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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34088

Mechanics 12/17/2020

RE: All Other

Derek of Cary, IL USA asks...

In reviewing the LotG, I find the signals in Law 6 are coded for a left diagonal. Does this mean that the right diagonal is "phased out?" I don't know a referee who does that anymore (though I have heard stories), but I feel it could be an option, for example, to monitor an unruly coach that was opposite the AR in the first half.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Derek,

The referee's diagonal should always be based on the position of the AR's to maintain a line, or triangle, of referee - ball - AR.

So you should only run a reverse diagonal if your AR's are also on reverse diagonals. It's quite rare for this to be required, though I have had it occur a couple of times. One instance was because the line was quite muddy or had some dips not far off it, enough to be potentially hazardous to an AR (but not enough to present any real risk to a player). Occasionally a field has been oriented in such a way that a reverse diagonal has provided better visibility in the setting sun (can't remember if it was better visiblity for myself or the AR!). I remember one instance when I was being assessed on a match for a grading upgrade and I was in the middle, about to kick off. Counted players, all good. Turn to check my AR is ready....wait, where's my AR? Look around, for some reason both of them just adopted a reverse diagonal (by accident I presume)!

I found that reverse diagonals, in Australia, were infrequent - maybe once every couple of seasons. However, they are VERY disorientating. You don't realise how much of your signalling and positioning occurs just by muscle memory - and when you suddenly have to put a lot more conscious through into these things it reduces your available processing capacity for the match.

So, when I was in the middle, I personally chose to run a reverse once or twice a year simply as practice - because on the very unlikely chance I had to run one in a difficult match, I didn't want the unfamiliar diagonal to be a hindrance to my performance.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Derek,
reverse diagonals are a rarity simply because it is not perfected as a normal playing factor. Chances of a mistake being made as a result is certainly statistically higher lol Referee Wright outlines a few reasons why we might consider it (the sun one was one I used as CR & your suggestion had merit the appointing of the senior AR to the potential trouble location. Not often but ARs can be switched when the teams switch so the same AR stays with the same side. I can recall very few occasions but was asked once to do so by my CR because as AR I was at one time very fast and could stay with the offside runs and push ups by an exceedingly fast aggressive defence who were always trying to push up against 2 very fast strikers. The coach of the two fast strikers was unimpressed though lol I think he felt my counterpart AR could be more lax as there were only 2 offside calls on his side in the first half where as I had 14.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Derek
Yes the right diagonal is not used now very often yet it is there should a referee feel it will help the game.
I have used the right diagonal on occasion due to the setting sun position where we felt that the AR position would not be impacted as much with an angled view. On another occasion the touchline patrol paths were in a poor state so running in fresh paths was considered beneficial.
Another colleague felt he was missing AR flags so he experimented with a change of diagonal.
The challenge now is that ARs are so used running left backs that flag hand action is second nature and automatic. I found that flag signal with the left hand required thought and practice compared to right hand flag signals.
It is up the referee to decide on the day yet most never even consider it now as an option.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

It is interesting that you ask this question, because I am one of the few referees in my area that uses the right diagonal. I use it because for my first 30 years of officiating, only the dual system (2 officials) was utilized and the dual system works to the right.

Even today, approximately 40% of the high school games are dual system games where the officials work to the right. Thus, the transition from working to the right to the right diagonal seems natural to me. I guess that after working 61 years to the right, I am too stubborn to change and work t.

However, as was pointed out, working to the right gives the AR's a new challenge, and a bit of excitement. From my experience, it makes them more alert and aware of what they are doing.

I hope that you have a very successful New Year.

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