May 9, 2013
I will be unable to deal with questions for much of the next week, beginning on Friday, May 10. I will get to them as time allows.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
May 3, 2013
Question: I see a lot of players lowering their shoulder and then raising it into the another player as they make contact during a shoulder charge. Some refs call it a foul and others have said it is a legal charge. Is it foul for a player to lower their shoulder into another player during a shoulder charge?
Answer (May 3, 2013):
There is no clear definition in the Laws of the game as to what is fair in a shoulder-to-shoulder charge. The general definition is given in the USSF Advice to Referees:
The act of charging an opponent can be performed without it being called as a foul. Although the fair charge is commonly defined as “shoulder to shoulder,” this is not a requirement and, at certain age levels where heights may vary greatly, may not even be possible. Furthermore, under many circumstances, a charge may often result in the player against whom it is placed falling to the ground (a consequence, as before, of players differing in weight or strength). The Law does require that the charge be directed toward the area of the shoulder and not toward the center of the opponent’s back (the spinal area): in such a case, the referee should recognize that such a charge is at minimum reckless and potentially even violent.
It may help to include some more information:
We define charging thusly: A fair charge is shoulder to shoulder, elbows (on the contact side) against the body, with each player having at least one foot on the ground and both attempting to gain control of the ball. The amount of force allowed is relative to the age and experience of the players, but should never be excessive. This is as defined by the referee on the game, not some book definition, adjusted as necessary for the age and experience of the players and what has happened or is happening in this particular game on this particular day at this particular moment. It all boils down to what is best for the referee’s management and the players’ full enjoyment of the game.
Although often overlooked by spectators, it is important to remember that a player’s natural endowments (speed, strength, height, heft, etc.) may be superior to that of the opponent who is competing with that player for the ball. As a completely natural result, the opponent may not only be bested in the challenge but may in fact wind up on the ground with no foul having been committed. The mere fact that a player fails in a challenge and falls or is knocked down is what the game is all about (and why coaches must choose carefully in determining which player marks which opponent). Referees do not handicap players by saddling them with artificial responsibilities to be easy on an opponent simply because they are better physically endowed in some way.
Fair charges include actions which do not strictly meet the “shoulder-to-shoulder” requirement when this is not possible because of disparities in height or body type (a common occurrence in youth matches in the early teenage range where growth spurts differ greatly on an individual level within the age group). Additionally, a fair charge can be directed toward the back of the shoulder if the opponent is shielding the ball, provided it is not done dangerously and never to the spinal area.
The arms may not be used at all, other than for balanceÑwhich does not include pushing off or holding the opponent.
Children of the same age differ in their development. They and we have to live with it. No foul if there was no offense other than being larger or faster. As noted above, the decision as to whether the force used is excessive is up to the individual referee.
And let’s also add that if the use of the shoulder appears to the referee to involve the use of excessive force, then it should be punished with the sending-off of the miscreant.
May 2, 2013
I’m confused with some of these procedures. I was made to understand from the laws of the game that a dropped ball is a method of restarting game, that any player may challenge for the ball. And that the referee cannot decide who may or may not contest a dropped ball.
Question: (1) Why do referees drop the ball for a player to play it back to the opponent after a temporal stoppages or why do one team play the ball back to the opponent after it has been dropped by the referee. (2) If the player fails to play it back to the opponent, will the referee caution the player? (3) In what situation can players from different teams contest for a dropped ball (4) In thesame line, when a player is down and the ball is been played out through the touch line so that the player down in the field can receive treatmeant. Why do players always start it by throw-in the ball to their opponent ( i cannot find it in the laws of the game).
Answer (May 2, 2013):
Deciding who “may or may not” contest the dropped ball is a concept that has been refined over the years by the Spirit of the Laws and tradition, which is well known to the players, and the referee. Or most of them. The tradition is outside of the Laws, but even special efforts and instructions by national associations, as well as hints from the International Football Association Board, the people who make the Laws, have not affected any real change.
(1) If play was stopped because of injury to a player of one team that was not caused by a foul (and thus there is no free kick), tradition requires that the referee drop the ball for the team whose player was injured. This includes events in the penalty area where the goalkeeper had possession; the ball is dropped for the goalkeeper and other players stay away.
(2) It is not against any Law to not play the ball to the other team. There is no penalty if the player fails to play the ball to the other team, but even his own teammates and team officials will often criticize him. The referee should not caution the player.
(3) If play was stopped for misconduct or a foul committed by players of both teams, the dropped ball is contested.
(4) If play was stopped when a player was injured and the other team kicks it out, tradition requires that the team that takes the throw-in play the ball to the other team. This is usually done by kicking the ball to the goalkeeper.
April 11, 2013
Is it legal for a player to take a throw-in from his knees? Where is this specified in the FIFA Laws of the Game?
Answer (April 11, 2013):
It is not included in the Laws of the Game. Outside the Laws of the Game, we are aware of only one document that FIFA has issued for the IFAB (the people who write the Laws) that covers this situation. It is in Law 15, Q&A 7, of the 2006 edition of Questions and Answers:
LAW 15 (THE THROW-IN)
7. Is a player allowed to take a throw-in kneeling or sitting down?
No. A throw-in is only permitted if the correct procedures in the Laws of the Game are followed.
From the USSF Advice to Referees:
Players are not allowed to take throw-ins while kneeling or sitting down. Squatting is a form of sitting and is therefore not allowed, but players are permitted to take “flip” or “acrobatic” throw-ins, provided the procedures outlined in Law 15 are followed. “Standing” is the normal and traditional posture at any restart; anything other than standing is not permitted. The “acrobatic” or “flip” throw-in is allowed because the thrower actually makes the throw from a standing position.
NOTE: The kneeling answer was also in earlier editions of the Q&A, which is no longer published, having been replaced by “Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees ” Simply because this fact no longer appears in the Laws of the Game does not mean that it is not valid. Many items not written in the Laws are widely known to be valid. The most famous omission is that the player who has been sent off during the game may not be replaced. Why these omissions? Because “everyone knows that!”
April 8, 2013
We encountered a novel (to us) situation in our last weekend of youth games.
In a U-14B league game, about 15′ before the end of the second half, there was a reckless foul by a defender, followed by dissent, resulting in a send off for that player. The foul occurred in the defender’s penalty area, so a PK was to be the restart. The attacking player involved appeared injured following the foul, leading to precautionary treatment and then removal from the field, resulting in a temporary stoppage of 5-10′. During that time, the attacking team coach (visitors) in discussion with the defending team coach (home) and the referee, requested to end the game explaining that he was now down to just 8 players (started with 10, one became ill and then one injured). The home coach offered to play 8 v 8 but the visiting coach wasn’t interested. Without protest or ill will, the home coach agreed to the early game end. The visiting team coach asked to take the awarded PK before ending the game, and again the home team coach agreed without contention. The referee accepted this course of action, and when the field was cleared, conducted the PK as if in extended time – just the kicker and ‘Keeper on field. The kick was good, the score was evened to 1-1 with that goal, and the game declared terminated. A report with all the information (SO, injury, and facts re: early termination) was provided to the game day administrator.
So, my question seems to be, that if the decision to terminate (or abandon) the game was arrived at between the coaches and the referee during the temporary suspension for the injury, should the PK then be taken, and if so, how? Or is there a more correct or preferred manner in which to handle this situation.
Answer (April 8, 2013):
Your reasoning on the crime and the correct punishment seems to be correct.
The final decision on the result of the game can be made only by the competition authority, the people who run the league. The result of a game can never be the referee’s decision; his/her job is only to ensure that the players are safe and the Laws of the Game are followed.
As a matter of practical refereeing, we would suggest two things in the future should you (or other referees in your area who might be aware of the situation) encounter something like this again.
First, you do not have authority to “clear the field” at the taking of a PK, even one in extended time. In fact, it is your duty to ensure that there is at least the minimum number of players from each team on the field because, without this number, a PK cannot be taken. Granted, all players except the kicker and the goalkeeper have nothing to do in a PK in extended time, but the principle remains that it is still part of the game and that in turn requires each team having at least the minimum number of players on the field.
Second (and somewhat related to the first point), neither by decision of the coach nor by your decision can a game be ended early. A termination requires “grave disorder” and/or danger to the players or officials. This didn’t happen. The only other Law-based early end is abandonment — which requires illegal and unsafe field conditions (also not present here) or failing to have the minimum number of players present and available for play. The competition authority is the only one which can settle the status of a terminated match, but the referee must have a recognizable reason for the early end itself, also known as CMA (that should not require expansion). The referee’s best course of action in this situation, following whatever discussion between the coaches they wish to have (and it sounded amicable enough), is to whistle for the players to take to the field to resume play. When one or both teams fail to field the minimum number, then the match is abandoned for having an insufficient (minimum) number of players. This process is designed to protect the referee from any “games” a coach might play (though that does not appear to be the case here) in which most of the players on one team leave in the belief that there had been an agreement to end the match early but the other team now suddenly declares that it is able and willing to play — as evidenced by having ITS players enter the field. Now, the referee has to report that the abandonment was due to one team (not both) failing to be ready to play.
March 31, 2013
Please, could you explain me why this decision was correct? And when the referee have to or haven’t to give a whistle signal to start free
Answer (March 31, 2013):
There is no need for the whistle on a free kick of this sort. You will find this information in the Laws of the Game, Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees. Also note that I have added emphasis (bolding) in several of the points made.
The Laws of the Game tell us:
Use of whistle
The whistle is needed to:
• start play (1st, 2nd half), after a goal
• stop play
- for a free kick or penalty kick
- if match is suspended or abandoned
- when a period of play has ended due to the expiration of time
• restart play at
- free kicks when the wall is ordered back the appropriate distance
- penalty kicks
• restart play after it has been stopped due to:
- the issue of a yellow or red card for misconduct
The whistle is NOT needed
• to stop play for:
- a goal kick, corner kick or throw-in
- a goal
• to restart play from
- a free kick, goal kick, corner kick, throw-in
March 18, 2013
To clarify for future reference can you assist?
A free kick is awarded, however prior to the free kick being taken the defending team have a player who has some dirt/mud in his eye. The player is on his knee whist the players request assistance from the trainer however the trainer does NOT enter the field of play, instead the defending teams goalkeeper assists in removing the mud/dirt and the defender is then able to continue playing, however the referee speaks to the player and insists that the defender leaves the field of play as he has received treatment is this correct?
I have seen players assisting others who have cramp etc and I have never seen the referee send them from the field of play.
Answer (March 10, 2013): BELATED POSTING
According to the Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees (in the back of the Law book), “a player is not allowed to receive treatment on the field of play.” However, “treatment” in this case means that someone has entered the field to administer to the wants and needs of the player. If someone is authorized to enter the field temporarily and quickly for these ministrations, then the player must leave when they are completed and may not return until the match has restarted and he has the referee’s permission to re-enter.
If, as in your situation, the referee has not stopped play for the problem (not exactly an injury) and has not beckoned any other person into the field to treat this problem, and no one is discommoded by the goalkeeper’s kind act, then the player does not have to leave the field. Unless (1) the treatment consumes an inordinate amount of time or (2) there is some local rule or rule of the competition that specifically prescribes an exit from the field, just as in cases of cramp treated by fellow players already on the field; the referee simply adds time lost.
Some referees remember only those parts of the Laws that they may require for their own convenience.
March 13, 2013
What is going on here? Why didn’t the referee caution Newcastle’s Steven Taylor for unsporting behavior in this incident?
Answer (March 13, 2013):
While the referee was taking an inordinate amount of time in dealing with the wall, Steven Taylor was playing mind games with the goalkeeper. If what Taylor did had occurred at the taking of a corner kick, it might have been actionable, and some referees would be within their rights to do something about it if they felt it to be actionable under those circumstances. But the normal and prescribed “action” at the corner kick is usually a clear warning to the player to stop what he was doing. In this case, the referee took no action at all, although he plainly noticed Taylor jumping around. (You can see this in the video.) He was too busy establishing the distance of the wall to be proactive for the ‘keeper.
Solution: Treat such matters the same way in all cases: proactively warn the player—in this case, Taylor—and then, if his behavior continues, let the kick occur, whistle (cancel any goal), caution for USB, and restart with an IFK for the defending team. That would certainly make the would-be scorer rather unhappy with the miscreant (Taylor here), even if the free kick had been so well-taken that the miscreant’s actions played no part in the goal.
Let me be up front about this. I like Steven Taylor; he is one of my favorite pranksters (remember the ball headed to the ‘keeper from last year). He knows what is legal and what is not, and he knows when to stop, even if the referee does or says nothing about his antics. In this situation any misconduct could not be punished (and thus the goal could not be disallowed), because Taylor stopped his antics and returned to an onside position several seconds before the whistle was given for the kick. And neither the referee nor the assistant referee took any action, making Taylor’s deed “legal” in this particular case. And, other than a few minor complaints, there has been no official reaction to the incident in England.
And if we wish to be fair, referees have to admit that goalkeepers have been doing much the same thing for years:
March 3, 2013
In futsal, can a goalie stand on the edge (but still inside) the box but then lean to cath the ball outside of the box? I know this is illegal in outdoor soccer but someone told me the rules were different in indoor.
Answer (March 3, 2013):
It’s the same answer as in outdoor soccer. All the referee cares about is where the ball is when the ‘keeper touches it. Where the ‘keeper’s body is doesn’t matter. So, if the whole of the ball is outside (not in contact with any part of the line defining the penalty area), then it is a DFK foul for handling of the ball. The only difference in futsal is that this violation is recorded as an accumulated foul against the goalkeeper’s team.
March 3, 2013
I am an assistant instructor. My question is about offsides on a dropped ball. In law 11 it specifically states that a player should not be ruled offside if he receives a ball directly from a goal kick, a corner kick, or a throw-in. It does not mention a drop ball. In table 8.6 (Common elements of the eight methods of restarting play as found in the current edition of “Advice to Referees” the question can player who receives ball directly be declared offside and the answer is no. Why is drop ball not mentioned in Law 11 as one of the ways that a player would not be judged offside if he receives the ball directly from the dropped ball? Does it have to do with technically neither team has possession during a dropped ball? Thank you in advance for your time and effort.
Answer (March 3, 2013):
The dropped ball was included in that array of non-offside situations in Law 11 at one time, but was dropped in 1990. The reason given st that time by the English FA in proposing the item to the International Football Association Board: “The proposed new text eliminates the phrase concerning the ball being dropped by the referee. Since the Law was reworded some years ago this phrase has not been appropriate, as a player may only be considered in the context of an off-side offence if the ball was touched or played by one of his team.”
March 3, 2013
NOTE: This is a two-part query, with the original response to the first question prompting the second question. Both are relevant to the question of 1 March 2013 on Impeding an Opponent.
On January 19th, 2013 you stated that under Law 12, “Holding an opponent includes the act of preventing him from moving past or around using the hands, the arms or the body,” and that referees should intervene in this early.
However, often when the ball is rolling out of play (particularly for a goal kick), a defending player will “shield” the ball out of play, not allowing the attacker to reach the ball, even though the defender has no intention of playing the ball. This sort of blocking off would normally considered a foul in general open play or on free kicks.
Why has this action become standard in this one situation? A referee cannot even call this a hold now because no else does and it shows a lack of consistency.
Answer (March 2, 2013):
You seem to be confusing “holding,” a foul which requires contact, with “impeding the progress of an opponent,” which involves ZERO contact initiated by the person doing the shielding. And impeding the progress of an opponent also requires not being with playing distance of the ball, which does not figure in holding.
Does that answer your question? If not, let me know and I will try to do better.
First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to respond and so quickly. I understand the difference between the two fouls now that you have explained it. However I do require a bit more clarification:
Often there is significant contact when the attacker is trying to get to the ball. Sometimes a “fight” for the ball commences. Again, the defender has no intention to play the ball (even though it is within a yard or two of them) and the ball is taking several seconds to roll out of play. Often defenders will not just shield the ball normally, but will make a sudden, aggressive lunge to step in front of the other player, with arms out wide, which initiates the contact.
At the pro level (or at the amateur level, when playing indoor for side kick-in’s) it happens every game, but at times it seems so aggressive that it could be a foul. When would it cross the line into being an “impeding progress” foul and why is it never called? Does being within “playing distance” of the ball entitle a player to these types of actions, even if they have no intention to ever play the ball? What is to prevent several players from surrounding a ball (all within playing distance) and not allowing the other team to get to it in order to run out the clock?
I have heard occasionally commentators talk about the need to crack down on it because the referee would not allow it elsewhere on the field. Is it a matter of culture influencing referees interpretation or is this action (however aggressive and no matter the place on the field) always allowed according to the Laws of the Game?
Follow-on Answer (March 2, 2013):
Do you really mean a “fight,” or simply two players (legally or illegally) using their bodies, including shoulders, to gain (or retain) possession of the ball? That is certainly legal, as long as there is no holding (using any body parts to restrict the movement of the opponent) or pushing (with hands or other body parts to move the opponent).
Here are some definitions that may be helpful to you:
It is legal to “charge” an opponent fairly: The act of charging an opponent can be performed without it being called as a foul. Although the fair charge is commonly defined as “shoulder to shoulder” and without the use of arms or elbows, this is not a requirement and, at certain age levels where heights may vary greatly, may not even be possible. Furthermore, under many circumstances, a charge may often result in the player against whom it is placed falling to the ground (a consequence, as before, of players differing in weight or strength). The Law does require that the charge be directed toward the area of the shoulder and not toward the center of the opponent’s back (the spinal area): in such a case, the referee should recognize that such a charge is at minimum reckless and potentially even violent.
Holding an opponent includes the act of stretching the arms out to prevent an opponent from moving past or around. A player who blatantly holds onto or pulls an opponent or an opponent’s clothing to play the ball, to gain possession of the ball, or to prevent an opponent from playing the ball could be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior. (Up until last year it was required for blatant acts of holding, but that changed in 2012.)
“Impeding the progress of an opponent” means moving on the field so as to obstruct, interfere with, or block the path of an opponent. Impeding can include crossing directly in front of the opponent or running between the opponent and the ball so as to form an obstacle with the aim of delaying progress. There will be many occasions during a game when a player will come between an opponent and the ball, but in the majority of such instances, this is quite natural and fair. It is often possible for a player not playing the ball to be in the path of an opponent and still not be guilty of impeding.
The offense of impeding an opponent requires that the ball not be within playing distance and that physical contact between the player and the opponent is normally absent. If physical contact occurs, the referee should, depending on the circumstances, consider instead the possibility that a charging infringement has been committed (direct free kick) or that the opponent has been fairly charged off the ball (indirect free kick). However, nonviolent physical contact may occur while impeding the progress of an opponent if, in the opinion of the referee, this contact was an unavoidable consequence of the impeding (due, for example, to momentum).
I have little time for indoor soccer and do not keep up with the rules, which vary from arena to arena (except in professional leagues). In the case of the “circle of friends,” the referee can always add time–at least in the outdoor game of soccer–or possibly consider the act to be one of time wasting, for which the players could be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. (That would be a bit extreme, but certainly useful in cases where the amount of time in a period of play in a tournament game is limited by the rules of the competition.) In all events, if this is done anywhere on the boundary lines of the field, the player who is contesting for the ball ia permited by the Law to pass over the touch line or the goal line to beat an opponent or a “ring of friends.”
Playing distance has nothing to do with playing the ball in any particular manner; it means simply that the player could play the ball immediately if he wished to do so.
In my opinion—and others are welcome to their own—most commentators, at least those on television and radio, have absolutely no clue of how the game should be called, even those former players who didn’t know the rules when they played and know even less now.
March 1, 2013
This question relates to impeding an opponent. This little incident frequently occurs both in 1- a-side and 5-a-side in which i participate, and i can’t help but wonder if it is the attacker at fault rather than the defender in this case.
What happens is, an attacker will make a forward dribble and approaches a defender who hopes to stop him passing. As they reach near-touching distance, and the defender is ready to make the tackle, the attacker will pass either left or right to a team mate and then quickly dash forward in a straight line, to receive a one-two exchange. However, he occasionally plows through the defender as if he did not see him standing there. This can sometimes result in injury for the defender who was not aware of this forward dash, and there are usually pleas for obstruction against him. Has the attacker drawn this foul, knowing that there is a body in the way that is unlikely to react at such short notice? Or must the defender attempt to quickly move and allow him to pass?
Note: This question was asked by a player, not a referee. After a first response to him, he added: “Many times i have been rushed by an attacker in this way. Recently i was knocked over badly, was dazed and came to find that he had been awarded a free kick. I have felt that not bracing myself for the collision could cause me injury, but still when the forward hits into me, he calls obstruction even though i have not moved from the spot. I will make sure to argue my case when the incident re-occurs.” [The answer that follows covers both questions.]
Answer (March 1, 2013):
What you describe is not impeding the progress of an opponent or obstruction, it is standing in territory that belongs to the player, in this case the defender. Every player is entitled to the spot of ground he or she is currently occupying. The forward has charged illegally and must be punished with at least a direct free kick. If he has knocked the defender over, then it’s likely also a caution (unsporting behavior) for reckless play. If he knocks him ass over elbows, it’s likely a send-off for using excessive force.
In brief, the defender who stands his ground does not have to move. However, this caveat applies: It is illegal for the defender to MOVE from one spot into another simply to stop the oncoming forward. If the attacking player moves into the defender and the defender has NOT moved, then and only then does the defender have the Law on his or her side — although many referees are too thick to remember it. If the referee is a right (you pick the word; my favorite would be ‘dunderhead’), the defender should be careful about protesting too loudly, as he is very likely to be cautioned.