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Question Number: 33561

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 8/6/2019

RE: Under 13

Tony of Minneapolis, MN USA asks...

I want to start cautioning a lot more for FRD (failure to respect distance) but I'm concerned it will dilute the meaning of cautions I give out.It happens frequently on free kicks where players will stand close in front of a ball and they don't get penalized for it, even in the pros, other than a 'scoot back scoot back'. I'm tired of letting this happen in my own games, especially in tournaments where time cannot be added on, but I'm also cognizant that this would probably add 2-3 cautions a game to my record and may make the other cautions I give out not seem as strong if I give them out for stuff like FRD.

I wouldn't give it out all the time, but there are definitely times when a player goes out of their way to get a few yards in front of a ball to clearly want to stop a restart. But then you get into the gray area of 'was it close enough to warrant a card vs. being in that spot where the team can do a fast restart and not have to ask for 10'

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tony
Many times teams do not want to take a quick free kick. It might look like a QFK when in fact nothing is on so the player really does nothing at the ball other than maybe motioning to restart and then waits to take the free kick when the team is ready. That is a judgement call by the referee assessing what play was on if any or was it just motioning or not.
The easy one is where the defender actually stops the ball after it is kicked. Although I also look for the deliberate kick of the ball into an opponent when it is aimless and not intended for anyone. I do not caution for those yet speak to both players
My advice is that on the first one, stop the play and speak with the player in a public way with words that say it is not his teams free kick and I do not want to see him in front of a free kick again. Generally the tactic is assigned to one or two players so by giving clear public instructions can curb it.
Also if you notice generally both teams engage in the behaviour so if your admonishment is public then it gets repeated for the opponents when they do it. The public admonishment is a sort of a *card* in that it is a warning that a repeat may be a caution. The key is that the player has to believe that there is a high risk on a repeat that action will be taken and that depends on the manner of the admonishment which can perhaps include a loud whistle. I try to get the player to acknowledge his action and make a mental note of his number.
I watched a EFL game last night and the referee left a defender in no uncertain terms that his effort to delay a free kick was not acceptable both in words and with an arms gestures of *No More*.
Personally I believe that the tactic can be managed without the use of cards. Yes there will be times when the card is required and necessary. Once the cards start coming out it can end up as multiple cards and all that goes with that.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Tony,
judge the obvious actions designed to frustrate the restart. In the pregame you could make it very apparent that the optimum word in free kick is free. One need not say, you ARE going to caution the very first player who so much as looks like delaying or not respecting distance. Just imply you find such conduct to be unworthy and that you take a dim view of such. So if a card is produced on an obvious first attempt, they cannot be surprised. You can develop a reputation that precedes you as and that alone stops a lot of it. But that takes time
Always consider the NEED and options at your disposal. Is the team taking the free kick being unduly harassed? If so ACT. Listen to the comments, watch the reactions. Get a feel for how the teams want this to go down .

I recall a Canada Brazil match in a woman's under 19 WC I think. It was a horrific display by the players and referee in allowing balls to be kicked away , players standing in front of free kicks screaming at each other and the referee, the referee screaming back it was utter chaos. The very next match. I think Germany & that same Brazil team but WHEN the ball was kicked away at a restart right near the start of the match ,boom, a card, the ONLY card . They (being players from both sides) literally sprinted away from the restart points after that. They were not fools and they too KNEW what the previous match had deteriorated into a farcical nonsense of petty whining. Your match, your decision, YOUR REPUTATION!

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