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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 28099

Law 13 - Free Kicks 1/9/2014

RE: rec Adult

Mark rich of Royalton, Vermont USA asks...

#1 I understand that on a free kick the defensive players must stand at least 10 yards from the point at which the offensive team will kick the ball. The defence must 'get back ' 10 yards. (The ball is outside the box 'say 20 yards from goal.) If the offence so chooses can they kick the ball even if a defensive player is only-8 yards or 5- or 2 yards away from the ball? 'Quick kick' a free kick at midfield they do it all the time. why do they let the defence build a wall? Why must they wait for the refs whistle?
This question is about both an indirect kick or a direct kick .

#2 if a green team player kicks the ball back to his own green team goaltender
and the goalie picks it up (handles the ball), why is this not a 'hand ball'? Why does it not result in a penalty kick from the spot? Also if he touches it only 2 or 3 yards from goal line where does a free kick take place?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mark
If a free kick can be taken quickly the referee should facilitate that. However the kicking team must accept the outcome of the kick even if it hits a defensive player closer than 10 yards to the ball. Many times the kicking teams wants the 10 yards enforced. When the referee is requested to enforce the 10 yards the kicking team must wait for the referee to whistle for the restart which allows the defending team time to 'organize' a defensive wall.
On your second question the goalkeeper may not touch the ball with his hands when the ball has been deliberately kicked to him by a team mate. When that happens the restart is an indirect free kick not a penalty kick. If the offence happens inside the six yard goal area the IDFK is taken from the 6 yards line and defenders retreat to the goal line. This IDFK Law was introduced to prevent teams constantly passing the ball to the goalkeeper preventing the ball being challenged by picking the ball up and running down the clock. It is what is deemed to be a 'technical' offence inside the penalty area hence the IDFK restart.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Mark,

Free kicks are about restoring the advantage to the attacking team - so that's why their concerns are prioritised over the defence.

The attacking team always has the right to take the kick quickly unless the referee needs to intervene (injured player, issue a card, etc).

However, the attacking team also has the right to take the kick with no defensive player within 10 yards.

So, the attacking team get to choose - which of these do they want to prioritise? If you take it quickly before the defence has has the opportunity to leave the 10 yards then you need to accept the risk of losing possession to one of those defenders.

If you'd rather take the time, plan out the kick and ensure the defence are 10 yards back then you've lost the right to the quick free kick, as you're asking for the referee to intervene. That's when it needs to be on a whistle - when the referee intervenes.

Of course, even if the referee hasn't intervened, the defence must be making reasonable attempts to retire 10 yards - a lot of defenders think they have to be told where to stand; this is incorrect.

This applies to direct and indirect free kicks.

As for your 2nd question - the law gives a specific offence for the goalkeeper handling the ball within his penalty area after it has been kicked to him by a teammate. So the short answer is 'because the law says so'.

Part of the reason is that sometimes it can be difficult to judge whether it was a kick back to the keeper or, say, a failed attempt at a clearance from a defender. It would be unfair - and disproportionate to the offence committed - if the punishment was a penalty kick.

If he handles it inside the Goal Area then the same law applies for any free kick inside this area - the kick is brought directly out to the edge of the goal area and taken from there. That means the defending team can stand on the goal line, even though they're within 10 yards.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol


While the kicking team is entitled to a 10-yard 'free' kick, they can choose to take the kick quickly without waiting for their opponents to retreat. If they do so, they must live with the results if the ball goes to one of the too-close opponents.

If the kicking team decides to have the referee enforce the 10-yard distance, then they can no longer take the kick quickly.

There may be reasons for the referee to decide that a kick cannot be taken quickly: to deal with misconduct or an injury, for example.


Law 12 specifically exempts goalkeepers from a deliberate handling call while in their own penalty area. So there can't possibly be a penalty kick called for something that's not one of the 10 direct free kick fouls.

Because defenders and goalkeepers used the so-called 'pass-back' to stall the game and waste time, many years ago the Laws were changed to make it illegal for a goalkeeper to handle a ball that was deliberately kicked to him by a teammate. It was made an indirect free kick offense.

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Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 28099
Read other Q & A regarding Law 13 - Free Kicks

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 28140

See Question: 28445

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