Referee Cheat Sheet

Here they are - all of the penal and nonpenal fouls and the Red and Yellow Card offences summarized in a single table and a checklist of matters to be covered in pre-game instructions by Referees to Assistant Referees (plus . . . a set of instructions for the referee to give to his assistant referees). Fully updated to comply with 2004 LOTG.

Coming one of these days, a two-way list of re-starts (how you re-start with a list of situations in which the restart is used and a list of situations in which a restart is needed with the type of restart).

(Direct Free Kick)

(Indirect Free Kick)

Kicking or trying to kick opponent Offside (no offside for throw in, corner kick or goal kick)
Tripping or trying to kick pponent Goalie takes > 6 seconds or touches ball with hand after release or after deliberate kick or throw from teammate
Jumping at opponent Dangerous play (not "high kicking")
Charging opponent Impeding progress of an opponent (obstruction)
Holding opponent Prevent GK from releasing ball from hands
Striking or trying to strike opponent Wasting time
Pushing opponent Touching the ball a second time after the ball is in play following a throw-in, goal kick, corner kick, penalty kick or free kick
Above require offence to be committed in a manner considered to be "careless, recklessor using excessive force"  
Tackle an opponent to gain possession, making contact with opponent first)  
Holding an opponent  
Spitting at opponent  
Handling ball deliberately (incl. GK outside box)  
Unsporting behavior Serious foul play
Dissent by word or action Violent conduct
Persistent infringement of the Laws Spits at opponent or other person
Delays restart of play Denies a goal or obvious goal scoring opportunity by deliberately handling ball (not goalkeepers within own penalty area)
Fails to retreat required distance on free
kicks or corner kicks
Denies an obvious goal scoring opportunity by an offence punishable by free kick or penalty kick
Enters or re-enters w/out ref's permission Offensive, insulting or abusive language or gesture
Leaves w/out ref's permission Second caution

Pregame Instructions

Here is a checklist of items which a referee should cover with the assistant referees before a game. Obviously, the list is too comprehensive for a regular game where time constraints are significant. But hopefully this will help referees in playoff and tournaments. Please be as comprehensive as you can when working with inexperienced referees.

  • Designate teams and field sides
    • senior AR
    • time backup/game length
  • State diagonal
  • Positions and Responsibilities
    • Throw-in
    • Corner Kick
    • Penalty Kick
      • Position
      • Responsibility
    • Signal
    • Goal Signal
    • Offside
      • Position
      • Participation
    • Hold Signal Until
      • Whistle
      • Wave off, or
      • Advantage to defending team
    • Fouls
      • Signal (foul, discussion, indirect)
      • In front of referee
      • Behind referee (severity)
      • Penalty Area
    • Ball Out of Play
      • Responsibility
    • Signal
    • Free Kicks near goal
      • Position
    • Ball In PlaySignals
      • Mirror signals
    • Fights
    • Ask for Questions

Instructions on Fouls

Here are some specific instructions on fouls recommended by James Schauer, Section 2 Referee Administrator, National 1 Referee and a former member of the AYSO National Board of Directors.

If you see a foul, look at me, and wait a heartbeat or two. If I am blowing the whistle (or bringing it up to my mouth) or if I am calling "Play-on", you don't need to do anything. If I am not doing these things then I did not see the foul, or from my position on the field I did not see it as a foul.

You now have to make a decision on whether you think play should be stopped. If you decide to allow play to continue you don't have to do anything. If you want to call out "Play on!" and/or give a signal with your off-field hand go ahead. If you think play should be stopped, stop, raise your flag and give it a good shake. If I decide to stop play, I will blow my whistle. Immediately, point the direction of the free kick with your flag parallel to the ground. If it is a penalty kick, drop your flag and run to the corner. If it is an IFK, raise you non-flag hand to so indicate, and jog to the corner if it is in the penalty area for the attacking team.

If I decide not to stop play (note: I am not overruling the AR. What a strange concept, as if by magic I can decide something I did not see was or was not a foul), I will give the advantage signal ("Play on!" and upswing of the arms) to indicate a foul has been committed (and observed by a member of the officiating crew) and that I am allowing play to continue. As I bring my arms down I will clearly wave you back to your position.

If I miss your signal (ouch). Wait a few seconds, drop your flag and return to your proper position. If the foul directly results in a goal let me know (I have already discussed this with the AR). If not whack me upside the head at half-time or after the match.

If an off the ball foul occurs behind my back, I always want you to signal it and I want the other AR to mirror the signal. These fouls are the most dangerous to the referee's control of the match and I always want to deal with the players involved.

Remember, selling any call depends on presence. The further away the foul the harder it is to sell the call and the more likely that I will not see your signal. Keep that in mind when fouls are not within 10-20 yards of you.

Have Fun!!