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Question Number: 34034

High School 10/24/2020

RE: High School High School

PETER of STOCKTON, CA United States asks...

One of my "pet peeves" is when a free kick is awarded the opposition has a player go and stand over the ball. In my pre-game with coaches and captains I tell them this is a yellow card offense. However, I am seeing this done more and more at the professional level with no repercussions. Is this something that referees should ignore? I have seen other referees card the defending player is the ball hits them. In my opinion this causes the kicker having the opportunity to kick the ball directly at the defending player and then raises issues regarding dangerous play

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Peter,
once the free kick is awarded to the opposing team, a defending player standing over or near the free kick location is in fact, more guilty of delaying the restart of play, as opposed to, failure to respect the distance.

While both are cautionable actions they are NOT automatic yellow cards.

We allow SOME leeway for the defence to recover and dissipate in a TIMELY fashion! If there was ALREADY cautionable misconduct associated with the reason to stop play we must deal with that and that again takes time.

WE also recognize that often attacking teams WANT to take a ceremonial free kick and are OK with the wall setting and time delays.

What is a fallacy or myth is this crazy idea the attackers need to ASK for ten yards! They DO NOT need to ask for anything, they can CHOOSE to go quickly or wait and make it cerimonial as it is THEIR free kick.

The Defending team have NO rights except an auto mandate within the LOTG to withdraw 10 yards from the restart location in ALL directions. . The ONLY time they CAN be within ten yards is at an INDFK within their own penalty area where they COULD be between 6 to 9.9 yards away BUT they would have to be standing on the goal line under the crossbar and between the posts.

I want to point out a similarity in the actions of defenders against an attacking player about to take the free kick and the attacking keeper during a 6 second punt out or release. Just know that rhe keeper interference is an INDFK out for a foul during active play where the free kick remains as is in a misconduct only situation. Both the attacker player & keeper can CHOOSE to take the kick even with opposing players in close proximity.

If they hit the defender accidently its tough luck and play continues.


If the attackers DELIBERATELY try to angle the kick or a throw AT the defender we have USB or a striking action and worse than USB a send off for VC as a possibility.

HOWEVER, to your pet peeve, if it is PAINFULLY obvious the defender is creating the situation to unfold with controversy you as a referee have the authority to call them on their BS. You sense the frustration of the kicker as the defender is milling about or moving in or kicks the ball away unfairly you certainly can stop things caution for delaying the restart and set the bar.

A defending player will deliberately wander away at odd angles or jogs to thwart a kick or attack from being exploited. They do this not only at free kicks but often during active play they track keepers about to punt the ball to mess with the 6 second release. They are not in good faith backing away from the restart spot or keeper, often they are in behind and cut across or in front of the kicker/keeper pretending to be retreating towards their own goal.

Other defenders will bend down tying a shoe pretending to be winded or engage in an argument or some discussion with the kicker or more risky even the referee to distract and give their teammates TIME to get in line for defending. This is in effect continuing in the same reasoning why they created the free kick circumstances fouling an opposing player to stop an attack. This is just additional misconduct with the SAME aim, to allow recovery time!

During pregame you COULD remark about proper substitutions and PERHAPS expectations of 10 yards now at free kicks to express intolerance for foolish behaviour. Do not threaten them with cards WILL be shown but we could certainly imply the USB action of such behaviour can cause cards to appear.

The last thing is advantage .
At a quick restart or even a ceremonial one the defenders can try to delay the restart and FAIL (a quick outlet pass is not intercepted by the too close defender, which springs the attack) just as they can not respect the ten yards and FAIL ( an early charge in to thwart the kick as the ball hits or just misses the too early closing defender resulting in a a goal or a clear beneficial outcome) In these cases perhaps a verbal warning on how LUCKY that defender was NOT to be cautioned. If the outcome is NOT beneficial due to the illegal or unfair interference indeed caution show the yellow card and retake!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

You are correct that in high school games standing over and preventing a kick is considered unnecessary delay. As per NFHS Rule 12.8.1f2. unnecessary delay is considered unsporting conduct and a caution (yellow card) should be given.

Please remember that the high school and professional level games differ in the rules and how the game should be officiated. High school rules stress safety and participation where professional level rules cater to the elite player and making money is a major goal. When watching the referees in a professional game, I look at and try to learn from their mechanics and positioning. I do try to understand the calls or non-calls that they make, but at the same time realize that the same call or non-call in a high school game may differ

The difference between professional and high school rules and calls is not unique to soccer. Rules and goals differences between professional and high school contests can be found in most sports. Once again, this is because the goals of the sports are different.

Any information that you can provide to the teams in advance that will prevent cautions is helpful. If you are finding that unnecessary delay is a problem in your area, warning the players and coaches before the game starts is definitely warranted.

I hope that the California high school soccer season is able to get underway in the spring, and that you have a very successful season.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
Thank you for your question.
I recall advice from a professional referee that grassroots referees should not emulate all that is done in the Pro game by match officials. Regularly we see Pro referees ignore dissent or allow challenges that should be sanctioned more severely. A Pro ref might send off a defender for denying a goal scoring opportunity a long distance from goal yet the same distance in grassroots may not be close to a scoring opportunity.
In the Pro game at restarts your “pet peeve” has become common place and both teams do it. Rarely do the kickers want to go forward so they go sideways or backwards to maintain possession. In a recent Europa League game I saw a referee award a free kick which at lower levels would have been fine yet the ball had gone to a team mate in a *better* position. It was clear that the fouled team did not want the free kick as they ended up back where they started in a poorer position with a short free kick and the opponents regrouping and a player in front of the ball at the free kick. The ball was kicked backwards and play continued
At grassroots I do not like it either so early in the game I speak to the players who do this with a strong warning that I do not want it to happen. I also do not caution for the aimless kick of the ball at the opponent in front of the ball yet I always caution when it stops the kicker getting the ball to a team mate in an advantageous position, the genuine restart. The caution is for failing to respect the required distance at a restart or unnecessary delay.
As to your pre game instructions then that is fine and players need to know it will be a caution. It is unfortunately not uniformly implemented so it has become a habit in the modern game.
As to dangerous play kicking the ball off an opponents shins at a restart is not dangerous in fact the FIFA games allows as a means to restart provided it is done without excessive force.

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