Player Deliberately Leaves Field

Question: A defender attempted to play a forward offside by deliberately stepping off the field of play (into his own goal). The referee & assistant referee, realising what he was up to, allowed play to continue, the forward then shoots at goal, beating the goal keeper heading straight into the goal. The defender now runs back on field, clearing the ball. What punishment if any, and if so how would you restart play?

Answer: The defender must be cautioned for unsporting behavior forleaving the field in his attempt to put the opponent in an offside position, but in this case the referee should allow play to continue and reserve the caution for the next stoppage. As soon as the defender returns to the field and plays the ball, play must be stopped and the caution and yellow card must then be administered. Restart with an indirect free kick on the spot on the goal area line (parallel to the goal line) nearest to the place where the defender played the ball upon returning to the field.

Referee Uniform

Question: I recently had a knee injury, and currently wear a rubberized knee brace for support and prevention. The brace is black, soft, with velcro closure. What are the rules regarding referees wearing such devices?

Answer: Knee braces are not part of the authorized referee uniform. Under normal circumstances, it is not acceptable for a game official to wear a knee brace, and it would never be seen on a high-level regional, national or international competition. However, there may be rare circumstances in local competitions where knee protection might sensibly be tolerated for the good of the game.

Purpose of the Goal Area

Question: The significance of the Penalty Area with respect to the goalkeeper, direct free kick fouls, and ball-in-play is generally well understood. However, the significance of the Goal Area is less well understood. Would you please explain the special significance of the Goal Area and how that may affect play?

Answer: The goal area is used to define the location for the taking of goal kicks. It also serves as a location for restarts for free kicks awarded to the defending team inside its own goal area, which may be taken from any point in the goal area. The line parallel to the goal line and defining the goal area (the “six-yard line”) is used as the location for indirect free kicks to the attacking team for infringements occurring inside the goal area or for dropped balls for stoppages inside the goal area after temporary stoppages. In both the latter cases the restart is taken from the point on the line nearest to where the ball was located when play was stopped.

Prior to the Law changes of 1997, the goal area was also used to define a region in which the goalkeeper could be charged fairly while holding the ball, but now referees must observe carefully any charge against the goalkeeper, regardless of the circumstances, location of the action, or presence of the ball, and penalize the action only if it is committed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force (direct free kick) or is performed in a dangerous manner (indirect free kick).

Signalling for the indirect free kick

Question: I know the referee must give the indirect free kick signal and keep his or her arm up until the ball has either been touched or played by a second player or has gone out of play, but I feel awkward running with my arm and hand extended into the air. What should I do?

Answer: The practical solution when you have to run to a new position before the indirect free kick is taken is to indicate the direction of the kick, raise your arm straight up to indicate the indirect free kick, drop your arm and then run to the new position. After arriving at the new position, then raise your arm again to show it is an indirect free kick. If the ball is kicked away from either goal, you may drop your arm entirely, as there is no way in which the ball can enter the goal without another player either touching or playing it.

Angle of arm on free kicks and throw-ins

Question: What is the proper procedure according to FIFA for indicating direction of a “direct kick” and a “throw-in”: Is it more proper to hold your hand at a horizontal angle or at a 45-degree angle?

Answer: Free Kick: FIFA asks the referee to hold his/her arm at 45 degrees above the horizontal and in the direction of the kick when indicating a free kick. This is done for both direct and indirect free kicks. For an indirect free kick, the referee then moves to his/her position for the kick and raises his/her arm straight up to indicate that the kick is indirect, rather than direct, lowering the arm only when a second player has touched or played the ball or the ball has gone out of play.
Throw-in: There is no prescribed FIFA signal for the referee to use in indicating direction of a throw-in. The usual practice is to signal at approximately 45 degrees in the direction of the throw, but no particular angle is required.

Clarification of AR positioning on a goal kick

Question: Please clarify Section 3.E of the USSF Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials (1998). I do not understand what the term “when needed” means. Also, what does the assistant referee (AR) do if a player other than the goalkeeper takes the goal kick?

Answer: The Guide to Procedures clearly notes that the first responsibility of the AR after the referee has indicated a goal kick is to move to the top of the goal area “to check for proper placement” of the ball. Then, if the goalkeeper is taking the goal kick, the AR “moves to a position to judge offside.” Bullet item 4 states that the AR should move to the top of the penalty area, when needed, to verify that the ball has been properly put into play with no failure to respect the required distance by the attackers. The phrase “when needed” is intended to identify those situations in which there are one or more attackers at or near the top of the penalty area who might enter into this area prior to the ball going into play.

If a player other than the goalkeeper takes the goal kick, the AR’s actions are different. First, if as above there are one or more opponents at the top of the penalty area, the AR’s position should be even with them in order to judge the ball properly being put into play with no failure to respect the required distance by an attacker.

Second, if a player other than the goalkeeper is taking the goal kick and a teammate is positioned closer than 18 yards from the goal line (i.e., closer than the top of the penalty area), usually to receive the goal kick, the correct position for the AR is to be even with this teammate. The purpose of this position is to judge that the ball was permitted to leave the penalty area before being played by the teammate. Once this is determined, of course, the AR is expected to quickly take the normal position with the second-to-last defender or the ball for judging offside.

Return of a player after injury

Question: A player leaves the field of play with an injury. May the assistant referee allow this player to return to the field?

Answer: Only the referee may permit the return to the field of play of a player who was instructed to leave the field for treatment of an injury. This is not a substitution. The player who left the field for treatment of an injury may return during play with the permission of the referee, but only from the touchline. If the ball is out of play, the player may return with the permission of the referee across any boundary line.

Goalkeeper changing places with a field player

Question: Is it permissible under the Laws of the Game for the goalkeeper and a field player to change places? If so, what are the requirements?

Answer: There is nothing wrong with the goalkeeper changing places with a field player as long as it is done in accordance with the requirements of Law 3, which are:

(a) The referee is informed before the change is made.

(b) The change is made during a stoppage in the match.

Delay or time wasting during the exchange process are not acceptable. The game will not be held up to allow for a complete change of equipment by either player. The former goalkeeper must leave the field to correct his equipment. The equipment may not be done on the field. The change of positions is complete at the moment the new goalkeeper is given a goalkeeper shirt or jersey — which should be ready for him when the exchange is requested. If the former goalkeeper, who is now a field player, is not ready to play in the basic compulsory equipment (same color jersey or shirt, socks, and shorts; shinguards and footwear) as the other field players on his team, he may not re-enter the field to play until his equipment and uniform conform with Law 4. During that interim period, his team must play short, just as when a player leaves the field for treatment of bleeding. When the player is ready to re-enter the game, the referee will beckon the player on at the next stoppage of play and check the former goalkeeper’s uniform and equipment. If satisfied with the player’s condition, the referee may permit him to play.

Responsibilities of the Referee

Question: What are some of the responsibilities of the referee?

Answer: Among the responsibilities which all referees must perform are:

  1. Pre-game duties, including acknowledgment of game assignment, field inspection, etc.;
  2. Mental and physical preparation to carry out all duties during the match;
  3. Following the match, accurate preparation and timely submission of completed reports to appropriate authorities.

While the execution of the first two of these requirements is usually acceptable, experience has shown that many referees are deficient in the performance of the last of them. It cannot be over-emphasized that the official’s obligations are not fulfilled until the proper paperwork is completed and submitted to the appropriate authorities.

Clear, legibly written (preferably printed), grammatically correct reports written on authorized forms and submitted in a timely manner to the proper authorities are the basic requirements. Relevant training has been provided. Correct forms are available from the State Referee Administrators. There are adequate explanatory materials and personnel available to answer questions. Despite all of this, game and supplementary reports are seriously deficient, both in presentation of what is included as well as significant data that are being omitted. Specific areas needing attention follow:

  1. Cautionable and Sending-Off Offenses must be recorded under only one of the categories as defined in Law 12 and listed in the “7+7″ Memorandum previously distributed (and presently posted on the Federation website Referee Page).
  2. A player who receives a second caution in the same match will be recorded separately for both misconduct offenses in the “Cautions” section, as well as in the “Send-Offs/Dismissals” section.
  3. Names and numbers of disciplined players must coincide with data on the team’s official roster.
  4. A Supplemental Report for each separate unusual incident or Send-Off offense must be submitted.

Respect hard won on the field is done a disservice when the referee does not complete the administrative responsibilities correctly. Your attention to detail is demanded.

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