Touching and Recovery of a Free Kick; Illegal Touching
a. No Team A player may touch a free-kicked ball until after:
1. It touches a Team B player (Exception: Rules 6-1-4 and 6-5-1b);
2. It breaks the plane of and remains beyond Team B’s restraining line (Exception:Rule 6-4-1); or
Approved Ruling 2-12-5 I. A free kick breaks the plane of Team B’s restraining line. While the ball is in the air, A1, who is behind Team B’s restraining line, touches the ball. RULING: Legal touching (Rule 6-1-3b).
3. It touches any player, the ground, an official or anything else beyond Team B’s restraining line.
Thereafter, all players of Team A become eligible to touch, recover or catch the kick.
b. Any other touching by Team A is illegal touching, a violation that, when the ball becomes dead, gives the receiving team the privilege of taking the ball at the spot of the violation.
c. If there is an accepted penalty for a live-ball foul by either team, or if there are offsetting fouls, the illegal touching privilege is canceled.
Approved Ruling 6-1-3 I. A33 illegally touches a free kick; then he or A44 illegally recovers the kick. RULING: Illegal touching by both A33 and A44. Unless there is an accepted penalty or offsetting fouls, Team B may elect to take the ball at any spot of the illegal touching.
d. Illegal touching in Team A’s end zone is ignored.
Approved Ruling 6-1-3 II. Team A executes an on-side free kick at the A-35. The untouched kick is at the A-43 when A55 blocks B44 above the waist in the front at the A-46. A28 muffs the ball at the A-44, and after it rolls to the A-46, A88 blocks B22 at the A-42. A20 then recovers the ball at the A-44. RULING: The block by A55 is a foul and the touching by A28 is illegal, because Team A is not eligible to touch the ball since it has not gone 10 yards nor has it been touched by Team B. The block by A88 is legal because it occurs after the ball has gone 10 yards. Team A is in legal possession of the ball when A20 recovers it at the A-44. Team B has two options: Decline the penalty for the illegal block and have the ball at the A-44 via the illegal-touching privilege, or cancel the illegal-touching privilege by having Team A re-kick from the A-30 after the 5-yard penalty for the block by A55. Note that the dead-ball spot, the A-44, is not an enforcement spot because the ball does not belong to Team B when the down ends. (Rule 6-1-12)