Wait for the Whistle!

One of two talking points raised in December came courtesy of Steve McMahon, who discussed when not to allow a free kick to be taken quickly.

The situation arose after the goalkeeper rushed out of the area and fouled an opponent 20 yards from the goal line. The attacking player was moving away from goal and it was not considered DOGSO, so the goalkeeper was cautioned, which all agreed was fair.

It was about 3 or 4 minutes before the free kick was ready to be taken, at which point the Referee asked the attacker; “Would you like 10 yards?”

“No”, the free kick taker replied and played the ball quickly from which a goal was scored.

The defending team went ballistic; they all expected a ceremonial free kick, which is somewhat standard practice for a direct free kick in the attacking third.

In law the Referee has not done anything wrong and when asking the question of the yards he did so loud enough for everybody to hear, thus the defenders should have responded. Additionally, the number of minutes in passing since the foul was awarded was more than enough time for the defending team to make themselves prepared.

However, from a Referee’s perspective it is not good for credibility and invites dissent. When awarding free kicks it is important to maintain control of the situation by using your whistle and the time available.

Depending on the seriousness and location, such as the defending third, of a foul challenge it can be best to allow a quick free kick. However, for any delay to the restart; a substitution, or an injury, or the issuing of a card, for example, it is best to have the teams wait for your whistle, maintain your composure and retain your match control.

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