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Cal South E-News | December 2010 REFEREE EDUCATION

December 23, 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:


Regarding Law 15 which concerns throw-ins: What constitutes "from behind" the head? All of the ball behind all of the head? Center of the ball behind all of the head? Center of the ball behind the center of the head?

While some particularly limber people may be able to position the entire ball behind their head, the rest of us are not that well enabled. The "from behind and over the head" refers to the hands, the means of delivering the ball. The hands must be positioned behind some portion of the back and top of the head before the ball is delivered.

A gentle reminder to all referees (and coaches and players and spectators) who read this: The referee should not go looking for offenses to call. Let the game flow if there is no clear -- let us emphasize that, CLEAR -- infringement that somehow affects the game.


Play is stopped during the routine course of play and in this example the restart is a throw in for Team A. It is discovered prior to the throw-in that a team has too many players on the field. The Referee deals with the extra player appropriately and play is restarted with Team A throwing the ball in, regardless if Team A or B had the extra player.

Now change the example and Team A scores a goal. It is discovered prior to the restart that Team A had an extra player on the field (rostered player, not an outside agent). The Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines explains how to handle this situation except for the restart. Play was stopped because the ball left the field of play (below the crossbar and between the posts), not because of the extra player.

I feel the restart should be goal kick because play was stopped due to the ball leaving the field of play over the end line, last being played by the attacking team. The fact that the ball entered the net is nullified by the presence of the extra attacking team member. Is this the correct restart?

Your reasoning is almost impeccable. The ball was out of play, ostensibly awaiting a kick-off for the goal, when it was discovered that the extra player existed. After the referee has cautioned and removed the extra player the correct restart is a goal kick..


I was at a high-level youth tournament this summer and we had an interesting discussion amongst the referees, as one of the referees had an affinity for the long-sleeved jerseys. My understanding up until now had been that the referee crew was supposed to wear sleeves of the same length, all long or all short. (This is frequently not the case in other matches I have seen such as EPL and some WC matches, and I believe possibly on a MLS match or two.) When I looked at the most recent Administrative Handbook edition under the uniform section, I found no such direction. The referee I worked with at this tournament said a recent memo/position paper had just come out from US Soccer saying referees could wear whichever sleeve length they wanted, and just be comfortable. Can you confirm or put to rest the rumors that any such memo exists? .

No, there is no such memo. Here is the reply from the authority at US Soccer: "We have never sent a position paper on sleeves. It is up to each person to decide and they do not all have to match."


I am a referee instructor. After watching the Seattle vs. Colorado match, a student asked me if MLS does not follow Law 4 in dealing with undershorts. Seattle's shorts are blue and yet several of their players were wearing knee-length green sliding shorts and one player was wearing white. Since they were knee-length, it was obvious even on TV that they were not following as we are taught. Not wanting to get into my opinion of the referee, I answered that I was not intimate with the MLS Rules of Competition and the law could be waived in those. Can you clarify this?.

The requirements for the pros are precisely the same as those for all other players. This was an oversight by the refereeing team.

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