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Question Number: 29340

Law 14 - Penalty kick 4/20/2015

RE: Adult

Garfield of St John's, none Antigua asks...

If during a penalty kick your head or other part of your body except your feet cross over the penalty area is that an infringment

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Garfield,

I would argue yes, technically. However, referees should ignore very minor breaches of the law; even if this is an infringement, we're talking about encroaching into the Penalty Area by a few inches. There's no point being that strict.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

The answer is technically yes however it is highly improbable that this will be called with the players feet behind or on the line.
More likely scenario is that that player will take a number of steps into the penalty area before being called.
My advice to referees is to only call the obvious breaches of Law 14 not trifling or doubtful ones.
So where is that supported in law
This is what the Laws used to state and I quote
** The Laws of the Game are intended to provide that games should be played with as little interference as possible, and in this view it is the duty of referees to penalise only deliberate breaches of the Law. Constant whistling for trifling and doubtful breaches produces bad feeling and loss of temper on the part of the players and spoils the pleasure of spectators**

This former International F.A. Board Decision (previously included in Law 5 as Decision 8) was removed from the Law only because it was felt to be an unnecessary reminder of the referee’s fundamental duty to penalise only those violations that matter. The spirit, if not the words, of this Decision remains at the heart of the Law. It is applicable to all possible violations of any of the Laws of the Game.
A trifling infraction is one which, though still an offense, has no significant impact upon play.

Have a look at this video. The referee made an error in Law here by awarding an IDFK to Reds instead of a retake. This happened as the last action of the game with the game ending some 18 seconds later. The last 18 seconds of the game was ordered by UEFA to be replayed including the retake of the penalty kick.
Had the referee simply ignored the step as trifling it would never ever have been questioned. Referee Marija Kurtes may struggle to retain her refereeing level because of that error in Law. While she may have been technically correct on a White step there were Red feet in the penalty area as well. Had she awarded the goal would anyone have noticed the trifling breach of Law 14?

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

Good question! If you look at most penalty kick situations, the players have their feet on the line of the penalty area and the referee ignores it. Perhaps this falls under that referee McHugh was saying as trifiling. I simply tell players to make sure they stay out of the penalty area, behind the penalty mark, and outside the penalty arc until the ball is kicked. Technically speaking if any part of their body crosses the plane of the line, then they are considered to be in that area. But again use a little common sense and discretion here.

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