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Question Number: 32129

Law 8 - The Start and Restart of Play 12/27/2017

Zluvka of Liberec, Czech Republic Czech Republic asks...


Law 8 (The Start and Restart of Play) says: All players, except the player taking the kick-off, must be in their own half of the field of play.

Q1: Is halfway line part of the own half?
Q2: Must the player's entire body be in his own half?

Law 14 (The Penalty Kick) says: The defending goalkeeper must remain on the goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked.

Q3: Must both legs stay on the line?
Q4: Can the goalkeeper stand outside the line in his own goal?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Zluvka,
Yes, the halfway line forms part of each half.

The law does not provide a specific and unequivocal answer to your questions 2 & 3 so I think it's up to the referee to make a judgement call using the following principles mentioned in Law 5:

''Decisions will be made to the best of the referee's ability according to the Laws of the Game and the 'spirit of the game' and will be based on the opinion of the referee who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the framework of the Laws of the Game.''

For me, given that a few inches here or there at a kick off will not make that much of a difference one way or the other, I would be satisfied if any part of the player's body is within their own half (bearing in mind that the line is included).

For the positioning of a goalkeeper for a penalty, when the laws say ''on the goal line'' I would take that to mean that both feet should be on the line and being completely behind (or in front of) it when the kick is taken should not be allowed. Having said that, I have seen a couple of keepers that seem to start slightly behind (maybe one foot staggered backwards from the other) and then start moving forward just before the kick is taken so that they are on the line but moving forward when it is taken - and the referees in the games in question have allowed this. Since the keeper was no longer behind the line but actually on it when the ball was struck, that would seem to be OK to me.

I would also say that in many high-level, televised games, I have seen penalty kicks where, on reviewing a slow motion replay, it can be seen that the keeper had one foot already moving forward off the line when the kick was taken and this has been allowed by the referees. Strictly speaking, that would be against the law but it is often difficult to be sure in real time and my observation is that unless the keeper is completely off the line before the ball is struck, in most cases this will be allowed by a large number of referees including highly-qualified, FIFA-badged referees. I'm not saying that makes it right, just that it is what happens.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi and Merry Christmas Zluvka,
In truth the midline boundary line bisecting the center circle is 5 inches of freedom for either side in that their body part on it is fine but NOT over it. A body part that sticks out past that five inches of white is in effect considered for offside purposes as a playable body part nearer the opposition goal as they are technically now INSIDE the opposition half.
Granted at kick off no one going to be to upset at a leaning over or a partial foot cross given the trifling nature of such an occurrence but the LOTG do state the players are to REMAIN in their own half until the start of play.

ON PKs the keepers are suppose to be standing on the goal line with both feet to start, thus technically they are not supposed to be behind or in front of the line. The referee should only allow the restart to commence when the keeper is in proper position. Again much of the fudging is considered as trifling or doubtful as to its impact on the shooter or outcome but the LOTG DO state the reasons for retake and NOT following proper procedures could certainly qualify a retake for a silly bit of not being where you are supposed to be.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Zluvka
The half way line is unusual in that it is part of both halves. A foot on the line meets the criteria for being in ones own half. Like offside determination where any part of the players body is over the line makes the player in the opponents half. At a kick off though the referee will look for obvious blatant positioning rather than what is doubtful or trifling. It is less so on offside.
At a penalty kick the goalkeepers must have both feet on the line and that includes not being behind and off the line. Again the referee will look for blatant infringements on encroachment rather than doubtful movements. If one watches any penalty kick the goalkeeper will make some movements and it can be difficult to determine illegal movement just at the time the ball is kicked.

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