August 22, 2013

Outside or Inside?

Summarizing the ten first legs of this season's UEFA Champions League play-off round, one can surely point out Milorad Mažić's sending-off occasion in the tie between Olympique Lyon and Real Sociedad as the most controversial match incident that definitely requires some roundup and spotlight. This automatically leads to some general thoughts about the topic of which infringements are, in compliance with the Laws of the Game, occurring outside or inside the penalty area respectively.

Was that outside or inside? ©

Incident 1: Two infringements, the first outside, the second inside

Serbian referee Mažić detected a foul and located it ouside the penalty area. Therefore he awarded a free-kick right at the edge of the box, cautioned the offender, meaning that he was dismissed due to his 2nd yellow card. This decision reveals that Mažić obviously split the action into two infringements, while he whistled the first one with some delay (although the whistle only came after the second foul). 
Well, did the first infringement having occurred outside the penalty area really demand a yellow card? No. The tackle was clearly aimed at playing the ball and was not executed with remarkable force or energy. His opponent's angle towards the goal was, at that moment, not as promising as in the second scene. Therefore, the first contact was neither a reckless tackle nor a tactical foul. Mažić's free-kick decision and the 2nd yellow card in a way contradict each other. One of both was not adequate in my opinion. If that first tackle is a yellow card, we should start thinking about whether we still want body contact and players who are willing to play the ball in modern football.
But what about the second contact? Just in the moment when Lyon defender Bisevac recognized that his first challenge for the ball had been unsuccessful, he took on the Spanish forward once again with a sliding tackle, being quite similar to a "scissor tackle", inside the penalty area. At that moment, he had no chance to play the ball anymore and just impeded the progress of his opponent in a way that results in a reckless and tactical foul. For this reason, this was the stronger infringement committed by Bisevac which justifies his sending-off - but only in case of a penalty kick. 
On the whole the essence of this analysis should be: 1+1 has to be 2. In this decision, that was not the case. Either a free-kick and no card should be awarded (which would be only "acceptable", as you normally wait for a possible advantage and then whistle the stronger infringement in favour of the team that was fouled) or, and I tend to favour this solution, a penalty kick and a 2nd yellow card should be the consequence of Bisevac's second challenge. Keep in mind that this is just my personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the community's or our blog observer's point of view.

Incident 2: Holding starting outside and continuing inside the penalty area


This video footage, taken from Leontios Trattou's Europa League play-off between Schalke 04 and HJK Helsinki (2011/12), unveils another facet of the question of what is to be considered as a foul happening outside and inside the penalty area.  Schalke's forward Farfán was pulled and held by an opponent. The action started outside and went on inside the box.
The Laws of the Game clearly state: "If a defender starts holding an attacker outside the penalty area and continues holding him inside the penalty area, the referee must award a penalty kick." No doubt, referee Trattou of Cyprus took the correct decision.

Incident 3: Fouls happening outside with an impact on the area inside the box


Without any doubt, Hungarian official Viktor Kassai faced a very challenging call in this occasion. German forward Özil was fouled by Sergio Ramos in the World Cup semifinal 2010, heading goalkeeper Casillas. The contact just happened a few centimetres outside the penalty area. Even though the circumstance that this made Özil tripping himself by one leg onto the other, which caused his descent, only took place inside the box, a foul must be penalized at the point where it occurred. Kassai should have detected the foul in general, followed by a red card for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (dogso) and then awarding a direct free-kick to Germany - even though that's certainly easier said than done.

Incident 4: Infringements happening on the 16m-line

Law 1 defines: "The field of play must be rectangular and marked with lines. These lines belong to the areas of which they are boundaries." This means that infringements caused by the defending team generally requiring a direct free-kick that are happening on the line, which limits the penalty area, are to be penalized with a penalty kick. Referee Stéphane Lannoy thus should have awarded a penalty kick in favour of Schalke 04, whose forward Farfán was fouled by a PAOK defender, who had gone into the challenge with studs up and "open boots" from the front, on the penalty area line.
It looked like a fair but unlucky block tackle first, but as it sometimes happens, the first impression can be wrong. A yellow card would have been mandatory as well by the way.

So you see, the question "inside or outside?" sometimes has more difficult and complex answers than "offside or onside?".


  1. Incident 1: yellow card is justified in any case. the defender stopped a promising attack. if he didn't do that the attacker would have free space in front of him to enter the penalty area.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Incident 1: I agree with dubhe. It was a promising attack and yellow card was right decision.

  4. UEFA Super Cup final:
    Bayern München - Chelsea FC (30/8, Prague)
    Observer: Nikolay Levnikov (RUS)
    Delegate: Elkhan Mammadov (AZE)

    1. Nothing against our prediction, Eriksson is still possible.

    2. Anonymous24/8/13 10:10

      Team Eriksson-Klasenius-Wärnmark referees together again tomorrow in the Swedish premier league. Stefan Johannesson, one of the regular additional assistant referees, is in charge of another match on Monday night. This means that Team Eriksson will not have a match on Tuesday and with all likelihood not on Wednesday either. So I think we safely can say that Jonas Eriksson will be the first Swedish male referee to be in charge of a European final since 2008 when Peter Fröjdfelt refereed the UEFA cup final. Congratulations and well deserved in my humble view.

      /Swedish observer

    The recording does not give a true picture. Look at the two players Sociedad- one that's in the back and waiting for the ball and the one who comes to the center strike. A classic example of an promising attack!
    The second case there is not- offense is one ( outside the box ) and the other "contact" as Philipp explained Biševac good relations with the ball. Biševac is obviously slower entire game, not just in this situation. When deciding on disciplinary action watch the whole thing ( action ) - not isolated.

  6. Don't get the impression that such analyses are placed to create the feeling that we have got THE ONE correct answer to game situations. Those incidents are extremely difficult for match officials on the pitch and it might be that things I outlined won't be supported by all referees and all decision-makers. So as usual everything is open to debate and good arguments :)

    Place foul- set snapshot link on exactly 2:53. There is no body contact, there is foot to foot ( top ) - where Biševac obstructive and the attack player loses balance. Slide a second later and you will see that they are out of the box- and hung it on the other foot. At 2:53 they were half a 0,5 m outside the penalty area. Please take a look!
    Violation of continuity can only be in the event of the withdrawal that lasts. It is clear.

  8. Then go to 2:54 and you see what I consider as the offense that should be punished. It won't lead to anything. I am sure the observer, Konrad Plautz, has backed Mazic in this decision which is a grey area.

    1. Emil Archambault23/8/13 21:43

      I would see only one foul, outside of the penalty area. In the second challenge (considered alone), I would say the defender gets the ball in a regular tackle and then the attacker falls over the foot (I don't see the scissors tackle you mentioned). Therefore, I see only one foul, outside the area, and not worthy of a caution.


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