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September 2008 Archive (IV of IV)


An assignor asks: I am almost certain that I have seen somewhere that referees should not wear jewelry. Can you tell me where that information is at so that I can pass it along to a few of my referees?

Answer (September 24, 2008):
You saw it in the 2008/2009 Laws of the Game, the INTERPRETATION OF THE LAWS OF THE GAME AND GUIDELINES FOR REFEREES, which begins on page 55. It's there under Law 4.

All items of jewelry (necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, leather bands, rubber bands etc.) are strictly forbidden and must be removed.
Using tape to cover jewelry is not acceptable.

Referees are also prohibited from wearing jewelry (except for a watch or similar device for timing the match).


Over this last weekend there was an incident in England's League Championship where the referee and assistant referee awarded a goal when in fact there had been none. The referee facing the goal saw the ball zoom forward and get knocked away to the side. The assistant referee believed the ball had fully entered the goal and then been knocked away. The replay shows the ball never reached the goal.

The English FA ruled the awarded goal must stand because they have no authority under the laws to overrule a referee's decision. This must mean that a referee may award a goal to a team and it cannot be undone as long as the referee stands by that decision. This is obviously absurd when you think of all the crazy things that can happen as a consequence of upholding a referee's decision.

There is a limit to everyone's power. Besides not assigning an errant referee to another game, what practical thing can a federation do to set aside a nefarious decision by a referee?

Answer (September 24, 2008):
Law 5 says it all:
Decisions of the Referee
The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final.


I have seen this similar situation at least 4 times in the last year in high school soccer - with the same results. An attacking player is dribbling from a wing area (left or right of the goal) in the defenders penalty area. A defender takes a hard and late hip charge into the offensive player. Enough to move them 2 - 4 feet off the ball. The offensive player maintains balance and control. But either immediately or within 1 or 2 seconds loses the ball to the second or third defender (in each situation the defense outnumbers the offense in the immediate vicinity of the play). No whistle and actually no play on is verbalized or signalled. In all cases after the game the referee informs the offensive team/player that if the player had been knocked to the ground a penalty would have ensued. I love a good physical game and in some cases I could easily argue that advantage was the call. But the seemingly late nature of the hit bothers me. Myself, as a ref I'm loath to call a PK but worry about benefiting the defensive team with questionable play and penalizing the offensive team for not flopping. These hip charges are hard, from the side or slightly behind the offensive player. If the offensive player went down I don't think anyone would have been suprised. But with them not falling I can't see a foul being called. So, there are a couple parts to my question. 1.) using the four P's the call seems rather legitimate but it seems to me that the defense gained advantage using a questionable tackle. Could this be whistled as a foul? 2.) even if it is not a foul could this warrant a caution?

Answer (September 24, 2008):
We cannot make any definitive comment on a game played under high school rules, as it would not have been played under the Laws of the Game. However, if the game had been played under the Laws of the Game, we can make some definite statements:

1. What you describe has nothing to do with advantage, but is strictly a matter of a referee afraid to make a call. There is no room for cowards in the refereeing corps.

2. In general we can say, without fear of being incorrect, that hip charges at any level of play (male/female, young/old, skilled/unskilled, etc.) are unfair and thus not allowed. Charges must be shoulder to shoulder, with both players having at least one foot on the ground. However, we must consider some allowance for differences in height and weight and bodily proportions. In other words, we must not forget that both the laws of physics and Mother Nature can overrule the Laws of the Game, in that women are usually wider at the hips than men and men are usually wider at the shoulders than women. What we judge is how those bodily characteristics are used. If they are used unfairly -- and only the referee on the spot can do that -- then a foul should be called.

3. Referees who do not call unfair charges should consider two courses of action: Either call fouls correctly or stop refereeing, as they are doing the rest of us no favors. Simply because a player was fouled but not knocked to the ground is not a valid reason not to call a foul. A foul is a foul is a foul.

4. Referees MUST make the same call in the penalty area that they would make on the rest of the field. If they cannot do that, they must consider those same two courses of action, because their failure to call the game correctly makes problems for all referees.

5. If the referee chooses to make a decision -- which each of us must do thousands of times in a game -- then it had better be for the good of the game. The decision to award the advantage must be based on the four Ps, but in that case the referee must follow through and speak to the miscreant afterwards. There may be no need for a caution on the first offense, that is up to the referee, but if the player or the team contnues to do that, the referee must punish the misconduct.


1a. What kind of hearing aids are permitted by players with hearing disabilities? b. Can a mini-receiver with a short, flexible antenna be worn, with or without headware that could hold the device in place? 2. A player kicks a ball while the ball is in play. His/her shoe comes off, but doesn't go near or hit anyone. The player kicks the ball again, into the goal. While shoes are required equipment, may a goal be allowed?

Answer (September 24, 2008):
1, The referee is the sole judge of the safety and suitability of any player equipment. Something that is permitted in one game may not be permitted in the next.
2. The player is expected to replace the lost shoe as quickly as possible. If the amount of time between loss of shoe and shot on goal is minimal, then the goal should be allowed.


Is it ok to referee a game of a family member so long as it is fairly administered etc.? If so, are there any disclosures recommended or required prior to the match to allow the coaches to make the call?

Answer (September 24, 2008):
The referee (or assistant referee) should turn down the assignment to such a game as soon as it is offered. To referee such a game other than in the most dire emergency is a violation of the Referee Code of Ethics.

That said, we understand circumstances may call for someone associated with the team to fill in as an assistant referee and, as long as both teams are aware of the situation and do not object, this may be the only practical way of ensuring full coverage on a match.


I just started out reffing and I told a girl she was not allowed to play with earrings. Her mother came out onto the field and started fighting me about it, delaying the game. I stuck to the rule and she called the athletic director and she said it was ok. Is the athletic director above the rules?

Answer (September 23, 2008):
We do not deal with high school or junior high school rules, but with the Laws of the Game, so we cannot speak directly to the authority of an athletic director. However, if this game was played under the Laws of the Game, the athletic director (or any other person) would be wrong to tell the referee to allow an infringement of Law 4, which specifically forbids the wearing of any jewelry -- and the referee should tell her so.

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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