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Ask A Ref

The initial questions are from the Minnesota SRC Newsletter.  If you have any questions about a game  you refereed, watched or played in, please e-mail Mike.

The below responses are not USSF approved responses.  However, they are from expereinced referees and it is OK to apply these in your games. 

A player showed up to my game with recently pierced ears and earrings in. Can he/she put tape over them?
My goodness, absolutely not. Folks, this shouldn't even be a question at this point! Every online presentation for the past three years has emphasized NO JEWELRY WHATSOEVER. This is a safety issue. Earrings are not allowed, they may not be taped. A ball can still hit a taped earring and cause tearing of the ear lobe. Allowing jewelry creates problems for the people who care about enforcing the rule. Either no jewelry or no play... PERIOD!

Look, we know parents and coaches can be a pain to you on the field about this. You don't want to start the game on the wrong foot. So do yourself a favor... kick this problem up the ladder. Tell the player they cannot play with the jewelry in, and then tell them to contact your assignor, or refer them to the SRC website to contact an SRC member for clarification. We guarantee that any of these people will back you up and tell the parent or coach that you did the right thing.

On the flip side, if that player suffers an injury and decides they want to pursue legal action because you didn't follow the rules, keep in mind that we trained you what you were SUPPOSED to do in this situation. Don't expect your league to stand behind you if you don't enforce the rules the way they ask you to enforce them! 

A player is hurt and her dad wants to come on to the field to check on her. Is this OK?
No. Only team officials are permitted to enter the field to attend to injured players, and then only at the referee's permission. Use common sense here... don't initiate a confrontation with the parent directly. It's the coach's job to manage his/her fans, so ask the coach to remind his/her parents to not enter the field. No direct confrontations with spectators, please.

At the end of my game, a parent came out on the field and yelled at me. What should I do?
First off, that parent is violating sportsmanship clauses in MYSA's rules manual. Never ever tolerate this... if at any point in one of your games a parent is on the field and dissenting (including after the conclusion of the match), PLEASE make sure you include info on the back of the match report to send to MYSA, report the incidnt on the State Referee website AND call Mike (612-709-0137). 

Having said all of that, remember to get off the field after a game as quickly as possible. If a parent confronts you, seek out the parent's coach and ask him to control his/her spectators... the coach is still responsible for spectator behavior, even after the match.  Do not confront the spectator yourself, under any circumstances.  Your authority as a referee does not extend to spectators aside from asking the coach to order them to leave, and after the game, that's not much of a tool, seeing as everybody is leaving anyway.  Ask the coach to control his/her fans, get out of there, and notify the SRA and your assignor.  The spectator is mad at you, and there's a 99% chance that anything you say that you think will help the situation will probably only make it worse.

The Laws say that the jerseys must have sleeves. Can players tie their sleeves up?
Jim Allen's Ask a Referee in 2008 answered this question. While the Laws do state that jerseys must have sleeves, Jim instructed referees to allow the players to play and then include the issue in the match report.

MYSA and US Soccer have withdrawn from this issue. As long as the jerseys are safe (meaning whatever is holding the sleeves up is not metal or plastic), rolled-up sleeves are a non-issue. We tend to make enough decisions on the field to upset the players, coaches, and fans... we don't need to be trying to pick fights over whether the sleeves are rolled up. Refer it to the league, and if the league thinks it's a big deal, they'll deal with it.

The red team is attacking, the blue team is defending. A red player gets past most of the blue defenders, including the goal keeper, and takes a shot on goal. A blue defender, standing just in front of the goal line, extend his hand in an obvious attempt to deny a goal by handling. The ball strikes the hand and falls to the ground... but because there is enough momentum, the ball rolls into the goal. If the goal is awarded, should the player who tried to stop the ball with his hand still be sent-off for DOGSO?
If the referee plays advantage and awards the goal, the defender who committed the handling offense cannot be sent off for Denying a Goal Scoring Opportunity by Handling. The goal was not denied, so it would be incorrect to issue a red card for this offense.

However, per 12.39 in US Soccer's Advice to Referees and pg. 124 of FIFA's Laws of the Game, the defender who attempted to deny the goal through handling may still be cautioned for unsporting behavior.

I was AR in a game where a player trapped the ball with her thigh back to the goalkeeper, who then picked it up with her hands. The referee called an indirect free kick.  I thought the ball had to be kicked with the foot for this to be called?
You're right.  The "backpass" rule only applies when the ball is kicked with the foot back to the goalkeeper.  If the ball is headed, chest trapped, or pushed with a part of the leg other than the foot back to the goalkeeper and the goalkeeper then handles the ball in his/her own penalty area, this is NOT an infraction.

Keep in mind that players may not deliberately circumvent this rule.  In other words, a player may not purposely lift the ball up to the head with the foot, then head it back to the goalkeeper and susbequently claim an indirect free kick cannot be called because it was not kicked.  But be sure that the entire sequence is deliberate... don't play "gotcha."

Are sequined headbands allowed?
Absolutely not.  Only sweatbands are allowed.  Sequins provide no ability to soak up perspiration... they are for decoration only.  All decorative items are considered jewelry and are not permitted under any circumstances.

Does the referee have to blow the whistle to restart play after a substitution?
YES! USSF's Advice to Referees says so in both section 3.4 and 5.4. The referee cannot allow play to restart until the substitution has been properly completed.  The defense is entitled to know when the restart can proceed, and simply saying "Go ahead," does not mean every defender will be ready.  You don't want the goalkeeper angry at you when an attacker chips the ball in from 40 yards off a throw-in while the goalkeeper was outside the goal grabbing a drink.  Use your whistle!

If a player was sent-off from his/her last MYSA game, is he/she permitted to be in the technical area at the next game as a non-rostered team official?
Yes, this is permitted, but they must behave responsibly, just like all other team officials in the technical area and they should not wear their uniform.

Does the ball have to leave the penalty area from a free kick by the defending team if the free kick location is within the defending team's penalty area?
Yes, any free kick (or a goal kick) taken from within a team's own penalty area is not in play until the ball leaves the penalty area.  If it fails to leave the penalty area or is touched by any player before leaving the penalty area, the free kick (or goal kick) must be retaken.

I saw a referee hugging one of the winning teams' players after the game.  He must have knew her.  Is this OK?
There is no rule against being friendly with the teams, but keep in mind what this looks like to the other team.  You just had a hard fought game, maybe you lost, and now you see the game official being overly friendly with the other team.  This is not going to do well for your reputation.  When you are a referee, you must remain neutral, and this includes avoiding any behaviors that might be interpreted otherwise.