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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33382

Law 13 - Free Kicks 5/24/2019

RE: Youth to adult, comp and rec.

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

Regarding kicked restarts: I'm sure we've all seen the kicker (especially at IDFKs and kick-offs) who puts his foot on top of the ball and rolls the ball back and forth until he sees his chance to release it. Even worse, the player who rocks the ball, then backs away for a wind-up kick.

From the viewpoint of the opposition, why can't they attack as soon as the ball is first touched? Yet, it seems to be accepted practice that the first touch hasn't happened until the ball leaves the foot.

Personally, I would sure like an actual kick to happen during the 'kicked and moved' sequence. No rock and roll, nor tap or stomp that doesn't even move the ball from the spot it started at.

Your thoughts?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
It is all about context and situation.
I remember Ryan Giggs taking kicked restarts and he always used his foot to position the ball.
Under no circumstances would I consider this ball or any similar situation to be in play even if the player re positioned it with his foot. So in all of these the ball is not in play.
Now from time to time an outlier event will present. Here is one
The goal was awarded despite the protest from the defending team Sunderland that it was not put into play and all the defender was doing was leaving it from the goalkeeper.
The incident was reviewed by PGMOL the EPLs Referee Body and it stated that according to the Laws of the Game, having stopped the game for any infringement the referee is required to 'indicate the restart of the match'. As a result it stated that it believed that the correct decisions were made.
It went to say that * in practice, in the majority of cases, referees indicate for the restart by gesturing to players to take the kick. These gestures can be minimal. For the more important 'ceremonial' free-kicks, which also involve control of the defensive wall, referees can indicate by using the whistle. However, there is no requirement by Law to use the whistle to make the indication.* Minimal for me can be simply allowing it with once kicked it is in play.
It further opined that *the ball is then in play when it is kicked and moves. So, in this case, the ball was in play as soon as it is kicked by a Sunderland player. Also, the Laws state that the free-kick must be taken from the place where the infringement occurred. Again, in this case, the referee correctly determined that the free-kick was played from the right place.*
Personally for what it is worth I felt that while the referee was technically correct the spirit of the Law suggested to me otherwise and that it should have been stopped. Others can correctly argue with that opinion in line with the PGMOL opinion yet it caused a furore that went on for days afterwards. Had the referee stopped play and asked for the kick to be 'taken' none of the unpleasantness and controversy would have arisen. In fact it would not even have been talked about as it still is today.
So for me referees should manage the restarts in the way the game intended which includes no ruse taps, steps on the ball, possible kicks etc. Keep it nice and simple and nothing then needs to be decided of a controversial nature.
I once let play continue on a free kick where the ball was kicked off an opponent at a free kick. The kicker knew what he was doing and I sort of opined it was an interception and that the kicker knew the position of the opponent before he kicked. Nothing came of it as it was in midfield yet I sort of regretted allowing it even though I could argue it legal under Law 13 * but if a player takes a free kick quickly and an opponent who is less than 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball intercepts it, the referee allows play to continue*. The game expects that the kick should have been retaken given the close proximity of the opponent g and that would have been the best decision in hindsight.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Barry,
I recall a highly contested high school match where I was monitoring a friend for feedback. He awarded an INDFK for a PIADM situation at about 30 yards slightly off the mid line to the right. I saw the player standing on the ball holding it in place just step away as the runner kicked it. I KNEW because my buddy kept his arm up AFTER the kicker kicked it he was NOT allowing the foot removal to be designated as a first touch kick. as the ball did not even wobble that I could see. The opposing keeper saw the referee arm remain up and calmly just let the ball into the goal for a goal kick. The coach who thought they scored went ballistic claiming the goal should count. Surprise Surprise no goal Goal kick.

Hmm if it looks like, smells like, kind seems like, chances are it is a kick of sorts. lol. If both teams accept a bit of a nudge/roll as good enough it might be ok to tolerate it, even if you wrinkle the nose in disdain but recognize they are happy to get on with it. . However, if you want it CLEAR definitive, then stop the first one that is remotely suspicious and lay it out for them so they are under no illusions. My buddy could have decided the kick was done ok given the defenders did rush in once the guy standing on the ball stepped away. The fact he did not, he then has no choice but to follow through with the consequences of leaving that arm up because the keeper reacted to it.

During a a free kick senario where they like to push it about or roll it around with continual contact by their feet . I do not count that as a touch unless the ball definitely moves after they release the foot OFF the ball. You can put the ball into play with toe, heel, ankle, tongue sole and a single stud with just a flick but a tap on top or leaving the foot on the ball then squish it then remove the foot causing perhaps a wobble is NOT a kick in the truest sense. That said a clear INDFK with an arm raise SHOULD pose no issues as you DROP the arm ONLY if you are satisfied there is a 2nd touch.

Do not forget the foam mini arc for ball position and wall position is STRICTLY because they move the BALL as well as the wall when your back is turned and sometimes even when you are looking. Failure to respect distance and adhere to fair play is the single biggest detriment to the game today.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Years ago, USSF Advice was that referees needed to discern which touch of the ball was the one intended to put the ball into play. While those documents are no longer published, much of the advice and direction given out still remains a valuable part of a referee's toolkit.

That said, this is why the 'trick' kick - often a corner kick - is troublesome. While legal, if the player has demonstrated that the little roll of the ball does put it into play at a 'trick corner kick', why doesn't a little roll of the ball at the next free kick start play? I had a hard time letting them have it both ways.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Barry,
I suppose it depends how you look at it. I have seen players position the ball with the foot, at a free kick or corner. I can't recall having seen a player, in the act of actually taking the kick, rolling it back and forth while waiting for a chance to release it. Rolling the ball to position it and then actually taking the kick, are two different things. Obviously it might sometimes be a little tricky to distinguish between them, which is what the USSF advice that ref Voshol mentioned, tried to address. Here's an extract of what it actually said:

''The referee must judge carefully whether any particular kick of the ball and subsequent movement was indeed reasonably taken with the intention of putting the ball into play rather than with the intention merely to position the ball for the restart. If the ball is just being repositioned (even if the foot is used to do this), play has not been restarted.''

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