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September 2008 Archive (I of IV)


A GK makes a save and falls on his back within the penalty area. As he is getting up he kicks an opponent - non violently - while still holding the ball and within the 6 seconds he has to release it. Is the ball still in play? Or is it out of play while the GK holds onto it? If it is in play and the referee blows his whistle to address the kicking of the opponent by the GK would not the restart be a PK and possibly caution of the GK?

Answer (September 3, 2008):
If the goalkeeper has not risen fully, the six-second period has not begun. It begins only when the goalkeeper is upright and in a position o assess the situation and judge where to play the ball. However, the matter of the six seconds is irrelevant if the referee decides that a foul has been committed by the goalkeeper.

The referee must decide whether this was a deliberate act or simply an accident. If a deliberate act and thus a foul, then the restart is a penalty kick and the punishment would be either a caution or a send-off,depending on what the referee saw. It makes no difference whether the goalkeeper has used the allotted six seconds.



Near the end of the first half, an attacker with the ball is clearly tackled from behind in the penalty area. However the referee is screened at that moment and thinks the attacker merely tripped, so there is no whistle. The AR, who has a good view of the play, pops his flag, but the ball is immediately booted upfield and the CR turns to follow the play and never sees the flag, which continues to be raised.

Seconds later, the CR blows the whistle for half-time. At that point he sees the AR with flag raised and consults with him. He accepts the AR's view that there was a trip but says that because the whistle has been blown to end the half, there can be no penalty kick.

He does card the defender who tackled from behind however.

Is this ruling correct?

(Note: it might have helped if the second AR had mirrored the flag but unfortunately that did not happen.)

Answer (September 2, 2008):
Whenever the assistant referee signals for a foul and the signal is not seen immediately and play continues for several seconds, the restart, when taken, must be in accordance with the Laws (free kick, penalty kick, etc.). In this situation play had not stopped and been restarted since the flag was raised, so, when the referee acknowledges the flag and accepts the assistant referee's information, the correct thing to do is to send off or caution (as appropriate to the act) the player involved and restart with the penalty kick.

In addition, the assistant referee should maintain a signal if a serious foul or misconduct is committed out of the referee's sight or when a goal has been scored illegally. This and the original situation (above) should be covered by the referee during the pregame conference with the assistant referees.



I noticed in one of the current issue responses "Putting the ball into play from a kick restart" that the situation is very similar to an indirect free kick restart. While the response was clear that it must be the decision of the referee as to what is a "kick" and what is not, ATR 13.5 makes it clear that "Simply tapping the top of the ball with the foot or stepping on the ball are not sufficient". It has become commonly accepted for teams to restart from indirect kicks without the appropriate kicking motion. My question is this...should the correct call be to (a) stop play for an improper restart, warn the players about the proper restart procedure (and subsequent caution for delay or persistent infringement if continued) or (b) allow play to continue, ignoring the tap, treating the subsequent kick as the "first touch" and maintain the indirect signal until a true second touch happens, thereby calling back any goal that might be scored directly from the improperly taken restart and continuing play with a goal kick restart?

Answer (September 2, 2008):
The Law is clear: "The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves." We have stated clearly in Advice 13.5 that there must be some "kicking motion" to put a kicked restart into play. The referee is the sole judge of what constitutes a kick.

Another point in your question needs to be cleared up: We would dispute that "It has become commonly accepted for teams to restart from indirect kicks without the appropriate kicking motion." Some players may do it and some teams may use that as a tactic, but this does not mean that the definition in the Laws of how an indirect free kick (or any other kick restart) should be taken has changed. It is only referees who are reluctant to enforce the Law who have allowed this tactic to become "commonly accepted." If the kicker fails to follow the Law and it makes a difference, then the referee must uphold the Law. If it didn't really matter, then let it go (or perhaps give a warning). This is only common sense.



On a penalty kick; the shooter is ready to take the kick, just as he is about to kick it his teammate commits a foul by running into the penalty area before the shooter makes contact with the ball... He shoots the ball, it goes in the goal but the point is not rewarded because of the foul committed by the teammate. Is appropriate restart of play a Indirect free kick from where the foul was committed, a goal kick or do they just retake the kick???

Answer (September 2, 2008):
What you describe as a "foul" is not a foul; it is a violation of the procedures for the taking of a penalty kick. In this particular case, Law 14 (The Penalty Kick) tells us that if a team-mate of the player taking the kick infringes the Laws of the Game:
* the referee allows the kick to be taken
* if the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken
* if the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and the match is restarted with an indirect free kick to the defending team, from the place where the infringement occurred



If Red Team Player gets fouled by Green Team on a breakaway in the attacking 1/3, just outside the penalty box and Red Team has a clear opportunity for a quick restart....BUT, there is a substitute waiting at the halfline. He/she has been checked and meets all the criteria to be waved into the game.

Should the referee stop play and allow the substitution or allow the quick restart? Let us assume that all 4Ps are in place. I am seeking clarification on whether allowing a substitute overrides the advantage and clear attacking opportunity.

I eagerly await your response

Answer (September 2, 2008):
The referee is not required to stop a quick restart by a team simply because the other team wants to make a substitution. In fact, there is no substitution possibility until the referee recognizes it. This has nothing to do with the advantage clause, which concerns only infringements of Law 12, but is simple common sense: The referee must not interfere with a team's legitimate opportunity to score a goal.

There is always the possibility that, if it is a youth match using standard youth rule exceptions regarding substitutions, a stoppage for a foul is not a substitution opportunity.

NOTE: The questioner asked if this contradicted his state's standard operating instructions. The answer is that we do not believe it does.



Today's question involves the goalkeeper releasing the ball from their possession.

Situation is U15Gs, travel, but really just above recreational in skill. Early morning game, grass is wet, ball is wet. Goalkeeper is wearing gloves and long sleeve jersey.

Goalkeeper picks up a ball, is moving towards edge of penalty area to release. In some combination of fumbling, squeezing, and the ball being slippery, the ball slips out of her possession and onto the ground. Goalkeeper picks the ball back up immediately.

Does this constitute a second touch by the goalkeeper?

My first thought is I'm asking a question with an obvious answer -- yes, this is a second touch. Accidental or deliberate, the ball was released, and picked back up again without an intervening touch by another player.

If so, can you then explain the rationale that allows the goalie to toss the ball into the air and catch it, or bounce it and catch it, and not count as a second touch? I certainly understand why we dont allow the opponent to challenge in those conditions, being potentially dangerous. But why cant we expect the goalkeeper to just put the ball back into play without any intervening tosses or bounces?

And does this not then put us referees in the position of judging a deliberate, allowable "second touch" vs. an accidental release and recovery, which is not allowed? Why cant it just be a release is a release is a release?

Answer (September 2, 2008):
Of course there was a foul, but read on. There is no analogy with tossing the ball up in the air and catching it, because that action has ALWAYS excluded the ball hitting the ground (which is what happened here). All the offense takes is deciding that the goalkeeper had possession in the first place.

The entire refereeing system puts referees in the position of judging whether or not an offense has occurred. We make thousands of decisions of this nature during a game, even those involving "Under-tinies." In this particular situation, the referee must make the judgment based on the skill level of the players, the conditions on the field, and any other considerations that occur during the game. Of course, the referee could always decide that there wasn't any initial possession (i.e., control) and so there wouldn't be an offense, but the scenario says that the ball "slips out of her possession" so, again, obviously there was a "second touch" offense.

In this particular situation, the referee must make the judgment based on the skill level of the players, the conditions on the field, and any other considerations that occur during the game. Of course, the referee could always decide that there wasn't any initial possession (i. e., control) and so there wouldn't be an offense, but the scenario says that the ball "slips out of her possession" so, again, obviously there was a "second touch" offense.

But deciding there was an offense is only the first (though necessary) step in deciding if the offense should be called by stopping play and punishing the foul with an indirect free kick. For that, the referee must decide that the offense was not trifling -- in other words, wasn't important, didn't affect the course of the game, didn't unfairly prevent an opponent from challenging for the ball by taking possession a second time. Given the description in the scenario, this seems very likely.



hi hope you can help. 1, a goalkeeper in his area is beaten, the ball is heading towards the goals, he takes his boot of and throws it a the ball taking it away from goals, what do i do ?
2, what happens if he does the same thing outside his area?
3,what happens if a player other than the goalkeeper does it, inside and outside the penalty area?
i do hope it's not to much to ask and i do appreciate your time.

Answer (September 1, 2008):
1. The goalkeeper is cautioned for unsporting behavior and the match is restarted by an indirect free kick to be taken from the place where the ball was when it was struck by the boot or similar object (see Law 13 for position of free kick).

2. We are unclear on your meaning in the second question, whether you mean (a) that the 'keeper throws his boot at the ball while HE is outside the penalty area but the ball is struck by the boot inside the penalty area or whether you mean (b) that the 'keeper is inside the penalty area and throws the boot outside to hit the ball.

The correct action for the referee depends on where contact with the ball occurred, not where the goalkeeper was when he threw his boot. If the place of contact was inside the penalty area, caution for unsporting behavior and indirect free kick where the goalkeeper was when he threw his boot. If the place of contact was outside the penalty area, red card for denying the obvious goalscoring opportunity and direct free kick where contact with the ball was made. If it was a defender other than the 'keeper, red card for denying the obvious goalscoring opportunity regardless of where contact was made and a direct free kick if that location was outside but a penalty kick if inside.

3. The boot or similar object is considered as an extension of the player's arm. Play would be stopped. If the boot struck the ball inside the penalty area, a penalty kick would be awarded and the offending player would be sent off for preventing a goal by deliberately handling the ball. If the boot struck the ball outside the penalty area, a direct free kick would be awarded and the offending player would be sent off for preventing a goal by deliberately handling the ball (see Law 13 for position of free kick).



Apologies if this has been asked and answered on the site already, but I could not find an answer to this question on impeding or interference.

An attacking player is chasing a "through ball" that has been kicked past the last defender, and towards the goal. That last defender is also chasing the ball, and is actually closer to it than the attacker, but not close enough to it to be considered "playing the ball" at the time that I suspect a foul was committed.

With the ball still 7 or 8 yards from the defender, with the attacker following right behind, the defender sees that her goalie is coming out of the box to make a play with their feet to clear the ball. To ensure the attacker has less of a chance to get to the ball first, she slows and appears to deliberately block the attacker from getting a clear run at the lose ball, giving the goalie more time to get to the ball first.

Lots of spectators commented on what a heads up play it was, but I was of the opinion that since the defender was not playing the ball at the point she made contact with the attacker deny her a run at the ball that a foul had been committed.

What do the laws say about this please?

Answer (August 27, 2008):
It would appear from your description that the defending player impeded her opponent. The correct restart for this would be an indirect free kick from the place of the infringement. However, please read these excerpts from the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game":

"Impeding the progress of an opponent" means moving on the field so as to obstruct, interfere with, or block the path of an opponent. Impeding can include crossing directly in front of the opponent or running between the opponent and the ball so as to form an obstacle with the aim of delaying progress. There will be many occasions during a game when a player will come between an opponent and the ball, but in the majority of such instances, this is quite natural and fair. It is often possible for a player not playing the ball to be in the path of an opponent and still not be guilty of impeding.

The offense of impeding an opponent requires that the ball not be within playing distance and that physical contact between the player and the opponent is normally absent. If physical contact occurs, the referee should, depending on the circumstances, consider instead the possibility that a charging infringement has been committed (direct free kick) or that the opponent has been fairly charged off the ball (indirect free kick, see Advice 12.22). However, nonviolent physical contact may occur while impeding the progress of an opponent if, in the opinion of the referee, this contact was an unavoidable consequence of the impeding (due, for example, to momentum).

The referee's judgment of "playing distance" should be based on the player's ability to play the ball, not upon any arbitrary standard.



In a competitive tournament, The referee was intimidated by a coach at the end of the game, (end of regular playing time but all players were still on the field waiting for the sportsmanship greeting between two teams the referees and the coaches and then he (referee) gave that coach a red card, took his membership card away so that he would be removed from the field. Later in the same day, the tournament organizers put his card back to allow him in the field and unfortunately the same ref administered the game with this coach's team, he complained to the officers at the referee's center and he was told to do away from that game. It was really intimidating to the ref.

What should he does to get a satisfied explanation? Your response is greatly appreciated.

Answer (August 27, 2008):
Once the referee has expelled a coach in accordance with the Laws of the Game, his or her job is complete. If, in its infinite wisdom, the competition authority undermines the referee's authority by disregarding the normal suspension the coach for at least one game, that is their problem. The referee who has accepted the assignment to the subsequent game has no alternative but to accept the will of the competition authority or ask to be relieved of the assignment.

Of more importance to us is the act of showing a red card to the coach or any other nonparticipant. That is forbidden by the Laws of the Game. If the competition authority, again in its infinite wisdom, chooses to require that such nonparticipants are shown the red card, then the referee must once again follow the rules of the competition.

The referee is not entitled to any explanation for the foolishness of the competition authority, nor is he or she obliged to continue a relationship with that competition.


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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