Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 33767

High School 11/11/2019

RE: High School Playoffs Adult

Brian of New York, New York US asks...

Just watched a video of an overtime goal to win a championship. The ball was delivered to a spot about 2-3 feet in front of the goal. The keeper leaped up to catch the ball, and at the same time an opposing player also leaped to head the ball. Frankly, it looked like the ball entered the keepers hands and the contact from the player resulted in the ball entering the goal.

Here is the video link:

Was this a legal goal?

At what point does the keeper officially have possession?

Curious about what yall thoughts are here.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Brian,
Keeper should be punching this ball away ! Although there is a case here that perhaps the ball was headed out of his hands it is not clear that he actually had clear possession and the attacker was well up attacking this ball with far more conviction than the keepers save. I saw a few half hearted REf, pointing to the keeper being knocked down appeals but it seemed even they were convinced it was good goal.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Brian,
The law says that:

''A goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball with the hand(s) when ... the ball is between the hands or between the hand and any surface (e.g. ground, own body) or by touching it with any part of the hands or arms, except if the ball rebounds from the goalkeeper or the goalkeeper has made a save''

It then goes on to say that:

''A goalkeeper cannot be challenged by an opponent when in control of the ball with the hand(s).''

So the deciding factor according to the law, is whether the keeper was touching the ball ''with any part of the hands or arms'' when the forward challenged him.

If he was (and assuming this was clear enough to be seen by the referee in real time) then the challenge was illegal and the goal should not stand. If the forward got to the ball first, then even if it touched the keeper's hands subsequently, it would be legal.

If it was really not clear whether the keeper had hands on the ball before the forward headed it, then the referee might decide to allow it on the basis of it being what the old laws used to refer to as a dubious offence.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hard to say from this video.
On balance I would say that it was a goal. Certainly the reaction of the White team suggests that there was no obvious clear foul by the attacker on the goalkeeper.
If the goalkeeper had the ball in his grasp and it was headed out of that then that would be an offence or if the goalkeeper was bundled over the line then that is also an offence.
From what I see here I do not see anything untoward in the challenge. If anything the goalkeeper should have punched the ball away rather than allowing what happened to transpire.
It is always tough to lose a game particular in extra time.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Brian,
This is an interesting one, and thanks for the video.
Watching in real time in the video you posted I actually thought the attacker got the only touch on the ball. I found a Youtube video which unfortunately is lower quality, but allows you to slow it down. It wasn't until watching it at 1/4 speed that I could tell the keeper did get his hands on it for a fraction of a second first -
The Laws state that a player cannot prevent a keeper from releasing the ball (I'm not aware if there are any differences in rules of guidelines here with US High School Soccer). That means the attacker can't head the ball out of the keeper's hands.
The question, as you've raised, is 'at what point does the keeper officially have possession'?
The laws aren't quite clear on this. I think that if the referee could see the keeper clearly had the ball in his hands then that's when you'd consider it a foul. Even if it's brief, I'd argue if you can clearly see it then that's enough. If I've had to slow it down to 1/4 speed to see the keeper had it in his hands for a frame or two, then realistically that's a simultaneous contact - and if it's simultaneous, then it's a fair challenge. If they've struck the ball at the same time, I'd say you can't make an argument that the keeper has been dispossessed - also bear in mind that here there is absolutely no way to tell if the keeper was still fumbling the ball or not.
Different referees will have different thresholds of when they determine the keeper to be in possession - but for me, an effectively simultaneous challenge is fine.

Read other questions answered by Referee Jason Wright

View Referee Jason Wright profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 33767
Read other Q & A regarding High School

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

VAR (Video Assistant Referee) Questions?

Learn about VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.