I was just wondering what constituted a "header" under this rule?
While walking around between matches at a tournament this weekend, I saw an odd call by the CR in a U12 match. There was a defending player running down the field with his head and body faced away from a pass that ended up hitting him in the back of the neck. The kid had no clue it was coming towards him, but the official gave a direct free kick from just outside the box.
There were a number of issues that I saw with the call: 1) it hit him in the neck instead of the head 2) direct instead of indirect? and 3) he had no clue it was coming.
my understanding is that 1) in opinion of ref it the player in the head area. 2) I thought the restart is indirect. 3) intent is not part of the equation. Nor is "advantage" or "benefit". If the ball hits the head of a U-12 or under player, the game stops. Period. I am sure someone who is more qualified will be able to answer this more definitively.
"In the event a player, in the discretion of the referee, intentionally heads the ball in a game at the U12 level of competition or younger, the referee shall immediately stop play and award the opposing team an indirect free kick." (emphasis mine)