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Question Number: 26814

Law 13 - Free Kicks 9/23/2012

RE: Level 8 Adult

Michael Dotlich of Brownsburg, IN United States asks...

A player takes a quick free kick knowing the defender is walking away within 10 yards with their back turned, the kicked ball bounces backwards (wrong direction) and the kick is not violent conduct. Should play continue as the kicking team accepted the fact the defender was within 10 yards or should the free kick be re-taken? In my example, the referee warned the defending player as they were interfering with the kick and the kick was re-taken.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Michael
When the kicking team take a quick free kick with the ball being intercepted the team has to accept the outcome and play continues.
Now there will be situations when the movement of the intercepting player is towards the ball in which case that is not allowed and the player can be cautioned. The free kick is retaken.
In this situation the defenders movement even if he had his back to the ball can still be interpreted by the referee as a deliberate act of preventing the kick and the free kick is retaken. An example would be the 'late arrival' of an opponent who is moving back towards his goal directly in front of the ball. That player's contact with the ball would be patently unfair even if 'accidental' which may be the reason for a warning only rather than a caution.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

Ordinarily, the referee should allow play to continue. The attacking team is entitled to a quick free kick. But, the referee always has the power to hold up a kick if a defender is less than ten yards away.

The referee decided to use this event as an opportunity to make a point that defenders are expected to withdraw ten yards. Acting proactively in an early incident can often avoid big problems later in the match. The referee's action is holding up play (even though this was communicated after the ball was kicked) and issuing a warning is entirely consistent with law 13.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

If the defender is walking away, in most circumstances, this is not interfering with the kick. If the defender had done anything to interfere, it should be called, although in the circumstances you listed, it sure doesn't sound that way. Generally in these circumstances, the offense just screwed up, and it is their tough luck.

However, one has to assume the referee was right there and made a determination that some interference had occurred.

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