Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

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
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
Panel Login

Question Number: 29731


RE: Comp Under 17

Tommy of Phoenix, AZ United States asks...

Hi there,

Is there an official 'rule' on whether the Assistant Referee is permitted to stop the ball when it passes out of bounds next to him / her?

A recent example. A game was tied late in the second half - the ball was cleared out on the sideline - the assistant referee jumped up and stopped it with his hand. This enabled the opposing team to take a throw in, quicker than would have happened had the AR not stopped the ball.

I would have thought that the ARs should never stop the ball as not to interfere with the flow of the game.

I have looked at FIFA's laws of the game - I cannot find this scenario anywhere in there.

I am curious.

Thank you.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tommy
You wont find a *rule* because it is not there. There is nothing stopping an AR from doing this other than it allows a team to question the motive of doing this. AR can be told in the pre match briefing not to turn away from the field of play and to ignore the ball. Even if unsaid it is understood as not done
As an AR I have in the past stopped balls or kicked a ball back to a goalkeeper to assist in restarts. At times players can be appreciative of this courtesy due to perhaps not having to run 50 yards and back to restart the game.
Is it a good practise? The answer is most times no and it is never done at the highest level as it look unprofessional. I personally have never ever had an issue on this yet I have only done it when it is not likely to be questioned, when it is not likely to be noticed. On the flip side I have been berated once or twice for not stopping the ball by players sent to retrieve it some distance away.
Now lets say your game was in the EPL. With the use of ball boys / girls a replacement ball is thrown to the thrower, kicker instantly so that the game speeds up. Teams would never question a quick restart and it is expected.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Tommy,

The only reason most referees are advised to not stop the ball is simply because it looks unprofessional.

But a secondary concern is that some may complain that they're helping one team in a critical moment.

Players do get a bit annoyed when an AR doesn't stop a ball right near them, at times. Generally it's just seem as helping the game flow rather than the annoying wait while the ball is fetched, so many AR's will stop a ball if it's very close to them. Jumping up is generally not advised, but as my colleague Ref McHugh states, there's no actual rule around it.

Read other questions answered by Referee Jason Wright

View Referee Jason Wright profile

Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

It is not a good practice (as I have been told repeatedly in my personal assessments for doing so).

The issue is simple. Don't stop the ball, and the players think the AR is arrogant. Stop the ball, and the players may think the AR gave an unfair advantage to the team taking the throw-in.

My mind says that not touching the ball is wise. But, my heart says stopping the ball is kind.

Read other questions answered by Referee Dennis Wickham

View Referee Dennis Wickham profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Tommy,
as an neutral official you should not interfere with how play develops on or off the field. Yet at the recreational level the possible impropriety of appearance by granting the opposition a quicker restart can be offset from stopping the ONLY ball going into the nearest pond or brush line for retrieval!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 29731
Read other Q & A regarding

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.