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March 2008 Archive (II of II)


The attack is occurring just outside the penalty area. There is an attacker in the offside position inside the penalty area. One of his teammates attempts to pass the ball to another attacker outside the penalty area. The ball is not played in the direction of the offsides attacker. Both of the players outside the penalty are onsides. The defender steps in to interCept the pass and is able to play the ball away from the attacker. In doing so, the ball is played towards his own goal, to the attacking player in an offside position. It was not a deflection, the defender played the ball. Offside?

Answer (March 18, 2008):
If the player in the offside position -- there is no such thing as an "offsides attacker" as described in the question -- clearly demonstrated that he was not involved in play, then there is no offside. If there was no involvement through interfering with an opponent, interfering with play, or gaining an advantage from that offside position, there the player is not offside. Once the defender gains possession and plays the ball, as you suggest he has done, then the ball is fair game.


With the right wind conditions could a goal keeper with a strong arm from his own penalty area throw a ball into the opponents net and score?

Answer (March 18, 2008):
Unless the rules of the competition specify otherwise -- see, for example, the USYSA rules for small-sided soccer -- a goalkeeper may either kick or throw the ball directly into the other team's goal.

US Youth Soccer Official Under 10 Under 12 Playing Recommendations notes under Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct: Conform to FIFA with the exception that an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team at the center spot on the halfway line if a goalkeeper punts or drop-kicks the the ball in the air from his/her penalty area into the opponents penalty area. This still allows the goalkeeper's distribution for the ball to be punted the entire length of the field; it just cannot go directly into the opponents' penalty area.

There is currently no rule against the goalkeeper throwing the ball the length of the field and scoring, but this will be discussed during preparations for the next edition of the USYS rules.



During a recent high school game the goalkeeper was stepped on by an attacker in what appeared to several non-working referees in attendance (including myself) to be a deliberate act. Neither of the two working referees saw the actual contact as their vision was blocked by other players. The 2-man system is used regularly for HS games in our area to save on expenses. Of course they should have had a better position but that is the problem with a 2-man crew.

The goalkeeper had dived for a through-ball and retained possession although play was stopped for his obvious injury. When the referees went to check on the goalkeeper, there were pronounced cleat marks on his leg and he was unable to continue in the game. They did not call a foul, however, claiming they had not seen exactly what happened.

In such a case, can a referee justify calling a foul based on the physical evidence of the keeper's obvious injury and perhaps even issue a caution to the offending player? The keeper had possession 1 - 2 steps ahead of the attacking player, so it is hard to imagine the attacker being unable to avoid the contact.

BTW... The keeper was my son so I am certainly biased in my thoughts on the situation. It would be good to know your opinon for the future, however, regardless of how you come down on the issue. It is something that I might have to deal with on the field as well.

Answer (March17, 2008):
Disclaimer: We do not deal with high school rules and certainly not with the two-man system of refereeing.

The referee cannot call and the assistant referee cannot flag for a foul he (or she) has not seen While it is clear from the obvious "hoof marks" on the goalkeeper's leg that someone stepped him, without a clear view of the incident, it would not be possible to (a) conclusively rule out that it was a teammate of the goalkeeper or (b) that it happened completely by accident, rather than as a result of a foul. The circumstantial evidence may be strong, but it is still only circumstantial.

No matter which system the officials are working, they must work -- let us emphasize it, WORK -- to be in position to see what is going on when players are competing for the ball. This inability to see some situations is, as you point out, one of the flaws in the two-man system.



I know if a player is given a caution, you restart with the nature of the infraction; however, what if the ball is out of play when the caution is given?

Answer (March 13, 2008):
1. When play is stopped for an offense which is both a foul and misconduct, the restart is based on the foul, not the misconduct.

2. When play is stopped for an offense which is only misconduct (no foul involved), the restart is not based on the nature of the misconduct. It is based on who committed the misconduct and where was it committed.
- If the misconduct was committed by a player on the field, the restart is an indirect free kick where the misconduct was committed (subject to the special rules in Law 8).
- If the misconduct was committed by anyone off the field, the restart is a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the special rules in Law 8).

3. If the misconduct consists of a player illegally re-entering the field or a substitute illegally entering the field, the restart is an indirect free kick where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the special rules in Law 8).
4. If the misconduct occurs during a stoppage of play, the restart is based on whatever stopped play in the first place. If advantage is applied to the misconduct, play is allowed to continue, play then stops, and a card for the misconduct is given, the restart is based on whatever stopped play in the first place.



The ball is in play in the center circle when a player shows his disagreement with your decision not to award a free kick by shouting very offensive and abusive language at you.

What do you do? Give your reason. How and where will you restart play?

Answer (March 12, 2008):
Stop play, send off the player for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures and restart play with an indirect free kick for the opposing team from the place where the offense occurred.

Reason and restart:
Law 12, sending-off offense 6.
Law 12, final bullet point under indirect free kick, any other offense . . ..



I've looked through official sources as much as I know but cannot find anything explicit about ending an indoor game which uses a clock and buzzer system.
United States Soccer Federation, Indoor Playing Rules.

9.1 BALL IN PLAY: The ball is in play at all times from the start of the game to the finish, including:...
The question is, what about a goal being "scored" from a ball that is kicked before the buzzer sounds. It is my contention that the buzzer acts like a whistle and signal the end of the game or period and play stops at the sound.

Answer (March 12 2008):
You are correct, the period of play ends at the moment the horn/buzzer starts to sound. Just as in other sports in which the horn or buzzer is used, the rule is implied by the written rules but enforced in application by the referees. To reference it, you have to put different parts of the indoor rules together;

1.15 HORN: Each game facility has a horn or buzzer, subject to the control of the Timekeeper, to be sounded upon the expiration of each quarter, any overtime period, and otherwise as set forth in Rule 6.

5.2 POWERS: Referees' decisions on points of fact connected with play shall be final so far as the result of the game is concerned.

9.1 BALL IN PLAY: The ball is in play at all times from the start of the game to the finish . . . until a decision has been made by the Referee.

10.1 LEGAL GOAL: Except as otherwise provided by the Laws, a goal is scored when the whole of the ball has passed over the goal line, between the goal posts and under the crossbar . . ..



At the end of the game whistle is blown, everyone knows game is over. Both teams lined up to shake hands, two players from team A take their shirt off and are walking towards the line to shake hands without jerseys.

I want to know what the procedure for this is, This was a youth game U17. In my mind this is a misconduct since those players are being disrespectful to the opponents.

What is your take on this?

Answer (March 11, 2008):
Removing the shirt after a game is over should not be treated as misconduct in most cases. When the match is over, the referee's best course of action is to leave and, while leaving, to be only concerned about player actions which are violent, which direct dissent at the officials, which include taking off more clothing than just the jersey, or which involve clearly abusive, insulting, or offensive language.



Referees make mistakes. Is it proper do publicise the disciplinary actions taken against them?

Answer (March 10, 2008):
The decision to reveal the results of disciplinary hearings is up to the competition authority to which the disciplinary committee reports.



Is FIFA looking at using 2 referees in future World Cup matches? I recently played in an adult league match where there were 2 referees. Each refereed called the game on their half of the field. When I asked about the 2 referee format, I was told that it would be implemented by FIFA for the 2010 World Cup. Can you verify that this is the case?

Answer (March 10, 2008):
There was an announcement recently that FIFA was considering an experiment with a two-referee system (with assistant referees) with an eye to using it in a future World Cup setting. This was only for purposes of high-level soccer, not for our everyday games.

We do not know where you play, but the dual system of control, the "two-man" system, is not allowed to be used in games under the aegis of the United States Soccer Federation or its affiliates. The only system of officiating to be used is the diagonal system of control, as described in the Laws of the Game.

NOTE: The IFAB has sanctioned the study of the use of two additional assistant referees in at least one country. This is not authorized for any games played in the United States.



In a very well-tempered match with 4 minutes remaining, an attacker dribbles around a tired and apparently frustrated defender (his team is losing 2-0). The defender, in a violent manner, deliberately kicks at but completely misses the unaware attacker, who has already sped by him with the ball.

The attacker is streaking into the Penalty Area with a perfect opportunity on goal, I holler "Advantage" and also immediately inform the defender that he will be dealt with at the next stoppage.

The attacker is rewarded with an outstanding scoring opportunity that is saved brilliantly by the keeper into the corner of the field.

I am now looking for any reasonable reason to stop play to send off the defender. However, after the ball rolls toward the corner play continues peacefully without even a hint of a foul, retaliation, or other issues. I stop play four minutes later to end the match, quietly remind the player of his earlier misconduct, he reluctantly nods in agreement, and is shown the red card.

The Laws of the Game support my decision, but many referees I have discussed the situation with have suggested I stop play after the advantage plays out (ball into corner of field) and then award an IFK to attackers after sending off the defender. How is the latter supported in Law or sense (it gives attackers two opportunities toward goal)? Are there any further alternatives other than stopping play immediately?

Answer (March 10, 2008):
You are, of course, perfectly within your right, under the Law, to send off the defender for attempting to kick his opponent, even after you have invoked the advantage clause. However, if you are going to punish this player off at all, whether with a sending-off or a caution, we would suggest doing it within the statutory 2-3 seconds after deciding to invoke the advantage, rather than waiting four minutes -- during which time the defender has committed no further acts of misconduct, which may have been a result of your comment that you would deal with him at the next stoppage. There is no need to wait for a so-called "natural stoppage" to do this; if the act must be punished, then stop play and do it.

That brings us to a second decision you must make, whether to stop the game and then reward the attacking team for an act that apparently had no true effect on the game. You should wait long enough to see whether or not the advantage has been properly applied -- in other words, the attacking team kept control of the ball, continued the attack, etc. Only then would we suggest stopping play, if necessary, and coming back to manage the situation with the defender. The extra benefit to this approach is that you can now bring the ball back and give the attackers an IFK for the misconduct (the foul having been wiped away by the advantage).



In a GU11 club game, defending team is whistled for a handball in the penalty area. Keeper drops her arms and the other defenders slow down, attacker strikes the ball a second or two after the whistle and it goes into the net. Referee disallows the goal at first, then walks over to the near A/R and talks to him as the parents from the attacking team start yelling.

Referee signals for the kickoff and tells our coach that he should have called "advantage" and that was why he decided to allow the goal. The ref went on to say, "never replace a scored goal with a PK."

I maintained that he misunderstood the LOTG, and once the whistle was blown, play was dead, and a PK should have been awarded.

Answer (March 10, 2008):
O, those inventive (and chicken-hearted) referees!

You are correct. The referee cannot change his decision to stop play after having blown the whistle, no matter what input the assistant referee provided in their brief conference. No goal. Restart with the penalty kick.


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 Julie Ilacqua, Managing Director of Referee Programs (administrative matters); David McKee, National Director of Assessment (assessment matters); and Ulrich Strom, National Instructor and National Assessor (matters in general).

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