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Question Number: 26942

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/26/2012

RE: Adult

Fraser Agnew of Dumfries, Scotland asks...

Just wondering after tonight's incident on the Liverpool match in the Europa League... At what point, if any, is the player allowed to gain possession of the ball from an opposition goalkeeper. In this incident, the player in question, Daniel Agger, knocked the ball when the goalkeeper had the ball in one hand. He then turned round and scored. However, the referee disallowed the goal, and booked the player. IS this unsporting behaviour? Or was the player within his rights to kicked the ball as the goalkeeper only had the ball in one hand.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Fraser
Absolute correct decision by the referee. Once the goalkeeper has the ball in his possession he may not be challenged by an opponent. Nor may he be challenged in releasing the ball. This is what the Laws of the Game says
'"' A goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball:
# while the ball is between his hands or between his hand and any surface (e.g. ground, own body)
# while holding the ball in his outstretched open hand
# while in the act of bouncing it on the ground or tossing it into the air
'When a goalkeeper has gained possession of the ball with his hands, he cannot be challenged by an opponent.""
Also the referee can deem the challenge to be unsporting behaviour and caution the player for it. At UEFA / FIFA level the referee would be expected to caution for this offence whereas at a park game the referee might have a strong word only. At park level if the action was to prevent release of the ball by the goalkeeper to start a promising attack then that would be a tactical foul and that would be a caution. It can also be dangerous if the goalkeeper is in the act of punting the ball and that can draw the caution as well

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Good call by the referee. Theoretically the keeper is in control of the ball when pinning it to the ground with one finger.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

The International Board decided several years ago that the ball on the outstretched keeper's hand is still in his possession and thus is not available to be played by anyone else until either the keeper puts it into play or the keeper uses up his 6 seconds. Up until one of those events occur, no one else can play the ball. The referee here applied the Law as intended.

There was a time several years ago, for about 6 months, when it was deemed 'okay' for an attacker to head or play the ball off the keeper's hand or just as the keeper had punted it into play. Fortunately, this was quickly remedied. The danger to the keeper, the insult to the spirit of the beautiful game and the conflict with the well established tradition and codification in the Laws that the ball was not available to be played by anyone else while in the possession of the keeper made this decision an easy one. One wonders why it was ever in question.

The question here is what is considered 'possession by the goalkeeper'. Since it is clearly established that bouncing the ball or throwing it up into the air is considered possession conveying the privilege of uncontested possession for 6 seconds, and the ball on the hand is thus perfectly logical and correct. The keeper is also considered to be in possession of the ball if it is pinned with as little as a finger to any hard surface, like the ground or the goal post. Additionally, should the keeper have it pinned to her/his body with as little as a finger, that is also possession.

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