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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34261

Law 5 - The Referee 7/9/2021

RE: Competitive Adult

Peter Babbage of Hjorring , Denmark asks...

A couple of questions arising from the England v Denmark game if I may. Firstly, the Danish players were standing almost on the toes of the defensive wall when they scored. Obviously the best scenario is for the ref to shift them before the kick is taken. This didn’t happen and they scored. What should have happened? Is it a re-take or an indirect free kick to England? Next leading up to one of the goals England attacked down the right and there was another ball on the field. Should the ref have stopped play and had it removed ( that would have been popular!) or as happened as it had no real impact on the play let it go?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Peter,
Yes, it was true the 1-yard distance, not in the wall protocols was bent slightly. But did it prevent the wall from doing its job?

If, when a free kick is taken, an attacking team player is less than 1 m (1 yd)
from a ‘wall’ formed by three or more defending team players, an indirect free
kick is awarded.

Taking back a goal and awarding the INDFK out, there better be a shoe imprint on the body of a defender somewhere noticeable.

The extra ball played no part in the build-up or after play, so there was no interference as it was ignored by all, the referee just allowed play to roll on just as it was supposed to!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
Thanks for the questions.
On the free kick incident the Danish players seemed to be the required distance away from the defensive wall at the set up. When the kick was taken those positions had changed yet there was no impact by any Danish player on the wall. One player was sprinting towards goal in case there was a rebound but made no contact with any player.

In the past there have been serious shenanigans in these defensive walls hence the need to introduce this law. Had the attackers say pulled a defender away from the wall or made space by pushing into the wall before the kick then that would be an offence punished by an IDFK. Nothing like that happened so anything that did happen was doubtful or trifling.

On your second question again this was a law change based on the fact that the game does not have to be stopped if there is a second ball on the field of play which does not interfere with play. In the past unscrupulous team officials or substitutes played a second ball on to the FOP to get play stopped to their team’s advantage or in the odd occasion where the second ball impacted directly on play accidentally.

In this situation the second ball had no impact on play and it was ignored by ALL the players. Some of the pundits who have been around the game for a long time made a big deal out of the second ball incident. Clearly their knowledge of the law is dated.

Law 5 states
An extra ball, other object or animal enters the field of play during the match, the referee must:– .........
# allow play to continue if it does not interfere with play and have it removed at the earliest possible opportunity

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Peter,
The players were initially separated from the wall...looked to be less than 1 yard, but maybe not.
The problem was that the attacking players then turned and charged straight into the wall before the ball was kicked.
This then leaves the ref in a difficult position - too late to prevent the kick being taken, so now we have a blatant breach that the referee must either ignore, or disallow the goal for.

Given that breaching the wall didn't clearly impact anybody's ability to save the goal, I think that not disallowing the goal is in line with how the game is currently refereed - to not make significant decisions like that unless you have to. Of course, there are some problems that arise - not least being that a blatant breach of the laws was permitted.

As for the extra ball - the ref only has to stop play if it actually interferes. While I probably would have expected play to stop once it's within a few yards of the ball, given that nobody seemed affected by it I can't criticise the referee for playing on. It didn't affect any of the defenders - didn't cause confusion or distraction, nor get in anybody's way. People arguing this should have disallowed the goal are really clutching at straws.

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