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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34586

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 5/8/2022

RE: Pro Adult

Daniel of Toronto, ON Canada asks...

In the recent Toronto v Vancouver game, the shot was taken and the Vancouver GK saved the shot. He then lost the ball and it bounced in front of him allowing Jayden Nelson to shoot the ball directly into the GK hands and into the goal. It was instantly called no goal. But the VAR reviewed it. When is it deemed that the GK is in control of the ball ...and should the goal have counted.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Daniel,

As you might already know, if a defender (which includes the keeper) plays the ball - this can include, say, sticking a leg out to stop a through ball and it deflecting past - then this cancels any offside. However, this does not count if the action to play the ball is a save for a ball going at or near goal.

So basically that means if the keeper stuck an arm up to stop the shot and it bounced to the player in an offside position, it's still offside - whereas if a defender did it 30 yards up the field, it's no offside. If the keeper, for instance, has caught the ball then fumbled it - then we're no longer considering offside.

But was this the goal that was disallowed? It wasn't offside - it was for a foul on the keeper. It's difficult to tell why - the ball was there to be won, but players always need to act with due care to the opponent. It's the follow-through - a fairly sizeable swing right next to the keeper's head - that is a concern for me it's on the attacker to challenge safely and I'm not convinced he did that. The referee might have thought he made contact on the keeper, given the keeper was injured from this.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Daniel
Thanks for the question.
Looking at the video it is clear that there was no offside offence so we are left with a regular Law 12 offence to consider.

In the play the goalkeeper makes a save by pushing the ball out away from goal towards a Toronto player who shoots and it is again saved by the goalkeeper who spills it away a short distance from him. He then tries to recover the ball and he reaches out to get a hand on it yet just at that moment an onrushing Toronto player kicks the ball into the goal. There appears to be contact on the raised hand around the kick of the ball either the ball or a foot.

Okay lets analyse that under Law 12 and I quote
**A goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball with the hand(s) when:
# the ball is between the hands or between the hand and any surface (e.g. ground, own body) or by touching it with any part of the hands or arms, except if the ball rebounds from the goalkeeper or the goalkeeper has made a save
# holding the ball in the outstretched open hand
# bouncing it on the ground or throwing it in the air
A goalkeeper cannot be challenged by an opponent when in control of the ball with the hand(s).**

So from what I see the goalkeeper did not have control of the ball so the ball could be challenged for. It is unlikely it could be called for that offence.

Now that leads us on to whether the challenge for the ball by the attacker was careless or reckless.
Law 12 tells us and I again quote
** 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
Reckless is when a player acts with disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, an opponent and must be cautioned**
Those are subjective opinions and it is up to the referee on the day to consider whether the play on the ball was careless. The referee did not deem it reckless as no card was issued.

It is clear to me that the referee called the offence immediately in real time and only the referee can say what he called. If he called an illegal challenge on the goalkeeper while in control of the ball we can safely say that would be in error whereas if he called it for a careless challenge then that is a judgement call.
The goalkeeper union will say that they need protection and that it was careless while attackers will say that the ball was there to be played and that it was a genuine kick of the ball which was there to be played and there was some form of contact with the goalkeeper's hand after playing the ball.

Perhaps the MLS group of referees have had advice which has told them to protect goalkeepers from careless challenges on the ground? Looking at it in real time from the referee's angle of view it probably looked like the attacker's boot was carelessly close to the goalkeeper? As to VAR again the advice may be that unless it can be shown to be an error the on-field decision should not be changed.

For what its worth I can say that this could have gone either way and that a referee would not be right or wrong in either decision. There was no course of action that did not have a drawback which is always a difficult position for referees to be in. It is reported that the goalkeeper's hand was injured in the incident. Ultimately the referee made a decision on the day which will divide opinion as to whether it was the correct call or not.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Daniel,
Playing the position of keeper is a risky proposition in they are indeed diving into the feet of oncoming payers with hands outstretched to grab the ball. The LOTG does try to give a degree of protection to the keeper by virtue of the restrictions the opposition has of not being able to challenge WHEN the keeper has controlled handling possession.

Now for balls into the body of a keeper on the ground, I HOLD that the opposition cannot in good conscience just roar in and kick away even if the keeper has not yet controlled the ball as ANY challenge is likely to injure! I refer primarily to slide tackles trying to push a ball through or over the keeper.

A referee with integrity makes a decision and in real-time, we cannot remake a decision in freeze-frame video replay. As a coach I likely want that goal counted, the attacking team deserved it. I sympathize that the keeper did get hurt but here though we have a free ball rebounding away while the keeper is reaching out towards for it and the kick by the attacker likely blew the ball into the outstretched fingers either compacting them or bending them back rather than the foot itself kicked the hand. Whether there was follow-through kicking contact, it COULD be seen as a careless or even reckless action in the kicking the keeper's hand was something that could not be avoided? I suspect the referee wanted to reaffirm that there is no open season on injuring the keepers' hands via the foot. If you hurt one keeper & get a pass, chances are payback in some form is in the future!

Now VAR can recommend the referee review but it does not make a decision, THAT is the CR and in his opinion, it was foul with contact. Personally, I think it was a good goal with a few unfortunate fingers getting bent as they reached out. In MY opinion, I do not disregard safety as a mitigating factor but no obvious control was exhibited by the keeper and a good striker is always trying to put a ball into the back of the net.

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