I note that your answers regarding whether a “statue” standing in front of a free kick is “sporting” refers individuals to the directives to determine whether the referee should caution the player. Yet in one of the questions regarding a wall being moved back at which time the kicking team took a quick kick and scored, you unequivocally state that one of the players in the wall should have been cautioned for unsporting behavior and that this is the coaching of illegal tactics.
I completely agree with your conclusion but can find no substantiating concept in the directives.
I also find the “statue” situation to be commonly disregarded by virtually all referees and ask the question, “How did the statue conveniently happen to be standing right where the kicking team placed the ball for the free kick?” Immediately followed by, “Is the kicking team really silly enough to have intentionally placed the ball directly between an opponent’s feet?
I believe we both are aware that the “statue” has usually taken at least one step and therefore should meet the test of “deliberately” and therefore needs to be cautioned, at least verbally if not with a YC.
USSF answer (April 13, 2010):
For the enlightenment of those referees and other readers who did not see the two references to the directive on Managing Free Kicks in the earlier answers, we repeat them here:
June 11, 2009:
Finally, as the directive implores officials, preventative measures should be utilized. Upon seeing players who act as a “statue” in front of the ball or who are less than 10 yards, referees should use presence to move the defender back and prevent further occurrences.
October 20, 2009:
A situation that may result in a caution for intercepting is the “statue” that is mentioned in the Directive. A player may move within several feet of the ball/restart and NOT “deliberately prevent” because he does not lunge at the ball with his foot but the referee judges his actions are cautionable because the player’s actions were, in general terms, preventing the ball from being put into play quickly. For example, a player who has been warned on prior occasions from running directly in front of the ball (thereby becoming a “statue”) to slow the restart. These involve situations in which the referee has, most likely, tried preventative measures and the player(s) have not responded because they are using it as an unfair “tactic.”
Opposing players who move to the ball and thus attempt to delay or otherwise interfere with the kick have been a problem for many years. Why? Because referees have failed to deal with them as the Laws require.
The directives are meant to give referees guidance on how to deal with the various topics they cover. If, as you point out, referees choose to not recognize the occasions for properly managing and educating players, that is poor refereeing and failure to enforce the Laws of the Game.
A final cautionary note to all referees:
“Should have been cautioned” does not equal “must be cautioned.” No caution is mandatory, all are discretionary, although some are less discretionary than others. The referee MUST recognize that this is misconduct — that is the first portal. The referee must also recognize that this form of misconduct has consequences that can be serious if the misconduct is not dealt with.
The referee must recognize that some misconduct is performed so obviously and blatantly that it would be foolish in the extreme to fail to caution.
The referee must recognize that the failure to give a caution for such an instance of misconduct is going to draw the attention of the assessor who will likely downgrade the referee’s performance evaluation in the absence of a really compelling argument from the referee who put serious thought into the matter and made a reasoned decision.