ZURICH: The IFAB Board of Directors today approved a request from FIFA for a temporary dispensation relating to Kicks from the Penalty Mark (KFPM) in Law 10 – Determining the Outcome of a Match at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019. 

The Law currently states that “if the goalkeeper commits an offence and, as a result, the kick is retaken, the goalkeeper must be cautioned”. The purpose of the caution (yellow card) is to act as a deterrent to the goalkeeper to not infringe the Laws of the Game, in particular by not encroaching from the goal line before the kick is taken.

However, in matches where Video Assistant Referees (VARs) are being used, the presence of the VARs acts as an even greater deterrent to goalkeepers as they know that any encroachment will be detected by the VARs if it is not detected by the on-field match officials.

The IFAB fully supports goalkeepers being penalised for not conforming with the Laws of the Game and gaining an unfair advantage. However, for any KFPM during the knockout stages of the on-going FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 in France, a temporary dispensation has been given to FIFA from the requirement to caution a goalkeeper who is penalised for an offence which results in a kick being retaken.

The main reasons for this temporary dispensation include:

  • ·         the presence of VARs acts as a far greater deterrent than the caution
  • ·         the presence of VARs greatly increases the likelihood of any offence being detected and, as goalkeepers are likely to face a number of kicks during KFPM, there is a higher risk that a goalkeeper will be sent off for receiving a second caution if already cautioned in normal time, or two cautions during the KFPM
  • ·         unlike during ‘normal time’, when a sent-off goalkeeper can usually be ‘replaced’ by the team substituting an outfield player for a specialist reserve goalkeeper, substitutions are not allowed in KFPM so an outfield player would have to become the goalkeeper

Both FIFA and The IFAB therefore believe that the requirement to caution an offending goalkeeper in KFPM in matches with VARs is not necessary and risks unfairly distorting the KFPM if a goalkeeper is sent off.

The IFAB confirms that this temporary dispensation does not apply to penalty kicks during ‘normal time’ because goalkeepers have already received cautions for this offence during the tournament and it would be unfair to change at this point of the competition. In contrast, KFPM are only introduced for the forthcoming knockout stages.

The IFAB believes that this request could bring greater fairness to the FIFA Women’s World Cup; the experience gathered will enable further consideration of the impact of VARs on penalty kicks, and especially KFPM, in the future.