Goal – Now What?

Published on September 13, 2016


By: John Van de Vaarst – National Clinician

The monthly “NISOA Referee Nuts and Bolts” column is written primarily for the college and high school soccer referee. However, any soccer referee who wishes to improve personal performance may also find that this series is helpful.
All articles address those BASIC techniques, procedures, practice alternatives, and skills that are sometimes forgotten or overlooked while going through the experiences of soccer refereeing. The short discussions and accompanying practical tips stress important advice for competent performance. This month’s article will focus on what the officiating team should do when a goal is scored.

When a goal is scored the referee team must be ready to perform a variety of actions in a relatively short amount of time. This most important action is to observe the players from both teams who are near the goal. An attacking player may run into the goal and take the ball and proceed toward the half-way line. This could have a negative impact on the goalkeeper and/or the defensive players. The lead official in the dual system and the referee in the diagonal system must be focused on what can potentially occur and do whatever is possible to prevent any problems. For example, the referee or lead official should get close to the situation and talk to the players involved. This preventive approach should eliminate the possibility of the goalkeeper or a defender from moving toward the attacking player and taking the ball away. This action should also prevent the attacking player from taunting or making other gestures toward the defending team and causing what can become a very serious situation.

The trail official in the dual system should be observing the other players and possibly the substitutions and coaches on the benches to ensure there are no flare-ups, taunting, etc. In the diagonal system of control, the assistant referee nearest the goal should be assisting the referee and the other assistant referee observing the other players on the field. If this assistant is on the far side of the field, he/she can also observe the substitutes and bench personnel.

Once the referee or lead official is confident that there will be no incidents near the goal, the official should back peddle toward the center circle. This will allow the official to continue to observe the players and ensure there are no retaliatory actions by any players. The official should not turn toward the center circle until he/she is in a position that all players can be observed.

In the diagonal system of control, the referee, during the pregame conference, should instruct the assistant referees who should record the goal and when. For example, the referee should advise the assistant referee on the far side of the field to record the goal when the teams are back near the center circle and getting ready for the kick-off. By this time the potential for any problems should be dissipated. In the dual system of control the head referee should also record the goal when the teams are near the center circle.

In both the intercollegiate and interscholastic game, there should be an official scorekeeper. This is the individual who is ultimately responsible to record who scored the goal and who assisted on the score. This is not a duty of the referee or head official. Writing should be kept to a minimum and could be as little as a hash mark under the team who scored the goal on the official’s card. If the official spends time writing about the score, time of the score, etc. he/she is not focused on the players and what is occurring on the field.

Another important item is how an official should write when recording any information during a game. It is not a good habit for an official to take his/her notepad and place it on the thigh and write. When doing this the official has his/her head down and can not observe any situations on the field. The official should hold the pad up and write so that his/her line of sight can be over the notepad and can quickly look up to observe any situation. Again, the official should only record as much information as necessary so that the scorebook can be verified after the game. The only item relative to scoring that must be verified is the final score. It is not the official’s responsibility to verify who scored and the time of the score.

In summary, observing all players after a goal is scored is should prevent retaliations, taunting and other related actions that could have a negative impact on the game. This is far more important than recording information.

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