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April 2007 Archive (III of III)


FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE COMPETITION

Question:
Where would I find a printed citation which requires a referee to follow the administrative rules of the organization. association, tournament etc which employees him? This question is not intended to apply to acceptable alterations top the Laws of the game as allowed by FIFA.

This question is asked for the sole purpose of locating a citiation which would (or would not) require a referee, working an organization. association, tournament game, to only allow players who are listed on a roster which has been validated by said organization. association, tournament administrative official to participate in the match.

This is opposed to the ref just accepting a roster which was not validated for organization. association, tournament play allowing those pl;ayers listed to partuicipate.

I am hoping this is not a "Law 18" answer

Answer (April 26, 2007):
By accepting the assignment to a game in a competition, the referee agrees to accept the rules of that competition governing play and players. Rules such as you cite are fairly common for cup and tournament play, and it would be hard to find a good argument against them.

We have included this information in the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game":
3.14 PLAYER ELIGIBILITY AND THE REFEREE
The criteria for registering players in a league and/or for determining if a player is permitted to participate in any given match are set by the competition authority and may not be modified by the referee. The competition authority may require that the referee check rosters, player passes, and similar documentation as a prerequisite for allowing a player to participate in a match. Where the validity of any player's documentation or right to participate in the match is or becomes a matter of dispute between the two sides, with no resolution, the referee must allow the player to participate and to include all details in the match report. (An example would be the case where one team says that the opposing player has been suspended and is not eligible to play in this game, but the player's team disputes this.)

If there is an obvious discrepancy between the player documentation and the player in question, and the referee can verify that the player and the documentation do not match one another, the player will not play. The referee will retain the documentation and forward it to the competition authority with the match report. In the absence of an obvious discrepancy or fabrication of player credentials, the issue must be decided in favor of allowing the player to participate in the match, with full details included in the match report.

 


ARs MUST ASSIST, NOT INSIST

Question:
I am coaching a U10 Boys team. A penalty kick was awarded to the opposing team. The referee provided the goalkeeper with proper directions for staying on the line until the kick was made. The opponent took the kick and it went wide of the goal. The goalkeeper was still standing in the middle of the goal after the ball went wide of the goal mouth. The assistant referee then signaled that the goalkeeper had left the line and the kick needed to be retaken. The kick was retaken and this time was successful. As a result of this call by the assistant referee the goalkeeper was afraid to move at all during the second kick and refused to play goalkeeper during the second half of the game. My question is this. The only things I can think of are that the goalkeeper was standing with his heels on the line. As the kick was about to be taken the goalkeeper rotated onto the balls of his feet therefore lifting his heels off of the line, or as he moved sideways his foot moved less than the length of his shoe off of the line (in other words not very far, and not intentionally forward). Should either of these situations be grounds for a retaking of the PK? Is there some kind of guidance that can be provided as to what constitutes remaining on the line and what is just ordinary movement? I know that for a throw-in, a player who lifts his heel while his toes are inside of the touch line is considered no longer having "part of each foot either on the touch line or on the ground outside the touch line", is this the same guideline to be used for a goalkeeper during a penalty kick.

Answer (April 23, 2007):
This would appear to be what we call a BRSU (Basic Referee Screw-Up), committed in this case by the assistant referee (AR). We must admit that some ARs are a bit overzealous about flagging for supposed infringements at a penalty kick. We apologize for this likely error and hope that this team is not penalized by having such a zealous AR in its future games.

Moreover, while it is certainly a BRSU by the AR, the referee must also take blame for (1) failing to recognize that he is not obliged to accept the input from the AR and (2) failing to recognize that the keeper's action (even if not consistent with Law 14, which I have already disputed) is entirely consistent with the flexibility which "doubtful/trifling" gives to the referee.

We are more concerned about your statement that the player who lifts the heel, yet keeps the toes on the ground, is considered to have failed to meet the requirements of Law 15. The throw-in should be considered for what it is, a way to restart the game. Only truly major infringements of the Law should be flagged by ARs or called by referees, particularly in youth games. In fact, we might go a step further (no pun intended) and say that a keeper or a thrower who simply lifts his heels is still within both the letter and the spirit of the Law. The lines involved are planes and, though the heel might not be touching the ground, it is still ON the line.

In short, there was no infringement and the goal should have been upheld by the referee.

 


GRADE 9 ARs MAY FLAG FOR FOULS IN MOST CASES

Question:
In response to an answer of April 9, 2007, regarding what Grade 9 referees can do (see in Past Questions), a correspondent states: "The AR could have been a Grade 9. Grade 9s locally are not allowed to call fouls and I think that is the USSF rule."

Answer (April 23, 2007):
That limitation on the Grade 9 referee was removed from the "regulations" several years ago. Although there are no national limitations on what a Grade 9 may do, there may be local rules with which all referees must cope. Such things exist, for example, in the DC/VA area, where they have what they call the STAR program.

Under the STAR program, each team is required to have at least one certified official associated with it (usually a parent). It doesn't matter what the grade certification is, though most of them go with the shortest training time and that means grade 9, and they are expected to "stand in" only if the match lacks one or more ARs--due to a lack of available officials for the assignment or because someone didn't show up despite being assigned. Under the terms of this STAR program, if called on (and the referee is not given the option to refuse their participation), they wear their uniform, their badge, they sign the game card, they get paid, and they perform all Law 6 duties except signal for fouls. We must stress that this limitation applies only to the STAR official--it would not apply if this same person were regularly assigned to a match in which they were a disinterested party, regardless of their grade.

 


PLAYER KICKS HIS SHOE OFF AND AT GOALKEEPER

Question:
If a player kicks the ball and during the kick his footwear gets off and flies toward the goalkeeper distracting him from catching the ball is the game stopped or continues, or if a goal is scored is it allowed?

Answer (April 23 2007):
We answered similar questions in January 2005 and September 2003:
QUOTE
As defined in the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" (Advice) and clear from the perspective of the Spirit of the Game, a foul is an unfair or unsafe action committed by a player against an opponent or the opposing team, on the field of play, while the ball is in play. (Advice 12.1) Although the loss of the shoe was inadvertent and accidental, it was also careless. A careless act of striking toward an opponent is punishable by a direct free kick for the opponent's team, taken from the spot where the object (or fist) hit (or would have hit) its target (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).

Although the shooter wanted to play the ball when he kicked it and did not hit the goalkeeper with his shoe deliberately, he has still committed a foul. Direct free kick for the goalkeeper's team from the place where the shoe struck the goalkeeper (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).
END OF QUOTE

The only difference would be that in your case the shoe did not hit the goalkeeper; however the effect and the decision are be the same. The goal is not scored; restart with a direct free kick for the goalkeeper's team from the place where the shoe would have hit the goalkeeper.

 


INSTRUCTORS ARE NEVER WRONG?

Question:
I want to get clear answer on this ruling: player A is takes a penalty kick, goalkeeper B blocks the kick and deflects it right back to player A who shot the penalty. I let the goal stand since there was a second touch on the ball. My instructors say that since the keeper doesn't really control the ball by deflecting it, its considered a second touch same as if it would have deflected from the cross bar or post. Please clarify this because they seem to be the only ones who are argue this with me.

Answer (April 23, 2007):
We are sure you must have misunderstood your instructors. Instructors who read the Laws of the Game are never wrong. Instructors who read the Laws would find this, right there in Law 14:
QUOTE
Procedure
- the player taking the penalty kicks the ball forward
- he does not play the ball a second time until it has touched another player
END OF QUOTE

The last time we looked in the Laws of the Game, the goalkeeper was a player and is considered "another player" under the terms of Law 14. Your decision to allow the goal was correct.

 


PLAYING THE BALL WHILE ON THE GROUND

Question:
During a boys' U10 game a boy continued to go after the ball, using his feet, even though he had fallen on the ground. The fallen player did not trip or impede the other player, but did still effect the ball. The ball was not in the box, but the offending player was. The referee called a penalty and awarded the other team a penalty kick. Questions: Is it a penalty for a player to play the ball if he is on the ground? If so is it a penalty punishable by a direct kick? If not, what should happen and is there anything that can be done with game already over?

Finally this happened in the final minutes of a tied up game and therefore decided the outcome of the game, what should a coach of a young team do at the moment when they aren't sure about a call that affects the game like this?

Answer (April 23, 2007):
Here is what we teach ALL referees throughout the United States about playing dangerously. It comes from the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game."

QUOTE 12.13 PLAYING IN A DANGEROUS MANNER
Playing "in a dangerous manner" can be called only if the act, in the opinion of the referee, meets three criteria: the action must be dangerous to someone (including the player committing the action), it was committed with an opponent close by, and the dangerous nature of the action caused this opponent to cease active play for the ball or to be otherwise disadvantaged by the attempt not to participate in the dangerous play. Merely committing a dangerous act is not, by itself, an offense (e.g., kicking high enough that the cleats show or attempting to play the ball while on the ground). Committing a dangerous act while an opponent is nearby is not, by itself, an offense. The act becomes an offense only when an opponent is adversely and unfairly affected, usually by the opponent ceasing to challenge for the ball in order to avoid receiving or causing injury as a direct result of the player's act. Playing in a manner considered to be dangerous when only a teammate is nearby is not a foul. Remember that fouls may be committed only against opponents or the opposing team.

In judging a dangerous play offense, the referee must take into account the experience and skill level of the players. Opponents who are experienced and skilled may be more likely to accept the danger and play through. Younger players have neither the experience nor skill to judge the danger adequately and, in such cases, the referee should intervene on behalf of their safety. For example, playing with cleats up in a threatening or intimidating manner is more likely to be judged a dangerous play offense in youth matches, without regard to the reaction of opponents.
END OF QUOTE

There is nothing illegal, by itself, about playing the ball while on the ground. It becomes the technical foul known as playing dangerously ("dangerous play") only if the action unfairly takes away an opponent's otherwise legal play of the ball (for players at the youth level, this definition is simplified even more as "playing in a manner considered to be dangerous to an opponent"). At minimum, this means that an opponent must be within the area of danger which the player has created.

If this is not the case (for example, the player had no opponent nearby), then there is no violation of the Law. If the referee decides that a dangerous play violation has occurred, the restart must be an indirect free kick where the play occurred (subject to the special rules that apply to restarts in the goal area).

By the way, even if a dangerous play violation has been called, the referee should never verbalize it as "playing on the ground" since there is no such foul in the Laws of the Game.
The coach of the team has no recourse in the matter of a judgment call by the referee, but may enter a protest only if the referee misapplies the Laws. If the referee awarded a penalty kick in the case you bring forward, that would be correct only if the player on the ground actually kicked or attempted to kick the opponent. If there was no contact or no attempt to kick, then there was no direct free kick foul, but the act might have constituted playing dangerously, for which an indirect free kick should have been awarded. If the incorrect free kick--indirect or penalty, as the case may be--was awarded, then there might be grounds for protest, but it could still come down to the referee's ;judgment, rather than a matter of misapplication.

The game would be best served if the coach used the situation as a teaching tool for his or her team.

 


CHANGING THE RESTART

Question:
Simple question: once the ball has gone out of play (for a GK, CK, TI), can the restart be changed based on information the referee received *after* the ball went out of play? I know that if the ref decides to make a call, and the ball goes out of play before he blows the whistle, he can still make the call and award the proper restart for the call. Here's an example:

Ball goes out of play for a TI. Before the ball is thrown in, the referee looks at the trail AR, who raises his flag after eye contact is made. The ref holds the TI and goes to confer with the AR, who tells him that a foul was committed before the ball left the field of play.

Can the referee change the restart from a TI, since play was not restarted? Or does the fact that the ball went out of play *before* the ref was aware of the foul mean the ref can't call the ball back onto the field for a kick?

Answer (April 19, 2007):
As long as the referee has not restarted play, any restart may be changed, particularly corrected restarts based on information from the assistant referee.

See Advice 5.14:
5.14 CHANGING A DECISION ON AN INCORRECT RESTART
If the referee awards a restart for the wrong team and realizes the mistake before the restart is taken, then the restart may be corrected even though the decision was announced after the restart took place. This is based on the established principle that the referee's initial decision takes precedence over subsequent action. The visual and verbal announcement of the decision after the restart has already occurred is well within the Spirit of the Law, provided the decision was made before the restart took place.

 


FIELD SAFETY

Question:
[My question] relates to a field which was built by a municipality to serve both as a soccer pitch and an outdoor performance area. Presently, one touchline is about five feet from a permanent bleacher, and the other is about six or seven feet from an outdoor performance stage. Both have hard sharp corners.

The local town league has used this field for almost twenty years for their U12 up to U14 games and there have been a number of instances where players have been injured from collisions with both the bleachers and the stage. Often teams station parents by the bleachers and stage to try and prevent collisions.

Recently we have had club teams from a league I assign who have rented the field and are scheduling higher level matches there. Referees have expressed their concern that the field is dangerous at that level and have asked me what choices they have short of abandoning the match. My suggestion has been that if the referee feels the field is unsafe, that he ask the home to to remark the touchlines to make the field narrower, though it is already pretty narrow. This has been met with resistance from the club, who have apparently gone to [name deleted] the league with their objections.

What we need here is your guidance, and some official USSF position to present to the club to secure a resolution.

Answer (April 18, 2007):
The safety of the players should be the first concern. The referee on the game has the responsibility to determine the safety of the field. Each referee will have to make a decision on how to handle an unsafe field, up to and including not accepting assignments on that field if they think it is dangerous and they have made that known to no avail. If the referee determines that the field is unsafe, then it is then up to the field owner or renter or other authorized user to make the necessary corrections or the game will be abandoned. The referee must submit a full report to the appropriate authorities.

 


SLIDE TACKLING

Question:
Can you explain to me the proper ways to do slide tackles?

My understanding is when the ball is controlled at the attackers feet, that there is no way to execute it without alot of luck. Luck meaning the attacking player was not wiped out.-------The attacking player with the ball is going down almost all the time from the defender executing the slide tackle. A foul (correct ?) even if the ball is struck first.-------The sliding leg of the defender has to be the one closest to the attacker with the ball ( approaching the attacker from the left side means the slide tackle from the defender has to slide with the right leg to strike ball) if this not down, a foul (correct ?)-----------My understanding of the proper way, is the ball has to be a couple of feet (2-3) in front of the attacker with the ball, the defender still has to use the leg to strike the ball that is on the same side as the attacker, and if executed this way, there is no foul because the attacker has a chance of defensive moves from the tackle. The other way mentioned the attacker has no chance at all. The above examples are with players moving at full speed. This is explained how, so I can easily relay this to the appropriate people in our league.

Answer (April 17, 2007):
We have not responded to your question in the way you requested, but we think we have answered it in the only way possible. In brief, there is only one way to slide tackle-- safely. And when it is not safe, it is almost always so unsafe as to require a red card for serious foul play.

The term "slide tackle" refers to an attempt to tackle the ball away from an opponent while sliding on the ground. A slide tackle is legal, provided it is performed legally. In other words, there is nothing illegal about a slide tackle by itself--no matter where it is done and no matter the direction from which it comes. Referees (and spectators) should not get hung up on the term "slide" tackling. There is nothing in our concern regarding endangering the safety of the opponent which limits this to a slide tackle. In fact, if, in the opinion of the referee, the tackle endangers the safety of the opponent, it makes no difference if there is contact or not.

FIFA emphasized in the past the great danger in slide tackles from behind because, if this tackle is not done perfectly, the potential for injury is so much greater. Nowadays, if the referee decides that the foul while tackling from any direction--from the front, the side, or the rear--was done in such a way as to endanger the safety of the opponent, the proper action is to send the violator off the field with a red card.

How can tackles become illegal? Two of the most common ways are by making contact with the opponent first (before contacting the ball) and by striking the opponent with a raised upper leg before, during, or after contacting the ball with the lower leg. Referees must be vigilant and firm in assessing any tackle, because the likely point of contact is the lower legs of the opponent and this is a particularly vulnerable area.

The referee must judge each situation of a tackle from any direction individually, weighing the guidelines published by FIFA and the U. S. Soccer Federation, the positions of the players, the way the tackler uses his/her foot or feet, the "temperature" of the game, the age/skill of the players, and the attitude of the players. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.

While one may (and should) sympathize with the injured player, soccer is a tough, competitive sport, and injuries can happen with no associated infringement of the Law. Players who act on the basis of the opposite presumption, abetted by like-minded spectators, do the sport no good.

For the sake of those who would punish any tackle, we ask that players and referees alike remember that it is not a foul if a sliding tackle is successful and the player whose ball was tackled away then falls over the tackler's foot. It has to be in the opinion of the referee, but if the tackler accomplishes the objective of taking the ball safely and within the meaning of the Law, then it makes no difference if the player who was tackled then falls down. With a big "UNLESS": if, in the referee's opinion, the tackler has used excessive force, then the tackler should be sent off for serious foul play. Or, if the tackler makes the tackle and then lifts either the tackling foot or the other foot and trips the opponent, that is a foul. Simply because a player falls over the foot of the tackler is not a dangerous thing. It's one of the breaks of the game.

 


SOCK COLOR (AGAIN!)

Question:
What is the ruling on matching sock color? If a team is wearing a predominately red sock, and a few players want to mix-n-match, say one sock is black and another is red or white on the same player. This question applies to high school level play. Thanks

Answer (April 17, 2007):
We do not deal with the rules of high school soccer. What follows applies to games played under the aegis of the United States Soccer Federation.

The matter of different colored socks is moot. While nothing is specifically written in Law 4 regarding the color of socks, tradition and common practice dictate that all members of a team (with the possible exception of the goalkeeper) wear socks of the same color, rather than each wearing his or her own choice. Wearing one sock of one color and one of another color is not strictly prohibited under the Laws of the Game.

The ruling will be found in the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game," which is based on the Laws, memoranda from FIFA and the International F. A. Board, and on memoranda and policy papers published by the United States Soccer Federation.

QUOTE
4.1 WEARING UNIFORMS
It is implicit in the Law that each side wear a distinctively colored jersey, that shorts and socks be uniform for each team, and that the uniforms be distinguishable from the uniforms worn by the other team. However, the details of the uniform are governed by the competition authority and can vary widely from one match to another. The referee must know and enforce the rules of each competition worked. Players' jerseys must remain tucked inside their shorts, socks must remain pulled up, and each player must wear shinguards under the socks. Slide pants or similar undergarments must be as close as possible to the main color of the shorts.
END OF QUOTE

 


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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