Ball over the goal line or not? Situation from my game

Was the ball over the goal line or not? That’s always the most important question during a football game. Especially when it has a huge impact on the result of the game or when a lot is at stake for both teams. That’s what I experienced myself during a recent match.

Firstly, decide for yourself: has this ball crossed the line or not?

Ball over the goal line?

Did you made up your mind? How sure are you about the call? I would love to know what your opinion is on the situation, so please reply below.

Now back to the match situation. It was a game between two teams that could gain a spot in the promotion play-offs. Both teams hoped to win, but they would have to work hard for that. The score was already 0-1 and I kept up with play quite well. At the moment of this situation I was at the edge of the penalty area. The assistant referee was a member of the defending team, which usually will not lead to a signal for a goal in such situations.

You need to be 100% sure

Will it be 0-2 or remain 0-1? The ball is kicked away by the defender.  It touches the bar and bounces back onto the field of play.

That’s the moment you have to make the call.

And I decide to NOT call the goal. However it is a close call, you don’t have a view that is good enough. As center referee you don’t have proper view on this, even if you’re positioned just in the box. This situation is not clear enough for me.

And you need to be 100% sure.

No moaning from the players

At this point the team was already in the lead. And less than 10 seconds later the ball enters the goal, no doubt about that one. As referee you’re not favouring one of the teams, but I can tell you that goal helps you. The team is satisfied because they have scored a goal, which means they’ll celebrate and not moan at you.

Tips for game management

But what if the team didn’t score a goal immediately? After the game they might have understood that you were close, but it was too difficult to make that call. But during the game emotion will take over. How would you manage a situation like that? 2 very important tips to manage these situations:

  • No matter what: Keep calm. It will get worse if you react emotionally too.
  • Don’t tolerate dissent. If you let things go, it might get worse. Make sure that they have crossed a line with a verbal warning or by showing acard.

Share your tip to manage dissent


  • Niclas

    I’d say GOAL, but you can never be sure without assistants and with normal in-game-positioning. Additionally I think 2 further things are important on top of the ones mentioned by you, Jan:

    1) Accept that emotional reactions from the side that suffers from your decision will most likely crop up. It would be unnormal if everything stays calm. Accept it as a normal human reaction, but nonetheless demand respect, react to dissent.

    2) Communication is decisive here. Players will most likely accept your call (such as NO GOAL) by telling them “I cannot judge on speculation!” or “Sorry mate, it might have been in, but from my position it was impossible to see – if it was in, I am sorry!” or “Do you see assistant referees?!” – I made the experience that such verbal strategies – underlined by body language – make them accept your call in unclear GOAL/NO-GOAL situations more likely.


    • Jan ter Harmsel

      Thanks for this extra info you posted when I was on holidays, Niclas.

      Great addition to the story. If I update it, I’ll add these as well.

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