During a sudden death penalty shoot out the away side’s two weakest kick takers have gone down, writhing around and claiming they have hamstring injuries. Their manager says they can’t take their kicks, so now the first two takers, penalty experts, should go again. What do you do?

USSF answer (March 3, 2010):
Under the Laws of the Game, either or both of the two sides may be reduced to one player during kicks from the penalty mark, so the number of kickers is not an issue. In this particular set of circumstances, if there is no doctor available and the players assure the referee that they are indeed “injured,” the referee has no recourse other than to accept their statements at face value , bolstered by whatever evidence the referee may have (appearance, surface injury, statements by a trainer, player’s mother, etc.), and begin the kicks from the penalty mark with the “available” number of eligible players. In any case, all facts must be reported to the competition authority.

If the referee has any doubts about the players’ true state of health — and who would not, with such an apparently crass display of poor sportsmanship and the attempt to bring the game into disrepute — he must make that clear in his report. The final decision is up to the competition authority.

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