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Commonly Misunderstood Referee Calls

Commonly Misunderstood Referee Calls:
There are some soccer rules that are not well understood, especially if you're new to soccer.  The following are explanations for the most commonly misunderstood rules. 

For more information:   Click HERE for a copy of IFAB Laws of the Game 

Ball Out of Play
Shoulder Tackle
Advantage Rule
Indirect Kick
Slide Tackle

HANDLING (Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct)
HANDLING is when, in the referee's judgement, a player uses his/her arms deliberately intending to control the ball or has placed his/her arms up where contact with the ball is likely.  The key word is deliberate.
•'Hand' includes all of the arm from the fingers to the shoulder.  
•Does not apply to goalkeeper in own penalty area.  
•Instinctive, self-protection reactions are not penalized in younger players.  
•Accidental contact - ball striking hand or arm - is not an offense and is not penalized, even if a benefit is realized.  

The Referee is the sole judge of whether or not a player deliberately handles the ball.

A DFK (Direct Free Kick) is awarded when a hand ball foul is committed. 

OFFSIDE (Law 11): Remember - it's 'Offside' not 'Offsides'.
This is a hard to understand rule as it involves multiple parts.  A player is offside when:
1.  They are past the second-to-last defender (goalie is the last defender)
2.  The attacker is in the opposing half (can't be offside in your own half)
3.  The call is made based on the players position at the moment the ball was passed
4.  The player is actively involved in the play

OFFSIDE POSITION and OFFSIDE are not the same.  It is not against the rules to be merely in offside position.  It is against the rules to beoffside.

OFFSIDE POSITION - A player is in an offside position if:
•the player is in the opponents' half of the field, and
•the player is closer to the opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent.

A player is not in an offside position if the player is:
•in his or her own half of the field of play, or
•even with or behind the ball, or
•even with the second-to-last opponent, or the last two opponents.

OFFSIDE - With certain exceptions, a player in an offside position becomes offside if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by a teammate, the player, in the opinion of the referee, is involved in active play by:
•interfering with play, or
•interfering with an opponent, or
•gaining an advantage by being in that offside position

EXCEPTIONS - Although in an offside position, a player is not offside if the player receives the ball directly from a:
•goal kick, or
•throw-in, or
•corner kick

The position of the player at the moment the ball is played by a teammate determines whether the player may be called offside.  For example, a player positioned onside at the moment the ball is played by a teammate does not become offside by running to an offside position while the ball is in flight.

The Referee may or may not declare a violation of the Offside Law depending upon his/her judgement of the circumstances.

BALL OUT of PLAY (Law 9):
The ball is out of play when: 
•it has wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the air  or 
•play has been stopped by the referee.  

The ball is in play at all other times, including when it rebounds off a match official, goalpost, crossbar or corner flag post and remains in the field of play.

It is the position of the ball, and not that of the player, which determines when the ball is out of play.  This concept is somewhat foreign since the reverse is true in other popular sports such as football and basketball.  It is also sometimes difficult to resist the temptation to think that ball is out of play when it touches a goal line or touch line but we need to remember that the entire ball must cross the line before it is out.  

The ball is out of bounds on the person it touches last, not the last person to kick it. 
The throw in goes to the opposing team.

Soccer is a contact sport and sometime physical contact is specifically allowed.  A shoulder tackle is where two opposing players are running near a playable ball and one uses shoulder-to-shoulder contact to push his opponent off the ball.  This is a non-reckless "fair charge" and perfectly legal.

The advantage rule is when the referee allows play to go on despite a minor foul, when it's to the advantage of the team in possession.  This is sometimes confused with the referee missing a foul.  

An example would be where a defender pushes an attacking player who then falls, but the attacking team keeps the ball and is in position to score.  Calling the foul would actually hurt the attacking team.

In a game, a foul is called and players set up for a free kick.  The attacking team shoots and the ball goes directly into the net.  The referee indicates "No Goal" and the defending team gets the ball.  What happened?

An indirect free kick is given generally for non-reckless fouls or rule violations.  The free kick is awarded but in this case must touch another player before a goal can be scored.

Memphis REGION 955 SLIDE TACKLING IS ONLY PERMITTED AT 12U or ABOVE.  A foul can be called when the play is dangerous, like when the defender makes contact with the opponent before he/she makes contact with the ball, or make the tackle 'cleats up'.

Region 955 does not allow slide tackling in 10U and under because players in these younger age groups lack the skills to consistently do it the correct way, and have increased risk of injury.

Challenging or Harassing the Referee

Being vocally critical of the Referee is not allowed at AYSO games -it's not ok for coaches, spectators or players - for any reason - at any time.   Referees are VOLUNTEERS who are doing their best to provide a fun and fair experience for our children, and they really don't need spectator assistance.  Being a Referee means you are constantly making judgement calls - and it's 100% their call to make.  

It is reasonable to want your child/team to have a great experience.  It is not reasonable or helpful for you to 'assist' by shouting at the Referee during a game.  It's upsetting to the players, other parents, the volunteer referee, and it DOES NOT HELP.  Solution:  the Referee Administrator welcomes a discussion of your concerns AFTER the game, in a private setting. Your concerns will be listened to and addressed.

Region 955 Referee Administrator

Referee Questions or Concerns? 

At this time, Region 955 is actively seeking Referees.

If you are interested in potentially refereeing for our region, please reach out to [email protected].

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AYSO Region 955 - Memphis and Surrounding Areas

PO Box 610 
Memphis, Michigan 48041

Email Us: [email protected]
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