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We are current and former USSF referees with a combined refereeing experience of over three decades. We have officiated over 1000 games including professional level matches. While we consult and seek advice from a number of other referees, assessors and soccer officials, the website's content is primarily edited by Mr. Rafal Wlazlo and Mr. Artur M. Wlazlo. Rafal is a freshly retired National Referee from Eastern New York and a current State Referee Assessor. He began his refereeing career in 1998. Artur began his refereeing career in 1990 and retired in 2005, after nearly 15 years of refereeing. We sincerely hope that our knowledge and experience will help you in all aspects of refereeing, coaching and playing, as well as provide a platform to explore the beautiful world of soccer.

MLS Referee Alan Kelly's five star performance at the Citrus Bowl.

b2ap3_thumbnail_OrlandoFC.jpgAt last!  It's been long coming and, quite frankly, we thought we would never seen it.  But, it finally arrived.


No, we are not really talking about the start of the new MLS season this weekend.  Although, obviously, we are thrilled that the season started on time and without work stoppage which, as it was reported, was quite still probable just a couple of days before the kickoff.  


What we are talking about here is Mr. Alan Kelly's performance during a historic game between two new MLS expansion teams Orlando City SC and NY City FC in front of 62,000 fans at Orlando Citrus Bowl stadium in Orlando, Florida.  


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UPDATED: In-depth analysis of DOGSO-H.

b2ap3_thumbnail_DOGSO-blog.jpgWe wanted to provide an important update to our recent blog on this subject matter because of the additional information that has been brought to our attention after our blog was published (If you have not read the blog, we strongly encourage you to read it first before continuing further).  Namely, one of our regular readers and forum contributor, Alex Fletcher, pointed us to a quiz posted on this website containing one question that is directly relevant to the type of hypothetical situation that we analyzed in our blog.  The questions is as follows:


A defender on his own goal line, between the goal posts, deliberately handles the ball which rebounds to an opponent who scores a goal directly. What decision should the referee make?

A. The referee sends off the defender for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball to prevent a goal and awards a penalty kick.
B. The referee applies advantage, allows the goal and cautions the defender for unsporting behaviour.
C. The referee applies advantage, awards the goal and sends off the defender for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball to prevent a goal.
D. The referee applies advantage and awards the goal without taking any disciplinary action.   


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DOGSO-H & application of Advantage: in-depth analysis.

b2ap3_thumbnail_DOGSO-blog.jpgWe recently had an interesting discussion on our forum about one particular incident that occurred in a match between Real Madrid v. Ludogorets Razgrad.  As can be viewed in the video below, in the 19th minute of the game, Ludogorets’ player, who was standing on the goal line between the posts, illegally prevented the ball from going into the goal by intentionally deflecting it with his arm.  The deflected ball, however, bounced and luckily landed right in front of Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale who volleyed into the goal.  Bale’s celebration was cut short, however, when he realized that the referee blew the whistle and signaled for the penalty kick instead. Following his decision to award the penalty kick, the referee dismissed the offending player for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.  The resulting penalty kick was – fortunately for the referee – converted into Real Madrid’s goal.


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Is it time for in-game video review?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Blatter.jpgAs regular readers of our blog know, we at SoccerRefereeUSA have been at the forefront of the argument that technology – or more precisely a smart and judicious use of technology – is good for the game.  Thus, for example, we were very early advocates for the use of the goal-line technology (GLT).  Just to underscore this point, you can read our blogs on this subject here, here, here and here.


The successful implementation of the GLT technology at the last World Cup in Brazil, and its continuous and successful use in the English Premier League, prove that the our advocacy and analysis was spot-on and that the critics’ arguments that the game would be somehow forever changed for the worse unfounded. 


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Uneducated match commentators making our jobs even more difficult.

Referee Neil SwarbrickWe are no different than most of our fellow referees who, from time to time, vigorously shake their heads in disbelief and amusement when something unexpected – nay, idiotic – comes out of supposedly knowledgeable game commentators’ mouths.  Now, we will admit that this sort of comes with the territory.  They are, after all, paid to be entertaining and perhaps saying something controversial that boosts the ratings.  We get that.  But sometimes they take things too far and, by sounding authoritative, they actually create and sow confusion among the fans of the beautiful game and in the process make our already difficult jobs even more difficult.


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Oscar’s acting performance gets two thumbs down from referee Martin Atkinson.

Martin Atkinson administers caution to OscarReferee Martin Atkinson began the New Year with the bang.  He showed courage when required and uncanny ability to spot a dive despite the Oscar like winning performance by none other than Chelsea’s Oscar. 


In the 55th minute of the game between Southampton and Chelsea, when the game was still scoreless, Oscar was fed an excellent pass by Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and found himself one-on-one with Southampton’s goalkeeper Kelvin Davis merely six yards away from the goal.  Southampton’s goalkeeper charged out of his goal in an attempt to stop Oscar’s run and cut the angle to his goal but Oscar artfully flicked the ball to the left of the charging goalkeeper avoiding completely his desperate challenge. 


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EPL Referee overrides the Laws of the Game with his own notions of “fair-play” and “common sense.”

Mike Jones signals for throw-inReferee Mike Jones found himself both criticized and praised for his decision to disallow a goal scored by a Norwich midfielder, Leroy Fer, in the 94th minute of the last week's premier league fixture between Norwich City and Cardiff.  The controversy arose after Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall threw the ball out of bounds for a throw-in in order that a medical/trainer's assistance be provided to Norwich midfielder Alex Tettey, who went down “injured” in the midfield.  Soon after, Referee Jones beckoned to Norwich player standing by the touchline to resume play and proceed with the thrown-in.  The Norwich player complied, but to Cardiff players’ dismay and disbelief, instead of giving it back to them, he threw-in the ball to his teammate Leory Fer who promptly kicked the ball into Cardiff’s unoccupied goal. 


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When will MLS step in and stop referee abuse?!

Beckerman confronts referee GrajedaIt goes without saying that match officials of any stripes – but particularly soccer referees – will, at some point in their careers, face abusive behavior.  This abuse can come from various sources, including players, coaches, parents and/or fans.  It occurs in low level games, even those involving kids, and at the highest levels.  Abuse can take many forms such as offensive language, veiled and explicit threats and physical assaults resulting in injuries and even deaths.  Sadly, such abusive behavior is becoming more common place than we would like to admit and major leagues and soccer governing organizations would like to acknowledge.  Facing little or no support from their local, regional or even national referee organizations, many referees believe that such abuse is simply part of their job description and “deal” with it on their own or simply accept it.  AND THEY SHOULD NOT!


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PRO's questionable advice to assistant referees!

TorontovDCunitedSomething remarkable happened after Mr. Adam Garner, the far-side Assistant Referee in the Toronto v. DC United match, indicated that a foul was committed.  And no, we are not talking about the excellent decision by the Referee Ted Unkel who waived off Mr. Garner’s foul signal and allowed play to continue, which ultimately resulted in a goal.  No, we are not talking about that here although Mr. Unkel’s decision does deserve praise.  Instead, we are talking about Professional Referee Organization heaping praise on the Assistant Referee Garner for supposedly “correctly” signaling for a free-kick and “encourag[ing] ARs to take responsibility when foul challenges occur within their area” without any regard to – nay, in clear contradiction of – the express provisions of the FIFA Laws of the Game, directives issued by IFAB and advise provided by the United States Soccer Federation.      


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When seconds really matter…

Chivas USA v. SoundersReferee Mark Geiger was accosted by angry Chivas USA players immediately after he blew his final whistle ending the encounter between Seattle Sounders FC and Chivas USA yesterday.  The Chivas players were incensed by Mr. Geiger’s decision to end the game before the added time actually expired.  As it is customary, and required by the Laws of the Game, at the of the final minute of the match, the fourth official indicated that the referee decided to add 3 minutes to the game.  In the last minute of the match, with literally only a few seconds to go, Seattle’s goalkeeper, Michael Gspurning, released the ball from his possession and then, in order to prevent the Chivas striker to collect the loose ball, he picked it up again.  Of course, given that the subsequent touch of the ball by the Seattle goalkeeper occurred without an intervening touch by another player, the goalkeeper committed the so-called “double touch” infringement and Mr. Geiger would have been required to award an indirect free kick to Chivas USA (fortuitously, we wrote extensively about the double touch infringement and referees' failure to enforce it in our recent blog here).


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Goalkeeper’s endangered species status must end!

b2ap3_thumbnail_goalkeeper1.jpgIn no small part inspired by a discussion on our Referee Forum, we decided to write about one very particular aspect of the Laws of the Game that is rarely talked about and even less frequently seen enforced by referees.  This article was also inspired by what we believe is a preferential treatment that is afforded to goalkeepers on the field of play. It seems to us that a lot of referees, players, commentators - and certainly goalkeepers - think that a goalkeeper is an “endangered species” on the field and should be “protected” at all cost.  Like a Siberian Tiger, he must be protected for fear of extinction. 


Thus, it is no surprise to see that whenever there is a challenge on a goalkeeper many referees almost instinctively reach for their whistle and call a foul.  Or, for example, take the six second rule and answer this question: how many times did you see it violated but unenforced? Dare we say that the answer is too many to count?  Anyway, goalkeepers are not on the endangered species list the last time we checked and are not afforded any special privileges under the Laws of the Game (save for being able to handle a ball inside their own penalty area) and referees should apply and enforce the Laws of the Game equally to them and their conduct. This selective enforcement must stop! Period!       


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New Offside Law - clear as mud!

b2ap3_thumbnail_fifa-laws.jpgDuring the International Football Association Board (IFAB) Annual General Meeting in Edinburgh on March 2, 2013, IFAB considered a number of proposals to amend the Laws of the Game.  Among the proposals considered were changes to Law 11 – Offside that were submitted for IFAB’s consideration by FIFA.  In particular, FIFA wanted to discuss how to clarify and eliminate confusion “regarding what is meant by rebound, deflection and when the ball has been deliberately saved.”  In the opinion of FIFA, the wording of Law 11 was not precise enough and left “too much room for interpretation.” 


Ultimately, in its Circular No. 1362, IFAB announced that it approved the various instructions, directives and amendments to the Laws of the Game, including those related to Law 11 – Offside.    These changes became effective July 1, 2013. 


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With excellent refereeing in the background, Brazil defeats Spain in the Confederations Cup Final.

Neymar goalThis was a heavily anticipated game and just about everyone hoped to see Brazil and Spain in the Confederations Cup Final.  On one hand, you had Brazil, the host and the defending champions of the Confederations Cup and, on the other, Spain, the reigning champions of Europe and current champions of the FIFA World Cup.  You really could not hope for a more marquee match-up.   And the expectations were more than met.


The game began at a frantic pace.  The fans were loud and provided great atmosphere.  They did not have to wait for too long to see the first goal.  It came only after 96 seconds.  It was the fastest goal scored in the Confederations Cup tournament.   The goal came after a bit of a scrappy play.  The ball was played into the penalty area and Fred appeared to have missed it with his head but then Neymar, who was at the far post behind Fred, played it back into the danger zone in the goal kick area.  Just when it seemed that Iker Casillas was going to smother the ball, Fred, who was down on the ground, somehow beat him to the ball and powered it into Spain’s goal.  Spain found itself in an unlikely situation trailing 0:1 only after less than two minutes of play.


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Beware of bad referee advice peddled on the internet!

Bad Referee AdviceWe designed and developed this website because we found that, even though the internet was full of websites catering to soccer enthusiasts, majority of them did not provide the kind of in depth, comprehensive and accurate information and analysis about the game generally and refereeing in particular that we believed fans of the beautiful game were looking for. 


We applaud those who strive to provide informative and helpful information to the refereeing community.  We can’t, however, stand idly by when we come across those websites that peddle horribly bad refereeing advice.  We think that our – referees’ job – is already difficult enough and does not need to be complicated further or made more challenging by those who spread confusion, bad information, and plainly bad advice.  

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MLS announcers betray their ignorance by calling referee Toledo’s penalty “ridiculous”.

Taore foulLA Galaxy completely outplayed and obliterated Seattle Sounders in the Home Depot Center stadium yesterday.  And Robbie Keane had a particularly good game scoring three out of four goals for the LA Galaxy.  Controversially, Robbie Keane’s hat-trick came thanks to referee Baldomero Toledo’s two crucial decisions.  First, referee Toledo awarded a penalty kick to LA Galaxy for a foul on LA Galaxy's Gyasi Zardes by Seattle’s Jimmy Traore in the 32nd minute of the game.  Secondly, when Robbie Keane’s penalty kick shot was saved by Michael Gspurning, referee Toledo ordered that the penalty kick be re-taken because two Seattle Sounders players encroached into the penalty area before the penalty kick was taken.  Robbie Keane did not make the same mistake twice and buried his second-chance penalty kick.


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Chelsea beats Aston Villa in a match full of controversial decisions.

LampardIn a game full of drama and with huge implications for both the top and bottom of the English Barclays Premier League between Aston Villa and Chelsea, referee Lee Mason and his refereeing crew had their hands full. The game witnessed three goals, two of these were historic and record setting goals by Frank Lampard, one controversial no-goal cleared off the goal line, seven yellow cards and two red cards.


Given the high stakes of this game – for Chelsea Championship League spot and Aston Villa relegation from the league - it was not surprising that Mr. Mason was called to action very early in the game.  Indeed, he issued his first caution in only the 4th minute of the game.  The caution was issued to Nathan Baker for a hard foul on Chelsea’s Juan Mata. In fact, Baker should have considered himself very lucky because his lunging tackle completely missed the ball, violently upended Mata and came from behind.  Truth to be told, Mr. Mason could have easily – and should have - sent him off for serious foul play.  Under FIFA Laws of the Game, “any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force and endangering the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.”  Baker’s foul easily met these criteria.


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Arsenal defeats Norwich after assistant referee awards it crucial penalty!

Kemara foulArsenal collected important three points in its fight for the spot in the next years Champion’s League by defeating Norwich 3:1 in a dramatic and controversial finish in the Barclays Premier League at the Emirates Stadium.  Norwich went ahead of Arsenal on Michael Turner’s goal in the 56th minute of the game.  Arsenal could not break Norwich defense until 85th minute of the game when Mike Jones, following signal from the assistant referee Richard West, awarded Arsenal a penalty kick which was converted by Mikel Arteta. Only three minutes later, Oliver Giroud added Arsenal’s second goal sending Arsenal’s fans into wild celebrations.  Unfortunately, things got even worse for Norwich when Lukas Podolski scored Arsenal’s third and final goal in the 92nd minute of the game, completing Arsenal’s remarkable comeback.


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Borussia eliminates Malaga from Champions League after a game riddled with offside mistakes.

Malaga offsideAfter a spirited and full of drama game, Borussia Dortmund defeated Malaga 3:2 in Westfalenstadion on Wednesday April 9 2013, securing its spot in Champions League seminal.  Borussia Dortmund was favored to prevail in this clash but Malaga did not go down quietly.  In fact, Malaga broke the impasse first when Sanchez Joaquin scored the first goal in 25th minute of the game. Borussia’s Robert Lewandowski, however, brought the teams on level terms just before the half-time in the 40 minute of the game.  In the 82nd minute of the game, Malaga struck again and recorded its second goal on Pereira Eliseu’s easy tap-in and, with less than eight minutes remaining in the regulation time, a huge upset appeared to be in the making.  Just when it all looked like Dortmund was out of the Champions League (at this point the German team needed to score two more goals), Marco Reus breathed some glimmers of hope to the Dortmund’s side when he scored and brought the two sides level once more in the 91st minute of the game.  And then the unbelievable happened!  With seconds remaining in the game, Augusto Felipe Santana pounced on a loose ball in Malaga’s penalty area, sending Borussia Dortmund to the Champions League semifinals.


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PSG and Barcelona draw after referee fails to disallow Ibrahimovic’s offside goal.

Ibrahimovic offside goalParis Saint-Germain and Barcelona drew 2:2 in the first leg of the quarterfinal game in the Champions League at Parc Des Princes this past Tuesday. The game started according to the script with Lionel Messi scoring the first goal in the 38th minute of the match.  Messi’s goal came after Barca’s Dani Alves beautifully curved the ball with outside of his foot into PSG’s penalty are and towards incoming Messi.  Messi let the ball fall and bounce and then without hesitation unleashed a shot across the penalty area, past the diving goalkeeper, and into PSG’s goal.  This was typical Messi, making the difficult look easy.  However, in the 79th minute of the game PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalized when he collected the ball inside the five-yard box that bounced off the far post after it was headed by his teammate. After the fortuitous rebound, Ibrahimovic was the quickest to react and simply tapped the ball into Barca’s goal.  Barcelona players were quick to protest the goal, arguing that Ibrahimovic was in an offside position when the ball was last played by the PSG player.  As we discuss it in much detail below, the replays showed that these protestations were well warranted. 

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USA and Mexico share points in WorldCup Qualifier at Azteca Stadium.

USA v. Mexico The United States Men’s National Soccer Team escaped with one point from the encounter with its south-of-the-border rival Mexico.  This was a hard fought scoreless draw and it was only the second time in history that the U.S. earned a point in a WorldCup qualifying game against Mexico in Azteca Stadium.  This draw moves the U.S. into third place in the Hexagonal group standings. The Americans are one point behind the group’s leaders Panama. The second place was claimed by Costa Rica which has the same number of points as USA but is placed higher in the table due to a better goal differential.


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