Ref Reference Library

This page provides access to various referee documents which can be read, printed or downloaded. The documents are provided in Adobe Acrobat (aka pdf).

All Adobe PDF files created on this web site are made with Adobe Acrobat 7.0. Adobe readers prior to version 7 may not correctly read the new files. Get your free new version of the adobe reader. Standard version is 13.1 Mb; full version is 20.3 Mb.

Pdf is a compressed format, so the documents are not offered in a zipped form.

To save these documents to your disk, right click on the link to bring up a context menu and then

  • in internet explorer choose Save Target As
  • in firefox choose Save Link As

The principle document is the IFAB Laws of the Game (2016 - 2017) (pdf, 7.2 Mb).

There have been many changes to the Laws of the game. Here is a law change review in both pdf and power point. A referee summary sheet is also available in both pdf and word.

Peter Guthrie has provided an interactive LOTG with links between the text and the modification listings. This can be viewed at You will probably need to download the pdf file and view it with Adobe reader. The links didn't work with my version of Firefox.

Tambien en Español FIFA Reglas de Jeugo (2015 - 2016) (pdf, 2.4 Mb).

The referee on the cover is Nicola Rizzoli of Italy.

Current versions of AYSO Laws of the Game are not available electronically.

The minutes of the IFAB 2012 meeting are available (pdf, 12 Kb).

FIFA has published interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees (all in pdf):

Previous versions of the FIFA Laws of the Game are available:

And a very old LOTG, termed Referees' Chart, from the Football Association:

Here is a link to the AYSO Laws of the Game (2008) (pdf, 4.3 mB), which is the FIFA Laws modified for AYSO.

This document covers Laws 1 - 17, the 4th Official, the Referee's and Assistant Referee's signals, presents illustration of game situations, and provides additional instructions for the Referee, Assistant Referee and 4th Official.

USSF has published a document (69kB) discussing the seven actions which result in a caution.

Previous versions are available:

USSF has published the 2009 7+7 memo ( 143 kB) which lists the only reasons for cautioning and sending off.

USSF has published a short guide of misconduct to watch for in free kick situations.

USSF has published a positon paper on Managing Feinting during penalty kicks and Kicks from the Mark.

Richard Sedivy, the Area 11/K director of referee instruction, has published a simplified version of the USSF Managing Feinting paper. The documents mentioned in this paper may be found on this web site:

As they do every year, FIFA met and made some changes to the Laws of the Game.

The changes for 2014 - 2015 are provided in the 2014 - 2015 Amendments.

The changes for 2013 - 2014 are provided in the 2013 - 2014 Amendments. This is a significant change to the offside law.

The changes for 2012 are provided in the 2012 FIFA Circular. The USSF version of the FIFA changes may be found here (pdf) or here (word). The AYSO version may be found here.

The changes for 2010 are provided in the 2010 USSF Memorandum.

The changes for 2009 are provided in the 2009 USSF Memorandum.


FIFA has issued a new interpretation in 2005 of the Offside law.(23 kB). This interpretation in accompanied by a Flash animation (29 kB) demonstrating the salient points.

The significant change in interpretation is that a player in an offside position, not interferring with an opponent, may not be sanctioned for an offside infraction until he touches the ball.

Double click on the previous link and your browser will show the animation. If Flash is not loaded onto your system, your browser will ask your permission to load it. You may download the animation to your local disk and then present it by opening it with your browser.

A newer and better FIFA flash offside presentaton is found here. The scene number in in the lower right corner of the window. The animation stops after scene 17, click next to continue. The presentation is finished after scene 37. The physics are really weird in scene 29! In scene 33, Player B looks like he is in an offside position; assume he is not.

FIFA has issued a clarification (20 kB) to the above intetpretation on 18 Aug 05.

USSF has issued a position paper (27 Kb) supporting the FIFA clarification. The paper seems self contradictory (the English is turbid), but the conclusion supports FIFA's position.

AYSO has published concurrence with the USSF position paper on 26 Aug. 05:

AYSO follows the directives of USSF, our National Governing body, and this is just a clarification of the way offside should have been taught in the past and should continue to be taught. The attachment (the above USSF psoition paper ed) is from Alfred Kleinaitis, USSF Manager of Referee Development and Education.
Joe (Eldridge ed)

USSF has published an offside PowerPoint presentation that is available for download.

"Life as we know it has not changed." -- Gil Weber

If you do not have power point, a free viewer (windows only) is available (not tried ed).

If you do not care for microsoft products, try open office. You get word and excel also. (not tried ed)

(offside used to be simple, ed)

In 1903 the FA council (England) published:

It is not a breach of Law for a player simply to be in an off-side position, but only when in that position he causes the play to be affected.
- FA council
  December 14th, 1903

Thanks to Ferenc & Sandy Korompai <korompai*nospam*@MSN.COM> for the quote.

There has been a recent (April 2006) flurry of discussion on offside on the referee mail server. Jim Gorden, a referee from many parts of the world (my last contact with him was in Maryland), has written an interesting essay on the topic (17 kb). It is well worth reading and considering.

Tom Marlin (Area 11/K Referee Administrator) and Wayne Merrick (Area 11/Q Director of Assessment) made a presentation at the Tri-Section conference held in San Diego in April 06 on "Offside Interpretation -, What's New?" The presentation in zipped power point is available (60 Kb). The presentation includes a brief history of offside, a review of the offside law, and the clarifications issued by FIFA in 2005. A reference to the FIFA flash and the USSF power point presentations (described above) is made.

FIFA has published (2009) an interactive presentation on Offside. It is very good. A significant point about the Offside Position is not mentioned in the video: When is the offside position judged? At the time a teammate plays or touches the ball. There is one subtle error in the presentation: on the last picture of demonstrating interferring with play, B is in fact in an offside position. Ignore this and assume he is not in an offside position. The presentation does not end well; after the demonstration of the corner kick, the video does not end. The viewer is left with the impression that there is more to come, maybe there is???, but there isn't. Enjoy this video. You have to click on a few message boxes to have the video advance. When the FIFA web site opens click in the blue box with the text "Interactive Guide to Offside Law 11."

Julian Carosi has published a paper on the history of offside.

For a humerous explanation of offside with John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) see this video (18.5 MB).

USSF Papers

USSF has published an Advantage Update in June 2012. Many pundits say the USSF has finally come around to the position of the way the game is refereed, both in the United States and the rest of the world. A Powerpoint presentation (office 2007 or better) is also available. Finally, a video with Michael Kennedy saying what is in the pdf and pptx files is available here.

The United States Soccer Federation has published its latest Guide to Procedures (pdf, 2.5 Mb).

They have also produced videos of the referee and assistant referee signals and the pregame instructions. These may be viewed here. The referee signal video begins with an ad that you have to coax to run to completion.

The United States Soccer Federation has published a Revised Procedure (pdf, 78 kB) concerning flag signals for penalties occurring inside the penalty area.

There has been a new interpretation of the methods a referee may use to enforce the required distance on free kicks. Read this article to find out how referees are to enforce the required distance.

The laws can be open to interpretation. USSF has published the 2013/2014 Advice to Referees in pdf (7.5 Mb)

A prepublication version of the document is available in pdf (352 kb) and in word (352 kb). (These do not have the pictures nor the advertisements. There does not appear to be any difference between the two pdf documents other than the picture and internal pdf markings.)

You need Adobe Reader 6.0 or better to view the pdf version or Word 2010 (or the free converter for word 2003) to view the word version. Different from previous version, one can print this document and cut and past from it.

Previous versions of the Advice to Referees are available:

The USSF publishes memoranda, position papers and checklists on various topics of interest to referees, including:
Time Management, 43 kB,
Kicks from the Mark, 95 kB,
Mass Confrontations, 52 kB,
Misconduct and Language, 53 kB and
Restarts after Striking 70 kB.
Extra Persons on the Field 124 kB.
This paper is well written but there are a couple of points to recognize:

  1. The title of table A should read "Restart If An Extra Person Is ...
  2. Read well the second paragraph after Table B. This paragraph states that it is not sufficient for an extra person to be on the field to disallow a goal. This extra person must have " ... in fact(in the opinion of the referee) interfere[d] with play or with players."

Additional papers may be found on the USSF web site. On the home page, click Laws of the Game (found in the left side menu); then click Position Papers.

AYSO has published the Rules and Regulations (2.3 Mb)

Injuries and Substitutions

AYSO has published a Guidance for Referees and Coaches. From page 59 and the Q & A section are the rules governing injured players and substitutions:

If the referee allows a coach, parent, or other responsible adult to enter the field to assess an injured player, must that player leave the field and, if so, when may the player reenter?

Law 5 requires the referee to stop the match if, in his or her opinion, a player is seriously injured. Law 5 also requires the referee to ensure that the player leaves the field of play.

The determination of what constitutes a ‘serious injury’ should take into account the player’s age. The younger the player, the quicker the referee’s whistle to stop the game. The referee should then beckon the coach to come assess the injured player.

If the referee believes the player is only slightly injured, play should be allowed to continue until the ball is out of play. In this case the injured player is not required to leave the field of play unless someone has entered to assess the injury.

As soon as it is safe to do so, the person responsible for checking the injured player’s condition must escort the player off the field of play. This allows time for determination of the player’s ability to safely continue playing.

If a goalkeeper is injured but not being substituted, he or she may be treated on the field of play and is not required to leave. Injuries involving a goalkeeper and another player and any severe injury to a player such as a concussion, broken leg, swallowed tongue, etc., may also be treated on the field of play.

Before an injured player may return to the field of play, the match must have restarted and the referee signaled permission for the player to return. If the ball is in play, entry must be from a touch line; if the ball is not in play entry may be from a goal line or a touch line.

It is important that the referee remain alert as to when the player is ready to return and give permission at the earliest opportunity so that the player’s team is returned to full strength.

Section 11 and Area K stand behind the above policy.

USSF has published (Aug. 2012) a 4 minute video addressing injuries. It may be viewed here.

Various summaries for referee students are available:

As a student, you will be interested in any information concerning the written test. Here are sample tests. Not the real test, but similar questions, style and format.

Basic Referee Instructor Course Material

Referee Education

Region 5 has acquired vhs tapes of the World Cup 2002 showing all misconduct and all goals. Entertaining and educational. Talk with the Region 5 Referee Administrator to check out the tapes.

Area K has acquired the following training tapes/cds/dvds Talk with the Area Referee Adminstrator to check out the information.

  • Painting the Gray Area. Produced by John Nielsen, former FIFA Assistant Referee. 2003. DVD. A series of vignettes showing questionable events from the prior world cup. You are tasked to decide what the call is. A great presentation for the experienced referee in a learning and disscussion environment.
  • Euro 2004. Produced by John Nielsen. 2005. DVD. Clips from the Euro 2004 games showing foul vs no foul, careless vs reckless, foul vs unsproting behavior, send off examples, dangerous play and offside examples. Another good (but poorer in quality compared to Painting the Gray Area) training aid for a group discussion.
  • Angle of View. Produced by Cal North. Narrated by Robert Evens, FIFA referee 1979 - 1987. CD. Runs on both Mac and PC (so i've been told. haven't tried it on a Mac). Evens argues that the angle of view that the referee has is more important than the distance from play. He supports his position with six videos and computer simulations of violent fouls. One of which was not called by either the referee or the assistant referee. It can be played from the CD, but the computer animation is jerky. Takes 230 Mb of your hard disk space. (a zipped file, at a mere 190Mb, is on the CD in case you want to keep a copy.)
  • Fine Tuning the Thinking Referee. Produced by John Nielsen. 2005. DVD. Clips from various games showing offside, misconduct, fouls, keeper play, and others. Best presented in a group so that discussion of the incidents can ensue.
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This page last updated on Tuesday, 02-Aug-2016 18:53:59 MDT © 2016 T. J. Marlin. All rights reserved.