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Assistant referee decisions in the penalty area

In the recent Europa League round there was a situation which every referee could learn from. How do you deal with assistant referee decisions in the penalty area?

Check the following situation in the match between Borussia Mönchengladbach (Germany) and Villarreal (Spain) at the end of the video. The video quality is not good, but you’ll get a better idea of the situation. A striker tries to reach a teammate in front of the goal, but the ball got blocked by a defender. The ball goes in the air and a defender in his own penalty area tries to control the ball with his foot. He misses the ball and the ball bounces via the ground on his hand. The assistant referee raises his flag, but the referee disagrees with him and let play go on.

The Laws of the Game say: “Two assistant referees may be appointed whose duties, subject to the decision
of the referee, are to indicate: (…) when offences have been committed whenever the assistant referees
have a better view than the referee (this includes, in certain circumstances, offences committed in the penalty area).”

But is it smart to raise a flag for a penalty call? KNVB, the Dutch football organisation, had given a technical guideline for assistant referee decisions in the penalty area. Some tips for AR’s are:

  • intervention by the assistant referee should only happen under special circumstances and if the referee stands at a great distance, in the wrong position or asks explicitly the advice of the assistant referee
  • if the offence is inside the penalty area, proceed to the corner flag, simultaneously beeping and communicate with headset. DO NOT USE THE FLAG. Give the advice “penalty” via the headset and repeat as needed.

In amateur football football you don’t have a headset probably, but you can make good arrangements with your assistant referee. If he follows the guidelines and proceeds to the backline although the ball or players are not, you should notice he’s giving a signal to you. Try to get eye contact with your assistant and then make your decision.

The referee's view of the "handball" situation.In this situation, the assistant referee can see the hand of the defender who might have touched the ball with the hand. The referee can not see that clear, but he has a good view of the situation and can see that the player tries to control the ball with his foot first and that it bounces on the player’s arm then.

I hope you learned somethingon the assistant referee decisions in the penalty area.

The last question for you is: what would you decide on the “handball situation”? Penalty kick or go on?


  • Niclas

    I would go, as Kruzliak did, with the additional assistant referee who informed him about the circumstance that there was NO deliberate act by the defender. The AR should be blamed in the assessment.

    • jan (administrator)

      Good to hear that, Niclas. On Facebook I got a few responses about refs whom would give the penalty kick. Surprised me.

      How do you know the AAR said NO handball?

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