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Question Number: 21165

Other 4/21/2009

RE: Under 15

Padraig Curran of Bishop's Stortford, UK asks...

This question is a follow up to question 20960

The answer to Mr R. Martin's question

The reason that assistant referees have different flags e.g. (plain and quartered) is to distinguish themselves from one another, other than that i dont know its just the way its been done in our country (the home of football) for years, also just to make clear to the ref that answered your question - in the UK flags are almost NEVER sold seperatley and always sold in either 2's, 3's or even 4's !

Hope this clears things up!

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Aha. Another case of our two countries divided by a common language (and in this case, relatively common culture). Evidently it's one of those, 'That's the way we've always done it' things.

Now the question becomes, why is it important for anyone to know which assistant referee is which, i.e. AR1 vs AR2? If the ref knows, that's all that matters. By the way, AR1 would be on the team bench side, right? And if it matters to have them distinguished, why isn't it common knowledge as to what the different flags mean?

Our starter referee sets - whistle, jersey, shorts, socks, cards, etc - often have a cheap set of flags, one solid red the other solid yellow. The only time I pay any attention to which side of the field gets the red flag is if there's a red team over there. Then the yellow flag goes on that side, just so I have the better contrast of colors to see from the middle.

Our more advanced sets - better shaft materials, foam handgrips, better ways of attaching the material so the flags don't twist around the handles, etc - usually have two identical flags. They may be a variety of patterns: colored quarters, checks on diagonal or orthogonal, etc. When my wife ordered me a set as a present, she was asked if I did a lot of games with youth ARs, and since I do, they suggested a Japanese model which has shorter handles, so the flags don't drag on the ground.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

reprinted from my good friend in the UK Julian Carosi

There is no standard colour, so long as they are vivid colours. Luminous bright yellow and orange seem to be the favourite choice and are easy to see.

It was in 1891 when the Referee (who used to be stationed on the touchline) moved into the field of play to take charge of game. Prior to this, the two umpires who governed play on the field, used to wave a stick in the air to allow an appeal to be made by the captain. It was therefore, in 1891 onwards when the sticks became flags for the two linesmen (ex-umpires). Flags were also mentioned in 1896, in a column entitled 'Hints to Referees', in the first Referees' Chart (today known as the Laws of Association Football).
Ken Aston, on his return from military service in 1946, became the first League referee to wear the black uniform with white trim which became the standard for referees. The following year (1947) he introduced bright yellow linesmen's flags in place of the pennants in the colours of the home team, which had been used before.
In 1956, the following Decision of the International Board was added into the Laws. 'In International Matches, Linesmen's flags shall be a vivid colour, bright reds and yellows. Such flags are recommended for use in all other matches'.
These days, flags that are yellow or orange can be seen better by the Referee.

There is no official rule in the Laws of Associated Football to signify which single colour (red or yellow) a Senior Assistant Referee will have. But tradition in England, and in semi/pro games, signifies that the Assistant Referee with the red (or red-trimmed) flag is the Senior Assistant Referee. This also helps the Assessor to identify who is the Senior Assistant Referee.

Using a standard traditional system makes it easier for Referees to officiate. It also helps players to recognise, which Assistant Referee is Senior.

The Assistant Referees' names are also sometimes listed in the match program with their particular flag, usually chequered or plain, red or yellow. This also makes it easer to identify them by name and seniority.

Sometimes, the match day programme lists the Assistant Referees alphabetically, as well as which coloured flag each one will be holding. If this is the case, to aid identification, this should be adhered to.


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