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Question Number: 6389

Law 1- The Field

RE: Rec/Amature - USSF sanctioned Adult

Ed Oetken of Mobile, AL USA asks...

Recently, our local adult league started their Fall season, and on the first Sunday afternoon of matches (8 total played two at a time) the City Rec Department had failed to refresh the lines on the fields. There were some areas that had faint lines but mostly there were no lines to be seen. The league officals (not the refs) did not have paint and equipment to mark the lines, so small cones were used to mark the touch and goal lines, and placed approximately at the intersections of the goal and penalty areas along the goal line, and apporoximately 6 and 18 yds up the touch from the goal line to allow the referes to approximate the goal and penalty areas. The existing corner flag inserts in the ground were used to approximate the overall field dimentions. They used to use flags that would slide into these inserts, instead of the flags used today that have their own spikes attached, and the city still uses these to mark the field. Anyway, I digress. The matches were played without complaint from league officals or from the players themselves, as both those parties wished not to postpone an entire Sunday of matches, but not there is a hot debate in the referee association on whether these matches should have been played, or if the referees involved should have played "bad guy" and refused to play the match. Your oppinions are appreciated.

Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

Ed, good that the matches were played. A check with the local league should determine if the referees were correct in allowing them to begin. Some leagues state the home side is responsible for field markings and if not present the match will not start...I have used only corner flags, and sand filled paper cups (well off the field) marking the penalty areas and halfway line. I advised them if we went ahead with the match there would be no questions regarding my decisions regarding ball in and out of play. They agreed and, even though things could have been nasty, play went well because the players understood when the ball went to touch I would whistle otherwise they got on with it. ..The game is supposed to be fun and should go on if at all possible. Referee experience and positioning makes a big impact of how well a match runs, especially when starting with obvious deficiencies in the ground.....Regards,

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

My opinion? These matches should never have been played. The placing of cones all over the field is dangerous. Sounds as if the flags were illegal too. To play a game on an unmarked field, to me, is crazy and I'd not have allowed it. Others will differ I am sure. Thanks for question.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Sebalja

I love it when they paint the feild and then cut the grass and you are left with not much. If it was USSF sactioned then technically no games should have been played as the feilds were of unsuitable quailty. But those people that turned up are there to play and they don't really care about what a referee says because they will play anyway. What should have happened is that someone should have got in touch with the city rec department and got someone there ASAP, there are only two feilds so it would not take long to remark. I am guessing that the league pays a small fee to use the grounds and they should be marked properly.

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Answer provided by Referee Laflin

Obviously if we're talking about proper high level games then no-way. But to be fair, I don't like calling a game off unless it's dangerous..I'd quickly get the coaches of both teams to sign that they are happy to play before kick off, and hopefully the league will take it as a valid game..Thanks,

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Answer provided by Referee Dawson

My feeling on improperly marked fields is a referee is well within the law and his rights to refuse the game if Law 1 conditions are so incorrect as to pose a danger to saftey and match control.. I approach the problem per the safety application and the willingness for teams to come to terms with bal in or out of play inside or outside of certain areas. I have used a kit bag for a corner flag and a can of spray paint to give me corners of the penalty and goal areas and PK spots as well as flat circle cones to help me along the touchlines and goal lines. On pitches that are supposed to have paid individuals responsible get their hinies out there and set it right. A highly competative game as single official into a setting sun even with great lines I am at a disadvantage. If a referee refuses to commence play he should file a report and those responsible should be held responsible. On volunteer issues it is up to the league to sort such efforts out. Players may choose to play without a referee and beg one to stay that does not feel it is appropriate to play only to call him every dirty name for spoiling their fun not a comfortable situation but one that is NOT the fault of the referee..Cheers

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