Ref4Me

Free kick to defenders inside the box - when can you challenge?

Murri O

Active Member
Started doing more junior games recently and you get all these weird circumstances which never occur in senior football.

Ref awards a free kick in the box and the GK quickly places the ball down and passes it to a defender who is standing next to him in the box. There is also an attacker in the box.

When is the attacker allowed to challenge for the ball?

I'm finding this bit confusing.

Extract from 13.3

If, when a free kick is taken by the defending team inside its penalty area, any opponents are inside the penalty area because they did not have time to leave, the referee allows play to continue. If an opponent who is in the penalty area when the free kick is taken, or enters the penalty area before the ball is in play, touches or challenges for the ball before it is in play, the free kick is retaken.

Isn't the ball 'in play' the moment (from 13.2) it is 'kicked and clearly moves'? Does the ball have to leave the box? Does the attacker have to leave the box? (I'm sure someone from outside the box can run in and challenge.)

The ball:
  • must be stationary and the kicker must not touch the ball again until it has touched another player
  • is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves



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Will_A

Premium Member
Premium Member
Level 4 Referee
If the defence chose to take a quick free kick before the attacker has the chance to leave the area then the ball is ‘in play’ as soon as it it is kicked and clearly moves.

Therefore the attacker can challenge for the ball as soon as the keeper takes the free kick.

However, if the attacker starts to close down the defender before the ball is kicked and clearly moves then a retake would be appropriate.

It used to be that the ball had to leave the penalty area to be ‘in play’ but this was changed a few years ago.

Proactive refereeing prevents any need for the retake though, if you see the attacker start to move towards the ball before it’s taken then use your voice and warn them!
 

Murri O

Active Member
If the defence chose to take a quick free kick before the attacker has the chance to leave the area then the ball is ‘in play’ as soon as it it is kicked and clearly moves.

Therefore the attacker can challenge for the ball as soon as the keeper takes the free kick. **

However, if the attacker starts to close down the defender before the ball is kicked and clearly moves then a retake would be appropriate. ##

It used to be that the ball had to leave the penalty area to be ‘in play’ but this was changed a few years ago.

Proactive refereeing prevents any need for the retake though, if you see the attacker start to move towards the ball before it’s taken then use your voice and warn them!

** Thanks for that. That was my understanding but where in that excerpt does it say that?

## Wording seem vague unless I'm reading it wrong. The way it's written it's a retake if the ball is placed and then, before the kick is taken, the attacker kicks it. (I mean that's fairly obvious and is valid anywhere on the field.)

"If an opponent who is in the penalty area when the free kick is taken, or enters the penalty area before the ball is in play, touches or challenges for the ball before it is in play, the free kick is retaken."
 

JamesL

RefChat Addict
Level 3 Referee
** Thanks for that. That was my understanding but where in that excerpt does it say that?

## Wording seem vague unless I'm reading it wrong. The way it's written it's a retake if the ball is placed and then, before the kick is taken, the attacker kicks it. (I mean that's fairly obvious and is valid anywhere on the field.)

"If an opponent who is in the penalty area when the free kick is taken, or enters the penalty area before the ball is in play, touches or challenges for the ball before it is in play, the free kick is retaken."
You look at it like a free kick. I dont know why they didn't use the same language but that is another debate.

Being in the area passively is very different to touching or challenging for the ball.
So it the keeper takes it and before the ball is in play the attacker was already attempting to get involved then that's a retake. If not, and he was passively in the area, he can then challenge after the ball is in play.
 

Murri O

Active Member
You look at it like a free kick. I dont know why they didn't use the same language but that is another debate.

Being in the area passively is very different to touching or challenging for the ball.
So it the keeper takes it and before the ball is in play the attacker was already attempting to get involved then that's a retake. If not, and he was passively in the area, he can then challenge after the ball is in play.

Fair enough.

In summary once the ball is 'played' (providing the attacker doesn't challenge for the ball before that) it's game on no matter where the attacker(s) are.
 

Russell Jones

RefChat Addict
Level 3 Referee
Fair enough.

In summary once the ball is 'played' (providing the attacker doesn't challenge for the ball before that) it's game on no matter where the attacker(s) are.
More or less. Much as with a free kick outside the penalty area, the team defending the kick need to be making an effort to retreat the correct distance. So, in this instance, jogging towards the edge of the penalty area is fine, loitering IN the area is not. If you are in ANY doubt as to whether the attacker has (tried to) retreat appropriately then 'safe refereeing' would suggest a retake. However if you are 100% sure that the attacker is not at fault, then crack on :)
 

Anubis

RefChat Addict
Treat it like a quick free kick anywhere else on the pitch
If the opponent say is clearly taking no part in play, no interest in delaying restart, sauntering around, and the freekick team go quick and thro no doing of the opponent the ball ends up with them, we play on.
 
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