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Question Number: 34635

Law 13 - Free Kicks 7/1/2022

RE: Pro Professional

Steve Debus of Crofton , MD USA asks...

Please look at the attached link
I think I would award the goal as the ref in this clip did but I am conflicted. There was a spirited discussion about this in the comments. The most relevant to me was that the kick was taken not exactly at the point of the foul but where the ball rolled afterwards. It was about 2m away and back from the foul point and only in a more advantageous position since the defense was not standing around it. That said many quick kicks are taken not precisely where the foul was, just usually neaerer mid field.

Thanks for your response

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steve
Thanks for the question
You correctly point out that many free kicks are not taken from the exact location of the offence. There is never certainty about the exact blade of grass where the offence happened yet in general though the kick should be "close" to the location.

Clearly that is a judgement call for the referee on the day and it will also depend on the strictness or otherwise of the referee in placements. Some referees can be super picky about location while others will be more relaxed. I watched a referee recently move countless free kick restart locations, in some cases at most maybe a yard. I thought it was picky and in none of the kicks did it make any difference other than the referee being seen to in "control" of every kick. He certainly would not have allowed that one!

Now on this one I am leaning towards a retake simply on the basis that the referee was in the way of play in front of the ball. I believe the location of the restart is well defined just on the arc so he referee would be well justified in disallowing the goal on the basis that the kick was not taken from the correct location.
Had the referee been behind or to the side then I believe that it would have been an easier "sell" of a quick free kick rather than one where the referee in in the middle of play.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Steve,

I think the point you raise about the location of the kick is a good one. As I'm sure you know, we get more strict on the location the closer to goal it is - and usually we're trying to get it spot on around the attacking third, but usually it's ceremonial and we're on the spot telling them where it is.

Is there room for some flexibility if it's taken quickly? I'd say so - and usually a little bit of flexibility is fine.

Now, I know that some referee try to argue you should never let a quick free kick occur around the PA. I believe, with the utmost certainty, that quick kicks are the attacker's right, in most cases - so anybody arguing you shouldn't allow it quickly is, in my view, just wrong.

But, I do have 2 issues with this one.

The first is the referee's positioning. I think a quick kick becomes a little problematic when the referee is standing directly between the kick and the defenders - essentially screening the kick from view.

The second is what you say - the location of the kick. I'm fine with some leeway. Is 2 metres too much? Maybe, maybe not. 2m behind probably matters less than 2m to the side. But, ref's call. However, the other problem is that this 2m actually gave them a huge advantage - because there was a player on the ground and a defender standing there, it would be impossible to take the kick from the spot of the foul if they tried to do so, they'd be kicking it directly into either their teammate on the ground, or the defender. That 2m made all the difference - which is why I'm inclined to say it should have been retaken.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Steve,
the LOTG allow a great deal of leeway to the exact positioning of a free kick and the only rights a defending team have is???

Yup technically none! The LOTG dictate the defenders move ten yards away from the spot of the foul, no where does it say the free kick only occurs if they are ready!

Unless the referee has directly interfered by clearly indicating a ceremonial whistled restart defenders MUST be aware of the attacking options of a free kick. Heck it's why they hang around the spot of the foul most of the time, to delay & recover.

Although the ball was stationary, & the ball was not exactly positioned on the blade of grass location, it was temptingly vulnerable & reasonably close & the defenders were ignoring it. The right to go quickly was always present so a smart attacker saw the opportunity and took it.

I would agree with you that a blade of grass restart is more in keeping the closer the ball is in the attacking third. Plus as pointed out the referee is standing in a pretty compromising, hide the ball from the keeper position. The appearance of impropriety from the position might give a bad impression but if he was simply pointing to indicate the free kick and not engaged in talking or distracting the defenders? He seemed fully aware that the kicker was having a go by the body turn and indicate the goal as good immediately with no hesitation

Speaking here as a coach I warn my players the game is ALWAYS on even when it is not. Unless the referee has whistled play dead and ceremonially restarting play. A referee is part of the playing conditions, just like the wind or pitch surface and while there is a little more fairness if he gets in the way then there used to be the fact he was ok with the restart, his match, his decision, his reputation !

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