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Delaying the Restart: Caution vs. Management

To:WPS Referees and Assistant Referees
From:Paul Tamberino, Director of Referee Development
Sandra Serafini, National Instructor

The Laws of the Game stipulate that defenders must retreat a minimum of 10 yards from the ball when a free kick is awarded. Actions including (but not limited to) holding the ball to prevent a free kick restart by an opponent constitute misconduct under the cautionable offense of Delaying the Restart. Simultaneously, referees are being asked to encourage the Quick Kick restart in order to promote flow in the game. Such flow adds entertainment value to the professional game in particular.

In the following clip, the referee stops play for a foul against Atlanta (red shirts). Rather than immediately retreating a minimum of 10 yards, the Atlanta player picks up the ball and begins to carry it away, initiating an attempt to delay the restart for Boston. The referee quickly pre-empts the situation by moving towards the player and a strong use of the whistle. The ball is put down for the free kick to be taken without it being ceremonial. A goal is eventually scored from the play.

The referee has two options in this scenario:

  1. Allow the Quick Free Kick to be taken. Note that once play is restarted, no caution can be administered to the Atlanta player for the delay. A verbal warning to this player at the next stoppage, however, is warranted and appropriate.
  2. Stop the kick to administer the caution for Delaying the Restart. Note that if the caution is given, the ensuing free kick must be Ceremonial.

The option to caution the defender may be appropriate in circumstances where the referee’s pre-emptive actions do not resolve the situation and the delay is successful. The time or score of the match may lend themselves to such circumstances but should not be used in isolation to determine whether a caution is appropriate.

In this situation, the referee’s strong use of the whistle and urgency to the area was effective in stopping this attempted delay, which in turn allowed the attacking team (Boston) to execute the intended quick kick and produce a goal. A verbal warning to the defender at the next stoppage is appropriate to indicate that such tactics are recognized and within cautionable actions.

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