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Question Number: 30983

Character, Attitude and Control 10/31/2016

RE: D2 Under 15

Shawn Ramon of beeville, Texas United States asks...

This past weekend my player was attempting to take a IFK. The defending player was clearly with the 10yds allowed and I asked the referee for 10 yds. I was told that my player did not ask for the 10 yds and that he does not have to ensure the yardage unless my player and ONLY my players ask for it. I was also told that I as the coach could not request the 10 yds for my players, only they could. I have read the laws pertaining to this and cannot find where it is stated that 10 yds has to be asked for, only that it MUST be given. Was I wrong to argue that I can ask for it and that it was his job to ensure that it is given without having to ask??

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Coach,
it is better for players to do their thinking on the FOP! You could advise them tactically to request ten as is your right as a coach but a referee is not inclined to listen to what coaches say or want. That said in youth soccer we should ALL be on the same side ,which is (FOR THE BENIFIT OF THE KIDS) even if we might disagree with each others approach.

Coaches are always wrong to argue with a referee as it sets a poor example of interaction, and usually just irritates an already stressed individual if they are actually having issues. I should point ARGUING is different then a venting. You see something where you believe your players or team is being unfairly treated you will likely make a comment whether it is wise or not is a matter of opinion but you do NOT engage a referee during a match demanding that they listen to you! No matter you perception that you might be saving them from falling on their own sword, in a puddle of crap of their own making. Coaches need to coach not try and tell the referees how to apply the LOTG, You can always send in a comment sheet to those who monitor the officials if you see or notice something out of sorts. Referee or Coach, we are both accountable for how we interact responsibly

To examine a referee's responsibilities we need to also consider what players can or can not do, when it comes to this issue of respecting the distance or delaying the restart of play which is prescribed under the LOTG as a MANDITORY withdrawal of the opposition to a MINIMUM distance of 10 yards from the point of the restart.

Players have the right to DEMAND 10 yards to take a free kick that was awarded to them as they want time to devise or figure out a set play or simply collect their thoughts and remain calm or if in the lead a decent way to burn off several seconds of match time.

This is when the free kick goes to being what is known as a (Ceremonial Free Kick) restarted with a whistle only after the ten yards is accounted for, a wall set and the referee is ready to restart. The reason FOAM is used is to set the points of restart and the wall in a VERY DEFINED way as to leave no doubt! It prevents the ball being moved away closer or to the side and the wall is set at the DISTANCE prescribed by the referee, often paced out, and the wall can not move forward to close the gap .

These very SAME players who were awarded the free kick also have the right to place the ball quickly and get on with play even if the opposition are within that 10 yard mandatory withdrawal area BUT they cannot complain if the nearby opponent intercepts the kick ONCE it is taken.

You know who has no rights here? The OPPOSITION! They have no rights to delay or stand close or move slow. They have no rights to set a wall or devise any form of delaying tactic. They are FORCED under the LOTG to move away from the point of a restart in ANY direction a MINIMUM of 10 yards in a reasonable fashion.

Here is where a referee MIGHT intervene,
Are these opponents acting in a reasonable manner?

A defending player bends down to tie his shoe beside the spot of the infringement or who deliberately kicks the ball away is TRYING to delay that restart of play which the LOTG prohibit. CAUTIONABLE action and the responsible player is shown a yellow card and booked accordingly. The kick is retaken or restarted

A defending player well away from the ball's restart point chooses to run towards his own goal line by running directly to and past the restart point if behind it or off to the side for no other reason than to prevent the kicker from getting on with play. That player is not respecting the LOTG that state he must withdraw 10 yds. to allow the offended team to carry on play. CAUTIONABLE action and the responsible player is shown a yellow card and booked accordingly. The kick is retaken or restarted

A defending player standing at the correct distance when the team taking the kick feint at a run up deliberately but make no ball contact but it causes the defenders to break towards the ball so by the time the 2nd kicker tries to kick they have closed the 10 yard distance before the restart of play. That player is not respecting the LOTG that state he must withdraw 10 yds. to allow the offended team to carry on play CAUTIONABLE action and the responsible player is shown a yellow card and booked accordingly. The kick is retaken or restarted

Now although a referee is not to interfere with defenders in a tactical way, once he HAS decided he NEEDS to interfere to apply the LOTG he should NOT permit play to proceed given their attention will be on him not the restart itself. If he has decided to make the free kick a ceremonial one be it for having to show a card for the reckless tackle that created the free kick or because the attackers asked for it or for his own reasons he felt the opposition was doing something they should not be, he should go the point of the restart, hold up the whistle get eye contact with the kicker point at the whistle and state, 'We do not go until I whistle, understand? GET a proper response be it a yes, head nod something to indicate the kicker is aware of your intentions so no early funny ball goes blasting by you when setting the wall.

Once you as referee have shown the card if required or set the wall and affirm everything a go, THEN you whistle for play to begin. HOWEVER, your whistle is NOT a sign for the defenders to rush the ball, they still must remain 10 yards away until it is kicked into play. If they break early you can decided to retake if you believe it affected the free kick in a negative fashion but if the free kick goes well you also can ignore it as trifling having no impact.

A referee is not supposed to interfere with the decisions of the 22 players unless someone does something that requires him to intervene because the LOTG have been violated. A referee CAN warn players to be careful or speak to them if opportunity presents without resorting to stoppages and cards but it is a tricky slope. Everyone is paying attention to what you do and it could affect a restart given your comments and action distracts the very person that might have intervened or caused them to relax thinking you were going to do something else like turn a free kick ceremonial.

In youth matches and recreational adults I use the pregame inspection to have a chat about such things and expressly mention restarts and responsibilities so as to help them grasp I have a low tolerance for useless crap and my shouting 'Ten yard NOW! as a reminder is not a perquisite for a wall but you bloody well know to push the issue will cost you! Keep in mind all of us who officiate are on different learning curves or experience scales. The redeeming features of any competent referee are integrity and compassion and courage conjoined with a good work ethic, thorough understanding of the LOTG and a belief in the spirit of the game itself.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Shawn
Let me deal with who requests the distance. It is expected that technical staff only provide tactical instructions. So asking for 10 yards in not technical instruction. It is however easily overcome by the coach coaching his player to set up a particular free kick plays by requesting the 10 yards if needed. Under 15 players are well capable of ensuring they get 10 yards through discussion with the referee on the FOP.
Now as to requiring 10 yards the referee generally can take his cue from the kicking player. If it is a quick free kick then obviously the 10 yards is not required. If however the free kick is not taken quickly then the referee has to be satisfied that the opponents are respecting the 10 yards requirement. Encroachment and not retreating the required distance is a referee task and it should be enforced. It is players though not coaches that asks the referee to intervene should the opponents be within the 10 yards. Once the request is made the free kick can become ceremonial.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Shawn,

You are both partly right and partly wrong. The referee is right in saying that the coach is not entitled to request the 10 yards on behalf of his team. A coach is not allowed to request a referee to make any specific decision in regard to applying the laws of the game.

On the other hand, while it is the case as my colleagues have indicated, that the Laws do give the referee the option to allow play to continue even if players are less than 10 yards away (such as when the kicking team decides to take a quick free kick) it is not true that the referee may only enforce the required distance if the players ask him to.

I would argue that, once it becomes clear the kicking team doesn't want (or isn't going) to take a quick free kick, it is indeed (as you have stated) the referee's duty to apply the law by enforcing the 10 yards, whether the kicking team asks for it or not. Your team could speed up the process by asking for the 10 yards but they shouldn't necessarily have to.

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