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Question Number: 21246

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/30/2009

RE: select Under 19

mike martin of concord, nc usa asks...

on a corner kick,with the goalie on the goal line, an attacking player lines up in front of the goalie on the goal line. how should the goalie respond and at what point could the attacking players movements and position constitute interference?

Answer provided by Referee Gil Weber

Every player is entitled to occupy any empty space he/she chooses -- subject, of course, to certain restrictions such as opposing players must be outside the penalty area on a defending team's goal kick or free kick, and remain outside the area until the ball exits. So the attacker may occupy any empty space including that directly in front of the goalkeeper.

Once the ball is in play the attacking player standing still is not required to move to play the ball or get out of the way of the goalkeeper. He may remain motionless if he/she chooses to do so.

What the attacking player cannot do is move in a manner designed to impede (block) the goalkeeper from having a fair chance to play the ball. This means the attacker cannot back into the goalkeeper and cannot move into the path of the goalkeeper without any attempt to play the ball.

So the referee must judge the attacker's actions in light of what is observed. If the attacker moves to play the ball and, while moving, happens to go to the same space that the goalkeeper seeks to occupy (e.g, while trying to catch the ball) and there is contact, that is not a foul. On the other hand, if the attacker moves into the space the goalkeeper seeks to occupy and while moving it is clear to the referee that the attacker is only going there in an attempt to create a barrier, then that is a foul (impeding and an IFK at a minimum; holding/pushing and a DFK if there is contact).

Note also that the attacker cannot wave his/her hands or make gestures designed to distract the goalkeeper or prevent the goalkeeper from having a fair chance to play the ball. Doing so would result in an IFK against the attacker.

Now, how should the goalkeeper respond? Well the first thing the goalkeeper should NOT do is push the opponent out of the way either before or after the ball is in play. If before then the referee should blow the whistle, hold the restart, and at a minimum talk to both players. If the push is a hard shove then, perhaps, a caution to the goalkeeper might be in order. Of course the referee must be observant and detect if the attacker has provoked the goalkeeper's actions, perhaps by backing into or elbowing the goalkeeper, or stepping on his toes prior to the corner kick. In such cases a sanction against the attacker might be appropriate.

If the goalkeeper shoves the opponent out of the way after the ball is in play (e.g., knockiing the opponent out of the way to clear a path to the ball) then the referee must decide which came first. Did the opponent impede or in some other way play unfairly, thereby provoking a frustrated push from the goalkeeper? If yes, then the referee must deal with the attacker and, likely , punish that with a free kick in favor of the goalkeeper's team. A word to the players might be sufficient and, then again, a caution to one or both might be necessary depending upon the circumstances.

Conversely, if the goalkeeper shoves (especially forcefully) the opponent after the ball is in play but the referee sees no unlawful action by the attacker then the goalkeeper has committed a penal foul punishable by a penalty kick. A caution (or send off) might be appropriate depending upon the circumstances. A minor push by the goalkeeper might merit no notice, especially at higher skill levels.

Best advice: The moment the players line up for the corner kick fix your eyes on the area immediately around the goalkeeper and proactively watch for potential problems before the ball is in play. If necessary hold the restart and talk to the players. Or walk to a position where they can see you and make a gesture with your hands pointing to your eyes, and let them know you are watching them. Unless terminally stupid they'll get the message.

Hope this helps.



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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

As a referee, I tried never to allow either keeper to be so hassled. Dealing with it early kept the keeper's mates from exacting justice if I didn't, and made corner kicks less of a tussle.

As for what the keepers can do, Ref Weber has some excellent suggestions and insights. Unfortunately, success hinges a great deal on a referee who is paying attention. One additional thing a keeper can do is to call the referee's attention to what is going on. I've had keepers appeal to me (either with 'Hey, ref!' or with the spread hands looking at the offending attacker then at me) and have used Ref Weber's suggestion for referees where I point to my eyes and then at the attacker. This has the dual benefit of letting the keeper know I won't let her get away with murder either!

If it is a problem and the referee doesn't seem to see it (sometimes they don't, sometimes they don't know what to do, and sometimes they are inclined not to intervene unless an unfair goal results, and sometimes I have no idea what they are doing) ask politely at half-time if possible, or have the team captain address the referee on the field and ask her to be aware. Remember neither the coach nor the captain have any rights here - you can only ask, not demand, insist or otherwise be a pain.



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