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Question Number: 28104

Law 1- The Field 1/10/2014

RE: Competitive Under 16

Tony P of Daytona Beach, FL USA asks...

I understand that the whole of the ball needs to be across the line for it to be in/out.
But Can a goalkeeper pick up the ball while it is 'on' the line at the edge of the penalty area?
It seems to have caused quite the discussion amongst our group.
1: (Defending Team) it has not crossed out of the penalty box fully so therefore the goalkeeper can still pick it up.
2: (Attacking Team) It is not fully in the box therefore the Goalkeeper can not pick it up .
Thank you

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tony
Once any part of the ball is touching any part of the penalty area line it can be legally touched by hand by the goalkeeper provided of course it has not been deliberately kicked to him by a team mate.
The basis behind that position is that Law 1 in the Laws of the Game state that ''These lines belong to the areas of which they are boundaries.'' So the penalty area line is part of the penalty area.
We also know that from Law 9 that the ball must wholly cross a line to be out of play.
When put together we must conclude that a ball on the line is 'in' the penalty area and may be handled by the goalkeeper.
So it makes no difference whether it is inbound or outbound except that the referee may focus more on the inbound play for obvious reasons.
Now in reality we know that it is always difficult to decide on extremely tight calls the exact position of the ball. When in doubt the referee is advised not make a call and play should be allowed to continue.
I recall many seasons ago in the UK Premier League an overzealous AR flagged for deliberate handling on a punt that he deemed that the goalkeeper had carried the ball over the penalty area line in his hand. It was shown clearly from freeze frame that the GK had in fact released the ball from his hands well inside the penalty area and that he kicked it some yard and a half outside. Perfectly legal resulting in a red faced AR. IMO he could not have been 100% sure, made a guess and got it wrong. Had he ignored it would I be recounting it here some 5/6 years later?

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

The Laws say that all lines are part of the area they bound. That means on the line is in:
-- on the touchline or goalline is in the field
-- on the corner arc is in the arc
-- on the penalty area line is in the penalty area

So if even the slightest smidgen of the ball is eclipsing the penalty area line, the goalkeeper can handle it. Most of the keeper's body can be outside the PA and she can still handle it.

And it doesn't matter if it's the attackers kicking the ball into the area or the keeper punting the ball out. On the line is in.

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