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Question Number: 35072

Mechanics 8/19/2023

RE: Pro Other

Efstathios Avgoustiniatos of Houston, TX United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 33791

Assume VAR and a rebound by the offending player. If leaning in did not constitute encroachment, then, in a similar situation of a foul kick, a player could jump ahead and while still in the air block a foul kick cutting the required distance in half (all these rules are related to the distance from the ball when the kick is taken). Reason dictates that stepping in is NOT a requirement for encroachment.

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Efstathios,
I'm sorry but I'm not sure I understand the reference to jumping ahead and cutting the distance in half for a foul (free?) kick. The distance required for a free kick is ten yards and I rather doubt that a single "jump" would halve that distance but if, by using any means, a player had moved their whole body (including the feet) precipitously forward to five yards away in order to block a free kick, I don't think a referee is going to accept that.

However I don't believe you can draw a real, meaningful comparison between physically blocking a free kick and encroachment into the penalty area at a penalty kick (PK). These are totally different parts of the law and a player encroaching into the penalty area is not trying to block the kick.

Although I would say that if a player encroached by five yards at a PK and then became involved in the way specified in the law, that would certainly be called with VAR and hopefully even without.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Efstathios
Thanks for the question.

VAR has a unique set of instructions in what can be done to assist a referee in officiating a game. Match officials make hundreds of decisions in every match, including decisions that an offence has not occurred. It would be impossible, without completely changing soccer, to review every decision.

So encroachment at a free kick would not be reviewed while encroachment at a penalty kick that has a clear impact on the outcome will be reviewed.

Law 13 and 14 set out what constitutes an offence and a referee has to decide to use VAR to correct clear errors and for missed serious incidents in defined match-changing decisions. Encroachment at a free kick would not be one of those and it is left to the referee to make the onfield call only.

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