Player Disappears During Kicks from the Mark

An adult referee asks:

Kicks from the penalty mark 11 v 11 and all subs used.Last player on one side scores their 11th as it is now sudden death but the other team player says they are too injured to take theirs, possibly fear of losing the game?

Answer

This will likely not be the last time we entertain questions regarding how the 2016/2017 Laws of the Game changed elements of the Kicks from the Mark (KFTM) process.  This question, at least, is one of the easier ones (the really difficult questions will emerge after enough experience accrues to highlight the less well known ins and outs of KFTM).

Before proceeding, however, we need to clarify some terminology.  There is no such thing as “sudden death” in the KFTM procedure.  If the tie has not been broken by the time five pairs of kicks have occurred, the process moves to a phase in which the two teams take kicks in pairs and the tie is broken only if one team has scored and the other team has not. The term “sudden death” would be applicable only if the tie is declared broken (and KFTM is ended immediately) because the first kicker in the pair was successful.  In point of fact, both teams always have a chance to kick once the first five pairs have finished with the score still being tied.  In fact, this requirement for there to always be a second kick is at the heart of the question here.

With that settled, the scenario we are faced with here is fairly simple. The teams have started with 11 v. 11 and not lost anyone so far through ten pairs of kicks due to a send-off or injury.  We come then to the 11th pair of kicks with two and only two players (one from each team) who are eligible to kick in the 11th pair.  The team which started each pair of kicks is up and its 11th player kicks.  The opposing team by rule must also have the opportunity to kick using its 11th player.  Note that, so far, it doesn’t matter whether the first kicker of the pair scored or not.  The referee, who has been keeping track of who has kicked so far (assisted by the AR in the center circle), calls for Red #55.  No one comes forward.  Calls again but still no one.  Maybe Red #55 isn’t even there (not a likelihood in a high level match), maybe he or she has become ill (but has not officially withdrawn), or perhaps (as in this question) Red #55 is merely feigning injury for unsporting reasons.  With some variations, it really doesn’t matter why Red #55, the last eligible Red player, will not come forward to proceed with the 2nd kick of the current pair.

There is nothing in the Law dealing directly with this.  The closest “on point” guidance is in Law 10: “Kicks from the penalty mark must not be delayed for a player who leaves the field of play. The player’s kick will be forfeited (not scored) if the player does not return in time to take a kick.”  Note that this language is specifically directed at a player who has left the center circle where all eligible players are required to remain(excepting only the goalkeepers), hasn’t returned, and therefore is delaying the taking of the next KFTM.  It is a fundamental principle of interpreting the Law to find the core issue and expand from there and this delay is the prime issue.

Red #55 is clearly delaying the KFTM by not coming to the penalty mark when called to do so as the last possible player eligible to kick.  Law 10 says that we should declare Red #55 to have forfeited his or her opportunity and to be marked as having not scored … and now, finally, it makes a difference as to what happened when the last Blue player took his or her team’s 11th kick.  If it was successful, then the Red team failed to score and the KFTM is over, favoring Blue.  If the 11th Blue player had missed, then so also had the 11th Red player (our unresponsive #55): the two teams remain tied and so the referee must move to the 12th pair (thus beginning a new round).

Red #55 could be cautioned for all sorts of reasons — leaving the field without the permission of the referee, delaying the restart of play (if you count a KFTM as a “restart”), or simple unsporting behavior (showing a lack of respect for the game, which might be particularly pertinent if Red #55 were feigning an illness or simply willfully refusing to take the kick entirely despite being present).  Whether cautioned or not, this behavior must certainly be included in the match report, as well as any factually supportable evaluation of the player’s reasons (it would be up to the competition authority to determine punishment, if any, for the recalcitrant Red #55).

Anything beyond this is pure speculation.  For example, in a 2nd round, would Red #55 still be eligible?  If no longer eligible, then does “reduce to equate” apply and the Blue team must drop one before proceeding to round 2?  Let’s save these and related issues for another day.

Misconduct Before the Match

An adult referee asks:

When can a referee show cards before the game as the new laws talk about when the game starts and during field inspection?

Answer

This is actually one of the more interesting Law changes announced in 2016.  Previously, referees were allowed to show yellow and red cards for misconduct before the match (from the time they entered the area of the field) and after the match (from the end of the match , including any tie-breaking procedures, to when the officiating team left the area of the field.  More to the point, a yellow card issued before the match “counted” if a second yellow card were issued during the match — the second yellow would earn a red card just as if the first caution had occurred during the game.  A red card before the match, which resulted in the usual dismissal from the field, did not also result in the team having to play “short.”

With the 2016/2017 Laws, however, the International Board changed things in two ways.  First, no cards (red or yellow) could be displayed, regardless of the conduct, before the opening whistle of the match and therefore a “second yellow” send-off could only be based on cautions issued during the match (not before or after).  If any misconduct occurred before the match which would otherwise warrant a send-off (e.g., spitting or violent conduct), the player involved would still be sent off and (as before) the team could still field the same number of players.  In either case, all misconduct before or after a match, including otherwise cautionable offenses, must be documented in the match report.

Something else changed as well.  The International Board decided to mark the beginning of the “before the game” time by the appearance of the officiating team for the purpose of conducting the inspection of the field.  While this sounds acceptable, the Board was thinking of international and national  matches and other very high level matches where much of what happens is governed by tight schedules and highly ceremonial activities (such as formal field inspections).  In these kinds of matches, the officiating team is usually sequestered in stadium rooms until their first official appearance and so their formal entry onto the field to begin their publicly visible responsibilities under Laws 1, 2, and 4 is easily recognizable.

For most of us, though, things are much looser, less regimented, and often complicated by assignment schedules which include multiple matches where the same officials, as a team, may be “at the field” for long periods of time throughout the day.  This makes it difficult to determine the precise moment when the authority to send off a player before the game actually starts.  Our advice to you is that it starts when you decide it starts (and, likewise when the match is over, when you want your authority to send off a player will end).  It would be a good idea not to abuse this flexibility by, for example, marking the start of your before-the-game authority by when you drive into the parking lot or the end of your authority as late as the middle of the next game!

The bottom line in all this is that you are no longer authorized to show any cards before the first whistle or after the end of official play (including overtime and other tie-breaking procedures mandated by the rules of competition).  You can send off any player, substitute, or substituted player before or after the game (within the limits described above).  All misconduct before or after a match (cautionable or red cardable) must be included in the game report.