Club Soccer Referee Program

Soccer programs all around the country need more referees. One of the ways to help solve the shortage is for Clubs to develop in-house referee programs.  This is a sample Club Soccer Referee program.





Soccer Referee

Soccer Referee





© Copyright

John C. Harves

All Rights Reserved




Important Note:  Because this is a Club Soccer Referee Program, this document contains differences between both the IFAB Laws of the Game and FIFA Referee mechanics.





Soccer programs all around the country continuously need more referees.  One of the ways to help solve the referee shortage is for Clubs to develop in-house referee programs for teens through adults, male and female. A successful Club program not only addresses the shortage, but also can provide the Club with an opportunity to reduce costs.  In addition, a referee program directed at 13- to 18-year-olds provides the participants involved with a source of income and a greater understanding of the game.  For those communities that require volunteer credits for high school graduation, participants may be able to obtain credits by foregoing payment for a period of time.  This connection has to be made formally by the Club with the school system.

Also known as “Junior Referee,” Youth Referee,” “Instructional Referee,” or “In-House Referee” programs, substituting the actual Club name for “Club” in the title is recommended as being all-inclusive.  For example, everywhere “Club” is referenced, the text could be changed to read, “Springfield Soccer Referee Program” or “Springfield Soccer Club Referee Program” or “Springfield Soccer Association Referee Program.”  Before deciding on an appropriate name, however, it should be confirmed that the title does not conflict with that of an existing organization or could in any way be confused with another local or regional referee program.

The assumption used in the Club Soccer Referee Program is that, after proper training, sole Referees will be assigned as individuals to officiate recreational youth games assisted by two Linespersons, one each provided by the participating teams.  As an alternative, one Club Referee could be assigned with two Club Assistant Referees from the Club Referee pool.  Either of these approaches use the traditional “Diagonal System of Control” (also known as the 3-person system) for officiating, but the Club Linespersons do not call offside.  [See the Appendix regarding the old, non-traditional, “Dual System of Control” (also known as the 2-person system).]

For youth who participate, the Club Soccer Referee Program represents a golden opportunity to learn both the details of the Laws of the Game and the interactions by players and coaches with Referees.  Hopefully, this can improve both their appreciation for the game and their own skills.  Similarly, when conducted properly, the youngest players who see and interact with the Club Referees will learn more about the game and can aspire to ultimately join the Referee Program. The Club Referee Program must not be undertaken lightly.  It involves a serious commitment by the Club and all participants.  To be robust, the Program needs proper administrative rules to be in place, appropriate funding, and dedicated and responsible staffing



The Club must establish formal documentation and dedicated staff to ensure that the Club Referee Program will operate properly.  Policies and Procedures need to be put into place regarding all aspects of the function of the Program, and the Duties and Responsibilities of the staff involved need to be spelled out.  Club Referees are to be taught the Laws of the Game, officiating mechanics, and general club rules.

It is extremely important to note that it is unreasonable for the Club to expect Club Program Referees to know all of the rules for all of the competitions for every age group and every tournament that the Club conducts or to be able to act as seasoned, professional, adult referees.  “Local Rules Cards,” to be provided to Referees before each game, will cover the majority of this concern.  Otherwise, Referees need to be provided with timely information regarding implementation of modified rules applicable to different games.  An example of this would be the overtime and/or penalty kick procedures associated with “knock-out” games that are required to go to a winner.  (In the past Clubs even experimented with such things as “open-net” tiebreakers, where the goalkeepers were pulled, that required significant Referee understanding.)

Formal Documentation

Changes to Club Rules

Coach’s Code of Conduct – Must clearly state that: 1. Coaches are to demonstrate the very best example of good behavior toward Referees; 2. Coaches shall educate parents and supporters that Referees are to be shown the respect they deserve – no matter what their age – otherwise there would be no games; 3. Coaches shall not permit parents or supporters to go onto the field or to approach Referees at any time; 4. Coaches shall immediately report irresponsible behavior on the part of parents or supporters to the Club; 5. Coaches acknowledge that the Referee Program is of significant benefit to the Club and will be supported; 6. Coaches recognize that the majority of Referees in the Club Program are teenagers and therefore are still learning how to officiate and shall not be treated like seasoned adults; 7. Coaches are expected to physically protect Club Referees if the need should arise; and, 8. Coaches are subject to sanctions by the Club for ejections or any improper behavior directed at Referees.

Parent and Supporter Code of Conduct – All adults are obligated to protect and defend Referees.  The Code must clearly state that no parents or supporters are permitted to enter the field of play during a match unless authorized to do so by the Referee.  Any type of verbal abuse directed at a Referee will result in suspension from all Club activities.  Any type of physical assault directed at a Referee will result in prosecution.

No Protests – Protests are not allowed of games officiated by Club Referees. If a Club Referee is assigned to a game, but no one shows up, the game is to be played with two volunteer referees, one from each team officiating half of the game, unless mutually agreed upon by both coaches.  Team Linespersons should still be provided.  Results are final.

Tax Treatment (Club) – This is likely to depend on the Club’s legal status with the IRS, but needs to be properly researched no matter what.  If there is to be withholding associate with referee pay, all proper and formal documentation must be created and submitted.  If not, Club Referees must be informed that there is no withholding, but that payments should be treated by them as income.

Tax Treatment (Referees) – The Club shall provide formal notification to Referees of how the Club is addressing payments for tax purposes.  Referees (and/or parents and guardians) shall be specifically notified if they are to consider their payments as needing to be self-reported as income.

Liability (Tort) Insurance – Clubs must be insured in case of being sued by referees, parents of referees, players, or parents of players.  Referees themselves, or parents of referees, must be insured in case of being sued by coaches, players, or parents of players.  See similar issues for a coach in “Soccer Coach, Protect Yourself!”

Release Forms – Current liability and medical release forms must be executed and on file for all referees and coaches.

Other Legal Concerns – Child labor laws, as applicable to the Club.

Fee Schedule for Teams – Fees to teams for the Club Referee Program may be actual or include a pro-rated portion for providing and stocking equipment, including such things as clothing and training materials.  Provisions should be made for refunds for games to which Club Referees were assigned but did not appear.

Pay Scale for Referees – This may be a sliding scale, based on the length of games, which are usually based on age groups.  There should also be a provision for payment of an Assistant Referee in a 3-man system covered by all-Club officials.

Respect for Club Referees – Proper treatment of referees by players, parents, coaches, and spectators is mandatory.  Most are youth.  They will make mistakes.  Coaches are responsible for the conduct of their players, parents, assistants, and supporters.

Games with one Club Referee – Each coach is required to provide a Team Linesperson for the duration of the game (it does not have to be the same person for the whole game) to call sideline outs. Coaches must train their Team Linespersons on how to properly identify balls having gone out of bounds on the sidelines (whole ball completely over the line whether on the ground or in the air), and how to use the flag (straight up then point in the throwing direction).  Team Linespersons are not to call offside.

Record-Keeping – Formal policies and procedures must be put into place for capturing the data associated with all Club Referees, including assignments, games officiated, and fees paid.

Local Rules and Local Rules Cards – The Club shall provide Local Rules cards to the coaches.  Coaches shall provide Local Rules cards to Club Referees that show all changes from the Laws of the Game for their particular age group or competition.   Cards shall be printed on heavy-duty card stock and provided to all coaches, in each associated age group, in sufficient quantity so that one card may be handed to each Club Referee before every game.  Local Rules must address the proper award to be applied at the younger age groups for not being allowed to 1.) head the ball; and/or 2.) slide tackle.

Feedback – Coaches may provide comments or evaluation of Club Referees by email to an Assessor.  Coaches are not to direct any comments, criticism, suggestions, or anything else directly to a Club Referee.  Coaches are not to say anything derogatory or demeaning to Club Referees at any time.  Coaches are not to ask a Club Referee for their name, because this can be linked at the Club level.

Termination for Cause – The Club needs to specifically identify the circumstances or behaviors for which Club Referees are to be released from the Program.  A formal Referee Code of Conduct may be created and distributed.

Website – It is assumed that the Club has its own, current and effective website.  This website needs to be modified and updated to include all aspects and documentation for the Club Referee Program.

Referee Program Specifics

Scheduling – The Club must establish a formal timeline for all aspects of the Club Referee Program, including such things as advertising for applicants, the final deadline for applications, the date for sending out acceptances, and the training dates, times and locations.  All of this needs to be consistent with the Club programs, especially allowing enough time from the end of the Program to the start dates for Club competitions that will use the Club Referees.

Minimum Age Determination – The Club must determine the youngest age to be allowed for Club Referee Program participation.  The current assumption is that it will be 13-years old.  The Club must make a determination regarding the age for parental consent.  The current assumption is under 18-years old.

Application – Consists of a completed, signed original of the Application form, a copy of the KidSafe (or similar) program Certificate demonstrating successful completion, a signed original of the Club Waiver of Liability and Release Form, and a signed original of the Club Medical Release Form.  Applicants should also have their own medical insurance.

Acceptance – This usually consists of a simple e-mail back to the Applicant, assuming that all paperwork was in order.  Otherwise, this needs to be a request for missing documentation or information.

Certificate of Training – Upon successful completion of the full instructional program (classes, on-field, and testing), a formal, signed Certificate is to be awarded to all Club Referees by the Club.

Payment Schedule – This is recommended at every two weeks. This may be a burden on the Club, but it provides positive reinforcement to the Referees.  Referees are to be paid in full for games that are assigned and attended, even if the game is not played due to no-shows or an insufficient number of players.

Payment Process – It is assumed that this will be by checks, however, if the Club has the capability to do this electronically it certainly can do so.  Of course, additional information, and possibly a waiver, will be required from each Referee to put this in place.

Ability Levels or Rankings – Generally, the categories of “Beginner,” “Intermediate,” and “Advanced” may be applied to Club Referees as the program advances.  This could otherwise simply be a “1,” “2,” or “3.”  Rankings should also reflect a combination of age and experience.  This concept is particularly helpful when scheduling is being passed to another Club staffer.

Game Reports from Referees to Club – Must include:  Referee Name, Game Date, Game Time, Game Location, Final Score by Team Color, Number of Cautions Issued, Number of Ejections Issued. If an Ejection is issued, specific details of the ejection, including jersey number if a player, or description if a coach or supporter, and reason.  Did the coaches provide Local Rules cards?  Any problems encountered?  The report shall be submitted by the Referee to the Club via email within 24-hours of the end of the game.

Referee Evaluations from Coaches to Club – Coaches are not required to report, but it is recommended.  Not reporting will be assumed by the Club that everything was acceptable.  Optional reporting may include: Coach Name, Game Date, Game Time, Game Location, Referee Timeliness (or if Referee did not show up at all), Referee Appearance, Referee had all equipment, Referee started game on time, Referee appeared to have a grasp of the rules, Referee was fit and kept up with play.  If an Ejection occurred, reporting by each coach is mandatory and must contain a detailed explanation of what occurred, even if it did not involve the coach’s team.  Reporting should include details of any other problems, such as with goals or field markings, and Suggestions. A rating scale may be applied, such as 1-to-5, with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent.  A physical card may be used. This report should be submitted via email within 24-hours of the end of a game.

Certification of Games Officiated – Every two weeks, such as on each Monday prior to “pay-days,” Referees should be required to submit a formal (signed or e-signed) certification of the games officiated for which they expect to be paid.  This should include, Time, Date; Location; Age Group; Start Time; Sole Referee (with Club Linespersons), 2-man System, Referee with Club Assistant Referees, or Club Assistant Referee.


The Club must decide what equipment to stock and who pays for it.

Recommended:  The Club stocks and provides the following mandatory items free of charge to all Program Referees who successfully complete training:  Shirt, Shorts, Socks, Whistle, Lanyard, Yellow & Red cards, Linespersons flags, and Coin.  Additional requests for these items may be supplied to the Program Referees at cost.  (As an alternative, the Club may charge a nominal fee for mandatory equipment as a way to get “buy-in.”)

Suggested:  Either the Club stocks standardized, optional, cold- and foul-weather gear, to be supplied to the Program Referees at cost, or the Club standardizes this equipment and tells participants what to get and where to get it.  If possible, Clubs should design and procure an embroidered “badge” that referees could wear.  It should carry the Club name and the word “Referee.”  Further, a decision needs to be made regarding an appropriate mechanism for the badge’s attachment to a shirt or jacket.

Participants:  Must purchase their own watches, shoes, backup equipment, and supplies.  These may also be standardized by the Club.

Instructional Materials

Instructional materials may be Books, Websites, Handouts, and Tests.  These should include:

  1. The IFAB Laws of the Game and associated materials, available at the International Football Association Board website,
  2. Preventive Officiating” by Randy Vogt, available at  This book is strong on both rules and mechanics.  Participants are strongly cautioned to acknowledge that a printed book such as this, which references the Laws of the Game, is not always kept current.  Instructors must point out and correct all rules changes since publication.
  3. The entire section of on Rules.
  4. The Club Website.
  5. This document.
  6. The names and contact information for all appropriate program staff.


Training sessions for all new applicants should be provided twice a year, in late summer and in early spring, well before the start of the outdoor seasons.  There should be at least three classroom meetings and at least one on-field meeting. Testing should be conducted at the end of both the last classroom session and the on-field session.  In addition, there should be a separate classroom session in the early spring for returning referees in order to go over the rule changes made by The IFAB to the Laws of the Game for the upcoming seasonal year.

After successful completion of the course material, the Instructor should issue an appropriate Certificate to each participant.



Statements of Duties should be written for each staff position created to administer the program.  One person can perform more than one function (except if an “Advocate” is used – that person should have no other duties with the referee program).  These positions may include:

Club Referee Program Commissioner

This individual should be an officer of the Club who is given overall managerial control for the operation of the Program.


The existing Club treasurer must ensure that the Program has an appropriated budget, that the associated fees for the Program are charged and allocated, and that dues have been received.

Equipment Manager/Procurement

A knowledgeable, competent, responsible individual who is familiar with purchasing soccer equipment and supplies must first ensure that budgeted funds are available and that payment will be authorized by the Treasurer for acquisition of Program needs.  Second, the procurement of clothing is best made using known suppliers or by having obtained and evaluated samples.  Third, the procurement needs to be made well before the products are needed.  This individual is likely to be the same person already managing acquisitions for the Club.  In addition to clothing and supplies, procurement also includes the acquisition of instructional books and materials.


The Program instructor should be a fully-certified, experienced and competent Referee, knowledgeable and current in all aspects of officiating.  This individual should also be a proven, effective, and responsible teacher or coach.

Rules Commissioner

This is the one and only person that Club Referees should contact regarding rules interpretations or explanations.  This involves the Laws of the Game, Local Rules, and the Club Rules.  This is usually the Instructor, but may not be.


This is the sole individual who is designated to assign Referees to officiate games.  Assignor(s) must be aware if Club Referees play for teams within the Club in order to ensure that no possible conflicts of interest, or even the appearance of conflicts of interest, occur.  One of the easiest ways to address this is to ensure that Club Referees are only assigned to games below their age groups.  It is essential that Club Referees know who this person is and how to contact them properly.  This individual should be available to take calls at all times that games are being officiated by Club Referees.  This person should have a formal back-up.


This individual can perform strategic, on-site reviews or evaluations of Club Referees and receive the Coach comment emails.  Evaluations can be used for Referee rankings that may determine assignments, or feedback used to improve individual performance.  Otherwise, the Club must determine what to do with the information developed.  If an Assessor is used, it is suggested that they remain anonymous so that they do not affect the performance of a Referee by being recognized at a field.  Assessments can be provided to the Scheduler and/or the Instructor for feedback to individuals.


This individual acts as an independent and reliable supporter who can be contacted by Club Referees knowing that he or she will listen to their concerns and, in total confidentially, attempt to defend or promote their interests.  This is an extremely important concept if a Referee should be harassed or perceive to be placed under duress, especially by a Coach.  Referees shall be told of the existence of this person and how to contact them.  The advantages of an Advocate include keeping referees in the program and providing Important information back to the Club.  The disadvantage of an Advocate is an abject violation of trust, like the Director of an office who has an “open-door policy” going back to a supervisor and identifying the employee who raised a concern about them.






Completed Paperwork



“KidSafe,” or similar program Certificate on File

Waiver of Liability and Release Form on File

Medical Release Form on File

Certificate of Training Completion Issued

Record of Games Officiated and Record of all Payments


Mandatory Equipment

Shirt, Shorts, Socks, Shoes – All regulation black with white trim (“referee-specific”: at least the shorts must have pockets!)  (Shorts may also need drawstrings.)

Good Whistle, Backup Whistle (if possible)


Wristwatch with movable outer dial, Stopwatch (if possible) [Mobile Phone*]

*Generally, this is not recommended due to security concerns while running

Pen or Pencil, Paper (e.g., pocket notebook or 3×5 card) for Game Report


Linespersons’ Flags

Red and Yellow Cards


Optional Equipment


Alternate Shirt of a different color



Knit cap


Air pump and needle

Water bottle

Sideline bag

(See complete list of “Referees’ Kit”)



Uniform always neat, clean, and regulation (Remember, the proper attire connotes authority.)

Shirt tucked in

Socks stay up

No head bands (elastics, rubber bands or scrunchies okay for women) or caps (except for cold weather)

Full fitness



Be measured, calm, cool, and collected at all times

Avoid arguments

Do not fraternize with players, coaches or anyone where it may be perceived as bias

Let no one intimidate you

Do not talk to or otherwise engage with spectators

If necessary, you can quickly explain a rule to a player to correct something, but remember that you are not to “coach.”  Similarly, you can personally place a ball in the proper location if a young player does not understand how to do so.

(Note: Misbehavior on the part of a Referee can result in removal from the Program.  No alcohol or smoking.)


What is Expected of a Referee?

Referees are to apply the Laws of the Game equally, fairly, and consistently for both teams during the entire course of a match.

  • Prompt appearance in regulation uniform
  • Speed, alertness, and confidence
  • Control of the game
  • Prompt rendering of correct decisions
  • Absolute integrity and unbiased performance (total impartiality)
  • Good judgement
  • Proper signals and a loud whistle
  • A full understanding of the rules and how they are applied (including the concept of “Local Rules”
  • A professional attitude
  • Being pleasant but firm
  • Consistency in calls
  • Not running with the whistle in the mouth



Don’t take games unless you can actually do them

Keep accurate records of game assignments, locations, dates and times

Research field locations in advance – Allow plenty of time to get to the field at least fifteen minutes prior to the start of the first game

If for some reason you can’t make it to a game after having accepted the assignment, it is your duty to contact the Scheduler immediately as soon as you know

Note that, occasionally, there may be a gap between games at the same field


Game Reports

Game Reports from Referees to the Club – At a minimum, must include:  Referee Name, Game Date, Game Time, Game Location, Final Score by Team Color, Number of Cautions Issued, Number of Ejections Issued. If Ejection issued, specific details of the ejection, including jersey number if a player, or description if a coach or supporter, and reason.  Did the coaches provide Local Rules cards?  Any problems encountered?  The report shall be submitted by the Referee to the Club via email within 24-hours of the end of the game.


Reporting Problems

Document (write down) anything that you think might be a potential problem, however small.  Do not trust your memory.

Report serious problems to the Rules Commissioner the same day, including if a game had to be terminated for any reason.

Report any scheduling difficulties, like no teams at the field you were assigned to, to the Assigning Commissioner immediately.


Record of Games Officiated



Age Group or Division


Time, Date; Location; Age Group; Start Time; Sole Referee (with Team Linespersons), 2-man System, Referee with Club Assistant Referees, or Assistant Referee





Confirm Assignment – Upon accepting an assignment to officiate a game, first confirm if you will be the only Referee or if you will be with a partner.  Understand the day, date, time, and location of the match.  Ask what age group will be playing.  Then, capture the details in a formal record, written or electronic or both, and ensure that it is well recognized by you (and anyone else who needs to know).  If there is ever a question before the match, or if you cannot keep your commitment, contact the Scheduler immediately.  Often, there are multiple games to be officiated in a row.  Confirm exactly how many games you will be officiating and get the details for each.  Confirm that the game(s) is a regular season, straight-running time game.  If not, such as for a tournament playoff game, get the specifics regarding overtime or going to a “penalty-kick tiebreaker” to determine which team advances.

Ensure Proper Equipment – Confirm that you have everything you need before leaving for the field.

Arrive Early – Ensure that you know the location of the game field.  Allow enough travel time to arrive at the field at least 15-minutes before kickoff.  Add in extra time for possible traffic problems.  (There is an assumption that Club Referees will either have their own mobile phone or will have access to one borrowed from a coach or parent at the field.  If the Referee has their own phone, the name and number(s) of the Scheduler is to be put in “contacts.”  If the Referee does not have their own phone, the name and number(s) of the Scheduler must be kept in a wallet or notebook or readily available by calling a parent or guardian.  If a problem is encountered at the field, call immediately.

Show a Positive Demeanor – Strike the balance between friendly and professional.  Children need to see smiles and recognize that the Referee is there to help them have run.  Parents and coaches need to know that you are confident, well-trained, and will do a proper job.  This starts with being properly dressed and on time.

Keep Game Report Information

In advance, write down the time, date, field location, team colors and, if possible, the team names and the coaches names.  Keep a record of each score as they occur.  Write down the halftime score and the final score.  Record any ejections, the player’s number and the details of the ejection when it occurs.  Immediately after the game, write down any problems that occurred in as much detail as possible.  Do not leave anything to memory.

Inspect the Field – Upon arrival, ensure that the participants are gathering.  If no one is there, call the Scheduler immediately.  Jog around the field checking the goals, nets, flags and markings – repair gaps in the nets if possible (otherwise, make a mental note of where they are).  Remember that the primary objective is to get the game played.  The only thing in this category that could be cause for cancellation of the match is if one or both of the goals is unsafe – broken or unsecured and could tip over.  Notify the coaches if anything can be improved by them.  You may provide whatever assistance you wish, such as repairing nets, putting down disks, or clearing debris from the field.  The coaches are supposed to have been informed in advance that it is their mutual responsibility to help improve the field, not yours, and that they are to do everything to help get the game played.  (Remember that lightning or thunder ends games immediately.)

Confer with Each Coach – Obtain complete agreement as to the length of the game (whether or not overtime will be played and, if so, the length of time; if tied at the end, whether or not penalty kicks will be used); when or if the clock stops; and, the procedure for substitution.  For the vast majority of recreation games, there will be no overtimes and a “straight, running clock” will be used.  Confirm any “local rules,” including ball size and the number of players per team. (Coaches should provide you with a local rules card.  If the dimensions of the field are down-sized for younger players, ensure that the card includes the corresponding distance from the goal for the Penalty Kick Spot.)  Record the names of the coaches and their team names.  If you are the only Referee, ask each coach to provide one Team Linesperson.  Again, coaches are supposed to know that this is a requirement. If they do not provide Linesperson(s) the game is still to be played and this fact included in the Game Report.   Instruct the Linespersons that their job is to call “out-of-bounds” only, not offside.  Give them each a flag and instruct them how to raise it straight up when the ball goes completely over the line and then to point the flag in the direction the throw-in is to be made.  Ask which team is the “designated home team” and obtain a properly-sized, properly-inflated game ball from them.  Inform them that you will perform team inspection and to have their captains ready.

Provide Instructions to Team Linespersons – “Thank you for your assistance.  Here is a flag.  Per Club rules, you are to help me with sideline-outs only.  When the whole of the ball goes entirely over the sideline, whether on the ground or in the air, please raise the flag straight overhead.  After that, please point the flag in the direction the throwing team is attacking.  The ball can not curve back into play.”

Perform Team Inspection – About five minutes before game time, get all of the members of both teams together, including coaches.  Remind the players to avoid contact with the goalie.  Tell them about playing the ball, not the man.  Look for illegal equipment (no baseball, football or track spikes – the expectation is molded-rubber cleats or tennis shoes; no wristwatches, bracelets, necklaces or other jewelry). There are not exceptions for illegal equipment, including hair barrettes, pierced earrings or other piercings. Casts or splints are allowed if very well padded.  As the Referee, you alone make the final decision about padding.  Ensure that everyone is wearing shinguards.  Ensure that any equipment problems are fixed.  Do not ask for questions.  Call for and greet the captains.  Dismiss everyone else back to their sideline.

Pre-Game Coin Toss – Ask for the team captains from both teams to come to midfield.  Identify the visiting team captain.  If there is more than one, ask which one, single player, will call the toss.  Show the coin and identify which side is “heads” and which side is “tails.”  (It does not have to be real money, just a coin that can easily be identified as heads and tails.)   Ask for the visiting team captain to call “heads” or “tails,” in advance of the flip. Flip the coin and let it hit the ground.  Identify whether it was “heads” or “tails.” Have the captain of the team that won the coin toss decide which goal that team will attack in the first half of the match or if they want the kick-off.  If a direction is chosen, the other team kicks off.  If the kick-off is chosen, the other team decides which goal they will attack first. Gently direct the captain whose team is kicking off, to move to their correct half of the field and have them face in the proper direction that their team will be attacking.   Demonstrate this by standing next to them and giving a swing of your leg.

Get the Players on the Field – Make sure you know exactly who the designated goalkeeper is for both teams and that they are wearing a different-colored shirt.  If not, then the shirt must be changed or a different-colored pinnie worn on top.  (If this has to be done, the player is to be sent to the coach and the coach is responsible for making the change.)  Count to see that neither team has more than the designated number of players according to local rules.  If a team starts short and another player arrives after the match has started, the player may be waved in without stopping the game if you see that he or she has no illegal equipment.  (The coach is supposed to know that the player may not join the game without first waiting at the sideline and then being recognized by you.  They can not just run in without your permission.  The coach is to respectfully call to you to get your attention, just like for substitutions.)

Kickoff – Stand outside the center circle.  Ask both goalkeepers in turn if they are ready, by loudly calling out their jersey color (e.g., “Blue team goalie, are you ready?”).  This lets everyone know the team-color designations you will be using.  If all players are in their half of the field, and all defenders are outside the circle, blow you whistle that play may begin.  Otherwise, get the players correctly positioned first.  Once the ball is properly kicked off, confirm that your watch is properly set for the correct length of time.  Stay near the play, but do not interfere with it.  Start the game on timeIf everyone is ready before the designated starting time, it is okay to start early.

Start the Watch – If you are using a dial, ensure that it is set properly.  If you are using a stopwatch, ensure that you have pressed the button.  Make sure it is working.  Remember to monitor the time!

Using the Whistle – The general concept is to use the whistle as little as possible. Younger players may need to hear it more often than older players, with the usage diminishing over time, as they become more-and-more familiar with the rules.

  • Before a kick-off, give a single, short, clear blast.
  • When a foul has been committed, give a single, firm, clear blast.
  • When the ball has gone out of bounds, but players keep playing, give a single, clear blast.
  • When asked for a substitution by a coach, at a proper time for substitutions, give three, clear, spaced blasts.
  • At the end of a period, give one, clear, extended blast, then verbally announce “half” or “game.”

Each use of the whistle should be accompanied by its associated visual signal.

Calling Out-of-Bounds on the Sidelines

As the sole referee and if Team Linespersons are used, reinforce their calls by pointing in the direction of the throw.  Do not use the whistle. (Except for an obvious, totally incorrect call by a Team Linesperson, do not over-rule them.)  Only blow the whistle if the players do not stop when the flag goes up.  If players do not understand the hand signal, say the equivalent of “Blue Throw” and point in the correct direction.

As the sole referee and if Team Linespersons are not used, when the ball goes out give a short, light blast on the whistle and point in the direction of the throw.  Again, if players do not understand the hand signal, say the equivalent of “Blue Throw” and point in the correct direction.


Remember that the ball is to be thrown from (as reasonably close to) the point where it went out of bounds. If a player starts a throw-in run at the point where the ball went out (or is standing to throw much farther upfield), call him or her back before the throw and state that the ball must be released where it went out. Point to that spot. (You are free to additionally state to the player to start their run from farther back.)   If it happens again, let the player throw the ball and then penalize the foul throw.  If a player chooses to throw the ball somewhat closer to their own goal from where it went out, let them do so.

If the ball does not pass into the field of play when it is thrown, the throw-in is to be retaken. State “The ball never came in,” and get the ball back to the thrower at the original spot.  If the ball enters the field of play and then curves out (such as due to wind), the other team takes the throw where the ball went out.  For a foul throw involving the hands (such as a one-handed throw), state “Foul Throw,” give the visual arm signal and state “[other team’s color] Throw.”  Use the same approach for a foul throw involving lifting a foot, but give the visual foot signal.  [NOTE: At the youngest levels, some Clubs give “second tries” before awarding a foul throw to the other team.]

(Note that in the “Two-Person Referee System,” you act as both a Referee and a Linesperson.)


For Club recreational games, unlimited substitutions and resubstitutions (return substitutions) are permitted during certain stoppages based on Local Rules.  These stoppages usually are:

  • Prior to a throw-in for the throwing team only
  • Prior to a kick-off for either team
  • Prior to a goal kick for either team
  • At quarter breaks, hydration breaks, or halftime for either team
  • Upon issuance of a Caution, only for the player involved*
  • Upon injury, only for the player involved*

*other team may substitute a like number

Coaches are supposed to know when they can substitute according to Local Rules.  Coaches are to get the Referee’s attention for a substitution by loudly and politely calling out “Ref, sub, please!” or something similar.  Coaches are supposed to know that substitutes are to enter at midfield.  Coaches are supposed to be ready, not go on the field, and perform the process quickly and efficiently.  When substitution is called for:

  • Ensure that the ball is not in play.
  • Ensure that the substitution is permitted by rule. (Otherwise, state, “Sorry, can’t do it now.” This most often occurs after a foul.)
  • Blow the whistle three quick times and signal with the overhead wave that play is stopped and substitution(s) is being made. (If it looks like a player, who doesn’t understand, is going to try and kick or throw the ball in to continue the game, you can just stand in front of them, or maybe you can hold the ball.)
  • Wave the substitutes on with the visual signal.
  • Count the number of substitutes coming on.

Watch and count the number of substitutes going off.  Ensure that they are equal.  (Remember that more could come off, that a team can play with fewer numbers, as long as the total does not drop below the minimum to continue.)

  • Exiting players may go off anywhere.
  • If there is a goalkeeper change, the Coach or player should tell you. If you are not told, and you realize this is happening, simply call to the Coach, “Are you making a goalkeeper change?” (If the goalkeepers have to change a pinnie, just abide.)
  • When large numbers of substitutes are made, especially by both teams at the same time, it is very easy to lose count. Simply wait until it is all over and count both teams on the field.  You must be comfortable that everything is okay.
  • Ensure that you are in position and that the game is going to re-start based on why the stoppage was made in the first place (e.g., a goal kick).
  • Give a short blast on the whistle, together with the Play-On visual signal, and state, “Let’s Play!”

If a player has been injured, deal with the injury first.  If the player is taken off, ask if the coach wishes to substitute.  If so, ask the other coach if they want to substitute.

Remember that a player who has been Ejected may not be replaced or “substituted.”

Calling Fouls

  1. Give a single, clear blast on the whistle.
  2. State firmly the offending team color and the foul while giving the appropriate visual signal for the foul. (Example, “Blue tripping” with leg movement.)
  3. Point toward the goal that the kicking team is attacking and clearly state either “Direct” or “Indirect.” (If young players don’t seem to understand, one can say, “[Color] kick.”)
  4. Ensure that the ball is properly placed and not moving. (Address the correct location of a “wall” if one is established.  When moving a wall, clearly state to the kicking team that they must wait for your signal before taking the kick.)
  5. If the foul is Indirect, place one arm up above your held and hold it there until the kick is taken.
  6. When you are ready and in position, give a sweeping underarm motion and say, “play.”  If there is hesitation, give a short, single, clear blast on the whistle and loudly state, “Play!”.


The “3-Person System”

(Sole Referee with 2 Team Linespersons or Sole Referee with 2 Club Assistant Referees – or Sole Referee with no assistants.)

Diagonal System of Control

The “3-Person” officiating system is the use of either one Referee and two Team Linespersons or one Referee and two Club Assistant Referees.  In either case the sole Referee generally runs the field on a diagonal from a spot just beyond the outer-corner of one Penalty Area, through the Center Circle, to a spot just beyond the outer-corner of the other Penalty Area.  (The same approach is used if there are no Linespersons or Assistant Referees.)  The Linespersons or Assistant Referees run in a lane, approximately 1-yard outside the touchlines, from about ten yards beyond the halfway line to the end-line.  This is the “Diagonal System of Control.”

In unfortunate situations, the Referee may have to officiate a game with not assistants.  In this case, it is recommended that the Referee still run the diagonal of the 3-person system.  As an option, however, the Referee may run on a line roughly ten yards inside the filed of play and parallel to one of the sidelines.

[See Appendix I for the “2-Person System” or “Dual System of Control.”]


In the lowest age groups, “advantage” should essentially not be called.  Call the foul.  As the age and ability of players advance, along with the understanding of “advantage” by both the players and the coaches, “advantage” may be called when it is applicable close to the attacking goal.  The criterion is for a real chance of a goal being scored, not just for a player or a team to retain possession of the ball after the foul.  (At the highest levels, “advantage” may be applied farther out from the attacking goal, but more rarely near midfield and essentially never in the attackers’ defensive half of the field.)

If you think you are in an advantage situation, first wait a second to see if it looks like it is really going to materialize.  If you apply the advantage clause, loudly state “Advantage,” and simultaneously give the double-under-arm visual signal.  This can even be reinforced by then stating “Play on.” At the soonest possible time thereafter, you may wish to give a verbal warning to the player who committed the foul.  (In an extreme case, a card may be warranted. Also, watch out for possible retaliation.)

Penalty Kick

Local Rules often define smaller field dimensions for younger children.  As such, the Penalty Mark may be set at less than 12-yards.  Even if a field is lined, it is not to be assumed that the Penalty Mark has been correctly measured. If the field is not lined, you need to step off the correct distance anyway.  Follow the Local Rules for placement of the ball on a down-sized field and use the standard 12-yards on a full-sized field.

  1. Step off the correct distance for placement of the ball. (If Local Rules do not define the location of the Penalty Mark on a down-sized field, double the distance of the outer line of the Goal Area.  If only an outer line for the Penalty Area exists, use two-thirds of that distance.)
  2. Ask for the kicker.
  3. Remind the goalkeeper that at least one foot must be on the Goal Line at the moment the ball is kicked.
  4. Remind all players that, other than the goalkeeper and the kicker, they must stay outside the Penalty Area and the penalty-kick arc until the ball is kicked.
  5. Move to the Goal Line, outside of a goal-post.
  6. Signal that the kick is to be taken by a short, soft blast on the whistle and a forward hand motion.

Remember that a Penalty Kick is a “re-start” during the game and, as such, the ball is live as soon at it is kicked forward.

Halftime Interval

Players are always allowed a halftime break, but they do not have to take the full amount of time permitted and they must not take more.  Youth games usually allow 10-minutes.

  • Five minutes before the halftime interval is due to expire, go to the center circle, give a short blast on the whistle, and call for the players to return to the field.
  • Ensure that the teams are properly switching ends.
  • If the teams are ready before the interval is due to expire, proceed with the kickoff.
  • If the teams are not returning to the field in a timely manner, go over to the respective coach(es) and remind them that the game must resume before the halftime interval expires.
  • Count the players on both teams, ask the defending keeper if they are ready.
  • Ensure a proper kickoff. Make sure your watch is set.


(Note:  If there was a timing error in the first half, never add or subtract time in the second half.  Play out the full time for the second half.)


If the defense chooses to build a “wall” to defend a free kick:

  • The attackers may kick whenever you signal that YOU are ready or they may ask for you to mark off the 10-yards.  (Remember that there is nothing in the rules that provides the defense with enough time to build a wall.)
  • YOU can decide if the wall is too close.
  • Loudly tell the attackers they must wait for your signal to take the kick.
  • Make sure the ball is spotted and no-one moves it. (May apply “Vanishing Spray.”)
  • Quickly pace off the correct distance, signal where the wall must go, and ensure that the wall players move back. (May apply “Vanishing Spray.”)
  • If you wish, use this opportunity to remind attackers they can’t get in the wall and defenders that they can’t move until the ball is kicked.  (Attackers must stay at least one-yard away from the wall players in any direction.)
  • Get into the proper position.
  • Give a short blast on the whistle and say, “Play.”

Cautions and Ejections

If you must issue a card:

  • Stand approximately six feet away from the player.
  • If the player walks away, firmly call them back. (Do not yell, scold or accuse.)
  • Do not chase after a player.
  • Hold the correct card directly over your head.
  • If the player continues to walk away, say “(Jersey Number) Caution (or Ejected)”
  • Record the appropriate information.
  • If an ejection, ensure that the player leaves the field of play. (If the ejected player subsequently yells anything or affects the game in any way, the coach is to be warned that the player is to be escorted from the area and monitored.  If it happens again, then the coach is to be cautioned.  (Again, ejection.  Again, game is to be terminated.)
  • Use the correct re-start to resume play.

Remember, if you have to issue a second yellow card to the same player in the same game, first you show the yellow card, then you show the red card.

Dropped Balls

Dropped balls are most often used to re-start a game after stoppages for injuries or unforeseen events that occur while the ball is in play.  Dropped balls are used mostly in youth games at the lowest levels and then become less frequent with each succeeding age group.  If a dropped ball is used:

  • Stand to one side of the player to whom the ball is being dropped.
  • Hold the ball with the palm of one hand under the ball.
  • Position the ball at the waist-level of the player, approximate two-feet out in front.
  • Release the ball to the ground by pulling your hand down and away from underneath the ball, in a way that allows gravity to take the ball straight down.


In the youngest age groups, if an apparent injury occurs, blow the whistle and stop the game immediately, no matter what the position of the ball.  Check on the player.  If the ball had gone out of play, use the appropriate re-start.  If not, use a dropped ball.  (You must feel comfortable that you can handle responding to an injury – parents will look to the referee first.)

As players get older and an apparent injury occurs, Referee discretion comes into play to determine when to stop the game.  Generally, the determining factor is if there is an immediate chance of a goal-scoring opportunity – and the player does not appear to be badly injured – then play should be allowed to continue briefly.  Otherwise, err on the side of caution and stop the game.  Check on the player.  If the ball had gone out of play, use the appropriate re-start.  If not, use a dropped ball.


On rare occasions, you may be asked to officiate a tournament game where a winner must be decided to see which team advances.  If so, you must obtain the details for overtime.  This may include two equal time periods or “first-goal wins,” or a combination of something else.  If you get a tournament game, obtain the specific.  If tied after overtime, the game usually goes to Penalty Kicks to determine the winner.

Penalty Kicks Tiebreaker

If you must go to a penalty-kick “shootout”:

  • Keep all of the existing players on the field. They must not go to the sideline and no substitutes may enter.
  • Decide which goal to use.
  • Seat both teams apart from each other at midfield.
  • Have a coin toss. The team winning the toss kicks first.
  • Alternate kicks. Keep a detailed record.  Separate kickers who have taken their kicks.
  • There are usually five kicks each. If one team cannot mathematically beat or tie the other team if five kicks are taken, then the process is over.  You do not have to complete the remaining kicks.
  • If the score is tied after five kicks each, proceed with “sudden death” alternating pairs of kickers. If one scores and the other does not, the process is over.

End of Game

After the final whistle:

  • Return the game ball. Thank both coaches.
  • Retrieve your flags. Thank the Linespersons.
  • Remember to retrieve your sideline bag and any other personal equipment.
  • Ensure that you have everything you kept in your pockets, especially your Game Report information record.

Submit Game Report

As soon as possible after the game, but no more than 24-hours later, submit your game report for each game (according to the process identified by the Club).  This usually consists of an email containing the following:

  • Your name
  • Date, Time, Location of the Game
  • Team Names and Coach Names, if available; Age Group, if available
  • Final Score, identified at least by team color (and, if available, by team name or sponsor)
  • Coaches did or did not provide Local Rules cards.
  • Teams did or did not properly provide Team Linespersons.
  • The number of Cautions issued.
  • Ejections, specifying the Player’s jersey color and number, and the details of why the player was ejected. Details if any coaches or spectators were ejected.
  • Any and all details of any problems encountered during the game. This may include such things as the status of the physical goals, the markings of the field, anything dangerous associated with the field (rocks, glass…), and if teams were late showing up or didn’t show up at all.  This MUST include any misbehavior by coaches or spectators and very specific details of what occurred.
  • Early termination for any reason and cause.  (This may include lightning.)


There are very specific violations that warrant Cautions (Yellow Card) and Ejections (Red Card).  The ones the Club wants to receive the most attention are:


  • Coach causes players to enter or leave the field during the game without receiving a signal from the Referee
  • Persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game
  • Showing dissent by word or action about any decision by the Referee
  • Unsporting behavior
  • Intentionally handling a ball going over the head in order to stop an attack


  • Violent conduct or serious foul play
  • Use of foul or abusive language
  • Committing a second cautionable offense
  • Biting, or spitting at or on another player


IMPORTANT NOTE:  At the youngest age groups, Local Rules may provide that an indirect free kick be awarded for heading or attempting to head a ball, and/or attempting a slide tackle.  A non-allowed slide tackle that makes contact would be direct (and a caution.)





If you are assigned as an Assistant Referee to a 3-person officiating crew made up entirely of Club referees, you should use the following procedures:

  • Confirm assignment
  • Confirm that you have everything you need before leaving for the field, especially your flags
  • Arrive early
  • Meet with the rest of the crew. Decide which line you will run
  • Walk the field
  • Perform team inspection for one team
  • Join referee for kickoff duties
  • Keep backup time and game report information
  • Monitor getting players onto the field and substitutions
  • Run the line just outside the field of play from one corner to about 10-yards past midfield, keeping the flag down to your side
  • Particularly ensure that you are in the proper position to call offside
  • Throw-ins: Flag straight up, then point flag in proper attacking direction of throwing team
  • Corner kick: Point flag to appropriate corner arc
  • Goal kick – Point flag to Goal Area
  • Offside – Flag straight up, then, after the Referee blows the whistle, point flag to offside position the player occupied
  • Foul – Twirl flag above head, then, after the Referee blows the whistle, point flag to location where the foul occurred
  • Substitutions – when requested by coach, raise flag overhead and hold one end with each hand to demonstrate play is to stay stopped; ensure that substitutions are made properly; lower flag to side when substitutions are completed and play may resume
  • Post-game – confirm the Referee will submit the Game Report; leave the field as a crew; make a record of the game for your personal files and record the game on your Record of Games Officiated Report

If the Referee does not see your action or otherwise does not acknowledge your call, hold the flag in position a brief second longer and then put it down to your side and carry on.

If the Referee doesn’t show up, the two Assistant Referees are to employ the 2-person System.  If one Assistant Referee does not show up, the Referee and the Assistant Referee are to employ the 2-person system.




  1. Use short-syllable, distinctive names for team colors, especially if the colors are similar. Any team wearing yellow jerseys are to be referred to as “Gold.”  If the jersey colors are identical and there are no pinnies to be used, hopefully the shorts are of a different color.


  1. The safety of the players is paramount. At the younger levels, if a player is hurt then play is to be stopped immediately, no matter whether or not a scoring chance is occurring.  Discretion to allow play to continue briefly comes as the players get older, but err on the side of attending to the player.  Go directly and check on the player.  Call the coach in quickly if necessary.  It’s the coach’s responsibility (and then a parent or guardian) to attend to the player.


  1. Always start the game on time. Many games are usually played in succession on a field in one day.  If every game runs a little late, the last game could experience real problems, such as ending in darkness.


  1. Don’t forget to allow for stoppage time if the local rules of the competition permit.


  1. The Laws of the Game of soccer are your tools. Keep them in working order by reviewing them regularly.


  1. As a general concept, a referee should not talk to players during a game. At younger levels, it may be helpful but it is to be discouraged as players get older.  On rare occasions, it is allowable to explain a rule interpretation, but this should only be to the captain.  There should be no discussion about a judgement call.  Make any “conference” brief and to the point, while being calm, firm, and authoritative.  Then keep the game moving.  Never let a conference degenerate into an argument and never let the coach onto the field.  Conferences and discussions are bad for the tone of the game and are to be avoided.  If a persistent argument should occur, follow your discretionary powers: verbal warning, then yellow-card caution, then red-card ejection.


  1. Never quote rules to anyone. You might unintentionally say something that is incorrect.


  1. If an official is quick to stay up with play and correctly call every foul right from the start of the game, control of the game will usually be good. However, due to some provoking circumstance, the tone of a game may change and become rough. If the official senses that this is happening, starting to speak with players during play may be necessary.  If things really get serious, you are authorized to stop the game, call the coaches and the players together at midfield, and warn them to calm down to keep the game from being terminated.


  1. Avoid terminating games, if possible, except for lightning.  Everyone must be sent to cars or building immediately.  NO ONE MUST BE ALLOWED UNDER TREES.


  1. Duties of the Referee:
  • Follow the designated administrative procedures of the Club
  • Enforce the Laws of the Game (including “Local Rules”)
  • Use all training and powers to appropriately decide disputed points of a match
  • Refrain from penalizing where by doing so it would give an advantage to the offending team (application of “Advantage” according to Club rules)
  • Keep a record of the Game
  • Act as timekeeper
  • Stop, suspend, or terminate the game for weather, lack of daylight, insufficient numbers of players, horrible group behavior, or for any other necessary reason
  • Caution or eject players or coaches, if necessary
  • Allow no person, other than players and coaches to enter the field without permission
  • Stop the game for injury
  • Decide that the ball meets the requirements for the match and that no illegal equipment is being worn by players (there are no exceptions to illegal equipment)
  • Strive to be in the best possible position to see and call the run of play
  • Ensure that the game ball is properly inflated (No one is to assume that a Club Referee will carry a pressure gauge.) Referees who have been players can just kick a ball a few times to see if it has the right “feel.”  Otherwise, 1.) the “thumb test” involves pushing both thumbs into the ball simultaneously – there should be minor deflection; 2.) the “drop test” involves holding the ball above the head and letting it fall to a hard surface – the ball should rebound approximately to waist high; or, 3.) the “head test” involves tossing the ball into the air and heading it back up – if the contact hurts, it’s over-inflated, if the contact is squishy, the ball is under-inflated.


  1. Points to Ponder:
  • Referees have full powers and authority from when they arrive at the field to when they leave.
  • Cooperation between officials in the 2-Person System starts before the match to determine how team inspections are handled, who will keep the “official” watch, and who will provide the Game Report. [NOTE:  There is a whole training session that should be conducted on the aspects of “Lead” and “Trail” referee duties in the 2-Person System.]
  • The two main areas of trouble faced by officials seem to be offside and infractions in the Penalty Area.
  • Don’t award penalty kicks lightly.
  • (Older) players seem to take liberties if the Referee appears to allow it.
  • It is better to make a late decision that is correct than to make a quick decision that is wrong.
  • Be the example.
  • Be firm. The job is not to be liked but to be correct and therefore to be respected.
  • When dealing with small children, treat them well. Don’t come across like some ogre.  Explain things simply, quickly and efficiently when necessary.
  • Do NOT touch any players, especially children.
  • Remember that “Presence Lends Conviction.” Keep up with the play.
  • Control the game first, but always control yourself.
  • Don’t quibble over feet and inches on the exact location of free kicks and throw-ins.
  • Let the play “flow” by using the whistle as little as possible if players clearly understand the rules. Use hand signals, instead.
  • It is usually better to “overcall” to maintain control when necessary.
  • Don’t coach.
  • Stay in shape. Referees are athletes, too. This has to be done on your own time. Warm up and stretch properly before each game.  Stay hydrated.
  • Do not keep the whistle in your mouth.
  • One of the ways to remember Direct awards is, “All major player-contact fouls and handling.”
  • Keep up with rules changes.
  • The Laws of the Game are your “bible.” Review them often.  (One wag said to keep your copy in the bathroom.)
  • Participants are encouraged to join the local professional referee organization.
  • Participants are encouraged to recruit their friends.
  • Referees are strongly encouraged to develop and practice a “one-yard pace” in order to step off penalty kick and defensive wall locations.
  • If they don’t have access to their own personal vehicle, Referees are encouraged to have a sideline bag with a water bottle and back-up equipment. If a bag is literally left on the sideline, ensure that it does not contain anything of value.
  • Not running with the whistle in the mouth is very serious. First, you could accidentally blow the whistle by mistake.  Second, and more importantly, you could trip, do a face-plant, and take out your front teeth.
  • Whistles on lanyards may be problematic. Consider finger or wrist-attachment styles as an option.
  • When showing a yellow or red card, ensure that you pull the correctly-colored card only. Leave the other one in your pocket or pouch.  (Referees have made the mistake of showing the wrong color or having both cards in their hand, effectively showing one color on one side and the different color on the other side.)





  • When you blow the whistle during the run of play, the ball becomes dead at the very start of the sound of the whistle. Two points:  1.)  If the whistle was blown in error, you can’t take it back or say, “Never mind.”  2.)  The ball, in effect, is not in play even if it is in mid-flight.  What happens with the ball next does not matter.  Resume play with a valid restart (or end of half/game). Call the foul or rule violation, or admit the error and continue with a dropped ball.
  • A dropped ball is indirect with no offside, dropped to a player on the team that last had possession.
  • No player taking a restart can kick the ball a second time, without it being touched by someone else first, on any restart (includes kickoffs, goal kicks, corner kicks; all free kicks…). If it happens the award is an indirect free kick for the other team.
  • Players even with the next-to-last defender are onside. If there is any question in your mind, allow play to continue.
  • A teammate of the player with the ball, even in an offside position, cannot be called for offside while the player is dribbling. You must wait for the pass.
  • “Preventive Officiating” is a concept and an application that Referees take a more active role in officiating in order to try to forestall problems which may occur during match. It is to be used sparingly.
  • There is a fine line when the goalkeeper fails to release the ball after six seconds. Don’t count out loud or do finger/hand motions like in basketball.  Count to yourself.  If you hit six, use “Preventive Officiating” and tell the goalkeeper, “You have to get rid of the ball now.”
  • If the goalkeeper has possession of the ball and there is an injury you must deal with immediately, use “Preventive Officiating” and tell the goalkeeper to “Kick the ball far upfield now!” Let the ball get as far away from the goal as possible and then blow it dead.
  • The referee is “in-bounds” if struck by the ball and play is to continue. Referees should do everything they can not to be struck by the ball.  This starts with proper positioning. The referee should never be in front of the goal and rarely in the Penalty Area. It is fine to move, duck, or jump over a ball to avoid being hit.  If the ball rebounds off the referee and out the sideline, it is a throw-in for the non-kicking team.  Same for balls over the bi-line, it is either a goal kick or a corner kick, based on which team touched it last.
  • There are really odd occasions where there can be an indirect free kick closer than 10-yards from a goal. Defenders are allowed to stand on the goal-line, between the posts, until the ball is kicked.  (Sometimes referred to as “packing the goal.”)
  • If a “wall” is less than 10-yards away from the ball, verbally instruct the players to get back. If they refuse, or if specifically asked by the attackers to move the wall, then mark off the distance.  (Reminder – if you have to mark off this distance, you need to tell both the attackers and the defenders to wait for your signal.)
  • A good whistle is a Referee’s number-one piece of equipment. There are essentially two types.  The “Acme Thunderer” is probably the top “pea” whistle. It gives off a traditional sound.  The problem with this type of whistle is that sometimes the “pea” gets stuck.  The “Fox 40” whistle has no “pea,” or any other moving parts.  It gives off a shrill sound.
  • Keep reading the rules regularly. You can learn things all the time.  One instructor recommended that you keep it handy in the bathroom.
  • Dangerous Play can be remembered as High, Low, and Ground: Kicking too high, Heading too low, and Failing to get up off the Ground; together with the direct, immediate presence of an opponent.  High and Low kicks are to keep the oncoming opponent from being injured.  Getting up off the ground is to keep the person on the ground from being injured (by opponents who are legally trying to kick the ball).
  • Coaching may only be done from the sidelines. Coaches and spectators are not allowed behind the goal lines.
  • An opponent may not interfere with a goalkeeper who is trying to release a ball from his or her possession by throwing or punting. If the opponent tries to move to block the goalkeeper, it is to be called as impeding and an indirect free kick awarded. (If the ball is blocked or contact is made, it is unsporting conduct).   If the opponent takes a standing, non-moving, position reasonably in front of the goalkeeper – such that the goalkeeper can move around the opponent without being impeded – it is okay.  If the goalkeeper puts the ball down on the ground, the goalkeeper may be challenged like any other dribbler.
  • Remember that, in recreational games, coaches are responsible for the conduct of their supporters. If a parent, fan, or other supporter is abusive for any reason, the game may be stopped and the coach verbally warned that the person must be stopped.  If it continues, the coach may be cautioned.  If it still continues, the supporter may be ejected through the coach.  If it still continues, the game can be terminated.
  • No opponent may stand directly in front of, or make motions or sounds intended to distract or block, a player taking a throw-in. “Preventive Officiating” suggests first telling the opponent, “Back up,” or “Stop that; you can’t do that.”  If it persists, the player is to be cautioned for unsporting conduct and play is to resume with the throw-in.
  • With rain or other foul-weather conditions the day of the game, contact the weather line or check the weather notice on the web site. If the games are on, you must show up.  If the weather deteriorates at the field, you use your authority to cancel.  The fine line here is between getting the game played and the health of the players.
  • Cases of “foul and abusive language” are taken very seriously by the Club. Note as much detail as possible and call it in.  This is in addition to providing this information through the normal game-report process.  Remember that this applies to players, coaches and fans (through the coach).
  • Remember that you must be in proper uniform at all times. If you require replacement equipment, call in for it as soon as you realize the need.
  • It is Club policy to favor protections for the goalkeepers. Nobody wants an injury due to a loose-ball collision that possibly could have been avoided.  “Preventive Officiating” suggests that it helps to say, “He’s got it!” immediately when possession occurs.  This generally causes the attackers to move away.
  • If you have any questions about rules interpretations or explanations, contact the Club Rules Commissioner only. This includes the Laws of the Game, Local Rules, and the Club Rules.
  • Remember to check out field locations in advance and ensure enough travel time, including possible traffic delays, to get there. Sometimes field names can be tricky.  For example, a field could be right next to a school, or even hidden from view behind a school, but carry the name of a Park that has nothing to do with the school at all.  None of this may be found in GPS locators!
  • Spitting on a player is a direct Ejection.
  • A player who is bleeding must be removed (and may be substituted for) immediately. The player may not return until all bleeding has been stopped and all bloody clothing replaced.
  • If a young player needs their shoelace to be re-tied, send them to Mom or Dad or Coach at the sideline. Do not stop play.
  • Referees need to know all of the actions to be taken by Assistant Referees and how to interact with them.
  • Watch top-level games on television for how the Referee and the Assistant Referees perform their duties.
  • Remember “Law 18”: Use common sense.
  • No matter how long you referee, you will never see everything that can happen!
  • Never post anything on “social media” about the games you officiate. You don’t need any notoriety and the Club does not need any headaches you may cause.
  • A most important time of a match for the referee is approximately the last five minutes of a tie game or when there is only a one-goal differential.  This is when unscrupulous attacking players may try to get the ball into the opponent’s penalty area and then fake a foul in an attempt to draw a call for a penalty kick.  This is often referred to as “diving,” “taking a dive,” or “flopping.”  Referees must be absolutely certain that a foul is legitimate, and that the defender has intentionally committed the infraction, inside the penalty area, before giving an award that potentially decides the outcome of the game.  (Very few defenders in their right minds are likely to commit a foul of this nature.)
  • The Laws of the Game do not specifically address lifting a teammate to try to get a jump header.  It is penalized as unsporting conduct.
  • If the ball should deflate while in play, a replacement ball is found and the game is restarted with a dropped ball.  If the ball should deflate on a shot and go into the goal, the score does not count.
  • If a player removes their jersey, in celebration of a “goal” that is disallowed, the player is still to be cautioned (yellow carded).




The use of visual signals, properly combined with the whistle and verbal statements, is an extremely effective way to communicate with the players, the coaches, and the spectators.  Visual signals teach multiple aspects of the game and educate everyone to the functions of the referee.  Whereas some of the signals listed below are usually dropped as players get older, the Club requests that Club Referees strive to use all of them, as applicable, all of the time as part of the education process.  Note: The term “point” is used in a number of descriptions.  This involves the arm being straightened at the elbow and the palm and fingers flattened as an extension of the forearm.

Process:  Blow the whistle. Verbally announce the infraction and the team color it is being called against, e.g., “Tripping, white,” while giving the visual signal for the infraction.  Verbally announce if the infraction is Direct or Indirect and the team color to take the kick, e.g., “Direct, blue,” while giving the visual signal for Direct or Indirect.  For Direct, point toward the attacking goal and then lower the arm.  For Indirect, point toward the attacking goal and then immediately raise the arm above the head.  When Indirect, keep the arm raised until the kick is taken.

Goal Scored (#1) – [traditional American-football style] both arms briefly raised overhead


Goal Scored (#2) – [international style] turn and point with one arm toward the center mark and start moving briskly to the center circle


Goal Scored (#3) – [#1 and #2 in sequence] both arms briefly raised overhead, then point to the center mark (Recommended)


Offside – both hands to respective hips


Tripping – move one leg forward and out slightly into the air


Striking – move elbow from side toward rear and back


Jumping – move arm overhead then down (like a train engineer pulling their whistle cord)


Handling – right hand moved slightly forward and back while touching left forearm


Holding – right hand grasps left wrist


Pushing – open palms moved from chest out


Charging – right hand to left-upper-arm, then elbow moved toward rear


Goalkeeper Carrying Ball – open hands circled around each other


Dangerous Play – both arms straight raised from sides at 45-degree angle


Ball Dead – arm up, open palm directed like a “stop signal” toward kicker or thrower; keep the arm up the entire time while ball is dead


“My Time” – both arms overhead and crossed at the wrists (play is stopped due to a substitution or an injury, or due to an “outside event” such as an extra ball or a dog on the field; do not use the term “time-out.”)


Resume Play – noticeably drop arm from “Ball Dead” position down to side


Free Kick – arm straight out pointing in the direction of the goal the kicking team is attacking


Indirect Free Kick – one arm held straight up until kick is taken


Substitution OR Play Stopped (Referee Tme) – hands crossed over head two times (then wave in subs or hold until stoppage ends)


Substitute(s) May Enter – right hand, open palm, waved in front of shoulder then toward shoulder, twice


Corner Kick – point to the correct corner arc with arm 45-degree angle down


Goal Kick – simultaneously point with one hand to goal area and with the other hand out into the field


Impeding – Clasp both palms to chest


Play-On – one-arm underarm swing (no foul or infringement is being called)


Advantage (is being applied) – two-arms underarm swing or two arms outstretched low


Soccer Referee Advantage Signal


Unsporting Conduct – hand placed behind head


Foul Throw (Unequal Hands) – imitate throwing ball with the force of only one hand (with an incorrect motion, one arm moved dramatically forward while the other is held back)


Foul Throw (Feet) – imitate throwing ball while lifting one leg backward


Penalty Kick – point to the Penalty Mark


Caution (Yellow Card) – hold the yellow card with the arm fully extended directly overhead (book the offender)


Ejection (Red Card) – hold the red card with the arm fully extended directly overhead (book the offender)


Booking – write down team (color), jersey number, caution or ejection, time, reason


Location for Defensive Wall – hold arm straight out, with palm facing the defenders, directly above 10-yard line (ensure defenders move back; return to a proper position; and then, when ready, drop the arm as in “Resume Play”)


Drop ball – hold ball below waist and then pull hand out from underneath



 While running along the sideline, the flag is to be kept at the side, pointed down toward the ground.

AR - Flag Down While Running

AR – Flag Down While Running


Goal Kick – standing in line with the “six,” point the flag into the field


Corner Kick – point to the base of the corner flag while standing near the end line

AR - Corner Kick

Assistant Referee soccer Corner Kick signal.


Foul, Misconduct, or Infringement – twirl the flag directly overhead; after the whistle is blown, point the flag to the spot on the field where the foul occurred (if the whistle is not blown, take the flag down)


Throw-in (ball out of play) – point the flag straight up and then point the flag up the sideline, with the arm at a 45-degree angle, in the attacking direction of the throwing team

AR - Ball Out (Throw-in)

AR – Ball Out (Throw-in)


Substitution – with both arms overhead, hold the flag with one hand at each end until the substitution has been properly completed


Offside – hold the flag straight up overhead when the infraction occurs (if the whistle is not blown, take the flag down); after the whistle is blown, point the flag into the field according to the following locations:

      • Offside Location Near – 45-degree angle down
      • Offside Location Middle – 90-degrees (straight out)
      • Offside Location Far – 45-degree angle up




Date ____________

Full Name __________________________________________________________

Address ______________________________________________ ZIP ­­­­__________

Mobile Phone Number _________________________________________

Home Phone Landline Number, if available _________________________________

Your Email Address ___________________________________________________

Parent or Guardian Contact Name ________________________________________

Parent or Guardian Contact Mobile Phone Number ________________________

Parent or Guardian Email Address ________________________________________

Closest Fields to Your Home Used by the Club ______________________________

Birthdate and Current Age ________________________________________

School Attending and Current Grade ______________________________________

If you are currently playing on a Club Team, provide the name and age group of the team:  _______________________________________________________________

Soccer Experience ____________________________________________________

Adult Shirt Size ____________ Adult Shorts Size   ___________

Unavailability:  ________________________________________________________

I understand that the Club Soccer Referee Program is a real commitment and that I will perform accordingly.  I do/do not have medical insurance.

Your Signature _____________________________________________

I authorize my child or ward to participate in the Club Soccer Referee Program*.

Signature of Parent or Guardian if under the age of 18  _________________________

Printed Name of Parent or Guardian _________________________

The following three documents MUST be attached to this Application:

  1. A copy of the certificate showing completion of the [KidSafe] program
  2. A signed original of the Club Waiver of Liability and Release Form
  3. A signed original of the Club Medical Release Form

*Parents or guardians of children under the age of 16 are strongly encouraged by the Club to attend the games that they are officiating.



Mandatory Equipment

Shirt, Shorts, Socks, Shoes – generally black (with possible white trim); shorts should have good pockets and a drawstring

Good Whistle, Backup Whistle (whistle may be finger or wrist-attachment style)


Wristwatch with movable outer dial, Stopwatch (if possible) [Mobile Phone*]

*Generally, this is not recommended to be carried due to security concerns while running; otherwise, it could be a backup timing device

Pen or Pencil, Paper (e.g., pocket notebook or 3×5 card) for Game Report


Linespersons’ Flags

Red and Yellow Cards


Optional Equipment


Alternate color shirt – red, yellow

Winter shirt

Jacket -black

Pants – black

Knit cap – black

Gloves – black

Air pump and needle

Water bottle

Sideline bag

Backup stopwatch

Backup pen, pencil, and paper

Backup whistle

Backup lanyard

Lanyard for personal keys or car fob

Wrist-style whistle holder (wrist lanyard)

Written emergency phone numbers

Backup flags

Backup red and yellow cards

Backup coin

String and scissors

Extra shoe laces (and garters, if used)

Athletic “strapping” tape


Water/Ice/Sports Drink

Rain Gear:  Clear plastic poncho, clear plastic pants

First Aid Kit


Vanishing spray

Duct tape

Trash bag

Work gloves

Cones, discs or saucers



  • Your valuables must never be left lying around on a field anywhere.
  • Never put anything on the sidelines or behind a goal that you aren’t willing to forget about or have taken
  • Keys (or car fob) may be worn around the neck on a whistle lanyard, under the jersey or placed in a zippered pocket, but must never be kept in an open pocket.
  • Place a card with your name and (phone number) in your sideline bag.






RETURNING REFEREES (Prior to Fall Season Only; May Attend Other Sessions)


  • Changes to the Laws of the Game for the Upcoming Year
  • Summary of Changes to the Laws from The IFAB (Handout and Web Link)
  • Club Rules Changes
  • Equipment Issue


NEW REFEREES (Prior to both Fall and Spring Seasons; All Sessions Mandatory)


  • Administration of the Program (Club Program Handout)
  • Principles of Officiating
  • The International Football Association Board (Web Link)
  • The Laws of the Game (Full Printout Handout)
    • Law 1 through Law 9
  • Mechanics – Part One
  • Equipment Issue and Registration



  • Club Rules
  • Concept of Interpreting and Applying the Laws of the Game
  • Book: “Preventive Officiating” (Handout)
  • The Laws of the Game
    • Law 10 through Law 12
  • Mechanics – Part Two
  • Equipment Issue and Registration



  • The Laws of the Game
    • Law 13 through Law 17
  • com Entire Rules Section (Web Link)
  • Questions and Discussion
  • Written Tests
  • Equipment Issue and Registration



  • On-Field Practical





NAME: _______________________________________________________

DATE, TIME, and LOCATION of Game: _____________________________

TEAM NAMES and/or COLORS: ___________________________________

COACH NAMES, if possible: ______________________________________

AGE GROUP, if possible: _________________________________________

FINAL SCORE, by team color (and name and sponsor, if possible):






NUMBER OF CAUTIONS ISSUED: __________________________________

EJECTION(S) (Very specific details): _________________________________




ANY PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED (Field, Goals, Markings…): __________________


OTHER (Team late or insufficient number or players; forfeit…): __________________




This form must be submitted to… (person)    via… (mail/email)    within 24-hours of the game.




Record of Games Officiated

(Payment Request Form)


NAME:  _____________________________________






SIGNATURE:  _____________________________________

*SYSTEM Selections are:

SOLE – Sole Club Referee with Team Linespersons (Use “NOTES” to identify if you had no Linespersons or one or both teams didn’t show up) OR Sole Club Referee with Club Assistant Referees

AR – Assistant Referee in a 3-PERSON Club-assigned System

[2-Person – One of two Club Referees]


IMPORTANT:  This form must cover no more than two weeks of assignments, ending on a Sunday night.

This form must be submitted to… (person)    via… (mail/email)    within 24-hours of the last assignment.






COACH NAME:  _____________________________________

Coach Affiliation (including team name and/or number):  _________________________

Game Date:  _________________

Game Time:  __________________

Game Location:  ______________________________________

Age Group:  ____________________________

Game Result (including team names):  _________________________

If an Ejection occurred, reporting by the Coach is mandatory and must contain a detailed explanation of what occurred, even if it did not involve the coach’s team. The same is true for any instances of “foul and abusive language” by anyone.

Reporting should also include details of any other problems, such as with goals or field markings, and suggestions.

REFEREE:   (Ratings:  1 – Poor, 2 – Below Ave., 3 – Average, 4 – Above Ave. 5 – Excellent)

Timeliness:      (No show)                           1     2     3     4     5

Appearance:                                                 1     2     3     4     5

Properly Equipped:                                      1     2     3     4     5

Started Game on Time:                               1     2     3     4     5

Application of the Rules:                            1     2     3     4     5

Fit and Kept up with Play:                           1     2     3     4     5

Positioning:                                                   1     2     3     4     5

Handling of the Game and Players:          1     2     3     4     5

REPORTING:  _________________________________________________________


SIGNATURE:  _____________________________________

This report should be submitted via email within 24-hours of the end of a game.  This report is optional, but must be submitted if ejections or something untoward happens.






REFEREE NAME:  ______________________________________

DATE OF GAME:  _____________________

LOCATION:  ___________________________________________

AGE GROUP:  _________________________________________

  1. Preparation
    1. Arrives at least 15-minutes early
    2. Walks field
    3. Pays particular attention to the safety of the goals
    4. Tries to improve field or appurtenances (particularly holes in the nets)


  1. Properly Outfitted
    1. Dressed correctly in regulation uniform
    2. Has all necessary equipment


  1. Pre-Game
    1. Introduces themself to coaches
    2. Tells coaches about any problems discovered on the field
    3. Gets Local Rules card from both coaches (confirms cards match)
    4. (sole referee system) Obtains Club Linespersons and Instructs
    5. Performs team equipment inspection
    6. Calls captains together at least five minutes before scheduled kickoff
    7. Coin-flip process performed correctly
    8. Properly demonstrates which team is going in which direction and who kicks
    9. Starts game on time; clearly starts timekeeping


  1. Movement on the Field
    1. (Sole referee system) Stays around the diagonal most of the time
    2. (2-person referee system) Runs right-to-left correctly; aware of offside positioning
    3. Moves with play (keeps up with play); demonstrates proper positioning
    4. Anticipates play situations
    5. Fit
    6. Does not run with the whistle in the mouth


  1. Alertness and Confidence
    1. Controls the game
    2. Always pleasant, but firm
    3. Promptly renders decisions
    4. Demonstrates good judgement
    5. Demonstrates impartiality
    6. Calls are consistent
    7. Monitors time
    8. Cooperates properly with fellow officials
    9. Effectively manages substitutions


  1. Use of Visual Signals
    1. Uses correct visual signs
    2. Players can see the signs


  1. Use of Voice Signals
    1. Uses correct voice signals or commands
    2. Voice signals are loud, clear, and can be heard by players


  1. Use of Whistle
    1. Can be heard clearly
    2. Used at the correct time
    3. Tone and volume can be differentiated for different calls


  1. Decision-Making – Correct Calls – Understanding and Application of the Laws
    1. Direct vs. Indirect
    2. “Administrative” infractions
    3. Handling vs. Unintentional Handling
    4. Body-contact fouls
      1. Charging
      2. Pushing
  • Holding
  1. Striking
  2. Tripping
  3. Jumping
  1. Offside
  2. Advantage
  3. Possession by the Goalkeeper; six seconds for release
  4. Penalty Kicks
  5. Walls
  6. Use of Red and Yellow Cards


  1. Halftime
    1. Ends half at the correct time
    2. Calls players together early in order to start second half on time
    3. Starts second half on time; clearly starts timekeeping


  1. Keeps Record of Game
    1. Has notebook and pencil
    2. Clearly records scores


  1. Advanced
    1. Demonstrates a “professional attitude”
    2. Uses “preventive officiating”
    3. Enthusiastic and kids recognize that soccer is fun with a Referee









ASSESSOR NAME:  __________________________________

DATE:  __________________________


(NOTE:  It is expected that a completed copy this form will be shared with the Scheduler, and/or the Instructor and the Rules Commissioner.  Further, it is expected that the Club will develop an appropriate, professional, and responsible feedback loop – taking the age of the Club Referee into consideration – to improve the Referee’s performance and to establish and maintain rankings.




Note:  Because this is a Club program, this test may contain minor differences between the IFAB Laws of the Game and generally accepted Referee mechanics.


  1. What are the inside dimensions of a full-sized, regulation goal?
  2. How far is the Penalty Mark from the Goal Line on a full-sized, regulation field?


True or False

  1. The duration of a normal game is four 22 and ½-minute periods.
  2. The corner-flag posts may not be removed when a corner kick is taken.
  3. Resubstitution is not permitted in Club games.
  4. A goal may not be scored directly from a Dropped Ball.
  5. To be a fair charge, both feet of the defender must be on the ground.
  6. In a regulation game, the interval between halves is 15-minutes and coaches are not allowed on the field.
  7. Everything otherwise having been done properly by the thrower, a throw-in landing on the touchline before completely entering the field has been properly delivered.
  8. A goal may not be scored directly from a kick-off.
  9. In a 2-Person System, the Referees must change ends at halftime.
  10. A goalkeeper may be penalized for handling the ball.
  11. A player cannot be offside on a throw-in.
  12. A goal has been scored if, after a free kick for offside has been awarded, the ball has been shot into the goal without touching anyone in-route.
  13. If a Captain wins the coin toss, they must choose which goal their team will attack first.


Award Direct or Indirect?

  1. Offside
  2. Unsporting conduct
  3. Sliding tackle (with bodily contact)
  4. Charging from behind
  5. Resumption of play after a player is ordered off for violent conduct during play
  6. Pushing
  7. Handling by the goalie outside the Penalty Area
  8. Goalkeeper holds the ball too long before releasing it into play
  9. Impeding
  10. Corner kicker kicks the ball a second time without it being touched by anyone else


May a goal be scored directly from?  (Yes or No)

  1. Kickoff
  2. Corner kick
  3. Goal kick
  4. Throw-in
  5. Dropped ball


Multiple Choice (select one)

  1. A player taking a throw-in throws the ball directly into his own team’s goal.
    1. Award a corner kick for the other team
    2. Award a goal for the other team
    3. Order that the throw-in be retaken
  2. A corner kick is taken. While the ball is in flight, a defender pushes an attacker in the Penalty Area. The referee blows the whistle and the ball continues into the goal.
    1. Award a goal
    2. Retake the corner kick
    3. Award a penalty kick
  3. A referee awards an indirect free kick for the defenders just outside the Penalty Area. The player taking the kick tries to kick it back to his goalie, but the ball goes directly into the goal.
    1. Retake the kick
    2. Award a goal
    3. Award a corner kick
  4. On an offensive throw-in, the ball is delivered directly down the line, actually bisecting it, and eventually strikes the corner post and caroms over the goal line. What do you award?
    1. A re-throw
    2. Throw-in to the other team
    3. Goal kick
  5. The only person who can dispute a referee’s decision is:
    1. The team captain, in a courteous manner
    2. The coach, after asking in a reasonable manner
    3. No one
  6. A penalty kick is awarded to team A. Player A1 taps the kick forward and player A2 then rushes in and blasts the ball into the back of the net. As the referee, you would:
    1. Re-kick
    2. Award a goal
    3. Award the defense a goal kick
  7. A goalkeeper makes a save at the goal line between the posts. In the process of throwing the ball quickly out to a teammate, he swings his arm behind him with the ball going completely over the goal line. As the referee, you would:
    1. Award a corner kick
    2. Do nothing, proceed with the game
    3. Award a goal
  8. Time has had to be extended at the end of the half to take a Penalty Kick. The goalkeeper makes contact with the ball, but deflects it into the goal. As Referee,
    1. Stop play the moment the goalkeeper touches the ball
    2. Order the penalty kick to be retaken
    3. Award a goal and proceed to halftime
  9. An attacker clearly in an offside position receives the ball directly from a thrown-in, rushes to goal and kicks the ball in:
    1. Have the thrown-in be re-taken by the other team
    2. Award the goal
    3. Call offside and award an indirect free kick to the other team
  10. The ball is in play. The goalkeeper catches it, but before he releases it, a ball-person behind the bi-line yells to him, “Use this ball instead.” The goalkeeper tosses his ball to the ball-person and catches the one the ball-person throws in.  As Referee, you:
    1. Do not interfere and proceed with the game
    2. Stop play, caution the goalkeeper, and award an indirect free kick to the other team
    3. Stop play, award a corner kick to the other team, and have a private word with both the goalkeeper and the ball-person.



  1. Generally, when may substitutions be made:


  1. Name seven circumstances where a player can NOT be in an offside position:


  1. In what instance can defenders be fewer than ten-yards away from a free kick?




  1. If a defender fair charges an opponent who is not in possession of the ball, what is the decision?


  1. What should a referee do if the ball, which would otherwise have gone out of play, strikes the referee and remains in play?



  1. A defending player is sent off the field for an offense committed after a corner kick has been awarded. How should the game be re-started?



  1. When kicking off, a player stands in the opponents’ half of the field of play and kicks the ball backward to a teammate. What should be referee do?



  1. A defender, in order to save a goal, attempts to punch the ball out with his hands, but only succeeds in deflecting it and it rolls into the back of the net. Actions by the Referee?



  1. A team kicks off and, by combined play, succeeds in scoring without a defender ever coming in contact with the ball. Actions by the Referee?



  1. Must all free kicks taken in the Penalty Area by the defenders (now attackers) be kicked beyond the Area before a second player can kick the ball?



  1. What is the penalty against a kicker taking a penalty kick who proceeds to dribble the ball before taking a shot?



  1. If a goalkeeper handles the ball outside the Penalty Area, what is the call and what type of kick is awarded?



  1. An air ball lands directly on a touchline marking. Is it out of play and why?



  1. If the Referee blows the whistle and announces end-of-half, but then during halftime discovers that he did not allow enough minutes for that period, should he add time to the second half to make up for the missing minutes?



  1. A defender, with his goalkeeper out of position, heads the ball out but, in doing so, falls into the net. An attacker gets the ball and passes it to a teammate who has only the goalkeeper to beat. Is this player offside?



  1. A player is just about to take a penalty kick when the Referee sees one of his teammates enter the Penalty Area early. Does the Referee blow the whistle and stop play?



  1. What is the award if, during a kickoff, the kicker kicks the ball a second time before it is touched by anyone else?



  1. In youth play, what are three commonly-recognized instances of “playing in a dangerous manner”?



  1. Can a teammate of the player receiving a dropped ball be offside if they receive the an immediate pass?



  1. What action, if any, should the Referee take if a team consistently kicks the ball out of bounds to waste time?



  1. Is this allowed? A player taking a throw-in intentionally throws the ball against an opponent then plays the ball himself off of the rebound.



  1. Time can be extended for a Penalty Kick awarded before time expired. Can the Referee allow a substitute to come on and take the kick?



  1. The goalkeeper, from within his own Penalty Area, throws the ball directly into the opponents’ goal with the help of a tremendous gust of wind. What is the Referee’s decision?



  1. Can time be extended to take a corner kick?



  1. Just before a penalty kick is about to be taken, in order to try to influence the kicker, the goalkeeper moves in such a way that both feet are off the goal line. What action should the Referee take if the kick goes in?



  1. Are these goals?


    1. Direct into the net from a corner kick
    2. Direct into the net from a kickoff
    3. Direct into the net from a free kick for offside
    4. A second shot is taken by a penalty kicker whose initial kick has rebounded from the crossbar and no other player has touched the ball
    5. A shot hits the Referee and deflects past the goalkeeper and into the net





Note:  Because this is a Club program, this test may contain minor differences between the IFAB Laws of the Game and generally accepted Referee mechanics.

True – False

  1. A ball that hits the referee in the field of play becomes immediately dead.
  2. A goal can be scored directly from a corner kick.
  3. A goal can be scored directly from a kickoff.
  4. In some instances, ejected players may be replaced.
  5. A player who receives a caution may be substituted at that time.
  6. A ball rolling along the goalline between the posts is a score.
  7. A shot hits the underside of the crossbar, deflects straight down and then, due to spin, rebounds immediately out into the field of play. This is a goal.
  8. The clock stops for within-game penalty kicks.
  9. A throw-in from touch goes directly into the goal without contacting anyone. No goal.  Either a corner kick or a goal kick depending on who threw the ball.
  10. All players on an entire team may be cautioned all together because so many players on the team keep intentionally handling the ball.
  11. Goalie legally throws the ball downfield and it goes into the opponent’s goal.
  12. A sure goal is stopped by a defender by catching it with his hands. The referee may award a automatic goal.
  13. The score of a forfeited game is 1-0.
  14. The ball goes out the sideline but, before it is put back into play, another player strikes an opponent. Striker is to be ejected and the offended team puts the ball back into play with a direct free kick.
  15. All direct free kicks must be kicked forward, never sideways or backward.
  16. Teammates of the player taking a corner kick may stand fewer than 10-yards away from the corner arc.
  17. A player with a broken arm in a cast may not participate in a game, even if the cast is sufficiently covered and padded.
  18. A loose dog runs into the Penalty Area just as a shot goes into the goal. The referee has the discretion to disallow the goal.
  19. A penalty kick is taken before the referee blows his whistle. Ball goes in.  No goal.
  20. A coach wishes to change goalies before a penalty kick is taken. Okay if the player is ready to come in immediately from the sideline.
  21. A Captain of a team may question the call by a referee because they have the right to do so since they are a Captain.
  22. The Assistant Referees change ends at halftime.
  23. Because of impending darkness, both teams agree to immediately change ends at halftime and resume the game without a halftime break.
  24. A throw-in that never enters the field of play is to be re-taken by the same team.
  25. Offside is called. The ball is put into play from the position of the offside offender, not where the ball was when offside was called.

Yes – No

  1. Is it an offense to be in an offside position?
  2. An attacker steps off the field to avoid being called for standing in an offside position. Can the player be penalized for leaving the field without permission?
  3. A forward’s momentum carries him into the back of the net where he stands motionless. He then shouts at the goalkeeper as his teammate shoots and scores. Is this a goal?
  4. There is a clear offside, but before the whistle is blown, a defender touches the ball. The player who had been offside collects the ball and scores. Does the referee still call offside?
  5. Can a defending player step off the field to place an attacking player in an offside position?







  1. Eight feet x Eight yards
  2. 12 yards
  3. False
  4. True
  5. False
  6. True
  7. False
  8. False
  9. True
  10. True
  11. False
  12. True
  13. True
  14. False
  15. False
  16. Indirect
  17. Indirect
  18. Direct
  19. Direct
  20. Direct
  21. Direct
  22. Direct
  23. Indirect
  24. Indirect
  25. Indirect
  26. Yes
  27. Yes
  28. Yes
  29. No
  30. No
  31. a
  32. c
  33. c
  34. c
  35. c
  36. b
  37. c
  38. c
  39. b
  40. c
  41. halftime, corner kick, own throw-in, goal, goal-kick
  42. two defenders between, behind ball, in own half of field, corner kick, goal kick, throw-in, not interfering or gaining advantage
  43. indirect in area – players may stand on the goal-line between the posts
  44. Indirect free kick for the other team
  45. Nothing, allow play to continue
  46. Corner kick
  47. Nothing, allow play to continue
  48. Goal; player cautioned or sent off
  49. Goal
  50. No
  51. Indirect free kick for the other team
  52. Handling, direct free
  53. No
  54. No
  55. No
  56. No
  57. Indirect free kick for the other team
  58. Heading too low; Kicking too high; Not getting up off the ground
  59. Yes
  60. Verbal warning, then yellow card(s)
  61. Yes, if not malicious
  62. No
  63. Goal
  64. No (if that is the only reason)
  65. Goal; if not, retake
  66. a-yes; b-yes; c-no; d-no; e-yes






  1. False
  2. True
  3. True
  4. False
  5. True
  6. False
  7. False
  8. False
  9. True
  10. False
  11. True
  12. False
  13. True
  14. False
  15. False
  16. True
  17. False
  18. True
  19. True
  20. False
  21. False
  22. False
  23. True
  24. True
  25. True
  26. No
  27. No
  28. No
  29. Yes
  30. No






Appendix I

The “2-Person System”

Two Club Referees could be assigned to games in the old, non-traditional, “Dual System of Control” (also known as the 2-person system), with each Referee having equal authority and covering their referee duties and the duties of one Assistant Referee.  However, this is not a preferred system for officiating because of the inherent problem of the two Referees possibly disagreeing. It is an improvement over using Team Linespersons and could save costs over using two Club Assistant Referees.

The Dual System of Control

The Dual System of Control

The “2-Person” officiating system is the use of two Referees with equal authority and no linespersons.  Each Referee generally runs along a line parallel to the sideline, and approximately 10-yards inside the field, from around 10-yards past the Halfway Line to around 5-yards short of the end-line.  Each Referee is responsible for their half of the field, one entire sideline and one entire end-line.  Referees do not change sides at halftime. This is known as the “Dual System of Control.” Referees must NEVER blow a “second whistle” after the other official makes a call and must NEVER contradict the other official.  (If only one Referee appears, the approach reverts to the 3-Person system.)  The referees must confer with each other before the start of the match to at least agree on which one will keep the “official” watch.