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Question Number: 32193

Law 16 - The Goal Kick 1/23/2018

Larry of Danville, CA USA asks...

If a goal kick is taken and an opponent runs through the penalty area (prior to the ball leaving the penalty area) and either intercepts the kick outside the penalty area, or immediately challenges the kicking team for possession outside the penalty area, what is the restart? I think it should be a retake of the goal kick and my reading of Law seems to confirm this, but I was informed by a knowledgeable ref that FIFA has stated it is an IDFK taken outside the penalty area where the ball is played, or challenged.

I also assume there would be no change in your answer if instead of a goal kick it was a free kick taken from inside the penalty area. Correct?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Larry,
The law says the following:

''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, touches or challenges for the ball before it has touched another player, the goal kick is retaken.''

My reading of this is that you are correct and in the scenario you describe, the goal kick should be retaken.

I have to say I would be a little surprised that FIFA would have had anything to say about this. Since the IFAB became a permanent statutory body with its own legal status and physical headquarters in 2015 - and declared that from that point on, all matters related to the Laws of the Game should be referred to them, FIFA has stayed away from making pronouncements about the LotG, to the best of my knowledge. As far as I am aware, the IFAB have not made any statement such as your friend refers to.

I would ask your refereeing friend if they have a source for this statement and if there is one, perhaps you could let us know about it.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Larry,
I know the scenario you're referring to.

The wording in the LOTG is a little confusing as it could be interpreted to suggest that as if the attacker has cut across the corner but the defender gains possession before being challenged, then it's legal.

Sometimes the laws are written in a way that doesn't convey their true intent - there have always been problems with the exact wording on the laws in some instances being at odds with their intent. The current laws actually instruct referees to consider the spirit of the game in their interpretation.

I think the simple fact that the attacker entering the PA is pressuring the defender, even from a few yards away would be enough to satisfy the interpretation of 'challenging' the ball. It makes no sense to interpret that law to say 'the moment a defender touches the ball, it doesn't matter where the attacker was'.

But the referee needs to make this decision quickly - and probably once it's at the stage of 'pressure' is sufficient.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Larry
There has been no change to Law 16. In this instance the goal kick is retaken and the specific scenario is spelt out in the Laws as quoted by Referee Grove
Sometimes myths start because someone has read somewhere about suggested law changes. Your knowledgeable friend is mistaken.
Even if a defender deliberately played the ball inside the penalty area on a goal kick the goal kick is retaken. He could be cautioned for delaying the restart of play yet the restart does not change. It is probably more willful gamesmanship if done deliberately than a forward taking a short cut across the corner of the penalty area

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