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Question Number: 32304

Law 13 - Free Kicks 3/13/2018

RE: Competitive Adult

Matt Lawrence of Dallas, TX United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 32299

Well I guess if yall are in agreeance that the defense cant ask for the 10 yards then I guess thats the case now. It just seems simpler to pace it off in a goal scoring opportunity instead of throwing cards around. Also as a former golf caddie, I believe I know my yardage better than the referee as thats more of a caddies daily job than a soccer referee as I also Greg up being a referee. Maybe thats my problem is that I know better on the yardage?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Matt,
no one advocates throwing cards around.
Professional players withdraw usually 6 to 8 yards. In that defenders dislike thinking they are too far away no doubt you are correct but that is not a concern for the referee.
The optimum word on free kicks is free, the defenders are simply not permitted to defend illegally given they JUST finished illegally stopping the attack with the foul. Ten yards is a MINIMUM MANDITORY distance to withdraw. This is an obligation on the part of the defenders. They should know because it is in fact misconduct should they refuse to do so. I can assure you any competent referee can discern when ten yards are being violated. In golf they use the spy glass to hone in on the pin for exact yardage over hundreds of feet here we are talking 30 measly feet it really is not difficult. A little practise some attention and viola it becomes 2nd nature! And for being simple imagine if the players did not foul, then there would be no need to have a free kick lol

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Matt
A few seasons ago I recall an incident where I moved a wall back 10 yards by sight only. The kicker complained about the distance and I told him it was fine. He persisted in insisting that it was not 10. I could have told him to get on with the kick it yet I decided to prove a point by pacing the yards. Yep 10 yards exactly.
Now referees are not in the business of throwing cards around. I would safely say that I have never seen a defender err on the side of being more that 10 yards except at Underage. The more significant challenge are the defenders loitering around the ball, preventing quick free kicks etc. I would also suggest that it is not just about the distance yet it includes time taken and where the player is positioned. Far too often we see players run to stand in front of the ball and no actioned taken by referees on many occasions.
Players would be better served concentrating on play, marking up, communicating with team mates etc rather than getting involved with referees about yardage at a free kick.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Matt,
I still think you have your perspective on this slightly askew. Even if the defenders had the right to 'ask for the ten yards,' I just don't see (and have not seen) the situation arising. As mentioned it is virtually always the opposite scenario - the defenders are not ten yards back and the referee has to intervene to enforce the required distance.

As my colleagues have also mentioned, most referees are extremely capable of assessing the correct distance whether by pacing it out or just 'eyeballing' it and are also not in the habit of throwing cards around when players are a little tardy in getting back to the necessary distance. Again (at least in my estimation and observation) the exact opposite is true - most referees are much too lenient in allowing players to ignore the law and deliberately stand too close to the ball, blocking the kick from being taken and referees hardly ever card the players for doing this.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Matt,
That's not what we said at all.
Of course when you have the situation where the players initially aren't sure where 10 yards is they can ask the referee.
What we said is that the defenders shouldn't be arguing with the referee. When the referee has already determined where 10 yards is - whether that's stepping it out, doing it visually or using the pitch markings, the defenders most definitely don't have the right to make the referee use a second method to mark it out a second time.

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