Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 35576

Mechanics 6/15/2024

Petr of Prague, Czech Republic Czech Republic asks...


I have one more question, please.

VAR protocol says this:

'Delaying the flag/whistle for an offence is only permissible in a very clear attacking situation when a player is about to score a goal or has a clear run into/towards the opponents’ penalty area'

This is a situation where the assistant referee waits for the end of the action and then raises the flag for offside.

Can the referee similarly wait until the end of the action? For example, build-up fouls that occur before a goal is scored. Or other offenses except for offside (f.e. handball etc.).

So does the rule also apply to the referee? If so, are they using it? It seems to me that they usually whistle immediately :-)

Thank you very much!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
You might recall in the Champions League semi final when the AR flagged for offside against Bayern Munich on a tight decision at the end of the game. Many complained that the AR should have waited until after the attacking phase ended before flagging in line with the advice.

There was also some criticism of the referee as while the offsde flag which had gone up yet he could have delayed the whistle to see what transpired.
Now admittedly it would have required strong presence to not go with the offside flag when it went up yet he was well entitled to do so as he had to see it was tight. No idea what was said over the mikes. Okay there would have been a complaint about not taking the flag yet from an early age players are told to play to the whistle.

At to offences other than offside by the attacking team I believe that most referees will call them fairly quickly rather than waiting on VAR. It is up to the referee to call the game rather than using VAR as a crutch.
As to defending fouls a referee has the wait and see option plus the use of advantage. As the officials use headsets there is a good deal of communication on the mics so a referee will hear all sorts of advice on the headset to help make the call or wait to see what happens.

So yes the referee can wait to see what transpires and use VAR accordingly. In the Germany V Scotland game I was somewhat surprised that the referee did not go with the penalty and red card in real time and it looked like he relied totally on VAR for what was an obvious excessive force challenge on a penalty offence. I felt he should have got that instantly yet he waited as Germany still had the ball which eventually came to nothing. Ultimately the correct decision was made which is the key important part rather than how it is arrived at.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 35576
Read other Q & A regarding Mechanics

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The free opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members. While there is no charge for asking the questions, donation to maintain the site are welcomed! <>