I had a question a fellow referee asked me and we both would like some clarification. Please help.
The situation: On a corner kick the attacking player tap the top of the ball and called to her teammate to come and take the kick, her teammate starting dribbling the ball towards to goal.
The referee decided that the ball was not properly put into play with the 1st attacker’s tap; he blew his whistle and had them retake the corner kick.
What is the correct course of action?
USSF answer (October 13, 2009):
This excerpt from the USSF publication Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game (2009) should clarify the matter for you. While it speaks of free kicks, it also applies to corner kicks. The Advice is available for download on the USSF website.
13.5 BALL IN PLAY
The ball is in play (able to be played by an attacker other than the kicker or by an opponent) when it has been kicked and moved. The distance to be moved is minimal and the “kick” need only be a touch of the ball with the foot in a kicking motion or being dragged with the top or bottom of the foot. Simply tapping the top of the ball with the foot or stepping on the ball are not sufficient.
When the restart of play is based on the ball being kicked and moved, the referee must ensure that the ball is indeed kicked (touched with the foot in a kicking or dragging motion) and moved (caused to go from one place to another). The referee must make the final decision on what is and is not “kicked and moved” based on the spirit and flow of the match.
The referee must judge carefully whether any particular kick of the ball and subsequent movement was indeed reasonably taken with the intention of putting the ball into play rather than with the intention merely to position the ball for the restart. If the ball is just being repositioned (even if the foot is used to do this), play has not been restarted. Likewise, referees should not unfairly punish for “failing to respect the required distance” when an opponent was clearly confused by a touch and movement of the ball which was not a restart.
The referee must make the final decision on what is a “kick” and what is “not a kick” based on his or her feeling for the game-what FIFA calls “Fingerspitzengefühl” (literally: “sensing with one’s fingertips”).