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October 2008 Archive (II of IV)


Situation in a adult league game.

Attacking team has one player (A1) in an offside position. At the first look it does not look like the player will be involved in the game, the AR1 waits with the signal. CR looks at him, sees no signal, play goes on. Player A1 goes for the ball and gets it , AR1 raises the flag CR does not see it. Ball gets directly from A1 taken away by a player of team B.

Team B takes the ball up and runs up the field. AR remains in "flag up" position, as according to him the player A1 was clearly offside and involved.

AR2 raises his flag also (mirroring the other AR). CR does not react to the signal, as attacking team B goes ahead and scores.

After the scoring of team B, CR "asks" AR 2, which points to AR 1. CR talks with AR 1, gets the information about the offside and decides the goal stands.

Reasoning " If I had seen the signal I had waived you down anyway, the offside did end in an advantage for team B".

Can you please let me know if CR reacted right or wrong? For anything else but the offside the situation had been clear, game was interrupted with the foul etc, no goal. Can you please shed some more light?

Answer (October 7, 2008):
The referee's action was correct, but the explanation was incorrect. The referee cannot apply advantage to an offside situation, but may certainly decide that there is no (longer) an offside situation -- which was quite clear in this case after the transfer of possession of the ball to team B.

Furthermore, in the absence of specific instructions to the contrary in the pregame, the AR should have promptly dropped the flag the moment the ball was clearly controlled by the defenders.


say a coach is showing minimal dissent due to his players being abused. Then the ref comes over and tells him "this is your final warning" and the coach asks "what was my first warning?" and the ref shows a yellow card. Then the coach asks him why he was carded for asking a question and then the ref shows the red card to the coach and he is ejected. Is the referee just in 1. showing a card to a coach and 2. passing out cards for such minor offenses

Answer (October 7, 2008):
Unless the rules of your competition require it, there is no reason or legal basis whatsoever to show a card of any color to a coach or other person affiliated with a team who is not a player, a substitute, or a substituted player.

Law 5 tells us that the referee:
- takes disciplinary action against players guilty of cautionable and sending-off offenses. He is not obliged to take this action immediately but must do so when the ball next goes out of play - takes action against team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and may, at his discretion, expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds

NOTE: We cannot endorse or approve the referee's method of dealing with the coach. Coaches, no matter how pushy and obnoxious they may be, are entitled to the same courteous and considerate treatment as the referee would give to any other person.


I know what the rule book reads for substitutions, but how does it apply to U6 division? Meaning should subs only be allowed when the ball is out of play?

Answer (October 7, 2008):
While we have no idea whether or not your league/state association/club uses the official rules promulgated by U. S. Youth Soccer, we can tell you what the USYS U6 Rules say:

Law 3 - The Number of Players: A match is played by two teams, each consisting of not more than three players. There are NO goalkeepers.
Substitutions: At any stoppage and unlimited.
Playing time: Each player SHALL play a minimum of 50% of the total playing time. Teams and games may be coed.


I was substitute refereeing a U15 game (the other ref couldn't make it). And during the first half one of the teams coaches was just yelling at me from the sidelines, that I was missing handballs and aggressive pushing (there was a couple I missed but nothing game changing). But at half-time while I was talking to my boss (he was informing me that there are only suppose to be two coaches on a side per team) the "yelling coach" came over and just started criticizing me, my fellow ref, and our local soccer organization. We tried to explain to him that we are just kids so we do not have the ability to see everything, but he just couldn't stop.

In the process he ended up wasting 15 minutes of halftime and reduced the other ref into tears. We told him that if he has problems he should file a complaint or talk to us after the game. He stepped off the field and sat with the parents the rest of the game.

So my questions are:
Could we have handled it better?
Is it possible to just call the game due to the coach?

and please keep in mind I am only 16 and have been reffing for two seasons

Answer (October 7, 2008):
No ageism here, sir. We treat all referees as equals. Well, maybe not those whose associations put them on two-referee games, which are not allowed under the Laws of the Game. To them we recommend that they either convince their association to use the Diagonal System of Control (one referee and two assistant referees) or find another association that does.

Not forgetting your question, we can state simply that you should have told this "coach" to get back to his team area immediately and not to bother you before, during, or after the game. If he had a problem, he is welcome, as you clearly told him, to submit a report to your association and to the state organization, but he is not welcome to interfere with your work or your break at halftime. If he persists after this notification, then you should use the power granted you by Law 5 and take action against the coach or any other team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner. That means that you may, at your discretion, expel them from the field of play and its immediate vicinity.


Saturday morning our Team played a very heated game in a competitive league. A yellow card was given to the other team; game became very physical and our team ended up winning 3-0. Approximately 3 hours later we had another game in a separate location. The two line refs that were provided were on the team we played and beat earlier that morning. Their coach is actually in charge of the soccer at that particular location. Is this legal? The girls were spotted snickering and laughing as they walked past our team. These refs are in the same age bracket and same division.

Answer (October 7, 2008):
While it is regrettable that your team had to have assistant referees who had been your opponents earlier in the day, we are certain that any referee or assistant referee affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation would give nothing but a fair and competent performance.


Assistant Referee mechanics on signaling a defensive foul in the penalty area. Since both FIFA in the 2008/2009 LOTG interpretation and guidance, and USSF in a Memorandum in May 2008 have issued instructions on AR signals for a foul in the penalty area, I would like some advice to see if my interpretation is correct. The FIFA LOTG states that an AR who sees a foul that would result in a penalty kick, but is not seen by the Referee, should make eye contact with the Referee, raise his flag, and then move briskly to the corner flag. On the other hand, the USSF memorandum states that an AR should indicate that a foul signaled by the Referee has been committed in the penalty area by raising his flag horizontally at waist height. In order to correctly instruct my Assistant Referees I want to be sure: the FIFA instructions are for a foul in the penalty area seen and indicated by the Assistant Referee. The USSF instructions are to indicate to the referee, who has already signaled the foul, that the foul is in the Penalty Area.

Answer (October 6, 2008):
Not quite correct, but there is a difference in mechanics between when the referee signals a foul and when the assistant referee signals a foul. In addition, at present there are two possible signals for the assistant referee to make, depending on the level of play.

Referee signals a foul:
- No further AR action is needed beyond getting in position for the restart (unless the referee requests assistance in enforcing the minimum distance)
- If the referee, after stopping play, makes obvious eye contact with the AR, the referee is asking for assistance in locating the foul (probably because the referee saw the foul but was too far away to be sure about whether it was inside or outside the penalty area)
-- If in the AR's opinion, the offense occurred outside the penalty area, stand still with the flag held straight down at the side (left hand, assuming a standard diagonal)
-- If in the AR's opinion, the offense occurred inside the penalty area, stand still with the flag held horizontally between the hands (new signal as of 2008)
-- Maintain the signal until acknowledged by the referee

AR signals a direct free kick foul inside the penalty area by a defender
- Flag straight up
- Eye contact with referee
- Brief waggle of the flag
- If referee waves it down
* Drop flag
* Maintain the offside position as play will be continuing
- If referee stops play
* Drop flag
* Begin moving toward corner

For the highest-level games (MLS and USL) there is another signal, one outlined in a position paper published by USSF in May 2008 and reinforced in the Week in Review WIR 27:
"If the AR was of the opinion the foul occurred inside the penalty area and therefore a penalty kick should be awarded, the AR should raise and wiggle the flag and then - after the referee's whistle - indicate that the foul occurred in the penalty area by holding the flag across his waist mimicking the substitution signal."

We will reconcile these different signals and instructions in the next (2009) edition of the Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials. In the meanwhile, the matter should be covered thoroughly in the pregame conference among the match officials

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).

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