VAR will not step in if Premier League goalkeepers move too soon for a penalty

The penalty that knocked Scotland out of the Women’s World Cup on Wednesday would not have been retaken if a Premier League video assistant referee was in charge of the game, England’s top flight has confirmed.

Scotland crashed out of France 2019 when Argentina came back from 3-0 down with 16 minutes to play to force a 3-3 draw.

The South Americans’ equaliser came from a penalty that was awarded with help from the technology and then ordered to be retaken by VAR after Scottish goalkeeper Lee Alexander saved the first effort but was adjudged to have moved off her line too soon.

The VAR screen showing that Argentina's penalty was to be retaken
The VAR screen showing that Argentina’s penalty was to be retaken (Richard Sellers/PA)

This was the second such VAR intervention at the Women’s World Cup following Monday’s decision to let French defender Wendie Renard have a second attempt at her spot kick because Nigeria’s goalkeeper moved too soon. This was despite Renard missing the target – she did not miss the retake, though, and France won 1-0.

VAR is being introduced to the Premier League next season but a spokesman has explained to Press Association Sport that decisions on goalkeepers’ movements before penalties will be left to the on-field officials.


Video replays will only be used during penalties if the taker double-kicks the ball or feigns to shoot at the point of contact, or if there is encroachment by other players that has a direct impact on the outcome of the penalty – for example, if the goalkeeper saves the initial shot and the rebound is either cleared or scored.

The Professional Games Match Officials Limited, the organisation which trains and supplies referees to England’s top four divisions and the Football Association, will review this position during the course of the season but it is understood it wants to avoid the confusion and delays witnessed in France this week.


VAR was applying a new law introduced by world football’s rule-making body IFAB shortly before the Women’s World Cup.

It states goalkeepers must have at least one foot on the goal-line when a penalty is taken or, if they are jumping at the time of contact, have one foot in line with it.