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Question Number: 33056

Law 13 - Free Kicks 2/10/2019

RE: Select / Competitive Under 17

Glen B of Youngsville, NC USA asks...

On a direct free kick, kicker asks for the defenders to be at correct space. CR steps off and moves the defenders back and then points to the Keeper gets a thumbs up and yells play when ready. No whistle. Kicker strikes ball and scores. Defending team coach goes nuts yelling that a whistle restart is "required by LOTG" on a DFK where space has been stepped off. I could not find a specific reference that makes the whistle re-start the only re-start here. I did find a statement in Law 8 that mentions "the referee gives a signal" but that was on kickoff and still did not specify "whistle". I know it makes sense but Im wondering if this is specifically mentioned in the LOTG or if coaches have just come to expect it? Thank you.

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Glen,
It's not 100% clear but from your use of the abbreviation 'LOTG' I am going to take it that we're talking about the IFAB's Laws of the Game. That being the case, it is specified that a whistle restart is recommended in the situation you describe.

On page 196 of the LOTG 2018/19 edition, pdf version in the section entitled ''Body Language,
Communication and Whistle'' we can find the following:

''The whistle is needed to: [...] restart play for: free kicks when the appropriate distance is required''

I would just mention one thing - I don't really favour the notion that it's up to the kicker (or their team) to determine whether the free kick should be 'ceremonial' - i.e. on the whistle or to force the referee into enforcing the distance. For me, although it's perhaps a slightly finicky distinction to make, it's more the referee's responsibility to decide how the free kick is to be managed. If the referee wants to ask the team whether they want to take the kick quickly, that's fine (even recommended) but the referee should remain in control. Now, part of the referee's role in managing a free kick is to see that the opponents are at the correct distance - unless the team taking the kick, takes it quickly and the opponents have not had time to retreat, so if the kick is not to be taken quickly then the referee should enforce the distance but I prefer to see that as the referee's role to determine this, not the players.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Glen
The Laws of the Game as you rightly point out only mentions a signal and that is only required to start the game, stop the game and to take a penalty kick. Whistle is not mentioned in the Laws nor is a signal required elsewhere
However the Practical Guidelines section for referees at the ends of the Laws book has a section on the use of the whistle. As Referee Grove points out the advice is to use a whistle to restart at a ceremonial restart.
Now if a whistle is not used it is poor mechanics not a misapplication of the Law. So while the coach feels that his team was hard done with no whistle restart there is nothing in the Laws to say it was *incorrect*. Indeed even a shout of Play Away is in my opinion sufficient signal to ensure that the defending team is not disadvantaged
Have a look at this video in our National Cup Final game of a few seasons ago
There is a ceremonial free kick and a substitution which also advises a whistle restart.
The referee sets up the wall, the wall is facing the ball, the goalkeeper is set and the kick is taken just as the referee moves back and without the whistle. The referee deemed that the conditions were in order to allow the kick to be taken so he awarded the goal. He felt that the defending team was not disadvantaged by the no whistle. Had say the GK been setting up the wall or defenders not looking at the kick he could gave deemed otherwise. The subsequent protests resulted in a number of caution which for the captain was a second caution and a dismissal.
Now there was no misapplication of the Law and it is clear that the whistle had it been sounded would have made no difference to the outcome. It certainly would have made a big differences in the game management stakes as none of the dissent would have happened had there been a whistle.
The Guidelines are in place to assist referees in game management and through their use have become to considered incorrectly as part of the Law. Patently the guidelines / advice section is not the Law yet try telling that to an irate player or coach in a match situation.
In your example it reads that the defending team was ready, it was not disadvantaged so it was simply a cheap shot at trying to get a goal chalked off on a spurious technicality. It is for that reason that I give a quick peep even if opponents are ready once I am happy that the wall is back the required distance and I am ready for the kick. In your example had the shout and the thumbs up been replaced with a peep none of this would have arisen.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Glen,
it is not good mechanics but it is not illegal nor protestable as facts concerning play by the referee are final! The referee gave what in his opinion was a clear signal to restart play . It is not necessary for referees to dig little holes to fall into when a single peep would solve it all.

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