Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 24301

Law 13 - Free Kicks 11/9/2010

RE: Under 15

Naam of Santa Barbara, CA US asks...

Does a player need to request this distance from the referee before every restart? Does the opposing team have a right to stand directly in front of the ball after a foul has been called and a restart has been signaled by the referee?

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Law 12 says,
'A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he commits any of the following seven offences:
* failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, free kick or throw-in'

Further direction is given on page 123:
'If a player decides to take a free kick quickly and an opponent who is less than 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball intercepts it, the referee must allow play to continue.
'If a player decides to take a free kick quickly and an opponent who is near the ball deliberately prevents him taking the kick, the referee must caution the player for delaying the restart of play.'

In short, no, opponents do not have the right to stand directly in front of the ball to delay the restart. If more referees would enforce the above provisions of the Laws, we would soon see this stop.

Read other questions answered by Referee Gary Voshol

View Referee Gary Voshol profile

Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

No! It is a myth that someone must ask for ten yards. The attacking team is entitled to a quick free kick AND ten yards. A defender who stands directly in front of the ball can be cautioned for failing to respect the distance.

Referees are taught to be proactive about enforcing the ten yards from the earliest moments in the match. It can be very effective for the referee to establish early that defenders must move back ten yards without any request from the kicking team. Referees, however, are also taught to give the attacking team an opportunity (if it wants) to take a quick free kick.

If the kicker asks for ten yards, the referee will always hold up the kick and enforce the distance. But, the kicker does not need to ask.

Read other questions answered by Referee Dennis Wickham

View Referee Dennis Wickham profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Unfortunately many players have been coached to stand in front of the ball to prevent a free kick from being taken. Referees need to manage this effectively and ensure that teams do not achieve this and gains a further unfair advantage against the team that has been fouled.
So the team that has committed the foul has no right to stand directly in front of the ball. If the defender prevents the taker from taking the free kick the defender is cautioned and the free kick is retaken. Now there will be times when an attacker takes a quick free kick and an opponent who is less
than 10 yds from the ball intercepts it, the referee must allow play to continue.
There will also be times as well where there are a group of players in the vicinity of the ball say in a goal scoring position. In those situations the attacking team will want to ensure that every defending player is 10 yards away and the team will request that from the referee. When that happens the referee will agree to the request and the restart will be on the whistle

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Teams practice this delaying tactic, and smarter teams practice what to do in these situations. Sometimes, they have a set play to take advantage of defenders who think they are holding things up. The knowledgeable referee is watching closely, so as not to mess it up for the kicking team.

There are many shades in between. There are referees who either don't know when to intervene and deal with the delaying tactics or lack the knowledge about what the guy in front of the ball is actually doing. There are more referees who know, but who lack the courage to do anything about it.

USSF & FIFA are both pretty fed up with the tactic. USSF issued a DVD for its referees this year 'Managing The Free Kick' which is supposed to help referees define when to intervene and when to wait and see. Let us hope it helps, although I have my doubts, darn it.

Read other questions answered by Referee Michelle Maloney

View Referee Michelle Maloney profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 24301
Read other Q & A regarding Law 13 - Free Kicks

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 24356

See Question: 26779

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.