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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 35575

Law 5 - The Referee 6/14/2024

RE: Competitive C1 Under 15

Jude Cowan of Killaloe , Ontario Canada asks...

Can a goalie delay from picking up a ball until forced by an opposing player? Our keeper didn’t pick the ball up until a player came and challenged him, but the ref said it was unsportsmanlike and next time he will receive a yellow card.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jude
Thanks for the question.

The referee was totally incorrect in Law there. While it might not be within the sporting spirit of the game in its purest sense it is nonetheless not against the Laws and it is up to the opponents to close the goalkeeper down to force the pick up. It happens regularly in games all over the world with it being accepted by teams that the attacker closest to the goalkeeper should force the pick up by the goalkeeper. Thats all it is. Its somewhat like a player in possession going to a corner flag with the ball to use up time legally rather than trying to score which is the basis of the game. That is not a caution either and while it might not be within the spirit of the game it is not against the Laws. I doubt there is a team in the world that has not used legitimate methods of running the clock down and using up playing time when the ball is in play.

The situation you describe is certainly not a caution under the Laws and this referee while he might not have liked the action his threat of a caution on the goalkeeper was not supported in Law. Whether the referee would have cautioned on a repeat one would not be sure. A referee would not suggest a caution to an adult goalkeeper in the same situation.

What a referee could do is not to be lenient on the six second rule and punish any delay after the six seconds has expired with an indirect free kick. Even that would be petty yet it is part of the Laws. In those situations it is not a caution either just an IDFK.

I once had a situation in a game where with a few minutes to go a goalkeeper parried a weak through ball down to his feet with his hands. He then slowly dribbled off back towards the goal line into the corner of the penalty area and waited for an attacker to close him down and force the pick up. One opponent who was tuned in shouted he can’t pick it up after the parry release which was correct and I called the IDFK. No card just an IDFK and an explanation of the hand parry release.
Without the hand parry by the goalkeeper it would have been nothing just play on with the goalkeeper probably punting the ball as far downfield as he could.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Jude,
Short answer YES!
In your case the referee, is simply incorrect and over stepping their authority. Nothing in the LOTG require the keeper to play or touch the ball -IF- the ball is in active play. The keeper can stare at the ball all game long until an opponent forces him to commit! The keeper is using up playing time legally and the opposition are poorly coached! ONLY if the keeper was verbally taunting or using disreputable body language, that could certainly be consideration for USB!

If it is a restart, like a goal kick the referee could intervene for the USB.

I watched an AR flag for offside as an PIOP attacker pursued the ball which rolled right up and about a foot away from the keeper to the left of goal inside the 6 yd. goal area. The PIOP saw/heard the flag pop and halted his pursuit just as the referee waved off the flag, given the keeper was in a good position to recover and simply pick the ball up and punt it out. The keeper was a smart player, his team up a goal, time was ticking down about 5 minutes or so left, just stood there NOT touching the ball at all and because the keeper had NEVER actually touched the ball offside criteria was STILL in play . The PIOP who had originally backed off to turn away finally circled back & charged into the area although the keeper did reach down and grab it ahead of the whistle for offside as a punt out was certainly better than an INDFK from inside the goal area. Once the keeper grabbed the ball the PIOP restriction was lifted he again circled back out thinking the keeper would NOW punt the ball. Except the keeper during his 6 seconds of uncontestable control went to the edge of the 18 PA and tossed the ball on to the ground proceeding to dribble it until once again the attacker circled back to FORCE a play! He made a pass out to his teammate who dropped in a long corner ball to which a teammate dribbled into the corner to use up even more time! USING up time is NOT the same as wasting time . We can add for wasted time! Using up time tactically is usually a reflection of how well the opposition defends!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jude,
Yes, your goalkeeper can do this and no, the referee should not be issuing (or threatening to issue) a caution for this kind of behaviour.

As my colleagues have pointed out, it's perfectly legal to run the clock down while the ball is in play. There are various ways a team can do this - playing the ball around at the back, hitting the ball long into the corner and holding it there etc, and they are all legal,

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