The only reason I know that the centre circle exists in international football is to keep players out of the region before kickoff.

What are the other uses for it, if any? It would seem to be an imposing figure to only be used twice (or four times) a match.


Law 8, part 1, Kick-off states that the distance is required at all kick-offs, including those taken after a goal is scored.

Other than for kick-offs, Law 10, part 3, Kicks from the Penalty Mark also requires that

During kicks from the penalty mark

  • Only eligible players and match officials are permitted to remain on the field of play

  • All eligible players, except the player taking the kick and the two goalkeepers, must remain within the centre circle

In practical terms rather than in the letter of the law, the 9.15 metre radius of the centre circle is the same distance as required by opponents from the ball at a free kick (and of all players except the kicker at the penalty kick).

The centre circle provides a useful means of recalibrating the referee's mental ruler used to judge this distance, given the variation in shading, colouring and growth of turf that can make this judgement less accurate.

  • Do you have any evidence for your last answer, i.e. it serves as a reference for the 9.15m? Referees usually gauge the distance by walking 9 steps of around one meter. This is easier than mentally comparing the free kick distance to the kick-off circle. – E. Sommer Dec 16 '20 at 12:19
  • At a ceremonial free kick, the stepping is appropriate. When the free kick is taken quickly, there is no time to do it, and the referee has to judge whether an opponent is obligated to retreat or can play the ball immediately after the kick. – Nij Dec 16 '20 at 19:56

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