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Question Number: 26779

Law 13 - Free Kicks 9/17/2012

RE: Under 15

joe of Elria, oh usa asks...

This question is a follow up to question 24301

Can a ref force players to be MORE than 10 yards back on a free kick?

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

As the players are only required to be 10 yards back from a free kick, the referee cannot force the players to be further back than that.

As a referee, though, I've noticed that people love to complain about how far 10 yards is - this tends to occur even when it's around the penalty area, where I can use the field markings to accurately and clearly demonstrate how far 10 yards back is (for instance, when a free kick is on the edge of the 'D' on the edge of the penalty area, 10 yards will then be on the penaly spot - take the players back there and I guarantee everybody will complain about how far it is!).

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

The Laws of the Game say defending players shall be 'at least' 10 yards from the ball. Since we are not allowed to carry a tape measure onto the field, the referees must estimate where 10 yards will be. And if a team has demonstrated that their walls 'creep' forward before the kick is taken, then setting the wall at approximately 11 yards is acceptable.

Players would be wise to set their wall or defense where the referee instructs them to do so. If the distances get excessive, contact the local referee assignor or association and lodge a proper complaint.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

Law 13 says the defense must be 'at least ten yards' but the referee should not set the wall further.

My experience, however, is that few people realize how far ten yards is. Many think a wall properly set at ten yards must be at least 12.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Joe
To answer your question I have never seen a referee force a player beyond 10 yards
As a referee I have over the years measured many fields of play and my 'match pace' is one yard. On a free kick that is ceremonial I step out ten paces from the placement of the ball and leave it at that. The defending team must only be 10 yards from the ball. On ones that I don't pace I use my eye 'judgement' to direct the wall back and that is pretty accurate as well. If questioned I might pace the 10 yards and I have generally found it to accurate.

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