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If a ball is kicked towards the goalpost, breaks mid-air (or during the kick) and only a piece gets into the goal (crosses the line) - is the goal going to be accepted?

There are some edge cases for this question:

  • what about two or more pieces flying towards the goal (and therefore making it difficult or impossible to stop them)?
  • if the integrity of the ball must be conserved - does "integrity" means "exactly one piece"? (could it be flat for instance?)

In other words: is there a clear standard for a ball to be accepted for a goal?

My son asked this question this morning and I could not find anything which would even be close to an answer (there were discussions about the net, which is less controversial)

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Law 2 Section 2 of the IFAB Laws of the Game covers the scenario you ask about:

If the ball becomes defective:

  • play is stopped and

  • restarted by dropping the replacement ball where the original ball became defective

If the ball becomes defective at a kick-off, goal kick, corner kick, free kick, penalty kick or throw-in play the restart is re-taken.

If the ball becomes defective during a penalty kick or kicks from the penalty mark as it moves forward and before it touches a player, crossbar or goalposts the penalty kick is retaken.

The ball may not be changed during the match without the referee’s permission.

If the ball breaks mid-air as you suggest, the play will be stopped and the ball will be replaced where the ball was broken. Even in case of penalties, the penalty is retaken if the ball bursts before making contact with any player or any part of the goal.

To answer your query regarding the integrity of the ball, Law 2 Section 1 covers the parameters to define a ball:

All balls must be:

  • spherical
  • made of suitable material
  • of a circumference of between 70cm (28ins) and 68cm (27ins)
  • between 450g (16oz) and 410g (14oz) in weight at the start of the match
  • of a pressure equal to 0.6 – 1.1 atmosphere (600 – 1,100g/cm2) at sea level (8.5 lbs/sq in – 15.6 lbs/sq in)

If the ball becomes flat or breaks into more than one piece, conditions 1, 3, 4 and 5 would be violated thus rendering the ball defective.

  • Thank you. Just in case the link you provided does not work (as it does not for me right now), the link to FIFA regulations is resources.fifa.com/mm/document/footballdevelopment/refereeing/… – WoJ Jan 30 '17 at 8:35
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    To anyone else reading this answer - I would advise that CodeNewbie's link in the answer is used, rather than the OP's link to the PDF on the FIFA website. The IFAB link is the authoritative source and a living document - it has an FAQ section that is updated with interpretations as necessary, and updated with Law changes as they occur (as often as annually). – studro Jan 30 '17 at 21:04
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    @studro: one learns everyday. I had no idea that there was something above FIFA (or at least the FIFA was following IFAB's interpretation of the football law). Thanks. – WoJ Feb 6 '17 at 16:08
  • As IFAB's dominant member, FIFA used to take a stronger role in administration of the Laws of the Game, since IFAB was was only ever active during its meetings (which occurred two or three times per year). However, as of 2014, IFAB is now an independent body with two full-time advisory panels, and as a result, has taken back responsibility for promoting, publishing and interpreting its Laws. – studro Feb 7 '17 at 20:57
  • FYI, the IFAB has five members - The FA (England), the Scottish FA, the FA of Wales, the Irish FA (Northern Ireland) and FIFA. The four national associations receive one vote, and FIFA receives four (as it represents the rest of the world). To pass amendments to the Laws of the Game, a three-quarters supermajority (six votes) is required. – studro Feb 7 '17 at 21:02

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