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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 32606

Law 13 - Free Kicks 7/26/2018

RE: competitive, High school and amature High School

Jeanne Turner of Mount Shasta, CA United States asks...

My Referee organization has conflicting information about the term 'kicked'.. one instructor says the ball must be 'struck' by the foot an other says the ball my be 'rolled' by the foot.. just so long as the ball moves out of it 'foot print'. We need a clear answer PLEASE...

Jeanne, Instructor and State Referee

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Jeanne,
the clarification of kicked is one that is only an issue with those that do not recognize the ball movement. What clouds the issue is the restart placement when players stand on the ball and then position that ball using the foot or step on and off to indicate the first touch on an indfk. What I think is misunderstood is a tap of the foot on top or step on & off is not considered a kicking action though the ball might wobble or be compressed. The Ball can be kicked with any portion of the foot including the sole to push or roll it forward or the toe to lift the ball into the air. The rolling action where the foot remains in contact is not unlike the lifting action flicking the ball into the air where the foot begins contact and the ball does not immediately bounce off. High school has its own rules but interpretation should be if the two teams are accepting the movement do not look to interfere. Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jeanne
There is only one restart where it makes a difference and that is an indirect feee kick.
So the NFHS rules tell us that tapping the ball on top or stepping on the ball is not sufficient to put the ball in play.
We can take it from that definition that a foot roll of clearly moving the ball is a kick. A foot roll is a kick in that the action at the moment of the release of the foot is deemed a kick as the ball moves. So both instructors are saying the same thing. What they both agree on is that a tsp or step on top is not a kick.
If a player does a foot roll and the ball clearly moves with the foot released from the ball which is interpreted by the opponents as a kick putting the ball in play with subsequent movement towards the ball then the referee could take that as legal.
Another point is context. Have a look at this video
Ryan Giggs of Manchester United never used his hands to place the ball. In this video he uses a foot roll to place the ball. Clearly we know that it is not a kick to put the ball in play. However if the ball was at rest, everyone is ready, the whistle sounds and this foot roll action is made then the ball is clearly put in play.
Have a look at this video
Had there been a foot roll on the ball at the free kick would there have been any furore? None as player players would have seen that the ball was kicked and moved.
On an indirect free kick I would just tell players in a scoring position that the ball must be kicked and clearly moved to be put in play
I hope that helps.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


In high school play, there must be movement of the lower leg to the ball and the ball has to move away from the lower leg or foot. As indicated by Ref McHugh, tapping of the ball on top or stepping on the ball is not sufficient and the ball is not in play.

My concern about rolling the ball is that rolling could be a second touch if the foot or lower leg stays in contact with the ball. Because of this, I would say that the ball has to be clearly away from the foot or lower leg after the first contact..

An example of a lower leg kick foul would be a kick back to a player's goalkeeper where the goalkeeper handles the ball. The ball is kicked (lower leg movement) but the ball comes off the lower leg rather than the foot.

I hope you have a very successful high school season.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jeanne,
As far as I am aware, NFHS Rules do not have a definition of the term 'kicked.' So I suppose that it is an area where the referee is allowed to use their own discretion. The IFAB Laws have the following definition:

''The ball is kicked when a player makes contact with the foot and/or the ankle''

To me, that sounds like a fair enough definition and rolling the ball with the sole of the foot would meet this definition.

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