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Question Number: 29932

Law 13 - Free Kicks 11/17/2015

RE: Competitive High School

Joey Ingle of Tupelo, Mississippi USA asks...

How would you handle the following situation:
A direct free kick foul has been called around the midfield area. One of the defenders stands in front of the ball, the offensive player ask for ten yards. After that the defender which is standing in front of the ball proceeds to mark off the tens yards with ten large steps and says 'now that's ten yards'.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Joey
I would probably do nothing. The kicker asked for 10 yards and the defender gave it without the need for the referee to pace it or intervene.
Now generally these unusual situations have some baggage or the potential for some follow on. If the players action was dissenting a previous decision by the referee not to give 10 yards or the full ten yards then a caution might be appropriate. Was the defender delaying the restart? Again a caution might be appropriate. If the player was getting frustrated then the referee would do well to keep a close eye on this developing into something more. Probably at midfield one would have to question an obvious out and out request for 10 yards. Many times players point to the defender asking them to be moved back which is done in that area with an instruction to move away.
Other than that there is nothing more for the referee to do. He could thank the player for giving the 10 yards without the need to pace out. LOL

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

A defender who stands in front of the ball should be dealt with by the referee. Presence and voice is often enough to resolve the issue. Sometimes a caution is the appropriate response to delaying the restart of play.

That said, if the defender retreats on his own, the referee should enforce the distance. In the unlikely event that the defender actually has moved back at least ten yards, praise the player for knowing ten - and remind them to go there in the first place. Blow the whistle for the restart. The more likely case is that the referee still will need to set the wall at the correct location.

The referee can often use personality to address a cocky teenager. It is not necessarily a challenge to the referee's authority. I'd use humor (If everyone knew how far 10 yards, then I wouldn't get the big bucks. Back here, please.) But, other referees simply would issue the command. Regardless of the approach, however, there should be no doubt that it is the referee who decides what is 10.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi joey,
hmmm cocky youth trying to be funny? I am quite anal about 'TEN YARDS NOW!' and I take a dim view of defenders who stand in front of the free kick not retreating in some reasonable fashion. The need to do something or anything may be redundant as humour and some measure of restraint is best for the overall match attitude. I might applaud the ten yards as accurate but still stop the clock to caution and show him a yellow card for starting where he did if it obviously prevented the free kick from occurring quickly there. Telling him you did my job just fine but your job was not to be there when they put the ball down to restart. Given I often warn in the pregame about my habit of shouting 10 yds. now as a gentle reminder not to engage those on free kicks, it is not a request or a ceremonial act, it is simply restating what the LOTG demand. Once an attacker though has requested ten, immediately step in with, 'We play the whistle! and be standing waiting for our stepping friend to get to where you are at 12 yds back. Lol Ten yds is the minimum distance, note there is no maximum. If we react quickly to those who cheat by standing in front of the free kick the attackers are not forced into requesting the ten yards. As a referee I look for a reasonable dispersment in and around the free kick area by RETREATING defenders shenanigans aside it is mandatory that they do so!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


In my opinion, the defender stepping off the ten yards is a time-wasting tactic, as he/she should just move away from the ball quickly without putting on this show. Because NFHS Rule 13-3-1 Penalty states that 'An official shall caution a player who............engages in time wasting tactics.........,
I would recommend that you stop the clock and caution the defender. The cautioned player would then have to leave the game, and a substitute may enter after being beckoned in. Because of this action, I doubt that this player or a teammate will step off ten yards in future contests. I hope that your high school officiating season that just got under way is very successful one.

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