An Answer with No Question

We don’t normally do this but, based on some recent conversations, we think advising you of the following official clarification of the 2019-2020  Laws of the Game that was issued by the International Board (IFAB) last August deserves some space here.  Interestingly, it is not actually a “clarification” but a new interpretation or practical guideline.  Either way, it clearly directs referees to make a change in how they handle one specific violation.

There is a very useful table at the end of Law 14 which summarizes penalties for various violations connected with performing a penalty kick (not all, but the most common ones).  The third one down from the top involves what to do if the goalkeeper violates Law 14 by not having at least one foot on the goal line between the goal posts (technically termed “an encroachment”).  If a goal is scored, the violation is ignored and the goal counted but, otherwise, the goalkeeper is cautioned and the penalty kick is retaken.

The IFAB issued a Circular (#17) on August 21 last year which introduced (as a “clarification”) a change under certain circumstances in the referee’s response if a goalkeeper lunges or steps entirely off the goal line before the kick is taken.  Instead of retaking the penalty kick and cautioning the goalkeeper, the referee should ignore the foot placement violation if the ball leaves the field or rebounds from the goal frame unless the goalkeeper’s violation “clearly impacted on the kicker.”

While the IFAB provided only one clear example of impacting the kicker (the goalkeeper prevents a goal), the interpretation seems clear that the goalkeeper making any contact with the ball should result in a retake (and caution) but the goalkeeper’s “encroachment” where no contact with the ball occurs should usually result only in a continuation of play (a goal kick if the ball leaves the field, a resumption of regular play if the ball stays on the field as, for example, if the kick rebounded from the goal frame).

To the best of our knowledge, neither the NFHS nor the NCAA picked up this IFAB change and applied it to their 2019-2020 season, though either organization may do so for 2020-2021.