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Question Number: 30638

Law 13 - Free Kicks 7/27/2016

anon of Altadena, ca us asks...

This question is a follow up to question 30631

Question 30631 involves a defender at a free kick close to the ball and the attacking player elects to kick anyway. Law 13 provides ' if a player takes a free kick quickly and an opponent who is less than 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball intercepts it, the referee allows play to continue.' While I think Ref McHugh generally provides excellent advice, I think he misses here (absent facts not contained in the question). As the question was posed, the actions fit squarely within what Law 13 describes as when play should be permitted to continue -- the attacking player made his (poor) choice to take the kick with the defender right there and lives with the consequence (unless, of course, the referee decided to stop the kick because of the defender's location before the kick was taken. I would be interested in whehte Ref McHugh was envisioning more than what was posed when he indicated that the restart of retake of the kick was the easy part of the question, as well as how other panelists would view his.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Thanks for your observation. Rarely are there genuine interceptions at free kicks. The defender as described here stood 2 yards from the ball after fouling his opponent. That suggested to me that the player that fouled simply got up and stood in front of the ball with the intention of interfering with the restart. While I take the point about the interception dimension rarely if ever is that a factor so close to the ball and rarely would the kicking player make such a poor choice with an opponent that close. The options of the kick direction have been closed down considerably with the player that close. I was thinking more about the deliberate kick of the ball at the opponent and any possible misconduct by the attacker rather than an interception option.
I would also say that were the referee to allow play to continue in such a situation he would be berated by the kicking team for allowing the defending team to interfere with the kick particularly by the player that committed the foul who is stood only two yards from the ball. I can assure you that it will not ever look like an interception hence that possibility did not present as an option to me in the question. So for me the best decision in such circumstances is the retake. I left the option of further sanction open to the referee based on what he observes.
Here is a video that was shared with us recently
Note that Blue makes no effort to retreat and that it could not be seen as an interception.
Also have a look at this video
I believe it portrays what was suggested in the question and it makes the added point of the referee intervening before the kick. Many times though the timing just does not allow that to happen.
Game control suggests a retake as the best decision in such circumstances.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

In every instant where ten yards are not respected or delays of the restart occur the referee is called upon to decide if he or she must intervene or allow play to continue as to whether it is in the BEST interests of the match. You are correct in outlining that the LOTG DO put SOME onus on the attacker's decision to restart if an opponent is nearby.. Although I have even carded attackers who deliberately kicked the ball at an opponent less than 2 yards away as that opponent had just picked them selves up. The LOTG place even a GREATER onus on the opponent to NOT interfere by demanding they withdraw to a MINIMUM of ten yards from the spot of the foul and do nothing to delay the restart. A referee who fails to act against opponents seeking to interfere can create tensions but still should be able to observe which player is at fault.
You are also correct in pointing out Ref McHugh always gives sage advise .
thanks Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

According to the LOTG, if the attacking teams wants the free kick, then we allow them. If the defender rushes the ball or sticks a leg to intercept ball, the kick is retaken and defender is cautioned. Otherwise if it's just a deflection and no effort to disrupt kick by defender, it's play on.

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