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Question Number: 34459

High School 12/29/2021

RE: High School championship game High School

John Herbert of Huntersville, North Carolina US asks...

Free kick taken into the box, our player beats the goalie to the ball, he is in the air, goalie does not get off the ground, but jumps into our player, never touches the ball, the ball is headed into the goal. The ref called foul on the attacking player. Though rules of the game indicate that the goalie has to possess the ball in such a scenario in order for a foul to be called. Goalie did not touch ball and initiated contact.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi John
As described that would not have been an offence and the goal was good. Your interpretation though that the goalkeeper has to be in possession for a foul to be called would not be correct. Ball possession is not a requirement of a foul challenge.

Obviously that is not what the referee saw and opined. The referee I suspect called an illegal charge or jumping at the goalkeeper by the attacking player as part of the challenge in a way that was deemed illegal

In a FIFA game a direct free kick is awarded if a player commits any of the following offences against an opponent in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:
# charges
# jumps at....
Careless is when a player shows a lack of attention or consideration when making a challenge or acts without precaution. No disciplinary sanction is needed.
NFHS rule 12 would concur with this.

Now in the modern game a great deal more protection has been given to goalkeepers which many complain about. In instances where there is heavy contact on the goalkeeper in aerial challenges referees tend to give the benefit of doubt to the goalkeeper particularly where he has comes off second best in the challenge. Many times it will be called even at times when it is questionable.

I was at an Underage game recently and the referee did not call what he considered normal contact on an aerial challenge between goalkeeper and forward with the ball eventually ending up in the goal. In my opinion the referee was correct in the call yet it did not stop complaints from the GK and his team. They fully expected a free kick for the contact on the goalkeeper. Referees hate those situation as a referee can be considered wrong no matter what way he calls it. I suppose there is more of an *expectation* on the foul being awarded to the goalkeeper in these type of situations than not hence why many referees go with the free out to the defending team.

As an aside I watched Man Utd v Burnley and there was an aerial challenge on Cavani in the 2nd half which was not given as a foul. The referee stopped the game for a head injury and replay showed some contact with an arm to the players head. Cavani was incensed it was not a foul and believed that the opponent used his arm illegally motioning that it was a deliberate elbow and complaining bitterly to the referee and to everyone close to him. From what I saw on the replay it was certainly not an arm used as a weapon which would be a red card offence or even close to it. Yes there was some contact yet I doubted as a neutral if there was enough contact to merit a certain offence. I have no doubt Utd and its supporters saw it as a foul while Burnley and its supporters would have agreed with the no call. If the ref had given it the opinions would have been reversed! As a neutral I would have said *soft* if it was given

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi John,
I suspect what we might have here may well be a case of differing perceptions. If the referee had seen things the way you did, then logically they should not have called a foul against your player. So clearly, that's not what they saw.

One thing to bear in mind is that, as ref McHugh points out, a player does not have to be in possession of the ball to be fouled, so the fact that the keeper never touched the ball is not necessarily definitive.

So while it's possible that the referee got this wrong, is also possible they they didn't. Without seeing the incident in question, is pretty much impossible to tell.

Just to give an example of how things can be seen differently, there was a famous incident in the 1998 World Cup game between Brazil and Norway where referee Esse Baharmast gave a penalty for a foul committed on Norway forward Torre Andre Flo. Virtually no-one in the stadium and none of the TV commentators could see a foul. TV replays showed nothing and the referee was roundly criticised in the world's media for a couple of days. Then a newspaper published a photo taken from a previously-unseen angle that clearly showed a massive pull on Flo's shirt had prevented him reaching the ball.

There's an article below that chronicles the incident. As it mentions, the referee here basically saw something no-one else could - but was completely correct.

I'm not saying that's what happened in your case but it's something worth taking into account - maybe the referee had a different (and possibly better) angle on what happened than you thought at the time.

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