Time Out for Soccer

Some of you know that I referee high school soccer here in Kansas.

Banished from my home today for my niece’s wedding shower (thanks Ashley!) I went over to my nephew’s house and watched the US Women’s soccer team play Canada in a friendly.

Don’t know if you saw it, but Hope Solo made a heck of a save. Watch the whole thing on YouTube right here, but I captured the significant moment below:

Hope Solo SaveInitially Solo pinned the ball in front of the line, then gathered it to herself on the line, then took a Canadian kick or two which seemed to cause the bobble pictured above.

In soccer, a ball on the line is still in the field of play.  To be across the end-line, the entirety of the ball has to cross the line.

The line itself is not supposed to be more than 5 inches wide. FIFA lists no minimum size, but I’ve seen lines less than five inches wide many times. FIFA shows in some of its rule drawings that goal posts are supposed to have the same depth as the line they sit on, so that the front of the post is on the front of the line, and the back is on the back. But there is no specific written rule that requires this.  I’ve refereed many FIFA rule games with goal posts smaller than the lines they sit upon.

High school rules stipulate that the back of the goal post is supposed to be aligned with the back of the end line. That way, on plays like these, the post helps the assistant referee know that the ball did not cross the line. With things set properly, if any part of the ball is touching the post, no goal has been scored. If there is a gap visible between the ball and the post to a properly positioned assistant referee, we have a goal.

But if the goal post is placed differently – say the front of a 3 inch post is placed on the front of a 5 inch line – then a 1/2 inch gap between ball and post would not be a goal. We’d lose the advantage of the post serving as a vertical extension of the end line.

And if the goal placement were entirely wrong – say the front of the goal is behind the line – then the picture above would be a goal, but an assistant referee accustomed to proper placement would not know that.

That’s why high school referees check the placement of goal posts before games.

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