To Whistle Or Not To Whistle?
Things You Didn't Know About Things You Know WellReferees must make decisions related to games, applying knowledge, common sense and their wits. These decisions must always respect the letter of the law and embrace the spirit of the game. Test your knowledge and see if you can answer the following question.
September 18, 2014
The referee ends the first half of a U-10 boys game four minutes before time had expired. As the players are leaving the field, the assistant referee lets the referee know that he stopped the game early.
FIFA’s Law 7 requires the teams to play two equal periods. AYSO U-10 games are played in two 25-minutes halves. If the referee incorrectly stops the first half or the first period of extra time early, and he has started the second period, the referee may not compensate for the timekeeping error by modifying the play time of the second half or second period of extra time.
In this scenario the referee has not started the second half; therefore, he must call the teams back onto the field to play the remaining four minutes. If the ball was out of play when the referee incorrectly ended the first period, play must be restarted accordingly to the appropriate reason the ball went out of play. If the referee stopped play to end the game, he should restart the match with a dropped ball where the ball was when the game was incorrectly stopped.
If the referee realizes that he stopped the second period early and both teams are still on or near the field, he must call the teams back onto the field to play the remaining minutes. The referee and assistant referees should keep track of time for both halves. The referee should check with both assistant referees before ending each half.
(See pages 29 and 104 in the 2014-15 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
September 11, 2014
In a U-14 boys game, the referee shows the yellow card to blue #3 and cautions him for persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game. The referee then shows him the red card and sends him off. A few minutes later, the player’s coach asks the referee why he sent off blue #3 when he had only been cautioned once. The referee checks his book and realizes he incorrectly sent off blue #3, thinking he had received a second caution within the same game.
If the referee restarts play, and then realizes that a player has been incorrectly cautioned or sent off, the caution/send off cannot be changed and must be documented in the referee’s report. Therefore, in this case, blue #3 has to remain off the field of play and must be reported as being sent off.
However, the referee must document the incorrect send off in the game report so the game authorities will not punish blue #3. The referee should communicate to the player, captain and coach that a mistake was made and that he will provide the related information so the player will not be punished. Sometimes mistakes will happen - referees are human, and refereeing a game can be an overwhelming situation. In this circumstance, it is appropriate for the referee to apologize to the player.
Below are some things that will allow assistant referees (ARs) to help the referee avoid this type of mistakes.
• In the pregame conference, the referee asks the ARs to track cautions and send-offs.
• The ARs write down the players’ numbers for all cautions and send-offs during the game.
• Every time the referee cautions/sends off a player, he should isolate the player to make it easier for the ARs to see the player’s number.
• If the ARs detect a potential mistake being made, they should subtly get the referee’s attention before the next restart is taken.
(See section 5.11 in the USSF Advice to Referees)
September 4, 2014
In a U-14 girls game, the referee signals a foul committed by blue #12. Blue #12 turns around and voices dissent to the referee who in turn decides to caution the player. When the referee reaches into her pocket to get the yellow card, she realizes that she does not have her cards.
If a referee decides that a player is guilty of misconduct, the player must be cautioned or sent off as appropriate. If the referee applies advantage, she must administer the caution or send off at the next stoppage of play. Even if the referee does not have her cards, she must caution or send off the guilty player according to the nature of the offense committed.
To avoid the problem of not having cards, the referee and assistant referees (AR) should each bring an extra set of cards. Before starting the game, the referee should make sure that she has the cards with her, along with the other required equipment such as a watch. When the referee forgets to bring cards, she can take the following steps to caution/send off a player:
• Borrow cards from one of the ARs. ARs cannot caution and send off any players even when the referee doesn’t have cards.
• If the ARs don’t have cards, get the cards from the referee bag or car, whichever is closest to the field of play. Let the captains know that you’re getting the cards.
• If there are no cards at all, let the captains and coaches know. When you caution or send off a player, explain the disciplinary action and record the player’s number. In this example, the referee can say, “Number 12, you’re cautioned for dissenting my decision. For the record, you have a yellow card.” and continue with any additional player management communications.
(See page 38 in the 2014-2015 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
August 28, 2014
With ten minutes left to play in the second half of a U-12 boys game, blue #10 scores a goal and the referee restarts the game with a kickoff for the red team. One minute before the game ends, the referee awards a direct free kick to the blue team near the assistant referee (AR). Because the referee is close to him, the AR notifies him that blue #10 was in an offside position when he received the ball from a teammate and scored the goal.
One of the duties of the assistant referee (AR), subject to the referee’s decision, is to indicate when a player may be penalized for being in an offside position. The AR must indicate the offside infringement when it happens.
The referee may only change a decision after realizing that it is incorrect or (at his discretion) on the advice of an AR, provided that he hasn’tyet restarted play or terminated the match. In this scenario, the AR provided the information to the referee very late, after several stoppages and restarts of play.Because of the lateness of this information, it no longer has any bearing on a previous decision. Therefore, in this case the referee should allow the goal to stand and restart the game with the direct free kick that was awarded to the blue team.
However, if before the ensuing kickoff the AR had realized that an offside infringement had occurred and should have been signaled, the referee must be made aware of the problem before the kickoff is taken. To do so, the AR should take actions similar to the following:
- Get the referee’s attention by raising the flag straight up.
- When the referee makes eye contact, beckon him over.
- The referee should move toward the AR, but both the referee and AR should continue to watch the field of play.
- The AR should briefly and clearly share the information. For example,“Blue #10, who scored the goal was offside when his teammate passed the ball to him. We should disallow the goal.”
- If the referee accepts the AR’s input, he can inform the captains and restart the game with an indirect free kick for the red team for the offside infringement.
- If the referee doesn’t accept the AR’s input, the AR takes the standard position to cover offside and the referee will restart the game with the kick off for the red team.
(See page 25 and 28 in the 2014-2015 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
August 21, 2014
Please view the below video clip courtesy of USSF, involving U-19 players, and analyze the action.
Do you see any wrong actions by players? If yes, what would you do as the referee? After you review the clip and develop your answers, read our response in the answer section.
White #9 receives the ball, turns, slips and falls as he tries to dribble. Black #9 tries to challenge him for the ball in a fair manner but white #9 crawls under black #9 covering the ball in a dangerous manner. White #9 continues to play like this for at least six seconds. Luckily, he is not injured.
Falling while in possession of the ball is not an offense in and of itself. However, the movements by white #9 in an unnatural body position after he falls create an unfair situation for the opponents. Black #9 is forced to stand still with his hands up and move away as black #7 tries to challenge for the ball and white #9 remains on the ground covering the ball.
White #9 is guilty of dangerous play. Therefore, the referee should stop play and restart the game with an indirect free kick for the black team. This type of dangerous play has the potential to frustrate players and make them kick the player who is on the ground. The recommendation is for the referee to quickly signal for the offense (quicker than is shown in this clip) and approach the players with a sense of urgency that will help them remain calm.
(See pages 37 and 39 in the 2014-2015 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
August 14, 2014
In a game with monitored substitutions, before restarting the game with a throw-in, the referee allows blue #7 to leave the field of play after her coach requests a substitution. The referee does not see that a substitute did not come in to replace blue #7 and allows the throw-in to be taken. As play goes by the blue team’s bench, blue #7 sticks her foot into the field of play and trips red #10.
For the substitution of blue #7 to be completed, a substitute needs to enter the field of play with the referee’s permission. When the substitute enters the field of play, she becomes an active player and blue #7 becomes a substituted player. In this case, since no substitute entered the field of play, blue #7 remained an active player who was off the field of play with the referee’s permission. Therefore, blue #7 is guilty of committing a tripping foul. The referee should stop play and restart the game with a direct free kick for the red team.
Sanctioning misconduct is still a possibility in the current scenario. If, in the opinion of the referee, blue #7 reentered the field of play by putting her foot onto the field to trip the opponent, the referee should show the yellow card to blue #7 and caution her for reentering the field of play without the referee’s permission. If the referee believes that blue #7 committed the tripping foul in a reckless manner, the referee should show the yellow card again to blue #7 and caution her for unsporting behavior. If both cautions are given, the referee should then show the red card to blue #7 and send her off for receiving two cautions within the same game.
The Laws of the Game give the referee the authority to caution blue #7 twice within the same game for two separate, non-simultaneous misconduct offenses and thereby send off the player. However, it is up to the referee to make the final decision as to whether each instance of misconduct deserves a caution and whether a send-off is the best option to preserve game control and protect the spirit of the game.
This scenario demonstrates the importance of making sure that the substitution process is completed before restarting the game. The referee team should always know where the players are and what they are doing. The assistant referee can help manage a substitution by asking the substituted player to go to the bench and sit down, keeping an eye on her until the player complies with the request.
(See pages 38 and 39 in the 2014-2015 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game and Section 12.C of the USSF 2013-2014 Advice to Referees).
August 7, 2014
In a U-14 girl’s game, blue #4 plays in a dangerous manner inside her goal area near the goal line. The referee stops play and awards an indirect free kick to the red team. Red #10 quickly grabs the ball, places it inside the blue team’s goal area on a spot close to where the play occurred and immediately passes it to red #12 who scores.
Per Law 13, when an indirect free kick is awarded to the attacking team for an infringement that occurred inside the defending team’s goal area, it must be taken on the line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred.
In this case, the restart was performed inside the goal area near the goal line. Therefore, the game was not restarted correctly. Regardless of the outcome of the incorrect restart, the game should be restarted with an indirect free kick for the red team from the correct position per Law 13. The referee should blow the whistle to get the players’ attention and briefly explain why the restart was incorrect. Then, the referee should point to the spot where the ball should be placed for the correct restart and restart the game with an indirect free kick.
Referees should be ready to quickly manage all game situations, especially those with the potential to confuse players and/or generate frustration. The following steps will help the referee effectively manage this and other similar incidents. The referee should:
- Be close to play.
- Whistle for the foul.
- Point to the spot on the goal area line where the ball should be placed for the restart, verbalizing quickly and clearly if necessary.
- Make sure that the ball is properly positioned.
- Read the possible intent for a quick restart and allow it to happen.
- Follow the steps for a ceremonial restart, if needed, in order to ensure that the restart is done correctly.
(See page 41 in the 2014-2015 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
July 31, 2014
As the referee is following play, he trips and ends up with his face to the ground. While the referee is down, red #12 scores a goal. The blue team’s goalkeeper grabs the ball and kicks it towards the halfway line. The assistant referee sees the entire action and believes a goal has been scored. The referee gets up, but does not know a goal has been scored.
Per Law 5, if a referee is temporarily incapacitated for any reason, play may continue under the supervision of the assistant referee (AR) until the ball next goes out of play. Per Law 6, the AR should indicate when the whole of the ball leaves the field of play. In the opinion of the AR, the whole of the ball passed over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, a goal was scored.
In this case, because the referee did not see the goal scored, the AR should provide help and indicate the goal by raising the flag above his head until the referee stops play, then immediately lowering the flag and running toward the halfway line, making eye contact with the referee to visually confirm that the ball went across the goal line. If needed, the AR can ask the referee to come over so he can tell him what happened.
(See pages 24, 28, and 71 in the 2013-2014 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
July 24, 2014
Please view the first 12 seconds of this video clip, courtesy of USSF, involving U-16 players, and analyze the action. Do you see any wrong actions by players? If yes, what would you do as the referee? After you review the video clip and develop your answers, read our response in the answer section.
This video provides an example of a tripping foul that is reckless. The white player gets to the ball first and touches it past the blue player. The blue player slides to try and tackle the ball away as it is played beyond her reach. She misses the ball and trips the white player, making contact with the lower part of the leg and causing her to fall hard on the ground.
The blue player may have not intended to hurt the white player. However, in this situation, her decision to tackle the white player became reckless because it placed the white player in a potentially injurious situation when she took her legs out from under her. In other words, the blue player acted with disregard for the safety of the opponent. Referees should judge the result of the contact and not the intent of the player committing the offense.
Therefore in this scenario, the referee should stop play, show the yellow card to the blue player, caution her for unsporting behavior and restart the game with a direct free kick for the white team.
(See pages 38, 117, and 123 in the 2013-2014 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
July 17, 2014
With one minute to go in a U-14 boy’s game, red #4 scores a goal to make the score 2 - 1 with the blue team still ahead. Red #4 tries to retrieve the ball from the net area, so he can quickly bring it back to the halfway line and get the game restarted. The blue team’s goalkeeper tries to forcefully grab the ball from red #4 and they both struggle for the ball.
The referee team must have awareness of potential problems throughout the game so that they can take preventive action and keep players under control. In this scenario, the referee should be thinking that, if the red team scores, they will want to restart the game quickly so that they will have a chance to score again. At the same time, the blue team could decide to waste time, as there is only one minute left in the game. This could generate frustration and create problems between players from both teams.
The referee should take the following steps to prevent misconduct from both players:
- Stay close to the goalkeeper and other players.
- Ask the red team’s players to go to their half of the field so the game can be restarted.
- Grab the ball and bring it to the halfway line.
- Restart the game as quickly as possible.
This process will help the referee project a sense of urgency to get the game restarted, which will calm the red team.
July 10, 2014
In a U-14 girl’s game, red #10 is dribbling toward the blue team’s goal when blue #3 pulls her shirt just outside the penalty area. Red #10 continues to dribble inside the blue team’s penalty area as blue #3 continues to pull her shirt. Because of the shirt pulling, Red #10 falls inside the penalty area. At the time, there were two other blue players between their goalkeeper and red #10.
Blue #3 committed a holding foul by pulling red #10’s shirt. The foul, which started outside the blue team’s penalty area, is extended into the penalty area because blue #3 kept pulling red #10’s shirt. Due to red #10 falling, that is the point where the referee determined that the foul must be called. Therefore, the referee should stop play and award a penalty kick to the red team.
If the referee believes that blue #3 committed a tactical foul, trying to stop red #10 from taking an advantageous position, then she should show the yellow card to blue #3 and caution her for unsporting behavior. This type of foul can generate frustration for players, coaches and spectators. To avoid or reduce the frustration, the referee should quickly deal with the incident and make it clear to everyone that a penalty kick is being awarded.
Several years ago, a foul that started outside and continued into the penalty area was penalized where it started - outside the penalty area. This allowed opponents to commit such a foul to stop a promising attack without being penalized by a penalty kick. FIFA changed the application of the Law to stop such fouls. Now, the challenge for the referee team is an attacker who gets fouled just outside the penalty area and deliberately falls inside the penalty area to deceive the referee into awarding a penalty kick. The referee has to have a good angle of vision to correctly evaluate fouls that occur barely outside the penalty area. The assistant referee can provide good assistance by concentrating and paying attention to the position of the foul.
(See pages 36 and 38 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
July 3, 2014
In a U-12 girl’s game, red #12 is ready to take a penalty kick. After the referee signals and before the kick is taken, the blue team’s goalkeeper moves to her left without stepping off the goal line. While the goalkeeper is moving, red #12 takes the penalty kick and the goalkeeper deflects the ball over the crossbar.
At the taking of a penalty kick or kicks from the penalty mark to determine the winner of a match, goalkeepers must remain on the goal line facing the kicker. However, they may move laterally along the goal line between the goalposts until the ball is kicked. In this scenario, the blue team’s goalkeeper made a good save. The referee should restart the game with a corner kick for the red team.
If the goalkeeper moves off the goal line before the ball is kicked during the taking of a penalty kick or a kick from the penalty mark, the referee waits to see the outcome of the kick. If the kicker does not score, then the penalty kick must be retaken.
(See page 44 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
June 26, 2014
In a U-14 girl’s game, the referee decides to caution blue #12 for dissent. The referee reaches into her pocket, pulls out her book and shows blue #12 the red card. When blue #12 complains about the red card, the referee puts it back into her pocket, says, “Sorry, this is just a caution.” and shows blue #12 the yellow card. The red team’s coach challenges the referee and tells her, “You can’t change your decision! You already gave her a red card.”
A referee’s decision takes precedence, not the color of the card that is displayed. Player dissent is punished with a caution. In this case, the referee accidentally pulled and showed the wrong card. The referee correctly showed the yellow card to blue #12 and explained the error. The referee may and, in scenarios with a challenging coach, should go over to the coach and clarify the possible confusion.
The referee should use a procedure that will help avoid pulling the wrong card or both at the same time. A recommended technique is to keep the red card in the shorts’ back pocket and the yellow card in the front pocket of the shirt.
(See page 38 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
June 19, 2014
In a U-12 boy’s game, red #10 is standing inside the blue team’s goal area with just the blue team’s goalkeeper between him and the opponent’s goal line. Red #12 takes a throw-in tossing the ball in the direction of red #10. The ball deflects off blue #3 and goes to red #10 who controls it and scores.
Red #10 is in an offside position, but a player cannot be penalized for an offside infringement if he receives the ball directly from a throw-in. In this scenario, although the ball deflected off a blue player, it is still considered to have gone directly to red #10 from a throw-in. That is, the deflection off the defender did not reset the moment of judgment for determining whether red #10 is offside. Therefore, since there is no offside infringement, the referee should allow the goal to stand and restart play with a kick-off for the blue team.
Consider a different scenario. If the ball deflects off of a red player directly to red #10, and red #10 gets involved in active play by interfering with play (touching or playing the ball passed or touched by a teammate,) then he would be guilty of an offside infringement.
To correctly evaluate these offside-related scenarios, the referee and assistant referee (AR) need to be 100 percent concentrated and thinking about the correct application of Law 11 – Offside. If the referee and AR don’t pay attention, they may think that there is an offside infringement because red #10 is in an offside position.
(See pages 38 and 108 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
June 12, 2014
In a U-14 girl’s game, blue #7 commits a tripping foul in the 8th minute, which the referee punishes with a direct free kick for the red team. In the 10th minute, blue #7 commits a kicking foul and the referee awards a direct free kick to the red team after having a word with her. Then, in the 13th minute blue #7 commits a tripping foul.
Blue #7 is guilty of persistent infringement (PI) of the Laws of the Game because she committed multiple fouls. The referee did well in warning blue #7 after she committed the second foul, but the player chose not to change her behavior. Therefore, when blue #7 commits the third foul (tripping), the referee should stop play, show the yellow card to blue #7, caution her for PI and restart play with a direct free kick for the red team.
Persistent infringement is source of frustration for all players, primarily for the ones receiving the fouls, but also for the teammates as the game is constantly interrupted. The frustration spills over to the touch lines and the coaches and spectators tend to become an additional challenge for the referee team. To avoid this frustration and manage PI, the referee should track all fouls, including those for which advantage has been applied. The referee can do this mentally or record the fouls in the record book, and the assistant referees can help with this task. There is no specific number of offenses which constitute PI, so the referee should judge and determine possible PI in the context of effective game management.
In games with younger players, PI is most commonly associated with individual players when they keep committing careless fouls. However, teams with knowledge of PI as a negative gamesmanship tool sometimes use it as a team tactic to stop skillful players. This happens when different players take turns fouling the same opponent in order to slow down or stop a player who is playing effectively against them. In a series of team fouls for PI, once the referee decides that this tactic is being used, the referee may caution the most recent player committing the foul even if that player previously has not committed any other foul.
Younger players don’t always register instructions from the referee. Therefore, in addition to providing direction after the second foul, the referee needs to confirm awareness. The referee can ask, “Do you understand?” and wait to get acknowledgement from the guilty player.
(See pages 38 and 1257 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
June 4, 2014
In a U-14 boy’s game, while the ball is in play but not within playing distance of both players, blue #5 impedes the progress of red #12. This causes red #12 to slow down and not be able to get to the ball. The referee stops play and awards an indirect free kick to the red team. As the referee indicates the direction of the free kick, red #12 pushes blue #5 in a non-violent manner.
For an offense to be considered a foul, it must be committed by a player against an opponent and on the field of play while the ball is in play. Therefore, an offense that occurs after the referee has stopped play may be considered misconduct but it cannot be a foul. In this case, red #12 pushed blue #5 after the referee had stopped play.
Therefore, the referee should immediately get the attention of both players using a strong whistle or a loud voice. This action will also help nearby players focus on the referee and not the opponents, helping to avoid retaliation. The referee should talk to both players and influence them to avoid future misconduct. Then, the referee should show the yellow card to red #12, caution him for unsporting behavior (pushing an opponent in a non-violent manner), and restart the game with an indirect free kick for the red team because of the impeding offense committed by blue #5.
In cases where a player retaliates against an opponent, the referee should demonstrate a sense of urgency, quickly get close to the players and get them to focus on the referee. If the referee is slow to react to the first act of retaliation, there will probably be additional and more serious retaliation.
(See pages 37-38 and 117 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
May 29, 2014
In a U-12 boy’s game, red #9 fell inside the blue team’s penalty area as blue #3 was defending him. The referee blows the whistle and awards a penalty kick to the red team. As the referee is setting up the penalty kick, red #9 points to blue #3 and tells the referee, “He did not kick me. I tripped on the ball and fell down.”
The referee may not change a decision after the game has been restarted. In this scenario, the referee has not restarted the game. That is, the penalty kick has not been taken. Therefore, the referee may change his decision if he realizes that he made an incorrect decision.
It is acceptable to change a decision based on players’ honesty. Red #9, who was the perceived victim of a foul, communicated to the referee that there was no foul committed. Therefore, the referee should thank red #9 for his honesty, a core value that we in AYSO teach and reward when players demonstrate it. The referee should then change the restart from a penalty kick for the red team to a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped. If play was stopped inside the goal area, the referee should drop the ball on the goal area line parallel to and six yards from the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was located when play was stopped.
(See page 25 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
May 22, 2014
In a U-16 boy’s game, blue #10 recovers the ball and attempts to pass it to his goalkeeper. Red #9 intercepts the ball and dribbles towards the blue team's goal with just the goalkeeper in front of him. Blue #4 is trailing red #9 just outside the penalty area. Blue #4 skips over to his right to avoid making contact with red #9 but grabs his left arm, causing him to lose control. Red #9 starts falling down but manages to take an uncontrolled kick towards the blue team’s goalkeeper who saves the shot.
Blue #4 impacted red #9’s ability to maintain control of the ball by holding him in a careless manner. Therefore, he is guilty of committing a holding foul.
View the clip, courtesy of USSF that demonstrates this scenario.
In the clip, blue #4 catches up to red #9 and attempts to stop him by quickly grabbing and releasing his arm as he jumps away from him to give the impression that he is avoiding contact. Blue #4’s intention is to stop the opponent without getting caught committing the holding foul.
In this scenario, the referee should wait 1-2 seconds, applying advantage, to see if red #9 scores a goal. If the goal is scored, the referee should verbally admonish blue #4 for committing the holding foul. He can say, “You’re lucky that he scored. Otherwise, your holding foul would have resulted in a red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity. Don’t do it again. Thank you.” Then, the referee would restart the game with a kick-off for the blue team.
Since the goal is not scored, the referee should stop play, show the red card to blue #4, send him off for denying a goal scoring opportunity and restart the game with a direct free kick for the red team from where the foul occurred. Blue #4 denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity because, when he committed the holding foul, red #9 was controlling the ball, dribbling directly to the blue team’s goal, going into the blue team’s penalty area, and the goalkeeper was the only opponent in front of him.
(See pages 36 and 39 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
May 15, 2014
In a U-14 girl’s game, red #10 dribbles into the blue team’s penalty area with blue #5 running alongside her. Red #10 takes a shot on goal and the ball goes away from the goal towards the goal line. Before the ball leaves the field of play, blue #5, who was attempting to play the ball as it was kicked by red #10, deliberately pushes red #10 into the ground.
Pushing an opponent is a direct free kick foul. If the pushing foul is committed by a defending player inside her penalty area, the punishment is a penalty kick. Therefore, in this case, the referee should restart the game with a penalty kick for the red team.
Since the foul occurred after red #10 had kicked the ball, there was no denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity. However, the referee should evaluate if the foul was committed in a reckless manner and/or using excessive force. If the foul was committed in a reckless manner, with complete disregard for the safety of the opponent, the referee should show the yellow card to blue #5 and caution her for unsporting behavior. If the foul was committed with excessive force, the referee should show the red card to blue #5 and send her off for serious foul play.
In this case, since blue #5 deliberately pushed red #10 with excessive force as she was trying to play the ball, the referee should send her off for serious foul play.
(See pages 38-39, 44, and 117 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
May 8, 2014
In a U-16 boy’s game with monitored substitutions, the referee stops play for a pushing foul committed by blue #5. The blue team requests a substitution and the referee motions substitute blue #17 to enter the field of play. Blue #17 enters the field of play. Blue #5, who was identified as being substituted, deliberately kicks red #9 before leaving the field of play.
Referees need to follow the proper substitution procedure to avoid problems. In this case, the referee did not follow the correct substitution procedure as he allowed blue #17 to enter the field of play before blue #5 had left the field of play. However, the substitution was completed because the referee gave permission to blue #17, who entered the field of play and became a player of record.
Therefore, blue #5 is considered a substituted player from the moment the referee authorized the substitution and blue #17 entered the field of play. The referee should show the red card to blue #5 and send him off for violent conduct. Since blue #5 was considered a substituted player when he committed the violent conduct offense, the blue team does not have to play one player short. The referee should restart play with a direct free kick for the red team for the pushing foul committed by blue #5.
The referee should have an awareness of potential player frustration. Players who are asked to be substituted may project frustration triggered by an opponent’s provocation, or caused by a sense of, “I’m not happy to be substituted so let me do something about it.” The referee should focus on the player to be substituted, and if needed, accompany the player to the bench so that he will not get involved in misconduct.
The assistant referees can help manage the substitution process, so review the role of each official during the pregame discussion. In this case, the assistant referee on the side of the team requesting the substitution could have helped by keeping blue #17 from entering the field of play until blue #5 had left the field.
(See page 8 in the 2014 AYSO Guidance for Referees, Coaches, Volunteers and Parents).
May 1, 2014
In a U-14 girl’s game, blue #3 takes a goal kick. The ball leaves the penalty area into the field of play and is blown back towards the blue team’s goal. Blue #3 kicks the ball before it has been touched by another player, attempting to stop it from going into the goal. However, the ball crosses the goal line between the goal posts and under the crossbar.
In this scenario, the ball was in play when it left the penalty area into the field of play. When blue #3 kicked the ball the second time, he was guilty of touching the ball a second time before it was touched by another player. This is punished with an indirect free kick.
However, since the ball went into the goal, the referee should apply advantage, count the goal and restart the game with a kick-off for the blue team. The advantage signal is not necessary in this case, as counting the goal makes it a clear decision. The clarification for this application of advantage was provided by the United States Soccer Federation in 2012.
When a ball is properly put in play from a goal kick and it goes directly (without being touched by the kicker or any other player) into the kicking team’s goal, the referee should restart the game with a corner kick. The corner kick restart is awarded because a goal can be scored directly from a goal kick, but only against the opposing team.
(See page 50 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
April 24, 2014
In a U-12 boy’s game, blue #9 is dribbling the ball in the opponent’s half of the field. When blue #9 dribbles into the red team’s penalty area, the referee notices that a red team player is lying on the ground near the halfway line.
In this scenario, the referee should make a quick decision to either stop play or allow it to continue, as blue #9 has an opportunity to take a shot on goal. Younger players seldom simulate injury to affect the outcome of the game and the referee should always err on the side of the players’ safety.
The referee must quickly determine whether the player on the ground is injured, assess the potential level of the injury and take action as appropriate. The referee must also determine if a blue team player committed an infringement against the player who is on the ground. This is an opportunity for the trailing assistant referee (TAR) to provide assistance to the referee.
The referee can use the following process to help him make a good decision:
• Run towards the player on the ground and make eye contact with the TAR.
• If it appears that the player is seriously injured, or if the referee has doubts as to the level of injury, the referee should immediately stop play.
• After making eye contact, the TAR should raise the flag if a blue team player committed an infringement.
• If the TAR’s flag is raised, the referee should immediately stop play, if not yet done. In this case, the leading AR should also raise the flag to mirror the TAR’s flag. This teamwork between the two ARs will help the referee make a quick decision.
• If the referee has stopped play, he should assess whether to beckon the red player’s coach onto the field of play to assist the injured player.
• If the TAR signals an infringement by the blue team, the referee should check with the TAR to identify the type of infringement, caution or send off as appropriate, and restart play in accordance with the infringement.
• If the referee stops play for the injury, and there is no infringement, the restart is a dropped ball from where the ball was when play was stopped.
• If the referee allows play to continue, the referee should check with the player on the ground to make sure everything is okay at the next opportunity.
The referee team should cover this topic in the pregame discussions.
(See pages 38-39 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
April 17, 2014
In a U-10 boy’s game, blue #10 takes a shot on goal and the red team’s goalkeeper catches the ball. The goalkeeper runs forward to kick the ball away when he accidentally drops it inside his penalty area. He picks it up quickly and kicks it away.
The goalkeeper committed an offense by touching the ball again with his hands after he had released it from his possession and before it was touched by another player. Per the letter of the Law, the referee should stop play and restart the game with an indirect free kick for the blue team. However, referees have used and should use their authority with flexibility to apply the Laws with common sense in support of the Spirit of the Game.
Referees should always consider the age of the players and their technical skills when making decisions related to infringements. In this case, since the goalkeeper accidentally dropped the ball, the referee may consider the goalkeeper’s handling of the ball a trifling infringement and therefore allow play to continue. The goal of the game is for the players to enjoy it with a minimum of interruptions so it becomes a fun experience.
(See pages 37 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
April 10, 2014
In a U-14 boy’s game, red #5 pushes blue #9, who falls to the ground. Blue #9 rolls around on the ground holding his ankle while yelling at the referee, asking him to caution red #5. The referee decides that blue #9 is faking the injury.
Players who attempt to deceive the referee by faking an injury and verbalizing dissent at the same time tend to frustrate opponents and sometimes, unfairly, influence the referee into making wrong decisions. The referee should manage this type of negative behavior in a manner that makes it clear to the guilty player and others that such behavior will not be tolerated.
In this case, the referee should stop play, show the yellow card to blue #9, verbally admonish him in a manner that can be heard/felt by players from both teams and caution him for unsporting behavior (feigning an injury). Then, the referee should restart the game with a direct free kick for the blue team because of red #5’s pushing foul.
The verbal admonishment, in this case, will help the players realize that blue #9 did not deceive the referee. The caution with the verbal admonishment should stop players from trying to deceive the referee for the rest of the game. Players will respect the referee and remain focused on fair play when the referee lets them know that he is willing to manage and punish misconduct.
(See pages 36 and 38 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
April 3, 2014
Please view the attached video clip, courtesy of USSF, involving U-16 players, and analyze the action. Do you see any wrong action(s) by players? If yes, what would you do as the referee? After you review the video clip and develop your answers, read our response in the answer section below.
Whistle Stop Video
This video provides an example of a charging foul that is reckless. Just as blue #11 gets to the ball, a white player, running at full speed, charges into him sideways. This causes blue #11 to fall hard to the ground. The referee can look for the following actions by the white player to identify this charging offense as a reckless foul:
- He is looking more at the opponent than at the ball.
- He has a chance to play the ball in a fair manner but decides to charge without regard for the safety of the opponent.
- He charges the opponent sideways, then turns his back and upends him in a dangerous manner.
- His action is designed to intimidate.
Therefore, the referee should stop play, show the yellow card to the white player, caution him for unsporting behavior, and restart the game with a direct free kick for the blue team.
This type of charging is not normal play and it must be eliminated from the game to keep it safe for all participants. The referee can take the following steps to properly manage this incident:
- Talk to the guilty player when administering the caution, “Be careful. You can hurt others or yourself.”
- Be sure to get acknowledgement by asking, “Do you understand?” Pause, and after receiving the player’s response say, “Thank you.”
- Talk to the fouled player to make him feel safe. Say, “I’ll take care of this. Please keep playing soccer. Thank you.”
- For the next few minutes stay close to the players involved in the incident to influence good behavior with his presence including verbalizing awareness as needed.
(See pages 36 and 38 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
March 27, 2014
In a U-12 girl’s game, blue #5 deliberately kicked the ball to her goalkeeper. The ball went outside of the blue team’s penalty area so the goalkeeper ran after it, dribbled it back into the penalty area, and picked it up with her hands.
A goalkeeper can normally handle the ball while it is in her own penalty area, but she is not allowed to handle the ball if it has been deliberately kicked to her by a teammate. In this case, the ball was deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper by her teammate, blue #5. The fact that she had to go outside the penalty area to retrieve it does not matter. Therefore, the referee should stop play and restart the game with an indirect free kick for the opponent.
Referees can help goalkeepers learn and understand the Laws by assisting them before the start of the game or when they come in to substitute a goalkeeper. The referee can remind the goalkeeper by saying, “Remember, you cannot pick up the ball if one of your teammates kicks it back to you on purpose. Do you understand?” In games with younger players, referees have a good opportunity to do more than just referee.
(See page 37 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.)
March 20, 2014
In a U-14 boy’s game, red #10 dribbles into the blue team’s penalty area with an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Just before red #10 takes a shot on goal, blue #5 tackles him with excessive force, making contact with red #10’s leg and not the ball. Red #10 loses control of the ball because of blue #5’s foul.
Blue #5 committed two sending-off offenses at the same time. One is serious foul play (SFP) for using excessive force against the opponent when he fouled red #10. The second one is denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity (DOGSO), because red #10 was moving towards the blue team’s goal with a good chance of taking a shot on goal. Blue #5 committed the DOGSO offense by committing another offense punishable by a free kick or penalty kick.
SFP is the more serious of the two offenses committed by blue #5. The referee should stop play and check to make sure red #10 is okay. If needed, the referee should request assistance from the red team’s coach to assist red #10. Then, the referee should show the red card to blue #5 for SFP and restart play with a penalty kick for the red team. The referee must report serious foul play as the reason for sending-off blue #5 and should also include details of other misconduct.
(See pages 39 and 126 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.)
March 13, 2014
In a U-14 boy’s game, blue player #3 commits three separate fouls and is cautioned by the referee for persistent infringement. Two minutes later, the referee stops the game because the same player commits a foul, which was his second consecutive foul after being cautioned.
Persistent infringement occurs when a player repeatedly commits fouls or certain other infringements. There is no specific number of infringements which constitutes persistent infringement. The referee should judge and determine persistent infringement in the context of effective game management. Blue #3 was cautioned for persistent infringement, yet committed two more fouls. In this case, the referee should show the yellow card to blue #3 and caution him for persistent infringement. Then the referee should show the red card to blue #3, send him off for receiving a second caution in the same game, and restart the game as appropriate for the foul that was committed.
Referees should execute a caution in a manner that generates desirable results in the player’s behavior for the remainder of the game. To influence the player’s behavior when the referee gives the first caution, a clear and firm verbal message should be given to the player. The referee should check for understanding by asking the player if he understands the problem and explain the consequences of continuing with the unacceptable behavior.
For example, the referee can say, “You have to stop committing fouls. Someone, including you, could get hurt.” Then ask, “Do you understand?” And to explain consequences say, “If you earn a 2nd caution, you will be sent off.” Then, for the next couple of minutes, the referee should influence blue #3 with his presence by being close to him when play is nearby. If the player changes behavior for the better, the referee can say, “Thanks for doing the right thing.”
Also, the referee or assistant referee can alert the coach about the player’s behavior so he can help manage the player. Coaches appreciate it when the referee lets them know that a player’s conduct may earn him a red card, if the coaches have not noticed the risk themselves.
(See pages 38 and 39 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.)
March 6, 2014
In a U-14 boy’s game, blue #9 is adjusting his shirt with both hands as the ball is played to him. He makes a basket with the shirt and catches the ball without touching it with his hands. Then, he releases the ball in front of his feet and kicks it into the red team’s goal.
Blue #9’s shirt became an extension of his hands as he was holding his shirt into a basket shape. Therefore, when he caught the ball with his shirt, he was handling it. The referee should stop play and restart the game with a direct free kick for the red team from the place where the offense occurred. If the offense occurred inside the red team’s penalty area, then all of the blue opponents must be at least 10 yards from the ball and outside the penalty area until the ball is in play. The ball will be in play when it is kicked directly out of the penalty area.
If the referee believes that blue #9 intentionally used his shirt to gain possession of the ball and prevent an opponent from gaining possession, then, before restarting the game, the referee should caution him for unsporting behavior.
(See pages 36, 38, and 119 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.)
February 27, 2014
In a U-14 girl’s game, blue #4 commits a cautionable offense. The referee decides to apply advantage. After a few seconds, the ball leaves the field of play over the touchline for a throw-in by the red team. Red #12 quickly gathers the ball, and seeing a possible goal scoring opportunity, she appears eager to perform the throw-in.
The caution may only be issued at the next stoppage of the game. If the caution is not issued before the next restart of play, it cannot be issued. Therefore, in this case, the referee should delay the throw-in restart, show the yellow card to blue #4, caution her and then restart play with a throw-in for the red team. If red #12 takes the throw-in before the referee cautions the player, the referee should immediately blow her whistle to get the players’ attention. Then, the referee should explain the reason for the delay of the restart and proceed to caution blue #4 before restarting play with the throw-in for the red team.
Sometimes there is a long time between the application of advantage and the next stoppage of play, and the referee may forget about caution(s) that may have to be issued. The assistant referees should be alert and ready to remind the referee before play restarts when there is a caution to be issued. In this case, it is acceptable for the closest assistant referee to tell red #12 to postpone taking the throw-in, and to then get the referee’s attention to remind her of the caution.
(See page 24 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.)
February 20, 2014
View the video clip below (courtesy of USSF) and analyze the action. Do you see any wrong actions committed? If so, what would you do as the referee? After you review the clip and develop your answer, read Whistle Stop’s response.
White #9 has control of the ball. Red #7 approaches white #9 and kicks him from behind, stomping down on his calf, using excessive force. Although this action is a direct free kick foul, the misconduct involved is classified as violent instead of serious foul play, because red #7 was not challenging for the ball.
Things that help the referee evaluate this as a violent conduct incident include:
• 00:09 – The ball is up in the air, in front of white #9. Red #7 is looking down and does not have a chance of playing the ball.
• 00:09 – Red #7’s leg is stretched out and ends up coming down hard when contact is made.
• 00:10 – Red #7 stops white #9 by kicking him, without regards for his safety.
• 00:11 – Red #7 acknowledges to the referee that he had done wrong by bringing his right hand up with an open palm, showing the referee.
• 00:12 – White #9’s body language projects the magnitude of the offense.
Unfortunately, sometimes teenage players feel that they have to play tough and accept this type of incident without major complaint. Notice that the players nearby did not react to the offense in a drastic manner. However, as the game goes on, players who have been victims of violent offenses that go improperly punished will find opportunities to retaliate.
Referees need to properly identify and manage violent conduct incidents. In this case, the referee should stop play and immediately request assistance from the bench for white #9. Then the referee should show the red card to red #7, send him off for violent conduct, reassure players that he will control the game to help avoid retaliation and restart play with a direct free kick for the white team from where the incident happened.
(See pages 38-39 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.)
February 13, 2014
In a U-16 boy’s game, the referee decides to caution blue #11 for committing a reckless foul. As the referee records the caution, blue #11 strongly dissents the referee’s caution for the reckless foul.
The referee should show a second yellow card to blue #11, caution him for dissenting his decision, show him the red card and send him off for receiving two cautions in the same game. The referee should then restart the game with a direct free kick for the opposing team from where the reckless foul was committed.
Cautioning or sending off a player has the potential to generate additional misconduct issues, sometimes as soon as the player(s) hear the whistle or see the yellow card. Therefore, it is very important for the referee team to have good awareness of potential negative behavior on the part of players, coaches and parents, to quickly manage situations and help them avoid additional misconduct.
In the process of cautioning a player, the referee should try to calm him down in order to help him avoid a quick and emotional second caution that results in a send-off. Before showing the first yellow card to the player, the referee may briefly explain to him what he did wrong and share the expectation for positive behavior. Things the referee could say in similar scenarios include, “We need you and everyone to be safe so you can’t play in a reckless manner.” or “Stop playing like this. You’re going to hurt somebody or yourself.” Then, the referee should check for understanding by asking, “Do you understand?”
Once the referee sees that the player is calmed, he can show the yellow card and caution the player. The referee should be ready to immediately stop negative behavior if the player decides to dissent after seeing the yellow card. Most players react positively to the referee when he explains things in a firm but positive and respectful manner. This approach will help the player avoid a second caution.
(See pages 38-39 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.)
February 6, 2014
In a U-10 boy’s game, red #9 is taking a penalty kick. Before red #9 kicks the ball, blue #7 enters into the penalty area. Red #9 kicks the ball, which rebounds back to him off the crossbar. Red #9 controls the ball and kicks it into the goal.
Answer: During the taking of a penalty kick, if a teammate of the goalkeeper enters the penalty area (encroaches) before the ball is kicked, and when the ball is kicked it does not enter the goal, the penalty kick is retaken. Therefore, in this scenario, the referee should stop play when the ball goes back to the kicker off the crossbar and explain why the penalty kick has to be retaken. Then, the referee should ask blue #7 not to enter the penalty area before the ball is kicked, and have the penalty kick retaken by the red team.
If blue #7 had not entered the penalty area before the ball was kicked, red #9 would have touched the ball a second time before it had touched another player. Therefore, in this new scenario, the referee should stop play and award an indirect free kick to the blue team.
(See page 46 in the 2013/14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.)
January 30, 2014
In a U-14 girl’s game, the blue team is winning by one goal with one minute left to play in the second half. The referee awards a free kick to the red team and blue #3 picks up the ball and walks away, resisting on having the ball taken from her by red #10 who gets frustrated.
Answer: Once the free kick is indicated by the referee, the red team has the right to take the kick immediately. The blue team’s players have the obligation to leave the ball alone or show good sportsmanship by giving it to the red team. Therefore, blue #3, who deliberately picked up and carried the ball, is guilty of delaying the restart of the game because her actions could be denying the red team its right to a quick restart.
In addition, by resisting to give the ball to the red team immediately, the blue team player may cause the red team player (and others) to get frustrated. A frustrated red team player may take physical action against the player with the ball and you may end up with several players involved in a melee, where a number of players may shout, push, etc.).
Therefore, to avoid potential player frustration and a possible melee, as soon as blue #3 grabs the ball, the referee should approach her and verbalize, "Give me the ball.” or “Put the ball down.” followed by a “Thank you." The referee would then continue managing the free kick.
If after the referee asks for the ball and blue #3 decides to keep wasting time, then the referee should show the yellow card to blue #3, caution her for delaying the restart of play, and restart the game with the free kick for the red team.
(See pages 38 and 125 in the 2013-14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game.)
January 23, 2014
In a U-8 game, the referee stops play as he signals that a foul has been committed. The referee realizes that he has signaled in the wrong direction before restarting the game.Answer: If the referee stops the game for an offense, he can change his decision for the restart as long as the game has not been restarted. In this scenario, the referee should get the players' attention, tell them that he made a mistake in signaling, and signal in the correct direction. Because young players are often learning about the game, and to support the Spirit of the Game, the referee should allow the defending team to get in position before restarting the game with a direct free kick.
January 16, 2014
In a U-19 boys' championship game, blue #10 takes a shot on goal from 33 yards away. Red #3, who is standing just inside his penalty area makes contact with the ball, attempting to kick it away to a teammate. However, the ball goes back into the penalty area where the red team's goalkeeper picks it up. Blue #10 yells, "He can't pick it up ref!"Answer: The goalkeeper may pick up the ball because blue #3 did not deliberately kick the ball to him. Therefore, the referee should allow play to continue. If any red team player yells, "He can't pick it up!" or "Pass back to the keeper!" the referee should say, "Keep playing. The kick was not deliberate."
Referees need to constantly evaluate the game action and think about possible verbal challenges from players and others. The referee needs to keep learning the Laws of the Game and their proper application in order to feel confident about his decisions. The confidence generated from knowledge and experience will help the referee to not overreact in similar scenarios due to yelling or screaming by players and others.
(See pages 37 in the 2013-14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
January 9, 2014
In a U-10 girls' game, red #12 scores a goal. Before restarting the game with a kickoff, the referee notices that red #12 is wearing a piece of jewelry with a rough side, which could be dangerous to other players.Answer: All jewelry is forbidden and must be removed before the game starts. In this scenario, the referee did not see red #12's jewelry during the players' inspection. The use of jewelry is an infringement of the Laws. However, in this case the infringement is considered trifling and the goal is valid.
Therefore, the referee should ask red #12 to remove the jewelry and restart the game with a kickoff for the opposing team. It is important for the referee and assistant referees to carefully check the players' equipment and pay attention to jewelry and other items that may be dangerous to players.
(See pages 22 and 70 in the 2013-14 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
To Whistle or Not to Whistle - 2012