Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 34688

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/3/2022

RE: Adult

Peter Martin of Neath, United Kingdom asks...

It used to be the case that when taking a free kick if the opposition didn't retreat 10 yards and they obstructed the free kick from being taken quickly, they would be booked. What changed? It's now common place for opposition to delay a free kick being taken quickly by standing over the ball.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Peter,

This is a big frustration for me. I think that the referees at the professional game compromise on a lot for the sake of trying to not intervene in the match, or for trying to avoid cards - personally I think the game is poorer for it. We regularly see defenders run up to stand right in front of the ball to prevent a quick kick - you're right that this should be a caution, but they're not even copping a warning.

Expect your grassroots referees to be stricter on this stuff, but seeing it fall into the bucket of 'dissent', 'diving and feigning injury' and 'keepers holding the ball for more than 6 seconds' as things completely ignored at these levels is very frustrating - and it makes it harder for the grassroots referees because it sets an incorrect standard of how they expect the game to be refereed.


Read other questions answered by Referee Jason Wright

View Referee Jason Wright profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Peter
I share my colleagues' frustrations as well when it comes to blatant gamesmanship but remember the right to go quickly once TAKEN the opposition can interfere at that moment the ball is put in play. What is not ingrained in players' conduct is the need to vacate 10 yards in all directions once a foul has occurred and been recognized by the official with a stoppage they can kind of delay acting quickly to vacate

Generally defenders do not get away with kicking the ball away after a foul unless it was a reasonably legit clearance just as the foul occurs but they do enjoy lying down or wandering in front, appearing dazed, confused, occasionally hurt, walking convoluted paths to block a direct pass or shot or if the ball winds up near no real effort to get the ball quickly back to the opposition is exerted. .

A referee as a neutral observer is not supposed to intervene even with simple commands like, ten yards now gentlemen or back away, as that is considered interference with the decision of the attackers to go or not go at their discretion versus warning defenders they are skirting cautionable territory.

Unfortunately money, power, politics play a far larger role worldwide then on a grassroots local pitch.

We understand the political theater , the scrutiny, responsibilities and pressure exerted on NEUTRAL officials to assist the teams, coaches, players to not succumb to the harsh demands of competition where winning is a key component to success, money and power!

At the elite, the prevailing attitude is financial rewards, let them play to entertain and try to avoid interfering by accepting what the teams are able to tolerate.

The issues that arise by not enforcing a stricter code of conduct, it promotes many indiscretions of envelope pushing behavior.

You might note that occasionally the powers that be will suddenly put out a referee directive blurb to say, crack down on simulation, or ensure substitutes are held accountable for leaving quicker or free kicks should be freely taken with a minimum of fuss, trying to react to the pressures exerted.

It is why such advice before a corner kick or DFK which on one hand they say you do not require a whistle restart yet they want you to try to manage the conduct BEFORE the restart to prevent having to call the foul after. The push to make everything ceremonial with a whistle to indicate the restart seems baked into the existing framework of todays soccer!


Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
The law has NOT changed yet the way it is enforced by referees particularly at the higher levels has. The reason for that is that teams rarely look for that attacking through ball yet more often than not it is a short pass sideways or backwards to maintain possession. While it is common to see attackers run in front of the ball rarely do we see it preventing a restart with the kicker passing it short both sideways and backways to hold on to possession.

What has then happened is that this tactic is copied at the lower levels of the game and it is more difficult for referees to deal with it as it has become common place. You will notice as well that pro teams rarely look for a free kick when possession is maintained as possession and the short passing game is more important than say at lower levels where getting the ball into the penalty area at every opportunity can be team tactics. You will also notice that Pro teams rarely try to play the ball forward towards the opponent and in many instances just wait until the player has retreated. In truly attacking positions most times the free kick is made ceremonial which means that the defending players are moved back before the kick is allowed to proceed.

I always made a point of speaking to the players who do this with a warning not to do it as at the lower levels of the game the attacking forward ball is much more likely and as a result the caution for failing to respect the required distance or delaying the restart is more likely.

The key point for me is that the game has "allowed" certain tactics to become common place many of which are contrary to the laws such as throw in location, goalkeepers holding the ball longer than allowed, illegal shielding the ball over the goal line, holding / pushing at corner kicks etc. This tactic has become another one of those.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 34688
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.