Category Archives: Blog

Do you execute Law or Apply Law? Part 1

IFAB this summer published a new set of Laws which have been re-written so the world knows the Laws and they designed them to make our lives easier!
I’m all for an easier life but recently I had a lawyer sitting in one of my lectures and she said that the sentences stating that “a goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball when bouncing it on the ground or throwing it in the air” means that a goalkeeper can throw the ball 65 feet in the air and be considered to be in control.
The next sentence says: A goalkeeper cannot be challenged by an opponent when in control of the ball with the hands.
What would you do if the goalkeeper throws the ball that far in the air and is challenged by an opponent?
The reason I ask is a simple one: too many referees are stuck at Level 4 and I get told that “but the observer backed them”.
If you’re correct in Law of course the observer must back you, he cannot state incorrect Law. However, you have to ask “did the clubs back me or even understand what I was doing?
Thankfully I’ve never seen a goalkeeper throw the ball in the air to retain control, so it is safe to talk about it but the question you must ask (if you want to get on in the game as a referee) is: what do the clubs want?
In our example everybody would think the goalkeeper can be challenged fairly if throwing the ball 65 feet in the air, so if you give the goalkeeper a free kick and tell them that it is illegal to challenge the goalkeeper they will think you’re mad and punish you via your marks.
Don’t allow that – by all means give a foul on the goalkeeper and probably warn him that’s the last time “I’m getting you out of jail!”
Now you’ve applied Law correctly, you’ve not alienated the clubs and hopefully you’re on your way up. Of course, when you get on Match of the Day and they can refer to those Laws in the 6 hours between the match and the show being aired you may have to do it differently.
In the meantime, apply law throughout with a modicum of “what does the game expect?” rather than just executing Law.

When you think you’ve heard it all before someone says…

I thought after all the time I’ve been refereeing and coaching I’d heard it all. How wrong I am.

At a Senior referees training evening – we had the Chairman of a local Senior League speaking to us and he said something I’d not heard before and something that had me sitting up and listening to.

He said that the people involved in the game thought football was an “action game”.

Now let that sentence wash over your mind and see where it takes you.

Football is an “action game” – and when you think about it clubs don’t practice inaction, do they? They practice acts!

Okay, there are times when we need to slow the game down to allow the boiling tempers to subside, but equally we have to be aware when we’re taking our time and the players (teams) want to get on with the action.

If you want to create an atmosphere where teams can express themselves you have to feel the game and trust that feeling is correct.

The bad news is: you will get it wrong and games will go south because you allowed it to breathe too much. But, if you hold the game with a vice-like grip too much, for too long and against the wishes of the teams you will breed bad feelings towards you.

Remember one of the best words in football is the simple “no” and if a player has done wrong presume (s)he knows it and just by simply telling her/him “no” without stopping the game and incurring the wrath of the teams, you will have the teams on board (without by definition, making yourself the centre of attention).

This will still set the player up; this will still get your message across and this will (more importantly) keep the game an ACTION GAME.

Of course, you could stop the game, call in the skipper and give a diatribe that no one wants or listens to!

The world around football has changed but the game itself has stayed essentially the same – score more goals than them in the 90 minutes.

Clubs say:

We want as much time as possible, in the 90 minutes, to get the ball in their net and we don’t need a big showy referee breaking up the play with shows of authority.

This is what chairman, managers and players of the better side in a contest want from us as referees.  And if we really want to progress we had better deliver it.

Here is FIFA’s Short List of Changes

The changes that have been listed by FIFA are hardly earth shattering!

Unless you think of the kick-off which is now so different that one of my coaches from the Academy e-mailed me after seeing Northern Ireland kick-off asking how can this be!

Plus now if someone is fouled in the penalty area they may or may not be sent off if you think it’s not deliberate!

And of course, now an injured player may or may not have to go off if you caution or red card the offender.

In other words we’ve got to use our opinion on these things!

FIFA have given us (the referees) an Outline Summary of the Law Changes for this coming season.

Just in case you haven’t seen them, I’ve recreated them below:

Law 01 – Field of Play

  • Artificial and natural surfaces may not be combined on the field
  • Competitions may determine field size for their competitions (within Law)
  • All commercial advertising on the ground must be at least 1m (1yd) from boundary lines
  • Logos/emblems of FAs, competitions etc… allowed on corner flags (no advertising)

Law 02 – The Ball


Law 03 – The Players (new title)

  • A match may not start/continue if a team has fewer than 7 players
  • Substitutes may take a restart but must first step on the field
  • Clarifies situation when a player is sent off before/after kick off
  • Direct FREE KICK (or penalty) if a substitute/team official interferes with play
  • If something/someone (other than a player) touches a ball as it goes into the goal the referee can award the goal if the touch had no impact on the defenders
  • If a goal is scored with an extra person on the field and the referee has restarted play the goal stands and match continues

Law 04 – The Players’ Equipment

  • Any tape or other material on/covering socks must be the same colour as the sock
  • Player losing footwear/shinguard accidentally can play on until next stoppage
  • Undershorts must be colour of shorts or hem; team must all wear same colour
  • Electronic communication with substitutes is forbidden
  • Player can return during play after changing/correcting equipment, once equipment has been checked (by referee, fourth official or AR) and referee signals

Law 05 – The Referee

  • Decision cannot be changed if play restarted or referee has left the field (HT + FT)
  • If several offences occur at the same time the most serious is punished
  • Referee can send a player off from pre-match pitch inspections onwards
  • Referee can only use RC + YC after entering the field at the start of the match
  • Player injured by RC/YC foul can be quickly assessed/treated and stay on the field
  • The equipment a referee can or may be allowed to use
  • Diagrams of referee signals included (from Guidelines section)

Law 06 – The Other Match Officials (new title)

  • More details about the duties of the assistants, AARs, fourth official
  • Diagrams of assistant referee signals included (from Guidelines section)

Law 07 – The Duration of the Match

  • More reasons for additional time (e.g. medical drinks breaks)

Law 08 – The Start and Restart of Play

  • All restarts included (previously only kick-off and dropped ball)
  • Ball must clearly move to be in play for all kicked restarts
  • Ball can be kicked in any direction at kick-off (previously had to go forward)
  • Referee cannot “manufacture” outcome of dropped ball

Law 09 – The Ball in and out of Play

  • If a ball rebounds off a match official it is in play unless it has wholly passed over a boundary line

Law 10 – Determining the Outcome of a Match (new title)

Kicks from the penalty mark:

  • Referee will toss a coin to choose the goal (unless weather, safety, etc…)
  • Player temporarily off the field (e.g. injured) at final whistle can take part
  • Both teams must have the same number of players before and during the kicks
  • Clear statement of when a kick is over
  • Kicks not delayed if player leaves the field; if not back in time kick is forfeited

Law 11 – Offside

  • Halfway line is “neutral” for offside; player must be in opponents’ half
  • Players’ arms are not considered when judging offside position (including goalkeeper)
  • Offside FREE KICK always taken where offence occurs (even in own half)
  • Defender off the field only “active” until defending team clear ball or play stops
  • As above for attacker returning; before that re-entry point is the offside position

Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct

  • Foul with contact is a direct FREE KICK
  • Advantage for a RC – indirect FREE KICK if offender then gets involved in play
  • Change of wording for handball so that not every handball is a YC
  • Some DOGSO offences in the penalty area are punished with a YC
  • Attempted violent conduct is a RC, even if no contact
  • Striking on head/face when not challenging an opponent is a RC
  • Offence against substitutes, team officials, match officials etc. is now a direct FREE KICK
  • Foul off the field penalised with a direct FREE KICK on boundary line (penalty in own penalty area)

Law 13 – Free Kicks

  • Difference between “stopping” a FREE KICK and intercepting the ball after FREE KICK taken

Law 14 – The Penalty Kick

  • Indirect FREE KICK + YC if wrong player deliberately takes the penalty
  • Indirect FREE KICK if ball kicked backwards
  • If “illegal” feinting occurs it is always an INDIRECT FREE KICK (and YC)
  • Goalkeeper YC if infringes and PK is retaken

Law 15 – The Throw-in

  • New wording makes it clear that ball must be thrown with both hands

Law 16 – The Goal Kick

  • If Goal Kick kicked into own goal it is a corner kick to opponents
  • An opponent in the penalty area when the Goal Kick is taken cannot play the ball first

Law 17 – The Corner Kick

  • If CK kicked into own goal it is a corner kick to opponents

It is my intention to give some more details on these over the coming weeks.


Category: Blog, The Renegade