June 22, 2016

5 Pros for and 5 Cons against repeating the Penalty Kick in Croatia vs Spain

Dutch referee Björn Kuipers' decision to award Spain a penalty in their match against Croatia was surely one of the most controversial refereeing incidents of the tournament so far. Not only the action leading to the penalty kick, but also a possible encroachment of Croatian players and specially the goalkeeper standing several metres away from his goalline were and are strongly discussed.

After watching many replays and live camera angles (for videos see here at video minute 26:10), I come to the conclusion that there is a contact either at the backheel or at the knees of David Silva. The question is whether this contact can be punished or not.

In my view, the only argument in favour of deeming this as a careless tackle is that the defender had his arms raised as a sign of precautious excuse (so maybe he exactly knew what he was doing?) shortly before crossing Silva's path.

For me, this is no penalty. The running paths are crossing, that's bad luck. The contact at the feet or knees is undeliberate and rather random. However, the views on that might differ.

On the encroachment: Should the penalty have been repeated?
The red circle marks the player who cleared the ball later on
Let's collect some pros and cons in favour of repeating the penalty kick.


1) There were two forms of encroachment. At least 3 Croatian attackers clearly encroached, one of them blatantly. Apart from that, the goalkeeper was positioned several metres away from his goalline (approximately 2-2,5m at the moment of the shot).

2) The Laws of the Game are actually clear. Law 14 prescribes that the players have to remain outside the penalty area and that the goalkeeper has to stay on his goalline. In case of an infringement, the latter is even cautioned with a yellow card in the new Laws of the Game. The kick must be re-taken if it does not enter the goal and if the defending team including the goalkeeper have made an infringement.

3) The size of the encroachment is not justifiable with common sense. The goalkeeper stood 2m too far in the penalty area, was clearly too far away from his goalline and therefore had an advantage when saving the ball.

4) Maybe the goalkeeper’s infringement can be somehow accepted keeping both eyes closed, as – see con-argument 3) – the ball went towards the middle of the goal anyway. The bigger problem is that the Croatian player #6, who, amongst all Croatian players, encroached most blatantly by 2,5m, gained a significant advantage from his encroachment as he was able to clear the ball after it bounced back from the goalkeeper’s save. The Spanish attacker thus was unable to reach the ball first and score a goal from a rebound. Therefore we are not talking about a minimum encroachment, but about one which was a) blatant and b) gave the defending team a crucial advantage in clearing the situation.

5) It might be that nobody cared and nobody protested. But Kuipers warned them. He preventively reminded all players (except the goalkeeper!! – his mistake) to not enter the penalty area too early. Using Vlado Sajn’s words from the debriefing in the film Kill The Referee: “It’s their problem if they didn’t learn.”.

1) It is usual and nothing new that players encroach at penalty kicks for some centimetres, sometimes even for some metres. Specially at this level, it is rarely whistled and mostly accepted. The unwritten law 18 tells us that you should repeat penalty kicks for cases of tight encroachment. Both the Croatian defenders and the goalkeepers encroached, but for not more than 2,5m.

2) The penalty kick would have never entered the goal, as the ball was shot in the middle of the goal – the goalkeeper remained in the middle and would have saved it anyway.

3) The goalkeeper as well as the defenders were too far in the penalty area mostly because Sergio Ramos delayed and shortly interrupted his run towards the spot. This could explain 0,5-1m of the encroachment.

4) In the context of the game – in heated moments and after furious Croatian protests following the penalty decisions, Kuipers would have faced extreme problems if he had ordered the penalty to be repeated. Probably most referees and most of us would have behaved in the same way.

5) Nobody really cared or protested in the live game. Nobody wanted the penalty to be repeated.
Kuipers would have kicked up a shindy for nothing.
In such games at the highest level, not the most correct referee succeeds, but the one who manages the match and takes intelligent decision that can be, at times, not fully in line with the laws.

What is your view? 

Should the penalty kick have been repeated?
Yes - because of the goalkeeper's encroachment.
Yes - because of the defenders' encroachment.
Yes - because of the encroachment of both the goalkeeper and the defenders.


  1. The informal rule, as I've been taught it and applied it, is that you tolerate one step by the goalkeeper. 3-4 steps is clearly excessive.

    However, of course, a EURO or a Europa League final is not the place to teach the rules. UEFA needs to crack down on this throughout all competitions and in domestic games as well.

  2. OT but important info from index.hr (croatian web site)

    Croatian police had cooperated with french authorities because of a possible hooligans plan against Björn Kuipers at 30 minute of game : go to the pitch and attack the ref...nothing happened so perhaps french police had done the job to protect Referees and arrested guilty people. But very sad new for football...

  3. I dont think there was a penalty.#20 from spain pushed #2 croatian player into #21 from spain.#2 from croatia even raised his hands to let know refs that he doesnt do nothing.

  4. Indon't agree with con no.2!

  5. Goalkeeper encroaching the goal line
    We have struggled so long to find the way to ensure the 9.15m distance between the ball and several defense players/wall on the occasion of the free kicks. And we have found it – the spray. Nowadays, even if the wall gets closer to the ball than envisaged by the sprayed line it is 10-20cm and it is acceptable. On the occasion of the PK there is no need to spay the line as it is already there – it is the goal line. And at the moment of the PK the CRO goalkeeper was 2m in front of that line.
    Players encroaching the penalty area goal line
    Players should not be allowed to encroach the penalty area before the PK is taken. If they do, the minimum the referee should do is pay attention whether those who encroached the penalty area have interfered with the action after the save. In this particular case, the defender prevented the attacker to play the ball in an extremely promising goal scoring opportunity.
    For both reasons I think the PK should have been retaken.
    In addition, Kuipers was ideally positioned to see all of the above mentioned, but failed to make the right call (retake the PK and caution CRO defender) and prove he is a top elite UEFA referee. Proper actions and applications of the LOTG in similar and crucial situations differ the UEFA top elite from elite and other/lower categories of UEFA referees and Kuipers showed he does not fall into UEFA top elite category any more.

  6. Collina has rightly become involved and clarified expectations regarding this matter that is far too often ignored by far too many referees -- from elite to developing.

    I truly hope that he will also give expected perspective in other matters -- whether in this tournament or future matches.


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