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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33342

Law 6 - The Other Match Oficials 5/13/2019

RE: Under 19

joshua of nunya bizniss, california usa asks...

question regarding AR flag signal mechanics when calling a penalty kick.

i know it isn't listed in the LOTG, but in my area we still tend to do the 'skirt' AR signal for a penalty kick rather than the official signal of wiggling the flag for a foul then running towards the corner flag, I guess maybe because of the confusion that can cause for lower level referees.

if still using the skirt, is the proper mechanic for an AR to signal a PK is to give the normal raised flag wiggle to indicate the foul then give the skirt signal after the CR blows the whistle (likely resulting in CR coming to have a discussion)?

i just did a few games this past weekend where the referee told me to do the skirt signal but to not even signal for a foul, if something occurs in the box and the CR looks to you, ONLY do the skirt signal to 'avoid the coaches/players/spectators seeing an AR call a PK' which sounded like utter BS to me but i wasnt going to fight about it

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Joshua
If we look to the reason why the skirt signal or equivalent was introduced was because referees did not want to openly overrule an assistant on a possible penalty kick decision. It was a sort of a 'Not Obvious' signal between the officials where an assistant could signal for a foul and the referee could take it or not without it requiring a wave down and all that entails.
Clearly the law makers did not want that situation to prevail so the correct signal is outlined in the Laws. Now we know that these *old* customs and practices prevail. We use a flag across the chest to signal end of normal time. Not in the book either yet it is used and does work.
In your area this needs to be sorted as a group. There is no point in some ARs going on a crusade of insisting on the correct signal and getting into conflict with the referee.
In our area as a group we have been *instructed* by our association to use the correct signal. As a result it does not arise.
In your situation I would go with the referees instructions until the correct signal is uniformly applied by all. Ultimately it is the referees game to call and as you say there is little point in getting into conflict before kick off particularly on something that may not arise. The amount of AR penalty calls on their own are extremely low.
I will recount a story of this which happened a few seasons ago. Attacker is stood just inside the penalty area on the goal line, on the ARs side and he is shielding the ball. Defender challenges and seems to make some minimal contact on the opponent and then pokes the ball out for a corner kick. Some lame appeals for a penalty kick. I looked at the AR and he was flustering with the flag. I shouted out *Corner Kick* and he points to the corner flag. At half time I ask him about the incident and he felt it was a possible penalty kick and he forgot the signal? I was somewhat relieved that he did not flag for a penalty as in my opinion it was not. At best trifling and doubtful. A less obvious signal would have allowed him to tell me he thought it was a penalty which would have allowed that to be factored into my decision making.
So very obvious flags do cause a furore when not taken. In the recent Ireland v Greece U17 an offside flag was overruled in the last minute of the game on a goal. The referee was 100% correct yet the flag caused a right end of game furore. Had the AR stood his ground without the raised flag to say he was not happy that would have solved it without any fuss. The raised flag looked like the referee wanted to award the goal and to disagree with a colleague who saw it as offside. It could not have been offside yet that got overlooked in the process.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Joshua,
Flag mechanics for a penalty can be tricky. As an AR, I always ask the ref what they want because so many refs give so many different instructions. Some want the flag up like a normal foul, some want me to sprint to the corner, some want me to make eye contact and nod...then there's the old teaching in Australia to conceal your flag behind your legs while making eye contact. I'm sure I've missed some!

Different regions have different conventions for this. Regardless, the purpose of less-visual signals such as the 'skirt' signal, or the 'flag behind the legs', is that it's discrete - the referee can recognise it for what it is, but it doesn't risk conflict by the AR flagging and having the ref overrule. So that would be why your referee didn't want you making a normal foul signal first - because it's at odds with the purpose of the skirt signal.

Penalty kicks are highly contentious at the best of times - having an AR call a penalty can make it even worse, and referees often don't know much about the AR's they're working with, and don't know if you're a bit too trigger happy. Raising the flag can back the referee into a corner - a discrete signal can avoid that.

To be clear, I'm not saying that AR's aren't to raise the flag for a penalty - as I said, do what's conventional in your area.

Personally, I only want the AR to raise the flag if it's something I've completely missed - that is, I'm not even looking at the AR (so probably behind my back). Otherwise, if it's contentious I'm looking at my AR and I'm happy with a nod or shake of the head. And that's partially because, working at grassroots with AR's of varying experience levels, I don't want the consequences of my AR raising the flag when it's not a penalty.

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