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Question Number: 33730

High School 10/23/2019

RE: Freshman High School

Derek of Cary, IL USA asks...

Keeper controls the ball with his hands, then drops the ball to the ground, waits 3 seconds for an attacker to pressure him, then picks it up again. I stopped play for the keeper handling the ball a second time, IFK near the penalty mark. Keeper argues to me and I am explaining the call. Attacking team sets up for the IFK right behind me and wants to take a quick kick. I stopped them because I was in front of the ball talking to the keeper and wouldn't be in a safe position afterward.

My question is: If all is perfect, i.e. had the keeper, defenders, and myself been legally positioned, can/should I allow a quick IFK inside the PA? My gut says no because it is an uncommon occurrence that needs monitoring.

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Derek,
There is nothing in the Laws that precludes having a quick free kick inside (or close to) the penalty area - no matter what some referees may say. This is especially true when the attacking team has created a promising attacking position by dint of their own legitimate efforts and has only lost that attacking opportunity because of the illegal actions of the opponents. In those situations, allowing the quick free kick (if possible and practical) is the best way to restore the opportunity that was illegally taken away. It's a kind of restorative justice where the aim is a reversion to the 'status quo ante'.

Having said that, in the situation you describe, I think we have to ask ourselves what was the status quo ante? Did the attacking team have a good opportunity they had created for themselves and which the opponents have taken away from them? In this case, no they didn't. The ball was safely in the possession of the defending team's goalkeeper and the attacking team had no hope or expectation of getting it back. So for me, a natural sense of fairness does not mean suddenly, out of nowhere, creating a gilt-edged opportunity for the attacking team to score a goal when they weren't even in possession of the ball before the opposing goalkeeper committed a technical laws infringement.

So in this particular case, I don't think a quick free kick is really what's appropriate. In cases where the attacking team has had an attacking opportunity taken away, I think a quick free kick is fine and even to be encouraged.

Also, as you have alluded to and as my colleagues have already mentioned, if the referee has already intervened and is managing the situation, a quick free kick is once again, not indicated.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Derek,
You did everything correct there. Because you're engaging with a player that means you're affecting what the defenders are doing so it needs to be ceremonial.
If you're not engaged in a discussion or otherwise intervening then the attacking team has the right to take this quickly - though in my experience, often this quick free kick will either have the ball moving, or be taken from the wrong spot. Remember that this close to goal you want to be quite particular about the location and movement of the ball - moreso than, say, a defensive kick (of course, if a borderline incorrectly taken kick just goes straight out for a goal kick - or into the goal with nobody touching it (for an IFK), then surely it was taken correctly?)
The fact that it is an uncommon occurrence that needs monitoring doesn't have any effect other than it being an uncommon occurrence that needs monitoring. If you have more work to do then so be it. While many referees have a view that there are no quick kicks in and around the penalty area, I'm strongly opposed to this and such an approach to make life easier is denying the attacking team the advantage they're entitled to.
If, however, the keeper had come out to argue and you're not engaging in a discussion (ie kept it at, say, 'you handled it twice, it's an indirect' and kept moving into position) then this is on the keeper being out of position - and the attacking team has every right to take advantage of the fact that the keeper made the choice to not stand in the goalmouth at a free kick.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Derek
Your mechanics were correct. As you have engaged with the goalkeeper it makes the restart ceremonial. It would be unfair if you are explaining a call to allow play to restart.
Now if the referee is not *involved* or imposed on a situation the restart can be the same as anywhere else in the field of play. There is no restriction on allowing a quick free kick.
Have a look at this video
Porto v Arsenal with the referee penalizing a back-pass. The referee asks for the ball which is given to the attacking team and the player wants to get on with play which the referee allows. Nothing wrong in law or in the Rules. Different matter if there is player engagement such as a caution, words etc or there is a delay in the restart
Now many referees make these ceremonial which is to deal with the fall out from allowing the quick restart. Some believe that it must be ceremonial that is on the whistle yet not so.
I have had goals scored in such situations with a fair degree of complaint and also plenty of shots that went wide or hit defenders close to the ball which must be accepted by the kicking team. Never any complaint then from the defending team when the restart is a goal kick or the ball us played away!
Final point. You mention that the goalkeeper had *control*. Was this a parry rather than a full catch, hold for a while and throw down? I assume that because the goalkeeper questioned your call that he believed that he did nothing *wrong* as the parry is rarely seen as control. Over the years I have seen many situations of possible parries yet they were doubtful or trivial and I just let them slide with no complaint I might add from the opponents. The *best*decision at times may not be the correct technical decision or the referees opinion of what is *correct*.

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