Referee Week in Review – Week 6
The Situation: Kansas City and New England are tied 1-1 in the 68th minute.
The Play: The Kansas City striker moves inside the area and attempts to dribble past his defender. The defender makes contact with the attacking player’s foot causing him to fall to the ground as the ball is rolling out of play.
The Decision: The referee immediately whistles for a penalty kick, which is converted for a goal by Kansas City.
My Take: There are two questions for the referee to consider – is this a foul, and is the ball still on the field of play? As you can see in the video, the answer to both questions is yes, and a penalty is correctly awarded.
The Laws of the Game: The question of whether or not the attacking player will be able to “play the ball” after he is fouled is not relevant. The only consideration is whether the ball is still in play at the time of the foul.
The Situation: FC Dallas is trailing Vancouver 1-0 in the 27th minute.
The Play: During a free kick, Vancouver’s goalkeeper comes off his line to try and catch the cross. The ‘keeper is unable to control the ball, and the Dallas attacker drives a shot towards goal that strikes the arm of a Vancouver defender.
The Decision: The referee determines the Vancouver defender has handled the ball and awards a penalty. No other sanction is issued.
My Take: In this case, the defender has “made himself bigger” by extending his arm. This constitutes a deliberate handling of the ball and should be awarded a penalty.
The Laws of the Game: The offense known as “handling the ball” (Law 12) involves deliberate contact with the ball by a player’s hand or arm. “Deliberate contact” means that the player could have avoided the touch but chose not to, that the player’s arms were not in a normal playing position at the time, or that the player deliberately continued an initially accidental contact for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage.
Michael Kennedy is a current MLS referee and has officiated in the league since its founding in 1996. In addition to serving as a professional referee, he has also represented U.S. Soccer as both a FIFA referee and assistant referee.