Law 5 - Referees

A referee shall be appointed to officiate in each game. His authority and the exercise of the powers granted to him by the Laws of the Game commence as soon as he enters the field of play.

His power of penalizing shall extend to offenses committed when play has been temporarily suspended, or when the ball is out of play. His decision on points of fact connected with the play shall be final, so far as the result of the game is concerned. He shall:

  1. enforce the Laws.

  2. refrain from penalizing in cases where he is satisfied that, by doing so, he would be giving an advantage to the offending team.

  3. keep a record of the game; act as timekeeper and allow the full or agreed time, adding thereto all time lost through accident or other cause.

  4. have discretionary power to stop the game for any infringement of the Laws and to suspend or terminate the game whenever, by reason of the elements, interference by spectators, or other cause, he deems such stoppage necessary. In such a case he shall submit a detailed report to the competent authority, within the stipulated time, and in accordance with the provisions set up by the National Association under whose jurisdiction the match was played. Reports will be deemed to be made when received in the ordinary course of post.

  5. from the time he enters the field of play, caution and show a yellow card to any player guilty of misconduct or ungentlemanly behavior. In such cases the referee shall send the name of the offender to the competent authority, within the stipulated time, and in accordance with the provisions set up by the National Association under whose jurisdiction the match was played. Reports will be deemed to be made when received in the ordinary course of post.

  6. allow no person other than the players and linesmen to enter the field of play without his permission.

  7. stop the game if, in his opinion, a player has been seriously injured; have the player removed as soon as possible from the field of play, and immediately resume the game. If a player is slightly injured, the game shall not be stopped until the bass has ceased to be in play. A player who is able to go to the touch- or goal-line for attention of any kind, shall not be treated on the field of play.

  8. send off the field of play and show a red card to any player who, in his opinion, is guilty of violent conduct, serious foul play, the use of foul or abusive language, or who persists in misconduct after having received a caution.

  9. signal for recommencement of the game after all stoppages.

  10. decide that the ball provided for a match meets with the requirements of Law 2.

Decisions of the International F.A. Board

  1. Referees in international matches shall wear a blazer or blouse the color of which is distinct from the colors worn by the contesting teams.

  2. Referees for international matches will be selected from a neutral country unless the countries concerned agree to appoint their own officials.

  3. The referee must be chosen from the official List of International Referees. This need not apply to amateur and youth international matches.

  4. The referee shall report to the appropriate authority misconduct or any misdemeanor on the part of spectators, officials, players, named substitutes or other persons which take place either on the filed of play or in its vicinity at any time prior to, during, or after the match in question so that appropriate action can be taken by the authority concerned.

  5. Linesmen are assistants of the referee. In no case shall the referee consider the intervention of a linesman if he himself has seen the incident and from his position on the field, is better able to judge. With this reserve, and the linesman neutral, the referee can consider the intervention, and if the infomation of the linesman applies to that phase of the game immediately before the scoring of a goal, the referee may act thereon and cancel the goal.

  6. The referee, however, can only reverse his first decision so long as the game has not been restarted.

  7. If the referee has decided to apply the advantage clause and to let the game proceed, he cannot revoke his decision if the presumed advantage has not been realized, even though he has not, by any gesture, indicated his decision. This does not exempt the offending player from being dealt with be the referee.

  8. The Laws of the Game are intended to provide that games should be played with as little interference as possible, and in this view it is the duty of referees to penalize only deliberate breaches of the Law. Constant whistling for trifling and doubtful breaches produces bad feeling and loss of temper on the part of the players and spoils the pleasure of spectators.

  9. by para. (d) of Law 5 the referee is empowered to terminate a match in the event of grave disorder, but he has no power or right to decide, in such event, that either team is disqualified and thereby the loser of the match. He must send a detailed report to the proper authority who alone has power to deal further with this matter.

  10. If a player commits two infringements of a different nature at the same time, the referee shall punish the more serious offense.

  11. It is the duty of the referee to act upon the infomation of neutral linesmen with regard to incidents that do not come under the personal notice of the referee.

  12. The referee shall not allow any person to enter the field until play has stopped, and only then if he has given him a signal to do so, nor shall he allow coaching from the boundary lines.

  13. The coach may convey tactical instructions to players during the match. The coach and other officials, however, must remain within the confines of the technical area* where such an area is provided and they must conduct themselves, at all times, in a responsible manner.

  14. In tournaments or competitions where a fourth official is appointed, his role and duties shall be in accordance with the guide-lines approved by the International Football Association Board.

Footnote: For top-level football, the technical area may be defined in terms of the length of the bench plus one meter at each side of the bench, and the area in front of the bench up to one meter parallel to the touchline.

1992 Memorandum - Advice to Referees:

The specific reference to the yellow and red cards reinfoces that these cards are mandatory items of equipment for all referees at all levels of competition. These references will assist the referee in dealing with situations that warrant the issuance and display of mandatory cards.

[Rules.] [Law 4: The Players' Equipment.] [Law 6: The Linesmen.]