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Question Number: 31933

Law 16 - The Goal Kick 10/24/2017

RE: Competetive Adult

Arthur Adams of Massapequa , NY USA asks...

I understand the laws on a goal kick to be that when a goal kick is taken it must leave the penalty area completely in order for it to be back in play. Does the law also state that it must "re-enter the field of play"? Would entering the field of play constitute striking another player or the ground? The reason I ask is this: I recently had a play where a keeper kicked the goal kick into a stiff wind which blew the kick back into the penalty area (it had left the penalty area but never struck ground or another player) on a clean fly. Attackers were rushing in to challenge for the ball and the keeper jumped up and caught the ball. As it stands, if the ball must "enter the field of play" for it to be back in play then I see nothing wrong with the keeper catching the ball in this instance as it never re-entered the field of play, and the goal kick could be retaken. If the law states only that the ball must "leave the penalty area", well then it seems the keeper handling the ball in this instance should result in an indirect free kick to the opposing team. Is this correct?

Follow up: Can the same be applied on a punt? The keeper has released the ball back into play when it leaves his hands AND re-enters the field of play? The reason I ask is some keepers toss the ball up in the air and catch it again" or bounce it on the ground. Technically, physically it leaves their hands but cant really be deemed as having re-entered the field of play. What is the law on this? Can a keeper punt into a stiff wind and catch the ball again if a brutal wind blows it back into his area without it re-entering the field of play?

Bonus question: is an attacking team allowed to change the side where they take a corner kick from, or does the kick have to be taken from the side of the goal where it crosses the goal line?

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Arthur,

I think you're over thinking this.

The laws simply state that the ball is not in play until it has wholly left the penalty area.
Whether it leaves the PA then is blown back in isn't relevant for this part. It left the PA, thus is in play. At that point, whatever happens is treated like normal play (except for the restriction that an own goal cannot be directly scored and the kicker cannot touch the ball again).

In your case, as you say the ball left the PA. There is no requirement for the ball to touch the ground or another player. As such, the keeper committed an IFK offence by touching the ball again before another player touched it. The fact that he handled it doesn't really matter, given it's an IFK either way.

For a punt, the laws state that the keeper cannot handle the ball after he's released it. Stiff wind blows it back to him? Tough luck - should have played it along the ground.

Tossing the ball in the air, or bouncing it, is considered to be still within the keeper's possession - which also means it can't be kicked/headed away while this is happening.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Arthur
Terminology is important. Enter or re enter the field of play refers to players. The penalty area is part of the the field if play. What you mean is the ball being IN PLAY or out of play. On a goal kick all of the ball must cross all of the penalty area line to be in play. That includes breaking the plane of the line in the air. Once it breaks the line the ball is in play.
Now in the situation where the ball exits the penalty area fully and crosses back into the penalty area the ball is in play and the goalkeeper cannot touch the ball for a second time until it has been played / touched by another player. Should he do so it is an IDFK for a double touch from where the second touch occured.
On a punt the ball is already in play inside the penalty area so the ball does not have to leave the area to be in play. Again the goalkeeper cannot touch the ball, once in his control / possession, after he releases it into play either by throwing it down, kicking it etc until it has been touched by sn opponent or by a team mate in a way that allows the use of the hands such as a header, chesting, kneeing etc.
Again if the ball is punted, it comes back to the goalkeeper he cannot use his hands to play the ball. To do so is an IDFK for touching the ball with the hands after releasing it and before it has touched another player. Tossing up, bouncing the ball are not release of possession under the Laws so in those instance play just continues.
On a corner kick the the kick is taken from the side closest to where the ball left the field of play. If it is exactly in the middle the referee can decide what side the restart should be on and perhaps the side closest where the ball ends up may be the most expedient.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

You may have been thinking of the requirement that the ball cannot go out of play over the goal line when it exits the penalty area. I believe the Laws use words similar to 'into the field of play' which is what this means. If it was kicked over the goal line between the goalpost and the edge of the PA, it was never in play and the kick should be retaken. Same thing if it goes into the goal or over the crossbar - never in play, retake.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Arthur,
Law 16 - The Goal Kick, does not say that the ball must enter the field of play, it simply says:

''The ball is in play when it leaves the penalty area''

There is nothing about entering (or re-entering) the field of play. So as soon as the ball has completely crossed the penalty area line it is in play (with the obvious understanding that if it crosses the end line it has then gone out of play).

So it doesn't matter if the ball was in the air when it crossed the line and then blows back into the penalty area, it still counts as being in play and you are right that in this case, if the keeper catches the ball it would result in an indirect free kick.

A goalkeeper punt is a totally different matter - the ball is not out of play in this scenario. It is both in play and in the control of the keeper and it doesn't alter things if they throw the ball up or bounce it, since the law says that:

''A goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball when: [...] bouncing it on the ground or throwing it in the air.''

However if the keeper then releases the ball by kicking it into the air and it blows back to them, they cannot touch it again with the hands unless it has touched another player first. The law states that:

''An indirect free kick is awarded if a goalkeeper, inside their penalty area,commits any of the following offences: [...]
- touches the ball with the hands after:
- releasing it and before it has touched another player''

On a corner kick, the team may not change the side on which they take the kick, it has to be taken from the corner area nearest where it left the field - you may be confusing this with a goal kick, which can be taken from anywhere inside the goal area.

Incidentally, since you mention that you are a referee I would respectfully suggest that if you are not sure about the wording of the law (as you seem to say several times in your question) then a good place to start is by looking at your copy of the Laws of the Game to check exactly what it says.

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