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Question Number: 29497

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 6/22/2015

RE: Pro Adult

Alex of LaSalle, Illinois United States asks...

I have a question about the Women's world cup game between the U.S and Colombia. At the beginning of the 2nd half, there was a penalty against Colombia in which the goalie was expelled. I watched the play, and i can see that the goalie is going for the ball and not the attacker,so why would it be an automatic red card?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Alex,
there is a portion in the LOTG LAW 12 Fouls and Misconduct in amongst the 7 send off offences that state a player is sent off if he denies an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player's goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick.
In the advice portion of the LOTG there are specific criteria which a referee , must consider when deciding whether to send off a player for denying a goal or an obvious goal scoring opportunity
the distance between the offence and the goal
the likelihood of keeping or gaining control of the ball
the direction of the play
the location and number of defenders
the offence which denies an opponent an obvious goal scoring opportunity
may be an offence that incurs a direct free kick or an indirect free kick

In this instance the referee felt the criteria was met and proceeded accordingly. I was rooting hard for the Columbians and this keeper was doing a great job so it was unpleasant to see her go but I cannot fault the referee's decision.

I looked hard to see if the foul was outside the PA but it appeared to occur on the PA boundary line and as the lines are part of the area, a PK was the correct restart to apply. I looked hard again to see if it could be a caution and only a yellow card for a tactical foul and in truth I though there might be justification.

The send off just seemed too harsh, given the reality of the challenge. I thought perhaps the ball just ticked off the keeper's foot, I wondered if it was not a guarantee to score given the ball was pushed left and a nearby defender was cutting in, plus the attempt by the keeper to stretch out was in keeping with a legitimate attempt to stop the shot not intending to wipe the player out. At no time did the keeper extend the arms or legs upward to trip the attacker, she was horizontal along the ground. Unfortunately intent is not a factor in judging a foul it is the action itself, as we are not mind readers now are we? lol

It looked to me the player made sure to follow straight into the keeper to draw the foul, did not attempt to jump over and did not pursue the ball that was hit to the left of the goal. Yet for all that, because I am not neutral, I can admit bias. lol

I believe the referee showed courage to apply the LOTG even though I suspect she would rather it could go differently. Perhaps there should be a change to this portion of the LAW given a keeper doing their best to make a save? It is always a HUGE impact on the match when they are sent off reducing the team by a player. I wondered if they could offer another alternative ,just not sure what or how it might evolve.

I noticed the comments of the classy Columbian coach, who did not criticize the decision, he simply said his team showed what it was made of and noted things might have gone different if the keeper had not been sent off but was rewarded by their vast improvement from 4 years ago.
I choose to pretend this result did not matter as I believe no one is getting by the German team on that side of the pool. lol

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Alex,

Ref Dawson has described why the goalkeeper was sent off. The only thing I'll add is that intent or the severity of the foul has nothing to do with whether the player is to be sent off. If the attacker has an Obvious Goalscoring Opportunity, and a foul is committed (even just an innocently mistimed one), it still must be a red card.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Alex
As my colleagues have pointed out the goalkeeper was dismissed for the sending off offence of denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player's goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick.
In evaluating if the goal scoring opportunity is present the referee takes into account what is called the four Ds
# DISTANCE to the ball - the likelihood of keeping or gaining control of the ball
# DISTANCE from goal -the distance between the offence and the goal
# DIRECTION - the direction of the play
# Number of DEFENDERS - the location and number of defenders.
All four conditions must be present and in this case the referee opined that they were.
As the player was in control of the ball the distance to the ball was met. The foul happened inside the penalty area so the distance to goal criteria was also met. The player was headed towards goal so direction was present and as it was a one on one with the goalkeeper there was only one defender present to perhaps stop the goal scoring opportunity so that condition was met also.
In these situations the conditions calculation help to evaluate the what happens next without the foul. If the foul did not happen would the USA team have had a clear opportunity to score and the answer to that is YES.
Now in these situations the absence of one of the condition will change the decision. For instance had the player kicked the ball heavily past the goalkeeper with little hope of retrieving the ball then distance to the ball condition would not be met. If the player was running away from goal towards the corner flag direction would not be met or if there were a number of defenders behind the goalkeeper or the foul happened well away from the goal the obvious goal scoring opportunity would not be present and the sanction might be a caution only.
This particular sending off offence was introduced to prevent or limit the times when opponents would simply foul an opponent with intent to deny a goal or opportunity to score.
Here is an extreme example
The Red Player cynically fouls the opponent to prevent a goal against his team late in the game and was content to be dismissed with a free kick awarded which was easily defended. With squad rotation missing the next game is no big deal in the Pro game.

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

Wow! What a game changer. There are few events that can happen that can punish a team worse that the send off of a keeper. Now, they play short, have to play without their starting keeper, have to use a sub to put a new keeper in, a field player then has to go off, and a penalty kick. This totally changes the whole complexion of the game. Was it the correct call? In my opinion, it appeared to be correct...but I do agree with my colleagues as well. The nature of the foul does not matter here. If the referee believes a foul happened, then the red card must be issued if it denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity. In this case, it seems as if it was the correct call given the situation. I believe that the USA attacker (Morgan I believe) was going for the foul as she realized she did not have the angle to score. She tapped the ball to the left and then ran into the keeper to draw the foul. She did not make any effort to jump over the keeper. I do not like this kind of play! It all happens so quick that the referee very likely to call the foul and send off here.

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