Soccer by the Rules – Penalty Kick – Part 1

By Joe Manjone, Ed. D.

This is the first of two articles on the Penalty Kick.  This article will be a discussion of the rules concerning the calling of a Penalty Kick and Part II which will appear next month will provide information on the rules concerning the taking of a Penalty Kick.

Penalty Kick is defined in 18-1-bb as A kick awarded to a team because an opponent was charged with a direct free kick offense within his/her own penalty area.  This definition is reinforced in Rule 14-1-1 that indicates: A penalty kick shall be awarded when a foul which ordinarily results in the awarding of a direct free kick, occurs within the offending team’s penalty area.

Thus, a penalty kick can only occur if a direct free kick offense occurs.  As provided in definition 18-1-m, a rule infraction that results in a free kick is called a Foul, thus a Penalty Kick results from a foul inside the penalty area that would if outside the penalty area result in a direct kick being given to the opponent.

The fouls resulting in a direct kick are listed in Rule 13-2-1. They are: a. a player spits at, kicks, strikes, attempts to kick or strike, or jumps at an opponent; b. a player trips or attempts to trip an opponent; c. a goalkeeper attempts to strike, strikes or pushes an opponent with the ball; d. a player other than the goalkeeper in his/her own penalty area, deliberately handles the ball; e. a player pushes an opponent with the hand(s) or arm(s) extended from the body; f. a player holds an opponent; g. a player charges an opponent in a dangerous or reckless manner, or uses excessive force; and h. a player charges an opponent in a dangerous or reckless manner while the opponent has both feet off the ground.

Please note that there is no distinction between a direct kick foul in the penalty area and a direct kick foul outside the penalty area. Officials must call penalty kick fouls in the same manner that they call direct kick fouls that occur outside the penalty area.

Also, it is very important to remember that a penalty kick foul can occur against opponents who do not have control of or are playing the ball, as long as the foul occurs in the penalty area..  If a direct kick foul occurs in the penalty area, it is a penalty kick. The ball and the player playing the ball could be outside the penalty area, and an opponent without the ball could fouled inside the penalty area thus resulting in a penalty kick.

Because of the importance of a penalty kick on the outcome of the game, it is imperative that the official calling the foul resulting in a penalty kick be in position to see the foul and make the call. In a dual system, both officials should be close to the play and have an angle to see that the foul did occur. Sometimes the lead official will have the better angle and at other times the trail official will be in a better position to make the call. The same is true of the diagonal and three whistle system of control.  Sometimes the head referee will be in a better position of see the foul because the player committing the foul will come from the side, and at other times the assistant or side referees will be in a more favorable position.

In all systems of control, it is imperative that the calling of penalty kicks be discussed thoroughly in the pre-game conference. Having a referee or assistant referee in the proper position to make the call and communicating to all officiating team members that a penalty kick has occurred results in approval of both the call and referee team.                                                       

Following the above rules and recommended procedures in every high school game you work and making certain your partners do the same will provide the required consistency and make each game a better experience for all participants.

If you would like to suggest a high school soccer rules change or if you have any questions about this rule or any high school rule, please e-mail me at [email protected]