the player, he backed up to me to inquire about what happened. That's when I informed him that the injury was the result of a foul that he was screened on and that I was trying to signal a PK. The referee decided that even though play had continued for a few touches, that the injury was a continuation of the original foul I was trying to indicate and since there hadn't been a restart, in the spirit of the game, that a PK could still be awarded. That PK turned out to be the difference in the match.

My questions are: should the PK have been awarded in this circumstance or is the only recourse after play continues the ability to issue a card at the next stoppage?

This became a hot topic in the ref tent, I'd like to get a qualified opinion to let everyone know the correct decision.

Answer (June 2, 2006):
An assistant referee will never signal to the referee that a player is injured, as only the referee can make that determination. Your flag was correct and, if the referee gave proper instructions in the pregame conference--i. e., signal an infringement only when the referee cannot see it, he should have known what was going on. However, let us emphasize that there would have been no mistaking the signal if, after raising the flag straight up and making eye contact with the referee, you would have given the flag 2-3 waggles (not semaphores). The referee would have known exactly that it was a foul being signaled. If he stopped play and you had then dropped the flag and begun moving toward the goal line, the referee would have known that the foul had been committed by a defender inside the penalty area and you were recommending a penalty kick. The system works, if only officials would use it!

And yes, despite the time lost, the game had not otherwise stopped and restarted, so the penalty kick restart was correct.

 


FIFA FAIR PLAY BADGE

Question:
I am a grade 8 referee and was wondering does the United States Soccer Federation permit referees to wear the FIFA Fair Play Badge on their uniform or is it prohibited. Or is it up to the state federation. The basic question here is "can I wear the FIFA Fair Play Badge even though I'm not an international official." I would appreciate any response.

Answer (June 2, 2006):
Yes, you may wear the FIFA Fair Play badge without being a member of the International Panel. It may be worn on the right sleeve, centered between shoulder and elbow on a long-sleeved shirt and between shoulder and cuff on a short-sleeved shirt.

 


GAINING AN ADVANTAGE

Question:
I was the AR1 in a U12 Competitive state championship match, with an experienced referee in the center and youth referee as the AR2. A player from Team A was tripped, and the referee gave a DFK ~25 yards from the goal. Team B set up a wall, and had no defenders (other than the goal keeper) closer to the goal line than the members of the wall. Team A had one player past the wall and within the penalty area, clearly in an offside position. When the kick was taken, it was drilled into the upper left corner of the goal - untouched by any other player. To my surprise, and to the dismay of the coaches behind me, the AR raised his flag indicating offside. The referee went over to the AR, discussed the call with him, and then upheld the offside call and prepared to restart with an IFK for Team B. The coaches for Team A succeeded in getting the referee’s attention, and he came over to explain that the player in the offside position had become part of active play by "seeking to gain advantage" by being in that position. This did not go over very well with the coaches (or me for that matter), but I did not feel that in my position as AR that I could openly contest a judgment call. The goal was disallowed and play was restarted with the IFK.

At the half I discussed the offside call with both the referee and the other AR, said that I did not believe that the word "seeking" appeared in Law 11, and that the player had to actually gain an advantage. If the referee had said that the player in an offside position had obstructed the vision of the keeper (preventing him from reacting in time to make a play on the ball) I would have been more comfortable with the call, but the referee insisted that by being in the penalty area the player was "seeking to gain and advantage" and was therefore offside.

Two questions:
1. Does the word "seeking" occur in conjunction with "gaining an advantage" in any memoranda or advice on Law 11?
2. If not, should I have made an effort to convince the referee that his call was incorrect, possibly within the vicinity of the upset coaches? This might have crossed the line from assist to insist, and the referee was clearly unlikely to change his call.

Answer (June 2, 2006):
Lesson the first: Experience does not always equal advanced knowledge. It is often the case that it actually equates to using the same old (erroneous) information over and over again.

Lesson the second: The word "seeking" does not occur in the Laws of the Game, and has not since it was removed from Law 11 effective 1 July 1995. The word "seeking" has since been used by the IFAB (the folks who write the Laws of the Game) in a totally different context in 2002, in a statement regarding simulation (faking an injury or a foul): "players seeking an unfair advantage by pretending to be fouled." And even that was not in the Laws themselves, but in a memorandum on the amendments in the Laws for that year.

Your answers:
1. See above.

2. While the assistant referee should never insist, he or she should assist the referee in all things. In your example that would be best accomplished by not embarrassing the referee when trying to convince that official that he or she might wish to look at a situation in another light. Keep out of hearing of the coaches and players. Lay out the facts as you see them and can support them. If the referee declines to use your information, do not insist--no matter how right you are. However, if you believe the referee's decision is to the detriment of the game and of other referees, you can also inform the referee that you will prepare a report of your own on the game and submit it to the appropriate refereeing authorities.

 


DELAYING THE RESTART OF PLAY

Question:
With the new "additional instruction" on cautioning players who delay the restart of play, another question arose.

It's the situation where the Referee stops play on an attack (usually for "offside") and the attacking player (might take a couple of touches and) takes a shot.

I've tried to "anticipate and forestall such offenses" and have made sure that I FIRMLY talk with that player in such a way that everyone else understands that I'm "dealing" with that situation.

However, when the inevitable second occurrence or "flagrant" scenario occurs, what is the "reported" caution? Unsporting Behavior or Dissent or Delaying the Restart?

Usually, I chose unsporting. Sometimes, dissent. Now it appears you could a case for "delaying the restart" IF in your opinion it was done to "provoke a confrontation".

Answer (June 2, 2006):
The correct decision would be to caution the player for delaying the restart of play.

 


REASONS TO CAUTION SUBSTITUTES AND SUBSTITUTED PLAYERS

Question:
After reviewing the new 2006 Memorandum, I had the same question that appears on the USSF "Ask A Referee" website concerning the 3 reasons to caution a substitute/substituted player (doesn't appear to cover infringement on Law 3).

Can you explain the "Answer (May 22, 2006): xxxxx"?

Answer (June 2, 2006):
Law 3 clearly establishes that when a substitute or substituted player enters the field without permission it is misconduct. Law 12 mandates only three reasons that substitutes and substituted players can be cautioned and this is the most likely of the three. Whether that was the IFAB's intention is unknown--but until and unless they say otherwise, that's what we need to do.

NOTE: See also the IFAB/FIFA Q&A 2006, which mandates a caution for unsporting behavior for this offense. The Q&A was issued June 2, after this answer was posted.

 


SUBSTITUTION

Question:
I have two questions regarding Law 3 from games I observed this weekend.

(1) In a youth tournament, competition rules specify there will be no stoppage time; competition rules permit unlimited substitutions (before a goal kick, a kick-off, or a team's own throw-in). As the match is nearing completion, one team is ahead by one goal. The team that is ahead begins to repeatedly substitute players one at a time, in what appears to be an attempt to waste time. What actions are appropriate to prevent/penalize this unsporting behaviour by the coach? I would not want to punish the players by not permitting the substitution (it is hot in Virginia in May), but "excessive substitutions" is not a cautionable offense.

(2) A team begins a match with 9 players; other players are listed on the roster but have not arrived. During the match, a player from this team is sent-off for serious foul play. The team plays with 8 players for a while when one of their teammates who was late arrives. Should this player be allowed to enter the game? May this team now play with 9 players?

Answer (June 2, 2006):
One of the hardest rules in refereeing is that once you accept the assignment, you have to follow the rules of the competition, no matter how much they may differ from the Laws of the Game. A good rule is to know what the rules are before accepting the assignment. QUOTE
3.5 PREVENTING DELAY DURING SUBSTITUTION
Referees should prevent unnecessary delays due to the substitution process. One source of delay is a request for a substitution that occurs just as a player starts to put the ball back into play. This often (incorrectly) results in the restart being called back and retaken. Another common source of delay is a substitute player who is not prepared to take the field when the request to substitute is made. In each case, the referee should order play to be restarted despite the request and inform the coach that the substitution can be made at the next opportunity.

The referee shall not prevent a team from restarting play if the substitute had not reported to the appropriate official before play stopped.
END OF QUOTE

The referee should exercise common sense in choosing whether or not to recognize the substitution request--and, as soon as delaying tactics become obvious, should communicate this to the assistant referee and to the teams.


SIMULATION

Question:
I was asked this question and was not sure how to answer. Would a goal that was scored count if a injury is faked beforehand? Attacking player faked an injury while team mate scored a goal. Does the goal stand?

The player faking the injury was cautioned.

Answer (May 30, 2006):
The Laws are quite clear on what to do when a player "simulates" or fakes an injury. That player is guilty of misconduct and must be cautioned for unsporting behavior. If a player commits misconduct and his or her team subsequently shoots the ball into the goal, the goal must be denied and the player cautioned and shown the yellow card. The restart is an indirect free kick to the opposing team from the place where the misconduct occurred.

 


PLAYERS LEAVING THE FIELD OF PLAY "WITHOUT PERMISSION"

Question:
In a recent U-19 Boys game, following a goal scored on keeper A, keeper A removed his jersey and left the field. Another player then put on the jersey and assumed the keeper's position. Although this is a bigger issue for the coach, are the potential cautions to be issued 1) unsporting behavior for removing the jersey; 2) unsporting behavior for changing keepers without notifying the referee (both Keeper A and the player that assumed the position); and 3) leaving the field without permission? Would the answer be different if the keeper left the field before the player assumed his position (the issue being when does a player that voluntarily leaves the pitch become a non-player if the substitution procedure is not completed?). Or, in another view, would these be considered a single offense for which only one card should be issued?

Answer (May 27, 2006):
By the age of 18, players (and their coaches) should know enough of the Laws of the Game to understand that the goalkeeper cannot simply leave the field and have a teammate assume the role of goalkeeper without the permission of the referee. Of course there are potential cautions to be given, but that action requires a bit of common sense on the referee's part.

There are two reasons why there should be no caution here. You didn't mention it at all, but it seems odd that the referee could possibly miss this action. If in fact the referee saw it and took no action, he or she de facto recognized the substitution--or exchange, it is not clear from the question--for the goalkeeper and thus there is no basis for a caution for that offense. Neither is there any basis for cautioning the goalkeeper for removing the shirt. The caution for this offense is normally given to players or other team personnel who taunt their opponents or disagree with a decision or delay the restart of play by prolonging their celebration of a goal, but none of those would seem to be the case here.

As to administering any caution at all in this instance, the referee's decision will depend on two things: (1) how much common sense he or she has and (2) what his or her needs are for player management and discipline in this particular game. There is nothing that can be done to repair a lack of common sense, but if it is a discipline or player management problem, the referee must look first at him- or herself to see why and where the faulty player behavior may have arisen. That accomplished, the referee will then deal accordingly, exercising the intelligence and common sense he or she must have. It is a poor referee who punishes simply for the sake of punishment; there must be something to be gained from the action. It is self-defeating to incur more player wrath over a small matter. Or, as in this case, an apparently nonexistent offense.

 


INCLUDE THE GOALKEEPER, PEOPLE! HE OR SHE IS A PLAYER

Question:
During a conversation with another referee he mentioned that if the goalie moves in front of his last defender, which now makes the goalie the second last defender. The opponent would be off sides if he receives the ball and was positioned behind the goalie. I'm not sure if I agree with that. This can occur during corner kicks, close shots and numerous other circumstances. I have always used the last defender as my reference point, which, in my opinion excludes the goalie. This could be a "hard sell" to the attacking team. Please advise.

Answer (May 24, 2006):
Calling anything other than offside would be wrong. The Law tells us that a player is not in an offside position if he or she is in his/her own half of the field of play or is level with the second last opponent or is level with the last two opponents. It does not say anything about "defenders" or "goalkeeper"; it talks about "opponents." The goalkeeper is a player and is an opponent of the team attacking the 'keeper's goal. Under the Laws of the Game, the goalkeeper is a different sort of player, with some special privileges, but her or she is still a "player," clear and simple.

If a goalkeeper has only one teammate nearer to his/her goal, that makes the goalkeeper the second last opponent. In this situation, any attacking player who is nearer to the goalkeeper's goal than the goalkeeper is in an offside position. If that player was in that position when the ball was last played by a teammate and becomes actively involved in play, that player is offside.

And on corner kicks no player can be directly offside, no matter who is positioned where.

 


POOR SPORTSMANSHIP IS NOT ALWAYS CAUTIONABLE, DARN IT!

Question:
I have a U10 team. I recently had a game where the opposing coach, after getting up a couple of goals, had his players kick the ball out as far as they could every time they came in contact with the ball. This included all players, forwards or defense or whether there was an opposing player close by or not. This type of play went on for 20 minutes until the end of the game. The young ref was of no help and the other coach was from England and told me that there was no delay of game do to this type of play anywhere in the world. Now I understand kicking the ball out on a breakaway, injury or to prevent advancement to the goal, but this was simply to keep the time going with no chance to have a soccer game. Is there any ruling to prevent this type of play. By the way his type of play worked we were unable to score except for a midfield luck shot.

Answer (May 23, 2006):
Kicking the ball out of play is not against the letter of the Laws of the Game, even if it continues throughout the match. It is, however, against the Spirit of the Game. For the first several such plays, the referee will simply add time. If it continues and is obviously designed to waste time, the referee still has no authority to punish the team that practices the tactic. However, the intelligent referee will make it abundantly clear to the team captains (and have them instruct both their players and their team officials) that full time will be added for every kick that is obviously designed to waste time. The referee will also include full details in the match report, noting clearly why a game that should have taken x minutes of time ended up taking x-plus y minutes 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.

Submit your questions via e-mail to askareferee@ussoccer.org.

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