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Question Number: 33784

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/23/2019

RE: Adult

George Sweet of Horsham, West Sussex England asks...

I had an incident today where a defender, who was on the ground, used his legs to protect the ball from the opposition. This was endangering himself so I blew the whistle for a free kick against the defender. As it was in the box, I gave a penalty.
Was I right?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi George,
short answer?
While you did correctly identify an INDFK technical infraction, you awarded an incorrect restart because PIADM (playing in a dangerous manner) it is not a DFK offence, thus by definition, CAN NOT be a PK (penalty kick).

If an INDFK occurs closer than ten yards to the goal. the defenders can line up, standing on the goal line, inside the posts, under the crossbar, along the goal line, at the taking of this free kick. If the INDFK occurs inside the 6 yard goal area, the ball is taken straight back & placed on the outer edge of the 6 yard goal area parallel to the goal line
NO attacking INDFK can occur CLOSER than 6 yards away from the goal. While the exception to be closer than 10 yards is allowed to the defenders in goal on the goal line itself, all other defenders, in all other directions, MUST still be 10 yards away!

Depending on 'HOW' this went down there is even room to see the INDFK within the misconduct for a caution as USB show a yellow card & even a remote possibility of a DOGSO red card send off, they play a man down. Using his legs to smother the ball is NOT he same as using the hands which IS a DFK offence and if so would be a PK inside the PA.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi George,
Unfortunately, you were not right in this instance. In Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct, we find the following:

''An indirect free kick is awarded if a player: plays in a dangerous manner''

Later in the Law, there is this definition:

''Playing in a dangerous manner is any action that, while trying to play the ball, threatens injury to someone (including the player themself) and includes preventing a nearby opponent from playing the ball for fear of injury.''

So while you correctly identified that an offence had occurred, you got the restart wrong.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi George,
By your description, I'm picturing the defender trapping the ball underneath or between his legs. This doesn't meet the criteria for any penal offence such as kicking or tripping. Rather, it creates a situation where an opponent cannot possibly play the ball without putting that player in danger. That is Playing In A Dangerous Manner, so is an indirect free kick.

A YC for breaking up a promising attack or even a RC for DOGSO may be possible - I'd say don't go looking too hard for those, especially the latter; it will be clear as day if it does happen to be the case, but odds are it was a crowded penalty area.

Sometimes in these cases it's simply because the defender has fallen on the ball. In this instance, allow the defender a reasonable chance to release or play the ball - but award an IFK if they continue to keep the ball under / between their legs (although if an opponent is kicking their legs straight away, it's a DFK against the opponent).

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi George
I am afraid to say no it was not the correct decision. Playing in a dangerous manner is a technical offence punished by an indirect free kick. It is not s penal offence. I suspect the decision caused a right furore. At least you have the awareness to know that it might be wrong and to ask the question. All you can do is learn from it and make sure it does not happen again.

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