Throwing things

From a referee in Romania:

LOG USSF edition 2015/2016  writes at page no. 128: “If a player standing inside the field of play throws an object at any person standing outside the field of play, the referee restarts play with an indirect free kick from the position of the ball when play was stopped (see Law 13 – Position of free kick).”  This situation is not presented expressly in the LOG 2016/2017.  How should we handle a situation in which, for example, the goalkeeper aggressively throws the ball at a person off the field of play?


It’s always difficult to figure out what to do when there is no explicit guidance.  The best approach is to continue doing what the Law has said in the past because the prior guidance has not been specifically modified or rejected.  So, in short, continue following the prescribed restart:  an indirect free kick where the ball was when play was stopped.  However, that said, your question also raises two issues that we might usefully address.  First, why is it an indirect free kick?  Second, what does “where the ball was” mean in practice?

Although we use an indirect free kick because this is what the Law says (or said last year, as well as for many years before), it often helps to know the reason.  The Law involving thrown objects generally is based on the notion that, whenever anything is thrown, the object becomes an extension of the hand.  For example, if a player throws a rock at an opponent during play, this is considered a form of “striking” with the rock simply standing in for the fist.  Aside from the misconduct, where is the restart for this striking?  It is where the target was struck (or where the target ducked and avoided being actually hit).  It is as though the player had run up to that opponent and swung his fist.  Where the target is off the field, then, the thrown object leaving the field means that the thrower, in effect, left the field (there is, of course, still misconduct).  What is the restart if you stop play for a player who has illegally left the field?  An indirect free kick!

Now, as to the issue of the location of the restart, we come to a problem.  Wherever in the law an indirect free kick is specified as the restart and the location is not the usual “location of the offense,” the alternate location is “where the ball was when play was stopped.” (See, for example, the restart specified in Law 4 for a player re-entering the field without permission after being ordered off to correct or change equipment).  In all such cases, the location of the ball at the time of stoppage is easily determined because the ball has remained on the field.  This is true even in the case of a thrown object where the object is not the ball, but it is not true when the object is the ball and the ball has been thrown at something off the field.  Moreover, when has play actually been stopped?  Most people assume that this occurs only upon hearing a whistle but, actually, it is when the referee has decided to stop play.  In practice, though, by the time the dust settles, two things are locked in everyone’s mind — play is stopped and the ball is off the field. Since we do not restart play from off the field, we have to come up with something else — something consistent with the spirit of the Law.  Two location possibilities come to mind.  One is where the ball was last on the field when all this started and that would be where the thrown ball crossed the field’s boundary line.  The other is where the goalkeeper was when he or she launched the throw.  Either is supportable but, for various reasons, we would recommend defining “where the ball was” based on the position of the goalkeeper (it is probably the quickest to determine and the easiest to sell).


An interesting question came up the other day about a recent game in Asia and what the referee should do when a substitute, warming up behind his team’s goal, sees that his goalkeeper is down and there are no defenders nearby to stop the ball, which is rolling quickly toward the goal. The substitute enters the field of play without the referee’s permission and prevents a goal from being scored by kicking the ball away.

Any debate as to what the referee should do must center around four issues:

1. What infringements of the Law have occurred?
• The substitute has entered the field without the permission of the referee and then interfered with play by kicking away the ball heading for the goal.

2. Where the infringement involves misconduct, what kind and what card?
• Substitutes entering the field of play without permission have committed unsporting behavior, a cautionable offense. In addition, a substitute can be sent off for denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity, a sending-off offense.

3. What did the referee actually do?
• He whistled play dead, sent off the substitute, and restarted with an indirect free kick from the place where the substitute kicked the ball. While effective in dealing with the greater offense, the referee’s action was not entirely correct. Nor did the referee caution the substitute for unsporting behavior (entering the field of play without his permission).

4. With play stopped, what actions should the referee have taken, and what should have been the restart and from where?
• According to Law 12, “A player [and this includes substitutes and substituted players] who commits a cautionable or sending-off offense, either on or off the field of play, whether directed towards an opponent, a team-mate, the referee, an assistant referee or any other person, is disciplined according to the nature of the offense committed.”
• In this situation, the referee must first caution the substitute for unsporting behavior for entering the field of play without permission; that is the infringement that governs the restart. Second, the referee must send off the substitute for denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity through an act punishable by a free kick; this infringement does not figure in the restart — although it did during the game in question.
• The restart must be an indirect free kick for the initial misconduct, entering the field of play without the referee’s permission. The correct place would have been the position of the ball at the time of the stoppage (see Law 13 – Position of free kick). It would seem that an otherwise well-intentioned referee simply didn’t understand what the Law requires of him.

The place where the ball was when play was stopped would be its location at the moment the referee makes the decision to stop play, not where the ball might have ended up after the whistle was blown.


While team A is attacking, the ref blows his whistle and shows a yellow card to a player on team B. The infraction is loud dissent over a call made 5 minutes prior. When the ref whistled for play to stop, the cautioned player was 40 yards from the ball, and farther from the goal that team A was attacking.

The ref restarted play by awarding Team A an indirect kick from the spot where the cautioned player was standing when the whistle was blown.

Was the restart handled correctly? Correct spot and correct method of resuming play?

Answer (July 24, 2014):
Your answer is found in Law 12:

• An indirect free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if, in the opinion of the referee, a player:
• plays in a dangerous manner
• impedes the progress of an opponent
• prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands
• commits any other offense, not previously mentioned in Law 12, for which play is stopped to caution or send off a player

The indirect free kick is taken from the place where the offence occurred (see Law 13 – Position of free kick).

This is analogous to what happens if, during an attack on the opposing goal, the attacking team’s goalkeeper fouls one of the opposing team’s players back in the attacking team’s penalty area, no matter that it might be 80 yards down the field from where the current attack is occurring: the restart there is a penalty kick.


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.


The limitation on scoring directly from a drop ball. Can you clarify the meaning of directly in this situation. Thanks.

My confusion arises because in other free kicks (corner, IFK, DFK, GK, PK) the kicker is not able to play the ball twice. e.g. they must kick it, and they cannot dribble the ball (e.g. kick or play it twice in a row without an intervention from another player).

However, in the drop ball, a player can in fact take possesion of the ball (usually by foot since the ball must touch the ground to in play), dribble some distance, and kick the ball, without the intervention of another player without comitting a violation of the laws.

Hence, I’m trying to understand what “directly” means in the new Law 8 (Start and Restart) text for drop balls. The new law says, “If the ball enters the goal: * if a dropped ball is kicked directly into the opponents’ goal, goal kick is awarded” (Similar for own goal with a corner kick.

Is “directly” in this case ONLY the first touch or play of the ball, or is directly meant to include all initial play by a player, until the ball has been touched or play by any other player?

Thanks for clarifying the situation for me. I am a referee and a coach. Recently, as a coach, this situation nearly happened to one of my players. In her case she missed the shot wide, so the ball did not enter the goal. However, had she made the shot (off a pull back move at the drop, two quick dribbes to open space in the penalty area, and a shot with no touch from any other player), I realized that I was unsure if the goal would have counted or not had she made the shot.

As a referee, and realized I should come to understand the correct call in this case should I come to see it again. This is a new law change, and I haven’t seen any guidance in this situation.

Answer (January 8, 2013):
This year’s Law 8 on the dropped ball:

If the ball enters the goal:
• if a dropped ball is kicked directly into the opponents’ goal, a goal kick is awarded
• if a dropped ball is kicked directly into the team’s own goal, a corner kick is awarded to the opposing team

Yes, it is indeed a change in the Law, likely not noted by many people. It is an unusual change and is probably more confusing to referees, coaches, and players than necessary. Thank you for asking, and we are pleased to present the reason, straight from the International Football Association Board, as published for the IFAB by FIFA. And yes, it applies only to the first touch after the ball is in play.

FIFA Circular 1302, 31 May 2012: Amendments to the Laws of the Game — 2012/2013:

There have been a number of occasions where goals have been scored from “uncontested” dropped balls. This has put a great deal of pressure on the referee as he has to allow the goal to stand. We then have the unseemly situation where the opposition allows the team to score from the kick-off without any players trying to stop them in order to rebalance the game.

Just for the clarification of others, the dropped ball is NOT a free kick.


I was the Center referee for an A division Co-ed match. There was a through ball for the attacking team, the forward run through to dribble into the penalty area. The keeper runs out to stop the ball, and missing it completely, and collided with the attacking player and took him out of play. I was near the top of the 18 yard, and had a clear view of the contact. I signalled a penalty kick, and issued a caution to the keeper. Since, it was his 2nd caution in this match, then I proceeded to show him the red card.

The defending team started screaming and said look at your assistant referee. He is standing firm around the 25 yard line, signalling an offside.

I reversed my call to an indirect free kick for the defending team, and took back the cards.

My reasoning is that I should have looked at my assistant referee first, and blown my whistle for the offside. If I had done that, it would have avoided the contact by the keeper and the forward.

Did I make the right call ?

USSF answer (March 28, 2012):

Your decision to use the information supplied by the AR was correct. Award the indirect free kick for the goalkeeper’s team. It is possible that the goalkeeper still engaged in certain behavior, whether it was during play against an opponent or during a stoppage resulting from the offside offense, so pleases consider the following:
Misconduct is separate from the foul (unless the foul was for serious foul play or denying a goalscoring opportunity through an act punishable by a free kick). Accordingly, the second caution which resulted in a red card should not have been withdrawn SOLELY because the referee accepted the advice from the AR and declared that the stoppage was for the offside. The ‘keeper’s act itself might warrant the caution (and red) or a straight red regardless of the change in the decision. If the goalkeeper’s act was purely careless, rather than reckless (caution) or done with excessive force (send-off), then there is no need to caution the ‘keeper.


In a U10 Premier Boys game a defender stood in the goal behind the goal line at the far post on a corner kick. This team did this on every corner kick. On one of the corner kicks the goalie when up to catch the ball but dropped it into the field of play and a attacker kicked the ball to the post where the defender was standing behind the goal line. The ball struck the defender right at the goal line (The ball never complete crossed the goal line so no goal was scored) The referee allowed play to continue with no call.

My question is should this have not been deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission by the defender that left the field? Advice to referees on the laws of the game 3.9 say about accidentally passes over in the course of possession of or contesting for the ball. It looks to me that this team was using the tactic of standing in the goal area to have more time to react to a play.

What should have been the correct call.

USSF answer (March 21, 2012):
Players are not supposed to leave the field of play at a restart without the permission of the referee, other than to fetch the ball and to take the kick or the throw-in. That applies to defenders as well as the restarting team. In your scenario, if any part of the player inside the goal breaks the vertical plane of the goal line, then that player is still in and on the field of play.

If the referee knows for certain that the player has left the entire field of play (confirmed by the AR), then the player should be cautioned.


Let’s call A1 and A2 two players of Team A. A1 runs towards the opponents’ goal, but he is fouled inside the penalty area. The referee awards a penalty kick to Team A, but A1 is compelled to leave the field of play because of an injury due to the foul. He cannot return the field of play until the penalty kick is taken (‘An injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted’, Law 5, Injured players).

A2 is going to take the penalty, and the referee blows his whistle.

Before the ball is in play, A1 commits an offence (e.g. strikes the assistant referee, uses an abusive language or throws an object to a substitute/substituted player of Team B), while remaining outside the field of play.

Now, A2 kicks the ball, but the goalkeeper catches it. So, according to Law 14 (an infringement committed by a teammate of the kicker), since a goal has not been scored, referee has to stop play, and an indirect free kick from the place where the infringement occurred has to be awarded to the opposing team.

But since the offence occurred outside the field of play:
1) Where has the indirect free kick to be taken from?
2) Does the IFK become a dropped ball from the penalty mark, since the offence occurred outside the field of play?

USSF answer (January 21, 2012):
Law 14 tells us:

• After the players have taken positions in accordance with this Law, the referee signals for the penalty kick to be taken

Infringements and sanctions
If the referee gives the signal for a penalty kick to be taken and, before the ball is in play, one of the following occurs:

a team-mate of the player taking the 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

However, because the infringement occurred off the field of play there is no choice allowed by Law if the answer is to be determined by Law 14. Therefore another choice must be made to solve this conundrum.

The scenario says that A1 commits an offense “before the ball is in play” and thus the offense has occurred during a stoppage and so, despite the signal to start, play did not start… Therefore the referee must treat the kick as if it had not occurred. In this case the referee makes the decision to stop play for the offense which took place before the kick has been taken Deal with whatever A1 did (if this involves a red card, Team A plays down because A1 was a player of record, even though off the field, at the time), and then start with the original penalty kick (not a retake).


red – attacking
blue – defending
U-18 Classic play
one player from both teams were in a hard (FAIR) challenge for the ball in red’s defensive third (where both end up on the ground).
The ball, then was played all the way up to red’s attacking third (60-70 yards), i kept an eye on the players (once on the ground, now up and trotting up field) as long as i could before turning and sprinting to follow the break-away.
The blue defender was beat, red had only the keeper to beat, while ‘juking’ the keeper, blue was able to catch up just enough to put a leg in and trip red just before red scored on an empty net. No question that this was a send-off for DGF on the blue player.

I quickly run over and showed the red card to blue and send him off. I am setting up for a PK when i see my lead AR waiving his flag. As I go to him he points to a player on the ground in red’s defensive third. As I go over to the player my trail AR signals me that he needs to chat. I make sure the trainer and coach know they may ‘take care’ of the injured player, and then proceed to the trail AR. He tells me that as soon as i turned to sprint to follow play, words were spoken between the two players from the original hard challenge and that red, after the exchange of words, punched blue in the face. I asked him if this occurred before the goal or after. He said it occurred well before.

this is what i did… and my questions!!
i went to the coaches and explained that play was dead as soon as the ‘strike’ (VC) occurred; therefore, the blue player that was sent-off no longer was sent off and the card retracted, and that the red player who struck blue would be sent-off. After ‘sending back on’ blue and sending off red i restarted with a DFK for blue at the site of the punch. Even though i don’t think anyone was happy i believe my actions were correct.

Were they, and if not, what are the correct actions. I do know that before a restart a ref can change a caution to a sent off if, in reflection, he deems it necessary, but can he change a red to a yellow or a yellow (AFTER THE CARD HAS BEEN SHOWN, BUT BEFORE THE RESTART) to ‘a nothing’ just a foul?

USSF answer (May 26, 2011)
This response is based on the assumption that the trail AR actually signaled at the moment of the infringement and you agreed with the information. (More on that in the final paragraph.)

As long as there has been no intervening restart of play, the violent conduct committed by the red player takes precedence over what has gone on in the other end of the field. The restart for that foul (and serious misconduct) is a direct free kick from the place where the infringement occurred. That leaves you to deal with the action that occurred while you were unaware of the violent conduct in the other half.

There can be no denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity because the ball was technically out of play (even though you had not called it yet). The blue player is cautioned for unsporting behavior or sent off for violent conduct, according to the nature of the contact. (Yes, if there has been no restart a send-off may be converted to a a caution — or vice versa.)

Restart is as stated above, a direct free kick for blue where the original violent conduct occurred in the other half of the field.

The problem mentioned at the beginning of the answer is that if the trail AR did not in fact signal for an offense not seen by the referee, but simply tells the referee later, this makes it very difficult to rewind the action back to that point. If the AR signals and the referee agrees with the AR’s advice, thus implementing the “sequential fouls” scenario that we talk about in other documents, then all is well.


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.