RECEIVING THE BALL “DIRECTLY”

Question:
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.

ONE-ARMED THROW-INS

Question:
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.

15.3 PROPERLY TAKEN THROW-IN
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.

WHERE TO TAKE THE THROW-IN

Question:
I know that the rules state that the throw-in has to take place within one yard/meter from where the ball exited the field of play. I am looking for some clarification on this rule. Does this mean that the ball has to “re-enter” the field of play from within 1 yard/meter of where it exited, or does it mean that the player throwing the ball has to be within 1 yard/meter for where it exited? I was recently playing in a game where I threw the ball back in, but was standing about 2-3 meters behind the touchline (but was directly behind where the ball exited the field of play). The referee blew down the throw-in stating that I had to be within a yard of where it exited.

What is the correct ruling?

I know that the rules state that the throw-in has to take place within one yard/meter from where the ball exited the field of play. I am looking for some clarification on this rule. Does this mean that the ball has to “re-enter” the field of play from within 1 yard/meter of where it exited, or does it mean that the player throwing the ball has to be within 1 yard/meter for where it exited? I was recently playing in a game where I threw the ball back in, but was standing about 2-3 meters behind the touchline (but was directly behind where the ball exited the field of play). The referee blew down the throw-in stating that I had to be within a yard of where it exited.

What is the correct ruling?

USSF answer (August 30, 2010):
The player should be within one meter/yard of the place the ball left the field. However, we need to remember that this is usually a very simple play, restarting when the ball has left the field. The referee should indicate to the player approximately where the ball should enter the field. The player should try not to cheat by 3 or more yards, as we often see in professional games.
The player should be within one meter/yard of the place the ball left the field. However, we need to remember that this is usually a very simple play, restarting when the ball has left the field. The referee should indicate to the player approximately where the ball should enter the field. The player should try not to cheat by 3 or more yards, as we often see in professional games.

POSITION OF HANDS FOR THE THROW-IN

Question:
Law 15: What constitutes “from behind” the head? All of the ball behind all of head? center of the ball behind all of the head? center of the ball behind center of the head?

Thanks

USSF answer (June 7, 2010):
While some particularly limber people may be able to position the entire ball behind their head, the rest of us are not that well enabled. The “from behind and over the head” refers to the hands, the means of delivering the ball. The hands must be positioned behind some portion of the back and top of the head before the ball is delivered.

A gentle reminder to all referees (and coaches and players and spectators) who read this: The referee should not go looking for offenses to call. Let the game flow if there is no clear — let us emphasize that, CLEAR — infringement that somehow affects the game.

FLIP THROW-IN

Question:
I have been told that the flip throw in is illegal. The only documentation I have found to support this is on page 128 of the 2009-2010 Laws of the Game of the fifa website. This is what it says:

“If the ball touches the ground before entering the field of play, the throw-in is retaken by the same team from the same position provided that it was taken in line with the correct procedure. If the throw-in is not taken in line with the correct procedure, it is retaken by the opposing team.”

If a player tries the flip throw and the ball touches the ground in the process of delivering the ball, they simply retake with a “normal” throw. Is this correct?

USSF answer (September 8 2009):
No, none of the above applies in this case. Whoever told you the flip throw-in is illegal has likely been abusing illegal substances.

The text you refer to, part of the 2009/2010 Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees, means that the throw-in is retaken by the opposing team if the ball, after being released by the thrower, touches the ground before entering the field of play. It has nothing to do with the flip throw-in, referred to by the IFAB and FIFA as the “acrobatic throw-in,” which is perfectly legal if performed in accordance with the requirements of Law 15.

SPINNING THROW-INS

Question:

In a recent game a player was spinning the ball and not actually throwing from above and *behind* the head. Spinners only throw from above the head and perhaps slightly back and are therefore able to place their dominant hand more behind the ball. It is difficult to get so much spin on a ball thrown properly from behind the head.

How far back is “over and behind the head”?

Since a ball spinning that much is harder to control do referees consider it a wash?

USSF answer (August 10, 2009):
There is no rule that the ball may not “spin” when thrown.  Complete requirements for the throw-in are spelled out in Law 15 (The Throw-In) in the Laws of the Game.

Procedure
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
* holds the ball with both hands
* delivers the ball from behind and over his head
* delivers the ball from the point where it left the field of play

All opponents must stand no less than 2 m (2 yds) from the point at which the throw-in is taken.
The ball is in play when it enters the field of play.

After delivering the ball, the thrower must not touch the ball again until it has touched another player.

And the referee is the sole judge as to whether or not this procedure has been followed.

THROW-IN SIGNAL

Question:

I am wondering about center referee mechanics for throw-in. I am getting feedback from referees that they have heard instructors tell them center referees should signal a throw-in with a 90 degree arm signal, rather than the 45 degree arm signal. They are being told to watch the MLS referees. Is this a change to referee mechanics?

USSF answer (July 22, 2009):
When in doubt, follow the instructions in the Guide to Procedures.  The referee “Points 45 degrees upward to indicate direction of throw-in.”

THROW-IN AND HANDLING

Question:

During an over 40’s mens’ recreational league match this weekend, there were 2 issues that another referee who is an assessor, told me I did incorrectly that surprised me.

1. During a throw-in, the player raised the ball just above his head and threw it in. Since law 15 states that the thrower delivers the ball from behind the head, I awarded a throw-in to the other team. After some discussion, it does raise the question, how far behind the head does the ball need to go before being a legal throw in?

2. During play near mid-field, a blue team player kicks a hard ball at close range (about 2 yards) from the white player who is running toward the ball. The white team’s player, in a flinch reaction, puts his hand up to protect his face and the ball hits his hand. He does not direct the ball after the contact. At the time, I did not consider it deliberate, and let play continue. This “no call” decision was based on the Advice to Referees as well as the 2009 Referee Program Directive on Handling the Ball, Part 4, where it talks about a purely instinctive reaction to protect sensitive areas of the body. This is consistent with the Advice to Referees. The other referee told me that not only should I have called handling, I should have given a yellow card because he considered it a tactical foul. I believe that it was neither a foul nor a misconduct.

USSF answer (July 14, 2009):
1. Referees need to remember that, in addition to the Letter of the Law, they need to be in tune with the Spirit of the Laws.  A throw-in is simply a way of restarting the game.  The decision on how far behind the head the thrower must bring the ball is a matter for the referee to decide.  While the requirements of Law 15 are pretty specific, not bringing the ball fully “behind” the head is a relatively trivial infringement of those requirements.

2. Many referees have yet to learn that refereeing is not a case of “us” against “them,” but a matter of finding the best solution to a problem by balancing the Letter and the Spirit of the Law.  As you describe the situation, and remembering the sources you have cited, we believe that you reached the correct decision in this case.

RESTART ON IMPROPER THROW-IN

Question:
Player A1 takes a throw in from the spot designated by the Referee/AR.  A foul throw in is observed by the referee but the ball did not enter the field of play, that is, the ball did not break the plane of the touchline.

The throw in was not executed properly and the opponents (team B) argued they should be entitled to the throw in.  But the ball never entered the field of play so the side originally entitled to the throw in (team A) argued they should still be entitled to the throw in because the ball did not enter the field.

What is the proper restart?

USSF answer (July 14, 2009):
The other team was correct; they get the throw-in.

This from the Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guide to Referees (2009/2010):
If the ball touches the ground before entering the field of play, the throw-in is retaken by the same team from the same position provided that it was taken in line with the correct procedure. If the throw-in is not taken in line with the correct procedure, it is retaken by the opposing team.

RESTART WHEN PLAYER INTERFERES WITH THROW-IN

Question:
This question has come up three times in the last 5 weeks of our adult amateur soccer league play. Each time, there has been controversy over the re-start, so we are submitting this to the “experts” for final adjudication in writing.

Red Team player #1 is taking a throw-in in accordance with Law 15.

Blue Team player #2 decides to move to a position where he is standing in front of the thrower, clearly less than 2 yards away.

Before the Referee can warn Blue player #2 to move back, the ball is thrown in by Red player #1, and the Referee blows his whistle to caution Blue player #2 for Failure to Respect the 2 yard Distance on the throw-in.

In reading the new FIFA Laws of the Game (on page 125), we believe that play is restarted with a throw-in for the Red Team. This appeared to the correct restart and was the restart employed in each of the three games. This past weekend, two Assessors and an Instructor (along with many other referees) proclaimed that the correct restart should be an Indirect Free Kick. The logic given was that the ball had already crossed the plane of the Touch Line so it should be deemed to be “in play”.

It appears to me that the restart for this “Failure to Respect the Distance” violation should be treated the same as any other. If there were a “FRD” violation on a corner kick, we would re-take the corner kick. If there were a “FRD” violation on a direct free kick, we would re-take the direct free kick.

What is the correct restart for a “FRD” violation, for which a yellow card is shown, on a Throw-in?

USSF answer (April 28, 2009):
The correct restart in this case is a retake of the throw-in. The ball was not in play when the infringement occurred. The Advice to Referees makes it very clear that failure to withdraw the required distance on a throw-in (or a corner kick) is to be handled the same way as would be the case on a free kick.