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Question Number: 31037

Law 13 - Free Kicks 11/19/2016

RE: Travel Under 17

Loukos scheffer of Ashburn, Virginia [VA] United States asks...

Ok, here is an interesting one. So I was playing today in a tournament where in my opinion the refs were not the best, and made weird calls.

First up, this is one of the most prominent calls that happened today, and it happened multiple times. A free kick was given and i told the wall where to be, but the wall was not marked off by the referee. The referee then allowed the free kick to be taken, but as soon as it was taken, the referee blew play dead and gave one player on our team a yellow card for failure to respect the minimum distance. My team then thought that someone had stepped forward, and asked for him to mark off the distance. The other team then took another kick and we cleared. Notes: This was on a american football field, with ten yards marked. However this specific time the kick was taken from an angle so that would not really make sense.

About 5 minutes later, another kick takes place right outside of the box (this is pretty much straight away, and not from an angle). The same situation repeats, the wall sets up referee says nothing, the wall then blocks the kick. The referee then again blows play dead and gives one of our players a yellow card. He said he had that player as the one who infringed, except all players were in the same position. We then convince him to change it to another player as the player he carded was our only center back, and he changed it to another player. The other team then takes the kick again and score the nail in the coffin.

In general this whole situation was sort of weird. I know the law says that players should stay a minimum of 10 yards, except the application of this rule was strange. The players on our team made no effort to sneak forward. The set themselves up the player did not ask for 10, the ref did not give 10, he just let the ball hit them and then gave a yellow. While this may be allowed, it certainly does not seem like a good application of the laws of the game.

Earlier in the day a AR also tried to call me for stepping outside of the box on a punt. In my opinion I didn't but that is not what I have come here to ask.
I have heard that if anything you should really warn a keeper before calling it as it is likely unintentional and has very little effect on the outcome of the game, whereas calling a free kick could have a huge impact upon the game.

Lastly, in the earlier game of the day, the referee called back an attack from which we gained a cross, for a injury. I believe the law says you should only call play back for major injuries, the player down was for the defending team, and he was holding his leg. The player did not need trainer assistance, but his coach did come and take a look at him. Should the play have been stopped?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Loukos,
the best way to explain it is for you to imagine that each referee is a match condition, much like the weather or the pitch surface, rain or sun, windy and cold or a sweat bath on a hard fast surface or slogging through the mud on a soft chewed up pitch, you simply adapt and play. I often reiterate that each referee in his match, his decisions, creates his reputation. We develop our experiences gleaning understanding of the both the spirit and application of the LOTG, this helps us to utilize management techniques that FIT the game requirements. The idea of respecting the distance and the duties of the opposition to allow the restart are pretty clear, you have no rights except to withdraw to ten yards. Unless the referee has GOOD reason to turn the free kick into a ceremonial free kick whereby he controls the restart, the aggrieved team has the right to take the free kick when THEY wish, they do NOT require asking for ten yards although they can choose to do so! Whether our referee has a good command presence to instill confidence or utilizes poor mechanics that create uncertainty as he tries to make his points known you still need to figure out what causes these cards to be shown? What part of the LOTG does he feel so inclined as to think they are required to instill this spirit of respecting the distance? It is very unorthodox to allow circumstances to develop in the way you describe especially the referee changing his mind after awarding the card then switching it on your say so. Often if there are multiple players who fail to respect the distance a referee will single one player out. Usually one not already on a card but if he has chosen this method, if we can call it that, then your team better adapt or it likely you could play short if you start getting unnecessary cautions. A referee is under no obligation to pace off ten yards although if he DOES intervene to make it a ceremonial free kick he might do so. I have no idea if you had players breaking too quickly or were set up too close? I remind you on your withdrawals and wall set up ten yards is the MINIMUM distance. A lot of players try to pretend that 6 or 8 yards is ten yards. Now if it is apparent the referee wants you to back off further I suggest your team do so.

Yes you are correct, we usually consider warnings and the doubtful or trifling nature of possibly stepping slightly out or tossing the ball just ahead of stepping out is not something we strive to find fault with. However, if you do the crime you might have to do the time and it is always a poor idea to argue with the officials.

Each referee has the discretion to stop play IF in HIS opinion the player is seriously injured or allow play to continue if he thinks the player is NOT seriously injured. We often stop play at the youth level for less than critical incidents as a precautionary measure but again I point out.

EACH referee is a match condition and HOW they choose to apply the LOTG and the reasoning is an individual choice. While we do strive universally to apply the LOTG in an equitable and fair manner it is hopeful that each neutral referee is somewhat competent within the framework of his own matches so the players can at least rely on some level of consistency. What one referee might choose to do in a given situation no one can say with absolute certainty another would do exactly the same. We are not eager to discredit other colleagues on things we do not see or comment on actions of events unknown although we do try to remember the concepts of fair play and the desire to give informed answers to questions asked. Perception and biases often shade the truth even if the information given is believed to be 100% accurate.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Lets deal with the easy ones first. A referee or assistant does not have to warn any player about their actions. So if a goalkeeper carries the ball outside the penalty area then it is a direct free kick for handling. On a doubtful one the official may warn the goalkeeper about respecting the line although again it is not up to the referee to do so just the player to ensure that he does not infringe the Laws. Yes by warning the referee may head off any future problems which can be helpful in a game context. Sometimes the opportunity may just not arise to do so.
One the injury one it is a matter for the referee to decide in HIS opinion if the game needs to be stopped or not. If a player is down injured the referee can allow play to continue if HE is of the opinion that it is only a minor injury. I can also assure you that the opposing team would be equally annoyed if the referee did not stop play on a player down injured. At Underage level the referee may take fewer risks on injuries than he would do so at openage.
I would like you to look at this video
Was the goalkeeper seriously injured? Should play have been stopped. Paolo DiCanio the attacker thought so. It is interesting that had the referee stopped play he may have been questioned by some for doing so. DICanio received a FIFA Fair Play award for his actions.
Now on the free kick one the Laws of the Game require that opponents remain 10 yards from the ball until the ball is kicked. Any forward motion towards the ball is deemed to be encroachment so the referee is entitled to have the kick retaken and the player cautioned for failing to respect the required distance. Obviously the referee was of the opinion that the player/s came forward closer than 10 yards. I was not there so I cannot opine if it was forward motion or not. BTW there is no need for the referee to pace 10 yards on a free kick and if the wall was set at 10 yards then so be it. It just means that as the referee did not intervene that the kick was not on the whistle. I suspect that the referee on the 2nd one was unsure who made contact on the ball as that should be the player that is cautioned. A player already on a caution on encroachment should certainly not be coming to the attention of the referee in a similar manner just some 5 minutes later.
On a final note it is important to state that like players not all referees are the same nor do they have the same abilities. Clearly some have more ability than others, some are fitter, some are more knowledgeable on the Laws than others. As Referee Dawson says each referee is a match condition, much like the weather or the pitch surface or whatever. I played the game at a high level, lost important games, finals, won plenty yet I can say that we never lost because of the referee. We lost because we played poorly scoring fewer goals than the opposition. Yeah we groaned about calls during the game, about an offside, a penalty award, a free kick etc yet when it came down to it we won / lost the game because of what we did / didnt do not the referees. I was berated recently by a team that drew its game because of a goal scored from a last minute corner that I awarded. No word of three open goal chances that the team missed earlier in the game or failing to defend the corner with good marking, defending. As good coaches always say control the controllable not what is uncontrollable. Common uncontrollables are the crowd, the venue, the opposition, the referee, the pitch surface and so on. Mixed in with that are controllables such as tactics, skills, abilities, fitness, movement on and off the ball, giving away fouls in dangerous locations etc. Get the controllables right and the referee is unnoticeable.

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