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Perhaps these referees had just watched an MLS conference final where one of our top referees, while doing an otherwise outstanding job of controlling a hotly contested match, put on a master class in referee complicity?


When awarding a free kick, I often hear the coach and other players, the ones not taking the kick, yelling for 10 yrds. My thoughts have always been to not get involved unless requested by the kickers themselves. If they want the 10 yrds, a ceremonial kick, I give it if THEY ask. I ignore the coach (most always, not just in this instance) and the other players. That's not to say I don't tell the defenders to get back because 10 yrds is required whether they ask or not. I just try to give the free kick the most advantage as possible because the advantage comes not just with the distance/uncontested kick, but the quickness/speed at which they want to set up and kick it.


I'd offer a quibble and then second some of your comments.

In a perfect world, soccer football should be played without fouls and infractions. We know this doesn't happen. When a foul or infraction deprives a team/player of the ball, the free kick provides a means of restoring the lost possession and situation as it was. When the ref blows the whistle and stops play to give the victim a free kick, the situation has unfortunately been altered and, as you wrote, the space requirement is needed to make that free kick meaningful.

I would second your criticism of the way the refs distorted (or perverted) the game. In addition, though, they also reduced the percentage of game time during which the ball was actually in play. Even when referees are working hard to speed the restarts, especially by preventing defensive teams' delaying tactics and by getting the restart set up quickly, the best that can be done is to give the players approximately 60 minutes of actual play out of the nominal 90 minutes. The refs you observed were depriving the players of playing time.

I have said that the referee's only power to protect a game is to blow the whistle to stop play and restore possession of the ball to the team/player who was unfairly deprived of the ball. (And of course, the ref can warn/eject for misconduct while play is stopped.) Nevertheless, stoppage is unnatural for the game, and the ref's duty is to minimize time when the ball is out of play.

Pat Smith

A famous English referee,who has left us for greeener pastures."Not unusual for deceased Enclish referees, or for that matter British referees" once remarked about Free Kicks. He said "a free kick is the restoration of the situation,and like many Insurance policys, you should get back what you put into it.

David C

I have worked a game with exactly two free kicks ... both preceeded by a heart-felt "oh, sorry!" ... a Women's divsion 3 match. Now, some snarky people I know wouldn't call that association football, but it was played according to the laws of the game, on a lovely Sunday afternoon, and 26 or 27 people were having an absolutly wonderful time, including your humble Referee.

It can happen !

Patrick Duffy

I have seen the 'protest to delay the restart' tactic used too often, successfully, on referees who were taught "go to the spot of the foul." Then they stand there, with their arm dramatically pointing towards the goal, as the defenders come up to "protest." Kick delayed, defenders succeed in their tactic and the referee thinks he's done a fine job of selling the call.

Get away! They know there was a foul and they full well know which team gets the kick, so get away. You are occupying space the players need.

I did once do a women's 2nd division game in which there were no free kicks because there were no fouls or offside infractions in the entire game. Amazing.

Richard M.

But what are we to do Mr.E, and Mr. B? The kids constantly see their heroes on the television using a vast quiver of delaying tactics from the sublime to the ridiculous. As well, they also see that at the professional level there are rarely any consequences for delay. Thus it is passed down to the high school and club kids that I referee. And as for being the John the Baptist of enforcement,I like him, would soon find my head on the platter of the powers that be.
I agree with you completely, but until FIFA, and the USSF (hell, for that matter, you can throw in AYSO too) come down HARD on the enforcement of delay, and not just for a season or so, we're spittin' into the wind....

Richard M.

pat smith

I suppse it is fair to that nothing nothing should,or does surprise me about this game.In the middle 70s i was the director of officials for the American soccer league.On the previous weekend i has just refereed a top Argentina team, aftr returning home i was asked by the S.R.A. from the previous state i lived in would i officiate a ten year old girls team as a favor to him.
Having never refereed a girls game before i thought it would be fun.The two teams were shockingly
diferent.One had a reasonably
amount of talent, the other next to nothing The main tactic in the first half was to settle in the six yard box and form a barracade.
despite this the better team scored six goals in the first half
So i did have six restarts from the center.But because the poor team refused to come out of the six yard box i started inventing fouls in their favor to move the ball out.Any free kicks i called
were only to bring some sanity to the game.In the second half the coach of the losing team figured it might be better to use the rest of the field instead of squatting in the Penalty area.One of his players was fouled right in front of the bench, i called the foul for him, my first genuine free kick, he went crazy,he didnt want the foul, he wanted Advantage.I told him at that age they couldnt even spell it that set him off further.He continued to berate me, i walked over to him told perhaps he was right,i didnt understand advantage
but i did understand abuse, he was abusive and i heaved him. he had a helper so the game continued.
The S.R.A. told me had i committed treason the coach couldnt have been more admament
aout his dislike for me. Even my wife didnt speak for a whole day.
How could you throw the coach of a ten year old team off the field
I told her had i talked to her that way she would have throw me out. One good thing came of it i told the S.R.A. to give ten year old girls games to people who can handle them. I didnt need the hassle.

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