I had a quick question about the women’s world cup final. I noticed that team officials were clearly allowed onto the field to give instructions to players before the taking of the penalty kicks. I was under the understanding that under no circumstances were team officials allowed onto the field in this situation, am I mistaken? I’ve always been told to kept team officials, no matter the age group of the teams involved or whatever level of play, on the sidelines.

USSF answer (August 8, 2011):
During the period between the end of full time and the actual start of kicks from the penalty mark, the referee should allow eligible players to receive water, treatment, equipment repair, or other such assistance on the field near their bench. Team officials may temporarily enter the field but must exit the field when directed by the referee.…


In a recent game between UAE and Lebanon there was a penalty kick taken with the back of the heel. The player approaches the ball and without stopping his run-up turns around to knock the ball with his heel.

I realize this is played under a different football association, but in USSF – is this legal? Or would it be considered “Excessively changing directions or taking an excessively long run to the ball (thus causing an unnecessary delay in the restart, in the opinion of the referee)” as in the August 25, 2009 position paper? Specifically excessively changing position. My feeling is that this is unsporting, but I am wondering if that position is the one taken by USSF.

A video of the situation is here.


USSF answer (July 19, 2011) REVISED JULY 25, 2011:
No official position on this matter has been taken by either FIFA or the IFAB as of July 25, 2011. Until such time as there is an official position from the IFAB or from FIFA, we will not discuss this matter further.…


Some folks were having a discussion on exactly what is required for a player to meet the requirement of being “outside of the penalty area” at the moment a PK is taken. Could you please address the following situations in terms of whether they are technical violations of the law and also as to whether they might well be deemed to be trivial by a referee:

1. As the PK is taken, an attacker has a foot on (but not over) the 18-yard line. Other foot is OK.

2. As the shot is taken, an attacker has one foot touching the line and partly over it. Other foot is OK.

3. As the shot is taken, an attacker has one foot behind the line and one foot significantly over it (i.e. closer to the goal line).

4. As the shot is taken, a player has both feet behind the line but is leaning forward so that the upper part of her torso is over the line.

Thanks for your help.

USSF answer (July 15, 2011):
Technical response: The lines are part of the areas they delineate. Ergo, the lines marking the penalty area are part of the penalty area and thus any particle of a foot on or over the line constitutes a breach of the procedure for penalty kicks.

Practical response: Use common sense and punish only that which needs to be punished for the good of the game.…


Why is a goalkeeper stepping off his line on a penalty kick and saving the ball not considered DOGSO-F since his actions clearly denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity by committing an infraction that would have resulted in a free or penalty kick?

USSF answer (July 13, 2011)
All infringements of Law 14 are punished according to Law 14 itself. When any member of the defending team violates Law 14 (of which the goalkeeper moving illegally is one example), there are only two possible restarts — a kick-off or a retake of the penalty kick.

If the restart is a kick-off, it means that the interference was not successful and therefore a red card for denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity is not permitted. If the restart is a penalty kick, it is a retake of the original penalty kick, not a new restart, and thus it also does not come under the requirements for dismissal for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick.…


The Blue goalkeeper and Red player are in position for a PK. After the referee signals, but before the kick is taken, a Red teammate encroaches into the penalty area. The referee allows the kick to be taken. The Blue goalkeeper saves the shot, deflecting the ball to the Red teammate who then kicks it into the goal. What is the restart? Should the PK be retaken and the encroaching Red player cautioned?

Another question:
The referee gives a Blue player permission to leave the field to care of an injury. A Red player heads directly toward the Blue team’s goal with only the Blue goalkeeper between him and the goal. The Blue player reenters the field without the referee’s permission and runs across the Red player’s path causing him to slow down and allowing the Blue goalkeeper collect the ball. What is the misconduct? What discipline should be taken? And what is the restart?

USSF answer (June 25, 2011):
1. As there was no goal from the original kick, the referee stops play and the match is restarted with an indirect free kick to the defending team, from the place where the infringement occurred — that place on the penalty area line where the player entered the penalty area early. See Law 14.

2. First some essential background information: When a player who has been given permission to leave the field returns without permission, the Law requires that the referee (a) stop play (although not immediately if the player does not not interfere with play or if the advantage can be applied) and (b) then caution the player for entering the field of play without permission.

It is not clear to us precisely what happened in this situation, so we will provide two possible scenarios and their solutions:
(a) The Blue player did not impede the Red player and (after entering the field illegally) but did slow him down by running in front of him while Blue was within playing distance of the ball. Referee action: Caution the Blue player for entering the field without permission. Because there was no physical contact and the Blue player did not impede the progress of the Red player, the only other thing to do is to remove the Blue player from the field. If the referee stops play for this, the match is restarted with an indirect free kick, to be taken by a player of the Red team from the position of the ball at the time of the stoppage (see Law 13 – Position of Free Kick).
(b) If the referee is certain that the Blue player impeded the Red ;player, then the Blue player has denied an opponent a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity, then the Blue player is sent off and shown the red card. The game is restarted with an indirect free kick for the Red team from the place where the foul occurred (even if it is within the penalty area)…


Another question for you posed to me by a referee. I’ve massaged the wording a bit to keep those involved nameless but didn’t make any changes impacting the situation or ensuing decision. Here goes:

At an NCSL U16D2 boys game there was a young referee in the center with two adults as his assistants. One of the assistants was the centers father.

Early on in the 2d half with the score having recently been tied at 1-1, a foul was called resulting in a Penalty Kick restart. Dad thinks it was the correct decision from his view from the half. The defending player committing the foul was hurt. Instead of the coach coming on to the field to aid the injured player, two of his team mates helped him off the field. Before the player was off the field (and the sub on the field), the referee allowed the PK to be taken, which resulted with a goal being scored. Assistant Referee, Dad, raised his flag and called the referee over, advising the referee he should not have allowed the PK to be taken since the substitution hadn’t been completed, and the correct way to restart was to make sure the defending team had 11 players on the field, and to have the PK retaken. After giving this advice consideration, the referee ordered the penalty kick to be retaken which this time was saved. The attacking team was not happy. The defending team went on to win 4-1, the attacking team did not protest. The referee reportedly handled the rest of the game without incident.

Granted, the referee should have done better by ensuring the injured player was properly substituted before signaling for the PK to be taken and this wouldn’t have been an issue. But since the signal to start was given the question is can the referee now change his mind and stop play? Or since the signal was given, play restarted and a goal was scored, should it be allowed to stand? Or, in the interest in Fair Play, did he do the right thing by ordering the PK to be retaken after the injured player was substituted?

My initial thought is haste makes waste and since there didn’t appear to be any infraction related to encroachment or improper player positioning during the taking of the penalty kick, the goal should have been allowed since this wasn’t really a substitution based on the way the situation was described to me. How did I do regarding my take of the situation? You’re never too old to learn.

USSF answer (June 19, 2011):
The failure to allow a substitution is not the problem here. The referee’s error was in allowing the penalty kick to be taken while the injured player and his teammates were otherwise engaged, Although these players could not “defend” against the penalty kick, they had the right to be present on the field in positions permitted by the procedures for a penalty kick. The referee, who allowed the teammates to help the injured player off the field, should have waited for the two teammates to return to those positions.…


A recent Internet video clip shows a kick being taken during KFTPM, in which the ball strikes the crossbar, rebounds high into the air, and lands (with lots of backspin) about 7-8 yards out from the goal line. While the ‘keeper is paying no attention to it, having already begun celebrating the save (and presumedly returning to the instructed position, to allow the opposing ‘keeper to prepare for the next kick), the ball slowly bounces and rolls across the goal line, between the goal posts and under the cross bar.

Since this is during KFTPM, not at a penalty kick, is there a “time limit” on how long the referee should wait before deciding that this kick has been completed? It seems that the governing authority (not under USSF) has declared that, since the referee allowed this goal, the match must be replayed.

What is the USSF position on this?

USSF answer (June 10, 2011):
We are unaware of any ruling on this play by a “governing authority,” but the PROCEDURES TO DETERMINE THE WINNER OF A MATCH OR HOME-AND-AWAY, listed at the end of the Laws of the Game, tell us, “Unless otherwise stated, the relevant Laws of the Game and International F.A. Board Decisions apply when kicks from the penalty mark are being taken.” The decision for a kick from the mark should be treated exactly like a penalty kick in extended time. Under the Laws of the Game the ball remains in play until the referee determines that it has gone out of play. See Advice to Referees 14.13 which states “So long as the ball is in motion and contacting any combination of the ground, crossbar, goalposts, and goalkeeper, a goal can still be scored.”…


During an indoor soccer match, a defending player turned his back on a shot by an attacking player. The defender was in the area and his arm was struck by the ball which resulted in a penalty kick. As the referee for this match, I cleared the “18 box” and placed the ball on the spot. When I the blew whistle, a defending player rushed the ball and struck it before the attacking player struck the ball. I blew the whistle and called for a re-kick. Both teams stated that once the referee blew his whistle, the ball was in play and could be struck by any player. I have not found any rule for indoor soccer that states the ball is in play after the whistle, only after an attacking player strikes the ball. Please help.

USSF answer (March 18, 2011):
There are two different restart scenarios that your players are confusing. Indoor has both a penalty kick and a shootout. On an indoor penalty kick, no other players should have been anywhere close enough to do that.

In the case of a shootout, the restart is from the center of the yellow line (50 feet from the goal line). The keeper is to stand on at least one foot on his own goal line, other than the shooter, all the other player must be in the other half of the field. The remaining attacking field players must be outside the center circle, the defending teammates of the GK are inside. Once the referee blows the whistle the ball is “live” and the shooter can dribble, the keeper can come off his goal line, and the players in the other half of the field can then run toward the play.

The penalty kick is pretty much like the outdoor except the goalkeeper must have both feet on his own goal line and can’t move forward until the ball is struck. All the remaining field players are back behind the yellow line and must remain there until the ball is struck.

It’s unfortunate that you were assigned to indoor without being trained on the rules. However, your men’s amateur players are typical. They will say anything to justify what they do, just as outdoor players do.…


In the context of a protest which R&D will have to decide, we have a Law 14 question to resolve. The ref called a PK. The kicker was identified, etc. He blew the whistle for the kick to be taken. Before the ball was struck, a teammate of the kicker ran into the box. The kicker struck the ball. Seeing the teammate streaming in, the ref blew the whistle. The keeper hearing the whistle made no play on the ball and it went into the net, having only been kicked by the kicker. The ref awarded an IFK to the defending team.

Law 14 doesn’t exactly cover a dead ball that goes into the net from a PK. Had the ref not blown the whistle, it would be either a retake if it went in the net , etc. One school of thought that has emerged is under advice to referees it tells us the ref determines when the PK is complete, and having done so by his whistle, the restart is governed by the team that committed the violation, thus the IFK was correct. The other is the kick was not complete at the time of the whistle, so retake. While not stated, some refs have earlier whistles in youth games if for no other reason to reduce likelihood of injury. With the infringing player coming on strong, a decision to shut it down sometimes occurs.

Thoughts? Thanks.

USSF answer (October 19, 2010):
The whistle was blown but the ball was not yet in play when the teammate of the kicker entered the penalty area. No goal was scored because of the infringement by the teammate of the kicker. Warn the teammate (if it was his first infringement of Law 14, or caution if it was a second offense) and retake the penalty kick.…


I am having trouble reconciling a seemingly contradictory interpretation of the laws of the game. Law 8 states that on a kick off, the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward.

Therefore, if the ball is kicked backward, the ball has not been put into play, and therefore the kick is retaken. Law 14 contains the same verbiage, “the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward.” Law 14 also states that if the kicker infringes on the laws of the game and the ball does not enter the goal, then award an indirect free kick for the opposing team. Obviously, if the ball is kicked backwards, it would not enter the goal. I noticed in “Advice to Referees” (2009/2010) version, section 14.12, it states that kicking the ball backward would result in an indirect free kick for the defending team at the penalty mark. If the wording, “The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward” were removed from the law, then this seeming contradiction would appear to go away. Any insight would be appreciated.

USSF answer (August 10, 2010):
You would seem to be arguing apples and applesauce. We see no dichotomy or contradiction here, as the kick-off and the penalty kick are two separate and discrete types of restarting the game.

Law 8:

• the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward
In the event of any other infringement of the kick-off procedure:
• the kick-off is retaken

Law 14:

• After the players have taken positions in accordance with this Law, the referee signals for the penalty kick to be taken
• The player taking the penalty kick must kick the ball forward
• He must not play the ball again until it has touched another player
• The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward
the player taking the penalty kick infringes the Laws of the Game:
• the referee allows the kick to be taken
• if the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken
• if the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and the match is restarted with an indirect free kick to the defending team, from the place where the infringement occurred

Advice 14.12 (2010/2011 edition):

If, after the referee has whistled for the penalty kick to be taken, the identified kicker back heels or kicks the ball backwards to a teammate who kicks it into the goal, the International Board has determined that this particular violation of Law 14 is to be regarded as failure to follow the procedures outlined in Law 14.  In this situation (whether the ball is subsequently kicked into the goal or not), the restart is an indirect free kick for the opponents at the penalty mark.

In other words, the IFAB has declared that, kicking the ball backward shall be considered a violation of Law 14 and treated as simply one among all other violations of Law 14. In short, logic in this case cannot provide the correct answer, only a rote knowledge of the Laws of the Game as propounded and explained by the International Board.…