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Question Number: 30051

Law 5 - The Referee 1/26/2016

RE: Select Under 14

Brad of Plymouth, Michigan United States asks...

My team was playing Futsal and my GK took a hard shot from close range to the face and went to ground. Referee allowed play to continue. After about 4-5 seconds GK rose up again, with one closed eye. I kept yelling to referee 'Goalie is down, stop play!' but he did not until ball went out of play (approximately 10-15 seconds after initial contact). He stopped play, we checked on GK, and he then continued playing (but with a nice welt on his cheek).

I immediately spoke with the referee before play restarted and stated 'I'm not trying to be critical, but that should have been in immediate stoppage of play due to the keeper being injured.' He responded 'That is not the rule in Futsal.'

This was a good and knowledgeable referee other than this one interpretation. I have been taught that LOTG application is to stop play for an injured GK, and I thought it puzzling that Futsal would be different. I have since looked at both LOTG and Futsal LOTG and their sections on application of Law 3 read almost identically. It is noteworthy that I cannot find specific guidance regarding stopping play for an injured keeper, other than 'Exceptions to this ruling are to be made only when: *a goalkeeper is injured...'

So my questions:
1) Are Soccer and Futsal LOTG consistent on this point of stopping play when a keeper goes down? and
2) What is/are the applications of this? Do I stop play for a (not seriously) injured keeper, or do I allow play to continue?

(Note--I would separately argue that play should have stopped due to an apparently serious injury, but I accept that this is ITOOTR and it is clear in hindsight that the player was not 'seriously injured'). Note--GK is my own son and was fine other than than a swollen cheek.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Brad
There is no specific rule for a goalkeeper injury and you have been misguided. Goalkeepers are treated the same as any other player in the Laws of the Game both inside and outside with the one exception that he does not have to leave the field of play for treatment. Common practise has been to stop play in instances of goalkeeper injuries in the spirit of sportsmanship which has nothing to do with the nature of the injuries.
Now the referee has to decide if an injury is serious or not and in what way it should be treated. Clearly head knocks involving players should be treated immediately. A ball to the head has to be a judgement call. I once got a sore shot to the side of the head in a game and play continued. No one was too bothered about my well being and it was sore yet in a player situation not enough to stop play either. On other injuries it is a matter of opinion.
Let me pose this scenario. Forward is through on goal and the goalkeeper runs out and say takes a shot of the ball in the groin. GK lies down in pain. Does the referee stop play to deal with the injury or allow play to continue? What is to stop any player laying down *injured* in the expectation that play must be stopped? Over the years I have had many dubious injury situations and I had to make a call on each. Some were just cramp and no need to stop play. I had an outfield player berate me at the end of last season because he got hit with the ball on the head and I continued to the next stoppage. IMO it was not serious and if it were he would not have shown that he was capable of continuing. He did not exhibit any sign of disorientation or going to ground. Sore yes but no need to stop immediately. I once had a player get a shot of a ball to the head and I saw that he was immediately disorientated and unsteady so I stopped play instantly. He told me that his sight was slightly blurred and he was removed promptly by the physio. So it is a judgement call based on what is presented.
In your situation a shot yo the race, instant reaction and then the goalkeeper gets up focussed on the game. While I was not there it does not read like it was a must stop situation and that is supported fully in Law.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

The LOTG is the same for both Futsal and outdoor here - but the referee needs to consider the smaller pitch of Futsal and the fact that a player on the ground is much more likely to be in the way.
The law only requires play to be stopped in the case of a serious injury.
No particular requirement for immediate stoppage if the keeper goes down - so on one hand, the referee would want to consider the unique, critical nature of the keeper role and be faster to stop play, but on the other hand it would be unfair to the attacking team to stop play immediately if the keeper doesn't get up straight away; that approach would only be encouraging keepers to stay down if the attacker still has the ball. I've allowed a goal that was scored within a second or two of the keeper going down and staying down - I still disagree with my assessor's opinion of that decision!
So the referee needs to find a balance here. A potential head injury should certainly lead the referee towards stopping play much faster, but there's a difference between a head and a face injury.
In the scenario you described if one team is still attacking I'd probably allow that to resolve, but if that attack breaks down or slows right down I'd be starting to consider stopping play.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Brad,
In both indoor Futsal LOTG v and outdoor FIFA LOTG the term ITOOTR (in the opinion of the referee) is the only true consideration in incidents where an injury to a player which INCLUDES the keeper MAY have occurred is will the referee see it as serious thus stop play or allow play to continue.

Possible head trauma are indeed injuries to be concerned about. IF play was stopped for the injury, the keeper is treated on the FOP as the team must have a functioning keeper in place before play could restart. The only times a player can be treated on the FOP is if he is injured in a collision with the keeper or his own player or the injury is life threatening.

You stop play if ITOOTR the keeper/player is in distress. You can see if he is inattentive, unresponsive, clearly in obvious disabling pain, blood present aka nose bleed, If you witnessed the injury the speed, angle, mass and physics, who or what is involved is speaking to your subconscious as to forming an opinion.

Although I stop play for ANY obvious serious injury to anyone, admittedly I have cautionary stoppages for head trauma because I can not see inside as to how badly a knock could have affected the keeper or player. I rely on their outward appearance as to continue and just how powerful was that impact. YOU OK? Can you continue? might be yelled out.

I will also speculate on the circumstances of a shot that say glances off the face then gets deposited into the goal on the ensuing rebound and play. The ability to score the goal is not necessarily due to the ball glancing off the face so much as the attack is simply successful. If the ball had smashed him directly I see head snapped , blood from nose on a 130KPH shot whistle goes I have medics on their way in before the ball is put into the goal off that rebound.

It is as my colleagues point out a judgement call! You get what you get based on the referee seeing what he sees from where he is and what he thinks is required to be done!

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