Indirect Free Kick Management and Goal Restart

Referee David Gantar signals an indirect free kick during the San Jose Earthquakes and DC United MLS match on July 3, 2010. (PROREFEREE/Jason Sholl)

“Playing in a Dangerous Manner” is one of the infractions listed in Law 12 that requires an Indirect Free Kick restart. This infraction is called when, in the opinion of the referee, a player plays in a dangerous manner, which is defined as any action that threatens injury to someone (including the player themselves) while trying to play the ball. It involves no physical contact between the players. Misconduct is warranted only if the action is made with an obvious risk of injury.

In the specified clip, the Washington player (in red) raises her foot high near the facial area of the Atlanta player (in orange) to play the ball. The referee is in a good position to see the player’s action and stops play for Playing in a Dangerous Manner. No physical contact is made between the players. The Washington player does not pose an obvious risk of injury as the cleats are not exposed and the foot is brought down quickly to avoid contact. No caution is needed.

The IFK restart is within scoring distance for Atlanta. Referees must be proactive and efficient in accurate placement of the ball and ensuring the defensive wall is moved back a minimum of 10 yards. The ball must touch an additional player for a goal to be awarded. Focus and concentration are required from the Referee and Assistant Referee to correctly decide whether such a touch occurred, particularly from the wall and goalkeeper. In this clip, the ball is shot directly into goal. Clear communication from the Referee, with strong body language and a strong whistle, are necessary here to disallow the goal and restart play with a goal kick in accordance with Law 13. The mechanic from the Assistant Referee is to stand at attention at the goal line to indicate the goal is not valid. Such teamwork is intended to provide an efficient means of getting play restarted quickly and correctly.

By combining focus, concentration, and teamwork, the delay of 90 seconds seen here between the goal and the restart could have been avoided. At the time of the restart, the Atlanta team is surrounding the Referee, partly due to their being beckoned over to have the decision explained, and is put at an extreme disadvantage to defend the ensuing play after the whistle is blown. By misapplying Law 13 in allowing an incorrect restart (a DFK outside the arc of the penalty area), the Referee has made it possible for the opposing team to protest the match.

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