The following situation has been a subject of debate among a few of us here in [our state]: At the kickoff, a player rests his foot on top of the ball and rolls it forward, but then without lifting his boot from the ball rolls it backward to a team-mate behind. The question is whether this is a valid restart. On the one hand, the ball is in play because it has been touched and moves forward into the opponents’ half, and is not played twice because the ball was never released. On the other hand, the ball changes direction 180 degrees, as it would do with a second touch, thus violating the spirit of the law.

This has been happening with more frequency here in amateur league games. The first time I saw it I made the players restart and told them to forget about the ‘trickery’. I’m not sure this was correct, but it was accepted. I then brought it up in a group of very senior referees, including a national referee of longstanding. Basically everyone stood around scratching their heads, so we agreed it should be presented to you for your opinion. As a final note, on Sunday, a kickoff was taken as above, but instead of releasing the ball backwards, the player, again without releasing it, or in any other way making a second touch, brought the ball forward again into the opponents’ half (thus, I suppose, complying with the spirit of the law as well as the letter, so I let it go).

It’s probably not a big deal, but we would appreciate some guidance.

Answer (September 27, 2007):
While the procedure you describe, rolling the ball forward, etc., is not what we would allow on a free kick (see below) and certainly not what is required by Law 8, it is commonly accepted practice for kick-offs at all levels of soccer. We have seen it allowed even at the current Women’s World Cup in China and in other high-level competitions throughout the world.

The kick-off, like the throw-in, is simply a way to get the game restarted when the ball has left the field. It is, and should be, regarded as a relaxed and less tense way of doing so. We allow trifling infringements of Law 15 in this regard, and we should do the same in the case of the kick-off.

What you describe does not meet the requirements of Law 8 for a kick-off. As always, however, the issue is indeed whether the action is a violation (it is), but we must consider whether the violation should/must/needs to be handled by a stoppage and a retake of the restart. Unless the player performing the kick-off incorrectly gains some unfair benefit, we are inclined to consider the violation trifling (on par with a teammate illegally standing just over the midfield line on a kick-off to “receive” the ball). As it occurs at the very highest levels on a routine basis, you might, at most, warn the kicker that what just happened was a technical violation of the Law. However, we would recommend that you consider it trifling and punish it only if the players begin to take even greater advantage of the referee’s kindness.

If we are dealing with a free kick, the requirements of Law 13 would apply completely: When the restart of play is based on the ball being kicked and moved, the referee must ensure that the ball is indeed kicked (touched with the foot in a kicking motion) and moved (caused to go from one place to another). Being “kicked” does not, for example, include an action in which the ball is dragged by continuous contact with the foot. Being “moved” does not, for example, include the ball simply quivering, trembling, or shaking as a result of light contact. The referee must make the final decision on what is and is not “kicked and moved” based on the spirit and flow of the match. In all events, the ball must be put into play properly.…


I had two situations that arose recently, and I was hoping for some guidance.

1. Unreported Substitution Prior to Kick-Off
In a match in which teams are only allowed seven substitutions and must nominate their starters prior to kick-off, we had the following occur. Both teams were checked in and their starters were marked on their line-up. In around the 50th minute, a player reported to the fourth official to substitute when it was discovered he was one of the nominated starters. Further, he sought to replace a nominated substitute who had been participating in the match from the beginning. The FIFA Q&A directs us that we can allow the nominated substitute to continue after being cautioned and complying with the substitution procedure. However, what happens if a team chooses to rectify their “mistake” and place the appropriate starting player in to the match? Further, is the nominated substitute subsequently permitted to become a substitute later in the match?

Further, do you have any advice on how to avoid such a problem in the future? This was an amateur match in which players only had numbers on their backs and it would have been quite difficult to confirm that the appropriate players are on the field at kick-off.

2. Unobserved Player Keeping Opponent Onside
In a recent match played in hot weather, the goalkeeper kept a water bottle about one yard beyond the goal line. One of her teammates was taking a drink unnoticed by the AR when an attacker received the ball in an apparent offside position. The AR indicated as such and the referee stopped play. It was only at this time that the second defender was noticed by the AR. What is the appropriate restart? Further, assuming that the defender had no ill-intent to deceive the officials, should the referee consider any sort of sanction for misconduct against the thirsty player?

Answer (July 10, 2007):
1. The nominated substitute who started the game became the player as soon as the game kicked off and, if removed for a substitute (the original player who was not there at the beginning), may not re-enter the game (unless the rules of the competition specify otherwise). He or she is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card.

2. The appropriate restart is a dropped ball, in accordance with Law 8. If there is no reason to suspect deceit, then no punishment is required; however, the referee could decide to issue a caution for leaving the field of play without the permission of the referee.…


I was looking to get some information on the rules that are enacted when a player is down on the field. Specifically, if team A is in clear possession of the ball (for example, if team A’s goalie has the ball safely in his arms) and the referee stops the game because a player is down on the field, what is supposed to occur when the player finally gets up or is helped off the field? I saw a game where this occurred and the referee called for a drop ball at the location where the player went down (even though it was at mid field and Team A’s goalie had the ball in his box). Despite playing for over 25 years, I did not know what the rules governing this situation were and wanted to know.

Answer (June 6, 2007):
First things first: The referee should NEVER stop the game solely because “a player is down on the field.” Law 5 (The Referee) clearly states that the referee stops the game only for serious injury, not simply because a player is down. We might point out here that the definition of “serious” can vary with the age and skill levels of the players concerned.

When the referee does stop play for serious injury — and did not determine that this serious injury was caused by a foul or serious misconduct by another player — play is restarted with a dropped ball from the point where the ball was at the moment play was stopped. This applies even if the ball was in the possession of the goalkeeper. You will find this restart under Law 8 (The Start and Restart of Play):
Dropped Ball
A dropped ball is a way of restarting the match after a temporary stoppage that becomes necessary, while the ball is in play, for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game.…


Recreational Soccer League, under ENSA League Rules U9/U10, for Method of Scoring we are to Conform to FIFA Rules.

Under FIFA, Laws of the Game 2006, Law 8, A goal may be scored directly from the kick-off.

My Question: Has this rule been changed to where it does not count as a Goal?

Answer (May 31, 2007):
Here is what the youth rules for 2006-2007 tell us about U10 small-sided soccer:
Law 8 – The Start and Restart of Play: Conform to FIFA with the exception of the opponents of the team taking the kick-off are at least eight (8) yards from the ball until it is in play.

Law 10 – The Method of Scoring: Conform to FIFA.

The Addendum to the U10 small-sided rules tells us:
Law 10 Goal Scored: shall conform to FIFA and the sections concerning Winning Team and Competition Rules shall conform to US Youth Soccer guidelines.…


A question has been circulating regarding the proper restart for there being 12 players on the field. The presence of the 12th Blue player is discovered after a foul which would result in a penalty kick for Blue. It cannot be determined whether this 12th player was on the field during play, or if he entered after the foul was whistled. After the 12th player is cautioned and removed from the field, is the proper restart the PK for Blue, or an indirect kick for Red? If we knew Blue 12 was on the field prior to the foul, the answer is easy – IFK. If we knew Blue 12 came on after play was stopped, the answer is easy – PK. If we don’t know when Blue 12 came on – ??

USSF answer (May 9, 2007):
Are we talking a “12th” player or an “extra player”? This becomes crucial when determining who the person is and how to punish him or her.

The first thing for the referee and ARs to do is engage in rigorous self-examination as to the reasons this particular person got on the field in the first place. This portion of the Advice applies:

If, while the game is in progress, the referee finds that a team has more than the allowed number of persons on the field, play must be stopped and the extra person identified and removed from the field. Other than through referee error, this situation can occur only if someone enters the field illegally. The “extra player” can include an outside agent (such as a previously expelled player or a spectator); a player who had been given permission to leave or been ordered off by the referee for correction of a problem, but re-entered without permission; or a substitute or substituted player who enters without permission and/or during play. In all competitions, especially those that allow substituted players to return, the officials must be extremely vigilant in counting the number of players who leave and substitutes who enter to prevent problems of this nature. Similarly, players off the field temporarily who require the permission of the referee to re-enter must be monitored to ensure that they do not participate in play until this requirement and any others (e. g., inspection to confirm the correction of the equipment or bleeding problem) are met.

The second thing to do is to determine which sort of person this “player” is: player, substitute or substituted player, or outside agent (spectator or team official or player sent off earlier, etc.). If it is a player or a substitute/substituted player who entered, the referee must caution the extra “player” for entering the field of play without the referee’s permission (if a player) or unsporting behavior (if a substitute/substituted player).

The third thing to do is decide on the correct restart. This depends on the answer to the second question (who illegally entered) and on when the person entered.

If the person entered during the stoppage, then the restart stays the same regardless of who the person is and regardless of what you do to him. The basic principle here is that nothing happening during a stoppage changes the restart. In other words, the penalty kick.

If the person entered prior to the stoppage, then the restart is a dropped ball where the ball was if the person was an outside agent or an indirect free kick where the ball was if the person was a player off the field who needed the referee’s permission to re-enter, a substitute, or a substituted player. In other words, the penalty kick is canceled and, if it is an indirect free kick restart instead of a dropped ball, the restart is given to the team opposed to the player, substitute, or substituted player who illegally entered.

Unfortunately, the scenario you offered included the fact that no official knew for sure if the person who was illegally on the field entered before the stoppage or during the stoppage. Since knowing this is an important element in deciding the correct restart, all the Law can do is advise you to DECIDE based on the best evidence available plus what seems FAIR to the teams and the game. We cannot tell you anything more than this because the problem as you describe it has no solution under the Law. Referees face this sort of thing all the time and we manage to survive. Make the decision and get on with the game (and don’t obsess about it afterward, except to resolve to do better).…


Recently a story was related to me about a dispute between a referee and a coach who felt victimized by a referee’s interpretation of law 8. The official allowed a kick-off, according to the coach, even though the side restarting play had a player run well into the opponent’s end of the field between the time the ref blew his whistle and the the time the kick was taken. That player eventually scored a crucial goal.
The official purportedly acknowledged this and justified his non-call for a re-take of the kick-off on the basis that there’s no law saying the player crossing into his opponent’s end had to wait for the ball to be put in play. In checking law 8, I read that the kick-off procedure is:
* all players are in their own half of the field
* the opponents of the team taking the kick-off are at least 10 yds. from the ball until it is in play
* the ball is stationary on the center mark
* the referee gives a signal
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward

While the law seems to suggest that players STAY in their own half of the field until the ball is put in play, it in fact doesn’t state that. However, if players are allowed (as referees sometimes appear to allow them) to run significant paces ahead of any initial play on the ball after the whistle to begin play is blown, is that what the law was meant to allow? I see nothing in the “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” or elsewhere for the guidance I am requesting from you.

USSF answer (May 3, 2007):
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. That forward motion may be only slight, but it must occur. That’s the Law.

Custom seems to be a bit more laissez faire, with the player who is to receive the kick-off normally a step or two into the other team’s half. Despite being counter to the Law, this is accepted practice throughout the world.

Occasionally one will see other players immediately flying down the field at the moment the referee gives a signal (usually the whistle) and the kicker approaches the ball. While this is done, it is counter to the Law and is NOT accepted practice. Lazy referees will not punish it. Intelligent referees will.…


I observed an interesting situation last weekend. At the start of the second half, the ref counted players and somehow missed the 12th on Team B. Team A kicks off and immediately loses the ball. Team B takes it in and scores in the first few seconds. To the ref’s credit, he senses something is amiss and begins to count players. Team A’s coach picks up on this and and starts screaming “No goal! Too many players!” The ref goes to both coaches and says something. He then waves off the goal and restarts the second half. We found out later he told the coaches his watch had not started so he just restarted the 2nd half, disallowing the goal. Interesting way to solve a problem, but is it correct?

USSF answer (April 30, 2007):
A very creative solution, but, despite demonstrating the referee’s ability to think outside the box, it was not quite correct.

We supplied this answer last December. It is still valid:
USSF answer (December 12, 2006):
In all cases the extra player is removed and cautioned (unless an outside agent) for unsporting behavior.

If the extra player is discovered only after the ball has been kicked off, the goal counts. The game is restarted in accordance with the Law–i. e., if it went out of play, the restart is a throw-in, corner kick, goal kick, or free kick, depending on the reason the ball was out of play. If the referee stopped play, it is an indirect free kick from the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.

If the extra player is discovered BEFORE the kick-off, the goal is canceled only if the extra player was on the scoring team or if the extra person was an outside agent who, in the opinion of the referee, did not in any way interfere with play or any player. The restart is determined by who the extra “player” was. If it was an outside agent–not a player or a substitute or substituted player–the restart is a dropped ball at the top of the defending team’s goal area. If it was a player who had left the game with the referee’s permission but re-entered without permission , the restart is an indirect free kick for the defending team, to be taken from within their goal area. If it was a substitute who had entered without the referee’s permission, the restart is an indirect free kick to be taken from the defending team’s goal area.…


Simple question: once the ball has gone out of play (for a GK, CK, TI), can the restart be changed based on information the referee received *after* the ball went out of play? I know that if the ref decides to make a call, and the ball goes out of play before he blows the whistle, he can still make the call and award the proper restart for the call. Here’s an example:Ball goes out of play for a TI. Before the ball is thrown in, the referee looks at the trail AR, who raises his flag after eye contact is made. The ref holds the TI and goes to confer with the AR, who tells him that a foul was committed before the ball left the field of play.

Can the referee change the restart from a TI, since play was not restarted? Or does the fact that the ball went out of play *before* the ref was aware of the foul mean the ref can’t call the ball back onto the field for a kick?

USSF answer (April 19, 2007):
As long as the referee has not restarted play, any restart may be changed, particularly corrected restarts based on information from the assistant referee.

See Advice 5.14:

If the referee awards a restart for the wrong team and realizes the mistake before the restart is taken, then the restart may be corrected even though the decision was announced after the restart took place. This is based on the established principle that the referee’s initial decision takes precedence over subsequent action. The visual and verbal announcement of the decision after the restart has already occurred is well within the Spirit of the Law, provided the decision was made before the restart took place.


Does the ball need to be stationary in the goal area before it can be kicked? A parent on my team said that she witnessed in a game that her daughter was refereeing a keeper that was rolling the ball out and a defender kicking the ball into play while the ball was still moving in the goal area.ÂI have looked this question up in “Advice to Referees”, “FIFA Laws of the Game” and the 2006 question and answers and cannot find in any of these publications that the ball has to be stationary only that it has to be on the ground in the goal area.

USSF answer (April 11, 2007):
The fact that the ball is stationary at a goal kick is one of those things that the makers of the Laws, the International F. A. Board (IFAB), have left out, because they assume that “everyone knows” that the ball must be stationary. (In fact, if you had been watching one of the EPL games yesterday on Fox Soccer Channel, you would have seen the referee make the kicking team take a goal kick again, simply because the goalkeeper had kicked the ball while it was still moving.)

Here is an answer we gave back on September 26, 2005 that explains the technicalities of the matter:
An excellent question. Nowhere does it state specifically that the ball must be stationary for goal kicks, but it is implied in Law 17 for corner kicks (and in Law 14 for penalty kicks). The specific statements in Laws 8 and 13 that the ball be stationary for the start and restart of play and free kicks also imply that the ball must be stationary for all kick restarts. (Note: This answer was first published on July 9, 2001. Nothing has changed since that time.)

Law 8
* the ball is stationary on the center mark
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward


Law 13

Types of Free Kicks
For both direct and indirect free kicks, the ball must be stationary when the kick is taken and the kicker does not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player.

Law 14
Position of the Ball and the Players
The ball:
* is placed on the penalty mark

Law 16
* the ball is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team
[the inference here being that if the ball was at “any point” it was stationary, but you could probably argue that one either way]

Law 17
* the ball is placed inside the corner arc at the nearest corner flagpost
[the inference here (and in Law 14) is that if the ball is “placed,” it is stationary]
* the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves

In all cases of a kick restart, the ball must be stationary before being kicked. It is not in play until it has been kicked and moves (forward in the case of kick-off and penalty kick).…


During course of play, a player from Team A slides into player from Team B and is hurt. Referee allows play to continue for 5 seconds until he determines that the player is not getting up. Team A has ball in their possession when Referee stops play and stops the clock. He calls out that Team A will re-start play with indirect kick from where they had the ball in their possession.The teams clear the field while the injured player is attended to. During break, Referee confers with Assistant Referee and determines that the injured player deserved a Yellow Card for sliding into the play with spikes up from behind. So, after the injured player is carried off the field, Referee goes to Team A’s bench and gives the player a Yellow Card.

Team A re-starts play with indirect free kick which is played behind Team B’s defense and Team A scores immediately.

Coach from Team B is upset. After the goal is scored but before the kick-off, he asks two questions of the Referee:
1) If you stop play for injury, shouldn’t the game have been re-started with drop ball? 2) If referee gave a yellow card to Team A, how could Team A restart play with indirect free kick? Shouldn’t Team B have received possession of ball at the point of the foul?

If Coach from Team B is correct on either of these points, is there anything that can be done or is it too late?

Referee determined that he may or may not have made an error but it didn’t matter because it was too late.

What is your opinion?

USSF answer (April 10, 2007):
If the referee was aware of the misconduct, applied advantage, and waited for the next stoppage (which happened to be the injury), the restart should have been a DB.

If the referee decides that the reason (determined after the fact) for the stoppage was NOT the injury but previously missed misconduct by Player A that had happened before the injury but which was brought to his attention ex post facto by the AR, then the proper restart should have been an IFK for team B.

If, as really should have been the case, the referee recognized that the misconduct was serious, then the card should have been red and the restart would still have been an IFK for team B.

If the referee had been totally on top of things and recognized that the red card misconduct was the result of a foul which endangered the safety of an opponent, then the restart should have been a DFK for team B.

There is no scenario here under The Laws of the Game which could result in an IFK for team A.…