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: 32495

Law 9 - The Ball in and out of Play 6/7/2018

RE: Rec Adult

John of Palo Alto, California United States asks...

What is the rule on a referee reversing his decision. The scenario was as follows:

One team plays the ball into the attacking box where 2 players from their team were waiting. As one is shooting, the referee blows his whistle for offsides. The goalie lets the ball go and it goes into the goal. The referee then determines that the player who kicked the ball was not in the offside position, the other forward was, and since the other forward was not part of the play, he incorrectly blew his whistle. His final decision, then, was that the play resulted in a goal, since the ball entered the net.

I understand that referees can be wrong, and I do think that in the end, he made the right decision that the player who shot it was not actually offsides. But, how can he award the play as a goal, given the goalie stopped playing once the whistle was blown. That is what we were all taught from when we were little 'Play until you hear the whistle.'


Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI John,
spot on mate!
you are 100% correct!
The referee in a decision error blew his whistle to STOP play.

The fact he was WRONG to do so does NOT change that fact that play was stopped the moment the referee chose to do so.

A whistle is used as a 100% recognized signal to STOP play and the old adage you quoted is repeated here on this site time and time again! PLAY TO THE WHISTLE!

The referee has erred in law by awarding goal when play was stopped. As such the game can be protested. Although there is often time limits and fees involved it is possible the organization could order to have the match replayed?

The key point here is what does the referee say in the match report?
He could say the ball had completely crossed the goal line under the crossbar between the posts before he blew the whistle.

You would see it as a lie but it as a fact of play recorded by the referee justifies allowing the goal. The correct restart is a drop ball for an inadvertent whistle. Possibly with a heartfelt apology by the referee

I am still surprised as a former keeper he let the ball go by. I would be on auto pilot to stop it.


Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi John
The referee was incorrect here. When he signaled with the whistle then play was stopped thrn nothing that happened after that could be considered / allowed. What he should have done was apologised for the error, his erroneous whistle and restarted with a dropped ball.
This is covered in Law 9 which is one of the shortest laws. It states that the ball is out of play when
# it has wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the air
# play has been stopped by the referee.
In this instance play has been stopped by the referee with a whistle signal so a goal 'cannot' be awarded.
I had that experience many years ago of blowing a tad early just as a kick was being made by a player that I did not see to my left after a foul by the goalkeeper. I would say the whistle had just sounded as the ball was sailing into the open net. The foul had just been committed by the goalkeeper so my focus was on that DOGSO challenge. The goalkeeper was injured which gave me a little time to think. I told the conceding team that I might award the goal or go with a penalty kick and a red card for a foul by the goalkeeper. Clearly not correct in Law and not done under any scrutiny so the conceding captain agreed that the goal was the *best* decision for the game. One player started to complain about the whistle and his captain promptly interrupted him to say that it was a goal.
Now in Law I had stopped the game a fraction early so no possible further play was allowed under Law 9. It is explained nicely in this video by Referee Hauge.
Referee Hauge would have been only too delighted to be have been able to ignore his whistle, award the goal yet he had no option but to go with the foul and the red card as play had been stopped. The whistle made no difference to the subsequent play yet that does not matter as play was already stopped.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 32495
Read other Q & A regarding Law 9 - The Ball in and out of Play

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.