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REFEREE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

When is an AYSO Referee in proper uniform?

The Referee team (Referee, 2 Assistant Referees) should have same color shirt with an AYSO badge, black referee shorts, black referee socks pulled up, and black shoes. Hats can be worn but should be all black with no logos. 

What is a Center Referee?

There really is no such thing as a Center Referee. It's a layman's term for the Referee on the field. In AYSO (based on FIFA Law), you are either a Referee (on the field), or an Assistant Referee (off the field, running half the touchline, or in the case of the 10U Division, the goal line to the build-out line).  There are two Assistant Referees, one on each side of the field, covering half the field.  The Referee is positioned on the field (in the center, thus the layman's term "Center Referee") and is in charge of the game and makes all of the decisions. The two Assistant Referees who run touchline on each side of the field assist the Referee by indicating the probability of an infraction such as offside, out of bounds, goal kick, corner kick, foul, etc., always subject to confirmation of the Referee.  The Referee can whistle the stoppage of play and make a call at the Referee's discretion.  The Referee can accept an Assistant Referee's signal or wave it down, based on what the Referee saw or allows. The Referee should have continual eye contact with the his/her Assistant Referees.

Can an Assistant Referee call fouls?

NO.  The Assistant Referee can raise his/her flag to indicate when they believe a foul, misconduct, offside offense has occurred, and especially if committed out of the Referee's view.  It is the Referee's call to make, but the Referee may consult with the Assistant Referee on the call before it is decided.  If it was in the Penalty Area, it should be discussed.  Before the game, the Referee should have a pre-game talk with the Assistant Referees, go over procedures, what they will allow, what to watch for, what they want and expect from their Assistant Referees, etc.  A good referee team will have good eye contact, great communication and full control of the game.

Which hand should the Assistant Referee use to raise the flag?

The Assistant Referee always keeps the flag in his/her left hand when facing the field, in view of the referee, or always on the side of the field depending on which way the Assistant Referee is walking, jogging or running down the touchline.  The right hand is used to raise the flag for: Throw-in for attacker, Offside, Goal Kick, Corner Kick, Foul by defender or ball otherwise out-of-play.  The left hand is used to raise the flag for: Throw-in for defender and Foul by attacker.  The flags should always exchange hands below the waist.

What should the Referee do when a goal is scored?

Look to his/her Assistant Referee to confirm the ball fully crossed the goal line between the goal posts and under the cross bar.  Upon eye contact, his/her Lead Assistant Referee should be jogging up the touchline to confirm it is a goal.  No whistle is necessary.  Only time a whistle is necessary for a goal is if the ball wholly enters the goal and comes back into play.  If the Assistant Referee does not believe it was a goal because the ball did not go fully across the goal line between the goal posts and under the cross bar, he/she should raise his/her flag straight up and discuss the situation with the Referee.

What should an Assistant Referee do when a goal is scored?

When eye contact with the Referee is established, run/jog up the touchline with the flag in his/her right hand pointing down along his/her side.

What is a Club Linesman?

Usually a parent, who is not certified, and is only allowed to indicate when the ball goes out of bounds by raising his/her flag straight up.  The Club Linesman does not provide direction of throw or any other calls.  A Club Linesman may also be a certified referee who is not in uniform.  Only certified referees, in proper uniform, can perform the duties of an Assistant Referee.

What should a Referee do at player check-in?
1) Check for proper equipment: shoes, shin guards, socks fully covering the shin guards, jerseys.
2) Check that all equipment is safe, no jewelry, wristbands or hard plastic / metal hair clips, earrings, etc. are worn.
3) Check that jersey number and player match the line-up card.  Notate "C-Team Captains" on the line-up card.

The Referee SHOULD NOT do any coaching, or include any detailed advice.  The typical is just to advise the players to 1) play the whistle (stop play if they hear your whistle), and 2) to have fun!  Just let them play!

In the 10U, 8U and 7U games, the players can be reminded to retreat to the build out line as appropriate.  In older games, such as 14U and up, a few additional comments could & should be made, to avoid any conflict during the game, like; A) team captain duties, B) respect required distance on free kicks, C) all throw-ins to be taken within one yard where it exited, D) respect the goalkeeper.  Keep it short & sweet, the Referee is not the coach.  Players' attention will wane after the first couple minutes.  They just want to play!

Must a player's shinguards be touching the skin?

No, a player's shinguards do not have to be touching the skin.  Often younger players will pull their game socks on, then put their shinguards on top of their socks and fold the socks down over the shinguards.  Law 4 states "shinguards must be covered by the socks"; however, while AYSO requirements are consistent with the Laws of the Game that shinguards must be completely covered by the socks, from a safety perspective AYSO goes a step further by specifically stating "Players are not allowed to wear their shinguards over their stockings and then roll the stockings down over the shinguards."  If a player does not want to wear their shinguards against their skin, they can wear a second pair of socks under their shinguards.

What are the names of the boxes on the field?

There are no boxes on a soccer field.  There is the field (some call it a pitch), two Goal AREA's and two Penalty AREA's (some call it the 18), not boxes.  Only a goal area in 8U and 7U, no penalty area.

What is ADVANTAGE?

If a foul or misconduct occurs but the Referee thinks the non-offending team will actually benefit from continuing to play, the Referee should hold one or both arms extended in front of him/her and say "Advantage" or "Play On!" and allow play to continue for 2-3 seconds.  If it plays out for the fouled player, no foul is called (they retain possession).  If it does not play out for the fouled player, the Referee can call the original foul and award the free kick from where it occurred.  Either way, if the foul was deserving of a YELLOW or RED CARD, it can still be given at the next stoppage of play.  An Advantage can be extended (second Advantage granted) if an additional foul or misconduct occurs in the 2-3 seconds the Referee has allowed for the initial Advantage; the Referee should single the second Advantage in the same manner as done for the original Advantage.  If another foul occurs after an Advantage is called, the more serious of the two fouls should be called.

Can a player play a ball on the ground?

YES. Just the mere fact that they are playing the ball on the ground is NOT an infraction, or dangerous play.  If while playing the ball on the ground, they put themselves in danger and/or prevent an OPPONENT from making a play on the ball, then it is Dangerous Play.  An Indirect Free Kick (IFK) for the opponent is awarded.

Does the ball have to leave the Penalty Area on a goal kick and free kicks?

NO.  The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves, it does not have to leave the Penalty Area to be in play (2019 law change).  A free kick includes both Indirect Free Kicks (IFKs) and Direct Free Kicks (DFKs).  The defending team should leave the Penalty Area before the kick is taken.  However, if the attacking team decides to take a quick kick before all opponents have left the Penalty Area, they are allowed to do so.  In this case, if an opponent is already in the Penalty Area before the ball is in play, and that opponent plays that ball in any way, or it hits that opponent, the goal kick or free kick is retaken.  If the team taking the kick takes a quick kick, while an opponent is still in the Penalty Area, it leaves the penalty area and is kicked back into the Penalty Area to that opponent, ball is in play, unless an OFFSIDE OFFENSE occurred.

Can the goalkeeper leave the Penalty Area?

YES.  The goalkeeper is a player on the field.  If the goalkeeper is punting the ball after picking it up in the Penalty Area, it is in his/her hands, and the ball is slightly over the Penalty Area line when it is kicked, is considered trifling, and should NOT be called.  It will not change the game.  The Referee should verbally warn the goalkeeper to watch his/her line.  If the ball is wholly over the Penalty Area line, and the ball is still completely in possession of the goalkeeper, not being released, it would be a deliberate handling foul and a Direct Free Kick (DFK) would be awarded to the opponent just outside of the Penalty Area where the foul occurred.

Note: The goalkeeeper can legally walk on the outside perimeter of the Penalty Area with his/her hand extended, ball in hand, but the ball has not wholly broken the plane of the Penalty Area, and no deliberate handling can be called.  The goalkeeper can be completely over the Penalty Area line, but the ball is still in his/her hand and in the Penalty Area, and no deliberate handling can be called.  It does not matter where the goalkeeper is.  It only matters whether the ball has wholly crossed the line of the Penalty Area and it is being handled by the goalkeeper for it to be a deliberate handling offense.  Sometimes it is just too close to call, or trifling, so don't call it.

If the goalkeeper has possession of the ball, drops it on the ground, and then picks it back up, is that an offense?

YES.  This violates Law 12, second touch by the goalkeeper.  Once the goalkeeper has possession, then relinquishes control of the ball, they cannot handle the ball before someone else has touched it.  (In 7U to 10U, especially when they accidentally drop it, you should refrain from calling an offense and allow it, but educate the keeper.)  It would be an Indirect Free Kick (IFK) for the opponent from where the goalkeeper picked it up, unless it was in the Goal Area.  If in the Goal Area, then the IFK would be taken from the Goal Area line closest to where it was touched.  A goalkeeper is still in possession if they bounce the ball, or parry the ball, or toss it in the air.  If the goalkeeper kicks the ball to release possession, but it goes straight up in the air, and they catch it, it is a second touch by the goalkeeper offense as well, an Indirect Free Kick (IFK).  If the goalkkeeper deflects a slow ball he/she could have surely caught (parrying) and then picks it up, it is a second touch, Indirect Free Kick (IFK) for the opponent.  (Leniency is expected at the 7U to 10U level).

Can a Coach change goalkeepers any time he/she wants? 

NO.  Only at 1) stoppage of play, 2) after notifying and receiving permission of the Referee of the change, and 3) when the other team is NOT taking a quick restart.  The Referee should allow it.  You should always inform the Referee (center) of any goalkeeper change, NOT the Assistant Referee.  Notify the Referee even if the change is during a substitution.  You can only sub the goalkeeper with a player on the field, unless it is a substitution period.  In U16 and above, you can substitute with any player, ON or OFF the field.  Best to have a spare jersey and gloves to not waste time.  Goalkeeper must exit the field before the new goalkeeper can enter the field.

If any player changes position with the goalkeeper without the Referee's permission the Referee is to allow play to continue and caution both players when the ball is next out of play.

Can you be penalized for being in an OFFSIDE POSITION? 

NO.  A player can be in an OFFSIDE POSITION at any time.  You can only be penalized when it is an OFFSIDE OFFENSE.  An attacker is in an OFFSIDE POSITION if they are 1) on the opponents half of the field (closer to the goal than the build out line for 10U), AND 2) closer to the opponents goal line than the ball, AND 3) closer to the opponent’s goal line than the second to last opponent (which may include the opponent's goalkeeper).  It is an OFFSIDE OFFENSE when, a player is in an OFFSIDE POSITION, when the ball is played or touched by a teammate, and that player, 1) interferes with play, 2) interferes with an opponent, or 3) gains an advantage by being in that position.  Note: A player is in an OFFSIDE POSITION, his/her teammate passes the ball to an onside position, the OFFSIDE POSITION player runs onside to play the ball. That player should be called OFFSIDE and an Indirect Free Kick (IFK) should be awarded to the opponent because he/she was in an OFFSIDE POSITION when the ball was kicked by his/her teammate.

When is a player in an OFFSIDE POSITION? 

1) On his/her opponents half of the field (closer to the goal than the build out line for 10U), AND
2) nearer the opponents goal line than the ball, AND
3) closer to the opponents goal then the second to last opponent. 
At this point, they are only in an OFFSIDE POSITION; but, it is NOT an OFFSIDE OFFENSE to solely be in an OFFSIDE POSITION.

When is a player definitely NOT penalized for being OFFSIDE? 

When an attacker is the FIRST to receive/touch the ball on a GOAL KICK, CORNER KICK or THROW-IN.  If the ball touches any onside teammate before going to the offside attacker, in any way, that attacker should be called OFFSIDE.

Can you be OFFSIDE on a punt from your own goalkeeper? 

YES.  If you are in an OFFSIDE POSITION when the ball is punted by your goalkeeper, and you 1) interfere with play, or 2) interfere with an opponent or 3) gain an advantage by being in that position, it is an OFFSIDE OFFENSE.  Note: An attacker could be on his/her side of the field, or ONSIDE on his/her opponents half of the field, when the ball was punted, and while it was in the air, that player moved quickly to an offside position.  It looks like an offside offense, but is not.  The offense occurs only when you are in an OFFSIDE POSITION, when the ball is played or touched by a teammate.  If you watch a punt, then turn and look for an offside offense, a player may appear to be OFFSIDE, but because they were ONSIDE when the ball was punted, no offense.  Typically, in U12 and up, it is easier to watch your offside line and LISTEN for ball being punted.

If a player is in an OFFSIDE POSITION, and runs ONSIDE to play a ball played from his/her ONSIDE teammate, is that an OFFSIDE OFFENSE? 

YES.  The player was in an OFFSIDE POSITION when the ball was played or touched by his/her teammate.  It does not matter that he/she ran ONSIDE to get it, or even to his/her own half of the field.  It is an Indirect Free Kick (IFK) for their opponent from where the OFFSIDE player was when the ball was played or touched by his/her teammate.

An attacker kicks the ball and it deflects off a defender, then onto an attacker in an OFFSIDE POSITION. Is that an OFFSIDE OFFENSE? 

YES.   A deflection off of a defender does not change the determination of an Offside Offense; it would only change if the defender deliberately plays the ball.

What should the Assistant Referee do when he/she sees a probable OFFSIDE OFFENSE? 

If the Assistant Referee believes there is an OFFSIDE OFFENSE, the Assistant Referee should raise his/her flag straight up in the air, with his/her right hand, and stand where the OFFSIDE player was when the that player became actively involved in play.  The flag should continue to remain straight up until the Referee acknowledges the OFFSIDE and blows his/her whistle to stop play.  The Assistant Referee should then point his/her flag towards the field at one of three angles, for where the OFFSIDE occurred. 1) angle upwards for far side of field, 2) straight out (like a goal kick) for center of field, 3) angle downwards for near side of field.  If the Referee never acknowledges the Assistant Referee, the Assistant Referee should continue to hold the flag up until the ball is clearly in control of the defending team or goes out of play.  If a goal is scored, the Referee, who should always look at the Assistant Referee for confirmation of the goal before awarding a goal, would then see the flag raised and should consult with the Assistant Referee to confirm if there was or was not an Offside infraction.  The goal may be disallowed, and an Indirect Free Kick (IFK) awarded to the opponent.  Note: The Referee could waive the Assistant Referee's OFFSIDE indication down if. 1) The Referee disagrees with the indication of the Assistant Referee, 2) The Referee lets the goalkeeper have the advantage of picking up the ball or 3) the ball has clearly changed possession and direction towards the other half of the field.  The Referee always has the final decision.

Where is the ball placed on an OFFSIDE OFFENSE? 

The ball is placed where the OFFSIDE player became actively involved in play not where the OFFSIDE player was when the ball was first played or touched  by his/her teammate, no matter how far the player or the ball has traveled down the field.  It is an Indirect Free Kick (IFK) for the opposing team.

If a throw-in never goes into play, is it always a retake? 

NO.  It is only a retake if the original throw-in was "performed properly" and it touched the ground before ever going into play.  Proper procedure is, the player 1) faces the field of play in a standing position, 2) part of each foot on or behind the touch line, 3) holds the ball with both hands, 4) delivers the ball from behind and over his head, 5) delivers the ball from the point where it left the field of play (within 2 yards).  The ball is in play when it enters the field of play.  If the throw-in was performed improperly, whether it went in play or not, the opponent would get the throw-in.  You only get the retake if all 5 requirements of the throw-in were performed properly, and it never went into play.  In younger divisions, the Referee can and should allow a second chance for the same player after a brief instruction.  They are learning.  Let them play!

Can a player take a free kick immediately?

YES, as long as 1) the player taking the kick did not request 10 yards, or 2) the Referee did not tell the kicker to wait for the whistle, to give a caution or attend to an injured player.  If the kicker asks for ten yards, then the Referee would tell the kicker to wait for the whistle.  The kicker now must wait for the whistle before restarting play.  This is called a ceremonial restart.  If an opponent encroaches the 10 yard distance, the kick must be retaken unless the Advantage can be applied which is often the case on a quick kick, and the encroacher could possibly be cautioned with a YELLOW card for failing to respect the required distance.

Can a goal be scored directly from a KICK-OFF or GOAL-KICK? 

YES, but only against your opponent.  No need for the ball to be touched by another player before a score can be accomplished.  Note: On a kick-off, there is also no restriction on the number of attackers in the center circle, but they do need to be on their own half of the field except for the player taking the kick.  The Referee blows the whistle to let attackers know they can start, and after the ball is kicked and moves it is in play No opponents can enter the center circle until the ball is in play.

Can a goal be scored directly from a DROPPED BALL? 

NO.  The ball is dropped, and when it touches the ground, it is in play, but must be touched by at least two players before a goal can be scored. So... no goal.

Can a goal be scored from a THROW-IN? 

NO.  If an attacker throws it directly into his/her opponent’s goal, it is a Goal Kick.  If a defender throws it directly into his/her own goal, it is a Corner Kick.  NOTE THESE SCENARIOS:
1) If an attacker performs a throw-in towards his/her opponent’s goal and it is touched by anyone before the ball crosses the goal line, IT IS A GOAL. 
2) If a player performs a throw-in towards his/her own goal, and his/her goalkeeper touches it in any way, and the ball crosses the goal line, IT IS A GOAL.  (If the goalkeeper touched it with his/her hands, it is a deliberate pass back offense, and it would be a foul awarded with an Indirect Free Kick (IFK), but you would apply ADVANTAGE, and award the goal).

Can a player call, yell, or scream at an opponent in any way, or call for an opponent to pass him/her the ball? 

NO.  The player should be cautioned with a YELLOW CARD for Unsporting Behavior, and an Indirect Free Kick (IFK) awarded to the opponent from where the cautioned player was when he/she yelled or deceived the opponent.  Note: 10U and below, we can caution a player but we do not show them the Yellow card to avoid embarrassment at this young age.

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