DIAGONAL SYSTEM OF CONTROL
While using the diagonal system of control is there anything that prevents a referee from using a right diagonal instead of a left?
While working a tournament I was told by a referee that has been in USSF for a while that I can not choose to run a right unless there is a good reason such as deteriorated field conditions where the AR's would run in a left diagonal. Supposedly there was a directive put out by USSF on this matter but with about an hour or 2 of reading and searching couldn't find anything on it. I did find one question on here that mentioned an EPL game answered on July 22, 2006 but it didn't really answer it.
I had been choosing to run a right number 1, because I feel more comfortable in that pattern. The other reason I do it is players aren't used to me being there and it keeps them on their toes by me being there when they don't expect it.
Is there any documentation to support my preference or am I doing something that is prohibited.
Answer (June 11, 2009):
The "standard" diagonal for the referee is the one that runs from bottom right to upper left of the field, just as shown in the diagrams in the back of the Law book. However, there is no "rule" that says the referee cannot run the other direction instead. And that other diagonal may be the one best suited for either the personality of the referee and the conditions of the field, as you point out. If you wish to use the opposite diagonal, you are more than welcome to do so.
Referees should remember there is no actual fixed diagonal run. The "diagonal system of control" is simply a name for a way of ensuring proper coverage by the referee and the assistant referees for management of the game. According to the 2009-2010 edition of the Guide to Procedures, the referee's positioning during play is flexible, using the diagonal system of control. The referee:
* Follows positioning diagram guidelines during play and at restarts but uses discretion to choose alternate positions when needed
* Able to observe active play and lead assistant referee
* Remains close enough to observe important aspects of play without interfering with player or ball movement
* Understands that attention may be needed elsewhere on the field to monitor behavior of specific players not actively involved with playing the ball
And, as you mentioned in your question, it is also practical to use the reverse diagonal due to the condition of the pitch (particularly the status of the AR's patrol area) or, occasionally, to take an AR away from people (spectators or team).
COACHES AND CELL PHONES
Is there anything in the FIFA laws of the game that prohibit the use of a cell phone in the technical area by a coach to get or relay tactical or technical information to another on the opposite side of the field?
Is there a special ATR section that deals with such a possibility?
If that other person relaying information to the coach was a referee is he in violation of code of conduct?
I think there is a BAN for a dismissed coach from contacting the technical area.
If there are no competition by-laws that adequately deal with the two way radio communication via cellphone. If the OTHER person was NOT in the technical area but across the field and was yelling tactical/technical instructions to the players is he an extension of the coach outside the technical area?
I appreciate your thoughts on this. While USA might be different I need to know if there is an ethical or moral issue here?
Answer (June 11, 2009):
Under FIFA rules of competition, suspended coaches are neither forbidden nor allowed to communicate with their teams via mobile phones during FIFA matches. FIFA will not take any action. Nor is there anything in the Laws of the Game or Q&A to cover this. Accordingly, subject only to the requirement that the team official behaves in a responsible manner, mobile phones, headsets, walkie-talkies, and other similar communication devices may be used in the technical area.
To ensure better compliance from its teams, perhaps the league should provide more complete rules and guidance to the teams as to what constitutes "suspension" and what a coach or other team official who is under suspension may and may not do. It is not up to referees to police disciplinary rules of a competition.
DELIBERATE HANDLING VS. OFFSIDE -- REINFORCED
RE: DELIBERATE HANDLING VS. OFFSIDE -- NEW INTERPRETATION
I read with interest your discussion of deliberate handling by a defender that prevents a pass by an attacker from reaching another attacker in an offside position. You stated that, given new offside interpretations, this should be considered deliberate handling rather than offside. My question involves a slightly different situation that was discussed around 1997 in an issue of Fair Play, if I remember correctly: deliberate handling by a defender that deflects a pass by an attacker, redirecting it to another attacker in an offside position. Assuming that the deflection is not considered control for purposes of resetting the offside situation, should this still be considered offside if the attacker in the offside position plays the ball (but not if he refrains from doing so)? The difference between the new situation and the old one is that in the new situation the handling prevents the player in an offside position from interfering with play, while in the old situation the handling enables the player in an offside position to interfere with play. I believe that the USSF interpretation circa 1997 for the old situation was that when involvement by the player in the offside position eventually occurs, the offside offense is deemed to have occurred at the time of the pass, which predates the handling. In the old situation, however, the handling predates involvement by the player in the offside position.
USSF answer (June 11, 2009): We see no functional difference (under the current guidelines from the IFAB) between deliberate handling that prevents a ball from going to an attacker in an offside position and deliberate handling that results in the ball going to an attacker in an offside position (who, presumably, would not have been able to even consider playing the ball but for the handling). Either way, the handling must be called and, either way, the offside offense has not occurred -- in the first situation because the ball was redirected and, in the second situation, because the attacker isn't even given a chance to make contact with the ball because the handling occurred first (and the AR's flag should not go up in either case for anything related to offside).
Now a simple redirection of the ball from an accidental deflection off the defender is a different matter and the offside would be called.
Answer (JUNE 11, 2009):
We see no functional difference (under the current guidelines from the IFAB) between deliberate handling that prevents a ball from going to an attacker in an offside position and deliberate handling that results in the ball going to an attacker in an offside position (who, presumably, would not have been able to even consider playing the ball but for the handling). Either way, the handling must be called and, either way, the offside offense has not occurred -- in the first situation because the ball was redirected and, in the second situation, because the attacker isn't even given a chance to make contact with the ball because the handling occurred first (and the AR's flag should not go up in either case for anything related to offside).
Now a simple redirection of the ball from an accidental deflection off the defender is a different matter and the offside would be called.
HANDLING VS. OFFSIDE -- CAUTION?
With reference to your recent answer regarding deliberate handling and offside:
A long forward pass is attempted from attacker A1 to attacker A2, who is in an offside position. Defender D1 deliberately handles the ball to prevent it from reaching A2. Defender D2 is near A2, with no other attacker in the vicinity. D2 would have easily controlled the ball, assuming that A2 does not interfere, but for D1's handling. Should we really caution D1 for a tactical foul, since the handling did not break up an attack? In deciding on whether to caution D1, doesn't the referee need to determine whether a legitimate attack is possible?
Answer (Jun 11, 2009):
The referee must do what is best for the game in any situation like this. However, if a player gets away with a blatant deliberate handling offense once, he or she will do it again. The intelligent referee will be able to figure out what will happen to their game if that goes on.
In addition, you have introduced a potentially significant element tin your scenario that was not present in the original situation -- the caution for a tactical foul presumes that the foul was tactical and this is what the referee has to decide. The issue you are raising -- which must also be taken into account -- is whether the foul was intended to be tactical even if, in fact, it turned out not to be tactical. In other words, the defender may not have taken his teammate into account (didn't know his teammate was so close, knew his teammate was close but was a klutz, whatever) and thus, in his mind, he was indeed attempting to stop the opponents' attacking play. After all, the misconduct is based as much on the clear intentions of the perpetrator as it is on the actual outcome.
LYING ON THE RAILROAD TRACKS
Can the player from the opposing team lay down on the ground in the path of a player to try and impede him? Is it a penalty if he does?
Answer (June 11, 2009):
Surely you jest! We find it hard to imagine a player lying down in the path of an opponent, much less trying to hinder or delay the opponent that way. Way too dangerous a thing to do. However, if a player were indeed crazy enough to do it, the foul would be playing in a dangerous manner, punishable with an indirect free kick for the opposing team at the place where the foul occurred. Or, as you suggest in your question, it could also be "impeding the progress of an opponent" (particularly an opponent so lacking in athletic ability as to be unable to jump over someone on the ground).
DELAYING THE RESTART OF PLAY
Often times in the MLS I see a very frustrating tactic and I have seen this in the matches I referee. Players stand in front of the ball at free kicks, especially in dangerous areas. Often times because of the unpunished nature of the offense it also happens at midfield. Players often times want a quick restart and this prevents this tactic. I feel frustrated as a biased fan. I can't imagine how frustrated players get and parents get at youth matches. I imagine that both sides are getting frustrated.
Since I feel like the enforcement of the law is not very consistent with the 7+7 memorandum I want to know how to prevent the tactic and when does it become a cautionable offense. What are the criteria for it to become cautionable? I know what the memorandum says but what sort of advice do you have on enforcing this law? One example (from a biased Seattle fan) would be the incident where Riley was sent off in the LA Galaxy match. Shouldn't the player who clearly "provoked" the confrontation receive a caution. Under the 7+7 memorandum provoking a confrontation by touching the ball after the referee has stopped play is one of the offenses of special concern of FIFA. I was surprised to find it was not in the week in review.
Answer (June 11, 2009):
We are fortunate to have input from Brian Hall, U. S. Soccer's Manager of Assessment and Training. First, let us address your question regarding the Riley situation. You are correct, the player who withheld the ball from Riley and, therefore, prevented Riley from putting the ball into play quickly should have been cautioned for delaying the restart of play. This exact subject was covered in U.S. Soccer's "Week In Review 8" which can be found at http://www.ussoccer.com/referees/weekinreview.jsp.html (select week 8).
Explanation and video review of the subject are covered coinciding with Video Clip 2: Los Angeles at Seattle.
Now, to your broader question. Referees have been instructed and continue to receive guidance relative to delaying the restart and not respecting the required distance. In fact, the overall management of free kick restarts is covered as one of U.S. Soccer Referee Program's main directives for 2009.
These directives can be downloaded at:
http://www.ussoccer.com/articles/viewArticle.jsp_13172742.html. However, if you are watching the game worldwide, you will see referees elsewhere are facing the exact same challenges.
In the 2008-09 publication of the Laws of the Game, FIFA revised the wording relative to "distance" and free kicks. Check the new section FIFA has introduced to replace the old "Questions and Answers:" "Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees." In this section, the term "distance" is defined:
"If a player decides to take a free kick quickly and an opponent is less than 9.15 meters from the ball intercepts it, the referee must allow play to continue." It also states....
"If a player decides to take a free kick quickly and an opponent who is near the ball deliberately prevents him taking the kick, the referee must caution the player for delaying the restart."
Key terms are "intercepts," and "deliberately prevents." Upon reading U.S. Soccer's directive on "Free Kick and Restart Management," you will see that "deliberately prevents" is defined as "lunging or advancing forward or toward the ball." So, if a defender is less than 10 yards and he/she lunges or advances forward toward the ball and then makes contact with the ball, this player must be cautioned for delaying the restart. On the other hand, if an attacker takes a free kick and the defender is less than 10 yards but in view of the attacker, then the attacker assumes the risk of the quick free kick and any defensive contact would not be punishable (the kicker knew the location of the defender at the time he/she took the free kick).
Finally, as the directive implores officials, preventative measures should be utilized. Upon seeing players who act as a "statue" in front of the ball or who are less than 10 yards, referees should use presence to move the defender back and prevent further occurrences.
MAJOR CHANGE IN INTERPRETATION!!!
A pass from a teammate goes to an attacker in an offside position. Only this attacker is in the area of the pass and it is clear that the pass was intended for this attacker. While the ball is in the air, a defender reaches up and handles the ball to prevent it reaching this attacker. Should we call the handling foul even though we know that we will call this attacker for an offside violation if the ball reaches him?
Answer (June 9, 2009):
ATTENTION!!! All referees please note that this answer involves a change in prior guidance due to the evolving interpretation of the offside offense by the International Football Association (the people who make the Laws).
Back in "the good old days," pre-2008, it would have been simple: Punish the offside (interfering with play) and award the indirect free kick to the defender's team, but caution the defender for unsporting behavior for the deliberate handling of the ball. This was based on the argument that the offside offense occurred first and, since it was going to be called because the pass was clearly "going to" the attacker, the referee's decision to accept the AR's flag for the offside stopped play and the handling therefore occurred during a stoppage. The caution was for unsporting behavior since it was the defender's intention to "interfere with attacking play."
Now, however, in the modern, post-2008 era, we are unable to do this because the offside offense has become somewhat more complicated. Under current guidance for deciding if an attacker in an offside position has interfered with play, we look to whether or not the attacker makes contact with the ball (not counting the possibility that the attacker's actions might be considered to have interfered with an opponent). We must remember that, despite the intentions of the teammate and despite how clearly the ball is "going to" the attacker, that attacker could still decide not to interfere with play by avoiding all contact with the ball. That "pass to the attacker" by itself does not constitute interfering with play. Consequently, based solely on that "pass to the attacker," the AR should not raise the flag for an offside violation, so we are left with the handling offense -- direct free kick (or penalty kick if the handling occurred in the defender's penalty area). The referee should still caution the defender for the tactical foul. If the AR does mistakenly raise the flag based solely on the pass, the referee should wave it down and proceed as indicated to deal with the handling.
WHAT'S IN A PREGAME CONFERENCE?
Your answers to questions frequently illuminate topics that should be discussed in the referee team's pregame conference. Yet I have a difficult time remembering all of the various topics that should be addressed in pregame. I have searched but have been unsuccessful in finding a guide or outline for the pregame conference.
What are the topics that the referee A) must discuss, B)should discuss, and C) might discuss with his assistants in the pregame conference. I imagine that the topics in categories B and C will likely depend upon the experience of the referee team, age level and competition level of the match, among other factors.
Answer (June 5, 2009):
Your imagination is working well. As leader of the officiating team, the referee must establish during the pregame conference how the team will work and cooperate. The referee (depending on his or her own level of experience) should tailor the pregame to fit the composition of the refereeing crew, including their likely varying levels of knowledge and fitness; the age, competition, and skill levels of the players; and the particular requirements of the competition itself. It is often useful for the referee to develop a checklist for topics to be covered in the pregame conference. The amount of detail would be tailored to the needs (see above) of the referee, the assistant referees (ARs), and the fourth official. First and foremost, the referee must ensure that the ARs (and a fourth official) are familiar with the guidelines and mechanics laid out in the USSF publication "Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials."
For starters, when working with unfamiliar crew members, the very first task (after introductions) is to ask questions which (gently) elicit information about these issues -- e.g., How long officiating? Grade level? Most frequent level of assignment? Club/league/association? Entry class instructor (if within first or second year of experience)? This will help the referee tailor the pregame to the needs of the team.
Ideal topics for the checklist would include the duties of the AR, signals of the AR (including NOT signalling when the referee can clearly see the incident), what to do when AR signals are missed by the referee (such as when and how long to maintain the flag); duties of the fourth official (if one is assigned); differences between the rules of the competition and the Laws of the Game, if any; what the ARs should do in situations that are not covered by the Laws of the Game, such as unofficial signals or when the AR may/should enter the field; duties at a penalty kick; a reminder to communicate at all possible moments (such as a quick look exchanged between the referee and the lead AR on all through balls or at stoppages in play. Likely the most important item is a reminder to the ARs and the fourth to immediately alert the referee to any mistakes in procedure, such as having cautioned a player a second time but failed to send that player off.
Finally, the referee should encourage the ARs (and a possible fourth official) to ask questions during the pregame conference, just to ensure that they have understood what has been discussed and what they are to do.
OFFSIDE AND ADVANTAGE
The assistant signals an offside position against team A.
The central ref does not notice the signal. Meanwhile team B regains possession of the ball and on the counter attack they score. During all this time the AR still keeps his flag up. The central ref allows the goal, but before the restart he notices the AR's flag and goes to him. The AR tells him about the offside position. The ref disallows the goal and comes back to award team B the indirect free kick due to the offside position signaled by the AR.
What should have been the correct decision? I have understood that there is no advantage at offsides, so the offside needs to be punished, right?
Myself, I would have allowed the goal, as I would have considered that the AR made a mistake keeping the flag up. The recommendation is that if the AR signals the offside position and the central ref does not see the signal, the AR must put down the flag when the defending team has gained clear possession of the ball. Right?
Answer (June 5, 2009):
The clear and uncontested answer is that the assistant referee (AR) should have lowered the flag as soon as the opposing team gained control of the ball. (See the Interpretation/Guidelines for Referees, Law 6, in the back of the Law book.) Allow the goal, slap the AR on the wrist for keeping the flag up unnecessarily and thus interfering with the game.
That said, there are some disturbing statements in your question that could confuse referees, assistant referees, players, coaches, and spectators.
1. Signal offside position?
The assistant referee (AR) should NEVER signal simply offside position. He or she should signal only a definite offside; this means that the player in question is in an offside position and is involved in play. The referee than makes the decision as to whether there truly is offside, or that the offside signaled by the AR will not be called. In other words, offside either is or is not. In all events, the AR must know for certain that a player in an offside position is involved in play before the AR lifts the flag.
The advantage clause can be invoked only on infringements of Law 12, not on infringements of other Laws. Those who say that advantage may be called on offside are confusing two meanings (or categories) of the same word. The first, "Advantage" as treated in Law 5, applies only to violations of Law 12: It means that the referee believes that the team that had committed the foul (or misconduct) would benefit from a stoppage and the team that had been fouled would lose a good opportunity to advance the ball. This is the only situation in which the the referee gives the advantage signal of upswept arms and states, "Advantage, play on."
The second, a "silent" advantage, applies to any other violation of the Laws COMMITTED BY A PLAYER (offside, second-touch on restarts, encroachment under Law 14, interfering with the goalkeeper on a corner kick) for which the impact is so fleeting or the ball changes possession so quickly that stopping play would unnecessarily interfere with the flow of the match. Offenses for which "silent" advantage is applied would not be counted in determining persistent infringement. For all other violations of the Law not committed by a player ("foreign" ball or outside agent entering the field, lack of corner flags), no advantage of either sort would be appropriate and the referee would apply the concept of doubtful or trifling in deciding what to do.
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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