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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 32604

Law 13 - Free Kicks 7/23/2018

RE: Competitive Under 19

Ivan Cardona of Hallandale, Florida United states asks...

What would you do if there is a free kick being taken just outside the Penalty area and the defending team sets up a wall with one defender layed out on the ground behind the wall to prevent a shot a on the ground?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ivan
I saw this a few times on the web and the referees did nothing. Teams believe that if the players in the wall jump up that this player will stop any low shot.
Personally I think this is fanciful and certainly at lower levels of the game where players lack the ability to shoot low and hard under a jumping wall. Rarely if ever have I seen shots hit players below the knees.
As to what a referee can do I would suggest either doing nothing or to tell the player that if he stops the ball which stays close to him on the ground that he risks getting called for playing in a dangerous manner with an attacker present. It is akin to referees telling player in the WC that being stood offside in the line of sight if the goalkeeper will be called offside. The two PIOP scenarios that I saw resulted in the WC resulted in both moving onside before the free kick. So a threat of an offence may be suffice.
In these videos the referees appeared to take no action. Note that ever single shot was high.
The referee in the players on team mates shoulders was incorrect to allow that one to happen. Perhaps the referee was waiting for the ball to hit one of the players to call an offence?
So for me laying on the ground is a stupid use of a player. Why plan for the one in a 10000 when the player would be better placed on the edge of the wall or marking an opponent.
If it was my game I would tell the player that he runs a risk of getting called for a PIADM offence and leave it at that.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Ivan,

I don't see a problem with this. I don't see it as unsporting, and there's nothing in the laws preventing a player from doing this (unlike the GK at a penalty kick, who must be on his feet). Given that players can slide in front of a shot to block it from the ground, I don't see a huge difference here.

If anything it probably puts that team as a disadvantage as there's one less defender marking the attack.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Ivan,
As ref Wright says, there is nothing in the Laws to prohibit this, so I would just let it go. As my colleagues have pointed out, it is probably a bit of a waste of time and effort at lower levels - I have only ever seen the 'grass-cutter' free kick a few times and always in higher-level, televised games.

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