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Question Number: 31855

Law 13 - Free Kicks 10/2/2017

RE: Spectator Under 13

David Englefield of London, England asks...

A free kick is awarded in a central position 10 yards outside the box.
The ref says 'take the kick on my whistle'.
Whilst the defending team is getting itself organised the attacking team takes the free kick - within 10 seconds, and before the ref blows the restart whistle.
A goal is scored, and awarded.
Is this correct procedure ?

Thanks for your opinion.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI David,
Once a referee signals the free kick is to BE ceremonial it is blatantly unfair to permit the kick to proceed without it!

I have seen free kicks taken with a referee close by but he has NOT said or indicated anyone must WAIT for the whistle even if say he was engaged in talking to the kicker who was saying can I go? 'Yes you can.' and steps away it is bad form but not illegal.

The defending team has no rights on a free kick except to withdraw a minimum of ten yards and not be compromised by an interfering referee who engages their attention and distracts them from the restart.

While a referee close to the restart location and in conversation might APPEAR to be involved it is NOT in the SAME way of ACTUALLY stating for all to hear or see we will wait for the whistle as he points to it .

I would be livid if a referee did so then allowed a goal as a defending player and as a coach and as a mentor or assessor very disappointed as I try fathom his reasoning. That is the kind of thing destined to stop any advance up the ladder as a referee I assure you.

A referee interfering with free kicks is usually inadvertent . We are instructed to let the players play but if we NEED to intervene , caution or set a standard or are ASKED by the attacking team then we are to indicate it IS ceremonial and WAIT for the whistle then ONLY a whistle can be permitted to restart.
Why dig a hole or place a sword to fall upon or in is beyond me?

You can protest most anything but to be successful it must violate the LOTG or ethical standards. I would likely protest such a situation even if it was unsuccessful as I believe the referee is accountable but in reality LOTG are not entirely clear on this type of incident as free kicks do not require a whistle . It might cost you time and money with no decision in your favour but I suspect the referee will be more careful next time! These incidents even if not protestable should be at least reported and recorded .

As a coach I have seen referees do some real stupid stuff that has me going ape on the inside be it denying a legal goal or awarding an illegal one , awarding PKs by keeper handling outside the PA to not letting equal opportunity on sudden death goals at PKs

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi David,
Once the referee has told everyone to wait for the whistle, the situation is simple - everyone must wait for the whistle.

This should not have been permitted by the referee, in fact I have seen a number of examples in televised games where a forward has been cautioned for taking the free kick before the referee's whistle, after the referee had clearly indicated that the kick would be 'ceremonial'. A caution would not be mandatory but I imagine the referees in these instances saw it as either unsporting behaviour or a form of dissent.

I should point out however that there is nothing specific in the Laws of the Game covering this scenario, although I would say it is a matter of almost universally-accepted practice.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi David
The Laws of the Game is mute on this and it is only covered in the Advice to Referees (not part of the laws) where it is stated that a signal is required
So advice, custom and good practise says that the kick should not be allowed when the referee has intervened to move back opponents the required 10 yards. At other time there is no onus for a whistle or for the referee to allow the defending team time to organise itself. Some GKs incorrectly assume that they have to be ready before any signal which is not the case once the opponents are ten yards away and the referee has moved out of the way
Having said all that I recount a situation in an FAI Cup Final where the referee set up the wall, did everything and as he moved back just before he blew the whistle the attacker kicked the ball forward. Now the referee allowed the kick and no doubt he opined that the no whistle had NO effect on the kick and the game. It did cause a furore with one player sent off for dissent on a second caution and another player cautioned also for dissent. Even with it broadcast on national TV and recorded no protest was possible as there was no breach of the Laws of the Game.
Have a look at the incident here
The question one has to ask as to whether the whistle or not would have effected the subsequent play? Yes it could all have been prevented by better procedure by the referee and that allows for the *best* outcome possible which is no complaints.
So in your example it was not the *best* procedure yet it is a matter for the referee on the day to decide whether the defending team was compromised by the no whistle or not.

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