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Question Number: 34743

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/20/2022

RE: Competitive Under 13

Raymond of San Francisco, CA United States asks...

Hi guys. I'm wondering if I missed a rule change. Or maybe I've always had it wrong.

Last weekend a team put on a show to deceive at a corner kick. Black team #6 set up the restart. Then both he and his coach called loudly for #11 to take the kick instead. As #11 walked over, #6 gently kicked the ball out from the corner, and when #11 got to it, he dribbled off for a shot on goal.

I know that feinting is allowed, and, absent the loud calling out, it was play on. I thought that coaches & players were not allowed to use words to try to trick their opponents, though, so I admonished the coach and explained to him that the issue was the talking, not the play.

Just now I saw a notice from my local ref association. It reads: "On a corner kick, play is restarted when the ball is "kicked and moves". The ball does not need to leave the corner to be in play. Some teams will practice a "trick play" where the first player will put the ball in play and call out to another player to "Come take the kick." The second player then will dribble the ball with multiple touches - as the ball was put in play by the first player. This verbal deception is legal when performed by a player. Recent CNRA guidance is that this deception is also legal when performed by a team official (coach)."

I know that I should follow local guidance, but I'm wondering what your take is on the situation and whether I've actually misunderstood the rules/expectations for this type of deception on restarts.

Thank you very much for your thoughts.


Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Raymond
Thanks for the question.

There has been no law change in respect of Law 17 other than the addition of CLEARLY a few years ago and the ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moved.

What you have posted is the opinion of someone in your local referee association. The law is clear in that opponents may not be verbally distracted during play or at a restart. In my opinion it is verbal distraction and based on the circumstances that opinion is for the referee to make not some blanket instruction. The flip side of that is that defenders start charging down the ball very time it is touched with a foot aka the Ronaldo incident last weekend when he opined that a free kick was taken by a defender to the goalkeeper whereas the goalkeeper and referee thought otherwise. Roll the clock back to the Kuyt goal for Liverpool v Sunderland some years ago and in similar circumstances it was allowed. Therein is the discretion given to referees based on the circumstances .

There is no issue with player communication or a ball being kicked into play yet this ruse does not work without the words that the ball is not in play and the law is clear on verbal distraction. It is listed as a caution for unsporting behaviour. Most times the ball is not in play before the words so it can only be an offence if the ball is in play and then the infraction. If the ball does not leave the arc then the 2nd kicker can be guilty of a double touch infraction provided the 1st kick was not correctly taken.
Gamesmanship” is the practice of winning a game through acts of doubtful propriety, such as distracting an opponent without technically violating the Laws of the Game. Those are on the cusp of USB. However, the referee must be very careful, for while the act might be within the letter of the Law, it may well fall outside the Spirit of the Law.
At Underage a player can be verbally distracted certainly by a coach who is shouting in a way that takes the opponents focus off the kick and the ball. In my opinion the same applies to players as an opponent’s attention can be distracted towards the player who is coming across yet misses the actual kick being taken.
I feel that this is more an issue in the US as coaches seem to want to play trick plays out of a playbook which may have its origins in other sports.
In this video the goal was allowed
This is simply not within the laws nor the spirit of the game. Is it a goal that a team can be proud of in terms of skill, speed, strength?

For me it is always a retake as the words to me tell me that the kick is not taken and I even may not be sure if and when the kick was taken. Sure all a referee has to say is I did not see the kick so lets have the kick.

Let me pose this situation. While all this is happening a referee sees a player stood jostling the goalkeeper on the goal line or tugging between players that needs attention or something else such as a player stood over the goal line and the referee wants a word. He would get on the whistle, deal with the conduct and then ask for the restart.
Its a pet peeve of mine yet the referee advice is clear
** 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...** to do that a referee can hold up a restart or ask for a retake when the matter has been dealt with.

As a final point I know from experience that not all referees **get the memo** or that they missed the meeting where it was discussed. Plus attending to something before any restart kick is the referees prerogative and that cannot be questioned.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Raymond,
It puts referees in a difficult spot when teams push the boundaries of fair play, or try to find things that aren't really part of what is envisioned as part of the beautiful game but aren't explicitly against the laws.

As Ref McHugh says, the only change is from 'kicked and moves' to 'kicked and clearly moves'. I'm still not entirely convinced that change really meant anything, but I digress.

The understanding that verbal deception changes these 'trick corners' from legal to illegal has just been a discussion on the application of the law, with consideration to the spirit of the game.

When we have such young players, even at a competitive grade, I think it can be a little easier to take a more proactive 'fair play' approach. Perhaps the coach's actions are cautionable, but I think we can avoid this. Along with my esteemed colleague, I'm inclined to, at the time of the verbal deception/interference by the coach, blow the whistle and have it taken properly - unless the defence are savvy enough to realise what's happening and are running for the ball!

Assuming that isn't the case and I'm holding up the restart, I might just quickly call out "let's leave the verbal deception out of it, thanks coach! Alright, corner kick, let's go". Gets the message across and gets play going quickly without any cards, and probably stops the issue arising again.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Ray,
in some universe, this misguided approach to the usually non-ceremonial (thus no whistle is required) corner kick restart, someone must have thought to themselves I have this AMAZING idea let us pretend to take the corner as our corner kicks are terrible and lack the sufficient strength arc and power to be whipped onto the far side of the PA and while the referee is busy sorting out the confusion in front of the goal with the pushing and shoving of all those players seeking to get a better position, that a yell out of some verbal misdirection ,our 2nd boy can simply dribble it in closer and they will not have a clue!

Tactically a referee should not interfere with the game.
Yet the teams must not implicate the referee into an alliance by sneaky deception.

The LOTG state the ball must be PLACED in the corner arc and that ball is in play when it is CLEARLY kicked and moved after that occurs.
A referee must be AWARE this has definitely occurred!

The defenders must be 10 yards away, occasionally a small intersecting line indicates this distance in the higher leagues off the goal line

Defender are generally unwilling to rush in to challenge a restart when the kickers taking them tend to move the ball about with their feet in the placement even resting the foot on top & rolling it around where then a slight push rollaway can create a probable ball in play but was it CLEAR to the referee and the defenders?

Did you see or hear about the recent Ronaldo MU incident (He took the ball off the keeper and scored, it was disallowed and he was cautioned for 1 0f 3 reasons (delaying the restart of play or failure to give ten yards or perhaps dissent for arguing about his efforts going to waste?) Ronaldo claimed the defender took the free kick but the officials decided it was only a kick to give the ball to the keeper, so the keeper could take the free kick? You can understand why defenders do not always charge down a barely moved ball, never mind one where they are uncertain play is effectively restarted. Yet the defenders do mill about close to restart locations, trying to delay things quite often.

I thought the LOTG were not to be altered without consultation but perhaps this interpretation is a local thing? The very fact your association thought it necessary to allow this verbal deception to be written down in these weird bylaws of sorts for all to see as advice I can guess that some will point to it and say, "See I told you so!"

IN the case of a corner, while a short corner take is plausible, generally a hard driven ball across the face of goal is the normal one. Now if there is an intelligent defender watching and he quickly moves in to challenge, seeing the ball has in fact clearly been kicked only for the opposing team to scream "Hey he is interfering with the restart!

The referee can be conflicted because some of their attention is on the squabbling actions going on in the PA as players from both teams are running amuck pushing shoving holding waiting for the ball to arrive.

If the referee is indicating or had indicated WAIT for the whistle, until a whistle sounds, the corner kick can not proceed

Hoping to take advantage of the usual expectations the trick play is born.
As a referee I might address this verbal deception in one of two ways

If I am aware, or the whistle was blown to restart, the defenders react immediately, move in the moment that ball is 1st kicked
I am ok at letting it play out

If I sense confusion or conflict I call out

(a) So then that kick did not put the ball in play!
followed by
(b) Ok then lets CLEARLY wait for the whistle!

Perhaps a good law to implement requires that on ALL free kicks the ball MUST be placed on the correct restart spot using only the hands by team (player) that was awarded the free kick?

No more repositioning with the feet to get it into position or if the ball is already stationary at the restart spot , any foot contact puts the ball in play.


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