There is a huge discussion on SOCREF about a goal that was scored as follows: The attacker beats the keeper and dribbles toward an open goal; then stops the ball, goes to the ground and with his head rolls the ball into the goal. The question is, if the referee deems this action a misconduct (USB), can the goal be allowed since it preceded the ball entering the goal? In other words, can the referee allow the goal but caution the player after the goal is scored? Some senior referees believe that the goal ought to be allowed. If that is true, then I am at a loss as to why such a goal is allowed even though the culprit violated LAW12 *before* the ball entered the goal.

USSF answer (January 16, 2012):
We first answered this question back on September 19, 2001, when it was posted on the very same SOCREF-L to stop another “huge discussion.” Here is the correct answer to the question:

Please try to understand how the Laws of the Game work, particularly with regard to infringements of Law 12. The final bullet point under Law 12, Indirect Free Kick states:

• commits any other offense, not previously mentioned in Law 12, for which play is stopped to caution or dismiss a player

The indirect free kick is taken from where the offense occurred (see Law 13 – Position of Free Kick).

The player who gets down on his hands and knees and heads the ball into the opponents’ goal is taunting them and committing unsporting behavior. There is no other possible (rational) explanation for such behavior, and the only course of action open to you is to stop play, caution and show the yellow card. The restart is as described in Law 12.

Play ceases immediately a player commits such an offense, which, in the case we are considering, is unsporting behavior for his taunting of the opposing team. Therefore, no goal has been scored, nor can it be scored, because the offense was committed before the ball entered the goal.

This information comes to us from the International F. A. Board, the folks who write the Laws of the Game. No matter how “unfair” some people may think it may be, it is the Law, and there is no way, creative or otherwise, around it. Play ceases as soon as you, the referee, have made the decision that an infringement has occurred, whether or not you have signaled that decision to the world. If you choose not to make that decision in this case, then you are violating both the letter and the spirit of the Law.