This may seem like an obvious question. I have been a referee for many years and I always believed that a ball is not out on the touch line unless no part of the ball is touching the line.
At a recent “A” division soccer tournament game that I was coaching, a veteran AR strongly insisted that the correct interpretation of the rule was that a ball is out if 3/4 of the ball is outside the touch line. He then proceeded to call approximately 20 balls out of which about half were still touching the line. Being a fellow referee, I did not make much of an issue of it at the game, other than to ask that he confirm the rule with the CR, which he did not.
Has FIFA recently altered the interpretation of when a ball is considered out?
Answer (September 12, 2007):
No, there has been no change. As long as any part of the ball breaks the vertical plane (we are talking outer side here) of the touchline, the ball is in play. Unfortunately, many “veteran” referees start coming up with their own rules. It beats reading the Laws each year.