I noticed in one of the current issue responses “Putting the ball into play from a kick restart” that the situation is very similar to an indirect free kick restart. While the response was clear that it must be the decision of the referee as to what is a “kick” and what is not, ATR 13.5 makes it clear that “Simply tapping the top of the ball with the foot or stepping on the ball are not sufficient”. It has become commonly accepted for teams to restart from indirect kicks without the appropriate kicking motion. My question is this…should the correct call be to (a) stop play for an improper restart, warn the players about the proper restart procedure (and subsequent caution for delay or persistent infringement if continued) or (b) allow play to continue, ignoring the tap, treating the subsequent kick as the “first touch” and maintain the indirect signal until a true second touch happens, thereby calling back any goal that might be scored directly from the improperly taken restart and continuing play with a goal kick restart?
USSF answer (September 2, 2008):
The Law is clear: “The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves.” We have stated clearly in Advice 13.5 that there must be some “kicking motion” to put a kicked restart into play. The referee is the sole judge of what constitutes a kick.
Another point in your question needs to be cleared up: We would dispute that “It has become commonly accepted for teams to restart from indirect kicks without the appropriate kicking motion.” Some players may do it and some teams may use that as a tactic, but this does not mean that the definition in the Laws of how an indirect free kick (or any other kick restart) should be taken has changed. It is only referees who are reluctant to enforce the Law who have allowed this tactic to become “commonly accepted.” If the kicker fails to follow the Law and it makes a difference, then the referee must uphold the Law. If it didn’t really matter, then let it go (or perhaps give a warning). This is only common sense.