Indirect free kick for attacking team just outside the (opponents’) penalty area. An opponent moves closer to the spot of the kick before it’s taken and then he deliberately touches the ball with his handles. Ok caution, but retaken indirect free kick (for infraction law 13 – distance) or penalty kick (for handling)?
USSF answer (December 3, 2007):
We presume you meant that the opponent handled the ball rather than touched the ball with his handles (plus, we are not entirely sure where his handles would be).
What you describe is a classic example of the section in Law 5 that requires the referee to punish the more serious violation when a player commits two or more offenses simultaneously. Here, the opponent violated Law 12 by failing to retreat the required minimum distance (and compounded his offense by clearly interfering with the free kick). For this alone, the referee would stop play, caution the opponent, and restart by having the IFK retaken. However, the opponent also committed a foul by touching the ball with his hands after it had been put into play. For this alone, the referee would stop play, caution the opponent for committing a tactical foul if appropriate, and restart with a DFK (or, in this case, a PK if the handling occurred inside the opponent’s own penalty area).
Given that the two infringements were committed at the same time, the referee should stop play, caution for the failure to respect the required distance, and restart with a DFK (or PK if the handling occurred inside the opponent’s own penalty area). There is no issue of sending off the opponent for interfering with an obvious goal scoring opportunity because a goal cannot be scored directly from an indirect free kick.