LOTG: Law 10–Determining the Outcome of a Match

Laws Of The Game: Key Concepts of Law 10

Law 10: Determining the Outcome of a Match


A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line (there we go again with that ‘whole of the ball’ thing), between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no offence has been committed by the team scoring the goal.”


This is one of the most important aspects of your job—in addition to helping with Offside offences which we will get to later—seeing whether or not a goal was scored!  You can only succeed at this job by hustling and being in the right place at the right time. Which means being at the goal line when the ball either crosses, or does not cross, the plane of the goal line.  As an AR you must be able to signal with confidence to your Center Referee that you either saw the ball completely cross over the goal line (and within the goal frame) or saw that the ball did not completely cross the goal line. This is the “goal/no goal” decision, and debatably the most important decisions the Referee and AR will make during a match.

In order to succeed at this, you must try to keep up with the ball and be at the goal line at that moment!  Casually jogging along the touch line (sideline) toward the goal line, watching the ball (and admiring the attacker’s shot) as it hurdles toward the goal mouth will not get you there in time; there is no way you will be able to make that call and inform your CR as to whether or not the ball actually crossed the plane of the goal line (unless it obviously flies past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net).

There will be many situations in your games where the goalkeeper gets his/her hands on the ball and it rebounds/bounces in and around the goal line. “Did it go in? Did it not go in?” The only way you will know is if you had hustled down to that line in time to make the correct call. If you don’t appear to have been on the spot to make an accurate decision, you will have a hard time “selling your call” as an Assistant Referee.

Ooops, Wait, Ummm, That Wasn’t a Goal…

Following is an interesting statement found in Law 10 of the LOTG: “If a referee signals a goal before the ball has passed wholly over the goal line, play is restarted with a Dropped Ball.”

This statement, at first glance, seems to come out of nowhere, immediately following the previous explanation of “Goal Scored” in Law 10. Here’s what they mean:

This sort of scenario can happen when a shot on goal is made and there is some question as to whether or not the ball actually crossed the goal line. For instance, if there is a lot of activity (a lot of bodies) in front of the goal and the center referee (from his/her perspective) thinks a goal has been scored–and blows his/her whistle—but the Referee has got it wrong!!!

If the AR was in the right position at the right time (keeping up with the ball on a shot on goal as discussed above) to make the correct call, and sees something differently than the Referee’s perspective… that the ball did not actually cross the goal line(!)… and the Assistant Referee knows for a fact that it is a “NO GOAL” the AR must raise his/her flag, get the Referee’s attention, and let him/her know what really happened.

Here you have the potentially game-changing situation where the ball did NOT actually enter the goal (assuming the AR saw it clearly), the referee blew his/her whistle thinking that it did, and as a result play is stopped. Play should not have been stopped–referee made a mistake–because the ball did not actually cross the goal line and enter the goal!

This is one of the scenarios where the referee “…stops play and the Law does not require one of the above restarts…” (refer to Law 8: Start and Restart of Play). In this case play must be restarted with a Dropped Ball from where the ball was when the referee stopped play.

  • Note: since it is very likely that the ball will be somewhere within the Goal Area at the moment the referee blew the whistle (!), the Dropped Ball restart happens on the goal area line (6-yard), parallel to the goal line, nearest to where the ball was when the referee stopped play.
  • If the ball was somewhere else on the field of play, then that is where the Dropped Ball takes place.


The team scoring the greater number of goals is the winner. If both teams score no goals or an equal number of goals the match is drawn.”

Unlike most other sports that usually need to end with a victor, during the AYSO Fall season a game can (and often does) end in a tie or a “draw.”  If, at the end of AYSO regulation time, the score is tied, the match is over. A draw. We don’t keep playing until there is a winner.

For the Fall season games can end in a tie (draw).

During the end of season “Playoffs,” and “Tournament Play” final round (semi-final and final) matches, there needs to be a “winner.”  If the match is tied at the end of regulation there are a couple ways, in this order, that we can arrive determine the winner.

  • Two (2) additional periods of play, called “Extra Time,” will be added. Like the regulation-time halves, the two Extra Time periods must be of equal length. The lengths of these periods in AYSO will differ, depending on the Age Division of the players. At the end of these two periods, whoever has the greater number of goals is declared the winner.
  • In AYSO we do not have a sudden death/golden goal protocol. Both periods of Extra Time will be played out in their entirety.
  • If, at the end of the two periods of Extra Time the score is still tied, we go to “Kicks From The Penalty Mark.”


This is an exciting, nail-biting, way to determine a winner when a game cannot end in a draw.   As mentioned above, during the regular season of AYSO soccer, games are allowed to end in a tie/draw.  We do not need to have a winning team–although in Region 20 AYSO everybody’s a winner!   However, in tournament play where there must be a winner, if at the end of regulation time and two equal periods of extra time the score is tied, we need to conduct KFTPM.

Basically, it involves a shoot-off with the two teams taking alternate shots on the goal from a prescribed distance (the Penalty Mark). There is an initial round of 5 shots for each team, and if there is still a tie after this round the process continues with “pairs” of shots being taken by the opposing teams and the first team that has more goals after the “pairs” have taken their shots, we have a victor!!!

To more thoroughly explain the process of KFTPM we will dedicate a separate “article” on this exciting finale which you can find by going to the following link: Kicks From The Penalty Mark