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With the score tied at one goal apiece in the 45th minute of a very tough u-18 match, the referee has been under siege from coaches, players and fans. In your opinion, as lead AR, the referee appears to be losing his grip on the match. There have been no cards shown as of yet but a lot of talk and bad feelings seem to be in evidence!

Just before the half ends, there is a very, very hard foul that involved, in your opinion as AR, excessive force. This occurred just barely outside the edge of the penalty area in your quadrant, but the downed attacking player spills into the area. You have eye contact with the referee. The fouled team is screaming for a PK and is starting to swarm the referee as the two coaches are also entering the field. .
What do you do as AR to convey what you saw? Its not your match but your reputation and your decisions will affect his match, his decisions and his reputation!

Now describe what actions need to be taken as if you were both the
AR's! Take a crack as a 4th official if you wish.
Explain what actions all three of you could engage in to support the referee up until the start of the second half, ...IF... there is second half?

1. What do you do as lead AR to convey to the referee what you saw in the incident?

Assuming the referee has not already signaled exactly what you thought..
The information you have to convey is in your opinion, the LOCATION of the foul and the level of the misconduct associated with the foul!

(a) Indicate the location of the restart. If the referee has not yet stopped play, raise the flag! Wait for the whistle, and wave the flag for the foul. Since the foul occurred outside the penalty area, the restart is a DFK! The misconduct associated was excessive thus you indicate a red card is appropriate via the prearranged signal from the pregame which hopefully you participated in!

If the referee has already stopped play, but hasn't indicated the restart, the referee is looking to you to confirm the location of the foul. Inside the USA, the approved flag signal to indicate the foul occurred outside the penalty area, the assistant referee should stand still in line with the penalty area. Upon eye contact, shake your head slightly.)

There is a slight possibility the foul was a continuous foul where although initiated outside was carried through to inside the Penalty Area or a second attempt to stop the attack creates a new foul inside the PK. In such cases advantage is used to award the PK as it is a restart of greater benefit than a DFK.

In the USA, after waving the flag, the assistant referee would use the approved flag signal for "penalty kick" direct free kick foul was inside the area? ( holding the flag horizontally just below the waist), wait for the referee to point to the penalty spot, and then walk to the corner flag. Outside the USA, after waving the flag, the assistant referee would walk down the touchline toward the corner flag. The assistant's focus needs to stay on the field and be prepared to act, particularly where there is a chance for a mass confrontation.

(b) Identify The Misconduct. To indicate that you recommend the player be sent off, use the signal discussed during the pregame for misconduct, e.g., patting the back pocket means sendoff recommended; touching badge means caution. The referee needs to know immediately from your signal that a sendoff is recommended. While there are times that the referee wants to discuss what the assistant saw, a long delay between whistle and showing the red card can cause additional game management problems (was the referee timid, did the referee act only because the opponents or coaches demanded a red card, etc.)

Remember you are to assist, not insist. In this situation, however, there is a crowd of players swarming the referee. You must be prepared not to let the referee restart the match until you are sure that the referee has understood the information you conveyed using these signals. In these situations, the two questions to consider are:
(A) if I fail to act, will I fail the referee?
(B) if I fail to act, will I fail the game?
Where you were in the best position to see the foul and misconduct, you must be prepared to take ownership of the call and raise the flag for the foul.

2. What actions should be taken to prevent mass confrontation and restore order in the technical area?

(a) Lead AR ? quickly convey necessary info on position of the offense, and any misconduct advice. As the teams begin to surround the referee, follow any pregame instructions regarding such incidents, and keep moving to be able to see who is doing what. Glance quickly to see what the trail AR is monitoring.

If you can prevent the (third player) entering into the hot spot, you can often prevent mass confrontation. Do so in a calm and non-threatening manner (Do not add fuel to the fire!).

If not, take a position to observe who is doing what and take numbers and team info down. Help the referee box in the situation, forming a triangle with the referee and trail AR, and channel players away. If you are also the bench side AR and there is no 4Th official, you will have to intercept the coaches and direct them off of the field, or signal to the trail to take this on. If you must to gain compliance, remind them the game can continue without them, if in fact the game is to continue. If need be, you may need to assist the referee in backing off from the field, and keeping the players at a safe distance.

(b) Trail AR ? monitor the situation and make notes on which players are participating in creating the situation, which are trying to help and which if any will need misconduct punishment. The referee will need to know player numbers and conduct, and the trail often is the best source for these details.

Focus on areas the referee and lead AR will not be able to see or deal outside the immediate hotspot. If you are bench side, you will be responsible for intercepting the coaches and substitutes and directing them back to the technical areas. If not, check to see if the lead AR needs your help with the technical area. Assist in trying to calm the situation and directing players away from the incident.

(c) Fourth Official. The primary responsibility of the Fourth Official is the technical area. The Fourth must keep the coaches, substitutes and team officials in the technical area, and should seek to move into a position to intercept any that seek to leave. Presence and a calm voice often are enough to get them to return and act responsibly. The secondary responsibility is to monitor for misconduct, and inform the referee of the player number and conduct of anyone committing misconduct before play restarts.

(d) Entire Referee Team. After order is restored, the entire referee team needs to be comfortable that the referee has been informed about all misconduct that occurred, and that the restart is the correct one.

To break the chain of events that has put the game into this state is difficult as the frustration and conflict that was allowed to flourish creating this swell or uprising of emotional dissent is directly based on the management of the match to that point! Reasonable people require reasonable circumstances to be held accountable. Failure to act early and deal with the unreasonable issues in a match provide fuel on any major blow up, compounding the frustration levels.

During the half assuming the match is not discontinued and things are sorted out. The officials need some candid heart to heart moments to effectively sort out how to proceed in the 2nd half. Tight control at the start and really focus on in behind the play and eye contact between the officials. Cards are a tool and any referee reluctant to resort to them better be of exceptional character to reign in the players from anarchy. The referee no matter how obtuse or limited in experience must deal with the reality of the match in some manner. The ARs or 4th interject opinions but be wary of saying things that could create additional problems rather than fix the existing ones.

While it is true the ARs assist the referee, the ARs have obligations to player safety and the over all match welfare. Even if we really feel like it, we do not openly criticize or slap our referee aside the noggin with the flag stick. We should understand that as in all aspects of experience some have a greater degree of skill and wisdom in solving or dealing with match management issues! If we as ARs are ignored or treated poorly or used as a scapegoat by the referee then the request not to be paired with the referee in question in future matches is going to be made!

If the AR is aware of the match sliding south into hell, it is not a breech of etiquette to use a free moment to communicate with the referee! Eye contact, reach up and grab your throat to indicate get a grip on the match! Things are spiraling out of control! Call the referee over on a ball out of play and have a quiet exchange. How?s it going? Really ugly on the touchlines or bad stuff in behind play lots of retaliation! What do you want us/me to do??
Pointing out things are haywire, yet asking for the referee to be the go to guy to solve it thus not cutting the authority out from under.

We want to reiterate ANY AR who publically dishes the referee even if the referee is an absolute Putz, has no business being an official. Match safety is further compromised if the ARs and referee are at odds! Ignorance by a referee is not a real defense of an AR walking away from a match. Better to detail a report outlining why you THOUGHT about leaving and why you will not work with the referee in the future as only by monitoring, training and mentoring can we expect progress to be made. It is a very, very big deal to walk away from the match as an AR. Expect huge repercussions and be well prepared to defend your non defendable actions.

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