RECOGNIZE to RECOVER (R2R) is US Soccer’s comprehensive player health and safety campaign aimed at promoting safe play and reducing injuries in soccer players of all ages.

The program, which was developed with the help of medical experts, will provide players, parents, coaches and referees with information, guidance and educational materials to improve the prevention and management of injuries. Strong emphasis is being placed on reducing head injuries and addressing concussions through the R2R program.

Player Safety Campaign

R2R

Concussion Initiative Statement

“When a player deliberately heads the ball in a game, an Indirect Free Kick (IFK) should be awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the offense. If the deliberate header occurs within the goal area, the Indirect Free Kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred. If a player does not deliberately head the ball, then play should continue."

(1) A Player deliberately (but errantly) heads the ball into his/her own goal. The Referee shall allow the goal and must remind the player and the coach that he/she must not head the ball intentionally. Restart play with a Kick-off. (This is exception #1 to no Advantage.)

(2) A Player deliberately heads the ball in a defensive maneuver but the ball goes immediately to an attacker who easily kicks the ball into the goal and scores. The Referee shall allow the goal and must remind the player and the coach that he/she must not head the ball intentionally. Restart play with a Kick-off. (This is exception #2 to no Advantage.)

(3) A Player repeatedly plays the ball with his/her head deliberately. This is NOT to be considered Persistent Infringement (Misconduct). Avoid showing cards to players at U11 and below. The Referee shall encourage the coach to substitute for this player who is not playing in accordance with the U11 Rules of Competition. Restart play with an IFK.

(4) A Player denies an opponent a goal or a goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately heading the ball. This is NOT to be considered DOGSO (Misconduct) per the LOTG. Avoid showing cards to players at U11 and below. The Referee shall encourage the coach to substitute for this player who is not playing in accordance with the U11 Rules of Competition. Restart play with an IFK for the attacking team.

The Referee only portion of the US Soccer Presentation entitled Concussions in Soccer Overview: What Players, Parents, Coaches and Referees Need to Know can be viewed by clicking on the image to the right. Perhaps the most important takeaway from the presentation is:

"If the player has not been cleared by a healthcare professional, allow the player to reenter and then immediately stop the game again and have the player removed because of the suspected concussion. Remind the coach that this process will be repeated until the player is cleared by a healthcare professional or until the coach stops trying to have the player reenter the game."

ATTENTION REFEREES: The following is a modification to the U11 Rules of Competition for Iowa. The purpose of this modification is to provide guidance to referees regarding the statement from US Soccer that Heading the Ball deliberately shall not be allowed at U11 and below. This applies to the age group in general and not to individual players within an age group. Therefore, 10 year-old players “playing up” in U12 matches are not bound by these modifications.

US Soccer communicated the following to all USSF Referees on February 12, 2016:

While much of what is described above will not be routinely seen at such a young age level, the Rules of Competition must account for them when they do occur.

The Iowa Referee Committee (IRC) interprets the act of deliberately playing the Ball with the Head at U11 and below to be similar to “Playing in a Dangerous Manner,” more commonly known as “Dangerous Play,” and punishable in the same manner, by an Indirect Free Kick (IFK). But, while similar, Advantage shall NOT be played with the exceptions of the first two special cases below. And, the act of deliberately heading the ball shall never result in Misconduct at this young age level.

Consider the following:

US Soccer, in cooperation with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), has collected numerous concussion related resources on their website at Head and Brain Conditions. Additionally, US Soccer has released a Concussion Initiative Statement (at left) containing recommendations re: players Heading the ball – particularly for U11 and below.

Iowa Soccer, i.e., the Iowa Soccer Associaion (ISA), has additional information specifically for Iowa's referees, players, and coaches on their Concussion Management page.