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Question Number: 24773

Law 13 - Free Kicks 4/4/2011

RE: competitive Under 15

Alan Lands of Linwood, NJ USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 14420

To Debbie Hoelscher

In a prior response that you gave regarding Law 13, Maintaining the required distance when defending a free kick, you said,

'What these official interpretations by USSF on the LOTG are saying is: 1) The kicking team has the right to take their free kick as quickly as possible and should not be further offended by interference, etc. from their opponents; 2) That the kicking team may request help from the referee. However, just because the kicking team may request this help does not in any way imply that the defending team is allowed to wait until it is asked to move before giving the REQUIRED MINIMUM distance;3) That the referee has discretion whether or not to enforce the required distance; 4) That failing to respect the required distance is a cautionable offense. No warning is necessary and can be given to any defending player who has not retreated the minimum required distance.

If the defense doesn't maintain the required distance and its not a quick kick but, since the attacking team did not ask for 10 yards, it's also not a ceremonial restart (no whistle). The attacking team simply takes time setting up their play and then kicks the ball into the wall that is set up at less than 10 yards. Can the referee award a re-kick and can the referee also issue a caution even if the attacking team never asked for 10 yards. (this is not a case where the wall moves toward the ball at the last minute. In this question the wall stays stationary but is set up less than 10 yards)

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

If a team elects to take a kick with opponents within 10 yards of the site, they cannot complain about the results of that kick. If they kick it right into the stationary but too-close wall, that's their bad choice.

Referees will sometimes be proactive about enforcing the 10-yard distance, especially if a player comes from a distance to stand right in front of the ball. That enforcement should include a caution. At the younger ages, where this is a behavior taught by the coaches, one warning before cautioning is appropriate. But far too often the referee does nothing except make the kick ceremonial.

Granted, there are soccer cultures that expect every attacking free kick to be ceremonial, and the defenders ensure that by moving close to the ball without sanctions. It will take a lot of retraining before that behavior can be stomped out.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The attacking team does not have to ask for ten yards. (Repeat three times).

USSF published an excellent paper and video on Managing the Free Kick. The two principles are:

A. The attacking team has two rights on a free kick. The right to a quick free kick AND the right to at least ten yards.

The referee has many tools to deal with encroachment by the defense, not just a card or a wall. There are often times, particularly early in the match, where the referee can set the tone by voice and action that standing 1 - 2 - 5- or 7 yards away is unacceptable. If addressed early, the players will respond.

Thereafter, the referee should observe what the attacking team wants. An 'automatic' enforcement rarely is what they want in midfield. In the attacking third, teams have plays that are based both on a quick free kick and on a wall. The defense committed a foul; they should not be helped by the referee to take away the attacking team's options.

B. The defense has only one right on a free kick. The right not to be misled by something the referee says or does. 'Wait for the whistle' should be clear and unambiguous.

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

Good comments noted above. To add, for the referee to take action there must be an active effort on the part of the defense to intercept the ball. More specifically, if the defender is less than 10 and the ball is kicked directly into him/her then no call. However, if the defender sticks out their foot or moves to intercept the ball and/or closes the distance to affect the taking of the kick THEN the referee should take action. All the best,

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