POTW9 Law 14 The Penalty Kick – Understanding the Laws of the Game

In this week’s Play of the Week we are discussing the correct restart following encroachment at a Penalty Kick. I have been contacted by a number of people questioning the decision of the referee Drew Fischer at the recent Toronto FC v Montreal Impact match. It has caused a great deal of debate.

If you can recall the infamous penalty kick in 2005 in the Arsenal v Manchester City game when Robert Pires and Thierry Henry had planned for Pires to pass the ball for Henry to run on to and they totally messed it up. Fast forward to 2020 and Henry is now Montreal Impact head coach and by way of a reminder to Henry, the opponents Toronto attempted the very same tactic. Alex Pozuelo passes the ball for Pablo Piatti to run on to. This time a goal is ‘scored’ but is subsequently disallowed by Fischer as Piatti had encroached into the penalty area before the kick was taken. He then awards an indirect free-kick to the defending team Montreal Impact.

Law 14 The Penalty Kick states:

If, before the ball is in play, one of the following occurs:
– the player taking the kick or a team-mate offends:
– 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.

The question that has been raised is: What is the correct restart if the ball enters the goal?

Whenever a goal is scored from a penalty kick it is always determined by whether the penalty taker scores directly or not. In this play as Pozuelo did not score directly from the PK and passed the ball to his right, at this point the kick has to be regarded as completed and normal play should resume. Therefore, referring to law, if the ball does not enter the goal directly from the PK the referee must stop play and restart with an indirect free kick.

Therefore, referee Fischer was correct to determine that a goal had not been scored directly from the penalty kick and as there was clear encroachment by the attacking team according to the Laws of the Game, he correctly stopped play and awarded an indirect free kick to the defending team Montreal.

This is why all referees must have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Laws of the Game. It was a somewhat unusual and complex situation and referees must be ready to expect the unexpected at times and interpret the law correctly. Referees can be forgiven for making errors because they are human. But there can never be any excuse for not understanding or applying the Laws of the Game.

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