While waiting for the attacking team to take its corner kick, the attackers and defenders are in the penalty area jockeying for position. What rules apply to the attackers, defenders and goalkeeper during this time period, before the kick is actually taken, in regards to establishing a position? I have seen attackers deliberately standing and jumping in front of the goalkeeper in order to try and block the view of the corner kick. I have also seen pushing, shoving, pulling, and bumping by attackers and defenders, who are trying to stay in front of the other player and who are trying to block the other player. Is this misconduct? Is this cautionable? Should a referee take some action to stop this type of activity?

USSF answer (October 23, 2008):
Except under certain conditions spelled out in the Laws (such as at a penalty kick or throw-in or goal kick), a player is permitted to stand wherever he or she wishes. After the ball is put in play, a player who — without playing or attempting to play the ball — jumps up and down in front of the goalkeeper to block the ‘keeper’s vision or otherwise interferes with the ‘keeper’s ability to play the ball is committing the foul of impeding an opponent. If there is contact initiated by the player doing this, the foul becomes holding or pushing. When such activity occurs, the referee should immediately stop the restart and warn the players to conduct themselves properly. If, after the warning (and before the restart), they do it anyway, they have committed unsporting behavior and should be cautioned. The restart remains the same.

Before the ball is in play, the referee can simply allow the opponent of the ‘keeper to impede, wait for the corner kick to occur, blow the whistle, award an indirect free kick coming out, and card if needed.  This is the “harsh” approach and it carries the danger, provided the jostling doesn’t sufficiently enrage the the goalkeeper (or any other defender), that the tensions pr violence will escalate to something more serious.  It is also not a good approach when it is an attacker who is doing the jostling.

The referee can see the situation developing and verbally and/or by a closer presence encourage correct behavior on the part of the jostlers in the hope that they will cease their misbehavior.  This is the “proactive” (some would call it the “wimpy”) approach and is more likely to prevent escalation, if it works. If it doesn’t work, the referee can always hold up the corner kick, caution, and then signal the restart or go to the option above.

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