WPIAL soccer referees will switch to diagonal system, if PIAA approves

Sunday, July 14, 2019 | 2:09 AM

The WPIAL could change the way soccer games are officiated next season, if the PIAA approves.

The PIAA board must decide Wednesday whether to let the WPIAL organize a pilot program that transitions its officials to the “diagonal system of control” used by soccer organizations around the world rather than the three whistles format used now.

The idea has support from the PIAA Officials Council, which voted 15-6 to recommend the pilot program.

However, it’s unknown whether the PIAA board will follow suit.

“It’s a more consistently officiated game, and it’s what the kids and parents are used to seeing (in club matches),” said Bill Sinning, the WPIAL male officials representative and a member of the PIAA Officials Council.

Both systems use three on-field officials but in different ways.

The current format allows all three to act as referees, each independently able to call fouls. The officials rotate jobs on a set schedule throughout the game, with one in the middle and two on the sides.

Sinning compared the rotation to changing umpires every three innings. One could call the game different than the others, he said.

“We have a number of officials who will not do high school because of that particular mechanic, who will come onboard (if diagonal is approved),” Sinning said. “It would help us with our officiating problem.”

The diagonal system uses one referee permanently in the center of the field — moving diagonally from corner to corner — and two assistant referees on the sidelines. In this format, only the center referee whistles fouls.

The assistant referees use flags to signal the center referee, who makes the final decision.

Both Sinning and Pam Cherubin, the WPIAL female officials representative, endorsed the pilot program.

If approved, the WPIAL will provide preseason training for soccer officials before implementation. As part of the pilot program, the officials will record statistics on yellow card infractions and disqualifications to report to the PIAA Officials Council in March 2020.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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