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Question Number: 29869

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/28/2015

RE: rec Under 8

mary Ramirez-de-Arellano of damascus, MD USA asks...

If the goalie had the ball between his hands (he is down on the ground with it) but lets go of it , it rolls away and the opponent kicks it in, is it a goal?

And at any level I have this question: do you whistle fouls on opponents when they jostle the goalie and he drops the ball which it turns out he has only barely in his grasp? Inotherwords, what exactly constitutes 'having possession of the ball' when it comes to the goalie in his penalty area? Thanks so much for answering this question and all the others you have helped me with!!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mary
As Referee Wickham notes we as referees adjust our calls based on the age groups. Safety is key and allowing kicks near a seven / nine year old GK fumbling for the ball can be risky.
On your first question is that once the goalkeeper lifts his hand off the ball it is out of the goalkeepers possession and it may be played by an opponent. So it is a goal in your example
On your second question is that once the goalkeeper has a grasp of the ball he may not be challenged which includes jostling. Once the opponent challenges and jostle the goalkeeper causing her to lose the ball it is an offence.
Now there may be times when the goalkeeper does not have a complete grasp and she fumbles the ball. The referee in those instances has to decide if it was a fumble caused by a challenge or just a plain drop of the ball. If it is a plain drop not caused by an opponent then it is play on.
In this video the GK has lost control of the ball and he never regains control / possession. Correct decision is a goal
In this video the GK drops the ball and the opponent has not caused that so the correct decision is a goal. It is just an error.
Now have a look at this clip
In the 70th minute of a match between D.C. United at Philadelphia Union in 2010, D.C. forward Moreno in White #99 followed, moved in closer to, waved arms at, and made various head and body “movements” toward Philadelphia goalkeeper Seitz while Seitz was holding the ball and preparing to distribute it. During the course of this interference, Seitz dropped the ball and Moreno shot the ball into the net. These actions by Moreno constituted a violation of Law 12. The goal should not have been allowed and an indirect free kick should have been given where Moreno interfered. Moreno’s behavior additionally could have been cautioned as unsporting behavior.
The reason it was allowed was that the referee and AR were not positioned to see the offence. The AR had moved out to view the possible offside line when instead he should have stayed back with the GK and the ball while the attacker was present.
A goalkeeper is considered to be in the process of “releasing the ball” from the first moment when he or she has clearly taken hand control of the ball until the moment when the ball has been clearly released into play. This includes any time when the goalkeeper is:
# bouncing the ball
# running with the ball
# in the process of dropping the ball in preparation for kicking it
# throwing the ball.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Mary
we are always happy to help clarify any questions you may have!

In your first instance it is UNWISE for a keeper to allow the ball to roll OUT of his possession! The error in release creates the opportunity for the opponent to play that play and if the keeper was to try and recover possession he ...MIGHT... be guilty of a 2nd touch. If it was an accidental release a drop say or a slippery ball we are less inclined to see it as a release per say and allow him to regrab that ball for his complete 6 seconds but if it rolls free and an opponent nearby slots it home, it is a goal. This is a mistake by the keeper it is not a foul by an opponent!.

The LOTG state if the keeper has the ball in possession defined as

A goalkeeper is not permitted to keep control of the ball in his hands for more
than six seconds. A goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball:
• while the ball is between his hands or between his hand and any surface
(e.g. ground, own body)
• while holding the ball in his outstretched open hand
• while in the act of bouncing it on the ground or tossing it into the air

When a goalkeeper has gained possession of the ball with his hands, he cannot
be challenged by an opponent.

– the goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball by touching
it with any part of his hands or arms except if the ball rebounds
accidentally from him, e.g. after he has made a save
– possession of the ball includes the goalkeeper deliberately parrying the ball
end quotes

Then the opposition must pull out of any challenge . Contact the causes the keeper to lose this possession that creates drop or fumble is NOT permitted and is a free kick out.


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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

I would give a different answer for recreational games with seven year olds. The referee needs to protect the 7 year old playing goal keeper from getting kicked by an opponent when he loses possession of the ball while trying to get up. It is as likely that the opponent will kick the player as that the opponent will kick the ball. Blow the whistle immediately, and stop play before the opponent can kick anything. That protects the keeper from being injured. U7 is about being safe and having fun.

(If there is no foul, the restart is a dropped ball. But, the wise referee simply drops the ball where only the keeper can pick it up.)

In competitive games at older levels, the referee needs to observe why the keeper lost possession of the ball. If it is a result of a charge by the opponent, then call the foul. If it is because the keeper made a mistake, allow the goal.

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