Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And the answer is ...

Back on 11-JAN-11, I posed a video clip and a question. Here is the video again:

The answers (with poll percentages) were:
A. Caution Purple #5 ==> 0%
B. Caution Purple #11 ==> 28%
C. Caution Orange GK (#21) ==> 0%
D. A and B ==> 57%
E. A, B and C ==> 7%
F. None of the above ==> 7%

My answer is B, with a restart of an IFK for Orange at the edge of the penalty area where #11 entered. Here is why ...

For this answer please refer to the 2010/2011 LOTG here, Advice to Referees here, and FIFA Questions and Answers from 2006 here.

First, we are well in Law 14 (Penalty Kick) on p. 30 of the LOTG. Here the law states that the ball must be placed on the penalty mark, and the kicker must be properly identified.

Regarding the ball, if the field is marked properly, there is a spot, not a line, indicating where the ball goes during a penalty. This spot should be 9" in diameter, which is not surprisingly just about the diameter of a #5 ball that is used in older youth and adult matches as detailed in law 2.

Mechanics tip: Let the players place the ball. It is not the referee's kick and there is considerable pressure on the kicker generally. It's their game, let the players play it by allowing them to place their own ball.

Also ... it is hard to refute that the player who places the ball on the spot is not properly identifying themselves as the kicker.

But what is proper identification? Where is this defined?

You guessed it folks ... its not. A fair reading would imply that this is a measure to allow the goal keeper to know who the player is that will be taking the kick to avoid the trickery that we exactly see in the video. In the :30 point of the video, when #5 places the ball on the spot, I would opine he is properly identifying himself to the goalkeeper and referee that he is the one that is going to take the kick.

Now, can a player change their mind after they place the ball they want someone else to take the kick? You bet!! However as a referee you would need to be somewhat ceremonial about it to assure that the change in kicker was understood by at the very least the keeper ... and frankly the more public you can make it the better, for everyone's sake.

Now clearly that was not the case here as the #5 walks away from the ball, but continues to participate in the ruse by walking away from the ball and not leaving the penalty area after the referee blows the whistle to take the kick at :47 (as the referee is required to do). Note this matters as if all of this happened *before* the whistle we would have a very different result.

At this point the #11 comes in and scores the penalty.

Now, if you look at the law you make be tempted to look at p. 31 and begin to apply the section on "A team-mate of the player taking the kick infringes the Laws of the Game." This makes logical sense as it would seem clear that the #11 created this mess. You however would need to look a little deeper for this answer.

Refer to the 2006 Q&A on the LOTG from FIFA. Specifically question #4 on p. 35. From that text:

4. When a penalty kick is being taken, and after the referee has given the necessary signal, a team-mate of the player identiļ¬ed to take the  kick suddenly rushes forward and takes it instead. What action does  the referee take?

The referee stops play and restarts the match with an indirect free kick to the defending team where the infringement occurred i.e. where the player advanced closer than 9.15m. The player is cautioned for unsporting behaviour.

This is also reinforced in the Advise to Referees document which states in relevant part on p. 75:

The exceptions to the above chart (this is the magic PK chart) of decisions are:
• If an attacker other than the identified kicker takes the penalty kick, play is restarted with an
indirect free kick for the opposing team where the attacker illegally entered the penalty arc or
penalty area, regardless of the outcome of any kick that may have been performed by this

• If the kicker plays the ball backward (any direction other than forward), play is restarted with an
indirect free kick for the opposing team at the penalty mark, regardless of any further play that
may result from the kicker’s action.

From this it would seem clear that we have at least an IFK out. What about the caution? FIFA says book the player running in, US Soccer is silent on it.

For the professional match on the video, I book #11 as the FIFA guideline states. I do this for (2) reasons. (1) What he did was really against the spirit of the game, so a caution for USB works for me. (2) FIFA's Q&A, while not the law, state how they want it interpreted. Following FIFA's interpretation in a professional match is not a bad thing, and will keep you out of trouble in their eyes. Note however, there is latitude here. The laws do not require a caution, so if #11 is under a caution, I would have to think an extra second.

Regarding #5, you certainly could caution him. Would I personally in that professional match? No. Denying a goal, and booking a player I think would be just about as much as a team could take. Adding another caution onto that for, yes, being part of the trickery would be a legitimate caution, but somewhat "ticky tack" in my opinion and may invite issues longer term. Legitimate? Yes. Required? No. Desired? No. A different match may yield a different result including not cautioning anyone, or both players involved.

Regarding the keeper, I would not caution him for moving early, he fell prey to the ruse that was being done to him and no more.

... and my opinion about the penalty in the first place. Based on the excellent camera angle ... no way =)


  1. Wouldn't the IFK coming out be at the edge of the penalty area (or arc) where #11 infringed?

  2. Anon ... you are 100% correct. The post has been amended to reflect this.