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Question Number: 27958

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/31/2013

RE: Competitive Under 11

Anne of Roy, It USA asks...

If the ball is popped up high in the air and making its decent (almost vertically) and the keeper is looking up to catch it, can an opposing player allowed to ram into the goalie in an attempt to score? Or should there have been a penalty. (The call that was made was offsides and the keeper did successfully stop the ball... But both players landed flat on the ground). It's been a while since I was a keeper and I know rules have changed. I just know that players were never allowed to slide tackle or ram a keeper (even in pursuit of the ball). This is basically a safety question for me and I'd like to know if I should be concerned. Thank you.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Anne
Charging the goalkeeper or any other player for that matter is not allowed and has been that way for a very very long time. Neither is jumping at an opponent. So an opposing player is not allowed to ram into a goalkeeper and vice versa. A legal charge of an opponent involves shoulder to shoulder contact only and the ball must be within playing distance of both. So the Laws afford a significant amount of safety to all players including the goalkeeper
Now I suspect what could have happened here is that the forward and the goalkeeper were watching the high ball and advancing towards the drop point. Perhaps with eyes for the ball only both ran into each other at the drop point. Who is at fault in that scenario? Neither is the answer
Now if one of the players looked away from the ball to eye the opponent or is late to the ball then that changes the decision. Those are the tell tale signs that the player knows what is happening and has in fact then chosen to be careless if not reckless in the challenge. Also if the goalkeeper gets both hands to the ball first and is then contacted by the player that is a foul for charging.
As regards slide tackling the same would apply. I have seen situation where goalkeepers and forwards simply come together which is not a foul. What is not allowed is a challenge that poses a risk to an opponent with a raised foot or that the player is late to the ball in the challenge.
Goalkeepers also have a responsibility here to opponents and to themselves. Diving late at the feet of an opponent who is sliding, stretching for the ball will probably always end up in contact.
I had a situation recently where a goalkeeper spilled the ball out from a shot and then an in rushing player stretched out to play the ball which he did to score. The GK to make up for his error dived at the foot of the forward making contact with him. The forward was not injured but the GK banged his knee. The player that committed the foul here was the GK not the forward.
Just a final point. Had the CR and AR been alert enough perhaps the offside call should have been made to prevent the collision. Now that can be a big ask and depends on the circumstances. The Law allows for that.
Perhaps though it was not offside but the AR signalling for a foul on the GK. Its likely.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

No player is allowed to 'ram' into any opponent. At the age group you are discussing, if you get seasoned, adult referees, they are going to be proactive in protecting all the players and especially the keeper who is often most vulnerable. Unfortunately younger age groups usually get younger less experienced referees who are not adept at anticipating and acting quickly. If the charging attacker was offside, the AR should have popped his/her flag before a collision occurred as I suspect both players were more interested in watching the ball than each other and collided with neither at fault so no foul was called. But the referee's primary responsibility is always player safety and even if neither player committed a foul, two 10 or 11 year olds not watching for each other in the heat of the game can be a recipe for disaster. Be thankful neither was hurt

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