Peter C. Johnson
State Referee Instructor
The unwritten Law 18 Common Sense is a very important part officiating. However Safety is the most important part of what we do. Not just at the youth level but at all age groups adjusted accordingly.
Law I FIELD:
Referees should arrive in plenty of time to inspect the field, goals, flags, and markings for accuracy and safety. No part of the field surface or the goals and flag posts may be dangerous to the players. If the field conditions are dangerous or unsuitable for play, the referee must refuse to officiate the game and, unless there is a possibility that the problem can be corrected, should leave immediately after announcing his decision to both sides. Unresolved problems with the field that do not involve safety should be included in your report, even if the game is played.
The goals MUST be securely anchored to the ground. For safety reasons, if the goals are not securely anchored to the ground, the match shall not be played.
The corner flags and the optional halfway flags shall be no less than 5 feet high; anything shorter is dangerous to the players. If used, the optional halfway flag must be at least 1 yard outside the touch line. Cones shall NOT be used THEY ARE DANGEROUS in an effort to assist the referees discs may be used if suitable flags are not available. If flexible corner flags are being used and due to wind or age of said corner flags they bend into the field of play or in any direction that could affect a player safety they should not be used. (Due to the fact that they are no longer 5 ‘ high and therefore do not meet the standards of the law.) Players, coaches, spectator etc, are not allowed to remove, bend, or touch the flags.
Law III Players (Goalkeeper) Safety – The referee must be vigilant with respect to the safety of the youth goalkeeper. Call any infringement of the law 12 that is clearly against the letter of the law. If a young goalkeeper is stretched out with face and vital organs exposed we must protect them. Protection is clearly an age related concept. The younger the player the more we protect. Error on the side of safety and if in the case of an older goalkeeper, they let you know they did not need your protection and are upset with having to put the ball in play with a free kick, adjust yourself accordingly.
Law IV- Players wearing of equipment, which is dangerous to other players, or to themselves, shall not be eligible to participate in any game.
Equipment which shall be considered dangerous includes, but is not limited to the following:
a. Any rigid or semi-rigid cast or splint, apparently designed to immobilize or protect a joint or limb segment, regardless of padding, of said cast or splint.
b. Hair control devices which are elastic, flexible, and soft should be allowed.
Devices which are made of hard, sharp, edged, or breakable materials are not safe and may not be worn, regardless of any coverings. Beads or other similar decorative devices woven into or affixed on the hair are inherently dangerous and are not allowed.
c. Earrings of any kind, including post earrings, regardless of coverings.
d. Jewelry of any sort. (Religious medals or medical tags may be taped to body)
e. Joint braces or supports, apparently designed to permit flexion motion of a joint in one or more planes, and to support that joint or restrict motion of that joint in other planes, are generally acceptable. Joint braces or supports, which have exposed hinges, buckles, buttons, zippers, etc., may be dangerous. These devices, if taped or padded, may be acceptable, if they are no longer inherently dangerous to another player, in the judgment of the referee.
f. Hats or other headgear…the brim (hard bill) of a common baseball cap is not considered to meet the requirement of soft and pliable material. (It is dangerous if not soft). Other soft protective headgear, shall be acceptable for the goalkeeper, if not inherently dangerous to another player, in the judgment of the Referee
Head Injuries: Play shall be stopped immediately. Whenever a player's head is injured -- regardless of whether the collision was with an opponent, a teammate, or an object on the field such as a goal post -- the safety of that player is of prime concern. There is no higher priority.
Other injuries: Law 5 under “Power of the referee” states:”the referee stops the match for serious injuries and allows play to continue for minor injuries”. It is the official policy of the State Director of Instruction that in all youth league play, U-12 and below, all injuries are serious, and play shall be stopped. The restart will be a dropped ball at the location of the ball when the referee stopped play for the injury, unless play was previously stopped and then the restart shall be the appropriate one for the stoppage.
With safety in mind we must consider the “Advantage Clause” of Law 12. Using the logic from above the referee shall call all non-trifling fouls in all youth league play, U-12 and below, and award the appropriate free-kick restart. We must ignore complaints of “We had the ball” or “That’s Advantage” deferring to safety for the younger player.
a. Recognizing the threat
(1) Apply the 30-30 rule
When you see lightning, count the time until you hear thunder. If this time is 30 seconds or less, seek proper shelter. If you can't see the lightning, just hearing the thunder is a good back-up rule. Wait 30 minutes after hearing the last thunder before leaving shelter.
(2) Minimize the risk of being struck
Protect the safety of all participants by stopping game activities quickly, so that participants and spectators may retire to a safer place before the lightning threat becomes significant. Remember, if you can hear the thunder, you are within reach of lightning.
b. Seeking proper shelter
(1) No place outside is safe near thunderstorms
(2) The best shelter is a large, fully enclosed, substantially constructed building. A vehicle with a solid metal roof and metal sides is a reasonable second choice.
c. If there is no proper shelter, avoid the most dangerous locations: Higher elevations; wide open areas, including fields; tall isolated objects, such as trees, poles, or light posts; unprotected open buildings; rain shelters; bus stops; metal fences and metal bleachers.
d. If you cannot avoid these locations, crouch down on the balls of your feet, with your head tucked into your chest and your hands over your ears. If someone is hit, remember that all deaths from lightning result from cardiac arrest and stopped breathing. CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, respectively, are the recommended first aid. Referees should become involved in such assistance only if they have proper training.
e. Remain calm. A calm official will often be able to prevent panic by young players.
2. Other types of severe weather
For all other types of severe storms, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and hail, obey local rules and
heed warnings. Clear the field and seek proper shelter immediately – see above. Remember, according to standard weather warning terminology a "warning" represents a more immediately likely occurrence than a "watch."
NO SEVERE WEATHER SAFETY GUIDELINES WILL GIVE 100% GUARANTEED TOTAL SAFETY,
BUT THESE STEPS WILL HELP YOU AVOID THE VAST MAJORITY OF CASUALTIES.
* Excerpted from: Advice to Referees, Colorado Safety Guidelines, USSF Position papers and Points of Emphasis, and former SDI Ed Rae.