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: 35212

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/8/2023

RE: Under 14

Tyler of Vancouver, BC Canada asks...

Hello, I hope your day is going well.

If a foul starts outside the penalty area and continues on into the penalty area, would it be a fk outside the penalty box or a pk? Is the decision from where the foul started? Or here it ended? What if the foul starts with little force, but ends in a lot?

Example: White is ahead of all the blue players but a blue defender is right behind a white player who has possession of the ball. From outside the penalty box, the blue defender chasing the white player starts pulling the white players jersey, and keeps pulling on it as the white players runs into the penalty box.
(The ref letting play continue in case the attacker can still score.)

Would this be a penalty kick against the blue team? Or a free kick outside the penalty box for the blue team?

Thanks for your help.


Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tyler
The answer lies in the type of offence that is committed.

For instance a pull back or holding of an attacker that starts outside the penalty area yet continues inside the area will result in a penalty kick.

Similarly a minor trip that fails to stop an attacker just outside the penalty area is then followed up by a more significant contact with the player brought to ground inside the area will also result in a penalty kick. Provided of course the referee has not called the first minor foul and did not allow a wait and see.

An offence that clearly happens outside the penalty area yet the attackers momentum results in the player ending up inside the area will result in a free kick from the location of the offence.

Generally most offences tend to be one off contact such as a trip, kick, charge, push at a specific location which will determine the location of the restart. Offences that can be continuous such as pulling, holding can happen over a distance which if close to the penalty area line can start outside and then continues over the line into the penalty area. Those are the offences that result in a penalty kick due to part of the offence happening inside the penalty area which includes the penalty area line.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Tyler,
The law only provides one specific example of this type of offence, in regards to holding. The wording is as follows:

"If a defender starts holding an attacker outside the penalty area and continues holding inside the penalty area, the referee must award a penalty kick."

Now, as ref McHugh alludes to (and by applying the principle that where the law does not specifically cover a particular situation, the referee should decide based on the spirit of the law) it is generally held that this wording can be extended to any offence considered to be continuous. So it also applies for instance, to your example of pulling (which is just another form of holding, really).

In the end, it is also a form of playing the advantage (as ref Dawson points out) so it could theoretically also be applied to a series of attempted but unsuccessful minor fouls starting outside but continuing into the penalty area.

If however there is just one single point of contact for a foul and that is outside the penalty area, that would only be a direct free kick, even if the player doesn't fully go to ground until they're inside the penalty area.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 35212
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

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.