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Cal South E-News | October 2011 REFEREE EDUCATION

October 19, 2011

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REFEREE EDUCATION
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U.S. Soccer

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Laws of the Game: Ask the Referee

In response to various questions, the following are responses from the National Referee Program Office:

LEAVING THE FIELD TO PLAY THE BALL HELD IN THE CORNER

Question: Advice to Referees 3.9 states: "if a player . . . contesting for the ball passes over the touch line or the goal line without the ball to beat an opponent, he or she is not considered to have left the field of play without the permission of the referee. This player does not need the referee's permission to return to the field."

Attacker A shields the ball at the corner flag from Defender B1, attempting to run down the time. Defender B2 leaves the field over the touch line and tackles the ball while re-entering the field from outside the touch line. Is this legal?

Answer: You have neglected to cite the entire first paragraph Advice 3.9, which states unequivocally:

3.9 LEAVING THE FIELD IN THE COURSE OF PLAY
Players are normally expected to remain on the field while the ball is in play, leaving only to retrieve a ball or when ordered off by the referee. If a player accidentally passes over one of the boundary lines of the field of play or if a player in possession of or contesting for the ball passes over the touch line or the goal line without the ball to beat an opponent, he or she is not considered to have left the field of play without the permission of the referee. This player does not need the referee's permission to return to the field.

In the scenario you lay out, the defender's action was not accidental. It was, however, solely for the purpose of getting to the ball and lasted only long enough to get around an opponent. Accordingly, the defender's momentary departure from the field was "in the course of play" and therefore entirely legal. In fact, the defender was only forced to take this action by the attacker who placed the ball and his body in such a configuration that the only way the defender could get to the ball was to leave the field.

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LEAVING THE FIELD AT A RESTART

Question: On a corner kick, player A places ball in the arc. Player B runs out of play and around the goal to the resume position on the back post. Opposing team had players on the post. Corner is crossed in by Player A and scored by Player B who ran out of play. Should Player B be allowed to return to the field since he deliberately ran off the field? Should Player B wait to be signaled back on by the official after the corner was played in? Shouldn't this be a yellow card?

Answer:
[Please see Advice to Referees 3.9 stated in the first question above...]

If the player ran out of the field after the ball was placed and before the kick was taken and returned only while the ball was in the air, that player has left the field of play without the referee's permission. Blow the whistle, cancel the goal, caution the errant player for leaving the field without permission, and restart with an indirect free kick for the defending team from the place where the ball was when play was stopped.

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OCCUPYING SPACE

Question: Two opposing field players are going up for a header. If one of the players jumped up and over the opponent, knocking the opponent out of the way or to the ground, I'd be calling a foul.

What if the jumping player in the above scenario was a goalkeeper trying to reach a ball with her hands? Is the goalkeeper given any special allowances? I heard an instructor say "yes" and that fouls in this sort of situation are not called (as seen on TV), but it seems to me that the defender has just as much right to fairly challenge for the ball as the goalkeeper and to not be unfairly charged, pushed or struck.

Answer: What referees call and what referees SHOULD call are often two different things. The Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees (p. 114) tells us: "All players have a right to their position on the field of play, being in the way of an opponent is not the same as moving into the way of an opponent." In other words, no player, whether field player or goalkeeper, is allowed to go through any other player, whether field player or goalkeeper, to get to the ball.

Because the goalkeeper's position is inherently dangerous (subject to hard challenges in the air, diving to the ground, lying on the ground, etc.), goalkeepers are allowed some leeway in doing their job. This means that they are permitted to reach over players and make some contact with the opponent, as long as it is not done carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force.

Defenders or attackers, on the other hand, must take their chances as they find them. Jumping straight up or backing in to win the ball is not a foul unless the opponent is already in the air and moving to play the ball.

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