Goalkeepers and penalty kicks

Goalkeepers and penalty kicks: what does the referee have to do when it a goalkeeper does not touch the line when the kick is taken? And is there any difference if the ball is not saved, but goes wide? You’ll learn about that in this case study.

Since 2019 the Laws of the Game clearly mention that the goalkeepre has to be on or above the goal-line. With the use of VAR in the the 2019 Women’s World Cup we noticed something really new. Where goalkeepers usually take a step forward with penalty kicks, the video referee interferes at this final tournament in Paris.

But is the VAR correct to do so?

At that time, yes VAR was. But due to a recent Laws of the Game change, there are situations where play continues even if the goalkeeper was too early from the line. But when? That’s what we’ll see in the examples below.

A retake is ordered in this situation

Firstly, we’ll watch the game between Scotland and Argentina. The Argentinian penalty kick is saved, but the referee orders a retake. 

And what do the Laws of the Game say: When the ball is kicked, the defending goalkeeper must have at least part of one foot touching, or in line with, the goal line.

Although the goalkeeper coming of her line here is only visible by VAR, the fact is that she is very slightly of her line and she saves the ball.

And have we seen this before?

Yes, during a men’s game when Dutch referee Björn Kuipers was active at the 2016 European Championships. “Unfortunately, that goalkeeper moved forward, it was not spotted by the referee’s team”, Collina said then. Check out the situation.

Same, but slightly different penalty in France vs Nigeria

In the previous situation the ball was saved by the goalkeeper, but sometimes the goalkeeper has no influence on the outcome. That’s what we’ll see at the penalty kick in the game between France and Nigeria. VAR Danny Makkelie asks the referee to go the screen, after which she awards a penalty kick. In the clip below at 5 minutes and 10 seconds that awarded penalty kick is taken. As you can see, Wendie Renard from France misses it, but the VAR intervenes.

But what makes this a different situation? Lets see below the clip.

Video highlights of that game

We remember the LOTG about the goalkeeper touching the line? Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie from Cameroon is not touching the line with at least one foot. But did she have an influence?

Interesting is what the commentator in the clip says at that time. “In fairness to referee Melissa Borjas” she has told the goalkeeper she needs to stay with two feet on the goal-line.

The referee then warns the referee for the second kick and asks her if she understood the rules. But the IFAB has concluded with all football associations that a goalkeeper who has no impact on the kicker or does not save the ball, should not be punished.

The Laws of the Game now say: if the goalkeeper offends: if the ball misses the goal or rebounds from the crossbar or goalpost(s), the kick is only retaken if the goalkeeper’s offence clearly impacted on the kicker.

With the 2020-2021 Laws of the Game the France – Nigeria penalty should not be retaken.

VAR Protocol

The VAR protocol is very clear on this matter. So FIFA wants video referees to intervene if needed. The protocol says: “The referee can initiate a review for an offence by the goalkeeper or kicker which directly affects the outcome of the penalty kick and thus whether a goal is scored. If an offence is clearly identified, the necessary disciplinary action must also be taken.”

But what about players that enter the penalty area too early?

“Encroachment can only be reviewed if

  • an attacker who encroached scores or is directly involved in a goal being scored
  • a defender who encroached prevents an attacker playing or being able to play the ball
    in a situation where a goal might be scored

Other encroachment offences and other infringements which do not directly affect whether a goal is scored cannot be reviewed.” See a case study about encroachment by players.

Read the full VAR protocol

How it changes things

Because the 1/8 final game between Norway and Australia went to kicks from the penalty mark, referee Riem Hussein had to deal with a unique situation. IFAB has given dispensation to not book goalkeepers (more about that below), but as referee you don’t want 10 out of 10 kicks being retaken.

What Hussien did was a long talk with both goalkeepers to prevent that from going to happen.

Referee Riem Hussein talking with the Norwegian and Australian goalkeeper

No yellow cards during kicks from the penalty mark

During the 2019 Women’s World Cup there would not be yellow cards for goalkeepers for leaving the goal-line during kicks from the penalty mark.

In the 2020-2021 Laws of the Game there was a permanent change. The goalkeeper will be verbally warned for the first offence in the penalty shootout if that had an impact on the player or the outcome. They only get shown a yellow card for the second offence during the series of kicks from the penalty mark.

Below an explantion from IFAB for this law change.

Mellissa Borjas shows goalkeeper a yellow card

IFAB explanation of the idea behind the rule change

The IFAB has put it this way in the 2019-2020 Laws of the Game pdfs.

“Goalkeepers are not permitted to stand in front of or behind the line. Allowing the goalkeeper to have only one foot touching the goal line (or, if jumping, in line with the goal line) when the penalty kick is taken is a more practical approach as it is easier to identify than if both feet are not on the line. As the kicker can ‘stutter’ in the run, it is reasonable that the goalkeeper can take one step in anticipation of the kick.”

To be clear: that a goalkeeper has to be on his or her line is not new. It’s just clarified.

In the 2020-2021 edition IFAB added about the verbal warning:

  • Most goalkeeper encroachment results from mis-anticipating when the ball will be kicked, so the goalkeeper should not be cautioned for a first offence but must be cautioned for any further offence(s) at that kick and/or any subsequent kick

Also new on goalkeepers and penalty kicks

“The referee must not signal for the penalty kick to be taken if the goalkeeper is touching the goalposts, crossbar or net, or if they are moving e.g. the goalkeeper has kicked/shaken them.”

Bibiana Steinhaus – first female referee in Bundesliga – retires from her career

Big refereeing news: Bibiana Steinhaus will retire as national and international referee. The German Super Cup on September 30th 2020 is the latest game of her career. “Like many people in the time of the corona situation, I reflected on some things and reassessed them”, she explains her decision on the DFB website. “After a very trusting and constructive conversation with Lutz Michael Fröhlich, the sports director of the DFB elite referees, I decided, after carefully weighing many factors, to end my national and international career as a referee.” She does not give more info, as she wants to focus on her last game first.

Bibiana Steinhaus was the the first female referee in the Bundesliga. “It has always been my dream to be active in the Bundesliga”, she said to German media when she started. “I am very pleased that this dream will come true”. She is the first center referee in one of the five biggest competitions in Europe.

Women’s World Cup 2019

Steinhaus is followed by Stéphanie Frappart from France in 2019. Both referees are active at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. The first game for the German referee is France – Norway, a clash between two teams won won their first match.

Pioneer in a men’s world

Back to her Bundesliga debut. Her actual debut was in September in the game between Hertha BSC and Werder Bremen. In the meantime lots of media write and talk about her or about the fact she is the first female referee in the Bundesliga. New York Times describes it as “reckoning with the multidimensional state of being a pioneering female in a male-dominated field”. She is happy where she is now, but feels uncomfortable with all the attention on her as person.  Bibiana Steinhaus hopes the attention from the fans goes back to watching football. “I don’t think I embrace it”, she says. “I deal with it.”

Bibiana Steinhaus

Bibiana Steinhaus. Photo courtesy DFB.

The 38-year-old policewoman from Hannover is one of four newcomers on the DFB referee list for next season. Because she got great feedback and information from the referee department during the season, she wasn’t surprised referee boss Lutz Fröhlich called this week. “But when he informed me in our telephone call about the decision of the referee’s commission, I was left quite speechless”, she says in an interview on the DFB website.

And what then happened.

“Disbelief, joy, happiness, relief, curiosity, I do not know. It was simply a roller coaster ride of emotions.”

Great incentive to keep working hard

“It is on the one hand a confirmation for the hard work  on the way to this promotion”, she says. “And on the other hand it’s also a great incentive to continue my hard work.”

Steinhaus wants to thank the support she got from everyone. “The referee’s work is – unrestricted – teamwork. Both in the field and in the background we work closely together”, she says. As referee you need good decisions from your assistants, but also a good framework from your football association that helps you with all aspects of the job. Referees have a personal coach, a fitnness team that supports them. “Without this mostly invisible support refereeing at top level would not be possible!”

Bibiana Steinhaus

Female refs normal at highest level

The referee from Hannover is looking forward to the new season. “Certainly as femal referee I’ll be under special observation, especially from the media, at the beginning of the season. It is my goal that female referees in professional football become normal and that they simply will belong to the game.”

Intensive communication with players

Elite referee committe chairman, Lutz Fröhlich, says Steinhaus has a ‘special style of game management’. Steinhaus explains to DFB how she tries to manage a game: “My style is characterized by intensive communication. To exchange mutual expectations at an early stage gives all parties a good guideline. I try an empathic approach to my conversational partners and thus create an encounter on equal terms.

But she stresses that female referees do ‘hardly anything’ differently than male referees. She says that all referees need to judge match incidents based on the same Laws of the Game, with the same outcome as much as possible. And all refs have the same prerequisites. “But of course, every referee has a different style of managing a game.”

Dedication as ref pays off

Steinhaus hopes this will have a positive impact on new referees or girls who think about refereeing. She mentions some of her female colleagues who also are climbing up the ladder. Her colleague Reim Hussein is currently a 3rd Bundesliga referee and Katrin Rafalski is assistant referee in the 2nd Bundesliga. “Commitment and dedication will abosolutely pay off.”

There’s one think that is most important to Steinhaus. “Above all, I want to be judged based on my performances, not because I’m a woman. I wish all referees a successful season ,where referees are not often the center of attention.”

Interfering with play – an offside case study

Interfering with play when you’re in offside position. There’s lots of clips to learn from. I’ve added Concacafs new 2020 video about offside and interfering with play first. Below that you’ll see a case study I’ve created before that will explain step by step what you need to do. Both great videos to learn from.

Concacaf video about interfering with play

Tip: subscribe to the Concacaf Referee Channel on YouTube.

Dutch offside case study

So here is a video that will show you a real match situation with an explanation. I’ts about interfering with play. Watch the video below.

The match situation

Heracles plays against Ajax. They’re 1-0 behind, but got awarded a free kick on the left side of the pitch. The ball swings in and Heracles attacker Wout Weghorst jumps towards the ball, but does he touch it?

Here’s in 3 steps how to make your decision:

Offside position or not?

Find out if the player is in offside position at the moment of the pass. Answer: yes.

Interfering with play: offside position or not?

In active play (or not)

Is the player involved in active play? Please remind yourself when a player is in active play. If you look more closely at the match situation, you can see Weghorst is not touching the ball. But is touching the ball necessary? No. The Laws of the Game say that a player can be in offside position when “interfering with an opponent by preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by

  1. clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or
  2. challenging an opponent for the ball or (The first point of contact of the ‘play’ or ‘touch’ of the ball should be used) or
  3. clearly attempting to play a ball which is close when this action impacts on an opponent or
  4. making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball

The 3rd option is relevant here. Weghorst is not touching the ball, but as you can see he is attempting to play the ball which is close to him. The Laws of the Game do not mention how close a ball needs to be, but the situation below has to be judge as “close” to him.

Interfering with play: touching the ball or not?

Flag for offside

Because the player was in offside position at the moment of the pass and because he comes in active play, there is an offside offence. The assistant referee needs to give a flag signal and the defending team gets an indirect free kick.

Assistant referee flagging for offside.