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Cal South E-News | November 2011 REFEREE EDUCATION

November 17, 2011


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U.S. Soccer

Laws of the Game: Ask the Referee

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


Question: This is a question concerning the display of cards. In a men's amateur game, the league requires the teams to be ready to play no later than 15 minutes after the posted game time. The home team does not have seven properly equipped and documented (pass) players at the expiration of the grace period. The referee crew informs the team that because of these issues, the game will not start and the league will be informed. A member of the home team directs foul and abusive language at the referee crew. If used during a game, this would have resulted in the sending off and display of the red card.

Because the game was already terminated (declared a forfeit), I did not display the card, treating the situation as if the game had ended and the misconduct occurred as the crew was walking off the field.

In this situation, should a card have been displayed or just a report of the misconduct made to the league?

Answer: Show the card and inform the player that you will be reporting the incident to the competition authority -- and then do it, including full details.


Question: Why is a goalkeeper stepping off his line on a penalty kick and saving the ball not considered to be a denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity, since his actions clearly denied the opportunity by committing an infraction that would have resulted in a free or penalty kick?

Answer: All infringements of Law 14 are punished according to Law 14 itself. When any member of the defending team violates Law 14 (of which the goalkeeper moving illegally is one example), there are only two possible restarts -- a kick-off or a retake of the penalty kick.If the restart is a kick-off, it means that the interference was not successful and therefore a red card for denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity is not permitted. If the restart is a penalty kick, it is a retake of the original penalty kick, not a new restart, and thus it also does not come under the requirements for dismissal for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player's goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick.


Question: Some folks were having a discussion on exactly what is required for a player to meet the requirement of being "outside of the penalty area" at the moment a PK is taken. Could you please address the following situations in terms of whether they are technical violations of the law, and also as to whether they might well be deemed to be trivial by a referee:

1. As the PK is taken, an attacker has a foot on (but not over) the 18-yard line. Other foot is OK.

2. As the shot is taken, an attacker has one foot touching the line and partly over it. Other foot is OK.

3. As the shot is taken, an attacker has one foot behind the line and one foot significantly over it (i.e. closer to the goal line).

4. As the shot is taken, a player has both feet behind the line but is leaning forward so that the upper part of her torso is over the line.

Thanks for your help.

Answer: Technical response: The lines are part of the areas they delineate. Ergo, the lines marking the penalty area are part of the penalty area and thus any particle of a foot on or over the line constitutes a breach of the procedure for penalty kicks.

Practical response: Use common sense and punish only that which needs to be punished for the good of the game.