Law 14 - The Penalty Kick - 1. Procedure explicitly states that:

The defending goalkeeper must remain on the goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked.

However, from the image below, it's obvious that Schmeichel left the goal line before Modrić touched the ball.

enter image description here Source: FIFA Youtube channel

Wasn't the referee supposed to caution Schmeichel and and call a retake according to Law 14 - The Penalty Kick - Offences and Sanctions?

If, before the ball is in play, [...] the goalkeeper or a team-mate offends:

  • if the ball enters the goal, a goal is awarded
  • if the ball does not enter the goal, the kick is retaken; the goalkeeper is cautioned if responsible for the offence

With the introduction of VAR, this offence had to be immediately noticed. Why referees are so merciful to the offending team when goalkeepers don't respect the penalty procedures? This type of offence occurs quite often in the game and I don't understand why referees tolerate it.


2 Answers 2


There are likely two possible reasons this technical breach of the Laws was not penalised.

  • The offence was so minor that the referee was unable to detect it.
  • The referee applied his discretion under Law 5, Section 2, Paragraph 1, deciding that it would be inappropriate to penalise such a minor offence with a caution and retake.

Law 5, Section 2, Paragraph 1 states:

Decisions will be made to the best of the referee`s ability according to the Laws of the Game and the ‘spirit of the game’ and will be based on the opinion of the referee who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the framework of the Laws of the Game.

The change in 2017 to mandate a caution for any goalkeeper infringement that results in the retaking of a penalty kick has made referees far more reluctant to penalise this offence, given that doing so now has a massive effect on the game.

As mentioned in the other answer, VAR would not intervene here, as only goals, offences resulting in the awarding of a penalty kick, direct send-offs and mistaken identity are reviewable. Curiously enough, if a goal had been scored and the attacking team had encroached by entering the penalty area or penalty arc before the kick was taken, this would be reviewable (if seen to be a clear and obvious error).


He leaves the goal line right when the shot is taken. This is quite normal behavior and accepted by the referees. It is very hard to see and the referee also has to watch the other players when they try to go after the ball too early, which makes it even harder.

enter image description here

While he's not standing exactly on the line (which is tolerated to some extent.. the referees don't blow the whistle for every inch and from his position he probably didn't even see the small space between Schmeichel and the goal line) he's jumping forward like 1/100 before the kick.

That's nothing the VAR should interfere with. They're only there to interfere with blatantly wrong decisions or the "big four", not to have any bad call overthrown. In this situation it is very close and not blatantly wrong. A goal would have been reviewed, but that would have saved Kaspar Schmeichel anyway, because of the Law you've mentioned ("if the ball enters the goal, a goal is awarded").

The "big four" are:

  • Goals and offences leading up to a goal (well.. he saved it here, so no goal = no VAR review)
  • Penalty decisions and offences leading up to a penalty (the reason for a penalty, not the penalty shot itself)
  • Direct red card incidents only
  • Mistaken identity



Yes, it's an illegal position by a few inches.
No, it's nothing for the VAR to review.

  • Btw.. this has happened a lot during the world cup and has gone through the press as well: dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5909669/… - maybe FIFA allows VAR reviews for these offences in the future. It is already covered by the rules - it's just not in the FIFA rules for this World Cup.
    – dly
    Commented Jul 4, 2018 at 7:28
  • 1
    Very good catch about the VAR and the link is very useful as well which is also proving my point. But I have to accept the other answer, because it answers the underlying question with reasoning from referees' perspective.
    – gdrt
    Commented Jul 4, 2018 at 11:02

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