Soccer Failure To Respect Required Distance

Soccer Failure To Respect Required Distance

When a play is restarted in soccer, players are required to stay behind a predetermined boundary in order to ensure a clean restart. Failure to respect the minimum required distance, and thereby hindering the play, will result in a yellow card for the offending player.


Failure to respect required distance is a cautionable offense in soccer which is given when a player oversteps the boundary that is put in place during the restart of a play. The boundary is put in place to ensure the kicker’s team has a fair, unhindered restart to a play. This offense might occur during throw-ins, corner kicks, free kicks, or dropped balls, each of which has its own minimum required distance. The player or players who violate the minimum required distance will receive a yellow card.

When the referee determines a restart must be made, he or she will signal for all players to retreat to the minimum required distance from the spot where the ball will be put back into play. The minimum distance across all leagues, levels, and ages remains ten yards (9.15 meters) for corner kicks and free kicks, 4.5 yards (four meters) for a dropped ball, and two yards (1.8 meters) for a throw-in. The distance must be respected at all angles away from the ball.


The failure to respect the minimum distance on a restart is considered a cautionable offense resulting in a yellow card across all leagues, ages, and levels of play. In more advanced or professional leagues, which are more fast-paced, some referees may be slightly more lenient so long as the minimum distance is not flagrantly violated. 

Referee Signal

soccer referee signal yellow card

When a player fails to respect the required distance away from the ball as it is being put into play, referees will give a caution signal with a yellow card. They will blow the whistle to halt the game and raise the card with one hand, keeping the other at their side. The referee will also indicate which player the yellow card is being assessed to.


  • Three defenders prematurely rush towards the ball during a free kick, breaking the ten-yard boundary.  
  • A defender oversteps the two-yard minimum distance during a throw-in in an attempt to headbutt the ball away.
  • An attacker is over eager to assist their teammate and rushes past the boundary of a corner kick.  

Similar Violations to Failure To Respect Required Distance

  • Delaying the Restart of Play
  • Entering the Referee Review Area
  • Entering the Field Without the Referee’s Permission


What is failure to respect required distance in soccer?

Failure to respect the required distance means that a player has gotten too close to the ball when a play is being restarted. The violation might occur during a dropped ball, corner kick, throw-in, or free kick. Players must abide by the designated boundaries from all angles while the ball is put into play, or they will receive a yellow card. 

What are the consequences of being called for failure to respect required distance in soccer?

Failure to respect the required distance is a cautionable offense, meaning that a referee will give the offending player a yellow card. If the same player or players continue to commit the offense, they may receive a red card and consequently a sendoff from the game.

What is the required distance between the ball and defenders for a set piece in soccer?

The minimum required distance between the ball and defenders for a set piece is ten yards (9.15 meters) for free kicks or corner kicks. For a dropped ball, the required distance is 4.5 yards (4 meters). For a throw-in, the required distance is two yards (1.8 meters).