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February 2008 Archive (II of II)


In a follow-up question to the previous question about enforcing coaches to stay in their technical area and only convey tactical and positive messages (December 31, 2007), how does a referee go about warning the coach? Stopping play to do so draws attention to the situation and hinders the flow. But how can a referee keep one eye on the game and properly inform the coach that his behavior is inappropriate? However, if the coach has been warned and his behavior persists, stopping play would be appropriate to expel him from the game, correct? Also, should assistant referees warn coaches or get the head referee's attention so the head ref can warn them?

Answer (February 20, 2008):
Unless the matter is particularly grave, the referee would usually wait until the next stoppage. However, if the situation is indeed grave -- as any case of abuse would be --then stopping the game and drawing attention to the matter is an excellent tool in and of itself. It sends a clear message that the referee is serious about the matter. In such cases, the referee would stop play with the ball in the possession of the abusive coach's team (if possible), advise the coach or other team official that this behavior is irresponsible and must stop if the coach or other team official wishes to remain in the vicinity of the field. If this warning is not effective, then another stoppage and the expulsion of the coach must follow. No cards, please, unless the rules of the competition require them. Also, do not engage in extended discussions when doing this in any circumstances: State the message and leave.



Is there any position paper and or guidance for local USSF youth recreation leagues allowing a player (u-10) with only one leg, use uses crutches to play soccer? Some referees, it seams will allow this, others will not.

While not USSF, recently a high school player in Pennsylvania was allowed to play using crutches.

Answer (February 14, 2008):
Beyond the most recent USSF position paper on non-compulsory equipment (appended at the bottom of this answer), we are not aware of any further guidance from individual states or leagues. If a state association allows a child (or adult) to register on a team, knowing that he or she needs crutches, then the position paper applies. The state cannot make the determination based on how the equipment may be used or abused. If it proves to be unsafe for the player and/or others, then the person can be removed from the game. If the person uses the crutches to seek an unfair advantage, then it is dealt with within the Laws of the Game. Your state association may need to put its position in writing and to satisfy themselves that the parents have signed a liability waiver, but other than that, the onus should fall on the teams that place these players on their roster. The referee has the right to determine unsafe equipment, but it must be done in accordance with the position paper.

We cannot use a precedent set in a high school game, as those games are not played under the aegis of the U. S. Soccer Federation nor in accordance with the Laws of the Game.

From the U.S. Soccer Communications Center -- Sept. 4, 2003


Subject: Players Wearing Non-Compulsory Equipment

Date: September 3, 2003

On August 25, 2003, FIFA issued Circular #863, regarding the legality of players wearing non-compulsory equipment.

FIFA notes that, under the "Powers and Duties" of the referee in Law 5 -- The Referee, he or she has the authority to ensure that the players' equipment meets the requirements of Law 4, which states that a player must not wear anything that is dangerous.

Modern protective equipment such as headgear, facemasks, knee and arm protectors made of soft, lightweight, padded material are not considered dangerous and are therefore permitted.

FIFA also wishes to strongly endorse the statement on the use of sports spectacles made by the International F.A. Board on March 10, 2001, and subsequently in FIFA Circular #750, dated April 10, 2001. New technology has made sports spectacles much safer, both for the player himself or herself and for other players. This applies particularly to younger players.

Referees are expected to take full account of this fact and it would be considered extremely unusual for a referee to prevent a player taking part in a match because he or she was wearing modern sports spectacles.

Referees are reminded of the following points which can assist in guiding their decisions on this matter:
- Look to the applicable rules of the competition authority.
- Inspect the equipment.
- Focus on the equipment itself - not how it might be improperly used, or whether it actually protects the player.
- Remember that the referee is the final word on whether equipment is dangerous.



I've been looking through the "archive" but I haven't found the answer to my question yet, so I thought I'd just write.

I realize that this is very trivial, but a U10 coach asked me (in order to properly instruct his players) about proper positioning of players for kick-off. Are they allowed to stand on the line or not?

Law 8 states "all players are in their half of the field".

Without hesitation I said that you can treat the halfway line during kick-off like you would a throw-in-"has part of each foot either on the touch line or ...outside the touch line" or in this case the halfway line.

To make sure of my answer I asked a fellow referee who I feel is very knowledgeable about the laws of the game but his reply was different. He said you need to look at the halfway line like offside-"any part of his head, body or feet is nearer...", in this case, the halfway line.

I then went to a 3rd source that I felt confident about but ended up with a 3rd opinion. In this case they said "any part of the body, including the hands, over the halfway line would be an infringement."

So now I'm not sure what the correct response is. What does USSF have to say?

Answer (February 13, 2008):
Our first reaction was incredulity that anyone would even ask, but this was tempered by the realization that the location is a point not really covered in the instructional program. Nevertheless, after a moment of reflection, the answer came readily to mind.

Law 1 tells us: "The field of play is marked with lines. These lines belong to the areas of which they are boundaries." Therefore, if the players stand on the halfway line they are in their own half of the field. If their heads or feet are slightly over the line, it makes no difference.

NOTE: In response to another query, asking what the difference is between the required positioning for kick-offs for determining offside position at the halfway line, we responded:
Technically, if any part of a player that can legally play the ball is past the midfield line, they are in the opponent's end of the field, For offside purposes, this matters; for kick-off restarts it doesn't matter.



There are two scenarios I want to ask for your opinion. Both scenarios take place during a tie-breaking Kicks from the Mark situation. The first scenario involves issuing a red card after the referee has blown the whistle to start the kick. So, the referee blows the whistle then the attacking player does something that constitutes a red card. What is the procedure? Does the attacker forfeit the opportunity to kick?

The second scenario involves issuing a red card before the whistle starts the kick. A scenario for this would be the attacking player punches the other team's last kicker while passing him to the penalty area. Does the attacker forfeit the opportunity to kick in this scenario?

Answer (February 13, 2008):
This is one of those made-up questions, right? We would prefer to receive valid questions that pertain to actual games, but will answer this particular hypothetical one. In Kicks from the Penalty Mark (KFTPM) the referee truly has only three people to manage at any one time and the pressures on the kicker, especially after the signal has been given, are such that it is unlikely he or she will commit a serious offense worthy of a dismissal at that time.

There are very few occasions when at the taking of KFTPM a kicker can get into trouble that would warrant a red card once the signal has been given. A second caution or the use of offensive or abusive or insulting language or gestures are probably the only two. We would expect that in either of those scenarios the intelligent referee would be able to manage both sorts of misconduct in a practical manner. The second scenario is more likely, because it is quite likely that something will be said as the players pass one another.

If the kicker infringes Law 12 after the whistle but before the kick, the kick is taken by the same (in the case of a simple caution) player or by another player (in the case of a dismissal of the player involved) once the appropriate punishment for the infringement of Law 12 has been meted out.

If the serious misconduct occurs before the referee's whistle, that player's team is still entitled to take the kick from the penalty mark, after the player is sent off and shown the red card.


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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