Offences when the ball is not in play

Because offences when the ball is not in play are rare, it’s unique to see it twice during one Bundesliga weekend. But how do you need to deal with it? Check out the clips and explanation below.

Felix Brych spots shirt-pulling

Firstly, a situation in the game between Eintracht Frankfurt and Mainz. Thanks to readers of my blog I got this video and tip. It’s an interesting situation. Check out the clip and the explanation below.

Mainz player Taiwo Awoniyi pulls the shirt of Dominik Kohr from Eintracht Frankfurt. The referee Felix Brych sees an offence inside the penalty area, but the ball is not in play yet. What is the correct restart in your opinion?

Violent conduct in corner kick situation

Secondly, there is a highlight from the game between Düsseldorf and Hoffenheim. Referee Sören Storks notices violent conduct in the penalty area and shows the offender a straight red card. Have a look!

LOTG on offences when the ball is not in play

The Laws of the Game are clear about situations like this. “If an offence occurs when the ball is not in play, this does not change how play is restarted.” And also: “If the ball is out of play, play is restarted according to the previous decision.”

Conclusion: both referees ordered the correct restart with a corner kick.

How to manage it, when teams want a penalty kick

The correct decisions are taken, but that keep in mind that you’re not there yet as a referee. Because players notice a foul in the penalty area, they want to see the ball on the penalty spot. That’s the moment you need to step up.

Game management is crucial there. Some advice and tips to keep in mind:

  • Pick the right moment to whistle. If the kick is not yet taken, prevent the player from doing so. Then the ball won’t swing in and it’s clear to everyone it happens before the kick is taken. But sometimes it happens just before the taker kicks it.
  • Avoid whistling and have the attackers score shortly after. What you don’t want to happen: you whistle after the ball is kicked, but then the attackers score. In the first video Felix Brych clearly waits to see what happens. The defenders clear the ball, so then he whistles.
  • Clearly communicate about the restart. Felix Brych first whisltes and clearly points towards the corner flag. For this yellow card offence he chooses to make clear first what the restart is. But referee Sören Storks (2nd video: Düsseldorf – Hoffenheim) has something different to deal with: violent conduct. What I liked is that he doesn’t give a strong and long whistle, as that implicates a penalty kick. He gets the attention with a few short, but loud blows on his whistle. Then he deals with the violent conduct and after that he gave the corner kick, but unfortunately that has been left out of this video cut.
  • Manage the situation. Explain your decision short, but clearly. Players will have questions about the restart, as they want a penalty kick. Felix Brych stays calm and tells the person who got fouled that the ball was not in play before the foul.

How would you have handled it?

I’d love to hear how you’d have handled this situation. And in general: What would you do to communicate with the players or coaches? I’d love hear from you in the comments below or as reply on my Instagram post.


  • Kristian Klette

    Thank you Jan for the clips – Great examples how to manage fouls when the ball’s not in play.

    In my opinion the referees made a big mistake in the second clip when judging the foul. If you watch the slow motion from 29 sec, it looks like the white defender pushes the attacker’s hand up into his own face. He goes down theatrically at the same time (note the legs buckle before he even gets hit), and succeeds in getting the opponent sent off.

    I’d be interested in your opinion once you re-watch the clip.

    Thanks and Greetings from New Zealand!

    • Jan ter Harmsel

      Hi Kristian, for me this blog post was about educating the restart when the ball was out of play. The red card decision might seem harsh indeed. In the blog I didn’t want to start a debate about that. Even with a yellow card, the restart would be the same. Well-spotted.

  • Ephraim W. Grant

    Jan! been a while. I think both referees did well to manage the restart in accordance with law.
    Brych was a bit slow in whistling and therefore got him lots to explain. Thanks for the videos.

    • Jan ter Harmsel

      He waited with a reason, so I’m fine with that. There’s no set limit of time there, but right after the defender heads the ball away, you can whistle if you wait.

    • Jan ter Harmsel

      The first video has sometimes Ads that you can skip after a few seconds. Videos links work here, so please check your settings.

  • pema

    Thanks Jan for the clips about how to manage the games and to go ahead with the restart of the games.
    i would like to have more video clips related to this so that i can use as teaching learning materials.
    thanks for the clips.
    regards from BHUTAN

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