'The right call', by Ref. Vangelis May 2006
Dear Ref. Vangelis,
FIFA laws make it clear that the field has to be rectangular. Does this mean only that it can't be square or does it have to be geometrically rectangular? I mean with parallel borders? I ask this because often I see a field with corners not exactly 90 degrees. This means, they are not rectangular because one side is longer. I know that sometimes the environment doesn't permit that and, just to complete the question, when the fields are close to hills; it happens that a portion of the field is not flat but begins to go up on the hills. Is there some rule about the fact that the field has to be flat or is a certain angle accepted?
Answer Part 1: Law 1 states that: “The field of play must be rectangular”. The definition of a rectangle is a parallelogram with a right angle. So each corner of the field of play must form an angle of 90 degrees.
Law1 continues that, “The length of the touch line must be greater than the length of the goal line”. So based on the law of the game, the length of the field of play must always exceed the width.
Then Law 1 goes on and gives the minimum and maximum dimension of the length and the minimum and maximum dimension of the width for both regular matches as well as international ones. So based on the law of the game, the dimensions of the field of play may vary to enable players of different levels of skill and physical attributes to play the game.
Also, with the approval of various national associations, the law allows the size of the field of play to be modified for players under 16 years of age, for women footballers, for veteran footballers over 35 years’ of age, and for players with disabilities.
No other modifications are allowed to the field of play. Therefore, such fields as described above are not regulation fields and should not be used for serious competition.
The USSF directive to referees is that they should always arrive at the field having plenty of time to inspect the field, goals, flags and markings for accuracy and safety. No part of the field surface or the goals and flag posts may be dangerous to the players. If the field conditions are dangerous or unsuitable for play, the referee must refuse to officiate the game and should leave immediately after announcing his decision to both sides. (The only exception would be when there is a possibility that the problem can be corrected within a reasonable amount of time). Unresolved problems with the field that do not involve safety should be reported to the competition authority, even if the game is played.
Next week we will see what FIFA’s field of play requirements are for the upcoming World Cup 2006 in Germany.
Dear Ref. Vangelis,
FIFA laws make it clear that the field has to be rectangular. Does this mean only that it can't be square or does it have to be geometrically rectangular? I mean with parallel borders?
I ask this because often I see a field with corners not exactly 90 degrees. This means, they are not rectangular because one side is longer. I know that sometimes the environment doesn't permit that and, just to complete the question, when the fields are close to hills, it happens that a portion of the field is not flat but begins to go up on the hills.
Is there some rule about the fact that the field has to be flat or is a certain angle accepted?
Answer: Last week we explained, based on the law of the game, that such fields as described above are not regulation fields and should not be used for serious competition.
This week I would like to share with you what FIFA requires from the national associations participating in the World Cup competition.
Here is Article 18 of the regulation pertaining to the Field of Play.
1. Each association organizing matches in the preliminary competition shall ensure that the stadiums and facilities in which the matches take place fulfill the requirements described in the FIFA Technical Recommendations and Requirements for the Construction or Modernization of Football Stadium and comply with the safety and security standards and other FIFA guidelines and instructions for international matches. The fields of play, accessory equipment and facilities shall be in optimum condition and comply with the Laws of the Game.
2. Periodic safety checks for the benefit of spectators, players and officials shall be carried out on the stadiums selected for matches in the preliminary competition by the authorities responsible and recorded every 2 (two) years on an official safety certificate. The associations shall provide FIFA with a copy of the relevant safety certificate at least 2 (two) months before each match in the preliminary competition.
3. As a general rule, the preliminary and final competition matches may only be played in all-seated stadiums. If only stadiums with both seating and standing areas are available, the standing space shall remain vacant.
4. Matches may be played on natural or artificial surfaces. Where artificial surfaces are used, the surface must meet the requirements of the FIFA Quality Concept for Artificial Turf or the international Artificial Turf Standard, unless special dispensation is given by FIFA.
5. The Organizing Association shall, in conjunction with the relevant government authority, guarantee that the stadiums and facilities chosen for the final competition fulfill FIFA requirements and comply with the standards of safety required for international matches. They are subject to approval by the Organizing Committee for the FIFA World Cup™. The fields of play, accessory equipment and facilities shall be in optimum condition and comply with the Laws of the Game. The fields of play shall have the following dimensions: length 105m, breadth 68m.
Coach Gianni in a past article wrote about the difference between those who play soccer for fun and those who are real players. If the fields described in the question above are used by those who just want to have fun, then it really doesn’t matter. Let them play on any surface or shape of field. However, as far as the real soccer players are concerned, they must play on the best available regulation fields.
Dear Ref. Vangelis,
A ball was kicked in the direction of the goal by offensive player A. Offensive player B was onside when the ball was kicked. Offensive player B moved towards the goal and the ball stroked the goal post. The ball came to Offensive player B while only the goalie is between him and the goal.
Is that an offside? Does it matter what section of the goal post the ball touched?
What if the goalie touched the ball before the ball hit the goal post?
Answer: No offside here. Law 11 states that offside is to be judged “at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team”. Therefore, the referee must judge the offside position only when the ball is played by a teammate of the attacking player. As described in the question above, offensive player B was onside when the ball was kicked by offensive player A.
It does not matter what section of the goal post the ball touches afterwards. It would also not make any difference if the goalie touches the ball before or after it hits the goal post.
A player who is onside at the moment the ball is kicked by a teammate, cannot make himself offside during the same play.
The condition of being in an onside position during a particular play and not being penalized continues no matter where the player may move, no matter where the ball may move, and no matter where the defenders may move.
The only way player B can become offside is at the next play, if the ball is played again by a teammate and if at that new moment he is in an offside position. And even then there are other requirements of Law 11 that must be met. We will consider these requirements next week.
Here is a reminder of the definition of the offside law:
Law 11 states that “A player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent”.
In the scenario given above, player B either had two or more players closer to the opponent’s goal line than himself or he was behind the ball when it was kicked by his teammate.
Or according to Law 11 the following could have been true:
A player is not in an offside position if:
He is in his own half of the field of play or
He is level with the second last opponent or
He is level with the last two opponents.
Decision 1 of the International Football Association Board introduced to the Laws of the Game this year discuses which part of the body the referee must judge when the players seem to be level with each other.
In the definition of offside position, "nearer to his opponents' goal line" means that any part of his head, body or feet is nearer to his opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent. The arms are not included in this definition.
Dear Ref. Vangelis,
Last week you mentioned that even though a player is in an offside position there are other requirements in Law 11 that must be met in order for the player to be penalized. Can you please explain?
Answer: Law 11 states that “It is not an offense in itself to be in an offside position”, then it goes on to explain that “A player in an offside position is only penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:
-interfering with play or
-interfering with an opponent or
-gaining an advantage by being in that position
The following Decision of the International Football Association Board was introduced to the Laws of the Game this year to explain the statement “active play” in Law 11:
The definition of elements of involvement in active play are as follows:
Interfering with play means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate.
Interfering with an opponent means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or movements, or making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent.
Gaining an advantage by being in that position means playing a ball that rebounds to him off a post or the crossbar having been in an offside position or playing a ball that rebounds to him off an opponent having been in an offside position.
Referees also receive the following direction from FIFA:
The referee should not call an offside simply because a player is in an offside position, but should look for active involvement. Furthermore, if the referee is in any doubt as to whether a player is actively involved or not, he should decide in favor of the attacker: in other words, he should refrain from calling the offside.
Dear Ref. Vangelis,
Being an ex-soccer player, when I stand at the border of the field as a coach, I tend to follow the action and, sometimes, I give suggestions from there. Generally the referee sends me back. Can I put assistant coaches behind our goal to give instructions to my keeper (or send one of my players) or to the defenders, or to other parts of the field to manage the team in general?
Answer: This issue has been in question for a long time. In recent years FIFA addressed it and even made it part of the laws of the game.
Decision 2 of the International Football Association Board under Law 3 states that “A team official may convey tactical instructions to the players during the match and he must return to his position after giving these instructions. All officials must remain within the confines of the technical area, where such an area is provided, and they must behave in a responsible manner”.
Decision 8 of the International Football Association Board under Law 1 states that “Where a technical area exists, it must meet the requirements approved by the International F.A. Board”.
Page 38 of the Laws of the Game defines the Technical Area. It says:
The technical area describes in law 3, International F.A. Board decision no. 2, relates particularly to matches played in stadiums with a designated seated area for technical staff and substitutes.
Technical areas may vary between stadiums, for example in size or location, and the following notes are issued for general guidance.
-The technical area extends 1 m (1 yd) on either side of the designated seated area and extends forward up to a distance of 1 m (1 yd) from the touch line.
-The number of persons permitted to occupy the technical area is defined by the competition rules.
-The occupants of the technical area are identified before the beginning of the match in accordance with the competition rules.
-Only one person at a time is authorized to convey tactical instructions and he must return to his position after giving these instructions.
-The coach and other officials must remain within the confines of the technical area except in special circumstances, for example, a physiotherapist or doctor entering the field of play, with the referee’s permission, to assess an injured player.
-The coach and other occupants of the technical area must behave in a responsible manner.
So based on the laws of the game, the answer to the question stated above is “no”. Any of these suggestions are not permitted.
Even at amateur level games such as the SFSFL and CSPA, there are specific instructions based on the rules of the competitions permitting only a specific number of players and officials to be at the field with the team. This is true whether the game is played at Boxer stadium where technical areas are clearly defined or at any of the open fields.
The referees should be aware of this and enforce such guidelines.
Posted on 06 Jun 2006 by coachgianni