Blog,  case study

How to deal with encroachment at penalty kicks

How to deal with encroachment at penalty kicks? An interesting situation in the game between Newcastle and Burton. This case study is written as educational story to show referees how to handle in particular situations based on the Laws of the Game.

The situation. Newcastle has been awarded a penalty kick. Matt Richie takes it and scores, but the referee disallows the goal. Is it correct? And how does play need to be restarted? Have a look at the situation yourself first.

The Laws of the Game

The Laws of the Game explain how a referee needs to handle. “If a player of both teams infringes the Laws of the Game, the kick is retaken.” And there’s a little addition: “unless a player commits a more serious offence (e.g. illegal feinting).” That’s not the case here, because the Newcastle player is not feinting to kick the ball after completing his the run-up.

Offence or not?

So no feinting, but do both teams make an offence?

Have you seen how many players entered the penalty area too early? It’s (almost) everybody who was visible on the tv screen.

Encroachment at penalty kicks

Correct decision for encroachment at penalty kicks

The correct decision would be to disallow the goal and order a retake of the penalty kick.

Personal question

In Uefa and Fifa games referees will tolerate a lot with encroaching players at penalty kicks. But how strict are you with encroachment at penalty kicks?

Share your thoughts below or vote on the Twitter poll.


  • Brian Duddy

    I would give the foul (is it a foul?) when a player gains an advantage by entering early, or if it’s blatant (the example posted above was pretty close to blatant). I agree that a retake would be the correct call in the above example.

    • Jan ter Harmsel

      Indeed. The problem in the case above would not be whistling for the offence, but the way play got restarted. IDFK instead of a retake.

  • Kristian Klette

    In my view it depends on the timing. If players are entering very early during the taker’s run-up, then give a retake.
    On the other hand, if players are only in the box by the time he kicks the ball then I would probably play on.
    Don’t be too strict with encroachment; otherwise the referee may create flashpoints in the match that are just unnecessary.

  • Roger

    Hi Jan

    Great article/study-very topical too! Yours was the only analysis I saw that supported the referee’s call. Take a look at what Graham Poll had to say in the Daily Mail which seems to be consistent with other experts. Well done!

    • Jan ter Harmsel

      Thanks for the comment. The goal of my blog is to learn the readers something with a actual case as example. That will improve them. No need to blame the one who was refereeing, better focus on improvement of others.

  • Stewart montgomery

    Hi Jan, I have an example where ref did not award retake of penalty after attacking team encroached but gave our team an indirect free kick. I need to discuss via email not a blog as incident is currently being investigated in Australia. The authorities are looking at how they will handle this. Will they replay from point of error or a full replay from start. Do you have any examples of similar incidents other that can be used from around the world.

    • Jan ter Harmsel

      Will send you an e-mail. But for all: there is a chance the indirect free kick is correct.

      If, before the ball is in play, one of the following occurs: the player taking the penalty kick or a team-mate infringes the Laws of the Game:

      if the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken
      if the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts with an indirect free kick except for the follo

  • Stewart montgomery

    Hi mate. Yes we have video. The player took the penalty. Scored the goal but as the attacking teams player encroached the penalty was disallowed. LOTG says the kick should be retaken . I am looking at where we can use other examples to show that game is to be replayed from point of error rather than a complete replay as is being discussed. The Englan v Norway women’s game for example had the game replayed at point of error. Cheers Stew

  • Efstathios Avgoustiniatos

    I have a question: To have encroachment, does the player need to STEP (touch the ground) inside the penalty area or is it enough for his body to have crossed the line? The rules do not clarify what “entering the penalty area” means.

    • Jan ter Harmsel

      If you look at it strictly you’re in an area if you’re on the line. Similar to fouls on the line of the penalty area, where a PK is awarded. If the ball is on the sideline it is inside the field of play.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.