Law 8.2 Clarity – When the Ball Hits the Ref

Question (from Paul Steele):

Law 8.2 says in part:  “In all other cases, the referee drops the ball for one player of the team that last touched the ball at the position where it last touched a player, an outside agent or, as outlined in Law 9.1, a match official”

In the spirit of the law, if a passed ball deflects off a defender (who didn’t play the ball, but only had it deflect off some part of their body) and strikes the referee, shouldn’t the dropped ball be awarded to the offensive side that last had possession and attempted the pass?  Again, in the spirit of the law.

And is there any official commentary on this portion of Law 8.2?


Paul, thank you for your question.

Unfortunately, IFAB made it very clear on this one. IFAB uses the specific word touched.  As referees we have a lot of flexibility in our judgement, many aspects of what we call (or don’t call) are ‘in the opinion of the referee (ITOOTR)’, but not when its this clearly specified in the Laws of the Game (LOTG).

To further add confusion, if the ball hits the referee and goes out of play, the restart (throw in, corner or goal kick) goes to the opponent.  I.e., Blue kicks the ball, it hits the referee and goes over the touchline, the restart is a throw in for Red.

I think many of us were looking for an update from IFAB on this one, but it looks like we’ll need to wait until next year to see if they update it.