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: 34247

Law 5 - The Referee 6/17/2021

RE: competive Adult

Shaun Cosy of melbourn, Australia asks...

If referee stop the game for a 50/50 challenge or for an injury, how referee can re-start the game with a dropped ball, if it is not clear who touched the ball last?
(since the ball has to be dropped to the team who has possession of the ball)

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

you make a decision based on what your gut says to be the least wrong, if not the most right!. Referees should apply the Laws within the ‘spirit’ of the game to help produce fair and safe matches. If it is inside the PA a drop ball to the keeper sets it right, outside the PA? Just lean to the least harmful if it was truly unknowable! We can only use neutral officials for concrete info. When none we can LOOK for clues, just be speculative on the reactions of others who are nonneutral. Sometimes they already know and will indicate to you the correct decision by offering it up!

2. Dropped ball
• The ball is dropped for the defending team goalkeeper in their penalty area
if, when play was stopped: • the ball was in the penalty area or • the last touch of the ball was in the penalty area

• In all other cases, the referee drops the ball for one player of the team that
last touched the ball at the position where it last touched a player, an outside
agent or, as outlined in Law 9.1, a match official

• All other players (of both teams) must remain at least 4 m (4.5 yds) from the
ball until it is in play
The ball is in play when it touches the ground.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Shaun
The key to this in *In the opinion of the referee* as quoted by Referee Grove.

Referees in some situations have to make a judgement call on some things that may be uncertain and the best way to do that is to factor in all the information that is available and to make the call.

At one time the Laws proposed a dropped ball for simultaneous offences yet many in the games always believed that it was not a good practise and that the referee should make a call either way rather than the DB. As Referee Dawson outlines many chose the least *harmful* in a game setting, the one that was not going to come back to bite the referee.
Sometimes I just waited to see what the consensus was on an injury situation before the Law was amended. Many times the injured player’s team offered the ball being given to the opponents. If a referee waits for a period he may get *help* from the players as to what they want to do and if a team is offering the ball back then it can be dropped to reflect that. If no help is offered then just make the best call in the circumstances.

In the case of simultaneous offences Law 5 now tells us that the referee « should punish the more serious offence, in terms of sanction, restart, physical severity and tactical impact, when more than one offence occurs at the same time. »
I watched a Euro 2020 game last night and there was a 50/50 challenge that could have gone either way. The challenge occurred around half way and the referee went with the attacking team. I thought it could have gone the other way yet in the scheme of things the referee made a call and sold it with a firm decision and an explanation.

A final thought is that referees will not get all of the decision correct in a game. It is vital that the big decision are correct, that is the game changing calls. In another Euro game I saw two goal kicks being awarded yet on replay there was were touches off the challenging defenders. The decisions were just too difficult to call in real time without video and with two officials looking at it they just went with what they saw or did not see and awarded goal kicks. Perhaps in the absence of certainty either way the *best* decisions were goal kicks.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Shaun,

I guess that, in the words of the old saying, "This is why we get paid the big bucks." Just kidding.

However in all seriousness, this is just one of the many situations where a referee has to make a judgment call. As stated in Law 5:

"Decisions will be made to the best of the referee's ability according to the Laws of the Game and the ‘spirit of the game’ and will be based on the opinion of the referee, who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the framework of the Laws of the Game."

So basically the referee after considering all the available information, will make a decision based on their opinion as to what best fits within the laws and best aligns with the spirit of the game.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Shaun,
I remember an old rule of thumb that applied to out-of-play restarts: if you have no idea whose restart it is, then it's the defence's restart. For example, if you have no idea if it's a corner or a goal kick, then it's a goal kick.
Give an incorrect corner that leads to a goal, and everybody will remember it. Incorrectly give a goal kick....and nothing is really going to come of it. I mean, yes, you can still end up with cards for dissent and problems arise (isn't it interesting how a disputed throw-in can make a whole game turn pear shaped at parks level, but they don't even seem to argue these on TV?).

Now there are a few additional tricks you can use to help out (eg if you have no idea but all the players immediately accept it's a corner....then I guess it's a corner!)....but I'm digressing:

I'd apply the same rule of thumb here. No idea whose it is? None whatsoever? Then it's the defence's.

But, keep it simple: If you KNOW that Red kicked it, but you're 50/50 on whether Blue got a slight touch after, then just treat it as if Red kicked it (also, I don't think they reall thought of deflections after the kick when they wrote the law). But aside from that, I'd give it to the defence as my last port of call.

Read other questions answered by Referee Jason Wright

View Referee Jason Wright profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 34247
Read other Q & A regarding Law 5 - The Referee

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 free 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. While there is no charge for asking the questions, donation to maintain the site are welcomed! <>