A couple of months ago, I was watching the UEFA U-17 Championship final, and it went to kicks from the penalty mark. It seemed like every single player was trying to place the ball at the very edge of the mark in order to have the ball a few inches closer to the goal. And every single time, the referee intervened. He made every player reposition the ball, and it seemed he wasn’t satisfied until the ball was at the center of the mark. To me, the referee was wrong.
Law 14 says the ball must be placed on the mark. And Law 1 says that the lines are a part of areas which they define. I know the penalty mark isn’t a line, but doesn’t the same principle apply to it? Just as a ball that is touching the imaginary plane above the touchline or goal line is in play, shouldn’t a ball that is touching the imaginary cylinder above the penalty mark be considered on the penalty mark?
Answer (July 22, 2012):
In order to ensure uniformity in penalty kicks and kicks from the penalty mark, the IFAB established the penalty mark in the form of a circle 9 inches in diameter; not a box or a simple line. The Law specifies that the ball “must be placed on the penalty mark” and “the ball is properly placed on the penalty mark,” not elsewhere.