A through ball is played to the vicinity of 1 attacker and 1 defender. Both players run to the ball, which the attacker gets to first. He manages to stop the ball on the goal line on the corner of the six yard box (the ball is in the penalty area), but both players momentum takes them off the field of play. When the attacker turns to try to get back onto the field, the defender grabs him, preventing him from regaining possession of the ball, which he obviously would have been able to do. This happens about 6 feet off the field. What action should the referee take in this situation?

This question came up during a referee meeting, and there were mixed opinions. Some said it should be a PK, others said IFK. There is also the question of red/yellow cards. I was just hoping to get some clarification.

USSF answer (October 4, 2011):
The defending player has held the opponent while both are off the field of play, a cautionable offense but not a foul.

• If the defender is already off the field of play and commits the offense, play is restarted with a dropped ball* from the position in which the ball was located when play was stopped, unless play was stopped inside the goal area, in which case the referee drops the ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was when play was stopped

Something else for you to consider is to “wait and see” if another attacker will get to the ball so that, despite the original attacker being held, his team could maintain the advantage – in which case, the referee could come back to the misconduct at the next stoppage.