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: 31456

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/15/2017

RE: Rec Under 14

John of Newport News, VA United States asks...

Is there a rule in the laws of the game about a player not being able to play the ball if he is on the ground or could that be a local rec rule? If so what rule does that come under?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi John,
there is no actual LOTG that prohibits playing the ball when on the ground. The myth is one based on a misunderstanding of PIADM ( playing in a dangerous manner ) You see it COULD be an INDFK offence when you play the ball on the ground because of HOW you go about it, not that it wrong to try.

Many a good goal or attack is set up seated on ones butt!

A player who lies atop a ball after falling on it can be charged with USB cautioned and shown a yellow card for wasting time. Yet this same player who falls on the ball is granted the right to play that ball and given a moment or so to recover and get up so a card is not a certainty.

The same goes for the offence of PIADM, the opposition MUST be unfairly affected by the downed player's antics although I do believe in USA high school soccer an opponent is not required and an unsafe act even against a team mate can be sanctioned. The recovering player is not permitted to act in an unsafe manner whilst on the ground where the opposition refrain from challenging for the ball for fear of kicking or hurting him. The player on the ground is expected to get up and not stay scrambling about trying to shield the ball by unfairly placing arms around the ball to prevent is being kicked or moving his head near the ball as it is dangerous for him to do so when there are challenging opponents nearby.

That is why play is stopped NOT because he is on the ground but because he is playing unsafely!

In a youth match I had the ball roll in-between a player legs while on the ground, he squeezed the ball between his calves and summersaulted to get free of the one opponent who was trying to fish the ball out between his legs using the sole of his foot to draw it back ! I made no call . I saw no PIADM as the opponent who was trying to drag the ball out was not doing it unsafely not restricted in the challenge and the quick thinking on the ground rolling action took the ball away from the challenge. The opponent chased after but only after the roll was completed and the ball was bouncing free

In the same type of movement at another match the opponent was standing over the player and had to move slightly to avoid being hit, he waited until the player completed the roll moved with him and then tried to move in to challenge at the end of the roll while the ball remained pinched and covered. I awarded an INDFK for PIADM because the opposition had no way to play that ball safely. To try to win the ball could have resulted in the somersaulting player being kicked.

I have seen a similar move tried in what is called a bunny hop where a player traps a ball between his feet and jumps over top or by an opponent. One spectacular occasion included a handstand somersault leading to a goal like a flip throw but with the feet.

In most cases there was no issue UNLESS an opponent is prevented from challenging because he would have to kick the player as the ball is trapped in-between the legs or feet. If the opponent refrains from kicking at the player squeezing that ball it is an INDFK for PIADM and the opponent should gain the restart for not endangering the safety of the player

If the opposition does NOT refrain from challenging and tries to kick a ball that a player might be on the ground near or on top of the ball instead of a PIADM and an INDFK against the player on the ground the DFK is awarded to him by the opponent for being too aggressive in a challenge!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi John
It is only an offence if the action poses a risk to the players safety so there are many times when it is perfectly acceptable to play the ball on the ground when there is no risk. There roll be times when there is an obvious risk.
If for instance a player lies on the ball or has the ball between his legs in such a way that to play the ball would restrict an opponent from kicking the ball that would be PIADM that is playing in a dangerous manner which has an indirect free kick restart.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 31456
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

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.