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Questions & Answers

Feinting at a Penalty Kick
Q. May a player taking a penalty kick stop and restart his/her approach to the ball?  I've seen MLS games recently and penalty kicks have been scored and counted twice after the kicker came to a complete stop before finishing his run to the ball and then shooting.  Not only was it counted, but the question about the approach wasn't even brought up in the analysis of the kick.

A. FIFA clarified in 2002 that the kicker may seek to misdirect (or feint) at the taking of a penalty kick. USSF, in a memo dated October 14, 2004 on this subject, identified four specific actions by the kicker that could constitute misconduct:

  • delays unnecessarily after being signaled by the referee to proceed,
  • runs past the ball and then backs up to take the kick,
  • excessively changes direction during the run to the ball, or
  • makes any motion of the hand or arm which is clearly intended to misdirect the attention of the goalkeeper.

In such cases, the referee should suspend the procedure, caution the player involved, and then signal once again for the kick to be taken. If the kick has already been taken, the referee should order it retaken only if the ball enters the goal. The player must still be cautioned for his misconduct regardless of the outcome. If the kick is not to be retaken (see above), the game is restarted with an indirect free kick for the defending team where Law 14 was violated.

Subject to the judgment of the referee, anything else may be fair.

Simultaneous Offenses
Q. Law 5 says that the referee "punishes the more serious offense when a player commits more than one offense at the same time."  How does that apply to the following situation: A player is standing in an offside position.  The instant the ball is played by a teammate, the player in the offside position tries to collect the pass, but cannot do so because the defender reaches out and holds the player's jersey and prevents him from collecting the ball.  Is this a simultaneous foul situation in which the more serious foul (for example, holding) would be enforced, or is the offside enforced?

A. The old saying remains true: a player must not be rewarded for an infringement of the Laws.  Punish the offside with an indirect free kick for the opposing team and caution the defender for blatant holding (unsporting behavior).

And no, this is NOT an example of a simultaneous foul (now called "simultaneous offenses").  That reference in Law 5 is to a situation in which the SAME PLAYER commits two offenses simultaneously (in other words, the same act constitutes two different infractions of the Law).  Examples:  The player who just took a throw-in rushes onto the field and deliberately handles the ball (second touch plus deliberate handling; the handling takes precedence) or a player who dissents an official's decision using abusive language (caution plus red card for abusive language; the red card takes precedence).