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2012


December 20, 2012

"How do I restart the game when the ball leaves the field of play over the goal line in a U-6 game?"

Answer: In all youth games, the primary goal is to help the children have fun while they play. One tactic that supports this goal is to minimize the rules to those that focus on safety and basic game restarts, so we can let the children play as much as possible without interference.

For example, small-sided U-6 fields do not have goal areas or penalty areas, so players do not deal with goal kicks and corner kicks. When the ball leaves the field of play across the goal line and a goal is not scored, a kick-in is awarded to the team that did not touch the ball last.

If a blue player touches the ball last before it goes across the goal line, the red team gets to restart the game with a kick-in. The kick-in is taken from the point where the ball crossed the goal line. The player should be allowed to take the kick-in with little or no interference to quickly get the game restarted and the children playing.

(See page 43 in the AYSO Guidance for Referees, Coaches, Other Volunteers and Parents).


December 13, 2012

"May players use shoes with toe cleats?"

Answer: Over time, people have perpetuated the myth that toe cleats are illegal in soccer. This may have happened because at some point players who were new to the game may have worn baseball or American football shoes, which sometimes have cleats under the toe section. Today, we have a variety of soccer shoes and some of them have a cleat design that wraps across the toe.

It is important to know and remember that the referee decides whether equipment is safe, including shoes. The referee must check the shoes and ensure that they don't have rough or sharp edges, or other unsafe conditions. The referee will not allow a player to participate, if in his opinion, a shoe presents any reasonable danger to the participants in the game.

Here are two things we can do to help players avoid any issue with unsafe shoes:
  • The referee should check the players' equipment early enough so they can have enough time to replace unsafe equipment before the start of the game.
  • Parents should be provided with information at the start of the season on how to select and purchase shoes for their children.

(See page 53 in the AYSO Guidance for Referees, Coaches, Other Volunteers and Parents).


December 6, 2012

"I cautioned a player for standing very close to the opponent who was taking a throw-in, should I report this as unsporting behavior?"

Answer: During the taking of a throw-in, all opponents must stand no less than two yards from the point at which the throw-in is taken. Any player that deliberately positions himself closer than the required distance to the opponent taking the throw-in and interferes with the throw-in, should be cautioned.

This infringement is an example of unsporting behavior and it is specifically referenced in The Laws of the Game. It should be reported as a failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a throw-in.

Experienced referees always prevent possible infringements related to throw-in restarts. All referees can try to help the players avoid a caution by taking the following steps as needed:
  • Ask. As soon as a player starts moving towards the opponent who will take the throw-in, the referee should verbally ask him to get away by saying, "Number 5, back away. Thank you." This step typically takes care of the problem, as most players just need an awareness reminder.
  • Tell. If the player insists on approaching the opponent, use a firm word, making eye contact with the player to tell him to move away. For example, "Number 5, I asked you to back away. Do it now." If the player then moves away, the referee can follow up with a "Thank you." For the few players that need a second warning, this step will take care of it.
  • Caution. If a player does not react to the Ask/Tell requests, then caution him and quickly restart the game.
With scenarios related to throw-ins, most players will do as requested by the referee with the Ask/Tell steps. However, there are times when a player may be overly frustrated and will commit the infringement, and may need to be cautioned in order to change his behavior.

(See pages 38 and 48 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


November 28, 2012

"In a U-16 boys' game, a defender stepped outside the field of play, behind his goal line to place an attacker in an offside position. Is this valid?"

Answer: Any defender that deliberately leaves the field of play for any reason and without the referee's permission, shall be considered to be on his own goal line or touch line (depending on where he left the field of play) for the purpose of evaluating offside, until the next stoppage of play. In this scenario, the referee must allow play to continue.

Deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee's permission, in order to place an attacker in an offside position, is unsporting behavior misconduct. Therefore, when the ball is next out of play, the referee should show the yellow card to the player and caution him for unsporting behavior.

(See pages 38 and 105 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


November 15, 2012

"In a U-16 boys' game, blue #6 takes a free kick in the middle of the field and realizes an opponent is going to intercept the ball. Blue #6 quickly grabs the ball and resets it to retake the free kick. Can he do that?"

Answer: During the taking of a free kick outside the penalty area, the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves. In this scenario, if the referee determines that blue #6 put the ball in play when he kicked it, then blue #6 deliberately handled the ball when he grabbed it and after he kicked it.

In this case, the referee should stop play, notify blue #6 that he put the ball in play when he kicked it and therefore, could not deliberately handle it. Then, the referee should restart the game with a direct free kick for the opposing team from the place where blue #6 committed the handling offense.

If the referee determines that blue #6 did not put the ball in play, then he should ask the blue team to restart it with the original free kick in favor of the blue team. However, this case is very unlikely given the description of the incident in your question.

(See pages 36 and 41 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

November 8, 2012

"In a boys' U-8 game, the red team scored a goal. Some of the parents from the blue team went behind the team's goal area and yelled at the players to run faster and try harder. This action caused a few of the players to cry. What should I have done?"

Answer: The referee may stop the match because of outside interference. If the ball was in play when the parents yelled at their own players, the referee should stop play and manage the situation. If the ball was not in play because the referee had not restarted the game after the goal was scored, then the referee should manage the situation. Then, restart the game with a kick-off for the blue team.

If the situation is very critical, where a couple of players are crying and very upset, the referee should immediately ask the parents to stop interfering with the players and go to the side of the field.

After talking to the parents, or if the situation is not critical, the referee should ask the blue team's coach to have the parents go to the side of the field and stop interfering with the players.

Sometimes parents need to be reminded that the best thing they can do for their kids is to let them have fun playing, even if that includes making mistakes, which is part of the game and the learning process.

(See page 24 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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November 1, 2012

"Can an attacker be inside the penalty area when the defending team is taking an indirect free kick?"

Answer: Players can position themselves anywhere on the field of play as long as they don't endanger any participant including themselves, illegally interfere with the opponent or gain an unfair advantage.

However, if an attacker wants to participate after a free kick (taken by a defender from within his own penalty area) is completed; the attacker must be positioned at the minimum required distance of ten yards from the ball.

A free kick taken from the penalty area is completed once the ball completely leaves the area from the first free kick touch. This means that no player, attacker or defender can touch the ball until it is in play.

If the ball is touched by an attacker before it leaves the penalty area, the free kick must be retaken since the restart was not completed.

With more experienced players, if a defender touches the ball before it leaves the penalty area (double touch infringement) and it goes to an attacker outside the penalty area, the referee should apply advantage and allow play to continue.

In youth games, players may not know this aspect of the Laws. The referee can help them by providing guidance to assist them in positioning themselves properly. When in doubt about a double touch infringement, give the players a chance to have the free kick retaken.

(See page 41 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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October 25 2012

"When a player insults me after the game, should I report it or show him a red card and report it?"

Answer: The referee has the authority to take disciplinary sanctions from the moment he enters the field of play until he leaves the field of play after the final whistle. The referee can and must show yellow or red cards during the half-time break and after the match has finished, because the match is under his jurisdiction during these times.

Therefore, if a player insults the referee after the game, whether it happens on the pitch or outside of it, the referee must show him the red card and send him off for using insulting language. If the insult happens in the locker room or where it is not visible to others, the referee does not have to show the red card, but the player must be reported as sent off. In all instances, the referee must document the incident in the match's report.

Reminder, U-12 and younger players should not be formally cautioned or sent off unless there are exceptional circumstances. Referees should consider whether children in this age group are fully aware of their actions and should consult and work with their coach to find a desired behavior. Young players can usually be controlled by a verbal admonishment, thus avoiding the need to display the cards.

It is important for the referee to know and understand the temperature of the game at all times, especially as it gets closer to the end, so that he may help players avoid possible cautions and/or send-offs after the game. In similar scenarios, the referee should avoid eye contact with the player that feels frustrated. The referee should immediately walk away from the frustrated player and meet with the assistant referees and prepare to supervise the teams' handshake.

(See pages 38, 39, and 69 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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October 18, 2012

"Please provide additional examples of how to earn the acceptance needed to be a good referee."

Answer: It pertains to refereeing, along with some examples of how acceptance can be earned. It is important for referees to identify the opportunities to earn respect and trust, and to plan for using the concepts in every game to gain acceptance.

An opportunity to earn trust that you can manage the game is to engage key players in the match. As the players get older, there will be a few who take on the leadership role on their teams, becoming key players. The rest of the team members will follow their leadership and will tend to remain under control as long as these key players are happy. The referee should identify the key players and team up with them to help run the game.

Typically, every team has two to three key players with one playing in the back line, one playing in the middle of the field and one leading the attack. Often, these players are asked to become team captains. The following actions will help a referee identify the key players and suggest ways to team up with them:
  • Watch the teams warm up and look for the players that help direct the drills used to prepare before the match.
  • The key player in the back line is the one directing teammates to mark the opponents. This key player can be the goalkeeper, or more commonly the defender in the middle.
  • The key midfielder is also normally positioned in the middle of the field. Typically, for every ten plays made by his/her team, seven go through his/her feet.
  • The key player in the front line is usually the one that gets most of the passes so he/she can score.
  • When play is near any of these key players, the referee should be more engaged and ready to make quick decisions on foul recognition.
  • As long as these players feel that the referee is calling a fair game, they will focus on fair play and their teammates will follow their lead.
  • In games with older, more skilled players, the referee should talk to these key players a bit more to establish communications with them, as they can provide a feel for the temperature or tone of the game. Example, if the midfielders from both teams are complaining about the foul recognition, the referee can evaluate their feedback and quickly make adjustments as needed.
  • The referee should ask one key player from each team to evaluate and confirm whether the foul recognition is good. This will provide good feedback for the referee to consider, which will make the key players feel that their opinion is valuable.
  • At the end of the game, the referee should thank all players with more emphasis on thanking the key players. This action will help them remember the referee in a positive way for future games.

Remember, good referees never leave anything to chance, and they expect, plan for and use these opportunities in every game to earn acceptance.

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October 11, 2012

"One of the teams in my U-19 game had only nine players before the start of the game. Their coach notified the other team's coach and asked if they could reduce their team to nine players so the game could be more competitive. The other coach said no, and his team played with 11 players. As the referee, can I make the coach reduce his team to make it a fair game?"

Answer: No, as referees we cannot make this decision for a coach. Teams do not have to play short because the opponent has fewer players, or because they are losing. However, in AYSO we combine the beautiful game of soccer along with AYSO philosophies. This scenario provides the opportunity for coaches to emphasize good sportsmanship to their players.

The coach with the most players could have offered to reduce his team and start the game with an equal number of players. Or, the coach could have offered a couple of players from their substitutes to help the opponent, which would allow more playing time for players. Any of these suggestions would teach players from both teams, that providing a fair environment is supportive of fair play. Nevertheless, it is always the coach's decision, as long as it is in compliance with approved NBOD, Section, Area and Region rules.

Helping the opposing team start with an equal number of players will not ensure a victory or defeat in terms of goals. However, it will provide everyone with a meaningful example of good sportsmanship and a great AYSO experience.

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October 4, 2012

"In a U-16 girls' game, blue #6 takes a corner kick and sends the ball near the penalty mark, where several red and blue players try to control the ball. Red #2 clears the ball away and time expires, so I blow the whistle to end the game. When I look at my assistant referees, AR1 is signaling a foul in the penalty area. I ask him about it and he tells me that red #5 committed a handling offense inside her penalty area, just before red #2 cleared the ball. Since the score was one to zero in favor of the red team, may I call the teams back and have the blue team take the penalty kick? It seems like it is the fair thing to do."

Answer: Sometimes referees make incorrect decisions and that's part of the game. The referee may change a decision as long as he realizes that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of the assistant referee (AR), provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the match.

In this scenario, the referee ended the game and after, with the help from the AR, realized that an incorrect decision was made. The referee may not call the teams back to have the penalty kick taken, because the game was officially ended by the referee before the mistake was identified. The score of the game is not criteria for deciding if a decision should be changed.

To prevent these types of errors, the referee should look at the ARs before ending a game to check if any offenses or misconduct have occurred before the end of the match. This referee team's communication procedure, also known as mechanics, will help the referee take the ARs information into consideration.

(See page 25 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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September 27, 2012

"Can I start a U-8 game if the field does not have corner arcs marked?"

Answer: Yes, the referee may start a game without corner arcs being marked on the field of play. The primary goal for the coach, referee, parents and administrators is to make every possible effort to help the players play the game, as long as the environment is safe and fair.

The referee team should arrive early to the game, at least 30 minutes before the start of the match. This will allow them to inspect the field to ensure that it is safe and properly marked. If the field needs any markings or has any other issues, the referee can team up with the field administrator to fix all problems before the start of the match.

If for any reason it is not possible to mark the corner arcs, the referee should start the game on time and manage the corner kick situations as follows:
  • After awarding a corner kick, walk over to the corner where the kick will be taken.
  • Help the player who will take the corner kick by placing the ball within a yard from the corner of the field. A yard is approximately equivalent to one adult step.
  • Once the player places the ball, ask him/her to wait for the whistle to take the kick.
  • Reminder: during the taking of a corner kick in U-8 games, the opponents must be at least six yards from the ball.
  • The referee can also use this opportunity to help defenders place themselves at the proper distance to defend against a corner kick.
  • After the game, the referee should report the lack of corner arc markings to the appropriate administrator.

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September 20, 2012

"My job is to referee, and if I tell a player how to make a throw-in or take a goal kick, I'm being unfair to the opponent. Why should I tell the players what to do?"

Answer: In last week's edition of "What's the Correct AYSO Answer?" and in several other editions, we have stated that in youth games, refereeing is an extension of the coaching program. We're expected to mentor players and teach them the Laws of the Game as needed, to make the game safe and fun. We want the referee to teach all players as appropriate, which helps make the game fair for everyone.

All of the players watch and listen when a referee helps one player. Therefore, even when the referee is teaching one player, all other players benefit and learn by listening and watching the referee's actions. As the referee continues to mentor, the players make fewer mistakes and spend more time playing the beautiful game.

This approach supports and facilitates our AYSO Player Development philosophy. It also makes it easier for the referee to reinforce AYSO values such as Good Sportsmanship. By sharing these values with the players and providing them with the necessary teaching on the field, a referee helps them make decisions on their own that will later improve their overall performance. This process also allows the referee to encourage the players to learn on their own as they watch and listen to the referee while he/she is teaching others.

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September 13, 2012

"In a U-8 game, during the taking of a goal kick, may the referee tell the players to stay outside the goal area so they cannot interfere with the goal kick?"

Answer: During the taking of a goal kick the ball may not be touched by a player until the goal kick is completed. In U-8 games, there are no penalty areas so the goal kick is completed when the ball completely leaves the goal area. As long as all opposing players are at least six yards from the ball, it is not an offense for any player other than the kicker to stand inside the goal area during the taking of a goal kick. However, such players may not touch the ball until the goal kick is completed.

Referees should not coach players, but they are encouraged to mentor them to focus on fair play and teach them the Laws of the Game (LOTG) as appropriate, to help them avoid minor offenses. This approach helps the referee provide the players with a greater amount of playing time. In AYSO, the referees are an extension of the coaching program. Referees have an opportunity during the game, to continue teaching about the game and the values of AYSO.

In AYSO games with younger players, during the taking of a goal kick the kicker may not kick the ball hard enough to make it quickly leave the goal area. Also, a defending player inside the goal area may accidentally touch the ball and stop it from leaving the goal area. Therefore, if the referee believes a defending player who is standing inside the goal area may not know the related Law, he should ask the player to step outside the goal area before the taking of a goal kick. In this case, the referee's instruction will help avoid a retake of the goal kick, which will cause confusion and frustration to the players and parents.

(See page 45 in the 2011-12 AYSO Guidance for Referees, Coaches, Other Volunteers and Parents).


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September 6, 2012

"In a U-10 girls game, the referee awarded a penalty kick to the red team. Can the defending team change the goalkeeper with another player on the field before the taking of the penalty kick?"

Answer: Yes, a team may change the goalkeeper with another player on the field before the taking of a penalty kick, provided that the referee is informed before the change is made. The referee should ensure that both players - the new goalkeeper and the previous goalkeeper - have the proper uniform on and are ready to participate in their new positions before allowing the penalty kick to be taken.

(See page 18 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


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August 30, 2012

"In a U-8 boys game, the ball is kicked up into the air and blue #4 is running backwards, looking at the ball so he can kick it when it comes down. Blue #4 trips over himself and goes down, accidentally taking red #9 down with him. Should the referee penalize blue #4 with a foul?"

Answer: The referee has to distinguish between an action that is accidental and one that is deliberate. In this scenario, blue #4 was attempting to play the ball when he tripped and made contact with the opponent. In U-8 and lower age games, accidental contact is very common and when it is not deliberate, it should not be punished.

In this scenario, if the referee believes that there is cause for concern about the safety of a player, then he may stop play to make sure the player(s) is okay and restart the game with a dropped ball. The referee may also provide awareness through a friendly word to the player(s) involved in the contact incident.

The referee's interaction with the players will help them to understand that accidents can happen in soccer and they should learn to be careful. In games with younger players, the referee team is focusing more on teaching and ensuring the safety of the players, rather than officiating.

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August 23, 2012

"In a U-10 game, blue #3 who is the second to last defender is on the ground injured. Red #9, who is not ahead of the injured player, receives a pass from a teammate. Should the referee penalize offside because the injured player is not participating?"

Answer: The Laws of the Game do not differentiate between players on their feet and those that may be on the ground. Therefore, in this situation the referee may not punish offside as there are at least two defenders ahead of the attacker. However, the referee should give the benefit of the doubt to injured players and immediately stop play, if in his opinion a player is seriously injured. The younger the players are, the more likely it is that the referee should stop play for an apparent injury.

The situation in your question may take place under different scenarios. Here are some of them based on the opinion of the referee and the action to be taken by the referee:
  • Blue #3 is seriously injured - the referee should immediately stop play and beckon the coach onto the field of play to assist the injured player. After the player is removed from the field of play, the referee should restart play with a dropped ball from the place where the ball was when play stopped.
  • Blue #3 is injured as a result of an offense committed by a red player - the referee should immediately stop play, evaluate the player's injury and ask for assistance from the coach as appropriate. Once the player is able to continue playing or removed from the field of play because the coach entered the field, restart play according to the reason for stopping play.
  • Blue #3 is slightly injured and there was no offense committed by the red team. For example, blue #3 trips himself and falls on the ground right as red #9 receives the pass. The referee should allow play to continue, and at the next opportunity check with blue #3 to make sure he is okay.

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August 16, 2012

"I know that you cannot show cards to coaches, but can you caution a substitute that is yelling at the assistant referee because he did not agree with one of his offside decisions?"

Answer: The referee may discipline coaches, including expelling them from the field of play if they fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner, but he cannot show them the yellow or red cards. Only a player, substitute or substituted player may be shown the yellow or red card. A substitute or substituted player should be cautioned if he is guilty of dissent by word or action. In this scenario, the substitute who is yelling at the assistant referee and challenging his decision is guilty of dissent. Therefore, the referee should caution the substitute.

The referee can stop play to show the yellow card and to caution the substitute. In this case, the referee would restart play with a dropped ball taken at the point from where the ball was when the match was stopped.

If the opposing team has possession of the ball with a promising attack, the referee may wait until the next stoppage of play to caution the substitute. In this case, after the stoppage of play the referee would show the yellow card to the substitute, caution the substitute for dissent and restart the game according to the reason for stopping play.

(See pages 24 and 36 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


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August 9, 2012

"In the Olympics game between South Korea and Great Britain, the Korean goalkeeper moved forward before the kicker touched the ball during the taking of kick from the penalty mark. The goalkeeper saved the goal but the referee did not require the kick to be retaken. Why?"

Answer: During the taking of a kick from the penalty mark, to decide a winner or the taking of a penalty kick during game time, the defending goalkeeper must remain on the goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked.

If the goalkeeper infringes the Laws of the Game before the ball is kicked, the referee should allow the kick to be taken. Then, if the ball enters the goal the referee should award the goal to the kicker's team. If the ball does not enter the goal, the referee should have the kick retaken.

The assistant referee on the goal line assists the referee in determining whether a goal is scored and whether the goalkeeper has moved illegally. The referee should consider the assistant referee's input, but the referee makes the final decision on whether the goalkeeper has infringed the Laws of the Game during the taking of a penalty kick.

We should not make judgments on another referee's decision. The referee in the game you watched decided that the goalkeeper did not move from the line before the ball was kicked.

(See page 42 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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August 2, 2012

"In the situation where a player deliberately handles the ball to attempt to score but fails to score, should the player be cautioned?"

Answer: Regardless of the resulting action, goal or no goal, attempting to score a goal by deliberately handling the ball is punishable with a caution for unsporting behavior.

Therefore, in this scenario the referee should do the following:
  • Stop play.
  • Disallow the goal if one is scored as result of the deliberate handling.
  • Show the yellow card to the player and caution for unsporting behavior, in attempting to score a goal by deliberately handling the ball.
  • Restart play with a direct free kick to the opposing team for deliberately handling the ball.

The actions of younger players are easier to see and evaluate when they attempt this type of unfair play. However, as they get older, they learn to do these things in a manner that is less visible to the officials. It is critical for the referee to always have a good angle of vision that provides a good view of players and the ball as the referee evaluates situations. The assistant referees need to concentrate on play and be able to provide input to the referee as needed. Good teamwork delivers good referee decisions.

(See pages 34 and 113 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


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July 26, 2012

"Should the trailing assistant referee (TAR) mirror the leading assistant referee (LAR) when the referee does not see an offside signal because his back is to the LAR?"

Answer: If the referee misses the LAR's signal for offside, the LAR should stand at attention with the flag raised until the defending team gains clear possession of the ball or until a goal kick or throw-in is awarded to the defending team. In most cases when the referee misses an offside signal, somebody usually alerts him a few seconds later by saying, "Ref, look at your AR!"

To avoid this situation the referee should make eye contact with the ARs as often as possible, especially in potential offside situations. In addition, the ARs must be alert for and mirror each other's signals if needed to assist the referee. Therefore, in this case the TAR should mirror the offside signal missed by the referee because his back is to the LAR.

As long as it is not a wave-down-of-the-flag situation, or the defense has not obtained clear possession of the ball, it is appropriate for the TAR to mirror the signal. In all cases, the ARs should follow the referee's direction provided in the pregame discussion.

(See section 6.4 in the USSF Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game).


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July 19, 2012

"Should the referee caution a player who loses his shoe and continues to play the ball?"

Answer: The safety of players is the primary responsibility for the referee team, and playing without a shoe is dangerous to the player. If a player accidentally loses his shoe and immediately plays the ball and/or scores a goal, there is no infringement and the goal is awarded because he lost his shoe by accident.

When a player loses a shoe and does not play the ball immediately, the referee or assistant referee (AR) should ask the player to put it back on without interfering with play. If the player cannot get the shoe back on immediately, the player should be asked to leave the field of play to get help from the coach and get his shoe back on.

If the player continues to play without a shoe, the referee should stop play and ask the player to leave the field of play to fix the equipment. The referee should give the player a firm verbal admonishment, but there is no need to caution him. In this case, the referee should restart play with an indirect free kick for dangerous play awarded to the opponent.

When the player is asked to leave the field of play to fix the equipment, he should notify the AR as soon as he is ready to come back into the game. The AR should check that the equipment is properly placed and notify the referee, who will then authorize the reentry of the player at the next opportunity when the ball is out of play.

(See page 65 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


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July 12, 2012

"A goalkeeper takes a goal kick and the ball leaves the penalty area, but it is blown back toward the goal by the wind without any other player touching it. The goalkeeper unsuccessfully tries to stop the ball from going into his goal by punching it. Should the referee allow the goal?"

Answer: This scenario actually happens every now and then because of strong winds. Let's share some facts per the letter of the Laws. At the taking of a goal kick the ball is in play when it is kicked directly out of the penalty area, so in this scenario, the ball was put into play by the goalkeeper. The player taking the goal kick may not play the ball a second time until it is touched by a different player. Therefore, the goalkeeper committed an infringement when he touched the ball (punched) when it came back toward him. A goal may be scored directly from a goal kick but only against the opponent. In this scenario the goal has to be disallowed because the goalkeeper may not score directly against his own team.

Since the goalkeeper put the ball in play and then deliberately handled it in his own penalty area before it was touched by another player, the referee should stop play and restart it with an indirect free kick for the opposing team, to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred (where the goalkeeper touched the ball for the second time).

Different scenario: The goalkeeper takes the goal kick and the wind blows the ball back into his goal. This time, the goalkeeper does not touch the ball a second time. The referee should disallow the goal and restart the game with a corner kick for the goalkeeper's opponents.

Different scenario: A player other than the goalkeeper successfully takes a goal kick and the wind blows the ball back into his goal. The goalkeeper touches the ball and unsuccessfully tries to stop it as it goes into his own goal. In this case the goalkeeper becomes the second player to touch the ball, thus ending the goal kick restart. When the ball enters the goal, it is no longer coming from a goal kick; therefore, the referee should allow the goal and restart the game with a kickoff for the goalkeeper's team.

(See pages 48 and 49 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


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July 5, 2012

"In our U-16 girls game, the other team constantly had a player standing in front of the ball whenever our team got a free kick. Why was this allowed by the referee?"

Answer: A free kick implies that the team will be able to take it without interference from the opponent. However, players will attempt to interfere with free kicks, and therefore, the referee should take preventative action to facilitate a fair free kick and, if needed, be ready to punish misconduct.

In similar scenarios, the referee can take the following steps to manage a free kick:
  • If the player decides to take a quick free kick and a stationary opponent who is less than 10 yards from the ball intercepts it, the referee should allow play to continue.
  • If any opponent tries to come toward the ball to delay the restart, the referee can take a preventative step by firmly asking him to respect the required distance and back away to the minimum of 10 yards. The referee can say, "Move away from the ball. Thank you," as he moves away.
  • If the player ignores the request and deliberately prevents the attacker from taking the free kick, the referee may caution the player for failing to respect the required distance on a free kick.
The referee's quick and proactive manner is essential to discourage misconduct, but a firm action is needed to punish 100 percent misconduct.

(See pages 25 and 136 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


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June 28, 2012

"In a U-19 boys game, if a team's bench is taunting the opponents on the field of play, can I stop play, caution the bench player(s) and restart with a direct free kick for the opponent?"

Answer: The referee team should deal with anyone, including a substitute, who impacts the opponents' ability to play the ball by committing any action that is irresponsible or unsporting behavior. Taunting can become unsporting behavior if it interferes with the opponent. Taunting may also become a reason to send off a player or substitute if it becomes offensive.

The key to the successful management of taunting is to address it right away. The referee team can take the following steps to manage taunting from the bench players:
  • As soon as a substitute voices the first taunting remark, the closest assistant referee should ask the player's coach to have him refrain. Usually this action successfully stops the taunting without the referee having to stop play.
  • If the same substitute or a different substitute decides to continue taunting the opponent, the assistant referee should tell the coach that his player must stop the taunting immediately.
  • If the referee is nearby when the taunting occurs, he can provide a firm warning to the coach, which should get him to stop his player(s) from taunting the opponent.
  • If the substitute still decides to continue taunting the opponent, then the referee should stop play, show him the yellow card and caution him for unsporting behavior - verbally distracting an opponent during play. Then the referee should restart the game with a dropped ball taken from where the ball was when play was stopped.
  • If in the opinion of the referee the taunting becomes offensive, the referee should stop play, show the red card to the guilty substitute, send him off for using offensive language and restart the game with a dropped ball taken from where the ball was when play was stopped.

When the referee team takes immediate action with the coach to manage taunting, it usually stops right away without having to stop the game to caution or send off any players.

(See page 35, 36, 37 and 117 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


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June 21, 2012

"My assistant referee heard at halftime that the blue team was going to let the red team win by a two-goal difference so they could advance to the finals. About five minutes into the second half, red #8 controlled the ball and dribbled into the blue team's penalty area, and the blue players did not try to challenge her. She took a shot that the keeper just allowed to go into the goal without trying to stop it. Could I have done anything about this?"

Answer: One of the ways in which AYSO enriches children's lives is by teaching them important values, such as fair play. One of the duties and responsibilities of coaches, referees and officials is to encourage clean competition and good sportsmanship. Teaching players to allow the opponent to score so they can advance to a different competition is teaching both teams the wrong mindset. Coaches who teach/allow this behavior should not be allowed to participate as coaches unless they change their attitude and behavior with the players.

The referee cannot stop players from deliberately allowing the opponent to score, but there is an obligation to report the coach's and team's behavior to the competition authorities so they can take action. The referee may use an incident report to document this type of behavior.

These issues are managed at the Region level, so they need the feedback/information from the referees. If the Region confirms negative behavior on the part of the coach, they will probably mentor him/her to influence his/her behavior, and if needed, suspend him/her to ensure behavior modification. The Regions work hard to make sure that all players have a positive AYSO experience, and we, as referees, need to help them.

(See page 24 in the 2011-12 AYSO Guidance for Referees, Coaches, Volunteers and Parents).


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June 14, 2012

"What is the correct way for an assistant referee to indicate that a goal has been scored when it is not immediately clear to the referee because the ball continues to be played?"

Answer: A goal is scored when the whole ball passes over the goal line and between the goalposts and the crossbar, provided that no infringement of the Laws of the Game has been committed by the team scoring the goal. Sometimes a goal is scored with a fast shot that hits the crossbar, fully enters the goal and quickly goes back into the field of play, so the referee does not see that a goal was scored.

In such cases, the assistant referee must get the referee's attention and then signal that a goal has been scored. The assistant referee should:
  • Raise the flag vertically to get the referee's attention, and then after the referee stops play, put the flag straight down.
  • Run a short distance up the touch line toward the halfway line to affirm that a goal has been scored.
  • Keep moving to avoid confrontation if approached.
  • Observe the resulting player behavior and their actions in and around the penalty area.
  • Take up the position for a kickoff.
  • Keep players under observation at all times.
  • Record the goal after the trail assistant has recorded it so that at least two pairs of eyes are watching the field at all times.

The referee must be ready to manage players and help them avoid misconduct situations by:
  • Pointing up field to indicate that a goal has been scored.
  • Back pedal toward the center circle only when satisfied that the teams have disengaged and that further attention on the goal area is not needed.
  • Preventing unnecessary prolonged goal-scoring celebration.
  • Intervening quickly in situations where players and/or bench personnel attempt to confront the assistant referee(s).

(See page 32 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game and page 25 in the current USSF Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials).


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June 7, 2012

"In a U-19 boys game, our team took a corner kick to our player #8, who used his head to pass it to my son, who scored. The referee called offside and took the goal away. I understand that there is no offside during a corner kick, so why did the referee call offside?"

Answer: An offside infringement involves two components. The first one is being in an offside position, and the second is involvement in active play. An offside position is determined at the moment the ball touches or is played by a teammate of the player who is in an offside position. Involvement in active play is determined by the referee if in his opinion, the player in an offside position interferes with play, interferes with an opponent or gains an advantage by being in an offside position. When both of these components are present, then the referee must penalize the offside infringement.

In this case, when the corner kick was taken, no attackers could be considered to be in an offside position because by the Laws of the Game, offside is not possible while a corner kick is in progress. A corner kick is completed when the kicked ball is touched by any other player. When the ball was touched by teammate #8, the referee team had to evaluate possible offside positions with a new offside "snapshot." At this point, per the opinion of the referee or the assistant referee (AR), your son was in an offside position, the first of the two components needed for an offside infraction.

The referee team has to start evaluating a new offside "snapshot" every time a different attacking teammate touches or plays the ball. When your son, who was in an offside position, touched the ball that was last played by teammate #8, he interfered with play, which is the second component needed for an offside infraction.

Therefore, the referee (probably assisted by the AR) signaled and penalized the offside infraction and correctly restarted the game with an indirect free kick for the opponent.

(See page 33 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


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May 31, 2012

"In a U-14 girls game, blue #8 committed a holding foul against red #23. After I blew the whistle to stop play and award a direct free kick to the red team, red #23 loudly protested being fouled. I cautioned red #23 and proceeded with the direct free kick for the red team. Should I have changed the restart to an indirect free kick?"

Answer: The restart for a holding foul is a direct free kick. The ball was out of play once you decided to stop play to penalize the holding foul. If misconduct occurs when the ball is out of play, the referee should caution or send off the player(s) as appropriate, but the restart does not change. Therefore, you correctly restarted the game with the direct free kick you awarded to the red team for the holding foul committed by the blue team.

Young players can quickly overreact to a careless foul and commit an offense that is more serious than the first foul. Referees should try to quickly get the players' attention when they foul or are fouled, before they get into more trouble with their reactions.

Actions that help accomplish this objective include blowing the whistle hard to get the players to focus on the referee and not the opponent, or blowing the whistle and immediately verbalize a warning or a message to assure the players that the referee has things under control.

(See pages 31, 35 and 117 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


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May 24, 2012

"My son charged the opponent shoulder-to-shoulder, and the referee called a foul against him and awarded an indirect free kick to the opponent. Shoulder-to-shoulder challenging is legal in soccer, so can you tell me why the referee called the foul?"

Answer: A player who is within playing distance of the ball may charge an opponent shoulder-to-shoulder, which is known as a fair charge. However, if a player is not within playing distance of the ball, he may not charge an opponent.

Your question does not mention if your son was within playing distance of the ball or not, but we'll answer based on your description of the incident.

If your son was within playing distance of the ball, then in the referee's opinion, the challenge was not fair and your son committed an indirect free kick infringement. In this case, the referee determined that the infringement was playing in a dangerous manner.

If your son used a fair charge but was not within playing distance of the ball, then the referee awarded an indirect free kick to the opposing team for impeding the progress of an opponent.

When the referee considers a charge to be careless, reckless or done using excessive force, then the restart is a direct free kick, or a penalty kick if the infringement is committed by a defender inside his penalty area.

(See pages 35 and 111 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game and section 12.22 in the USSF Advice to Referees manual).


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May 17, 2012

"What should the referee do if a player kicks the ball directly into the opponent's goal from an indirect free kick before the referee raises his arm to signal the indirect free kick?"

Answer: The referee must indicate an indirect free kick by raising his arm above his head, and must maintain this signal until the kick has been taken and the ball has touched another player or leaves the field of play. An indirect free kick must be retaken if the referee fails to raise his arm to indicate that the kick is indirect and the ball is kicked directly into the goal.

Therefore, in this scenario, the referee should indicate that no goal was scored and should restart the game with a correctly signaled retake of the indirect free kick. Referees must get into the habit of raising their arm as soon as they blow the whistle to indicate an indirect free kick.

(See pages 38 and 125 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


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May 10, 2012

"I made a mistake last month which cost a team a victory. Four weeks later, I cannot forget it and it bothers me a lot. What can I do?"

Answer: Thinking about your mistakes shows that you care about the game, and that is the essence of being a referee. However, mistakes are part of the game and we must learn to recover from them and move on.

Consider the following four concepts to help you recover from making significant mistakes:

Focus on what you can control and have responsibility for. Officiating helps referees learn that all they can do is focus on their own effort and not the outcome of the game. Referees must focus on the responsibility of enforcing the Laws of the Game.

Keep learning. Referees should learn from their successes but also from their mistakes. Soccer shows us that even the top-level referees make mistakes, but they keep learning and working to get better. This mindset helps referees constantly improve their skills.

Learn to celebrate success. Players celebrate goals and winning games, but referees can celebrate other kinds of "winning" objectives. For example, referees have significantly more successful performances than mistakes, and this is a winning objective in itself that should be celebrated. Additionally, learning to manage "ceremonial kicks" is an example of success that referees can celebrate. With help from an assessor/instructor/mentor, identify and set up objectives that can be celebrated when you successfully complete them.

Let go of mistakes. Successful referees brush off mistakes. They acknowledge them, they learn from them and then they move past them. They leave their mistakes in the past and don't allow them to interfere with the present.

Refereeing reflects life in many ways, and setting objectives related to specific refereeing skills will prepare you to recognize smaller victories that will help you have and celebrate a successful season.


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May 03, 2012

"Please provide additional examples of how to earn the acceptance needed to be a good referee."

Answer:  An opportunity to earn respect is to connect with the coaches before the game starts. The AYSO game management model involves the team of parents, the coach and the referee. Having the referees team up with the coach is a must in order to establish a game environment for children that provides a safe, fair and fun experience. Referees can take the following steps to connect with coaches and gain acceptance:
  • Introduce the referee team to both coaches before the game starts.
  • Thank both coaches for being at the game for the kids.
  • Offer help to the coaches with game preparation tasks, such as inflating the soccer balls.
  • Before the game starts, ask the coaches if they have any questions and answer all of them.
  • Ask the coaches if their players are 100 percent healthy. This information will allow you to help the coach keep an eye on any players that may be tired and/or experiencing minor injuries.
  • Thank the coaches again at halftime and at the end of the game.
When you team up with the coaches it will make it easier for them to help you manage the players, bench and fans. Remember to never leave anything to chance and plan on using these opportunities in order to earn acceptance. The game provides the opportunities, but the referees must use them.


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April 26, 2012

"What can be considered an excessive celebration after scoring a goal?"

Answer: Celebrating after scoring a goal can be the maximum expression of passion in a game, and often the players want to share the excitement with everyone. The players are allowed to demonstrate their joy and passion when they score a goal, but their celebration must not be excessive.

After any ball-out-of-play situation, including scoring a goal, the referee's main objective is to restart the game as quickly as possible. Therefore, leaving the field of play to celebrate a goal is acceptable, but the player(s) must return as soon as possible to demonstrate fair play. Referees should take a preventative approach to managing goal celebrations in order to avoid wasting time and/or possible misconduct.

Excessive celebration should be punished with a caution, such as in the following situations:
  • In the opinion of the referee, the player makes gestures which are provocative, derisory or inflammatory.
  • The player climbs onto a perimeter fence to celebrate a goal.
  • The player removes his shirt or covers his head with his shirt.
  • The player covers his head or face with a mask or other similar item.

A common example of excessive celebration is the use of a choreographed celebration meant to waste time, demean the opponents or to be offensive to spectators. Youth players watch soccer on television and are exposed to this type of negative gamesmanship, so referees need to quickly identify and eliminate it.

The video clip below demonstrates an example of excessive celebration after a goal.



(See pages 31 and 118 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


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April 19, 2012

"Does the ball have to be kicked forward during the taking of free kicks?"

Answer: There are two restarts that require that the ball move forward in order for the ball to be in play: the kick-off and the penalty kick restarts. In all other free kicks, the ball may be put into play in any direction.

(See pages 29 and 43 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


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April 12, 2012

"What is the correct signal to be given by the assistant referee for a foul committed by the defender inside his penalty area that was not seen by the referee?"

Answer: The assistant referee (AR) has the duty, subject to the decision of the referee, to indicate when offenses have been committed out of the view of the referee or whenever the AR has a better view than the referee, including when offenses are committed inside the penalty area.

In these situations, the AR should follow the process below, which should be discussed during the pregame conference:
  • The AR must quickly look at the referee to see her location and what action she has taken.
  • If the referee has not taken any action, the AR must raise his flag straight up. It is recommended for the AR to use his right hand for raising the flag to start indicating the direction of the restart to the referee. When ARs are running the typical left-wing diagonal, the right hand indicates that the attacking team should get the restart. Using the left hand would indicate that the defending team should get the restart.
  • When the referee looks at the AR, the AR should give the flag a quick wave to indicate that a foul has occurred.
  • If the referee acknowledges the AR's signal by blowing the whistle to stop play, the AR should hold the flag horizontally across the lower body to indicate that the foul occurred inside the penalty area, and start jogging toward the corner flag to indicate that a penalty kick should be awarded to the attacking team. If the referee waives down the flag signal, the AR should maintain a position appropriate for determining offside infractions.
  • If the referee acknowledges the AR's penalty kick signal by running and pointing to the penalty mark, the AR should continue to take the appropriate position for the taking of the penalty kick. If the referee indicates a different restart, the AR should take the appropriate position for the restart.
(See pages 27 and 96 in the 2011-12 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game and page 37 in the 2011-12 USSF Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials).


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April 05, 2012

"I'm a new Regional Referee, and I am a bit confused. In class the instructor said that the goalkeeper could handle the ball with his hands in his penalty area. Last weekend, in my U-10 game, the assistant referee wanted me to penalize the goalkeeper for handling the ball inside his penalty area. What is the correct call?"

Answer: Thank you for getting trained and certified as a Regional Referee! Both your instructor and your assistant referee may be correct, because they were probably interpreting different scenarios involving the goalkeeper inside his penalty area. The goalkeeper is free to handle the ball within his own penalty area, except in certain situations, and the assistant referee in your game probably interpreted the play to be either one of the following scenarios:
  1. The goalkeeper may not handle the ball when it is deliberately kicked to him by a teammate.
  2. The goalkeeper may not handle the ball when he receives it directly from a throw-in taken by a teammate.
  3. The goalkeeper may not handle the ball again with his hands after he has released it from possession and before it has touched another player.
In these scenarios, the referee should stop play and then restart with an indirect free kick for the opponent from the place on the field where the goalkeeper touched the ball with his hands.

(See pages 34 and 35 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


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March 29, 2012

"In my son's U-16 boys game, the blue team deliberately kicked the ball backward during a kick-off to delay the game. They did this twice, and the referee did nothing. I would have awarded the opponent an indirect free kick. Is my decision correct?"

Answer: Sometimes teams use tactics to delay the restart of play, especially when they are winning. In a valid kick-off procedure, the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward. Therefore, the scenario you described could be an example of delaying the restart of play, if in the opinion of the referee the players are deliberately kicking the ball back.

The referee should have an awareness of game conditions at all times, including players' behavior, in order to manage situations and ensure fair play. For kick-off scenarios, the referee should:
  • Ensure that all of the conditions for a proper kick-off are in place.
  • Signal for the kick-off to be taken.
  • Stop play if the team taking the kick-off deliberately kicks the ball backward.
    • Verbally instruct the team to retake the kick-off and kick the ball forward.
    • Ask the player if he understands the instruction to make sure he knows the proper procedure. Normally a firm, clear word takes care of this issue right away.
  • Stop play if the team taking the kick-off deliberately kicks the ball backward a second time after being told to kick it forward.
    • Show the yellow card to the player who kicked the ball backward.
    • Caution the player for delaying the restart of play.
    • Ask the team to retake the kick-off and warn them that another caution may be given if they insist on delaying the restart of play.
    • The restart must again be a kick-off, as the ball was not properly put into play.
If the verbal instruction did not get the player to properly take the kick-off, the caution will most likely do so.

(See pages 29 and 36 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


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March 22, 2012

"Sometimes I have to referee without assistant referees. What should I do to do a good job?"

Answer: The diagonal system of control, with one referee and two assistant referees, is the only system for officiating outdoor soccer games that is currently recognized by FIFA and used by AYSO. This system allows effective evaluation of game situations, because at least two people are looking at play at all times. In addition, decisions related to fouls and misconduct are made by the referee (one person), which maximizes consistency throughout the game.

In AYSO we have processes and tools to help recruit, train, assign and retain volunteer referees. Additionally, Regions can reach out to their Area, Section and the National Office to get help with developing and maintaining a referee program within their Region.

However, there are times when there are not enough referees to assign three officials to a game. Please read the "Refereeing Without Assistant Referees" document found in the "Referee Tips" section to find out how to develop a referee program, recruit club linesmen and referee without assistant referees.

(See pages 11-12 in the 2011-12 AYSO National Referee Program).


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March 15, 2012

"I attended a referee course and the instructor talked about the Spirit of the Laws. What exactly is this?"

Answer: The Spirit of the Game directs and expects that a game will be played in a safe and fair manner so that it can be enjoyed by all participants and spectators. In other words, the Spirit of the Game enables and empowers the referee to interpret and apply the Laws of the Game in a manner that ensures a safe, fair and fun game.

The Spirit of the Laws supports the Spirit of the Game by permitting the referee to apply common sense in the application of the Laws to match the skill level of the game. In other words, the Spirit of the Laws enables and empowers the referee to interpret and apply the Laws of the Game in a manner that allows the players to play to their maximum level of technical, physical and emotional skills.

These concepts have been well defined by the FIFA Laws of the Game and are included in AYSO publications. They dictate: "The Laws of the Game are intended to provide that games should be played with as little interference as possible, and in this view it is the duty of referees to penalize only deliberate breaches of the Law. Constant whistling for trifling and doubtful breaches produces bad feeling and loss of temper on the part of the players and spoils the pleasure of spectators."

For example, if a player pushes an opponent carelessly but the push has little consequence (e.g. is not unsafe, does not take the opponent off the ball, the opponent plays through the foul and continues challenging for the ball), then the referee may let play continue. Whistling the foul in this case would disrupt the flow of the game, would add little to the referee's control of the game and would likely generate confusion and frustration for both players.

AYSO provides a simple, clear explanation of the Spirit of the Law for each of the 17 Laws in the AYSO Guidance for Referees, Coaches Other Volunteers and Parents. Click here for a summary of the 17 explanations.

Referees who are students of the game and continue to learn how to best apply the Laws will successfully provide safe, fair and fun environments for games to be played in.

(See pages 6-21 in the 2011-12 AYSO Guidance for Referees, Coaches Other Volunteers and Parents).

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March 08, 2012

"I was managing the third series of kicks from the penalty mark (KFTPM) and gave the signal for red #6 to take his kick. The goalkeeper for the blue team slipped and red #6 scored, so the coach from the blue team asked me to use the other goal to continue the KFTPM. Can I change to the other goal to continue the KFTPM?"

Answer: The penalty area where the KFTPM are taking place may be changed only if the goal or the playing surface becomes unusable. Therefore, the referee may not change to the other goal just because a coach asks for the change.

When selecting the goal to be used for the taking of the KFTPM, the referee should select the penalty area and goal which are most beneficial to both goalkeepers. For example, the referee should not select the penalty area that would have the sunlight hitting the face of the goalkeepers during the taking of the KFTPM.

(See page 131 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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March 01, 2012

"The goalkeeper takes a throw-in, and after the ball is in play, he deliberately handles the ball before it touches another player. What's the restart?"

Answer: Once the goalkeeper leaves his own penalty area, he has the same restrictions on handling the ball as any other player. In this case, if the goalkeeper deliberately handles the ball while the ball is outside the goalkeeper's penalty area, then a direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team.

Inside his own penalty area, a goalkeeper cannot be guilty of a handling offense incurring a direct free kick or any misconduct related to handling the ball. If the goalkeeper takes a throw-in and then deliberately handles the ball inside his own penalty area before it has been touched by another player, then an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team because a player taking the throw-in cannot touch it again before it is touched by another player.

The referee and assistant referee must concentrate in order to correctly evaluate these situations.

(See pages 47 and 113 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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February 23, 2012

"Defending player blue #5 tripped the opponent red #11 one yard outside the blue team's penalty area. Red #11 falls into the penalty area. What's the restart?"

Answer: Tripping is one of the offenses punishable with a direct free kick. The direct free kick is taken from the place where the offense occurs. When the offense is committed by a defending player inside his own penalty area, regardless of the position of the ball, a penalty kick is awarded to the opposing team.

In this scenario, the offense was committed outside the penalty area, irrespective of where the offended player fell. Therefore, the referee should restart the game with a direct free kick for the red team from the place where the tripping foul occurred, one yard outside the penalty area per your description.

The assistant referee (AR) should provide help to the referee to confirm the location of the offense, especially during counter attacks where the referee may be far behind play. In this case, after the referee blows the whistle, the AR should remain standing in line with the location of the foul, one yard outside the penalty area. If needed, when the referee looks at the AR to confirm the location, the AR can nod his head, or verbalize: "Outside the penalty area."

Different scenario - a blue player starts committing a foul just outside his penalty area, and continues to foul the same attacking player as he dribbles into the (blue team's) penalty area. If the attacking player loses control of the ball inside the penalty area because of the foul, then the restart is a penalty kick. In this scenario, the foul is extended from outside the penalty area into the penalty area.

(See page 34 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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February 16, 2012

"During the taking of a penalty kick, can the goalkeeper move behind the goal line before the ball is kicked?"

Answer: During the taking of a penalty kick, the goalkeeper may move along the goal line (jumping up and down on the goal line is allowed), but must remain on the line, facing the kicker, and between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked. Therefore, the goalkeeper is not allowed to move behind the goal line.

Youth players (and new players) may not know the Laws, so the referee can help them by providing clear instructions. The referee, after identifying the kicker and ensuring that the ball is properly placed on the penalty mark, can tell the goalkeeper to keep both feet on the goal line, neither in front of it nor behind it, until the ball has been kicked.

(See pages 42 and 126 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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February 9, 2012

"During the taking of penalty kicks to determine a winner, our goalkeeper was sent off by the referee. Could our coach have replaced the goalkeeper with a substitute?"

Answer: The referee must enforce the Laws of the Game at all times during a match, and this still applies when kicks from the penalty mark must be taken to determine a winner. Misconduct that happens during the taking of kicks from the penalty mark is managed in the same way as when it happens during regulation time. Players that leave the match because of misconduct (sent off) may not be replaced.

Therefore, the goalkeeper who was sent off may not be replaced with a substitute. However, one of the teammates on the field must take the goalkeeper position before continuing the kicks from the penalty mark. Additionally, once kicks from the penalty mark start, a team does not have to "reduce to equate" if the opposing team loses players due to injury or misconduct.Referees should always look for ways to help players avoid cautions and send offs. Before starting the kicks from the penalty mark, the referee can remind both teams which players have been cautioned during regulation time. This should be done with a positive, respectful tone while explaining the intent to help players be aware and avoid second cautions.

Kicks from the penalty mark have a high possibility of overwhelming players with anxiety and/or frustration. The referee should monitor player behavior closely and take action as needed to manage behavior. Things to look for include: players who score and then taunt the opponents, players who verbalize "trash talk," goalkeepers who approach the kicker at the penalty mark, etc. A referee who pays close attention can better manage player behavior with his personality and less use of the cards.

(See pages 37 and 52 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game and sections 3.12 and 19.1 in the 2011 USSF Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game).

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February 2, 2012

"Who penalizes the offside, the referee or the assistant referee?"

Answer: The assistant referees have the duty, subject to the decision of the referee, to indicate when a player may be penalized for being in an offside position. But the referee has the duty to enforce the Laws of the Game, including "Law 11 - Offside." Therefore, it is the referee who penalizes the offside offense.

There are many aspects of offside that need analysis, and we'll continue to share related information in future editions. Key to the correct evaluation and management of offside offenses is the teamwork between the referee and assistant referee. The referee team should review the mechanics for offside during the pregame conference in order to have the same team awareness. Basic mechanics include the following steps:

  • The referee maintains a position that allows looking through play at the assistant referee.
  • The assistant referee raises the flag vertically (preferably with the right hand) to indicate that an offside offense may be penalized.
  • If the referee does not see the (flag) signal, the assistant referee should stay at attention with the flag raised until the defense gains ball possession through ball control, a goal kick or throw-in.
  • The referee acknowledges the assistant referee's signal by stopping play or waving down the flag to indicate play should continue.
  • After making eye contact with the referee, the assistant referee indicates the location of the offense: far side, middle of the field, near side (see picture below, courtesy of USSF).
    Offsides Call AYSO
  • The referee gives an indirect free kick signal when it is appropriate to do so, and indicates the restart location.
  • The referee holds the indirect free kick signal until the ball is touched or played by another player, or until play is stopped for another reason.
  • If needed, the referee intervenes quickly and decisively to prevent and manage possible player discussions with the assistant referee pertaining to offside decisions.
(See pages 33 and 103 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game). 

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January 26, 2012

"In a game with free substitutions, the blue team requests a substitution when the ball goes out for a throw-in. Is the referee required to wait for the substitute, who is coming into the field of play, to get to his playing position before restarting the game?"

Answer: When the substitute coming in is replacing the goalkeeper, the referee should allow the new goalkeeper to get to his playing position before restarting the game. For all other players, the referee is not required to wait for substitutes to get to their playing positions.

However, within the "Spirit of Fair Play," when any substitute is coming in to immediately defend against an attack because the opponent will have control of the ball with the restart of play, the referee should wait until the entering player is at least in his general playing area. If the pace of the game allows, the referee can provide this courtesy during all substitutions. To expedite the substitution process and avoid wasting time, the referee should encourage the substitute coming in to get to his general playing position as soon as possible.

(See pages 18 and 61 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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January 19, 2012

"You told us that acceptance is the thing needed to be a good referee and provided a couple of examples of how to earn it in every game. Please share more examples."

Answer: It is important for referees to identify the opportunities to earn respect and trust, but it is just as important to plan to use these opportunities during the game to generate the acceptance.

An opportunity to earn respect is presented when you show up to the game properly uniformed. The uniform is the first tool that a referee has to project authority and professionalism, two ingredients that generate acceptance. The right uniform shows that you care about and respect the players and the game, and in return, players, coaches and others will start respecting you. This is easy to achieve by just planning well and making sure you have a clean, appropriate uniform.

One opportunity to earn the trust of the players, coaches and others that you can handle the game is to effectively manage fouls by the bench area. Coaches, players on the bench, parents and others watching the game get anxious as the game goes on, especially if their team starts losing. Fouls by the bench, even simple careless fouls, will get the coach and others more excited, as they are close to the action and can see and feel more. If the coach and others feel that you are managing fouls correctly, they will team up with you to manage the bench and the fans. This will make it easier for the parents and other spectators to relax and enjoy the game, and allow you to referee and enjoy the game. Take the following steps to manage fouls by the bench:

  • Be close to play when the foul occurs. Read the game well in order to stay close to play as it develops near the bench area.
  • Make quick and decisive actions. Don't hesitate, especially when you're close to the coach and others who are close to the field.
  • With fouls by the bench, verbalize as appropriate to reassure the coach and others that you know what you are doing, and briefly communicate the factors you used to make your decision. For example, saying something like, "Watch the kicking, #5. Keep it safe. Thank you," tells what you saw, and that you care about and respect players.
  • After making your decision, quickly get the game restarted or allow play to continue, and move away from the bench area.
In future editions of Whistle Stop, we'll continue to share different opportunities to earn acceptance. And remember, good referees never leave anything to chance, and they expect, plan for, and use these opportunities in every game to earn acceptance.
 

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January 12, 2012

"The blue team's goalkeeper takes a long goal kick toward the center circle. Blue #4, who is standing just outside the center circle and near a red player, yells, 'Let it go!' when the ball is moving toward him. Is this an offense?"

Answer: Players can and should communicate on the field of play during the game in order to improve teamwork. For the communication to be acceptable, it must not:

  • Be offensive to others.
  • Be used to unfairly interfere with an opponent's opportunity to play the ball. For example, blue #4 yells at an opponent from behind, causing him to let the ball go through and be controlled by blue #4.
  • Be used to incite, instigate or provoke players.
  • Be used to frustrate players.
The referee should deal immediately with a player whose communication becomes offensive and/or gains him an unfair advantage. Here are some possible scenarios involving a player's negative communication, and the recommended referee action:
  • The player does not affect the opponent's ability to play the ball - The referee should allow play to continue, run by the player and verbally admonish him. The player needs to know that his action is unacceptable.
  • The player gains an unfair advantage - The referee should stop play, verbally admonish the player or caution him for unsporting behavior, and restart the game with an indirect free kick for the opponent.

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January 05, 2012

"Should the referee caution young players?"

Answer: The purpose of a caution is to notify a player that the manner in which he is playing and/or behaving is unacceptable, and that if he continues with the same behavior, he will be sent off for the remainder of the game. In AYSO, children who are under 12 years of age should not be formally cautioned or sent off, unless under exceptional circumstances.

Younger players may not be fully aware of their actions, so the referee should team up with the coach in influencing players to reflect the proper behavior. Usually, a referee can achieve better player-management results with a firm yet positive verbal admonishment, which helps avoid the need to show the cards.

Referees should monitor the players' behavior and take immediate action when a player starts demonstrating negativity. This approach is very helpful in reducing the need to caution and/or send off players.

(See page 18 in the 2011 AYSO Guidance for Referees, Coaches, Other Volunteers and Parents).

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