Ask the Ref
This feature was created to help coaches, referees, players, parents and spectators get answers to questions about refereeing from the Region 13 Referee Staff.
Use the text box below to submit your question(s) about calls made, or not made, during a recent game. In addition, your questions may be about Region 13 policies, such as whether or not slide tackles are allowed (Yes, they are, provided they are done correctly), or about how many quarters a player may play in goal in a U10 game. While all questions and answers will be treated confidentially, those of general interest will be posted below for others to benefit from, without the names of those who submitted the questions.
Please ask your question below.
Q: Is there some place I can go to read the a refresher on how to complete the game card?
A: There is! On the Region 13 website, on the "Become a Referee" tab, is a list of referee resources. https://ayso13.org/become-a-referee/ A handout on game cards is the last item under "Helpful Links--Region 13." The handout shows what the game card should look like when the coach hands it to you and what it should look like before you turn it in. Answered 9.17.21
Q: Regarding goal kicks, when may the attackers cross the buildout line? After the ball leaves the penalty box? Or after the first touch by defender?
A: For goal kicks, there was a revision to the build-out line rule for 2018. On a goal kick, the opponents may cross back from the build-out line when the ball is in play. With the 2019 law changes, this means as soon as the ball is kicked and clearly moves. (For goal keeper possession, the opponents may come back from the build out line as soon as the goal keeper releases the ball from her hands. An excellent video on the AYSO build-out line, including the 2018 revisions can be found on the Section 1 website at:https://ayso1ref.com/mp4/BOL-2019-v31.mp4 Answered 9.17.18 Revised 9.6.19
Q: I understand that the best way to detect offside offenses is to keep track of a snapshot that's taken every time a teammate touches the ball. My question is: when do you throw out the snapshot? Law 11 does not explicitly discuss the snapshot, but I see that the snapshot approach is compatible with the law.
A: It is true that a "snapshot" is not in Law 11 expressly, but is the concept in the Law. This is the language in Law 11 that suggest the snapshot as a way to think of tracking offside: "A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is played or touched by a team-mate is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by . . ." There are three ways that we get rid of a snapshot:
- If a teammate touches or plays the ball, we throw out the old snapshot and replace it with a new one.
- If play is stopped (the ball leaves the field or the referee stops play for a foul or any other reason), we throw out the snap shot--there will not be a new snapshot until a player on that team touches the ball again.
- If an opponent deliberately plays the ball, then the offside snap shot is thrown out and not replaced.
Q: Regarding 10U Boys: an attacker kicks the ball toward the goal, the goalie attempts to pick up the ball but fails to gain possession. May the attacker continue play and kick the ball while the goalie is attempting to gain possession (pick up the ball)?
A: An opponent may not kick or attempt to kick the ball when the goalkeeper has possession. Possession includes the goalkeeper having a hand (or body) on the ball pinning the ball to the ground. But if the goalkeeper fumbles the ball so that the ball is loose, opponents are free to challenge for the ball as long as they do so with appropriate care. If an opponent trying to get the ball kicks the goalkeeper, that is a kicking foul. But if the attacker can kick the ball without kicking the goalkeeper and without pushing the goalkeeper off the ball, that is not a foul. There is no special rule at 10U—this is simply application of Law 12. At 10U, referees should err on the side of protecting the goalkeeper—but that does not mean a referee should call a foul on an opponent who is fairly and safely challenging for the ball. answered 9/29/18
Q: Regarding 10U, is tackling allowed? If not, what is the penalty for tackling?
A: In soccer, the Laws of the Game define a tackle as "A challenge for the ball with the foot (on the ground or in the air)." (Page 175.) So the simple answer would be that, yes, of course, tackling is allowed. But I don't think that would really answer your question. Law 12 tells us that one of the direct free kick fouls is tackling when it is careless, reckless, or with excessive force. (Page 101.) Put another way, a challenge for the ball with the foot must be done with care so that it is not dangerous to the opponent. That generally means there should not be significant contact with the opponent who had the ball, and that any contact should come only after the contact on the ball. If the tackle is simply the defender stopping the ball with his foot, and the opponent then trips over the ball, that is not a foul. If what you really meant was are slide tackles allowed in 10U games, the answer is that they are only permitted if done with adequate care. But most 10U players lack the skill to execute a fair slide tackle, so attempts at slide tackles at that age are very likely to be careless tackles, which means it is a direct free kick foul. Keep in mind the referee mantra: Safe, Fair & Fun. And if what you meant was an American-football type tackle, of course that would be a foul. And whether the referee sees it as a holding foul, charging foul, or pushing foul, it doesn't really matter--any of those would be direct free kick fouls.
Q: At what age should AYSO referees begin using yellow and red cards?
A: Yellow and red cards are a communication too used by referees to indicate that a player has been formally cautioned or has been sent off for misconduct. (They were first imagined in 1966 by Ken Aston (who later became a great friend of AYSO) to overcome language barriers in international matches.) As a matter of philosophy, AYSO avoids them at younger ages, not because misconduct is acceptable, but to avoid the public nature of showing the card. That means that referees can still caution or send off players for misconduct, but they would do so by the less public process of speaking to the player and the coach. (Any such cautions or send offs should be noted on the game card.) Fortunately, in the younger ages misconduct is unusual, so the issue rarely arises. As a general matter in AYSO, the cards are not used as a communication tool until 12U. (At 12U and even 14U, referees are encouraged to be kind and low key when using the cards, and to explain what is happening to the player and why the player is being sent off.) In the unlikely event a younger player is sent off for misconduct during a game, in addition to noting it on the game card, referees should promptly contact the Division Referee Administrator.
Q: Another team's goalkeeper controlled the ball with hands in her own penalty area for more than six seconds on multiple occasions which would normally result in an indirect free kick offense. Unlike other calls where perception and judgement is involved, counting 6 seconds requires less judgement.
While the 6 second rule sounds like it is a simple black and white rule, that is not how the Game applies the rule. The rule is intended as one of judgment--and it carries a very harsh penalty, as it creates a significant scoring opportunity for the opponent. Accordingly, referees are not trained to count off the seconds the way a basketball referee would and catch the goalkeeper with the ball. (Indeed, watch a professional match and goalkeepers routinely hold the ball for more than 6 seconds. Yet I only know of only one example of the rule being infraction being called in a professional game--in the women's world cup between the US and Canada, which created a bit of a fire storm even though the goalkeeper had been consistently holding the ball for more than 10 seconds.) The rule (which replaced a "four step" rule for goalkeepers) is simply intended to be applied with judgment so that game moves forward without excessive delays. So despite the way the the rule is written, it is ultimately a rule for referee judgment. When in the opinion of the referee it is necessary, referees should encourage goal keepers to release the ball more quickly. Only when a goalkeeper continues to delay after being warned should a referee consider calling the infraction. (As an aside, it often seems the goalkeeper has the ball longer than she does as nothing is happening. And even from a technical perspective, the 6 seconds does not start until the goalkeeper has clear possession and, if necessary, time to get to her feet.) Note for 10U: the 6 seconds would not start until all opponents have retreated beyond the build out line.
Q: There was one goal which we thought was scored. The ball was blocked by the goalkeeper, but while in the goalkeeper's possession, went across the goal line into the goal. It was not recognized as a goal by the AR. My question is: If the ball is touching and on the goal line (ie not completely over it) could that be a reason the goal was not recognized by the AR?
A: Exactly! For a goal to score (and indeed any time the ball leaves play) the whole ball must cross over the whole line. That is true whether the ball is in the air or on the ground--the line shoots straight up. On close plays, one has to be very close to the goal line to know for sure whether the whole ball crossed the whole line, or whether than last smidgen of the ball is hanging over a smidgen of the line. Assistant Referees should be trying very hard to be standing on the goal line when these events arise so they can make the close call. One trick that Assistant Referees use is to see the goal posts, which should have their back edges on the back portion of the goal line. If the Assistant Referee is on the goal line so that the goal posts line up, she can tell if the whole ball crossed the whole line by seeing if the ball passes the post.
Q: When a goal keeper catches ball along the penalty side line and steps across it with ball in hands what is the penalty?
A: Short answer: Direct free kick. A bit more information: When the goalkeeper is outside of the penalty area, the goalkeeper has no special rights or privileges. Since deliberate handling is one of the direct fee kick offenses in Law 12, that means that if the goalkeeper deliberately handles the ball outside the penalty area, the offense results in a direct free kick. Outside of the penalty area refers to the position of the ball. If any part of the ball is on or above even a smidgen of the line, the goalkeeper is still able to touch any part of the ball. On punts, referees need to keep in mind a couple of things. What matters is where the ball is when the goalkeeper lets go of the ball -- not where the ball is when it is kicked. Many goalkeepers will release the ball inside the penalty area, but kick the ball well outside, which is perfectly legal. If referees or assistant referees suspect minor violations on punts, it is advisable to warn the goal keeper before calling the infraction. (Many wise coaches teach goalkeepers not to get right on the line to avoid an inadvertent violation.) 5.29.17
Q: After a stoppage of play due to injury, what are the restart protocols?
A: Short Answer: Either the restart that was already supposed to take place or a dropped ball. A bit more information: If the game is already stopped when the referee becomes aware of an injury, such as if the referee had called a foul or the ball had left the field of play, the injury does not change the restart: it remains a free kick, throw in, goal kick, or corner kick. If the referee needs to stop the game because of the injury, then the referee will restart play with a dropped ball at the location of the ball when play was stopped (but not within the goal area). If one team had clear possession of the ball when play stopped, the referee may encourage a "fair play" restart by either dropping the ball to a player on the team that had the ball or asking the opposing team if they will pass it back to the team that had it or kick the ball over the touchline so that team can have a throw in. The referee should always blow the whistle before play starts after an injury to make sure that all players are aware the game is about to restart. (Note that if the refere stopped play just for the injury or if the coach is called onto the field, the player must leave the game, at least momentarily. If the coach does not elect to put in a substitute, the player must receive the referee's permission to come back onto the field -- but the referee may give that permission by waving the player back onto the field immediately after play has restarted.) Answered 10.1.2015
Q: What can we do to make sure that coaches and parents leave enough space between the sidelines and their chairs so the assistant referee can move along. Sometimes the chairs are placed too close to the lines.
- Short Answer
Q: What's the rule if the goalie has his hand on the ball but doesn't really have full control? May a player kick it out of his hand and then score? The head ref waved off the goal, and the lines person overruled after consultation. So this may be a two part question: 1) the rule re the hand; 2) the lines person overruling.
A Bit More Explanation:
Q: An attacking player is in an offside position but returns to an onside position before the ball is directed to him or to another teammate. Is it OK for him to participate in the play?
- Short Answer
- A bit more explanation
Q: Are goalkeepers allowed to bounce the ball like a basketball before they kick it?
A bit more explanation:
The official Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees (second part of the Laws booklet) provides in its discussion of Law 12 that a goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball "while in the act of bouncing it on the ground or tossing in into the air." That means that when the goalkeeper bounces the ball, an opponent is not permitted to try to kick the ball away.
While a goalkeeper is permitted to bounce the ball, it may not be a good idea. If, for example, the ball hits an odd clump of grass and bounces away, an opponent is free to challenge for the ball. And since the goalkeeper released the ball, the goalkeeper would not be permitted to use her hands to get the ball back unless the attacker touched the ball first. (If she used her hands it would be an indirect free kick for the other team as she touched the ball with her hands after releasing the ball from her possession before it touched another player.) Of course, it is up to coaches, nor referees, to instruct their goalkeepers regarding bouncing the ball, as the bouncing is perfectly permissible under the Laws of the Game.
(Historical aside: Once upon a time, goalkeepers were limited to taking four steps rather than limited to six seconds with the ball. During part of the four-step era, a bounce counted as a single step even if the goalkeeper took several steps during the bounce. So, back then, bouncing the ball made sense, as it allowed the goalkeeper to move farther up the penalty area before punting.)
Q: This question relates to the notion of "protecting the keeper". The goal keeper makes an attempt to handle the ball inside his own penalty area. A charging opponent kicks the ball before the keeper has complete control of the ball. What is the appropriate call? Is this a foul? If so, what is the appropriate restart? Is this "playing in a dangerous manner" restarted by an indirect free kick or is it a direct free kick for an offense against the keeper. Thank you.
A: Short Answer:
If, in the opinion of the referee, a goal keeper has possession of the ball (which includes a single finger on a stopped ball), and it is kicked by an opponent, the offense by the opponent is kicking and a direct free kick should be awarded to the goalkeeper’s team.
A Bit More Explanation:
In order to protect goalkeepers, the Laws of the Game create a very broad definition of possession by the goalkeeper. USSF’s Advice to Referees (section 12.B.4) makes clear that goalkeeper possession includes a ball trapped or pinned by the goalkeeper against the ground, a body, part, or even the goal post. The Advice to Referees goes on to note that in deciding if the goalkeeper has possession, the referee should consider the age of the players and err on the side of safety. In other words, in a U10 or U12 game, all doubt in the referee’s mind about whether the goalkeeper has possession should be resolved in favor of the goalkeeper and a decision that he has possession. Once in the opinion of the referee the goalkeeper has possession of the ball, an opponent who kicks the ball (or the goalkeeper) has committed a kicking foul against the goalkeeper, and a direct free kick should be awarded to the goalkeeper’s team.
When, in the opinion of the referee, the goalkeeper does not yet have possession, an opponent is free to try to kick the ball – as long as it is not done in a dangerous way that makes it unfair for the goalkeeper who is trying to grab the ball. In deciding if the play by the attacker is dangerous rather than fair, the referee should consider where the foot is in relationship to the ball, whether the attacker has a reasonable chance to play the ball, and where the foot is in relationship to the goalkeeper’s face. If, in the opinion or the referee, the attacker’s behavior is unfairly dangerous to the goalkeeper, the referee may call the indirect free kick foul of playing in a dangerous manner, and award an indirect free kick to the goalkeeper’s team. Again, the younger the age group, the further the referee should go in erring on the side of protecting the goalkeeper.
There will also be occasions on which the ball is simply loose and two players – the goalkeeper and the attacker – are each trying to get the ball. By tradition, when a goalkeeper is trying to play the ball with his hands, we do not tend to consider that action to be the offense of playing in a dangerous manner to himself, as we have permitted goalkeepers to take a certain amount of risk as part of the game. But referees should be aware that sometimes goalkeepers go too far in their pursuit of the ball, and may be guilty of fouls for pushing, charging or tripping in their effort to get the ball, each of which would result in a penalty kick if occurring within the penalty area. Similarly, referees should observe whether the charging attacker unfairly charged or pushed the goalkeeper who was scrambling for the ball or kicked the goalkeeper while trying to kick the ball.
To loop back to the original question, if in the opinion of the referee what happened is the goalkeeper knocked the ball down such that it bounced in front of him, and the attacker kicked the loose ball before the goalkeeper could get a hand on it, unless the attacker did so in an unfairly dangerous manner or ran into the goalkeeper to do so, there would not be a foul. If, on the other hand in the opinion of the referee, what happened is the goalkeeper pinned the ball to the ground, but had not yet pulled the ball into his body, and the attacker kicked it away, the attacker would have committed a kicking foul and a direct free kick would be awarded to the goalkeeper’s team.