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Question Number: 22800

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 2/6/2010

RE: Under 11

pat skeggs of wantagh, ny nassau asks...

In today's game the other team had a corner kick,the other team boxed the goal keeper in.One girl in front of her one behind her.When the ball was kicked she could not move.There was little contact made.Can you do this, or must the goal keeper have room?It was not a dirty play, both teams played well.But is it ok to do this?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Pat
There is nothing wrong with placing players beside or in front of a goalkeeper at a corner kick. However those players may not impede the movement of the goalkeeper. So if the goalkeeper is prevented from moving that is an infringement. If there is impeding without contact it is an indirect free kick to the defence. If there is contact then it is a direct free kick.
Goalkeepers have to be coached how to deal with this as indeed the opponents are coached in this tactic.

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Answer provided by Referee Tom Stagliano

Under 11 soccer and two opposing players are 'sandwiching' the goal keeper on a corner kick, however, without contact.

As a referee, the key criteria is that the players, All the Players, are expected to be trying to play the ball, and Not 'play each other'.

Therefore, it is immaterial where the two opposing attackers line-up prior to the corner kick. What is important is what they do once the ball is kicked and is back in play. If the attackers go to where the ball will be and do so in a fair manner, then fine. However, if either or both are trying to impede the goal keeper, then I immediately blow my whistle and award the goal keeper's team an IFK for the impeding. Once I do that, the attackers are less likely to repeat that infraction.

Those types of tactics are coached, pure and simple. It is a shame that coaches for U11 games are instructing players to interfere with opponents instead of instructing them in the game of skillful soccer.

As the players get older, then these tactics will challenge the referee's game control. For older players, a defender will come over to line-up with the attacker who is positioned directly in front of the goalkeeper. Almost immediately there will be jostling for position prior to the corner kick being taken. In those situations, I will whistle to Hold the Kick, and get in there and talk to the players. Game and player management are 80 percent or more of a referee's job, so I enjoy these situations, otherwise I wouldn't have a job.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Is it okay to position themselves in such a manner? It depends.

The wise referee is aware of this offensive tactic and is watching carefully to see if the keeper is being impeded or pushed/held by opponents, or if the opponents are actually making a play for the ball.

If the opponents are judged by the referee to be interfering with the keeper, the restart will depend on the type of interference. Direct for pushing/holding and indirect for impeding (getting in the keeper's way but not making a play for the ball).

Many of the referees for U11, U12-14 or younger do not have much experience with the game, or much mentoring available to them which would teach them to watch out for this tactic. It is an offense which is not caught often enough, to the detriment of the game.

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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy

Pat, at age 11 this is a bit unusual. The tactic is legal as long as the goalkeeper is not impeded in her movement. The point is that nobody has title to that piece of real estate that is in the vicinity of the goal keeper. Since you said there was no contact, I assume she had space to move in. If there was one girl in front and one behind she could have moved sideways.

What is illegal is to move in the way of the goalkeeper when not within playing distance of the ball.

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