Today I was refereeing a recreational game. There was a throw-in where the thrower essentiall spiked the ball hard just inside the field of play (it bounce 20 feet up).
There was no player near by, however, I called an incorrect throw. Of course the Coaches complained.

The basis for my call was the guidance in the USSF “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”, section 15.3. However, at half-time, I looked again at the Rules of the Game booklet. It is silent on the spiking of the ball. With no mention in the Laws Booklet, I am inclined to not make such a call in the future.

Please Clarify whether spiking is really ever grounds for ‘improper throw-in’, and if so, why and under what circumstances.

USSF answer (June 10, 2008):
While the act spiking the ball is not mentioned in the Laws of the Game, it is traditionally forbidden because putting the ball in that manner is disrespectful of the Game and of the opponents. It attracts attention to the player and brings the game into disrepute.…


A player takes a throw-in correctly. The ball does not enter the field of play but remains outside the touch line. What action does the referee take?
The throw-in is retaken.

I am assuming that “takes a throw-in correctly” means that the player had both feet on the ground, on our off the touchline, facing the field, both hands on the ball with the ball being brought behind the head and then thrown and released and the ball just doesn’t enter the field of play.

What happens if a player takes a throw-in “incorrectly” but the ball never enters the field? What is the re-start if a thrower lifts one foot during the throw-in but the ball never enters the field? I would believe it to be retaken, but a school of thought has arisen by some that feel that the opposing team would get a throw-in.

USSF answer (May 20, 2008):
You will find your answer in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

Referees must distinguish between a throw-in which infringes on the requirements of Law 15 and one which is not properly taken such that the restart is said not to have been taken. In the first case (infringement), possession of the restart is given to the opponents and taken from the same location; under no circumstances may advantage be applied to a throw-in performed illegally. In the case of a throw-in which is not properly taken, the restart must be taken again by the same team from the same location.

A throw-in may not be performed from a kneeling position under any circumstances.

If the ball touches the ground outside the field before entering the field or if it does not enter the field at all, the throw-in has not properly been taken and must be performed again.

A throw-in which has been performed illegally, for which the referee has stopped play, cannot be given back to the same team in order to perform the restart again. The referee must either decide that the offense was trifling and not stop play, or award the throw-in to the opposing team.

We believe that the “school of thought” to which you refer is probably “attended” by referees who spend too much time with the NFHS rulebook, where the failure of the ball to enter the field on a throw-in is automatically punished by possession of the ball going to the other team for a throw-in by them.

However, the Laws of the Game — the only rules to be used for games played under the aegis of the U. S. Soccer Federation — are clear: If the ball doesn’t enter the field, it has not been put into play and it really doesn’t matter what (if any) technical violations the thrower might have committed in the process. In other words, the thrower could have jumped high into the air but it would still be a retake if the ball never enters the field.

The issue of whether a throw-in is taken correctly or not becomes relevant only in the case of an immediately subsequent violation by the thrower (e. g., second touch or throwing the ball hard at an opponent on the field). In that case, if it wasn’t taken correctly, the restart (throw-in by the opposing team) is based on the first violation, after dealing with any misconduct. ┬áThe Law makes this point explicitly in the case of a throw which results in an opponent being struck violently — if the throw itself was legal, then striking and misconduct occurred; if it wasn’t legal, then only misconduct occurred.

We have had some people asking about the phrase at the end of the Additional Instructions and Guidelines for Referees and Assistant Referees in the Laws of the Game. Under Law 15, the final paragraph reads:

If the ball touches the ground before entering the field of play, the throw-in shall be 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 shall be retaken by the opposing team.

We have run the matter past FIFA and, for the moment, our original answer stands. It may change next year, but, for the moment, what we have stated is correct, at least in the United States.…


I had a situation that happened last night: Team A had a throw-in deep in their defensive half. The outside defender threw the ball in to the sweeper’s feet. The sweeper dropped to his hands and knees to head the ball back to his goalkeeper, who picked up the ball with his hands.

According to the “Advice to Referees,” I made the interpretation that trickery was used to get the ball back to his goalkeeper who could punt the ball. However, . . .

Can [the following] situation happen and be legal?

Player A throws the ball towards his teammate’s head, his teammate heads the ball back directly to his goalkeeper, and the goalkeeper picks the ball up with his hands.

Is the goalkeeper allowed to play the ball with his hands in this situation?

I didn’t think it was legal but the question has come up because the team has filed a protest, claiming a mis-application of the law.

I believe in my case, trickery was used, but in a more normal case, is a teammate’s throw-in allowed to be headed back to his goalkeeper to play with their hands?

USSF answer (November 15, 2007):
When speaking of trickery in playing the ball toward the goalkeeper, we normally think of this as occurring during restarts, not during dynamic play. A player who goes down on hands and knees to head the ball during dynamic play is not committing trickery.

With that point established, consider our response of August 29, 2007, to another question on trickery:
“When considering the possibility of trickery, the referee must decide if the action was natural (a normal sort of play, the sort of thing you would see in any sequence of play) or contrived (an artificial, unnatural play, which, in the referee’s opinion, is intended solely for the purpose of circumventing the Law and preventing the opponents from challenging for the ball).

“The call is always in the opinion and at the discretion of the referee, who is the only person capable of making the judgment as to the nature of the kick. If there is any doubt in the referee’s mind as to the nature of the play, then common sense should prevail. Unless the referee believes plays like this to be trickery, there is no need to make a call.”

Consider also that the goalkeeper infringes the Law by handling a throw-in only if it has come directly to him or her from a throw-in taken by a teammate.…


I am trying to figure out why a deliberate handling infringement by the kicker is discussed in Laws 13, 14, 16 and 17. It seems that once the ball is in play, a deliberate handling infringement as discussed in Law 12 would cover this. Is there something about denying a goal or an obvious goal scoring opportunity that requires this to be distinguished from a Law 12 infringement?

Answer (September 5, 2007):
We need to remember that the Laws are written for the players, too, even though most of them do not ever bother to read them. Although the same might be said for most referees after their first year of refereeing. The emphasis on deliberate handling in Laws 13, 14, 16 and 17 (and you forgot 15) is to remind both players and referees that the game must be restarted for more serious offense if two infringements are committed simultaneously. In this case they are: a second play of the ball before someone else has touched or otherwise played it and deliberate handling. The second play of the ball is usually simply an indirect free kick offense, whereas the deliberate handling is a direct free kick offense. Most referees would recognize that, but some would not.…


I got these questions at a recert from a PhD in math. I think I know the answers but I want to be sure.Why is a throw in a throw in from the kneeling position prohibited. I assumed this to prevent the thrower from more or less placing the ball on a teammate’s foot allowing an opponent to only kick the ball back out and waste time.

Would a throw in in the sqatting position then be allowed? I assume this would be considered trying to circumvent the rule and be cosidered misconduct.

Answer (August 20, 2007):
We answered these questions back on June 17, 2005, but it’s always nice to refresh everyone’s memory.

The 2006 edition of the IFAB/FIFA Q&A, Law 15, Q&A 7, tells us:
7. Is a player allowed to take a throw-in kneeling or sitting down?
No. A throw-in is only permitted if the correct procedures in the Laws of the Game are followed.

Squatting is a form of sitting and therefore is not allowed.

This is the surface answer, but we sense that the “Ph. D. in math” is more interested in ultimate justification; in other words, why did the IFAB declare this if a player, while kneeling, is able otherwise to follow the correct procedures outlined in Law 15 (which, of course, do not literally specify standing. Two possibilities occur: First, “standing” is implied as it is the normal posture at any restart, so that anything other than standing is not permitted. Second, because that’s the way it is.

To answer the unasked question as to why the “acrobatic” or “flip” throw-in is allowed, it is because the thrower actually makes the throw from a standing position.…


I was an AR during a O30 match when the ball went in-touch on the far end of the field from me (in front of the attacker’s bench area). A defender went to retrieve the ball (perhaps thinking it was his team’s throw-in).

While the defender was retrieving the ball, an attacker picked up a free ball from his bench-area and quickly restarted with a throw-in. The ball was then played forward by an attacker to a teammate who would have been offside EXCEPT for the defender now returning from having retrieved the previous in-touch ball. The defender was still off the field of play and the attacker proceeded with a clear run at the goal.

Offside or not? [I did not call offside considering him as still the second-to-last defender: “11.11 Defender legally off the field of play” within “Advice To Referees on the Laws of the Game”]

To complicate matters a little more, the ball that the attacker picked up from his bench area was not one of the game balls given the referees prior the game. The center ref obviously let play restart (probably not even aware that the other ball was being retrieved by a defender). As an AR, what is my responsibility in this situation?

Answer (May 29, 2007):
The Laws of the Game were not written to compensate for the mistakes of players. The defender, obviously a splendid and generous person, committed the error of not watching what was happening. Life is hard, no offside.

However, the fact that the ball put into play by the opposing team was not an approved ball is a more serious matter. A goal may not be scored if the ball is not one approved by the referee prior to the game. If the referee did not recognize the switch and stop play, then you, the AR, who did recognize that fact, should have signalled to the referee.

You have actually given us a two-part problem. First, what SHOULD have been done? Second, given that what SHOULD have been done wasn’t, how do we make things right (if possible)? It is possible that the above two paragraphs do not provide the full practical answer. Given that the AR should have made the referee aware of the illegal ball, does it follow that, if he eventually did do so but this occurred after the goal was scored, must the goal be disallowed and, in effect, the match rewound back to the throw-in to be done with a correct ball? What if play had restarted with a kick-off after the goal and THEN the referee was finally made aware that the ball was illegal? What if no one made the referee aware of the illegal ball until the match ended? Does this have to be included in the match report? Suppose the losing team became aware of the illegal ball — does this make the match protestable (did the referee “set aside a law of the game”)? We leave this for you and other readers to ponder.…


While reading your past answers to questions you said that if a player is more than 1 yd from the touch line during a throw-in it is a violation of the rules. Yet in the Fifa questions and answers 2006 their answer to the question “Is there a maximum distance away from the touch line from which a throw-in may be taken?” is No. Which is the correct answer.USSF answer (March 28, 2007):
You (and many others) have fallen under the spell of the written word, not taking into consideration the meaning behind it. The IFAB (the folks who write the Laws of the Game) and FIFA (the folks who administer the game throughout the world) do not always use precise terminology in either the Laws of the Game or the memoranda which support them. They are very fond of obfuscation, leaving lots of wiggle room to allow the referee to judge acts in their current context. That is why the answer in the Q&A has confused and misled you and others.

By saying, “No,” the Q&A tells us that no, there is no maximum distance, because there is only the single distance of one yard/meter from the correct point on the touchline from which the ball may be delivered and put back into play. Whether the exact distance of the point of putting the ball back into play is only one yard/meter from the actual place where the ball left the field is at the discretion and in the opinion of the referee. Both the discretion and opinion of the referee, as well as the referee’s determination of the distance, are traditional and accepted throughout the world.…