Women's World Cup 2019: Spain invent trick to get around Fifa's new free-kick rule

New rules designed to stop interference with defensive wall

Mark Critchley
Sunday 09 June 2019 11:17
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Spain’s players at the Women’s World Cup have found a way around Fifa’s new rules designed to stop interference with defensive walls on free-kicks.

The new rules, which came into effect on 1 June, state that players from the attacking team are no longer allowed to stand within one metre of the defensive wall.

During the first half of their Group B match against South Africa, three Spain players – Jennifer Hermoso, Virginia Torrecilla and Amanda Sempedro – circumvented this rule change by forming a wall of their own.

The Spanish wall initially stood one metre in front of the South Africans to block their view of the free-kick.

Then, as the free-kick was taken by Maria Pilar Leon, her three Spain team-mates dispersed quickly to move out of the ball’s way and distract the South African defenders.

León’s attempt at goal was off target, dropping a few inches over the crossbar, but Spain went on to win 3-1 with Hermoso scoring twice from the penalty spot.

The new rules designed to stop interference with defensive walls will be enforced across both the men’s and women’s game from hereon, including next season’s Premier League and Champions League.

World football’s rule-making body, the the International Football Association Board (IFAB), decided to change the rules as attacking players in the wall caused “management problems” and “wasted time”.

“There is no legitimate tactical justification for attackers to be in the ‘wall’ and their presence is against the ‘spirit of the game’ and often damages the image of the game,” their report said.

IFAB has also changed the rules regarding handball, which can now be punished even if the offence is not deliberate, and goal kicks no longer need to leave the penalty area.

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