The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog – Volume 12 Issue 36 – Post Play

September 5, 2020

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog

Sharpening Referee Knowledge and Judgment, One Week at a Time

Volume 12, Issue 36 – September 6, 2020

Please forward this Blog to your fellow soccer officials or tell them about it.  As it stands now, this is one of the tools we can use to keep sharp in these weird times of staying indoors to stay safe.

The purpose of this Blog is so we can all learn from each other’s experience and by doing so, avoid mistakes, make more consistent calls, and do a better job. I don’t have to make any of this up – this is what happens on the pitch.

Quote of the Week:

“If I wanted you to pass the ball to the other team, I would have TOLD YOU.”

From a High School coach was unhappy when a weak pass was intercepted by their opponents.

Coach – you can fix this without publicly berating and embarrassing your players through better coaching and drills.  Look in the mirror to see the problem please.  It’s starting YOU in the face.

This Week’s Question – Post Play

On a past 1A High School game…

This is a fairly good game between two small schools.  It is clear that some players on the home team long for a football program, which is missing.

B18 is bringing the ball up the left side of the field, and is heading into Team A’s half.  Just after passing into Team A’s half, A13 stops directly in front to B18, who runs into the immobile player and literally bounces off about 2 feet due to his momentum.

A13 smiles.

You Make the Call:

What is the call?

What is the restart?

Last Week’s Question: – Falling Down

On a recent park district U10 game…

You are solo on this one, and it’s okay since the fields are small and the teams badly mismatched.

You see A2 make a pass forward to A15, who collects the ball.  As Player B3 and B43 approach (not within 5 feet), you see A2 fall to the ground.

The Team A coach is asking why no foul is called.

You Make the Call:

What is the Call?

What is the Restart?

What You Said:

Referee 1:

You didn’t see any foul play happen, so you don’t call a foul. Sorry, coach.

Referee 2:

Since a pass was made to A15, you probably have an advantage situation anyway.  Since it sounds like no one could have fouled A2 and he went down, blame it on the grass monster for grabbing his cleats.  It is rec play and they often fall for no reason.

I doubt that this level is able to simulate a foul (interesting that a coach would even be watching the player without the ball and would he really want to lose an advantage).

Referee 3:

You can’t call a foul on the grass. Explain to the coach exactly what happened. This happens at the upper age group too!!

Referee 4:

“Just because a player falls down doesn’t necessarily mean there was a foul coach. If you’re going to react in that manner every time that happens, we’re going to have a very long day.”

If he continues in his running dialogue of the game, then we enter the “tell” phase of “ask, tell, remove” and we issue his formal warning that if he continues, then the match will continue on without him because we don’t need him there for the match to happen (that is, unless there is no other passed coach there if it is a YSSL/IWSL game). This is one of the few things I like about NISL games. We don’t need a passed coach there for the game to continue.

The Answer:

First off, you don’t owe the coach an answer.  Let it go.

If they insist, then I would stop play and explain what you saw, and then formally ASK them to stop dissenting the calls, since this is clearly dissent.

There is no restart unless you stop to address the coach.  A2 fell after she passed the ball.  Why she fell is not our concern – unless Team B is using Psychic Powers (which we can’t see), they weren’t close enough to even influence play.

Continue to play – no Advantage, since nothing happened which would warrant it.

And if you do stop to address the coach, it’s an Indirect Free Kick to the opposing team at the point where the ball was when you stopped to address the coach.

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog – Volume 14 Issue 33 – A Long Throw – The Referee Shortage Arrived Today – Do You Want To Promote?

August 14, 2022

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog

Sharpening Referee Knowledge and Judgment, One Week at a Time

Volume 14, Issue 33 – August 14, 2022

Please forward this Blog to your fellow soccer officials or tell them about it.  This is one of the tools we can use to keep sharp during the year.

The purpose of this Blog is so we can all learn from each other’s experience and by doing so, avoid mistakes, make more consistent calls, and do a better job. I don’t have to make any of this up – this is what happens on the pitch.

Quote of the Week:

“Thank you – this was an excellent class!”

From one of the students at a recent mentoring session.

2022 IHSA Soccer Exam – MS Teams Test Review

I’ll be running an IHSA Soccer Exam MS Teams Meeting exam review.  We’ll answer the questions collegially.

If you are interested, let me know and I’ll get it set up.

Does Anyone Want to Promote Up in IHSA?

This isn’t rhetorical.  The season is about to start for the fall within a few weeks, so if you are interested in promoting from an X (Registered) to an R (Recognized) or an R to a C (Certified) there is a process that has to be followed with the IHSA.

It starts with getting evaluations from several people (at least 3) of which you need a couple of officials and a coach or vice-a-versa.  If you are getting one from a coach, they have to submit it through the Officials Center and then the Athletic Director has to approve it.  This isn’t something that can linger – you have to push this.  Officials can just submit theirs through the official center.

If you want the whole program, go to the Officials Center and look up the Officials Handbook (not for Soccer – for ALL officials) and it has the details inside.

Here is where you can find it:  https://www.ihsa.org/documents/flip/SOH/2022-23/SOH%202022-23.html

The details on Promotion are on Pages 16 and 17.

If you are looking to promote, AND are working with me this fall and need an evaluation, please let me know.  If you are ARing with me and you need a Center to get evaluated, we’ll work with the assignor and you can have the center, and I’ll AR and assess you.

If you aren’t, you can tell me when you have centers, and I’ll see if I can make it to your game to observe you.

The assessment process will include feedback at the end of the game on your positioning, foul recognition and game management.  If it helps, I’m a USSF licensed Referee Mentor.

If you are interested in promoting and getting an evaluation, please contact me.

It’s Time – Schools Need to Start Stacking Weekend Games – NOW

Looking at the messages from several assignors, the referee shortage is here.  As an example, I’m looking for someone to cover a game for me on 9/17 so I can do a college game – and per Arbiter, everyone is booked.  EVERYONE.

The assignor is looking to see if the college can move the game back 1 hour – then I can make both games.  (Pssst: That’s an example of STACKING GAMES)

Then I got a message from another assignor looking for help – he had 28 openings between the start of season and the middle of September.

Early this week, I had a message from another assignor, who had around 238 openings.  We’re less than 2 weeks from the start of the season.

So Here is an Epiphany – The IHSA REFEREE SHORTAGE IS HERENOW.  RIGHT NOW.  Not at some point in the future.

The status quo of schools just scheduling dates in a vacuum has to change.  Maybe for now, we cancel all the JV tournaments, or remove officials from Middle School or Freshman games, or go down to 2 officials for all 1A games.  Perhaps that will get the attention of the attendees and convince some of them to get off their rear ends and take the training.

At a minimum, here is something that could be done to free up officials: Even if a school has 2 fields, stack games so the same crew can work 2 games back-to-back.  As an example, Rochelle, Sycamore and DeKalb have and book two fields.  If they are fielding a JV team this year, that’s 5 officials per school or 15 officials per day.

We could recover 3 (single ref) to 6 (dual system) of those officials for other games if we just schedule the games back-to-back on the same field.  If that happens 5 times in the season, that is 15 to 30 referees who will become available across those dates.  That could temporarily ease the stress of the low numbers of referees.

Alternatively, we could better stagger weekend game start times.  Move 10 am games up to 8 or 9 am, move other games back an hour or two.  If we did that at DeKalb, Sycamore and Genoa for example (all within easy drive distance) we could free up officials and just have them go the next school for the next game.  The same approach would apply to most of the Rockford area schools, including Belvidere, or the schools in the Aurora / Naperville areas.  That would free up officials as well if we could get schools to shift games earlier and later.

Schools more spread out like Somonauk, Earlville, Paw Paw, Plano, Hinkley Big Rock and Sandwich could coordinate weekend start times between the two or three closest schools, and schedule crews for 2 games a day.

Now consider this: If someone who takes a lot of games (I have around 40, I talked with one official recently who has 200) should go down for any reason – catch COVID, pull a hamstring, get in a car wreck, need leg surgery, die – the wheels will come off the schedule – FAST.  There is nobody left who can fill in.

Something has to give.  We don’t have enough bodies to cover the games.  The Referee pool is EMPTY.  It appears that all my speeches at half time on competitive and high school games asking people to step up and become officials have fallen on deaf ears.  I’m still going to make the speech – and I’ll include that we have 350 games at this point in Northern Illinois that I’m aware of either with less than the right number of officials or NO officials.

Perhaps it’s time for IHSA and the other soccer official agencies to start an outreach program.  This could include:

That sort of thing can help remove some of the uncertainty from the process.

USSF has their Referee Mentor program.  What is IHSA doing?  Nothing effective so far.  So it’s up to us.

Have a better solution?  Other ideas?  Send them in.

This Week’s Question – A Long Keeper Throw

On a future IHSA game between two local rivals…

There is a lot going on, but not much scoring.  The Team B goalkeeper (B00) is show-boating around, and sometimes leaves the Penalty Area to move the ball up field.

This is a bit unnerving because the Team B defense is not that strong.

B00 is at the midfield line, and kicks the ball hard into Team A’s end, where Team A Goalkeeper A00 collects the ball, and then throws it with the help of the wind clear over the midfield line, where a combination of wind and bounces sends it over the showboating Team B goalkeeper and right into the Team B Goal.

You Make the Call:

What is the call?

What is the restart?

Last Week’s Question: – Late to the Play

On a recent MWPL game between two local rivals…

The Center has been doing a great job keeping the game moving and under control.  The game is scoreless, but not for lack of shots or effort.

We’re now in the second half, and the urgency to score is rising.  You see B47 collect a knee-high ball by jumping and trapping, at which point B47 kicks the ball towards their waiting forwards.

A second after the ball is collected and launched (bang-bang play, 3 seconds duration total), you see A12 come in literally flying right through B47’s legs. 

B47 crashes to the ground rolling around in pain.

You Make the Call:

What is the Call?

What is the Restart?

What You Said:

Referee 1:

Depending on what type of contact I see will determine a card. A lunging movement which is excessive needs a red.  A careless maneuver gets yellow. Don’t let this go on.

Referee 2:

You are required to play under control.

DFK, YC, or RC as appropriate.

Referee 3:

If there is no advantage, blow the whistle. Make sure B47 is attended to. Caution for A12 illegal charge. Restart DFK from the spot of the foul.

Referee 4:

Is it a charging foul? Or a kicking foul? Needs to be at the least careless, in which case we have just a foul. If it rises to the level of reckless, then we have a caution to go with it; if excessive force then a red card to go with it.

The Answer:

First off, the contact was late.  Secondly, the contact was reckless.

A Caution is warranted to A12, along with a clear sign of “no more” to indicate this type of callous play will not be tolerated.

This has to be addressed and addressed fast.  If the referee fails to take action and sanction A12, Team B will find a way to “even the score.”  If this happens, game control will be lost.

For every card, it is good to think “What will I get for this card?”  Will it be a change in behavior of the players?  Will it be to reduce the temperature of the game?  Will it be to keep the game under control?  Or all of the above.  You should know what your objective is with each card you issue – not that you’ll tell the player or coaches.  Know what you think you are getting for every card.

The restart will be a Direct Free Kick, assuming you don’t issue allow for Advantage.  If you do opt for Advantage, make sure you talk with and Caution A12 before the next restart, or this can and will happen again, or worse yet, retaliation can occur.

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog – Volume 14 Issue 32 – Late to the Play – Finally – A Chance to Mentor – USSF Referee Numbers Locally are LOW!

August 7, 2022

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog

Sharpening Referee Knowledge and Judgment, One Week at a Time

Volume 14, Issue 32 – August 7, 2022

Please forward this Blog to your fellow soccer officials or tell them about it.  This is one of the tools we can use to keep sharp during the year.

The purpose of this Blog is so we can all learn from each other’s experience and by doing so, avoid mistakes, make more consistent calls, and do a better job. I don’t have to make any of this up – this is what happens on the pitch.

Quote of the Week:

“I can’t believe that is just a Caution.”

From the color commentators on last week’s question, which garnered a Caution for the high kicking player.

Low Numbers of Soccer Officials

I was doing some searches on the Soccer Ref listing on IHSA.

I looked at Rochelle – 1 (me) (out of 9,083 population)

I looked at DeKalb – 1 (pop: 42,961)

I looked back at Morris where there used to be 5 – None.  (2 of us moved, 2 of us died, one retired) (pop: 14,165)

I looked in Sycamore – 3 (pop: 17,990)

I fully realize that I’m looking in the smaller communities here, but that’s pretty low regarding numbers.

FINALLY – Got an Opportunity to Mentor New Officials!

This is why I signed up for the USSF Mentor program.  Saturday, I got a chance to work with the Illinois State Director of Instruction and 5 other mentors on the new USSF program for in-person training. 

The morning session had 53 attendees, and the afternoon session had around 53, so collectively we mentored around 106 new officials.

The drills were engaging – we could see each of the group’s skills improve noticeably during the day, as we built up their basic skills.  We worked on proper uniform wear and why, Center Referee whistles and skills, Assistant Referee signals (with actual flags) and skills, and even active offside drills where the AR worked with the center to make a call, or just as important, a non-call if the ball was deliberately kicked into the area by a defender.

The other station ran drills to provide the right signals, with a mentor holding up a pre-printed sign like “Foul” or “Throw in ->” to provide practice and practical experience.

One of the mentors was a National Referee candidate, who described his experience – and it wasn’t what you’d expect.  His comments were frank, candid and riveting as he described the process he has been through, while being very humble at the same time.  It was a great opening elevator speech for the new referees, and one I hope inspires some of them to stick with it and move up in the ranks.  Several of the new referees were talking with him after the class – I’d say he was a very effective speaker.

That leaves around 1600 officials who have to undergo this training.  I’d say 98% of the new officials had never held a flag in their hand until today, or a whistle.  They really appreciated the hands-on training and mentoring.

Next up, I’m mentoring for a day at an upcoming Crystal Lake Tournament on August 20th.

This Week’s Question – Late to the Play

On a recent MWPL game between two local rivals…

The Center has been doing a great job keeping the game moving and under control.  The game is scoreless, but not for lack of shots or effort.

We’re now in the second half, and the urgency to score is rising.  You see B47 collect a knee-high ball by jumping and trapping, at which point B47 kicks the ball towards their waiting forwards.

A second after the ball is collected and launched (bang-bang play, 3 seconds duration total), you see A12 come in literally flying right through B47’s legs. 

B47 crashes to the ground rolling around in pain.

You Make the Call:

What is the call?

What is the restart?

Last Week’s Question: – A Photo Blog

On a recent CONCACAF Championship Soccer Game…

What would you do if you saw this?  (2 photos provided – they occurred in the sequence provided.

Two players are competing for a ball that was kicked high.  The player in white was trying head the ball:

First photo:

Second Photo:

The white player ends up on the ground, rolling around and clutching her face and side.  You clearly saw contact between the Red defender and the White player.

You Make the Call:

What is the Call?

What is the Restart?

What You Said:

Referee 1:

I would say a red card is in order here.

The question for me is would you write it up as SFP or VC?

The ball is in the vicinity so I would be inclined to say SFP but I would like to read your opinion.

Referee 2:

If I’m seeing contact like that odds are I’m going straight to RED!

It’s not like the white team player had lowered their head but was clearly playing the ball in a legal manner.

We need to take care of this type of nonsense immediately!

Referee 3:

Careless, Reckless, Dangerous…. From the images red 22 has lifted her foot to well above the shoulders putting other players in danger.

Blow your whistle, stop play.

Make sure the white player is tended to by the coach and/or bench staff. (DO NOT TOUCH, DO NOT HELP.)

Call the coach/staff onto the field.

Straight red to red 22. Restart is DFK for white

The Answer:

As you can see in the Quote of the Week, even the color commentators had a hard time with this getting just a Caution.

You couldn’t see the run up unless you were watching the game.  The White player established how to play the ball with her head, clearly indicating that effort.

The Red Defender was not willing to let this go – so she raised her foot with cleats clearly exposed to the head level of both players, made contact with the White player’s face, and then as her leg dropped and the White players momentum carried her forward, put cleats into the White players side.

To me, this is Serious Foul Play – the attempt to play the ball was done without any regard for the safety of the White player.  It isn’t Violent Conduct because it was an attempt, albeit poor, to play the ball.

In my view, the Red player should have been sent off with a Straight Red for SFP.

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog – Volume 14 Issue 31 – A Photo Blog

July 31, 2022

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog

Sharpening Referee Knowledge and Judgment, One Week at a Time

Volume 14, Issue 31 – July 31, 2022

Please forward this Blog to your fellow soccer officials or tell them about it.  This is one of the tools we can use to keep sharp during the year.

The purpose of this Blog is so we can all learn from each other’s experience and by doing so, avoid mistakes, make more consistent calls, and do a better job. I don’t have to make any of this up – this is what happens on the pitch.

Quote of the Week:

“Please accept your games in Arbiter.”

From multiple assignors trying to get their schedules set for Fall 2022.  So please, check your assigning programs.

This Week’s Question – A Photo Blog

On a recent CONCACAF Championship Soccer Game…

What would you do if you saw this?  (2 photos provided – they occurred in the sequence provided.

Two players are competing for a ball that was kicked high.  The player in white was trying head the ball:

First photo:

Second Photo:

The white player ends up on the ground, rolling around and clutching her face and side.  You clearly saw contact between the Red defender and the White player.

You Make the Call:

What is the call?

What is the restart?

Last Week’s Question: – Hair Beads

On a IHSA Boys Soccer Game in a few weeks…

You are doing your precautionary pre-game inspection, looking over players equipment.

You see Player B12 with beads woven into his hair.  The hair is tied a pony tail, and strings of beads are free in the pony tail.

(Hint: Have you read up on the new NFHS Rules Changes?)

You Make the Call:

What is the Call?

What is the Restart?

What You Said:

Referee 1:

If I understand the wording of the question –the beads are free at the end of the ponytail, then I would not let them play with those beads–if anchored into the hair and not able to move around freely then I will allow it (on a personal note though I think it still can present a hazard when heading the ball).

I did have a Jr High game this year where two girls each had about 15 beads the size of large gumballs at the of hair extensions, I told them not able to play with the beads and of course a parent said it was unfair as that was part of their culture, fortunately the coach agreed with me and talked to the parent.

Referee 2:

Better know your league rules. Back in the day no jewelry was allowed. But now he might insist it was a religious thing and might be legal. Damned if I know.

The Answer:

This is in the 2022 Fall Preseason guide.  Apparently, NFHS sees this as an issue for female players, but both male and female players have hair adornments.

In this case, because the beads are free (and thus dangerous,) they are still ILLEGAL and the player can’t play – UNLESS they put them into a bun or tie them off at the top.

Then (now as of Fall, 2022) they are fine.

See the NFHS pre-season guide for details.

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog – Volume 14 Issue 30 – Hair Beads

July 24, 2022

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog

Sharpening Referee Knowledge and Judgment, One Week at a Time

Volume 14, Issue 30 – July 24, 2022

Please forward this Blog to your fellow soccer officials or tell them about it.  This is one of the tools we can use to keep sharp during the year.

The purpose of this Blog is so we can all learn from each other’s experience and by doing so, avoid mistakes, make more consistent calls, and do a better job. I don’t have to make any of this up – this is what happens on the pitch.

Quote of the Week:

“The referee went to VAR and the original Penalty Kick has been changed.”

From a color commentator when a Referee went to VAR, got a better angle, and changed a non-foul to what it was – nothing – instead of a PK.

Referee Numbers Falling, Falling, Falling

A local Illinois assignor kept some numbers of Referees who were certified.  I have to look at the big stack of CDs I have for my 2011 backup where I saw numbers of around 7400 when I was assigning for the Morris Soccer Association in Illinois.

Here is how soccer referee numbers have declined in Illinois:

Year   # of Refs       % Down from 2011

2011: 7,400            NA

2017: 5,646            31%

2018: 5,308            39%

2019: 4,788            54%

2021: 3,954            87%

Yikes!  Most of the people who leave the Blog retire because they have aged out (35%) or are tired of the abuse (65%) generally.

A Suggestion – Assignors – Stack Weekend Games

I was checking in with a friend and official who I hadn’t heard from in a while.  In our discussions, he had what I think is an excellent suggestion:

Assignors need to Stack weekend games better.

Okay, but what does “stack” mean?

Consider the above information about our declining numbers.  We have less total officials and have an increasing amount of games.

I have some weekends at the local USSF competitive level, where there is a game at 9:00 am, then one at 10:00 am, and then one at 3:00 pm.

If I take the 9, I can’t do the 10 as they overlap.  If I take the 10, do I want to sit around in my jersey for 3 hours for the 3 pm game or drive home, grab a shower because I got hot and sweaty running on the first game and then back?  Not usually.

But what if:

The 9:00 am game was moved to 8:30?

Then a referee / crew could cover the 8:30 and 10:00 am games.

What if the 3 pm game was moved to noon?

Then a referee / crew could cover ALL 3 games.  That amortizes the cost of driving out to the field better, splitting that over 3 games fees.  It is also a better use of the referee’s time.

Yes, logistically, the referees then need to bring out enough water and energy supplements (e.g., Cliff Bars, NICE bars, energy gels) to keep their bodies going.  That’s easier than looking for 6 officials because of overlapping games or games that are spread out so far that it isn’t reasonable to stick around and wait for it (I guess a referee could read a book to pass the time?)

My suggestion is you pass this along to your assignors.  Some assignors already do this well.  For those that don’t, if they want officials for their games (notably in places that are out in the country and have a small referee pool), this would be a way to attract officials to those games.  All it takes is proactive scheduling.

This Week’s Question – Hair Beads

On a IHSA Boys Soccer Game in a few weeks…

You are doing your precautionary pre-game inspection, looking over players equipment.

You see Player B12 with beads woven into his hair.  The hair is tied a pony tail, and strings of beads are free in the pony tail.

(Hint: Have you read up on the new NFHS Rules Changes?)

You Make the Call:

What is the call?

What is the restart?

Last Week’s Question: – I Want to Hold You

On a recent State Cup Soccer Game…..

This is a very organized and precise game.  No scoring yet, just because of the effectiveness of the defense, and some great saves by the goalkeeper on Team A.

It’s 15 minutes into the first half, and you see A11 harassing B28 who has possession of the ball.  It looks legal, but you clearly see A11 grab B28 for a second and hold them near the mid field line, but B28 breaks loose and starts to move.

As you think B28 will prevail, you see A11 grab B28 again, and this time you see the jersey get pulled out as B28 starts to move away.

You Make the Call:

What is the Call?

What is the Restart?

What You Said:

Referee 1:

Let’s see if any advantage exists; however, I hesitate to use that unless they are in the attacking third. Advantage should benefit the team not necessarily the player.

Anyway, we have two holds, the second (provided the first wasn’t tactical) would warrant a caution either NOW or at the next stoppage.

Referee 2:

If B28 retains possession, call ADVANTAGE and let play continue for a few seconds. You can always call it back.

A hold is a hold is a hold. Regardless of the advantage applied A11 is deserving of a caution. Depending on how play was stopped this could be a DFK from the spot of the foul, or if play was stopped for another reason, no change to that restart.

The Answer:

Two answers?  Really?  I know summer is here but come on folks – answer to keep your skills / knowledge up.  Tests are coming soon for High School.

You let the first hold go – you may have considered it trifling at this high level.  However, the fouls are continuing.

This is one you have to address before B28’s frustration level rises to the point where he takes matters into his own hands.

Call the foul in this case Holding – and issue a Direct Free Kick to Team B at the point of the infraction.  Consider whether this is Caution-able.

There was no clear advantage to consider as this is at the mid-field line.

A few words to A11 to knock that off may be warranted.

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog – Volume 14 Issue 29 – I Want to Hold You – Good News – USSF Entry Referee Courses Return to In Person

July 17, 2022

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog

Sharpening Referee Knowledge and Judgment, One Week at a Time

Volume 14, Issue 29 – July 17, 2022

Please forward this Blog to your fellow soccer officials or tell them about it.  This is one of the tools we can use to keep sharp during the year.

The purpose of this Blog is so we can all learn from each other’s experience and by doing so, avoid mistakes, make more consistent calls, and do a better job. I don’t have to make any of this up – this is what happens on the pitch.

Quote of the Week:

“Was this last week’s Blog again?”

From multiple alert readers who noticed I missed changing the date last week.

Good News – USSF Entry Referee Courses Return to In Person

I was pleasantly surprised to see that USSF is returning to in-person Entry Referee training after a few years of trying to do it remotely with computer programs.  One of the major problems I saw was that the computer courses spent as much time discussing abuse identification as they did how to be a referee.  And honestly, that was too much of the former and way too little of the latter of those two subjects.

I’m thinking back to when I originally got patched with USSF.  I’d already been patched with SAY (Soccer Association for Youth) and had taken their tests, but USSF was a much stronger course and test.  I passed the USSF test but felt the gems I got from the instructors were so worthwhile, I signed up for the full class the following year, and the year after that.  I mined understanding from those classes which had incredible instructors like Tom Landi, or Bill Geiza, or Hugo Kammerer, which I think made me a better official.

Perhaps this was intended as a bridging strategy to get through COVID, and not what it originally seemed to be, which was a way to cut costs and still patch officials adapting to the new “online for everything” approach.  Unfortunately, it’s difficult to do that in as short of the class as US Soccer provided, and the videos were so small that they were truly useless in most cases.  Contrast that with classes that used a combination of videos on a large projection screen and PowerPoint presentations to hit the right marks.

Instead, we got some fantasy land where referees talk about what they have seen on previous games with the crew in the hour before the match?  Where did that come from?  Most of us are lucky if we see the same teams twice in a season, and sometimes even on high level games, referees arrive within 10 minutes of the game start, not an hour.

It seems that the new classes are field sessions.  Perhaps the interaction with referee mentors and coaches will imbue the entry level referees with the right “stuff” that the original in-person classes did – it’s hard to say until we see what is going to happen at the classes.

Still, from what I have seen with “entry level computer patched” USSF officials, some of whom could not recognize a clear and obvious foul when it happened right in front of them, I am hoping this new in person training will at least close some of those knowledge gaps.

I also hope that the various State organizations will strongly suggest that unless a referee has been mentored, if they were an Initial (digital no training class) referee in the last few years that they attend an entry level session.  Using that approach, we can close out some of these performance gaps, and start to truly develop the referee pool towards their potential.

This Week’s Question – I Want to Hold You

On a recent State Cup Soccer Game…..

This is a very organized and precise game.  No scoring yet, just because of the effectiveness of the defense, and some great saves by the goalkeeper on Team A.

It’s 15 minutes into the first half, and you see A11 harassing B28 who has possession of the ball.  It looks legal, but you clearly see A11 grab B28 for a second and hold them near the mid field line, but B28 breaks loose and starts to move.

As you think B28 will prevail, you see A11 grab B28 again, and this time you see the jersey get pulled out as B28 starts to move away.

You Make the Call:

What is the call?

What is the restart?

Last Week’s Question: – Have a Nice Trip!

On a recent State Cup Soccer Game…..

This is a very organized and precise game.  The score was 1-0 at the half, but the home team has scored several times since then.

B10 is trying to clear the ball, and A17 is in hot pursuit.  A17 attempts to strip the ball from B10 legally, but B10 is able to evade her.  You next see A17 try to tackle the ball away from B10, but her tackle is way off, and actually strikes another Team B player, missing the ball completely as B10 has cleared it to the midfield line where B22 is there to collect it and head towards Team A’s goal.

You Make the Call:

What is the Call?

What is the Restart?

What You Said:

Referee 1:

Some choices;

Apply advantage and see what happens and depending on the defender’s sloppy tackle, then wait for a stoppage of play and handle this with a verbal “don’t be doing that again” or a card depending on the secureness of the foul.

Or, stop play and take care of business. Advantage doesn’t usually happen unless in the attacking third but be aware of the potential from the position you applied it.

Referee 2:

Tripping is a foul, even if it’s to the wrong player. Aw, shucks. DFK.

Referee 3:

Was the tackle reckless? If yes, A17 deserves a cation. If the other team B player was harmed this could be a dismissal.

BUT – B has the ball on the attack, so for now make it clear you saw the tackle and call loudly “Advantage” (and signal). At the next opportunity get back to A17. Restart will depend on how the game was stopped after the advantage.

The Answer:

Did A17 make an out-of-control tackle?

Yes.

Did A17 make contact with the ball?

No.

Did A17 make contact with an opponent?

Yes.

A17 has committed a Direct Free Kick foul against Team B.  However, the ball is with B22 and heading towards Team A’s goal.

So, ADVANTAGE, PLAY ON (raise 1 or 2 arms) and allow play to continue.

Remember, if a goal is scored and you want to penalize or Caution A17, you have to do it before the ensuing Kickoff.

What if the advantage doesn’t play out?  Then if it’s close in time to the foul (within a few seconds), call it back and address A17’s foul / Caution and issue the correct restart – A Direct Free Kick to Team B at the point where A17 kicked a Team B player.

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog – Volume 14 Issue 28 – Have a Nice Trip!

July 9, 2022

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog

Sharpening Referee Knowledge and Judgment, One Week at a Time

Volume 14, Issue 28 – July 10 2022

Please forward this Blog to your fellow soccer officials or tell them about it.  This is one of the tools we can use to keep sharp during the year.

The purpose of this Blog is so we can all learn from each other’s experience and by doing so, avoid mistakes, make more consistent calls, and do a better job. I don’t have to make any of this up – this is what happens on the pitch.

Quote of the Week:

“I’m not very impressed with your noise levels.  Can we get a lot louder?”

From a color commentator on a State Cup Game – he was right, the crowd was pretty quiet.

Double-Booked?

I got a game assignment yesterday, and had to look at it twice.  First, Arbiter wouldn’t show my blocks.  I checked the next day, and my blocks were back.

Checking my schedule, I was already booked on that date (I have 3 assignors who don’t use Arbiter) and had it blocked in Arbiter already, so I had to return it.  When you have to return a game, remember to include the reason why you returned it.

September will be interesting – I’m booked almost every day of the week.  I have put some blocks in for recovery time, and have some small field middle school games mixed in, to allow me to rest my legs a bit so I don’t get hurt.

State Cup Action

I’ve been fortunate to be assigned to several State Cup games at the U23 level as the 4th Official.  It’s an excellent opportunity to see high level games and equally high level officials in action, and it has provided some good Quotes for the blog, as well as some good situations.  It was also good to observe the tools they use for game management, one of which is outstanding fitness.

If you get a chance, pay your $5 and go watch one of these games.  They move very quickly, and the level of play is very high which makes the game quite interesting and enjoyable to watch.

This Week’s Question – Have a Nice Trip!

On a recent State Cup Soccer Game…..

This is a very organized and precise game.  The score was 1-0 at the half, but the home team has scored several times since then.

B10 is trying to clear the ball, and A17 is in hot pursuit.  A17 attempts to strip the ball from B10 legally, but B10 is able to evade her.  You next see A17 try to tackle the ball away from B10, but her tackle is way off, and actually strikes another Team B player, missing the ball completely as B10 has cleared it to the midfield line where B22 is there to collect it and head towards Team A’s goal.

You Make the Call:

What is the call?

What is the restart?

Last Week’s Question: – I can get it – I can get it – Oops!

On a recent Soccer Game…..

The ball is flying back and forth across the field so much that you think a game of Bombardment broke out, but no, it’s just weak soccer.

B1 had finally taken possession of the ball and is bringing the ball over the midfield line, heading into Team A’s end.  A39 sees this, and is moving rapidly to intercept, but B1 gets past him.

You see A39 reach for B1, but A39 looks back and sees you in hot pursuit, and the arm drops before the foul happens.  You smile, knowing your fitness (and large footfalls) helped avoid a foul.

Now you see A39 angle to put the majority of his body between you and B1.  You quickly change your angle and see A39 start to reach and then again see you and stop.

B1 is nearly at the Team A penalty area, so A39 moves AGAIN to block you, and you see A39 reach and grab B1’s arm just as B1 steps into the Team A Penalty area, and by doing so, successfully pulls B1 to the ground causing B1 to lose possession of the ball to A11, who was a defender coming towards B1.

You Make the Call:

What is the Call?

What is the Restart?

What You Said:

Referee 1:

At first I would be calling out such things as don’t hold, play the ball etc. ‘

I would also be telling my assistant referees to watch that particular defender and make sure that defender hears me so he knows all eyes are on him or her.

Lastly we have a hold in the penalty area. PK

Also, perhaps a caution for the defender.

The prior potential fouls I cannot punish for what I thought he/she might do such as in this case a hold but I actually have to see the foul.

Referee 2:

Blow the whistle.

A couple of things here: A stern warning that you are aware of A39’s tactics and are watching for them. A quick comment to your ARs on that too.

You could show a caution for PI, but I would wait on that to see if the behavior persists.

Then there is a foul. Since B1 stepped into the penalty area the illegal challenge is a penal foul.

Award a PK to team B.

Referee 3:

Yup, you got the grab. Since it’s in the box, it’s a PK.

The Answer:

Where did the foul occur?  Inside the Penalty Area.

Was it a Penal Foul?  Yes, by all codes, this was a Penal Foul.

The restart has to be a Penalty Kick to Team B.

Now what do we have for misconduct?

A11 was coming towards B1, so it’s not Denial of a Goal Scoring Opportunity.  With that said, this is a Cautionable offense for the effort, and you could argue Persistent Infringement from the stream of fouls your fitness prevented.

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog – Volume 14 Issue 27 – I can get it – I can get it – Oops!

July 3, 2022

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog

Sharpening Referee Knowledge and Judgment, One Week at a Time

Volume 14, Issue 27 – July 3, 2022

Please forward this Blog to your fellow soccer officials or tell them about it.  This is one of the tools we can use to keep sharp during the year.

The purpose of this Blog is so we can all learn from each other’s experience and by doing so, avoid mistakes, make more consistent calls, and do a better job. I don’t have to make any of this up – this is what happens on the pitch.

Quote of the Week:

“I’m not sure why the referee called that – it didn’t look like a foul.  At least he didn’t compound it by issuing a Caution.”

From a color commentator on a MLS game, where tackle of the ball was clearly careless, and the referee sanctioned it.  Contrasting the other tackle, which was clearly reckless and resulted in a well-deserved Caution.

Happy Fourth of July

Think for a few minutes what the Fourth of July is all about.

Celebrate it.  Enjoy it.  Revel in it.  We are one of the only truly free nations in the world.

This Week’s Question – I can get it – I can get it – Oops!

On a recent Soccer Game…..

The ball is flying back and forth across the field so much that you think a game of Bombardment broke out, but no, it’s just weak soccer.

B1 had finally taken possession of the ball and is bringing the ball over the midfield line, heading into Team A’s end.  A39 sees this, and is moving rapidly to intercept, but B1 gets past him.

You see A39 reach for B1, but A39 looks back and sees you in hot pursuit, and the arm drops before the foul happens.  You smile, knowing your fitness (and large footfalls) helped avoid a foul.

Now you see A39 angle to put the majority of his body between you and B1.  You quickly change your angle and see A39 start to reach and then again see you and stop.

B1 is nearly at the Team A penalty area, so A39 moves AGAIN to block you, and you see A39 reach and grab B1’s arm just as B1 steps into the Team A Penalty area, and by doing so, successfully pulls B1 to the ground causing B1 to lose possession of the ball to A11, who was a defender coming towards B1.

You Make the Call:

What is the call?

What is the restart?

Last Week’s Question: – Halftime Stupidity

On a recent Soccer Game…..

It’s halftime.  You have done 3 miles on the first half.  You know both teams, so you have been calling the game closely to keep it from getting out of control.  So far, it seems to be working.

As you and your crew enjoy some water on the 99 deg F day, B49 approaches the referee team, and provides a loud proclamation that you and the other refs have no business working games at this level, because you are calling too many fouls.

He ends his tirade by loudly stating (enough for both benches to hear) “We know what we are doing, you idiot.  Let us play.”

You Make the Call:

What is the Call?

What is the Restart?

What You Said:

Referee 1:

Dissent, yellow card to B49.

Normal restart since the game was not in progress.

Referee 2:

Ahhhh, a relaxing moment that ends with an ejection!

Dissent like this cannot be tolerated at any game level.

Enjoy the moment but don’t show emotions, just a professional show that Dissent isn’t a part of the game!

Referee 3:

Personal, provocative- RED CARD! We as a group have to stop putting up with this bad behavior. To allow it is to condone it.

Team B does NOT play short as the send off occurred at half time.

Thanks for keeping us on our toes!

Referee 4:

First thought: Dissent, so Yellow Card.

Second thought, Abuse of officials, loud and public, so Red Card.

I’ll vote for the second. Let him watch the second half from the bench.

The Answer:

Yes, this is clearly dissent, but what else is it?

Was it Public? Yes.

Was it Provocative? Yes.

Was it PERSONAL? Yes.

So this is MORE than just dissent – it’s abusive language.  Show a Red Card to B49 and send them off for Abusive Language.

Now this is half time – does Team B play short?  No, they get to play at full strength.  If this happened while the game was in progress, Team B would play short.

How about the Restart?

It was Halftime.  Nothing changes the Restart – so it’s a kickoff at the start of the Second Half.

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog – Volume 14 Issue 26 – Halftime Stupidity

June 26, 2022

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog

Sharpening Referee Knowledge and Judgment, One Week at a Time

Volume 14, Issue 26 – June 26, 2022

Please forward this Blog to your fellow soccer officials or tell them about it.  This is one of the tools we can use to keep sharp during the year.

The purpose of this Blog is so we can all learn from each other’s experience and by doing so, avoid mistakes, make more consistent calls, and do a better job. I don’t have to make any of this up – this is what happens on the pitch.

Quote of the Week:

“Hand ball is the call, and a PK is awarded.”

From a color commentator on a EPL game, where the ball was kicked into the defender’s hand by a member of the offense at close range, with the defender’s hand held close to the body.

Which means it shouldn’t have been a PK.

This Week’s Question – Halftime Stupidity

On a recent Soccer Game…..

It’s halftime.  You have done 3 miles on the first half.  You know both teams, so you have been calling the game closely to keep it from getting out of control.  So far, it seems to be working.

As you and your crew enjoy some water on the 99 deg F day, B49 approaches the referee team, and provides a loud proclamation that you and the other refs have no business working games at this level, because you are calling too many fouls.

He ends his tirade by loudly stating (enough for both benches to hear) “We know what we are doing, you idiot.  Let us play.”

You Make the Call:

What is the call?

What is the restart?

Last Week’s Question: – No, Wait a Second

On a recent Soccer Game…..

You have two teams working hard to score, and not succeeding.

With the ball being played at midfield, you are AR2 and see A22 running along the goal line outside of the field of play near Team B’s penalty area.  Unexpectedly, you then see Goalkeeper B00 while on the field of play and in his penalty area, extends a leg and trips A22.

A22 goes sprawling to the ground.

You Make the Call:

What is the Call?

What is the Restart?

What You Said:

Referee 1:

Well, we have two issues.  Being off the field of play which is card worthy, then the trip.

If you don’t card, then you have to call a PK for the trip however there’s the being off the field and I would think the players doing that were seeking to gain an advantage.

Thus choose your call!

For me, the players leaving the field of play started the mess.

Referee 2:

The tripping is not in question. The problem is the circumstances:

1) Is A22 a player or a substitute?

2) Where did the tripping occur? (On the field of play or not?)

If A22 is a player, left the field of play without permission, not in the normal course of play, that is a cautionable offence (US) or if A22 is a substitute and enters the field of play without permission that is also a caution (US). Either way, the keeper has tripped an opponent, while the keeper was in the penalty area.

Get the attention of the center, stop the game as soon as possible. Inform the center of the offense (or offenses).

Restart:

– offense occurred off the field of play, restart is a dropped ball from the position of the ball at the time play was stopped.

– offense occurred on the field of play, restart is a DFK which in this case would be a PK

The Answer:

A bit of a mind-bender last week – I hope you looked up the rules.

Was the Keeper B00 in his Penalty Area?  Yes.

Did B00 commit a Penal Foul?  Yes, Tripping – a Penal Foul in all codes.

But A22 was off the field of play.  It doesn’t matter, except for the misconduct.

The ball was nowhere near B00 and A22, so this is Violent Conduct.  B00 isn’t trying to play the ball.  Nope, not at all.

So, you are Sending Off with a Red Card B00 for Violent Conduct.

And awarding a Penalty Kick to Team A due to B00 committing the foul while in his penalty area.

Remember the key words which is present in all codes: “Regardless of the position of the ball.”

Now, what do we do with the player off the field?

There isn’t enough detail provided to tell if this was a short run, or had been going on.  So for now, I’d let that go – the real issue is the Violent Conduct.  You might want to have a discussion with A22 to see why they were doing that.

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog – Volume 14 Issue 25 – No, Wait a Second

June 18, 2022

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog

Sharpening Referee Knowledge and Judgment, One Week at a Time

Volume 14, Issue 25 – June 19, 2022

Please forward this Blog to your fellow soccer officials or tell them about it.  This is one of the tools we can use to keep sharp during the year.

The purpose of this Blog is so we can all learn from each other’s experience and by doing so, avoid mistakes, make more consistent calls, and do a better job. I don’t have to make any of this up – this is what happens on the pitch.

Quote of the Week:

“That’s CLEARLY a FOUL!  CALL IT!”

From a coach on a soccer game that didn’t understand what a legal charge was.

And then the Dam Broke….

For some reason, the fall season is slow in getting assignments.  I had a total of maybe 6 games, then yesterday I got 12 more – bang.  Then 10 more.  Amazing.

This Week’s Question – No, Wait a Second

On a recent Soccer Game…..

You have two teams working hard to score, and not succeeding.

With the ball being played at midfield, you are AR2 and see A22 running along the goal line outside of the field of play near Team B’s penalty area.  Unexpectedly, you then see Goalkeeper B00 while on the field of play and in his penalty area, extends a leg and trips A22.

A22 goes sprawling to the ground.

You Make the Call:

What is the call?

What is the restart?

Last Week’s Question: – Push Tag

On a recent MWPL Soccer Game…..

You have two adult teams battling it out.  The second half is escalating in intensity as the visiting team tries to catch up.

In this case, the home Team A player A81 is on the offensive and has brought the ball forward into the Team B end, just outside of the Penalty Area.  B13 is right with him and is providing fair challenges in an attempt to strip the ball.

A81, sensing an opening, gives B13 enough of a shove to cause B13 to lose balance and direction, and then A81 turns inbounds around B13 towards the Team B goal.

You Make the Call:

What is the Call?

What is the Restart?

What You Said:

Referee 1:

A push is a push. Blow the whistle. DFK for B

Referee 2:

Looks like A81 started it. Call the foul since the defender was taken out of the play. DFK to Team B.

The Answer:

This is a simple push in the back to make space and time – time for the player from the offense to get around the really good defender.

The Center had excellent game awareness and positioning, and as a result saw this and called it promptly.  After he made the call, he had a chat with the player who did this to let them know it wasn’t appreciated.  That stopped the behavior.

The restart is a Direct Free Kick to Team B at the point of the push.

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog – Volume 14 Issue 24 – Push Tag

June 11, 2022

The Weekly Soccer Referee Blog

Sharpening Referee Knowledge and Judgment, One Week at a Time

Volume 14, Issue 24 – June 12, 2022

Please forward this Blog to your fellow soccer officials or tell them about it.  This is one of the tools we can use to keep sharp during the year.

The purpose of this Blog is so we can all learn from each other’s experience and by doing so, avoid mistakes, make more consistent calls, and do a better job. I don’t have to make any of this up – this is what happens on the pitch.

Quote of the Week:

“Oh come on, how could that player not be offside!”

From a coach on a high level mens soccer game, who clearly missed his defender playing the ball before it went to the player in the offside position from the offense.

This Week’s ISRC Webinar – Featuring Ben Mueller

Overture, hit the lights – this is it, he’ll hit the heights!

Ben Mueller, a USSF instructor, assessor (er, referee mentor) referee, IHSA referee and former DeKalb assignor, will be presenting (with someone else) Player Management on Monday, June 20th ay 7:15 pm.  If you are a USSF referee, you should have got a note on this.

Please try to attend and support Ben!

This Week’s Question – Push Tag

On a recent MWPL Soccer Game…..

You have two adult teams battling it out.  The second half is escalating in intensity as the visiting team tries to catch up.

In this case, the home Team A player A81 is on the offensive and has brought the ball forward into the Team B end, just outside of the Penalty Area.  B13 is right with him and is providing fair challenges in an attempt to strip the ball.

A81, sensing an opening, gives B13 enough of a shove to cause B13 to lose balance and direction, and then A81 turns inbounds around B13 towards the Team B goal.

You Make the Call:

What is the call?

What is the restart?

Last Week’s Question: – A Push in the Back and then OWWW!

On a recent MWPL Soccer Game…..

You have two adult teams battling it out.  The chippy-ness is starting to rise in the second half, and the Center is using his voice and cautions to keep the game under control.

You see Player A21 going up for a header, and you see Player B9 behind them going up as well.  You see B9 push A21 in the back as they go up, with A21 making good contact on the ball regardless of the push.

B9 as he lands, collapses to the ground, grabbing at his knee.  You have a clear look between the two players – A21 did nothing to B9, and no other players touched B9.

You Make the Call:

What is the Call?

What is the Restart?

What You Said:

Referee 1:

Direct free kick to team A for the pushing, and deal with B9 faking an injury appropriately. You may decide to caution, but that is entirely up to you.

Every situation is different. If he gets right up I might be inclined to reach for the pocket.

Referee 2:

A push in the back when one is vulnerable can cause serious harm.

In this case depending on field location you can apply advantage or call the foul. Either way this type of physical contact must be addressed.

Either a stern warning or card however do something.

Call the trainer!

The Answer:

Unlike last week which was something, this week we have a defender pushing a player from the offense who still maintains control, but when the player from the Defense falls, they get hurt.

It turns out the defender B9 felt something go in his knee as he landed.  Owwww!  He stayed down, the Center stopped play noting who had possession first, called the trainer on to the field, and B9 was helped off the field.  The team was out of subs, so they played short for the last 10 minutes of the match.

There was nothing here worth calling.

The center checked with his ARs – and as nobody saw anything, the restart was a drop ball to Team A who was in possession at the point play was stopped to address the injury.