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2012


December 20, 2012

In a girls' U-19 game, blue #10 is in an offside position and receives the ball from blue #7. Blue #10 takes a shot on goal and red #3 who is standing in her penalty area, jumps and punches the ball away from the goal.

Answer: If a player commits more than one infringement at the same time, the referee should punish the most serious offense. In this case, we have a different scenario because two different players committed offenses. The referee must enforce the Laws of the Game and punish infringements in the order that they happen.

The first infringement was committed by blue #10, who was in an offside position when she took the shot on goal (interfering with play while in an offside position). The deliberate handling of the ball offense committed by red #3 happened after the offside infringement. Therefore, the referee should stop play, warn red #3 not to handle the ball and restart the game with an indirect free kick for the red team from where blue #10 was when the ball was passed to her by her teammate.

In similar scenarios, where a different offense happens right after an offside infringement, it can be easy to focus on the more visible offense such as a handling of the ball. The assistant referee and the referee should focus, use eye-contact and communicate to quickly identify the sequence of offenses.

Discussing these scenarios during the pre-game conference helps promote awareness and establishes the proper process for teamwork between the referee and the assistant referees. This will ensure they can correctly identify and punish infringements based on the sequence of the offenses.

(See pages 24 and 35 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

December 13, 2012

View the video clip below (courtesy of USSF) involving U-19 players 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.


Answer:
Here is the sequence of actions by the players involved in this incident:
  • 00:01 - White #8 receives the ball and dribbles close to the touch line. The referee is close to play and watching the action.
  • 00:02 - Blue #16 challenges white #8 for the ball, forcing him to go off the field of play and lose possession of the ball. The referee moves closer to the players and keeps watching the action. The assistant referee (AR) is also watching the play to see if the ball leaves the field of play and to assist with any possible foul recognition as needed by the referee.
  • 00:03 - White #8 makes the last ball touch long and forward as he steps off the field of play to get around the opponent. Blue #16 gets possession of the ball by positioning himself between the ball and white #8. The referee pays closer attention to the players.
  • Up until now, white #8 was okay but has lost possession of the ball and gets desperate.
  • With older players, because they are more likely to overreact to embarrassing moments, there is a bigger chance for a player to take an unfair action after losing possession of the ball.
  • 00:03.5 - White #8 realizes that he has no immediate chance of recovering possession of the ball, so he pulls blue #16's shirt, causing him to fall.
  • 00:04 - The referee blows the whistle and quickly gets to both players. The referee arrives with a sense of urgency, calming both players down, which helps avoid further frustration and possible retaliation.
The referee must always be alert and ready to prevent and manage possible player confrontation. In this scenario, the referee had been watching the play develop and the players' actions. As soon as the referee saw the shirt pull, he blew the whistle and used his presence to calm the players. The referee's quick and calming intervention helped the players avoid a possible retaliation or confrontation, and possible send-off for misconduct.

The referee may decide to caution white #8 for unsporting behavior for deliberately pulling the opponent's shirt.

(See page 38 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

December 6, 2012

At the end of a U-16 boys' game, blue #3 is upset because his team lost 5-0. Instead of following his teammates to get ready for the postgame activities, blue #3 runs towards the referee and insults him.

Answer: The referee has the power to caution or send off players after the match has finished, because the game remains under his jurisdiction. Therefore, in this scenario, the referee must show the red card to blue #3 and send him off for using offensive language toward the referee and document the incident in the game report.

A soccer match can be emotionally overwhelming for players, which can generate joy and/or frustration. The referee should have a good sense of the temperature of the game and the players, especially at the end of the match. Understanding which players have the potential to commit misconduct after the game, will make it easier for the referee to help avoid trouble.

In similar situations, the referee can try to help the players by taking the following steps:
  • Exercise wisdom - quickly get far away from the player to avoid making eye contact or starting a conversation.
  • Display compassion - ask the player's coach to help his player deal with the frustration.
  • Apply common sense - if the player is very upset, don't force him to participate in the postgame activities.
  • Support AYSO values - in a future game, when the player is no longer upset, thank him for demonstrating Good Sportsmanship by not losing control at the end of the game.
(See pages 39 and 69 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).



November 28, 2012

In a U-12 girls' game, the referee incorrectly awards a free kick to the blue team. The referee realizes that he made a mistake and decides to correct it by awarding the free kick to the red team. Before the referee can announce the correct decision, the blue team puts the ball in play.

Answer: The referee may only change a decision upon realizing that it is incorrect (or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee), provided that the referee has not restarted play or terminated the match. In this scenario, the referee realized he made a mistake and although the blue team kicked the ball, the referee did not intend to restart play with a free kick for the blue team.

Therefore, the referee should quickly blow the whistle to get the players' attention, explain his change in decision and restart the game with a free kick for the red team.

In situations similar to this one, it helps to act quickly and with confidence. Admit the mistake, clearly and briefly explain the reason for the decision change, allow the blue team the opportunity to set up to defend against the free kick and quickly restart the game.

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



November 15, 2012

In a U-12 girls' game, during the taking of kicks from the penalty mark to determine a winner, the red team's goalkeeper is injured and unable to continue. The red team's coach asks for permission to replace the goalkeeper with a substitute. The blue team's coach tells the referee not to allow the substitution because the substitute was not part of the red team that was on the field of play when the second half ended.

Answer: A goalkeeper who is injured while kicks are being taken from the penalty mark and who is unable to continue as goalkeeper, may be replaced by a named substitute, provided that her team has not used the maximum number of substitutes permitted under the competition rules. In AYSO, we don't have a restriction on substitutions, as we want everyone to play as much as possible and at least for one half of the game.

Therefore, the referee should explain to the blue team's coach that substituting the injured goalkeeper is legal and allowed. In situations similar to this one, it is recommended that the referee team reviews the Laws and any related tournament rules before the start of the game. Keeping a copy of the Laws and rules in your referee bag comes in handy when having to explain decisions.

(See page 54 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).


November 8, 2012

View the video clip below (courtesy of USSF) involving U-16/19 players 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.

Answer: Here is the sequence of actions by the players involved in this incident:
  • 00:02 - White attacker scores a goal, which possibly ties the score or gets the white team closer to tying the score. The referee is close to play and watches the action.
  • 00:03 - The defending goalkeeper is raising his hand because he believes the attacker was offside, which means he is not happy. The referee moves into the penalty area and keeps watching the action.
  • 00:04 - Attacker goes to retrieve the ball so the game can be restarted quickly. The referee starts to move towards the goal, watching the attacker and keeper.
  • Up until now the players are okay, except for the keeper who is unhappy with the referee's decision to award the goal.
  • With older players, because they are more likely to overreact to the negative situations in a game, there is a bigger chance for player confrontation right after a goal is scored.
  • 00:05 - Keeper realizes that the attacker is going after the ball, so he decides to not let him get to it.
  • 00:06 - The keeper and the attacker start tussling for the ball, which can potentially end up in misconduct if the referee does not quickly manage the situation.
The referee must always be alert and ready to manage possible player confrontation. In this case, the referee had been watching the attacker and keeper, so he quickly gets in the middle of both players and separates them. He asks the attacker to go away, calms the keeper and grabs the ball so he can bring it to the middle of the field. In this scenario, the referee's quick and decisive intervention helped avoid the confrontation and therefore, a possible misconduct punishment for both players.

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November 1, 2012

In a U-14 girls' game, blue #9 is in an offside position when she receives the ball from a teammate. The assistant referee (AR) raises her flag to signal the offside, but before the referee can blow the whistle to sanction the offside, red #3 fouls blue #9 inside the red team's penalty area.

Answer: The referee decides when to stop play. If the referee accepted the input of the assistant referee (AR) and decided to stop play because of an offside infringement, then the foul happened after the ball was out of play. If the referee did not accept the AR's input, then she may decide to stop play for the possible foul infringement and manage the incident based on the parameters of being careless, reckless or for using excessive force.

If the referee stops play for either of those conditions, she can provide the information needed to clarify the situation by taking the following steps:
  • Blow the whistle hard enough to get the attention of the players and others.
  • Explain to the captains her decision - offside vs. foul infringement.
  • If she sanctions the offside infringement:
    • Manage the possible misconduct that happened after the offside infringement by using a firm word, caution or send off depending on the severity of the incident.
    • Restart the game with an indirect free kick for the red team where blue #9 was when her teammate kicked the ball.
  • If she sanctions the foul infringement:
    • Manage the possible misconduct that happened with the foul by using a firm word, caution or send off depending on the severity of the incident.
    • Restart the game with a penalty kick for the blue team.

If the referee decides not to stop play because she determines that there is no offside or foul infringement, then she should communicate her decision to the players. The referee earns acceptance when she explains her decisions, as players like to see that the referee is watching the same game as they are. The referee can provide a quick explanation as she runs by the players to follow the play. She can say, "I got it. There is nothing, keep playing. Thank you."

You can find additional examples of similar scenarios in the "To Whistle Or Not To Whistle?" editions from AAug. 2, 2012 and Sept. 20, 2012 .

(See pages 24, 36-38 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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October 25, 2012

In a U-14 boys game, blue #6 is about to take a throw-in when red substitute #5 makes fun of his shoes. Blue #6 deliberately throws the ball at red #5 and hits him in the face.

Answer: Red #5 is guilty of unsporting behavior because he distracted the opponent, blue #6, as he was about to restart the game with a throw-in. Blue #6 is guilty of violent conduct because he deliberately hit the opponent, red substitute #5, in the face with the ball.

Therefore, the referee should show the yellow card to red #5 and caution him for unsporting behavior. Then, the referee should show the red card to blue #6 and send him off for violent conduct. The referee should talk to the players on both benches to make sure they understand that they cannot interfere with the game. After, the referee should restart the game with a throw-in for the blue team, because the restart was never completed.

(See pages 38, 39 and 119 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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October 18, 2012

At the end of the first half in a U-10 girl's game, the referee awards a free kick to the red team. The referee looks at her watch and determines that time has expired, including the additional one minute she added. Before the referee blows the whistle to indicate the end of the first half, she looks up to see red #10 take the free kick. The ball goes towards the blue team's goalkeeper who kicks it over the goal line.

Answer: As the game timekeeper, the referee decides when a period ends and confirms her decision by using the whistle. In this scenario, the referee determined that the first half ended before the taking of the free kick. Since red #10 took the free kick before the referee could blow the whistle to indicate the end of the first half, the referee must communicate that the ball is no longer in play. Any play that happened as a result of the free kick is not part of the game, because the ball was out of play when the referee decided that the first half had ended.

The referee can provide the information needed to clarify the situation by taking the following steps:
  • Blow the whistle hard enough to get the attention of the players and others.
  • Explain to the captains that the first half ended just before the taking of the free kick.
  • Ask the players to take a half-time break.
  • Briefly answer any questions that may come up and move quickly to the center circle to join the assistant referees.
  • If the referee senses that the coaches need an explanation, the referee may provide a brief and quick explanation.
  • Take a break, drink some water, conduct the half-time discussion and get ready for the second half.

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

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October 11, 2012

In a U-12 boys' game, red #6 is dribbling the ball towards the blue team's penalty area. Blue #4 and #7 run to defend against red #6 and they collide with each other, bumping their heads hard and falling to the ground.

Answer: The safety of the players is the top priority for the referee. In this scenario, the red team has control of the ball and the blue team is not interfering with play. However, blue #4 and #7 bumped their heads and they could be seriously injured. Therefore, the referee should stop play immediately, check both players and if needed, beckon the coaches onto the field so they can assist their players.

Once the players have recovered and can continue to play, or have been removed from the field to receive assistance, the referee can restart the game with a dropped ball from the location where the ball was when play stopped.

Referees and coaches should learn about player injuries, such as concussions to better assist players. For valuable information, visit the AYSO.org concussion channel.

(See page 31 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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October 4, 2012

View the video clip below (courtesy of USSF) involving U-14/16 players 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.

Answer: Here is the sequence of actions by the players involved in the challenges:
  • :05 - Green player in the black gloves is relaxed and passes the ball to a teammate near the touch line. Then, he runs up the field to increase the attacking numbers for the green team.
  • :08 - White intercepts the ball, which was passed by the second green player to touch the ball, but he cannot control it.
  • :10 - Green #7 intercepts the ball and passes it to a teammate who loses it to the white player wearing the white head band.
  • Up until now all play is fair and the players' body language is relaxed.
  • :12 - White player, wearing the white head band tries to dribble the ball, but is doubled-teamed and loses it. He starts getting concerned and raises his right arm while using his left arm to try and hold the opponent.
  • :17 - White #10 comes in with a quick, strong, clean tackle and kicks the ball away from green, which surprises green #7.
  • :18 - White #10 is getting up to control and dribble the ball when green #7 fouls him, probably because he is influenced by the escalation in the back-and-forth contact.
The offense committed by green #7 can be classified as pushing, because green #7 pushes into the opponent instead of playing the ball. Or, it can be classified as holding, because green #7 also grabs the opponent's arm to stop him from getting to the ball.

The referee should blow the whistle and restart play with a direct free kick for the white team, from the location on the field where green #7 fouled white #10.

Several players in a small area were involved in challenging for the ball, losing and regaining temporary possession of the ball. As they were challenging for the ball, the contact was escalating and getting more intense. The players' body language went from relaxed to tense and demonstrative. White #10 raised his arms to the referee asking for a foul.

In similar scenarios, the players need to know that the referee is watching and understanding the action and if needed, feel the referee's presence. The referee can use personality, voice and body language to manage contact so that it does not escalate. To determine if a whistle is needed, the referee should evaluate the technical, physical and emotional skills of players as they challenge for the ball. If there is continuous contact with an escalation of intensity, without a clear possession, or a clear promising attack, the referee should look for unfair contact and blow the whistle. It is easier to prevent escalation of contact than to manage the potential results from it, such as retaliation.

In this clip, if the referee felt that things were getting out of control, he could have used a preventive approach and called a foul as soon as the player with the white head band was double-teamed. There was contact to his right knee by the green player in the gloves. Right after that occurred, green #7 hooked his right foot just enough to trip him.

(See page 36 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
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September 27, 2012

In a U-16 girls' game, red #9 takes an indirect free kick inside the blue team's penalty area. The ball first hits the goal post, and then it hits the back of blue #5's left foot before going into the goal.

Answer: A goal can be scored from an indirect free kick, only if the ball subsequently touches another player before it enters the goal. In this scenario, after red #9 took the indirect free kick, the ball hit blue #5 before going into the goal. Therefore, the referee should allow the goal and restart the game with a kick-off for the blue team.

It is important for the referee to provide the right signal for an indirect free kick by simply raising the arm straight up above the head. This signal must be maintained until the kick has been taken and the ball has touched another player, or it goes out of play.

(See page 40 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
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September 20, 2012

In a U-19 boys' game, blue #8 impedes the progress of red #10, so the referee blows the whistle to punish the offense. As the referee is signaling the direction of the restart, red #7 who gets frustrated at blue #8's action, pushes him to the ground.

Answer: Impeding the progress of an opponent is punished with an indirect free kick. Any incident, such as pushing an opponent which occurs when the ball is out of play, should be managed by the referee, but it cannot change the restart of play.

In this scenario, the referee stopped play to punish the impeding offense so the ball was out of play when the pushing foul occurred. Therefore, the referee should manage the pushing incident, and then restart play with an indirect free kick to the red team.

Managing the pushing foul can vary from a firm word with the guilty player, to cautioning him for unsporting behavior. Whichever action the referee decides to take should depend on the severity of the foul, the temperature of the game and the management skill or experience of the referee.

Teenage players tend to quickly overreact to simple incidents and can easily get involved in "group hugs" - two or more players confronting each other. The referee must be alert at all times, paying attention to the players' possible frustration. The referee should also be close to play, especially when signaling offenses, which keeps players aware of his presence. The referee should be able to get the players focused on him, rather than the opponent by verbalizing a quick and firm word to the player. This action will grab the attention of the player who may be frustrated with the situation.

(See pages 33 and 37-38 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
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September 13, 2012

In a U-14 girls' game, blue #5 commits a tripping foul in a careless manner and the ball rolls to red #9. The referee waits for an advantage to develop for the red team, but within seconds, blue #7 commits a dangerous play offense and the advantage does not develop.

Answer: The advantage clause within the Laws of the Game empowers the referee to not stop play to sanction a foul or misconduct by the defending team, if he believes that the attacking team may gain a greater benefit by letting play continue. In cases where it appears that such an advantage may develop, the referee can signal the advantage and then wait a couple of seconds to see if the advantage develops. A developed advantage, also known as an advantage that materializes, happens when the attacking team maintains possession of the ball with a good opportunity for a promising attack on the opponent's goal.

If the advantage does not materialize quickly, the referee should stop play and penalize the original offense at the position where it occurred. If during the wait-and-see time period, a second offense is committed by the defending team, the referee should penalize the more serious of the two offenses. The referee may also apply advantage to the second offense. However, in youth games where players' skills are not technically strong, this rarely happens.

In this scenario, the advantage did not materialize and a careless tripping foul is more serious than a dangerous play foul. Therefore, the referee must stop play, talk to the players about the dangerous play and restart the game with a direct free kick for the red team, from where the tripping foul occurred.

(See pages 24 and 36-37 in the 2012-13 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
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September 6, 2012

In a U-10 boys game, blue #4 trips red #10 inside the blue team's penalty area just five seconds before time expires. As a result, the referee awards a penalty kick to the red team. The game cannot end without completing the penalty kick so the referee allows it to be taken. Red #9 takes the penalty kick. The blue team's goalkeeper makes a save by punching the ball back towards red #9, who kicks it into the goal.

Answer: In this scenario, the game expired after the referee decided that the blue team committed a direct free kick foul inside their own penalty area. Therefore, he was correct in awarding a penalty kick to the red team. Since the game expired right after the referee awarded the penalty kick, the referee allowed additional time to let the red team take the penalty kick.

The referee decides when a penalty kick is completed. In this case, the penalty kick is completed when the goalkeeper makes the save. When red #9 kicks the ball back into the net after the goalkeeper had deflected it back to him, the ball was no longer in play. For that reason, the referee should not award the goal.

(See page 44 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
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August 30, 2012

In a U-8 girls game, the red team's goalkeeper punts the ball away and up into the air inside her own penalty area. The ball falls straight back to the goalkeeper without being touched by any other player and she catches it inside her own penalty area.

Answer: Law 12 says that an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, inside her own penalty area, touches the ball again with her hands after she has released it from her possession and before it has touched another player. In this case, the goalkeeper released the ball when she kicked it up into the air.

However, when applying the Laws of the Game the referee should always consider the technical skill level and knowledge/experience of the players. For younger players, the referee should allow play to continue in situations that can be considered trifling.

In this case, the referee should give the benefit of the doubt to the goalkeeper and allow play to continue. At the next opportunity, the referee can provide a quiet word to the goalkeeper to help her understand that she cannot touch the ball with her hands, once it has been released. The referee may also inform the goalkeeper's coach so the teaching process may continue after the game or at the following practice.

(See page 37 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
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August 23, 2012

View the video clip below (courtesy of USSF) involving U-16 players, 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.

Answer: White #10 is dribbling the ball when blue #11 steps into him making hard, high contact at the hip. White #10 is knocked completely off his feet and hits the ground hard about 5-6 feet from where the original contact took place. This is a reckless charging foul because blue #11, rather than playing the ball, deliberately charged white #10 in a manner outside the norm for fair play to intimidate him.

Therefore, the referee should stop play, show the yellow card to blue #11, caution him for unsporting behavior and restart play with a direct free kick for the white team from the place where the foul occurred. If the foul occurred inside the blue team's penalty area, then the restart is a penalty kick for the white team.

Below are some criteria that the referee and assistant referee can use to identify this action as a reckless charge:
  • Attempt to play the ball: blue #11 charged white #10 directly with no effort to play the ball.
  • Able to play the ball: the ball never changed direction after the contact between the two players, which indicates that blue #11 did not touch the ball.
  • Force used: blue #11 did not use excessive force, but used enough to try to intimidate white #10.
  • Malicious intent: blue #11 did not intend to hurt white #10, but decided to make contact without any regard for his safety.

In such scenarios, players can easily lose their composure. In addition to the caution, the referee should have a talk with the offender and the victim to ensure that they remain focused on fair play. The caution and the talk will help keep the game under control or bring it back under control, reasserting the referee's authority and presence by calming down players.

For the next few minutes, the referee should keep an eye on both players to provide additional player management as needed to help them avoid the escalation of frustration and/or retaliation. The referee team must maintain player safety, facilitate fair play and keep order in the game at all times.

(See page 36 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
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August 16, 2012

In a U-10 boys game, the red team's goalkeeper is bouncing the ball inside his penalty area as he gets ready to punt it. In one of the bounces, the ball lands on a soft, muddy spot on the ground and it does not bounce back up. It slowly rolls away from the goalkeeper who then quickly bends down, picks up the ball and kicks it away.

Answer: An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, inside his own penalty area, touches the ball again with his hands after he has released it from his possession and before it has touched another player.

In this scenario, the goalkeeper did not intend to release the ball when he was bouncing it and instead the ball stopped on the soft, muddy spot. He immediately, with a continuous motion, picked it up and kicked it. Therefore, the referee should allow play to continue as the goalkeeper did not deliberately release it.

The referee should always consider the technical, physical and emotional levels of the players when evaluating situations. The younger the players are, the more the referee should allow play to continue in similar situations.

(See page 35 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
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August 9, 2012

In a U-14 girls game, red #9 dribbles the ball into the blue team's penalty area and ends up in a one-on-one situation against the goalkeeper. Blue #7, who is not able to catch up to red #9 but knows her name screams, "Hey Mary!" startling the attacker enough that she loses possession of the ball.

Answer: Verbally distracting an opponent during play is an example of unsporting behavior which is punishable with an indirect free kick. A player, who denies an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player's goal with an offence punishable by a free kick, should be sent off.

In this scenario blue #7 is guilty of unsporting behavior because she distracted red #9 and caused her to lose possession of the ball. With her unsporting behavior offense, blue #7 denied red #9 an obvious goal scoring opportunity as she was in a one-on-one situation with the blue team's goalkeeper.

Therefore, the referee should stop the game, show the red card to blue #7, send her off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity, and restart play with an indirect free kick for the red team.

In this situation the referee may need to explain to the blue team the reason for the send off so the referee must have a good understanding of Law 12.

(See pages 36, 37 and 117 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
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August 2, 2012

In a U-12 girls game, blue #4 plays in a dangerous manner in the opinion of the referee. Red #9 has a good chance of controlling the ball, so the referee decides to wait and see if an advantage develops. Before the advantage develops, blue #4 holds red #9.

Answer: A dangerous play offense is punished with an indirect free kick and a holding offense is punished with a direct free kick. When there are two consecutive offenses by the same team, the referee should penalize the more serious of the two.

The holding offense is more serious than the dangerous play offense, therefore, the referee should stop play, verbally ask blue #4 to be careful and restart play with a direct free kick for the red team.

The referee should make an attempt to influence a player to avoid committing a second consecutive offense within seconds. In scenarios similar to this one, the referee could verbalize a warning right after the dangerous play as she is allowing a possible advantage to develop. For example, the referee could say, "Careful #4," which will make the player think about her next action and hopefully decide to play fair.

Youth players are learning everything about the game and they need confirmation when their actions support fair play. If blue #4 plays fair after the verbal warning, and does not immediately commit another offense, the referee can run by and say "Thank you #4," to let her know that she did the right thing.

(See pages 34-35 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
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July 26, 2012

View the video clip below (courtesy of USSF) involving U-16/18 players, and analyze the action. Do you see any wrong actions committed? If so, what would you do as the referee? After you review the video clip and develop your answer, read Whistle Stop's response.

Answer: White #9 and blue #3 are challenging for the ball when blue #3 pushes with his arm to win possession of the ball. White #9 gets somewhat upset and chases after the ball, committing a charging foul against blue #13. The referee should stop play, talk to white #9 to keep him focused on fair play, and restart play with a direct free kick for the blue team.

Depending on the nature of the game flow that the referee has established in this game, he could have chosen to penalize the use of the arm by blue #3 as a pushing foul. But given the technical, physical and emotional skill levels demonstrated by the players in this clip, it seems acceptable for the referee to allow the action by blue #3 as part of the game flow. Especially since both white #9 and blue #3 end up using their arms as they challenge for the ball.

If the referee allows play to continue through the challenge between white #9 and blue #3, he should provide immediate awareness to both players that he has seen the contact but wants them to play through it. An example of what the referee can say is, "Play the ball. Thank you." This verbal awareness will make the players realize that the referee is watching their actions and will take action if needed.

As often as possible, referees should end their instruction(s) to players and others with a "Thank you" because it is a powerful, positive word which disarms a person from verbally challenging the instruction(s). "Thank you" projects respect and commands respect.
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July 19, 2012

In a U-16 boys game red #10 takes a shot and the ball rolls just wide of the portable goal on its way to leave the field of play over the goal line. The ball makes contact with the wheel on the outside of the goal frame which stops it from completely leaving the field of play.

Answer: The referee should apply the Laws of the Game with common sense. In this scenario, the ball was headed over the goal line after having last touched an attacker. The wheel attached to the outside of the goal interfered with the ball's direction given by red #10's shot. Since the wheel is attached to the goal, the referee should consider that the ball left the field of play.

The referee should stop play and restart it with a goal kick for the blue team, because the ball is considered to have left the field of play having last touched an attacker.

The referee team should inspect the field of play before the start of the match to identify any issues that could impact referee decisions. All issues should be addressed before the start of the match, and in this case, a wheel attached to the goal which the referee should try to have removed. If it is not possible to remove the wheel, the referee should notify the captains and others as needed that he will consider the ball to be out of play if it makes contact with the wheel.

(See page 48 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
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July 12, 2012

In a U-19 girls game blue #10 is injured inside the red team's penalty area. Red #3 kicks the ball out of play so that blue #10 can get assistance. When blue #5 is about to take the throw-in, blue #7 asks for the ball, saying, "Here, I'll give it to the keeper." Blue #7 gets the ball and then deliberately scores on the red team's goalkeeper who was expecting to get the ball back.

Answer: Blue #7 demonstrated poor sportsmanship by deceiving the opponents. Her coach should mentor and help her to understand and support fair play. However, blue #7 did not commit any infringement of the Laws of the Game and therefore, the referee must allow the goal and restart the match with a kickoff for the red team.

This type of behavior frustrates the opponents, so for the rest of the game, the referee should pay close attention to blue #7 and her opponents as they may look for an opportunity to retaliate. Coaches and referees must work together to ensure that players respect the principles of fair play and sporting behavior.
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July 5, 2012

In a U-16 girls game, red #9 is in an offside position just inside the goal area. Blue #3 controls the ball and kicks it to try and get it out of the penalty area. The ball deflects off of blue #6, who is just outside the penalty area, and goes to red #9, who controls it and scores.

Answer: A player in an offside position is only penalized if, in the opinion of the referee, he is involved in active play at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his teammates. In this scenario, since red #9 received the ball from an opponent, she cannot be punished for offside. Therefore, the referee should allow the goal and restart with a kickoff for the blue team.

When a player in an offside position receives the ball from an opponent in an unexpected manner, such as in this scenario, even the assistant referee may get a bit surprised and think that the player is gaining an unfair advantage. Assistant referees must concentrate at all times and pay attention to who last touches the ball when it goes to an attacker to make correct offside decisions.

(See page 33 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
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June 28, 2012

View the video clip below (courtesy of USSF) involving U-16/18 players, and analyze the action. Do you see any wrong actions committed? If so, what would you do as the referee? After you review the video clip and develop your answer, read Whistle Stop's response.

Answer: Black #5 makes a pass into the open area in front of the leading assistant referee. His teammate outruns two yellow defenders and positions himself to control the ball. The yellow defender kicks the ball with his left foot, but deliberately raises his right leg to kick the opponent on the back of his legs. This action is considered a reckless foul because the yellow defender showed no regard for the safety of the opponent.

The referee may have been far away from play and potentially blocked by a couple of players. However, the assistant referee signals the foul by raising and waving the flag. Then when the assistant referee makes eye contact with the referee, he points to the pocket on the left side of his shirt. This signal is used by assistant referees to recommend to the referee that he caution the player in question.

Therefore, the referee should stop play, show the yellow card to the yellow defender and caution him for unsporting behavior - committing a direct free kick foul in a reckless manner. Then the referee should restart the game with a direct free kick for the black team.

Assistant referees need to concentrate at all times in order to be able to assist the referee when needed. This is a good example of teamwork between the referee and assistant referee.

(See page 34, 36 and 117 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
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June 21, 2012

In a U-14 boys game, two minutes before the end of the first half, red #9 is heading toward a one-on-one against the blue team's goalkeeper. A couple of seconds before red #9 scores, the blue team's coach asks his players to leave the field of play so he can make substitutions, and most of them get off the field of play. The assistant referee asks, "What are you doing, coach?" He replies, "I heard someone calling for substitutions."

Answer: The referee cannot punish a team for the opponent's mistakes. The blue team's coach may have pulled his players off the field of play on purpose, because he wanted the referee to stop play and impact the red team's promising attack. It could also be true that he did hear someone calling for substitutions, and therefore beckoned his players.

Regardless of the reason why the blue team's coach pulled his players off the field of play, the referee did not authorize substitutions. Therefore, since the red team had a promising attack, the referee should not stop play unless there was an incident that put a player in danger or would give the red team an unfair advantage.

The referee should allow the goal, explain to the blue team's coach that he did not authorize substitutions, ask the blue team's players to get back on the field of play and restart the game with a kickoff. If the referee determines that the coach deliberately pulled the players off the field of play to potentially stop the red team's attack, then the referee should verbally warn the coach.
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June 14, 2012

In a U-14 boys game, the referee awards a goal kick to the blue team, which is winning by two goals. The blue team's goalkeeper slowly retrieves the ball, correctly places it in his goal area for the goal kick and then allows more than 10 seconds to go by, looking at his teammates without taking the goal kick.

Answer: The referee cannot allow time wasting by any team under any circumstances, especially when it is done in an excessive manner and by the team that is ahead on goals. A preventive refereeing approach is very effective in such cases, and the referee can take the following steps to manage potential time-wasting situations during the taking of goal kicks:
  • From a close proximity, verbally instruct the player who is retrieving the ball to do so quickly. Example: "Goalkeeper, please get the ball quickly. Thank you."
  • Point to the ball as the instruction is given to let everyone know that you are handling the situation.
  • If the referee is far away from the player retrieving the ball, then the closest assistant referee can help by providing the same verbal instruction.
  • Remain close to the goal area until the player brings the ball back into the field of play and demonstrates that he will put it back into play within a reasonable time.
  • If the player ignores or pretends that he does not hear the instruction the first time, give him a louder second instruction as you jog closer to him. Example: "Goalkeeper, get the ball quickly. Thank you!"
  • If the player delays restarting once the ball is properly placed, a simple "Play!" from the referee will typically result in the match being quickly restarted.
  • If the player chooses to disregard the instructions, show him the yellow card and caution him for delaying the restart of play.

A preventive approach by the referee not only influences players to focus on fair play, but helps the players impacted by the potential misconduct to remain positive, because they can see that the referee is managing the game.

(See page 36 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).
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June 7, 2012

In a U-16 girls game blue #9, who is in an offside position, turns her back toward the opponent's goal and makes no attempt to play the ball as it rolls past her, last touched by a teammate. Red #5 runs past blue #9 and tries to control the ball to turn it up field. When red #5 touches the ball, blue #9 runs toward her to challenge her and try to tackle the ball away. Do you penalize offside?

Answer: Blue #9 is in an offside position, but may become onside if the opponent, in this case red #5, plays the ball or gains possession of the ball. Playing or gaining possession of the ball means possessing and controlling it, such that red #5 can dribble or pass the ball and not just simply deflect or touch it.

In this case, red #5 did not control the ball and did not gain possession or play the ball. Therefore, the referee should determine that blue #9 is interfering with the opponent. Since blue #9 was in an offside position when the interference occurred, the referee should stop play and restart it with an indirect free kick for the red team.

Referees and assistant referees should be thinking at all times to properly evaluate offside "snapshots." An offside "snapshot" is the time period in which the actions of a player in an offside position need to be evaluated for a possible offside infringement. The "snapshot" is based on three criteria: interfering with play, interfering with the opponent or gaining an advantage from being in an offside position. The "snapshot" time period starts when a teammate of the player in an offside position last touches or plays the ball, and ends when another teammate not in an offside position, or an opponent, controls the ball.

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

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May 31, 2012

View the video clip below (courtesy of USSF) involving U-16/18 players, and analyze the action. Do you see any wrong actions committed? If so, what would you do as the referee? After you review the video clip and develop your answer, read Whistle Stop's response.

Answer: As white #11 prepares to pass or continue dribbling the ball, blue #15 runs toward her to challenge and "hip checks" her to the ground. This type of challenge is not fair and is a charging foul. Therefore, the referee should stop play, talk to blue #15 about focusing on playing fairly and restart the game with a direct free kick for the white team from the place where the infringement occurred.

The referee can look for signals that indicate that blue #15 committed a foul. Such signals include: her forgetting about playing the ball and concentrating instead on making contact with the opponent, using her hip to push the opponent away at the last minute and moving away from the incident without showing concern for the opponent.

The foul in this clip is an example of a careless challenge which can make the opponent frustrated and seek retaliation, if not properly managed by the referee. The referee should have a firm word with the player who commits the foul to reassure the fouled player - and others around - that he will take care of business. If the referee fails to manage this action, then there is a greater potential that the players will continue to commit similar or worse fouls.

In cases where the team does a quick restart, the referee should speak with the blue player at an appropriate stoppage.
(See page 34 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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May 24, 2012

In a U-16 boys game, red #12 deliberately trips blue #6 as he challenges for the ball inside the red team's penalty area. The referee awards a penalty kick to the blue team, and blue #10 takes the kick. As the ball is heading toward the goal but has not yet crossed the goal line, blue #6 deliberately kicks red #12 inside the penalty area where the penalty kick is being taken.

Answer: At the taking of a penalty kick, the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward. In this scenario, the ball was put in play when blue #10 kicked it forward, correctly taking the penalty kick.

A player is guilty of violent conduct if he uses excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball. Therefore, in this scenario, the referee should immediately blow the whistle hard to stop play and to indicate to the players that the misconduct happened before the ball went into the goal. Then the referee should show the red card to blue #6, send him off for violent conduct (deliberately kicking an opponent when not challenging for the ball) and restart the game with a direct free kick for the red team, to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred.

It is recommended that the referee look at all the players before signaling for the taking of a penalty kick in order to identify potential trouble, such as retaliation. Blue #6 getting close to red #12 just before the taking of the penalty kick should be a signal to the referee that trouble may occur. The referee should verbalize a warning to blue #6 and red #12, making sure that the warning is heard by all surrounding players. When players are frustrated and thinking about retaliation, they need to feel and hear the referee so they can remain focused on fair play.

(See pages 37, 43 and 121 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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May 17, 2012

In a U-16 boys game, just before the blue team takes a corner kick, players from both teams are jockeying for position inside the penalty area. The players push, shove and bump into each other, trying to be in front so they can have a good chance of getting to the ball. Should the referee respond to this situation?

Answer: Except under certain conditions, such as during a penalty kick, throw-in or goal kick, all players have the right to stand anywhere on the field of play, as long as they don't gain an unfair advantage and/or create a dangerous situation for themselves or the opponents. While waiting for a corner kick to be taken, players tend to make contact with each other as they look for the best position to win the ball.

However, the players' shoving and pushing may generate frustration that can lead to fouls and/or misconduct, so the referee should manage any issues before the taking of the corner kick. As the referee sees a situation developing, he should get closer to the players so they can feel his presence and, if needed, verbalize a warning that will help the players respect each other.

For example, the referee can identify the two players who are providing the most visible pushing and shoving and say to them: "Blue 3 and Red 9, stop the pushing." After pausing for a moment, the referee should then thank the players for complying.

The verbal warning should be heard by everyone in the vicinity so that it influences all players and helps them focus on fair play. If after the warning a player still insists on engaging in misconduct, the referee should stop the taking of the corner kick, caution the player and then restart with the corner kick.

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May 10, 2012

View the first four seconds of the video clip and then pause it. Evaluate the play and determine whether or not you would penalize offside. After making your decision, watch the entire video clip to get the correct answer. In evaluating the video clip, assume the following conditions:

  • Don't pay attention to the dark field lines - they belong to a bigger soccer field when this field is used for other games.
  • The red team's goalkeeper is the closest player to the red team's goal line, but he is out of the video frame.

 

Answer: The referee can only penalize a player for an offside infringement when two key components are present. First, the player must be in an offside position, evaluated at the moment the ball touches or is played by a teammate. The second component is involvement in active play. A player is involved in active play if in the opinion of the referee he is interfering with play, interfering with the opponent or gaining an advantage by being in an offside position.

In this clip, the green player receiving the ball is not in an offside position because when the ball is played by his teammate, the green player is not nearer to his opponent's goal line than the second-to-the-last-opponent, red #10. In other words, red #10 and the red goalkeeper are closer to the red team's goal line than the green player who received the ball.

Therefore, in this scenario, there is no offside infringement to penalize. This offside decision can be challenging to make because the green player is not closely marked by an opponent, and within 1.5 seconds he is 3 to 5 yards ahead of the defender, giving the illusion the he is in an offside position.

The assistant referee (AR) must concentrate to correctly evaluate potential offside position. The referee must support the AR's decision against possible verbal complaints from the coach and/or parents.

Please refer to the Feb. 9, 2012 and March 1, 2012 edition of "To Whistle or Not to Whistle?" to review additional clips with offside scenarios.

(See pages 33 and 102-10 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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May 3, 2012

In a U-14 boys game, blue #10 reaches up to handle a ball going over his head in order to try to score a goal. Blue #10 does not touch the ball, but instead the ball hits red #3's shoulder and goes into the goal.

Answer: Attempting to handle the ball is not an offense. Therefore, if the referee believes that blue #10's action (attempt to handle the ball) did not interfere with the opponent, he should award a goal to the blue team and restart play with a kickoff for the red team.

The referee should also talk to blue #10 to let him know that he should not be attempting to handle the ball, as doing so would result in a free kick for the opponent and a possible caution for him.

However, if the referee believes that blue #10's attempt to handle the ball did interfere with the opponent, he should stop play, show the yellow card to blue #10, caution him for unsporting behavior and restart play with an indirect free kick for the red team.

Examples of interference with the opponent while reaching out to handle the ball include interfering with a defender's ability to play the ball, or interfering with the goalkeeper's ability to see and/or play the ball.

(See pages 34 and 37 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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April 26, 2012

In a U-19 girls game, red #7 sends a pass toward the blue team's corner flag post and red #9 chases after the ball. The blue team's goalkeeper runs to the ball and kicks it out of the field of play across the touch line. Red #9 quickly takes a throw-in, and red #10 scores before the blue team's goalkeeper can get back to her position.

Answer: The red team did not commit an offense by taking the quick throw-in, and should not be punished for the blue goalkeeper's inability to get back in position. Therefore, the referee should award a goal to the red team and restart play with a kick-off for the blue team.

However, in similar situations with younger players and/or in short-sided games, the referee should consider the age and experience level of the players. In such cases, the referee may allow the goalkeeper to get back in position before the taking of the throw-in.

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April 19, 2012

View the video clip below (courtesy of USSF) involving U-15/17 players, and analyze the action. Do you see any wrong actions committed? If so, what would you do as the referee? After you review the video clip and develop your answer, read Whistle Stop's response.

Answer: The white attacker is dribbling the ball fast, and orange #14 believes he will be able to successfully tackle it away. However, orange #14 misses the ball, so he deliberately holds the white player by the waist and the shirt to slow him down and/or prevent him from continuing his attack. The white player ends up falling down because of the holding, so orange #14 successfully stopped the attack with a tactical foul.

The referee should stop play, show the yellow card to orange #14 and caution him for unsporting behavior, i.e. holding an opponent for the tactical purpose of preventing the opponent from getting to the ball. Then the referee should restart the game with a direct free kick for the white team from the location on the field where the foul was committed.

Blatant holding of a player when he is moving fast puts him at risk of injury when he falls down. The player falling may suffer a serious injury as he is not expecting to go down, and he may fall on his arm or strike his head as he hits the ground. Also, this type of foul frustrates the attacker, and he may retaliate by striking the defender as he tries to get away from him, putting the defender at risk of injury. Therefore, it is critical for the referee to be close to play and make himself noticed so he can quickly take action as needed to avoid violent retaliation.

Referees should differentiate between a foul that only requires a free kick and one that requires a caution. The referee should deal firmly with blatant holding fouls from the start so the players will stop using this negative tactic that takes away from the beautiful game.

(See page 117 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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April 12, 2012

In a U-19 girls game, the blue team is playing with the minimum requirement of seven players on the field. Blue #3 is hit in the face by the ball and her nose starts bleeding.

Answer: In this scenario, the referee must stop play immediately and beckon the blue team's coach onto the field to help blue #3. Then, the referee must ask blue #3 to leave the field of play in order to correct the bleeding situation. Play must be stopped temporarily if a team drops below the required minimum number of players after the referee asks a player to leave the field of play to tend to and correct a bleeding situation.

An important goal for a referee is to try to help the teams complete their game, especially in youth competitions. In this situation, the referee must wait a reasonable amount of time for the blue team to comply with the minimum required number of players.

The blue team can comply by using a substitute to replace blue # 3. The blue team can also comply by having blue #3 return to the game after she corrects the bleeding situation, removes blood from her skin as needed and cleans or replaces her uniform as needed. Once the seventh player enters the field of play, the referee should restart the game with a dropped ball where the ball was when the game was stopped.

If, in the opinion of the referee, the blue team will not be able to comply with the required minimum number of players within a reasonable period of time, then he/she may abandon the match. If the match is abandoned, the referee must document the related information in the game report.

(See section 3.16 in the 2011-12 USSF Advice to Referees).

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April 05, 2012

In a U-8 girl's game, red #3 takes a goal kick. Before the ball leaves the goal area, blue #6 runs in and kicks the ball into the goal.

Answer: In U-8 games, the field should have two goal areas to be used for goal kicks. There is no penalty area in a U-8 field of play. Therefore, for the proper taking of a goal kick, all opponents must remain outside the goal area until the ball is in play. The ball is in play when it is kicked directly out of the goal area and into the field of play. Because blue #6 entered the goal area and touched the ball before it was put into play, the goal kick restart was never completed.

The referee should stop play and explain to the blue player that she has to wait until the ball leaves the goal area before she can play it. Then the game should be restarted with a goal kick for the red team.

If a Region is able to provide assistants for U-8 matches, then the assistant referee (AR) should wait to give the referee the opportunity to identify the infringement and signal for the goal kick to be retaken. However, if the referee misses the infringement, the AR should first raise the flag straight up to indicate that the ball was not put into play. Once the referee acknowledges the flag, the AR should signal for the goal kick by lifting the flag horizontally, parallel to the goal line. (See pictures below).

Whistle or Not to Whistle Answer

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

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March 29, 2012

In a U-14 boys game, a kid standing behind the red team's goal is taunting the goalkeeper. While the ball is in play in the blue team's penalty area, the red goalkeeper runs outside his penalty area, leaves the field of play and kicks the kid who is taunting him.

Answer: Kicking a spectator outside the field of play is a violent conduct offense. Therefore, in this scenario, the referee should stop play, show the red card to the red team's goalkeeper and send him off for violent conduct (brutality against a spectator). The red team must play one player short for the rest of the game. The referee must ask and wait for another red team player to take the position of goalkeeper, and then restart the game with an indirect free kick for the blue team from the position where the ball was when the referee stopped play. The restart is an indirect free kick because the goalkeeper left the field of play to commit the misconduct offense.

Before starting any game and before starting the second half, the referee should make sure that nobody is behind the goals. In addition, throughout the game the referee team should be aware of people who may be interfering with the players in order to manage potential problems.

In scenarios similar to this one, the closest assistant referee should get the attention of the person who is bothering the goalkeeper and ask him to move to the side of the field. If the person does not comply, then the assistant referee should notify the referee so that he can get the person to the side of the field, or further away if necessary.

The referee should try to remove the person without interfering with the game. The referee can do this by moving close to the person or going to him at a stoppage of the game and asking him/her to move to the side of the field. If needed, the referee may stop the game to remove the person. If the referee stops the game to remove the spectator, the restart is a dropped ball where the ball was when the referee stopped play.

(See pages 37 and 122 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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March 22, 2012

View the attached video clip (courtesy of USSF) involving U-15/17 players, and analyze the action. Do you see any wrong actions committed? If so, what would you do as the referee? After you review the video clip and develop your answer, read Whistle Stop's response.

Answer: Red #55 jumps to head a high bouncing ball. She is bumped from behind by white #15 and falls to the ground. Both players were close to the ball and attempting to play it, confirmed by the fact that both players were looking at the ball before making contact with each other. White #15 does not get to the ball and makes contact with red #55 because she is already in motion and cannot change her direction.

The offense of jumping at an opponent committed by white #15 is a careless foul because it does not have the deliberate and willful aspect of a reckless foul. Therefore, the referee would be correct in stopping the game and restarting it with a direct free kick for the red team where the offense occurred.

In scenarios similar to this one, the referee should also talk to the players regarding the offense. The referee should ask white #15 to be careful, as youth players need reminders of what is right and wrong in soccer, and should check with red #55 if she is OK to ensure her safety.

It is easier for the referee to see and evaluate this type of player contact from an angle rather than from directly behind play. Having a good angle of view is accomplished when the referee avoids being in line with the players that are challenging for the ball. One easy way to do this, when using the left-wing diagonal, is to move to the left of play as you move toward the players. Moving to the left instead of to the right is preferred because it will allow the referee to keep the leading assistant referee in sight. It is a common belief that referees should never leave the field to get a good angle to see play when it is near the touchline or goal line. However, an experienced and fit referee will run wide and deep, including off the field when necessary, to stay close to play and achieve the best possible angle.

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

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March 15, 2012

In a U-14 girls game, red #10 takes an indirect free kick, shooting the ball straight at the opponent's goal. Blue #3, who is standing inside the penalty arc, deliberately deflects the ball with her hand, preventing it from entering the goal. The ball leaves the field of play over the cross bar.

Answer: If the ball had gone from the indirect free kick into the goal without being touched by another player, the restart would have been a goal kick for the blue team because a goal cannot be scored directly from an indirect free kick. Therefore, blue #3 did not deny an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. The penalty arc is not part of the penalty area, so blue #3 was standing outside of the penalty area when she deflected the ball.

In this scenario, the referee should show the yellow card to blue #3 and caution her for unsporting behavior (deliberately handling the ball). The game should be restarted with a direct free kick for the red team from the place where the infringement occurred.

(See pages 34 and 36 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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March 08, 2012

Five minutes into a U-14 girls game, the referee directs blue #4 to leave the field of play to put her shin guards on. Blue #4 leaves the field of play, properly puts the shin guards on and asks the assistant referee (AR) for permission to enter the field of play. The AR grants permission, so #4 enters the field of play and scores a goal. The coach from the red team yells, "Ref! The goal is no good because #4 entered the field without your permission."

Answer: When a referee instructs a player to leave the field of play to correct equipment, the player must not re-enter the field of play without the referee's permission. This permission may not be delegated to a fourth official (FO) or assistant referee (AR). The FO or AR may check that the player's equipment is corrected before she comes back into play, but only the referee can allow her to enter the field of play. When the referee delegates the inspection of player equipment to the AR or FO, the referee team should discuss during the pregame conference a reliable means of communicating with the referee.

If a player returns to the field of play illegally, he or she must be removed, cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without the referee's permission. In this case, the AR incorrectly authorized blue #4 to enter the field of play without the referee's permission, and although the referee team made a mistake, the return of blue #4 was illegal.

Therefore, the referee should disallow the goal because blue #4 illegally entered the field of play. The referee should explain to both teams that a mistake was made by the referee team, but that the goal cannot be allowed because it would change the outcome of the game. Then the referee should restart the game with an indirect free kick for the red team in the goal area, at the place where the ball was when play stopped. The referee should consider not cautioning the player since the AR allowed her to enter the field of play, which makes her action trifling. This incident is a great example of why the pregame conference is very important for the referee team.

(See page 21 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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March 01, 2012

View the first eight seconds of the video clip and then pause it. Evaluate the play and determine if you would penalize offside. After making your decision, watch the entire video clip to get the correct answer.

In evaluating the video clip, assume the following conditions:
  • Yellow #30 plays (touches) the ball after it was last touched by a teammate (you cannot see this in the video clip).
  • At the moment his teammate plays the ball, yellow #30 is closer to the opponent's goal than both the ball and the second-to-the-last opponent.



    Answer: The referee can only penalize a player for an offside infringement when two key components are present. First, the player must be in an offside position. The potential offside position of a player is evaluated at the moment the ball touches or is played by a teammate. The second component is involvement in active play. The player is involved in active play if in the opinion of the referee he is interfering with play, interfering with the opponent, or gaining an advantage by being in the offside position.

    Notes on the video clip:
    • 1-3 seconds - The goalkeeper for the white team kicks the ball away.
    • 3.5 seconds - The yellow team controls the ball, creating a "snapshot" for evaluating potential offside position. Yellow #30 is in an offside position because he is closer to the opponent's goal than both the ball and the second-to-last opponent.
    • 4 seconds - Yellow #30 takes off from the offside position to go play the ball passed by a teammate.
    • 6 seconds - Yellow #30 interferes with play when he touches the ball. At this point, the assistant referee should raise the flag to indicate that yellow #30 may be penalized for being in an offside position. The referee should look at the assistant referee, blow the whistle and penalize the player.
    • The restart should be an indirect free kick for the white team from where #30 was when the ball was passed by a teammate.
This offside decision is challenging to make because when yellow #30 plays the ball, at least three opponents (two defenders and the goalkeeper) are behind him, giving the illusion that he is not in an offside position. The assistant referee (AR) can help the referee "sell" this correct offside decision by providing a signal to indicate that #30 came from an offside position. The typical signal discussed in the pregame conference and used by the AR to indicate this type of offside involves using both arms. The AR first raises the flag to signal the offside with her left arm, and after making eye contact with the referee, she swings her right arm (without the flag) in a vertical arc motion, from her right side to her left side. This signal indicates to the referee, coaches, players and others that the player came into play from an offside position.

(See pages 33 and 102-10 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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February 23, 2012

In a U-14 girls game, the blue team is controlling the ball in the middle of the field. The trail assistant referee (TAR) observes blue #3 pushing red #5 to the ground in a reckless manner, inside the blue team's penalty area. The TAR determines that the referee did not see the infringement, so she raises her flag, which is then mirrored by the lead assistant referee (LAR). When the referee looks at the TAR, she slightly waves the flag, so the referee blows the whistle.

Answer: One of the duties of the assistant referee, subject to the referee's decision, is to indicate when misconduct or any other incident occurs out of the view of the referee. In this case, the TAR was correct in signalling the infringement, and the LAR in mirroring the flag to get the referee's attention.

After stopping the game, the referee needs to confirm the nature of the infringement, which in this scenario can be done by talking to the TAR and, if needed, the LAR as well. The TAR should provide the facts and any recommendations for possible disciplinary actions.

The TAR should say: "Blue #3 committed a pushing foul in her own penalty area. She did it in a reckless manner, so I recommend that you caution her and then restart the game with a penalty kick for the red team." Because of the good teamwork relationship between the referee and her assistant referees, she will proceed in accordance with the TAR's direction and recommendation.

It is important for the TAR to pay close attention to the players that are out of the view of the referee and to quickly manage possible infringements. This will help minimize misconduct that can escalate to critical levels.

(See pages 27 and 34 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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February 16, 2012

In a U-12 boys game, the blue team's goalkeeper drops the ball to the ground so he can kick it away. Red #9, who is standing behind the goalkeeper and inside the blue team's penalty area, comes around and shoots the ball into the goal.

Answer: When a goalkeeper has control of the ball with his hands, he cannot be challenged by an opponent. A goalkeeper is considered to have control of the ball when:
  • The ball is either between his hands or between at least one hand and any surface, such as the ground or his body.
  • He is holding it in his outstretched open hand.
  • In the act of bouncing it on the ground or tossing it into the air.
In this scenario, the goalkeeper deliberately relinquished control of the ball when he dropped it on the ground. Therefore, the ball was in play and available for anyone to play it when red #9 kicked it into the goal. The goal is valid and the referee should restart play with a kick-off for the blue team.

In youth games, referees are an extension of the coaching program and can help players learn more about the game by providing quick, brief advice. Before restarting play, it is OK for the referee to say, "Keeper, next time look around you to make sure there are no opponents nearby before you release the ball."

(See page 114 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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February 9, 2012

View the first eight seconds of the video clip and then pause it. Evaluate the play and determine if you would penalize offside. After making your decision, watch the entire video clip to get the correct answer.

Answer: The referee can only penalize a player for an offside infringement when two key components are present. First, the player must be in an offside position. The potential offside position of a player is evaluated at the moment the ball touches or is played by a teammate. The second component is involvement in active play. The player is involved in active play if in the opinion of the referee he is interfering with play, interfering with the opponent, or gaining an advantage by being in the offside position.

Notes on the video clip:
  • 1-3 seconds - Black #2 dribbles the ball and takes a shot at goal, which is saved by the goalkeeper.
  • 3.5 seconds - When black #2 takes the shot, this is the first "snapshot" for evaluating potential offside position. However, teammates #8 and #7 are not in an offside position because they are behind the ball.
  • 4 seconds - #7 shoots and hits the crossbar, creating the second "snapshot" for evaluating potential offside position. At this time, teammates #2 and #8 are not in an offside position because they are behind the ball.
  • 6.5 seconds - Black #2 kicks the ball, providing the third "snapshot" for evaluating potential offside position. Teammates #8 and #7 are both in an offside position at this time, because they are closer to the opponent's goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.
  • The assistant referee should not raise the flag until it can be determined that a player in an offside position becomes involved in active play.
  • 7 seconds - Black #7, who is in an offside position, interferes with play when he heads the ball. At this point, the assistant referee should raise the flag to indicate that #7 may be penalized for being in an offside position. The referee should look at the assistant referee, blow the whistle and penalize the player.
  • The restart should be an indirect free kick for the green team.
This clip demonstrates how important it is for the officials to be in the right position and how it is important to be completely concentrated at all times to make correct decisions.

(See pages 33 and 102-10 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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February 2, 2012

In a U-16 girls game, blue #3 takes a quick free kick from within the blue team's penalty area. The ball hits the referee's arm and is redirected outside the penalty area, leaving the field of play over the goal line near the corner flag.

Answer: For free kicks taken by the defending team from within their own penalty area, the ball is in play when it is directly kicked outside the penalty area. The referee is neutral and considered to be part of the field when he is standing inside the field of play, and the same holds true for assistant referees when they accidentally stand inside the field of play. Therefore, in this scenario, the ball was correctly put into play when it went directly outside of the penalty area and into the field of play. Because the referee's arm is considered neutral, the outcome is the same as if the ball had left the field of play directly from the taking of the free kick. The referee should restart the game with a corner kick for the red team, since the ball went over the blue team's goal line having last touched a blue player (blue #3).

The referee should not get in the way of players' passing lanes to avoid unfairly impacting the teams. It helps to look at the player who will take the free kick to determine which direction to use to get out of the way without interfering. It is good to be close to play, but not so close that you interfere with play.

(See pages 39 and 50 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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January 26, 2012

In a U-19 boys game, blue #7 grabs the ball to take a throw-in. He runs down the line about eight yards past the point where the ball left the field of play, then takes the throw-in from there.

Answer: At the taking of a throw-in, the player should deliver the ball from the point where it left the field of play, and no further than one yard from this location. If the player takes the throw-in from beyond the one-yard limit, as in this scenario, the referee should award a throw-in to the opposing team from the place where the ball originally left the field.

The primary function of a throw-in is to put the ball back into play as soon as possible. In this context, infringements related to Law 15 can be trifling, especially in youth games. However, coaches, players and spectators can use these trifling incidents as excuses to complain to the referee because they are frustrated by other aspects of the game. Therefore, the referee should manage throw-ins and not let them become an excuse for people to dissent.

In youth games, the player may either not know the procedure for the throw-in, may be overwhelmed by the game and not notice that he is getting far away from the proper location for the throw-in, or may just want to gain an unfair advantage. To avoid these outcomes in situations similar to the one in this scenario, the referee can help the player take a proper throw-in and manage it by taking the following steps:
  • Line up with the point where the ball left the field of play.
  • Point with an extended arm to the location where the throw-in should be taken. Once it is clear that the player knows where the throw-in should be taken, the referee should move to an appropriate location to be near play once the throw-in is completed.
  • If the player who is taking the throw-in starts getting far away from the location for the throw-in, the referee should blow the whistle or verbalize to get the player's attention before the throw-in is taken. After making eye contact with the thrower, the referee should point to the location or provide verbal direction to get the player back to the correct location.
(See page 46 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game and section 15 in the USSF Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game).

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January 19, 2012

In a U-16 girls game, blue #14 is about to take a corner kick. Blue #9 is standing behind the red team's goalkeeper. As the corner kick is taken, blue #9 runs off the field of play into the area within the net, and then comes back into the field of play, in front of the goalkeeper.

Answer: All players have the right to stand anywhere they want on the field of play, as long as they don't gain an unfair advantage and/or create a dangerous situation for themselves or their opponents. Players may step off the field of play, temporarily, if they are going around an opponent in an attempt to play the ball. However, players who are attempting to gain an unfair advantage may not leave the field of play without the referee's permission. In this case, blue #9 left the field of play without the referee's permission, so the referee has to handle the situation in accordance with one of the following scenarios:
  • Blue #9 returned to the field of play and interfered with the goalkeeper's ability to play the ball - The referee should stop play, admonish/verbally warn blue #9, or caution her for unsporting behavior (trying to gain an unfair advantage is more serious than leaving the field of play without the referee's permission). Then he should restart the game with an indirect free kick for the red team.
  • Blue #9 left the field of play to get around the opponent and have a good chance at playing the ball - If in the process of returning to the field of play, blue #9 does not interfere with the opponent and/or does not put any player in danger, the referee should allow play to continue.
(See page 36 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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January 12, 2012

View the video clip below (courtesy of USSF) involving U-15/17 players, 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 answers, read Whistle Stop's response.





Answer: Blue #14 is dribbling fast and pushes the ball into the white team's penalty area. White #11 challenges blue #14, and both players make fair upper body contact. Blue #14 tries to kick the ball, but instead kicks white #11's left foot and trips him. As white #11 falls, his right hand makes contact with the ball. The referee calls a handling offense, awarding a penalty kick to the blue team.

The tripping foul by the blue team occurred before the possible handling of the ball, but because it was not seen by the referee or the assistant referee, an unfair penalty kick decision is made. The correct decision should be to call the tripping foul by blue #14, stop the game and restart it with a direct free kick for the white team.

Here are actions that the referee and/or the assistant referee can take in order to make correct decisions in similar situations:
  • The assistant referee should concentrate on players challenging for the ball so that he can see potential fouls.
  • The assistant referee should indicate offenses not seen by the referee or whenever he has a better view than the referee to see an offense.
  • The referee should keep a clear, unobstructed view of play with a good angle of view. A good angle of view helps the referee make correct decisions, as well as determine whether contact is fair, careless, reckless or done using excessive force.
  • The referee should keep the assistant referee in view so he can see flag signals.
  • The referee should be close to play, without interfering with players or ball movement, to help him make correct decisions. When the referee is far away, it makes it easier for players and others to question his decisions.
(See pages 27, 34 and 113 in the 2011-12 AYSO FIFA Laws of the Game).

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January 05, 2012

In a U-14 girls game, red #10 takes a penalty kick with 10 seconds left in the first half. The ball hits the crossbar, causing its seams to burst.

Answer: If the ball becomes defective during the taking of any kick from the penalty mark, and this occurs before the ball touches a player, in this instance - the goalposts or the crossbar, then the penalty kick is retaken. In this case, the ball became defective after hitting the crossbar, and therefore, the penalty kick is considered completed. The referee should stop play, replace the ball and restart play with a dropped ball.

If the same situation happens during the taking of a kick from the penalty mark to determine a winner, the penalty kick is considered completed.

(See section 14 in the USSF Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game).

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