Everyone remembers Benzema's "La croqueta" against Atlético Madrid in the 2nd leg of 2016/2017 Champions League's semi-final, right?

                                             enter image description here (Source)

Now that you've remembered, my question is what if Benzema would have been fouled behind the goal line (outside the pitch) near the penalty area when the ball is still clearly in the field? How the game would have been then restarted, namely, if Benzema was fouled at this very moment:

enter image description here

The possible outcomes that I think of are:

  • Penalty (benefits non-offending team)
  • Indirect free kick from the nearest spot to the foul (benefits offending team)
  • Dropped ball from the nearest spot to the foul (benefits offending team)
  • a foul outside the playing field is seen as deliberate, and is an automatic red.
    – JMP
    Aug 16, 2017 at 10:50
  • 1
    @JonMarkPerry Who told you that? Fouls outside the field are judged just like any other, and deliberate fouls aren't even necessarily a caution, let along a sending-off. Aug 16, 2017 at 12:44
  • @Jon, thanks for your comment, but even if what you're saying was true (which may be true in this case, but not always), that's not exactly my question. I'm more interested in how the game should be restarted. Please see edit.
    – gdrt
    Aug 16, 2017 at 13:02
  • @JMP sorry, that is just incorrect.
    – Sam
    Jun 7, 2021 at 1:58

2 Answers 2


Law 12.4 Fouls and misconduct / Restart of play after fouls and misconduct covers this explicitly:

If, when the ball is in play [...] a player commits an offence against a match official or an opposing player [...] outside the field of play, play is restarted with a free kick on the boundary line nearest to where the offence/interference occurred; a penalty kick is awarded if this is a direct free kick offence within the offender’s penalty area.

Therefore it would be a penalty in the specific case you highlighted.

  • Unfortunately, @JonMarkPerry deleted his answer too early but he also had good official references, namely his reference to this rule: If play is stopped by the referee to administer a caution, then the match is restarted by an indirect free kick taken by a player of the opposing team from the place where the ball was located when the referee stopped the match.
    – gdrt
    Aug 16, 2017 at 14:02
  • Yes, he made a wrong conclusion about awarding a penalty when the rule he was citing was talking about an indirect free kick. But now I think that the above rule adds some ambiguity to the problem, as an indirect free kick could also have been awarded. Yet, your reference is much stronger, but there's an ambiguity.
    – gdrt
    Aug 16, 2017 at 14:05
  • I can't find the quoted text in the new IFAB Laws (the quote was from the old FIFA Laws), so the problem may be moot. In any case, I'd interpret it as "If play is stopped by the referee solely to adminster a caution [...]", but I agree it's not entirely clear.
    – Philip Kendall
    Aug 16, 2017 at 14:40
  • 1
    This answer is correct. Play is stopped for the free kick offence. Naturally, if it was an indirect free kick offence (as some fouls are), it would be taken from the boundary line, but since the answer has inferred a direct free kick offence, the correct restart is a penalty kick. Aug 16, 2017 at 14:47
  • Either way the free kick would be on the line nearest the offence (or on the edge of the six-yard box as applicable). For a DFK inside the penalty area, it becomes a penalty as usual, which is the likely result here.
    – Nij
    Aug 16, 2017 at 19:08

As the last sentence in his reference to the Laws of the Game by @Philip in his answer still wasn't crystal clear:

a penalty kick is awarded if this is a direct free kick offence within the offender’s penalty area.

I have emailed IFAB to ask for their interpretation and I got an answer from Dr. David Roland Elleray MBE himself, Technical Director of The IFAB. With his kind permission I am now publishing it here:

Dear Gudrat

As contained in the revision of the Laws for 2016/17 (and extended in scope for 2017/18) it states in Law 12 that if a player commits an offence against an opponent off the field of play (with the ball in play) the referee awards a free kick on the boundary line closest to where the offence occurred. The free kick is direct or indirect depending on the offence.

If the offence is one punishable by a direct free kick and the point on the boundary line is within the offender’s penalty area then a penalty kick is awarded. [emphasized by me]

I hope this clarifies matters for you.

Best wishes
David Elleray
Technical Director of The IFAB

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