Questions and Answers to the Laws of the Game

UPDATED November 9, 2013 8:30 AM 


Question #45: A Yelling Coach

If a youth coach is yelling at their players constantly during a game is a referee allowed  to show the coach a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct for the good of the game and children?


Answer #45:

A coach may only be shown a yellow card if the rules of competition require it, so only if allowed can the card be shown.

Unsporting Behavior can mean many things, in this case, specifically, does the coach “commit an act which, in the opinion of the referee, shows a lack of respect for the game (e.g., aggressive attitude, inflammatory behavior or taunting)

If you deem this is in fact the case you should ASK the coach to stop the “yelling” and if it continues you can caution (and maybe show a yellow card) the coach ofr unsporting behavior.


Question #44:  Deliberate Handling by “Goalkeeper”

There was a question on the last referee exam as follows: The goal keeper and field player exchange positions and jerseys during play without a stoppage of time. A shot is then stopped and saved by the player with the goal keeper jersery on. Is this considered a hand ball in the box? I know this a cautionable offense since the change was not made during a stoppage of time and the referee was not notified and both player should be issued a yellow card.


Answer Question #44:

Law 3 tells us a team must have a goalkeeper.  In your situation, where the goalkeeper and a “field” player exchange positions without notifying  the referee,  the new goalkeeper is the goalkeeper.  While an infringement of the Laws has occurred, that new goalkeeper is considered to be the goalkeeper for that team and thus has all the privileges of a goalkeeper.

When you state “handball in the box” I infer that you mean the foul of “deliberately handling the ball” for which a direct free kick or if in the penalty area, a penalty kick is awarded.  Note that a penalty kick can never be awarded when the goalkeeper  handles the ball within the penalty area.


Question #43: “Pass back” to the keeper

There is a rolling ball in the penalty area. A defender chases it down from behind and stops its movement by stepping on it with the sole of his/her shoe. The keeper who is following closely behind now is able to pick up the ball. Since the ball is deliberately played with the foot and the keeper uses their hands, should this be considered a pass back violation even though a noticeable 'kick' is absent?
My thinking is to award the indirect kick for the pass back violation, but a little clarification of this rule would be helpful.


Answer #43:

The advice to Referees 12.20 tells us that…A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he or she touches the ball with the hands directly after it has been deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate.  The requirement that the ball be kicked means only that it has been played with the foot.

Thus in the situation you describe, the teammate of the kicker deliberately played the ball with the foot, you are correct in deciding this is an infringement of Law 12, play should be stopped and an indirect free kick awarded.


Question #42: Law 13 - indirect kick
The ref called a pass back to our keeper and awarded an indirect kick on our 6 yard line. My team lined up on the goal line for the kick. The opposing team had one girl run over the ball and tapped the top of the ball (the ball did not move) and a second girl shot the ball on net. The ball deflected off a couple players and eventually went into the back of the net. A goal was awarded. After the game I asked the ref about the first touch on the ball not moving and not having a kicking motion. His interpretation was that if the ball did not move when it was tapped, it is not considered the first touch. The first touch was the 2nd player shooting on goal and the 2nd touch was the deflection off my player.

Is this correct?
If not, and the ref blows whistle for Law 13 infraction, what is the restart?


Answer #42:

At the taking of a free kick, the ball must be “kicked and moved” to be put in play.  Simply tapping the top of the ball with the foot or stepping on the ball is not sufficient to put the ball into play.

Tapping the ball or stepping on the ball is not an infringement of the Laws, so the referee has no reason to “blow the whistle” for such an action by a player.

In the situation you described, it appears the referee made the correct decisions….the “tap” did not put the ball into play, the kick by the second player did put the ball into play, the ball touched a second player and then entered the goal.  Thus a goal was awarded.

Question #41: Goalkeeper Movement at a Penalty Kick
I was working a scrimmage the other day and called for a Penalty Kick. The Goalie was set on the Goal Line and as the kicker was about to strike the ball, he moved across the line about 2-3 feet towards the center of the goal.
I called for a rekick, as I determined the goalie infringed on the Penalty Kick rule.
After the game both Coaches, who are Goalie trainers said they thought I got the call wrong, as the goalie can move from side to side as long as they do not come forward off the Goal Line.
As I have tried to research this, there does not seem to be any real feedback on side to side movement.
Can you please clarify this situation, so I am more clear in the future.
Answer #41:
The Advice to Referees 14.4 Goalkeeper Movement is very clear: “Once the referee whistles for the penalty kick, the goalkeeper may move from side to side on the goal line , but may not move off the goal line (into the field or backward) until the ball has been kicked”
Question #40: Follow Up to Question #36
Follow up to Question #36
In the same scenario suppose the attacker misses. i.e he took the ball and dribbled all the way from mid-field to the goal but misses. Since more than a few seconds are likely to have elapsed since the "advantage" it seems it would be inappropriate to call it back for the free kick at midfield. But would this now be considered DOGSOH and a red card issued at the next stoppage or does the longer time after the advantage call mean only a yellow is appropriate?

Answer #40:
DOGSO = Denying Obvious Goal Scoring OPPORTUNITY. It is not denying a GOAL, just the opportunity to score that goal.
Thus the advantage is for the attacking player to have control of the ball and an opportunity to score a goal.
Regardless, the situation depicted in Question #36 does not meet the criteria for DOGSO.
Question #39: Offside??
Foul occurred close to the line of penalty area. A direct free kick is giving to the attacking team.
- The attacking team asked for 10 yards.
- Goal keeper organized the wall and he stands on the center of the goal
- Player C (attacking team) is behind the wall giving his back to Goal keeper just outside the goal area. Between the goalie and the left post.
- Ref whistle to execute the play
- Player A (attacking team) pass the ball to player B, who is about 8 yards away on the right of the penalty area.
- Player B (attacking team) kick the ball into the net on the left side of the goal.
- Player C (attacking team) he did not move or touch the ball
- The goal is allowed
- The Goal keeper had a clear vision of the ball and free movement
Is the ref correct or in error to allowed the goal?

Answer #39:
There is a ceremonial free kick, Player C of the kicking team deliberately puts himself in an offside position as part of this ceremonial kick.
This situation is similar to what occurred in a Red Bulls and DC United game where two players placed themselves in an offside position at the taking of a ceremonial free kick. The ball was kicked and entered the goal without either of the “offside” players interfering with play or touching the ball. A position paper was issued from the USSF (April 5, 2006) which states, in part:
….nor had the players in question placed themselves in these positions as a result of dynamic play. It was a ceremonial restart and the positions of these players were deliberately chosen..
In other words, in your situation just like the Red Bull game, the player deliberately chose to be in the offside position as part of the ceremonial kick and thus infringed Law 11. The goal should not be allowed.
This question is also part of the current Recertification exam:
Players A and B are standing near the top of the goal area in an offside position while a free kick is taken by their teammate, player C. Players A and B do not move and the free kick results in a goal.


Question #38: Offside??
A direct kick is awarded to team A at 20 yards from the goal. Team B’s wall sets up 10 yards away and team A1 player lines up with the wall in an onside position. Referee signals and team A’s kicker quickly advances to the ball as Team B’s wall simultaneously moves forward encroaching by several yards. A solid strike of the ball is taken and deflects off player A1 who has not moved at all and goes into the goal. The question is should the goal be allowed even though player A1 was now put in an offside position due to the encroachment by the wall. Should this be viewed with the same thinking that you cannot put someone offside by stepping off the field. Taking the goal away by going back and whistling the encroachment would seem to me to be rewarding offending Team B.
Answer #38:
The defending team violated Law12 and encroached. The interpretation from the USSF is that no the goal should not be allowed as the player, A1, was offside. The referee should order the kick retaken due to the encroachment of the defending team and issue a caution.
The situation where a defender steps off the field to put an opponent in an offside position is specific instance written into the LOTG and does not apply here.
Question #37: Interfering with the Goalkeeper
After a save, while the keeper was attempting to punt, the striker from the opposing team intentionally moved in from of the keeper to prevent the punt and came in contact with the keeper.
What is the call?

Answer #37:
Law 12 tells us that “An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if, in the opinion of the referee, a player: prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands

As per the ATR 12.28.1, the player committing the offense should be cautioned
Question #36: Advantage and DOGSO
In a higher level U-15 Match, the final defender standing at midfield jumped up and caught, with his hands, a ball that would have gone over his head to a player making a run and would have been 1 on 1 with the goalie. After catching the ball, he placed it down on the midfield line indicating the location of the direct free kick. A player on the attacking team, hearing no whistle, gathered possession of the ball dribbled in and scored while the defending team stood by waiting for the referee to call the handling.

The referee counted the goal and provided a Red Card to the player who caught the ball at midfield for DOGSO. According to DOGSO, the Distance to Goal is questionable, but the player being passed to would have been in 1 on 1.

Did the referee act appropriately? Is the handling at midfield actually denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity or just an apparent goal scoring opportunity? Is the correct call a caution or send off?
Answer #36:
The defender deliberately handled the ball (caught it) and placed it on the ground. It appears the referee did not whistle/call this foul and allowed “advantage” to the attacking team. The referee should have used proper mechanics to signal for advantage, regardless he did not whistle for the foul. The advantage was realized when the attacking team controlled the ball and scored a goal.
So now what to do with the defender that committed the foul? It is difficult, if not impossible, to argue for a DOGSO offense….the distance to the goal was large (foul occurred at midfield), no absolute certainty the attacking player would have gotten the ball nor would he not have been intercepted by a defender chasing him down etc. Even if the referee decided it was DOGSO, he applied advantage and the team scored a goal. Thus it is not at all possible to send off (red card) the defender who handled the ball as the goal scoring opportunity was not denied. The attacking team not only realized the opportunity but scored a goal!
The defender certainly committed a tactical foul and the LOTG tell us this is a cautionable offense.

Did the referee make the correct decision?  No, the player could not have been sent off as the opportunity was not denied.
The LOTG and Advice to Referees reference a “denying a goal scoring opportunity, “DOGSO”. There is no such thing as an “apparent goal scoring opportunity”.
Question #35: Quick Free Kicks
Is it allowed to do a quick restart without the 10 yd distance requirement?
A team in maps believes that they can quick restart without the 10 yd distance requirement when the team isn’t noticing
Answer #35:
Yes, teams are allowed to take a “quick free kick” when opponents are less than 10 yards from the ball. We have covered this topic in recent recertifications. Also the Advice to Referees, sections 13.3 and 13.4 discuss this.
The USSF Position Paper Free Kicks and Restart Management is posted as a link on the NJSRC website at
Question #34: Signal for Kicks From The Mark
Question regarding kicks from the mark to determine a winner of a match. If a player, who is the third kicker of the five, kicks the ball forward and the goalkeeper makes the save but the referee did not blow the whistle should the kick be retaken? During this situation the kicker and the goalkeeper were ready for the kick.

Answer #34:
If the kick is taken before the referee signals, regardless of the outcome of the kick, the kick must be retaken.
Question #33: No Pass No Play?
A PAGS match was played between a team from Pennsylvania and a team from NJ. The PA team tried to play a girl who had no pass. The coach insisted that passes are never checked when they play in PA, and the girl should be allowed to participate in the match.
The referee followed the "No Pass - No Play - No Exceptions" mantra taught in every recertification class.
A representative from PA is arguing that because this was a PA based league, the teams should not be held to "local policies".
Is requiring a pass to play a NJ only policy, or does it stem from higher?
(This league is affiliated through EPYSA and USYSA)
Answer #33:
Again, the referees must know the rules of Competition. The referee’s assignor should provide these rules with the assignment.
The answer to your question is not found in the LOTG but in the Rules for PAGS. 
We are unaware of any USYSA competition that would allow a player to participate without a valid player pass and while we are not an authority on PAGS rules, the following excerpt from the PAGS 2012-2013 Playing Rules seems to make it clear a pass is required:
The coach of each teams must submit a coach’s pass for all coaches who are present at the field, player passes for all players who are on the game lineup form, and three copies of the lineup form, which must contain each player’s name and uniform number……Each coach shall have the official approved team roster form and player passes at the field for all games.
Question #32: Referee Error
If a Law is misapplied early on in the game, for example a Competition Specific Substitution "rule", but the referee is later informed at the halftime interval that the "rule" has been incorrectly applied, should the referee then correctly apply the "rule" in the second half with this knowledge, just as you would if a referee were to use an incorrect half length (ATR 7.3), or continue applying the "rule" incorrectly for the remainder of the game and note the error on a game report?

Answer #32:
Your question emphasizes that referees must know the Rules of Competition before the game. That said, if the referee realizes he is incorrectly applying a competition rule, the referee should make the correction and note the error in the game report. The referee should not continue to misapply the rules
Question #31: Stopping the Clock
For a U-15 game, is the clock stopped during substitutions and stoppage time added? If not, is there any situation where this would be done?
Answer #31:
The clock is never stopped. However, stoppage time is added, the amount of which is at the discretion of the referee. The main objective for the referee is to restore playing time to the match which is lost to excessively prolonged or unusual stoppages.
Question #30: Offside and Gaining an Advantage
Gain Advantage Offside Question:
Defender on his half of the field kicks a ball forward and it deflects off the back of attacker A to attacker B who is in an offside position.
Same situation however the ball deflects off the back of a defender to an attacker who is in an offside position.
Is it relevant if the ball deflected off an attacker or a defender. Is the deflection off attacker A considered "touched or played?"
Answer #30:
A player infringes Law 11 if the player is in an offside position when the ball is “touched, played, made contact with” a teammate and the player gains an advantage or interferes with play or an opponent.
In the first situation, Attacker B is in an offside position when the ball is touched/made contact with his teammate Attacker A. Assuming B then gains and advantage or interferes with play/opponent then he would have infringed Law 11.
In the second situation, the ball is never “played, touched, made contact with” a teammate of Attacker B so he cannot be guilty of infringing Law 11.
Question #29: Playing in a Dangerous Manner
During regular play, the keeper dove outside the 18 and wrapped his body around the ball on the ground. He never placed his hands on the ball, but used his body on the ground, to prevent the attacking player from getting to the ball. He moved his body around the ball to continually prevent the attacker from gaining possession and when he moved the ball moved.

No call was made and the goalie was able to get up and kick the ball.

Answer #29:
The scenario you depict suggest that the goalkeeper was playing in a dangerous manner. Placing oneself on the ground and using the body to prevent an opponent from playing the ball is playing in a dangerous manner. The opponent cannot fairly play the ball without risking injury to the opponent who is on the ground covering the ball with his body.
The ATR 12.13 Playing in a Dangerous Manner states the action must meet three criteria:   the action must be dangerous to someone (in this case the goalkeeper), it was committed with an opponent close by and the dangerous nature of the action caused the opponent to cease active play for the ball (which it did in your case)
Question #28: “Pass back” to the Goalkeeper
I know a player cannot kick the ball back to his goalkeeper with their foot. However can they kick it back to their keeper with their thigh, knee or shin legally? I have gotten conflicting answers from many referees and wanted to know the real answer if it happens in a game.
Answer #28:
The ATR 12.20 Ball Kicked to Keeper answers your question.    A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he or she touches the ball with the hands directly after it has been kicked to him or her by a teammate. The requirement that the ball be kicked means only that it has been played with the foot. “Deliberately kicked” means the play on the ball is deliberate and does not include situations in which, in the opinion of the referee, accidentally deflected or miskicked.
The offense is if the goalkeeper handles a ball that has been ball “deliberately kicked”….with the FOOT….to the goalkeeper”
Question #27:  Understanding Law 11
If player "A" dribbles the ball to the goal line having passed the second to last defender near the intersection of the goal line and penalty line and turns to the opposite side of the ball and passes it back to player "B" coming from following position behind the play is player "A" considered to have violated Law 11 by gaining and advantage from being in an offside position when making the pass back to player "B"?
Answer #27:
Law 11 tells us that a player is only infringing Law 11 if the player is in an offside position when the ball touches or is played by a teammate and is involved in active play by interfering with play an opponent or gaining an advantage by being in that position.
In your situation the player did not get the ball from a teammate, he himself is playing the ball.
Question #26: Player with Insulin Pump
A U-13 diabetic female player has an insulin pump attached to her stomach or upper leg to control her blood sugar during play. Can she play with this pump attached to her body if it is taped down or covered with pre-wrap?
Answer #26:
Yes the play can play and should be permitted to play with an insulin pump.   The device is considered safe
Question #25: League Officer as Referee, Conflict of Interest?
Is it a conflict of interest and/or appropriate and /or allowed for the Vice President on the Board of Directors for a soccer league to referee a game for the league in which he is Vice President ?
Yes, that vice president may officiate in that league’s games.
The Referee Administrative Handbook tells us:
An active referee may serve on the administrative committees or board of a league or state association including being the chief officer and may referee in the league or state association while also being a member, but the referees…..should not referee in any match where there is a vested interest.
“Vested interest” is defined as when the referee or member of the referee’s family (spouse, child, parent) or that person’s team may be affected by the outcome of the match.
Question #24:
During the taking of Kicks from the Penalty Mark to determine the winner of a match, if a goalkeeper is injured during the taking of the kicks he/she may be replaced by a named substitute. If the injured goalkeeper who has been replaced had already taken a KFTPM, and subsequently the KFTPMs go beyond 11 kicks per team, must the replacement goalkeeper take a kick prior to a teammate taking a second kick? This scenario would have the team with the replacement goalkeeper using 12 different kickers, whereas the opposing team would begin to kick a second time.
Answer #24:
The goalkeeper MAY be replaced but remember to abide by the rules of competition for that match. If substitution is limited and the team has used all its substitutions then the goalkeeper may not be substituted.
If the substitution is allowed then the USSF Position Paper entitled “Kicks from the Penalty Mark Checklist” answers this question as it states:
If the goalkeeper had kicked before being replaced, the goalkeeper’s substitute from off the field is considered also to have kicked
Question #23: Overhanging Tree Branches and Multi-Purpose Goals
At a local soccer field, an old oak tree has branches that overhang the field. On occasion, the ball will hit one of the branches. What is the correct restart? At this same field, the soccer goals are multi-sport use and they also have combination football goalposts. What is the correct restart when the ball strikes the football goalpost section of the structure?
Answer #23:
The answer to your questions can be found in the Advice to Referees 1.7 Superstructures on Goals and 1.8 Dealing with Appurtenances to the Field and Outside Agents. It is not uncommon on public fields for soccer goals to include structures attached to and above the crossbar. If the ball strikes any part of such a structure, apart from or in addition to striking a goal post or crossbar, the ball is considered to have left the field even if, as a result of the contact, the ball remains on the field.
Pre-existing conditions: these are things on or above the field which are not described in Law 1 but are deemed safe and not generally subject to movement….these include trees overhanging the field. They do not affect one team more adversely than the other and are considered to be part of the field. If the ball leaves the field after contact with any item considered under the local ground rules of the field to be a pre-existing condition, the restart is in accordance with the Law, based on which team played the ball last.
If the ball makes contact with the tree limbs, the ball remains in play as long as it has not left the field.
Question #22: Penalty Kick in Stoppage Time or Extended Time
The game was in its final second, we were winning 1-0 and the ref awarded a PK to the other team. The kick was taken; our keeper made the save, but did not control the ball. The opposition scored on the rebound and the ref blew the whistle ending the game immediately after the ball entered the goal.
The question is, if time was out, shouldn’t all players be off the field except the keeper and the player taking the PK? Should the game end with the initial save of the keeper?
Answer #22:
Your question deals with when the penalty kick was taken. You indicate that the foul occurred in the final second of the game after which there would be “stoppage time”, that is time added for stoppages that occur during regulation time. Only the referee can determine how much stoppage time to add. A penalty kick taken in stoppage time is performed just like a penalty kick taken in regulation time.
If taken in “extended time”, the Advice to Referees, 14.8, tells us the proper procedures. If full time, including stoppage time had expired the referee should announce that fact and clearly indicate that the penalty kick is being taken in “extended time”.   If that is the case then no other players than the kicker and goalkeeper may participate in the kick. The remaining players are required to stay on the field until the kick is completed.
In your game it would appear that the kick was taken in “stoppage time” and therefore the procedures followed by the referee were correct.
Question #21: Referee Position at the Kick-off
Where is the recommended position for the CR to stand on a kickoff?
Answer #21:
The Guide to Procedures” suggests the referee stand in the kicking team’s half of the field, behind and to the left of the ball and just outside the center circle.
Question #20: DOGSO and Advantage
I was watching an Academy game at a field nearby when I saw this scenario. Black #10 was on a breakaway. He dribbled around White #2 and the defender committed a professional foul. This was an obvious red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity. While the defender was on the ground from tackling Black #10, Black #5 ran onto the ball and was clear on goal. The referee stopped the play and gave a red card which was the correct decision, at least on that part of the play. In my opinion the ref should have allowed the play to continue because Black had an advantage. I understand the foul was a clear red card, but should he have stopped the play? I can imagine if the foul was deemed for a yellow, I would have let the play go on and then card the player as soon as the play is over, but is it appropriate to do the same for a red?
Answer #20:
The Advice to Referees 12.39 Applying Advantage answers this question. If a player is fouled and as a result denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity (DOGSO-F), the referee may apply advantage. If advantage is applied it is advisable to stop play as soon as possible once it becomes clear that the offended team has not been able to benefit from the advantage. We were not at the game and did not see what the referee saw. You saw black #5 who was “clear on goal”. We cannot state if the referee’s decision was correct or not but if the referee stopped play we can only assume that the black team did not benefit from the advantage.
Since the referee did stop play, the player who committed the foul is correctly sent off (red card) for DOGSO-F.
Remember that if advantage is applied and the team does benefit from the advantage, the player who committed the foul is now cautioned and not sent off because the player did not deny an obvious goal scoring opportunity.
When considering the application of advantage in a DOGSO situation, the referee must use discretion in making the decision, based on experience, game circumstances and common sense.
Question #19: Defender Interferes During a Penalty Kick
I had a PK that was being taken by the home team. As the player was about to kick the ball a defender yelled out loud. The ball was pushed wide by the keeper. At that point I blew the whistle and issue a yellow card to the player who yelled and awarded an IDFK for obstruction. Was this the correct call? I have asked other refs and have gotten many different answers over a few days’ time. Keeping in mind I had 4-5 seconds to make my decision.
Answer #19:
Violations of Law 14 occur in the time between when the referee whistles for the kick to be taken and when the ball is properly put into play. Once the referee signals for the kick to be taken, the kick is allowed to proceed (exception for violent conduct). If misconduct occurs, the outcome of the kick decides the restart.
In your situation, if in the opinion of the referee, the hollering of the defender distracted the kicker then the defender infringed Law 14. Since the defending team infringed and the ball did not enter the goal, the kick is retaken. The defender that hollered is cautioned for unsporting behavior.
There is no obstruction (impeding). The hollering defender did not “move on the field so as to obstruct, interfere with or block the path of an opponent”
Question #18: Removing Player Instead of Giving a Caution
Does the referee have the authority within the laws of the game to tell a coach to remove a player from the field before the referee gives that player a second yellow card? In this situation the first yellow was for persistent infringement of the laws of the game the second yellow was either going to be for persistent infringement again or dissent. If a player has earned a second yellow should the referee give it or tell the coach to remove the player. This situation was in a u14 girls premier game.
Answer #18:
No. If the player has committed an act for which the referee deems the player should be cautioned, the referee may not remove the player rather than giving the caution. It is the duty of the referee to enforce the LOTG and cannot make up his/her own rules.
Question # 17: Color of Ankle Brace
Question regarding the uniform and an ankle brace - The law states any tape applied to the socks must be the same color as the area of the sock the tape is applied. In regard to an ankle brace does the ankle brace have to be the same color as the sock or covered by the sock?  Does the law apply to an ankle brace or knee brace?
Answer #17:
The recent memoranda only deals with tape applied to socks. There is nothing in the Laws of the Game that specify the color of an ankle brace nor that it has to match the color of the sock. There is no requirement that the ankle brace be worn under the sock. There are also no such restrictions for knee braces.


Question #16: Correct Restart after Issuing a Caution
While ball is still in play, a referee stops play to caution Red player for dissent or unsporting behavior, Is the correct restart an indirect free kick for team Blue? Many conflicting advice has been that the proper restart is a dropped ball since the ball was still in play. Please advise.
Answer #16:
Law 12 states “An indirect free kick is also awarded to the opposing team, if in the opinion of the referee, a player:
commits any other offense, not previously mentioned in Law 12, for which play is stopped to caution or send off a player.
Question #15: Advantage and Retaliation Foul
 As two players battle closely for the ball the defender fouls the offensive player, the ref deciding that the foul did not cause a loss of possession judges it is a "play-on" situation. Almost immediately the offensive player fouls the defender in a similar, but slightly stronger manner. The ref determines that the second foul was a direct result of the first foul. Neither foul was a yellow or red card, but rather was a situation needing a whistle to control the tone and sprit of the game.

Is the ref correct to give the ball to the offensive player -- the one who was fouled first, but slightly less aggressively -- reasoning that he was waiting for an advantage possibility that in his judgment did not develop?

In short, the ref sees both the original foul and the retaliation. Is he correct in changing a "play on" judgment to a "foul" judgment and award the ball to the slightly less aggressive, but original infraction.
Answer #15:
The answer to your question is found in LOTG, Law 5 and the Advice to Referees 5.6 Advantage. A player was fouled. In the opinion of the referee, to call that foul would have penalized the team (player) fouled and rewarded the team that committed the foul, so the referee applied “advantage”. However, the player who was fouled decided to use the advantage opportunity not to continue playing but rather to retaliate by committing a foul himself..
The referee should stop play and award a free kick to the “defender” who was the recipient of the retaliation foul.
You are clear that neither foul was reckless, so no misconduct. That one foul may have been “stronger” is not relevant.
ATR 5.6 tells us “Referees must understand that advantage is not an absolute right. It must be balanced against other issues. The giving of advantage is not required in all situations to which it might be applied. The referee may stop play despite the advantage if other factors (e.g. game control, severity of the foul, misconduct, possibility of player retaliation) outweigh the benefits of play continuing.”
In this instance, the referee might have been better to have recognized the possibility of the retaliation and stopped play for the original foul.
Question #14: Dangerous Play
Can a dangerous play foul be called on teammates? For example a high kick occurs from a player accidentally kicking his teammate in the groin who is jumping to head the ball. There is not an opposing player within 8 yards of the play.
Answer #14:
The LOTG (Law 12) and ATR (12.13) answer this question: Playing in a dangerous manner can be called only if the act , in the opinion of the referee, meets three criteria:
1.The action must be dangerous to someone (including the player committing the act)
2.It was committed with an opponent close by
3.The dangerous nature of the action caused this opponent to cease active play for the ball or otherwise be disadvantaged by the attempt not to participate in the dangerous play
So in your scenario, dangerous play could not be called as there was no opponent nearby
Question #13: Leaving the Field During Normal Course of Play
In a U16 Premier league game, player A takes a shot from about the corner of the 6 yard box.
The keeper deflects the shot at a weird angle back in the direction of player A whose momentum has taken him out-of-bounds over the touch line. Player A comes from out-of-bounds and pushes the ball back toward the 18.
What is the ruling, if any, on the play?
Answer #13:
The Advice to Referees, Section 3.9 Leaving the Field in the Course of Play answers your question. Player A left the field during the normal course of play, his momentum carried him over the goal line. He then returns to the field to continue playing. There is no infringement.
Question #12: Goalkeeper Possession
Can a goal keeper bounce the ball in the penalty area as long has he waits for the six seconds than release it into play?   Question#2 can the keeper dribble the ball into the penalty area , dribble out of the area than dribble back into the area then pick the ball up to boot it out after receiving the ball from an opponent
Answer #12:
Section 12.18 of the Advice to Referees tells us the goalkeeper has 6 seconds to release the ball into lay.  During that time the goalkeeper may bounce the ball, throw it in the air and catch it or simple stand while holding the ball.
Your question #2, yes, upon receiving the ball from an opponent’s pass the goalkeeper may dribble the ball anywhere on the field, in and out of the penalty area if he desires to do so.  Within the penalty area the goalkeeper may then handle (pick up) the ball.  There is nothing in the Laws that would prohibit this action.
Question #11: The "Passback" Rule
if a defender kicks the ball back to his goalie and the goalie kicks it up in the air it goes backwards heading into the net he saves it from going into the net with his hands just before the goal line what is the call? direct? indirect? pk? where is the ball placed if not pk?
Answer #11:
The Advice to Referees 12.19 and 12.20 can assist in answering this question.  A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he or she touches the ball with the hands directly after it has been deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate.  In the case above the teammate deliberately kicks the ball to the goalkeeper.  The goalkeeper apparently attempts to clear the ball but miskicks and the ball is now going towards the net.  Since the ball was deliberately kicked to the keeper he may not touch it with his hands and when he did so, he  violated Law 12.  The restart is an indirect free kick from the spot where the goalkeeper handled the ball (exception if it was in the goal area then the ball is brought out to the goal area line).  Consider a teammate who passes the ball back to a place where the goalkeeper can get the ball, the pass places the ball just outside the penalty area.  In this case, the goalkeeper may not leave the penalty area, dribble the ball back into the penalty area and then handle the ball.
Had the ball entered the goal, advantage would have been applied and a goal awarded.
Also note that if a goalkeeper handles the ball within his penalty area and in doing so commits ANY infringement, the restart can NEVER be a penalty kick.
Question #10: Offside
If a player is offside then a teammate passes the ball to the player that is offside and the offside player comes back to receive the ball in his/her own half. Should the player be penalized with offside?
Answer #10:
Yes this player has infringed Law 11.  A player may not come from an offside position to gain possession of the ball.
Question #9: Send Off During Half Time
In a u18 boys game I sent off a player after the first half was over. He used foul language directed at my AR as he was going towards his bench. I made them play short the second half. The coach and my AR said that they shouldn’t play short but I think I was in the right. Was I?
Answer #9:
Unless the rules of competition state differently, you were correct.  At the end of the first half the person who directed foul language towards your AR was a player.  Since a team’s player was sent off, the team must play short.  A "player" remains a "player" during the half time interval.
Question #8: Location of Restart in Goal Area
An attacking player commits a foul against an opponent inside the opponent’s 6 yard line. The referee calls the foul. Can the restart be anywhere inside the 6 yard line (like a goal kick) or does it have to come out to a spot at the 6 yard line perpendicular to the location of the foul?
Answer #8:
Law 13 tells us that for Direct or Indirect free kick given to the defending team within its own goal area, the kick may be taken from any point within the goal area.
Question #7: Offside
What part of the body must be past the last defender in order for the player to be ruled offside?
Answer #7:
A player is considered to be in an offside position if, when in the opponents half of the field, any part of the body that can legally play the ball is nearer the opponents goal line than both the ball and the second to last defender.
Question #6: Offside
Is there offside on a goalkick?
Answer #6:
A player may not be penalized for infringing Law 11 (offside) if they receive the ball directly from a goal kick, corner kick or throw-in
Question #5: Disloged Goal
Team "A" is awarded a corner kick. The player for team "A" puts the ball in play. After the ball is struck, but before it reaches the goal, another player from team "A" (while attacking the goal) hits the goal post and moves the corner of the goal back one foot. The ball would have struck the cross bar of the goal, but instead lands on the ground and crosses the goal line. A goal is awarded for team "A"..
What should the call have been?
Answer #5:
Law 1 tells us that if the crossbar becomes dislodged or broken, play is stopped until it is repaired or replaced in position.  If play was stopped for this, play is restarted with a dropped ball from where the ball was when play was stopped
Question #4: Send Off During Substitution
During the process of the substitution procedure, red number 12 was leaving the field, prior to leaving the field he punches blue number 9. Since red number 12 has received a red card for striking, I would not allow a substitution for him. The coach of the red team kept complaining, "that I was wrong should have allowed the substitution."
Answer #4:
Correct substitution procedures require that the player being substituted leave the field before the substitute can enter. The substitute becomes a player and the player becomes a substituted player when the substitute enters the field of play.
In the scenario you describe, if the substitute had not entered the field then red number 12 was still a player. He would be sent off and the team required to play short. If the substitute had entered the field then red number 12 would be a substituted player and the team would not play short.
Your question is an example of why proper substitution procedures should be followed ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Question #3: Foul Language by Coach Directed to Team
Does the referee or AR have any responsibility for a coach’s behavior towards his own players in the technical area. Specifically, verbal abuse that includes foul language.
Answer #3:
The ATR 12.31 Evaluating Language.  This tells us that when “foul or abusive” language is used the referee should think about if it is Personal,  Public, Provocative and whether the language is directed at officials, opponents or teammates.  We must also think about the level of play, is this a youth game or an adult amateur match, clearly the standards will be different.
I assume you are referencing a youth game.  Should a “coach” or “team official” direct verbal abuse or foul language towards players, this action is clearly unacceptable.  It is personally directed at the player and perhaps can be overheard by others (public). 
However we  have to be careful to understand the difference between a coach having an emotional outburst which may include a swear word vs. a coach clearly directing foul and abusive language towards a youth player.  This is a judgment call by the referee or assistant referee
If the AR deems the language to be  foul and abusive and directed at players then the coach should be dismissed from the match.  Upon hearing such language the AR should signal to the referee and after consultation the referee should dismiss the coach.  This should be addressed during your pre-game discussions.
Question #2:  Dealing with a Head Injury
During the first half of a U18B game a goalkeeper made a save while punching the ball away.  Unfortunately he also punched his teammate in the head and knocked him unconscious.  The injured player was removed from the field.  Later in the second half the coach wanted to put the injured player back into the game.
With all the emphasis on concussions I think that the player should not have been put back in the game.  Can I as the referee tell the coach he cannot put the player back in the game because the player had suffered a "serious" head injury?
Answer #2:
There is nothing in the LOTG, ATR or any Directive or Position papers that would give the referee the power to deny the player entry to the game based on the incident you described.  So as the referee you must allow the player to enter (following proper substitution rules for that competition).  However, once on the field of play, if you the referee deems the player to be injured you can have that player removed (again).
Very importantly, the referee MUST include full details of this in the game report.  It is a serious injury (a head injury) and the coach wanted the player to return to play after being knocked unconscious in the first half.
Question #1: The "Passback" rule
This question is about the pass back rule, and led to some dissent from a coach in my game last weekend. In a U12 girls game, a ball was kicked by Red into Blue’s 18. A Blue defender came charging at the ball and kicked at it with all her might. Unfortunately for her, instead of sending the ball upfield, she shanked it and sent it towards the center of the 18. The Blue goalie ran over to the ball and picked it up, right about the penalty spot.
I called her for a pass back violation and gave an indirect free kick to Red.
The coach went nuts, screaming that it wasn’t a foul because the defender didn’t kick to the goalie on purpose. I explained to him that since the act of kicking the ball was done on purpose, the play met the three criteria of Deliberate, Kick, and Use of Hands by the Keeper. The coach did not accept my explanation, and I have been thinking about the call since.
Was I correct?
Answer #1: 
The Advice to Referees 12.20 tells us that: "A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he or she touches the ball with the hands directly after it has been deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate." In the game situation you described the teammate "shanked it", so she did not "deliberately" kick the ball "to the goalkeeper", so when the goalkeeper touched the ball with her hands she did NOT infringe Law 12.