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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33791

Law 14 - The Penalty kick 12/3/2019

RE: Adult

Craig Osborn of Johannesburg, Gauteng South Africa asks...

What is the rule on encroachment into the penalty area? If a player has a foot grounded outside the penalty area as the ball is struck by the penalty taker, however he has started his movement towards the ball and although parts of his body are over the line he has not grounded any part of his body in the penalty area. Is this still considered encroachment even though the only ground part of his body is outside the area?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Craig,
the fact a ball is considered inside the PA if a portion is overhanging or breaking the plane of the 18 yard pk boundary line line lends credibility to the fact a player leaning over that line is indeed encroaching into the area ahead of an actual step. As indicated by my colleagues offside is adjudged in this manner but for the sake of a realistic impact I would not see this as an encroachment at a PK because it is simply too vague & unnecessary .

At the grassroots level, absolutely no none is looking to retake a PK for a minor encroachment that simply has ZERO impact on the outcome of play in a clear miss, clear save, or clear goal. If a rebound is offered up, THEN, an encroached player, who shoots or clears might well be held accountable for an early entry and we could be retaking or INDFK out! This assumes the encroachment was CLEARLY visible to the officials in charge. A step in or lean is just not going to cut it.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Craig
It very much depends on the context. For example in a grassroots game a referee is not going to be concerned about the minutiae of body positioning whereas it can be in VAR. In grassroots it is not going to look like encroachment so it will not be called.
In VAR the advice is that only situations where there is impact on subsequent play is it going to be reviewed.
On review is leaning over the line going to be called and in my opinion no whereas a clear step into the penalty area before the kick will be called when that player subsequently interferes with with play.
It will not be reviewed if there is no impact on play.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Craig,
All the law says on this topic is that, ''The players other than the kicker and goalkeeper must be: [...] outside the penalty area''

The laws do not actually define exactly what encroachment is - or at least, not to the level of detail that you are apparently seeking.

The only place where the laws say anything about the player's position in relation to a line that is remotely similar to this, is in the definition of offside position where it says that a player is in an offside position if:

''any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents' half (excluding the halfway line)''

If this definition were applied to a player in terms of encroachment, then it would include situations where part of the players head, body or feet is over the line - but I have to stress that there is nothing to suggest that the definition used for offside should be applied for what is a completely different part of the law.

Given this lack of specificity, I feel that pretty much leaves it up to the referee to decide what they will use as a definition for encroachment. Personally, I don't think I would use the offside position criteria and I would only consider it encroachment when the player has actually set a foot down on the ground inside the penalty area. Others might see it differently but since we all know that encroachment is relatively rarely called anyway, I'd be surprised if any referee would penalise such an infinitesimal degree of encroachment.

As ref McHugh alluded to, if VAR were in use they might be looking at it more closely but for VAR purposes, encroachment can only be reviewed if the player subsequently becomes involved in a way that affects the chances of a goal being scored or prevented, after a rebound.

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