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Question Number: 35602

Law 13 - Free Kicks 6/27/2024

RE: Rec Adult

Sports Fan of Santa Barbara, CA USA asks...

Regarding Law 13

On an indirect free kick, can a player on the same team as the player taking the kick (first touch) be cautioned for requesting 10 yards of space? This would be the player taking the second touch who would be shooting on goal but is technically not the "kicker" who touches the ball first.
My understanding is that the request for 10 yards of space must come from the apparent kicker (player making the first touch) and that the Referee will act upon (call for/pace out/enforce the distance) the request only from the player taking the first touch. If actions of any player (opponent or non-opponent) appear to, in the opinion of the Referee, delay, confuse or interfere with the taking of a free kick that player may be cautioned.
Any clarification is appreciated.

Thank you

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

The defending team must retreat 10 yards at all free kicks. Any attempt to thwart the taking of the kick can result in a caution.
There is also no requirement that the kicking team has to wait to take a kick and they can proceed with a quick free kick.
In addition the law book makes no provision as to who can ask for the required distance. Most times it is the referee that decides based on the circumstances. There will be times when a sole player taking a kick believes that opponents are closer than 10 yards and the player will ask for the yards. Typically one sees those at a free kick well away from the penalty area and a single opponent is closer than the 10.

Now in those situations where it is apparent that 10 yards is required such as at a shot on goal a referee will step in and make the kick ceremonial whether direct or indirect. There is no requirement that the kicker has to request the yards and in many situations as stated the referee will make the kick ceremonial when it is clear that it is the only way to proceed with multiple players around the ball. That is the referee’s decision to help in managing the restart equitably for both sides. Typically in those situations some time has already passed with the referee now *involved* in the restart. Opponents will be asking if it is on the whistle and that is usually confirmed

When it is ceremonial a referee will inform everyone including those around the ball that the restart is on the whistle. Any kick that is taken before the whistle is likely to draw a caution unless there is some communication issue about why it happened. Many times a referee will not know or be required to know who is the kicker. That is only required at a penalty kick where the kicker must be identified.
Indeed when I watch free kicks with at times two to three players behind the ball it is unclear who is going to take the kick. I’m not even sure the players know as to whether it is going to be a shot or a cross or a left footed or right footed kick.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Thank you for your question.

There's no particular requirement for the request to come from any one player. The LOTG, as my esteemed colleague Ref McHugh states, require the defending players to retreat 10 yards at all free kicks. If the attacking team wants the referee to intervene and manage this, then it becomes a ceremonial free kick. It doesn't matter which attacker the request comes from.

Look at it this way - at this time there are usually a couple of attackers standing around the ball and the referee doesn't even know who the kicker is, so it would be impossible to require such a request to only come from the kicker.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi there,
Lets examine the reasoning we award a FREE kick, not just a restart kick or get the game going again kick! Free means: free of restraint, free of encumbrance, free of restrictions. When the opposition fouls a player they are in effect trying to STOP that player's freedom from proceeding on their way!

An unfair challenge can be deemed careless, reckless, or excessive. In the cases of careless or reckless we CAN decide NOT to stop play and implement "Advantage!" in that we wait a few seconds to see if what develops is actually better than stopping the match only to restart it again with the free kick at some point on the FOP! A caution can be shown at the next stoppage if it was indeed reckless!

If it was excessive, then unless the ball is likely to immediately roll over the goal line under the crossbar between the posts for a good goal we are on the whistle to stop play immediately, show the red card send off the player reducing them to 10 and restart with a ceremonial free kick or a PK.

A ceremonial free kick has obstacles to the free part of the kick because the referee is now involved in the outcome of play. The team taking the free kick can not just go on their whim. A whistled restart is the generally accepted method after a referee has indicated NO one does anything but what is allowed under the LOTG until he signals. I have seen referee do or say the ago ahead/ hand wave but that is a foolish decision. That signal should be the whistle, to avoid confusion & prevent dissent!

If the DFK foul occurs inside the PA of the team responsible then we upgrade to a PK! All players must reside out side the boundary lines and ten yards away with only the designated shooter and opposing keeper involved. If the restart location is outside the PA and advantage was not realized the aggrieved team has the right to place the stationary ball on the foul location and freely kick that ball into play with no interference of the officials or from ANY opposing player .

There is a MYTH that the aggrieved team/players must ask for 10 yards! That is simply wrong! What is supposed to occur is the opposing players must immediately begin under the LOTG, to WITHDRAW a distance of ten yard in all directions from the location of the restart. Now we are aware it takes a few moments to pick ones self up and get moving and no one covers ten yards at a sprint so the aggrieved team has a right to wait until their opponents get that far away OR choose to place the ball at the correct location and go quickly! That is the FREE portion allotted to them when they are awarded the foul!

What a referee needs to be aware of, is the defending team PREVENTING that free option by NOT withdrawing quickly or not withdrawing to the correct distance or stopping/stepping into the available passing lanes? Generally though if the referee is stopping play for the foul and wishes to caution and show a yellow card for the reckless aspect or wishes to interrupt the free kick to caution and show a yellow card for delaying the restart or failure to respect the ten yards THEN that Free kick should turn into a Ceremonial free kick because the referee is now involved in the outcome!

If there is an INDFK set up, the ball is IN play the moment it is kicked, the only restriction is the ball cannot directly enter the goal but defenders will immediately move in and close the shooter down.

If the referee has allowed the encroachment & chosen not yet to interfere, perhaps thinking lets wait and see where this goes before acting upon it is anyone's' guess. Any of the on field players might yell out! 10 yards ref! Heck the coach from the technical area will holler things like, "REF! Ten yards! Come on! Move them back! They are not backing off.

The referee has to decide is that a fair assessment? Or, did they get caught trying to go quickly and are now looking for an out because it was a mistake ?

If a team decides to go ahead and take the free kick, they suffer the consequences if it goes astray, if it is intercepted by opposing players closer than ten yards, as long a those opposition player did nothing UNTIL the ball was kicked and moved, play on!

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