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: 29882

Law 3 - Number of Players 11/2/2015

RE: Rec Adult

Luis of Bothell, WA United States asks...

Situation: Ball was kicked out of bounds by opposing defender on sideline of our attacking third (about 15 yards from end line). As defender tried to save the ball from going out of bounds, he kicked it towards his corner and I went to retrieve it past the end line and quickly threw it to my teammate so that he can throw it in to me as no other defenders retreated back. While I was one yard OFF the pitch, my teammate threw the ball in to me, but I received the ball ON the pitch. Referee blew the whistle and I was called for a 'foul' stating I cannot be off the field when receiving a ball. I tried to have hime clarify but he issued me a yellow card and even after game he did no explain. I have never heard of this and don't know if there is a rule where you must be on the field during a restart (throw in, free kick, etc) before receiving the throw/pass. Thanks!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Luis
Players are normally expected to remain on the field while the ball is in play, leaving only as part of active play or to retrieve a ball or with the referees permission. So the norm is that one player is off the field of play at a restart that is the player that is taking the restart and the rest are on the field.
If a player does leave the field for some other reason without the referee’s permission to do so, and this results in gaining a tactical advantage for his or her team, the player has committed misconduct and must be cautioned and shown the yellow card.
Now in your case there was yourself plus the thrower both off the field of play at the same time. Given that it was a yard and there was a crossover with the Law being somewhat mute on it as the action was to retrieve the ball I would have ignored it and allowed play to continue. I suspect as well that there was no appeal by the opponents for anything untoward.
Now this is where it gets tricky for the referee. There is no actual free kick offence here and to award the free kick I believe the referee would have had to caution for misconduct and restart with an IDFK from where the ball was when play was stopped. Many referees would not do that and let it slide. As already mentioned if it was done for unsporting reasons such as to place a player in an offside position or for blatant tactical advantage reasons then there would be no issue that it is an offence.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

I agree with my colleague, that it couldn't possibly have been any kind of a foul. It would have had to be misconduct, falling under the catch-all 'unsporting behavior', thus the caution.

The restart might just as well have been a retake of the throw-in, as the 'offense' would have taken place before the throw while you were still off the field, and the ball was out of play. Thus the throw was not yet taken at the time, and the proper restart would be the throw-in.

You couldn't really say that the offense was trifling, because that means that it had little to no effect. That wouldn't have been the case, because you would have been starting play before the defenders expected - they would have expected you to be on the field. Still, I can see where a referee might just let it slide, or might call for the throw to be taken again once you were on the field. I'm not sure a caution was needed, but I don't know what the tone of the game was up to that point.

Read other questions answered by Referee Gary Voshol

View Referee Gary Voshol profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Luis,
one of the difficulties in interpretation of the LOTG there are written explanations that generalize certain conditions but DO NOT cover all circumstances when used to explain actions other than the LAW the portion was written for but still sort of apply to the game in general.

The LOTG state we can caution for things perceived as USB like appearing to take a throw-in but suddenly leaving it to one of his teammates to take

Law12 basically explains it is misconduct for a player to be

• entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee's permission

• deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee's permission

If the player leaves the field of play to commit the offence, play is restarted with an indirect free kick from the position of the ball when play was stopped (see Law 13 –Position of free kick)

YET if a player accidentally crosses one of the boundary lines of the field of play, he
is not deemed to have committed an infringement. Going off the field of play
...MAY... be considered to be part of a playing movement. This primarily applies to a player's. ...MOMENTUM... While the ball is in play on the FOP, a moving player near a touchline or goal line exits the FOP without direct permission from the referee but will be considered as OK as long as he returns post haste.
Although it is not stated it is inferred this applies to a player exiting the FOP to retrieve a ball during a stoppage, goal kick, corner, free kick, throw in, or drop ball and returning back to the FOP once this is accomplished.

However, if the referee considers that he has left the field of play for tactical reasons and has gained an unfair advantage by re-entering the field of play, the player must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour. The player needs to ask for the referee's permission to re-enter the field of play

We had a You call it not too long ago that dealt with a player off the FOP to fix equipment take a throw in before returning into the FOP. Some thought incorrectly that he needed to come back in before he could participate in play. That premise 100% incorrect he simply needed the permission of the referee to do what ANY other player could do which was retrieve the ball and perform a throw in.

A referee with integrity sees what he sees and bases decisions on their current understanding and application of the LOTG. We generally do not cast darts as we are aware the look from inside is different than looking from the outside. But there are concerns. The restart is a throw in. You left to get the ball! You tossed the ball to the team mate who took a procedurally correct throw in from the correct spot while you were still in the process of returning to the FOP when the ball has re-entered the FOP. The only thing I can see is the referee has utilized the tactical advantage aspect of exiting the FOP and decided you gained an unfair advantage thus he wanted you to ask permission to re enter. The INDFK is awarded for entering without permission and you are cautioned for USB for the deception as seen by the referee. the restart occurs where the ball was. If you ran along the touchline and entered in from beyond the goal line ...perhaps... but it appears your effort to catch the opposition off their game was simply not seen by the referee in the same light. It bites that another CR might have seen nothing wrong! I am curious were you cautioned, shown the yellow card immediately, or was it for dissent because you argued?


Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 29882
Read other Q & A regarding Law 3 - Number of Players

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 29887

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.