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'The right call', by Ref. Vangelis June 2006
June 7

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

I've read in sport news-papers that, at the World Cup, the Referees will be particularly severe in preventing and punishing incorrect behavior by players. What are the FIFA instructions for this particular occasion?

Coach Gianni

Answer:On March 4th the International Football Association Board (IFAB) sent out a clear message to the football world by approving a series of modifications to the Laws of the Game and endorsing instructions to referees and assistant referees to come down strong on time-wasting, reckless play as well as simulation and gamesmanship. Even though the changes will go into effect on July 1st 2006, FIFA (as it is customary) will implement these changes a month earlier in the World Cup 2006 in Germany. Some of these changes have been presented in this column during the last few months, so those who read the column are ahead of the game on a number of upcoming changes. Here is what you should expect to see at the tournament:

2006 FIFA World Cup Germany Special Instructions to the Referees

Elbowing (Red card)
Tackling (Red card)

Referees have been asked to severely sanction all cases of elbowing, reckless tackling and serious foul play with red cards.


Shirt-pulling and holding an opponent will incur a yellow card.

Delaying the restart of play.

Referees must caution players who delay the restart of play by tactics such as:

-Taking a free kick from the wrong position with the sole intention of forcing the referee to order a retake.
-Appearing to take a throw-in but suddenly leaving it to one of his team-mates to throw-in.
-Kicking the ball away or carrying it away with the hands after the referee has stopped play.
-Excessively delaying the taking of a throw-in or free kick.
-Provoking a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play.

Attitude towards referees (Yellow card)

Jewelry. Please avoid injuries: Necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, leather or rubber bands etc. are not allowed.

These directives have been explained to all the participants of the upcoming 2006 FIFA World Cup finalist teams at a workshop in Düsseldorf (Germany) on March 5-7. FIFA President, Joseph S. Blatter, praised the visionary spirit of the founders of the Board and expressed his pleasure at the International F.A. Board’s readiness to use the FIFA World Cup™ to pass on a clear message in terms of player protection. “The FIFA World Cup is the perfect platform to send out this message to the whole world of football as people all around the globe will follow the 64 matches in Germany. The stars of the tournament will serve as role models for hundreds of millions of other players around the world. So it is all the more important that Germany 2006 sets a positive example.”

Ref Vangelis

June 14

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

Very often a team that is winning the game tends to waste time toward the end. There are many ways and all of us know how. Could you tell us how much time is allowed to restart the play from a throw-in, indirect kick, corner kick, goal kick or a normal punt from the keeper?

Coach Gianni

Answer:The time allowed for a restart up to the year 2000 was usually 5 or 6 seconds. In the year 2000 FIFA made this official and introduced a specific time period for the time allowed for the goalkeeper to release the ball after he comes into possession.

Law XII states that “An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, inside his own penalty area, takes more that six seconds while controlling the ball with his hands before releasing it from his possession”. So the goalkeeper must release the ball within 6 seconds from the time that he comes into possession of it.

Since this is the only written time for such a situation, I do not see any problem applying the same time of 6 seconds as a rule of thumb for any other restart.

In addition to this, Questions to the Laws of the Game published by FIFA in 2005 addresses a similar situation on time wasting. On page 30 of the booklet, question # 27 asks: What action does the referee take when a player intentionally lies on the ball for an unreasonable length of time? It answers: The referee stops play, cautions the player for unsporting behavior and restarts play with an indirect free kick.
As we can see from this answer, wasting time is considered to be very serious offense.

Therefore, the referee must take action immediately to correct the situation.

In the last decade we have seen a number of changes to the Laws of the Game with the primary goal of FIFA attempting to eliminate or minimize time wasting. The referee must recognize and address “early” time wasting. He can punish a player with an indirect free kick, caution a player for unsporting behavior and finally, based on Law 7, he has the right to make allowances for wasting time by adding time at the end for either period.

Ref Vangelis


June 21

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

A forward enters the penalty area and resisting to a bad charge, shot perfectly. The referee blows the whistle to accord a penalty kick, while the ball is still in the air and, at the end of its flight, it enters the goal. Is the goal awarded? Should the referee wait a fraction of second to see if the ball goes safely into the net? Should the penalty be taken and, if it's missed, clearly damage the team that, in theory, has already scored? Please ref. Vangelis, give us some light on this subject!

Coach Gianni

Answer: A goal cannot be awarded and the game must restart with a penalty kick.

Questions to the Laws of the Game published by FIFA in 2005 addresses a similar situation. On page 22 of the booklet, question # 1 asks:” If a referee signals a goal before the ball has passed wholly over the goal line and immediately realizes his error, what action should he take”? It answers: “Play is restarted with a dropped ball”.

In this case the goal cannot be allowed since the referee has blown the whistle and in reality has stopped the game. The ball is out of play at the moment the whistle is blown.
The only difference in the scenario given above is the fact, that a major foul was called before the ball entered the net. So, instead of a dropped ball, the game will start with a penalty kick.

In addition to the PK the referee will now have to send off and show the red card to the defender who committed the foul since he has denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent moving toward the player’s goal. Also, if the penalty kick is missed, there is no goal. What a mess!
How much better it would be if the referee was not quick with the whistle. Then he could have applied the advantage clause. A goal would have been scored and a red card could have been avoided.

You see, if a goal is directly scored despite the attempted intervention by a defender fouling an opponent, the offender cannot be sent off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity since the goal was not denied.
Of course, the referee can still come back and caution the offender for unsporting behavior or send him off for serious foul play if the foul involved excessive force. But this would be more unlikely since everyone would probably be happy of the final outcome for obvious reasons.

Ref Vangelis

June 28

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

Playing with shoe laces untied is very dangerous. For a team, making the throw-in very fast could be a good way of taking the opponent team out of balance. If the Referee stops to permit the tying of shoe laces, the ‘magic moment’ is gone because in the meantime the opponent team has already come back and set a good defensive formation. How do you manage this situation in which something good has to be done, without damaging the opponent team?

Coach Gianni

Answer:The referee has two choices here depending on the timing of the situation and the level of play.

One choice is to allow the throw in to take place so the “magic moment” can develop since the opposing team has done nothing wrong. Questions to the Laws of the Game published by FIFA in 2005 addresses a similar situation. On page 12 of the booklet, question # 20 asks: “During a match, the goalkeeper sprints from the goal to stop an opponent. He kicks the ball out of the field of play and a throw-in is awarded to the opposing team. The momentum of the goalkeeper takes him off the field of play and before he can return, the throw-in is taken and a goal is scored. What action, if any, should the referee take”? It answers: “A goal is awarded since no offense has been committed”. The same can be true in the scenario listed above. If the opponent team takes the throw in quickly, the referee does not have to stop play.

Let’s see how the Law of the Game allows for this.

Law 4 – “The Players’ Equipment” states under Infringements/Sanctions that “For any infringement of this law:

-Play need not be stopped.
-The player at fault is instructed by the referee to leave the field of play to correct his equipment.
-The player leaves the field of play when the ball next ceases to be in play, unless he has already corrected his equipment.
-Any player required to leave the field of play to correct his equipment does not re-enter without the referee’s permission;
-The referee checks that the player’s equipment is correct before allowing him to re-enter the field of play;
-The player is only allowed to re-enter the field of play when the ball is out of play.

A player who has been required to leave the field of play because of an infringement of this Law and who enters (or re-enters) the field of play without the referee’s permission is cautioned and shown the yellow card.

So, based on items 1 and 2 above, the opponent team takes the throw-in quickly and the referee allows the play to continue. At the same time, the referee instructs the player to correct the problem before next stoppage. Then he can check if the player has complied at the next stoppage of the game and take appropriate action as indicated in item 3 of the law above.

This way the player has a chance to correct the problem during the last play. If he does not correct the problem, he must leave the field of play, correct the situation and then return after items 4, 5 and 6 have been satisfied.

We will discuss the second choice next week.

Ref Vangelis

Posted on 12 Jul 2006 by coachgianni
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