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Question Number: 22790

Law 8 - Start and Restart of Play 2/2/2010

RE: Under 12

David Willmoptt of norwich, norfolk england asks...

Is it legal to have all the players on both sides correctly positioned at a kick off, and the kick taker kick the ball up field to the opposition, off for a goal kick, throw in, or even score a goal direct from the centre spot without the team mate tapping the ball forward as usually seen at matches.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Absolutely. The only requirement is that the ball is kicked and moves forwards. Beyond that, there is no restriction on what the player does.

The only reason you normally see the player tap it to a teammate is so they can retain control - doing any of the things you suggest are almost certain to hand possession to the opponents (and it's very, very unlikely to score a goal direct from a kickoff).

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

There are only a few requirements at a kickoff. The ball must go forward. The kicker cannot touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player (of either team).

I have seen a kickoff go immediately out of bounds for a throw-in. The kicker was attempting an angling shot to a winger, who would run from his own side of the half line and intercept it. They missed.

Kickoffs have been a direct free kick since 1997, but I have not yet seen a goal scored directly.

There was one field being used when my daughter was playing U10, that was so short the penalty arc and center circle actually intersected. I thought of the possibility of scoring directly on a kickoff on this field, so I took a portion of the practice and had the girls practice kickoffs. While some of them could kick on-target, the ball was usually moving so slowly that any goalkeeper paying the least bit of attention could have blocked the ball from going in goal. I dropped the concept. (Without telling the girls why we were doing the excercise - they thought it great fun and wanted to try shooting goals again next week.)

I suspect the same thing happens at an advanced level, such as professionals or national teams. While those guys are certainly capable of kicking the ball 55 or 60 yards necessary to score a goal directly, their goalkeeper is also much more capable of catching that ball. It would only happen in a trick-play type situation, where success depends on fooling the opposition.

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Answer provided by Referee Tom Stagliano


I have seen teams attempt to score from a kick-off. Typically, if they feel that the goalie is not paying attention, they may try to sneak one in. John Smith is a former English soccer player, who became the place kicker for the New England Patriots in American football. In O50 soccer, I saw him score two direct free kicks into the upper corners of the goal from near mid field. He turned to me and said: 'Ref, they used to pay me to kick it higher than that and opponents were charging at me'

I had a high school girls playoff game on a muddy field that was only 106 yards long. The opening kick-off was scored when the ball took a weird hop in the penalty area and got by the goalie.

As a referee I am always cognizant that a team may try and score from the kickoff. On most fields it is only 55 to 58 yards away. I have seen players kick a stationary soccer ball almost 70 yards in the air. Be very alert of this if the goalie is celebrating a wee bit too much after his team has scored. The opponents may wish to even things up quickly. Make certain it is Obvious when you will be whistling for the kick-off to be taken, and allow sufficient, but not excessive time for the scoring team to celebrate.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi David
You are probably familiar with rugby football and the method of starting that game. That is the origin of the ball being kicked forward into the other half to be put in play to start the game.
Since the great rewrite of the Laws of the Game in 1997 it is now possible to score directly from a kick off. Most teams do not attempt that as they would prefer to retain possession from the KO. I have seen many attempts at this where a team has conceded late in the game and try a direct shot at goal from the resulting KO or indeed at a opening kick off where the keeper may not be concentrating fully.
From a refereeing perspective we have to watch out for this where perhaps a goalkeeper has gone walkabout or is not prepared for the KO. I always check that both keepers are in the general area of the goals and alert.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Not real certain what you're specifically asking but I'll try to give an answer. When you see one player 'Tap the ball forward' before a teammate plays it, you are likely watching the taking of an indirect free kick. At an IDFK, the ball may go in any direction but it must be kicked and moved by one player before a teammate may score a goal. A goal may be scored directly from a kick off. A goal may be scored directly from a goal kick or corner kick. A goal may NOT be scored directly from a throw-in.

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