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August 2003 Archive (II of II)


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HAVE THE GUTS TO CALL PENALTY KICKS! [LAW 12]
Your question:
Watching youth soccer games (recreational) I've noticed that many refs will award an indirect free kick for what appears (to me anyway) to be penal fouls in the penalty area for infractions that are not a severe breach of the attackers scoring chances. Examples of this are players being tripped while moving away from the goal, or when the foul occurs at the outskirts of the box and the attacker did not have a particularly good scoring chance, etc.. Nothing in the rulebook indicates that this is proper, except possibly the unwritten "common sense ... keep the game as fair as possible" law. Does USSF have a position on this? Am I imagining things or is this relatively common (may more so in recreational games) ? I'd like your opinion. Thanks.

USSF answer (August 26, 2003):
There is no such thing as the "unwritten 'common sense ... keep the game as fair as possible' law." Nor is there anything close to it. What you describe would seem to be the acts of referees who are not willing to uphold the Laws of the Game, presumably because it would make life a bit harder for them.

Unfortunately, there are too many referees who do this sort of thing and make the next game more difficult for the rest of the refereeing corps. They seem to subscribe to the MYTH that a penalty kick should be reserved solely for goalscoring opportunities.


WHAT IS A SLIDE TACKLE?; SEEK CLARIFICATION FROM THE COMPETITION [LAW 12; LAW 18]
Your question:
Can you please give me a definition of a slide tackle? We use a no slide tackle rule in our coed games and there is a wide range of definitions and how and when to call the violation. Please clarify.

USSF answer (August 26, 2003):
The term "slide tackle" refers to an attempt to tackle the ball away from an opponent while sliding on the ground. If you need further information, you should contact your competition authority (the league) and ask for their definition. You might suggest that it would be more readily enforceable if the referees knew precisely what they were expected to punish.


REFEREE ATTIRE [LAW 5; LAW 18]
Your question:
If it is in winter and early in the morning and I was Running a Line The center told me he had no problem with me being in Black sweat Pants, But one of the coaches who also referees the FIFA rules say no sweats one ur refreeing a game. Is that true on not

USSF answer (August 26, 2003):
Sweat pants of any color are certainly not part of the referee uniform, but there is no rule against using common sense and dressing to suit the conditions. Of course, that means that any additional equipment, such as sweat pants, should be of an appropriate color and in good taste. Under no circumstances would a referee or assistant referee be able to do this in a higher-level match and certainly not one that was being assessed.


ORGANIZED PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT [12; LAW 18]
Your question:
I asked this question at a clinic and got laughed at. This situation really happened. I was refereeing a tournement final game. The game was a u-17 game. A fantantistic player from Virginia was playing . It became apparent that the opposition couldn't stop him. He ran thru and got fouled. The second time he got thru and was fouled again. I gave the card after the second one for persistent fouls against one opponent. I gave the first card early because the pattern became clear to me. I gave four more yellow cards for fouls against Mr thompson. It became clear to me that the team was fouling this player in turn so no one would get sent off. My credability was getting stretched to the max. The fouls were not of a serious enough nature to justify a straight red nor were any of them a goal opportunity destroyed. What could I do. I ended up giving seven yellow cards to the one team?

USSF answer (August 21, 2003):
Under the Laws of the Game, there is no other option available to the referee than to caution the players individually. However, at least one other possibility does exist. The intelligent referee might consider chatting with the captain of the team that is engaging in the pattern of fouling and suggest that he will regard the next foul on the target player as serious foul play. Surely the referee in such a case can recognize serious foul play. Finally, after the game the referee can take advantage of the duty assigned in Law 5 to provide the appropriate authorities with a match report which includes information on any disciplinary action taken against players, and/or team officials and any other incidents which occurred before, during or after the match.


ADVANTAGE; "INTENT" [LAW 5; LAW 12]
Your question:
1. Striker tripped in the area by defender, PLAY ON called as he stumbles and gets off a decent shot which is fielded easily by the keeper and returned to play. Do I call for the PK which is superior to the advantage or is there an unwritten rule that any kind of shot counts as a viable advantage? PS: REFEREE MAGIZINE indicates PK / SEPT 2003, pg 34.

2. Is there a position paper that states if a player completely by accident, trips , holds , kicks, ETC an opponent , that that player should NOT be considered guilty of the apparent infraction because there was no intent to commit the infraction ? If so, any guidelines on how we interpret this scenario.

USSF answer (August 19, 2003):
1. The referee's decision to invoke the advantage has nothing to do with the team's ability to score a goal immediately. Rather, it simply means that the team gains more at the moment of invocation than it would have done through a free kick. The referee must balance all factors of the particular situation to arrive at the proper solution.

2. No, there is no position paper dealing with "intent." Why? Because the word "intent" does not exist in the Laws of the Game. We referees are no longer required to judge "intent" in an act by one player against another, but to judge the result of the act instead. However, we are allowed to distinguish between an act that is accidental and one that is deliberate.

All referees need to remember that "intent" is not an issue in deciding what is or is not a foul, regardless of age, and that something at the youngest age levels might nonetheless be considered a foul if it is determined to be careless. No age is too young to begin learning not to be careless.

For example, in the case of a player stumbling and colliding with an opponent, we would judge the act to be careless, reckless, or involving the use of excessive force -- and thus a foul -- only if the player had already begun to trip (or attempt to trip), push, kick (or attempt to kick), strike (or attempt to strike), jump at or charge his opponent. If the player was still merely pursuing the opponent and happened to stumble and fall, colliding with the opponent on the way down, there has been no foul, as the act was simply accidental or inadvertent.

Referees who call such acts fouls are doing a disservice to the game and to other referees. These are cases where the referee simply calls out "No foul" -- or something similar; anything other than "Play on" or "Advantage" -- because there has been no foul.


CONTROL VERSUS POSSESSION; TOUCHED/PLAYED BY [LAW 11; LAW 18]
Your question:
1 In your post below you say "because Law 11 clearly requires the ball to be controlled by the defender before a new phase of play can be said to have begun." I can't find this in LOTG on law 11. ATR 11.15 "(3) an opponent intentionally plays or gains possession of the ball." Control (below) and played by seem different to me, as a ball can be played incorrectly. Also the "or" in the 11.15 quote seems to indicate that. Of course a deflection is not "played by." Is control required by the defender for the offside player to be allowed to be involved in active play?

2 In law 11, the phrase "touched or played by" is used. This the only time "played by" is appended to a last touched phrase anywhere in LOTG. If this always means touched, what does mean? A player can shield the ball and play it. Is a touch required by a teammate, or would a shield count as a "played by".

DEFENDER'S DEFLECTION [LAW 11]
Your question:
An attacker is in an offside position when the ball is played in his/her direction. A defender, having moved to a position to play the ball, either heads or high-kicks the ball. The ball is deflected off its original path, but the defender fails to gather the ball. The attacker in the offside position receives the ball. Has offside occurred? We have calls both ways accompanied a multitude of reasonable (and some maybe unreasonable) explanations to support call. What is your opinion?
USSF answer (August 13, 2003):
It IS NOT correct to assume that any touch by a defender effectively changes the possession, because Law 11 clearly requires the ball to be controlled by the defender before a new phase of play can be said to have begun (and offside positions re-evaluated). It IS correct to say that the referee must make the judgment as to whether the opponent established full control over the ball and thus relieved the player in the offside position from being called offside.

USSF answer (August 19, 2003):
"Control" in this case refers to the defender's having exerted influence over the course and destination of the ball. A deflection would not be considered to be control, but a kick to a teammate would be. This can only be determined by the referee on the spot, not through any definition typed on a keyboard.

For the purposes of enforcing the Laws of the Game, the phrase "touched or played by" has only one meaning, "made contact with." The only possible exceptions involve deflections by a defending opponent in an offside situation or by the goalkeeper who has deflected the ball in a save and not "parried" it.


SEND-OFF AT HALFTIME [LAW 5; LAW 6; LAW 18]
Your question:
If a "player" is sent-off during half time, does the team play short?

In most USSF youth games with free substitutions, the referee has no idea of who the players are vs the substitutes at half time. For this reason it seems impossible to know if you are showing the red card to a player or a substitute - and therefore if the team should play short or not.

USSF answer (August 19, 2003):
This seems a good time to repeat an answer of November 2001:
If the referee knows the individual was a player when the previous period ended, the player's team must play short for the remainder of the game. If the referee knows the individual was a substitute or is uncertain of that individual's status when the previous period ended (and can find no evidence that the individual was a player at the end of the period), then that individual may not participate in the game any longer; his team may start the next period with the same number of players it had when the previous period ended.

An excerpt from section 3.14 of the 2001 edition of the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" provides the answer for the rest of your question:
QUOTE
If a player or substitute is cautioned or dismissed for misconduct which has occurred during a break or suspension of play, the card must be shown on the field before play resumes.
END OF QUOTE

We would add only that this portion of 3.14 remains unchanged in the soon-to-be-published 2003 update of the Advice to Referees.


SLIDING TACKLE [LAW 12]
Your question:
A long kick by team A's midfielder has cleared over team B's defenders and the ball is now in the open field, rapidly rolling towards B's goal. A's speedy forward has outraced B's defenders so that now the only two players who are within playing distance and have a chance of getting to the ball are A's onrushing forward and B's keeper coming off his line to play the ball. The keeper is about to pick up the ball (but does NOT have contact with or possession of the ball) and the forward, realizing this, slides at the keeper in an attempt to strike the ball prior to the keeper gaining possession. Keeper picks up ball before any contact is made and successfully dodges the oncoming slide.

My thoughts: this a dangerous play as contemplated by Advice to Refs 12.23 in that once the forward goes into the slide, he cannot control his direction and/or velocity of his body and has committed himself to a head on collision with the keeper. this lack of control would make this an inadmissible charge at the goalie as contemplated by 12.23 and team B would be awarded a indirect free kick (or the keeper may continue the play if the referee determines advantage rules apply)

My fellow coaches believe that "the keeper is just like any other player" and since you can slide at any other player to challenge the ball, you can slide at the keeper also.

USSF answer (August 19, 2003):
What you have described as a charge is in fact a sliding tackle, a horse of an entirely different color. This means that section 12.23 of the "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game," which deals solely with charging the goalkeeper, would not apply.

Section 12.13, Playing in a Dangerous Manner, might apply; however, if the tackling player's foot hit the goalkeeper before the ball, then it would not be playing dangerously (an indirect free kick foul), but the direct free kick foul of tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball.

The position of goalkeeper carries with it implicit dangers of heavy contact with other players. That is an accepted fact of the game. Other than being privileged to deliberately handle the ball within his own penalty area, the goalkeeper has no more rights than any other player. The act you have described is no foul at all, but simply the actions of two players going for the ball entirely within both the letter and spirit of the Laws.


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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