Men’s amateur match, free kick 35 yards from goal. The attacker is getting in position to kick the ball. There is no indication of a ceremonial kick (ie whistle held high with “my whistle” command). Two defending players are 6-7 yards from ball. The referee is encouraging them to retire. “Get back, get back” with appropriate hand gesture. Quick kick is taken and a goal results. Defenders including goalkeeper are “frozen” and do not move appropriately to the ball. In this case should the goal be allowed or kick recalled? Did the referee involvement constitute indicating a ceremonial kick?

USSF answer (October 22, 2008):
The Advice to Referees tells us:

Law 13 requires all opponents to be at least ten yards away in all directions from the location of any free kick and it is the duty of these opponents to retreat the required distance as quickly as possible without being directed by the referee to do so.  It is also the right of the team which has been given the free kick to start play quickly even if one or more opponents have not yet moved back the required distance, provided the other requirements of Law 13 have been met.

The referee should move quickly out of the way after indicating the approximate area of the restart and should do nothing to interfere with the kicking team’s right to an immediate free kick.  At competitive levels of play, referees should not automatically “manage the wall,” but should allow the ball to be put back into play as quickly as possible, unless the kicking team requests help in dealing with opponents infringing on the minimum distance.

However, it also mentions in 13.3:

If the referee decides to delay the restart and to enforce the required minimum distance, the referee must quickly and emphatically indicate to the attackers that they may not restart play until given a clear signal to do so.

If the referee in your case interfered with the defending team’s sole right in a free kick, not to be confused by the referee, then the goal does not count and the kick must be retaken.

We feel that the referee’s action did NOT constitute turning the free kick into a ceremony.  His fussbudgety verbalizations were poor mechanics.  Our advice: Do one thing (make it a ceremony and quickly declare that the kick may not be taken without a whistle) or the other (shut up), but not both.

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