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'The right call', by Ref. Vangelis January 2006

January 4 2006

Ref. Vangelis,

A player sits on his bottom inside the penalty area right next to the line (edge of the penalty area) and trips an attacking player with his feet outside the penalty area.
Is that a penalty kick? I believe it is where the ball is and not where the defensive player body is.


Answer: Law 12 states that “a direct free kick is taken from where the offence occurred”. Therefore, the correct decision for this question would be a direct free kick outside the penalty area where the opponent was tripped and not a penalty kick.

The location of the ball and the location of the defensive player do not matter. All that matters is the location of where the offense occurred. The tripping of the attacking player, as described in this incident, was outside the penalty area.

The answer to this question would have been different if this incident occurred prior to 2001. Please let me clarify: As mentioned above, Law 12 states that “a direct free kick is taken from where the offence occurred”. There is no change in the law of the game as far as this statement goes. However, decision 1 of the International Football Association Board published up to the 2000-1 season stated that: “A penalty kick is awarded if, while the ball is in play, the goalkeeper, inside his own penalty area, strikes or attempts to strike an opponent by throwing the ball at him”.

This interpretation was also to be applied not just the goalkeeper but to any other player. Based on IFAB decision 1, the referee was to recognize that the intent initiated in the penalty area and penalize the incident accordingly. As we can see with this interpretation, the application of law 12 to “take a free kick from where the offence occurred” was not quite fitting when it came to territory close to the penalty area.

In 2001 the IFAB clarified this situation and removed decision 1 from the law of the game. This way the application of law 12 is the same everywhere on the field of play. Instead of penalizing where the intent of the opponent initiated, the referee penalizes the foul and restarts with a direct free kick at the place where the offense occurred.

Questions and answers to the law of the game published by FIFA in 2005 address a similar situation under Fouls and Misconduct.

Question #11 states that “While the ball is in play, a player standing inside his own penalty area throws an object at an opponent standing outside the penalty area. What action does the referee take? Answer: He stops play and sends off the player who threw the object for violent conduct. Play is restarted with a direct free kick to the opponent’s team taken from the place where the offense occurred, e.g., where the object struck or would have struck the opponent.

All of us - players, coaches, spectators and most importantly referees must try to keep up with the law changes every year. This way we can minimize mistakes especially those that can determine the outcome of the game such as calling or not calling a PK.

Ref. Vangelis

January 11 2006

Ref. Vangelis,

Without realizing, a referee let a team play in 12 against 11. At a certain moment the '12' team scored and after that the referee realized the anomaly. What happens then? Start the game over? Erase the goal and take out the extra player? Punish in some way the guilty team?

Coach Gianni

Answer: There are several parts of the law of the game that can help us come to the right decision.

First, Law 3 states that “A match is played by two teams, each consisting of not more than eleven players, one of whom is the goalkeeper”. There is no doubt that the team with the 12 players has an unfair advantage over the team with the 11 players and is in violation of Law 3.

Second, Law 5 states that “The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play are final. The referee may only change a decision on realizing that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee, provided that he has not restarted play”. In the scenario given above, it appears that the referee realized the problem after the goal was scored but the game had not been restarted. Therefore he could have corrected the situation.

Third, Law 12 states that “A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he enters or re-enters the field of play without the referee’s permission. Obviously in this scenario, someone entered the field of play without the referee’s permission.

So the correct decision is to disallow the goal and restart with a goal kick. Before the game is restarted, the referee must caution and remove the 12th player from the field of play. The person to be cautioned and removed would be whoever was not listed on the team roster as a “starter” or who had not already been formally substituted for a “starter”, more likely one of the named substitutes on the team roster.

Note: If the referee does not discover the extra player until after the kick-off, the goal remains valid and may not be taken away. The referee must report the incident to the proper authority. Also, if the team with the 11 players scores a goal, the goal is valid. They have done nothing wrong and they should not be penalized.

Ref. Vangelis

January 18 2006

Ref. Vangelis,

Last week 2 teams came to the field with the same colored shirts and neither one had an alternative color. To wear a net vest would cover the numbers.
What can a referee do in this circumstance?

Coach Gianni

Answer: Law 4 states that “jersey or shirt, shorts, stockings, shin-guards and footwear are basic compulsory equipment of a player”. The same law also states under the Decision of the International Football Association Board that “Jerseys must have sleeves”.

It is also implicit in the Law that such equipment be distinctively colored and uniformed for each team and that the uniforms are distinguishable from the uniforms worn by the other team.

As we can see from the wording in law 4, net vests are not an option because such do not meet the basic compulsory equipment. So it would appear that even though the players of both teams have done nothing wrong as far as the law of the game is concerned, the game cannot be played for obvious reasons.

The solution: One of the teams must change shirts or the game is abandoned.

Here is where the rules of the competition come into effect.
Most leagues have specific instructions in their bylaws about which team (home or away) should change uniforms and the referee must be aware and enforce these rules.

Below is an example of the rules of the competition for the upcoming world cup 2006 in Germany pertaining to team colors:

The choice of playing kit colors (i.e. official and reserve kits) must be specified on the official entry form.

No kit item worn by an outfield player (shirt, shorts and socks) may contain more than four colors. This provision also applies to the colors used for letters and numbers (player’s name, number, etc.). Furthermore, one color must be clearly predominant on the shirt, shorts and socks. In the case of striped or checkered shirts, one of the colors must be predominant on the other kit items.

The main (predominant) color must be visible to the same extent on the back and front of the kit item in question.

The colors of the official kit must be noticeably different from and contrasting to the colors of the reserve kit.

The colors worn by the goalkeeper must be noticeably different from those worn by the outfield players of his own team. Furthermore, the goalkeeper colors chosen for a particular match must also be contrasting to the kit worn by the opposing team, as well as that of the referee and assistant referees (see Laws – Law 4, The Players’ Equipment, and Goalkeepers).

Each team shall wear its official colors as declared on the official entry form during a preliminary round competition match (see Annex B). If, in the opinion of the referee or match commissioner, the two teams’ colors might cause confusion or prove unsuitable for television broadcast, the host team will wear its official kit while the visiting team will wear either its reserve kit or a combination of both.

Ref. Vangelis

January 25 2006

Ref. Vangelis,

I notice more and more that the goalkeepers are dealing with the breakaways in a frontal slide-tackling way, with the cleats right up-front. This greatly endangers the forward. In many cases, the goal-keepers miss the ball, get the legs of the forward but the refs make no calls. If this were to happen on the field it would probably result in at least a yellow card. What is the take on the refereeing side on these interventions?


Answer: Law 12 states that “A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball”.

As we can see, law 12 is addressing “any” player and the goalkeeper is no exception to it. Therefore if the goalkeeper made contact with the opponent before touching the ball, it would be a foul and the referee must punish it accordingly with a direct free kick.

Law 12 also states that “A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player kicks or trips and or attempts to kick or trip an opponent in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force”. Here also the goalkeeper is not an exception to the rule.

Therefore if the goalkeeper misses the ball and subsequently makes contact with the opponent, the referee must determine if the action was careless, reckless or excessive force was used and only then punish the player with a direct free kick.

Law 12 also states that “An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player, in the opinion of the referee plays in a dangerous manner”. Again there is no exception to the goalkeeper here. Therefore if in the opinion of the referee the goalkeeper’s action endangers the forward, the referee must punish the goalkeeper with an indirect free kick.

In addition to all of this, the referee will have to determine if an obvious goal-scoring opportunity was denied to the opponent and punish the goalkeeper with a red card. Law 12 states that “A player is sent off and shown the red card if he/she denies an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick.

Ref. Vangelis
Posted on 06 Feb 2006 by coachgianni
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