Score Sports







AYSO Camps

Fox Soccer



AYSO Store

Score Coach Ref Button

What's The Correct AYSO Answer?

The following is a recently received question:

April 17, 2014

I was coaching a U-10 boy’s team with only six players. One of my players showed up late and I asked the referee to allow him to join the game. The referee told me to wait until our team had possession of the ball. Was the referee right?

When a team is playing shorthanded for any reason other than having had one or more of its players sent off, that team may request to add a player at any stoppage (when the ball is out of play). In the Spirit of the Game, the referee team should make every effort to help players that arrive late to enter the field of play as soon as possible for a team that is playing short.     

In this case, the assistant referee can help by inspecting the player’s equipment and ensuring that paperwork is correct. Once the player has been properly checked-in, he should be allowed to enter the field of play at the next ball-out-of-play situation with the referee’s permission. The player should enter the field of play from the halfway line.  

(See page 33 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.)

April 10, 2014

I was refereeing a U-12 girl’s game when I awarded a penalty kick to the red team because blue #5 pushed red #10 inside the blue team’s penalty area. Right after I blew the whistle, red #10 gained possession of the ball and kicked it into the opponent’s goal. I was getting ready to set up the penalty kick when I noticed my assistant referee (AR) talking to the red team’s coach. My AR called me over and told me that the advantage was taken away from red #10 as she managed to score and suggested I should give the goal instead of taking the penalty kick. Is this allowed?

The ball is out of play when the referee makes the decision to stop play and the whistle announces such decision to everyone else. In this case, when the whistle was blown, play was stopped just before red #10 scored the goal. Unfortunately, the referee did not wait a second or two to apply advantage. Therefore, the referee may not allow the goal to count as it was scored when the ball was out of play. The referee should restart play with a penalty kick for the red team because of the pushing foul committed by blue #5.  

Advantage, allowing play to continue, should be applied when the team that receives an infringement will benefit from the application of advantage. This is done by showing the proper signal and verbalizing, “Advantage, play on!” to indicate that the referee has seen the foul. If the advantage does not materialize quickly, within three seconds, the referee should punish the original infringement.

For more information related to the application of advantage read the March 20, 2014 edition of “What’s The Correct AYSO Answer?” here.

(See page 72 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.) 

April 3, 2014

My daughter plays in a U-12 team. Her team was awarded a penalty kick and the other team decided to change goalkeepers prior to the taking of the penalty kick. Is this allowed?

Changing a player is different than substituting a player. Changing the goalkeeper with any other player on the field of play is allowed provided that the referee is notified before the change is made and the change is made during a stoppage of play. In this case, if the goalkeeper was changed with another player on the field of play (not substituted) while play was stopped in preparation for the taking of the penalty kick and the referee was informed of the change before it was made, then there was no infringement of the Laws of the Game.

The referee can explain this part of the Law to the players and coaches as needed. Coaches, players, and parents involved in younger player games are often learning about the game and the referee can provide information to help them understand the application of the Laws of the Game.   

(See page 18 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.)

March 27, 2014

What can the referee do if a spectator steps on the field of play to complain to the referee about her decisions?

The best approach to deal with spectators is for the referee to team up with the coach. The coach has a connection with the team and its spectators/parents. There is an expectation of respect and cooperation, which is set from the start when the coach and the parents first meet.  

The referee can take the following steps to team up with the coach to manage spectators:

  • The referee team should connect with both coaches before the start of the game and set teamwork expectations to help each other. This step will generate the coaches’ awareness to help prevent irresponsible spectator behavior and/or to assist the referees if it happens.
  • When necessary, the referee should stop play and go talk to the coach. The discussion should be brief and simple.  The referee can say, “Coach, please help us get that spectator under control.  Thank you.” Then jog away towards the place where the restart should happen.   
  • If the coach goes over and manages the situation, quickly restart play.
  • If the coach is having a challenge managing the situation, wait a minute or two before restarting the game. This will send a message to the spectator that the referee supports the coach and will not restart the game until the spectator stops the negative behavior.  

The Kids Zone, Code of Conduct, and Parent or Coach Pledges are AYSO programs and concepts that help influence behavior in a positive manner. For more information on these programs and concepts please go to

In most cases, the steps above will help manage the situation. However, if the unacceptable behavior continues and the coach is not able to manage it, the referee can suspend or abandon the match because of the outside interference. In this situation, the referee can provide a warning to the spectator. The warning can be something like, “If you don’t stop, I will terminate the match. Do you really wish to keep the children from playing? Thank you.” Then wait a couple of minutes and if the negative behavior does not stop, notify the captains and coaches, and abandon the match.  

All incidents of irresponsible behavior should be documented in the match report. One final word, stopping the game should be the last resort. Try every possible thing to have the spectators behave so the players can play.
(See pages 24 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.

March 20, 2014

When should the referee apply advantage in a foul situation?

Per Law 5, referees have the power to apply and signal the advantage upon seeing a foul or misconduct committed if, at that moment, allowing play to continue will benefit the team against which the foul has been committed. The referee may return to, and penalize, the original offense, if the advantage situation does not develop as anticipated after a short while – guideline is 2 to 3 seconds.  

The referee should consider the following factors when deciding to apply advantage:

•    Severity of the offense – If the offense warrants a send-off, the referee must stop play to send off the guilty player unless there is a CLEAR opportunity to score a goal.
•    Match atmosphere – If the game is not under control, the referee should stop play to avoid additional and stronger frustration and possible retaliation.
•    Ball possession – Active and credible ball control by the player who was fouled or a teammate.
•    Potential – The likelihood of continuing an immediate and dangerous attack on the opponent’s goal.
•    Personnel involved – The number and skills of the attackers relative to the number and skills of the defenders within two to three seconds of the offense.
•    Proximity – The distance to the opponent’s goal; the less the distance, the greater potential for a goal to be scored.

View this video clip

In this video, white #15 fouls blue #6, but the referee effectively applies advantage and a goal is scored.

Additional points about applying the advantage:

•    Regardless of the outcome of the advantage decision, the referee should deal with the infringement.  
•    If the offense warrants a caution, it must be issued at the next stoppage of play. However, unless there is a clear opportunity for scoring a goal, it is recommended that the referee stops play and cautions the guilty player.
•    If the guilty player simply needs to be made aware of what he did wrong, instead of stopping play, the referee should have a word with the player at the next opportunity.
•    Referees should note that the advantage is not defined solely in terms of scoring a goal.
•    Referees should not apply advantage for these two actions:
     o    Trifling infractions: offenses that have no significant impact upon play.
     o    Doubtful infractions: neither the referee nor the assistant referees are certain that an infraction has occurred

(See pages 24, 38-39, and 72 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.)  

March 13, 2014

What is the restart if a defending player takes a free kick inside his own penalty area and the ball leaves the penalty area by rolling over the goal line section of the penalty area? (The picture below illustrates the question.)

Whistle Stop Picture

During the taking of a free kick by the defending team inside its own penalty area, the ball is in play when it is kicked directly out of the penalty area. For the ball to be in play, though, it also has to be on the field of play. Therefore, the only option for the ball to be in play from a free kick by the defending team inside its own penalty area is to be kicked into the field of play. If the ball is not directly kicked out of the penalty area and into the field of play, the free kick is retaken. If the free kick is not correctly taken, the referee can provide instructions to the player to ensure a correct execution of the free kick.

(See page 41 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.)    

March 6, 2014

I was told that it was wrong for a player to move the ball after it had been placed on the ground for the taking of a goal kick as it is a delaying tactic and should not be allowed. What’s your thought regarding this?

Once the ball has been placed on the ground for a goal kick, it is expected that the kick will be taken. Younger, inexperienced players are learning about the game and they may move the ball, sometimes multiple times, without meaning to delay the game. The referee can help speed up the restart by getting close to the player and providing instructions in a friendly manner. The referee could say, “Leave the ball where it is and kick it as hard as you can.” Or, if the player has picked up the ball, say, “Put the ball down and kick it as hard as you can so we won’t waste time.” After the player kicks the ball, the referee can say, “Thank you,” to acknowledge the player’s cooperation.  

As the players get older, they do learn to use this tactic to delay the game, especially when they are winning. If the player moves the ball quickly to kick the ball towards the side with less defenders, then the referee may allow it if it is done within a couple of seconds and done only once. If the player keeps using this tactic to delay the game, then the referee can say something to stop the behavior.

If the player picks up the ball and slowly moves towards the opposite side of the goal area, the referee can quickly get close and encourage a faster restart by talking to the player. The objective is to encourage the players to restart play within a reasonable time and not use delaying tactics.  

February 27, 2014

Red #10 and blue #3 are challenging for the ball and their momentum carries them off the field of play, just outside the penalty area. With the ball still in play inside the blue team’s penalty area, red #10 decides to go for the ball. Blue #3 holds him outside the field of play so he cannot get to the ball. How should I sanction this incident and what is the restart?                                
No foul has occurred since the holding offense happened outside the field of play. Given this scenario, the referee has two options to consider.  

Option 1: Stop play, and if the players are U-12 or older, caution blue #3 for unsporting behavior - preventing an opponent from getting to the ball. In a U-10 or younger level game, it is recommended that the referee not use cards and instead manage such situations by verbally admonishing the player and working with the coach to teach them about appropriate behavior. Since the incident happened outside the field of play, the restart would be a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped.

Option 2: The referee may decide to wait and see what happens. If red #10 breaks free and gets to the ball, the referee may apply advantage and allow play to continue since red #10 would be inside the opponent’s penalty area with a good chance for a shot on goal. In this option, the referee may chose to verbally admonish blue #3 at the next opportunity. The referee may also decide to caution blue #3, if he is a U-12 or older player, at the next stoppage of play.

Ignoring the holding offense by blue #3 is not a good option as it would generate frustration and possible retaliation.          

(See pages 38 and 123 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.)

February 20, 2014

A player told me that she needed to wear a sweatband on her head because she sweats a lot and the sweat irritates her eyes so much that she cannot see or play well. Should I allow the use of sweatbands?                            
While sweatbands are not part of the basic player equipment, they are accepted as supplementary player equipment as long as the referee decides they are safe. The referee should check and decide if the sweatband is safe to the player wearing it or other players by making sure it is elastic, flexible and soft.  

Supplemental items, such as colorful feathers, worn only for adornment are not permitted. But items which the referee believes are not dangerous to the player or to other players and serve the purpose of hair control, perspiration absorption, or conformance to religious requirements, are permitted.  

The referee should check the players’ equipment as early as possible before the game starts. This approach will provide the referee with enough time to explain to the coaches and parents why an item is not approved to be used and give them a chance to manage possible frustration that comes with players spending time, and often money, to get these non-approved items.        

(See pages 21 and 69 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game and page 45 in the 2014 AYSO Guidance for Referees, Coaches, Other Volunteers and Parents.)    

February 13, 2014

Should a referee wear his referee shirt when he is coaching?                          
It is strongly recommended that referees should not wear their referee uniform or any other clothes that may identify them as referees when they are coaching or watching a game. Wearing referee equipment can potentially invite negative comments and/or challenging questions related to the referee team who is refereeing the game. To avoid this challenge, referees should carry non-referee clothes with them that can be used if they are coaching or watching a game before or after they officiate a game.

February 6, 2014

In a U-14 girl’s game, I blew the whistle to indicate an indirect free kick (impeding) offense by blue #4 against red #10. As I pointed the direction of the restart, red #10 deliberately pushed blue #4 to the ground. The pushing seemed more serious to me than the foul committed by blue #4. Therefore, I awarded a direct free kick in favor of the blue team. Was I right?                

The ball was out of play when you decided that blue #4 committed the impeding offense. You confirmed your decision and made the players aware of it by blowing the whistle. Since you stopped the game for the impeding offense committed by blue #4, the restart should have been an indirect free kick for the red team.

Red #10 committed the pushing offense when the ball was out of play. Therefore, red #10’s offense cannot be a foul. Because she deliberately pushed an opponent while the ball was out of play, red #10’s offense is misconduct. The restart, an indirect free kick for the red team, should have remained the same. In this scenario, the referee should show the yellow card to red #10 and caution her for unsporting behavior. Then, the referee should restart play with the indirect free kick for the red team.

To manage the situation, the referee may explain the reason for the restart - why the pushing offense does not change the restart, but it is punished with a caution - and ask red #10 to let the referee manage the game and not commit offenses. Similar scenarios generate frustration and possible retaliation so the referee has to quickly manage incidents and provide quick and brief explanations as needed.

(See pages 33, 36-37, and 117 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.)

January 30, 2014

Next week, I’ll referee my second game and so far the referees have talked to me about my responsibilities during the pregame. Do assistant referees need another talk at halftime or just in the pregame discussion? 

First, thank you for volunteering to referee as we're happy to welcome everyone who wants to join the AYSO referee team. We're glad that your peers are sharing information with you during the pregame discussion. This helps the referee team develop and share a plan to officiate the game, which can be reviewed and modified during the halftime discussion.  

The halftime period should be used by the referee team to prepare physically and mentally to referee the second half, which always offers more challenges as players are more tired and frustration is more likely to show up. This can be done by taking care of basic physical needs and evaluating and planning what the referees need to do in the second half.  

Referees should consider the following actions for the halftime period:

Leave the field walking together to project teamwork.

Stay healthy.

  • Drink water to rehydrate and maintain good health.  
  • If really hungry, take a small portion of food, preferably fruit.
  • If needed, use the bathroom.
  • Do stretching exercises to relax the muscles.

Share information useful for evaluating and planning while you are stretching, drinking water, etc.

  • Verify the game score and update the game record as needed.
  • Check cautions and/or send-offs.
  • Identify players with potential frustration.
           o    Consider talking to them before starting the second half.
           o    Keep a close watch on them.
  • Have there been a lot of fouls?

           o    Identify who has committed most of them.
           o    Get ready to manage possible frustration.

  • Do you have players with multiple fouls, persistent infringement?

           o    Consider talking to them before starting the second half.
           o    Consider talking to their coach so they can mentor them.

  • Is play getting careless, reckless, or starting to use excessive force?

           o    Consider tightening the game with a few more foul calls.
           o    Consider doing more talking to players in the second half.

  • Are you calling too many trifling fouls and frustrating players?

           o    Consider loosening up your foul recognition.
           o    Consider asking the coaches about your foul recognition.

  • Is one team getting significantly more tired or dominating the game more?

           o    Watch out for increasing, careless or reckless contact.
           o    Manage potential frustration and refocus the players by talking to them.

The referee team will benefit from reviewing their plan at halftime!

January 23, 2014

I started refereeing U-12 games and now pushing fouls are not as obvious as they used to be in the U-8 and U-10 games. What is a pushing foul in games with older kids?


Pushing fouls can potentially become more frequent and are more challenging to identify as the players get older because they do the pushing in different ways.

The criteria for a foul remains the same regardless of the age level. An offense becomes a foul when it is committed by a player on the field of play, while the ball is in play, against an opponent, and in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force.

The attached video clip provides an example of a pushing foul that can be challenging to identify. Blue player #14 is chasing the ball towards the touchline with white player #23 chasing him. Just as blue #14 reaches the ball, white #23 makes contact with the blue player's back and pushes him. The referee should be in a position where he can see both players. That is, the referee should be at an angle to the play so that one player does not block his view of the other player. This will help the referee have a better view of the action and pick up the signs that will help him or her make the correct evaluation.

The signs that will help a referee make a correct decision include:

  • Blue #14 gets into a better position to get control of the ball and slows down before making contact with #23. Therefore, it takes less contact to stop his progress and/or make him lose ball possession.

  • White #23 realizes that blue #14 beat him to the best position with a possibility of controlling the ball and decides to extend his arm at the last second, making contact with (pushing) blue #14's back.

  • The challenge is occurring near the touchline, where the player with the ball, or with the best chance of controlling the ball, has less room to maneuver and thus will be somewhat trapped. Play along the touchline, or goal line, often becomes scrappy due to this reduced area.

The contact is to the back from behind, pushing blue #14 into the ground which is very dangerous. It is important for the referee team to identify this type of foul and manage it in order to prevent injuries, player frustration and possible retaliation. In order to minimize or eliminate this type of foul, when play nears the boundary lines the referee and/or assistant referee need to be close by to ensure that players feel their presence with their voice and/or a stronger whistle. With this type of foul the referee should at least have a quiet word with the guilty player.

(See pages 36 and 117 in the 2009/2010 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

January 16, 2014

"In a U-8 game, I accidentally blew the whistle and everyone stopped. I was not sure how to restart the game so I gave the losing team a free kick. Was I correct?"


The correct restart for this stoppage of play is a dropped ball. Law 8 specifies that a dropped ball is to be used to restart the game when the referee stops play for any reason not listed elsewhere in the Laws. In scenarios where you are not sure of the restart and you have assistant referees, ask them as they may know the answer.

(See pages 31 in the 2013-14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

January 9, 2014

"In a U-8 game our defender made a throw in towards our keeper. The keeper never touched the ball which went into our goal. What's the restart?"


A goal cannot be scored directly from a throw in. If the ball enters the thrower's own goal directly from a throw in, the referee must award a corner kick to the opposing team. Therefore, in this scenario since your team took the throw in, the referee should restart the game with a corner kick for the other team.

(See pages 48 and 134 in the 2013-14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

What's the Correct AYSO Answer - 2013

What's the Correct AYSO Answer - 2012

Back to top