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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33443

Law 5 - The Referee 6/13/2019

RE: Rec Under 17

John Morrison of Middleboro, MA United States asks...

What is the penalty if the offensive player chooses to take a quick free kick before the ref blows the whistle?


Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi John
It all depends.
First off the kick must be retaken not matter the outcome.
Now depending on how clear the instruction was to the kicker the referee might consider it unsporting behaviour which is a caution. The referee might also consider that his instruction was not clear enough so it is a retake only.
In a recent Ladies game I told a kicker at an attacking free kick who arrived late to the ball that it was on the whistle. As I was stepping the wall back she took the kick and I blew immediately to stop play. I was unsure if I made myself clear enough to her before the kick so I just told her that she must wait for the whistle and left it at that.
There can be other factors to take into account in these situations such as delaying the restart by deliberately taking the kick knowing it will be brought back, dissent, already told not to take the kick for a second time, etc.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI John,
it depends on whether the referee HAS or is required to intervene? On a free kick the aggrieved team can just go . A whistle is NOT needed if the ball is placed correctly.
Once it becomes ceremonial or a PK where the referee has to restart with a signal, he might be required to show a card or feels he has been requested to set the wall he will not permit the kick until HE is ready. A referee will generally get eye contact, hold the whistle aloft & point to it saying 'WAIT for this!', possibly ensuring a head nod if yes from the kickers. Then there is very little leeway for going ahead and taking it, given the very strict clear instructions just presented. If he had just decided to go ceremonial and step in just as the kicker decided to put it in play he could retake the kick as there was no dissent or obtuse behavior it was just miscommunication . If the referee had already instructed he WOULD signal it would be a retake and possibly a caution for delaying the restart or USB if the ball was directed into an opponent unexpectedly . When told specifically please do NOT do that, you DO THAT at your peril.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi John,
If the referee has instructed the player to wait for the whistle and the player doesn't, then the kick must be retaken either way (Personally I think that's unfair if it misses the goal, but it's how the law is written). The referee may choose to caution that player for either unsporting behaviour or delaying the restart of play.

If the referee hasn't instructed the player to wait for the whistle then in most cases a quick free kick is permitted - a whistled restart is only required in certain situations - outside of those, players have the right to take the kick quickly, even if it's near the penalty area or the keeper is out of position (as long as the ball is stationary and in the correct position). If it's the case where the referee needs to hold up the kick but hasn't yet communicated that to the attackers who tried taking it quickly, there should be no punishment.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi John,
It depends on whether the referee has taken any action to indicate that the free kick is not to be taken quickly. Absent such action, the player is perfectly free to take the kick quickly. The law says quite clearly that a whistle is not needed to restart play from most free kicks.

It then goes on to say that:

''If the referee wants the player(s) to wait for the whistle before restarting play (e.g. when ensuring that defending players are 9.15m at a free kick) the referee must clearly inform the attacking player(s) to wait for the whistle.''

So if the referee has not clearly informed the players to wait, they can go ahead and take the free kick without waiting for a whistle.

It is only when the the referee has clearly told the players to wait for the whistle and they have not waited, that the referee needs to take any action - primarily by having the kick retaken. Before having the kick retaken, the referee could choose to caution the player who took the kick (or not) depending on whether they feel the player has excessively delayed the restart or shown dissent.

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