Penalty Kick Changes

Although changes to the kick-off in this season’s rewrite of the Laws are well known now, this is not the case with changes to the taking of a penalty kick.

Not changed is that with the exception of the nominated kicker and the goalkeeper, all players must be on the pitch, behind the penalty mark and at least 10 yards from the ball before the kick can be taken. They must remain there until the kick is taken.

But now here is the first change. The Law previously said that the ball was in play when kicked forward and moves. If therefore the ball was kicked backwards, it wasn’t in play so no foul could be given and the kick was retaken. But now it says that the ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves. But it also says it must be kicked forward. So if a player kicks the ball backwards, it is an offence and an indirect free kick is awarded to the defending team.

There is a classic video of Lionel Messi stopping at the end of his run up at a penalty and pretending to kick the ball, which sent the goalkeeper diving one way. Messi then kicked it in the other corner of the goal. The goal was disallowed and the kick was retaken. Now the kick would not be retaken but the kicker would be cautioned and the defending side awarded an indirect free kick. This would also be the punishment if a player other than the nominated kicker took the kick. I saw this happen in a televised game last season, where a player ran past the nominated kicker and scored.

If the goalkeeper comes off his line before the kick is taken and saves the ball, the kick will still be retaken but now the goalkeeper would also receive a yellow card. All other infringements such as encroachment are treated as previously so there’s plenty for the referee to think about.

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