Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 35248

Law 1- The Field 11/24/2023

RE: Competitive Under 15

Patrick of Hershey, PA USA asks...

If the player grabs and moves the corner flag, does the flag get replaced before the ball is played or is possession lost

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Patrick ,
what results will depend on the why it occurred, as well as the when.
Why would a player DELIBERATELY remove the flag? Especially during live play?

Possibly if an attacker was using the corner flag area to waste some time, a defender might try to get through to challenge by yanking it out of the way. I have admonished players from grabbing it and using it to balance as they shield the ball and shoulder charge each other. I suppose if the player or team with ball possession grabbed a flag and pulled it out of the ground creating a reason to stop play for USB OR VC misconduct where they could lose ball possession and have a free kick awarded against them. The goofy player cautioned or sent off depending on what occurs . The restart location should occur from the point of the misconduct. Either an INDFK or a DFK if the flag was used as a striking weapon.

I have seen players =AFTER= play is already stopped and before a restart, irritated at a flapping or leaning over flag that was hindering or making taking the corner difficult. attempting to reposition them out of the way or toss them on the ground but as that is not allowed. There is no loss of possession as the ball is not yet in play. Their action is at worst just misconduct and while the player could be cautioned and shown a yellow card I make them pick it back up and put it back in place.

I have seen a few players kick the ball and knock it as well as slide via momentum taking it out by accident. Again here we just reset. We might be ok to wait for play to be in a neutral or in touch setting rather than whistle play dead, if the ball remains in play and the flag is not dangerous in any way ie broken or sharp sticking up. In which case, if it was unsafe, in the interest of safety, the match should be halted and the flag reaffixed correctly. . Each referee would have to weigh the consquences of delay. Nowadays the DB is not so contentious a restart. If the ball has gone into touch the flag would be fixed before any restart!

I have often on my travels witnessed very unsafe mental holders that permit flags to be above ground in such a way that, in my opinion, were so hazardous to players I refused to play the match until they were removed. I do dislike the spring loaded ones even though they can bend easily if ran into, it is the SNAP back, that can be vicious. In a Match between Canada and I think it was El Salvador many years back I watched a idiot player deliberately grab it, hold it down, then release it into the nearby opponent. THAT little trick earned a direct red card send off for VC and they were reduced to 10. I like the in ground plastic poles with magnets but as long as they are the right height and safe, the games continue!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Patrick
Law 17 requires that the flag is in place before the kick. So if a player was to remove it a referee should intervene immediately and request replacement of the flag. Once the flag is replaced the kick may be allowed to be taken.

Prevention is better than cure and a referee should ensure that the corner flags are properly positioned before kick off so that there is no need for a player to touch the flag.
In the past on those spring loaded ones I have positioned them if they are twisted that the flag part is positioned behind the goal line so that it does not impede a kick in any way. On regular flags that are leaning I spend some time ensuring that the flags are properly set so again there is no impeding of the kick.

In the case of a kick that touches the flag the referee has to decide if the flag was accidentally removed before the kick in which case it is a retake. If the ball does not move it is mute as the ball was never in play. The flag is replaced and the kick taken.
If the flag is not dislodged in the kick then play continues on what will probably be a mis kick by the taker.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Patrick,
I'm going to take it that you mean this scenario is occurring at a corner kick and if so, then if the flag is moved in some kind of effort to facilitate the taking of the kick, the referee must have it replaced immediately - or at least, before the kick is taken. Possession is not lost (not least because the ball is dead and so nothing can change the restart).

I suppose that depending on the manner in which the flag is removed and what the player does with it afterwards, the referee might consider a caution for unsporting behaviour but that would be unusual and even if it did happen, the restart would still not change.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


As a former PIAA official, I would like to provide a response for this situation if this was a high school game. In high school play, the corner flag is not to be moved. A player moving the flag can result in a warning or caution for delay of game. If there is a problem with the flag being incorrectly placed, the official should stop the game and replace the flag in the proper position.

Hopefully, the high school championship games will one day return to Hershey.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe Manjone

View Referee Joe Manjone profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 35248
Read other Q & A regarding Law 1- The Field

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The free opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members. While there is no charge for asking the questions, donation to maintain the site are welcomed! <>