Encroaching the penalty kick

Is there any legitimate penalty kick taken in a football match?

Every time I see a PK there is mass encroachment, and the goalkeeper invariably moves before the kick is taken.

Just to recap, the goalkeeper should plant his feet anywhere on the goal-line, and should not lift them before the kick is taken. And the other players should be outside the penalty area and the ‘D’ (the only time this line is used), and must be behind the penalty spot. And they cannot enter the penalty area until the kick is taken.

If the goalkeeper moves too soon, or encroachment occurs there is the possibility of the advantage rule being played. For example if the keeper moves too soon but a goal is scored, then the advantage is given to the kicker and the goal stands. And if the goal isn’t scored then the kick should be retaken. Similarly with encroachment

But when players from both sides encroach the kick should be retaken. In reality this level of encroachment is the norm. But kicks are very rarely retaken, only it would seem in cases of gross encroachment. Players know this. Currently there seems to be a kind of unofficial agreement between players and referees, whereby referees are happy to get on with the game so long as the encroachment isn’t too bad. If referees insisted on applying the letter of the law PKs would be retaken countless times, much to the annoyance of everyone playing and watching.

As always the referee is in an unenviable position. And as always FIFA couldn’t care less. It is much more concerned with keeping the gravy train on the rails, than improving the rules for all concerned.

For the solution is simple. When all the players are positioned correctly the referee whistles, and when the kicker starts his run then movement is allowed. The keeper can move (as he now does) and the players can rush into the penalty area (as they now do). Players will still try to anticipate but it is not so easy to guess when someone is to begin their run-up.

There will perhaps be a few interesting side-effects. The kicker may choose to have very little run-up, or none at all, a difficult skill. And the kicker would be well-advised not to try any dummy run-up. The keeper may try to rush the kicker, but this would make any dive less effective.

It would have the general effect of hurrying the kicker, and would therefore probably make the kick less certain, resulting in a greater number of missed PKs. And it would make the acclaim that a successful kicker milks from the fans, that more deserved. In short it would be a well-earned goal.

It might be argued that defences would more readily concede PKs, if they felt the chances were that the PK might be missed, but it could also be argued that referees might also be more inclined to award PKs (for example the shoving and shirt-pulling at corner-kicks) rather than ducking the decision.

All in all this has got to be better than the present shambles.

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