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Question Number: 31263

Law 13 - Free Kicks 2/15/2017

RE: Competitive College

Bryan C. of Fremont, CA USA asks...

I have a question on Law 13, regarding quick free kicks. In the LOTG, it says 'but if a player takes a free kick quickly and an opponent who is less than 10 yds from the ball intercepts it, the referee allows play to continue. However, an opponent who deliberately prevents a free kick being taken quickly must be cautioned for delaying the restart.' My question is how do you tell the difference between the two? If an opponent gets in the way of a free kick, I feel it could be viewed as either the player intercepting the ball or preventing the free kick from happening.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Bryan
The best way to judge this is whether the intercepting player moves towards the ball rather than the other way around. The infringing one will always have the opponent by their action moving in a way that interferes with the kick by coming towards it. The genuine interception will look like that and typically it is a mistake by the kicker who does not see the opponent or misjudged his position. For example on a shot at goal on a QFK the ball may cannon off a defender some six/ seven yards away who has done nothing or very little other than say playing in ball at his location. In that situation it is play on. Now compare that with the defender who sees the possible shot at the QFK and he moves forward to within the same distance to block the ball down. Same outcome yet arrived in two very different ways. The latter is a caution and a retake.
Have a look at this video which is helpful

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Byran,
what is considered as reasonably behaviour relate to distance and time when considering whether an opponent is lollygagging to disrupt or making an effort to respect the ten yards.
While the offended team is permitted the right to go quickly., it is unfair to expect an opponent to not be within the ten yards if we do not give then sufficient time to withdraw. That being said plenty of opponents know EXACTLY what they are doing and try to hide their antics with plausible deniability that they were in the process of withdrawing. They can see the possible options and will causally or blatantly move into positions to disrupt the planed free kick by altering their route .

Often under the pretext of withdrawing a defender who is say 4 or 5 yards away in behind the free kick will move towards the spot first in order to move past it claiming they are withdrawing the required ten yards when in fact they are moving into the passing lanes and preventing the quick free kick. They have in fact altered their location by 16 yards instead of moving away the other 4 yards.

Or a defender who is watching, as he SLOWLY retreats sees the planned or projected path of the free kick and alters their withdrawal path. Key point here is the defender moving away , stopped or sticks out a leg only AFTER the free kick occurs is entitled to do so, because once the kick occurs the play is live and the defender who just happened to be caught out in no mans 10 yard land NO longer has to move away and can react to the free kick . This is MUCH different then if the defender, who is closer than the 10 yards, lunges towards the projected path or moves closer BEFORE the ball is kicked.

I personal take a dim view of defenders who withdraw to about 4 or 6 yards trying to slow the kicking process with the claim they are at 10, sigh, we can get a bit iffy at 8 or 9 and say hey guys back to here if we do intervene But those that stay close and stop. I am very observant as to the effect it has on the kicker who might be looking to take the kick. I will either caution for delaying the restart or for failure to respect the ten yards depending on the circumstances.

Of course once we are ASKED to intervene by the KICKING team then we are ceremonial with whistle restart which is often the very result the defending team had hoped to create to give them time to redeploy. The kicking team certainly has the right to go that route but if it is ONLY because we are failing to enforce the ten yards then that my friend is upon us a referees.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Bryan,
My colleagues have already made some good points and offered some good advice especially the issue of the player's movement towards the ball. I would say another aspect to consider is the timing. If the free kick is taken so quickly that the opponent didn't even have time to move back the full ten yards then an interception is likely to be more allowable than if the player has deliberately lingered closer than the minimum distance even though there had been time to have moved back.

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