IFAB Clarification: Law 16, The Goal Kick


IFAB Clarification: Law 16, The Goal Kick

August 2, 2019
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This year’s changes to Law 16 – The Goal Kick have often led to the game being restarted quickly and positively but there are two situations which have generated questions from across the football world which we would like to clarify.

1. Goalkeeper ‘lifting’ the ball to a team mate who heads/chests it back to the goalkeeper

There has been much debate about whether, at a goal kick, the goalkeeper is permitted to ‘lift’ the ball to a team mate to head or chest it back to the goalkeeper to catch and then put into play. The views of technical and refereeing experts about whether this is within the ‘spirit’ of the Laws is divided so the matter will be discussed by The IFAB. Until then, this practice should not be permitted nor should it be penalised. If it occurs the referee should order the goal kick to be re-taken (but without any disciplinary action).

2. Opponent in the penalty area when a goal kick is taken

Law 16 requires all opponents to be outside the penalty area until the goal kick is taken and if an opponent remains inside or enters the penalty area before the kick is taken and plays, challenges or touches the ball, the goal kick is retaken.

However, Law 16 also applies the ‘quick’ free kick principles outlined in Law 13 – Free Kicks, 3. Offences and sanctions that if any opponents are in the penalty areas because they did not have time to leave, the referee allows play to continue.  

In practical terms, this means that referees should manage goal kicks (and defending team free kicks in their own penalty area) in the same way as they manage free kicks:

- Unless the kick is taken quickly, opposing players should be required to be outside the penalty area and remain outside until the kick has been taken.

- If the kick is taken quickly and an opponent genuinely did not have time to leave the penalty area, the opponent may not interfere with or prevent the taking of the kick but may intercept the ball once it is in play. This is allowed because the defending team, as at a quick free kick, tried to gain an advantage by taking the kick quickly and if this ‘goes wrong’ the Law is not there to ‘save’ them.

- Players who deliberately remain inside or enter the penalty area before the kick is taken should not gain an unfair advantage, even if the kick is taken quickly.

If an opposing player commits an offence (as outlined above) the goal kick is retaken; there is no disciplinary sanction unless the offence occurs a number of times (persistent misconduct).

Referees are skilled at managing 9.15 meters/10 yards at free kicks and they should apply these skills and principles to the management of goal kicks and defending team free kicks in their own penalty area.

Link to circular no. 16 here.

Download circular no. 16 in English here.


IFAB Clarification: Laws of the Game 2019/2020 - Important Clarifications

August 21, 2019
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The IFAB has received much positive feedback on the impact of the changes to the Laws 2019/20 which have helped speed up the restart of play, reduce conflict and increase fairness. Understandably, there have been some requests to clarify certain aspects of the changes because of some apparent wrong understanding and application of the Laws. The Board of Directors of The IFAB has therefore issued circular no. 17 to help ensuring the Laws of the Game 2019/20 are consistently applied in all competitions organised by FIFA, the confederations and all national football associations.

The clarifications relate to the substitution procedure, the dropped ball, the requirement to use red and yellow cards for offences by team officials, the penalty kick/kicks from the penalty mark and the VAR protocol.

The change in Law 14 has given goalkeepers much greater freedom at a penalty kick (and a kick from the penalty mark) as they now only have to have at least (part of) one foot (rather than both feet) on the line when the kick is taken, with the additional freedom that the foot does not have to be touching the line but can be above it (in the air).

If the goalkeeper encroaches and saves the kick, the referee will order a retake. However, if the ball misses the goal or rebounds from the goalpost(s) and/or crossbar, referees usually apply the ‘spirit’ of the Law and do not order a re-take unless the encroachment clearly impacted on the kicker.

This continues to apply in VAR matches where the VAR must ‘check’ for any offence by the goalkeeper (and/or the kicker) and the VAR must inform the referee if there is clear replay evidence. If the replay evidence is not clear (because of camera position/angle, difficulty determining the exact moment the ball is played etc.) the VAR does not intervene.

In addition, at the request of a number of competitions, the dispensation given to FIFA and CONMEBOL in June 2019 not to issue a caution (yellow card) to a goalkeeper encroaching during kicks from the penalty mark can now be used by any competition using VARs but only for kicks from the penalty mark; it does not apply to penalty kicks during ‘normal’ time.

In addition to the requests for clarifications as outlined above, The IFAB has received very positive feedback to the changes to the goal kick and attacking players not being allowed in the defensive wall both of which have reduced management problems and speeded up the restart of play.

Link to circular no. 17 here.

Download circular no. 17 in English here.

Webinar For 2019-2020 IFAB Laws Of The Game Changes

August 14, 2019
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STSR has recorded a webinar on the 2019-2020 IFAB laws of the game changes with further explanations and questions answered during the presentation. To view this recorded webinar, go to the 2019-2020 Laws Of The Game Changes video or the STSR YouTube Channel.

STSR Regional Camp - August 2019

August 4, 2019
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Regional Camp Held In Austin, August 3, 2019

STSR held it bi-annual regional camp in Austin on August 3rd. Five separate fitness tests were run starting at 7:00 am and were completed at 11:00 am. After lunch, a psychology session was lead by Rochelle Caroon-Santiago Ph.D. and then there were several break out sessions which included a session on referee positioning, a session on the 2019-2020 laws of the game changes, and a session on AR positioning lead by Corey Parker - FIFA AR (AR for the 2019 U-20 World Cup Final in Poland).

The last session of the day was presented by Corey Parker and involved information on perception, deliberate vs deflection, a video offside test, and tips and tricks for ARs.

Thank you to all other presenters, the fitness test support team, attendees and the SRC team for an outstanding day for all.

2020 U.S. Soccer Grassroots Referee Re-Certification

July 22, 2019
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For any current grade 7, grade 8 or grade 9 referee, the 2020 grassroots re-certification course with additional requirements is now available - all online.

U.S. Soccer has transitioned to a new Learning Center/Registration Database for grassroots referees. All your license information that resided in the old database has been migrated to the U.S. Soccer Learning Center. In addition, the STSR will no longer be using our web site member sign-in for registration and re-certification of grassroots referees.

You must create a Profile in order to access your information, enroll for grassroots related courses and register starting now with U.S. Soccer for 2020.

To create your Profile, complete the following steps:

  1. Go to the US Soccer Learning Center at https://learning.ussoccer.com/referee/
  2. Fill in your name as it appears on your USSF ID Card.
  3. Fill in all the required information identified by an asterisk.
  4. Use the same e-Mail that US Soccer has on file for you.
  5. Check the 2 "Agree to" boxes.
  6. Click on SIGN UP NOW in the lower right hand corner of the screen.
  7. This should complete the process so that you can LOG IN next time using your e-Mail and Password you just created.

Sign up instructions are also provided at Learning Center Sign Up.

NOTE: If you are unsuccessful, e.g., you do not see all your current licenses listed in your Profile, then send an e-Mail to referee@ussoccer.org.


This grassroots re-certification course is hosted on the U.S. Soccer Learning Center.

Once you have officially signed up with U.S. Soccer, you can "LOG IN" again, click on "COURSES" in the upper left and under "AVAILABLE COURSES" click on Re-certification. Then set the "HOST" filter to South Texas Referee Committee and the "LOCATION" filter to All States to obtain the necessary results or you can find the re-certification course by clicking here. Please note the additional requirements in the course details.


IMPORTANT: US Soccer now requires ALL referees 18+ years of age to complete an NCSI Background Check in order to be able to register for 2020. Background Checks must be performed by the National Center for Safety Initiatives, LLC (NCSI). The cost is $30. You pay online with a credit card. You will not be able to register for any course in the Learning Center (including re-certification modules) until you have completed and passed the NCSI Background Check.

To initiate the background screening process, follow these steps:

  1. Login to the U.S. Soccer Learning Center at https://learning.ussoccer.com/referee/
  2. Go to your "Profile"
  3. Scroll down to "Background Screening"
  4. Click on "Initiate Background Screening"
  5. Follow the instructions provided

As a reminder, the law changes for 2019-2020 are extensive so you are strongly encouraged to please read the 2019-2020 law changes, watch the recorded IFAB 2019-2020 law change presentation webinar and download the IFAB app to your phone or mobile device.