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Dropped-ball in football.

A dropped-ball (or drop-ball) is a method of restarting play in a game of association football. It is designed to offer no advantage to either side, generally being awarded when play has been stopped due to reasons other than normal gameplay, fouls, or misconduct. The rules concerning the dropped-ball are part of Law 8 of the Laws of the Game.[1]


A drop-ball is not awarded to either team; rather it is used to restart play when the referee has stopped play for any reason not listed for another form of restart.[1] Examples include when play has been stopped due to serious injury to a player, interference by an external party, or a ball becoming defective.

In games which use video assistant referees (VAR), if a VAR review determines that play should not have been stopped, such as when a decision to award a penalty is reversed, play is restarted with a dropped ball at the point of the incorrect call.[2]


Howard Webb performing a dropped-ball in a Premier League match in 2007.

The ball is dropped by the referee at the point where the ball was when play was stopped, unless this is within a goal area in which case it is dropped on the goal area line parallel to the goal line. The ball becomes in play as soon as it touches the ground. Players must not touch the ball until it has touched the ground. If the ball leaves the field of play before it has been touched by a player (including if the ball enters either goal), the drop-ball is retaken.[1]

There is no restriction in the Laws of the Game as to how many players, if any, may take part in a drop-ball or where they may be positioned.[3] A team can choose not to commit any players and thus give the ball freely to the opposition.


If a player touches the ball before it touches the ground, the drop-ball is retaken.[1] If a player persistently touches the ball before it touches the ground, and the referee believes that the player is deliberately doing so, this may be considered misconduct and the referee may caution the player with a yellow card for delaying the restart of play.

In 2012 the Laws of the Game were amended[4] such that if a dropped ball is kicked directly into the opponents' goal, a goal kick is awarded (as is the case for an indirect free kick), or if a dropped ball is kicked directly into the team's own goal, a corner kick is awarded to the opposing team (which is the case for all restarts of play). A dropped ball is the only restart which allows the first player who touches the ball to touch it a second time without penalty. Like all indirect free kicks at least 2 players must touch the ball before a goal may be awarded.[5]

Use in the modern game

This method of restarting play is rarely used in modern adult football as many players sportingly elect to kick the ball out of play when an event requiring the stoppage of play – most often an injury – occurs. After the situation has been resolved, the opposing team typically, but not always, concedes possession to the other team after returning the ball into play, as a gesture of good sportsmanship.[6][7] If the referee does stop play and a dropped ball occurs, a similar return of possession is almost always made from the restart, with the ball being kicked back to the original possessors' defence.[8][9] Contested drop balls have become exceedingly rare in the modern game.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d "LAW 8 - THE START AND RESTART OF PLAY - FIFA.com". Retrieved 2014-02-04.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. ^ Floyd, Thomas. "How does VAR work? A guide to video review in MLS | Goal.com". goal.com. Retrieved 28 June 2018. 
  3. ^ "Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees: Law 8 - The start and restart of play - FIFA" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2012.  (88 KB)
  4. ^ FIFA Circular No 1302
  5. ^ www.thefa.com/football-rules.../lawsandrules/laws/.../law-8---the-start-and-restart-of-play
  6. ^ "Let's kick the uncontested drop ball into touch". Daily Mail. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Taken from FIFA.com – Laws of the Game
  8. ^ "Soccer Rules Q&A Search AskTheref.com". asktheref.com. Retrieved 2018-06-28. 
  9. ^ a b Sawdon-Smith, Dick (2013-10-16). "From the middle: When did you last see a contested drop ball after a stoppage for injury?". getreading. Retrieved 2018-06-28. 
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