I was recently playing football in a recreational league, when a teammate was fouled. The referee awarded us a direct free kick, and seeing that the opponents were choosing to argue with the referee instead of defending, I took the opportunity to take the free kick quickly.

I placed the ball in the correct position, and as I went to take it, an opponent moved and stood directly in front of the ball, making no effort to get back. I kicked the ball anyway, hoping it would go through his legs. Instead, the ball became caught between us and since it was in play, I began kicking at it trying to get it out.

The referee began yelling, asking me what I was doing, and then told me to wait for the whistle. At this point, all of their defenders were allowed to get back into position, marking all of our attackers and forming a wall in front of the ball. The referee then told me he didn't have to allow a retake, but he was "doing me a favour".

Was this handled correctly by the referee? As a supplementary question, if the referee is refusing to enforce the required distance correctly, what strategies can I use to avoid opponents preventing me from taking a quick free kick?

1 Answer 1


If it was a direct free kick (near the goal), the referee may lock the ball. He should ask the attacking team, if they want to take it quick or slow. If they want it slow and ask the referee for the correct distance between wall and ball, the ball is available with a whistle again. Though, the ball is usually only locked if the attacking team asks for the right distance between ball and wall. See this link. This is why most defending teams set a player direct in front of the ball, so the attacking team has to ask the referee for the distance.

So, if an opponent blocks a ball from a locked free kick on purpose and is closer than 9.15m to the ball, the opponent should get a yellow card and the kick is repeated.

Unfortunately, the communication between players and referees, in amateur leagues, often is very poor and the referee does not manage to show/say the players what he has decided and planed to do next.

You might find this interesting:

referee signals

about FIFA Law 13: free kicks

See here:

"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.

If, when a free kick is taken by the defending team from inside its own penalty area, one or more opponents remain inside the penalty area because the defender decides to take the kick quickly and the opponents did not have time to leave the penalty area, the referee must allow play to continue."

  • "Though, the ball is usually only locked if the defending team asks for." Is there a reference in the Laws of the Game stating that the defence may ask for a free kick to be on the whistle? Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 8:23
  • 1
    I've found two sources that suggest that defenders must immediately begin to retreat or risk being cautioned: asktheref.com/Soccer%20Rules/Question/28716 askasoccerreferee.com/?p=364 Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 9:07
  • 1
    This player is a good five yards away, and is still cautioned: youtube.com/watch?v=OWLiKQSMgjI Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 9:24
  • 1
    I found two more articles that state that a player needs to retreat immediately: marinfc.com/mfc/… Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 9:28
  • 2
    It sounds to me like the differentiation here is that in a 'quick' free kick (ie, you move to take it right away) the referee shouldn't penalize someone for not getting out of the zone (because they didn't have time), but if they "make a move" to make the free kick more difficult prior to you kicking it (ie, move towards the ball) that should be cautioned.
    – Joe
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 19:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.