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Question Number: 34412

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/10/2021

RE: 7 Adult

ray JOSEPH sharman of broughton astley, leicestershire United Kingdom asks...

although at a corner kick there is a lot of impeding why do you never see a referee give an indirect freekick ether way

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Joseph
Thanks for the question.
Impeding is a very rare offence which involves NO contact and while it is the Laws of the Game the indirect free kick offence is rarely if ever given. I do not know the last time that I saw an impeding offence called.

One of the reasons is that contact between players changes the impeding offence to a penal offence such as holding, charging, pushing which has a direct free kick or penalty kick restart. The *old* obstruction offence is no longer with us for many years now which had an IDFK on contact.

Now unfortunately over the years referees have gotten *soft* on penalising contact offences at corner kicks or free kicks. If they are given it is usually to the defending team. Penalty kick awards are rare in these situations simply because they are big game decisions. Many argue that if referees called offences at corner kicks and free kicks there would be penalties galore and that is probably correct until players learn that an offence will result in a free kick or penalty kick. Some also say that it is six of one and half a dozen of other by players from both teams so they are *ignored* with only the most blatant offences called.

Now we have the ridiculous situations of referees stopping many restarts to *speak* to players and who then just continue the same conduct after the signal is given for the kick to be taken. This is due to the following advice in the Laws and I quote
** Referees are reminded to make an early intervention and to deal firmly with holding offences, especially inside the penalty area at corner kicks and free kicks. To deal with these situations:
# the referee must warn any player holding an opponent before the ball is in play
# caution the player if the holding continues before the ball is in play
# award a direct free kick or penalty kick and caution the player if it happens once the ball is in play**
It rarely gets beyond the first bullet point. I am of the opinion that we do not *warn* players elsewhere about committing fouls so the same should apply at corner / free kicks except where there is the possibility of its escalating into misconduct and that is a judgement call. Not every situation is going to end up as misconduct anyway as that has its sanction as well.

Even with the introduction of VAR it has made little difference. Unless it is so blatant maybe even bordering on violent conduct I rarely see VAR intervening.

So this is something that is going to be around for some time until the soccer world decides that it needs dealing with.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Ray,
impeding has always been a fairly rare call even from the past. I have seen only 1 ABSOLUTELY Clear version of it that I was gobsmacked the referee made no call? Canada versus Salvador WC qualifying match in Vancouver I think it was back in 1997 or 99 where the loose ball being pursused by the Canadian forward the Salvadorian defender jumped in front of the player spread his arms wide then did a flying bird impression as they both swung our wide into a 20 yard curved arc until the CAnadian player finally came to a stop and waved his own arms in despair at the referee who saw it and blatantly never so much as commented on the action There was no contact just the waving arms gesulating all over the place to block, yet they remained only a yard apart from one another while the ball was rolling many many yards away. The Canadian had tried to run around the player but just was not going to happen. I recall all of us who were watching exclaimed that if that was NOT an INDFK for impeding then there has never been a better example of a referee with no idea what impeding was!

It seems this interaction between players where on free kicks and corners, created the push, shove, grab, hold and pull interaction ,which have become an accepted part of the game . Impeding or as we used to call obstruction for off the ball shenanigans generaly turn into DFK restarts due to contact. . We occassionaly have a few PIADM type obstruction type incidents which could be impeding of a sort still show up on occassion usually in youth matches or lesser skilled matches.

I recall attackers surrounding the keeper and various tactics where players try to antagonize each other by linking arms taking obstructive positions to goad the other into a push or grab. The reciprocal holding is so common its simply accepted.

I watch for the ankle step ons as well as the free hand shirt pulls or straight arm pushes from behind! You can find a reason to whistle on just about any free kick. We do tend to watch the ball location and if any one affected in getting to it is so badly hacked that we CAN NOT ignore it results in a DFK out or a PK!

I was watching about 10 players from both teams were so intertwined with arms wapped around the other I stopped play and asked if they were signing up for dance class or if we could find time to play football?

I do tire of warning them to play a game they already know how but just cannot stop themselves.

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