Welcome to Football Myths Part 1 – Asking for Yards. This is the very first post in a 7 part series in which I will set out to debunk a few of the most common myths that I am faced with every time I step out on the field of play to referee a youth or senior mens competitive match. I came up with the idea to do this on my drive home last night from refereeing a few mens recreation indoor matches. Throughout the night I was faced with the usual chatter and dissent that comes with the refereeing territory however, there are a few things that I keep hearing every week that really bothers me because I don’t know where players are getting their information from. My assumption is that a lot of the referees they see on a regular basis are making fundamentally wrong decisions, which then leads to drastic inconsistencies for the players as they see different referees from week to week, and it makes the rest of our lives more difficult as we have to constantly hear the barrage of nonsense that come out of these player’s mouths. I’m not talking about the difficult, grey line interpretive calls where opinion makes a big difference such as what is/isn’t a hand ball, or what is or isn’t offside. No, I’m talking about the fundamental, basic rules and laws of the game that so many people seem to THINK they know, when in reality what they thought they knew is actually all wrong.
Football Myth #1 – Asking for Yards
All too often I am faced with the situation where a free kick is awarded in a teams attacking third, and the defending team places a player right in front of the ball. When I ask the player to move away, I always get the same response “But ref…he didn’t ask for the yards!” Where did this sort of myth come from? Who ever said anything about having to ask for yards? The laws of the game are quite clear in this regard. In every instance of a start or restart of play (kick off, direct free kick , indirect free kick, penalty kick, corner kick,), with the exception of a throw in, and even including kicks taken from inside or outside the penalty area, all opposing players MUST be 9.15 metres (10 yards) from the ball. This is the REQUIRED distance and no one has to ask for them…they are to be automatically given.
LOTG references are very clear:
LAW 8 -“Kick-off: the opponents of the team taking the kick-off are at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball until it is in play” (LOTG 2013/14: pp. 30)
LAW 13 – “Free kick inside the penalty area – Direct or indirect free kick to the defending team: all opponents must be at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball” (LOTG 2013/14: pp. 41)
LAW 13 – “Indirect free kick to the attacking team: all opponents must be at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball until it is in play, unless they are on their own goal line between the goalposts” (LOTG 2013/14: pp. 41)
LAW 13 – “Free kick outside the penalty area all opponents must be at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball until it is in play” (LOTG 2013/14: pp. 41)
LAW 14 – “Penalty Kick – “The players other than the kicker must be located: at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the penalty mark” (LOTG 2013/14: pp. 44)
LAW 17 – “Corner Kick – “Opponents must remain at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the corner arc until the ball is in play” (LOTG 2013/14: pp. 52)
The laws of the game are also quite clear with regards to the punishment for those who fail to give the required distance. Law 12 list the 7 cautionable offences, one of which “failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, free kick or throw-in“. (LOTG 2013/14: pp. 38)[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PnxFS-grLU%5D
However, there is one instance where a player could get away with being closer to the ball than 9.15m. When a team is awarded a free kick, they have the right to take a “quick kick” and if opponents are closer than the required 10 yds from the ball, referees are advised to allow play to continue. But, if that opponent deliberately prevents the quick kick from happening while he is closer than the required 10 yds, then that player should be cautioned for delaying the restart of play.
“If a player decides to take a free kick quickly and an opponent who is less than 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball intercepts it, the referee must allow play to continue. If a player decides to take a free kick quickly and an opponent who is near the ball deliberately prevents him taking the kick, the referee must caution the player for delaying the restart of play.” (LOTG Interpretations 2013/14: pp. 131)
This all comes back to my main argument – the required distance of 9.15m MUST be respected. There is no need for the kicker, or his team to ask for the yards. If the kicker decides to take a quick kick, the referee is to allow play to continue however, that does not mean that opponents can prevent the restart of play just because yards wasn’t asked for, and the team decided to take the quick kick. It is a requirement of the Laws of the Game to remain 9.15m from the ball at any restart (except a throw-in) so players…please…the next time a referee asks you move back, JUST DO IT!!!
The Third Blind Mouse