Law 8 – the start and restart of play

Definition of kick-off

A kick-off is a way of starting or restarting play:

  • at the start of the match
  • after a goal has been scored
  • at the start of the second half of the match
  • at the start of each period of extra time, where applicable A goal may be scored directly from the kick-off.


Before a kick-off at the start of the match or extra time

  • a coin is tossed and the team that wins the toss decides which goal it will attack in the first half of the match.
  • the other team takes the kick-off to start the match.
  • the team that wins the toss takes the kick-off to start the second half of the match.
  • in the second half of the match, the teams change ends and attack the opposite goals.


  • after a team scores a goal, the kick-off is taken by the other team.
  • all players must be in their own half of the field of play
  • the opponents of the team taking the kick-off are at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball until it is in play
  • the ball must be stationary on the centre mark
  • the referee gives a signal
  • the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward
  • the kicker must not touch the ball again until it has touched another player

Infringements and sanctions

If the player taking the kick-off touches the ball again before it has touched another player:

  • an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team to be taken from the position of the ball when the infringement occurred (see Law 13 – Position of free kick)

In the event of any other infringement of the kick-off procedure:

  • the kick-off is retaken

Definition of Dropped ball

A dropped ball is a method of restarting play. If, while the ball is still in play, the referee is required to stop play temporarily for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game, the match is restarted with a dropped ball.


The referee drops the ball at the place where it was located when play was stopped, unless play was stopped inside the goal area, in which case the referee drops the ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was located when play was stopped.

Play restarts when the ball touches the ground.

Infringements and sanctions

The ball is dropped again:

  • if it is touched by a player before it makes contact with the ground
  • if the ball leaves the field of play after it makes contact with the ground, without a player touching it