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Question Number: 34576

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/26/2022

RE: Adult

Eli of tel aviv, Israel asks...


A goalkeeper seems to waste time in his area.
The other goalkeeper in the other area is crazy of that, and spitting towards the other keeper. There is a distance of the whole field between them so there is no chance the spit will get even close to the other keeper.
Should the keeper who spitted be sent off for the spit, even though there is no chance his spit could get to the person he spitted towards?

Thanks you

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Eli
Thanks for the question.
As the goalkeeper is on his own in his own penalty area for him to be sent off for spitting he has to do that to an opponent. As that has not happened or it can be denied then he cannot be sent off for a spitting offence. Spitting is a very difficult offence to observe and most certainly from a distance. I once had a goalkeeper accuse a player in kicks from the penalty mark that a scorer had spat at him after scoring. I was close as was the lead assistant referee and neither of us saw it! Was it actual spitting or was it shouting with saliva present?

Now if a referee was aware of obtuse behaviour he could consider a card for unsporting behaviour or for that matter if the behaviour was extremely offensive, insulting and abusive a referee could cite that offence as a reason to send the player off.

I think in a game situation with play at the other end I doubt any referee is going to act on something like this unless it is something that cannot be ignored such as shouting obscenities and / or making offensive, insulting and abusive gestures. As referees we have had to deal with player melt downs from time to time and unless the conduct merits sanction in its own right most referees would make a mental note of it and be on high alert as far as that player is concerned from that moment onwards.

If I was the referee I would more than likely make a note of it and then at the earliest opportunity, that is the next stoppage, I might speak with the goalkeeper. He would be on thin ice and if he spoke out of turn in that interaction he would get the appropriate card, I believe that would be the *best* way to deal with it.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Eli,
Offensive, insulting and abusive behaviour does merit its own credibility for a red card & a send off reducing the team to 10 never mind a caution for USB. AS long as there is no running out into the FOP screaming foul epitaphs to where the referee and ARs are unable to not un-see or be able to unhear this behaviour.
A coach/captain would be wise just to tell their keeper to keep quiet! because if a referee is going to do it chances are nothing good will come from idiotic unsporting behaviour.
If it is not publicly displayed and loud and creates a need to intervene given this dude is way at the oher end of the FOP you might ignore it or if you become aware, a conversation and warning not to be such a drama diva at the earliest opportunity! The keeper best watch his Ps and Qs because a caution is likely looming. As to the referee allowing a keeper additional time best do it equally at each end.


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Eli,
This is another one of those where it's very difficult if not impossible to say without being there but for me if a goalkeeper at one end of the field is spitting (even if the spit is aimed downfield) it would be for me at least, a bit tricky to say for certain, that the spitting was directed at the opposing goalkeeper.

In this scenario there are probably about 20 other players in between the two goalkeepers so absent some other indication I would just have to wonder how a referee would decide who the spitting was actually aimed at. Unless of course it was accompanied by some kind of a verbal outburst as well - but there's no indication of that in the description.

So for me in this scenario I think the most a referee can do is warn the goalkeeper as to his future behavior. If there is a repetition or something where it's more obvious what is happening, then further action might be necessary.

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