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Question Number: 29560

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/27/2015

RE: Competitive Professional

Rod of Bensville, Nsw Australia asks...

Ref gave penalty aganst goalkeeper who took ball at edge of box as striker was coming through, keeper was last man. Penalty was given against keeper for alledgedly elbowing, he was given a yellow card. Keeper had ball, was last man. Should it have been a penalty and if so should it have been a straight red card?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Rod,
if the keeper had legal ball possession and then elbowed the striker inside his PA that is indeed a penalty . A dfk offence becomes a PK inside the PA. There is no DOGSO since the opponent had no shot to take. The manner in how this elbow was thrown will be classified in the careless, reckless or excessive category as opined by the referee. He is lucky not to get a straight red for VC especially if the elbow was to the head or delivered with excessive force but that is the call for the on field referee in charge of the match. If he had elbowed the striker in say trying to ward him off in getting to the ball THEN there is a case for DOGSO and a red card and send off for THAT aspect not just the force of the blow!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Rod
As the attacker did not have control of the ball nor the potential to gain control of the ball there was no obvious goal scoring opportunity. One of the four pillars of the DOGSO criteria is missing so unless all four Ds as they are referred to are present the sanction can be at worst a caution for unsporting behaviour.
Now once the goalkeeper had the ball in his hands he was not immune from committing a penal foul. In this case he either struck or attempted to strike an opponent which has a direct free kick or penalty kick restart. The referee must have deemed that the action was reckless which is a caution as opposed to the use of excessive force which is a sending off offence.
I recall a few season ago in a Women's game where on a long punt forward the goalkeeper misjudged her position and caught the ball outside the penalty area. The opponent looked for the player to be sent off yet the goalkeeper did not deny a goal by her action nor did she deny an opponent a goal scoring opportunity. It was simply an error in judgement which was punished by a direct free kick only. Now there can be plenty of times when the action is patently unsporting and the goalkeeper uses her hand/s say to touch away the ball from an opponent outside the area. Where that is a clear denial of a goal scoring opportunity that is a sending off offence.
A word of advice. The particular law is not based on the last man and that factor should not be used in isolation from other factors such as position on the field of play, direction of play and control of the ball. Nor should a foul by a goalkeeper outside the penalty area always result in a sending off. For instance a foul could be committed near the corner flag by the last defender / goalkeeper yet there is no obvious goal scoring opportunity nor is there a clear opportunity when the attacking team does not have the ball nor likely to gain possession so nothing has been denied.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The keeper might have been sent off for striking the opponent with the elbow. But, there is no send off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity by an offense punishable by a free kick.

Despite the common player's name for the offense, 'last man' is not enough for a send off. The referee must judge several factors to determine whether the fouled player would have likely scored a goal but for the foul. When the keeper is holding the ball, that possibility is nearly zero.

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

Without seeing it, I cannot say. It all depends on the nature of the offense. Was it with excessive force? Or was it just reckless? The possibility of DOGSO would only apply if the attacker had an obvious goal scoring opportunity, but it sounds as if keeper had ball here. So not a possibility.

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Answer provided by Referee James Sowa


In this scenario it is irrelevant that the keeper is the last man. He has possession of the ball so no scoring opportunity can be denied. That said, the keeper should have been sent of for Violent Conduct because of the elbow. Since this elbow occurred inside the penalty area, the goalkeeper is guilty of striking an opponent which is a direct free kick foul. A direct free kick foul in the area becomes a penalty kick. So the result of the play should have been a penalty and a sendoff for violent conduct.

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