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: 34370

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/4/2021

RE: Select Under 11

Andrew R of Frisco, TX United States asks...

I thought I knew the answer to this, but my daughter's keeper coach told me I was wrong. I believe him, but I'm wanting to find confirmation via a rules section where it clarifies.

Goalkeeper has the ball in her hands and goes to punt it. She drops the ball while the ball and her body are in her box, but the ball crosses over the line (in the air) before her foot strikes it while outside the box. Is this a foul on her and what is the punishment? Thanks!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Andrew
As described there is no offence as the goalkeeper did not touch the ball with her hands outside the penalty area.
It is akin to a goalkeeper throwing the ball down from inside to outside the penalty area and kicking it either on the ground or on a bounce in the air or dribbling the ball. As the ball was not contacted by a hand outside the penalty area there is no offence

I like to show this video
It looks to me that the ball has been released from inside the line and the kick is a follow through over the line. There is no offence here
In fact it is nigh impossible to discern the moment the ball was released from the hand close to the penalty area line yet the follow through kick was clearly outside
If I was to see this action in a game I would not call any offence.

I recall in a English Premier League game an assistant referee flagging this very action as deliberate handling. Video replays and freeze frame showed that the AR made an error as the ball was released inside the area from the goalkeeper’s hand and it was not touched by a hand over the line. My colleague Referee Grove has posted the video and a goal resulted from the AR’s error. Not a good outcome at this level which resulted in demotion at that level for a period for the AR!

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Andrew ,
there is no foul,
keeper will often toss the ball outside the PA in the process of punting, kicking or playing it. Nothing illegal there.

The ONE thing she cannot do is actually CARRY the ball in her hands completely over the PA boundry line and then release or toss it as that would be a DFK from just outside the PA .

Outside the PA the keeper is the same as any player when it comes to the LOTG.

Now there are also visual concerns with trifling or doubtful conditions which newer officials & others lack the understanding the keeper is releasing the ball back into play! The tossing motion at or near the PA 18 yards boundary line can look suspicious because in the tossing motion sometime the hands may have released the ball but it's not totally clear as it is a fast forward movement.

While it can look a bit suspicious that just perhaps the keeper hung on a smidge too long and carried it outside when in fact the ball had NOT completely crossed the PA boundry line while gripped with the hands. A faded line, bright sun, a bit of a slip, over excited youth by momentum, even if it was plausible that it might have but you cannot be 100% sure so you 100% do not call it! Why? The opposition has done nothing to deserve a scoring opportunity from what is likely at best a minimalist error by the keeper or more likely not an error at all it just looks vaguely suspicious.

If the keeper is charging and making it apparent that they could be pushing the release point to where the ball is actually being let, go COMPLETELY outside the boundary line not before I suggest a simple warning should suffice rather than a gotcha DFK call. Keepers run out and punt the ball from inside the D penalty arc depending on how far they toss the ball, it can look like they are 4 yds out. Not an issue unless it WAS very clear the keeper did not toss it but carried it.

I like to use this analogy for describing boundary lines as it helps visualize! Imagine the surrounding PA boundary lines as 5-inch wall of water extending straight up into the air as high as it can be, but only 5 inches in width. If ANY part of that ball is in contact with that wall if it is the slightest bit wet that ball is inside the area even if most of the ball may not be.

The position of the hands on this wet ball by a keeper is irrelevant as that ball maybe legally handed

Just a point of clarity.
No matter how FAR a keeper was to carry a ball outside the PA if you had warned and this was a reoccurring theme should you whistle for that DFK handling foul the location of the ball is where they exited from the PA, the ball is placed just outside the PA so as not to be wet. A ball placed in the boundary line is in fact an illegal restart point given the ball would be considered inside the PA & a keeper is permitted to handle said ball so it could not be a DFK . When evaluating a young referee in the post-match for awarding a DFK at the edge of the penalty arc where the ball was punted from for the keeper supposedly handing the ball in the process of carrying it out to punt it. I reminded him that 4-yard distance was not the 22 yard restart location but back beside the 18 yard line. I also suggested that a warning could have served a purpose rather than a fuzzy DFK gift, as the opposition scored on the restart. The video showed the ball was in fact being spun tossed just as the keeper stepped out.
Please to the nitpickers complaining about absolutes, trust me this is not one of them


Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Andrew,
It is only an offence for a goalkeeper to handle the ball when it is completely outside of the penalty area.

So in the example that you give where the keeper releases the ball while it is still inside the area and then kicks the ball only after it has exited the penalty area, there is no offence.

As my colleagues pointed out, if the goalkeeper is moving quickly forward and tosses the ball up close to the edge of the area, they can end up quite a substantial distance outside the area before actually kicking the ball and this can look suspicious to the watching officials.

While it is always important for officials to be sure before making a decision, in this particular instance it's perhaps even more critical than usual because you are giving a free kick that could lead to a match changing situation. In fact in the example that ref McHugh mentions, where Pepe Reina of Liverpool was pulled up for this incorrectly, a goal was actually scored from the resulting free kick.

The incident in question starts 2 minutes and 12 seconds into the clip below:

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 34370
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

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

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

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.