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Question Number: 26384

Law 17 - Corner Kick 5/24/2012

RE: Rec Under 17

Larry of Newburgh, New York United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 25661

As seen on TV, defending players are now starting to wrap their arms around attacking players as they both stand in front of the goal, but before the corner kick is taken. What is the appropriate action from the Ref, and when?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Larry
The first thing the referee should do is to stop the restart and speak to the players. Tell them in no uncertain terms that if a foul is seen it will be called and then follow it through.
This is the advice given by UEFA to its elite referees
'' Holding in the penalty area
While holding outside the penalty area is being punished quite consistently, especially in cases where a promising attack is stopped, illegal use of hands/arms inside the penalty area has become increasingly apparent and is not being dealt with appropriately. This is particularly true prior to the taking of corner kicks and attacking free kicks near to goal.
Referees must:
# apply the instructions given in previous courses more stringently. They should be pro-active prior to the taking of corner kicks / attacking free kicks near goal and should be clearly seen to be taking preventative action.
# deal very firmly with any further illegal use of the arms / hands. If this happens before the ball is in play, disciplinary sanctions should be administered.
However, in clear cases of holding / pushing after the ball is in play referees are expected to award a penalty kick (for an offence by a defender) or a free kick (for an offence by an attacker) in addition to possible further disciplinary sanctions.''

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Use of the arms is one of those things that seems to be increasingly accepted the higher the level is. This means it's increasingly a judgement call for the referee of whether that amount of handling is crossing the line or not.

Some referees will advise letting it go until the kick is taken, then if they're still holding blow the whistle for the foul (assuming it's the attacker doing the holding), as that should show the players. However, this could lead to a highly controversial decision which could be problematic. I believe that prevention is the best form of cure.

Sometimes a general 'Hands down!' will suffice to remind the players that you're nearby. Otherwise, if it looks like it's building a little, then give a couple of short blasts of the whistle with a palm up in a 'stop' fashion to prevent the kicker taking the corner. Then, get the players to meet you in a neutral area away from where they both were, and tell them to cut it out, and don't keep taking things further. Players will generally argue it was the other guy who started it, but I like to make it clear that I'm not pointing fingers, but it needs to stop.

If you do this, and the players continue when the kick is taken, then it also makes the free kick a lot easier to sell.

With youth players in particular I would normally take a fairly firm hand with this. Naturally, if it continues when the ball is in play the referee needs to determine if the player has been adversely and noticeably affected. If so, then it's a foul.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Hi Larry. How are things in Newburgh were my Dad is from? I hope Pete's is still there. Best hot dogs and sausage & pepper sandwiches anywhere!!

The referee has to nip this behavior in the bud especially at the youth level. He needs to talk loudly to the players before the kick. If the actions are that blatant, it may be a good idea to blow the whistle and stop the corner from being taken to address the situation. But he must say something and must followup by awarding a free kick if the behavior doesn't stop after the corner has been taken

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