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Cal South E-News | September 2010 REFEREE EDUCATION

September 16, 2010

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Rules 101 content provided by 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:


While an offensive player is in the offside position, a defensive player attempts to clear the ball and kicks a low line drive about 15 yards, which deflects off the leg of an offensive player to the offside player who scores.

The offensive player from whom the ball deflects does not play the ball, makes no attempt to play the ball and had no opportunity to play the ball. He was just unlucky that the ball hit him.

Rule 11 says that simply touching the ball is sufficient:

"Committing an Offside Offence A player in an offside position is only penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:"

I've been told by [a senior-level] ref that a deflection by an offensive player is not offside. But Rule 11 says "touches or played." It seems to me that if the rule only said "played" then an offensive unintentional deflection would not be offside. But the Rule 11 has the words, "touches or played." So shouldn't the offensive deflection to a player in the offside position warrant the offside call since the offensive player last "touched" the ball?

The senior-level referee has his facts wrong. If the ball is played by a defending player and it bounces off one opposing player to another of his opponents who is in an offside position, that player in the offside position is offside because he or she was interfering with play. You will find this information in the Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees 2009/2010, under Law 11.


I am asking this for one of our players in our league. I am presently the president of a club in [my state association].

This is regarding our Over 30 women's division. One of our players wears in the inner lobe of her ear a half circle earring with a small ball on each end and it can only be removed with surgical instruments. It could be easily covered.One referee has refused to let her play while she played before some games with no issues.

Nowadays, many younger girls have body piercing and so on .

Wouldn't such an earring be less dangerous than a metal knee brace? What is the rule regarding this kind of earring?

Unfortunately for your player, the rules we play by, the Laws of the Game, are clear: no jewelry

A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewelry).

The rule on no jewelry also applies to items worn as part of body piercings. The only exceptions for "jewelry" are medicalert bracelets and religious items specifically required by the wearer's religion.

Although the referee on any particular game has the final authority to approve or disapprove any item of equipment as to its safety, that decision must be taken within the Laws of the Game which are quite clear on the subject of jewelry.

There are only two acceptable reasons even to consider allowing such noncompulsory equipment -- religious or medical reasons -- and even there the referee must still determine that the item meets the Law's safety standard. By tradition and worldwide acceptance, nondangerous wedding bands are also considered acceptable. It does not appear that the item worn by the player in your scenario meets any of the exceptions and so we would expect every referee to be firm in not allowing anyone wearing such an item to be a player.

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