What Happens If the Ball Hits the Ref in Soccer?

What Happens If the Ball Hits the Ref in Soccer?

If the ball hits a referee in soccer, the game should restart with a dropped ball to the team who last kicked it.

According to FIFA Law No. 9, if the ball hits the referee during a match, the ball is considered out of play and a drop ball occurs as a result. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. If a team commences a promising attack or the ball goes directly into the goal, play should continue.

Key Takeaways From This Article:

  • A dropped ball occurs if the referee is hit with the soccer ball in the middle of a game.
  • The referee will let the play continue if the attacking team has the momentum to score.
  • Having your pass hit the ref is frustrating but try your best to play on until he or she blows their whistle. Some referees will just let play resume or may not be familiar with the rules.

Honestly, I’ve seen a game won just by the kids not knowing the rule. The players stopped playing as soon as the ref got hit with the ball but the attacking team kept playing and eventually scored! The final score in that game was 3-4.

In this article, we will explore the details of this scenario and cover the dynamics involved in a referee’s handling of the ball.

Rules Regarding Referee Interference

Let’s face it, a referee can get hit by the ball, obstruct a player’s movement, or even make a wrong call. And, this is all part of the game. To minimize the impact of referee interference, FIFA has set rules that determine how the game should proceed in such situations.

Unintentional Interference

Unintentional interference occurs when the ball hits the referee, or the referee obstructs a player’s movement accidentally. In these situations, the referee will stop the game immediately if the interference directly affects the flow of the game. The game should be restarted using a dropped ball at the position where the ball was when the interference occurred.

Here’s a caveat…if the ball hits the referee and goes into the goal, the goal should be awarded if the ball was going into the goal anyway.

Consequences and Actions

Restarting Play

According to Law 9, if the ball hits the referee during a match, the ball is considered out of play. The game should be restarted with a dropped ball if the soccer ball remains on the field of play and:

  • A team commences a promising attack.
  • The ball goes directly into the goal.

Disciplinary Actions

If the ball hits the referee, it is not considered a foul.

However, if a player intentionally hits the referee with the ball, it is considered a red card offense. The player will be sent off the field, and the opposing team will be awarded a free-kick. I mean, there’s no need for any player to do this.

It is important to note that the referee has the final say in all decisions regarding the ball hitting them. The best thing you can do is know the rule, play until the whistle is blown, and live with the ref’s decision.

Why It’s Important to Know This Rule


Knowing the rule regarding what happens if the ball hits the referee in soccer is important for both players and referees. It can affect the outcome of the game and can also prevent confusion and disputes on the field.

For players, understanding this rule can help them make quick decisions during the game. If a player is unaware of this rule, they may mistakenly believe that the game just stops leaving the opposing team to take advantage.

For referees, knowing this rule is crucial to maintaining control of the game. Failure to follow this rule can lead to confusion and disputes on and off the field.

Remember, when the referee gets hit with a ball, it should result in a dropped kick. But, sometimes, the ref will let the play continue if blowing the whistle would impede the attack.

Beau Bridges - Soccer Novo Hey 👋 I’m Beau. A proud Dad, former coach and soccer enthusiast. I continue to love the game of soccer today the same way I did when I was 7. I created soccernovo.com to share what I know about the game as well as provide a platform so other parents can learn more about youth soccer in the U.S.

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