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Question Number: 22709

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 1/8/2010

RE: Travel Under 11

D. Reed of E-town, Pa USA asks...

In a recent very competetive tournament we were 5 minutes into the game and our goalie bent over and scooped up the ball. A half a second after she scooped it a striker from the other team slide tackled into her. She went under the scooped ball striking the goalie in the ankles. Do to her balance and hand placement at the time the goalie hit the ground very hard popping the ball loose. She saw the ball immediately and tried to react to grab it but was slightly delayed by the entangled striker. As she finally reached with 1 hand to grab it the striker tried to get up pinning the goalies shoulder and preventing the 1 more ft of reach needed to recover the ball before it fully crossed the line. Do to the refs position he did not see that the original slide was late. He was screened. I dont think U-10 should be sliding on goalies but thats JMO. However at the point they become entangled I cant see how a goalie is not protected. Obviously it is a great benefit to an emposing striker to delay his getting up thus delaying the goalies ability to get back in the play. I searched and have not found this covered under rules of the game. A goal was rewarded for this. Lets forget the slide tackle. Should this have been blown dead when the 2 players became entangled. If so how would the ball have been reentered.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

As you describe it there are two fouls here. The first one is the late slide tackle on the goalkeeper. This is dangerous and should be punished with a direct free kick and either a strong word or a caution for the attacker certainly at much older age groups. If it endangers the safety of the goalkeeper which depends on the force use, the angle of the challenge, intensity etc it is a dismissal for serious foul play. In goalmouth situations referees should position themselves so that they are not screened and certainly not on important incidents that can lead to a goal. Yes it happens and refs try their best to limit those situations.
Sometimes there can be a coming together on a 50/50 but even that has to be done in such a way that the challenge is not dangerous to either player.
As regards the second incident this is simply a holding foul. The attacker either through his position or his change of position in getting up has held the goalkeeper down preventing him/her from moving without hinderance and getting to the ball. Indeed if the action was seen as deliberate to prevent the goalkeeper getting to the ball then that is also a caution at older age groups. The attacker must not use the goalkeeper to assist him getting up and to do so is holding.
You mention that goalkeepers should be protected when they become entangled. This does and should apply to any player. When two player fall to the ground their natural instinct is to get up again quickly. As long as they do that in a way that does not hold, push or impedes their opponent no law has been infringed. The referee has to interpret those actions and decide accordingly. In those situation both player must use the ground to get up not their opponent, with their movements away from each, not towards each other .
As an aside, one of the fundamentals of goalkeeping coaching is the ability of goalkeepers to get up quickly using body position and that involves falling correctly. There is quite a bit of advice that can be imparted to young players on this skill which has unique mechanics to it.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

When players get entangled, problems can develop. Fortunately, at U11 there is little likelihood that someone will try to kick or punch their way free as is common in U16.

Unless one player grabs and holds the other (or commits some other foul), however, referees should not stop play simply because two players are entangled on the ground. The game is intended to flow, and players need to learn to play through adversity.

With younger and less skilled players, however, the threshold for the foul of play in a dangerous manner can be the reason why referees stop play quickly in a situation in which a player on the ground is at risk of getting kicked while the opponent is trying to reach the ball.

As you note, the reason why the players are entangled was that the referee didn't see the initial foul. Missing the foul often leads to complications.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

These young games often have our youngest or least experienced referees. The incident you write about shows how positioning for referees is a critical skill to learn. Often just a few steps one direction or the other will give the referee an angle of view which allows her to see exactly what is going on.

There are no special rules for protecting goalkeepers, other than a keeper in possession of the ball cannot be challenged by an opponent. In this case, a more experienced referee would most likely have been in a position to see the late tackle, and blown the whistle then for a DFK for the keeper's team, and possibly a caution or red card for the attacker - that would depend on the speed, angle and force of the tackle.

Even if the initial late tackle was missed, the attacker pushing the keeper down as she tried to get up should have been called, and a DFK out for the defense. I suspect this was all inexperienced referees. Please contact the assignor and let them know what you saw, and ask them to visit with the referee for future reference.

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Answer provided by Referee Debbie Hoelscher

In addition to Refs Maloney, Wickem, and McHugh, this would have been a great opportunity for the AR to step in and help if the referee was not able to see this situation.

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