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Question Number: 33643

Law 8 - The Start and Restart of Play 9/11/2019

RE: Rec Under 14

Brandon of RESTON, VA United States asks...

I refereed my first game yesterday and ended up in a discussion about the new drop ball rule with the other two referees afterwards. The basic question being discussed was whether there were any restrictions on on the player receiving the ball on the drop. Based on Law 8 the only restrictions appear to be that 1) they may not play it until it hits the ground and 2) they may not score a goal without it touching a second player. After the ball touches the ground from the drop, though, they can treat it essentially as if it never left their possession - kick it, pass it to a teammate, dribble it away, whatever - there are no two-touch limitations like other restarts. Also, while a drop ball isn't contested any longer, once it's in play I understand the opposing players can challenge for the ball from their position of at least four meters away as soon as it hits the ground. Do I have my facts straight? Also, a related question more on the process vs. the application of the law. Would it be inappropriate to explain that rule to the player receiving the drop and say the closest player on the opposing team to make sure it's clear or would you recommend refraining from giving instructions like that? I will be refereeing younger recreational players for the foreseeable future if that makes a difference in how you'd approach it.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Brandon,
You are spot on mate! It may seem funny that he can dribble the length of the field after the drop but he can not score unless it touches another player. It was because when the drop USED to be manufactured the offer to give it back resulted in goals accidentally causing no end of irritation. If a player did do the drop and take that ball into opposing goal to shoot off the keeper like an indfk he just needs to let it go without contact because IF the ball strikes him THAT is the required 2nd touch and a goal could then count lol A goal kick out.

It is not unrealistic to adopt a teaching format with youth in conjunction with the coaches so you are not giving tactical advice to only one or the other. In highly competitive settings I likely would not try so hard to dispense information but to educate kids in fundamentals of conduct in tricky situation is, in my humble opinion, a good thing.
Still as my colleague points out, what really needs to be said? They should read the explanations provided for on the law changes as part of their soccer education. I recall when coaching kids, I made them take the referee course to at least KNOW the LOTG somewhat even if not interested in refereeing.

A drop-ball is used to restart play when the referee has stopped play for any reason not listed for another form of restart. Examples include when play has been stopped due to serious injury to a player, interference by an external party, or a ball becoming defective.

Law 9 provides for a dropped-ball restart if the ball touches a match official, remains on the field of play, and any of the following occur:

a team starts a promising attack;
the ball goes directly into the goal; or
there is a change in possession.[1]
In games which use video assistant referees (VAR), if a VAR review determines that play should not have been stopped, such as when a decision to award a penalty is reversed, play is restarted with a dropped ball at the point of the incorrect call.[2]


Following changes to the Laws of the Game effective from June 2019, the dropped ball is explicitly awarded to a specific player:[1]

the goalkeeper of the defending team, if the ball was in the penalty area when play was stopped, or the ball was last touched in the penalty area
a player of the team that last touched the ball, in all other cases.
The ball is dropped by the referee at the point where the ball was last touched by a player, official, or outside agent, unless this is within the penalty area (or the ball was in the penalty area when play was stopped), in which case the ball is dropped within the penalty area.[1]

All players of either side, other than the designated player, must be 4 metres (4.4 yd) away from the ball until it touches the ground.[1]

The ball becomes in play as soon as it touches the ground. No player may touch the ball until it has touched the ground. If the ball leaves the field of play before it has been touched by a player (including if the ball enters either goal), the drop-ball is retaken.[3]

If a player touches the ball before it touches the ground, the drop-ball is retaken.[3] If a player persistently touches the ball before it touches the ground, and the referee believes that the player is deliberately doing so, this may be considered misconduct and the referee may caution the player with a yellow card for delaying the restart of play.

A goal may not be scored from a dropped ball until it has been touched by two different players. If the ball enters either goal without having been touched by two players, the result is a goal-kick or corner-kick.[1]. A dropped ball is the only restart which allows the first player who touches the ball to touch it a second time without penalty.


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Brandon,
You have the application of the law correct. The various things you say about the restrictions on the player, what happens after the ball is dropped etc, are entirely accurate.

When it comes to informing the players about the new procedure, I happen to think that is indeed appropriate and even more so when it comes to youth players. While it would be nice to imagine that players will always keep themselves up to date with the latest changes in the Laws, in my experience that is not often the case - especially at grass roots level and with youth players.

Even at professional level, it is clear from players actions and words (in post-match interviews, for example) that they are not always particularly-well informed on the actual provisions of the law.

There have been numerous reports in refereeing discussion forums of players not being familiar with the new law and of incidents, including at professional level, where players have given the ball back to the opposition after having it dropped to them and the opponents then playing it back to the goalkeeper of the team the ball was originally dropped to.

I noticed in the Women's World Cup (even though it had been made clear, that all the teams had been given specific briefings on all the new laws before the tournament started) the referees went out of their way to explain to the players, each time there was a dropped ball, exactly what was supposed to happen. I think it will probably take players at least a season or so to get out of the ingrained habits of years of playing experience and until the new procedure is well understood and being followed properly by the players, referees should take steps to ensure the law is implemented as intended.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Brandon
Your interpretation is correct. The ball is in play once it hits the ground so opponents who are 4/5 yards away may challenge for the ball when it touches the ground .
As to instructions the only part that the referee needs to really get involved in is ensuring the opponents move back the required distance.
It should be clear to the players that as you are dropping the ball to one opponent uncontested and moving the opponents back that once the ball touches the ground that play resumes. I have told one or two players that the need to give the ball back is no longer required. I answer any questions that players have but as yet very few so far on this topic. I believe players gets the concept of ** we had the ball when play was stopped so we get the ball back to resume playing**
Where it is helpful to explain and answer questions from players the referee should facilitate that. The key is that the game is not unduly delayed or held up with a lengthy discussion on law changes. So far most of the changes have been *accepted* without much explanation or debate. I have had one or two shouts about the ball not leaving the penalty area at a restart but team mates soon put the player *right* about it.

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