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Question Number: 24437

Law 2 - The Ball 12/23/2010

Al Dugan of Belmar , NJ USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 24432

Did the referees who allowed that goal to stand when the attackers happened to pick up a ball from a team warming up and threw that back into play actually think about the question before answering?

There is NO WAY you should allow that to happen unless it has been available all game to both teams. To suddenly allow a team to pick up a ball (from a team warming up, no less) and throw that into play is beyond unfair. And what condition was that ball in? Was it the right size?

Stupid refereeing and really awful advice from those who say to allow the play to continue. I would file a protest in a heartbeat, and I think at worst you would get an apology from the cometition committee. Bad job, guys.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Al
From where I come from a ball is a ball and players get on with the game. In all my years I have never been questioned about the game starting with a ball in this fashion and it has happened with player picking up a ball that is at the side of the field of play. Sometimes I look and say "Geez that ball looks poor". I've had moans after a short while about the quality of the ball and requests for a change which is always agreed to when the match ball is retrieved. Some players don't want to play with a premier league ball because they don't like the way it plays but it is legal and probably more so than some of the balls that are used. I have a pressure gauge and I have pumped the match ball up to the required pressure on many occasions to find that the players don't like the 'feel' of the ball and very soon its is 'ignored' by both sides in favour of another ball. Indeed in many parts of the world players don't have the luxury of such a 'quality' ball
One of the problems with the modern game is that protests are order of the day, player questioning trifling decisions and the game not played in the spirit of the game. Perhaps the team kicked the ball away into the next parish in order to use up time with the two other balls not available. Who knows. What if there were a series of delays to do with the balls? Say the ball instead of being tapped out over the line from a yard away is intentionally hoofed a considerable distance away? What were the defenders doing? Did they think that as one ball was 'gone' that play could not restart? Perhaps it already happened in the game and why would it not be available to both teams? Perhaps the players that were warming up were using a match ball that was at the side of the field of play. The point is that the defenders should not stop concentrating and if I was their coach they would be berated for switching off in this fashion.
Finally I have sat on appeals committees in my area and if this came in it would be laughed out of court. Indeed I doubt it would even get that far.
However as I have said on many occasion the referee on the day is the sole authority. This referee allowed play to continue and I don't have any problem with his decision. If another referee wants to stop play to wait for the return of the match ball then that is fine as well. I however would have no hesitation in allowing the goal at this level and I would not have any complaints from the conceding team.

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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy

Al, if we were to play the game with every minutest part 100% correct all the time we would not have a game at all. Furthermore, the referee who gets everything right ALL the time has not been born yet.
I think common sense won on that day when a ball was used from the sidelines. We don't need a New Jersey lawyer to start litigation whether the ball's circumference was more than 70 cm or less than 68 cm by a mm, or weighed a milligram less than 410 gm. For your information, most games are played with balls with less than 600 gm/cm2 pressure. But even if it was established that the game was played with a ball with lower pressure than the Laws require, do you really think a protest would stand? Of course not.
I have seen World Cup games where a second ball inadvertently entered the field of play during active play but play continued. Was it 100% correct? No. Was it a good common sense decision? Yes, because it did not interfere with the game.
I would not miss a heartbeat and say that it was sensible, not stupid reffing to use a nearby ball in the example you bing up. It was not correct, just sensible.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

First, many of us said that we would ensure the ball was correct for the game, either before the throw or at the next stoppage - which in this case would have been the goal.

Further, players should be paying attention to what is going on. It's their own fault if they miss seeing an opponent with a ball ready to start play.

And finally, this would be a decision of the referee on facts of the game that is not subject to protest. This is not a misapplication of the Laws. The referee would only need to state that the required number of players were on the field and that in his estimation the ball met the requirements. But feel free to file your protest; the league can probably use the fee.

If a ball supplied by the competition authority is required for play, we'd have far more games that weren't played when that official ball was forgotten. That's not what the league wants to see - cancelling a game when a perfectly fine ball is available. If the original game ball could not be found in the bushes, do we abandon the game?

While the opportunistic thrower may have caught his opponents off-guard, there is nothing in the Laws that would prohibit it. It might not be the smartest thing to allow, but if allowed, it is legal.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Hi Al. As you know, I'm in the minority here as I would have blown my whistle and stopped play if events truly transpired as were described in the original question.

At youth level play,, which this question dealt with, it's commonplace to have 2-3 extra balls lying around near the halfway line off the field of play a few yards. Indeed, at every youth game I have ever refereed, I have the home team give me a minimum of 3 balls before the game to inspect and approve. It's to avoid situations like this.

Ref Maloney brought up a good point when answering the original question. What was the referee doing? Was he/she watching the thrower? If so, perhaps the referee thought the player picked up one of the balls the home team provided before the game and that's why play was allowed to continue. The original question assumed everyone knew the ball was not approved and in fact, the ball was not even owned by either of the participating teams. I doubt that is true. I find it far more likely the referee believed the ball was one of the approved ones provided by the home team.

We also don't know how throw-in restarts had been handled at this game. Most youth fields are crammed together. The ones I commonly work have creeks within 25 yards and the ball is often kicked into a creek. That's why we have multiple balls put out before the game starts. Something critical to answering this question that we don't know. is who was retrieving the ball? Usually, the team taking the restart has one of their players chase it. Sometimes a player on the other team chases it and sometimes a non-player chases it. If a player from either team was chasing the ball then absolutely play should have been delayed until it was clear everybody was ready. I think we would all agree with that. We also don't know if the referee was even watching what was going on or what signals he had given.

Ultimately it's the responsibility of the referee to ensure fair play. If he felt the ball was a preapproved ball, if he had made no indication that play should be halted until he signalled, if previously teams picked a ball up and restarted, then he should not have prevented the attackers from taking a quick restart. All players should be ready to play and the coach should have had his defending team more alert. It would be interesting to know if the referee blew his whistle when the ball went out of play. The whistle is not required to stop or start play at a throw-in. If he blew the whistle when the ball went out of play, one would think he would have blown the whistle to restart. Some have suggested the team that kicked the ball out did so on purpose to delay. This happens all the time at youth play and when it does, the referee should simply tell the coach time is being added. This will stop this practice instantly.

All this aside, just from the question, I got the impression that everyone knew the proper ball was being retrieved and the attackers picked up a non-approved ball. If that's the case, I stand by my answer that play should have been halted. If it's apparent that one team is ready and another is not, and it's youth play, we wait until everyone is ready. At higher levels of play, I don't think this could have happened as there are no adjoining fields and another team would not have been warming up

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

My, we are quick to judge on a paucity of facts, friend!

Since none of us have the referee's side of this, your response made some rather alarming assumptions and jumped to some rather crude conclusions.

It is interesting that the original question noted there were 3 official balls - for a B16 game, no less. Makes me a bit suspicious. Perhaps it was just a made-up scenario. If there were 3 official balls, the referee must not have had a fourth official in charge of balls, or he would have known the 'retrieved' ball was not an official ball, or conversely he thought it was one of the official balls - already inspected - and thus allowed play to continue and the goal to count. Or maybe he didn't see the need to make a mountain out of a molehill?

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