Goal Safety

Advice to SYSA Referees

Updated: March 21, 2008

Dear SYSA Referees,

Here is information to guide you regarding goal safety. Because you, the referee, are responsible for player safety, it is very important that you read this message and follow its guidance.

In the Spring 2007, following a tragic goal-related accident, the State Referee Administrator (“SRA”) announced a zero tolerance policy regarding goal safety. This means that if, in your opinion the goal is not properly secured to the ground, you are required to delay the start of the game until the goal is made safe.

Here is some advice for you to follow:

First, arrive at the field at least 15 minutes early so that you have time to inspect the goal (as well as the lines, the corner flags, etc. as you have already been taught to do.) This Spring 2008 season, sandbags are being used to weigh down the rear of the goals to prevent tip overs. Check the rear base of the goal to make sure the sandbag is present and properly positioned.

If there are problems with the field or the goal, alert the home team coach at once. If there is a goal problem, tell the coaches that you will not start the game until the goal is properly secured. The coaches should already know that there are extra sandbags in the equipment boxes on the field. If not, remind them.

You may start the game up to 15 minutes late if the coach is actively attempting to secure the goal. For example, if kickoff is 9:00 AM, you may wait until 9:15 AM for the goal to be made safe.

If after this 15 minute grace period, the goal is still not properly secured down to your satisfaction, then you must cancel the game. Under no circumstances are you to allow the game to start. If coaches complain, tell them it is a “state-wide zero tolerance policy”. (You can also print out this email and take it with you to show the coaches if necessary.)

If you have to cancel a game, tell the coaches that their teams are not allowed to remain on the field and scrimmage. All referees are to leave the field at once. Contact one of the individuals whose emails are listed at the bottom of the SYSA Referee Corner home page. You will be paid in full for this game, but be sure to send an email explaining that you had to cancel the game because of goal safety, along with a description of the problem and how you tried to resolve it with the home coach.

SYSA is working hard to make sure that the goals are secured down and that there are supplies in the equipment boxes. Because of these efforts, we have every reason to believe that you will find all the goals safe when you arrive, and the games will start on time.

If you have any questions about this guidance, please be sure to contact the SYSA Referee Assignor, Mentor or Coordinator. You’ll find their contact emails at the bottom of the Referee Corner home page.

Below is the Spring 2007 message from the State Referee Administrator:



By now most of you have read or seen the news about the tragic death of a 10 year old soccer player who was killed when a goal fell on him during a scrimmage earlier this week. Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to his family, to his teammates, and to the coaches and administrators of his team.

All of us must use this tragic event as a reminder that the safety of the players is our number one responsibility on the field. This includes ensuring that the field of play is safe. Law 1, ‘Field of Play,’ requires that goals be securely anchored to the ground. Law 5, ‘Referee,’ requires that referees inspect the field and ensure that it is safe. This includes ensuring that the goals are securely anchored.

As this tragic incident shows, goals can tip over and players can be injured and players can be killed. It is everyone’s responsibility to see that this never happens again in any soccer match played in Metro DC and Virginia.

Referees, you must inspect the goals before every match to ensure they are securely anchored. Do not let a game be played if they are not anchored. Don’t let players hang on the crossbar.

Instructors, no matter how many times you think you have said it, say it again, ‘Referees must ensure that the goals are anchored.’ We need to reinforce the tragic lessons learned from this event.

Assessors, if you ever witness a game where the goals are not anchored, do two things: get the match stopped until the goals are anchored and then fail the referee.

Assignors, please communicate with all your referees. Remind them that they must inspect the goals and ensure they are securely anchored.

This is a zero tolerance area. We need to work as one unit to make sure we do what is right. The safety of the players is paramount. All of us must do our part to ensure that such a tragic incident never happens again.

Please keep in your prayers the family of the young boy who was tragically killed.

Scott K. Meyer

State Referee Administrator