Assistant referee decisions in the penalty area

In the recent Europa League round there was a situation which every referee could learn from. How do you deal with assistant referee decisions in the penalty area?

Check the following situation in the match between Borussia Mönchengladbach (Germany) and Villarreal (Spain) at the end of the video. The video quality is not good, but you’ll get a better idea of the situation. A striker tries to reach a teammate in front of the goal, but the ball got blocked by a defender. The ball goes in the air and a defender in his own penalty area tries to control the ball with his foot. He misses the ball and the ball bounces via the ground on his hand. The assistant referee raises his flag, but the referee disagrees with him and let play go on.

The Laws of the Game say: “Two assistant referees may be appointed whose duties, subject to the decision
of the referee, are to indicate: (…) when offences have been committed whenever the assistant referees
have a better view than the referee (this includes, in certain circumstances, offences committed in the penalty area).”

But is it smart to raise a flag for a penalty call? KNVB, the Dutch football organisation, had given a technical guideline for assistant referee decisions in the penalty area. Some tips for AR’s are:

  • intervention by the assistant referee should only happen under special circumstances and if the referee stands at a great distance, in the wrong position or asks explicitly the advice of the assistant referee
  • if the offence is inside the penalty area, proceed to the corner flag, simultaneously beeping and communicate with headset. DO NOT USE THE FLAG. Give the advice “penalty” via the headset and repeat as needed.

In amateur football football you don’t have a headset probably, but you can make good arrangements with your assistant referee. If he follows the guidelines and proceeds to the backline although the ball or players are not, you should notice he’s giving a signal to you. Try to get eye contact with your assistant and then make your decision.

The referee's view of the "handball" situation.In this situation, the assistant referee can see the hand of the defender who might have touched the ball with the hand. The referee can not see that clear, but he has a good view of the situation and can see that the player tries to control the ball with his foot first and that it bounces on the player’s arm then.

I hope you learned somethingon the assistant referee decisions in the penalty area.

The last question for you is: what would you decide on the “handball situation”? Penalty kick or go on?

Goal – no goal situation – what assistant referees should do

Very strange situation in Dutch highest amateur league: the assistant referee spots that the ball has crossed the line, but play goes on for about two minutes before the referee finally awards the goal.

It’s an amateur match between Noordwijk and Scheveningen and referee Andries Dijkstra let the play continue after a goal – no goal situation. After two minutes he decides to have a talk with his assistant referee, who assures him the ball has crossed the line. A form of miscommunication between the match officals.

Check out the video of the goal – no goal situation and read what went wrong and the solution to avoid miscommunication below.

What the assistant referee should have done in tis ‘goal – no goal’ situaton according to the Laws of the Game: “When a goal has been scored but the ball appears still to be in play, the assistant referee must first raise his flag to attract the referee’s attention then continue with the normal goal procedure of running quickly 25-30 metres along the touch line towards the halfway line.”

The Dutch guidelines add to that: “The assistant should stay on the goal line to show he was in a good position.” It also says an assistant referee “should point to the middle line after raising his flag” and then continue with the normal goal procedure.

But was the assistant referee in a good position during this situation? No, he wasn’t. That’s what might have confused him so he followed the normal goal procedure and walked with his flag to the middle line. There were doubts if it was a goal.

So what would you do then? If he ran through to the back line and raised his flag, some players could start moaning that he wasn’t there at the moment the ball crossed the line, but not everyone would have noticed. And if he was 100% sure about his call, why not do that? Then it was immediately clear to referee, players and spectators that he saw that the ball has crossed the line.

That’s also what referee Andries Dijkstra tells after the match before the camera’s of local tv station TV West. “There was no doubt by the assistant referee, but there was some miscommunication. By giving a flag signal, it would have been clear to me that it was a goal. Those moments are annoying and people will remind you of it. But it’s a good point I’ve learned for next time. I’m sorry because if it, it doesn’t give me a good feeling, because we [referees] are sportsmen and want to do everything in a good way. We got to learn from this.”

Update: Also found another video where the assistant referee runs to the middle line in a goal – no goal situation. He wants to show the referee that it’s a goal, but the ref didn’t understand it the first time. But that was not the only thing that went wrong. It looks like it that the ball did not cross the line at all.

Angry bird attacks assistant referee

Angry bird attacks assistant referee Maycon Vieira during a match in the Brazilian league. He ran the line at the match between Navegantes and Inter de Lages in a Santa Catarina State Championship game.

Metro described in beautifully: “But things turned nasty midway through when an angry bird took offence to one of his decisions and started attacking him.”

Check the situation in the video below.

But that was not the only bizarre thing in the video. Did you watch it to the end? Looks like the referee is making a phonecall there. Crazy!

The commentators were having so much fun watching this. Did you like it? Click here to retweet it.

Linesman advices City players to thank their fans

Assistant referee John Brooks has some advice for the Manchester City players shaking his hands after the match against Arsenal: Go to your fans, who paid a huge fee for a ticket, and thank them for coming.

Fans of Manchester City were showing banners to protest against the high prices for this match. says that Manchester Citry returned 912 unsold tickets (price 62 pounds) for the match at the Emirates Stadium against Arsenal.

Mike Dean’s linesman John Brooks has seen the banners too. After James Milner and Joe hart shook his hands, he speaks with Joleon Lescott. Brooks: “Go and see them. They’ve paid 62 quid over there, go and see them.”

Manslaughter case because of killed linesman Nieuwenhuizen

Three teenagers face manslaughter charges because of the death of assistant referee Richard Nieuwenhuizen. The kids have to appear in court Thursday 6th of December for the first time.

A judge will decide if the detention of the suspects will be extended. The prosecutor already announced will then officially be charged with manslaughter, assault and public violence for alleged involvement in an incident last weekend after the match between youth teams form Buitenboys and Nieuw Sloten.

In the Dutch referee system it’s common that parents or club members officiate as a linesman on almost all amateur levels. Buitenboys linesman Nieuwenhuizen was flagging his son’s match and afterwards he was beaten up by three players from Nieuw Sloten. According to a reconstruction by newspaper “de Volkskrant” the AR had no visible wounds after the incident. He watched another match and at that moment he collapsed. He was hurried to the hospital where doctors said the situation was very critical.

One day later, Nieuwenhuizen died in the Flevo hospital in Almere. His club released the following tweet. A translation: “Our linesman Richard died at 17.30 surrouned by his family. The violence on the fields need to stop!”

The night of the incident the club tried to contact the Dutch FA. Buitenboys chairman Marcel Oost told the media that they finally got someone on the line after 11pm. The person was angry at them for calling so late. On Monday the Dutch FA says on national tv it deeply regrets their first reaction. After talking with members of Buitenboys the Dutch FA cancelled all amateur matches for next weekend. Professional football players AND referees will have a minute of silence and will wear mourning arm bands.

Sunday at 17pm, a silent march will be held in Almere in remembrance of the linesman who died and it will end at his football club Buitenboys.

The club says today on Twitter it’s thankful from all the support from referees all over the world. I also got a lot of support messages from referees from all over the world. That’s why I released this tweet:

After that I got in touch with the BBC to tell something about the reactions I got about this shocking news. I also told the reporters something about refereeing and incidents in Dutch football, a subject I wrote about before. There are 25 rough incidents each weekend during amateur matches in The Netherlands. That could be violence against players and referees.

You can listen to the interview on BBC Have Your Say. The topic was discussed from 28:11 in the audio file below.

Or have a right click / save target on this link to download the episode of BBC World – Have Your Say about the shocking news of the linesman who died after an attack on a football field.

Update Thusday December 6: The three suspects of the deadly attack on the linesman will remain in prison for at least the next fourteen days. That’s what a judge has decided today.

Update Friday December 7: A fourth person has been arrested as a suspect in the deadly attack of linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen. Read the full statement from the police (in Dutch). Police officers say there will maybe arrest more teenagers. Twenty policemen are working on this case now and they’ve questions dozens of witnesses.

Update Saturday December 8:
A Dutch newspaper placed yesterday a photo of the incident with linesman Nieuwenhuizen (on ground, no shoe) on their front page.

Update Saturday December 8: Please join the #RESPECTforRichard campaign in tribute to the slain Dutch referee. Please share. Details here

We would be pleased if you share this message on Twitter or on Facebook. Thanks for your support.

Update Sunday December 9: Many people joined the silent march in #RESPECTforRichard (picture)

Update January: A judge decided that four people (16, 16, 17 and 50 years old) need to keep longer in prison. One kid of 15 was send home, so now seven persons are still in jail.

Update January 3: Bolivian assistant referee attacked too (video).

Update January 14: The team of the killed linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen played Sunday for the first time after the incident. A player right before the match: “We are very happy to return to football, but we’re still standing somewhat confused on the field.”

Update 15 January: The three kids that were arrested from the beginning will appear in court on Monday 16th of January. Geert-Iem Roos, the lawyer of one of the kids, said last week that linesman Nieuwenhuizen “was looking for a confrontation” According to him some witnesses testified that the assistant referee provokingly said: “Hit me, just once is enough.” Roos received death threats after he told this on tv. The lawyer also talked about a forensic report which says that Nieuwenhuizen was kicked due to a kick on his head. Because the situation was very chaotic, he wants a reconstruction of it. The Dutch forensic authority doesn’t want to comment on the situation.

Update end of March: One of underaged suspects in the Nieuwenhuizen case has been released from prison. Another kid was released in December. Both are still a suspect. Five kids and one of their fathers is still in jail at the moment.

The suspects will have to go to court on Wednesday 29th of May. There were some pre-sessions and from now on the lawyers and the district attorney will start their plea.

Being an assistant referee is not that easy

“The assistant referees discussed some very difficult clips on offside and I came away thinking I’m glad I’m not an assistant referee!!”

Says Don Robertson, center referee at the Uefa u19 championship qualifiers.

I in action as assistant referee during last season's cup final between BVCB and Nieuwenhoorn u23.

I in action as assistant referee during last season’s cup final between BVCB and Nieuwenhoorn u23. Photo by Willem Fakkel /

Personally, I’m not often an assistant referee. In The Netherlands only professial matches and games in highest amateur leagues are with neutral assistants. All other refs have to do it with club assistants, provided by the home and away team.

The Dutch FA only appoints trio’s at promotion/relegation matches or cup finals. And that’s how I became an assistant referee for two matches. Before these games I checked the Laws of the Game: Law 6 – The Assistant Referee. That gives more information about what to do in situations during the match, but I found out that doing it a lot more difficult than reading about it.

Concentrating on both the ball and the position of the attacker and defender – wow! It’s inhuman to make all the calls correctly. Or do you think it’s easy? Then you should try to make the correct decisions in a video by Germen sports program Sportschau by clicking on the image below.

Screenshot of Sportschau test for assistant referees. Click the image to start.

Screenshot of Sportschau test for assistant referees. Click the image to start.

It’s not that easy, right? How did you perform as assistant referee?

Blaming the assistant referee is not always right

Football players are stars in blaming the assistant and center referee for their own mistakes. This video below is a perfect example.

In the Polish top league match between Zagłębie Lubin – Legia Warsaw a corner kick needs to be taken. However, the player doesn’t take a good look at the assistant referee and kicks him first, before touching the ball.

Because he’s neutral, the ball is considered to be taken by referee Daniel Stefanski. He let the play continue. An opponent nearby sees it and captures the ball and walks away with it.

The video below shows bad passes in the beginning followed by the stupid corner kick. Looks pretty odd.

Which of you does know the official guideluines for assistant referee’s positioning at a corner kick?