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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 23002

Law 14 - Penalty kick 3/25/2010

RE: Rec Under 19

aw of barrington, IL USA asks...

Law 14 The Penalty Kick. Although it is not specifically stated in Law 14, I have always been curious as to why a team can select the player to take a penalty kick. One of the great things about soccer is the ability of players to exhibit multiple skills (passing, shooting, dribbling, defending, positioning, fitness, etc.). The taking of a penalty kick should be part of that skill set. Instead the game allows a 'specialist' to be called on to take a PK. Wouldn't it be simpler, and more interesting, to have the player who was fouled (or created a handling infringement) take the penalty kick? Why the need to call on a 'specialist?' Your opinions are always appreciated.

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

So next game, you'd prefer the selection of the goalkeeper to be arbitrary too? That's a specialty position.

The Laws tell *what* players may or may not do. Sometimes that is dependent on which team is doing it (e.g. player positions at a kickoff: only the kicking team can be in the center circle). Other times it's individual (e.g. goalkeeper permissions and restrictions or second-touch restrictions on a player taking a restart).

But nowhere in the Laws does it say *who* must do something. Only that something is to be done. Selection of the *who* is left to the discretion of the team/captain/coach.

Besides, there's some offenses that do not have an individual 'victim'; the offense affects the team as a whole.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

By your logic, the guy who gets fouled out on the open field must take the free kick. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. It isn't a decision for the referee to make, nor would I want for that to become part of the Laws. Then you have the headache of who kicks if the fouled player is injured, and it just goes downhill from there.

In the long run, or even in the short run, it doesn't matter. Even the 'specialists', if a team even has one, don't score every time. That's part of the excitement of the game - nobody knows for sure what will happen at a PK or free kick.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

By that logic, not only would it need to apply to any free kick, but you'd also make the nearest player take any restart, and the goalkeeper take the goal kicks.

A player in the penalty area still has the option to pass the ball to any teammate - it would be unfair to suddenly force a weaker player to take a penalty kick when, had he not been fouled, he could have passed it to the best kicker anyway.

Also, what happens if the player is fouled off the ball? Do you force the player that was fouled, or the player with the ball to take the kick? What if it's difficult to determine which player has the ball, or when there's 2 attackers trying to take possession? What about handling, when no player is fouled?

Doing as you suggest means the referee needs to make another decision with potential match-changing consequences. This introduces another risk of inconsistency, and another way in which the referee can influence the outcome of a match.

Let's keep the referee out of the way as much as possible and allow the teams to take restarts however they choose.

Don't forget, the team can also change their keeper at this moment - and occasionally I have seen teams who have one player who is better at stopping penalty kicks than shots taken in typical play.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Interesting proposition but it is not going to get any support from the soccer community worldwide.
It has been a principle in all sports that the team gets to choose who should carry out certain plays/tasks rather than it being decided for the team. Many times the selection of specialists by the team does not work out and recent kicks from the penalty marks in major tournaments has proven this.
Another point about the game is that it has been ultra conservative about change and the fundamentals have been the same for over 100 years.

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