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Question Number: 31218

Law 13 - Free Kicks 2/1/2017

RE: College

H of Manama, Bahrain asks...

When should a referee blow the whistle to play a freekick ?

Yesterday in Liverpool and Chelsea match David Luis scored from a freekick, It was obvious that the liverpool keeper Mignolet was not ready yet. Was the referee wrong to blow the whistle before the keeper is ready ?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

When a free kick becomes what is referred to as *ceremonial* the kick is taken after the referee signals for the kick to be taken. The only requirement for the referee to give that signal is that the ball is in the correct location and that the wall is back 10 yards and the referee is ready to view the play. It makes no difference if the goalkeeper is ready or not at a free kick for a signal to be given. The GK has to be ready when the referee signals for the kick to be taken not the other way round.
So the referee was perfectly entitled to signal once he was satisfied that the conditions of the kick were in place not whether a player is ready or not including the goalkeeper.
I think too many referees pander to the antics of goalkeepers who take an age to line up the defensive wall. By not signalling to get on with play when the wall is back and the kicking team is ready the referee passes control of the restart to the offending team. That should not happen. Setting up a defensive wall is not part of the game nor is it up to the GK to decide when play restarts.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Players are entitled to take a free kick quickly in most circumstances. Even around the penalty area, the attacker is allowed to take an instant free kick to take advantage of the defence being off guard. The purpose of a free kick, after all, is to restore the advantage to the attacking team.
When the attacking team have taken their time or the referee has had to intervene, the kick is ceremonial, meaning a whistle is required. The vast majority of free kicks become this because the attackers tend to take their time and prefer the referee to set the wall up.
However, even when a kick becomes ceremonial, there's no requirement for the defence to be fully prepared - again, the point of a free kick is to benefit the attack, not the defence.
Every defender from a very young age knows that they need to be ready for the kick by the time the attackers are, and that as soon as the defenders are back 10 yards and the referee is in position, the whistle is blown. Every defender on that field knows they should have been ready for that kick.
This is one of those incidents where people are blaming the referee for a mistake that every defender at any age knows not to make.

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