Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 31324

Law 13 - Free Kicks 3/8/2017

Jon of New York, New York United States of America asks...

According to Law 13, shouldn't any player who deliberately runs up and plants themselves in front of a free kick (clearly less that 10 yards) be shown a caution for Delaying the Restart of Play?

I am constantly telling players 'You know what 10 yards looks like and that is not it.'

Players are constantly telling me 'I'm allowed to do this. THEY (the kicking team) have to ask for 10 yards first'.

My intuition and my understanding of Law 13 tells me that this is not true at all and that a vast majority of players believe a myth about the Laws of the Game.

Wouldn't it be prudent for myself and other officials to start enforcing this more strictly? Naturally, the best way to to this would be by giving stern warnings first and then following it up with Yellow Cards to players who deliberately place themselves in a position that is clearly fewer than 10 yards from the ball.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jon
What you describe is well known to all referees throughout the world. As the law has not been uniformly enforced over the years players now believe that they are entitled to do this. That is a myth which unfortunately referees have been complicit in perpetuating by not dealing with this properly.
Now many times teams do not really want to take a quick free kick in these instances. At the Pro level players rarely cause any difficulty for the referee as the team usually have other options available or they just do not take the kick
The best way to deal with this is to deal sternly with the first such action by a player. Announce to the player loudly that this will not be tolerated and then follow up with a caution when it stops the next free kick. Alternatively if the action DOES stop a genuine QFK then straight to a caution is appropriate. Referees also have to be mindful of the attempt by a player to get an opponent cautioned when the QFK is blatantly kicked at an opponent with no intention other than just that. That needs to be dealt with by speaking with both players involved in the incident.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jon,
You are right in saying that there is no requirement for the attacking team to ask for ten yards. The players of the team that has committed the offence should withdraw the required distance without being asked. If they do not do so within a reasonable time frame or even go towards the ball to prevent the kick being taken, that is indeed a cautionable offence though as you say, you might choose to start by warning them unless the offence is particularly egregious.

From what I see, this happens way too often and is too seldom punished. Interestingly enough, in the MLS this season, referees have been advised to crack down on this kind of behaviour. It will be fascinating to see if they actually follow through on this - I certainly hope so.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Jon,
you are spot on mate! The only thing the defending team has right too is non-interference from the referee if he allows a free kick to proceed. The attacking team has every right to take a free kick quickly PROVIDED the referee has NO reason to intervene (as in showing a card for example) The attacking team are under ZERO obligation to request ten yards! If they choose to do so it is either they want time to do a set play OR more than likely the referee is being lax at removing those who are in fact delaying the restart by not respecting the ten yards. It became a problem because of the LACK of enforcement created the myth and the continued ceremonial expectations at he televised levels assisted with the fantasy. Sigh! We shall see if the hammer comes down in the new MLS season I have my doubts!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 31324
Read other Q & A regarding Law 13 - Free Kicks

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.