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Question Number: 32627

Law 13 - Free Kicks 8/5/2018

RE: Rec Adult

Randall Longhouse of ORLANDO, FL United States asks...

I am frequently involved in matches where the defending team, after committing a foul, stand in front of the ball to delay the restart. They retreat slowly once I verbally indicate to do so, or we do a ceremonial restart once the attacking team asks for distance.

However, how do we reconcile this with 'players will be cautioned and shown a yellow card for failure to respect the required distance; does not retire at least 10 yards away.

To me, 'retire' implies prompt movement by the defender away from the ball, even if at a slow pace. Or is it generally accepted that players can stand in front of the ball until distance is asked for or referee intervention occurs?

Thank you,

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Randall,
Your observations are spot on. The defending team MUST under the LOTG retire ten yards ASAP. Those that do not or prevent the release need to be punished BUT the yellow card has proven to be too harsh in the mindsets of those who now control the LOTG .

I will always try to let the players decide how the want to proceed as two competitive teams but my occasional yelling, :Ten yards now!', is not an intervention, only a reminder that I am watching

The Laws cannot deal with every possible situation, so where there is no direct
provision in the Laws, The IFAB expects the referee to make a decision within
the 'spirit' of the game – this often involves asking the question, "what would
football want/expect?" At the top level free kicks are a practiced art form.

it has become obvious in this past decade a disrespect & intolerance for this section of the LOTG are almost ingrained in players nowadays primarily because of the attitude and actions of those at the professional ranks being emulated on TV.

In high intensity meaningful matches the referee is aware that two cautions results in a send off and it is very likely that a player will commit a tactical foul deserving of a yellow card so a soft yellow card is no different than a reckless foul of a tactical nature it will result in a send off show the red card leaving the one team down a player.

If you watched the latest World Cup you would have seen MANY opportunities for double yellow cautions by dissenting or failing to respect distance as a second card but they NEVER happened! It was PAINFULLY obvious the instructions were to keep it at 11 versus 11 at all times for the sake of viewers and results untainted by suspect referee interference over send offs

There is some hope however to deal with this and not windup sending players off, instead using sin-bin (timeout) for violations of misconduct rather than cards. .

The 131st Annual General Meeting of The IFAB in London on 3rd March 2017
also approved some significant changes to help develop and promote football,
• an extension of the flexibility of national FAs (and confederations and FIFA)
to modify some of the 'organizational' Laws (e.g. increasing the maximum
number of substitutes to five, except for the highest level) to help promote
and develop the football for which they are responsible as The IFAB believes
that national FAs know best what will benefit football in their country
• the introduction of temporary dismissals (sin bins) as a potential alternative
sanction to a caution (YC) in youth, veterans, disability and grassroots
(lowest levels) football
• extension of the use of return substitutes to youth, veterans and disability
football (they are already permitted in grassroots football).

So the team plays short only temporary rather then being cautioned & shown a yellow card for technical violations or a loss of composure as opposed to the reckless tactical fouls. I personally think 3 cautions rather than two at elite levels and in competition they are not cumulative unless past 4 in two matches.

At the WC people play a lifetime for an opportunity, so to deny them a match because yellow card accumulation for cautions is utterly ridiculous!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Randall
The game has got itself into this situation through not strictly implementing the Law. Throw in the decision by many Pro teams to *accept* this tactic by not getting on with play in such situations and we have this tactic that many referees struggle to deal with.
I deal with it by making an early verbal intervention with players that run to stand in front of the ball. I also watch closely to understand what do the opponents want to do with the free kick and many times they are content to accept the ceremonial style restart. If there is a restart that is clearly stopped after the ball is put into play it is a caution. If the team does not want to get on with play and somewhat accepting of the positioning of opponents then it is unlikely that it is delaying the restart.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Randall,
This is an area where I think 'the powers that be' are not doing regular referees (or the game itself) any favours by discouraging referees in high level tournaments such as the World Cup from giving yellow cards to players who delay the restart. For me, the apparent instructions to referees to avoid giving yellow cards in situations where the Laws of the Game clearly call for them, was a major blight on the whole competition.

As ref McHugh suggests, the way to deal with this is to set your stall out early and make it clear from the outset that you are not going to tolerate players who fail to respect the required distance. You could even mention it to the teams before kick off if you so desired. Once you have made it sufficiently clear that you are not going to accept this kind of behaviour and if players continue to offend, you can start to use your cards.

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