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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000


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Question Number: 35267

Law 13 - Free Kicks 12/4/2023

RE: High School

Joshua Sandoval of Phoenix , Arizona United States asks...

Do you get a yellow yard right away if the team doesn’t ask for 10 yards and i was a couple yards away from the free kick

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Joshua
First of all there is no requirement for a team to request 10 yards. It is a free kick and opponents should retreat away from the ball the required distance, period.

Now we know that does not happen all the time and some players decide to loiter around the ball or for that matter run to get in front of the ball.
Most times a referee will enforce the distance by requesting players to move away or in attacking situations to pace out the required distance for any defensive wall.

Some referees take exception to the non retreat of players usually in the first instance with an admonishment to move away. When players pay no heed to that instruction or repeat the failing to retreat the required distance it will result in a caution.
Some players can be unlucky when it might be their first instance of being in front of the ball and they get sanctioned with a card immediately. Players should pay heed to instructions from referees in these situations to other players. Other players make movements to prevent the kick so those players can expect a card.

So the answer to your question is that if the player is not within the 10 yards or retreating promptly the referee is not asked the question and there is no need for a card. The non request to enforce the 10 yards distance is not a requirement for a card to issue.




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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Joshua,
It's a little difficult to judge what exactly has gone on here, from the limited information in your post. But it does sound as if you were under the impression that a player doesn't have to retreat the ten yards if the other team has not asked for it to be enforced.

However, as ref McHugh mentions, this is not the case. When a free kick is awarded, it is incumbent on the opponents to move the proper distance away and there is nothing that says the team taking the kick needs to ask the referee for anything in this regard.

Now I would say that in many such situations, the referee will give players an admonishment to move back before cautioning but that is not an absolute requirement.

So if it looks as though a player is deliberately hanging around only a couple of yards away from the free kick position and making no effort to retreat despite having had time to do so, then the referee would indeed be entitled to caution that player for failing to respect the required distance, if they decided to do so.



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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Joshua,
The quick answer is maybe!
You do not just get shown a card, you earn it by actions you undertake.
It is not due to an opposing team just asking or not asking for 10 yards but might be because you were a couple yards away from the free kick and in the opinion of the referee you interfered with the right of the opposition to get play underway!

The greatest difficulty in managing soccer matches is related directly to the attitudes and expectations of players and fans regarding necessary disciplinary actions taken. .

When a player fouls an opponent it is generally a challenge for ball possession or designed to break up an attacking venture.

There are two types of cautions, there is the automatic or mandatory where if a player does something the referee MUST show them a yellow card: ie... the shirt removal after a goal celebration. Silliness and you have to wonder, but it is not debatable.

The LOTG stipulate that failing to respect distance at free kicks or delaying restarts is in fact designated as a cautionable action whereby a player COULD be shown the yellow card for such occurrences. These are known as discretionary cautions in they are not automatic but based on the reasonableness of any given situation to SET a standard of acceptable behaviour.

Some times a stern verbal warning & strong body language demeanour can be enough to evacuate the area. My personal proactive approach , which is not recommended as referees are supposed to 100% neutral. I occasionally yell out, "TEN yards NOW!" when I see defenders lollygagging about the restart location, trying to avoid the necessity to card or see the restart delayed by frustration or ignorance.

A lack of understanding as well as the continual perpetuation of myths: as the need for a team to REQUEST 10 yards at the taking of a FREE kick.
The optimal word here is free! They do not have to ask for anything. Their opponents on the other hand need to clear out ASAP..

The RIGHT for the offended team to restart quickly (that is without a whistle and even if opponents are in fact too close, is an OPTION they have) Provided the referee is not managing the situation in some way that prevents it.
In all cases where it was their choice to go ahead quickly, they suffer the after effects, because they are not granting time for defenders to get out of the way. . The attackers can not deliberately try to kick the ball into a close defender, trying to draw a card for the interference. While defenders can not react to stop the kick they CAN react once it is kicked thus back in play, and if the ball is intercepted, play continues with no card or stoppage.

Now IF the attackers actually request ten yards, they have introduced the referee into the equation who will then -CLEARLY- indicate this free kick is -CEREMONIAL- in nature and allow a wall set up. Timing is a key component. If one player is looking to restart quickly and another team mate is asking for ten yards that is not guaranteed ceremonial with defenders standing about complaining if the player gets the ball into play before the referee has time to do anything. What you need to grasp , THIS IS IMPORTANT, what players and coaches are yelling is NOT a factor ONLY when the referee has officially designated his authority is it NOW ceremonial. I personally double toot the whistle indicating I am indeed now officially involved in the outcome. Enhanced by eye contact, pointing at whistle and verbally announcing with a clear understanding that only on my whistle signal, once everyone is in position, are we going to restart with all defenders 10 yards away. . If you break this pact and try to close down the kick by creeping in or moving within the ten yards you have not respected the distance and could be cautioned

What most defenders fail to grasp is they have no options!!!
They are to retreat to a minimum of 10 yards in ALL directions.
Trying to tie a shoe while sitting by the ball or claiming your ankle was twisted and you need more time or being 6, 8, 10 yards away, then jogging into the restart position to go ten yards past it and defend is NOT a good decision as by choice you are trying to delay the restart . Falsely claiming you are respecting the distance yet you traveled 20 yards to get the ten, just not goal side in your direction that you were wanting to defend.

Nor is standing there waiting a few yards away to see what they want to do.

Your very presence affects that restart which is WHY you are to withdraw immediately.

Your team cheated to stop the attack in creating the foul now you again cheat to delay and find time to get back and defend!

If the attacking team decided to go ahead and try to quickly restart with you there close by the referee will be looking at your actions, and if, in his opinion, they prevent the restart or you move to block it before the ball is in play it is likely a caution is headed your way for delaying the restart, as you had no time to respect the distance, even if they now request ten yards because it was YOUR efforts that created the situation.

In a FIFA match long ago right here in my home province of Alberta I watched a referee literally lose her mind, getting into screaming matches with players at the taking of free kicks, not a single caution, when it seemed half the match was in constant argument for not getting out of the way but kicking the ball away. The game degenerated into a ugly scrum of dissent and VC. Touchlines and tech areas were in full revolt. Disrespect rampant so much the crowd was just as peeved! I could not believe what I witnessed it was so shocking.

I have to believe the authorities in the post game review assessments had to have a talk with the rest of those tournament referees . Next match the FIRST player who thought it was a good idea to push that same agenda. Boom yellow card & the only card needed to warn the players what they witnessed last match was NOT a chance in hell happening here! Every free kick, man did that space around the restart clear out fast! LOL
That is what I mean when discussing setting the standard or bar for tolerance and what is acceptable on free kicks.
If you let the players dictate a standard of acceptable behaviour & you apply your tolerance to both teams, lax on one, you are lax on the other, it will bite you. Firm & Fair not Frantic & Frenzied! .
Cheers and Merry Christmas



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