Missed criterias, clothing bans, triple punishment and vanishing spray
The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the lawmaking body tasked with authorizing changes and amendments to the Laws of the Game, convened for its 125th Annual General Meeting in March 2011, in Wales. Their rule changes sanctioned will come law on 1 July 2011. Up for consideration were some of the following vexing issues:
Goal Line Technology:
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter announced that none of the ten companies which had been invited to test their technology had so far been successful in meeting the specific criteria set out by the IFAB meeting on October 20, 2010. IFAB therefore agreed to a one-year extension of Goal Line Technology tests. Blatter explained:
If you have no system which is responding to the criteria that has been fixed by this entity, you cannot just jump in.
We must first have the answer to our basic principles – accuracy, speed – which means the immediate delivery of the result – and a system that is not too complicated to implement. And we haven’t achieved these three things so far with our independent laboratory.
Therefore, it is a question of one year. What is one year? It is nothing. Just a little bit of patience is needed. But it was a very positive approach in the meeting …. and there was not one single person there, despite the fact that we had a lot of special guests today, going against the tests.
The ten systems all had to demonstrate they were 100% accurate and that they could transmit the result of a goal being scored, or not, to the referee within a second. Blatter said the issue of Goal Line Technology would be brought back to the attention of IFAB next meeting – March 2012, in London – when a final decision will be taken.
FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer, one of the body’s delegates to IFAB and General Secretary of CONCACAF said:
“It has got to be reliable, quick and affordable and nothing has worked at the moment. If anyone can meet that criteria I continue to be open to it. I don’t have a problem with keeping the testing open until we get something that works.”
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke mentioned that the world governing body are “ready to pay” for further goal line technology tests. The goal-line system developed by a British company, Hawk-Eye, was not one of the tested systems. FIFA has given the British company the assurances that they are still under consideration.
Hawk-Eye, the most established technology, having already conducted stadium testing at Reading in England, declined even to take part in FIFA’s experiment prior to the 125th AGM, apparently in anticipation of the difficult testing environment. Their version of the specific technology needed a stadium environment for their cameras. Hawk-Eye remains confident its system would pass Fifa’s tests – the company is in the process of being taken over by a larger company and it will be eager that IFAB will give them some guarantees that IFAB will want to continue with goal line technology in the future.
The ten technology Companies had only a few months to attain Fifa’s criteria of 100% accuracy and relaying results back to the officials with speed – and it proved too difficult a task for them.
IFAB is made up of representatives from each of the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland’s FAs, plus FIFA, the international governing body for football. Each UK association has one vote and FIFA has four. IFAB deliberations must be approved by three-quarters of the vote, which translates to at least six votes. FIFA’s approval is necessary for any IFAB decision, but FIFA alone cannot change the laws of the game and requires the support of at least two of the UK members.
The Welsh and Northern Irish Football Associations, which until now had backed FIFA in opposing any goal line technology, about turned their stance and are now also leaning towards supporting more tests on goal-line systems.
Fifa has announced a timetable for goal-line technology during 2011. Companies, interested in presenting their goal-line systems, need to declare their interest before 3 June 2011 to Fifa headquarters in Zurich and have to formally apply one month later with a $20,000 registration fee.
Presented systems will be tested during the first phase between September and December 2011, and all systems reporting a 90% or higher accuracy in simulated match conditions would be invited back for the second phase of testing, being conducted between March and June 2012. The second phase will be more rigorous, entailing the evaluation of the qualified systems under different weather conditions, shock resistance, immunity to electronic interference and under different types of playing surfaces. Trails will be held behind closed doors and manufacturers can choose their preferred stadium for conducting such tests.
Australia’s Ben Buckley has already offered Fifa his willingness to help out evaluating and testing goal-line technology within the Australian Football Federation. Said Buckley in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph:
“We believe the infrastructure of the [A] League is of high enough quality to give it a meaningful trial. [Australia] took the initiative on using video technology to penalize simulation retrospectively, and pleasingly you now see very, very little of that in our game. Everyone wants to see the correct decisions made by the officials, and this seems to be a way of supporting them in that.”
AAR’s during the EURO 2012:
A presentation was also made to IFAB on the use of Additional Assistant Referees (AAR’s) behind each goal line and IFAB approved the continued experimentation thereof in the EUFA Leagues and sanctioned it for the upcoming European Cup, EURO 2012, to be held in Poland and Ukraine.
The English Football Association (FA) asked IFAB to consider the use of ‘vanishing spray.’ The usage of coloured vanishing spray is common practice in Brazil and South America where officials use a spray on the grass to prevent the defensive wall encroaching on the 10-yard gap at free-kicks. The spray evaporates after a minute. The small canisters of spray are carried by referees in velcro clasps during matches. The CONMEBOL football federation was granted approval to trial the use of vanishing spray in their football associations.
Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct : ‘DOGSO’s ‘Triple punishment’:
The punishment of players, when send off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity, coupled with a penalty kick if this occurs in their own 18-yard area, as well as the follow-on administrative expulsion – guilty players may have to sit follow-on matches out due to specific league rules with regard to red cards offenses) was discussed. IFAB ruled that this issue, as well as the possible usage of radio communication in the technical area should be postponed and referred them both to FIFA’s Task Force Football 2014 team.
Snoods, Undergarments and Performance clothing worn underneath playing kit:
Snoods, or neck warming scarfs and/or hoods, are to be outlawed as from 1 July 2011 under Law 4 – Player’s Equipment. IFAB also clarified and re-iterated that the colour of the increasing popular usage of performance clothing (leg tights or baselayers), if worn, must match the colour of a player’s shorts. //
EDIT 19 May 2010: Fifa has legislated via IFAB on 18 May 2010 the specific feinting procedure allowed at penalty kicks. See end of article.
Penalty! The penalty kick, Law 14. Is the penalty kicker allowed to feint in the execution of the penalty kick? Well, it depends on what – admittedly artificial – type of feints you classify them into, or the Football Association you belong to, or the discretion of the referee if no guidance is forthcoming from his association. FIFA is apparently not 100% sure about where the line should be drawn either; the International Football Associations Board (IFAB) has reviewed the rule with regard to feinting at penalty kicks on 6 March 2010. They propose outlawing run-up feints to the ball altogether.
The issue of “feinting” underwent a significant change in 2000. Prior to that, the kicker was expected to make one continuous, uninterrupted move to the ball; in 2000 (based on the FIFA Questions & Answers), certain forms of feinting or deception were allowed. FIFA clarified in 2002 that the kicker may seek to deceive (or feint) at the taking of a penalty kick.
As a good starting point, the current Law:
Feinting to take a penalty kick to confuse opponents is permitted as part of football. However, if, in the opinion of the referee, the feinting is considered an act of unsporting behaviour, the player must be cautioned.
Simple, or is it? The rule makes it clear that feints, in principle, are part and parcel of football. It forms part of player’s repertoire of skill, to be able to feint and get your opponent off-guard. Reading the second sentence, the rule clearly implies that not all feint acts should be allowed. The Law puts an over rider in the second sentence, subjecting some feints to the discretion/opinion of the referee if it crosses the boundary into unsporting behaviour. Not all feints are equal in the eyes of the Law.
Which feints then are considered as being unsporting? Well, in the absence of examples, or criteria, we don’t really know. And Fifa doesn’t say. FIFA leaves the unsporting examples to the interpretation of the various football associations or to the referee’s opinion – a very broad discretion. It is up to referee and his common sense or sensibility. And this is the dilemma. What is actually considered legal? What actions cross the line from sporting to unsporting behaviour? Should we, in some form or not, take pity on the poor goalkeeper’s reduced chance of stopping a penalty kick? Or should it be a case of “Basta, tough luck dude, you wear gloves. Use them.”
The type of feints witnessed during my career are the following:
Stop-start runs before getting to the ball on the penalty mark;
Stop-start runs when getting within playing distance of the ball (1 metre);
Stop-start kicking actions where the kicking foot feints behind the ball;
Stop-start kicking actions where the kicking foot feints over the ball.
A combination of any of the above 4 (see video 2 – first kick – at end of this post)
It can be argued that making a distinction on the type of feints are all artificial. Some argue that if (1) and (2) above are allowed, but not actions (3) and (4), that it comes down to not being consistent with the definition of a “feint” and with Fifa’s general statement that feints are in principle allowed. The argument further goes that all 5 of the above feinting actions are allowed during dynamic play on the field, so why should it be any different during a penalty kick versus the goalkeeper and thus not allowed? [I don’t subscribe to this view. I sympathize with goalkeepers and their slight chances to save penalty kicks.]
A possible problematic situation arises for the referee’s decision-making process: the penalty kicker, due to his feint, induces the goalkeeper do move off his goal linebefore the ball is kicked. If the goalkeeper saves the penalty kick, do the referee now recall the penalty kick due to the goalkeeper’s Law 14 infringement in those instances where the referee rule the feinting actions to be sporting behaviour? Should the referee here apply the reasoning the penalty kicker cannot avail himself to a penalty kick recall if the kicker’s antics were the very reason for the goalkeeper’s infringement? Moreover, should this reasoning be applied to the analogous scenario where the attackers take a quick free-kick while some defenders have not fallen the required 10-yard distance back and thus intercepts the ball? As an upcoming referee on the Ask the Ref forum posted:
“My head hurts!”
BIG SIDENOTE: Statistically, penalty-taking success is heavily loaded in favour of the penalty kicker. In World Cup finals dating back to 1982, the penalty success rate ranges from 73% to 80% in 1998, the year after FIFA changed the law to allow goalkeepers to move on their goal line.
When it comes to the World Cup Final, it is a passion, and when it goes to extra time it is a drama. But when it comes to penalty kicks, it is a tragedy. — S. Blatter, Fifa President, 2006
“Hit your penalties as hard as possible,” is still a good option according to researchers at the University of Greenwich. Research there indicates that a penalty struck at more than 20 metres per second (73 km/h+) stands a greater chance of hitting the back of the net than a slower one, as a goalkeeper has less time to analyse visual clues and react.
Exhaustive analysis in competitive international football during the World Cup, European Championships and the Copa America show some fascinating results regarding kicks from the penalty mark (penalty shoot-outs). [Jordet et al, 2006, Journal of Sports Sciences]
The average % success rate converting penalty kicks in World Cups are 71.2% compared to 82.7% in Copa America versus 84.6% in European Championships, possibly reflecting the greater importance and consequent pressure being on a bigger world stage for kick outcomes. The success rate of each penalty kick changes throughout the competition:
1st kick 86.6%
2nd kick 81.7%
3rd kick 79.3%
4th kick 72.5%
5th kick 80%
‘Sudden death’ kicks 64.3%
For the most part a penalty kick is a zero-sum game according to empirical and statistical evidence. (For an interesting take on the game theories behind penalty kicks, read this article.)
Once the penalty-taker kicks the ball, it takes roughly 0.3 seconds to hit the back of the net—unless the goalkeeper can somehow prevent it from going in. That is simply not enough time for the goalkeeper to pick out the trajectory of the ball and intercept it. He must guess where the striker will kick and move just as the ball is being struck. Therefore, a goalkeeper who does not guess correctly where the ball is going to go has no chance.
Game theory, applied to the problem of penalties, says that if the striker and the keeper are behaving optimally, neither will have a predictable strategy. The striker might favor his stronger side, of course, but that does not mean that there will be a pattern to the bias.
… each choice of [penalty shot] should be equally likely to succeed, weighing up the advantage of shooting to the stronger side against the disadvantage of being too predictable. If shots to the right score three-quarters of the time and shots to the left score half the time, you should be shooting to the right more often. But as you do, the goalkeeper will respond: Shots to the right will become less successful and those to the left more successful. It might sound strange that at this point any choice will do, but it is analogous to saying that if you are at the summit of the mountain, no direction is up. – Tim Harford
One irate forum dweller succinctly posted the following in trying to define the line between unsporting and unsporting feints.
“There is only one (almost immobilized) defender during a penalty kick on the goal line, 12 yards away. The goalkeeper. What little chance the goalkeeper has to stop the ball going into goal consists of a “good guess” where the ball is going. Should we now allow the penalty kicker to feint drastically to eliminate the “good guess” possibility?”
Yes says Brazil. No says South Africa. What you allow in your country is not sporting, according to my association, SAFA. By now, you get the point. At best it is, in the absence of FIFA giving direction in classifying certain type of feints as permissable or not, a murky situation. At worst, it’s downright confusing in delegating the discretion to various associations trying to come up with a solution to consistency and clarity. After all, Fifa has previously given clearer direction in certain rule applications for the sake of clarity and consistency.
I propose FIFA should do so again. Or, at the very least, give some examples as a guiding light to our broad discretion. That’s what I want as a referee. The players deserve that too. I don’t expect the Law to cover any and all possibilities. And FIFA, as custodian of world football, owes the football fraternity clearer direction on the referee’s wide/broad discretion when feints are unsporting behaviour, or not.
So what do I propose? I humbly suggest (c) below. This proposal will still be compatible with Law 14 (Penalty Kick) and Fifa’s current stance pertaining to feints:-
(a)allow feints at penalty kicks
(b)allow no feints, as the opposite extreme
(c)if (a), then some criteria or basic examples what types of feints are permissible, or not.
Currently FIFA is dictating (a) above without giving any criteria/examples, save for the referee’s very broad discretion/opinion. And now Fifa is proposing (b) as a possible rule change on 6 March 2010! Unclear indeed, wouldn’t you say?
In the absence of clear direction, clarity and consistency falls victim to confusion and inconsistency. Each referee/Association will use his/their discretion to try and define and make a distinction what type of feints are permissible or not. If you are, as national referee, lucky enough in that your Association gives direction and concrete criteria as to how you should apply your discretion, well… you are the blessed few.
Laws loath to narrow discretions down to simple examples, lest they not cover all eventualities. If you believe this to be spot-on and correct, be warned. You cannot have a wide discretion as defined in the Law and have consistency in its application. My applied discretion as referee, in the absence of any criteria from Fifa and/or direction from my association, is based on what I believe, subjectively, as to what feint acts are unsporting. My opinion is certainly not going to be necessarily consistent or in line with a referee from another association, another country or continent, or even from the same country! Clearly to be avoided, you would think.
Some Football Associations do try and clarify the line between sporting and unsporting behaviour at penalty kicks. The USA Soccer Federation (USSF) for example, in a memo dated October 2004 on this subject, identified 4 specific actions by the kicker that could constitute unsporting behaviour:
the kicker delays unnecessarily after being signaled by the referee to proceed,
the kicker runs past the ball and then backs up to take the kick,
the kicker excessively changes direction during the run to the ball,
the kicker makes any motion of the hand or arm which is clearly intended to misdirect the attention of the goalkeeper.
USSF referees have to abide by the above ruling. My association, SAFA, agrees with actions 1, 2 and 3. SAFA has yet to consider/rule on #4 with concrete examples. SAFA may come to the same conclusion as the USSF on this point. Most of the EUFA associations also loath the “step-over” feinting action (kicking initially over the ball in the air).
A valid argument can be made (and added) if the kicker feints so well with his stop-start run-up action and thus duping opponents and team mates alike into entering the 18-yard penalty area before the ball is kicked, that such actions are an example of misconduct and to be cautioned with a yellow card. This type of mass confusion at penalty kicks are frowned upon, particularly in the USSF and in most EUFA associations.
It’s not that the above notable endavours by various Associations to try and classify certain feints as sporting/non-sporting are without merit. They are striving for some clarity. Its Fifa’s lack of direction for so long in allowing the various Associations their own interpretations, which sows confusion. With Associations stepping in and instructing their national referees how the Law should be applied, we have the scenario where no two associations might – and do not – agree. What feints are allowed in, say for example Brazil, will not be allowed in my country South Africa, or England. Again, inconsistency in interpretation from country to country, association to association.
Should FIFA re-examine the definition of “feint” to get some clarity?
Feints are maneuvers designed to distract or mislead, done by giving the impression that a certain maneuver will take place, while in fact another, or even none, will; A deceptive action calculated to divert attention from one’s real purpose; A mock attack or movement designed to distract an adversary. — Webster Dictionary
Back to the Law. Fifa opinions that feinting is part of football. Movements to mislead, or maneuvers to distract or mock attacks to confuse opponents are allowed. This ties in with FIFA’s basic premise that the lawmakers (IFAB) do not want to take feinting skills away from such players. Thus, all player movements connected directly to the action of executing a feint should, in principle, be allowed anywhere on the field.
In practice, all body actions/movements of the players arms, legs and torso to distract or confuse while taking the penalty kick should then be allowed. For example, stepping over the ball and not kicking/touching it during the player’s initial kicking motion falls within the ambit of the Law and the definition of a “feint.”
This is the stance and reasoning at one end of the spectrum, as followed by some South American countries, in particular Brazil.
In Brazil they call a well-executed feint a “paradinha.” Portuguese for “little stop.” A little stop in the run-up to the ball on the penalty mark, a little stop in the actual kicking motion of the kicker. In Brazil a step-over is legit. No artificial feinting distinctions for Brazil. The viewpoint, as per my Association, that kickers are only allowed to feint in their run-up action and that it’s not legal to feint with the actual kicking action/motion once players arrive within kicking distance of the ball (defined as 1 metre) are being scoffed at. It’s too artificial a distinction for Brazil!
In the land of the 5-time World Champions, it is reasoned – reasonably some would say – that to feint is a God-given talent. And skill damnit – Pele and company put it on the map decades ago! It’s a real art to feint properly, to feint completely, to feint with conviction. For Samba players, fooling an infield player or the goalkeeper for that matter should be no different, so they argue.
FIFA disagrees with Brazil. Said Sepp Blatter on the “paradinha”:
This is cheating. This “stopping” must be stopped.
In Brazil, the reasoning is that there is no point in run-up feints only. This type of feint alone is just not that convincing. Whether it’s the run-up action or the kicking action itself, it’s all legal. They are classified as feints and as such should be allowed. Brazilian referees seem to agree. Have a look at the examples below.
For the record, the first two examples below are NOT allowed in South Africa. In Brazil there seems no sympathy for the goalkeeper if he gets thoroughly fooled by the deceptive actions of the penalty kicker…
And this one from Fred in Vasco-Fluminense …
The gods certainly smiled in this example, taking pity on the poor shot-stopper’s soul …
I propose: Bring back clarity and consistency will follow!
Edit: The International Football Association Board (IFAB), soccer’s rule-making body, amended on 18 May 2010 Law 14 (The Penalty Kick) as follows:
Feinting in the run-up to take a penalty kick to confuse opponents is permitted, however feinting to kick the ball once the player has completed his run-up is now considered an infringement of Law 14 and an act of unsporting behaviour for which the player must be cautioned.
The decisions concerning the Laws of the Game taken by the International Football Association Board will come into effect on 1 June 2010.
“We saw some video examples, which make it clear it’s very unsporting when the player gets to the end of a run up, feints to kick completely over the ball, the goalkeeper goes in one direction, the player pulls his foot back, and kicks the ball in the other direction,” IFAB member Patrick Nelson, chief executive of the Irish Football Association told reporters. “It’s clearly unsporting.”
Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke admitted it would be a race to introduce the new rule in time for the World Cup on 11 June 2010. “We have to make sure the referees, players and coaches understand what it is about and will use videos as an example for the players to see where we are coming from.”
Fifa decided to go for option (c) as suggested above. In my humble opinion the most reasonable decision. Only run-up feints (stop-start runs) will be allowed. Kicking action feints will now be sanctioned with a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
Agenda of Fifa’s 124th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 6 March 2010
Goal line technology is up for discussion (again) on Fifa’s 2010 annual general meeting come March, as promised by Mr. Blatter.
Points up for discussion and consideration are proposals/amendments submitted under the regulations of IFAB, the International Football Association Board tasked with changes to the 17 Laws of the Game.
But it seems Fifa has pulled the plug on all forms of technological aids for referees, judging by this statement:
The 124th Annual General meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in Zurich on 6 March 2010, which, as is the case with every FIFA World Cup year, was chaired by myself on behalf of FIFA, … IFAB decided not to implement technology in football. FIFA supports this decision, based on the following points:
The universality of the game: one of the main objectives of FIFA is to protect the universality of the game of association football. This means that the game must be played in the same way no matter where you are in the world. If you are coaching a group of teenagers in any small town around the world, they will be playing with the same rules as the professional players they see on TV. The simplicity and universality of the game of association football is one of the reasons for its success. Men, women, children, amateurs and professionals all play the same game all over the world.
The human aspect: no matter which technology is applied, at the end of the day a decision will have to be taken by a human being. This being the case, why remove the responsibility from the referee to give it to someone else? It is often the case that, even after a slow-motion replay, ten different experts will have ten different opinions on what the decision should have been. Fans love to debate any given incident in a game. It is part of the human nature of our sport.
The extended use of technology: the question has already been raised: if the IFAB had approved goal-line technology, what would prevent the approval of technology for other aspects of the game? Every decision in every area of the pitch would soon be questioned.
The nature of the game: association football is a dynamic game that cannot be stopped in order to review a decision. If play were to be stopped to take a decision, it would break up the rhythm of the game and possibly deny a team the opportunity to score a goal. It would also not make sense to stop play every two minutes to review a decision, as this would go against the natural dynamism of the game. — President of Fifa, Sepp Blatter [FIFA.com]
Dr. Errol Sweeney, a former professional referee that officiated in South Africa, touches on a subject (see Football365.co.za – Opinion) that I encountered recently in a National First Division (NFD) match.
Law 4 Player’s Equipment notes the following regarding the issue of colour: “The two teams must wear colours that distinguish them from each other and also the referee and the assistant referees.”
Dr. Sweeney opinions that Wits coach has no reason, according to the Laws of the Game, to complain. While I agree in principle, I also humbly disagree, as it all depends on the amount of tape used. The coach of First Division side Ikapa Sporting, Sergio dos Santos, was rather amused when I informed some of his players to either change the colour or reduce the amount of tape used around their stockings/socks if they want to take the field of play. Though dos Santos made no issue about this, he asked my reasoning for this sudden “rule change”.
Well, it’s quite simple really. It’s no rule change, but common sense, aka Law 18: His opponents had white stockings. Ikapa Sporting players had black stockings. These players taped up a third (and some half) of the socks with white duct tape to uphold their shin guards. One player even had white socks over his dark stockings. Thus, up to half the stockings of some players were the same colour as their opponents. So we have a situation were some players had colours that obviously did not distinguish them from their opponents socks, but are the same, and to a large degree at that. How does this impact play?
The coach or his players might not be confused, but I have difficulty in establishing a last touch of the ball if I look down at players legs.
EDIT (2 Nov09): FIFA has with interest noted the usage of tape over the hose/stockings/socks of players slipping into the game of football. FIFA, being forward thinkers, and having seen this issue creeping in to the Fifa U20 World Cup in Egypt recently, issued the following directive:
Tape (or any such) may only be used if it is the same colour as the main colour of the hose/socks.
FIFA contends that tape changes the colour of the socks/hose, thus it is in contravention of the provision of the Laws of the Game. The ruling of FIFA is based on the same principle as that which governs the colour of undergarments. There is no official notice from FIFA via circular letter yet – as this takes time – but we can be proactive in South Africa and take action while awaiting FIFA’s official directive to the confederations.
The only endeavor left now is to get consistency in application of the ruling via all referees here in South Africa.
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