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'The right call', by Ref. Vangelis - September 2006

Sep 13

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

In my game last week the referee called a foul against me for dangerous play and awarded an indirect free kick to the opposing team. The explanation he gave me is that I attempted to head the ball too low and that is considered to be dangerous play. Was his call correct? I have never seen something like it before.


Answer: Yes, the referee could have made the right call assuming that this particular situation in his opinion met three specific criteria. Let’s review these criteria.

The action must be dangerous to someone (including self). Law 12 states that “An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team, if a player, in the opinion of the referee, plays in a dangerous manner”. As we can see from the wording quoted here, the law does not exclude endangering oneself from playing in a dangerous manner.

The action of dangerous play was committed with an opponent close by. Let’s keep in mind that all fouls may only be committed against an opponent or the opposing team, and

The action of dangerous play causes the opponent to cease active play for the ball or to be otherwise disadvantaged by the attempt not to participate in the dangerous play in order to avoid receiving or causing injury.

The following advice on judging “dangerous play” is given to all referees by the USSF:

“Merely committing a dangerous act is not, by itself, an offense (e.g., kicking high enough that the cleats show or attempting to play the ball while on the ground). Committing a dangerous act while an opponent is nearby is not, by itself an offense.

The act becomes an offense only when an opponent is adversely and unfairly affected, usually by the opponent ceasing to challenge for the ball in order to avoid receiving or causing injury as a direct result of the player’s act. Playing in a manner considered to be dangerous when only a teammate is nearby is not a foul.

In judging a dangerous play offense, the referee must take into account the experience and skill level of the players. Opponents who are experienced and skilled may be more likely to accept the danger and play through. Younger players have neither the experience nor the skill to judge danger adequately and in such cases the referee should intervene on behalf of their safety. For example, playing with cleats up in a threatening or intimidating manner is more likely to be judged a dangerous play offense in youth matches without regard to the reaction of opponents”.

In the scenario given above we must assume that an opponent was affected by your attempting to head the ball too low and this opponent ceased play to avoid injuring you.

So the referee then, under these circumstances, made the right call by awarding an indirect free kick to the opposing team - not for endangering yourself - but for affecting an opponent in your doing so.

Ref Vangelis

Sep 20

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

After a collision a player stayed on the ground. Very often I've seen the game continue until the ball goes or is kicked out. Other times I've seen the Referee stop the play permitting the injured player to be taken care of. Are there some rules that cover these situations or is it only about good sense (the 18th rule of soccer laws) from the referee or the players?

Coach Gianni

Answer: The decision to stop or not to stop the game is entirely based on the opinion of the referee. We need to remember that during the game the referee acts as an impartial judge of the game and not as a doctor or any kind of physician even if in his regular profession he may happen to be such.

I am sure you will agree that this is a very good thing because we know that players on many occasions fake an injury, especially when they know that they have caused an injury themselves or exaggerate an injury when they try to get an opponent who fouled them in more trouble than is needed.

Let’s take a look at Law 5: The referee: Under the section “Referee Powers and Duties” the law states that: “The referee stops the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured and ensures that he is removed from the field of play. An injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted.” It also states that: “The referee allows play to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in his opinion, only slightly injured”.

As we can see from these two statements, the law of the game is giving the referee the right to decide when to stop the game based on the severity of the injury according to his opinion.

Law 5 continues on by stating that: “The referee ensures that any player bleeding from a wound leaves the field of play. The player may only return on receiving a signal from the referee, who must be satisfied that the bleeding has stopped”. So in a situation when the injury is more obvious and there is any kind of bleeding involved, the referee makes sure that the game is stopped immediately and the player is removed from the field of play.

In addition to Law 5 recorded above and to avoid any further problems with any decision the referee takes in such cases, the International Football Association Board has approved the following decision listed as decision 1 in law 5:

“A referee (or where applicable, an assistant referee or fourth official) is not held liable for: any kind of injury suffered by a player, official or spectator; any damage to property of any kind; any other loss suffered by any individual, club, company, association or other body, which is due or which may be due to any decision that he may take under the terms of the Laws of the Game or in respect of the normal procedures required to hold, play and control a match.

This may include:

-a decision to stop or not to stop play to allow an injured player to be removed from the field of play for treatment;
-a decision to request or insist that an injured player be removed from the field of play for treatment;”

Ref Vangelis

Sep 27

Dear Ref. Vangelis,

During a penalty kick, can the kicker pass the ball to a teammate in order to score? Also, can the kicker play or touch the ball more than once (dribble) and score?


Answer: The answer to the first question is yes. The kicker may pass the ball to a teammate assuming that all the requirements of Law 14 - The Penalty Kick - have been observed. The answer to the second question is no; he cannot play or touch the ball a second time.

Let’s take a look at Law 14 and its requirements:

Under the section Position of the Ball and the Players it states that:

The ball is placed on the penalty mark.
The player taking the penalty kick is properly identified.
The defending goalkeeper remains on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked and
The players other than the kicker are located: inside the field of play, outside the penalty area, behind the penalty mark and at least 9.15 m (10 yards) from the penalty mark.

As we can see from law 14 listed above, the ball must be placed on the penalty mark, the kicker must be properly identified, the goalkeeper must be at a specific location and all other players, teammates and opponents, must position themselves as described above.

Furthermore, the law goes on to describe the procedure on how the penalty kick is taken. It states three more requirements:

The player taking the penalty kicks the ball forward.
He does not play the ball a second time until it has touched another player.
The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward.
As we can see from items 1 and 3 the kicker must kick the ball forward and the ball is in play when it moves forward. Therefore, an identified kicker of a penalty kick may play the ball forward for a teammate, who was properly positioned at the time the kick occurred, to run forward and play the ball in order to score a goal.

Item # 2 listed above clearly states that the identified kicker of the penalty kick does not play the ball a second time until it has touched another player.

Therefore, the answer to the second question is very clear.

Ref Vangelis

Posted on 18 Oct 2006 by coachgianni
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