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Question Number: 30832

High School 9/28/2016

RE: Rec and Competive High School

William Stamper of Yucaipa, CA USA asks...

Does the attacking team have any right to an internal space of a wall that is to be set up by the defending team? For example, Attack Player A senses where the wall will be set, and stands his ground before the wall is set up. The defending team starts to set the wall, and pushes the opponent out of the wall. The attacking team maintains they have a right to the position on the field as much as anyone else does.
I've heard both sides of the issue, as a player and a ref. I have a feeling that the attacking team does not have a right to interfere with the wall being set up, which means they can't maintain a position inside the wall if the opponent doesn't want them in there.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi William
There is no definitive answer here and it is something that has to be managed carefully by the referee taking into account the circumstances he finds in the game. Players are entitled to their space on the field of play so a player cannot interfere with that by pushing an opponent. Now in setting up a wall is the defending team going to be seriously disadvantage by setting up the wall or part thereof behind the attacker. When that happens the attacker also has no right to move back into the defenders space.
I watched a Champions League game between Leicester City and Porto during the week. This very situation happened and Vardy of Leicester was barged from behind by a Porto defender as he tried to position himself in the wall. The referee had to speak to the players.
Personally it is a limited tactic in the middle of the wall as what it is going to achieve particularly with a defender stood directly behind the player. Even if that defending player is not directly shoulder to shoulder in the wall he is still present to block any shot. The wall has not really been compromised. I can see the benefit at the edge of the wall at the anchor point but rarely in the middle. Okay it might put off a defender from jumping at the moment of the kick or coming forward yet with the vanquishing foam encroachment is less of an issue now in the Pro game.
If the attacking team wants the player close to the wall to lay off the free kick to make an angle for the kicker on the return he can do that much easier on few yards from the wall. Indeed what is needed to be achieved can be done in that location with interfering with the wall.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

As Ref McHugh said, there is no rule in high school play to cover this situation, However, since the defenders must be 10 yards from the ball and the attacking team can be anywhere on the field, the defenders are normally allowed to establish the wall without interference from an attacker. However, if either an attacker or defender is in a position, that player has a right to that position and cannot be pushed or shouldered out of the position. This should at least result in a verbal warning and possibly a caution depending on the amount of force. I do hope that you have a successful fall season.

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