Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

No Change to Free-Kick Rule, Say FA

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

No Change to Free-Kick Rule, Say FA

Article excerpt

Byline: ADRIAN CURTIS

THE Football Association today said players are perfectly entitled to take quick free-kicks, despite public complaints by managers Arsene Wenger and Graeme Souness.

The controversy over free-kicks has dominated the post-match comments for two nights running. Wenger insisted his Arsenal side had been expecting referee Jeff Winter to blow his whistle before Ian Harte took the set-piece to score the opening goal in Leeds' 2-1 win at Highbury on Tuesday.

Wenger said: "How can you build up a wall when the guy is just allowed to shoot? It was ridiculous to concede a goal like that. I don't think it should be accepted."

Souness was upset at referee Alan Wiley allowing David Beckham's equaliser to stand in the 2-2 draw with Manchester United at Ewood Park last night, as Craig Short was still leaving the pitch after being sent off.

"All night the referee's been saying 'wait until I blow my whistle'. You have to say it was great play by David Beckham but it's inconsistency," said Souness.

The intention is to give the initiative to the attacking side by allowing them to take a free-kick without needing to wait for the referee's whistle - unless they request the wall be moved back.

FA spokesman Adrian Bevington explained: "The initiative must always be with the attacking side, the team that have been offended against.

"They are perfectly entitled to take a quick free-kick and the referees are actively encouraged to keep the game moving in that respect.

"However, if the player taking the free-kick, or indeed one of his team-mates, asks the referee to move the wall or any defender back, they must then wait for the official to give the instruction as to when to take the free-kick.

"That would then give the defending team the time to prepare their wall."

Former top referee Roger Milford has However, there has been no significant change in the rules this season, with the position on quick free-kicks having been reemphasised to clubs this summer at their refereeing forum. …

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