Can A Linesman Call A Penalty In Soccer?

Soccer is a sport that is incredibly popular all around the world. It is also a very complex game with lots of laws to follow, and each participant having their own role.

Can A Linesman Call A Penalty In Soccer?

Most people are familiar with the role of the soccer players and the role of the referee during a soccer game. However, one role that people get confused with is that of a linesman.

Linesmen might not be the most famous officials of soccer but they are very important.

Although, many soccer fans are still not entirely familiar with what they can and can’t do. One thing soccer fanatics wonder is whether a linesman can call a penalty during the match.

Well, if you want to know the answer to this question, you’ve come to the right place. In this article we are going to walk you through what a linesman is and whether they can call a penalty.

We are also going to provide you with more information about the role of a linesman.

What Is A Linesman?

Before we explore linesmen and their role in the soccer game, we need to make sure that you understand exactly what a linesman is.

A linesman is an official that mainly deals with alerting the referee when the ball is out of play or offside violations.

Linesmen have this title as they stand on the touchline of the pitch during a match. There are usually two linesmen, one on either side of the touchline.

They are also referred to as assistant referees, as they help alert the referee when a situation has occurred.

Linesmen are easily identified as they are the ones holding a flag at the side of the pitch during a match.

Can A Linesman Call A Penalty?

Since many are confused about the duty of the linesmen, they often wonder whether they can call penalties.

In order to understand whether a linesman can call a penalty, we need to look into what a penalty is and how it is awarded.

What Is A Penalty?

A penalty or a penalty kick is one of the most exciting moments of a soccer game. This is especially true if it is a penalty shoot-out. Penalty shoot-outs occur if the teams are tied at the end of extra time.

Penalty kicks are granted by the referee when a soccer player carries out a foul in their penalty box.

The opposing team is then granted the chance to take a penalty kick. This is a chance to score a goal from around 12 yards away from the goal.

They are allowed to hit the ball directly at the goal, without players from the opposing team trying to block the ball.

All of the other players, except the goalie, need to remain outside of the penalty box.

There are many reasons a penalty can be awarded. If the player pushes, kicks, or holds back the player, preventing them from being able to take a shot, a penalty is awarded.

Linesmen And Penalties

So how do linesmen fit in? Well, linesmen are able to assist with penalties as they have two things to observe.

During the penalty kick, they must check that the goalkeeper does not move from the goal line before the ball is kicked. They also must also make it clear whether the soccer ball has passed the goal line completely.

The official role doesn’t include whether or not the linesmen can call penalties, even though they assist with them.

Technically, linesmen cannot call a penalty. This is the job of the referee, since the referee is in charge of decisions for that game. However, linesmen are able to alert the referee of a potential foul.

More so, the referee might go to the linesmen on advice for a potential foul that has taken place. The linesmen cannot decide that something is a penalty and award the team a penalty kick.

The Role Of A Linesman

Can A Linesman Call A Penalty In Soccer

So now that you know that a linesman cannot call a penalty, what can they do? Well there are many different parts to the role of a linesman. We have listed the main responsibilities of a linesman.

Out Of Bounds Ball

Since the linesman has a clear view of the touchlines, it is part of their job to call when a ball has gone out of bounds, also known as the ball is out of play.

The linesmen indicate that a ball has gone out of bounds with their flag. They usually raise their flag and point it in the direction of which team gets to take the throw-in.

Help With Set Pieces

Since linesmen can see when the ball has left the pitch, they also help to determine what set piece needs to take place. This could be a goal kick, throw-in, or a corner kick.

The referee is the one that makes the final decision but the linesmen can help advise.


This is the role most soccer fans are aware the linesman does. They help to indicate to the referee when a player is offside.

Observing For The Referee

Since the referee has to keep watch on 22 players, the referee might not be able to spot everything that happens. This is especially true in large altercations. The linesmen keep watch on the players as well.

Alerting Substitutions

The linesmen alert the referee that a manager has requested a substitution.

Final Thoughts

So, linesmen cannot call a penalty, but they can help the referee by alerting them to a foul.

They can also give advice to the referee but they cannot decide to award a penalty. Instead, linesmen are there to assist the referee and call out when the ball is out of play.

We hope that this article has answered your questions and informed you on the role of the linesmen in a soccer match.

Please share this article with others who might be interested in reading this article. Thank you for reading.

Steven Anderson