Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Quick Free Kick : What's the rule?

There are some rules in football that really confuse me and its actually up to the referee's discretion to which way the decision goes. One is the offside rule where the referee on the sidelines has to give in a decision when the ball is released from the back and the player in front takes a touch. Now this is highly controversial based on the linesman's view and sometimes his own ability to catch up with the player in front.

Another rule that I've been pretty confused about is the Quick Free Kick.

Let's start off with a little video which would show what exactly I mean by a quick free kick.



[If you can't see the video then head over to this link : VIDEO]

This is a video of a goal Thiery Henry scored for Arsenal back in 2004 against Chelsea. The referee officiating is Graham Poll(who is retired now). Henry scored while Chelsea were lining up the wall and Peter Cech wasn't ready. It wasn't the only time Henry had scored in such a cheeky way, Aston Villa were on the receiving end earlier. Poll had this to say about the quick free kick :

First you have to deal with the principle of a free-kick.

If the attacking team are fouled then it is they who hold the advantage.

With a free-kick around the penalty area, we always ask the players whether they want it quick or slow.

This is their window of opportunity to surprise the defence. If they want it quick, then they have given up the right to re-take it, no matter if it hits a defender who's three yards away.

The same goes if they kick it over the bar. They only get one chance.

The flip side is if they want it slow, they can't then take it while I count out the ten yards for the wall.

They must wait for my whistle. There is nothing in the laws of the game that say we have to indicate for the free-kick to be taken.

It's just like when someone wants to take a free-kick anywhere else on the field.

As long as the ball is stationary and in the right place then the attacking team can take it as quickly as they like.


The referee couldn't have been more clearer in his stance and making us understand the law of the game.

Now let's fast forward to 7th April,2009. Champions League Quarter finals, first leg. Arsenal travel to Villareal's El Madrigal. Its the 45th minute, half time approaching and Arsenal are a goal down. Nasri is fouled 30 yards from the goal. The Gunners would want to go back into the tunnel with the scores leveled. Fabregas is swift in his approach and takes a quick free kick past Diego Lopez and gets a yellow card for not waiting for the Tom Henning Overbo's (Yes,the same referee who officiated the Chelsea-Barcelona semi final) whistle.

(Forward to 1 minutes 30 seconds into the video to see the quick free kick and the caution)



[If you can't see the video then head over to this link : VIDEO]

What was the difference between the two situations? Why couldn't Fabregas take the quick free kick and was handed a caution?

We have to understand the difference between a Quick Free Kick(QFK) and a Ceremonial Free Kick(CFK) which was made clear by USSF's "Free Kick and Restart Management" . A quick free kick can be taken by the attacking side in any situation without notifying the referee either verbally or visually and after ensuring there is a distance of at least 10 yards from an opposition player so as not to block the movement of play. Ceremonial free kick on the other hand are taken only on the referee's whistle after he's ensured the wall is at a distance of 10 yards from the ball.

The report goes on to say that the ceremonial free kick only be taken in the following situations :

1.Yellow/red card had been handed out prior to the kick.
2.A trainer was required to come on to the field.
3.The attacking team asks for the distance of 10 yards be enforced.
4.Referee decides to slow down the tempo of the game.

This is in total contrast with what the European referees believe on the quick free kicks as we read by Graham Poll's statements above. They are of the opinion that the referee checks up with the attacking side if they want it played quick or slow it down. What if the referee isn't in a position to check with the attacking side about their options? Or what if by the time referee asks its a little too late for the attacking side to make much use of it?

Leave comments on what you think of the whole quick free kick affair, which way should it be? Is it fair to take a quick free kick without notifying the referee even in an attacking position?

Also, as an amateur player who plays in the local park everyday without shin guards, offside and a referee. Would a goal stand if we score from a quick free kick? :)

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