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.…


I am having some trouble understanding the difference between these two offenses. screening I believe is when the player has the ball under control without using his hands, arms, legs or body to protect his control of the ball, if an offense has occurred the opponent is awarded a DFK.Impeding the progress, I believe would be when the ball is not under control, the player deliberately prevents the opponent from playing the ball by obstructing the shortest path to the ball, the opponent would be awarded an IFK.

If the opponent is impeded in his progress to the ball by a player using his arm, legs, hands or body (what else can a player impede and opponent with) is the opponent awarded a DFK? Thank You for your time, great web site.

USSF answer (April 10, 2007):
“Screening” is not necessarily an offense, though the word is certainly used that way by various people. To “screen” someone illegally is to block that person’s view. It is most applicable in relation to a player in an offside position “screening” the view of the opposing goalkeeper (or possibly an opposing defender).

You might perhaps mean “shielding,” which is when a player has possession of the ball and does not wish others to take it away. (This is also called “screening.”) When shielding, a player may use the body and arms to protect the ball, but the arms may not be used as tools to push the opponent away. (In other words, the player may not contact the opponent with the arms.) That would be the offense of either pushing or holding, depending on what was done.

Shielding becomes impeding when the player who is shielding the ball does not have possession and cannot establish it.

Here is a definition of impeding from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

“Impeding the progress of an opponent” means moving on the field so as to obstruct, interfere with, or block the path of an opponent. Impeding can include crossing directly in front of the opponent or running between the opponent and the ball so as to form an obstacle with the aim of delaying progress. There will be many occasions during a game when a player will come between an opponent and the ball, but in the majority of such instances, this is quite natural and fair. It is often possible for a player not playing the ball to be in the path of an opponent and still not be guilty of impeding.The offense of impeding an opponent requires that the ball not be within playing distance and that physical contact between the player and the opponent is normally absent. If physical contact occurs, the referee should, depending on the circumstances, consider instead the possibility that a charging infringement has been committed (direct free kick) or that the opponent has been fairly charged off the ball (indirect free kick, see Advice 12.22). However, nonviolent physical contact may occur while impeding the progress of an opponent if, in the opinion of the referee, this contact was an unavoidable consequence of the impeding (due, for example, to momentum).

The referee’s judgment of “playing distance” should be based on the player’s ability to play the ball, not upon any arbitrary standard.

The restart for holding or pushing is a direct free kick, taken from the spot of the offense. The restart for impeding is an indirect free kick, taken from the spot of the offense.…


Recently I was a Field Marshall at a tournament, and I have been a ref for the 10 years now (although I have been coaching for the last 5 years and have only refed 2 games in that time) … anyway, there was a handball in the penalty area near that AR’s side of the field that the ref was out of position to call, but the AR on that side clearly saw, but did not call. At half time the asst. coach of the team that did not get the call ran over and admantly opposed his “no-call”. To which the AR replied that “as an AR I am not allowed to make that call”, now unless I missed something along the way, I thought that an AR was allowed to make that call??Secondly, during PK’s in another game at that same tournament, a shot was taken that bounced off the crossbar and presumeably in (it was ruled a goal), the CR made no call but looked to the AR who simply shook his head yes …. what should have been the proper signal from the AR?

USSF answer (April 9, 2007):
1. Assistant referees do not make “calls,” they indicate to the referee that something has happened. However, they only flag for events that they are CERTAIN that the referee has not seen. In this case, the AR may have felt that the so-called deliberate handling was either trifling or that it was not deliberate at all. As to the rest, it is not our job to second guess ARs or referees, but we can certainly do as good a job from our desks as an assistant coach who has no business approaching either the AR or the referee in any situation. The assistant coach’s behavior was irresponsible, which means he or she should have been expelled from the game.

2. Your question is not quite clear. By “during PK’s” do you mean kicks from the penalty mark or a single penalty kick called during the match. If it was during KFTPM, then the AR’s mechanic was certainly within the range of what a referee may request an AR to do to indicate a good goal. If this occurred during a single penalty kick during the match, then the AR should have made eye contact with the referee; once eye contact was made, then the AR should have sprinted to his or her kick-off position.…


I was curious about restarts in indoor soccer. I once heard that all restarts are direct but I always thought it was based on the case (contact vs dangerous play etc.). Could you explain this to me?USSF answer (April 7, 2007):
The indoor rules published by USSF tell us that all indoor restarts are direct. However, at the moment, many indoor facilities have their own modifications of the Laws. You should ask if your indoor facility’s program is affiliated with the U. S. Soccer Federation before going any farther.…


During an RIII match this past weekend, the GK intentionally left the field of play while the ball was in play. While only the GK knows for sure why he left the field, it appeared it was done to re-position a spare ball which was behind his net to the side of the net but it will never be known for sure as circumstance changed while he was off the field. The opposing team won possession and took a long shot on goal presumably to take advantage of the empty net. With his teammate encouragement, the GK re-entered the field of play and picked up the ball on the second bounce just outside the 6′ box thus deny the goal as there were no other defenders inside the 18′ yard box. The Referee played on as if no infraction had occurred which seems to be an incorrect call as the GK clearly gained advantage by his actions whether or not they were intentional.It does not take a lot of presumption on the part of the Referee to appreciate the opposing team took the long shot to benefit from the GK being out of the net. As such, the GK leaving prior to and re-entering after the shot was taken gave the GK an unfair advantage which is why it is a yellow card offense in the LOTG.

The correct call seems to be a yellow for either “deliberately leaving the field of play without the Referee’s permission” or “re-entering the field of play without the Referee’s permission” with the restart being an IFK from the spot where the GK first touched the ball.

A second possibility would have been a yellow for the GK for leaving or re-entering without permission plus a second yellow followed by a red for 2 CT for the GK for Unsporting Behavior as leaving the field and re-entering to make what amounted to a save seems to qualifies as UB. Again, the restart would be an IFK from the spot where the GK first touched the ball though now the team would be playing down a player.

What is the correct call?

USSF answer (April 5, 2007):
The infringement, if such there was, is trifling and not worth considering. The goalkeeper did not leave the field to deceive anyone, nor did he return in a deceitful manner. The correct decision, made by the intelligent referee on the game, is to make no voiced call at all.…


After the final whistle, the referee notices signal from his assistant referee. The assistant referee tells the referee that before the final whistle the goalkeeper punched an oppenent inside his own penalty area. What action does the referee take?USSF answer (April 5, 2007):
If the referee accepts the information from the assistant referee, then the correct action is to send off the offending goalkeeper for violent conduct or serious foul play, whichever is appropriate (it is unclear from your question), and then extend time for a penalty kick.…


I did a search back to early 2004, went to the FIFA site, and several other sites and I can’t seem to find any definitive information. This question pertains to the time period a keeper has to release the ball. If a keeper makes a diving save and either rolls or skids across the ground, at what point does the time limit start? Granted, the keeper intentionally holding the ball would be unsportsmanlike. In the case where the momentum of the goalkeeper carries him after the save, would not the time start at the point in which the keeper has the ability to rise?USSF answer (April 3, 2007):
The ‘keeper has six seconds to release the ball into play, once he or she has established possession–and is able to put the ball into play. This means that the goalkeeper may have to right him-/herself if on the ground and then rise or be able to come to a definite stop if running when taking possession of the ball. These things take time and should not be included in the allowed six seconds. This is, of course, in the opinion of the referee, who also keeps track of time remaining in the game and exercises common sense in adding time for reasonable time lost–the same idea.

Many referees are too eager to begin counting the six seconds, as if those seconds were a magic number that could not be altered through the use of common sense. If you were to keep track of the elapsed time in goalkeeper possession in the top games around the world, you would find that goalkeepers use (and referees allow) anywhere from eight to ten seconds on average. The only time the top referees punish such infringements are when they become habitual and are clearly designed to waste time. Do not let this insignificant matter of a few seconds ruin an otherwise perfectly good game. Remember that the referee can always add time.

And to give you a reference, here is an excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

The goalkeeper has six seconds to release the ball into play once he or she has taken possession of the ball with the hands. However, this restriction is not intended to include time taken by the goalkeeper while gaining control of the ball or as a natural result of momentum. The referee should not count the seconds aloud or with hand motions. If the goalkeeper is making a reasonable effort to release the ball into play, the referee should allow the “benefit of the doubt.” Before penalizing a goalkeeper for violating this time limit, the referee should warn the goalkeeper about such actions and then should penalize the violation only if the goalkeeper continues to waste time or commits a comparable infringement again later in the match. Opposing players should not be permitted to attempt to prevent the goalkeeper from moving to release the ball into play.


Referee awards IFK for a defender playing in a dangerous manner. Let’s say 23 yards from goal. Attacking team lines up for the kick and takes it quickly. Referee fails to give correct signal for IFK. Attacking teams kick ends up in net. Obviously you cannot award the goal. What is the correct restart for this situation?If I read ATR 13.9 (2006) correctly, it does not spell out what the restart after the referee fails to signal IFK is. It does spell out what happens if the referee signals IFK when it was clearly a DFK restart. You retake the DFK. FIFA Q&A 13.6 states to retake the IFK for failure to signal correctly. This situation is clearly a referee mistake and not one by either team. Which document (Q&A or ATR) is correct?

I remember being taught that the restart is retake the IFK but I cannot find supporting documentation from USSF only FIFA Q&A. Could you please help clear this up?

USSF answer (April 3, 2007):
Let’s look at it logically. What does Advice 13.9 say?

The failure of the referee either to give the correct signal for an indirect free kick or to hold it for the required period of time does not change the nature of the restart, nor does it alter the requirement for a subsequent touch of the ball for a goal to be scored.

What does the Q&A say?

6. An indirect free kick is awarded to the attacking team outside the opponents’ penalty area. The referee fails to raise his arm to indicate that the kick is indirect and the ball is kicked directly into the goal. What action does the referee take?
“He has the free kick retaken because of the refereeÕs mistake. The initial indirect free kick, is not nullified by the referee’s mistake.”

The Q&A answer makes sense because the referee’s failure to give an IFK signal changes the dynamics of the play–the attacking team might have set up and executed the kick differently if it had known that it was an IFK instead of DFK (one presumes that the ball going directly into the net was a deliberate consequence of the team attempting successfully to achieve that result) and so the retake of the IFK restores the status ante quo. The same reasoning would apply if the referee gave an IFK signal for what should have been a DFK restart (e. g., among other consequences, it unfairly misleads the defenders into not defending against the possibility of a goal being scored directly).

There is no disconnect here and no problem. The correct solution is to have the kick retaken.…


I cant find a web site that includes the modified rules for youth soccer – e.g. substitutions – generally unlimited; allow one for one on a caution but unlimited when a player is injured etc. Everyone I ask for the modified rules in writing asks me to talk with a senior referee, however, I have to believe that somewhere they are listed.Can you help?

USSF answer (April 2, 2007):
The U. S. Youth Soccer policy manual provides:

Section 1. Except as provided by USYSA or its State Associations, the FIFA “Laws of the Game” apply to all competitions sponsored by USYSA. Players under 10 years of age may play soccer in accordance with the rules of USYSA’s Development Player Program–Modified Playing Rules for Under 10, Under 8, and Under 6.//snip//

Section 1. Except as provided by USYSA or its State Associations, substitutions shall be unlimited except where specified otherwise in the rules and regulations for a special competition.

Section 2. Substitutions may be made, with the consent of the referee, at any stoppage in play.

Some special competitions do run slightly different rules, as provided in the policy manual. For specifics on local competitions, consult with the competition authority. Following the rules of the competition will rarely get the referee in trouble.…