Please clarify that kicking the ball for a corner kick it is ok to kick with the bottom of your boot.

Answer (March 8, 2014):
Yes, the kicker may use the bottom of the foot as long as he has played the ball in a kicking motion. The referee needs to use common sense and apply practices currently accepted in modern soccer, no matter how much these may differ from what we have learned and applied in the past. On any free kick, whether direct or indirect, the Law is clear: The ball must be moved a minimum distance with the foot, preferably in a kicking motion. In many cases, this means that the ball may be stepped on, although it still must move some minimum distance. If the referee does not see some minimal movement on the initial kick, then the ball is not yet in play and the kick must be taken correctly.…


Team A gets a penalty in their favour and allows their keeper to take it. Team B now gets the ball to the centre, everyone in their respected halves, touches the ball, shoots immediately and scores before the Team A’s keeper reaches back in his post.

My question is, does the referee have to check with both goalies before blowing the whistle to resume play?

My answer: (May 5, 2012):

No, the referee need not check with either goalkeeper at ANY restart.

Interestingly, nothing is said in the scenario about the referee whistling to signal that the kick-off could be taken. There is no requirement in the Laws of the Game that the referee check with the goalkeepers to see if they are ready. Failing that, and given that the kick-off is always ceremonial, it falls entirely to the referee to determine when the kick-off can occur, subject only to the requirements of the Law that each team must be in its respective half of the field. The referee is empowered to allow a corner kick (or a throw-in) to be taken even though the ‘keeper has not returned to the field of play, so there is no reason to assume that the goalkeeper, in his joy at scoring, should not return to his normal kick-off position for the KO to take place.

However, in a different situation, it is customary (but not required by the Laws) to allow players who have been substituted in for other players to reach their normal positions before any restart. This would be especially true of the goalkeeper.

To illustrate the first point, observe this videoclip (…


I am curious about the kickoff in EPL and other leagues.
Fifa rules say the winner of the coin toss has to decide the side and
the looser has kickoff.
Now it looks like in EPL the winner can decide if he wants to choose
the side or take kickoff.

How is it possible that EPL rules differ to Fifa rules?

And do you know how this is handled in foreign leagues?

USSF answer (February 20, 2012):
Law 8 is clear on who takes the kick-off and we cannot imagine that the EPL has received permission to do it wrong.

Before a kick-off at the start of the match or extra time
* a coin is tossed and the team that wins the toss decides which goal it will attack in the first half of the match.
* the other team takes the kick-off to start the match.
* the team that wins the toss takes the kick-off to start the second half of the match.
* in the second half of the match, the teams change ends and attack the opposite goals.

We are not aware of any countries that do such a thing.…


I was the CR in a game today that was un-eventful except for one thing. I had trouble getting one team back on the field after halftime.

After the halftime, I blew the whistle to summon the teams to the field for the 2nd half. The blue team came out and lined up for the kick-off (they were to take the kick-off to open the half). The red team didn’t move. This is not unusual, so I waited about 30 seconds and blew the whistle again. Still the red team didn’t come out of their huddle.

I waited another 30 seconds and one of the blue players joked that I should just start the game without them. I blew the whistle AGAIN and summoned the captain BY NAME and the coach BY NAME to send out the team and got NO response.

After another few seconds I blew the whistle a FORTH TIME and the red team finally got up, did their little pre-game “HOO-Rah” cheer and took the field.

I considered this an unacceptable delay. Law 12 states I must issue a yellow card for “delaying the restart of play.”

1) Would I be justified in issuing the Yellow Card to the Captain?

2) As odd as this question is, is there something in “the laws” that would prevent the Referee from starting the game without the Red team ON THE FIELD? Law 3 DOESN’T say the teams must be ON the field and they had ignored 3 requests to get on the field?

USSF answer (February 20, 2012):
Both teams must come out as quickly as possible for the start of a period of play when the referee indicates that the time has arrived. Matches are scheduled to begin at a particular time and for a specified amount of time (depending on the rules of the competition). The Laws also provide that players are entitled to an interval at halftime (must be stated in the competition rules, but may not exceed 15 minutes), which can be altered only with the consent of the referee, not by the coach or other officials of one or both teams. In other words, the teams should make good use of their halftime break and be prepared to come out at the referee’s signal.

If the team does not come out to play when ordered by the referee, that team is in violation of the Laws of the Game and the coach and other team officials can be removed for irresponsible behavior in accordance with Law 5.

Despite having that power, the referee should behave proactively and remind the team that the allotted time has passed and encourage them to come out before applying any draconian measures.

All of which leaves the ultimate question — what if they still don’t come out? Certainly, the coach and other team officials can be ordered away for behaving irresponsibly. As for the players (i.e., persons on the field at the end of the first half) could be cautioned for delaying the restart of play (after appropriate warnings, entreaties, etc.), but at some point this has to stop. Simply abandon the match for having fewer than the minimum number of players required to start/restart/continue play based on the rules of competition and include full details in the match report.…


I was watching the below clip from a professional match. The referee restarted play with a drop ball. The red team expected the white team to kick the ball back to them because the red team had the ball before played was stopped. Instead, the white player took the ball and went on to score despite the protests. The referee went on to send off the scorer. I’m assuming it was for unsporting behavior (and hopefully that was his second yellow card and not a straight red).

So I have a few questions. Can you caution a player for unsporting behavior because they refuse to play “fair play” at a drop ball? If so, does the goal still count and what is the proper restart? Also, what punishment if any do the red players get for confronting the scorer and attempting to trip him?


USSF answer (December 16, 2011):
The answers to your questions in the order in which they were asked:
1. No, although the referee might have detected some separate misconduct by the white player that we non-Lusophone (Portuguese or Brazilian) speakers are unable to comprehend from the match commentary. Lacking an understanding of the language, we can say only that there is absolutely no requirement under the Laws of the Game that the white player surrender the ball to the red team.
2. If some misconduct by the white player was detected, then no, the goal does not count; the proper restart would be an indirect free kick from the place where the misconduct occurred.
3. If the referee applied the advantage for these attempted trips, then there is no punishment necessary.…


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.…


Here is the situation: Red team is attacking just outside the penalty box when a red player try to hit the ball to goal,but it missed and in doing so, his shoe went flying straight to the goalkeeper face. At almost the same time, another red player hit the ball and was going straight to the net, but because the goalkeeper was busy protecting himself from the flying shoe,he lost track of the ball and the ball just past next to him and went inside the net. It was an easy stoppable shot. The ref,as soon as he saw the flying shoe,stop the play,barely before the ball hit the net…The reason? according to him, was interfering with play, and also a strange object in the field.. the goal was not allowed,and the game resumed with a ball dropped. Was he correct? Please clarify…Tanks.

USSF answer (September 28, 2011):
The referee was correct in not allowing the goal, as the Red player “threw” an object at the goalkeeper when the shoe went flying from the foot toward the ‘keeper’s face. It might be stretching the Law a bit to call it “interfering,” but the referee certainly exercised good sense in stopping play and restarting play with a dropped ball (for restarts not covered elsewhere in the Law). However, notice that we do not suggest that the Red player might be sent off for violent conduct.…


At a kick-off, a player is straddling the halfway line (or, more dramatically, has one foot on the line and the other in the opponent’s half). Referee did not call an infringement or foul of any kind, trifling or otherwise.

My Background: Law 8 doesn’t say that a player can’t be in the opponent’s half, only that he must be in his own half. It seems to me that when the Laws say “outside”, they mean “completely outside, and not on, over, or above the line”. My interpretation of “inside” would be “any part of the head, torso, legs, or feet on, over, or above the line”.

I believe the referee’s decision was correct, but a colleague (a referee instructor) said that, for the purposes of Law 8, a player is not in his half if any part of him can be considered to be in the opponent’s half, thus any player having his head, torso, leg, or foot on, over, or above the line violates the Law, and the referee must either order the kick-off retaken or adjudicate the infraction as trifling and let play continue.

Question: At kick-off, is a player considered to have “gained the line” (to borrow an ice-hockey term) in the scenario above? More specifically, we both agreed that play should continue in the scenario, but disagreed as to whether it is a trifling infringement (ATR 5.5) or no offense.

USSF answer (September 15, 2011):
Yes, ALL players are expected to remain in their own half of the field until the ball is in play. Being in play means that the ball has been kicked and moved forward, even if that forward motion may be only slight. Custom seems to be a bit more laissez faire, with the player who is to receive the kick-off normally a short step or two into the other team’s half. Despite being counter to the Law, this is accepted practice throughout the world.

In most cases, the offense, if any, is TRIFLING, particularly when the teammate of the kicker is slightly or even mostly over the line by a step or so and this is the player who is going to “receive” the ball from the kick-off. However, a player who is more than a brief step or so over the halfway line should be instructed to return to his own side of the halfway line.…


This situation occurred in an Over 30 match involving my club. The referee blew the halftime whistle at 38 minutes, according to my watch. When my captain asked the referee about the shortened half, the referee insisted that it had been 45 minutes. OK, that’s that, you can’t win an argument like that, so you move on. When the teams were ready to take the field to begin the second half, the referee announced that he had inadvertently shortened the first half by five minutes. He said that he would make up the lost time as follows:

1.He instructed the teams to set up for a kickoff as they did to start the match.

2.They would play five minutes.

3.He would blow the whistle at five minutes and the teams would change ends and play 45 minutes in the second half.

Everyone involved was confused, but nobody knew enough to dispute his remedy. None of this sounds like the correct protocol for this situation. Any help would be appreciated.

USSF answer (August 3, 2011):
According to the Laws of the Game, the referee must not compensate for a timekeeping error during the first half by increasing or reducing the length of the second half. So far, so good. Unfortunately, your referee handled the situation incorrectly. The amount of time remaining the first half should have been played, as the referee finally came to realize, but the correct restart would have been for the reason the ball was out of play when the referee stopped the game short. If the ball was off the field, then the game should have been restarted for the reason the ball had left the field. If it was in play, then the correct restart would be a dropped ball at the place where it was when the referee stopped play. If any time is lost during the remaining amount of time, then the referee must also add that time.…


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.…