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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 35196

Law 13 - Free Kicks 11/4/2023

Petr of Prague, Czech Republic Czech Republic asks...

This question is a follow up to question 35193


However, in the case of a quick free kick, I feel that 2 meters is a sufficient distance for the opponent to play well. I'd rather say it's the kicker's fault that he kicked it towards the opponent :-)

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
Every single situation will be different. In the case of a QFK the law makes no mention of distance just that the ball is intercepted and that the opponent does not prevent the kick.
At two metres it is borderline between preventing and intercepting. How it will look will have a big influence on the call.
I could easily see a player stood two metres away and sticks out a leg towards the kick to intercept the ball yet it will look like preventing the restart. I have, like most referees, seen restarts being kicked at opponents who failed to move away many times to draw a caution.

So the astute referee will look at all the cues. How did the player get there? What was kickers intention? Did the opponent move towards the ball? What is the mood of the game at that moment? Where did it happen? Has there been a pattern of stopping QFKs?

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Petr,
ya I get the kicker should be smart if opponents are in close. They usually send the ball out sideways or back but I have seen them try to draw out a caution by doing exactly that. Kicking the ball directly at the defender claiming they are responsible for interfering

I take a dim view of defenders lollygagging not respecting the ten yards as I do of those type of entrapment or diving shenanigans. I watch to see if defenders delay their movements by trying to anticipate the kickers intent. It is why I add a verbal (TEN YARDS NOW!) and will occasionally caution show a yellow card to the tardy defender who seems to take forever to get out of the way. Rather than ask for ten yards, attackers will occasionally boot the ball at the defender, followed by a disbelieving cry & arm shrug, look they are interfering and you did nothing? Hopefully I react prior to that to keep it from happening! We are not geniuses but we see what we see, even IF others see it differently! :-)

Often a foul is done to delay the attack to give time to recover.
I find the ten yards concept is in ANY direction, yet a player 4 yards in behind and well off to the right or left will magically run /walk over top the ball spot to get ten yards downfield by walking 14 or 18 yds claiming he is respecting the distance. No, what he was doing, was ensuring there would be time to get behind the ball :-)

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Petr,
On a quick free kick, I don't think the referee should be making the judgement on whether a player has unfairly intercepted the ball or just had it kicked at him based solely on what exact distance away the player is. I think you have to look at other factors and clues in order to come to a judgement on this. For instance, what kind of movements has player made? Did they move towards the ball in the moments immediately preceding the kick? Or did the player remain in place despite having plenty of opportunity to move away, and in a way that the referee judges evidence of an intention to intercept the ball if possible? Alternatively, did they just happen to be in a position less than 10 yards away and didn't have time to retreat before the ball was kicked at them, or to a place within their reach? Those are the factors I would be looking at, rather than just simply the distance.

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