Enforcement of 10 Yards for Free Kick

The Laws of the Game (FIFA, USSF, and FXA) require that after a foul is committed, the team committing the foul MUST immediately retreat 10 yards and not attempt to prevent or delay the team that was fouled from restarting play.

The team taking the kick DOES NOT have to ask the opponents to retreat 10 yards on a restart, the opponent is required by the laws of the game to retreat automatically.

If the opponent(s) who committed a foul fail to retreat the 10 yards automatically, and thus delay or prevent the restart of the play, the Laws of the Game REQUIRE the referee to caution the player(s) delaying the restart.

Further Clarification of the 10 Yard Issue: Referees recognize that an opponent, after committing a foul, will seek to regain a tactical advantage by preventing the team that was fouled from restarting play. Referees are taught NOT to interfere with the retaking of a kick by enforcing the 10 yard law if such an action could rob a team of a quick restart. Some teams like to restart very quickly to catch the defense off guard. A referee who interrupts their restart to enforce the 10 yards would thus penalize the team taking the kick.

  • Likewise, although any player on the team taking the restart can request the 10 yards be enforced, most referees are trained to heed the request only from the one or two players setting up to take the restart. Why? Well just imagine a winger 12-14 yards away screaming for 10 yards, but the player taking the kick sees the opportunity for a quick restart to score a goal because the defense and goalie are out of position. The referee, hearing the winger yell for 10 yards, attempts to halt play just as the person taking the rekick takes the kick and scores! Now the referee has to disallow the goal and bring it back to enforce the 10 yards. The kicker is furious, the team is protesting, and suddenly that winger is nowhere to be found or owning up to his requesting 10 yards be enforced. Hence, a smart referee will watch what the player taking the rekick is doing, and will take his cues from that player alone.