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Question Number: 22505

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/13/2009

RE: select Adult

ryan of worcester, ma usa asks...

A player is awaiting to take a free kick from the half. While the play is dead (free kick not taken yet). A player is pushed in the penalty box as they scramble for position. Should a penalty kick be awarded, or yellow card given to person who pushed other player, and then resume with the original free kick that had not been taken yet at time of the foul?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ryan
A foul cannot be committed when the ball is not in play. However misconduct can be committed when the ball is out of play or not yet in play.
In this case if the push warrants a caution then the referee should not allow the free kick to be taken , caution the player (if merited or if not speak to him/her) and then restart with the free kick at the half way line.
If the kick is taken and the ball is in the air then the referee can award a penalty or free kick. I might add that scrambling for position in the penalty area on corners, free kicks etc has become a problem in the game with both sides engaged in pushing, shoving, jostling etc. It can be difficult to decide who is at fault or who has committed the offence first and many refs tend to ignore this unless it is blatant or has a direct bearing on play such as pull back of a player about to head the ball or a blatant push on the goalkeeper just as he is about to save the ball.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Ryan, if play is stopped and a free kick is going to occur there can be no foul ONLY additional misconduct. The restart for WHY play was stopped MUST occur (that is whatever caused the free kick originally). The referee can delay that restart to warn, verbal rip a strip, caution show a yellow card or send off show a red card depending on the severity of the misconduct then resume play with the original free kick! A push during the scrum of (catch me if you can) in the PA as they jockey for position is likely to get a verbal intervention to knock it off as there is always some thuggery going on. To caution certainly could be USB if they were told to knock it off but did not or enough force was used to consider the player's safety threatened as reckless. For a send off the push would have to be two handed in the back, head snap etc? as a reason to garner a red card as VC violet conduct and excessive.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

As Refs Dawson and McHugh note, a penalty kick can only be called if the ball is in play when the bad stuff happens. It still is punishable as misconduct, but the restart doesn't change.

There are lots of bodies in the goal mouth during a corner kick, and shoves and pushes that can lead to mass confrontation. The referee can hold up the kick and be proactive when the players begin to 'dance.' It is a great place to use humor ('you know you can't do that until the third date') and letting the players know you are there and watching can help them play smarter.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Hi Ryan. Let's think about what you ask. What's the definition of a foul? Since you're from the US we'll use the definition from Advice To Referees;

A foul is an unfair or unsafe action committed (1) by a player, (2) against an opponent or the opposing
team, (3) on the field of play, (4) while the ball is in play. Deliberate handling of the ball is committed
against the opposing team, not against a particular opponent. If any of these four requirements is not
met, the action is not a foul; however, the action can still be misconduct.

#4 above tells us that no foul has been committed by the player doing the shoving as the ball was not in play. The Laws Of The Game tell us when to award a penalty kick:

Penalty Kick
A penalty kick is awarded if any of the above ten offences is committed by
a player inside his own penalty area, irrespective of the position of the ball,
provided it is in play.

The ten offenses this paragraph refers to the 10 direct free kick fouls. One of these fouls is pushing. The player in your example did indeed push an opponent but since there was, by definition, no foul, there can be no penalty kick.

However, if the referee believes the pushing was severe enough so that the player was given an unfair advantage, he may caution the player and show the yellow card. As an aside, if this player had punched the opponent, he would be sent off for violent conduct and shown the red card.

But since the ball was out of play when any of this happened, the original restart cannot be changed which in this case is a free kick although you don't tell us if it's direct or indirect

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

Manage, caution, or send-off as appropriate and restart with the free kick. No penalty to be given here as the ball is not in play. All the best,

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