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FIFA soccer laws: Throw-in infringements

Updated on June 23, 2011


At high levels of football (soccer), you rarely see a foul throw, which is one that does not conform to the throw-in procedure or necessary conditions.

For instance, if the thrower does not face the field of play when executing the throw, a foul throw has occurred. Another important criteria is having both feet on or behind the touchline.

The proper hand position for a throw. Any significant deviation to either side can result in a foul throw.
The proper hand position for a throw. Any significant deviation to either side can result in a foul throw.
The proper sliding technique for the throw. If the tip of the back foot is off the ground, it is a foul throw.
The proper sliding technique for the throw. If the tip of the back foot is off the ground, it is a foul throw.

The foul throw

Arguably, the most common throw-in infringement is having one or both feet completely or partially off the ground when taking the throw. Technically, a player can take a throw with only the tip of both boots on the ground (although that would be painful). At higher levels of football, throwers may drag the tip of the trailing boot along the surface for a more efficient throw.

A proper throw is one that comes from overhead as well. FIFA's law 15 strictly prohibits throwing to one side of your head or another. The likely reason is that players would virtually make one-handed throws by using the leading arm. Having the throw come from overhead limits the range of motion for the thrower, although this does not hamper exceptional throwers.

Some players also bounce the ball in front of them when they fail to release the ball overhead. There is no strict measure for the referee, but a thrower should not release the ball after the ball drops below his eye-level.

You can't do this deliberately...

Other infringements

Besides the foul-throw, the thrower can commit other infringements associated with the throw-in.

Touching the ball a second time

The thrower cannot play the ball a second time unless it has touched another player. If the thrower does this, he referee should award an indirect free kick to the opponent from the spot where the second touch occurred.

Ball thrown straight into goal

If the thrower throws the ball into his own goal, the referee should award a corner kick. Once a thrower throws the ball directly into the opponents' goal, the referee should award a goal kick to the defending team.

Reckless or dangerous play from a throw-in

It is important to note that a throw-in is not the time to exact revenge on an opponent or the referee. If you take a throw-in properly but deliberately smash the ball against an opponent, teammate or official in a careless, reckless or dangerous manner, the referee will caution or dismiss you. For instance, if the throw-in in the video were deliberate, the thrower might have been cautioned. However, if the thrower plays the ball off an opponent in a manner that is not careless, reckless or dangerous, play should continue.

Ball touching the ground before it is in play

When the ball touches the ground before entering the field of play after the thrower properly executed the throw, the team in possession can retake the throw. If the thrower improperly executed the throw and this occurs, the opposing team should take the throw.

Appropriate distance

Opponents must adhere to the 2-metre rule when defending a throw. Law 15 does not permit any opponent to be within 2 metres of the touchline from the point at which the throw is being taken. Failure to adhere to this can result in a warning first and then a caution (yellow card). The opponent must also desist from distracting the thrower in any way while the thrower is executing the throw.


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