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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34166

High School 3/22/2021

RE: College

ML of Virginia, VA USA asks...

Situation in game this weekend where opponent was awarded a direct kick outside the penalty area. Play was put on the whistle by referee to set up wall, etc.

2 players were on ball. Referee blew whistle to put in play. one player ran over ball to the flank, and the second player approached ball but then put hand on ball to adjust before she stood back up to kick it.

Once whistle blows isn't ball "live" and this should be a hand ball??

Referee told us player was allowed to adjust ball, even though whistle had blown and they had started runs.

Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


The referee is correct. The ball is not in play until the ball is kicked so there would not be a hand ball. By blowing the whistle, the referee indicates that the ball can be put into play.

When the referee sounds the whistle, the ball should immediately put into play. Since the clock is running, the referee must make certain that the ball is put into play without delay.

What you describe is unusual and could result in a caution for not putting the ball into play in a timely manner.

I hope this helps and you have a successful season.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi ML,

Based on your description the player leaping over the ball did not touch that ball either by stepping on it to cause it to move as in being kicked with the sole of the foot or perhaps rolled. The fact remains the ball is in play when it is kicked and moved even if slightly BUT that was not the case thus no foul was present!


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Both FIFA and NFHS are at one on this situation.
As the ball has not been kicked it is not in play so to use your term it is NOT "live". It is only in play when it is kicked and moves. The whistle signal is to confirm that the ball can be put into play.
So in this case there is no possibility of deliberate handling. I suspect what has happened here was that perhaps the player simply saw that the ball was not well positioned and reset it or maybe it was a ruse to get defenders and goalkeeper to switch off due to a focus on the replacement of the ball.
Either way the restart does not change from the original free kick. The player could be guilty of delaying the restart by not putting the ball into play in a timely manner which is a caution. Personally I think if the delay is minimal there is no need for a referee to intervene and the referee should only do so if it were done in a way that excessive time was used up.
So the referee in this case clearly allowed readjustment of the ball and his explanation was correct under the rules.

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