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April 2007 Archive (I of III)


GOALKEEPER LEAVES FIELD

Question:
During an RIII match this past weekend, the GK intentionally left the field of play while the ball was in play. While only the GK knows for sure why he left the field, it appeared it was done to re-position a spare ball which was behind his net to the side of the net but it will never be known for sure as circumstance changed while he was off the field. The opposing team won possession and took a long shot on goal presumably to take advantage of the empty net. With his teammate encouragement, the GK re-entered the field of play and picked up the ball on the second bounce just outside the 6' box thus deny the goal as there were no other defenders inside the 18' yard box. The Referee played on as if no infraction had occurred which seems to be an incorrect call as the GK clearly gained advantage by his actions whether or not they were intentional.

It does not take a lot of presumption on the part of the Referee to appreciate the opposing team took the long shot to benefit from the GK being out of the net. As such, the GK leaving prior to and re-entering after the shot was taken gave the GK an unfair advantage which is why it is a yellow card offense in the LOTG.

The correct call seems to be a yellow for either "deliberately leaving the field of play without the Referee's permission" or "re-entering the field of play without the Referee's permission" with the restart being an IFK from the spot where the GK first touched the ball.

A second possibility would have been a yellow for the GK for leaving or re-entering without permission plus a second yellow followed by a red for 2 CT for the GK for Unsporting Behavior as leaving the field and re-entering to make what amounted to a save seems to qualifies as UB. Again, the restart would be an IFK from the spot where the GK first touched the ball though now the team would be playing down a player.

What is the correct call?

Answer (April 5, 2007):
The infringement, if such there was, is trifling and not worth considering. The goalkeeper did not leave the field to deceive anyone, nor did he return in a deceitful manner. The correct decision, made by the intelligent referee on the game, is to make no voiced call at all.

 


AR'S FLAG SEEN ONLY AFTER FINAL WHISTLE

Question:
After the final whistle, the referee notices signal from his assistant referee. The assistant referee tells the referee that before the final whistle the goalkeeper punched an oppenent inside his own penalty area. What action does the referee take?

Answer (April 5, 2007):
If the referee accepts the information from the assistant referee, then the correct action is to send off the offending goalkeeper for violent conduct or serious foul play, whichever is appropriate (it is unclear from your question), and then extend time for a penalty kick.

 


WHEN MUST THE GOALKEEPER RELEASE THE BALL INTO PLAY?

Question:
I did a search back to early 2004, went to the FIFA site, and several other sites and I can't seem to find any definitive information. This question pertains to the time period a keeper has to release the ball. If a keeper makes a diving save and either rolls or skids across the ground, at what point does the time limit start? Granted, the keeper intentionally holding the ball would be unsportsmanlike. In the case where the momentum of the goalkeeper carries him after the save, would not the time start at the point in which the keeper has the ability to rise?

Answer (April 3, 2007):
The 'keeper has six seconds to release the ball into play, once he or she has established possession--and is able to put the ball into play. This means that the goalkeeper may have to right him-/herself if on the ground and then rise or be able to come to a definite stop if running when taking possession of the ball. These things take time and should not be included in the allowed six seconds. This is, of course, in the opinion of the referee, who also keeps track of time remaining in the game and exercises common sense in adding time for reasonable time lost--the same idea.

Many referees are too eager to begin counting the six seconds, as if those seconds were a magic number that could not be altered through the use of common sense. If you were to keep track of the elapsed time in goalkeeper possession in the top games around the world, you would find that goalkeepers use (and referees allow) anywhere from eight to ten seconds on average. The only time the top referees punish such infringements are when they become habitual and are clearly designed to waste time. Do not let this insignificant matter of a few seconds ruin an otherwise perfectly good game. Remember that the referee can always add time.

And to give you a reference, here is an excerpt from the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game":
12.18 THE "SIX-SECOND" RULE
The goalkeeper has six seconds to release the ball into play once he or she has taken possession of the ball with the hands. However, this restriction is not intended to include time taken by the goalkeeper while gaining control of the ball or as a natural result of momentum. The referee should not count the seconds aloud or with hand motions. If the goalkeeper is making a reasonable effort to release the ball into play, the referee should allow the "benefit of the doubt." Before penalizing a goalkeeper for violating this time limit, the referee should warn the goalkeeper about such actions and then should penalize the violation only if the goalkeeper continues to waste time or commits a comparable infringement again later in the match. Opposing players should not be permitted to attempt to prevent the goalkeeper from moving to release the ball into play.

 


REFEREE FAILS TO SIGNAL FOR INDIRECT FREE KICK

Question:
Referee awards IFK for a defender playing in a dangerous manner. Let's say 23 yards from goal. Attacking team lines up for the kick and takes it quickly. Referee fails to give correct signal for IFK. Attacking teams kick ends up in net. Obviously you cannot award the goal. What is the correct restart for this situation?

If I read ATR 13.9 (2006) correctly, it does not spell out what the restart after the referee fails to signal IFK is. It does spell out what happens if the referee signals IFK when it was clearly a DFK restart. You retake the DFK. FIFA Q&A 13.6 states to retake the IFK for failure to signal correctly. This situation is clearly a referee mistake and not one by either team. Which document (Q&A or ATR) is correct?

I remember being taught that the restart is retake the IFK but I cannot find supporting documentation from USSF only FIFA Q&A. Could you please help clear this up?

Answer (April 3, 2007):
Let's look at it logically. What does Advice 13.9 say?
QUOTE
13.9 SIGNAL FOR INDIRECT FREE KICK
The failure of the referee either to give the correct signal for an indirect free kick or to hold it for the required period of time does not change the nature of the restart, nor does it alter the requirement for a subsequent touch of the ball for a goal to be scored.
END OF QUOTE

What does the Q&A say?
"6. An indirect free kick is awarded to the attacking team outside the opponents' penalty area. The referee fails to raise his arm to indicate that the kick is indirect and the ball is kicked directly into the goal. What action does the referee take?
"He has the free kick retaken because of the referee's mistake. The initial indirect free kick, is not nullified by the referee's mistake."

The Q&A answer makes sense because the referee's failure to give an IFK signal changes the dynamics of the play-the attacking team might have set up and executed the kick differently if it had known that it was an IFK instead of DFK (one presumes that the ball going directly into the net was a deliberate consequence of the team attempting successfully to achieve that result) and so the retake of the IFK restores the status ante quo. The same reasoning would apply if the referee gave an IFK signal for what should have been a DFK restart (e. g., among other consequences, it unfairly misleads the defenders into not defending against the possibility of a goal being scored directly).

There is no disconnect here and no problem. The correct solution is to have the kick retaken.

 


YOUTH RULES ON SUBSTITUTION

Question:
I cant find a web site that includes the modified rules for youth soccer - e.g. substitutions - generally unlimited; allow one for one on a caution but unlimited when a player is injured etc. Everyone I ask for the modified rules in writing asks me to talk with a senior referee, however, I have to believe that somewhere they are listed.

Can you help?

Answer (April 2, 2007):
The U. S. Youth Soccer policy manual provides:
QUOTE
Rule 301. RULES OF PLAY
Section 1. Except as provided by USYSA or its State Associations, the FIFA "Laws of the Game" apply to all competitions sponsored by USYSA. Players under 10 years of age may play soccer in accordance with the rules of USYSA's Development Player Program-Modified Playing Rules for Under 10, Under 8, and Under 6.

//snip//

Rule 302. SUBSTITUTIONS
Section 1. Except as provided by USYSA or its State Associations, substitutions shall be unlimited except where specified otherwise in the rules and regulations for a special competition.

Section 2. Substitutions may be made, with the consent of the referee, at any stoppage in play.
END OF QUOTE

Some special competitions do run slightly different rules, as provided in the policy manual. For specifics on local competitions, consult with the competition authority. Following the rules of the competition will rarely get the referee in trouble.

 


CHARGING THE GOALKEEPER

Question:
I have seen lately that referees are not calling charges on the keeper inside his/her penalty area when the keeper is either attempting to control the ball or is in control of the ball. I have always been taught (over 20 years of officiating experience) that the goalkeeper cannot be legally charged inside the penalty area while in control or possession of the ball unless the keeper is playing the ball with his/her feet. I have recently been told by senior ranked (State 5 or above) referees that this is no longer the case and that the keeper may be fairly charged just like any other player on the field and does not have special privellages inside their penalty area. In reading the Advice to Referees Section 12.16 I believe it says that "While the ball is in the possession of the keeper, it cannot be lawfully played by an opponent and any attempt to do so may be punished by a direct free kick." I also believe I read in the Advice to Referees Section 12.23 that charging a keeper in possesion of the ball should be considered a violation of law 12 and a direct free kick awarded unless the keeper is playing the ball with his head, feet or etc... This would seem to me that nothing has changed and that charging a keeper who is not playing the ball is still illegal. Can you clarify this for me?

If you have answered this previously I must have not been able to find it and would appreciate a reference where I can find this answer.

Answer (March 30, 2007):
No matter what you may hear from "senior ranked (State 5 or above) referees," the facts are contained in the document you cite, the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game":
BEGIN EXCERPTS
12.16 GOALKEEPER POSSESSION OF THE BALL
The goalkeeper is considered to be in possession of the ball while bouncing it on the ground or while throwing it into the air. Possession is given up if, while throwing the ball into the air, it is allowed to strike the ground. As noted in Advice 12.10, handling extends from shoulder to tip of fingers. While the ball is in the possession of the keeper, it cannot be lawfully played by an opponent, and any attempt to do so may be punished by a direct free kick.

12.17 PREVENTING THE GOALKEEPER FROM RELEASING THE BALL INTO PLAY An opponent may not interfere with or block the goalkeeper's release of the ball into play. While players have a right to maintain a position achieved during the normal course of play, they may not try to block the goalkeeper's movement while he or she is holding the ball or do anything which hinders, interferes with, or blocks the goalkeeper who is throwing or punting the ball back into play. An opponent does not violate the Law, however, if the player takes advantage of a ball released by the goalkeeper directly to him or her, in his or her direction, or deflecting off him or her nonviolently.

12.18 THE "SIX-SECOND" RULE The goalkeeper has six seconds to release the ball into play once he or she has taken possession of the ball with the hands. However, this restriction is not intended to include time taken by the goalkeeper while gaining control of the ball or as a natural result of momentum. The referee should not count the seconds aloud or with hand motions. If the goalkeeper is making a reasonable effort to release the ball into play, the referee should allow the "benefit of the doubt." Before penalizing a goalkeeper for violating this time limit, the referee should warn the goalkeeper about such actions and then should penalize the violation only if the goalkeeper continues to waste time or commits a comparable infringement again later in the match. Opposing players should not be permitted to attempt to prevent the goalkeeper from moving to release the ball into play.

12.23 CHARGING THE GOALKEEPER Referees must carefully observe any charge against the goalkeeper and call as an infringement of Law 12 only those charges which are performed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force (direct free kick), are performed in a dangerous manner (indirect free kick), or prevent the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from the hands (indirect free kick). Charging the keeper who is in possession of the ball must be considered an offense because, by definition, the charge cannot be for the purpose of challenging for control of the ball (see Advice 12.16). A goalkeeper can be otherwise legally charged if the ball is not in the goalkeeper's possession (see Advice 12.16) but is being played by the goalkeeper in some other manner (e. g., dribbled at the feet, headed, etc.).
END EXCERPTS

To sum it up: The goalkeeper in possession of the ball AND preparing to put it into play may NOT be charged or otherwise interfered with. However, the goalkeeper may be charged FAIRLY when both the 'keeper and the opponent are striving for possession of the ball.

And could it be that this is what the senior referees were saying and that you might have misunderstood?

 


THE HANDSHAKE CEREMONY AFTER THE GAME

Question:
Gentlemen, has there ever been any instructions, memo, etc., on the procedure that the referees must follow in respect to what their duties are on monitoring the handshake process that the youth players and coaches do after the game is completed?

Answer (March 30, 2007):
Here is what the Federation has to say on the matter, excerpted from the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game":
QUOTE
5.2 REFEREE'S AUTHORITY
The referee's authority begins upon arrival at the area of the field of play and continues until he or she has left the area of the field after the game has been completed. The referee's authority extends to time when the ball is not in play, to temporary suspensions, to the half-time break, and to additional periods of play or kicks from the penalty mark required by the rules of the competition.
END OF QUOTE

The custom of exchanging handshakes after the game is not universal practice. It is an invention of American youth soccer-and not even followed at all levels of American youth soccer. There is no accepted format.

Referees are instructed to leave the field quickly and quietly when the game has been completed. This is to avoid problems with coaches, parents, and players. If the handshake ceremony is a rule of the competition, then referees would likely have to remain behind to monitor it-but only if the rules of the competition explicitly require it.

 


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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