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Question Number: 34165

Mechanics 3/21/2021

RE: Under 19

Jeremy of Chicago , Il Usa asks...

What is the proper mechanic if an AR needs to call a penalty kick? I have heard various mechanics... pointing flag at foot skirt between legs run to corner flag. I think that you don’t want to have the AR signal a foul in the penalty area with the typical flag waggle to draw attention to it. So should an AR just do something without the foul flag waggle to be discreet so the CR can come talk to them?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jeremy,
The Laws of the Game document gives guidance on how that AR should signal various different offences.

Here's what it says in relation to penalty decisions.

"Fouls inside the penalty area

When a foul is committed by a defender inside the penalty area out of the vision of the referee, especially if near to the AR’s position, the AR must first make eye contact with the referee to see where the referee is positioned and what action has been taken. If the referee has not taken any action, the AR must signal with the flag, use the electronic beep signal and then visibly move down the touchline towards the corner flag.

Fouls outside the penalty area

When a foul is committed by a defender outside the penalty area (near the boundary of the penalty area), the AR should make eye contact with the referee, to see the referee’s position and what action has been taken, and signal with the flag if necessary. In counter-attack situations, the AR should be able to give information such as whether or not a foul has been committed and whether a foul was committed inside or outside the penalty area, and what disciplinary action should be taken. The AR should make a clear movement along the touchline towards the halfway line to indicate when the offence took place outside the penalty area."

Unless the referee, in pre-match instructions, has given a different procedure, you should follow the guidelines given above.

One important point is that, as implied by that wording, the AR should take their cue from the referee. Firstly, as I mentioned, by following the instructions given in pre-game and secondly by checking to see if the referee is handling the situation, before taking any action. Unless you are absolutely sure you have seen something that the referee has definitely missed, you should defer to them. Getting eye contact as advised in the guidelines, is the first step towards making sure that the two of you are on the same page.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jeremy
Our colleague Referee Grove has outlined the proper mechanics as approved by IFAB and they are set out in the Laws of the Game booklet.

Now in the past there were a variety of signals used that were used by ARs to signal to a referee that in the opinion of the AR that a penalty offence had been committed. Those included the one you mention which has been referred to as the "skirt" signal. In this part of the world the same signal was made with the flag across the chest.

The signal now has been spelt out in the law book so that is the signal that is to be used. Unfortunately with older referees the remnants of the use of the cross the body flag has continued with some while other referees who do not like ARs calling penalty offences are very specific in the Pre Match discussion to advise ARs how they want penalty offences to be dealt with. Some do not want ARs flagging for penalty decisions and only want ARs to help in determining the position of the offence of inside or outside the penalty area.

What these referees do not want to happen is that an AR signals for a penalty kick which the referee does not agree with and that the CR then has to wave down the flag. That places the referee crew in the position of public disagreement which can be unhelpful in match control.
The key for ARs is to first make eye contact with the referee which will assist the AR in his mechanics. If the CR is a few yards from it looking at the offence and he waves any appeals away then the AR should not flag. On the other hand if the CR is a distance from it and / or unsighted due to players in the way he will need assistance on the call.

I remember in one particular game an incident where there was in my opinion minor contact between a defender and an attacker who where stood on the goal line just inside the penalty area near to the AR. The attacker was shielding the ball and the defender was trying to get to it. The ball was then kicked out for a corner kick and I shout corner kick. I noticed the AR was fumbling with the flag yet when he heard my shout signalled for a corner. At half time I asked him what happened in the incident and he said he forgot the penalty kick signal as he was going to signal for a penalty as he felt that the defender made contact on the foot of the attacker as he was attempting to play the ball. In my opinion it would have been a very harsh penalty kick and I told him that. If he had flagged it I would have been in a dilemma as to whether to accept his flag or not. I am still unsure to this day what I would have done and I suspect I would have taken the flag. I know what it is like to have a flag for a challenge offence waved down by a CR and the difficulty it caused for me and for the game.
I recall one other game where an AR was in my opinion and in the opinion of other referees at the game trying to referee the game in his half from his touchline. He was flagging for offences that were not in his "area of control". Thankfully there were no major decisions in the game up to half time and then I had to advise him that I only wanted him calling offences in his vicinity. Ultimately an AR is there to assist the referee and as we know there is differences of opinion as to what constitutes an offence that has to be called.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Jeremy,
using the IFAB protocols, national football associations try very hard to achieve consistency in the training programs so that any 3 officials can work a match with the knowledge of proper mechanics already ingrained as muscle memory behavior by instilling good habits.

The only real hurdles are perhaps the level of experience each official brings to the match and whether their character reflects any sort of an attitude in which the CR runs the match without regard for the input thus angering the ARs or the ARs overstep & try too hard to control the match from the touchline, thus irritating the CR.

A good pregame should help reinforce the concept that displaying unity is the more effective way of managing a match promoting confidence amongst the players, coaches, and spectators. The idea behind eye contact and awareness of the CR position is to permit the CR the choice of stopping play assuming he is aware of the incident. Once eye contact occurs often a discreet thumbs up or down or head shake or nod is all that is required to say yup nothing there I agree or a hand on the throat to indicate, better get a grip that was dicy, or even a finger pull wave of, come here, point to mouth, we should talk. ANY conversation/talk between AR and CR should be PRIVATE.

If the CR blows for a foul go ahead and raise the flag to support. If the CR yells out, No nothing on contact in the PA do not try to overrule by raising the flag even if you disagree. If there is a REAL issue always pass on that information BEFORE any restart of play ends the opportunity to correct an injustice. For an AR to raise a flag and wiggle it to indicate a FOUL inside the PA that AR should be 100% certain the CR had NOT seen it. A CR should have every confidence in the AR tootling down to the goal line with a wiggling flag, in essence, getting ready for the PK for something in behind their vision or back that if they had seen what the AR saw they would have signaled a foul.

I recall as AR I witnessed VC by a hotheaded defender via a jumping kick to the back of the legs of an opponent who had his back turned. It was a CLEAR DFK with the red sleigh ride a certainty for the violent conduct. I signaled by raising then vigorously waving the flag for the CR, moving toward midline while reassuring the kicked attacker, who after picking themselves up was ready to fistfight. "I saw it! Do not worry! Do not retaliate! It will be dealt with."

Instead of coming to see me & discuss what I saw, the CR allowed both teams to flood into the FOP and trail him, listening to our every exchange. He was hollering across the FOP, ALWAYS a bad idea. With no privacy, surrounded by every player, I explained the incident in no-nonsense terms like vicious, unprovoked violent misconduct. The defender's team said, "Well he must have done something for our guy to kick him." The referee not only did not send the defender off or reduce them a player he showed them both a yellow card and restarted with a drop ball, not a free-kick. I did not demand he show a red card or send off or comment publically that it was an idiotic decision, but you can imagine what I felt or thought! The comment made by the spectators watching who had witnessed what I had seen, conveyed those thoughts pretty clearly anyway! lol

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