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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34888

Law 15 - The Throw In 2/23/2023

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

Throw-in question.

A current question about field lines reminded me to bring up an anomaly that is hard to explain. Make that impossible, at least to me.

From FIFA, regarding throw-ins: "At the moment of delivering the ball, the thrower must:
stand facing the field of play
have part of each foot on the touchline or on the ground outside the touchline."

The problem: since the sideline is marking the outer boundary of the playing field... why is the thrower allowed to be standing totally inside the field while throwing?

I've shown players how they can legally have their heels on the white line but 9/10 of both feet contacting the green playing grass... but if they lift even one heel before releasing the ball, the throw will be illegal.

Why? If the line IS part of the playing area, it shouldn't matter if the heel loses contact... the player never was in contact with the out-of-bounds area anyway.

FIFA has adjusted the LAWS to clean up inconsistencies — but this one persists. Was there ever a time when both feet had to be totally outside the playing area before release (which would make sense)?

Your thoughts?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Barry,
the throw in was designed as a simple way to get play restarted.

I cannot recall a time when both feet had to be clear of the touchline?

A far as I can recall, as long as either foot was not completely inside the FOP standing on the line being partly clear into the green was fine.

As for heel raises off a line or leg raises off the ground. Remember trifling and doubtful and whether it is necessary within the spirit of these guidelines to find a fault for such a routine matter. Plus often the ball is leaving the hands just before the feet come off the ground & is perfectly legal.

In my opinion the LOCATION of the throw in is far more important but if it bites that an incorrectly taken throw-in looses possession for no good reason except a air gap under a heel because that is the LOTG and the referee of the day decides to say it is so, you adapt.

Say to the kids. "Remember to keep your feet on the ground place the ball behind and toss it over your head."

I imagine the touch lines as a 5 inch wall of invisible water stretching straight up to the sky! Should the ball get the least bit wet on any part of it, that ball is in play. Given if even the outer curved edge of the ball part ball brushes the line its considered to have entered the FOP and is live, it is sort of funny the hands can still be on it. Depending on release point from behind and OVER the head to extended arms tossing said ball into the middle of the field or down at their feet the ball is ACTUALLY being handled as it enters the FOP technically a DFK lol Maybe why the feet thing is no biggie?

The touchline boundary lines are another funny wrinkle as they are indeed part of the FOP thus you are in effect on the FOP. The MYTH of no feet on the line is in line with the myth the ball must be heaved a decent distance and not just released to plop down at your feet. The LOTG only require to take the throw from where it exited and place the ball in behind and then toss it over your head using both hands and of course if you were a one arm bandit you make the allowance for it as well. One handed throws can still go behind and over the head not a keeper sideways toss.

Feet or foot on the line, kind of like a corner kick where the ball is in or on the arc in a big 1 yard area to escape the corner flags so too on throws a yard either way up or down generally not a big deal . The FACT an opponent must be two yards away from where it exited gives the thrower plenty of leeway assuming the throw occurs from where it exited .

A correctly taken throw in can be a bit ugly yet still ok! BLATANT EGRIGIOUS VIOLATIONS just let he kids play
. Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Barry,
I think one thing to bear in mind here is that we are talking about a restart in play where the ball has gone out of play and is going to be put back into play. So for me, the position of the player is not as important as the position of the ball. For example, if we're talking about whether a ball is out of play or not it matters not one iota where the player is, it only matters where the ball is.

I dare say that the framers of the law (the FA initially and then the IFAB) were more interested in seeing that the ball starts from off the field and is then thrown into the field. Since the throw must come from behind (and over) the head, if any part of each foot is touching the line, there's a pretty good chance that the ball is off the field at the start of the throwing motion. OK, it's not guaranteed but as ref Dawson says, we're talking a simple method of restarting play which the current laws provide for, so I don't think it's a big deal either way.

As for their being a time when the feet had to be completely off the field, yes there was - but it's way back in history (and it didn't last long). In 1925, an amendment was passed that said:

"The player throwing the ball must stand with both feet on the ground outside the touch-line facing the field of play ..."

(Prior to this, the laws simply said that "the player must stand on the line ...").

In 1932, this was changed to:

"The player throwing the ball must stand on both feet on or outside the touch-line facing the field of play ..."

The law (regarding foot position) has remained essentially unchanged since then.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
The throw in as outlined in Law 15 is a very simple restart which allows a player to stand on the line while taking a throw in.

I suspect that the original law makers saw that players were not too exact on foot position so rather than being picky about it or going into great detail the wording allowed that a player could stand on the line.
Worrying about part of the foot touching the field of play over the line was not something to legislate for as to do so would cause multiple incorrectly taken throw ins on what would be seen as not beneficial to the throwing team.

You could imagine with restricting foot position to not include the line or not allowing part of the foot over the line it would cause endless work for match officials.
Officials struggle with getting the throw taken from the correct location never mind adding in toe position.

So while there may be a written inconsistency as they say “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”

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