In the following scenario, can the referee cancel the goal?

  • The ball goes out of play.
  • A fight begins between to player of different teams.
  • The referee warns both players, ends the fight and restarts the play.
  • Plays restarts and one of the players who fought scores a goal just 10 seconds after the game restarted.
  • At the same time, assistant referee warns the head referee that the player who scored a goal had hit his/her opponent during the fight.
  • The head referee shows the player red card and sends him/her off.

In my opinion, the referee can send the player off but cannot cancel the goal, even though the goal was scored by the player who must have been sent-off. The reason why I think like that is, the position has changed after the fight. Am I right?

  • It depends on when the assistant has signaled the offence and what the call after the fight was.
    – dly
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 11:53
  • The assistant referee signaled just after the play restarted.
    – user20761
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 11:58
  • Since the ball was out of play during the fight, let us say the play restarted with a throw-in after the fight was settled-down.
    – user20761
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 11:59

2 Answers 2


The referee can not change a decision after restarting the game, unless it's an offence according to Law 12.3. or the assistant has signaled prior to the restart. Luckily enough a red card for punching someone is covered by 12.3.

This means the referee can send the player off.

Law 5 Referee

Except as outlined in Law 12.3 and the VAR protocol, a disciplinary sanction may only be issued after play has restarted if another match official had identified and attempted to communicate the offence to the referee before play restarted; the restart associated with the sanction does not apply.

And you're right. The goal does count. This is covered by Law 12.4. and even 5.2. itself (as highlighted above).

If the ball is out of play, play is restarted according to the previous decision.

The ball was out of play in your case, so it's simple. The game was restarted with a throw-in, which led to a goal. This was completely legal and even sending off the scorer afterwards doesn't change anything.


It actually doesn't matter what the restart of the game is. This can be a kick-off, corner, throw-in, free kick,... anything.

If the ball is not in play at the time of an offence the restart will not change. This also counts for throw-ins. As long as the ball is not in play the throw will be re-taken, even after a brawl.

Law 12.4. is very clear in that matter:


If the ball is out of play, play is restarted according to the previous decision.

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