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Question Number: 31397

Law 8 - The Start and Restart of Play 3/27/2017

RE: Rec. Under 11

Terry of Ewa Beach, Hawaii USA asks...

Is it legal for a player taking the kickoff to back heel the ball into play?

If not legal, what is the restart. Take the kick again?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Terry,
Since the 2016-17 Laws changes, the ball can travel in any direction from the kick off. The exact wording is: ''the ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves''

The law does not specify how exactly the ball should be kicked so a back heel would be legal as far as I can tell. There might be an issue over the positioning of the player, though.

The law also says that at the kick off: ''all players must be in their own half of the field of play''

Since a player executing a back heel would often be standing in front of the ball, that could put them in the opponent's half of the field which would technically be illegal (although it would also be possible to backheel the ball while standing on the line, which would be OK).

If the referee decided that this constituted an infringement, the kick off would be retaken. Having said that, I have noticed that many players when taking the kick off by standing facing in a backwards direction are more or less in the opponents' half and I have not seen this being penalised, probably on the basis that it is a dubious, or at worst, trifling offence.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Terry
I personally would see nothing wrong with this as the ball is kicked with the heel. Might not be a smart play as it opens the potential for a mis-kick or poor direction of the kick. Also as the Law has been relaxed in the direction of kick IMHO it is probably only possible to be over the line to kick the ball backwards and referees are not concerned by about aspect of the kick then even if there is anything there it is certainly trifling and doubtful. No need for the referee to get involved by ordering a retake.

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