Soccer's Lawmaker Bans `Unsporting' Penalty Kick Feints Before World Cup

Penalty-kick takers at the soccer World Cup in South Africa won’t be allowed to halt at the end of their run-up to try to fool the goalkeeper.

The International Football Association Board, the sport’s lawmaking body, yesterday approved a rule change that makes feinting before kicking the ball “unsporting behavior” punishable by a yellow card. The World Cup starts June 11.

“Feinting in the run-up to take a penalty kick to confuse opponents is permitted,” FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said at a news conference broadcast on FIFA’s website. “However, feinting to kick the ball once the player has completed his run- up is now considered as an infringement.”

The rule change came about because of the increase in the number of players feinting to take a penalty kick and follows a review of examples where players paused to see which way the goalkeeper was diving before sending the ball the opposite way, the board said after meeting in Zurich yesterday.

“When the player gets to the end of a run up, feints to kick completely over the ball, the goalkeeper goes in one direction, the player pulls his foot back and kicks the ball in the other direction,” IFAB member Patrick Nelson said. “That’s clearly unsporting. That significantly motivated the change.”

Twenty World Cup matches, including the 2006 and 1994 finals, have been decided on penalties since shootouts were introduced at the 1982 tournament.

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The IFAB, which is made up of FIFA and the English, Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh soccer associations, also voted to give more power to the fourth match official and extend globally a European experiment with goal-line officials.

The fourth official, who normally oversees substitutions and off-pitch behavior, will now be allowed to “assist the referee to control the match.”

“The main change is that the fourth official can talk directly to the referee, in the event of him spotting something noteworthy on the pitch,” Valcke said. “His power has been expanded considerably. The head referee retains the authority to make the final decision on any aspect of the game.”

Leagues and federations outside Europe will also be able to try using four assistant referees, as happened in Europe’s second-tier club competition the past two seasons.

“The general consensus during our meeting was that the results have certainly proved more favorable than negative,” IFAB member Jonathan Ford said. “That’s why we’ve endorsed the idea that the trial will be extended.”

Countries seeking to hold trials must seek permission from an IFAB subcommittee at the end of July, the board said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at dbaynes@bloomberg.net

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