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Question Number: 29677

Law 15 - Throw In 9/8/2015

RE: Competive Under 19

Al Sinopoli of Friendswood, Texas USA asks...

Myself and my AR discussed a U19 match where a team had a 'flip' throw-in specialist. The opposing team placed a single defender the required 2 yards away. When the player threw the ball in, the defender attempted to jump (once) to block the throw as it was released. The ball was launched in the order of 6-8 feet higher than the defender so in effect, there was no impact the entire match. As I saw it, the defended team was wasting a defender by stationing him here.

Since I did not consider this an unfair distraction at this level (just like a wall jumping) I allowed it to occur. My AR stated very objectively that this was not consistent with Advice on LOTG or the advice he received from instructors, and it was illegal and should have been cautioned.

I disagreed. The way I understand and read the US Soccer advice is that 'no motion' is legal, and only distracting/repeated motion to that effect is illegal (and cautionable). A single jump as described like a wall would do at a free kick is no cause for a misconduct when done as a play for the ball after a throw-in as long as it is beyond the required distance. Further, since 2 yards+ is the required distance, what if a defender jumps to try to play or block the ball 3 yards away, or 10 yards, or 20? What makes this different? To me, other than a pure distraction, jumping forward of the 2 yards, or the remote concern in terms of the dangers to the defender, it is hard for me to see where a vertical jump at or beyond the required distance is an issue at this (U19) level. What is you understanding of the correct way to apply the LOTG? The FIFA LOTG do not address this in particular. Thanks.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Al,
The LOTG requirement for a 2 yard distance simply provides a safety net whereby a player with long arms standing on the touchline will not deliver a ball directly into the face of an opponent as he delivers the ball into the FOP . The opponent is not restricted from jumping or moving at a 2 plus meter distance away. He CAN NOT jump closer and in ANY situation the conduct of a player for USB if he verbally gets into it or acts in a manner which disrespects the game is always a possibility. The concept of unfairly preventing the throw is WHY the 2 yard separation was enacted. If the opposing player was say to place his arms wide or wave them above his head it could likely be a DFK foul for handles the ball deliberately, so his actions are on the radar. Plus if the delivery was to hit a jumping player in the face the fault will not likely lie with the thrower! In the video my colleague provides, note the retake, no caution but he did interfere with the throw in from less than 2 yards, so a yellow card could have been shown. Although it was likely the referee thought he paid a heavy price for attempting to influence the restart. I was a concerned that the player could have a concussion given the waterlogged ball was delivered as a direct head shot. He appeared rather uncoordinated.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Al
Interesting question. Law 15 tells us that ** If an opponent unfairly distracts or impedes the thrower: # he is cautioned for unsporting behaviour**
The question arises as to whether distraction can happen outside the 2 yard exclusion zone and obviously it can.
Distraction means that an opponent may not jump about or act in a distracting manner or move to block the freedom of movement of the thrower or the direction of the throw. Merely standing in front of the thrower, however, providing this position is maintained without movement and is at least 2 yards from the location of the throw-in, is not an offense.
If say a player was some five / six yards away and he jumps up to intercept the ball that is perfectly legal. Jumping up and down in front of the thrower at two yards is not. The player can be told that he can stand there yet he must not move.
Now to the grey area? The thrower knew after the first throw what was going to happen. Is then the action of the defender of jumping up a distraction particularly when he is not going to intercept the ball? I believe that it is
Now we have all seen the video of the defender getting the ball in the face from such a throw in.
By jumping up the player increases the risk significantly of an injury to the head should the flip this go wrong. With the vagaries of the flip throw it might be best to try to prevent that happening.

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