The Penalty kick – Laws of the Game 2020/21

The penalty kick in football caused a bit of a furore at the World Cup in the summer of 2019. Now, in consequence, there are minimal changes to the penalty kick as well as the kicks from the penalty mark.

Law 14 – Penalty kick

There are changes that mainly concern the case where a penalty kick is not used to score a goal:

Offence by goalkeeper

2019/20: If the goalkeeper infringes the law and no goal is scored on the penalty kick, the penalty kick is retaken, and the goalkeeper is cautioned. (The caution is only available since 2016.) Now it is distinguished for this case, if the goalkeeper could save the penalty kick or not (i.e. if the was shot beside the goal, at the crossbar or the post). This law change confirms Circular No. 17 of The IFAB dated August 2019).

If the penalty kick is saved by the goalkeeper, the penalty kick is repeated as before. New is that s*he will be only warned for the first offence (but obtain a yellow card for the next offence). This means: If the goalkeeper is not with any foot on the line, but in front of it, there is only a warning, but not directly the caution. This change was made because goalkeepers usually commit an offence because they react too early when taking a penalty kick.

Goalkeeper and kicker offend at the same time

In 2019/20, the penalty kick was repeated, and kicker and goalkeepers were cautioned. This has changed slightly: Only the kicker will be cautioned. And the penalty kick is not retaken, but the game is restarted with an indirect free kick.

Furthermore, a new case is described:

Encroachment by defending and attacking player

In this case, the penalty kick is retaken in any case, regardless of whether a goal was scored or not. This infringement is a rare occurrence. Only the kicker is cautioned, because the encroachment of the goalkeeper is often just a reaction to the kicker’s feint.


History: The position of the opposing goalkeeper

The goalkeeper’s radius of motion has changed several times since the introduction of the penalty kick in 1891. And there has been some confusion about the goalkeeper’s position. In this case, however, because of translation difficulties:

  • 1891 to 1902: all players were allowed to approach the ball up to 6 steps / 5.5 meters, i.e. the goalkeeper could also approach so far from his*her own goal,
  • 1902 to 1929: the goalkeeper must stand on the goal line or behind it
  • 1929: the goalkeeper „must stand on his goal line“ -> This caused different interpretations: In England the goalkeeper had to stand motionless on his*her goal line, in Germany s*he had to stand on the goal line but could move to the right and left. „Must _stand_ on his goal line“ was not defined exactly enough, because the goalkeeper was not allowed to move sideways. So, the next year there has been a clarification:
  • 1930 to 1997: the goalkeeper must stand still on his*her goal line (= must not move feet at all),
  • 1997 to 2019: the goalkeeper must stand on the goal line, but may move to the right and left
  • 2019 until now: the goalkeeper only has to stand with one leg on the goal line.

But because before 2019 there was no real attention paid to whether the goalkeeper stays on the goal line with both(!) legs, there were these inconsistencies in summer 2019. Actually, the regulations 2019/20 were changed in favour of the goalkeepers. But it had already become customary for goalkeepers to jump a few centimetres forward. And when the referees paid (on demand) attention to the movement … well, we all know what happened.

modern football

Law 10 – Determine the Outcome of a Match

The kicks from the penalty mark correlate with the provisions of Law 14, so the provisions have been slightly changed here too.

General provisions

It was added for 2020/21: „A player who has been sent off during the match is not permitted to take part; warnings and cautions issued during the match are not carried forward into kicks from the penalty mark“.

This means, looking back at the discussions during the 2019 World Cup and afterwards: A goalkeeper walks forward unencumbered into the kicks from the penalty mark.


Two small changes have been made in the during kicks from the penalty mark section. They correlate with the changes in Law 14.

  • The goalkeeper is no longer immediately cautioned, but first warned and then cautioned. This means: Only when s*he stands in front of the line for the third time (or otherwise infringes the provisions), s*he will be send-off.
  • If goalkeeper and kicker infringe the regulations at the same time, the kick is recorded as missed and (only) the kicker is cautioned. So from now on, there is no longer a distinction between whether the goalkeeper had saved the kick or not. This provision applies in all cases.

The justifications for these changes are the same as for Law 14.


History: The idea and introduction for the kicks from the penalty kick

In the quarterfinals of the Olympic football tournament, Israel and Bulgaria were drawn after extra time. At that time, it was common practice that the winner of the game was determined by a toss.

Bulgaria won the game. And the Israeli Yosef Dagan considered an alternative solution to determine the winner of a tied game. He invented the kicks from the penalty kick. Israel submitted the proposal to FIFA in 1969 and was supported by Malaysia. In fact, it was Michael Almog, later president of the Israeli Football Association, and Koe Ewe Teik, at this time a member of the Malaysian Refereeing Committee and a participant for FIFA at the Annual General Meetings of The IFAB. (He attended the AGM continuously from 1965 to 1976 and in 1978.)

FIFA submitted the proposal in 1970 for the AGM of The IFAB, where the proposal was accepted. Since then, the regulations have only been amended and changed a little, but not much. Basically, everything described in Law 14 on penalty kick has always applied to the exercise of the game.


Kategorie: English


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