Ref Watch: Throw-ins, corner-kick own goals and the new rulebook

There were only five minutes left in the U-15 game when I first got yelled at by a parent.

While I was jogging back to the center circle while looking for the jersey number of the scorer who gave his team a three-goal lead, a dad started yelling at me about not calling a foul throw-in. The throw-in was barely inside the defending team's half and was the least significant contribution to buildup. The player had his foot on the sideline when he threw, which is OK.

But it provided another example of the added difficulty referees face while keeping their eyes on 22 players: Getting critiqued by people who don't make the effort to read the rulebook. 

Here's what it says about throw-ins:

1. stand facing the field of play.
2. have part of each foot on the touchline or on the ground outside the touchline.
3. throw the ball with both hands from behind and over the head from the point where it left the field of play.

I'd love to know what prompted IFAB to include the first violation. Besides being impossible to pull off under the other constraints, what could have sparked a crackdown on throwing while facing away from the field?

The second part is sensible. (But I do think it creates a massive waste of time at the younger ages to pause the game for one foot being off the ground.)

The third point is one that I believe refs themselves (at the youth level) haven't read closely enough. They'll call foul throws if the ball spins oddly, the kid's holding the ball awkwardly but has both hands on it, or twists the body while throwing. None of which is a violation.

But why "both hands from behind ... the head"? What possible unfair advantage can a thrower create by not starting from behind their head or why would that negatively affect the game?

Of course, the throw-in rule remains the same in FIFA's 2023-24 "Laws of the Game," whose only changes were described by Soccer America columnist Ian Plenderleith as "micro-tweaking" in his: "Soccer's Rules: What's changed for the 2023-24 season" piece, which is a fine way to update yourself the slight updates, as is IFAB's own presentation.

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I'm confident no one has perused the FIFA rulebook throughout the decades as throughly and adeptly as Soccer America columnist Paul Gardner.

Years ago he challenged me to find its silliest sentence. So whenever the new season's version comes out, I check if it's still there.

"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." (underline added)

For the 2023-24 season, the corner-kick own goal remains illegal.

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The 2023-24 FIFA rulebook and ref resources 

To purchase hard copy: HERE  or HERE.

IFAB: 2023-24 rulebook (available in English and various languages): HERE.

IFAB rule app: HERE.

IFAB's explanation of changes 2023/24: HERE.

U.S. Soccer's Pocket Guide: HERE.


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Refereeing in Soccer America

Among our recent ref, rules and officiating coverage and commentary:

1. Nick Primavera: The CEO of professional refs has deep roots in American soccer  By Dan Woog 

2. What happens when a team stops yelling at the ref? By Ian Plenderleith

3. Watch: A 10-year-old ref at work in Bolivia

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Ref Coverage around the Web

1. Trailblazers: Nine PRO officials have been assigned to a World Cup final in a nine-month period (PRO Media)

2. Tori Penso: St. Pete mom, World Cup ref still ‘dreams big’  By Mark Parker (St. Pt Catalyst)

3. Stoppage time: Pierluigi Collina praises referees for applying 'Laws of the Game'  By Pierluigi Collina (InsideFIFA)

4. Match Officials Mic’d Up: what the new TV show tells us about referees By Ed Aarons (The Guardian)

5. Which soccer leagues and cups don't use VAR? By Kyle Fansler (World Soccer Talk)

6. Mike Dean on his colorful life with the whistle, hating being a VAR, and why he wasn't an 'arrogant' referee, 'just confident' By Kieren Gill (Daily Mail)

7. PRO's Inside Video Review with Greg Barkey  MLS | NWSL

1 comment about "Ref Watch: Throw-ins, corner-kick own goals and the new rulebook".
  1. Randy Vogt, September 11, 2023 at 8:40 p.m.

    Mike and Paul, I actually had a corner kick own goal in one of my games approximately 15 years ago, but it was a futsal game. Knew that the goal was not legal and the restart is a corner kick on the other side of the pitch. This is covered in Law 17 on Corner Kicks in the Futsal Laws of the Game as well.

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