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OMG not again

Bravo Dr. Evans.
At last.
I have said for many years that players will use whatever tactics the referee will allow and even some that he/she will not.
As a lifelong central defender I love the fact that if I interfere and the referee adheres to the advice I can manage to get a few more seconds to allow others to take up better marking positions.
I have used and will continue to use the tactics that you point out. It has always been my philosophy to move players verbally as soon as it is obvious that 1), the forward can see and apply a quick kick, and 2) that this WILL establish no tolerance on my part for these actions.
Sometimes the "Box" needs to be a circle. As an assessor I have been at odds for a long time with those things that seem out of place. I do always allow that the advice comes down fro lofty places in the clouds and from many that have attained positions way beyond my humble level. It is however a simple thing. If the end result is that advantage happens as it should I for one applaud the referee for using his skills to manage important aspects of a "free flowing game". Even though it is not what we are expected to do.
The bottom line is that the laws are constantly changing and the game is also, but some of the perspectives are NOT


Top class article! I will most certainly put this into practice. Thanks for the insights!!!


I'm sure you applauded Irmatov's card for FRD to the Mexican player in the 1st half of today's World Cup opener. I know that I did.


Excellent posting. I can have a pretty good presence on the field when I need to, and one of the times I choose to use it is on free kicks. A sharp, "get out of there, give them ten" with a stern look and sharp gesture works well to move the defenders back. I like the "he will not interfere!" comment and the procedure you outlined above, it seems to be a very complete procedure for preventing tese unfair delay tactics. I may try it this afternoon if the opprotunity presents itself!

The procedures surrounding free kicks are really hurting the image of th MLS in particular. Hopefully this advice will reach to the figure levels of our top league.

Gary Voshol

Obviously the WC ref committee doesn't read your blog, Bob. Because already there sure are a whole lot of ceremonial free kicks where the defenders have elicited the referee's compliance in delaying the restart until they're ready.

Your method is unlikely to work at the youth level where I work. I give the U12's and the rec teams one warning when they've clearly mis-estimated the distance by a factor of two or more. U14's and older are expected to be closer to 10 yards than to 5. If they can't figure it out themselves, they get a caution following that one warning. (If they can't tell the difference between 10 yards and 10 inches, I'll go to yellow directly.)

Harsh? Yes. But there's no more 2-foot distance to the walls anymore.

We still have the problem where they line up 7-8 yards away, and then the kicker needs to decide whether the delay is worth the entire 10 yards after I back them up.

Robert Evans

Well Gary, I found that it worked even more effectively in youth soccer, because of the intimidation factor provided by an assertive referee!


Max Sands

Prior to the USSF "ceremonial kick" directive/dvd, in one of the adult Mens (Over 30 ~2nd Div) match, I informed the kicker "Carry on" and literally barked to the fouler "Do not interfere any further," from 3 yards away. A whole lot of uproar and nonsense started from the fouler team-mates, booked the delayer, and it landed being a "ceremonial" kick {the foul was in the attacking half on a windy field}. Peace and cooperation from then on out throughout that match from both teams on FKs, ditto, when I see that team again, although it needs a less audible verbal reminder now and then.

Now, these directive bind the referee in awarding what the fouler wanted, a pity really, but the referee's hands are tied tighter now, and damn the flow.

The ceremony aspect of the directive is directly playing into and encouraging the gamesmanship aspect, and not my favourite tool, however, I am bound to work within these directives as they are the ones applicable. With youth matches (all the way to B19), same strategy of two sharp sentences, and no more mucking around from the players; sometimes a quick quiet word "Hey Fellow, I know what's happening here, first you (your buddy) foul, now you are delaying, that's two counts against you," "Get Moving."

Now if I can measure ten yards walking backwards on a potato-field of a pitch with precision, then things will be all right!


Great points for game control. Since my facility deals with indoor soccer only dealing with the wall is slightly different. However we implemented a policy of issuing a blue card (requiring team to play man down for specified period) for all these delay attempts. Especially with indoor where quick restarts are the norm, the defenders would routinely step or stand right in front of ball. We begin to instruct officials to loudly say "if player does not move he will be carded". Offensive player would just look at us than kick ball in defender where we would then issue the card.

After a season all players understood and cards dropped off as the tone was set. The only cards usually issued now are on newer players or when they strategically take the card.

As always great stuff. Myself and my officials regularly review your posts and discuss.

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