Goalkeepers and penalty kicks

Goalkeepers and penalty kicks: what does the referee have to do if 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 goalkeeper 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.”

Handball before goal is scored: a case study

Handball before goal is scored. A new situation in the Laws of the Game, explained with text and video in this blog post. Make sure that you know how to handle from the 2019-2020 season onwards.

Because of the recent law changes, you need to make a different decision as referee compared to previous seasons. The scenes are from the game between Manchester City and Tottenham. Referee Michael Oliver allows the goal, but then VAR tells him to wait.

Update: Below I’ve added a clip from German Bundesliga as well.

Handball before goal? Referee Michael Oliver waits for the video referee.

Have a look and make a decision.

The video

Explanation of handball before goal

What was your call?

A quick recap. The score is 2-2 and there is a corner kick for the Citizens. The cross comes in and touches and touches Laporte’s arm, but it seems not deliberate by the City player. His teammate Gabriel Jesus receives the ball and scores.

Referee Michael Oliver disallows the goal after VAR intervention. But isn’t the handball accidental?

Yes, I’d say so.

Why does the referee and VAR then make the call to disallow the call? Check out the explanation below about the LOTG changes.

Laws on handball before goal

It’s an offence if a player: gains possession/control of the ball after it has touched their hand/arm and then:

  • scores in the opponents’ goal
  • creates a goal-scoring opportunity
  • scores in the opponents’ goal directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper

The second bullet is crucial here, as a teammate of Laporte gets a goal-scoring opportunity (he scores actually).

The reason for the law change

The reasoning behind this law change? IFAB explains in the Laws of the Game book: “Football expects a player to be penalised for handball if they gain possession/ control of the ball from their hand/arm and gain a major advantage e.g. score or create a goal-scoring opportunity.

NB: it is the second goal from Gabriel Jesus that is disallowed by the video referee. The previous goal was the first in history in the English Premier League.

Match situation in Germany

Question for you

In this situation VAR tells referee Michael Oliver that there is handball before the goal. Do you prefer the referee to do an on-field review (OFR) or is it fine for you if the VAR tells the referee what to decide? (please reply)

Ball touches match official and referee scores a goal

When the ball touches match official and the referee scores a goal. This is added to the 2019-2020 Laws of the Game, but why? Because it really happens sometimes, as you can see in Dutch amateur football.

The referee has to allow the goal in this case, but what is the decision in 2019-2020? Read more about that below the video.

Reaction from the referee

The referee was very open about the situation above one day later in the media. Of course he felt terrible ‘and I am not proud of it’. He explains what happens. “As you can see on the footage, it was a messy situation for the goal. I am assuming that the ball is shot to the second post, but it is coming short. I am still trying to dodge the ball, but it touches my foot and went straight into the goal.”

At that moment he wants to disappear, as he knew he has to allow the goal. It went from 3-1 to 3-2 due to that goal and then it’s very important to stay focused as a referee. Luckily the goal did not influence the result, as the home team won with 4-2.

The referee expects a ball at the second post, but it’s played shortly and he “scores” a goal

LOTG 2019-2020: when ball touches match official

Situations like this will not happen again in the next seasons. As you know there are a three reasons when the ball is out of play. Two are the common ones that have always been in the Laws of the Game:

  • When the ball as wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the air
  • Or when play has been stopped by the referee

But the third reason is new: when the ball touches a match official and remains on the field of play. Not in all cases, but the referee has to stop play if

  • a team starts a promising attack or
  • the ball goes directly into the goal or
  • the team in possession of the ball changes

In all these cases, play is restarted with a dropped ball. But in 2019-2020 the LOTG mention a new way of restarting for a situation mentioned above …

Restart with dropped ball in penalty area

Because the ball is in the penalty area when touched by the referee, the restart is a little different now. The 2019-2020 Laws of the Game say:

“The ball is dropped for the defending team goalkeeper in their penalty area if, when play was stopped

  • the ball was in the penalty area or
  • the last touch of the ball was in the penalty area”

Thanks, Peter, for mentioning it in the comments.

(Below some personal experiences, feel free to share yours when you touched the ball by accident)

Personal cases

My personal case was a bit odd. I was following play on the left side of the field of play. Then the midfielder shot the ball at chest height and I had no chance to move away. If I wasn’t there, the ball would have gone out of play.

Because of my touch, the opposing team gets ball posession. They pass a few times and shoot on goal. An easy one, you think. But then the goalkeeper lets the ball slip through her fingers and a goal is scored. Even though there was no chance to move away from the ball, you feel sorry for the goal being scored.

What are your experiences with touching the ball?

Referee plays advantage perfectly

The referee plays advantage perfectly when you let the non-offending team build up an attack. But where do you apply the advantage? In this blog post you’ll see video examples, plus criteria to keep in mind when giving advantage.

Because of a great example in the last UCL round, I thought about writing this blog story. Have a look at the video below.

Foul in counter-attack by Ajax

Referee Carlos del Cerro Grande plays the advantage in the clip above. Dybala from Juventus is on the left wing. In the middle Ajax player Ekkelenkamp clearly pulls Ronaldo back, because he wants to stop him moving forward.

As pointed out the player on the wing has a lot of space in front of him, which gives the referee a good reason for play to continue. Good to notice how closely the Spanish referee follows play after a counter-attack.

Below you’ll find all the criteria to keep in mind.

Refreee plays advantage

Referee plays advantage: the LOTG

The Laws of the Game are clear on this subject.  “The referee allows play to continue when an offence occurs and the non-offending team will benefit from the advantage.”

But where does the caution come in? “If the referee plays the advantage for an offence for which a caution / send off would have been issued had play been stopped, this caution / send off must be issued when the ball is next out of play, except for the denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity when the player is cautioned for unsporting behaviour.”

In this case Carlos del Cerro Grande whistles when the ball goes out of play, because players have to wait. He signals the pulling and shows Ekkelenkamp a yellow card.

Carlos del Cerro Grande

When not to apply advantage

“Advantage should not be applied in situations involving serious foul play,
violent conduct or a second cautionable offence unless there is a clear
opportunity to score a goal. The referee must send off the player when the ball is next out of play but if the player plays the ball or hallenges/interferes with an opponent, the referee will stop play, send off the player and restart with an indirect free kick, unless the player committed a more serious offence.

Things to consider when you play advantage

The referee may play advantage whenever an offence occurs but should
consider the following in deciding whether to apply the advantage or stop play:

  • the severity of the offence – if the offence warrants a sending-off, the referee must stop play and send off the player unless there is a clear opportunity to score a goal
  • the position where the offence was committed – the closer to the opponent’s goal, the more effective the advantage can be
  • the chances of an immediate, promising attack
  • the atmosphere of the match

Examples of good advantages

Swedish referee Victor has published a few video’s on his YouTube channel, which you’ll find below. For example this one, where he gives advantage on the attacking half of the field of play.

Advantage on the middle third of the field of play. What you notice:

Advantage on the middle third of the field of play. This is where you need to be careful if there’s a chance for a promising attack. If you look at the clip you’ll notice that the AR even flags for the foul. The advantage works perfectly here, but always ask yourself where play is going.

Your tips and examples

Do you have any tips or examples from top referees or your own games? Share them with me via jan@dutchreferee.com

Two separate cautionable offences

Two separate cautionable offences in close proximity. It has never happened to me that I have to show a player two yellow cars plus a red card within seconds. How about you?

The only situation I remember is with Turkish referee Cüneyt Çakır, but that is a while ago. During the Uefa Champions League game between Ajax and Real in 2018-2019 there is a similar one with referee Felix Brych. Real Madrid player Nacho has the “honour” of receiving two yellows in one minute. One season later: Brych experienced a similar situation again in the game between Napoli vs Barcelona.

Have a look at both videos and keep in mind: how does the referee handle it? Below I’ll share my take-aways from this including an explanation about the laws that apply.

The initial clip of the match in 2019-2020 has been deleted, so this is a different version. The quality is a bit worse, but it’s clear what happens.

Belown the video of the game where Nacho receives two cards.

Recognize situations yourself

I always ask you to look at the referee, because it’s very important for you to learn yourself. You can read tips below, but it’s always important you recognize situations yourself as well.

Two cautionable offences: Brych cards Nacho

LOTG about two separate cautionable offences

The Laws of the Game are very clear on this. “Where two separate cautionable offences are committed (even in close proximity), they should result in two cautions.” IFAB also has provided us with an example. “If a player enters the field of play without the required permission and commits a reckless tackle or stops a promising attack with a foul/handball, etc.”

You get it, right?

The Nacho situation

Referee Felix Brych officiates the game between Real Madrid and Ajax in the UCL quarter finals. There is a lot of tension, because Ajax is in the lead in Bernabeu.

Tip 1: Be alert when players lose a ball

The clip starts with a cross to the left corner. You might think, why there, but there is a reason I show this long clip. You’ll see Nacho is trying to pass a defender and fails. He thinks it is a foul, but the German referee signals that play continues.

As a referee you should be alert now. That is when he wants to win the ball back and will put some extra effort in.


But not always in the right way.

Game management with fouls

Nacho is sprinting back to his own half and is too late with his tackle. He is not endangering his opponent’s safety in my opinion, but the yellow is correct. You need to show these yellows. These are not calls that decide a game in terms of a goal, but are key in terms of game management.

Tackle by Nacho on defender

Tip: Go to the situation

With these tackles, make sure you’re present. Move closer, as Brych does, because fouled players might get frustrated. Here the Ajax defender stays calm and Nacho walks off.

All fine then. But unfortunately for Nacho Ajax player Ziyech is there. We can’t hear what they say, but it’s clear that he stops Nacho and probably says something about that tackle. And then Nacho reacts and pushes Ziyech away.

What would you have done in this second situation normally?

  • No cards
  • Show both players players a yellow
  • Show only Nacho a yellow

Does it make a difference for you if someone is about to receive another yellow as well?

Red card by Felix Brych

Showing the cards

Felix Brych immediately points at Nacho as it was obvious for him that he was the one who caused trouble there.

When Brych shows the first yellow card Nacho turns, so he misses the second yellow card. Amongst tv presenters there was also some confusion. Some even mention that VAR is saying something to the ref. That is not correct.

Tip 3: Communicate – also to the tv watchers

Consequently, Brych shows the cards again and also communicates the reasons. The first one was for the tackle, the second for the push. You can tell it to players, but the whole world is watching on tv.

So communicate to the world. Good job there.

My takes on this situation. How would you handle this?

Brych communicates push to others

Other situations: what’s your call in the Milner clip?

what’s your call in the Milner clip?

Cakir clip when he sends of Chris Baird

Foul before offside offence (a case study)

Referee Anthony Taylor spots foul before offside offence, but is he correct to award a penalty kick? In this case study you’ll learn what to do.

Because it’s good to think first, try to ask the following question first. What do the Laws of the Game say about fouls and offside situations?

Offside before the foul

Offside position or not

The first question: is Kane in offside position?

A player is in an offside position if:

  • any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents’ half (excluding the halfway line) and
  • any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent

Because arms and hands of players are not considered, we should look at Kane’s head. If you look at that on the image, you can see Kane is in offside position.

But that is not all. Always keep in mind: “It is not an offence to be in an offside position.”

The moment of the foul

At the moment the ball is still high in the air, Kane is amending is position to head it towards the goal. But it’s Mustafi who bumps into Kane’s back and this push fouls Kane. The Tottenham striker is unable to play the ball.

Foul before offside offence

The Laws of the Game explain three rare scenario’s for players standing in offside positions:

  • when a defender fouls an attacker when already playing the ball
  • players are standing in he way of a defender
  • when a defender fouls an attacker before playing the ball

The latter is important here. The Laws of the Game say: “a player in an offside position is moving towards the ball with the intention of playing the ball and is fouled before playing or attempting to play the ball, or challenging an opponent for the ball, the foul is penalised as it has occurred before the offside offence.”

Yes, Kane is moving towards teh ball, but there is no attempt to play the ball. He is also not challenging the defender in front of him. It’s the defender (Mustafi, 20) behind him who fouls him. So the foul is penalised. Correct penalty kick decision.

Below you’ll see the referee’s view and a video.

Anthony Taylor sees the push clearly

There’s also lots of discussion on Twitter whether Kane was challenging Koscielny for the ball or not. Interesting to check for yourself as well.

Former EPL referee Mark Halsey  wrote a good piece on this as well. As it’s not clear for anyone – even top officials disagree – how to interpret this, how should refs at all levels? Check out the article: “Kane penalty shows offside is a mess”

Video of the incident

A video of the incident where you see a foul before the offside offence.

Kepa vs Sarri: when a player refuses to leave

Kepa vs Sarri: case study when a player refuses to leave. I always thought this situation was reserved for my weekly Laws of the Game Quizzes, but it really happened in the Carabao Cup.

How do you deal with this situation as a refreee?

When a player refuses to leave

A unique story in pics and a video, explained by the Laws of the Game. Because Kepa, the Chelsea goalkeeper, was injured, his coach wants to replace him. 4th official Paul Tierney puts the board in the air with number one, but Kepa remains on the field of play.

Referee Jon Moss takes a good approach, because he goes to the player quickly. Also team-mate David Luiz joins him, but Kepa is not going out.  Then it felt like comedy capers …

When a player refuses to leave - Jon Moss talks with Kepa

Manager Sarri gets mad

Chelsea manager Sarri is mad. He wants his goal keeper to come off, but what is actually in the LOTG? “If a player who is to be replaced refuses to leave, play continues.”

Jon Moss talks with the manager, his assistant and the 4th official and he explains the situation.

Jon Moss talking with manager Sarri

As a referee, you have no right to force a substitution here. All you can do is continue the game.

Sarri gets mad, and seems to walk away from the field of play. He comes back, but is not happy at all.

In the meantime Willy Cabbalero is waiting, like his nose his bleeding.

The person behind Paul Tierney even brings a second substitution board, as it might be needed for additional time.

But what if Jon Moss blows the final whistle? Would you allow the substitution to take place?

Willy Caballero waiting for the substitute

Substitution after the final whistle

What was your answer to the question above the picture?

This is what the Laws of the Game say. “A player other than the goalkeeper who is unable to continue may not be replaced.”

Although Kepa thinks he is not injured, I’d allow the substitution after the final whistle. That is also what Sarri and his assistant manager checked with the 4th official. But in this case Chelsea did not use this option.

Video of the situation