Ball in and out of play
Under the rules of soccer, the ball is either in play or out of play. Each half of the game starts with a kick-off and continues until the end of the playing period. The ball is in play at all times, unless the ball leaves the field or play is stopped by the referee. When the ball leaves the field, it is out of play. Play is restarted by one of eight restart methods, depending on how it left the field.
When the ball goes out of play, the ball is put back into play be the appropriate restart. The restarts in soccer are:
1. Kick-off: following a goal by the opposing team, or to begin each period of play.
2. Throw-in: when the ball has entirely crossed the touch line (gone out of bounds on the longer side of the field); awarded to opposing team to that which last touched the ball.
3. Goal kick: when the ball has entirely crossed the goal line without a goal having been scored and having last been touched by an attacker; awarded to defending team.
4. Corner kick: when the ball has entirely crossed the goal line without a goal having been scored and having last been touched by a defender; awarded to attacking team.
5. Indirect free kick: awarded to the opposing team following “non-penal” fouls (like obstruction, offside, etc.), certain technical infringements, or when play is stopped to caution/send-off an opponent without a specific foul having occurred. Indirect means that a goal cannot be scored directly from the free kick, a second player would have the touch it first.
6. Direct free kick: awarded to fouled team following certain listed “penal” fouls. A goal can be scored from a direct free kick.
7. Penalty kick: awarded to fouled team following “penal” foul having occurred in their opponent’s penalty area. The only defender is the goalie.
8. Dropped-ball: occurs when the referee has stopped play for any other reason (e.g. a serious injury to a player, interference by an external party, or a ball becoming defective). This restart is uncommon in adult games.
Once the ball is out of play, the only restart is the restart appropriate for the reason the ball went out of play in the first place; subsequent actions do not change the restart.
The referee can change the call as long as the play has not restarted, sometimes a change may occur after a discussion with the assistant referees. For example, if the ball has gone out of play because the ball was kicked into goal by Team A and the referee has signaled that a goal has been scored, but then notices that an assistant referee has indicated a foul by a Team A player immediately before the goal was scored, the referee would change to the correct restart of a free kick to Team B where the foul occurred.