penalty minefield

Refereeing expert Sylvester Ndaba set the cat among the pigeons when he announced on national television that the South African Football Association's refereeing think-tank was reviewing the controversial run-up, stop and kick style of taking penalty kicks.

Refereeing expert Sylvester Ndaba set the cat among the pigeons when he announced on national television that the South African Football Association's refereeing think-tank was reviewing the controversial run-up, stop and kick style of taking penalty kicks.

My mind raced, wondering what soccer's world governing body Fifa (Federation of International Football Associations') take on the matter was. Sadly, the Professor did not shed any light either.

I wondered what the purpose of a penalty was. To give the attacking teams an advantage when their players get fouled when perceived to be in a goal-scoring position? Or should both teams have an even advantage when such set-play takes place?

According to the Laws of the Game as modified by the International Football Association Board in Scotland in March, which came into effect on July 1 (2008), the procedure of taking the penalty is: the player taking the penalty kick must kick the ball forward, he must not play the ball again until it is touched by another player, the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward.

However, it is not only the procedure that got me going. The Professor insinuated that the controversial art is a phenomenon and invention of Mamelodi Sundowns' striker Surprise Moriri.

Now that cannot be correct. The art has been around since the 1950s and it was used by none other than the Fifa Footballer of the Century himself, the greatest - Edison Arantes do Nascimento (Pele, to the uninitiated)

In Brazil they call it the paradinha (the little stop). In his autobiography, Pele credits his Brazil national teammate Didi for the invention.

Pele says in his book: "Goalkeepers started complaining that it wasn't fair and in the 1970s Fifa banned the paradinha. Now referees are less strict and I've seen players get away with it again."

My question is, has the professor or the think-tank wondered why Fifa relented? Would they be interested in revisiting the matter?

Moreover, at the same Sundowns there was a Zambian player before Moriri named Gift Kampamba.

I vividly remember when Sundowns beat Petro Atletico of Angola to advance to the group stages of the Champions League in 2001, Kampamba executed one of the best paradinhas I've ever seen to score the final penalty in Luanda.

If Ndaba and the think-tank implement a unique law to South Africa, what do we do when our national teams or clubs taking part in international inter-club competitions fall victim to the practice.

Now, I think there is enough reason for all those involved to pause and think how much more research is needed and how far to broaden consultation on the matter. And hey, this is a crucial policy matter that should not be narrowed to boosting ratings for a TV programme.

Sipho Mthembu,

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