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Question Number: 27964

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/2/2013

RE: rec Under 15

Chris of Vancouver, Canada asks...

As a goalkeeper was attempting to punt the ball an opposing player leapt and turned his back in an attempt to block the punt. There was no contact with the keeper. The ref let play continue. Later in the match a different player attempted to block the keeper's punt (again with no contact) the only difference being there was no leap or turning of his back to the keeper as this time the player extended his leg. The ref called the infraction. I asked the coach and he said the first instance is legal, the second is not. I find that hard to believe. Can you clarify.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Chris
This is a matter of interpretation yet I believe that the coach was incorrect. The first instance is not legal if the referee views it as an attempt to prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands. Most will consider that to be the case compared to a poor punt that is intercepted some distance away. Clearly the 2nd attempt was viewed as preventing proper full release. The restart is an IDFK from where the offence took place.
Now on the 1st one the referee may have decided that the attempt was not successful or trifling and simply allowed play to continue as it had no effect on play. That does not mean that it is legal and the fact that it was not called probably 'encouraged' another player / team to try it again.
Just because a player turns his back that can be an attempt to camouflage his real intent which is to block the ball. Now having said that the goalkeeper should also be aware of this and not attempt the punt with the opponent directly in line with the kick.
Now this all shows how important the referee's knowledge of the game and the Laws are.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Neither of these tactics are legal. While the wording of the Law makes little sense, as the ball has obviously been released from the keeper's hands seeing as how it has been kicked, they both have prevented the keeper from releasing the ball. In soccer, as opposed to American pointy ball, the punt has not been properly completed until the ball is well on it's way. That's why you don't see player diving to block a soccer punt. In American Football, any attempt to block a punt is legal as long as no contact is made with the punter (If the ball is touched, contact is allowed), not so in soccer

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