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'The right call', by Ref. Vangelis. August 2006
August 2

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

Last week you mentioned that FIFA came up with circular # 987 clarifying its position on the interpretation of the law on offside can you please send this circular to me?

Thanks Coach Gianni

Answer: FIFA Circular # 987 is attached below. Please notice the clarification on the points we discussed the last few weeks on offside.

Circular no. 987
Zurich, 17 August 2005
IFAB advice on the application of Law 11, Decision 2

Dear Sir or Madam,

We write with reference to the Laws of the Game 2005, which came into force on 1 July 2005. As you are aware, two new decisions relating to Law 11 – Offside were taken by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) during its meeting in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, on 26 February 2005.
These two decisions did not alter the text or wording of Law 11 – Offside, but rather clarified the text with the aim of benefiting the game and attacking play.
However, the first on-field experiences of the application of these decisions indicated a need for clarification of one particular situation. For that purpose, a working group meeting of the International Football Association Board, chaired by FIFA Vice-President and chairman of the Referees’ Committee Angel Maria Villar Llona, took place in Zurich on 11 August 2005. The text and wording of Law 11 and its decisions 1 & 2 were not changed, nor was their spirit. However, the working group agreed on the following text as “advice on the application of Law 11, IFAB Decision 2”:
“A player in an offside position may be penalized before playing or touching the ball if, in the opinion of the referee, no other team-mate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball.
If an opponent becomes involved in the play and if, in the opinion of the referee, there is potential for physical contact, the player in the offside position shall be penalized for interfering with an opponent.”
In addition, the IFAB also agreed on the following clarification with regard to the position where the game restarts following an offside offence (Law 11 – Infringements/Sanctions):
“The restart of the game shall be with an indirect free kick taken from the initial place where the player was adjudged to be in an offside position.”
We thank you for communicating these instructions to the referees and assistant referees in your Association. We would also like to take this opportunity to remind you of Art. 2 and 6 of the FIFA Statutes. Paragraph 1 of the latter clearly states: “Each member of FIFA shall play Association Football in compliance with the Laws of the Game issued by IFAB. Only IFAB may lay down and alter the Laws of the Game”.
We hope that this clarification will put an end to any debates in this connection and that the decisions of the IFAB and the Statutes of FIFA will be respected in their entirety.


Jérôme Champagne
Deputy General Secretary

August 9

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

Yesterday, at a game I was watching I noticed that after a penalty kick was taken the referee gave an indirect free kick to the defensive team because one of the teammates of the kicker enter the penalty area before the kick was taken. Was this the right decision by the referee, I always thought that the kick had to be retaken?


Answer: The correct decision will depend on the outcome of the penalty kick. You see, Law 14 is very explicit and specific on each infringement and sanction during a penalty kick and it is very simple to follow. Let’s take a look at these specifics.

Law 14 states that, “The players other than the kicker are located:

-inside the field of play;
-outside the penalty area;
-behind the penalty mark;
-at least 9.15 m (10 yards) from the penalty mark. “

As we can see, the position of all players - both defenders and attackers - is well defined with the law. Law 14 continues with specific scenarios on various infringements and sanctions. We will only consider a couple that apply to the question above in this article.

Law 14 states that: “If the referee gives the signal for a penalty kick to be taken and, before the ball is in play, one of the following situations occurs:

A team-mate of the player taking the kick infringes the Laws of the Game:

-The referee allows the kick to proceed.
-If the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken.
-If the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts the match with an indirect free kick to the defending team, from the place where the infringement occurred.

A team-mate of the goalkeeper infringes the laws of the game:

-The referee allows the kick to proceed.
-If the ball enters the goal, a goal is awarded.
-If the ball does not enter the goal, the kick is retaken.

A player of both the defending team and the attacking team infringe the Laws of the Game:

The kick is retaken.

So based on Law 14, only if the ball enters the goal in a situation where a teammate of the kicker is infringing the ball as described above, is the kick retaken. We must assume that in the case described above, the ball did not enter the goal and therefore the referee awarded an indirect free kick to the defending team.

Ref Vangelis

August 16

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

In an attempt to fit several games at the same field the league instructs the referee to start the game on time. If the teams are not ready the referee is instructed to start the time and when the teams are ready resume play. This means that if the teams wasted 10 minutes getting ready the first half would be 35 instead of 45 minutes. Can they do this?


Answer: This is not the right way to handle this situation. I can appreciate the importance of starting on time especially with so many teams and very few fields to play. However, there is a better way to address the situation and still abide with the Laws of the Game.

Law 7 states that, “The match lasts two equal periods of 45 minutes, unless otherwise mutually agreed between the referee and the two participating teams” and “Any agreement to alter the periods of play (for example to reduce each half to 40 minutes because of insufficient light) must be made before the start of play and must comply with competition rules.”

As we can see from Law 7 quoted above, it is permitted to make changes to the duration of the game for specific reasons assuming that both teams are in agreement and the referee has been notified prior to the start of the game. We can also see that the match must consist of two equal periods.
This would also make good sense since equality and fairness is emphasized in soccer. In other words both teams must face the elements such as wind, sun or field conditions equally.

It would not be fair, for example, to play against the wind for 35 minutes and your opponent to play 45 against the same conditions.

Therefore, the best and most correct solution to the question listed above would be to divide the wasted time between the two periods. In other words, if the teams were late 10 minutes, you would play two equal periods of 40 minutes each.

Ref Vangelis

August 23

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

At a game I was watching at the Polo fields in San Francisco the referee expelled one of the team officials from the field of play for foul language without showing the red card. Usually when someone is expelled from the game the red card is shown. Someone mentioned that the red card does not have to be shown to a coach or a team official. Is this true?


Answer: Yes this is true and correct according to Law 12. The yellow and red cards are for the players only and no one else. This does not mean that the referee has no authority to discipline anyone who misbehaves. Let’s take a look at Law 5 and Law 12 which address this issue.

Law 5 under “The authority of the Referee” states that, “Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed”.

Also under “Powers and Duties” it states that the referee takes action against team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and may at his discretion, expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds”. The Law goes on to state that, “The referee provides the appropriate authorities with a match report which includes information on any disciplinary action taken against players, and/or team officials and any other incidents which occurred before, during or after the match”.

As we can see from Law 5, the referee has full authority to discipline everyone. However Law 12 is very specific about the use of the yellow and red card. It states under Disciplinary Sanction that “Only players or substitute or substituted players may be shown the red or yellow card”.

It also states under the same section that, “The referee has the authority to take disciplinary sanctions, as from the moment he enters the field of play until he leaves the field of play after the final whistle”.

So, as we can see from Law 5 and Law 12 quoted above, the referee has full authority to take disciplinary action from the moment he enters the field of play until he leaves the field of play after the final whistle.

Ref Vangelis

August 30

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

What is considered to be unacceptable conduct of team officials and coaches?


Answer: Recently the USSF published a list of things that are considered to be unacceptable at the professional level. Here is the official memorandum:

Subject: Impermissible Behavior by Team Officials in Professional Matches
Date: March 8, 2006

Although the behavior of substitutes, players, and substituted players is clearly controlled by the Laws of the Game, the standards for team officials are less clear. Law 5 (The Referee) provides that team officials must conduct themselves in a "responsible manner" and, if they do not, the referee may "expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds."

All actions by team officials which result in expulsion from the field must be identified as “irresponsible behavior” in the match report. The match report, of course, must provide a specific description of the behavior. The following are examples of behavior that might be considered irresponsible:

• Throwing objects in protest
• Speaking insulting words or making offensive gestures
• Kicking chairs
• Making unwanted contact with opponents
• Striking advertising boards
• Persistently and flagrantly protesting decisions by an official
• Interfering with the performance of assistant referee or fourth official duties
• Refusing to return to the technical area
• Entering the field of play without the permission of the referee

Assistant referees and fourth officials assist the referee in monitoring the behavior of persons in the technical area and in alerting the referee when such behavior exceeds reasonable bounds. Officials should be mindful of the circumstances in which the irresponsible behavior occurred and should use the same criteria and concerns they would apply to similar behavior by players on the field (e.g., taking into account the emotion of the moment).

As of the 2006 playing season, MLS has modified its rules concerning who may be allowed in the team's technical area. These would include: 11 players in uniform, 7 substitutes in uniform, up to 3 coaches, up to 3 medical staff, 1 equipment manager, and up to 2 members of the team's administrative staff.

Accordingly, aside from players temporarily off the field, no more than 16 persons are permitted in the technical area and only if they fall within these prescribed categories. For purposes of this memorandum, anyone officially allowed in the technical area who is not a player listed on the roster or substitute (or substituted player) is a team official.

This memorandum should serve as a guide for all levels of soccer in the USA and should be used as the rule of thumb for every league even though some of the specifics such as the number of officials allowed at the bench and trainers may vary at times.

Ref Vangelis

Posted on 22 Sep 2006 by coachgianni
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