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EducationPlay of the Week

Play of the Week 19: Holding and fouling in the penalty area

USA celebrate their winning goal against Ghana

Last week’s Play of the Week looked at time wasting, one of the preseason initiatives, and Play of the Week 19  looks at another – holding and fouling in the penalty area from set pieces.

PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer said: “From any free kick or corner kick where the ball is going to be played into the penalty area, match officials have to be prepared.

“They have to have heightened awareness for the potential of a foul challenge in a crowded area.

“Referees are firstly instructed to attempt to manage the players if they see any potential holding prior to the kick being taken.

“On many occasions you see referees stop the kick from being taken while they have words with the players; this is good preventative, proactive refereeing and sometimes this approach is effective, sometimes it is not.

“Players must realize that continuing to commit fouls after the kick has been taken is risky as in the following two examples, from last week’s game between Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls at 67:10, and Red Bulls versus San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday at 31:34.

“In the first example, as the ball was played over from the corner you could see Red Bulls’ Eric Alexander clearly holding and pulling Union’s Maurice Edu, who went to ground.

“Referee Baldomero Toledo had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and, despite the protests, he was confident with his decision. He was totally aware and had a clear view of the incident.

“In example number two, you can see referee Jose Carlos Rivero prevent the corner kick from being taken while he warns Red Bulls’ Tim Cahill and San Jose’s Steven Lenhart, who are showing signs of misconduct before the ball is released into play.


“Despite his proactive attempt, when the ball was played into the area, Lenhart recklessly charged into Cahill with his arm raised and not only committed a foul challenge but also handled the ball. Rivero correctly awarded a PK.

“Holding in the penalty area from set pieces appears to be a worldwide problem and referees often ignore blatant fouls.

“MLS and PRO made it one of this season’s initiatives and the players were warned that referees and their crews would be showing heightened awareness at set pieces.

“So a warning to players; do not run the risk.”

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