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Question Number: 33681

Other 9/29/2019

RE: Adult

Steve of London, UK asks...

At a free kick you often see a goalkeeper stand on one side of the goal expecting a wall to cover the other. Inevitably the attacker scores in the empty side of the goal.
Why cant the defending team place a defender behind the goal line who could then move forward as the kick is taken and head the ball away?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steve
Yes that tactic might work in some instances. It is not used widely, in my opinion, for the following reasons.
1. It moves the offside line to the goal line which allows attackers into the goal area and that will create defending challenges . It will also restrict the movement of the goalkeeper who will have to contend with both defenders and attackers in the goal area much like a corner kick.
2. Players must stand on the field of play so the defenders have to making a standing jump on the goal line or in front if it.
3. Pro players are fairly skilled in targeting the underside of the crossbar. The average standing jump is roughly at best 16 inches which for say an average 59 player leaves a gap just under the bar.
I have seen team use the tactic of a defender backpedaling at the last moment from the high offside line to the goal line to attempt this. That is not easy to do due to getting the timing spot on plus it is extremely difficult to jump up while backpedaling
Weigh all those up and it is probably better to try to stop the shot close to source with the traditional wall rather than at the target. That is the accepted *knowledge* of the wider coaching community. If the goal line tactic was more effective then it would be used more extensively.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Steve,
They can and on occasion do. What a team tactically does is of no concern to the referee unless it is unfair or against the LOTG. If you place people in walls or in goal then the attackers elsewhere maybe unmarked. But likely the number one REASON in a free kick (unlike a corner kick , goal kick or throw in which offside does NOT apply) is the 2nd last opponent ( be he the keeper or the other defender ) keeps the entire attacking team on side and may make the idea of a wall obsolete as attackers will crowd the area in front of the keeper with impunity. . . The defender could just have a toe on the goal line and be partially off the FOP but technically there is no reason to be inside the goal off the FOP. It is the REASON on Pks why keeper must have ONE foot on the goal line so as to be IN the FOP.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Steve,
There is nothing in the law that would prevent this, so this is not a laws question, simply a matter of team tactics.

As my colleagues have pointed out, teams sometimes do try this - but not very often because it simply isn't a very good or very effective tactic. The main problem with it, is that placing a defender on the goal line then allows the attacking side to put as many players as they like, in positions behind the wall where they can be a much bigger goal threat. Normally, at a free kick the defenders try to maintain a high offside line, to keep the attackers away from the danger area and give their goalkeeper free range of movement and sight of the ball (as much as that is possible, given the presence of a wall). For instance, with a defender on the goal line, attackers would be free to crowd in on top of the goalkeeper, hampering the keeper's freedom of movement and view of the ball.

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