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Question Number: 34710

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/26/2022

RE: Youth-Adult rec and comp.

G. Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

This clip, of a keeper standing in his PA but reaching out of the box to catch a dangerous ball, generated a LOT of discussion on Facebook.

An attacker was charging forward for the ball and defenders were not in pursuit. The keeper could have headed or chested the ball... or waited a split second for it to be in the PA.

VAR caught him for the infringement and the ref red carded the keeper, presumably for DOGSO.

Much of the incorrect chatter was about the keeper's foot position. As we should all know, the position of the ball (in the air or on the ground) is paramount.

I agreed with 'knowledgeable' crowd who favoured DOGSO... but after looking at it again and again, I'm not sure.

At the very least, it's yellow for unsporting behaviour or stopping a promising attack. BUT: if the keeper didn't use his hands, the ball was going to hit his body squarely and I doubt the attacker would have had a DOGSO straight path to the goal.

Another comment was interesting: if even a portion of the ball had entered the PA... would the keeper have been entitled to handle the part outside the line? I'm thinking yes, though VAR might blow a fuse over it! :)

Your thoughts are always appreciated!

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright


Thank you for the question.

So, your concern is that 'the keeper could have used his hands 6 inches further back, or have headed it'. You could apply the same concern on almost any foul - 'the defender did trip him, but he could have timed the tackle a little better and gotten the ball first' etc.

Yes, the keeper could have played it legally - but, he chose not to.

So, we can't get into the 'what ifs' in deciding on DOGSO. 'if he didn't foul it there he could have played it legally in several other ways' isn't the consideration because he chose not to, so we make our decision on the information in front of us, not based on what it would look like if the defender had made a better decision.

Now, sure, if the attacker is still quite a long distance away the opportunity isn't so obvious, but here we have an attacker about to play the ball. Perhaps had the GK otherwise tried to play it legally, the attacker would have been able to challenge. GK made the choice to commit the foul - and so we essentially remove the GK out of the equation in determining OGSO now.

Red is correct.

As for your follow-up question - yes, if, hypothetically speaking, the keeper is entirely outside the PA, the ball is 10% on the PA line and the GK handles the portion of the ball that's outside, this is legal. We consider the position of the entire ball rather than try to work out where on the ball it was handled (otherwise this would go the other way too!).

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Barry,
it's pretty straight forward the red card is for DOGSO ! You are spot on, the ball position is the ONLY consideration not the keeper's foot position. The keeper is NO different than a player outside his penalty area and as my esteemed colleague correctly explained there was ample opportunity to head or chest the ball.

You are again correct.
One way to explain this is consider the 5-inch penalty area boundry lines as an invisible wall of water straight up into the sky and if the ball is even a tiny bit wet that ball is inside the PA, and the keeper, who could be fully outside the PA, lays their hands on any part of the ball even if it was a dry portion that is still a legal touch as long as that ball remains a tiny bit wet.

VAR with the technology and freeze frame can pinpoint these incidents to within a fraction of an inch.
In grassroots such details are often difficult to determine, usually due to positional issues and the speed of play . I support making no calls unless 100% POSITIVE there is a reason.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
Good to hear from you
The easy part with the benefit of camera angle and VAR it is deliberate handling. The goalkeeper has clearly touched the ball with his hands outside the penalty area. It makes no difference where the goalkeeper is stood just where the hand/s and ball are located. The ball is not touching the penalty area line so it is not inside the penalty area. If ANY part of the ball is touching the line it is deemed to be in the area.

As to the decision here it is a red card for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity. The four Ds which are used used to assess a DOGSO situation are present in that the Distance from goal is close, the Direction of play is towards goal, there are no other Defenders present and the Distance to the ball is also close with a likelihood of gaining control of the ball. The last one is probably the only debateable one yet in such situations referees tend to decide in favour of the attacker when a goalkeeper chooses not to play the ball legally which does not allow an attacker a chance to play the ball. Given that the other 3 conditions are definitely present with a debate about the 4th D I believe that soccer expects a red card. At worst it is 87.5% there is a DOGSO so for many that is good enough. Having said that I have seen referees give the DOGSO even when the attacker is not close.

Now at grassroots this will be a tough one. The location of the ball and hands at speed will be difficult which is why it went to VAR here. Without certainty I would say that most referees or ARs will not call it.
I recall in a Women's game a few seasons ago I had occasion to send off a defender for handling the ball on the line. Some 10/15 minutes later the opposing goalkeeper misjudged her position and caught the ball well outside the penalty area. As it was a long kick forward with no attacker close by I went with a caution which did not sit well with the team who had just lost a player for handling on the line. Anyway they scored from the direct free kick which somewhat lessened the dissent for no red card. As far as I was concerned the DOGSO failed on Distance to the ball.

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