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UEFA referees' conclusions

UEFA's Referees' Committee drew up conclusions and recommendations for officials after the UEFA referees' seminar held in Nyon in September 2003.

UEFA’s Referees' Committee has drawn up conclusions and recommendations for European referees and assistants after the UEFA referees' and assistant referees' seminar held in Nyon in September 2003.

UEFA referees' development programme 2003
Third seminar for assistant referees
3/4 September 2003
First gathering for elite referees
3 September 2003
UEFA Headquarters – House of European Football, Nyon

General conclusions and recommendations
Attention is drawn to the following decisions made at the third UEFA seminar for international assistant referees for the benefit of international football in Europe by adopting a standard approach in the performances of assistant referees.
The decisions include those made in the first and second seminar, modified as appropriate together with additions in bold.

It was felt that these practices will reinforce the uniform interpretation and application of the Laws of the Game.

1. It was noted again that there had been no changes in the offside law for the season 2003/04, nor any extra IFAB or FIFA directives.

2. If an assistant referee is not totally sure about an offside offence the flag should not be raised (i.e. in case of doubt benefit must be given to the attacking team).

3. In deciding whether an attacking payer is nearer to the opponent’s goal line than the second last defender, consideration should be given to the position of the attacker’s feet and body in respect to that of the second last defender.
(“Air space” or similar misleading phrases should not be used by instructors, but instructors should emphasise that assistant referees must be sure that the attacker is nearer to the goal line than the second last defender).

4. To ensure correct judgement of offside offences, an assistant referee should not raise the flag before considering the following criteria, so called “wait and see” technique:
a. Movement of the ball (direction, speed, distance, any deflection, etc.)
b. Involvement of the player in active play by:
· interfering with play or
· interfering with an opponent or
· gaining an advantage.

5. Following discussions in the joint seminar between Elite referees and assistant referees, the following guidelines were agreed as considerations to assist in the interpretation and application of the Offside Law, in connection with “involvement in active play”, in particular “interfering with an opponent”:
- A player in an offside position , and also in the opinion of the referee, on the path of the ball, interferes with play or his opponents.
- A player in an offside position, by his manner and direction of movement, near the path of the ball, in the opinion of the referee, interferes with an opponent (e.g. getting closer to the path of the ball).

- A player in an offside position and clearly in the goalkeeper’s line of vision (between him and the kicker ), in the opinion of the referee, interferes with the goalkeeper (distraction).

In connection with interpreting and applying the Offside Law concerning “gaining an advantage by being in that position”, assistant referees were reminded of their responsibilities to be alert in situations where, for example, the ball rebounds from a goal post or cross bar or goalkeeper, to a player who was in an offside position when the ball was last played by his team-mate.

6. In connection with assistant referees making judgements concerning offside, they were reminded that it is better to be slightly late and correct, than to be too quick and wrong.

7. If a flag signal for offside is given and is not seen immediately by the referee; the assistant referee must keep signalling until it has been recognised or the ball is clearly in control of the defending team (the electronic beep signal is used to alert the referee to the flag signal).

8. For very tight judgements where an assistant referee decides “not offside” a discreet hand signal may give valuable support to the referee when the referee makes eye-contact.

Ball out of the field of play  
9. Assistant referees were reminded that, whenever the ball leaves the field of play, the flag signal of the assistant referee should show clearly the correct restart and direction. In clear throw-in situations, the assistant referee can directly show the direction (along the whole touch line). But if he has any doubt about the direction, the assistant referee should simply raise his flag, make eye contact with the referee and follow the referee’s signal.

On very tight decisions, when the ball stays in play, a discreet hand signal could give valuable support to the referee.

10. Whenever an assistant referee signals the ball out of the field of play (even if players continue to play the ball) he must retain the signal until acknowledged by the referee taking action.

11. When the ball enters a goal:
To confirm a valid goal has been scored, an assistant referee should display clear movement down the touchline towards the centre line. In borderline cases, this movement should be clear (sprint) to be recognised by the referee.

To confirm a goal, the assistant referee should not raise his flag.

If in his opinion a goal has not been scored correctly, the assistant referee should stand still, retaining any signal already given. The referee may then choose to consult further if he needs additional guidance.

12. An assistant referee must use a raised flag signal to advise the referee that he has seen a foul committed (or unsporting behaviour or violent conduct) when he is better positioned than the referee and the referee has not clearly acted on the offence. If the assistant referee has additional information, concerning the offence, he wishes to give to the referee or if the referee has not seen his flag signal the electronic beep signal should be used, but only to supplement the flag signal already given.

It was emphasised that such action by an assistant referee must be taken for all appropriate offences including those committed inside the penalty area.

Additionally it was agreed that there was benefit in the assistant referee being seen to be aware and signalling for any offence in his immediate vicinity and this practice is recommended. When a flag is raised for Law 12 offences, it should be unfurled and waved to distinguish from the signal for offside.

13. If a flag signal for any offence is not seen immediately by the referee, the assistant referee must keep signalling until he is acknowledged by the referee or he recognises a clear advantage to the team against which the offence has been committed.

14. It was recognised that eye-contact and discreet hand signals from an assistant referee maybe helpful in passing information to a referee e.g. type of offence, next action etc. This would reduce the need for him to come across to the assistant referee for consultation.

Where direct consultation is necessary between the referee and assistant referee, the information should include, as concisely as possible, what happened, which players were involved, the precise location, recommended action and the re-start of play. It is recommended that in such cases the assistant referee advances towards the referee by 4 to 5 metres.

During consultation, the assistant referee and referee should both face the field of play. It is usually appropriate to avoid the consultation being heard or understood by others.

15. Offences of violent conduct seen and signalled by an assistant referee must be acted upon in accordance with the Laws of the Game by the referee. If play has been stopped for the disciplinary action (even if the signal has not been seen immediately and play has continued), the restart must also be in accordance with the Laws (free kick / penalty kick). However, if the assistant referee’s signal is not seen immediately and play has been restarted for a subsequent situation only the appropriate disciplinary action can be taken against the offending player.

16. Where a referee seeks guidance from an assistant referee concerning the exact location of an offence near the boundary of the penalty area the action of the assistant referee should be as follows:
a. If the offence is inside the penalty area – the assistant referee moves visibly down the touchline towards the corner flag.
b. If the offence is outside the penalty area – the assistant referee stands still having moved to be in line with the edge of the penalty area.

Obvious incorrect decision of the referee
17. If an assistant referee knows that a referee has made an obvious disciplinary error (e.g. two yellow cards to the same player without sending him off, red or yellow card to the wrong player, player kicked the ball twice at free kick, etc.) he must intervene immediately (flag and beep or even enter the field of play). The other assistant referee (or 4th official) should if necessary, also assist in such case.

Control of the 9.15m distance
18. When a referee chooses to use the help of an assistant referee on the field of play to control the 9.15m distance from the ball at free-kick, it is recommended that the assistant referee does not physically measure the 9.15m but rather asserts his control from the position of the ball. This exceptional on field involvement of the assistant referee is recommended only for free kicks very near the touchline.

Free kick close to the penalty area
19. At free kicks close to the penalty area, the assistant referee should position himself in line with the second last defender (controlling the offside), but also with awareness of the goal line. The referee should control the ball and the wall.

After an offside
20. When possible an assistant referee, after a free kick for offside has been given, should position himself in line with the spot where the ball should be positioned to restart the game. He should then immediately take up a position to control the offside line (level with the second-last defender), which is his priority. This priority was re-emphasised in the seminar.

Goal kick and goal clearance
21. For goal kicks and when the goalkeeper is in possession of the ball inside his own penalty area, it is advised that the assistant occasionally checks that the ball is correctly positioned or that the goalkeeper does not cross the 16 metre line before releasing the ball from his hands. This should be done in convenient situations (e.g. second last defender near the penalty area). Control of offside from subsequent play is the priority concern.
This priority was re-emphasised in the seminar.

Corner kick
22. For corner kicks, it is recommended that the assistant involved takes a position behind the flag in line with the goal line.

Penalty kick
23. When a penalty kick is awarded during the normal course of play, the assistant should be on the goal line where it meets the penalty area boundary line.

24. For kicks from the penalty mark to determine the winner of a match, one assistant should be positioned on the goal line where it meets the goal area boundary line, with the other assistant controlling the players within the centre circle. The referee must determine and agree the role of the assistant referee on the goal line and his own role in detecting any forward movement from the goal line of the goalkeeper. Referees and assistant referees are also reminded that the "inactive" goalkeeper should remain positioned on the goal line where it meets the penalty area boundary line.

25. It was decided that when substitutions take place, they shall be supervised by the 4th official in co-operation with the referee. The assistant referee does not need to move to the halfway line.

Flag technique
26. It is recommended that an assistant referee holds the flag in his hand nearest to the field of play by switching hands whenever he changes his direction of movement so that the flag is visible to the referee at any time. It is suggested to the associations to instruct new assistant referees in this way, however this technique is not compulsory for experienced assistant referees. The referee observer shall continue to assess the performance of the assistant referee according to the accuracy of his decisions.

UEFA / Referees Committee / September 2003