Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 30784

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/19/2016

RE: Junior Soccer Under 14

Martin Field of STAFFORD, United Kingdom asks...

What are the rules re 'backing in' and 'holding your ground'?

Yesterday at a game, the referee was continually giving fouls against defenders holding their ground at throw ins - when the attacker was continually and obviously backing in to them.

What are the rules please ? I admit I am not fully clear on them and would like to be able to explain the rules to my boys.


Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Martin
The key here is the likely location of the drop zone for the ball. If the ball is beyond both players and the defender hold his ground with the ball going beyond them that is holding and it will look like a foul all day long. Defenders must retreat to the ball or jump high enough to win the ball where they are stood. If in the act of jumping by the defender the forward backs in making no effort to play the ball then that is a foul for pushing using the back.
I would say that I see more fouls for players holding down opponents in such situations rather than holding ground.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee James Sowa


This is a tough question without being able to illustrate on the field. Referee McHugh makes some good points about what the defender should do to avoid the appearance of committing a foul. I would also add, that holding your ground also means that the defender is not committing any retaliatory foul such as pushing, holding, or charging. What a lot of newer and younger referees miss in this situation is the initial foul committed by the attacker forcing his way into the defender's space. Instead, the referee tends to see the push-off or holding by the defender and calls that second foul. A skilled defender will hold their ground but also be very subtle about any contact with the attacker so as to not be perceived as committing a foul.

Read other questions answered by Referee James Sowa

View Referee James Sowa profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 30784
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.