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Question Number: 33625

Law 13 - Free Kicks 9/5/2019

RE: Competitive Under 18

Juan Ramos of Lenox, MA USA asks...

During a free kick the taker asks for 10 yds but then plays the ball before the referee moves the ball. Is the free kick retaken?


Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Juan
Once a referee steps in to take control of a free kick either at the request of the kicker or through his own decision based on where the kick is taken from then it becomes what is known as a *ceremonial* restart which requires a whistle for the kick to be taken.
When it is *ceremonial* good mechanics are required so the referee should make it known to the kicker and indeed any attacker likely to take the kick that the restart is ‘on the whistle’It can be a good idea to show the whistle to the attackers and announce it is on the whistle to all concerned once the ball is placed. Then ask any defenders around the ball to retreat 10 yards. The referee can then assist in the placement of any defensive wall by pacing out ten yards.
Once the referee is satisfied, with the opponents being ten yards from the ball and the referee has taken up his viewing position to see the kick and subsequent play, he then signals with a whistle for the kick to be taken.
Now if the kick is premature before the whistle the kick should be retaken and an opinion made as to why the kicker did not heed the referees instruction.
The panel had an interesting debate recently about the requirement in law for the whistle as distinct from mechanics. We all agreed that it is part of the advice and good advice at that while I was off the opinion that it was not a requirement in Law. Obviously the whistle heads off any debate yet it is not a misapplication of the law if not used.
I could envisage a situation where everything is set up for the kick and the kicker goes a second early perhaps blazing the ball over the bar. In some ways there cannot be any complaint from the kicker that it was on the whistle so he looks for another *go*. I would be inclined to go with a goal kick. The more challenging one is where a goal is scored. Despite being 100% ready the defending team will use the non use of the whistle at the last second as a reason to chalk off the goal. The same players would more than likely protest a retake on a no goal.
Anyway good mechanics should head off any such difficulties ari g in the first place

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Juan,
The attacker do have the right to get on with it, MOST of the time. In cases where a referee has arbitrarily decided they can not he SHOULD indicate his intentions that this is so if he means to make the kick ceremonial in nature which is in effect allowing a defending wall to form and a whistled restart. When the referee MUST intervene it would be for such things as showing a show card to punish misconduct that went with the reason play might have been stopped! Procedural issues, like the restart is a blade of grass issue and the restart point is wrong or perhaps the ball is moving before kicked or the opposition have compromised the restart in some manner and now MUST now be cautioned and ceremonial restart is a certainty.

Defenders have no rights other than not to be mislead by the referee. In fact defenders are MANDATED by the LOTG to withdraw a MINIMUM of 10 yards a and make no effort to hinder the restart of play.

In instances where a referee has indicated the kick will BE ceremonial usually by stating verbally, 'WAIT for the whistle!) pointing to it, holding it aloft, talking to the team taking the kick and getting eye contact and an affirmative head nod by the player taking the free kick. The keeper might then manage the wall, ensuring the proper distance is respected, ensure everything is good and ONLY then blows the whistle to restart play. If a player was to go ahead of the whistle signal then the restart SHOULD be retaken and the kicker COULD be cautioned for his behavior.

The referee is NOT required to intervene in free kicks provided he has NOTHING to sort out. Attackers have no real REASON to request ten other than to let the referee KNOW they want TIME to set up a set play an thus allow the wall to be formed! A referee who THEN interferes to DO as requested has JUST then started a sort it out process and the ceremonial dance is underway.

A REQUEST by the attacking team is in fact a reason for referee to be involved. A simple request by an attacking player noting some defenders appear too close or sauntering about usually provokes a response by the referee to go ahead and make he kick ceremonial. Yet if the restart was being performed by another teammate, who is not concerned, he COULD be in the act of taking it even if another is complaining about defenders being too close or within ten yards.

My WARNING to ALL defenders UNLESS you actually HEAR the REFEREE stating it IS ceremonial. be on guard and ready to play.

HOWEVER, if the ACTUAL attacker standing over the ball ls requesting ten but does so to simply trick defenders that he is not YET ready but secretly is plotting to catch them with their guard down, we COULD have an issue. That issue is, HOW much is the referee NOW complicit in this deception?

Personally as a referee if the KICKER is asking me for ten, then FOR me, at that moment, I am starting to indicate the kick is GOING to be ceremonial via a whistle. If he tries to go ahead and restart as I am blurting it out that I heard and have begun to do as he requested I hammer the whistle hard to stop play immediately and tear a strip off the attacker for trying to involve me in his deception. I might caution the cheeky player, but guarantee it will be a ceremonial restart at MY determination.


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Juan,
The issue for me is not so much what the players do (or ask for) but what the referee has indicated. It is the referee who is in charge of the situation and has the authority to decide how it is to be handled. I have to say I'm a little puzzled by this frequent reference to players 'asking for' the ten yards. I personally have never experienced it during a game in England (or games I've been involved in abroad) so perhaps this is a US thing. I've had players complain when opponents are too close, but that's not quite the same. I think this goes along with the myth that defenders don't have to withdraw the full ten yards unless the kicking team requests it - which also seems to be a US phenomenon and is of course completely untrue.

Having said that, if the players have asked for the required distance to be enforced and especially if the referee has given any indication that they are going to enforce the required distance, then the kick should then become 'ceremonial' and once that happens, a quick free kick should not be allowed.

This is actually referenced in the Laws of the Game document where it is recommended that a whistle should be used to:

''restart play for: free kicks when the appropriate distance is required''

So if the referee (not the players) has called for the kick to be 'on the whistle' and it is taken before said whistle, it should be retaken and indeed, the referee may possibly even decide to caution the player for taking it quickly, if the referee feels it was done in defiance of their instructions.

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