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Question Number: 34041

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/1/2020

RE: Rec+Select Adult

Ian Thomas of Sarnia, Ontario Canada asks...

I recently watched a "Misplays of the Month" on Sportsnet, and one play caught my eye. I found the game later so I could reference it. Hartford Athletic vs Philadelphia Union II, score was tied 2-2, and a Hartford Athletic player, Danny Barrera redirected a ball that had just been released from the goalkeeper's hands less than a second prior, and it ended up scoring. I looked in the IFAB Laws of the Game, and under Law 12, Section 2, Fouls and Misconduct, Indirect Free Kick, it says: "An indirect free kick is awarded if a player prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from the hands or kicks or attempts to kick the ball when the goalkeeper is in the process of releasing it." My judgement is that this goal should have been called back and an indirect free kick awarded to the goalkeeper.

Article for reference:

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ian
Thanks for the question
I looked at this incident and to be honest I personally do not see anything blatantly wrong with the goal. It is a judgement call decision and referees will differ on this one. That’s fine as we all have differing opinions on calls that are in the opinion of the referee. I fully respect your’s and others calls including my colleague Referee Wright on it.
For me the goalkeeper throws the ball low and behind the opponent who sticks up his heel which the ball hits and rebounds into the goal. The ball has travelled a couple of yards so it was released. I also look at the reaction of the goalkeeper and players and there is not one appeal about what happened.
I think there would have been a furore about disallowing it so why go there when it gets *accepted* as a goal.
So for me Barrera does not prevent the release and in my opinion he is far enough back to be seen as an interception . I just think it was a misjudgment by the goalkeeper.
The event to me is an outlier and there is no definitive distance as to the difference between intercepting or preventing rekease. In fact he could be further away and still be preventing release depending on his actions. The key question is whether “in the opinion of the referee” the goalkeeper, who is in the process of releasing the ball, has been influenced by an opponent. The referee can only judge by the actions of the opponent.
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.
During the time the goalkeeper has control of the ball and is preparing to release it into play, an opponent may not stand or move so close as to restrict the direction or distance of the goalkeeper’s release. Did this happen here?
The referee on the day thought that it did not. Another referee on another day might think otherwise.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Ian,

As you note, opponents are not allowed to prevent the release. This has to apply to a reasonable distance in front of the keeper - the release includes the ball being allowed to effectively get back into the field. That is to say, being immediately in front of the keeper and blocking the path of the ball is also blocking the release - this is something I see often misunderstood in online discussions of these incidents.

Another thing that is often understood is the defender's position - too many people think that outside of the PA the defender is allowed to block the ball. This is not correct - the laws make no mention of position here blocking the release inside the PA is the same as being just outside the PA and blocking it.

Of course, there's a point where 'preventing the release' becomes 'intercepting the ball' - the latter being legal. That's where the grey area comes into it.

I will respectfully disagree with Ref McHugh and argue that this goal should not have been allowed. The attacker is about 1 yard in front of the keeper - by raising his foot the keeper has absolutely no opportunity to release the ball. That proximity tells me the release was blocked, rather than intercepting the ball. The keeper could have released the ball differently - but he is not obligated to the opponents are instead obligated to allow the release.

We can see the defender starts to commit to raising the foot as soon as he spots the throw is about to occur - he is moving to block the ball. Had he somehow been quick enough to stick that foot out after the release I'd be okay with it, but the moment the defender made that decision, because the keeper was committed to his release there was no long any chance of the ball rejoining regular play.

So, this is an indirect for me. This offence should not normally result in a card unless the block is dangerous or is tactical - ie blocking a quick counterattack. I just think that 1 yard in front of the keeper is well within the distance that it's considered 'preventing the release'.

If the keeper had thrown the ball into the defender and that defender had not moved towards the expected path of the ball, then this would have been the keeper's fault.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Ian,
it is interesting question given my 2 colleagues have a differing opinion on the same incident. When examining video footage of an incident I have not seen in real time, I personally find it difficult to NOT succumb to video bias from viewing repeated angles of slow motion. In real time I make that decision based on my gut instinct. I am acutely aware that on the field in real time a referee sees the incident from their personal perspective and those who 2nd guess the decision are most often offering their perspective from a different need, source, position or understanding of the LOTG .
The keeper can not be challenged once he has secured ball possession & the LOTG provide a keeper a reasonable amount of TIME to release the ball in an unhindered manner.
The LOTG specifically state the opposition CAN NOT hinder that keeper from discharging his duty which is to release the ball back into play .
If we examine the KEEPERS conduct!
He secured the ball. Check
He was not hindered or challenged running to the edge of the PA boundary line. Check
He was well within the 6 seconds and arm tossed a ball releasing it back into play. Check
If we examine the attackers conduct!
The attacker did not move towards the keeper
The attacker did nothing to directly prevent the keeper from releasing the ball but did he truly stand or move so close as to restrict the direction or distance of the goalkeeper’s release?
He did slow down, stop and stick out the back leg. It is OBVIOUS he did that to intercept the ball but was it preventing the release or reacting to the release???

Based on player reaction only, it appears that no one thought it was anything but a Keeper error yet that niggly slow motion bias casts doubt on my gut which would be to award the goal.

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