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Question Number: 22787

Law 14 - Penalty kick 2/1/2010

RE: Regular Adult

George Kandakai of Queens Village, NY USA asks...

What does FIFA rule say about penalty kicks when the kicker runs to kick then stops to see the goalkeeper's reaction before kicking the ball?

Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

FIFA's Interpretation and Guidelines state:

'Feinting to take a penalty kick to confuse opponents is permitted as part of football. However, if, in the opinion of the referee, the feinting is considered an act of unsporting behaviour, the player must be cautioned.'

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi George
The Law is not clear on what is unsporting behaviour in feinting at a penalty and it is left up to the opinion of the referee. There is some tacit knowledge of what is acceptable among referees and that should be discussed in an area to help gain some form of opinion and consensus.
My personal take on it is that as long as the goalkeeper has a sporting chance of making a save then all is okay. What I would consider unsporting behaviour is say where the penalty taker pretends to kick the ball, the goalkeeper makes a genuine dive to 'save' the ball and then when the keeper is on the ground the ball is kicked into the open goal. The goalkeeper has no chance of a save here and that should result in a retake. Another unsporting one would be where the penalty taker makes gestures or shouts at the goalkeeper on the run up to the ball.
If on the other hand a player runs up to the ball, slows down, almost stops well before the ball with the goalkeeper watching that closely without making a move and then when the ball is kicked dives as normal to make a save then that is okay in my opinion.
However I know some referees who will not allow the stopped run up and it is a retake in their opinion. They question the likes of Ronaldo's penalty kicks but I do not see any problem with his PKs.

Indeed I have seen a penalty recently in Europe like the first one I described above and the referee allowed it despite protests from the goalkeeper and his team mates. In my opinion it was a retake but the referee in the game allowed it and that's all that counts really.

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Answer provided by Referee Tom Stagliano

As a referee and former (very former) goal keeper, feints and stops are fine, as long as they are Before the player could kick the ball.

If a player starts 6 yards from the ball, jogs forward 3 yards, then stops, then starts toward the ball. Fine. Three yards away from the ball means the kicker can't kick the ball.

However, if the kicker plants the Plant-Foot (the non-kicking foot) next to the ball and then merely swings the kicking foot back and forth like a ballerina, that will get my whistle and a re-take every time. Once you plant the Plant-foot and start the kicking foot towards the ball, there had better be a kick.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

As my colleagues have noted, some degree of feinting or 'legal deception' is allowed - but most importantly, what is allowed is up to the referee. If the referee in that game, that day, those teams decides the stop and then kick is unsporting, it is unsporting. If she decides otherwise, then it is otherwise.

Which I suppose means any kicker who tries feinting at a penalty kick does so at his own risk. If the referee decides it is unsporting, then the kicker gets a caution and a retake. Hope it isn't his second caution...but even so, a teammate can take the kick then.

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