Goalkeepers and penalty kicks

Goalkeepers and penalty kicks: the 2019 Women’s World Cup has shown us something new. The use of VAR during this tournament changes a lot. 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?

Yes, he is.

The penalty in France vs Nigeria

It all starts with a 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. Wendie Renard from France misses it, but the VAR intervenes. Goalkeepre Chiamaka Nnadozie from Cameroon is not touching the line with at least one foot.

In the 2019-2020 Laws of the Game the following sentice is added.

“When the ball is kicked, the defending goalkeeper must have at least part of one foot touching, or in line with, the goal line.”

Video highlights of that game

Interesting is what the commentator in the clip says. “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.

Similar situations

In the game between Scotland and Argentina a similar situation appeared. The Argentinian penalty kick is saved, but the referee orders a retake. 

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.

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

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.

No yellow cards during kicks from the penalty mark

During the 2019 Women’s World Cup there will be no yellow cards for goalkeepers for leaving the goal-line during kicks from the penalty mark. During the 90 minutes of the game or in extra time the goalkeeper will be booked.

Mellissa Borjas shows goalkeeper a yellow card

The IFAB, who decide about the laws of the game, has explained the main reasons for this in a statement.

  • the presence of VARs acts as a far greater deterrent than the caution
  • the presence of VARs greatly increases the likelihood of any offence being detected and, as goalkeepers are likely to face a number of kicks during KFPM, there is a higher risk that a goalkeeper will be sent off for receiving a second caution if already cautioned in normal time, or two cautions during the KFPM
  • unlike during ‘normal time’, when a sent-off goalkeeper can usually be ‘replaced’ by the team substituting an outfield player for a specialist reserve goalkeeper, substitutions are not allowed in KFPM so an outfield player would have to become the goalkeeper

So far this is a temporary dispensation and it will be applied in all other competitions.

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.”

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