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Question Number: 31021

Law 5 - The Referee 11/14/2016

RE: Rec Adult

Russell of Sydney, Australia asks...

This question is a follow up to question 31014

100% agree regarding using commonsense in this instance.

Fortunately the LOTG do give us an 'out' with the notion of using commonsense, however, it is interesting that the same commonsense is not applied when the playing surface of the penalty mark or that immediate surrounding it, is poor to the extent that it is obviously going to hinder the kicker (yet the overall FOP is not deemed unplayable). Players ask if they can re-position the ball a little left, right or back, yet we have to say 'sorry'.

Over the years, this site and others (based on the LOTG) have often said that players cannot re-position the ball to a location just off the penalty mark when the penalty kicker feels that the playing surface of the actual penalty spot, or that of where the pivot leg would be planted during the kick - is noticeably poor (typically water or mud effected, or possibly an uneven surface).

Given that those who have taken (or defended) a PK will agree it is as much about the state of mind as it is about the state of the ground - one could argue that by manipulating the surface in any way to allow the ball to remain stationary in the wind, allows the kicker to have better peace of mind and that that therefore is in fact gaining an advantage on the conditions at the time.

The awarding of a penalty is compensation for an illegal act, yet without being allowed to use commonsense, the kicking team might be now disadvantaged to some degree by the playing surface in that 'blade if grass' location.

I'm sure I too would use commonsense in the situation the clip shows, but I am just highlighting an apparent inconsistency in the provision for the application of commonsense.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
Sometimes the referees role is about ensuring that both teams are satisfied in Law with the outcome of a decision rather than just one. Case in point is the penalty kick ball placement. The defending team may complain about the incorrect positioning of the ball so the referee is obliged to ensure that ball is positioned according to the Law not in front or behind or to the side. I have always found a location that satisfies the kicker and is legal albeit by a hairs width
This is where a good pre-match inspection pays off. A waterlogged PK spot or one that is a huge depression can be dealt with before kick off. It may not be required yet if the mark is inspected and ensured that it is fit for purpose the problem does not arise.
On the wind problem I would have no problem with trying to position the ball so as to ensure the kick is taken. I doubt if the defending team had any problem with the actions of the kicker as both teams would do the same.
At the local level with just perhaps the two teams there the referee can use Law 18 commonsense to get the job done. At the higher levels of the game with much at stake there is less room for an inventive referee. Having said that I recall former Pierluigi Collina now Head of Refereeing at UEFA recount in his book where he reverted sides back to their first half positions after half time due to crowd trouble caused objects to be thrown at the goalkeepers by the opposing fans. It did not happen in the first half so he reverted back to the first half positions with the agreement of the teams and played the game out without incident. That is not in the LotG and I am not sure too many referees now would use that solution and the game would be abandoned.
In a Youth game that I did some time ago which was played in inclement conditions both teams indicated to me that they did not want to play 20 minutes of extra time and wanted to go straight to penalties. As I had agreement of both teams I agreed to the request and the game was ended on KFTPM. That is the result that I reported and there was no issue with the decision.
So it is not black and white and the referee has to find the solution to problems that arise that satisfy both teams. When there is no agreement the Laws of the Game and competition Rules apply which is the reason they exist. Commonsense is not exclusively the referees remit when challenges are faced.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Russell,
at the elite level they have a lot of money and prestige invested to get a match in. With a huge number of talented, trained people to monitor and to prevent these things from occurring. I have seen late delivery of flags to the FOP even at the highest levels and literally 20 people gathered around a pk spot draining the excess water and moping it up prior to KFTPM.

I have worked thousands of matches as single official never once was I unable to find away to deal with adversity. I have worked equally with ARs and in sanctioned competitive matches and equally, never once, was I unable to find away to deal with adversity. On a windy day I held the ball steady with my foot on another we piled sand in a water pit pk spot to give the ball a chance to be above water When they popped the only game ball I went and bought one at the store and we played on. I had a friend deliver extra boots and shin guards to the field along from our league drop off inventory with my own teams away jersey/shorts and socks when a travel team lost their baggage car in an accident. Also used pinnies and t shirts for kits, and the kit bags as corner flags. Found portable nets and repaired standard goal posts and crossbars with my tools from the truck. Used flat cones to delineate the field or technical areas as well as a 20 kgs of flour. We cut the field grass with our personal mowers when the city and the workers were fighting over wages to do the work and lined the fields with weed spreaders. If there is a way, those that want too, find it!

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