Until 1938, this laws comprised descriptions of the continuation of the game after the ball went into touch or behind the goal. The addition of throw-in, goal kick and corner kick made this obsolete.

Since 1938, this law comprises a description when the ball is in and out the play – and that can be quickly described: If he leaves the field or the referee interrupts the game. This was described in more detail in the FA Rules from 1886 onwards in several rules. A brief summary:

The ball was in the play…

  • when he bounced off a spectator and jumped back into the field (Eton Field Game, 1847 and following years)
  • when it bounced back from the corner flag into the playing field (IFAB, 1896)
  • when he bounced against the referee or linesmen (IFAB, 1897)

The ball was out of play…

  • when he crosses the side or goal line (IFAB, 1888), be it on the ground or in the air (IFAB, 1902) and also only when he has completely crossed the line (IFAB, 1904)
  • when the goal bar slips, the referee decides whether a goal would have been scored if the bar had not slipped (IFAB, 1896)


Proposals for law amendments that are not accepted:

  • In 1938, the FAW proposed that the game should not be completed after the end of play while the ball was still in play. The proposal has been withdrawn.