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Question Number: 26435

Law 1- The Field 6/10/2012

RE: recreation Adult

Brian Davies of Kirkland, Quebec, Canada asks...

I ref on a slightly smaller field than normal, yet the penalty area is a normal size. This leaves the area between the penalty area and the sides of the pitch very small. In all fairnest to the wingers should the penalty area be reduced proportionaly to allow for more space in that zone. Similarly the 18 yd box could be reduced to take the advantage the goalie has. All through balls are almost all taken by the goalkeeper. Should all penalty areas be proportionaly reduced. The field looks odd with these large penalty areas. thks

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

You don't say if this is for small-sided youth play or not. Often in small-sided games, the penalty area and goal area are reduced in proportion to the field size. For example, in 8v8 the U12 games I do, the penalty area is 14 yards, not 18. The center circle might also be reduced, to correspond to lower requirements for distance at free kicks (8 yards instead of 10).

However, note that for regular games the minimum size of the field in the Laws of the Game is 50 yards wide. The penalty area is 44 yards wide, so there is only 3 yards on each side between the penalty area and the side line. This is allowable and expected. If you make the penalty area smaller than prescribed, you limit the range of the goalkeeper's right to use her hands.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Brian
This is not unusual and some of the fields of play that I officiate on have similar dimensions. As the Laws require that the penalty are should be 18 yards that is the dimension it should be. Indeed when a well minded grounds person reduces the penalty area dimensions for the reason you cite that is not allowed and it must be rectified before play commences.
It is up to the teams to take account of the dimensions which can include tactics such as long throws, more active goalkeeping plus defenders must be aware of their position when making challenges.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

It is common for recreational matches to be played on a field that is too small for international standards. You use what is available. Both teams must deal with field issues equally, so that the match is fair. The dimensions of the goal and penalty area should not be reduced, except for u-littles.

Older players on a narrow field, however, can require more attention from the referee. The lack of space can cause tempers to rise as there is much greater likelihood of contact at every 50/50 challenge. The match may become very physical.

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