In the 62nd minute of a recent FC Dallas vs. Chicago Fire game, MLS referee Mr. Hilario Grajeda awarded a penalty kick to Chicago Fire. Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman saved Sebastian Grazzini’s shot, but another Chicago Fire striker, Marco Pappa, pounced on the rebound and knocked the ball into the net. Pappa, however, entered the penalty area well before his teammate Grazzini struck the ball (see the picture to the left and the video below). In other words, Pappa entered the penalty area illegally and the referee should have disallowed the goal. In addition, the footage from the game showed that another player from FC Dallas also illegally entered the penalty before the kick was taken. Therefore, the referee should have disallowed the goal and should have ordered the penalty kick to be retaken.
Law 14 specifies that when a penalty kick is taken, “the players other than the kicker must be located … outside the penalty area.” The law also states that “the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward.” Furthermore, according to Law 14, “if the referee gives signal for a penalty kick to be taken and, before the ball is in play …, players of both the defending team and the attacking team infringe the Laws of the Game [then] the kick is retaken.”
In its Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) prepared the following chart to illustrate the administration of proper sanctions and restarts for infringements of Law 14:
|Who Infringed Law 14||What was the outcome of the kick?
Ball goes into goal Ball does not go into goal
(including the kicker)
|RETAKE PENALTY KICK||INDIRECT FREE KICK|
(including the goalkeeper)
|GOAL (KICK-OFF)||RETAKE PENALTY KICK|
|Both Attacker and Defender||RETAKE PENALTY KICK||RETAKE PENALTY KICK|
Furthermore, USSF explained that the following points must be kept in mind when applying the above decisions:
- “Ball does not go into goal” includes any result of the penalty kick other than the ball being kicked into the net (e.g., ball deflected over the goal line by the goalkeeper, ball kicked over the crossbar, ball saved and held by the goalkeeper).
- The violations at issue include: the goalkeeper moving off the goal line; the kicker engaging in unfair tactics while taking the kick; and any player other than the goalkeeper and the kicker entering the penalty area, entering the penalty arc, or moving closer to the goal line than the ball (i.e., failing to remain at least 12 yards from the goal line).
- It is not required for the same player to perform a penalty kick which the referee has ordered retaken.
The exceptions to the above 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 attacker.
- 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.
As you can see in the picture and the video, players from both teams FC Dallas and Chicago Fire entered the penalty area before the ball was kicked (i.e. before it was in play) and therefore infringed the Laws of the Game which required them to remain outside of the penalty area until the ball was in play. In light of these infringements, the referee should have stopped the play, disallow the goal and order the penalty kick to be retaken.
While it is possible that the referee did not see the FC Dallas player encroaching into the penalty area because he was farther away and perhaps not directly in his line of vision (although his assistant referee should have seen it), he cannot claim not to have seen Pappa encroaching the penalty box before the kick was taken because the encroachment occurred quite literally right in front him. Thus, if the referee thought that only Pappa encroached the penalty area before the ball was kicked, he was required by the Laws of the Game to “allow the kick to be taken” but when “the ball [did] not enter the goal, the referee stops the play and the match is restarted with an indirect free kick to the defending team from the place where the infringement occurred.”
In either situation, the referee should have disallowed the goal!