In the game between Spain and Russia, in the World Cup 2018, one Russian defender (Ignashevich) tackled a Spanish player (Ramos) inside the Russian penalty area (video here or here). This was technically a foul, and thus a penalty for Spain. However, right after the tackle, the ball hit Ignashevich and entered the Russian goal. Thus, it was an own goal.

Now, in terms of timing, the foul happened before the goal. Thus, why is a penalty not given? Why give the goal to Spain, instead of giving them the chance to score, but without 100% probability of doing so? Surely, if the time difference between the foul and the own-goal had been longer, the referee would have given the penalty. But if so, isn't this just an arbitrary application of the rules?

Update (based on comment asking for more info):

Why would the foul be given before the goal awarded? Because technically, the foul happened first. You can think of the strict rule being something like "IF foul, THEN penalty", whereas in practice it seems more like "IF foul AND goal AND goal-foul > epsilon, then penalty". Thus, only if the time difference is long enough would the penalty be given. But if epsilon is small enough (so the goal happens just after the foul), then the goal is given. This seems to me arbitrary. Sure, there are technical limitations involved in the referee (e.g. when epsilon is too small, the referee has little capacity to react in time). But the current approach seems to be based on assumptions by players that, if a goal happens after a penalty foul, it will be awarded. Maybe the VAR can precisely help to reduce the arbitrariness of rules like this.

  • 8
    Just a query regarding the premise of this question - are you suggesting that it would be somehow preferable to take away a goal and replace it with a ~70% chance at scoring a goal? I might be able to provide an answer, but I need more information as to why this question was asked, as it isn't entirely clear in its current form. Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 2:34
  • 4
    @studro I believe they are proposing to count the goal and then award the penalty. I think something like that is done in basketball.
    – Haem
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 6:28
  • 2
    @luchnacho - Ahh, right, I understand. I think the question is based on failing to include the advantage rule into the equation. The correct logic both in theory and (in practice) for all offences committed when the ball is in play is IF offence committed THEN (IF appropriate to play advantage THEN play advantage OTHERWISE penalise the offence immediately). I think gdrt's answer is the most correct based on this. Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 9:57
  • 2
    @luchonacho What happens next - including how long it happens - should not make a single difference to the decision! You have to look at the intent of the Law, not the algorithm. The point is to punish the offending team. Often, a team would benefit more from the punishment that the current state of the game. They shouldn't be able to benefit from a foul. Hence, the "advantage rule". Not applying it would lead to the offended team being punished after receiving a foul, adding insult to injury. It could make sense, though, to add the foul consequence AFTER the goal, like basketball does
    – xDaizu
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 11:52
  • 1
    @luchonacho Wikipedia has an article on free throws in basketball. Note that a successful free throw scores less than a field goal and that, if a goal was scored, only one free throw is awarded to the fouled player.
    – Haem
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 13:45

2 Answers 2


This is due to the advantage rule, From Laws of the Game - Law 5: The Referee - 3. Powers and Duties:

The referee allows play to continue when an offence occurs and the non-offending team will benefit from the advantage and penalises the offence if the anticipated advantage does not ensue at that time or within a few seconds.

The referee allowed to play on advantage because Spaniards (non-offending team) benefited from it (they scored a goal).

  • But the referee did not do the advantage rule signal, as they do in general.
    – luchonacho
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 16:50
  • 18
    @luchonacho, the whole thing (the foul and the own goal) happened in the blink of an eye. There was neither need nor time for referee to show the repsective "play on advantage" signal.
    – gdrt
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 17:19
  • 1
    @gdrt I disagree - if they did not, the referee should have signalled advantage before pointing to halfway for the goal. However, the referee's failure to use the signal does not negate whatever advantage was applied. This clip shows Mike Dean doing so in the Premier League (albeit perhaps a little to enthusiastically). Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 3:18
  • @studro - Anytime you find your argument hinges on Mike Dean being an example of proper referee behavior, you really ought to stop and rethink things.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 17:43
  • @T.E.D. Are you suggesting that the Daily Mail are a better judge of referee competence (or any subject, for that matter) than PGMOL? Either way, the comment was not about his flamboyant mannerisms, it was about the signal itself. Commented Jul 3, 2018 at 3:44

I shall leave details of the specific clauses that are relevant, and why this situation falls under their jurisdiction. Instead I shall address why you would want to design the rules like this:

If you give the foul, then the defending team has benefited from the foul.

A foul should never be more appealing than not-fouling.

Supposing you implemented the rules as you describe. Then, and at some point an attacker has a huge breakaway run, where he's passed all the defenders. Some other defender in the other half of the pitch, might choose to push over an opponent, just to stop play, prevent the attacker from having the chance to score, and being the ball back into the other had of the field.

Clearly, if the rules permitted such choices with no penalisation, then the whole game would break-down, into a mess of tactical fouls.

  • 4
    A foul should never be more appealing than not-fouling Suarez in the Uruguay Ghana game?
    – Stephen S
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 18:41
  • 1
    Or Jorgensen's foul in the Denmark vs. Croatia game to prevent a 100% chance in front of the empty goal?
    – Chris
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 6:03
  • 3
    Stephen and Chris, I think you're both misinterpreting what Brondahl means here. What they mean is that if a foul leads to an advantage for the team that was fouled against, the foul is ignored, to let the advantage stand. Your examples are both of advantages for the team that committed the foul. They may not have been adequately penalised, but they're not examples of what Brondahl means.
    – SQB
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 7:21
  • 2
    @StephenS - yes, that is a failing of the rules. If the Laws of the Game allowed penalty goals (like penalty tries in rugby), then once again it would be less appealing. Brondahl's point still stands - if it is to the advantage of the team who did not commit the foul to allow play to continue, play continues. Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 9:59
  • 2
    In the situation you describe (almost certain goal prevent by foul) then it is what is often called a "Professional Foul" and the player should be sent off. The advantage may still be played, of course. The reasoning behind this is exactly as you describe. See resources.fifa.com/image/upload/… pages 107-108
    – Adam
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 10:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.