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WHEN IS A "FOUL" NOT A FOUL?
In the UEFA Cup (Valencia vs Marseilles) a few weeks back, an attacker was on a full break away. The keeper approached the attacker. The attacker chipped the ball over the keeper, who was diving to stop the play. The keeper up-ended the attacker. A foul was called, an the keeper was sent-off, presumably for preventing a goal-scoring opportunity.
In an MLS game (DC vs NE, May 29th), a very similar situation occurred, with the attacker going down due to contact with the keeper, after the ball had been chipped over the keeper. No foul or card was indicated.
I could not see any significant difference in the plays to explain the extreme difference in the outcome. Given the respect due the center for the UEFA game, I believe his call was correct. Any insight?
Also, in your May 20 response about Dangerous Play vs Kicking, you wrote that kicking "overrules" dangerous play - and I agree. However, Referee Magazine (June 2004 page 50) wrote that FIFA, NFHS, and NCAA agree that the Dangerous Play takes precedence, as it "occurs first". Comments?
I always find your responses enlightening, and often amusing.
Answer (June 3, 2004):
1. It is always dangerous to compare situations in one country or competition with those of another. No way that we can give an opinion on this. In fact, it is possible, at least in theory, that the UEFA situation was a foul and the MLS situation was not. That is certainly so in the opinion of the respective referees. After all, just because the attackers hit the ground in both events doesn't mean that the upending was caused in both cases by a foul.
2. Courtesy of Jamey Walter of "Referee" magazine, here is the question that troubles our interlocutor: A7 attempts a diving header in Team B's penalty area on a ball that is near the ground. B6, attempting to clear the ball, kicks A7. If the referee determines that A7 was playing in a dangerous manner, what is the restart?
The correct answer, based on the question, is that the restart is precisely as "Referee" states, an indirect free kick for B6's team.
It is incorrect to say that a direct free kick foul "overrules" the indirect free kick foul of "playing dangerously. In normal situations of this sort, the referee's only choice is to punish the player who created and/or carried out the illegal play. For example: A player kicking at a high ball that another player is trying to head thus puts the heading player in a dangerous position. If the kicking player then makes contact with the opponent, there can be no call of "playing dangerously." The kicking player should be called for kicking an opponent and the restart would be a direct free kick.
DON'T PUNISH THE GOALKEEPER UNDESERVEDLY!
Team A is attacking and Team B is defending. Team A has a shot that rebounds off of Team B's Keeper to a defender on Team B. The defender kicks it back at the goalie who grabs the ball before it goes into the net. The pass from the defender was intentional. There was an attacker from Team A standing next to the keeper in an onsides position because another defender was on the far post. The keeper was a foot of his line and all of the action happened inside the goal area. I determined that it was an obvious goal scoring opportunity, but did not feel it warranted a send off so I only cautioned the keeper. I also awarded a PK because of the obvious goal scoring opportunity and the handling by the keeper after an intentional pass by his teammate. After looking over the Law Book and thinking about it I am leaning toward a send off and an IFK. Team A did not score on the PK. So I do not feel bad if I made the wrong call, but I would like to know what the correct call is.
Answer (June 3, 2004):
While you did make the mistake of cautioning the goalkeeper undeservedly, thank goodness you did not send him off. A goalkeeper may not be sent off for using his hands to deny the opposing team a goal within his own penalty area. (Such punishment is specifically excluded in Law 12-"this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area.") The only possible punishment the referee can mete out in this situation is to award an indirect free kick to the opponents, to be taken from the place where the goalkeeper touched the ball. As this happened within the goal area, the kick would be taken at the nearest spot on the goal area line parallel to the goal line.
And the intelligent referee might not punish the deed at all, provided there were opponents nearby to challenge for the ball and, in the opinion of the referee, the defender kicked the ball to the goalkeeper out of panic, rather than in an effort to waste time. (Preventing time wasting is why the rule was introduced in the first place.)
What is the USSF position on field players (not goalies) who want to wear 'thermal' pants, skin tight, under their shorts and socks? They usually are the same color as the shorts. My second question is the USSF position on what the AR's should be doing during a substitution with thier flags? Some people say that the common practice of holding the flag up, unraveled toward the ground, is being discouraged, but I haven't found anything on this matter.
Answer (June 1, 2004):
1. Players are permitted to wear visible undergarments such as thermopants. They must, however, be the same color as the shorts of the team of the player wearing them and not extend beyond the top of the knee. Thus, thermal undergarments that run continuously from waist to foot are not allowed.
2. Once the referee has recognized the assistant referee's signal, the AR should lower the flag to the side closer to the halfway line and await the restart. You will find this information in the new USSF publication "Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees." There is no change here from previous editions.
ATTACKING THE REFEREE
I play in an amateur league and in our game tonight one of our players was involved in a tackle going for the ball, the other player kicked him in the head as they were falling. Our player got up grabbed the ball and acted as if he was going to hit the player with it, he went through the motion but never threw the ball. I believe the ref didn't see the fact that he didn't actually throw the ball and gave him a red. Our coach asked him to consult with his linesman. When he did he changed his call and gave him a yellow instead, the opposing team was furious and one of their players bumped the ref, he then showed him a red card. This made matters worse and one of the players tried to kick the ball at the ref but it hit the linesman's face, at this point the ref called the game off so one of the opposing players kicked him above the knee with his cleats causing a wound to develop and the ref's leg to be bleeding.
1. Can the referee take back his decision to give a red upon consulting with his linesman?
2. What type of action should be taken when you "act" like you are going to throw the ball at a player?
3. At what point does a ref fell he/she should call the game off?
Answer (June 1, 2004):
Given that the circumstances are as you describe them, here are some answers.
1. Provided that the referee has not allowed the game to be restarted, a decision to send off a player may be changed.
2. The overt threat of throwing the ball at another player amounts to attempted striking and is a direct free kick and at least a caution for unsporting behavior. Depending on circumstances, it could be considered as a threat of physical violence and would then be punishable by a dismissal and red card; in that case the referee should act immediately to isolate the guilty party and remove him or her from the game.
3. There is no black-or-white answer to this question. Only the referee on the spot can make that judgment. We might suggest that if the referee cannot stop the jostling and other abuse by players, the game should be terminated.
FAILURE TO RESPECT . . .
Situation: The ref has awarded a direct free kick to the attacking team two yards outside the box near the "D". The attacking team has requested the ref move the defenders back the requisite ten yards and the ref has done so. The ref has just blown the whistle for the kick to be taken. One of the defenders in the wall rushes the kicker prior to the kick being taken. The ref allows the kick to be taken (in fact, the misconduct and the kick occurred within split-seconds). The kick goes directly to the keeper, at which time the ref stops play, shows the yellow for Failure to Respect the Required Distance, and has the kick re-taken from the same spot.
The ref explained that he allowed the play to proceed (i. e., purposely did not stop play while the ball was in midflight) to determine whether the kick was successful. Had it been, he was have cautioned the misconduct at the stoppage following the goal. Since it was not successful, he stopped play once the keeper had gathered in the shot, showed the yellow and had the free kick retaken.
Was this the correct resolution?
Answer (June 1, 2004):
Because the two incidents occurred so closely in time, the issue would be whether the rush forward (which seems much more cynical that simply being too close) made a difference in the outcome of the kick. And this, under the Law, would require the referee to allow the kick to proceed. If the rush forward made no difference in the outcome of the kick, caution at the next stoppage; if it made a difference, stop play immediately, caution, and restart with a retake.
DURATION OF THE GAME
We played a tournament game today and were leading 2-1 near the end of the game. With about 15 seconds to go, a ball was played into our penalty area and the AR raised his flag for a handling of the ball violation. The referee did not see the AR's flag and blew his whistles two times and signaled the end of the game. The opposing team argued with the referee. After talking with the AR, the referee called for a PK. The PK was taken and the opposing team scored. The game ended tied 2-2. Is it correct to extend time for a PK after the referee already whistled an end to the game?
Answer (June 1, 2004):
Because the infringement occurred before the referee had ended the game, the referee was correct in accepting the assistant referee's information. If a penalty kick is awarded before the game has ended, time must be extended to complete the penalty kick.
TACKLES FROM BEHIND AND SLIDING TACKLES
I am the parent of a challenge player that won the State Cups this past weekend. I'm letting you know we won the State Cups so that you realize I'm not a disgruntled parent whose child lost a game.
Rest assured that my son is a tough and aggressive player that can handle the physical play involved in Challenge and Classic soccer. He got up from the tackle (this time) and stayed in the game. Slide tackling is a good and fair part of the game when it's done legally. My concern is the tolerance for slide tackling by a defensive player that is clearly trailing the play. On one occasion during the season, one situation in the [name removed] Cup and one in the State Finals he was blatantly slide tackled from behind (by the way, we won all three games). This leads me to believe that it needs to be addressed with ALL officials not just an individual. I know there are some close calls (and we had many of these during the season) where the officials must make a judgement call. None of these three situations fits that description. These were all desperate attempts by a defender to prevent a goal. Only in one situation was the defender even talked to by the official. There was not a yellow or red card issued in any of these three instances. Unless the officials take a tougher stance on this type of play it will only continue. The teams/coaches/parents and players must get the message that the penalty will be more severe than a PK. My son and other kids risk severe injuries from the abusive tripping/slide tackling that shouldn't be tolerated.
Answer (June 1, 2004):
What follows this paragraph is what we teach our referees. Unfortunately, that does not always mean that they put it into practice correctly. This response will be copied to the State Director of Referee Instruction of your state, so that the message comes through that the Federation is also concerned about this matter.
A slide tackle is legal, provided it is performed legally. 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. In other words, it is not an infringement to tackle fairly from behind-if there was no foul committed.
There is nothing illegal, by itself, about sliding tackles or playing the ball while on the ground. These acts become the indirect free kick 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. These same acts can become the direct free kick fouls known as kicking or attempting to kick an opponent or tripping or attempting to trip or tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball only if there was contact with the opponent or, in the opinion of the referee, the opponent was forced to react to avoid the kick or the trip. The referee may warn players about questionable acts of play on the ground, but would rarely caution a player unless the act was reckless.
How can tackles become illegal? There are many ways but two of the most common 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. We must not be swayed by protests of "But I got the ball, ref" and we must be prepared to assess the proper penalty for misconduct where that is warranted.
FIFA has emphasized the great danger in slide tackles from behind because, if this tackle is not done perfectly, the potential for injury is so much greater. Accordingly, referees are advised that, when a player does commit a foul while tackling from behind, it should not be just a simple foul (e.g., tripping) but a foul and misconduct. The likelihood of danger is greater when the tackle is committed from behind and the probability of a foul having been committed is greater solely for this reason -- due in large part to the "can't prepare for the tackle" element when it comes from an unseen direction. In fact, if the referee decides that the foul while tackling from behind 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.
The referee must judge each situation of a tackle from behind 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. What might be a caution (yellow card) in this game might be trifling in another game or a send-off (red card) in a third game. To make the proper judgment on such plays, the referee must establish early on a feel for the game being played on this day at this moment and must be alert to sudden changes in the "temperature" of this game. Much depends on the level of play, whether recreational or competitive, skilled or less developed, very young or adult. Only then can the referee make a sensible decision.
Working a question from a league regarding the length of players shorts. Some believe the top of the knee is the limit. Law four does not address this. I thought there was a directive some time back regarding thisŠ I can't find it.
The following was taken from USSF Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players regarding undergarments:
24. Players' equipment Š
(b) Players are permitted to wear visible undergarments such as thermopants. They must, however, be the same color as the shorts of the team of the player wearing them and not extend beyond the top of the knee. If a team wears multicolored shorts, the undergarment must be the same color as the predominant color.
It would seem that if the undergarment must be above the top of the knee, then the same logic would apply to the shorts.
Bottom line, is there any restriction on the length of a players shorts.
Answer (May 28, 2004):
There is no specific guidance on the length of player shorts. In the past, the International F. A. Board (the people who make the Laws of the Game) included a statement in its "Additional Instructions to Referees" that is now also contained in the annual USSF Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players. That statement deals with the undergarments worn by players, rather than the shorts themselves:
"24. Players' equipment Š
"(b) Players are permitted to wear visible undergarments such as thermopants. They must, however, be the same color as the shorts of the team of the player wearing them and not extend beyond the top of the knee. If a team wears multicolored shorts, the undergarment must be the same color as the predominant color."
Historically, player shorts have extended from as low as the top of the calf to not far below the crotch, provided that the waistband is worn at the natural place on the torso. We recommend that player shorts meet the requirement set for thermal undershorts and not go beyond the top of the knee.
There remains the problem of religious concerns. In addition to the player equipment required under Law 4--a jersey or shirt, shorts (if thermal undershorts are worn, they are of the same main color as the shorts), stockings, shinguards, and footwear--the International F. A. Board has recognized that other equipment may also be worn, as long as it is safe for all participants. The most recent USSF memoranda on player equipment were published on September 3, 2003, and March 7, 2003. They can be downloaded from the USSF website. Another memorandum, dated December 22, 2002, states quite clearly that religious clothing (including skirts) may be worn, provided that it is not dangerous to any participants and is not used to distract opponents or to trap or otherwise manipulate the ball.
DECEPTIVE TACTICS BY THE KICKING TEAM
Here's the situation...basic direct kick after a trip. The offense lines up behind the ball - and one after the other jump over the ball...and get back in line. Finally, the second time the fourth kicker comes to the ball - it is kicked.
Question...unsportsmanlike behavior - or just an interesting way to control the time.
Answer (May 27, 2004):
While referees should always allow the team with the ball leeway on deceptive tactics, this seems a bit much. After the first four or five players have jumped over the ball, the referee should call a halt to the parade-charade?-and warn the players that any further repetition of this tactic will be regarded as delaying the restart of play-the official reason for the caution if they failed to heed the referee's advice.
FEINTING AT A PENALTY KICK
A Penalty Kick was awarded. The kicker runs to take the kick and faked the keeper by kicking over the ball without touching it. When the keeper dove to one side, the kicker kicked the ball to the other side scoring the goal.
The Referee blows the Whistle, may caution the kicker for UB or give him a stern warning and:
1. Award a goal to the attacking team
2. Award a goal kick to the opposing team
3. Re-take the kick
If these are the only choices, which choice is correct? Are there any other choices?
P.S. Yes, if the whistle was sounded before the kick was taken to put the ball into the net, re-take will be in order.
Answer (May 27, 2004):
Guidance from the International F. A. Board says that referees should not consider various deceptive maneuvers to be a violation of Law 14 or of the guidelines on kicks from the penalty mark in the Additional Instructions. They should ensure that the run to the ball is initiated from behind the ball and the kicker is not using deception to delay unnecessarily the taking of the kick.
The example you cite, of stepping over the ball, hesitating, and then bringing the foot back again to kick the ball, is a good one. The kicker's behavior must not, in the opinion of the referee, unduly delay the taking of the kick in any feinting tactic. Others would include changing direction or running such an an excessive distance such that, in the opinion of the referee, the restart was delayed; or making hand or arm gestures with the intent to deceive the kicker (e .g., pointing in a direction).
The referee should allow the kick to proceed. If the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken. If the ball does not enter the goal and remains on the field, the kick is not retaken and play continues. If the ball does not enter the goal and leaves the field, the restart is appropriate to the reason the ball left the field.
Finally, kicker violations of Law 14 are not treated any differently from other violations of Law 14 -- no caution on first occurrence, caution for persistent infringement only on repetition after a warning.
LEAVING THE FIELD DURING THE COURSE OF PLAY
The answer of May 20, 2004, on when players may leave the field of play during the course of play without the referee's opinion, seems incomplete. Surely there are more reasons than those given?
Answer (May 27, 2004):
Yes, the answer was indeed incomplete. Here are some occasions on which the player may leave the field of play without the referee's permission during the course of play without fear of punishment. Referees and players will be able to think of others, we are sure.
1. To play the ball if there is an obstacle (any players or officials) that prevents normal play.
2. To retrieve the ball and/or put it back into play at a stoppage-goal kick, corner kick, throw-in, free kick.
3. A player overruns the ball and temporarily leaves the field to get a better angle for kicking the ball.
4. A player steps over the line after playing the ball.
5. A player slips or slides on a wet playing surface.
6. A player steps off the field to stop the ball from going out of play.
7. A player steps off the field to show non-involvement in offside.
The point of emphasis here is that referees should not unnecessarily restrict players. The lines on the field are to show where the ball is in play and where most play should occur. Players are allowed to show their creativity and resiliency both within and without the boundaries. It is when they cross the boundaries for illegal purposes-something other than to play the ball-that the referee should become concerned.
U.S. Soccer thanks Jim Allen (National Instructor Staff/National Assessor), assisted by Dan Heldman (National Instructor Staff), for their assistance in providing this service.
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