Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 32430

Mechanics 5/7/2018

Stewart of Livermore, CA USA asks...

My question is concerning the proper location of the CR during a PK. They always stand in the penalty area, off to the side and behind the ball. Since players can be anywhere along the 18, in fact they can be on the side of the PA as long as they are behind the ball, the CR might need to be very wide to keep all players in front of him. This wide position results in a tough angle to view shenanigans by the players on the 18, and players around the arc might be completely hidden from view. It seems to me that once proper ball placement is confirmed the better position would be beyond the 18 several or more yards, but still off center a bit. This way all players are between the CR and the AR, allowing him to keep an eye on the kicker (for possibly stopping his run to kick the ball), and to see encroachment or fouls by the other players. It also allows the CR to move more easily to obtain a better angle if the shot is blocked or rebounds off the goal. Thoughts?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Stewart
The Laws of the Game shows the position of the referee at a penalty kick. It is the traditional position and one that has evolved over many years. On observation it would be the position that the referee would be expected to be in at a PK.
The fact is that 80 percent plus of penalty kicks are scored and that the key factor is the ball, the kicker, the goalkeeper and the goal line plus subsequent play.
Slightly behind and to the side of the ball ticks most of the boxes to view all that. Encroachment if it is blatant will still be picked up from that location and if the shot is saved the CR is placed in a way to see the subsequent follow up play clearly.
I referee a good deal of games on my own as there are not enough ARs and I tend to be forward more to watch the hairline goal possibility.
Experienced referees will always say that there is no *right* positions yet the *best* position is the one that the CR gets the best possible view of play and subsequent play. So maybe in .001 of kicks where VC might be picked up in the position you suggest is not going to cover the 99 plus percent which is the priority for the referee.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Stewart,
The 'proper position' for a referee at a penalty kick is as shown on page 185 of the Laws of the Game, 2017-18 edition and is as you describe, 'off to the side and behind the ball.'

As ref McHugh points out, it is the position that has been found to be optimal, based on decades of accumulated experience and is the position that is recommended in the laws.

Although players could theoretically be positioned on the side of the penalty area, that doesn't happen in practice - probably because it puts them a minimum of 22 yards from the ball whereas by positioning themselves behind the ball they can be as close as 10 yards away, by being on the arc or on the edge of the penalty area where it meets the arc. I personally cannot recall ever having seen a player take up a position on the side of the penalty area and in a quick scan of YouTube penalty videos I couldn't spot any examples of it either. So I would say the chances of a player being behind the referee and out of their view are minimal and I think it makes sense to go with a position based on the more likely scenario.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Stewart,
First off, positioning guidelines are often designed to have a NAR. If you are by yourself or have a CAR, then you need to consider that you don't have an impartial goal line judge. In that case, I'd stand on the goal line, around the edge of the Goal Area. That puts you in perfect position to judge ball over the line if the keeper saves it right on the line. Also means you judge keeper coming off his line - and really, you can still judge blatant player encroachment from there. Ref McHugh has stated he'd be more forward but not as forward as myself. Positioning - except where prescribed in the law - is largely about recommendations anyway.

The reason for the 'behind the ball' stance is it puts you in a reasonable position to judge encroachment by players, and to have credibility if you do order a retake for this. In fact, pointing out that the player ran past you before the kick is taken will really help you sell the decision!

You should be to the side enough that you can, if turned side-on, still see almost all of the players except for the occasional one up around the corner behind you.

Read other questions answered by Referee Jason Wright

View Referee Jason Wright profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 32430
Read other Q & A regarding Mechanics

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.