Commentary

(Part 2) Think you know the rules of soccer? Try this quiz.

Part I: Think you know the rules of soccer?


Attention fans, coaches, players, parents and TV commentators ...

Do you know the rules of soccer? Really?

Why not test yourself with this multiple-choice quiz? Given what we referees hear from the sideline, you’ll all pass easily.

One bit of good news: After several years of major changes, IFAB did very little this year that would affect what you need to know. The only changes listed are five “clarifications” and the permanent adoption of the five-substitute rule at higher levels, which doesn’t affect the free-wheeling substitution patterns in youth soccer and isn’t going to create any controversial judgment calls in the pros.

(All citations are from the 2022-23 Laws of the Game: available for down HERE.)

12. Which of the following is true about a dropped ball? (Multiple answers are possible.)

A. Both teams may contest it no matter where it happens.
B. If the ball is dropped outside the penalty area, only one player may receive it, and everyone else must be 4½ yards away.
C. If the ball is dropped outside the penalty area, only one player may receive it, and everyone else must be 10 yards away.
D. The ball must touch two players before going into the goal for the goal to be awarded.

13. “Handball!” When were you wrong to yell that from the sideline? (Multiple answers are possible.)

A. The ball goes off an attacker’s arm, accidentally, and into the goal.
B. The ball is played off a defender’s arm at close range, and the arm was in a natural position.
C. The ball is played off an attacker’s foot or head into their own arm.
D. A player is sliding or slipping and puts an arm out to break the fall, and the ball hits that arm.

14. “Call it both ways, ref!” When were you wrong to yell that from the sideline? (Only one answer is possible.)

A. When it’s the first foul called in the first minute of a game.
B. When your team has just been called for its first foul and the other team has been called for 10.
C. When your team is quite obviously doing all of the fouling.
D. Always.

15. Team A has a direct free kick. Team A doesn’t immediately take that free kick, and a player from Team B stands directly in front of the ball (we’ll say two yards away). What’s the call?

A. The ref immediately and calmly asks the player from Team B to move back.
B. The ref waits until Team A asks for 10 yards, then asks the player from Team B to move back.
C. The ref blows the whistle and gives a yellow card to the player from Team B.
D. The ref sternly warns the player from Team B to move back and not to do that again.
.
16. Player A is an attacking player. In which of these scenarios is Player A definitely not offside? (Multiple answers are possible.)

A. A defender is closer to the goal line than Player A when the ball was played.
B. Player A scores off the rebound from a goalkeeper’s save.
C. Player A was in his/her team’s own half of the field when the ball was played.
D. Player A received the ball directly from a throw-in.

17. In which scenarios could a player who is closer to the end line than the second-last opponent be penalized for offside? (Multiple answers are possible.)

A. A throw-in.
B. A goal kick.
C. Directly from a corner kick.
D. On a corner kick that is immediately played back to the player who took the kick.

18. Player A takes a goal kick. To his/her horror, a gust of wind blows the ball into his/her own net. What’s the outcome?

A. Retake the kick.
B. Own goal.
C. Corner kick (to the other team).
D. Penalty kick (to the other team).

19. Player A takes a corner kick. To his/her horror, a gust of wind blows the ball into his/her own net. Aside from the possibility that the game should probably be stopped because they’re playing in a hurricane, what’s the outcome?

A. Retake the kick.
B. Own goal.
C. Corner kick (to the other team).
D. Penalty kick (to the other team).

20. A defender attempts to play the ball but instead commits a foul that stops an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Which of the following is true?

A. Red card, anywhere on the field.
B. Yellow card, anywhere on the field.
C. Red card in the penalty area, yellow card anywhere else.
D. Yellow card in the penalty area, red card anywhere else.

21. Which of the following is true of kickoffs? (Multiple answers are possible.)

A. The team that wins the coin toss may opt to take the kickoff or choose a side to defend in the first half.
B. The ball must move forward.
C. A goal can be scored directly from the kickoff.
D. The kicking team doesn’t have to wait for the whistle.

22. Referees must meet hiring criteria including:

A. Under age 60.
B. Able to run a 100-meter dash in 15 seconds.
C. Played travel soccer.
D. None of the above.

* * * * * * * * * *

12. B, D (p. 82, Law 8, Section 2). The rule changed in 2019. It wasn’t a big deal at higher levels of the game, where one team would sportingly kick the ball to the team that had possession or had to treat an injured player. But it made a difference at youth levels, where most coaches thought dropped balls were the equivalent of basketball’s jump balls. It’s 4½ yards because IFAB decided to go metric and make it 4 meters, as if referees are going to be out there with a tape measure making sure that extra distance of 13.48 inches is maintained.

13. B, C and D (p. 98, Law 12, Section 1 is specific on A: “It is an offense if a player … scores in the opponents’ goal: directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper.” This was clarified in 2019 along with several specific examples of when a play does not merit a whistle: “it is not usually an offense if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from the player’s own head or body (including the foot); directly from the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close; if the hand/arm is close to the body and does not make the body unnaturally bigger; when a player falls and the hand/arm is between the body and the ground to support the body, but not extended laterally or vertically away from the body.” In the 2021-22 rulebook, IFAB removed the specific examples for reasons that weren’t really explained.)

Dissent over Scenario C is why I had to send off two coaches in a 2020 Father’s Day All-Star game.

14. D, obviously. Consider which is more likely: A ref made a mistake, or a ref has a specific bias against your team. Obviously the former -- at least, until you keep yelling at that ref.

15. C (p. 115, Law 13, Section 3: “an opponent who deliberately prevents a free kick being taken quickly must be cautioned for delaying the restart of play.”)

At least, it’s supposed to be C. I’ll confess that I usually opt for D because I’m dealing with a 12-year-old player whose ignorant coach (inevitably a paid coach who ought to know the Laws, not a parent coach) taught him or her to stand in front of the ball. I’ve been known to tell them loudly enough for the coach to hear that this is NOT legal.

16. C and D (p. 93, Law 11, Section 1: “A player is in an offside position if: any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents’ half (excluding the halfway line) and any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.” Then see Section 2 on the next page: “A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is played or touched by a team-mate is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by … gaining an advantage by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent when it has rebounded or been deflected off the goalpost, crossbar, match official or an opponent (or) has been deliberately saved by any opponent.”)

Note the phrase “second-last opponent.” If an attacker is past the goalkeeper, it doesn’t matter if one defender is on the goal line. That’s a mistake made and not corrected by a commentator on a World Cup broadcast several years ago.

17. D (p. 95, Law 11, Section 3: “There is no offside offence if a player receives the ball directly from: a goal kick; a throw-in; a corner kick.”) Note the word directly. The corner kick exemption is redundant in a sense -- there’s almost no chance an attacking player is closer to the endline than the ball when the kick is taken unless he/she is trying to interfere with the goalkeeper.)

18. C (p. 127, Law 16: “A goal may be scored directly from a goal kick, but only against the opposing team; if the ball directly enters the kicker’s goal, a corner kick is awarded to the opponents.”)

19. C (p. 131, Law 17: “A goal may be scored directly from a corner kick, but only against the opposing team; if the ball directly enters the kicker’s goal, a corner kick is awarded to the opponents.”)

20. D (p. 105-106, Law 12, Section 3: “Where a player commits an offence against an opponent within their own penalty area which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offender is cautioned if the offence was an attempt to play the ball; in all other circumstances (e.g. holding, pulling, pushing, no possibility to play the ball etc.) the offending player must be sent off.”) This was changed in 2016 to eliminate the “triple jeopardy” scenario in which a player concedes a penalty, is sent off and is suspended for the next game.

21. A and C. (p. 81-82, Law 8, Section 1: “the referee tosses a coin and the team that wins the toss decides which goal to attack in the first half or to take the kick-off” and “For every kick-off … the referee gives a signal; the ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves; a goal may be scored directly against the opponents from the kick-off.”) As of 2016, the ball can move backward.

22. D. Elite competitions will, of course, have their own standards. But anyone can sign up, and even if you’re out of shape, you can help out at younger age groups. Check with your state association and sign up!

Many other quiz sites are unfortunately outdated because, in a complicating factor for everyone involved (including and especially those of us who recertify as refs), the Laws keep changing all the time. Some of the changes are merely updates for innovations such as VAR, commercial signage and water breaks, two of which don’t apply to a typical youth game. Some are simply modernizing to gender-neutral language. Some involve the color of undershorts or tape on socks, which we’re not likely to enforce in the U-11 Premier Championship Bronze Elite bracket of a holiday tournament. Note that many of the questions in the quiz specifically addressed things that have changed in the past decade, since any parent played youth soccer.

So the referee about whom you’re complaining had to take a recertification test that takes all of these changes into account. Some tests have all sorts of wacky questions, such as what to do when a goalkeeper decides to take a smoke break while the ball is in play.

Want more quizzes on situations ranging from the routine to the arcane? Dutch referee Jan ter Harmsel has a series of quizzes, some of them quite difficult, at dutchreferee.com

Part I: Think you know the rules of soccer?

8 comments about "(Part 2) Think you know the rules of soccer? Try this quiz.".
  1. stewart hayes, July 16, 2022 at 8:29 p.m.

    15.  I'm glad there is at least one ref who makes those calls.  I don't think I have ever seen it happen at the pro level and even as recently as today.  Germany was the offending team multiple times in their high pressure defending and attacking match vs. Finland.

  2. Kent James replied, July 17, 2022 at 2:29 p.m.

    This is the most easily enforced and universally ignored rule in soccer, which discourages respect for the rules generally.  It is not a stupid rule that should be ignored or changed; failure to enforce the rule slows the game down, can provide an opportunity for mischief, and rewards the team that committed the foul.  


    It would be so simple and obvious to enforce, and it wouid change behavior immediately.  IF a player stops less than 5 yards from the ball (foul), you card them.  If they stop more than 5 but less than 10, you tell them to move back (and card them if they don't).  The only complication might be if the ball is not spotted where the foul is (the offensive player moves it up, e.g.).  In that case, the defender might stop less than 5 from the ball and still be 10 from the spot of the foul, but you can still enforce it simply; if the ref thinks the defender is right about the spot, the ball gets moved.  If the ref thinks the defender is wrong, the defender gets a card (so it's a risk the defender choosed to take).  


    The sad part of this is that this is often better enforced by teenage referees than by the pros.  

  3. Wayne Norris, July 16, 2022 at 10:10 p.m.

    15- the "sternly warn" is another example of the pu$$ifucation of American sports. The offending player clearly knows what he/she is doing and the teams should be warned before game and yellow at first instance. Same for the "kick the ball away" tactic. 

  4. beautiful game replied, July 17, 2022 at 11:24 p.m.

    Free kick rule exists on paper. When it's not enforced 99.9% of the time, the game and spectators suffer.

  5. Bill Dooley, July 17, 2022 at 9:58 a.m.

    15. If "C" were enforced from the first minute of the upcoming World Cup, the foolishness would stop worldwide.

    And what better opportunity is there than to teach this lesson (and that a coach can be ignorant) than when players are 12 years old. 

  6. R2 Dad, July 17, 2022 at 11:37 a.m.

    15. C all day. 98% of the time the defender is facing the ball, so it's not like the're cluelessly wandering around and happen to be in front of it. It's a ball game--everyone knows where it is when the whistle stops play. TheN, once you card the kid, are they angry they got caught or befuddled? I see anger. Here's your card, tell you coach he's too smart by half.

  7. jim broshar, July 17, 2022 at 12:36 p.m.

    I mean the author's name is literally 'pretty hard' so..


  8. Beau Dure replied, July 18, 2022 at 4:01 p.m.

    True.

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