The Men’s and Women’s NCAA Soccer Rules Committee consists of eight voting members and the Secretary-Rules Editor. When the committee meets they discuss various issues regarding the rules and determine what areas should be included as points of emphasis in the NCAA Soccer Rules Book. The 2016 and 2017 book contains six points of emphasis. This article will summarize each one and as appropriate provide additional information for officials in interpreting these points of emphasis.
The first point of emphasis deals with artificial noisemakers. Rule 5.6.9 describes what types of noisemakers are acceptable and what the referee procedures are to deal with problems associated with noisemakers. Specifically, the referee may “suspend the game, stop the clock and direct the game management personnel to remove whistles, air horns, electronic amplifiers and any other items that are not permitted from the spectators’ areas.” Noisemakers are permissible if they do not interfere with the game. Many intercollegiate venues have fans that enjoy supporting their team and use various items to help cheer and enjoy themselves. The referee must determine if these noisemakers are interfering with the game. If so, the referee musts take the necessary action to have them eliminated. If the fans are merely enjoying themselves and adding to the excitement of the game, the referee should allow them as long as the noisemakers are not on the prohibited list.
The NCAA Rules Committee has determined that video review is permissible under certain specific situations. These situations include: determining if a goal has been scored, identifying players for disciplinary matters, and determine if a fight occurred and identify all participants. These are the only times video replay may be used. In order for video replay to be permitted, both head coaches must agree to its use prior to the game. Only the referee may initiate a review. Coaches cannot ask for a review of any play. There are specific procedures outlined in the NCAA Rules Book describing the video review. The review equipment must be provided by the home team and available at the scorekeeper’s table. In order for the referee to make a decision to reverse a call the evidence must be indisputable.
The referee may use the video review for the above mentioned areas only if the action is initiated prior to the game restarting. For example, if the referee awards a goal, there may be a question as to whether the ball wholly crossed the goal line. The referee may use the video review if the game has not been restarted with a kick off. If the referee utilizes the video review, he/she must do so without coaches viewing the video or interference from the coaches. In addition, while the referee should take sufficient time to be accurate, he/she should not extend the review for extended lengths of time.
The third points of emphasis are timing, game rosters and the coin toss. The timing sheet used for games will include the exchange of game rosters 30 minutes prior to the game. 10 minutes prior to the game the field shall be cleared and the captains meet for the coin toss. The game should begin when the time sheet reaches 00:00. The start of a game should not be delayed because the officials were not prepared or did not follow the timing sheet. These procedures are all part of the officiating team’s pregame responsibilities. Officials must arrive at the site early enough to complete the field inspection, obtain rosters and conduct the coin toss during the specified time frame.
Each season there are questions about how to properly deal with inclement weather. The Rules Committee has identified Rule 7.6 Inclement weather Policy, Expiration of Time as a point of emphasis. “No game may be started more than three hours after the originally scheduled start time unless the referee has been notified and mutually agreed upon before the start of the game by the teams or determined by the governing sports authority. “It is possible to have the start of a game delayed when the visiting team arrives late due to mechanical problems with a mode of transportation. Also, severe weather can delay the start of a game. Another reason is a problem with the field such as portable goals not being anchored. The referee must work with the coaches and, if appropriate, the governing body to determine how long a delay is permissible if the team has not arrived. Weather delays, especially lightning, must be administered in accordance with the NCAA rules. The temporary suspension of a game that has been started must also adhere to the three-hour guide. In other words, if a game that started at 5:00 PM is suspended due to weather, the delay cannot go beyond 8:00 PM unless mutually agreed upon.
As part of Rule 11, the NCAA Rules Committee has provided detailed information about offside in 11.3.3. This section deals with the deliberate play from a defender (except a save). This definition is very clear and all officials should study this section carefully to ensure they are very familiar as to what determines deliberate play by a defender. The action by the defender may give the attacking player benefiting from the play. This must not be penalized. Assistant referees must delay signaling for offside until it is determined if the player in the offside position received the ball directly. If the opponent deliberately played the ball, there cannot be offside. This is why the assistant referee should wait to determine how the play develops before making a decision.
The last point of emphasis focuses on the throw-in. Opponents must be a minimum of two yards from the touch when the throw-in is attempted. This helps eliminate potential problems with a defender standing directly in front of the thrower and the thrower deliberately throwing the ball at the defender. This also allows for the thrower to release the ball into play more quickly. The officiating team should remind players about the two-yard requirement the first time it occurs so that future problems are avoided.
The above is a summary of the points of emphasis. Every official should study the entire rule book on a regular basis to ensure that he/she is thoroughly familiar with every rule and situation.