I have seen a video where the goalkeeper have tampered the pitch so that the striker slips while attempting the penalty strike. (I don't recall the game, but it's from the German leagues).

The tampering is done when the team was arguing with the referee over the foul and when the referee was awarding the penalty.

The striker slipped, and missed the goal.

So, is this considered legal (the act of the goalkeeper)?


2 Answers 2


This is unsporting behaviour and should be cautioned. Quoting from the 2015-2016 Laws of the Game:

If a player makes unauthorised marks on the field of play with his foot, he must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour.

  • Thank you for the answer. Would the goal be accepted, if the footage comes to light some time later (maybe during the end of the game)? Or would the player be fined instead?
    – Dawny33
    Dec 7, 2015 at 9:23
  • 3
    That's probably better asked as a separate question as it's quite subtle. If the referee made an error of fact, for example if they saw the pitch tampering and did nothing about it, then the possible consequences are very wide; see eg this incident. If the referee made an error of judgement, for example not seeing the tampering, then the result will stand.
    – Philip Kendall
    Dec 7, 2015 at 9:33
  • I’d say it is arguable whether the pitch tampering by the goalkeeper was what was meant by this rule. I believe this rule prohibits adding marks to the pitch, e.g. to help organize the defense, help a free-kick shooter with aiming, etc. (I’d say this was unsporting behavior, but punishable primarily by the respective association ex post.)
    – Mormegil
    Dec 7, 2015 at 11:08
  • 3
    @DavidRicherby agreed - although "unsporting behavior" is already the catch-all for the stuff they didn't want to write rules for :-)
    – Philip Kendall
    Dec 7, 2015 at 14:13
  • 2
    @Konerak What does that change? It's still unsporting behaviour
    – Don_Biglia
    Dec 8, 2015 at 14:53

The accepted answer is completely correct as to what action the referee should take against the goalkeeper.

Furthermore, if there is now a hole in the field which is large enough to make it difficult to take a penalty kick, in addition to cautioning the goalkeeper, the referee should suspend the game and not allow the penalty kick until ground staff or someone from the home team repairs the hole (depending on the level of competition). This is not only a fairness concern for the team taking the penalty kick, but also a safety concern for players from both teams.

The referee's power to suspend matches due to player infringements and for other interference is granted on p. 25 of the 2015/16 FIFA Laws of the Game:

The Referee:


  • stops, suspends or abandons the match, at his discretion, for any infringements of the Laws
  • stops, suspends or abandons the match because of outside interference of any kind

The power of the referee to make decisions with respect to the condition of the field of play is within the match official indemnity waiver (and strangely not within the law regarding the field of play) on p. 27:

A referee (or where applicable, an assistant referee or fourth official) is not held liable for:

any kind of injury suffered by a player, official or spectator

any damage to property of any kind

any other loss suffered by any individual, club, company, association or other body, which is due or which may be due to any decision that he may take under the terms of the Laws of the Game or in respect of the normal procedures required to hold, play and control a match.

Such decisions may include:

  • a decision that the condition of the field of play or its surrounds or that the weather conditions are such as to allow or not to allow a match to take place


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