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 added to the Laws of the Game and is very clear on this matter.

Protocol says: “The categories of decision/incident which may be reviewed in the event of a potential clear and obvious error or serious missed incident are” in the category “goal/no goal”:

  • offence by goalkeeper and/or kicker at the taking of a penalty kick or
  • encroachment by an attacker or defender who becomes directly involved in play if the penalty kick rebounds from the goalpost, crossbar or goalkeeper

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.”

8 thoughts on “Goalkeepers and penalty kicks

  1. In the game between France and Nigeria, I cannot agree that the goalkeeper moving off the line had any effect on the outcome of the penalty kick, because the kicker missed the kick, plain and simple.

  2. I found this site educative and wish to be associated with your site. I am a technical coach and wish to receive from you.
    Alexander

  3. I love the work you are doing. Whenever I can, I look forward to the weekly quizzes but sometimes due other commitments I do miss one or two.
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