COMMUNICATION BETWEEN REFEREE AND AR
I was an AR in a U19 match this week. The ball was in play near the endline, inside the 6-yard area. I judged a player to have been offside, about a yard off the endline, very shortly before the ball went out of play. I raised my flag to vertical, waited for the whistle, then lowered my flag to horizontal -- to indicate offside in the middle third of the field. The center referee interpreted my signal as the ball having gone across the endline, off the attacking team, with a goal kick for the restart. The rules of the competition allowed for substitutions, so he turned and motioned them onto the field. From my vantage point, the ball actually was last touched by a defender, so had the offside not ocurred, the restart would have been a corner kick (with substitutions allowed by the rules of the competition). I did a quick evaluation, decided the difference was trifling, and let matters go on (which, at halftime, the center agreed was the best course of action). So, my first question is what should I have done differently as a mechanic to indicate that there was an offside infraction, rather than the ball going out of play? The difference seems trifling, from a practical standpoint, with the difference being a direct restart with no possibility of the now attacking team being offside direct from the kick, versus an IFK. And my second question is whether I'm missing anything in the nature of the restart -- is this, for practical purposes, a trifling difference, not to be worried about?
Answer (March 15, 2009):
The referee made the first error in this scenario. The signal you gave was proper and should not have been interpreted as indicating a goal kick restart. If that had been the case, you would have been pointing the flag straight out when you and the referee made eye contact instead of being (as was the case here) held straight upward and followed by being held straight out. The only way your signal could have been an indication of a goal kick would be if the ball had left the field -- unnoticed by the referee but seen by you -- and returned to the field with players still actively playing it as though it had not left the field.
The general guideline, however, is that, given a choice between an offside violation in the area you indicated and a goal kick, FIFA and USSF both recommend going with the goal kick. The restarts in both cases are, for all practical purposes, equivalent and the latter occasions less need for explanation and is more readily accepted. This is not the case in your scenario where, if the indication for offside were not accepted, the restart would have been a corner kick instead of a goal kick. Here, the offside violation must be called. Since the referee misinterpreted your signal, it is incumbent upon you to make the misunderstanding known to the referee.
The argument that the goal kick is similar to the IFK restart for the offside cannot be accepted because the choice was not between offside and a goal kick, it was between offside and a corner kick. Furthermore, the offside restart would possibly not have allowed for substitutions whereas the goal kick restart did.
NUMBER OF CAPTAINS PER TEAM
I have recently encountered teams sending multiple players onto the field with a captain's armband on. It is my understanding that there should be one captain per team, per match with an armband.
Answer (March 15, 2009):
While the traditional number of captains per team is one, there is no limit in the Laws of the Game on the number of captains a team may appoint for each game.
However, as a practical matter, when a team sends more than one person out for the coin toss, the intelligent referee will ask who is the MAIN captain -- the one to speak with if there is a problem (and that is the only one who should be recorded in the referee's notebook). This is not American football, and we must distinguish between coming out for the coin toss and being officially recorded as THE captain. There should be only one player per team who is THE captain.
ONCE YOU INTERFERE WITH A RESTART, IT BECOMES "CEREMONIAL"
The following happened late in the season in a U16 boys travel game. Experienced, skillful teams. With about 5 minutes left in the game, I whistle a tripping foul on the defense (who is leading 2-1) about 5 yards out from the left corner of their penalty area. The attacker who is going to take the kick places the ball where I indicate, and a 3-man defensive wall quickly forms approximately 10 yards in front of the ball. The attacker positions himself to take a quick free kick, but a fourth defender strolls in front of him, walking slowly towards the defensive wall. The attacker stares at me, knowing (from what my practice in the game has been so far), that if he asks for 10 yards, I'm going to make the kick ceremonial, which he clearly doesn't want. So he says nothing. At this point, it seems that I am hamstrung. If I don't do anything, the attacker is unfairly denied a quick unobstructed free kick. If I whistle to caution the fourth defender, the kick becomes ceremonial, which the attacker didn't want (and this late in the game and the season, a caution would be a very small price to pay for denying the quick free kick). If I move to actively manage the wall, the kick also becomes ceremonial.
What I did was to say sharply to the fourth defender, 'Back up!'. He took one more step toward his defensive wall, whereupon the attacker blasted the ball into the upper right corner of the net, tying the game.
The defending team was of the opinion that my two words to the fourth defender were sufficient to make the kick ceremonial, they protested, and lost the protest. But the protest committee thought this was a close case, noting that generally anything a referee says in this situation tends to make the kick ceremonial. I don't disagree, but am at loss as to how best to manage this situation fairly.
Answer (March 11, 2009):
You did not commit any breach of the Laws, so we cannot comment on the advice of the protest committee, although they are correct in that by saying those two words you did interfere in the taking of the free kick, thus turning it into a ceremonial free kick. However, we are at a loss to design any other way for you to accomplish the end you had in mind, short of immediately stopping the game, cautioning the defender, and then signaling for the kick to continue. Given that you made a different choice, the only other thing we could suggest for your consideration would be a caution to the defender for unsporting behavior, administered after the kick.
PUTTING THE BALL INTO PLAY AT A KICK RESTART
Advice 13.5 has changed to read, 'Being "kicked" can include an action in which the ball is dragged by continuous contact with the foot.' What would happen if a player used the bottom of the foot to roll the ball forward, and then without losing contact between foot and ball pulled the ball backward? Would that be a proper restart at a free kick? What about the special kicks (kickoff, PK) that have to go forward?
Does the change in Advice 13.5 change the answer of Sept 27, 2007?
Answer (March 11, 2009):
The information included in Advice 13.5 is quite clear:
13.5 BALL IN PLAY
The ball is in play (able to be played by an attacker other than the kicker or by an opponent) when it has been kicked and moved. The distance to be moved is minimal and the "kick" need only be a touch of the ball with the foot in a kicking motion. Simply tapping the top of the ball with the foot or stepping on the ball are not sufficient.
When the restart of play is based on the ball being kicked and moved, the referee must ensure that the ball is indeed kicked (touched with the foot in a kicking motion) and moved (caused to go from one place to another). Being "kicked" can include an action in which the ball is dragged by continuous contact with the foot. The referee must make the final decision on what is and is not "kicked and moved" based on the spirit and flow of the match.
The referee must judge carefully whether any particular kick of the ball and subsequent movement was indeed reasonably taken with the intention of putting the ball into play rather than with the intention merely to position the ball for the restart. If the ball is just being repositioned (even if the foot is used to do this), play has not been restarted. Likewise, referees should not unfairly punish for "failing to respect the required distance" when an opponent was clearly confused by a touch and movement of the ball which was not a restart.
The referee must make the final decision on what is a "kick" and what is "not a kick" based on his or her feeling for the game-what FIFA calls "Fingerspitzengefühl" (literally: "sensing with one's fingertips").
END OF QUOTE
In other words, it tells us what the referee should look for at a kick restart. However, that does not mean that the referee should not consider tradition and custom in making decisions. See, for example, the information in the answer of September 27, 2007:
USSF answer (September 27, 2007):
While the procedure you describe, rolling the ball forward, etc., is not what we would allow on a free kick (see below) and certainly not what is required by Law 8, it is commonly accepted practice for kick-offs at all levels of soccer. We have seen it allowed even at the current Women's World Cup in China and in other high-level competitions throughout the world.
The kick-off, like the throw-in, is simply a way to get the game restarted when the ball has left the field. It is, and should be, regarded as a relaxed and less tense way of doing so. We allow trifling infringements of Law 15 in this regard, and we should do the same in the case of the kick-off.
What you describe does not meet the requirements of Law 8 for a kick-off. As always, however, the issue is indeed whether the action is a violation (it is), but we must consider whether the violation should/must/needs to be handled by a stoppage and a retake of the restart. Unless the player performing the kick-off incorrectly gains some unfair benefit, we are inclined to consider the violation trifling (on par with a teammate illegally standing just over the midfield line on a kick-off to "receive" the ball). As it occurs at the very highest levels on a routine basis, you might, at most, warn the kicker that what just happened was a technical violation of the Law. However, we would recommend that you consider it trifling and punish it only if the players begin to take even greater advantage of the referee's kindness.
Now, if we are dealing with a free kick, the requirements of Law 13 would apply completely: When the restart of play is based on the ball being kicked and moved, the referee must ensure that the ball is indeed kicked (touched with the foot in a kicking motion) and moved (caused to go from one place to another). Being "kicked" does not, for example, include an action in which the ball is dragged by continuous contact with the foot. Being "moved" does not, for example, include the ball simply quivering, trembling, or shaking as a result of light contact. The referee must make the final decision on what is and is not "kicked and moved" based on the spirit and flow of the match. In all events, the ball must be put into play properly.
END OF QUOTE
When you consider custom and tradition, he two pieces of information are not inconsistent with one another.
Finally, we might add that the kick-off is also the way of starting a period of play.
SECOND TOUCH AT A PENALTY KICK
During my last game, I was an AR and there was a PK. The kicker sent the ball to the goal post, it bounced back on the field and she kicked it again going out of bounds for a goal kick. I raised my flag as soon as the kicker hit the rebound, however the CR said goal kick (which told me that he didn't know that part of the law)...
I lowered my flag right away, thinking that I was not going to make a difference.
However, I thought what would have happened if the ball went in the goal... I would have raised my flag but what if the CR still declared a goal...
So my question is, what would be the right way to proceed in this scenario if you are the AR? Should you stay on the goal line trying to bring the CR's attention? What if the CR does not agree with you, should the AR just lower the flag and concede the goal?
Answer (March 11, 2009):
If the referee declares such a play of the ball to be a goal, it is the assistant referee's clear duty to give the referee the correct advice. If the referee refuses to take this advice, then the assistant referee has done his or her duty.
AR AND REFEREE POSITIONS AT RESTARTS NEAR GOAL
In a recent game, Blue has a throw-in approximately 6 yards from Yellow's goal line. Players for both teams are gathered on the 18. The CR is about 28 yards out, watching the players in the middle.
One option for the AR is to be in line with the 2nd to last defender on the 18, watching for offside. Yes, we know you cannot be offside on a throw-in, but there is opportunity for the ball to be thown to the middle of the field and played by someone there to another player who could now be in an offside position.
Another option for the AR is to be positioned between the player making the throw-in and the corner flag. This position allows the AR to keep all players and the ball between the AR and the CR.
1) In the absence of the CR assuming responsibility for the offside calls and instructing the AR to go to the corner, which option would be the best position for the AR?
2) In this particular case, does it make sense for the CR to move to the 18 and cover the offside calls as well as the play, or should the CR stay back in order to have a better angle to watch the play?
Answer (March 11, 2009):
You seem to have set up a false dichotomy. The assistant referee's position on a throw-in is always "even with the second-to-last defender or the ball, whichever is closer to the goal line." In cases where the second-last defender is farther downfield (i .e., farther away from the goal line than the ball), then the rule still applies, but with the proviso that the AR cannot be where the ball is since that is also where the thrower is. Accordingly, the general rule is modified slightly as "even with the second to last defender or the ball, whichever is closer to the goal line, and also between the thrower and the AR's goal line."
What this means in practice is that, if the second-last defender is closer, then the AR is even with that defender which, by necessity, places him between the thrower and the goal line. If the second-last defender is upfield, the AR is simply between the thrower and the goal line. In either case, the AR must be prepared to adjust based on movement of the ball and the second-to-last defender as a result of the throw-in. What the AR must not do in an attempt to be even with the ball is to stand next to the thrower or even with the thrower but way off the touchline -- the AR must still be on the touchline.
For examples, see the diagrams in the USSF publication "Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials" 2008-2009 edition, pp. 17, 18, 31-34.
The referee should be in a place where he/she can see where play is and where it is going, can see the AR, and is not in space the players need to use.
CORRECT PROCEDURE FOR TAKING A THROW-IN
This is a question related to the throw-in. I have seen this called, and called it myself many times, but as I now look over the LOTG again, as well as advice, I find no backing for it. It could be that this is one of those that has historical significance and is no longer written, or I may have just been doing it wrong.
The LOTG states that a player must throw the ball with two hands, starting from behind the head. I have seen an addition, in practice, in which the thrower must throw the ball straight in the direction they are facing. For example, a red player taking a throw against blue team. Red player is facing towards blue team's goal, but angles his arms during the throw to send the ball towards his own defensive player, the opposite direction that he is facing. I have also heard that it is illegal to throw the ball in a way that causes it to spin sideways. What is the correct ruling on this? I look forward to your answer before spring season starts in a couple of weeks.
Answer (March 11, 2009):
The USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game," 2008-2009 edition, lifts the veil from the mystery of the throw-in. Read the first sentence of Advice 15.3:
15.3 PROPERLY TAKEN THROW-IN
A throw-in must be performed while the thrower is facing the field, but the ball may be thrown into the field in any direction. Law 15 states that the thrower "delivers the ball from behind and over his head." This phrase does not mean that the ball must leave the hands from an overhead position. A natural throwing movement starting from behind and over the head will usually result in the ball leaving the hands when they are in front of the vertical plane of the body. The throwing movement must be continued to the point of release. A throw-in directed straight downward (often referred to as a "spike") has traditionally been regarded as not correctly performed; if, in the opinion of the referee such a throw-in was incorrectly performed, the restart should be awarded to the opposing team. There is no requirement in Law 15 prohibiting spin or rotational movement. Referees must judge the correctness of the throw-in solely on the basis of Law 15.
The acrobatic or "flip" throw-in is not by itself an infringement so long as it is performed in a manner which meets the requirements of Law 15.
A player who lacks the normal use of one or both hands may nevertheless perform a legal throw-in provided the ball is delivered over the head and provided all other requirements of Law 15 are observed.
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 Paul Tamberino, Director of Referee Development; David McKee, National Director of Assessment (assessment matters); and Ulrich Strom, National Instructor and National Assessor (matters in general).
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