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Question Number: 31208

Law 13 - Free Kicks 1/28/2017

RE: Other

Andrew of London, UK asks...

What are the main reasons that players should not be compelled to immediately retire 10 yards free from a free kick awarded to the opposition - or the referee,as in rugby union, move the free kick 10 yards further forward?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Andrew
On a quick free kick the opponents who are within 10 yards do not have to retreat obviously because they do not get the chance to do so and that is the only occasion that an opponent is not required to move back at a free kick. They may still not prevent the kick from taking place though which means moving towards the ball not away from it. At all other times the player must retreat 10 yards. In the modern game this requirement has been badly abused with players now not retreating or in fact deliberately moving to a position in front of the ball the so called statue position.
The FA a number of years tried an experiment along the lines that of the rugby rule of moving the ball forward 10 yards on dissent or delaying the restart or preventing the kick. It was somewhat unsuccessful so it was not continued and it must NOT now be used. In rugby, field position is important while in football it is less so. Personally I think the problem has arisen because referees do not enforce the law strictly enough. If a player was cautioned for not retreating then a repeat would be a dismissal. The result would be that one would see a lot less of this. However there is no great appetite for this in the game and referees do their best to manage it in a way that only deals with the blatant failure to respect the distance or delaying a restart both of which are listed as cautions in their own right.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Andrew,
There is no reason in law why an opponent should not retreat ten yards as soon as a free kick is awarded. However, as Ref McHugh alludes to, if a free kick is taken quickly, before the opponent has had time to retreat far enough, they are not to be penalised for this.

I totally agree with my colleague's view that this part of the law is not sufficiently enforced and referees should be much more strict in this regard. Indeed it has now become almost standard practice for players either to make no attempt to retreat or even worse, to move closer to the ball to prevent any chance of a quick free kick. For some reason that escapes me, in most top level matches this is tolerated and no disciplinary action is taken as it should be (IMHO).

As for moving the free kick forward, this is not permitted under the current Laws. The reason this is not part of the Laws is as Ref McHugh mentions, that it was tried for several years in a number of experiments authorised by FIFA - first by the Jersey FA starting in 1998 then by the English FA starting in 1999 and was found not to have the desired effect.

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