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Cal South E-News | April 2011 REFEREE EDUCATION

April 22, 2011

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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:


At a recent game, the technical area was marked and extended up to one meter from the field of play. This is permissible in the Laws of the Game. However, they then erected a temporary shade structure on this boundary. It comprised supports made of 1" box channel made of aluminum steel, and was pegged to the ground. It was quite solid, and I had concerns a player could easily trip or run off the field of play and collide with it and injure themselves.

While I could write a report of my concerns and send them to my local association, at the time of the game, what rights do I have to ask that it be moved farther back from the field of play?

Law 1 tells us: Decisions of the International F.A. Board - Decision 1:
Where a technical area exists, it must meet the requirements approved by the International F.A. Board, which are contained in the section of this publication entitled The Technical Area.

The Laws of the Game expect that competitions will follow the basic premise of all the Laws of the Game, which is to protect the safety of all participants. A structure within one meter of the touchline would likely not be considered to be safe for players, team officials, and the officiating crew.


In Week 3 of MLS play in 2010, the Philadelphia Union vs. D.C. United match had a very strange goal for D.C. United. An attacking player, to the right of the goalkeeper (3 yards away) in the penalty area, made direct movement towards the goalie as the keeper made progress towards taking a punt. (in replay, it is very clear that attacking player waited until the keeper started his kicking movement and then took forward movement towards the kicking foot).

This movement startled the goalkeeper, who dropped the ball on the top of the penalty area line. The attacking player kicked the ball into the net and the goal was awarded.

What constitutes a violation in this situation?

Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct), which governs this matter, tells us: "An indirect free kick is... awarded to the opposing team if, in the opinion of the referee, a player prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands." This interference can be either physical (not applicable in this incident) or psychological (which it was in this incident).

The referee should have blown the whistle immediately and awarded the indirect free kick to the goalkeeper's team.


Situation: There's a twelfth player that a coach sneaked onto the field at a water break. A goal is scored, but after being notified about the extra "player" by the fourth official, you ask the coach which player is the extra one and the coach refuses to tell you. I thought the standard would be to dismiss the coach, and if no one will tell you, you pick one player, caution him, get him off the field and get on with the game. Almost everyone says I can't do this and that the game must be abandoned. It seems that abandoning a game is drastic, but they may be right as I guess you can't arbitrarily caution a player. Help me!!

The Advice to Referees tells us:

If, while the game is in progress, the referee finds that a team has more than the allowed number of persons on the field, play must be stopped and the extra person identified and removed from the field. If the referee stops play for that purpose, the game is restarted as specified in the Law; if the game was stopped for some other purpose, the game is restarted for that particular reason. Other than through referee error, this situation can occur only if someone enters the field illegally. The "extra player" can include an outside agent (such as a previously expelled player or a spectator); a player who had been given permission to leave or been ordered off by the referee for correction of a problem, but re-entered without permission; or a substitute or substituted player who enters without permission and/or during play.

For more, please visit USSoccer.com