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Question Number: 19145

Law 15 - Throw In 5/19/2008

RE: Competitive Under 19

Ken Gamble of Decatur, Alabama USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 18831


(USSF game) Player A makes an improper throw-in "one of his feet is off the ground". However the ball never enters the field.

Chuck Fleischer wrote: A throw-in that is incorrectly taken is given to the other side whether or not it enters the field of play.

A referee instructor told me that in USSF, if a throw-in doesn't enter the field of play, then the game was never restarted and therefore, the team that threw the ball that didn't enter the field re-takes the throw.

Who gets the throw-in Team A or Team B?

Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

Ken so sorry you find yourself in the position of receiving conflicting "official" information. I too find myself in that position and have asked specifically that very same question during the rewrite of Advice 2007 and 2008. The answer given was until FIFA makes up its collective mind we don't know, however we will do as we think fair.

Laws of the Game, Additional Instructions and Guidelines, page 127

If the ball touches the ground before entering the field of play play, the throw-in shall be retaken by the same team from the same position provided that it was taken in line with the correct procedure. If the throw-in is not taken in line with the correct procedure, it shall be retaken by the opposing team.

Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game


Referees must distinguish between a throw-in which infringes on the requirements of Law 15 and one which is not properly taken such that the restart is said not to have been taken. In the first case
(infringement), possession of the restart is given to the opponents and taken from the same location; under no circumstances may advantage be applied to a throw-in performed illegally. In the case of a throw-in which is not properly taken, the restart must be taken again by the same team from the same location. [Unchanged since 2001]

So in answer to your question, what ever is fair at the moment unless on a US Soccer match then what they say is fair.


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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

This provision appeared as a clarification in the 2007-8 Laws of the Game, Additional Instructions and Guidance section. At that time many refs recognized it as a change in how things may have previously been done; it has not changed. If the throw-in is improperly done, the ball goes to the opponents to throw, whether it entered the field or not.

I don't recall hearing about it in my recertification class, so perhaps it wasn't emphasized in the materials given to your instructor. I wish every instructor, assessor and referee was a student of the Laws, pouring over the additions and changes as they occur each year. Unfortunately we recognize that not everyone does that, so things slip by. We hope that our site is one of the ways for refs to learn what they have missed. And in some cases the panelists learn right along with the questioners.

Update: This question was asked to Jim Allen of the USSF at The original answer was that the throw should be retaken. Upon further review, they added a Addendum that quotes the paragraph from Additional Instructions and Guidance, and states that they will ask FIFA for a clarification. Until such time, the official answer for the US is that the throw is retaken.

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Answer provided by Referee Gil Weber

If the ball never enters the field, does it matter whether the player throwing it has lifted his foot? In my opinion, no.

But what really matters here? What is fair while maintaining the integrity of the game and the referee's credibility?

Do we go with the logic that since the player's foot was lifted, if the ball had entered the field, the T/I would go to the opposing team?

Well, "If the ball had entered..." means it did not happen. And if it did not happen then we cannot take an action or make a decision as if it had.

Are there other examples of things that could happen which would make it not properly taken, yet all the requirements of Law 15 are met besides the ball not entering the field?

I don't know. But consider this similar situation. At a kick-off the ball is kicked forward and the kicker touches it a second time. The ball has been properly put into play and there has been a subsequent violation. IFK to opponents.

On the other hand, ball is played backwards and kicker touches it again. A second touch, but the ball was never put into play properly, so it's as if the second touch never happened. Restart is the original kickoff, not an IFK to opponents.

With the throw-in that never enters the field, it has not been put into play. For a foul throw-in to be called the ball first must be put into play. The fact that a T/I is not PROPERLY put into play is the reason we give the T/I to the opposing team. But if the ball never enters the
field and is not put into play then the raised foot should have no bearing on our decision. It's still a retake.

If a player goes to throw the ball and it slips out of her hands behind the head, all the criteria have not been met. Do we give it to the other team? No, we order it retaken even though the ball was not delivered from behind and over the head.

How is that any different than the lifted foot? Both are incorrect, yet both also occur before the ball enters the field. How can we give a retake when the ball slips out of the
hands and doesn't enter the field, yet we want to give the T/I to the other team if a foot is raised and the ball doesn't enter the field? That's totally inconsistent.

The question is, what is fair? Give a retake or give the ball to the other side?

Let's not micro-manage little things that are so utterly inconsequential. More than likely we're not dealing with the elbows and shirt-pulling and similar provocative nastiness that really does matter.

Just my opinion, of course. YMMV.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Ken, as you can read, there is some debate amongst the folks here even. The newest post on the official USSF site ( says it is a rethrow if the ball never enters the field, and until I'm told otherwise by USSF, that's the procedure I must follow. Doubt about what to do? If the referee strives to make decisions that are fair to both teams, it is hard to go too wrong. If the fair thing in the game is to allow the rethrow for a ball that never enters the field, do it. If the fair thing is to decide the thrower has violated the terms of Law 15, award the throw to the other side. There are strong arguments both ways, which leaves the referee on the field in this game, to decide if, in her opinion, the throw-in was correctly taken or not, and proceed accordingly.

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Answer provided by Referee MrRef

Disagreement abounds on this issue and it seems the disagreement will continue until FIFA have had time to digest what they have written in AIG. At this Website we strive to be correct and in this we find it difficult to be that so we'll go back one step and be as correct as possible. No one really knows the answer. If you are on a US Soccer match US Soccer has the correct answer and it is published on their Q@A site. If one chooses to agrue the language in the Laws of the Game and see the procedure is incomplete until the ball enters the field of play, then wonder what they meant by if the correct procedure isn't used it goes over to the other side enjoy the argument because a good case can be made for either side.

Let's restart play, when the ball crosses the longer field boundary, with a throw-in. Let's judge it taken correctly, incorrectly or [in the case we've been jawing about] just plain ugly but OK.

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