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Question Number: 32505

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 6/11/2018

RE: Competitive Under 19

Salvador Flores of Indianapolis, IN Usa asks...

If a keeper has the ball in his hands and he is about to kick the ball, but right next is an opponent and he clearly interferes with the goalkeeper by kicking the ball and the keeper from the momentum of kicking the ball, kicks the opponent from the action that the opponent did, by kicking the ball right before the keeper kicked it, could you sent the keeer off or caution him depending on the severity of the kick?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Salvador
No that is not possible. The offender is the opponent who has knowingly placed himself in a position that is an offence under the Laws and as a result he has to accept the consequences of his illegal action.
It is for such reasons that it is an offence under the Laws and the attacker can be cautioned for unsporting behaviour.
Now having said that if the referee deems that the action of the goalkeeper deliberately created the situation then the referee could take action against the GK although he would have to be 110% certain that the action was contrived to deliberately kick the attacker rather than the ball. Clearly it would be a serious offence if the goalkeeper came out with the ball and was seen to kick an opponent deliberately and tried to make it look like he was kicking the ball. That should be obvious to the referee and it is highly unlikely.
In your example that has not happened as the attacker has committed the offence by attempting to kick the ball while the GK is punting it. In that instance it is a foul by the attacker and a caution for USB. I suspect that both player could be injured in such a situation.
Indeed if the action of the attacker was of a nature that he endangered the safety of the goalkeeper with raised cleats into the kicking boot then the attacker would be sent off for serious foul play. It would be akin to an attacker who goes across to challenge an opponent on a bouncing ball and he raises his boot with cleats showing into the path of the opponents kicking action. That is a very dangerous play endangering the safety of an opponent which is a red card offence.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Salvador,

So just so I'm clear, while the keeper is dropping the ball to kick it, an opponent kicks the ball while it's in the air, and the keeper kicks the opponent instead of the ball.

First off, attackers cannot interfere with the keeper's release - and the keeper is still considered to be in possession while dropping the ball to punt it out.

There's no particular mandatory caution here, but I'd argue it definitely should be a caution. Because the attacker isn't allowed to kick the ball, the keeper isn't expecting a challenge. Thus, sticking a foot in while a keeper is naturally taking a big kick - when you're not allowed to stick the foot in - is quite dangerous, it's a highly blatant foul, and the nature of the action is quite inflammatory. So, a caution should be issued here. And even if the keeper is considered to commit a foul as well, the attacker fouled first so the free kick will be in the favour of the defence.

Now, can the keeper be cautioned for the contact? Unlikely. The keeper's taking a swing, not expecting a foot to appear there - usually it wouldn't be his fault the contact is made. Unlike any 'general play' scenario, the keeper also has no reason to consider the possibility of a challenge given one would be illegal. So it's hard to argue that the keeper has acted without due regard for the opponents.

There might be a scenario where it appears the keeper has chosen to kick the attacker (even though 'intent' isn't in the laws) - for instance, the attacker kicks the ball before the keeper even starts the swing, the referee might consider that the keeper had ample time to respond but chose to kick the attacker anyway. Unlikely, but I suppose it might be possible. However, it goes back to the fact that the keeper isn't expecting a challenge - and the keeper also won't be looking down, but will be looking upfield. So there's every chance the keeper either doesn't know the ball has been taken, or has no chance to react because he's already commenced his kick. Note that considerations are a little different for an outfield player who can be legally challenged.

So I'd argue that unless there's a really clear indication the kick was deliberate by the keeper - say, the referee is certain the keeper saw the attacker's leg, had ample time to react but chose to kick him, then no action should be taken against the keeper. What makes an offence by the keeper even less likely is that it's all going to happen in a few moments - if the keeper has had time to hesitate, think about it and lash out anyway, then the attacker's foot would probably be well out of the way!!
So, I could imagine an extremely unlikely scenario where action against the keeper may be warranted, but I've never seen nor heard of it actually occurring.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Salvador,
As you describe it, this should be a free kick to the goalkeeper's side and possibly a caution for the attacker, depending on how egregious or dangerous the referee judges the forward's actions to have been. In almost no scenario that I can imagine or have ever seen, would it be appropriate to penalise the keeper.

Now, as my colleagues have pointed out, there could theoretically be a situation where the keeper, after the initial offence by the attacker, might deliberately modify their kicking action in order to make contact with the opponent in an obvious and blatant manner but that would be both highly unusual and highly unlikely.

However, if all that happens is that the keeper's natural kicking momentum causes their foot to make contact with the attacker because of the way the attacker has illegally stuck their foot in to prevent the goalkeeper releasing the ball, the only player being penalised should be the attacker.

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