USSF periodically publishes Directives, Position Papers and Miscellaneous Memos. I strongly urge you regularly to go online to USSF.com, and review these publications. Below is an excerpt from one of those memos offering guidelines on when a referee should have less flow in a game and tighten—up with more foul recognition. This note has some comment on Advantage in addition to the more flow/less flow info.
Warning Signs a Referee Needs Less Flow / Foul selection/recognition and More
The following lists some of the “warning signs” or “flash points” in a game that should resonate with officials and provide direction regarding overall game/situation management:
Foul near the team benches
Wet field – comfort level of players to make tackles increases
Tackles extend from 3 yards to 7 yards
Sequence /succession /repetition of challenges in short time (cluster fouls)
More body contact
Mismatched body contact (feet versus chest, head versus knee) Change from containment defense to high pressure and chase Challenges (including 50-50) and apparent challenges on the goalkeeper
Near the touchline and no way out for the ball or the player
Retaliation foul after play restarts
Player into goal to retrieve ball after a score
The winning team protecting the ball at the corner flag to use time
Excessive fouls on the skillful player (play maker and scorer)
Escalation in the “severity of fouls” committed
Frustration level of players increasing, player acceptance decreasing Dissent increasing
Player feedback from both teams indicating “we don’t want flow”
Score and time
Advantage: The “4 P Principle”
When considering the application of advantage, the following principle is provided as a guideline for officials. Remember, advantage application may differ depending upon the skill level, age level, and general atmosphere of the game.
The “4 P Principle” of Advantage Application:
Very often referees ask colleagues questions about the ”Laws of the Game,”, Procedures, Registration/Re-certification, etc. Sometimes the advice/information received is accurate and useful; however, quite often the information is incorrect or incomplete!
Referees sometimes think that because a colleague has a higher referee rating/grade, e.g. , National or State 5, that the information must be correct!! WRONG!
To avoid receiving and acting upon misinformation you receive from colleagues, you should do the following:
Only a USSF certified Instructor can definitively answer any questions you have about the Laws of the Game! If the instructor doesn’t have an answer, he or she will go to a higher level for assistance. Getting advice from colleagues, especially those who are more experienced or higher rated than your, may be helpful. Accept the advice or information gracefully; however, DO NOT ACT on the advice/information until you have it verified by a certified instructor!
At some past meetings I reviewed some U.S.S.F. “Expectations of Performance” criteria and the U.S.S.F. assessment “Grading System” for match performance. Below are selected excerpts from U.S.S.F. memo of February 23, 2009.
“The following is a summary of the performance and grading system levels to be used consistently at all referee grade levels. As a result, all grade levels will be scored/graded on the same scoring or numeric system. The minimal passing score for all levels is 70. A score of 69 or less represents an unacceptable performance.
Description: Outstanding Grade Range: 90-100.
Comments: . . . . A near flawless performance: A very rare performance for the level of game assigned. The match should have represented a difficult to very difficult challenge for the referee.
Description: Very Good Grade Range: 80-89. Comments: The referee demonstrated a high level of skill in controlling a match which is a demanding test of his/her refereeing ability . . .. The referee should have been challenged with solving/preventing at least one difficult decision. The match should have represented a difficult challenge for the referee.
Description: Acceptable Grade Range: 70-79 Comments: [Complete, not excerpted by hpg]:
The referee demonstrated his/her ability to control a competitive match. A standard performance where the standard of control and law application should be credible. A referee who has performed well overall but who has made a key error, that did not affect the outcome of the game, may fit this category. Player management, disciplinary control and other technical requirements should be of good standard but some advice and/or area(s) for improvement will be covered.
Description: Not Acceptable Grade Range: 60-69 Comments:
The referee is inconsistent in his/her decision making and dealing with players or fails to deal correctly with major incidents. Performance below expectations for this grade level referee. . . . Clear advice and/or areas for improvement will be required in the report. The referee’s performance is “not acceptable” based upon the criteria established in the “Not Acceptable Performance Policy.” The match was made difficult (in part) because of the referee’s performance.
[NOTE: The remaining two Grade Ranges (50-59 and 49 or less) described as (a) Poor and (b) Performance Subject to Review need not be reproduced here; they do exist, however! I hope none of our NOCRA referees will ever fall into either of these two categories!]
This is a good reminder for all referees and coaches for the upcoming season!
Some referees using common sense decide to stop the game when it is too hot and allow the players to hydrate as a way to prevent heat related problems. Other referees, on the other hand, do not allow this during regular time. They don’t want to stop the game, arguing that FIFA prohibits this practice. Who is right? Let's see...
Analysis of the situation.
"The loss of 5% of a player’s body fluid during a match is enough to substantially undermine performance. More so, in that further loss can cause an acute phase of dehydration.” This was the conclusion reached by members of the FIFA medical commission and is the reason it was suggested to the Referee’s Committee of soccer’s governing body, that “they were required to stop the game for one or two minutes for hydration in the event of high temperatures” in order to prevent any player suffering heat related injury.
The FIFA Referees Committee accepted the proposal made by its counterpart, however, not as it was originally proposed. They stated that “the referee should be allowed, if the game is played in high heat, to temporarily stop for a minute for all players to hydrate,” as a way to protect the physical health of players.
The referee's discretion prevails.
The Referees Committee does not provide within forty five (45) minutes in regular time, a special period during which the referee should stop the game for players to drink fluids. Everything was left to the discretion of the referee who, depending on the temperature, could decide to stop play.
When asked about this topic, Dr. Carlos Alarcon, President of the Referees Committee of the South American Soccer Confederation said,” A referee stopping the game for players to hydrate under FIFA authority is not illegal and not based on a referee’s whim but an action that has already been analyzed with the procedure provided for.” Therefore, this official statement settles discussion on this issue.
TOO LATE TO CHANGE NOW, REF!
Question: Let's say the ref calls a corner kick, the kick is taken, the ball is in play, and then a goal is scored. After the goal is scored, can the referee then say, "Oops, it was supposed to be a throw-in, not a corner kick." The ref claims he can change the call before the ball is put in play. Was the fact that the corner was taken and goal scored considered "in play?"
Answer: Just as the referee cannot rescind a caution (yellow card) or a send-off (red card) after play has been restarted, neither can the referee change the restart itself if it has been taken.
If the referee discovers after play has restarted that the wrong restart was taken, the referee must provide in the match report all details relevant to the mistake.
The failure of the referee to include in the match report accurately and fully any such errors is a serious breach of the referee's responsibilities.
DELAYS THE RESTART OF PLAY
Question: We are having a debate here about the definition of "delay of game."
On a kick-off from the halfline, after a goal, or starting a game, if a team does an improper kick-off (i.e. ball does not move forward and cross over the halfline) several times, is this considered delay of game? I have seen teams do this in the past. I would allow this twice, then give an indirect free kick to the opposite team. I was recently told by a senior official that this is not a delay of game, and therefore, not an indirect free kick. Well, if so, what do you do about it?
Answer: The tactic you describe could be considered to be delaying the restart of play. A number of examples are given in the USSF publication "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game":
12.28.4 DELAYS THE RESTART OF PLAY
The following are specific examples of this form of misconduct (some of which may also be committed by substitutes):
WHEN TRICKERY REARS ITS UGLY HEAD
Question: During a recent U19 Boys competitive match, I was the trail Assistant Referee, and during the second play, I was about 50 yards up field, just outside the 18. I observed the defending team re-take possession of the ball, and due to attacking pressure, the ball was passed to a central defender who was at the top of the 18 facing up field.
As the defender received the ball he turned and faced his own goalie. The defender popped the ball up in the air with his foot, and then headed the ball to his keeper, who caught it in his hands.
The Referee and the lead AR were both in a good position to observe his play, and did not whistle nor did the AR raise his flag. Being on the team sideline, the coach and several of the players were quick to speak up that the defender's actions were clearly illegal. The coach and his assistant both approached me, respectfully, and asked if I had observed the play and what was I was going to do. I simply stated the Referee and AR were both in an excellent position to observe the play, and no call had been made.
During the post game discussion I mentioned the incident, and both the center and the AR stated that they did not know that his actions were considered trickery, and an indirect kick should have been awarded.
I continue to have doubts regarding my decision to not signal. This was a close game that ended 2-1, with the losing team missing a possible goal scoring opportunity by the referee team error.
So I ask: When is it appropriate for the trail AR to signal, if ever, an observed violation of the laws of the game at distance, which can have an effect on the final score?
Answer: From your description, the defender's action was clearly a case of trickery for which play should have been stopped, an indirect free kick given where the defender was who committed the trickery (trickery does not depend on the goalkeeper handling the ball), and a caution should be given for unsporting behavior. However, also from your scenario, it appears that you clearly understood this.
So, as you also note, the real question is what you should do about it.
Unfortunately, this is where things get a bit murkier. Your responsibility as an AR is to (a) be very sure that what you saw either could not be seen at all or, if seen, was not recognized as an offense; and (b) to decide that your intervention is needed for the good of the game and to avoid the commission of an egregious error. Because you were the trail AR, this burden is particularly heavy because you must include both the referee and the lead AR in your evaluation.
You noted that the event was clearly in the view of the referee so that leaves ignorance of the nature of the event - intervention in such cases must rest on a quick evaluation of the likelihood of such an error because, on the surface, it could be either an error or a concrete decision that the event did not meet the requirements of the offense (in other words, the referee saw it, recognized the possibility, and then made a conscious decision that the facts didn't fit the conclusion). This is why, in such cases, the AR needs to be 100% sure.
If you ARE sure, then the action you must take is well described in the Guide to Procedures - stop, square to the field, raise the flag straight up, hope the lead AR cross flags (mirrors you) and is seen doing so by the referee who is then directed across the field to your signal, you waggle the flag briefly when eye contact is established, and then see if the referee whistles play dead (as should happen if the referee trusts your judgment).
What follows depends on the referee: if it is a case of not recognizing the offense, the referee will likely want to find out from you the reason for the flag and you need to be prepared to succinctly describe the offense, identify the guilty defender by name and/or number, and state the correct restart (plus whether you believe a card should be given). After that, it is up to the referee.
Tom's editorial note: These are exactly the types of things that MUST be covered in a thorough pregame.