The Premier League will try to put an end to the art of ‘buying’ a penalty, as it announced stricter refereeing criteria for deciding shots from the penalty spot.
When the 2021-22 season begins, referees must evaluate three criteria before deciding whether to award a penalty for a foul. Referees must first consider the degree of contact experienced by the attacking player, then the consequence of that contact, before finally taking into account the attacker’s motivation to react to the challenge.
Premier League refereeing chief Mike Riley said the decision to change the penalty guidance followed discussions with top-flight clubs and players, all of whom wanted shots to be awarded from the spot just for “proper fouls”. It also comes after a record 125 top flight penalties were imposed last season.
“Referees will seek contact and establish clear contact, then ask themselves the question: does this contact have a consequence?” Riley said. “Then they will ask themselves a question: has the player used that contact to try to win a foul? Therefore, it is not enough to say: “Yes, there is contact.”
“I think the feedback we have received from the players, both attackers and defenders, [is that] you want it to be a proper foul that has a consequence, not something someone has used lightly to overlook, and we’ve given the penalty to reward it. “
Riley said he hopes the rules will help persuade players to stay on their feet in the area. Under the new guidance, the penalty that Raheem Sterling won for England against Denmark in the Euro 2020 semi-final would not have occurred and, if it had, the decision would be expected to be overturned by VAR.
Riley confirmed that there will be revisions to video refereeing technology this season, with changes to the way it interprets offside decisions to benefit the attacking team.
The VAR assesses whether a player is offside in preparation for a goal as part of its four key checks, but has been criticized for ruling out goals on the smaller margins. The new rules will apply a different approach, with a final decision being made not using the one-pixel-wide lines of the VAR, but the thicker “transmission lines” that television uses. If the line marking the attacker’s position is confused with the line marking the defender’s position, the attacker is considered to be in play.
“Now we have reintroduced the benefit of the doubt to the attacking player,” Riley said. “Indeed, what we have given back to the game are 20 goals that were disallowed last season through a fairly forensic scrutiny. They are the toenails, the noses of the players who were offside last season, this season they will be at stake ”.
Riley remains a staunch supporter of the much-criticized technology, three years after what he sees as a five-year process to establish it. He said Euro 2020 had helped defend the VAR, with a light approach allowing the game to flow. This approach, he says, will be followed in the Premier League.
“I think one of the encouraging things that we’re going to be heading for next season is that people expect that threshold to be higher than it was last year,” he said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism