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Question Number: 34760

Law 13 - Free Kicks 11/9/2022

RE: Rec Other

Ron Gibson of Amelia, Ohio USA asks...

Upon taking a indirect free kick the attacking player A intentionally steps on ball as they run over it. Defending players charge towards ball. The Referee did a retake. The coach protested that his defense should be allowed to charge the ball as it is live. The referee said the ball has to be kicked. The rule says kicked, to me a touch is a kick because it is not possible to touch the ball in that manner without it moving. My take is either the ball is live upon the touch or USB for bending the intention of the IFK. Please let me know your thoughts

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ron
Thanks for the question.

For any restart to be taken correctly the ball has to be kicked and clearly moved. Standing on the ball or tapping the top of a ball might not be deemed by some to be a kick that clearly moves the ball so those referees can decide that the kick is not taken and request that the kick be taken in line with the Law or if the action is ignored by the defending team then to accept any subsequent kick as the restart. A direct shot on goal at an IDFK is where it matters only.
That principle has been long established in the advice to referees and indeed the former advice book to referees, the USSF’s ATR which no longer exists stated that ** Simply tapping the top of the ball with the foot or stepping on the ball are not sufficient.**
The ATR went on to say that ** referees should not unfairly punish for "failing to respect the required distance" when an opponent was clearly confused by a touch and movement of the ball which was not a restart**

Many referees can opine that any contact on the ball that visibly moves the ball even slightly is a proper restart and allow play to continue. IFAB. the law making body in the season 2016/ 17 added the word CLEARLY to moved in the Laws on all kicked restarts to deal with a growing problem of discerning whether a ball was in play or not when the ball was *touched* at a restart. Those of us around long enough recall when the ball had to travel its circumference to be in play. That was subsequently removed and replaced with MOVED and then added to with CLEARLY which is what we have today

Those older ATR principles will still be applied by some referees as to what is expected in the game. Others can be more relaxed about the contact on the ball.
From your description it reads that the defenders who charged the ball were not sanctioned with a caution which is also in keeping with that advice.
This works the other way as well as if any shot was to have entered the goal directly on an IDFK the referee would disallow the goal and either award a goal kick or if there was encroachment to order a retake.
Ultimately it is the referee's decision on the day to opine if the ball is kicked and clearly moved to be a legal restart.
The coaching point for young players is that to prevent any issue the ball should be seen to be kicked such as a toe poke, foot roll etc where the ball can be seen to clearly move a short distance. A tap on top or setting a foot on top of the ball raises a question mark which is what happened here. The difference of a toe poke of say 5/6 inches with opponents 10 yards away compared to a tap on top of the ball is insignificant to the kicking team so the former raises no problems for either team. Once the ball moves a *short* distance the question is mute.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Ron,
that's the rub is it not? Coaches protesting will not change a referee decision once the whistle sounds so best to table such things post game. I referee and coach and I might be irate but I also get both sides!
Yes, you can point to the LOTG that state the ball must KICKED and CLEARLY moved!

My esteemed colleague Ref McHugh suggested there were no cautions and the referee went with a retake? It is an accepted way of dealing with confusion!

HOWEVER, it is very COMMON for a player on an INDFK to run over the ball with a foot tap and the fact both teams agree it suffices for the 1st touch so the follow up 2nd touch/kick can result in a legal goal, the referee rarely intervenes.

Personally, I think the referee was persnickety to deny the ball was in play unless he had already made this a thing already. When the defenders rushed was the attacking COACH screaming?

As long as the referee is being -consistent- theme in their officiating regime I cannot argue albeit I might disagree! If the kick is be retaken what about the throw ins? What sort of foul tolerance are we dealing with.

By setting this precedent the referee must now perform his decision making with an exacting standard. It gets retaken and they do the same but the ball wiggles just a tiny bit and they score as the hesitancy of the defenders are unsure since they were confused the first time CRAP will hit the fan to be sure! In otherwards EVERYBODY best see the ball moving VERY Clearly

Personally I see a foot sole tap touch make visible contact on an INDFK restart by a player doing a run over it's the first touch set up for the follow up real kicker to have their go.

I very much dislike to see players dribbling a ball with the feet repositioning it to a specific spot keeping their foot on said ball then reroll it just a wee bit claiming it is or is not yet kicked. If the ball is still with a foot resting on it and they take it away. THAT is NOT a kick with the sole or tap, they must push it in such a way as to see it visibly move.

I see these silly walls where players stand in front of the ball, and they try to hide the first touch as not being made, similar to corner kick cutesy plays. I suggested to the IFAB through our association that they make ALL kicking restarts a hand placement SAME as in PKs placed on the spot. That way ANY foot contact is a go! No guessing!

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Ron,

Typically we'd consider any contact with the foot to be kicked. For instance, if he put his foot on top and rolled the ball, that would be 'kicked and clearly moves' (though it would depend if the ball continues to roll after he's lifted his foot off).

In the case you describe, if the ball clearly moves and continues to move after the player lifts their foot, it's in play. If not, it's not in play.

Now, if the ball is not in play, strictly speaking it's supposed to be a caution for the defence for not respecting the required distance, but when there's a case where there's confusion with both teams over whether it's in play, and it isn't in play, I think just holding things up and having a retake is the best approach.

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