Watch: Panama tries to sneak goal past England with strange kickoff ploy

FC Yahoo

Panama was humiliated by England at the 2018 World Cup on Sunday. It lost 6-1. And the margin could have been wider. Panama was completely overmatched.

So, in one of the strangest moments of the World Cup, it raced back to the center circle after one of Harry Kane’s two penalties and tried to restart the game before any of England’s players were back in their own half:

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This, obviously, is not allowed. The ref shut down Panama’s faux counterattack. Panamanian players, for some reason, seemed frustrated.

Perhaps they had been fooled by video that made the rounds on social media earlier in the World Cup. Portugal’s celebrations of Cristiano Ronaldo’s free kick led to talk of a supposed rule that if all outfield players leave the field to celebrate – which England’s players did – the opposing team is allowed to kick off right then and there.

That rule is non-existent. It’s unclear where social media users got it from. FIFA’s rules state that “all players, except the player taking the kick-off, must be in their own half of the field of play” at kickoff. There is no special stipulation when all players are off the field entirely.

So it’s not quite clear why Panama thought it would be able to do this. A few players seemed to be convinced they could catch England unaware. They were wrong.

(Screenshot: @MayesTouabi on Twitter)
(Screenshot: @MayesTouabi on Twitter)

Weirdly – if my memory serves me correctly – it’s not the first time Panama has tried this. I recall Los Canaleros trying this in a 2009 Gold Cup quarterfinal against the United States, after Kenny Cooper converted a penalty in extra time. It wasn’t allowed then. It wasn’t allowed Sunday. And there’s no reason it’d be allowed in the future.

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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