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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When is AYSO Referee in proper uniform?
A: Referee team (Referee, 2 Assistant Referees) should have same color shirt with an AYSO badge, referee shorts, black referee socks pulled up, and black shoes. Hats can be worn but should be all black with no logos. It is suggested that if one referee needs a hat, the whole should wear the hat.

Q: What is a Center Referee?
A: 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). There are two Assistant Referees, one on each side of the field, covering half the field. The Referee is positioned on the field and is in charge of the game and makes the decisions. The two Assistant Referees who run half of the touchline on each side of the field, indicate offside, out of bounds, goal kick, corner kick, fouls, etc. The Referee can then whistle the stoppage of play and make a call at his discretion. He can accept it and call it, or wave it down, based on what he saw or allows. The referee should have continual eye contact with his Assistant Referees.

Q: Can an Assistant Referee call fouls?
A: NO. The Assistant Referee can raise their flag to indicate a foul, misconduct, offside offense, and especially fouls in the Penalty Area that have been committed out of the Referee's view. The Referee will generally call it, but may consult with the Assistant Referee on the call before it is decided. If it was in the Penalty Area, it will/should surely be discussed. Before the game, the Referee should give 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.

Q: Which hand should the Assistant Referee use to raise the flag?
A: The Assistant Referee always keeps the flag in his left hand when facing the field, in view of the referee, or always on the side of the field depending on which way he is walking, jogging or running down the touchline. The right hand is used to raise the flag. Throw-in for attacker, Offside, Goal Kick, Corner Kick, and Foul by defender. Two Exceptions: The left hand is used for a Throw-in and Foul by attacker. The flags should always exchange hands, below the waist.

Q: What should the Referee do when a goal is scored?
A: Look to his Assistant Referee to confirm first (no flag up). Upon eye contact, his Lead Assistant Referee should be jogging up the touchline to confirm its a goal. The Referee should then point to the kickoff mark located at the center of the field where the restart will take place. 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.

Q: What should an Assistant Referee do when a goal is scored?
A: When eye contact with the Referee is established, run/jog up the touchline with the flag in his right hand pointing down along his side.

Q: What is a Club Linesman?
A: Usually a parent, who is not certified, and is only allowed to indicate when the ball goes out of bounds by raising his flag straight up. He does not provide direction of throw or any other calls. A Club Linesman could also be a certified referee who is not in uniform. Only certified referees, in uniform, can perform the duties of an AR-Assistant Referee.

Q: What is a pre-game instruction?
A: Before a game, the Referee provides pre-game instructions to his Assistant Referees on how he wants the game controlled, what is expected. (ie; foul to indicate, offside more important than in and out of bounds, follow the ball to the goal line, indicating fouls in the Penalty Area, all for better communication, and a better game.

Q: What should a Referee do at player check-in?
A: 1) Check for proper equipment; shoes, shin guards, socks over shin guards, shorts, 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 older games, such as U14 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, you are not the coach. You will have lost their attention after the first couple minutes. They just want to play!

Q: What are the names of the boxes on the field?
A: 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.

Q: What is ADVANTAGE?
A: If a foul or misconduct occurs, but the Referee thinks the attacking team will actually benefit from continuing to play, the Referee will hold his hands open above his head and extended out in front of himself, and say "Advantage, 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 CARD, it can still be given before a restart, and at the next stoppage of play. An advantage after an advantage can also be called. If another foul occurs after an Advantage is called, the more serious of the two fouls should be called.

Q: Can a player play a ball on the ground?
A: 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. Same call if a player puts themselves in harm's way, when they are not on the ground, such as lowering your head/face to where an opponent is kicking the ball, or putting yourself in danger when a player is going to head the ball.

Q: Does the ball have to leave the Penalty Area on a goal kick and free kicks?
A: YES. No other player can play the ball before it has wholly left the Penalty Area. If it does not wholly leave the Penalty Area, the goal kick or free kick is retaken. A free kick includes both IFK-Indirect Free Kick and DFK-Direct Free Kick. No opponents are allowed in the Penalty Area when the ball is being kicked. The ball is not in play till it has left the Penalty Area. If the defending 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 or enters the Penalty Area before the ball is in play (it must wholly exit the Penalty Area), 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.

Q: Can the goalkeeper leave the Penalty Area?
A: 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 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 line. If the ball is wholly over the PA-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 DFK-Direct Free Kick 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 PA-Penalty Area with his 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 goal line, but the ball is still in his hand, and in the PA-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 PA-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.

Q: If the goalkeeper has possession of the ball, drops it on the ground, and then picks it back up, is that an offense?
A: 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 REC U8-U10, especially when they accidentally drop it, you would want to allow it, and educate the keeper). It would be an IFK-Indirect Free Kick 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, 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, IFK-Indirect Free Kick. If the goalkkeeper deflects a slow ball they could have surely caught (parrying) and then picks it up, it is a second touch, IFK-Indirect Free Kick for the opponent.

Q: Can I change goalkeepers any time I want? 
A: Only at 1) stoppage of play, 2) you must notify 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.

Q: Can you be penalized for being in an OFFSIDE POSITION? 
A: 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, AND 2) closer to the opponents goal line than the ball, AND 3) closer to the opponents goal line than the second to last opponent (including the opponents goalkeeper). It is an OFFSIDE OFFENSE when, a player is in an OFFSIDE POSITION, and when the ball is kicked by a teammate, 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 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 IFK-Indirect Free Kick should be awarded to the opponent. He was in an OFFSIDE POSITION when the ball was kicked by his teammate.

Q: When is a player in an OFFSIDE POSITION? 
A: 1) On his opponents half of the field, 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, and it is NOT an OFFSIDE OFFENSE.

Q: When is a player definitely NOT penalized for being OFFSIDE? 
A: 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.

Q: Can you be OFFSIDE on a punt from your own goalkeeper? 
A: YES. If you are in an OFFSIDE POSITION, when the ball is kicked/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 side of the field, or ONSIDE on his opponents half of the field, when the ball was kicked (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 kicked 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 kicked, no offense. Typically, in U12 and up, it is easier to watch your offside line and LISTEN for ball being kicked.

Q: If a player is in an OFFSIDE POSITION, and runs ONSIDE to play a ball played from his ONSIDE teammate, is that an OFFSIDE OFFENSE? 
A: YES. The player was in an OFFSIDE POSITION when the ball was kicked by his teammate. It does not matter that he ran ONSIDE to get it, or even to his own half of the field. It is an IFK-Indirect Free Kick for their opponent from where the OFFSIDE player was when the ball was kicked by his teammate.

Q: An attacker kicks the ball and it deflects off a defender, then onto an attacker in an OFFSIDE POSITION. Is that an OFFSIDE OFFENSE? 
A: YES. OFFSIDE. If it is not "controlled and possessed" by the defender, and then played by the attacker in an OFFSIDE POSITION, or that player interferes with play or an opponent, it is an OFFSIDE OFFENSE. IFK-Indirect Free Kick for their opponent. This even includes a deflection off of a goalkeeper to an offside player. If the goalkeeper did not have possession or control of the ball and it is then played by an OFFSIDE attacker, it is OFFSIDE.

Q: What should the Assistant Referee do when he sees an OFFSIDE OFFENSE? 
A: If it is clearly an OFFSIDE OFFENSE, the AR should raise his flag straight up in the air, with his right hand, and stand where the OFFSIDE player was when the ball was kicked by his teammate. The flag should continue to remain straight up. When the Referee acknowledges the OFFSIDE and blows his whistle to stop play, the AR should point his flag towards the field at one of three angles, for where the OFFSIDE occured. 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 AR, the AR should continue to hold the flag up until the ball is clearly in control of the defending team. If a goal is scored, the Referee should always look at his AR for confirmation of the goal before awarding a goal, as he may see you with your flag up. The goal may be disallowed, and an IFK-Indirect Free Kick awarded to the opponent. The Referee may discuss it with the AR. Note: The Referee could wave your OFFSIDE indication down. 1) The Referee disagrees with the indication and makes the final decision, 2) The Referee lets the goalkeeper have the advantage of picking up the ball for a punt or 3) the ball has clearly changed possession and direction towards the other half of the field.

Q: Where is the ball placed on an OFFSIDE OFFENSE? 
A: The ball is placed where the OFFSIDE player was when the ball was first kicked by his teammate, no matter how far the player or the ball has traveled down the field. It is an IFK-Indirect Free Kick for the opposing team.

Q: If a throw-in never goes into play, is it always a retake? 
A: 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, 2) part of each foot on or behind the 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 1 yard). 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 U8, the Referee can & should allow a second chance for a player after a brief instruction. They are learning. Let them play!

Q: Can a player take a free kick immediately? 
A: 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, and the encroacher could possibly be cautioned with a YELLOW card for failing to respect the required distance.

Q: Can a goal be scored directly from a KICK-OFF or GOAL-KICK? 
A: 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. Referee blows the whistle to let attackers know they can start, and after the ball is kicked and moves forward, it is in play. No opponents can enter the center circle until the ball is kicked and moves forward.

Q: Can a goal be scored directly from a DROPPED BALL? 
A: NO. The ball is dropped, and when it touches the ground, it is in play, but must be touched again before a goal can be scored. So... no goal.

Q: Can a goal be scored from a THROW-IN? 
A: NO. If an attacker throws it directly into his opponents goal, it is a goal kick. If a defender throws it directly into his own goal, it is a corner kick. NOTE THESE SCENARIOS: 1) If an attacker performs a throw-in towards his opponents 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 own goal, and his goalkeeper touches it in any way, and the ball crosses the goal line, IT IS A GOAL. (If the goalkeeper touched it with his hands, it is a deliberate passback offense, and it would be a foul awarded with an IFK-Indirect Free Kick, but you would apply ADVANTAGE, and award the goal.)

Q: Can a player call, yell, or scream at an opponent in any way, or call for an opponent to pass him the ball? 
A: NO. The player should be cautioned with a YELLOW CARD for USB-Unsporting Behavior, and an IFK-Indirect Free Kick is awarded to the opponent from where the cautioned player was when he yelled or deceived the opponent. Note: U10 & below, we do not card.

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