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Question Number: 34133

High School 2/24/2021

RE: High School High School

DEVERY A HARPER of Naples, FL United States asks...

I was at a high school boys regional final the other day as a spectator. I witnessed a series of events that made me question the call. I would like to know your opinions on the matter.

On a corner kick the keeper does a great job of controlling his area and intercepts the corner in the air. I saw one of the attackers give him a little jab with the hands (the referee did not see this) and then the keeper retaliated by swinging the shoulders/elbows into the attacking player. The referee stopped the clock. Issued a yellow card to the keeper only. Substituted the offending player. Then the restart was a free kick (I don't remember if it was indirect or not) for the defending team.
It got me thinking. Shouldn't this have been a dfk worthy foul for the attacking team? He swung his shoulders and elbow into the attacking player while the ball was still in play. And if it was a dfk foul, it was also in the penalty area. Should/could this have been a penalty?
I don't understand. The ball was not out of play. The play was still live. Sure the keeper had the ball in his hands, but where in the rules does it say that if he/she commits a foul the restart is a free kick to the offending team just because the keeper had the ball in their hands?
Can you help me understand this?

Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


From your description, the goalkeeper committed the foul of striking which results in a direct free kick for the opponent. (NFHS Rule 12.1.1).

The goalkeeper was given a caution for unsporting conduct and correctly was made to leave and substituted for.
(NFHS Rule 12.8.1f).

However, as you observed the opponents should have been awarded a penalty kick because the direct free kick foul occurred in the penalty area. (NFHS 14.1.1).

Apparently, the call was not striking but a misconduct that no other restart takes precedence. In this case the game would have been restarted with an indirect free kick. (NFHS Rule 13.2..2l) The indirect kick then should have been taken from the point of the foul unless the foul occurred in the goal area and then the kick would have been taken from the part of the goal area line which runs parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the offense was committed. (NFHS 13.1.4).

I hope that you get to work in next week's Florida State High School soccer championships.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Devery,
hard to get it all sorted without being there and seeing or talking to the actual referee.
The keeper was cautioned, shown a yellow card.
Then the keeper was substituted with another keeper so he could sit in the sin bin for 10 minutes and yet it was his team that received the free-kick?
The only way that makes sense is the referee DID see the foul push by the attacker and thought to ignore it as trifling since the keeper had ball possession but given the retaliation perhaps he thought it better to acknowledge WHY the keeper retaliated? So it was a DFK foul by the attacker or if the attacker was a PIOP and an INDFK for offside and the retaliation by the keeper was determined as misconduct? Was it a direct catch of the ball by the keeper from the corner kick? Either reason is a subjective reach for understanding or clarity! OUR resident highschool soccer rules expert, JOE Majone commented on the fact it should be a PK or by some convoluted mess arrive at an INDFK inside the PA for the attackers. There is no logical way I see it as a free-kick for the defenders based exclusively on your version of events! Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Devery
Thanks for the question
I believe that what may have happened here is that the referee may have punished the FIRST infraction which was the push jab by the attacker.
The referee then punished the misconduct by the goalkeeper by a yellow card and the restart was a DFK to the defending team for the initial first offence.
You say that the referee did not see the offence by the attacker and perhaps he did yet may have decided to let it slide as the goalkeeper had the ball and the defending team could get on with play with a punt.
You correctly state that it cannot be a restart to the offending team just because the goalkeeper has the ball in hand. Possession in any code does not exonerate any offender.
In the past I have awarded penalty kicks for such offences by goalkeepers who decided to take retribution for earlier shenanigans with opponents. I recall one particular penalty decision where the goalkeeper took a clean catch and then ran some 10 yards to crash into an opponent, knocking him to the ground. He even went out of his way to commit that charging foul which was punished by a yellow card and a penalty kick.
Sometimes referees react to the reasons for misconduct with players citing the reasons why they reacted. Perhaps the goalkeeper told the referee that the attacker push jabbed him which caused him to react the way that he did. If the referee is confident that that in fact happened then he may go with that first offence as the restart.
In equity it would be harsh if the offending team got "rewarded" with a restart such as a penalty kick in this case when an attacker kicked it all off with a push jab to an opponent. We know that does not give any player the right to commit retaliation misconduct and the referee will rightly punish that with a card.
Irrespective of what the referee saw or did in your scenario we know that
1. Misconduct must be punished by a card.
2. Possession does not exonerate any player from committing an infraction.
3. When two offences have been committed the first offence is the one that play is restarted with.
4. An offence by the goalkeeper with the ball in hand inside the penalty area such as charging, pushing, striking etc will be punished by a penalty kick.

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