Blog Archives

Unusual Situations

Assistant referee during the match FC Barcelon...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the past nine days, I have encountered a number of situations that I have not seen often (two were in fact firsts for me). I share these so you might recognize a similar situation and be better prepared. Read the rest of this entry


Managing Goalkeeper Substitutions

Sooner or later, we are going to look up in a game and realize that there is another player in the goalkeeper position than when we started the match. What do we do? It helps to know the relevant Law and Advice.

English: Diving save

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LAW 3:

Changing the goalkeeper: Any of the other players may change places with the goalkeeper, provided that

  • the referee is notified before the change is made
  • the change is made during a stoppage in the match

If a player changes places with a goalkeeper without the referee’s permission before the change is made:

  • the referee allows play to continue
  • the referee cautions the players concerned when the ball is next out of play

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Goal Keeper Handling and Misconduct

Simon Mignolet

Simon Mignolet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the 79th minute of the April 20 Sunderland-Everton match, Sunderland’s Larsson possessed a ball near mid-field and sent a strike on his own net. Sunderland keeper Mignolet had to leap to catch the ball and keep it from entering for an own goal. So what did Referee Phil Dowd have? Was this a “back pass” violation?

The “back pass” violation, like “hand ball”, is shorthand for the uninitiated. We referees recognize that there is no Law prohibiting a pass back to the keeper. There is not even a Law that prohibits the keeper from picking up a pass from a teammate – unless the pass was kicked deliberately by the foot of the teammate (we note also that the GK cannot pick up a throw-in from a teammate).A GK may handle a ball that is played (without trickery) by the head, chest, thigh, knee or shin of a teammate – in fact any legal touch by a teammate on a ball in play except a touch by the foot.

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Four Minutes – Three Fouls – Two Cautions – One Objective

English: David Silva playing for Manchester City

English: David Silva playing for Manchester City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was an interesting sequence of events in the first half of Manchester City’s 4 – 0 win over Newcastle in the EPL Saturday. Background: Manchester City and Newcastle are at opposite ends of the table, and Man City still has an outside chance at the Premier League title. Newcastle is struggling and does not have the talent possessed by Man City. In the 16th minute there was a clumsy challenge by Newcastle’s Cisse on Man City’s Lescott resulting in a free kick.

The sequence: in the 26th minute, Newcastle’s Sissoku slides into a 50-50 ball near the half line as Man City’s Zabaleta is approaching the ball from Zabaleta’s right. Sissoku arrives just after Zambaleta clears the ball, and fouls him. The tackle looked bad in slow motion, as Sissoku slid studs-first into Zambaleta’s ankle. Man City players and bench personnel complained about the tackle. Referee Neil Swarbrick was in a good position to see the play. He made it clear to everyone that he saw the play and that it was a fifty-fifty challenge. He then had a very strong word to Sissoku to take it down a notch.

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The Language of the Laws

Referee & Madlung

Referee & Madlung (Photo credit: Kate_Lokteva)

Over the first few weeks of the season I have had the opportunity to observe or work with several dozen referees. Each had strengths as well as areas for additional development, as we all do. One of the more common areas for improvement is verbal communications. This is also one of the easiest areas to improve – but it takes a little effort!

As referees, we can be our own worst enemies by the words we choose to communicate. For example, after a coach complains that his player was pushed, having been illegally charged from behind, we should not say “It wasn’t a foul because the player did not use her hands.” If you did not see the charge to the back, simply say that, but advise the coach you will watch for it (and watch for it!).

Above is an obvious example of digging yourself a hole. There are other situations, however, that can best be avoided by using the “Language of the Laws”. Examples:

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IFAB Decision on Head Scarves

From US Soccer:


The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has completed its evaluation of how to implement its decision to allow headscarves to be worn under certain conditions.

As this is a temporary measure and subject to change based on reported experiences, it is not at this time being made part of the Laws of the Game, but FIFA has issued a directive with the following guidelines which are in effect immediately.

Law 4 – The Players’ Equipment

The headscarf must

  • be of the same color as the jersey
  • be in keeping with the professional appearance of the player’s equipment
  • not be attached to the jersey
  • not pose any danger to the player wearing it or any other player (e.g., opening/closing mechanism around neck)
  • only be worn by female players

U.S. Soccer’s Advice to Referees

  • The phrase “same color as the jersey” can be expanded to mean the same main color as the jersey
  • The inspection for safety of any headscarf should be focused on the objective of allowing the scarf to be worn unless it is clearly unsafe and cannot be made safe
  • This language confirms that male players cannot wear headscarves under any circumstances

Arsenal-Tottenham 17 November with Howard Webb

If we have aspirations of pursuing a referee career and upgrading to Grade 7 and beyond, the first half of today’s Gunners-Hot Spurs match offers some interesting development points. While Howard Webb is not everyone’s favorite referee, he was faced with several critical match incidents. If you have a chance to catch a replay, or recorded it, you may find it instructional.

In the 17th minute, Adebayor left his feet and made contact with his studs using excessive force in a tackle attempt. Referee Webb issued a red card. He did not fall into the trap of thinking that you shouldn’t dismiss a player early in the match. The referee did not create the man-down situation, the player did.

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