I am confused about the rules of your feet for throw-ins. Do you have to have 2 in completely or what? Thank you!

Answer (October 14, 2014):
Here are some illustrations of foot positioning that is allowed or not allowed. The shaded areas indicate where the thrower’s foot touches the ground.

Foot positioning for throw-in
Foot positioning for throw-in


Player takes a throw-in, throws ball at opponent (not hard or violent) bounces off opponent, throw takes possession of ball.
This was happening all game and I think thrower was intentionally doing hit.
Can you help me?

Answer (September17, 2014):

This tactic, if performed as you describe it, is perfectly legal. U. S. Soccer’s guidance to referees is that if a throw-in taken in such a way that the ball strikes an opponent is not by itself a violation of the Law. The act must be evaluated separately as a form of striking and dealt with appropriately if judged to be unsporting behavior (caution) or violent conduct (send off from the field). In either event, if deemed a violation, the restart is located at the place where the throw-in struck the opponent. If the throw-in is deemed to have been taken incorrectly, the correct restart is a throw-in.


When defending a free kick, is there a law that forbids a team from erecting a human pyramid on their goal line, i.e. standing on each other’s shoulders to obstruct the goal mouth. If there is no specific law, would it come under ‘bringing the game into disrepute”?

Answer (November 24, 2012):
No, there is no “Law” on this, but there is an old International Board Decision from the International Football Association Board, the people who make and change the Laws. It declares that using a teammate’s shoulders to boost one’s height in order to make a play for the ball was misconduct. It was originally IBD #4 under Law 12 but became IBD #2 in 1995. So, yes, there is at least an interpretation of the Law that remains valid guidance for such situations. In addition, there is tradition, which holds that other than when they are jumping into the air to play the ball, players are expected to remain earthbound, not stacked high like cheerleaders, circus acrobats, synchronized swimmers, or cans of soda. They may kneel (although not when taking throw-ins) or jump into the air, but definitely may not build a pyramid. Doing so would constitute the cautionable act of unsporting behavior and bringing the game into disrepute.


As a referee, I have always been told that the lines on a field are part of the area of which they “contain”. However, this seems to be in conflict with the law regarding throw-ins and the placement of the feet of the individual taking the throw-in along the touchline.

I recently had a game in which I had to explain the lines are part of the area of which they contain and he brought up the fact that on a throw-in as long as both feet are touching the touchline in some form that the throw-in is considered legal. However he then pointed out that by my description, would not that be illegal since in a throw-in the player must take the throw-in from outside of the field of play, however the line is considered in play?

The only reasoning I can come up with for this is that at its most basic form the throw-in is a method of restarting the match and thus follows a slightly different set of circumstances or rules than normal course of play.

But is there any further reasoning as to why a player is allowed to be completely in the field of play when taking a throw-in (in the case where they keep both heels on the inside edge of the touchline) and yet the throw-in is technically taken to put the ball back in to play?

USSF answer (November 24, 2011):
The answer to your question lies in applying Laws 1 and 15 as they are written, not in finding reasons to doubt them. “He,” whoever “he” may be, was totally wrong in suggesting that having one’s feet on the line had anything to do with a dichotomy in the Laws. Your original understanding is correct. Your interlocutor is talking apples and applesauce, two different things, and creating his own muddled version of the Laws.

Law 1:
Field Markings
The field of play must be rectangular and marked with lines. These lines belong to the areas of which they are boundaries.

Law 15:
At the moment of delivering the ball, the thrower:
* faces the field of play
* has part of each foot either on the touch line or on the ground outside the touch line

This is the Law and it is also tradition. Where the Law is clear, follow the Law; where it is not, do the best you can (including applying logic).


Having a debate here about definition of ‘delay of game’.

On a kick-off from the half line, after a goal, or starting a game, if a team does an improper kick-off (i.e. ball does not move forward, and cross over the half line) several times, is this delay of game? I have seen teams do this in the past. I would allow this twice, then give an IDFK to the opposite team. I was recently told by a senior official that this is not a delay of game and not IDFK. Well, if so, what do you do about it?

USSF answer (November 17, 2011):
The tactic you describe could be considered to be delaying the restart of play. A number of examples are given in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

The following are specific examples of this form of misconduct (some of which may also be committed by substitutes):

• Kicks or throws the ball away or holds the ball to prevent or delay a free kick, throw-in, or corner kick restart by an opponent

• Fails to restart play after being so instructed by the referee

• Excessively celebrates a goal

• Fails to return to the field from a midgame break, fails to perform a kick-off when signaled by the referee, or fails to be in a correct position for a kick-off

• Performing a throw-in improperly with the apparent intention of being required to perform the throw-in again, thus wasting time

• Unnecessarily moving a ball which has already been properly placed on the ground for a goal kick

• Provokes a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play

Because the ball was out of play at the delay, the restart after any caution in this case would still be the kick-off.


What is the rules for talking to a referee? Does a player have a right to ask a referee what he was penalized for or is there a strict ‘no talking to the referee’ policy?

My main question is about two incidents I was involved in the following two incidents at a recent game and I disagree with both of the refs decisions. In the first half while I was in an offside position, the oppositions defender turned to pass the ball back to his goalkeeper without realizing I was behind him. I intercepted his pass and scored but the referee said I was offside, surely I’m not offside if I didn’t receive the ball from a team mate?

The second incident happened with ten minutes left and the game all but over as we were leading 4-0. A team mate played the ball up the line too far ahead of me and left the oppositions defender with plenty of time to deal with it. He controlled the ball, took 3 small touches and brought the ball to the sideline where he deliberately hit the ball with force into a group of spectators on the sideline who were having a picnic and drinking from glasses. It was lucky nobody was hurt. He stood about 5 meters away from me as I took the throw in and I directed the ball straight at his face. The red sent me off for this. Should I have received a red throwing the ball at his face (I threw the ball correctly) and should he have been punished for almost injuring spectators?

USSF answer (August 23, 2011):
A player is certainly permitted to ask about the reason for an infringement being called, but the referee is under no obligation to respond with more than a general comment. Some competitions do have a no-talking-to-the-referee policy, simply to prevent problems on the field.

1. No, the referee should not have called you offside in this situation — if all is as you describe it.

2. in the first instance the opposing player should have been sent off for violent conduct for kicking the ball at the spectators. However that does not give you the right to take revenge on him for his act. Yes, you should have been sent off for violent conduct for throwing the ball in your opponent’s face.


1. The ball deflects over the goal line to give Team A a corner kick. Player A1 retrieves the ball, which is about 15 yards beyond the end line and in line with the side of the penalty area, and throws it to teammate A2 who is positioned by the corner flag. A2 quickly takes a corner kick while A1, who is still a couple of yards out of bounds, is running diagonally towards a position on the field in front of the near post. A1 enters the field unmarked as the kick is in the air, and he scores on a header. Even though he was off the field when the ball was initially played, is this a legal goal since he had a legitimate reason for being off the field? Does it matter that he did not re-enter at the nearest point of the field instead running diagonally towards a spot nearer the goal? Is there any reason that the referee should delay the corner kick until he returns to play?

2. Same general scenario, but the ball goes out of touch at the 35-yard line for a throw-in for Team A in its offensive end. A1 retrieves the ball in line with the 25 yard line – about 10 yards out of bounds – and throws it back to A2 to take the throw-in. A1 then runs diagonally towards the field, entering at the 18-yard line, behind the defense who apparently hasn’t noticed him. He runs onto a long throw-in and eventually scores. Good goal? Should the referee hold up play in a situation like this?

USSF answer (June 6, 2011):
1. If it is clear to the referee that there was no duplicity in this situation, then it was probably legal. To avoid such situations (and their concomitant problems) in the future, the referee should hold up play until the player has returned to the field of play. There is no requirement that the player must return to the field at the same point from which he left.

2. Same answer. Plus, the referee must be aware of this player’s position in situations where, depending on the sequence of play, the returning player might be in an offside position.

The referee should always ensure that all players (other than the taker) are on the field when play is restarted from off the field.

NOTE: The referee is not responsible for poor defensive play. The Laws of the Game were not written to compensate for the mistakes of the players.


In a U8 game, players get to redo a throw in if there is an infraction. This player lifted his foot the first time and was given a second chance. On the second chance, the ball never came in. Does he get a THIRD chance or does the other team get the throw in?

USSF answer (May 18, 2011):
According to the USYS U8 small-sided rules, this is the procedure:
Law 15 The Throw-In: some U8 players do not yet have the eye-hand coordination to execute a throw-in to the letter of the law. However, some U8 players have sufficient eye-hand coordination to attempt the throw-in. One ‘do- over’ per thrower should be the normal response if the throw-in is incorrect. The adult officiating the match should explain to the child how to execute the throw-in correctly.


The revised format of the Week in Review contains representative video clips and expert description and commentary from Michael Kennedy that is greatly appreciated. This type of approach serves to clarify a
variety of game situations and provides explanations of correct decisions based upon the Laws of the Game (LOTG). Michael also invites viewers to submit questions. My question and request for clarification arises from a subject covered in week 7.

The first video clip from week 7 shows a player in an offside position that was not punished for being in that position because he received the ball directly via a throw-in from his teammate. As mentioned in the presentation, Law 11 Offside states “There is no offside offense if a player receives the ball directly from: a goal kick or a throw-in or a corner kick.” Additional information on this subject is also provided in the USSF publication, “Offside Made Easy”, wherein the offside law is restated and the word “directly” is clarified to mean that no one else touched or played the ball.

Now, suppose that during the execution of a goal kick, throw-in, or corner kick, the ball is deflected off the head of: 1) a teammate, 2) a defender, or 3) both a teammate and defender (difficult to determine if just one) and goes to the player in the offside position. What is the correct decision?

For each of these three cases, please provide the correct decision based upon the LOTG along with any supporting reference in the LOTG or other official written documentation. If there are exceptions to Law
11 as written, please provide the rationale and reference to supporting written documentation (I haven’t found any, but there possibly could be–hence this email).

The aforementioned scenarios seem to have varying interpretations of law and resulting decision depending upon who one speaks with-referees, instructors and assessors. We would all probably agree that 1) referees need to make correct decisions based upon the written laws and other official publications that support sound decision making; and 2) official validation and written verification are preferred to unsubstantiated and unsupported individual views.

USSF answer (May 18, 2011):
In 2001 we ;published a document entitled “Speaking Directly,” which covers all these situations. Thank you for encouraging us to publish the article once again.

Speaking Directly

If a “direct” free kick is kicked directly into the opponents’ goal, a goal is awarded. (This is not the case with an “indirect” free kick, where a goal cannot be scored if the ball does not touch a second player — which can be the goalkeeper, who is, after all, also a player — before entering the goal.)

That is the primary meaning of “direct”; however, there are references in the Laws of the Game to “direct” or “directly” which do not apply to scoring goals. These references seem to confuse some referees:
– Law 11 states that there is no offside offense if a player receives the ball directly from a goal kick, a throw-in or a corner kick
– throw-in taken by a teammate
– Law 13 and Law 16 declare the ball kicked from within a team’s own penalty area to be in play from a free kick or a goal kick only when it leaves the penalty area and goes directly into play
– Laws 16 and 17 tell us that a goal may be scored directly from a goal kick or a corner kick, but only against the opposing team
The use of “directly” in Laws 12, 13, 15, 16, and 17 is fairly clear: if the ball goes from point A to point B without interference, something can or cannot happen. That is not true of the use of “directly” in Law 11. Tradition and custom give us a slightly different meaning of the word “directly” in the context of offside.

If at a goal kick, throw-in, or a corner kick taken by his team, a player receives the ball directly from the restart, there is no problem. Nor should there be any problem at a corner kick, as it is physically impossible for a player on the field of play to be offside directly from a corner kick. The confusion arises at throw-ins or goal kicks when the ball is deflected or misplayed by an opponent and then comes to the teammate of the thrower or kicker who is in an offside position. In such cases, the referee must disregard the deflection or misplay of the ball by the opponent, as there has been no infringement of the Law. However, if the ball were to be deflected or misplayed instead by a teammate of the thrower or kicker on its way to the player in the offside position, that player must be declared offside.


At a U19 top level premier game one of the players had only one arm. His other arm was a “stump” extending approximately to just above his elbow.

The issue was that this player due to his disability had a distinctive advantage on the throw-ins particularly in the attacking third.

This player was quite athletic, and had developed the ability with one arm to throw the ball with accuracy from one touch line to the far end of the Penalty area extending out from the far post.

Effectively with his one armed throw-in technique, the team had the equivilent of a direct kick or corner kick on any throw-in.

This player was a very skilled field player, but was able to throw the ball in 50-100% farther than any other player with two hands over the head.

How should a referee, or AR deal with a potential disability issue like this which the team was exploiting his physical characteristics to gain a goal scoring opportunity on every throw-in in the attacking 1/3?

USSF answer (October 7, 2010):
The following excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” may prove helpful.

A throw-in must be performed while the thrower is facing the field, but the ball may be thrown into the field in any direction. Law 15 states that the thrower “delivers the ball from behind and over his head.” This phrase does not mean that the ball must leave the hands from an overhead position. A natural throwing movement starting from behind and over the head will usually result in the ball leaving the hands when they are in front of the vertical plane of the body. The throwing movement must be continued to the point of release. A throw-in directed straight downward (often referred to as a “spike”) has traditionally been regarded as not correctly performed; if, in the opinion of the referee such a throw-in was incorrectly performed, the restart should be awarded to the opposing team.  There is no requirement in Law 15 prohibiting spin or rotational movement. Referees must judge the correctness of the throw-in solely on the basis of Law 15.

The acrobatic or “flip” throw-in is not by itself an infringement so long as it is performed in a manner which meets the requirements of Law 15.

A player who lacks the normal use of one or both hands may nevertheless perform a legal throw-in provided the ball is delivered over the head and provided all other requirements of Law 15 are observed.

NOTE: If the one-armed thrower you describe does not fulfill the requirements of Law 15, then his throw-ins are not legal. In addition, some two-armed players can also throw in the ball to prodigious distances.