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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000


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Question Number: 34329

Law 16 - The Goal Kick 9/4/2021

RE: Under 19

Larry of Danville, CA USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 34327

Peter, with much respect I have to disagree that law 16 is clearly written. It does clearly state that “The ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves”. However it then states “If an opponent who is in the penalty area when the goal kick is taken, or enters the penalty area before the ball is in play, …”. Now isn’t that the exact same thing? Why add the “or” phrase?

It then continues the above quote with “… touches or challenges for the ball before it is in play, the goal kick is retaken.” So if a player is in the penalty area and challenges for the ball before it is kicked, i.e. in play, (something I have never seen) you retake a kick that has not happened yet. Clear as mud.

The question still remains as to what to do when a player is in the penalty area and challenges for the ball after it is kicked and before it leaves the penalty area? I think the intention is to retake the kick, but the Law does not say that.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Larry
We know that many of the Laws are poorly written and in some cases open to interpretation. The LotG is a fairly simple document with a limited number of words. To cover off everything in a legal way would make the book run to a very lengthy tome. The intention has been to keep it simple.

As to the current wording it is clear to me that the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves and that if there are opponents inside the penalty area play should continue. As you know this is the procedure as written in Law 16
# The ball must be stationary and is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team.
# The ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves
# Opponents must be outside the penalty area until the ball is in play.

The law goes on to quote what was answered by Referee Grove which as we know takes account of the quick goal kick. It says **If, when a goal kick is taken, any opponents are inside the penalty area because they did not have time to leave, the referee allows play to continue.** The only abstruse part is the last sentence.

So to answer your question an opponent who is inside the penalty area CAN challenge an opponent for the ball inside the area once the kick is taken. The ball does NOT have to leave the penalty area to be in play so when the ball is in play it most certainly can be challenged for by any player. The LotG in 19/20 stated **At goal kicks, the ball is in play once it is kicked and clearly moves it does not have to leave the penalty area **

As to the last sentence the IFAB authors tried to use much of the old Law 16 as previously written and is trying to continue the distinction between the opponent who is inside the area and the opponent who is outside and coming into the area which was the historical position on this..
The final sentence is abstruse and it does add a little confusion because we know how this is working in reality. In my opinion that sentence could be improved by removing the words BEFORE.
What it does mean or what I take from it is that a referee if he felt that the goal kick was compromised by an opponent at the kick either by a player who was inside the area or by a player moving into the area that it should be a retake and that would not be contrary to law.



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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Larry.
for me personally, I certainly endeavor to follow the LOTG as they are explained. Based on historical as well as practical fair play criteria, I do have very definitive ideas as to what the game expects and the value of what the players expect as well & in my opinion a good grasp of WHAT they intended. For example, I disliked the changes to the LOTG on handling but I understood what it was they were trying for. The changes in wording to reflect clarifications can at times SEEM redundant or misleading because they try to use as few words as possible to explain rather than long drawn-out explanations.

The goal kick newly allowed, the ball is in play when kicked and moved, rather than travel completely outside the PA boundary lines created some new defensive & attacking adaptations, The FACT the free kick 10 yards is not mentioned because goal kicks are taken in the goal area which is farther away from the PA outside boundary lines. The FACT the opposition are STILL required to withdraw OUTSIDE the Penalty area has made the short pass playout from the back a VERY plausible attacking principle upon the restart of play. Unlike previous times where the keeper simply pounds the ball down the field as the safest method.

I am in complete agreement with my colleagues that it is indeed CLEAR that opponents inside the PA at the taking of the goal kick must be headed outside of the PA and doing nothing intentionally to interfere with the taking of the goal kick. This includes not moving into the passing lanes to prevent the path of the ball flight, standing or remaining close to the ball location in an effort to wall off a section of the field or inhibit an unmarked player from being available to pass that ball into. It also prohibits them when outside from coming back inside the PA to challenge BEFORE the ball is kicked.

This is not an opponent who winded or hurt, lying on the ground trying to get up & ir is in the process of making their way out and the attacker places the ball to kick it into him has a leg to stand on. You cannot draw a card for delay of a restart or failure to abide by the distance when circumstances allow no time to do so. and it is clear the intent of the kicker was to create a problem.

Under the old LOTG often opposition players outside the PA had to wait until the ball LEFT the PA but would often cross into the PA chasing a ball passed to a wideout defender by the touchline. Occasionally an opponent would be inside the PA and disregarded as trifling because the goal kick successfully cleared the ball yet I saw many retakes simply BECAUSE opposition players were inside the PA BEFORE the ball left!

That part of the LOTG is gone.
Once the ball is kicked and MOVES they can all pile inside.
In fact, if the team taking the goal kick WANTS to restart they can do it WITH the opposition STILL inside.
However, the same as in ANY free kick the opposition is NOT bound by any restrictions ONCE the ball is kicked into play.
They can turn and begin to challenge, they can now pursue the ball and go towards the ball carriers.
It is what they do BEFORE the kick that we observe! At the set up did they move in closer to challenge the kicker? Did they alter their way out of the PA at the closest point into one much farther away to intercept or block a side pass out?

When a keeper has 6 seconds upon catching a ball and an opponent who is in behind him will cut out in front as the keeper tries to punt the ball wind up getting hit claiming it was the keepers choice to release the ball and he was exiting thus was not technically interfering with the release which we know it absolute BS.

Much different than a keeper in a hurry to go is unaware of an opponent and chooses to release or kick the ball and THEN the unseen opponent dashes in. If this was an active play release we are fine with it.

However, in the case of a goal kick RESTART where an opponent can not legally be inside the PA is such a tactic unfair & contrary to what is EXPECTED? If the keeper elected to make a short pass to his defender and out from behind the left post an opponent hiding or lollygagging runs out to intercept. Is it buyer beware? The choice or purchase to go was a poor one, a mistake to be paid for. Or did the opponent cheat or bend the laws in an unsavory way? On a free-kick technically the decision to go is the kicker's own choice and they shine if it goes well but suffer if it goes poorly as long as the referee is of the opinion the opposition did nothing to delay or challenge the right to put the ball into play

The LOTG say**
(1) Opponents must be outside the penalty area until the ball is in play.
(2) If, when a goal kick is taken, any opponents are inside the penalty area because they did not have time to leave, the referee allows play to continue.**
So the (MUST BE ) is not adhered to by the opposition due to the decision of the team WITH the ball Yet we need not ignore if the opponent had in fact compromised the restart by not complying. NOT (because they did not have time to leave) and using our own common sense as to the reasoning to retake or let it play out the same as any free-kick restart elsewhere on the FOP !



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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Larry,
I see what you mean about that specific phrase within the law not being quite logical. However I still think the overall meaning is sufficiently clear. It reminds me of the situation with the old version of the offside law which also had a logical flaw in it but which everyone understood anyway.

I think my colleagues have laid out in quite some detail, the basic principles on how to treat this, probably better than I could. As was mentioned in previous replies, it is in some ways analagous to encroachment at a free kick.

I have to say I haven't seen any referee have a problem with interpreting this law or any controversies over it so again, I think it's sufficiently clear for people to understand and implement it, despite the flawed wording in one part of it.



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