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Bluff penalty kick fails and goalie saves the ball

Penalty takers try to mislead the goalie very often, but not all tricks work out as they were meant. Have a look at this bluff penalty.

Don’t know the league or competition, but that’s not important if I want to explain the rules of the game. UPDATE: check comment from Laszlo Sipos below for more information about the match.

The football Laws of the Game by Fifa state that ‘the player taking the kick must be properly identified’. For the viewer’s it’s at least not clear who’s going to take the kick.

UPDATE: At first, I quoted the Laws of the Game that this is a case where ‘a teammate infringes the football rules’. In that case:

  • the referee allows the kick to be taken
  • if the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken
  • if the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and the match is restarted with an indirect free kick to the defending team, from the place where the infringement occurred

But there’s an USSF Referee Memorandum which mentions an exception. In USSF Advice to Referees, Law 14, section 14.9 (pdf). It reads:

“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.”

I can’t find this in a Dutch advices, but Rafal, an USSF National/Professional Referee (see his comments below), checked with the U.S, Soccer’s Referee Education Resources Advisor who answers all questions about the Laws of the Game. He says the advice is valid for all countries. Now I’m wondering why not all FA’s release the same advice.


  • Laszlo Sipos

    Hey Jan,

    this case happened – as I discovered – in the Swiss Super League (first division) between Grasshoppers Zurich and FC St. Gallen.

    Here is the video with the match highlights (Swiss National Televison SF):

    This match had a few curiosity beside a bluff penalty situation.

    GC Zurich’s goalkeeper Roman Bürki stayed without goal (“with a clean sheet”?) after the seventh game in row (630 minutes) – a new Swiss record.

    I don’t know if you’ve heard about but in Switzerland 4 out of the 12 top referees will retire by the end of this year. See why below:

    So the current game was led by a new referee called Sébastien Pache (37 ysr, first game in the Super League). I think – as you wrote about – he should have awarded an indirect free kick for the defendeng team because of the violation of the procedures (but no yellow card for the offending player).


    Jan, I wrote to you on your Facebook page as well as I commented on Laszlo’s video on our own Facebook page. Your interpretations and understanding of the FIFA Laws of the Game are wrong! You mention part of the Laws of the Game talking about infringement of Law 14 by teammate of kicker, but you fail to realize that there is an exception to this rule/scenario you mention. To clarify, again, I am posting below the exception to the rule in Law 14 you mentioned above in your post;

    the exception to the rule is found in USSF’s Advice to Referees (link here ).
    Law 14, section 14.9. It reads:

    “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.”

    The LOTG part you posted simply has nothing to do with the scenario in question.

    Now, about the video itself and your “interpretation” of it. Here is where you got it wrong; In the “bluff PK” video…
    1 – we DO NOT see the player who last kicked the ball infringing on Law 14 because the video doesn’t start from the beginning.
    2- We also DO NOT see whether the penalty kick taker was properly identified or not.
    I remind you that as a referee you are not supposed to make a call based on your assumption or a guess, but based on facts. Having said that, it is inappropriate for anyone to write a blog advising other fellow referees that Law 14 has been infringed upon when we don’t know that for a fact. As a matter of fact, one would argue that it was most likely not, based on the facts that when the video started the ball was off its mark already (appearing to be already played), the referee was properly positioned and continued on as if no laws were infringed and the referee also did not react to the PK being taken “supposedly” by a different kicker than initially identified. Please let me know if you need any further clarification on this or any other issues.

    USSF National/Professional Referee

  • admin

    You mention some advice for US soccer referees. I can assure you such an advice is NOT in the Dutch guidelines. We stick to the LATG section which only provides us with the information of an opponent infringing the LATG.

    In the Dutch advice there’s something a said about identification of the player who’s taking the penalty.

    Publish the Dutch part below and then a translation.

    “De speler die de strafschop neemt, moet binnen het strafschopgebied blijven of binnen de 9.15 meter van de strafschopstip, tot het fluitsignaal is gegeven om de schop te nemen. Na het fluitsignaal mag hij een grotere aanloop nemen, hoewel hij niet kan verlangen dat de tegenstanders hem daarvoor vrij baan geven.”

    Translation: The player taking the penalty kick, needs to be in the penalty area or inside the 9.15m circle from the penalty spot, until the signal (whistle) to take the penalty kick. After the whistle he may take longer run, although he can’t expect that players will give him free rein in his run.

    According to that we can at least say the player who actually took the PK was not identified as the taker. No sound here, so can’t hear when the referee whistles, but the player being in the 9.15 area (and who walks back later) should, based on Dutch LATG advice, be seen as the taker.

    What I wrote is according to the LATG which apply here. Would be also interesting to see how the additional advices are in different countries. I’m surprised the same advices are not given in each country. Would be good to discuss that too with RA’s and FA’s.


    Jan,I felt that in order for all of us to get this right I had to contact someone of actual authority on the subject. I have reached out to United States Soccer Federation and spoke with Alfred Kleinaitis, who is the U.S, Soccer’s Referee Education Resources Advisor and all questions/issues pertaining to the LOTG are officially answered by him. Alfred is also the person, who in 2007 released the USSF Memorandum reminding referees about said exceptions (memorandum found on our Referee Center page). So here is what I have been told by Alfred and United States Soccer Federation;
    The exception we debate here (and found in USSF’s Advise To Referees) were put in place on the orders of FIFA and per FIFA instructions are to be adhered to by ALL MEMBER ASSOCIATIONS. I asked Alfred where we can find an official memorandum/position paper issued by FIFA/IFAB, but none was idssued that is publicly available in such prints as LOTG, Guidelines for Referees or Interpretation of the LOTG. This would not be the first nor last instance of a particular situation not being described in the above mentioned publications. None the less this is an official USSF answer stating that according to FIFA Instructions this exceptions are to be adhered to by EVERY National Association that is a member of FIFA.


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