Question:
During corner kicks, some teams in our league (U14) place one or more players immediately in front of the goalkeeper to block his view of the play. In some situations, those same interfering players on offense deliberately crowd the keeper, making it difficult or impossible for him to make the play.

Is this legal?

Answer (January 19, 2013):
No, it is not legal, and the referees should be dealing with it. Shame on the for allowing it. The particular text covering this offense is in the back of the Laws of the Game, under Law (not “rule”) 12 in the large section on “Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees”:

Holding an opponent
Holding an opponent includes the act of preventing him from moving past or around using the hands, the arms or the body.
Referees are reminded to make an early intervention and to deal firmly with holding offenses especially inside the penalty area at corner kicks and free kicks.

To deal with these situations:
• the referee must warn any player holding an opponent before the ball is in play
• caution the player if the holding continues before the ball is in play
• award a direct free kick or penalty kick and caution the player if it happens once the ball is in play
If a defender starts holding an attacker outside the penalty area and continues holding him inside the penalty area, the referee must award a penalty kick.

Disciplinary sanctions
• A caution for unsporting behavior must be issued when a player holds an opponent to prevent him gaining possession of the ball or taking up an advantageous position
• A player must be sent off if he denies an obvious goalscoring opportunity by holding an opponent
• No further disciplinary action must be taken in other situations of holding an opponent
Restart of play
• Direct free kick from the position where the offense occurred (see Law 13 – Position of free kick) or a penalty kick if the offense occurred inside the penalty area

Categories: Procedure-Ref