Date: 16th August 2018 at 9:56am
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The Penalty For Fouling!

There’s a foul in the box, the referee points to the spot, part of the spectators erupt with shouts of joy! It’s a penalty! Anticipation is high for some …. despair is high for others.

After the compulsory arguing from the penalised team members and their manager as the referee is surrounded by complaints, the decision stands. The ball is placed on the spot and the designated penalty taker steps forward for his moment of glory. Having decided where he will place the ball, and avoiding the disastrous effect of second-guessing himself, the player waits for the whistle.

What are his choices? Aim right (low or high), aim left (low or high), aim straight down the middle (low or high), or simply blast the ball and hope that the power of the shot will result in the desired outcome.

It’s all really exciting stuff. But is there another way penalties could be taken? What if football adopted a Hockey-style penalty kick where a player can dribble the ball past the keeper? It results in a goal scored from open play rather than a free shot …. or it results in a save from open play. It’s still a one-on-one goal scoring opportunity, isn’t it?

Of course, nothing happens until the penalty-taker touches the ball at which point the keeper can move where he wants. And the penalty taker would still have the choice of just hitting the ball, first-time, in the traditional directions already mentioned. A player who is not confident in shooting can try his luck at dribbling. But there would be a times limit (8 seconds?) for him to score once he touches the ball. It would just add a further dimension to taking penalties.

I am not advocating this …. just sharing a thought (after watching a Hockey match) for VS to consider. And remember, football is always changing.

So VS …. What might be the advantages, or disadvantages, to the ‘Taker’ or the ‘Keeper’?


And talking about fouls …. it will be interesting, after the World Cup, to see how referees are going to address all the holding and pushing that is rife inside the penalty area, and all the time-wasting that often happens when a foul has been given anywhere on the park.

In terms of ‘holding and pushing’, something seriously needs to be done about it. It’s not difficult. The rules are clear. All referees need to do is apply them. It’s that simple, and I cannot understand why referees make it so hard for themselves. It’s the lack of applying their authority vigorously that that results in making their job more difficult than it needs to be. The amount of game-time it wastes is ridiculous.

In terms of ‘dissent’ …. if I were a referee I would show a yellow card to any player who stood in my face and complained, unless it was the team captain or the two (usually) players directly involved in a specific incident.

So VS …. What would you do if you were the referee?


147 Replies to “The Penalty For Fouling!”

  • For me, it would make it far too easy for the penalty taker. I’m not a keeper, but they have it hard enough trying to save penalties in their current format. A well taken penalty à la Kieran Trippier is practically impossible for a keeper to save. If a dribble was allowed, a player would simply need to feign taking a shot to gain a yard or 2 and shoot from a far more favourable position. Granted the keeper would also be on the move, but this would also help a player pick his spot past him. Interesting idea, but I don’t think it would work.

  • Geofspurs….a different article, well written, an unusual topic up for discussion.

    As far as pens are concerned, a no for me though a good thought, leave things be.

    Wrestling/holding without doubt should be penalised every time anywhere on the pitch so refs show their authority.

    Getting in the face of the ref, 100% yellow card, why can’t footballers just accept the refs decision and walk away as in other sports, please don’t say well its high octane and they are always up for it, because does that mean other sports people are not up for it. For me this whole scenario of getting in the refs face, crowding him, has been going on for far to long, captains only. COYS

  • Sorry for off topic, I have just learnt that an ex-service comrade of mine has passed away, with no family that we know of, such a very sad thing, we are organising for any ex or serving people to attend his funeral/wake.

    My friend served his country in the RM’s with honour, we have memories, I salute you sir!

    Sorry again for off topic, as always this sort of things brings me crashing back down to earth.

  • HT …. Thanks for that. Very interesting …. I didn’t know it was legal?! Get three players involved and they couldn’t miss …. kicker taps it forward to one side and then another pass across goal for the third player to score. The keeper would be a tangled mess …. unless it’ s Lloris or you!

  • Yes, seen such videos many time HT. However, if you watch the slo-mo of those, half of those should’ve been disallowed as the final kick taker had entered the box before the initial touch was made. Only if ref’s were more strict on the rules.

    Certainly adds to the entertainment and I have seen even better selection on YT which includes subtle dinks, back heels, ball hitting the bar and spin back in to the goal, or even hit the backside of the goalie to go in. All fun, but I doubt I’d want to be doing any of that that if it was 0-0 at 90 mins.

  • I wasn’t making any real statement there…

    But I will now… Tell me, what’s so wrong with a bit o fun and entertainment? I want much more of it.

    And, so much less of the other supporter preoccupation’s with money, Levy, stats, transfer wundow’s and all the rest…

  • Chill HT. I did say it was fun. Since you put up the link which is valid in the context of the article. Yes, I enjoyed it, but couldn’t help but notice the rules being breached!

    Anyway, I agree with the preoccupation comment. Here’s hoping for another 3 points at the weekend. COYS!

  • HT …. Me, too, which is why I sometimes like to submit a different article. There’s a lot more interesting football things to talk about than the ones you, me, and I suspect many others, get bored with.

  • Football administrators over the years have tried to make the game more exciting for spectators. They’d like to see more goals! Maybe one day they will drop the offside rule. That would mean the defences would have to be better at marking and more aware of their positioning and possible danger. Who knows?

  • No off-side rule sounds attacking and you might get more goals, but would it not take the game back to route 1 football, with teams having 2 or 3 Peter Crouches lined up in the box. If it’s all about goals, you could just make the goals wider, but that might also dillute the quality of goals scored. How about adjusting the points system: a bonus point if you score 3 goals in a game (win or lose) and 2 bonus points if you beat the opponent by 3 clear goals or more. That would encourage attacking.

  • It would make it interesting PLY. The recent ICC competition gave a point to the team that lost on penalties and two points to the team that won on penalties …. obviously it was a draw after 90 minutes. But they did change the points system to benefit the more adventurous teams.

  • Not sure the penalty kick needs tweaking. Love hockey though so can put this forth. The direct comparison is not there. Hockey is a small net 6’x4′ with a goalie wearing what seem to be larger and larger pads. One area where the hockey penalty could be seen to “tweak” the football penalty is in the limitations on keepers leaving their lines. IMO, the keeper should be able to move as soon as the shooter moves. Both should be set and, at the whistle, game on. That would stop all of the nonsense stutters and walk-ups etc. It would also release all of the other players so there’d be no encroachment. Just a thought. Would make it far more of a skill competition than a game of smoke and mirrors.

    As for clutching, grabbing, pushing, off ball fouls etc that continue to plague the game. The solution, I would argue, can and should come from hockey. Add another on field referee. 2 sets of eyes watching the play will, as it did in hockey, curtail the off the ball shenanigans, the holding, grabbing, pushing etc. It will seem strict at first, but the players will adjust and the game would benefit. It’s not about making new rules. It’s about making sure that the rules on the books, as much as possible, are applied. If more incidents can be seen, more will be called and, eventually, the more the players will stay within the edge that the rules permit. Hockey is better for it. Football would be too.

    As for disrespect and showing up refs/opposition/fans, it’s all already on the books. Just call it. It’s all about player management. Refs do it in every sport. It is fairly clear when players are going too far. Mimicking the brandishing of a card is a foul. So when Shelvey did it the other day, he should have been carded. It’s not that complicated. Class players make their points known to the ref while play is going on without drawing attention to it. Class refs do the same with players who are getting close to the edge, again, without making it a thing. It’s about respect for the game, the officials, the players and the fans. That is the expectation.

  • Geofspurs, offside is a tough one. I have long believed there should be no offside after the ball crosses the half-way line. There are wrongly called offsides in every game. Some affect play, some do not. There was at least one goal scored last week where the player was offside Still counted. Playing the offside trap, holding your lines are so intertwined in the game that it would be a hard change to make. I always wonder though, to what extent would that change the fabric of the game. It would definitely increase the number of goals until defences learned to cope differently. Then, as with other sports, the coaching and player selection would nullify that advantage. The problem since television is that now we can see the offsides. We know it was the incorrect call. Obvious calls are not the issue as everyone knows when that occurs. It’s the close ones that become the issue. Horse racing, athletics, etc, only have to have the technology in one spot. There is one finishing line. The offside line constantly moves. The assistant referees do an awesome job. They have to know where every part of every player was when the ball was struck and whether or not any part of any attacking player was beyond the trailing part of any defending player. With AVR, it can be gotten right-ish (multiple camera angles presented to officials who are trying to remove the “angle” to make the correct interpretation of player locations at the exact moment the ball is struck). There will still be incorrect calls.

    Video review has not solved all issues in hockey. When a goalie catches the puck in his glove and falls back in to the net, part of the glove is in the net. One presupposes, that the puck is likely fully over the line, but, as it cannot be seen, it cannot count. No system is perfect.

    I believe that VAR should only apply, as it does in rugby, to confirm that a goal is a good goal. Review them all. If no reason to nullify goal, it is good. But then, what are you reviewing. I recall a cup game last year where a Spurs goal did not count because Llorente (I believe) was adjudged to have impeded a defender (who IMO was not directly involved in the play and who was also grabbing at Llorente). Now, in my view, two players tussling for position off the ball should not have stopped the goal from counting UNLESS the official on the field had stopped play for that foul, which did not happen. VAR called that foul (obviously only the one against Llorente). Where was VAR the rest of the game to call all of the other things that the official missed?

    VAR should review the goal to make sure the play was onside and that no clear infractions led to the goal (handball etc). Beyond that, if the ref on the pitch let the players play, let them play. A second official might catch some of these other infractions and then the play will be stopped and no goal given. Goalie technology is amazing and is accepted. Other than verifying every goal as good or not, play should be called in play by the officials on the pitch.

  • Not sure about the penalty thing. I sat there on Tues evening and was enthralled as a bunch of the EFL games went to penalties after 90 mins of a one tie fixture. It was fascinating as Sky went around the grounds and showed them with one of the ties ending on 10-9. The penalty was always part of the game and I’m hoping it stays.

    My biggest gripe about the second point is the application of yellow cards in 1st halves of matches and even in general. In reality, the 1st half ones are becoming extinct because of FIFA’s obsession with keeping 22 players on the pitch. The exact same thing will happen in the second half and the ref will apply the yellow card without a thought. It’s nonsensical when you think about it and is encouraging the darker arts that Geoff is talking about.

    As a Spurs and England fan, in my mind I suffered massively last year because of it. Antonio Valencia in every first half of the 3 games we played had against Utd was either a yellow or red card, none given. We went to Italy and again it happened, but this time even worse as over the course of 90 mins Juve only picked up only 3 or 4 yellows cards for a cyclical display. In the home leg, the tackles by Khedira and Matuidi on Dembele and Davies weren’t even considered by the ref as our players lay prone on the floor. Imagine having both your centre mids on yellows so early in the games away from home when you’re behind. We then move onto the WC and watch as Lovren and Vida were tortured by Sterling. Lovren went 120 mins of that match and didn’t pick up a yellow card where video evidence proved there were 3 or 4, a couple of stonewall ones in the first half. That made Sterling the guilty party for apparently not impacting the game. I was there and he was sensational in that first half and deserved so much more from the ref.

    The point I’m making is that Spurs and England could have feasibly progressed further in Europe, FA Cup and World Cup if the ref had just applied the rules of the game at the right time. It’s not about whether Juve, Utd or Croatia were a better or worse team than us and deserved the results. It’s not even right to talk about “it balances itself out over the course of the season”. Its not about Spurs defence having 2 meltdowns in the CL costing us the fixture either.

    It’s purely about the referee applying the rules of the game consistently through the 90 mins and not being scared to punish players accordingly. When they do, they’ll get immediate respect like the rugby guys do and the game will be cleaner for it. If the inconsistencies of applying the rules continue, the nonsense will as well. We don’t want referees interpretation having such a big impact on games. Just apply the fecking rules that you were taught.

  • I think the penalty kick should be left alone, and the rules as they are, more rigidly enforced. After all it should be the penalty taker who should get the advantage, it is the other team that has offended and should be disadvantaged. Goalkeepers should be made to stay still and on their line as per the rules, rather than advancing 2 or 3 yards to effectively make the goal smaller as many do now. This would become even more important if penalties were routinely awarded for holding and shirt pulling by defenders at set pieces, as they should be. If penalties were awarded for this it would stop in half a season. Regarding players crowding refs or showing descent, yes it happens particularly with referees who struggle to command respect. The better referees like Oliver have less of a problem than some of the lesser refs, some of whom are frankly poor.

  • A measure or the current standard of PL referees is that FIFA saw fit not to select one English referee for the WC. For one of the top international nations, with probably the best league in the world, where everybody want’s to play, not to have a ref selected should be a wake up call.

  • Frank – actually, I love the idea of the fouled player being the one that has to take the penalty. Makes total sense and would bring a bit more excitement to the game.

    With referees, as I said above, all I want is them to referee by the rule book and I will accept their mistakes if they are honestly doing that to the best of their ability. A yellow card is the same whether it is in the 1st minute or the 90th minute. As you say, if a referee spots a shirt pull then he just brandishes the card and let’s see how long the cheating continues. This stuff isn’t actually that complex when you think about it.

    Most of these things come back to FIFA’s obsession of trying to make the game more entertaining. I remember when a back four could outwit the opposition, move up as a unit and get a player offside. Look how FIFA’s changes of the offside rule have ruined that art of defending with another player running through and scoring. Same as handball. If the ball was going to land at the feet of a striker in a scoring position in the box and it hit a hand, accidentally or other, it was a penalty. Not even a moments doubt in the refs mind and that’s how we used to play the game. It was much better. Now we have FIFA’s obsession with keeping 22 players on the field muddling with the referees heads that they can’t even make obvious decisions anymore without the fear of getting chastised by their employers for being too card happy. Yet they’re allowed to give the same yellow card if it’s in the 80th minutes and that player hasn’t already been booked. We see it all the time.

    Just shows what the governing bodies know about the pure game off football that they’re bit by bit ruining along with the money men in football.

  • muttley …. I still have a big problem with the ‘handball’ rule. I’ve seen too many penalties and free kicks given against players who did not ‘deliberately’ handle the ball. I know it’s often a difficult call for referees to make (and unless VAR is involved mistakes will always happen) but I believe there has to be deliberate handball for it to be given. Lifting your hand to protect your face should not be a foul, when the ball hits the hand without time to move it away it should not be a foul, when the ball comes from behind (out of sight) and hits the hand it should not be a foul. Difficult to call, I know, but some decisions are crazy. As always, it depends on the referee and, as Frank often points out, not all referees are consistent or on the same page.

  • Your observations on “handball” are absolutely spot on. I think that part of the problem with some referees is that know the rules, but many don’t know the game. They have to start refereeing so early, so as to progress through the ranks to get to PL status, that most don’t have the or opportunity to play the game up to anything like a decent level, so they referee by text book or edict from ruling bodies and little by personal experience. Experienced pros find it easy to con these rule book officials. It’s a pity that football can’t emulate cricket in that virtually all top officials are ex players, but of course there are factors like physical fitness and lack of financial incentives at work in football that don’t necessarily apply to cricket. TV punditry is probably a far more lucrative career path.

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