I have been watching many English Premier League (EPL), UEFA Champions League, and other European league matches on TV. In most of the matches in which a PK occurs, I notice that the referees do not penalize players for encroaching into the PA, nor the GK for coming off his Goal Line, before the PK is taken. For example, in the recent Stoke City vs Wigan Athletics EPL match on 12/12/2009, in the 90th minute of the match, Wigan was awarded a PK. As the Wigan player was running to take the kick, and just prior to making contact, at least 4 Stoke City players were already 2-4 yds into the box and the GK was about 2 yds off his line. The GK made the “save.” Neither the Referee, nor the Assistant Referee, indicated any offense to the encroachments.
In the ensuing commentaries, I heard it mentioned it was OK for the “back line” to encroach, but not the GK to come off his line.
Don’t these European leagues adhere to the FIFA LOTG? Or, am I missing something like an unwritten rule not to penalize the encroachments unless … ?
USSF answer (December 21, 2009):
We certainly cannot comment on calls made by referees in other countries; not our business. However, while it is not strictly in accord with the Law, many referees at the higher levels of play do not call the encroachment by either team unless it has some effect on the kick. If it DOES make a difference, then it had better be called, but either of those decision is up to the referee on the game. Do not attempt this at home.