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Question Number: 27849

Law 1- The Field 10/4/2013

RE: Recreational & Competitive Other

Daniel Sawyers of Carrollton, TX USA asks...

Law 1 states that 'The goal lines must be the same width as the goalposts and the crossbar.' But what if the goal line is wider than the goal posts? The laws state that they must be equal but in reality that is not always the case.

I have always thought that the post should be positioned so that the post touches the edge of the goal line that is closest to the field of play to best compensate. The other day I had a referee make an argument to the contrary citing the effects of a ball deflection. I think I am right for the same reason.

Regardless of which way I wanted to see what is the best practice here and if FIFA or USSF gives us any direction in this scenario.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Daniel
The edge of the goal line closest to off the field of play (the net side) should not be beyond the edge of the inside of the goalposts (again the net side).
If it is not then it is possible for all the ball to be past the plane of the goal posts (a goal) but not the plane of the goal line (no goal). That is not tenable.
In reality at the lower levels of the game, lines can be poorly marked or incorrectly marked. The referee has to use his judgement as to the best way to manage the situation he finds.
The advice FIFA gives is outlined on page 10 and 11 of the current Laws. If it does not conform then the referee has to decide to either accept it as he finds it, get it changed to conform or if he can't then not to play the game.
IMO unless it is so blatantly wrong I will accept it and get on with the game.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

In a situation where the goalpost is narrower than the goal line, if the goalpost is on the front edge of the line (ie the goal line extends beyond the goalpost towards the 'off-field' side), then it could lead to the awkward situation where the ball has crossed the goalposts, but not the goal line (of course, this can happen anyway with goalposts that are on a slight lean).

There's also the possibility (albeit extremely unlikely) that the ball could sit behind the goalpost, but still be on the field of play as it's still above the line.

If the goalpost is along the back edge, then neither of those situations can occur - but I accept it could give a slightly different deflection then if the goalpost was along the front edge. That deflection could benefit either team.

Realistically, it's unlikely that the referee is going to have a say in this situation, and it's also unlikely that play will be impacted.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

As referee, you collect your fee, declare the field unplayable because of missized lines, and go home. But don't expect the assignor to come up with too many more games for you.

Now for the real answer. It wouldn't happen at a professional game. In recreational play, we make do. You do the best you can to have the back of the goalpost aligned with the back of the goal line, so you can clearly see when a ball has been scored. But even if that adjustment cannot be made, you go on with the game.

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