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February 2004 Archive (II of II)

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What are the mechanics for an AR that observes an incorrect throw-in? Also, is the term, "foul throw - in", correct for this situation?

Answer (February 26, 2004):
There are no prescribed mechanics for indicating an incorrect throw-in. The assistant referee, in accordance with the Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials, does what the referee has instructed during the pregame conference. By extension, the AR signal for a foul (and/or misconduct) could be used to indicate ANY infraction of the Law that is not otherwise covered.

Even though it is technically incorrect, the common terminology is "foul throw-in."


A u12 girls state cup match went to penalty kicks after a 0-0 tie in regulation time and 2 10min overtimes. The 2nd girl took her shot and made it but shot before the ref blew his whistle. The ref talked to her and also made a comment to the rest of the girls to make sure and wait for the whistle. He gave the girl another shot and she made it again but again shot before the whistle. At that point he asked her to sit down and did not allow her shot. We won the game in penalty kicks 3-1 and now the other team is protesting stating the ref did not handle it correctly. The best they could have done is tie us even if the shot was allowed and their last kicker had a chance to shoot(last kicker didn't shoot because we of 2 goal diff). Was this handled correctly?

Answer (February 25, 2004):
Reading the description of the situation, we are not sure which mistake the referee may have made: (1) If he forbade the player from shooting again and cancelled her goal but counted her "place" in the rotation as having been taken, this is one sort of error. (2) If he forbade her personally from shooting again but allowed another player from her team to take the kick from the penalty mark in her place, that is a less venal sin.

In either case, the referee did well on the first shot, taken before he had blown the whistle to notify everyone that the kick would now be taken. He should talk to her and warn her that any further infringement of the Law will result in a caution and yellow card for persistently infringing the Laws of the Game. But he didn't do that; after she took the second shot early again, he forbade the girl from shooting again. If that occurred in possible case (1), the action was wrong and a misapplication of the Laws of the Game. He should have cautioned her, shown the yellow card, and let her shoot again. Maybe she would have gotten it right this time. If the referee simply suggested, as in possible case (2), that another girl take the kick, hoping that the original girl would cool down and figure it out, then he was still in error, as a referee cannot prevent anyone who is eligible from taking a kick. Despite the fact that it was wrong, this error could be put down to common sense and good management, provided he let the original girl kick later -- if required.

And finally, if this were recreational play, rather than a state cup or other competitive-level match, the referee might be more lenient and neither warn nor caution the player the first two or three times.



Answer (February 11, 2004):


This is my first year as a soccer referee, USSF, Grade 8. I have difficulty with some youth matches where both teams are playing a physically over-aggressive style play. If fact the parents and coaches cheer on this dangerous style of play with comments such as, "don't stop, be more aggressive, what did you stop for, that's the way to be aggressive". When there is a lose ball (in these type of games there are many) players will run at the ball full speed and collide at the ball. Kind of like a game of chicken. One player will usually get knock down and scream for a foul, but both players were exhibiting equally dangerous play. How should a referee handle this type of situation? Should a foul be called and on which player when both are at fault? I watch professional matches on television and do not see this type of play. It seems that some youth coaches teach aggression over ball handling skill and technique. Thanks for your advice!

Answer (February 24, 2004):
Despite what youth coaches may teach their players about aggressive play, it is up to the referee to curb and control that play which goes beyond simply aggressive and becomes violent and very dangerous. This is best done by immediately calling each act of that sort of aggressive play and dealing with it strongly and appropriately. It helps if other referees who work these games make the same calls, so that the message gets across to the players and, hopefully, to the coaches, that overly aggressive play will not be tolerated.

We suggest that you take to heart the words of the USSF 2003 publication "Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players":
1. Serious Foul Play and Violent Conduct
Soccer is a tough, combative sport. The contest to gain possession of the ball should nonetheless be fair and gentlemanly. Any actions meeting these criteria, even when vigorous, must be allowed by the referee.
Serious Foul Play and Violent Conduct are, however, strictly forbidden and the referee must react to them by stringently applying the Laws of the Game.
These two offenses can be defined as follows:
(a) It is serious foul play when a player uses excessive force, formerly defined as "disproportionate and unnecessary strength," when challenging for the ball on the field against an opponent. There can be no serious foul play against a teammate, the referee, an assistant referee, a spectator, etc.
(b) It is violent conduct when a player is guilty of aggression (excessive force or deliberate violence) towards an opponent when they are not competing for the ball. It is also violent conduct if the excessive force is used when the ball is not in play or if it is directed at anyone other than an opponent (e. g., teammate, referee, assistant referee, coach, spectator, etc.). If the violent conduct is committed against an opponent on the field during play, the restart is a direct free kick for the opposing team where the foul occurred (or a penalty kick if it was committed by a defender inside his penalty area). If the violent conduct is by a player during play against anyone on the field other than an opponent, the restart is an indirect free kick where the misconduct occurred. If the violent conduct is committed during a stoppage of play, the restart is not changed. A dropped ball where the ball was when play is stopped is the correct restart if the violent conduct is committed during play either off the field or by a substitute.


In the EPL, I have noticed that on occasion the ref has added 10 yards, or shortened the distance to the goal by 10 yards, the position of a free kick. This per the announcers is for dissent. Will it happen in the US? Where can I find the FIFA rule changes if they are indeed changes?

Answer (February 23, 2004):
You will not find any changes, principally because there has been no change. What you are talking about is an experiment that has been going on in England for several years. It is now proposed for adoption as a change to the Laws of the Game effective for competitions that begin on or after July 1, 2004. That will be discussed at a meeting of the International Football Association Board, the people who make the Law of the Game -- no, FIFA does NOT do that on its own -- on February 28 and 29 in London. The proposed change may or may not be adopted. The change, if it is made, will include reasons for advancing the ball other than simply dissent.

Even after the changes are made, you will do nothing about them until instructions from USSF are disseminated through your state referee program. That is the way the system works. This gives the Federation the time to prepare clearly-defined guidelines for application of the changes to the Laws. It also allows the states to plan clinics in which to brief all referees.


A player has the ball on the goal line and is dribbling towards the opponents goal. The goalkeeper comes out to meet the player to challenge for the ball. The player pushes the ball past the goalkeeper, crosses the goal line (leaves the field of play) and the keeper, instead of playing the ball, decides to exit the field of play and deliberately foul the player. This is likely misconduct; however, would it be a penalty kick since the foul occurred outside of the field of play?

Answer (February 23, 2004):
A foul is an unfair or unsafe action committed by a player against an opponent or the opposing team, on the field of play, while the ball is in play. (Deliberate handling of the ball, also a foul, is committed against the opposing team, not against a particular opponent.) If any of these three requirements is not met, the action is not a foul; however, the action can still be misconduct. In this case, the action occurred off the field of play and so can only be misconduct. The keeper should be cautioned or sent from the field (yellow or red card, depending on whether the action involved violence). If the referee had stopped play solely for the keeper's action, play would be restarted with a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped (subject to the exception in Law 8 if this location was inside the goal area).


I have a question spurred by something I saw in a tournament last year. Here's the situation. During a youth game a mass substitution occurs with both substitutes and players on the field at the same time. (common occurrence for youth games). A red card offense is committed by one of the switching teammates.
I understand that even though proper procedure has not been followed, the substitute becomes a player the instant he steps onto the field. If he were then found guilty of violent conduct during the substitution process, his team would play a man down. What if, after he stepped on the field and became a player, his teammate/counterpart instead committed the violent conduct prior to leaving the field? Am I correct that this person is a substitute, and although he is ejected, his team remains at full strength?

As a practical matter, once substitutes enter the field in this manner, it's can be very difficult to reliably identify who the "players" and substitutes" are.

This brings me to my last questions. Do you know of any leagues or competitions where the youth rules are modified such that a team would play short following a red card infraction committed on the field of play, during a substitution, regardless of whether a player or substitute committed the offense? This is being considered as a tournament rule in my area. Is such a modification acceptable for a local USSF-sanctioned youth tournament?

Answer (February 23, 2004):
Your intuition is correct. If the new player commits violent conduct during the substitution process or after he has already entered the field (through referee error, but with the referee's permission), he will be sent off and shown the red card and his team will play short.

As to the former player, even though the referee did not follow the requirements of Law 3, the substitution was completed correctly. The now former player (the one who was substituted out) must be sent off for violent conduct and shown the red card. His team does not have to play short. The game restarts for the reason it had been stopped prior to the substitution.

We are not aware of any rule such as that being considered for the tournament in your area. We can only comment that such a rule would be counter to the Laws of the Game and should not be adopted.


An interesting question has come up. How does the referee interpret the law to get a fair result? Or can he?

SITUATION: A defender has stepped across the goal line to put an attacker in an offside position. Unfortunately the AR misses the misconduct and raises his flag. The referee stops play and discovers the misconduct. The defender must be cautioned.

If the caution were for Leaving, the restart would be an IFK to the attackers from where the ball was when play stopped. If the caution were for USB, the restart would be an IFK to the attackers from the place of infringement, which appears to be off the FOP -- and thus the restart would have to be a DB.

My understanding is that IFAB has said that it is USB. However, USSF Advice gives the referee a choice (so it appears). 11.10 says USB while 12.28.7 says Leaving. How could (or should) the referee award an IFK to the attackers? Could the culprit ever be penalized for DOGSO even though it is an officiating error that lead to the stoppage.

Answer (February 23, 2004):
There is no call for a dropped ball here. The IFAB/FIFA Q&A instructs the referee to allow play to continue and only punish the unsporting behavior at the next stoppage. In the case you describe, the referee would issue the caution for unsporting behavior and show the yellow card, just as if it had been observed by referee and assistant referee during play and allowed to continue until the ball went out of play. The restart will be for whatever reason the play was stopped; i. e., goal kick, corner kick, throw-in, etc.
NOTE: The offense occurs as the player leaves the field, not once the player is already off the field. See below.

However, if the referee had stopped play solely to deal with the unsporting conduct of leaving the field in an attempt to put an attacker in an offside position, then the restart would be an indirect free kick, taken from the place where the misconduct occurred -- which is where the defender left the field. The misconduct is not "off the field" (which would then require a dropped ball), but the act of bringing the game into disrepute by leaving the field to place the opponent in an offside position. The indirect free kick would be taken on the goal line at the place where the player left the field (bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8).


If a coach or assistant coach of a team is not happy with the call that the line ref has made, can the coach or assistant coach request that a certifier or another ref be brought onto the field where the game is in session, who was not scheduled to ref the game to begin with? Also, can they have the certifier or another ref then stop the game and intervene the time of play when the center ref has not called for stoppage of play, so that the certifier or another ref, can train the line ref. Does this not interfere with the game, as well as affect the confidence of the line ref.?

What can I do to bring this to the attention of the right people in authority? Please advise me on this.

Answer (February 17, 2004):
If a coach has a problem with an official, the only recourse available is a written report to the appropriate authorities: the State Referee Administrator, the State Youth Referee Administrator, and the assignor. Nor does any other referee or assessor or instructor or assignor have any right to interfere with any game played under the auspices of the U. S. Soccer Federation.

Your recourse is the same as that available to the coach -- call and then write to the appropriate authorities.


White team is attacking down the right wing in front of AR2. Black player is waiting to substitute, but becomes impatient and enters the field of play during live play. White team player decides that this is not fair and decides to punch the "on the fly" substitute. AR1 and 4th Official get the attention of the Referee. Referee blows the whistle. Ball is now dead on the far side of the field. Referee comes over, gets all the above information from the AR1 and 4th official. Referee issues a Yellow Card to Black Player for Misconduct for entering the field w/o permission and has the Black player return to the bench. Referee issues a Red Card to the White Player for Misconduct for Striking the Black Player. The White Player is "Sent Off" and the White Team now plays with one less man for the rest of the match. What is the correct restart?

Answer (February 16, 2004):
The answer will be found in the IFAB Q&A, Law 3, Q&A 13:
13. A substitute enters the field of play without having obtained the permission of the referee. While the ball is in play, an opponent punches him. What action should the referee take? The referee stops play, sends off the player guilty of violent conduct, cautions the substitute for entering the field of play without the permission of the referee and restart the game by an indirect free-kick for the team of the substitute at the place where the infringement occurred.* [The asterisk refers to the special circumstances described in Law 8.]

This is a change from the published edition, made by FIFA after the 2000 Q&A was published. The indirect free kick restart should actually be FOR the team of the substitute (the Black team; because of the violent conduct of the White Player), rather than against the Black team.


Recently FIFA changed the offside law and there has apparently been chaos in Europe since then. I'd like to know what kind of changes they actually made and how this rule will change the game.

Answer (February 16, 2004):
Whoa! There have been absolutely no changes to Law 11, but simply a restating of how the Law should be interpreted. There will be no change in the way the referee should call the offside in the United States.


I want to be sure of the procedure when a Keeper is ejected. Question: A field player must take over the responsibility of goal keeper when the starting keeper is ejected? Now, at the next appropriate sub situation the coach could replace this goal keeper with one from the bench?

Answer (February 16, 2004):
When a goalkeeper is sent off and shown the red card, he may not be replaced. A team must have a goalkeeper, so there are several possibilities for what happens next. One of the players already on the field may take over as goalkeeper. Or, provided there are substitutions remaing, the team may substitute a new goalkeeper in for one of the other players. The end result, in either case, is that the team must continue the match with one fewer player on the field.

And, as a clarification of terminology, players are not "ejected" from soccer games. They may be "sent off" or "dismissed" or even "ordered from the field," but never "ejected."


If a Ref gives a yellow and the player knocks it out of your hand do you give him a red?

Answer (February 16, 2004):
If, in the opinion of the referee, the player's action constitutes dissent, the referee must caution the player and shown him the yellow card, and then send off and show the player a red card for having committed a second cautionable offense. If, on the other hand, the referee believes the act to constitute violent conduct, the referee would send off the player immediately and show him the red card. Full details must be included in the referee's match report.


I have read the advice on allowing player access to water. Is there advise/suggestions to how a Referee or an AR can get water during play? I am thinking about situations when the temp is around 100 and the competition guidelines do not allow for a "water break."

Answer (February 14, 2004):
The referee and assistant referee should exercise common sense and hydrate well before all games during hot weather. They should also find a sheltered place to leave a bottle of water near the field, so that they can get a drink during a natural break in play.

If all else fails, consider this: If the officials are feeling the adverse effects of heat and humidity, it is a sure bet that the players are also and thus a break for them might be in order -- something that clearly comes under the referee's responsibility for player safety.

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.

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