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Question Number: 26682

Law 9 - The Ball in and out of Play 8/25/2012

RE: Competitive College

Stephen Jacobs of Manchester, Cheshire UK asks...

A direct free kick is given to the attacking team just outside of the penalty area. The referee tells all players that the game will restart on the whistle, as he wanted to pace the distance of the encroaching wall. When all set, he blows the whistle. One of the two attacking players set up on the ball picks up the ball without asking the referee's permission. Is this handball?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Stephen
Of course not. The ball is not in play until the ball is kicked and moves. The whistle is just a signal that it can be kicked.
The referee might consider other matters such as delaying the restart of play, trying to take the free kick from a more advantageous position etc
However those don't change the restart as the ball is not in play.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

A foul can only occur when the ball is in play.

As the ball had not been kicked and moved, play had not been restarted, so no foul can occur.

There may be, as Ref McHugh states, a case for delaying the restart, but generally I wouldn't stress too much about this. Perhaps a loud 'let's go!' will be sufficient.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

The referee's whistle does not put the ball in play and a foul (such as deliberately handling the ball) can only happen when the ball is in play. Depending on why the player picked up the ball and what he does next the referee may ignore the action, verbally admonish the player to start play, or caution for delaying the restart of play

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