Friday, August 21, 2009

Info for the 2009 HS season

As you may already know, the NMAA has developed a statewide rules interpreters program for all sports for the first time this year. The purpose of the rules interpreters program is to assist our officials in the consistent application of rules throughout the state and to ensure that coaches and officials are on the same page relative to soccer rules. In addition, the four individuals serving as rules interpreters will be the go-to contacts for rules interpretations for our coaches and officials. Their contact information is supplied at the end of this memo.

Our office staff met with the soccer interpreters last week and the group came up with a number of items for clarification and emphasis. They are as follows:

The following procedures will be put in place for lightning disturbances or other weather related issues (NMAA Handbook 7.17.1E):

E. Inclement Weather – If less than one half of the game has been played, the game will be replayed from point of interruption. The head referee should note who had possession of the ball, on what particular part of the field.

Lightning Delay Procedures (Guidelines for Officials):
1) Use the NFHS Rulebook as a guide to implement lightning delay procedures (NFHS Soccer Rulebook 5-3-2e). The head referee shall have authority to suspend play or terminate the game whenever the elements, spectators or other cause require.
2) From the NFHS Rulebook, “When thunder is heard or a cloud-to-ground lightning bolt is seen, the thunderstorm is close enough to strike your location. Suspend play and take shelter immediately.”
3) Adhere to the 30-minute rule before resuming play, regardless of the point of interruption (first or second half).
4) Communicate with host school administration, visitor administration (if present), and with head coaches of both teams as conditions or decisions change.
5) Attempt to finish contests, if at all possible, once lightning disturbances subside.
6) Contests can be delayed up to two hours using the 30-minute rule.
7) After a two hour delay, it is ultimately the responsibility of the game officials in communication with the host site administration as to whether to suspend the contest or extend the delay additionally.
8) Officials should contact Robert Zayas, NMAA Director of Soccer (505-977-5386) or Dana Sanchez, NMAA Commissioner of Officials (505-977-5388) for clarification if needed.

NOTE: The lightning delay procedures (specifically relative to delaying for up to two hours) are for varsity contests only. Sub-varsity or junior high contests are at the discretion of game officials and host site administration.

The tie game procedure for all regular season district and non-district games can be found in NMAA Handbook Section 7.17.1J. It is as follows:

1) If the game is tied upon completion of two forty-minute halves of play, a maximum of two ten-minute sudden victory overtimes will be played to determine a winner. Should the two overtime periods not determine a winner, a shoot-out will be held, in conformance with the procedures in the NFHS Soccer Rulebook, until a winner is determined. This applies to all regular season district and non-district contests held in New Mexico.

2) If the score remains tied after each team has had five kicks from the penalty line:
a. Each coach selects five different players than the first five who have already kicked to take the kicks in a sudden victory situation, the teams kicking in the same order as determined by the coin toss. If one team scores and the other team does not score, the game is ended without further kicks being taken.
b. If the score remains tied, continue the sudden victory kicks with the coach selecting any five players to take the next set of alternating kicks. If a tie still remains, repeat step #3 for regular season contests and other applicable games in which a winner must be determined through a progression.

Clarification on Tie Game Procedure:
1) The only people allowed at the center circle are the five selected to take the kicks from the mark. After the coaches/captains are brought to the center of the field to review the tie game procedures with officials, only the five taking the kicks are allowed to stay at the center. Everyone else retires to their respective team areas after the procedures are explained. After the first round of kicks, if additional kicks are necessary, the first five kickers retire to the team area and the next five come to the center circle.
2) Once it is determined that a team has won and that the other team cannot catch up, no further kicks need to be taken.
3) The coach can pick any players off the bench for subsequent kicks from the mark after the first round of kicks.
4) There must be 10 different kickers for the first two sets of kicks. After the first two rounds of kicks, a coach can choose to repeat kickers from the initial 10 or can choose from his/her players on the bench. If a team has fewer than 10 players, the coach will use five players in the first round and then four new players plus one from the prior round to make the second five.
NOTE: This is a departure from FIFA rules. There is no requirement for the goalkeeper to take a kick from the mark under NFHS rules. If you coach or officiate FIFA and NFHS, please note this rules difference.

As a reminder, it is the responsibility of the head coach to ensure that all of his/her players are properly and legally equipped for each contest. The head coach assumes that responsibility through signing off on the materials on the NMAA District Clinic online. Please note that teams need not be formally lined up for an equipment check prior to games. Clarification on several often asked questions about player equipment is provided below.

1) Splints, casts and braces - If a player is wearing a splint, cast or brace, the coach must have a doctor’s note for that individual. No exceptions! If a player arrives wearing a splint and he/she removes it to play, the player will be disallowed from participation.
a. Shin guards – As a reminder, by 2012, the NOCSAE seal must be stamped on the shin guards.
b. For Coaches: Shin guards are to be two inches above the ankle (no higher). If players are taping shin guards high, they will be asked to remove them and re-tape them. Failure to comply results in a yellow card to the coach for illegally equipped participants.
c. For Officials: As a preventive officiating tip, it is good to work with coaches on this issue prior to the match. Do a nonchalant check of all equipment, including shin guards, in pre-game and talk to coaches about it then. Address the issue before you have to issue cards, if possible.
2) Jerseys – Players need to start every period of play with their jerseys tucked in and all subs should have their shirts tucked in. As a guideline, shirts shall be tucked in at the beginning of every period of play and subs’ shirts shall be tucked in prior to entering the field.
3) Hair Control Devices – NO bobby pins or metal barrettes and no hard plastic devices are legal. However, if a player is wearing ribbons or other soft hair control devices, if they are not posing a danger to the player or his/her opponent and they are worn as a symbol of school spirit, they are legal.
4) Face or Body Paint– Face paint or other decorative paint is permissible as long as it is not inappropriate or objectionable in any way. If the paint is in the promotion of school spirit and is not unsportsmanlike, it will be allowed.
a. NFHS Rulebook (page 25), 4.2.1 Situation B – Team A appears on the field ready for play with faces and/or arms pained in an objectionable manner. RULING: Illegal. The referee will require that the objectionable markings be removed or covered prior to allowing participation.
5) Items Worn on Players’ Wrists – If a player wears an extra hair band or rubber band on their wrist for their hair, it is permissible. Pieces or yarn or “Livestrong” type bracelets are deemed as illegal equipment.
6) Home Jerseys and Stockings - It is the responsibility of the home team to switch jerseys if the visitor shows up to a game in white. The visiting team has an equal responsibility to wear dark colors, but in the event of an issue, the game should be played and the official should report the incident to the NMAA office.
7) Soccer Balls – If a ball is being used without the NFHS Authenticating Mark, allow the team to play but send a game report to the NMAA office informing them that the balls did not have the NFHS mark.

Dissent can be clarified as comments by coaches, players or bench personnel that contain any one of the three “P’s” – Personal, Provocative or Public. If comments by coaches, players or bench personnel contain any of these elements, the result will be a card for dissent.

1) Emphasis on Player Management – Remember as interscholastic sports officials, you are part of the educational process. Help players and communicate with them about infractions. It is okay to warn a player and explain things to him/her before carding them. This is part of game management and preventive officiating.
2) Pre-Game – In pre-game with coaches, be brief, succinct and mention sportsmanship/Pursuing Victory With Honor.
3) Post-Game – It is okay to wait after the game for a post-game handshake with players. However, use your discretion and leave the field immediately if you believe that the game was problematic or hostile. Always have an “exit strategy” in mind.
4) Facility Issues – If there is a situation that cannot be corrected relative to field markings or other equipment, make sure to file a game report with the NMAA office. You should play the game as long as the field and equipment are safe for all participants.
5) Officials’ Uniforms – As a reminder the Pursuing Victory With Honor patch is the required patch while officiating for the NMAA/NMOA. It can be worn on the chest of the shirt where the existing Velcro is located.
6) Reporting to Coaches Regarding Cautions – Remember that communication is key, however, it is up to the discretion of the referee to disclose the reason why a caution was issued. It is discouraged when the reason is clearly understood. If a coach asks, he/she is entitled to an explanation. As a rule of thumb, legitimate questions from coaches require a response. Statements do not.
7) NFHS Signals – While the prescribed NFHS signals may be helpful to communicate your decisions to players and coaches, they should not be seen as replacing a few well chosen words when a player is clearly confused by a particular decision.

The soccer rules interpreters for the 2009 season are:

Central Region:
Phil Davis
(505) 242-1904
(505) 331-5175
Orion Stradford

Northern Region:
Joe Fawcett
(505) 672-1767
(505) 469-0624

Southern Region:
Nigel Holman
(505) 216-0632
(575) 646-4033
(575) 640-0036

If you have rules questions, you are asked to call or email the individual in your region of the state for clarification and interpretation.

Thank you for your attention to this information. If you have questions or if you need additional information on the rules interpreters program, please feel free to contact us. Have a great season!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Week in Review 21

The latest Week in Review has been released. Read the full article by clicking here.

Most of the discussion was centered on AR Involvement which means when you should intervene and when you shouldn't. US Soccer already put out a great article on this subject which you should already be aware of. If not, read it.

To me this WIR comes down to two main points; participation by the AR is critical to get decisions correct and AR involvement must be at the right moment. Think about a time you were the referee and your AR gave you information that was vital. It made the whole situation work out better, right? Now think about a time when your AR insisted instead of assisted. Was the situation made better or worse?

Being the AR is often time seen as the easier job, the less important job or other negatives. Maybe you thought that you should be in the middle of that "big game" and are pouting about it. Or you just sit back and cruise through a game because you're just the AR. That's not the attitude to have at all. The AR position is a very important part of the crew and your involvement is vital for the success of the team.

Of course, your primary duty as an AR is offside decisions. From there you can expand your view to include assisting with in and out of touch decisions, fouls, misconduct and even player management. Look at the diagram and remind yourself of the area that you need to cover. When there is a game critical situation that's out of the view of the referee you can still make the call, even if its out of your area. But in those situations you need to make sure the referee didn't see it and that your call will help not hinder.

Take the job of being AR seriously and participate when you should. But also think about a time when your AR was over involved and remind yourself not to make the same mistake! Often times we are just providing information to the referee; its up to the referee to decide to call it or allow play to continue. Once you have provided the information let him or her make the final decision. If you still disagree the time to debate that is after the game when you can privately make a comment or two.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Week in Review 20

If you haven't found your way over to US Soccer's web page lately you're in a for a pleasant surprise. Well, at least I think it's going to be a pleasant surprise. That is, after you get used to the new layout of the web page.

One thing that is surely welcome is the introduction of another Week in Review. This time, thanks to the new layout, we get to see videos that are of slightly higher quality. No longer are we watching a video the size of a postage stamp! We can now (gasp) even put the video to full screen if we're feeling a little wild. Enough with the sarcasm, just go check out the new layout already.

The WIR for Week 20 looks at several situations that involve various forms of 100% Misconduct. The review is much needed and good to have. However, note the theme in many of the situations. We, as referees, must have the courage to administer punishment when required of us by the LOTG. But we must always be in control of our emotions when doing this. Of course you need to be firm and resolute, but at the same time don't be rude, shout or curse at a player. Demand respect while showing that same respect back to the players!

Look at the referees in the clips. Do you often see the card displayed straight up, high above the head? Not very often do you see the card "flung" towards the the player, almost "in their face." That's because shoving a card in someone's face is, simply put, rude.

So let's continue to focus on being professional out there. I hope everyone is ready for the season to start!

Statewide Clinic

Once again the Statewide Clinic was a success! This year our guest was Sandra Hunt, former FIFA referee. She gave a great presentation to a full room of referees on Saturday. Written testing followed the instruction that day, with the physical testing bright-and-early on Sunday morning. After that there was some more instruction from Sandy specific to Assessors, Instructors and State Referees.

All of the people I spoke to said they learned a lot from the meeting. I know that being able to pick the brain of a referee who has been to the top (FIFA) is a rare opportunity and I never want to pass that up. Even more rare is having a FIFA referee in our own state! I hope everyone who was able to make it had a great time. Those of you who didn't make it, remember that we'll have one of these meetings again next year around the same time of the month. There is never a clinic fee for the Statewide Clinic and Dave Vehar does a great job bringing in "big names" to do the instructing.

If you haven't recertified for 2010 that means the clock is ticking. Keep an eye on the website calendar to see when you can take that pesky test to retain your badge.