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Was Luis Boa Morte’s incredible penalty kick legal?

Jun 25, 2013, 3:40 PM EDT

Benfica's defender Melgarejo (2ndL) vies Getty Images

In a recent exhibition game Portuguese winger Luis Boa Morte caused quite a stir when dispatching a penalty kick late in the game.

Maybe players all over the world will start taking penalty kicks the extraordinary way he took this one. If it was legal.

The former Fulham and West Ham man was playing in a charity game organized by former Fifa World Player of the Year Luis Figo.

As he approached the ball 34-year-old Boa Morte (who was on trial with Toronto FC last season) stopped and feigned kicking the ball before pulling his leg back a second time to slot the ball into the net and past a bamboozled goalkeeper.

So what is all the fuss about you may be asking? Well, there is huge debate after people across the globe have been reaching for (or most likely just typing ‘penalty kick rules’ into their search engine) their Fifa rulebooks.

This is the specific FIFA ruling on a run up during a PK, under Law 14 -the penalty kick, to give you a recap:

Feinting in the run-up to take a penalty kick to confuse opponents is permitted as part of football. However, feinting to kick the ball once the player has completed his run-up is considered an infringement of Law 14 and an act of unsporting behaviour for which the player must be cautioned.

Right, so you can feint and stagger your run… but as long as you don’t do so when you’ve finished your run up and when you’ve kicked the ball? Umm.

Okay, here is Boa Morte’s incredible penalty kick below. Watch the video and let us know if you think he has broken the laws of the game or if the goal should have been allowed.

  1. tridecagon - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    Penalty kicks are about as anti-soccer as possible. It’s the only time in a game where the keeper would ever stand on his own goal line – and only because he has to. It produces ridiculous theatrics from shooters and keepers alike because of its silly restrictions. Want to make them better?

    Keeper stands on his goal line, shooter stands wherever he’d like. When both are ready, the referee blows the whistle – and ON THE WHISTLE, the keeper is free to come off his line. If the shooter wants to take a long run-up and feint two or three times, fine – but the keeper is allowed to come out and close down the angle.

    This could result in less goals, and maybe it shouldn’t be implemented for penalty kicks in the run of play, because it could encourage more fouling in the box. But you could implement it only for Kicks From The Mark (a.k.a shootouts), and it would sure make those a lot less ridiculous and more interesting.

    • talgrath - Jun 25, 2013 at 7:17 PM

      I personally find the tension and spectacle of penalty kicks to be exciting, but then again i used to play keeper and I love a spectacular save and the tension of “will he bury it or not?”. I could see your method implemented as a tie-breaker in play-offs and championship games, but I’d point out that letting the goalie get off his line isn’t likely to do much, either way the goalie has to guess and most keepers do get off their line a bit anyway, unless you let them charge the ball (which would likely lead to a lot of head-on collisions) they’ll get beat just as often, I’d say.

    • wesbadia - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      I don’t think I’d be opposed to this in a tie-breaking shootout situation, but not during regulation or extra time. What I WOULD change about the PK rules isn’t so much of how they’re to be taken, but in what cases they are to be taken in.

      I’ve long said that the only reason a team should be given a clear cut chance to score via a PK (between 83% and 87% of PKs are goals) should be when a physical foul is committed inside the box (ie, tackle, shove, push, etc).

      Awarding PKs for handballs is asinine, especially when we see so many “soft” PKs called for inadvertent or incidental situations where the ball contacts the hand and not vice versa. Should a purposeful handball a la Luis Suarez’s in the 2010 WC be a PK? Hell yes it should. It directly denied a goal and it was committed on purpose. He deserved the red on top of it.

      My idea is to award indirect free kicks in the box for all other types of hand balls committed inside the 18. It creates a completely different scenario for both teams that isn’t usually seen much outside of youth soccer where play is more lenient. It’d add another dimension to play and tactics, and I don’t think any soccer fan would deny wanting to see more of that.

  2. mkgcle - Jun 25, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    I really don’t see what’s unclear about the rule – what IS unclear is why the referee didn’t follow it and rule Boa Morte’s PK illegal. The process of taking a PK is pretty simple: put the ball down, back up a few paces, run up, and kick it. From the moment you start moving until the moment you arrive at the ball, that’s the “run up” – go ahead and feint, stutter-step, piroette, do whatever you want. Once you get to the ball and your forward movement stops, though, you’re done running up and you’ve got to kick the damn ball. I would imagine that the policy behind the rule is something like “if we let guys fake-kick to make the GK jump, GKs will have even less of a chance than the already-infinitesimal one we’re giving them.” If I had to guess, I’d say the referee didn’t whistle Boa Morte because this was a charity game and no one really cared – I’d be VERY surprised if similar shenanigans were allowed in, say, the Champions League or World Cup.

  3. bquills - Jun 25, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    It was an illegal kick and he should have been cautioned (though doubtful in a charity match). It seems pretty clear based on the paragraph you quoted.

    You are allowed to feint (i.e. stutter step, bop your head as if to shoot, etc.) while you are “in the run-up”. But once you are done running up (I read that as “you have planted your foot next to the ball” as Boa Morte did here) you are no longer allowed to feint or fake-kick at the ball.

    I have seen people plant really hard and pause with their kicking leg cocked back (hoping the GK will move), then kick to the other side. I presume that is legal because it is only a delay of the real kick and not a feint.

  4. dolfandon - Jun 26, 2013 at 8:24 AM

    I am a referee and have cautioned players for this. What he did IS an infringement of the rule. Having said this part of your job as a referee is to read the situation and apply some common sense to your rulings. Because it was a charity game I would have passed by the goalie on the way back to center and said yea, I know it was technically illegal but it’s a charity game and I’ll let it slide and I would have also said something to Morte when I got a chance.

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