What if… there would be a penalty for foul play in the penalty area?
Basically everyone feels it, actually everyone knows it. But hardly anyone dares to say it. There are good reasons for all this. Nevertheless, here at first the still quite simple sounding statement, with which one would have to hold nevertheless the hand before the mouth: in the penalty area a foul play is differently evaluated than outside.
One could specify this further or try to bring it better to the point. First, however, what is the general assessment of this situation and what statements are made about it – all still with the certain preservation of prudence.
In England, it was already said a good ten years ago: “Anywhere elso on the pitch, that is a foul. In the area it’s not.” In Germany, too, this statement was heard soon after, translated as “Anywhere elso on the pitch, that’s a foul, in the area it’s not.” In England, as well as in Germany, however, it was usually added: “I don’t know, why” or just “I don’t understand that”.
Before this too is looked at in a little more detail in the sense of “cause research” for this and that, it should first be stated that the rules officials must also have recognized a problem in the approach. For one instruction to referees before the 2016/2017 season was: “Penalties please only for very clear actions.” While this suggests that there was a sense that there was an imbalance there, this finger-pointing to combat it goes in the totally wrong direction.
Why in the wrong direction? Because the defenders now knew that no penalty would be given for minor, barely noticeable, but still highly effective obstructions, because of the even more lack of clarity.
There were a couple of other statements that drew attention to the issue. The first was probably an upset Winni Schäfer, who – obviously after a defeat of his team – was outraged in an interview and said that he would have to look again in the rulebook to see if it says that you can only get one penalty in the game. Because: his team had already received one, and yet there were at least two more scenes ripe for penalties. The recapitulation of the story makes no higher claim to authenticity, because whether it was Winnie Schäfer or Christoph Daum doesn’t really matter.
If you as a viewer pay close attention, you will notice that there is a lot to it. Every now and then you get a penalty kick – should another similar scene or even another suspicious one occur, just within a very short time, which should result in a penalty kick, the whistle usually remains silent. “What are you getting excited about? You just had a penalty, didn’t you? They don’t fall from trees!” That’s about the intended instruction to the players.
Another remark has been picked up from England, which went something like this: “It is hard to get a penalty these days.” Hard to get a penalty these days. What do they mean by that?
Before this is to be illuminated now from all sides still briefly the reaction and evaluation of the media including, if it comes to a critical situation. Alone already the formulation, which held in the meantime entrance to the evaluation, lets look deeply. “Joa, that is not enough for a penalty.” Alternatively, it sounds like, “Nä, you can’t give a penalty for that.” The speaker sees the replay, everyone recognizes that it wasn’t quite clean, but the verdict still comes out like this: “Not enough.” Here, for the first time, one may now search for a content of this statement and emphasize the self-testimonial part: surely “it’s not enough” can only be said if something was to be observed at all? An infringement of the rules was recognized, which, however, is classified as “too insignificant”. Quite obviously, however, in the case of a replay in midfield of an infringement of the same extent as well as the whistle that logically occurred, the announcer, if obliged to do so, would give the verdict: “Foul play, sure, you can see it quite clearly there.” Only he would not be obliged, the scene would not even be replayed and if ever, it would be dismissed as “insignificant”.
There is another commentary on such scenes which has become accepted. This is “he wanted that too much”. If a striker falls down after a clear foul play – what else would the comment be based on? – although he might have managed to stay on his feet, then he also does not get a penalty. The fact that if he had managed to stay on his feet he would have tried in vain to score a goal, simply because he was off his feet or because he was missing a tenth of a second due to the visible obstruction, doesn’t matter to anyone. “He wanted that one – so he doesn’t get it. Basta!”
On the other hand, should he stay on his feet and still try to put the ball in the goal, perhaps even reach the ball despite the adversity, but fail with a much less placed, controlled shot attempt – due to the obstruction – then he would supposedly have taken the “advantage” – and of course, just like that, will not be awarded a penalty. “Are you going to have two scoring chances? You must be dreaming!” Not infrequently, he (and the annoyed spectator) is also then lectured by the announcer: “Yes, if he had fallen there, then the referee would have had no choice…” Fiddlesticks! Because the alternative scene was described before. So or so not.
It comes out in the sum: you do not get a penalty. Falling or not falling, being fouled, slightly obstructed, badly hit, it always boils down to: “There the whistle remains silent.”
If you now take all the summaries in “all games – all goals” on Sky or from the Sportschau, then a glaring disproportion comes out, which concerns the judgment made after the fact in a critical decision. Here, all the wrong decisions would have to be added up, in which a penalty was awarded even though everyone agreed that it wasn’t one, and put in proportion to those in which it was said “there should have been a penalty kick here.” You could also include the so-called fifty-fifty decisions, where it would then turn out to be one: if only they had always said ninety-ten – and the ninety against the penalty kick – then they would have been much closer. The ratio would be about the same: many, many penalties that should have been given and very rarely one that was wrongly given.
Now the causes would have to be clarified first. The English with their “don’t know why” and the Germans with their “I don’t understand”. Why does this disproportion exist, which after the multiplicity of the mentioned, heard, expressions, the instruction to the referees, nevertheless, please nobody may evade more but go instead with on the search?
The one problem with the appreciation of the carefully transacted concerning expressions is that: a Winni Schäfer says this after a defeat. A player recognizes the problem in the interview, says he would have been clearly fouled, the pictures would have confirmed it, but there were no penalties – his team lost, so “search for excuses”. He is also declared biased.
In addition, the media reassure themselves that “in the end, everything would even out,” which of course has nothing whatsoever to do with the problem itself. It concerns the calmed conscience thereby, otherwise nothing.
However, this is only one part of the problem: most of those who complain about not receiving penalties are considered biased and their judgment is not given any weight. This is exactly how the coach of the opposing team is asked how he feels about it, and he usually explains: “I don’t want to say anything about the referee’s decisions, but last week we should have been awarded two penalties, and they weren’t given. So what should I say about that now?” So everything seems to be back in balance.
However, the core of the problem is still not really pronounced. This one is still twofold. The one lingering problem is that, intuitively, a penalty would be too much of an upgrade to the underlying action. Any short tug, a short push, a minimla contact, moreover all this in not even remotely goal-ready situations, makes one intuitively shy away from it. Therefore, the often so spontaneously taken speaker judgment “no, but you can not give a penalty for that”. Because it made from none the largest possible goal chance. This is the one core.
The other core lies in the course of the game and in the frequency of the goals, at the current state: if a single goal decides a game – as it is more and more the case –, then one shrinks back from a possible whistle, and even more so. Because surely one feels as a referee “yes, there was something”. Only, as usual, the score is 0:0, the 67th minute is running, and you think “if I now give a penalty, then I have decided the game”.
Again, not yet ultimately the problem, but already quite close and making a contribution. But the biggest is yet to come, in this form : “If they should now prove to me that this was a mistake and that I had thus decided the game by a mistake…. no, that can’t happen, that can’t happen under any circumstances.” So what does he do? The only sensible decision is: don’t blow the whistle, let the game continue.
If this is recognized as an error of judgment, then this is never as overemphasized as the reverse error. The opponent, who should now refer to the fact that “a clear penalty kick was denied to him” is only smiled at and would allegedly look for the referee’s fault.
Now, perhaps, it would have been clarified to some extent how it comes about that foul plays in the penalty area are simply assessed differently. Who would still have doubts about this? On the other hand, the question should rather be raised, what if…?
If, after all, a penalty were to be awarded for the minor breaches of the rules, all of which were supposedly “not enough for a penalty” or “which the striker wanted too much” or “the advantage was played out, but this was unsuccessful”, then we would be faced with the horror scenario first described in this way by Berti Vogts, when asked about a scene: “If you give penalties for that, then yes, there are twenty penalties per game.”
This was also taken over later more frequently and quoted repeatedly, without claiming authenticity, originality, uniqueness: how real and if, how bad and unimaginable would this “horror scenario” mentioned be?
First of all, imagine the following horror vision: there were actually a large number of penalties in a single game. The live tickers report the goals coming in at irregular but short intervals. At one point, the lines explode when it’s 11:7. “Can’t be, error, game suspended, false reports without end.” In all the daily newspapers at home and abroad the next day the result reports, only in this game is the “tbd”. “To be determined. To be determined, you don’t know what the outcome was, whatever it would be? No, that would really be the horror.
Or would the final result of 11:7 perhaps be announced after all and go down in the history books as “historic”? Would there be a consensual evacuation of spectators from the stadium in the course of the game? Goal after goal — who needs that? A high-scoring game –let’s get out of here?
Now this result would have gone down in the history books as “historic”, here you go. Now, curiously enough, it would have happened on the first matchday of a new season, before which the referees would have received – perceptible to everyone — the reverse instruction, that they should decide not only in case of clear but rather in case of any other tiny offenses against the strikers, as everywhere else on the field.
And please keep in mind that the defenders know very well what they are doing and that a small obstruction at the ideal moment is enough to thwart a favorable goal situation, insofar as even in the penalty area these “micro fouls” are committed even more frequently.
We further assume that the referee would by no means get an even 6 and that this would be the last game he whistled, but that, on the contrary, he would get a 1, because not a single jersey tug – also popular for corner kicks, when the ball is not even in the air – would have escaped him. What would be the now so unimaginable further consequence in this kind of “horror scenario”?
The simple consequence would be this: the defenders would have understood in an instant: “we are allowed to do that, fair duels are welcome and are part of it; we are not allowed to do that, because there are penalties for that.” It would take one game, maybe two. Then it would be the accepted way to whistle and lay out in the penalty area. Everyone would go by it.
Now the final step, and the horror suddenly turns into pure joy: you would suddenly see penalty box scenes like you have never seen before. Firstly in their multitude and also in their attractiveness, not to mention the goal cry constantly lurking on the lips. In short, it would consistently ensure that the games are attractive and that much more soccer would be played instead of preventing soccer. You would certainly see more goals – but not another 11:7, that may be, although even then the question would remain: would such a game be a runaway?
Losers would not be found all around. If you are looking for them: there is of course always a team that would be adversely affected by another goal against. These and their fans would perhaps be less edified by it – for the moment. However, even then, after conceding a goal to make it 2:3, perhaps, the question would be whether, instead of falling into depression, one would not rather have greater hopes, due to the constantly represented scoring chances, which logically can also turn out in favor of one’s own team?
If one wanted to interpret it as a disadvantage: perhaps the team that has the higher footballing means would have the greater chances compared to the present time to get the victory. But there again the question: would this really be so undesirable?
Conclusion: if penalties were given for foul play in the penalty area, as the rules state, then there would only be winners at all levels. In the first place: the soccer, in the second place the spectator, in the third place the better team.