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Question Number: 28411

Law 1- The Field 5/10/2014

RE: Competive Adult

Carl Belletti of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania United States asks...

I have been refereeing for about 18 years and during that time I only seen this done in the younger age and in HS when kids dig in the ground on free kicks. I have been told this not aloud. I am not sure if gives the player any better advantage. What is your thought on this?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Carl
There is no 'real' advantage here. Older referees were of the view that the player could not touch the pitch under any circumstances and it had to be played it as they found it.
Modern thinking is that players do this all the time to either smooth out irregulaties or create a small 'tee'. I personally have no problem with this and I simply ignore it.
Interestingly in the recent Champions' League Semi Final between Chelsea and Athletico Madrid the referee Nicola Rizzoli (ITA) cautioned Costa of AM for gauging the pitch with his foot when the ball would not sit where he wanted on the penalty mark.
I'm not sure if the caution was for delaying the restart or unsporting behaviour or dissent. The Law states that if a player makes unauthorised marks on the field of play with his foot, he must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour. If the referee notices this being done during the match, he must caution the offending player for unsporting behaviour when the ball next goes out of play.
The most common caution is where goalkeepers make a mark in the centre of the goal to assist with positioning. Ball positioning would not fit this offence.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

'Fixing the turf' at a free kick is not the concern. But, keepers have been known to 'add' marks on the field as tactical reference points. The infringement usually can be seen only by an AR who is watching the keeper immediately before the start of a half.

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