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: 35568

Law 15 - The Throw In 6/10/2024

Petr of Prague, Czech Republic Czech Republic asks...


I have one throw-in problem, please.

Law 15:

- An opponent who unfairly distracts or impedes the thrower (INCLUDING MOVING CLOSER THAN 2 M (2 YDS) TO THE PLACE WHERE THE THROW-IN IS TO BE TAKEN) is cautioned for unsporting behaviour, and if the throw-in has been taken, an indirect free kick is awarded.

- If a player, while correctly taking a throw-in, deliberately throws the ball at an opponent in order to play the ball again but not in a careless or a reckless manner or using excessive force, the referee allows play to continue.

S1: The defender moves from 3 meters to 1.5 meters. The player does not interfere in any way except by shortening the distance. The ball is normally played by the thrower's teammate. Do I punish the defender afterwards?

S2: The defender moves from 3 meters to 1.5 meters. The ball bounces from him to the thrower and he gains an advantageous situation. Do I punish the defender afterwards?

S3: The defender moves from 3 meters to 1.5 meters and interfers. The ball bounces from him to the thrower and he gains an advantageous situation. Do I punish the defender afterwards?

Will the referee possibly assess differently in situations S1 to S3 if the defender's team wins the ball?

I find the fourth one the most interesting :-)

S4: It's a 'quick' throw-in. The defender does not have time to move 2 meters away. The ball bounces from him to his teammate.

If it was about preventing the goalkeeper from releasing the ball or shortening the distance during a free kick, then the rule would not be so strict.

(Preventing the goalkeeper from releasing the ball is often without a yellow card. A bad pass intercepted by a defender who is closer than 9.15 meters is almost always without the intervention of the referee. Not to mention when he doesn't even touch the ball.)

Isn't that contradictory? Or is the throw-in rule poorly worded?

Thank you very much!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
Thanks for the question.
Like all Laws it is there to ensure that the game is played fairly and in the manner intended.
The game does not want opponents stopping throw ins by going close to the thrower. A referee has to decide if the action was unfair or not, based on what transpires and what impact it has on the game.
In S1 while the opponent may have come closer, the referee does not have to get involved as play continued normally. A caution would not normally be required and perhaps a quiet word with the opponent would be suffice at a stoppage advising the player not to go close to throw ins.

In S2 it is going to be trickier. Is a referee going to be able to immediately recognise an advantage by allowing play to continue. I suspect not plus the opponent is going to be close to the thrower and the rebound. Play can be allowed to continue yet the game may require the full rigour of the Law to be enforced. If play continues I might not caution the offender yet have a public word. I personally dont think it will work out with a good advantage yet that is all based on how the incident develops or not.

In S3 it will be the same as S2 with a judgement call to be made by the referee. My take on it is that it if is obvious and intentional a referee may not have the time and the presence to see advantage so it is likely that play will be halted and the appropriate action taken.

On S4 if the action is caused by the thrower with the opponent being unaware of the throw then it is play on much like the quick free kick that bounces of a retreating opponent.

As a general principle like elsewhere in the Law where advantage is played on an offence of interfering with or stopping a promising attack and advantage realised the player is not cautioned.
It also is not cast in stone and I have seen referees at the highest level caution after an advantage such as for an intentional jump up to impede the throw and advantage realised.
Here is one
Caution for trying to impede the throw in and then caution for stopping a promising attack.
Some argued that it was harsh yet also under the Law it was entirely correct. I think many referees may have gone with the one caution.
My opinion is that without the 2nd incident the referee was well entitled to caution for the throw in incident on its own at the next stoppage.

As in many situations a referee is given a great deal of latitude in how those situations are handled. If the Law was to be fully enforced to its written letter many games would not get finished as there would be multiple red cards for two cautions.
As a referee we should ask ourselves what does the game require and expect in every offence situation. Many times it does not require any further action other than perhaps advantage or a free kick. There are some must cautions/ dismissals which are spelt out in Law.
Circumstances will play a part such as for example last minute 0-0 and an opponent stops a throw in going to to an unmarked attacker in a promising situation. What will be expected? A caution
Same situation 7-0 blowout, game played in a good spirit, few if any cards and a player stops a throw in by jumping up. Is a caution going to be required? Maybe or maybe not

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Petr,
to reaffirm my colleagues position the throw in is a simple method to get play restarted quickly.

There are occasional incidents that seem to arise and compromise the situation.

One being the position along the touchline representing the ACTUAL throw in location.
The defenders are required to be 2 meters away but the thrower often CREEPS up the touchlines when advancing the ball so "who" is actually creating the distance reversal?

In all situations we consider the need to intervene to be based on the impact of the actions, involving a restart of play. If there is an advantage that arises from an illegal or USB action by the opposition in favour of the team taking the restart we generally go with the flow so to speak. Perhaps a word to the culprit responsible as a warning but as in any yellow card caution where we are applying advantage we CAN wait till the next stoppage to issue a DESERVED BLATANT necessary card!

There is a risk reward component to compromise ones self as a player and act against the LOTG. As my esteemed colleague Ref McHugh points out the circumstances of a match and the decisions necessary to bring the match to a safe successful conclusion have different agendas, thus different needs, thus different results.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 35568
Read other Q & A regarding Law 15 - The Throw In

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! <>