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July 2005 Archive

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THROW-IN 2005-2006

Your question:
1) A defender must now be 2 yards/meters from an attacker taking a throw in. What if the attacker advances down the line (the law allows a yard, and in fact they often take more) in such a a manner that the attacker's distance from the defender is less than two yards prior to throwing the ball. Must the defender continue to back up from his original legal spot to maintain the 2 yard distance, or is the thrower having moved "at his own risk."

2) A defender is 2 yards form a thrower. Literally at the taking of the (but not after) the throw, the defender encroaches and this action affects the throw/or thrower. I realize the encroachment is dealt with via a caution. What is the restart?

Answer (July 6, 2005):
1) The opponent must obey the requirements of Law 15.
2) If this occurs during the throw, the throw-in is retaken after the caution for unsporting behavior.


I have a question regarding the Code of Ethics. In particular, the question is regarding a referee who also plays for an organized club team.

When a referee plays for a club team, is that person still bound by their status as a referee to adhere to the code of ethics? If so and the individual violates one or more of the components of the Code of Ethics, what recourse should be taken toward that individual?

Answer (July 5, 2005):
A referee is bound by the Code of Ethics in all soccer-related activities.

If you have a complaint regarding a referee, you may follow the procedure outlined in Policy 531-10, Misconduct at a Match. You can find this policy at , select Services from the left hand menu, then Bylaws and Policies, click on the Policy Manual and it will come up. Then you should scroll down to the appropriate policy. The complaint is filed with your state soccer association or youth soccer association, whichever is appropriate to your state.



I am helping our local amateur league with a situation and I was hoping I could lend your expertise whether this situation was handled correctly or not. I have tried to reseach this, but could not come up with anything in writing or of any precident that I know of.

A game was played between a team in white and a team in yellow. Proper procedure for players is to present a player pass to the referee crew and must be noted down by name and number before entry into the game (usually done during pregame inspection) White #7 was cautioned for dissent in the 40th minute.

Just after the whistle to start the second half, the referee notices that white #7 is on the field, but is a different player. The referee notices by remembering the face of the original #7. After some searching, it is noticed in the 50th minute that the original #7 is now a substitute (reentry is allowed in this game), and is now wearing #8. None of the referee crew was notified of the change. The referee allowed play to continue and would have dealt with the situation accordingly by if the new white #7 committed a cautionable offense, that he would not be shown a red card for 2 yellows, and if the new #8 committed a cautionable offense, he would have been shown a red card for 2 yellow cards. In both situations, both teams would have then been informed of the jersey switch at the appropriate time.

Fortunately, neither of these things occurred. But the referee did note the number change without notifying the referee in the game report to the league. As of the game, there is no separate league rule regarding players changing numbers during a game but the league is imposing a game suspension to any offending player if it ever occurs again in any league game. I had also explained to league administrators that for many, many years, players were asked for their names by the referee when booked or sent off, not just numbers being recorded, so numbers were not always relied upon for player identification. Do you think the referee did the right actions?

Should have the referee informed both teams at the next immediate stoppage after noticing the change?

Some people suggested that both players should have been cautioned for unsporting behavior once the referee noticed the change because they are trying to decieve the referee. Would this have been correct? I could only find for players changing with the goalkeeper without the referees permission (mandatory), but not with other field players. Also, in this case, many problems would occur as would white play with 10 or 11 players and do you restart the 2nd half over again or continue from that point on?

Answer (July 4, 2005):
Whether it is in the rules of the competition or not, tradition dictates that players wear the same number throughout the match unless forced to change by circumstance (e. g., blood on the jersey or a torn jersey). Any other change of numbers would be regarded as an attempt to deceive the referee and would be treated as unsporting behavior. The referee should caution and show the yellow card to both players for unsporting behavior. The original White #7 would then be expelled and shown the red card for receiving a second caution in the same match. Because the original White #7 was not a player at the time of the second caution, White would continue to play with eleven players. The referee should report full details in the match report.


It has always been my understanding that a player taking a penalty kick cannot stop and restart his approach to the ball. I've seen MLS games recently and a penalty has been scored and counted twice after the kicker came to a complete stop before finishing his run up to the ball and then scoring. Not only was it counted, but the question about the approach wasn't even brought up in the analysis of the kick. I researched the FIFA Laws of the Game from the link provided on FIFA's website and couldn't find anything that detailed the rules that govern a players run toward the ball on a penalty kick. Has that rule been changed recently or is it one of those rules that is written in the book but just not enforced very rigorously much like the goalie moving off the goal line on a penalty?

Answer (July 4, 2005):
FIFA clarified in 2002 that the kicker may seek to misdirect (or feint) at the taking of a penalty kick. USSF, in a memo of October 14, 2004 on this subject, identified four specific actions by the kicker that could constitute misconduct:
- he delays unnecessarily after being signaled by the referee to proceed,
- he runs past the ball and then backs up to take the kick,
- he excessively changes direction during the run to the ball, or
- he makes any motion of the hand or arm which is clearly intended to misdirect the attention of the goalkeeper.

In such cases, the referee should suspend the procedure, caution the player involved, and then signal once again for the kick to be taken. If the kick has already been taken, the referee should order it retaken only if the ball enters the goal. The player must still be cautioned for his misconduct regardless of the outcome. If the kick is not to be retaken (see above), the game is restarted with an indirect free kick for the defending team where Law 14 was violated.

As to the goalkeeper leaving the line early, all referees are expected to order a retake of a penalty kick or a kick from the penalty mark if the 'keeper's movement off the line has interfered with the kicker's ability to score the goal.

NOTE: This answer corrects an answer sent out on March 30, 2005.


This weekend we had some Š teenage boys matches in our area, with the heat index up to 102 degrees Farenheit, no wind, and high humidity. At the mutual agreement of the coaches and players, we elected to hold up play about half-way through each half in order to let the boys (and officials) take a short break for water. We felt that in the interest of safety, it was the right thing to do since the rules of the league require limited substitutions.

We are now being chastised for this by the league officials - note the comments below by the league commissioner.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but going "by the book" also means the referee can use his (her) discretion to allow such breaks when they make sense - Law 18.

Here's the note from the commissioner: "[Name deleted], I have to also state though I am not happy with hearing about these breaks. I understand how hot it was, but I just sent out something last week to all clubs and assignors about the use of substitutions, and now I have you taking it under your own jurisdiction to allow breaks.

We need these games played by the book. Please reply to confirm."

Your quick response to my question would be greatly appreciated.

Answer (July 1, 2005):
The referee has no direct authority to vary the rules of the competition or to stop the game for unspecified reasons. However, the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players. Preventing injury from heat exhaustion would fall into that aspect of the referee's duties. The following answer may be summed up in two words: common sense.

In such situations, both the referee and the team officials share in the responsibility to protect player safety. The referee could, at a stoppage called for any reason, "suggest" the taking of water by any players interested in doing so. The timing of such a break and its length would be at the discretion of the referee. Obviously, the referee could decide to take this approach on his own initiative, with or without prior consultation with the coaches. However, either or both coaches could approach the referee prior to the match and suggest the need for extra hydration, in which case the intelligent referee would be well advised to listen and act accordingly. Of course, the Law also permits players to take water during the match so long as they do not leave the field, water containers are not thrown to them while on the field, and the water itself is not placed along the outside of the field so as to interfere with the responsibilities of the assistant referee. (See the guidance on water and hydration provided in the USSF memorandum of April 26, 2002, available on the USSF website.)

As to the officials, 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.


1 Player A1 is in the offsides pos. between the next to the last def.and the goalie. The next to the last def.goes to clear the ball it hits a player on her team and bounces back to the offside this offsides.
2 Same things except it hits a player on the a team than bounces back.
3 Player in offsides pos. Intercepts ball passed back to goalie from next to last def.

Answer (June 30, 2005):
1. If the Team B defender had established possession of the ball when she tried to clear it, then there is no offside on this play. If there was clearly no possession, then player A1 is offside.

2. Offside in any case.

3. No offside.


I hear that there was a new Offside rule announced in the Concacaf Cup, which states, a player is offside only if he touches the ball. Is this rule going to be enforced for youth and FIFA soccer?

Answer (June 30, 2005):
No new rule was announced at the CONCACAF Cup. The interpretation of when offside should be called has been altered by the International F. A. Baord, the people who write and change the Laws of the Game published by FIFA; this goes into effect for all competitions that begin on or after 1 July 2005. Do not implement this change until you have received written confirmation from your State Director of Instruction or from the U. S. Soccer Federation. Look for a position paper in the near future.

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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