Last updated on December 3rd, 2022
In other sports like basketball, the court’s line is considered as out of bounds.
However in soccer, the player’s position does not matter! It is only considered out of bounds when the ball fully crosses the line.
So how does this exactly work?
Does the whole ball have to cross the line in soccer?
The soccer ball has to fully cross the line (100%) before the ball is out of play or a goal is given. If the ball only crosses the line partially, it cannot be considered as a goal or a change of possession.
This is due to how the Laws of the Game define these 2 scenarios:
#1 A goal is only scored when it fully crosses the goal
In Law 10 of the Laws of the Game, it outlines the definition of how a goal is scored:
A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no offence has been committed by the team scoring the goal.IFAB
What this means is that the ball has to fully cross the goal line for it to be considered a goal. If even a small part of the ball is just on the line but not over the line, a goal will not be awarded!
A goal will be awarded so long as the ball crosses the goal line. In some cases, it may be quite hard to decide who to award the goal to, especially when you are deciding if it is an own goal or a deflection.
For example, you can see John Stone’s goal-line clearance in a match against Liverpool.
It is also possible for defenders and goalkeepers to score goals too.
From the goal-line technology check, you can see that the ball has not fully crossed the goal line. As such, it cannot be awarded as a goal!
Without goal-line technology, it will certainly be hard to make such a call!
#2 A ball is out of play only when it fully crosses the line
In Law 9 of the Laws of the Game, it defines one of the ways that a ball can be out of play:
The ball is out of play when it has wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the airIFAB
Similar to how a goal is scored, the ball has to completely cross the touchline to be considered out of play.
In a match between Ajax and Real Madrid, there was a contentious decision for Ajax’s 3rd goal.
During the build up play, Noussair Mazraoui tried to keep the ball in play. It looked like a really close call as the ball seemed to have crossed the touchline!
The video assistant referee (VAR) took a long time before finally deciding that the entire ball did not cross the line. As such, the ball was not out of play and the goal stood!
Japan vs Spain (World Cup 2022)
In another crazy example, Japan’s Kaoru Mitoma managed to just keep the ball in play before he assisted Ao Tanaka.
It was an extremely contentious decision as the ball was just in by millimetres, and to make matters worse, the angle that was shown on television wasn’t really clear.
This proved to be an amazing goal as Japan emerged victorious in this shock win against Spain!
How much of the football needs to cross the line?
100% of the ball has to fully cross the line, for it to be considered as a goal or out of bounds. If only half or even 99% of the ball crosses the line, it will not be counted as a goal or an out of bounds.
Is it a goal if the ball crosses the line in the air?
If the ball crosses the line fully in the air, it will still be considered as a goal. This can be done with the help of goal-line technology. The ball must be between the goalposts and under the crossbar, and no offence must have been committed before the goal is awarded by the referee.
The position of the player does not matter
In other sports like basketball, the position of the player matters. So long as the player steps on the line, he is considered as out of bounds.
However, for football, the player’s position does not matter! Even if the player steps out of bounds, the ball is still in play so long as it does not fully cross the touchline or the goal line.
The ball needs to cross the touchline or goal line entirely for it to be considered as out of bounds or as a goal.
Does the whole ball have to be out in soccer?
The whole ball has to fully cross either the touchline or the goal line to be considered to be out of bounds. The position of the player does not matter when deciding if the ball goes out of bounds.
A ball can still go out of bounds when it goes past the goal line! This usually happens when the shot on goal is off target.
If the goalie catches the ball in the goal, is it a goal?
A goal will be awarded only if the ball fully crosses the goal-line in the net. If the keeper is in the goal, but the ball has not fully crossed the goal-line, a goal will not be awarded.
For example, a goalkeeper may attempt to save the ball. During the process, he may enter the net.
You can see that the goalkeeper went into the goal, but the ball still has not crossed the line!
As such, no goal was awarded in this case!
Other goalkeepers may run into the net while they catch the ball. They will try to extend their arms such that the ball has not crossed the line yet.
However, sometimes they may fail to do so!
Again, the position of the ball is the only thing that matters. Even if the goalkeeper falls into the net, it will only be a goal if the ball fully crosses the goal line.
The position of the ball is the only thing that matters when considering a goal or a ball going out of bounds. So long as the ball fully crosses the line, the call will be made.
Unlike other sports, the position of the player does not matter. Even if the player goes out of bounds, or the keeper goes into the net, it does not matter.
The ball’s position is the only thing that matters!
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