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Question Number: 31755

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/3/2017

RE: Amateur Adult

Luke of Leeds, West Yorkshire England asks...

Is an indirect free-kick awarded in the area for impeding or obstructing an opponent?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Luke
The former foul of Obstruction was removed from the Laws of the Game in 1997 and replaced with impeding. Prior to 97 obstruction involving contact was a common IDFK foul
Since 97 Impeding the progress of an opponent means moving into the opponents path to obstruct, block, slow down or force a change of direction when the ball is not within playing distance of either player. It does not involve ANY contact and if there is contact it get elevated to a penal foul such as holding, charging, jumping at, pushing etc which have a direct free kick or penalty kick restart.
So the IDFK of impeding is a very rare offence nowadays as the impeding mostly if not every time ends up with contact between the players. If there is no contact a foul is rarely called.
So if impeding is called it is an IDFK restart. I cannot recall one impeding foul in recent times and the IDFK restart inside the penalty area is extremely rare probably now reserved for playing in a damergous manner such as a high boot.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Luke,
the INDFK for impeding is the newer buzz word for obstruction occurs from the point of the infraction UNLESS INSIDE the 6 yard goal area then it is moved back to the 6 yard line parallel to the goal line! The LOTG added the portion IF there is ANY CONTACT it upgrades to a DFK thus PK if inside the PA . The fact it was rarely called given most blocking incidents DO involve contact thus charging pushing holding etc.. I have seen very CLEAR examples of obstruction go uncalled. In a Canada verses an El Salvador prelim WC match. The Salvadorian latterly moved almost 100 feet in semi circle preventing the Canadian player to pursue a loose ball in what was TEXT BOOK obstruction/ Impeding. THERE was NO contact , he simply shadowed the Canadian run path with arms wide and butt facing him forcing him go around and wider to where the Canadian player in the attempt NOT to run him over came to a FULL stop and looked at the referee in disbelief. The referee made no call. I was a coach at the time in attendance with my u-15 team and all 18 players stood up and yelled at the referee SERIOUSLY! How could that NOT be FOUL???? I was in complete agreement it was a 100% INDFK for impeding but it highlighted how what was taught in school was NOT being done on the real pitch! IN order to be on the team you HAD to take & pass the certified referee course!

It seemed as if they wanted players to simply smash through the other!

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

You ask about a restart 'in the area' but do not define what area you are speaking of. Nor whether it is an attacker or a defender who commits the offense.

Inside either penalty area, but outside the goal area, the restart is indeed an indirect free kick from the site of the infraction. All opponents of the kicking team must be at least 10 yards from the ball. If a defender committed the offense - that is, the kick is going inbound - and the location is less than 10 yards from the goal, defenders can stand on the goal line between the goal posts.

In the case of an offense inside the goal area, things change again:
-- For an outbound kick, the kicking team can place the ball anywhere in the goal area to take the kick. All defenders must retreat outside the penalty area, and the ball is not in play until it exits the penalty area. 'Just like a goal kick' - except of course that it is indirect.
-- For an inbound kick, the ball is placed on the 6 yard line nearest to where the offense took place. Most likely this means the defenders will not have room to retreat 10 yards, so again they are allowed to stand on the goal line between the goal posts.

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