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Question Number: 33650

High School 9/14/2019

RE: High School High School

Peter Thompson of Indianapolis, IN United States asks...

When we are taking a corner kick we had a player standing in front of the keeper and the ref made them move. I have been looking through the NFHS rules and cannot find what the issue is?

Can someone clarify this for me


Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Peter,
Sounds like overzealous officiating for me - I remember seeing other referees do the same. Of course, all you and your players can do is grin and bear it! Players are entitled to stand anywhere they like on the field.
What the referee needs to watch for is if that attacker is blocking the progress of the keeper. In saying that, he's certainly entitled to hold his ground if the keeper is trying to take the same space he is - but if he's moving off that spot to back into the keeper to block him, using his arms to restrict the position of the keeper or clearly following the keeper just in front of him to keep blocking his view and limiting his movement (keeping in mind we need to be clear that this is happening, and that the attacker isn't just moving for the ball), then there's a potential infringement.
Of course, the referee also needs to closely watch the players in case the keeper ends up being the one committing an offence!
Also, the refereeing team needs to remain aware of the movement of the defenders and consider that this attacker could very quickly find themselves in an offside position once the ball has touched another attacker in the PA, and may be guilty of interfering with an opponent should his position restrict the keeper's movement towards a shot, or block the keeper's view. In my experience this rarely is the case, but you always have to watch for it.

I appreciate that you've taken the time to look through the rulebook - if only more coaches did the same!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
This is a tactic that teams use to put pressure on the goalkeeper at corner kicks.
As offside does not apply directly from the kick the team can push an attacker right up on the goalkeeper.
Now that player may not impede or restrict the movement of the goalkeeper in any way. Should he do so it an offence.
As to the referee moving a player in this position I cannot see anything in the rules that supports that and the tactic happens all the time because it cannot be prevented. IFAB recently introduced a no attacker rule in defensive walls of three players or more to stop this type of action.
I personally pay particular attention to the player close to the goalkeeper at corner kicks and if he moves to impede / hold the goalkeeper it is called immediately. Anytime I have called the offence it generally puts an end to it.
I think the referee on the day here probably does not like this tactic and the problems it causes or there was more involved. All referees know that goalkeepers move quite a bit in these situations and so does the attacker who tries to shadows him probably with a defender in close attendance trying to stop the attacker getting close to the goalkeeper . Many times I have to step in to prevent pushing, jostling for position between the group of players. I would dearly like to move the attacking player away in some situations yet there is nothing in the rules / laws to do so. Rather than move the attacking player before the kick all the referee has to do is watch the players actions and if illegal then call the offence the moment the ball is in play.
Finally let me pose this question.
Would you rather that the referee moved the player before the kick is taken if his actions were causing problems for the game or likely to do so or called a holding / impeding offence the moment the ball is kicked?
In many ways the referee is doing the attacker a favour by moving him. Not supported in the rules etc yet the alternative is that the hint of impeding gets called.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Peter,
If the player is just standing their ground close to the keeper, I can't see where there would be too much wrong with this. However what usually happens is that the player tries to actually block the keeper's movement - as the keeper moves away, the player 'shadows' the keeper and often this leads to bodily contact between the players; pushing, holding etc.

A proactive referee will often intervene to stop these kinds of shenanigans from occurring or escalating and I suspect that is what was happening here.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Peter,
technically there is nothing wrong in standing in front of the keeper at a corner kick . You are entitled to your piece of ground as they say. What you can not do is dance as his shadow when he tries to move away. There is NO offside to consider!
Although offside MIGHT factor in AFTER the corner kick an the ball gets another team mate touch.
HOWEVER, if before or during the ball being put into play, you PLAY the keeper as a blocker, the ball is NOT within playing distance when it is kicked, thus you are at minimum impeding him , nor can you hold or touch him. It is ONLY misconduct prior to restart but a foul AFTER the restart A proactive referee tries to stop the artificial jockeying for position as elbow jabs and pushes start up even BEFORE the ball is in play. I recall a tactic by a MLS coach that tried to put 4 guys around the keeper forcing the keeper to push past them to get out of the box so to speak. He was angry because I awarded a free kick to the keeper each time.even as the keeper was pushing to get out thinking they could pull off a PK for a push.. Cannot play the man unless the ball is there to where you can challenge him legally.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


NFHS Rule 18-1-v defines interfering with an opponent as preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent's line of vision or movement of challenging an opponent for the ball.

NFHS Rule 11-1-4 indicates that a player is offside and penalized if at the time the ball touches or is played by a teammate, the player in an offside position becomes involved in active play by interfering with an opponent.

In your situation, the referee most likely thought that your player was obstructing the keeper (either vision or movement) and wanted to prevent your player from interfering with an opponent.

I believe that this was a proactive and valid action by the referee.

I hope that you have a successful season and that your team gets to play in the State Finals at Fishers High School on November 1 & 2.

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