Unless the ball is positioned close enough on the near-side of the lead AR that
he could optionally set the wall and let me hang back nearer where I'd want to
be when the kick was actually taken, THEN chances are that the closest AR to the
ball spot is going to be at least 25, and probably more yards away, whereas as
CR I'm obviously going to be in the immediate vicinity of the FK and wall. The
AR's presence at that distance won't at all discourage an attacker inclined to
favorably fudge the spot on a free kick from attempting to do so. For the least
distant AR to intervene by either speaking directly to the fudging attacker or
else to me about what's going on behind my back, will require the AR to use a
sharp, at least somewhat loud voice, and while as CR I generally WELCOME active
help from my ARs, this is NOT AT ALL an instance where his having to intervene
because the CR's back was turned to the ball is a constructive development for
the CR's credibility and game control, necessary though it was under the
circumstances. IF the AR had to alert the CR about some sort of mischief going
on behind his back because the CR was momentarily occupied with dealing with
another urgent situation in front of him, then it's understandable he might
should need and get help from the AR, because the CR cannot be looking
everywhere at once. However, there's NOTHING so urgently demanding about
determining with foot-laser measurement accuracy where ten yards distance is
from the ball to justify the referee turning his back on a potentially
fudge-inclined attacker, when there's an abundance of sufficiently accurate
heuristic methods for determining close-enough where "at least" ten yards is
(besides, walking off the distance isn't even all that accurate to begin with).
Let's assume the CR does have his back to the ball, the attacker fudges, the AR
intervenes, and we need to restore the ball to the proper spot. Neither team is
going to be inclined to completely trust that either the CR or AR accurately
indicated the proper original spot, the AR because he was at least 25-30 yards
distant and didn't know more accurately than within 2-3 yards to begin with (he
only knew for sure that the attacker was fudging the spot), the CR because he
had his back turned when it happened.
Let's just say I've been there, done that with turning my back on the ball on a
free kick in a very competitive BU16 game, and DID get help from my ARs spotting
each team's attackers trying to fudge the ball on free kicks while I was setting
the wall. I learned as much as I ever want to that game about exactly why
turning your back on either the ball or the wall while setting it is a very
THE REASON most refs don't give ten yards isn't because they don't step it
off...it's because they lack the will to determinedly force the wall back far
enough, at least unless they step it off. I don't need to do that to know what
"at least" ten yards is by visual estimation, using a variety of clues (e.g. for
just one, how tall are the players?)
The other problem with explicitly pacing off ten yards is that it's extremely
difficult to perform without having your back turned to the ball while doing so.
This presents an opportunity for an attacker to move the ball forward from
where it should be placed (and where your ten yards is being measured from) -
which some attackers on some teams WILL find an irresistible invitation to do
so. The worst problem for the referee when this happens isn't dealing with the
yard or two closer distance or better angle the attacker tries to fudge behind
the referee's back, but rather the seeds of dissension between the teams and
toward the referee this can spark off. Even if you make the attackers move the
ball back where it was supposed to be, both teams know it happened while you
weren't looking, and neither team will have full confidence you have truly
accurate memory of where it was really supposed to be.
Don't turn your back on *either* the ball or the defensive players who will be
in the wall on an impending free kick (!!) Learn what ten yards looks like, and
move the wall back while facing sideways to both, so you keep both in view!
While not wishing to seem to speak for those who judge the "10-yard pace-off" as
unprofessional, I can envision that the style of pacing-off that is
objectionable involves the referee walking to the ball, turning, pausing, and
stereotypically marching ten exact paces toward goal - hoping that no defenders
need to be pushed or cajoled out of the path on the way.
My main objection to this method is that it is unnecessary. If the field
markings do not make the correct distance obvious, the only thing the referee
need do is sell the call, that this point right here is, ITOOTR, 10 yards. "If
you don't like my 10, try giving me more than 7 to start with. And you'll get
the same call at your end of the field."
> I have seen a lot of good and competent referees pace off the 10 yards -
> even at high levels. And of course, I saw Collina do it - deliberately and
> with his back to the ball - in the last WC he refereed. I do it sometimes
> when it serves a purpose. Not sure what makes it so unprofessional.
> On Wed, Feb 2, 2011 at 8:35 PM, Jim Geissman wrote:
> > Also, it says it's "unprofessional" for a ref to visibly pace off 10
> > yards. The ref in the video visibly paces off 10 yards every time.
> > Oh, really, if you walk backwards, then that's not visible?