Hello all! I'm in the process of drafting a proposed rule change to IFAB (FIFA's committee on the laws of the game), and I'd like some insight/advice from you experts. I've even started an online petition that's ready for signatures, but I want to fine-tune the verbage before I get it rolling. That's why I'm here. Any help would be greatly appreciated! This has to do with the way defenders hold attackers back to allow a ball to roll over the defender's goal line for a goal kick. We've all seen it. Over the last five years or so the defender has taken more and more liberties and is now at the point where he literally pushes the attacker back, and uses eagle-type outstretched arms to hold the opponent back. As we all know, under Law 12, the defender is only guilty of impedance if the ball is out of playable distance or if he has no intention of playing the ball. In this case, he certainly doesn't want to play the ball, so to avoid the indirect free kick, he must stay within playing distance (generally recognized by FIFA as 1 yard). This is one area that referees miss, because the ball is quite often two or three yards away when the defender begins his shielding process. This could be solved simply by FIFA requiring referees to better enforce the rule. The tricky part comes when the defender initiates the contact, either by pushing the attacker, backing up into him, or using any part of either arm to shield the ball (all common occurrences). This is a violation of Law 12, referred to as Holding, and should result in a direct free kick to the attacking team. The reason this is tricky is because oftentimes this is occurring in the fringes of a defender's own penalty area, and technically the referee should award a penalty kick. As referees, which of you would be comfortable doing so, even if it's clearly defined in the laws of the game as requiring you to? Exactly. So the laws of the game leave the referee in a bit of a quandary in these instances. And to make matters worse, there has been quite a bit of pushing and shoving after the fact when a defender takes it too far in shielding the ball, and I've seen many attackers left flat on their backs, then jumping up into the defender's face once the goal kick has been awarded (and understandably so). I'm sure most of you have seen it too. But what is to be done? How can the law be changed to prevent this? Well, I have an idea (in the form of a rule change), and the verbage of it is what I'd like advice on. Or it's possible that someone might have a completely different solution altogether. I welcome all intelligent (or semi-intelligent) commentary on this, because I plan to put together a professional package to IFAB's members, with video evidence. I already have the names and addresses of all the board members for FIFA, the English FA, the Scottish FA, the Welsh FA, and the Irish FA, and as I said, I have the online petition ready for signatures once I fine-tune this. I think this is a worthwhile idea, and for those of you who help, it may give you some satisfaction to see the game improved if IFAB accepts the amendment at its February 2006 meeting. My current proposal is below (pardon any repetition of information above). There are references to the video evidence as well, but ignore those for this purpose: Proposed change to Law 12 of the game of football as set forth by FIFA, specifically regarding how free kicks are awarded in response to impeding/holding an opponent Problem: A defender makes deliberate and/or unsafe movements (up to and including contacting an attacking player) in an attempt to allow a ball to run over the defender’s goal line for a goal kick. Many instances of dangerous contact and violent reactions could be prevented with a simple rule change. Under current FIFA laws, an indirect free kick will be awarded to a team when a player impedes the progress of an opponent, UNLESS: a) the ball is within the player’s immediate playable reach (generally regarded as being within one yard of the player), -or- b) the player clearly intends to play the ball Because of the “or” status above, a player is not required to intend to play the ball as long as the ball remains within playing distance. In the “problem” in question, the defender clearly does not have the intention of playing the ball, so to be within the current laws of the game, the defender must: a) keep the ball within playable distance (i.e. one yard) b) not contact the attacking player (i.e. by backing into him) c) not use his/her arms to hold the attacker away In almost every instance noted, the defender did one or more of the following three things: a) Made contact with the attacking player (usually by backing up into him) b) Held attacking player back with outstretched or semi-outstretched arms c) Impeded the attacking player’s progress when the ball was not in playing range Note that a) and b) above are considered “Holding” pursuant to the laws of the game, and must be penalized with a direct free kick, and c) above constitutes impedance, which must be penalized with an indirect free kick. In the case in point, a penalty kick would then be awarded for a) and b) in many circumstances (i.e. when the infraction occurred within the defender’s penalty area)! The purpose of this proposed rule change is NOT to interfere with the spirit of the game in any way, and as such, is not intended to result in penalty kicks for “fringe” infractions. We propose, therefore, that possession of the ball should only occur AFTER the ball has been touched by the player. No shielding of the ball should be allowed until after the ball has been touched by that player, thereby eliminating any reason for a player to allow a ball to run over his/her own goal line. This would eliminate any confusion on behalf of the referee regarding which type of free kick to award, and it would solve the penalty kick issue. After the rule change goes into effect, the defender will be forced to either play the ball, feign a clearing attempt to allow the ball to run over the goal line, accept the indirect free kick for impedance, or simply get out of the way. I am not married to this idea or the exact verbage, but I'd like to do something to address this. Anyone please feel free to comment!