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Question Number: 26619

Law 6 - Assistant Referee 8/10/2012

RE: Select Under 12

Nicole of Kingsville, ON Canada asks...

Can a linesman make the call for a penalty kick to be awarded?

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright


Law 6 of the FIFA Laws Of The Game prescribe the duties of the Assistant Referee. Of particular relevance is this point:

'Two assistant referees may be appointed whose duties, subject to the decision
of the referee, are to indicate:...................................when offences have been committed whenever the assistant referees have a better view than the referee (this includes, in certain circumstances, offences committed in the penalty area)'

The role of the Assistant Referee is to assist the referee in officiating the match, in any means necessary. There's a fine line between assisting and insisting though; if the AR believes that the referee has had a clear view of an offence, then he should leave it for the referee to decide on.

If, however, the referee doesn't have a perfect view of the incident then the AR's duties are to help out here. And if it's in the penalty area, then the AR can definitely signal for a penalty kick - though the instruction is typically given that this is only in the circumstances where the referee has completely and utterly missed it (or is looking over for the AR's opinion), and the AR is 100% certain of it.

When I run as an AR, most times when I believe a penalty should be awarded, the referee also seems to have a clear view of the incident, so I'll leave it for him. But I have called penalties a number of times when I know the referee was unsighted.

Sometimes, though, the referee instructs the AR to never signal for a penalty. I don't believe this is good practice, but it does happen.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Nicole
An assistant referee is there to assist the referee with decisions. In the pre match discussion between the officials the referee will advise his assistants as to what contribution he requires from them during the game.
Many referee, when they have a clear view of the incident, do not want the assistant to make the call but perhaps just to confirm that it was the correct decision such as to where the offence happened such as those fouls happening close to the penalty area lines.
If the referee is unsighted such as to a deliberate handling, blind side of the referee then the referee will want the assistant to signal for the offence. The referee will ultimately make the call not the assistant.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The assistant referee provides information to the referee. Because the referee has the power to accept or reject the information, the call is ultimately 'made' by the referee.

The correct mechanic is to assist the referee by providing information when the assistant believes: (1) the referee didn't see it; and (2) the referee would have called it if she had seen it. The referees work as a team, however, A referee will go with the assistant's information absent a compelling reason.

Some referees provide different instruction to their assistants. IMO, however, referees who instruct experienced assistants not to call anything inside the penalty area should find some other avocation.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

An assistant referee can call fouls, including those inside the penalty area. The assistant must consider whether or not the referee could see the foul or not. And if not, whether or not the referee would have called it or not. We want to be consistent in the game. (Actually the assistant raises his flag with a wiggle to indicate to the referee that he has seen a foul; it is up to the referee to accept that flag or not. But the ref would have to have a pretty darn good reason to wave down the AR's flag on an incident that he himself hasn't seen.)

However, I see you're talking about youth play. If you are asking about what is called a 'club line', someone affiliated with the team who is pressed into service, then whether or not fouls can be called is up to the rules of the competition. Here in the US, club lines are only to call the ball out of play. In England they are expected to call offside as well. I'm sorry to say that even though I'm just across the river from you, I'm not sure what the instruction is in Ontario.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Technically, a club line (linesman) cannot make any calls at all. All they are there for is to indicate ball in or out of play to help the referee make a decision.

Even when dealing with neutral assistant referees (AR - someone who is trained as a referee and has a current badge), it is always the referee who makes the decisions, which can be based on the advice from the neutral assistant referee. So while it may look like the AR made the decision, what happened was the AR saw an offense or incident occur and determined the referee would make a decision of a particular kind here, raised their flag to indicate this information, and the referee, if the whistle blows, has accepted the information and made the decision to act upon that info.

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