Case Study: Staying Alert for Quick Restarts

Case Study # 13-2013
Date 30 Mar 2013
Competition Barclays Premier League
Fixture/Result Swansea 1 – 2 Spurs
Referee/Badge Anthony Taylor, FIFA
At Issue A quick restart on a free kick catches everyone napping

Early in the second half of the match, Swansea midfielder Nathan Dyer (#12) was fouled by Spurs midfielder Naughton (#16) just outside the Spurs penalty area.  While the Spurs defenders were milling around, preparing to assemble a wall, Swansea took the free kick quickly, playing in leading scorer Michu with an excellent scoring opportunity.  Spurs keeper Brad Friedel was alert to the danger and came off his line to make a nice save.

Everyone on the field (except for the two involved in the kick and Friedel) were taken by surprise, as were the television producers, who had cut away for a replay of the foul.  Referee Anthony Taylor appeared surprised, but then moved quickly to get a better view.

While attacking teams typically “want 10 yards” on free kicks from the edge of the penalty area, they are not required to to wait for the wall, and referees must be alert to the possibility that a quick restart will be taken.  The following excerpt from section 13.4 of the “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” provides helpful guidance for referees in these situations:

The referee should move quickly out of the way after indicating the approximate area of the restart and should do nothing to interfere with the kicking team’s right to an immediate free kick. At competitive levels of play, referees should not automatically “manage the wall,” but should allow the ball to be put back into play as quickly as possible, unless the kicking team requests help in dealing with opponents infringing on the minimum distance.

2 responses to “Case Study: Staying Alert for Quick Restarts”

  1. OK here’s a question I’ve had for a while now. Obviously most fouls do not require a ceremonial restart, but when the team asks for ten, then it must be ceremonial and the whistle is required to restart play. That’s the ideal world. In the practical world the line isn’t always so clear, and the team which has just given away a free kick often stands closer than ten yards and the referee, knowing that and thinking preemptively, motions to them to move back or gives them a quick word/warning, often from rather far away. Does that very informal “Come on man, you know you can’t be there” mean that a whistle is now technically required for the restart? Not that it matters at all 999 times out of 1000… Also, very technical question that’s about as nitty-gritty as they come: If a team asks for ten and you respond that the other team is already ten yards away, is the whistle technically required to restart play?


    • Section 13.4 of the Advice to Referees holds the answer to your first question. In that section, you will find a chart entitled “Sequence of Events to Manage A Restart.” In the left side, under the heading “Quick Free Kick”, it says “Encourage the kick by verbally managing players around the ball to prevent interference.” So, to directly answer your question, no, verbally managing players does not negate the opportunity for a quick free kick.

      As to your second question, I could find no guidance from the ATRs, so good old Law 18 must prevail. If you have not indicated a ceremonial restart (and have not made a decision to do so), play may proceed without a whistle.

      The important point for us all to keep in mind when managing these situations is that the attacking team has been “wronged”; therefore, the procedure for restarts should favor them, not the team that committed the wrong doing.

      Thanks for your question.


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