My question pertains to a proper re-start, specifically who the referee is suppose to respond to when determining whether or not to utilize a second whistle.

I’m confused on this point and apparently there are 2 different interpretations, according to the Guide to Procedures and USSF classroom instruction provided last month. The 2009-10 Laws of the Game does not address this specific question, but simply states (p.29), “If, when a free kick is taken, an opponent is closer to the ball than the required distance: the kick is retaken.” According to the 2009-10 Guide to Procedures (p.28), the referee should “allow a quick free kick, without the necessity of a second signal, except where the kicker indicates a need.” During my USSF refresher, I asked this question to the instructor and he indicated that anyone from the kicking team can ask for the required distance and as a referee you are obligated to provide a second whistle at that point (if the defenders are indeed clearly less than the required distance to the ball).

In being in and around the game for over 35 years, as a fan, player, coach, and the last 10 years, as a referee, my understanding and according to the Guide to Procedures, that only the kicker can create the need for a second whistle. Is it basically being up the referees’ discretion? Or is it that anyone can ask for the required distance (a teammate on and/or off the field, coaching staff, or spectators) and be granted with a second whistle?

USSF answer (August 11, 2009):
We see no conflict here; provided the referee is satisfied the request is in the best interests of the kicking team, it makes no difference who on that team requests it. There is often confusion in any case as to who will take the kick, so the specific reference to “the kicker” can include any member of that team. However, the referee pays no attention to anyone OTHER than a player of the attacking team (no coaches, substitutes, spectators, color commentators, etc.).

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