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Question Number: 33517

Law 18 - Common Sense 7/13/2019

RE: Competitive Adult

Jack of Castle Rock, CO USA asks...

Complicated one:
Ball is kicked from midfield by an offensive player to an opponent's goalkeeper. The keeper controls the ball with his feet from within the penalty area (he never uses his hands). He then dribbles outside the area, feels pressure from a sprinting offensive player and dribbles back into the area and picks the ball up just before it can be stolen. I've been told by multiple high level referees that this should result in an IFK for 'circumventing the rules'. My question is, what rule is he really circumventing?

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

It seems to me that your 'high level referees' are trying too hard to call something when they see something they don't like. Just because it's different or goes against how they think the game should be played doesn't make it illegal.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Jack,
Nothing too high level or nothing too complicated about this at all. There is no call! The keeper has done nothing incorrect. The ball was last played by the opponent, it was NOT deliberately kicked to him by a team mate, thus no handling restrictions are in place! The keeper can refrain from picking up the ball but is under no restrictions, he can choose to just stand there or to dribble the ball where ever he so wishes, in and out of the PA, as much as the opposition lack of a challenge or pressure allows him . Until the opposition challenges him for possession & forces him to play the ball, using his hands inside the PA. Once the keeper DOES decide to pickup the ball, with his hands inside his PA, the opposition can NO longer challenge but the keeper must now release the ball back into play within 6 seconds . That is a tactical choice. It is NOT USB or a circumvent or time wasting or illegal or unfair.

This is no different than an opposition offside player is in pursuit of a team mates pass but it is over hit and it seems 100% the opposing keeper is going to get to it so the offside player stops his run expecting the keeper to clear it. The ball loses steam in a bit of a watery patch and comes to a stop.

The keeper stands over the ball.

The offside player hangs back but finally he is upset the keeper is just standing there charges in keeper sticks out his foot and dribbles the ball. This of course nullifies the restricted status of the attacking pursuer who is NO longer offside . He pressures the keeper into his own PA and the keeper reaches down to pick the ball for his 6 seconds of uncontested possession.

The key point here is the attackers had opportunity to play the ball. The OPP (offside positioned player) was not actually allowed to play the ball at all! If the keeper had chosen not to touch/dribble the ball it could have actually been an INDFK out for offside because nothing occurred to reset offside UNTIL the keeper actually played the ball.

Tactical choices can legally USE up time if the opposition is slow to respond! The keeper effectively used up time. It is the same as when players take the ball deep onto the corner flag and they fiddle with it . It FORCES the opposition to come and get it. The attacker shields the ball trying to use up time or force a corner or a throw in or even draw a foul. Its what teams do, they figure out legal ways to use up time especially if they are winning.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Jack,

All of your 'high level referees' need to get back to basics.
If it helps, I remember running the line on a local first grade match (Australia, so probably a different competition structure)....the referee (who had been at that level for a very long time) awarded an IFK for a player saying 'mine'....which is just wrong.
You're taking the right approach - a more experienced/higher level referee is telling you something and you seem to be critically assessing it rather than just accepting it.

Your scenario is actually very, very simple. There's no offence.

The keeper is still permitted to handle the ball after he received it from a deliberate kick from an opponent. . How much time he spends with the ball at his feet has never changed that fact. Where he receives the ball is not relevant - thus the fact that he ran with the ball in and out of the PA first, is not relevant. Because it doesn't change the key facts - it was an opponent who deliberately kicked the ball to the keeper, and the keeper handled that ball in their own PA.

A lot of referees misunderstand 'circumventing the laws of the game'. That applies when a player is attempting to exploit an apparent loophole.

For instance, a defender flicking the ball up and heading it back to the keeper. The player here has inserted another touch after the kick to try and make it a head back to the keeper, not a kick. That changes how the situation is assessed in the laws.

It would be like if, at a FK, a defender flicked it up to a teammate to head back. Same issue.

Those are about the only 2 scenarios I can think of where circumvention applies - also, circumvention is USB; it's a YC offence. IFK is the restart for a non-specified caution if play is stopped to issue that card.

Your colleagues are arguing for an IFK only. There is simply no provision in the laws for an IFK here.

The keeper has received the ball from an opponent. They can do what they like with the ball until the handle it. I cannot, for the life of me, imagine what your colleagues think is being circumvented - or why they think a keeper should be penalized for handling the ball after it's kicked to them by an opponent.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jack,
As my colleagues have pointed out, this is a quite uncomplicated, totally simple scenario. There is no hint of an offence here. The only time a goalkeeper is prohibited from using their hands on the ball inside their own penalty area is when it was either thrown-in or deliberately kicked to them by a team mate, or they have released the ball after controlling it with their hands, and no other player has touched the ball since.

As none of those things has happened, the keeper has done nothing wrong here. Now, If the ball has been deliberately kicked to them by a team mate rather than kicked by an opponent there would be an offence and an indirect free kick - but the offence would still not be 'circumvention.'

The 'circumventing the law' provision only applies when a team mate of the goalkeeper uses a deliberate trick to pass the ball to the goalie without kicking it. Again, there is no possible hint of that here since the ball came from an opponent.

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