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Question Number: 31804

Law 13 - Free Kicks 9/21/2017

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

This question is a follow up to question 31802

On the USSF video from Mr McHugh are two situations:

1) Interception (Defender goes away from the ball. He makes contact with the ball.)

2) Interference (Defender moves forward. He makes contact with the ball.)

I have third situation. Defender stands on the spot without movement. (He does not go away from the ball. He does not move forward.) He makes contact with the ball. How do you decide? Thanks!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
Opponents loitering around the ball at a free kick are not there for the benefit of the kicking team or the good of their health. Also rarely do they stand in one spot. If they do their intention is to prevent the ball being kicked forward in a particular direction and that has become a coached tactic.
As I mentioned previously sometimes the kicker may decide to kick tne ball at the *statue* in front of the ball. The player should not be there and by making no effort to move is failing to respect the required distance which can be a caution and a retake. How the player got there and his actions can have a bearing on the decision
So my advice is to retake the free kick when the ball makes contact with the opponent that is stood close to the ball and then to make it ceremonial. Indeed if it is obvious immediately before the kick then unless the ball looks like it is being played sideways or away from the opponent I would intervene and make it ceremonial.
I am also of the view that if referees step in to deal with this when it first happens then it can be headed of. I make a deal about speaking to the player that runs to prevent a free kick that does not actually happen. The player is told that his action is unacceptable and that it is not to be repeated. A team might *assign* another player to do it yet that many times not happen. I have in the past sent off players for this due to their stupid action of stopping a QFK while already on a caution.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Petr,
A player who stands still and does not try to move back the required distance (assuming they have time to do so) is in breach of the requirements of the law regarding free kicks. Law 13 refers to this situation and gives the referee 3 options that can be applied depending on the circumstances:

''If, when a free kick is taken, an opponent is closer to the ball than the required distance, the kick is retaken unless the advantage can be applied; but if a player takes a free kick quickly and an opponent who is less than 9.15 m (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 of play.''

It's up to the referee to decide, based on the exact circumstances involved, which is the appropriate course of action. As with many aspects of the laws is it not always possible to make a decision in the abstract, you need to see the actual situation and use your best judgement.

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