The same question(s) applying to two different codes, football (soccer as you call it) and futsal:

A team, who was ahead by two goals is scored against with two minutes left to play, leaving them with only a one goal lead. The ball is correctly placed for kick-off (as are all players), and the referee signals for the kick-off to be taken. The team taking the kick-off, after a reasonable amount of time, refuses to take the kick-off.

1) Should the player closest to the ball be cautioned for delaying the restart of play?

2) If after being cautioned, the player still refuses to take the kick-off, what action should the referee take?

3) Is abandoning the match a possibility, should the team refuse to take the kick-off in a timely manner (especially in competitions with no additional time)?

4) Do your answers differ between futsal and football?

USSF answer (January 23, 2010):
1. If the kicking team excessively delays the taking of the kick-off, the referee certainly has the power to caution a player for that reason.

2. a. If, after the caution, the player still refuses to take the kick-off, the player could be cautioned a second time and then sent off for receiving a second caution in the same match.
2. b. The referee would then suggest to the team that someone else should take the kick-off — and add that time is being added for the entire time of the delay, so that the team knows their refusal to restart will save them no time at all.

3. Yes, abandoning the match is a possibility, but the referee should work to get it finished properly. (See 2.b., above, which could also be applied at Steps 1 or 2.a.)

4. Yes, they do differ.

A caution is not mandated in the Futsal Laws of the Game because the referee should simply call the 4-second violation for failing to restart play within the 4 seconds, and then award an indirect free kick to the opposing team. However, if the previous offending team then interferes with the indirect free kick restart, a caution would be in order for the player who interferes with the restart.

It is noteworthy in the scenario you describe that in the Futsal laws of the game, the clock is not restarted until the ball is correctly put back into play. Hence, there is no real advantage for the team to delay the restart.

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