Walls and More Walls

Aaron, a High School and College referee, asks:

On a set play (free kick), if the defending team sets a wall five yards from the ball and the center official tells them to move back, but does not say “on my whistle,” the attacking team takes a quick kick straight into goal, should the referee allow the goal?  The center said, “Move back, the law states ten yards. Come on, move back.”


A referee intending to talk to the opponents about their positioning vis-a-vis the ball on a restart against them should first state “wait for my whistle” and then take care of the problem.  It is unfair to both sides for the referee to be talking without ensuring that the restart will not occur because both sides are having their attention turned toward the referee and the attacking team could take advantage of this by kicking the ball.  Unfortunately, many referees are not aware of this.  Referees talking to players should not occur in these circumstances – if something is wrong enough that you plan on ordering players to adhere to the Law, then you have the obligation to visibly and audibly hold up the restart.  After all, this is one of the reasons why you have a whistle.

In doing anything like this even with the best of intentions, you are still interfering with the game.

Keep the following in mind:

  1. It’s the players’ game, not yours.
  2. Except for very young kids, allow each team to make mistakes … and then apply whatever the Law demands for the mistake.  They’ll learn not to make the mistake.
  3. Read the teams – is the attacker nearest the ball clearly ready, willing, and able to restart, even though one or more opponents might be within the 10 yards minimum distance?  Let the kick proceed – remember (1) above.  If the kicker sends the ball to an opponent nearer than 10 yards with that opponent, at the moment, in the process of backing away, keep quiet and let the play happen as the attacking team wanted it even if they ultimately messed up.
  4. Step in immediately, including the use of your whistle, if one or more opponents are so obviously close to the restart location and are making no meaningful effort to back away (including such tricks as walking across the probable path of the probable kick direction).  This changes their offense from “failing to respect the required distance” to “delaying the restart of play” … and show a yellow card to the opponent.
  5. Insert yourself, after clearly stating “Wait for my whistle,” and then proceed if the attacking team clearly requests enforcing the minimum distance but if and only if there is one or more opponents within that minimum distance.  Whistle play to restart immediately if, in your opinion, the opponents are already at least 10 yards back: don’t engage in backing opponents away if they are far enough back.
  6. An opposing team has no right to set “a wall five yards from the ball” nor does the referee have the right to be caught in this trap of wasting time (which helps the opposing team) – 7 or 8 yards maybe, but not 5!

The International Board has now made the referee’s life more difficult (as of 2019-2020) by allowing the appearance of a second “wall” consisting of one or more attackers.  Law 15 now provides that one or more attackers are permitted to set themselves at least one yard away from the defending team’s “wall” if that wall consists of 3 or more opponents.  If only one or two opponents are defending against the restart, there is no restriction against an attacker joining the party.  However, if there is a three-defender wall, any attacker nearer than one yard at the moment of the kick (e.g., by lunging closer in the last moment), the result is a whistle and the award of an indirect free kick for the former opponents, now having become the attackers!

Although all this may sound interesting, there are several hidden dangers here about which, as yet, the International Board has not provided advice.  For example, suppose at a ceremonial restart, the whistle has been sounded for the commencement of the restart and only two defenders plus an attacker are constituting “the wall” (all perfectly legal).  But, before the kick actually occurs, another defender suddenly joins the wall, thus making the once legally ensconced attacker now illegally in a wall of three defenders.  Then we have the issue of what constitutes a “wall” in the first place.  How close do three or more defenders have to be to be considered a “wall”?  Arms linked?  Shoulders touching? Standing with no body contact but objectively being within, say, five inches?  Six inches?  By the way, the International Board has yet to define “a wall,” apparently assuming  that everyone knows what it is.

Also by the way, the above two paragraphs apply, as of 2021, to NCAA (collegiate) matches as well.…

Trying to Slow Down a Restart

Gary, an adult amateur player, asks:

On a free kick can a defender stand in front of the ball till the offense player asks for 10 like a yard or two? Trying to see how to freeze the kick to set up a wall?


An apparently nice, simple question but one which touches the heart of the game.

Briefly, no.   A bit less brief,  the Laws of the Game state explicitly that opponents must retreat to a minimum of 10 yards … and they say it as though these opponents know that this is the requirement and that they are expected to perform this duty without needing to be reminded of it.  Of course, we all know better.  Unless the players are young (say, roughly, below the age of 14) and have had little training or experience, referees do not step in to enforce the 10 yard requirement because the attacking team may well prefer to take a quick kick even with one or more opponents closer than the minimum distance.  In general, the only time we step in to enforce the distance is if (a) there is an opponent obnoxiously close to the restart point and is aching to receive a caution, (b) we are expressly asked to enforce the distance, or (c) it is apparent that neither team is aware of  its responsibility to retreat.

When the referee has to step in, of course, things become a bit more complex and, though this appears to be an opportunity for the defenders to set up “the wall,” it can come with a price and that is what situation (a) is all about.  Except for ignorance (or lack of experience), the mere need to stop the taking of the kick could be the basis for a card.

By the way, there is a difference between a card for delaying the restart of play and a card for failing to respect the required distance – it’s not a huge difference (they are both yellow cards) and delaying the restart of play can be used for other purposes.  An opponent who is delaying the restart of play is usually either standing right next to the ball to actually block the restart or in the way for the attacker who is going to take the kick.  It’s a fine distinction.  Noting your own terminology, however, any “trying to see how to freeze the kick to set up a wall” can be cautioned – defenders on a free kick have no authority under the Law to try to interfere with or delay the restart for any purpose.  Only the referee can hold up a restart and, even then, only for such reasons as a player being injured or giving a card for an act of misconduct whether associated with the stoppage of play or not.

We should add that our approach to the attackers is rather similar regarding the placement of the ball for the restart.  The farther the restart point is from the goal being attacked, the less we care about being specific about where the restart should occur.…

Handball Following a Restart

Daniel, an adult amateur referee, asks:

Direct free kick for the attackers 18 meters in front of the goal. After the ball has been released by the referee, an attacker shoots the ball towards the goal. A defender runs 3 meters ahead of the wall forward and fends off the shot with a deliberate handball. Referee’s decision? Please motivate the disciplinary sanction.


Your description of the scenario is incomplete in several potentially important areas.

First, what do you mean by “after the ball has been released by the referee”?  Referees don’t “release balls” on any kind of free kick.  Indeed, there is only one restart that involves the referee releasing the ball and that is the dropped ball.

Second, if it is a direct free kick (DFK) restart (and thus there is no “referee releases the ball” component), there nevertheless is the major issue of whether this DFK restart is ceremonial or not.  If it is ceremonial, then the DFK cannot occur unless and until the referee signals with the whistle that the kick can be taken.  If the DFK is not ceremonial, then it means that the kick can be taken immediately by the attacker.

The third incomplete information issue is when did the defender run “3 meters ahead of the wall”?  If the defender was in the wall at the time of the kick and then ran forward before the attacker kicked the ball, that is an offense by the defender – carries a caution and a retake of the DFK.  If the defender began to move closer than the wall after the ball was kicked (assuming it was no closer to the DFK location than the minimum required distance), then no encroachment offense was committed even if that defender made contact with the ball well within the minimum distance requirement.  What is interesting about this scenario element is that, ultimately, it doesn’t matter because, if the defender actually ran forward before the ball was kicked, this retake is overtaken by what is discussed below under the fourth element and the misconduct is overtaken by what is discussed below in the fifth element.

Fourth, several different issues arise when you state that the defender then handled the ball.  Based on your scenario, the DFK restart was 18 meters from the goal which puts the restart just 1.5 meters from the top of penalty area.  The minimum distance for the defenders was 9.15 meters from the ball.  Assuming all lines are straight, 90 degrees from the goal line, and not beyond the sidelines of the penalty area (if any of these three requirements is not met, the issue of where the defender made contact with the ball is impossible to determine in relation to the penalty area.  All that can be said unequivocally is that, if all three are true, then the defender handled the ball inside the penalty area.  Accordingly, if that is the case, the restart becomes a penalty kick.  To understand this element, you will probably need to draw a field diagram and mark up the pertinent distances (that’s what we did to make sure we understood the scenario!).

The fifth and last incomplete information issue relates to whether any misconduct occurred and, if so, what color card.  If, in the opinion of the referee, the ball was going into or it was an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (high likelihood inside the penalty area), then the card color is red (denied goal by handling).  If, in the opinion of the referee, the defender handled to ball merely to interfere with or stop a promising attack (a less likely possibility inside the penalty area), the card color is yellow.

As far as motivating the disciplinary sanction, that’s easy.  It’s what the Law calls for.  The really critical motivator is that, based on your stated distances and making a necessary assumption about lines being straight and perpendicular to the goal line, the offense was committed in the penalty area.…

Organizing Walls … Not!

Simon, an adult amateur fan, asks:

If a ref awards a direct free kick and measures out the 10 yards, should he wait until the goalkeeper has organized the wall and is ready before he restarts play? Secondly. If the aforementioned freekick comes from a foul by the goalkeeper, resulting in his sending off, should enough time be allowed for the keeper to get into place and organize the wall?


We have to correct several misconceptions – for all direct and indirect free kick restarts, there is no obligation for anyone, including the referee, to hold up that restart so that anyone organizes a wall!  Free kicks can be taken immediately, without any signal by the referee.  The only time a free kick is delayed is if the referee decides to make the restart “ceremonial” (meaning a whistle is required before the restart can be taken) and the referee is the only one who can make that decision.

Further, referees are neither expected nor required to measure out 10 yards.  The Law requires that opponents immediately withdraw to a minimum of 10 yards from the restart location.  If any opponent does not and this excessively delays the restart, he or she is subject to a caution for “failing to respect the required distance” – only new or hesitant referees ever measure out any required distance.  A common reason for the referee to hold up the restart is if the attacking team specifically asks for the minimum 10 yard distance to be enforced and, under these circumstances, the referee might move to some point on the field and direct all opponents closer to the restart location than that point to move back – a failure to do so or to unnecessarily delay moving back could also lead to a caution for any of the recalcitrant opponents.

Finally, if the goalkeeper commits a direct free kick foul inside his/her own penalty area, the restart is NOT a “free kick” but a penalty kick.  Penalty kicks are always ceremonial and the referee will not give the signal for the PK unless and until all parties, including the replacement goalkeeper and the designated PK taker, are in their proper place.  This would clearly include allowing time for the replacement goalkeeper to enter the field and take up his/her proper position on the goal line between the goal posts.  If the foul by the goalkeeper was an indirect free kick offense or if it was a DFK offense but was committed outside the goalkeeper’s penalty area, then the only obligation of the referee is to not allow the restart to occur until the red-carded goalkeeper has left the field and the defending team’s replacement goalkeeper is reasonably close to his/her goal (in other words, the referee wouldn’t whistle to restart play just as soon as the replacement goalkeeper enters the field).  See the opening 2 paragraphs above regarding the “organize the wall” issue.  If it is a PK, in fact, there is no “wall” anyway.…

Restarts, Walls, and Related Stuff

Ryan, an adult amateur player, asks:

Offense has a free kick in a shooting situation near the defensive team’s box. An offensive player wants to position himself in the defensive wall. What is he allowed to do? Can he force his way into the wall? Does it matter who “gets there first”? Does the defense have a right to set up a wall without any offensive players involved in it? I get if the wall is set up and an offensive player wants to stand on the end or in front, but can he actually have a right to be INSIDE the wall?


No, he cannot force himself into the wall nor does he have any right to be in the wall.  It’s first come, first served.  Obviously, if a teammate happens to be standing right where a wall would be formed, the opposing team cannot prevent him from being there,  i.e., the defending team cannot complain or force him out, but expect to be aggressively squeezed or be the butt of other, hidden if possible,  actions expressing their unhappiness at what they would consider to be an intrusion.

Frankly, there really aren’t any particularly good reasons to be in the wall in the first place  — ducking or pulling out at the last moment in the hopes of creating a gap through which the kicker might drill a shot just doesn’t work (the theory is nice but the practice is terrible).  Standing at the end of the wall only adds to the wall’s effectiveness unless there is a light pass to the teammate at the end who can quickly turn and has an unobstructed shot-on-goal opportunity.

Frankly, the maneuver most likely to be successful is to practice and then be prepared to perform the restart quickly while the opposing team is still disorganized.  Many teams seem to think that the restart cannot occur unless and until the wall is formed.  That is incorrect, and the surprise alone is worth it even if it doesn’t directly lead to a goal.

The Law allows and encourages the free kick restart virtually at the moment the referee completes the stoppage of play for an offense (and assuming the ball is at or near the restart location).  At that moment, with few exceptions, the referee should (if they know what they are doing anyway), get out of the way and be prepared for an immediate restart.  The exceptions are

  • if the offense involves misconduct (the restart must be held up in order for the card to be given),
  • your team asks for a delay because you want the minimum distance rule,
  • there was an injury on the play that requires the removal of the injured player(s),
  • one or more opponents are either so close to the ball location or have taken control of the ball (e.g., kicked it away) that they would be considered to be delaying the restart of play (which should lead to a caution — see first bullet),  or
  • your team doesn’t want to restart immediately for some other reason (e.g., wanting to sub).

In all these cases, the referee must clearly and quickly signal that the restart is now delayed until the restart is specifically signaled.

There are a couple of other, more rare exceptions but, basically, the referee is expected to allow (and do nothing to discourage) the quick restart.  However, not all referees (notably newer ones) are aware of this expectation under the Law and jump right away into “wall management” mode.  Your team also needs to be able to decide quickly when using this quick restart ability will be to their advantage and when it will not.

Going back to your original query, however, our advice is that trying to get a teammate into a wall is not a right, usually results in a lot of pushing and shoving if not downright mayhem, and rarely is worth it in the first place.  There are better techniques.…

Goalkeepers — Ready or Not

Marc H, a U13 – U19 coach, asks:

When a free kick is given and the kicker asks for the Referee to give him the required distance for defenders (10 yards in a regulation match), does the Referee take into consideration the goalkeeper setting up the wall and being ready before the Referee blows the whistle to put the ball in play? I’ve seen circumstances where the Referee blows the whistle and the keeper Is still setting up his wall. Is there any consideration to the keeper in this case?


Short answer – none whatsoever.

Goalkeepers think they are special – and in some respects they are (it is a dangerous job after all) – but in this case the goalkeeper is taking a risk by his involvement.  Here’s the main point.  Asking that the minimum distance be enforced converts the restart from a quick to a ceremonial event.  By definition, the referee is the only person who must be involved and her only function here is to signal the restart when she is satisfied the minimum distance enforcement task is finished – i.e., the 10 yards is achieved.

The referee is not and cannot be concerned about any opponent not being where some other opponent thinks is not optimum.  In other words, it is the Referee who sets the wall, not any defender (much less the goalkeeper).  It is a simple matter of applying the Law and the Law is only concerned about a minimum of ten yards in every direction.  If there is any opinion by a defender that a teammate, while not closer than ten yards, isn’t in the “right place,” the problem is not the referee’s.  If a goalkeeper is sufficiently concerned that teammates are not where he wants them that he is prepared to be out of position to defend against a free kick, that’s his problem.

We feel safe in observing that the first time such a goalkeeper is scored against because he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, his coach will make the lesson clear.…

Retreating the Required Distance on a Free Kick

(Originally published on 7/8/17, “Operation Restore”)

Jose, a U-12 and Under parent, asks:

If the Red team commits a foul, does the Referee need to tell whoever of the red team is standing close to the ball to start moving away from it or does the Referee have to wait for a blue team member to ask for it?


This is a frequent topic of conversation because actual practice in this matter is all over the board (or should we say “all over the field”?).  The best we can do here is to outline what are considered to be standard and accepted practices and procedures.  By the way, although the question was asked in the context of a free kick restart. what follows is roughly applicable as well to any restart where there is a distance requirement for the opposing team (e.g., particularly corner kicks and throw-ins but to a lesser degree also goal kicks — kick-offs and penalty kicks also have opponent distance requirements but these restarts are already ceremonial, a fact which is highly relevant and which we will explain shortly).

Let’s start off by noting that the Law assumes all opponents will immediately begin backing away the required 10-yard distance as soon as the offense is whistled because they know that is what is expected and, anyway, it is the sporting thing to do.  Uh huh.  This is not true across all player age groups — though for different reasons as between young players versus older, more experienced players.  For the former, failing to back away immediately is a matter of ignorance as to what the Law requires.  For older players, it is because they are at an age when they try to push the limits and “get away” with things (both at home and on the field).  For upper level youth, senior amateur, and pro players, it is because they are engaged in rational decision-making in order to achieve as much advantage as they can at minimal cost.

Effective mechanics for the Referee start immediately upon whistling the offense.  Free kicks are intended to be taken quickly and without interference (hence the word “free”) so one might think the Referee should begin shooing opponents away to allow this to happen.  One would be wrong.  Because the Law assumes opponents are supposed to do this automatically and immediately, Referees are advised to move away (preferably toward a position optimal for the free kick which is about to occur) and keep their mouths shut.  The attacking team, in fact, has the right to take the free kick as soon as the ball is properly placed even if there are still opponents closer than the minimum retreat distance.  A quick free kick may be advantageous to them because of any disarray among the opponents.  If the failure of all opponents to retreat to the full minimum distance hinders the attacking team’s ability to capitalize on the opponents’ confusion, the apparent kicker (not the spectators, not the coach, etc.) can request that the minimum distance be enforced.  That act, once acknowledged and announced by the Referee, turns the free kick officially into what is termed a “ceremonial” restart — i.e., from that moment, while the Referee is performing the requested service, the free kick cannot be taken except upon a signal (whistle) by the Referee.

Of course, the Referee might have turned the free kick restart into a ceremony on his or her own initiative if, for example, the event resulting in the free kick involved an injury or was the basis for a card being shown.  There are two other scenarios where the Referee might step in to turn the restart into a ceremony without being asked to do so.  One is if, in the opinion of the Referee, there are one or more opponents who are not simply failing to retreat the required ten yards but who are actively, clearly, and effectively engaged in forcing a delay in the taking of the free kick.  This can happen if an opponent takes possession of the ball and withholds it from the team given the restart or kicks the ball away, thus immediately interfering with how quickly the restart can be taken.  Another possibility is that an opponent is standing so close to the ball that no beneficial kick is even physically possible. These situations are usually considered so obvious and egregious a form of misconduct (delaying the restart of play) that it should result immediately in a caution (thus turning the free kick into a ceremonial restart anyway).  The other scenario where the Referee might step in without being asked (thus again resulting in a ceremonial restart) is if the teams are at a young enough age level that it becomes apparent they are not aware of or know how to exercise their rights in a free kick situation — usually, the look of utter confusion in the expressions of the attackers is sufficient to draw the Referee’s intervention.

So, there you have it.  No, the Referee does not get involved in shooing opponents away unless specifically asked to do so … and the asking is normally expected to come from the apparent kicker.  Only rarely and only under fairly specific conditions would the Referee intervene and, in all such cases, whether asked or not, the restart becomes ceremonial.

Restart Management

Hyung, a referee of U12 players, asks:

It’s not clear to me how to manage restarts for free kicks when the attacking team doesn’t know the procedure/options (e.g., ceremonial vs quick ).  Should the attacking team always initiate asking the Referee for a ceremonial restart? What if they don’t ask?  Is it the Referee’s duty to ask the attacking team?  A few seconds pass and it’s obvious the attacking team will not take the free kick quickly.  Also, they didn’t request enforcing the minimum distance (10 yds).  Is it at this point the Referee should take charge and do the free kick ceremonially?  If the attacking team doesn’t ask for 10, is 5 yds acceptable? Is this in the rules? Is it best for the Referee to lead in this confusing situation and restart ceremonially?


You have some good questions here, all of them pertaining to issues of correct or preferred mechanics and procedures but not so much matters of Law.  In fact, the term “ceremonial restart” is not found anywhere in the Laws of the Game — it is entirely a matter of tradition and recommended procedures.  In short, you will not find answers to any of your questions except in publications which, mostly unofficially, attempt to explain the art of refereeing.

We can, however, start with some fundamental principles and work from there.  First, the core definition of a free kick (Law 13) is a restart given to a team because the opponents have violated the Law in some way and the Referee has stopped play for it.  It is called a “free” kick because the team awarded this restart must be given the opportunity to put the ball back into play without hindrance or interference (i.e., freely).  To this end, all opponents are required by Law to retire (move away) at least ten yards from the location of the free kick in every direction.  This is a legal burden placed on the shoulders of every opponent and the Referee’s job is to punish any opponent who fails to do so (before, during, or after the kick).  In a perfect world, what should happen is that, as soon as the Referee whistles for a stoppage and signals a free kick restart (indirect or direct), all opponents hurriedly move at least ten yards away in the spirit of sporting behavior and the attacking team is able to take its free kick in a matter of seconds.

Unfortunately, this expectation is rather akin to also asking players who commit an offense to publicly admit their error, apologize to the opposing team, hand the ball over to them, and clear a path between the kick and the defending team’s goal.  Needless to say, this is not what happens in our imperfect world.  What usually occurs, depending on the circumstances of the stoppage, the temperature of the game, what’s at stake, and simple hormonal imbalances, is that some opponents will try to interfere — by not moving at all, by standing near the ball, by kicking the ball away, by blocking the likely path of the kick so as to diminish the attacking team’s ability to recover from their opponent’s commission of a violation, and other tactics limited only by the inventiveness of wily soccer players trying to gain an advantage at almost any cost.

All of this is summarized briefly in the general principle that the Referee’s obligation in these cases is to allow, expect, and protect as much as possible the taking of the quick free kick.  Why?  Because a quick free kick (a) gets play moving again — usually a good thing, (b) restores as much as possible the condition of the harmed team prior to the offense, and (d) serves as a better deterrent to future illegal acts.  The antithesis of the “quick restart” is the “ceremonial restart.”…

What Is a Kick?

A HS/College coach asks:

Is it within the laws of the game to “lift” the ball (meaning to slide your foot under and propel the ball up in the air — as opposed to striking or rolling it with your sole) on a kick-off, corner, free kick, etc.


Yes.  We think.  Probably.  Actually, the only place which specifically deals with your question is in Law 13 (Free Kicks) where it states that “a free kick can be taken by lifting the ball with a foot or both feet simultaneously” (2016/2017 edition).  So, at least for direct and indirect free kicks, the answer is clear.

What we don’t know, because the Law doesn’t mention it, is whether the same “ruling” would apply to such other restarts as penalty kicks, kick-offs, corner kicks, or goal kicks.  Because, in general, all restarts involving kicking a ball are similar in many respects, our conclusion would be that, in practice, the “lift with the foot” approved for free kicks would apply to all “kick the ball” restarts, but with the proviso that all such restarts must still be governed by any other characteristics specified in the Law.  For example, a penalty kick must still “go forward” even if lifted up.  Another example would be that, even if the ball is put into play by lifting it up with the foot (or both feet), a player who did so and then headed or volleyed the ball would still be guilty of a second touch violation.

Perhaps the reason the Law is silent on whether the “lift with the foot” kick applies to kicked-ball restarts other than free kicks is that it really makes little sense (at least as regards to the purposes and dynamics of these other restarts) to kick the ball in this particular way.  Why, for example, would a player want to take a goal kick or penalty kick using that technique?

In any event, however, the answer is absolutely clear with regards to free kicks, and probably the same for any other kicked-ball restart.…

Throwing things

From a referee in Romania:

LOG USSF edition 2015/2016  writes at page no. 128: “If a player standing inside the field of play throws an object at any person standing outside the field of play, the referee restarts play with an indirect free kick from the position of the ball when play was stopped (see Law 13 – Position of free kick).”  This situation is not presented expressly in the LOG 2016/2017.  How should we handle a situation in which, for example, the goalkeeper aggressively throws the ball at a person off the field of play?


It’s always difficult to figure out what to do when there is no explicit guidance.  The best approach is to continue doing what the Law has said in the past because the prior guidance has not been specifically modified or rejected.  So, in short, continue following the prescribed restart:  an indirect free kick where the ball was when play was stopped.  However, that said, your question also raises two issues that we might usefully address.  First, why is it an indirect free kick?  Second, what does “where the ball was” mean in practice?

Although we use an indirect free kick because this is what the Law says (or said last year, as well as for many years before), it often helps to know the reason.  The Law involving thrown objects generally is based on the notion that, whenever anything is thrown, the object becomes an extension of the hand.  For example, if a player throws a rock at an opponent during play, this is considered a form of “striking” with the rock simply standing in for the fist.  Aside from the misconduct, where is the restart for this striking?  It is where the target was struck (or where the target ducked and avoided being actually hit).  It is as though the player had run up to that opponent and swung his fist.  Where the target is off the field, then, the thrown object leaving the field means that the thrower, in effect, left the field (there is, of course, still misconduct).  What is the restart if you stop play for a player who has illegally left the field?  An indirect free kick!

Now, as to the issue of the location of the restart, we come to a problem.  Wherever in the law an indirect free kick is specified as the restart and the location is not the usual “location of the offense,” the alternate location is “where the ball was when play was stopped.” (See, for example, the restart specified in Law 4 for a player re-entering the field without permission after being ordered off to correct or change equipment).  In all such cases, the location of the ball at the time of stoppage is easily determined because the ball has remained on the field.  This is true even in the case of a thrown object where the object is not the ball, but it is not true when the object is the ball and the ball has been thrown at something off the field.  Moreover, when has play actually been stopped?  Most people assume that this occurs only upon hearing a whistle but, actually, it is when the referee has decided to stop play.  In practice, though, by the time the dust settles, two things are locked in everyone’s mind — play is stopped and the ball is off the field. Since we do not restart play from off the field, we have to come up with something else — something consistent with the spirit of the Law.  Two location possibilities come to mind.  One is where the ball was last on the field when all this started and that would be where the thrown ball crossed the field’s boundary line.  The other is where the goalkeeper was when he or she launched the throw.  Either is supportable but, for various reasons, we would recommend defining “where the ball was” based on the position of the goalkeeper (it is probably the quickest to determine and the easiest to sell).…