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Cal South E-News | February 2011 REFEREE EDUCATION

February 19, 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:


In the USSF training (at least in my area) for many years now, the instruction has been that for out of bounds calls in which the officials did not see/know which team ought to get the possession, a throw-in or a goal kick should be awarded to the "defense."

I assume this has been USSF's preference all along as well. Given the emphasis today by FIFA and the USSF on "scoring" and "offensive play" for soccer, should we officials now be awarding throw-ins and corner kicks for the "attacking" team rather than the defense when we are uncertain who last touched the ball? (Yes, I know this circumstance should never occur - esp. with 3 officials - but unfortunately it does!)

Although INFORMAL advice for many years was to award the ball to the defending team on any questionable situation where the ball had passed out of play across one of the boundary lines, that WAS NOT and IS NOT the Federation's formal guidance on a ball passing out of play.

Referees should take care not to use any unofficial option as a means of avoiding a difficult but necessary decision as to which team should have the restart. Nor should the referee use the dropped ball to restart play as a crutch in those cases where there is some question about the correct restart. The referee must make a decision and announce it firmly.

This excerpt from the Advice to Referees 2009/2010 should give referees all the guidance they need:

The referee should promptly signal a clear decision on the direction for the restart when the ball appears to have gone off the field from "simultaneous" touches by members of both teams. Under the Laws of the Game, it is not permissible to give a dropped ball restart in situations where the referee cannot decide which team has possession. The players quickly identify referee indecision, and will use it to their advantage.

To emphasize the point: MAKE A DECISION, REFEREE!


Our Breakfast Club (which meets to watch soccer games) is in an uproar about the famed Five Pound soccer ball of yore. Some say that a Five Pound weight is nonsense, some say it's a fact due to the leather uptake in water.

A one pound ball cannot absorb four pints of water to equal five pounds in weight. BUT, say the myth believers, the ball was once much heavier than the current one pound limit.

So, when did the current weight limit get established and what was allowed before that?

Since 1889, the weight of the ball has always been specified as its measure "at the start of play." Without waterproofing, leather balls became heavy when wet and sometimes dangerous to head because of protruding lacings. Absorption of moisture is no longer a real problem. The original limits of weight, 12 to 15 ounces ("at the start of play"), were raised in 1937 to 14 to 16 oz and have remained so.

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