Referee Nuts and Bolts – March 2012

The monthly “NISOA Referee Nuts and Bolts” column is written primarily for the college Referee. However, any soccer Referee who wishes to improve personal performance may also find that this series is helpful.

All articles address those BASIC techniques, procedures, practice alternatives, and skills that are sometimes forgotten or overlooked while going through the experiences of soccer refereeing. The short discussions and accompanying practical tips stress important advice for competent performance.

This March 2012 column includes a discussion entitled:

Consistency at Penalty Kicks

By: Bob Sumpter, NISOA

A penalty kick award is almost always controversial. Both the player concerned, and teammates, will often dissent with your decision. Because of the inevitability of this type of dissent, it’s a good idea to be prepared for this in your games.

The most important thing to remember about handling penalty kick dissents is that you should be consistent in how you handle these. The more consistent you are from event to event, the better your game management will become.

First, remember that you have awarded a penalty kick against a player, and the player’s team, as punishment for a deliberate foul. Next, all of your actions during your management of the penalty kick should emphasize that dissent is not an allowed option.

Understand that at least one-half of the players on the field will likely NOT agree with your decision. Nevertheless, your decision is (and should be understood by all as) final, and that the next step is for you to manage the taking of the awarded penalty kick, without having to spend unnecessary time trying to overcome dissenting actions by the penalized team.

In dealing with, or controlling, any dissent about your award of a penalty kick, remember that the violation that caused the penalty kick award was committed by the dissenting team and not by you, and that anyone trying to place the blame on you, your decision to award the kick as required, or to question your competence in making the decision, is not to be allowed to do so. Such dissent is NOT a privilege that is given to players or teams by the rules of the game.

Separating yourself from dissenting players in this instance will help your control over player behavior and expedite the taking of the penalty kick. If necessary, gesture clearly and firmly for protesting players approaching you to move off, and make sure they do so.

If you decide to first talk to a protesting player without cautioning for the dissent, be short, firm, and clear. The simpler your statement, the more effective it will be. As examples: (a) “Move out of the penalty area so we can get this game going!” or, (b) “Move on to your position so we can restart the game!” can effectively get the idea across with a minimum of words.  Whatever your statement, it should get across that your decision will not change, and that a response is not an option.

If a player (or players) persists, point to your pocket holding the yellow card to indicate to them that a caution might be the result of their dissent. Most players will understand the significance of your gesture when pointing to your pocket.

Of course, continued dissent after you’ve tried to avoid confrontation with players can then be penalized by a caution, or – if dissent persists – by ejection or disqualification.

TIP: Develop a consistent procedure to follow in handling the almost inevitable dissent when a penalty kick is awarded. Base your individual procedure on the success you have had in similar circumstances during your games. Use it consistently at each and every penalty kick award where players dissent. From time to time revise your procedure to include any successful technique you may have  learned.