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Question Number: 34103

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 1/19/2021

RE: Competitive Adult

Peter Babbage of Hjorring, Denmark asks...

There was an instance at the weekend where half a players body was in the area and half not. So a penalty was given. So I’m a little confused here. On that basis say a player like Peter Crouch was leaning right forward for a header but was fouled with say only his head in the box , is this still a penalty then?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
Without VAR these types of calls are extremely difficult.
If there is any doubt then in my opinion no penalty should be called.
However if the referee is of the opinion that the player is inside the area and by that I mean the body part that foul contact is made on or inside the line then it is a penalty.
For instance if it is a trip and the players leg which is tripped is on the line or inside then it is a penalty.
If the player is leaning and the same trip contact is outside the line then while the lean might break the plane of the line that for me is not a penalty.
At grassroots my advice is to err on the side of certainty and context.
If a player is tripped on the line and it is fairly obvious it is inside then i am for giving that as a penalty.
If the player is leaning just over the line and the contact part looks outside then it is a free kick.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Peter,
the short answer is no!
Leaning into or hovering over the PA boundary line is NOT a reason for the PK. By definition, the LOCATION of a contact foul is (blade of grass) specific. On the line or inside the boundary area is where that point of contact should occur. The difficult ones are what I call the charging or holding fouls where contact is maintained while entering into the PA! As it is more advantageous we move the free-kick inside for a PK . I agree at the recreational level be 100% sure no guessing. Use that same degree of cynicism at each end to be consistent. A good AR may certainly be helpful but as a single official for thousands of matches, I always tell the players! " I am not perfect but I strive to be fair and only call what I believe to be true! "

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Peter,
It's a good question and a challenge for officials. Fouls are always considered at the point of contact. If an attacker is running into the PA, one leg is in the PA and one leg is out, and they get kicked on the part of the leg that is outside causing them to fall over, then it's a FK, not a PK. As Ref Dawson states, fouls that are continuous - or repetitive (eg multiple kicks) are taken from which position is most advantageous. But you have to be able to differentiate between the defender having a second crack at their legs, and 2 players just falling over each other as the incidental result of the foul that occurred outside.

Handball is a bit different - the entire ball is either in the PA, or out of it - no such thing as the ball being partially in, so we judge it based on the location of the ball - not the part of the ball that is being touched.

So, how to deal with this? If I have ARs, I cover it in my prematch - if I am giving a FK around the edge, I want them to signal if it's in or out. Either stand in line with the 18 yard line - or even backtrack if they're between that line and the goal line - or move straight into their PK position.

Often I'm refereeing on a field where I can't even see the PA line from more than 10-15 yards away, so at first I have no idea if it's in or out. What I do is - the moment I've decided the foul occurred, I stare at the exact blade of grass that the foul occurred on. Stare at it. No matter how far away I am, I can at least manage to do that. I keep staring at that blade of grass as I run in. Nothing can break my glaze from that blade of grass - absolutely nothing. Keep running until it becomes apparent where that blade of grass is in relation to the line.

As already stated, if you're not sure, then it's outside the PA - but by approaching it the way I have, even when I couldn't see the line when I blew the whistle I've been 100% confident in my decision.

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