In the Laws of the Game, there is a small—yet non empty—set of offences for which the referee must not immediately blow his whistle as he usually does for 'normal' fouls, but must instead allow play to continue, and caution the guilty player when the ball is next out of play.

Examples of such offences include swicthing places with the goalkeeper without informing the referee beforehand (Law 3.5):

If a player changes places with the goalkeeper without the referee’s permission, the referee (...) cautions both players when the ball is next out of play

or making unauthorized marks on the field of play (Law 1.2):

A player who makes unauthorised marks on the field of play must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour. If the referee notices this being done during the match, the player is cautioned when the ball next goes out of play.

These are infringements that do not naturally carry a restart with them (e.g. indirect free kick, direct free kick, dropped ball, etc.), since the Laws explicitly forbid the match officials from interrupting the game to deal with them, and only instruct the referee to issue the appropriate disciplinary sanction afterwards.

This said, let's move onto Law 10 (Law 10.1). Here we can read that:

A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no offence has been committed by the team scoring the goal.

First of all, it's obvious that this paragraph is only referring to those offences that are committed between the restart of play that is chronologically the closest to when the goal is scored and the goal itself, otherwise a team who commits a foul in the first minute of play would be forbidden from scoring a valid goal for the whole duration of the match.

So, to make an example, if a substitute enters the field of play just seconds before his team scores a goal, said goal must be disallowed, and play restarts with a direct free kick from the position of the extra person (Law 3.9) because this is the kind of penalty that is carried by the offence of entering the pitch without the referee's permission (Law 3.7).

But what about the offences I mentioned at the beginning of my question? There's not a specific restart of play attached to them. So, what do you do if a player makes unauthorized marks on the field of play just before his team scores a goal? What if a defender changes places with the goalkeeker without telling the referee, and then the new goalkeeper handles the ball within his penalty area, and throws it with the hands in such a powerful way that it directly enters the opponents' goal? It's obvious that such goals cannot be allowed, but how should play restart?

  • Should the match be resumed with an indirect free kick, on the basis that play was interrupted to show a card to a player who was guilty of an offence that is not mentioned in Law 12 (Law 12.2)? Though the game was technically NOT stopped to caution the player—it was stopped because the ball entered one of the goals; the Laws forbid the referee from stopping play solely to deal with these offences, after all. And anyway, where should this free kick be taken? From inside the goal area?
  • Should play restart with a goal kick/corner kick, on the basis that the ball crossed the goal line, but a goal was not scored (Law 16 Introduction, Law 17 Introduction)? If so, when is it a goal kick and when is it a corner kick? Should it depend on which player touched the ball last before it entered the goal, as is the case for 'normal' situations involving goal kicks/corner kicks?

2 Answers 2


Neither of the two suggested restarts are correct. The correct restart is a kick-off.

The Laws would explicitly state that a goal was to be disallowed for either of these offences, just as it does for Laws 3.7 and 3.9, if that was what was intended. Just to clarify, if a substitute enters the field of play and does not interfere with play, they are cautioned when the ball next goes out of play (according to Law 3.7) - the referee is not permitted to stop play. However, if a goal is scored, Law 3.9 states that the goal is disallowed, and a direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team from their position.

For both a goalkeeper changing places without permission, and a player making unauthorised marks on the field of play, there is no similar provision in the Laws of the Game. The goal is allowed, and the player(s) concerned are cautioned before the kick-off - just as stated in Laws 1.2 and 3.5.

  • But isn't Law 3.9 just a consequence of Law 10.1 (i.e. a goal cannot be scored if an offence has been committed previously by the team scoring it)? The way I see it, the IFAB felt like clarifying this scenario with its own paragraph because it's a situation that happens often (e.g. when substitutes enter the pitch to celebrate a late goal before the ball even crosses the line), while the other two offences are much rarer (never seen them happen with my own eyes). Yet this shouldn't change the fact that a goal can't be allowed if an offence was committed by the team that has scored it, no?
    – Labba
    Jul 2, 2018 at 20:04
  • Law 3.9 is needed because Law 3.7 says that the referee deals with the illegal entry when the ball next goes out of play. As IFAB didn't want the situation of a goal being allowed with an extra player on the field (even without interference), Law 3.9 was added. I'd say any Law that says an offence is dealt with when the ball next goes out of play trumps 10.1, but 3.9 was added to counteract this effect. Jul 3, 2018 at 3:47
  • @Labba if this reasoning still doesn't work, perhaps you could ask IFAB? The email address you want is [email protected]. In my experience, they write back fairly quickly and any answer is binding upon all football referees on the planet. If you post the reply here, I'll upvote it and you can mark it as the accepted answer. Jul 3, 2018 at 3:49
  • I would have assumed that if the referee is not to stop play for the offence, the logical conclusion is that any goal scored afterwards would stand, unless otherwise stated. Since the purpose (or 'goal' if you like) of play is to score a goal, what would be the point of letting play continue if that goal were to be disallowed?
    – komodosp
    Jan 31 at 9:57

Unauthorized marks don't require the ref to interrupt the game as you have already quoted from the LotG, so scoring a goal is completely fine. After that, the player can be cautioned. The ball is out of play when the goal is scored. The goal is good, because offenses preventing the goal from being good are the ones that have to be called right away.

If the ball is in play either side can score a goal, otherwise it would be impossible to draw the line of where you're allowed to score again. This also includes cautionable fouls where the other teams keeps the ball (advantage) and loses it some time later. The ball would still be in play in this situation.

The second offense is somewhat tricky, but if the ref doesn't know who the goalkeeper is it's plain bad luck. So when the ref doesn't know who the goalie in charge is and an on-field player uses his hands I'd call a penalty. Because if there are two offences at the same time you need to call the worse one. In this case it's a penalty for handling the ball. The player just wasn't allowed to switch places without notifying the referee. Depending on the situation (preventing a good goal or just catching a cross) the player has to be cautioned or even sent off and the goal he threw does not count, because handling the ball is an offense that stops the play.

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