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Question Number: 31802

Law 13 - Free Kicks 9/20/2017

Petr of Prague, Czech Republic Czech Republic asks...

my questions are about quick free kick. Player passes to his teammate (he is f.e. 5 yards away). Defender is obviously less than 10 yards away from the spot of the kick.

Three specific questions:

1) Can this defender actively intercept this pass? I mean active movement (intention).

2) Can defender go close to the player's teammate to prevent a pass?

3) Can defender challenge player's teammate immediately after taking a pass?

One general question:

What is allowed to this defender when he is less than 10 yards away from the spot of the kick?


Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Petr,

1) Can this defender actively intercept this pass? I mean active movement (intention).

Only once the ball is in play! OR he was already 10 yds. away

2) Can defender go close to the player's teammate to prevent a pass?

If he is withdrawing ten yards yes but alters his direction to prevent the free kick and in doing so is closer than 10 yds. then no

3) Can defender challenge player's teammate immediately after taking a pass?

Yes as long as he was not moving to intercept prior to the ball being put in play
if he WAS closer than the ten yards

The MOMENT the ball is PUT into play ( kicked and moved) the opponent CAN react no matter he is closer than ten yards.

WHAT he CAN NOT do is react BEFORE and step into or move towards to intercept or prevent or challenge or seek to cover an open opponent direct access or line if he is actually closer then ten yards .

The LOTG state 100% the defenders MUST withdraw a MINIMUM ten yards. If they are doing so and the attacker's CHOOSE to go quickly before there is TIME to with draw the defenders can be released from their restriction the moment the ball is kicked and moved BUT NOT before!
If they PREVENT the free kick retake possibly caution. If the react and intercept play on!

The tough one is the defender upon seeing the attacker wanting to go STOPS his withdrawal and hovers close by or alters his withdrawal into the path of the intended kick. The referee CAN choose to intercede if he recognizes what the defender is doing before the kick occurs and caution for failing to withdraw but should only react to WHAT the defender DID BEFORE the kick occurs!
One thing you see a lot of, when defenders ahead of the restart position and are far enough away to not be an issue will track back and initially move closer to the ball claiming they were going back ten more yards towards their own goal line


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
On a quick free kick the kicking team decide that it is in its interest to get on with play quickly. The team accepts the position of the defending team at the moment of the kick.
Now there can be a fine line between intercepting the kick which is allowed and anticipating the kick by moving towards the ball before the kick is taken which is not allowed.
That principle answers your questions in that the opponents may intercept provided they do not prevent the kick or move towards the ball before the kick.
Here is a USSF video which is helpful
The caution is not mandatory and there can be times when it is not warranted. Each situation will be different. I have gone with retakes only on some questionable interference as it was closer to an interception. I was in doubt so I just went with a retake. Some times a kicker might aimlessly kick a ball at an opponent to draw a caution. Again I evaluate the need for a caution and many times it is a word.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

The rule of thumb I use is that if the defender starts moving to intercept/challenge/block before the kick, then it's an offence. If he doesn't start to move until after the kick, then it's fine. The attacking team accept his position but that doesn't mean they accept him still actively seeking to improve his position.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Petr,
I think that perhaps you're over-complicating things by introducing unnecessary elements. Having a team mate nearby and what the defender does after the kick is taken, have no particular bearing on the basic issues here.

If you analyse the answers by my colleagues I think you'll find they're all saying more or less the same thing - it only matters what the defender does before the kick, not afterwards.

Take the nearby team mate and the actions of the defender after the kick out of the equation (since they are essentially, irrelevant) and the question becomes a fair bit simpler.

OK, it doesn't become totally straightforward - you still need to consider the 'normal' aspects of encroachment, prevention, interception, quick free kick with the defender less than 10 yards away etc. These things carry their own complications and there are some grey areas involved but there's no need (that I can see) to make things more complicated by introducing extraneous elements.

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