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Football, the world game, the beautiful game, soccer - call it what you will,  it's a great game but sometimes it's hard to get a good handle on the rules and understand decisions that referees make (or even should have made). This page is designed for players, parents coaches and anyone else involved in our game (including referees!!) and gives YOU  a chance to seek out some answers about how the Laws of the Game work.


So if you have a question regarding the laws of the game or about  a situation that occurred on the field, type it in below and try and get it answered. Answers will always be generic i.e. we will address the Law as it applies to questions that you have, but we won't identify any particular game. Your question may be about a game you watched, played or refereed (sometimes there's a nagging question of "did I make the right call?"). It may be about an SCCSA game or another competition (Fed, school game, a game on TV) or you may simply have a "what if" type question. Let's get some questions in and we'll see what answers we can find!


In a pre-season trial game last week, an attacker was chasing a through ball and looked certain to get it, beat the goalkeeper  and score. With the ball near the penalty spot, the goalkeeper slid for the ball and got a foot to it but also clipped the foot of the attacking player. The referee immediately blew for a penalty but only gave the goalkeeper a yellow card. Surely if the goalkeeper prevented a certain goal in this manner, he should have been sent off. Why did he only get a yellow?



Denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity (DOGSO) by an offence that is punishable by a free kick or penalty has in the past, resulted in an automatic red card. So under the rules that WERE, the goalkeeper would have been heading for the showers. But that’s all changed. Under the new provisions of Law 12, where, in the opinion of the referee, the defender has made a genuine attempt to play the ball and where the incident (the offence) is below waist height, the referee should award a penalty kick but only CAUTION (yellow card) the offending defender. So the referee in the game you ask about sounds as though he/she got it 100% right. The reasoning here is that the offending team is sufficiently punished by the awarding of a penalty – an almost certain goal. To doubly punish the team by sending off the player may be seen as an over punishment. Had the offence occurred OUTSIDE the penalty area and the referee considered it to be a genuine DOGSO, he/she would have awarded a free kick to the attacking team and sent off (red card) the goalkeeper – there would be no double disadvantage – in other words, its either a penalty or a send off, but not both. Bear in mind however, that if the referee ruled that the tackle used excessive force, the goalkeeper would be sent off (red card) regardless of where the offence occurred and regardless of whether penalty or direct free kick followed, but the send off would NOT have been for DOGSO, it would be for serious foul play.    


In a game I was watching recently, an attacker ran forward into the penalty area and was now closer to the goal line than the second last defender. As he ran though, his team mate kicked the ball through, catching the first attacker off guard and actually hitting him in the middle of his back, from where the ball deflected to another attacker who shot and scored. The kicker was clearly ONSIDE and the other attacker did not attempt to play the ball (he didn’t have a chance to do so as it hit him on his back!), but the goal was disallowed. Given that the kicker was onside and the other attacker was struck accidently, surely the goal should have been awarded.



I see your logic, you are trying to say that the attacker who was struck by the ball clearly gained no advantage from being in an offside position, so shouldn’t have been penalized for being offside. Nice try, but unfortunately wrong. Football is a TEAM sport and the accidentally offside attacker’s team gained an advantage because the ball deflected to a team mate and that player scored. So, would the ball have changed direction and gone to the scoring player if it hadn’t hit the offside player? The answer is NO, so the attacking TEAM gained an advantage from having one of its players in an offside position, that player became involved in active play when the ball him and so he had to be penalized for being offside. He might have been very unlucky, but he was guilty of an offside offence.


In a recent game, the ball went over the side line for what we thought was our throw in, but the ref gave it the other way. One of our players was unhappy with the ref's decision and kicked the ball away in disgust. The referee gave him a yellow card and send him to the sin bin for 10 minutes. Is this a new rule? If so, what do you get sin binned for?


The referee was totally correct in sending off your player for 10 minutes. The IFAB (the body that makes the rules for football) introduced the concept of temporary dismissals (commonly called the "sin bin") in its most recent revision of the Laws Of The Game. The sin bin rule applies to all forms of football except that which classed as "elite" level by National bodies. In Queensland, that means that the law applies to all football except A League, NPL and QPL matches. The IFAB left it to National bodies to decide if the "sin bin" would apply to all or just some offences and, in Australia, it has been decided to follow the English FA's lead and use the "sin bin" only for those who commit dissent. This means that any player who dissents from a decision of the referee (or assistant referees) will be shown the yellow card (caution) AND spend a period of time in the "sin bin". Dissent may be verbal (saying things like "There's no way he was offside" etc) or simply by action (things like kicking the ball away, showing "the bird" etc). If the referee determines that the words or action demonstrated dissent, then the player will be cautioned for dissent AND sent to the "sin bin" (unless it's the player's second caution in the match - then it becomes a red card and the player cannot return to the field). Generally, the length of time in the "sin bin" depends on the length of the game. In SCCSA games, if each half is 40 minutes or more, the suspension lasts 10 minutes, if halves are less than 40 minutes, the suspension is 5 minutes. In some other competitions, the 10 minute suspension comes into effect if the game has 35 minute halves. During the time in the "sin bin", the player returns to the team bench until the suspension period is completed and will then be waved back on by the referee. During the period of suspension, the player's team plays one player down (i.e. the suspended player cannot be replaced by a substitute).


Is it possible for the attacking team to get an indirect free kick in their opponent's penalty area? I thought that free kicks to the attacking team in the opposition's PA were dot shots.


Certainly not all free kicks in the penalty area are Penalty Kicks. There are specific offences for which a Direct Free Kick is awarded (things such as intentional hand ball, a tackle that is considered by there referee to be careless, reckless or made with excessive force). If one of these offences is committed by the defending team in its own penalty area, then instead of a Direct Free Kick from where the offence occurred, it becomes a Penalty Kick. For all other offences, an Indirect Free Kick is awarded, regardless of whether the offence occurred inside or outside of the penalty area. So, for example, if the ball is kicked to the goalkeeper by a team mate and picked up by the goalkeeper, an Indirect Free  Kick is awarded, if is picked by any other defender in the Penalty Area, a Penalty kick would be awarded. The same applies if a defender is guilty of Dangerous Play - e.g. kicking at a height that is near to an opponent's face, an Indirect Free Kick would be awarded, however if contact with an opponent is made by the kicker, it would become a Penalty Kick. The list of Direct and Indirect Free Kicks can be found in Law 12.


If a player arrives after half time, is he/she still allowed to play?


There is nothing in the Laws Of The Game about a player arriving late, so each local competition or Football Association makes it's own rule about this. The general practice (i.e. the practice that seems most common in grassroots football competitions) has been to require players to sign on before or, at the latest, during the half time break, but it is NOT a universal rule - it's entirely up to the organisation in charge of each competition. 

For those involved in Sunshine Coast Churches Soccer Association matches, there is, at present, NO local rule / by-law that prevents a player from arriving and participating in a match at any time - so if a player arrives in the final 5 minutes of a game, they ARE permitted to play for those last 5 minutes. It should be noted that there is a proposal to change this and add a local rule that requires a player to arrive before a certain point in the game. If that motion becomes a competition rule for SCCSA, this answer will be updated - but until that happens a player MAY arrive at ANY stage of the game and be allowed to play.

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